DEVELOPING: A fire broke out in Turkey's capital city of Ankara Tuesday with initial reports indicating a large explosion, but Twitter reports later suggesting it was a fire in a large residential building. The report emerged less than a week after a failed coup in Turkey reportedly left more than 200 people dead. The government arrested dozens of military officials were and fired thousands of workers. The state-run Anadolu news agency reported those formally arrested included former air force commander Gen. Akin Ozturk, alleged to be the ringleader of the July 15 uprising, and Gen. Adem Hududi, commander of Turkey's 2nd Army, which is in charge of countering possible threats to Turkey from Syria, Iran and Iraq. Ozturk has denied the allegation, saying he neither planned nor directed the failed military coup.
ISTANBUL – The owner of a leading Persian-language satellite entertainment channel based outside of Iran was shot dead by unknown individuals in Istanbul in an unexplained assassination, Turkish media reports said Sunday. Said Karimian, the owner of the GEM TV Group and a British citizen of Iranian origin, was gunned down late Saturday along with a Kuwaiti business partner in the upscale Maslak district of Istanbul, the Hurriyet newspaper said. Initial reports on Saturday had said two Iranians had been killed, without giving the identities. In a statement on its Facebook page, GEM TV confirmed that Karimian had died but without making clear the circumstances of the death. "With great sorrow and regret we announce the death of Said Karimian," it said, describing him as a "great man who with a pure and kind spirit spent his life with honesty and sincerity for dignity of Iran.
When news broke on New Years Day that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had censored an episode of the Netflix series Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj that's critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, it wasn't a surprise. Saudi Arabia has a long history of censorship and human rights abuses, and the anti-cybercrime law the kingdom says the episode violated dates back to 2007. And though the rise of bin Salman was greeted by the US and Silicon Valley with enthusiasm, his reforms (women are finally allowed to drive) have come alongside continued abuses (hundreds of women "disappeared" for their activism). But the Netflix incident is also indicative of the pressures tech companies face beyond Saudi Arabia amid a global trend toward digital authoritarianism that shows no sign of slowing. Minhaj, an American comedian, devoted an episode of his show to the Saudi regime on October 28, weeks after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at its embassy in Istanbul.
Azealia Banks has apologised for a stream of racist and Islamophobic invective against former One Direction member Zayn Malik that led Twitter to suspend her. The rapper, who has long been notorious for provocative social media postings and has rarely voiced remorse, offered her "sincerest apologies to the world" in a posting on Instagram, where her account remains active. "Employing racial/sexual slurs/stereotypes in attempts to make fun of or degrade another person or group is not fair or fun for anyone," wrote Banks, who performed in Istanbul on Sunday. "Allowing my anger to get the best of me, I've managed to insult millions of people without reason. And for that I give my deepest apologies," she wrote late on Saturday.
Saudi dissident satirist Ghanem Almasarir, whose social media mockery of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gets millions of hits, said he is undeterred by Jamal Khashoggi's murder. Speaking at a protest on Wednesday outside the Saudi embassy in London, Almasarir said Khashoggi's slaying had shown the wider world a darker side to the power wielded by Prince Mohammed. "If they are not held accountable, they will continue to do it," the 38-year-old told AFP news agency, adding that many Saudi dissidents living in the UK were "afraid right now to leave their houses". Riyadh faces growing incredulity over its explanations about the killing of Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor and critic of Saudi policies. After he disappeared at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, Saudi officials said he left unharmed.