Arab companies #BoycottFrenchProducts after President Macron’s remarks against Islam

Al Jazeera
October 26, 2020

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Several Arab trade associations have announced a boycott of French products, in response to recent comments made by President Emmanuel Macron on Islam.

Earlier this month, Macron pledged to fight “Islamist separatism”, which he said was threatening to take control in some Muslim communities around France.

He also described Islam as a religion “in crisis” worldwide and said the government would present a bill in December to strengthen a 1905 law that officially separated church and state in France.

His comments, in addition to his backing of satirical outlets publishing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, has led to a social media campaign calling for the boycott of French products from supermarkets in Arab countries and Turkey.

Hashtags such as the #BoycottFrenchProducts in English and the Arabic #NeverTheProphet trended across countries including Kuwait, Qatar, Palestine, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

In Kuwait, the chairman and members of the board of directors of the Al-Naeem Cooperative Society decided to boycott all French products and to remove them from supermarket shelves.

The Dahiyat al-Thuhr association took the same step, saying: “Based on the position of French President Emmanuel Macron and his support for the offensive cartoons against our beloved prophet, we decided to remove all French products from the market and branches until further notice.”

In Qatar, the Wajbah Dairy company announced a boycott of French products and pledged to provide alternatives, according to their Twitter account.

Al Meera Consumer Goods Company, a Qatari joint stock company, announced on Twitter: “We have immediately withdrawn French products from our shelves until further notice.”

“We affirm that as a national company, we work according to a vision consistent with our true religion, our established customs and traditions, and in a way that serves our country and our faith and meets the aspirations of our customers.”

Qatar University also joined the campaign. Its administration has postponed a French Cultural Week event indefinitely, citing the “deliberate abuse of Islam and its symbols”.

In a statement on Twitter, the university said any prejudice against Islamic belief, sanctities and symbols is “totally unacceptable, as these offences harm universal human values and the highest moral principles that contemporary societies highly regard”.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) described Macron’s statements as “irresponsible”, and said they are aimed at spreading a culture of hatred among peoples.

“At a time when efforts must be directed towards promoting culture, tolerance and dialogue between cultures and religions, such rejected statements and calls for publishing insulting images of the Prophet (Muhammad) – may blessings and peace be upon him – are published,” said the council’s secretary-general, Nayef al-Hajraf.

Al-Hajraf called on world leaders, thinkers and opinion leaders to reject hate speech and contempt of religions and their symbols, and to respect the feelings of Muslims, instead of falling captive to Islamophobia.

In a statement, Kuwait’s foreign ministry warned against the support of abuses and discriminatory policies that link Islam to terrorism, saying it “represents a falsification of reality, insults the teachings of Islam, and offends the feelings of Muslims around the world”.

On Friday, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned what it said was France’s continued attack against Muslims by insulting religious symbols.

The secretariat of the Jeddah-based organisation said in a statement it is surprised at the official political rhetoric issued by some French officials that offend French-Islamic relations and fuels feelings of hatred for political party gains.

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Agencies
November 21,2020

Washington, Nov 21: Joe Biden on Saturday reached the two-week mark since becoming president-elect, with President Donald Trump stinging from back-to-back setbacks in his desperate, unprecedented bid to undo his election defeat.

Biden, a Democrat, is preparing to take office on January 20, but Trump, a Republican, has refused to concede and is seeking to invalidate or overturn the results through lawsuits and recounts in a number of states, claiming — without proof — widespread voter fraud.

That effort, which critics call an unparalleled push by a sitting president to subvert the will of voters, has met with little success. Trump's campaign has suffered a string of legal defeats and appears to have failed to convince key fellow Republicans in states that he lost, such as Michigan, to buy into his unfounded conspiracy theories.

Trump's bid to cling to power appeared ever more tenuous on Friday after Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced a manual recount and audit of all ballots cast in the southern state had confirmed Biden as the winner there.

A pair of Michigan Republican leaders delivered another blow when they declared on Friday night after a White House meeting with Trump: "We have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan."

Trump, in his first public comments in days about the election outcome, again asserted "I won't" during a White House event on lowering drug prices earlier on Friday.

After a series of court defeats, the Trump team is resting its hopes on getting Republican-controlled legislatures in battleground states won by Biden to set aside the results and declare Trump the winner, according to three people familiar with the plan.

It is a long-shot effort focusing on Michigan and Pennsylvania for now, but even if both those states flipped to the president he would need to overturn the vote in another state to vault ahead of Biden in the Electoral College.

Such an event would be unprecedented in modern US history.

Pressure to start formal transition

Biden, who became president-elect on Nov. 7 after his win in Pennsylvania prompted major television networks to call the election, was due to spend Saturday meeting with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and transition advisers.

Trump will participate virtually this weekend in the last summit of the 20 biggest world economies (G20) of his term.

Trump's nationalistic "America First" approach has often created waves at multilateral summits like the G20, and many US allies have quietly welcomed the coming change of leadership in Washington.

Pressure for Trump to start the formal transition process has mounted, with a few more Republicans voicing doubts over his unsubstantiated claims of fraudulent voting.

There is a "right way and a wrong way" for Trump to contest what he sees as election irregularities, Susan Collins, the Maine Senator, said in a statement. "The right way is to compile the evidence and mount legal challenges in our courts. The wrong way is to attempt to pressure state election officials."

The General Services Administration, run by a Trump appointee, still has not recognized Biden's victory, preventing his team from gaining access to government office space and funding normally provided to an incoming administration.

Critics say Trump's refusal to concede has serious implications for national security and the fight against the coronavirus, which has killed more than 250,000 Americans.

Shut off from government funds, Biden's team on Friday ramped up their fundraising for the transition. Having taken in more than an initial $7 million target largely from wealthy donors, they turned to their campaign's vast mailing list of small donors, asking — according to a fundraising note — for contributions as small as $25.

Even as the Biden team remains unable to access resources and government experts to help assume management of the $4 trillion US government on Inauguration Day, Trump officials have been making unexpected changes to programs, policies and agencies that could affect the incoming administration.

The Treasury Department's surprise demand that the Federal Reserve return hundreds of billions of dollars in credit designed to back loans to businesses drew a sharp response from Biden's team on Friday, who called it "deeply irresponsible," given the country's accelerating Covid cases and new lockdowns.

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News Network
November 30,2020

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The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is assisting an inquiry into an alleged adverse reaction during AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine trial, but has found no reason to recommend halting it, a senior official at the regulator said on Sunday.

A 40-year-old man said in a complaint seen by Reuters that he had suffered serious "neurological and psychological" symptoms after receiving the vaccine in a trial being run by the British drugmaker's partner Serum Institute of India (SII).

"There was no immediate cause of concern at this stage," Samiran Panda, head of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases at the ICMR, the research body involved in trials, told Reuters.

"It doesn't mean that long term assessment will not happen, it is still happening. I am aware of the activity," Panda said.

AstraZeneca did not respond to a request for comment.

Law firm N.G.R. Prasad & R. Rajaram Advocates sent the complaint by the unnamed volunteer, who is seeking 50 million rupees ($676,288) in compensation and a suspension of testing, manufacturing and distribution of the vaccine, to ICMR, SII, AstraZeneca and the Drugs Controller General of India.

"While the Serum Institute of India is sympathetic with the volunteer's medical condition, there's absolutely no correlation with the vaccine trial," SII said.

"(The) volunteer was specifically informed by the medical team that the complications he suffered were independent of the vaccine trial he underwent," it added.

The Drugs Controller General of India, who is responsible for drug and vaccine approval, could not immediately be reached for comment on Sunday.

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News Network
December 1,2020

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Mangaluru, Dec 1: A deep-sea fishing boat capsized in the Arabian Sea, off the coast of Mangaluru today morning. Reports said six fishermen are missing while 16 have been rescued.

A total of 22 fishermen were on board the ill-fated boat at the time of the incident. Sources said that 16 fishermen have been rescued so far.

Five of the six missing fishermen have been identified as Ziaullah (32), Ansar (31), Hussainar (25), Chinthan (21) and Preetham Suvarna (58). A search and rescue operation is currently underway.

In a similar development, at least 12 fishermen were stranded mid-sea after their boat’s engine developed a snag. A boat carrying 12 fishermen, that was sailing from Vasai in Maharashtra's Palghar district four days back, got stranded in the Arabian sea due to engine failure.

Palghar district disaster control cell chief Vivekanand Kadam said the fishermen from Vasai had embarked on the fishing expedition.

"But when the boat was proceeding towards Gujarat, its engine developed a snag and the boat got stuck midway," he said.

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