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THE OBSERVERS

A show produced with photos, videos and personal accounts from our Observers around the world - all checked by our staff here in Paris. Saturday at 10.15 am Paris time.

Latest update : 2013-02-05

Violence against gays in Russia, an attempt to apply "sharia law" in London, and more

This show is made up entirely of amateur images. We've seen time and time again how images captured by ordinary citizens then uploaded onto the Web can change history, or at least shift the balance of power. This week, we take a look back at some of those moments.

Story 1: Russia

We begin today with a young man who is brave to show his face. His name is Andrei Nasonov. He is openly gay, in a country - Russia - where that can be dangerous. There's a law making its way through the Russian parliament right now that will make it a crime to display "homosexual propaganda" such as kissing or holding hands. The law is backed by the Orthodox Church, and when Andrei and some of his comrades tried to demonstrate against it, they were met by a crowd of nationalist and religious thugs.

 

Story 2: United Kingdom

Next stop, London, for more religious intolerance, this time from young Muslims in the East End borough of Tower Hamlets. The borough has one of the highest populations of south Asians in Britain, mostly Muslims of Bangladeshi origin. Some of these young Muslims have posted videos online showing them hassling passers-by, telling them they're entering a "Muslim area" and should act according to sharia law.

Police have arrested two young men in connection with the videos, and have reinforced their presence in the area.


Story 3: World

Now for our weekly roundup of stories and images sent in by our Observers.

First stop Iran, and a grim machine - specially made to cut off fingers. It's well-known that theft is punishable by amputation in Iran, but it's rare for the authorities to draw attention to it. In this case one of Iran's official news agencies published photographs of the amputation machine. Our Observer Mahmoud follows human rights in Iran. He said he'd never seen such a device before, and wondered if its publication was a way of intimidating potential protesters ahead of the presidential election in June.

Now further north, to Azerbaijan. The country’s oil wealth has made many people rich, but many more have stayed poor and tensions sometimes fray. That’s what happened in the central city of Ismailli, when a young hotel owner crashed his Chevy Camaro sports car onto a sidewalk. No-one was injured, but there was an argument. A crowd gathered, and turned on the driver, torching his hotel and the luxury cars parked outside. Our Observer Rashad says they were angry because they believed the hotel owner was a relative of the governor. The next day several hundred people came out to call for the governor to resign, but he refused.

Last stop, a beach resort in Queensland, Australia covered in foam. It was kicked up by a passing tropical storm, Oswald, last month. The gusts of wind whipped the sea into foam that covered the beach, and found its way into the streets of the town itself

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