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‘No to Sexism, No to Racism’: Syrian refugees hand out flowers in German protest

| blog, Cologne, L&B World, migrants, Syria, World | January 17, 2016

epa05105356 Protesters carry signs that read (L-R) 'we are against violence against women,' 'Syrians, Germans, and all nationas against sexism and racism,' 'Syrians against to the sexual assault of women,' 'Violence against women is no private matter,' and 'Regardless of religion, I¿am against sexism!' at the demonstration 'Syrian refugees say no to the Cologne assaults!' in Cologne, Germany, 16 January 2016. According to police reports, numerous women were sexually harassed and robbed in the throng in front of Cologne central station on New Year's Eve. EPA/MAJA HITIJ
Protesters in Cologne holding signs condemning racism and sexism (Picture: EPA)

Thousands of Syrians took to the streets of Germany to protest against sexism and racism.

Holding placards saying ‘No… Read the full story

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The amount of women travelling to Syria from the UK has increased

| blog, Islamic State (Isis), L&B World, Syria, UK | January 12, 2016

(Picture: Reuters/Mohammed Salem)
There were 56 women who fled to Syria last year (Picture: Reuters/Mohammed Salem)

The number of women and girls travelling from the UK to Syria to join ISIS has risen – after figures revealed that 56 fled to the war-torn country last year.

The new figures have led counter-terrorism officials to say that they are ‘deeply concerned’ – as many women are believed to be unaware that they will probably never be able to return home.

Previous figures released in July showed that 43 females were thought to have fled from the UK to Syria in the previous 12 months.

But latest figures have now revealed that some 56 girls and women were… Read the full story

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Syrian regime supporters are trolling the starving residents of Madaya with photos of food

| Bashar al-Assad, blog, L&B World, Syria, World | January 10, 2016


Madaya twitter trolling
Supporters of the regime are mocking starving civilians online (Picture: Facebook)

People are taunting starving victims in the besieged Syrian town of Madaya with photos of food.

Although there are ways of transporting food and medical supplies into the town, Madaya has been completely sealed off by the Syrian government and Hezbollah.

Syrian children call for the lifting of… <a href=Read the full story

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Syrian regime to allow aid into starving town

| blog, L&B World, Syria, Weird | January 7, 2016

A toddler is held up to the camera in this still image taken from video said to be shot in Madaya on January 5, 2016. Warnings of widespread starvation are growing as pro-government forces besiege an opposition-held town in Syria and winter bites, darkening the already bleak outlook for peace talks the United Nations hopes to convene this month. To match MIDEAST-CRISIS/SYRIA-TOWN  Handout via Social Media Website      ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS… <a href=Read the full story

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Has Jihadi Junior been found?

| blog, Islamic State (Isis), L&B World, Syria, World | January 4, 2016


An Isis child soldier who threatens the UK with fresh atrocities in a new execution video could be ‘Jihadi Junior’, the son of a jihadi bride from London.

In the clip, a boy dressed in military fatigues and wearing a black bandana promises to kill ‘kuffar’ – non believers. In the same video, five men in orange jumpsuits are murdered by a masked executioner.

The child, who is believed to be around six years old, may be the son of Grace ‘Khadijah’ Dare, a woman who grew up in south London and posted a photo on Twitter of her son Isa holding an AK-47 back in 2014.

MORE: Isis execution video features new British ‘Jihadi John’ – so what does it mean?

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The 15 most-read stories in 2015

| blog, France, Greece, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, L&B World, migrants, Myanmar, Nepal, refugees, Somalia, sports, Syria, Turkey | December 30, 2015

© AFP - 2015


These were the 15 most-read stories in 2015 on our AFP Correspondent blog. We wish all our readers a happy New Year.

These were the 15 most-read stories in 2015 on our AFP Correspondent blog. We wish all our readers a happy New Year.

1. War in peace, by Aris Messinis

Children huddle under emergency blankets after arriving in Lesbos in October. (AFP/Aris Messinis)

(AFP Photo / Aris Messinis)

AFP's chief photographer in Greece Aris Messinis knows what a war looks like. He's covered conflicts in Syria and Libya. He has seen death and suffering. But covering the migrants arriving in their hundreds on the shores of the Greek island of Lesbos has affected him more.

"You constantly realize that you're not in a warzone. That you're working in a place where there is peace...  the human pain is the same as in a war, but just knowing that you are not in a warzone makes it much more emotional. And much more painful."

Continue reading...

2. Fleeing through the eye of a needle, by Bulent Kilic

Syrians fleeing the war rush through broken down border fences to enter Turkish territory, near the Turkish border crossing at Akcakale in Sanliurfa province on June 14, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC)

(AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)

"We have been on the Turkey-Syria border for a week now, within sight of Tal Abyad where Kurdish forces are battling Islamic State jihadists for control," writes AFP's Bulent Kilic. "On Sunday, June 14, thousands of people fleeing the fighting suddenly appeared from behind the hill and swarmed down towards the border fence. Everything happened in five minutes. It was like a Hollywood film."

"I have been photographing this refugee crisis for nearly four years now, but yesterday was different. Almost every woman had children with her. I have never seen anything like it."

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3. Lives cut short

The makeshift memorial at Le Carillon. (AFP/Loic Venance)

(AFP Photo / Loic Venance)

Their names were Bertrand, Chloe, Halima or Thierry. They were a student, a banker, a mechanic or a waiter. Most were in their 20s and 30s. All died in the Paris attacks of November 13 or in the days that followed from their injuries.

A small team of AFP journalists was put in place after the tragedy to try and collect at least a few personal details about each of the victims. The result is an interactive database, so that the death toll is not just a number, and so each victim has a face.

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4. From streets of fear in Mogadishu to "paradise in Paris", by Mohamed Abdiwahab

Somalis play football as the sun sets on August 11, 2015 at Lido Beach in Mogadishu (AFP Photo / Mohamed Abdiwahab)

(AFP / Mohamed Abdiwahab)

"Are there any happy moments in Somalia?" AFP photographer in Mogadishu Mohamed Abdiwahab asks himself. "I can't say there have been any ever since I started this job. But sometimes I feel happy when there's a calm moment and I can photograph people relaxing at the beach or playing football… Those are real moments of joy for me."

"But I know that the next day, or even that afternoon, the violence and the chaos will return. So I can never be 100 percent happy."

Continue reading...

5. 'Those disguised as Arabs', by Andrea Bernardi

Infiltrated members of the Israeli security forces detain a Palestinian stone thrower and aim their weapons at fellow protesters during clashes in Beit El, on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Ramallah, on October 7, 2015 (AFP / Abbas Momani)

(AFP Photo / Abbas Momani)

"It's fairly common to see Israeli agents infiltrate the crowds of Palestinian stone throwers during demonstrations", writes Jerusalem-based video reporter Andrea Bernardi. "I've witnessed this plenty of times in Jerusalem. The goal of these 'moustaarinine' -- literally 'those who disguise themselves as Arabs' -- is to stop the protesters. They usually take out their weapons without using them, or, more often, point them into the sky, as if they were about to shoot into the air."

"But today I for the first time filmed these undercover agents firing live bullets into a crowd of protesters".

Continue reading...

6. From one nightmare to another, by Christophe Archambault

(AFP / Christophe Archambault)

(AFP Photo / Christophe Archambault)

"We are here in the hope our pictures can put a human face on this crisis," writes the AFP photographer Christophe Archambault, who travelled to the Andaman Sea to find a boat carrying hundreds of migrants from the persecuted Rohingya minority, adrift off the Thai coast. "My first reaction is shock. Their faces are completely emaciated. You can see their ribcages, their pointed shoulder bones. We are witnessing a situation of absolute horror."

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7. Photography: telling art from fraud, by Roland de Courson


(KCNA Photo)

The above image was never distributed to AFP's clients. Issued by the North Korean agency KCNA in 2013, it purports to show military manoeuvres in the east of the country. But analysis of the missile fire and smoke, using specialist software, revealed a series of anomalies indicating it had been manipulated. It is, in all likelihood, a doctored image. This is an extreme case, but fraud in photography is far from limited to North Korea, Syria or extremist propaganda movements. On February 12, an unprecedented number of entrants were disqualified from the World Press Photo awards for tampering with their images - reviving an old debate about the fine line, in photojournalism, between artistry and fraud.

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8. The Fall, by Valeriano Di Domenico

FIFA President Sepp Blatter leaves after a press conference at the headquarters of the world's football governing body in Zurich on June 2, 2015 (AFP / Valeriano Di Domenico)

(AFP Photo / Valeriano Di Domenico)

"When AFP calls at five pm on Tuesday evening, to ask me to cover a last-minute press conference at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich, I have little idea I will be getting a front-row seat to football history," writes the photographer Valeriano Di Domenico. "When Sepp Blatter announces his resignation, I can’t believe my ears. But suddenly I realise none of the shots I have taken so far illustrates the magnitude of what is taking place. THE picture, the one that symbolises the fall of the boss of world football, will be the one of him leaving the room."

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9. 'The lucky ones', by Serene Assir

Migrants check their mobile phones on a beach after reaching the Greek island of Kos on August 12, 2015 (AFP Photo / Angelos Tzortzinis)

(AFP Photo / Angelos Tzortzinis)

"It’s 4:00 am, stars fill the velvet night sky and the Aegean Sea is perfectly still", writes AFP reporter Serene Assir. "A few journalists gather at the beach in Greece’s resort island Kos, waiting in silence on an unlikely frontline of Europe’s worst migration crisis since World War II. Today, like every other day, scores of refugees and migrants fleeing war and misery will reach the shore on inflatable boats, dreaming of a better life in Europe."

“Greece? Turkey? Where am I?” pants a man in his forties as he clambers out of the dinghy, tearing off his bright orange life vest. “You’re in Greece,” I reply. Overcome with emotion, he kneels down on the sand to pray, grateful that he has made it to Europe alive."

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10. The crying man, by Sakis Mitrolidis

A July 3, 2015 photograph shows Greek pensioner Giorgos Chatzifotiadis crying outside a national bank branch in Thessaloniki (AFP PHOTO /SAKIS MITROLIDIS)

(AFP Photo / Sakis Mitrolidis)

"Suddenly a man emerged from the bank yelling and gesturing, holding in his hand a savings book and his ID card," writes the AFP photographer Sakis Mitrolidis, who took the viral picture of a Greek pensioner weeping on the street. "Immediately I picked up my camera and started shooting. The poor man. After seconds he collapsed to the ground."

"Some people have suggested it is THE defining picture of the Greek crisis. I don’t see it that way. I think it tells part of the story."

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11. Whipped by the sharia police, by Nurdin Hasan

An Acehnese woman convicted for 'immoral acts' reacts after being lashed by a hooded local government officer during a public caning at a square in Banda Aceh, Aceh province, on June 12, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / Chaideer MAHYUDDIN)

(AFP Photo / Chaideer Mayhuddin)

"It's not clear if the caning itself was responsible for the young woman collapsing, or the trauma of being punished so publicly before an enormous crowd," writes Nurdin Hasan, an AFP correspondent in Aceh, the only province in Indonesia allowed to implement Islamic sharia law, where public canings for "immoral acts" have been on the rise.

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12. I'm going to be buried alive, by Roberto Schmidt & Ammu Kannampilly

A cloud of snow and debris triggered by an earthquake flies towards Everest Base Camp on April 25, 2015 (AFP / Roberto Schmidt)

(AFP Photo /Roberto Schmidt)

Roberto Schmidt, AFP’s South Asia photo chief, and Kathmandu bureau chief Ammu Kannampilly had just reached Everest base camp on assignment on April 25 when an avalanche - triggered by the earthquake that has killed more than 5,000 in Nepal - thundered down the mountain leaving at least 18 people dead. This is the story of their near-fatal experience.

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13. Six months in India: my best-of video, by Agnes Bun

An Indian woman's face is smeared with colored powder during celebrations of the Holi festival in the Sivasagar district of northeastern Assam state on March 6, 2015 (AFP PHOTO)

(AFP Photo)

"In February 2015 I moved to New Delhi to become AFP’s South Asia video coordinator", writes journalist Agnès Bun. "While I had travelled to the region before and did my homework after I got the job, I soon realized that I would have to expect the unexpected. All these moments, all these faces, do not always find their place in a news agency’s video output. That is why I wanted to gather them in a personal video, in a tribute to a unique and fascinating country that I have barely started to explore and which reminds me every minute that there are still so many brave, resigned or mischievious smiles left to be captured and shared."

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14. 'Little Schoolboy' at Charlie Hebdo, by Karim Talbi

An editorial meeting at Charlie Hebdo in 2001 (AFP / François Guillot)

(AFP Photo / Francois Guillot)

"Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists were not my friends. They were my first family in journalism, the one you can never fall out with," AFP's Karim Talbi, who started his career at satirical weekly, writes in tribute to his friends, murdered by Islamic extremists. "I would never be where I am today without the good old Wolinski, Cabu, Charb and Tignous."

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15. Invited to a porn shoot: 'I'll wait outside', by Alastair Himmer

Japanese porn actor Ken Shimizu, known as Shimiken (AFP / Yoshikazu Tsuno)

(AFP / Yoshikazu Tsuno)

"When Japanese porn king 'Shimiken' tweeted that there were more Bengali tigers than male porn actors in Japan, AFP Tokyo felt obliged, nay duty-bound, to launch a forensic investigation into this cause célèbre," writes Alastair Himmer. "But this would be no ordinary assignment. Not by a long chalk."

Continue reading...

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US man ‘tries to join Al Qaeda in protest at his country’s gay marriage laws’

| blog, L&B World, Syria, World | December 25, 2015

Adam Shafi
Adam Shafi

A US man allegedly tried to join Al Qaeda in Syria because he was unhappy at the legalisation of same sex marriage.

Adam Shafi, 22, said the country was ‘heading in the wrong direction’ after the Supreme Court ruled to allow equal marriage in all 51 states.

Authorities claim the Californian tried to board a flight to Turkey to join the terrorist group’s Syrian branch, al Nusra, after backing out of joining Daesh (Islamic State) last year, the Daily Beast reports.

His alleged rationale for this was that Daesh was too brutal and killed too many fellow Muslims, but Al Qaeda were more moderate.

MORE: #NHSworkingXmas: Doctors and… Read the full story

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Video shows fighter in Syria narrowly avoiding missile

| blog, L&B World, Syria, World | December 23, 2015

This video apparently shows a militant driver narrowly avoiding being blown up by a rocket in Syria.

But we’re not sure if the escape was down to his skills or it was just pure luck.

We’re going with the former as the missile was tracking the Hezbollah fighter and if he’d moved earlier it would have changed course and hit his truck.

MORE: These photos show what it can be like to be a mother in prison

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Syrian refugees thrown surprise wedding by Facebook users

| blog, L&B World, Syria, World | December 16, 2015

A Syrian refugee couple have more than welcomed by their new neighbours in Canada – they have had a wedding reception paid for by them.

Mohamad Al-Noury, 21, and his wife Athar Farroukh, 23, fled to Canada shortly after getting married in their country.

Unfortunately for them all photos of their big day were lost in the chaos of war.

MORE: CCTV shows moment cyclists collides with high-speed train, escaping with only bruises

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Heart-breaking footage shows Syrian children crying for their mother after airstrike

| blog, L&B World, Syria, World | December 16, 2015

This was the heart-breaking moment two children called out for their mum ‘following an air strike in Syria that killed 49 people’.

The video allegedly showed the youngsters running through the rubble filled streets after the bombing close to Damascus on Sunday.

After a few moments a little girl in a red coat can be seen running towards a paramedic screaming ‘mama’, she was then followed by a boy who shouted the same.

MORE: Castaway who survived 15 months at sea is being sued $1m for ‘eating his colleague’

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