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."  


Russian envoy seeks to break ‘suffocating’ Beirut deadlock

Updated 55 min 19 sec ago

Russian envoy seeks to break ‘suffocating’ Beirut deadlock

  • Moscow move comes after Iran-backed factions block Macron reforms

BEIRUT: Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov will visit Lebanon to discuss support for the crisis-hit country following the failure of French efforts to form an independent Lebanese government.

Bogdanov, the Russian president’s special envoy for the Middle East and North Africa, told Lebanese Democratic Party (LDP) leader Talal Arslan on Tuesday that “efforts and dialogue are needed to reach a solution that gets Lebanon out of the suffocating crisis it is going through.” 

In a meeting in Moscow on Monday, Bogdanov told Lebanese Ambassador Shawki Bou Nassar that he will visit Beirut in late October for talks with senior officials. 

It will be the first visit by a Russian official since the Beirut port blast on Aug. 4 devastated large areas of the capital and plunged the country into political turmoil.

The Russian move follows the failure of French President Emmanuel Macron’s efforts to form an independent Lebanese government and introduce reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help the country avoid a financial and economic meltdown.

Last Sunday, Macron gave Lebanese officials a six-week deadline to form a new government, accusing Lebanese leaders of betraying their pledges to him during a high-profile visit to Beirut in early September.

The accusations were directed at the Iran-backed Hezbollah and Amal Movement factions over obstruction of Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib’s plans for a new government.

Both factions were widely criticized in the wake of Adib’s resignation on Saturday and accused of sabotaging the French initiative.

On Monday, an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said that Tehran rejected claims of “external interference in Lebanon’s affairs.”

Amal Movement said that Macron’s accusations, as well as attempts to blame Amal Movement and Hezbollah, “are far from the facts and the realities of discussions with the prime Minister-designate.”

The political faction said that its leader, Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, “is at the forefront of those keen to preserve Lebanon’s stability and the unity of its people.”

Berri’s political aide, former minister Ali Hassan Khalil, has been been hit by US sanctions on a string of charges, including corruption.

Zafer Nasser, secretary-general of the Progressive Socialist Party, told Arab News that the objectives of Bogdanov’s visit remain unclear and Lebanon must continue to support Macron’s efforts.

“The French initiative is our last chance and we must hold on to it,” he said.

With Lebanon’s central bank expected to begin reducing subsidies for the import of hydrocarbons in coming weeks, gas stations around the country experienced shortages on Tuesday due to delays in imports.

According to a representative of the Gas Station Owners Syndicate, George Brax, a partial reduction of subsidies will raise the price of a can of gasoline to between 37,000 and 40,000 Lebanese pounds, while with a total reduction, it will reach between 65,000 and 70,000 Lebanese pounds.

“If the dollar exchange rate continues to rise, the price of a can of gasoline may reach 85,000 Lebanese pounds,” he said.