Indonesia executes six drug convicts, five of them foreigners

Indonesia executes six drug convicts, five of them foreigners
Widodo has pledged to bring reform to Indonesia

Ban appeals to Indonesia to stop death row executions

Ban appeals to Indonesia to stop death row executions
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has pleaded to Indonesia to stop the execution of prisoners on death row for drug crimes. AFP PHOTO

Pope: 'Death penalty represents failure' – no 'humane' way to kill a person

Pope: 'Death penalty represents failure' – no 'humane' way to kill a person
The pope wrote that the principle of legitimate personal defense isn’t adequate justification to execute someone. Photograph: Zuma/Rex

Obama becomes first president to visit US prison (US Justice Systems / Human Rights)

Obama becomes first president to visit US prison   (US Justice Systems / Human Rights)
US President Barack Obama speaks as he tours the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, July 16, 2015 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

US Death Penalty (Justice Systems / Human Rights)

US Death Penalty (Justice Systems / Human Rights)
Woman who spent 23 years on US death row cleared (Photo: dpa)


"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Pope signs Jerusalem declaration on Morocco trip

Yahoo – AFP, Sophie Pons and Catherine Marciano, March 30, 2019

Pope Francis is the first pontiff to visit Morocco since John Paul II in
1985 (AFP Photo/CIRO FUSCO)

Rabat (AFP) - Pope Francis on Saturday joined Morocco's King Mohammed VI in saying Jerusalem should be a "symbol of peaceful coexistence" for Christians, Jews and Muslims, on the first day of a visit to the North African country.

The spiritual leader of the world's 1.3 billion Catholics was invited by King Mohammed VI for the sake of "interreligious dialogue", according to Moroccan authorities.

In a joint statement, the two leaders said Jerusalem was "common patrimony of humanity and especially the followers of the three monotheistic religions."

"The specific multi-religious character, the spiritual dimension and the particular cultural identity of Jerusalem... must be protected and promoted," they said in the declaration released by the Vatican as the pontiff visited Rabat.

The Moroccan king chairs a committee created by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to safeguard and restore Jerusalem's religious, cultural and architectural heritage.

The joint statement came after US President Donald Trump's landmark recognition of the disputed city as capital of Israel, which sparked anger across the Muslim world, especially from Palestinians who see Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Improving relations with other religions has been a priority for the Argentine pontiff, whose papacy has been marred by clergy facing a wave of child sex abuse allegations.

Thousands of Moroccans greeted Pope Francis in the capital Rabat 
(AFP Photo/Alberto PIZZOLI)

Opposing extremism

Addressing thousands of Moroccans who had braved the rain to attend the welcome ceremony, Francis said it was "essential to oppose fanaticism".

He stressed the need for "appropriate preparation of future religious guides", ahead of meeting trainee imams later on Saturday.

Catholics are a tiny minority Morocco, where 99 percent of the population is Muslim. The king is revered across West Africa as "commander of the faithful".

Speaking at the ceremony at the Tour (or tower) Hassan mosque and nearby mausoleum in Rabat, the monarch also voiced opposition to radicalism.

"That which terrorists have in common is not religion, it's precisely the ignorance of religion. It's time that religion is no longer an alibi... for this ignorance, for this intolerance," he said.

Francis rode to the ceremony in his Popemobile, passing rows of Moroccan and Vatican City flags and an estimated 12,000 well-wishers who packed the esplanade.

Buildings had been repainted, lawns manicured and security stepped up ahead of the first papal visit to Morocco since John Paul II in 1985.

A 17-year-old was arrested after trying to throw himself onto the king's limousine to seek the monarch's help, the police said.

Pope Francis (L) was welcomed to Rabat by Morocco's King 
Mohammed VI (AFP Photo/Fadel SENNA)

Some 130,000 people across Rabat watched the first stage of the pope's visit, which was beamed onto giant screens, officials said.

'Right to a future'

After stopping by the royal palace, Francis and Mohammed visited an institute where around 1,300 students are studying to become imams and preachers.

There they heard from a French and a Nigerian student of the institute, which teaches "moderate Islam" and is backed by the king.

In Morocco, where Islam is the state religion, authorities are keen to stress the country's "religious tolerance" which allows Christians and Jews to worship freely.

But Moroccans are automatically considered Muslim, apart from a minority who are born Jewish. Apostasy is socially frowned upon, and proselytising is a criminal offence.

Those who try to "rock the faith of a Muslim or to convert him to another religion" risk a prison term of up to three years.

After years in the shadows, since 2017 the small number of converts have called openly for the right to live "without persecution" and "without discrimination".

The pope finished his Saturday schedule by meeting migrants (AFP Photo/
Alberto PIZZOLI)

Around 30,000 to 35,000 Catholics live in Morocco, many of them from sub-Saharan Africa.

The pope finished his Saturday schedule by meeting migrants -- including children dressed in colourful hats -- at a centre run by Catholic humanitarian organisation Caritas.

"Everyone has the right to a future," said Francis, who has throughout his papacy highlighted the plight of migrants and refugees.

He criticised "collective expulsions" and said ways for migrants to regularise their status should be encouraged.

Caritas centres in Rabat, Casablanca and Tangiers welcomed 7,551 new arrivals in 2017, according to the charity, helping migrants access services.

The number of people taking the sea route from Morocco to Spain has recently surged as it has become harder for them to pass through Libya.

Rabat claims to have a "humanistic" approach to migration and rejects allegations by rights groups of "brutal arrest campaigns" and "forced displacement" to the country's southern border.

On Sunday, the pope will celebrate mass at a Rabat stadium with an estimated 10,000 people attending.

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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Indonesia foils illegal Facebook sale of komodo dragons

Yahoo – AFP, March 27, 2019

Indonesia, home to the komodo dragon, has for years been a key source and
transit point for animal trafficking (AFP Photo/Juni Kriswanto)

Indonesian authorities said Wednesday they had seized five komodo dragons and dozens of other animals being sold on Facebook, as the country battles to clamp down on the illegal wildlife trade.

The vast Southeast Asian archipelago nation's dense tropical rainforests boast some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world and it has for years been a key source and transit point for animal trafficking.

Five smugglers, identified only by their initials, were arrested in Semarang and Surabaya on Java island for allegedly trafficking the komodos -- the world's biggest lizard -- along with bearcats, cockatoos and cassowary birds.

"The suspect VS sold the komodos online through Facebook," East Java police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera said in a statement.

The dragons, which can only be found in their natural habitat on a cluster of islands in eastern Indonesia, were sold for between 15 and 20 million rupiah ($1,000-$1,400), Mangera said.

In a separate case, three other people were arrested in East Java over the alleged online sale of otters, leopard cats and pangolin, Mangera said.

If convicted, the smugglers could face up to five years in prison and a 100-million-rupiah fine.

The haul of komodo dragons comes just a day after authorities seized more than 5,000 endangered pig-nosed turtles from smugglers in Indonesia's easternmost province Papua.

The pig-nosed turtle -- which has a distinctive snout-like nose and webbed feet -- is only found in Australia and New Guinea, an island shared between Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, and is protected under Indonesian conservation laws.

Indonesia's illegal trade in wildlife along with habitat loss has driven numerous endangered species, from the Sumatran elephant to the orangutan, to the brink of extinction.

Authorities in Bali, a popular holiday island, last week arrested a Russian tourist who attempted to smuggle a drugged orangutan out of Indonesia in his suitcase to keep as a pet.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

No quiet rules at Indonesia's flyover library

Yahoo – AFP, Harry PEARL, 25 March 2019

Despite its unlikely location, the Taman Baca Masyarakat Kolong open-air reading
 park has been a hit due to a shortage of public libraries where kids from this
area can read books outside school

Singing and laughter briefly drown out the roar of cars under a Jakarta flyover, where an unlikely library for kids is thriving despite choking fumes -- and opposition from menacing gangsters.

There's no quiet rule at this open-air reading park wedged between two lanes of traffic just outside Indonesia's capital, a city of some 30 million that is notorious for having some of the world's worst traffic jams.

Despite its unlikely location, the Taman Baca Masyarakat Kolong has been a hit. A shortage of public libraries means it's one of the few places where kids from this area can read books outside school.

"We wanted to bring books closer to the community," Devina Febrianti, a library coordinator, told AFP as car horns blared accompanied by choking exhaust fumes.

Several years ago, the flyover in suburb Ciputat, part of Jakarta's greater metropolitan area, was strewn with rubbish and roamed by intimidating street thugs, Febrianti said.

But armed with books and paint, local organisations set about transforming its down-and-out reputation.

Artists painted murals on the walls, installed planter boxes and a futsal pitch, and a library with several dozen books was built on site.

Still, it wasn't met with universal acclaim when it opened for business in 2016.

"In the beginning not everyone was supportive when we came with books because there were already other residents here," Febrianti said.

"We asked for forgiveness first from the gangsters who were here and then the 'angkot' drivers," she added, referring to cheap and ubiquitous minivans that provide public transport.

Winning over parents afraid that their children would be kidnapped or hit by a car was no mean feat, either.

'Smell, rubbish, loud noises'

But eventually, parents -- and even the street gangs -- warmed to the idea.

Today, it's not uncommon to see up to 70 kids attending after-school sessions, where they read stories with teachers, get help with homework, or sing and dance on concrete covered with green Astroturf.

Bookshelves are stuffed with hand-me-down kids books and some other less likely titles such as "Accounting" and "Glossary of Marketing Terms".

Emilia Clara, an 11-year-old student, said she liked reading stories, especially fairytales, with friends.

"It makes me happy and it's exciting," she told AFP in a brief interview, before rushing back to join the other kids.

And it has won over parents like Salmih Usia, a 41-year-old mother of two.

"This is a great place for learning, creating and playing," she said.

Free reading gardens, known as Taman Bacaan, have existed in various forms across Indonesia for several decades.

They're often run by NGOs or volunteer associations funded by public and private sector contributions.

Some 80 reading parks have been established this part of the sprawling capital, although there is only one located right below a flyover, Febrianti said.

In Hong Kong, a small outdoor library that doubled as a children's playground was set up under a flyover in the bustling city as part of research into how to better use community spaces, according to a report in the South China Morning Post last year.

Back in Indonesia, library volunteers admit the street-side location poses some potential health problems because of the fumes from traffic and the subsequent impact on air quality.

"But so far there haven't been any complaints about the smell, rubbish or loud noises," Febrianti said, adding: "We use a sound system, which is quite helpful for us to overcome the (noise) problem."

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Visiting North Korea? French publisher offers guidebook

Yahoo – AFP, March 19, 2019

An estimated 400 French tourists head each year to North Korea, which has been
isolated from the international community for decades (AFP Photo/Ed JONES)

Paris (AFP) - A French travel publisher presented Tuesday its first guide book for North Korea, offering 190 pages of tips for getting the most out of a trip to experience the "survival of a totalitarian communist state".

"The guide wasn't conceived to defend the current regime or to cast judgment, but to show the genuine touristic interest of the country," Jean-Paul Labourdette, a co-founder of the "Petit Fute" guides, said in Paris.

He said 4,000 copies had been printed -- more than enough for the estimated 400 French tourists which head each year to the pariah state, which has been isolated from the international community for decades.

North Korea has endured harsh UN sanctions to pursue its nuclear weapons programme under the Kim dynasty, which implemented a dictatorship that has been accused of provoking widespread hunger and human rights abuses.

The French foreign ministry strongly discourages tourists from visiting, while the US State Department only rarely grants exceptional permits for Americans hoping to travel to North Korea.

But Labourdette said "there are no security issues" for travellers, though he admitted "very restrictive" conditions, not least tight surveillance that limits foreigners to just a handful of hotels and restaurants.

And while tourist visas are readily granted, the guide warns that missteps are costly: "The punishments can be severe... as was the case for the American student Otto Warmbier."

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (L) has been holding talks with US President 
Donald Trump on ending the pariah state's nuclear weapons efforts (AFP Photo/

Warmbier, an Ohio native who studied at the University of Virginia, was pulled away from his tour group at the Pyongyang airport in 2016 and charged with crimes against the state for allegedly taking down a propaganda poster in his hotel.

He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labour.

After lengthy negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang, Warmbier was released in a vegetative state in 2017 but died a few days later on American soil.

'Don't take pictures'

Mainstream travel guides have steered clear of the repressive nation, with English-language stalwarts like "Lonely Planet" limiting their coverage to a few chapters in their Korea books.

"Don't take any pictures of airports, road, bridges or train stations," the "Petit Fute" warns, and make sure you don't throw away or even fold any newspaper with a picture of former or current leaders.

"Roll it up instead," the guide advises.

The book comes as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump are holding halting talks on ending the country's nuclear weapons efforts.

"We launched this project four years ago, we didn't wait for Donald and Kim to start their little friendship," Labourdette said. "But it took quite a while to find qualified French writers."

"Petit Fute" aims to publish guides on all the world's countries, or 204 instead of the 175 it covers now.

"We still don't have Iraq, Saudi Arabia or Liberia," Labourdette said.

Monday, March 18, 2019

At least 50 killed by flash floods in Indonesia's Papua

Yahoo – AFP, March 17, 2019

A small aircraft was damaged at Jayapura airport in the flooding (AFP Photo/Handout)

At least 50 people have been killed by flash floods in Indonesia's eastern Papua province, an official said Sunday, as rescuers raced to find more victims of the disaster.

The floods in Sentani, near the provincial capital of Jayapura, were triggered by torrential rain and subsequent landslides on Saturday, and also left 59 people injured.

Dozens of homes were damaged by floodwaters, national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

"The number of casualties and impact of the disaster will likely increase as search and rescue teams are still trying to reach other affected areas," he added.

"The floods were likely caused by a landslide."

The waters had receded but officials were still trying to evacuate people.

"The joint search and rescue teams are still doing evacuations and not all affected areas have been reached because of fallen trees, rocks, mud and other material," Nugroho said.

Video footage from the scene showed rescuers administering oxygen to a victim who appeared trapped beneath a fallen tree.

Uprooted trees and other debris were strewn across muddy roads, while at Jayapura's small airport a propeller plane lay partly crushed on a runway.

Papua shares a border with independent Papua New Guinea on an island just north of Australia.

Flooding is not uncommon in Indonesia, especially during the rainy season which runs from October to April.

In January, floods and landslides killed at least 70 people on Sulawesi island, while earlier this month hundreds in West Java province were forced to evacuate when torrential rains triggered severe flooding.

The Southeast Asian archipelago of some 17,000 islands is one of the most disaster-prone nations on Earth, straddling the Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates collide.

Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are common.

In December, the western part of Java island was slammed by a deadly volcano-triggered tsunami that killed about 400 people.

Also last year, the city of Palu in Sulawesi was rocked by a quake-tsunami disaster that killed thousands, while hundreds of others died in a series of quakes that hit the holiday island of Lombok, next to Bali.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Jews live in the shadows in Muslim-majority Indonesia

Yahoo – AFP, Peter Brieger in Jakarta and Ronny Buol in Tondano, 5 March 2019

Most members of the tiny Jewish community in Muslim-majority Indonesia
keep their identity under wraps

Yaakov Baruch is the rabbi at Indonesia's only synagogue but he keeps his religious identity under wraps, like most of the tiny Jewish community living in the world's biggest Muslim-majority nation.

A group of men threatened Baruch with death and called him a "crazy Jew" as he walked in a mall with his pregnant wife several years ago, prompting him to limit when he wears his kippah -- a Jewish skullcap.

"It's never happened again because I chose to hide my identity as a Jew in public," he said.

There is a similar ripple of concern among many of the estimated 200 Jews living in the Southeast Asian country of 260 million people, with most centred in a remote corner of the sprawling archipelago.

Manado on Sulawesi island is one of the few places that Indonesia's remaining Jews -- mostly descendants of traders from Europe and Iraq who were once thought to number around several thousand before World War II -- feel comfortable showing their faith.

A 62-foot-tall menorah, possibly the world's largest, stands near the town of Tondano -- around 20 kilometres (13 miles) south of Manado -- where Baruch holds regular services at a modest, red-roofed synagogue.

Indonesia's remaining Jews are mostly descendents of traders from Europe and
Iraq who were once thought to number around several thousand before World War II

'The enemy'

The Shaar Hasyamayim synagogue is Indonesia's lone house of worship for Jews after the only other one in the city of Surabaya was demolished in 2013.

It had been the site of anti-Israel protests for years, and was sealed off by religious hardliners in 2009 and left to decay.

Indonesia has long been praised for its moderate brand of Islam, but more conservative forms of the religion have taken centre stage in recent years, driven by increasingly vocal hardline groups.

Tensions in the Middle East, particularly between Israel and the Palestinians, spill over here and deepen religious divides.

Thousands of hardliners demonstrated in Jakarta when US President Donald Trump announced last year that the American embassy in Israel would be moved to the contested city of Jerusalem.

"There is still a lot of anti-semitic sentiment in Indonesia," Baruch said.

"Generally speaking, Indonesians don't differentiate between being Jewish and Israel. They think Jews and Israel are the enemy of their religion and state," he added.

"There is no denying that tolerance is fading in our country."

The size of the Jewish community makes it almost invisible so Jews have not 
been the target of Islamist militants like some of Indonesia's larger religious minorities

The size of the Jewish community makes it almost invisible so Jews have not been the target of Islamist militants like some of Indonesia's larger religious minorities.

A wave of deadly suicide bombings at churches in Surabaya last year highlighted the threat to minority groups, while Shiites and Ahmadis -- regarded as heretics by some majority Sunni Muslims -- have also been the target of violence.

Kosher food shortage

Still, Indonesia's Jews are on the radar of some groups.

Monique Rijkers' efforts to bridge the divide with a TV programme about Judaism drew the ire of the Indonesian Muslim Students Association, which she claims reported her to government and broadcast regulators.

"They demanded that I be fired and that the programme be cancelled," said Rijkers, founder of Hadassah of Indonesia, a non-profit organisation that offers cultural education programmes centred on Israel, Jews and the Holocaust.

Indonesia's Jews face some practical challenges, too, such as finding kosher food in a country where it's not widely available.

Another hurdle is that Indonesia has long allowed for only six different religious categories on all-important ID cards -- Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism.

Indonesia's Jews face some practical challenges, too, such as finding kosher 
food in a country where it's not widely available

The cards are crucial for accessing government services, and for doing things such as registering marriages and births, meaning most Jews lie and put "Christianity" on the documents.

Even some Muslim Indonesians learn that taking an interest in anything Jewish can raise eyebrows.

Sapri Sale, who started teaching a Hebrew class in Jakarta a year ago, has been studying the language since the 1990s and compiled what he says is the world's first Hebrew-Indonesian dictionary.

But his interests got little positive feedback at home.

"I was called Sapri the Jew," he said.

Pacific's Cook Islands mulls new name

Yahoo – AFP, 5 March 2019

Dancers from the Cook Islands perform during a ceremony in the capital,
Avarua. The government is considering changing the name of the tiny nation to
something more traditional

The tiny Pacific nation of Cook Islands is considering changing its name to something that reflects its Polynesian culture, rather than honouring the British explorer James Cook.

The government set up a committee in January to find a new indigenous name for the grouping of 15 islands, about 3,000 kilometres (1,900 miles) northeast of New Zealand.

Initially the idea was to have the indigenous moniker feature alongside the existing Cook Islands name, in the same way that its larger neighbour is sometimes known as Aotearoa-New Zealand.

But committee chairman Danny Mataroa said Monday that once discussions began it became apparent there was support for dropping the Cook Islands name altogether in favour of one in the local language, known as Cook Islands Maori.

Map showing the Cook Islands

"When the committee members, which include Cook Islands historians and people with deep traditional knowledge, met we decided it was time we change the name of the country," he told AFP.

Mataroa said the new name should reflect the country's heritage, its people and its strong Christian belief.

Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown backed the move, but said there was still a long way to go before the nation of 12,000 people changed its name.

"I'm quite happy to look at a traditional name for our country which more reflects the true Polynesian nature of our island nation," he told Radio New Zealand.

It is not the first time the issue has surfaced, with a 1994 referendum to change the name to Avaiki Nui resoundingly defeated.

Weightlifter Sam Pera parades the Cook Islands flag during the opening ceremony 
of the 2004 Olympic Games. The tiny Pacific Ocean nation is considering a name 
change to something more traditional

The Cook Islands were a British protectorate from 1888 until 1900, when they came under New Zealand's jurisdiction.

The Cooks gained independence in 1965 but maintains close ties to Wellington, which takes responsibility for the Cooks' external affairs and allows its citizens to live and work in New Zealand.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Indonesia's Aceh whips unmarried couples after hotel raid

Yahoo – AFP, 4 March 2019

Twelve people were flogged in Aceh province for being found with a member of
the opposite sex who wasn't a relation or having intimate relations outside marriage

Six couples were publicly whipped in Indonesia's conservative Aceh province Monday for relations outside marriage, with at least two women unable to walk after the painful punishment.

Flogging is common for a range of offences in the region at the tip of Sumatra island, including gambling, drinking alcohol, and having gay sex.

It is the only province in the world's biggest Muslim-majority country that imposes Islamic law.

The twelve people whipped Monday were arrested late last year during a raid on a hotel in the province's capital Banda Aceh.

Four people were each flogged seven times after being found with a member of the opposite sex who wasn't a relation.

Flogging is common for many offences in Aceh, including gambling, 
drinking alcohol, and having gay sex

The others -- who were caught in more compromising positions -- received between 17-25 strokes for having intimate relations outside of marriage, an official said.

All 12 also served several months in prison before the public punishment.

Some women cried out in pain as a masked sharia officer lashed them, and at least two had to be carried from the scene by sharia officers.

Dozens of spectators and journalists watched quietly. Some winced occasionally after the blows, while others used smartphones and tablets to film the spectacle.

"This law is designed to have a deterrent effect, not only for the offenders but for the spectators who watch the caning," said the head of the local public order agency, Marwan, who like many Indonesian goes by one name.

Rights groups have slammed public caning as cruel, and Indonesia's President 
Joko Widodo has called for it to end

He added: "The pain of being flogged is not that bad, the embarrassment is worse."

Rights groups have slammed public caning as cruel, and Indonesia's President Joko Widodo has called for it to end.

But the practice has wide support among Aceh's mostly Muslim population -- around 98 percent of its five million residents practise Islam.

Aceh adopted religious law after it was granted special autonomy in 2001, an attempt by the central government to quell a long-running separatist insurgency.

In December, two men caught having sex with underage girls were whipped 100 times each.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Grand imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar calls polygamy an 'injustice'

Yahoo – AFP, March 2, 2019

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, grand imam of Egypt's famed Al-Azhar institution, said
polygamy was the result of a "lack of understanding of the Koran" (AFP Photo/
Vincenzo PINTO)

Cairo (AFP) - The grand imam of Egypt's famed Al-Azhar institution, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, has described polygamy as an "injustice" for women.

"Polygamy is often an injustice to women and children," said the influential cleric, in quotes published on Twitter late Friday by Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's most prestigious seat of learning.

The practice is the result of "a lack of understanding of the Koran and the tradition of the Prophet," he added.

Tayeb also addressed the issue in a weekly Friday television show, telling viewers: "Those who say that marriage must be polygamous are all wrong".

He added the Koran says that in order for a Muslim man to have multiple wives, he "must obey conditions of fairness -- and if there is not fairness it is forbidden to have multiple wives".

After the grand imam's comments sparked fervent debate on social media, Al-Azhar on Saturday clarified that he did not call for polygamy to be banned.

In his Friday comments, Tayeb called more broadly for the way women's issues are addressed to be revamped.

"Women represent half of society, if we don't care for them it's like we are walking on one foot only," he said in the remarks published on Twitter.

The grand imam's approach was welcomed by Egypt's National Council for Women.

"The Muslim religion honours women -- it brought justice and numerous rights which didn't exist before," said the Council's president Maya Morsi.

Friday, March 1, 2019

VIDEO: Renowned primatologist Jane Goodall is in Sierra Leone to help rebrand the country as a sustainable tourist destination