Monday December 18, 2017
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Abducted Al Jazeera photographers freed in Libya

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Tripoli: Two Libyan photographers for Qatari TV channel Al Jazeera were see on Monday, after they were abducted on Sunday by an armed group in the Libyan city of Salahuddin near et fr-Tripoli.

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article.wn.com

“We were kidnapped on Sunday by a group of three armed men, a few minutes after leaving the channel’s headquarters in Tripoli,” one of the two photographers told EFE. According to the freed hostages, the abductors stopped them in their car, and then took them to an unknown location. “The kidnappers asked us about our role in the channel and how the work of Al Jazeera develops in Libya,” the photographer explained, noting that they were beaten when they refused to answer questions.

“We were accused of being secret agents of Qatar,” he added. “The assailants told us that they do not want the presence of Al Jazeera in Libya and demanded we leave the channel because it was, in their opinion, behind the fall of the Libyan regime,” the second photographer told EFE. Abductions and murders have been frequent in Libya since the end of 2011, when the Muammar Gaddafi regime was toppled.

(IANS)

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White House: Judge’s Decision Halting Travel Ban ‘Dangerously Flawed’

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Travel Ban
A sign for International Arrivals is shown at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle.VOA

The White House is reacting furiously to a federal judge blocking President Donald Trump’s latest executive Travel Ban order that would have banned entry to travelers from several countries beginning Wednesday.

“Today’s dangerously flawed district court order undercuts the president’s efforts to keep the American people safe and enforce minimum security standards for entry into the United States,” said a White House statement issued Tuesday shortly after Judge Derrick Watson ruled against restrictions on travelers from six countries the Trump administration said could not provide enough information to meet U.S. security standards.

The travel ban order would have barred to various degrees travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

Watson’s temporary restraining order does not interfere with restrictions on North Korea and Venezuela.

Justice Department defends White House

The Justice Department “will vigorously defend the president’s lawful action,” the White House said, contending its proclamation restricting travel was issued after an extensive worldwide security review.

The Justice Department called the ruling incorrect and said it will appeal the decision “in an expeditious manner.”

Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke said: “While we will comply with any lawful judicial order, we look forward to prevailing in this matter upon appeal.”

Acting Director of Homeland Security Elaine Duke
Acting Director of Homeland Security Elaine Duke testifies before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

No change for North Korea, Venezuela

The new travel order “suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor: it lacks sufficient findings that the entry of more than 150 million nationals from six specified countries would be ‘detrimental to the United States,'” Judge Watson wrote in his opinion.

The White House argues that its restrictions “are vital to ensuring that foreign nations comply with the minimum security standards required for the integrity of our immigration system and the security of our nation.”

Officials in the White House are expressing confidence that further judicial review will uphold the president’s action.

Hawaii involved for third time

Consular officials have been told to resume “regular processing of visas” for people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, according to a State Department official.

The suit on which Judge Watson ruled on Tuesday was filed by the state of Hawaii, the Muslim Association of Hawaii and various individuals.

“This is the third time Hawaii has gone to court to stop President Trump from issuing a travel ban that discriminates against people based on their nation of origin or religion,” said Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin. “Today is another victory for the rule of law.”(VOA)

 

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Snapchat blocks Al Jazeera in Saudi Arabia

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Social media platform Snapchat has blocked access to Al Jazeera content in Saudi Arabia
Image: IANS

Riyadh, Sep 18 (IANS) Social media platform Snapchat has blocked access to Al Jazeera content in Saudi Arabia, the media reported on Monday.

The popular photo-sharing app said it was asked by the Saudi authorities to remove the Qatari-backed broadcaster’s Discover Publisher Channel because it violated local laws, reports the BBC.

“We make an effort to comply with local laws in the countries where we operate,” a Snapchat spokesperson said in a statement.

Qatar is in an ongoing dispute with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The four countries cut ties with Qatar earlier this year, accusing the country of supporting terrorism.

After the start of the dispute, Saudi Arabia had also demanded the Qatari government to shut Al Jazeera altogether as one of 13 conditions to remove sanctions against the country.

However, those conditions were later withdrawn. (IANS)

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US Public Schools are Teaching Arabic Language and Receiving Aid from Qatar Foundation International, But Why?

Qatar Foundation International gave money amounting to $30.6 million over the past 8 years to Public Schools in America

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Arabic language, Qatar
US Public Schools who Teach Arabic Language are Receiving Aid from Qatar Foundation International. Pixabay
  • Qatar Foundation International provides support to initiatives that either create or encourage the growth of Arabic Programmes
  • Other Arab nation’s benefactors have made donations in the past to American higher education
  • Schools which received the donations praised the support they got from the foundation

Washington, D.C., August 27, 2017: There are some public schools in the US which offer the students an opportunity to learn Arabic language in their schools- such schools have been receiving funding from Qatar Foundation International, the US arm of the foundation. It’s problematic as Qatar allegedly supports the terrorist organization Muslim Brotherhood.

Qatar and its alleged ties to terrorism

Qatar has recently been in news for its alleged ties to terrorism for which it had to face some serious diplomatic standoff. Over a period of 8 years, Qatar Foundation International gave money amounting to $30.6 million to more than 12 schools from schools in New York to those in Oregon. They are also providing their support to initiatives that either create or encourage the growth of Arabic Programmes like paying for teacher’s salaries, training, and educational material as well.

Qatar Foundation’s plan of expansion 

According to The Wall Street Journal report, Omran Hamad Al-Kuwari, Executive Director of the Qatar Foundation’s CEO office said “We are going to definitely look at ways to expand in the future. We’ve been quite surprised about the interest.”

Other Arab nation’s benefactors have donated in the past

Other Arab nation’s benefactors have made donations in the past to American higher education but Qatar Foundation International is amongst the few organizations whose target group for grants is K-12 (schools which have classes from kindergarten to 1st -12th  class) public schools. The foundation seeing the increasing interest of American students in learning Arabic wants to increase the amount they are spending.

Though the foundations have donated a large sum of money, still it’s lower than the donations from the American supporters of K-12 education like Walton Family Foundation which donated $190.9 million the previous year.

ALSO READ: Why are the Arab countries Cutting ties with Qatar?

Arabic is the 2nd most spoken language by American students

Schools which received the donations praised the support they got from the foundation. According to a review of data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), “After Spanish, Arabic is the language most spoken by students learning English as a second language at U.S. public schools, and the percentage of speakers is growing at a faster rate than other top languages.”

But there are some people who are speaking about the foundation’s ties to Qatar. They said, “Its co-founder and chairwoman, Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, is the mother of Qatar’s emir, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.”

Qatar denied Arab countries allegations of its ties to terrorism 

Qatar said that on 24 August that it is sending the country’s ambassador back to Iran to intensify diplomatic relations with its Arab neighbors. The Arabic countries demanded Qatar that it reduces its ties with Tehran, claimed that the country has aided extremists and also gave shelter to Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. But, Qatar has denied the allegations made by the Arab countries.

Donald Trump criticized Qatar publicly

In June 2017, American President Donald Trump supported the stand taken by Arabian countries and criticized Qatar publicly, The US has had prolonged difficulties with Doha. The US has a military command at the base in Qatar. Washington has often accused Qatar that it fails to figure out where the financing of militant groups comes from. This criticism is also directed at other countries also, including Saudi Arabia.

There are some parents and community members in cities like Portland, Ore, and Houston who have raised their voice about Arabic Programmes which are being supported by the Foundation (and its ties to Qatar). However, the biggest protest has come from activists, groups, and bloggers with orthodox views.

Protest from a Houston activist

Sam Herrera, 2 years ago coordinated a protest in Houston on the opening of a public Arabic immersion school which allegedly received funding from the foundation. He is an activist from Houston who works against illegal immigration.

“They’re not going to overtly come out and tell you what they’re doing,” said Sam Herrera. He thinks that the foundation’s ties to Qatar, the country which allegedly supports the terrorist organization Muslim Brotherhood. However, he could not point to any evidence of such activities going on within the school. He couldn’t prove it.

When asked to comment on comment on the Qatar Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education didn’t say anything.

Al-Kuwari, Executive Director of Qatar Foundation denied the allegations

Mr. Al-Kuwari denied concerns relating to the foundation being tied to extremist groups. He said “There’s a lot of PR wars going on. Everybody that comes to Qatar knows what we are about.”

ALSO READ: Gulf Countries assure welfare of Large Indian Diaspora amid Qatar Crisis

The foundation has not disclosed the sources from which it receives funding. Its aim is to serve the Qatar population in community development, science, education, and research. Doha, capital of Qatar has many K-12 schools, universities, also having foreign campuses of 6 American colleges.

Mr. Al-Kuwari said that the foundation’s U.S. wing is created as “a way of giving back” for U.S. satellite universities which help to develop Qatari society and people.

Parents at the Houston immersion school said: school is totally secular

Some of the parents at the Houston immersion school answer back to critics’ allegations. Kinan Romman, who has a child at the school said, “The school is totally secular. It’s a state-funded school. It gives kids an amazing competitive advantage in the business world, and it breaks down cultural barriers,” mentions The Wall Street Journal report.

Are the Arab countries Foundations using the donation to spread Islamic extremism?

It is not the first time that foreign involvement in U.S. public schools has drawn concern. Foreign donations are a common occurrence at the university level and benefactors belonging to Arab countries like Saudi Arabia have faced allegations like these. They are being accused of spreading Islamic extremism through a medium of donation.

Last year, in Texas, the state education agency undertook an investigation into the Turkish government’s allegation that a charter school operator was part of a huge ‘multimillion-dollar plan to fund causes for an exiled Muslim cleric’. But the agency was not able to find any wrongdoing.

History of donation by Qatar Foundation International 

In the school year, 2009-10 Qatar Foundation International made its first contribution which was of $625,000 in support of U.S. public schools. In the school year, 2017-18 the organization gave $3.8 million whereas in the previous year it gave $3.2 million.  In the school year, 2014-15  it gave $5.5 million.

The foundation usually looks for schools to apply for grants, though schools sometimes also look for such foundations. In 2013, the Tucson Unified School District got a $465,000, multi-year grant to cover materials, cultural events and teacher salaries, for 2 schools, as well as various other grants, the total of it was $175,243, and they received the grant so as to expand its Arabic program.

In Portland, Oregon, the public-school system received around $375,000 for over 5 years, it started in 2010, and in 2017 it received $75,000 grant, which will help to pay for Arabic programs at 2 schools. The foundation was also responsible for funding a trip for some students and staff to travel to Doha.

Schools which received donations praised the foundation

The Principal (of one of the participating schools) Lincoln High School, Peyton Chapman said: “It’s one of the most supportive partnerships that I’ve ever experienced in 20 years of public education.”

Amongst the first schools that signed on with the Qatar Foundation in the year 2009 was The Washington Latin Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. Martha Cutts, the retired headmaster said, “I readily accepted the foundation’s offer to fund an Arabic program at the school.” According to the foundation, since 2009, Washington Latin has received around $1.04 million from them. Ms. Cutts said “The program has grown every year. I think it allows for our students to be better-informed citizens.” She said that the foundation officials are actively involved in the school; they provide professional development and also visit classrooms.

Through the program students learn about the Arabic language, their culture, take cultural trips which include visiting the Qatari embassy in D.C.


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