World leaders react to deadly Sri Lanka blasts

Scores of people have been killed across Sri Lanka in eighth deadly blasts. (File/AP)
Updated 22 April 2019
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World leaders react to deadly Sri Lanka blasts

  • Eight blasts were reported in different parts of Sri Lanka
  • Nearly 160 people were killed in the blasts

COLOMBO: World leaders have condemned a series of blasts in Sri Lanka that killed more than 150 people on Sunday, including dozens of foreigners — with British, Dutch and American citizens believed to be among them.
Hospital sources also said Japanese citizens were among those injured by the bombs which ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services.
Here is a summary of the reactions:

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia condemns the series of terror attacks in Sri Lanka, an official in the foreign ministry said, Saudi state agency SPA reported.

The country expressed their condolences and sympathies to the victims of the attacks, and wished a quick recovery for the injured, the official added.

The official said it is essential that the international community cooperates against terrorism, which threatens the peace and stability of places all over the world.

United States of America

US President Donald Trump said the US sends its heartfelt condolonces to the people of Sri Lanka, adding his country is ready to help.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis condemned the attacks as "such cruel violence" and said he was close to the Christian community, hit while celebrating Easter.

United Kingdom
British Prime Minister Theresa May described the attacks as “truly appalling.”
“The acts of violence against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka are truly appalling, and my deepest sympathies go out to all of those affected at this tragic time,” she tweeted.
“We must stand together to make sure that no one should ever have to practice their faith in fear.”

Netherlands

“Terrible reports from Sri Lanka about bloody attacks on hotels and churches on this Easter Sunday,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted after the attacks first emerged.
“Thoughts are with the victims and their relatives.”

Australia

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia was thinking of those killed in a “horrific terrorist attack.”
“To the beautiful people of Sri Lanka, Australia sends its heartfelt sympathies and our prayers and our support — and our offer to do whatever we can to support you in this terrible time of need,” he said in a statement.
“At this time as Easter Sunday draws to a conclusion here in Australia, our heart goes out to those Christians and all of those other innocents who have been slaughtered today in this horrific terrorist attack.”

New Zealand

A month after dozens of Muslims were killed in a shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the attack as “devastating.”
“New Zealand condemns all acts of terrorism, and our resolve has only been strengthened by the attack on our soil on the 15th of March. To see an attack in Sri Lanka while people were in churches and at hotels is devastating.
“New Zealand rejects all forms of extremism and stands for freedom of religion and the right to worship safely. Collectively we must find the will and the answers to end such violence.”

Catholic Church in Jerusalem

The Catholic Church in Jerusalem said the blasts were particularly sad as they “came while Christians celebrate Easter.”
“We pray for the souls of the victims and ask for speedy recovery of the injured, and ask God to inspire the terrorists to repent of their killing and intimidation,” the statement said.
“We also express our solidarity with Sri Lanka and all its inhabitants in their various religious and ethnic backgrounds.”

India

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed solidarity with the fellow South Asian country, and said “there is no place for barbarism in our region.”

Pakistan

Imran Khan also took to Twitter to condemn the attacks, saying: “My profound condolences go to our Sri Lankan brethren.”

Iran

Iran's foreign minister says he is “terribly saddened” by the Easter Sunday bombings.

Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that “terrorism is a global menace with no religion: it must be condemned & confronted globally.”

 

Lebanon

Lebanon's prime minister calls the attacks “blind terrorism” and offers solidarity to Sri Lanka's people.

Saad Hariri in a tweet asks for mercy for the “innocent victims” and speedy recovery for the injured.

France

French President Emmanuel Macron condemned Sunday the “odious” attacks that left 160 dead at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka. “We strongly condemn these odious acts,” he wrote on Twitter. “Full solidarity with the Sri Lanka people and our thoughts for all those close to the victims this Easter.”


New Chicago mayor gives Arabs hope

Updated 29 min 10 sec ago
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New Chicago mayor gives Arabs hope

  • The election of Lori Lightfoot as mayor gives Chicago’s Arabs an opportunity to reverse the damage that Rahm Emanuel has caused
  • Emanuel’s first acts as mayor included blocking the annual Arabesque Festival, which Jewish groups complained against

Plagued by ongoing controversies and criticism that he tried to hide a video of Chicago police killing a black teenager in October 2014, Rahm Emanuel decided he had had enough as the city’s mayor and decided to retire.

Elected in 2011 with a big boost from his former boss, US President Barack Obama — also a Chicago native — Emanuel served two full terms.

But his hopes of reversing the city’s tumbling finances, improving its poorly performing schools, and reversing record gun-related violence and killings, all failed.

However, Emanuel did have one success. He managed to gut the involvement of Chicago’s Arab-American minority in city-sponsored events, responding favorably to its influential Jewish-American community leadership, which complained about Palestinian activists who advocated for statehood and challenged Israeli oppression.

Emanuel’s first acts as mayor included blocking the annual Arabesque Festival, which Jewish groups complained included photographs of Palestinians protesting against Israel. The festival had only been launched four years earlier by his predecessor in 2007.

Emanuel also disbanded the Advisory Commission on Arab Affairs, and ended Arab American Heritage Month, which had been held every November since it was recognized by Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor.

Emanuel refused to discuss his reasons for these decisions with leaders of Chicago’s Arab community.

He declined repeated requests by me to interview him, despite my having interviewed seven Chicago mayors. He declined similar requests from other Arab journalists.

While he hosted iftars for Muslims, he never hosted an Arab heritage celebration during his eight years in office.

His father was a leader of the Irgun, which was denounced as a terrorist organization in the 1940s by the British military.

The Irgun murdered British soldiers and thousands of Palestinian civilians, and orchestrated the bloody Deir Yassin massacre on April 9, 1948.

Before becoming mayor, Emanuel volunteered at an Israeli military base repairing damaged vehicles. His pro-Israel stance was never challenged by the mainstream US news media.

But with the election in February of Lori Lightfoot as mayor, Chicago’s Arabs have an opportunity to reverse the damage that Emanuel caused.

Lightfoot was sworn into office on Monday and serves for four years. She has already reached out to Arabs, appointing at least two Palestinians to her 400-person transition team, whose members often remain and assume government positions with new administrations.

The two Palestinians in her transition team are Rush Darwish and Rami Nashashibi. Darwish has organized several successful marathons in Chicago and Bethlehem to raise funds for the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. Nashashibi is involved with the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN).

As an African American, Lightfoot knows what it is like to be the victim of racism, stereotypes and discrimination. That makes her more sensitive to the concerns of Chicago’s Arabs.