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Resources updated between Monday, October 26, 2020 and Sunday, November 01, 2020

October 29, 2020

Former leader of the U.K. Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn (File photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Investigation into antisemitism in the U.K. Labour Party finds unlawful acts of discrimination and harassment Article

A view of Nice, France (File photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

One woman was reportedly decapitated and two other people were stabbed to death on Thursday following a knife attack at a church in the French city of Nice that also left several others wounded, according to multiple reports.

The suspect, believed to be acting alone, was injured during his arrest and was taken to a local area hospital, police said.

An investigation was opened into an attack by the French anti-terrorism prosecutor's office, reports said. Images on French media showed the neighborhood locked down and surrounded by police and emergency vehicles.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said the country's threat level will be raised to its maximum after the attack. He also told the French National Assembly that the government's response to the attack would be firm and implacable.

Mayor Christian Estrosi suggested that the Thursday morning attack seemed to be terror-related, although a motive is unclear at this time. Estrosi said the attacker shouted "Allahu akbar!" -- or "God is most great" in Arabic -- repeatedly as police apprehended him and that "the meaning of his gesture left no doubt."

"Enough is enough," Estrosi told local reporters, according to Reuters. "It's time now for France to exonerate itself from the laws of peace in order to definitively wipe out Islamo-fascism from our territory."

He added that two people were killed inside the city's Notre Dame Basilica and a third person who escaped to a nearby bar later died.

Thursday's incident marked the third attack in France in less than two months since a terrorism trial opened in September related to the January 2015 killings at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket.

The attack at the church also happened less than a half a mile from the site in 2016 where another attacker plowed a truck into a Bastille Day crowd, killing dozens.

Thursday also marked the Prophet Muhammed's birthday.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was quick to condemn the "heinous" attack in France and pledged solidarity in Europe "in the face of barbarism and fanaticism."

"I condemn the odious and brutal attack which has just taken place in Nice and am wholeheartedly with France. My thoughts are with the victims of this heinous act," she said in a statement. "The whole of Europe stands in solidarity with France. We remain united and determined in the face of barbarism and fanaticism."

The incident comes as France is currently under alert for Islamic extremist acts. It occurred nearly two weeks after a French middle school teacher, Samuel Paty, was beheaded by a man of Chechen origin near Paris.

The 18-year-old suspect, who was killed after he didn't respond to requests to drop his weapon, had said he wanted to punish Paty for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a civics lesson on free speech, Reuters reported.

Those caricatures were published by Charlie Hebdo and cited by the men who gunned down the newspaper's editorial meeting in 2015.

In September, a man who had sought asylum in France attacked bystanders outside Charlie Hebdo's former offices with a butcher knife.

The lower house of parliament suspended a debate on France's new virus restrictions and held a moment of silence Thursday for the victims. The prime minister rushed from the hall to a crisis center overseeing the aftermath of the Nice attack. French President Emmanuel Macron was headed to Nice later in the day.

About 154 miles away from Nice, French police on Thursday shot a man dead in Montfavet, near the city of Avignon in the south of France, for allegedly threatening a passerby with a handgun, Reuters reported, citing local media reports. According to French radio station Europe 1, the man had yelled, "Allahu Akbar."

The attacks come as France is set to begin a four-week lockdown on Friday amid a second surge of coronavirus infections.

Tensions have been rising between France and the Muslim world, which considers cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed blasphemous.

Images of the prophet have been widely displayed in marches and protests since Paty's slaying, as French officials and citizens alike reassert their freedom of expression. France has also since expelled 231 foreigners for suspected Islamic extremist beliefs, prompting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and others in the Muslim world to accuse Macron of promoting an "anti-Islam agenda"

An estimated six million Muslims live in France, the largest population in Western Europe, which has created increasing challenges in the republic formed on strict secular principles known as "la´citÚ." In the eulogy at Paty's funeral, Macron defended France's secularism and vowed that the country would not give up its liberties or its cartoons.

"We will continue, professor. We will defend the freedom that you taught so well and we will promote secularism, we will not renounce caricatures, drawings, even if others retreat," Macron said earlier this month. "We will continue the fight for freedom and the freedom of which you are now the face."

Wednesday's edition of Charlie Hebdo also sparked furor for including a caricature of Erdogan in his underwear lifting up a Muslim woman's skirt. The Turkish president called the satirical image a "grave insult to my prophet" and renewed calls for a boycott of French goods in the Middle East.

A Saudi man was also arrested Thursday in the city of Jiddah for allegedly using a "sharp tool" to stab and slightly wound a guard at the French consulate, Reuters reported, citing Saudi state TV. France alerted its citizens to be on "high alert."

The Kremlin responded Thursday to the recent beheadings in France, saying it was unacceptable to kill people, but also wrong to insult the feelings of religious believers, according to Reuters.

Macron delivered a speech before the teacher was killed outlining a legislative proposal to fight what he described as "Islamic separatism," arguing Muslims in France risked forming a "counter-society." Macron defined Islam as "a religion that is in crisis today all over the world" and said the proposal, if approved by Parliament, would aim "to build an Islam in France that can be compatible with the Enlightenment."

The diplomatic dispute with Erdogan also comes as tensions between NATO allies France and Turkey have intensified in recent months over issues that include the fighting in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh, a region within Azerbaijan that is controlled by ethnic Armenian separatists. Macron has accused Turkey of flouting its commitments by ramping up its military presence in Libya and bringing in jihadi fighters from Syria.

Attacker shouting "Allahu Akbar" beheads an elderly woman praying inside French church, kills two others. Document

October 28, 2020

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testifying at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing regarding social media, October 28, 2020 (Screenshot)

Iranian Ayatollah Khamenei tweets Holocaust denial - again - with Twitter's permission Article

The Israeli town of Efrat (File photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

U.S. acts on declaration settlements are legal, extends deal to West Bank Article

Screenshots of two antisemitic tweets that have since been removed (screen grab)

South African Jews celebrate first criminal conviction for online antisemitism Article

Iranians protesting in November 2019.

Iran has imposed harsh sentences on 36 residents of a southwestern city who joined the nation's last major wave of anti-government protests in November 2019, according to a knowledgeable source who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation.

Speaking to VOA from Iran on Friday, the source said the 36 protesters from Behbahan in Khuzestan province were handed their sentences by the city's criminal court October 22. The source said the defendants were sentenced to a cumulative total of 109 years in prison and 2,590 lashes, while each individual was fined more than 3 million tomans, equivalent to roughly $700.

A copy of the verdict, provided by the source and verified by VOA Persian, showed the protesters were convicted of disturbing public order, disobeying security agents and vandalizing public property.

The source said the Behbahan court's presiding judge, Rasoul Asadpour, barred defendants and their lawyers from the courtroom for the October 12 trial session, allowing them to submit only a written defense. Prosecutors presented no evidence for many of the charges, the source asserted.

VOA could not independently confirm the circumstances of the trial because it is barred from reporting inside Iran.

There has been no comment from Iranian officials about the cases of the 36 protesters in state media this month.

VOA's source said two of the defendants, Ahmad Hatampour and Maryam Payab, previously had been sentenced to a total of 12 months in prison in a separate trial overseen by a Revolutionary Court in the southwestern city of Mahshar several months ago. The source said the Mahshar court had convicted Hatampour and Payab of spreading anti-government propaganda, and its ruling was upheld on appeal.

"The 36 Behbahan residents only were protesting against inflation and government mismanagement," the source said. The defendants, who remained free on bail, were planning to visit the Behbahan prosecutor's office in the following days to appeal their sentences, the source added.

Iran's government sparked the November 2019 demonstrations in dozens of cities nationwide by ordering a 50% increase in the subsidized price of gasoline, further straining the finances of Iranians facing high unemployment and inflation in a shrinking economy under heavy U.S. sanctions. Iranian security forces killed hundreds of protesters and arrested thousands more in a violent crackdown on the mostly peaceful demonstrations, in which some people also damaged public buildings and businesses.

The Trump administration said the protests represented the worst political crisis for Iran's Islamist rulers since they seized power in the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran Sentences Protesters to Long Prison Terms, Thousands of Lashes Document

French President Emmanuel Macron (File photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

"France is increasing security at religious sites as the interior minister said Tuesday that the country faces a 'very high' risk of terrorist threats, amid growing geopolitical tensions following the beheading of a teacher who showed his class caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

French diplomats are trying to quell anger in Turkey and Arab nations amid anti-France protests and calls for boycotts of French goods in response to President Emmanuel Macron's firm stance against Islamism in the wake of the Oct. 16 beheading. European allies have supported Macron, while Muslim-majority countries are angered by his defense of prophet cartoons they consider sacrilegious.

France's national police have called for increased security at religious sites around the All Saint's holiday this coming weekend, particularly noting online threats from extremists against Christians and moderate French Muslims.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on France-Inter radio that the terrorist threat remains 'very high, because we have a lot of enemies from within and outside the country.'

He reiterated plans to try to disband Muslim groups seen as peddling dangerous radical views or with too much foreign financing. He accused Turkey and Pakistan in particular of 'meddling in France's internal business.'

'There is a battle against an Islamist ideology. We must not back down,' he said. But he insisted that 'the Muslim faith has all its place in the republic.'

Some members of France's largely moderate Muslim community are calling for calm, and defending the freedom of expression that the beheaded teacher was seeking to demonstrate.

The prophet cartoons deeply upset many Muslims around the world. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has led the charge against France, questioning Macron's mental state, and France recalled its ambassador to Turkey for consultations, a first in French-Turkish diplomatic relations.

Tensions between the two countries have mounted in recent months over Turkish actions in Syria, Libya and the Caucasus Mountains region of Nagorno-Karabakh. But this new spat has quickly spread to other countries in Europe and the Muslim world.

Anti-France protests have been held from Bangladesh to the Gaza Strip, Kuwaiti stores pulled French yogurt and bottles of sparkling water from their shelves, Qatar University canceled a French culture week, and Pakistan's parliament passed a resolution condemning the publication of cartoons of the prophet.

EU officials warn that Turkey's stance could further damage its relations with key trading partners and its long-stalled efforts to join the EU.

'A boycott will only move Turkey even further away from the EU,' European Commission spokesman Balazs Ujvaris said Tuesday, insisting that Turkey needs to respect the terms of its trade deal on merchandise and goods with the EU."

France tightens security, facing 'very high' terror risk after teacher beheading Document

October 27, 2020

Hong Kong police (Screenshot of video)

Hong Kong activist detained attempting to seek asylum at U.S. consulate Document

October 26, 2020

Flags at the United Nations (File photo)

The U.N. should stop funding the Palestinian narrative Article

Gathering paying tribute to the killed French teacher (Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Muslims call for French goods boycott to protest caricatures Article

Saba Kord Afshari and her mother, Raheleh Ahmadi (Photo courtesy social media)

Source: Iran Denies Humanitarian Measures to Mother, Daughter Jailed for Protesting Compulsory Hijabs Document