French woman arrested in Tehran: “A pathetic diplomatic game”

Clotilde Reiss, a young French woman who taught French at the University of Isfahan, was stopped by the police in Tehran on July 1. A close friend of hers responds to accusations calling Reiss a spy. Marina El Khoury graduated from the Institut d’Etudes Politique in Lille the same year as Clotilde Reiss. The 23-year-old Lebanese woman has set up a Facebook group asking for her friend’s release. Read more...


Harley Davidson trying to cause offence?

One of our Observers in Japan, Lee Chapman, photographed this motorbike, complete with Swastika-shaped spokes, outside a Harley Davidson shop in Tokyo. Depending on how you look at it, it could represent the ancient Buddhist symbol for universal harmony, the infamous emblem of Nazi Germany, or, as Lee tells us, simply being "cool". Read more...


Cheating their way into uni, Bond style

Cheating is as old as exams themselves. In China however, cheating involves a cunning blend of technology, innovation, and acting. Rubbers with miniature screens, rulers with inbuilt cameras, earpieces... we're a long way from cheat sheets and writing on the inside of your pencil case. Read more...


Jewish comedian cancels Lebanon shows following Hezbollah bullying

Moroccan-French comedian Gad Elmaleh has been forced to cancel his performances at the Lebanese Beiteddine festival following a fierce propaganda campaign against him driven by Hezbollah. Read more...


How to disperse a protest, Chinese style

Last Tuesday we published a post about the violent clashes between protesters and the police in the central Chinese town of Shishou. This photo, published by a Chinese weekly paper, shows the technique the riot police use in order to push back the crowds. Each time the police gain around 20 metres of ground, they form a wall of officers to secure the area. Is this a method specific to China? If you know something about the way riot police work, leave a comment.


“Nobody forces me to wear the full veil, it’s my choice”

The French parliament has launched an inquiry into how many women wear head-to-toe Islamic veils in France. President Nicolas Sarkozy used the occasion to spell out that "the burqa is not welcome in France", leading to concerns that he would ban it in public places. A French Muslim explains to us why she chooses to wear the sitar - the Saudi full-face cover - and why Sarkozy's comments frighten her. Read more...


Wall Street Journal says Siemens-Nokia helps Iran tap Internet users: exaggeration?

According to the Wall Street Journal, a joint venture between mobile phone companies Nokia and Siemens built a "monitoring centre" within the government's telecom monopoly enabling authorities to inspect and intercept Web traffic. Read more..


Tehran: “I’m too scared to leave the house”

The day after Ayatollah Ali Khameni's speech in Tehran, thousands of demonstrators poured onto the streets, despite being told not to. The response from the authorities was severe. One of our Observers there gives his account of what was possibly the most violent day since the start of the protests. Read more...


Gigantic Three Gorges Dam viewed from space

These high quality images of China's Three Gorges Dam were captured by the International Space Station in April. It took 15 years to build the world's biggest and most powerful hydroelectric dam, and despite concerns over its human and environmental impact, it finally came into use last autumn. Read more...


Time Out upsets both Muslim and LGBT communities

A cover from Israel's Time Out magazine, showcased at last week's Gay Pride parade, has caused quite a scandal. The image is a photograph, taken from behind, of Muslims kneeling to pray, along with the title "You see here a threat, we see here an opportunity" (we decided not to publish it, you can see it here). Have they gone a step too far? Read more...