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Iran Pilgrims to Join this Year's Hajj

Iranian pilgrims will participate in this year's annual hajj, Saudi Arabia said on Friday, after an absence last year during tensions between the regional rivals.

"The ministry of hajj and the Iranian organisation have completed all the necessary measures to ensure Iranian pilgrims perform hajj 1438 according to the procedures followed by all Muslim countries," the official Saudi Press Agency said, referring to this year in the Islamic calendar.

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Turkish Court Maintains Top Novelist's Travel Ban

A Turkish court on Tuesday kept in place a foreign travel ban for a top novelist charged with terror propaganda in a controversial case that has intensified concerns over freedom of speech in the country.

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Polish MEP Fined for Saying Women Should Earn Less

The European Parliament punished a Polish extreme-right MEP on Tuesday after he said women should be paid less because they are "weaker and less intelligent" than men.

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EU Court Rules Workplace Headscarf Ban Legal

European companies can ban employees from wearing religious or political symbols including the Islamic headscarf, the EU's top court ruled Tuesday in a landmark case.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) said it does not constitute "direct discrimination" if a firm has an internal rule banning the wearing of "any political, philosophical or religious sign."

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China Lawmakers Draft Rules against Defaming 'Heroes'

Chinese legislators have drafted a provision that would make it a civil offense to disparage "heroes and martyrs", state media reported Monday, as the Communist Party looks to burnish its narrative of the nation's history.

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The Secretary-General Issues Report on Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

The Secretary-General released his report on Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse: A New Approach for consideration by the General Assembly, a press release said on Friday.

During his first week in office, in January 2017, the Secretary-General established a diverse High-Level Task Force, led by his Special Coordinator Jane Holl Lute, to develop as a matter of urgency a strategy to achieve visible and measurable improvements in the way the Organization prevents and responds to sexual exploitation and abuse.

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Masterpiece Restored: Stolen Stradivarius Will Sing Again

After a meticulous restoration that took more than a year, a Stradivarius violin that was stolen from violinist Roman Totenberg and missing for decades is about to return to the stage.

Mira Wang, a violinist who immigrated to the United States from China 30 years ago to study under Totenberg, will play the instrument at a private concert in New York on March 13, and more performances after that are possible.

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Forward to the Past: Contemporary Master Viola Embraces Renaissance Roots

Bill Viola, the acclaimed contemporary artist, is back in Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance masters who inspired some of his most famous works, powerful, immersive video installations dealing with the extremes of human emotion and experience.

Four decades after he first worked in the Tuscan capital, the New Yorker regarded as one of the pioneers of video art has returned for a major exhibition that explores the links between his 20th-21st century output and paintings completed between 400 and 600 years earlier.

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Deaf Syrians Learn the Language of War

Twice raising the little finger represents "I" and placing a thumb on the index finger and the middle finger makes an "S" to signify ISIS, or the Islamic State jihadist group.

At an NGO in Damascus, two young deaf Syrians, Bisher and Ryad, are working to create special sign language characters so thousands of Syrians like them can talk about the war that has ravaged their country for the past six years.

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Lifting the Veil on Prejudice against French Muslim Women

France's Muslim women feel the sting of prejudice whether they choose to cover their heads or not -- and many are beginning to speak out in a deluge of books, online postings and open letters. 

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