Tens of thousands of people on Sunday massed for a rally of Turkey’s main opposition party in Istanbul, the biggest protest event in several years by critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
A sea of people filled the vast shoreside square in Maltepe on the Asian side of Istanbul for the rally marking the end of a 450-kilometer (280-mile) “justice march” from Ankara to Istanbul by Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, an AFP correspondent said.
Kilicdaroglu began the 25-day trek to protest the arrest of one of his MPs and it rapidly grew into a major march protesting alleged injustices under Erdogan’s rule.
“Nobody should think this march is the last one. It’s the first step,” Kilicdaroglu told the crowds who roared back with the word “Justice!”.
“Everyone should know very well that July 9 is a new step, a new history… a new birth,” he added.
The rally is by far the biggest by the opposition seen in Istanbul since the mass May-June 2013 demonstrations against Erdogan’s rule sparked by the planned redevelopment of Gezi Park in the city.
Usually, only Erdogan himself can mobilise crowds on this scale with glitzy rallies and the president himself had in the past held mass meetings in the Maltepe meeting area.
Belgian soldiers shot a terror suspect after an explosion rocked the central train station in Brussels on Tuesday in the latest attack to hit Europe.
Witnesses said the suspect shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) before causing the blast, with local media saying the individual had activated an explosive belt.
Authorities reported no casualties, apart from the attacker who was was killed in the confrontation.
Crying passengers were evacuated from the station as the city that hosts the EU’s headquarters was struck by a new attack just over a year after suicide bombers hit the city’s airport and metro system.
“This is considered as a terrorist attack,” federal prosecutor’s office spokesman Eric Van Der Sypt told a news conference outside Brussels Gare Centrale station.
The blast in Belgium comes a day after a man mowed down Muslims near a mosque in London, and a radical Islamist on a terror watchlist rammed a car laden with weapons into a police vehicle in Paris.
Brussels has been on high alert since suicide bombers struck the city’s airport and metro in March 2016, killing 32 people and injuring hundreds more.
The Islamic State group claimed the attacks, which were carried out by the same Brussels-based cell behind the November 2016 Paris attacks that killed 130 people.
Van Der Sypt said that at about 1830 GMT there has was a “small explosion at Central Station here in Brussels.”
“The suspect has been neutralized by the military that were present at the scene immediately after the explosion,” the spokesman said. “He is dead.”
There were no other casualties, Van Der Sypt said.
The incident happened well after rush hour, but hundreds of passengers were still evacuated from one of Belgium’s busiest stations. The nearby Grand Place, a major tourist destination, was also evacuated.
“There were people crying, there were people shouting,” said Elisa Roux, a spokeswoman for the Belgian rail company SNCB.
The Russian army on Friday said it hit Islamic State leaders in an airstrike in Syria last month and was seeking to verify whether IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed.
In a statement, the army said Sukhoi warplanes carried out a 10-minute night-time strike on May 28 at a location near Raqa, where IS leaders had gathered to plan a pullout by militants from the group’s stronghold.
“Senior commanders of the military groups of the so-called IS military council, 30 mid-ranking field commanders and up to 300 militants who provided security for them were eliminated,” it said.
“According to information which is being checked through various channels, the leader of ISIL Ibrahim Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi was also present at the meeting and was eliminated by the strike,” it said.
ISIL is an acronym for the so-called IS group, also known as ISIS and Daesh.
The US has been informed about the attack, the statement added.
Elusive IS supremo Baghdadi has not been seen in public since proclaiming himself “caliph” in the Iraqi city of Mosul three years ago.
His group has earned global notoriety for imposing a hardline form of Islam that has included stonings, beheadings and amputations.
The Iraqi-born world’s most-wanted man has been rumoured wounded or killed a number of times in the past.
He has been nicknamed “The Ghost” as he has been reportedly spotted around the Syrian-Iraqi border but his whereabouts have never been confirmed.
US-backed Arab and Kurdish forces broke into the IS bastion of Raqa last Tuesday for the first time since it became a hub of the group’s self-declared caliphate and the scene of its most gruesome atrocities.
The Indonesian government is predicting that the recent severing of ties between several Arab countries and Qatar would deal a blow to the archipelago’s tourism industry, with 50,000 expected tourists not showing up because of the crisis, a senior official said on Tuesday.
That is the number of visitors Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said Qatar Airways, for the most part, would have brought to Indonesia this year.
“Given that seven months are left in the year 2017, we estimate we will lose about 50,000 foreign tourists as a result of the boycott of Qatar,” Arief told reporters at the State Palace on Tuesday.
In order to reduce the expected loss, Arief said his ministry would coordinate with the Transportation Ministry to transfer the license given to the Qatari airline to other airlines, such as Emirates and Etihad.
“First of all, I will ask the Transportation Ministry to transfer the aircraft license given to Qatar [Airways] to other airlines. We have no option as they [Qatar Airways] could not fly their aircraft anyway,” Arief said.
Qatar Airways said on its official website it had suspended all flights to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia and several of its allies on Monday cut relations with Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremism.
President Duterte has vowed to “eradicate all traces of Rothschild financial criminality” from the Philippines, announcing that he will no longer respond to pressure or financial blackmail from the US government or Rothschild-controlled global banking institutions.
The president, who claims to have killed cartel bosses with his own hands, is not one to be bullied, and he has now set his sights on cleaning up the financial corruption in his country, promising to “drive them out like the scavengers they are.“
Before Rodrigo Duterte assumed the office of president, the Philippines was suffering from the effects of IMF/World Bank-imposed austerity and privatization that exploited its people and resources. It was also one of Asia’s most corrupt and troubled nations.
Though the Filipino people, through strong showings of popular resistance over a period of years, were able to curb some of the most rampant crony corruption, many of the shackles imposed by these Rothschild-controlled institutions remained.
President Duterte rode into power campaigning on a ticket of major change, but unlike Western politicians who pay lip service to change before letting down their supporters, the Philippines president has delivered on his promises – in spades.
During the election campaign Duterte urged the people to kill him if he failed to resolve crime and corruption in the country during the first six months of his term.
Over one year into his term and he has delivered on his promises. He’s now famous for more than calling President Obama a “son of a whore” at a regional summit in Laos last year. Much to the Rothschild-controlled international community’s outrage, Duterte is shooting from the hip, and cleaning up his country.
In 2016, after warning those involved in the narcotics trade that “it’s either you kill me or I kill you“, an astonishing 1,007,153 narcotics criminals surrended to government, and 73 government officials were arrested for involvement in the illegal drug trade.
Billions of dollars worth of narcotics were seized, showing what can be done in a short timeframe if the problem is tackled seriously.
At least 40 people killed or wounded in Kabul blast: interior ministry
KABUL, Afghanistan – At least 40 people were killed or wounded in a powerful blast in Kabul’s diplomatic quarter early Wednesday, an interior ministry spokesman said.
The spokesman, Najib Danish, said he was unable to give a breakdown of the toll. A health ministry spokesman said more than 60 wounded people, mainly civilians, had been rushed to Kabul hospitals, adding: “We don’t know the number of killed yet”.
Philippine troops aboard helicopters and in armoured tanks battled Islamist militants inside a southern city on Thursday, as reports emerged of the gunmen murdering civilians.
An initial rampage by the gunmen, who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, through the mainly Muslim city of Marawi on Tuesday prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to impose martial law across the southern third of the Philippines.
Authorities said ending the crisis was proving extremely hard because the militants were holed up in residential buildings, had planted improvised bombs in the streets and had taken Catholic hostages.
“People are afraid. They do not want to open establishments. Offices are closed. We do not want people to be used as human shields,” Marawi mayor Majul Usman Gandamra said.
Two military helicopters flew above Marawi and armoured tanks churned through its streets as automatic rifle firing could be heard on Thursday, according to an AFP photographer in the city.
Marawi has about 200,000 residents but many of them have fled because of the fighting.
Five soldiers and one policemen died in the clashes, while 13 gunmen were killed, according to the military.
Authorities have not reported any civilian casualties but the GMA television network showed images of nine people who had apparently been shot dead. The victims had their hands tied together.
They were captured at a roadside checkpoint and murdered by the militants after being identified as Christians, according to the GMA reporter, citing a witness.
Duterte said on Wednesday one policeman was similarly caught at a checkpoint set up by the militants and beheaded.
There are only between 50 and 100 gunmen, according to various military officials.
The militants are also holding between 12 and 15 Catholic hostages abducted from a church, according to the local bishop, Edwin Dela Pena.
The fighting erupted on Tuesday after security forces raided a house where they believed Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of the infamous Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom gang and Philippine head of IS, was hiding.
The United States regards Hapilon as one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists, offering a bounty of $5 million for his capture.
However the raid went spectacularly wrong as dozens of gunmen emerged to repel the security forces, then went on a rampage across the city while flying black IS flags.
The militants raided two jails, leading to the escape of more than 100 inmates, according to Mujiv Hataman, the governor of a Muslim self-rule area that includes Marawi.
They also set fire to many buildings, including a church and a university.
Lawmakers across Southeast Asia have expressed concern over the sentencing of Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, to two years in prison for blasphemy on Tuesday.
“The verdict is deeply disconcerting not only for Indonesia but for the entire ASEAN region. Indonesia was thought to be a regional leader in terms of democracy and openness. This decision places that position in jeopardy and raises concerns about Indonesia’s future as an open, tolerant, diverse society,” said Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian Parliament and chair of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR).
“Ahok has become a victim of rising extremism and religious identity politics. But this decision has impacts beyond justice for one individual. It is a triumph for intolerance and an ominous sign for minority rights. At a time when fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and freedom of religion, are under increasing threat region-wide, this verdict sends the wrong signal to Indonesia’s neighbors in the ASEAN community,” he said in a written statement.
Ahok, Jakarta’s second Christian governor after Henk Ngantung (1964-1965), was convicted of blasphemy by the North Jakarta District Court and sentenced to two years in prison.
The charges stemmed from a September speech, in which he invoked a verse from the Quran in criticizing the arguments of those who suggested that Muslims could not vote for a Christian leader.
APHR said the ruling could embolden religious hard-liners in the country and called into further question Indonesia’s harsh Blasphemy Law, which permits prison sentences of up to five years for those found guilty.
PARIS — The European political establishment breathed a heavy sigh of relief Sunday, as French voters elected pragmatic centrist Emmanuel Macron as president over right-wing challenger Marine Le Pen, who threatened to upend Europe’s existing order, according polling agency projections.
Macron won with 65.5% of votes against 34.5% for Marine Le Pen. Le Pen called Macron to congratulate him on his victory.
Her National Front party had threatened to curb immigration, particularly for Muslims, pull France out of the European Union and return the country to the French franc currency — moves that would have caused political and economic upheaval not only in Europe, but the rest of the world.
Macron, 39, is a former investment banker and economy minister who strongly supports the European Union. He is France’s youngest ever president.
His supporters gathered outside the Louvre museum Sunday for a victory party.
Macron’s victory, coming on the heels of defeats for right-wing populist candidates in Austria and the Netherlands, appears to blunt the anti-establishment fervor sweeping Europe amid a backlash against economic stagnation, a flood of migrants pouring into their countries and a string of nerve-rattling terror attacks.
In a move that social media users called censorship, a Turkish court on Saturday blocked access to Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, enforcing an earlier restriction by Turkey’s telecommunications watchdog.
The Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) said an Ankara court ordered Saturday that a “protection measure” related to suspected internet crimes be applied to Wikipedia. Such measures are used to block access to pages or entire websites to protect “national security and public order.”
In response, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales tweeted his support for those who labeled the decision censorship: “Access to information is a fundamental human right. Turkish people I will always stand with you to fight for this right.”
Turkey Blocks, an internet censorship monitor, said users in Turkey have been unable to access all language editions of Wikipedia since 8 a.m. Saturday.
“The loss of availability is consistent with internet filters used to censor content in the country,” the monitor said.
The site had initially been blocked by BTK under a provisional administration measure.
The exact reason for the ban remains unclear. But Turkey’s official news agency, quoting the Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications, said Saturday the site was blocked for “becoming an information source acting with groups conducting a smear campaign against Turkey in the international arena.”
The state-run Anadolu Agency said officials had warned Wikipedia to remove content likening Turkey to terror groups but the site “persistently” did not.
Turkey had demanded that Wikipedia open an office in the country, act in line with international law and abide by court decisions and not be part of “blackout operation against Turkey,” according to the agency.
Anadolu said if these demands are met and the content removed, the site would be reopened.
Opposition lawmakers also criticized the court order. Republican People’s Party parliamentarians Eren Erdem tweeted the ban puts “Turkey in line with North Korea” while Baris Yarkadas called it “censorship and a violation of the right to access information.”
Turkey’s status is listed as “not free” on the 2016 Freedom on the Net index by independent rights watchdog Freedom House. It says over 111,000 websites were blocked as of May last year.
Wikipedia, a collaborative online reference work, says it is ranked among the 10 most popular websites.