The week at glance...International



Anti-white hate speech: South Africa’s best-known anti-apartheid anthem was banned as hate speech this week. “Shoot the Boer,” about killing white farmers, had been revived recently by Julius Malema, leader of the youth wing of the ruling African National Congress. Malema sings it frequently at his political rallies. But a Johannesburg court has ruled that the anthem could incite violence. “That’s how a genocide can start,” said Judge Collin Lamont. After the ruling, angry Malema supporters sang the song outside the courthouse. The ANC called the ban “an attempt to rewrite South African history” and said it would appeal.

Tripoli, Libya

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Moderation urged: Libya’s interim leader said this week that moderate Islam and equal rights for women should be the basis of Libyan law, as he sought to reconcile Islamist and secular elements of the rebel movement that ousted Muammar al-Qaddafi. “We will not accept any extremist ideology,” said Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, chairman of the Transitional National Council. “We are a Muslim people, for a moderate Islam.” Meanwhile, the whereabouts of Qaddafi himself were still unknown, although his son Saadi and several top officials were taking refuge in neighboring Niger. Qaddafi’s spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, claimed that his boss was “still very powerful” and had “huge areas of Libya” under his control.

Anbar, Iraq

Shiites slaughtered: The sectarian fighting that threatened to plunge Iraq into civil war a few years ago is flaring up again in Anbar Province. In one attack, gunmen this week burst onto a bus of Shiite pilgrims heading for a shrine in Syria, ordered the women and children off, and killed all 22 men on board. The massacre came amid a wave of insurgent attacks on Sunni sites in Anbar. Sunni leaders complained that Iraqi army troops sent to restive Anbar last year by the Shiite-led government have done little to protect Sunnis. “The provincial council has demanded the army search by plane to see where the terrorists are hiding, and they are not doing it,” said local official Sadoun Obeid al-Shalan.

Bushehr, Iran

Nuclear plant online: Iran this week officially began operating the first nuclear power plant in the Middle East. The Bushehr plant uses Russian fuel, and its nuclear waste is to be returned to Russia. Iran said it would allow the U.N.’s atomic agency full supervision of the plant, but would not respond, as the agency has demanded, to Western intelligence evidence suggesting that Tehran is also running a separate program to produce a nuclear bomb. “The start of the Bushehr plant symbolically shows to the world how a country can maintain its freedom and independence through resistance,” said Iranian nuclear chief Fereydoun Abbasi.


Hikers’ fate uncertain: The release of the two American hikers convicted of spying after they strayed into Iran, in 2009, was in doubt again this week as Iranian officials gave conflicting statements on their fate. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal would be pardoned as “a unilateral humanitarian gesture.” But the next day, a judicial official said that “reports of their imminent release were wrong” and that they would stay in jail “a bit longer.” The jockeying is part of a power struggle between the president and the judiciary. Ahmadinejad wants to bring the men to the U.S. by next week, when he is to attend the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York.


U.S. Embassy attacked: Insurgents launched a brazen assault on both the U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters this week, killing 16 people and demonstrating their ability to strike in the heart of Kabul. At least five of the 10 attackers holed up in a nearby building and fired rocket-propelled grenades into the two compounds; all of the attackers were killed after a 20-hour siege. U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker tried to downplay the significance of the attack as “not a very big deal,” saying, “If that’s the best they can do, I think it’s actually a statement of their weakness.” While the Taliban claimed responsibility, Crocker said evidence indicated that the Haqqani network, a group of Taliban-allied Afghan militants based in Pakistan, was to blame.


Wife beater repents: China’s most famous English teacher, Li Yang, has admitted to beating his American wife, Kim Lee. Lee posted pictures of her bruised face on her social-networking site last week, with the comment “Do not use violence toward me in front of our child.” After a few days of silence, Li went on a PR blitz, apologizing in interviews for banging his wife’s head on the floor and blaming his behavior on work pressure and China’s traditional tolerance of domestic violence. “I hope I can be a negative example,” Li said, “warning people of the seriousness of domestic violence and persuading them to offer love instead of rage.” Li is the founder of Crazy English, a hugely popular and expensive language program in which students are encouraged to shout phrases like, “I am no longer a slave to English! I am its master!”

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.