Blasphemous cartoons’ reproduction ‘racist act’

Updated 15 January 2015
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Blasphemous cartoons’ reproduction ‘racist act’

CAIRO: Egypt’s Grand Mufti warned the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Tuesday against publishing blasphemous material, saying it was a racist act that would incite hatred and upset Muslims around the world.
Charlie Hebdo is due to publish a front page on Wednesday showing a sacrilegious caricature in its first edition since gunmen attacked the weekly’s offices in Paris last Wednesday.
“This edition will cause a new wave of hatred in French and Western society in general and what the magazine is doing does not serve coexistence or a dialogue between civilizations,” the office of Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam, one of the region’s most influential clerics, said in a statement.
“This is an unwarranted provocation against the feelings of ... Muslims around the world.”
The mufti described the attack on Charlie Hebdo as “terrorist” and Egypt’s Al-Azhar has referred to the attack as a criminal act.
The grand mufti’s office called on the French government to reject what he called the “racist act” by Charlie Hebdo, accusing the newspaper of seeking to provoke “religious strife... and deepen hatred.”
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has accused the West of hypocrisy. “The West’s hypocrisy is obvious. As Muslims, we’ve never taken part in terrorist massacres. Behind these lie racism, hate speech and Islamophobia,” he said.
Meanwhile, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told members of Parliament Tuesday that France is not at war against Islam and Muslims. “France is at war with terrorism, jihadism and radicalism,” he said.
Separately, thousands of people joined German political and religious leaders at a Muslim community rally against Islamophobia on Tuesday.
Speakers at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate remembered the victims of the Paris attacks and called for religious tolerance and unity.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and half of her Cabinet were among the guests at a wreath-laying ceremony outside the French Embassy and listened as an imam recited Qur’anic verses condemning the taking of life.
Sending a rebuke to a growing anti-Islamic movement in Germany, she said: “Hatred, racism and extremism have no place in this country. We are a country based on democracy, tolerance and openness to the world.”


Hong Kong protesters continue past march’s end point

Updated 21 July 2019
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Hong Kong protesters continue past march’s end point

  • Around 10,000 people gathered in Admiralty, the district housing the city’s government complex, despite orders from police to disperse immediately
  • Protesters repeated the five points of their 'manifesto,' which was first introduced when a small group of them stormed the legislature earlier this month

HONG KONG: Protesters in Hong Kong pressed on Sunday past the designated end point for a march in which tens of thousands repeated demands for direct elections in the Chinese territory and an independent investigation into police tactics used in previous demonstrations.

Around 10,000 people gathered in Admiralty, the district housing the city’s government complex, despite orders from police to disperse immediately. Others continued toward Central, a key business and retail district and the site of the 2014 Umbrella Movement sit-ins.

Large protests began last month in opposition to a contentious extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to stand trial in mainland China, where critics say their rights would be compromised.

Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, has declared the bill dead, but protesters are dissatisfied with her refusal to formally withdraw the bill. Some are also calling for her to resign amid growing concerns about the steady erosion of civil rights in city.

A former British colony, Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997, and was promised certain democratic freedoms under the framework of 'one country, two systems.' Fueled by anger at Lam and an enduring distrust of the Communist Party-ruled central government in Beijing, the demonstrations have ballooned into calls for electoral reform and an investigation into alleged police brutality.

Walking in sweltering heat, protesters dressed in black kicked off Sunday’s march from a public park, carrying a large banner that read 'Independent Inquiry for Rule of Law.' 'Free Hong Kong! Democracy now!' the protesters chanted, forming a dense procession through Hong Kong’s Wan Chai district as they were joined by others who had been waiting in side streets.

“I think the government has never responded to our demands,” said Karen Yu, a 52-year-old Hong Kong resident who has attended four protests since last month. “No matter how much the government can do, at least it should come out and respond to us directly.”

Marchers ignored orders from police to finish off the procession on a road in Wan Chai, according to police and the Civil Human Rights Front, the march’s organizers. Protesters repeated the five points of their 'manifesto,' which was first introduced when a small group of them stormed the legislature earlier this month.

Their main demands include universal suffrage — direct voting rights for all Hong Kong residents — as well as dropping charges against anti-extradition protesters, withdrawing the characterization of a clash between police and protesters as a 'riot' and dissolving the Legislative Council.                   

Protesters read the demands aloud in both English and Cantonese in videos released Saturday. “We did not want to embark on this path of resisting tyranny with our bare bodies,” they said, “but for too long, our government has lied and deceived, and refused to respond to the demands of the people.”

While the demonstrations have been largely peaceful, some confrontations between police and protesters have turned violent. In Sha Tin district last Sunday, they beat each other with umbrellas and bats inside a luxury shopping center. Demonstrators broke into the Legislative Council building on July 1 by moving past barricades and shattering windows.

Meanwhile, police officers have used pepper spray, tear gas, bean bag rounds and rubber bullets to quell the crowds.On Friday, Hong Kong police discovered a stash of a powerful homemade explosive and arrested a man in a raid on a commercial building.

Materials voicing opposition to the extradition bill were found at the site, local media said, but a police spokesman said no concrete link had been established and the investigation was continuing.