COP 27: MENA Region Among Most Vulnerable To Climate Change
Plus: British-Egyptian activist Fattah given 'medical intervention,' Italian travel blogger detained in Iran has been freed, Turkey's ìfake news' law, Iraq block Pornhub, and more.
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COP 27: MENA region among most vulnerable to climate change
This year's COP27 climate summit in Egypt brings together tens of thousands of participants and more than 100 world leaders to discuss efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and ways to cope with a changing climate.
Running from November 6-18 in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, COP27 aims to build on the Glasgow climate deal created at last year's summit, as well as 2015's Paris Agreement.
The MENA region is among the most vulnerable to climate change's effects and needs urgent mitigation and adaptation efforts.
While some countries in the region have made commitments to net zero emissions — including UAE and Oman by 2050 and Saudi Arabia by 2060 — the region as a whole must do more.
That means bringing together governments, businesses, and civil society to ensure concrete commitments, systemic strategies, and inclusive collaboration.
According to Maroun Kairouz, the Middle East and North Africa director at the World Economic Forum, the private sector cannot turn a blind eye to its role in these efforts.
Alaa Abdel Fattah: British-Egyptian activist given 'medical intervention'
The family of jailed British-Egyptian pro-democracy activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, who has been on hunger strike, say they have been informed he has "undergone a medical intervention."
Abdel Fattah escalated his hunger strike on Sunday, November 6, by refusing water.
The 40-year-old activist, imprisoned for allegedly "spreading false news", has become a symbol of the 60,000 political prisoners believed by human rights groups to languish in Egyptian jails.
However, Al-Sisi's government denies these allegations.
Fattah told his family in a letter last week that he would only drink water until the COP27 climate summit opened in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday and then stop even doing that.
Abdel Fattah, born in Cairo and obtained British citizenship last year through his London-born mother, first rose to prominence during the 2011 uprising in Egypt that forced long-time President Hosni Mubarak to resign.
Since Al-Sisi came to power in 2014 after leading the military's overthrow of Mubarak's democratically elected successor, he has spent most of his time in prison or police detention.
Last December, he was convicted of the charge of "spreading false news" in relation to his social media posts - a charge human rights groups condemned as spurious - and sentenced to five years in prison.
Italy's Meloni discusses energy with Egypt's Sisi, raises rights issues
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni discussed energy, the climate crisis, and immigration in talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during a visit to Sharm El-Sheikh for the COP 27 summit, Meloni's office said on Monday, November 7.
Meloni, who took office last month, also raised the issue of human rights and the cases of murdered Italian student Giulio Regeni and Patrick Zaki, who had been studying in Italy and is on trial in Egypt for allegedly spreading false information.
Relations between the two countries have been strained since Regeni's killing in Cairo in 2016. The arrest of rights researcher Zaki in February 2020 while on a trip home to Egypt from Italy further exacerbated bilateral ties.
Italian travel blogger detained in Iran freed
Alessia Piperno, an Italian woman travel blogger, arrested in Iran in late September, was released and came home, the office of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Thursday, November 11.
Piperno and other European citizens were arrested by Iranian authorities on suspicion of having taken part in protests that erupted in the country after the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman in the custody of the morality police.
Iranian protesters look to the outside world for help
The anti-government protests sweeping Iran are now in their eighth week, with no sign of ending, despite a bloody crackdown. The rest of the world has watched with alarm, with some countries taking steps to support the protests.
The protesters first want to be heard and get news coverage by the world's media. The Iranian government has taken steps to minimize this as much as possible.
According to internet monitoring group NetBlocks, during the last seven weeks, the internet in Iran has often been shut down or massively interrupted.
At the same time, 32 journalists have been arrested, according to the International Federation of Journalists, and the two remaining social media apps, Instagram and WhatsApp, have been blocked.
According to rights groups, more than 300 people, including at least 41 children, have been killed since the protests started.
So far, the US, UK, EU, and Canada have sanctioned Iranian officials and organizations accused of being part of the crackdown.
However, all the measures by the West have been carefully calculated not to antagonize Tehran and keep the diplomatic window open.
Hence, the chances that the demand of Iranian protesters to cut ties with the Iranian government will be met are slim.
'Turkey has long been hell for journalists': Reporters slam country's new 'fake news' law
Turkey's Parliament last week ratified a law introducing jail terms for journalists and social media users who spread "fake news" or disinformation.
The law, proposed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling AK Party, comes eight months before the country's general election.
The law includes articles such as press card issuances and a procedure for correcting online disinformation.
On top of that, sentences can be increased by up to half if the disinformation is spread through anonymous accounts.
But according to several journalists, this law will be used by Erdogan to control social media and silence journalists.
Qatar World Cup ambassador criticized for 'harmful' homosexuality comments
Remarks by a Qatar World Cup ambassador have been called "harmful and unacceptable" after he described homosexuality as "damage in the mind."
Khalid Salman, a former Qatar international footballer, commented in an interview with the German broadcaster ZDF.
Asked about the fact that homosexuality is illegal in his country, Salman said: "They have to accept our rules here. [Homosexuality] is haram. You know what haram means?"
When asked why it was haram, or forbidden, Khalid Salman said: "I am not a strict Muslim, but why is it haram? Because it is damage in the mind."
Rasha Younes of the LGBT rights program at Human Rights Watch said: "Salman's suggestion that same-sex attraction is 'damage in the mind' is harmful and unacceptable. The failure of the Qatari government to counter this false information has a significant impact on the lives of LGBT residents of Qatar, ranging from fuelling discrimination and violence against them to justifying subjecting them to state-sponsored conversion practices."
New Iraqi government moves to block porn sites
Iraq's new communications minister, Hiyam al-Yasiri, ordered pornographic websites blocked across the country on November 4.
According to local news outlets, as of November 7, some 400 websites had been blocked.
There have been calls to block pornographic websites for many years, both in central government territory and the Kurdistan Region in the northern part of the country, which has its own parliament.
Though some advocates for freedom of expression have voiced concerns about laws regulating internet use being misused, many Iraqis have reacted with jokes or disparaged the woman who issued the order.
That's all for this week. Thanks for reading Inshallah. Share this article and subscribe to be up to date about news from the Middle East every week. It's free.
My name is Dario Sabaghi, a freelance journalist. I am interested in human rights and international news focusing on the MENA region.
Check out my work at dariosabaghi.com.
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Cover photo: Nariman El-Mofty/AP - CNA