- The Washington Times - Friday, February 22, 2002

Anti-America rally erupts during pilgrimage

MOUNT ARAFAT, Saudi Arabia Thousands of Iranian pilgrims called for the death of Israel and the United States yesterday at the climax of their sacred journey to Islam's holiest place.

Two million Muslims from across the world waves of men in seamless white robes and veiled women in long dresses climbed Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia for the annual hajj pilgrimage.

But at a rally in the Iranian complex, Iranians angry that the United States had labeled their country as part of an "axis of evil" chanted, "Death to Israel, death to America," in defiance of a Saudi ban on political demonstrations.

Probe starts in train blaze

CAIRO As investigators tried to uncover the cause of a fire that turned a train into an inferno, a growing number of voices demanded punishment yesterday for those to blame for Egypt's worst train disaster and criticized the government for negligence.

The death toll was 363 in the Wednesday disaster and a team of 70 government investigators and coroners led by Egypt's top prosecutor began its inquiry into the cause, interviewing the driver, railway engineers, ticket conductors and other witnesses.

On the eve of a major Muslim holiday when families traditionally gather for a feast, victims' relatives converged on Cairo's main morgue, trying to find the remains of their loved ones among bodies burned beyond recognition.

Obese could get free airplane seats

MONTREAL Obese people may get a free extra seat when they catch a flight in Canada, after an unprecedented legal ruling that is rattling the airline industry.

The ruling stemmed from a complaint brought by a Canadian woman who had to pay 50 percent more for a first-class seat to accommodate her girth on an Air Canada flight between Ottawa and Calgary in 1997.

Linda McKay-Panos brought a discrimination lawsuit against Air Canada before the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA), an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal with authority over access issues on federally regulated modes of transportation.

Israeli court recognizes conversions to Judaism

JERUSALEM The state must officially recognize conversions to Judaism by Reform and Conservative groups in Israel, the nation's Supreme Court has ruled a landmark decision that the non-Orthodox groups praised as a step toward equality for their movements.

The effect of Wednesday's ruling by the 11-justice panel seems limited for now. It would force the Interior Ministry to identify those converted by non-Orthodox rabbis as Jews in the "nationality" clause on their identification cards, but the Orthodox Jewish establishment that controls marriages, divorces and burials for Jews could continue to refuse services to such converts.

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