Batman ‘Joker’ child-killer claims ‘no choice’

Updated 25 February 2013

Batman ‘Joker’ child-killer claims ‘no choice’

GHENT, Belgium: A nursery killer disguised as Batman villain ‘The Joker’ told a court on Monday he was left “no choice” but to stab to death two toddlers and their minder at a Belgian creche — despite saying he knew murder was wrong.
“I was aware that you should not (kill) but I did not see any other choice,” Kim De Gelder told the court in Ghent, which is considering whether the 24-year-old can be held responsible for his knife rampage.
“I was pushed toward this choice, perhaps from outside. It came directly,” De Gelder said in reply to lengthy questioning by the presiding judge.
De Gelder is charged with killing the two infants and their 54-year-old carer in an attack on the Fable Land nursery in the town of Dendermonde in January 2009, as well as the attempted murder of 22 others at the creche — including 16 babies and toddlers.
De Gelder is further charged with murdering an elderly woman in a separate attack a week earlier.
The court must determine whether De Gelder can be considered sane or not. On Friday, his lawyer told the 12 jurors his client was a paranoid schizophrenic who “is irresponsible and cannot be punished.”
Just after the release of cult 2008 Batman movie “The Dark Knight,” De Gelder entered the nursery with his hair dyed red and his face painted white with black around his eyes — like the film’s villain ‘The Joker,’ as played by the late Australian actor Heath Ledger.
Last year, US youth James Holmes was accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 in a cinema screening the sequel of the film.
De Gelder, speaking in Flemish, told the court on Monday he would “keep the explanation of his motives for the end of the trial, or for another trial.”
He said he had had a happy childhood but relations with his parents became difficult when he was around 15 as they opposed his plans to study psychology or law.
At age 18, De Gelder said he thought of committing suicide by lying under a train but then changed his plans to “taking the lives of other people.”
Saying he was in despair, he said he had lied to psychiatrists, telling them during the investigation that he had heard “voices” pushing him to act.
“You had other choices, you could have looked for a job,” the presiding judge interjected.
“I already told you it was the crisis,” De Gelder replied.
Why did you search out people unknown to you? he was asked.
“The people you know, the people you like — you do not kill them,” De Gelder replied.
At other times the accused appeared irritated — as when he took the judge and prosecutor to task, the latter for supposedly “smiling” during his questioning.
Police said De Gelder planned to attack two more nurseries, a police academy and also Belgium’s king — but he was picked up by officers within an hour of the nursery rampage.


Fears of Islamophobia in the UK even as record number of Muslim MPs elected 

Updated 10 min 17 sec ago

Fears of Islamophobia in the UK even as record number of Muslim MPs elected 

  • MCB warning comes after Johnson’s landslide election result
  • UK saw a record number of 220 women elected to the House of Commons   

LONDON: There is a “palpable sense of fear amongst Muslim communities” in the UK, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has warned, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson secured a crushing victory in the 2019 general election.
“We entered the election campaign period with longstanding concerns about bigotry in our politics and our governing party. Now we worry that Islamophobia is ‘oven-ready’ for government. Mr Johnson has been entrusted with huge power, and we pray it is exercised responsibly for all Britons,” the MCB’s Secretary-General Harun Khan said. 
The warning came as accusations of Islamophobia within the Conservative Party continue to plague it.
Despite concern that Islamophobia is “oven-ready” for government, a record number of Muslim MPs were elected on Thursday, with 19 winning seats in the general election; an increase of four from the last election in 2017.
Of these, 15 belong to the Labour Party and the other four, including Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid, are Conservatives. 
As the UK saw a record number of 220 women elected to the House of Commons, this trend was also seen in the number of Muslim women, with 10 winning seats. 
Despite this, Muslims are still not proportionally represented in parliament.
Only 3 percent of the UK’s 650 MPs are Muslim, whilst the country’s Muslim population stands at around 5 percent.
The MCB’s concerns about bigotry and Islamophobia were echoed on Thursday by ex-party chairwoman Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the first female Muslim cabinet member.
Warsi said the Conservative Party “must start healing its relationship with British Muslims,” and the fact that her colleagues in the party had retweeted comments from Islamophobes Tommy Robinson and Katie Hopkins was “deeply disturbing.” 
She added: “An independent inquiry into Islamophobia is a must — the battle to root out racism must now intensify.”
The Tory peer has repeatedly called for an inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, and told BBC Radio 4’s Today program in November that the party had a “deep problem” with Islamophobia. 
“Remember, we’re now four years into these matters first being brought to the attention of the party … the fact that we’re still prevaricating about even having an inquiry, and the kind of inquiry we’re going to have, shows just how dismissive the party have been on the issue of Islamophobia.”

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Labour MP for Bolton South East Yasmin Qureshi (L) attend a general election campaign event in Bolton, Britain December 10, 2019. (Reuters)


Later in November, Johnson apologized for the “hurt and offence” that had been caused by Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, and said that an inquiry into “every manner of prejudice and discrimination” would begin by Christmas. 
Despite apologizing, he remained silent about his own comments on Muslim women wearing the niqab in his Daily Telegraph column in August 2018, when he wrote that Muslim women wearing it “look like letter boxes” or “bank robbers.”
Fourteen party members were suspended in March after posting Islamophobic or racist comments on social media, and a member who had previously been suspended in 2015 for comments on social media was due to stand in local elections this year. 
Peter Lamb was readmitted to the party after he had served a suspension and apologized for his comments.
Lamb, who has since quit the party, tweeted in 2015: “Islam (is) like alcoholism. The first step to recovery is admit you have a problem.”
Yasmin Qureshi, a female Muslim Labour MP, has held her Bolton South East seat since 2010 and was re-elected on Thursday for the fourth time.
Speaking to Arab News, Qureshi said many Muslims were “very fearful and very disappointed” at Johnson’s victory.
“Generally, you can say whatever you want about Muslims in this country now and nobody is really bothered, nobody challenges it, and if it is challenged, it is very mildly dealt with.
“Islamophobia is a big issue and although everybody rightly spoke about anti-semitism, there was not as much emphasis and talk about Islamophobia.
“Islamophobia is not just in the Conservative party, it is actually in the establishment. It is especially present in the media in this country; most of the newspapers of our country are very right-wing and anti-Muslim.
She added: “It doesn’t matter whether you malign Muslims, it’s essentially okay, you can get away with it. That is sadly a reflection of the current state of affairs in the UK.”