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Phuket Gazette World News: Bangladesh garment factory blazes; Turkey lifts headscarf ban; Italy seeks EU help after boat tragedy

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Phuket Gazette World News: Bangladesh garment factory blazes; Turkey lifts headscarf ban; Italy seeks EU help after boat tragedy | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Turkey lifts generations-old ban on Islamic head scarf
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Turkey lifted a ban on women wearing the Islamic head scarf in state institutions on Tuesday, ending a generations-old restriction as part of a package of reforms the government says are meant to improve democracy.

The ban, whose roots date back almost 90 years to the early days of the Turkish Republic, has kept many women from joining the public work force, but secularists see its abolition as evidence of the government pushing an Islamic agenda.

The new rules, which will not apply to the judiciary or the military, were published in the Official Gazette and take immediate effect in the majority Muslim but constitutionally secular country.

“A regulation that has hurt many young people and has caused great suffering to their parents, a dark period, is coming to an end,” Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told a meeting of his AK Party, which has its roots in Islamist politics.

The debate around the head scarf goes to the heart of tensions between religious and secular elites, a major fault line in Turkish public life.

Erdogan’s critics see his AK Party as seeking to erode the secular foundations of the republic built on the ruins of an Ottoman theocracy by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923.

His supporters, particularly in Turkey’s pious Anatolian heartlands, say Erdogan is simply redressing the balance and restoring freedom of religious expression to a Muslim majority.

“There was a witch hunt for civil servants with a head scarf,” said Safiye Ozdemir, a high-school teacher in Ankara who for years had to remove her head scarf at work against her wishes, but had started to defy the ban in recent months.

“Today it became clear that we’ve been right. So we are happy, and we are proud. It’s a decision that came in very late, but at least it came, thank God.”

Intrusiveness

The lifting of the ban, based on a cabinet decree from 1925 when Ataturk introduced a series of clothing reforms meant to banish overt symbols of religious affiliation for civil servants, is part of a “democratisation package” unveiled by Erdogan last week.

The long-awaited package – in large part aimed at bolstering the rights of Turkey’s Kurdish community – included changes to the electoral system, the broadening of language rights and permission for villages to use their original Kurdish names.

An end to state primary school children reciting the oath of national allegiance at the start of each week, a deeply nationalistic vow, also took effect on Tuesday.

But Erdogan’s opponents have found little to suggest he is curbing what they see as his puritanical intrusiveness into private life, from his advice to women on the number of children they should have to his views on tobacco and alcohol.

They leapt on the dismissal on Tuesday of a television presenter – after she was criticised by AK Party deputy chairman Huseyin Celik for wearing a revealing evening dress – as evidence that the government’s tolerance went in only one direction.

“These policies … show not only the government’s attitudes to women but also its understanding of freedoms,” said Sezgin Tanrikulu, deputy head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which was founded by Ataturk.

“There are countries which interfere in the outfits worn by television presenters, but in those countries we can’t talk about democracy,” he said in a statement.

Celik dismissed such criticism, emphasising that he had not specifically named the television channel or presenter involved.

“As an individual, a TV viewer or a politician, it is my right and freedom of expression to express my opinion,” he said on his Twitter account. “To exploit my comments by saying it is intervention in lifestyles is malicious.”

Italy seeks EU support after Lampedusa refugee tragedy
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Italy is asking for more European Union support and an overhaul of the bloc’s immigration rules after last week’s shipwreck off Sicily that killed hundreds of African migrants who risked a dangerous sea crossing in search of a better life.

Divers again descended to the wreck submerged at a depth of more than 40 metres (132 feet) to recover bodies. After 43 more corpses were recovered on Tuesday, the confirmed death total rose to 274, the Coast Guard said.

More than 300, mostly Eritreans, may have perished in the seas off the small island of Lampedusa, according to the 155 survivors, making it the one of the worst tragedies in the history of the EU’s long immigration crisis.

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso will visit Lampedusa together on Wednesday. Barroso said he will seek to provide more help to Italy, without giving details.

Italian officials want it to be made easier for asylum seekers granted refugee status after arriving in Italy to be settled elsewhere in Europe.

“It is just not possible that the EU continues to accept that these people enter Europe in this horrendous fashion,” Giusi Nicolini, Lampedusa’s mayor, told Reuters on Tuesday. “And so we will ask him for new policies on asylum.”

The latest incident has come in the middle of a bitter debate about immigration. Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge, Italy’s first black minister, has faced a stream of insults from politicians from the anti-immigration Northern League.

With Lampedusa just over 110 km (70 miles) from Tunisia, Italy has borne the brunt of migration from North Africa for more than a decade, but reception centres remain inadequate.

More than 900 migrants, most of them likely eligible for asylum, continue to be packed inside a gated immigration centre on Lampedusa built to house 250. Hundreds are sleeping outside and have been drenched by torrential rains in recent days.

Asylum

Unlike in previous years, almost all the seaborne migrants could qualify for refugee status, in part as a result of the Arab Spring uprisings that led to political instability across the southern fringes of the Mediterranean, United Nations refugee agency spokeswoman Barbara Molinario told Reuters.

As of a week ago, about 30,100 migrants had reached Italy by sea this year, she said. Of those, 7,500 fled the Syrian civil war, 7,500 political oppression in Eritrea and 3,000 violence in Somalia, she said.

EU refugee rules, known as the Dublin regulations, were drafted a decade ago, and they establish strict limitations as to which country each migrant can apply for refugee status.

In most cases, asylum must be sought in the country where a person enters the EU, putting the burden on border countries like Italy and Greece.

Italian EU Affairs Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi called on Tuesday for work to begin on wide-ranging changes to EU asylum and immigration directives.

“Evaluating and possibly revising the Dublin rules must not be taboo,” Moavero Milanesi told Avvenire newspaper, which is published by the Catholic bishops association. The minister’s spokesman confirmed the comments.

He said the EU had to adapt common rules for every aspect of the immigration crisis, as it did when it drew up strict budget rules to tackle the euro zone debt crisis.

The badly overcrowded Lampedusa immigration centre sho

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Weather

At least 35 dead, 100s injured, 50+ missing in Vietnam typhoon Molave

The Thaiger

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At least 35 dead, 100s injured, 50+ missing in Vietnam typhoon Molave | The Thaiger

‘Molave’ has been the most powerful typhoon to hit Vietnam in 20 years. As it peters out into a harmless low pressure front making its way westwards in Thailand. Officials say the death toll across Vietnam may rise as some regions have been unable to report details of damage and casualties. This morning the remnants of Molave are sitting directly over central Thailand dumping rain but having lost its power.

A ‘typhoon’ is the Asian version of a hurricane or cyclone.

At least 35 dead, 100s injured, 50+ missing in Vietnam typhoon Molave | News by The Thaiger

Vietnam deployed soldiers and heavy machinery to search for survivors after landslides triggered by torrential rains from Typhoon Molave, one of the strongest typhoons to hit the region in decades. The main focus for rescue workers has been 3 villages in Vietnam’s central region where landslides killed at least 19 and are suspected of burying more than 40 others in thick mud. Rescue efforts are being hampered by bad weather at the tail end of the storm.

In Tra Leng village, about 45 kilometres from Tra Van, another landslide buried a community with several houses occupied by about 45 people. Rescuers say4 people escaped, while they recovered 8 bodies and later pulled out another 4 villagers alive, including 2 children, who were trapped in a buried house.

Tra Leng was initially cut off to rescue efforts as roads were washed away, flooding and other landslides. By late yesterday government rescue teams were able to open up a road with bulldozers and brought in more rescue teams and heavy equipment.

The Vietnamese government said Typhoon Molave had left millions of people without electricity and damaged at least 56,000 houses and caused a massive blackout in the Quang Ngai province, where 1.7 million people endured the onslaught of the typhoon in darkness.

Also among the dead are 12 fishermen whose boats sank Wednesday as Typhoon Molave approached with winds of up to 150 kilometres per hour.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

France and Germany back in lockdown amid resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe

Maya Taylor

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France and Germany back in lockdown amid resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Andreas Selter on Unsplash

The leaders of France and Germany are once again having to introduce national lockdowns as the Covid-19 virus continues to surge across Europe. France is now recording over 36,000 (+36,437 yesterday) new cases a day, while Germany, which fared slightly better than other European countries during the first wave of the virus, is now seeing a dramatic rise in cases as winter approaches (+16,202 yesterday).

In announcing the new lockdown in France, President Emmanuel Macron warned that the country faces a second wave that could be worse than the first. Strict measures come into effect from tomorrow, with people not permitted to leave their homes unless it is to seek medical attention, purchase essential items, or to exercise for a maximum of an hour a day. However, schools remain open and people can still go to work if it is not possible for them to do their job from home.

“The virus is circulating at a speed that not even the most pessimistic forecasts had anticipated. Like all our neighbours, we are submerged by the sudden acceleration of the virus. We are all in the same position: overrun by a second wave which we know will be harder, more deadly than the first.”

France and Germany back in lockdown amid resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe | News by The Thaiger

Over in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has confirmed that from next Monday, November 2, to the end of November, all bars, restaurants, and theatres will close. Schools will remain open and shops will be permitted to operate under strict conditions. The chancellor warns that the measures are vital to protect the country’s healthcare system.

“We need to take action now. Our health system can still cope with this challenge today, but at this speed of infections, it will reach the limits of its capacity within weeks.”

Confirmation of lockdowns in Europe’s biggest economies caused stock markets around the world to plummet, with European markets closing at their lowest level since late May. The S&P 500, which measures the performance of the 500 largest publicly traded companies in the US, was down 3%.

France and Germany back in lockdown amid resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe | News by The Thaiger

Meanwhile, with just 5 days to go before the presidential election, the US continues to set records with its rising numbers of virus cases. President Trump, however, remains undeterred, as he continues to hold public rallies, with many supporters not wearing masks.

France and Germany back in lockdown amid resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: SBS News

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World

Son of Sultan of Brunei dies at the age of 38

Maya Taylor

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Son of Sultan of Brunei dies at the age of 38 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The Scoop

The son of the Sultan of Brunei has died at the age of 38, the government of Brunei has confirmed. Prince Azim, who was 4th in line to the throne, passed away on Saturday morning. While the cause of death has not been confirmed, his Wikipedia entry says he succumbed to a long illness.

CNN reports that the prince had made a name for himself as a Hollywood film producer, where he was known for hosting extravagant parties with celebrity guests that included Mariah Carey, Pamela Anderson, and Janet Jackson, among others. His success in film came despite international condemnation of his father’s harsh rule in Brunei, where parts of Sharia law are in force and capital punishment involves death by stoning.

The nation of Brunei has entered a 7-day mourning period, with leaders from neighbouring countries expressing their condolences on the death of the prince. A statement from the Indonesian embassy in Brunei said Prince Azim, “will always be remembered fondly.” The prime minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, described him as someone who was, “known for his kind and generous spirit, and for his dedication to charitable, educational, and youth causes.”

SOURCE: CNN

 

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