Seven-year-old LemonAid Boys in east London have caught the public’s imagination with their fundraising  campaigns for Yemen and Palestine

Best friends Ayaan Moosa and Mikaeel Ishaaq set up their homemade lemonade stand and managed to raise £140,000 for Yemen. (Twitter/@LemonAidboys)
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Best friends Ayaan Moosa and Mikaeel Ishaaq set up their homemade lemonade stand and managed to raise £140,000 for Yemen. (Twitter/@LemonAidboys)
Best friends Ayaan Moosa and Mikaeel Ishaaq set up their homemade lemonade stand and managed to raise £140,000 for Yemen. (Twitter/@LemonAidboys)
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Best friends Ayaan Moosa and Mikaeel Ishaaq set up their homemade lemonade stand and managed to raise £140,000 for Yemen. (Twitter/@LemonAidboys)
Best friends Ayaan Moosa and Mikaeel Ishaaq set up their homemade lemonade stand and managed to raise £140,000 for Yemen. (Supplied)
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Best friends Ayaan Moosa and Mikaeel Ishaaq set up their homemade lemonade stand and managed to raise £140,000 for Yemen. (Supplied)
Best friends Ayaan Moosa and Mikaeel Ishaaq set up their homemade lemonade stand and managed to raise £140,000 for Yemen. (Twitter/@LemonAidboys)
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Best friends Ayaan Moosa and Mikaeel Ishaaq set up their homemade lemonade stand and managed to raise £140,000 for Yemen. (Twitter/@LemonAidboys)
The boys also participated in Palestinian protests in central London organized by the UK-based NGO Friends of Al-Aqsa. (Supplied).
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The boys also participated in Palestinian protests in central London organized by the UK-based NGO Friends of Al-Aqsa. (Supplied).
The boys also participated in Palestinian protests in central London organized by the UK-based NGO Friends of Al-Aqsa. (Supplied).
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The boys also participated in Palestinian protests in central London organized by the UK-based NGO Friends of Al-Aqsa. (Supplied).
Best friends Ayaan Moosa and Mikaeel Ishaaq set up their homemade lemonade stand and managed to raise £140,000 for Yemen. (Supplied)
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Best friends Ayaan Moosa and Mikaeel Ishaaq set up their homemade lemonade stand and managed to raise £140,000 for Yemen. (Supplied)
The boys also participated in Palestinian protests in central London organized by the UK-based NGO Friends of Al-Aqsa. (Supplied).
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The boys also participated in Palestinian protests in central London organized by the UK-based NGO Friends of Al-Aqsa. (Supplied).
Angelina Jolie made a very generous donation to the stand and sent the boys some presents to gain them more publicity. (Supplied)
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Angelina Jolie made a very generous donation to the stand and sent the boys some presents to gain them more publicity. (Supplied)
Best friends Ayaan Moosa and Mikaeel Ishaaq set up their homemade lemonade stand and managed to raise £140,000 for Yemen. (Twitter/@LemonAidboys)
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Best friends Ayaan Moosa and Mikaeel Ishaaq set up their homemade lemonade stand and managed to raise £140,000 for Yemen. (Twitter/@LemonAidboys)
Best friends Ayaan Moosa and Mikaeel Ishaaq set up their homemade lemonade stand and managed to raise £140,000 for Yemen. (Supplied)
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Best friends Ayaan Moosa and Mikaeel Ishaaq set up their homemade lemonade stand and managed to raise £140,000 for Yemen. (Supplied)
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Updated 11 June 2021

Seven-year-old LemonAid Boys in east London have caught the public’s imagination with their fundraising  campaigns for Yemen and Palestine

Best friends Ayaan Moosa and Mikaeel Ishaaq set up their homemade lemonade stand and managed to raise £140,000 for Yemen. (Supplied)
  • Ayaan and Mikaeel raised £140,000 for Yemen, gaining them international recognition in such a short span as their campaign went viral
  • The Yemen fundraising initiative caught the attention of award-winning actress and human rights campaigner Angelina Jolie

LONDON: Two seven-year-old boys have single-handedly managed to up the world of philanthropy and the act of giving, as they aim to raise “a quadrillion pounds for every single country” they are supporting.
Best friends Ayaan Moosa and Mikaeel Ishaaq, from Ilford in east London, set up their homemade lemonade stand to raise £500 ($700) for Yemen’s humanitarian and famine crisis and, to their surprise, managed to raise £140,000, gaining them international recognition in such a short span as their campaign went viral.
We did not expect it, but we were hoping for it, they told Arab News.
The Yemen fundraising initiative caught the attention of award-winning actress and human rights campaigner Angelina Jolie, who was trying to gain media and international attention for the plight in Yemen.




Angelina Jolie made a very generous donation to the stand and sent the boys some presents to gain them more publicity. (Twitter/@LemonAidboys)

“She (Jolie) saw the interview they gave on the BBC (website). She had been trying to raise awareness for Yemen and obviously she is considered quite a high-list celebrity, but she was struggling to get such a sad story into the news,” Ayaan’s father Shakil Moosa said.
“Not very many people wanted to cover it, even given her high profile. She saw the story and she thought, how are two seven-year-old boys able to bring that much international attention to the famine and the crisis that is going on in in Yemen, how are they able to do that?
“She has been amazing. She’s been a big inspiration, and a big support in the stuff that they are up to...and when she is in London next, we are going to try to get her to come over and meet the boys and get a glass of lemonade,” Moosa said.
Jolie made a very generous donation to the stand and sent the boys some presents to gain them more publicity. Off the back of that the boys won some big accolades. They were nominated for a gold Blue Peter Badge, the highest award given for exceptional achievement by the BBC children’s program, by the British rapper Stormzy. Following that, they won the Rotary Great Britain and Ireland Young Citizen Awards for their humanitarian causes because they raised so much money.

Stormzy sent them a recorded message saying when he was their age he wasn’t doing lemonade stands and inspiring people the way they have. “I would like to nominate you for a Gold Blue Peter Badge, you’re a pair of little legends, wear it with pride because you guys deserve it,” he said.
They have also received support from some of their favorite footballers, including Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United and David Luiz of Arsenal.
During the Muslim month of Ramadan, the boys raised £25,000 for the Rohingya by selling lemonade and with international donations via their JustGiving page.
“We squeezed the lemons, and then we made the lemonade with our special ingredients, and then we stood outside, and then we got the money, we gave it to the bank, and then the bank put into our charity,” the boys said.

Why lemonade? “Because we think everyone likes lemonade, and we like lemonade too,” they said.
While still fundraising for Yemen and the Rohingya, Ayaan and Mikaeel have also turned their attention to the Palestinian cause, following an 11-day war that rocked the Gaza Strip last month.
“People in Palestine are getting hurt and they have no more water and food and houses, because their houses are being bombed and we wanted to help them,” Ayaan said.
Mikaeel said the Palestinian issue was important to him “because people are get injured and people are dying and their houses are getting bombed and people are just breaking their houses and stealing them,” in reference to the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem where dozens of Palestinians are facing eviction from their homes by Israeli forces.
The boys also participated in Palestinian protests in central London organized by the UK-based NGO Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA).




Best friends Ayaan Moosa and Mikaeel Ishaaq set up their homemade lemonade stand and managed to raise £140,000 for Yemen. (Supplied)

“We walked five kilometers but it was really hard because our legs were really hurting,” Ayaan said, but the boys added that they would do it again.
FOA, which focuses on defending the human rights of Palestinians and protecting the sacred Al-​Aqsa mosque, organized a protest on May 15 and a larger one on May 22, in which up to 200,000 people marched past Downing Street in solidarity with the Palestinian people, calling for sanctions on Israel.
Dubbed the LemonAid Boys, they have now embarked on a partnership with FOA and are expected to do a live interview with British-Iraqi rapper Lowkey who is vocal activist on Palestinian issues.

Shamiul Joarder, from FOA, said that they have seen a clear change in the demographic of people in support of the Palestinian cause, including “young, dynamic groups of protesters” from mid-late teens to early-mid 20s, as well as young families with their children.”
Joarder was introduced to the great work the boys do when they participated in the demonstration.
“We thought this is really cool, they’ve obviously got a profile ready, they’re so young, and they already care about justice, so it kind of made sense for us to reach out and see if they wanted to do more on Palestine and raise awareness, because we were planning to do something for students.
“We are setting up an Instagram interview between the boys and Lowkey and the idea was to keep it very simple and informal, but within that, getting some basic information for young people — the bombs have stopped dropping in Gaza, does that mean everything is OK now? That obviously allows the opportunity to expand on to the occupation and the fact that it is 73 years of occupation and colonization that is still happening, and that we should still care for justice, so it opened things up having such a young dynamic duo involved,” Joarder said.

The sky is the limit for the boys and every milestone that they reach is just another tick box more than the initial £500 target. However, they are looking to diversify to strengthen their cause. They are in talks with a drinks manufacturer and have released a children’s book, with all proceeds going to charity.
“I don’t think there is anything that they could do that would make me more proud. They are helping humanity, and they have got that empathy and humility inside them to want to help others. As parents, we help to facilitate that, we help give them the platform and help them do that, but it is their own reckoning, they are the bosses,” Moosa said.
“They are just two regular seven-year-old boys, they just love what they do, and they have not let it get to their heads. They just want to continually help people and I’m extremely, extremely, extremely proud of both of them,” he added.


Fear stalks northern Afghan city as Taliban lay siege

Fear stalks northern Afghan city as Taliban lay siege
Updated 57 min 13 sec ago

Fear stalks northern Afghan city as Taliban lay siege

Fear stalks northern Afghan city as Taliban lay siege
  • The Taliban have held Kunduz twice in recent years — both times briefly — but have now captured the surrounding districts and the main border crossing with Tajikistan
  • Violence surged after the US military began the withdrawal of its last remaining 2,500 troops from the country to meet a September 11 deadline

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan: Fear stalked Kunduz Thursday as residents prepared for a lengthy siege, with government forces patrolling the streets and Taliban insurgents surrounding the northern Afghan city.
The Taliban have held the city twice in recent years — both times briefly — but have now captured the surrounding districts and the main border crossing with Tajikistan.
“The Taliban have besieged our city,” said Qudratullah, a fruit seller who has done hardly any business since fighting first erupted in Kunduz province two weeks ago.
“Even today there is sporadic fighting on the outskirts of the city,” said Qudratullah, who like many Afghans uses only one name.
“If the government does not launch an operation against the Taliban, their siege will continue for a long time.”
Most businesses in Kunduz remained shut and vehicles stayed off the roads, an AFP correspondent who toured the city reported.
Dozens of military vehicles patrolled the streets as new government forces were deployed in the city of around 300,000, swelled by an influx of rural residents fleeing fighting in the districts.
Troops were seen firing sporadically at Taliban positions, and the bodies of two insurgents lay on the ground on the eastern edge of Kunduz.
The city’s public health director told AFP that since the fighting erupted a week ago, 21 civilians have been killed and 225 wounded.
Residents said they were suffering from water and power cuts, and few shops were open.
Kunduz resident Hasib said he feared the Taliban would soon launch a major offensive on the city.
“We don’t feel safe... We have seen the Taliban capture the city twice before, and we do not want the city to fall again to them,” he said.
“The government forces should break the Taliban siege, if not the Taliban will continue their offensives... and their siege will continue forever.”
Fighting has raged across Kunduz province for days, with the Taliban and Afghan forces engaged in bloody battles.
On Tuesday the insurgents captured Shir Khan Bandar, Afghanistan’s main border crossing with Tajikistan, in one of their most significant gains in recent months.
On Thursday, Afghan authorities attempted to put on a brave front, with Interior Minister Abdul Satar Mirzakwal flying in for a brief visit.
“Saving and protecting Kunduz is among our top priorities,” he said in a video message released to reporters.
“We are taking serious measures and will provide more weapons and technical equipment to Afghan forces in all provinces.”
Since early May, the Taliban have launched several major offensives targeting government forces across the rugged countryside and say they have seized at least 87 of the country’s more than 400 districts.
Many of their claims are disputed by the government and difficult to independently verify.
Violence surged after the US military began the withdrawal of its last remaining 2,500 troops from the country to meet the September 11 deadline announced by President Joe Biden to end America’s longest war.


Poland withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, says president

Poland withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, says president
Updated 24 June 2021

Poland withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, says president

Poland withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, says president
  • Foreign troops under NATO command will withdraw from Afghanistan by September 11
  • First troops would return to Poland on Thursday night

WARSAW: Poland will withdraw its troops from Afghanistan at the end of June, President Andrzej Duda said on Thursday, bringing its two-decade presence in the country to an end.
NATO allies agreed in April that foreign troops under NATO command will withdraw from Afghanistan in coordination with a US pull-out by Sept. 11.
“At the end of June, after 20 years, we are ending our military involvement in the largest NATO operation in history,” Duda wrote on Twitter, adding that the first troops would return to Poland on Thursday night.
After withdrawing, the United States and NATO aim to rely on Afghan military and police forces, which they have developed with billions of dollars in funding, to maintain security.


UK Muslim convert reunited with ex-far-right father

A Muslim convert has reunited with her father, who shunned her for half a decade after he became involved with the far-right English Defence League (EDL), members pictured here in 2016. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
A Muslim convert has reunited with her father, who shunned her for half a decade after he became involved with the far-right English Defence League (EDL), members pictured here in 2016. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Updated 24 June 2021

UK Muslim convert reunited with ex-far-right father

A Muslim convert has reunited with her father, who shunned her for half a decade after he became involved with the far-right English Defence League (EDL), members pictured here in 2016. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
  • Faith Abbey was shunned by her dad for 5 years when he developed anti-Islam views, joined English Defence League
  • ‘It’s from my religion to be forgiving and caring and loving’

LONDON: A Muslim convert has reunited with her father, who shunned her for half a decade after he became involved with the far-right English Defence League (EDL).

Faith Abbey, 28, had been close with her father until he developed what she described as “narrow-minded and rigid views on Muslims and their presence in the UK.”

He went on to join the EDL, established in 2009 and known for its Islamophobic and anti-immigrant stances.

Its members have regularly faced criminal proceedings for violence and hate crimes against Britain’s ethnic and religious minorities.

“He was in trouble with the police for various incidents related to the EDL, and realized he’d fallen in with the wrong kind of people,” Abbey said.

“He realized that the people in life who’ve been most kind to him and generous and forgiving are actually Muslims, and they’re kind people who are full of love, not hate. He also realized a lot of what the EDL believe about Muslims isn’t actually true.”

Abbey grew up in the UK, and told Metro newspaper that she was originally a Christian before converting to Islam nine years ago.

She said reuniting with her father over lunch in London was “one of the best days of (her) life.”

She added: “It was amazing. I’ve always loved my father and wanted him to be happy. It’s from my religion to be forgiving and caring and loving … I always loved him and wished the best for him.”


Jailed British white supremacist praised Christchurch killer

Jailed British white supremacist praised Christchurch killer
Updated 24 June 2021

Jailed British white supremacist praised Christchurch killer

Jailed British white supremacist praised Christchurch killer
  • Judge: Michael Nugent had ‘knowingly encouraged right-wing terrorism’
  • He created video celebrating Christchurch mosque massacre

LONDON: A British man who was jailed after encouraging terror attacks from his parents’ house praised Brenton Tarrant, who committed mass shootings in two mosques in Christchurch in 2019.

White supremacist Michael Nugent, 38, admitted five counts of disseminating terrorist publications, and 11 of possessing information useful to a terrorist.

He organized several messaging groups on Telegram, an app popular with extremists, where people shared terrorist manifestos and explosives manuals.

The court heard how he “honored” right-wing terrorists in his messaging groups, including Tarrant and Norwegian Anders Breivik.

Michael Nugent (London Metropolitan Police)

Nugent described Tarrant’s mass murder of 51 Muslims as a “game-changer,” and created a celebration video on the one-year anniversary.

Nugent disseminated Tarrant’s manifesto, published after the massacre, which encouraged others to launch similar attacks. “I understand why Tarrant did what he did,” he wrote on Telegram.

As he was sentenced on Wednesday, Judge Peter Lodder QC told Nugent he had “knowingly encouraged right-wing terrorism.”

Jailing him for three-and-a-half years, Lodder added: “You did not work but spent all of your time at home in your parents’ house, where from your bedroom you developed your online extremist persona.

“You posted toxic, offensive material to websites and administered groups which were dedicated to violent racist, antisemitic and neo-Nazi ideology.

“Whatever your mental health at the time, no-one concludes that you weren’t aware of what you were doing.” The court was told that Nugent suffered from psychosis.

He wrote in a diary, seized by police, that he wanted to see ethnic minorities “sent home” and “sterilized.”

One section said: “We are being genocided in our own homes and our own country … Terrorism is the only way out of it.”

Nugent’s lawyer Liam Walker said the defendant “does not recognize the person he was at the time or the views he held.”

Walker said Nugent’s family had described him as a “withdrawn man, agoraphobic in his habits.”

Richard Smith, head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, said: “This is another case which shows how harmful online extremism is. That is why it is important that anyone who believes that they have a friend or loved one who they think has been radicalized, or is vulnerable, seeks help.”


Africa CDC says continent not winning against ‘brutal’ COVID-19 pandemic

Africa CDC says continent not winning against ‘brutal’ COVID-19 pandemic
Updated 24 June 2021

Africa CDC says continent not winning against ‘brutal’ COVID-19 pandemic

Africa CDC says continent not winning against ‘brutal’ COVID-19 pandemic
  • About 1.12 percent people have been fully vaccinated on a continent that has recorded 5.2 million infections

HARARE, Zimbabwe: Africa is not winning its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic as a third virus wave sweeps the continent and countries struggle to access enough vaccines for their populations, Africa CDC director John Nkenkasong said on Thursday.
The COVAX program co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO) for fair distribution of vaccines is now planning a shake-up as it has been shunned by rich countries and failing to meet the needs of the poorest, internal documents seen by Reuters show.
Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) director Nkenkasong said he was more worried about getting vaccines in time regardless of where the doses came from.
“The third wave has come with severity that most countries were not prepared for. So the third wave is extremely brutal,” Nenkasong said during a weekly online briefing.
“Let me put it bluntly, we are not winning in Africa this battle against the virus so it does not really matter to me whether the vaccines are from COVAX or anywhere. All we need is rapid access to vaccines.”
Nkenkasong said at least 20 countries were in the middle of the third wave, with Zambia, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo among those whose health facilities were being overwhelmed.
The COVAX program’s initial lofty ambitions to act as a clearing house for the world’s vaccines, collecting from the manufacturers in the most developed countries and quickly distributing to those in the most urgent need, have fallen flat.
About 1.12 percent people have been fully vaccinated on a continent that has recorded 5.2 million infections, Nkenkasong said.
More than half of poorer countries receiving doses via COVAX do not have enough supplies to continue, an official from the WHO said on Monday.