Hundreds rally against threat to close Turkish women’s rights group

Hundreds rally against threat to close Turkish women’s rights group
Women protested the closure case filed against the ‘We Will Stop Femicide Platform Association’ in Ankara on Saturday. (AFP)
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Updated 16 April 2022

Hundreds rally against threat to close Turkish women’s rights group

Hundreds rally against threat to close Turkish women’s rights group
  • "We are not going to allow the closure of our association," the secretary-general of We Will Stop Femicide, Fidan Ataselim, told AFP
  • An Istanbul prosecutor on Wednesday filed a lawsuit aimed at shutting down the association for "activity against law and morals"

ANKARA: Hundreds of people demonstrated on Saturday in several Turkish cities including Istanbul and Ankara against a move to close one of the country’s most respected women’s rights groups.
“It is not possible to stop our fight. We are not going to allow the closure of our association,” the secretary-general of We Will Stop Femicide, Fidan Ataselim, told AFP.
An Istanbul prosecutor on Wednesday filed a lawsuit aimed at shutting down the association for “activity against law and morals.”
According to Ataselim, the lawsuit accuses the group of conducting activities that violate Turkey’s “laws and morals.”
The association was a vocal critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision last year to pull Turkey out of the Istanbul Convention, which requires countries to set up laws aimed at preventing and prosecuting violence against women.
We Will Stop Femicide says 280 women were killed in Turkey last year, many of the murders committed by family members.
Another 217 women died in suspicious circumstances, including those officially registered as suicide, the group says.
Ataselim said the lawsuit was filed based on a complaint registered by a group of Turks through a website set up by the presidency to field citizens’ requests.
The complaint accused the group of “destroying the family based on the pretext of defending women’s rights,” Ataselim said.
The language is similar to that used by Erdogan in his decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, which Turkey signed in 2011.
Social conservatives in Turkey claim the convention promotes homosexuality and threatens traditional family values.
“Don’t prosecute women, but murderers!” Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Istanbul shouted.
Representatives of opposition parties as well as relatives of domestic abuse victims took part in the demonstration.
“These women are fighters... I wanted to be there to support them,” said Nihat Palandoken, the father of a young girl killed in 2017.

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Saudi Arabia, OIC offer sympathy following Cairo church fire

Saudi Arabia, OIC offer sympathy following Cairo church fire
Updated 59 min 50 sec ago

Saudi Arabia, OIC offer sympathy following Cairo church fire

Saudi Arabia, OIC offer sympathy following Cairo church fire
  • Blaze ripped through Coptic church in Egyptian capital, killing at least 41 people and injuring several others. 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry expressed “great sadness and sorrow” following a huge fire which engulfed the Abu Sefein Church in Cairo on Sunday, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The fire ripped through the Coptic church in the Egyptian capital, killing at least 41 people and injuring several others. 

The ministry offered its deepest and sincere condolences to the government and people of Egypt, wishing the injured a speedy recovery, and security and safety for  Egypt and its people.

Also on Sunday, the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Hissein Brahim Taha, expressed his condolences and sympathy.

Taha offered his sincere condolences to the families of the victims, wishing a speedy recovery for the injured.

He also stressed the support and solidarity of the OIC for Egypt in the tragic circumstances.


People from Rushdie attacker’s hometown in Lebanon condemn attack

People from Rushdie attacker’s hometown in Lebanon condemn attack
Updated 14 August 2022

People from Rushdie attacker’s hometown in Lebanon condemn attack

People from Rushdie attacker’s hometown in Lebanon condemn attack
  • Hadi Matar’s father, who is separated from his mother, refuses to receive anyone in wake of New York stabbing
  • “I have never seen him in this town,” says Yaroun town Mayor Ali Qassem Tuhfa

BEIRUT: The father of Hadi Matar, the man who stabbed novelist Salman Rushdie in the US on Friday, is refusing to talk to anyone. Since hearing about his 24-year-old son’s crime, he has not received any visitors at his home in the southern Lebanese town of Yaroun — not even the town’s mayor.

Mayor Ali Qassem Tuhfa told Arab News: “Matar’s parents have been separated for 10 years. The father returned to Yaroun while his family stayed in the US. He revived the family’s old business of raising livestock and has been taking care of a small herd. He has little to no social life and does not talk to anyone.”

Yaroun is close to the town of Maroun Al-Ras in the district of Beit Jbeil. (Arab News)

Yaroun is close to the town of Maroun Al-Ras in the district of Beit Jbeil. It is about 125 km from Beirut. Previously, the people of the town were famous for farming and raising livestock.

Yaroun is a border town that was abandoned by many residents during the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon in the 1970s. Some also emigrated before then, leaving only about 500 residents. This number increases with the temporary return of expatriates during the summer and other holidays, with records showing that 9,000 people originate from the town.

Both Christians and Muslims live in Yaroun, the mayor explained, while noting that the majority of emigrants have gone to Australia and North and South America.

Samer Wehbe, a journalist from the area, said: “When the expatriates gradually returned, they built beautiful houses that resembled the homes in which they lived abroad, giving the town a wealthy appearance. The majority of townspeople do not live there permanently; only when they come back to Lebanon on holidays and special occasions. Political affiliations remain vague, although the town is located in a pro-Hezbollah area, as it is adjacent to Maroun Al-Ras, in which Hezbollah scored major victories against the Israeli occupation.”

Yaroun is about 125 km from Beirut. Previously, the people of the town were famous for farming and raising livestock. (Arab News)

Mayor Tuhfa said that Matar was born and raised in the US. “I have been the mayor for six years and have never seen him in town,” he said.

Tuhfa explained: “Matar’s mother is also from Yaroun, but she is not related to her husband. Her name is Silvana Firdaus. Matar has one sister who also lives with her mother in the US.”

He added: “The news of Matar’s crime raised questions in the town, which mainly focused on ‘why did he do that?’ His act was even condemned, bearing in mind that no one knows him (Matar) on a personal level.”

Activists’ reactions on social media platforms were mixed. One considered that Matar is “only an American of Lebanese descent, who apparently suffers a deep identity crisis.”

Hadi Matar, 24, center, listens to his public defense attorney Nathaniel Barone, left, addresses the judge while being arraigned in the Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville, NY., Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022. (AP)

Hezbollah refrained from commenting on the attack on Rushdie. According to Reuters, an official said the group “had no additional information on the stabbing attack against novelist Salman Rushdie.” The official added: “We don’t know anything about this subject so we will not comment.”

Nevertheless, in recent days, an old video of Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah inciting his supporters to kill Rushdie has circulated on social media platforms.


Sandstorm engulfs UAE as authorities urge caution

Sandstorm engulfs UAE as authorities urge caution
Updated 14 August 2022

Sandstorm engulfs UAE as authorities urge caution

Sandstorm engulfs UAE as authorities urge caution
  • The Ministry of Interior urged caution on the roads as visibility dropped below one kilometer in Abu Dhabi and Dubai on Sunday
  • UAE authorities said they have developed an action plan to deal with expected heavy rain and high winds

DUBAI: Thick clouds of dust blanketed most parts of the UAE, as authorities braced for adverse weather conditions expected in the days ahead.

The Ministry of Interior urged caution on the roads as visibility dropped below one kilometer in Abu Dhabi and Dubai on Sunday.

 

Abu Dhabi’s official media office urged motorists to “avoid driving unless absolutely necessary” and red weather alert has been issued different parts of the country.

Earlier this week, UAE authorities said they have developed an action plan to deal with expected heavy rain and high winds over the coming days.

“All local and national teams are highly prepared to ensure an effective and proper response to any risks that may arise as a result of the condition,” the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) said in a statement posted on the state news agency (WAM).

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior said it is “fully prepared to deal with any emergency situation”.

Last month, seven people died after heavy floods hit the northern and eastern parts of the UAE.


Egypt: At least 41 killed, 55 injured in Giza church fire

Egypt: At least 41 killed, 55 injured in Giza church fire
Updated 14 August 2022

Egypt: At least 41 killed, 55 injured in Giza church fire

Egypt: At least 41 killed, 55 injured in Giza church fire
  • Dozens taken to local hospitals with fatalities expected to rise
  • President El-Sisi telephones Pope Tawadros II to express condolences, pledge support

CAIRO: The Egyptian Ministry of Health announced that 55 people had been taken to hospital after a fire broke out at the Abu Sefein Church in the north of Giza on Sunday.

In a statement, the Coptic Orthodox Church said that a large fire broke out during the Divine Liturgy, and that a number of worshipers were transferred from the scene to Imbaba General Hospital and Agouza Hospital.

The statement added that, according to sources from the Ministry of Health, the number of deaths has so far reached 41 people with a further 14 injured.

These numbers are unconfirmed, with the tally expected to change.

 

Hossam Abdel Ghaffar, the official spokesman for the Ministry of Health and Population, confirmed that 30 ambulances were dispatched to the church, and people taken to the two local hospitals.

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi made a phone call to Pope Tawadros II to offer his condolences to the victims of the accident.

During the call, El-Sisi stressed that all state institutions would provide the necessary support to contain the effects of the fire.

Abdel Ghaffar said the state of readiness at hospitals in Giza and Cairo had been raised, and that all blood types and emergency medicines are available at the facilities receiving the injured.

The General Administration of Civil Protection in Giza sent firefighters and vehicles to fight the blaze, which was swiftly brought under control.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly sent his sincere condolences to and expressed sympathy for the families of the victims.

Forensics and other authorities, meanwhile, are on the scene to determine the cause of the fire.

Public Prosecutor Hamada Al-Sawy issued a statement that an investigation team had been formed, and that the Public Prosecution would announce its results in due course.

The preliminary examination of the forensic evidence suggests the fire broke out in the air-conditioning system on the second floor of the church building, which includes a number of classrooms, as a result of an electrical fault.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia expressed “great sadness and sorrow” over the fire and offered its deepest and sincere condolences to the government and people of Egypt, wishing the injured a speedy recovery, and security and safety for Egypt and its people, Saudi Press Agency reported.


Iran puts on trial reformist Mostafa Tajzadeh: state media

Iran puts on trial reformist Mostafa Tajzadeh: state media
Updated 14 August 2022

Iran puts on trial reformist Mostafa Tajzadeh: state media

Iran puts on trial reformist Mostafa Tajzadeh: state media
  • Mostafa Tajzadeh was arrested in 2009 and again this year
  • He was previously convicted of harming national security and spreading propaganda against the state

TEHRAN: Iran has put on trial the reformist politician Mostafa Tajzadeh, who was previously jailed and arrested again last month on charges of undermining state security, local media reported.
The 65-year-old — who last year made an unsuccessful bid for the presidency as a reformist and “political prisoner for seven years” — went on trial in Tehran on Saturday, said the judicial authority’s news agency Mizan Online.
“Mostafa Tajzadeh’s hearing was held at Branch 15 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court” before judge Abolghassem Salavati, it said.
Tajzadeh had served as deputy interior minister during the 1997-2005 tenure of reformist former president Mohammad Khatami.
He was arrested in 2009 during protests disputing the re-election of then president Mahmud Ahmadinejad, which was contested by an opposition backing unsuccessful reformist candidates Mehdi Karoubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi.
Tajzadeh was convicted the following year of harming national security and speading propaganda against the state, and released in 2016 after serving his sentence.
Since his release, Tajzadeh has often called on authorities to free Mousavi and Karoubi, who have been under house arrest for more than a decade over the protests.
He submitted his candidacy in May 2021, having long campaigned for democratic and “structural changes” in the Islamic republic.
He was again arrested on July 8 this year at his home and also faces accusations of “publishing lies to disturb public opinion,” the Mehr news agency has reported.
According to Mizan, Tajzadeh in court faced “three counts, including conspiracy against national security.”
The defendant declined to speak in court, the report added.
His lawyer, Houshang Pourbabai, was quoted as telling the reformist newspaper Etemad that “three days ago, I went to Evin prison to meet my client with the permission of the court.”
“My client refused to meet me because he could not talk to me face to face,” he said, adding that Tajzadeh had also announced that he “would not appear in court.”
Etemad quoted Tajzadeh’s wife as saying the activist “was forced to appear in court against his will.”
Mizan said that, “given Tajzadeh’s refusal to answer questions, the judge announced that he would give his verdict within the legal time limit.”