Iranian animal lovers decry proposal to ban pets

An Iranian woman plays with her dog in a yard near her house in northern Tehran, on December 5, 2021. (AFP)
An Iranian woman plays with her dog in a yard near her house in northern Tehran, on December 5, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 12 December 2021

Iranian animal lovers decry proposal to ban pets

An Iranian woman plays with her dog in a yard near her house in northern Tehran, on December 5, 2021. (AFP)

TEHRAN: “No, my cat is not dangerous,” says Iranian animal lover Mostafa, outraged by a proposal from ultraconservative lawmakers to ban pets.

The 25-year-old, who runs a pet supplies shop on busy Eskandari Street in downtown Tehran, is stunned.
“Crocodiles can be called dangerous, but how can rabbits, dogs and cats be dangerous?” he asked incredulously about the bill introduced a month ago.




An Iranian woman poses for a picture with her dog at a park in the capital Tehran, on December 7, 2021. (AFP)


The proposed law pits growing numbers of people with pets against those who consider the practice decadent.
According to media reports, 75 MPs, or one quarter of parliamentarians, recently signed a text entitled “Support for the rights of the population in relation to harmful and dangerous animals”.
In their introduction, the authors condemn the practice of humans living under one roof with domesticated animals as a “destructive social problem”.
The phenomenon, they explain, could “gradually change the Iranian and Islamic way of life” by “replacing human and family relationships with feelings and emotional relationships towards animals”.
The proposed law would prohibit “importing, raising, assisting in the breeding of, breeding, buying or selling, transporting, driving or walking, and keeping in the home wild, exotic, harmful and dangerous animals”.
It lists the animals to be banned as “crocodiles, turtles, snakes, lizards, cats, mice, rabbits, dogs and other unclean animals as well as monkeys.”
Offenders would risk a fine equivalent to 10 to 30 times the “minimum monthly working wage” of about $98 and the “confiscation” of the animal.
In addition, vehicles used to transport the animal would be confiscated for three months.
While Iran is engaged in difficult negotiations on its nuclear program and enduring a painful economic downturn because of US sanctions, the bill has sparked criticism in the press, mockery on social networks and anger among residents of the capital.
“These projects will certainly cause chaos, corruption and collective disobedience to this law because... living with animals is now a cultural phenomenon,” warned the reformist daily Shargh.




An Iranian woman walks her dog in a park in the capital Tehran. (AFP)


Some internet users reacted with irony and sarcasm.
“How many times have cats sought to devour you so that you consider them wild, harmful and dangerous?” journalist Yeganeh Khodami asked on Twitter.
Another posted a photo of his kitten with the message: “I have renamed my cat ‘Criminal’ since I heard this proposed law.”
An actress who asked to remain anonymous said she had planned a demonstration against the pet ban plan in front of parliament but then dropped the idea because of pressure on her.
In the face of the public outcry, few parliamentarians are willing to strongly defend the bill.
“I agree with the project in general, but I certainly disagree with some of its clauses,” said the head of parliament’s judicial commission, Moussa Ghazanfarabadi, who signed the text.
“It is just a bill, but whether it succeeds is another matter,” he told AFP.
Another lawmaker from Tehran, the environmentalist Somayeh Rifiei, said she believes that a law is needed on which animals can be kept, and which cannot.
“No one can deny the services that animals provide to humans, but this area must be regulated,” she said. “That is the basis of social life.”
She said that, aside from the pet ban bill, “the government has drafted a bill that gives special attention to biodiversity and wildlife. It deals with both animal rights and human rights.
“Basically, I would prefer to see this bill on the agenda rather than a proposal that focuses only on criminalisation.”
On Eskandari Street, vendors fear the consequences of any such law.
“It might destroy thousands of jobs,” said Mohsen, 34.
His wife Mina, said she was more worried about her dog.
“Why should I imprison him at home?” she said of her canine companion. “The MPs probably assume that young couples today don’t have children because they have a pet dog, but that’s stupid.
“It’s not the dogs but the economic conditions that don’t allow us to have children,” she added.
“At one time they banned satellite television, yet people continued to use it, but with fear and anxiety. People will keep their animals at home to protect them.”


Canada celebrates political icon ‘Hurricane Hazel’, aged 101

Hazel McCallion, 101, was recently reappointed to the board of Canada's largest airport. (AFP)
Hazel McCallion, 101, was recently reappointed to the board of Canada's largest airport. (AFP)
Updated 21 May 2022

Canada celebrates political icon ‘Hurricane Hazel’, aged 101

Hazel McCallion, 101, was recently reappointed to the board of Canada's largest airport. (AFP)
  • She also played on a professional women’s hockey team for two seasons, losing two teeth while earning Can$5 ($4) per match, which she described as “a princely sum in those days”

TORONTO, Canada: Hazel McCallion, 101, was recently reappointed to the board of Canada’s largest airport as she forges ahead with a career that has included being a city mayor for 36 years and playing professional hockey.
Her tenacity earned her the nickname “Hurricane Hazel.”
“I don’t know how it came about (that) they call me ‘Hurricane Hazel,’” she said in an interview with AFP at a Mississauga, Ontario exhibit celebrating her life, adding with a boisterous laugh: “I know I move quickly.”

And nothing seems to stop her. Throughout her long life, she says she followed the mantra: work hard and be prepared.

“Hard work never killed anybody, my mother told me that,” she said. “If you want to go anywhere you have to work hard.”
Born in 1921, in Port Daniel, Quebec, Hazel is the youngest of five children. Her father worked in the fishing industry while her mother was a nurse.
She left the family farm at age 16 to continue her education, before taking up secretarial work during the Second World War at a Montreal engineering firm.
She also played on a professional women’s hockey team for two seasons, losing two teeth while earning Can$5 ($4) per match, which she described as “a princely sum in those days.”
In 1951, she married Sam McCallion with whom she had three children.
“She wasn’t always there, but she was there when she needed to be,” recalled her son Peter McCallion, describing her as a “wonderful” grandmother to her only granddaughter.

Inspired by former Ottawa mayor Charlotte Whitton — the first female mayor of a major Canadian city — and Margaret Thatcher, she entered politics in the 1960s.
In 1978, she won the mayoralty of Mississauga on the shores of Lake Ontario, neighboring Toronto — helped at the polls by her refusal to be baited by her opponent’s sexist remarks during the campaign.
Today, she spurns questions on gender and politics. “It has not been difficult at all. I have been supported by men both in business and in politics,” she said, adding that she’s been “fortunate.”
McCallion has left an indelible mark on Mississauga, which has dramatically changed over the past decades as it grew to become Canada’s seventh largest city.
She had been in office only a few months when a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in a populated area of the city, and erupted in flames.
McCallion gained a national profile for managing the mass evacuation of 220,000 residents, in which nobody died or was seriously injured.
“To live a happy life you have to be very positive and you have to feel that you’re contributing. You can’t think of ‘me’ all the time,” she says, explaining her commitment to public service.
She would be re-elected 11 more times to lead the city of Mississauga, making her one of Canada’s longest serving mayors.
According to Tom Urbaniak, author of a book on Mississauga under her watch, her longevity in politics is due to her strong personality and accessibility, but also “her down-to-Earth populism” and outspokenness.
“Hazel McCallion leans toward conservatism but she is extremely pragmatic,” said the Cape Breton University professor, who noted her support for political parties of all stripes.
The self-described “builder” was voted most popular mayor, before retiring three years later at age 93.
A stamp collector, McCallion says she enjoys gardening and making videos for charitable causes, and keeps up with the news, wearing a yellow and blue ribbon on her lapel to show support for Ukraine at war.
“I’ve lived one hundred years and I’ve never felt so negative about what is happening in the world today,” she laments. “It’s very disturbing.”


Rangers fan found ‘safe and sound’ after going missing for 36 hours in Seville

Rangers fan found ‘safe and sound’ after going missing for 36 hours in Seville
Updated 20 May 2022

Rangers fan found ‘safe and sound’ after going missing for 36 hours in Seville

Rangers fan found ‘safe and sound’ after going missing for 36 hours in Seville
  • Gordon Smith, 42, disappeared after Scottish side’s defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in Europa League final
  • Sister thanks fans ‘and Scotland as a whole’ for helping find her missing brother

DUBAI: A Rangers fan who went missing for nearly 36 hours after Wednesday’s Europa League final in Seville has been found.
Gordon Smith, 42, became separated from his brother Craig, 23, after going to the toilet at a fan zone at about 11 pm, soon after his team had been beaten by Eintracht Frankfurt in the Spanish city.
According to media reports, after waiting for several hours, the younger sibling, from Renfrewshire, went searching for his brother but was unable to track him down.
When the missing man failed to make contact with any of his family members, his sister, Danielle Ashleigh Smith, took to social media to appeal to Rangers supporters to help find him.
She told the media that her brother had not returned to the fan zone and that bags containing the brothers’ passports, money and phones had been stolen.
“Their belongings were stolen at some point in the early hours from Craig,” she said.
Smith described her brother’s disappearance as “out of character” and said at the time she was concerned for his safety.
But on Friday afternoon, she posted on Facebook that the missing sibling had been found “safe and sound” at 11 a.m. that morning.
“He’s safe and en route to some accommodation,” she said.
She also expressed her gratitude at the response she received to her social media plea, saying that several people had offered help with money, accommodation and even flights.
“The support shown from not only Rangers fans but Celtic fans and Scotland as a whole has been amazing and I am proud this is my country,” she wrote.
News reports said a Seville resident had helped liaise with police during the search for Smith.
Younger brother Craig was now preparing to fly home after contacting his family and being issued with emergency travel papers, the reports said.


Former Moroccan footballer dies after daredevil cliff jump

Former Moroccan footballer dies after daredevil cliff jump
Updated 19 May 2022

Former Moroccan footballer dies after daredevil cliff jump

Former Moroccan footballer dies after daredevil cliff jump
  • Murad Lamrabette, formerly of Dutch club SBV Vitesse, dies during family holiday in Majorca
  • Lamrabette’s wife recorded 31-year-old’s ill-fated stunt on video that went viral

DUBAI: A Moroccan former footballer leapt to his death while performing a daredevil jump whilst on a family holiday in Spain.
Media reports identified the man as 31-year-old Murad Lamrabette, who played for Dutch club SBV Vitesse’s U23 team in the 2010/2011 Eredivisie season, as well as other professional football clubs in Holland.
Lamrabette died in front of his two children and wife, who filmed him as he attempted to perform a “tombstone” stunt from a 30-meter high cliff during the family’s vacation in Majorca.
The 31-year-old miscalculated his jump, and drowned after hitting a rock and falling into the water below unconscious, said reports.
His wife could be heard shouting “oh my god” as she recorded the stunt in a 14-second video that later went viral across social media and news platforms.
Spanish authorities carried out an autopsy, the results of which indicated that Lamrabatte died from drowning, rather than injuries caused by the impact of hitting the rock.
Reports added that authorities had yet to interview his wife as she was too traumatized by the incident.
After retiring from football, Lamrabatte retrained and became a kickboxing coach.
His former club posted an obituary on its website, and tweeted: “Vitesse has received the sad news that Murad Lamrabatte has passed away. The former attacker of Jong Vitesse has just turned 31. We wish family and friends a lot of strength.”


Former US President George W. Bush’s freudian slip sees him confuse ‘wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq’ with Ukraine

Former US President George W. Bush’s freudian slip sees him confuse ‘wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq’ with Ukraine
Updated 19 May 2022

Former US President George W. Bush’s freudian slip sees him confuse ‘wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq’ with Ukraine

Former US President George W. Bush’s freudian slip sees him confuse ‘wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq’ with Ukraine
  • The 75-year-old former president blamed the slip on his age

LONDON: Former US President George W. Bush found himself somewhat embarrassed after he called the invasion of Iraq “wholly unjustified and brutal” while discussing the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Speaking at his presidential center in Dallas, Texas, on Wednesday, Bush said,:“The decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq … I mean, of Ukraine.” 

The freudian slip joins a long list of Bush’s verbal gaffes delivered over the years.

The US invaded Iraq in 2003, with the Bush administration claiming at the time there were weapons of mass destruction in the country. However, UN inspectors found no evidence of the existence of such weapons before the invasion.

US military operations in Iraq dragged on until 2011, with tens of thousands of civilians killed and displaced and almost 5,000 coalition troops killed.

On Twitter, many quickly pointed out the irony of conflating the invasions of Iraq and Ukraine. Justin Amash, a former congressman from Michigan, tweeted: “Oof. If you were George W. Bush, you think you’d just steer clear of giving any speech about one man launching a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion.”  

Another tweeted: “That’s not a Freudian slip, it’s a Freudian tumble down the stairs.”

“Awww. there goes that ol rascal george, reminding everyone of his war crimes. hahaha! isn’t it cute? please excuse him. he’s 75, so it’s okay to laugh off the millions he killed. we have fun here at the institute. now where was he? oh yeah, Putin’s unprecedented evil” tweeted another.

https://twitter.com/DubJ/status/1527109267228172288?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1527109267228172288%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.huffpost.com%2Fentry%2Ftwitter-reacts-bush-iraq-slip-up_n_6285a57be4b05c3afec484e3 

Writer and entrepreneur Adam Best wrote: “George W. Bush has always been the Michael Jordan of speaking gaffes but never expected a Freudian slip where he admitted to being a war criminal.” 

Some have speculated that the slip-up could be used as evidence in a possible prosecution of Bush for war crimes, with one tweeting: “This should be admissible as evidence at The Hague.” 

In his speech, Bush said that elections in Russia are rigged and political opponents are imprisoned or eliminated from participating in the electoral process. 

The 75-year-old former president blamed the slip on his age, and after an awkward silence, the audience laughed. 


Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram slammed for blackface birthday ‘prank’

Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram slammed for blackface birthday ‘prank’
Updated 19 May 2022

Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram slammed for blackface birthday ‘prank’

Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram slammed for blackface birthday ‘prank’

LONDON: Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram has found herself in hot water after being accused of racism for putting on blackface for a “prank.”

To celebrate her 39th birthday, Ajram filmed a video of herself walking down the streets of Lebanon’s capital Beirut with her skin darkened by makeup and wearing a dark curly wig to see if people would recognize her.

In the clip, she carried out everyday tasks such as shopping, going to a cafe, asking for directions, and eating dinner with a friend. During the meal, she removed her makeup to reveal her identity and took photos with fans.

Throughout the video, curious passers-by could be seen staring at Ajram.

But after posting the video on social media, Ajram faced a deluge of criticism for her prank and was asked to apologize.

In a tweet, Arab disability activist, Abla Abdelhadi, said Ajram’s actions were ill-timed coming so soon after racist shootings in Buffalo, in the US, that left 10 people dead.

Also in a tweet, black-Palestinian activist, Samah Fadil, said that “considering people with my skin tone or darker some kind of joke worthy of a prank,” must have been “very embarrassing” for Ajram.

In 2018, another Lebanese singer Myriam Fares was slammed on social media over a music video scene in which she appeared with a black face.

Blackface is considered a racist and derogatory representation of black people and appropriation of black culture. It has a long history both in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world.

In the West, blackface is now widely rejected but it continues to play a role in popular culture in parts of the Middle East. The makeup and curly or braided wigs have been used on Lebanese and Egyptian television to poke fun at domestic workers and Sudanese people.