‘US hitting Daesh much harder after NY attack’

Pedestrians and bicyclists stop to photograph a memorial on West Street two days after a man driving a rented pickup truck mowed down pedestrians and cyclists on a bike path alongside the Hudson River, in New York, U.S., on Thursday. (REUTERS)
Updated 04 November 2017
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‘US hitting Daesh much harder after NY attack’

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK: President Donald Trump said the US military has stepped up its attacks against Daesh following Tuesday’s New York City truck attack.
The alleged attacker, Sayfullo Saipov, told FBI interrogators that he was inspired by the terrorist group, and Trump tweets that the group claimed him as “their soldier.”
Trump says, “Based on that, the Military has hit ISIS “much harder” over the last two days. They will pay a big price for every attack on us!”
It is not immediately clear whether Trump approved any direct retaliatory strikes following the attack.
The president is calling Saipov a “degenerate animal.”
Daesh has claimed responsibility, without providing proof, for a truck attack earlier this week that killed eight people in the deadliest assault on New York City since Sept. 11, 2001.
The militant group on Thursday described accused attacker Sayfullo Saipov, 29, as “one of the caliphate soldiers” in a weekly issue of its Al-Naba newspaper.
The Uzbek immigrant was charged in federal court on Wednesday with acting in support of Daesh by plowing a rented pickup truck down a popular riverside bike trail, crushing pedestrians and cyclists and injuring a dozen people in addition to those killed.
Saipov told investigators he was inspired by watching Daesh propaganda videos on his cellphone, felt good about what he had done, and asked for permission to display the group’s flag in his room at Bellevue Hospital.
Saipov was taken to Bellevue after being shot in the abdomen by a police officer before his arrest.
Earlier this week, Trump suggested sending Saipov to the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba, where terrorism suspects apprehended overseas are incarcerated. But on Thursday, he said doing so would be too complicated.
The US president has also urged Congress to end the Diversity Immigrant Visa program under which Saipov entered the US in 2010.
The diversity program, signed into law in 1990 by Republican President George H.W. Bush, was designed to provide more permanent resident visas to people from countries with low US immigration rates.
Five Argentine tourists, a Belgian woman, a New Yorker and a New Jersey man were killed in Tuesday afternoon’s attack.
One of the two criminal counts Saipov faces, violence and destruction of motor vehicles causing the deaths of eight people, carries the death penalty if the government chooses to seek it, prosecutors said.
Saipov waived his right to remain silent or have an attorney present when he agreed to speak to investigators from his hospital bed, the criminal complaint said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has said it has located another Uzbek man, Mukhammadzoir Kadirov, 32, who it said was wanted for questioning as a person of interest in the attack.
Citing an unnamed law enforcement official, ABC News reported on Friday that Saipov placed a telephone call to Kadirov immediately before he carried out the attack. ABC News said the significance of the call was not known.


Tension builds in row over women’s entry into Hindu temple in Kerala

In this file photo taken on October 18, 2018 Indian Hindu devotees are pictured at the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala in the southern state of Kerala. (AFP)
Updated 15 min 14 sec ago
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Tension builds in row over women’s entry into Hindu temple in Kerala

  • Hindu women demand their right of religious freedom as 41-day festival approaches
  • Kerala polarized over female entry into the hilltop temple

NEW DELHI: Tension in the air as Sabarimala Hilltop temple in the South Indian state of Kerala is being prepared to open on Nov. 17 for a 41-day Hindu festival.
The tension pertains to the entry of females between the ages of 10 to 50 into the ancient temple of Ayyappa, a deity who devotees believe is celibate and abhors the entry into the temple of women of marriageable age.
The Indian Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment in the last week of September, laid down a rule that bars the entry of young women into the temple. This led to a severe protest across the state, with women being stopped forcefully from entering the temple.
Last month, when the temple opened for six days, at least 12 women tried to enter the hillside temple but a violent crowd blocked their passage, with police looking helpless. At least 560 women in the barred age group have enrolled for the annual pilgrimage that starts in less than a week.
“We are taking all kinds of steps to see that devotees can pay their obeisance to the deity in a peaceful manner,” S. Sreejith, the Kerala inspector general of police, told Arab News.

Political mileage
Before coming to the temple, devotees observe celibacy for 41 days and avoid all kinds of meat and alcohol. They also don black robes for the period.
“The soul of any temple is the deity inside. The deity Aayyappa is a bachelor and that’s why the entry of young women is regulated in the temple,” says Rahul Easwar, a Hindu right-wing activist with close links to the Sabarimala temple.
Talking to Arab News, Easwar said: “We will never say anything against the Supreme Court. We are fighting for our rights to believe and our rights to have our own faith.”
However, women rights activist Kavita Krishnan claimed that “the entire controversy is clearly politically manufactured by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).”
The BJP is looking for political mileage in Kerala — the state where it is a small marginal player,” added Krishnan, secretary of All India Progressive Women’s Association.
She pointed out that “the entire debate is concocted. It is well known that women’s entry was allowed until the 1990s, and it was stopped upon a court order. The Supreme Court order has only undone that order.”
The local government of Kerala, a coalition of communist parties, supports women’s entry into the temple.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, in a news conference on Saturday, said: “Opposition to changes in customs is quite natural. But there is no going back. Toilets, bathing facilities and accommodation facilities at Nilakkal will be set up for women devotees. The current crisis is temporary.”
K. Surendran of the BJP, however, said: “This is a matter of belief and the court should not interfere. Why does the court not interfere in the affairs of other minority religions?”
The BJP spokesperson in Kerala told Arab News: “The women who want to enter the temple are not devotees but activists. They are not believers.
“The local government is trying to polarize the issue by supporting women’s entry because it wants to gain the support of other religious minorities,” added Surendran.
Sandhya Acharya, a woman devotee who has registered to go to the Sabarimala temple, told Arab News that there is an “attempt to deny entry to women by calling them activists.
“Why should there be discrimination in the house of God in the name of gender?” she asked.
Rajesh Krishnan, a Kerala-based activist and intellectual, said: “The whole issue has polarized the society in Kerala. The issue has become all the more vicious after the BJP entered the debate and saw it as an opportunity to win over the people and make an entry into the southern Indian state.”
Around 42 review petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court and Tuesday the Apex court will decide whether it should revisit its judgment or not.