Kosovo court clears Grande Mosque imam of inciting terrorism

This file image shows Kosovo’s top radical cleric, the imam of the Grand Mosque in Pristina, Shefqet Krasniqi is escorted by a Kosovo police officer as he leaves the court in September 2014 in Pristina. (AFP /Armend Nimani)
Updated 23 March 2018
0

Kosovo court clears Grande Mosque imam of inciting terrorism

PRISTINA: A prominent Kosovo imam was acquitted on Friday of charges that he had encouraged Kosovars to join radical Islamic groups in Syria and Iraq.
Shefqet Krasniqi, the imam of the Grand Mosque of Pristina, was arrested in 2014. He was accused of inciting terrorism by encouraging young Kosovars to go to Syria and Iraq, of inciting hatred and of tax evasion.
Around 300 Kosovars have gone to Syria and Iraq since 2012 to fight with Daesh. About 70 have been killed but many, including women and children, are believed to be still there.
“I was convinced from the first day ... that all will end as it has ended today,” Krasniqi told the media after the verdict.
International and local security agencies have previously warned of the risk posed by returning fighters, and in 2015 Kosovo adopted a law making it a crime to fight in foreign conflicts, punishable by up to 15 years in jail.
Kosovo’s population is nominally 90 percent Muslim but largely secular in outlook. No Islamist attacks have occurred on its soil, but in June 2017, nine Kosovars were charged with planning attacks at a soccer match in Albania against the visiting Israeli national team and its fans in November 2016.


Japan minister apologizes after ‘sexy yoga’ claims

Updated 8 min 7 sec ago
0

Japan minister apologizes after ‘sexy yoga’ claims

TOKYO: Japan’s education minister apologized Wednesday for using an official car to visit a yoga studio, but denied claims that the facility was offering “sexy private yoga.”
The row is the latest headache for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, which is already under fire after two cronyism scandals and sexual harassment claims against a top finance ministry bureaucrat.
The Shukan Bunshun weekly magazine on Wednesday reported that Education Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi visited a yoga studio in the hip Ebisu district in Tokyo using a state car and took private lessons there.
“I apologize for creating confusion amid a tense parliamentary situation,” Hayashi told reporters.
“As the government is facing severe rebuke and criticism, I will serve the public in a more disciplined manner,” he said, in an apparent reference to various scandals involving the cabinet in recent weeks.
“I should have drawn a line between the public and the private, even though this case was in line with rules,” he added.
Ministers are permitted to use government vehicles for private use in between public engagements, local media said.
The magazine described the yoga studio as a “sexy private yoga” studio run by a former porn actress that offers private lessons and oil massages.
But Hayashi said he was simply taking “regular yoga lessons and massages with finger pressure” for better health.
The president of the yoga studio has denied that she was ever a porn actress and is demanding a correction and an apology from the magazine.
“I firmly deny the article which presents an indecent image and is completely different from the facts,” she said.
The studio’s website says it offers private lessons for men or couples.
Support for Abe’s government has flagged due to two cronyism scandals and criticism of the way the finance ministry has handled claims that its top bureaucrat sexually harassed female reporters.
Around half of voters now disapprove of Abe’s administration, and a similar number want his Finance Minister Taro Aso to step down, polls published Monday found.
The polls bode ill for Abe’s bid to be reelected party chief in September in a vote he was once expected to win easily.