International News

Mourners pray at the graveside of Imam Hafiz Musa Patel, a victim of the March 15 mosque shootings in Christchurch at the Puhinui Memorial Gardens in Auckland, New Zealand on March 21. (AP)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday announced a ban of “military-style” semi-automatic firearms and high-capacity magazines like those used in the shootings at Christchurch mosques last week.

 

Ardern said a sales ban was effective immediately to prevent stockpiling and would be followed by a complete ban on the weapons after new laws were rushed through.

She said people could hand over their guns under an amnesty while officials develop a formal buyback scheme, which could cost up to 200 million New Zealand dollars ($140 million). The man charged in the mosque attacks had purchased his weapons legally using a standard firearms license and enhanced their capacity by using 30-round magazines “done easily through a simple online purchase,” Ardern said.

“Every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned,” she said. The ban includes any semi-automatic guns or shotguns that are capable of being used with a detachable magazine that holds more than five rounds. It also extends to accessories used to convert guns into what the government called “military- style” weapons. (AP)

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — An Ethiopian Airlines jet faltered and crashed Sunday shortly after takeoff, carving a gash in the earth and spreading global grief to 35 countries that had someone among the 157 people who were killed.

There was no immediate indication why the plane went down in clear weather while on a flight to Nairobi, the capital of neighboring Kenya. The crash was strikingly similar to that of a Lion Air jet in Indonesian seas last year, killing 189 people. Both accidents involved the Boeing 737 Max 8, and China ordered a temporarily grounding of those planes for Chinese airlines Monday.

The crash shattered more than two years of relative calm in African skies, where travel had long been chaotic. It also was a serious blow to state-owned Ethiopian Airlines, which has expanded to become the continent’s largest and best-managed carrier and turned Addis Ababa into the gateway to Africa.

“Ethiopian Airlines is one of the safest airlines in the world. At this stage we cannot rule out anything,” CEO Tewolde Gebremariam told reporters. He visited the crash site, standing in the gaping crater flecked with debris.

Black body bags were spread out nearby while Red Cross and other workers looked for remains. As the sun set, the airline’s chief operating officer said the plane’s flight data recorder had not yet been found.

Around the world, families were gripped by grief. At the Addis Ababa airport, a woman called a mobile number in vain. “Where are you, my son?” she said, in tears. Others cried as they approached the terminal.

Henom Esayas, whose sister’s Nigerian husband was killed, told The Associated Press they were startled when a stranger picked up their frantic calls to his mobile phone, told them he had found it in the debris and promptly switched it off.

Shocked leaders of the United Nations, the U.N. refugee agency and the World Food Program announced that colleagues had been on the plane. The U.N. migration agency estimated some 19 U.N.-affiliated employees were killed. Both Addis Ababa and Nairobi are major hubs for humanitarian workers, and many people were on their way to a large U.N. environmental conference set to begin Monday in Nairobi.

The Addis Ababa-Nairobi route links East Africa’s two largest economic powers. Sunburned travelers and tour groups crowd the Addis Ababa airport’s waiting areas, along with businessmen from China, Gulf nations and elsewhere.

A list of the dead released by Ethiopian Airlines included passengers from China, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Israel, India and Somalia. Kenya lost 32 citizens. Canada, 18. Several countries including the United States lost four or more people.

Ethiopian officials declared Monday a day of mourning.

At the Nairobi airport, hopes quickly dimmed for loved ones. “I just pray that he is safe or he was not on it,” said Agnes Muilu, who had come to pick up her brother.

The crash is likely to renew questions about the 737 Max , the newest version of Boeing’s popular single-aisle airliner, which was first introduced in 1967 and has become the world’s most common passenger jet.

China’s civil aviation authority on Monday ordered a nine-hour grounding of that model plane for safety reasons and said it would consult with Boeing and others further.

Indonesian investigators have not determined a cause for the October crash, but days after the accident Boeing sent a notice to airlines that faulty information from a sensor could cause the plane to automatically point the nose down.

The Lion Air cockpit data recorder showed that the jet’s airspeed indicator had malfunctioned on its last four flights, though the airline initially said problems had been fixed.

Safety experts cautioned against drawing too many comparisons between the two crashes until more is known about Sunday’s disaster.

The Ethiopian Airlines CEO “stated there were no defects prior to the flight, so it is hard to see any parallels with the Lion Air crash yet,” said Harro Ranter, founder of the Aviation Safety Network, which compiles information about accidents worldwide.

The Ethiopian plane was new, delivered to the airline in November. The Boeing 737 Max 8 was one of 30 meant for the airline, Boeing said in July. The jet’s last maintenance was on Feb. 4, and it had flown just 1,200 hours.

The plane crashed six minutes after departure , plowing into the ground at Hejere near Bishoftu, or Debre Zeit, some 50 kilometers (31 miles) outside Addis Ababa, at 8:44 a.m.

The jet showed unstable vertical speed after takeoff, air traffic monitor Flightradar 24 said. The senior Ethiopian pilot, who joined the airline in 2010, sent out a distress call and was given clearance to return to the airport, the airline’s CEO told reporters.

In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration said it would join the National Transportation Safety Board in assisting Ethiopian authorities with the crash investigation. Boeing planned to send a technical team to Ethiopia.

The last deadly crash of an Ethiopian Airlines passenger flight was in 2010, when a plane went down minutes after takeoff from Beirut, killing all 90 people on board.

African air travel has improved in recent years, with the International Air Transport Association in November noting “two years free of any fatalities on any aircraft type.”

Sunday’s crash comes as the country’s reformist young prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has vowed to open up the airline and other sectors to foreign investment in a major transformation of the state-centered economy.

Speaking at the inauguration in January of a new passenger terminal in Addis Ababa to triple capacity, the prime minister challenged the airline to build a new “Airport City” terminal in Bishoftu — where Sunday’s crash occurred.

___

Yidnek reported from Bishoftu, Ethiopia.

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ریاض۔۔ 2019ءکے اختتام تک امریکہ ، جاپان، چین اور یورپ کے بیشتر ممالک کے باشندوں کو ویزے سے استثنیٰ دیدیا جائیگا۔ انہیں سعودی ہوائی اڈے پر پہنچنے کے بعد سیاحتی ویزہ جاری ہوگا۔ وال اسٹریٹ جرنل نے یہ اطلاع سعودی عہدیداروں کے حوالے سے دی ہے۔ مقامی جریدے عکاظ نے بھی اپنے شمارے میں یہ اطلاع شائع کی ہے۔ جریدے کا کہنا ہے کہ ولی عہد محمد بن سلمان آمدنی کے وسائل میں تنوع پیدا کرنے اورسعودی معیشت کو جدید خطوط پر استوار کرنے کے لئے جو اسکیمیں ترتیب دے رہے ہیں یہ انہی میں سے ایک ہے۔

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation's Council of Foreign Ministers on Saturday reaffirmed its "unwavering support for the Kashmiri people in their just cause" and condemned in the strongest terms the recent wave of Indian terrorism in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, according to a press release issued by the Foreign Office (FO).

In a resolution adopted by the 46th session of Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM), the OIC member states reiterated that Jammu and Kashmir remains the core dispute between Pakistan and India and its resolution is indispensable for the dream for peace in South Asia, the FO said.

The OIC resolution expressed deep concern over the atrocities and human rights violations in Indian-occupied Kashmir.

The resolution, as per the FO, also reminded the international community of its obligation to ensure implementation of UN Security Council resolutions on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

In the context of the current volatile situation in the region, the OIC member states adopted a new resolution sponsored by Pakistan, which expressed grave concern over the Indian violation of Pakistani airspace; affirmed Pakistan’s right to self-defence; and urged India to refrain from the threat or use of force.

The OIC resolution on regional peace and security in South Asia also welcomed Prime Minister Imran Khan’s renewed offer of dialogue to India and the goodwill gesture of handing over the Indian pilot.

The resolution called for restraint and de-escalation as well as the need to resolve outstanding issues through peaceful means.

In another significant development, the OIC elected Pakistan as a member of its Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission from the Asian region, in acknowledgement of Pakistan’s constructive contribution to human rights discourse, norms and policies.

The OIC adopted two other resolutions sponsored by Pakistan on international disarmament and non-proliferation issues and reform of the UN Security Council.

The strong OIC support to the people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and the centrality of this core issue to regional peace is recognition of the key role that Pakistan plays as a founding OIC member.

Pakistan boycotted the plenary session of the 46th CFM at the Foreign Minister level as a result of Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj's presence.

Owing to the armed conflict between the two nuclear armed nations, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had asked the organisers, including the UAE crown prince, to withdraw the invitation extended to Swaraj.

However, the invitation was not retracted, leading to Qureshi deciding to skip the CFM meet, which concluded in Abu Dhabi today.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 5 February 2019: His Holiness Pope Francis, the Head of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of the Vatican City, has delivered an historic Papal Mass to 180,000 Catholics in the United Arab Emirates that was televised around the world.

 

The scale of the event, which took place at Zayed Sports Stadium in Abu Dhabi, is unprecedented for an event of this kind in the Arabian Peninsula and saw tens of thousands come from every corner of the UAE and overseas to participate.

 

The event saw 1500 paramedics, police and security staff on duty to ensure the safety and security of the Catholics attending the Mass. 

 

There were 100 Emiratis on duty managing gate security for the thousands who flocked to the event – the majority of whom traveled on the 2000 buses organised by the UAE Government in association with the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia (AVOSA), the territorial jurisdiction of the Catholic Church covering the UAE, Oman and Yemen.

 

It captured world media attention with 250 international journalists among the 600 media who covered the Papal Mass and broadcast the event live around the world.

 

His Holiness arrived on his Popemobile to greet the excited crowds both inside and outside the Zayed Stadium where he conducted the 90-minute Mass.

 

Guests included the UAE Minister of Tolerance H.E. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan

and H.E. Noura Al Kaabi, Minister for Culture and Knowledge Development among other

senior Government officials.

 

During his homily on a specially constructed stage within the stadium, Pope Francis thanked the UAE’s leadership and people saying “I would like to thank the children of Zayed in the land of Zayed” which received a rapturous welcome from the diverse multinational audience.

 

Reflecting what was one of the most diverse gathering of nationalities for a Papal Mass outside of Rome – elements of the 90-minute service were conducted in Italian, English, Arabic, Tagalog, Hindi and Korean.

 

The Mass was attended by nearly 20 per cent of the estimated one million Catholics living and working in the UAE.

 

Coming just days after the final of the Asian Cup, organisers worked day and night to transform the stadium and surroundings into the largest outdoor place of Christian worship ever seen in the Arabian Peninsula.

 

*Source: AETOSWire

  • Document On Human Fraternity Signed in UAE
  • Agreement To Help Bring an End to Conflicts and Fight Extremism

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, 4 February 2019: His Holiness Pope Francis and His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Dr. Ahmed At-Tayyeb have signed the historic Abu Dhabi Declaration – a document on Human Fraternity in the United Arab Emirates.

The “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” seeks to encourage stronger relationships between people to promote coexistence among peoples and to confront extremism and its negative impacts.

The signing ceremony was in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and attended by more than 400 religious leaders.

During the ceremony His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum also presented the first “Human Fraternity Award – From Dar Zayed” that was jointly given to Pope Francis and the Grand Imam.

The award was given to Dr. Ahmed at-Tayyeb in recognition of his firm position in defence of moderation, tolerance, global values and his vehement rejection of radical extremism.

Pope Francis meanwhile is well known as an advocate for tolerance and the laying aside of differences and for his determined call for the pursuit of peace and fraternity among humanity, and the award recognises this continued commitment and approach.

In a speech before signing the Abu Dhabi Declaration, Pope Francis said "hatred and violence" in the name of God cannot be justified, praising the value of education in reducing conflict.

Meanwhile Dr. Ahmed At-Tayyeb, who is one of the world’s foremost Muslim leaders, called on Muslims to protect Christian communities in the Middle East and for Muslims in the West to integrate into their communities.

"You are part of this nation... You are not minorities," he said during his speech at the ceremony.

The ceremony was part of the broader Human Fraternity Meeting that has witnessed the first ever Papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula and hosted by the UAE Government.

*Source: AETOSWire

Joram van Klaveren, a Dutch former far-right MP and right-hand man of anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders, set tongues wagging in the Netherlands on Tuesday after revealing he has converted to Islam.

For years Van Klaveren fought a relentless campaign in the Lower House against Islam in the Netherlands as a lawmaker for Wilders' party.

At the time, the “hardliner pleaded for banning the burqa and minarets, saying 'we don't want any Islam, or at least as little as possible in the Netherlands',” the daily tabloid Algemeen Dagblad (AD) said.

But the 40-year-old Van Klaveren said he had changed his mind halfway through writing an anti-Islam book.

The work “became a refutation of objections non-Muslims have” against the religion, he told the respected NRC daily on Tuesday.

“If everything I wrote up to that point is true, and I believe that, then I am a de facto Muslim,” he told the NRC.

Van Klaveren converted to Islam on October 26 last year, the NRCadded in the interview piece ahead of the release of Van Klaveren's book titled: “Apostate: From Christianity to Islam in the Time of Secular Terror.”

The former politician who grew up in a Protestant Christian environment said of his conversion that he “has been searching for a long time.”

“It feels a bit like a religious homecoming for me,” he told Dutch newspapers.

Van Klaveren could not be immediately reached for comment on Tuesday.

'No words'

I have no words,” Wilders told RTL television news.

“It's up to him of course. But it's good that he left the PVV five years ago, otherwise it would have been time for him to go now.

“I expect a lot but I didn't see this coming.”

Van Klaveren split with Wilders in 2014 after the PVV leader's controversial comments that year when asking supporters whether they wanted “fewer or more Moroccans in your city and the Netherlands”.

Wilders in 2016 was found guilty on discrimination charges. The sentence is currently being appealed.

Van Klaveren went on to form his own far-right party called “For Netherlands” (VNL) but left politics after failing to win a single seat in the 2017 elections.

“If this really isn't a PR stunt to promote his book, then it really is an extraordinary choice for somebody who had a lot to say about Islam,” his former VNL co-founder Jan Roos told the AD.

“But we have religious freedom in the Netherlands. He can worship whomever he wants,” Roos added.

Said Bouharrou, who serves on the Board of Moroccan Mosques in the Netherlands, praised Van Klaveren.

“It is great when somebody who has been so critical of Islam... realises that it is not so bad or perverse,” he told the AD.

“It is brave that he's prepared to do it in public,” Bouharrou said.

Around five per cent of the Dutch population of 17 million people, or some 850,000, are Muslim, according to the Dutch Central Statistics Bureau (CBS).

Despite Wilders' objections, the religion is growing, with experts expecting that number to double by 2050.

The Netherlands also last year introduced a partial burqa ban in some public places such as schools and hospitals, ending years of discussions on the hot-button issue.

Van Klaveren is not the first high-profile PVV member to convert to Islam.

He follows in the footsteps of Arnoud van Doorn, a former Hague-based PVV city councillor who switched in 2013.

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