Middle East

Issued on: Modified:

Shaparak Shajarizadeh is an Iranian activist and co-author of "Freedom is not a crime". She relates how she got “fed up with living a lie” and decided to take off her veil in Iran as an act of civil disobedience. Detained three times, she tells she faced “the most horrible things in the world” during interrogations. She warns about the violation of human rights that have been “worsening” in her country, inRead More – Source

Middle East

Issued on: Modified:

Two Turkish soldiers have been killed and two others wounded in an air strike in Syrias northwestern province of Idlib, the defence ministry said on Thursday.

Advertising

Read more

Turkey, which supports several rebel groups in the area, immediately responded to the attack by hitting Syrian “regime targets”, the ministry said on Twitter.

The latest casualties have brought the number of Turkish security personnel killed in regime fire in Idlib this month to 19.

Damascus backed by Russian air strikes has pressed an offensive to take back the last rebel bastion of Idlib.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes since December in the largest displacement since the civil war in Syria broke out almost nine Read More – Source

Middle East

The rapper, who identifies herself as Asayel, posted the video last week. It shows her rapping about being a woman from Mecca. She is seen wearing a headscarf, singing in a coffee shop with backup dancers and children around her.According to the Mecca region's official Twitter account, the governor of Mecca, Prince Khalid bin Faisal ordered the arrest of those responsible for producing the song, which, it said, "offends the customs and traditions of the people of Mecca and contradicts the identity and traditions of its esteemed population."The prince also ordered the singer and her associates to be investigated and punished by the "relevant authorities." Earlier this week, Asayel's YouTube account was wiped out, but many other users have posted the music video. Mecca is the birthplace of Prophet Muhammad and the holiest site in Islam. Pilgrimage to Mecca, known as the Hajj, is one of the pillars of Islam. The call for Asayel's arrest comes amid efforts by the oil kingdom to modernize its strict social order and relax some of the many restrictions placed on women. In December last year, the government ended gender segregation at restaurants. In August, a ban was lifted on Saudi women holding passports and traveling abroad without the consent of a male guardian. In a landmark reform, women were granted the right to drive in 2017 and were issued their first drivers' licenses in 2018.Read More – Source

cnn
Middle East

Birth date: May 4, 1928Death date: February 25, 2020Birth place: Kafr-el Meselha, Minufiya, Egypt Birth name: Mohammed Hosni MubarakMarriage: Suzanne (Thabet) MubarakChildren: Gamal and AlaaEducation: Egyptian Military Academy, 1949; Air Force Academy, 1952, with additional training at the Frunze General Staff Academy (USSR), 19641952-1959 – Works as a flight instructor at the Egyptian Air Force Academy.1965-1967Commands several Air Force bases.1967-1969 – Commander of the Air Force Academy.1969-1972 – Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Air Force.1972-1975 – Commander in Chief of the Egyptian Air Force and Deputy Minister of War.1973 – Leads an air campaign against Israel during the Yom Kippur War.1974 – Promoted to the rank of Air Marshal of the Egyptian Air Force. 1975-1981 – Vice president of Egypt, serving under President Anwar Sadat. October 6, 1981 – During a military parade, Sadat is assassinated by a group of Islamic fundamentalists. Mubarak, standing next to Sadat, suffers an injury to his left hand.October 14, 1981 – Mubarak is sworn in as president of Egypt. He is later reelected four times, serving as president for almost 30 years before stepping down in 2011. June 26, 1995 – Survives an assassination attempt by an al Qaeda affiliated group.September 6, 1999 – Survives an assassination attempt in Port Said, Egypt. March 13, 2002 – Meets with US Vice President Dick Cheney and pledges to pressure Saddam Hussein into allowing the return of United Nations inspectors. June 6-8, 2002 – Meets with US President George W. Bush in Washington to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Mubarak's peace plan.March 13, 2006 – Meets with Pope Benedict XVI. They discuss Iraq, Iran and the prospects for Middle East peace. May 28, 2006 – Hosts a summit with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in an effort to coordinate security measures along the border between Israel and Egypt. June 17, 2006 – Meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and asks for renewed peace talks between Israel and Palestine.June 2007 – Holds a summit meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan, President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine and Prime Minister Olmert of Israel.August 18, 2009 – Meets in Washington with US President Barack Obama to discuss the process of peace in the Middle East.January 2011 – Inspired by street protests in Tunisia, activists in Cairo gather in Tahrir Square to demonstrate against corruption and inequality. The protesters call on Mubarak to resign.February 11, 2011 – Steps down as president.May 24, 2011 – Mubarak is charged with ordering the deaths of protesters. According to Amnesty International, more than 800 people were killed as the government cracked down on protesters. Mubarak also faces corruption charges. August 3, 2011 – Mubarak's trial begins.June 2, 2012 – Mubarak is found guilty of complicity in the deaths of protestors. Instead of getting the death penalty, he is sentenced to life in prison. The main trial judge says prosecutors did not make a strong enough case that Mubarak directly ordered the killing of civilians so he does not receive a death senteRead More – Source

cnn
Middle East

Issued on: Modified:

Saudi Arabia on Thursday suspended visas for pilgrims wishing to visit Mecca over coronavirus fears, the foreign ministry said.

Advertising

Read more

The government is "suspending entry to the Kingdom for the purpose of Umrah and visiting the Prophet's Mosque temporarily", the foreign ministry said in a statement, referring to the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca that can be undertaken at any time of year.

Umrah attracts tens of thousands of devout Muslims from all over the globe each month.

The foreign ministry said it was also suspending visas for tourists visiting from countries where the new virus is a "danger".

Even as the number of fresh cases declines at the epicentre of the disease in China, there has been a sudden increase in parts of Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

Read More – Source

Middle East

Issued on: Modified:

Also known as COVID-19, coronavirus is dominating headlines across the globe. And it's no different in the Middle East, where Iran has become the focal point of the epidemic. Inside the Islamic Republic, death toll rates are misleading. It is clear however, that the holy city of Qom is the epicentre of the outbreak. Now, while Iranian authorities have been implementing measures to stop the spread of Coronavirus, some have slammed various local media outlets for misinforming.

Advertising

One social media campaign wants to change that. At the helm of that initiative: Yasaman Hejazi. She is a sports entrepreneur, and she joins us from Tehran.

Next, we turn our attention to EgypRead More – Source

Middle East

Despite the spread of the virus, President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that authorities won't quarantine any Iranian cities. He also warned about the virus becoming "a weapon at the hands of our enemies," as part of "propaganda" against the country. Rouhani said the virus should not further cripple the country's economy. Iran has the most coronavirus cases in the Middle East, and is in an ongoing state of economic crisis. US sanctions on the country have seen its currency tank and unemployment grow. In China's Hubei province, the epicenter of the virus, reported fatal cases of coronavirus would put the death rate at around 2%. South Korea, another outbreak center for the sickness, would have a mortality rate from the virus of around 1% based on figures provided by that country. In Iran, according to numbers provided by the Iranian health ministry, the death rate from Covid-19 would be over 13%. It's unclear why Iran's mortality rate might be higher than other countries with outbreaks of the pathogen, but some suspect under-reporting of the total number of cases. The US sanctions have also dealt a blow to Iran's medical sector, which has struggled to keep up with soaring prices of medicines and medical instruments. Iranian officials are scrambling to contain the virus, as well as the fears it has sown. Many schools and public offices around the country have closed. On Wednesday, officials banned hookah from cafes in a bid to stem the contagion. But in the holy city of Qom, ground zero of the country's coronavirus outbreak, pilgrimages have continued unabated, despite health officials calling on clerics to limit visitors to the city. Iranian sanitary workers disinfect Qom's Masumeh shrine on February 25, 2020 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus which reached Iran.As of Tuesday, crowds still gathered around the shrine of Fatima Masumeh, a revered figure in Shia Islam, the religious sect of most Iranians. Throngs were seen touching the shrine and performing communal prayers. Of 28 new cases reported on Wednesday, 15 new cases were from Qom. Iranian officials are also becoming infected with the virus. On Tuesday, Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi tested positive for novel coronavirus, a day after downplaying the sickness at a news conference. At the presser, Harirchi appeared ill, wipRead More – Source

cnn
Middle East

Issued on: Modified:

Foreign ministers from 14 European countries, including France and Germany, demanded on Wednesday that Syrian government forces and their Russian backers end their offensive in Idlib province and return to the terms of a 2018 ceasefire deal.

Advertising

Read more

Nearly a million Syrians have been displaced in the past three months by fighting between Turkish-backed rebels and Russian-backed Syrian forces trying to recapture the last major insurgent-held region in Syria after nine years of war.

"We call on the Syrian regime and its supporters, especially the Russians, to end this offensive and return to the ceasefire arrangements of autumn 2018," the 14 ministers said in a column published in French daily newspaper Le Monde.

"We call on them to immediately end hostilities and to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular the protection of humanitarian workers and medical personnel, who pay with their lives for their engagement in favour of civilian populations."

Tribune | Quatorze ministres des affaires étrangères européens somment Damas et Moscou de cesser les combats à Idlib, où se joue « lune des pires catastrophes » de la guerre en Syrie https://t.co/iKmDzQJQAm

— Le Monde (@lemondefr) February 26, 2020

Turkey and Russia agreed in September 2018 to create de-escalation zones in Idlib, but that has since unravelled amid the Syrian government offensive, which it says aims to root out militants in the region.

Ankara has sent thousands of troops and truckloads of equipment into the region, in Syria's northwest corner bordering Turkey, to support the rebels, and TurkishRead More – Source

Middle East

Issued on: Modified:

Iran's deputy health minister confirmed on Tuesday that he has tested positive for the new coronavirus, amid a major outbreak in the Islamic republic.

Advertising

Read more

Iraj Harirchi coughed occasionally and wiped sweat from his brow repeatedly during a news conference in Tehran on Monday with government spokesman Ali Rabiei.

At the time, he denied a lawmaker's claim that 50 people had died from the virus in the Shiite shrine city of Qom, saying he would resign if the number proved accurate.

In a video broadcast on state television, the deputy minister put on a brave face as he admitted he was infected.

"I too have been infected with coronavirus," Harirchi said in the video apparently shot by himself.

"I had a fever as of last night and my preliminary test was positive around midnight," he said.

"I've isolated myself in a place since. A few minutes ago, I was told that my test was final, and now I am starting medication.

'Virus does not discriminate'

"I wanted to tell you that… we will definitely be victorious against this virus in the next few weeks," Harirchi declared.

But he warned Iranians to be careful as the "virus does not discriminate" and infects anyone, regardless of their standing.

Following news of Harirchi's infection, government spokesman Rabiei, who stood by his side on Monday, appeared at another news conference on Tuesday with the country's industries minister and other officials.

A prominent Iranian reformist politician, Mahmoud Sadeghi, also announced he had tested positive for the virus.

"My coronavirus test was positive. I send this message but I don't have much hope of staying alive," Sadeghi said in a tweet.

He used the occasion to call on the judiciary to provide prison leave time to those detained over political and security charges so that "they can go through this epidemic with their families".

Iran confirmed three more deaths and 34 new infections on Tuesday, taking the country's overall death toll to 15 and infection tally to 95.

The Islamic republic has been hit by the deadliest coronavirus outbreak by far outside China, the epidemic's epicentre.

Quarantine an 'old method'

According to the health ministry, most of the deaths and infections outside Qom are among people who have recently visited the holy city.

The ministry's spokesman Kianoush JaRead More – Source

Middle East

Children and women are among more than 80 civilians who have been "severely injured," said the medical relief group.Three nurses and a doctor were injured after Idlib Central Hospital was hit by an airstrike that heavily damaged the facility, the organization, which is based in Geneva, it also said."The hospital, which served 11,500 patients monthly, was forced to shut down given the safety risks posed by targeted airstrikes," the group said.The Syrian government said Tuesday its forces seized several towns and villages in the southern countryside of Idlib province after "army units carried out intensive operations against terrorists," the country's state-run news agency SANA reported.In the past two months, more than 832,000 people have fled the last opposition-held territory in Syria, in the wake of a relentless air campaign and a swift ground offensive by the Syrian regime and its Russian backers, according to the latest UN figures. Tens of thousands of people are still on the move. Nearly 700,000 of the newly displaced are women and children, the UN said.But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday in his address to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that a ceasefire in Idlib would be akin "capitulation to terrorists."At least 21 civilians, including nine children and three teachers, were killed when ten schools and a hospital were hit by ìairstrikes and ground attacksî in Idlib province in northwestern Syria on Tuesday, the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM) said in a statement."The desire to justify the atrocities of radical and terrorist groups prevails in the position of some of our colleagues, whether volunRead More – Source

cnn