Showing posts from October 27, 2013

Turkey's 'Rockin' Imam' Inspires Youth, Tests Religious Boundaries

i Ahmet Muhsin Tuzer At age 42, Ahmet Muhsin Tuzer has a modest post as Imam in a small mosque in the village of Pinarbasi, near Turkey's Mediterranean coast, where he serves about 15 Sunni Muslim families. It's not the kind of place where you'd expect to find an Imam attracting attention across Turkey and beyond. But Tuzer is quietly – well, not so quietly, actually – pushing back against Turkey's religious establishment. He's attracting a following among younger Turks for his inclusive religious message, and especially for his work outside the mosque, fronting a rock 'n' roll band. On a recent visit to Istanbul, Tuzer told NPR that his new adventure began this summer, when he met veteran Turkish rock guitarist Dogan Sakin and they formed the band FiRock. He says it's a genre-jumping band. "Rock, Sufi mysticism, psychedelic rock; it's a bit like Pink Floyd," he says. "We record sacred songs and originals. We want to embrace everyone,

Interactive: US drone war in Yemen and Pakistan

Despite Barack Obama’s assertion that the US use of drones is "heavily constrained", human rights groups regularly denounce them. FRANCE 24 takes a closer look at drone strikes between early 2002 and August/September 2013 in Yemen and Pakistan. Since the US launched its first lethal drone strike in Yemen in 2002 as a part of its counterterrorism policy, the programme has expanded and turned into one of the most opaque chapters of Obama’s foreign policy. Human rights groups have criticised the lack of transparency and basic standards of international law framing this secret war. In May 2013, Obama maintained that Washington’s “use of drones is heavily constrained”. In a major counterterrorism speech, the US president noted that “America does not take strikes when we have the ability to capture individual terrorists; our preference is always to detain, interrogate, and prosecute”. ‘A Time to Kill’ But according to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, Obama’s promise to

Drone Deaths: 3 Percent Of People Killed By U.S. Strikes Since 2008 Were Civilians, Pakistan Reports

MUNIR AHMED and SEBASTIAN ABBOT AP Oct 31, 2013 ISLAMABAD -- ISLAMABAD (AP) — The Pakistani government said Wednesday that 3 percent of 2,227 people killed in U.S. drone strikes since 2008 were civilians, a surprisingly low figure that sparked criticism from groups that have investigated deaths from the attacks. The number, which was provided by the Ministry of Defense to the Senate, is much lower than past government calculations and estimates by independent organizations that have gone as high as 300. The ministry said 317 drone strikes have killed 2,160 Islamic militants and 67 civilians since 2008.The attacks, which mainly target suspected Islamic militants near the northwestern border with Afghanistan, are widely unpopular in Pakistan because they are viewed as violating the country's sovereignty and killing too many civilians. The Pakistani government regularly criticizes the drone program in public, even though it is known to have secretly supported at least some of the stri

Finland says government's data network hit by severe hacking

Thu Oct 31, 2013  HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland's foreign minister said on Thursday foreign intelligence agents had carried out large-scale hacking into government communications, and a Finnish TV station said China and Russia were suspected. Erkki Tuomioja said the breach of the Foreign Ministry's data network was discovered in spring, and Finland's intelligence service was investigating it as a case of serious espionage. "I can confirm there has been a severe and large hacking in the ministry's data network," he told reporters on Thursday in a hastily-arranged news conference after private broadcaster MTV3 reported the hacking incident. He declined to comment on suspects. MTV3 had earlier said, citing unidentified sources, that Chinese and Russian intelligence agents may have been involved. The report said they had gained access to its network for years and seem to have targeted communications between Finnish and European Union officials. Tuomioja said there

New video of kidnapped Czech women appears in Pakistan

Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:58pm IST PRAGUE (Reuters) - Two young Czech women kidnapped in southwest Pakistan in March said in a new video released by the Czech government on Wednesday they feared they would soon be killed. The Czech embassy in Islamabad received the footage, which shows Antonie Chrastecka, 25, and Hana Humpalova, 24, who were seized while heading for India by microbus through the province of Baluchistan, neighbouring Afghanistan. In the video, released by the girls' families through the Czech Foreign Ministry, one of the women said she was in poor health. "My health condition is very unstable mainly because of the food and water and it's getting worse," Humpalova said in English, in a three-minute video she said was recorded on August 23. "I don't know how much time I have left because these guys take their final action from which you may not hear from me again," she said adding she did not know the fate of her friend. In the second part of the

Director says video shows Sri Lanka army committed war crimes

Sat Nov 2, 2013 2:23am IST By Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal COLOMBO (Reuters) - A documentary maker said on Friday video of a Tamil Tiger television presenter suggests she was captured alive and killed, rather than dying in the chaotic end of Sri Lanka's three decade war. The footage is in the documentary "No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka", the fourth by British journalist and director Callum Macrae to allege the Sri Lankan army committed war crimes at the end of the separatist conflict in 2009. Military spokesman Ruwan Wanigasooriya said the army never resorted to killing those captured or who surrendered, and disputed the authenticity of the video it said was an attempt to discredit Sri Lanka before it hosts a Commonwealth summit. The footage shows Isaipriya, a celebrity news presenter at a rebel-run television station, half naked and being given a cloth to cover herself by people in military uniform who were heard saying they had found Tamil Tiger rebel l

Israel vows to deny Hezbollah weapons as details of Syria raid emerge

Sat Nov 2, 2013 12:37am IST By Crispian Balmer JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel said it would not allow advanced weapons to fall into the hands of Hezbollah, after a raid on Syria that opposition sources said had hit an air force garrison believed to be holding Russian-made missiles destined for the militant group. Israel has a clear policy on Syria and will continue to enforce it, officials said on Friday, after U.S. and European sources said Israel had launched a new attack on its warring neighbour. Israel declined to comment on leaks to U.S. media that its planes had hit a Syrian base near the port of Latakia, targeting missiles that it thought were destined for its Lebanese enemy, Hezbollah. "We have said many times that we will not allow the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah," said Home Front Defence Minister Gilad Erdan, a member of the inner security cabinet which met hours before the alleged Israeli attack. "We are sticking to this policy and I say so without

German journalists urged to shun Google and Yahoo

Thu Oct 31, 2013  By Harro Ten Wolde FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The union representing German journalists advised its members on Thursday to stop using Google and Yahoo because of reported snooping by U.S. and British intelligence. "The German Federation of Journalists recommends journalists to avoid until further notice the use of search engines and e-mail services from Google and Yahoo for their research and digital communication," the union said in a statement. It cited "scandalous" reports of interception of both companies' web traffic by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain's GCHQ. "The searches made by journalists are just as confidential as the contact details of their sources and the contents of their communication with them," said Michael Konken, head of the union which represents about 38,000 journalists. He said there were safe alternatives for both searches and email. The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the NSA had

Gunman opens fire at Los Angeles airport, killing security agent

Sat Nov 2, 2013  By Dan Whitcomb and Alex Dobuzinskis LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A lone gunman stormed into a packed terminal at the Los Angeles International Airport and opened fire with an assault weapon on Friday, killing an unarmed federal security agent before he was shot and captured, authorities said. The gunfire in Terminal 3 touched off panic and chaos at one of the world's busiest airports as hundreds of travelers ran frantically for safety or dove for cover behind racks of luggage and loud alarms blared. At least one airport security agent was wounded by gunfire, in addition to the one who was shot and killed, and a number of other people were hurt in the pandemonium. Nearly 750 flights were halted, grounded or diverted as police evacuated passengers and shut down three terminals. Streets around the airport were blocked off for hours, snarling traffic for miles. "An individual came into Terminal 3 of this airport, pulled an assault rifle out of a bag and began to open

Pakistan Taliban promote number two to replace slain leader

Sat Nov 2, 2013  DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (Reuters) - The Pakistani Taliban voted on Saturday to promote their number two commander, Khan Said, also known as Sajna, to replace leader Hakimullah Mehsud who was killed in a strike by a U.S. drone, militant commanders and security sources said. Said is believed to have masterminded an attack on a jail in northwest Pakistan that freed nearly 400 prisoners in 2012 and an attack on a Pakistani air force base in the same year. Mehsud was killed by a U.S. drone in northwest Pakistan, near the Afghan border, on Friday. (Writing By Katharine Houreld; Editing by Robert Birsel) Source

China says will stamp out Dalai Lama's voice in Tibet

Sat Nov 2, 2013  By Ben Blanchard BEIJING (Reuters) - China aims to stamp out the voice of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in his restive and remote homeland by ensuring that his "propaganda" is not received by anyone on the internet, television or other means, a top official said. China has tried, with varying degrees of success, to prevent Tibetans listening to or watching programmes broadcast from outside the country, or accessing any information about the Dalai Lama and the exiled government on the internet. But many Tibetans are still able to access such news, either via illegal satellite televisions or by skirting Chinese internet restrictions. The Dalai Lama's picture and his teachings are also smuggled into Tibet, at great personal risk. Writing in the ruling Communist Party's influential journal Qiushi, the latest issue of which was received by subscribers on Saturday, Tibet's party chief Chen Quanguo said that the government would ensure o

Pakistan Taliban gather for funeral of Hakimullah Mehsud

Sat Nov 2, 2013  By Jibran Ahmad PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistani Taliban fighters gathered on Saturday for the funeral of their leader who was killed by a U.S. drone aircraft while some Pakistani politicians denounced the attack and called for the cutting of U.S. supply lines into Afghanistan. Pakistani security officials said Hakimullah Mehsud, who had a $5 million bounty on his head, and three others were killed on Friday in the militant stronghold of Miranshah in northwest Pakistan. Mehsud was killed when his vehicle was hit after he attended a meeting of Taliban leaders, a Pakistani Taliban fighter said. His bodyguard and driver were also killed. Mehsud took over as leader of the Pakistani Taliban in 2009. The group's two previous leaders were killed in attacks by U.S. missile-firing drone aircraft. The Pakistani Taliban are an umbrella group of militant factions allied with the Afghan Taliban and battling the Pakistani state in the hope of imposing Islamist rule. They

Putin tops Forbes most powerful people list

30 October 2013   Mr Putin has beaten Mr Obama into second place Russian President Vladimir Putin has been named the world's most powerful person by Forbes magazine. He has beaten US President Barack Obama into second place on the US magazine's 2013 list. Pope Francis features at number four after Chinese President Xi Jinping. Mr Obama's "lame duck period" had started earlier than usual while Mr Putin had consolidated his control of Russia, Forbes says. German Chancellor Angela Merkel ranked number five - one of only two women to feature in the top 20. British PM David Cameron is 11th most powerful, in the magazine's opinion - well ahead of his French counterpart but well behind American philanthropist Bill Gates. ' Lame duck' It is the first time in three years that Mr Obama has dropped to second place on the Forbes list. It comes as relations between the US and Russia have been hit by the civil war in Syria. Mr Putin, who has been dominating Russian

Khmer Rouge trial case two draws to a close

The second case in Cambodia's war crimes tribunal has wrapped up after two years of gathering evidence against Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan. The court, run by the Cambodian government and the United Nations, has had it's share of controversies. Since case two began, almost one-hundred-thousand Cambodians from across the country have visited the court in Phnom Penh to see the remaining Khmer Rouge leaders face long-delayed justice. Khmer Rouge Survivor Hong Huy said seeing the court search for justice made him feel happy. "We just heard the names of those leaders who forced us to work very hard...with people dying from starvation and children being taken from their parents," Mr Huy said. "So when we went to the court and saw the leaders on trial, we felt so excited." Millions of Cambodians were forced into Labour camps in 1975, growing rice and building irrigation systems that were part of the communist dream of the Khmer rouge. At least 1.

As Pak starts dialogue with Taliban, Sharif mum on details on England visit

Associated Press : Islamabad |  Thu Oct 31 2013, 20:37 hrs Pakistani Taliban is demanding a much harsher version of Islamic law across the country than allowed in the constitution. (Reuters) Pakistan's prime minister says talks have started with the domestic arm of the Taliban. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif offered no other details Thursday about who was taking part or what would be discussed. Sharif said the talks must take place inside the framework of Pakistan's constitution. That could pose difficulties because the Pakistani Taliban is demanding a much harsher version of Islamic law across the country than allowed in the constitution. Sharif was elected in part by promising to negotiate with militants in the country's northwest who have killed thousands of civilians and security forces. However, the militants have shown little appetite for talks. Sharif's comments came during a meeting in London with the British deputy prime minister and were released in a statement b

5 Israeli soldiers hurt, Palestinian killed as IDF, Hamas clash on Gaza border

A IDF soldiers who were carrying out work to destroy a  Hamas terrorism tunnel  on the Israel-Gaza border came under fire from a Palestinian terrorist cell overnight Friday. The IDF stated that terrorists detonated an explosive device targeting the soldiers during the operation.The attack left five soldiers injured. One is suffering from serious injuries, one was moderately wounded and three soldiers were lightly hurt, an army source said. The wounded were airlifted to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. In response to the attack, the IDF fired a shell at terror suspects in the nearby Gazan district of Khan Younis. One Palestinian gunman was killed and a second was wounded, according to Palestinian medical sources. IAF aircraft also struck an attack tunnel in the southern Gaza Strip, the IDF stated. The IDF accused Hamas of breaking the terms of the ceasefire deal that ended Operation Pillar of Defense in December 2012. The soldiers were operating on both sides of the security fenc

China's top security official blames East Turkestan movement for Beijing's suicidal crash

BEIJING –   China's top security official has blamed the militant group East Turkestan Islamic Movement for a suicidal vehicle attack that killed five people in the heart of Beijing earlier this week. Meng Jianzhu, chief of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the ruling Communist Party, said the group organized the attack in an interview with the Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television when he was in the capital of Uzbekistan attending a regional security summit. An SUV plowed through bystanders, crashed and burst into flames near the Tiananmen Gate on Monday, killing three in the car and two tourists and injuring dozens. Beijing police have arrested five people in connection with the attack and called it a planned terror strike — the city's first in recent history. Source

Niger: 4 Frenchmen taken captive freed after 3 years

Four Frenchmen taken hostage by al-Qaida extremists in Niger have been released after three years of captivity and a French-led military intervention in the region that weakened the Islamic radicals. Paris:  Four Frenchmen taken hostage by al-Qaida extremists in Niger have been released after three years of captivity and a French-led military intervention in the region that weakened the Islamic radicals. French President Francois Hollande announced the release on Tuesday and credited Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou, who later appeared on television with the hostages. The men, who worked for the Areva nuclear company when taken, had long beards and some wore turbans and brown robes. They did not speak. Niger Foreign Affairs Minister Mohamed Bazoum told The Associated Press that the hostages - Pierre Legrand, Thierry Dol, Marc Feret and Daniel Larribe -were freed in neighboring Mali and taken to Niamey, Niger's capital. Officials gave few details on the release, but the French def