Afghan teenager who attacked passengers on German train ‘wanted revenge’ for friend’s death

BBC News reports: Prosecutors in Germany say a teenager who attacked train passengers with an axe in Wuerzburg had learnt that a friend had been killed in Afghanistan, and wanted to get revenge.

The 17 year-old, who arrived in Germany a year ago as an unaccompanied refugee, injured four people, two critically, in the attack on Monday evening.

He was shot dead by police as he fled. [Continue reading…]

Deutsche Welle reports: The Afghan teenager, who travelled to Germany unaccompanied to seek asylum, had been staying with a foster family in the town of Ochsenfurt. The assault sparked concerns among other Afghan asylum seekers in Germany who now fear it could further delay their asylum application process.

“I condemn the incident in the strongest of words. I also want to stress that it is an act of an individual and it should be treated as such,” said 19-year-old Abdullah, who has been living in Germany for six months.

Abdullah is worried that the situation for Afghan asylum seekers could deteriorate even further following a series of attacks by radicalized Muslims across the world.

“It is becoming worse for Afghan asylum seekers, especially after what happened recently in the US and France. People in Europe will now have a more skeptical view of the refugees,” said 27-year-old Jawid, another asylum seeker.

Jawid, who like many other Afghans has only one name, was referring to the recent terrorist attacks in these countries – the Orlando shooting in the US which killed 49 people, and the truck attack in the French city of Nice that claimed 84 lives. The Orlando shooter was also of Afghan origin.

But these incidents are isolated cases and should not be attributed to all Afghan migrants, said Zargar Haroon, a refugee. “The German people should understand that it is the same violence that made us flee our own country,” he added. [Continue reading…]

The Washington Post reports: Germany’s “welcoming culture” that defined 2015 has largely disappeared, and Monday’s attack could mark another significant new development in the country’s public debate about refugees.

Skepticism had particularly risen after the sexual assaults of about 1,200 women on New Year’s Eve, which put the country into a shock mode for weeks and sparked a backlash against refugees after authorities said that many of the suspects were asylum seekers from North Africa.

So far, concerns focused primarily on young male refugees who had come to the country alone. Monday’s axe-attack has raised new questions over whether German authorities are too overwhelmed to provide adequate support for those refugees, and particularly for unaccompanied minors.

Authorities in Bavaria, the southern German region where the attack occurred, said on Tuesday that they had put a particular focus on Salafist recruitment efforts of unaccompanied minors for months. It was unclear whether those efforts had been taken based on specific information indicating that recruiters were targeting minors, or whether they were part of more general precautions.

“Maybe we need to take care of unaccompanied minors even more so that they can overcome their trauma,” said Friedhelm Hofmann, the bishop of Würzburg, which is located in the proximity of where the attacker lived. Hofmann was quoted by local German newspapers as saying that it would be wrong to put all asylum seekers under general suspicion, following the attack. [Continue reading…]

At a time when there is a global refugee crisis — a crisis that has been exacerbated in the Middle East by Western interventionism and anti-interventionism — the Western attitude towards refugees fleeing conflict has ranged from compassionate, to charitable, to fearful.

There is a prevailing sentiment that to the extent that the needs of refugees are met, refugees themselves are expected to be grateful for whatever help they receive. No doubt, most are.

But suppose the Trump mentality — xenophobic, fearful, and mean-spirited — was applied to all people in need: to children with behavioral problems, teenagers in foster care, the homeless, drug addicts, victims of domestic violence, and so forth.

Suppose that whenever an individual from such a segment of the population committed an act of violence or other crime, the public and political response was to declare that we can’t help these people. There would be no social services. There would be no philosophy of care. The guiding principle upon which society would function would be that those in need should be shunned and cast aside. There would in effect be no such thing as society.

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Six wealthiest countries host less than 9% of world’s refugees

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The Guardian reports: The six wealthiest countries in the world, which between them account for almost 60% of the global economy, host less than 9% of the world’s refugees, while poorer countries shoulder most of the burden, Oxfam has said.

According to a report released by the charity on Monday, the US, China, Japan, Germany, France and the UK, which together make up 56.6% of global GDP, between them host just 2.1 million refugees: 8.9% of the world’s total.

Of these 2.1 million people, roughly a third are hosted by Germany (736,740), while the remaining 1.4 million are split between the other five countries. The UK hosts 168,937 refugees, a figure Oxfam GB chief executive, Mark Goldring, has called shameful.

In contrast, more than half of the world’s refugees – almost 12 million people – live in Jordan, Turkey, Palestine, Pakistan, Lebanon and South Africa, despite the fact these places make up less than 2% of the world’s economy. [Continue reading…]

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How should we live in a diverse society?

Kenan Malik writes: Debates about immigration are… rarely about numbers as such. They are much more about who the migrants are, and about underlying anxieties of nation, community, identity and values. ‘We should not forget’, claimed Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, as Hungary put up new border fences, and introduced draconian new anti-immigration laws, ‘that the people who are coming here grew up in a different religion and represent a completely different culture. Most are not Christian, but Muslim.’ ‘Is it not worrying’, he asked, ‘that Europe’s Christian culture is already barely able to maintain its own set of Christian values?’

Many thinkers, Christian and non-Christian, religious and non-religious, echo this fear of Muslim immigration undermining the cultural and moral foundation of Western civilization. The late Oriana Fallaci, the Italian writer who perhaps more than most promoted the notion of Eurabia – the belief that Europe is being Islamicised – described herself as a ‘Christian atheist’, insisting that only Christianity provided Europe with a cultural and intellectual bulwark against Islam. The British historian Niall Ferguson calls himself ‘an incurable atheist’ and yet is alarmed by the decline of Christianity which undermines ‘any religious resistance’ to radical Islam. Melanie Phillips, a non-believing Jew, argues in her book The World Turned Upside Down that ‘Christianity is under direct and unremitting cultural assault from those who want to destroy the bedrock values of Western civilization.’

To look upon migration in this fashion is, I want to suggest, a misunderstanding of both Europe’s past and Europe’s present. To understand why, I want first to explore two fundamental questions, the answers to which must frame any discussion on inclusion and morality. What we mean by a diverse society? And why should we value it, or indeed, fear it?

When we think about diversity today in Europe, the picture we see is that of societies that in the past were homogenous, but have now become plural because of immigration. But in what way were European societies homogenous in the past? And in what ways are they diverse today?

Certainly, if you had asked a Frenchman or an Englishman or a Spaniard in the nineteenth or the fifteenth or the twelfth centuries, they would certainly not have described their societies as homogenous. And were they to be transported to contemporary Europe, it is likely that they would see it as far less diverse than we do.

Our view of the Europe of the past is distorted by historical amnesia; and our view of the Europe of the present is distorted by a highly restricted notion of diversity. When we talk of European societies as historically homogenous, what we mean is that they used to be ethnically, or perhaps culturally, homogenous. But the world is diverse in many ways. Societies are cut through by differences, not only of ethnicity, but also of class, gender, faith, politics, and much else. [Continue reading…]

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Srebrenica: Why every life matters

In the West, the top three watershed geopolitical events of the modern era are commonly seen as the end of the Cold War with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the al Qaeda attacks in the U.S. in 2001, and the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The 1995 Srebrenica Genocide, has largely been forgotten and outside the Muslim world its significance never widely grasped.

Yet as Brendan Simms noted in Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy, from 1453 to the Present:

In the Muslim world, the slaughter of their co-religionists in Bosnia contributed substantially to the emergence of a common consciousness on foreign policy. According to this global discourse, Muslims were now on the defensive across the world: in Palestine, Bosnia, Kashmir, Chechnya and elsewhere. A large number of Arab, Turkish, Caucasian, central Asian and other Mujahedin – in search of a new jihad after Afghanistan – went to Bosnia to fight. It was among European Muslims, however, that the Bosnian experience resonated most forcefully. ‘It doesn’t really matter whether we perish or survive,’ the Grand Mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina [Dr. Mustafa Cerić] remarked in May 1994, ‘the lesson will always be there. And it is a simple one: that the Muslim community must always be vigilant and must always take their destiny in their own hands. They must never rely on anyone or anybody to solve their problems or come to their rescue.’ This ‘Zionist’ message echoed across the immigrant communities in western Europe, especially Britain. ‘Bosnia Today – Brick Lane tomorrow’ warned the banners in one East London demonstration. Some of the most prominent subsequent British jihadists such as Omar Sheikh, who masterminded the kidnapping and murder of the journalist Daniel Pearl, and the Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg – were radicalized by Bosnia. In other words, the new Muslim geopolitics of the mid-1990s was a reaction not to western meddling but to nonintervention in the face of genocide and ethnic cleansing [my emphasis].

A decade later, when Nadeem Azam interviewed Cerić (who in 2003 in recognition of his contributions to inter-faith dialogue, tolerance and peace, was awarded UNESCO’s Félix Houphouët-Boigny peace prize) he reiterated his message on the necessity of Muslim self-reliance.

What are your feelings about the future of Islam in Europe?

Not very good. The rise of fascism combined with an officially-sanctioned tendency to be unreasonable when it comes to discussion about Islam are bad omens. I am not a soothsayer but I can see the reality of a day when the treatment of a Muslim in Europe will be worse than that of serial killer: we are, I am afraid, on the verge of seeing a situation develops whereby it would be a crime to be a Muslim in Europe. The events of 11 September, 2001, have made things worse. May Allah protect us.

But having such feelings does not depress me. It actually should motivate us and make us even more resolute in our efforts. More importantly it should make us think of planning and organising. If the day comes – like it did in Bosnia – you might be unable to control events around you but you should at least be ready to do what is needed to be done by a Muslim at such an hour.
[…]
The message of the four year-long war we fought is a simple one: that the Muslim community must always be vigilant and must always take their destiny in their own hands. They must never rely on anyone or anybody to solve their problems or come to their rescue; they must always rely on God and the faith, goodness and compassion within their communities. This is very important. Our strength will always be reflective of the strength of our communities.

Today, Cerić’s fears are clearly all the more well-founded as across Europe xenophobia and Islamophobia relentlessly grow and in the United States a presidential candidate gains the strongest boost to his campaign by promising a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims.

The lesson that Srebrenica taught many Muslims in the West was that even when they are in no sense foreign or culturally set apart, they are still at risk of exclusion and elimination.

Last month after the EU referendum in the UK, a resident of Barnsley, South Yorkshire (five miles from where I grew up), when asked to explain why he had voted for Brexit said: “It’s to stop the Muslims coming into this country. Simple as that.”

Among opponents of the war in Iraq, a widely accepted narrative has long been that the antidote to the unintended consequences of so much ill-conceived Western meddling in the Greater Middle East over the last 15 years is to simply step back and disengage. This sentiment, in large part, is what got Barack Obama elected in 2008. Let the region sort out its own problems or let closer neighbors such as the Russians intervene, so the thinking goes. The U.S. has much more capacity to harm than to help.

Yet as the killing fields of Syria have grown larger year after year, the message from Srebrenica merely seems to have been underlined: the magnitude of the death toll in any conflict will be of little concern across most of the West so long as the victims are Muslim.

After Donald Trump called for Muslims to be shut out of America, Michael Moore declared: We are all Muslim. And he promoted the hashtag #WeAreAllMuslim.

Expressions of solidarity through social media are easy to promote and of debatable value, yet the isolation of Muslims in this instance, rather than being overcome, merely seemed to get reinforced. #WeAreAllMuslim was mostly deployed as a sarcastic slur shared by Islamophobes.

The global trends are strong and clear, pointing to a future marked by more and more social fragmentation as people withdraw into their respective enclaves where they believe they can “take care of their own.”

We live in a world in which we are getting thrown closer together while simultaneously trying to stand further apart. It can’t work.

At some point we either embrace the fact that we are all human and have the capacity to advance our mutual interests, or we will continue down the current path of self-destruction.

* * *

Last year, Myriam François-Cerrah, a British journalist who is also a Muslim, took a group of young people from the UK — all of whom were born in the year of the genocide — to Srebrenica where they learned lessons that arguably have more relevance now than they have had at any time since 1995.

 

The events immediately leading up to the genocide are recounted in this segment from the BBC documentary, The Death of Yugoslavia:

 

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Refugee who fled Boko Haram for Italy killed by ‘ultra’ football fan

The Guardian reports: A Nigerian refugee thought to have fled the terrorist group Boko Haram with his wife has died after being attacked by an “ultra” football fan in a small Italian town.

Emmanuel Chidi Namdi, 36, died of injuries he sustained when a local man, who had reportedly been racially abusing Namdi’s wife, attacked him in the town of Fermo, in central Italy.

Amedeo Mancini, 35, allegedly referred to the 24-year-old woman as a “monkey”, and attacked Namdi when he attempted to defend her, according to Italian media reports. Namdi fell into a coma and was pronounced dead on Wednesday.

Namdi and his wife, identified by her first name, Chimiary, were being hosted by Fermo town’s parish while they sought asylum. They are believed to have fled from Boko Haram and travelled through Niger and Libya before boarding a boat to Italy.

Father Vinicio Albanesi, who was hosting the couple, said they had previously lost a two-year-old daughter, and that Namdi’s wife suffered a miscarriage during the journey to Italy.

At an evening vigil on Wednesday, Chimiary cried out to her late husband: “Why do you leave me in this wicked world?” [Continue reading…]

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Dutch Pegida leader and expelled German deputy hunt migrants on Bulgaria border

The Telegraph reports: The former frontwoman of Germany’s Pegida anti-Muslim movement and a leader of its Dutch offshoot have travelled to Bulgaria to hunt down migrants attempting to cross the border from Turkey, it has emerged.

Tatjana Festerling called on the “men of Europe” to travel to Bulgaria and join local vigilantes attempting to hunt down migrants.

Ms Festerling, who came to international notoriety earlier this year when she called for asylum-seekers to be shot if they attempted to cross the German border, was expelled from her post as Pegida’s deputy leader two weeks ago.

She boasted on her Facebook page on Friday of spending a day with the “Bulgarian Military Veterans Union”, a paramilitary group of vigilantes who patrol the border searching for illegal immigrants. Ms Festerling said she was accompanied on the trip by a leader of the Dutch offshoot of Pegida, Edwin Wagensveld.

She posted pictures of herself and Mr Wagensveld posing alongside men in military-style uniform, their faces masked with balaclavas, holding up a banner which read “Fortress Europe”. Requests for comment made to the Dutch branch of Pegida have not yet been returned. [Continue reading…]

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A lesson from Brexit: Stop ignoring Syria

Joyce Karam writes: The political earthquake that Great Britain witnessed last Thursday with the victory for the Brexit camp setting the stage to the UK’s exit from the EU, is not only a product of David Cameron’s mistakes and Europe’s struggle with its own demons, but has its roots 2,000 miles away in the raging war, the counterterrorism nightmare and the humanitarian disaster called Syria.

The Syrian war is the elephant in the room when it comes to the rise of identity-politics, and the protectionist wave across Europe and in the United States. The unprecedented refugee influx, the largest since World War II coming primarily from Syria, and the country’s transformation into a hub for every Jihadist group and extremist recruitment machinery, has sent shockwaves through Europe and is feeding a political rhetoric of hate and racism across the continent.

This rhetoric won’t necessarily go away if Syria is resolved, but it will only grow if the conflict is left to spread and fester. [Continue reading…]

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‘Europe pays a heavy price for Syria – it must act to end the crisis’

Ian Black writes: Europe’s extraordinary political turbulence, triggered by the Brexit referendum, has caught the attention of the world. But the longer-running and far deadlier crisis in the continent’s backyard bleeds on while precious little is being done to help end it.

Syrians fighting to overthrow Bashar al-Assad are close to despair: Russia and Iranian intervention has bolstered the president’s position while Washington and Moscow have moved closer together – perhaps to the point where they will seek to impose a solution to end the five-year war. The UN deadline for agreement on a “political transition” in Damascus is looming on 1 August.

Europe, argues the country’s main western-backed opposition movement, can and must do more – however badly it is distracted by problems closer to home. That was the message it took this week to the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, who played a key role in last year’s landmark nuclear talks with Iran but has failed to make much impact on Syria, where 400,000 people have been killed and millions made homeless.

“This last year has proven that Europe is the first continent that is paying the price of a lack of serious management of the Syrian crisis – because of the refugees and security issues, and this is unlikely to stop,” said Basma Kodmani of the Higher Negotiations Committee. “Russia has not seen any terrorist attacks – isn’t that interesting?”

The links between European instability and the carnage in Syria have never been clearer – the atrocity at Istanbul airport the latest grim reminder. [Continue reading…]

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Record 65 million displaced by global conflicts, UN says

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The New York Times reports: More people are on the run than ever before in recorded history, the United Nations said in a report released Monday.

They include those fleeing marauders in South Sudan, drug gangs in Central America, and the Islamic State in the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Falluja. While most are displaced within their own countries, an unprecedented number are seeking political asylum in the world’s rich countries. Nearly 100,000 are children who have attempted the journey alone.

All told, the number of people displaced by conflict is estimated to exceed 65 million, more than the population of Britain.

The new figures, part of the United Nations refugee agency’s Global Trends Report, come as hostility is surging toward migrants and refugees in the Western countries where they are seeking sanctuary and relief.

The European Union has shown signs of fracturing over how to handle the influx of people crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

The United Nations high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, expressed alarm on Sunday about what he described as a “climate of xenophobia that is very worrying in today’s Europe.” [Continue reading…]

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The translators promised visas but made into refugees by the U.S. Army

Julius Motal reports: Working for the US Army in Afghanistan can get you killed, but there’s a silver lining.

The US Army offers its Afghan translators the right to request the Special Immigration Visa (SIV). It’s a program initiated by the US to help certain foreign employees leave their home countries and get on a path to permanent residency in the states—usually for protection from groups like the Taliban. For the last four years, the program has been renewed in the National Defense Authorization Act. This year, however, both the House of Representatives and the Senate failed to vote for the allocation of more visas, which could imperil remaining applicants.

Through that program, Muhammad, a former US Army translator in Afghanistan that I met in the port of Piraeus, Greece, should already be in the US. But like several other forgotten Afghan translators who served the United States, his visa has not come through. After being laid off by his army base in 2014, Muhammad fell into a bureaucratic gap between the United States’ promises to its employees in Afghanistan, and its rocky attempt to withdraw from the country.

Muhammad applied for the SIV in 2014. He was rejected in May 2015. According to the rejection email, his application was ruled invalid on the grounds of “Lack of faithful and valuable service.” Muhammad says that’s because he was fired—but not for lack of faithfulness or value. 2014 was simply the year that the Obama administration started closing army bases, in an early phase of withdrawal from Afghanistan. With fewer bases and fewer troops, fewer translators were needed. Muhammad was downsized by government contractor Mission Essential.

So in January 2016, he decided to make a go of it on his own. He paid $5,500 in smuggling fees to be trafficked from Afghanistan to Iran, from Iran to Turkey, and then from Turkey to Greece. By the time he arrived in the port of Piraeus in March, the 22-year-old’s life had been reduced to the phone in his pocket, the clothes on his back, and a sheaf of papers from his job with the United States Army.

His service and his perfect English together, in theory, put him in a better position than most refugees, but because he is Afghan, he isn’t even eligible for any of the expedited European relocation measures that the Syrian and Iraqi refugees sheltering in the port can claim. [Continue reading…]

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Mainstream politicians ‘clueless on migration debate,’ says Jo Cox’s husband

The Guardian reports: The husband of Jo Cox plans to continue with a project that aims to build an international alliance to combat “the dangerous breeding ground” of economic insecurity on which the populist right has fed across European politics.

Brendan Cox has let it be known that he is determined to continue with the work in memory of his wife, who was killed on Thursday, but believes this will only succeed if lessons can be learned from why the right has so far taken the initiative on the migration issue.

In a paper he has circulated – and asked the Guardian to quote from – Cox argues that one of the problems is that those hostile to refugees are better organised, more focused on galvanising public opinion, and better at tapping into human emotions, including over wider economic insecurities.

Mainstream politicians, he writes, “in most cases are clueless on how to deal with the public debate. Petrified by the rise of the populists they try to neuter them by taking their ground and aping their rhetoric. Far from closing down the debates, these steps legitimise their views, reinforce their frames and pull the debate further to the extremes (Sarkozy and the continuing rise of Front National is a case in point).” [Continue reading…]

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‘Jo Cox was stolen from us’ — the outpouring of grief from Syria

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BBC News reports: The death of Labour MP Jo Cox has led to a range of tributes from around the world including many from Syrians.

The plight of Syrian refugees was among the many causes for which Mrs Cox campaigned.

It was an issue for which she worked tirelessly as she routinely called for Britain to do more to help those caught up in Syria’s civil war.

Perhaps this is a reason why Syrians have expressed their grief, adding to the growing voices of those paying tributes on social media.

Shortly after the news broke, the White Helmets, a group of volunteers for the Syrian Civil Defence tweeted their sadness:


BBC Arabic social media producer Nader Ibrahim says: “Minutes after the sad news about Jo Cox was announced, Syrian activists took to social media to express their grief.

“This tweet by the white helmets, or the Syrian civil defence forces, is quite significant since they are literally on the ground operating inside.”

Ibrahim adds that the sadness expressed from people in Syria for a British MP is significant. He says: “It is quite surprising to see Syrians, from inside Syria, in a war-torn country, with limited access in a lot of its places to the outside world, tweeting and talking about a British MP who is half way across the world.

“This is especially because a lot of Syrians feel like they’ve been let down by the West and the international community for not taking enough action to stop the war in their country. So to see them mourning a western MP is quite a thing.” [Continue reading…]

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A day of infamy

Following the murder of Jo Cox, in a nation that has become inflamed by anti-immigrant rhetoric, Alex Massie writes: When you encourage rage you cannot then feign surprise when people become enraged. You cannot turn around and say, ‘Mate, you weren’t supposed to take it so seriously. It’s just a game, just a ploy, a strategy for winning votes.’

When you shout BREAKING POINT over and over again, you don’t get to be surprised when someone breaks. When you present politics as a matter of life and death, as a question of national survival, don’t be surprised if someone takes you at your word. You didn’t make them do it, no, but you didn’t do much to stop it either.

Sometimes rhetoric has consequences. If you spend days, weeks, months, years telling people they are under threat, that their country has been stolen from them, that they have been betrayed and sold down the river, that their birthright has been pilfered, that their problem is they’re too slow to realise any of this is happening, that their problem is they’re not sufficiently mad as hell, then at some point, in some place, something or someone is going to snap. And then something terrible is going to happen.

We can’t control the weather but, in politics, we can control the climate in which the weather happens. That’s on us, all of us, whatever side of any given argument we happen to be. Today, it feels like we’ve done something terrible to that climate.

Sad doesn’t begin to cover it. This is worse, much worse, than just sad. This is a day of infamy, a day in which we should all feel angry and ashamed. Because if you don’t feel a little ashamed – if you don’t feel sick, right now, wherever you are reading this – then something’s gone wrong with you somewhere. [Continue reading…]

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The murder of Jo Cox cannot be viewed in isolation

Polly Toynbee writes: When politicians from a mainstream party use immigration as their main weapon in a hotly fought campaign, they unleash something dark and hateful that always lurks in all countries not far beneath the surface.

Did we delude ourselves we were a tolerant country – or can we still save our better selves? Over recent years, struggling to identify “Britishness”, to connect with a natural patriotic love of country that citizens have every right to feel, politicians floundering for a British identity reach for the reassuring idea that this cradle of democracy is blessed with some special civility.

But if the vote is out [of the EU], then out goes that impression of what kind of country we are. Around the world we will be seen as the island that cut itself off out of anti-foreigner feeling: that will identify us globally more than any other attribute. Our image, our reality, will change overnight.

Contempt for politics is dangerous and contagious, yet it has become a widespread default sneer. There was Jo Cox, a dedicated MP, going about her business doing what good MPs do, making herself available to any constituents with any problems to drop in to her surgery. Just why she became the victim of such a vicious attack, we may learn eventually. But in the aftermath of her death, there are truths of which we should remind ourselves right now.

Democracy is precious and precarious. It relies on a degree of respect for the opinions of others, soliciting support for political ideas without stirring up undue savagery and hatred against opponents. [Continue reading…]

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British MP Jo Cox, a passionate campaigner for the people of Syria, murdered in Yorkshire

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain’s Labour party has issued this tribute to Jo Cox:

The whole of the Labour party and Labour family – and indeed the whole country – will be in shock at the horrific murder of Jo Cox today.

Jo had a lifelong record of public service and a deep commitment to humanity. She worked both for Oxfam and the anti-slavery charity, the Freedom Fund, before she was elected last year as MP for Batley and Spen – where she was born and grew up.

Jo was dedicated to getting us to live up to our promises to support the developing world and strengthen human rights – and she brought those values and principles with her when she became an MP.

Jo died doing her public duty at the heart of our democracy, listening to and representing the people she was elected to serve. It is a profoundly important cause for us all.

Jo was universally liked at Westminster, not just by her Labour colleagues, but across Parliament.

In the coming days, there will be questions to answer about how and why she died. But for now all our thoughts are with Jo’s husband Brendan and their two young children. They will grow up without their mum, but can be immensely proud of what she did, what she achieved and what she stood for.

We send them our deepest condolences. We have lost a much loved colleague, a real talent and a dedicated campaigner for social justice and peace. But they have lost a wife and a mother, and our hearts go out to them.

The Guardian reported earlier: The Labour MP Jo Cox is in a critical condition after being shot and stabbed multiple times after a constituency meeting. [“Dee Collins, the chief constable of West Yorkshire police, announces that Jo Cox has died.” The Guardian.]

Armed officers responded to the attack near a library in Birstall, West Yorkshire, on Thursday afternoon. A 52-year-old man was arrested in the area, police confirmed. The suspect was named locally as Tommy Mair.

Police added that Cox, the MP for Batley and Spen, had suffered “serious injuries and is in a critical condition”. She has been taken by helicopter to Leeds General Infirmary.

Police also confirmed a man in his late 40s to early 50s nearby suffered slight injuries in the incident. They are also investigating reports that the suspect shouted “Britain first”, a possible reference to the far-right political party of that name, as he launched the attack. [Continue reading…]

BuzzFeed reports: In parliament Cox has proved herself a committed campaigner on the Syrian crisis. Last October she joined forces with Tory former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell to write an article in The Observer calling for more UK action to help desperate families in the region.

She also launched the all-party Parliamentary Friends of Syria group, which she now chairs. Cox abstained in the House of Commons vote on UK airstrikes in Syria, saying she was not against them in principle but “cannot actively support them unless they are part of a plan”.

Cox has described herself as a “huge President Obama fan” – indeed she worked on his first campaign in 2008 – but she has criticised both him and David Cameron for putting Syria on the “too difficult” pile. She warned last month this had led to the biggest refugee crisis in Europe in a generation and the emergence of ISIS. [Continue reading…]

Here is Cox speaking recently on the need to help Syrians.

 

Here she was giving her maiden speech last year, describing the diverse West Yorkshire constituency she represented:

 

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