Iran: blogger sentenced to 10 yrs in prison

Sakhi Rigi is a blogger who was sentenced to 20 years prison in Zahedan, in Sistan and Baluchistan province, on charges of publishing false infomation and “acts against national security.” This is the longest sentence ever passed on a blogger in Iran.

His blog was called Balouchestan Sarfaraz (Pride Baluchistan) [fa]. Rigi was arrested on 18 June, 2009, and is being held in appalling conditions in Karon prison, in Ahvaz. Torture was used to extract a confession. Adding to his bad luck, is that he has the same surname asAbdolmalek Rigi, the late head of the Balochi armed opposition group Jundallah, which in the eyes of the authorities implicates him.

Human Rights Activists Agency reports [fa] that:

… the blogger is 31 years old and was arrested six days after presidential election in 2009 and was jailed in solitary cell for seven months… he was studying in university and had just few months to end his studies… it seems his posts played a role in his jail sentence.

More here.

UK: Bishop Nazir-Ali on Afghanistan

The Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Roc...

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Never again should Afghanistan be allowed to sink into that mediaeval nightmare of the Taliban in power.  It is a gross misrepresentation that this had only to do with women in burqas. How can we forget the daily oppression of men, women and children: women were not allowed to leave the home without a male escort, they could not work in any profession, girls were forbidden from going to school, men were punished for shaving and all entertainment was banned, with savage punishment for those who offended against this barbaric code.  Do those who want to up and go really want to see the return, God forbid, of such an Afghanistan, and do they really think that it will not be a terror threat to the region, the world and to Britain and the USA?

More here.

US: Ice-cream with urine

“We received information from a passing motorist of an ice cream truck that was all over the roadway on southbound Route 1 from Oxford Valley Road,” Middletown Township Lt. John Michniewicz said.

His Jack & Jill Truck was pulled over minutes later and investigators say the ice cream man, 46-year-old Yassir Hassan, was visibly drunk.

Upon further inspection, authorities found several wine boxes inside.

But even more disturbing was the discovery of at least three water bottles filled with urine and one of them was found inside the freezer unit used to store the ice cream.

On top of that, Action News has obtained a copy of the inspection report performed after the arrest which determined the truck had “obviously no hand washing facilities in the vehicle.”

Mr. Hassan has since been processed and released pending a preliminary DUI hearing which has yet to be scheduled.

Since Mr. Hassan works as an independent contractor, officials from the impound yard say that, for now, Hassan has a legal right to reclaim the truck and go back to selling ice cream in Eastern Bucks County.

“We have to release the vehicle to him after we clean it out,” John McCollum of Ace Towing and Recovery said.

More here.

Pakistan: Court Acquits 70 Muslim Radicals of Burning 8 Christians Alive during 2009 Gojra Massacre

Pakistan’s fundamentalists are rejoicing following the acquittal verdict. The country’s Christian minority is “under shock” because, this time as well, the massacre of innocent victims done in the name of the infamous blasphemy law will go unpunished. The justice system also shows its powerlessness vis-à-vis extremists who can carry out heinous crimes with total impunity, whilst the government remains silent. Meanwhile, a Muslim religious leader publicly says that Christians “deserve” to be murdered.Burning

A Pakistani anti-terrorism court acquitted 70 people who, in various roles, were involved in the Gojra massacre of August 2009 (see Fareed Khan, “Eight Christians burned alive in Punjab,” in AsiaNews, 2 August 2009). The anti-Christian violence broke out following blasphemy allegations. During a wedding, a group of Christians supposedly burnt pages of the Qur‘an, a pretext used to strike at the religious minority.

More here.

Background: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

Erdogan wins… but not enough

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of Turkey...

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Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) won Turkey’s parliamentary elections with around 50 percent of the vote, a resounding victory that forces the country’s pluralistic democracy to face some cold hard facts.

With voter participation exceeding 84 percent, the results are a democratic legitimation of the AKP’s third consecutive election victory since 2002. Over the course of the past three elections, the AKP’s support among voters has grown from 34 percent to just under 50 percent, leaving the opposition well behind.

The rest were also-rans: the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP) garnered around 25 percent of the vote while the right-wing extremist Nationalist Action Party (MHP) came in with a meager 13 percent. In contrast, independent candidates, many of them supported by the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), managed to secure a respectable 35 parliamentary seats. Among the independents are also non-Kurdish critics of Erdogan, who are currently in prison awaiting trial on charges of plotting a coup.

More here.