Egypt probes images of naked couple atop pyramid

Tue, 2018-12-11 16:05

CAIRO: Egyptian authorities have launched an investigation into images said to show a naked couple who scaled the Great Pyramid that has sparked outrage in the conservative Muslim country, an official said Tuesday.
In a video titled “Climbing the Great Pyramid of Giza,” Danish photographer Andreas Hvid appears to scale the 4,500-year-old tomb on the outskirts of Cairo at night with an unidentified woman who is later seen taking off her top.
Hvid says the video was taken in late November but it was published on YouTube on December 8.
A photograph released by Hvid appears to show the couple completely naked on top of each other while looking in the direction of a nearby pyramid with the horizon illuminated.
“The public prosecution is investigating the incident of the Danish photographer and the authenticity of the photos and video of him climbing the pyramid,” Mostafa Waziri, the secretary general of Egypt’s supreme antiquities council, told AFP.
If the video was actually filmed at the top of the pyramid, that would make it a “very serious crime,” Waziri said.
The nearly three-minute video has taken social media by storm and has been the subject of late night talk shows. It has notched up almost three million views on YouTube alone.
“A 7,000-year-old civilization has turned into a bed sheet,” a Twitter user in Egypt lamented.
Another protested that “they want to soil the dignity and pride of Egyptians because the pyramid reflects the glory and grandeur of the Egyptian people.”
The authenticity of the images has been disputed with some arguing the photograph showing the pair naked appears to be very bright whereas the video showed them scaling the pyramid at night.
Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Enany told government newspaper Al-Ahram that the video has stirred “anger and outrage among Egyptians,” and that officials in charge of guarding the pyramids would be punished if found to have been negligent.
Hvid, 23, explained back home to the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet that he had “dreamed for many years of climbing the Great Pyramid” as well as of taking a naked photograph.
“I’m sad that so many people have got angry but I’ve also received a lot of positive responses from many Egyptians,” he said in an interview.
The young Norwegian, who runs his own YouTube channel, said he had absolutely no interest in stirring up a crisis such as that triggered by cartoons in Western newspapers of the Prophet Muhammad.
As for the girl in the video, she was not his girlfriend. “It was just a pose. We did not have sexual relations,” Hvid said.
The Great Pyramid, also known as the Khufu pyramid, is the largest in Giza, standing at 146 meters (480 feet) tall, and the only surviving structure of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.
Climbing pyramids is forbidden in Egypt.
In 2016, a German tourist was barred from entering the country for life after he posted online footage of climbing one of the ancient structures.

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Lebanon’s Aoun says Israeli anti-tunnel action no risk to peace

Tue, 2018-12-11 16:06

BEIRUT: Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Tuesday he saw no risk to peace from an operation by Israel’s military to disable cross-border tunnels it says were dug into its territory by Hezbollah guerrillas.
Israel says Hezbollah, Lebanon’s most powerful armed group, dug the tunnels with the aim of launching attacks into Israel with backing from its regional sponsor Iran. Hezbollah has yet to comment.
“We certainly took this issue seriously — the presence of tunnels at the border — and Israel informed us via the United States that it does not have aggressive intentions and it will continue to work on its (territory),” Aoun told a news conference.
“We also do not have aggressive intentions… We are ready to remove the causes of the dispute, but after we obtain a final report and we set out the matters that need to be dealt with.”
During a televised visit to the border, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was “methodically dismantling the tunnel weapon,” and warned Hezbollah not to re-establish the front.
“If Hezbollah makes the big mistake of deciding in any way to strike at us or resist the (anti-tunnel) action we have undertaken, it will get hit with blows that it cannot even imagine.”
The UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, last week confirmed the presence of one tunnel near the Israeli town of Metulla. The force’s head, Major General Stefano Del Col, said on Tuesday that a second one had been found while Israel’s military said it had discovered a third.
Del Col, in a statement issued after meeting Aoun, said the matter was “serious.” UNIFIL was making “every effort to maintain clear and credible channels of communication with both sides so that there is no room for misunderstanding.”
Israel has said it is up to UNIFIL to deal with the tunnels on the Lebanese side of the border, and its military said it held the Beirut government responsible for “another blatant breach” of a UN resolution that ended a 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel.
Aoun, a political ally of Hezbollah, said in a separate statement that Lebanon was committed to implementing that resolution.
Israel and Hezbollah have avoided major conflict across the Lebanese-Israeli border since 2006, though Israel has mounted attacks in Syria targeting what it said were advanced weapon deliveries to the group.

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EU agency: More Iranian, Turkish citizens seeking asylum

Associated Press
Tue, 2018-12-11 (All day)

BRUSSELS: The European Union’s asylum office says people from Iran and Turkey are increasingly applying for international protection throughout the EU.
EASO said Tuesday that “Iran and Turkey have both been among the top five countries of origin over the past few months.”
It says that 3,170 Iranians applied for asylum in the EU in October, the highest number for more than two years. More than one in three Iranian applicants received protection in the past six months.
October saw a record 2,880 asylum applications lodged by Turkish citizens. Over the past six months, around 44 percent of Turkish applicants were granted refugee status.
EASO says more than 60,500 people applied for asylum in October, the highest monthly figure this year. Most were nationals of Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

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