Ali Msheik's wife has been waiting for three days in front of the place where he worked as a longshoreman to have news about his fate. Eliane, an artist, asks Christians and Muslims to pray for her son, a dentist, who is in intensive care. Young Christians and Muslims clean up streets and churches, “places of God”. In Beirut, death dis not discriminated. Everything at Holy Rosary Hospital, 300 metres from the site of the blasts, has been destroyed. Patients have been saved and now there is hope to rebuild the hospital. But “we need everything. We have to start from scratch; we need help and the government is unable to help us.”
The ruling party won two-thirds of the seats. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa wants to change the Constitution and restore full executive powers to the presidency. According to some analysts, his brother Mahinda, the current prime minister, might oppose the move. The main opposition force has been trounced.
On 4 June, at least 115,000 people defied a government’s ban and anti-pandemic rules to commemorate those killed in the massacre. Pro-democracy leaders Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Jimmy Lai have to appear before a court. Activists have been accused of holding and taking part in the demonstration. For the pro-democracy front, Beijing is behind the move.
Osman Aslan was a volunteer, informing Muslims about anti-coronavirus measures in the mosque. He died on August 2 from an apparent heart attack but the authorities kept the news under the wrap for days. The Istanbul Governor’s Office asks for “mercy from God”.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith rectifies some ambiguous formulas, seemingly more democratic and less clerical. Sacramental action takes place in the name of Christ “who acts in his Church”. The ministry is not the “exercise of a power”, nor manipulation of formulas to one’s liking.
After doctors and other healthcare workers, journalists are of the group most affected by COVID-19. Many complain that they have to do their job covering the pandemic from the frontline without personal protective equipment. In recent months 244 out of 340 newspapers have stopped publishing. “I don't know what to do,” says unemployed Catholic journalist.
President Michel Aoun blamed the explosions on unsafely stored ammonium nitrate. Port and customs officials have been placed under house arrest. Some suspect the presence of weapons. Former prime ministers are calling for "an international or Arab investigation" into the incident. The governor of Beirut says that people need food, clothes, material to rebuild their home; refugees need shelter. AsiaNews continues its “Help devastated Beirut’ campaign.
The blasts, dubbed Beirutshima, have sparked acts of solidarity and brought help from the whole world. The Lebanese are donating blood, sheltering displaced people, and cleaning the debris and rubble from the streets. Russia, Italy, United Kingdom, China, Iran, Iraq, the Emirates, and many others are sending medical supplies and food. French President Emmanuel Macron arrived on a solidarity visit. The number of dead stands at 137, whilst the number of injured tops 5,000. The needs of Beirut residents remain huge. AsiaNews continues its ‘Help devastated Beirut’ campaign.
The Archbishop of Bombay (Mumbai) prays for world peace, remembering the visits to Hiroshima and Nagasaki by Pope Francis (2019) and Pope John Paul II (1981).
The Japanese city was the target of the first atomic attack in history. The commemoration was scaled back due to the coronavirus emergency. For Archbishop Takami, the path to true peace requires the world to abolish nuclear weapons. For Pope Francis, the use of atomic weapons is “immoral”.
Most of the illegal border crossers are tourists bound for casinos in north-western Bokeo province’s Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone. The Chinese come in groups of 20, 30 or even 50 people. Authorities also deported 184 undocumented citizens of Myanmar. Laos has reported 20 confirmed cases of the virus and zero deaths.
A survey by Avrasya Research confirms that the move of the “sultan” has not electorally paid off. The ruling AKP party is backed by 35 per cent of voters; 12.4 per cent backs the pro-Kurdish opposition movement HDP. Less than 30 per cent appreciate the work of the president, who is rejected by 40 per cent of survey participants.
“Let us pray for the victims” of the explosions in Beirut as well as Lebanon said the pontiff, “so that, through the dedication of all its social, political and religious elements, it might face this extremely tragic and painful moment and, with the help of the international community, overcome the grave crisis they are experiencing.”
In the wake of tensions with Hezbollah, Israel denies any involvement in the explosion. The Arab League wants to know what caused the blast. The UN offers help to cope with the "horrific tragedy”. US President Trump does not rule out an attack. Iran pledges help "in any way necessary”.
The blast damaged Caritas headquarters. The charity is “ready to hand out aid,” said Fr Paul Karam, who stresses that “psychological support" to victims’ families is also fundamental. Some 200 employees and volunteers divided into 15 groups are already at work. Catholic schools and convents are open to those left homeless. AsiaNews and the PIME Foundation are ready to help the victims.