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War-Scarred Ruins of Syria's Homs Inspire Artists

Devastated by 20 months of combat between regime forces and rebel fighters, the haunting ruins of the Old City of Homs now serve as inspiration for some Syrian artists.

In summer 2014, director Joud Said decided to set his film "It's Raining in Homs" in the ruins, just three months after the last rebels left the area under a truce deal following a lengthy siege.

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Berlin's Three Main Orchestras Stage Free Concert for Refugees

Three of the world's top conductors, Simon Rattle, Daniel Barenboim and Ivan Fischer are teaming up for a free concert by Berlin's three main orchestras next month which will be free for refugees, they announced on Tuesday.

The three maestri will each conduct their own orchestra -- Rattle the Berlin Philharmonic, Barenboim the Staatskapelle Berlin and Fischer the Konzerthaus Orchestra -- in a special concert on March 1 in the German capital's Philharmonic Hall, they said in a joint statement.

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Syrian Refugee Children to Join Rio Carnival Parade

Refugee children from Syria and other conflict-torn countries will be treated to a place in Rio de Janeiro's exuberant carnival parade on Tuesday, U.N. officials said.

Forty children aged from six to 14 from Syria, Sudan, Libya and elsewhere will parade among thousands of Brazilian youngsters in a spectacle by the Mangueira samba school, the United Nations refugees body UNHCR said in a statement.

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Bosnians Protest against Hijab Ban in Judiciary

Some 2,000 people, mostly women, protested on Sunday in downtown Sarajevo against a recent ban on wearing a hijab headscarf in the majority Muslim country's judicial institutions.

"We gathered to protest against prejudices, discrimination and marginalization," Samira Zunic Velagic, one of the protest organizers, told the crowd.

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Rio Carnival Dances toward Wild Finale, Swatting Zika Aside

Swatting aside fears over the Zika virus, the glittering dancers of the Rio Carnival samba championship and their adoring fans were primed Sunday for their first all-night parade.

After a fortnight of street parties, thousands of gallons of beer, and the day and night sound of drumming and singing throughout Brazil's most iconic city, the really serious Carnival fun was set to begin at 23:30 GMT.

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The Grave-Diggers of Maiduguri: Burying Boko Haram and the Past

Even the dead weren't safe from Boko Haram when the Islamist insurgency erupted in the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri nearly seven years ago.

"They began to destroy this one," said Babagana Modu, gesturing to a mound of baked earth and sand -- the grave of a prominent Muslim cleric.

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China School Sees Monkey Business in New Year

Macaques in frilly dresses turn backflips and answer maths questions for crowds of screaming children at a Chinese monkey school, where trainers teach them to waltz and play rock drums.

Shows featuring performing simians, popular in China and throughout Asia, are expecting a boost in the Lunar New Year of the monkey, which begins on Monday.

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Rio Carnival Opens, Defying Growing Zika Fears

Rio's Carnival -- a five day festival of dancing, bared flesh and wild costumes -- opened Friday in the face of warnings that the Zika virus might make even kissing dangerous.

Mayor Eduardo Paes handed a big golden key to the city to the Carnival's ceremonial King Momo, who promised a spectacular show. 

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First French 'Neutral Gender' Defends Label in Court

The first French person to be given the designation "neutral gender" appeared in court on Friday to testify in an appeal of the decision. 

The 64-year-old individual, who reportedly uses a male first name but has asked to remain anonymous, appeared before magistrates in the north-central town of Orleans.  

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Timbuktu Recovers Its Mausoleums, Risen from Ruins

Mali's fabled city of Timbuktu on Thursday celebrated the recovery of its historic mausoleums, destroyed during an Islamist takeover of northern Mali in 2012 and rebuilt thanks to U.N. cultural agency UNESCO.

The dusty desert city formally received the keys to the precious shrines to Muslim saints dating back to medieval times at a ceremony consecrating their return that was held in the legendary Djingareyber mosque.

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