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Free speech has limits, says Canada PM when asked about Prophet Mohammed cartoons

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended free speech on Friday, but added that it was “not without limits” and should not “arbitrarily and needlessly hurt” certain communities.

“We will always defend freedom of expression,” Trudeau said in response to a question about the right to show a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed, as France’s Charlie Hebdo magazine did.

Read more: Nice attack: Twitter removes Mahathir’s tweet on killing millions of French people

“But freedom of expression is not without limits,” he added. “We owe it to ourselves to act with respect for others and to seek not to arbitrarily or unnecessarily injure those with whom we are sharing a society and a planet.”

“We do not have the right for example to shout fire in a movie theater crowded with people, there are always limits,” he argued.

Distancing himself from the position of French President Emmanuel Macron, Trudeau pleaded for a careful use of free speech.

“In a pluralist, diverse and respectful society like ours, we owe it to ourselves to be aware of the impact of our words, of our actions on others, particularly these communities and populations who still experience a great deal of discrimination,” he said.

Read more: Watch: Saudi man arrested for crashing car into courtyard of Grand Mosque in Mecca

At the same time, he said society is ready for a public debate on these issues, “to have these complex conversations in a responsible way.”

As he had done the day before with the leaders of the European Union, Trudeau insisted on condemning the recent “awful and appalling” extremist attacks in France.

“It is unjustifiable and Canada wholeheartedly condemns these acts while standing with our French friends who are going through extremely difficult times,” he said.

Canada’s parliament observed a moment of silence on Thursday for the three people stabbed to death earlier in a church in Nice, in southern France, by a Tunisian man who was apprehended.

Read more: Tunisia to probe Mahdi Organization for links to Nice attack, says state media

Anger erupted in the Middle East in response to Macron defending the right to publish the cartoons in France.

Macron made the comments during a tribute last week to Samuel Paty, a teacher beheaded in the street for showing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in class in a course on freedom of expression.

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Last Update: Saturday, 31 October 2020 KSA 08:48 – GMT 05:48

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Coronavirus: US reports world record of more than 100,000 cases in single day

The US set a new all-time high for coronavirus cases confirmed in a single 24-hour period on Friday, reporting just over 100,000 new infections to surpass the record total of 91,000 posted a day earlier, according to a Reuters tally.

The daily caseload of 100,233 is also a world record for the global pandemic, surpassing the 97,894 cases reported by India on a single day in September.

Read more: Coronavirus: Three tigers in quarantine after one tests positive at US zoo

Five times over past ten days, the US has exceeded its previous single-day record of 77,299 cases registered in July. The number of daily infections reported during past two days indicates that the nation is now reporting more than one new case every second.

The spike comes just four days ahead of the US presidential election on Tuesday.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed nearly 230,000 people in the US, has dominated the final stretch of the campaign.

The US crossed 9 million cumulative cases on Friday, representing nearly 3 percent of the population, according to a Reuters tally of publicly reported data.

On Friday, 16 US states reported their highest one-day coronavirus infections while thirteen states were at record levels of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

So far in October, 31 states have set records for increases in new cases, including five considered key in the Nov. 3 presidential election: Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden held rallies in Florida on Thursday, showcasing their contrasting approaches to the pandemic.

The nationwide surge in cases seen in the past week is pushing the US towards the grim mark of 100,000 daily cases. India holds the record of most number of daily coronavirus cases – 97,894 cases, it reported on Sept. 17.

For every 10,000 people in the US, over 272 coronavirus cases have been reported and about seven people have died, according to a Reuters analysis. In Europe there have been 127 cases and four deaths per 10,000 residents.

More than 1,000 people died of the virus on Thursday, marking the third time in October that milestone has been passed in a single day. The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 has risen more than 50 percent in October to 46,000, the highest figure since mid-August.


Last Update: Saturday, 31 October 2020 KSA 08:37 – GMT 05:37

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Coronavirus: Cases in India reach 8.1 million after reporting 48,268 new infections

India’s coronavirus caseload stood at 8.1 million on Saturday, with 48,268 new cases being recorded in the last 24 hours, data from the health ministry showed.

India has the world’s second-highest caseload, behind only the US, but new infections have seen a dip since September.

Deaths rose up by 551, taking total mortalities to 121,641, the health ministry said.

Earlier this month the Indian government announced it had begun identifying about 300 million people who would be given the COVID-19 vaccine first when it is ready.

The Times of India said that frontline health and sanitation workers, police officials and elderly people with co-morbidities will get the vaccine on priority.

The plan, which is still in the draft stage, aims to cover 23 percent of the population in the first phase. The final plan is likely to be ready by end October-November, the report said.

The selected individuals will be given an estimated 600 million doses.

Earlier this month, health minister Harsh Vardhan had said that India hopes to receive up to 500 million doses of coronavirus vaccines by July next year to inoculate about 250 million people.

Officials have said that giving the vaccine to India’s 1.3 billion people will be a mammoth exercise, likely to stretch well into 2022.

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Last Update: Saturday, 31 October 2020 KSA 08:14 – GMT 05:14

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Coronavirus: Three tigers in quarantine after one tests positive at US zoo

Three tigers at a Tennessee zoo are in quarantine after one tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a Friday news release from Zoo Knoxville.

The US Department of Agriculture’s national veterinary lab confirmed the positive test for Bashir, an 11-year-old male Malayan tiger, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

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Two other tigers, 11-year-old male Tanvir and 6-year-old female Arya, are presumed positive while their tests are being processed.

All three animals have experienced mild coughing, lethargy and decreased appetite.

In April, a tiger at another American zoo tested positive for coronavirus, becoming the first animal to be identified as having the virus in the US.

The tiger was tested after it fell ill alongside six other tigers and lions at the Bronx Zoo in New York.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which is responsible for veterinary services, confirmed that the animal tested positive for the virus and suggested it had caught the virus from a human employee at the zoo.

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Last Update: Saturday, 31 October 2020 KSA 08:07 – GMT 05:07

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Over 1,000 Muslim leaders around the world adopt anti-Semitism definition via council

Over 1,000 Muslim leaders around the world adopted a comprehensive definition of anti-Semitism on Friday, in a move meant to strengthen “bridges of peace between Islam and all religions.”

The international Global Imams Council, comprised of over 1,000 imams across different denominations, adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)’s definition of anti-Semitism, according to a statement.

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“Today, we add our council’s name alongside 34 countries that have adopted this working definition. We live in a time of rising Antisemitism and terrorist attacks, which makes our responsibility as faith leaders greater, and even greater as Imams,” said the organization’s president Iraqi Imam Mohammad Baqir al-Budairi.

The council’s vote on the definition passed with an overwhelming majority, according to al-Budairi.

The organization of Islamic religious leaders has also made prominent Jewish Rabbi Elie Abadie a permanent member of its interfaith board.

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The request for the council to adopt the IHRA anti-Semitism definition first came from the US government, specifically the Department of State’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism (SEAS), according to the statement.

SEAS thanked the council for working together to “banish bigotry,” in a statement on Twitter.

Last week, SEAS signed an agreement with Bahrain’s King Hamad Global Center to collaborate on fighting anti-Semitism and promoting Middle East peace.

“Arabs and Jews are both Semitic peoples that are threatened by hatred or intolerance towards Semitic people,” the memorandum of understanding (MoU) stated.

The two entities will collaborate on developing and implement programs to “promote mutual respect, appreciation, and peaceful coexistence between Arab and Jewish peoples and their respective nation-states, and between all faiths in the Middle East,” according to the agreement.

All forms of anti-Semitism will be confronted in the partnership, according to the statement, which said that included “anti-Zionism and the delegitimization of the State of Israel.”

Read more: Bahrain, Israel normalize ties: Seven events that led to the deal

“His Majesty King Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa has made it a top priority for Bahrain to lead the Middle East towards a future of tolerance, mutual respect, and cooperation between Muslim and Jews,” the statement said.

The agreement, which included IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism, came less than one week after Bahrain signed an agreement to fully normalize ties with Israel, becoming the fourth Arab country to do so after fellow Gulf state, the United Arab Emirates.

The foreign ministers of Israel and the UAE visited the Holocaust Memorial in central Berlin during their historic first meeting in Germany earlier this month.

In a message written in the visitors’ book at the memorial, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said that the site was “a witness to the fall of a group of human beings who were victims of advocates of extremism and hatred,” and stressed “the importance of strengthening the values of tolerance, coexistence and acceptance around the world without discrimination.”

“Whatever led to the murder of millions of innocent victims will not happen again,” Sheikh Abdullah added.

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Last Update: Saturday, 31 October 2020 KSA 07:45 – GMT 04:45

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Pro-democracy leaders in Thailand hospitalized after police clashes

Three prominent Thai pro-democracy leaders were in hospital on Saturday after chaotic scenes outside a Bangkok police station overnight as officers tried to slap them with further criminal charges.

A court on Friday ordered the release of Panupong “Mike” Jadnok, Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul and Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak who have been in custody since mid-October on sedition charges — but police sought to question them over outstanding arrest warrants.

Read more: As world’s strongest 2020 typhoon approaches, Philippines orders evacuation

For months, protesters have staged almost daily rallies demanding reforms to the country’s monarchy and for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha — the former military chief who staged a 2014 coup — to resign.

The student-led demonstrations are also calling for a rewrite of the military-scripted constitution and an end to alleged government harassment of political opponents.

Panupong appeared to be unconscious as he was loaded into an ambulance outside the police station Friday night after being transported in a police van from jail.

Local media said he fainted after being subjected to a “chokehold” by plainclothes police.

Parit and Panusaya were allowed to mingle with about 300 supporters outside the station for several hours until police from Ayutthaya, 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Bangkok arrived to question them in the early hours of Saturday morning.

“The iron bars can imprison the stars but not the starlight. In my heart, I still have faith in the people. The wind of change, the wind of democracy has arrived in Thailand,” Parit told the crowd, who sang songs.

Tosaporn Sererak, a doctor and former lawmaker, was with the pair as they were loaded into an ambulance around 4:30am.

“After questioning, both Rung and Penguin were feeling weak and have been sent to hospital where they are expected to stay for two-three days,” Tosaporn told AFP, adding Parit has shards of broken glass in his skin from a scuffle in a police van.

Panusaya had foot pain, he said.

Authorities will seek a court order to have them remanded in prison upon discharge from hospital.

Officers visited Panupong in hospital before 7:00 am on Saturday.

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Last Update: Saturday, 31 October 2020 KSA 06:20 – GMT 03:20

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Iranian Arab opposition group says Iran abducted former leader in Turkey

An Iranian Arab opposition group accused on Friday the Iranian regime of abducting one of its former leaders in Turkey.

The Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA), an Iranian-Arab separatist group, said in a statement that Iranian intelligence agents abducted Habib Chaab – also known as Habib Eseywed – after “luring” him to Turkey.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

ASMLA said a Gulf state aided in the abduction of Chaab. The group, however, did not specify which country.

Activists say Ankara has deported dozens of Iranian activists and asylum seekers. The Kurdistan Human Rights Network says Turkey deported 33 Iranian Kurdish activists to Tehran last December.

Iran, which considers ASMLA a terrorist organisation, is yet to comment on the matter.

The Arab nationalist group seeks a separate state inside Iran’s oil-rich southwestern Khuzestan province.

Ahwazi Arabs say they are deprived of decent living standards and civil rights, as well as facing discrimination due to their Arab identity.

Some see themselves as under Persian occupation and want independence or autonomy.

In 2017, Ahmad Mola Nissi, ASMLA’s founder, was shot dead in the Netherlands. A year later, Iran accused the group of being responsible for a deadly attack on a military parade in Ahwaz that killed 25 people. AMSLA denies the accusation.

In recent years, a number of Iranian dissidents have been arrested in neighbouring countries and taken to Iran.

In August, Iran said it arrested US-based opposition figure Jamshid Sharmahd. Details of his arrest and subsequent travel to Iran remain a mystery.

Last year, Iran announced the arrest of Iranian journalist-turned-activist Ruhollah Zam. Last October, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) said they had “trapped” Zam, who had been given political asylum in France and was also based in other parts of Europe, in a “complex operation using intelligence deception.”

He was sentenced to death in June for allegedly fuelling anti-government unrest in late 2017 on social media, according to Iranian media.

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Last Update: Saturday, 31 October 2020 KSA 06:18 – GMT 03:18

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As world’s strongest 2020 typhoon approaches, Philippines orders evacuation

Philippine officials on Saturday ordered the evacuation of thousands of residents in the southern part of the main Luzon island as a category 5 storm that is the world’s strongest this year approaches the Southeast Asian nation.

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Typhoon Goni, with 215 kph (133 miles) sustained winds and gusts of up to 265 kph (164 mph), will make landfall on Sunday as the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines since Haiyan that killed more than 6,300 people in 2013.

Pre-emptive evacuations have started in coastal and landslide-prone communities in the provinces of Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur, while Albay provincial government would order residents in risky areas to leave their homes, Gremil Naz, a local disaster official, told DZBB radio station. “The strength of this typhoon is no joke.”

Typhoon Molave last week killed 22 people, mostly through drowning in provinces south of the capital Manila, which is also in the projected path of Goni, the 18th tropical storm in the country.

Authorities are facing another hurdle as social distancing needs to be imposed in evacuation centers to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Read more: Coronavirus: Philippines’ Duterte recommends gasoline for disinfecting face masks

The Philippines has the second highest COVID-19 infections and deaths in Southeast Asia, next only to Indonesia.

Relief goods, heavy machinery and personal protective equipment are already positioned in key areas, Filipino Grace America, mayor of Infanta town in Quezon province, told DZBB radio.

“But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our funds for calamity concerns and expenses are insufficient.”

Local officials canceled port operations and barred fishers from setting sail.

Typhoon Goni, moving westward at 20 kph (12 mph) from the Pacific Ocean, will bring intense rains over the capital and 14 provinces nearby on Saturday evening, and threats of floods and landslides.

Another typhoon, Atsani, is gaining strength just outside the Philippines. Around 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year.

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Last Update: Saturday, 31 October 2020 KSA 06:15 – GMT 03:15

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Sudan signs agreement with US restoring its sovereign immunity

Sudan and the United States signed an agreement to restore the African country’s sovereign immunity, the Sudanese Ministry of Justice said on Friday.

The ministry said in a statement the agreement will settle cases brought against Sudan in US courts, including for the bombing of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, for which Sudan has agreed to pay $335 million to victims.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

The deal is part of a US pledge to remove Sudan from its designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, which goes back to its toppled Islamist ruler Omar al-Bashir when Washington believed the country was supporting militant groups.

President Donald Trump said this month that the United States will remove Sudan from the list as soon as Khartoum sets aside the $335 million it has agreed to pay to American victims of militant attacks and their families.

To avoid new lawsuits Sudan needed its sovereign immunity restored, which it lost as a designated sponsor of terrorism.

The designation makes it difficult for its transitional government to access urgently needed debt relief and foreign financing as it fights an economic crisis.

Sudan has under US pressure also agreed to normalize ties with Israel, making Khartoum the third Arab government after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to establish relations with Israel in the last two months.

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Last Update: Saturday, 31 October 2020 KSA 04:13 – GMT 01:13

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Watch: Saudi man arrested for crashing car into courtyard of Grand Mosque in Mecca

Saudi Arabia’s authorities arrested a man who crashed his car into one of the gates of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, state news agency SPA reported on Friday.

The spokesman for the Mecca region governorate, Sultan al-Dosari said that at 10:30 p.m. local time, the security authorities in Mecca responded to an accident where a car hit one of the entrance gates of the Grand Mosque.

“The car swerved while moving at a high speed on one of the roads surrounding the southern courtyard of the Grand Mosque. Thankfully, no one was injured,” according to SPA.

“The driver was arrested. He is a Saudi national and was in an unnatural state. He was referred to the public prosecution.”

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

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Last Update: Saturday, 31 October 2020 KSA 03:18 – GMT 00:18