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Protests Over India’s Citizenship Law Continue After Violent Police Crackdown

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  • Massive protests have spread all over India after a controversial citizenship bill became law.
  • The law gives citizenship to religious minorities who illegally immigrated to India from specific countries but does not include Muslims. 
  • On Sunday, a peaceful protest at a primarily Muslim university became violent when police forcefully entered the campus, beating students with wooden sticks and firing tear gas.
  • Protests continued across India Monday, with large demonstrations being held in solidarity with university students who were attacked by police the day before.

Controversial Citizenship Bill Prompts Protests

Huge protests have continued to spread all over India after the country’s government approved a controversial citizenship bill last week.

The legislation, known as Citizenship Amendment Bill, provides a path to citizenship for religious minorities who illegally immigrated to India from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.

The legislation names six religions that would be eligible for citizenship but does not include Muslims.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other supporters of the bill have said it will protect persecuted religious minorities who migrate to India from predominantly Muslim countries.

Opponents of the bill have said that it is just a very targeted plan by Modi and his Hindu nationalist party, the BJP, to discriminate against the nearly 200 million Muslims in India who compose about 15% of the country’s population.

Many have argued that it would make it easier for the government to jail and deport Muslim residents in India.

This could include those whose families have lived in the country for years or even generations but might not have proof of citizenship, which in turn could leave millions of Muslims in India stateless.

Other critics of the legislation, including legal scholars, have said that it would violate India’s constitution because India is a secular country, and its constitution says that all religions must be treated equally.

Protests Grow

Last Monday, India’s lower house of Parliament passed the bill, prompting a number of small, but largely peaceful, protests.

Those protests, however, have grown dramatically in the last week after the upper house of Parliament passed the bill Wednesday. The next day, India’s president approved the bill, officially making it a law.

Following the approval of the legislation, demonstrations erupted in several northeastern cities where the law could potentially have the biggest impact on immigration.

The Indian government responded by shutting down the internet and deploying troops in several areas in the region. Since then, the protests have continued, growing and spreading to major cities and other areas all over India. 

At the same time, police significantly ratcheting up the use of violence against the protestors.

According to reports, police said Sunday that at least six people were killed and more than a hundred were injured in protests in the northeastern state of Assam.

Police Attack Student Protestors at Muslim-Majority University

Also on Sunday, hundreds were injured when a protest turned violent at Jamia Millia Islamia, a primarily Muslim university in New Delhi.

According to reports, students organized a large demonstration that many witnesses said started out peacefully. 

The protest escalated when police stormed the campus after nearby busses and vehicles were set on fire. University authorities said the students did not burn the vehicles. 

Videos circulated on social media showing officers beating students with wooden sticks and firing tear gas at them. Police also could be seen chasing students into the library and bathrooms, where they reportedly continued to beat them.

The police allegedly fired tear gas into the library and other enclosed areas like classrooms and reportedly attacked a mosque where some students were praying

One widely circulated video showed a man who tried to escape police by running into a women’s hostel being dragged out and beat by the police forces.

In the video, a group of female students can be seen trying to fight off the police who continue to hit the man and poke at the women with wooden poles, even after the man had been beaten to the ground.

Officials at nearby hospitals said that more than 100 people were brought in after the violence, and it has been reported that nearly 100 students were detained.

University officials condemned police, saying that they had entered the campus by force and without permission. The university’s vice-chancellor also told reporters that they would be filing a court case against the police.

But Delhi police have defended their actions, claiming they responded to violence started by the students.

Police also reportedly used similar tactics on Sunday at Aligarh Muslim University, another primarily Muslim college, where dozens of officers forcefully entered the campus and attacked students with batons and tear gas.

Response

Despite the violence the day before, protests continued in India Monday, with large demonstrations being held in a number of major cities in solidarity with the university students who were attacked by the police.

As the protests continued, Modi took to Twitter to call for calm.

“Violent protests on the Citizenship Amendment Act are unfortunate and deeply distressing,” he wrote. “Debate, discussion and dissent are essential parts of democracy but, never has damage to public property and disturbance of normal life been a part of our ethos.”

Modi also argued that the citizenship law “illustrates India’s centuries old culture of acceptance, harmony, compassion and brotherhood,” and described the protestors as “vested interest groups” who were trying “to divide us and create disturbance.”

On the other side, Amnesty International India issued a statement urging the Indian government to “respect the right to dissent” by the students, and also investigate the allegations of police brutality.

“Students have the right to protest. Violence against peacefully protesting students cannot under any circumstance be justified,” the statement said. “Allegations that the police brutally beat up and sexually harassed students in Jamia Millia Islamia University must be investigated.”

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Al Jazeera) (BBC)

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5 Dead, 2 Injured After Bow and Arrow Attack in Norway

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Police have called the incident a terror attack, though exact details regarding the suspect’s motives remain unclear.


Super Market Attack

The Norwegian town of Kongsberg is reeling from a deadly incident at Coop Extra supermarket on Wednesday that police are treating as “an act of terrorism.”

Shortly before 6 p.m., a 37-year old Danish man entered the market, armed with a bow and arrow, along with other weapons. He then began firing at those inside the building.

Authorities quickly responded and were on the scene within five minutes. Despite a police confrontation with the suspect, the attack continued. Four women and one man were ultimately killed while two others were left injured.

The suspect initially avoided arrest after managing to flee the scene. Police Chief Ole Bredrup Sæverud told reporters Thursday that it took 35 minutes to catch the attacker.

Unclear Motives

While police described the incident as a terror attack, they refused to specify a motive. Officials did hint that the rampage might have been religiously motivated by revealing that police had previously been in contact with the suspect due to his conversion to Islam and possible connections to radical content and teachings. Still, Sæverud clarified that the perpetrator hadn’t been actively investigated at all in 2021.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who was just hours away from leaving office after she was ousted in recent elections, described reports of the scene as “horrifying” on Wednesday. Incoming Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said in a Facebook post from Thursday morning that the attack was a “cruel and brutal act.”

Norway’s King Harald expressed his sympathies to the mayor of Kongs-berg, telling the country, “We sympathize with the relatives and injured in the grief and despair.” 

And we think of all those affected in Kongs-berg who have experienced that their safe local environment suddenly became a dangerous place. It shakes us all when horrible things happen near us, when you least expect it, in the middle of everyday life on the open street.”

Attacks of this nature are rare in Norway. In 2019, a right-wing gunman tried to enter a mosque before being overpowered and hitting no one. Wednesday’s attack is the most deadly since July 2011, when a far-right extremist killed 77 people at a Labour party summer camp.

Editor’s Note: At Rogue Rocket, we make it a point to not include the names and pictures of mass murderers or suspected mass murderers who may have been seeking attention or infamy. Therefore, we will not be linking to other sources, as they may contain these details.

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Protests Erupt in Italy Over World’s Toughest Vaccine Mandate

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The violence is believed to have been instigated by far-right groups that oppose COVID-19 vaccines and other pandemic-related safety measures.


Green Pass Pushback

Demonstrators gathered in Rome over the weekend to protest against Italy’s plans to require a coronavirus “Green Pass” for all workers starting Oct. 15.

The Green Pass is a European Union initiative that shows whether someone is vaccinated, has recovered from COVID-19 in the past six months, or has received a negative COVID test in the past 48 hours.

Since August, Italy has required the pass for entry at restaurants and use of long-distance trains, along with nearly every other activity that involves interaction with others or use of a public space. Now, the pass will be required to enter a workplace, which critics argue is particularly harsh.

Individuals who can’t produce a valid Green Pass will be suspended without pay, making it the most extreme of any COVID-19 mandate in the world.

The weekend protests started out peaceful, with people chanting “Liberta,” which means freedom. However, the scene turned violent by Saturday when a group of protesters affiliated with the far-right Forza Nuova party decided to storm the headquarters of the CGIL, Italy’s biggest and oldest labor union.

Protesters then marched towards the Prime Minister’s office, prompting police to respond with anti-riot measures like tear gas, water cannons, and shield charges.

It’s unclear how many protesters were hurt in the ongoing fighting, but dozen of police officers were reportedly hurt in the scuffle. By Sunday evening. at least 12 protesters were arrested, many of who are members of Forza Nuova, including its leader Roberto Fiore. Authorities also indicated in a press conference on Monday that it had identified at least 600 other people who took part in illegal activities during the demonstrations.

Fiore was unapologetic about the rioting, and Forza Nuova said in a statement, “The popular revolution will not stop, with or without us, until the Green Pass is definitively withdrawn. Saturday was a watershed between the old and the new. The people decided to raise the level of the clash.”

Fascist Banning

Saturday’s events have led many of the country’s largest political parties, including the 5Star Movement and the Democratic Paty, to support a motion calling for Nuova Forza and similar groups to be dismantled in line with a constitutional provision from 1952 that bans fascists parties.

While that motion is still going through the legislative process, prosecutors have already seized the group’s website in line with a 1988 law that bans inciting violence through public communications.

The events [on Saturday] take us back to the darkest and most dramatic moments of our history and they are an extremely serious and unacceptable attack on democracy,” Valeria Fedeli, a senator with the center-left Democratic Party, said on Monday.

The violence from the weekend may make it seem like a sizeable chunk of Italians are against the vaccine; however, over 70% of all Italians are already vaccinated, making it one of the highest rates in the world.

According to polling from the summer, most Italians think the new rules will help in the long run and prevent another catastrophe like last year when the country ran out of room to bury the dead due to the number of deaths caused by COVID-19.

See what others are saying: (CBS News) (NPR) (Politico)

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Romanian Government To Disband After No-Confidence Vote

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The vote comes after Prime Minister Florin Cîțu caused a rift with political allies and faced criticism for his response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Florin Cîțu, Alleged “Tyrant”

Romania’s center-right governing body collapsed Tuesday after the legislature passed a no-confidence vote against Prime Minister Florin Cîțu.

The leader’s downfall was facilitated by the normal opposition, the center-left Social Democratic Party, the far-right Alliance for the Unity of Romanians, and the Union to Save Romania. The Union is considered a political wildcard because, until last month, the right-wing party was part of Cîțu’s governing coalition.

The party withdrew from Cîțu’s government after multiple of its members were sacked, including the Justice Minister, prompting the party to describe Cîțu as a “tyrant.”

Other parties in the legislature particularly opposed Cîțu due to his government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic since taking office in December. COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed over the last month and have averages over 11,000 daily new cases since October 6.

Tuesday’s no-confidence vote was a landslide victory, with 281 members voting to replace him and all members of his party abstaining or boycotting the vote. Despite this, even if they had voted in favor of Cîțu, the opposition had more than enough to pass the 230 vote threshold.

Avoiding Another Election

President Klaus Iohannis, a staunch ally of Cîțu, has called on the political parties to hold consultations next week and try to form a new government rather than hold new elections because they last occurred in December.

“Romania must be governed; we are in a pandemic, winter is coming, there is an energy price crisis…and now a political crisis. We need solutions and mature decisions,” the president told reporters.

He also took a jab at the Union to Save Romania, saying that the fall of the government was caused by “cynical politicians, some of whom are disguised as reformists.”

The Union responded in a statement of its own, saying it was “unpleasantly surprised by the fact that President Iohannis condoned the rushed, chaotic, and ill-conceived actions of former Prime Minister Florin Cîțu that forced the [Union] to leave the cabinet.”

Some analysts within Romanian media think that Cîțu’s party may try to form a minority government with the Social Democratic Party, the left-leaning party that initiated this no-confidence vote, with the caveat that Cîțu is replaced as Prime Minister. If that doesn’t occur, Iohannis has the power to simply reappoint Cîțu at the risk of another no-confidence vote.

If Cîțu’s appointment is confirmed within 60 days, then elections will take place. The Social Democratic Party, which is already the largest in the legislature, currently stands to win the most seats. Unlike its rivals, the party is polling positively, leading the group to push for new elections sooner rather than later.

See what others are saying: (Reuters) (DW) (Al Jazeera)

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