Ramadan security boost for UK Muslims

Local religious leaders stand together for solidarity following an attack outside a mosque in London on Monday. (Reuters)
Updated 19 June 2017
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Ramadan security boost for UK Muslims

LONDON: Muslims will see an “increased police presence” at mosques and community centers across the UK, according to the chairman of Finsbury Park Mosque.
Speaking to Arab News following Monday’s terror attack in north London, Mohammed Kozbar said that UK Prime Minister Theresa May had promised him there would be additional “measures and actions.”
The assurances came at a meeting on Monday afternoon in Finsbury Park Mosque between Kozbar, May, and multi-faith leaders that lasted around 45 minutes.
After the meeting, Kozbar told Arab News: “The first thing is to make sure that mosques and Muslim community centers are protected, and this is why you will see an increased police presence, especially during the last 10 days of Ramadan. We would like to reassure our community that they are safe.”
Kozbar said that the tone of the meeting with the prime minister was positive: “We wish that Theresa May had come under different circumstances but here we are. She listened in a positive way and heard the needs of the community, and about the rise of Islamophobia, and she listened to the concerns of Muslims feeling vulnerable.”
Even with an increased police presence, Kozbar admitted that there are limits to what can be achieved. “With the attack on Westminster Bridge and here, you cannot protect against it, but we have to take every precaution to protect our community starting with additional security measures,” he said.
It is unclear when additional policing will begin, but local residents voiced concerns. Fatima, who did not give her family name, told Arab News: “We don’t want to be living in fear that we always need security around us. We want to be living in the free world.”
Visibly drained by Monday’s events, Kozbar admitted that a long-term solution to the current crisis is not obvious, but he believes that the UK government “needs to be in touch with people on the ground,” including the leadership at Finsbury Park Mosque.


France, Saudi Arabia to hold Yemen humanitarian conference end June

Updated 59 min 27 sec ago
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France, Saudi Arabia to hold Yemen humanitarian conference end June

  • France and Saudi Arabia will co-host an international conference on Yemen in Paris
  • More than 10,000 people have been killed in a war that has displaced 3 million internally

PARIS: France and Saudi Arabia will co-host an international conference on Yemen in Paris in June to assess humanitarian needs for the country and possibly contribute to reviving U.N.-backed peace talks.
A Saudi-led coalition backed by the West has carried out air strikes against the armed Houthi movement in a war since 2015 to restore the internationally recognised government.
More than 10,000 people have been killed in a war that has displaced 3 million internally and unleashed the world's worst humanitarian crisis, the UN says.
"We are currently working on how to organise this conference with our various partners, Yemen and the United Nations," France's foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll told reporters in a daily briefing on Wednesday.
"This conference should take stock of humanitarian needs, evaluate the assistance provided and the response mechanisms which need to be improved and define humanitarian actions to improve the situation of civilian populations."
The French president's office said the conference would take place at the end of June. A source aware of the plans said it was scheduled for June 27.
Von der Muhll declined to say whether Paris intended to invite representatives of the Iran-aligned Houthis.
"This work, which we want to be collective, can help to recreate the conditions for a resumption of political discussions under the auspices of the United nations," Von der Muhll said in a statement on Tuesday.
It is unclear how this would fit into the UN Yemen mediator Martin Griffiths' efforts. He said in April he wanted to present a plan for negotiations within two months to end the conflict, but warned that any new military offensives could "take peace off the table."
Three rounds of UN-backed peace talks between the Houthis and the Yemeni government, with the last held in Kuwait in August 2016, ended without success. Griffiths began his term in March in a bid by the U.N. to revive the stalled peace process.