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Iran bans English being taught in primary schools

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Iran has banned English from being taught in primary schools after the country’s Supreme Leader said learning the language in the early years paved the way for a Western “cultural invasion”.

A senior education official announced the language had been banned because the Iranian culture of students is established during primary level education. 

In Iran, where Persian is the country’s official national language, primary school starts at the age of six and lasts for six years.

While the teaching of English generally starts in middle school in Iran – which students attend around the ages of 12 to 14 – some primary schools below that age also have English classes. 

“Teaching English in government and non-government primary schools in the official curriculum is against laws and regulations,” Mehdi Navid-Adham, head of the state run High Education Council, said on state television late on Saturday.

He continued: “This is because the assumption is that, in primary education, the groundwork for the Iranian culture of the students is laid”.

He said non-curriculum English classes may also be blocked under the new rules.

Iran’s Shia-Islamist leaders have often issued pleas about the risks posed by a “cultural invasion”. 

In 2016 Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who holds the final say in all state matters, expressed fury about the “teaching of the English language spreading to nursery schools”.

According to the text of that particular speech to teachers posted on a website run by his office, Khamenei said: “That does not mean opposition to learning a foreign language, but [this is the] promotion of a foreign culture in the country and among children, young adults and youths.”

“Western thinkers have time and again said that instead of colonialist expansionism … the best and the least costly way would have been inculcation of thought and culture to the younger generation of countries”.

It is worth noting that the quality of English education in schools has been deemed not satisfactory by many and most of the students are forced to take English courses privately in order to gain a better grip of the language. 

Despite the fact there was no specific reference to the announcement coming after more than a week of protests against the clerical establishment and government, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have claimed the turmoil was also fuelled by foreign opponents.

Thousands of young and working-class Iranians showed their anger at unemployment and the growing polarisation between the upper echelons of society and those at the bottom living below the poverty line.

After six days of demonstrations, the Revolutionary Guard on Wednesday said it had deployed forces to quash unrest in three provinces where most of the trouble had occurred. This was the clearest indication authorities were taking the protests seriously.

The Revolutionary Guard was instrumental in suppressing an uprising over alleged election fraud in 2009 in which dozens were killed.

Iranian officials said the most recent protests which swept more than 80 cities and rural towns resulted in 22 people being killed and more than 1,000 being arrested.

Additional reporting from agencies

Independent

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Middle East

Iraq sentences German woman to death for joining Isis, reports say

- 1516551522 mosul - Iraq sentences German woman to death for joining Isis, reports say


An Iraqi court has sentenced a German woman to death after she ran away to join Isis.

The court in Baghdad convicted the unnamed German woman of “providing logistical support and assistance to the terrorist group to commit crimes” and has ordered her execution.

The spokesman of the Supreme Judicial Council, Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar, says the woman acknowledged joining Isis after travelling from Germany to Syria and then to Iraq along with her two daughters. Both daughters later married militants. 

She is believed to have been living in the Mannheim region of Germany when she travelled to Syria but is reportedly of Moroccan descent. 

The woman is believed to have been among a number of women in July 2017 who were captured after the Battle of Mosul when Iraqi forces pushed Isis out of Iraq’s second city.

She now faces hanging but can still appeal her sentence, Mr Bayrkdar said.

Iraqi forces have detained a number of foreign women after they drove Isis from its former territory in northern and central Iraq. 

It is estimated that over 27,000 foreign fighters, including 6,000 Europeans, have travelled to Iraq and Syria since the start of the Arab Spring in 2011 but not all of them have joined Isis, according to data published by the Soufran Group.

A Russian Isis fighter was sentenced to death in Iraq last year for joining the hardline group.

Meanwhile one of those in prison awaiting trial is German teenager Linda Wenzel who ran away to Syria when she was just 15 years old. 

Wenzel also faces the death penalty if convicted of aiding Isis. Iraqi authorities say she admitted to working as a sniper during the battle but Wenzel claims she was mostly kept as a domestic servant.

Iraq declared victory last month over Isis, which had seized control of nearly a third of the country in 2014. However, the terror group continues to carry out bombings and other attacks in the country.

Additional reporting by agencies​

Independent

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Middle East

France Calls for Urgent UNSC Meeting Over the Turkish Attack on Afrin

- 6d35699da25d5ed17995fd336cb43987 L - France Calls for Urgent UNSC Meeting Over the Turkish Attack on Afrin


ERBIL — French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian confirmed that his country has called for an urgent United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the ongoing Turkish military incursion into the Kurdish-held Syrian Canton of Afrin.

“France has requested an urgent meeting of UN Security Council,” Le Drian said on his Twitter account.

He urged those involved in the conflict to stop the fire immediately and open the path for humanitarian aid to reach the affected area.

French foreign minister talked to his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier, following which he said in an official statement that Ankara is urged to restraint and end any action which could further deteriorate the humanitarian situation in Syria.

“France is attentive to the security of Turkey, its territory and borders. Paris calls on the Turkish authorities to exercise restraint in the complicated context of a humanitarian situation in several Syrian regions in view of military activities of Damascus and its allies,” reads the statement.

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Middle East

YPG Repels Turkish Ground Attack Near Afrin

- 483e465d9a269f55d26c3cdda3226147 L - YPG Repels Turkish Ground Attack Near Afrin


ERBIL — The US-backed Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) on Sunday repelled the first Turkish ground offensive on Bulbul district of Afrin Canton.

The Turkish troops, accompanied by heavy arms and tanks, were marching towards the territories of  Balia village when faced fierce resistance from the YPG fighters, said Hawar news agency (ANHA).

Many Turkish artillery and heavy arms are said to have been forced to retreat while there remains some attacking troops, according to the same source.

 

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