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Obama appeals to Muslims for support, as Ottawa calls out radical Islam

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Islamic jihadis have “declared war on Canada and its allies,” posing a grave threat and justifying sweeping new surveillance of terrorist suspects, Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney said Wednesday as he headed to a summit hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama on countering violent extremism.

Mr. Obama has sought to avoid stigmatizing Islam and drawn fire from critics for his refusal to finger any religion. But Mr. Blaney was blunt and direct in accusing radical Islam as the fundamental threat.

“Canadians are being targeted by jihadi terrorists simply because these terrorists hate our society and the values it represents,” Mr. Blaney said, using the Arab word for struggle found in the Koran which – in modern political Islam – has become inextricably associated with groups like Islamic State.

In Washington, the focus of the three-day conclave was on measures to avoid disaffected youth from being lured into extremism and new outreach efforts to engage religious and community leaders in an effort to address the alienation of those susceptible to violent extremism.

In his keynote speech Wednesday, Mr. Obama stressed the importance of taking the long view and winning the battle for hearts and minds, not just seeking military victory on the battlefield.

He appealed directly to prominent Muslims to do more to distance themselves from brutal ideologies and to foster relationships with young Muslims who are particularly susceptible to extremist propaganda.

“Muslim leaders need to do more to discredit the notion that our nations are determined to suppress Islam,” Mr. Obama said, referring to the narrative from Islamist militants that Western nations are in a war against Islam.

Youth workers, lawmakers and police chiefs from dozens of countries gathered in Washington for the summit, as well as senior intelligence and security-service officials. The aim was to swap ideas as part of an international outreach effort to counter the now-proven ability of extremist groups to use social media to find, indoctrinate and radicalize individuals.

“There will be a military component to this,” said Mr. Obama, who has launched an air war against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and turned to drones armed with Hellfire missiles to target al-Qaeda and other extremist leaders in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. “There are savage cruelties going on out there that have to be stopped,” he added, referring to the beheading and immolation of hostages that have revulsed the world in recent months.

But Mr. Obama spent most of his White House speech to focus on a need that he said was greater than military force. “We are not at war with Islam,” he said to applause. “We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.

He said “no religion is responsible for terrorism,” and told the gathering that the international community needs to “address the grievances that the terrorists exploit” including widespread feeling of injustice and oppression in much of the Muslim world.

And Mr. Obama warned “it will take time, this is a generational challenge.”

Parallel to the summit on Countering Violent Extremism, the United States is also hosting a ministerial-level meeting intended to improve information sharing to identify, monitor and track radical suspects, especially as they move to and return from combat zones.

Canada along with Albania, Algeria, Australia, Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Denmark, the European Union, France, Germany, Indonesia, INTERPOL, Italy, Jordan, Kosovo, Macedonia, Malaysia, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United Nations are represented.

Mr. Blaney said new measures proposed by the Conservative government in Ottawa will give “security agencies and front-line police the tools they need to protect Canadians against the ever evolving threat of terrorism,” adding they will help “prevent violent extremists and their supporters from radicalizing, recruiting, or inspiring individuals or groups to commit acts of terrorism.”

Mr. Obama’s view that the struggle against radical extremism will be a long one and his effort to enlist the Muslim community has drawn fire from some hawks who want a much tougher crackdown at home and more military action abroad.

Representative Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican and chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said that instead of Mr. Obama simply making speeches, he wanted “the President to overhaul his strategy and to develop a bold, actionable plan to confront violent Islamist extremism worldwide and to immediately staunch the flow of fighters.”

The President has taken a far more inclusive stance. With “al-Qaeda and ISIL [another name for the Islamic State group] peddling the lie that the United States is at war with Islam, all of us have a role to play by upholding the pluralistic values that define us as Americans,” he said in an op-ed published on Wednesday. “This week, we’ll be joined by people of many faiths, including Muslim Americans who make extraordinary contributions to our country every day. It’s a reminder that America is successful because we welcome people of all faiths and backgrounds.”

With a report from Reuters

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News In English

OIC Summit Calls For Standby Troops Contribution To Protect Palestinians

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Waxaa Qoray

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent out a strong message against Israeli violence that martyred at least 62 Palestinians during the ongoing extraordinary summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Friday.

A large number of heads of state and government, including Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Afghan President Ashraf Gani, Kuwaiti Amir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah and Mauritanian President Mohammad Veled Abdulaziz participate in the summit meeting.

Erdogan, OIC Secretary General Yousef al-Othaimeen, King Abdullah II of Jordan and Hamdallah are expected to deliver speeches at the ongoing conference.

The event will enable the Muslim leaders to show a dedicated and joint stance against Israeli actions. A final declaration will be released afterwards.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will also

A total of 15 OIC members state foreign ministers are attending the gathering, including from Iran, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Azerbaijan, Tunisia, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt.

Monday’s protests in Gaza coincided with Israel’s 70th anniversary – an event Palestinians refer to as Nakba or the “Catastrophe” – and the relocation of the US Embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Since the mass Gaza rallies began on March 30, more than 100 Palestinian protesters have been martyred by Israeli army gunfire.

Last week, the Israeli government claimed that the ongoing Gaze protests constitute a “state of war” in which international humanitarian law does not apply.

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Uganda says military operation in Somalia still on despite challenges

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Waxaa Qoray

The Ugandan military said its peacekeeping mission in Somalia is still ongoing, refuting reports that the troops are not making progress.

Despite some challenges which are being addressed, the AMISOM remains on course and significant successes have since 2007 been achieved, Brig. Richard Karemire, the Ugandan military spokesman said in a tweet.

AMISOM is an acronym of the African Union Mission in Somalia.

Karemire was responding to a lead story in the local Daily Monitor on Monday quoting David Muhoozi, Uganda’s military chief as saying that the military was stuck in the Somali mission.

The report alleged that Ugandan soldiers deployed in the Horn of Africa country to fight the al-Shabab militants are stranded due to underfunding, logistical deficits and a challenged Somali national force.

Uganda was the first to deploy troops in Somalia in March 2007 and still has the largest number of soldiers in the 22,000-strong African Union peacekeeping operation. Other troop contributors include Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.

The troop contributing countries met in Uganda in February this year and urged the international community to support the mission warning that the military gains made may be reversed

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Sierra Leone deploys 160 police officers to Somalia

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Waxaa Qoray

A contingent of 145 police officers from Sierra Leone arrived in Somalia yesterday as part of a surge capacity that will implement policing programmes in south central Somalia.

All the 145 officers from the Formed Police Unit (FPU), travelled to the port city of Kismayo to join an advance team of 15 officers who had arrived earlier.

This is Sierra Leone’s biggest police contingent to Somalia since it started deploying peacekeepers to the Horn of Africa country. The additional officers have been deployed in response to the United Nations Security Council Resolution adopted in 2017, which approved an increase to a maximum of 1,040, in the number of police officers serving under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). The additional officers will start supporting their Somali counterparts in keeping law and order in the outstations of the Jubbaland Administration.

“Their coming is going to be a boost to the Jubbaland State Police Force. In 2016, we trained 600 police officers in Jubbaland and the Sierra Leone FPU will help them build and empower their policing operations,” Ms. Christine Alalo, the Acting AMISOM Police Commissioner, who received the contingent at the airport said.

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