Apr 22
Her eye on the news

Update: The two teenagers arrested in connection with the death of Lyra McKee have been released with no charges filed. On Tuesday, a 57-year-old woman was arrested in connection with the shooting death.

Two teenagers have been arrested in Northern Ireland in connection with the shooting death of 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee.

On Thursday, McKee was covering riots sparked by police raids against suspected militant nationalists in the border town of Derry. Shots were fired and she was struck and killed. Shortly before her death, she tweeted a photo of the chaos with the caption, “Derry tonight. Absolute madness.”

The shot that struck McKee was “fired indiscriminately,” according to Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy. “The gunman showed no thought for who may have been killed or injured when he fired these shots.”

The two suspects, ages 18 and 19, have not been identified. They were arrested under a terrorism law and are being held in custody in Belfast.

The riots took place in a neighborhood where many Irish nationalists live. It was once a place of widespread violence during the period of history known as the Troubles, when Irish nationalists battled with U.K. loyalists and British troops in Northern Ireland. The Good Friday Agreement, which ended the Troubles, was signed 21 years to the day before McKee’s death.

On Friday, at a vigil honoring McKee, her partner, Sara Canning, called her death a “senseless murder.”

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar also condemned the killing, calling it “an attack on all of us, our nation and our freedoms.”

Read more at the Washington Post.


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An Australian woman’s years-long search for her grandchildren ended in March, when she found them living in a sprawling refugee camp in Syria’s Kurdish northeast.

Karen Nettleton’s grandchildren were taken from Sydney to Syria in 2014 by their mother, Tara Sharrouf, who was intent on joining ISIS there. Sharrouf died in a Syrian hospital in 2015, orphaning her three children, Zaynab, Hoda and Humzeh. Since 2016, Nettleton has made three trips from her home in Australia to the Middle East in an attempt to bring home the three children, as well as two grandchildren, birthed by Zaynab in Syria after she was married to an ISIS fighter there at age 13.

Nettleton’s reunion with her children was filmed by Four Corners, an Australian TV news show.

Since locating them, Nettleton told the New York Times she is still awaiting word from the Australian government about how to bring them home. But she has so far received only vague promises of help from Australian officials, illustrating the complex dynamics of repatriating citizens — even children — who have become entangled with ISIS abroad.

For now, the five children remain in the refugee camp, where they are “not holding up well,” according to Nettleton.

“I won’t be coming home until I have those children,” she said. “I said that the last two trips but this one — there’s no way I’m leaving.”

See the show at Four Corners and read more at the New York Times.


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'Safety and privacy'

The United States Navy has launched an investigation after a female Marine found a hidden camera in a women’s bathroom on the USS Arlington, a military ship.

The Marine reported finding the device in March. Now, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is investigating the incident, according to NBC News, which broke the story on Friday.

“The command has taken, and will continue to take, all necessary actions to ensure the safety and privacy of the victim,” said Cdr. Kyle Raines. “The Navy/Marine Corps team takes all reports of sexual harassment seriously, and are committed to thoroughly investigating these allegations and providing resources and care to victims of sexual harassment.” He did not confirm whether the camera was capable of recording still photos or video.

According to a Rand Corporation study commissioned by the Defense Department, all of the service branches of the military struggle with sexual harassment and assault. According to the study, service members at Navy installations are at greatest risk for sexual assault.

Read more at NBC News.


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Three women in Malaysia are being investigated by the country’s Islamic authorities after holding an event that discussed their decision to stop wearing hijabs.

The event, titled “Malay Women and Dehijabbing,” doubled as a book launch for Unveiling Choice, authored by activist Maryam Lee about her decision to relinquish the hijab. Though perfectly legal to do so, the three-hour talk was flagged by Malaysia’s religious affairs minister, Mujahid Yusof Rawa, who urged the local Islamic authorities to investigate it.

On Tuesday, religious officers visited the bookshop that had hosted the event and demanded to see copies of the book. They also interrogated the staff about what had been discussed. Under investigation are Maryam and two other Malaysian women, Mohani Niza and Dian Sofia, who had also decided to no longer wear the hijab.

The investigation is notable, as Malaysia is seen as a tolerant and progressive Muslim-majority nation. Many Muslim women there decide not to wear a hijab. But the growing influence of the Malaysian Islamic party has caused some to worry that the country is at risk of sliding into a more radical form of Islamic conservatism.

Latheefa Koya, executive director of civil rights group Lawyers for Liberty, decried the investigation. “Let a woman think freely and choose whether they want to wear the hijab or not,” she said.

Read more at the Guardian.


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‘A great danger’

As the U.S. continues to sideline women from its peace talks with the Taliban, Afghanistan’s women musicians are increasingly striving to make their voices heard.

Negin Khpelwak, the country’s first female conductor and leader of the all-women Zohra Orchestra — another first for the conservative Islamic country — told Bloomberg News that she and other women will fight before they “go back to the dark days.” Khpelwak and her bandmates have been enjoying massive success both domestically and internationally; they recently returned from a sold-out tour of the U.K. and Sweden. But when performing in Kabul in February, she recalled, fear of violence from the Taliban and their supporters required them to put 700 attendees through as many as 10 security checkpoints manned by armed guards and dogs.

“They can break our instruments, they can ban the music, but they never take it from our hearts,” said Khpelwak.

When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, music of all kinds was banned and women were not allowed to attend school or even leave the house without a male escort. Concerns that the U.S. might sacrifice women’s rights in negotiations with the Taliban, who currently control or are contesting half of Afghanistan, have been exacerbated by America’s seeming acquiescence to Taliban demands that women be excluded from the peace process.

“If the Taliban comes back, it might be a great danger for us,” said violinist Gul Mina. “Their return could be a huge disaster to our lives and musical works.”

Read the full story at Bloomberg News.


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