Three Arab countries – Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates – have banned the Hollywood film 'Noah' on religious grounds before it has even been released. Noah is revered in Islam and an entire chapter of the Koran is devoted to him. Islam frowns on the depiction of holy figures in art. The film – which has a budget of $125 million and stars Oscar winners Russell Crowe and Anthony Hopkins – will premiere in the US on March 28.
Interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour announced a presidential election law on Saturday, setting the stage for polls to take place later this year to elect a new president to replace ousted leader Mohamed Morsi. The election is seen as a major step to restore order and stability in Egypt after the military deposed of Mosrsi in July. Army chief Abdel Fattah Sisi has emerged as Egypt’s most popular political figure but has not yet announced his candidacy, though his aides have confirmed that he intends to run.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has paid her first ever visit to Iran to discuss issues regarding Tehran’s nuclear program. It comes ahead of another round of talks between Iran and major world powers, Iranian media reported. Ashton’s visit will last two days, with bilateral, regional, and international issues to be debated. It’s also the first visit by an EU foreign policy chief since 2008.
Boeing said on Friday that “hairline cracks” had been discovered in the wings of about 40 787 Dreamliners currently on the production line, in yet another setback for the company’s newest jet. The cracks had not been found on planes in use by airlines and therefore do not pose a safety risk, Boeing said. However, the cracks could delay by up to a few weeks the date when airlines can take delivery of their new planes. Although the discovery will raise minor repair costs, it does not pose a major problem for Boeing, according to industry experts.
An Indian Airbus 320 jetliner with 170 people on board caught fire as it was landing in Nepal’s capital, Katmandu, on Saturday, AP reports. The right wheels of the plane ignited reportedly before it touched the runway, as the passengers complained of a “rubber burning-like smell.” Emergency workers quickly responded to the incident to control the fire and evacuate the passengers. No casualties were immediately reported. The jet belongs to Indigo budget airline and was flying from New Delhi.
A group of armed protesters who have been occupying oil ports in eastern Libya said they have started exporting oil, Reuters reports. Their first shipment is going by tanker under a North Korean flag. “We started exporting oil. This is our first shipment,” said a spokesman for the protesters. Earlier on Saturday, Officials at the state-run National Oil Corp (NOC) confirmed that the vessel was docked at the Es-Sider port, which was controlled by the group demanding autonomy and a greater share of the country's oil wealth. The unnamed NOC official said that the company informed the Libyan government and defense ministry “so they can take action,” and added that the crew of the Morning Glory tanker “are trying to buy oil illegally.”
A bomb blast at a tram station in eastern Cairo has injured at least one person, said Egyptian security officials. The bomb was one of two homemade incendiary devices that were planted at the station. Police succeeded in disabling the second device before it could be detonated.
A chemical weapons watchdog has announced that almost 29 percent of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile has been removed from the country. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed that another delivery of Syria’s most deadly weapons had arrived at Latakia port on Saturday. Syria is scheduled to complete the destruction of its entire chemical weapons stockpile by June 30.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Saturday that there is no room to compromise with Japan on issues of territory or history. China’s relations with Japan have deteriorated in the past 18 months over a dispute about a chain of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea that both nations claim as theirs. China’s ties with Japan have been poisoned for years, at what China sees as Japan’s failure to atone for its occupation of parts of China before and during the Second World War.
The political crisis in Ukraine has exposed the fact that reduction in defense might lead to political instability in Europe, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told the BBC. NATO’s chief called on politicians to reconsider priorities while investing in security and defense, stressing that while defense spending is costly, lack of security would entail more expensive.