Two killed in Iran protests over woman’s death after ‘morality police’ arrest

Two killed in Iran protests over woman’s death after ‘morality police’ arrest
Mahsa Amini’s death in custody has been condemned nationwide, with the Persian hashtag #MahsaAmini reaching nearly 2 million Twitter mentions. (AFP)
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Updated 19 September 2022

Two killed in Iran protests over woman’s death after ‘morality police’ arrest

Two killed in Iran protests over woman’s death after ‘morality police’ arrest
  • Iranian human rights group Hengaw said at least two citizens — Fouad Qadimi and Mohsen Mohammadi — died after being taken to Kosar Hospital in Sanandaj and 15 others were injured

TEHRAN: The Iranian human rights group Hengaw said two men were killed on Monday in protests against the death of a Kurdish woman after her arrest by Iran’s morality police, but there was no immediate official confirmation of the report.

“In Monday’s protests in the town of Divandarreh, at least two citizens — Fouad Qadimi and Mohsen Mohammadi — died after being taken to Kosar Hospital in Sanandaj and 15 others were injured,” Hengaw said on its Twitter account.

A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said the US wants accountability for her death.

“Mahsa Amini’s death after injuries sustained while in police custody for wearing an ‘improper’ hijab is an appalling and egregious affront to human rights,” the official said. “Our thoughts are with Mahsa’s family and loved ones.”

“Women in Iran should have the right to wear what they want, free from violence or harassment. Iran must end its use of violence against women for exercising their fundamental freedoms,” the official said. “There must be accountability for Mahsa’s death.”

Demonstrations were held in the capital Tehran, including several of its universities, as well in Iran’s second city, Mashhad, according to the Fars and Tasnim news agencies.

Protesters marched down Hijab Street — or “headscarf street” — in the center of Tehran denouncing the actions of the morality police, the ISNA news agency reported.

“Several hundred people chanted slogans against the authorities, some of them took off their hijab,” Fars said, adding that “police arrested several people and dispersed the crowd using batons and tear gas.”

A brief video released by Fars shows a crowd of several dozen people, including women who have removed their headscarves, shouting “Death to the Islamic republic!”

A “similar gathering” took place in the northeastern city Mashhad, the Tasnim agency reported.

The rallies on Monday came a day after police made arrests and fired tear gas in the dead woman’s home province of Kurdistan, where some 500 people had protested, some smashing car windows and torching rubbish bins, reports said.

Public anger has grown since authorities on Friday announced the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, in a hospital after three days in a coma, following her arrest by Tehran’s morality police during a visit to the capital on September 13.

Such police units enforce a dress code in the Islamic republic that demands women wear headscarves in public.

It also bans tight trousers, ripped jeans, clothes that expose the knees and brightly colored outfits.

Police have insisted there was “no physical contact” between officers and the victim.

Tehran police chief General Hossein Rahimi said Monday the woman had violated the dress code, and that his colleagues had asked her relatives to bring her “decent clothes.”

He again rejected “unjust accusations against the police” and said “the evidence shows that there was no negligence or inappropriate behavior on the part of the police.”

“This is an unfortunate incident and we wish never to see such incidents again.”

Students rallied, however, including at Tehran and Shahid Beheshti universities, demanding “clarification” on how Amini died, according to Fars and Tasnim news agencies.

Her death has reignited calls to rein in morality police actions against women suspected of violating the dress code, in effect since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Filmmakers, artists, athletes and political and religious figures have taken to social media to express their anger over the death, both inside and outside the country.

President Ebrahim Raisi, an ultra-conservative former judiciary chief who came to power last year, has ordered an inquiry into Amini’s death.

State television on Friday broadcast a short surveillance video that showed a woman identified as Amini collapsing in the police station after an argument with a policewoman.

Amjad Amini, the victim’s father, told Fars that he did “not accept what (the police) showed him,” arguing that “the film has been cut.”


Egyptian representative urges nations to set aside political differences: COP27

Egyptian representative urges nations to set aside political differences: COP27
Updated 29 September 2022

Egyptian representative urges nations to set aside political differences: COP27

Egyptian representative urges nations to set aside political differences: COP27
  • During June’s UN climate meeting in Bonn, some nations walked out when Russian took the floor
  • Aboulmagd said countries must not use geopolitical issues that have occurred since COP26 to conceal their inaction

LONDON: As they prepare to host in November the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference, commonly referred to as COP27, Egyptian hosts called on countries to put aside their political differences to concentrate on the climate crisis, the Guardian reported. 

The UN climate summit, which will be held in Sharm El-Sheikh, will seek to build on the many carbon-cutting pledges made by participating companies and countries at COP26 in Glasgow last November. 

However, the world’s geopolitical situation has shifted dramatically in the last year. 

The ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine has not only had significant implications for the global energy and food markets, but it has also made facilitating climate talks far more difficult. 

The diplomatic standoff between the US and China, the world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gasses, is another impediment to progress.

Wael Aboulmagd, the Egyptian government’s special representative for COP27, called on countries to focus on the urgency of the climate crisis and to continue negotiations despite any political tensions, the Guardian said.

“Animosity will have a cost. We as responsible diplomats ask everyone to rise to the occasion and show leadership,” Aboulmagd said on Wednesday. “Put political differences aside and come together.”

Under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, countries have a diplomatic responsibility to carry out negotiations irrespective of the external political context.

However, during a UN climate meeting in Bonn in June, some nations staged a walkout when Russia took to the conference floor before later returning. 

Aboulmagd said countries must not use the geopolitical issues that have occurred since COP26 to divert attention away from their inaction, according to the Guardian. 

“Show more ambition. I urge everyone not to use this unfolding geopolitical situation as a pretext for backsliding,” he said. 

Aboulmagd added that rising fossil fuel prices should instead serve as an incentive to find alternatives.

“I hope and urge everyone to take the right lesson from this: that overdependence on fossil fuels is problematic, and we need to expedite the transition to renewable energy.”

He reminded all countries who were present in Glasgow of the importance of cooperating to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the effects of extreme weather.

“Set aside the adversarial zero-sum approach. With this most existential threat, we need to act to save lives and livelihoods. There is no time for delays, no pretext for not acting or backtracking.”


Jordan ranks eighth regionally as it moves up UN E-Government Survey

Jordan ranks eighth regionally as it moves up UN E-Government Survey
Updated 29 September 2022

Jordan ranks eighth regionally as it moves up UN E-Government Survey

Jordan ranks eighth regionally as it moves up UN E-Government Survey
  • Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship said survey included 193 countries in total
  • The kingdom ranked 74th internationally in 2022 report, compared to 143rd in 2020 report

AMMAN: Jordan has made a major leap of two levels to rank in eighth place regionally on the UN 2022 E-Government Survey.
According to the biannual survey issued by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Jordan made remarkable progress, moving up two ranks regionally and 17 ranks to 100th place globally, said the Jordan News Agency, or Petra.
In a statement published on Petra, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship said the survey included 193 countries in total. The report includes one main indicator, the development of e-government, which has three sub-indicators: online services, communications infrastructure and human resources.
Jordan ranked 74th internationally in the 2022 report, compared to 143rd in the 2020 report on the online services sub-indicator. The kingdom also ranked 125th compared to 100th on the communications infrastructure sub-indicator and 108th compared to 115th on the human resources sub-indicator.
The ministry said the decline in the communications infrastructure sub-indicator was driven by a delay in launching 5G technology, the slow-paced installation of fiber-optic Internet services and the process of reviewing subscriptions for telecommunications services.
Meanwhile, Jordan achieved 40 percent progress in the Open Government Data Index, developed in the 2020 report, from 0.5729 to 0.7915 in absolute numbers, added the ministry.
The UN E-Government Survey reviews the rate of digital transformation in UN member states and addresses the various programs that utilize information and communication technologies to provide better and faster public services to the public.


Morocco arrests suspected Daesh group member

Morocco arrests suspected Daesh group member
Updated 29 September 2022

Morocco arrests suspected Daesh group member

Morocco arrests suspected Daesh group member
  • The 29-year-old man was arrested in the economic capital Casablanca
  • The suspect had reportedly sought to "join terrorist organisations" including those based in sub-Saharan Africa

RABAT: Moroccan police said Thursday they had arrested a suspected Daesh group member, in cooperation with US intelligence officers, who was accused of plotting a “terrorist” act.
The 29-year-old man was arrested in the economic capital Casablanca “for his alleged involvement in the preparation of a terrorist scheme aimed at seriously undermining public order,” Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ) said in a statement.
The suspect had carried out “reconnaissance visits to identify certain security checkpoints, with a view to attacking them and using their weapons in terrorist operations,” the BCIJ added.
The suspect had reportedly sought to “join terrorist organizations” including those based in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in Syria and Iraq.
In 2003, Casablanca was hit by a dozen suicide bombers, killing 33 people and wounding dozens more.
Since then, Morocco has been spared major attacks, but its security services regularly report foiling plots.
Since 2002, Moroccan police claim to have dismantled 2,000 “terror cells” and arrested some 3,500 people in cases linked to terror, according to the BCIJ.


British man died in Qatar after detention, torture by secret police: Report

British man died in Qatar after detention, torture by secret police: Report
Updated 29 September 2022

British man died in Qatar after detention, torture by secret police: Report

British man died in Qatar after detention, torture by secret police: Report
  • Marc Bennett, 52, was found hanged in a hotel in 2019 after 3 weeks without charge in jail
  • British coroner ruled there was ‘no specific evidence of suicidal intent’

LONDON: A British travel industry expert found hanged in Doha in 2019 told friends he had been arrested and tortured by Qatari secret police 10 weeks before his death, The Times reported on Thursday.

Marc Bennett, 52, had been hired by Qatar Airways to work on improving tourism to the Gulf country ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

He was arrested at the company’s Doha headquarters, blindfolded and handcuffed, and told friends he had been stripped, hosed, assaulted, and subjected to sleep deprivation over a period of three weeks in detention.

He was then prevented from leaving the country after his release, not knowing if he would be re-arrested, and placed in “legal limbo,” according to his family.

His arrest came after he resigned from Qatar Airways and received a job offer from a Saudi travel firm, something a former colleague said had been taken as a “massive insult” by figures within the company.

Qatar Airways said Bennett, who worked closely with the airline’s CEO Akbar Al-Baker, was discovered to have sent “highly confidential documents” to a private email address, which was reported to police.

Bennett was released on Nov. 2, 2019, the day before a UN legal team was due to visit Qatar to inspect the state of the country’s detention centers over allegations of human rights abuses.

The team from the UN’s working group on arbitrary detention was denied access to the facility he was held at.

Bennett was left at a hotel in Doha with no documents relating to his arrest or any legal proceedings he might face.

A Qatari coroner ruled Bennett’s death suicide, but a British coroner said there was “no specific evidence of suicidal intent” and “the circumstances of the months leading up to his death remain unclear.”

Bennett left no suicide note, and despite being popular, with a wide circle of friends and family, gave no indication of intending to take his own life.

The night before his death, he was described as “laughing and joking” during a video call with his family back in the UK.

His widow Nancy Bennett, 51, told The Times: “There are so many questions. He left here with the whole world ahead of him.”

The UN legal team investigating human rights abuses in Qatar has said there are “credible allegations” that the unit that detained Bennett engages in extra-judicial arrests and mistreatment of prisoners.

“When the working group decided to visit one of the state security detention facilities, in relation to which it had received credible allegations of prolonged detention without judicial control and of ill-treatment, it was prevented from doing so,” it said.

“Equally, when the working group visited some other places of deprivation of liberty, it found these facilities nearly empty and received credible reports that detainees had been transferred to other facilities prior to its arrival.”

An investigation into Bennett’s treatment and death by the UK Foreign Office was closed, despite the findings of the coroner and concerns of the family, by Liz Truss, a week after she became foreign secretary in September 2021.

Truss, now the UK’s prime minister, visited Qatar in October that year for “strategic dialogue,” and to foster “deeper co-operation on security, development, trade and investment.”

In May 2020, the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, announced a £10 billion ($10.845 billion) investment package for the UK.

Qatar has faced routine accusations of mistreatment of foreign workers in the build up to the World Cup.

The Mail on Sunday reported that of the approximately 30,000 recruited to build infrastructure for the tournament, 2,823 foreign laborers have died in Qatar since 2011 in unexplained circumstances, with another 551 committing suicide.

One British businessman told The Times: “Whether you’re a Pakistani laborer or a well-to-do British guy, you will be treated like dirt if your employer turns against you.

“It feels like you’re a slave. You can’t even leave the country for a weekend away without the permission of your employer.”

A Foreign Office spokesman told The Times: “We provided assistance to the family of a British man following his death in Doha.”


Iran celebrities warned against inciting Mahsa Amini protests

Iran celebrities warned against inciting Mahsa Amini protests
Updated 29 September 2022

Iran celebrities warned against inciting Mahsa Amini protests

Iran celebrities warned against inciting Mahsa Amini protests
  • A number of Iranian sportsmen as well as actors and filmmakers have put their support behind the movement
  • Iran’s judiciary chief Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei has criticized celebrities over their actions

TEHRAN: Iranian celebrities were warned Thursday against coming out in support of protests that flared across the country over the death of young Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in morality police custody.
A wave of unrest has rocked Iran since the 22-year-old died on September 16 after her arrest by the morality police in Tehran for reportedly failing to observe the Islamic republic’s strict dress code for women.
The street violence has led to the deaths of dozens of people — mostly protesters but also members of the security forces — and hundreds of arrests.
“We will take action against the celebrities who have fanned the flames of the riots,” Tehran provincial governor Mohsen Mansouri said, quoted by ISNA news agency.
A number of Iranian sportsmen as well as actors and filmmakers have put their support behind the movement, asking authorities to listen to the people’s demands.
Iran’s two-time Oscar winning director Asghar Farhadi on Sunday urged people around the world to “stand in solidarity” with the protesters.
“They are looking for simple yet fundamental rights that the state has denied them for years,” Farhadi said, in a video message on Instagram.
At a football match against Senegal in Vienna on Tuesday, the entire Iranian team remained dressed in black during the anthems rather than exposing the national strip.
In an Instagram post, star forward Sardar Azmoun condemned the authorities and appeared to complain of a gag order against the team, before retracting his statement.
Another former prominent player, Ali Karimi, has repeatedly supported the protests and condemned Amini’s death on Instagram and Twitter, saying not even holy water could “wash away this disgrace.”
Iran’s judiciary chief Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei has criticized celebrities over their actions.
“Those who became famous thanks to support from the system have joined the enemy when times were difficult, instead of being with the people,” said Ejei.
“All of them should know that they have to pay back the material and spiritual damage caused to the people and the country,” he added.