CHRISTCHURCH: A solemn New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Friday the deadly mosque shootings in Christchurch had plunged the country into one of its “darkest days”.
“Clearly, what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence,” Ardern said in an address to a shocked nation.
A gunman opened fire inside the Masjid al Noor mosque during afternoon prayers, causing multiple fatalities.
“Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees here,” Ardern said.
“They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not.”
“They should have been in a safe environment,” she said.
One person is in custody, but police said it was not yet clear if there were other people involved.
“There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence,” Ardern added.
“For now, my thoughts, and I’m sure the thoughts of all New Zealanders, are with those who have been affected, and also with their families.”
Her comments were echoed by the leader of the opposition Simon Bridges.
“We stand with and support the New Zealand Islamic community,” he said.
“No one in this country should live in fear, no matter their race or religion, their politics or their beliefs.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was among the foreign leaders who expressed their concern.
“I’m horrified by the reports I’m following of the serious shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand,” he said.
“The situation is still unfolding but our thoughts and prayers are with our Kiwi cousins.”
Russian Pianists Mesmerize Karachiites (VIDEO AND TEXT)
KARACHI: Music aficionados from all over the Metropolis converged at the patio of Alliance Française de Karachi (AFK) – French Cultural Centre – here on Monday (29th April). The occasion was a piano concert by Russian twin sisters Anastasia & Polina Churbanova.
KARACHI: Humane Urduphone Consul General of the Russian Federation Dr. Aleksandr G. Khozin announced that the first piece of the evening had been dedicated to Ahmed Mir (late official of the Qatar Airways) who had sponsored the duo’s transportation – Mir died in an accident in the USA.
KARACHI: Conspicuous among others there were Consul Generals of Russia & France, Commissioner Karachi, Bina Shah (President AFK), Behram & Goshpi Avari (who had sponsored the twin’s stay here), and family members of the late official of Qatar Airways Ahmed Mir.The soirée commenced with two sisters playing German Composer Johann Sebastian Bach’s Minuet & Badinerie (from Orchestral Suite No.2 in B minor). The next piece was French composer & pianist Francis Poulenc’s Sonate Zu vier Händen. Alexander Scriabin’s composition (Sonata No.3 in F-sharp minor op.23) Andante was performed by Polina whereas, her sister’s solo was Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata No. 27 in E Minor op.90. The last scheduled composition played by the twin sisters was Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Barcarolle, Scherzo, Russian Theme, Romance, Waltz and Slava (6 pieces, op.11 for piano four hands). After three curtain calls the twins excused as they were too exhausted to perform. KARACHI: Talking exclusively to this scribe Anastasia & Polina Churbanova told that they were from St. Petersburg and were playing Piano since they were six. After taking lessons for a year they took part in a globally acclaimed contest named after Lubov Brook. Later in 2003, they won first prize in the famous international competition named after celebrated Russian pianist/composer A. Rubinstein. The twins told this was their second visit to the Port City, a Metropolis where they would love to perform again in future. They give piano concerts in Russia regularly and – besides Pakistan – had performed in five foreign countries (including Austria, Germany, Holland, & Ukraine).
PS: It is pertinent to mention here that this performance was part of an international concert series termed as Classical Music Without Borders.
CG JoAnne Wagner opens Photo Expo “Muslims in America” (VIDEO AND TEXT)
KARACHI: JoAnne Wagner Consul General of USA, and Syed Sardar Shah Sindh Minister for Culture, have inaugurated a photo exposition titled Muslims in America at Lincoln Corner in the Liaquat National Memorial Library here.
Commenting on the exhibition Consul General remarked: “The images in the exhibit demonstrate two founding principles of American society: those of tolerance of religious diversity; and freedom of religious practice. Americans are proud of their right to practice the religion of their choice, without any fear,”
The photo exhibition showcases religious diversity and religious freedom in the USA that is home to one of the most diverse Muslim populations in the world.
The exhibit will remain open to the general public till 4th June.
Thai king opens first parliament since 2014 coup
BANGKOK: Thailand’s king opened parliament Friday five years after a 2014 coup, stressing the importance of “national security” and “people’s well-being” as the junta moves within striking distance of cementing its grip on power.
Results of the March 24 poll were released almost two months after the vote and showed no clear winner.
But the junta-linked Palang Pracharat won 115 seats in the lower house, only 11 votes shy of a majority in the combined parliament thanks to 250 military-appointed senators.
All eyes are now on mid-sized parties that analysts believe are tilting towards Palang Pracharat.
Wearing glasses and reading from prepared remarks, King Maha Vajiralongkorn told hundreds of assembled MPs standing in white uniform to act with responsibility because “each member’s action will directly affect national security and people’s well being.”
Members of the diplomatic corps were also in attendance.
The king was next to Queen Suthida, a former member of his royal bodyguard unit whom he married days before his coronation earlier this month.
The temporary setting — Thailand’s new parliamentary building is not ready yet — hinted at the tensions and uncertainty surrounding the rocky path ahead.
Votes for House Speakers are set for Saturday while the vote for prime minister could happen as early as next week.
In a dramatic move a day before the opening, the constitutional court suspended junta foe Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit from parliament as it agreed to hear a case against him concerning the alleged ownership of media shares when he registered as a candidate.