July 03, 2007
SHOOTOUT AT PAKISTANI MOSQUE
At least nine people have died in violence that erupted at a mosque in Islamabad today. Devin Theriot-Orr reports.
The Lal Masjid, or “red mosque”, has been at the center of controversy for demanding the imposition of Islamic Sharia law in Pakistan’s capital city. Students at the mosque have carried out raids in Islamabad with impunity for several months. Last month, mosque students kidnapped 6 Chinese nationals who were allegedly running a brothel. Although the hostages were released, no one was prosecuted for the crime. The government set up barricades and check points around the mosque last week as a show of force against the militants. The violence started today when a crowd of women students from the mosque stormed a police barricade, allegedly stealing weapons and attempting to take 4 officials hostage. The police responded with tear gas and both sides began shooting. After the shoot-out, students from the mosque set fire to government buildings. One solider, 2 students, a policemen, a journalist and a bystander have been confirmed dead. A politician from the MMA party, a coalition of Islamic parties, negotiated a ceasefire as night fell tonight. For FSRN, I’m Devin Theriot-Orr reporting.
ABANDONED BAG FORCES EVACUATION AT HEATHROW
A security scare temporarily closed down a part of London’s Heathrow airport today. An unclaimed bag in Terminal 4 forced the cancellation of more than 100 flights and shut down the area for hours.
MANY ARRESTED FOR LINKS TO LONDON/GLASGOW INCIDENTS ARE MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS
Meanwhile, police have now arrested eight people in connection with the two failed car bomb attacks in London and the attempt to drive a burning car into Glasgow’s airport. From London, Naomi Fowler reports.
Of the 8 people arrested so far, 6 of them are either doctors or medical students in British hospitals. Among those arrested is an Iraqi doctor who trained and worked in Baghdad hospitals. A number of attacks on Muslims have been reported and British Muslims are hoping they won’t see a backlash of the kind they faced after the 7/7 bombings. Anas al-Tikriti of the Muslim Association of Britain called on the government to minimize the possibility of further violence both in Britain and in Iraq (sound): “There can be no justification whatsoever for blowing up innocent bystanders. We have to see these as being threats and attacks against us all. To lay the blame entirely at the feet of one segment of British society does not solve the problem. However the manner in which Britain has contributed to world affairs has made a lot of people angry. For Britain to adopt an ethical foreign policy, I think it would at least put Britain to be seen as a force for good.” The new Home Secretary has promised she won’t be rushing through new anti-terror legislation that might leave Muslims feeling even more isolated, as happened under Tony Blair’s leadership; but a new anti-terror bill is due to be considered by Parliament after the summer. This is Naomi Fowler in London for Free Speech Radio News.
PAN-AFRICAN GOVERNMENT PROPOSED AT AFRICAN UNION SUMMIT
African Union leaders attending a summit in Ghana have failed to reach a consensus on whether or not the continent should have a central government. Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos.
The initiative to create a single government for Africa came from Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. The Pan-African government proposal took up a large part of the three day African Union summit that concluded today in the Ghanaian capital of Accra. Gaddafi wants the continent to immediately establish a united foreign policy and a single army. While the push for a Pan-African alliance among nations emerged often in the anti-colonial struggles of the 1950s and 60s, the initiative as proposed by the Libyan leader met with less than enthusiastic support. President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua of Nigeria suggested Africa should instead focus more on the urgent task of fighting poverty and diseases like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. The division among the leaders is a likely indication that African nations will not consolidate their governments anytime soon. For Free Speech Radio News, this is Sam Olukoya in Lagos.
JAPAN’S DEFENSE MINISTER RESIGNS
Japanese Defense Minister, Fumio Kyuma, has resigned amid a controversy caused by remarks made about the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945. Kyuma, who also represents Nagasaki in Japan’s parliament, said over the weekend that he thought the nuclear attack on his hometown and Hiroshima ended the war and was something that (quote) “couldn’t be helped”. His comments triggered widespread criticism in Japan for apparently minimizing as inevitable the bombings that killed more than 360,000 people. Kyuma says his remarks were misunderstood. His resignation comes just 4 weeks before parliamentary elections.
SALVADORAN RURAL LEADERS ARRESTED ON WAY TO ANTI-PRIVATIZATION PROTEST
And finally, Leaders of a Salvadoran social organization are in jail after police arrested them yesterday on their way to a protest against the privatization of public water systems. Sebastian Dario reports from San Salvador.
Salvadoran President Antonio Saca presented his plan for “de-centralization of public services” yesterday in Suchitoto amid widespread non-violent protest. Opponents of the plan regard it as a clear move toward privatization of public resources, as it gives private and foreign corporations control over the public water system. Leaders of CRIPDES, an organization critical of the privatization plans, were arrested at a police roadblock as they traveled to protest the president’s visit. Police charged them with “creating public disorder” although they were still several miles away from the protest site. When word spread of the arrests, protesters surrounded the local police station to demand the release of the arrested activists. Police responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and batons, while movement negotiators were pepper sprayed. 76 people were reportedly injured and 14 more arrested as riot police chased protesters into the hills firing tear gas by land and by helicopter for more than 4 hours. Salvadoran social movement leaders are calling on the United Nations and international community to pressure the Salvadoran Government to respect the constitutional rights of protest as well as the human rights and physical integrity of the prisoners. For Free Speech Radio News, Sebastian Darío.
Cindy Sheehan Comes Out of Retirement After Bush Commutes Scooter’s Sentence (4:38)
President Bush’s decision to commute Lewis “Scooter” Libby’s prison sentence has revived calls for impeachment on the Hill and around the nation – and it has brought Cindy Sheehan out of retirement. Washington Editor Leigh Ann Caldwell has more.
Arizona Governor Signs Law Forcing Employers to Enforce Immigration Law (4:05)
Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano has signed a new law that to penalize employers who hire undocumented workers. The law, which will officially go into effect in 2008, will suspend an employer’s business license for 10 days for a first time offense; a second offense will cause the permanent loss of a business license. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry says it is disappointed with Napolitano’s decision to sign the bill – which they say will hinder business and Arizona’s economy. Host Aura Bogado spoke with Isabel Garcia…
Israel and Egypt Say Rafah Border Crosses May Return to Gaza (4:27)
The Israeli and Egyptian governments announced an agreement on Tuesday to allow thousands of Palestinians stranded at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza to return to their homes in the costal region. Meanwhile, the Palestinian emergency government has paid part of civil servants’ unpaid salaries after Israel released part of withheld tax funds due to the Palestinians. FSRN’s Ghassan Bannoura has more.
South Asia Flooding Affects More Than One Million People (2:49)
The onset of the rainy season has brought severe weather to much of South Asia, killing more than 700 people in storms and floods in India and Pakistan over the past week. In India, huge waves submerged many seaside villages on the eastern coast – and Pakistan was hit by a cyclone that affected a million people. Vinod K. Jose reports.
Marine with PTSD Faces Dishonorable Discharge (3:30)
A decorated Iraq war veteran faces a court martial and possible dishonorable discharge next week for alcohol-related disorderly conduct. … Cody Miranda has served more than 16 years in the Marine Corps. Over the years, he’s been deployed to the Middle East five times, including stints in the 1991 Persian Gulf war and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. … Miranda’s family and therapist say his disrespectful behavior is caused by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And – they note – if Miranda is given a dishonorable discharge he will be denied medical benefits he’ll need to get his life right again. Aaron Glantz has more.