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Trudeau vows to fight far-right groups after Muslim family slain

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday promised to redouble efforts to fight far-right groups two days after a hate-motivated attack that killed four members of a Muslim family in the city of London, Ontario.

“This was a terrorist attack, motivated by hatred, in the heart of one of our communities,” Trudeau said in the House of Commons after observing a moment of silence.

The family, killed on Sunday when a pickup truck jumped the curb and ran them over, were targeted because of their religion, Canadian police said. The victims spanned three generations of a family and ranged in age from 15 to 74. A 9-year-old boy who survived remains hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

London, a city of about 400,000 people located halfway between Detroit and Toronto, has a large Muslim community and at least three mosques.

Rows of freshly cut flowers were placed on the grass at the entrance of the London Muslim Mosque, a place of worship at the heart of that community which the victims had attended.

“The London Muslim Mosque, it’s the second-oldest mosque in Canada. … This London (Muslim) community here has helped build this city,” said Omar Khamissa, community engagement officer of the National Council of Canadian Muslims nonprofit group.

“This is their home. And for the first time those that wear the scarf, who have beard, feel it’s not,” Khamissa said.

During the morning, a steady stream of adults and children left bouquets of flowers, stuffed animals and small signs expressing outrage at the street corner where the family was killed while taking a summer evening stroll.

“We’ll continue to fight hate online and offline … (including) taking more action to dismantle far-right hate groups, like we did with the Proud Boys by adding them to Canada‘s terror listing,” said Trudeau, due to attend a vigil outside the mosque later on Tuesday.

Police arrested a man named Nathaniel Veltman, 20, in a parking lot about three-tenths of a mile (500 meters) from the mosque. He was wearing a body-armor type of vest. Veltman, who is white, was charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. Authorities are reviewing possible terrorism charges.

‘DEVASTATING CONSEQUENCES’

The mosque bolstered security measures after a gunman killed 51 people in 2019 at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, according to Aarij Anwer, its imam and Islamic education coordinator.

“We’ve been ramping up our security since that time, and now even more,” Anwer said in a telephone interview. “Islamophobia is bubbling under the surface and it rears its ugly head from time to time with devastating consequences.”

The attack was the worst against Canadian Muslims since a man gunned down six members of a Quebec City mosque in 2017. London Mayor Ed Holder called it the worst mass murder in his city’s history.

“Muslims wonder, how many more lives will it take, how many families will be mowed – mowed – down in the streets, how many more families will be killed before we do something?” opposition New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh, the first person from an ethnic minority to lead a major Canadian political party, said in the House of Commons after Trudeau spoke.

In February, Canada designated the far-right Proud Boys group a terrorist entity, saying it posed an active security threat after the January U.S. Capitol attack in Washington. Although the group has never mounted an attack in Canada, officials said domestic intelligence forces have become increasingly worried about it.

An anti-Islam rally was held in London in 2017 that was organized by a group called the Patriots of Canada Against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA), with counter protesters greatly outnumbering the anti-Muslim demonstrators, according to media reports at the time.

Veltman appears to have had little social media footprint. A spokesperson at the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, an organization that tracks hate groups, said that is unusual for a 20-year-old man.

“Someone poured poison into his ear,” said the spokesperson, who asked not to be named. “We hope that further information will be shared to help determine and identify his online and media consumption.”

(Reporting by Steve Scherer, David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Carlos Osorio in London, additional reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa and Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Amran Abocar and Will Dunham)

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Trudeau says he discussed border with Biden, but no deal

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday he has spoken with U.S. President Joe Biden about how to lift pandemic-related border restrictions between the two countries but made clear no breakthrough has been achieved.

U.S. and Canadian business leaders have voiced increasing concern about the ban on non-essential travel in light of COVID-19 that was first imposed in March 2020 and renewed on a monthly basis since then. The border measures do not affect trade flows.

The border restrictions have choked off tourism between the two countries. Canadian businesses, especially airlines and those that depend on tourism, have been lobbying the Liberal government to relax the restrictions.

Canada last week took a cautious first step, saying it was prepared to relax quarantine protocols for fully vaccinated citizens returning home starting in early July.

Trudeau, speaking after a Group of Seven summit in Britain, said he had talked to Biden “about coordinating measures at our borders as both our countries move ahead with mass vaccination.” Canada is resisting calls for the border measures to be relaxed, citing the need for more people to be vaccinated.

The United States is ahead of Canada in terms of vaccination totals.

“We will continue to work closely together on moving forward in the right way but each of us always will put at the forefront the interests and the safety of our own citizens,” Trudeau told a televised news conference when asked the Biden conversation.

“Many countries, like Canada, continue to say that now is not the time to travel,” Trudeau added, though he said it is important to get back to normalcy as quickly as possible.

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Will Dunham)

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Man with 39 wive dies in India

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A 76-year-old man who had 39 wives and 94 children and was said to be the head of the world’s largest family has died in north east India, the chief minister of his home state said.

Ziona Chana, the head of a local Christian sect that allows polygamy, died on Sunday, Zoramthanga, the chief minister of Mizoram and who goes by one name, said in a tweet.

With a total of 167 members, the family is the world’s largest, according to local media, although this depends on whether you count the grandchildren, of whom Ziona has 33.

Winston Blackmore, the head of a polygamous Mormon sect in Canada, has around 150 children from 27 wives – 178 people in total.

Ziona lived with his family in a vast, four-story pink structure with around 100 rooms in Baktawng, a remote village in Mizoram that became a tourist attraction as a result, according to Zoramthanga.

The sect, named “Chana”, was founded by Ziona’s father in 1942 and has a membership of hundreds of families. Ziona married his first wife when he was 17, and claimed he once married ten wives in a single year.

They shared a dormitory near his private bedroom, and locals said he liked to have seven or eight of them by his side at all times.

Despite his family’s huge size, Ziona told Reuters in a 2011 interview he wanted to grow it even further.

“I am ready to expand my family and willing to go to any extent to marry,” he said.

“I have so many people to care for and look after, and I consider myself a lucky man.”

 

(Reporting by Alasdair Pal and Adnan Abidi in New Delhi; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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Huawei CFO seeks publication ban on HSBC documents in U.S. extradition case

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Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on Monday will seek to bar publication of documents her legal team received from HSBC, a request opposed by Canadian prosecutors in her U.S. extradition case who say it violates the principles of open court.

Meng’s legal team will present arguments in support of the ban in the British Columbia Supreme Court.

Meng, 49, was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018 on a warrant from the United States, where she faces charges of bank fraud for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s business dealings in Iran and potentially causing the bank to break U.S. sanctions on business in Iran.

She has been under house arrest in Vancouver for more than two years and fighting her extradition to the United States. Meng has said she is innocent.

Lawyers for Huawei and HSBC in Hong Kong agreed to a release of the documents in April to Meng’s legal team on the condition that they “use reasonable effort” to keep confidential information concealed from the public, according to submissions filed by the defense on Friday.

Prosecutors representing the Canadian government argued against the ban, saying in submissions filed the same day that “to be consistent with the open court principle, a ban must be tailored” and details should be selectively redacted from the public, rather than the whole documents.

A consortium of media outlets, including Reuters News, also opposes the ban.

The open court principle requires that court proceedings be open and accessible to the public and to the media.

It is unclear what documents Huawei obtained from HSBC, but defense lawyers argue they are relevant to Meng’s case.

Meng’s hearing was initially set to wrap up in May but Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes granted an extension to allow the defense to read through the new documents.

Hearings in the extradition case are scheduled to finish in late August.

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Howard Goller)

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