Harry and Meghan visit South Africa’s oldest mosque on tour

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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, visit Auwal Mosque, the first and oldest mosque in South Africa, in the Bo Kaap district of Cape Town, South Africa, September 24, 2019. (Reuters)
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Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, visits Auwal Mosque, the first and oldest mosque in South Africa, in the Bo Kaap district of Cape Town, South Africa, September 24, 2019. (Reuters)
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Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, visits Auwal Mosque, the first and oldest mosque in South Africa, in the Bo Kaap district of Cape Town, South Africa, September 24, 2019. (Reuters)
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Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, visits Auwal Mosque, the first and oldest mosque in South Africa, in the Bo Kaap district of Cape Town, South Africa, September 24, 2019. (Reuters)
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Britain's Prince Harry, and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, enter a home for tea during a walkabout in Bo-Kaap, a heritage site, in Cape Town, South Africa, Tuesday, Sept, 24, 2019. (AP)
Updated 24 September 2019

Harry and Meghan visit South Africa’s oldest mosque on tour

  • The royals stopped at the 225-year-old Auwal Mosque in Cape Town
  • It included the viewing of the first known manuscript of the Qur’an in South Africa

CAPE TOWN: Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, and her husband, Prince Harry, have visited South Africa’s oldest mosque as their first official tour as a family continues for a second day.
Their stop at the 225-year-old Auwal Mosque in Cape Town on Tuesday includes a viewing of the first known manuscript of the Qur’an in South Africa. Authorities say it was written down from memory by an imam while he was imprisoned on nearby Robben Island during a period when slaves were not allowed to worship Islam.
Events include meetings with several religious leaders, as the mosque hosts interfaith dialogues in the famously diverse city.
The royal couple’s 10-day, multi-country tour also includes stops for Harry in Botswana, Angola and Malawi with a focus on wildlife protection, mental health and mine clearance.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

More images from Heritage Day in Bo Kaap. As part of their visit, Their Royal Highnesses visited the Auwal Mosque – the first and oldest Mosque in South Africa. Standing as a symbol of the freedom of former slaves to worship, the Mosque hosts events with Muslim, Christian and Jewish young leaders, and encourages friendship and understanding between South Africa's varied communities. The Duke and Duchess also got to view the first known manuscript of the Qu’ran in Africa, drafted by Tuan Guru from memory, whilst he was imprisoned on Robben Island. ••• Heritage Day celebrated the great diversity of cultures, beliefs and traditions that make up the rainbow nation. Bo Kaap streets filled with colour and music while Their Royal Highnesses were welcomed to one of the most vibrant neighbourhoods in Cape Town. The area has seen inter-community tension rise over the last few years, yet days like today show how faith, traditions, food and music bring people together, and celebrate the things that unite each and every one of us. #RoyalVisitSouthAfrica • Photo ©️ Shutterstock / PA images

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Tiananmen anniversary marked by crackdown, Hong Kong vigil ban

Updated 32 min 16 sec ago

Tiananmen anniversary marked by crackdown, Hong Kong vigil ban

  • Hong Kong cancels annual candlelight vigil for the first time in 30 years
  • Tiananmen Square, where thousands of students had gathered in 1989, was quiet and largely empty on Thursday

BEIJING: China tightened controls over dissidents while pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong and elsewhere sought ways to mark the 31st anniversary Thursday of the crushing of the pro-democracy movement centered on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
That came after authorities in Hong Kong took the extraordinary move of canceling an annual candlelight vigil in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory’s Victoria Park for the first time in 30 years.
Authorities cited the need for social distancing amid the coronavirus outbreak, despite the recent reopening of schools, beaches, bars and beauty parlors. Hong Kong has had relatively few cases of the virus and life has largely returned to normal in the city of 7.4 million.
However, China has long detested the vigil, the only such activity allowed on Chinese territory to commemorate victims of the crackdown, which remains a taboo subject on the mainland. Hundreds, possibly thousands of people were killed when tanks and troops assaulted the center of Beijing on the night of June 3-4, 1989 to break up weeks of student-led protests seen as posing a threat to authoritarian Communist Party rule.
Tiananmen Square, where thousands of students had gathered in 1989, was quiet and largely empty on Thursday. Police and armored vehicles stood sentry on the vast surface the square. Few pedestrians lined up at security checkpoints where they must show ID to be allowed through as part of mass nationwide surveillance measures aimed at squelching any dissent.
The cancelation of the vigil also comes amid a tightening of Beijing’s grip over Hong Kong, with the National People’s Congress, China’s ceremonial parliament, moving to pass national security legislation that circumvents Hong Kong’s local legislature and could severely limit free speech and opposition political activity.
In Hong Kong, a law is being passed to make it a crime to disrespect China’s national anthem and 15 well-known veteran activists were arrested and charged with organizing and taking part in illegal demonstrations. Those actions are seen as part of a steady erosion of civil rights Hong Kong was guaranteed when it was handed over from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
Despite the ban on the vigil, the Asian financial hub was bracing for “pop-up” protests of the type that raged around the city during months of anti-government protests last year that often led to violent confrontations between police and demonstrators.
Thousands have been arrested over the demonstrations, which were sparked by proposed legislation that could have seen suspects extradited to mainland China where they could face torture and unfair, politically biased trials.
The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic and Democratic Movements of China that organizes the annual vigil has called on people around the city to light candles at 8 p.m. and plans to livestream the commemorations on its website www.64live.org.
Alliance Chairman Lee Cheuk-yan said protesters still planned to gather at the park to mourn victims of the massacre and show their support for the democratic cause in China. It wasn’t clear what form the activity would take or how many would attend. The entrance to the park was blocked by police barriers on Thursday.
“Hong Kong government tried to please or show loyalty to Beijing and ban our gathering before even the national security comes in. But we are determined,” Lee said at a kiosk set up by the group to distribute flyers in the busy Causeway Bay shopping district near the park.
Other vigils, virtual and otherwise, are planned elsewhere, including in Taiwan, the self-ruled island democracy whose government called again this year for Beijing to own up to the facts of the crackdown.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo marked the crackdown anniversary on Tuesday, a day after federal forces used tear gas to clear peaceful protesters from a park in front of the White House.
Pompeo tweeted criticism of China and Hong Kong for banning the vigil before meeting privately with a group of Tiananmen Square survivors at the State Department. That too drew criticism from China.
Alongside the exchanges of rhetoric, China’s small, beleaguered dissident community has again come under greater scrutiny from the authorities. Many have been placed under house arrest and their communications with the outside world cut off, according to rights groups.
China has released the last of those arrested for directly taking part in the Tiananmen demonstrations, but others who seek to commemorate them have been rearrested for continuing their activism.
They include Huang Qi, founder of website 64 Tianwang that sought to expose official wrongdoing. Reportedly in failing health, he is serving a 12-year-sentence after being convicted of leaking state secrets abroad.