Merkel Bows to Primitive Censorship: Comedian Faces Prosecution for Poem About Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

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Under section 103 of the criminal code, insults against organs or representatives of foreign states are punishable with up to three years in prison, or three months to five years if a court judges the insult to be slanderous.

 reports: Angela Merkel, has been criticised by members of her cabinet after acceding to a request from Ankara to prosecute a comedian who read out an offensive poem about the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The German chancellor insisted her government’s decision did not amount to a verdict on whether Jan Böhmermann was guilty or not, but should be understood as a reaffirmation of the judiciary’s independence.

“I consider this to be the wrong decision. Prosecuting satire on the basis of a lèse-majesté law is not appropriate to the modern age.”

— Thomas Oppermann, leader of the Social Democratic party’s parliamentary faction

“In a constitutional democracy, weighing up personal rights against freedom of the press and freedom of expression is not a matter for governments, but for public prosecutors and courts,” Merkel said in a press conference on Friday.

The chancellor expressed “grave concerns” about the prosecution of individual journalists in Turkey, as well as growing limitations to the right to protest, but emphasised Germany’s close diplomatic ties with the country.

Merkel was left with the final decision on whether Germany’s state prosecutor should start proceedings against Böhmermann after Erdoğan requested the comedian be prosecuted.

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“Throughout his reading, the comedian is advised by another comedian impersonating a media lawyer, who tells him this poem is precisely the sort of thing that does not qualify as satire and is therefore illegal.”

Under an obscure section of Germany’s criminal code, prosecution for insults against organs or representatives of foreign states requires both a notification from the offended party and an authorisation from the government.

Merkel and other ministers confirmed reports that there had been disagreements on how to handle the Böhmermann affair between ministers within her coalition government.

[Read the full story here, at The Guardian]

The foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said Social Democrat ministers, including himself and the justice minister Heiko Maas, had been overruled by Merkel in allowing the prosecution to proceed. “It is our view that the prosecution should not have been authorised,” Steinmeier said. “Freedom of the press, freedom of expression and artistic freedom are the highest goods requiring protection in our constitution.”

“I consider this to be the wrong decision,” said Thomas Oppermann, leader of the Social Democratic party’s parliamentary faction. “Prosecuting satire on the basis of a lèse-majesté law is not appropriate to the modern age.”

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The little-used paragraph of the German legal code that had allowed the Turkish president to request the prosecution is likely to be scrapped in the aftermath of the affair. Merkel said on Friday that she considered the law unnecessary, and that legal steps would be taken towards deleting it from the penal code within the next two years. Read the rest of this entry »


BAM: SAS Sniper Saves Syrian Father and Eight-Year-Old Son from Being Beheaded

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‘A Good Day’s Work’: SAS sniper gunned down a knife-wielding Islamic State maniac just as he was trying to brutally behead a father and his young son.

Nick Gutteridge reports: The brave British marksman saved the terrified eight-year-old and his father after taking out the crazed jihadi with a head shot from 1,000 metres away.

The special forces crack shot then killed two other members of the hated terror group, who were also taking part in the sick planned execution.

“Through binoculars the soldiers could see that the crowd were terrified and many were in tears….They were both wearing blindfolds and looked terrified…A tall bearded man emerged and drew a long knife…He began addressing the crowd and slapping the father and his son around the head and kicking them on to the floor.”

ISIS militants had decreed that the little boy and his father must die after branding them “infidels” because they refused to denounce their faith.

They were just seconds from death when the hero sniper intervened to stop the barbaric killing in the Syrian desert. The pair were part of the minority Shia sect of Islam which ISIS considers to be heretical.

“Standing either side of the executioner were two other Isis fighters, both armed with AK47s…The ISIS thug who was about to decapitate the father was shot in the head and collapsed…Everyone just stared in confusion. The sniper then dispatched the two henchmen with single shots – three kills with three bullets…”

They were saved from a cruel and painful death at the hands of the fanatics after an Iraqi spy tipped off British special forces to the planned execution.

Special forces troops who arrived at the killing site, where ISIS was carrying out a series of rigged ‘trials’ of locals, discovered a gruesome scene with several headless bodies already lying bloodied on the desert floor.

The dramatic rescue operation took place last month near the Syrian border with Turkey, where an elite SAS unit had been conducting covert patrols.

Defence sources described how the SAS unit moved into a position just outside a village where ISIS members were holding the ‘trial’ in front of a crowd of locals who had been forced to attend at gunpoint.

The crack team considered calling in an air strike using a Reaper Drone, but the elite troops feared many of the innocent civilians who had been forced to watch the executions might also be killed.

Instead the SAS unit decided on a risky long-range kill using the team’s sniper.

Speaking to the Daily Star Sunday, one source said: “There were several decapitated bodies already lying on the ground. Read the rest of this entry »


Syria Crisis: ISIS Deadly Return to Kobane

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The ISIS attack on Kobane began with militants detonating a car bomb, followed by an assault from dozens of fighters from a number of directions.

Islamic State fighters have attacked the Syrian city of Kobane, months after being driven out in a symbolic battle that made international headlines.

They detonated car bombs and launched an assault. Kurdish media say at least 50 civilians have been killed, including 20 in a nearby village.

ISIS has recently suffered a string of defeats to Kurdish forces.

But in another attack on Thursday, it seized parts of the key north-eastern city of Hassakeh.

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The apparent two-pronged IS offensive came as Kurdish fighters from the Popular Protection Units (YPG) cut a major supply line for IS near Raqqa.

Raqqa is the de facto capital of the caliphate whose creation IS announced a year ago after it captured large swathes of northern and western Iraq.

Kobane still matters to ISIS. It was never important strategically, but this latest attack shows that its loss, after five months of heavy street-to-street fighting and coalition aerial bombardment, still hurts ISIS.

The injured have been brought to hospital in Kobane

The injured have been brought to hospital in Kobane

As was the case last November when a huge vehicle bomb exploded at the same spot, questions are being asked if the attackers made it in from the Turkish side, and if so, why Turkey didn’t stop them.

Thursday’s assault is a reminder, too, that ISIS, despite recent losses in the area, is still very much active and capable of offensives. Overnight they also attacked Hassakeh to the east, a far bigger prize.

[Read the full text here, at BBC News]

Despite the narrative of the last few weeks, ISIS is far from being on the back foot.

Smoke rises over Kobane

Smoke rises over Kobane

The ISIS attack on Kobane began with militants detonating a car bomb, followed by an assault from dozens of fighters from a number of directions. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Bomb Blasts Kill 20 People In and Around Baghdad

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BAGHDAD (AP) — A series of bombings targeting public places and Iraqi security forces killed 20 people in and around Baghdad on Tuesday, officials said.

The deadliest attack took place on Tuesday night, when a car bomb went off near restaurants and shop in Palestine Street in eastern Baghdad, killing 10 people, including three women. The bombing also wounded 24 people, police officials said.

Several shops and cars were burned in the attack and police sealed off the blast area.

Earlier in the day, a roadside bomb struck an army patrol in Youssifiyah, just south of the Iraqi capital, killing three soldiers and one civilian. At least eight people were wounded in that attack, the officials said. Read the rest of this entry »


Gunmen at Libyan Luxury Hotel Take Hostages; 3 Guards Dead

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Gunmen stormed a luxury Libyan hotel popular with foreigners Tuesday, killing at least three guards and taking hostages, a security official said.

Essam Al-Naas, a spokesman for a Tripoli security agency, said a standoff continued Tuesday afternoon at the Corinthia Hotel, which sits along the Mediterranean Sea.

A hotel staffer said five masked attackers wearing bulletproof vests stormed the hotel after security at the gates tried to stop them. He said they entered the hotel and fired randomly at the staff in the lobby.

The staffer said the gunmen fired in his direction when he opened his door to look out. He said he joined the rest of the staff and foreign guests fleeing out the hotel’s back doors into the parking lot.

When they got there, he said a car bomb exploded in the parking lot, only a hundred meters (yards) away. He said this came after a protection force entered the lobby and opened fire on the attackers. He said two guards were immediately killed. The staffer spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared retribution…(read more)

Car Bomb Explodes Outside Luxury Hotel in Libya’s Tripoli

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — A Libyan security official says a car bomb exploded outside a luxurious hotel in the capital Tripoli.

The official says the bomb exploded outside the Corinthia hotel early Tuesday morning, rocking Tripoli’s old city.

The official provided no further information. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. Read the rest of this entry »


Christmas Day attacks on Christians in Iraq

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Christopher Bedford reports:  Christians are under attack in Iraq this Christmas, with a series of car bombs targeting a Catholic church and Christian neighborhoods killing 39 and wounding 60.

The first three bombs went off in a marketplace south of Baghdad in an Assyrian Christian neighborhood, The New York Times reports. Those bombs killed 11 and wounded 22.

Moments later, just a half mile away, terrorists detonated a car bomb as Catholics left St. John’s Catholic Church in Dura, killing 26 and wounding 38. Some of the victims were women and children, and most were Christians, though some were also police officers guarding the service, the Times reports.

Read the rest of this entry »


Car Bombs Kill at Least 56 People in Iraq

(BAGHDAD) — A new wave of car bombs hit Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad and a suicide bomber targeted soldiers in a northern city in attacks that killed at least 56 across Iraq on Sunday, officials said.

Coordinated bombing onslaughts killing scores of people have hit Iraq multiple times each month, feeding a spike in bloodshed that has left over 5,000 since April. The local branch of al-Qaida often takes responsibility, although there was no immediate claim for Sunday’s blasts.

Four police officers said that the bombs in the capital, placed in parked cars and detonated over a half-hour, targeted commercial areas and parking lots, killing 42. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Suicide Car Bombing Kills 15 People in Pakistan

Hussain Afzal reports: A Taliban suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into the compound of a rival militant commander in northwest Pakistan on Thursday, killing 15 people, a government official said.

The commander, Nabi Hanfi, was not present at the time of the attack, said Wajid Khan, a local government administrator. Hanfi has been battling the Pakistani Taliban in the Orakzai tribal area where the bombing occurred.

Gunmen first fired shots at Hanfi’s compound in Balandkhel village, and then the suicide bomber detonated his vehicle, said Khan. The blast killed 15 people and wounded six others, he said.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid claimed responsibility for the attack, saying five militants targeted Hanfi because he formed a militant group to fight them.

“Mullah Nabi had been our target, and he will remain on our target list,” Shahid told The Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location.

A local tribal leader, Malik Nek Marjaan, said the Pakistani government has been supporting Hanfi’s group in its battle against the Taliban.

The government has backed anti-Taliban militias throughout the northwest. But many of the militia members have been killed in attacks.

The Taliban have been waging a decade-long insurgency that has killed thousands of people in an attempt to impose Islamic law in Pakistan and end the country’s unpopular alliance with the United States.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has pushed peace talks with the militants as the best way to end the insurgency. But the Taliban have demanded the government release all militant prisoners and begin withdrawing troops from the tribal region before they will participate in negotiations.

ABC News


BREAKING: Blast wrecks govt office in Libya’s Benghazi

Libyan firefighters battle a fire caused by a powerful blast near a foreign ministry building on September 11, 2013 in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.

Libyan firefighters battle a fire caused by a powerful blast near a foreign ministry building on September 11, 2013 in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. (AFP/Abdullah Doma)

A powerful blast caused serious damage to a foreign ministry building in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on Wednesday, witnesses said.

The explosion comes on the first anniversary of an attack by militants on the United States consulate in Benghazi, which killed four Americans, including the ambassador. It was not immediately known if the blast, which the witnesses said appeared to have been caused by a car bomb, had resulted in casualties. An AFP photographer said a large section of the foreign ministry building had been destroyed and parts of the nearby local headquarters of the central bank seriously damaged. Read the rest of this entry »