Posts Tagged Pope Francis

Pope Francis Question’s Trump’s Faith

Pope-Francis-L-and-Donald-Trump-AP-Photos-640x480 (1)After visiting the US-Mexico border, Pope Francis on Thursday responded to a question about Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall between the two countries by saying that “this man is not Christian if he has said things like that.”

Francis added that he would give Trump “the benefit of the doubt,” given that he did not know details of the Republican presidential candidate’s plan to build a border wall. Though the pope was asked specifically about Trump’s plan during his visit to Mexico, the businessman is not the only GOP candidate who has called for a wall to secure the US border. Both Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have said that they support a similar plan.

Trump quickly responded to Francis’s remarks with his usual bombast, warning of a potential attack on the Vatican.

“If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS’s ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president because this would not have happened,” Trump said in a statement.

But rather than criticize Pope Francis directly for his remarks, Trump suggested that the pontiff was being misinformed by the Mexican government “because they want to continue to rip off the United States, both on trade and at the border, and they understand I am totally wise to them.”

Trump added, however, that he thought it was “disgraceful” for a religious leader “to question a person’s faith,” noting that he is “proud to be a Christian.”

“No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith. They are using the pope as a pawn and they should be ashamed of themselves for doing so,” he said in apparent reference to the Mexican government, “especially when so many lives are involved and when illegal immigration is so rampant.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, took the real-estate mogul’s side in the spat with the Vatican.

When asked by CNN on “The Lead with Jake Tapper” about the Pope’s remarks, Rubio gave a lengthy defense of the United States as the “most compassionate and open country in the world on legal immigration,” and defended the government’s right to implement and enforce immigration laws as it sees fit.

“I think the Holy Father recognizes or should recognize and I believe he does how generous America is,” Rubio said. “We accept, every year, close to a million or over a million people every year as permanent residents of the United States. No other country even comes close.”

Republican rival, Jeb Bush, a devout Catholic, who came to Trump’s defense.

“I think his Christianity is between he and his creator don’t think we need to discuss that,” Bush told reporters on Thursday in Columbia. The defense of his spiritual life did not extend to his political life, though. “As it relates to his policies related to ISIS, he’s not the right guy to be commander-in-chief,” Bush added.

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Iranian President Rouhani Hails New Relationship With France

President RouhaniPresident Hassan Rouhani hailed a “new relationship” between Iran and France during a visit Thursday that saw the signing of a host of post-sanctions business deals.

“Let us forget the resentment,” Rouhani said, calling for both countries to take advantage of the “positive atmosphere” following the removal of sanctions over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme.

“We are ready to turn the page” and establish a “new relationship between our countries”, Rouhani told a meeting of business leaders.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls responded that “Iran can count on France”.

“France is ready to use its companies, its engineers, its technicians and its many resources to help to modernise your country,” Valls said.

Rouhani was welcomed to Paris with military honours and national anthems on the second leg of a trip signalling Iran’s rapprochement with Europe since sanctions were lifted.

The real business of the visit will come when Rouhani officially signals Iran’s intention to buy more than 100 passenger planes from European aircraft maker Airbus.

French carmaker Peugeot said it will return to the Iranian market in a five-year deal worth 400 million euros ($436 million) that was announced Thursday.

Peugeot will produce 200,000 cars a year in a joint venture with local manufacturer Iran Khodro, according to a statement.

The French carmaker was forced to pull out of Iran in 2012 as sanctions began to bite.

In another potential bonanza for France, the head of French oil giant Total said his firm would sign a deal to buy Iranian crude.

Although the French state is rolling out the red carpet for Rouhani, the Iranian opposition will hold a human rights demonstration and Jewish groups also intend to protest in Paris.

Rouhani is to hold talks with President Francois Hollande which are expected to include discussions on Iran’s role in Syria, where it is backing President Bashar al-Assad in a war that has killed 260,000 people.

Talks are due to begin Friday in Geneva to take tentative steps towards ending the conflict.

After arriving from Italy, where he sealed deals for steel and pipelines worth between 15 and 17 billion euros, Rouhani began his Paris visit on Wednesday by unveiling a scheme to guarantee investment by French firms in Iran.

A source involved in the deal to buy Airbus planes said that only letters of intention will be signed at this stage, because some sanctions are still in place.

However, Iran is keen to bring its ageing fleet of mid- and long-haul aircraft up to date, so the deal is widely expected to go ahead soon, giving a huge boost to the European aviation industry.

Rouhani’s meeting with Hollande is also expected to touch on Iran’s bitter feud with regional rival Saudi Arabia.

In a reference to Saudi Arabia, the Iranian president told an audience in Paris that “some countries had wanted to use terrorism for their own means”.

“But this is a hand grenade with the pin removed,” he added.

During his visit to Rome, Rouhani dismissed suggestions that Iran should apologise to the Saudis for an attack on its embassy by demonstrators furious over Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric, Nimr al-Nimr.

“Why should we apologise, because Nimr al-Nimr was executed? We are the ones to apologise because they are killing the people of Yemen? Apologise to them because they are helping terrorists?” he asked.

In the Italian capital, Rouhani and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi met at the Capitoline Museum where nude statues were covered up out of respect for the Islamic Republic’s strict laws governing propriety.

But Rouhani denied he had asked his Italian hosts to cover up the statues and Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, who accompanied Rouhani on the museum trip, called the move “incomprehensible”.

Rouhani also visited the Vatican for the first time and met Pope Francis.

 

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French Security Services In Massive Hunt For Terrorists

Charlie HerboFrench security forces have launched a massive manhunt for two brothers suspected of killing 12 people in an Islamist attack on a satirical weekly in Paris, the deadliest attack in France in half a century.

The attack triggered an international outpouring of solidarity, with demonstrations spreading from Moscow to Washington, as world leaders and other media including newspaper cartoonists united in their revulsion of the daylight assault.

More than 100,000 people took to the streets across France to express their outrage, many carrying banners reading: “I am Charlie” while the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie was trending worldwide.

President Francois Hollande called the massacre — thought to be the worst attack on French soil since 1961,  “an act of exceptional barbarity” and “undoubtedly a terrorist attack”.

In the hunt for the attackers, police published pictures of the wanted men in an urgent appeal for information as a manhunt stretched long into the night with a raid by elite anti-terror police in the northern city of Reims.

An 18-year-old suspected of being an accomplice in the attack at the headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo magazine was taken into custody after surrendering to police in a small town in the same region as Reims.

A source close to the case said Hamyd Mourad surrendered after “seeing his name circulating on social media”.

But the masked, black-clad gunmen who shouted “Allahu akbar” while killing some of France’s most outspoken journalists as well as two policemen were still on the loose.

Arrest warrants had been issued for Cherif Kouachi, 32, a known jihadist convicted in 2008 for involvement in a network sending fighters to Iraq, and his 34-year-old brother Said. Both were born in Paris.

Search-and-seizure operations took place in Strasbourg and towns near Paris, while in Reims police commandos carried out a raid on a building later scoured by white-clad forensic police.

Flags were to fly at half-mast Thursday as Hollande declared a day of national mourning — only the fifth of the past 50 years.

“Nothing can divide us, nothing should separate us. Freedom will always be stronger than barbarity,” said the president.

The attack saw the gunmen storm the offices of Charlie Hebdo in broad daylight as journalists gathered for a morning editorial conference, killing eight journalists, including some of France’s best-known cartoonists.

Charlie Hebdo has long provoked controversy, mocking many religions with provocative drawings, a practice that has outraged Muslims whose religion forbids depictions of the Prophet Mohammed.

Even before the attack France was on high alert like many European capitals that have seen citizens leave to fight alongside the radical Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

The group has singled out France, which is home to Europe’s largest Muslim population, when calling for terrorist attacks against Western nations.

Hollande called for “national unity”, adding that “several terrorist attacks had been foiled in recent weeks”.

US President Barack Obama led the global condemnation of what he called a “cowardly, evil” assault. Pope Francis described it as a “horrible attack” saying such violence, “whatever the motivation, is abominable, it is never justified”.

Security experts said the calculated and deadly efficacy of the killers showed they were highly-trained.

Chilling amateur video footage showed the attackers calmly walking towards a wounded policeman as he lay on the pavement before one shot him at close range.

Prosecutors said 11 people were also wounded in the attack, with four in critical condition.

The imam of Drancy mosque in the northern suburbs of Paris, Hassen Chalghoumi, visited the scene, calling the shooters “barbarians”.

“They want terror, they want fear. We must not give in. I hope the French will come out in solidarity and not against the Muslim minority in Europe.”

One witness said: “I saw them leaving and shooting. They were wearing masks. These guys were serious.

“At first I thought it was special forces chasing drug traffickers or something,” said the man, who declined to give his name.

The attack stunned local residents.

“It’s awful, it’s awful,” said Anne Pajon, a Scot who has lived in Paris for 20 years, as she waited at the busy Saint Lazare train station.

“It’s scary. What’s worrying is that we can’t do anything. That’s terrorism it hits whatever we do. We cannot prevent it.”

Charlie Hebdo gained notoriety in February 2006 when it reprinted cartoons of the Prophet that had originally appeared in Danish daily Jyllands-Posten.

Its offices were fire-bombed in November 2011 when it published a cartoon of Mohammed under the title “Sharia Hebdo”.

Even being dragged to court under anti-racism laws did not stop the publication, which in September 2012 again drew the Prophet, this time naked.

The killers on Wednesday shouted “we have avenged the prophet, we have killed Charlie Hebdo”, according to prosecutors.

The attack took place on the day the latest edition of Charlie Hebdo was published.

It featured a cartoon of an armed militant noting “Still no attacks in France. Wait! We have until the end of January to send greetings”. That was a reference to France’s tradition of wishing someone a Happy New Year before January 31.

Editor-in-chief Stephane Charbonnier, known as Charb and who had lived under police protection after receiving death threats, was among those killed.

Other victims included Jean Cabut, known across France as Cabu, Georges Wolinski and Bernard Verlhac, better known as Tignous.

British Prime Minister David Cameron called the attack “sickening” while Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as the Arab League were also among those condemning the violence.

Iran condemned the killings but reiterated its criticism of the weekly’s 2006 publication of cartoons of Mohammed.

 

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