More than $950,000 raised for Palestinian student paralyzed after being shot in Vermont

In this Nov. 23, 2023, photo provided by family attorney Abed Ayoub, three college students, from the left, Tahseen Ali Ahmad, Kinnan Abdalhamid, and Hisham Awartani, stand together for a photograph. (AP)
In this Nov. 23, 2023, photo provided by family attorney Abed Ayoub, three college students, from the left, Tahseen Ali Ahmad, Kinnan Abdalhamid, and Hisham Awartani, stand together for a photograph. (AP)
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Updated 05 December 2023
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More than $950,000 raised for Palestinian student paralyzed after being shot in Vermont

More than $950,000 raised for Palestinian student paralyzed after being shot in Vermont
  • The suspected gunman, Jason J. Eaton, 48, was arrested the following day at his Burlington apartment, where he answered the door with his hands raised and told federal agents he had been waiting for them

NEW YORK: More than $950,000 has been raised for the recovery of one of the three college students of Palestinian descent who was shot in Vermont and is currently paralyzed from the chest down, according to a GoFundMe page set up by his family.
One of the bullets that hit Hisham Awartani on Nov. 25 is lodged in his spine, his family said.
“Hisham’s first thoughts were for his friends, then for his parents who were thousands of miles away. He has demonstrated remarkable courage, resilience and fortitude — even a sense of humor — even as the reality of his paralysis sets in,” the fundraising page, which was set up on Saturday, states.
Awartani, Kinnan Abdalhamid and Tahseen Ali Ahmad are childhood friends who graduated from a private Quaker school in the West Bank and now attend colleges in the eastern US The 20-year-olds were visiting Awartani’s relatives in Burlington for the Thanksgiving break. They were walking to the house of Hisham’s grandmother for dinner when they were shot in an unprovoked attack, the family said.
The young men were speaking in a mix of English and Arabic and two of them were also wearing the black-and-white Palestinian keffiyeh scarves when they were shot, Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad said. Authorities are investigating the shooting as a possible hate crime.
“In a cruelly ironic twist, Hisham’s parents had recommended he not return home over winter break, suggesting he would be safer in the US with his grandmother,” the fundraising page states. “Burlington is a second home to Hisham, who has spent summers and happy holidays with his family there. It breaks our hearts that these young men did not find safety in his home away from home.”
All three were seriously injured. Abdalhamid was released from the hospital last week.
The suspected gunman, Jason J. Eaton, 48, was arrested the following day at his Burlington apartment, where he answered the door with his hands raised and told federal agents he had been waiting for them. Eaton has pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted murder and is currently being held without bail.
The shooting came as threats against Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities have increased across the US in the weeks since the the Israel-Hamas war erupted in early October.
Awartani, who speaks seven languages, is pursuing a dual degree in math and archaeology at Brown University, where he is also a teaching assistant, the fundraising page said. He told his college professors that he is determined to start the next semester on time, according to the fundraiser.
“We, his family, believe that Hisham will change the world,” the fundraising page states. “He’ll change the world through his spirit, his mind and his compassion for those much more vulnerable than himself, especially the thousands of dead in Gaza and many more struggling to survive the devastating humanitarian crisis unfolding there.”
 

 


Man sets himself on fire outside Israeli Embassy in Washington DC

A supporter of Israel is draped in an Israeli flag in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC. (File/AFP)
A supporter of Israel is draped in an Israeli flag in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC. (File/AFP)
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Man sets himself on fire outside Israeli Embassy in Washington DC

A supporter of Israel is draped in an Israeli flag in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC. (File/AFP)

LONDON: A man has been taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries after setting himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC on Sunday.

The District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Service Department attended the scene at around 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time and found the man with burn injuries, The Hill reported.

The man’s injuries were described as “critical,” and DailyMail.com reported that the Secret Service attended the incident “regarding an individual that was experiencing a possible medical / mental health emergency.”


Philippine protesters say ‘never again’ on anniversary of anti-Marcos uprising

Philippine protesters say ‘never again’ on anniversary of anti-Marcos uprising
Updated 25 February 2024
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Philippine protesters say ‘never again’ on anniversary of anti-Marcos uprising

Philippine protesters say ‘never again’ on anniversary of anti-Marcos uprising

MANILA: Hundreds of Filipino protesters marched through Manila on Sunday, marking the anniversary of the uprising that ousted Ferdinand Marcos, while vowing to prevent his son from repeating the dictatorship.

Marcos Jr. won the presidency in a landslide in 2022, nearly four decades after a “People Power” uprising ended his late father’s 20-year rule and chased the clan into exile in the United States.

While Marcos Jr. remains popular, his campaign to alter the 1987 constitution has proved divisive.

Critics warn the effort could lead to the abolishment of term limits, with presidents currently allowed just one six-year stint in office.

“The theme of this protest is to reject Marcos’s charter change moves which is a move to remain (in) power ... which is basically what happened 38 years ago,” said economist Rosario Guzman, 58, who told AFP that she had also taken part in the 1986 uprising.

“No to Cha-Cha (charter change),” read a protest banner displayed behind a mock black coffin marked “Freedom and Democracy.”

Marcos maintains he is primarily seeking to amend the charter’s economic provisions to allow more foreign investment, and ideally create more jobs.

He has said the political aspects, including term limits, should be tackled later.

According to police in Manila, a few hundred people joined Sunday’s march, a far cry from the crowd that paralyzed the capital’s main avenue over four days in February 1986 until the military withdrew its support for the elder Marcos.

Rights groups say Marcos Sr.’s  regime jailed, tortured or killed tens of thousands of critics, including religious leaders, journalists and student activists, while corruption left the country impoverished.

At the 38th anniversary march, 21-year-old demonstrator Giu de Sagun said he felt like he was “watching history repeat itself.”

Some protesters wore shirts and hats vowing “never again.”


Young Indian protesters determined to secure agrarian reforms from Modi government

Young Indian protesters determined to secure agrarian reforms from Modi government
Updated 25 February 2024
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Young Indian protesters determined to secure agrarian reforms from Modi government

Young Indian protesters determined to secure agrarian reforms from Modi government
  • Thousands of students have been waking up at 3 am to help cook meals, load trailers with supplies before heading to the protest site
  • Protester demands are centered around guaranteed floor prices which will allow millions of other farmers to sell produce at fixed rates

SHAMBHU: Farmers in India’s northern Punjab state demanding higher prices for their crops from the national government are relying on young students to ensure the agitation’s momentum does not fizzle out.
Eighteen-year-old Simranjeet Singh Mathada is one of thousands of college students who have been waking up at 3 am for almost two weeks to help cook meals at community kitchens, fill tankers with potable water and load tractor trailers with supplies before heading to the protest site some 200 km (125 miles) from the capital, New Delhi.
“The protests are now about safeguarding the country’s agrarian economy and farmers of Punjab are determined to bring this reform at all costs,” said Mathada.
Protester demands are centered around guaranteed floor prices which will allow Mathada’s parents and millions of other farmers to sell their produce at fixed rates.
Even as negotiations between farmer unions and government have been underway, protests have sometimes turned violent.
On several occasions, scores of farmers have suffered injuries trying to force their way through concrete blocks and barbed wires installed by police to prevent them from marching on the capital.
Some police officials were also injured in these sporadic clashes.
“Our determination to bring about the change helps face the police every day,” said Mathada, who is studying for a degree in Arts.
Mathada and his father have been using swimming goggles and a metal shield to protect themselves from thick clouds of smoke and tear gas shells lobbed via drones by the police.
“It has been a shocking experience to see how the police can use force to stop farmers from marching toward Delhi...it has shown me how democracy can fade so quickly,” said Mathada.
Before the protests, Mathada helped his family cultivate crops on their ancestral land and manage a hardware shop.
“For now, the main occupation is to make sure Modi government accepts our demands,” he said, adding that attending college lectures has become secondary for him and some of his classmates.
The protests come just months before elections in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party is seeking a third consecutive term.
Last week, Modi said his government is committed to the welfare of farmers and is on a mission to make them entrepreneurs and exporters.
Mathada will be eligible to vote for the first time but is having doubts.
“I think about democracy and feel a bit disillusioned; I may not even cast my vote this time.”


Massive rise in Islamophobic incidents in the UK following Gaza war leaves Muslims in fear

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators wave placards and Palestinian flags at a mass rally in support of Gaza in London. (File/AFP)
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators wave placards and Palestinian flags at a mass rally in support of Gaza in London. (File/AFP)
Updated 25 February 2024
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Massive rise in Islamophobic incidents in the UK following Gaza war leaves Muslims in fear

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators wave placards and Palestinian flags at a mass rally in support of Gaza in London. (File/AFP)
  • Islamophobia Response Unit said there was a 365 percent increase in reports of Islamophobia in October 2023, following Hamas’ attack on Israel that month

LONDON: An enormous rise in Islamophobic incidents against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war has led many Muslims in the UK to fear leaving their homes after dark, The Independent reported on Sunday.

Many of the Islamophobic incidents have involved people being targeted over their support for Palestine as the war in Gaza continues.

Muslims who spoke to The Independent said they had bricks thrown through their windows for displaying the Palestinian flag, and a 17-year-old was questioned by his teachers after he displayed a Palestinian badge on his bag at school.

Islamophobia Response Unit, a charity dedicated to supporting victims of Islamophobia, said there was a 365 percent increase in reports of Islamophobia in October 2023, following Hamas’ attack on Israel that month.

“Since October 2023, IRU has seen a sustained increase in reports to the unit,” said IRU CEO Majid Iqbal.

“It is clear that this is now developing into a long-term trend and is having a profound impact on those affected by it. IRU calls on the press and politicians to not demonize legitimate Palestinian activism and, by extension, British Muslims, to avoid feeding into the serious societal problem of Islamophobia,” he said.

Tell MAMA, another body that records anti-Muslim hate incidents, said there were 2,010 Islamophobic incidents between Oct. 7 and Feb. 7, more than triple the 600 reported during the same period the year before. 

The figures were released in the same week that Tory MP Lee Anderson was suspended by the Conservative Party after making comments about London Mayor Sadiq Khan that have been widely condemned as Islamophobic.

Anderson told GB News on Friday that “Islamists” had “got control” of the mayor of London and the capital city.

“I don’t actually believe that the Islamists have got control of our country, but what I do believe is they’ve got control of Khan and they’ve got control of London … He’s actually given our capital city away to his mates,” the former Tory deputy chairman said. 

Of the cases reported to IRU, a 17-year-old Londoner said he was interrogated by teachers about his faith and “his understanding of Hamas” after he put a Palestinian badge on his school bag.

The Year 13 student said he felt targeted because he was Muslim, which triggered an anxiety attack and led to exam failure.

“The numerous instances of being pulled out whilst studying to remove my badge made me feel like I was targeted because I was a Muslim, which made me feel like I was doing something wrong,” the boy said. 

“This feeling of being targeted intensified following the intimidating interrogation, which I was subjected to,” he added.

A 32-year-old doctor said he has been too scared to leave his home after an attack he believes stemmed from his support for Palestine.

He was awoken on Feb. 5 after a large rock smashed through a window at his Manchester home, which displayed a Palestinian flag. He said he was unable to sleep and took two weeks off work as a result of the incident.

“This event has been extremely traumatic and has had a significant impact on my well-being,” he told The Independent.

“I am not sleeping; I just pace around until 4 or 5 a.m. because I am too scared to sleep in the property. I no longer leave the house after sunset, as I am too frightened.

“I will soon be returning to work after two weeks off sick with stress, but I am very concerned about the impact this event will have on my professional performance as a doctor. I do not know how I can work with patients whilst I am this sleep-deprived,” he added.


UK’s governing Conservatives face pressure as London mayor blasts ‘tacit endorsement’ of Islamophobia

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. (File/Reuters)
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. (File/Reuters)
Updated 25 February 2024
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UK’s governing Conservatives face pressure as London mayor blasts ‘tacit endorsement’ of Islamophobia

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. (File/Reuters)
  • Sadiq Khan says ‘enough is enough’ following MP Lee Anderson’s claim that ‘Islamists’ have ‘got control’ of mayor
  • Deputy PM defends ex-Home Secretary Suella Braverman after she echoed Anderson’s sentiments

LONDON: London’s Muslim mayor has accused Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of “tacit endorsement” of Islamophobia in his Conservative Party.

Sadiq Khan’s accusation came after the “belated” suspension of Conservative MP Lee Anderson, who refused to apologize for saying in a TV interview that “Islamists” had “got control” of the mayor.

“I don’t actually believe that the Islamists have got control of our country, but what I do believe is they’ve got control of Khan and they’ve got control of London,” Anderson told GB News. “He’s actually given our capital city away to his mates.”

Khan said Muslims are considered “fair game” for prejudice by the Conservatives.

It comes amid a series of scandals for the governing party after its former leader Liz Truss attended a major conservative conference in the US where she appeared on a panel at which British far-right figure Tommy Robinson was praised, and former Home Secretary Suella Braverman penned an article for the Daily Telegraph suggesting “Islamists” are “in charge” of the UK.

Over the weekend, senior party figures failed to fully condemn Anderson despite his suspension, including Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden and Defense Secretary Grant Shapps.

Khan said: “Blatant anti-Muslim hatred is being tolerated from top to bottom of the party, with everyone from ministers to mayoral candidates failing to condemn even the most clear-cut examples of bigotry and racism.”

He added: “Anderson’s comments have poured petrol on the fire of anti-Muslim hatred … The message it sends is some forms of hatred and racism are acceptable. Enough is enough.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said Sunak has “extremists” in his party acting “with impunity.”

Labour Chair Anneliese Dodds said in a letter to her Conservative counterpart Richard Holden that Anderson’s comments are “unambiguously Islamophobic, divisive and damaging.”

She cited other incidents of Islamophobia in the governing part, including London mayoral candidate Susan Hall’s suggestion that Jewish Londoners were “frightened” of Khan’s “divisive attitude” in October, and Conservative MP Nus Ghani saying she was told her “Muslimness” made “colleagues uncomfortable” by an unnamed party official in 2020.

Truss, meanwhile, has been criticized by former Chancellor Sir Sajid Javid for failing to address comments made by US conservative figure Steve Bannon at the Conservative Political Action Conference in which he called Robinson a “hero.”

Sir Sajid said: “I’d hope every MP would confront such a statement head-on … Liz should really know better.”

On Saturday morning, Shapps defended Anderson’s right to “speak (his) mind.” On Sunday, Dowden refused to condemn Anderson as a racist in an interview with Sky News in which he said Anderson had used “the wrong words.”

Dowden added: “I don’t believe the language used by Suella Braverman has crossed the line whereby she should apologize for it.”