Leading Chicago mayoral candidates vow to defend rights of Arab, Muslim citizens

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Updated 08 September 2022

Leading Chicago mayoral candidates vow to defend rights of Arab, Muslim citizens

Leading Chicago mayoral candidates vow to defend rights of Arab, Muslim citizens
  • Raymond Lopez, Willie Wilson slam ‘divisive’ Mayor Lori Lightfoot
  • ‘Jobs, public safety, education, inclusive policies are key’

CHICAGO: Arab and Muslim Americans have been the victims of “bad policies” by Chicago’s mayors over recent years but two of the leading candidates running in the Feb. 28, 2023, election vow to change that if they win.

Alderman Raymond Lopez and Dr. Willie Wilson told Arab News in separate interviews that incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot has disrespected Arab and Muslim Americans. They said she has failed the people of the city on major policies including public safety, rebuilding the economy and bringing people together.

Lopez said that whoever becomes mayor of America’s third largest city, “must fight for everyone’s dream.” They also blasted Lightfoot’s predecessor, Rahm Emanuel, who was named last year by President Joe Biden as the US ambassador to Japan.

 

“I believe that we must fight for everyone’s opportunity to access that dream because people are here in this country for a reason. Whether they came from the Middle East, or Central America, or Eastern Europe or Asia, everyone came to this country for a reason and they all came here for the same shot that I have enjoyed in my three generations here in this country and that so many others do as well,” Lopez said.

“That is why I fight for communities that are oftentimes picked on or targeted by bad policies. As we saw and you alluded to earlier with Lori Lightfoot last year targeting several dozen Arab-owned businesses simply because they were Arab-owned, for no other purpose other than that. So to lay violence at their feet and not the perpetrators of the violence in the communities that those store owners were trying to serve, that doesn’t make sense to me. 

“And as a leader, as an alderman and as a mayor, we will make sure that this city is truly inclusive and welcoming to everyone and recognize the need to spread the wealth to everyone among all people including to our Arab and Muslim brothers and sisters.”

Elected to the Chicago City Council in 2015 and reelected in 2019, Lopez represents Chicago’s 15th Ward and was among the first to stand up with Arab American businesses when they were being shuttered by Lightfoot in a campaign to confront rising street gang and gun violence that was sweeping the city.

Inspectors for Lightfoot closed dozens of Arab and Muslim stores beginning in June 2021 implying they were responsible for rising violence that has taken the lives of hundreds of city residents.

Data shows 448 people have been killed and 2,352 injured by gun violence in Chicago during the first eight months of 2022.

Lopez acknowledged Arabs and Muslims were “easy targets” to be exploited and blamed by politicians like Lightfoot who want to shift the responsibility for the continued violence rather than pursuing effective policies. He noted the business owners were punished even though they all cooperated with the police to help them pursue the crime suspects, none of whom were Arab or Muslim.

 

“(If elected) as mayor of this great city, I (will) know (and take into account) that this city is a collection of ethnic neighborhoods and communities. But when Chicago was at its best, is when all of those ethnic communities were engaged and connected to the fifth floor of City Hall, the mayor’s office,” Lopez said, noting he has been accessible to every ethnic and racial group including Arabs and Muslims. That is in contrast to Lightfoot who, in celebrating her one-year anniversary in office last year, refused to grant interviews to White reporters. (Arabs are included in the US Census category as “White” and were denied interview requests, including this reporter.)

“All I can say is this, that when I am mayor, the Arab community will have no greater friend than they have had in the last 20 years. It won’t just be a matter of having one or two individuals stand with me in a photo-op once a year and say ‘look how close we are.’ There will be members of my cabinet who are Arab American and Muslim. There will be members of my administration who will ensure that we are representative and reflective of the Arab and Muslim communities. And I will make sure that our ethnic councils and programs incorporate the Arab American and Muslim traditions that have gone on under the radar without any support from City Hall.”

Lopez said he will reinstate the Arabesque Festival that was cancelled by former mayor Emanuel weeks after he was sworn into office in 2011.

Wilson agreed with Lopez that supporting Arab Americans and Muslims was critical to making Chicago a “better city.”

 

“I say about Arab Americans and Muslim Americans that, first of all, we have to make sure that they are a part of your administration. You have got to have someone who understands and speak(s) the language and (be) part of the administration that you have in order that you can get things done. You must create equal opportunity and equality for all citizens regardless of what your nationality happens to be,” said Wilson, a wealthy Chicago businessman who has generously provided support to people in need by distributing gas cards, groceries and COVID-19 protective gear such as facemasks.

“We all are brothers and sisters. We all are the same. But we need to be treated the same. In no way in the world I would close down the Muslim businesses or anybody else’s business because you don’t like them ... You are hurting the city. You are hurting the neighborhood. You are hurting everybody. 

“What I would do is I will make sure that in my administration will include someone who can represent the Arab or Muslim community to give me feedback on what some of the issues are there ... It wouldn’t be just a token position. It would be a paid position. A real position. It will be a respectful position. It would have input, and somebody who is a part of my administration. It would be someone that is genuine in fixing the problems and bringing us all together. The Arab and Muslim community made a lot of contributions to Chicago. And they should not be left out and they will not be left out.”

Lopez and Wilson also both agreed that stemming the violence and strengthening public safety in Chicago were top priorities. They said that criminals must be held accountable, and that the city must support police and first responders. They said that the city needs to create jobs, provide business support to attack “the root” of the crime problem, and support and improve education.

Lopez and Wilson appeared on The Ray Hanania Radio Show Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, which is broadcast live on the US Arab Radio Network in Detroit and Washington D.C., and rebroadcast in Chicago on Thursdays at 12 noon on 1080 AM radio.

You can listen to the radio show’s podcast by visiting ArabNews.com/rayradioshow.


Australian parliament censures former PM Morrison over secret ministries

Australian parliament censures former PM Morrison over secret ministries
Updated 12 sec ago

Australian parliament censures former PM Morrison over secret ministries

Australian parliament censures former PM Morrison over secret ministries
  • It marks the first time a former prime minister has been censured by parliament, though the motion is symbolic in nature

SYDNEY: Australia’s parliament on Wednesday voted to censure former Liberal prime minister Scott Morrison after an inquiry found his secret appointment to multiple ministries during the COVID-19 pandemic undermined trust in government.
Morrison, who lost power in a general election in May, secretly accumulated five ministerial roles during the pandemic: health, finance, treasury, resources and home affairs.
The historic motion, brought by the ruling Labor party, passed by 86 votes to 50 in the country’s lower house.
It marks the first time a former prime minister has been censured by parliament, though the motion is symbolic in nature.
“The fact is, that our democracy is precious,” Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said during the debate, speaking in favor of censuring Morrison.
“There’s no room for complacency.”
Morrison has said his decisions were lawful, and that the decision was necessary in case ministers became incapacitated during the pandemic.
“For those who wish to add their judgment today on my actions in supporting this censure motion, I simply suggest that they stop and consider the following: have you ever had to deal with a crisis where the outlook was completely unknown?,” Morrison said in parliament before the vote on Wednesday.
“In such circumstances, were you able to get all the decisions perfectly right?“
Morrison said he had only used the powers on one occasion, to block BPH Energy’s PEP-11 gas exploration project.
He accepted the recommendations of an inquiry into the appointment, including legislation requiring public notice of ministerial appointments.


Trump ‘unlikely’ to be president after hosting Fuentes, top Republican McConnell suggests

Trump ‘unlikely’ to be president after hosting Fuentes, top Republican McConnell suggests
Updated 30 November 2022

Trump ‘unlikely’ to be president after hosting Fuentes, top Republican McConnell suggests

Trump ‘unlikely’ to be president after hosting Fuentes, top Republican McConnell suggests
  • 'There is no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy, and anyone meeting with people advocating that point of view, in my judgment, are highly unlikely to ever be elected president of the US,” McConnell told reporters

WASHINGTON: The top two Republicans in the US Congress broke their silence on Tuesday about former President Donald Trump’s dinner last week with white supremacist Nick Fuentes, saying the Republican Party has no place for antisemitism or white supremacy.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Representative Kevin McCarthy, who may become speaker of the US House of Representatives when Republicans take control in January, had not commented previously on the Nov. 22 meeting.
Trump began his 2024 bid for the White House on Nov. 15, and is Republican voters’ top choice, according to opinion polls.
“There is no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy, and anyone meeting with people advocating that point of view, in my judgment, are highly unlikely to ever be elected president of the United States,” McConnell told reporters without mentioning Trump by name.
“That would apply to all of the leaders in the party who will be seeking offices,” McConnell added, when asked if he would support Trump should he become the party’s 2024 presidential nominee.
McCarthy was pressed for his thoughts on the Trump dinner by reporters at the White House, after talks with President Joe Biden.
“I don’t think anybody should be spending any time with Nick Fuentes,” said McCarthy, currently the House minority leader. “His views are nowhere within the Republican Party or within this country itself.”
Trump has said the encounter at his Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, was inadvertent, but the meeting has drawn rare criticism from fellow Republicans, some of whom accused Trump of empowering extremism.
Tuesday’s comments were the first by McCarthy and McConnell to address the Trump dinner.
Fuentes has been described as a white supremacist by the US Justice Department. The Anti-Defamation League said Fuentes once “’jokingly denied the Holocaust and compared Jews burnt in concentration camps to cookies in an oven.’“
While president, Trump was broadly criticized for not explicitly condemning white nationalists whose August 2017 rally on a college campus in Charlottesville, Virginia, was seen as having provoked violence with counter-protesters, one of whom was killed.
“You also had people that were very fine people on both sides,” Trump said at the time.
PENCE CALLS FOR APOLOGY
Trump’s former Vice President Mike Pence on Monday called for an apology from Trump for the meeting with Fuentes.
“President Trump was wrong to give a white nationalist, an antisemite and a Holocaust denier a seat at the table, and I think he should apologize,” Pence said in a televised interview with NewsNation.
McCarthy mentioned that Trump said he didn’t know who Fuentes was.
“I condemn his ideology. It has no place in society,” he said of Fuentes.
Fuentes attended the dinner with Ye, the musician formerly known as Kanye West, who has also drawn widespread criticism for antisemitic comments.
“The president will have meetings with who he wants. I don’t think anybody, though, should have a meeting with Nick Fuentes, and his views should come nowhere within the Republican Party or the country itself,” McCarthy said.

 


NATO pledges more aid to Kyiv as air raid sirens blare again across Ukraine

NATO pledges more aid to Kyiv as air raid sirens blare again across Ukraine
Updated 30 November 2022

NATO pledges more aid to Kyiv as air raid sirens blare again across Ukraine

NATO pledges more aid to Kyiv as air raid sirens blare again across Ukraine
  • NATO against providing Ukraine with Patriots and denounced the Atlantic alliance as a “criminal entity” for delivering arms to what he called “Ukrainian fanatics”

KYIV: NATO allies promised on Tuesday more arms for Kyiv and equipment to help restore Ukrainian power and heat knocked out by Russian missile and drone strikes, as air raid sirens blared across Ukraine for the first time this week.
Ukrainians fled the streets for bomb shelters, although the all-clear later sounded across the country. In the eastern Donetsk region Russian forces pounded Ukrainian targets with artillery, mortar and tank fire.
Foreign ministers from the NATO alliance, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, began a two-day meeting in Bucharest, seeking ways both to keep Ukrainians safe and warm and to sustain Kyiv’s military through a coming winter campaign.
“We need air defense, IRIS, Hawks, Patriots, and we need transformers (for our energy needs),” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters on the sidelines of the NATO meeting, enumerating various Western air defense systems.
“In a nutshell: Patriots and transformers are what Ukraine needs the most.”
Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev warned NATO against providing Ukraine with Patriots and denounced the Atlantic alliance as a “criminal entity” for delivering arms to what he called “Ukrainian fanatics.”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Russian President Vladimir Putin was “trying to use winter as a weapon of war” as Moscow’s forces lose ground on the battlefield.
In a statement, NATO ministers condemned Russia’s “persistent and unconscionable attacks on Ukrainian civilian and energy infrastructure” and confirmed a 2008 decision that Ukraine will eventually join the alliance. But it announced no concrete steps or timetable that would bring it closer to NATO.
US and European officials said ministers would focus in their talks on non-lethal aid such as fuel, medical supplies and winter equipment, as well as on military assistance. Washington said it would provide $53 million to buy power grid equipment.
The foreign minister of Lithuania, Gabrielius Landsbergis, urged his NATO colleagues to take the political decision to send modern battle tanks to Ukraine to give them a military edge against Russian forces. Western powers have been reluctant to go down that road for fear of stoking direct conflict with Russia.
ACCUMULATING DAMAGE
Russia has been carrying out huge attacks on Ukraine’s electricity transmission and heating infrastructure roughly weekly since October, in what Kyiv and its allies say is a deliberate campaign to harm civilians, a war crime.
Moscow says hurting civilians is not its aim but that their suffering will end only if Kyiv accepts its demands, which it has not spelled out. Although Kyiv says it shoots down most of the incoming missiles, the damage has been accumulating and the impact growing more severe with each strike.
A senior US military official said on Tuesday Russia was firing unarmed cruise missiles that were designed to carry nuclear warheads at targets in Ukraine to try to deplete Kyiv’s stocks of air defenses.
The worst barrage so far was on Nov. 23, leaving millions of Ukrainians in cold and darkness. President Volodymyr Zelensky told Ukrainians at the start of this week to expect another soon that would be at least as damaging.
There are no political talks to end the war. Moscow has annexed Ukrainian territory which it says it will never relinquish; Ukraine says it will fight until it recovers all occupied land.
Kyiv said it wants weapons to help it end the war — by winning it.
“No eloquent speech will say more than concrete action. ‘Patriot’, ‘F-16’, or ‘Leopard’ for Ukraine,” tweeted presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, referring to US anti-aircraft missiles and fighter jets, and German tanks.
’RISKS ARE GROWING’
Russia called off nuclear talks with the United States this week at the last minute. Moscow said it had “no choice” but to cancel the talks, aimed at resuming inspections under an arms control treaty, because Washington refused to address its wider concerns about strategic stability.
Russian news agencies quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as warning Washington of unspecified risks because of its support for Kyiv against what Russia calls a “special military operation” to disarm its neighbor.
“We are sending signals to the Americans that their line of escalation and ever deeper involvement in this conflict is fraught with dire consequences. The risks are growing,” Ryabkov was quoted as saying.
In Kyiv, snow fell and temperatures were hovering around freezing as millions in and around the capital struggled to heat their homes. After a week of trying to restore electricity from the last attacks, national grid operator Ukrenergo said the system was still suffering a 30 percent shortfall of needed power.
Ukraine’s military General Staff said on Tuesday evening Russian forces in the Donetsk region were continuing to focus their efforts on taking the towns of Bakhmut and Avdiivka. A Russian missile strike on Lyman killed one person and injured three others, it said.
Ukrainian aircraft carried out nine strikes targeting Russian servicemen and equipment, notably in the southern central Zaporizhzhia region, the General Staff said.
In the southern Kherson and Kriviy Rih regions, it added, Russian forces are consolidating their defenses and keeping up artillery attacks, including on the city of Kherson which Ukraine recently recaptured.
Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield reports.
Kherson regional governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said electricity had been restored to 50 percent of Kherson city after heavy Russian bombardment.
Both sides will have to keep troops supplied and healthy in cold, wet trenches for the first long winter of the war, a bigger challenge for the Russians as an invading force with longer and more vulnerable supply lines.

 


Saudi Arabia has not put in a formal bid to host the Fifa World Cup

Saudi Arabia has not put in a formal bid to host the Fifa World Cup
Updated 30 November 2022

Saudi Arabia has not put in a formal bid to host the Fifa World Cup

Saudi Arabia has not put in a formal bid to host the Fifa World Cup

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has not submitted an official bid to host the FIFA World Cup, the tourism ministry said on Wednesday.

“Saudi Arabia is always considering to host a number of large sporting events, as part of promoting sport and tourism in the Kingdom in line with Saudi Vision 2030,” the ministry tweeted.

 

 

The Kingdom has hosted a number of major sporting events in Saudi Arabia including Formula 1, football and heavyweight boxing title fights.

Saudi Arabia was chosen in October to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games at Trojena, a year-round winter sports complex being built in the northwest of the Kingdom as part of the futuristic NEOM megacity. 

Trojena, which is due to be completed in 2026, is in an area of NEOM where winter temperatures drop below zero and year-round temperatures are generally 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the region.

Saudi Vision aims to reform the Kingdom on a number of fronts including in tourism, culture and innovative technologies with a view to reorient the country’s economy away from a dependence on oil exports.


Right-wing Oath Keepers founder convicted of sedition in US Capitol attack plot

Right-wing Oath Keepers founder convicted of sedition in US Capitol attack plot
Updated 30 November 2022

Right-wing Oath Keepers founder convicted of sedition in US Capitol attack plot

Right-wing Oath Keepers founder convicted of sedition in US Capitol attack plot

WASHINGTON: Stewart Rhodes, founder of the right-wing Oath Keepers militia group, was convicted by a jury on Tuesday of seditious conspiracy for last year’s attack on the US Capitol in a failed bid to overturn then-President Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss — an important victory for the Justice Department.
Rhodes, a Yale Law School-educated former Army paratrooper and disbarred attorney, was accused by prosecutors during an eight-week trial of fomenting a plot to use force to block Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s election victory over Trump.
He was the best-known of the five defendants in the most significant of the numerous trials arising from the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot. One co-defendant, Kelly Meggs, was also found guilty of seditious conspiracy on Tuesday, while three others — Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins and Thomas Caldwell — were acquitted of that charge.
US District Judge Amit Mehta has presided over the trial. The jury deliberated for three days.
Rhodes, who wears an eye patch after accidentally shooting himself in the face with his own gun, is one of the most prominent defendants of the roughly 900 charged so far in connection with the attack.
Rhodes in 2009 founded the Oath Keepers, a militia group whose members include current and retired US military personnel, law enforcement officers and first responders. Its members have showed up, often heavily armed, at protests and political events around the United States including the racial justice demonstrations following the murder of a Black man named George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer.
Prosecutors during the trial said Rhodes and his co-defendants planned to use force to prevent Congress from formally certifying Biden’s election victory. Meggs, Watkins and Harrelson all entered the Capitol clad in tactical gear.
The defendants was were accused of creating a “quick reaction force” that prosecutors said positioned at a nearby Virginia hotel and was equipped with firearms that could be quickly transported into Washington if summoned.
Fifty witnesses testified during the trial. Rhodes and two of his co-defendants testified in their own defense. They denied plotting any attack or seeking to block Congress from certifying the election results, though Watkins admitted to impeding police officers protecting the Capitol.
Rhodes told the jury he had no plan to storm the Capitol and did not learn that some of his fellow Oath Keepers had breached the building until after the riot had ended.
Prosecutors during cross-examination sought to paint Rhodes as a liar, showing him page after page of his inflammatory text messages, videos, photos and audio recordings. These included Rhodes lamenting about not bringing rifles to Washington on Jan. 6 and saying he could have hanged US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat reviled by the right, from a lamppost.
Watkins, a transgender woman who fled the US Army after being confronted with homophobic slurs, and Caldwell, a disabled US Navy veteran, also chose to testify.
Watkins admitted to having “criminal liability” for impeding police officers inside the Capitol and apologized. At the same time, Watkins denied having any plan to storm the building, describing being “swept up” just as enthusiastic shoppers behave on “Black Friday” when they rush into stores to purchase discount-price holiday gifts like TVs.
Caldwell, who like Rhodes did not enter the Capitol building and never formally joined the Oath Keepers, tried to downplay some of the inflammatory texts he sent in connection with the attack. Caldwell said some of the lines were adapted from or inspired by movies such as “The Princess Bride” and cartoons such as Bugs Bunny.
Four other Oath Keepers members charged with seditious conspiracy are due to go to trial in December. Members of another right-wing group called the Proud Boys, including its former chairman Enrique Tarrio, also are due to head to trial on seditious conspiracy charges in December.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Scott Malone and Will Dunham)