Iran detains journalist whose sister is behind bars for Mahsa Amini coverage

Iran detains journalist whose sister is behind bars for Mahsa Amini coverage
Elnaz's twin sister Elaheh remains in detention. (Iran International/Sourced)
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Updated 07 February 2023

Iran detains journalist whose sister is behind bars for Mahsa Amini coverage

Iran detains journalist whose sister is behind bars for Mahsa Amini coverage
  • Elnaz took part in covering the death of Mahsa Amini while in custory of Iran's morality police
  • US-based NGO for journalists' protection urges Iran to release all detained journalists

LONDON: Iran-based journalist Elnaz Mohammadi was detained on Sunday at the Evin prosecutor’s office in Tehran while her sister, journalist Elaheh Mohammadi, also remains in custody following her coverage of Mahsa Amini’s death.

Elnaz, head of the social issues desk at the state-run reformist Hammihan newspaper, was summoned by the local authorities “for an explanation,” Shargh daily reported.

Elnaz is the twin sister of Elaheh, who was arrested in Sep. 2022 for reporting on the Sep. 16 incident involving Iran’s morality police, which sparked country-wide protests.

Elaheh, alongside journalist Nilufar Hamedi, has been behind bars since Sep. 29 for “conspiracy to commit a crime against national security and propaganda against the establishment,” according to Iran International.

Elaheh and Hamedi face the death penalty if charged and convicted of espionage.

Like her sister, Elnaz covered the fallout from Amini’s death in her work at Hammihan.

The Committee to Protect Journalists demanded on Monday that Iranian authorities drop any charges against Elnaz and release her immediately and unconditionally.

It could not be immediately verified where Elnaz was held or whether any charges have been filed against her, CPJ wrote in a statement.

“Iranian authorities must immediately release Elnaz Mohammadi, her sister Elaheh, and all other journalists arrested over their coverage of Mahsa Amini’s death and the ensuing protests,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator.

“Authorities must let members of the press do their work without fear that they will be summoned and detained,” he added.

The Iranian judiciary has recently expedited the process to sentence — or free on bail — journalists and protesters, sending journalist Hossein Yazidi, who was arrested on Dec. 5, 2022, to prison for a year as well as imposing on him a two-year travel ban, as per Shargh newspaper.

‘Cleanfluencers’ sweep TikTok, drawing millions

‘Cleanfluencers’ sweep TikTok, drawing millions
Updated 23 March 2023

‘Cleanfluencers’ sweep TikTok, drawing millions

‘Cleanfluencers’ sweep TikTok, drawing millions
  • With the global rise of TikTok, cleaning videos have become hugely popular on social media, inspiring a growing number to start posting content

HELSINKI, Finland: Marie Kondo may have admitted defeat, but a new generation of “cleanfluencers” is taking social media by storm, with millions watching them scour filthy homes and dole out cleaning hacks.
Digging through a mountain of trash, Auri Kananen uncovered a rotten piece of pizza on the floor of a Helsinki flat, with insects devouring it.
“I love cleaning, I love dirt,” declared the 30-year-old Finn, who has far more social media followers than Kondo, the Japanese tidying guru who has admitted embracing the messier side of life since having her third child.
Kananen has quickly become one of the world’s most successful “cleanfluencers,” traveling the globe hunting for “the dirtiest homes possible.”
“I remember when I had 19 followers. Even then it felt really cool to have 19 strangers wanting to see me clean,” said Kananen, or aurikatariina as she is known to her nine million followers on TikTok, with two million on YouTube.
In her upbeat videos, she dusts, scrubs and sorts, wearing her signature hot pink rubber gloves as zippy pop music plays in the background.
Her voiceovers often explain how the person she is helping ended up living in squalor.
“Usually people have some mental health problem or other tragedy that has happened in their lives,” Kananen told AFP.
The flat in Helsinki is the home of a depressed young man whose brother suffers from multiple sclerosis, she explained.
She can relate to people living in miserable conditions because she went through a period of depression herself, she said.
“I know how overwhelming it is,” she said.
But her experience has shown her that no situation is hopeless.
The comments sections of her videos are filled with people saying how her videos have helped them cope with their difficulties, praising her non-judgmental manner.
“I love how she is understanding the person in this situation and helping them instead of blaming them,” one commenter wrote.

With the global rise of TikTok, cleaning videos have become hugely popular on social media, inspiring a growing number to start posting content.
“I was watching videos and I thought, that’s what I do at home, I can just film myself doing it,” recalled 27-year-old Abbi, known as cleanwithabbi to her two million followers.
The English single mum films herself cleaning, doing the dishes and hoovering in her red brick home in Huyton near Liverpool.
Cleaning has always been an important part of her life as her youngest son Billy lives with sensory processing disorder.
“He really loves his routine and he does like things to be clean,” she said.
Now Abbi, who does not wish to reveal her full name, posts TikTok videos for a living. Brands sponsor her to use their products, and she earns between $720 and $1,200 a video.
Abbi — whose sons Jack and Billy are six and five — hits the record button on her phone and swiftly makes their beds, arranging the soft toys nicely.
“It relaxes me, it’s like therapy,” she told AFP.
“For me it’s like an escape from any worries I’ve got.”

Ann Russell, a 59-year-old full-time cleaner from the south of England, has a different approach.
Sitting on her sofa with her black dog Hollie, she answers a question from one of her TikTok followers, holding her phone up to her face.
To remove a felt tip mark from a wooden table without removing the varnish she recommends isopropyl alcohol: “Dip a cotton bud in it and just rub it gently.”
She said people need to be taught how to clean properly.
“If nobody told you, how on earth are you supposed to know?” she told AFP.
Russell makes between four and 12 videos every day, answering questions from her 2.3 million followers in a no-nonsense fashion.
“I turn the phone on, I talk to the phone, and that’s it. That’s about as good as it gets. I am not very proficient,” she said with a laugh.
The fact that cleaning “is satisfying” may be behind the videos’ success, Russell said.
Most of her and Abbi’s viewers are women and millennials, as well as people struggling to find the motivation to clean.
“Washing your socks, pairing them up and putting them in the drawer (gives) a sense of a good job well done,” she said.
“It makes people feel in control. And because they feel in control in their personal life, they feel that the outside world is a safer place.”

Media has key role to play in promoting Palestinian cause, says leading Muslim official

Media has key role to play in promoting Palestinian cause, says leading Muslim official
Updated 22 March 2023

Media has key role to play in promoting Palestinian cause, says leading Muslim official

Media has key role to play in promoting Palestinian cause, says leading Muslim official
  • Hissein Brahim Taha, secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said news organizations have a duty to ensure accurate coverage of Palestinian issues
  • He was speaking during a virtual workshop titled ‘Media Circulation of Terms of the Palestinian Cause,’ which addressed the role of the media in discourse on Palestinian issues

LONDON: The media has a critical role to play in helping to promote the Palestinian cause, according to Hissein Brahim Taha, the secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

He was speaking during a virtual workshop titled “Media Circulation of Terms of the Palestinian Cause,” which was organized on Tuesday by the Union of OIC News Agencies to address the role of media in discourse on Palestinian issues. The participants included diplomats and representatives of news agencies and media groups.

In his opening speech, Taha said the media can play a vital role in raising awareness of Palestinian issues and mobilizing support for the Palestinian people. It is important to ensure that Palestine and Al-Quds Al-Sharif remain at the forefront of the political and the media agendas, he added.

He said his organization is following, with great concern, the escalation of a media war waged by the Israeli occupation, whether in the form of systematic attacks against news organizations and their staff, or through the promotion of false narratives that deny the very existence of Palestinians and their rights.

On Tuesday, the OIC condemned remarks made by Israeli Minister of Finance Betzalel Smotrich in which he denied the existence of the Palestinian people, their history and their legitimate rights. The organization called on the international community “to reject and condemn these dangerous, racist allegations, which will undermine security and stability and fuel violence, tension and hatred.”

In Taha’s speech during the workshop, which was delivered on his behalf by Assistant Secretary General for Palestine and Al-Quds Affairs Samir Bakr Diab, he also called on the media to use accurate and balanced language when reporting on Palestinian issues, and to avoid rhetoric that might incite violence or hatred while offering a correct narrative. He urged news organizations to emphasize terms such as occupation, racism, ethnic cleansing, the Nakba, and colonial settlement.

During the workshop, the participants discussed a number of issues, including the importance of using unified terminology when reporting on the Palestinian cause and the need to avoid media bias.

They also called for the development of a reference guide for terminology related to discourse on Palestinian issues, and talked about how news agencies can confront misinformation and media manipulation through the use of terminology.

MBC Media Solutions launches self-serve ad platform for Shahid

MBC Media Solutions launches self-serve ad platform for Shahid
Updated 22 March 2023

MBC Media Solutions launches self-serve ad platform for Shahid

MBC Media Solutions launches self-serve ad platform for Shahid
  • MMS Works gives users more power to manage their marketing campaigns

LONDON: MBC Media Solutions (MMS), the commercial arm of MBC Group, announced on Wednesday the launch of a self-serve advertising platform for Shahid.

The new service, MMS Works, will enable users to advertise on the streaming platform, giving them more control over their marketing campaigns.

“Shahid is the sought-after VOD platform for all Arab viewers, especially during Ramadan. With the increased content library offered since the beginning of 2023, all advertisers can now enjoy this meaningful scale-to-connect solution with their target audiences,” MMS CEO Ahmed Al-Sahhaf said.

“MMS Works will expand the advertisement market potential and ease the way for brands to be present on Shahid, the world’s leading Arabic streaming platform.”

Through MMS Works, large and small brands can maximize their presence on Shahid AVOD and connect with millions of Arabs from around the world who tune into the video platform.

The new service allows brands and advertisers to manage their own marketing campaigns from start to finish.

Users can choose ad formats, target audiences, target impressions, upload ads, pay online and extract campaign reports, among other features.

In the platform’s launch phase, users will be able to pause ads and program native in-stream ads across both display and video needs.

In its second phase, the platform will expand its solutions and enhance the user experience, as well as introduce an Arabic interface.

MMS said its new service arrives at a perfect time, as users typically spend three hours per session on Shahid during Ramadan, viewing an average of 10.2 ads.

The platform, the region’s leading streaming service, is expected to see a significant increase in traffic during the holy month.

Suit says Meta board ‘turned blind eye’ to human trafficking

Suit says Meta board ‘turned blind eye’ to human trafficking
Updated 22 March 2023

Suit says Meta board ‘turned blind eye’ to human trafficking

Suit says Meta board ‘turned blind eye’ to human trafficking
  • Claims mischaracterize platform efforts to combat this type of activity, Meta argues

SAN FRANCISCO: A shareholder lawsuit filed late Monday accuses board members of Instagram and Facebook parent Meta of shirking their duties by ignoring human and sex trafficking on the tech giant’s social platforms.
The suit filed in the Court of Chancery in the US state of Delaware calls for Mark Zuckerberg, along with other executives and board members, to be ordered to institute reforms and pay damages.
Meta board members and senior executives named in the suit “turned a blind eye to sex/human trafficking, child sexual exploitation, and other predatory conduct occurring on Meta’s online platforms,” the suit charged.
Meta chief and controlling shareholder Zuckerberg is a primary target of the lawsuit.
“We prohibit human exploitation and child sexual exploitation in no uncertain terms,” Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said in reply to an AFP enquiry.
“The claims in this lawsuit mischaracterize our efforts to combat this type of activity.”
Those behind the suit include Employees’ Retirement System of the State of Rhode Island, Kiwi Investment Management Wholesale Core Global Fund, and Teamsters Pension Fund, according to the filing.
Meta has teams, policies, partnerships and software devoted to thwarting misuse of its platforms for criminal activities.
Meta already faces numerous lawsuits on an array of grounds, including whether it is harmful to the mental health of young users of its social networking services.
The tech titan has been under increasing pressure from legislators since 2021, when whistleblower Frances Haugen — a former Facebook engineer — leaked documents suggesting the firm put profits before safety.

Chalhoub Group launches Web3-native sneaker brand

Chalhoub Group launches Web3-native sneaker brand
Updated 22 March 2023

Chalhoub Group launches Web3-native sneaker brand

Chalhoub Group launches Web3-native sneaker brand
  • Designed by French designer Kacimi Latamene, new collection will launch on April 12

DUBAI: UAE-based Chalhoub Group has announced the launch of SOL3MATES, a Web3-native sneaker brand, which will produce limited-edition sneakers.

Self-described as a “community-centric sneaker brand,” SOL3MATES aims to create an immersive and engaging experience by involving its community members in all aspects of the sneaker journey, from onboarding new designers to the co-creation of upcoming sneaker drops.

To join the community, customers can buy a membership non-fungible token, or NFT, that will provide benefits such as early access, preferred pricing, virtual wearables, free merchandise, community events and access to monthly sneaker giveaways.

“We listen to our customers, notably in the shoe space where we like to think of ourselves as catalysts for innovation, and find answers to their demands,” said Michael Chalhoub, president of strategy, growth, innovation and investment and joint ventures at Chalhoub Group.

“SOL3MATES will be to the sneaker industry what the lace is to the shoe: The element that ties it all, that brings the physical and the digital together, and that links the sneaker community with the Web3 community in an original way,” he said.

SOL3MATES isn’t Chalhoub Group’s first venture in the Web3 space. Last year, the group’s Christofle entered the metaverse with its first NFT collection “925 Genesis MOOD,” which sold out in five minutes.  

Since then, “we started thinking what we could launch that could generate an even bigger impact.” The result is SOL3MATES, which “aims to be the small snowball that creates an avalanche of positive disruption in the sneaker industry, together with its community and the designers we’ll collaborate with,” said Nick Vinckier, head of corporate innovation and founder of SOL3MATES.

All of SOL3MATES’ sneaker collections will be designed in collaboration with upcoming sneaker designers from around the world.

The first collection, to be revealed on April 12, is designed by up-and-coming French designer Kacimi Latamene, who has worked with several leading designers such as Vitaly and Natasha Zinko.

Latamene said: “The most important aspect of this new brand is that it allows me to get in touch directly with the sneaker community. The SOL3MATES members will be involved in the entire journey. I’ll be able to build a relationship and share the story behind my designs.”

SOL3MATES sneakers will be available for pre-order in limited quantities and community members owning an NFT will have pre-access to the sneakers at a preferred price.

After the community pre-order window closes and if any sneakers remain, others will be able to pre-order the product.

The SOL3MATES sneakers will be delivered for free to community members worldwide one month before the public. They will also feature NFC authentication, AR augmentation and a virtual counterpart, wearable in Decentraland.

Last year, Chalhoub Group unveiled “GCC State of the Metaverse and its Potential for Luxury Retail,” a report which revealed the thoughts of Gulf consumers about Web3, which includes the metaverse, cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

The report showed high levels of awareness across all facets of Web3, with consumers being most aware of crypto (77 percent), followed by NFTs (49 percent) and the metaverse (46 percent), mainly among younger, high-income males predominantly in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman.  

Luxury consumers want to engage in metaverse experiences, with 89 percent saying that they would like to preview products in the metaverse and 87 percent saying they expect their favorite brands to be present in the metaverse.

Still, “we do not believe in a virtual-only future,” Vinckier told Arab News in a separate interview.

He added: “We don’t sell luxury. Luxury is the experience in the (purchase) journey and that will be the same for Web3.”