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At Cannes, Iranian Director Rasoulof Recalls Difficult Exile Decision

FILE PHOTO: Cast member Setareh Maleki and director Mohammad Rasoulof attend a press conference for “The Seed of the Sacred Fig” (Les Graines du figuier sauvage) in competition at the 77th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, May 25, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof recalled how he had to decide within hours whether to go into exile or serve a prison sentence, saying it was still difficult to talk about it during a press conference at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday.

Rasoulof was in the French Riviera town for the premiere of his new drama “The Seed of the Sacred Fig,” almost two weeks after announcing he had fled Iran and entered into exile in the wake of his sentencing to eight years in jail and flogging.

After he learned that he had a week left before his sentence would be implemented, things moved quickly, he said, especially as authorities had caught wind of the existence of his new film.

“I had to say to myself, well, do I want to be in prison, or should I leave Iran, geographic Iran, and join the cultural Iran that exists beyond its borders?” recalled the director.

“It took me two hours to make the decision. I walked around, I paced around my house. I said goodbye to my plants that I love, and I have many, many plants in my house,” he added.

Then, Rasoulof left all his belongings and walked out of the house. “It’s not an easy decision to take. It still isn’t easy even to talk about it today with you,” he told journalists.

Iran‘s culture minister Mohammad Mehdi Esmaili told state media this month that Rasoulof’s film had been made illegally and there would be a crackdown on movies without permits.

“The Seed of the Sacred Fig” is about a court official who grows increasingly controlling of his family during the 2022 protests over the death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman arrested by the morality police for allegedly flouting dress codes.

The film drew the longest standing ovation at the festival after its premiere on Friday night and was well received by critics who called it “mesmerizingly gripping” and “shattering.”

The director, who has been arrested and detained several times for charges ranging from filming without a permit to “collusion against national security,” said that the idea for the film came from years of confrontation with secret services.

“All these characters were inspired by real people, all the scenes come from real situations,” he said, adding that experience has also made him adept at avoiding secret services.

“Our life is fairly similar to that of gangsters, except we are gangsters of the cinema,” he joked at the news conference.

The post At Cannes, Iranian Director Rasoulof Recalls Difficult Exile Decision first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Will Hostage-Taking Journalist Abdallah Aljamal Be Added to CPJ ‘Casualty’ List?

The Al Jazeera Media Network logo is seen on its headquarters building in Doha, Qatar, June 8, 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon

One day after Israeli security forces rescued four Israeli hostages from their Gazan captivity, both the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security agency) confirmed that three of the hostages had been held captive in the family home of Abdallah Aljamal.

Aljamal, who was killed during the raid that freed the hostages, had previously served as a spokesman for the Hamas-run Gaza Labor Ministry and, as a journalist, had contributed to Al Jazeera, and served as a correspondent for The Palestine Chronicle.

His last article was published by the Chronicle one day before the Israeli rescue operation.

Abdullah Al-Jamal was not a “freelance contributor” for the Palestine Chronicle. As the outlet itself has repeatedly stated, he was in fact its “correspondent in Gaza.”

They clearly changed the bio to try and avoid legal repercussions pic.twitter.com/i6cu22ZXTE

— Eitan Fischberger (@EFischberger) June 10, 2024

With Abdallah Aljamal’s death as part of the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, it begs the question whether he will be added to the running list of “journalist casualties in the Israel-Gaza war” compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Since the start of the war, the CPJ’s list of journalist casualties has been used by a variety of news outlets, activists, pundits, and politicians to highlight the seemingly disproportionate number of Gaza-based journalists killed during Israel’s counter-terrorism campaign, and to question whether Israel is purposefully targeting reporters and other media workers.

However, as noted earlier by HonestReporting, a significant number of the journalists who appear on the CPJ’s list were in some way affiliated with Hamas and other anti-Israel terror organizations.

As of this writing (June 10, 2024), close to 50% of the 103 Palestinian journalists listed by the CPJ either worked for news outlets affiliated with terror organizations, or were active members in these organizations themselves.

While he was working as a so-called “journalist,” Abdallah Aljamal also held hostages captive for Hamas.

Shockingly, his death qualifies him for the Committee to Protect Journalists’ (@pressfreedom) list of media workers killed in the conflict. https://t.co/kfaLDXA7FM

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) June 9, 2024

If Abdallah Aljamal is added to the CPJ’s list, this will only highlight the problematic nature of the list by including terrorists and kidnappers among the ranks of killed Palestinian media workers, and will serve to further debunk the libel that Israel is targeting journalists in order to stifle their reporting capabilities.

If Aljamal is not included on the CPJ’s list of killed Gaza-based journalists, it will ultimately need to be asked what separates him from the likes of Hamza Al Dahdouh, Mustafa Thuraya, and Mohammad Jarghoun — all three of whom are accused of being active members of terrorist organizations and who appear on the list.

In either case, the mere possibility that Abdallah Aljamal, a Hamas member who helped hold three Israeli civilians hostage, will be added to the CPJ’s list of killed journalists is a cold reminder of the interaction between terrorism and civilian life in Gaza, the influence that Hamas has over the media in Gaza, and the untrustworthiness of outlets that turn a blind eye to these salient factors.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

The post Will Hostage-Taking Journalist Abdallah Aljamal Be Added to CPJ ‘Casualty’ List? first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Missile Barrage Hits Northern Israel, Emergency Services Report

Firefighters respond to a fire near a rocket attack from Lebanon, amid ongoing cross-border hostilities between Hezbollah and Israeli forces, near Kiryat Shmona, northern Israel, June 14, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Israeli emergency services reported dealing with a string of fires in northern Israel on Friday after dozens of missiles were fired from southern Lebanon into the area around the border town of Kiryat Shemona.

The military said that warning sirens had sounded in northern Israel and emergency services said teams were searching the area, where they reported there was property damage but no casualties.

Television footage on Friday showed damaged buildings and cars as well as brush fires in several locations caused by strikes or falling debris amid heatwave conditions.

The Israeli military has exchanged regular fire with Hezbollah forces across the border in southern Lebanon ever since the start of the war in Gaza in October.

Neither side has appeared to wish a wider conflict, but there has been growing worry that the steady intensification of strikes could push the situation out of control with the risk of a wider conflict in a region that has already seen direct exchanges between Israel and Iran.

The latest salvo came after an Israeli strike killed a senior commander from the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist group in southern Lebanon on Tuesday, drawing the heaviest bombardment of northern Israel since the start of the war in October last year.

Tens of thousands of residents have been evacuated from their homes on both sides of the border, creating growing pressure to resolve the stand-off, but diplomatic efforts have so far proved fruitless.

On Friday, the Israeli military said fighter jets and anti-aircraft systems had intercepted 11 of the 16 drones launched by Hezbollah against Israel in the past 72 hours.

“The Israeli Air Force is continuing to operate at all times to thwart terrorist activities and protect Israel‘s skies from any threat,” it said in a statement.

The post Missile Barrage Hits Northern Israel, Emergency Services Report first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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G7 Warns Iran Over Continuing Nuclear Program Escalation

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Italian President Sergio Mattarella, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and European Council President Charles Michel pose for a family photo as they arrive to attend a dinner at Swabian Castle in Brindisi, Italy, June 13, 2024. Photo: Italian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

The Group of Seven leaders warned Iran on Friday against advancing its nuclear enrichment program and said they would be ready to enforce new measures if Tehran were to transfer ballistic missiles to Russia, according to a draft communique.

“We urge Tehran to cease and reverse nuclear escalations, and stop the continuing uranium enrichment activities that have no credible civilian justifications,” the statement seen by Reuters said.

Iran has rapidly installed extra uranium-enriching centrifuges at its Fordow site and begun setting up others, a UN nuclear watchdog report said on Thursday.

Iran is now enriching uranium to up to 60 percent purity, close to the 90 percent of weapons grade, and has enough material enriched to that level, if enriched further, for three nuclear weapons, according to an IAEA yardstick.

Iran must engage in serious dialogue and provide convincing assurances that its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful, in full cooperation and compliance with the IAEA’s monitoring and verification mechanism, including the Board of Governors’ resolution of 5 June,” the G7 said.

Iran says its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.

The leaders also warned Iran about concluding a deal to send ballistic missiles to Russia that would help it in its war against Ukraine, saying they were prepared to respond with significant measures if it were to happen.

“We call on Iran to stop assisting Russia’s war in Ukraine and not to transfer ballistic missiles and related technology, as this would represent a substantive material escalation and a direct threat to European security,” they said.

The post G7 Warns Iran Over Continuing Nuclear Program Escalation first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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