August 09, 2016
The sign reads â€œHainler MezarliÄŸi."
There is a small patch of earth behind it, surrounded by a low wall and land covered in stones as if it were part of a quarry. Hainler MezarliÄŸi means â€œcemetery of traitorsâ€ in Turkish.
This scene is not a picture taken from a history book or a part of a historical film set in the Middle Ages. It is the cemetery in Pendik, a suburb of Istanbul, and it is the summer of 2016. If Mayor Kadir TopbaÅŸ had his way, everyone who took part in attempting to overthrow the government during the night of July 16 would be buried here. Several graves have been dug and one alleged supporter of the coup has already been buried here as one can see by the mound of dirt that rises just above the ground.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan had made it very clear to the imams of Turkey, after all, that rebels would not receive Muslim burials.
Now the scene shifts to Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, a small town in Normandy, France. Two men have murdered an 85-year-old priest with a knife while he celebrated mass in his church. The local Muslim community refuses to bury the 19-year-old terrorists. Neither the local imam nor the chairman of the Muslim Council of Normandy wants to take part in the funeral.
Back in May 2013, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who with his brother had planned and executed a deadly attack on the Boston Marathon, was buried in a small Muslim cemetery in the U.S. state of Virginia. Local authorities as well as the Tsarnaev family searched for more than a month to find a cemetery willing to bury Tamerlan.
How is a society supposed to deal with the dead who caused so much suffering to its people?
This is the question that the southern German state of Bavaria now faces. The bodies of the terrorists who carried out recent attacks in both Ansbach and Würzburg have not been released by the investigating authorities as of yet, but it has already become clear that the funeral of these two young men poses a challenge for both the authorities and society in general.
Würzburgâ€™s district administration, for example, has yet to decide what shall be done with the body of a young refugee who used an axe to attack and severely injure passengers on a train and was subsequently shot dead by police. â€œIt may be assumed that the local administration of the attacker's place of residence is responsible in the first instance," said a spokeswoman from the Würzburg district administration. "But we have to yet establish if this is also the case if the deceased is Muslim.â€
But what shall be done if Muslim communities refuse to bury suicidal terrorists, as has happened France and the U.S.? â€œIn general, a Muslim should get a Muslim burial,â€ says Aiman Mazyek, chairman of the Central Muslim Committee of Germany. â€œBut theologically speaking an imam or his community has no obligation or duty to take part in a funeral.â€
The rituals, he explains, are simple, and a terroristâ€™s family members could perform them on their own. But finding a community willing to provide a place of burial is another matter.
Mazyek understands the reactions of people in France and the U.S. â€œThe communities are trying to distance themselves from these people because they feel repulsed by their actions," he said. "But human dignity is inviolable, no matter the individualâ€™s actions. Everyone has the right to a decent burial.â€
Mazyek explains that the function of a burial is not to anticipate Godâ€™s wrath. â€œThrough the burial we surrender the body to the highest of judges.â€ How to deal with such situations is a decision for each community, which is what the Central Committee of Muslims told the Bavarian authorities.
One thing is for certain: the local authorities should take care not to bury the terrorists too close to the family plots of any victims.
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Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger
October 21, 2021
Welcome to Thursday, where leaked documents show how some countries are lobbying to change a key report on climate change, Moscow announces new full lockdown and the world's first robot artist is arrested over spying allegations. Meanwhile, German daily Die Welt looks at the rapprochement between two leaders currently at odds with Europe: UK's BoJo and Turkey's Erdogan.[*Bodo - India, Nepal and Bengal]
🌎 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
• Documents reveal countries lobbying against climate action: Leaked documents have revealed that some of the world's biggest fossil fuel and meat producing countries, including Australia, Japan and Saudi Arabia, are trying to water down a UN scientific report on climate change and pushing back on its recommendations for action, less than one month before the COP26 climate summit.
• COVID update: The city of Moscow plans to reintroduce lockdown measures next week, closing nearly all shops, bars and restaurants, after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a nationwide seven-day workplace shutdown from Oct. 30 to combat the country's record surge in coronavirus cases and deaths. Meanwhile, India has crossed the 1 billion vaccinations milestone.
• India and Nepal floods death toll passes 180: Devastating floods in Nepal and the two Indian states of Uttarakhand and Kerala have killed at least 180 people, following record-breaking rainfall.
• Barbados elects first ever president: Governor general Dame Sandra Mason has been elected as Barbados' first president as the Caribbean island prepares to become a republic after voting to remove Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.
• Trump to launch social media platform: After being banned from several social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter, former U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would launch his own app called TRUTH Social in a bid "to fight back against Big Tech." The app is scheduled for release early next year.
• Human remains found in hunt for Gabby Petito's fiance: Suspected human remains and items belonging to Brian Laundrie were found in a Florida park, more than one month after his disappearance. Laundrie was a person of interest in the murder of his fiancee Gabby Petito, who was found dead by strangulation last month.
• Artist robot detained in Egypt over spying fear: Ai-Da, the world's ultra-realistic robot artist, was detained for 10 days by authorities in Egypt where it was due to present its latest art works, over fears the robot was part of an espionage plot. Ai-Da was eventually cleared through customs, hours before the exhibition was due to start.
🗞️ FRONT PAGE
"Nine crimes and a tragedy," titles Brazilian daily Extra, after a report from Brazil's Senate concluded that President Jair Bolsonaro and his government had failed to act quickly to stop the deadly coronavirus pandemic, accusing them of crimes against humanity.
📰 STORY OF THE DAY
Erdogan and Boris Johnson: A new global power duo?
As Turkey fears the EU closing ranks over defense, Turkish President Erdogan is looking to Boris Johnson as a post-Brexit ally, especially as Angela Merkel steps aside. This could undermine the deal where Ankara limits refugee entry into Europe, and other dossiers too, write Carolina Drüten and Gregor Schwung in German daily Die Welt.
🇹🇷🇬🇧 According to the Elysée Palace, the French presidency "can't understand" why Turkey would overreact, since the defense pact that France recently signed in Paris with Greece is not aimed at Ankara. Although Paris denies this, it is difficult to see the agreement as anything other than a message, perhaps even a provocation, targeted at Turkey. The country has long felt left out in the cold, at odds with the European Union over a number of issues. Yet now President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is setting his sights on another country, which also wants to become more independent from Europe: the UK.
⚠️ Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel always argued for closer collaboration with Turkey. She never supported French President Emmanuel Macron's ideas about greater strategic autonomy for countries within the EU. But now that she's leaving office, Macron is keen to make the most of the power vacuum Merkel will leave behind. The prospect of France's growing influence is "not especially good news for Turkey," says Ian Lesser, vice president of the think tank German Marshall Fund.
🤝 At the UN summit in September, Erdogan had a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the recently opened Turkish House in New York. Kalin says it was a "very good meeting" and that the two countries are "closely allied strategic partners." He says they plan to work together more closely on trade, but with a particular focus on defense. The groundwork for collaboration was already in place. Britain consistently supported Turkey's ambition to join the EU, and gave an ultimate proof of friendship after the failed coup in 2016.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
"He has fought tirelessly against the corruption of Vladimir Putin's regime. This cost him his liberty and nearly his life."
— David Sassoli, president of the European Parliament, wrote on Twitter, following the announcement that imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was awarded the 2021 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the European Union's highest tribute to human rights defenders. Navalny, who survived a poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin, is praised for his "immense personal bravery" in fighting Putin's regime. The European Parliament called for his immediate release from jail, as Russian authorities opened a new criminal case against the activist that could see him stay in jail for another decade.
Chinese video platform Youku is under fire after announcing it is launching a new variety show called in Mandarin Squid's Victory (Yóuyú de shènglì) on social media, through a poster that also bears striking similarities with the visual identity of Netflix's current South Korean hit series Squid Game. Youku apologized by saying it was just a "draft" poster.
✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger
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