Mekong:a river rising
The fate of 70 million people rests on what happens to the Mekong river. With world leaders meeting in Paris next week for crucial UN climate talks, John Vidal journeys down south-east Asia’s vast waterway – a place that encapsulates some of the dilemmas they must solve. He meets people struggling to deal with the impacts of climate change as well as the ecological havoc created by giant dams, deforestation, coastal erosion and fast-growing cities
Chapter 1 of 6
John Vidal’s first stop along the river is the tiny country of Laos. Fifty years ago, Laos began to build a series of giant dams. It was the first chance the country had to generate the electricity and money needed to emerge from deep poverty. But is this demand for clean energy creating ecological and human havoc?
Why do people join Isis? Expert says foreign fighters are almost never recruited at mosque
Scott Atran tells the UN in New York that a large majority of new Isis members are recruited by their own friends and peers, and says the leadership of the militant group understands youth ‘much better than the governments that are fighting against them’
The vast majority of people who join Isis are recruited by family and friends and radicalisation hardly ever occurs in a mosque environment, a leading Oxford University academic has said.
Speaking on a panel hosted by the UN in New York, Scott Atran revealed that research shows three quarters of those who join Isis as foreign fighters were encouraged to do so by friends and peers.
A further 20 per cent were recruited to Isis by family members, the expert said.
In the wake of the Paris attacks almost two weeks ago, there have been widespread calls for Muslim communities to do more to denounce extremism in structured settings.
Veteran Chinese journalist Gao Yu sees sentence reduced
A Beijing court reduced jailed veteran journalist Gao Yu’s prison sentence from seven to five years. Deutsche Welle and international civic groups have long called for the release of the ailing 71-year-old.
The outcome of Gao’s rare appeal, which was held in Beijing on Tuesday but closed to foreign diplomats and journalists, was issued Thursday by a Chinese appeals court.
Her lawyers had argued during trial proceedings last November that a confession she later renounced was obtained under duress. Her lawyer Mo Shaping told DW after the sentencing that the reduction was “a better result from the point-of-view of the defense.”
He said he was not able to speak to Gao but that his team was working on getting her released for medical treatment. “It’s looking pretty good,” he added. Gao suffers from heart problems and allergies.
Gao, who wrote hard-hitting reports of elite politics in China and worked for Deutsche Welle (DW) as a freelancer was detained in April 2014 and jailed in April 2015 for seven years for allegedly leaking state secrets.
Fifth refugee transferred to Cambodia from Nauru under $55M resettlement deal
November 26, 2015 – 11:43AM
South-East Asia correspondent for Fairfax Media
Australia has secretly transferred a fifth refugee from the tiny Pacific island of Nauru to Cambodia under a controversial $55 million agreement with the impoverished nation.
The Rohingya Muslim man arrived in the capital, Phnom Penh, last week, days before the United Nations warned Cambodia’s increasingly fractious political situation is pushing the country towards a “dangerous tipping point”.
Rhona Smith, the UN’s human rights rapporteur for Cambodia, said increased political infighting has been accompanied by an uptick in rights abuses, including “incidences of violence, intimidation of individuals and resort to offensive language in the political discourse”.
Last month two opposition MPs were dragged from vehicles outside parliament and savagely kicked and punched.
The regime of strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen has revived a seven-year-old defamation case against opposition leader Sam Rainsy, further inflaming tensions.
Could Pope Francis bring together African Muslims and Christians?
The Pontiff has kicked off his African tour, arriving in Nairobi Wednesday. In Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic, he will address matters of poverty, corruption, and interfaith healing.
“Grata Franciscus Pontifex,” headlines in Kenya read – a message in Latin to welcome the arrival of Pope Francis on his first African tour.
In Kenya, Uganda, and finally, the Central African Republic, the pope plans to address poverty, government corruption, and the rift between Muslims and Christians on the continent.
Arriving in Nairobi Wednesday, Francis is set to encounter crowds lining up the streets, followed by a public Mass at Nairobi University Thursday, which the government has declared a national holiday in honor of the pontiff.
“I go with joy to meet Kenyans, Ugandans and our brothers in Central Africa,” he told journalists on his plane.
About 30 percent of Kenyans are Catholic, so millions are expected to attend the Mass. But Christians won’t be the only ones looking forward to his appearance. A leading Muslim cleric, as reported by the BBC, welcomed the pope as an usher of hope for the poor and downtrodden in Kenya.
US Muslim forced off plane cites Islamophobia
Being told to get off plane in front of passengers was “humiliating”, says Kameelah Rasheed, who alleges discrimination.
After passing through regular security checks at Newark Liberty International Airport on her way to a holiday in Istanbul, Kameelah Rasheed was called for further questioning by customs officers.
She was later allowed on the United Airlines flight, but eventually forced to leave the aircraft ahead of takeoff to be interrogated by an FBI agent.
The 30-year-old Muslim American told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that the two-and-a-half-hour ordeal a day earlier has left her traumatised and unable to consider flying any more.
“It was an attempt to humiliate and ostracise me,” she said.
“I think this happened because I’m Muslim, because I’m travelling to Istanbul, because they have power with no checks and balances, because security means violating people’s rights, because there’s a general lack [of understanding of] what safety means, because people don’t understand basic geopolitical situations.”