US revokes ICC prosecutor’s visa over Afghan probe

ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda's visa was revoked by the US. (File/AFP)
Updated 05 April 2019
0

US revokes ICC prosecutor’s visa over Afghan probe

  • Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda would continue to pursue her duties for the Hague-based court “without fear or favor” despite the ban
  • The move against Bensouda, a Gambian national, comes weeks after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced restrictions on ICC staff who probe US or allied personnel

THE HAGUE: The United States has revoked the visa for the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, her office said Friday, over a possible investigation of American soldiers’ actions in Afghanistan.
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda would continue to pursue her duties for the Hague-based court “without fear or favor” despite the ban, her office said in a statement.
The move against Bensouda, a Gambian national, comes weeks after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced restrictions on ICC staff who probe US or allied personnel.
“What we can confirm is that the US authorities have revoked the prosecutor’s visa for entry into the US,” the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC said in a statement.
Bensouda’s office said that under the Rome statute governing the ICC — which Washington has declined to join since it was set up in 2002 — she had an “independent and impartial mandate.”
“The prosecutor and her office will continue to undertake that statutory duty with utmost commitment and professionalism, without fear or favor,” it added.
The US decision was not expected to impact Bensouda if she is traveling to the United Nations in New York where she gives regular briefings to the UN Security Council on investigation, it said.
There was no immediate comment on Bensouda’s visa ban from Washington.
Bensouda asked ICC judges in November 2017 for authorization to open an investigation into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan by the Taliban, Afghan government forces and international forces including US troops.
The court has not yet decided whether to launch a full-blown probe.
However, the administration of US President Donald Trump has struck preemptively, with Pompeo warning on March 15 that the ICC was “attacking America’s rule of law.”
Pompeo said he was “announcing a policy of US visa restrictions on those individuals directly responsible for any ICC investigation of US personnel.”
“If you’re responsible for the proposed ICC investigation of US personnel in connection with the situation in Afghanistan you should not assume that you still have, or will get, a visa or that you will permitted to enter the United States,” Pompeo added.


Singapore celebrates Ramadan with bazaars and biryani

Updated 23 May 2019
0

Singapore celebrates Ramadan with bazaars and biryani

  • The vibrant Kampong Glam neighborhood comes alive during the holy month
  • Sultan Mosque was designated a national monument in 1975

KUALA LUMPUR: Singapore’s Sultan Mosque is a focal point for Muslims in the cosmopolitan city-state and the vibrant Kampong Glam neighborhood comes alive during the holy month of Ramadan when people from all walks of life flock to its bustling bazaars.

Kampong Glam is Singapore’s “Muslim Quarter” with a mix of Malay, South Asian and Middle Eastern elements. Around 14 percent of Singapore’s 5.6 million population is Muslim, according to the latest official data.

Arab Street — an area that includes Bussorah Street, Haji and Bali Lanes and Muscat Street — is a hub for hipsters, vivid murals, Persian rug stores, shisha bars, perfumeries and textile shops, as well as being home to the distinctive golden domes of the Sultan Mosque. There is even an ornate archway welcoming people to explore the neighborhood and its distinctive shophouses, buildings that were used for working and living in. 

“We are more like brothers and sisters, rather than businesses. I know most of the customers and they know me too,” a 36-year-old biryani hawker who gave his name as Nareza told Arab News as he served a line of hungry clients.

Nareza said his stall’s signature dish was mutton biryani, made from a family recipe handed down through generations from his late grandmother. 

FASTFACT

Around 14 percent of Singapore’s 5.6 million population is Muslim

“Dum biryani is a process of mixing meat and rice together in one pot, so the rice has a bit of the masala taste while the meat has a bit of the basmati rice fragrance,” he said, adding that he sold more than 300 portions of biryani a day. “I learned to make biryani from my father, who used to do charity work in the mosque. We make our own spices, we do not buy them from outside vendors. That is why the taste is different.”

The bazaar is packed with places selling food, drinks, decorations and homeware. The fare reflects Singapore’s international status, with eateries and stores selling kebabs, sushi and local Malay goodies.

But Singapore has a reputation for being one of the most expensive cities in the world and having a fast-paced lifestyle, leading some to focus on preserving culture and heritage for future generations.

“We want to create awareness about the significance of Sultan Mosque to the Muslim community,” juice stall owner Riduan told Arab News, saying all sale proceeds were donated to the Sultan Mosque. “Arab Street is unique because you see a lot of different races coming here and it is also a tourist attraction. This is where we demonstrate we are Singapore society. Singapore is not just limited to skyscrapers such as Marina Bay Sands.”