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Suspect arrested, says the killings were not racially motivated; police state it is too early to declare this a hate crime.

At least eight people, including six Asian women, were killed in shootings at three different spas in the US state of Georgia on Tuesday, with a 21-year-old white man in custody on suspicion of staging all three attacks, police have said.

The shootings came with many Asian Americans already on edge following a recent spike in hate crimes against the community and triggered immediate fears that Asian-run businesses may have been deliberately singled out.

The bloodshed began around 17:00 EDT (21:00 GMT) on Tuesday when four people were killed and another was wounded in a shooting at Young’s Asian Massage in Cherokee County, about 64km (40 miles) north of Atlanta, Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s office said.

The Atlanta police department separately confirmed that four women were found dead at two business establishments in northeast Atlanta, identified as the Gold Massage Spa and Aroma Therapy spa.

Law enforcement personnel leave a massage parlour where a person was shot and killed on March 16, 2021, in Atlanta, Georgia [Elijah Nouvelage/AFP]

Authorities have identified Robert Aaron Long as a suspect in all three shootings and say he acted alone.
“The suspect did take responsibility for the shootings. He said that early on, once we began interviews with him,” Baker said at a news conference on Wednesday.

“He does claim that it was not racially motivated”, Baker said, explaining that Long has a “what he considers a sex addiction” and saw the parlours as “temptations he wanted to eliminate”.

Local newspaper the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Long bought a gun from a local shop the same day the shootings occurred.

Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said it is too early to definitively say whether this was a hate crime. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms added that there has not been “a significant uptick in formal complaints” of violence from the city’s Asian American community but recognised the spike in reports of violence against Asian Americans across the country, calling it “unacceptable”.

This handout booking photo released by the Crisp County Sheriff’s Office on March 16, 2021, shows 21-year-old shooting suspect Robert Aaron Long [Crisp County Sheriff’s Office Handout/AFP]

Long was taken into custody after a “brief pursuit” about 240km (150 miles) from Atlanta, according to a statement by the Georgia Department of Safety on Facebook.

 

Describing the scene in northeast Atlanta, the city police department said: “Upon arrival, officers located three females deceased inside the location from apparent gunshot wounds.”

While on the scene, officers were advised of shots fired across the street, where they found a fourth female victim.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was assisting in the investigation, a spokesman told the AFP news agency.

‘Marginalised minorities’

South Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement that its diplomats in Atlanta have confirmed from police that four of the victims who died were women of Korean descent.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is in South Korea meeting with Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong, mentioned the killings during an opening statement.

“We are horrified by this violence which has no place in America or anywhere,” he said, noting that four of the women were believed to be of Korean descent.

The shootings come as reports of attacks against Asian Americans, primarily elders, have spiked in recent months – heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic, activists believe, by talk of the “Chinese virus” by former President Donald Trump and others.

President Joe Biden told reporters at the White House the “question of motivation is still to be determined”, but acknowledged concerns, saying whatever is “the motivation here I know that Asian-Americans are very concerned.”

Vice President Kamala Harris told reporters before a meeting with Prime Minister Micheal Martin that she stands with the Asian-American community.

“We are not yet clear about the motive. But I do want to say to our Asian-American community that we stand with you and understand how this has frightened and shocked and outraged all people, knowing the increasing level of hate crime against our Asian-American brothers and sisters”, she said.

“Our entire family is praying for the victims of these horrific acts of violence,” Governor Brian Kemp said Tuesday evening on Twitter.

The New York police department’s counterterrorism bureau said it was “monitoring the shooting of Asian Americans in Georgia” and deploying officers “to our great Asian communities across the city out of an abundance of caution”, though it added there was no known link to the city.

A police officer stands outside a massage parlour where three people were shot and killed on March 16, 2021, in Atlanta, Georgia [Elijah Nouvelage/AFP]

While racial motivation can be hard to establish, a study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at CSU San Bernardino found that reported anti-Asian hate crimes nearly tripled from 49 to 122 cases last year across 16 big US cities including New York and Los Angeles – even as overall hate crime fell 7 percent.

 

Georgia is home to nearly 500,000 Asian residents, or just more than 4 percent of its population, according to the Asian American Advocacy Fund.

The Democratic party in Georgia called Tuesday’s shooting spree “horrifying”.

“As details continue to emerge, this attack sadly follows the unacceptable pattern of violence against Asian Americans that has skyrocketed throughout this pandemic,” said Congresswoman Nikema Williams, who is also the state party’s chairwoman.

“Today’s tragic killings in reaffirm the need for us to step up and protect ALL of America’s marginalized minorities from racism,” tweeted Ben Crump, a lawyer known for representing several high-profile Black victims of police brutality in the United States in recent years.

In an address to the nation last Thursday, President Joe Biden forcefully condemned what he called “vicious hate crimes against Asian Americans who have been attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated”.

“It’s wrong. It’s un-American. And it must stop,” he said.

 

Source: AlJazeera

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Explosive comments made by US President Joe Biden, in which he suggested his Russian counterpart is “a killer,” have ignited a diplomatic row, as Moscow’s chief parliamentarian said the remarks constitute an attack on the country.
In a statement posted to Telegram, the speaker of the State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, said that “Biden has insulted the citizens of our country with his statement” about Vladimir Putin. “This is a tantrum that comes from powerlessness. Putin is our president, attacking him is an attack on our country,” he added.

Volodin contrasted the tone of the criticism to that of previous US presidents, who, despite often overseeing tense relations with Russia, and the USSR before it, maintained mutual respect. Even former president Donald Trump, he claimed, “despite the decisions that were being made on sanctions, maintained rhetoric appropriate to the level of head of state.”

However, he argued, “Biden’s statement today is beyond common sense. This is no way for the leader of a country that claims to be a bearer of democratic principles and morality to behave.“

The American president made the remarks in an interview on Wednesday with the ABC news channel. He was asked by chief anchor George Stephanopoulos whether he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin was “a killer.”“Mmm-hmm, I do,” Biden replied.

Biden said he had warned Putin earlier this year that he would take action if evidence was found of Russian interference in the 2020 US election. “He will pay a price,” Biden said. “We had a long talk, he and I … I know him relatively well. And the conversation started off, and I said, ‘I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred, then be prepared.’”

Earlier this week, a joint report by Washington’s spy agencies declared that Russia had attempted to influence the 2020 vote with the aim of “denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US.”

The Kremlin has denied the claims, with Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, insisting that “Russia did not interfere in previous elections and did not interfere with the elections mentioned in the 2020 report.” “Russia had nothing to do with any campaigns against any of the candidates. In this regard, we consider this report to be incorrect.”

 

Source: Morocco World News

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“It was a dark day” for Muslims, an Islamic group said.

Switzerland is moving forward to ban Muslim women from wearing the burqa or niqab (face coverings) in public spaces.

An official referendum in the country shows that 51.2% of Swiss voters are against the wearing of the burqa in public spaces against 48.8%.

Switzerland will only allow women to wear the burka inside places of prayer and for “native customs,” including carnival, the Guardian reported.

The right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) launched the proposal of the burqa ban in public spaces.

The party also launched a campaign, promoting posters that featured a woman in a black niqab and captions that call for the end of “extremism” and “radical Islam.”

In shock, the Muslim communities in Switzerland condemned the campaign against the ban, describing Sunday as a “black day” for Muslims.

The Islamic Central Council of Switzerland said the vote “proved that Islamophobia had increased in Switzerland since the ban on minarets in 2009.”

The council also described the day of the vote as a “dark day” for Muslims.

Swiss citizens voted on the proposal to ban the building of minarets when the SVP claimed the building was a sign of Islamisation.

“Today’s decision opens up old wounds, further expands the principle of legal inequality and sends a clear signal of exclusion to the Muslim minority. The result comes as no surprise. As credibly and competently as the Federal Council conducted the referendum campaign, it neglected the phenomenon of ‘radicalizing Islamophobia’ in society,” the council argued.

The Foulards Violet (Purple Scarfs) collective also commented on the decision to ban the burqa.

The collective said that its campaign against the burqa ban was victorious despite the outcome of the vote.

The collective also expressed commitment to continue to fight for women’s rights and promote feminism against sexism and racism in Switzerland.

A 2017 report on Islamophobia expressed concerns regarding the challenges Muslims face in European countries in almost every place they go, including university, and workplaces.

“The rise of Islamophobia both reflects and strengthens the normalization of far-right discourse in the political spectrum across Europe. Within a few months, neofascist parties entered the German Bundestag, accessed strategic ministries in Austria, and registered historical results in the French, Dutch and Italian elections”, the report said.

Another report from HopeNotHate said in February that more than one in every three Europeans hold negative views on Muslims.

In addition to Switzerland, several European countries imposed laws to criminalize the wearing of the burqa in public spaces, including France, Belgium, and Austria.

 

Source: Morocco World News.

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Two Moroccan female leaders have been nominated for the Berkeley World Business Analytics Awards in the “Woman of the year” category.

The award celebrates individuals who are successful in their field of expertise.

Morocco’s Amal El Fallah Seghrouchni, an international expert in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and member of the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology of UNESCO is one of the nominees.

“I am very honored with this nomination for the Berkley World Business Analytics Award, Seghrouchni told state media.

Seghrouchni received her Ph.D. from the University Pierre and Marie Curie in the field of Artificial Intelligence.

The Fisher Center for Business Analytics (FCBA) organized the Berkeley World Business Analytics Awards for the first time to recognize women who work in innovation ecosystems around the world.

FCBA is one of the research centers of the Berkeley Haas School of Business.

Ten women will represent the African continent.

Sehrouchni expressed satisfaction and pride to be among the nominees, saying that iit is a “great distinction and recognition” not only for her scientific experience but also for her “ethical approach in the field of science and technology and in particular digital and artificial intelligence.”

In addition to Seghreouchi, Morocco’s Samira Khamlichi, CEO of WafaCash is also competing in the “Business Analytics projects of the year carried by women” category.

Khamilichis Served as the managing director of WafaCash since 2006, specializing in financial services and money transfer.

The banker holds a masters in Business Management.

She is also a member of several professional organizations such as the General Confederation of Morocco’s Entreprises (CGEM), the professional Association of Financing Companies (APSF), and the Professional Association of Payment Establishments (APEP).

The winners of the Berkeley Award are set to receive a Crystal Bear, a symbol of Berkeley University, in recognition of their skills.

The winners will also serve as “role models for the youth.”

The awards ceremony will take place in October 2021. The ceremony will be in person, but this will depend on the COVID-19 situation.

 

Source: Morocco World News.

 
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thank you jalil, much appreciated :))

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