Jakarta’s Christian governor of Chinese descent sentenced to prison for blasphemy
- Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, was sentenced to two years in prison after having accused political opponents of using a verse from the Qur’an to mobilize opposition to his re-election.
- His remarks drew massive protests in the Muslim-majority country and a religiously charged vote for the Jakarta governorship in April, where he lost to Muslim rival Anies Baswedan.
- Judges cited fundamentalist religious groups in the ruling, shocking observers with a prison sentence for Ahok because he “did not feel guilt.”
“Jakarta governor Ahok sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy” (The Guardian | May 2017)
“Jakarta’s Christian Governor Ahok jailed for two years for blasphemy” (The Sydney Morning Herald | May 2017)
“Jakarta’s former governor Ahok dropping appeal against jail sentence for blasphemy” (ABC | May 2017)
(Image Credit: Antara/Pool/Sigid Kurniawan, via The Jakarta Post)
Mandisa Maya first woman appointed President of South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal
- Justice Maya was named to the third-highest post in the South African judicial system by embattled President Jacob Zuma.
- Maya has been on the Court since 2006 and is the first woman to be appointed its leader in its 107-year history.
- The Supreme Court of Appeal is the nation’s highest appellate court and the second-highest court in the country.
“Justice Maya makes history as first female SCA head” (South African Broadcasting Corporation | May 2017)
“South Africa gets first female president of second highest court” (africanews | May 2017)
“Judge Mandisa Maya is new president of the Supreme Court of Appeal” (Times LIVE | May 2017)
(Image Credit: Simphiwe Nkwali/Gallo Images/Sunday Times, via Times LIVE)
U.N. food cuts lead to desperate food situation for refugees in Uganda
- The U.N. cut food rations by half in refugee camps, adding to an already critical famine driving displacement in the region.
- Refugees have taken to stealing crops and other food from locals to sustain themselves, and while no widespread violence has broken out yet, tensions have worn at the historically amicable relations between Ugandans and refugees.
- Nearly 1 million refugees have fled from South Sudan into neighboring Uganda, a significant fraction of the 3 million driven from the country since the outbreak of civil war in 2013.
“South Sudan refugees scrounge for scraps as rations slashed in Uganda camps” (Reuters | May 2017)
“Tensions rise as Uganda neighbourly refugee policy starts to feel the strain” (The Guardian | May 2017)
“Faced with slaughter they fled, now their safe haven teeters on the brink” (CNN | May 2017)
(Image Credit: via CNN)
More than two dozen Coptic Christians killed in attack in Egypt
- Gunmen killed at least 29 and wounded two dozen more in Minya Province while they were en route to a monastery in central Egypt.
- The Islamic State claimed responsibility, the latest in a series of attacks by the fundamentalist group on the religious minority that has left more than 100 dead since December 2016.
- Thousands mourned the dead at the Church of the Sacred Family in the village of Dayr Jarnous before beginning a defiant march expressing outrage and calling for retribution.
“Grief, rage in Egyptian church after Copts attacked by gunmen” (Reuters | May 2017)
“Gunmen in Egypt Force Coptic Christian Pilgrims From Buses and Kill 28” (The New York Times | May 2017)
“Egypt Coptic Christians: IS claims attack” (BBC News | May 2017)
(Image Credit: Amr Nabil/Associated Press, via The New York Times)
Panama announces plans to crack down on immigration from Colombia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua
- Panamanian officials have announced new restrictions on immigration from the three countries, including conducting financial checks and shortening the duration of tourist permits from 180 days to 90 days.
- Anti-immigration sentiment has grown over the last year, with Colombians and Venezuelans particularly targeted and maligned as connected to drug trafficking and other crime in the country.
- Around 250,000 have immigrated to Panama from the three countries since 2010.
“Panama to Crack Down on Immigration, Colombians and Venezuelans” (teleSUR | May 2017)
“Panama cuts stays for Colombians, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans” (The Associated Press via The Washington Post | May 2017)
“Panama to tighten immigration policy for Colombia, Venezuela, Nicaragua” (Reuters | May 2017)
Italian MEP convicted of defamation for racist remarks
- Mario Borghezio was convicted for comments against former Italian MP Cécile Kyenge, Italy’s first black national minister.
- Borghezio had stated in a 2013 interview that Kyenge, who immigrated from the DRC, wanted to “impose her tribal traditions from the Congo” and was “a good housewife, but not a government minister.”
- Kyenge has faced numerous racial attacks as a result of her political visibility, and the ruling is the latest in a series of successful defamation cases she has brought.
“Northern League MEP must pay €50,000 to ex-minister over racial slurs” (The Local | May 2017)
“Italian in Europe’s Parliament Convicted of Defamation for Racial Insult” (The New York Times | May 2017)
“Italian MEP Cecile Kyenge: ‘I feel vindicated’” (BBC News | May 2017)
(Image Credit: Gianni Cipriano/The New York Times)
Australia’s “Stolen Generation” Speaks
For six decades across the 20th century, the Australian government pursued a ruthless policy of the forced assimilation of its indigenous population, tearing mixed-race children from their communities and creating “stolen generations” deprived of access to the culture of their aboriginal roots. The policy, similar to those pursued in Canada and the U.S., forced children into boarding schools, church missions, and adoptions to erase connections to their communities. Canadian photographer Matthew Sherwood has documented the stories of those in the Northern Territory through his photo series Generations Stolen, profiled in The New York Times.
“Australia’s ‘Stolen Generations’ Tell Their Stories” (The New York Times | May 2017)