Sunday news round-up: May 11th-17th

Top Story: Former Egyptian President sentenced to death: The former President of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, has been sentenced to death by a court in Cairo for his role in an alleged prison break during the height of Egypt’s recent civil unrest. Morsi was elected to serve as President in 2012 but was ousted in a vicious coup by current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Both Morsi and el-Sisi have been criticized by human rights groups for their repeated human rights abuses. A spokesman from Hamas called the ruling “a crime against the Palestinian people”, while Amnesty International referred to it as “a charade based on null and void procedures”. The court’s decision now rests with the Grand Mufti, who will decide whether Morsi’s execution will be upheld.

Nepal devastated by second earthquake: Just weeks after a deadly earthquake that ravaged infrastructure and left thousands dead, the central Asian country of Nepal has been hit again. The 7.3 magnitude quake has added more untold misery to the country, which has barely had time to recover from the first quake measuring 7.8, with at least 40 people reported dead and thousands more injured. At least eight million Nepalese people have been affected by the quake, with around two million of those needing emergency shelter and supplies, such as clean water. The Base Camp at Mt. Everest was also evacuated due to an impending avalanche risk.

Vatican City recognizes State of Palestine: The Holy See has officially recognized the Palestinian Territories as a state, in a treaty finalized this week. The Vatican previously welcomed a 2012 decision by the UN General Assembly to recognize Palestinian statehood, and has been informally referring to Mahmoud Abbas as the “President of Palestine” ever since. Soon after the announcement, Pope Francis referred to Abbas as an “angel of peace“. The Anti-Defamation League, which dedicates itself to branding criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic, called the move “premature”.

U.S. condemned by international human rights council: The UN Human Rights Council issued a scathing report against violence in the U.S. on Monday, criticizing the superpower for its use of racial discrimination and the detention of suspects without trial. Alba Morales from Human Rights Watch added to the report by stating “the fact that we still don’t have a reliable national figure to know how many people are killed by police or what the racial breakdown is of those people is a travesty”. The U.S. has faced a barrage of criticism in recent months over its Bush-era torture programme, detention without trial in Chicago’s Homan Square black-site, and for widespread police brutality toward African-Americans.

Jim Murphy to resign as leader of Scottish Labour: Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy intends to table his resignation next month, after only a few months at the helm. In his pre-resignation speech, Murphy blamed “two nationalisms” in England and Scotland for Labour’s failure at the recent General Election, and took aim at Unite general secretary Leon McCluskey, whom he accused of “instruct[ing] what the Scottish Labour Party does”. The Labour Party suffered a brutal defeat in May’s General Election, with the Scottish National Party taking almost every single seat they stood in.

Iran bans “devil worshipping” and “homosexual” hairstyles: The head of Iran’s barber’s union, Mostafa Govahi, claims he has been issued a government directive banning inappropriate hairstyles, including spiky or “Western” cuts. Govahi says that under the new directive barbers who cut hair in a “devil worshipping style”, or beauty clinics that perform eyebrow procedures on men will have their license revoked. Iran previously banned barbers from issuing ponytails, mullets and hair gel treatments to their male clients, citing the threat of Western influence, and tattoo procedures are also severely limited. Iran is one of the most, if not the most, repressive countries in the world for gay rights, and is one of only seven nations to still administer the death penalty for the ‘crime’ of being gay.

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