New Zealand at OIC summit: Mosque gunman faces life prison in isolation

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New Zealand's Foreign Minister Winston Peters speaks during a press conference following an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul, on March 22, 2019, to discuss the March 15 deadly attacks on two mosques in Christchurch. (AFP)
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New Zealand's Foreign Minister Winston Peters speaks during a press conference following an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul, on March 22, 2019. (AFP)
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OIC Secretary-General Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen speaks during a press conference following an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, on March 22, 2019, to discuss the March 15 deadly attacks on two mosques in Christchurch. (AFP)
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C) poses for a group photo alongside New Zealand's Foreign Minister Winston Peters (2nd R), Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary General Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen (2nd L), Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (L) and other delegates during an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, on March 22, 2019, to discuss the March 15 deadly attacks on two mosques in Christchurch. (AFP)
Updated 22 March 2019

New Zealand at OIC summit: Mosque gunman faces life prison in isolation

  • The OIC, in a declaration, urged all countries to refrain from statements and policies that associate Islam with terror and extremism
  • It also demanded that March 15 — the day of the Christchurch attack — be marked as the International Day of Solidarity Against Islamophobia

ISTANBUL: New Zealand's deputy prime minister said the gunman accused of killing 50 people in two mosques in the South Pacific nation would spend the rest of his life in isolation in prison and called for solidarity to eradicate "hate-filled ideologies."
Winston Peters was speaking at an emergency session of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation's executive committee called by Turkey to combat prejudice against Muslims in the wake of the attack.
Peters' attendance comes amid controversy sparked by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who, at election campaign rallies, has been screening video clips of the attack, despite efforts by New Zealand to prevent the video's spread. Erdogan also drew Australia's ire for comments suggesting that Australians and New Zealanders with anti-Muslim sentiments would be sent back in coffins like their ancestors who fought against Turks in the World War I Battle of Gallipoli.
Peters took a conciliatory tone on Friday, welcoming comments by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who said at a news conference at the end of the OIC meeting, that Australians and New Zealanders visiting Turkey would be greeted at Gallipoli remembrance ceremonies next month with the same welcoming hospitality "as they always were."
Peters said: "We are returning home to New Zealand with a grateful assurance that our people will come here to commemorate Anzac and will be as welcome as they always were."
Peters said, however, that he didn't discuss Erdogan's use of the footage with Turkey's foreign minister or president though it was widely expected that he'd raise the issue.
"I did not see any sound, peaceful purposes in raising it," Peters said, adding that they had received "very assuring information" from the Turkish presidency.
Speaking at the emergency session, Peters told representatives of Muslim nations: "no punishment can match the depravity of his crime but the families of the fallen will have justice." He also screened moving photographs of New Zealanders mourning the victims.  
Brenton Harrison Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian, was arrested and charged with murder. Tarrant livestreamed the attack and released a manifesto describing his white supremacist views and how he planned the shootings.
The OIC, in a declaration, urged all countries to refrain from statements and policies that associate Islam with terror and extremism. It also demanded that March 15 — the day of the Christchurch attack — be marked as the International Day of Solidarity Against Islamophobia.
Addressing the OIC meeting Friday, Erdogan praised New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, saying her "reaction, the empathy displayed and her solidarity with Muslims" should serve as an example to all leaders.
Erdogan slammed populist politicians who he said encouraged attacks on Muslims and refugees.
"Politicians who pave themselves the road to power by alienating Muslims and creating enemies out of refugees, must pull themselves together."
He also called for neo-Nazi groups to be considered terrorists.
He said: "If we don't show our reaction in a strong manner, the neo-Nazi virus will engulf the body even more. If we don't raise our voices, Western governments will not disrupt their comfort."  


Clashes, tear gas in Beirut as protests turn to riots

Updated 06 June 2020

Clashes, tear gas in Beirut as protests turn to riots

  • Divisions among protesters over the goals of the demonstration quickly became apparent as groups of protesters faced off
  • Hundreds of Lebanese soldiers and riot police were deployed on major roads in the capital and its suburbs ahead of the protest

BEIRUT: Lebanese riot police fired tear gas at protesters in central Beirut on Saturday, after a planned anti-government demonstration quickly degenerated into rioting and stone-throwing confrontations between opposing camps.
A few thousand demonstrators had gathered in Martyrs' Square hoping to reboot nationwide protests that began late last year amid an unprecedented economic and financial crisis. But tensions and divisions among protesters over the goals of the demonstration quickly became apparent as groups of protesters faced off, with the army standing between them.
Scattered groups of protesters arrived in the capital's downtown area, only some of them wearing masks and face shields to protect against the spread of the coronavirus, in response to calls for a centralized protest to press for demands.
Lebanese rose up against their political leaders in nationwide mass protests on Oct. 17 amid a spiraling economic crisis, blaming them for decades of corruption and mismanagement. The protests, which further deepened the slump, eventually lost some momentum and later were put on hold after the outbreak of the pandemic.
The government has gradually begun easing a lockdown aimed at curbing the virus, and protesters have returned to the streets in small numbers in recent days. Saturday's protest was called for by grassroots organizations and civil society groups as well as several political parties, including some groups who have introduced for the first time demands for the Shiite militant group Hezbollah to disarm.
The participation of political groups and anti-Hezbollah slogans have upset some activists and protesters who say the focus should remain on addressing the country's economic crisis and calling for early elections.
Hundreds of Lebanese soldiers and riot police were deployed on major roads in the capital and its suburbs ahead of the protest. They later stood between supporters of Hezbollah and its allied Shiite Amal movement on one side and protesters on the other, some of whom shouted insults aimed at the Hezbollah leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
The pro-Hezbollah side, some carrying yellow Hezbollah flags, chanted “Shia, Shia, Shia!”
Near the parliament building, a group of young men hurled rocks over cement barriers erected to seal off the area. Young men vandalized several storefronts, including a luxury French designer furniture company and a nearby hotel. Police responded with heavy tear gas.
The unprecedented economic crisis, nationwide protests and pandemic pose the biggest threat to stability since the end of the country’s civil war in 1990, and there are fears of a new slide into violence.
In recent weeks, the Lebanese pound, pegged to the dollar for more than two decades, has lost 60% of its value against the dollar and prices of basic goods soared. Unemployment has risen to 35% and an estimated 45% of the country’s population is now below the poverty line.