Close

Donate today to keep Global Voices strong!

Our global community of volunteers work hard every day to bring you the world's underreported stories -- but we can't do it without your help. Support our editors, technology, and advocacy campaigns with a donation to Global Voices!

Donate now

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Stories from and

ISIS Fighters Capture Ramadi in Iraq

Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Al Anbar province, has been captured by ISIS fighters. Joey Ayoub is putting the story together, tracking citizen journalists reports, news and testimonies, on Global Voices Checkdesk, a partnership project between Global Voices and Meedan's Checkdesk.

The city, in central Iraq, is about 110 kilometres west of Baghdad and 50 kilometres west of Fallujah. Hundreds of people have reportedly been killed, and thousands forced to flee their homes.

ISIS, an Al Qaeda off-shoot, has come to control larges swathes of land in Iraq and Syria, attracting news headlines for the horror it has waged against civilians in areas they have occupied.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UN Assistance Mission for Iraq:

UN agencies are rushing humanitarian assistance to people fleeing Ramadi for the second time in a month.

Close to 25,000 people have fled Ramadi following ISIL attacks and fierce fighting in the city. Most of the displaced are fleeing towards Baghdad, with many trying to enter through security checkpoints.

The report adds:

Within the past month, UN agencies and non-governmental organisations have provided life- assistance to more than 130,000 people who fled Ramadi following ISIL attacks in April. Tens of thousands of kits and rations have been distributed to more than 35 locations across Anbar Governorate. Thousands of families who had fled earlier had returned to their homes in Ramadi, when fighting again broke out, forcing them to flee a second time.

In July, the food pipeline will break. “Nothing is more important right now than helping the people fleeing Ramadi. They are in trouble and we need to do everything possible to help them.” Lise Grande, the UN's Humanitarian Coordinator said. “Thousands of people had to sleep in the open because they didn't have places to stay. We would be able to do much more if we had the funding.”

Palestine: How Much Have Israeli Settlements Expanded Since 1948?

Beirut-based journalist Adam Rasmi shares an infographic from Visualising Palestine which tracks how much Israeli settlements have expanded since 1948:

Check out Visualizing Palestine for more infographics here.

Amid “Intelligent” Censorship Discussions, Iran Affirms Facebook Will Remain Blocked

A user logs onto Facebook from their phone. Photo from Flickr User: Maria Elena (CC: AT)

A user logs onto Facebook from their phone. Photo from Flickr User: Maria Elena (CC: AT)

Discussions regarding the implementation of “intelligent” filtering have proliferated Internet policy discussions within Iran. “Intelligent” filtering is a process whereby they filter select content on a social media platform, rather than the entire site. Our recent research covered the extent of this program on Instagram. In response to “intelligent’ filtering discussions, Abdolsamad Khorramabadi, an advisor to the Committee Charged with Determining Criminal Content (CCDOC) told Tabnak news on May 5, “Facebook will definitely not be included in this type of [smart] filtering, and will remain completely blocked.”

Commenting on the policy on May 14, the New York based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran stated,

The continuation of the Facebook ban reflects the profound fear with which Iranian officials view social media networks, which have proved enormously popular in Iran, particularly among the younger generation.

Previous Iranian discussions of “intelligent” filtering on social networks never breached how the government would implement this program on networks that use HTTPS protocol, such as Facebook. The only known implementation of this program has been through the unencrypted Instagram API.

For further information on this announcement see the International Campaign for Human Right's recent report: “Iranian Officials Re-Affirm Facebook Will Remain Completely Blocked in Iran.”  For technical understanding of “intelligent” filtering, see Frederic Jacob's Instagram testing and analysis on GitHub.

 

 

Preparations are Underway for Ramadhan in Jerusalem

Preparations are underway at the Masjid Al Aqsa in Jerusalem for the holy month of Ramadhan, expected to begin on June 17 or 18 this year.

Muslims fast from dawn to sunset during the month, the start of which is decided by sighting the new moon. The mosque is the third holiest site in Islam, and is getting prepped for Muslim worshippers during the month.

Al Aqsa, which is also known as Bayt al-Muqaddas, is located in the Old City of Jerusalem.

On Twitter, Khaled Safi shares a photograph showing how work is progressing in putting up canopies, to shield worshippers from the sun during the midday Friday prayers. This area, outside the Dome of the Rock, is also where thousands of Muslims break their fast when the sun sets:

Preparations have started for receiving the month of Ramadhan in the holy Masjid Al Aqsa. May Allah bless us to pray in it

Niswihaidi shares another set of photographs, saying:

Preparations have started for the holy month in the Aqsa Mosque by putting up canopies and sprinklers for protecting worshipers from the sun in Ramadhan

Also read:


In photos: Ramadan in Jerusalem

Question Time: How Many Jihadists Have Military Backgrounds?

Taking the cue from a Der Spiegel report on the mastermind behind the structure of ISIS, Palestinian blogger Iyad El-Baghdadi tweets:

Der Spiegel names Iraqi Samir Abd Muhammad al-Khlifawi, killed in Tal Rifaat in Syria in January 2014, as the “architect” of the ISIS, an Al Qaeda off-shoot which has come to control larges swathes of land in Iraq and Syria, leaving terror, death and destruction in its trail. It says al-Khlifawi was a former colonel in the intelligence service of Saddam Hussein's air defense force.

El-Baghdadi adds:

And explains:


Turn On Fact-Checking:

Help us track and verify stories on the number of ISIS top command with military backgrounds in our Global Voices/Checkdesk partnership project here.

Global Voices Checkdesk Tracking Reactions to Morsi's Trial

Faten Bushehri tracks reactions to the trial of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, who was sentenced to death on May 16, on Global Voices Checkdesk, a project in partnership with Meedan's Checkdesk to verify news.

Morsi is being charged with collaborating with foreign militants to free Islamists during a prison break from the Wadi Natroun prison amid the Egyptian revolution in January 2011. Among his 105 co-defendants were some 70 Palestinians, accused of being members of Hamas, who were charged and tried in absentia. And among the Palestinians sentenced to death, Hassan Salameh has been in an Israeli prison since 1994, and Raed Attar is already dead.

Morsi was the president of Egypt for one year after the revolution, which overthrew Hosni Mubarak early 2011, who ruled Egypt for more than 30 years. Morsi's reign was cut short in July 2013, following massive protests calling for his ouster. Then, the Egyptian Army took command, under the leadership of Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces and Minister of Defence General Abdul Fattah El Sisi, who is now Egypt's president.

The next hearing is set for June 2.

Follow the link to add more stories and help verify them. Please contact me if you are interested in joining the team.

Iran's Evin Prison to Become a Park

Cartoonist Touka Neyestani’s take on the news. Image produced for ICHRI, and used with permission.

Cartoonist Touka Neyestani’s take on the news. Image produced for ICHRI, and used with permission.

This post first appeared on iranhumanrights.org and is published here in collaboration with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. 

Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf said last week that the Tehran Municipality is prepared to enter negotiations with the Iranian Judiciary to convert the Evin Prison complex in northwestern Tehran into a public park.

For decades, the notorious Evin Prison has been one of the primary facilities where Iranian political prisoners have been detained, interrogated, tortured, and executed. Some of the worst testimonies about torture and forced confessions at Evin are related to at least three separate wards Iran’s Intelligence Ministry and the IRGC operate within the complex, unmonitored by the Iranian Judiciary.

Khamenei's #Letter4U Bots Still Active Four Months After Its Launch

A #letter4u campaign photo tweeted on the Supreme Leader's Twitter account.

A #letter4u campaign photo tweeted on the Supreme Leader's Twitter account.

On January 21, during the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France,  Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah  Seyyed Ali Khamenei penned an open letter to the ‘youth in Europe and North America’ defending Islam, and the Western world's skewed reception of the religion. He also started tweeting the sentiments of the letter on his @khamenei_ir twitter account, starting the hashtag #Letter4U. A closer look of this hashtag indicates it remains active through bots, which are still crawling through Twitter four months after the launch of the campaign.

In late March Morgan Carlston noted that spam bots were promoting the hashtag on Twitter.

Morgan elaborated in a blog post:

There are hundreds if not thousands of accounts, most of them with over 10000 tweets. Twitter has a limit of 1000 tweets per day, and the accounts seem to have been created with this in mind.
Many of the accounts use fake photos taken from a variety of places. Some of them show celebrities, while others journalists or other media personalities.

David Masad, a computational science researcher retrieved the tweet rhythm for the hashtag between May 8th to the 11th, and found the image below, which indicates that bots are still being deployed to spread tweets with the #letter4u hashtag, along with a link to Khamenei's website. Mason explained in an email to Global Voices,

The chart shows the exact same number of tweets using the hashtag being tweeted at precise, regular intervals, with no changes based on the time of day. Human conversations go in bursts, exhibit cycles based on times of day that people are in Twitter, and in general are *not* regular.

The tweet frequency for #letter4u from May 8th to 11th.

The tweet frequency for #letter4u from May 8th to 11th. Image provided by David Mason, and used with permission.

Parenting 101: How to Raise Children the Arab Way

Satirist Karl Sharro dishes out some parenting advice on Twitter to his 51K followers, on how to bring up children, after reading news today that Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has announced a major cabinet reshuffle.

The Saudi king has appointed his nephew, Minister of Interior Mohammed bin Nayef, Crown Prince, and his son and Defense Minister, Mohammed bin Salman, has been made Deputy Crown Prince.

Sharro tweets:

He adds:

Sharro explains the importance of having parents hang their own pictures all over the house:

For more parenting advice, wait for Sharro's new parenting book:

Did I mention Sharro is a satirist?

Tracking Infrastructure Damage in the War in Yemen

Hundreds of people have been reportedly killed in fighting in Yemen since Saudi Arabia launched a military campaign against the country on March 26. Backed by its Gulf Arab allies, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco,and Sudan, Saudi Arabia started an airstrike operation, dubbed Decisive Storm, against Houthi fighters who took control of Yemen in January.

Reports from the ground say that a refugee camp, schools, airports, a bridge, factories and homes have been destroyed so far.

Yemeni blogger Noon Arabia explains:

She adds:

We are tracking news and stories on the infrastructure damage in Yemen in this war at Global Voices Checkdesk, a partnership project with Meedan.

Checkdesk is a liveblogging tool for journalists, with built-in tools to allow citizen journalists and staff journalists alike to make and verify reports. Anyone from the newsroom community can submit a report — a Tweet, a photo, video or other type of media — and add details that bring important context to the report. Staff journalists can then add these reports to a developing story.

Email us here to join our team.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site