Middle East Miscellany

by Michael Rubin

Telephone tapping in Turkey:

Exactly 71,538 telephones have been tapped by the Telecommunications Directorate through court orders, among which 65 percent have ostensibly been tapped to gather intelligence on terrorism and organized crime, Radikal reported. Wiretaps for the purpose of gathering intelligence can be requested by intelligence institutions to prevent crimes from being committed. The remaining 35 percent of surveillance is being carried out because of strong suspicions that a crime has been committed and [there is] no other way to obtain evidence.

Mandatory Islam classes in Turkey for autistic kids:

An education ministry board has said autistic students will have compulsory religion classes at the expense of one hour of the physical education that is critical to their development. Experts on autistic children’s education are against the decision, saying the children will not be able to comprehend the abstract concepts of religion. The wing of the Turkish Education Ministry responsible for setting school curriculum, education material, and timetable schedules has said autistic students must begin attending compulsory religion classes, daily Radikal reported Sunday.

Ethnic cleansing by Iraqi Kurdish militia in Kirkuk?

Kurdish security forces in Kirkuk have threatened to kill Arab residents if they do not leave the northern Iraqi city ahead of a contentious population census scheduled for later this month, Iraqi officials said Friday. The officials told the German Press Agency DPA that Arab Sunnis and Shiites in the city were asked to leave under the pretext that they were not native residents of Kirkuk. When they refused to do so, they were reportedly threatened. “Dozens of Arabs have been threatened with death and displacement for the past three days,” said Rakan al-Joubouri, the deputy governor of Kirkuk. He said threats were being made by the Kurdistan Democratic Party Party KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan PUK. 

Labor protests in Tehran:

On October 10, four different labor disputes were taken to the streets of Tehran. In one instance, about 100 Ghazvin Naznakh textile workers held a rally across the presidential palace at Pasteur street. The factory shut down last March has left the workers without their due payments. The workers were demanding those back wages and the issue of plant closure. Meanwhile, about 70 Ghazvin Poushinebaft workers held a rally at the same location calling for job security and their retirement benefits. This was the forth rally by Poushinehbaft workers in the last six months. One banner at the rally read “We have not received our wages in 11 months.” Separately, about 20 Karoun Paper factory workers gathered across the parliament building. The area adjacent to the parliament was also the scene of a protest by about 500 part-time teachers demanding an acknowledgment of their occupational status.


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