Miss World pageant continues
to stir up controversy
The Nigerian federal state Zamfara has issued a Fatwa (religious
decree) calling on Muslims to murder journalist Isioma Daniel because
of her column regarding the controversial Miss World pageant in
Nigeria (see Actueel, October and November 2002). The Nigerian government
has condemned the death sentence. According to the government, the
Fatwa violates the constitution.
Daniel, a journalist for the Nigerian newspaper ThisDay, defended
the Miss World Pageant against Muslim critics. She wrote that the
prophet Mohammed would probably have married one of the participants.
Repeated apologies from the newspaper have been to no avail. The
article incited bloody riots in the Northern Nigerian city of Kaduna,
where more than two hundred people were killed and hundreds more
wounded. In the past years, Kaduna has frequently been the stage
for battles between Muslims and Christians.
The organisation of the beauty contest denies any responsibility
for the riots and condemns the article in ThisDay.
Because of the violence, the finals of the Miss World pageant have
been moved from Nigeria to London. The event is not being wholeheartedly
welcomed there, either. British politicians and writers believe
the pageant should be cancelled out of respect for the victims of
of the newspaper ThisDay
The press release from the Miss
Education lags behind in many countries
Seventy of the 153 countries reviewed will not be able to improve
the level of education they offer before the year 2015. Some countries
will even do worse. These are the findings published in the UNESCO
report ‘Is the World on Track?’, which examines education
In 2000, international agreements were made at the World Education
Forum in Senegal regarding improvements in education. According
to the ‘Education for All’ (EFA) plan, all children
must have access to good, free primary schools before 2015. Also,
differences in education based on sex must also be eliminated and
illiteracy among adults should be cut in half. The report states
that 28 countries will not achieve any of these objectives. The
HIV epidemic and armed conflicts will prevent many states from freeing
up resources and manpower for education. In addition, there is a
world-wide shortage of teachers. If all children are to go to school
in 2015, 15 to 35 million additional teachers are needed.
More information: UNESCO report "Is
the World on Track?"
Hemingway estate leads to collaboration between Cuba and
Cuba and the United States are going to collectively manage the
Cuban estate of Ernest Hemingway. This primarily involves the large
quantity of materials that were stored for more than forty years
in the basement of Hemingway’s Cuban villa. The house belonged
to Hemingway from 1939 until his death in 1961. His widow then donated
the property to the Cuban state.
Cuba's National Council of Cultural Heritage and the Council for
Social Science Research in New York will collectively record all
the letters, photos and documents on microfilm. Copies of these
documents will go to a library in Boston, where they will be accessible
to the public. The collaboration is exceptional due to the US embargo
on relations with Cuba.
Anne Frank exhibition in India
The travelling Dutch Anne Frank exhibition: ‘A history for
today’ will be on display in India through January 2003. The
exhibition has previously been displayed in Austria, Finland and
the United States. The exhibition uses Anne Frank’s life story
to inform visitors world-wide about the Holocaust. The makers want
to demonstrate the great importance of tolerance for minorities
today as well.
Indian actors will simultaneously perform the theatre play ‘The
Diary of Anne Frank’.
and data on the site of the Anne
Third World economy benefits from free press
According to a recent publication by the World
Bank, freedom of the press plays an important role in the economic
development of the Third World. Independent journalists can monitor
governments and companies, and can thus prevent national resources
from being wasted. They also can inform peasant populations about
politics using radio broadcasts. This will make inhabitants of underdeveloped
areas more likely to vote for politicians who want to improve circumstances
in their regions. In addition, reliable information about national
economic developments will benefit financial markets. Nineteen prominent
authors, including Nobel prize winner Gabriel García Márquez,
collaborated in ‘The Right to Tell? The Role of Mass Media
in Economic Development’.
More information: World
Bank press release
Monks in Hong Kong oppose the advance of tourism
Buddhist monks in Hong Kong have threatened to close their doors
to visitors for a week. The threat is the result of discontent with
the government’s intention to build a tourist village around
the complex. The Po Lin monastery houses the largest sitting Buddha
statue in the world. The winding road to the abbey is an obstacle
to mass tourism so Hong Kong’s city managers want to build
a cable lift that can transport 4500 people an hour. This will enable
visitors to get to the neighbouring Disneyland, which will be ready
The monks have no objection to the funicular, but do object to the
hotels, restaurants and cafés that will be constructed at
the station. They fear that hotel guests will disrupt the evening
quiet. They are also opposed to the animal products the catering
facilities will sell. No meat or fish is eaten in the monastery.
For the time being, Hong Kong authorities’ promise to involve
the monks more closely in consultations has prevented the strike.
Dutch Institute for the Deaf introduces Islamic gestures
The Dutch Institute for the Deaf Effatha
has ordered the production of CD-ROMs and video tapes with 163 Islamic
gestures imported from Morocco. Dutch gestures did not allow the
deaf from Turkish and Moroccan families to communicate about Islamic
concepts. There is no Dutch equivalent for 'fasting' or 'praying',
for example. The list of concepts was formulated in collaboration
with an Institute for the Deaf in Morocco.
More information: Effatha
Arabic news station will broadcast in English
At the beginning of 2003 Al-Jazeera, the Arabic news station from
Qatar, will start broadcasting programs in English as well as Arabic.
Initially existing programs will be translated simultaneously. If
this is successful, a separate English language channel will follow.
The station, which became known in the West after the attacks on
11 September, hopes to reach a larger audience so that it can compete
with TV stations such as the BBC and CNN. Another motive for the
broadcasts is to offer people from the West, who do not understand
Arabic, a chance to see the world from another perspective.
Dagblad, NRC Handelsblad,
The Guardian, ABCNews,
BBC News, UNESCO,
Anne Frank Stichting,