JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has taken precautions to prevent disease spreading among pilgrims next month after a Qatari man was infected with a virus related to the deadly SARS, a health ministry official said yesterday. The World Health Organisation put out a global alert on Sunday saying a new, previously unknown, virus had infected a 49-year-old Qatari man who had recently travelled to Saudi Arabia, where another man with an almost identical virus had already died. Muslims from some 160 countries flock to Makkah and Madinah during the annual Haj pilgrimage, which begins in late October. Some arrive by plane, others by boat or by car. “The Health Ministry has taken preventative measures to deal with the influx of over 2 million Haj pilgrims,” said Ziad Memish, the deputy minister for public health.
Daughter of Bahrain oppn leader sentenced
MANAMA: The daughter of a jailed rights activist in Bahrain was sentenced yesterday to two months in prison for damaging property at the police station, including tearing a picture of the Gulf nation’s king, officials said. Rights groups denounced the court’s decision. They accused authorities in the tiny, but strategically important Gulf kingdom of escalating crackdowns on protesters from the Shiite majority, which is seeking a greater political voice in the Sunni-ruled nation. A statement from Bahrain’s Information Affairs Authority said Zainab Al Khawaja would complete the sentence within a week because of time served awaiting trial. She will remain detained for other “more serious charges,” the statement said.
Turkey moves to ban anti-Islam movie
ANKARA: An Ankara court ruled yesterday in favour of a government petition to block Internet access to an amateurish American-made anti-Islam film that has sparked protests across the Muslim world. The court ruling came after the government filed a complaint for removal of the video content from the web, on grounds that it caused “uneasiness in our country and in the world,” and contained provocative elements. A ministry official said the government was seeking to ban links to the video but not block video-sharing websites themselves. “The access to the videos in question has been blocked to a great extent through Internet providers,” the ministry said.
Iran jails media chief close to Ahmadinejad
TEHRAN: A top aide to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who heads Iran’s official Irna news agency, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, was arrested and jailed yesterday, Irna reported. Javanfekr was detained as Ahmadinejad was delivering a speech at the annual UN General Assembly in New York, the news agency said. It said Javanfekr was taken to Tehran’s Evin prison, apparently to serve a six-month sentence on charges of publishing material offensive to Islamic codes and public morality that were upheld by an appeals court in February this year.
Kuwait to pass budget via decree: Report
KUWAIT: Kuwait expects to approve its 2012/13 budget by emiri decree soon, finance minister Nayef Al Hajraf told state-news agency Kuna yesterday. A political stand-off in the Gulf state meant the Opec member’s parliament has yet to approve the budget for its 2012/13 fiscal year which started in April. “We expect the issuance of a decree on that draft at the earliest opportunity,” Hajraf said after a meeting with Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah and other economic officials, Kuna reported.Agencies