INDONESIA OUTLAWS SEX OUTSIDE MARRIAGE

Indonesia has passed a new Criminal Code that includes outlawing sex outside marriage and cohabitation. The new laws apply to Indonesians and foreigners and also restore a ban on insulting the president, state institutions or Indonesia’s national ideology known as Pancasila. The new criminal code, which was approved unanimously by parliament on December 6, replaces a framework that had been in use since independence in 1946 and was a mix of Dutch law, customary law known as hukum adat, and modern Indonesian law. “We have tried our best to accommodate the important issues and different opinions which were debated. However, it is time for us to make a historical decision on the penal code amendment and to leave the colonial criminal code we inherited behind,” Yasonna Laoly, minister of law and human rights, told parliament ahead of the vote.

MOROCCO BEAT PORTUGAL TO REACH SEMI-FINALS

Morocco beat Portugal 1-0 and knocked Cristiano Ronaldo out of the tournament, making the Atlas Lions the only Arab and African team to make it to Qatar World Cup’s semi-finals. The Atlas Lions struck in the 42nd minute via a Youssef En-Nesyri header and were able to hold on to their lead despite a late red card to Walid Cheddira. The capital, Rabat, was bursting with joy after the final whistle had blown with fans lighting flares and singing songs as their team reached the last four. Exuberant Moroccans poured into the streets of the capital Rabat on December 10, and could be seen cheering, crying, dancing and singing as they celebrated their team’s historic victory. The victory has Morocco fans full of confidence for the days ahead. The team will face France in the semi-finals on December 14. Morocco’s performances have touched Palestinians since the players and many of their supporters expressed solidarity on and off the field with their plight during the World Cup. Palestinian flags have featured regularly among Morocco’s supporters and some of the players unfurled Palestinian flags on the field after they defeated Spain in the quarter-finals.

DEATH TOLL IN IRAN PROTESTS RISES TO 458: RIGHTS GROUP

The death toll from the ongoing protests in Iran sparked by the death of a young woman in police custody has risen to 458, according to a Norway-based rights group. “At least 458 people including 63 children and 29 women have been killed in the ongoing nationwide protests in Iran,” the Norway-based Iranian Human Rights said on December 7. The most deaths were reported in Sistan and Baluchistan, Kurdistan, Western Azerbaijan, Tehran, Mazandaran and Kermanshah provinces, according to the nongovernmental organisation. “Iran Human Rights considers the execution of protesters to be in violation of all human rights laws and standards, and calls on the international community to react appropriately,” the rights group urged. Meanwhile, Iran on December 8 executed a prisoner convicted for a crime allegedly committed during the ongoing nationwide protests, the first such death penalty carried out by the country. The execution was ordered for Muhsen Shekari, who is reportedly affiliated with Iran’s judiciary. Shekari was given the death penalty on November 20 and the execution was carried out on December 8.

ALGERIA CALLS FOR REFORM OF UN SECURITY COUNCIL

Algeria’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ramtane Lamamra, called on December 7 for reform of the UN Security Council so that Africa can have two permanent seats. Lamamra made his call during the ninth conference of senior African officials about peace and security across the continent held in the Algerian city of Wahran. The Security Council has 15 member states, including five permanent members: the US, the UK, Russia, China and France. These five states have the right to veto any decision, and can thus paralyse UN institutions and actions. Currently, there are three African countries among the ten non-permanent member states, namely Ghana, Gabon and Kenya. Lamamra stressed the importance of “a comprehensive, pluralist and balanced system to face global challenges successfully and effectively.”

US ANNOUNCES PROGRAMME TO RESETTLE ROHINGYA REFUGEES

The United States has announced a new programme to resettle “the most vulnerable Rohingya refugees”, and the first group of these refugees has already started the journey to the US, a report said on December 9. “ The US government is very pleased to establish, in coordination with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other resettlement countries, a resettlement program for the most vulnerable Rohingya refugees,” US Assistant Secretary of State Julieta Valls Noyes said on December 8. Noyes also touted US support for the Rohingya, saying that Washington has given more than $1.9bn to “affected populations in Burma, Bangladesh, and elsewhere in the region, for Rohingya and their host communities”. The announcement by the US would pave the way for further resettlement of members of the persecuted community to other countries.

MEASLES KILLS 15 CHILDREN IN YEMEN: UNICEF

Fifteen children died of the deadly measles disease in war-torn Yemen this year, according to the UN children’s agency. In a statement, UNICEF said around 1,400 children in seven Yemeni provinces, including the southern Aden province “were suspected of having measles” in the period between January and July. The statement said UNICEF and their partners helped the Yemeni health authorities “to target children ages 0-10 for polio vaccination and 6-month to 10-year-olds with measles vaccines.” “Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that is prevalent in children. Measles causes painful skin rashes, sore eyes, fever, stiff muscles, and severe coughing for almost everyone who contracts the virus,” UNICEF explained. Yemen has been mired by chaos and violence since September 2014 when Houthi rebels captured much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa. A military coalition led by Saudi Arabia entered the war in early 2015 to restore the government to power. The eight-year conflict has created one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, with millions risking starvation.

UK MUSLIM SHOP OWNER OFFERS HELP TO WOULD-BE THIEF

A Muslim shop owner in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire has offered help to a would-be-thief after a botched attempt to steal mobile phones from his shop remained fruitless, thanks to an automatic door lock. Afzal Adam, owner of the small mobile phone shop, posted the video of the incident in which a young man wearing a hood is seen to have tried to leave the shop with telephones. He leaves the shop after handing over the phone sets as Adam unlocked the door. Adam; however, later on offered the man support via a new Twitter post, appealing to him to come back for help if in need. “The times are difficult for many of us at the moment, so if you are struggling to put food on the table, please come visit us in store to see how we can help,” Adam wrote, adding a Hadith: “Be merciful to others and you will receive mercy. Forgive others and Allah will forgive you.”

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