Protesters block route of Serbian leader on Kosovo trip

Kosovo Serbs walk past posters featuring Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic during his visit in Kosovo in Gazivode lake in the village of Gazivode on September 8, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 09 September 2018
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Protesters block route of Serbian leader on Kosovo trip

  • Demonstrators used vehicles and tree trunks to create a barricade on the main road between Mitrovica
  • The Serbian president is making a two-day visit to Kosovo

MITROVICA, Kosovo: Hundreds of Kosovar Albanians blocked access to a village due to be visited by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic Sunday, an AFP journalist said, as a festering row over Kosovo independence clouds hopes that the war foes can normalize relations.
Demonstrators used vehicles and tree trunks to create a barricade on the main road between Mitrovica, in the north of Kosovo, and the village of Banje, a Serbian enclave some 60 kilometers (40 miles) away.
“Vucic does not pass” and “Those who committed genocide against innocent civilians cannot pass” read messages on placards at the blockade, which according to Serbian state television RTS was one of five set up by protesters to cut off all road access to Banje.
Serbia refuses to recognize Kosovo, an Albanian-majority former southern province that broke away from the then Yugoslav republic in a bloody war in 1998-1999 and declared independence a decade later.
According to RTS, Vucic’s route was blocked by former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, the pro-independence guerrilla movement that fought Serb armed forces in the conflict.
The Serbian president is making a two-day visit to Kosovo, just days after planned talks with Kosovo president Hashim Thaci in Brussels under EU auspices fell apart at the last minute.
The talks have been stalled for months but started generating attention in recent months after Thaci and Vucic signalled an openness to the idea of border changes to resolve their longstanding differences over Kosovo’s independence.
The presidents have not laid out any detailed plans but the talk has alarmed critics, who say redrawing the map of the Balkans could wreak havoc in a fragile region scarred by war.
Vucic is due to speak at a public event later Sunday in Serb-majority Mitrovica.
Serbia needs a deal with Pristina to move forward in EU accession talks, while Kosovo is hoping that recognition from Belgrade that would unlock its path into the United Nations.
Kosovo is recognized by more than 110 countries, but outliers include Russia, China and five EU countries, including Spain, which does not want to set an independence precedent for its own regions.


Preachers of Hate: Arab News launches series to expose hate-mongers from all religions

Updated 25 March 2019
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Preachers of Hate: Arab News launches series to expose hate-mongers from all religions

  • Daesh may be defeated, but the bigoted ideas that fueled their extremism live on
  • Campaign could not be more timely, with a rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes since Christchurch attacks

RIYADH: Dozens of Daesh militants emerged from tunnels to surrender to Kurdish-led forces in eastern Syria on Sunday, a day after their “caliphate” was declared defeated.

Men filed out of the battered Daesh encampment in the riverside village of Baghouz near the Iraqi border to board pickup trucks. “They are fighters who came out of tunnels and surrendered today,” Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spokesman Jiaker Amed said. “Some others could still be hiding inside.”

World leaders hail Saturday’s capture of the last shred of land controlled by Daesh in Syria, but the top foreign affairs official for the semi-autonomous Kurdish region warned that Daesh captives still posed a threat.

“There are thousands of fighters, children and women and from 54 countries, not including Iraqis and Syrians, who are a serious burden and danger for us and for the international community,” Abdel Karim Omar said. “Numbers increased massively during the last 20 days of the Baghouz operation.”

 While the terrorists have a suffered a defeat, the pernicious ideologies that drive them, and the hate speech that fuels those ideologies, live on. For that reason Arab News today launches Preachers of Hate — a weekly series, published in print and online, in which we profile, contextualize and analyze extremist preachers from all religions, backgrounds and nationalities.


 

In the coming weeks, our subjects will include the Saudi cleric Safar Al-Hawali, the Egyptian preacher Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the American-Israeli rabbi Meir Kahane, the Yemeni militia leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, and the US pastor Terry Jones, among others.

 

The series begins today with an investigation into the background of Brenton Tarrant, the Australian white supremacist who shot dead 50 people in a terrorist attack 10 days ago on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Tarrant is not just a terrorist, but is himself a Preacher of Hate, author of a ranting manifesto that attempts to justify his behavior. How did a shy, quiet boy from rural New South Wales turn into a hate-filled gunman intent on killing Muslims? The answers may surprise you.

Our series could not be more timely — anti-Muslim hate crimes in the UK have soared by almost 600 percent since the Christchurch attack, it was revealed on Sunday.

The charity Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks), which records and measures anti-Muslim incidents, said almost all of the increase comprised “language, symbols or actions linked to the Christchurch attacks.”

“Cases included people making gestures of pointing a pistol at Muslim women and comments about British Muslims and an association with actions taken by the terrorist in New Zealand,” the charity said.

“The spike shows a troubling rise after Muslims were murdered in New Zealand,” said Iman Atta, director of Tell MAMA. “Figures have risen over 590 percent since New Zealand in comparison to the week just before the attack.