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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Egyptian Police Breaks Up Pro-Morsi Protest

Egyptian police moved in with tear gas to disperse a protest by supporters of toppled president Mohammed Morsi, who were showing their anger at the appointment of army officers as local governors and were met with bottles and stones thrown by local residents in central Cairo. Witnesses said the same residents had been calling the marchers terrorists and pelting them with objects from balconies lining the streets. BBC correspondent Mishal Husain said the clashes were a sign of deepening divisions in Egyptian society. Meanwhile, Nobel laureate Tawakkul Karman, the first Arab woman to receive the prize, said that the army’s overthrown of Morsi was the death knell for the Arab Spring. “The first emerging democracy in Egypt’s history and the first in the region since the Arab spring is quickly being dismantled”, she said.

Muslims Receive Death Sentence as Ethnic Conflict Grows in Western China

Two Muslim men have been sentenced to death and another three jailed over a clash in China’s Xinjiang region that left 21 people dead last April. Chinese prosecutors said it was a planned attack by a “violent terrorist group”, but others say it was an ethnic clash. “There have been no independent accounts of what happened, until now. The government’s story is the only one that has been put forward. We found people that were scared to talk to journalists. Some said they had been threatened by officials, warned not to speak to outsiders”, wrote the BBC’s Damian Grammaticas. The region is composed of Muslim Uighurs, who make up about 45% of the region’s population, while 40% are ethnic Han Chinese. Uighurs have feared the large-scale Han influx, saying it threatens the erosion of their culture, while central authorities frequent blame any violent incidents on Uighur extremists.

Gunmen Kill 44 During Prayers at Mosque in Nigeria

Suspect Islamic militants wearing Nigerian army uniforms killed 44 people during prayers at a mosque in Konduga, northern Nigeria, where a state of emergency has been in place for the last three months. While no organisation has claimed responsibility for the attack, it is thought that the strike might have been carried out by Islamic extremist group Boko Haram as revenge for local citizens cooperating with local authorities in identifying its members. Separately, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility for other attacks and challenged world leaders to come and get him. “I’m challenging Obama”, said Shekau, while listing other world leaders and boasting “they are not match for me”.

Mexico Proposes to Break Up Internal Oil Monopoly

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has proposed to open up the country’s nationalised oil sector in a bid to boost Mexico’s economy and bring in more foreign investment. Currently, foreign oil firms can only be awarded service contracts by the state monopoly, Pemex, who has held the monopoly for over 75 years. Peña Nieto’s plan would allow private companies to share the risks and profits inherent in exploring new fields, much like the model followed by Brazil’s Petrobras. It would reduce Mexican dependence on foreign oil imports, making up almost half of its internal consumption. “With the reform that we are presenting, we will make the energy sector one of the most powerful engines in the economy”, said the president during the unveiling of the plan on Monday.

Fidel Castro Turns 87 Away from the Limelight

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro turned 87 on Tuesday, largely out of sight while the island struggles to move on from his five decades in power. The only event planned was a low-key choral concert at the José Martí monument in Havana, a marked difference to the parades during his years in power. “No one believes anymore that Fidel has any real influence over day-to-day policy, but that doesn’t mean he is never consulted on big questions or that when he comes out it isn’t important”, said a western diplomat quoted by the Reuters news agency. Those who have seen him in his occasional walks in the outskirts of Havana, where he lives, say he is lucid and in good shape despite repeated surgeries. “He was old, but the same old Fidel, asking questions, citing statistics from last year and before, shuffling around, chuckling and talking with everyone. His mind was still amazing”, said a worker who met him.

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