Friday, August 30, 2019

What Rights Do Muslims Have In "Christian Rivers State''

By Darius Aminu

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike's decision to declare Rivers State a Christian state has elicited varied reactions from Nigerians. The majority of Christians have welcomed the decision and applauded the governor for the bold move in the face of a calculated attempt to "Islamize Nigeria" as it is sometimes alleged.

Wike has said his decision is set in stone and that he owes nobody any explanation. I am not an authority on constitutional matters, so I'm not going to talk about the constitutionality of his actions. I leave that to the experts.

If Wike's decision falls within the law, would it deprive the Muslim indigenes and Muslim residents of the state of their rights? The answer is a resounding no.

Unlike Islam, Christianity does not have a penal code. There are no laws in the Bible on how to treat criminals, so Muslims shouldn't fret that their rights will be eroded when they are forcibly tried in a Christian court. I understand that our penal code is based off of the British, and theirs is heavily influenced by Judeo-Christian traditions. Therefore, ours also has an element of Christian influence. Having said this, the Bible is not used to interpret penal code the way Islamic sharia judges rely on the Qu'ran to interpret Sharia.

Wike's move does not in any way suggests that Christian courts would be set up, as Sharia courts were set up in the North. It's just a political move meant to bolster his standing amongst Christians in Rivers and Nigeria. He wants to be seen to be taking a firm stance against the so-called "islamization of Nigeria".

Muslims have nothing to worry about. As much as I disagree with Wike's decision, I feel Muslims set this ball in motion when they clamoured for Sharia law and resorted to violence to achieve their aim. They set a dangerous precedent and Wike has borrowed a leaf from the Muslim governors who felt the need to implement Sharia in states where Muslims are the majority.

We don't know what plans Wike has, but if they would lead to trampling on the rights of Muslims resident in the state, I urge the Federal Government to take up the matter and treat it with the urgency it deserves. But again, the Buhari led administration should be mindful of the fact that the majority of Christians in Nigeria are distrustful of his presidency and he should try to understand why they feel this way

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Slovakia's first female president sworn in

In her inauguration speech, Zuzana Caputova pledged to fight injustice and impunity. The 45-year-old is the country's first female president and the youngest person ever to be elected to the office.
Anti-corruption activist Zuzana Caputovakicked off her five-year term as president of Slovakia on Saturday by calling for state officials incapable of standing up to corruption to lose their jobs.
Addressing Slovak lawmakers after a swearing-in ceremony, Caputova pledged to make the justice system work for everyone.
"Under the constitution, people are free and equal in dignity and in rights, meaning nobody is that irrelevant to have their rights compromised, nor is anyone that powerful to stand above the law," she said in her inauguration speech.
"Too many people feel that this is not quite the reality in our country. The feeling of injustice has grown and has demonstrated itself in calls for change and decency but also in anger over 'the system,'" she added.

Anger over killed reporter

Slovakia was deeply shaken by last year's murder of investigative reporter Jan Kuciak. The 27-year-old journalist and his fiancĂ©e were gunned down in his home near Bratislava as Kuciak was preparing a story on ties between Slovak politicians, local businessmen and the Italian mafia.
Caputova, who made her reputation as a pro-environment lawyer and anti-graft crusader, took part in the resulting protest that forced then-Prime Minister Robert Fico to resign. 
Five people have since been charged over the double murder, including Slovak businessman Marian Kocner. Many believe Kocner has ties to Fico's Smer-SD party. The entrepreneur has denied any wrongdoing.
On Saturday, Caputova also said she "did not come to rule" but to "serve the citizens."
At 45, the single mother of two is the youngest person ever to be named the president of Slovakia, a formerly socialist country of 5.4 million people. She is also the first woman to be voted into the office.

Saudi Arabia demands 'decisive' response to Gulf oil tanker attacks

Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the vital oil supply routes in the Gulf must be protected following "terrorist acts." G20 ministers have sought to downplay fears of possible disruption.
Saudi Arabia on Saturday called for a "swift and decisive" response to threats to energy supplies in the region following twin attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf.
On Twitter, Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih restated the importance of stability in the energy supply chain and oil trading markets, along with consumer confidence.
He described the twin attacks on tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman earlier this week as "terrorist acts."

Oil prices climb

On Thursday, the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous and a tanker owned by Norway-listed Frontline were rocked by explosions — incidents that quickly drove up global oil prices and shipping insurance rates.
Thursday's attacks followed the similar sabotage of four tankers off the UAE coast on May 12, which the Abu Dhabi government says was likely "state-sponsored" and not the work of terrorist groups.
The US has blamed the incidents on Iran,raising fears of a confrontation between the two arch-foes. Tehran has denied involvement.
The British Foreign Office said Friday that it was "almost certain that a branch of the Iranian military," the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, carried out the attack. In response, Iran summoned the British ambassador in Tehran on Saturday to protest the UK for "blindly and hastily following" the United States, according to the official IRNA news agency. 
The Saudi minister's comments were made at a meeting of G20 energy ministers in Japan, where delegates promised to collaborate to maintain stability in the oil market.
"The most important thing was that we have shared an understanding among energy ministers that we need to work together to deal with the recent incidents from an energy security point of view," Japanese Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko told reporters in Karuizawa.

Culled from dw

40-year-old teacher commits suicide

A 40-year-old man, Femi Oguntumi, was on Friday found hanged to a ceiling fan in his room at Dakata Quarters Kano.
Oguntumi was a staff of Karish College in Kawaji area of Kano and there has been no indication yet as to what led to the incident.
However, the police say they have launched a discreet investigation to determine whether it was suicide or not.
Abdullahi Haruna, the Police Public Relations Officer in Kano state, said in a statement on Saturday in Kano that the police received information on the incident at about 8:15 p.m on Friday.
He said that the body of the deceased was discovered hanged with a rope tied to a ceiling fan in his room in what looked like a suicide.
“On reaching the scene of the incident the police found his lifeless body and was rushed to Murtala Muhammad Specialist Hospital Kano where he was confirmed dead.
“The corpse of the deceased had been deposited at the said hospital.”
Haruna added that Police Commissioner Ahmed Iliyasu has ordered that discrete investigation be carried out to find out the cause of the unfortunate incident.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Brexit: Johnson threatens to withhold $50 billion payment

Boris Johnson, the leading candidate to succeed Theresa May as Britain’s next prime minister, said he would withhold a previously agreed 39 billion pound ($50 billion) Brexit payment until the European Union gives Britain better exit terms.
The EU has repeatedly said it will not reopen discussion of the Brexit transition deal it reached with May last year, which British lawmakers have rejected three times, prompting May to announce her resignation earlier this month.
May stepped down as leader of the governing Conservatives on Friday.
Johnson, a former foreign secretary in May’s cabinet, is popular with ordinary Conservative Party members, who will decide between the two candidates who come top in a series of votes by Conservative lawmakers over the coming weeks.
“I always thought it was extraordinary that we should agree to write that entire cheque before having a final deal. In getting a good deal, money is a great solvent and a great lubricant,” Johnson told the Sunday Times.
Britain is due to leave the EU on Oct. 31. If Parliament does not approve a deal – and the government does not ask the EU for another delay – there risks being major economic disruption from a disorderly departure.
The 39 billion pounds represents outstanding British liabilities to the EU, which would be paid over a number of years according to the withdrawal agreement negotiated by May.
Johnson also said border arrangements with Ireland should be settled only as part of a long-term agreement, rejecting a “backstop” which would avoid checks on Northern Ireland’s border but which Conservative lawmakers fear is a backdoor way of requiring Britain to continue to follow EU rules after Brexit.
The EU has said guarantees to keep the border open between Ireland and Northern Ireland are an essential part of the transition agreement.
Separately, one of Johnson’s rivals, environment minister Michael Gove, said he would scrap the value-added tax (VAT) levied on most goods and services and replace it with a lower U.S.-style sales tax.

Queen Elizabeth celebrates 93rd birthday with parade

Queen Elizabeth II on Saturday celebrated her 93rd birthday with a parade, a cause for Meghan, the duchess of Sussex and wife of Prince Harry, to make her first official engagement since the birth of their son Archie in May.
Elizabeth II is the Queen of the UK and the other Commonwealth realms, she was born in London as the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York, they later became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
The queen’s birthday falls on April 21, however, she traditionally plans birthday festivities for June due to the typically warmer weather.
The crowds were in luck: After a rainy morning, the sun popped out.
The queen arrived at the Horse Guards Parade near Buckingham Palace by carriage, where some 1,400 soldiers took part in the spectacle.
The queen’s husband, Prince Philip, who turns 98 years old on Monday, did not attend; he has rarely been seen in public since entering retirement.
Later on, the queen, with her family, are scheduled to watch the Red Arrows air show from the balcony of the palace.
The crowds were especially thrilled to see Meghan, who did not participate in the official events that took place for U.S. President Donald Trump’s three-day state visit to Britain this week.
Report says the former actress is considered a sharp critic of Trump’s policies.

Woman arrested for forcing daughter, 13, into prostitution

A homeless Romanian woman has been arrested in Sicily for forcing her 13-year-old daughter into prostitution, in return for which she would obtain money, cigarettes, drinks, the use of a shower or a place to sleep.
In a statement, Italian police said they also apprehended four men who sexually abused the teenager, including a 90-year-old.
“They will all face rape charges as the age of consent in Italy is 14,’’ police said.
They said that the events took place in the south-eastern province of Ragusa, where the girl worked illegally in greenhouse plantations.
Officers discovered the alleged sex crimes while investigating cases of rural labour exploitation.
According to police, she used to have sex with fellow land workers from Italy, Romania or North Africa, either on the fields or in abandoned houses.
Otherwise, older men would abuse her in return for hospitality for her and her mother.
“Instead of protecting her daughter, the mother would exploit her receiving in return sums of money or other benefits such as wine, beer, cigarettes, the use of a shower or a home where to sleep,’’ police said.

Normalise ties with us or face consequences – Iran warns Europe

Iran said on Sunday that Europe was not in a position to criticize Tehran for its military capabilities, and called on European leaders to normalize economic ties with the Islamic Republic despite U.S. sanctions or face consequences.
President Donald Trump last year withdrew the United States from a nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed sanctions. Trump has condemned a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, signed by his predecessor Barack Obama, as flawed for not being permanent and for not covering Iran’s ballistic missile program or its role in conflicts around the Middle East.
The European signatories to the deal – France, Britain and Germany – share the same concerns as the United States over Iran’s ballistic missile program and regional activities.
However, they have defended the nuclear accord saying that at least it puts curbs on Iran’s nuclear program and can be the basis for future talks.
“Europeans are not in a position to criticize Iran for issues outside the JCPOA,” Zarif was quoted as saying by the state broadcaster, using the acronym for the nuclear deal.
“The Europeans and other signatories of the JCPOA should normalize economic ties with Iran… We will halt our commitments or will take action in accordance to their measures.”
Iran last month stopped some commitments under the nuclear deal and warned that in 60 days it would scale back more commitments if Europeans fail to shield it against the U.S. sanctions.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will visit Iran this week, during which he will explore options for preserving the fraying nuclear non-proliferation pact.
Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani on Sunday also criticised French President Emmanuel Macron for saying last week in a meeting with Trump that they shared the same objectives on Iran.
Macron said France wanted to make sure Tehran will not get nuclear weapons: “We had an accord until 2025 and we want to go further and have full certainty in the long run… (Then) reduce ballistic activ ity and contain Iran regionally.”

Hong Kong protesters demonstrate against extradition bill

Tens of thousands of people are marching in Hong Kong against a law critics fear could let China target political opponents in the territory.
The controversial extradition bill would allow suspected criminals to be sent to mainland China for trial.
The protests are expected to be the biggest since the 2014 Umbrella Movement, which saw hundreds of thousands take to the streets.
The government says the bill has built-in protections and will plug loopholes.
Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam has pushed for the amendments to be passed before July. Supporters say safeguards are in place to prevent anyone facing religious or political persecution from being extradited to mainland China.
But the bill's critics say those in the former British colony would be exposed to China's deeply flawed justice system, and it would lead to further erosion of the city's judicial independence.
Protesters, dressed in white, marching in the sweltering heat, include a wide range of people - from business people and lawyers to students, pro-democracy figures and religious groups.
"This the end game for Hong Kong, it is a matter of life or death. That's why I come," Rocky Chang, a 59-year-old professor, told Reuters news agency. "This is an evil law."

What are the proposed changes?

The changes will allow for extradition requests from authorities in mainland China, Taiwan and Macau for suspects accused of criminal wrongdoings, such as murder and rape.
The requests will then be decided on a case-by-case basis.
Hong Kong officials have said Hong Kong courts will have the final say over whether to grant such extradition requests, and suspects accused of political and religious crimes will not be extradited.
The government has sought to reassure the public with some concessions, including promising to only hand over fugitives for offences carrying maximum sentences of at least seven years.
There has been a lot of public opposition, and critics say people would be subject to arbitrary detention, unfair trial and torture under China's judicial system.

Why the change now?

The latest proposal has come after a 19-year-old Hong Kong man allegedly murdered his 20-year-old pregnant girlfriend, while holidaying in Taiwan together in February last year. The man fled Taiwan and returned to Hong Kong last year.
Taiwanese officials have sought help from Hong Kong authorities to extradite the man, but Hong Kong officials say they cannot comply because of a lack of extradition agreement with Taiwan.
But the Taiwanese government has said it will not seek to extradite the murder suspect under the proposed changes, and has urged Hong Kong to handle the case separately.

Isn't Hong Kong under Chinese rule anyway?

A former British colony, Hong Kong is semi-autonomous under the principle of "one country, two systems" after it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
The city has its own laws and its residents enjoy civil liberties unavailable to their mainland counterparts.
Hong Kong has entered into extradition agreements with 20 countries, including the UK and the US, but no such agreements have been reached with mainland China despite ongoing negotiations in the past two decades.
Critics have attributed such failures to poor legal protection for defendants under Chinese law.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

US, Mexico sign agreement to slow immigration, avoid tariffs

President Donald Trump had threatened tariffs on all Mexican imports unless Mexico acted to slow illegal migration into the US. A new deal means it has avoided the threat, he announced.
The United States and Mexico have signed an agreement to tackle illegal migration across their border, US President Donald Trump announced on Friday.
In May, Trump unexpectedly announced a 5% tariff on all Mexican imports unless Mexico took decisive action to tackle border issues.
"I am pleased to inform you that The United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico. The Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the US on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended," he said on Twitter.
"Mexico, in turn, has agreed to take strong measures to stem the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to our Southern Border. This is being done to greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States."
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said in a tweet: "There will be no application of tariffs by the US on Monday. Thanks to all the people who have supported us, showing Mexico's greatness."
The announcement came after officials from both countries held a third day of talks at the US State Department, negotiating over Trump's demands. The talks were reportedly focused on making it harder for Central American migrants to pass through Mexico and claim asylum in the US. 
In recent days, Mexico had increased measures against migration. Two migrant caravan leaders were arrested, hundreds of people were deported and 26 people suspected of involvement in people smuggling and the organization of caravans had their bank accounts frozen.
After Trump's announcement, the State Department said Mexico will take "unprecedented steps" to "curb irregular migration," including deploying its National Guard along its southern border.
It added that Mexico "is also taking decisive action to dismantle human smuggling and trafficking organizations."
The US will send asylum-seekers back to Mexico as their applications are processed. 

Greece: Athens' first mosque to open this year

Greece's largest city is the only European capital without an official mosque. Despite years of opposition from the conservatives and the Orthodox Church, that's set to change later this year.
Athens' first official mosque is set to open in the coming months after a decadeslong fight for its construction by the country's minority Muslim population.

"We hope the first prayer will be in September," said Minister of Education and Religion Kostas Gavroglou on Friday.
The minister toured the nearly completed site, which is designed to accommodate some 350 people, on the outskirts of the city center with members of the local Muslim community.
"Athens finally has a house of prayer for Muslims," he said, according to radio broadcaster Athens 984.
Parliament approved final plans to build the mosque in 2016 in partial response to the spread of illegal sites of worship throughout Athens and the surrounding area.
Athens is the only European capital without an official mosque. Fierce opposition from Greek conservatives and the Orthodox Church has frustrated efforts to build one, despite support for the project dating back to the 1890s.
A government-appointed executive board will oversee the mosque and select its imam. Sermons will only be permitted in Greek, the ministry said, but the prayers are expected to take place in Arabic.
"I would like to start by thanking Allah that we finally have a mosque where we can pray, we can gather, we can talk," said Zaki Mohamed, who will be the mosque's first imam.
Ashir Haidar, a representative of Greece's Shia Muslim community, said the mosque was "a great gift from the Greek state to the Muslim community of Athens."
Greece repurposed or destroyed its mosques after it declared independence from the Muslim-majority Ottoman Empire in 1821. Some were later constructed near the country's border with Turkey, where up to 150,000 Muslims live.

Lesbians attacked on London bus for refusing to kiss for men

Four men have been arrested after two lesbians were beaten up in what London police have called a disgusting homophobic assault. One of the victims described how the men taunted and punched the couple before fleeing.
A lesbian couple who refused to kiss in front of a gang of men were beaten up and robbed on a London bus, it emerged on Friday.
Police said the incident happened in the early hours of May 30 after the two women boarded a double-decker night bus in the northern suburb of West Hampstead.
"As they sat on the top deck they were approached by a group of four males who began to make lewd and homophobic comments to them," police said in a statement.

Punched and robbed

The women were then attacked and punched several times before the men ran off the bus. A phone and bag were stolen during the assault.
Both women were taken to hospital for treatment to facial injuries, police said.
The Metropolitan Police later confirmed that four men, aged 15 to 18, had been arrested on suspicion of robbery and aggravated grievous bodily harm (hate crime), and further suspects were being sought.
One of the victims, 28-year-old Melania Geymonat from Uruguay, described how she and her girlfriend, Chris, were left covered in blood following the attack.
"They started behaving like hooligans, demanding that we kissed so they could enjoy watching, calling us 'lesbians' and describing sexual positions," she wrote on Facebook.
"They kept on harassing us, throwing us coins and becoming more enthusiastic about it. The next thing I know is that Chris is in the middle of the bus fighting with them. On an impulse, I went over there only to find her face bleeding and three of them beating her up. The next thing I know is I'm being punched."

Germany: Trio convicted of killing gay man

Three intoxicated men, aged 22 to 26, have been sentenced for beating a gay man to death in a railroad yard in Chemnitz last year. The prosecution said the group's extreme right-wing views played no role in the killing.
A court in the eastern German city of Chemnitz has convicted three men of manslaughter in the killing of a 27-year-old gay man in a nearby town.
The court sentenced 26-year-old Terenc H. to 14 years in prison and Stephan H. and Jens H., both 22 years old, to 11 years each.
The trio, who were drunk and high on drugs, beat up Christopher W. in the town of Aue in April 2018 before kicking his head after they put it up against a concrete wall.
Chief prosecutor Stephan Butzkies said it was not proven that either the group's extreme right-wing views or the homophobic views of one of the group members motivated the killing.
The crime instead resulted from a "singular dynamic" that had developed in the lead-up to the assault.

Neymar sponsors withdraw ads after rape accusation

A woman who has accused Brazilian soccer star Neymar of raping her in a Paris hotel has testified to Sao Paulo police. His sponsors are backing out, but Neymar still enjoys massive support in his home country.
Sponsors of Brazilian football megastar Neymar have suspended advertising campaigns following an alleged rape scandal, his agents said Friday.
A 26-year-old model has accused the star striker for Paris Saint-Germain of raping her in a Paris hotel in May.
She spent about six hours giving a statement to Sao Paulo police on Friday, braving the assembled media scrum. The case has gripped the football-loving nation.
Earlier in the week, Neymar also spoke to police after intimate WhatsApp messages and photos of his alleged victim were leaked online. He blamed an assistant and a technician for the leak.
His alleged victim told Brazilian media she had suffered "aggression together with rape" at the hands of the player. She alleged he was angered after she refused to have unprotected sex. He allegedly continued anyway and hit her repeatedly.
NR Sports, rights holders of Neymar's name and image, said no sponsorship contracts had been canceled, though it detailed which campaigns had been suspended.
"All the partners, for obvious reasons, are alert and aware of the unfolding events," the statement said.
Nike said earlier in the week that it was "very concerned" about the rape accusation. Mastercard told Reuters news agency it had planned an advertising campaign, but did not confirm reports it had decided to suspend Neymar's role in the project.
Neymar, one of football's biggest names, has enjoyed a surge of support among Brazilians in the wake of the accusations. Polls show more than 60% of Brazilians believe he is blameless, and even far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has publicly declared his innocence.

US sets Turkey deadline to give up Russian missile deal

Turkey has until July 31 to "unwind" a deal to buy an S-400 missile defense system from Russia, the US has warned. The ongoing dispute between the two NATO allies could reach breaking point.
Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Friday wrote to his Turkish counterpart, warning him of the consequences Ankara would face if it did not step back from a deal to buy a Russian air defense system. 

What Shanahan's letter says

  • If the Ankara government proceeds with its deal with Moscow, Washington will unwind the country's participation in the F-35 fighter jet program.
  • Turkey will be forbidden from taking final delivery of the four F-35s it recently ordered.
  • Training for Turkish personnel on the F-35 will be discontinued from the end of July.
  • All Turkish personnel on the program must leave the US by the end of that month.

Why the ultimatum?

Turkey has given strong signals that it is moving ahead with the S-400 purchase, despite US pressure.
Ankara confirmed last month that Turkish military personnel were receiving training in Russia to use the S-400, and that Russian personnel may go to Turkey. Moscow, meanwhile, has said the first deliveries of the missile system could begin in two months.

Why the S-400 program is a threat

The S-400 is designed to shoot down an aircraft like the F-35 stealth fighter jet, leaving US technology vulnerable to any Turkish-Russian collaboration. Washington has said Turkey can't have both.
As a key NATO member, Turkey's deal with Russia's military could undermine its ties with Europe and the US.
Washington is also concerned that Turkey could become over-dependent on Russia strategically and economically.
Kathryn Wheelbarger, one of the Pentagon's most senior policy officials, said last week that Turkey's deal with Russia would deal heavy blows to the F-35 program and to Turkish interoperability within the NATO alliance.

What other action could Washington take?

The US has also threatened economic sanctions, which would hit Turkey hard. Since 2018, the country has been mired in a serious currency and economic crisis. Inflation and unemployment have skyrocketed. Last year's US tariffs on steel and aluminum further aggravated the country's woes.

2 Mozambique Police Trainers Impregnate 15 Female Police Trainees

  The Mozambican government has expelled two police training instructors after they were found guilty of impregnating a total of 15 students...