Monthly Archives: April 2019

Apr 29

Dresden still divided after Paris attacks

Over 25,000 people gathered on Monday to protest against the perceived rising tide of Islamisation in Europe.

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PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West) supporters marched through Dresden’s centre wearing black armbands as a mark of respect to the 17 victims gunned down in Paris last week.

One sign read “Paris today, Dresden tomorrow” noting that the Islamist militant threat might also reach Dresden if its residents were not politically vigilant. The city has a diverse multicultural population of less than 3% however that did not stop over 25,000 people from turning out last night.

Chancellor Angela Merkel had earlier that day cautioned Pegida from staging a demonstration reiterating her support for Germany’s Muslim population. Yet, in defiance the crowd gathered rapidly waving several flags of different German federal states and other European countries including France.

One demonstrator held a placed with Merkel donning a hijab (face veil) in reference to her comments denouncing the racist nature of Pegida.

The weekly Monday marches, organised mostly through a growing Facebook page, are styled on the peaceful democratic marches in 1989 against the east German government which eventually led to the fall of the Berlin Wall. The rallying cry of “Wir sind das volk” (We are the people) was shouted at these rallies and are now heard loudly in the Pegida marches.

Speakers at the pre-march gathering of thousands at Skatepark emphasised that the rise of Islamism had threatened the Judeo-Christian values of Europeans and that the Charlie Hebdo attack was proof that more bloodshed was imminent.

One city, two protests

More than 2000 police officers, including riot police, were deployed from various German federal states to keep protestors away from counter-Pegida demonstators according to one police officer who spoke to SBS. Anti-Pegida marches gathered about 5000 people in Dresden and over 100,000 nationwide in cities such as Berlin and Leipzig. 

“They say we are the people but they are not. They are afraid of losing their identity” said Frank Eckhardt, one of the main organisers of the anti-Pegida gathering yesterday that drew a smaller crowd compared to an earlier one organised on Saturday which had 35,000 attendees.

“Dresden is a conservative city and we had a conservative government for 25 years but this is purely hate against foreigners” he added. Referring to broom wielding protestors, Eckhardt who is director of the Dresden Cultural Forum noted “our task now is to clean the city of racism and mad thinking”.

Throughout the city’s main streets, both protestors (Pegida and anti-Pegida) were holding banners commemorating the deaths in the attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

University student Maria, 25, said “this is dangerous, they (Pegida) use it for their purposes. We say we are not Pegida, we are Charlie!”

Muslims caught in cultural conflict

Marwa El Sherbiny cultural centre and mosque is located a few kilometres away from Dresden’s centre. The centre is named an Egyptian woman who was murdered at a Dresden courthouse by a Russian immigrant in 2009.

“Fewer people come to the mosque on Mondays compared to the other days, especially the refugees and asylum seekers, because of what’s currently happening” said Mohamed Hassan, who was leading midday prayers on the day after the protests when SBS spoke to him.

“Those with distinctive features such as dark skin or sporting a beard tend to stay at home to be on the safe side”.

Moroccan asylum seeker Abdel Fattah Al Nasseri, who had only been living in Dresden for seven months, shared the same feeling.

“We can’t come to perform our evening prayers on Mondays” he told SBS. “The situation is frightening because these protests are targeting Islam”.

Tensions continue

Indonesian student Ramadan Islam, who had moved to Dresden from Hamburg recently, espoused a different view instead questioning Pegida’s fragmented political asks and messages

“I don’t feel afraid…They were here on the street on Monday night close to the mosque but it’s a little bit uncomfortable because I do not know what they are doing”

“I saw a video of Pegida protestors circulating on the internet saying first they don’t like Islam, then refugees, then foreigners. I do not know what they are doing”

Pegida has already announced the details of the next demonstration and has vowed to continue with its demands even though they are still confusing to many including Ramadan.

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Apr 29

Jihadist video ‘shows boy killing Russian spies’

The Islamic State jihadist group has released a video purporting to show a young boy executing two men accused of working for Russian intelligence services.

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The video released on Tuesday shows the two men apparently being shot dead by the child after being interrogated on camera about their alleged attempts to infiltrate the IS group in Syria.

Entitled “Uncovering an Enemy Within” in English, the video is narrated in Russian and opens with the interrogation of one of the men, who says he is a Kazakh citizen.

He says he was recruited by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) to get close to an unnamed IS fighter.

The second man, who does not give his nationality but says he worked for the FSB in Russia previously, says he was tasked with killing an unnamed IS fighter.

Both men say they were told to collect and transmit information about IS fighters in Syria.

After the interrogations, the video cuts to an outdoors scene, where a bearded adult IS fighter in military-style clothes is standing next to a young boy armed with a pistol.

The man recites religious verses and says the two men are in the “custody of the lion cubs” of IS’s self-declared Islamic “caliphate”.

The boy has long hair and is dressed in a black zip-up sweater and military-style trousers.

The two men, dressed in matching grey outfits, are kneeling before the man and the child, who steps forward and shoots both men once in the head and then several times again after they collapse.

The end of the video appears to feature footage of the same boy from an earlier IS propaganda video telling an interviewer he wants to grow up to kill “infidels”.

That footage appears to come from a video that emerged last year, showing the boy participating in a training camp for children, taking apart and reassembling a gun.

In that video, he gave his name as Abdallah, and said he was from Kazakhstan.

Russia’s FSB agency had no immediate comment on the video.

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Apr 29

Dropping oil price helps city motorists

Falling oil prices have pulled down Australian petrol prices, but people in regional and rural areas have not benefited as much as their city-dwelling peers.

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The greatest reductions in fuel prices over the past six weeks have been in metropolitan areas, with a slower decline in regional and rural Australia.

Higher demand in metropolitan areas was one of many pressures forcing prices down faster, Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association chief executive Nic Moulis said.

“There is a time lag,” Mr Moulis said.

“Because [regional sellers] don’t sell through their fuel as quick.”

Another factor was people in rural areas generally had less access to fuel sales competition, Mr Moulis said.

Regional areas often have storage between long distances, creating another source for time lag.

Greater supply of crude oil worldwide was pushing prices down, Mr Moulis said.

The decline in oil price had affected Australian fuel prices, but the declining Australian dollar had offset the effect, Mr Moulis said.

Fuel prices across Australia have dropped more than 10 per cent since the week ending November 17, according to the Australian Institute of Petroleum’s (AIP) latest figures.

The AIP were contacted for comment but were unavailable.

Australian Automotive Association spokesperson James Goodwin said rural drivers should not be made to pay more than they have to.

“We have concerns they’re paying too much,” Mr Goodwin said.

While transport and demand in rural areas may be an issue, so might lack of competition, Mr Goodwin said.

“An average price difference of 15 cents per litre is unjustifiable,” he said.

On December 3, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) released its Monitoring of the Australian petroleum industry report.

The price of crude oil, which has fallen globally in recent years, was the biggest single factor contributing to retail fuel prices in Australia’s five largest cities, the ACCC said.

Despite the effect of excise, Australian tax of fuel was among the lowest of OECD countries, the ACCC said.

The report said Australia’s five largest cities were subject to retail fuel price cycles, which are responsible for large differences in fuel prices between some days.

“These price cycles do not generally occur in Canberra, Hobart, and Darwin, or in most regional locations,” The ACCC said.

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Apr 29

British Jews fear future in Europe: poll

Almost half of British Jewish people fear they have no long-term future in Britain or Europe, according to a survey.

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The poll of 2230 British Jewish people by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA) found that 45 per cent feared Jews may have no future in Britain, and 58 per cent were concerned they have no long-term future in Europe.

The online survey published on Wednesday was conducted from December 23 to January 11 – a period that spanned the attacks in Paris that targeted the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher supermarket – leading France to increase security at Jewish schools and synagogues.

“The results of our survey are a shocking wake-up call straight after the atrocities in Paris,” said CAA chairman Gideon Falter.

“Britain is at a tipping point. Unless anti-Semitism is met with zero tolerance, it will grow and British Jews will increasingly question their place in their own country.”

A quarter of those surveyed by the CAA said they had considered leaving Britain in the past two years.

The CAA said 2014 saw the most anti-Semitic incidents recorded by police since records began 30 years ago.

Official figures from London’s metropolitan police showed anti-Semitic crimes more than doubled in the capital during the 12 months to November 2014, compared with the same period a year earlier.

Anti-Semitic views are not uncommon among British people, according to a separate study of conducted by pollster YouGov for the CAA.

A quarter of 3411 adults surveyed by YouGov believed Jewish people chase money more than other British people.

Meanwhile, 17 per cent thought Jews had too much power in the media, and 13 per cent said Jews talked about the Holocaust to get sympathy. Overall, 45 per cent of those surveyed believed at least one anti-Semitic statement.

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Apr 29

A united Iraq to face down Japan in Asian Cup

Iraq is tipped to challenge defending champions Japan for top spot in group D at the Asian Cup, but following a disastrous Gulf Cup campaign and a coaching change in November, the main challenge for the 2007 champions is to find the glue that unites the side.

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Iraq came to the Asian Cup with a squad drawn from various parts of the world and a mixture of religious backgrounds.

It’s also a young squad with all but four of the players aged 23 or under.

But star midfielder Yaser Kasim believes there is a cohesion and confidence in the team the team.

“With time I think players will gel, will understand each other a bit more and one or two have the language barrier, but the Iraqi people are very nice people it works or will work,” he said.

Born in Baghdad, Kasim moved to England as a seven-year-old and is now a team mate of rising Socceroos star Massimo Luongo at Swindown Town.

Kasim said it would be great to cross path with his friend at some stage of the tournament.

After scoring the winner in Iraq’s 1-nil victory over Group C rivals Jordan, the 23-year-old hopes that meeting will be at the tournament decider.  

“You know we could do something special because Iraqi players are very motivated to do well for their country considering the turmoil we are in,” he said.

Justin Meram is another player drawn from the Iraqi diaspora and although he has never set foot in the country, he always felt closely connected to the land of his parents. 

He said being called up to for the Iraqi national team is the proudest moment of his career.

“It’s a very humbling experience,” he said.

“Growing up in Michigan the whole state is basically Iraqis. That’s been with me since growing up, I’m just like one of them, I was just born in America.” 

Iraq has some of the most passionate fans to whom football and the national team are symbols of hope and unity. 

Those fans are hoping their side can make it two wins from as many games when Iraq takes on Group D rivals Japan on Friday night.

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