Iran lodges hijab case against journalists day after release

Niloufar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi were released on bail and cannot travel abroad. (AFP/File)
Niloufar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi were released on bail and cannot travel abroad. (AFP/File)
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Updated 16 January 2024
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Iran lodges hijab case against journalists day after release

Iran lodges hijab case against journalists day after release
  • Niloufar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi were released Sunday from Tehran’s Evin prison, where they had been held for their coverage of Mahsa Amini’s death
  • A photo depicting the journalists without hijab circulated on social media

TEHRAN: Iran’s judiciary said Monday it had launched new proceedings against two journalists for posing without the mandatory headscarf upon their release after more than a year in prison.
Niloufar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi were released Sunday from Tehran’s Evin prison, where they had been held for their coverage of the September 2022 death in custody of a young woman which sparked nationwide protests.
Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd, had been arrested for an alleged breach of strict dress rules for women.
Images of the two journalists smiling and holding hands outside the prison circulated on social media following their release.
The judiciary’s Mizan Online website noted the photos showed “the women without hijab,” which has been made obligatory for women in public spaces since shortly after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.
Mizan said “a new case was filed against the defendants” as a result.
The terms of the journalists’ release on bail bar them from traveling abroad, Mizan said on Sunday.
In October, the judiciary said they had been found guilty of collaboration with Iran’s arch enemy the United States, conspiring against state security and “propaganda” against the Islamic republic.
Mohammadi, 36, was subsequently given six years in prison and Hamedi, 31, was handed a seven-year term for the collaboration offense, said Mizan at the time.
The two also received five-year sentences each for the conspiracy charges and one year for propaganda, said Mizan, adding the sentences would be served concurrently.
The two have since appealed their sentences and Tasnim news agency has said they “will remain out of jail until the appeals court makes a decision.”
Hamedi was arrested less than a week after Amini’s death, when she went to the hospital where Amini was being treated and posted a photo of the grieving family on social media.
Mohammadi was detained after going to Amini’s hometown of Saqez, in the western Iranian province of Kurdistan, to cover her funeral which turned into a demonstration.
In August, Iranian media reported that authorities had questioned or arrested more than 90 journalists since the protests triggered by Amini’s death erupted across the country.
Hundreds of people, including dozens of security personnel, were killed in the unrest and thousands of demonstrators were arrested, accused by the authorities of taking part in “riots” fomented by the West.


London’s Evening Standard to move to weekly print edition

London’s Evening Standard to move to weekly print edition
Updated 29 May 2024
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London’s Evening Standard to move to weekly print edition

London’s Evening Standard to move to weekly print edition
  • British freesheet said move is needed to secure title’s long-term future

LONDON: London’s Evening Standard newspaper on Wednesday announced plans to shift from its daily print edition to a weekly format.

The outlet said the decision was driven by several factors, including the introduction of Wi-Fi on the London Underground, fewer commuters due to the increase on the number of people working remotely, and changing reader habits.

“The substantial losses accruing from the current operations are not sustainable. Therefore, we plan to consult with our staff and external stakeholders to reshape the business, return to profitability and secure the long-term future of the No.1 news brand in London,” Paul Kanareck, the newspaper’s chair, told staff on Wednesday morning.

He said the company planned to launch “a brand new weekly newspaper later this year and consider options for retaining ES Magazine — the company’s weekly magazine — with reduced frequency.”

Kanareck emphasized a strategic shift toward enhancing the newspaper’s digital presence, which currently averages 12 million monthly visitors.

The Evening Standard, owned by Russian-British businessman and co-owner of The Independent, Evgeny Lebedev, has accumulated millions of pounds in debt over the past few years.

The memo also indicated that the plans and their impact on staff levels would be subject to consultation, raising concerns about potential job losses.

Founded in 1827, the Standard was bought by Lebedev in 2009 for just £1 ($0.80).

Since then, the London newspaper transitioned to a freesheet format, with average distribution dropping from nearly 900,000 copies 10 years ago to 270,000 today.

The new proposed weekly Evening Standard, Kanareck said, will feature “more in-depth analysis of the issues that matter to Londoners, and serve them in a new and relevant way by celebrating the best London has to offer.”

These changes, he said, will “reinforce the relationship between our 24/7 digital platforms and our weekly publication.”


Trump’s Arab-American supporters to launch committee, advert undermining Biden

Trump’s Arab-American supporters to launch committee, advert undermining Biden
Updated 29 May 2024
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Trump’s Arab-American supporters to launch committee, advert undermining Biden

Trump’s Arab-American supporters to launch committee, advert undermining Biden
  • Arab News gets exclusive look at #YallaTrump2024 campaign
  • Graphic video targets Biden’s support of Israel’s war on Gaza

Chicago, US: Arab Americans who support Donald Trump’s reelection have set up a new political action committee to strengthen public “understanding” of why he is a better choice than President Joe Biden, and will broadcast a video advertisement claiming the latter has betrayed the community, Arab News has learned exclusively.

The new body, named Arab Americans for a Better America or ABE-PAC, was formed this week following a series of meetings Trump supporters held with community leaders in several cities.

The first meeting was held in Troy, Michigan on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, featuring several speakers including Massad Boulos and his son Michael who is married to Trump’s daughter, Tiffany.

It was co-organized by Bishara Bahbah, the national chairperson of Arab Americans for Trump, an independent organization that is separate from the official Trump campaign. A keynote speaker at the meetings is Trump’s former director of National Intelligence, Richard Grenell.

“A new Republican Arab-American political action committee has been formed to support conservative causes and Trump’s reelection,” said Oubai Shahbandar who is coordinating the cross-country meetings between the former president’s supporters and Arab voters.

“It’s called ABE-PAC and we will announce it later this week with a hard-hitting, inaugural video ad that we will be distributing throughout the Arab-American community.”

The new advertisement slams Biden for his “broken promises” and includes an array of images that is meant to depict his support and funding of Israel’s military assault on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

It features Biden saying: “Who cares about the Arab population.” The two-minute video has graphic images of the carnage in Gaza including the recent bombing of a refugee camp in Rafah that killed many Palestinian women and children.

The advertisement also features references to the growing #AbandonBiden movement which has urged Arab and Muslim voters to reject the US president in key Democratic primary elections and “swing states” where he barely defeated Trump in the 2020 election.

Arab News was given an exclusive look at the campaign video which is built on the slogan #YallaTrump2024 and funded by Republican and conservative Arab Americans from across the US.

Biden and Trump, who won their party election primaries in July and August respectively, will likely face-off in the Nov. 5 presidential election.

Voters have expressed skepticism about both candidates, with many Americans saying they are not enthusiastic about their choices.

An IPSOS survey in May revealed that the main issue landscape remains mixed, but any future developments in the war in Gaza are expected to push the needle one way or another.


UAE’s Anwar Gargash urges peaceful resolution amid ‘monstrous’ Gaza violence

UAE’s Anwar Gargash urges peaceful resolution amid ‘monstrous’ Gaza violence
Updated 29 May 2024
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UAE’s Anwar Gargash urges peaceful resolution amid ‘monstrous’ Gaza violence

UAE’s Anwar Gargash urges peaceful resolution amid ‘monstrous’ Gaza violence
  • Advisor to the UAE president says Arab peace initiative underway
  • Israel’s ‘criminal government’ does not reflect ‘values’ of Judaism

DUBAI: Dr. Anwar Gargash, diplomatic advisor to the UAE president, says the violence in Gaza has reached “monstrous levels” and called on the international community to find a peaceful solution to the carnage.

Speaking on the final day of the Arab Media Forum in Dubai on Wednesday, Gargash expressed shock at the scale of the violence in Gaza.

“The targeting of innocents have taken on monstrous levels. We have witnessed wars in Palestine before but never at such a level of monstrosity,” he said. “The region cannot sustain further escalations.”

Gargash reaffirmed that neighboring Arab countries support the Palestinian cause.

“We believe in the cause, our conscience simply will not permit us to abandon our support to Palestine especially in light of the ugliness we see today coming out of Gaza and most recently from Rafah.

“The current right-wing, criminal government in Israel does not equate (to) Jewish values.”

Gargash highlighted the UAE’s continued support for Gaza and said the displacement of Palestinians from “spot to spot” must end.

“Israel is undermining itself with its current policies and actions. We support the establishment of the Palestinian state. We need a clear roadmap to guarantee its independent establishment. If both sides wish to live in peace this is the only way to go.”

He mentioned an ongoing Arab initiative aimed at fostering peace, warning that states must take control of the situation to prevent further chaos.

“While the global conscience has been awakened, we cannot wait for the world,” he noted. “Active steps and initiatives must be taken now or else this will remain a pipe dream.”

Participating in a panel discussion, the Emirati diplomat also accused the international community of double standards.

“Look at the difference of approach between Ukraine and Palestine. Mind you, both are still going through war. The old approaches must go, the current system is not working anymore to solve anything. We need to find new ways and cooperation for a better outcome.”

He urged Arab states to unite and collaborate beyond politics, and added that the UAE was committed to expanding regional ties and mending relations with Iran.

“For the past 12 to 15 years with all the events that happened in the Arab world, we saw it give way to radical ideologies, rise of militias, vacuum powers filled in with outside influences, and ideologies that sprung about opposing healthy nationalism.

“We continue to deal with these problems. We need a better cooperation between Arab states, a willingness to change old, sick module, for the collective betterment of the region.”


‘All Eyes on Rafah’ image garners millions of shares in latest social media solidarity campaign

‘All Eyes on Rafah’ image garners millions of shares in latest social media solidarity campaign
Updated 29 May 2024
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‘All Eyes on Rafah’ image garners millions of shares in latest social media solidarity campaign

‘All Eyes on Rafah’ image garners millions of shares in latest social media solidarity campaign
  • Slogan stems from WHO director’s comments urging people to pay attention to Rafah following Netanyahu’s evacuation plan
  • Post is believed to be first example of AI-generated viral activist artwork

LONDON: The image “All Eyes on Rafah” has garnered millions of shares in the latest social media solidarity campaign, drawing widespread attention to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza.

The post renewed advocacy efforts following a deadly Israeli airstrike on the city in southern Gaza.

According to Forbes, the slogan appears to have originated from a comment by Rik Peeperkorn, director of the World Health Organization’s Office of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

In February, Peeperkorn used the phrase to shift attention toward Rafah after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered an evacuation plan for the city ahead of planned attacks targeting what Netanyahu claims are the last remaining strongholds of the militant group Hamas.

By Wednesday morning, the post had surpassed 40 million shares on Instagram, with the hashtag #AllEyesonRafah trending across social media platforms.

The image, believed to be one of the first examples of AI-generated viral activist artwork, depicts tents in a camp arranged to spell out “All Eyes on Rafah.”

The phrase is intended to highlight the plight of Rafah, where local authorities reported the loss of at least 45 civilian lives following an Israeli airstrike on Sunday, which Netanyahu described on Monday as a “tragic mistake.”

Israel has faced international scrutiny for the attack, which is part of a broader offensive by the Israeli army in and around Rafah.

The decision has been widely condemned by world leaders who have urged Israel to halt its invasion in an area where about 1.4 million displaced Palestinians from elsewhere in the Gaza Strip had sought shelter.

Last Friday, the International Court of Justice ordered an immediate halt to the offensive, a position rejected by Israel.

In an opinion piece in The Jewish Chronicle on Wednesday, journalist Josh Kaplan described the post as “another vapid, lazy way to say ‘I care,’” arguing that the slogan “is one in the long canon of feel good posts that achieve very little but make the sharer feel, even just for a second, like they’re doing something to help.”

Kaplan wrote: “I understand that there is outrage at the way Israel is conducting its war. The images coming out of Gaza often feel indefensible. But what does sharing an AI image that looks nothing like Gaza actually do?”

He added: “To learn about the conflict and to formulate an opinion that maintains dignity for all sides is something that cannot be accomplished by sharing an Instagram post. All it does is make Israelis, who will have to be involved in any future peace process, feel, yet again, that the world doesn’t care about their suffering.”


US presses TikTok, Meta and X to crack down on antisemitic posts

US presses TikTok, Meta and X to crack down on antisemitic posts
Updated 29 May 2024
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US presses TikTok, Meta and X to crack down on antisemitic posts

US presses TikTok, Meta and X to crack down on antisemitic posts
  • Bloomberg News reports that US special envoy requested big tech to designate a policy team member to address the issue, publicly report trends
  • Deborah Lipstadt also asked to differentiate between criticism of the Israeli government and hatred directed at Jews

LONDON: The Biden administration is urging big technology companies to ramp up efforts to curb antisemitic content on their platforms, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday.
Representatives from companies including Alphabet, Meta, Microsoft, TikTok and X met on Thursday with US special envoy Deborah Lipstadt to monitor and combat antisemitism.
Lipstadt requested that each company designate a policy team member to address the issue and conduct training for key personal to identify antisemitism and publicly report trends in anti-Jewish content.
“We welcomed this convening and were pleased to come together to share facts about the ongoing steps TikTok takes on this important issue and to continue to learn from experts in the room,” a TikTok spokesperson said.
Alphabet, Microsoft, Meta and X did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
Countries around the world have seen a rise in antisemitism following the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on southern Israel and subsequent bombardment of the Gaza Strip by the Israeli military.
The companies have not yet agreed to voluntary moves, but the administration is hopeful they will act soon, Lipstadt told Bloomberg News.
The administration is also requesting staff training in order to help identify more implicit antisemitic messages on online platforms and to differentiate between criticism of the Israeli government and hatred directed at Jews, Lipstadt added.