Hate preachers in the UK to be treated as ‘priority threat’ amid extremism resurgence concerns

Hate preachers in the UK to be treated as ‘priority threat’ amid extremism resurgence concerns
The British government’s counter-terrorism strategy will treat hate preachers as a “priority threat” as concerns rise about a revival of Islamist terrorism. (File/AFP)
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Updated 06 June 2021

Hate preachers in the UK to be treated as ‘priority threat’ amid extremism resurgence concerns

Hate preachers in the UK to be treated as ‘priority threat’ amid extremism resurgence concerns
  • Approach likely to encourage anti-extremism officials to intervene over hateful extremism even when there is no evidence of a link to terrorism

LONDON: The British government’s counter-terrorism strategy will treat hate preachers as a “priority threat” as concerns rise about a revival of Islamist terrorism.
Ministers are preparing to instruct counter-terrorism officials to monitor and “disrupt” the activities of those who “promote fear and division” without committing terrorist acts, British newspaper the Daily Telegraph has reported.
The move could lead to officials and police attempting to prevent certain extremists from giving out material on the streets and holding large events, and challenging them when they speak in public, a former counter-terrorism officer suggested.
The decision comes after a review by the government’s extremism commissioner, Sara Khan, and the former head of counter-terrorism policing, Sir Mark Rowley, warned that many “hateful extremists” who are not carrying out terrorist activities are able to operate with “impunity,” the newspaper reported.
It said that extremists were “creating a ‘chilling’ impact on freedom of expression,” and singled out Cage, an advocacy group whose “senior leaders have advocated supporting violent jihad overseas.”
The review accused the group of attempting to label efforts to counter extremism as Islamophobic.
However, the government is believed to have rejected a separate recommendation by the review that ministers should expand current criminal offenses relating to stirring up hatred.
“There will be a new flexibility to take on groups and ideologies that do not meet the terrorism threshold but contribute to the wider environment in which terrorism can get a foothold, including those that promote fear, division and alienation from democracy and the rule of law,” the paper quoted a Whitehall source as saying.
The approach is likely to encourage anti-extremism officials to intervene over hateful extremism even when there is no evidence of a link to terrorism.
Currently, the government’s anti-extremism program focuses on preventing people from being drawn into terrorism.
Officials also fear that a resurgence of Islamist extremism could be behind the rise in anti-Semitism in the UK.
Ministers are understood to have agreed a new way of dealing with extremist groups under existing legislation, which includes focusing resources on “disrupting” those who are seen to create an environment which can lead to terror.


Poland reports over 8,000 daily COVID-19 cases

Poland reports over 8,000 daily COVID-19 cases
Updated 10 sec ago

Poland reports over 8,000 daily COVID-19 cases

Poland reports over 8,000 daily COVID-19 cases
  • Since the pandemic began, Poland has reported 2,990,509 cases and 76,672 deaths
WARSAW: Poland reported over 8,361 daily COVID-19 cases and 133 deaths on Wednesday, the health minstry said.
Since the pandemic began Poland, a country of around 38 million, has reported 2,990,509 cases and 76,672 deaths.

India’s top court probes spying charges against government

India’s top court probes spying charges against government
Updated 5 min 42 sec ago

India’s top court probes spying charges against government

India’s top court probes spying charges against government
  • India’s opposition has been demanding an investigation into how the Israeli spyware, known as Pegasus, was used in India
NEW DELHI: India’s top court on Wednesday established a committee of experts to look into accusations that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government used Israeli military-grade spyware to monitor political opponents, journalists and activists.
The Supreme Court order came in response to petitions filed by a group of Indian journalists, rights activists and opposition politicians following an investigation by a global media consortium in July. The committee, headed by a retired judge, is expected to give its findings by year-end.
India’s opposition has been demanding an investigation into how the Israeli spyware, known as Pegasus, was used in India.
Modi’s government has “unequivocally” denied all allegations regarding illegal surveillance. India’s information technology minister Ashwani Vaishnaw in Parliament dismissed the allegations in July, calling them “highly sensational,” “over the top” and “an attempt to malign the Indian democracy.”
But the government in an affidavit did not tell the court whether it used the Israeli equipment for spying, citing security reasons.
On Wednesday, the court said the state cannot get a free pass every time by raising security concerns.
“Violation of the right to privacy, freedom of speech, as alleged in pleas, needs to be examined,” the Press Trust of India cited Chief Justice N.V. Ramanna as saying.
Based on leaked targeting data, the findings by a global media consortium provided evidence that the spyware from the Israel-based NSO Group, the world’s most infamous hacker-for-hire company, was allegedly used to infiltrate devices belonging to a range of targets, including journalists, activists and political opponents in 50 countries.
The company said in July it only sells to “vetted government agencies” for use against terrorists and major criminals and that it has no visibility into its customers’ data.
Critics call those claims dishonest and have provided evidence that NSO directly manages the high-tech spying. They say the repeated abuse of Pegasus spyware highlights the nearly complete lack of regulation of the private global surveillance industry.
Pegasus infiltrates phones to vacuum up personal and location data and surreptitiously controls the smartphone’s microphones and cameras. In the case of journalists, that allows hackers to spy on reporters’ communications with sources.
Rights groups say the findings bolster accusations that not only autocratic regimes but also democratic governments, including India, have used the spyware for political ends.

Hiroshima nuclear bomb survivor and campaigner dies at 96

Hiroshima nuclear bomb survivor and campaigner dies at 96
Updated 51 min 23 sec ago

Hiroshima nuclear bomb survivor and campaigner dies at 96

Hiroshima nuclear bomb survivor and campaigner dies at 96
  • Sunao Tsuboi was on his way to engineering school in 1945 when the first nuclear bomb attack was launched by the US

TOKYO: Hiroshima A-bomb survivor Sunao Tsuboi, who became a prominent campaigner for nuclear disarmament and met Barack Obama on his historic visit to the city, has died aged 96, his advocacy group said Wednesday.
Tsuboi was on his way to engineering school in 1945 when the first nuclear bomb attack was launched by the United States, turning the bustling metropolis into an inferno.
“I suffered burns all over my body,” he said in 2016. “Naked, I tried to run away for about three hours on August 6 but finally could no longer walk.”
Then aged 20, he picked up a small rock and wrote on the ground “Tsuboi dies here,” before losing consciousness and waking up several weeks later.
He later developed cancer and other diseases but became a prominent advocate for atomic bomb survivors and a lifelong campaigner for a nuclear-free world.
“I can tolerate hardships for the sake of human happiness. I may die tomorrow but I’m optimistic. I will never give up. We want zero nuclear weapons,” he said.
Tsuboi was among a handful of Hiroshima survivors who met then US president Obama when he visited the city in 2016.
He smiled broadly as he shook Obama’s hand, with the two men conversing for upwards of a minute. “I was able to convey my thoughts,” a satisfied Tsuboi said afterwards.
Tsuboi “passed away on Saturday due to anaemia,” an official from Nihon Hidankyo — a group that represents survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, of which Tsuboi was a key leader — said.
There are 127,755 survivors of both attacks still alive and their average age is 84, according to the health ministry.
Around 140,000 people died in the bombing of Hiroshima, a toll that includes those who survived the explosion but died soon after from radiation exposure.
Three days later the US dropped a plutonium bomb on the port city of Nagasaki, killing about 74,000 people and leading to the end of World War II.


US envoy: Iran nuclear deal effort is at ‘critical phase’

US envoy: Iran nuclear deal effort is at ‘critical phase’
Updated 27 October 2021

US envoy: Iran nuclear deal effort is at ‘critical phase’

US envoy: Iran nuclear deal effort is at ‘critical phase’
  • Iran has said for more than a month that it would ‘soon’ return to indirect talks in Vienna with the US on resuming compliance with the accord

WASHINGTON: Efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are at a “critical phase” and Tehran’s reasons for avoiding talks are wearing thin, a US official has said while raising the possibility of further diplomacy even if the deal cannot be resuscitated.

US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley told reporters Washington was increasingly worried Tehran would keep delaying a return to talks, but said it had other tools to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and would use them if need be.

“We’re in a critical phase of the efforts to see whether we can revive the JCPOA,” Malley said, referring to the deal formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. “We’ve had a hiatus of many months and the official reasons given by Iran for why we’re in this hiatus are wearing very thin.”

While saying that the window for both the US and Iran to resume compliance with the agreement would eventually close, Malley said the US would still be willing to engage in diplomacy with Iran even as it weighed other options to prevent Tehran from getting the bomb.

He also hinted at the economic benefits that might flow from Iran’s return to the agreement, under which Tehran took steps to limit its nuclear program in return for relief from US, EU and UN economic sanctions.

While saying the window for returning to the JCPOA will not be open forever because eventually Iran’s nuclear advances will have overtaken it, Malley said Washington would continue to look for diplomatic arrangements with Tehran.

“You can’t revive a dead corpse,” he said, stressing that the US had not reached that point yet. “We will continue to pursue diplomacy, even as we pursue other steps if we face a world in which we need to do that.”

Malley refused to describe those other steps. Since talks in Vienna on reviving the deal adjourned in June, Washington has increasingly spoken of pursuing other options, a phrase that hints at the possibility, however remote, of military action.

The envoy, who spent last week consulting US partners in the Gulf and in Europe, emphasized that all sides had “a strong preference for diplomacy, for an effort to revive the JCPOA and, were that to happen, to find ways to engage Iran economically.”


Bangladesh to launch Myanmar curriculum for Rohingya refugee children

Bangladesh to launch Myanmar curriculum for Rohingya refugee children
Updated 27 October 2021

Bangladesh to launch Myanmar curriculum for Rohingya refugee children

Bangladesh to launch Myanmar curriculum for Rohingya refugee children
  • Stalled by COVID-19 lockdowns, pilot program now set to swing into action

DHAKA: Bangladeshi authorities and the UN are preparing to introduce formal education using a Myanmar curriculum for hundreds of thousands of Rohingya children living in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.

The fishing port in southeastern Bangladesh, hosts more than 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims — members of an ethnic and religious minority group who fled persecution in neighboring Myanmar during a military crackdown in northern Rakhine state in 2017.

The children, who constitute half of the refugee population, now attend 6,250 informal learning centers run by UN agencies and aid partners at 34 camps in Cox’s Bazar, which provide basic education to more than 354,000 students.

The Bangladeshi government in January 2020 agreed with the UN that the Rohingya children should be provided with Myanmar education to prepare them for a future return to their country. Stalled by coronavirus disease pandemic lockdowns for one-and-half years, a pilot program is now set to be launched as Bangladeshi schools reopened last month.

Regina de la Portilla, UN refugee agency spokesperson at Cox’s Bazar, recently told Arab News: “The Myanmar curriculum is to be introduced in learning centers, as per the government of Bangladesh request, with the objective that children can restart their education when they are able to safely and voluntarily return to their home country. Preparations are completed to roll out the pilot.”

The foreign ministry expected the program to be launched soon as final preparations are underway. A ministry official, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We are working on it and are currently busy with last-minute preparations. We hope to roll out the curriculum anytime soon.

“We have made some observations in the curriculum to incorporate Myanmar culture. Our objective is to prepare them to integrate with the Myanmar society once they are repatriated,” he said.

BRAC, the largest development organization based in Bangladesh, which has been running learning centers for 65,000 Rohingya children in Cox’s Bazar, plans to teach them in Myanmar’s main language, Burmese.

Khan Mohammed Ferdous, BRAC’s education program chief at Cox’s Bazar, told Arab News: “Teachers at our learning centers have received basic training but are yet to be trained for the new curriculum.

“Currently, we are following a learning competence framework and approach, a government-approved guideline for the informal education system. Gradually, the framework will jump into the Myanmar curriculum.”

Rohingya parents in Cox’s Bazar are waiting for the introduction of the new curriculum, which would help prepare them for future repatriation.

Fatema Begum, 35, said she had been worrying about her four children as formal education was not available at the camps.

“The introduction of the Myanmar curriculum in the camps is inspiring news to me because my children will have the opportunity to learn more about their homeland. They will have the eligibility to pursue higher education,” she added.

Abdur Rahim, 41, a father-of-three, was also hoping for a better future for his children.

He said: “The boys and girls at Rohingya camps have nothing to do except roam around. When the Myanmar curriculum is launched, they will be able to receive some quality education, which will help them to pursue a better career in Myanmar.”

Prof. Amena Mohsin from the University of Dhaka’s international relations department described the move as a “message” to the world that Rohingya refugees were Myanmar citizens whose opportunities in Bangladesh were limited.

She said: “There is no point in teaching the refugee children with the Bangladeshi curriculum since they are not allowed to get engaged in any formal job in Bangladesh. The Myanmar curriculum will help them prepare for livelihoods when they return to Myanmar.”