Protests and counter-protests in Regina over anti-Islamophobia motion [CANADA]

Opposing protestors clashed outside Regina’s city hall on Saturday over an anti-Islamophobia motion.

Protesters on one side, largely organized by the Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens, are demanding an end to M-103, which calls for the Canadian government to condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination. They say they are worried the motion will limit free speech.
“It’s important for every religion, everybody to be able to express freedom of speech,” Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens supporter Robert Johnsen said.

A counter-protest was organized in response to those concerned about M-103, citing worries about the increase in violence against the Canadian Muslim community.

“We’re worried that this rally represents the tip of that iceberg in Regina, that there’s anti-Muslim sentiment in the city that’s feeling emboldened by the current political climate and testing that by having a first rally,” counter-protester Simon Granovsky-Larsen said.

“We found it really important to come out in large numbers to give a counter message that we support Muslim people,” he said.

“It sure warms the cockles of my heart to see so many people coming out and saying, ‘hey, we stand for you. We will protect you, and we want to make sure you understand we are for you and for peace and justice and fairness for everyone,’” counter-protester Zarqa Nawaz said.

Dozens of people advocating for the Muslim community outnumbered a handful of protesters worried about losing free speech. They circled around the smaller group and some heated arguments erupted.

M-103 isn’t a bill, so it won’t become a law. If it passes in April, a committee will study how to tackle religious discrimination in Canada. It won’t place any new restrictions on freedom of speech.

But many are still worried.

“I’m here to support women’s rights in Canada. And not just women’s rights, anybody who doesn’t want sharia law controlling their lives,” protester Laurie Donovan said.

“We’re not trying to impose sharia law … we’re peaceful, you know, we pay our taxes, we pay our mortgages, we go to work and we’re neighbours side by side,” Nawaz said.

Summerland under boil water notice [ all the way from Canada]

Thousands of south Okanagan residents can’t drink the water coming out of their taps this weekend. The community of Summerland is under a boil water notice as water system repairs are completed. However, the inconvenience was originally expected to be far worse.

Originally the District of Summerland thought it would have to shut off water entirely from Friday evening to Monday morning so the work could be done.

“That would have been more difficult especially for older people,” said resident Lili Karpan. “This is, I think probably, the best that they could have done. It is working really well so far.”

Instead, the district was able to supply water to most residents from alternative sources during the repairs. Only around 56 connections don’t have water.

A number of businesses are closed due to the water situation and some residents have made plans to be out of town during the water system repairs.

The mayor said the inconvenience is unfortunate, but the work needed to be done. Peter Waterman explained the district wanted to proactively fix the system instead of waiting for it to fail.

“It is far better to do large works like this under very controlled conditions than to have something happen that you are not controlling, to have valves break or whatever and you have to deal with a situation where you are not in control,” said Waterman.

The district is expecting the work to be completed Sunday afternoon. After that it will be another 4 to 10 days till the boil water notice is lifted.

Benghazi Defence Brigades claims seizing Libyan cities

Forces of eastern Libya's military strongman Khalifa Haftar conceded the loss of a key oil export port including Ras Lanuf [File: AFP]Forces of eastern Libya's military strongman Khalifa Haftar conceded the loss of a key oil export port including Ras Lanuf [File: AFP]
The Benghazi Defence Brigades says it has captured five cities and two major oil-producing areas in the east of Libya after opposing forces carried out air raids around major oil ports overnight, seeking to regain control of the area.

At least nine men were killed in the fighting on Friday as the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) and allied forces retreated from the oil ports of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, two of Libya's largest export terminals, following the attacks by the BDB.

The forces of eastern Libya's military strongman Khalifa Haftar conceded the loss on Saturday.

"The attackers were armed with modern tanks," spokesman for Haftar's forces, Colonel Ahmad al-Mismari, said.
"We lost two men. But the battle is ongoing. The situation in the Oil Crescent remains under control."

The assault raised the prospect of a new escalation of violence around the ports, and put at risk a sharp boost to Libya's oil production achieved after the LNA took over four ports in September, ending a blockade at three of them.

Though Es Sider and Ras Lanuf have been reopened for exports, they were badly damaged in past fighting and are operating well below capacity.

It was not clear to what extent the BDB had gained control over the ports, or whether operations at the terminals had been affected.

"Haftar claims to control most of the eastern part of Libya around Benghazi," Oliver Miles, former British ambassador to Libya, told Al Jazeera.

"But control is a loose word. He's been fighting for a long time to deal with them and it has taken a long time time to clear them up. He's repeatedly said they've dealt with the problem but they keep reuniting."

In response to the BDB advance, air raids were carried out in Ras Lanuf, Es Sidra, Ben Jawad and Harawa, Mismari added.

READ MORE: Amid Libya's chaos, human traffickers have free rein

A resident in Ras Lanuf said they heard fighter jets over the town at dawn on Saturday, followed by explosions.

Residents posted pictures of fires and damage to buildings apparently caused by the strikes.

Libya's oil production has recently been fluctuating around 700,000 barrels per day (bpd), more than double its output last year but still well under the 1.6 million bpd the OPEC member was producing before a 2011 uprising.

The Benghazi Defence Brigades are composed partly of fighters who were ousted from Benghazi by the LNA.

That battle is linked to a wider conflict between political and armed factions based in eastern and western Libya.

Happy Family

  Aisha Buhari the wife of Nigerian president with her younger brother and her son are looking bright and beautiful.