Saudi project clears 2,183 mines in Yemen

Saudi project clears 2,183 mines in Yemen
A total of 251,549 mines have been cleared since the start of the project. (SPA)
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Updated 31 May 2021

Saudi project clears 2,183 mines in Yemen

Saudi project clears 2,183 mines in Yemen
  • Masam is one of several initiatives undertaken by Saudi Arabia on the directive of King Salman to help ease Yemeni suffering

RIYADH: The Saudi Project for Landmine Clearance (Masam) dismantled 2,183 mines in Yemen during the fourth week of May.
The figure comprised 13 anti-personnel mines, 927 anti-tank mines, 1,230 unexploded ordnances and 13 explosive devices.
Masam is one of several initiatives undertaken by Saudi Arabia on the directive of King Salman to help ease Yemeni suffering.
Saudi and international experts are removing mines planted by the Houthi militia in Yemeni regions especially Marib, Aden, Al-Jawf, Shabwa, Taiz, Hodeidah, Lahij, Sanaa, Al-Bayda, Al-Dhale, and Saada.
A total of 251,549 mines have been cleared since the start of the project. More than 1.2 million mines have been planted by the Houthis, claiming the lives of hundreds of civilians.
Masam has 32 demining teams. It aims to dismantle mines in Yemen to protect civilians and ensure that urgent humanitarian supplies are delivered safely.
It trains local demining engineers, gives them modern equipment and it also helps mine victims. 


Syrian jailed for anti-Semitic attacks in Austria

Syrian jailed for anti-Semitic attacks in Austria
Updated 17 min 6 sec ago

Syrian jailed for anti-Semitic attacks in Austria

Syrian jailed for anti-Semitic attacks in Austria
  • The man was arrested after he threw stones and scrawled pro-Palestinian slogans on the town synagogue
  • In court the man said he regretted actions that the prosecutor said were motivated by ‘hatred of Jews’

VIENNA: An Austrian court on Thursday handed a Syrian aged 32 a three-year jail term for vandalising a synagogue and other anti-Semitic attacks.
The court in the southeastern city of Graz was placed in a care institution after finding the man, who committed the offenses in August 2020, to be psychologically disturbed, a spokesperson told AFP.
He was arrested after he threw stones and scrawled pro-Palestinian slogans on the town synagogue before threatening the head of the local Jewish community and also damaged a local facility used by an LGBT group.
In court the man said he regretted actions that the prosecutor said were motivated by “hatred of Jews, homosexuals and prostitutes,” the APA news agency reported.
At the time of the arrest, President Alexander Van der Bellen stressed anti-Semitism had no place in a country whose 192,000-strong pre-war Jewish population was decimated during the Holocaust under Nazi rule.
The country registered 585 anti-Semitic acts last year alone, according to Vienna’s Jewish IKG community association.
Graz’s synagogue was notably destroyed in the 1938 anti-Jewish Kristallnacht — or the Night of Broken Glass — pogrom. A new one was built in 2000.


Saudi Arabian entrepreneur brings a taste of Riyadh to the US with California Shawarma 

Saudi Arabian entrepreneur brings a taste of Riyadh to the US with California Shawarma 
Updated 28 min 50 sec ago

Saudi Arabian entrepreneur brings a taste of Riyadh to the US with California Shawarma 

Saudi Arabian entrepreneur brings a taste of Riyadh to the US with California Shawarma 
  • Food lover Azzam Alkraiji started his business after failing to find decent Shawarma in the US

ANAHEIM, United States: Every evening there’s a line of people around the block hungry for the delicious food at the Saudi owned and operated restaurant California Shawarma.

“I’ve heard a lot of good things about California Shawarma, so you know I’m very excited to give it a try,” customer Mossab Hammadi said.

After leaving college, Saudi entrepreneur and food lover Azzam Alkraiji, started a journey to begin sharing his favorite food with others after he realized he couldn’t find authentic shawarma in the US.

“So originally I decided to go back to Saudi Arabia because I mean I couldn’t find any way for it in the states,” Alkraiji shared. “So from a shawarma chef there I decide to learn it, and I learned it from him. Then we decide to come back to the states and start it here.”    

Alkraiji went on to work in professional kitchens and started a food truck, serving shawarma around Los Angeles and at major events such as National Saudi Day all to prepare for eventually opening his restaurant. He now runs California Shawarma in Anaheim, Southern California.

“People like our chicken shawarma because it's halal. It's very clean and fresh chicken, never frozen. We make sure it's high quality,” he said. “Also the other ingredients, the spices, anything we do for the shawarma. We make sure it’s high ingredient quality.”

“It just reminds me of the olden days when I would just go back home and visit,” Hammadi said when we checked in with him after his meal. 

“I would just go around and get the shawarma. That’s how it reminds me of. A lot of my friends do not believe that we actually have shawarma here, so I will tell them ‘no we definitely have shawarma here in the US.’”


Afghan refugees may be housed in hotels for up to a year, say UK councils

Afghan refugees may be housed in hotels for up to a year, say UK councils
Updated 42 min 11 sec ago

Afghan refugees may be housed in hotels for up to a year, say UK councils

Afghan refugees may be housed in hotels for up to a year, say UK councils
  • Charity workers warn conditions are unsafe for children and can affect their mental wellbeing
  • Around 8,500 Afghans were evacuated to the UK by British forces earlier this year

LONDON: Local politicians across the UK are making contingency plans to house Afghan refugees in hotels for up to a year, as progress on finding them long-term accommodation slows.

So far, around 1,500 of the 8,500 Afghans airlifted out of Kabul by British forces more than two months ago have been provided long-term accommodation, leaving roughly 7,000 without a permanent home in the UK, and with no guidance on when they will be provided, the Guardian reported.

Many of those brought to the UK had worked alongside British or coalition forces as interpreters or in other support roles.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously committed to supporting them, saying: “We will never forget the brave sacrifice made by Afghans who chose to work with us, at great risk to themselves.”

But local councils across Britain are struggling to deal with the influx of refugees and the logistical challenges they pose.

Some councils, the Guardian reported, said they had received no support from the Home Office in providing immediate needs assessment on arrivals, and an official from one said they were given no notice that the government was block-booking hotels in the area for refugees.

“We’re planning for a year, to be honest,” said one unnamed central London hotel official. “We don’t think it will be quick.”

Nick Forbes, the leader of Newcastle City Council, who heads the UK’s Local Government Association Asylum, Refugees and Migration Task Group, told the Guardian: “I get no sense that the government sees this as an urgent priority. I’m concerned that now they are in hotels they are out of sight and out of mind.”

There have also been warnings that hotel conditions are not suitable for the many children to have been evacuated to Britain.

“There are kids in lots of hotels with nothing to do; their mental health wellbeing is not being met, they are becoming frustrated and playing up. We could and should be doing better,” one charity worker said after visiting several London hotels, where 4,000 people are being housed.

Enver Solomon, the chief executive of the Refugee Council, told the Guardian that finding long-term accommodation for 7,000 people would be possible if just half of the UK’s 343 local authorities offered to house 60 people, adding: “That’s just 12 homes each — that should be doable, shouldn’t it?”


Lebanon Christian leader summoned over deadly violence

Lebanon Christian leader summoned over deadly violence
Updated 21 October 2021

Lebanon Christian leader summoned over deadly violence

Lebanon Christian leader summoned over deadly violence
  • Hezbollah and Amal accused Lebanese Forces, which supports the probe, of being responsible for sniper fire against the protesters that ignited street clashes
  • A representative of the military court had "instructed the army intelligence to summon Geagea and take his statement based on information provided by arrested LF members"

BEIRUT: The head of the Lebanese Forces Christian group, Samir Geagea, has been summoned for questioning over deadly violence that erupted at a Shiite rally last week, a judicial official said Thursday.
Seven people were killed in Beirut on October 14 during a protest organized by the Shiite movements Amal and Hezbollah to demand Tarek Bitar, the judge investigating Beirut’s powerful port blast, be removed.
Hezbollah and Amal accused the Lebanese Forces (LF), which supports the probe, of being responsible for sniper fire against the protesters that ignited street clashes.
The Christian group denies the charges.
Fadi Akiki, a representative of the military court, had “instructed the army intelligence to summon Geagea and take his statement based on information provided by arrested LF members,” the judicial official said.
Twenty-six people were arrested after the violence in the heart of the Lebanese capital, most of them LF members, the official said on Thursday.
The exact circumstances of the violence remain unclear.
Geagea has denied responsiblity for the deaths, saying that residents of Beirut’s Christian neighborhood of Ain Al-Remmaneh had “defended” themselves against “Hezbollah militiamen who tried to enter their homes.”
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said on Monday that his Iran-backed movement had 100,000 armed fighters at its disposal, and warned it is against sparking any “civil war.”
On Thursday, Geagea told the Lebanon’s MTV channel he was not aware of the summons.
“I am ready to appear before the judge, on one condition: that Hassan Nasrallah does it before me,” he said.
Nasrallah has been in hiding since the war between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006.
Tensions flared after Bitar summoned two Amal former ministers for questioning as part of the investigation into last year’s devastating Beirut port blast.
The explosion of a huge stockpile of poorly stored fertilizer on the dockside on August 4, 2020 killed more than 210 people, wounded thousands and ravaged half the capital.


Muslim World League and World Jewish Congress urge UN secretary general to promote religious freedom

Muslim World League and World Jewish Congress urge UN secretary general to promote religious freedom
Updated 21 October 2021

Muslim World League and World Jewish Congress urge UN secretary general to promote religious freedom

Muslim World League and World Jewish Congress urge UN secretary general to promote religious freedom
  • Two faith leaders urged UN secretary general to promote interfaith dialogue and coexistence
  • They said that religions have power to unite individuals given that their common source is mercy and peace

LONDON: The secretary general of the Muslim World League and the president of the World Jewish Congress have urged the secretary general of the UN to advocate for religious freedom and an end to violence against houses of worship.
During a meeting with Antonio Guterres at the UN on Tuesday, the two faith leaders urged the secretary general to promote interfaith dialogue and coexistence as a way to forge consensus on many of the world’s greatest challenges.
They emphasized that religions have a unique power to unite individuals given that their common source is mercy and peace.
“The world is under threat from pernicious individuals and groups that seek to use hatred, violence and discrimination to target Muslims, Jews and many other global communities,” Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa said.
“Fortunately, however, we are seeing interfaith partnerships blossom more than ever before as we unite to fight the scourge of racism and extremism, and build bridges of tolerance, understanding, peace and harmony,” he said.
Meanwhile, the president of WJC Ronald S. Lauder said the world must stand together against racism.
“Campaigns against racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia and other manifestations of hate will be infinitely more effective if they are united, both by the Abrahamic faiths and other religions worldwide,” Lauder said.
“We believe in working toward a better world, for generations to come,” he added. 
The two faith leaders renewed their commitment to working together to promote religious tolerance around the globe and leveraging their influence as leaders of independent, global organizations that are apolitical but wield significant moral standing.  
The MWL and WJC issued a joint statement before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Oct. 4 pledging an interfaith commitment to promoting and protecting human rights for all.
It marked the first time a coordinated statement
was presented by Jewish and Muslim representative groups before a UN body.
Both organizations reiterated the need to safeguard religious freedom globally and the right of individuals to practice their religion as a basic human right.