Hate draws a forceful response

first_imgOn Aug. 5, 2012, a white supremacist walked into a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisc., and started shooting. The resulting casualties ― the gunman killed six people and wounded four before dying of a self-inflicted wound ― made the attack, at the time, the worst hate crime in America (the shooting in Charleston, S.C., last year would claim more victims). That the response by the small Wisconsin city was not one of vengeance or retribution, but of reconciliation and a search for greater understanding, has been described as testament not only to the resilience of Oak Creek but to the better nature of the nation as a whole.The story of that horror, and the healing that came after, is the focus of a short documentary, “Waking in Oak Creek,” which screened at the Brattle Theatre on Tuesday. The final installment of the Religion Refocused series, sponsored by the Pluralism Project at Harvard and made possible by support from Mass Humanities, the screening was aimed at bringing the conversation around the incident to Cambridge, as was a panel discussion afterward. Moderated by Diana Eck, director of the Pluralism Project and a professor of religion in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the panel included the filmmaker, Patrice O’Neill, as well as community activists.“Waking in Oak Creek” opens with the 911 calls and incorporates police and news reports from the incident, the terror and chaos of which is made clear and personal in interviews with survivors. Family photos and film footage of the murder victims add to the poignancy, while interviews with Lt. Brian Murphy of the Oak Creek police, who was shot 15 times in the attack, illustrate the long road back for the wounded.But the emphasis in the film is on community action. Candlelight vigils united the city, including groups as diverse as the local American Legion, Christian churches, and Jewish synagogues, while testimony by Sikh temple members brought about legislation that clarified the status of Sikhs in federal hate crimes.O’Neill said that the 34-minute documentary, released in 2014, has been screened more than 3,000 times by community and police groups.,“This film is not about violence,” said O’Neill, a leader of the anti-bullying and anti-hate group Not in Our Town. “This film is about all the people … who can find a way to change and shift the culture that is becoming so toxic.”Explaining the film’s title, O’Neill quoted Pardeep Kaleka, who was also part of the panel. A former Milwaukee police officer, Kaleka, now a teacher, is the eldest son of Satwant Singh Kaleka, the murdered president of the Sikh temple.“We need to be awake,” O’Neill said, echoing Kaleka’s words in the film and citing the Sikh tenet of mindfulness and “relentless optimism” as the appropriate answer to hate.Panelist Arno Michaelis echoed that message. A former white supremacist, Michaelis co-founded the outreach organization Serve 2 Unite with Kaleka.“Belief that the world is basically good is the antidote to violence,” he said. Answering questions about his conversion, Michaelis recalled how various simple acts of friendship — a sandwich shared by an African-American co-worker, a job offer from a Jewish businessman ― ultimately guided him away from hate.Karin Firoza, the assistant director of the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, and Service at Northeastern University, took the discussion into the Boston area, talking about her work with local youth.“There’s a lot of fear about being not only harmed but also discriminated against,” said Firoza, who is active with Boston’s Young Muslims Engaging, a high school group, and co-founded Roots & Wings Training and Consultation.For Kaleka, the trauma that he, his family, and his community suffered prompted a personal awakening, redirecting his life toward teaching and outreach. This was the message he came to share. “Every moment of fear, every moment of ignorance, is an opportunity,” he said. “Take every moment as an opportunity.”The 25th anniversary of the Pluralism Project will be celebrated during the opening of a special exhibit on Wednesday at 3 p.m. at Harvard Divinity School’s Andover-Harvard Theological Library. The celebration is open to the public and Professor Diana Eck will be on hand to provide remarks.last_img read more

No Personal Target at Russia 2018

first_imgOne of the players Nigeria will bank on for the Super Eagles to make an impact at the World Cup in Russia next month, Alex Iwobi, says he is not setting a target for himself. He’s content appearing at the Mundial for the first time. In a chat with Kunle Adewale, the Arsenal player’s decision to play for his country even when the opportunity to star for England beckoned and his time with Arsene Wenger As the kick-off of the 2018 World Cup draws nearer, Arsenal and Super Eagles midfielder, Alex Iwobi, is hoping that Nigeria would make an appreciable performance just as he expressed delight to be play for the Super Eagles at the Mundial.“We hope to do well at the World Cup, though I am not setting any personal target for myself but rather excited at playing in the Mundial for the first time,” Iwobi said.His father, Chuba, corroborated his opinion, saying there was no set target for his son to meet: “I am not setting a target for him, but I am convinced he would go out there and do his best. He won’t come back from the World Cup with any regret or look back and say I could have done more. He is going to bring success to the team. I believe Nigeria has a good team and will do well.”Iwobi indeed expressed his regret that the tenure of his mentor-Arsene Wenger at Arsenal had come to an end. He stated that he was emotional after his side defeated Huddersfield Town1-0 in their last Premier League fixture which was also Wenger’s final game in charge of the Gunners.Iwobi who was named in the starting line up as in Wenger’s last game and was in action for 72 minutes before he was substituted said: “I feel depressed that Wenger was leaving the club after 22 years in charge. I had exciting moments with him but I am also looking forward to working hard with whoever is coming to take over from him.” Iwobi was, however, not bothered by league finish as he took to his official Twitter account stating his disappointment at the departure of the manager who gave him an opportunity in the first team: “Good to end the season with a win! Emotional and knowing it’s the boss’s last match, was only right it was a win. Love to our fans for all your support this season.”Expressing the same view, his father said: “Every good thing has an ending. Wenger had been there for 22 years, he is a remarkable manager. As a family, we are very grateful because he gave Alex his first opportunity at Arsenal. Going forward however, the reality is gone and what Alex is trying to do is work with the new manager. He’s gotten the natural talent and the ability to play the arsenal way. I’m very confident that he would still be relevant to the team.”Chuba, however, regretted that his son and indeed Arsenal would not be playing in next season’s UEFA Champions League.“I feel bad that my son would not be playing in the Champions League next season having failed to book a top-four place in the premier league but I believe strongly that the new season would be better for the Gunners,” Chuba said.On when he really realised that his son could really make a career in football, Chuba said he started taking Alex to the field to train as early as when Iwobi was 18 months, adding that his son showed great promise of becoming a great footballer at a very early age.“I grew up in a footballing environment. My dad, my uncle and my whole family love football. I played with a local team named Chuba Akpom; so I grew up with a footballing life,” Iwobi said.Against the backdrop that Iwobi’s decision to play for the Super Eagles as against the Three Lions of England was influenced by his uncle and former national team captain, Austin Okocha, Chuba said Alex’s decision to star for Nigeria was strictly his.He said Alex’s decision to dump England for Nigeria was strictly his own decision. “All I did was to support him, and I believe he took the right decision,” Chuba said.Iwobi admitted that deciding to play for Nigeria and not England was not an easy one considering the fact that he had lived in England for almost all his years, but said it was strictly his own decision really without any external influence.Iwobi, who was born in Nigeria, said: “Ordinarily I would have loved to play for England since I have played for all the under-aged teams up to the U-19. My dad also told me a lot of things about the honour and pride that goes with playing for Nigeria. So I thought a lot about this and decided to play for Nigeria,” he said.Iwobi was last Saturday unveiled as the brand ambassador of LG electronics on a three year deal, at the company’s showroom in Lekki, Lagos.“LG would not have beckoned Alex if they didn’t think he would add value and I’m assuring them that they’ve made the right decision. He has been given the platform to contribute his quota, which is sending message to the youths in the country and making them know that every dream is achievable,” Chuba said.Iwobi was honoured at 2018 Best of Africa Awards held in London in April. BoA is an award to honour and celebrate the philanthropic endeavours and achievements of African-born football players.When he moved from the Arsenal Academy to play among Emirates big boys, some felt he was just riding on the back of his uncle, Austin Okocha’s name and the legacy left behind at the club by former Super Eagles star, Nwankwo Kanu during his time at the north London club. However, Iwobi has proved doubters wrong as he did not only become one of the fans favourites at the Emirate Stadium, but was singled out for praise by Coach Arsene Wenger on several occasions.Iwobi has been right in the mix for the Emirates Stadium side having made an impression in his breakthrough season.“I saw in him quality of vision, quality of give and go, of movement. He can break the lines with a pass and individually as well, so there’s a lot in the locker. Overall, he’s only 22 years old so you could see that he has gained in confidence now. He can take people on much more and he has gained power as well. It’s interesting what he has done. Throughout every age group he’s played, he’s been far and away the best player and sees Arsenal as more or less a continuation of that. He feels very comfortable in his surroundings and seems to have an innate sense of how he can influence matches,” the French coach had told the club’s official website.Continuing, Wenger said, “What I like is his love for the game, his passion for the game and his hard work. Those things together, in our world, are a big quality and so I think he has interesting ingredients.”Iwobi made his official debut for Arsenal in their Capital One Cup fourth round tie against Sheffield at Hillsborough Stadium two years ago.He had earlier had a taste of first-team football during the tour of Singapore and made the bench for the Capital Cup One clash with Tottenham Hotspur in the third round. Omeruo Celebrates’Taste the Goal’ with Football FansThe Sports Center of Yaba College of Technology in Lagos hugged the sporting limelight last Sunday and the feelings will linger in the minds of several football fans who had a rare opportunity to meet one-on-one with World Cup-bound Super Eagles’ strongman in the defence line, Kenneth Omeruo. In this report, Femi Solaja writes on the nostalgic feelings of most of the youths at the ‘Taste the Goal’ project. It was a unique privilege to play against the Chelsea Loanee!Get Past Kenneth to Taste the GoalWith the World Cup fever already gripping the Nigerian populace, leading pizza brand, Domino’s Pizza had announced the launch of a consumer engagement campaign tagged ‘Taste the Goal’ to excite, inspire, and sensitise its teeming consumers and fans of the Nigerian national team towards the Mundial in Russia.The weekend programme was planned to coincide with exactly one month to June 16th World Cup opening match between Nigeria and Croatia.The event which had several youths in attendance was aimed at inspiring optimism among consumers and fans of the national team. But more importantly, put them in right frame of mind to support the team in the first three group stage matches and perhaps as the tournament progresses with Nigeria still in the race for the converted trophy.Several young ambitious youths were delights to watch as they engaged the defender who is, aiming for his second World Cup appearance after the Brazil 2014 debut. The Kasimpasa Football Club defender, engaged consumers in a series of experiential and activation games to inspire consumers and fans to anticipate a successful outing of the national team at the world cup.Top of the games is the pitch-planned ‘Get Past Kenneth to Taste the Goal’ game in which consumers are given the opportunity to dribble Kenneth Omeruo to score a goal and get rewarded by Domino’s Pizza! It was a tall order as many failed but few made it.All the participants and spectators had a wonderful evening but the organisers assured consumers that ‘The Taste the Goal’ campaign would run from now till after tzhe World Cup. “I am delighted to be associated with this campaign which is aimed at sharing the excitement of football with family and friends with a fresh Domino pizza,” he remarked.Kenneth Omeruo would be championing the campaign with several activities such as Meet & Greet at some viewing centres, mystery delivery of pizza to fans, day out with two fans, and special appearances on radio programmes.World Cup Goal As Omeruo looks set for second appearance at the World Cup finals with Russia 2018, he assured Nigerian football fans that the priceless World Cup trophy was within the reach of the team should Nigeria start the campaign against Croatia on a positive note.According to him, ” everywhere you go, people talk about Messi, Modric, Aguero and Rakitic but nobody is talking of the components that made the present crop of Super Eagles players. I think it’s a huge advantage for us as a determined side and to the best of my knowledge, Nigeria will be the talking point after the group stage matches all through to the last phase of the tournament,” Omeruo assured.In his pre-tournament assessment, the FC Chelsea Loanee analysed that ” the most important match of Super Eagles is the opening tie against Croatia and not the last match with Argentina.“The moment we get the results in our first two matches with Croatia and Iceland, we will be going into the final group match against Argentina with lots of confidence and perhaps repeat the last result we secured against them in the friendly match late last year. “You will recall that we had already qualified for the World Cup as at the time we faced them in the last friendly match and we all know the outcome of the tie right there in Russia late last year. The logic is that the moment we pick maximum points in the opening games, it will spur the team to greater height.“Since Super Eagles debuted in 1994, I want to say the other generations of the team had laid a solid foundation and have taken us away from being mere participant or second round qualification bar, but real contender for the trophy,” he assured.The defender, who hopes to return to England next season form Turkey commended the technical crew for the harmony that had existed within the team in the last few years.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

Ramjattan-led anti-corruption seminar nothing but a ‘mere charade’ – PPP

first_imgSOCU advisor controversyThe APNU-AFC Coalition Government has come in for another round of scathing criticism from the Parliamentary Opposition over its approach to matters surrounding discussion of corruption.Opposition MP Harry GillLeader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, on Monday took particular umbrage at the Special Organised Crime Unit’s (SOCU’s) advisor, Dr. Sam Sittlington, who in his view conducted the Anti-Corruption Seminar without much substance.“The Opposition members wish to put on public record how disappointed we were with the lack of substance in Dr. Sittlington’s answers to the questions posed and issues raised,” a statement from the Opposition Leader’s Office noted.The Anti-Corruption Seminar was held for Members of Parliament in Parliament Chambers, and Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, as moderator, praised Dr. Sittlington, saying, “Guyana was fortunate to have a man of such experience and standing”.However, the Opposition had expected Head of SOCU, Sydney James, other members of the State body, or even observers to be present. However as proceedings continued, it descended into heated moments, as the Prime Minister accused the Parliamentary Opposition of being a “lynch gang” at the seminar and called on Member Harry Gill to retract his statement that “maybe Dr. Sittlington should consider resigning.”“Minister Ramjattan abruptly ended the session with time to spare in the 3-hour allotted time, in order to protect Dr. Sittlington from incisive issues being raised by the Parliamentary Opposition,” the statement outlined.The Opposition party said it had anticipated that frank discussions and exchanges would have been held on ways to address corruption. It, however, said that the session was “nothing but a mere charade, and a fig leaf for the non-engagement of SOCU in dealing with publicly reported acts of corruption, conflict of interest, abuse of power, extortion, etc., by the APNU/AFC Administration.”The Opposition highlighted that during Wednesday’s session, it asked a number of questions, such as the number of money laundering cases that had been successfully prosecuted in recent times, and members further questioned the reasons why SOCU never acted or investigated cases of corruption involving current Government officials. The cases highlighted were the Sussex Street Drug Bond controversy and the Jubilee Durban Park Development project wherein issues relating to beneficial ownership and conflict of interest of public officials were unearthed.The statement recalled Dr. Sittlington as stating that SOCU could act only if there was a complaint to the Commissioner of Police.“If that were the case, how did SOCU on two occasions arrest PPP/C leaders, including the former President, Prime Minister and Ministers; and the Commissioner of Police, on both occasions, publicly stated he was unaware of these actions. Further, Dr. Sittlington stated he arrived on January 2016 and the 30-odd forensic audits had been completed. This in fact was not so, and even Minister Jaipaul Sharma, who was present, looked confused, as he was the one who admitted in the seminar that he had submitted the audits to SOCU and the Police,” the Opposition Leader observed.It was disclosed that People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Members were “advised” that only recently the six-month period for hearing cases in court was lifted, a move which the Opposition deemed “a total misunderstanding” of the AML/CFT Amendment Act 2015. The party even suggested that even the adviser needs to be advised on the law and the judicial system.The Parliamentary Opposition said, too, that it remains committed to ensuring Guyana’s adherence to its constitution and laws, and its international treaties and conventions, such as the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption and the UN Convention Against Corruption.“We remain steadfast in our demands for greater transparency and accountability of the executive and all elected officials and civil society stakeholders,” it noted.Members of Parliament (MPs) representing the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) accused the British Fraud Expert and Advisor of turning a blind eye to the many instances of Government corruption. “You have turned a blind eye to reports of corruption right here in the Government,” Harry Gill said. These were references to the controversial Sussex Street drug bond and the construction of the D’Urban Park Stadium. Gill said the fact that Sittlington was employed by the State poses a conflict of interest problem for him to investigate acts of corruption by state agencies.However, the Prime Minister and Ramjattan both defended the UK expert, stating that the Opposition MP came with a motive to disparage Sittlington, and describing them as a “lynching gang with a clear intention.”In his defence, Sittlington advised that SOCU can only investigate matters that are referred to the Police, or cases referred by the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit, the Financial Intelligence Unit, or the Fraud Squad.Among former Government officials questioned were former Prime Minister and former President, Samuel Hinds; former ministers Priya Manickchand, Irfaan Ali, Clement Rohee, Robert Persaud and Dr Jennifer Westford. One commonality with their questioning was that it was in relation to property purchased at the Sparendaam seawall area on the East Coast that is commonly known as “Pradoville 2”.While the current Administration contends that the transaction is a criminal act because of the belief that the land was sold below market value, the PPP has argued that subsidised housing has always been a part of the legacy of the People’s Progressive Party, and that many Guyanese have benefited from lands sold below market value.last_img read more