Texas Muslims Mourn Pakistani Exchange Student Slain in School Shooting

Houston’s Muslim community gathered to offer prayers Sunday at the funeral service for a 17-year-old Pakistani exchange student killed in a mass shooting at her southeast Texas high school.

About 1,000 people, many with Pakistani roots and wearing traditional Muslim dress, converged on an Islamic center in Stafford to honor Sabika Sheikh, whose body was brought by hearse to the somber service from Santa Fe, the nearby small rural town where a student killed 10 people including eight students.

Among the mourners was the late teen’s first cousin who lives in the United States. She said Sheikh’s relatives are completely devastated.

“The family back home, we are in touch with them. They’re crying every moment. Her mother is in denial right now,” Shaheera al-Basid, a graduate student in the U.S. capital Washington, told AFP at the funeral service.

“It’s a shock we need our entire life to recover from,” the 26-year-old added.

Men lined up in rows offered traditional mourning prayers as Sheikh’s coffin, draped in the green and white flag of Pakistan, was brought into a small, cramped sanctuary.

Sheikh had been due to return home in mere weeks, in time for Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

‘Shock’

“It’s a shock, it’s so sad,” said realtor Ike Samad, 67, who was born in Pakistan but has lived here most of his adult life and raised his children as Americans.

“I came here just like her, as a student,” he recalled. “God forbid that could have happened to me when I was here. As a parent, it is just devastating.”

Samad also addressed the painful irony that a young woman from a country that many Americans associated with the war on terror in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington was killed in a country that millions around the world see as a bastion of freedom.

The attacks were a “tragedy, and tragedy sometimes teaches you life,” he said. “But it also revisits, and in this case very close to here.”

Several Pakistani-American youths also attended the funeral service, including Danyal Zakaria of nearby Sugar Land, Texas.

The 17-year-old said it was “truly mind-blowing” that an exchange student his age could be cut down in cold blood at a US school.

“This nation is known to be safe,” he said. “If America is not safe, then where is?”

 

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US Aid Chief to Myanmar: Take ‘Concrete Steps’ on Rohingya Rights

The U.S. government’s aid chief urged Myanmar on Sunday to take concrete steps” to guarantee the rights of Rohingya Muslims and to show sincerity in that endeavor in order to encourage hundreds of thousands who have fled the country to return.

Mark Green, administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), ended his three-day visit to Myanmar touring Rohingya and Rakhine communities in western Rakhine State, including a camp for displaced Rohingya people.

Green said the refugees, whom he met during the previous leg of the trip in camps in Bangladesh, are fearful and while they want to return, they are asking for their rights and security to be guaranteed before making the decision to come back.

“That reinforces the importance here of clear signs of sincerity of the government’s stated position of welcoming back

Rohingya in a safe, secure and dignified manner,” Green told reporters.

“We would strongly encourage the government to take those concrete steps which are a demonstration of the ability for Rohingya to return under those conditions,” Green said.

He said the government could show the refugees in Bangladesh it is sincere by taking “clear actions” with the tens of thousands of Rohingya displaced in previous bouts of violence now stuck in crowded camps in squalid conditions in Rakhine.

Green said he was “struck by the sense of hopelessness that so many Muslims nearby feel – the lack of access to health care, education, ability to move, access to livelihoods … that kind of hopelessness is obviously disturbing — it’s also something that has to be addressed.”

Green has said the United States would provide $44 million in additional aid for the Rohingya and vulnerable populations in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Nearly 700,000 Rohingya have fled into Bangladesh from Myanmar to escape an army crackdown since August, launched in response to Rohingya insurgent attacks. Refugees have reported murder, rape and arson by Myanmar troops.

Washington has called the army response ethnic cleansing — a charge Myanmar denies, saying its security forces have been

waging a legitimate counterinsurgency operation against “Bengali terrorists.”

After meeting Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi in the capital Naypyitaw and civil society leaders in the main city Yangon on Friday and Saturday, Green met local government officials in Rakhine and toured villages and camps over the weekend.

On Sunday, he went to Muslim and Buddhist villages in the Rathedaung township in the north of the violence-torn state. He then met camp leaders in Thet Kae Pyin camp for nearly 6,000 Rohingya, a short drive from state capital Sittwe.

“We don’t have the luxury of time. We really do need all of us to see positive steps forward and we stand ready to help,” Green said.

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Washington Digests US-China Trade Announcement

Washington is digesting China’s stated intention to purchase more American goods and reduce the trade imbalance between the two countries. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, last week’s talks between U.S. and Chinese negotiators did not yield specific commitments from Beijing in dollar figures, sparking criticism from some lawmakers in Washington.

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Російському мільярдеру Абрамовичу не продовжують візу в Британії – ЗМІ

Російський мільярдер, власник лондонського футбольного клубу «Челсі» Роман Абрамович пропустив фінал кубка Англії з футболу, у якому його команда обіграла «Манчестер Юнайтед», у зв’язку із закінченням терміну дії британської візи, повідомляють британські і російські ЗМІ.

Британське The Bell з посиланням на знайомого Абрамовича та двох представників його близького оточення пише, що термін дії візи закінчився три тижні тому, зараз бізнесмен очікує на нову.

Речник мільярдера заявив агентству ТАСС, що не може коментувати цю інформацію, оскільки питання візи – «особисте».

Читайте також: Чому від «Новачка» немає протиотрути. Ексклюзивне інтерв’ю із розробником

Журнал Forbes ставить Абрамовича на 140 місце в рейтингу найбагатших людей світу. Його остатки оцінюють у 10,8 мільярда доларів.

Деякі британьскі посадовці закликали запровадити санкції проти заможних росіян, які живуть у Великій Британії. Це сталося після отруєння колишнього російського подвійного шпигуна Сергія Скрипаля та його дочки Юлії. Лондон стверджує, що вони були отруєні нервово-паралітичною речовиною «Новачок», розробленою в Росії. Москва це заперечує.

Наразі обох Скрипалів виписали з лікарні.

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У Празі влаштували святковий Мегамарш вишиванок – відео

Центром чеської столиці пройшлися кілька сотень українців у вишиванках. Метою організаторів щорічного святкового мегамаршу є об’єднати якомога більше українців та усіх, кому подобається і хто поважає українську вишиванку. Марш розпочався від собору Святого Климента та завершився на центральній Вацлавський площі. Під спів українських народних пісень, дорослі та діти несли містом українські прапори та символіку.

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У Чорногорії склав присягу президент

У Чорногорії 20 травня склав присягу Міло Джуканович, обраний вдруге президентом країни. Раніше він обіймав президентську посаду у період 1998-2002 років.

Після інавгураційної церемонії в парламенті Джуканович заявив, що Чорногорія є економічно розвиненою країною Західних Балкан, лідером реформ і кандидатом на вступ до ЄС.

Читайте також: Президентські вибори в Чорногорії в ширшому балканському контексті

На президентських виборах 15 березня 56-річний Джуканович набрав майже 54 відсотки голосів виборців. Колишній комуніст, він став наймолодшим прем’єр-міністром у Європі 1991 року, коли йому було 29 років. Опозиція закидає Джукановичу заохочення кумівства у владі та корупцію.

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Між США і Китаєм не буде торговельної війни – ЗМІ

Пекін і Вашингтон погодились відмовитися від будь-якої торговельної війни та відступити від тарифних погроз, повідомило 20 травня китайське інформаційне агентство «Сіньхуа».

«Обидві сторони досягли консенсусу, що не вестимуть торговельну війну і перестануть підвищувати тарифи одне для одного», – цитує агенція слова віце-прем’єра Китаю Лю Хе.

Минулого тижня китайський віце-прем’єр очолював делегацію високого рівня на переговорах у Вашингтоні.

Читайте також: Лідери США та Китаю допомагають відновити роботу компанії ZTE – Трамп

19 травня Білий дім і Пекін заявили, що Китай погодився суттєво збільшити закупівлі товарів і послуг в США, втім подробиць домовленості не вказували.

Президент США Дональд Трамп погрожував накласти тарифи на китайські товари на суму близько 150 мільярдів для боротьби з недобросовісною, на його думку, торговельною політикою Пекіна. В аналітиків такі заяви викликали побоювання про розгортання торговельної війни поміж двома економічними гігантами.

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Special Career Law Enforcement Day for NYC Muslim Youth

During a unique career fair in Brooklyn, state and federal law enforcement agencies, from the New York Police Department to the FBI, connected with the city’s Muslim youth to tell them about career opportunities. The event was organized by a New York-based nonprofit. VOA reporter Aunshuman Apte spoke with the agency representatives, organizers and attendees about the event’s importance and impact.

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For GOP, Immigration a Fraught Issue as Midterms Approach

The chaos among House Republicans this past week on immigration shows how problematic and risky the issue can be for a party that needs unity heading into the elections in November that will decide control of Congress.

GOP leaders thought they had found a way by Friday morning to make the party’s warring conservative and moderate wings happy on an issue that has bedeviled them for years.

Conservatives would get a vote by late June on an immigration bill that parrots many of President Donald Trump’s hard-right immigration views, including reductions in legal immigration and opening the door to his proposed wall with Mexico. Centrists would have a chance to craft a more moderate alternative with the White House and Democrats and get a vote on that, too.

​Farm bill hostage

But it all blew up as conservatives decided they didn’t like that offer and rebelled. By lunchtime Friday, many were among the 30 Republicans who joined Democrats and scuttled a sweeping farm and food bill, a humiliating setback for the House’s GOP leaders, particularly for lame-duck Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

The conservatives essentially took the agriculture bill hostage.

They said they were unwilling to let the farm measure pass unless they first got assurances that when the House addresses immigration in coming weeks, leaders would not help an overly permissive version pass.

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., a leader of the moderates, said his group would try to write a bill that would let young “Dreamer” immigrants in the U.S. illegally stay permanently — a position anathema to conservatives — and toughen border security.

A moderate immigration package “disavows what the last election was about and what the majority of the American people want, and the people in this body know it,” said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa. He’s a member of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, many of whose members opposed the farm bill.

“It’s all about timing unfortunately and leverage, and the farm bill was just a casualty, unfortunately,” Perry said.

Denham and his allies were also unwilling to back down. He told reporters that the conservatives “broke that agreement,” and his group would pursue bipartisan legislation.

“I’m disappointed in some colleagues who asked for a concession, got the concession and then took down a bill anyway,” Denham said in a slap at the Freedom Caucus. Denham said the concession was a promised vote on the conservative immigration bill by June, though conservatives said they never agreed to that.

Such internal bickering is the opposite of what the GOP needs as the party struggles to fend off Democratic efforts to capture House control in November. Democrats need to gain 23 seats to win a majority, and a spate of Democratic special election victories and polling data suggests they have a solid chance of achieving that.

Republican leaders and strategists think their winning formula is to focus on an economy that has been gaining strength and tax cuts the GOP says is putting more money in people’s wallets.

Immigration is a distraction from that message — and worse.

On one side are conservatives from Republican strongholds, where many voters consider helping immigrants stay in the U.S. to be amnesty. On the other are GOP moderates, often representing districts with many constituents who are Hispanic, moderate suburbanites or are tied to the agriculture industry, which relies heavily on migrant workers.

20 Republicans

A look at the 20 Republicans who have signed a petition by GOP moderates aimed at forcing House votes on four immigration bills is instructive.

Of the 20, nine are from districts whose Hispanic populations exceed 18 percent, the proportion of the entire U.S. that is Hispanic. Denham’s Central California district is 40 percent Hispanic, while five others’ constituencies are at least two-thirds Hispanic.

In addition, 11 of the 20 represent districts that Democrat Hillary Clinton carried over Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

The petition drive, led by Denham and GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo, whose South Florida district is 70 percent Hispanic, is opposed by party leaders because the winning bill probably would be a compromise backed by all Democrats and a few dozen Republicans. That would enrage conservatives, perhaps prompting a rebellion that could cost House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., his goal of succeeding Ryan as speaker.

Long odds to become law

All that trouble would be for legislation that still faces long odds of becoming law.

Even if a formula is discovered that could pass the House, it could run aground in the Senate, where four immigration bills died in February and Democrats can use the filibuster to scuttle any bill they dislike. Those defeats led Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to say he wouldn’t revisit immigration unless a bill arose that could actually pass this chamber.

Trump’s willingness to sign immigration legislation also remains in question after a year that has seen his stance on the issue veer unpredictably.

Audience members hold signs reading “DISAGREE” as U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., speaks during a town hall meeting, March 18, 2017, in Red Lion, Pa. Perry’s event turned contentious in his conservative south-central Pennsylvania district over questions about his support for President Donald Trump’s budget proposal and immigration plans and for undoing former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

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