France has urged Middle Eastern countries to end calls for a boycott of its goods in protest at President Emmanuel Macron's defence of the right to show cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, reports BBC.
The French foreign ministry said the "baseless" calls for a boycott were being "pushed by a radical minority".
French products have been removed from some shops in Kuwait, Jordan and Qatar.
Meanwhile, protests have been seen in Libya, Syria and the Gaza Strip.
The backlash stems from comments made by Mr Macron after the gruesome murder of a French teacher who showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in class.
The president said the teacher, Samuel Paty, "was killed because Islamists want our future", but France would "not give up our cartoons".
Depictions of the Prophet Muhammad can cause serious offence to Muslims because Islamic tradition explicitly forbids images of Muhammad and Allah (God).
On Sunday, Mr Macron doubled down on his defence of French values in a tweet that read: "We will not give in, ever."
Political leaders in Turkey and Pakistan have rounded on Mr Macron, accusing him of not respecting "freedom of belief" and marginalising the millions of Muslims in France.
On Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested, for a second time, that Mr Macron should seek "mental checks" for his views on Islam.
Similar comments prompted France to recall its ambassador to Turkey for consultations on Saturday.
How widespread is the boycott on French products?
Some supermarket shelves had been stripped of French products in Jordan, Qatar and Kuwait by Sunday. French-made hair and beauty items, for example, were not on display.
In Kuwait, a major retail union has ordered a boycott of French goods.
The non-governmental Union of Consumer Co-operative Societies said it had issued the directive in response to "repeated insults" against the Prophet Muhammad.
In a statement, the French foreign ministry acknowledged the moves, writing: "These calls for boycott are baseless and should stop immediately, as well as all attacks against our country, which are being pushed by a radical minority."
Online, calls for similar boycotts in other Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia, have been circulating.
A hashtag calling for the boycott of French supermarket chain Carrefour was the second-most trending topic in Saudi Arabia, the Arab world's largest economy.
Meanwhile, small anti-French protests were held in Libya, Gaza and northern Syria, where Turkish-backed militias exert control.
Why is France embroiled in this row?
Mr Macron's robust defence of French secularism and criticism of radical Islam in the wake of Mr Paty's killing has angered some in the Muslim world.
Turkey's Mr Erdogan asked in a speech: "What's the problem of the individual called Macron with Islam and with the Muslims?"
Meanwhile Pakistani leader Imran Khan accused the French leader of "attacking Islam, clearly without having any understanding of it".
"President Macron has attacked and hurt the sentiments of millions of Muslims in Europe & across the world," he tweeted.
Earlier this month, before the teacher's killing, Mr Macron had already announced plans for tougher laws to tackle what he called "Islamist separatism" in France.
He said a minority of France's estimated six million Muslims were in danger of forming a "counter-society", describing Islam as a religion "in crisis".
Cartoons caricaturing the Islamic prophet have a dark and intensely political legacy in France.
In 2015, 12 people were killed in an attack on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which had published the cartoons.
Some in Western Europe's largest Muslim community have accused Mr Macron of trying to repress their religion and say his campaign risks legitimising Islamophobia.
France registered 52,010 new cases of COVID-19 infection in a 24-hour span, a new daily record after a record 45,422 on Saturday, according to the Public Health Agency on Sunday.
France now has a cumulative number of 1,138,507 coronavirus cases since the start of the epidemic, after it became the second European country on Friday to register more than one million confirmed coronavirus cases, after Spain.
A further 116 patients died from the disease in France within one day, bringing the death toll to 34,761 since the start of the outbreak, official data showed.
In addition, 17 percent of those tested for the virus now have positive results in France, after reaching 16 percent on Saturday against 15.1 percent the day before, in comparison to just 4.5 percent in early September.
The grim second wave of the epidemic had forced the French government to impose tougher restrictive measures including curfews in a majority of regions across the country. More than two-thirds of the French population, or around 46 million people, are requested to stay home between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. for six weeks.
On Saturday, the National Assembly adopted at the first reading the extension of the state of health emergency until Feb. 16. The bill authorizes the executive to introduce restrictions to face a "period which will be long and difficult," warned Health Minister Olivier Veran.
The toll will "grow heavier in the coming days and weeks, whatever we do" due to the dynamics of the epidemic, Veran has warned on Saturday.
"If we fail to contain the pandemic, we will be facing a dire situation and we will have to envisage much tougher measures," said Prime Minister Jean Castex on Thursday, when announcing the extension of curfews to more French regions.
As the world is in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries across the globe -- including France, Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the U.S. -- are racing to find a vaccine.
According to the website of the World Health Organization, as of Oct. 19, there were 198 COVID-19 candidate vaccines being developed worldwide, and 44 of them were in clinical trials.
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Hundreds of thousands of Californians lost power as utilities sought to prevent the chance of their equipment sparking wildfires and the fire-weary state braced for a new bout of dry, windy weather.
More than 1 million people were expected be in the dark Monday during what officials have said could be the strongest wind event in California this year.
It’s the fifth time this year that Pacific Gas & Electric, the nation’s largest utility, has cut power to customers in a bid to reduce the risk that downed or fouled power lines or other equipment could ignite a blaze during bone-dry weather conditions and gusty winds. On Sunday, the utility shut off power to 225,000 customers in Northern California and planned to do the same for another 136,000 customers in a total of 36 counties.
The National Weather Service issued red flag warnings for much of the state, predicting winds of up to 35 mph (56 kph) in lower elevations and more than 70 mph (113 kph) in mountainous areas of Southern California. The concern is that any spark could be blown into flames sweeping through tinder-dry brush and forestland.
The conditions could equal those during devastating fires in California’s wine country in 2017 and last year’s Kincade Fire, the National Weather Service said. Fire officials said PG&E transmission lines sparked that Sonoma County fire last October, which destroyed hundreds of homes and caused nearly 100,000 people to flee.
Weather conditions shifted in Northern California on Sunday, with humidity dropping and winds picking up speed, said Scott Strenfel, senior meteorologist for PG&E. He said another round of winds is expected Monday night.
Southern California, which saw cooler temperatures and patchy drizzle over the weekend, is also bracing for extreme fire weather. Southern California Edison said it was considering safety outages for 71,000 customers in six counties starting Monday, with San Bernardino County potentially the most affected.
Los Angeles County urged residents to sign up for emergency notifications and prepare to evacuate, preferably arranging to stay with family or friends in less risky areas who aren’t suspected to have the coronavirus. Local fire officials boosted staffing as a precaution.
Scientists say climate change has made California much drier, meaning trees and other plants are more flammable. Traditionally October and November are the worst months for fires, but already this year the state has seen more than 8,600 wildfires that have scorched a record 6,400 square miles (16,576 square kilometers) and destroyed about 9,200 homes, businesses and other structures. There have been 31 deaths.
Many of this year’s devastating fires were started by thousands of dry lightning strikes, but some remain under investigation for potential electrical causes. While the biggest fires in California have been fully or significantly contained, more than 5,000 firefighters remain committed to 20 blazes, including a dozen major incidents, state fire officials said.
PG&E officials said the planned outages are a safety measure and understood they burden residents, especially with many working from home and their children taking classes online because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Sheriff Kory Honea of Butte County said he’s concerned about residents in foothill communities during the blackouts because cellular service can be spotty and it’s the only way many can stay informed when the power is out.
“It is quite a strain on them to have to go through these over and over and over again,” he said.
Thailand’s Parliament began a special session Monday that was called to address tensions as pro-democracy protests draw students and other demonstrators into the streets almost daily demanding the prime minister’s resignation.
As Speaker of the House Chuan Leekpai began the session, only 450 of the total of 731 members of both houses had signed in for the meeting.
The demonstrations by student-led groups in the Bangkok and other cities have three main demands: that Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha step down, the constitution be amended to make it more democratic and reforms be made to the monarchy to make it more accountable.
Public criticism of the monarchy is unprecedented in a country where the royal institution has been considered sacrosanct, and royalists have denounced the protesters for raising the issue.
“The only way to a lasting solution for all sides that is fair for those on the streets as well as for the many millions who choose not to go on the streets is to discuss and resolve these differences through the parliamentary process,” Prayuth said last week.
The non-voting session of Parliament is expected to last two days.
The protesters have little confidence in the parliamentary path, declaring the government’s efforts insincere.
They noted the points of discussion submitted by Prayuth’s government for debate dealt not with the protesters’ concerns but were thinly disguised criticisms of the protests themselves.
They concern instead the risk of the coronavirus spreading at rallies, the alleged interference with a royal motorcade by a small crowd earlier this month, and illegal gatherings and the destruction of images of the royal family.
The protesters allege Prayuth, who led a coup in 2014 as the army chief, was returned to power unfairly in last year’s election because laws had been changed to favor a pro-military party. The protesters also say the constitution, written and enacted under military rule, is undemocratic.
Parliament in September was scheduled to vote on six proposed constitutional amendments but instead set up a committee to further consider such proposals, and then recessed.
Constitutional changes require a joint vote of the House and the Senate, but the proposals lack support in the Senate, whose members are not elected and are generally very conservative and hostile to the protesters.
Instead of confronting lawmakers and counter-protesters on Monday, the pro-democracy protest organizers have called for an afternoon march to the German Embassy, apparently to bring attention to the time King Maha Vajiralongkorn spends in Germany.
Germany’s foreign minister, questioned in Parliament by a member of the Green Party, recently expressed concern over any political activities the king might be conducting on the country’s soil.
Protesters’ criticism of the royal institution has roiled conservative Thais. Self-proclaimed “defenders of the monarchy” mobilized last week online and in rallies in several cities, in many cases led by local civil servants.
A small group of royalist demonstrators were outside Parliament on Monday morning, saying they were there to let lawmakers know of their opposition to any changes in the status of the monarchy.
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China is once again mass testing an entire city for the coronavirus amid a regional outbreak in Xinjiang province, reports BBC.
Around 4.7m people in Kashgar are being tested, with 138 asymptomatic cases found so far.
China has been largely successful in bringing infection rates down, but there continue to be small outbreaks.
Xinjiang is home to China's mostly-Muslim Uighur minority which rights groups say is being persecuted by the government in Beijing.
Schools in Kashgar have been closed and residents are not allowed to leave the city unless they have a negative test report.
The first case in the Kashgar outbreak was an asymptomatic woman working in a garment factory in Shufu county, on the outskirts of the city.
The woman, who was revealed to be infected following what Chinese state media described as "routine testing", was the first local case detected in mainland China for 10 days.
Widespread testing, which began on Saturday, uncovered another 137 asymptomatic cases.
Asymptomatic cases are not counted in China's official tally of 85,810 confirmed infections. The country's death toll stands at 4,634.
More than 2.8m tests had been conducted in Kashgar by Sunday afternoon and the rest will be completed within two days, according to city officials.
Kashgar is in China's western Xinjiang province, home to ethnic Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims.
The province has a network of detention camps which China says are needed to tackle extremism. However, rights groups see them as part of a campaign to suppress the culture, language and identity of the Muslim minority.
The US recently blocked some exports from Xinjiang over alleged human rights abuses and forced labour.
While normal life has resumed in much of China, there continue to be small outbreaks that authorities have chosen to tackle with immediate mass testing.
Earlier in October, the city of Qingdao tested its entire population of nine million people.
In May, China tested the 11m-strong population of Wuhan, the city where the novel coronavirus was first identified.
Read Also: Global COVID-19 cases surge to 42.9 mn: JHU