Isis shuts down women's clinics in Raqqa to prevent male gynaecologists treating female patients - By Adam Withnall @adamwithnall


Isis is believed to have ordered the closure of all women’s clinics supervised by male doctors in its Syrian heartlands in its latest assault on the rights of women.
A culture of rape, forced marriages for child brides, the persecution of doctors and the exclusive use of medicines for militants have resulted in a crisis for women’s health under Isis’s brutal regime.
According to activists, Isis has drastically restricted the work of male gynaecologists in accordance with its leaders’ belief that men and women should be kept apart at all costs.
Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, the rights group which this year won the CPJ International Press Freedom Award, has reported threats and harassment towards doctors in the city on Wednesday night.
“A lot of doctors have [already] left, especially gynaecologists who were barred from practising their work and [threatened] with death,” said Abu Mohammed, the group’s founder.
Sources told another activist network, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, that all women’s clinics in Raqqa state overseen by men had been shut down. Gynaecologists working in the province’s larger hospitals had their involvement in operations “confined”.
The Observatory, a London-based network of activists, said it had previously reported on the closure of women’s clinics in smaller provinces held by Isis.
“People expressed their resentment over these steps taken by [Isis] regarding health and medical staff in the city, which already suffers from the lack of female medical staff engaged in these tasks,” it said in a statement.
Earlier this year, doctors in Isis’s Libyan territories reported a dramatic increase in cases of miscarriages and STDs among young women, as girls are forced into unions with fighters.
One gynaecologist told The Times in May that girls taken in to clinics were often so young they had no real sense of what was happening to them. “We see girls who are bleeding heavily from their genital area. Some of them don’t know what sex is — they come into the clinic playing with their dolls.”
The demand on women’s clinics continues to grow in Isis-held Syria and Iraq, as women are tasked primarily with producing the next generation of fighters.
A “manifesto” for the role of “Women in the Islamic State”, unearthed in February by the Quilliam counter-extremism think-tank, revealed a “sedentary” lifestyle as mothers and homemakers.
“It is considered legitimate,” the document says, “for a girl to be married at the age of nine.”

Hassan al-Thawadi: 'A clear bias' against Qatar


From the moment in December 2010 when Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup, critics have called for the Gulf state to be stripped of its right to host football's biggest tournament. 
Qatar has since faced allegations of corrupt practices during the bid process. 
FIFA, the sport's governing body, commissioned an investigation into all the countries involved in bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. 
Headed by American lawyer Michael Garcia, a summary of his findings as presented by FIFA cleared Qatar of any serious wrongdoing. But Garcia later resigned and recanted the report, saying the summary FIFA made public was incomplete and did not accurately reflect the facts and conclusions of his own report.
And these are not the only concerns for Qatar. 
The country is accused of exploiting workers and of still not having the required stadium cooling technology that would make a summer World Cup possible.
The organisers of the World Cup have responded by developing a charter that they say ensures the wellbeing of all their workers. It is supposed to protect them against forced labour, for example, and make sure their wages are paid on time.
But there are still complaints. An Amnesty International report published in November said that while workers lived in high quality accomodation, issues remained with their overtime payments and some workers were not in possession of their passports.
Amnesty also said that several promises by the government to change the labour rules in Qatar have still not been implemented or published This despite reports six months earlier by the UN Human Rights Council urging Qatar to step up efforts to prevent human rights abuses.
Hassan al-Thawadi, the man in charge of organising the Qatar World Cup 2022, talks to Al Jazeera.
Source: Al Jazeera

Syria conflict: Saudis say Iran must accept Assad exit


Saudi Arabia has said Iran must accept the removal of President Bashar al-Assad as part of any solution to the conflict in Syria.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir made the remarks as talks among international foreign ministers on the crisis get under way in Vienna.
Iran is for the first time taking part in such talks, which will also include Russia and Turkey.
Russia and Iran both support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
They have both recently stepped up their military role in the conflict.
The US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab nations have long insisted Mr Assad cannot play any long-term role in Syria's future.
Mr Jubeir told the BBC that there was "no doubt" Mr Assad had to go. "He will go either through a political process or he will be removed by force," he said.
Earlier American Secretary of State John Kerry said the US was intensifying diplomatic efforts to end the "hell" of Syria's civil war even as it increases support for moderate rebels.
Foreign ministers from the UK, France, Germany, Egypt, Lebanon and the EU have also confirmed they will attend the meeting, and other Middle Eastern powers are also expected.

Middle East press mulls Iran's presence at Vienna talks

Iran's Quds newspaper sees Iran's invitation to the talks as US "acknowledgement of Iran's influential position in resolving the Syrian crisis".
Saudi Arabia's Al-Jazirah warns of "more Iranian political and military expansion" should Mr Assad remain in power, leading to Tehran "[reshaping] everything for its own benefits".
Lebanese daily Al-Nahar speculates that the US's "sudden decision" to invite Iran to the talks "reflects changes that occurred because of the Russian military intervention".
Jordan's Al-Ra'i notes that Iran's inclusion "would be in support of Russian diplomacy", which was "standing alone" at previous talks.

In a speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think-tank in Washington, ahead of the talks, Mr Kerry said:
"At the end of the day, nothing would do more to bolster the fight against Daesh [the Islamic State militant group] than a political transition that sidelines Assad so that we can unite more of the country against extremism."
But in his speech, Mr Kerry stressed that the US and Russia also shared "common ground", arguing that both want "a united, secular Syria".

Analysis: BBC Diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall

Four years into Syria's civil war, and with Russia now conducting its own bombing campaign there separate from that of the US-led coalition, the conflict looks more dangerous than ever.
But it has also created a new urgency to try to find a way out of the fighting.
Some of the impetus comes from Russia, keen to be seen as a major player and anxious, apparently, to keep its air strikes limited.
It is also due to a new readiness by the United States and Saudi Arabia to hear what Iran has to say - especially about the main point of disagreement: what role Syria's President Assad should be allowed to play in any transition.
The Saudis and most Western powers see him as an obstacle. The Russians and Iranians argue he is a vital partner.
The test of this Vienna meeting is whether there is any movement towards a compromise.
But even without tangible progress, the very fact such a high-profile gathering is happening could mark an important step in the search for a way out of Syria's nightmare.

Iran is believed to have spent billions of dollars over the past four years propping up Mr Assad's government, providing military advisers and subsidising weapons.
However, Syria's political opposition has warned that Iran's involvement will only complicate the meeting in Vienna.
Iran has long acknowledged sending military advisers to Syria, but has denied the presence of any ground forces. Despite that, unconfirmed reports earlier this month said that hundreds of Iranian troops had arrived in Syria.
They were reported to be joining government forces and fighters from the Lebanese Shia Islamist movement, Hezbollah, in assaults on rebel positions in northern and central Syria.
Russia began its military intervention in Syria at the end of last month, launching air strikes in support of Mr Assad.
Washington has accused Moscow of concentrating its air campaign in Syria on moderate opposition groups rather than on the Islamic State militant group.
Why is there a war in Syria?
Anti-government protests developed into a civil war that, four years on, has ground to a stalemate, with the Assad government, Islamic State, an array of Syrian rebels and Kurdish fighters all holding territory.
Who is fighting whom?
Government forces concentrated in Damascus and the centre and west of Syria are fighting the jihadists of Islamic State and al-Nusra Front, as well as less numerous so-called "moderate" rebel groups, who are strongest in the north and east. These groups are also battling each other.
What's the human cost?
More than 250,000 Syrians have been killed and a million injured. Some 11 million others have been forced from their homes, of whom four million have fled abroad - including growing numbers who are making the dangerous journey to Europe.
How has the world reacted?
Iran, Russia and Lebanon's Hezbollah movement are propping up the Alawite-led Assad government, while Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar back the more moderate Sunni-dominated opposition, along with the US, UK and France. Hezbollah and Iran are believed to have troops and officers on the ground, while a Western-led coalition and Russia are carrying out air strikes.

Saudi blogger Raif Badawi awarded Sakharov human rights prize


Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, whose flogging sentence caused an outcry, has been awarded the European Parliament's Sakharov human rights prize.
Parliament President Martin Schulz urged Saudi King Salman "to free him, so he can accept the prize".
Mr Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes in Saudi Arabia for "insulting Islam".
Earlier this month he also won the Pen Pinter Prize for championing free speech.
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought has been awarded by the European Parliament since 1988 to individuals or organisations for their contribution to the fight for human rights and democracy.
It is named after the Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov.

Flogging postponed

Mr Badawi, author of the website Free Saudi Liberals, was convicted of insulting Islam in 2012 and fined £175,000.
He received the first 50 lashes of his sentence in January, but subsequent floggings have been postponed.
In June, Saudi Arabia's Supreme Court upheld the verdict despite a foreign outcry.
"This man, who is an extremely good man, an exemplary man, has had imposed on him one of the most gruesome penalties," Mr Schulz told a packed European Parliament assembly in Strasbourg, France.
"I call on the Saudi king to immediately free him. Relations depend on human rights being respected by our partners... they are not only not being respected but are being trodden underfoot."
Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the European Parliament's Liberal bloc, said: "The European Parliament has sent today a strong political and humanitarian message to Saudi Arabian authorities."
Mr Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar, now living Canada with their children, said the award was a "message of hope and courage".
"I thank the European Parliament," she told AFP news agency.
Mr Badawi was one of three nominees for this year's prize along with assassinated Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov and the Venezuelan opposition movement Mesa de la Unidad Democratica.
Previous winners include Nelson Mandela, Myanmar activist Aung San Suu Kyi and Pakistani education campaigner Malala Yousafzai.


SAUDI: By Schams Elwazer and Bryony Jones, CNN - Ali al-Nimr: Saudi protester's crucifixion could happen 'at any moment'


(CNN)The father of a Saudi man sentenced to crucifixion for alleged crimes in connection with the Arab Spring protests when he was a teenager fears he will only find out about his son's death when it is announced on television.
Mohammed al-Nimr says the family is "extremely worried" after Ali al-Nimr, 20, was moved to a prison in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, almost a month ago.
On Wednesday, Ali was able to call his family for the first time since being transferred from Dammam, 250 miles (400km away).
He told them he was being held in solitary confinement, in a block housing about 30 other death row prisoners.
"We're forbidden from visiting them," al-Nimr told CNN. "Anything is possible now in regard to their fate."
    Al-Nimr says the Saudi authorities may not even tell them before carrying out his son's execution, leaving them to find out publicly, after his death.
    "As soon as King Salman signs the execution order, it can be implemented at any moment," he told CNN. "Usually the Interior Ministry does not notify anyone that they will kill their child ... at a specific time.
    "We could at any time turn on the TV or the radio and hear the decision announced there."
    Ali al-Nimr was 17 and still in high school when he was arrested for taking part in protests calling for social and political reforms in Saudi Arabia's restive Qatif province in 2012.
    A court later convicted him of charges including belonging to a terror cell, attacking police with Molotov cocktails, incitement, and stoking sectarianism, according to state media.
    Reprieve, an NGO which campaigns against the death penalty, says Ali al-Nimr was "arrested without a warrant ... held in pre-trial detention for two years ... tortured and forced to sign a false confession. This was the only evidence brought against him."
    But his final appeals have been rejected and he now faces beheading, along with the additional, rarer punishment of "crucifixion," which would see his body placed on public display as a warning to others.
    Al-Nimr insists his son has done nothing to deserve such a "harsh and unjust verdict" which he says "does not fit the boy, does not fit international law, [does not fit] the laws of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
    "Even if all the charges against Ali were proven, he still would not deserve to be killed, within Saudi law. In my opinion the charges were not proven because the trial was flawed," he said.
    "Death is still death, but this ugly scenario, and this ugly death, for someone who was a child when he was arrested, is something we completely and utterly reject."
    Al-Nimr says a friend of his son, Dawoud al-Marhoon, who, like Ali, was 17 when he was arrested on similar charges, has also had his conviction upheld; he too faces beheading -- though not crucifixion.
    Ali's father believes the charges against his son were motivated by the fact that his brother, Ali's uncle, is the firebrand Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who has also been condemned to death by a Saudi court.
    Mohammed al-Nimr was himself jailed for 26 days last year, for posting tweets from his brother's trial.
    "Ali went out in demonstrations just like tens of thousands of people went out to protest in the region during the Arab Spring ... But the charges that they stuck him with I think were spiteful charges. It was spite against his uncle, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr."
    CNN has asked the Saudi government for comment on Ali's case, and that of his uncle, but has received no response.
    Whatever happens to his son, al-Nimr has appealed to the family's supporters not to resort to violence.
    "Even if -- God forbid -- something happens to Ali, we don't want anyone to ... commit any act that is not peaceful. Our demands remain peaceful and our objections have also been peaceful."
    U.N. experts and human rights organizations have urged Saudi authorities to call off the sentence, on the grounds that Ali al-Nimr was a minor at the time of his alleged crimes.
    Activists say if Ali is executed it would violate the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Saudi Arabia is a party.
    The European parliament has passed a resolution calling on the Saudi King "to halt the execution of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr and grant a pardon or commute his sentence."
    And world leaders including France's Francois Hollande have appealed to Saudi Arabia -- a key Middle East ally -- to show clemency.
    British Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn has called on Prime Minister David Cameron to take action over the case; after "speaking privately" to authorities in Saudi Arabia, Britain's Foreign Secretary said he did not think the execution would go ahead.
    "I do not expect Mr. al-Nimr to be executed," Philip Hammond told the UK parliament on Tuesday.
    But Mohammed al-Nimr says his son's fate rests in the King's hands.
    "We are of course worried. I am worried and the families of the other prisoners in the kingdom are also worried ... I believe the real solution lies in the hands of King Salman."

    Saudi crucifixion could come 'any time'


    Mohammed al-Nimr says the family is "extremely worried" after Ali al-Nimr, 20, was moved to a prison in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, almost a month ago. On Wednesday, Ali was able to call his family for the first time since being transferred from Dammam, 250 miles (400km away).He told them he was being held in solitary confinement, in a block housing about 30 other death …

    Bahrain to try 24 accused of forming IS cell


    Oct 21, 2015
    Bahrain's public prosecutor says the trial of 24 people accused of forming a local Islamic State branch and plotting attacks will begin Thursday. The prosecutor said Wednesday on an official Twitter account that the 24 are charged with planning to commit terrorist acts and plotting to use arms and explosives to change the government by force. It says eight of the individuals …

    BAHRAIN:these are the stories that I could not tell for 8 months in immigration because I was a journalist without visa in Bahrain


    Bahrain Centre for Human Rights


    Published on Oct 15, 2015
    Bahraini forces have arrested more than a dozen civilians in one week as the ruling Al Khalifa regime pushes ahead with its heavy-handed crackdown on anti-regime rallies in the country.
    The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights announced that regime soldiers arrested at least 13 people between October 5 and 11, and that four children were among those detained.
    The Bahraini non-governmental organization further said that Bahraini courts sentenced 12 nationals to a total of 86 years in prison during the mentioned period, and adjourned the trial of 40 others in different cases.
    Since mid-February 2011, thousands of anti-regime protesters have held numerous demonstrations on the streets of Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa family to relinquish power.
    Bahraini regime forces have cracked down on the protesters, killing scores of them. A large number of Bahraini activists are also suffering behind bars.

    For more information, you can visit us on www.imamhussein3.tv


    Jason Rezaian: Iran convicts Washington Post reporter after spy claims


    A court in Iran has convicted Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, Iran's ISNA news agency said on Sunday, but the US newspaper said Tehran was working a political angle by not disclosing details. ISNA quoted judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei as saying the California-born Rezaian, the paper's Tehran bureau chief, had 20 days to appeal the verdict. Mr … (continue reading)


    Turin shelves guest of honour invitation for Saudi Arabia at International Book Fair


    The International Book Fair in Turin has withdrawn an invitation to Saudi Arabia to be guest of honour next year, in the wake of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr’s death sentence. The Italian book fair said earlier this year that a 300 sq metre space would be dedicated to Saudi literature in 2016, with the country occupying its “guest of honour” slot. But at the end of last month, Turin’s …

    Indian 'woman has hand chopped off by Saudi Arabian employers'


    India’s foreign ministry has demanded answers from Saudi Arabian authorities after a woman reportedly had her hand chopped off by her employers. Kasturi Munirathinam’s right hand was chopped off while she attempted to escape from her employer’s home last week, according to Indian media reports. 58-year-old Ms Munirathinam, who was working as domestic staff in Saudi Arabia, is …