France charges eight over plot targeting politicians

French soldiers patrol in front of the Eiffel Tower, in this January 8, 2015 file photo, in Paris. (AFP)
Updated 22 October 2017
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France charges eight over plot targeting politicians

PARIS: France has charged eight men, including three minors, following an investigation into far-right activists allegedly plotting to target politicians and mosques, prosecutors announced Saturday in Paris.
The men — aged between 17 and 29 — are accused of being party to a “criminal terrorist conspiracy,” and of links to Logan Alexandre Nisin, a militant who was arrested near Marseille in June.
Nisin is the founder of a group dubbed OAS. He was detained after posting that he planned to attack blacks, jihadists, migrants and “scum.”
The 21-year-old had earlier come to the attention of French authorities as the administrator of a Facebook page glorifying neo-Nazi Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in a bomb and gun rampage in 2011 in Norway.
The prosecutor’s office in Paris said that the group formed by Nisin “had plans to commit violent actions with vague outlines.”
Anti-terror police had arrested 10 people on Tuesday over the alleged plot, but two of them, including Nisin’s mother, were released, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.
Among the potential targets for attacks were places of worship, including mosques, politicians, “people of North African descent or black people” and “anti-fascist” activists, a probe source said.
“The organization was planning purchases of weapons and paramilitary training. Some were already trained in shooting,” the source added.
OAS was the acronym for the Secret Army Organization, a French far-right paramilitary group that fought to stop Algerian independence.
Nisin was formerly active in the far-right political group Action Francaise.
France remains under an enhanced security status. Parliament on Wednesday adopted a tough anti-terror bill which which replace a state of emergency imposed in 2015 after jihadist attacks in Paris.


Own up to mass Muslim detentions, Amnesty tells China

Updated 41 min 27 sec ago
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Own up to mass Muslim detentions, Amnesty tells China

  • Beijing has tightened restrictions on Muslim minorities to combat what it calls Islamic extremism and separatist elements in Xinjiang
  • Critics say the drive risks fueling resentment toward Beijing and further inflaming separatist sentiment

BEIJING: China must come clean about the fate of an estimated one million minority Muslims swept up in a “massive crackdown” in its far western region of Xinjiang, Amnesty International said Monday.
Beijing has tightened restrictions on Muslim minorities to combat what it calls Islamic extremism and separatist elements in Xinjiang.
Critics say the drive risks fueling resentment toward Beijing and further inflaming separatist sentiment.
In a new report, which included testimony from people held in the camps, the international rights group said Beijing had rolled out “an intensifying government campaign of mass internment, intrusive surveillance, political indoctrination and forced cultural assimilation.”
Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are punished for violating regulations banning beards and burqas, and for the possession of unauthorized Qur’ans, it added.
Up to a million people are detained in internment camps, a United Nations panel on racial discrimination reported last month, with many detained for offenses as minor as making contact with family members outside the country or sharing Islamic holiday greetings on social media.
“Hundreds of thousands of families have been torn apart by this massive crackdown,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s East Asia director, in a statement.
“They are desperate to know what has happened to their loved ones and it is time the Chinese authorities give them answers.”
Beijing has denied reports of the camps but evidence is mounting in the form of government documents and escapee testimony.
These suggest that Chinese authorities are detaining large groups of people in a network of extrajudicial camps for political and cultural indoctrination on a scale unseen since the Maoist era.
Amnesty’s report interviewed several former detainees who said they were put in shackles, tortured, and made to sing political songs and learn about the Communist Party.
The testimony tallies with evidence gathered by foreign reporters and rights groups in the past year.
Amnesty also called on governments around the world to hold Beijing to account for “the nightmare” unfolding in Xinjiang.
Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced “awful abuses” of Uighur Muslims detained in re-education camps.
“Hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of Uighurs are held against their will in so-called re-education camps where they’re forced to endure severe political indoctrination and other awful abuses,” Pompeo said in a speech.
However Pakistan, China’s biggest Muslim ally, quickly denied reports last week that it had criticized Beijing — which is pouring billions in infrastructure investment into the country — over the issue.
Religious affairs minister Noorul Haq Qadri told AFP China has agreed to exchange delegations of religious students to help promote “harmony” between Muslims and Chinese authorities.
China’s top leaders recently called for religious practices to be brought in line with “traditional” Chinese values and culture, sparking concern among rights groups.
Earlier this month draft regulations suggested Beijing was considering restrictions on religious content online, such as images of people praying or chanting.
State supervision of religion has increased in a bid to “block extremism,” and authorities have removed Islamic symbols such as crescents from public spaces in areas with significant Muslim populations.
Christians have also been targeted in crackdowns, with a prominent Beijing “underground” church shuttered by authorities earlier this month. Churches in central Henan province have seen their crosses torn down and followers harassed.