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Friday, December 27, 2013

Blast Kills Lebanese Critic of Syrian Regime

A massive bomb blast killed former Lebanese finance minister Mohammed Chatah in Beirut on Friday, an action some of his allies said was retaliation for his continued criticism of the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, while also blaming the Hezbollah militia for the attack. The blast killed another five people. A message on his Twitter account, posted less than an hour before his death, said the Hezbollah was trying to take control of Lebanon. “Hezbollah is pressing hard to be granted similar powers in security and foreign policy matters that Syria exercised in Lebanon for 15 years”, it said. Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said that the bomb blast had killed “a moderate academic and noble political figure who believed in dialogue, the language of reason and the right to different views” while a Hezbollah member of the country’s parliament condemned the killing, saying it was part of Lebanon’s current “terrorist wave”.

UK Anti-Muslim Crimes Rise

Research carried out by the Press Association news agency based on Freedom of Information requests to various police forces in England and Wales have shown that hate crimes against Muslims have risen sharply in the UK in the past year, with the London Metropolitan Police recording 500 Islamophobic crimes. It is believed the numbers rose as a reaction to the killing of soldier Lee Rigby at the hands of two Islamic extremists in Woolwich in May. The figure could be higher because nearly half of the forces do not recall the faith of the target of hate crimes. “There are three problems we come across. Firstly, there is a lack of understanding of the language of Islamophobia thrown at victims in any incidents. Secondly, there is very little training on how to ask relevant questions to pull out anti-Muslim cases. Thirdly, recording processes are not in line with each other. One force will allow an officer to flag an incident as anti-Muslim, another force will flag it as religious hate crime. There is no uniformity”, said Fiyaz Mujhal, director of Faith Matters , a non-profit organisation that works to reduce interfaith tensions.

East African Nations Reject S.Sudan Coup

Leaders of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), an eight-country trading bloc in East Africa, have signalled that they will not accept a coup against the government of President Salva Kiir in South Sudan. Their statement came after the president of Kenya and the prime-minister of Ethiopia met Kiir in South Sudan on Thursday because he would not be able to attend the Igad meeting in Nairobi. “Let it be known that we in Igad will not accept the unconstitutional overthrow of a duly and democratically elected government in South Sudan. Violence has never provided optimum solutions – violence begets more violence. We have a very small window of opportunity to secure peace, which we urge all stakeholders to seize, including Machar”, said president Kenyatta of Kenya. He was referring to former South Sudanese vice president Riek Machar, who is believed to be behind the armed attempts to overthrow the government of president Kiir.

Turkish Army Says It Will Not Intervene in Political Scandal

The Turkish Army released a statement on its website on Friday distancing itself from any interest in direction of a high-level corruption probe that has embroiled a number of members of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government. “The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) do not want to be involved in political debates. On the other hand, the TSK will keep on closely following the developments regarding its corporation and the legal positions of its members”, said the statement. It was published as a response to a column written by Yalçın Akdoğan, one of the prime minister’s closest advisers, suggesting that the corruption scandal could trigger a military coup. “The TSK carries on its duties and responsibilities, which are defined by the constitution and the law, by staying out of any kind of political opinion and movement”, ended the statement.

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