Mayoral candidate Lopez vows to reverse Chicago’s anti-Arab and anti-Muslim policies

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Updated 05 May 2022

Mayoral candidate Lopez vows to reverse Chicago’s anti-Arab and anti-Muslim policies

Mayoral candidate Lopez vows to reverse Chicago’s anti-Arab and anti-Muslim policies
  • Calls for probe into Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s closure of 150 businesses owned by the community last June under guise of curbing gang violence, causing losses of jobs and millions in income and tax revenue
  • City’s only Hispanic aspirant also plans to undo Rahm Israel Emanuel’s decision to shutter the Arabesque Festival in 2011

CHICAGO: Mayoral candidate Raymond Lopez Wednesday denounced Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s targeting of the Arab and Muslim community as “disgusting and tasteless,” and vowed to launch a probe into her actions which has cost hundreds of job losses and millions in income and tax revenue.

Lopez added that his administration would restore the community’s festivals and cultural presence in America’s second largest city.

Last June, a task force of inspectors and police forcibly closed more than 150 Arab- and Muslim-owned businesses in what critics called a misguided effort by Lightfoot to crack down on street-gang violence. Because most of the stores are open 24 hours a day, street-gang members would often run into them in the middle of the night to escape police when violence took place.

Lopez, the only Hispanic who has announced his candidacy in the February 28, 2023 Chicago election, made these comments during a live radio interview on “The Ray Hanania Show” which broadcasts live on the US Arab Radio Network and is sponsored by Arab News.

 

“I am absolutely a friend to the Arab community not just in word but in action and I will continue to be that friend,” Lopez said, adding he would work with Arab Americans to bring back the Arabesque Festival which was closed by former Mayor Rahm Israel Emanuel in 2011, and was sure Lightfoot’s discriminatory policies would also end.

“That just shows how tone deaf and clueless Lori Lightfoot is in addressing the number-one issue in the city of Chicago which is the out-of-control crime and violence that we see, and to blame the owners of gas stations and stores simply because that’s where the crime ended up at, in their parking lots or next to them in their sidewalks. That was a complete miscalculation on her part. I think personally she felt the Arab community would be an easy community to target in the Black community because she was just fueling the fires that exist with the animosity that is in some neighborhoods.”

Chicago has seen a surge in street-gang gun-related homicides during Lightfoot’s three years in office and the mayor has been unable to stop the rise.

Lopez joined Arab businesses last September to denounce the mayor’s actions, forcing her to reopen all the stores the following day after many were closed for more than three months.

“All the violations, the complaints and questions vanished overnight,” Lopez observed, after the Arab community held a press conference to expose her actions.

“We know the Arab community is just as integral as any immigrant community. This week we are celebrating the Polish community, my Mexican community … we did the Irish community in March. We are all part of the fabric. And to just pull on one thread and say they are the problem is disgusting and tasteless to say the least.”

Lopez also promised to work with the Arab and Muslim community to restore the annual Chicago Arab festival, Arabesque, which was shut down by Lightfoot’s predecessor Emanuel in one of his first official acts after becoming mayor in 2011.

Emanuel then proceeded to close the Chicago Arab Advisory Commission and excluded Arabs from his administration. Lightfoot had promised to work with Arab Americans during her campaign to succeed Emanuel, but did nothing when she was elected mayor in May 2019.

 

“We know that the Arab community and the Arab voter is oftentimes taken for granted. I for one grew up with Arabs in my neighborhood ... We came up together in high school. I am no stranger to the Arab community. And I look forward to when we can have the Arab festival again and we can celebrate, which is what I believe … is the quintessential Chicago nature, to celebrate our ethnic diversity to invite all communities to taste our food, hear our music and enjoy our good company,” Lopez said.

“And there is no reason that the Arab community can’t be the same part of that tradition as the Mexican community, the Chinese community that (have) their festivals … the Korean community and so on and so forth like so many communities throughout the city. We need to get back to celebrating our diversity because truly that is the one thing that we all have in common. We are all from everywhere. There is no reason to discriminate and pick sides. We can live under one roof and enjoy each other, and we will do that again soon.”

Lopez said “there should be a place for everyone at the city government table” and they should feel welcome as is the case now in Chicago.

 

“And the millions of dollars that you know that those closures cost not only the city of Chicago but (also) the small business owners who were impacted, and for no reason other than (to) try to find something wrong, try to find something to write a ticket on, try to find something to justify this action. Government should not be in the business of victimizing people just to create a narrative,” Lopez said.

Lopez acknowledged the closures cost the city of Chicago millions of dollars in lost tax revenues for gasoline and sales. It also resulted in the layoff of hundreds of employees who worked at the Arab-owned stores.

Hassan Nijem of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce said that many of the Arab-owned gas station owners lost on average $70,000 a month in revenues. Many of the stores were closed for two to three months and have never been reimbursed by the city for the lost income.

Lopez said he would join other aldermen including Gilbert Villegas and Silvana Tabares in conducting a public forum on Monday, May 9, at Chicago’s Islamic Community Center of Illinois to probe Lightfoot’s actions against Arab and Muslim business owners.

He also said the Chicagoland news media needs to do a better job scrutinizing Lightfoot’s actions including against minority groups like Arab Americans.

Lightfoot has declined requests for interviews from Arab News.

The Ray Hanania Radio Show is broadcast on the US Arab Radio Network and sponsored by Arab News live every Wednesday at 5 p.m. EST in Detroit on WNZK AM 690, in Washington D.C. on WDMV AM 700. It is rebroadcast on Thursdays at 12 noon in Chicago on WNWI AM 1080.

For the podcast and more information on the radio show visit: ArabNews.com/rayradioshow.

Listen to the Ray Hanania podcast here.


Putin makes Chechnya’s Kadyrov an army general

Putin makes Chechnya’s Kadyrov an army general
Updated 58 min 31 sec ago

Putin makes Chechnya’s Kadyrov an army general

Putin makes Chechnya’s Kadyrov an army general
  • Kadyrov said Putin had "personally" informed him of the decision
  • "The President of Russia awarded me the rank of colonel general," Kadyrov said on Telegram

MOSCOW: Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, said Wednesday he was granted a top rank in Russia’s army, just as Moscow’s forces suffer a series of defeats in Ukraine.
The 46-year-old Chechen leader — one of the most outspoken voices in Russia backing Putin’s Ukraine offensive — said it was a “huge honor” for him.
Kadyrov, a former warlord who rules Chechnya with widespread violations of human rights, said Putin had “personally” informed him of the decision.
“The President of Russia awarded me the rank of colonel general,” Kadyrov said on Telegram. “This is a promotion for me.”
The rank of colonel general is the third highest command rank in the Russian military hierarchy.
Kadyrov’s appointment to the rank came as the Ukrainian army pushed back Moscow’s forces in areas that the Kremlin proclaimed to be “Russian forever.”
The Chechen leader said he would do “everything to end the special military operation quickly” — using the Kremlin’s term for its Ukraine campaign.
Chechen units — including Kadyrov’s own militia with a sinister reputation, the “Kadyrovtsi” — are fighting alongside regular Russian forces in Ukraine.
Kadyrov has thrown his full backing behind Putin’s campaign, regularly calling for the most drastic tactics to be used in Ukraine.
This week he called on Moscow to use low-yield nuclear weapons in Ukraine after Russian troops were forced to retreat from the town of Lyman.
He then said he was sending three of his teenage sons — aged 14,15 and 16 — to the front.


Philippines’ Marcos Jr. open to buying Russian fuel, proposes new Myanmar approach

Philippines’ Marcos Jr. open to buying Russian fuel, proposes new Myanmar approach
Updated 05 October 2022

Philippines’ Marcos Jr. open to buying Russian fuel, proposes new Myanmar approach

Philippines’ Marcos Jr. open to buying Russian fuel, proposes new Myanmar approach
  • The Philippines, a US defense ally, has not imposed any sanctions on Russia
  • Myanmar’s ruling junta has been barred from regional summits

MANILA: Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday said his nation may need to turn to Russia to fulfil its fuel needs amid rising global energy prices, bucking pressure from Western allies for countries to shun Moscow.
Speaking to the Manila Overseas Press Club, Marcos, who is also agriculture minister, said the Philippines may also deal with Russia for supply of fertilizer.
“We take we take a very balanced view because the truth of the matter is, we may have to deal with Russia for fuel, for fertilizer,” said Marcos.
The Philippines like many countries is grappling with soaring inflation, due to supply woes fanned by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Philippines, a US defense ally, has not imposed any sanctions on Russia.
Marcos, the son and namesake of the ousted late strongman who ruled the Philippines for two decades, also said he wanted his country to play a key role in promoting regional peace, amid challenges posed by North Korea and China-Taiwan tensions.
“We hope to be part of leading, the ones that are leading the effort for peace,” he said.
He said he would propose a new approach to the crisis in Myanmar at an upcoming meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in November, which could involved engaging the military government directly.
Myanmar’s ruling junta has been barred from regional summits over its failure to implement a five-point peace plan it agreed with ASEAN in April last year, after violent turmoil erupted in the country following a military coup.
The generals have been outraged by ASEAN’s unusually tough stand and have said they intend to comply with its plan, but will not agree to its call to hold dialogue with a pro-democracy resistance movement they call “terrorists.” “It’s time to put together, to put forward some concrete proposals on what we can do to at the very least to bring at least representatives of the military government to the table so we can begin to talk about these things,” Marcos said.
On Wednesday, Cambodia, the current ASEAN chair, confirmed that a request had been sent to the State Administrative Council, as the junta is known, that it nominate a non-political figure to represent Myanmar at the upcoming leaders’ summits. “Again, the SAC has refused to send anyone to the summits,” Cambodia Foreign spokesperson Chum Sounry said.


Blast hits Kabul mosque in vicinity of interior ministry, kills 2

Blast hits Kabul mosque in vicinity of interior ministry, kills 2
Updated 05 October 2022

Blast hits Kabul mosque in vicinity of interior ministry, kills 2

Blast hits Kabul mosque in vicinity of interior ministry, kills 2

KABUL: A blast hit a mosque in Afghanistan’s capital in the vicinity of the heavily fortified interior ministry compound on Wednesday, officials said, killing at least two people and wounding 18, according to medics.
The government did not immediately say what caused the explosion in Kabul, where militants have carried out a number of attacks in recent months.
“The mosque was used by visitors and sometimes by interior ministry employees,” interior ministry spokesman Abdul Nafi Takor said.
Italian NGO aid group Emergency, which runs a hospital in Kabul, said on Twitter it received 20 patients from the blast, two of whom were dead on arrival.
The interior ministry compound is in a secure area next to Kabul international airport.
The ruling Taliban have said they have secured the country since taking over in 2021. But though widespread fighting has ended, a series of blasts have hit urban centers in recent months.
An explosion at an education center in West Kabul on Friday killed 53 people, most of them young women, according to the United Nations’ Mission to Afghanistan. 


Liz Truss pledges to steer Britain through ‘stormy days’

Liz Truss pledges to steer Britain through ‘stormy days’
Updated 05 October 2022

Liz Truss pledges to steer Britain through ‘stormy days’

Liz Truss pledges to steer Britain through ‘stormy days’
  • Truss: Conservatives must unite to kick-start stagnant growth and tackle the many problems facing Britain

BIRMINGHAM: British Prime Minister Liz Truss on Wednesday urged her fractious party to stick together and help transform the economy and the country, fighting to restore her dwindling authority after a chaotic first month in office.
Addressing Conservative lawmakers and members at an annual conference overshadowed by internal bickering and confusion over policy, Truss said the party needed to unite to kick-start stagnant growth and tackle the many problems facing Britain.
So far, however, her misfiring attempt to cut $51 billion (£45 billion) of taxes and hike government borrowing has sent turmoil through markets and her party, with opinion polls pointing to electoral collapse rather than a honeymoon period for the new leader.
“We gather at a vital time for the United Kingdom. These are stormy days,” she said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic, war in Ukraine and the death of Britain’s longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth.
“In these tough times, we need to step up. I’m determined to get Britain moving, to get us through the tempest and to put us on a stronger footing.”
As she started to speak, two protesters held up a sign asking “Who voted for this?” before they were escorted away by security personnel as the crowd chanted “out, out, out.”
Truss, elected by party members and not the broader electorate, was addressing the party faithful after she was forced to reverse plans to scrap the top rate of tax. She acknowledged that change brings “disruption.”
That U-turn has emboldened sections of her party who are now likely to resist spending cuts as the government seeks ways to fund the overall fiscal program.
That risks not only the dilution of her “radical” agenda but also raising the prospect of an early election.
Having entered the conference hall to a standing ovation and the sound of M People’s “Moving On UP,” Truss told party members and lawmakers that she wanted to build a “new Britain for the new era.”
“For too long, the political debate has been dominated by how we distribute a limited economic pie. Instead, we need to grow the pie so that everyone gets a bigger slice,” she said in the central English city of Birmingham.
“That is why I am determined to take a new approach and break us out of this high-tax, low-growth cycle.”
The conference, once expected to be her crowning glory after being appointed prime minister on Sept. 6, has turned into a personal nightmare, and a battle for the country’s political future.
As the debate moved on from tax cuts to how the government would fund them, lawmakers and ministers openly clashed, in stark contrast to the sense of discipline on display at the opposition Labour Party conference last week.
Some lawmakers fear Truss will break a commitment to increase benefit payments in line with inflation, something they argue would be inappropriate at a time when millions of families are struggling with the cost of soaring prices.
Ministers say they are yet to take a decision and are obliged to look at economic data later this month.
While markets have largely stabilized after the Bank of England stepped in to shore up the bond market — albeit after the cost of borrowing surged — opinion polls now point to an electoral collapse for the Conservatives.
John Curtice, Britain’s best-known pollster, said before the speech that Labour now held an average lead of 25 percentage points and the Conservatives needed to accept they were “in deep, deep electoral trouble.”


Russia: Moscow should be part of Nord Stream leaks probe

Russia: Moscow should be part of Nord Stream leaks probe
Updated 05 October 2022

Russia: Moscow should be part of Nord Stream leaks probe

Russia: Moscow should be part of Nord Stream leaks probe
  • Four leaks were discovered last week on the Nord Stream pipelines connecting Russia to Germany
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of being behind the blasts

MOSCOW: Moscow said Wednesday it should be part of the probe into leaks on the Nord Stream gas pipelines, after Sweden blocked off the area around the pipelines pending an investigation.
“There should really be an investigation. Naturally, with the participation of Russia,” Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Vershinin said, as quoted by Russian news agencies.
Four leaks were discovered last week on the Nord Stream pipelines connecting Russia to Germany, raising political tensions already sky high since the Kremlin sent troop to Ukraine in February.
On Friday, the UN Security Council held a meeting on the issue.
Vershinin told the assembly that “the general opinion was that this was sabotage and that it should be investigated” but that “no decision had been made” on an international probe.
Last Wednesday, Russia launched an “international terrorism” investigation.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said such a probe “required the cooperation of several countries.”
He denounced an “acute shortage of communications and unwillingness of many countries to contact” Russia.
On Monday, Sweden blocked off the area around the pipeline leaks in the Baltic Sea while the suspected sabotage was being investigated.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of being behind the blasts.
Russia’s Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev said Wednesday that “it is clear that the United States is the beneficiary, primarily economic” of the leaks.
Both Moscow and Washington have denied involvement.