Top Shi”ite cleric bans ‘honor killings’
BEIRUT — Lebanon’s top Shi’ite Muslim cleric Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah yesterday issued a fatwa, or religious edict, banning so-called honor killings as repulsive acts that contradict Islamic law.
Sheik Fadlallah, the spiritual leader of Shi’ite fundamentalists whose influence extends beyond Lebanon, said he was issuing the edict amid reports of an increase in the practice across the Arab world, particularly in “Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon.”
In Islamic countries, many men kill their sisters, daughters or other female relatives on the pretext of committing acts against decency and honor. Laws in many Arab and Muslim countries stipulate extenuating circumstances for such crimes.
100 killed in train accident
KINSHASA — An overnight train derailed in central Congo after its brakes failed, killing about 100 people, government officials said yesterday.
The train’s locomotive stopped responding to controls as it traveled between the city of Ilebo and the provincial capital of Kananga, said Medard Ilunga, head of Congo’s state railway agency.
The U.N. peacekeeping force in the country has sent helicopters with doctors, nurses and medical equipment to the site to help with the relief effort, a spokesman said.
$405 million contract for French arms OK’d
TRIPOLI — A Libyan official said yesterday that Moammar Gadhafi’s long-isolated country has signed contracts worth $405 million with French companies for missiles and communications equipment.
A spokesman for French President Nicolas Sarkozy would not confirm the deal but said there appeared to be one. French officials denied that any deal to sell military equipment was in exchange for Libya’s releasing six imprisoned medics last month.
The first contract, worth $230 million, is for Milan missiles, and the second, totaling $175 million, is for advanced Tetra communications and surveillance equipment for the police, said the Libyan official.