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This Week in the World

This Week in the World | 9.23.19

Illustration credit: Peter Naktin

Protests Hit Egypt Amid Simmers of Discontent With Autocrat

By Hal Conte

At least 74 people were arrested in Cairo as protesters demanded the fall of the Egyptian government in two nights of ongoing demonstrations against President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, whose IMF-backed austerity programs have led to increased poverty and higher prices. The demonstrations were instigated by Mohamed Ali, a billionaire insider who has unveiled a series of videos alleging political corruption at the highest levels. Sisi has retorted by declaring Ali an Islamist and a womanizer. Protestors have faced teargas, armored vehicles, live ammunition and other forms of police violence, while jails have been packed with journalists, Islamists, and secular activists.

Photo credit: Reuters

Malta Faces Heat Over Treatment of Refugees

By Hal Conte

Malta has refused to allow over 180 migrants to enter the country while 256 have been permitted to say, raising protests from NGOs such as Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which allege discrimination. Many refugees have come via the ship Ocean Viking, operated by MSF. Malta has an agreement with other European states on sharing refugees but most have been forced to stay in the country as EU members continue to quarrel over immigration law. Meanwhile, Italy has taken a more lenient approach than under now deposed firebrand interior minister Matteo Salvini and has accepted two refugee boats this month.

Photo credit: AP

Argentina’s Kirchner Faces Jury As She Runs For Vice Presidency

By Hal Conte

Argentina’s left-wing populist ex-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is set to attend trial for the second time in one year even as she and her running mate Alberto Fernandez are considered almost certain to win October’s presidential elections. Kirchner is said to have been involved in corruption scandals where construction companies that bribed public officials received government contracts.She has denied the allegations and branded them as “lawfare,” a term used to describe politically motivated prosecutions. Judge Claudio Bonadino has demanded that her legislative immunity be removed so she can be jailed ahead of the trial, but such a move would risk backlash given her popularity with the country’s poor.

Photo credit: AFP

Indonesia Delays Vote Banning Sex Before Marriage, Other Penal Code Additions

By Lindsay Fink

An overhaul of Indonesia’s penal code has been met with intenational condemnation for criminalizing sex or cohabitation outside marriage, essentially criminalizing homosexuality in the process, as gay marriage is not recognized in Indonesia. Criticism of the president, spreading communist ideology and practicing black magic are also banned. It would also significantly restrict access to abortion and contraceptives. Upon outrage, President Joko Widodo said reforms would be delayed until October, however, the bill may still may pass during the next legislative session. 

Photo credit: AFP

Uncertainty Remains in Israel Following September 17 Elections

By Lindsay Fink

Israeli politics remain deadlocked after unprecedented snap elections saw Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud-led right-wing bloc and opposition parties led by ex-general Benny Gantz, leader of the center-right Blue and White Party, receive 56 seats each, short of the 61 needed to form a government. Preliminary estimates for Tuesday’s election show Blue and White with 33 seats, down two from April’s vote, to Likud’s 31, down four. Even with the left-Arab Joint List coalition endorsing Gantz in an unprecedented move, the decision of who to entrust with the responsibility of forming a coalition now rests on the shoulders of Israel’s president – usually a largely ceremonial role.


Global Climate Strike Kicks off With Largest-Ever Mass Climate Demonstration

By Lindsay Fink

4 million people participated in a Global Climate Strike on Friday, the largest-ever demonstration on the topic, with protests occuring in 163 countries. The protests kick off a week’s worth of actions coordinated to match the week-long U.N. Youth Climate Action Summit. Demonstrations took place on all seven continents, including Antarctica. Major strikes occurred in Mumbai, Sydney, Paris, Nairobi, Berlin and in nine cities across the U.S., including Philadelphia. New York’s protest was fronted by 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, largely credited for kickstarting the movement. Thunberg arrived in New York after a journey of more than a month on an emissions-free sailboat from England and spoke before the U.N. on Saturday.

Photo credit: Getty Images