Contributor’s Links post for January 22nd, 2019

Daily Links Post graphic

Each day at just after midnight Eastern, a post like this one is created for contributors and readers of this site to upload news links and video links on the issues that concern this site. Most notably, Islam and its effects on Classical Civilization, and various forms of leftism from Soviet era communism, to postmodernism and all the flavours of galloping statism and totalitarianism such as Nazism and Fascism which are increasingly snuffing out the classical liberalism which created our near, miraculous civilization the West has been building since the time of Socrates.

This document was written around the time this site was created, for those who wish to understand what this site is about. And while our understanding of the world and events has grown since then, the basic ideas remain sound and true to the purpose.

So please post all links, thoughts and ideas that you feel will benefit the readers of this site to the comments under this post each day. And thank you all for your contributions.

This is the new Samizdat. We muse use it while we can.

About Eeyore

Canadian artist and counter-jihad and freedom of speech activist as well as devout Schrödinger's catholic

47 Replies to “Contributor’s Links post for January 22nd, 2019”

    • ‘Thumbs up’ is now a neo-Nazi secret symbol

      I guess that “lost” tribe they discovered in the Philippines (with their TUGs – Thumbs Up Gestures), were all a bunch of crypto-Tojoist-Nazis after all. Harumph!

  1. Relations between Italy and France, traditionally close allies, have grown frosty since the far-right League and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement formed a coalition last year and took aim at pro-EU French President Emmanuel Macron.

    A source in Macron’s office dismissed the latest attack as “ludicrous”, while Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte sought to ease the escalating tensions, saying relations between the two countries remained strong despite a string of recent rows.

    On Monday France summoned Italy’s ambassador after Salvini’s fellow deputy prime minister, Luigi Di Maio, accused Paris of creating poverty in Africa and generating mass migration to Europe.

    Salvini backed up Di Maio, saying France was looking to extract wealth from Africa rather than helping countries develop their own economies, and pointed particularly to Libya, which has been in turmoil since a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 that overthrew strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

    “In Libya, France has no interest in stabilizing the situation, probably because it has oil interests that are opposed to those of Italy,” Salvini told Canale 5 TV station.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-italy-salvini/italys-salvini-bashes-france-over-libya-role-in-new-diplomatic-spat-idUSKCN1PG0QI?utm_source=reddit.com

  2. Iranians’ Presence in Revolution Anniversary Rallies to Foil Enemy Plots: Minister (tasnimnews, Jan 22, 2019)
    https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2019/01/22/1928783/iranians-presence-in-revolution-anniversary-rallies-to-foil-enemy-plots-minister

    “Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli highlighted the importance of the upcoming rallies marking the 40th anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution, saying that massive presence of the people would thwart enemy conspiracies…”

  3. PA Says will Stop Accepting US Aid in Response to New Anti-terrorism Law (aawsat, Jan 22, 2019)
    https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1557056/pa-says-will-stop-accepting-us-aid-response-new-anti-terrorism-law

    “The Palestinian Authority (PA) officially informed US President Donald Trump’s administration that it will stop taking any form of government aid from the United States at the end of the month.

    This came in response to the “Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act”, known as ATCA, approved by US President Donald Trump in October 2018, which makes it possible for US citizens to sue foreign entities that receive US aid.

    If the PA accepts any US aid whatsoever, it could be subject to lawsuits amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars by Americans harmed in operations carried out by Palestinians.

    “The Palestinian government respectfully informs the US government that, as of January 31st, 2019, it fully disclaims and no longer wishes to accept any form of aid referenced in ATCA,” PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah wrote in the letter sent to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo back on December 26, 2018.

    “The Palestinian government unambiguously makes the choice not to accept such aid.”

    The PA wants to avoid legal and financial prosecution, Palestinian sources told Asharq Al-Awsat, adding that the law targets the PA and comes in line with the war waged by the US administration against it.

    According to sources, trials have began against Palestinian banks and will develop to reach the PA and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).

    The law put Palestinians before two options, either to abandon US security aid or face bankruptcy in case they were tried.

    The US administration has earlier cut aid to the Palestinians, including the complete cessation of UNRWA funding, the cessation of aid to Palestinian projects and hospitals in Jerusalem and civil organizations concerned with coexistence. However, it maintained assistance to the security services that is estimated at 60 million dollars.

    Late 2018, Trump tried to put pressure on the US Congress to circumvent the law with regard to US aid to the Palestinian security services.

    His administration commissioned a senior US military officer, who is responsible for security coordination with the Palestinian security forces, to brief members of Congress on the implications of stopping aid for PA security services.”

  4. Saudi Aramco Recognized as Leader in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (aawsat, jan 22, 2019)
    https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1557066/saudi-aramco-recognized-leader-fourth-industrial-revolution

    “Saudi Aramco’s Uthmaniyah Gas Plant (UGP) has been recognized by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as a “Lighthouse” manufacturing facility, a leader in technology applications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

    “The recognition of the Uthmaniyah Gas Plant demonstrates Saudi Aramco’s shift to transform and adapt in the rapidly changing global energy landscape,” Aramco said in a statement on Monday.

    The facility is the latest example of Saudi Aramco’s application of Advanced Analytics and Artificial Intelligence solutions to increase productivity while enhancing safety, reliability and efficiency of its operating facilities.

    The use of drones and wearable technologies to inspect pipelines and machinery has helped cut inspection time by 90 percent in this industrial facility.

    “Uthmaniyah is only one part of our large integrated energy value chain where IR 4.0 technologies are playing a critical role to enable significant capital and operational efficiencies,” said Amin H. Nasser, Chief Executive Officer of Saudi Aramco.

    “Through the application of IR 4.0 technologies, we can be at the forefront of the industry helping to shape the future of energy as part of Saudi Aramco’s mission to supply oil and gas around the world safely and reliably,” he added.

    Saudi Aramco is the first energy company globally to be included in this select group of manufacturing sites, it said, adding that the plant is also the only facility in the Middle East to be recognized by WEF.

    The announcement was made ahead of WEF’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

    The gas plant is one of the world’s largest gas processing plants. It was commissioned in 1981 as part of Saudi Aramco’s Master Gas System to process associated gas from oil wells.”

  5. Egypt: 59 Suspected Militants Killed in Sinai (aawsat, jan 22, 2019)
    https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1556721/egypt-59-suspected-militants-killed-sinai

    “The Egyptian military announced Tuesday that at least 59 suspected militants have been killed in recent operations in the northern Sinai region.

    In a statement, it said that it arrested another 142 militants, according to The Associated Press.

    It added that airstrikes destroyed 56 vehicles containing weapons and ammunition in the Western Desert, south and northeastern border areas.

    The military statement gave no timeframe for these recent operations.

    Egypt launched a nationwide operation against militants last year. It has voiced its determination to defeat a long-running insurgency in Sinai, which serves as a base for Egypt’s ISIS affiliate.”

    • Five terrorists killed by Egyptian police in Qalioubiya shootout: Ministry (ahram, Jan 22, 2019)
      http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/322214/Egypt/Politics-/Five-terrorists-killed-by-Egyptian-police-in-Qalio.aspx

      “Egyptian police have killed five terrorists affiliated with the banned Muslim Brotherhood group during a raid in Qalioubiya, north of Cairo, a statement by the interior ministry said on Tuesday.

      The terrorists were killed in a shootout as security forces attempted to raid a deserted factory in the governorate’s Obour City, which the terrorists were using as a hideout and to manufacture explosives.

      Weapons, including improvised explosive devices and other explosive materials, were found at the scene by police.

      The raid came after monitoring operations by the ministry’s national security department, which said that the terrorists planned to execute a number of attacks against vital institutions and personnel from the police and Armed Forces.

      Over the past months, Egyptian police have announced the “elimination” of dozens of terrorists who were plotting to carry out attacks throughout the country.”

  6. UK government announces independent review of Prevent strategy (mee, Jan 22, 2019)
    https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/uk-government-announces-independent-review-prevent-strategy-599996209

    “The British government on Tuesday bowed to calls for an independent review of its controversial Prevent counter-extremism strategy.

    Responding to proposed House of Lords amendments to the government’s counter-terrorism and border security bill, Security Minister Ben Wallace told members of parliament that the time was right to initiate a review into Prevent.

    But, announcing the review, he also attacked critics of the strategy, accusing them of using “distortions and spin”.

    Civil liberties and human rights organisations including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have backed calls for an independent review of Prevent, which has long been dogged by complaints that it is discriminatory against Muslims.

    “It will give an opportunity to those critics of Prevent to provide evidence,” Wallace said.

    “Time and time again you have to spend your time knocking down allegations without any evidence behind it. I look forward to them producing the evidence as part of the process.”

    The amendment commits the government to making arrangements for an independent review of Prevent within six months of the bill being passed.

    Wallace said that the terms of reference of the review had not yet been discussed and that he welcomed suggestions as to who should conduct the review.

    “Communities across the country have got behind the policy and are contributing to it because they want to, as we do, protect their young people from being groomed by extremists,” Wallace said.

    ‘Chilling effect’
    Nick Thomas-Symonds, the shadow security minister for the opposition Labour party, said that he welcomed the review.

    He said there were concerns about a conflict between the intelligence gathering and safeguarding aspects of Prevent.

    “There are aspects of our society and communities who have lost faith in the programme. We need a programme that everyone can have faith in. None of us want to see people having a life of violence and hatred driven by these ideologies,” he said.

    Since 2015, the Prevent Duty has placed a statutory obligation on public sector workers, including teachers and doctors, to “have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”.

    In 2016, Rights Watch (UK) said that the extension of Prevent into schools was having a “chilling effect” on discussion in classrooms and said that the strategy had resulted in a “catalogue of serious violations” of the government’s human rights obligations.

    It said on Tuesday that the review needed to be “genuinely independent, robust and effective and have human rights at its heart”.

    A report by the US-based Open Society Justice Initiative in the same year said that the strategy was counter-productive and had led some Muslims to question their place in British society.

    Amrit Singh, the author of the Open Society Justice Initiative, told Middle East Eye: “We need more information, including on the terms of reference of the review. If this were a genuinely independent review of Prevent and its impact on human rights and communities, it would be something to be welcomed.”

    Some Muslim organisations including the Muslim Council of Britain have also campaigned for Prevent, which is part of the UK’s broadercounter-terrorism strategy, to be independently reviewed.

    In a statement, Harun Khan, Secretary General of the MCB welcomed the review.

    “For far too long, the Prevent strategy has affected the lives of innocent families, been criticised for mainstreaming discrimination and lost the trust of communities around the UK.

    “This latest step is crucial for all those who have campaigned for an independent review of Prevent. Everyone committed to developing a truly effective strategy for tackling terrorism understands that it must be transparent, accountable and hold the trust of communities.”

    Other Muslim advocacy groups have called for the strategy to be abolished.

    In a “Muslim Manifesto” ahead of the 2017 general election, the Muslim advocacy organisation MEND called on politicians to commit to “repealing the current statutory Prevent duty, and replacing this with a more effective, evidence based and non-discriminatory counter-terrorism strategy by engaging with Muslim communities”.

    Wallace’s announcement was welcomed by her party colleague Sayeeda Warsi, a former co-chair of the Conservative Party and a longstanding critic of Prevent, who said on Twitter it was “good news”.

    But Warsi said it was a shame that the government had been forced into the review by its defeat in the House of Lords over the counter-terrorism and border security bill last month.

    The campaign group Cage, which has called for Prevent to be scrapped, said that Wallace’s announcement should be viewed with caution by communities, activists and academics opposed to the policy.

    Asim Qureshi, Cage’s research director, said that by allowing the review the government had conceded that Prevent lacked trust and credibility.

    But he said: “Rather than scrapping a fundamentally misguided policy that is not fit for purpose, a ‘review’ when no long-term impact assessments have been carried out into the harm that it caused, will lend it a new lease of life.”

    Advocates for Prevent argue that it addresses far-right and other forms of extremism, though the majority of referrals involve suspected Islamic extremism, Home Office figures show.

    “Prevent is having significant success,” Wallace said. “The work that has been done over the past two years clearly shows that Prevent is not about a particular group or ideology but is similar to other forms of safeguarding.”

    The number referred for far-right extremism increased to 36 percent in the year to March 2018, according to the latest Prevent referral figures, published last month.

    But referrals related to suspected Islamic extremism accounted for 44 percent of referrals. About five percent of the British population identified as Muslim according to the last census in 2011.”

  7. HRW raises alarm over human rights abuses in Egypt and Saudi Arabia in 2019 (mee, Jan 22, 2019)
    https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/middle-east-Egypt-Yemen-human-rights-abuses-war-hrw-417949675

    “Human Rights Watch says it has been forced to close half its offices in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) due to the security or political risks associated with its work in the region, while the human rights abuses in those countries have only worsened.

    At the MENA section launch of the group’s 2019 World Report on Tuesday, HRW’s regional experts lamented the fact that their organisation could not hold its annual event in any of the cities where it once had regional offices, such as Cairo, Tripoli and Sanaa.

    “The Middle East has become closed to civil society,” said HRW Middle East and North Africa Director Sarah Leah Whitson in her opening remarks at the event, held at London’s Frontline Club.

    Many countries in the region, such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Morocco, have imposed strict visa restrictions on HRW officials to bar them from entering, Whitson said.

    “This means people’s stories and experiences aren’t getting told,” she said.

    Other countries, such as Egypt, have banned the work of the rights group altogether, while Israel is currently attempting to expel one of HRW’s researchers, based in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, over allegations he supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

    Nevertheless, Whitson said her organisation is using different resources to try to document the realities on the ground in the MENA region – a reality she said is shared by journalists and even some government officials.

    Egypt: A ‘full-fledged dictatorship’
    On Tuesday, HRW named four key stories to watch across the region in the coming year: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen and women’s rights.

    HRW’s advocacy and communications director, Ahmed Benchemsi, described Egypt as “a full-fledged dictatorship”, pointing to the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi imposing a virtual ban on protests and inaugurating 19 new jails to accommodate a surging number of political prisoners.

    Sisi’s re-election last year was “a farce”, Benchemsi said. A former military general who ousted his predecessor Mohammed Morsi in a coup, the Egyptian president has been accused of pushing out any rival candidates that could mount a viable challenge to his continued rule.

    Benchemsi also said the Sisi government is using terrorism as a pretext to stifle opposition, a narrative that he said has been accepted by Egypt’s allies abroad.

    Meanwhile, the army’s approach in Sinai is creating a “boomerang effect” and stoking discontent that feeds militants affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) group, he said.

    The rights group, which has not been allowed into Egypt since 2014, also called for greater attention to be paid to the case of Morsi, who has been held in solitary confinement for six years and banned from regular family visits.

    Whitson urged Egypt to end the “inhumane conditions” of his detention. “The fact that he has been unnecessarily and unlawfully held in extreme solitary confinement strengthens the case that the charges against him are politically motivated,” she told Middle East Eye.

    Benchemsi said he will attend meetings with diplomats in Paris ahead of a scheduled visit to Egypt next week by French President Emmanual Macron. He said he plans to urge the French government to make its economic, security and military support for the Egyptian government conditional on human rights.

    Tempered optimism
    Despite a largely bleak prognosis for the year ahead, HRW’s experts outlined a positive way ahead in some parts of the region.

    Kristine Beckerle, a Yemen researcher, said although the country has “all but collapsed”, two critical steps could improve the situation there: the release of detainees and restrictions on weapons sales to the Gulf states fighting in the ongoing war.

    Saudi-led forces launched a military operation, with the support of the United Arab Emirates, in Yemen in 2015 to root out the country’s Houthi rebels and restore ousted President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi to power.

    Beckerle said Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their allies take notice when Western countries refuse them arms.

    “There are incredible people in Yemen pushing for justice, peace and change,” she said.

    “The question is, when will states choose to stand beside them, rather than continue to arm those fighting with more bombs and bullets?”

    Also on a more positive note, Rothna Begum, a senior researcher at HRW’s women rights division, said last year saw minor victories for women in the region, such as Saudi Arabia lifting a ban on women driving and Tunisia’s proposal to grant equal inheritance to women.

    However, Begum and others tempered these positive developments by underlining the fact that many activists who promoted Saudi women’s right to drive have been arrested, while some have also reportedly been tortured and subjected to sexual abuse in detention.

    Saudi Arabia continues to uphold a draconian male guardianship system which forces women to get permission from a male guardian to make critical decisions, such as who they can marry, or where and when they can travel.

    The system has left “the vast majority of Saudi women trapped” in their own country, Begum said.”

  8. Rights groups demand EU action as migrants sent back to Libya, detained (mee, Jan 22, 2019)
    https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/rights-groups-demand-eu-action-migrants-sent-back-libya-detained-350889869

    “Nearly 500 migrants have been brought back to Libya since Saturday after they were picked up at sea while trying to reach the coasts of Europe, according to local officials, as the United Nations called on countries to halt all forcible returns to Libya amid widespread human rights abuses there.

    Libyan coastguard spokesperson Ayoub Qassem said the figures, released on Tuesday, include more than 140 migrants who were rescued in the Mediterranean by the “Lady Sham” cargo ship on 20 January.

    The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said those migrants were brought to Libya’s western city of Misrata on Monday and then transferred to a detention centre.

    “It remains unclear when and from where in Libya these individuals departed. IOM staff counted 26 women and four children among those taken to a detention centre in Misrata,” the group said.

    Charlie Yaxley, a spokesman for the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR), called on states to stop returning migrants found at sea to Libya, given the country’s political upheaval and “widespread human rights violations”.

    “No rescued refugees and migrants should be returned there,” Yaxley wrote in a brief on Tuesday.

    Libya has been torn between rival administrations and a myriad of militias since the overthrow and killing of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Despite that, it has become a jumping off point for many migrants and asylum seekers, many from sub-Saharan Africa, as they seek to reach Europe.

    Often crammed into shoddy vessels, the Mediterranean crossings off the Libyan coast have become increasingly perilous.

    In addition to the hundreds of migrants sent back to Libya over the past several days, around 170 people are believed to have died in two separate shipwrecks over the weekend.

    ‘Politicking around sea rescues’
    Yaxley denounced “politicking around sea rescues” by European states that have restricted aid groups from conducting missions.

    Last month, Doctors Without Borders announced that it was forced to suspend operations of the Aquarius search and rescue ship, which has helped almost 30,000 refugees, migrants and asylum seekers in international waters between Libya, Italy and Malta.

    The group said the decision came after what it said were attempts by European countries to stymie the vessel’s efforts in the Mediterranean.

    “Politicians must stop using human-beings for political point-scoring, and to instead address this as a humanitarian issue, with saving lives the priority. Reducing arrivals cannot be the only barometer for success when people are drowning on Europe’s doorstep,” Yaxley said in his brief.

    “Lives are being tragically lost,” he added.

    HRW made a similar call in a report released on Monday, accusing the European Union of “enabling the barbaric detention system” in Libya and failing to do enough to ensure the safety of people disembarking from the North African country to make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean.

    “Migrants and asylum seekers detained in Libya, including children, are trapped in a nightmare, and what EU governments are doing perpetuates detention instead of getting people out of these abusive conditions,” said Judith Sunderland, associate Europe director at HRW.

    IOM said at least 4,883 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea during the first 20 days of 2019.

    According to HRW’s report, almost 20 percent of those who reached Europe by sea from Libya last year were children.”

  9. Study: Iran is only victor after US invasion of Iraq (memo, Jan 22, 2019)
    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190122-study-iran-is-only-victor-after-us-invasion-of-iraq/

    ““An emboldened and expansionist Iran appears to be the only victor” after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, a new study prepared by the US army concluded.

    A 1,300-page study commissioned by former Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno in 2013, added: “At the time of this project’s completion in 2018, an emboldened and expansionist Iran appears to be the only victor.”

    According to the study, the US troops withdrawal from Iraq by the end of 2011, nine years after the US-led invasion in 2003 allowed Daesh to expand its influence prompting the US to intervene in the country again.

    “The Iraq War has the potential to be one of the most consequential conflicts in American history. It shattered a long-standing political tradition against preemptive wars. In the conflict’s immediate aftermath, the pendulum of American politics swung to the opposite pole with deep skepticism about foreign interventions,” the study said.

    The 2003 US invasion of Iraq overthrew long-term president Saddam Hussein, through the US withdrawal was followed by the rise of Daesh and greater Iranian influence in Iraqi political spheres.”

  10. IOM: Nearly 5,000 refugees arrive in Europe in 3 weeks (memo, Jan 22, 2019)
    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190122-iom-nearly-5000-refugees-arrive-in-europe-in-3-weeks/

    “Some 4,883 irregular migrants and refugees have reached Europe by sea in the first 20 days of 2019, the UN migration agency said on Tuesday, Anadolu Agency reports.

    During the same period last year, 4,466 refugees and migrants entered Europe and 201 others drowned in the Mediterranean, according a report published by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

    “The last time fewer than 200 migrants drowned in January in these waters was in 2015, when 82 died in January. In 2014, IOM recorded just 12 deaths of seaborne Mediterranean migrants in January,” said IOM.

    Some 30,510 migrants died between 2014 and 2018 while making the treacherous journey to Europe, the UN agency reported earlier this month.”

  11. Sex traffickers hold 20,000 Nigerian women and girls in Mali, agency says (reuters, Jan 22, 2019)
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-nigeria-trafficking-mali/sex-traffickers-hold-20000-nigerian-women-and-girls-in-mali-agency-says-idUSKCN1PG2L6

    “As many as 20,000 women and girls are feared to have been trafficked from Nigeria to Mali where they are stranded after being forced into prostitution, the head of Nigeria’s anti-trafficking agency said on Tuesday.

    Julie Okah-Donli, director general of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), said a fact-finding team from NAPTIP and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) had uncovered the extent of the trafficking during a visit to southern Mali last month.

    Dozens of women and girls were repatriated from the Kangaba area of southern Mali in the preceding months. The team, which went to the area to investigate, found hundreds more being held there, Okah-Donli said in a telephone interview.

    “They were reliably informed by the locals that they had over 200 such places scattered around the southern part of Mali. In each of the shacks where they held them they had 100 to 150 girls in the area. That is how we came to the figure” of at least 20,000 being held, she said.

    The women and girls, most aged 16-30, had been told they would be taken to Malaysia to work in hospitality but instead were forced into prostitution.

    “They are held in horrible, slave-like conditions,” said Okah-Donli. “They can’t escape because they are kept in remote locations, like deep in forests.”

    Thousands of women and girls are taken out of Africa’s most populous country each year, where 70 percent of the 190 million inhabitants live on less than two dollars a day. A large proportion of them arrive in Europe but others are transported to other parts of west Africa.

    Okah-Donli said her agency had partnered with IOM, which arranged the repatriation of 41 women and girls from Mali in December and was working on returning others home.

    They come mostly from states in southern Nigeria, including Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa, Anambra and Edo.

    Others are also thought to be trafficked to other west African countries including Ghana, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, said Okah-Donli.”

  12. UAE provides $3billion lifeline to Pakistan (gulfnews, Jan 22, 2019)
    https://gulfnews.com/uae/uae-provides-3billion-lifeline-to-pakistan-1.61598015

    “UAE will provide the much-awaited $3-billion deposit to help Pakistan come out of its economic crisis and to boost liquidity.

    The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, ADFD, Tuesday formalised a $3 billion (Dh11 billion) deposit into the State Bank of Pakistan to support the country achieve the long-term objectives of its monetary policy…”

  13. Yemen raids kill 79 rebels in 48 hours (ahram, Jan 22, 2019)
    http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/322224/World/Region/Yemen-raids-kill–rebels-in–hours.aspx

    “Saudi-led coalition air strikes in Yemen have killed almost 80 Houthi rebel fighters over 48 hours in the western province of Hodeida, military and medical sources said Tuesday.
    The strikes on Hodeida, site of a vital port and target of a renewed coalition offensive, also left seven civilians dead, they said.

    Saudi Arabia intervened in Yemen at the head of a military coalition to support the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after the Houthis ousted it from the capital Sanaa and swathes of the country’s north.

    The coalition has used air power to oust the Iran-backed rebels from much of the country’s south.

    But the Houthis continue to hold Sanaa and the key Red Sea port of Hodeida.

    Following the collapse of United Nations-backed talks in September, the coalition announced it was relaunching an assault on Hodeida city and its port.

    The port is the main conduit for aid and commodities into Yemen, which is teetering on the brink of famine.

    The fighting has since eased and the coalition has focused its raids on the city limits and other parts of the surrounding province.

    However, in the past 48 hours, coalition raids have hit two farms, two rebel training camps and an area close to the city’s port, according to rebel military sources.

    Rescue personnel and medical sources have confirmed that 79 rebel fighters were killed and their bodies taken to hospitals in the province.

    Yemen’s war has left 10,000 people dead, mostly civilians, since the coalition intervened in 2015, and triggered what the UN has labelled the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”

  14. Police station attacked, cars torched in Portugal protests (ahram, Jan 22, 2019)
    http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/9/322207/World/International/Police-station-attacked,-cars-torched-in-Portugal-.aspx

    “Unidentified attackers threw petrol bombs at a police station in the Portuguese city of Setubal and torched cars in the capital Lisbon, hours after a protest against police violence ended in clashes, authorities said.

    Police said in a statement that three Molotov cocktails caused unspecified damage to the station in the early hours of Tuesday but nobody was hurt. They reinforced patrols to guarantee residents’ safety.

    Police said their investigation could not establish any links to a rally in central Lisbon on Monday night, which followed a police raid on a slum in Seixal, on the outskirts of the capital south of the Tagus River. Setubal is about 50 kilometers south of Lisbon.

    On Sunday police responding to a call about a brawl between two women entered the Jamaican neighborhood in Seixal, where mostly black local residents allegedly greeted them with a hail of stones.

    A video published on the internet showed police officers beating up several black men. Four local residents and one police officer were lightly injured and treated in hospital. One person was arrested.

    Rights group SOS Racismo said the police response was unjustified and requested that the prosecutor’s office open an investigation.

    On Monday night, about two hundred mostly black protesters blocked Lisbon’s Avenida da Liberdade thoroughfare, chanting “Down with racism!”. Stones were thrown at police officers who dispersed the rally.

    Police said on Tuesday that one person was arrested on suspicion of torching four vehicles and a dozen garbage cans on Monday night in greater Lisbon’s Odivelas district.

    There are several poor neighborhoods on the outskirts of Lisbon where immigrants mostly from Portugal’s African ex-colonies live.

    Race-related violence is rare in Portugal but in one incident in 2015 18 police officers were charged with crimes motivated by racism.”

  15. Dutch-Moroccan Achraf El Johari Runs for Youth Mayor of Amsterdam (moroccoworldnews, Jan 22, 2019)
    https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2019/01/264091/dutch-moroccan-achraf-el-johari-youth-mayor-amsterdam/

    “Speaking with Morocco World News, Achraf El Johari, 22, shared his story of ambition to win the election for youth mayor of Amsterdam.

    El Johari recently obtained his bachelor’s degree in law studies and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in private law.

    To him, most of the problems that young people face in Amsterdam “are not visible on the political agenda because there is no youth representation in politics.”

    El Johari told MWN that youth in the Netherlands “have little to no interest in local politics.”

    However, he said, “young ‘Amsterdammers’ (person from Amsterdam) do not have the privilege to be apolitical.”

    From here, his youth mayor campaign was born. He wanted “to close the gap of Youth representation in our democracy.”

    As an “Amsterdammer” whose parents are originally from Driouch near Nador in Morocco’s northern Rif region, El Johari is faced with several “uncertainties.”

    Among the issues that many of his peers experience, especially from non-Dutch families, is racism…”

  16. 2 Moroccan University Students Go On Hunger Strike in France (moroccoworldnews, Jan 22, 2019)
    https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2019/01/264110/moroccan-university-student-hunger-strike/

    “Mostapha and Wissal, two Moroccan students at Paris Nanterre University, started a hunger strike Monday to demand their “legitimate rights as students.”

    Mostapha, 23, who arrived in France eight months ago, asked for free French language courses. Since the course is not free, the university asked him to pay €650 for one-semester of study. The second-year student of sociology said he could not afford the courses, French newspaper Le Parisien reported.

    Mostapha had asked the university’s social assistance service for “help” but his request was refused.

    Wissal, 20, also complained Nanterre University only offered her distance learning courses. Distant courses will not allow her to obtain a residence permit unlike campus-based learning, the newspaper explained.

    “I think it’s calling into question my status as a student,” she said.

    Supported by the Maghreb Students Union of France (UEMF) association, the two students set up a tent on the ground floor of the Pierre Grappin building at the university.

    “We have nothing to lose. As long as we are not heard, we will not move from here,” Wissal asserted.

    The university administration, according to Le Parisien, claimed to have “taken into account” the “special cases” of the two students and made every effort to find solutions.

    Moroccans are a large part of the foreign student community in France.

    During the 2017/2018 academic year, there were 39,855 Moroccan students enrolled in French higher education institutions, according to Campus France, the French Agency for the Promotion of Higher Education, Hospitality, and International Mobility.

    In November last year, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced that his country is planning to increase tuition costs for international students, starting from the 2019-2020 academic year.

    International students at French universities will pay higher enrollment fees, the equivalent of 30 percent of the total cost of their degrees.

    Education syndicates in France heavily criticized the government move. They argued that many of the concerned international students are not as rich as the prime minister claimed. The reform, according to them, will “reinforce social precarity” for students.”

  17. NATO Thanks Morocco for ‘Indisputable Loyalty’ to Allies (moroccoworldnews, jan 22, 2019)
    https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2019/01/264123/nato-morocco-cooperation-nato/

    “On Tuesday, Morocco’s Minister Delegate for National Defense Abdeltif Loudiyi received the secretary general for political affairs and security policy for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Alejandro Alvargonzalez.

    During the meeting, which is pursuant to the high royal instructions, the two officials discussed measures to increase cooperation between Morocco and NATO, particularly in the areas of defense capacity building, interoperability, cybersecurity, and cyber defense.

    According to a statement published by Maghreb Arab Press (MAP), the officials also discussed security issues in the Mediterranean region and the Sahel, where terror networks are active.

    The meeting took place during a seminar on cooperation between Morocco and NATO.

    The Moroccan-NATO cooperation is governed by an Individual Partnership and Cooperation Program.

    It includes the training of military officers and the exchange of expertise as well as regular exchanges of visits by senior officials from both sides.

    Alvargonzalez also met Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita. Following his talk with Bourita, the NATO official said, “What Morocco is doing every day for the security of the people of the Mediterranean basin, and beyond this geographical area, is extremely positive for the stability of all of us.”

    He also thanked King Mohammed VI for his leadership and for “the security of Morocco and the security that Morocco extends in the region.”

    He also expressed gratitude for the country’s “indisputable loyalty to the people of the Mediterranean, Europe, and the Maghreb.”

    Bourita said that the meeting between Morocco and NATO is part of the “long-standing” relations between the two partners.

    Morocco “is strengthened in its role of stability provider in the Sahel, the Mediterranean, and North Africa,” Bourita said.

    Bourita also recalled Morocco’s role in the areas of peacekeeping operations and the fight against terrorism and transnational crime.

    The role makes Morocco a “valued and sought-after partner,” Bourita concluded.”

  18. Cleric sentenced for sexual abuse of two young sisters in UK (tribune, jan 22, 2019)
    https://tribune.com.pk/story/1894303/9-cleric-sentenced-sexual-abuse-two-young-sisters-uk/

    “A cleric found guilty of sexually abusing two young girls who he privately tutored has been jailed in the United Kingdom.

    Hafiz Azizur Rehman Pirzada, 76, of Laughton Road, Northolt was sentenced to an eight-year imprisonment at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Monday for child abuse offences, according to Metropolitan Police UK.

    Pirzada will also have to sign the Sex Offenders Register for life and a Sexual Harm Protection Order was issued too.

    He was found guilty of seven counts of sexual assault of a child, and two counts of causing a child to engage in sexual activity after a trial at the same court in September 2017…”

  19. 3 terrorist networks busted in Kandahar province (khaama, jan 22, 2019)
    https://www.khaama.com/3-terrorist-networks-busted-in-kandahar-province-03161/

    “Three terrorist networks have been busted during the operations of the Afghan Intelligence (National Directorate of Security) forces in southern Kandahar province.

    The provincial government media office in a statement said the terrorist networks were busted during the operations which were conducted over the past one week.

    The statement further added that the terrorist networks comprised of 30 militants who were all arrested by the intelligence operatives.

    The detained militants were involved in major destructive activities including explosions, suicide bombings, and armed attacks, the provincial government added in its statement.

    According to the governor’s office, the militants were conducting attacks in Kandahar city and other districts of Kandahar province, mainly targeting security compounds, security check posts, and logistics convoys.

    This comes as the anti-government armed elements have been attempting to destabilize Kandahar province where the security situation had improved comparatively during the recent years.”

  20. Turkish-origin counterterror expert appointed vice president of German intel (hurriyetdailynews, jan 22, 2019)
    http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-origin-counterterror-expert-appointed-vice-president-of-german-intel-140685

    “Sinan Selen, a senior counterterrorism expert with Turkish roots, has been officially appointed as the vice president of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency BfV.

    Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced Selen’s appointment at an official ceremony at the headquarters of the BfV in Cologne on Jan. 21.

    The 47-year-old began his career in 2000 at the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and oversaw various investigations into foreign terrorist organizations between 2011 and 2016. He has also served as the head of Counterterrorism Task Force at the Interior Ministry.

    Selen’s appointment came after multiple scandals at the BfV in recent years, which have sparked public criticism and led to accusations of operating sympathetically with the far-right groups, and covering up the murders of the neo-Nazi group NSU.

    The shadowy NSU group killed eight Turkish and one Greek immigrant between 2000 and 2007, but the murders long remained unresolved.

    While recent revelations have shown that the BfV had informants who had contacts with the NSU suspects, officials insisted that they had no prior information about the killings.

    Germany has a 3 million-strong Turkish community, many of whom are second- and third-generation German-born citizens whose grandparents moved to the country during the 1960s.”

  21. 4 charged with planning attack on Muslims in New York )aa, Jan 22, 2019)
    https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/4-charged-with-planning-attack-on-muslims-in-new-york/1371916

    “Three men and one teenager were charged with plotting to attack a Muslim enclave in upstate New York with explosive devices, police said Tuesday.

    Police began an investigation into the plot in Greece, New York, after a student showed a picture to another student and said the person in the photo “looks like a school shooter.”

    After conducting the investigation, police discovered a plot to attack the Muslim community of Islamberg, New York.

    “There was a plan to attack this community with weapons,” said Greece Police Chief Patrick Phelan at a news conference.

    The Greece Police Department arrested Brian Colaneri, 20, Vincent Vetromile, 19, and Andrew Crysel, 18, on Saturday. All three were charged with three counts of first-degree criminal possession of a dangerous weapon and one count of fourth-degree conspiracy.

    Police also arrested and charged a 16-year-old boy in connection to the plot and under a new law are trying him as an adolescent.

    Police found a stockpile of 23 weapons as well as three improvised explosive devices (IED), which were found in the home of the 16-year-old.

    The IEDs are currently being processed at the FBI laboratory in Virginia.

    The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) demanded federal charges.

    “Anyone accused of plotting an act of violence targeting a religious minority should face state and federal hate crime and civil rights charges commensurate with the seriousness of their alleged actions,” CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher said in a news release.

    Islamberg was founded in the 1980s by Mubarak Ali Gilani, a cleric originally from Pakistan, as a rural enclave for Muslims who were escaping crime and poverty that existed in urban areas. The community is comprised largely of black Muslims.

    Right winged groups claim the town is a haven for extremists and terrorists, however, no evidence has shown to support the allegations.

    A 2008 counter-terrorism analysis from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point concluded there is no evidence that Islamberg is a part of a network of “paramilitary training grounds.””

  22. Indian forces kill 4 militants in Kashmir’s south (aa, Jan 22, 2019)
    https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/indian-forces-kill-4-militants-in-kashmirs-south/1371441

    “ndian forces on Tuesday killed four militants in Kashmir’s south, an official statement said.

    “Bodies of four militants have been recovered so far from the site of the gun battle in Shirmal village in Shopian district. Identities of the militants are yet to be ascertained,” India’s Central Reserve Police Force, a paramilitary force, said in a statement.

    However, police in the region confirmed the killing of only three militants.

    Local media reports suggest that one of the slain militants is believed to be Shamsul Mengnoo, whose brother is a high-ranking police official posted in India’s northeast.

    According to the reports, people took to the streets after the killings in Shopian district, with Indian forces opening fire on the protestors wounding several people including six journalists, who were hit by pellets.

    “We wanted to cross the road and displayed our cameras to the Indian forces. Two of us were wearing vests that had clear ‘PRESS’ signs on them. Despite that, they fired pellets at us,” Waseem Andrabi, one of wounded journalists and a photographer for Indian newspaper Hindustan Times, told the media.

    The killings came a day after three other militants were killed in Budgam district in central Kashmir on Monday.

    Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

    Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — two of them over Kashmir.

    Also, in Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire came into effect in 2003.

    Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

    According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.”

  23. Turkish institute begins language courses in Washington (aa, Jan 22, 2019)
    https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/turkish-institute-begins-language-courses-in-washington/1371919

    “The Washington branch of Turkey’s Yunus Emre Institute (YEE) on Tuesday announced the start of its Turkish language courses for 2019.

    The courses have attracted more than 150 participants from different ages and occupations since 2017.

    The 2019 courses, running from Monday to Thursday, offer two levels: beginner and elementary.

    Halid Bulut, the director of the institute, said the Turkish courses are being carried out with a curriculum and material selected specifically for non-Turkish speakers.

    “About 40 students registered for the courses,” Bulut told Anadolu Agency.

    He said at the end of the courses, the participants will take a certification exam to assess their skill level in the Turkish language.

    “During the courses, the participants do not only learn Turkish but also have the chance to see the most important values of our culture,” Bulut said.

    Since its establishment in 2009, the institute has taught Turkish to more than 100,000 people in 43 countries.

    Named after the 13th-century poet Yunus Emre, the institute now has 56 cultural centers in 46 countries around the world, offering artistic, social and scientific programs.”

  24. FETO terror group threat to world peace: Report (aa, Jan 22, 2019)
    https://www.aa.com.tr/en/turkey/feto-terror-group-threat-to-world-peace-report/1371665

    “Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) is “a new generation terror group” which besides being a threat to Turkey is a potential danger to international peace and security, according to a Turkish Police Academy report.

    The terrorist group also has the potential to affect inter-state relations, said the report, providing a detailed account on its ties to foreign intelligence services and its activities in various parts of the world.

    The report included information about the organization’s history, basic characteristics and objectives and its links with the media and education sector as well as its structure in Europe, the Balkans, the Middle East, Africa, Russia, Central Asia and the Caucasus.

    Focusing on the terror group’s ties with the U.S., which hosts headquarters of the group, the report said FETO has a strong infiltration in European countries and stressed that an international fight against the group was needed.

    FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

    Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

    The report pointed to the group’s similarity with leftist ethnic terrorist organizations and said: “The organization is destroying its targets, which it cannot eliminate through legal political and civil society activities, through assassination and threats.”

    The terror group disguises its true intentions to mingle with its sympathizers in Turkey and western powers, the report read.

    It also described FETO as “an illegal organization which poses itself as a religious or a civil society movement”.

    “The structure of FETO constitutes the latest, bloodiest and most global structure of modern cultist radicalization.”

    The terrorist group, the report said, had been infiltrating in the judicial and educational system, media, intelligence, security institutions as well as the army.

    FETO-linked Turkish judges and prosecutors, who at first appear to be unaware of each other, were revealed to have talked to the same overseas phone numbers.

    The report underlined the group’s strong ties with media organizations, which were used as a platform to infiltrate data and information for their own purposes.

    The group through its schools and associations hid their illegal activities around the world. The report revealed that the group was running their schools and associations in the name of westerners or residents of foreign countries.

    Through their network of educational institutes the group was also getting a pool of human resource, it added.”

  25. Austrian politics sees significant rise in Islamophobia (aa, Jan 22, 2019)
    https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/austrian-politics-sees-significant-rise-in-islamophobia/1371887

    “A study by an NGO revealed that in 2018 senior politicians in Austria participated in 20 campaigns against Muslims.

    SOS Mitmensch in a news conference on Tuesday shared with journalists its study on Islamophobic and anti-Muslim campaigns in 2018 in Austrian politics.

    It said that ruling Freedom Party Chairman and Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, the party’s Group Chairman in the parliament Johann Gudenus, Minister of Social Affairs Beate Hartinger-Klein have played a role in the spread of anti-Muslim campaigns with impunity.

    Spokesman of the NGO Mitmensch Alexander Pollak also said that hate campaings against Muslims, because of their religious orientation, has risen to an “unimaginable level” compared to a few years ago.”

  26. Probe shows exploited migrants paid just 3 euros per hour (ansa, Jan 22, 2019)
    http://www.ansa.it/english/news/2019/01/22/probe-shows-exploited-migrants-paid-just-3-euros-per-hour-2_d258904f-60e8-433e-ae42-9bc6347a61e8.html

    “Police in the northern city of Cremona on Tuesday carried out an operation to arrest suspected gang-masters who are accused of forcing migrants to work in degrading and unsafe conditions for just three euros per hour, investigative sources said.

    According to the probe, which was carried out between April and November last year, the criminal ring of gang-masters used migrants to collect second-hand clothes that were subsequently sold in North Africa.

    The organization, made up of non-EU nationals with the exception of one Italian suspect, operated in Cremona as well as in the provinces of Como, Bergamo and Reggio Emilia, investigators said.

    Three people were taken to jail while the Italian suspect was put under house arrest.”

  27. Migrants rescued at sea should be returned to Libya -Salvini (ansa, Jan 22, 2019)
    http://www.ansa.it/english/news/2019/01/22/migrants-rescued-at-sea-should-be-returned-to-libya-salvini_5e4e0592-e91d-43f1-9d1f-193deb82c5b6.html

    “Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said Tuesday that asylum seekers who are rescued at sea while trying to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa should be sent back to the country they embarked from – usually Libya.

    “You save them, as the Libyan coast guard did (at the weekend), and take them back,” League leader Salvini told Mediaset television. “In that way people will stop paying human traffickers for a trip that has no future, because it ends in death or with an existence on Italy’s streets”.

    Salvini reiterated that the government’s stance of refusing access to Italian ports to NGO-run migrant rescue ships will continue.

    This stance has come under renewed fire from from critics after 117 were reported missing, feared dead, when a migrant-boat sank in the Mediterranean last week. “The more people embark, the more people die,” Salvini said.

    “Those who love Africa should do everything to prevent them embarking”.”

  28. Germany exits Sophia mission due to Italy hard line (ansa, Jan 22, 2019)
    http://www.ansa.it/english/news/2019/01/22/germany-exits-sophia-mission-due-to-italy-hard-line_cb0610ac-b306-4062-b1bf-b90ec3d1b814.html

    “Germany on Tuesday interrupted its participation in the EU’s Sophia anti migrant smuggler operation citing Italy’s hard line on stopping NGO ships landing in Italian ports and sending migrants back to Libya, German news agency DPA said.

    After the frigate Augusta on Tuesday, DPA said, no further German ships will be sent off the Libyan coast.

    DPA cited German government sources as saying that the decision was due to Rome’s hard line on taking in migrants.”

  29. China ‘compressing’ technology gains: US intel official (france24, Jan 23, 2019)
    https://www.france24.com/en/20190123-china-compressing-technology-gains-us-intel-official

    “China is making technological advances in a far shorter timeframe than it took the United States, rapidly narrowing the gap between the two countries, a senior US intelligence official said Tuesday.

    Reaping the benefits of sending tens of thousands of students and researchers to the United States, and a determined policy to buy and steal US technology, Beijing has “compressed the timeframe” for catching up, and now has “remarkable” capabilities, the official told journalists on condition of anonymity.

    That is one of the key challenges for the United States, according to the new US National Intelligence Strategy.

    In unveiling the strategy, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said it sets a focus for the US intelligence community in a time of rapid technological change.

    “Today, we face the most diverse and complex set of threats that we have ever seen,” Coats said in a speech to the intelligence community.

    “The question then becomes what do we need to do now… We must become more agile.”

    The strategy, the first drafted in five years, notes major changes in the world led by the weakening of the post-World War II global order, China’s emergence as a global economic and military power, and the rise of cyber threats.

    Coats named China, Iran, North Korea and Russia as key state threats, but said a broad range of non-state actors — jihadist groups, organized crime and others — are empowered by new technologies and could find common interests among themselves.

    “Our greatest concern comes from those forces merging together,” Coats said.

    “You’re going to see interests aligned,” between non-traditional allies, warned the senior official from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

    That goes for the United States as well, the official said: “We need partnerships with non-traditional partners, state, local and tribal.”

    – US space lead eroded –

    At the time of the previous strategy in 2014, cyber attacks, along with threats to economic and financial security and to election security, were relative afterthoughts.

    Now, they are at the forefront, underscored by persistent attacks from Russia and China in recent years — with cyber security paramount, according to the new strategy.

    “Cyber hygiene is 90 percent of the issue” in confronting these challenges, the official said.

    The other area that deeply worries US intelligence is the loss of America’s longstanding lead in space.

    China and Russia especially are aiming for parity with the United States in space, but technology and commercialization have given many countries and non-state actors space capabilities as well.

    “We worry a lot about advantage,” the official said.”

     

  30. Christianity crackdown: Government PAINTS OVER cross mosaic to avoid OFFENDING people (express, Jan 22, 2019)
    https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1076300/christianity-persecution-indonesia-surakarta

    “A CROSS-SHAPED wall mosaic has been painted over after complaints to the local government. Officials decided “evaluate and replace” it in to avoid “controversy”.

    The government of the Indonesian city of Surakarta caved in to pressure and erased a mosaic, which some critics argued was shaped like a cross. The administration of the central Java’s city, home of more than 3.5 million people, had received multiple complaints from Muslim Troops (LUIS) and the Surakarta Syariah Council (DSKS). These associations have questioned over time the design of the mosaic, which from above resembles a Christian cross, and demanded the council to review it.

    According to the Straits Times, LUIS spokesman Endro Sudarsono said: “We’ve asked the Surakarta administration to evaluate and replace the cross-like mosaic with other motifs so as not to cause controversy and sectarian disputes.”

    The local council initially tried to shrug off the complaints, arguing the cross didn’t represent Christianity.

    Mayor FX Hadi Rudyatmo, who is Catholic, said his administration never planned to have a cross-shaped road mosaic in front of his office.

    And his deputy, Achmad Purnomo, said the mosaic was actually inspired by keraton (royalty) symbols of the Surakarta Sultanate, which has been designed by a Muslim.

    However, the council decided to cover the mosaic on January 19 to avoid “dragging on” the debate.

    Mr Purnomo said: “The administration has met with several religious leaders and came up with a number of solutions.

    “But to prevent the polemic from dragging on, we decided to cover the mosaic with paint.”

    Christianity is Indonesia’s second largest religion after Islam.

    However, Christians have been the target of violence and discriminations in the country.

    In 2006 three Catholic citizens in Sulawesi have been executed by a firing squad after being accused of leading riots in nearby Poso six years earlier – but human right activists raised doubts the men had been the masterminds of the turmoil.

    In 2011 Muslim rioters vandalised Protestant and Catholic churches, schools, and other property in Temanggung, Central Java.

    And in May last year three churches in Surabaya were the target of suicide bombings.

    The attacks, carried out by five people including a veiled woman who had two children with her, killed four people and injured 41 more.

    A civilian guard named Antonius said: “At first officers blocked them in front of the churchyard but the woman ignored and forced her way inside. Suddenly she hugged a civilian then the bomb exploded.””

  31. I don’t think there is anything unusual about the logo for the Pope’s visit to Morocco. The crescent surrounding the cross, all that means is that Morrocco is a Muslim country, and that there are a minority of Christians living there.
    The style of it is a modern style that has been used for example for World Youth Days with the Pope. The logo for the WYD in Panama is very similar. That was designed by a student at one of the schools in Panama: it shows the Panama Canal, an outline of Mary, the colours of the Panama flag, and a similar style of cross to the one on the Moroccan logo.

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