UK lawmaker says she was sacked from ministerial job for her ‘Muslimness’

UK lawmaker says she was sacked from ministerial job for her ‘Muslimness’
MP Nusrat Ghani speaks during a session in Parliament in London, Britain May 12, 2021.
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Updated 23 January 2022

UK lawmaker says she was sacked from ministerial job for her ‘Muslimness’

UK lawmaker says she was sacked from ministerial job for her ‘Muslimness’
  • The scandals have drained public support from both Johnson personally and his party, presenting him with the most serious crisis of his premiership.

LONDON: A British lawmaker has said she was fired from a ministerial job in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government partly because her Muslim faith was making colleagues uncomfortable, the Sunday Times reported.
Nusrat Ghani, 49, who lost her job as a junior transport minister in February 2020, told the paper she was told by a “whip” — an enforcer of parliamentary discipline — that her “Muslimness” had been raised as an issue in her sacking.
There was no immediate response to her comments from Johnson’s Downing Street office, but Mark Spencer, the government’s chief whip, said he was the person at the center of Ghani’s allegations.
“These accusations are completely false and I consider them to be defamatory,” he said on Twitter. “I have never used those words attributed to me.”
Ghani’s remarks come after one of her Conservative colleagues said he would meet police to discuss accusations that government whips had attempted to “blackmail” lawmakers suspected of trying to force Johnson from office over public anger about parties held at his Downing Street office during COVID lockdowns.
The scandals have drained public support from both Johnson personally and his party, presenting him with the most serious crisis of his premiership.
“I was told that at the reshuffle meeting in Downing Street that ‘Muslimness’ was raised as an ‘issue’, that my ‘Muslim women minister’ status was making colleagues uncomfortable,” the paper quoted Ghani, Britain’s first female Muslim minister, as saying.
“I will not pretend that this hasn’t shaken my faith in the party and I have at times seriously considered whether to continue as an MP (member of parliament).”
In his response, Spencer said Ghani had declined to put the matter to a formal internal investigation when she first raised the issue last March.
The Conservative Party has previously faced accusations of Islamophobia, and a report in May last year criticized it over how it dealt with complaints of discrimination against Muslims.
The report also led Johnson to issue a qualified apology for any offense caused by his past remarks about Islam, including a newspaper column in which he referred to women wearing burqas as “going around looking like letterboxes.”
The main opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer said the Conservatives must investigate Ghani’s account immediately.
“This is shocking to read,” he said on Twitter.
Ghani’s comments about the whips’ behavior also echo allegations from another senior Conservative William Wragg, that some of his colleagues had faced intimidation and blackmail because of their desire to topple Johnson.
“Nus is very brave to speak out. I was truly appalled to learn of her experience,” Wragg said on Twitter on Saturday. He has told the Daily Telegraph newspaper that he would meet the police early next week to discuss his allegations.
Johnson has said he had neither seen nor heard any evidence to support Wragg’s claims. His office has said it would look at any such evidence “very carefully.”
“As with any such allegations, should a criminal offense be reported to the Met, it would be considered,” said a spokesperson for London’s Metropolitan Police.
Johnson, who in 2019 won his party’s biggest majority in more than 30 years, is fighting to shore up his authority after the “partygate” scandals, which followed criticism of the government’s handling of a corruption row and other mis-steps.
Johnson, who has repeatedly apologized for the parties and said he was unaware of many of them, has admitted he attended what he said he thought was a work event on May 20 last year, when social mixing was largely banned. Invitations had asked staff to “bring their own booze” to the event.
Senior civil servant Sue Gray is expected to deliver a report into the parties next week, with many Conservative lawmakers saying they would await her findings before deciding whether they would take action to topple Johnson.
The Sunday Times also reported that Gray was looking into whether any rule-breaking parties had been held in Johnson’s private apartment at Downing Street.


Israel has never been held to account for its attack on USS Liberty 55 years ago, US vets say

Israel has never been held to account for its attack on USS Liberty 55 years ago, US vets say
Updated 10 sec ago

Israel has never been held to account for its attack on USS Liberty 55 years ago, US vets say

Israel has never been held to account for its attack on USS Liberty 55 years ago, US vets say
  • Survivors of USS Liberty attack demand Congressional hearing to investigate Israel’s killing of 34 Americans during the assault
  • Congress and US government are more concerned about protecting Israel than honoring the 34 servicemen killed and 173 wounded in the 1967 attack, survivors tell Arab News

CHICAGO: US military veteran survivors of the June 8, 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty communications ship said on Wednesday that they were betrayed and “stabbed in their spine” by US government efforts to protect Israel and suppress details of the unprovoked assault.

Five survivors from the USS Liberty told Arab News that after the nearly two-hour long assault by Israel they were “threatened with imprisonment” if they spoke publicly about the attack, which took the lives of 34 American servicemen and injured 173.

The survivors, all decorated American veterans and now in their seventies, demanded that Congress allow them to testify at a public hearing on what they saw, saying Israel lied when it claimed its assault fighter jets, torpedo boats and attack helicopters did not recognize the Liberty as an American ship even though it was flying the US flag.

Former Liberty naval officer, Larry Bowen, said that the American public “deserves to know the truth” about what happened, not from the bureaucrats or the pro-Israel propagandists who have vilified the survivors and called them “anti-Semitic,” but from the American veterans who survived the Israeli assault.

 

 

“What we are all seeking from our government, and that is the truth. They have been covering it up for the past 55 years and there has been evidence come out over the years to prove that no way was it a mistaken identity. So, for me, I would like to see a full Congressional investigation calling on us Liberty veterans to provide testimony so they can get the truth,” said Bowen, president of the USS Liberty Veterans Association. “The Sixth Fleet didn’t come to the aid of the severely damaged Liberty until the next day,” he said.

“After the Sixth Fleet came to our aid the following day, we had an admiral come on board, Admiral Kid, and tell us we were never to talk about it with anyone. He threatened us with fines and imprisonment, or worse, if we did. And that was the story all the way along. Even when I came off the ship, I was flown to Norfolk Virginia for my next assignment and I had a lieutenant commander tell me the same thing, we were not talk to the news press. We were not to talk to our families, friends, relatives. We weren’t to say anything at all about the incident or we would be fined or imprisoned.”


Bowen received a Purple Heart for injuries suffered during the attack, and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal for his sustained exceptional performance at the time. 

The survivors said that Israel’s attack was “brutal and unrelenting.” Israeli fighter jets dropped napalm on the bridge of the ship, and shot life rafts American sailors were trying to use to save wounded shipmates. The ship had 850 cannon rocket holes and was strafed by more than 5,000 armor-piercing bullets.

The attack began at about 2 p.m. off the coast of Egypt in the Mediterranean Sea. It continued for nearly two hours. 

Mickey LeMay, 73, who was a second-class electrician in charge of the electrical department on the Liberty, said that US forces did not come to their rescue until early the next afternoon. They accused the US Navy and Israel of wanting the ship and the evidence of the attack to sink to the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. The US was embarrassed and Israel wanted the attack covered up.

 

 

“We didn’t get any help from the United States until about 9 or 10 o’clock the next morning. The Russians came alongside and offered us help but nothing from the United States. They wanted us to sink. The American politicians wanted the Liberty sunk. They didn’t even send help from a doctor,” said LeMay, who still has 52 pieces of shrapnel in his body from the attack.

“Except for the Russians. They offered to stand by, and if we sunk they were going to pull the survivors out of the water.”

LeMay said he was ordered by senior officers not to speak about the incident to anyone.

Don Pageler, 76, a communications technician seriously wounded during the Israeli attack, was awarded the Presidential UNIT Citation, Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medals and National Defense Medal. He was shocked that no one came to their aid.

“The Navy did try to send us help. Captain Tully, captain of the Saragtoga, said that he had 16 planes, including 12 to 14 fighter bombers, to come to our aid within 15 minutes of giving our distress call but before they were out of sight (of the Saratoga) they were recalled,” Pageler said.

Phil Tourney, who received the Bronze Star for heroism for rescuing wounded shipmates, said that the award he received mentioned the injuries “but not the state that directed the attack, Israel.” The US Government did everything possible to save Israel from blame.

 

 

Asked if the US government was built on coverups or built on the constitution, Tourney said: “It’s worse than that. They didn’t just throw us under the bus. Israel and our own government put a knife in our spine. And to all Americans, just not us, but to all Americans, they put a knife in all of your spine by what they got away with. They care less about what happened to the USS Liberty. But we are not going to stop. We are still living. Look at these guys out here. We are old men. Well, these guys are. We are not giving up. We are here for a reason. Our dead shipmates didn’t have a chance to talk but we are talking for them and we will never forget them.”

The survivors said that despite Israel’s claims, the Liberty was flying a 5 x 8 foot American flag and that the Liberty had “all the markings” of an American vessel.

Bowen said that Liberty communications intercepted reports from the Israeli attackers saying that the ship was American, but they were told to continue the assault.

“The attack was intentional. They knew well in advance that we were the USS Liberty,” Bowen said. “There were at least a half dozen overflights early in the morning by the Israelis. It was a deliberate attack. They knew who we were.”

He said there is a conspiracy to cover up what Israel knew and why they attacked, adding that there never was a full or impartial investigation by Congress. The Navy conducted a quick court of inquiry and only interviewed 14 crew members. Anyone who criticized Israel in their testimony, he said, had their testimony redacted to remove criticism that pointed a finger at Israel.

“I think it is important for our American public to realize that Israel has a hold on our government. There is something that Israel is aware of to make it impossible for our congressmen to speak out against them (Israel),” Bowman said.

“We have tried over the past 55 years to go in and talk to various senators and congressmen about getting an investigation. And each time, if they are being honest, they will tell you that AIPAC gets more play than the USS Liberty will ever get because they fund a lot of the congressmen and senators and they will not bite the hand that feeds them. We as a country can’t allow a country like Israel to dictate what we can or can’t do.”

The USS Liberty Veterans Association completed its own report in 2000, which was presented to the US military for review with the request that Israel be charged with war crimes.

“They owe the families, the survivors, and most of all America, an apology. It was treason on the high seas by our own president Lyndon Baines Johnson. If the ship (Liberty) went down they were going to blame it on the Arab countries,” Ron Kukal said.

“We need accountability and transparency now that we haven’t gotten for the past 55 years.”

That request was summarily dismissed.

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Putin won’t be allowed to dictate peace: Scholz

Putin won’t be allowed to dictate peace: Scholz
Vladimir Putin will not be allowed to dictate peace in Ukraine, Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz said. (AP)
Updated 26 May 2022

Putin won’t be allowed to dictate peace: Scholz

Putin won’t be allowed to dictate peace: Scholz
  • Vladimir Putin will not be allowed to dictate peace in Ukraine, Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz said

DAVOS: Vladimir Putin will not be allowed to dictate peace in Ukraine, Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Thursday, vowing to continue backing Kyiv to push the Russian president to negotiate seriously to end his invasion.
“It is a matter of making it clear to Putin that there will be no dictated peace,” said Scholz. “Ukraine will not accept that and neither will we.”


Firefighters contain blaze at Sudan Red Sea port

Firefighters contain blaze at Sudan Red Sea port
Updated 26 May 2022

Firefighters contain blaze at Sudan Red Sea port

Firefighters contain blaze at Sudan Red Sea port
  • The fire, which raged for hours, broke out in the cargo drop off area of the port

Khartoum: Firefighters have contained a large blaze that erupted in a cargo area of the Sudanese Red Sea port of Suakin, the port’s director said Thursday.
The fire, which raged for hours, broke out in the cargo drop off area of the port on Wednesday sending plumes of acrid smoke into the sky.
It was not immediately clear what caused the blaze.
“The fire has been brought under control following the intervention of civil defense forces and port workers,” port director Taha Ahmed Mokhtar said.
He said an investigation had been launched to determine the cause of the fire, and a commission set up to assess the scale of the losses.
A port official, who spoke on condition of annonymity, had earlier described the damage as “catastrophic.”
The blaze at the port came as Sudan is gripped by a chronic economic crisis which deepened after last year’s military coup led by army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan.
The military takeover triggered punitive measures, including aid cuts by Western governments, who demanded the restoration of the transitional administration installed after the 2019 ouster of longtime president Omar Al-Bashir.
The historic port town of Suakin is no longer Sudan’s main foreign trade hub, a role which has been taken by Port Sudan, some 60 kilometers (40 miles) away along the Red Sea coast.
But there have been moves to redevelop the port.
Bashir’s government signed a deal with Turkey in 2017 to restore the historic buildings of Suakin island and expand its docks, but the agreement has been suspended since his overthrow.


8,000 Ukrainian prisoners of war held in Luhansk, Donetsk: Separatists’ official

8,000 Ukrainian prisoners of war held in Luhansk, Donetsk: Separatists’ official
Ukrainian prisoners of war held in Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics number about 8,000. (File/AFP)
Updated 26 May 2022

8,000 Ukrainian prisoners of war held in Luhansk, Donetsk: Separatists’ official

8,000 Ukrainian prisoners of war held in Luhansk, Donetsk: Separatists’ official
  • Ukrainian prisoners of war held in the Russian-backed self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics number about 8,000

Ukrainian prisoners of war held in the Russian-backed self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics number about 8,000, Luhansk official Rodion Miroshnik was quoted by TASS news agency as saying on Thursday.
“There are a lot of prisoners. Of course, there are more of them on the territory of Donetsk People’s Republic, but we also have enough, and now the total number is somewhere in the region of 8,000. That’s a lot, and literally hundreds are being added every day,” Miroshnik said.
Reuters was not able to verify the report.


11 babies killed in Senegal hospital fire

11 babies killed in Senegal hospital fire
Updated 26 May 2022

11 babies killed in Senegal hospital fire

11 babies killed in Senegal hospital fire
  • The tragedy in Tivaouane comes after several other incidents at public health facilities in Senegal
  • In the northern town of Linguere in late April, a fire broke out at a hospital and four newborn babies were killed

DAKAR: Eleven newborn babies died in a hospital fire in the western Senegalese city of Tivaouane, the president of the country said late Wednesday.
Just before midnight in Senegal, Macky Sall announced on Twitter that 11 infants had died in the blaze.
“I have just learned with pain and dismay about the deaths of 11 newborn babies in the fire at the neonatal department of the public hospital,” he tweeted.
“To their mothers and their families, I express my deepest sympathy,” Sall added.
The tragedy occurred at Mame Abdou Aziz Sy Dabakh Hospital in the transport hub of Tivaouane, and was caused by “a short circuit,” according to Senegalese politician Diop Sy.
“The fire spread very quickly,” he said.
The city’s mayor Demba Diop said “three babies were saved.”
According to local media, the Mame Abdou Aziz Sy Dabakh Hospital was newly inaugurated.
Health minister Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr, who was in Geneva attending a meeting with the World Health Organization, said he would return to Senegal immediately.
“This situation is very unfortunate and extremely painful,” he said on radio. “An investigation is under way to see what happened.”
The tragedy in Tivaouane comes after several other incidents at public health facilities in Senegal, where there is great disparity between urban and rural areas in health care services.
In the northern town of Linguere in late April, a fire broke out at a hospital and four newborn babies were killed. The mayor of that town had cited an electrical malfunction in an air conditioning unit in the maternity ward.
Wednesday’s accident also comes over a month after the nation mourned the death of a pregnant woman who waited in vain for a Caesarean section.
The woman, named Astou Sokhna, had arrived at a hospital in the northern city of Louga in pain. The staff had refused to accommodate her request for a C-section, saying that it was not scheduled.
She died April 1, 20 hours after she arrived.
Sokhna’s death caused a wave of outrage across the country on the dire state of Senegal’s public health system, and health minister Sarr acknowledged two weeks later that the death could have been avoided.
Three midwives — on duty the night Sokhna died — were sentenced on May 11 by the High Court of Louga to six months of suspended imprisonment for “failure to assist a person in danger” in connection to her case.
Amnesty International’s Senegal director Seydi Gassama said his organization had called for an inspection and upgrade for neonatology services in hospitals across Senegal after the “atrocious” death of the four babies in Linguere.
With Wednesday’s fresh tragedy, Amnesty “urges the government to set up an independent commission of inquiry to determine responsibility and punish the culprits, no matter the level they are at in the state apparatus,” he tweeted.
Opposition lawmaker Mamadou Lamine Diallo also responded with outrage to the Tivaouane blaze that killed the babies.
“More babies burned in a public hospital... this is unacceptable @MackySall,” he said.
“We suffer with the families to whom we offer our condolences. Enough is enough.”