- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 11, 2004

IRAQ

U.N. agency ‘disturbed’ by child abuse reports

GENEVA — The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said yesterday it was “profoundly disturbed” by reports that children might have been abused in prisons in Iraq.

NBC reported last week that unreleased videotapes, apparently made by U.S. personnel, show Iraqi guards at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison raping boys. British newspapers have reported that children were tortured under interrogation.

“Any mistreatment, sexual abuse, exploitation or torture of children in detention is a violation of international law,” UNICEF spokesman Damien Personnaz said.

SAUDI ARABIA

Documentary creates terrorism awareness

RIYADH — Saudi Arabian television yesterday broadcast a short documentary on how Muslim extremists are being groomed to become terrorists.

The Ministry of Information and Culture said “The Truth” is aimed at spreading awareness among the Saudi people about the threats of terrorism. “It shows how extremists educate their children to become terrorists and how they plan operations of destruction and terror,” the ministry statement said.

TURKEY

Military’s criticism of legislation rebutted

ANKARA — Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday defended an education-reform bill from military critics who say that making it easier for students of Islamic schools to hold public office will damage Turkey’s secular founding principles.

Mr. Erdogan, a graduate of a religious high school who came to power after a landslide general election victory on Nov. 3, 2002, told cheering members of parliament from his Justice and Development Party: “We promised our people” to make it easier for graduates of religious schools to enter universities.

The army noted that under existing laws “the sole purpose of Islamic schools is to provide an education to people intending to follow a religious calling.”

Weekly notes …

The founder and former leader of Algeria’s largest Muslim radical group, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), was executed last year by his former aides, L’Expression newspaper reported yesterday. Hassan Hattab was killed in the northeastern Kabylie region after being tried and found guilty of “treason and heresy” by his former right-hand men, who then took control of the GSPC, the newspaper reported, quoting a former GSPC member. … The Arab League’s canceled March summit is now set for May 22-23, but heads of state still must overcome some differences to make the meeting in Tunis a success, diplomats said yesterday. The summit is expected to produce a “strategic declaration” confirming the need to promote social and political reforms in the Arab world and the league itself, an Arab diplomat said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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