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School’s out, but universities are still fighting for their international students in wake of travel bans

Wednesday June 28, 2017

Earlier this year, Mustapha Ibrahim, a freshman at the University of Rochester in New York, had been planning to celebrate the end of Ramadan last weekend with his family in Somalia.

Ibrahim had intended to return home over the summer after he finished his first year of school in the U.S., which also marked the first time he’d set foot in America.

Instead, the 20-year-old is spending his summer break on campus. He’s one of thousands of international students whose summer plans were put in limbo earlier this year by two successive executive orders prohibiting entry into the U.S. by citizens of several Muslim-majority countries for 90 days.

Since the orders were issued, universities have been on the frontlines of the fight against them. They’ve stood up for their students and faculty from the countries listed in the orders, opposing the bans with protests and statements in the courts, and with advice and workshops with immigration lawyers.

After federal judges blocked the nationwide enactment of the first ban and then of its successor, the U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it will hear arguments in the case this October. In the meantime, the justices upheld the ban for foreigners who have no relationship to the U.S. and who have not previously visited the country. Those with ties to America, presumably including students at American colleges, will be allowed in, for now.

“Today’s unanimous Supreme Court decision is a clear victory for our national security. It allows the travel suspension for the six terror-prone countries and the refugee suspension to become largely effective,” President Trump wrote in a statement Monday.

Federal courts had previously ruled that the travel bans had violated the First Amendment, and that Trump had overstepped his authority as president.

But even while the orders were entirely halted by the courts, students felt threatened by the possibility of delays at customs, detention at airports or rejected visa applications. And there were concerns that a future executive order could bar them from the country, leaving them stranded and unable to complete their schooling.

More than one million international students study in the U.S. According to 2015 data from the Department of Homeland Security, there are 23,763 international students in the U.S. who would have been affected by the first version of the travel ban, which shut out citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The revised ban, which does not apply to citizens of Iraq, would have affected 22,688 students, according to the 2015 data.

More than 50 university presidents, including all of those of the Ivy League, signed a February letter calling on Trump to “rectify or rescind” the first executive order. The American Association of University Professors, which represents professors at more than 500 campuses nationwide, condemned both travel bans, calling the first executive order “unconstitutional and discriminatory.”

“When you ban people, you threaten academic freedom,” the AAUP wrote in response to the second order.

Rutgers University anthropology professor David Hughes said he’s only seen this level of activism on campuses during anti-apartheid demonstrations in the mid-1980s.

“Trump’s policies are an existential threat to our learning environment,” Hughes said, explaining that faculty members felt obligated to take action against the executive orders.

“We have long-term responsibilities,” Hughes said. “It takes six years or so to get a degree. We like to advise and mentor students that go well beyond the classroom or semester. … Trump’s policies were going to divide us from our responsibilities and our duties. We said

Trump could only get to these students by going through us and we were not going to let him get through us.”

After the initial protests and statements, universities took to the courts. In the first months of the legal battle against the bans, more than 30 universities — including all eight Ivy League institutions — jointly filed amicus curiae briefs against both of the executive orders in court. Though the universities are not involved directly with any of the lawsuits, the intent behind an amicus brief is to influence the court’s decision.

“The Executive Order has serious and chilling implications for amici’s students, faculty, and scholars,” a March 31 brief filed against the second executive order reads. “[The order] impairs the ability of American universities to draw the finest international talent, and inhibits the free exchange of ideas.”

For international students, the travel bans prompted many to remain in the U.S. over the summer rather than face the potentially arduous task of reentry.

“Their families would be calling them and telling them we don’t want you to come home because we don’t want to risk this opportunity for you,” said Molly Jolliff, director of international student engagement at the University of Rochester.

Several institutions have stepped in to help international students, offering free or subsidized housing, helping students find summer jobs or arranging summer classes. Those schools include Ithaca College in New York and Ohio University, which have provided housing to students. Northeastern University, in Boston, which has about 250 international students, advised its students to remain in the U.S. over the summer.

Arrangements to help students at the University of Rochester have become so comprehensive that the school has jokingly started to refer to the arrangements as “ban camp,” Jolliff said. But it’s more accurately described as a support program for students trying to do what they came to the U.S. to do: gain skills and a degree.

As Jolliff continued to work with students affected by the bans, she realized that summer brought Ramadan, a month-long holiday of fasting and prayer for Muslims. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until sunset — but dining areas on the University of Rochester’s campus weren’t necessarily open when Muslim students could eat.

So Jolliff brought them fridges, which allowed the students to store food and eat on their own schedule.

“We wanted to make sure if we were supporting them to stay here that they were well taken care of,” she said. “I just saw a student posting [on social media] this week, because it is Ramadan, and they were expecting to be home with their family, that the political climate is not warm and welcoming to them, so they’re feeling isolated. They didn’t expect this level of uncertainty, scrutiny [or] risk.”

“It has been a really tough time not being able to go home and see family,” Ibrahim said. But he knows he probably won’t be able to return home until 2018, since he doesn’t want to risk rejection of his visa application for reentry, especially in this uncertain political climate.

The travel bans have caused some other international students to question whether they should attend U.S. institutions in the fall, with nearly 40 percent of colleges reporting an overall decrease in applications from international students this year compared to the previous year, according to a survey of more than 275 colleges by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. Applications from students in the Middle East have been particularly affected. But 35 percent of schools reported an increase in international student applications, suggesting it’s too early to conclude that there’s a “definite decline” in international student enrollment. The report concluded that the data do suggest an “early-warning sign of potential declines.”

After the 2016 election cycle, Joseph Helble, dean of the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, began noticing “substantial declines” in the number of international graduate student applications. He contacted more than 25 deans at other engineering schools, who reported similar declines in applications.

“We’ve not seen a situation like this in my 20-plus years as an academic, when international applications have declined dramatically, other than in the immediate aftermath of 9/11,” Helble said.

The dean knew that he had to do something to retain the international students who had been offered admission, so he recruited faculty and students to engage with admitted students and reassure them that they’re welcome at a U.S. institution.

“You are the world’s best and brightest,” Helble tells them. He noted that he won’t have comprehensive data about whether those retention efforts have been successful until the fall semester, when students arrive on campus.

Because the composition of engineering programs tends to be heavily international, they can more accurately reflect trends on how international students view education in the U.S., Helble said.

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The Dartmouth engineering dean remains optimistic about the short-term effects — noting that he thinks the yield of accepted students who choose to attend his program will remain the same as in previous years. But he’s worried about the potential long-term effects, noting that it’s not just about colleges, but about the U.S. economy.

“Engineering, science, STEM grad students are the next generation of tech developers [and] leaders,” Helble said. “If we cut that talent out, we’re starting far fewer companies, not offering economic growth opportunities.”

Even before they enter the workforce, international students contribute to the U.S. economy. In the 2015–2016 academic year, students added about $32.8 billion to the economy by spending money to support themselves during their education, according to a study by the nonprofit group NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Their presence helps support more than 400,000 jobs in the U.S. economy — such as those in higher education and transportation.

Ali Khaledi, a graduate student at Ohio University, had planned to build a life in the U.S. after completing a doctorate in physics. But with the introduction of the travel ban and an increasingly volatile political climate, he’s wondering whether he should pursue opportunities abroad instead.

“There’s a cloud of uncertainty above my career,” Khaledi said. “When I came to the U.S., I was planning on staying here, doing research, having a family at some point. Now I’m really wondering [if] this is a place that I want to be.”

Khaledi pointed to a shooting earlier this year in Kansas, where an Indian man was shot and killed in a bar because the shooter believed he was Iranian.

“These types of incidents make me wonder,” Khaledi said. “I changed my lifestyle, I try to avoid going places that I can’t see a lot of international students because I am afraid. What if they don’t like the way I look?”

One of Khaledi’s friends, a doctoral candidate from Iran, left the country to visit home despite his fear that he won’t be allowed back in. His father has had two surgeries, and it might be the last time he is able to see him. Even though his family downplayed his father’s condition and urged him to stay in the U.S., Khaledi said his friend is still choosing to return home.

Khaledi and Ibrahim both affirmed that international students endure emotional and mental strain from the executive orders and the worry over whether to stay in the U.S.

“When I was making the decision to stay here for the summer, … I felt like I had to make the decision between either going back home and might not be able to come back in for an education or not going back home and just abandoning family and continuing education,” Ibrahim said. “I still feel guilty about that. … it’s something that’s always on my mind.”

But Ibrahim remains optimistic about his plans to return to his family, at the latest after his college graduation.

“I know no matter what happens, I’m going back home,” Ibrahim said.



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Massive cyberattack hits Europe with widespread ransom demands

Wednesday June 28, 2017

MOSCOW — A new wave of powerful cyberattacks hit Europe and beyond on Tuesday in a possible reprise of a widespread ransomware assault in May.

Affected were a Russian oil giant, a Danish shipping and energy conglomerate, and Ukrainian government ministries, which were brought to a standstill in a wave of ransom demands. The virus even downed systems at the site of the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant, forcing scientists to monitor radiation levels manually.

Cyberattacks also spread as far as India and the United States, where the pharmaceutical giant Merck reported on Twitter that “our company’s computer network was compromised today as part of global hack.” The New Jersey-based company said it was investigating the attack.

Cyber researchers say that the virus, which was linked to malware called Petrwrap or Petya, used an “exploit” developed by the National Security Agency that was later leaked onto the Internet by hackers. It is the second massive attack in the past two months to turn powerful U.S. exploits against the IT infrastructure that supports national governments and corporations.

The onslaught of ransomware attacks may be the “new normal,” said Mark Graff, the chief executive of Tellagraff, a cybersecurity company.

“The emergence of Petya and WannaCry really points out the need for a response plan and a policy on what companies are going to do about ransomware,” he said. WannaCry was the ransomware used in the May attack. “You won’t want to make that decision at a time of panic, in a cloud of emotion.”

The attack mainly targeted Eastern Europe but also hit companies in Spain, Denmark, Norway and Britain. Victims included the British advertising and marketing multinational WPP and a shipping company, APM Terminals, based at the port of Rotterdam.

But the damage was worst in Ukraine.

Researchers at Kaspersky Lab’s Global Research and Analysis Team, in Russia, estimated that 60 percent of infected computers were in Ukraine and 30 percent in Russia.

The hacks targeted government ministries, banks, utilities and other important infrastructure and companies nationwide, demanding ransoms from government employees in the cryptocurrency bitcoin.

The hacks’ scale and the use of ransomware recalled the massive cyberattack in May in which hackers possibly linked to North Korea disabled computers in more than 150 nations using a flaw that was once incorporated into the National Security Agency’s surveillance tool kit.

Cyber researchers have tied the vulnerability exploited by Petya to the one used by WannaCry — a weakness discovered by the NSA years ago that the agency turned into a hacking tool dubbed EternalBlue. Petya, like WannaCry, is a worm that spreads quickly to vulnerable systems, said Bill Wright, senior policy counsel for Symantec, the world’s largest cyber­security firm. But that makes it difficult to control — or to aim at anyone in particular, he said.

“Once you unleash something that propagates in this manner, it’s impossible to control,” he said.

Although Microsoft in March made available a patch for the Windows flaw that EternalBlue exploited, Petya uses other techniques to infect systems, said Jeff Greene, Symantec government affairs director. “It’s a worm that has multiple ways to spread,” he said, which could explain why there are victims who applied the EternalBlue patch and still were affected.

The initial infection was in Ukraine and spread to Europe, said Paul Burbage, a malware researcher with Flashpoint, a cyberthreat analysis firm. Petya differs from WannaCry in that it does not appear to reach out to the Internet and scan for vulnerable systems, he said. It limits itself to the computers linked to the same router, he said.

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The ransomware used in the attacks is a variant of Petya called GoldenEye, which was sold on underground forums used mainly by Russian-speaking criminal hackers, he said.

The ransomware hit Europe in the early afternoon. Ground zero was Ukraine. Breaches were reported at computers governing the municipal energy company and airport in the capital, Kiev, the state telecommunications company Ukrtelecom, the Ukrainian postal service and the State Savings Bank of Ukraine.

Grocery store checkout machines broke down, ATMs demanded ransom payments, and the turnstile system in the Kiev metro reportedly stopped working.

The mayhem reached high into the government. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Pavlo Rozenko on Tuesday tweeted a picture of a computer screen warning in English that “one of your disks contains errors,” then adding in all capital letters: “DO NOT TURN OFF YOUR PC! IF YOU ABORT THIS PROCESS, YOU COULD DESTROY ALL YOUR DATA!”

“Ta-Dam!” he wrote. “It seems the computers at the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine have been ‘knocked out.’ The network is down.” His spokeswoman published a photograph showing demands for a ransom in bitcoin to release data encrypted by the virus.

Suspicions in Ukraine quickly fell on Russia, which annexed Crimea in 2014 and has been blamed for several large-scale cyberattacks on Ukraine’s power infrastructure. But no proof of the attack was presented, and Russian companies, like the oil giant Rosneft, also

complained of being hit by a “powerful hacking attack.” Photographs leaked to the news media from a Rosneft-owned regional oil company showed computers displaying ransomware demands similar to those in Ukraine.

The virus also brought havoc to Western Europe. A.P. Moller – Maersk, a Danish transport and energy conglomerate, announced that “Maersk IT systems are down across multiple sites and business units due to a cyber attack.”

The company was trying to determine exactly how broad the attack was. “We are assessing the situation, and of course the safety of our employees and our operations alongside our customers’ business — these are our top priorities,” Maersk spokeswoman Concepción Boo Arias said. 

Nakashima reported from Washington. Isaac Stanley-Becker in Berlin, Hamza Shaban and Julie Tate in Washington, and David Filipov in Moscow contributed to this report.




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UAE envoy to Russia threatens ‘goodbye Qatar’ sanctions

Wednesday June 28, 2017

UAE ambassador to Russia Omar Ghobash has threatened further sanctions against Qatar amid a deepening rift among Gulf States.

In an interview with the Guardian published on Wednesday, Ghobash said that a list of 13 demands conveyed to Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt could be followed with further economic pressures if Doha does not comply.

The list of demands included the shutting down Al Jazeera, cutting diplomatic ties with Iran, immediately halting the establishing of a Turkish military base in Qatar and ending any military cooperation with the NATO member.

Qatar must also refuse to further naturalize citizens from the four countries – especially in Bahrain’s case – and expel those currently in Doha, in what the countries describe as an effort to keep Qatar from meddling in their internal affairs.

“If Qatar was not willing to accept the demands, it is a case of ‘Goodbye Qatar’ we do not need you in our tent anymore,” Ghobash said.

“Their position today anyway is inconsistent with being members of the GCC because it is a common security and defense organization. There are certain economic sanctions that we can take which are being considered right now.

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“One possibility would be to impose conditions on our own trading partners and say you want to work with us then you have got to make a commercial choice.

Ghobash said that the list of demands also point to the fact that the UAE is “imposing the same standards on ourselves.”

He added: “So if we are to ask for the monitoring of Qatari financial transactions and its funding of terrorism then we would be open to the same idea. This is not bullying. This is demanding a higher standard throughout the whole region.

“We have nothing to hide ourselves so we are willing to meet the same standards we are asking Qatar. The west has traditionally complained of a lack of financial transparency in the region, and there must be a huge amount that the west can do to monitor what is happening.”

He also warned: “We can escalate with more information, because we are not going to escalate militarily. That is not the way we are looking at things.”

On the topic of Al Jazeera, Ghobash said: “We do not claim to have press freedom. We do not promote the idea of press freedom. What we talk about is responsibility in speech.

“Freedom of speech has different constraints in different places. Speech in our part of the world has a particular context, and that context can go from peaceful to violent in no time simply because of words that are spoken.”

Ghobash also warned Qatar about “choosing the Iranian route” and deepening ties with Tehran.

“We are asking Qatar to make a choice and we realize they may choose to take the route to Iran, and we are willing to accept the consequences of that.”



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Africa’s need is bigger than ever

Wednesday June 28, 2017

Now more than ever, Africa needs the help of the African Union (AU) and its partners in tackling security threats and other ongoing crises – particularly in the Sahel region and the Horn of Africa.

It’s these and other issues that are going to keep Africa’s leaders busy at the 29th AU summit in Addis Ababa from 27 June to 4 July, and more specifically the AU Assembly meeting of heads of state on 3 and 4 July.

Despite some progress since the last summit in January, AU operations have been affected by funding cuts from international partners such as the European Union (EU) and United States (US) – especially in Mali, Somalia and in the fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army.

The AU had been talking about establishing an African force to combat the terror threats in Mali and the Sahel region as a whole. But the AU’s reluctance to create the mission led the concerned G5 Sahel members (Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger) to establish a 5 000-strong joint force in the region in February this year.

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This is similar to the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) formed by the Lake Chad Basin Commission and Benin to fight Boko Haram in the region.

For the foreseeable future, the AU will continue to rely on regional coalitions to address terror threats in Africa while it provides legitimacy and support. The AU can complement these military initiatives by urging all its member states to focus on the many longer-term governance and human rights issues that drive people to join such movements.

Martin Ewi, senior researcher at the ISS, urges the AU’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) to ‘speedily operationalise the African list of terrorist individuals and organisations as provided in the 2002 Plan of Action on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism in Africa’.

This list should proscribe terror groups in the region and call on every country on the continent and beyond to cooperate in denying territorial space, financial and other vital resources that sustain the groups, he says.



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Sudan hopeful U.S. will lift economic sanctions despite travel ban ruling

Wednesday June 28, 2017

Sudan hopes the revival of President Donald Trump’s travel ban on its citizens and those of five other Muslim-majority states will not affect the planned lifting of U.S. economic sanctions next month, a Foreign Ministry official said on Tuesday.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday revived parts of a temporary travel ban on nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who lack strong ties with the United States but want to enter the country.

“We hope that this ban decision will not affect next month’s decision to lift U.S. economic sanctions, especially because Sudan has completed all the roadmap requirements that were asked of it,” Foreign Ministry official Abdelghany Naeem told Reuters.

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We hope that this ban decision will not affect next month’s decision to lift U.S. economic sanctions, especially because Sudan has completed all the roadmap requirements that were asked of it.

The roadmap’s conditions included cooperating with Washington in fighting terrorism, halting interference in South Sudan’s affairs and allowing humanitarian aid to safely reach to conflict zones in the region.

In January, the outgoing Obama administration gave Sudan 180 days to improve its human rights record and resolve its political and military conflicts before Washington lifts some major economic sanctions stepped up in 2006 for what it said was complicity in violence in Sudan’s Darfur region.

“We support the United States’ right to protect its national security, but we insist that Sudanese citizens do not pose any dangers to American security,” Naeem said.



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Somali accused of torture, rape detained in Lampedusa

Wednesday June 28, 2017

A 23-year-old Somali national has been detained at the hotspot on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa over accusations he raped and tortured asylum seekers in Libya before they embarked on their journeys across the Mediterranean, sources said Tuesday.

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The alleged violence took place at a site in an agricultural area called Hudeyfà, in the Kufra district. The related probe features statements from migrants who said the suspect hit them with rubber tubes and threatened them with weapons. 



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Several major firms say targets of international cyberattack

Wednesday June 28, 2017

A major cyberattack has unfolded, striking banks, corporations and infrastructure in Ukraine and Russia before spreading to western Europe and then the United States.

Experts say the virus is a modified version of the so-called Petya ransomware, which hit last year and demanded money from victims in exchange for their data.

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A similar virus called WannaCry infected more than 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries last month.
Following is a list of companies and organisations which say they have been a victim of the latest attack:

Ukraine’s central bank, the National Bank of Ukraine
Ukrainian bank Oschadbank
Ukrainian delivery service company Nova Poshta
Russian state oil giant Rosneft
Kyivenergo, Kiev power company
Radiation monitoring system at Chernobyl
Website of Kiev’s Boryspil international airport
Danish sea transport company Maersk
British advertising giant WPP
French industrial group Saint-Gobain
US pharmaceutical giant Merck




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Facebook reaches 2 billion monthly users

Wednesday June 28, 2017

Facebook has announced that it now has two billion monthly users.

The company reached the milestone today, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealing the news in a post on his Facebook page. 

“As of this morning, the Facebook community is now officially 2 billion people!” he wrote.

“We’re making progress connecting the world, and now let’s bring the world closer together.

“It’s an honor to be on this journey with you.”

The company was founded in February 2004, and reached one billion users in October 2012.

More than 800 million people now ‘Like’ something on the site each day.

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To mark the occasion, Facebook has started rolling out new features that users will gain access to over the coming days.

One of these is the Good Adds Up personalised video, which features “inspiring stories of people using Facebook to bring communities together”.

Another is Celebrating The Good People Do. “After someone reacts to a friend’s post with Love, wishes someone happy birthday or creates a group, they will see a message in News Feed thanking them,” says the site.

Facebook has made it its mission to get people to join more groups and communities on the site.

According to Mr Zuckerberg, 100 million users are currently part of “meaningful communities”, but he wants that figure to rise to a billion. 

Key to this change will be group administrators, who the Facebook CEO compared to pastors.

“As I’ve travelled around and learned about different places, one theme is clear: every great community has great leaders. Think about it. A church doesn’t just come together. It has a pastor who cares for the well-being of their congregation, makes sure they have food and shelter.”



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Muslim girls complain of Polish racism on Holocaust study trip

Wednesday June 28, 2017

Muslim girls were shocked to be targeted by racists during a trip to visit Holocaust memorials

German Muslim schoolgirls who went on a visit to Holocaust memorials in eastern Poland say they were racially abused by locals during their trip.

The girls, from a Berlin school, spoke on Deutschlandfunk radio about their experience. Four were wearing Muslim headscarves – and say they were abused.

One girl said a man had spat on her in the street in Lublin, as police stood by grinning and did nothing.

Another girl said she was expelled from a shop for speaking Persian.

She had been speaking to her brother on the phone.
“They came up to me and said ‘can you leave, you’re disturbing the people here’. And I thought: Why? Just because I’m speaking Persian and

I’m a foreigner? Yes,” she told the radio station.

A Lublin police statement on Tuesday said “the trip participants did not report any complaints to Lublin police officers”.

Group members had addressed two policemen in English, who “heard from the people translating that there was no problem”, the statement said, adding: “the people exchanged polite smiles”.

It also said police had examined CCTV footage, but it did “not show any incident involving foreigners”.

Spitting and knives

In Lublin, the girls said, a market stallholder had refused to sell them water because they were foreigners. On another occasion, one girl was reportedly threatened with a knife.

And one girl said that in Lodz “a woman just came up to me and shouted ‘get out!’ and threw her drink over me and my camera – she said ‘get lost!'”

They were among a group of 20 children – mostly Muslims – from the Theodor Heuss Community School in Berlin-Moabit.

The Holocaust is a sensitive topic for many Muslims because Jewish survivors settled in British-mandate Palestine, on land which later became the state of Israel.

The Holocaust year by year

The Poland trip was arranged by a German Holocaust memorial body, the House of the Wannsee Conference.

Its director Hans-Christian Jasch said: “I’m especially shocked that this happened to youngsters in our care on this trip – indeed, on a trip dedicated to studying this very topic [racism]. Of course that’s particularly sad.” He plans to complain to the Polish embassy in Berlin.

The Berlin group visited Majdanek, a camp on the outskirts of Lublin where the Nazi German SS murdered Jews during World War Two.
They also visited Treblinka, site of another Nazi death camp, and the cities of Warsaw and Lodz, whose Jewish communities were slaughtered by the Nazis.

The purpose of the trip was also to find out about the suffering of Polish civilians in general under Nazi occupation.

Anti-Muslim slogans were chanted at this Polish anti-immigrant rally in Warsaw in 2015

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The Polish National Prosecutor’s Office says that in 2016 anti-Muslim hate attacks almost doubled in Poland, compared with 2015.

“Foreigners residing in Poland, especially individuals from Arab countries, more and more often experience various types of attacks,” said Sylwia Spurek, Polish Deputy Ombudsperson for Human Rights.
She told the BBC that the authorities – especially the police – must act against the “growing aversion or even hostility” towards foreigners.

Block on refugees

Poland’s nationalist government refuses to take in Muslim refugees, arguing that they would struggle to integrate in Poland’s Catholic-majority society.

The EU is in dispute with Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary on the issue. The four countries reject an EU decision to relocate 160,000 refugees – many of them Muslim Syrians – currently stuck at reception centres in Italy and Greece.

The leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS), Jaroslaw Kaczynski, said in October 2015 that the refugees posed a health hazard. He was speaking shortly before PiS triumphed in a general election.

“Also there are some differences related to geography, various parasites, protozoa that are common and are not dangerous in the bodies of these people, (but) may be dangerous here,” he said.

Defending Poland’s policy, Science and Higher Education Minister Jaroslaw Gowin said “every nation and people has a right to protect itself from extinction”.



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Deadly blast targets police near Kenya-Somalia border

Wednesday June 28, 2017

At least four children and four policemen have been killed in a roadside explosion in southeastern Kenya, near the border with Somalia, according to police.

Noah Mwivanda, a senior police officer in Lamu County, said Tuesday’s blast happened between Mararani and Kiunga towns.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The deadly incident bore the hallmarks of similar bombings blamed on Somalia’s al-Shabab armed group, which has previously targeted security forces in the region.

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It increases the death toll from homemade explosives in the last three months to 46, with policemen as the majority of fatalities.
Al-Shabab has carried out more than 100 attacks on Kenya since 2011.

It says the attacks are retribution for Kenya sending troops to Somalia to fight them.

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is campaigning for re-election in August, did not immediately comment on the latest explosion.

On Monday, Kenyatta said if re-elected he would “strengthen the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit by acquiring more specialised vehicles to counter and deter the security threats emerging from terrorist groups”.

Kenya has managed to stop the frequency of al-Shabab attacks in its capital, Nairobi, and major towns, but human rights groups say the government uses methods such as extrajudicial killings that can fuel revenge attacks.



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