Turkish philanthropist says political pressure led to life sentence ruling

Turkish philanthropist says political pressure led to life sentence ruling
Protesters hold a banner in front of the Bakirkoy Women’s prison in Istanbul on April 30, 2022, during a demonstration in support of civil society leader Osman Kavala and jailed activists. (AFP)
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Updated 04 May 2022

Turkish philanthropist says political pressure led to life sentence ruling

Turkish philanthropist says political pressure led to life sentence ruling
  • Istanbul court sentenced Osman Kavala last week, in a case that Europe’s top court and Western powers say is politically motivated

ANKARA: Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala, who was sentenced to life in prison for trying to overthrow the government by financing protests in 2013, said on Wednesday that the ruling violated legal standards and reflected political pressure on the court.
An Istanbul court sentenced Kavala last week, in a case that Europe’s top court and Western powers say is politically motivated.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and Ankara’s Western allies including Washington have called for an end to Kavala’s detention.
“The decision is arbitrary, and taken in violation of legal norms under political pressure,” Kavala said in a statement.
Countries including the United States, France and Germany see the ruling as an attempt by President Tayyip Erdogan’s government to silence opponents.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters on Tuesday that the West had focused on the sentence due to its funding for and “use” of the human rights activist.
“Ankara understands the reactions to the sentencing of Kavala. The person they have funded and used has gone to prison,” Cavusoglu said.
Speaking two days after the verdict, Erdogan called Kavala the George Soros of Turkey, referring to the US billionaire philanthropist, and the coordinator of the 2013 Gezi protests.
Kavala denies being behind the protests and being funded by Soros. The protests began as small demonstrations in an Istanbul park and snowballed into nationwide anti-government unrest.
“There have been attempts to justify the court decision with statements claiming I am supported by Soros. It is a simple fact that I did not organize the Gezi protests,” Kavala said in his statement.
“It is futile to link Soros or any other external actor to the fact that hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens took to the streets against antidemocratic practices with a sense of justice, demanding freedom,” he said.
“The Gezi trial unveiled the state of the judiciary, further exposing the great danger posed to fellow citizens by manipulation of the judiciary in such terms,” Kavala said.


Arab states condemn armed attack on kindergarten in Thailand

Arab states condemn armed attack on kindergarten in Thailand
Updated 8 sec ago

Arab states condemn armed attack on kindergarten in Thailand

Arab states condemn armed attack on kindergarten in Thailand
  • The foreign ministries of the UAE,  Jordan and Egypt released statements on Thursday strongly condemning the attack

Several Arab states condemned an attack on a preschool daycare center in Thailand that killed at least 36 people, most of them children. 

The foreign ministries of the UAE,  Jordan and Egypt released statements on Thursday strongly condemning the attack and expressing sincere condolences to the Thai government and families of the victims, wishing a speedy recovery for those injured.

Meanwhile, Kwauti’s Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf al-Sabah sent a cable of condolences to King Maha Vajiralongkorn. 

Police identified the killer as 34-year-old Panya Kamrab, a former police sergeant who was dismissed from service in January. According to a police report seen by Arab News, he was sacked after being found in possession of narcotics.

Panya is thought to have gone to the daycare center to find his son but when he failed to find the boy he began shooting. He then returned home, where he killed his wife and child.


Houthi landmine blast kills two Yemeni children, injures one

Houthi landmine blast kills two Yemeni children, injures one
Updated 07 October 2022

Houthi landmine blast kills two Yemeni children, injures one

Houthi landmine blast kills two Yemeni children, injures one
  • The Iran-backed group has refused to renew the UN-brokered cease-fire

DUBAI: Two children were killed and one was critically injured after landmine, planted by Houthi militants in Magzer district of Yemen’s Marib governorate, detonated.

The fatalities have been identified as eight-year-old Saqer Mohamed Sinan and 12-year-old Qa’ed Abdullah Khaimah Ashareef, while 13-year-old Ghazi Faraj Ahmed Sinan suffered serious injuries, Yemeni News Agency reported.

Villagers in the district have reported that the Houthis have been adamant not to extract the landmines they have randomly and intensively planted in roads, farms and residential areas.

Saudi Arabia’s Project Masam has so far located and destroyed 360,573 explosive devices including 5,672 anti-personnel mines, 132,637 anti-tank mines, 7,486 IEDs and 214,778 unexploded ordnances in Yemeni liberated areas since it was launched mid-2018.

The Iran-backed group has refused to renew the UN-brokered cease-fire, which took effect in April and has twice been renewed, and has resumed aggressive military operations in Marib, Taiz and Dhale after the last truce expired on Sunday.


Anger in Paris over Iran ‘spy’ charges

Anger in Paris over Iran ‘spy’ charges
Updated 07 October 2022

Anger in Paris over Iran ‘spy’ charges

Anger in Paris over Iran ‘spy’ charges
  • French schoolteachers’ union official Cecile Kohler and her partner Jacques Paris were arrested in May on charges of fomenting “insecurity” in Iran
  • France condemned the arrests and allegedly forced confessions, in which Kohler said on video that she was sent by France to spark a revolution

JEDDAH: France on Thursday accused the regime in Iran of taking two of its citizens hostage after Tehran broadcast video footage of the couple making forced confessions to being spies.

French schoolteachers’ union official Cecile Kohler and her partner Jacques Paris were arrested in May on charges of fomenting “insecurity” in Iran. France condemned the arrests and demanded their immediate release.

In Thursday’s TV footage Kohler “confessed” to being an agent of the French external intelligence service, in Iran to “prepare the ground for the revolution and the overthrow of the regime of Islamic Iran.” Paris said: “Our goal at the French security service is to pressure the government of Iran.”

The video sparked anger in France. “The staging of their alleged confessions is outrageous, appalling, unacceptable and contrary to international law,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre said.

“This masquerade reveals the contempt for human dignity that characterizes the Iranian authorities. These alleged confessions extracted under duress have no basis, nor did the reasons given for their arbitrary arrest.”

The French couple's appearance on TV coincides with weeks of anti-government protests in Iran over the death last month in morality police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. It also came a day after a debate in the French senate in which all political parties condemned Iran's crackdown on the protests.

Rights groups say Iranian state media broadcast more than 350 forced confessions between 2010 and 2020. Four French citizens are in jail in Iran and France is assessing whether another one may have been arrested during the current protests.

In a tweet on Oct. 5, the Human Rights Activists in Iran and 19 other human rights organizations asked US President Joe Biden in an open letter "to address the Iranian regime’s violent crackdown on the Mahsa Amini protests and Iran’s ongoing human rights crisis."

"The Iranian people need the support of the United States and the entire international community to attain their rights and freedoms," the letter said. 


Arabs view access to water as most pressing environmental issue, survey finds

Arabs view access to water as most pressing environmental issue, survey finds
Updated 07 October 2022

Arabs view access to water as most pressing environmental issue, survey finds

Arabs view access to water as most pressing environmental issue, survey finds
  • The Arab Barometer interviewed 26,000 citizens between October 2021 and July 2022 in 12 countries that represent about 80 percent of the Arab world
  • Despite broad concerns about climate change and the environment, the survey found many in the region consider other issues to be higher priority

WASHINGTON: Arabs believe the climate change-related threat to water resources is the biggest environmental issue facing the region and its people.

This was a key finding of the latest Arab Barometer Report on the attitudes in 12 Arab countries about the environment, which was published on Thursday.

The Arab Barometer is a research network that gathers opinion and offers insights into the social, political and economic attitudes of citizens across the region.

Its latest survey on the environment found that the majority of the people it polled were concerned about the availability of drinking water, the pollution of water sources, and the quality of the air in their communities.

Tunisia had the highest proportion of people who considered availability and quality of water the biggest environmental challenge facing their country, at 60 percent, followed by Algeria with 50 percent, and Iraq, Palestine and Libya with 47 percent.

The findings are part of the seventh round of polling by Arab Barometer, which has been tracking the views of people in the Middle East and North Africa since 2006. It describes itself as the largest publicly available survey of the opinions and attitudes of citizens across the region.

For its latest report, it interviewed 26,000 citizens between October 2021 and July 2022 in 12 countries that represent about 80 percent of the Arab world: Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, Sudan and Kuwait. In addition to the environment, other parts of the survey covered political, social and economic issues.

Issues related to waste management ranked second among the key environmental issues people in region are most concerned about. Recycling is already an important environmental-protection activity in many countries and the survey found that many people in the region already recycle their waste, but that they do so mostly for “cost-saving” benefits or “convenience, rather than to protect the environment.”

Educational background tended to affect people’s views on environmental issues such as climate change, air quality, pollution and trash, with those who were better-educated expressing greater concern about them.

In addition, issues related to climate change were more of a concern among people living in rural location than those in urban areas.

Aside from the availability and quality of water and its quality, other attitudes toward the environment varied.

A previous survey, in October 2020, found that less than than seven percent of citizens in Arab countries believed that reducing pollution should be the top priority of government spending in the coming year. In research carried out in the spring of 2021, less than nine percent said that foreign aid should be used to address environmental concerns.

In the latest poll, less than five percent of people surveyed in the majority of Arab countries said foreign aid donated to their nations should be used to tackle climate change and environmental challenges. In Egypt, Jordan and Palestine, the figure was as low as 1 percent.

Yet the research also found that citizens of the region blame themselves for not being proactive enough on environmental issues, and their governments for failing to take action to properly address climate change and environmental challenges in their communities.

They expressed high levels of support for their governments to take action to tackle environmental issues. But despite broad concerns about climate change and the environment, the study found most people in the region view other issues as being more urgent and of higher priority.


Alexandria Film Festival pays tribute to departed performers

Alexandria Film Festival pays tribute to departed performers
Updated 07 October 2022

Alexandria Film Festival pays tribute to departed performers

Alexandria Film Festival pays tribute to departed performers
  • Festival management remembered Egyptian stars who passed away in 2022 by showing a video clip during the opening ceremony

CAIRO: The 38th session of the Alexandria Film Festival for Mediterranean Countries has opened at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

It is named after the artist Mahmoud Hemida.

Festival management remembered Egyptian stars who passed away in 2022 by showing a video clip during the opening ceremony.

Famous names included Hisham Selim, Maha Abu Auf, Samir Ghanem, Dalal Abdel Aziz, Ahdi Sadiq, Ali Abdel Khaleq, Ahmed Halawa, and Aida Abdel Aziz.

Film critic Amir Abaza, who has a leading role in organizing the event, told Arab News: “We chose to name the festival in the star Mahmoud Hemida’s name because he is of a great cinematic stature who has presented a large number of important works.”

Hemida has also reinvested profits into cinema, as well as participating in the production of a number of films without looking for profit, added Abaza.

The festival also honored a number of art stars, namely director Mohamed Abdelaziz, actress Donia Samir Ghanem, director Saeed Hamed and producer Wajih El-Leithi.

Radio broadcaster Imam Omar was also honored the King of Comedy Medal went to the late Samir Ghanem and Dalal Abdel Aziz.

The festival also honored the Greek star Alexis Protopsalti, the French artist Marianne Borgo, and the Armenian-Egyptian star Nora Armani.

A movie called “Barsoum Looking for a Job” — produced in 1923 and directed by Mohamed Bayoumi — was played at the end of the ceremony.

A publication on the 100 most important comic films in Egypt was among a number of books released on the sidelines of the festival.

However, the inclusion of non-comic films such as “Between Heaven and Earth” by Salah Abu Seif created some controversy and some questioned the lack of high-level comedy movies such as “Kit Kat” by Daoud Abdel Sayed and “Umm Ratiba,” directed by Alsayed Badir.

Critics also highlighted the absence of any Mohamed Sobhi flicks, one of the biggest comedy stars in Egypt.

Adel Imam topped the poll as best actor, Shwikar as best actress, Fatin Abdel Wahab as best director, and Abu Al-Saud Al-Ibiari as best author. Thirty-two film critics and researchers participated in the poll.