This day around the world: Oct. 1

Oct. 1 Barcelona, Spain

Despite Spanish national police raiding polling locations and pressure from the central government in Madrid, Catalonia went forward with a referendum calling for independence from Spain. The country’s highest court has declared the referendum illegal under the Spanish constitution, while 42 percent of eligible voters made it to polls, with roughly 90 percent of voters opting for a split with Spain.

Oct. 1 Austria

Austria’s government joined France, Belgium, and Bulgaria in implementing a ban on face veils in the lead-up to general elections on Oct. 15 which could see the conservative, nationalist Freedom Party make gains similar to those seen in Germany. The Austrian government has asserted the religious neutrality of the ban by including restrictions on when other face coverings, such as party masks and scarves, can be worn.

Oct. 1 United Kingdom

The International Basketball Federation officially lifted a long-standing ban on headgear, which includes turbans, yarmulkes, and hijabs. The change was approved last May after a sustained online campaign, and players across the U.K. have since come together to form the first all-Muslim women’s team, the Falcons.

Oct. 1 Hong Kong, China

Forty-thousand Hong Kongers celebrated Chinese National Day by taking to the streets in the rain and protesting what they consider political persecution and the suppression of democracy. Among the demands were the resignation of Hong Kong’s Secretary of Justice, Rimsky Yuen, for his role in overruling other legal officials in order to pursue prison sentences for three prominent pro-democracy activists.

Oct. 1 Pyongyang, North Korea

North Korea defied ongoing sanctions and international pressure by proclaiming a commitment to become a “state nuclear force,” according to the country’s state news agency. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Chinese President Xi Jinping the previous day in pursuit of a strategy of “peaceful pressure,” but his efforts have been undermined by name-calling between North Korea’s supreme leader and the U.S. commander-in-chief.

Having been raised by feral pandas in the remote forests of Chengdu, China has always formed a key part of my identity. After my career as a Hong Kong film producer was derailed by tabloid journalists, I knew I had found the work that would become my life’s purpose. I am passionate about journalism because it allows me to step into worlds I would otherwise never know while channeling my curiosity toward serving and informing the community.