Turkey’s Hagia Sophia Museum Reconverted Into A Mosque

Erdogan has signed a presidential decree which hands over Hagia Sophia to Turkey's Presidency of Religious Affairs.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently announced that the world famous Hagia Sophia museum will be turned into a mosque, and open to Muslims for worship very soon.

This decision was made just an hour after a top administrative court annulled the site’s “museum status.” The court has pointed out that the cabinet’s decision to convert it from a mosque to a museum in 1934 “did not comply with laws” and have subsequently overturned this decision. They also reviewed a petition which was fighting for the right to be able to pray in the building, which up until now was prohibited.

Erdogan has signed a presidential decree which hands over Hagia Sophia to Turkey’s Presidency of Religious Affairs. 

The news of this transformation was met with overjoyed religious Muslim Turks outside the building and on the streets of Istanbul. It now means that people are no longer prohibited from praying inside the building, which has caused outrage over the years. The first prayer is set for July 24 2020.

Since it is one of Turkey’s most visited tourist attractions, with a staggering 3.8 million visitors last year in 2019, it will be open to visitors just like its neighbor the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed). 

This historic site, revered by both Christians and Muslims, marveled at by millions of tourists, and visited by world leaders has undergone many transformations throughout its lifetime. Where to begin?

The building was initially built as a church in Constantinople – modern day Istanbul – in the year 537 under the Byzantine emperor Constantius. 

It was then converted into a mosque in 1453 by the great conqueror of Constantinople and prominent leader of the Ottoman Empire: the young Mehmet II. 

Not too long ago it was converted into a museum in 1943 by the founder of Turkey: Ataturk, who adopted a more secular approach and believed the site would be better as a neutral monument without any religious affiliations. 

While the Muslims of Turkey rejoice over another beautiful mosque which will be used to worship Allah, Erdogan’s decision has also faced backlash from the international community. The Hagia Sophia is in fact a UNESCO World Heritage site, and hence the organization feels it should remain as a museum. 

Countries including the United States, Russia and Greece have publicly criticized Erdogan’s decision. However, in a recent public announcement, Erdogan said: “We of course welcome all ideas from the international community about this issue. However, the issue of deciding the purpose of the Hagia Sophia is about the sovereign rights of Turkey.”

READ MORE: 5 Verses On Justice In The Quran

Muhammad Muhaymin: Bodycam Footage Reveals Detailed Death By Police

“I can’t breathe,” said Muhaymin before he died in custody of the Phoenix police.

Muhammad Muhaymin: Bodycam Footage Reveals Detailed Death By Police

“I can’t breathe,” said Muhaymin before he died in custody of the Phoenix police.

By

Sara S. & Zainab Damji

Photo of Muhammad Muhaymin

MUSLIM.CO HAS PUT TOGETHER A PETITION TO SEEK JUSTICE FOR MUHAMMAD MUHAYMIN THAT CAN BE SIGNED HERE.

In the midst of a movement demanding change and reform, the Black community fights for justice once again as they are reminded of the loss of Muhammad Muhaymin Jr. 

Muhaymin died in custody of the Phoenix Police on January 4, 2017 after he tried to take his emotional support dog into a public restroom with him at a community center. Muhaymin is reported to have suffered from schizophrenia, anxiety and intermittent homelessness.

The manager present at the center prevented Muhaymin from entering the restroom and asked him to leave his dog outside, which resulted in an argument between the two. The manager then directed an employee to call 911, and in minutes  several Phoenix police officers arrived at the scene.

They attempted to alleviate the situation by allowing Muhaymin to use the restroom only to tackle him to the ground minutes later after a background check was done on Muhaymin and a warrant for his arrest was found on his record due to his failure to appear in court over a misdemeanor charge for possession of a marijuana pipe. 

Muhaymin was tackled to the ground outside the facility with four officers on top of him. 

Bodycam footage shows Muhaymin crying out “I can’t breathe” multiple times. 

Muhaymin was tackled to the ground outside the facility with four officers on top of him. In his last eight minutes before he took his final breath, body-cam footage shows Muhaymin crying out “Please Allah” and one of the officers who was trying to place him in cuffs responding, “Allah? He’s not going to help you now, just relax.”

Muhaymin’s shrieks and utterances became groans. His body went limp, and moments later, an officer can be heard saying “He’s dead.”

The circumstances of the deaths of George Floyd and Muhammad Muhaymin are similar. However, while the four officers involved in Floyd’s death were terminated and are now facing criminal charges, in Muhaymin’s case, none of the officers who responded to the call faced any discipline or consequences for their actions.

CNN reports that all of them remain on the force and one is now a detective.

Several petitions have been put together to demand justice for Muhammad Muhaymin including discipline and conviction of the officers involved. You can sign the petition for Muhammad Muhaymin here.

Starbucks Employee Writes “ISIS” On Cup Of Muslim Student In Minneapolis

The incident took place at the Starbucks store inside the Midway Target at 1300 University Ave in St. Paul, MN.

On Wednesday of last week, a 19-year-old Minneapolis college student named Aishah was making a routine stop at a local Starbucks on her way to work. When her order arrived, the word “ISIS” was written on her drink instead of her name. The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) is speaking out against this unacceptable behavior, which occurred on July 1.

The incident took place at the Starbucks store inside the Midway Target at 1300 University Ave in St. Paul, MN. Aishah, who declined to give her last name to the media out of concern for her safety, was on her way to her job as a home care worker. 

CAIR-MN is demanding that the Starbucks worker in question be fired, as well as the manager who said it was a “mistake.” When reached for comment by CBS Minnesota, a representative for Starbucks shifted the burden of responsibility, saying that it was actually a Target employee involved and that Target will be conducting an investigation. Technically, the employee is one of Target despite having been wearing a Starbucks uniform due to licensing rights at Target Starbucks locations.

Target provided CBS Minnesota with the following statement regarding the incident:

“At Target, we want everyone who shops with us to feel welcomed, valued and respected and we strictly prohibit discrimination and harassment in any form. We are very sorry for this guest’s experience at our store and immediately apologized to her when she made our store leaders aware of the situation. We have investigated the matter and believe that it was not a deliberate act but an unfortunate mistake that could have been avoided with more clarification. We’re taking appropriate actions with the team member, including additional training, to ensure this does not occur again.”

More information to come.

READ MORE: AOC Pens Letter Against Israel’s Annexation Of Palestinian Territory With Support Of Lawmakers

AOC Pens Letter Against Israel’s Annexation Of Palestinian Territory With Support Of Lawmakers

Ocasio-Cortez’s office says the trigger for conditioning aid includes settlements and other policies that are “laying the groundwork” for annexation.

U.S. representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez penned a letter opposing Israel’s annexation proposals of Palestinian land with the backing of a dozen lawmakers and is gathering legislators’ signatures on a letter urging the Trump administration to take steps to block Israel’s planned annexation. A coalition of progressive Democratic politicians, rights groups and Jewish groups are also calling for withholding US military aid to Israel in response to planned annexation of Palestinian territories by Israel.

The letter addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that the annexation would “lay the groundwork for Israel becoming an apartheid state,” and pledges that the lawmakers would work to block future aid to Israel.

Ocasio-Cortez’s office said the trigger for conditioning aid includes settlements and other policies that are “laying the groundwork” for annexation.

 “The United States must remain committed to a future in which all Israelis and Palestinians live with full rights, dignity, and democracy,”  Ocasio-Cortez and a dozen other legislators said in the letter.

“We therefore urge you to make clear to the Israeli government that such a move is unacceptable,” they said in the letter. 

“We will include human rights conditions and the withholding of funds for the offshore procurement of Israeli weapons equal to or exceeding the amount the Israeli government spends annually to fund settlements, as well as the policies and practices that sustain and enable them,” the letter also stated.

“Members of Congress should not be expected to support an undemocratic system in which Israel would permanently rule over a Palestinian people denied self-determination or equal rights.”

The statement was endorsed by more than 20 advocacy groups, including the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), Arab American Institute (AAI), CodePink, Jewish Voice for Peace Action and IfNotNow.

Senator Bernie Sanders and other progressives who signed the letter issued statements opposing annexation in strong terms.“I have long believed that the United States needs to engage in an even-handed approach toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Sanders said in a statement. 

Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American, said the Netanyahu government uses aid “to formalize an apartheid system.” 

“Unilateral annexation is a violation of international law, a violation of Palestinian human rights, and directly counter to American values of democracy and self-determination,” Rep. Ilhan Omar said.

 

Five other letters are circulating in the US Jewish community demanding accountability for the Israeli government and concrete actions by US Jewish institutions if a planned annexation goes forward. Those letters have drawn more than 3,200 signatures, according to IfNotNow, a US Jewish group that opposes the occupation. “It is time to stop holding America’s number one recipient of military funding – Israel – to a lower standard than we hold all other countries, exempting it from consequences when it violates our most basic values,” said Emily Mayer, political director of IfNotNow.

The letter was condemned by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee as harmful to America’s interests before the statement or its signers were finalized.

Netanyahu aims to start the process of annexation by Wednesday, saying he wants to begin annexing West Bank territory in line with President Trump’s plans. But with recent developments and stiff international criticism, it’s uncertain whether Israel will ultimately follow through on the explosive annexation initiative.

READ MORE:  Israel Expected To Move Forward With Annexation Plans, Leaving Palestinians Hopeless

Photo Of Three-Year-Old Kashmiri Child Sitting On Grandfather’s Corpse Creates Outrage

Viral picture of the three-year-old has caused an uproar with the family accusing armed forces of killing the victim.

Photo Of Three-Year-Old Kashmiri Child Sitting On Grandfather’s Corpse Creates Outrage

Viral picture of the three-year-old has caused an uproar with the family accusing armed forces of killing the victim.

By

Mirza Fardeen
Photo from viral video footage, courtesy of witnesses.

A photo showing a three-year old child sitting on his grandpa’s corpse in Sopore town of Indian-administered Kashmir has outraged residents of the region with the family of the deceased accusing the security forces of killing the 65-year old civilian Bashir Ahmed Khan during a clash with the rebels in the world’s most militarized region.

Soon after Ahmed’s death, the photos of his grandson from the encounter site flooded the internet, including a heart-rending shot showing the child sitting and crying on top of his grandfather’s corpse.

A series of pictures by an unidentified person were widely shared on social media shortly after the gun battle. Hundreds of angry people staged anti-India protests, accusing the government forces of using the child’s images as PR stunt. Social media users also slammed a viral video that purportedly showed a member of the security forces standing over Ahmed’s dead body. 

Suhail Ahmed, the victim’s son, said on Thursday that his father, Bashir Ahmed Khan (deceased), was “dragged out of his car and shot in cold blood” in front of his 3-year-old grandson during a gun battle on Wednesday between Indian troops and rebels in northwestern Sopore town. He said troops later placed the child on his father’s chest and reportedly took pictures.

Ahmed’s family has released a video message on social media, accusing Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel of dragging him out of his car and shooting him at point blank range, the Jammu & Kashmir Police denied the claims and said he died in the exchange of fire with rebels. The family said the man was a small-time petty employee who earned 6,000 rupees ($80) per month.

While this photo triggered an uproar on social media, with individuals online demanding justice for the family, accusing security forces for placing a 3-year old at the center of a propaganda war and doing theatrics and PR stunts with 3-year old life. The right-wing and the ruling party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were busy mocking the picture of dead civilians. A spokesman for India’s ruling Hindu nationalist BJP faced criticism for mocking the picture of the dead civilian.

 

 

The right-wing and BJP IT Cell were glorifying the Indian Army for saving the toddler, demeaning the opposition leaders, accusing Pakistan of sponsoring the rebels, accusing leftists of white-washing the terror acts of militants, calling out Islamic-Jihad and terrorism, with anti-Muslim bigots hawking hate against Muslims and spitting their regular communal hatred. But nowhere showing a grain of humanity for the dead civilian and his 3 year old grandson who witnessed such an incident. For them such incidents are all about political gains and demonizing the opposition. 

Hundreds of people in Kashmir staged protests on Wednesday in the wake of the killing. Later on Wednesday, hundreds assembled at the man’s funeral near Srinagar, shouting “We want freedom.”

READ MORE: UN Removes Saudi Arabia From ‘Blacklist Of Warring Parties’ For War Crimes In Yemen

China Forces Birth Control On Uyghur Women To Suppress Muslim Population, Says New Report

China had initially denied the existence of the detention camps before justifying them as a “necessary measure against terrorism.”

Written by Wali Ahmed & Nawal Qadir

China has allegedly been forcefully subjecting Uyghur women to various birth control methods in an attempt to reduce and eliminate the minority population, according to a report by China specialist Adrian Zenz.  The news comes as Uyghurs continue to be detained in concentration camps in Xinjiang. It is believed that approximately one million Uyghur people, as well as other minority groups, are being held in what China refers to as “re-education” camps.  

China has responded by calling it “fake news,” stating that the allegations are “baseless.” However, China had initially denied the existence of the detention camps before justifying them as a “necessary measure against terrorism.”

Zenz’s report states that since 2016, reproductive autonomy and its associated human rights have continuously been interfered with in Xinjiang. Uyghur women who refuse to abort pregnancies that exceed the quota of two children are threatened to be forced into internment camps. It additionally states that women with fewer than two children were forced to have sterilization surgeries or take intra-uterine devices (IUDs). Formerly detained individuals also say that they were given injections to halt their periods.

However, the Han Chinese population are reportedly spared the various birth control measures forced on Xinjiang’s ethnic minorities.

 

READ MORE: Trump Signs Bill Rebuking China’s Treatment Of Uyghur Muslims

 

An investigation by AP News has found that the humanitarian violations are far more widespread and systemic than previously thought.  The investigation shows that the current treatment of Uyghur Muslims in these camps could amount to “demographic genocide,” meaning that China could successfully and covertly eradicate the Uyghur population in just a few generations.  “This is part of a wider control campaign to subjugate the Uyghurs,” Zenz said. “Overall, it is likely that Xinjiang authorities are engaging in the mass sterilization of women with three or more children.”

Joanne Smith Finley, Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies at Newcastle University goes further, saying ““It’s genocide, full stop.” “It’s not immediate, shocking, mass-killing on the spot type genocide – but it’s slow, painful, creeping genocide.”

Adrian Zenz’s data suggests that the natural population growth in predominantly Uyghur regions  has fallen by more than 60% between 2015 and 2018, a drop which he describes as “unprecedented” and “ruthless.”

“These findings provide the strongest evidence yet that Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang meet one of the genocide criteria cited in the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide” says Zenz in his report.

One former Uyghur detainee, Zumret Dawut, was forcibly sterilized along with 200 others. Dawut was put into an internment camp for two months for holding an American visa. She had later returned home but was placed under house arrest, was forced to have gynaecological exams on a monthly basis, and was threatened to be placed in a camp again should she not comply.

“They want to eliminate us, but they can’t kill all of us,” she said. “They’re doing it step by step with policies such as sterilization, imprisonment, separating men and women and making them work as forced laborers.” 

Forced sterilization isn’t a new trend for China, which for a long time had a one-child-per-household policy. However, in recent years, and especially under President Xi Jinping, the sterilization programs have been concentrated in the Uyghur minority areas, turning the countryside region of Xinjiang from one of the fastest growing populations in China to the slowest in just a few years. 

 

The news of forced birth control methods come as an addition to the internment and forced labour in Uyghur detention camps, as well as the separation of Uyghur children from their parents in order to indoctrinate them, practices that have been widely criticized by human rights organizations around the world, and which China continues to deny or defend.

 

Israel Expected To Move Forward With Annexation Plans, Leaving Palestinians Hopeless

Israel plans to annex Palestinian territory as part of its 'peace plan', starting July 1st.

Israel’s expulsion of the Palestinian people from their homes and subsequent occupation of their land has been an ongoing tragedy since at least 1948. Now with the latest developments in Israel’s policy of expansion and occupation, this historic land is set to  become even more divided. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to bring new annexation proposals of the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea before the cabinet from 1 July.

So, what is annexation?

Annexation describes when one state unilaterally (without permission of the other) incorporates  neighboring territory from another state into its borders. Annexation is usually considered illegal according to international law.

No surprise, Prime Minister Netanyahu made things starkly clear, when on May 28 2020  he explained that if his government goes ahead with unilateral annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank, thousands of Palestinian residents would be granted neither citizenship nor equal rights. 

The occupied Palestinian territories have been under Israeli military control since 1967, making it the longest ongoing occupation in modern history. The segmented territories include Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Gaza Strip is a small coastal area bordering Egypt to the south, and the West Bank is the kidney bean-shaped area that lies west of the banks of the Jordan River, from where it gets its name. A total of 5 million people occupy these areas.

 

Photo - Al Jazeera

 

The Illegal Israeli Settlements:

Israeli settlements are Jewish communities built on Palestinian land. There are between 600,000 – 750,000 Israeli settlers living in at least 250 settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem; almost half of these settlements are not officially recognized by the state but have been established regardless

Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its population to the area it occupies.

In 2019, the Trump administration declared that Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land were “not necessarily illegal,” a substantial break from decades of US foreign policy.

 

Photo - Al Jazeera

 

The latest annexation plans to be confirmed by the Israeli prime minister would pose a serious threat to the Palestinians. The annexation of the Jordan Valley would completely surround the Palestinians with Israeli borders.  Currently, Israeli settlers in the Jordan Valley receive 18 times more water on average than Palestinian residents in the West Bank; most Palestinian farmers are not connected to the water grid and have to rely on buying water from tankers. Annexation would mean that Palestinians would be physically cut off from the Jordan River, forcing Palestinians to be without a vital water source. This annexation would also pave the way for more settlements to be built; currently, any new  construction in the West Bank requires the approval of Israel’s defense minister and prime minister which can take months or even years. Following annexation, Israel would consider the Jordan Valley part of its territory and so any construction would become a domestic matter and wouldn’t require such approval.  

 

Photo - Al Jazeera

 

Palestinian views on this annexation plans:

The Palestinian leadership, along with almost 50 experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council, say that annexation would formalize a system of “apartheid” in the West Bank – two peoples ruled by one state in the same space with unequal rights. Now, in a bid to increase international pressure to avert annexation, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says the Palestinian Authority is no longer bound by agreements with Israel and the US, including on security. Some also fear that suspension of such agreements, if fully delivered, could result in  a collapse of the PA and potentially lead to chaos in the West Bank. Amid the bitter divisions in Palestinian politics, the militant group Hamas – the main rival of President Abbas’ Fatah movement – could try to capitalize and is warning of a confrontation with Israel. Abbas said annexation would amount to the “destruction” of a future Palestinian state, and suggests accepting current plans make the PA “a bunch of traitors – that we will not be.”

Annexation will make things worse: short-term risks include the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, a crisis in Israel’s relations with Jordan and Egypt with its de facto allies in the Gulf, and, above all, a resurgence of violence that could make the last intifada look mild. It will also destabilize an already volatile region, offering rich opportunities for Iran and Hezbollah, the Islamist militant party in Lebanon, to further exploit and destabilize the region.

And as usual the Palestinian people will suffer directly. Annexation will lead to massive expropriation – the taking of private property by the state – automatic in some cases, of Palestinian land and property, the subsequent expulsion of individuals, families and entire communities from the annexed territories, in addition to the above listed socio-political threats. And the situation in blockaded Gaza, home to two million Palestinians, will undoubtedly worsen.

If annexation of any territory goes ahead it will flagrantly breach international law and countless UN resolutions, and  cannot be ignored. Israel should and must face sanctions. Worst of all,  it will signal the failure of what for decades has been rightly seen as the only possible solution to the world’s most divisive conflict – two sovereign states for the two peoples who inhabit the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river. And that suggests a future without hope for the Palestinians.

READ MORE: Israeli Forces Kill Young Palestinian Man At A Checkpoint In Occupied West Bank

Three Men Indicted On Murder Charges For Killing Of Ahmaud Arbery

Ahmaud Arbery’s death and trial has reached global attention and is one of the most recent racially-motivated murder cases to fuel anti-racism protests in the US and abroad.

A grand jury in the US state of Georgia has indicted three white men on nine separate counts, including felony murder, in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.

“This is another positive step, another great step for finding justice for Ahmaud, for finding justice for this family and the community beyond,” District Attorney Joyette Holmes said following the jury’s announcement.

The accused – Gregory McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, and their neighbour William Bryan – were arrested last month in connection to Arbery’s death, following a cell phone video of the shooting being leaked online.

The video had been taken by Mr Bryan who was giving chase to Arbery alongside the McMichaels, and shows Travis McMichael shooting Arbery with his shotgun following a struggle between the two men. Arbery was unarmed. Earlier this month, it was alleged by a state investigator that Travis McMichael was heard saying a racial slur as he stood over Arbery, moments after shooting him dead.

Gregory McMichael has claimed he suspected Arbery of burglary and had attacked his son Travis before being shot.

 

 

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The incident took place on Feb. 23, 2020 in Brunswick’s Satilla Shores, a predominantly white neighbourhood, where Arbery was jogging. After spotting Arbery on their CCTV, the McMichaels armed themselves with a pistol and shotgun pursued him in their pickup truck. 

A testimony from a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent explained how Arbery ended up in a fight with Travis McMichael.

“I believe Mr. Arbery was being pursued, and he ran ‘till he couldn’t run anymore, and it was turn his back to a man with a shotgun or fight with his bare hands against the man with the shotgun. He chose to fight,” Special Agent in Charge Richard Dial said.

William Bryan had followed the McMichaels in his own vehicle soon after. An arrest warrant for Bryan stated that he “utilized his vehicle on multiple occasions” in an illegal attempt to “confine and detain” Arbery in the lead up to his death. 

Mr Bryan’s lawyer, Kevin Gough, has repeatedly stated that his client was merely a witness. “We’re disappointed that the district attorney chose to indict Mr. Bryan,” he said. “But at the same time we’ve been demanding a speedy trial from day one. The presentation of this case to the grand jury brings us one step closer to our day in court.”

Ahmaud Arbery’s death and trial has reached global attention and is one of the most recent racially-motivated murder cases to fuel anti-racism protests in the US and abroad.

Reacting to the jury’s indictment, Mr Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, told NBC Nightly News: “At this point I do believe the case is moving in the right direction.

“This just empowers us to fight. This is just the first steps of it – we still have a long way to go.”

READ MORE: What They Did To Ahmaud Arbery Was A Modern Day Lynching

Israeli Forces Kill Young Palestinian Man At A Checkpoint In Occupied West Bank

Ahmed was on his way to pick his sister and mother up from a salon, as it was his sister's wedding day.

Ahmed Erekat was shot dead by Israeli forces at the West Bank checkpoint this Tuesday on his way to pick up his sister from a salon ahead of her wedding that night. 

The Israeli border police said they shot and killed Ahmed Erekat who they say attempted to run over a female officer at a checkpoint in Abu Dis, a Palestinian village east of Jerusalem.

The Israeli police say the officer was “injured lightly”. 

Palestinian officials reject this account of Ahmed’s death and allegations by the Israeli police that Ahmed Erekat had tried to run over an Israeli officer.

Palestinians and human rights groups have accused Israeli security forces of using excessive force, and in this case, opening fire on a car that merely lost control.

Senior Palestinian Official Hanan Ashrawi says Israel has a “kill first, justify later” policy that they need to be “held accountable for”.

Noura Erakat, a human rights attorney based in the US, is Ahmed’s older cousin. She said in a tweet that the police left Ahmed to bleed for 1.5 hours. 

Palestinian news agency Wafa reports that the director of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Bethlehem confirmed that an Israeli soldier prevented Palestinian medical personnel from approaching Erekat and he was left to bleed.

Erekat’s uncle, Saeb Erekat, said that the police allegation of an attempted car ramming was “impossible”, saying that Ahmed was engaged and due to get married himself very soon.

Noura Erakat said Ahmed was “pressed for time to pick up his sisters, the flowers, and all these other things from Bethlehem, we are 100 percent sure he would never do this. Why would he do this on his sister’s wedding day?”

 

READ MORE: Police Kill 62-Year-Old Ejaz Choudry After Undergoing Schizophrenia Episode In His Apartment

Canada’s Jagmeet Singh Removed From House Of Commons For Calling Out Racism

Singh was putting forward a motion to reduce and prevent systemic racism in the RCMP, Canada’s federal police force.

Canada’s Jagmeet Singh Removed From House Of Commons For Calling Out Racism

Singh was putting forward a motion to reduce and prevent systemic racism in the RCMP, Canada’s federal police force.

By

Nabeeha Asim & Wali Ahmad

Photo - Getty Images / Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

Canadian New Democratic Party leader and member of parliament Jagmeet Singh was removed from the House of Commons for having unapologetically called Bloc Québécois’s Alain Therrien, also a member of parliament, a racist. Singh’s comment came after Therrien became the sole vote against a motion to combat systemic racism in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) earlier this week.

Addressing the House, Singh highlighted the motion’s four main components, which consists of “reviewing the nearly 10 million dollar a day RCMP budget and increase non police investments in nonviolent intervention, insure that the RCMP is truly accountable to the public, releasing all RCMP incidents of “use-of-force” reports, and immediately launching a full report on the use-of-force by the RCMP including the tactics and the training that is given to them in dealing with the public.”  

After Singh had explained the motion, Anthony Rota, speaker of the House of Commons, asked the House for consent to move the motion; in an almost unanimous crowd of “yeses”, however, Singh was shocked to hear one “no” from Therrien, who dismissed the motion with the wave of his hand. Angered, he immediately called Therrien out for being racist. Singh, seen as too emotional, was instantaneously marked down in value by Therrien’s political party for the “altercation.” He was also prompted by Rota and other Bloc Quebecois members of parliament to apologize, which Singh refused to do. Singh was then told to leave the House for the remainder of the proceeding.

Hours later, Singh provided a more detailed account of what had transpired and further described how he felt in light of Therrien’s dissent. “Why can’t we act, why can’t we do something to save peoples lives? We can do something, and why would someone say no to that?” Singh told the media. “I’ll be honest, I got angry, but I’m now sad.”

Reactions by the other party leaders were mixed. Prime Minister of Canada and Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau took to the media to defend Singh. “It is not for me to criticize any Canadian, particularly the only racialized leader in the House of Commons, for making other people uncomfortable by calling them out for not recognizing systemic discrimination”, he said. “It remains problematic that the Bloc Québécois refuses to recognize systemic racism in the RCMP and this country.” 

Singh, although touched by the show of support, implied that kind words are not enough. “We need to see action,” he said. “That’s what I’m calling for, concrete action to end the use of force and the brutality and the lives being lost.”

READ MORE: Police Kill 62-Year-Old Ejaz Choudry After Undergoing Schizophrenia Episode In His Apartment

On the other hand, Yves-Francois Blanchet, Leader of Bloc Québécois, demanded a formal apology. Blanchet fears that having no severe consequences associated with Singhs actions will encourage “everybody [to] feel entitled to do the same”, claiming that Therrien’s dismissive hand gesture that resulted in Singh’s exclamation was “open to interpretation” and was not “explicit” enough for everyone to have understood.

Ironically, many Canadians have taken the view that the removal of Singh for his justified reaction to the dissent of a motion that combats systemic racism, is a racist reaction in and of itself. The call for a motion addressing systemic racism in the federal police comes in response to the heightened concerns surrounding racism and police brutality highlighted by the now-global Black Lives Matter movement. Singh highlighted that the creation of the motion was a result of the ongoing protests to fight racism, and that this issue is equally prominent in Canada as it is in the United States. 

The removal of Singh from the House proceeding was essentially a move to silent a person with lived experiences of racism from speaking out about what many find to be a hard-to-accept truth.

This is not the first time that members and candidates of the Bloc Québécois Party have been under fire for racist sentiment. In October 2019, Canadian media outlets uncovered numerous Islamophobic and racist social media posts either created or shared by candidates running for the party. All candidates apologized for their comments, with Blanchet adding his own apologies “to the entire population of Quebec.” Blanchet and the Bloc Québécois Party have previously defended Quebec’s discriminatory provincial Bill 21 removing the right to wear religious symbols – such as the hijab, turban or kippa – in the province’s public service.

Therrien’s implied racist sentiment is not new in federal Canadian politics. In 2017, the House of Commons had passed the Liberal Party’s motion (M-103) condemning Islamophobia and “all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.” The motion asked that a governmental committee collect data on related hate crimes, and study the various methodologies that could effectively eliminate these issues. Although the motion was passed by a vote of 201-91, Many of those who opposed this motion were worried that it would “result in Sharia law being imposed in Canada” and had decidedly voted against it, despite the motion’s clear intention to combat systemic racism. 

Therrien’s reaction to the NDP’s current motion shares uncanny similarities with reactions to motion M-103. The inability to vote in favor of a governmental action which explicitly aims to reduce and prevent systemic racism or Islamophobia undoubtably implies racist and Islamophobic sentiment. The only difference between then and now is that a racialized political party leader has effectively called out racism in the Canadian government – only to be penalized for it.