After a week-long advertising blitz, Jordan abruptly canceled plans Saturday to broadcast a soap opera about Afghanistan after an Internet threat to "strike" everyone from actors to TV executives if the show portrayed the Taliban in a negative light. \nThe Dubai-based Middle East Broadcasting Corporation, however, went ahead with its scheduled programming and aired the soap opera's second episode Saturday night. \nThe series, al-Tareeq ila Kabul -- Arabic for "the Road to Kabul'' -- chronicles life under Afghanistan's former Taliban rulers, and was to be aired during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which began Friday in most Muslim countries. \nJordanian television stations had promised the series would begin in the early days of Ramadan, but on Thursday -- the day the threat appeared -- officials said the broadcast might be postponed for a few days because of technical problems. On Saturday, they canceled plans to show it. \nThe broadcast was "suspended indefinitely upon a request from its producer, the Qatari television," Abdul-Halim Araibyat, director general of the state Jordan Radio and Television Corp, said. \nHe said Jordan's decision to suspend the show was due only to the Qatari request, and not to the threat. He didn't know why the producers asked for the suspension, and phones rang unanswered at Qatari television. \nMBC, which began broadcasting the soap opera on Friday, aired the second episode Saturday night. No other Arabic television stations commented on the Qatari request. \nThe threat appeared Thursday on a Web site known as a clearinghouse for Muslim militant statements. Its authenticity could not be independently verified. \n"We swear to the great God that if we see in the series anything other than the honorable reality of the Taliban ... we will assault all those who participated in this sullied malice," the statement read. \n"We direct our strong warning to all who participated in producing this series, whether an actor, producer or cameraman," the statement added. \nTalal Adnan al-Awamleh, owner of the Jordanian firm that produced the series, said it was filmed mainly in Jordan and most of the cast was Jordanian. But he said Jordan didn't take it off the air. \n"Jordan is not responsible for suspending the broadcast. It's the Qataris who have issued a statement to all the stations that bought it, asking them to suspend broadcast on unspecified technical and information grounds," he said.
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
An Australian graduate student arrested for spying and expelled from North Korea last year said that he was threatened with a firing-squad execution and told not even US President Donald Trump could save his “sorry arse.” Among the crimes Alek Sigley was accused of committing was posting a picture of a toy tank on Instagram, which his interrogators told him was military espionage. Sigley, 30, was studying for a master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang when he went missing in June last year, sparking alarm. A fluent speaker of Korean, he had written articles for several publications