University of Melbourne lecturer and researcher Kylie Moore-Gilbert was sentenced to 10 years in an Iran prison for undisclosed reasons. Dr. Moore-Gilbert specializes in Middle East politics and youth democracy movements in the region.
She is being held in the same facility as Australian travel bloggers Jolie King and Mark Firkin who were arrested after allegedly flying a drone near a military zone near the Iranian capital. The three are being held in Evin Prison, a facility often used to house the country's political prisoners. Former detainees have described it as a frightening place where foreigners are often kept in extreme isolation.
Amnesty International's Eilidh Macpherson said this week she was concerned the Australian detainees may have been subjected to “serious human rights violations, including denial of access to a lawyer and even torture or other ill-treatment".
The exact charges Moore-Gilbert was facing have not been confirmed.
Here's a 2017 interview with Dr. Moore-Gilbert:
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It’s been a while since we’ve heard a lot about the so-called Islamic State. Since the "defeat" of ISIS in Iraq and the majority of Syria, much of the focus in the war-torn regions of the Middle East has been on: the ongoing pissing match between the United States, Russia and Turkey in Syria, what will become of the civilians whose lives were shattered during the Syrian Civil War, hostilities between Iran and damn near everyone, Palestinian rights, and what the Israelis have cooking in regards to Gaza and the protection of their populace from a variety of aggressors.
Would you be surprised to learn that ISIS is still kind of a big deal? Because it sort of sounds like the United Nations was. According to the CBC, a report from U.N. Terrorism experts says that ISIS is still doing fine, thank you very much, boasting as many as 30,000 members stationed in Syria and Iraq. However, after multiple ass-kickings at the hands of professional and volunteer military forces across the Middle East, they’ve decided to tone things down a bit. That overt, "we're gonna build a freaking caliphate" look of theirs? SO last year. Currently, ISIS is playing it cool by conducting covert operations in its bases of operation while the terrorist group regroups and rebuilds.
From The CBC:
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While many ISIS fighters, planners and commanders have been killed in fighting, and many other fighters and supporters have left the immediate conflict zone, the experts said many still remain in the two countries — some engaged militarily, "and others hiding out in sympathetic communities and urban areas."
Jordan is broke, thanks to falling tax revenues due to tax avoidance and low taxes on the super-rich, and the country is seeking to bridge the gap in its finances by borrowing from the International Monetary Fund, which backed a bill that imposed crushing cuts on public services to ensure that money could be found to pay back Jordan's creditors. Read the rest
A Middle East investor is now Uber's single largest source of cash. On Wednesday, the global ride-sharing startup said it had raised $3.5 billion from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the main investment fund of the kingdom. Read the rest
Reuters has an absolutely fascinating profile of Zabulon Simintov, the last known Jewish person living in the entire country of Afghanistan. There were several thousand Jewish people in Afghanistan at the turn of the 20th century, but most of them (including Simintov's wife and daughters) eventually moved to Israel. Read the rest
A Daily Beast story about Taliban’s ruling council meeting for peace talks in Pakistan “violates the basic principles of journalism” and is "nonsense," according to the Afghan Taliban. That's not as bad as having your news organization banned on Reddit, but it's still gotta hurt.
The Taliban's critique, below, in full: Read the rest
In the video above, Rafiq ur Rahman, a drone strike survivor from Pakistan, speaks at a congressional briefing in Washington, DC convened by Rep. Alan Grayson (FL-09). The primary school teacher spoke with his daughter Nabila (9) and son Zubair (13). One year ago, they were injured in the same drone strike that killed their 67-year-old grandmother, Rafiq's mother, as she was tending crops in her garden.
Kevin Gosztola of Firedog lake attended the briefing, and writes: "It is heart-wrenching to hear a 13-year-old boy say, 'Congressman Grayson, I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I now prefer gray skies. The drones do not fly when the skies are gray,' because this is one of the few times he is not afraid he will be targeted by a drone."
"Albert Hibpshman is a United States Air Force (USAF) pilot of manned and unmanned aircrafts. During his recent deployment to Afghanistan, Hibpshman was a Mission Commander flying MC-12Ws [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircrafts] as well as a Group Liaison Officer, responsible for the coordination between five flying squadrons and Army, Marine and special forces units at bases spread throughout southern Afghanistan." Speaking with Muftah.org, Hibpshman shares his personal experience with contemporary drone warfare, and the human side of cyberwar. Read the rest
Longtime Boing Boing reader Jethro Stamps, a freelance photographer based in the middle east, shares a wonderful set of photographs he shot in Qatar at Film City, an old abandoned film set in the heart of the desert. "It's a very odd place indeed," he says, "made stranger by the fact no-one seems to know what any of it was ever used for."
More images and Jethro's story about the visit, below. Read the rest
Update: The whole thing sounds like a weird disinfo job. But, by whom and to what end? The AP has outed "Sam Bacile" as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, a Coptic Christian who claims the film supports the concerns of Christian Copts about their treatment by Muslims. On The Media notes that there's something fishy about the film dialogue. And Gawker has spoken to one of the actresses in the film, who says she had no idea what the film was really about.
The Associated Press identifies Sam Bacile as an Israeli filmmaker based in California who made an independently produced and financed anti-Muslim movie that's sort of "Birth of a Nation" meets "Bed Intruder." The YouTube trailer is embedded above, and it unapologetically attacks Islam’s prophet Muhammad. Bacile has no known prior history as a filmmaker.
His D-grade web trailer inspired (or, alternately, was used as cover for) attacks by ultra-conservative Muslims on U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya. J Christopher Stevens, America's ambassador to Libya, and three American members of his staff were killed today in resulting violence.
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Speaking by phone Tuesday from an undisclosed location, writer and director Sam Bacile remained defiant, saying Islam is a cancer and that the 56-year-old intended his film to be a provocative political statement condemning the religion. Protesters angered over Bacile’s film opened fire on and burned down the U.S. consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. Libyan officials said Wednesday that Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed Tuesday night when he and a group of embassy employees went to the consulate to try to evacuate staff as the building came under attack by a mob firing machine guns and rocket propelled grenades.
Comedian and former attorney Dean Obeidallah, co-director of the previously-Boinged documentary project, "The Muslims Are Coming!," is not a fan of Sacha Baron Cohen's new movie, "The Dictator." Regarding Cohen as "Gen. Shabazz Aladeen," the leader of a fictitious Arab country, Obeidallah writes: "Cohen, who is not of Arab heritage, plays this Arab character while sporting a long fake beard and speaking in a strong Arabic accent, which would be fine, except the character is showcasing the worst stereotypes of Arabs." (CNN.com) Read the rest
Pizza Hut Middle East is pushing the envelope of edibility with their "royal" Crown Crust Pizza, which is a kind of hub-and-spoke bread-thing with cheeseburgers or chicken-cheeseburgers studded around a central, pizza-like wheel. A pair of suitably horrific TV ads round out the chimeric, what-hath-man-wrought motif.