Attack on Maiduguri repelled for now

Reuters reports that Nigeria’s military finally managed to pull its socks up and stop Boko Haram from devouring yet another spot on the map, which is a good thing since this spot on the map has two million people in it. It’s a Chicago.

Other places weren’t so fortunate.

Nigeria’s military repelled multiple attacks by suspected Boko Haram militants on Borno state capital Maiduguri in the northeast, security sources said on Sunday, but the insurgents captured another Borno town.

The assault on Maiduguri, with a population of around two million, began just after midnight. Sources at two hospitals said at least eight people had died and 27, mostly civilians, had been injured. A second attempt to take the city’s airport in the afternoon was also repelled.

A raid on Monguno, 140 km (80 miles) north, began later in the morning and the town fell under militant control by the late afternoon.

The militants also simultaneously attacked another town, Konduga, which is 40 km (24 miles) from Maiduguri, but the military said it had thwarted the raid.

But don’t worry, the Super Bowl will still take place.



Read Massimo instead

Sure enough: Massimo knows how to do it. Compare his first paragraph:

Much has been written about the terrorist attack on the satirical paper Charlie Hebdo, which took place on 7 January 2015. Some of the commentary has been insightful, some full of pious platitudes about defense of free speech by sources with not exactly a stellar record in that department, and some of it has ranged from the woefully uninformed to the downright awful. It is, therefore, with some recalcitrance that I write these lines, particularly because Im coming to the issue from what I feel is an increasingly rare point of view: that of a moderate liberal atheist.

[Read more…]

Othering the other other

The academic journal Science, Religion & Culture has a special issue on Islam, Culture and the Charlie Hebdo affair. The first article I’ve opened is Free Speech is Free for Whom? by Hussein Rashid, an adjunct prof at Hofstra. I…don’t like it. It’s written in a form of academese that I’m very allergic to – the kind that wraps its points in such a cloud of pseudo-technical verbiage that…well that two things:

  1. people like me can’t stand to read it
  2. the unwary are fooled into thinking it’s profound

[Read more…]

We must overthrow the Mubarak at home

Amnesty has a new report on violence against women in Egypt. Melissa Jeltsen at the Huffington Post reports on the report.

The damning report, released by Amnesty International, urged the government to present a comprehensive strategy to combat violence against women before the upcoming parliamentary election.

“Recent measures to protect women taken have been largely symbolic,” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International, said in a press release. “The authorities must prove that these are more than cosmetic changes by making sustained efforts to implement changes and challenge deeply entrenched attitudes prevalent in Egyptian society.” [Read more…]

Put down the knife

An Egyptian doctor has been found guilty of killing a girl by cutting up her genitals, the BBC reports.

Opponents of FGM were dismayed when Raslan Fadl was acquitted in November of charges relating to the death of 13-year-old Suhair al-Bataa.

But after an appeal, a court in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura sentenced him to more than two years in prison.

The campaign group Equality Now called the ruling a “monumental victory”. [Read more…]

Repainting the break room

So there’s this hospital in Clermont-Ferrand with a mural of what looks like a gang-rape…

A fresco depicting four superheroes committing what has been interpreted as a gang rape is currently the subject of a huge scandal in France. The mural—which is painted on the wall of a hospital in Clermont-Ferrand—depicts Wonder Woman having anal sex with Batman while Superman comes in her mouth. Supergirl is there, fisting, and the Flash is getting a handjob. It’s causing its fair share of controversy in a country still dealing with the emotional fallout of the Charlie Hebdo attacks. [Read more…]

A sweep of the awards

In Australia some awards were handed out.

Rosie Batty has been named Australian of the Year for her campaign against family violence in an award ceremony that saw four women take the nation’s top Australia Day honours for the first time in history.

Ms Batty rose above her personal tragedy and the great loss of her 11-year-old-son, Luke, who was murdered by his father on a cricket oval in February last year.

Her story jolted Australia into recognising that family violence could happen to anyone and she has given voice to many thousands of victims of domestic violence who had until then remained unheard. [Read more…]

Raif’s dream

Ensaf Haidar tells us that Raif is all emotional about the Independent’s campaign for him.

Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger whose punishment of 1,000 lashes has led to an international outcry, is mentally “very strong” and taking great heart from the campaign to free him, his wife has told The Independent.

In an email exchange, Ensaf Haidar said she remains hopeful that her husband will be released soon, despite being sentenced to 10 years in prison and 50 lashes a week for 20 weeks for criticising the country’s clerics through his liberal blog. He is still recovering from his first round of flogging.

[Read more…]

UK-Saudi Arabia co-operation on prison service

Meanwhile, in London – a baffling plan is afoot.

The UK Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is hoping to profit from selling its expertise to the prison service in Saudi Arabia, a country notorious for public beheadings, floggings, amputations and courts that regularly violate human rights.

A new commercial arm of the justice ministry, staffed by civil servants, has bid for a £5.9m contract in Saudi Arabia. Just Solutions international (JSi) will also soon start setting up a probation service in Macedonia, and is in the running to build a prison in Oman.

??????????? [Read more…]

Fighting on the outskirts

Bad. Now Boko Haram is attacking Maiduguri, which is not a village but a city.

Fighters from the Islamist militant group Boko Haram have launched an attack on the key city of Maiduguri in north-eastern Nigeria.

Fierce fighting was reported on the outskirts. The military is carrying out air strikes, and a curfew is in place.

Maiduguri is home to tens of thousands of people who have fled Boko Haram attacks and was visited on Saturday by President Goodluck Jonathan. [Read more…]