News Iranian Teacher Ali Mohammadian with 8-year-old Mahan Rahimi, in a photo taken before Mahan's classmates followed their teacher and also shaved their hair.

Ali Mohammadian noticed his pupil was being bullied, and shaved his head to show his support

Several injured in Istanbul suicide blast

A suicide bomber blew himself up near police watching over Istanbul's main square today, wounding 22 people, including 10 policemen, officials said.

Two US hikers left behind in Iran will face trial for spying

Two American hikers who have been held in a Tehran prison for more than a year will face trial at the Revolutionary Court early next month charged with espionage and illegally entering the country, their lawyer in Iran confirmed yesterday.

Kurdish rebels tell Turkey: keep your promises or ceasefire is over

Kurdish rebels will end their military ceasefire at the end of the month if Turkey hounds its supporters and prepares for an attempt to rout the group after 26 years of conflict, their leader told The Independent from his mountain hideout in northern Iraq.

Investment Column: Imperial backers can breathe more easily

Gulf Keystone Petroleum; Burst Media

Blast in Iranian city kills at least ten

Ten people died and 57 others were injured when a bomb exploded at military parade in north-western Iran today.

Turkey: Roadside bomb kills nine on minibus

A roadside bomb attack killed nine people travelling in a minibus yesterday in the latest violence to shake Turkey's turbulent south-east, where Kurdish guerrillas have been fighting for autonomy for decades.

Asylum-seekers arrested following daring escape

Two Iraqi refugees facing deportation to Baghdad made a dramatic escape from an asylum detention centre but were recaptured by police using dogs and a helicopter.

My reporting on the Kurds landed me in a Turkish prison

When Jake Hess began investigating human rights abuses, he didn't expect to be locked up and interrogated himself

The Age of Orphans, By Laleh Khadivi

Laleh Khadivi's The Age of Orphans has something in common with Chinua Achebe's masterpiece, Things Fall Apart. It's a historical novel focused on one individual, and shows both the destruction of that individual and the culture which gave him birth.

Patrick Cockburn: Grim stability is the US legacy in Iraq

The civil war had winners and losers and it was the Shia who emerged as the victors

Kurdish rebels kill six soldiers

Kurdish rebels killed six Turkish soldiers and wounded nine in an overnight raid on a military outpost along the border with Iraq, indicating the resilience of their low-level insurgency and the failure of efforts to reach a peace accord. Another soldier died in a separate attack.

Turkish gunships 'kill 12 Kurdish rebels'

Turkish helicopter gunships, backed by ground troops, killed 12 Kurdish rebels during an operation launched after militants ambushed and killed five members of the security forces, the army said yesterday.

Patrick Cockburn: Strike reveals a weakness in the region's growing powerhouse

Just as the world was beginning to notice how Turkey is becoming more powerful and active, Kurdish guerrillas remind everybody of its weaknesses.

Iraq: the most dangerous place on earth for journalists

Since 2003, persecuted reporters facing new threats to freedom of expression

Kurdistan reaches out to US and Europe for investment

Investors on the hunt for international opportunities need look no further than Kurdistan, the semi-autonomous region in the north east corner of Iraq. So delegates will be told at the country's two-day trade and investment conference in London this week.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick