Chandigarh: Four Chinook heavy-lift helicopters made in the US were inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) here on Monday.After inducting the helicopters, IAF chief B S Dhanoa said induction of Chinook will be a game changer the way the Rafale is going to be in the fighter fleet. The first four of the 15 CH-47F (I) Chinook helicopters, which were ordered from Boeing in September 2015, were commissioned into the IAF’s 126 Helicopter Unit (HU) at a ceremony held here. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’The Chinook, twin-engine, tandem rotor, is multi-role, vertical-lift platform, which is used for transporting troops, artillery, equipment and fuel. The helicopter can carry out military operations not only during the day but at night too. Speaking at the function here, Dhanoa said, “Our country faces a multitude of security challenges, we require vertical lift capability across a very diversified terrain.” “The IAF operates from bases which are from sea level to very high altitude advance landing grounds. The helicopter will give the IAF quantum leap in terms of ability to transport cargo to precarious high altitude locations. The aircraft is one of its best in its category,” he said. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KThe all-weather capable aircraft can also used for humanitarian and disaster relief operations and in missions such as transportation of relief supplies and mass evacuation of refugees. “It is a red-letter day for the Air Force as we are inducting the Chinook helicopters which gives us a tremendous capability, primarily in the inter-valley troop transfer. In inter-valley troop transfer, what is very important is ability to operate from high altitudes to take acclimatized troops from one valley to another valley,” he said while interacting with reporters here. Asked about Pakistan Air Force chief Mujahid Anwar Khan Saturday leading a fly-past at the Pakistan Day joint military parade in Islamabad, Dhanoa quipped, “The Pakistan Air Force chief was flying from rear cockpit, just look from where he was flying.” Citing an example about how Chinooks can be helpful in non-military roles, he said, “After the floods which occurred in Uttarakhand earlier and natural disaster in other hilly areas, there is a requirement to lift heavy loads, especially re-construction equipment so that we can open roads and communication can be re-established.” “The helicopter is not only with the Air Force for the military role, it is a national asset,” he said. Named after the courageous American-Indian tribes, the aircraft outperforms in its mobility, agility, flexibility and endurance, the IAF chief said. He said all the 15 Chinook helicopters will not be stationed at Chandigarh Air Force Station’s 12 Wing as another unit of heavy-lift choppers will be created in Dinjan (Assam). Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Air Command Air Marshal R Nambiar, Major General Robin Fontes from the US, Boeing India head Salil Gupte and Haryana’s Director General of Police Manoj Yadava were among others present on the occasion.
New Delhi: GoAir has withdrawn its boarding passes with photographs of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, the airline said on Tuesday, a day after Air India rolled back its passes with images of the two leaders.The airline had taken a “cue from the Election Code of Conduct”, a GoAir spokesperson said, adding that its team in Srinagar inadvertently used unused stock of “Vibrant Gujarat” paper. GoAir’s Srinagar Airport team inadvertently utilized unused stock of Vibrant Gujarat related paper which took place in January 18-20, 2019 for issuing boarding passes at the said airport. It was unintentional. Taking cue from the Election Code of Conduct we have instructed our airport teams to stop utilizing this type of paper with immediate effect, the spokesperson said in a statement. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’On Monday, Air India decided to do the same after the issue ignited controversy on social media. Its boarding passes were also from the Vibrant Gujarat summit with photographs of the two leaders. Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted on Monday evening that he was on a GoAir flight on Sunday and it “also had a similar boarding pass with the PM’s photo on it”. An Air India spokesperson said on Monday that the boarding passes were printed during the Vibrant Gujarat Summit held in January this year and the photographs were part of the advertisement from ‘third parties’. “Air India has decided to roll back the boarding passes of Vibrant Gujarat which had photos of the prime minister and the Gujarat chief minister,” said Dhananjay Kumar.
The slowdown in real estate over the last few years and the constraints that India’s infrastructure sector has faced due to non-performing assets (NPAs) have had a significant impact on allied industries, none more than on the cement sector itself. A quick look at the share price returns for listed mini-cement stocks (smaller cement companies) over the last one year gives a good idea about the woes of the sector, with shares losing anywhere between 20 to 72 per cent of their market capitalisation. However, despite the slowdown, for patient investors wagering on the “India growth story” in the decades to come, the cement sector is one that provides for interesting opportunities through a platform structure. Also Read – A special kind of bondScale is critical to creating a successful cement-focused platform company in India. Operational efficiencies across the value chain and an aggregated distribution strategy will be the two pillars that may help build a profitable and better-hedged business. A smaller cement business faces greater headwinds under challenging market conditions. At a fundamental level, a smaller company is far more exposed to the vagaries of both input price fluctuations and selling price dynamics. Greater exposure to the vagaries of price fluctuations is due to a lack of scale of operations, lacking in geographical diversification, lower negotiating power with sellers and buyers, lack of consistent brand building and lower capacity to create the operational infrastructure to build an efficient supply chain at a relatively low cost. Also Read – Insider threat managementA large platform company will be able to build a distribution network through both scale and better negotiation capacity with suppliers and customers to create more robust contracts. Access to energy inputs is vital for cement production, and so is transportation to cater to a large user base. A platform with scale and resources can better identify potential synergies across both input costs and the sales process than relatively smaller firms. Additionally, the use of robust back-end technology platforms will help scale and operate effectively. To emphasise on the importance of input and logistics costs, one must look at the numbers for a significant cement operator such as UltraTech. In Q3 of 2019, power and fuel costs were approximately 23 per cent of the final sale price while logistics costs were a little less than 25 per cent even for a large-scale operator. The numbers drive home the fact as to how significant a component of the total cement value chain are power input prices and logistics cost. Utilising a platform company to aggregate, reduce and manage these costs will be vital for success. In a capital-intensive business such as cement, focusing on Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) is as critical, if not more, than in other industries. A financially savvy operator can help boost ROCE through aggregating smaller firms to focus on reducing costs, lowering input price and logistics cost volatility and building a more recognisable brand. Additionally, it is also vital to take a disaggregated view of the business to boost ROCE. The ability to view each asset in a portfolio regarding profitability is crucial to the aim of maximising ROCE. At a disaggregated portfolio level, assets that fail to recover their variable costs will need urgent attention from the platform operator to ensure that inefficient units aren’t hidden within a large aggregated business. Essentially, in a commoditised business a larger platform company will be able to generate greater cash flows during periods of high demand and when the business cycle downturn occurs the available cash and structural advantages of better contracts, and more efficient supply chains, will help weather the storm. The much researched and discussed Mexican cement business Cemex provides a template that can teach investors and operators alike. Improving efficiencies, lowering costs, negotiating longer-term low volatility contracts and creating a premium brand synonymous with quality even in a commoditised business such as cement is the way forward. True, the cement business faces challenges given the commoditised product and the sporadic instance of the loss of pricing power, but it is as much true that the impending housing and infrastructure demand in India is one that will create a significant opportunity. The ability of an operator to aggregate smaller cement businesses in India into a robust platform is a value proposition worth considering. (The author heads Development Tracks, an infrastructure advisory firm. The views expressed are strictly personal)
1(346 Words) Download Download PrintPrint 4/20/2019 2:48:00 PM New Delhi, Apr 20 (PTI) Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu Saturday alleged Prime Minister Narendra Modi “ruined” government companies and “favoured” private firms in his five years of rule and accused him of being “anti-national for selling the interest of the nation”. Sidhu also described PM Modi as “nikamma” (useless) and said he should stop harping on the issue of nationalism to garner votes and talk about the matters of national interest. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ Addressing a press conference here, the Punjab minister alleged, “Modi is the business development manager of Ambani and Adani, as he has favoured them at the cost of state-run firms.” The Congress has been attacking the prime minister for “promoting crony capitalism and favouring his industrialist friends”. The government has, however, denied the charges. Sidhu also alleged that while SBI and MTNL are accruing losses, PM Modi is endorsing private companies like Paytm and Reliance Jio. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K “Adani and Ambani accompanied the prime minister on foreign visits and 18 big projects, which should have ideally been given to government companies, were handed over to them,” he claimed. The Congress leader alleged that the “chowkidar” took care only of the rich and ignored the rest 99 per cent of the population. “And the prime minister says he’s the chowkidar of the nation. He’s the chowkidar of the top 1 per cent of the population. He never took chairmen of government companies along with him on his foreign tours. Are government firms not good enough?” Sidhu asked. The cricketer-turned-politician alleged that under the “chowkidar’s” watch, PSUs like Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited turned into loss-making enterprises. “While BSNL is grappling with a loss of Rs 8,000 cr, the prime minister is endorsing Reliance Jio, which has posted a huge profit. While SBI is reeling under NPAs, Modi can be seen in advertisements of Paytm,” he alleged. “Modi sold the interest of the nation. He’s anti-national,” Sidhu alleged. The prime minister should stop harping on the issue of nationalism to garner votes and talk about the matters of national interest, he said.
Mumbai: A 70-year-old man died apparently due to shock after his minor grandson was taken into custody by police in connection with a stone pelting incident in Osmanabad district of Maharashtra, an official said Thursday.Dattu Ganpati More died immediately after police apprehended his grandson from their house in Telmod village in Umarga taluka late on Wednesday night, the official said. More’s grandson was held as part of the operation launched to catch those allegedly involved in pelting stones at a police vehicle, he added. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM'”More’s grandson and some other persons were found involved in hurling stones at a police vehicle over its alleged delay in reaching the spot of a car accident in which three people had died. The accident had taken place on Sunday,” the official said. The stone-pelters had later escaped from the spot. The police had registered an offence against a group of at least 25 persons, including More’s minor grandson. “As part of the combing operation, a police team went to Dattu More’s house late Wednesday night and took his grandson into custody. However, apparently shocked over the apprehension of the minor, More collapsed on the ground,” the official said. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was declared dead before admission, he added.
London: Maurizio Sarri admitted on Friday that Chelsea face a “very difficult” task to reach the levels of Premier League pacesetters Liverpool and Manchester City as he prepares his team to face Manchester United. The Italian believes the Blues must close the gap in a maximum of two seasons, though his position at Stamford Bridge remains under threat. Chelsea head to Old Trafford on Sunday, where the winners will take a significant step towards a top-four finish to secure Champions League qualification for next season. Also Read – We will push hard for Kabaddi”s inclusion in 2024 Olympics: RijijuSarri, 60, told reporters at his pre-match press conference the points tallies earned by Liverpool and Manchester City — both closing on 90 points — were “incredible” and said he wanted the chance to elevate Chelsea to that level. “It’s incredible because Manchester City, in the last season, gained 100 points,” said Sarri. “To gain 100 points in the Premier League is really incredible, really very difficult. In this season, two teams, I think they will finish with about 97, 96, 95 points. That’s incredible. It’s very difficult to cover the gap. Really very difficult. We need to work. We need to improve. Also Read – Djokovic to debut against Shapovalov at Shanghai Masters”Of course, this one is the third season of (Pep) Guardiola at City, and the fifth I think of (Jurgen) Klopp at Liverpool (Klopp is in his fourth season at Anfield). So it’s a long way (to go). But in one or two seasons, we have to recover the gap.” Sarri said his team, currently in fourth spot in the Premier League, are improving despite taking just a single point from their past two matches. “Tactically, we are improving,” he said. “Mentally, too. Because two or three months ago, at the first difficulty in a match, we were not able to fight or react. “Now my feeling is different. Now we are able to fight and react. But of course to recover the gap will be really very difficult for us, but also the other teams.” He said Chelsea had to improve their away form at their top-six rivals after league defeats at the hands of Arsenal, Tottenham, City and Liverpool this season. “We need to face difficulties because for sure against these teams away you have to face difficulties,” he said. “We need to be able to stay in the match in the 10 minutes of difficulty. Sometimes in the second part of the season we lost the match in 10 minutes.” And Sarri said he was surprised Eden Hazard did not feature in the Professional Footballers’ Association team of the year despite an outstanding season for Chelsea. “Eden deserved to be in the top XI of the Premier League, but I also think the table is clear,” he said. “There is City, there is Liverpool, and then the other teams. The vote was influenced by the table.”
Gururgam: There seems to be no respite for the residents of Gurugram as dusty winds have resulted in the city’s air being in the very poor category.On Monday, the particulate levels of 2.5 microns in Gurugram was registered at 350 micrograms per cubic metres. This is way above the prescribed limits of 60 micrograms per cubic metre set by the world health organisation (WHO). According to the met department, dust storm conditions are making the situation in the city worse. Also Read – Odd-Even: CM seeks transport dept’s views on exemption to women, two wheelers, CNG vehicles”Dust particles from the Thar in Rajasthan are blowing towards this region. That is a major cause of continuous deterioration in air quality. Also, wind direction is west-south-west, leading to the transportation of more dust particles from the desert,” said the Met official. If weather conditions were not favourable for the air to breathe what made the matters worse was the dust and vehicular pollution in the city. There was a high concentration of posonous gases like nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide that is mostly emitted by the vehicles. Also Read – More good air days in Delhi due to Centre’s steps: JavadekarIn order to save the cost, there are a large number of vehicles especially the three-wheeler that use low quality fuel that further causes more harm to the people breathing the air. Large scale construction activities and the receding green cover has resulted in dust being the major contributor to pollution in the Millennium city. Even as strict orders have been issued by the National Green Tribunal to not allow the burning of the waste, the brazenness of not following the law can be seen even in the crowded area of National Highway-8. “There is a need for sustained and committed effort in dealing with such a major challenge. Unfortunately, a few days of favourable weather conditions cannot help us escape from the big challenge that surrounds us.” “The citizens and the government must collaborate together to fight this menace. Unfortunately, even though the awareness about pollution has improved, the pro-activeness about it has not changed much,” said Shweta Narang, a city resident. Most of the citizens from the city have taken to digital platforms to highlight the challenges that are resulting in a spike of deadly air levels.
Rabat – Minister in charge of Governance and General Affairs, Mohamed El Ouafa held Wednesday in Rabat, talks with a delegation from the Chinese Ministry of Supervision on mechanisms of good governance and the fight against corruption in Morocco.In a statement to the press after the meeting, Mr. El Ouafa said he presented before the delegation the various institutional and legislative measures and mechanisms put in place by the government to foster the principles and values of good governance, and fight corruption.At the institutional level, El Ouafa said he discussed the powers of the various bodies and institutions responsible for ensuring compliance with the rules of fair competition and good governance, including the Competition Council whose powers were reinforced by the new constitution of the Kingdom. At the legislative front, he said he provided an overview on the new law on public procurement which aims to ensure proper use of public funds. For his part, the head of the Chinese delegation, Geng Wenqing, said the visit is part of strengthening relations between Morocco and China, noting that it aims to learn from the experience of Morocco in the field of good governance and the fight against corruption.
Geneva – Morocco denounced on Thursday before the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva, the contradiction of Algeria on self-determination, since it claims to support this principle and at the same time allows its army to kill the people who choose self-determination and decide to leave the Tindouf camps.Reacting to a statement made the previous day before the HRC by Algerian Foreign Minister on the situation of human rights in the Moroccan Sahara, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Morocco to the UN in Geneva, Omar Hilale described the way Algiers addresses the issue of self-determination as “an attempt to mislead the Council of human Rights.”The diplomat who spoke under the right of reply, noted that Morocco’s Sahara autonomy provides for consultation with the people of the Moroccan Sahara.” Hilale recalled that the Algerian army killed on January 5, two Sahrawis and wounded several others as they reached the Mauritanian border, calling on the HRC, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the High Commissioner for Refugees to shed light on this serious incident.
Marrakech – Commenting on the growing trend of public education teachers offering costly private lessons, Minister of Education, Rachid Belmokhtar, said Tuesday before the House of Representatives that private classes given by teachers of the public sector are “a cancer that gangrenes education.”The statement comes after frequent complaints from students’ parents.The minister heavily criticized these teachers because of the lack of opportunity available to less affluent students. On this issue, Rachid Belmokhtar claims that the Ministry of Education is developing strategies to be implemented by 2015. The upcoming strategies will allow the Ministry to more easily monitor and manage the public school education system.The hidden economy of private lessons from public teachers was recently thrown into the spotlight by disappointed and generally poorer parents. Parents claim teachers give better marks for their privately taught students, while those who cannot afford the lesson are neglected and receive lower marks.From the public school teachers’ perspective, the only way to supplement their very low salary is through privately taught lessons.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed
Rabat – Syrian refugee Haider Jalabi arrived in Morocco on Wednesday afternoon after he was granted a visa to enter the country and be reunited with his father. The 10-year-old arrived at the Mohammed V airport in Casablanca with Dutch-Moroccan journalist Boutaina Azzabi, who has been looking after him in Turkey since she heard that he was sleeping at the airport when he was refused entry to Morocco in June.She set up the campaign #MoroccoLetHaiderEnter to help bring the boy legally to Morocco. Haider can now join his father, 38-year-old Bashar Jalabi, a former soldier in the ranks of the Assad military. The father has legal residency in Morocco and is married to a Moroccan woman who had been living with him in Syria before the start of the revolution in 2011.The Moroccan authorities granted Haider a visa to enter the country after a video of him appealing to King Mohammed VI went viral on social media networks. Prior to this, Haider has had his visa petition denied 3 times by Moroccan authorities.© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission
By Jonathan WalshRabat – A majority of French Muslims Said they would not object if they daughter married a Jew. An online survey commissioned by The Foundation of French Judaism, conducted in February 2015 in conjunction with a broad study of attitudes in France relating to race and religion, showed that a majority of French Muslims would not object if their daughters were to marry a Jew. The 500 participants, all of whom were French Muslim adults, could choose whether they would “react positively” or “react negatively” to a series of scenarios regarding how their daughters would marry.When asked how they would react if their daughter married a man of Jewish faith, 55% said they would react positively, with the remaining 45% saying they would react negatively.The same people were then asked a similar question, but instead of asking their reactions to a man of Jewish faith they asked how participants would react to their daughter marrying a Catholic man, to which 68% responded that they would “react positively.”Though the results indicate that European Muslims are largely progressive, there are still some conservative pockets. Another survey also published by showed that in the “general population” in France, only 21% would react negatively to their daughter marrying a Jewish man.A debate about the ethics and usefulness of such polls erupted on social media, with some contending that these poll contravene French law due to a ban on “collecting statistics on citizens’ ethnic and religious backgrounds,” according toFrance24..Regardless of the legality of such surveys, at a time when both Islamic and Jewish communities in France are under intense pressure, the surveys appear to indicate more tolerance by the very communities that are subject to hate crimes. Official figures from December of last year show that following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January, hate crimes against Muslims have tripled while anti-Semitic attacks have doubled.Edited by Elisabeth Myers
Rabat – Morocco has a very important value added and an extremely competitive offer in terms of human resources in the sector of aeronautics, said Bob Noble, vice president of Boeing’s Partnering for Success program.The Moroccan offer in this area is competitive at the quantity and quality levels in addition to the cost, he said, underlining the important support by the government and the private sector in training talents, Noble told on Thursday “l’Economiste”.He added that Morocco “contributes greatly to the reduction of our production costs, and the stabilization of our supply chain.” He went on saying that the extension program of the industrial site “MidParc” is making headway with the aim of exceeding 1,000 jobs this year.With MAP
Casablanca – The African Union has elected Alpha Conde as the new chairperson of the pan-African organization, succeeding Chadian President Idris Deby. The Guinean president, Alpha Conde, who has a good relationship with Morocco, has been announced as the African Union chairperson.Conde will succeed the Chadian President, Idris Deby, as the head of the union. Conde met the Moroccan Monarch, King Mohammed VI, on Sunday, during a royal dinner King Mohammed VI hosted in the presence of African Leaders. A meeting between the Moroccan Monarch and the newly elected chairperson of the AU purportedly went on longer than meetings with other heads of states.The election of Conde, by the Assembly of Heads of State, was expected as the position rotates among the five regions of the continent; North, Central, East, West and Southern African regions. This year it was the turn of West Africa.This election is being seen as a favorable sign for Morocco, as the kingdom has an exemplary diplomatic relationship with the entire region of West Africa.Conde’s was elected during the 28 summit of the African Union which began on Monday. In his acceptance speech, Conde said state members should work together to succeed in the integration of African peoples, adding that he “voluntarily and humbly welcomes the presidency of the union in 2017.”Conde added that his unanimous election represents an honor for him and for his country.The position is held for a one-year term, giving the chairperson the capacity to represent the continent at several international ceremonies and forums such as Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), The Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), and the Group of 8 G8 and G20 summits.
Rabat – Police services at the Mohammed V International Airport in Casablanca arrested, Sunday night, a Nigerian national for his alleged involvement in cocaine trafficking, the national police (DGSN) said.The 32-year-old suspect, who had abandoned a luggage at a reception area of a hotel located in the international transit station of the airport, was arrested at the boarding area, the DGSN pointed out in a statement.After searching the luggage, the police discovered 53 capsules containing 1.2 kg of cocaine, the same source added. The airport scanner also detected extra capsules hidden in the suspect’s stomach, which required his transfer to the Ibn Rochd hospital in Casablanca, the statement noted.The accused, coming from Sao-Paulo (Brazil) and heading for Freetown (Sierra Leone), was remanded in custody under medical supervision to remove the pills, before conducting a judiciary investigation under the supervision of the competent public prosecutor.
Rabat – In 2012, Moroccans dedicated 6 hours and 40 minutes of their day to free time. Activities like surfing the internet and watching television took up the most time, according to a survey by Morocco’s High Commission for Planning (HCP).The survey reveals how Moroccans spend their free time.The study, conducted between 2011 and 2012, shows that Moroccans spend 84 percent of their free time doing six principal practices: Watching television (2 hours 14 minutes), religious practices (59 minutes), napping (43 minutes), idleness (38 minutes), discussions (37 minutes), and hosting or visiting (26 minutes). Moroccans aged 15 and above spend on average 2 hours and 14 minutes watching television, or 33.6 percent of their free time. They only spend 2 minutes in practicing sports or reading.Read also: HCP: Moroccans’ Health Coverage Depends on Gender, Age and GeographyChildren devote 3 hours daily to watching television, an average of 43.6 percent of their free time. However, they only spend 2 minutes practicing sports and one minute reading.Social media networks are the main platforms children use on the internet, while they only devote 5 percent of their internet usage to educational research.Children spend more time browsing, an average of 12 minutes daily, surpassing adults whose daily average browsing is 4 minutes.Television, radio, and internet are the youth’s major means of opening up to the rest of the world. Sixty-eight percent of youth stated they watch television or listen to the radio on a regular basis.Internet use was moderate among youth in 2012. As many as 61.8 percent of men never used it, compared to 77.8 percent of women.
Rabat – France is holding its competitions to select its representative at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest May 14-18 in Tel Aviv, Israel. Among the competitors is Moroccan-born Bilal Hassani.The 19-year-old artist’s new song, “Roi” (King) released on January 4 has already become a hit, scoring over 1 million views on YouTube.Roi’s music video features clips from Hassani’s childhood until now, depicting his blossoming love for music and telling how society alienated him as a gay person. Hassani is outspoken in his songs about his personal experiences, mainly about his experience as a member of the LGBTQ community. Hassani’s life reached a turning point when his parents found out his sexual orientation when he was in middle school. Hassani recounted how his school expelled him in a YouTube video titled “Expelled from my middle school because I’m gay,” in French.Read Also: Singer Ricky Martin and Husband Welcome Baby DaughterDespite all, the young singer who said “I’ve always been who I am” in his new song, came out as gay to his followers at age 17.The singer was already known for his participation in the second season of the Voice Kids, the French music talent show for children aged 6 to 15.Eurovision, a contest held since 1956, asks each participating country to submit “an original song” which will determine whether the candidates will make it to the contest which aims to support youth’s musical careers.This year, 42 countries are participating in the contest.
Rabat – Anger and condemnation have erupted nationwide from journalists, celebrities, and human rights activists on social media as the Casablanca Court of Appeal pronounced heavy sentences Tuesday night for the Hirak Rif activists. The court gave sentences ranging from 20 years to 1 year in prison for the activists, some of whom were arrested nearly a year ago.After condemning FIFA for “unjust refereeing,” Moroccan social media users and activists shifted their focus to criticize the justice system in Morocco, criticizing the heavy sentences towards Hirak Rif activists. In the view of activists, the sentences for the young protesters were unfair, who fought for social equality and denounced the lack of human rights in the Al Hoceima region. The digital society has called the sentences a “dramatic error.”A journalist and former editor in chief of Moroccan news outlet Telquel, Driss Ksikes, strongly condemned the verdict, emphasizing that “the convictions of the Rifi activists brought the Moroccan autocracy back to a time of trivialized and globalized repression and injustice.”Four leaders of the protest movement, including Nasser Zefzafi, received 20 years in prison while others received sentences between 1 and 15 years in addition to fines of MAD 2,000.A Moroccan analyst and journalist at Moroccan television channel 2M, Abdellah Tourabi, tweeted that “the heavy sentences against Hirak Rif are a historical mistake that we are going to pay for as a nation and citizens.”??????? ??????? ???? ???? ?? ?? ????? ???? ????? ?? ??? ?????? ? ????? ???? ????? ???? ? ???? .— A Tourabi (@Atourabi) June 26, 2018Moroccan activist, professor, and head of the Unified Socialist Party (PSU) Nabila Mounib shared her opinion in a video posted on her official Facebook page. The Moroccan politician condemned “the complete absence of an independent judiciary” and the lack of accountability in the country.She also denounced the security’s approach and repression of the detained activists. The politician then called for their freedom.Former Minister of Urban Planning and Housing Nabil Benabdellah also took to his Facebook page to criticize the heavy sentences against Hirak Rif detainees.Benabdellah, who is also the head of the Party of Progress and Socialism Party (PPS), wrote on his Facebook today:“We strongly hope that all possible legal and judicial review of this file will be realized in order to inject the necessary democracy into the national political life.” Sports journalist Said El ABadi wrote “in the space of 24 hours, the pride of the Moroccan people for their national team and their support has given way to disappointment for justice …”En l’espace de 24h, la fierté du peuple marocain pour son équipe nationale et ses supporters a laissé place au dépit pour sa justice… #Hirak— Said El Abadi (@Selabadi) June 26, 2018Moroccan political activist and MP Omar Balafrej expressed anger in three (Arabic) words on his Twitter, saying “just arrest us all.”??? ????? ??????— omarbalafrej (@omarbalafrej) June 27, 2018Citizens also took to their social media accounts to decry the sentences against the activists.“Imagine getting 20 years in prison just because you were asking for basic human rights for your people… i am ashamed of our goverment (sic) #Zefzafi #Hirak,” wrote a Twitter user.Imagine getting 20 years in prison just because you were asking for basic human rights for your people… i am ashamed of our goverment #Zefzafi #Hirak— sana (@riffianprincess) June 27, 2018“Morocco, a place where a football injustice gets more reactions and outrage than actual injustice and lack of human rights. #hirak,” said another.“Last night, the verdict has been announced: 20 to 1 year of prison for young people who invested their time and energy, risked their lives and faced the state’s machinery of oppression. For a better Morocco. For “dignity, freedom and social justice”. We are mourning!”Last night, the verdict has been announced: 20 to 1 year of prison for young people who invested their time and energy, risked their lives and faced the state’s machinery of oppression. For a better Morocco. For “dignity, freedom and social justice”.We are mourning!#Hirak— Uness Eagle (@younessfatati) June 27, 2018Online activists created a Facebook page, calling on a protest against the sentences in front of Parliament in Rabat today, Wednesday, at 6:00 p.m.More than 1,200 Facebook users marked themselves as “going” to the protest, while 10,000 marked themselves as “interested.” Citizens are also expected to organize a sit-in in Casablanca.The social protests began after the death of the local fishmonger, Mouhcine Fikri, who was crushed dramatically to death in a garbage truck in October 2016 while attempting to retrieve his goods that authorities had confiscated.The death of Fikri angered Moroccan citizens, especially people in the Al Hoceima province who condemned the situation and the social disparities in the region.Throughout the protests, the law enforcement arrested more than 400 Hirak activists for their participation in “unauthorized demonstrations,” on charges of “undermining the internal security of the state.”The May 2017 arrest of the leader of the social protest, Zefzafi, seriously escalated the situation, with citizens in the Al Hoceima province organizing further protests to condemn the security crackdown.After nearly 80 trials and frequent postponements, the court gave heavy sentences to Zefzafi and other detained activists.
By Josh BabbRabat – A Turkish newspaper has reportedly obtained audio of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s torture and murder in the Saudi consulate. As US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Turkey’s capital of Ankara on Wednesday, Turkish newspapers reported on graphic audio recorded from dissident Saudi journalist Khashoggi’s killing and subsequent dismemberment. A senior Turkish intelligence official described the audio to reporters. The alleged recording further escalates pressure on both Saudi Arabia and the US for answers about what happened to Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi Arabia, after he entered the country’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2.Read Also: Jamal Khashoggi Allegedly Recorded His Torture, Murder on Apple WatchTurkish newspapers closely aligned with the Turkish government revealed details about the recordings, coming only a day after Pompeo met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) in a bid to de-escalate the ongoing diplomatic crisis. President Trump, for his part, has demanded any audio recording be turned over to US officials. Trump spoke to the press earlier this week after a call with Saudi King Salman. He offered the theory that Khashoggi’s death had perhaps come at the hands of “rouge killers,” although US intelligence assessments undercut the theory. Experts on Saudi Arabia have claimed it is very unlikely that such an operation would occur without the knowledge of high-ranking officials, such as MBS or King Salman. Both Turkish intelligence and reporting by the Washington Post claims to have identified 11 of the 15 men who flew into Turkey from Saudi Arabia the same day as Khashoggi’s disappearance as having ties to Saudi security services. Even more intriguing are reports surfacing on October 18 that Meshal Saad M. Albostani, one of the men suspected of playing a role in Khashoggi’s murder, has himself been killed in a car accident in Riyadh. Experts on Saudi Arabia have claimed it is very unlikely that such an operation would occur without the knowledge of high-ranking officials, such as MBS or King Salman. Rudolph Giuliani, a close advisor to Trump, appears to have already concluded the Saudis were involved in Khashoggi’s death. “The only question is, was it directed from the crown prince or the king — or was it a group that was trying to please him?”Saudi Arabia and the US have long been close partners, cooperating both economically and on counterterrorism efforts across the Middle East. It remains to be seen whether Khashoggi’s killing will permanently alter the relationship.
Rabat – Moroccan-Dutch kickboxer Badr Hari tested positive in an anti-doping test that the Anti-Doping Authority of the Netherland conducted last year. The Dutch media outlet Nieuwsuur revealed on Monday that Hari risks being suspended for four years.The test results showed evidence of prohibited doping substances in the urine of the 34-year-old boxer after his last major match against Hesdy Gerges, who also tested positive for doping, in March 2018 in Rotterdam.Read Also: ‘Don’t Forget Who’s the Boss’: Morocco’s Badr Hari Slams Rico VerhoevenThe case is before a disciplinary judge who will decide whether to suspend Hari.In 2017, the Supreme Court in the Hague handed down a sentence to Badr Hari of six months in prison for aggravated assault.