UK military seizes oil tanker with stowaway troubles

The Nave Andromeda left Lagos, Nigeria, on Oct. 6 and had been expected to dock in Southampton on Sunday. (Lammert Melk via AP)
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Updated 26 October 2020

UK military seizes oil tanker with stowaway troubles

  • The incident took place on the Liberian-registered Nave Andromeda crude oil tanker

LONDON: The UK military has seized control of an oil tanker that laid anchor off in the English Channel after reporting it had seven stowaways on board who had become violent.
Tobias Ellwood, chair of the House of Commons’ Defense Committee, confirmed the action in a BBC interview and said no one was hurt. The stowaways are in custody.
The incident, which began about 10 a.m. on the Libyan-registered tanker Nave Andromeda, ended Sunday night. The coast guard scrambled two helicopters to the scene, and authorities imposed a three-mile exclusion zone around the vessel.
Pat Adamson, a spokesman for the ship’s owner, Navios Maritime Acquisition Corp., earlier described the situation as a “security incident” involving stowaways and said the tanker was not hijacked.
“Police are currently working closely with our partners, including the Maritime & Coast Guard Agency and Border Force, to bring this incident to a safe conclusion,” the Hampshire police said in a statement.

The Nave Andromeda left Lagos, Nigeria, on Oct. 6 and had been expected to dock in Southampton, England, at 10.30 a.m. Sunday, according to ship tracking website MarineTraffic.com. The tanker has been circling an area about 5 miles southeast of Sandown on the Isle of Wight since about 10 a.m., tracking data shows.
Chris Parry, a retired Royal Navy rear admiral who is now a fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, told The Associated Press he suspects the stowaways grew violent as the tanker neared port, and the crew retreated to a secure area known as “the citadel” to retain control of the vessel.
The captain probably wanted to avoid taking a fully loaded tanker into the heavily populated area near the Portsmouth navy base, where Britain’s carriers are based, as long as this incident was going on, Parry said.
“You don’t want this ship anywhere near with this sort of thing going on,” he said. “And so the captain probably rather wisely and in consultation with his owners, went to anchor off the Isle of Wight.”
Bob Seely, who represents the Isle of Wight in Parliament, said the British government was likely to convene a meeting of its emergency committee to discuss the incident. Trouble on the ship is of particular concern because of the tanker’s cargo and because the vessel started out from West Africa, he said.
“I suspect, because of the nature of this, it will be treated as marine counter-terrorism,” Seely told Sky News. “The number of people in the UK who do that are very limited, and the relevant units will be looking at options, no doubt, as to what we could be doing.”
The Home Office, which is responsible for law enforcement and immigration in the UK, said it was aware of the incident.
Parry said that such stowaway incidents are not infrequent and are likely to increase as migrants look for new ways to enter Britain.
“I think the most important thing to take away from this is that we have a world that’s on the move, and the sea is the physical equivalent to the World Wide Web,” he said. “And people will find out how to get between countries by sea, by any other route that gets them from one place to another, where they can obviously advance themselves economically, improve their lives and get away from whatever horrors or disadvantages that they were born into.”


French youth of Arab origin mistrust secularism, national symbols, finds poll

Updated 30 min 14 sec ago

French youth of Arab origin mistrust secularism, national symbols, finds poll

  • Arab News en Francais/YouGov survey of French citizens of Arab origin found a wide generational gap in attitudes to secular values
  • Older respondents identified more closely with French national symbols, but tended to feel stigmatized for their faith

LONDON: Young people of Arab origin in France are less likely to hold secular values and are more distrustful of national symbols than their elders, an Arab News en Francais survey conducted in partnership with British polling agency YouGov has found.

Attitudes to secularism appear to differ substantially among those aged between 18 and 24, which constituted 15 percent of the 958 people surveyed, compared with other age groups.

More than half (54 percent) of all those polled said they believe religion plays a negative role in politics, while a smaller 46 percent of 18-24-year-olds said this was the case.

Likewise, on the subject of laws restricting the wearing of religious clothing, 38 percent of all respondents said they favor such rules, while 29 percent of 18-24-year-olds approve.

Asked whether they would be prepared to defend the French model of secularism in their country of origin, 65 percent of respondents said they would compared with just 56 percent of 18-24-year-olds.

Even among the 25-34 age group, adherence to the values of secularism is noticeably stronger than among the younger cohort, with 55 percent saying religion plays a negative role in politics.

The trend generally continues with age. Among those over 45, about 50 percent said they are in favor of laws limiting the wearing of religious symbols.

Observers have asked whether such negative perceptions of secularism among young French citizens of Arab origin can be equated with growing radicalism.

Some scholars of Islam have established a link between countries which have adopted a more “incisive” secularism and the number of citizens who traveled to Syria to join Daesh.

William McCants and Christopher Meserole of the Brookings Institution believe the political culture of France and Belgium, where religious symbols are restricted, combined with massive unemployment and urbanization, contributed to radicalization.

IN NUMBERS

46% 18-24-year-olds say religion plays negative role in politics.

58% 18-24-year-olds would support home football side against France.

Other researchers say those who traveled to Syria came overwhelmingly from poor urban areas, where they faced discrimination in the job market, housing and police checks.

“Some young people feel they are viewed as sub-citizens, while media rhetoric gives credence to the idea that Muslims are ‘banding apart’,” said Elyamine Settoul, a lecturer at the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts in Paris.

“This otherness between ‘them’ and ‘us’ represents a breeding ground for radicalization. Radical groups will not only sell them full citizenship but also compensate for all their deficiencies, whether they are identity based, affective or narcissistic.”

It is perhaps surprising, then, that just 47 percent of the 18-24 cohort surveyed by Arab News en Francais and YouGov believe their religion is perceived negatively in France — significantly lower than the overall average of 59 percent among all age groups.

Few topics better reflect a community’s sense of national pride than an international football tournament. Dual identities often lead to the question: Should I support the national side from my place of origin or cheer for my adopted nation?

Once again, a generational split emerges. The survey found 58 percent of men aged 18-24 would support their country of origin against the French side compared with an average of 47 percent among all respondents.

If the French World Cup victory in 1998 is considered the peak of the country’s “black-blanc-beur” multiculturalism, then the 2001 friendly between France and Algeria must be considered its nadir, when Algerian fans invaded the pitch.

The Arab News en Francais/YouGov study found that support for the French national team tended to increase with age. About 58 percent of 35-44-year-olds and 50 percent of over-55s said they would support the French national side over their country of origin.

“Young people under 25 are still building their identity and tend to get closer to their country of origin at this age. They fully claim their belonging to the country of origin, but this remains like folklore, as they often do not know much about it,” Settoul said.

“Over time, the identity asserts itself: We integrate professionally, get married, buy property and no longer take the same positions.”