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Stories from Middle East

An Election Film Week in Lebanon to Say #NoToExtension of Parliament Term

What better than the seventh art to mobilize? In another effort to push for Elections in Lebanon and prevent an extension of the Parliamentary term #NoToExtension, Lebanese NGO Nahwa Al Muwatiniya (meaning Towards Citizenship) held an “Election Film Week”.

Six works from Chile, Iran, China, Ghana and the US, varying between documentaries and fiction are being screened between August 28 to September 2 at Cinema Metropolis (a theater promoting indie movies)  in collaboration with the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE).

On the Facebook Page of the event, where the programme is listed, the organisers note:

We have been struggling with a fragile democracy in Lebanon, ever since its independence. Today, more than in the darkest days of the civil war, the foundations of our democracy are at risk. But we’re not alone in this. The world is full of stories about the human struggle for self-determination and democratic participation. Broadening our perspective serves our effort to improve the quality of the political system in Lebanon. 

The films we picked share stories from different countries, all which portray the election process. Collectively, they reveal a combination of human values and ideals and the efforts politicians make to win an election.

To see a glimpse of the movies, check out the trailer posted on Nahwa Al Muwatiniya Youtube Page.

The current parliament extended its four-year stay for the first time in May 2013. And like a year before, various parties are supporting the move this time around under the pretext of security conditions.

The end of the parliamentary term comes amidst a period of turmoil in Lebanon. The country has lacked a president since May 25 after parliament failed to elect a new head of state and top officials could not reach political consensus. A general strike by syndicates demanding to approve a new enhanced wage scale for civil servants has threatened to paralyze the entire country. Lebanon has experience instability on both Syrian and Israeli borders after soldiers were kidnapped by members of Islamic militant organization ISIS.

Iran's Grand Ayatollah: 3G Internet Is Immoral

Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi, a prominent Shia scholar, has said 3G Internet is immoral and inhumane, Iranian sites reported on Tuesday.

Iran has the highest number of internet users in the Middle East, but its average data speed is about a tenth of the global average.Internet speeds in Iran have accelerated by 30 percent since summer 2013, after Hassan Rohani won the presidential election.

Iranian Photojournalist Arrested Alongside Washington Post Reporter Is Released

An unidentified female Iranian-American photojournalist was released on Thursday, Aug. 21 after being held in police custody at an unidentified location since July 22.

The photojournalist had official accreditation from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, and was arrested alongside her husband and on the same day that Iranian-American Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and his wife Yeganeh Salehi were arrested.

Since then, the husband of the photojournalist has been released. Rezaian and Salehi remain in the custody of the Iranian Judiciary in an unknown location and have yet to be issued formal charges. 

Iranian Police Interrogator Gets 3 Years Jail Time for Killing a Blogger

Cyber police interrogator Akbar Taghizadeh has been sentenced to three years in prison, two years in exile, and 74 lashes for the murder of dissident blogger Sattar Beheshti, who died under torture while in police detention in November 2012. “On Wednesday afternoon, August 6, news of the sentence was delivered to us by mail. But we do not accept it. It is dastardly and unfair,” said Gohar Eshghi, Beheshti's mother, in an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Many Twitter users, following the story under the #SattahBeheshti hashtag, expressed similar disapproval for the sentencing.

PHOTO: Crowds Outside a Cairo Liquor Store

A photograph showing crowds outside a popular Cairo liquor store is making the rounds online. On Twitter, Tom Gara shares it with his 27.9K followers:

Egypt, with a liberal alcohol policy compared to other Muslim countries, bans the sale of alcohol to Egyptians during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which ended yesterday. This explains the scene Gara tweets.

Mexican Cartoonist Compares James Foley's Execution with Presidential Interview

Flowers laid for American journalist James Foley - Arlington

Flowers laid for American journalist James Foley, Arlington Cemetery. Photo by Cynthia Rucker. Copyright Demotix (20 August 2014).

On August 21, Mexican cartoonist Francisco Calderón raised controversy after publishing on his daily cartoon section on Grupo Reforma, an image depicting president Enrique Peña Nieto wearing an orange jumpsuit and kneeling down in front of a masked executioner. The image is a clear reference to the brutal murder of reporter James Foley in Syria, on August 19, by the jihadist group Islamic State that was later published on video as a warning to the United States.

Thursday August 21, 2014 THE INTERVIEW THE ALL THE TERNURITAS WOULD'VE LOVED.

The title of the cartoon plays with the idea that an execution like the suffered by Foley would have been the kind of “interview” the “ternuritas” (cuties) would've loved. Ternurita is the name some people use for Peña Nieto government opponents.

Some Twitter users reacted to the cartoon:

Your cartoon is a total disrespect to the life of James Foley. Let's hope it's just your ignorance.

Because being firm when questioning is the same thing that beheading. Right, right winger cartoonist?

It's a shame that Francisco Calderon makes a cartoon with a beheading. Will he make one about dead children in Gaza?

Only Mexico can gather the necessary dose of insensitivity and numbskullness to make fun of James Foley's death.

Eerie Similarities in Deaths Provoked by Police Brutality in Staten Island and Paris

Eric Garner was a 44-year-old African-American man who died following an attempted arrest by the NY Police Department. On July 17, 2014, when police officers attempted to arrest Garner, he had broken up a fight. Garner who suffered from asthma was wrestled to the ground. Medical examiners concluded chokehold and chest compression as the primary causes of Garner's death and Garner's heart problems, obesity and asthma as additional factors. Here is a video of the accident [Warning: Graphic Images]

A few days later (28 August) in Roissy, France, Abdelhak Goradia, a 51 year old Algerian citizen also died inside a police van. The police was carrying Goradia to the airport to be deported back to Algeria when they initially affirmed that he died of a heart attack. Justice department corrected that assessment and stated that Goradia died from choking on his own gastric fluids. His lawyer stated that Goradia called him to say that he was taken away in handcuffs and a head gear. Goradia was previously charged with theft, petty crimes and violence.

VIDEO: Is the IDF Glorifying Its Air Bombings of Gaza?

Israeli blogger Elizabeth Tsurkov challenges the IDF to make an English version of a video it had released in Hebrew, which she describes as “glorifying air bombings of Gaza.”

She tweets:

At least 1,900 Palestinians have been killed, more than 10,000 injured, and 450,000 displaced since Israel launched a massive offensive called Protective Edge against the 40-kilometer-long coastal strip on July 8.

Follow our in-depth coverage: #Gaza: Civilian Death Toll Mounts in Israeli Offensive

PHOTO: Five Jewish Graves in WWI Gaza Cemetery

Foreign Policy magazine Middle East editor David Kenner visiting the British WW1 cemetery in Gaza and shares this photograph on Twitter.

The inscription reads: “In the mighty march of progress, he sought to do his best.”

The grave of Second Lieutenant W. G. A. Joseph of the Northamptonshire regiment is one of five graves belonging to Jewish soldiers which Kenner spotted.

Kenner is among journalists from around the world who swarmed on Gaza to cover a major Israeli offensive called Protective Edge against the 40-kilometer-long coastal strip, which started on July 8.

Dr Ashraf Al Qedra, spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of Health, announced on his Facebook page the overall toll as of yesterday, the 34th day of fighting, as follows:

حصيلة العدوان الصهيوني الغاشم المستمر على غزة لليوم الرابع والثلاثين هي 1911 شهيد وحوالي 9861 جريح .

The toll of the aggressive Zionist attack, continuing on Gaza for the 34th day, is 1,911 martyrs and 9,861 injured

Follow our in-depth coverage: #Gaza: Civilian Death Toll Mounts in Israeli Offensive

PHOTO: Palestinians Teach Life

Palestinian Sayel tweets to his 1,800 plus followers on Twitter the following photograph of Gazans planting flowers in Israeli shells. He notes:

Today is Day 19 of an Israeli offensive on the Palestinian enclave, which has claimed the lives of at least 1,000 Palestinians and injured 6,000 others.

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