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The second coming of the caliphate in Spain

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In austerity-stricken Spain, the government and media have been warning of threats of radicalisation and terrorism.

In June, Spanish monarch Juan Carlos abdicated the throne in favour of his son Felipe.

More drastic systemic rearrangements have since been proposed, however, by the guardians of another world order. A short video, the subject of recent hype in the Spanish media, features two men who claim to be jihadists in Syria and who explain – in Spanish – that “Spain is the land of our grandfathers” and will thus be reclaimed for Islam as part of the effort to recuperate rightful territory “from Jakarta to Andalusia”. (Their particular jihadist outfit is not specified.)

The tone of the declaration is slightly less than spine-chilling. The holy warriors appear carefree, and one laughingly encourages the other to speak: “Come on, man.”

Of course, some view prospects of land recuperation as more apocalyptic in nature. On her website Atlas Shrugs, professional Islamophobe Pamela Geller took credit for predicting the impending Muslim takeover; in a post under the category Spain’s Islamic Kingdom, she wrote: “Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya… Jordan and now Rome and Spain. Regular Atlas readers have been expecting this for some time”.

If only Oriana Fallaci, the late Italian journalist and patron saint of Islamophobia, were around to witness the second coming of the caliphate – the logical result of her warning that Muslim immigrants to Europe were endeavouring to replace miniskirts with chadors and cognac with camel’s milk.

When debating whether she despised Mexicans or Muslims more, Fallaci eventually opted for the latter “because they have broken [her] balls”, and threatened to blow up a mosque slated for construction in Tuscany.

So much for fighting terrorism in Europe.

Blame it on the jihadists

As it turns out, the Muslim reconquest of Spain couldn’t have occurred at a more auspicious time.

We all know that the terrorist threat comes in handy when governments need to curtail civil liberties. And austerity-stricken Spain is nothing if not a place of far too many such liberties, as evidenced by massive protests against health care and education cuts, wanton home evictions, and other means of diverting economic disaster onto the poorer echelons of society.

A new Citizens’ Security Law just approved by the Spanish cabinet will do much to ensure that freedom doesn’t get out of control. The law prescribes fines of up to 600,000 euros ($809,307) for unauthorised gatherings and protests in certain locations and of up to 30,000 euros ($40,465) for “obstructing authority in the carrying out of administrative or judicial decisions, such as evictions”.

The encroaching caliphate will presumably facilitate the clampdown on rights, especially given that an anti-terror plan is already in the pipeline over at Spain’s interior ministry. According to the news agency EFE, the aim of the plan – which will be unleashed in a few months – is “prevention of violent radicalisation”. Conveniently, Spanish interior minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz, curator of the Citizens’ Security Law, previously accused “radical and violent elements” of infiltrating protests by unions and social organisations.

So it doesn’t require a huge leap of the imagination to assume that ostensibly anti-jihad actions by the Spanish police and Civil Guard will affect non-jihadists as well. The liberal application of terror charges has meanwhile led to the detention of a spate of Twitter and other social media users for allegedly “glorifying terrorism” via such activities as indicating support for Basque independence.

As for Catalonian secessionist aspirations, Fernandez Diaz has sworn that an independent Catalonia would be more susceptible to terror attacks. This sort of scientific reasoning, it seems, could be exploited by the Spanish state to justify all sorts of measures (eg, if we don’t evict you from your home, the terrorists will attack).

And the interior minister’s claims to fame don’t stop there. Earlier this year, he also awarded a top policing medal to a statue of the Virgin Mary – his own little holy war, perhaps, on those who believe in a separation of church and state.

The terrorist distraction

According to the jihad video from Syria, incoming terrorists will not stop at Catalonia.

Obviously, this is not to make light of the terrorist threat, which is quite real – thanks in no small part to the history of western imperial machinations in the Middle East, which have contributed to the proliferation of the jihadist mindset. The Madrid terror attacks of March 11, 2004, for example, were apparently in retaliationfor Spain’s participation in the ongoing terroristic assault on Iraq.

And indeed, news currently emanating from other sections of the caliphate confirms that it’s no laughing matter.

Spain’s ABC newspaper reported in June that the “jihadist factory” operating in the country consists of at least a dozen centres for recruitment and training of fighters who are then dispatched to locations like Syria and Iraq. Another ABC article specifies that Spain produces an estimated 40 fighters per month, including persons with Spanish nationality, and that the “process of radicalisation… especially affects Muslim males under the age of 30”. The fear is that, if the jihadists survive their business abroad, they’ll bring the battle home.

Fernandez Diaz has described jihadist terrorism as “the most serious threat to society in the 21st century”. But the obsession with the terrorist threat helpfully distracts from other serious societal problems, such as Spain’s youth unemployment rate, which rose to 57 percent last year.

It also fuels racism, Islamophobia, and anti-immigrant sentiment – afflictions that are already well-represented in Spanish society and that only further alienate and disillusion persecuted demographics.

To be sure, the jihad phenomenon is complex and shouldn’t be over-simplified. But it seems that rectifying some of society’s other problems might help ensure folks have better things to do than set up caliphates.

Belen Fernandez is the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work, published by Verso.

She is a contributing editor at Jacobin Magazine. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect IndoCanadians editorial policy.

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Canadian News

Joint statement from the Greater Toronto Area & Hamilton Mayors and Chairs

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Toronto Mayor John Tory
Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Toronto Mayor John Tory take part in a candlelit vigil to honour the victims of a deadly shooting in Toronto on Wednesday July 25, 2018. Ten-year-old Julianna Kozis of Markham, Ont., and 18-year-old Reese Fallon of Toronto were killed in Sunday's shooting attack, and 13 other people were injured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

We are united in fighting COVID-19 – protecting our residents and saving lives.

While the measures we have taken to stop the spread of the virus have made a difference, this virus has still taken far too many lives in our communities and continues to threaten the lives of our residents.

At the same time, there is no denying the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the economy. Jobs have been lost, many businesses have closed or are at risk of closure, and many families are worried about their financial future.

We’ve been hit hard but that’s why it is so important that we keep moving forward and come back as strong as possible.

Today, the GTHA Mayors and Chairs met to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on the region and how our municipalities can work together on the economic restart and recovery.

We know the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area alone is projected to lose 355,000 jobs and 28% of GDP along with $894 million in lost wages and $3.7 billion in revenue losses for businesses. This will be felt right across the GTHA but it also threatens the provincial and national economies.

A strong recovery right here in the GTHA is crucial to healing the economic damage done by COVID-19 and helping the families and businesses all governments have been working to protect throughout this emergency.

Ontario’s economy and Canada’s economy need the GTHA to come back stronger than ever when the restart begins.

We are determined to deliver this recovery and we agreed today that the GTHA municipalities will be working together to successfully and smoothly reopen our vital regional economy when the time comes.

We also discussed how we can in a consistent way achieve significant, necessary financial support from the other governments to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and protect our ability to contribute to the recovery. A strong recovery needs strong cities and regional governments.

We have agreed we will work together to share information about our respective financial positions and explore together measures we can advocate to the other governments which will help to ensure the financial stability of local and regional governments in the GTHA.

Our child care and recreation programs help parents get back to work.

Our emergency services keep people safe.

Our transit systems get people to work and home safely.

Our major infrastructure projects – often built in conjunction with the other governments – will help kick-start the recovery and create countless jobs.

Our economic development activities attract jobs and investment.

We built a strong and vibrant GTHA and we know that we will need to come back even stronger and as quickly as we can in order to keep Canada’s economy going.

With the cooperation and support of the provincial and federal governments, we are ready to rise to this challenge.”

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Canadian News

Four People Charged in Mississauga Pedestrian Fail to Remain Fatality

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Investigators from the Major Collision Bureau have charged four people in Mississauga’s most recent fatal fail to remain collision.

On Thursday, February 15, 2018, at approximately 8:40 p.m., the victim, a 61 year-old female from Mississauga, was struck by a south bound vehicle as she was crossing Mavis Road in the area of Knotty Pine Grove in the City of Mississauga. The vehicle did not remain and the victim, having suffered major injuries, was pronounced dead at the scene.

On Saturday, February 17, 2018 shortly before 7:00 p.m., Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM, a 60 year-old male from Brampton, and the driver believed to be responsible in this incident, surrendered to police at 22 Division. Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM has since been charged with Fail to Remain Cause Death.

Hivissa SATCHITHANANTHAN, a 25 year old female from Brampton, Shajeetha SATCHITHANANTHAN a 28 year-old female from Brampton and Gowtham SATKUNARAJAH a 28 year-old male from Brampton have each been charged with Accessory After the Fact in relation to this incident.

Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM will answer to his charge on March 12, 2018. Hivissa SATCHITHANANTHAN, Shajeetha SATCHITHANANTHAN andGowtham SATKUNARAJAH will answer to their charges on Monday March 26, 2018 at the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton

Anyone who may have witnessed the collision, have dashboard video footage of the incident or who may have any information regarding this incident is asked to contact investigators with the Major Collision Bureau at (905) 453-2121, ext. 3710. Information may also be left anonymously by calling Peel Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or by visiting www.peelcrimestoppers.ca or by sending a text message to CRIMES (274637) with the word ‘PEEL’ and then your tip.

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Canadian News

Justin Trudeau in India: Hug missing! Mounting pressure?

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The much publicized and anticipated visit of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to India was marred with questions. The questions were centered on the kind of welcome he would be given in the Sikh dominated state of Punjab. Also the famous hug by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was being anticipated. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finally made his much-touted visit to India. He landed on the Indira Gandhi Airport, New Delhi only to be received by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat not even a Cabinet Minister in Narendra Modi’s government.

He is presently the second rank Minister of State for Agriculture.  That comes in complete contrast to the warmth that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his NDA government has generally displayed towards the visiting dignitaries.  Only a couple of weeks ago, when the heads of the 10 ASEAN states arrived in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t receive Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the airport, as he has previously done with many leaders including Barack Obama, Xi Jinping, Shinzo Abe, and Benjamin Netanyahu.

The fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t join him is all surprising even when Prime Minister Trudeau visited Gujarat. This is unusual because the Indian Prime Minister has set a trend that he always accompanies head of the state when they visit his home state.

Even Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath did not show up, let alone accompany Prime Minister Trudeau to the Taj. However, during Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s 15 January visit to the Taj Mahal at Agra, Yogi Adityanath had received Netanyahu and his wife and shown them around as well as hosted a lunch for them. For first three days, none from the executive or the elected representative held any meeting with the delegation.

Media in India is trying to spread a message that the cold treatment given by Prime Minister could be because two of the four Sikh members of Trudeau’s cabinet – Harjit Sajjan and Amarjeet Sohi – support the Khalistan movement. However, had that been the case his visit to Punjab would have got a similar response.  However, the Punjab Government led by Captain Amarinder Singh rolled out a red carpet during his stay at Amritsar and even the two leaders held some fruitful discussions.

Thus putting an end to those criticisms that that Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit was devoid of any warmth.  Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh, for instance who met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau setting aside his earlier prejudice that he exhibited during the visit of Defence Minister Harjeet Singh Sajjan.

In recent months, Gurudwaras (Sikh temples) in Canada, the United States and Australia have banned Indian officials from visiting gurudwaras and the moment started with Gurudwaras here in Toronto. Could that be the reason for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to not accord one of the warmest welcomes that he is known to provide?  Or the use by Canada’s parliament of the term genocide to describe mass killings of Sikhs in India in 1984 has left the Indian Prime Minister disturbed?  However, more than Prime Minister Modi, this could have left the Congress party in troubled waters, but that was also not the case as Amarinder Singh hails from the same party.

The lukewarm welcome to Prime Minister Trudeau can have its political ramifications too. Will it hamper the significant 2015 deal, in which Canada agreed to supply 3,000 metric tons of Uranium to power India’s atomic reactors?

Somewhere Prime Minister Modi has not taken the issue of non allowing entry of Indian officials to Gurudwaras and the statement on Genocide too lightly. Prime Minister Modi however has failed to understand that Canada cannot curtail the right of freedom of speech and expression of its citizen.

Two nations perhaps failed to resolve the matter before Prime Minister boarded the flight from Canada and not welcoming Prime Minister Trudeau could be a tactical decision to put pressure on him. With Prime Minister Modi preferring to meet him at the far end of the tour has conveyed a lot about the myopic approach of Prime Minister Modi.

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