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Clashes in Maldives after court orders Nasheed’s release

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Maldives clashes between Muhammad Nasheed supporters and Police Clash (Photo AFP)

Male, Feb 2: Clashes erupted in the Maldives between police and supporters of former President Mohamed Nasheed on Friday as they took to the streets celebrating a ruling by the Supreme Court to release the exiled leader along with other high-profile prisoners.

The top court in Thursday night’s ruling declared that “the politicians original trials violated constitutional and international law”, the BBC reported.

It called for their immediate release and said the “questionable and politically motivated nature of the trials of the political leaders warrant a re-trial”.

Former Vice-President Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor and other opposition leaders were among the others named in the latest order. The decision effectively restores the opposition majority in Parliament, reinstating 12 members who had been stripped of their seats.

Hundreds of Nasheed supporters took to the streets to celebrate but clashes broke out after President Yameen Abdul Gayoom fired the country’s police chief, whose department had announced that it would uphold the verdict.

Police fired teargas to disperse opposition supporters gathered in the capital while riot police urged people not to take part in any protests and asked everyone to immediately leave, the local media reported.

Defence Minister Adam Shareef urged people to exercise restraint “for the sake of harmony”, warning that “if things escalate, it could be a time of a national security crisis”.

Nasheed, the country’s first democratically elected leader, took office in 2008. He was ousted in a coup in February 2012.

The country has seen political unrest since he was sentenced to 13 years in jail in 2015 on terrorism charges after allegedly ordering the arrest of a judge during his presidency.

His conviction sentence was internationally condemned and he was given political asylum in the UK.

In a tweet, Nasheed called President Gayoom to resign. Similar call was echoed in a joint statement by the country’s opposition parties.

He told the local television that he planned to return to Male, but not immediately. “I will move forward wisely with the advice of the party and the united parties,” he said.

The US Ambassador to the Maldives urged the country’s leader to respect the court’s judgment.

A spokesman for the President’s office said that the government questioned the ruling but would comply.

IANS

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Earthquake – Magnitude 4.8 in Pakistan

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Earthquake Strong

An earthquake of magnitude 4.8 on the Richter scale occurred at 4:14 am today in Pakistan: National Center for Seismology

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Pakistani PM Imran Khan writes to Facebook CEO seeking ban on Islamophobic content

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Imran Khan Pakistan PM

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s prime minister has written a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg seeking a ban on Islamophobic content on the site, warning of an increase in radicalisisation amongst Muslims, the government said on Sunday.

In the letter, shared by the Pakistani government on Twitter, Imran Khan said that “growing Islamophobia” is encouraging extremism and violence across the world — especially through social media platforms such as Facebook.

“I would ask you to place a similar ban on Islamophobia and hate against Islam for Facebook that you have put in place for the Holocaust,” Khan said.

Facebook said this month it was updating its hate speech policy to ban any content that denied or distorted the Holocaust.

Facebook did not immediately reply to Reuters’ request for comment on Khan’s letter.

“One cannot send a message that while hate messages against some are unacceptable, these are acceptable against others,” Khan said, adding that this was “reflective of prejudice and bias that will encourage further radicalisation”.

Khan in his letter made reference to the situation in France, where, he said, Islam was being associated with terrorism.

Earlier on Sunday, Khan said that French President Emmanuel Macron had “attacked Islam” by encouraging the display of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad.

Khan’s comments came after Macron paid tribute to a French history teacher beheaded by an Islamist radical who wanted to avenge the use of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad in a class on freedom of expression.

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Putin rejects Donald Trump’s criticism of Biden family business

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Joe Biden Family

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that he saw nothing criminal in Hunter Biden’s past business ties with Ukraine or Russia, marking out his disagreement with one of Donald Trump’s attack lines in the U.S. presidential election.

Putin was responding to comments made by Trump during televised debates with Democratic challenger Joe Biden ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Trump, who is trailing in opinion polls, has used the debates to make accusations that Biden and his son Hunter engaged in unethical practices in Ukraine. No evidence has been verified to support the allegations, and Joe Biden has called them false and discredited.

Putin, who has praised Trump in the past for saying he wanted better ties with Moscow, has said Russia will work with any U.S. leader, while noting what he called Joe Biden’s “sharp anti-Russian rhetoric”.

Putin appeared less friendly towards Trump in remarks broadcast by Russian state TV on Sunday. In what may be seen by some analysts as an attempt to try to curry favour with the Biden camp, he took the time to knock down what he made clear he regarded as false allegations from Trump about the Bidens.

“Yes, in Ukraine he (Hunter Biden) had or maybe still has a business, I don’t know. It doesn’t concern us. It concerns the Americans and the Ukrainians,” said Putin.

“But well yes he had at least one company, which he practically headed up, and judging from everything he made good money. I don’t see anything criminal about this, at least we don’t know anything about this (being criminal).”

Putin also reacted with visible irritation when asked about comments Trump has made concerning Putin’s ties to the former mayor of Moscow, and to an alleged payment made to Hunter Biden by the ex-mayor’s widow. Putin said he knew nothing about the existence of any commercial relationship between Hunter and the woman. Joe Biden says the accusation about his son is not true.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to tilt the contest in Trump’s favour, an allegation Moscow has denied.

Russia has also dismissed accusations by U.S. intelligence agencies of trying to interfere with this year’s election too.

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