LONDON, United Kingdom, February 19, 2018/ — Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for the Commonwealth, visited The Gambia on 15 and 16 February to offer congratulations on the country’s re-entry to the Commonwealth.
The Minister met with senior government ministers, including President Adama Barrow, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ousainou Darboe, and Vice-President Fatoumata Tambajang, where he discussed the Government’s commitments to reforms in keeping with the Commonwealth’s principles of democracy, equality for all citizens, and good governance.
Lord Ahmad said:
“The UK warmly congratulates the people of The Gambia on this country’s re-entry to the Commonwealth family of nations. When the Foreign Secretary visited last year, he met many Gambians who share the common values of the Commonwealth and wanted to re-join – and who felt as if they had never truly left.”
“We have welcomed the Government’s progress on human rights and governance over the past year. It is important now that there is continued, concerted commitment and tangible action: human rights, freedom of expression, equality for all, and strengthening rule of law are critical building blocks for a sustainable, successful democracy.”
“I am delighted to have formally invited, on behalf of the Prime Minister, President Barrow to the UK for the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April, and we look forward to working with The Gambia as a Commonwealth partner once more.”
Lord Ahmad also met with civil society organisations, human rights groups, and members of the international community, including to hear about the challenges facing many women and girls, from lack of access to quality education, to FGM, early marriage and inequality.
KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, January 30, 2018/ — A rare press conference by President Joseph Kabila on Friday signaled that the Democratic Republic of Congo’s political crisis was far from resolved and that further repression and restrictions on free expression and assembly may be in store.
As concern has grown over the deadly consequences of Kabila’s efforts to remain in power beyond his constitutionally mandated two-term limit, which ended in December 2016, there have been increasing calls domestically and internationally for Kabila to state explicitly he will not be a candidate in proposed December 2018 elections, and not seek to amend the constitution, and that he will step down by the end of 2018. Among those weighing in was a bipartisan group of United States senators in a letter sent to Kabila last week.
In the press conference – his first in five years – Kabila made none of those commitments. While claiming the electoral process was “resolutely under way,” he said only the national electoral commission (CENI) is empowered to decide when exactly the poll will be held. When a journalist asked Kabila whether he would run again, he didn’t say no but asked that a copy of the constitution be given to her.
Despite the rights of Congolese to demonstrate peacefully under the constitution and international law, Kabila said a new law is needed to “reframe” the legality around such demonstrations, noting that “democracy isn’t a fairground.” He claimed to have “burst out in laughter” when he sees those who “pretend to defend the constitution.” Unfortunately, what Kabila considers to be a laughing matter has been the security forces shooting dead, wounding, and jailing hundreds of people peacefully calling for the constitution to be respected.
Kabila also questioned the price tag on the electoral process, which he said could come at the cost of the country’s development: “Should we be cited as the most democratic country in the world, or is development what matters?” he said. “When the time comes,” he added, “courageous decisions” will need to be made. Was this a veiled reference to an upcoming referendum or change to the electoral process that would allow Kabila to stay in power?
Kabila’s remarks came two days after the United Nations human rights office in Congo reported that some 1,176 people were extrajudicially executed by Congolese “state agents” in 2017, representing a threefold increase over two years.
On January 21, thousands of Catholic worshipers and other Congolese protested in several cities and towns, calling for Kabila to step down and allow for the organization of elections. Security forces responded with unnecessary or excessive force, firing teargas and live ammunition to disperse crowds. At least seven people were killed, according to Human Rights Watch’s research, including a 24-year-old woman studying to be a nun, shot dead right outside her church. The January 21 crackdown followed similar protests called by Congo’s Catholic Church lay leaders after Sunday Mass on December 31, when security forces killed at least eight people and injured or arrested scores of others, including many Catholic priests.
Over the past three years, Kabila and those around him have used one delaying tactic after another to postpone elections and entrench their hold on power through brutal repression, largescale violence and human rights abuses, backed by systemic corruption. A Catholic Church-mediated power sharing agreement signed on New Year’s Eve 2016 provided Kabila another year in power – beyond the end of his constitutional term limit – to implement a series of confidence building measures and organize elections by the end of 2017. But instead, these commitments were largely flouted. Despite CENI’s publication of the electoral calendar on November 5 – which set December 23, 2018 as the new date for elections, with the caveat that numerous “constraints” could push the date back even further – Kabila has not demonstrated that he is preparing to step down, or create a climate conducive to the organization of free, fair, and credible elections.
While some of Congo’s international partners have increased pressure on Kabila’s government, more needs to be done to show that there will be real consequences for further attempts to delay elections and entrench his presidency through repression. Belgium recently announced it is suspending all direct bilateral support to the Congolese government and redirecting its aid to humanitarian and civil society organizations. Other donors should follow suit. In December the US sanctioned Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler, one of Kabila’s close friends and financial associates who “amassed his fortune through hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of opaque and corrupt mining and oil deals” in Congo, as well as a number of individuals and companies associated with Gertler. Yet the impact of these actions would be much greater if the UN Security Council, the European Union, and the US work together to expand targeted sanctions against those most responsible for serious human rights abuses in Congo and those providing financial or political support to the repressive tactics.
Ultimately, Congo’s partners are going to need to decide whether their interests lie with supporting an abusive, dictatorial government, or with respecting and advancing the rights of the Congolese people – and what that means in terms of concrete action.
New York City, New York- We must all know that West’s military operations aren’t suitable long term solutions to eradicating religious extremism and terrorism. The more brutal their military actions are, the less likely they would create long term peaceful coexistence in places of operation. To the contrary, violence only produces more decentralized violence and sectarianism. Furthermore, the Muslim World that is slowly healing from the calamities of colonialism and the ravages of ‘cold War’ collateral damages, certainly do not trust any military operation from the West on their soil as altruistic.
Also, the majority of Muslims whose socioeconomic conditions continue to deteriorate, do not trust their mostly undemocratic and corrupt governments, and believe any military operation as tools of evil elites protecting their ungodly interests not fighting for genuine causes of national interest and public safety. Addressing issues of poverty and injustice is the starting point for any terrorism preventive program.
As a result, the most effective and least costly way of countering extreme religious views and hatred in order to prevent its associated violence and radicalization is for religious scholars and leaders to work harmoniously with their respective governments and private section, and to formalized their educational systems with STEMDUP curricula and mandate every boy and girl to attend these fully funded STEMDUP schools in all Muslim Nations.
Against this backdrop, Muslim Community Report is seeking your financial assistance to help assemble a team of educators consisting of religious and secular scholars in developing this innovative ‘STEMDUP’ curriculum. STEMDUP stands for, Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Democracy, Unity, and Peace.
Share our hashtags: #stemdup #stemdupera #stemdupcurriculum
To support this game-changing initiative, please go to: https://www.launchgood.com/project/stemdup_curriculum#!/
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
“Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity.” 3:104. Hizbus Salam (The Party of Peace).
New York City, New York – The Muslims, Conservatives, Liberals and our government are all wrong in the way they deal with the omnipresence of global violence extremism.
The scourge of suicide missions from Muslims will be eradicated once and for all by Muslims, intellectually and peacefully. We will disprove its justification, eliminate its reasoning, and reinforce the superiority of knowledge to self-destructive violence as remedy.
We will change the conditioned victimhood mentality in the Muslim World, formalize religious school curricula with Science. Technology. Engineering. Mathematics. Democracy. Unity. Peace. (STEMDUP), invest in innovation, and elevate gender equitability in the Muslim World.
We will make STEMDUP top priority for all Muslim Nations. We will bring innovative Islam back and eradicate self-destructive inspirational one. We will reconcile the intersection of intellect and inspiration in the Muslim World. In sha Allah, we will!
It’s time for real Muslim leadership (Hizbus Salam) to be in the driver’s seat in the fight against religious extremism and the countering of this irreligious demon.
As concerns of terroristic acts in our city are dormant in our minds for the last seventeen years, some Muslim New Yorkers have decided to take a more proactive role in helping to eliminate this continued threat once and for all, despite lack of unanimity to its best practice. How many times can we be lucky? How long before these criminals succeed again in the worst possible way?
Furthermore, the ongoing operations to contain this relatively new association of Islam with transnational violent religious extremism are unsustainable militarily and financially. A permanent solution to Muslim Extremism can only come from the Muslim scholars working with their governments systematically.
The fact is the eradication of religious extremism is a duty of religious scholars and their leadership not military and law enforcement. Our best intelligence communities in democratic nations such as U.S. can’t stop radicalized persons who blame the Muslim world’s regressive conditions on the West, hate their lives and celebrate death through suicide missions.
Finally, Muslim leaders’ usual post terrorism condemnations are nonsense. The neoconservatives’ indiscriminate attachment of terrorism to Islam is a total fabrication. The liberals’ blanket defense of Muslims is naïve at best, while our governments’ violent doctrine to countering extremism are counterintuitive and decentralization of more violent extremism. It’s time to modify our modus operandi.