Black Lives Matter.
After the murder of George Floyd, the attention has fallen on institutional racism in America and the UK. Floyd was restrained and knelt on for more than eight minutes by a white police officer while handcuffed and face down on the ground. He was literally suffocated to death.
Black Lives Matter is a movement that calls for non-violent protest against police brutality towards black people in America and the lack of police accountability.
The movement started in 2012 following the freeing of George Zimmerman after he killed Trayvon Martin, a black teenager. BLM has come to the forefront after the brutal killing of George Floyd in May 2020.
Protests have been taking place in the UK too. Black Lives Matter UK is a coalition of black activists and organisers across the UK. The killing and subsequent protests in the UK have started a national debate over Britain’s colonial history. One demand made by protestors is the toppling of statues associated with racism including slave owners and colonialists such as Edward Colston whose statue was pulled down and thrown in the river by protestors.
Black people suffer from excessive use of force by police in Britain and are more likely to be charged and imprisoned. Official figures show that police in England and Wales were three times more likely to arrest a black person than a white person and five times more likely to use force against them in 2018-19. These figures are unacceptable as they indicate towards a racist police force and judiciary.
Mission to Mars
The United Arab Emirates is sending a satellite to Mars. The spacecraft is called Hope.
The mission aims to find out more about how Mars became barren by studying its weather and climate. The probe has taken six years to build. Sarah Al-Amiri is the scientist in charge of the mission and is also the UAE minister of state for advanced sciences. 34% of the people working on the project are women.
So far the UAE has only launched satellites into Earth’s orbit. This is their most ambitious project yet. The journey is 500 million km and it will reach its destination in February next year.
The UAE government is attempting to move away from dependence on oil and gas towards a knowledge economy.
Mosque to Museum Back to Mosque
Turkey has made the decision to convert the Hagia Sophia from a museum back to a mosque. It has been a museum for 86 years and will re-open to worshippers from July 24. The move has prompted condemnation from governments including the US and Russia. Hagia Sophia was a Greek Orthodox Christian cathedral for nearly 1,000 years before being converted into a mosque in 1453 and a museum in 1935.
Turkey is facing criticism from the European Union, Greece and leaders of the Orthodox Christian church. Turkey has argued that the move is a question of national sovereignty and that there are several mosques in Spain that have been converted into churches without criticism.