Boston blasts kill 3, injure over 100, some seriously

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Updated 20 April 2013

Boston blasts kill 3, injure over 100, some seriously

Two bombs exploded in the packed streets near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, killing three people and injuring more than 100 others, some of them seriously, in a terrifying scene of shattered glass, billowing smoke, bloodstained pavement and severed limbs at the world’s oldest and most prestigious marathon, authorities said.
Boston police also reported another explosion at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, which is three miles from the marathon's finishing line.
"We are not certain that these incidents are related, but we are treating them as if they are," Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis told a news conference.
When Arab News contacted the Saudi Embassy in Washington D.C. Saudi Cultural Attaché Mohammed Aleissa confirmed that no Saudi was injured in the blasts (at the time of filing this report).
Reacting to the marathon horror, a Saudi student in the US, Khaled Almutairi, said:  "I condemn these blasts. God bless America."
The Saudi Cultural Mission in the US has, meanwhile, urged Saudi students in the Boston area to take all the necessary precautionary measures and follow the city’s safety procedures.
Several Saudis studying and living in the US have expressed their concern on social media websites about a possible public backlash against Saudis living in the US as a section of the American media erroneously reported that a Saudi suspect was taken into custody following the explosions.
Some students angry over the publication of such unconfirmed reports demanded the media responsible for that be sued.
In a bizarre and shocking reaction to the blasts, Fox News regular Erik Rush jokingly suggested that “we round up Saudis and then kill them.”
Latching onto a thinly-sourced New York Post report that police had detained a Saudi national (the city’s police commissioner later said that they have no suspects in the bombing yet), Rush tweeted, “Everybody do the National Security Ankle Grab! Let’s bring more Saudis in without screening them! C’mon! #bostonmarathon.”
 The columnist followed up with a response to someone asking if he was blaming Muslims: “Yes, they’re evil. Kill them all.” Rush later deleted the tweet, but not before a section of the media screen grabbed it:
In his reaction, President Barack Obama said the United States did not yet know who was responsible for blasts but vowed to find those accountable and punish them.
“We don’t yet have all the answers,” Obama said. “We still do not know who did this or why,” he added, hinting that he believed the explosions were planned but stopping short of calling them a terrorist attack.
“We will get to the bottom of this. We will find out who did this. We will find out why they did this,” Obama said from the White House briefing room.
“Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups, will feel the full weight of justice.”
Mobile service in the Boston area was suspended and a no-fly zone over the site of explosions was created.
A senior US intelligence official said two other explosive devices were found near the end of the 42-km course.
“They just started bringing people in with no limbs,” said runner Tim Davey, of Virginia. He said he and his wife, Lisa, tried to keep their children’s eyes shielded from the gruesome scene inside a medical tent that had been set up to care for fatigued runners, but “they saw a lot.”
There was no word on the motive or who may have launched the attack, and police said no suspect was in custody.
Authorities in Washington said there was no immediate claim of responsibility.
The twin blasts at the race took place almost simultaneously and about 100 yards apart, knocking spectators and at least one runner off their feet, shattering windows and sending smoke rising over the street.
Some 23,000 runners took part in the race, which winds up in the heart of central Boston near Copley Square, near the Prudential Tower and the Boston Public Library.
Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis asked people to stay indoors or go back to their hotel rooms and avoid crowds as bomb squads methodically checked parcels and bags left along the race route. He said investigators didn’t know whether the bombs were planted in mailboxes or trash cans.
He said authorities had received “no specific intelligence that anything was going to happen” at the race.
The Federal Aviation Administration barred low-flying aircraft from within 5 km of the site.
President Barack Obama was briefed on the explosions by Homeland Security adviser Lisa Monaco. Obama also told Mayor Tom Menino and Gov. Deval Patrick that his administration would provide whatever support was needed, the White House said.
A senior US intelligence official said the two other explosive devices found nearby were being dismantled.
A woman who was a few feet from the second bomb, Brighid Wall, 35, of Duxbury, said that when it exploded, runners and spectators froze, unsure of what to do. Her husband threw their children to the ground, lay on top of them and another man lay on top of them and said, “Don’t get up, don’t get up.”
After a minute or so without another explosion, Wall said, she and her family headed to a Starbucks and out the back door through an alley. Around them, the windows off the bars and restaurants were blown out.
She said she saw six to eight people bleeding profusely, including one man who was kneeling, dazed, with blood coming down his head. Another person was on the ground covered in blood and not moving.
“My ears are zinging. Their ears are zinging. It was so forceful. It knocked us to the ground.”
Competitors and race volunteers were crying as they fled the chaos. Authorities went onto the course to carry away the injured while race stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site.
Roupen Bastajian, a 35-year-old state trooper from neighboring Rhode Island, had just finished the race when they put the heat blanket wrap on him and he heard the blasts.
“I started running toward the blast. And there were people all over the floor,” he said. “We started grabbing tourniquets and started tying legs. A lot of people amputated. ... At least 25 to 30 people have at least one leg missing, or an ankle missing, or two legs missing.”
Cherie Falgoust was waiting for her husband, who was running the race.
“I was expecting my husband any minute,” she said. “I don’t know what this building is ... it just blew. Just a big bomb, a loud boom, and then glass everywhere. Something hit my head. I don’t know what it was. I just ducked.”
Runners who had not finished the race were diverted straight down Commonwealth Avenue and into a family meeting area, according to an emergency plan that had been in place.
In Washington, shortly after the explosions, the presidential Secret Service shut down Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House, cordoning off the area with yellow police tape. Several Secret Service patrol cars also blocked off the entry points to the road.
Attorney General Eric Holder directed the full resources of the Justice Department be deployed to investigate and a department official said Holder has spoken with FBI Director Robert Mueller. The official said the US attorney for Massachusetts’s office was coordinating the Justice Department’s response with the FBI and other federal, state and local law enforcement authorities.
Cities worldwide stepped up security following the explosions.
In Britain, police said they were reviewing security plans for Sunday’s London Marathon, the next major international marathon. Thousands of people compete in the London Marathon every year, thronging the city’s streets. London is also considered a top target for international terrorists.
A London Metropolitan Police spokesman confirmed that police are working with marathon officials to review security plans for Sunday’s event.
The London race’s chief executive, Nick Bitel, expressed shock and sadness about the situation in Boston, saying “it is a very sad day for athletics and for our friends in marathon running.”
Police at three major Los Angeles area airports, including Los Angeles International Airport, were in a “heightened state of vigilance,” with increased patrols to make it visible that more police were on duty, said Chief of Airport Police Patrick Gannon.
The annual marathon attracts more than 500,000 spectators. It takes place on Patriot’s Day, a state holiday that celebrates the evacuation of Boston by the British in the American Revolution.
Spectator Cherie Falgoust was waiting for her husband, who was running the race.
“I was expecting my husband any minute,” she said. “I don’t know what this building is ... it just blew. Just a big bomb, a loud boom, and then glass everywhere. Something hit my head. I don’t know what it was. I just ducked.”
 
 
Saudi students have been advised by the embassy to use the following numbers if they seek any information.
 
Saudi General Consulate in New York the numbers:
(646) 262-9362
743- 4441 (917)
9796-981 (347)
8559- 288 (917)
5322- 655 (516)
 
Student Affairs at the Consulate:
3800-342 (202
2027460666
2027463555
2027469777 
2027462888
 
Emergency numbers at the Cultural Mission:
571-379-6258 
571-379-6082 
571-379-6288 
571-379-6465 
571-379-6080


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

Updated 15 December 2019

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.”