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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Christian wins landmark discrimination case

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that a British Airways employee suffered discrimination at work over her Christian beliefs. Nadia Eweida took her case to the ECHR after BA made her stop wearing her white gold cross visibly. In a landmark judgment defining the limits of religious freedom, Judges ruled her rights had been violated under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Eweida was awarded €2,000 (£1,600) in compensation by the court in Strasbourg after it ruled against the United Kingdom, stating in its judgement that manifesting religion is a “fundamental right”. But three other Christian applicants lost their appeals: Lilian Ladele, a local authority registrar who also lives in London; Shirley Chaplin, 57, a nurse from Exeter; and Gary McFarlane, 51, a Bristol marriage counsellor. Secular groups have welcomed a Strasbourg court ruling that religious freedoms do not trump other human rights as a victory against discrimination.

Pakistan’s supreme court orders arrest of prime minister

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and 15 others over corruption allegations, raising fears of a political crisis just months ahead of an election. The arrest was ordered in connection with a long-running scandal involving contracts for power stations, but the timing of the intervention by Pakistan’s highly political judiciary raised instant suspicions. Fawad Chaudhry, an adviser to the prime minister, described it as a “soft coup” designed to bolster the position of Tahir-ul-Qadri, who is camped out with about 20,000 demonstrators. The news broke on television stations as a Muslim cleric addressed tens of thousands of protesters who have massed on the capital city for an extended sit-in to protest against corruption and electoral malpractice by Pakistan’s politicians. The Pakistani government has often been at loggerheads in recent years with the judiciary and military.

Mali troops expected to more than triple

France is expected to more than triple its troop numbers in Mali as raids continue on Islamist insurgents following overnight air strikes on a small town that had been seized by the rebels. Sources close to the French defence minister said French troop numbers would “progressively” reach 2,500. Meanwhile, troops from a regional West African force will be in Mali within days to help a French intervention against Islamist rebels, Nigeria says. French President Francois Hollande, who arrived early on Tuesday in the United Arab Emirates, added that overnight strikes in Mali had “achieved their objective“. France has continued to launch air strikes against Islamist rebels in Mali as plans to deploy African troops gathered pace on Tuesday.

Police pay to be cut by 20%

The starting salary for police constables in England and Wales is being cut by £4,000 to £19,000, the home secretary has confirmed. Theresa May has accepted the recommendations on reform made by the Police Arbitration Tribunal, equivalent to cutting starting salaries by almost a fifth. The package, which was revealed as part of several political developments, also includes the phasing out of automatic “competence-related threshold payments” of £1,000 a year that have been criticised as “grab a grand” allowances. However, the Home Secretary said plans to bring in compulsory severance across all ranks will be held back for further negotiation.

Cuba confirms 51 cholera cases in Havana

Cuba’s health ministry has confirmed a cholera outbreak in Havana with 51 people infected – the biggest incidence of the disease there in decades. The country’s capital released an official statement saying health workers had detected an increase in “watery diarrhoea” in some districts, which has been established as cholera. The statement did not say if anyone had died from the disease. Fears were increasing in recent days as doctors began making door-to-door enquiries in Havana but officials until now had kept silent.

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