- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 22, 2007

FRANCE

Newspaper cleared in prophet cartoons

PARIS — A French court cleared a satirical weekly newspaper yesterday in a case brought by Muslims who were angered by its publication of caricatures of the prophet Muhammad.

The newspaper Charlie Hebdo and its director, Philippe Val, were accused of “publicly abusing a group of people because of their religion.” Mr. Val had risked a six-month prison sentence and a fine of up to $29,250.

The court ruled that Charlie Hebdo showed no intention of insulting the Muslim community with the caricatures, several of which appeared first in a Danish paper and sparked angry protests across the Muslim world and in Europe.

SOMALIA

Al Qaeda names new commander

MOGADISHU — The Somali government said yesterday that al Qaeda had made a young militant Islamic commander its leader in Mogadishu as fighting raged for a second day in the coastal capital.

Deputy Defense Minister Salad Ali Jelle told a press conference that Aden Hashi Ayro — an Afghanistan-trained commander in his 30s who runs the Islamists’ feared Shabab, or military wing — was personally directing the growing insurgency.

The United States and the Somali government have long accused Ayro and other Islamist leaders of links to al Qaeda.

AFGHANISTAN

28 Taliban killed in clashes

KANDAHAR — Fighting between Afghan forces and Taliban militants in a volatile southern province yesterday killed at least 28 militants, officials said.

The Afghan army and police carried out a joint operation in the Gereshk district of Helmand province, said Sher Mohammad Karimi, the Defense Ministry’s chief of operations.

GERMANY

Judge rules Koran allows wife’s abuse

BERLIN — Germany was outraged yesterday after it emerged that a female German judge had refused a Moroccan-born German woman permission to file for divorce on the grounds that the Koran allows husbands to beat their wives.

“Where are we living? Woman judge allows beating in marriage … and invokes the Koran,” said a front-page headline in Germany’s top-selling Bild newspaper.

The Central Council of Muslims in Germany also condemned the decision.

Another judge will now hear the case.

PAKISTAN

Hindu named acting chief justice

ISLAMABAD — Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf yesterday appointed a Hindu judge as Pakistan’s new acting chief justice as the government stepped up efforts to defuse a crisis over the suspension of the country’s top judge.

Justice Rana Bhagwandas, the only Hindu judge at the country’s Supreme Court, will replace Justice Javed Iqbal, who was appointed acting chief justice on March 9 when the president suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

MOZAMBIQUE

Arms-depot blasts cause panic in capital

MAPUTO — A fire broke out and explosions rocked Mozambique’s national-weapons depot in the capital yesterday, shaking buildings in the city center and sending thousands of people streaming from their homes in panic.

President Armando Guebuza appealed for calm on national television as firefighters and military officials tried to control the blaze. He said several people had been injured but didn’t elaborate, adding that casualty figures would be released today.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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