Britain First leader whom Trump re-tweeted ordered to avoid rallies

Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of the fringe anti-immigrant Britain First group (AFP)
Updated 14 December 2017

Britain First leader whom Trump re-tweeted ordered to avoid rallies

BELFAST: A leader of a British far right group whose anti-Islamic social media posts were retweeted by US President Donald Trump was ordered on Thursday not to appear within 500 meters of any rally until a criminal case in Northern Ireland is finished.
Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of the fringe anti-immigrant Britain First group, appeared at a court in Belfast to face charges of using threatening, abusive or insulting words in a speech at a rally in the city in August.
Trump’s sharing of her anti-Muslim videos posted on Twitter provoked outrage in Britain last month, drawing a sharp rebuke from Prime Minister Theresa May and straining relations between two close allies on the global stage.
Fransen, 31, was remanded on continuing bail until January 9 on the condition that she is not allowed within 500 meters of any rally or demonstration before the case is finished.
An attempt by police to restrict Fransen’s use of social media — Twitter and Facebook — was rejected by the judge.
Fransen, who was fined last month after being found guilty by a court in England of religiously aggravated harassment for shouting abuse at a Muslim woman wearing a hijab, would be pleading not guilty, her lawyer told Belfast Magistrates Court.
Paul Golding, the leader of Britain First, was also arrested as he accompanied Fransen to court, the group said.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland said a 35-year-old man was detained for questioning over a speech at the same rally in Belfast in August.
Golding, 35, is a former senior figure in the far-right British National Party and founded Britain First in 2011.
The group describes itself as a “patriotic political party and street movement,” but critics denounce it as a far-right, racist organization.

Pakistan and China push for peace in Afghanistan

Updated 15 December 2018

Pakistan and China push for peace in Afghanistan

  • Trilateral talks also focused on boosting trust and security between the three countries
  • FM Qureshi extends the olive branch for a new chapter with Kabul

KABUL: Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China held a trilateral meeting in Kabul on Saturday where they discussed measures to boost political trust and join hands for a regional war against militancy which would facilitate the Afghan peace process, even as Taliban insurgents stepped up their attacks.

The meeting was the second one to take place after Beijing had initiated the talks in December last year in order to ease the rising tension between Kabul and Islamabad whose relationship is highly critical for Beijing’s growing economic and political clout in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In recent years, China has deepened its economic and political ties with Afghanistan and is actively using its influence to bring the two South Asian neighbors closer.

Pakistan has long been accused by Afghanistan and the US of providing safe havens for Afghan Taliban leaders, by funding and arming them since their ouster in late 2001.

Islamabad has denied the allegations.

After the meeting on Saturday, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi pushed for a new chapter with Afghanistan, adding that the ongoing blame game would not help in achieving peace or building trust between Islamabad and Kabul.

He said that the Daesh and militants from Central Asia and eastern China were against the peace process in Afghanistan, urging for joint efforts to tackle the extremism.

“I am here to engage with Afghanistan. Let us not stick to the past and stop pointing a finger on Pakistan… I came here to build trust and bridges and reach peace and stability. Any improvement in Afghanistan will benefit Pakistan,” Qureshi told a news conference.

The three countries signed an agreement pushing for joint efforts in the war against militancy with Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister, Salahuddin Rabbani, saying that the coming weeks and months will be highly crucial in evaluating Pakistan’s intentions and its role in supporting an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

Officials from both Afghanistan and Pakistan have held a number of meetings in recent years to mend bilateral ties and work towards measures to fight militancy. However, those talks were an exercise in futility as they were followed by the two countries trading accusations and resorting to the blame game. Rabbani said that “the time has come (for Pakistan) to practically show with genuine steps” that it will fulfill its pledges.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described both Afghanistan and Pakistan as its strategic partners, adding that China had great political trust in the two. He asked both the countries to resolve their problems in a peaceful manner and backed the US’ efforts to engage in peace talks with the Taliban, urging the militant group to get involved in the process. 

“We support Afghanistan and Pakistan’s efforts for peace and we call on the Taliban to join the peace process. Cooperation between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China is important to bring peace to Afghanistan.” 

The three sides emphasized the importance of regional connectivity and economic development between them. 

Saturday’s meeting took place at a time when Washington is stepping up its efforts to hold talks with the Taliban by meeting with regional powers on how to end the US war in Afghanistan which began more than 17 years ago.

Mohammad Nateqi, a former Afghan diplomat, said that a deciding factor for Saturday’s agreement to work depended on building mutual trust between Pakistan and Afghanistan given the fact that similar conversations have taken place between Kabul and Islamabad earlier as well, without bearing any fruit.

However, at the same time, he was optimistic about positive results, reasoning that the situation had changed when compared to the past with the US increasing its efforts for talks with the Taliban.

“Such meetings can be helpful in mending ties between the countries and in helping them come closer to achieving a peace plan,” he told Arab News.