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Thursday 10th December 2020

Europe

In France the parliament is debating a new law, aimed at preventing Islamist radicalism. The proposed law would regulate Muslim spaces, such as mosques, and says that they must declare foreign financing. The law would also make it illegal for doctors to provide virginity certificates - which are sometimes demanded before marriage. Changes would also require interviews with people who are suspected of being in a forced marriage, and would prevent people who practice polygamy from receiving French residency. The words ‘Islam’ and ‘Muslims’ do not appear in the text of the law. The proposed law is supported by President Emmanuel Macron, however some rights groups say that it would discriminate against Muslims.

In Belgium, last night, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had dinner with EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen. Both the UK and the EU have said that they want to reach a trade deal this year, however, they have both now said that it is unlikely. Before going to Brussels yesterday, Boris Johnson told parliament that the EU’s conditions were unreasonable...

“A good deal is still there to be done and I look forward to discussing it with Commisoner von der Leyen tonight but I must tell the house that our friends in the EU are currently insisting that if they pass a new law in the future with which we in this country do not comply or don’t follow suit, then they want the automatic right (Mr Speaker) to punish us, and to retaliate. And secondly they are saying that the UK should be the only country in the world to not have sovereign control over it’s fishing waters. And I don’t believe (Mr Speaker) that those are ternms that any Prime Minister of this country should accept.”

Africa

In Ghana at least 5 people have been killed in violence since the general election on Monday. Official results have still not been released, however early results show president Nana Akufo-Addo winning 52% of the vote, and former President John Mahama winning only 47%. The European Union’s chief observer, Javier Nart, said yesterday that Ghanaians voted freely. However, Mahama has said that he has not yet accepted defeat...

“I want to thank the people of Ghana for what has been an exciting election. I want to state categorically and firmly that I have not congratulated any person.”

Ethiopia has rejected call for independent investigations into the conflict in Tigray. Thousands of people are thought to have died in the conflict, including civilians. The UN commissioner for human rights, former president of Chile Michelle Bachalet, has said that there is a need for independent monitoring of the human rights situation in Tigray. Ethiopia’s government has said that it doesn’t want foreign interference. Ethiopians are often proud of their unique history of never being colonised.

Americas

In Honduras and Guatemala, more than 400,000 people urgently need humanitarian aid, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council. The report says that 140,000 homes were destroyed by storms Eta and Iota. In Honduras 330,000 people lost access to emergency services because of damaged roads and communications systems. Storms Eta and Iota killed more than 250 people in Central America in November.

Canada has approved Pfizer’s COVID19 vaccine - the third country to do so, after the UK and Bahrain. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that vaccinations should start next week...

“But with these 249,000 doses coming in December we will be able to begin on the most vulnerable populations and make sure that we have the logistical grounding and foundation in place to be able to deliver right across the country, over the first months of 2021.”

Asia

Turkey has said that sanctions by the EU will backfire. The European Union is considering placing economic sanctions on Turkey for continuing to search for gas in the Mediterranean. Ibrahim Kalin, advisor to Turkish President Erdogan, said that economic sanctions on Turkey would make the chance of an agreement worse. France, Greece and Cyprus are leading calls for sanctions on Turkey, which has been searching for gas in seas claimed by Cyprus.

Sri Lanka has said that it will cremate the bodies of Muslim COVID19 victims, despite objections from their families. Islam prohibits cremation - the burning of dead bodies. Sri Lanka has said that all coronavirus patients’ bodies will be cremated, but rights groups have said that this is not an international recommendation.

And in the United Kingdom a video of one of the first people to receive the COVID19 vaccine has received millions of views. Martin Kenyon, who is 91, spoke to CNN on Tuesday morning, and he said that there is “no point in dying now”...

MK: That’s my intention. Yes - I don’t intend to have it. Well, there’s no point in dying now, when I’ve lived this long is there? I don’t plan to anyway.”

That’s your Simple English News for toDay. Find past episodes and transcripts at send7.org. I am Stephen Devincenzi. See you tomorrow.

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