The Stabbing of Salman Rushdie
Plus: Afghanistan: One year later, Saudi woman sentenced to 34-year for using Twitter, Egyptian church fire kills at least 41, and more
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I am Dario Sabaghi, ready to handpick for you the most newsworthy stories of the week. Subscribe to be up to date about the latest development in the Middle East. It's free.
Before delving into the stories of the week, you can look at my latest articles.
I reported for Foreign Policy on the collapse of part of the Beirut port silos between the end of July and early August. The building was damaged by the explosion on August 4, 2020, which killed more than 200 people. In the article, I explain how the building has become a symbol of Lebanon’s dysfunction.
I wrote an article on Deutsche Welle reporting how Lebanese are increasingly turning to solar power to meet their electricity needs amid the economic crisis. However, not everyone can afford solar energy, even though prices have dropped significantly over the past decade.
The stabbing of Salman Rushdie
On August 12, 2022, a man stabbed Indian-born British-American novelist Sir Salman Rushdie multiple times just before giving a public lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York, United States.
A 24-year-old suspect, Hadi Matar, was arrested at the scene. Matar was charged the following day with assault and attempted murder. Rushdie was gravely wounded and hospitalized.
Rushdie was threatened with death in 1989, a year after publishing his novel The Satanic Verses.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for his assassination.
For years, Rushdie lived in hiding and took strict security measures, which became more relaxed over time.
Iran denies involvement but justifies the attack.
Afghanistan: One year later
After the Taliban takeover of the country in August 2021, the protracted Afghanistan conflict abruptly led to accelerating human rights and humanitarian crisis.
The Taliban immediately rolled back women’s rights advances and media freedom—among the foremost achievements of the post-2001 reconstruction effort.
Most secondary schools for girls were closed, and women were prohibited from working in most government jobs and many other areas.
The Taliban beat and detained journalists; many media outlets closed or drastically scaled back their reporting, partly because many journalists had fled the country.
The new Taliban cabinet included no women and no ministers from outside the Taliban’s own ranks.
Saudi woman sentenced to 34-year for using Twitter
A Saudi student at Leeds University who had returned home to the kingdom for a holiday has been sentenced to 34 years in prison for having a Twitter account and for following and retweeting dissidents and activists.
Salma al-Shehab, 34, a mother of two young children, was initially sentenced to serve three years in prison for the “crime” of using an internet website to “cause public unrest and destabilize civil and national security.”
But an appeals court on Monday, August 15, handed down the new sentence – 34 years in prison followed by a 34-year travel ban – after a public prosecutor asked the court to consider other alleged crimes.
Lebanese man who held up a bank to access savings released without charge
A Lebanese judge has ordered the release from detention without charge of the man who last week took hostages at a Beirut bank in an attempt to access his savings frozen after the country’s 2019 financial implosion, the man’s brother and a legal group said.
Bassam al-Sheikh Hussein, 42, entered the Federal Bank of Lebanon branch in Beirut’s Hamra district on Thursday, August 11, and threatened employees with a firearm, agreeing to leave only after the bank pledged to give him $35,000 out of a total of his more than $200,000 deposit.
He said he needed the funds to pay a relative’s hospital bills.
Hussein was detained following the release of all six hostages but released Tuesday, August 16, without any charges being brought against him, his brother Atef told Reuters and legal watchdog group Legal Agenda reported.
Egyptian church fire kills at least 41, most of them children
An electrical fire swept through an Egyptian Coptic Christian church during Mass on Sunday, August 14, causing a stampede and killing at least 41 people, most of them children and many suffering from smoke inhalation.
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.
You can follow me on Twitter: @DarioSabaghi
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Cover photo: Arab News/AP