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Sri Lankans storm president’s house



Sri Lanka (MNN) — On July 9, Sri Lankan protestors stormed the president’s official residence in the capital, Colombo.

Crowds remain there today, many swimming in the large pool or lounging on expensive beds while the police look on. Civilians from the protest have volunteered to keep order. People have expressed both awe at the wealth and indignation that it has been kept from ordinary civilians.

The crowds won’t leave until President Gotabaya Rajapaksa officially steps down. That has been promised for July 13. Still, Rajapaksa hasn’t officially resigned yet, hinting at possible complications to come.

Also on July 9, crowds stormed the prime minister’s house and even set it on fire.

Desperation and corruption

Adrian De Visser with Asian Access says hunger and desperation drove the protests. Many people cannot buy food, gas, or other essentials. “So people streamed to the city of Colombo in busloads and trainloads. They were particularly concerned that it should not be a violent demonstration. But the police fired tear gas and opened fire into the air in order to frighten people.”

“But millions of people were in the city. And the police could not control them.”

Once Rajapaksa officially resigns, a temporary government will hold power until elections in three to six months.

Sri Lankan churches

June 10 was a quiet Sunday at churches around Sri Lanka. Most people don’t have the fuel to drive anywhere.

But Christians continue to pray for new leadership, free from corruption. De Visser says, “All of this has come upon our country because the present government has been extremely corrupt, especially the ruling family. They have robbed the people of their wealth. Pray God will bring people of integrity.”

Local churches continue to help their neighbors in Jesus’ name. Ask God to strengthen them. Plus, you can support these efforts through Asian Access. Learn more here.



(Header photo courtesy of Vector Gallery from Pixabay)

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Under police investigation over Islamophobia claim, Hadi asks about ‘other side’




KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 5 — PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang urged the police today to investigate unspecified remarks involving his political rivals, after he was questioned over his accusation that DAP was anti-Islam.

Speaking to reporters after he gave his statement to investigators, Hadi claimed he gave full cooperation to the police and was prepared to be prosecuted over his remarks.

“This is my turn to ask that the police investigate those from the other side, including PH (Pakatan Harapan).

“I hope there is fairness,” he told reporters after spending two hours to have his statement recorded at the Sentul district police headquarters.

He did not specify which remarks and by which politicians should be investigated.

On November 28, Hadi accused DAP of spreading Islamophobia in another lengthy Facebook rant that featured the usual diatribe against the PH component member as a party allegedly bent on “destroying” Islam.

In August, he accused non-Muslims and non-Bumiputera of making up the bulk of what he called as “roots of corruption” — those who chase illicit gains — to the detriment of the country’s economy and politics.

This had led to numerous police reports made against Hadi.

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Iran: Almost Three Months of Anti-hijab Protests




The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini following her arrest and alleged assault by Iran’s notorious morality police almost three months ago sparked the biggest protests in the Iranian republic in years.

Women and girls have led the charge against compulsory headscarves.

A general in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps has said more than 300 people, including security force members, lost their lives in the protests, AFP reported.

The Oslo-based Iran Human Rights group gives a toll of at least 448 people “killed by security forces”.

Here is a timeline of the events:

– Sept. 13: Amini’s arrest –

Amini is visiting Tehran with her family when she is detained by the Gasht-e Ershad (Guidance Patrol), the police unit that enforces strict dress rules for women, including the mandatory hijab or headscarf.

She is rushed to hospital later that day. Police claim she “suddenly suffered a heart problem”. CCTV footage from the police station appears to show her collapsing.

– Sept. 16: death –

After three days in a coma, Amini is declared dead.

Rights activists say she suffered a fatal blow to the head while in custody, a claim echoed by a relative of Amini living in Iraq, but denied by officials.

President Ebrahim Raisi orders an inquiry.

– Sept. 17: first protests –

Amini is buried in her hometown of Saqez in Kurdistan province of northwest Iran. Police use tear gas after some residents demonstrate.

In the following days, the hashtag #Masha_Amini clocks up more than one million tweets, including many videos of Iranian women cutting their hair to protest her death.

Demonstrations break out at several universities in Tehran.

– Sept. 20: first deaths –

Three people are reported killed during protests in Kurdistan province.

Videos posted on social media show women removing their veils and chanting “Woman, life, freedom” or “Death to the dictator”, a slogan directed at Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader.

– Sept. 22: social media muzzled –

Iran blocks access to Instagram and WhatsApp, the two platforms most widely used in Iran. It imposes drastic restrictions on internet access.

The US places the morality police on its sanctions blacklist.

– Sept. 23: counter-demonstrations –

Thousands take part in pro-hijab counter-demonstrations in Tehran and other cities, in response to a call from the authorities.

On September 25, Raisi vows “decisive action” to end the anti-hijab protests. A day later, more than 1,200 protesters are arrested.

– Oct. 3: Khamenei accuses US –

Khamenei accuses arch-foes the United States and Israel of fomenting the unrest.

– Oct. 8: death by illness –

An official medical report concludes Amini’s death was caused by illness, due to “surgery for a brain tumor at the age of eight”, and not police brutality.

Activists hack a state television live news broadcast, superimposing crosshairs and flames over an image of Khamenei.

– Oct. 15: prison blaze –

A fire erupts during clashes at Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, where hundreds of those detained during the demonstrations are being held.

The blaze kills eight inmates, according to authorities.

– Oct. 26: mass rally in Amini’s hometown –

Crowds pour into Amini’s hometown to pay tribute at her grave to mark the end of the traditional 40-day period of mourning.

As protests break out, Iranian security forces open fire on the crowd.

– Nov. 13: first death sentence –

A Tehran court hands down the first death sentence over the protests to a demonstrator accused of “corruption on earth”, one of the most serious categories of crimes in Iranian law.

– Nov. 15: strike –

Protesters hold strikes and demonstrations to mark three years since a deadly crackdown on unrest sparked by a fuel price hike in 2019 — the last time Iranians took to the streets in large numbers.

– Dec. 4: morality police scrapped

“Morality police have nothing to do with the judiciary and have been abolished,” Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri is quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.

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Iran abolishes morality police | Daily Express Online




Iran abolishes morality police

Published on: Monday, December 05, 2022


Text Size:

Iranian policemen and women stand guard as they prepare to start a crackdown to  enforce Islamic dress code at a police station in the capital Tehran, in July of 2007.

Iranian policemen and women stand guard as they prepare to start a crackdown to enforce Islamic dress code at a police station in the capital Tehran, in July of 2007.

TEHRAN: Iran has scrapped its morality police after more than two months of protests triggered by the arrest of Mahsa Amini for allegedly violating the country’s strict female dress code, local media said Sunday.Women-led protests, labelled “riots” by the authorities, have swept Iran since the 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish origin died in custody on September 16, three days after her arrest by the morality police in Tehran.
Demonstrators have burned their mandatory hijab head coverings and shouted anti-government slogans, and since Amini’s death, a growing number of women have failed to wear the hijab, particularly in parts of Tehran.


“Morality police have nothing to do with the judiciary and have been abolished”, Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.
His comment came at a religious conference where he responded to a participant who asked “why the morality police were being shut down”, the report said.
Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that overthrew Iran’s US-backed monarchy, there has been some kind of official monitoring of the strict dress code for both men and women.
But under hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the morality police—known formally as the Gasht-e Ershad or “Guidance Patrol”—was established to “spread the culture of modesty and hijab”.  
The units were set up by Iran’s Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, which is today headed by President Ebrahim Raisi.
They began their patrols in 2006 to enforce the dress code which also requires women to wear long clothes and forbids shorts, ripped jeans and other clothes deemed immodest.
The announcement of the units’ abolition came a day after Montazeri said “both parliament and the judiciary are working” on the issue of whether the law requiring women to cover their heads needs to be changed.
Raisi said in televised comments Saturday that Iran’s republican and Islamic foundations were constitutionally entrenched “but there are methods of implementing the constitution that can be flexible”. 
The hijab became mandatory in 1983.

Morality police officers initially issued warnings before starting to crack down and arrest women 15 years ago.
The squads were usually made up of men in green uniforms and women clad in black chadors, garments that cover their heads and upper bodies. 
The role of the units evolved, but has always been controversial even among candidates running for the presidency.
Clothing norms gradually changed, especially under former moderate president Hassan Rouhani, when it became commonplace to see women in tight jeans with loose, colourful headscarves.
But in July this year his successor, the ultra-conservative Raisi, called for the mobilisation of “all state institutions to enforce the headscarf law”.
Raisi at the time charged that “the enemies of Iran and Islam have targeted the cultural and religious values of society by spreading corruption”.
Iran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia also employed morality police to enforce female dress codes and other rules of behaviour. Since 2016 the force there has been sidelined in a push by the Sunni Muslim kingdom to shake off its austere image.
In September, the Union of Islamic Iran People Party, the country’s main reformist party, called for the hijab law to be rescinded.
The party, created by relatives of former reformist president Mohammad Khatami, demands authorities “prepare the legal elements paving the way for the cancellation of the mandatory hijab law”.


As recently as Saturday it also called for the Islamic republic to “officially announce the end of the activities of the morality police” and “allow peaceful demonstrations”.
Iran accuses its enemy the United States and its allies, including Britain and Israel, and Kurdish groups based outside the country, of fomenting the street protests.
More than 300 people have been killed in the unrest, including dozens of security force members, an Iranian general said on Monday.
Oslo-based non-government organisation Iran Human Rights on Tuesday said at least 448 people had been “killed by security forces in the ongoing nationwide protests”.
Thousands of people have been arrested, including prominent Iranian actors and footballers.
Among them was the actor Hengameh Ghaziani, detained last month. She had published on Instagram a video of herself removing her head covering. She was later freed on bail, Iranian news agencies reported.
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