Jakarta's Christian governor set for defeat in tense election, polls show
- Created on 19 April 2017
Former Education Minister Anies Baswedan garnered a considerable lead on Wednesday in a run-off gubernatorial election in Jakarta. Early results released by an unofficial private pollster on Wednesday showed the Muslim politician received 58 percent of the vote....
India's top court orders trial against BJP leaders over 1992 mosque attack
- Created on 19 April 2017
India's Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that four senior members of the ruling Hindu nationalist party must stand trial for their involvement in an attack on the 16th-century Babri mosque a quarter-century ago.
Some 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in violence that erupted in December 1992 , when Hindu zealots razed the mosque using pickaxes and crowbars. However, thousands more were later killed in violence related to the disputed site.
The officials, members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have denied any involvement in the attack, but critics alleged their fiery speeches in Ayodhya , where the mosque was located, led to its destruction.
The court ordered Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti, former Deputy Premier LK Advani, ex-BJP President Murli Manohar Joshi and Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh to be retried on conspiracy charges.
A lower court had previously dropped charges against the four officials brought on by India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which prompted a series of appeals.
"We have allowed the CBI appeal against the Allahabad High Court Judgement with certain directions," Supreme Court judges said, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.
The court's ruling stipulates that the case wrap-up in two years and take place in Lucknow, roughly 120 kilometers (75 miles) west of Ayodhya.
Due to Singh's current position as governor of Rajasthan, his trial will begin after his tenure ends due to constitutional immunity granted to those in office. He served as Uttar Pradesh governor, where the mosque was located, during the incident.
Hindu activists believe that a temple marking the birthplace of their god Ram had been destroyed to make way for the Babri mosque. They have called for the construction of a new temple honoring Ram on the disputed site.
More Bangladeshi girls harassed online than ever
- Created on 19 April 2017
With the rise of smartphone use in Bangladesh, the online harassment of women has also grown manifold, according to authorities. The primary target of the online abusers is teenage girls, say police.
Bangladesh has over 63 million internet users - one of the highest penetrations rates in South Asia - and most of them are based in urban areas.
"We receive 10 to 12 online harassment complaints everyday. 90 percent of the victims are pre-teen and teenage girls," Nazmul Islam, Deputy Commissioner of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, told the AFP news agency.
The police point to a range of online harassment cases. Girls are increasingly being tricked into sharing sexual photographs and video footage that is later used for blackmailing. In some cases, hidden cameras are used to secretly film young people having sex, with the footage later posted online, said Islam.
"These photos and videos are also being used by boyfriends to blackmail the girlfriends or their families," he added.
To protect these young girls from cyber harassment, the authorities have launched a project to train more than 10,000 girls to deal with the online abuse. One of the aims of this extensive training is to create awareness among Bangladeshi teenagers about the abusive use of social media and teach them ways to stay safe online.
Lack of awareness
Shegufta Sharmin, a Dhaka-based rights activist, believes these trainings can be beneficial for girls.
"All of sudden, so many people have access to the internet. These people had no prior experience of online media. As a result, they don't know what they should and shouldn't be doing while engaging with social media. The government-sponsored training can create awareness about it," Sharmin told DW.
Sharmin said it is important for girls to know that they shouldn't be sharing personal information online and establishing relations with unknown persons on social media.
Apart from that, the expert added that Bangladesh needs to strengthen its legal support services for cyber harassment victims. "Dedicated hotline services are also needed to tackle the issue," she emphasized.
In 2013, Bangladesh set up a special court to deal with social media-related crimes. More than 450 cases have been heard since then.
"The majority of the cases involved young girls. In some cases, the girls discovered that their former lovers posted their intimate photos on social media," according to Nazrul Islam Shamim, the court prosecutor.
'The government should also train young boys about how to behave online. In my opinion, this is more crucial than other measures,' said Dhar
'Boys need training'
Supriti Dhar, editor of the "Women Chapter" online magazine, believes that online sexual harassment won't stop until Bangladeshi authorities take measures to sensitize boys.
"The government should also train young boys about how to behave online. In my opinion, this is more crucial than other measures," Dhar told DW, adding that there should be severe punishments for those involved in online sexual harassment.
Marzia Prova, the managing coordinator of "Women Chapter," says that the police, too, have very limited understanding of such crimes.
How active are Indian jihadists in Afghanistan?
- Created on 19 April 2017
On April 13, the United States dropped its biggest non-nuclear bomb in eastern Afghanistan on an "Islamic State" (IS) target. The so-called '"mother of all bombs" (MOAB) killed at least 96 IS fighters, according to Afghan officials. Surprisingly, 13 of them were from India.
IS in Afghanistan is known to have recruited hundreds of local fighters as well as militants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Central and Southeast Asia, but an active involvement of Indian jihadists in IS' Afghanistan operations is not well documented.
In an interview with DW, Michael Kugelman, a South Asia expert at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, says there's good reason to believe there could be Indian extremists in Afghanistan.
DW: Not much is known about the activities of Indian militants in Afghanistan. What can you tell us about it?
Michael Kugelman: I think the broader question is why Afghanistan is becoming so attractive to extremists on the whole. Over the last few years there has been an influx of extremists from around the broader region - the militant network in Afghanistan is much more diverse and international than merely the Taliban and al Qaeda. Clearly what appeals to extremists about Afghanistan is its growing swath of lawless and hard-to-navigate territory, which provides ideal conditions for sanctuaries. These are conditions that appeal to extremists of all types, whether we're talking about Indian militants, jihadists from Central Asia, or Arab fighters from the Middle East.
This is one of the few cases, if not the first, in which Indian extremists have been killed in Afghanistan. Are Indian militants active across Afghanistan?
There's reason to believe that al Qaeda, and particularly AQIS - al Qaeda's South Asian regional affiliate - could feature some Indian nationals. Let's not forget that the supreme leader of AQIS is widely believed to be an Indian. Al Qaeda, despite claims to the contrary, remains a serious threat in Afghanistan and the surrounding region.
Also, based on recent history, there's good reason to believe there could be Indian extremists in Afghanistan. Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT) has had a presence in Afghanistan, and for quite some time LeT partnered closely with Indian Mujahideen, an al Qaeda-aligned Indian terror group, which has since been decimated.
The bottom line is that given the types of terror groups that have operated in Afghanistan, both past and present, there's reason to believe that there could be some Indians among them.
Are Indian PM Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalistic policies pushing some Indian Muslims toward extremist groups in Afghanistan?
It's true that Indian Muslims have faced new and growing challenges of discrimination and marginalization in India, though it's doubtful this has had a radicalizing effect and led some to join IS. I think it's highly unlikely that radicalized young Indian Muslims are gravitating to IS en masse, though one can't discount the possibility that if current conditions remain in place, you may eventually have this dynamic play out, albeit on a...
North Korea crisis - South Korea remains relaxed
- Created on 19 April 2017
Events affecting the Korean Peninsula over the past couple of weeks have led many media outlets to make dramatic comparisons. For instance, the "New York Times" said they reminded of the Cuban crisis in the early 1960s, when the world community narrowly evaded a nuclear showdown between the US and the Soviet Union.
On its title page last Tuesday, "The Korea Herald" asked: "How likely is another Korean War?"
But South Koreans so far appear to receive these reports with a sense of calmness. An aura of normality pervades the vibrant city center of South Korea's capital Seoul.
The bustling metropolis would be a key target for North Korean artillery in the event of a war.
"Just because North Korea is engaged in some stupidity again doesn't mean that we should let our lives be determined by it," says 23-year-old Kim Eun-jeong, a student of English literature.
She is aware of the experiences of her mother, who in the early 1990s stocked up on rice for fear of a possible war. But Kim herself has never taken the issue seriously and made preparations for the worst case scenario. "Sometimes my friends joke that they would flee abroad if a war broke out, but they don't really mean it."
Since tensions in the region began to rise, North Korea has been the staple of coverage in the South Korean press.
"For the old generation that witnessed the Korean War, North Korea still embodies the absolute evil," says a former editor at "Joongang Ilbo," an influential newspaper.
"But the youths have never faced such an emergency situation and their thinking is probably also a bit naïve."
For outsiders, this is a hard-to-comprehend contradiction: the South Korean people, who would probably suffer the most in case of an escalation into a warlike situation with the North, have so far reacted with composure.
Last Saturday, when Pyongyang boasted its military might by parading soldiers, tanks and missiles on the occasion of the 105th anniversary of the reclusive regime's founder Kim Il Sung, the most discussed topic in the South was the concert of the British rock band Coldplay.
North Korea recently boasted its military might by parading soldiers, tanks and missiles on the occasion of the 105th anniversary of its founder Kim Il Sung
Brian Myers, a North Korea expert, describes it as "fatalistic ignorance." Since the danger posed by the North has been omnipresent for decades, people have become used to being in a state of constant alarm, Myers explained. But that is only part of the story.
The North Korean crisis is also a crisis of the media. A report recently published by American broadcast network NBC News served as a catalyst for the general war hysteria, by saying that the US was prepared to launch a preemptive strike against North Korea should officials become convinced that Pyongyang was about to carry out a nuclear weapons test.
The report was entirely based on statements from anonymous sources and...