Posts Tagged ‘state of emergency’

Turkey extends detention of activists, Amnesty International says — Swedish lawmakers file ‘genocide’ complaint against Turkey’s Erdogan

July 11, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | There are fears of declining freedom of expression under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

ANKARA (AFP) – Turkey has extended for up to a week the detention of the country director of Amnesty International and nine other people held in a controversial police raid, the UK-based rights group said Tuesday.

Idil Eser, director of Amnesty International Turkey, was detained on July 5 along with seven other activists and two foreign trainers during a digital security and information management workshop on Buyukada, an island south of Istanbul.

Their detention caused international alarm and amplified fears of declining freedom of expression under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The police detention will now last until July 19, Amnesty’s Turkey researcher Andrew Gardner told AFP.

They then must appear before a judge who rules whether they should be formally charged and placed under arrest ahead of trial.

Eight of those detained are Turkish human rights defenders, including Ilknur Ustun of the Women’s Coalition and Veli Acu of the Human Rights Agenda Association.

Two are foreign trainers — a German and a Swedish national — who were leading the digital information workshop.

They are accused of membership of an “armed terrorist organisation”, an allegation Amnesty said was “unfounded”.

But it is not clear which organisation they are accused of belonging to, Gardner said.

The extension is allowed under the state of emergency imposed after last year’s failed coup.

A prosecutor can extend the detention of an individual held on terror-related charges for up to seven days. Previously, the maximum number of days of pre-charge detention was four.

Gardner argued the first part of their detention was illegal because they were denied access to lawyers for 24 hours, could not contact family members where they were and authorities refused to give their location.

“For them to be entering a second week in police cells is a shocking indictment of the ruthless treatment of those who attempt to stand up for human rights in Turkey,” Amnesty’s Europe director John Dalhuisen said.

Erdogan compared the activists to coup plotters, saying they were trying to fulfil the aims of those involved in the July 15 coup bid.

“They gathered for a meeting which was a continuation of July 15,” he said on Saturday.

Last month, Amnesty International’s Turkey chair Taner Kilic was arrested, accused of links to US-based Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of ordering last year’s failed coup.

Amnesty also dismissed those charges as “baseless”.

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Swedish lawmakers file ‘genocide’ complaint against Turkey’s Erdogan

Posted on July 11, 2017

STOCKHOLM,— A group of Swedish lawmakers said Monday they have filed a legal complaint accusing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Kurdish southeast of his country.

The complaint signed by five lawmakers from the Left and Green parties is the first of its kind in Sweden against a head of state.

The suit relates to the conflict in Turkey’s Kurdish region in the country’s southeast [Turkish Kurdistan], which has been battered by renewed fighting between Kurdish rebels and Turkish security forces since a fragile truce collapsed in 2015.

“We are five lawmakers handing in a complaint… (requesting) punishment for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes,” Annika Lillemets, a MP for the Left party, told a news conference in Stockholm.

The complaint, filed to the Swedish International Public Prosecution Offices, names Erdogan and several ministers including Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

A Swedish law adopted in 2014 allows the country’s courts to judge cases of alleged crimes against humanity regardless of where they have been committed or by whom.

The law stipulates that “anyone, who in order to completely or partially destroy a national or ethnic group of people” kills, causes serious pain or injury is “guilty of genocide”.

The Public Prosecution Offices said it would now decide whether to initiate a preliminary investigation, adding that “it may take a while”.

If prosecutors decide to launch an investigation, Erdogan could risk an arrest warrant in Sweden, the lawmakers said.

Carl Schlyter, an MP for the Greens, said he hoped other lawmakers in European countries would follow their move.

“If (Erdogan) is hindered from roaming around in Europe and influencing European countries the way he wants, then I hope that this will affect his politics,” he said.

Since July 2015, Turkey initiated a controversial military campaign against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party PKK in the country’s southeastern Kurdish region after Ankara ended a two-year ceasefire agreement. Since the beginning of the campaign, Ankara has imposed several round-the-clock curfews, preventing civilians from fleeing regions where the military operations are being conducted.

Activists have accused the Turkish security forces of causing huge destruction to urban centres and killing Kurdish civilians.

Observers say the crackdown has taken a heavy toll on the Kurdish civilian population and accuse Turkey of using collective punishment against the minority. Activists have accused the security forces of causing huge destruction to urban centres and killing Kurdish civilians.

In March 2017, the Turkish security forces accused by UN of committing serious abuses during operations against Kurdish militants in the nation’s southeast.

The UN Human Rights Office in March released a report on allegations of “massive destruction, killings and numerous other serious human rights violations committed” between July 2015 and December 2016 in Turkey’s southeast.

The PKK took up arms in 1984 against the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to push for greater autonomy for the Kurdish minority who make up around 22.5 million of the country’s 79-million population.

More than 40,000 Turkish soldiers and Kurdish rebels, have been killed in the conflict.

A large Kurdish community in Turkey and worldwide openly sympathise with PKK rebels and Abdullah Ocalan, who founded the PKK group in 1974, and has a high symbolic value for most Kurds in Turkey and worldwide according to observers.

http://ekurd.net/swedish-genocide-erdogan-kurds-2017-07-11

Turkey is sliding into dictatorship

April 16, 2017

 Image may contain: 1 person, standing
Recep Tayyip Erdogan is carrying out the harshest crackdown in decades. The West must not abandon Turkey

Apr 15th 2017

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TURKEY matters not just for its size, but also as a bellwether of the political forces shaping the world. For centuries it was the seat of a great empire. Today, as a frontier state, it must cope with the violence spewing out of war-ravaged Syria; it is atest case of whether democracy can be reconciled with political Islam; and it must navigate between Western liberalism and the authoritarian nationalism epitomised by Russia. In recent years under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has gone backwards. This weekend it can begin to put that right.

On April 16th Turks will vote in a referendum over whether to abandon their parliamentary system for an executive presidency. A Yes is likely, but far from certain. There is nothing wrong with a strong president, but Turkey’s new constitution goes too far. The country would end up with a 21st-century sultan minimally curbed by parliament (see Briefing). A Yes would condemn Turkey to the elected dictatorship of President Erdogan. A No might just let Turks constrain him.

Authority figure

After Mr Erdogan came to power in 2003, he and his AK party did a lot that was good. Encouraged by the IMF, he tamed inflation and ushered in economic growth. Encouraged by the EU, he tackled the cabal of military officers and bureaucrats in the “deep state”, strengthened civil liberties and talked peace with the Kurds. He also spoke up for working-class religious conservatives, who had been locked out of power for decades.

But today Turkey is beset by problems. In the shadow of the Syrian civil war, jihadists and Kurdish militants are waging campaigns against the state. Last summer the army attempted a coup—probably organised by supporters of an American-based cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who had penetrated the bureaucracy, judiciary and army in their tens of thousands. The economy, once a strength, is growing slowly, plagued by cronyism, poor management and a collapse in tourism.

Mr Erdogan argues that, to put this right, Turkey needs a new constitution that will generate political stability. He says that only a strong president can galvanise the state and see off its enemies. Naturally, he is talking about himself.

The new constitution embodies the “illiberal democracy” of nationalists such as Viktor Orban of Hungary and Vladimir Putin of Russia, to whom Mr Erdogan is increasingly compared. On this view, election winners take all, constraints are obstacles to strong government and the ruling party has a right to subvert institutions, such as the judiciary and the press.

Yet this kind of stability is hollow. The most successful democracies make a point of separating powers and slowing governments down. The guiding idea of the American constitution is to stop presidents from acting as if they were monarchs, by building in checks and balances. Even the British prime minister, untrammelled by a written constitution, has to submit herself to the courts, a merciless press and a weekly grilling in Parliament, broadcast live.

Turkey is especially ill-suited to winner-takes-all government. It is divided between secular, religious and nationalist citizens, as well as Turks, Kurds, Alevis and a few remaining Greeks, Armenians and Jews. If the religious-conservative near-majority try to shut out everyone else, just as they were once shut out, Turkey will never be stable.

But the most important argument against majoritarian politics is Mr Erdogan himself. Since the failed coup, he has been governing under a state of emergency that demonstrates how cruelly power can be abused.

The state is entitled to protect its citizens, especially in the face of political violence. But Mr Erdogan has gone far beyond what is reasonable. Roughly 50,000 people have been arrested; 100,000 more have been sacked. Only a fraction of them were involved in the coup. Anyone Mr Erdogan sees as a threat is vulnerable: ordinary folk who went to a Gulenist school or saved with a Gulenist bank; academics, journalists and politicians who betray any sympathy for the Kurdish cause; anybody, including children, who mocks the president on social media. Whatever the result on April 16th, Mr Erdogan will remain in charge, free to use—and abuse—his emergency powers.

During the campaign he accused the Germans and Dutch of “Nazi practices” for stopping his ministers from pitching for expatriate votes. EU voices want to suspend accession talks—which, in any case, are moribund. Before long, the talk may even turn to sanctions. Some in the West will point to Turkey’s experience to claim that Islam and democracy cannot coexist. But to give up on that idea would be to give up on Turkey itself.

The fault is not so much with political Islam—many AK members and voters are uneasy with the new constitution. It is with Mr Erdogan and his inner circle. Although he is a religious man, he is better seen as an old-fashioned authoritarian than as a new-fangled Islamist. The distinction matters because AK, or an Islamist party like it, is bound to feature in Turkey’s democracy. Mr Erdogan, however, will one day leave the stage, taking his authoritarian instincts with him.

Hold him close

Hence the outside world should not give up on Turkey, but be patient. Partly, this is self-interest. As a NATO member and a regional power, Turkey is too important to cut adrift. It will play a vital part in any peace in Syria. Driving it into Russia’s arms makes no sense. Turkey has also been a conduit for refugees into the EU as well as vital in controlling their inflow. The refugee situation is in flux: the EU will need to keep talking to Turkey about how to cope with the resulting instability.

Engagement is also in Turkey’s interests. The EU is its biggest trading partner. Contact with it bolsters the Western-leaning Turks who are likely to be Mr Erdogan’s most potent opposition. NATO membership can moderate the next generation of officers in its armed forces. Although Turkey will not join the EU for many years, if ever, a looser EU, with several classes of member or associate country, might one day find room for it.

Turkey will remain pivotal after April 16th. If Mr Erdogan loses, Turkey will be a difficult ally with a difficult future. But if he wins, he will be able to govern as an elected dictator.

This article appeared in the Leaders section of the print edition under the headline “The slide into dictatorship”

 http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21720590-recep-tayyip-erdogan-carrying-out-harshest-crackdown-decades-west-must-not-abandon?fsrc=scn/tw/te/rfd/pe

Egypt’s Coptic Christians to celebrate Easter Mass amid heavy security after twin bombings last week — Christians in Koum el-Loufy were attacked by Muslims on Friday

April 15, 2017

AFP

© MOHAMED EL-SHAHED / AFP | A general view shows the Monastery of Marmina in the city of Borg El-Arab, east of Alexandria on April 10, 2017.

Egyptian Copts will celebrate Easter mass on Saturday, marking one of Christianity’s most joyous occasions just days after the deadliest attacks in living memory against the country’s religious minority.

The faithful will spend a large part of Easter eve going through arduous security checks outside places of worship, after twin Palm Sunday bombings killed 45 people in two cities north of Cairo.

The government has declared a state of emergency and called in the army to protect “vital” installations following the suicide bombings in Tanta and Alexandria, which were claimed by the Islamic State group.

“Security has indeed improved so much as it seems the situation needed to be tightened up a lot,” said Coptic Church spokesman Boulos Halim.

Coptic Pope Tawadros II will lead Easter mass in Cairo’s Saint Mark’s Cathedral, while the church said celebrations this year would be scaled back.

“Tanta and Alexandria created a big shock, for all of Egypt,” Halim said.

Easter, which along with Christmas is one of Christianity’s most important events, marks the resurrection of Christ three days after followers believe he was crucified.

In Egypt, Copts break a 55-day fast abstaining from all animal products following Saturday’s mass.

The Sunday bombings were the latest in a series of attacks against Egypt’s Copts, which make up around 10 percent of the population.

In December, an IS suicide bomber struck a Cairo church, killing 29 people.

Halim said the church will forgo Sunday morning’s traditional celebrations, and instead members will visit the families of “martyrs” as well as those wounded in the blasts, including police officers.

“Even if we are in pain over them parting their bodies… the happiness of resurrection helps us overcome feelings of pain,” said Halim.

Further attacks feared

IS, which has waged an insurgency in the north of the Sinai Peninsula that has seen scores of attacks on security forces, has issued repeated calls for atrocities against Copts.

One Copt who gave his name only as John said he will attend Easter mass despite the heightened security risk.

He plans to go to a church in the relative safety of the capital, but admitted “if I were somewhere else outside of Cairo, like a village, I would not want my relatives to go and I would be worried about attending”.

In a village south of Cairo, some Christians were reportedly prevented from holding Good Friday prayers, and police deployed to prevent further unrest.

Christians in Koum el-Loufy were attacked by Muslims after they tried to pray in an abandoned home on Thursday, after which a mob set fire to four homes nearby, according to police officials.

While the village boasts several mosques, Christians there have been prevented from building a church, Ishak Ibrahim, a researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights told AFP.

“Probably they won’t be able to pray on Saturday either,” said Ibrahim.

“There is a general climate where Copts are being persecuted and unfortunately the state just tries to stop violence from spreading, they don’t solve the root cause of the problem.”

(AFP)

Date created : 2017-04-15

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© AFP / by Tony Gamal-Gabriel | Mourners pray next to coffins of the victims of the blast at the Coptic Christian Saint Mark’s church the previous day during a funeral procession east of Alexandria on April 10, 2017

© Mohamed El-Shahed / AFP (file photo) | Members of the Egyptian police special forces stand guard on Cairo’s landmark Tahrir Square on January 25, 2016.

Relatives of a Christian woman who was killed in the bombing of Cairo's main Coptic cathedral carry her casked in Cairo on Monday.
Relatives of a Christian woman who was killed in the bombing of Cairo’s main Coptic cathedral carry her casked in Cairo on December 14, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS
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Members of the special police forces stand guard to secure the area around St. Mark"s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral after an explosion inside the cathedral in Cairo

The building bombed in December 2016 is next to St Mark’s Coptic Cathedral, seat of the church’s pope. Reuters Photo

A Christian employee at Cairo's Coptic Cathedral checks for damage from the blast after an explosion inside the cathedral in Cairo

The interior of the church, where Christians had gathered, was also hit in the explosion. AP photo

Image result for Reina nightclub attack, photos

Islamist gunman Abdulgadir Masharipov killed 39 people  in the Reina nightclub shooting on January 1, 2017, in Istanbul. © Dogan News Agency/AFP/File

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David Dosha, the priest of the Church of Mart Shmoni, located in the Christian Iraqi town of Bartella. (Safin Hamed/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

An Iraqi Christian forces member lights a candle at the Church of the Immaculate Conception on October 30, 2016 in the town of Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya), 30 kms east of Mosul, after Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. (AFP/ SAFIN HAMED)
An Iraqi Christian forces member lights a candle at the Church of the Immaculate Conception on October 30, 2016 in the town of Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya), 30 kms east of Mosul, after Iraqi forces recaptured it from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. (AFP/ SAFIN HAMED)
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26 July 2016
A photo of Priest Jacques Hamel taken from the website of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray parish84 year-old Father Jacques Hamel was giving morning Mass when the Islamist attackers stormed his church. AFP

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The Isis jihadist group

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi juggles insurgency, economy — Christians under attack

April 13, 2017

The Egyptian leader needs to manage these tasks while fending off criticism of human rights violations and growing authoritarianism — all with an eye to presidential elections due in 14 months.

One thing he has going for el-Sissi — he hopes — is strong support from U.S. President Donald Trump. He received a warm welcome from Trump in Washington last week.

One thing he has going for el-Sissi — he hopes — is strong support from U.S. President Donald Trump. He received a warm welcome from Trump in Washington last week. (NARIMAN EL-MOFTY / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

CAIRO—The deadly bombings of two churches have left Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi grappling with the question of how to defeat a tenacious Daesh insurgency that three years of warfare have failed to crush.

He’s also trying to repair a broken economy, carrying out tough austerity measures that have won praise from economists but have sent prices soaring.

El-Sissi must juggle these tasks while fending off criticism of human rights violations and growing authoritarianism — all with an eye to presidential elections due in 14 months.

One thing he has going for him — he hopes — is strong support from U.S. President Donald Trump.

El-Sissi received a warm welcome and praise from Trump in Washington last week after being shunned by the Obama administration. The Egyptian leader is believed to have brought a wish list for weapons and hardware for the fight against the militants, including drones and helicopter gunships.

But so far, it is hard to tell if el-Sissi has new answers on fighting the militants after the attacks, in which suicide bombers hit churches in Tanta and Alexandria during Palm Sunday services, killing 45 and wounding dozens. In Tanta, the bomber managed to inside the church before blowing himself up, despite promises of increased security after an IS church bombing in Cairo in December that killed dozens.

There was one new response: The security chief in the Nile Delta province where Tanta is located was fired, an unusually swift and rare show of accountability.

Read more:

Egypt’s Christians bury dead after church bombings

Church bombings in Egypt kill 44, wound 126

Pope Francis denounces deadly Egypt attack in Palm Sunday address

El-Sissi also declared a three-month state of emergency and created a new state council to fight terror and extremism. Army troops were ordered to help police protect vital installations.

But it is unclear how effective these will be. Northern Sinai, where the Daesh, also known as ISIS and ISIL, militants are centred, has already been under a state of emergency for several years. In the rest of Egypt, security forces already informally wield broad powers of arrest — the new status enshrines those powers and is likely to fuel human rights criticism.

The state council will be made up of Cabinet ministers, heads of state institutions, experts and public figures — a body that could bring new ideas to the fight or could prove an unwieldy talk shop that becomes irrelevant.

Visibly angry, El-Sissi said in televised comments that Egyptians must stay united. He also renewed familiar pleas: Religious discourse must be moderated and the media must safeguard the nation’s interests.

An adapting insurgency

The security forces have largely succeeded in keeping the insurgency contained in northern Sinai, away from the heavily populated Nile Valley. Thousands of troops backed by tanks, fighter jets and helicopter gunships have been deployed in the area bordering Israel and Gaza.

But the militants are adapting and finding new ways of hitting back, shattering frequent claims in the pro-government media that the insurgency is on its last legs.

Though the militants have been unable to control territory, they carry out sudden attacks in north Sinai towns to show they can operate with relative impunity. They have shifted from suicide car bombings against security forces and instead have grown more effective at planting roadside bombs.

The security forces meanwhile are left with little or no actionable intelligence from informers, a vital component of counterterrorism. That is in part because they are believed to have lost much of the goodwill of the local population because of tactics like collective punishment, indiscriminate shelling and random arrests.

Also, the militants have succeeded in instilling fear among residents, sending the message that any person, tribe or clan that works with the security forces faces death. In the main northern Sinai city of el-Arish, Daesh fighters have brought suspected informers into the streets and killed them. They have assassinated critical Muslim clerics.

Attacks on Christians

Daesh has made clear Christians are now a target. A series of killings of Christians in north Sinai sent members of the minority community fleeing across the Suez Canal to the city of Ismailia for refuge.

The aim appears to be in part to embarrass el-Sissi by exposing holes in security. The church bombings show that Daesh has been able to plant small cells of fighters in Egypt’s heartland, a scenario that could prove disastrous for the country’s stability and economic prospects.

They also stoke political tensions. Christians have been strong backers of el-Sissi since, as army chief, he ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013. The attacks push the community more toward the president but also stoke anger among Christians that the government is not doing enough to protect them.

The economy

The bombings and the ensuing state of emergency only further undermine efforts to revive Egypt’s tourism industry — an engine of economic growth that has been severely damaged by the turmoil of recent years.

El-Sissi has sought to dismantle a decades-old contract that allowed Egyptians to buy cheap food items, fuel and a range of services in return for their loyalty. He knew the serious risks, particularly the potential for popular unrest, but still went ahead — a show of courage that his predecessors always balked at.

Fuel subsidies have been partially lifted and charges were hiked on electricity and water. Late last year, he took the boldest step, launching harsh austerity measures in return for a vital $12 billion (U.S.) loan from the IMF. The Egyptian pound was floated, sending its value tumbling.

Prices skyrocketed, with inflation leaping to around 30 per cent in February and March. Millions of Egyptians have seen their household budgets strained to the breaking point.

There was no street unrest, either out of fear of a brutal police response, public fatigue or a wish to give the still-popular president the benefit of the doubt. There have been improvements in some economic indicators, particularly a growth in vital foreign currency reserves.

But the benefits largely have not reached the public, and further austerity measures are expected, including reported hikes in electricity prices in the summer.

Related:

What changes under Turkey’s new constitution plan

April 12, 2017

AFP

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© AFP/File | Turkey is to vote on granting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expanded powers in a landmark referendum on a new constitution

ISTANBUL (AFP) – Turkey on Sunday votes in a landmark referendum on a new constitution that would grant President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expanded powers.While critics say the move is part of a grab by Erdogan for one-man rule, supporters say it will simply put Turkey in line with France and the United States and is needed for efficient government.

The current constitution was adopted in 1982 after the 1980 military coup.

Erdogan has denounced as “lies” claims by opponents that parliament would be neutralised and the judiciary would come under his political authority.

What would change under the proposed 18-article constitution for the nation of 79 million people?

– More powers for Erdogan –

Under the new constitution, the president would have strengthened executive powers to directly appoint top public officials including ministers.

The president would also be able to assign one or several vice presidents. The office and position of prime minister, currently held by Binali Yildirim, would be scrapped.

The changes would implement a shake-up in the judiciary, which Erdogan has accused of being influenced by supporters of his ally-turned-foe, the Pennsylvania-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen.

Gulen is blamed for the July failed coup but denies the government’s accusations.

The president and parliament would together be able to choose four members of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), a key judicial council that appoints and removes personnel in the judiciary.

Parliament would choose seven members on its own in what would be renamed the Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK).

Military courts, which have convicted officers and even sentenced former prime minister Adnan Menderes to death following the 1960 coup, would in the future not be allowed.

– Longer state of emergency –

Under the proposed constitution, a state of emergency would be imposed in the event of an “uprising against the homeland” or “acts of violence which put the nation in… danger of being divided”.

The president would decide whether or not to impose a state of emergency and then present it to the parliament.

Initially the emergency would last six months — as opposed to three now — then it can be extended by parliament after a presidential request for four months each time.

Turkey has twice extended the current state of emergency imposed after the failed July 15 coup.

– Erdogan can rejoin AKP –

The number of members of the Turkish parliament would rise from 550 to 600. The minimum age limit for MPs would also be lowered from 25 to 18.

Legislative elections would take place once every five years — instead of four — and on the same day as the presidential elections.

The parliament would still have power to enact, modify and remove legislation. If the president were accused or suspected of a crime, then parliament could request an investigation.

The president will also have to be a Turkish citizen at least 40 years old, and can be a member of a political party.

Currently the president must be impartial and without party favour, although opponents have accused Erdogan of blatantly flouting this.

The change would again allow Erdogan to become leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that he co-founded.

– Erdogan in power to 2029? –

The proposed constitution states that the next presidential and parliamentary elections are to be held simultaneously on November 3, 2019.

The president would have a five-year term with a maximum of two mandates.

Erdogan was elected president in August 2014 after over a decade as prime minister, in the first ever direct elections for a Turkish head of state.

But with the clock wound back under the new system, the changes would mean that Erdogan could stay in power for another two terms until 2029.

Orly airport attacker ‘had been drinking, taking drugs’, autopsy reveals — “He never prayed, and he drank.”

March 20, 2017

AFP

© THOMAS SAMSON / AFP | Police officers investigate at the house of the suspect of an attack at the Paris Orly’s airport, on March 18, 2017, in Garges-les-Gonesse.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-03-20

The man shot dead at Paris’s Orly airport after attacking a soldier was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time, a judicial source said Sunday.

Investigators are still trying to understand what motivated Saturday’s assault by 39-year-old Ziyed Ben Belgacem, which led to a major security scare and the temporary closure of the capital’s second-busiest airport.

“Toxicology tests carried out on Sunday showed an alcohol level of 0.93 grams per litre in his blood, and the presence of cannabis and cocaine,” the source said.

Ben Belgacem’s father had insisted earlier Sunday that his son was “not a terrorist” and that his actions were caused by drink and drugs.

Ben Belgacem, who was born in France to Tunisian parents, grabbed a soldier on patrol at Orly’s southern terminal on Saturday morning. He put a gun to her head and seized her rifle, saying he wanted to “die for Allah”.

The attacker, who had also fired at police in a northern Paris suburb earlier that morning, was shot dead by two other soldiers after a scuffle.

Ben Belgacem’s father insisted his son — who had spent time in prison for armed robbery and drug-dealing — was not a extremist.

“My son was not a terrorist. He never prayed, and he drank,” the father, who was in shock and whose first name was not given, told Europe 1 radio.

Investigators were examining his telephone.

The attack at Orly comes with France still on high alert following a wave of jihadist attacks that have claimed more than 230 lives in two years.

The violence has made security a key issue in France’s two-round presidential election on April 23 and May 7.

Not on terror watchlist

Ben Belgacem’s brother and cousin were released Sunday after they, like the attacker’s father, were held for questioning. All three had approached police themselves on Saturday after the attack.

After spending Friday night in a bar with his cousin, Ben Belgacem was pulled over by police for speeding in the gritty northern Paris suburb of Garges-les-Gonesse, where he lived, just before 7:00 am.

He drew a gun and fired, slightly injuring one officer. Shortly after, he contacted his relatives to tell them he had “done something stupid”, they told police.

Ben Belgacem later appeared at the bar where he had been the previous night, firing more shots and stealing another car before continuing on to the airport.

He had been investigated in 2015 over suspicions he had radicalised while serving jail time, but his name did not feature on the list of those thought to pose a high risk.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Ben Belgacem appeared to have become caught up in a “sort of headlong flight that became more and more destructive”.

Dozens of flights to and from Orly were cancelled during an hours-long shutdown after the incident, but by Sunday afternoon air traffic had returned to normal, a spokeswoman for the Paris airports authority said.

The shooting took place on the second day of a visit to Paris by Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate, which was unaffected.

‘I’ve screwed up’

Ben Belgacem’s father told Europe 1 his son had called him after the first police shooting “in a state of extreme agitation”.

“He said to me: ‘Daddy, please forgive me. I’ve screwed up with a police officer’.”

At the time of his death, Ben Belgacem was carrying a petrol can in his backpack, as well as 750 euros ($805) in cash, a copy of the Koran, a packet of cigarettes and a lighter.

A small amount of cocaine and a machete were found during a search of his home on Saturday.

Soldiers guarding key sites have been targeted in four attacks in the past two years but escaped with only minor injuries.

In mid-February, a machete-wielding Egyptian man attacked a soldier outside Paris’s Louvre museum, injuring him slightly, before being shot and wounded.

President Francois Hollande said Saturday his government was “determined to fight relentlessly against terrorism”.

(AFP)

Related:

Paris Attacker Shot At Police on Saturday Morning in Paris, Died In Orly Airport Shooting Hours Later — Radicalized Muslim known to intelligence services

March 18, 2017

PARIS — The man who was shot dead by soldiers at Orly airport on Saturday was the same individual who had shot at security services earlier in the morning in northern Paris and was a radicalized Muslim known to authorities, a police source said.

“A police road check took place in Stains (northern Paris) this morning at 0700. It turned bad and the individual shot at the officers before fleeing,” one police source said.

“This same man – a radicalized Muslim known to intelligence services and the justice system – then took a Famas (assault weapon) from a soldier at Orly’s southern terminal … before being shot dead by a soldier.”

A second police source said the two incidents were linked.

(Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry; Writing by John Irish; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Armed: Three gunmen who attacked the offices of controversial magazine Charlie Hebdo this morning remain on the run this afternoon, causing authorities to heighten security

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Lockdown: The streets of Paris are being patrolled by soldiers dressed in combat fatigues and carrying Famas assault rifles this afternoon after a terror attack killed 12 people earlier in the day

Orly shooting: ‘radicalised Muslim’ killed at Paris airport had shot police officer

March 18, 2017

The Guardian

Police sources say man killed by soldier was earlier involved in incident north of French capital in which policeman was shot and injured

A man said to be a radicalised Muslim known to security services shot a police officer north of Paris before going to Orly airport, where he was shot and killed on Saturday morning.

The man was shot after he tried to grab a soldier’s weapon at the airport, interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said.

“A man took a weapon from a soldier then hid in a shop in the airport before being shot dead by security forces,” he said.

The soldier was part of the Sentinel special force installed around France to protect sensitive sites after a string of deadly Islamic extremist attacks.

Police sources said the same man was also involved in the incident at Stains, north of the French capital, in which a policeman was shot and injured during a road check.

No explosive devices were found on the dead man’s body, Brandet said.

© AFP | French special forces secure the area after a man was shot dead at Paris’ Orly airport, on March 18, 2017

Police evacuated both terminals at Orly and all flights have been suspended, with some diverted to Charles de Gaulle airport. Travellers have been told to avoid the airport while the security operation was under way. Some passengers whose flights had already landed were being held on board.

A witness, Franck Lecam, said: “We had queued up to check in for the Tel Aviv flight when we heard three or four shots nearby. We are all outside the airport, about 200 metres from the entrance.

“There are policemen, emergency workers and soldiers everywhere in all directions. A security official told us that it happened near gates 37-38 where Turkish Airlines flights were scheduled.”

No one else was injured in the Orly incident.

The French interior minister, Bruno Le Roux, is due to visit the airport, south of Paris, later.

The aiport shooting follows after a similar incident last month at the Louvre museum in central Paris.

France remains under a state of emergency in the wake of the attack on the Bataclan music venue in November 2015 in which 90 people were killed by jihadi gunmen, and the Nice truck attack last July that claimed the lives of 84 people and injured hundreds more.

Read the rest:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/18/man-shot-dead-at-paris-airport-after-trying-to-grab-gun-reports-say

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Man shot dead at Paris Orly airport after taking soldier’s gun: official

March 18, 2017

AFP

© AFP | French special forces secure the area after a man was shot dead at Paris’ Orly airport, on March 18, 2017

PARIS (AFP) – Security forces at Paris’ Orly airport on Saturday shot dead a man who took a weapon from a soldier, the interior ministry said, adding that nobody else was hurt in the incident.Witnesses said the airport was evacuated following the shooting at around 8:30am (0730GMT).

“A man took a weapon from a soldier then hid in a shop in the airport before being shot dead by security forces,” an interior ministry spokesman told AFP.

He said no one was wounded in the incident.

Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux is due to visit the facility, which is in Paris’ southern outskirts, the spokesman added.

“We had queued up to check in for the Tel Aviv flight when we heard three or four shots nearby,” witness Franck Lecam said.

“The whole airport has been evacuated,” the 54-year-old said, confirming what an airport worker, speaking on condition of anonymity, had said earlier.

“We are all outside the airport, about 200 metres from the entrance,” Lecam said.

“There are policemen, emergency workers and soldiers everywhere in all directions. A security official told us that it happened near gates 37-38 where Turkish Airlines flights were scheduled.”

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The wreckage of a burnt car in Aulnay-sous-Bois after angry French youths clashed with police over the alleged rape of a local man during his arrest. CREDIT:GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT /AFP/GETTY IMAGES 

The area around the Louvre museum in Paris has been evacuated after a huge security operation was launched this morning

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FRANCE COULD BE READY TO LIFT STATE OF EMERGENCY, SAYS JUSTICE MINISTER

France may be ready to drop its state of emergency, which has been in place since the deadly extremist attacks on Paris in November 2015.

In a speech Wednesday, Minister of Justice Jean-Jacques Urvoas said: “We have created the conditions that make it possible to exit the state of emergency, without weakening ourselves or remaining helpless in the face of the threat of terrorism,” French daily newspaper Le Figaroreports.

The state of emergency has dramatically increased the number and visibility of armed law enforcement officials on patrol across the country and tightened the laws on public assembly.

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting, flower, plant, shoes, table and child

Its implementation proved controversial, with increased raids on Muslim communities in the immediate aftermath of the attacks attracting particular criticism from human rights groups.

Urvoas did not give any final date for returning to a lower state of alert, however it has to be approved on a bi-annual basis. The current extension ends in July – two months after France’s upcoming presidential election.

Paris Orly airport: Man killed after attempt to seize soldier’s gun — Hours after Minister of Justice proposes lifting “State of Emergency”

March 18, 2017

A man has been shot dead after trying to seize a gun from a soldier at Orly airport, French police say. Security officials have evacuated the building and urged visitors to avoid the area.

Image may contain: outdoor

French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said the man ran into a shop inside the airport before he was shot dead on Saturday morning.

A bomb sweep was underway at the site to make sure the individual was not wearing an explosive belt, Brandet added.

The ministry also reported that a police officer was shot and injured in a separate incident north of Paris.

Emergency vehicles surrounded Orly airport as the elite RAID special police force secured the area.

Security officials evacuated part of the building and urged the public to keep clear while the police operation was underway.

[] On going police operation. Please respect the safety perimeter and avoid the airport area.

“We were waiting in line to board the flight to Tel Aviv when we heard three or four gunshots nearby,” witness Franck Lecam told AFP. “The whole airport was evacuated.”

A national police official said the soldier accosted by the slain man was part of the Sentinel special force installed around France to protect sensitive sites after a series of deadly terror attacks.

The man’s motive wasn’t immediately clear. No one else was reported to have been harmed in the incident.

Minister of the Interior Bruno Le Roux was on his way to the airport, his office reported.

France remains under a state of emergency after several recent terror attacks. In November 2015 multiple terrorists killed 130 people in simultaneous attacks in Paris. In July 2016, an attacker drove a truck through crowds in Nice celebrating Bastille Day, killing 86 people.

Orly airport is south of Paris and is the French capital’s second-largest airport after Charles de Gaulle.

nm/rc (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

http://www.dw.com/en/paris-orly-airport-man-killed-after-attempt-to-seize-soldiers-gun/a-38006216

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A picture taken on February 7, 2017 shows the wreckage of a burnt car in one of the main streets of the Cite des 3000 in Aulnay-sous-Bois

The wreckage of a burnt car in Aulnay-sous-Bois after angry French youths clashed with police over the alleged rape of a local man during his arrest. CREDIT:GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT /AFP/GETTY IMAGES 

The area around the Louvre museum in Paris has been evacuated after a huge security operation was launched this morning

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http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/02/03/shooting-at-louvre-french-soldier-reportedly-opens-fire-during-security-scare.html

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, crowd and outdoor

 Paris — April 2016 — A protestor kicks a tear gas cannister as demonstrators clash with anti-riot police. Photograph by Joel Saget, AFP, Getty Images
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Image may contain: one or more people, sunglasses and outdoor
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*************************************

FRANCE COULD BE READY TO LIFT STATE OF EMERGENCY, SAYS JUSTICE MINISTER

France may be ready to drop its state of emergency, which has been in place since the deadly extremist attacks on Paris in November 2015.

In a speech Wednesday, Minister of Justice Jean-Jacques Urvoas said: “We have created the conditions that make it possible to exit the state of emergency, without weakening ourselves or remaining helpless in the face of the threat of terrorism,” French daily newspaper Le Figaroreports.

The state of emergency has dramatically increased the number and visibility of armed law enforcement officials on patrol across the country and tightened the laws on public assembly.

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting, flower, plant, shoes, table and child

Its implementation proved controversial, with increased raids on Muslim communities in the immediate aftermath of the attacks attracting particular criticism from human rights groups.

Urvoas did not give any final date for returning to a lower state of alert, however it has to be approved on a bi-annual basis. The current extension ends in July – two months after France’s upcoming presidential election.