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Friday, September 21, 2012

Thirteen Killed as Protests Against Anti-Islam Film Turn Violent in Pakistan

At least 13 people were killed and nearly 200 wounded in Pakistan in violent protests against an U.S.-produced anti-Islam film across the country’s major cities. The protests defied a government call for peaceful demonstrations in a day it had declared as a “Special Day of Love” for the Prophet Mohammed. Nine protesters were killed in Karachi, the country’s largest city, and four in Peshawar. Another 195 were wounded in different demonstrations in Karachi, Peshawar and the capital Islamabad. One of those killed in Karachi was a police officer shot during a firefight with protesters. Running battles broke out when protesters tried to march toward the U.S. consulate in the city, throwing stones and pushing road-blocks out of the way. The demonstrators also torched a variety of cinemas across the country. The troubles in Pakistan occurred despite a publicity campaign by the U.S. government, which included the purchase of time on the country’s main television stations for the display of a speech by President Barack Obama condemning the film.

French Far-Right Leader Calls for Expulsion of Foreign Fundamentalists

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen used an interview published by Le Monde on Friday to launch an attack on protesters who are against the U.S.-produced anti-Islam film and the Prophet Mohammed caricatures published by French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. When asked what she made of the whole situation, Le Pen said that the protests were the result of years of complacency and softness, adding that there was a “need for authority” and that negotiations with the protesters would be impossible. Among the measures she would introduce if she were elected president, Le Pen said that she would “show the door to all foreign fundamentalists” and would also ban Muslim headscarves and Jewish skullcaps from public places, schools, shops and public transport. She would also extend the ban to halal and kosher meals in public school cafeterias. President François Hollande reacted to the interview by saying that such comments were divisive and inappropriate.

Three Gunmen, One Israeli Soldier Killed in Skirmish Near the Egyptian Border

Three militants crossed into Israel from Egypt and killed an Israeli soldier before being shot dead by Israeli forces in Mount Harif, a desolate border area in the Sinai. An Egyptian security source told Reuters that one of the gunmen was killed when a bomb he was carrying detonated and the other two were killed in gun battles with Israeli forces. The skirmish was the fourth cross-border attack since the ousting of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and is certain to increase Israeli concerns about the security situation in the Sinai peninsula. Israel is erecting a fence on the border with Egypt to curb the influx of African migrants and improve security. The fence will span nearly 300 kilometres from Eilat, a popular Israeli resort on the Red Sea, to the Gaza Strip.

Assad Says Arab Spring Brought Chaos, Will Defeat Rebels

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has told an Egyptian weekly magazine that the Arab Spring has brought chaos to the region and that the Syrian rebel movement would be defeated. He used the interview with al-Ahram al-Arabi to say that he would not be toppled like the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. “The armed groups exercise terrorism against the state. They are not popular within society. The state will not stand with its hands tied in the face of those who bear arms against us”. On the Arab Spring, Assad said that the uprisings had not “worked in the interest of freedom, democracy or ending social justice as much as it helped create chaos”. He pointed fingers at Qatar, saying they were attempting to buy international relevance after a prolonged period of poverty, at Turkey for its ambitions of creating a “new Ottoman empire” and at Saudi Arabia, who did not appreciate the “axis against Zionism advocated by Syria”, suggesting that Syria, Iran and Hezbollah were the region’s only defence against Israel.

U.K. Chief Whip Calls Policeman a “Pleb”, Federation Calls for His Sacking

The U.K. government’s chief whip has reportedly sworn at police officers days after two women police constables were shot dead in Manchester. Andrew Mitchell, a Member of Parliament responsible for ensuring that governing coalition members attend sessions and vote as the Prime Minister desires, was leaving his office in Downing Street on a bicycle when a police officer asked him to dismount and walk up to the gate, where he could once again mount his ride. An article in the Sun tabloid newspaper reports that Mitchell turned to the police officer and told him to learn his place, as well as reminding him that he didn’t run the government. He also reportedly called the policeman a “pleb”. The chief whip is reported to have later apologised to the police officer and invited him to Downing Street on his day off. Prime Minister David Cameron, who was visiting the Greater Manchester Police headquarters to honour the fallen women police constables, reprimanded his chief whip. “What Andrew Mitchell said and what he did was not appropriate. It was wrong and it is right that he has apologised”. John Tully, the Metropolitan Police federation chairman, has called on him to quit. He told the BBC that “if that was one of my members speaking to a member of government they’d be on the carpet now and would be gone within days”.

Weekend Read: The Next Panic

Europe’s crisis will be followed by a more devastating one, likely beginning in Japan. Its debt has risen as its tax base has shrunk and debt levels are now compared to those of Greece. In The Atlantic.

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