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WhatsApp, Instagram access restricted in Iran as anti-hijab protests enter 6th day

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Access to Instagram and WhatsApp have been restricted in Iran following escalating “anti-hijab” protests which have now entered the sixth day.

The protests were sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, who was said to have been arrested on September 13 for not wearing a proper hijab.

According to the BBC, the 22-year-old Amini died three days after her arrest and detention, and during her funeral, protests broke out.

Prior to the latest restrictions, Twitter and Facebook had been banned in Iran.

Netblocks, an independent non-partisan global internet monitor, also confirmed network restrictions.

“Users have also reported the disconnection or severe slowing of internet service in multiple cities since the first disruption was registered on Friday 16 September 2022,” NetBlocks said.

Also, WhatsApp, owned by Meta, has reacted to the reports of restrictions of its service in Iran.

“The core of our mission is to connect people privately. We are not intentionally disrupting access to our platform, nor are we blocking Iranian numbers. We do everything in our technical power to maintain our services and enable the use of all users in the world,” WhatsApp tweeted on Thursday.

According to a BBC report, Amini, a Kurdish woman from the north-western city of Saqez, was arrested by the morality police after she was accused of breaking a law requiring women to cover their hair with a hijab or headscarf.

She was said to have fallen into coma shortly after collapsing at a detention centre.

According to a statement by the United Nations (UN), Nada al-Nashif, UN high commissioner for human rights, has called for an investigation into the death of the 22-year-old, adding that there are reports that she was beaten on the head with a baton.

“Mahsa Amini’s tragic death and allegations of torture and ill-treatment must be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated by an independent competent authority, that ensures, in particular, that her family has access to justice and truth,” Al-Nashif said.

“The authorities must stop targeting, harassing, and detaining women who do not abide by the hijab rules.”

The police have denied that the deceased was mistreated and said she suffered “sudden heart failure”.

But her family insists that she was in good health before the arrest.

The compulsory dress code for women, which requires them to wear a headscarf and loose-fitting clothes, came into effect in Iran after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Meanwhile, the “morality police” in the country are responsible for enforcing strict adherence to the dress code.

Amid the restrictions to social media platforms, there have been videos of women burning their hijabs, while some have cut their hair in protest.

According to the Iran human rights organisation, as of Thursday, there have been “mass arrests”, while at least 31 civilians have been killed over the protests.

See some tweets on the protests below

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Donald Trump’s Organization found guilty of tax fraud

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Two The Trump Organization companies have been found guilty on multiple charges of criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records connected to a 15-year scheme.

The Trump Corp. and Trump Payroll Corp — the two companies — are owned by former United States President Donald Trump.

Juan Merchan, the justice who presided over the trial in state court in New York on Monday, said the Trump Organization — which operates hotels, golf courses, and other real estate outfits around the world — was found guilty on all charges of tax fraud.

The case centred on charges that the company paid personal expenses like free rent and car leases for executives — including Allen Weisselberg, former chief financial officer — without reporting the funds.

Trump was not charged in the case.

However, according to testimony during the four-week trial, the former president had a hand in the fraud as he reportedly signed bonus checks annually, paid private school tuition for Weisselberg’s grandchildren, authorised the lease for his luxury Manhattan apartment and approved a salary deduction for another executive.

While the company is not at risk of being dissolved, the charges could impact its ability to do business such as obtain loans or contracts.

“This was a case about greed and cheating,” said Alvin Bragg, Manhattan’s district attorney.

“The Trump Corporation and the Trump Payroll Corporation got away with a scheme that awarded high-level executives with lavish perks and compensation while intentionally concealing the benefits from the taxing authorities to avoid paying taxes.

“Today’s verdict holds these Trump companies accountable for their long-running criminal scheme.”

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Peru’s president, Pedro Castillo impeached and arrested after attempting to dissolve congress

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Peru swore in a new president on Wednesday following a day of political turbulence that saw former President Pedro Castillo arrested after making a last-ditch bid to cling to power.

Dina Boluarte, Castillo’s vice, was eventually sworn in, making her Peru’s first female president.

She was elected after a majority of 101 members in the country’s 130-person legislative body voted to impeach Castillo.

Earlier on Wednesday, the former president said he would shut down the opposition-controlled congress, launch a “government of exception,” and call for new legislative elections.

In a televised speech, he said “a new congress with constituent powers to draw up a new constitution” would be convened “within no more than nine months”.

“In response to citizens’ demands throughout the length and breadth of the country, we have decided to establish an exceptional government aimed at re-establishing the rule of law and democracy,” the leftist leader said.

His speech sparked outrage and angry accusations from both opposition politicians and his allies that he was attempting a coup. Many ministers also resigned from their positions.

Castillo attempted to dissolve congress hours before it was scheduled to begin the third round of impeachment proceedings against him since he took office in July 2021, but he was unsuccessful.

Boularte called for a political truce in her acceptance speech as the nation’s new leader.

She also announced the formation of a new cabinet that would include members of all major parties.

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German police arrests 25 people on suspicion of plotting coup

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The police in Germany have arrested 25 individuals across the country over an alleged plot to overthrow the government.

The suspects were alleged to be members of the Reichsbürger (Citizens of the Reich) movement.

The Reichsbürger is a far-right movement that does not believe in the legitimacy of the modern German state.

According to the BBC, reports from Germany suggest that the far-right group was planning to attack the Reichstag, the parliament building, and seize power.

Heinrich X111, a 71-year-old man, is alleged to have been at the heart of the movement’s alleged plot to overthrow the government.

Marco Buschmann, Germany’s justice minister, posted on Twitter saying the federal prosecutor-general is investigating a suspected terrorist network with ties to the Reichsbürger movement.

Buschmann said there is suspicion that the movement is planning an armed attack on constitutional bodies.

“Democracy is well defended: Since this morning, a major anti-terror operation has been taking place,” the minister said.

“The Federal Public Prosecutor is investigating a suspected terrorist network from the Reich citizen milieu. There is a suspicion that an armed attack on constitutional bodies was planned.”

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