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Pakistani origin Sadiq Khan is first Muslim Mayor of London

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An interesting thing has happened in the West right in United Kingdom as a Muslim gets elected as mayor London even as Islamophobia is in the peak as EU continues to block a European Turkey from entering the European Union as a legitimate member and in the US poll campaign with Trump seeking to deny Muslims entry to his ‘motherland’ or rather ‘fatherland’.

A Pakistani origin Sadiq Khan was sworn in as London mayor on May 07 after being elected the first Muslim leader of a major Western capital, as the Conservatives, who consider themselves as hawkish republicans in USA, defended attempts to link him to extremism during the campaign. Corporate media tried their level best to insult him as being a ‘Muslim terrorist’- the usual description of Muslims in the West and world over, maybe for cruel fun and sadistic pleasures.

Sadiq Khan becomes London Mayor against the general anti-Islamic waves across the world as Muslims are increasingly been branded as terrorists by leaders like Trump and media lords to boost the circular of their money and news.

The Conservatives who rule Great Britain have badly failed to get Sadiq linked to ISIS or Al-Qaeda or Taliban, etc, as people of London city reposed full faith in this Muslim and son of a Pakistani bus driver.

Khan won 57 percent of the vote in Thursday`s mayoral election, securing 1.3 million votes to see off multimillionaire Conservative Zac Goldsmith and make history as the city`s first Muslim mayor.

In his victory speech in the early hours of Saturday morning, Khan had referenced the negative campaign against him by saying London had chosen “unity over division” and truth defeated falsehood.

The opposition Labour lawmaker Sadiq Khan broke from convention by taking his oath of office in a multi-faith ceremony at Southwark Cathedral. “My name is Sadiq Khan and I`m the mayor of London,” the 45-year-old said to cheers from supporters, who had earlier given him a standing ovation as he walked in. He added: “I`m determined to lead the most transparent, engaged and accessible administration London has ever seen, and to represent every single community, and every single part of our city, as mayor for all Londoners.”

Sadiq Khan won the Mayoral position as Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron had led the attacks against Khan for sharing platforms with radical Muslims at public events, and Goldsmith said he was “radical and divisive”.

There was criticism from across the political spectrum on Saturday at the tone of the Tory campaign, but Defence Secretary Michael Fallon insisted it was legitimate. “Both candidates were asked questions about their backgrounds, their personalities, their judgment, the people they associate with,” he told BBC radio. “That`s the nature of our democracy and the rough-and-tumble of politics.”News of the win was applauded in Pakistan, with Bilawal Bhutto, leader of the opposition Pakistan People`s Party and son of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, and rival opposition leader Imran Khan tweeting congratulations.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was looking to working with his “fellow affordable-housing advocate” while Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted that Khan`s “humanity (and) progressivism will benefit Londoners”.

Former Conservative government minister Sayeeda Warsi also offered her congratulations “from this daughter of a Pakistani bus driver to the son of a Pakistani bus driver”, and also condemned her party`s campaign. “Our appalling dog-whistle campaign lost us the election, our reputation and credibility on issues of race and religion,” she said.

Khan admitted representing some “pretty unsavoury characters” during his previous job as a human rights lawyer but said their views were “abhorrent” and condemned the Conservatives` “desperate” attacks.

Goldsmith`s sister Jemima, the ex-wife of Pakistani cricketer and politician Imran Khan, said the tone of her brother`s campaign “did not reflect who I know him to be”. Cameron`s former adviser, Steve Hilton, said Goldsmith had brought back the “nasty party label”.

In the audience at Southwark Cathedral was Doreen Lawrence, an anti-racism campaigner whose teenage son Stephen was killed by a gang of white youths. “I never imagined in my lifetime I could have a mayor of London from an ethnic minority,” she said.

Khan has broken the eight-year hold of the Conservatives on City Hall, succeeding the charismatic Boris Johnson in a prestigious post that has responsibility for transport, housing, policing and promoting economic development.

Sadiq Khan’s success was a boost for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran socialist who has been battling a row over anti-Semitism and growing criticism from the moderate wing of his party since his election in September. But Labour fared less well in other regional elections on Thursday. The party was beaten into third place in Scotland, once a Labour stronghold, as the Conservatives became the official opposition to the Scottish National Party (SNP), which won a third term in office.

Labour maintained control of the Welsh assembly and lost only a handful of local council seats in England. But critics warned it should have done better against a government that has lost support over welfare reforms and is deeply divided ahead of the referendum on Britain`s membership of the EU on June 23.

Sadiq Khan’s historic victory in London is likely help anti-Islam promoters globally to reconsider their filthy concepts of attributing terror to Islam and work for civilizational unity even if not promoting Islam and Muslims as entity of genuine democratic values.

Muslims are not terrorists but they are sued by anti-Islamic forces and projected them as terrorists to malign Islam and terrorize Muslim community everywhere. Hopefully, the anti-Islamic world would now allow Muslims to shed their false terror visuals and take their legitimate place in the world system.

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Did the Far-right Really Win the Sweden’s Elections?

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General elections were held in Sweden on Sunday 9 September 2018, to elect the 349 members of the Sweden Parliament (Riksdag). They in turn will elect the Prime Minister of Sweden. Regional and municipal elections were also held on the same day.

Sweden has been facing a political impasse after its mainstream center-left and center-right blocs virtually tied in an election on Sunday, while the far right — which neither wants to deal with — made gains on a hardline anti-immigration platform.

With nearly all votes counted on Monday, the ruling center-left Social Democrats and Greens and their Left Party parliamentary ally had 40.6 per cent of the vote, while the opposition center-right Alliance had 40.3 per cent. The Sweden Democrats, with roots in a neo-Nazi movement, won about 18 per cent, up from the 13 per cent gained four years earlier.

Under such circumstances, forming a coalition government is rather difficult in Sweden, with the country’s two traditional parties attempting to hold negotiations just to curb the Far-right extremists. Nevertheless there’s a very important point regarding the recent elections that should be taken into consideration:

Sweden Democrats, a right-wing political party in Sweden, which was founded in 1988, is described as right-wing populist, and anti-immigration. Jimmie Åkesson has been party leader since 2005. This party received increased support in the 2014 Swedish general election, when it polled 12.9% and secured 49 seats in parliament, becoming the third largest party in Sweden. But the the Sweden Democrats have remained isolated in the Riksdag because the other parties staunchly maintain a policy of refusing cooperation with them.

That is the reason why the Democratic Party, and Jimmie Åkesson’s strong presence at top of the political and executive equations in Stockholm are ruled out. The improvement in the vote of the democrats in the Swedish general election has been interpreted differently by various sources. Some analysts believe that Swedish extremists had a great success in the recent elections. However, some argue that the real story of Sweden’s election is not, as the prevailing narrative has it, the irresistible onward March of Europe’s far right.

The fact is that the far-right activists failed in Sweden’s general election: They failed to achieve their goal of gaining 25 to 30 percent of the general vote. True, the Swedish Democratic Party is still there as the third most powerful Swedish party in the recent election, but this is not exactly what while Jimmie Åkesson was after; to become the most powerful party in the country with winning the majority of the whole vote.

Though people like Jean-Marie Le Pen, the right-wing extremists’ leader in France, speak of the Swedish Democrats’ victory, the truth is something else!

Interestingly, surveys conducted before the Swedish general election indicate that Jimmie Åkesson and his entourage would be able to win at least 25% of the vote. But recent results suggest that some of the people who were supposed to vote for the Democratic Party in Sweden, had eventually decided to vote for the traditional parties.

In this way, at least until 2022, Sweden is rescued from a serious crisis called “right-extremism dominance over Stockholm”. If Axon and his associates come to power in Sweden, we will see the destruction of the multicultural society of Sweden on the one hand and the creation of some fundamental changes in the structure of the “welfare state” in this country on the other hand. And it should be noted that the development of populist policies in the welfare state will definitely lead to the elimination of the achievements that the Swedes have been struggling to deploy at the welfare and economic levels of society for decades.

First published in our partner Tehran Times

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Europe’s hollow threats

Mohammad Ghaderi

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Although there has recently been lots of controversies on issues such as developing an “independent payment system” Europe and a “pseudo-swift structure” to maintain the nuclear deal with Iran, many analysts and experts in economic affairs believe that there’s no real intention to actualize this idea among the EU authorities.

In the meantime, there are deterrent factors that have hampered European independence from the United States, and it seems that these factors are now highlighted under the presidency of Donald Trump.

The fact is that European politicians, and especially the current generation of European rulers act as the main barrier in this way. While some left-wing and Social-Democrats are about to put the idea into practice, some politicians such as the  German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and the British Prime Minister Theresa May are opposed to this idea.

They were committed to maintaining Europe’s economic and security dependence on Washington. However, the key question is whether the European countries will succeed on this path or not? Is there really a will to develop an independent payment system from the United States in Europe? The answer to this question is negative!

One of the most important prerequisites for the formation of an “independent payment system in Europe” is the consensus of the right-wing and left-wing parties on this issue. However, the European officials don’t seem to have such intention. On the contrary, they have become major obstacles to realizing this goal themselves.

It’s interesting that such a fact has been taken into consideration by many Western sources. For example, Foreign Policy writes in this regard:

“What’s different today is that the US is imposing sanctions contrary to the foreign policies not just of Russia and China, which have long chafed against the sanctions tool, but against the fundamental foreign policy of our closest allies in Europe and elsewhere,” Smith said. “That is what has brought us to this situation.”

It continues; “with their access to the US financial system hanging in the balance, European banks know that, in the end, the EU must satisfy Trump’s demands to fix the deal or be prepared to fully comply when US sanctions return.”

Recently, the Chancellor of Germany has announced her opposition to the creation of an independent payment system in Europe (to save the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). Angela Merkel believes that the US-EU security relationship is a priority and this should be considered in all the EU calculations! In other words, the German Chancellor has actually preferred “to play on the US ground”, and this she considers above all other options including “Europe’s financial independence from the United States.”

Theresa May, the British prime minister, has exactly the same opinion. She believes that, instead of confronting Trump’s financial and economic policies, and even its illegal measures such as the White House’s withdrawal from then nuclear deal, Europe should think about holding negotiations and interactions with Washington!

As for the French President Emmanuel Macron, his policies suggest that he has a strong desire to interact with United States under any conditions! In 2017 and during the joint-American-European Project on changing the JCPOA, he played an extremely important and highlighted role, though Trump had eventually pulled out of the nuclear deal.

Finally, it should be noted that the main obstacle to “Europe’s independence from the United States” are the European authorities. As long as the current generation of European politicians are in office, such independence (in terms of security and finance) won’t be actualized. When it comes to Iran sanctions, the EU seeks to satisfy Trump’s demands, and this a rule which is not going to change.

First published in our partner MNA

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Balkan Borders and Russia’s Interests

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The idea of concluding an agreement between Belgrade and Pristina on the territorial delimitation between Serbs and Albanians, voiced by the president of self-proclaimed independent Kosovo, Hashim Thaci and supported by Serbian President Aleksandr Vučić, may be on the negotiating table in Brussels in early September 2018. Both presidents are to meet in the Belgian capital to resume the dialogue on the normalization of bilateral relations under the auspices of the European Union.

In the interpretation of Hashim Tachi, this involves “correcting the Kosovo-Serb border” with the annexation of three adjacent Southern Serbian regions in Presevo Valley with predominantly Albanian population to Kosovo. If such an agreement is reached at the level of the leaders of Belgrade and Pristina “nobody will be able to interfere with its implementation – neither the EU, nor NATO, nor the United States”, the Kosovo president emphasized. Hashim Thaci even suggested holding a referendum in the relevant areas to resolve territorial issues, the decisions of which will have binding international legal force.

For his part, the head of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, refusing to speak on the status of the Presevo Valley, supported the idea of dividing Kosovo into Serbian and Albanian parts, stressing that otherwise in the next few decades, the Serbs will have to restrain Albanians already in cities outside Kosovo: “Do not want a differentiation with the Albanians? No problem, just tell people that we should be  ready to protect Vranje in 40 years if you do not see that our people are being evicted from there today.” “I stand for it and I do not hide it. I act and represent it as my policy, whether it will get the support of the people or not, but I stand for differentiation with the Albanians“? he said.

Addressing his opponents inside Serbia who see in the Kosovo division the act of national betrayal and the waiver of the “cradle of Serbian statehood,” Aleksandar Vučić accused them of unwillingness to really solve the Kosovo problem and even trying to use the Kosovo problem  for “overthrowing power in Serbia”: “They want to feel safe today, but what will happen tomorrow? It does not bother them.” I will not “wash my hands” like Pontius Pilate, but I will go out to the people with my draft resolution of settling the Kosovo problem” – promised Aleksandar Vučić, stressing that  until now he had no opportunity to negotiate directly with the Albanians themselves.

The possible achievement of a “package  agreement” between Belgrade and Pristina on the normalization of bilateral relations and the resolution of territorial issues is of growing interest in the Republika Srpska, which is part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to its President Milorad Dodik, if Kosovo is accepted to the UN and other international institutions with the consent of Serbia and its other opponents, the Republika Srpska will also seek accession to these structures.

The leader of the Bosnian Serbs stressed that the Kosovo problem cannot be solved separately from the Republika Srpska issue and recalled the resolution adopted by the parliament at Banja Luka in 2008. It said that in view of “establishing a new principle and international practice of recognizing the right to self-determination”, this state-forming entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina will seek for itself the status of the state.

Unlike the Balkan leaders, the European Union was seriously worried about the possible achievement of territorial compromises between Belgrade and Pristina and their possible extrapolation to other “disputed” areas of the Balkans. “Europeans are alarmed by the discussions about the borders between Serbia and Kosovo” as the territories exchange is “a risky bet in the Balkans”, – the Paris Le Monde  newspaper points out. It quotes the opinion of one of the leading EU diplomats who dealt with the settlement of interethnic conflicts, including in the Balkans and the former Soviet Union, Pierre Morel. “This is a great danger for the whole region” – the diplomat said, referring to the potential “escalation of movements for the renewal of borders on ethnic principles”. Such escalation can “infect” countries such as Macedonia, Montenegro or Bosnia and Herzegovina, where “many national minorities are struggling to coexist” – Le Monde points out.

Particular attention in this regard should be paid to Macedonia, taking into account the additional “risk factors” relative to this former Yugoslav republic. Among them is the threat of new internal political turmoil in the conditions of the refusal of a significant part of society (led by the president) to support an intergovernmental agreement with Greece on changing the name of the state.

As for the Albanian factor, the starting point for the “institutionalization” of Albanians’ demands was the 2001 Ohrid Peace Agreement. The rights of the Albanian minority proclaimed in this agreement actually turned Macedonia into a confederation. In particular, we are talking about such provisions as “unlimited use of the Albanian language as a service language in Macedonia” and “the introduction of consensus democracy in areas of activity that relate to ethnic rights.”

It is hardly an exaggeration to say that the very existence of Macedonia as a single state under the circumstances is primarily dependent on the “goodwill” of  the Albanian minority, which, according to various estimates, is between a quarter and one-third of the total population of the country.

Neither should we disregard the factor of NATO. In this relation, it should be recalled that the conclusion of the Ohrid Peace Agreement between the Government of Macedonia and the leaders of local Albanians was preceded by the signing of the so-called “Framework Agreement” between Macedonia and the North Atlantic Alliance. The amendments to the country’s constitution and other changes to the national legislation documented in this document were declared “an agreed framework for the future democracy in Macedonia”.

Such a consolidation of  dramatic changes in the legislation (concerning the very foundations of the national-state system) through an agreement with NATO was unprecedented even by Balkan measures but did not lead to a significant stabilization of the situation in Macedonia. It is no accident that experts from the International Crisis Group stated in 2006 that “the practical and political challenges facing the country still do not allow us to call it a stable post-conflict democracy.”

There can be no doubt that the leaders of the Macedonian Albanians will try to make maximum use of the Belgrade-Pristina agreements on territorial issues for their own purposes – despite the current opposition from the European Union.

The fact is that, according to available data, the idea of territorial “exchanges” between Belgrade and Pristina has recently received secret impulses from the United States. In reaching the relevant agreement Donald Trump’s administration saw a simple and convenient means of normalizing the situation in the Balkans and at the same time increasing its own rating in the eyes of both Serbs and Albanians, and “detachment” of Serbia from Russia. The Kosovo problem was actively discussed during the recent visit to Washington of the Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic. There she held meetings, including with US congressmen. “Washington, which has long opposed to any change in borders and has supported Kosovo since the 1999 war, seems to have also softened its position after Donald Trump came to power. Softened it to the extent that many European diplomats are now alarmed, what if the United States has managed to agree on a similar decision with Russia, which historically supports Serbia,” – worries Le Monde.

Under the current conditions, it can be predicted that all those interested in the new redrawing of the Balkan borders will try to take advantage of the contradictions between Brussels and Washington in their own interests in order to ensure for themselves the maximum advantages of both territorial and financial  nature. This, in turn, requires Russia to be more attentive to the Balkan processes that can become a catalyst for the corresponding “shifts” including in the post-Soviet space in the spirit of the well-known concept of Realpolitik.

At the same time, one should take into account the fact that many negotiators themselves are not at all inclined to expand their format and, in particular, to involve Russia as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Thus, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic rejects the possibility of Russia joining the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, stressing that the format of such negotiations will remain “as it is” and its expansion will not happen: “There are no such plans“.

However,  this does not prevent the leaders of Serbia from specifically discussing the above issues with the United States. Thus, in order not to “lose” the Balkans, Russian diplomacy should be more “proactive” and put forward their own initiatives that meet both its own interests and the interests of current and potential  partners in the Balkan region and beyond.

First published in our partner International Affairs

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