Antananarivo: Hundreds of thousands of people on Sunday gathered on the outskirts of the Madagascan capital Antananarivo to hear Pope Francis say mass and deliver a homily condemning “privilege and exclusion” on the second leg of his three-nation African tour.
Many people wore pope-emblazoned white and yellow caps — the colours of the Vatican, and cheered as the pope-mobile made its way through wind-swept clouds of red dust at the sprawling site near Soamandrakizay.
The massive crowd, estimated by organisers to be as big as one million, had waited patiently from the early hours to see the first pope to visit the poor Indian Ocean island nation in 30 years.
After mass, Francis visited Akamasoa — “good friends” in the Malagasy language — a refuge town founded by Argentinian priest Father Pedro and built on a dump that has helped lift thousands of waste-pickers out of poverty.
Hordes of young people there gathered in a gymnasium to welcome the pontiff, cheering and waving flags as he entered alongside Pedro — often referred by locals to as the “arm of God” or “the second pope”.
“Akamasoa is an expression of God´s presence in the midst of his people who are poor,” said the pope.
“This village reflects a long history of courage and mutual assistance.”
Father Pedro, who moved to the poverty-stricken island country in 1976, echoed the pope´s remarks.
“In Akamasoa we have shown that poverty is not a fatality, but that it was created by a lack of social sensibility from political leaders who have turned their backs on the people who elected them.”
In Madagascar — home to 25 million people — the vast majority live in poverty on an income of less than two dollars a day. More than half its young people are jobless.
The country ranks 152 out of 180 nations on Transparency International´s Corruption Perceptions Index in 2018.
The Vatican said organisers estimated one million people gathered to attend the pontiff´s morning mass, with crowds stretching far into the distance.
Some described it as the biggest public gathering in Madagascar´s history.
The last pope to visit Madagascar was John Paul II 30 years ago.
Francis visited Mozambique earlier in the week and is due to travel to the island of Mauritius on Monday.
The Taliban said the US “will be harmed more than anyone” but left the door open for future negotiations Sunday after President Donald Trump abruptly announced that he had called off year-long talks to end America’s longest war.
“We still… believe that the American side will come back to this position… Our fight for the past 18 years should have proven to the Americans that we will not be satisfied until we witness the complete end of the occupation,” the group said in a statement released on Twitter by spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
The statement said the insurgents had “finalised” a deal with the US that had been expected to allow Washington to begin withdrawing troops in exchange for security promises from the Taliban.
It added that both sides had been preparing for the deal to be announced and signed when Trump tweeted late Saturday that he had “called off peace negotiations”.
Trump had cited a Taliban attack in Kabul on Thursday which killed 12 people including a US soldier as his reason for calling off the talks, including a secret meeting with the insurgents at Camp David in Maryland planned for this weekend.
But the Taliban dismissed his reasoning in their statement, saying it showed “neither experience nor patience”, and accused the US of killing “hundreds of Afghans” in the fighting.
“Americans will be harmed more than any other,” by Trump’s decision, the statement said, adding that the US’s “credibility will be harmed, their anti-peace stance will become more visible to the world, their casualties and financial losses will increase, and the US role in international political interaction will be discredited even further.”
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday constituted a high-level committee to formulate short, medium and long term plans to address issues being faced by the residents of Karachi.
The prime minister constituted the committee on part of the federal government to address various public issues while chairing a meeting to review cleanliness drive and other development projects in Karachi.
The committee was directed to submit its early recommendations on the proposed plans, PM office media wing said in a press release.
The meeting was attended by federal ministers Barrister Farogh Naseem, Makhdoom Khusru Bakhtiar, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, Special Assistant Dr Zafar Mirza, Aftab Hussain Siddiqui MNA, Firdous Shamim Naqvi and Haleem Adil Siddiqui, members of Sindh Assembly, director general FWO Major General Inam Haider Malik and other senior officials.
The meeting took stock of issues like supply of clean drinking water, sewerage, cleanliness, mass transit system and others.
PM Imran constitutes high level committee to address Karachi issues.
During the meeting, the premier expressed his serious concerns over the issues faced by the people in Karachi and said that the federal government would play its full role in the resolution of these issues.
He said the federal government wanted resolution of these problems so that residents of the port city could get better facilities as he added that Pakistan’s future was linked with Karachi as being its financial hub.
Besides, scarcity of clean drinking water, the residents were facing serious health issues as well, he observed while also directed continuation of cleanliness drive in the city.
The director general FWO briefed the meeting about the progress on the cleanliness drive.
Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx on Saturday called on America to tackle the “sinister undercurrent” of racism in its justice system, as his courthouse drama set in a starkly polarized Deep South debuted at Toronto’s film festival.
Foxx and Michael B. Jordan — two of Hollywood’s top black A-listers — co-star in “Just Mercy,” the true story of a black man put on death row in Alabama in 1988 for the murder of a young white woman he did not commit.
“We wanted to make sure people understand how tragic it is, and how commonplace it is — it happens all the time,” said Foxx, who plays wrongfully convicted Walter McMillian.
“The perception of Walter McMillan is what got him (convicted), along with the sinister undercurrent of what racism can do — to just take a man out of his car and say ‘you killed somebody’ in a place he’d never been,” he added.
Foxx warned that in the age of the Black Lives Matter movement, too many black and white people remain ignorant or indifferent to racism, and said he hoped the film could awaken people to the prejudice.
He described his own experiences growing up black in Texas and “hearing the N-word being hurled so matter-of-factly,” adding that he still feels fear when a cop car appears behind his Rolls-Royce.
The film charts the work of Bryan Stevenson, who as a young black lawyer fresh from Harvard moved to America’s Deep South in the 1980s to fight for accused and condemned people without access to legal representation.
Stevenson quickly found that witnesses who helped condemn McMillian had been coerced, and began an uphill legal battle for his client’s exoneration.
“As a black man, our communities were preyed upon. And to be able to do my part — use my platform — to get this story out is extremely important to me,” Jordan, who plays Stevenson, told AFP on Friday’s red carpet.
“Stevenson is an incredible human being — he´s a real life superhero,” he added at a panel discussion Saturday.
– ‘Quietly amazing’ –
“Just Mercy” has earned largely positive reviews, with some critics tipping Jordan for Oscar glory.
Variety said the movie “will shake you to your soul,” and praised Jordan’s “quietly amazing” performance, while IndieWire said the “Black Panther” star “practically carries the movie across the finish line by himself.”
The movie comes at a time when the divisive issue of race is occupying center stage in the United States.
White identity politics is a centerpiece of President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election strategy, while racial inequality has been a subject of debate among the Democratic candidates, including whether reparations should be paid to descendants of slaves.
The real-life Stevenson, who also attended the festival, said politicians live in a bubble too far removed from the suffering of those who are robbed of justice due to racism.
“If people saw what I see on a regular basis, they would want the same things I want,” said Stevenson, who founded Alabama-based human rights group the Equal Justice Initiative.
He said that more than 150 years after emancipation “this idea that black people aren’t as good as white people, that our lives don’t matter” endures.
“Slavery didn’t end in 1865, it just evolved. We had 100 years of lynching, segregation, all of that,” he said.
“And today, we’re still living at a time where there’s a presumption of dangerousness and guilt that gets assigned to black and brown people.”
Tom Tate, the Alabama sheriff who is portrayed as the film’s villain, was reelected six times and only retired this year, Stevenson said.
“The politics of fear and anger will make you tolerate things you’re not supposed to tolerate,” he warned.
The Toronto International Film Festival, the largest in North America, runs until September 15.
As the newest lovebirds in town Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes paint the town red with their endearing romance, the former may have finally confessed that there is a possibility of her ultimately falling in love.
During a recent interview with Elle Magazine, the 22-year-old singer addressed the buzz around her remaining mum on her relationship with Mendes, and how the two are going to fall for each other while putting the rest of the world out of focus.
“We are going to live our own lives, enjoy it, and fall for each other like nobody is watching,” she said adding that: “That is how I want to live. I never want to open the door for people to feel like they are involved. Like I said, I want it to be mine and [his]. That’s why I’m so tight-lipped about it: because I want to protect it.”
She went on to reveal what it felt like working alongside Mendes and how she wasn’t initially interested in doing the collaboration with him over ‘Señorita’ but owing to the song being stuck in her head, she went ahead with the idea only to find Mendes was no longer interested.
She revealed that the changes went on for another eight months. “Then we finally went into the studio and reworked it so we both felt good about it, without any pressure. I love working with him so much,” she said.
ISLAMABAD: Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi Sunday reiterated China’s support for Pakistan in safeguarding its sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and national dignity and said that China had opposed any unilateral steps which complicated the situation.
In a meeting with the Chinese foreign minister who called on him at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, the president warmly welcomed the Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Pakistan and felicitated him on the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
He reiterated that China was Pakistan’s closest friend, staunch partner and iron brother.
President Arif Alvi briefed Foreign Minister Wang Yi on India’s unilateral and illegal actions of August 5, which were aimed at changing the internationally recognized disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir as well as its demographic structure and identity.
The president stressed that the inhuman lock-down continuing for 35 days had imposed unspeakable suffering on the people of IOJ&K and created a dire humanitarian situation which needed to be addressed urgently.
He urged that the curfew, affecting nine million people, should be lifted allowing the suppressed people to at least meet their very basic needs.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi thanked President for the warm welcome accorded to him and his delegation.
Both sides reiterated that CPEC had entered a new phase of high-quality development.
They agreed to continue to firmly push forward the construction of CPEC, complete its on-going projects, and realize its full potential by focusing on socio-economic development, job creation, poverty alleviation, industrialization, and agriculture.
The two countries reaffirmed their commitment of honoring the tradition of Pakistan and China supporting each others’ respective core national interest.
The visit provided a strong impetus to further deepen and reinforce the time-tested friendship between both Pakistan and China and provided an opportunity to strengthen strategic communication and coordination between the two countries.
Misleading social media posts about the anti-migrant violence gripping South Africa have been spreading across the continent, fuelling tensions that have already sparked reprisal attacks in Nigeria. Some posts purporting to show the violence contain old images, or footage from a different country altogether. Here’s a round-up of the various posts we’ve fact-checked.
A deadly fire in India
Tens of thousands of Facebook and Twitter users have watched videos showing people frantically jumping out of a burning building. If the captions are to believed, the footage shows the deadly violence in Johannesburg.
“I am leaving South Africa, please don’t call me while away, I will call you,” reads the caption on one such Facebook post, which we’ve archived here. The post, which has been shared more than 900 times, says the video was filmed in the Johanesburg central business district.
In fact, the video was not filmed in South Africa at all, but in India. It shows a horrific fire in the western Indian city of Surat, which killed 20 teenagers last May. With the help of AFP’s Fact-Check team in India, we compared the video to local news reports at the time to confirm the video shows the fire in Surat — you can read the full fact-check here.
An old video stokes anger in Nigeria
The attacks on foreign-owned stores in South Africa have prompted fury in the continent’s other superpower, Nigeria.
Nigerians have taken to the internet in droves to express anger over the violence, with Femi Fani-Kayode, a former aviation minister and prominent commentator, whipping up fears about the “mass murder of Nigerians”.
On Monday, Fani-Kayode posted a Facebook video showing what he said was a South African minister “subtly trying to justify the killing of Nigerians”. While the video did show former deputy police minister Bongani Mkongi complaining about immigration, it was filmed back in 2017 and Mkongi is no longer minister. Read our fact-check about the video here.
Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama on Wednesday warned that misleading social media posts were fanning the tensions, stressing that no Nigerians have been confirmed among the ten citizens killed.
“There is a lot of stories going around of Nigerians being killed, jumping off buildings and being burnt. This is not the case,” he said.
“What we know in that premises, shops of Nigerians have been looted and property destroyed.”
Inaccurate posts about reprisal attacks
As reported by AFP, South African businesses have been targeted in reprisal attacks in Nigerian cities, and South Africa on Thursday shut its diplomatic missions in Lagos and Abuja as a security measure.
South African telecoms operator MTN has been among those targeted, and the company announced on Wednesday that it was temporarily closing its Nigerian outlets.
Photos have been circulating online supposedly showing one such reprisal attack at an MTN branch in Apapa, Lagos.
However, as we note in this debunk, these particular photos are several years old and an MTN spokesman said this office had not been attacked.
Images of earlier unrest
South Africa has suffered repeated waves of xenophobic unrest in recent years, fuelled by angry accusations that migrants from other African countries take up scarce jobs.
Since the unrest broke out on Sunday, various images showing similar attacks in previous years have begun surfacing again online, in posts claiming that they show the current situation.
They include an AFP photograph taken during a confrontation in Johannesburg in April 2015 — check out this fact-check for more.
In some cases, people have been sharing images and videos from earlier incidents unrelated to tensions over immigration.
One video has been shared thousands of times via various accounts, alongside claims that it shows a foreign national set alight by South Africans during this week’s unrest. But as explained here, the footage shows an attack last January, when people beat and burned a man in the street for allegedly trying to steal a handbag.
Graphic videos of a man being attacked with stones have also been spreading online, but as detailed in this post, the incident happened a month ago. Local media reports also suggest the videos show a mob attacking two suspected robbers and that the incident was not related to immigration.
Actors filming a shootout
Finally, a video of a dramatic shootout has racked up tens of thousands of views on Facebook since the unrest began.
In fact, AFP has fact-checked it on two previous occasions. While many social media users have taken for a genuine video of the unrest, a longer version of the footage shows that the participants in the “shootout” are actors.
You can read an earlier fact-check we published about the post, when it was circulating alongside claims that it showed a gang shootout, here.
MANCHESTER: ‘Operation Swift Retort’ is a new Pakistani animated film produced and directed by DJ Kamal Mustafa. The film is exposing India’s Balakot strike drama and response of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) where JF17 Thunder shot down two Indian jets (MiG21 & Sukhoi 30) and captured Indian Pilot Abhinandhan.
The film depicts true events against claims of Indian Air force (IAF) that they carried out a successful operation inside Pakistan and killed more than 350 terrorists. However, Indian propaganda was widely exposed by Pakistan Army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor.
On the night of February 26, the Indian Air Force violated Pakistan airspace and dropped its payload at the “Jabba” location in ‘Balakot’, Pakistan. As a result, a beautiful forest was destroyed but fortunately, there were no casualties. The next morning, on February 27, Indian aircraft violated Pakistan airspace again but Pakistan Air Force was completely alert and thus Pakistan destroyed two aircraft and caught the Indian pilot alive.
Karachi based Animator, Kamal Mustafa, who is one of a few animators in Pakistan, while speaking to this scribe said: “I want to dedicate this film to Pakistani Air Force, Pilots Hassan Siddiqui and Noman Ali Khan, DG ISPR Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan.”
He said: “Operation Swift Retort is my third animated film but this is first of its kind to be ever produced in Pakistan. The characters of the film are made through adobe fuse character creator. I have also used different high class graphics, game engines, software and modeling software for the first time in Pakistan.
He added further: “I believe film is a medium where we can counter propaganda and can counter narrative by creating content which is based on true facts but sadly in Pakistan film is seen as a medium of entertainment only.”
The 23-min long film was made and released after various approvals and is available on YouTube and social digital platforms.
MULTAN: Multan police on Sunday arrested three suspects for allegedly being involved in shaving the head of a woman after she eloped.
According to police sources, a married woman namely Kausar Mai, wife of Zahoor Ahmed of Jhok Qasaiyan, had allegedly eloped with a man of her choice.
Her family members including her father Habib and her father-in-law Fareed, along with three others, brought her back and shaved her head as punishment.
The punishment was awarded by a panchayat, said sources.
However, the affected woman, in an application submitted to Basti Malook police station, stated that her in-laws used to torture her.
She said she had gone to the market with her mother-in-law Mumtaz Bibi, where the two broke into a quarrel over some issue.
She left her mother-in-law in the market and went to her female friend’s house.
However, her father later brought her back home, she added.
She said that her father-in-law Fareed, her father Habib and three others were involved in shaving her head while also giving her death threats.
Police have registered a case under section 337V, 506/B, 354/ 148, 149 and 109. Similarly, police also arrested three persons involved in the case.
Twenty-year-old Rahima Akter Khushi.
A Bangladesh university has suspended a student for being Rohingya, officials said Sunday, as impatience with the refugees grows following a second failed attempt to repatriate them to Myanmar.
Some 740,000 of the Muslim minority fled to southeast Bangladesh after a military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August 2017, joining 200,000 Rohingya already there.
Formal education in Bangladesh is forbidden for refugees.
Cox’s Bazar International University said it had suspended Rahima Akter Khushi, 20, and would investigate her case after local media said she hid her Rohingya identity to enroll.
“Rohingya can’t be admitted to our university, because they are refugees,” the institution’s head Abul Kashem said.
“Foreigners can study here, but they must follow a procedure.”
He said the young woman had supplied documents showing she completed high-school studies in Bangladesh’s port city of Chittagong.
Khushi, who was studying law, told AFP the private university’s decision had “mentally shattered” her.
“Any other girl may have killed themselves by now. But… I am trying my best to face the situation,” she said.
– ‘Overreaction’ –
The decision follows the latest repatriation attempt by Bangladesh and Myanmar, which failed with not a single refugee volunteering to cross the border back home.
Dhaka also recalled or re-assigned senior government officials who allowed some 200,000 Rohingya to take part in a rally to mark the second anniversary of the mass exodus on August 25, several days after the repatriation attempt.
Bangladeshi authorities have since ordered operators to shut down mobile phone services in the refugee camps, which have seen an outbreak of violence in recent weeks, while high-speed internet has also been suspended at night.
Rights group Human Rights Watch on Saturday urged the government to end the communications clampdown, saying it had “made matters worse.”
“The authorities should take a level-headed approach instead of overreacting to tensions and protests by isolating Rohingya refugees in camps,” HRW Asia director Brad Adams said in a statement.
News website Rohingya Post said Khushi was targeted after a 2018 interview with international news agency Associated Press went viral in Cox’s Bazar, where the camps are.
Khushi said her parents arrived in Bangladesh from Rakhine in the 1990s and she was born and raised in Cox’s Bazar.
“I wanted to go further. But I don’t know how I would do it,” Khushi told AFP.
Brisbane-based Rohingya leader Mojib Ullah said suspending Khushi would do “nothing but kill potential” in the community, who had limited opportunities to study in Rakhine.