News from around the World

Tuesday's World Events   —   Posted on February 8, 2011

DENMARK – Attack on cartoonist nets man 9 years in prison

Copenhagen | A court in Denmark on Friday handed down a nine-year prison term for a Somali-born man who a year ago attacked a Danish cartoonist whose depiction of the prophet Mohammed sparked outrage in the Muslim world.

The court in the western city of Aarhus on Thursday found the 29-year-old defendant guilty of the attempted murder of cartoonist Kurt Westergaard and ruled that the attack was an act of terrorism.

In its ruling, the court concluded that the defendant had tried to terrify the population and destabilize Danish society.

The cartoonist escaped unharmed after the man, armed with an ax and a knife, forced his way into Westergaard’s home on New Year’s Day in 2010. Westergaard fled into a panic room and alerted police.

His cartoon depicting Mohammed with a bomb in his turban, was one of 12 published by the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in 2005. Muslims worldwide were outraged.


ALBANIA – Albanian government latest to feel protest heat

Tirana | Thousands of Albanians converged on central Tirana on Friday to demand the government step down over corruption allegations, two weeks after a similar anti-government demonstration turned violent and left three people dead.

Protest marches were also being held in another three cities, including the town of Lezha northwest of Tirana, Vlora to the southwest and Korca to the southeast.

The demonstrations come two weeks after three protesters were shot dead in clashes with security forces during anti-government protests in Tirana. Another 150 were injured in the violence.

The opposition Socialists are demanding that conservative Prime Minister Sali Berisha hold early elections over allegations of corruption and vote rigging in the 2009 general election. But Berisha has refused to resign, accusing the opposition of trying to stage a coup.


EGYPT – Egyptian church bombed, cross stolen; no injuries

El-Arish | Assailants Saturday bombed an empty church in a northern Egyptian town, causing little damage and no injuries, security officials said.

Smoke billowed from the windows of the church and a cross from outside the building was stolen, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity. They said the assailants escaped. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The attack in the town of Rafah, on the border with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, comes amid unprecedented political unrest sweeping Egypt.

Rafah is located in the Sinai Peninsula, where Bedouin tribesmen have clashed with security forces during the popular revolt.


KUWAIT – Kuwaiti interior minister resigns under pressure

Kuwait City | Kuwait’s embattled interior minister stepped down Sunday amid rising political tensions that include calls for the first major Gulf street protests inspired by uprisings in Egypt and elsewhere.

Kuwait’s official KUNA news agency reported that Kuwait’s leaders accepted the resignation of the interior minister, Sheik Jaber Al-Khaled Al-Sabah, and replaced him with a close relative of Kuwait’s ruler.

Opposition groups have sharply escalated pressure on Kuwait’s leadership in recent months over claims of corruption in the oil-rich state and perceived attempts to roll back political freedoms. Kuwait’s political system is the most open in the Gulf and its parliament is one of the few elected bodies in the region capable of demanding reforms from rulers.

The change at the Interior Ministry could signal an attempt to weaken the calls on social media sites for street demonstrations Tuesday outside parliament to protest “undemocratic” practices by Kuwait’s government. If major crowds gather, it would mark the first anti-government rallies in the Gulf since the toppling of Tunisia’s strongman ruler last month touched off other Arab protest movements.


IRAN – Americans plead not guilty to spy charges

TEHRAN | Two Americans accused of spying appeared in a closed-door Iranian court session Sunday to begin trial after an 18-month detention that has brought impassioned family appeals, a stunning bail deal to free their companion and backdoor diplomacy by Washington through an Arab ally in the Gulf.

All three entered not guilty pleas during the five-hour hearing, said their lawyer, Masoud Shafiei. Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal appeared in court, while Mr. Bauer’s freed fiancee, Sarah Shourd, defied a court order to return to Iran for the trial.

Miss Sarah Shourd was released in September on $500,000 bail arranged through the Gulf nation of Oman, which maintains close ties to the West and Iran.

The Americans were detained in July 2009 along the Iraqi border where they were hiking.


(The news briefs above are from wire reports and staff reports posted at: News Briefs at on Feb. 5, 6 and 7, 2011 and World Briefs at on Feb. 6, 2011.)


1. For each of the 5 countries, give the following information:
a) the continent on which it is located
b) the name of the capital city
c) the type of government
d) the chief of state (and head of government if different) [NOTE: If monarch, since what date has he/she ruled; include name of heir apparent]e) the population

[Find the answers at the CIA World FactBook website. For each country: type of government, capital and executive branch (chief of state/head of government) can be found under the “Government” heading; population is listed under the “People” heading.  Go to for a list of continents.]

2. For Denmark:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Why did the Somali man try to murder the cartoonist?
c) The court found the attacker guilty and ruled his attack was an act of terrorism. It concluded that the defendant had tried to terrify the population and destabilize Danish society. Do you think a sentence of 9 years for this crime is too much, too little, or the correct amount of time? Explain your answer.

3. For Albania:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Media reports on Albanian protests and Prime Minister Sali Berisha vary. To gain a brief understanding of the Albanian government, and information on Sali Berisha, about them under “Resources” below the questions. Why does the Socialist opposition party demand that Prime Minister Sali Berisha hold early elections?

4. For Egypt:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) A cross from the outside of the church was also stolen. The bombing of the church did not generate much media attention. Do you think the bombing of a mosque would have received more media attention? What do you think the reaction in the Muslim world would have been if Christians bombed an empty mosque in Rafah? Explain your answers.

5. For Kuwait:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) How is Kuwait’s political system different from other Arab countries?

6. For Iran:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) What were the Americans doing in Iran at the time of their capture?

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  • The Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy began after twelve editorial cartoons, most of which depicted the Islamic prophet Muhammad, were published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005.
  • The newspaper announced that this publication was an attempt to contribute to the debate regarding criticism of Islam and self-censorship.
  • Jyllands-Posten published the 12 drawings after a local author said he was unable to find any artist willing to depict Mohammed for his upcoming illustrated book.
  • The publication of the images in Jyllands-Posten was condemned around the Islamic world, and led to the burning of embassies and a boycott of Denmark by Muslim nations. 
  • Islamic protests occurred across the Muslim world, some of which were violent. 
  • More than 100 people were killed as a result of the protests.


  • Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, but was conquered by Italy in 1939.
  • Communist partisans took over the country in 1944.
  • Albania allied itself first with the USSR (until 1960), and then with China (to 1978).
  • In the early 1990s, Albania ended 46 years of xenophobic Communist rule and established a multiparty democracy.
  • The transition has proven challenging as successive governments have tried to deal with high unemployment, widespread corruption, a dilapidated physical infrastructure, powerful organized crime networks, and combative political opponents.
  • Albania has made progress in its democratic development since first holding multiparty elections in 1991, but deficiencies remain.
  • International observers judged elections to be largely free and fair since the restoration of political stability following the collapse of pyramid schemes in 1997; however, there have been claims of electoral fraud in every one of Albania’s post-communist elections.
  • Although Albania’s economy continues to grow, the country is still one of the poorest in Europe, hampered by a large informal economy and an inadequate energy and transportation infrastructure.
  • A rough estimate of religious affiliation is: Muslim 70%, Albanian Orthodox 20%, Roman Catholic 10% (NOTE: percentages are estimates; there are no available current statistics on religious affiliation; all mosques and churches were closed in 1967 and religious observances prohibited; in November 1990, Albania began allowing private religious practice) (from




IRAN:  Read a news article on the American hikers in Iran at