Monday, December 14, 2015
DAY 13-AT LEAST 14 KILLED-22 INJURED AT A SAN BERNADINO DISABILITY OFFICE.-IS THIS ANOTHER ISLAMIC-MUSLIM TERRORIST ATTACK.BY THAT SEX FOR MURDER-DEATH CULT 2 SHOOTERS.POSSIBLY OTHER ACCOMPLICES.
THERE WAS A KINDERGARDEN TEACHER STABBED I BELIEVE IN FRANCE TODAY BY A TERRORIST AND HE MENTIONED IT WAS FOR THE FRANCE ATTACKS.SOME CONNECTION. AND ALSO TODAY WE FIND OUT THAT ABAAOUD THE LEAD TERRORIST WAS AT THE SOCCER FIELD WITH A CELL PHONE DIRECTING THE 3 TERRORISTS THAT BLEW THEMSELVES UP.A WITNESS NOW SAID THEY SEEN ABAAOUD YELLING INTO A CELL PHONE FOR AN HOUR OR SO.AND ABAAOUD WAS ON THE CELL PHONE DIRECTING THE REST OF THE TERRORIST ATTACK BY CELL PHONES ALSO.AND ALSO ABAAOUD WAS GOING TO DO ANOTHER ROUND OF TERRORIST ATTACKS HE WOULD LEAD BY CELL PHONE ON ALL JEWISH BUSINESSES.THANK GOD ABAAOUD GOT KILLED IN THAT APARTMENT IN FRANCE A MONTH AGO NOW.AND ALSO THE MEDIA MENTIONS AND GETS PICTURES QUICK OF EVERY MOSQUE AROUND AMERICA THAT GETS DAMAGED BY SOMEBODY WHO DAMAGED IT IN RETALIATION FOR ALL THE ISLAMIC-MUSLIM TERRORIST ATTACKS LATELY.AND ALSO WE NOW FIND OUT THAT MALIK IN THE SAN BERNADINO TERRORIST ATTACK-HAD RADICAL SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS ALL OVER THE PLACE.YES IT DEFINATELY IS TIME TO BAN ALL MUSLIMS EXCEPT MUSLIM CHRISTIANS FROM COMING INTO ALL OUR WESTERN COUNTRIES.ESPECIALLY AMERICA AND CANADA.
Wife's role in California attack raises fear of jihad brides-Associated Press By ELLEN KNICKMEYER-December 12, 2015 4:09 AM-YAHOONEWS
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Pakistani woman's role as a shooter in the San Bernardino massacre is raising fears that foreign-born brides who support the Islamic State group could marry Americans to come to the U.S. to carry out extremist missions.Experts in jihad, immigration lawyers and former U.S. diplomats say there's no sign other foreign brides have sought Western marriages to launch attacks, and it's still not clear if 29-year-old Tashfeen Malik did so. But, they warn, that could change, especially if IS militants begin actively encouraging women to join men in attacks in the West.While the group currently bars women from taking up arms for combat or other attacks, its commanders are pragmatic and adaptable and could drop their ban at any time, security experts say."When they see an opportunity to do damage, and the best man for the job is a woman, they will use the woman," said Sasha Havlicek, a founder of the British-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue, whose work includes monitoring the flow of female extremist recruits."We will see women more active in terror plots," Havlicek predicted. "We already know they are radicalizing in unprecedented numbers." The flow of IS supporters can also go the other way. Up to 30 women have left America to try to join the Islamic State group since it rose to prominence, according to a recent estimate from the Department of Homeland Security.The numbers are higher in Europe, where more than 600 women have left to join extremists over that same period, Havlicek said.A religious conservative who lived previously in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, Malik joined her American-born husband of less than two years, Syed Farook, on Dec. 2 in donning tactical gear, grabbing assault weapons and slaughtering 14 people at his office holiday party in Southern California.While women previously have served as suicide bombers for violent Islamist groups, experts describe Malik's role as a breach of current IS limits on the role of women, and the group has been muted in its public responses to the killings.Farook and his family, like many traditional families in South Asia and elsewhere, used regional matchmaking websites to search for a suitable bride, although it's not clear if that's how he met Malik.An Associated Press review of matrimonial websites showed many families in Pakistan seeking grooms with passports to more prosperous countries, including the United States and Canada, but also in the Middle East.There were no obvious extremist views on the profiles of would-be brides and grooms. Some Pakistan families, however, told The Associated Press they avoided online matchmaking for just that fear."After the incident in California, we should be extremely careful," said Munir Anwar, a poet in the deeply conservative town of Liaqatpur, in Malik's home region of Punjab, Pakistan. People meeting friends or matches online "play with fire," declared Azim Khalid, a university teacher in the Punjab town of Vehari.Unlike Malik, who was a university graduate, most of the Pakistan brides being sought by Pakistani-origin families in the West tend to be less educated and thus presumed to be better housewives, said Eric T. Dean Jr., a Connecticut-based immigration lawyer who specializes in fiance visas for brides and grooms from abroad, like the visa on which Malik arrived.Dean said he's noticed one particularity on fiance visas: The United States appears to give almost all would-be grooms from Pakistan seeking fiance visas an extra layer of security checks known as "administrative processing."But he couldn't recall a would- be Pakistani bride getting that extra scrutiny.The State Department, which last year denied no more than 618 out of more than 36,500 fiance visas sought globally, declined to say how many of those denials were for security concerns.The Islamic State group, meanwhile, has avidly sought female recruits to serve as brides for fighters in its territory in Syria.While lawmakers including Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, voiced worry, after the San Bernardino shootings, of foreign brides marrying American citizens specifically to launch attacks here, there's no evidence to date that's ever happened, security experts and others said.The prohibition on women taking the offense in jihad is one key reason. Only if imams issue a fatwa, or ruling, that women are needed for the fight can they join it, the Islamic State group declared earlier this year in an online manifesto.If Malik's marriage to Farook were arranged by an extremist organization or operative, Graham described that as a "game changer" during a hearing this week in Washington.In response to a question from Graham, FBI Director James Comey testified that any involvement in the marriage by extremist groups would be "a very, very important thing to know."So far, IS has noted the husband-and-wife team publicly only as "supporters." Malik went on Facebook at the time of the attack to swear the couple's allegiance to the group.Perhaps because of Malik's role, female IS recruits who've been quick to crow online about other beheadings, bombings and shootings have been hushed about this attack, said Melanie Smith, another researcher at Havlicek's Center for Strategic Dialogue."I think they want to be kind of celebratory about it," Smith said. "But it kind of goes against what they are told is necessary and authorized for them."___Associated Press writers Munir Ahmed in Islamabad and Bradley Klapper in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.
Search for shooters' hard drive concludes in California lake-Associated Press By AMANDA LEE MYERS-DEC 13,15-YAHOONEWS
LOS ANGELES (AP) — An underwater search for a computer hard drive and anything else linked to the husband-and-wife shooters who killed 14 in the California attacks concluded on Saturday.FBI spokes woman Laura Eimiller said specialized divers with the agency concluded their search through a San Bernardino lake for abandoned evidence. However, she declined to say whether any items recovered are related to the probe.Investigators have said the killers tried to cover their tracks by destroying emails, cellphones and other items at their home in Redlands. They were tipped that the small lake in a park about 3 miles from where the shootings happened might hold the hard drive, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation but not authorized to speak publicly about the case.The search began Thursday after authorities learned the shooters, Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 29, may have been in the area the day of the attack, said David Bowdich, chief of the FBI's Los Angeles office.Farook, a U.S. citizen, and his Pakistani-born wife, opened fire Dec. 2 at a holiday luncheon attended by many of Farook's co-workers in the San Bernardino health department. The couple died in a shootout with law enforcement hours later, leaving behind a 6-month-old daughter.Authorities say Farook and Malik, who came to the U.S. on a fiancee visa in July 2014 and married her husband the next month, were not known to law enforcement before the shootings. But since the attack they have determined the couple discussed martyrdom and jihad online as early as 2013.Farook's longtime friend and relative-through-marriage, Enrique Marquez, bought the assault rifles used in the shooting more than three years ago, about the time he converted to Islam, according to the law enforcement official. Farook asked Marquez to buy the rifles because he was worried he wouldn't pass the background check himself.Marquez, who checked himself into a mental hospital after the attack, told investigators that he and Farook were plotting an attack in 2012.Idaho Sen. Jim Risch, a Republican who sits on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said they had an actual plan, including buying weapons, but became apprehensive and shelved it because of law enforcement activity and arrests in the area.Marquez hasn't been charged with a crime and has been cooperating with authorities.Meanwhile funerals for the victims continued Saturday. Hundreds of mourners packed a church near Orange County's Little Saigon to remember Tin Nguyen. The 31-year-old was honored in a service conducted in Vietnamese at St. Barbara's Catholic Church in Santa Ana.A funeral was also held in Southern California for another victim, 60-year-old Isaac Amanios.On Friday, a suspicious fire at a California mosque about 75 miles from San Bernardino stoked fears among local Muslims.Police got a call around noon about the fire at Islamic Center of Palm Springs, said Deputy Armando Munoz, a spokesman for the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. Firefighters quickly contained the fire and no one was injured.The mosque's acting imam, Reymundo Nour, said people there described hearing a loud boom and seeing flames.Authorities announced Saturday that a 23-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of committing a hate crime and arson in connection with the fire.___Associated Press writers Tami Abdollah in Washington, and Christine Armario, Justin Pritchard and Daisy Nguyen in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
Divers retrieve more items in search for California shooting clues-Reuters By Alana Wise-DEC 12,15-YAHOONEWS
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (Reuters) - FBI divers picked through the bottom of a San Bernardino lake on Saturday for a third day, seeking evidence related to a married couple who massacred 14 people at a holiday party, in what the bureau has called an act of terror inspired by Islamic State.Federal Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said in an email divers retrieved objects from Seccombe Lake, as they did the previous day. But she declined to say what those were or whether they appeared to be tied to the mass shooting.The San Bernardino lake, nestled in a public park, about 2.5 miles (4 km) north of the site of the shooting, is believed to be littered with junk and debris.U.S. officials have said their investigation has yet to turn up evidence that foreign militants directed Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, or Tashfeen Malik, 29, when the married pair stormed a holiday gathering of his co-workers at a regional center in San Bernardino on Dec. 2 and opened fire with assault rifles.The couple shot dead 14 people and wounded more than 20 in a rampage the FBI said it is treating as an act of terrorism inspired by Islamic militants. If that is confirmed, it would mark the most lethal such attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001.Farook, the U.S.-born son of Pakistani immigrants, and Malik, a Pakistani native he married last year in Saudi Arabia, were killed in a shootout with police hours after their assault in San Bernardino, 60 miles (100 km) east of Los Angeles. CNN and other media have reported the FBI divers at the lake were looking for a computer hard drive that belonged to the couple, but Eimiller declined to confirm that.The underwater search stemmed from leads indicating Farook and Malik had been in the vicinity of Seccombe Lake on the day of the killings, the FBI has said.The FBI has determined that the couple declared they were acting on behalf of the Islamic State. But FBI Director James Comey has said there was no evidence the militant group controlling vast swaths of Iraq and Syria was even aware of them prior to their attack.On Friday, a fire that appeared to have been intentionally set burned the entrance to a mosque in Southern California's Coachella Valley, some 75 miles (121 km) from San Bernardino, raising concerns of a possible reaction to the shooting.A 23-year- old man was arrested on suspicion of arson and for committing a hate crime, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, which has not said if he was motivated by the shooting in targeting the mosque. Muslim Americans across the country have said they are worried about a backlash, as happened in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.(Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by David Gregorio)
France pulls security badge for 70 airport workers after attacks-AFP-DEC 13,15-YAHOONEWS
Paris (AFP) - Secure-zone clearance has been withdrawn for nearly 70 people working at two Paris airports following the November 13 terror attacks on the French capital, the boss of the airports company said Sunday.So-called red badges are issued to people employed in the secure zone of Roissy-Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports, working for instance as baggage handlers, aircraft cleaners and suppliers.Augustin de Romanet, chief executive officer of Aeroports de Paris (ADP), said the prefecture -- the representative of the state -- which issues the badges had carried out a screening after the attacks on Paris, in which 130 people were killed and 350 injured."Nearly 70 red badges were withdrawn after the attacks, mainly for cases of radicalisation," he said in an interview with French media.He said around 85,000 people had secure-zone clearance in the two airports, most of them working for airlines or for "several hundred" sub- contractors."To be issued with a red badge, you have to be cleared by police, and if you work for a company that carries out security checks of in-flight luggage, you need three police checks," De Romanet said.He added that deployment of military personnel at the two airports had been boosted by half following the attacks, and passport officers were checking the IDs of all people leaving the country, "including flights in the Schengen zone," the European Union's border-free area.Air traffic was down five percent compared with a year earlier, de Romanet said."I hope we will return to a more normal level of traffic. It has been a heavy blow," he added.
EU needs to rehabilitate returning jihadists: anti-terror chief-AFP-December 11, 2015 3:23 PM-YAHOONEWS
Rome (AFP) - Europe must work out ways to rehabilitate jihadists returning from Syria, the EU's anti-terror czar said on Friday, warning not all of them could be simply thrown in jail.Speaking to delegates at a conference in Rome, Gilles de Kerchove said Europe needed to figure out a way of absorbing hundreds of returning extremists.Kerchove estimated that around 3,000 Europeans had been to Syria, lured by jihadist groups like the Islamic State (IS) group which has claimed a string of recent attacks, including last month's assault on Paris.Returning radicals must be given the possibility of being reintegrated into society, he said."It's important to give them an alternative to prison," he told delegates at a session on counter-terror strategies. Using an Arabic acronym for the IS group, Kerchove said it was not easy to "prove that someone fought alongside Daesh," later telling AFP that the EU was trying to improve its identification of jihadists using "digital proof"."To prove that someone was with Daesh in Syria requires access to their email, a conversation on WhatsApp or on Facebook," he explained."Oftentimes this data is saved in cloud storage in the US and it can take months to obtain," he said, indicating he was working with Internet companies and the US government to speed up the process.He also urged European nations to step up efforts to prevent people becoming radicalised, giving the example of a online US programme that has connected a million American students with a million Arab students overseas.At first, the two sides were wary of each other, but after several weeks the students realised they had a lot in common, he explained, saying the EU was hoping to set up a similar programme of its own.
Immigration, jobs, shifting politics in French regional vote-Associated Press By ANGELA CHARLTON-DEC 12,15-YAHOONEWS
PARIS (AP) — France's regional election runoffs Sunday has taken on extra importance after Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front party dominated first-round voting, selling its anti-immigrant, tough-on-security message to voters worried about an unprecedented wave of refugees and Islamic State violence.Here's a look at what's at stake:-LE PEN'S PROSPECTS-The vote — the last nationwide election before France's 2017 presidential vote — is seen as a gauge of political sentiment, especially Marine Le Pen's presidential chances.While National Front party lists dominated in six of France's 13 regions, several polls suggest it could lose that edge in Sunday's final round.Le Pen herself is facing a tough challenge by conservative former labor minister Xavier Bertrand in the northern region of Nord-Pas de Calais-Picardie. Likewise for her niece, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, running in the southern region of Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur against conservative Nice Mayor Claude Estrosi.The two National Front women scored more than 40 percent each in the first round. The struggling Socialists, the party of President Francois Hollande, quickly withdrew their candidates in both regions ahead of the final round, asking their backers to vote for rival conservatives in hopes of keeping the Le Pens out of power.But the outcome Sunday remains unclear. The nearly 50 percent of people who failed to cast ballots in the Dec. 6 first round could hold the key to the runoff.___ MIGRANTS AND MUSLIMS-Le Pen has worked hard to soften the image of her party from the days it was run by her father, Jean-Marie, repeatedly convicted of racism and anti-Semitism.The party's main target is immigrants, and what Le Pen sees as a threat to France from Islam. Le Pen and her niece have said that they would refuse funding to interests representing a single community, a reference to Muslim groups.The National Front's long-standing calls to increase security and lock out immigrants dovetailed this year with two deadly attacks by Islamic extremists in Paris and an unusually large influx of migrants to Europe.___EUROPEAN UNITY-Another nemesis of the National Front is the European Union. The party wants to pull France out of the 28-nation EU and the shared euro currency and restore what it touts as the country's past greatness.That resonates with many voters frustrated that governments left and right have failed to bring down France's 10 percent unemployment and at France's shrinking global economic clout. Far-right and nationalist parties have gained ground across Europe in recent years, from Greece to Hungary, Austria, the Netherlands and elsewhere — partly due to Europe's immigration crisis.___RISING RIGHT, LIMPING LEFT-All but one of France's regions are currently run by the Socialists, who have seen their support shrivel since Hollande won the presidency in 2012.The Socialists came in an embarrassing third place in the nationwide vote in the first round, though polls suggest they could win back a bit of support in the runoff.Former President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative Republicans party may come out on top Sunday, taking several regions. Sarkozy, also eyeing a 2017 presidential bid, would welcome such a victory.Prime Minister Manuel Valls has led the Socialist charge against the National Front — and warned Friday that its victory could sow divisions that "could lead to civil war."___Elaine Ganley in Paris contributed.
Nine things Saudi women still can't do-AFP-December 11, 2015 9:42 PM-YAHOONEWS
Riyadh (AFP) - Saudi women vote Saturday for the first time in elections but still face a host of other restrictions, among the tightest in the world.Under Saudi policies and practices women cannot:- Drive. Saudi Arabia is the world's only country banning women from getting behind the wheel.- Travel, without the consent of a male family member known as a guardian- Marry, without the consent of a guardian- Work, without the consent of a guardian- Appear in public without covering herself in a black abaya robe from head to toe-- Receive the same amount of inheritance as a man-- Work in certain jobs- Mingle with unrelated men in public places such as restaurants-- Divorce as easily as a man-Saudi women can:- Vote in municipal elections, the kingdom's only polls for public officials- Sit on the Shura Council, an appointed body which advises cabinet- Hold the most senior corporate executive posts- Work in government administration and an expanding number of private sector areas, including as lawyers- Be forced to marry at a young age, as there is no legally defined minimum age
Christian female fighters take on IS in Syria-AFP By Delil Souleiman-DEC 13,15-YAHOONEWS
Hasakeh (Syria) (AFP) - Babylonia has no regrets about leaving behind her two children and her job as a hairdresser to join a Christian female militia battling against the Islamic State group in Syria.The fierce-looking 36-year-old in fatigues from the Syriac Christian minority in the northeast believes she is making the future safe for her children."I miss Limar and Gabriella and worry that they must be hungry, thirsty and cold. But I try to tell them I'm fighting to protect their future," she told AFP.Babylonia belongs to a small, recently created battalion of Syriac Christian women in Hasakeh province who are fighting IS.They are following in the footsteps of Syria's other main female force battling the jihadists -- the women of the YPJ, the female counterpart to the Kurdish People's Protection Units or YPG.So far the new force is small, with around 50 graduates so far from its training camp in the town of Al-Qahtaniyeh, also known as Kabre Hyore in Syriac, and Tirbespi in Kurdish.But the "Female Protection Forces of the Land Between the Two Rivers" -- the area between the Tigris and Euphrates waterways historically inhabited by Syriacs -- is teeming with women eager to prove their worth against IS.It was actually Babylonia's husband who encouraged her to leave Limar, nine, and six-year-old Gabriella and join the unit whose first recruits graduated in August.Himself a fighter, he urged her to take up arms to "fight against the idea that the Syriac woman is good for nothing except housekeeping and make-up", she said.- 'Fear quickly went away' -"I'm a practising Christian and thinking about my children makes me stronger and more determined in my fight against Daesh," added Babylonia, using the Arabic acronym for IS.Syriac Christians belong to the eastern Christian tradition and pray in Aramaic. They include both Orthodox and Catholic branches, and constitute around 15 percent of Syria's 1.2 million Christians.Before the conflict began in March 2011, Christians from some 11 different sects made up around five percent of the population.The unit's first major action was alongside the newly created Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of Kurdish, Arab and Christian fighters, which recently recaptured the strategic town of Al-Hol."I took part in a battle for the first time in the Al-Hol area, but my team wasn't attacked by IS," said 18-year-old Lucia, who gave up her studies to join the militia.Her sister also joined up, against the wishes of their reluctant mother."I fight with a Kalashnikov, but I'm not ready to become an elite sniper yet," the shy teenager said, a wooden crucifix around her neck and a camouflage bandana tied round her head.Al-Hol, on a key route between territory IS controls in Syria and Iraq, was the first major victory for the SDF, which has captured around 200 villages in the region in recent weeks.It has received air support from the US-led coalition fighting IS, as well as drops of American weapons.Ormia, 18, found battle terrifying at first."I was afraid of the noise of cannons firing, but the fear quickly went away," she said."I would love to be on the front line in the fight against the terrorists."- 'Not afraid of Daesh' -The battalion's fighters train in an old mill in a programme that includes military, fitness and academic elements.With its limited combat experience, the unit for now focuses mainly on protecting majority Christian parts of Hasakeh province.Thabirta Samir, 24, who helps oversee the training, estimates that around 50 fighters have graduated so far."I used to work for a Syriac cultural association, but now I take pleasure in working in the military field," she said."I'm not afraid of Daesh, and we will be present in the coming battles against the terrorists."Samir said both local and "foreign forces" helped train the women, without specifying the nationality of the foreigners.In late November, Kurdish sources said US soldiers had entered the town of Kobane in northern Syria to train Kurdish fighters and plan offensives.Some women cited what is known as the Sayfo ("Sword") massacres in 1915 of Syriac, Assyrian and Chaldean Christians as reasons for joining the unit."We are a community that is oppressed by others," said 18-year-old Ithraa. She joined four months ago inspired by the memory of Sayfo, in which Ottoman authorities are said to have killed tens of thousands of Christians in Turkey and Iran.She said the community hoped to prevent "a new massacre like that committed by the Ottomans... when they tried to erase our Christian and Syriac identity".
Arrival of Syrian refugees in Montreal a "real Christmas present" to reunited family-By Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press | The Canadian Press – DEC 13,15-YAHOONEWS
MONTREAL - The arrival of a second federal government planeload of Syrian refugees in Montreal Saturday night was "a real Christmas present" for one Syrian man who was reunited with family he hasn't seen in eight years.Anas Fransis and his mother were at the welcome centre near the airport to welcome Francis' uncle and his wife, their two teenage daughters and Fransis' grandmother, who were among the 161 privately-sponsored refugees to make the trip from Beirut to Canada aboard a government aircraft.Fransis ran out to greet them, twirling his cousins and embracing the adults. His grandmother, Laila Saeed, was the last one through the door, her face wet with tears."They'll be here for Christmas, they'll be here for New Year's," said Fransis, who came to Canada from Syria in 2008. "Their arrival is a Christmas present...a real Christmas present."His 13-year-old cousin Laila Beylouneh was excited for her family's new start."My future is starting now," she told reporters in English. "I wish all my dreams will come true."Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard was on hand with Federal Immigration Minister John McCallum and Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre to greet the refugees, who landed around 8 p.m. Saturday evening. Numerous other federal and provincial cabinet ministers were also in attendance.Speaking to volunteers ahead of time, Couillard said he was taking a special interest in the proceedings because he and his wife will be sponsoring a refugee family who are set to arrive in early 2016. He said he was proud of Quebec and Canada's efforts to welcome the newcomers."It makes me extremely proud that we are able as a people to return a horrible situation like these people are fleeing, and to show them the face of freedom, the face of welcome, and the face of brotherhood," he said.The arrival comes less than 48 hours after a government aircraft brought 163 refugees to Toronto on Thursday.More than 400 refugees have arrived by commercial flights since the federal Liberals took power last month, but these have been the first to be brought by government aircraft.Upon arrival at Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport, border services agents confirmed the refugees' identities and issued them interim health program certificates. By the time they were bussed to the centre they were officially permanent residents of Canada.Jerais Der Kaspar, of Aleppo, Syria, arrived on the plane with his wife Emelda Margarian and their three children, ages 10, 11, and 17. Wearing a new blue-and-tan winter coat that Couillard and his wife helped him try on, he said he was looking forward to a new life in Canada after fleeing the bombings in Syria."Canada is the best country, and I wish to be in the best," he said in English. "This is a good beginning."All but one of the 161 refugees on Saturday's flight were expected to stay in Quebec, which has set aside $29 million until the end of 2016 to settle over 7,000 refugees. One refugee was continuing on to P.E.I.All were sponsored by private groups, many of whom filed the necessary paperwork months ago in order to bring in some of the estimated 4.3 million Syrians displaced by the ongoing civil war in that country.The federal government plans to bring 25,000 Syrians to Canada by the end of February.
CAR: Christians and Muslims sign the Pope’s truce-The two groups of militants who have been at war for years, ended hostilities on the occasion of Francis’ visit-A symbolic date. The truce between Christian and Muslim militias on the occasion of the Pope’s visit, was signed on 13 November, the day of the Paris attacks.-VATICAN INSIDER-newsletter-10/12/2015-BY andrea tornielli
ROME-A “non-aggression pact” jointly signed by the Islamic and Christian warring parties of the devastated Central African capital Bangui, helped avert any incidents unravelling during Francis’ recent visit. The document carries the signatures of Abdoulaye Hissen representing ex-Seleka Muslims and Maksim Mokom representing Christian-friendly anti-Balakas. The date of its signing is destined to remain imprinted in Europe’s memory: 13 November, the day of the Paris attacks. Just a few hours before the horror of fundamentalist ideology unleashed itself in the streets of the French capital, turning it into a bloodbath, in the heart of Africa, in a country that historically has strong ties with France, two influential figures whose respective armed groups have been at loggerheads in the Central African Republic (CAR) for a long time, signed a truce. Thanks to the patient mediation work of the Vatican Gendarmerie and the Community of Sant’Egidio, they have now officialised their commitment on paper, allowing Francis to inaugurate the Jubilee of Mercy over a week earlier than scheduled. Furthermore, the opening of Bangui’s Holy Door went ahead without any incidents or threats to the Pope’s safety or that of his entourage and faithful present.On Monday 30 November, in the sacristy of the Bangui stadium where Pope Francis celebrated mass in front of thousands of young people, Hissen and Mokom, in utmost confidentiality, left the “non-aggression pact” in the hands of the Substitute Secretary of State, Archbishop Angelo Becciu, who confirmed to the press that the meeting had taken place and the document was delivered. In this way, the document was sent to Francis through the mediation of one of his closest collaborators. Readers will recall that the Central African leg of the Pope’s visit to Africa was seen as risky right up until the end because of the clashes between militants and above all because of the instability of the Muslim “KM5” neighbourhood - where shootings have been going on for weeks, leaving a number of people dead. The French government had informed some time ago that it could not guarantee the Pope’s safety and that it would not be deploying its troops for this cause, strongly advising him not to go ahead with the visit. There were constant warnings right up until the eve the Pope’s visit to Africa. But Francis wanted to be there in person in order to show his closeness with his presence rather than with words.And so, in the run-up to the Pope’s visit, the commander of the Vatican Gendarmerie, Domenico Giani, who spearheaded the operation and Mauro Garofalo, head of the Community of Sant’ Egidio’s international section who has worked on peace mediation operations in CAR on a number of occasions, launched negotiations on the ground. “Together with the Gendarmerie’s commissioner Luca Cintia, we formed a small task force comprising four or five people and we held a number of evening meetings in Bangui’s riskiest neighbourhoods,” Garofalo explained to La Stampa. “The problem,” he continued, “was posed by the “KM 5”, the Muslim neighbourhood, as well as by various sections of the route Francis was due to travel along in the capital, areas where there is a strong anti-Balaka presence. We tried to explain that Francis was not coming as a politician but as a messenger of peace and that he visit was a unique occasion for reconciliation in the country.” Abdoulaye Hissen and Maksim Mokom accepted and despite the fact that the militia themselves are divided – partly due to the tense climate ahead of the upcoming elections – they agreed to commit to respecting the truce.The Pope’s trip, including his visit to Bangui’s mosque, went smoothly: he received a very warm welcome. The Gendarmerie had the support of MINUS CA’s soldiers, the Blue Helmets and the UN, led by Keita Balla, a Muslim general of Senegalese origin. Heads of UN security also came from New York. Local sources confirmed that the pact is just about holding up. Freedom of movement for non-Muslims in “KM 5” has improved. “For the militia,” Garofalo said, “it was a chance to demonstrate their goodwill”. Yesterday, Fides news agency reprinted the statements gathered from Bangui’s missionaries: “The atmosphere that Pope Francis left is reducing many reactions, which until recently would have been violent and are now calmer. Unfortunately, some news media continue to inflate tensions like that of yesterday. The coming of the Pope has given confidence to the people and this has allowed the resumption of economic activities.” Hopefully the fragile truce will not be broken.
Vatican revives dialogue with Jews 50 years after the Council-Just a few weeks before the Pope’s visit to the synagogue in Rome, the Vatican’s Commission for Religious Relations with Jews headed by Cardinal Koch has released a new document on the unresolved theological questions at the heart of Christian-Jewish dialogue. The text rejects anti-Semitism and proselytism-VATICAN INSIDER-newsletter-10/12/2015-iacopo scaramuzzi
Vatican city-The Vatican aims to revive Christian-Jewish dialogue, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s Nostra Aetate declaration (28 October 1965), with a document by the Commission for Religious Relations with Jews, which was published today, just a few weeks before the Pope is due to visit the Great Synagogue of Rome (on 17 January). Against the backdrop of some controversies that have emerged over recent years (the Latin rite Good Friday prayer for the conversion of Jews, Pius XII’s beatification, the situation of the “Christian minority” in Israel) the text emphasises the thumbs down to “anti-Semitic tendencies” and underlines that THE Catholic Church neither leads nor encourages any institutional mission aimed specifically at Jews. Because “the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” (Rom 11:29),” the document reads, “the Catholic Church neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards Jews. While there is a principled rejection of an institutional Jewish mission, Christians are nonetheless called to bear witness to their faith in Jesus Christ also to Jews, although they should do so in a humble and sensitive manner, acknowledging that Jews are bearers of God’s Word, and particularly in view of the great tragedy of the Shoah.” The final section of the document, titled “The goals of dialogue with Judaism”, clarifies that “the first goal of the dialogue is to add depth to the reciprocal knowledge of Jews and Christians,” underlining that “it is important that Catholic educational institutions, particularly in the training of priests, integrate into their curricula both Nostra Aetate and the subsequent documents of the Holy See regarding the implementation of the Conciliar declaration.”In terms of “the common concern for justice and the development of peoples,” “in the past,” the text adds, “it may have been that the different religions - against the background of a narrowly understood claim to truth and a corresponding intolerance - contributed to the incitement of conflict and confrontation. But today religions should not be part of the problem, but part of the solution. Only when religions engage in a successful dialogue with one another, and in that way contribute towards world peace, can this be realised also on the social and political levels. Religious freedom guaranteed by civil authority is the prerequisite for such dialogue and peace. In this regard, the litmus-test is how religious minorities are treated, and which rights of theirs are guaranteed. In Jewish-Christian dialogue the situation of Christian communities in the state of Israel is of great relevance, since there - as nowhere else in the world - a Christian minority faces a Jewish majority. Peace in the Holy Land - lacking and constantly prayed for - plays a major role in dialogue between Jews and Christians.”“Another important goal of Jewish-Catholic dialogue consists in jointly combatting all manifestations of racial discrimination against Jews and all forms of anti-Semitism, which have certainly not yet been eradicated and re-emerge in different ways in various contexts. History,” the text goes on to say, “teaches us where even the slightest perceptible forms of anti-Semitism can lead: the human tragedy of the Shoah in which two-thirds of European Jewry were annihilated. Both faith traditions are called to maintain together an unceasing vigilance and sensitivity in the social sphere as well. Because of the strong bond of friendship between Jews and Catholics, the Catholic Church feels particularly obliged to do all that is possible with our Jewish friends to repel anti-Semitic tendencies. Pope Francis has repeatedly stressed that a Christian can never be an anti-Semite, especially because of the Jewish roots of Christianity.”The document – which is not a magisterial text or a doctrinal teaching of the Catholic Church but a Catholic reflection signed by Cardinal Kurt Koch, Mgr. Brian Farrell and Fr. Norbert J. Hoffmann, respectively President, Vice President and Secretary of the Commission for Religious Relations with Jews – “is intended to be a starting point for further theological thought with a view to enriching and intensifying the theological dimension of Jewish-Catholic dialogue”. At the Vatican press conference for the presentation of the document, to which Rabbi David Rosen, the director of Interreligious Affairs, American Jewish Committee and Edward Kessler, director of the Woolf Institute, Cambridge. The Good Friday prayer, which proclaims the future salvation of Jews, “is misinterpreted”, said Cardinal Koch in response to a question. It is an “eschatological prayer” and “a text that is intended for the extraordinary rite. The ordinary rite prayer can be used as it does not create these misunderstandings”. Rabbi Rosen, in turn, underlined that a “small number of faithful” followed the old rite and focused his attention on the title for the “conversion” of Jews, which can be “misinterpreted and misunderstood” and could thus be modified. As far as the controversies that emerged in previous years between the Catholic Church and Jewish faith, Cardinal Koch mentioned “the discussion over the construction of the Carmine church in Poland,” the saga involving Richard Williamson, the holocaust-denier, which emerged after the remission of the Lefebvrian excommunication by Benedict XVI, which constitutes “a big problem but thanks to Cardinal Kasper, universal dialogue has facilitated a quick resolution”. Then there is Pius XII’s beatification, a contentious issue not only in Catholic-Jewish relations but also among the Jewish people themselves, as “some say we cannot accept his beatification, while others say we must give Pius XII the recognition he deserves.”According to Koch, this “is an internal issue within the Catholic Church but the Catholic Church clearly can be cautious in making sure it does not harm Catholic-Jewish relations. I am certain,” the Swiss cardinal said, “that Pope Francis is very open about the question of opening up the archives in order to clarify situations”. Both Rosen and Kessler were cautious in dealing with the question of Messianic Jews, who believe in the “messiah” Jesus Christ. The rabbi, in particular, underlined the suspicion – which stems also from a Jewish “hypersensitivity”, that they represent a form of “proselytism” in disguise. In general, the Pope,s “visit to the Holy Land and his upcoming visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome,” “are an even more powerful manifestation of a transformation in Catholic-Jewish relations, than documents.”
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