- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 3, 2008

TURKEY

125,000 protest head-scarf plan

ANKARA — Some 125,000 Turks, mostly women, denounced the government yesterday over its plans to lift a decades-old ban on Islamic head scarves at universities in the mainly Muslim but secular nation.

Many Turks, including the country’s influential military establishment, see the move as a serious threat to the country’s traditional separation of church and state. The government has defended its plan as a reform needed to give its citizens religious liberty and bring Turkey in line with European Union human rights guidelines.

Parliament is expected to approve a series of legal amendments this week allowing female students to wear head scarves.

TAIWAN

President visits disputed islands

TAIPEI — Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian made a landmark visit to the disputed Spratly Islands yesterday to assert a territorial claim in a move likely to upset China, Vietnam and other nations.

The visit was to assert Taiwan’s sovereignty — a card the ruling party had been using to try and woo voters ahead of the presidential elections on March 22, during which a referendum will also be held to ask voters whether Taiwan should join the United Nations under the name “Taiwan.”

The Spratly Islands, a string of rocky outcrops in the South China Sea possibly holding large oil and gas deposits, are also claimed by neighboring Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines.

LEBANON

Soldiers ordered held in protesters’ killing

BEIRUT — A Lebanese judge yesterday ordered the arrest of three army officers and eight soldiers over the killing of opposition protesters a week ago in some of Beirut’s deadliest street violence since the 1975-90 civil war.

Shi’ite-Muslim Hezbollah, a powerful group backed by Syria and Iran, had said the army mishandled Sunday’s incident, which occurred after troops opened fire to break up a protest in south Beirut over power cuts. Seven supporters of Hezbollah and a Shi’ite ally were killed and some 30 protesters were wounded in the violence.

COLOMBIA

FARC rebel wanted in kidnappings held

BOGOTA — A female Colombian guerrilla wanted in the United States for the kidnapping of three Americans and trafficking cocaine has been captured by the army near Venezuela’s border, authorities said yesterday.

The army said the capture of Luz Dari Conde Rubio, known as “Doris Adriana,” was a blow to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which has had three top leaders seized or killed over the last year.

Authorities said Rubio formed part of a FARC front involved in drug smuggling and the kidnapping of U.S. contract workers Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell and Thomas Howes, who were captured in 2003 when their aircraft crashed during an anti-drug mission.

BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA

Muslim ex-fighters protest deportations

ZENICA — Several thousand Muslim ex-fighters and their supporters protested yesterday against a Bosnian government plan to start deporting foreign volunteers who stayed in the country after the 1992-95 war.

Thousands of fighters from the Middle East and Africa arrived in Bosnia to fight alongside Bosnian Muslims against Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Croats. Most left after the war but hundreds stayed on after marrying local women.

Under pressure from the United States, Bosnia has revoked over the past two years more than 600 of the 1,300 citizenships awarded to foreigners.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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