Egyptian women convene in “stand” against political detentions and bans on assembly
  • At the same location in Cairo where 23 opposition activists were arrested for protesting last year, dozens of women gathered in demonstration against the detentions.
  • The “stand,” a form of nonviolent protest, took place for an hour outside of the presidential palace despite prohibitions on unsanctioned assembly.
  • While police confronted journalists and attempted to block the protest from view, the women held up images of the detained, with messages calling for their release.

Read the full story at the New York Times.

(Image Credit: Omar Kamel/Twitter photo, via the New York Times)

Thousands of refugees return to Syria from Turkey after Syrian Kurds oust the Islamic State from border town
  • Tight border security at Turkey’s border with Syria has limited crossings, but the victory in Tel Abyad allowed for a gate reopening permitting more than 2,000 refugees to return.
  • More than 23,000 Syrians had entered Turkey earlier in the month, according to Turkish officials.
  • The Kurdish YPG militia has encouraged the returns, guaranteeing safety in the towns they have recaptured.

Read the full story at Reuters.

Beer festival in Muslim-majority region of China angers exiled leaders
  • The centerpiece of the festival, held in Niya County in Xinjiang, was a drinking competition that offered monetary prizes to the winners among the 60 attendees from the largely agricultural community.
  • The local government–with regional backing–promoted the event in the run-up to Ramadan, and with Quranic prohibitions on the consumption of alcohol, Muslim leaders from the exiled World Uyghur Congress considered the event a deliberate provocation.
  • The Communist Party allows restricted freedom of religion only for recognized groups, and fears of extremism have led to crackdowns on activity in Muslim communities, of which ethnic Uyghur communities form a part.

Read the full story at Reuters.

Pope Francis apologizes to Waldensian Protestants for historical persecution by the Catholic Church
  • During the first-ever visit by a Pope to a Waldesnian church, the Pope asked for forgiveness for the persecution of the sect that included a papal order of extermination in the late 15th century and the execution of 1,700 Waldensians in the 17th century.
  • The Waldensians now number roughly 30,000 worldwide, located mostly in Italy and Latin America.
  • The outreach comes ahead of the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation in 2017, for which the various sects of Christianity have yet to announce any joint plans.

“On behalf of the Catholic Church, I ask forgiveness for the un-Christian and even inhumane positions and actions taken against you historically. … In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, forgive us!”

Read the full story at Reuters.

(Image Credit: Alessandro Garofalo/Reuters)

Anti-gay sentiment in Kyrgyzstan has complex cultural and geopolitical roots in the evolution of Russian-Western relations
  • Journalists, researchers, and advocates attempt to tease out the causes of expanding anti-gay sentiment in the country as Kyrgyz legislators debate bills looking to limit international influence and gay rights.
  • Kyrgyzstan’s strategic location in Central Asia has led to an ongoing tug-of-war between the U.S. and Russia for influence in the region, with the latter’s hardline conservative stance against the LGBT community seen as influencing Kyrgyzstan’s current social landscape.
  • Gay rights’ status as a symbol of Western cultural imperialism in the region has allowed for the marriage of anti-gay and nationalist interests, with “gay propaganda” serving as a catch-all for the influence of international interests.

“People are confronting a changing world, they can’t understand it and they respond by returning to the values of their grandmothers and grandfathers. … And these events around Russia the last year and half have only increased this sensation of unpredictability, tension. And, conservatism, reliance on patriotism, this wounded sense of pride, is a very convenient basis for political games.”

Read the full story at Al Jazeera America.

(Image Credit: Vyacheslav Oseledko/AFP/Getty Images, via Al Jazeera America)

Malaysian court fines nine and sentences two trans women to jail for “cross-dressing”
  • The group of women were arrested in Kelantan, one of the 13 of Malaysia’s 14 states that criminalizes cross-dressing.
  • The lawyer representing the group has filed an appeal, and the two jailed have been released on bail.

“Laws against ‘a male person posing as a woman’ not only deny transgender women in Malaysia our fundamental rights as citizens of the country, they also contribute to a hostile environment. … These laws lead people to perceive us as criminals and subject us to humiliation, hate crimes, and other forms of violence.”

Read the full story at PinkNews.

Thousands celebrate LGBT Pride in Latvia despite fears of attacks
  • Held for the first time in Latvian capital Riga, EuroPride saw an estimated 5,000 attendees in the former Soviet nation.
  • Police arrested three for minor offenses, but no major incidents marred the celebration.
  • The event’s success was markedly different from the Pride march in Riga a decade ago, which saw violent attacks from protesters.

“It’s a very significant thing for Latvia, a former Soviet state, to be hosting EuroPride for the first time. In future we hope to see more long-term commitment to equal rights but we’re pleased the police have been working very closely with the organisers to ensure everything goes off smoothly.”

Read the full story at PinkNews.

(Image Credit: via PinkNews)

Venezuelan youth and young adults look to emigrate as their country’s economic crisis deepens
  • One in four Venezuelans between the age of 15 and 29 have indicated a desire to leave the country, with 29% hoping to move to the U.S., 18% to Spain, and 9% to Colombia.
  • Skyrocketing inflation has made renting an apartment or buying a car next to impossible.
  • The government has created programs to address the lack of mobility, but skeptics observing the current political situation expect to find better prospects elsewhere.

“Recovery is going to take years, no matter who is governing. At the end all the politicians are alike.”

Read the full story at Fox News Latino.

Hundreds of thousands demonstrate in Rome against same-sex unions and inclusive education curricula
  • As PM Matteo Renzi attempts to move a same-sex civil union bill through Parliament, the rally overflowed from San Giovanni square, which can accommodate around 300,000 people.
  • Claiming defense of children, the protesters demonstrated against same-sex unions and families and the inclusion of information about gender identity in school curricula.
  • While a newspaper poll found approximately 51% of Italians support same-sex marriage, the continuing influence of the Catholic Church has made political progress slow.

“[Migrants’] problems ‘are an urgent issue which concerns us all. Those who take to the streets to talk of other things show they are living on another planet, and I would recommend leaving them on that planet alone.'”

Read the full AFP story at Yahoo! News.

(Image Credit: Tiziana Fabi/AFP)

China opens new path to Tibet holy site for Indian pilgrims
  • The new land passage offers a route from India through the Himalayas to Mount Kailash.
  • In addition to its geographic isolation, Kailash has remained out of reach for Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims due to China’s tight visa restrictions on travel to Tibet.
  • The opening comes as China and India work to improve relations and remove obstacles–including ongoing border disputes–to improved economic and political ties.

Read the full story at Reuters.

(Image Credit: Jacky Chen/Reuters)