Danish PM joins hundreds at funeral for Dane slain in Morocco

The casket of Danish student Louisa Vesterager Jespersen is seen ahead of the funeral service inside Fonnesbaek Church in Ikast, Sweden January 12, 2019. (Reuters/Denmark OUT)
Updated 12 January 2019
0

Danish PM joins hundreds at funeral for Dane slain in Morocco

  • Moroccan authorities have arrested a total of 22 people in connection with the murders
  • They include four main suspects and a Spanish-Swiss man who had links to some of the suspects and who subscribed to “extremist ideology”

COPENHAGEN: Hundreds of mourners, including Denmark’s prime minister, packed a small Danish church on Saturday for the funeral of a woman hiker murdered in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains in December.
Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, was killed together with 28-year-old Maren Ueland from Norway, as the two camped overnight at an isolated hiking spot south of Marrakesh while on vacation.
Their bodies were found the following day.
Moroccan authorities have said they were beheaded and are calling the crime a “terrorist” act.
Saturday’s 45-minute service for Jespersen was held at the Fonnesbaek Church in Ikast, in the Mid Jutland region of Denmark.
Speaking just before Jespersen’s casket was carried out of the church, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen vowed her life would not be forgotten.
“Though the pain is unbearable, we must not succumb. We must remember who we are, what we are made of, and what we stand for,” he said.
According to tabloid B.T., more than 400 people attended the service in the small, modern church. An adjoining room next to the main hall was opened to accomodate all of the guests.
Moroccan authorities have arrested a total of 22 people in connection with the murders. They include four main suspects and a Spanish-Swiss man who had links to some of the suspects and who subscribed to “extremist ideology,” Moroccan officials say.
The main suspects belonged to a cell inspired by Daesh ideology, but none of the four had contact with Daesh members in Syria or Iraq, Morocco’s counter-terror chief Abdelhak Khiam told AFP.
Jespersen and Ueland had been studying outdoor activities and tourism at the University of Southeastern Norway.
The pair decided to go to Morocco for Christmas and arrived for a month-long holiday on December 9.
They had traveled to the foothills of Mount Toubkal, North Africa’s highest peak, not far from the tourist village of Imlil.
Friends have described the two young women as “adventurers” and “sociable.”
“The girls took all the necessary precautions before leaving for the trip,” Maren’s mother Irene told Norwegian’s NRK television in December.
Ueland’s funeral is to be held in Norway on January 21.


India holds ‘Super Tuesday’ vote

Indian National Congress party president Rahul Gandhi (C) gestures after laying a wreath to pay tribute on the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre at the Jallianwala Bagh martyrs memorial in Amritsar on April 13, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 11 min 19 sec ago
0

India holds ‘Super Tuesday’ vote

  • Rahul Gandhi is standing in Wayanad in Kerala state, taking a risk as south India is considered a stronghold of regional parties
  • This election is seen as a referendum on his five-year rule — which has seen impressive economic growth but not the jobs that the BJP promised

NEW DELHI: Indians are voting Tuesday in the third phase of the general elections with campaigning by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party and the opposition marred by bitter accusations and acrimony.
People lined up outside voting station at several places even before the polling started at 7 a.m.
The voting for 117 parliamentary seats in 13 states and two Union Territories on Tuesday means polls are half done for 543 seats in the lower house of Parliament. The voting over seven phases ends May 19, with counting scheduled for May 23.
The election is seen as a referendum on Modi’s five-year rule. He has adopted a nationalist pitch trying to win the majority Hindu votes by projecting a tough stance against Islamic neighbor Pakistan.
The opposition is challenging him for a high unemployment rate of 6.1% and farmers’ distress aggravated by low crop prices.
Modi is scheduled to vote on Tuesday in his western home state of Gujarat, though he is contesting for a parliamentary seat from Varanasi, a city in northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
The voting also is taking place in Wayanad constituency in southern Kerala state, one of the two seats from where opposition Congress party president, Rahul Gandhi, is contesting. His home bastion, Amethi, in Uttar Pradesh state will have polling on May 6. He will give up one seat if he wins from both places.
The voting is staggered to facilitate movement of security forces to oversee an orderly election and avoid vote fraud.
India’s autonomous Election Commission intervened last week to block hate speeches by imposing a temporary ban on campaigning by some top politicians across political parties.
Uttar Pradesh state chief minister Yogi Adityanath of Modi’s BJP was barred from campaigning, in the form of public meetings, road shows or media interviews, for three days for making anti-Muslim speeches. He said a Hindu god will ensure the BJP victory in elections, while the opposition was betting on Muslim votes.
Mayawati, a leader of Bahujan Samaj Party, was punished for 48 hours for appealing to Muslims to vote only for her party. India’s top court ordered strict action against politicians for religion and caste-based remarks.
Hindus comprise 80% and Muslims 16% of India’s 1.3 billion people. The opposition accuses the BJP of trying to polarize the Hindu votes in its favor.
Meenakshi Lekhi, a BJP leader, filed a contempt of court petition against Rahul Gandhi in the Supreme Court for misrepresenting a court order while accusing Modi of corruption in a deal to buy 36 French Rafale fighter aircraft. Modi denies the charge.
Modi has used Kashmir to pivot away from his economic record, playing up the threat of rival Pakistan, especially after the suicide bombing of a paramilitary convoy on Feb. 14 that killed 40 soldiers, in a bid to appear a strong, uncompromising leader on national security. The bombing brought nuclear rivals India and Pakistan close to the brink of war.
Opposition parties have consistently said that Modi and his party leaders are digressing from the main issues such as youth employment and farmers’ suicides.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and both claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety. Rebels have been fighting Indian control since 1989. Most Kashmiris support the rebels’ demand that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country, while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control.