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How Corbyn is speaker at hardline Islamic meeting

Corbyn spoke at meeting staged by the Muslim Engagement and Development Group have been accused of b..



  • Corbyn spoke at meeting staged by the Muslim Engagement and Development
  • Group have been accused of being ‘Islamists masquerading as civil libertarians’
  • Corbyn refused to attend a gala marking centenary of the Balfour Declaration

By Ian Drury and Larisa Brown for the Daily Mail

Published: 19:59 EDT, 2 November 2017 | Updated: 20:02 EDT, 2 November 2017

Jeremy Corbyn was accused of cosying up to extremists last night after attending an event held by a hardline Muslim group accused of anti-Semitism.

The Labour leader spoke at a Commons meeting staged by an organisation that attacks Israeli ‘Zionists’ on social media.

He addressed the Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend) event on Wednesday – but last night snubbed a formal dinner with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of cosying up to extremists after attending an event held by a hardline Muslim group, Mend

Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of cosying up to extremists after attending an event held by a hardline Muslim group, Mend

Mend was this week accused of being ‘Islamists masquerading as civil libertarians’ whose senior figures have publicly expressed anti-Semitic views.

A report by the Henry Jackson Society think-tank said the organisation was an ‘extremist-linked group’ that has hosted ‘illiberal, intolerant and extremist Islamist speakers’.

Mend, which has been accused by the Muslim Council of Britain of organising boycotts of Holocaust Memorial Day, arranged the Commons event to mark the start of Islamophobia Awareness Month.

Mr Corbyn told the audience: ‘Our future lies in mutual respect between all communities.’

Referring to the terror attack outside Finsbury Park Mosque in his Islington constituency in the summer, the Labour leader added: ‘An attack on any one of us is an attack on all of us.’

But his appearance fuelled criticism after he refused to attend a gala last night to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, which helped pave the way for the creation of Israel.

Theresa May and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2nd right) at the Balfour 100 Dinner at Lancaster House in LondonTheresa May and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2nd right) at the Balfour 100 Dinner at Lancaster House in London

Theresa May and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2nd right) at the Balfour 100 Dinner at Lancaster House in London

Former communities secretary Sir Eric Pickles called his snub ‘a slap in the face of Israel, and of all British Jewish citizens of the United Kingdom’.

He said: ‘To not make a dinner is perhaps excusable but to attend a meeting of extremists who are vowed to destroy Israel is contemptible.’

Tory MP Philip Davies added: ‘During the election Jeremy Corbyn said his links to violent extremism, such as to the IRA and to Hamas, was a thing of the past.

'We can now see that this is not historical at all. His addiction to hardline extremists continues to this day.’

Tom Wilson, of the Henry Jackson Society, said: Public figures and elected officials agreeing to speak at Mend’s events should be aware that this is an organisation which has hosted preachers known for their extremist and intolerant views.

'That is who they are aligning themselves with.’

Jennifer Gerber, of Labour Friends of Israel, said it was ‘utterly unacceptable’ for the Labour politician to attend an event organised by a group that has repeatedly peddled myths about the ‘Israeli lobby’.

Four MPs – Tories Crispin Blunt and Anna Soubry, Lib Dem Sir Ed Davey and the SNP’s Joanna Cherry – were all due to attend Mend’s event but pulled out. They claimed there was ‘controversy’ over the group’s record.

Former communities secretary Sir Eric Pickles called his snub ¿a slap in the face of Israel, and of all British Jewish citizens of the United Kingdom¿Former communities secretary Sir Eric Pickles called his snub ¿a slap in the face of Israel, and of all British Jewish citizens of the United Kingdom¿

Former communities secretary Sir Eric Pickles called his snub ‘a slap in the face of Israel, and of all British Jewish citizens of the United Kingdom’

At least six Labour MPs – including Wes Streeting, Stephen Kinnock and Naz Shah – turned up.

Labour has been dogged by allegations of anti-Semitism within the party. Ken Livingstone was suspended for saying Hitler was an early supporter of Zionism, while anti-Semitic remarks were made at a fringe event at Labour’s party conference last month.

Mr Corbyn, a supporter of the Palestinian cause, has faced repeated questions about his association with IRA figures.

Mend said the think-tank report ‘equates political dissent with extremism’. A statement said it ‘operates in the mainstream of British society’ and that many of the claims in the report are ‘based on innuendo and false assertions’.

The group also said it ‘unequivocally rejects’ allegations of anti-Semitism, homophobia, or extremism.

A spokesman for Mr Corbyn said the Labour leader was ‘pleased to attend an event to mark the start of Islamophobia Awareness Month’.

MEND: Group linked to anti-Semitic speakers

The Muslim group that staged a rally in Parliament at which Jeremy Corbyn spoke has worrying links with extremism.

The organisation, Muslim Engagement and Development, claims it champions Muslim involvement in public and political life while campaigning against Islamophobia.

But the Islamist group has been associated with a number of extremist statements, including links to speakers who have promoted jihad, anti-Semitism and homophobia.

Officials and volunteers with Mend have also supported the killing of British troops in Iraq.

It is also claimed to want to stir up trouble over the ‘Trojan Horse’ plot four years ago when Ofsted inspectors uncovered a campaign by hardline Muslims to take over schools in Birmingham and alter their ‘character and ethos’.

A report released last month by the Henry Jackson Society security think-tank argued that Mend were ‘Islamists masquerading as civil libertarians’.

Mend was previously known as iEngage. Its boss Azad Ali, lost a libel case against the Daily Mail in January 2010 after he was described as a ‘hardline Islamic extremist who supports the killing of British and American soldiers in Iraq’.

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Sydney seaplane crash: Exhaust fumes affected pilot, report confirms




The pilot of a seaplane that crashed into an Australian river, killing all on board, had been left confused and disorientated by leaking exhaust fumes, investigators have confirmed.

The Canadian pilot and five members of a British family died in the crash north of Sydney in December 2017.

All were found to have higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide in their blood, a final report has found.

It recommended the mandatory fitting of gas detectors in all such planes.

British businessman Richard Cousins, 58, died alongside his 48-year-old fiancée, magazine editor Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter Heather and his sons, Edward, 23, and William, 25, and pilot Gareth Morgan, 44. Mr Cousins was the chief executive of catering giant Compass.

The family had been on a sightseeing flight in the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver plane when it nose-dived into the Hawkesbury River at Jerusalem Bay, about 50km (30 miles) from the city centre.

The final report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) confirmed the findings of an interim report published in 2020.

It said pre-existing cracks in the exhaust collector ring were believed to have released exhaust gas into the engine bay. Holes left by missing bolts in a firewall then allowed the fumes to enter the cabin.

“As a result, the pilot would have almost certainly experienced effects such as confusion, visual disturbance and disorientation,” the report said.

“Consequently, it was likely that this significantly degraded the pilot’s ability to safely operate the aircraft.”

The ATSB recommended the Civil Aviation Safety Authority consider mandating the fitting of carbon monoxide detectors in piston-engine aircraft that carry passengers.

It previously issued safety advisory notices to owners and operators of such aircraft that they install detectors “with an active warning” to pilots”. Operators and maintainers of planes were also advised to carry out detailed inspections of exhaust systems and firewalls.

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Australia unlikely to fully reopen border in 2021, says top official




Australia is unlikely to fully open its borders in 2021 even if most of its population gets vaccinated this year as planned, says a senior health official.

The comments dampen hopes raised by airlines that travel to and from the country could resume as early as July.

Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy made the prediction after being asked about the coronavirus’ escalation in other nations.

Dr Murphy spearheaded Australia’s early action to close its borders last March.

“I think that we’ll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday.

“Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus,” he said, adding that he believed quarantine requirements for travellers would continue “for some time”.

Citizens, permanent residents and those with exemptions are allowed to enter Australia if they complete a 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.

Qantas – Australia’s national carrier – reopened bookings earlier this month, after saying it expected international travel to “begin to restart from July 2021.”

However, it added this depended on the Australian government’s deciding to reopen borders.

Australia’s tight restrictions

The country opened a travel bubble with neighbouring New Zealand late last year, but currently it only operates one-way with inbound flights to Australia.

Australia has also discussed the option of travel bubbles with other low-risk places such as Taiwan, Japan and Singapore.

A vaccination scheme is due to begin in Australia in late February. Local authorities have resisted calls to speed up the process, giving more time for regulatory approvals.

Australia has so far reported 909 deaths and about 22,000 cases, far fewer than many nations. It reported zero locally transmitted infections on Monday.

Experts have attributed much of Australia’s success to its swift border lockdown – which affected travellers from China as early as February – and a hotel quarantine system for people entering the country.

Local outbreaks have been caused by hotel quarantine breaches, including a second wave in Melbourne. The city’s residents endured a stringent four-month lockdown last year to successfully suppress the virus.

Other outbreaks – including one in Sydney which has infected about 200 people – prompted internal border closures between states, and other restrictions around Christmas time.

The state of Victoria said on Monday it would again allow entry to Sydney residents outside of designated “hotspots”, following a decline in cases.

While the measures have been praised, many have also criticised them for separating families across state borders and damaging businesses.

Dr Murphy said overall Australia’s virus response had been “pretty good” but he believed the nation could have introduced face masks earlier and improved its protections in aged care homes.

In recent days, Australia has granted entry to about 1,200 tennis players, staff and officials for the Australian Open. The contingent – which has recorded at least nine infections – is under quarantine.

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Covid: Brisbane to enter three-day lockdown over single infection




The Australian city of Brisbane has begun a snap three-day lockdown after a cleaner in its hotel quarantine system became infected with coronavirus.

Health officials said the cleaner had the highly transmissible UK variant and they were afraid it could spread.

Brisbane has seen very few cases of the virus beyond quarantined travellers since Australia’s first wave last year.

It is the first known instance of this variant entering the Australian community outside of hotel quarantine.

The lockdown is for five populous council areas in Queensland’s state capital.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the measure on Friday morning local time, about 16 hours after the woman tested positive.

Ms Palaszczuk said the lockdown aimed to halt the virus as rapidly as possible, adding: “Doing three days now could avoid doing 30 days in the future.”

“I think everybody in Queensland… knows what we are seeing in the UK and other places around the world is high rates of infection from this particular strain,” she said.

“And we do not want to see that happening here in our great state.”

Australia has reported 28,500 coronavirus infections and 909 deaths since the pandemic began. By contrast, the US, which is the hardest-hit country, has recorded more than 21 million infections while nearly 362,000 people have died of the disease.The lockdown will begin at 18:00 on Friday (08:00 GMT) in the Brisbane city, Logan and the Ipswich, Moreton and Redlands local government areas.

Residents will only be allowed to leave home for certain reasons, such as buying essential items and seeking medical care.

For the first time, residents in those areas will also be required to wear masks outside of their homes.

Australia has faced sporadic outbreaks over the past year, with the most severe one in Melbourne triggering a lockdown for almost four months.

A pre-Christmas outbreak in Sydney caused fresh alarm, but aggressive testing and contact-tracing has kept infection numbers low. The city recorded four local cases on Friday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has pledged to start mass vaccinations in February instead of March as was planned.

Lockdown interrupts ‘near normal’ life in Brisbane

Simon Atkinson, BBC News in Brisbane

At 8:00 today I popped to the local supermarket for some bread, milk – and because it’s summer here – a mango. I was pretty much the only customer.

When I went past the same shop a couple of hours later it was a different story – 50 people standing in the drizzle – queuing to get inside as others emerged with bulging shopping bags. “Heaps busier than Christmas,” a cheery trolley attendant told me. “It’s off the scale”.

Despite the “don’t panic” messages from authorities, pictures on social media show it’s a pattern being repeated across the city.

While shutdowns are common around the world, the tough and sudden stay-at-home order for Brisbane has caught people on the hop here after months of near normality.

But while such a rapid, hard lockdown off the back of just a single case of Covid-19 will seem crazy in some parts of the world, I’ve not come across too many people complaining.

And I don’t think that’s just because Aussies love to follow a rule. This is the first time the UK variant of the virus has been detected in the community in Australia.

And nobody here wants Brisbane to go through what Melbourne suffered last year. Even if it means going without mangoes.

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