Iran destroys Bahai homes in new escalation: NGO

Iran destroys Bahai homes in new escalation: NGO
The Bahai faith is a relatively modern monotheistic religion with spiritual roots dating back to the early 19th century in Iran. (Social media)
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Updated 04 August 2022

Iran destroys Bahai homes in new escalation: NGO

Iran destroys Bahai homes in new escalation: NGO
  • Bahai representatives said 13 community members, including several prominent figures, had already been arrested in raids on Sunday following dozens of arrests over the last two months

PARIS: Iranian authorities have destroyed half a dozen homes belonging to Bahais in a new phase of an crackdown that has shaken the country’s largest non-Muslim religious minority, an NGO has said.

Bahai representatives said 13 community members, including several prominent figures, had already been arrested in raids on Sunday following dozens of arrests over the last two months.

Bahais have been subjected to harassment ever since the inception in 1979 of the Islamic republic, which recognizes minority non-Muslim faiths including Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism but does not Bahaism.

Iranian officials on Tuesday sealed off the village of Roshankouh in the northern Mazandaran province and completely destroyed six Bahai homes as well as confiscating 20 hectares of land, Diane Alai, a Bahai International Community representative to the UN, said.

Video footage posted on social media showed the residents of Roshankouh, which is known to have a strong Bahai presence, standing aghast in front of the wreckage of their homes.

The BIC said in a statement that heavy earthmoving equipment was used to demolish the homes and one Bahai resident was arrested.

“We ask everyone to raise their voice and call for these dreadful acts of blatant persecution to be immediately stopped,” said Alai.

She denounced a “step-by-step plan” by the Iranian authorities of “first blatant lies and hate speech, then raids and arrests, and today land grabs, occupations and the destruction of homes.”

Bahais have repeatedly complained in the past of seizures of land and property. The authorities have sometimes claimed they were owned by organizations now prohibited in Iran but the Bahais countered that the assets were subsequently transferred to state-controlled foundations.

Thirteen Bahais on Sunday were arrested in raids on the homes and businesses of 52 Bahais across Iran, with the Iranian Intelligence Ministry leveling accusations of spying for Israel that the Bahais dismissed as preposterous.

With concern growing over the crackdown, the US State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom on Tuesday said the US “urges Iran to halt its ongoing oppression of the Bahai community and honor its international obligations to respect the right of all Iranians to freedom of religion or belief.”


Egypt Parliament to convene over ‘urgent’ reshuffle

Egypt Parliament to convene over ‘urgent’ reshuffle
Updated 7 sec ago

Egypt Parliament to convene over ‘urgent’ reshuffle

Egypt Parliament to convene over ‘urgent’ reshuffle
  • Secretary-General of the House of Representatives Ahmed Manaa invited Parliament’s 596 MPs to attend the meeting without disclosing further information

CAIRO: Egypt’s Parliament will hold a session on Saturday to look into an “urgent matter” amid reports of a possible Cabinet reshuffle, according to local media.

Secretary-General of the House of Representatives Ahmed Manaa invited Parliament’s 596 MPs to attend the meeting without disclosing further information.

“All members should be keen to attend the session,” the invitation said.

According to Ahram Online, Parliament is set to discuss a presidential decision to introduce a Cabinet reshuffle.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly — who has served since June 2018 — would retain his position, while about 10 cabinet ministers would be reshuffled, Al-Shorouk daily reported, citing informed government sources.

A new minister of information would also be named, reports said.

The last time the Egyptian House of Representatives held an extraordinary meeting was in July 2020. At the time, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi asked MPs to provide him with a mandate to send elements of the Egyptian Armed Forces in combat missions outside the country in order to defend national security.

The mandate came days after El-Sisi met in Cairo with Libyan tribal leaders, who called on the Egyptian president “to intervene to protect the national security of Libya and Egypt,” according to Ahram Online.


Vehicle accident in southern Egypt kills 9, injures 18

Vehicle accident in southern Egypt kills 9, injures 18
Updated 11 min 35 sec ago

Vehicle accident in southern Egypt kills 9, injures 18

Vehicle accident in southern Egypt kills 9, injures 18

CAIRO: A vehicle accident involving an overturned microbus in southern Egypt killed at least nine people and injured eight, authorities said Saturday.
The crash took place Friday when the passenger vehicle overturned following a tire blowout on a highway in Minya province 273 kilometers (170 miles) south of the capital Cairo, provincial authorities said in a statement.
The microbus, a sort of mass transit minivan, was transporting people from Sohag province to Cairo, the statement said.
Ambulances rushed to the site and moved the injured to hospitals in Minya, the statement added.
Deadly traffic accidents claim thousands of lives every year in Egypt, which has a poor transportation safety record. The crashes and collisions are mostly caused by speeding, bad roads or poor enforcement of traffic laws.
Earlier this month, a microbus collided with a truck in Sohag, killing at least 17 people and injuring four others. In July, a passenger bus slammed into a parked trailer truck in Minya, leaving 23 dead and a least 30 wounded.


UAE FM, Ukrainian counterpart discuss relations

UAE FM, Ukrainian counterpart discuss relations
Updated 48 min 3 sec ago

UAE FM, Ukrainian counterpart discuss relations

UAE FM, Ukrainian counterpart discuss relations

DUBAI: The UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, discussed on Friday with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, bilateral relations between their countries, the prospects for cooperation and ways to enhance them.

Both officials also reviewed the latest developments in the Ukraine, in addition to a number of regional and international issues of common interest, UAE state news agency WAM reported. 

During the phone call, Sheikh Abdullah praised the United Nations-backed agreement recently signed in Istanbul between Ukraine, Russia and Turkey, which provides for the safe export of grain through the Black Sea to global markets.

He reiterated the UAE's commitment to support all efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine and reach a political settlement of the crisis.


Adviser to Iran’s nuclear negotiating team ‘won’t shed tears’ over Salman Rushdie attack 

Adviser to Iran’s nuclear negotiating team ‘won’t shed tears’ over Salman Rushdie attack 
Updated 49 min 37 sec ago

Adviser to Iran’s nuclear negotiating team ‘won’t shed tears’ over Salman Rushdie attack 

Adviser to Iran’s nuclear negotiating team ‘won’t shed tears’ over Salman Rushdie attack 
  • Mohammad Marandi: ‘I wont be shedding tears for a writer who spouts endless hatred and contempt for Muslims and Islam’

Iran’s advisor to the nuclear negotiating team, Mohammad Marandi, said he will not be “shedding tears” over Salman Rushdie who was fatally stabbed on Friday at a literary event in New York state. 

“I wont be shedding tears for a writer who spouts endless hatred and contempt for Muslims and Islam,” Marandi said in a tweet following the incident. 

Salman Rushdie, who spent years in hiding after an Iranian fatwa ordered his killing, was on a ventilator and could lose an eye following the attack. The British author of “The Satanic Verses,” which sparked fury among some Muslims, had to be airlifted to hospital for emergency surgery following the attack.

Marandi also expressed his surprise at the timing of the attack on Rushdie, which followed Washington’s thwarting of an assassination attempt targeting the former National Security Adviser, John Bolton, calling it “odd.”

The Department of Justice charged an Iranian military operative on Wednesday with plotting to assassinate Bolton.


Tunisian government, unions agree to talks on IMF reform program

Tunisian government, unions agree to talks on IMF reform program
Updated 12 August 2022

Tunisian government, unions agree to talks on IMF reform program

Tunisian government, unions agree to talks on IMF reform program
  • Prime Minister Najla Bouden, UGTT labour union chief Noureddine Taboubi and UTICA commerce union chief Samir Majoul had agreed a "social contract" to tackle national challenges
  • The UGTT reposted the statement on its Facebook page

TUNIS: Tunisia’s government and both its main labor and commerce unions agreed on Friday to start talks on Monday over economic reforms required by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a rescue program.
State news agency TAP reported that Prime Minister Najla Bouden, UGTT labor union chief Noureddine Taboubi and UTICA commerce union chief Samir Majoul had agreed a “social contract” to tackle national challenges, citing a government statement.
The UGTT reposted the statement on its Facebook page.
The labor union, which represents a vast syndicate of workers, has been a staunch critic of IMF economic reforms proposed by the government, including subsidy cuts, a public sector wage freeze and the restructuring of state-owned companies.
It previously said, such reforms would increase the suffering of Tunisians and lead to an imminent social implosion.
Tunisia is seeking $4 billion in IMF support amid the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine, though diplomat sources told Reuters any IMF program approved would be unlikely to reach that level.
The IMF wants the UGTT, a powerful union that has a million members and has previously paralyzed parts of the economy in protest, to formally agree to government reforms.
Efforts to secure the IMF bailout have been complicated by Tunisia’s political upheavals since President Kais Saied seized most powers a year ago, shutting down parliament and moving to rule by decree.
Last month, he pushed through a new constitution formalising many of the expanded powers he has assumed in a referendum. Official figures showed that 31 percent of Tunisians took part, but opposition groups have rejected the figure, calling it inflated.