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21 Oct

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

English Online International Newspapers

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Exclusive: Representatives of all opposition parties say ministers must change stance

The letter cited the death of Jamal Khashoggi alongside the humanitarian disaster in Yemen.

The letter cited the death of Jamal Khashoggi alongside the humanitarian disaster in Yemen. Photograph: Johnny Green/PA

The government is facing renewed pressure over its continued ties to Saudi Arabia following the death of Jamal Khashoggi and the humanitarian disaster in Yemen, after all five main Westminster opposition parties signed an unprecedented joint letter calling for a change of stance.

The foreign affairs representatives for Labour, the SNP, the Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and the Greens wrote to Jeremy Hunt saying it was “hard to imagine what crime the Saudi government would need to commit” for the UK government to condemn it.

The letter to the foreign secretary, shown to the Guardian, says that reports the dissident journalist Khashoggi was tortured and murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul constituted “the latest in a litany of charges that have been laid before the Saudi regime by the international community”.

Saudi Arabia conceded on Friday that Khashoggi died at the consulate, but claimed it was the result of a “fistfight”, an explanation dismissed by a succession of other nations. On Sunday the UK Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, said it did not seem credible, adding: “There is a serious question mark over the account that has been given.”

The letter also cites alleged Saudi war crimes in the conflict in Yemen and the wider crisis in the country, where the UN says up to 14 million people are at risk of famine.

Signed by Labour’s Emily Thornberry, Stephen Gethins of the SNP, Christine Jardine from the Lib Dems, Jonathan Edwards of Plaid Cymru and Caroline Lucas from the Greens, it also mentions the imprisonment of activists, repression over LGBT rights and religion, and the widespread use of capital punishment.

“Given the repeated nature of these violations and atrocities, it is now hard to imagine what crime the Saudi government would need to commit in order for the UK government to condemn them,” says the letter, which was organised by the SNP.

“It cannot be business as usual with a regime that displays blatant contempt and disregard for international law and human rights. The consistent inaction of your government is utterly incompatible with our most basic value as a democracy. We regard it as unacceptable that the UK government not only remains silent, but actively enables this Saudi regime.”

The UK, the letter goes on, “has continued to supply Saudi Arabia with weaponry which has been used in the devastating war in Yemen, has shamefully rolled out the red carpet for the Saudi crown prince in a state visit earlier this year, and has repeatedly excused their actions in statements before the House of Commons”.

While some concern expressed about the Khashoggi case and other moves were welcome, the signatories wrote, “the time for rhetoric and photocalls is over – it’s time to act”.

The letter calls for a full condemnation of Saudi Arabia’s “reckless and barbaric” behaviour; a suspension of arms sales for use in Yemen pending an investigation of alleged war crimes; a halt to UK military operations in Saudi; details on what diplomatic representations had been made to the Saudis, and support for an independent inquiry into Khashoggi’s fate.

Read Full Article>>

Saudi Arabia admits Khashoggi killed but claims he died in ‘fistfight’>>

World Politics

United States

‘Toxic Christianity’: the evangelicals creating champions for Trump

The McGlynn: Some very sick people.

 

Donald Trump poses with the Liberty University president, Jerry Falwell Jr. Photograph: Steve Helber/AP

At Liberty University, students and faculty have faith in the president to help ‘create generations of rightwing Christians’ – but some are uneasy

by in Lynchburg, Virginia

Three times a week, 15,000 students stream into the Vines Center, a huge silver-domed building on the campus of Liberty University for “convocation”, an intoxicating mix of prayer, political rally and entertainment. Thousands more watch a live stream of the event.

The star attraction has twice been Donald Trump, in 2012 and 2016. His first appearance was as a successful businessman and reality TV star, the second as the man campaigning to be the Republican party’s candidate for president. Last year, he made a third appearance at Liberty, to address the university’s graduation ceremony. By then, he was one of the most divisive leaders in the country’s history.

But not at Liberty. The Christian university which dominates the town of Lynchburg, Virginia, has become almost synonymous with Trump. It sits at the heart of the alliance between the president and conservative evangelical Christians – an alliance forged in part by Jerry Falwell Jr, Liberty’s president, Lynchburg’s most prominent citizen and Trump’s close associate.

Falwell was instrumental in delivering 81% of white Christian evangelical voters for Trump in 2016. Ahead of next month’s midterm elections, that support appears to be holding up, although there has been some erosion among evangelical women. A survey published in early October by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 72% of white evangelical Protestants had a favourable opinion of the president.

In Liberty’s coffee bars, random conversations with a dozen or so students found they all backed Falwell’s full-throated support for Trump. But not everyone in the town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains is happy. A minority at the university, along with a few churches in town, are deeply concerned. Some speak of a “toxic Christianity”.

Falwell endorsed Trump’s candidacy two weeks after his January 2016 appearance at Liberty’s convocation, a move which triggered the resignation of a member of the university’s board of trustees, Mark DeMoss.

Later, Falwell dismissed the furore around the candidate’s “grab them by the pussy” comments, saying: “We’re never going to have a perfect candidate unless Jesus Christ is on the ballot.” He has defended some of the president’s most egregious remarks and tweets since taking office.

He recently sent 300 Liberty students to Washington to demonstrate in support of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the supreme court. The next day, he tweeted: “Conservatives & Christians need to stop electing ‘nice guys’. They might make great Christian leaders but the US needs street fighters like @realDonaldTrump at every level of government b/c the liberal fascists Dems are playing for keeps & many Repub leaders are a bunch of wimps!”

Falwell told the Guardian that Trump was a “good moral person, a strong leader, a tough leader – and that’s what this country needs”, and that support among white evangelicals was solid in the run-up to the midterms. “The sentiment is there, it’s going to come down to turnout,” he said in an interview.

According to Bill Leonard, professor of church history at Wake Forest University, North Carolina, the context to white evangelicals hitching their wagon to Trump is “panic at the precipitous decline of Christianity” in US society.

Polls show a drop in the proportion of white evangelicals from a peak in the 1990s of around 27% of the population to between 17% and 13% now, alongside a significant rise in religious pluralism and those – particularly young people – who say they have no religion.

Changing attitudes and legislation on abortion, divorce, gender equality and LGBT rights were “powerful indicators of the loss of Protestant privilege and a prelude to white evangelicals moving in such large numbers to supporting Trump”, said Leonard.

Crucially, they wanted a president who would nominate conservative supreme court justices. “Presidents come and go, but appointments to the supreme court are for life. With the right nominees, you could change the supreme court majority for half a century. [Evangelicals] tell themselves that Trump is the vehicle God has chosen to drive the conservative evangelical agenda.”

Read Full Article>>

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