Prince William: ‘Extremism in all forms’ must be defeated

Prince William greets a youngster atAl-Noor Mosque in Christchurch on Friday in the presence of New Zealand Premier Jacinda Ardern. (Reuters)
Updated 27 April 2019
0

Prince William: ‘Extremism in all forms’ must be defeated

  • Prince in emotional meeting with survivors of NZ mosques massacre

CHRISTCHURCH: In an emotional meeting with survivors of the New Zealand mosques massacre, Britain’s Prince William appealed Friday for “extremism in all forms” to be defeated.
About 160 people gathered at the Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch to meet the prince who had earlier told first responders to the March 15 carnage that when “a good friend” is in need “you travel to their place and you put your arms around them.”
Six weeks to the day from when a self-styled white supremacist killed 50 people and wounded just as many in two Christchurch mosques, the prince said he stood with the people of New Zealand, the people of Christchurch and the Muslim community.
“An act of violence was designed to change New Zealand, but instead, the grief of a nation revealed just how deep your wells of empathy, compassion, warmth and love truly run,” the prince said after arriving at the mosque from a meeting with hospital staff who had tended to the wounded.
“In a moment of acute pain, you stood up, and you stood together. In reaction to tragedy, you showed something remarkable.
“I stand with you in gratitude to what you have taught the world in these past weeks. I stand with you in optimism... I stand with you in grief. I will support those who survive.
“May the forces of love always prevail over the forces of hate... Extremism in all forms must be defeated.”
As armed police stood guard outside the mosque and a police helicopter circled overhead, the prince was welcomed to the mosque by the imam Gamel Fouda, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and attack survivor Farid Ahmed whose wife was among those killed.
Ahmed, who became the face of the Muslim community when he said he loved and forgave the gunman, told the prince: “We have to keep up hope and not surrender to hatred.”
When William arrived in the country on Thursday he made an unannounced visit to the Starship Children’s Hospital in Auckland where he met with five-year-old Alen Alsati and her father, Wasseim, who were both injured in the March 15 attack.
In a touching video released by Kensington Palace, Alen, who only woke from a coma early this week, asked William: “Do you have a daughter?“
“Do I have a daughter? Yes, she’s called Charlotte... she’s about the same age as you,” William replied.
He flew to Christchurch later in the day to meet with police and medical officers who were first to the scene of the carnage, telling them they did “an incredible job on a very bad day.”
William — who also visited Christchurch just weeks after the devastating February 2011 earthquake which claimed 185 lives — will end his brief visit later Friday when he lays a wreath at the earthquake memorial site.


Priyanka standoff ends with visit to victims’ families

In this handout photo taken and released by the All India Congress Committee (AICC) Communication Department on July 19, 2019, Indian politician Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (2L) meets Sonbhadra massacre victims at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) Trauma Centre in Varanasi. (AFP)
Updated 50 min 48 sec ago
0

Priyanka standoff ends with visit to victims’ families

  • Priyanka Gandhi’s protest continued throughout Friday night while she demanded the right to visit the victims’ families

NEW DELHI: A political standoff over detained Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi ended on Saturday after she was allowed to meet relatives of 10 people killed in a caste clash in the eastern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress general secretary and sister of outgoing party president Rahul Gandhi was detained in Mirzapur on Friday while traveling to Sonbhadra to visit family members of 10 people shot and killed in a land dispute a day earlier.
The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Uttar Pradesh, led by Yogi Adityanath, detained Gandhi for violating the peace and stopped her from traveling further. The Congress leader then began a sit-in protest with her supporters at the Mirzapur guest house where she was held.
Her protest continued throughout Friday night while she demanded the right to visit the victims’ families. Television images showed Gandhi sitting in the dark after power and water supplies in the guest house were allegedly cut off by the local administration.
Her presence in the area, which also falls in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency in Varanasi, galvanized Congress workers who staged protests across the state.
Early on Saturday, relatives of some of the victims visited the guest house to meet the 47-year-old leader of the Gandhi-Nehru family, India’s pre-eminent political dynasty.
“My objective has been served as I have met the victims of the shooting,” said Gandhi before calling off her protest.
“The responsibility for the Sonbhadra massacre lies with the Yogi government,” she said.
Gandhi told her supporters, “I will be back,” before flying to New Delhi.
The BJP has accused the Congress leader of playing politics over the shootings.
“Congress has a history of playing politics over dead bodies,” said Swatantra Dev Singh, BJP president in Uttar Pradesh.
“The drama should stop. That is what I will say to Priyanka. All the accused have been arrested, and the officials responsible have been suspended,” he said.
The fatal shootings in Sonbhadra, 800 km southeast of New Delhi, drew mainstream media attention only when the Congress leader arrived in the state.
Observers say that the killing of 10 socially marginalized and landless tribes people by members of the dominant caste has highlighted the fragile caste situation in India’s most populous state.
The people of Gond tribe have been working the disputed land for generations. According to reports, the village head wanted tribes people to vacate the farm land. This led to conflict, and on Friday more than 200 armed men attacked the helpless villagers, killing 10 and injuring several others.
Gandhi, who entered politics only a few months before the general elections in May this year, seized the opportunity to connect with the people.
For the BJP, Uttar Pradesh is the jewel in the crown. The state gave the party 62 of its 303 parliamentary seats, and it is determined to maintain its political grip.
Political analysts say that Gandhi is determined to revive the Congress party in Uttar Pradesh by 2022 when the state goes to the polls.
“Priyanka Gandhi handled the Sonbhadra incident in a mature way, exposing the ham-fisted attitude of the Yogi government,” said Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a New Delhi-based analyst and author.
“She also managed to expose the BJP’s class bias  and how the ruling party is protecting the interests of  dominant caste in the state,” said Mukhopadhyay.
“This incident gives the party a chance to go back to the people immediately after the huge loss in the elections,” Mukhopadhyay told Arab News.
Lucknow-based political analyst Ram Dutt Tripathi said that Gandhi has “shown her courage as a political leader willing to fight administrative injustice.”
“Her detention was illegal and the Congress has high hopes that she can lead the revival of the party,” said Tripathi.
“It is unfortunate that the state Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has not visited relatives of the victims so far and is putting restrictions on political opponents who want to stand with them,” he said.