The week at a glance...International
Istanbul ‘Turkish Sinatra’ shot: Turkey’s top singing star was battling for his life this week after being shot in the head by unknown attackers wielding AK-47s. Ibrahim Tatlises, known as the Emperor, rose from a poor Kurdish town to become one of the best-known crooners in the Middle East, beloved as much for his brash ego and machismo as for his songs. He parlayed his fame into a business empire comprising construction interests, restaurants, and his own bus line, and some Turkish media speculated the assassination attempt could be related to a business deal in Iraq. Just hours before he was shot, Tatlises appeared live on his TV show, railing against unnamed critics. “I am the people’s darling and you guys can’t take it,” he said. He was shot as he left the studio.
Itamar settlement, West Bank Family murdered: The stabbing murders of a Jewish settler family have inflamed tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. Assailants entered a home in the West Bank settlement of Itamar and killed Rabbi Udi Fogel; his wife, Ruth; two of their sons, ages 11 and 4; and a 3-month-old baby. Two other sons escaped. The horrific scene was discovered by a 12-year-old daughter when she returned from a youth-group event around midnight. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack as “abominable, inhuman, and immoral.” Israeli authorities launched a manhunt in a nearby Palestinian village, going house to house and detaining and fingerprinting all males over age 15. They also approved new construction in the settlements, which are considered illegal under international law.
CairoSecret police disbanded: In a major victory for the democratic movement in Egypt, the interim government this week abolished the hated State Security Service, the secret-police agency that ousted President Hosni Mubarak had used to crush opposition to his regime. Activists took over the agency’s offices earlier this month, dismantling torture devices and confiscating hundreds of boxes of documents that detailed abuses. Thousands of other documents had already been burned or shredded. “There were many methods of torture,” one secret-police agent told the BBC. “Beating and whipping, hanging in the air for long periods of time, cuffing up their hands and legs, using electric sticks, and burning their bodies with cigarettes and depriving them of sleep or food.”
Sanaa, YemenViolence grows: The uprising in Yemen turned more violent this week, as government militias clashed with anti-government protesters. In Sanaa, armored vehicles surrounded an area where some 20,000 people have been camped out for weeks demanding that President Ali Abdullah Saleh resign. “We’re expecting an attack at any minute, but we’re not leaving until the regime falls,” said protester Taha Qayed. Dozens were injured when a provincial governor’s bodyguards opened fire on protesters; the governor was then stabbed in the ensuing melee, according to local reports. International reporting was all but halted after authorities deported four freelancers who worked for U.S. publications.
Lahore, PakistanCIA agent freed: The CIA contractor who killed two people in Lahore in January was freed this week after American officials paid $2.34 million to the victims’ families. Raymond Davis, who worked for Blackwater before taking a contract with the CIA, admitted to shooting the two men but said it was in self-defense during an attempted carjacking. The case caused a rift between the U.S. and Pakistan, as the two sides tussled over whether Davis was entitled to diplomatic immunity. The Pakistani press, meanwhile, was awash in theories that the victims were agents of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s spy agency. Paying “blood money” to families in exchange for an acquittal on murder or manslaughter charges is common in Pakistan.
Dharamsala, IndiaDalai Lama tries to quit: The Dalai Lama wants to retire from politics, but the Tibetan government-in-exile, based in India, may refuse to let him. The spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, the Dalai Lama has also headed the government-in-exile since the 1959 Tibetan uprising. The 75-year-old last week said he wanted to relinquish his political role. “If we have to remain in exile for several more decades, a time will inevitably come when I will no longer be able to provide leadership,” he said. “Therefore, it is necessary that we establish a sound system of governance while I remain able and healthy, in order that the exiled Tibetan administration can become self-reliant.” Most members of the parliament-in-exile oppose the proposal; they will vote on it next week.
Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaBibles can use ‘Allah’: In a concession to Christians, the Malaysian government agreed this week to distribute thousands of Malay-language Bibles seized by customs officials last year. The government had impounded the books because they translated “God” as “Allah,” a choice the government contended could “confuse” the majority Muslim population and even trick some people into converting. Proselytizing is illegal in Malaysia. The Bibles are to be released after being stamped “For Christians Only.” Malaysia is about 60 percent Muslim, 20 percent Buddhist, and 10 percent Christian.