US president Donald Trump meets Queen Elizabeth II on UK state visit

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Britain's Queen Elizabeth II greets President Donald Trump as he arrives for a welcome ceremony in the garden of Buckingham Palace. (AP)
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Britain’s Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, right, greets US President Donald Trump as he steps off Marine One to attend a welcome ceremony at Buckingham Palace in central London. (AFP)
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US President Donald Trump (L) walks with Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales after inspecting the honour guard during a welcome ceremony. (AFP)
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US President Donald Trump, right, and US First Lady Melania Trump, center, are greeted by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, second right after being met by Britain’s Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, left, and Britain’s Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, second left, during a welcome ceremony at Buckingham Palace on June 3, 2019. (AFP)
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US President Donald Trump inspecting a Queen's Guard line-up at Buckingham Palace. (AFP)
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Donald Trump posted a tweet that described London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan (L) as a loser before he met with the Queen (File/Odd Andersen, Tolga Akmen/AFP)
Updated 03 June 2019

US president Donald Trump meets Queen Elizabeth II on UK state visit

  • Trump tweeted his disapproval of London's Mayor before meeting the Queen
  • His visit is likely to be met with protests across the country

LONDON: President Donald Trump met with Queen Elizabeth II Monday during two-day visit to Britain that’s meant to strengthen ties between the two nations, although the trip was immediately at risk of being overshadowed by Brexit turmoil and a political feud with London’s mayor.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump flew to Buckingham Palace in Marine One, landing on a lawn where they were greeted by Prince Charles and his wife Camilla. They received a royal gun salute as they walked to the palace where the queen greeted the president with a smile.

Even before Air Force One touched down north of London, Trump unleashed a Twitter tirade against London Mayor Sadiq Khan, leader of the world city where Trump will stay for two nights while partaking in a state visit full of pomp and circumstance.

The move came after a newspaper column in which Khan said Trump did not deserve red-carpet treatment in Britain and was “one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat” from the far-right to liberal democracy.

“@SadiqKhan, who by all accounts has done a terrible job as Mayor of London, has been foolishly “nasty” to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom,” Trump wrote just before landing. “He is a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me.

The president added that Kahn reminded of the “terrible” mayor of his hometown, New York City Mayor Bill de Blaiso though “only half his height.” De Blaiso, a Democrat, is a longshot candidate in the 2020 presidential race. Khan supporters have previously accused Trump of being racist against London’s first Muslim mayor.

The president then added a few warm words for his hosts, tweeting that he was looking forward “to being a great friend to the United Kingdom, and am looking very much forward to my visit.”

But beneath the pomp and ceremony, Britain is in turmoil with Prime Minister Theresa May due to step down within weeks over her handling of her country’s exit from the European Union.

Trump weighed in on the divisive issue of Brexit, declaring before he arrived that Britain’s former foreign minister Boris Johnson would make an “excellent” choice to succeed May.

In a round of British newspaper interviews, he also recommended her successor walk away from talks with Brussels, refuse to pay Britain’s agreed divorce bill and leave the EU with no deal.




US President Donald Trump saluted the honor guard as he walked on the tarmac after disembarking Air Force One at Stansted Airport, north of London. (Isabel Infantes/AFP)

The UK-US “special relationship” was already under strain over different approaches to Iran, the use of Chinese technology in 5G networks, climate change, and Trump’s personal politics.

Labour’s Khan has led opposition to the three-day visit, writing a newspaper article on Sunday in which he compared the US leader to European dictators from the 1930s and 1940s.

“Donald Trump is just one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat,” Khan wrote.

His spokesman called Trump’s tweets “childish” and “beneath the president of the United States.”

Huge protests are being organized in London, with organizers crowdfunding a bright orange “baby Trump” blimp depicting the US leader in a diaper — aiming for an even larger version than the one flown during his visit last year.




Banners created by UK based human rights organization Amnesty International and unfurled over Vauxhall Bridge in central London on June 3, 2019 to coincide with the UK State Visit of US President Donald Trump.  (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP)

The leaders of Britain’s main opposition parties and the speaker of parliament are boycotting the state banquet on Monday night.

In an effort to brush past the controversy, May and Trump are expected to emphasize the wider benefits of their old alliance when they hold talks at Downing Street on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, they will join other world leaders in the English port of Portsmouth to commemorate 75 years since the D-Day landings, which changed the course of World War II.

“Our relationship has underpinned our countries’ security and prosperity for many years, and will continue to do so for generations to come,” May said ahead of the visit.

May announced her resignation last month after failing to get her Brexit deal through parliament and twice delaying Britain’s EU departure.

She will formally quit as her Conservative party’s leader on Friday, but will stay on as caretaker prime minister while her successor is chosen.

Three years after the referendum vote for Brexit, Britain remains divided.




Trump was welcomed to Britain by British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. (AFP)

Trump recommended the new government make a clean break with the EU if necessary, adding that there was “tremendous potential” for Britain to trade with his country after Brexit.

Causing more potential embarrassment for May, Trump said he might also meet with Johnson and pro-Brexit leader Nigel Farage during his UK visit.

“They want to meet. We’ll see what happens,” he told reporters before he left the United States.

May was the first foreign leader welcomed to the White House after Trump’s election victory in November 2016, but their relationship has not always been rosy.

They have clashed over Trump’s migration policies, while Britain still backs the Iranian nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord, both of which Trump has abandoned.

Washington has also been putting pressure on Britain to exclude Chinese tech giant Huawei from its 5G network over security concerns, suggesting it might harm intelligence-sharing.

Trump’s first official visit to Britain last year was overshadowed by criticism of May’s approach to Brexit, as well as large demonstrations.

He is not expected to meet Prince Harry and his American wife Meghan Markle, after saying her previous criticism of him was “nasty.”


Indonesia targets ‘virus’ of religious radicalization

Indonesia’s Vice President Ma’ruf Amin says the government is on a quest to stop the spread of radicalism. (AN photo by Yudhi Sukma Wijaya)
Updated 25 February 2020

Indonesia targets ‘virus’ of religious radicalization

  • Vice President Ma’ruf Amin shares concern over former Indonesian Daesh members who want to return home
  • There are 600 former jail inmates under observation of national counterterrorism agency BNPT

JAKARTA: The Indonesian government has decided not to repatriate hundreds of citizens who joined Daesh in a bid to counter the rise of radicalization in its society.

President Joko Widodo said on Feb. 12 that the government was prioritizing the security of its 260 million population by reducing their exposure to terrorist attacks from those who had fought for Daesh.
Indonesia has experienced a number of attacks by people linked to militant groups that support Daesh. Recent attacks include a suicide bombing at a police headquarters in November and an attack on the then-chief security minister, Wiranto — a retired general who like many Indonesians uses one name — who was stabbed in the abdomen last October by a man affiliated to a Daesh-supporting network.
Chief Security Minister Mohammad Mahfud MD said that there were 689 people in camps in Syria — most of them women and children — who said they come from Indonesia, based on data provided by the CIA, the the Red Cross and other agencies.
The government will consider on a case-by-case basis whether to repatriate children aged 10 or younger, and based on whether they have parents or are orphaned.
Mahfud said that the government was concerned that if foreign terrorist fighters were repatriated they could become a dangerous new “virus” for the country.
Indonesians who had been repatriated from Syria have to take part in a government-sponsored deradicalization program for a month.
In addition, the national counterterrorism agency BNPT has rolled out deradicalization programs for terror convicts incarcerated in more than 100 correctional facilities. It continues to monitor at least 600 former jail inmates who have served their terms and are undertaking empowerment programs to prevent them from rejoining fellow militants.
Vice President Ma’ruf Amin has been tasked with the responsibility of coordinating efforts to take on radicalization. His credentials as a senior Muslim cleric are expected to carry weight in countering the spread of hardline Islamic teachings.

INNUMBERS

260m - Total population of Indonesia.

689 - Number of people in Syrian camps who say they are from Indonesia.

600 - Number of inmates under observation of national counterterrorism agency BNPT.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, septuagenarian Amin, who is chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council, although in an inactive capacity, acknowledged his background as a religious figure was the reason why President Widodo assigned him to the task.
“We want to instill a sense of religious moderation and develop a nationalist commitment,” he said.
He added that the government did not want former Daesh members who claimed to be Indonesians bringing “a plague” to the country, becoming “a new source of radicalism” if they were repatriated.
The government uses the term “radical terrorism” to avoid confusion with other types of radicalism.

Hundreds of Indonesians joined Daesh in Syria, to fight against President Bashar Assad. (Getty)

Amin said that prevention and law enforcement were required to combat terrorism. While Indonesia has gained international recognition for its counterterrorism efforts, there remains much to do to curb the spread of radical terrorism, he said.
“If radicalism turns into action, it could become terrorism, so we begin from their way of thinking and we realign their intolerant thoughts, which are the source of radicalism. We deradicalize those who have been exposed,” Amin said.
There are five provinces where the spread of radicalism and terrorism have been particularly being targeted: Aceh, Riau, Central Sulawesi, West Kalimantan and East Java.
Amin said that the government was on a quest to prevent the spread of religious radicalism in Indonesia.
“The cause of terrorism and radicalism could be triggered by religious teachings, the economic situation, injustice, therefore it takes a comprehensive approach from upstream to downstream,” Amin said.
A coordinated approach involves various government agencies and institutions, and begins with early childhood education through to college.
“We want to instill religious moderation, a sense of nationalism and patriotism and introduce Pancasila into early childhood education,” Amin said, referring to the country’s foundation principles.
According to the Global Threat Landscape report issued in January by Singapore’s International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), deradicalization programs targeting women and children are necessary given the growing number of women involved in terrorist activities. The programs need to be different to those provided for male militants.
The report found that family networks which include wives would continue to play a part in militant activities in Indonesia this year. Family units are likely to be involved in future attacks as some pro-Daesh families have indoctrinated their children with its ideology.
Previous attacks have seen women and children involved in attacks such as the suicide bombing in Surabaya targeting churches and a police headquarters in 2018.
Asked if the BNPT efforts have been enough to counter radicalization in Indonesia, Amin said that the program was on track, but in the future the government aimed to have a more focused target supported by cooperation with government agencies.
 “We expect the results would be much better than what has been achieved so far,” he said.