Row over Miss Belgium photo shoot at Morocco mosque - 07 November 2012

Rabat: The finalists in the Miss Belgium 2013 beauty contest have ruffled feathers in Morocco after posing, casually clad, outside the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca, the largest in the conservative Muslim kingdom. In one photograph, taken on Monday and published widely on the Internet, 10 of the 20 smiling young women pose in front of the enormous mosque, wearing hot pink vests and miniskirts. The initiative did not go down well with Attajdid, the paper of the Party of Justice and Development, the ruling Islamist group elected in November. "This behaviour could provoke discord and instability. It’s an attack on a place of worship,” the paper grumbled in an editorial.

"Who authorised these young women to pose right in front of the mosque?” it demanded, quoting a lawyer, who added that the interior ministry should open a inquiry. The picture also prompted furious outbursts on Moroccan news websites. "I’m outraged by these photos, which touch our identity and our religion,” wrote one commentator on, one of the most popular such sites. But Assabah, another Moroccan daily, made light of the subject, running an article entitled "Ladies in Wonderland.” Darline Devos, the president of the national Miss Belgium committee, apologised for any upset caused by the aspiring beauty queens, who are in Morocco for photo shoots. "We should adapt to Moroccan traditions,” she said, when contacted. Man sets himself on fire outside Erdogan’s office ANKARA: A man who apparently had financial problems set himself alight outside the building housing the Turkish prime minister’s office in Ankara yesterday, Turkish media reported.

The man doused himself in petrol and set himself on fire, but security staff quickly extinguished the blaze, Hurriyet newspaper reported. Television footage showed medical staff carrying the conscious man on a stretcher towards a waiting ambulance.

The incident came two days after a gunman entered the same building in Ankara and fired three blank rounds into the air as the prime minister held a cabinet meeting inside. There were no casualties in that incident and the man, who has previous criminal convictions and was known to the security services, was arrested. (continue reading...)