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Italian police find stolen da Vinci copy – which museum did not know was missing | UK News

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A stolen copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s 16th century Salvator Mundi painting has been found by Italian police, despite priests not realising it was missing.

Officers arrested a 36-year-old apartment owner on suspicion of receiving stolen goods after the 500-year-old oil painting was discovered in his bedroom cupboard.

The duplicate, attributed to the Leonardo school but not the Renaissance artist himself, went missing during the coronavirus pandemic but, because the musueum at the Basilica of San Domenico Maggiore in Naples has been shut, nobody realised it had been taken.

The painting is a copy of the Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World) by da Vinci that sold for a record 450 million dollars (£330m) at a Christie's auction in 2017.
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The original artwork was sold for a record $450m (£330m). Pic: AP

Police chief Alfredo Fabbrocini said the man was detained after he offered a “less than credible” explanation that he had “casually” bought it at a market.

Mr Fabbrocini said the discovery, made during a bigger police operation, was particularly satisfying because they “resolved a case before it was created”.

He explained: “The painting was found but its custodian had not realised it was stolen.”

The painting depicts a robed Jesus Christ with his hand raised in a blessing and holding a crystal orb, gazing at the viewer.

The painting is da Vinci's copy of the 16th century Salvator Mundi painting of Jesus Christ.
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The painting is a copy of da Vinci’s 16th century Salvator Mundi painting of Jesus Christ. Pic: AP

It is a copy of the Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World) by da Vinci that sold for a record $450m (£330m) at a Christie’s auction in 2017.

The unnamed bidder was later identified as a Saudi royal who purportedly bought it on behalf of the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

It was supposed to have been unveiled a year later at the museum, but the exhibition was delayed indefinitely and the work has not been seen in public since.

The San Domenico Basilica says the recovered painting was probably made by a Leonardo student in the 1520s and bought by Giovan Antonio Muscettola, an adviser to Emperor Charles V and ambassador to the papal court. It was housed in the basilica’s Muscettola family chapel.

It was restored prior to being exhibited in a 1983-1984 show “Leonardo and Leonardism in Naples and Rome”.

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Outrage in India over latest ‘honour killing’ as father beheads daughter after finding her with man | World News

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Outrage over so-called honour killings in India has been reignited after a father who found his daughter in a “compromising position” with a man severed her head with an axe – and then took it to his local police station.

The man walked through the streets of Hardoi district in northern Uttar Pradesh state carrying his daughter’s head, confessed to what he had done upon his arrival at the station, and was arrested, police said.

Superintendent Anurag Vats told the Thomson Reuters Foundation: “The man said he saw his daughter in a compromising position with a man and he beheaded her in a fit of rage.”

Shocking images of him carrying the 17-year-old girl’s head through the streets of Uttar Pradesh were shared online, reigniting urgent calls for the introduction of laws specifically dealing with so-called honour killings.

Madhu Garg, vice president of the All India Democratic Women Association’s Uttar Pradesh branch, said: “The issue of the right to choice needs immediate attention and a separate law should be made for dealing with honour killing.”

Human rights groups say thousands of women and girls are killed across South Asia and the Middle East each year by family members angered at perceived damage to their “honour”.

Perceived offences can include eloping, fraternising with men, or any transgression of staunchly conservative values regarding women.

Last month, a woman was burnt alive by her family members over an inter-faith relationship in Uttar Pradesh, local media reported, quoting police officials.

India officially recorded 24 honour killings in 2019, but campaigners say government statistics on honour killing mask
the true scale of the crime, with women at greater risk than men.

Almost 70% of honour killings in India are women, according to Arockiya Samy Kathir, the founder of non-profit campaigning group Evidence, which has for years worked on honour killings in south India.

In 2018, the Indian government asked all states to set up special cells comprising of police and welfare officers, as well as a 24-hour helpline, to help couples facing harassment or those seeking protection.

But campaigners say compliance has been poor.

High-profile cases of violence against women in India have sparked mass protests in recent years, although many of them are not related to honour killings.

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‘Today is the day I will die’ – Nun who opposed Myanmar military says she begged them for mercy | World News

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A nun who knelt in front of armed security forces in Myanmar to stop them firing on civilians has said she was prepared to die to save protestors’ lives.

In extraordinary scenes in Myitkyina, Kachin State, Sister Ann Roza Nu Tawng can be seen pleading with police and soldiers not to shoot.

The intervention has been called Myanmar‘s “Tiananmen moment”.

Sister Ann Roza Nu Tawng
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Sister Ann Roza says there are ‘brutal night arrests’

In footage from 28 February, a shot can be heard after a nun is seen walking towards the heavily kitted-out officers.

Sister Ann Roza, 45, told Sky News she thought she would die but was prepared to sacrifice her own life to save others.

This is her story in her own words:

On Sunday, I was at the clinic. I was giving treatment on that day as the other clinics were closed. I saw groups of people marching by. They were protesting.

Suddenly I saw police, military and water cannon following the protesters.

Then they opened fire and started beating the protesters. I was shocked and I thought today is the day I will die. I decided to die.

I was asking and begging them not to do it and I told them the protesters didn’t commit any (crime).

I was crying like a mad person. I was like a mother hen protecting the chicks.

Sister Ann Roza Nu Tawng. Pic: Myitkyiana News Journal
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Sister Ann Roza kneeling before the troops. Pic: Myitkyiana News Journal

I was running towards where they were beating the protesters. It was happening in front of this clinic. It was like a war.

I thought it would be better that I die instead of lots of people.

I was crying out loud. My throat was in pain, too. My intention was to help people escape and be free to protest and to stop the security forces.

I asked them not to continue arresting the people. I was begging them. At that time I was not afraid.

If I had been scared and run away, everyone would be in trouble. I was not afraid at all. I was thinking of the girl from Naypyitaw and the one from Mandalay.

I was thinking of all the fallen souls from the country. I was worried what was going to happen to the people of Myitkyina.

Sister Ann Roza Nu Tawng
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Sister Ann Roza says people ‘have to defend themselves’

When they reached the Banyan tree, I was calling them (the authorities) and telling them: ‘Please kill me. I don’t want to see people being killed.’

I was crying out loud and they stopped for a while.

One came to me and said: ‘Sister, don’t worry so much, we are not going to shoot them.’

But I told him: ‘They can also be killed with other weapons. Don’t shoot them. They are just protesters.’

In my mind I didn’t believe that they were not going to shoot them, as in many places I’ve seen they have shot people dead.

I brought (a protestor) to the clinic and gave him treatment. The police almost captured another one as he had fallen down. I stopped the police and asked them not to continue. That’s why the police didn’t. Otherwise, they would have arrested him and dragged him from there.

Sister Ann Roza Nu Tawng. Pic: Myitkyiana News Journal
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Sister Ann Roza says the military are ‘not the guardians of the people’. Pic: Myitkyiana News Journal

I feel like they (the military) are not the guardians of the people as you have seen what’s happening to the people.

People are not safe and there are brutal night arrests.

I felt really sad when I saw the video of a mother of a young one crying next to a dead body.

I also saw an ambulance was destroyed and medics were beaten with a gun.

They are supposed to protect us but our people have to defend themselves. It’s not safe. They (the security forces) arrest and beat those who they don’t like. They kill them.

There’s no one to protect Myanmar people.

People have to defend themselves and help each other.

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Pope arrives in Iraq for historic first-ever papal trip to nation despite fears over security and coronavirus | UK News

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The Pope has arrived in Iraq for an historic weekend visit which carries both symbolism and risk.

With a message of inter-faith tolerance, Francis will spend four days in Iraq in what is his first foreign trip in more than a year and the first-ever papal pilgrimage to the war-hit nation.

Francis, who wore a facemask during the flight, kept it on as he descended the stairs to the tarmac and was greeted by two masked children in traditional dress.

Iraqis gather near Baghdad’s international airport to welcome Pope Francis upon his arrival in Iraq.
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The Pope has arrived in Iraq as the country continues to deal with coronavirus cases
Pope Francis walks down the steps of an airplane as he arrives at Baghdad international airport, Iraq, Friday, March 5, 2021. Pope Francis is heading to Iraq to urge the country...s dwindling number of Christians to stay put and help rebuild the country after years of war and persecution, brushing aside the coronavirus pandemic and security concerns. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
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Pope Francis walks down the steps of an airplane as he arrives at Baghdad International Airport

A red carpet was rolled out at Baghdad International Airport with prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on hand to greet the pontiff.

A largely unmasked choir sang songs as the Pope and Mr al-Kadhimi made their way to a welcome area in the airport.

The Pope will visit the capital city Baghdad, the holy city of Najaf in the south, the ancient birthplace of Abraham at Ur and Mosul in the north, which became the capital of the so-called Islamic State (IS) in 2014 until its defeat in 2017.

Iraqis have been keen to welcome him and the global attention his visit will bring, with banners and posters hanging high in central Baghdad, and billboards depicting Francis with the slogan “We are all Brothers” decorating the main thoroughfare.

Pope Francis disembarks a plane as he arrives at Baghdad International Airport where a welcoming ceremony is held to start his historic tour in Baghdad, Iraq, March 5, 2021. REUTERS/Yara Nardi
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The pontiff’s cassock was blowing in the wind as he disembarked the aircraft
Pope Francis is received by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi upon disembarking from his plane at Baghdad International Airport to start his historic tour in Baghdad, Iraq, March 5, 2021. REUTERS/Yara Nardi
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Pope Francis is received by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi

In a video address before leaving the Vatican, the Pope said: “I have greatly desired to meet you, to see your faces and to visit your country, an ancient and outstanding cradle of civilization.

“I am coming as a pilgrim, as a penitent pilgrim, to implore from the Lord forgiveness and reconciliation after years of war and terrorism, to beg from God the consolation of hearts and the healing of wounds.”

In Mosul, which was liberated from the Islamic State by the Iraqi military in 2017, the Pope will hold a vigil in Hosh al Bieaa (Church Square) where he will pray for the victims of war.

He will then head east to the town of Qaraqosh for a Sunday service of prayer and remembrance at the Immaculate Conception Church.

The church was one particular focus for the Islamic State’s widespread barbarism.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi welcomes Pope Francis as he arrives at Baghdad International Airport to start his historic tour in Baghdad, Iraq, March 5, 2021, in this screen grab taken from video. Iraqiya TV/Reuters TV via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY
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Mr Al-Kadhimi, right, welcomed Pope Francis to the Middle Eastern country

IS followers used the church courtyard as a firing range. Furniture, statues, bibles and prayer books were also burnt in the courtyard and a black mark on the ground marks the spot where the desecration took place.

Before the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, an estimated 1.5 million Christians lived in the country.

Today, only about 200,000 remain, the rest have been driven out by sectarian violence.

Reconciliation between Christians and Muslims is a key message and the Pope will hold inter-religious meetings on Saturday at Ur.

The archaeological site is thought to be the birthplace of Abraham, the patriarch of the three monotheistic faiths – Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Among the most symbolic moments will be a meeting with Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani, the spiritual leader for millions of Shia Muslims and one of the world’s most influential Islamic scholars.

The two elderly men – the Pope is 84 and the Grand Ayatollah is 90 – will pray together in the holy city of Najaf. It is thought to be the first ever encounter between a pope and an Iraqi grand ayatollah.

The pontiff is visiting Baghdad during a fresh wave of coronavirus cases
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The pontiff is visiting Baghdad during a fresh wave of coronavirus cases
The pontiff will visit the holy city of Najaf in the south of the country
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The pontiff will visit the holy city of Najaf in the south of the country

The whole trip has been in jeopardy because of the dual threat of sectarian violence and the coronavirus pandemic.

Six weeks ago, two suicide bombers detonated bombs at a busy market in Baghdad killing at least 32 people. It was the first large-scale attack in the country for three years.

Followers of the Islamic State, who remain active in the country, are thought to have been responsible.

And this week, one person died after rockets hit a military base used by American forces west of Baghdad.

Militia aligned to Iran are likely to have been responsible – a retaliation for a US strike on Iranian militia targets along the Iraqi-Syrian border.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to hit Iraq hard with the country experiencing a new wave of cases.

Data from Wednesday showed 5,173 new cases with a seven day average of 4,095 cases a day. At least 13,000 people are known to have died after contracting the virus.

The Pope will visit the city of Mosul which was the capital of the so-called Islamic State
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The Pope will visit the city of Mosul which was the capital of the so-called Islamic State

The Iraqi government has imposed new lockdowns and the Vatican’s own ambassador to Iraq, Archbishop Mitja Leskovar, announced on Sunday that he had contracted the virus.

But Vatican officials say the Pope has been determined that the trip should go ahead.

Francis has received a vaccine and the entourage of officials and journalists traveling with him have also been vaccinated.

Iraqi authorities say they are confident that the risks can be managed. Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni described the visit as safe and socially distanced.

“All the precautions have been taken from a health point of view… The best way to interpret the journey is as an act of love; it’s a gesture of love from the Pope to the people of this land who need to receive it,” Mr Bruni told reporters before leaving Vatican City.

The Pope will hold a mass in a football stadium in the Iraqi-Kurdish city of Erbil on Sunday and concern remains about how spontaneous crowds can be prevented from gathering at all the events.

Iraq only received its first batch of vaccines four days ago, with 50,000 doses of the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine donated by the Chinese government arriving on Monday.

The country has also agreements to receive vaccines in due course from AstraZeneca and Pfizer.

The church in Qaraqosh was a focus for the Islamic State's widespread barbarism
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The church in Qaraqosh was a focus for the Islamic State’s widespread barbarism

Analysis: This is a poignant trip for Christian communities who have suffered so much

By Mark Stone, Middle East correspondent

“We are all brothers” – the motto for this rather extraordinary papal visit to Iraq.

The words, from Matthew’s gospel, represent the central message the Pope wishes to carry with him on a trip that is full of symbolism and solidarity but jeopardy too.

With sectarian violence a continued danger across Iraq and coronavirus cases again on the rise, it’s fair to wonder, why now?

Aside from the officials and journalists within the papal bubble, almost no one who encounters the Pope on this trip, or mixes with other faithful followers at his various events, will have received a vaccine.

And the separate headache for the papal security detail doesn’t bare thinking about.

Nevertheless the trip has gone ahead. Pope Francis was determined it would.

The only other time a Pope tried to visit Iraq (John Paul II in 2000), a diplomatic falling out between the Vatican and then-President Saddam Hussein put a stop to it.

“The people cannot be let down for a second time. Let us pray that this trip can be carried out well,” Pope Francis said as he prepared for the visit.

Inter-faith solidarity and fraternity is a key focus for this Pope at a time when polarisation between religions is increasing especially across the Middle East.

On Saturday, the 84-year-old pontiff will meet another elderly man – Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.

The 90-year-old Shia cleric is one of the world’s most influential Islamic scholars.

The pope will visit the Immaculate Conception Church in Qaraqosh
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The pope will visit the Immaculate Conception Church in Qaraqosh

Two years ago, Francis was in Cairo for interfaith prayers and talks with Sunni Islam’s leading clerics, the grand imam of Cairo’s al Azhar mosque, Sheikh Ahmed al Tayeb.

The papal aspiration under Francis is a broad interfaith communion. He is being criticised for irresponsible timing but his people insist precautions for everyone are in place.

The trip strikes a particular poignancy for the Christian communities who suffered so much, so recently, at the hands of ISIS.

Other minorities suffered as well, of course – the Yazidis particularly, and Muslims too; anyone who didn’t buy into the Islamic State’s warped doctrine.

It’s remarkable that he will visit sites of such recent brutality. Remember the beheadings? The cages where people were burnt alive?

For communities of faith who lived through this, the visit will have real meaning.

Persecution of minority groups like Christians in Iraq didn’t begin with the Islamic State.

Over the past 20 years, the Christian population in Iraq has shrunk by 80% according to US State Department analysis.

An Iraqi census carried out in 1997 concluded that there were 1.4 million Christians in the country. Today there are less than 250,000.



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