Arab American candidates set to challenge member of Congress Ilhan Omar in Minnesota

Arab American candidates set to challenge member of Congress Ilhan Omar in Minnesota
Ilhan Omar, the three-time US representative for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District. (AP)
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Updated 07 November 2023
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Arab American candidates set to challenge member of Congress Ilhan Omar in Minnesota

Arab American candidates set to challenge member of Congress Ilhan Omar in Minnesota
  • Egyptian American Sarah Gad, who overcame drug addition after a serious car accident to graduate with a law degree, plans to challenge Omar in the Democratic primary next year
  • Iraqi American Dalia Al-Aqidi, 55, a pro-Israel Muslim and former journalist will once again seek the Republican nomination, despite winning only 4.7 percent of the primary vote in 2020

At least two Arab Americans candidates intend to challenge Ilhan Omar, the three-time US representative for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, at next year’s elections.

One of them is fellow Democrat Sarah Gad, 36, who plans to make a formal announcement of her candidacy this week. She recovered from a serious road accident that left her addicted to painkilling drugs, and subsequent run-ins with the law that resulted in jail terms for drug abuse, to turn her life around and graduate from the University of Chicago with a law degree and a vow to help those who face overwhelming challenges in life.

The daughter of Muslim immigrants from Egypt and a former resident of Illinois who recently moved to Minnesota, where she practices law, Gad was involved in a severe car accident in 2012, while she was a medical student. She was subsequently charged and convicted of felony abuse of opioid drugs, which she had been using to counter severe pain resulting from the accident. It took two years for her to break free from addiction and start to put her life back together.

“My story, my history, really resonates with people,” Gad told the Minnesota Star Tribune newspaper recently. “It allows me to connect with them on a deeper level and understand the day-to-day issues that everyday constituents are facing.”

Gad served time in Cook County Jail, Illinois, for drug convictions, an institution that is notorious for reports of abuse and other controversies. She sued the prison, accusing guards of abuse, won the case and, after overcoming addiction, used the settlement she received to fund her studies at law school, from which she graduated in 2020.

Her story, combined with her political ambitions, has attracted national attention and praise. Last month, she appeared on Tamron Hall, a nationally syndicated US television talk show, and described her battle to lift herself up and her desire to use her experiences to help others.

She has already filed papers with the Federal Election Commission as a prospective candidate for the Democratic primary on Aug. 13, 2024, in the 5th District.

Standing again on the Republican ticket will be Iraqi American Dalia Al-Aqidi, 55, a pro-Israel Muslim and former journalist. If successful in the Republican primary, she would face off against the chosen Democratic candidate in the congressional election on Nov. 5 next year.

However, she faces an uphill battle. She previously sought the Republican nomination for the 5th District in 2020 but received only 4.7 percent of the primary vote, losing to Lacy Johnson who won 76.6 percent of the 11,992 ballots cast.

On her website, Al-Aqidi, who fled Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 1988, has slammed Omar, who has often been the target of pro-Israel activists, for supporting Arab, Muslim and Palestinian rights.

She wrote: “In Congress, she (Omar) constantly forwards or sponsors legislation that attacks our allies while remaining silent about America’s adversaries.

“The fact that she was removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee is further evidence of how untethered she is from the center of American thinking. Her hateful rhetoric and noxious antisemitism is toxic and serves only to gain attention for herself and position her as a celebrity — she is not fighting for us, she is fighting for herself.”

Omar comfortably defeated Johnson in the congressional election on Nov. 3, 2020, winning 64.3 percent of the 398,263 votes cast. First elected in November 2018, she was the first Somali American in the US Congress and the first woman of color to represent Minnesota, and one of the first two Muslim women, with Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib, elected to Congress. The 5th District has a large Somali population and is overwhelmingly Democratic.

In the November 2022 elections, Omar defeated Republican Cicely Davis, who had strong backing from the pro-Israel lobby, in a landslide victory with 74.3 percent of the 288,206 votes cast. However she remains vulnerable in the Democratic primary contest. In the August 2022 primary she defeated rival Don Samuels by a razor-slim margin of just 2,466 votes, receiving 50.3 percent of the 114,567 votes cast.

She has been a consistent and vocal critic of the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the war on Gaza in the aftermath of the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7, which she also criticized.

In a message posted on social media platform X shortly after the attacks, she wrote: “I condemn the horrific acts we are seeing unfold today in Israel against children, women, the elderly, and the unarmed people who are being slaughtered and taken hostage by Hamas. Such senseless violence will only repeat the back-and-forth cycle we’ve seen, which we cannot allow to continue.

“We need to call for deescalation and ceasefire. I will keep advocating for peace and justice throughout the Middle East.”


Trump says Iran attack on Israel shows US ‘weakness’ under Biden

Former US President Donald Trump (L) and US President Joe Biden during. (AFP)
Former US President Donald Trump (L) and US President Joe Biden during. (AFP)
Updated 42 min 12 sec ago
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Trump says Iran attack on Israel shows US ‘weakness’ under Biden

Former US President Donald Trump (L) and US President Joe Biden during. (AFP)

SCHNECKSVILLE, United States: Donald Trump on Saturday blasted President Joe Biden over Iran’s major attack on Israel, alleging that his rival in November elections showed American “weakness” in the Middle East.
“God bless the people of Israel. They are under attack right now. That’s because we show great weakness,” he said at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania.
Iran launched an unprecedented drone and missile attack on Israel Saturday evening, after pledging retaliation for a strike on its consular building in Syria that killed seven Revolutionary Guards members, two of them generals.
Trump, who while in office ordered the killing of a top Revolutionary Guard leader in Baghdad and withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear accord, has repeatedly accused his Democratic opponent of a soft approach toward Tehran.
“The weakness that we’ve shown, it’s unbelievable, and it would not have happened if we were in office,” Trump said Saturday.
“But America prays for Israel, we send our absolute support to everyone in harm’s way.”
Biden meanwhile was huddling at the White House with his key military and national security advisers, saying on X that the US “commitment to Israel’s security against threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad.”

 


Russia’s Aeroflot diverts Tehran-bound flight, postpones others

An Aeroflot Airbus A320-200 aircraft takes off at Sheremetyevo International Airport outside Moscow, Russia. (REUTERS file photo
An Aeroflot Airbus A320-200 aircraft takes off at Sheremetyevo International Airport outside Moscow, Russia. (REUTERS file photo
Updated 43 sec ago
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Russia’s Aeroflot diverts Tehran-bound flight, postpones others

An Aeroflot Airbus A320-200 aircraft takes off at Sheremetyevo International Airport outside Moscow, Russia. (REUTERS file photo
  • The return flight from Tehran to Moscow has been canceled

MOSCOW: An Aeroflot flight from Moscow to Tehran which took off on Saturday evening will land in Makhachkala in Russia’s Dagestan region and a number of flights to Egypt and the United Arab Emirates will be postponed, the airline said.
“Flight SU514 Moscow — Tehran ... will land at the Makhachkala airport,” Aeroflot said on its Telegram messaging app. “In order to ensure flight safety, the plane will return to Moscow after refueling.”
The return flight from Tehran to Moscow has been canceled, it added.
The Russian flagship carrier also said it was postponing until at least later on Sunday flights from Moscow and St. Petersburg to the Red Sea resort town of Hurghada in Egypt, from Moscow to Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt, and from Moscow to Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE.

The Switzerland flagship carrier Swiss International Air lines also suspended Tel Aviv service according to Wall Street Journal.

United Airlines has canceled Saturday’s planned flight from Newark to Tel Aviv due to restrictions on Israeli airspace, the airline said in a statement on Saturday.
Earlier on Saturday, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said it launched dozens of drones and missiles at Israel.

 

 

 


US House to consider pro-Israel bill next week, lawmaker says after Iran attack

The US Capitol in Washington, DC, on March 8, 2024. (AFP)
The US Capitol in Washington, DC, on March 8, 2024. (AFP)
Updated 28 min 38 sec ago
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US House to consider pro-Israel bill next week, lawmaker says after Iran attack

The US Capitol in Washington, DC, on March 8, 2024. (AFP)
  • Israel has killed more than 30,600 civilians in Gaza, according to Palestinian health officials

WASHINGTON: The US House of Representatives will make a change in its schedule to consider legislation that supports Israel and holds Iran accountable, House Majority Leader Steve Scalize said in a statement on Saturday.
“The House of Representatives stands strongly with Israel, and there must be consequences for this unprovoked attack,” he said in a statement. More details will follow, he said.
Scalize’s office did not immediately respond to an inquiry seeking clarification of what legislation would be considered.
It was unclear whether Scalize was referring to a stand-alone bill to aid Israel, or the $95 billion supplemental spending bill that includes $14 billion for Israel, in addition to $60 billion for Ukraine, support for Taiwan and billions of dollars in humanitarian assistance.
That package passed the Senate with 70 percent support in February but has been blocked in the House, whose Republican leaders will not call it up for a vote, largely because of their objection to further funding for Ukraine.
The package also faces resistance from a handful of left-leaning Democrats who object to sending more money to Israel while it pursues a military campaign that has killed more than 30,000 civilians in Gaza, according to Palestinian health officials. US Senator Mitch McConnell released a statement on Saturday evening urging the House to move forward with the larger aid bill that includes funds for Ukraine and Taiwan. “The national security supplemental that has waited months for action will provide critical resources to Israel and our own military forces in the region,” the statement said.

 


Six killed in Sydney shopping center attack

People are led out from the Westfield Shopping Centre where multiple people were stabbed in Sydney, Saturday, April 13, 2024.
People are led out from the Westfield Shopping Centre where multiple people were stabbed in Sydney, Saturday, April 13, 2024.
Updated 13 April 2024
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Six killed in Sydney shopping center attack

People are led out from the Westfield Shopping Centre where multiple people were stabbed in Sydney, Saturday, April 13, 2024.
  • Multiple people were stabbed by the unidentified assailant, who was shot dead by a policewoman at the scene

SYDNEY: Six people were killed and several others injured — including a nine-month-old baby — when a knife-wielding attacker rampaged through a busy Sydney shopping center on Saturday.
Australian police said multiple people were stabbed by the unidentified assailant, who was tracked down and shot dead by a policewoman who is being hailed as a national hero.
The incident occurred at the sprawling Westfield Bondi Junction mall complex, which was packed with thousands of Saturday afternoon shoppers.
New South Wales police commissioner Karen Webb said five women and one man had died. A baby was undergoing emergency surgery.
Police said the attacker is believed to be a 40-year-old man who was known to law enforcement, but he has not yet been formally identified.
Webb played down suggestions that the attack could have been an act of terrorism and said it is believed the attacker acted alone.
“If it is in fact the person we believe it is, then... it’s not a terrorism incident,” she said.
A New South Wales Ambulance spokesperson told AFP that eight patients were taken to various hospitals across Sydney, including the baby who was taken to the city’s Children’s Hospital.
“They all have traumatic injuries,” the official said.
Security camera footage showed a man wearing an Australian rugby league jersey running around the shopping center with a large knife.
Injured people lay lifeless on the floor, or surrounded by pools of blood.
Eyewitnesses described a scene of panic, with shoppers scrambling to safety and police trying to secure the area.
Many people took shelter in shops, trying to protect themselves, their families and frightened strangers.
Ayush Singh was working at a cafe inside the center when the incident occurred.
“I saw the whole thing in front of me,” he told AFP. “I saw a lot of people running around, I saw the guy running with the knife and people running away.”
Singh helped two elderly ladies who were having a coffee to hide inside his cafe. He heard three gunshots ring out, then saw the man lying on the ground.
“It was really scary,” he said. “I’ve felt really safe (in Australia). I’ve been here for six years. I didn’t feel unsafe but now I feel scared.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese praised the bravery of strangers who helped each other and the woman police inspector who rushed headlong toward danger.
“She is certainly a hero. There is no doubt that she saved lives through her action,” Albanese said.

Pranjul Bokaria had just finished up work and was doing some shopping when the stabbing occurred.
She ended up running to a nearby shop and taking shelter in a break room.
“It was scary, there are some people who were emotionally vulnerable and crying,” she told AFP.
She escaped using an emergency exit with other shoppers and staff, which took them to a back street.
She described a scene of “chaos,” with people running and police swarming the area.
“I am alive and grateful,” she said.
As night fell, dozens of heavily armed police and ambulances were still outside the shopping complex, with stretchers ready to take people to nearby hospitals.
The sound of police sirens and helicopters filled the air.
The mall has been locked down and police have urged people to avoid the area.
Britain’s King Charles III said he and his wife Queen Camilla were “utterly shocked and horrified” by the stabbing.
Pope Francis said he was “deeply saddened” by the attack and sent his “spiritual solidarity to all those affected” in a message addressed to the archbishop of Sydney.
Such attacks are virtually unheard of in Australia, which has relatively low rates of violent crime.
 

 


Rwandan expelled from US given life genocide term

Beatrice Munyenyezi is escorted by police officers at a court in Kigali, Rwanda. (AFP file photo)
Beatrice Munyenyezi is escorted by police officers at a court in Kigali, Rwanda. (AFP file photo)
Updated 13 April 2024
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Rwandan expelled from US given life genocide term

Beatrice Munyenyezi is escorted by police officers at a court in Kigali, Rwanda. (AFP file photo)
  • The sentencing came days after Rwanda marked 30 years since the genocide carried out by the extremist Hutu regime between April and July 1994, which left more than 800,000 people dead, mostly Tutsi but also moderate Hutus, according to a UN tally

KIGALI: A Rwandan woman expelled to her homeland three years ago from the US has been given a life sentence for her role in the country’s 1994 genocide, The New Times newspaper reported on Saturday.
A court in the southern town of Huye found Beatrice Munyenyezi guilty of the charges of murder as a genocide crime, complicity in genocide, incitement to commit genocide, and complicity in rape.
However, she was acquitted on a charge of planning genocide, the Rwandan-based national paper said.
The sentencing came days after Rwanda marked 30 years since the genocide carried out by the extremist Hutu regime between April and July 1994, which left more than 800,000 people dead, mostly Tutsi but also moderate Hutus, according to a UN tally.

FASTFACT

Beatrice Munyenyezi was deported in April 2021 from the US after serving a 10-year prison sentence there for lying about her involvement in the genocide as she set about obtaining American citizenship.

Munyenyezi, 54, denied all the charges against her.
But the court concluded she was guilty of ordering and committing murders and attacks herself, including that of a nun who was raped on her orders.
Nicknamed the “commander,” the investigation and several witness accounts said that Munyenyezi was supervising a roadblock in Huye — then called Butare — where she identified Tutsis and had them killed, and also encouraged Hutu extremists to rape women.
She was deported in April 2021 from the US after serving a 10-year prison sentence there for lying about her involvement in the genocide as she set about obtaining American citizenship, saying she faced persecution in her own country.
The case attracted US attention as her mother-in-law Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, a former minister in the genocidal regime, and her husband Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, a former local militia leader, were also on trial for genocide crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania.
They were also sentenced to life in prison, in 2011, before their terms were reduced to 47 years on appeal.