Bahrain Catholic cathedral to be consecrated on Dec. 10

Special Bahrain Catholic cathedral to be consecrated on Dec. 10
Our Lady of Arabia, Bahrain, nearing completion. (Twitter Photo)
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Updated 30 November 2021

Bahrain Catholic cathedral to be consecrated on Dec. 10

Bahrain Catholic cathedral to be consecrated on Dec. 10
  • The ark-shaped structure, which seats 2,300 people, will be the largest Catholic cathedral in the Gulf region
  • It was built on a plot of land that was given eight years ago to the church by Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, who has been king of Bahrain since 2002

VATICAN CITY: A new Catholic cathedral in Bahrain, Our Lady of Arabia, will be consecrated on Dec. 10 by the prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle.

The ark-shaped structure, which seats 2,300 people, will be the largest Catholic cathedral in the Gulf region. 

It was built on a plot of land that was given eight years ago to the church by Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, who has been king of Bahrain since 2002. The king will inaugurate the cathedral on Dec. 9.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only a small number of people will be allowed to attend the inaugural ceremony and consecration.

The cathedral is part of a complex of around 95,000 square feet in Awali, a small municipality in the center of the country, which has a population of 1.7 million people.

Aside from the cathedral, the palm tree-lined complex features a multipurpose building, a courtyard, and a two-story parking area.

The cathedral’s altar, baptistery, pews and other furnishings are crafted in Italy. 

The cathedral is topped with an octagonal dome, a deeply symbolic geometric detail that can be seen in a number of churches around the world such as the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy, and Germany’s Aachen Cathedral.

King Hamad personally presented a detailed three-foot-long model of the cathedral to Pope Francis in 2014.

In 2011, the Vatican officially proclaimed Our Lady of Arabia as the Catholic patron saint of the vicariates of Kuwait and Arabia.

Later that year, the Holy See reorganized the Vicariate of Kuwait, giving it the new name of the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia, and including the territories of Qatar, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.

The inauguration of the cathedral follows King Hamad’s official invitation to the pope to visit Bahrain.

Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa, the king’s adviser for diplomatic affairs, personally delivered the invitation when he met Pope Francis and Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin on Nov. 25.

Vatican statistics estimate that there are nearly 80,000 Catholics living in Bahrain, mostly from the Philippines and India.


Rockets hit central Baghdad for second day in escalating unrest

Rockets hit central Baghdad for second day in escalating unrest
Updated 11 sec ago

Rockets hit central Baghdad for second day in escalating unrest

Rockets hit central Baghdad for second day in escalating unrest
BAGHDAD: Four rockets fired from eastern Baghdad on Thursday landed around the Iraqi capital’s Green Zone, home to government buildings and foreign missions, police said, as political unrest intensified.
There were no immediate reports of casualties from the strikes and no claim of responsibility, two police officers said. A number of Shiite Muslim militant groups have offices and supporters in eastern Baghdad.
A similar attack on Wednesday wounded seven members of the Iraqi security forces in the Green Zone, and appeared to add a new dimension to a contest among power-hungry politicians.
Rocket attacks on the Green Zone have been regular in recent years but they are normally directed at Western targets by Iran-backed militia groups.
Those attacks have been rare in recent months. Wednesday’s attack took place as parliament was holding a vote to confirm its speaker.
The political crisis has left Iraq without a government for nearly a year after elections last October.
The crisis broadly pits the powerful populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr, a political, religious and militia leader, against an array of mostly Iran-aligned political and militant groups.
Sadr, the biggest winner of the election, withdrew all his lawmakers from parliament in June and has sworn not to let parliament convene, fearing other parties will form a government without him.
The standoff spiralled into street clashes killing dozens of people in central Baghdad in August. Many Iraqis fear the same could happen again.

Kuwait’s military receives third batch of Eurofighter Typhoon jets

Kuwait’s military receives third batch of Eurofighter Typhoon jets
Updated 45 min 19 sec ago

Kuwait’s military receives third batch of Eurofighter Typhoon jets

Kuwait’s military receives third batch of Eurofighter Typhoon jets

DUBAI: Kuwait’s military said it received two more Eurofighter Typhoon Tranche 3 jets, making it the third batch out of a total of 28 aircrafts the country has ordered, Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported.
The jets, one of the latest multi-role fighters, characterized by electronic warfare and high-speed response capabilities, aim to enhance the combat readiness of the Kuwait Air Force, the air force said in a statement.
The jets that Kuwait has received so far have achieved 100 flying hours, the statement added.
A ceremony was held at the Ali Al-Salem Al-Sabah Air Base to mark the aircraft’s landing, according to KUNA.


Yemen condemns attacks by Iran on Iraq’s Kurdistan region

Yemen condemns attacks by Iran on Iraq’s Kurdistan region
Updated 57 min 38 sec ago

Yemen condemns attacks by Iran on Iraq’s Kurdistan region

Yemen condemns attacks by Iran on Iraq’s Kurdistan region
  • Iraq’s state agency reported 58 injuries as a result of the attacks

DUBAI: Yemen’s government has condemned the attacks carried out by Iran on Iraq’s Kurdistan region, which has seen 13 reported deaths.

Yemen has accused Iran of targeting ‘security and stability in the region in a miserable attempt to create an external crisis for internal reasons’, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ statement released on state agency SABA.
It also said the Iranian regime ‘seeks to veer attention off the renewing revolution’ by the Iranian people against the government in Tehran.
“In this regard, the Yemeni government is following with great concern the excessive use of force and brutal repression by the Iranian regime against the brotherly Iranian people, and affirms its support for the people and their aspirations to achieve their legitimate rights to freedom, dignity and equal citizenship,” the statement added.
Iraq’s state agency reported 58 injuries as a result of the attacks, which occurred near Irbil and Sulaimaniya in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Iran launched the attacks after the country’s authorities accused armed Iranian Kurdish dissidents of being involved in the unrest currently shaking the country, especially in the northwest.


Former Iranian president Rafsanjani’s daughter arrested for ‘inciting riots’

Former Iranian president Rafsanjani’s daughter arrested for ‘inciting riots’
Updated 59 min 29 sec ago

Former Iranian president Rafsanjani’s daughter arrested for ‘inciting riots’

Former Iranian president Rafsanjani’s daughter arrested for ‘inciting riots’
  • Iranian government had been referring to the protests for the past days as ‘riots’ and ‘sedition’ to suppress them

DUBAI: Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has been arrested in Tehran by security forces for ‘inciting riots’ that were triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while on police custody.

Before her arrest, Hashemi had said that the Iranian government has been referring to the protests for the past days as ‘riots’ and ‘sedition’ to suppress them, was used as the basis for her detention, news website Radio Farda reported.

Amini, who is Kurdish, was visiting Tehran with her family to visit relatives when she was accosted by the notorious morality police for allegedly breaching Iran’s strict dress code – including wearing of the hijab or head covering – and eventually arrested.

Her relatives claimed the beatings Amini received from the morality police, including a violent blow to the head that caused her death.

“What [authorities] want to convey is that these are not protests, they’re riots, but in fact they are protests,” Radio Farda quoted Hashemi in an audio recording it obtained.

“Those who have seen the protests know that, for example, if the youth set fire to garbage cans, it’s because the [security forces] have used tear gas and they want to neutralize it; or when they beat a member of the security forces it’s because they have been attacked and they’re defending themselves,” she said.

Meanwhile, hundreds of academics issued an open letter urging feminist communities to join them in building transnational solidarity with women and marginalized groups in Iran.

The letter was signed by academics including those from universities in Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia who said that the death of Amini was ‘among many other state murders committed systemically and purposefully by the gender-apartheid regime of Iran.’

“This country-wide revolt is against not only the brutal murder of Mahsa but also the essence of the Islamic regime,” the letter said. “The demand is loud and clear: an end to a theocratic regime whose multi-faceted violence against marginalized bodies is manifested in Mahsa’s death.”


Imprisoned Palestinian-French human rights lawyer begins hunger strike

Imprisoned Palestinian-French human rights lawyer begins hunger strike
Updated 28 September 2022

Imprisoned Palestinian-French human rights lawyer begins hunger strike

Imprisoned Palestinian-French human rights lawyer begins hunger strike
  • Salah Hamouri is protesting against his detention, which is based on evidence he is not allowed to see and has been extended until at least December
  • Israeli authorities transferred Hamouri to a maximum-security prison in July after he wrote a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron asking for help

LONDON: Palestinian-French human rights lawyer Salah Hamouri, who has been imprisoned without charge by Israeli authorities for six months, has gone on hunger strike in protest.

Hamouri was arrested on March 7 at his home in East Jerusalem. No charges have been filed against him but his detention order has been extended until at least early December based on undisclosed evidence, The Guardian reported.

A member of the #JusticeforSalah campaign told the newspaper that negotiations with Israeli authorities on Wednesday for the lawyer’s release were unsuccessful.

Hamouri, along with 29 other detainees in Israeli prisons, reportedly began an indefinite hunger strike on Sunday to protest against administrative detention. This is an Israeli practice, commonly used against Palestinians who are subject to the military justice system rather than civil justice, under which suspects can be detained for renewable six-month terms without charge or any access to the evidence against them, on the grounds that they might break the law in future in released.

Israeli authorities say the practice is necessary to prevent terrorist attacks and protect sensitive intelligence sources. However, human rights campaigners argue that Israeli authorities use it excessively and it violates the right of suspects to due process

Israel is currently holding 743 administrative detainees, the highest number since 2008, according to Israeli human rights group HaMoked.

In July, 37-year-old Hamouri was transferred to a maximum-security prison called Hadarim, where he was placed in a tiny isolation cell. It came after he wrote a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron asking for the help of the French government, according to #JusticeforSalah.

His wife, French national Elsa Lefort, and their two children, who live in France, have been prevented from visiting or even speaking to Hamouri on the telephone since his arrest.

Hamouri has been imprisoned by Israel a number of times, including a seven-year sentence between 2005 and 2011 for his alleged role in an assassination plot against a chief rabbi.

While he maintained his innocence throughout three years of pretrial detention, he eventually accepted a plea bargain to avoid a 14-year jail sentence or deportation to France, which would have probably have resulted in him losing his Israeli-issued right to residency in Jerusalem.

In 2016, Lefort, who was pregnant at the time, was deported after arriving at Tel Aviv’s airport and barred from entering Israel for 10 years.

Hammouri’s Jerusalem residency rights were revoked in October 2021. The reason given was a “breach of allegiance” to the Israeli state, based on undisclosed evidence. This was a legal first, according to the Guardian. The residency case is due to be heard again in February next year.

“Salah has never stopped being vocal about the occupation. He is always speaking at events in France and tours, talking about the conditions of political prisoners and other violations,” a spokesperson for #JusticeforSalah told the Guardian.

“Treating him like this is a way to try and silence him, to break him, and send a message to other human rights defenders.”

In recent years, several Palestinians have gone on long-term hunger strikes to protest against their administrative detention. In most cases, Israel eventually released them after their health deteriorated significantly.

The most recent high-profile Palestinian hunger striker was Khalil Awawdeh, who was at risk of dying and suffered neurological damage as a result of a near-six-month hunger strike. He ended his protest in August after Israel agreed to release him when his current administrative detention order expires.