30 killed in clashes between police and rebels in the Philippines
Heavy fighting between police forces and Muslim rebels near Mamasapano, Maguindanao led to the death of at least 30 people on Jan. 25. The attack shook the foundation of a one year-old peace treaty established between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The treaty granted the Muslim minority a wider scope of political and economic power under a new autonomous government in the south of the Philippines. Sources stated that police entered a Muslim community in search of bombing suspect when an encounter with militants sparked the clashes. Army forces said MILF and a rival faction, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, were known to be operating in the community. The ramifications of this event, one of the biggest single-day losses in recent history of the Philippines, could jeopardize the longevity of the peace treaty.
Leftist Syriza party scores victory in Greek elections
Greek Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras and his party won 149 of the 300 seats in parliament on Jan. 25, taking 36.5 per cent of the vote. The party’s victory, just short of an outright majority, scored 8.5 points ahead of incumbent Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his New Democracy party. Tsipras’s government will attempt to overturn the huge budget cuts and rising taxes imposed by the European Union and International Monetary Fund as conditions for their 2010 bailout. The structural adjustments accompanying the bailout sent unemployment rates soaring past 25 per cent and pushed millions into poverty. The Independents Greeks, a right-wing nationalist party, met with Tspiras on Jan. 26 to hold coalition talks, as both parties oppose and are attempting to rise above the restraints of the bailout deal. Left-wing parties across Europe have commended the Greek party’s win. The British Green Party said that Syriza’s win is an inspiration, while Spain’s anti-austerity party Podemos welcomed the party as a true alternative to the current eurozone framework.
Reverend Lane becomes first-ever female bishop in the Church of England
Reverend Libby Lane became the first female bishop consecrated by the Church of England after experiencing pushback from traditionalists for years. Lane became the Bishop of Stockport in northern England after a ceremony was met with near unanimous praise in a ceremony at York Minster cathedral on Jan. 26. The consecration is being heralded as a step forward for gender equality in the Church of England, after it began ordaining women as priests over two decades ago. Though Anglican provinces in many Western countries like Canada, the United States, New Zealand and Australia ordain women as priests and sometimes bishops, many others in developing countries have not yet modernized their approach and still restrict women’s inclusion in the upper ranks of the church’s hierarchy. Lane hopes that her consecration will lead women to believe in their capacity and potential as leaders in their communities.
Sons of Mubarak released from prison in Egypt
On Jan. 26, the sons of deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak were released from prison. An Egyptian court granted the release of Alaa and Gamal Mubarak pending a retrial in a corruption case attributed to the pair. Though stability has been somewhat restored within the nation under the leadership of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the release of the brothers is being examined as a potential spark for tensions following the anniversary of the 2011 uprising that toppled the autocracy of Mubarak. Judicial sources stated that Hosni Mubarak, who is currently being detained in a military hospital, could soon be freed as well pending retrial in a corruption case of his own.