King Charles III crowned in UK’s first coronation since 1953

King Charles III crowned in UK’s first coronation since 1953
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Updated 06 May 2023
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King Charles III crowned in UK’s first coronation since 1953

King Charles III crowned in UK’s first coronation since 1953

LONDON: The UK’s King Charles III was crowned on Saturday at Westminster Abbey in London at the country’s first coronation for 70 years in a ceremony that blended the ancient and the modern.

Charles became the 40th monarch since William the Conquerer in 1066 to be crowned at the ancient church, and at 74 becomes the oldest.

Although he became Britain’s king and monarch of 14 other Commonwealth realms immediately after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, in September, Saturday’s crowning, replete with tradition and pomp and ceremony, rubber-stamped his ascension to the throne.

It was a scaled-down affair and markedly shorter than the 1953 extravaganza of his mother; a conscious choice by Charles, who now rules over a Britain with a struggling economy and which is in the grips of a cost-of-living crisis.

Charles also worked to make the event as inclusive and reflective of 21st century Britain as possible, and in a break from tradition, representatives of the Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish and Sikh faiths were involved for the first time.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby placed the solid-gold St Edward’s Crown on Charles’ head as a “sacred and ancient symbol of the monarch’s authority.” He also crowned Charles’ wife, Camilla, 75, which confirmed her transformation from mistress to monarch.

In attendance at Westminster among the estimated 2,000 guests were several leaders and official representatives of Gulf countries, including King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan, Saudi Minister Prince Turki bin Mohammad bin Fahd bin Abdulaziz and Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

US President Joe Biden, who maintained the streak of American presidents never attending a coronation, was represented at the abbey by First Lady Jill Biden.

He tweeted his congratulations and paid tribute to the “enduring friendship” between the US and Britain shortly after the ceremony.

French President Emmanuel Macron, Japan’s Emperor Naruhito, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine, were also in attendance.

Following the more staid and sober rituals at the abbey, the newly crowned king and queen returned to Buckingham Palace in the day’s second horse-drawn parade, and appeared alongside other members of the royal family on the famous old balcony.

Charles and Camilla were met with cheers and applause from the thousands of well-wishers packed along The Mall, who had braved the stereotypically wet London weather to witness the customary appearance and a ceremonial flypast.

Britons and foreign visitors alike were left enthralled at the historical significance of the event, with many telling Arab News they were “proud” and “lucky” to have been part of a moment steeped in almost 1,000 years of history.


Pakistan calls for ‘utmost restraint’ as Iran launches retaliatory strikes against Israel 

Pakistan calls for ‘utmost restraint’ as Iran launches retaliatory strikes against Israel 
Updated 21 min 22 sec ago
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Pakistan calls for ‘utmost restraint’ as Iran launches retaliatory strikes against Israel 

Pakistan calls for ‘utmost restraint’ as Iran launches retaliatory strikes against Israel 
  • Iran launched a swarm of explosive drones and missiles at Israel late on Saturday 
  • Pakistan watching situation in Middle East with “deep concern,” says foreign office

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s foreign office on Sunday expressed deep concern over the escalation of hostilities in the Middle East following Iran’s retaliatory strikes against Israel, urging all parties to exercise “utmost restraint” and work toward de-escalation of tensions. 

The statement comes in response to Iran launching a swarm of explosive drones and firing missiles at Israel late on Saturday in its first ever direct attack on Israeli territory, risking a major escalation in the Middle East. 

Israel’s military said more than 100 drones were launched from Iran, with security sources in Iraq and Jordan reporting dozens seen flying overhead and US officials saying the American military had shot some down.

Pakistan’s foreign office said in a statement that Islamabad was watching the situation in the Middle East with “deep concern.”

“It is now critically urgent to stabilize the situation and restore peace,” it said. “We call on all parties to exercise utmost restraint and move toward de-escalation.”

Iran launched the missiles and drone attacks against Israel for what it said was a retaliatory attack against an Israeli strike on its Damascus consulate on April 1 that killed seven Revolutionary Guards officers, including two senior commanders. 

The foreign office said Pakistan had pointed to the dangers of the attack on the Iranian consular office in Syria as a “major escalation” in an already volatile region.

“Today’s developments demonstrate the consequences of the breakdown of diplomacy,” it said.
“These also underline the grave implications in cases where the UN Security Council is unable to fulfill its responsibilities of maintaining international peace and security.”

The Gaza war between Israel and Hamas, now in its seventh month, has driven up tensions in the region, spreading to fronts with Lebanon and Syria and drawing long-range fire at Israeli targets from as far away as Yemen and Iraq.

Pakistan, which does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, has urged the international community to intervene and impose a ceasefire in the Middle East. 

Islamabad has consistently demanded a separate homeland for the Palestinians in accordance with their wishes, and with Al Quds Al Sharif as its capital.


Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon reopen airspace after Iran attacks

Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon reopen airspace after Iran attacks
Updated 28 min 14 sec ago
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Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon reopen airspace after Iran attacks

Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon reopen airspace after Iran attacks
  • Jordan’s state TV said the country had resumed air traffic operations, citing aviation authorities

CAIRO: Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon have reopened their airspace on Sunday after closing it late on Saturday as Iran launched drone and missile attacks against Israel, the three countries said on Sunday.

Jordan’s state TV said the country had resumed air traffic operations, citing aviation authorities. The opening of its airspace came more than three hours earlier than scheduled.

Iraq’s aviation authority said security risks had now been overcome.

Lebanon said its airport will resume its activities after the overnight closure, state TV reported.

Iran launched explosive drones and fired missiles at Israel late on Saturday — its first direct attack on Israeli territory in a retaliatory strike that raises the threat of wider regional conflict.

Jordan, which lies between Iran and Israel, had readied air defenses to intercept any drones or missiles that violated its territory, two regional security sources said.

US and British warplanes were involved in shooting down some Israel-bound drones over the Iraq-Syria border area, Israel’s Channel 12 reported.


Israel’s Netanyahu vows victory after Iran strikes, fears of wider conflict grow

Israel’s Netanyahu vows victory after Iran strikes, fears of wider conflict grow
Updated 44 min 18 sec ago
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Israel’s Netanyahu vows victory after Iran strikes, fears of wider conflict grow

Israel’s Netanyahu vows victory after Iran strikes, fears of wider conflict grow
  • Iran had relied on its proxies across the region to attack Israeli and US targets in a show of support for the Palestinian militant group Hamas
  • Israel’s Channel 12 TV cited an unnamed Israeli official as saying there would be a “significant response” to the attack

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Sunday his country would achieve victory after the military said it shot down almost all the more than 300 drones and missiles launched by Iran in a sharp escalation of the Middle East conflict.
Tehran’s attacks late on Saturday, launched after a suspected Israeli air strike on its embassy compound in Damascus on April 1 that killed officers of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, raised the threat of a wider regional conflict.
Iran had relied on its proxies across the region to attack Israeli and US targets in a show of support for the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza war with Israel, which shows no sign of easing despite numerous mediations efforts.
“We intercepted, we repelled, together we shall win,” Netanyahu posted on X.
The Israeli military said the armed forces had shot down more than 99 percent of the Iranian drones and missiles and were discussing follow-up options.
Israel’s Channel 12 TV cited an unnamed Israeli official as saying there would be a “significant response” to the attack.
The war in Gaza, which Israel invaded after an attack by Iran-backed Hamas on Oct. 7, has ratcheted up tensions in the region, spreading to fronts with Lebanon and Syria and drawing long-range fire at Israeli targets from as far away as Yemen and Iraq.
’Push toward escalation'
Iran’s most powerful ally in the region, the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah — which has been exchanging fire with Israel since the Gaza war began — said early on Sunday it had fired rockets at an Israeli base.
Drones were also reportedly launched against Israel by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group, which has attacked shipping lanes in an around the Red Sea to show solidarity with Hamas, British maritime security company Ambrey said in a statement.
Those clashes now threaten to morph into a direct open conflict pitting Iran and its regional allies against Israel and its main supporter, the United States. Regional power Egypt urged “utmost restraint.”
Israel’s chief military spokesperson, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, called Iran’s actions “very grave,” telling a televised briefing they “push the region toward escalation.”
Iran launched dozens of ground-to-ground missiles at Israel, including more than 10 cruise missiles, and most were intercepted outside Israeli borders, Hagari said.
The Iranian salvo caused light damage to one Israeli military facility, he said.
The Israeli military said it was not advising residents to prepare to take shelter, revising an earlier alert in an apparent signal of the end of the threat.
UN security council to meet
Iran had vowed retaliation for what it called the Israeli strike on its embassy compound that killed seven Revolutionary Guard officers, including two senior commanders. Tehran said its strike was punishment for “Israeli crimes.” Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the consulate attack.
“Should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe,” the Iranian mission to the United Nations said, warning the US to “stay away.” However, it also said Iran now “deemed the matter concluded.”
US President Joe Biden, who spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said he would convene a meeting of leaders of the Group of Seven major economies on Sunday to coordinate a diplomatic response to what he called Iran’s brazen attack.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said America did not seek conflict with Iran but would not hesitate to act to protect US forces and support defense of Israel.
The UN Security Council was set to meet at 4 p.m. ET (2000 GMT) on Sunday after Israel requested it condemn Iran’s attack and designate the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization.
Iran’s Fars news agency quoted a source as saying Tehran was closely watching Jordan, which might become the next target is case of any moves in support of Israel.
Israel and Lebanon said they were closing their airspace on Saturday night. Israel reopened its airspace at 0430 GMT on Sunday, its airports authority said. Jordan, which lies between Iran and Israel, had readied air defenses to intercept any drone or missile that violated its territory, two regional security sources said.
Residents in several Jordanian cities said they heard heavy aerial activity.
Syria, an ally of Iran, said it was putting its ground-to-air defense systems around the capital and major bases on high alert, army sources there said.
The European Union, Britain, Japan, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Mexico, the Netherlands and Norway condemned Iran’s attack.


PM Sharif vows to facilitate Sikh pilgrims visiting Pakistan for Baisakhi festival

PM Sharif vows to facilitate Sikh pilgrims visiting Pakistan for Baisakhi festival
Updated 44 min 27 sec ago
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PM Sharif vows to facilitate Sikh pilgrims visiting Pakistan for Baisakhi festival

PM Sharif vows to facilitate Sikh pilgrims visiting Pakistan for Baisakhi festival
  • Over 3,000 Sikh pilgrims arrived in Pakistan from India on Saturday for Baisakhi festival
  • Spring festival marks beginning of Sikh new year and symbolizes spiritual rejuvenation 

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday promised his government at the center and provincial authorities in Pakistan would facilitate Sikh pilgrims visiting the country to mark the Baisakhi festival. 

More than 3,000 Sikh pilgrims arrived in Pakistan from India on Saturday to celebrate the Baisakhi harvest festival. Sikhs are a small minority based in the Punjab region divided between Muslim-majority Pakistan and Hindu-majority India, but several Sikh holy sites ended up being in Pakistan after the partition of the Subcontinent in 1947.

Baisakhi, the spring harvest festival primarily celebrated in Punjab and northern India, marks the beginning of the Sikh new year and symbolizes spiritual rejuvenation, with celebrations centered around Gurdwara Panja Sahib in the Pakistani city of Hasan Abdal, some 45 kilometers northwest of Islamabad.

“The government of Pakistan and all provincial governments are ensuring that Sikh pilgrims from all over the world who are visiting Pakistan’s religious sites to perform Baisakhi rituals, are provided all facilities,” Sharif said in a message shared by his office on X. 

The Pakistani prime minister said Baisakhi is a festival of love, affection and happiness, adding that Pakistan is a blend of different faiths and cultures. 

“On the occasion of Baisakhi, I want to send you all a message of peace and love,” Sharif said. “Let’s play our role in creating a peaceful world together.”

The shrine in Hasan Abdal is one of Sikhism’s holiest sites and it is believed that the handprint of the founder of the religion, Guru Nanak, is imprinted on a boulder there.

Baisakhi is also meant to mark the day when Gobind Singh, the 10th and final guru of Sikhism, established the discipline of Khalsa, through which the faithful can aspire to the ultimate state of purity.

During their stay in Pakistan, Sikh pilgrims will visit their religious places in Hasan Abdal, Nankana Sahib, Narowal, Eminabad and Badami Bagh in Lahore, according to Pakistani state media. 


Islamabad center rehabilitates hundreds of animals, including dancing bears saved from cruelty

Islamabad center rehabilitates hundreds of animals, including dancing bears saved from cruelty
Updated 30 min 50 sec ago
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Islamabad center rehabilitates hundreds of animals, including dancing bears saved from cruelty

Islamabad center rehabilitates hundreds of animals, including dancing bears saved from cruelty
  • Since its inception in Aug. 2021, center has rescued over 380 animals, including mammals, birds and reptiles
  • Management plans to expand the facility and turn it into a permanent sanctuary for rescued animals and birds

ISLAMABAD: Aneela, a five-year-old female black bear, growled inside a squeeze cage at the Islamabad Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center where attendants have been struggling for the last several days to alleviate her pain through medication, love and care.

Aneela is at the rehab center after being saved from a life of cruelty as a dancing bear in the Pakistani city of Gujranwala where wildlife officials carried out a raid last month. Aneela’s teeth and nails had been removed by poachers during captivity and a nose ring they had put on her continued to cause pain, with visible signs of distress and swelling all over her face when an Arab News team visited the site earlier this month.

Animal-keepers and vets at the Islamabad Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center have been treating Aneela for a week now and plan to remove her nose ring before moving her to a bigger cage.

The Islamabad Zoo, located in the foothills of the lush green Margalla Hills, was shut down in 2020 through a court order after an animal cruelty case. It has now been transformed into a facility where hundreds of rescued animals and birds are brought for rehabilitation.

A leopard cub photographed at the Islamabad Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center on April 5, 2024. (AN Photo)

Since its inception in August 2021, the center has rescued over 380 animals, including mammals, birds and reptiles. The facility is spread over eleven hectares of land where overgrown foliage and old trees give the animals a sense of being in a jungle, their natural habitat.

The center currently hosts black bears, two leopard cubs called Sultan and Neelu, monkeys, eagles and kites. The management has set up special shelters with a playing area for all animals and is building a special cage for Aneela’s rehabilitation.

“Basically, this is a female black bear that was rescued from Gujranwala on March 26, and then our staff shifted her here to the Rescue Center,” Sakhawat Ali, the deputy director of research and planning at the center, told Arab News earlier this month.

“Currently, she is under the treatment process. She is being administered antibiotics and now her nose ring will be removed. She is in a squeeze trap now, so that the animal does not need to be sedated repeatedly [during treatment].”

Ali said the center’s main aim at the moment was to alleviate Aneela’s pain, since she was now unable to be released into the wild to hunt and survive as poachers had removed her teeth. 

“Since they cannot go into the wild now, we are trying to set up a sanctuary for these bears, we have a proposal for it, to release them there,” Ali added. 

“STOLEN FROM MOTHERS”

Dancing bears are captive or bred bears forced to perform tricks for entertainment. Their training methods include painful measures like hot metal plates and metal rings through sensitive noses and jaws, allowing owners to exert control over the bears.

A pair of black bear photographed inside the bear rescue enclosure at the Islamabad Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center on April 5, 2024. (AN Photo)

Another cruel and illegal practice is bear baiting in which animals are subjected to fights against trained dogs for entertainment. The fights inflict severe physical and psychological trauma on bears, often resulting in broken teeth, pierced snouts and the removal of claws.

Bear dancing and bear baiting are age-old traditions in the region, introduced as a sport by the British during their colonial rule. 

Rina Saeed Khan, the chairperson of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board, told Arab News poachers stole cubs and infants from their mothers in the wild and then trained them to dance and perform tricks to please audiences and earn money for the owners.

“They pull out their nails, they pull out their teeth, they make them dance on hot stoves to teach them how to dance, so a lot of cruelty happens and then you see the dancing bears in the streets of Punjab and the gypsies earn money through that,” Khan said. 

The rehab center’s management was striving to develop more space to accommodate the increasing number of animals rescued from different parts of the country, Khan added. A sightseeing platform for visitors would also be set up inside the center in the future.

“We are trying to expand our space and we are now trying to go from a rescue center to a permanent sanctuary for the bears because international experts tell us that this is the ideal space right next to the Margalla Hills,” Khan said.

“The temperature is much cooler over here and we do already have about eight bears, so we want to build our capacity to take in more and that would be open to the public.” 

Earlier this month, a team of wildlife experts from the Four Paws charity arrived in Islamabad to help eight dancing and baiting bears rescued by local authorities and discuss the possibility of saving and relocating more such animals.

The team came in response to an urgent request by the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board to support local authorities with the veterinary treatment and neutering of the eight bears.

“It is crucial to assess the health of all bears and our priority to neuter them to prevent unwanted breeding,” Four Paws veterinarian Dr. Amir Khalil, who is leading the action in the country, said in a statement. “That way we can ensure ethical wildlife management going forward.”

“We are grateful for the trust of the Pakistani authorities in our expertise and committed to improve the lives of as many bears as possible,” he added. “We will also support the preparation of enclosures for the new arrivals at the rescue center and ensure proper care for all animals going forward.”

The organization’s president and CEO, Josef Pfabigan, welcomed the action by Pakistani government against cruel practices.

“We are happy to work together on this important cause,” he said. “With our successful collaboration, Four Paws aims to find sustainable long-term solutions for the animals and help law enforcement to effectively put an end to the illegal practices of dancing bears and bear baiting in Pakistan.”

“WHITE-BOOTED EAGLE”

The center has also set up a dedicated helpline where volunteers can alert the wildlife department about incidents of animal cruelty to help authorities launch swift rescue operations. 

The helpline is already helping, as one white-booted eagle was recently rescued from Rawal Lake because of a tip-off.

“Its owner had put a rope on its foot, and he would make it sit on the forearm and pose for photos [for paying clients],” Ali said. 

“Somebody complained to us that the eagle is being tortured like this, [with owners] taking its picture after making it sit on the arm and earning money by doing that.”

The rehab center’s team reached the area and rescued the bird, which was badly injured. 

“When we brought it here, its leg was hanging because [the owner] had wrapped the rope tightly on its claw for a long time, so the blood flow had stopped,” Ali added. 

“Now it has recovered quite a bit. It has slowly started putting its talon on the ground.”