Letters of support pour in for threatened Muslim girl, 10

In this Nov. 14, 2018, photo, Jamaal Siddiqui, center, uncle of a student at the Hemenway Elementary School in Framingham, Mass., who received threatening notes, talks with reporters in Framingham. (AP)
Updated 30 November 2018
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Letters of support pour in for threatened Muslim girl, 10

  • School officials say she received threatening notes in her classroom storage bin
  • The council encouraged people to send letters to the girl to “counteract the hateful message”

BOSTON: A Muslim girl in Massachusetts has received hundreds of letters of support after receiving threatening notes at her elementary school.
The Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said that as of Thursday, it had received more than 500 notes from across the country for the 10-year-old.
The girl, whose name officials haven’t released, is in fifth grade at Hemenway Elementary School in Framingham, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Boston.
School officials say she received threatening notes in her classroom storage bin on two occasions this month. One note said, “You are a terrorist.” The other read, “I will kill you.”
Sumaiya Zama, the Massachusetts chapter’s director of community advocacy, said she’s “incredibly heartened” by the outpouring of support, particularly the “powerful messages” people from different faiths shared.
“Despite the climate of animosity and fear that so many Muslims face today, it’s clear that we have allies,” she said in a statement.
School officials, who had condemned the threats at the time and called for the culprit to step forward, didn’t comment Thursday. Framingham police said the case is still active.
The girl’s uncle, Jamaal Siddiqui, said at a news conference after the notes were discovered that the experience frightened his niece.
“She’s scared,” he said at the time. “She has all the right to be scared.”
The council encouraged people to send letters to the girl to “counteract the hateful message.”
Since then, letters have poured in from more than 20 states, including Hawaii, the council said.
A sampling of the notes provided by the council show handwritten messages with colorful illustrations and cheerful designs.
A note from a 6-year-old named Sophie shows an illustration of two people of different races holding hands and smiling. It reads: “Dear friend, people of all religions should be friends.”
Another message, from Mary B. in Springfield, Massachusetts, is written on multicolored paper with hearts all around it: “You are loved. You belong.”
And the Cade family wrote in a note that included a drawing of a tree, flowers and vegetables: “A Jewish family from Maryland is sending you love and support. You are wonderful!”
The council said it plans to deliver the messages to the girl’s family next week.
School districts in Massachusetts have been grappling with a rash of bigoted acts this year.
In the Boston suburb of Reading, officials have reported more than two dozen cases of swastikas and other hateful graffiti targeting minorities since May.


UK race to succeed Theresa May heats up with focus on Brexit

Updated 10 min 44 sec ago
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UK race to succeed Theresa May heats up with focus on Brexit

  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Saturday he is seeking to replace May
  • The best-known contestant for the Conservative leadership post is former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson

LONDON: The race to succeed British Prime Minister Theresa May is heating up, the field of Conservative contenders is quickly growing and the focus is squarely on how to handle Brexit.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Saturday he is seeking to replace May, joining several others who have announced they will run to become the Conservative party’s next leader, and by default, Britain’s new prime minister.
May announced Friday she plans to step down as Conservative Party leader on June 7 and remain as a caretaker prime minister while the party chooses a new leader in a contest that officially kicks off the following week.
She plans to remain as party leader through US President Donald Trump’s upcoming state visit and the 75th D-Day anniversary celebrations on June 6.
Her successor will have to try to complete Brexit — a task that May failed to deliver during her three years in office. While she succeeded in striking a divorce deal with the European Union, the plan was defeated three times in Parliament by British lawmakers from across the political spectrum.
The EU extended Britain’s departure date to Oct. 31 but there still is no consensus among British lawmakers about how or even if the country should leave the bloc.
Even before a new leader is chosen, the Conservative Party is expected to fare poorly when the results of the European Parliament election in Britain are announced Sunday night.
The best-known contestant for the Conservative leadership post is former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who has said he will take Britain out of the EU on Oct. 31 even if no deal has been reached with EU leaders.
Johnson’s willingness to back a no-deal Brexit is already causing some ripples.
Another Conservative contender, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart, said Saturday that he could not serve in a Cabinet under Johnson if Johnson wins. Stewart says he could not work for a leader who is comfortable with the idea of a no-deal Brexit.
Stewart complained that Johnson said in a private meeting several weeks ago that he would not push for a no-deal departure but appears to have changed course completely.
Many economists and business leaders have warned that a no-deal departure would have a drastically negative impact on Britain’s economy and also hurt its European neighbors.
The field is likely to grow to about a dozen candidates, with a winner expected to be chosen by mid or late July. Senior Conservatives including Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and former House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom are among those considering a leadership run.
The Conservative Party chooses its leaders in a two-step process. First there’s a series of votes among the party’s legislators to establish two top contenders, then those names are submitted to a nationwide vote by about 120,000 party members.
The winner becomes party leader and prime minister, although the opposition Labour Party is warning of an immediate challenge to the new leader with an eye toward forcing an early general election.
John McDonnell, Labour’s economic spokesman, told the BBC on Saturday the party would push a no-confidence vote against the new prime minister right away.
“We believe any incoming prime minister in these circumstances should go to the country anyway and seek a mandate,” McDonnell said.
An earlier Labour Party attempt to force an early election failed in January when May’s government survived a no-confidence vote.
The UK’s next general election is set for 2022 unless there is a government collapse.