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'Not in my name' – Indians protest vigilante attacks on Muslims

Indian civil society groups are protesting against the murder of Junaid Khan, a 16-year-old Muslim boy, who was stabbed to death on a train while he was returning home from Delhi on Thursday, June 22.

The "Not In My Name" demonstrations were held simultaneously in Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Thiruvananthapuram and Bengaluru on Wednesday. The organizers said the protests reflected "anger and grief" of Indian people irrespective of their religious associations.

The campaign seeks to "reclaim the constitution" and "resist the onslaught" on the right to life and equality.

Khan was allegedly killed because of his Muslim identity. Police officer Kamal Deep Goyal said that a group of more than a dozen men got into a brawl with Khan and his family due to an argument over seats in the train. They accused Khan and his family of carrying beef in their bags. The teenager was thrown off the train after being stabbed.

"They started abusing us, saying we were Muslims and traitors. They said we should go back to Pakistan," Junaid's brother Shakir told television channel CNN-News18.

Local police said one of the attackers had been arrested and others were being hunted.

Increased vigilante attacks

The assault was the latest against Muslims who make up about 14 percent of India's 1.3 billion population. In April, a Muslim farmer was lynched in the northwestern state of Rajasthan for allegedly smuggling cows.

Cows are protected by law in many Muslim-majority Indian states. Additionally, Hindu extremists groups often use violence to protect the bovines and punish those who eat beef. At least 10 people have been killed in such incidents in the last two years.

Many observers believe that the extremists were boosted by the election of Indian nationalist Narendra Modi in 2014. The Indian prime minister has been sending mixed messages on the issue, slamming cow-protecting vigilantes but also appointing a right-wing Hindu priest to lead the country's most populous state of Uttar Pradesh. State police soon started closing down butcher shops over suspected slaughter of cows.

Hardline Hindu groups have called for a nationwide ban on killing cows in India.

In the grip of fear

"Why is there so much hatred against us? What did we do to deserve this treatment?" said Mausim, Khan's brother.

Fear and anger have gripped Indian Muslims over the rise in attacks by vigilante groups , who roam about highways inspecting livestock trucks for any trace of cows.

"These attacks against Muslims are part of a pattern that involves lower-caste Hindus and other disadvantaged minority groups across the country. The government has maintained silence over these attacks - a gesture that is being read as acquiescence," said filmmaker Saba Dewan, who is also one of the organizers of the "Not In My Name" demos.

But Yousuf Saeed, a Delhi-based filmmaker, says that while attacks on Muslims have spiked in India recently, their communal profiling, slurs and bullying on public transport is not a new phenomenon.

Read: India charges Muslims with 'sedition' for celebrating Pakistan's cricket win



Japan, EU narrow differences over free trade agreement

Japan and the European Union are inching closer to a free trade agreement that will bind two of the world's largest economic blocs. There are hopes that the last remaining hurdles presently holding up the deal can be overcome before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe travels to Europe next week for a meeting of the Group of 20 industrialized nations.

Of the handful of issues that still need to be resolved, Japan's major concerns revolve around tariffs imposed on vehicles exported to the EU, while Europe is calling for similar taxes on agricultural and food products to be lifted by Japan.

Another area of concern for the European negotiators is non-tariff barriers on imports into Japan, while questions inevitably surround the future relationships between the EU, Japan and the United Kingdom after the British government completes its withdrawal from the European Union.

Read: Germany criticizes Trump executive orders on trade

Additional trade

An indication of how close the two sides are to a deal that could be worth as much as one trillion euros in increased annual trade was evident in Tokyo this week, when Abe met with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.

"In order for Japan and the European Union to continue to raise the banner of free trade, Japan and the Czech Republic will work together toward a broad agreement as soon as possible," Abe told reporters at a press conference after his meeting with PM Sobotka.

The Japanese leader is scheduled to meet with Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, in Brussels on July 6, a day before the G20 meeting opens in the German city of Hamburg.

"For Europe, the main focus of negotiations has been on the agricultural sector and food exports, and there are high hopes that this deal will lead to a significant increase on exports to Japan - as much as 50 percent - on present levels," said Martin Schulz, senior economist with the Fujitsu Research Institute.

One area within that sector that is causing problems is the tariffs imposed on European cheese, with Japan resisting calls for full-scale lifting of limits out of concern for the impact on domestic dairy farmers.

Consumption of cheese is rising rapidly as Japanese consumers increasingly embrace foreign cuisine. The 320,000 tons that was consumed in fiscal 2015 was 20 percent higher than 10 years previously, with fully 85 percent of that cheese coming from abroad. Europe delivered nearly 20 percent of total imports and there are hopes that consumption will spike if prices fall as a result of the trade deal with Tokyo.

Dairy sector disagreement

Yuji Yamamoto, Japan's agriculture minister, on Tuesday suggested that the two sides were still some way apart on the issue when he urged the EU to give ground in its demand for Japan to open its dairy products market.

"Japan still needs a little bit more preparation time to create conditions for it to compete with European firms," Yamamoto told reporters in


US lists China among worst offenders on human trafficking

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US says Salahuddin is a 'global terrorist' - will it impact Kashmir?

The timing of the US State Department's declaration was as significant as the decision itself. Just hours before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's White House visit on Monday, the State Department issued a notification naming Syed Salahuddin, leader of the Kashmiri separatist organization Hizbul Mujahideen, a "specially designated global terrorist."

"As a consequence of this designation, US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with Salahuddin and all of Salahuddin's property and interests in property subject to United States jurisdiction are blocked," the State Department said in a statement.

Salahuddin's designation as a "terrorist" set the mood for PM Modi's first official meeting with US President Donald Trump in Washington. The two leaders praised their countries' warm relations and urged Pakistani authorities to ensure that their territory should not be used by terrorists to launch attacks on other countries.

A White House statement said that Trump and Modi "resolved that India and the US will fight together" against terrorism, which they called a "grave challenge to humanity," vowing to increase cooperation on intelligence sharing and joint counter-terrorism efforts.

Read: Trump and Modi - American and Indian populists meet in Washington

Diplomatic quandary

For Pakistan, the US move is a huge diplomatic blow as Islamabad believes Hizbul Mujahideen and Salahuddin are fighting for Kashmir's "freedom" from an Indian "occupation." Pakistan declared Burhan Wani, a Hizbul Mujahideen leader killed by Indian security forces in Kashmir last July, a "martyr."

Pakistan claims that its support to Kashmiri separatist groups is only political, but New Delhi claims Islamabad is training militants and providing arms to them.

"The designation of individuals supporting the Kashmiri right to self-determination as terrorists is completely unjustified," Pakistan's Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said in a statement Tuesday without naming Salahuddin or the US.

Salahuddin, who Kashmir observers say operates from Pakistan-administered Kashmir, is also head of an alliance of anti-India militant groups, the United Jihad Council, which wants Kashmir's annexation with Pakistan.

"Along with armed struggle, we will also start a civil disobedience movement in 'occupied' Kashmir," said Salahuddin after Wani's killing, referring to India-administered Kashmir.

"People on both sides will have to march and trample that bloody line that divides them," Salahuddin said.

Since 1989, Muslim insurgents have been fighting Indian forces in the Indian part of Kashmir - a region of 12 million people, about 70 percent of whom are Muslim. India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars since independence in 1947 over Kashmir, which they both claim in full but rule in part.


Liaoning carrier demonstrates China's power off Taiwan coast

China's Ministry of Defense on Monday announced that the Chinese Navy's "Liaoning" aircraft carrier  had left its home port of Qingdao on Saturday for routine maneuvers.

Accompanied by two destroyers, a naval frigate and equipped with multiple fighter jets and helicopters, the ports of call for the Liaoning have not been officially announced.

But there are unofficial reports in the Chinese press that the Liaoning is heading for Hong Kong to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the territory being handed back to China from Great Britain.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will also reportedly be in Hong Kong at the beginning of July for the reunification celebration, which is a strong signal that China's aircraft carrier will be there to accompany his visit. Local media are even reporting that the ship will be open to visitors, in a public show of Chinese military advancement.

But on Taiwan, there is less concern for where the Liaoning is headed as to the route the armada is taking. Taiwan's Defense Ministry in Taipei is concerned that, if en route to Hong Kong, the Liaoning carrier group will set sail in a loop around Taiwan island - an ostensible demonstration of military power and Chinese sovereignty over the breakaway province. 

Liaoning carrier demonstrates China's power off Taiwan coast

According to unofficial convention, the armada should sail through the Strait of Taiwan,  through the center of the strait, and nearer to the coast of Mainland China.

But in Beijing, there currently seems to be a renewed will to unite renegade Taiwan with China.

"The defense ministry will continuously follow the movements of the communist forces and react correspondingly," said a statement from Taipei.

"It is clearly a military threat from China," Jung-Shian Li, a professor at National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan, told DW. "But because of the election of the China-critical Tsai Ing-wen as president, the Taiwanese have unequivocally made a statement that we will not be deterred."

An island unto itself 

Taiwan's determination for independence from Mainland China comes at a price. The majority of the international community only recognizes the People's Republic of China (PRC). Taiwan, officially called the "Republic of China (ROC)," is diplomatically isolated  and considers its existence threatened by the territorial ambitions of the PRC.

Professor Li has experienced first hand the consequences of Taiwan's international isolation. When flying to Israel from Germany recently, Li said he was forced to convince airline employees that he was not a citizen of the PRC, which requires a visa for Israel. As a Taiwanese, he is allowed to travel on his passport.

Taiwan Reisepass (picture-alliance/EPA/D. Chan)

Citizens of Taiwan can travel visa-free to 124 countries, although Taiwan is only officially recognized by 20

The source of the confusion was Li's passport, which contains Taiwan's official name, the "Republic of China." Strangely, Taiwan is recognized by only 20 countries worldwide, but the Taiwanese passport allows citizens to travel visa-free to 124 countries.

"Isn't that ludicrous?" said Li. "Taiwan has a free and democratic society like the West and is a regional economic power with 23 million people. And even though