Migrants break border gate, force their way into Mexico

Honduran migrants arrive in Ciudad Tecun Uman, Guatemala, in hope of crossing into Mexico on April 12, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 13 April 2019
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Migrants break border gate, force their way into Mexico

  • The group of 350 pushed past police guarding the bridge and joined a larger group of about 2,000 migrants who are walking toward Tapachula in the latest caravan to enter Mexico

MEXICO CITY: Mexican authorities said a group of about 350 migrants broke the locks on a gate at the Guatemalan border Friday and forced their way into southern Mexico to join a larger group of migrants trying to make their way toward the United States.
The National Immigration Institute did not identify the nationalities of the migrants, but they are usually from Central America.
A similar confrontation occurred on the same border bridge between Mexico and Guatemala last year.
The institute said the migrants were acting in a “hostile” and “aggressive” way, and accused them of also attacking local police in Metapa, a Mexican village that lies between the border and the nearby city of Tapachula.
The group of 350 pushed past police guarding the bridge and joined a larger group of about 2,000 migrants who are walking toward Tapachula in the latest caravan to enter Mexico.
Claudia Jaqueline Sandoval, 43, from El Progreso, Honduras, was walking toward Tapachula with her six-year-old daughter. Another son and a daughter are already in the United States.
“I have been HIV positive for 16 years,” said Sandoval, but her reason for going north was not just medical treatment. “It has been two years since I heard from my son” in the United States, and money is scarce, she said.
There are already several groups of migrants in the southern border state of Chiapas who have expressed frustration at Mexico’s policy of slowing or stopping the process of handing out humanitarian and exit visas at the border.
A group of several hundred Cuban, African and Central American migrants have been waiting at the immigration offices in Tapachula for documents that would allow them to travel to their US border, where most plant to request asylum.
Some members of that group have scuffled with immigration authorities and broken windows at the offices in recent days, accusing officials of making them wait too long for papers.
And another group of an estimated 2,500 Central American and Cuban migrants have been stuck for at least a week further west in the Chiapas town of Mapastepec, also waiting for papers.


Sri Lanka rejects plans for $10m Shariah university

Updated 13 min 28 sec ago
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Sri Lanka rejects plans for $10m Shariah university

  • Madrasas to be absorbed by Ministry of Education in wake of Easter Sunday attacks
  • More than 100 arrests have been made following the rioting. A curfew has been lifted and life is returning to normal

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday refused permission for a planned $10 million (SR37.5 million) Shariah university in one of the country’s main cities.

And in the wake of the deadly Easter Sunday terror attacks on hotels and churches, the premier also announced that all madrasas would be brought under the umbrella of Sri Lanka’s Education Ministry.

The latest moves by the Sri Lankan government follow widespread unrest on the island, with anti-Muslim riots having caused damage running into millions of dollars.

Wickremesinghe’s orders came after a fact-finding report into the university compiled by MP Ashu Marasinghe. He recommended that the institution, being constructed at Batticaloa, in the Eastern Province, should be privately operated and titled Batticaloa Technology University. The new education complex is located close to the township of Kattankudy where suspected ringleader of the Easter Sunday suicide bombings, Zahran Hashim, lived and preached his messages of hate and violence.

The Sri Lankan government analyst’s department said on Tuesday that DNA tests proved Hashim died in the attack at the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo.

President’s Counsel, Ali Sabry, a prominent lawyer and political analyst, told Arab News on Tuesday that the premier’s announcement was welcome.

“We don’t need a Shariah university at this juncture when there is a lot of suspicions on various Islamic topics that need to be clarified by Islamic theologians following the suicide attacks by Muslim extremists,” Sabry said. He stressed that the country’s main focus should be on strengthening ways to ensure peaceful coexistence among all communities.

The Sri Lankan University Grants Commission had a set of guidelines to license new universities, and Wickremesinghe’s latest recommendations would also be included among the requirements for a new university, Sabry added.

The prime minister’s ruling on madrasas (Islamic seminaries) would provide more transparency on the activities of the institutions, he said. “Their curriculum and their co-curricular activities should maintain a common standard and these madrasas should prepare the students to make them fit into society instead of just learning Arabic and Islam only.”

M.R.M. Malik, director of the Muslim Affairs Ministry in Colombo, told Arab News that currently all madrasas function under his ministry. “There are 317 madrasas throughout the island with an estimated 25,000 students. In addition to the local teachers, there are 38 Arabic teachers and 85 foreign students,” he said.

Most of the teachers are from Egypt, Pakistan and India, while many of the overseas students studying at the madrasas are from Libya, Pakistan, Jordan and India.

Sri Lanka Muslim Council President N.M. Ameen told Arab News that the local community had never wanted a Shariah university. However, he said the proposed curriculum for the madrasas should be constructed in consultation with Islamic scholars and the Muslim community.

Meanwhile, Western Province Gov. Azath Salley, revealed that damage caused by anti-Muslim riots had reached nearly Rs900 million (SR19.2 million). The governor was speaking to Arab News following a visit to some of the worst-affected villages on the island.

“Speaking to the families of the vandalized properties, it’s clear that an organized gang had attacked these earmarked properties owned by Muslims,” said Salley. “One child, whose father was killed in his presence, is still in a state of utter shock and dismay.” He added that turpentine oil had been poured on the face of the dead carpenter by his killers and set on fire.

The governor urged the authorities to bring the attackers to justice. He added that the government would provide compensation to victims of wrecked properties.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasakera said that more than 100 arrests had been made following the rioting, and that a curfew had been lifted and life was returning to normal.