• French minister wants five ‘terrorists’ to be stripped of nationality

    06/Oct/2015 // 194 Viewers

    Eric Feferberg, AFP | French Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve has asked Prime Minister Manuel Valls to revoke the five of their citizenships
     
    Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve on Tuesday told lawmakers that he had requested five French citizens be stripped of their nationalities over the 2003 Casablanca bombings that left dozens dead.
     
    “I have asked the prime minister to revoke the nationality of five terrorists,” he told the National Assembly.
     
    According to Reuters, four of the five people who may lose their French citizenship are of Moroccan origin, while the fifth person has Turkish origins.
     
    French law only allows nationality to be stripped from a citizen who holds a second passport.
     
    A source close the interior ministry said that all five had previously been convicted of involvement in the string of suicide bombings in Casablanca, Morocco in 2003 that killed 45 people.
     
    Revoking citizenships is extremely rare in France and the measure has only been applied 21 times since the 1990s.
     
    DailyGlobeWatch with Reuters


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  • Ghana’s leader talks democracy, corruption

    06/Oct/2015 // 175 Viewers

    Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama is in Paris as Ghana becomes the 50th member of the OECD’s development centre. He spoke to FRANCE 24’s Georja Calvin-Smith.

    The Ghanaian president welcomed the recent return to civilian rule in Burkina Faso, which was encouraged by the West African bloc ECOWAS. Mahama was chair of ECOWAS before handing over to Senegal's Macky Sall. "What happened in Burkina Faso is a sign of hope that Africa has changed," Mahama said. "It’s a success of democracy in West Africa".

    President Mahama reacted to the suspension of seven high court judges in Ghana over bribery allegations. "It is a reflection of institutional weakness that we need to work on and make sure we have stronger institutions," he admitted. However, he added that he sees these suspensions as showing "the robustness of our system".

    By Georja CALVIN-SMITH


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  • JUST IN: Another terror attack in Bruxxels!

    06/Oct/2016 // 354 Viewers

     

     

    Two police officers have been stabbed in Brussels in an incident that could be terror-related, prosecutors say.

    A 43-year old Belgian man stabbed one officer in the neck and the other in the abdomen in the north-east of the Belgian capital on Wednesday and then fled the scene.

    The assailant was stopped by a second group of police officers. He broke the nose of one officer, who shot him in the leg.

    The federal prosecutor’s spokesman, Eric Van Der Sypt, said: “We have reason to believe that it is terror-related.” He declined to provide details or explain why prosecutors suspected the attack was linked to terrorism.

    Belgium has been on high alert since 32 people were killed in suicide bomb attacks on the Brussels airport and metro on 22 March.

    The suspect in the latest incident was identified as Hicham D, 43, a Belgian citizen. A judge will decide later on his “possible detention”, the prosecutor said.

    Jan Jambon, Belgium’s interior minister, tweeted: “All my support to the police in Schaerbeek.”

    One unnamed witness told the state broadcaster RTBF: “I saw the attacker who struck the officer to the ground. The officer rolled into the bushes, but [the attacker] followed and continued to beat him. Afterwards he struck the woman, she was crying and bleeding. Then the police arrived, they got our of the car and shot him.”

    According to Belgian media, the assailant did not make any statement or demands during the attack.

    The attack took place in Schaerbeek, a large, socially mixed district, where grand art nouveau mansions sit near scruffy 1960s-era housing and supermarkets.

    The district came to global attention earlier this year when it emerged that the Brussels bombers had made their bombs in a Schaerbeek flat. Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, who blew himself up at Brussels airport, and Mohamed Abrini, who became known as ”the man in the hat” before his eventual capture, were taken by taxi to Zaventem airport from Schaerbeek.

    El-Bakraoui and accomplice Najim Laachraoui blew themselves up, while Abrini went on the run after his suitcase bomb failed to detonate.

    The latest attack took place less than a mile from the Brussels bombers’ hideout.

    Belgian cities remain tense following the March bombings, with soldiers guarding embassies and patrolling railway stations in the capital. In August two police officers were injured in the city of Charleroi in a machete attack claimed by Islamic State.


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  • Economic crime is a global problem - Amaechi

    06/Sep/2016 // 559 Viewers

     

    The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has said that economic crime is a global problem that requires collaboration of countries in sharing strategic information to stop the network of such crimes.

    Delivering a keynote speech monday at the opening of the 34th Cambridge University prestigious International Symposium on Economic Crime, at Jesus College, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, Amaechi insisted that countries need to partner to tackle economic crime.
     
    In his address titled: ‘Beyond Blame Game: The Imperative of Tackling Economic Crime Together,’ Amaechi said economic crime was often committed in an organised manner involving several people across countries through multiple jurisdictions.

    According to him, such crimes may originate from one country, but it often involves the participation of clandestine, criminal networks operating in different countries, playing one role or the other and benefiting from such illicit proceeds.

    “At the seventh African Union and Economic Commission for Africa conference that held in Abuja back in 2014, the former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, stated that Africa loses between $50 billion to $60 billion annually as a result of Illicit Financial Flows (IFF). These are said to occur through forms of tax avoidance including transfer pricing or mispricing- depending on which side you are- through which multinationals minimize their tax obligations by shifting their profits from high tax to low tax jurisdiction thereby short-changing some of their host countries especially in the developing world and draining them of legitimate revenue, impeding their projects and denying their population access to basic services,” Amaechi said.
    He further explained that since economic crimes are committed through networks spreading over countries, it is a global problem that can only be effectively tackled through global collaboration and partnership.

    Amaechi stated that for countries to collaborate, the public and private sectors especially the banks must come into collaboration beyond high sounding rhetoric and public relations. According to him, institutions from both developed and developing countries must learn to share information and act swiftly to erode the efficacy of these networks to successfully use any jurisdiction either as transit routes or safe havens for proceeds of economic crime.

    The minister added that strong, effective, regulatory and enforcement capabilities must be encouraged both domestically and internationally through technical cooperation.
    “Partnerships must be encouraged to provide platforms to share best practices and intelligence and strengthen legislations between jurisdictions,” he added.

    He also noted that leaders across countries and institutions must take responsibility when economic crime or corruption happens.

    “That is what it means to be held accountable. In doing so, leadership is expected to do three simple things; perhaps four. They are – upholding the primacy of leadership and political will, insisting on the force of example, enforcing the urgency of incentives and the necessity of sanctions and finally by leveraging on the power of partnership.

    “As someone who has been in active politics for more than thirty years, I have learnt that many well intended reforms are possible only if the leader can offer the requisite leadership and muster the right political will. In my country, since our President, Muhammadu Buhari was elected, he did not leave anyone in doubt that the fight against corruption will not only be taken seriously but will form a cardinal plank of his policy direction,” Amaechi said.

    The Attorney-General of England and Wales and Advocate General of Northern Ireland, Rt. Hon. Jeremy Wright, also spoke on the first day of the week-long symposium.


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  • Armed man shot dead trying to enter Paris police station

    07/Jan/2016 // 627 Viewers

     

    PARIS, JANUARY 7, 2016: A man armed with a knife was shot dead by security forces Thursday after attempting to enter a police station in northern Paris.

    The shooting took place outside a police station in the Goutte-d'Or area of the French capital’s 18th arrondissement.

    A witness who was around 50 metres from the police station told FRANCE 24 that he clearly heard the man cry "Allahu Akbar" (God is great). Police said the man was strapped with a fake explosive vest.

    The attack was being investigated as potential terrorism, police said. 

    Pictures posted on Twitter showed the alleged assailant wearing a camouflage coat, lying on the pavement after being shot. A police bomb disposal robot appeared to be inspecting the body.

    The culturally vibrant neighbourhood was on lockdown, including two schools on the same street as the police station, according to education officials. Nearby metro stations were also closed. 

    “A few locals who live in flats around the police station managed to get into the area, but only after thorough searches from police sources,” said FRANCE 24’s Clovis Casali, who was at the scene.

    Casali added that firemen and emergency responders had also arrived at the Goutte d’Or neighbourhood.

    The incident took place as France marked the one-year anniversary of last January’s terror attack on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

     

     

     

     

    (FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)


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  • US tanks arrive in Germany to help NATO defences

    07/Jan/2017 // 773 Viewers

    The tanks began arriving in Bremerhaven, northern Germany, on Friday. Pictured: Major General Timothy McGuire

    The largest shipment of US brigades since the fall of the Soviet Union is arriving in northern Germany.
    The first of the 87 tanks and 144 military vehicles were being unloaded in the port of Bremerhaven on Friday.
    The equipment and 3,500 US troops are to be deployed along Nato's eastern frontier. The deployment aims to allay worries of potential Russian aggression in eastern Europe.
    However, some fear the large number will exacerbate tensions with Moscow.
    Leaders of the left-wing regional government of Brandenburg - one of the German states through which the American brigades will be transported over the next two weeks - have called for further talks with Russia.
     
    U.S. Tanks were unloaded in Bremerhaven, northern Germany, Friday Jan. 6, 2017
     
    Graffiti at the port saying
     
    US Tanks at the docks in Bremerhaven, northern Germany (6 January 2016)
     
    The arrival of the equipment and troops marks the start of a new phase of the US's Operation Atlantic Resolve, which foresees the continuous presence of an American armoured brigade combat team in Europe on a nine-month rotational basis.
    The new forces will gather first in Poland, then fan out across seven countries from Estonia to Bulgaria, while a headquarters unit will be stationed in Germany.
     
    A US soldier walks in front of US Army tanks and the cargo vessel
     
    US Military vehicles are unloaded from a carrier ship in the harbour in Bremerhaven
     
    US Military vehicles are unloaded from a transport ship in the harbour in Bremerhaven
     
    Other Nato members are also increasing their presence in eastern Europe, with Britain sending fighter jets to the Black Sea area, while a battalion of troops, tanks and light armour will deploy to Estonia in the spring, backed by French and Danish troops. Germany also plans to send troops and tanks to Lithuania.

     

    Credit: BBC


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  • The Latest: French hotline to help Calais businesses

    07/Mar/2016 // 197 Viewers

     

    BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on the migration crisis as leaders from the EU and Turkey meet in Brussels (all times local):

     

    6:10 p.m.

    France's government says a hotline is going to be set up to help local businesses in Calais that are suffering amid the migrant crisis.

    About 500 Calais residents and merchants have demonstrated on the streets of Paris around the Elysee Palace to draw the attention to their economic difficulties.

    The new hotline will help small business owners to get tax relief.

    Thousands of migrants are camped out in the Calais region, hoping to sneak across the English Channel to Britain. The protesters claim that the situation has badly damaged local businesses' activity.

    ___

    4:55 p.m.

    The head of the European Parliament says that Turkey has asked for an additional 3 billion euros ($3.29 billion) from the European Union to help it deal with the refugee crisis as EU leaders seek more help from Ankara to stem the flow of refugees across the Aegean.

    Diplomats also said that EU leaders at Monday's summit were faced with additional Turkish requests to speed up visa liberalization and better conditions for membership talks.

    And they said Turkey was also looking for a deal under which it would be able to send refugees to Europe for people it takes back from Greece.

    European Parliament President Martin Schulz said that a "further request of the Turkish side for additional money — 3 billion euros — are in the debate, are in the discussion."

    ___

    4:35 p.m.

    Interior ministers from Hungary and Croatia say they are reopening three railway crossing shut last year to stem the flow of migrants and refugees into Hungary.

    Sandor Pinter of Hungary and Vlaho Orepic of Croatia said the crossings at Murakesresztur-Kotoriba, Gyekenes-Koprivnica and Magyarboly-Beli Manastir would reopen Monday.

    The crossings were shut as Hungary built fences on its borders with Croatia and Serbia and diverted migrants toward Slovenia and Austria.

    The fences have succeeded in stopping most migrants on their way to Germany and other western destinations from entering Hungary, though the number of migrants caught by Hungarian police across the border with Serbia has been increasing over the past weeks to a high of 248 people on Friday.

    During the September-October peak, 6,000-10,000 migrants were reaching Hungary each day.

    ___

    3:10 p.m.

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the European Union of failing to deliver a 3 billion euro ($3.3 billion) fund promised to the country to help it deal with its influx of refugees.

    In an address to women trade-unionists, Erdogan said he hopes the prime minister can return from the EU-Turkey summit in Brussels Monday with the money.

    Erdogan also criticized European nations for their unwillingness to take in refugees as well as their demands on Turkey to halt the flow of people.

    He said: "We are not sending them, they are going (to Greece) by sea and many of them are dying. We have rescued close to 100,000 from the sea. Others are puncturing their boats and causing their deaths."

    He went on to denounce what he said were Western nations' indifference toward women and children who were "massacred" by Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces.

    Erdogan said: "Why do those who cause a stir over the videos that the (Islamic State group) posts on the Internet for show, ignore the innocent children and women massacred by Assad's state terror?"

    ___

    2:05 p.m.

    Hungary's prime minister says that Europe should shut its borders to migrants and not let anyone in without registration and permission.

    Speaking Monday upon his arrival to an EU summit in Brussels, Viktor Orban said that any plan to resettle people from Turkey or Greece would only add "fuel to the fire" and cause even more people to come.

    Orban said that Hungary wouldn't participate in any resettlement plan and that "nothing should be done without the closing of the borders."

    He also said that Ukrainians should be given EU visas exemptions before any similar deal with Turkey, which is being offered billions of euros (dollars) in refugee aid, fast-track EU membership and an easing of visa rules to win its support for efforts to stem the migrant flow.

    ___

    1:55 p.m.

    The European Union's foreign affairs chief is insisting that Turkey heeds the call to adhere to fundamental democratic rights and freedom of expression after authorities seized Turkey's largest-circulation newspaper following government criticism.

    Turkish authorities stormed the headquarters of the Zaman newspaper to enforce a court decision to place it and its sister outlets under the management of trustees. The move sparked two days of protests which police dispersed using tear gas and water cannons.

    EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said before a migration crisis summit with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Monday that Turkey must "respect the highest standards when it comes to democracy, rule of law fundamental freedoms starting from the freedom of expression."

    The leaders of France and Belgium also insisted on guarantees for media freedom.

    ___

    1:45 p.m.

    Cyprus' foreign minister says Turkey must take back economic migrants who aren't entitled to international protection.

    Ioannis Kasoulides says "it is obvious" that "more than 50 percent" of migrants now on European soil aren't from war-torn Syria whose citizens need such protection.

    Kasoulides said after talks with his Bosnian counterpart Monday that these economic migrants "found an easy route to fly to Turkey" from where they can enter Greece in hopes of reaching Germany and other wealthy northern European countries.

    European Union leaders on Monday will press Turkey to do more to stop migrants from entering Europe and to shore up support for Greece, where thousands of people are stranded.

    ___

    1:30 p.m.

    Bosnia's foreign minister says his country has made preparations to deal with an influx of migrants trying to make their way to northern Europe in case the main Balkan route shifts further south.

    Igor Crnadak says an "entirely new route" could open for migrants trying to reach European Union member Croatia through Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia after the main, more northerly Balkan route has effectively been closed.

    Crnadak said after talks with his Cypriot counterpart Monday that Bosnia can help a "certain number" of migrants pass through the country, but "we're not in a position to even discuss letting some of them stay."

    He said Bosnian authorities could close the country's borders, but this hasn't been discussed yet.

    ___

    1:20 p.m.

    Tensions are high among the more than 13,000 migrants who are stranded at the Greek-Macedonian border as they await a decision at the EU summit in Brussels that could determine their fate.

    Hassan Sheikho, a Syrian refugee who is one of the first in line to cross into Macedonia, says "the whole world will be in chaos," if "they don't take all the people here and settle us down."

    He urged leaders Monday to "solve the crisis in Syria and we'll go back, otherwise, make your decision and we'll be ready."

    Cold weather, unhygienic living conditions and limited supplies of food and water are already putting pressure on the refugees and other migrants at the camp in Idomeni. Now they may also need to face the possibility of the Balkan route ahead being shut for good.

    UNHCR spokesman, Babar Baloch, told the AP that for most of the refugees at the camp, there hasn't been much movement anyway. He said they "need an answer, a quick answer."

    ___

    1:00 p.m.

    About 150 migrants have abandoned a squalid, mud-filled camp in northern France to move into wooden sheds with access to showers and other facilities built by Doctors Without Borders.

    The move is part of efforts to improve conditions for thousands of people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa who have converged on northern France in hopes of sneaking across the English Channel to Britain.

    The aid group's spokesman, Samuel Hanryon, says three buses brought about 150 migrants from the camp in Grande-Synthe to the new site Monday. Hundreds more are expected to arrive in coming days from the camp, which currently houses about 1,050 people including 74 children.

    A small number of the new arrivals had travelled from a camp in the nearby city of Calais, where authorities are evacuating a tent camp that had become a flashpoint in Europe's migrant crisis.

    Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French acronym MSF, built the new 2.5 million-euro site, including 4-person sheds and access to toilets, kitchens and electricity.

    ___

    12:55 p.m.

    Greece's government says it's planning to build shelters at nine new sites to cope with the rising number of migrants who have been stranded in the country after the introduction of border restrictions by countries further north.

    A government statement Monday said the new sites, providing a total of 17,500 places, are mostly near Athens and in central Greece.

    Dimitris Vitsas, the deputy defense minister, said 16,000 of those places should be available by the end of the week and could be used to provide alternative accommodation for the roughly 14,000 people who are camped out in Idomeni by the Macedonian border.

    He said the government also plans to move people out of Piraeus, the country's busiest port where some 3,000 are currently staying, by the end of the week.

    Greece's armed forces have built most of the country's refugee shelters at disused military bases.

    ___

    12:40 p.m.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she expects "difficult negotiations" at the European Union summit with Turkey on the migrant crisis.

    Merkel said her aim is to reduce the number of migrants entering illegally "and not just for a few countries, but for all countries — that means for Greece too." Refugees and other migrants have been piling up in Greece since nations on the Balkan route, used by hundreds of thousands of people, imposed border restrictions.

    Merkel said Monday that there needs to be a "sustainable solution" that involves protecting the EU's external borders, and "that can only be done in cooperation with Turkey."

    She said she hopes to "move a step forward" but that will require tough negotiations.

    ___

    11:30 a.m.

    Turkey's prime minister says he hopes that a summit with European Union leaders on Monday will mark a turning point in relations as the EU seeks to stop migrants heading to Greece.

    Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters in Brussels that the meeting is as focused on Turkey's future EU membership as on the refugee emergency.

    He said "Turkey is ready to work with the EU, and Turkey is ready to be a member of the EU as well."

    Davutoglu expressed hope the summit "will be a success story and a turning point in our relations."

    The EU is desperate to halt the flow of migrants crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece. It has offered Turkey billions of euros (dollars) in refugee aid, fast-track EU membership and an easing of visa rules to win its support.

    ___

    11:15 a.m.

    Hundreds of Calais residents are heading to Paris to protest against the negative impact of the migrant crisis on the local economy.

    Ten buses carrying about 500 people, most of them working in local businesses, left the northern French port city on Monday morning to meet with Finance Minister Michel Sapin and representatives of French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee palace later in the afternoon.

    The protesters claim that the large number of migrants in the makeshift camp known as the Jungle has badly damaged local businesses' activity. David Sagnard, a member of the delegation traveling to the French capital, said the protesters want to be granted lower tax rates for their businesses "to boost economic activity and employment."

    Most of the migrants living in the area are trying to sneak across the English Channel to Britain.

    ___

    10:50 a.m.

    Britain's defense secretary says Prime Minister David Cameron will urge European leaders to make good on funds to help Turkey deal with the refugee crisis.

    Michael Fallon told the BBC on Monday that Cameron will urge other EU leaders to deliver on millions of euros (dollars) in pledges. Fallon says Europe has promised the money and the coast guard there "needs to be strengthened and we need to do as much as we can to help Turkey."

    Britain has pledged to back a NATO operation meant to provide information about smugglers to halt their actions. Fallon says the amphibious landing ship RFA Mounts Bay will use an onboard helicopter to provide data on smuggling routes. The information will be passed to Turkish authorities to intercept migrants attempting the crossing.

    ___

    10:25 a.m.

    Police are patrolling a square in central Athens to prevent migrants from setting up camp there after the site was cleared at the weekend.

    Hundreds of people, mostly from Afghanistan, had been sleeping rough at Victoria Square in the center of Athens since border restrictions and closures were imposed by Austria and several Balkan countries last month.

    Early Monday police were instructing those reaching the square to seek refuge at one of several shelters set up around the capital, while municipal workers were cleaning the area, using pressure hoses.

    Refugees and other migrants have continued to travel to Greece from nearby Turkey despite the border closures, with 2,480 arriving Sunday, according to the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.

    Some 34,000 migrants are currently stranded in Greece — with about a third of that number camped out in increasingly difficult conditions at the Greek-Macedonian border.

    ___

    10:15 a.m.

    Greece's prime minister is urging his European Union partners to finally put long-agreed migrant plans into action, as thousands of people wait on the country's border with Macedonia.

    Arriving for talks with EU leaders in Brussels Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Monday that "rules are for all, and everybody has to implement our common decisions."

    He told reporters that "if there are agreements that are not implemented there were not agreements at all."

    EU leaders agreed in September to share 160,000 refugees arriving in Greece and Italy over two years. As of March 3, fewer than 700 people had been relocated to other European countries.

    Tsipras said that Europe must "have a credible relocation process."

    ___

    10:10 a.m.

    Thousands of refugees stranded on the Greek side of the border with Macedonia are anxiously awaiting news from a European Union-Turkey summit that could determine their fate.

    The leaders are expected to declare the main Balkan migrant route closed Monday, after Macedonia, backed by Austria, Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary, limited border crossings to a trickle.

    Although the flow into Macedonia has slowed, some people are still getting through. Greek authorities said 337 people crossed between 6 a.m. Sunday and 6 a.m. Monday.

    One Kurdish Syrian family said they were determined to cross and be reunited with the rest of the family in Germany.

    "Whatever it takes. We will go. We have nothing to go back to. Our homes are destroyed, we have nothing to go back to," said Lasgeen Hassan, 59, from Al Qamishli.

    ___

    10:05 a.m.

    France's foreign minister says Europe must reach a deal with Turkey over how to handle the influx of migrants and must rethink its own system of open borders.

    In an interview Monday with FranceInter radio, Jean-Marc Ayrault said the European Union's system of open borders wasn't set up to deal with a major migration crisis and must be reformed.

    He said that will entail protecting the EU's outer frontiers, dividing up newcomers who have the right to asylum, helping Greece and reaching an accord with Turkey. Those two countries on Europe's outer edges are struggling to cope with hundreds of thousands of migrants hoping to reach a better life in the north.

    EU leaders are holding talks later Monday with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

    ___

    9:40 a.m.

    European Union leaders have started arriving in Brussels to press Turkey to do more to stop migrants entering Europe and to shore up support for Greece, where thousands of people are stranded.

    The leaders are expected to declare the main Balkan migrant route closed Monday, after Macedonia, backed by Austria, Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary, limited border crossings to a trickle.

    Ahead of the summit in Brussels, some 14,000 people were camped in Greece at the Macedonian border hoping desperately to be allowed to cross.

    The leaders are set first to hold talks at 1130 GMT with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

    A draft statement prepared for their talks says they will ensure "comprehensive, large scale and fast-track returns to Turkey of all irregular migrants not in need of international protection."


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  • Sadiq Khan sworn in as London's first Muslim mayor

    07/May/2016 // 412 Viewers

     

    London (AFP) - Sadiq Khan was sworn in as London mayor Saturday after being elected the first Muslim leader of a major Western capital, as the Conservatives defended attempts to link him to extremism during the campaign.

    The opposition Labour lawmaker, the son of a Pakistani bus driver, broke from convention by taking his oath of office in a multi-faith ceremony at Southwark Cathedral.

    "My name is Sadiq Khan and I'm the mayor of London," the 45-year-old said to cheers from supporters, who had earlier given him a standing ovation as he walked in.

    He added: "I'm determined to lead the most transparent, engaged and accessible administration London has ever seen, and to represent every single community, and every single part of our city, as mayor for all Londoners."

    Khan won 57 percent of the vote in Thursday's mayoral election, securing 1.3 million votes to see off multimillionaire Conservative Zac Goldsmith and make history as the city's first Muslim mayor.

    In his victory speech in the early hours of Saturday morning, Khan had referenced the negative campaign against him by saying London had chosen "unity over division".

    Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron had led the attacks against Khan for sharing platforms with radical Muslims at public events, and Goldsmith said he was "radical and divisive".

    There was criticism from across the political spectrum on Saturday at the tone of the Tory campaign, but Defence Secretary Michael Fallon insisted it was legitimate.

    "Both candidates were asked questions about their backgrounds, their personalities, their judgment, the people they associate with," he told BBC radio.

    "That's the nature of our democracy and the rough-and-tumble of politics."

    - 'Nasty party' -

    News of the win was applauded in Pakistan, with Bilawal Bhutto, leader of the opposition Pakistan People's Party and son of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, and rival opposition leader Imran Khan tweeting congratulations.

    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was looking to working with his "fellow affordable-housing advocate" while Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted that Khan's "humanity (and) progressivism will benefit Londoners".

    Former Conservative government minister Sayeeda Warsi also offered her congratulations "from this daughter of a Pakistani bus driver to the son of a Pakistani bus driver", and condemned her party's campaign.

    "Our appalling dog-whistle campaign lost us the election, our reputation and credibility on issues of race and religion," she said.

    Khan admitted representing some "pretty unsavoury characters" during his previous job as a human rights lawyer but said their views were "abhorrent" and condemned the Conservatives' "desperate" attacks.

    Goldsmith's sister Jemima, the ex-wife of Pakistani cricketer and politician Imran Khan, said the tone of her brother's campaign "did not reflect who I know him to be".

    Cameron's former adviser, Steve Hilton, said Goldsmith had brought back the "nasty party label".

    In the audience at Southwark Cathedral was Doreen Lawrence, an anti-racism campaigner whose teenage son Stephen was killed by a gang of white youths.

    "I never imagined in my lifetime I could have a mayor of London from an ethnic minority," she said.

    - Labour losses elsewhere -

    Khan has broken the eight-year hold of the Conservatives on City Hall, succeeding the charismatic Boris Johnson in a prestigious post that has responsibility for transport, housing, policing and promoting economic development.

    His success was a boost for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran socialist who has been battling a row over anti-Semitism and growing criticism from the moderate wing of his party since his election in September.

    But Labour fared less well in other regional elections on Thursday.

    The party was beaten into third place in Scotland, once a Labour stronghold, as the Conservatives became the official opposition to the Scottish National Party (SNP), which won a third term in office.

    Labour maintained control of the Welsh assembly and lost only a handful of local council seats in England.

    But critics warned it should have done better against a government that has lost support over welfare reforms and is deeply divided ahead of the referendum on Britain's membership of the EU on June 23.


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  • Kremlin slams Charlie Hebdo cartoons on Russian air crash

    07/Nov/2015 // 860 Viewers

    French weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was slammed by the Kremlin Friday for publishing cartoons linking last week's crash of a Russian airliner with Moscow’s air campaign in Syria.

    "In our country we can sum this up in a single word, sacrilege," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists. "This has nothing to do with democracy or self-expression. It is sacrilege."

    Peskov said the cartoons – one showing falling debris from the plane with the caption “Daesh [Islamic State group]: Russia aviation intensifies its bombardments” – were “unacceptable”, but said Moscow would not be making an official complaint against the French magazine.

    The second cartoon features a skull wearing a broken pair of sunglasses, with a speech bubble saying: “I should have taken Air Cocaine”, a reference to the scandal involving two French pilots who allegedly smuggled suitcases filled with cocaine out of the Dominican Republic.

    The publication of the cartoons has been widely reported in Russi, although much less in France which is used to weekly outpourings of irreverent humour in Charlie Hebdo.

    Embedded image permalinkEmbedded image permalink

    The Russian Duma's international affairs chief Alexei Pushkov tweeted: "Is there any limit to Russophobia on the pages of Western media?

    "As the whole world comforts us, Charlie Hebdo preaches its vile right to sacrilege."

    "Is anyone else 'Charlie'?" asked foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Facebook, referring to the "Je Suis Charlie" slogan used by the magazine's supporters after January’s massacre of 12 people at Charlie Hebdo’s Paris office, at the hands of Islamists furious at the magazine’s depictions of the Prophet Mohammed.

     

     

    Charlie Hebdo’s editor Gerard Biard was unrepentant, accusing the Kremlin of using the magazine “to create a controversy where none exists, which is the usual manipulation you get from totalitarian states”.

    "This magazine is supposed to be irreverent,” he told AFP. “And we respect the values of democracy and freedom of expression which the Russian powers that be, in this case, do not."

    "Their argument about sacrilege is absurd. Are we supposed to no longer comment on the news in a different way or to say nothing more than it's sad? If so that becomes a problem for freedom of expression."

    The French foreign ministry said in a statement that "journalists are free to express their opinions in France, the authorities do not get involved”.

    Both Washington and London say a bomb may have downed the Russian plane carrying tourists, mostly Russians but also a small number of Ukrainians, from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. However up until Friday, Cairo and Moscow had sought to downplay the suggestion of an attack.

    Since September 30, Russia has been launching air strikes against Syrian rebels, including (but not limited to) the IS group, in support of its Middle East ally Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.


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  • EU warships start migrant smuggler patrols as leaders urge unity

    07/Oct/2015 // 121 Viewers

    AFP / by Marine Laouchez | Refugees are transported to a German warship -- that is helping to capture migrant-smugglers trying to cross the Mediteranean Sea, on September 26, 2015

     

    STRASBOURG (FRANCE) (AFP) - 

    European warships in the Mediterranean launched a new operation Wednesday to catch migrant smugglers as the leaders of Germany and France were to push for further EU action to cope with the refugee crisis.

    Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Francois Hollande will give a joint speech to the European Parliament, the first of its kind since 1989, in a bid to present an image of solidarity at a time of deep divisions in the EU.

    The military mission dubbed Operation Sophia involves six naval vessels in international waters off Libya with the power to stop, board, seize and destroy traffickers' boats in a bid to curb the worst crisis of its kind since World War II.

    - 'We want to arrest them' -

     

    Around 3,000 people have died making the perilous crossing over the Mediterranean to Europe this year, while over half a million have made the voyage, mostly landing in Greece and Italy.

    The first phase of the operation, which involved monitoring trafficker networks and rescuing refugees from rickety boats crossing the Mediterranean, has been running since June.

    "Assets will conduct boarding, search, seizure and diversion, on the high seas, of vessels suspected of being used for human smuggling or trafficking," the EU mission said in a statement.

    An Italian aircraft carrier, a French frigate and one British, one Spanish and two German ships are all involved in the mission, which follows in the footsteps of EU anti-piracy operations on the Horn of Africa.

    "We follow the traffickers and want to arrest them and seize their ships," Captain Stefan Klatt, who commands the Werra, one of the German ships that is taking part in the operation, told AFP.

    - Berlin Wall -

     

    The EU gave the go-ahead for the operation in international waters in September, but its ships are not, for now, allowed to pursue traffickers into Libyan waters.

    At least three other vessels supplied by the Belgian, British and Slovenian navies are expected to arrive in the area at the end of October to complete the force, which also include four aircraft and 1,318 personnel.

    But the operation is a drop in the ocean compared to the huge scale of a problem that has seen 630,000 migrants illegally enter the EU this year as people flee conflict in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Turkey is now the main launching point for migrants trying to enter Europe, and the EU on Tuesday offered Ankara a plan under which it would resettle more refugees if the Turks establish new camps and boosts its coastguard.

    With the European project creaking under the strain of the huge movement of desperate people, Merkel and Hollande were to issue a rallying cry in their speech to European lawmakers in Strasbourg.

    The last time the leaders of France and Germany stood together in parliament was 26 years ago when Francois Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl gave a similar speech just weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

    They are expected to highlight a common and multifaceted solution to the crisis that calls for admitting tens of thousands of genuine refugees, tightening EU external borders and cracking down on smugglers.

    But Europe has been deeply divided over how to respond to the crisis, which in addition to the Mediterranean has seen a new front opening over the summer in Hungary and Croatia as migrants cross the Balkans

    Plans to relocate 160,000 refugees to other EU nations from overstretched Greece and Italy were only adopted last month after EU leaders overrode objections from eastern European states.

    The crisis has also fuelled the rise of nationalist and eurosceptic parties, as well as feeding the debate over Britain's membership of the EU, which is set to be put to a vote before the end of 2017.

    Two Iranians were arrested and remanded in custody after having walked through the Channel Tunnel from France to Britain, police said Wednesday, the latest in a series of breaches.

    by Marine Laouchez


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