UK’s governing Conservatives face pressure as London mayor blasts ‘tacit endorsement’ of Islamophobia

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 25 February 2024
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UK’s governing Conservatives face pressure as London mayor blasts ‘tacit endorsement’ of Islamophobia

  • Sadiq Khan says ‘enough is enough’ following MP Lee Anderson’s claim that ‘Islamists’ have ‘got control’ of mayor
  • Deputy PM defends ex-Home Secretary Suella Braverman after she echoed Anderson’s sentiments

LONDON: London’s Muslim mayor has accused Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of “tacit endorsement” of Islamophobia in his Conservative Party.

Sadiq Khan’s accusation came after the “belated” suspension of Conservative MP Lee Anderson, who refused to apologize for saying in a TV interview that “Islamists” had “got control” of the mayor.

“I don’t actually believe that the Islamists have got control of our country, but what I do believe is they’ve got control of Khan and they’ve got control of London,” Anderson told GB News. “He’s actually given our capital city away to his mates.”

Khan said Muslims are considered “fair game” for prejudice by the Conservatives.

It comes amid a series of scandals for the governing party after its former leader Liz Truss attended a major conservative conference in the US where she appeared on a panel at which British far-right figure Tommy Robinson was praised, and former Home Secretary Suella Braverman penned an article for the Daily Telegraph suggesting “Islamists” are “in charge” of the UK.

Over the weekend, senior party figures failed to fully condemn Anderson despite his suspension, including Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden and Defense Secretary Grant Shapps.

Khan said: “Blatant anti-Muslim hatred is being tolerated from top to bottom of the party, with everyone from ministers to mayoral candidates failing to condemn even the most clear-cut examples of bigotry and racism.”

He added: “Anderson’s comments have poured petrol on the fire of anti-Muslim hatred … The message it sends is some forms of hatred and racism are acceptable. Enough is enough.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said Sunak has “extremists” in his party acting “with impunity.”

Labour Chair Anneliese Dodds said in a letter to her Conservative counterpart Richard Holden that Anderson’s comments are “unambiguously Islamophobic, divisive and damaging.”

She cited other incidents of Islamophobia in the governing part, including London mayoral candidate Susan Hall’s suggestion that Jewish Londoners were “frightened” of Khan’s “divisive attitude” in October, and Conservative MP Nus Ghani saying she was told her “Muslimness” made “colleagues uncomfortable” by an unnamed party official in 2020.

Truss, meanwhile, has been criticized by former Chancellor Sir Sajid Javid for failing to address comments made by US conservative figure Steve Bannon at the Conservative Political Action Conference in which he called Robinson a “hero.”

Sir Sajid said: “I’d hope every MP would confront such a statement head-on … Liz should really know better.”

On Saturday morning, Shapps defended Anderson’s right to “speak (his) mind.” On Sunday, Dowden refused to condemn Anderson as a racist in an interview with Sky News in which he said Anderson had used “the wrong words.”

Dowden added: “I don’t believe the language used by Suella Braverman has crossed the line whereby she should apologize for it.”


Trump to meet with senior Japanese official after court session Tuesday in hush money trial

Updated 16 sec ago
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Trump to meet with senior Japanese official after court session Tuesday in hush money trial

“Leaders from around the world know that with President Trump we had a safer, more peaceful world,” said Trump spokesperson Brian Hughes
Trump met last week with Polish President Andrzej Duda at Trump Tower and also met recently with British Foreign Secretary David Cameron and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán

WASHINGTON: Former President Donald Trump is meeting with another foreign leader while he’s in New York for his criminal hush money trial.
The presumptive GOP nominee will host former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso at Trump Tower Tuesday, according to two people familiar with the plans who spoke on condition of anonymity because they had not been formally announced.
Aso is just the latest foreign leader to spend time with Trump in recent weeks as US allies prepare for the possibility that he could win back the White House this November.
“Leaders from around the world know that with President Trump we had a safer, more peaceful world,” said Trump spokesperson Brian Hughes in a statement. “Meetings and calls from world leaders reflect the recognition of what we already know here at home. Joe Biden is weak, and when President Trump is sworn in as the 47th President of the United States, the world will be more secure and America will be more prosperous.”
Trump met last week with Polish President Andrzej Duda at Trump Tower and also met recently with British Foreign Secretary David Cameron and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
Trump was close with Shinzo Abe, the former Japanese prime minister who was assassinated in 2022. Aso is vice president of the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party and also served as deputy prime minister and finance minister under Abe.
Trump has threatened to impose broad new tariffs if he wins a second term.
Early Tuesday morning, he complained about the US dollar reaching a new high against the Japanese yen, calling it “a total disaster for the United States.”
“When I was President, I spent a good deal of time telling Japan and China, in particular, you can’t do that,” he wrote on his Truth Social platform. “It sounds good to stupid people, but it is a disaster for our manufacturers and others.”
The US dollar is trading at above 150 yen recently, up from 130-yen mark a year ago, which has made it more costly for Japan to import goods but has boosted exports.
President Joe Biden hosted current Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the White House for talks and a state dinner earlier this month. During the visit, the leaders announced plans to upgrade US-Japan military relations, with both sides looking to tighten cooperation amid concerns about North Korea’s nuclear program and China’s increasing military assertiveness in the Pacific.

Bangladesh, Qatar sign 10 cooperation deals during emir’s first Dhaka trip

Updated 11 min 51 sec ago
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Bangladesh, Qatar sign 10 cooperation deals during emir’s first Dhaka trip

  • Agreements cover investment, maritime transport and establishment of joint business council
  • Bangladeshi president invited Qatar’s emir to invest in the country’s special economic zones

DHAKA: Bangladesh and Qatar signed 10 cooperation agreements on Tuesday as the Gulf state’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani made his first official visit to Dhaka.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Tamim witnessed the signing ceremony, which covered deals on investment, maritime transport, taxation, legal affairs and the establishment of a Bangladesh-Qatar joint business council.

The two countries also signed several memoranda of understanding, including on diplomatic training, education, labor, youth and sports, as well as port management cooperation.

Sheikh Tamim then held a meeting with President Mohammed Shahabuddin as part of his visit to Bangladesh, which is the second stop in the emir’s Asia tour that began in the Philippines on Sunday.

During their talks, Shahabuddin invited Qatar to invest in Bangladesh’s special economic zones.

“Bangladesh will welcome investments in various sectors including in state-led food supply chains from production to consumption such as agro-production and processing, food packaging, smart agriculture and fertilizer production,” Shahabuddin’s press secretary Joynal Abedin told reporters after the meeting.

“Qatar investors can get massive incentives and support in sectors like petrochemicals, energy, machineries, information technology, electronics, ceramics, agri-business, and food processing in Bangladesh.”

Shahabuddin also urged Sheikh Tamim to recruit more skilled workers from Bangladesh during their talks, Abedin said.  

Qatar is currently the largest supplier of liquefied natural gas to Bangladesh. Earlier this year, the emirate signed a 15-year agreement with the US-based Excelerate Energy to supply 1 million metric tons per year of LNG to Bangladesh starting from January 2026.

The Gulf state is also home to about 400,000 Bangladeshis who live and work there, as it is one of the preferred destinations for migrant workers from the South Asian country.


India’s Modi calls rivals pro-Muslim as election campaign changes tack

Updated 15 min 40 sec ago
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India’s Modi calls rivals pro-Muslim as election campaign changes tack

  • Modi has accused Congress of having an election plan to redistribute wealth of Hindus among Muslims
  • Modi’s government has repeatedly been accused of discrimination against India’s estimated 200 million Muslims

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist party have begun attacking opposition rivals, saying they favor minority Muslims, in what analysts see as a bid to invigorate their hard-line base after general elections began last week.
India began voting on Friday in a seven-phase election at which Modi seeks a rare third consecutive term, with campaigning that had so far largely focused on his record of growth and welfare as well as his personal popularity.
But in a speech on Sunday, Modi referred to Muslims as “infiltrators” who have “more children,” linking the comment to what he called an election plan of the main opposition Congress party to redistribute the wealth of Hindus among Muslims.
The Congress denied making any such promise and petitioned the Election Commission to act against Modi, who surveys suggest will win a comfortable majority, though analysts say his party wants to avert possible voter fatigue and overconfidence.
The controversial remarks were an unusual “deviation” from Modi’s usual practice as he rarely targets Muslims directly, said Hilal Ahmed, a political analyst at Delhi’s Center for the Study of Developing Societies.
They followed low voter turnout in areas where the BJP had done well in 2019, he added.
“The low turnout simply means that the committed BJP voter has not yet come out,” Ahmed said. “They obviously want the committed voter to come out. That is the reason for this deviation.”
The comment on redistribution of wealth to Muslims was supported and amplified on Monday by BJP members, including Modi’s powerful cabinet colleague, Home Minister Amit Shah, who mentioned it in a campaign speech.
Modi aired the claim again on Tuesday, a day after speaking about the gains Muslims have made during his 10-year rule.
In the southern state of Karnataka, half of which votes on Friday in the second phase of elections, BJP members have staged protests against last week’s murder of a Hindu woman by a Muslim man.
They say the incident is an instance of “love jihad,” a term Hindu groups use to accuse Muslim men of waging a campaign that lures Hindu women to convert to Islam with promises of marriage.

EXPOSING OPPOSITION, BJP SAYS

Modi’s government has repeatedly been accused of targeting and discrimination against India’s estimated 200 million Muslims, who form the world’s third-largest Muslim population.
The government has denied all accusations, and Modi has said he works for the betterment of all.
“Stating facts and exposing the flawed strategy of the opposition is our job,” BJP president J.P. Nadda told Reuters, when asked about Modi’s weekend comments.
But he said the BJP remained committed to its slogan of betterment, underlining reforms pushed by Modi’s government to help Muslim women and the poor among the community.
Another senior BJP leader and member of the party’s central election panel said Modi’s Sunday comments should not be seen as “polarizing,” as he had only reminded voters about the “Muslim-first strategy” of Congress and its allies.
He spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.
In January, Modi inaugurated a grand temple to the Hindu god-king Lord Ram on a once-disputed site believed to be his birthplace, fulfilling a longstanding promise projected by the BJP as a symbol of Hindu rejuvenation.
In campaign speeches Modi refers to the temple, but he has focused more on his development and welfare record and national pride to counter the opposition focus on joblessness, price rise and rural distress in the world’s fastest growing major economy.
“When the campaign started, the focus was entirely on development, welfare, reaching out to marginalized people and Hindutva came last,” said analyst Ahmed, referring to the Hindu nationalism espoused by the BJP.
“After the first phase, they realized they need to go back to their own voters ... back to the basics.”


16 dead, 28 missing in migrant boat capsize off Djibouti: UN

Updated 28 min 13 sec ago
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16 dead, 28 missing in migrant boat capsize off Djibouti: UN

  • The accident occurred about two weeks after another boat carrying mainly Ethiopian migrants sank off the Djibouti coas

NAIROBI: At least 16 people are dead and 28 missing in a new migrant boat disaster off the coast of the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti, the UN’s International Organization for Migration said on Tuesday.
The accident occurred about two weeks after another boat carrying mainly Ethiopian migrants sank off the Djibouti coast, claiming several dozen lives.
“Tragedy as boat capsizes off Djibouti coast with 77 migrants on board including children,” the IOM said in a post on X, without specifying when the latest incident occurred.
“At least 28 missing. 16 dead,” it said, adding that the local IOM branch was “supporting local authorities with search and rescue effort.”
It was the latest deadly accident on the so-called Eastern Migration Route.
Another boat carrying more than 60 people sank off the coast of Godoria in the northeast of Djibouti on April 8, according to the IOM and the Ethiopian embassy in Djibouti.
The IOM said at the time the bodies of 38 migrants, including children, were recovered, while another six people were missing.
The embassy in Djibouti said the boat was carrying Ethiopian migrants from Djibouti to war-torn Yemen.

Each year, many tens of thousands of African migrants brave the perilous “Eastern Route” across the Red Sea and through war-scarred Yemen, escaping conflict or natural disaster, or seeking better economic opportunities.


Indian court extends pre-trial detention of opposition leader Kejriwal

Updated 23 April 2024
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Indian court extends pre-trial detention of opposition leader Kejriwal

  • Kejriwal, chief minister of national capital territory of Delhi, was arrested last month in connection with graft allegations
  • Kejriwal’s detention has united the 27-party opposition alliance called INDIA, which includes AAP and the Congress party

A Delhi court on Tuesday extended the pre-trial detention of Indian opposition leader Arvind Kejriwal until May 7 in a corruption case, the legal news website Live Law reported.

Kejriwal, the chief minister of the national capital territory of Delhi, was arrested last month in connection with graft allegations relating to the city’s liquor policy, weeks before general elections.

The Enforcement Directorate, India’s federal financial crime-fighting agency, is investigating allegations that a liquor policy implemented by the Delhi government in 2022 gave undue advantages to private retailers.\

The policy was subsequently withdrawn. Kejriwal, who rose to power as an anti-corruption crusader and is a critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has denied wrongdoing.

His arrest on March 21 sparked protests in Delhi and in the northern state of Punjab governed by his decade-old Aam Aadmi Party, and also drew the attention of the United States and Germany.

His detention has united the 27-party opposition alliance called INDIA, which includes AAP and the Congress party.

However opinion polls suggest that Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has a strong lead in elections that are underway and is likely to win a historic third term.

Opposition parties have alleged that the action against Kejriwal is politically motivated but Modi and his party deny the accusations and say law enforcement agencies operate independently.

A seven-phase general election is underway in India, with the second phase of voting scheduled to take place on Friday.