Pope, at Cairo Mass, urges unity against fanaticism

Pope Francis warned against religious fanaticism on Saturday, wrapping up a brief trip to Cairo where he urged Muslim leaders to unite against violence by Islamic militants threatening to rid the Middle East of its ancient Christian communities.

Francis’ trip comes three weeks after Islamic State killed at least 45 people in attacks on two Egyptian churches. He has used the visit to launch a strong appeal for religious freedom and to accuse extremists of distorting the nature of God.

After a dense first day of meetings with political and religious leaders, the highlight on Saturday was a Mass in the Air Defence Stadium, where Vatican officials said 15,000 people gathered, among them Coptic bishops and senior Anglican figures.

Crowds arrived early, waving Egyptian and Vatican flags and braving intense security measures to welcome Francis, who toured the sun-drenched stadium in a golf buggy to the sound of hymns performed by a choir and orchestra.

He blessed Egypt as one of the earliest nations to embrace Christianity and repeated his plea for tolerance.

“True faith leads us to protect the rights of others with the same zeal and enthusiasm with which we defend our own,” he told the crowd in the heavily guarded arena.

“The only fanaticism believers can have is that of charity. Any other fanaticism does not come from God and is not pleasing to him,” he said in his homily.

In a series of speeches during his two-day stay, the pope has delivered his bluntest denunciations yet against religious violence, and has appeared to endorse Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s campaign against Islamist militants.

However, he nuanced his message by lamenting the rise of “demagogic forms of populism” — a possible reference to right-wing nationalist parties in Europe pushing anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim agendas.

He also defended human rights — which non-governmental organisations have accused Sisi’s administration of abusing.

“History does not forgive those who preach justice, but then practise injustice,” he said in a speech on Friday, sharing the stage with Sisi, who warmly applauded his words.


The unusual choice of venue for Saturday’s religious service highlights the security concerns surrounding the trip.

Helicopter gunships circled the perimeter of the stadium and armoured military vehicles patrolled the streets of the Egyptian capital on Saturday. Police in white uniforms were positioned every few metres (yards) on a Nile bridge that the pope crossed.

The 80-year-old pope himself declined the use of an armoured limousine, preferring instead to travel in an ordinary Fiat car with its window wound down so he could be closer to onlookers.

“The visit really supports national unity and shows that there is no fear but a fear of God,” said Ehab Moheiy, 54, who attended the Mass. “Despite the bombings, the pope came and a celebration like this took place.”

Francis had lunch with Egyptian bishops and later led prayers at a Catholic seminary in the south of Cairo, the final step of his 27-hour stay.

The visit was the first by Francis to Cairo but the second by a Catholic pope. Pope John Paul II came to Egypt in 2000, a year before the September 11 attacks on the United States that convulsed Western relations with the Muslim world.

“His two days in Egypt have turned Egypt into a paradise,” Father Panteleimon, a priest from the north of the country, said enthusiastically after the open-air Mass. “Today is a celebration, today is a festival. Egypt is happy.”

Egypt’s Christians comprise 10 percent of the 92 million population, the largest Christian community in the Middle East. Most Egyptian Christians are Coptic Orthodox, while barely 200,000 are members of Churches within the Roman Catholic fold.

While Egypt has escaped the sort of sectarian violence that has decimated ancient Christian communities in Syria and Iraq, it is under threat from Islamic State militants who launched a campaign in December to wipe out Egypt’s Christians, carrying out three church attacks that have killed more than 70 people.

The campaign presents a challenge for Sisi, who has vowed to crush Islamist extremist and is fighting a long-running insurgency in North Sinai, where Islamic State murders have forced hundreds of Copts to flee.

Sisi, who declared a three-month state of emergency after the Palm Sunday church attacks, appealed for more international cooperation to combat terrorism when he met Francis on Friday.

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Categories: Catholicism, Copts, Egypt, Fanaticism, Islamism, News, Pope Francis, Vatican

Liberty GB and Timothy Martin Burton – Now in Jail

Today, after nearly 4 years of harassment from Liberty GB activist Timothy Martin Burton from the West Midlands, I have got justice. It has not been easy and our courts let this man off in 2014, suggesting that his actions were protected as free speech. The courts and the prosecution failed to highlight the extensive network of far right activists who were associated with Timothy Martin Burton at that time in 2014. This despite the fact that I provided all of the details, including online maps of links to far right extremists linked to Burton.

Timothy Martin Burton used a number of aliases online to hide and evade identification. Neither the Metropolitan Police Service or the West Midlands Police Service could find him. I did and it took time, effort and investigation networks to locate, identify and map this man’s online connections. This whole process meant that I had to find, locate, explain and provide all of the information to law enforcement.

Timothy Martin Burton, a bankruptee and anti-Muslim hater who tried to make something of his life by targeting me is now finally in jail. His actions were so well organised and so determined, that it took all of my ability, co-ordination skills and knowledge to bring this sad man to justice. I was not going to let him get away with maligning my identity as a Muslim and for making my life hell with his circle of anti-Muslim haters.

The Judge today made clear the following to Timothy Martin Burton:

“Your extreme antipathy towards Muslims is what led you to harass Mr Mughal.

“You are seemingly incapable of distinguishing between Muslims and violent Islamists. Your offending behaviour was obviously motivated by a religious hostility and aggravated the harassment.

“You were at the time, [though you have] apparently now resigned, a member of a group Liberty GB which promotes antipathy based on religious adherence.

“It was pre-meditated, it was determined, it was deeply unpleasant, and it was part of a campaign by you and your associates to tar all Muslims as Islamists.”

The Judge’s remarks are also a damning indictment of the anti-Muslim and far right group Liberty GB.

Finally, I would like to praise the work of the Crown Prosecution Service and the meticulous and robust manner in which they dealt with the case. CPS staff were professional, driven to get a prosecution based on the evidence and able to identify evidence that showed the systematic manner in which Timothy Martin Burton targeted me. I would also like to thank Metropolitan Police officers who acted with dignity, professionalism and care. If I have one thing else to say it is this. I urge anyone targeted because of hatred, intolerance and prejudice to report it to the police or to third party hate crime agencies like Tell MAMA or the Community Security Trust.

We cannot allow the haters to divide us in our country.

Categories: Far Right groups, hate crime, MyBlog, Opinions

Saudi Arabia’s Death Sentence on Ahmad Al-Shabri is State Sponsored Murder

Have you ever heard of the country that the United Kingdom is friendly with and where we overlook their human rights record?

Or have you heard about the country that sentences a man to death for blasphemy? No, we have not been watching the ‘Life of Brian’ recently and this is very real.

Saudi Arabia has rejected appeals by the lawyers of Saudi national, Ahmad Al Shamri, who was initially arrested on charges of atheism and blasphemy, before he was convicted by a local court and sentenced to death in Febraury 2015.

The defence of Mr Al Shamri relied on an insanity plea and they advocated that he was on drugs and alcohol at the time of the postings. Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia is on the verge of executing a man who abused religion and faith. His crime – blasphemy!

Saudi’s Make a Laughing Stock of Faith

This case again highlights how detached the State of Saudi Arabia has become from the rest of the world and from the fact that Islam has always talked about moderation, even with those who don’t believe. This means that life is sacrosanct in Islam and whether people question or leave Islam, their lives and the protection of their lives are still within the responsibility of the State and which Islam protects. The interpretation of Islam by the Wahabbi led Government is precisely the problem that has tainted Islam whose founding principles were based on co-existence and debate and negotiation and not on murdering people as the Saudi state now sees fit to undertake.

If Saudi murders this man, and that is what it will be, just remember this. Our country, the United Kingdom, will be round there touting for business – or – we can make clear that we don’t do business with murderers who are so scared of people challenging faith, that they need to murder them. We say, Islam is strong enough and with enough of a history of debate and dissent, meaning that those who leave and question it should be engaged with, rather than murdered. If we cannot value human life – every human life – than what is the point of faith?

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Categories: Ahmad Al Shamri, Blasphemy, killing, Opinions, Saudi Arabia

French intelligence says Assad forces carried out sarin attack

French intelligence has concluded that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad carried out a sarin nerve gas attack on April 4 in northern Syria and that Assad or members of his inner circle ordered the strike, a declassified report showed.

The chemical weapons attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun killed scores of people, according to a war monitor, Syrian opposition groups and Western countries. It prompted the United States to launch a cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base, its first deliberate assault on the Assad government in the six-year-old conflict.

Assad has said in two media interviews since April 4 that the evidence of a poison gas attack was false and denied his government had ever used chemical weapons.

The six-page French document – drawn up by France’s military and foreign intelligence services and seen by Reuters – said it reached its conclusion based on samples they had obtained from the impact strike on the ground and a blood sample from a victim.

“We know, from a certain source, that the process of fabrication of the samples taken is typical of the method developed in Syrian laboratories,” Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters after presenting the findings to the cabinet.

“This method is the signature of the regime and it is what enables us to establish the responsibility of the attack. We know because we kept samples from previous attacks that we were able to use for comparison.”

Among the elements found in the samples were hexamine, a hallmark of sarin produced by the Syrian government, according to the report.

It said the findings matched the results of samples obtained by French intelligence, including an unexploded grenade, from an attack in Saraqib on April 29, 2013, which Western powers have accused the Assad government of carrying out.

“This production process is developed by Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) for the regime,” the report said.

The United States on Monday blacklisted 271 employees belonging to the agency.

Syria agreed in September 2013 to destroy its entire chemical weapons programme under a deal negotiated with the United States and Russia after hundreds of people were killed in a sarin gas attack in the outskirts of the capital, Damascus.

The report said that based on its assessments, there were “serious doubts on the accuracy, completeness and sincerity of the dismantlement of Syria’s chemical arsenal.”


The report, which lists some 140 suspected chemical attacks in Syria since 2012, also said intelligence services were aware of a Syrian government Sukhoi 22 warplane that had struck six times on Khan Sheikhoun on April 4 and that samples taken from the ground were consistent with an airborne projectile that had munitions loaded with sarin.

“The French intelligence services consider that only Bashar al-Assad and some of his most influential entourage can give the order to use chemical weapons,” the report said.

It added that jihadist groups in the area in Idlib province did not have the capacity to develop and launch such an attack and that Islamic State was not in the region.

Assad’s assertion that the attack was fabricated was “not credible” given the mass flows of casualties in a short space of time arriving in Syrian and Turkish hospitals as well as the sheer quantity of social media posts and video showing people with neurotoxic symptoms, said the report.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said on April 19 that sarin or a similar banned toxin was used in the Khan Sheikhoun attack, but it is not mandated to assign blame.

Russia, which backs Assad in the conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions, has said the gas was released by an air strike on a poison gas storage depot controlled by rebels.

“The Kremlin thinks as before that the only way to restore the truth of what happened in Idlib is impartial international investigation. We regret that OPCW restrains so far from such an investigation,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters when asked about the French report.

A senior French diplomatic source said Paris had passed the report on to its partners and would continue to push for a probe.

Moscow was attempting to discredit the OPCW, the source said: “There is a propaganda effort by Russia to say that the OPCW’s work is not credible.”

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Categories: Assad, Bashar Al Assad, French intelligence forces, News, Northern Syria, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Sarin

Stand Up! Education Against Discrimination

Stand Up! Education Against Discrimination’ is a DCLG funded interfaith programme managed by Streetwise and supported by Tell MAMA. Stand Up! aims to empower young people in mainstream schools to learn about and act against discrimination, racism, antisemitism and anti-Muslim hate, whilst developing their social responsibility in the community.

Since its launch in January 2017, Stand Up! has delivered sessions to over 1000 young people in 15 schools, enhancing their understanding and empowering students to become active citizens. The support Tell Mama provides is invaluable, students have benefitted vastly from its resources, video materials and insightful research on the effects of hate crime incidents on young Muslim people.

This interfaith partnership has flourished in the opening months, receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback from students, who have been drawn into the workshops regardless of their religious identity and beliefs. Building an open and resilient society, which promotes respecting the differences between human beings, can only be achieved through education. The feedback students provide Stand Up! allows the project to fulfil their questions and queries as well as improve the sessions.

Whilst Stand Up! provides a specific, unique take on tackling discrimination, the focus on antisemitism and anti-Muslim hate does not restrict its relevance for students of different or no religious beliefs; a student said, “I am not Jewish or Muslim but I know where to report now”. Reporting is fundamental to our work; the Stand Up! project educates young people on the importance of reporting to Tell Mama any form of anti-Muslim hate [and other types of hate crime to other partners in the project], they are a victim of or witness to.

Through social media, school students are increasingly exposed to online hate and discrimination; representations of the Muslim community are often derogatory and harmful, thus it is vital to ensure young people are able to question what they see and experience online. The Stand Up! project discusses these issues in a wide context: “They [Stand Up!’ facilitators] really brought the class together and discuss sensitive topic in a sensible way”.

Tell Mama’s support of the Stand Up! project will have both short term and long term benefits; in the short term, young people are learning about discrimination and the importance of reporting. In the long term, the aim is to build a society which challenges stereotypes, raising awareness and guiding young people on embracing our British values and becoming Upstanders in society.

Stand Up! sessions are delivered free of charge, to any year 9, 10 or 11 in secondary schools across the country. For more information about the project and to book a session please email info@standupeducation.org

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Categories: News

Muslim man finds bacon on his car door handle in public car park

Cambridgeshire Police are investigating an anti-Muslim hate crime after a piece of bacon was left on the handle of a Muslim man’s car over the weekend.

The man was returning from a local swimming pool with his six-year-old niece when he discovered the pork product. After reporting the incident to police, our support service was also made aware.

He expressed his surprise that the perpetrator had not targeted the driver’s door, suggesting that the act was premeditated as nothing would outwardly suggest that the car owner was Muslim.

The sunshine also meant that the bacon slice had cooked, leaving a small streak of fat along the door. This was soon removed, but not before photographic evidence of the vandalism was taken.

Pork products are, sadly, used to target Muslims online and offline. On Facebook, memes related to bacon helps to drive the unhelpful phenomena of ‘likebaiting,’ a broad tactic that appeals to the emotional responses of an audience to generate ‘likes’ or shares.

In anti-Muslim circles, however, it serves to recycle the false notion that the sensibilities of all Muslims are offended by the slightest reference to pork.

Bacon has been used by the far-right to target mosques and their congregations in Bristol, London, and Edinburgh in recent years.

The death of Kevin Crehan, who plead guilty to tying bacon slices to the handles of a mosque in Bristol, is open to speculation, despite the ‘non-suspicious’ nature of his death.

Dozens of far-right protesters gathered in Bristol last month to protest Mr. Crehan’s imprisonment.

Some Muslims reporting to our service have found pork products outside of their homes or in food items.

In November 2016, two Polish men were jailed after throwing bacon strips at worshippers at the Al-Rahman Mosque in North London.

Britain First, the far-right party, once declared that burying a pig on the grounds of a mosque could prevent its construction. This idea continues to endure in similar ideological spaces.

Online hate messages sometimes reference pork. In one example, a nationalist account report to our service had tweeted: “They [Muslims] should only be allowed to breathe if they agree to eat bacon, then after they do it, shoot them anyway.” This is an extreme example, but the softer rhetoric has landed some in the courts. A Twitter troll was fined £450 for posting racist, sectarian, homophobic, antisemitic and anti-Muslim messages. One tweet read: “No surrender ya Muslim scum. See you in court. I’ve got the bacon sandwich and yer six-year-old wife.”

In 2015, a Facebook post lamenting the placement of pork products in a supermarket halal aisle went viral, but speculation remains about its origin. A fake far-right Twitter user attempted to reuse this image in 2017.

A hoax anthrax letter attached to pork meat was placed on a car near an Edinburgh mosque last year.

In February, a Scottish man was given a community order after telling his stepfather to “go eat some bacon” in a racist Facebook rant after learning of his intent to convert to Islam.

Some Muslims have responded with humour or reminded others that pork is not ‘kryptonite’ to Muslims.





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Categories: bacon, hate crime, News, pork

Hollande urges French to reject Le Pen in presidential run-off vote

France’s outgoing president, Francois Hollande, on Monday urged people to back centrist Emmanuel Macron in a vote to choose his successor next month and reject far-right leader Marine Le Pen, whose place in the run-off represented a “risk” for France.

Macron and Le Pen, leader of the National Front (FN), go head-to-head on May 7 after taking the top two places in Sunday’s first round.

Opinion polls indicate that the business-friendly Macron, who has never held elected office, will take at least 61 percent of the vote against Le Pen after two defeated rivals pledged to back him to thwart her eurosceptic, anti-immigrant platform.

Hollande, a Socialist nearing the end of five years of unpopular rule, threw his weight behind his former economy minister in a televised address, saying Le Pen’s policies were divisive and stigmatised sections of the population.

“The presence of the far right in the second round is a risk for the country,” he said. “What is at stake is France’s make-up, its unity, its membership of Europe and its place in the world.”

Global markets reacted with relief to Sunday’s vote, which broke the dominance of established parties of the centre-left and centre-right but still left the most market-friendly and internationally minded of the remaining contenders in pole position to become France’s next leader.

Surveys pointing to a clear Macron victory soothed investors who have been unnerved by Le Pen’s pledges to ditch the euro, print money and possibly quit the EU. Many had feared another anti-establishment shock to follow Britain’s “Brexit” vote and Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president.

A combination picture shows portraits of the candidates who will run in the second round in the 2017 French presidential election, Emmanuel Macron (L), head of the political movement En Marche !, or Onwards !, and Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann


Le Pen said late on Monday she was taking “a leave of absence” from leading the FN to focus on campaigning, in a move that appeared to be a mere formality that changes nothing in her campaign platform.

She told France 2 television: “I will feel more free and above all, above party politics, which I think is important.”

Le Pen has said for months she is not, strictly speaking, an FN candidate but a candidate backed by the FN. She has long distanced herself from her maverick father Jean-Marie, the former FN leader, and in the election campaign has put neither her party’s name nor its trademark flame logo on her posters.

Opening the battle for second-round votes, Le Pen highlighted the continuing threat of Islamist militancy, which has claimed more than 230 lives in France since 2015, saying the 39-year-old Macron was “to say the least, weak” on the issue.

She also said she wanted to talk to sovereignist Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, who won nearly five percent of the first-round vote and has not said which side he would take in the next.

“His platform is extremely close to ours. Patriots should come together to fight those who promote unbridled globalisation,” she said.

Le Pen has promised to suspend the EU’s open-border agreement on France’s frontiers and expel foreigners who are on the watch lists of intelligence services.

Macron’s internal security programme calls for 10,000 more police officers, and 15,000 new prison places, and he has recruited a number of security experts to his entourage.

However, opinion polls over the course of the campaign have consistently found voters were more concerned about the economy and the trustworthiness of politicians.

Le Pen’s campaign took aim on Monday at what they see as further weak spots: Macron’s previous job as an investment banker and his role as a deregulating economy minister under Hollande.

Analysts say Le Pen’s best chance of overhauling Macron’s lead in the polls is to paint him as a part of an elite aloof from ordinary French people and their problems.

“Emmanuel is not a patriot. He sold off national companies. He criticised French culture,” Florian Philippot, deputy leader of Le Pen’s National Front, told BFM TV.

Philippot called Macron “arrogant” and said his victory speech on Sunday had shown disdain for the French people by making it appear as though the presidency was already won.

In that speech, Macron appeared to respond to Le Pen’s claim to be the protector of France’s workers and their values by saying: “I want to be the president of patriots in the face of a threat from nationalists.”

Le Pen needs to avoid a repetition of 2002, when her father, FN founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, surprisingly made the second round, but was then humiliated by right-wing president Jacques Chirac as mainstream parties united to block a party they considered racist and anti-Semitic.

His daughter has done much to soften the FN’s image, gathering support especially among young people – a quarter of whom are unemployed – with her promises to push back against “rampant globalisation”.


Still, two defeated candidates – conservative Francois Fillon and Socialist Benoit Hamon – did not even wait for Sunday’s count to urge their supporters to rally behind Macron, who took 23.74 percent of votes on Sunday to Le Pen’s 21.53.

A Harris survey saw Macron going on to win the run-off against her by 64 percent to 36. An Ipsos/Sopra Steria poll gave a similar result while a new poll by Opinionway on Monday put the margin at 61 percent to 39 percent.

Whichever candidate wins on May 7 will need to try to build a majority six weeks later in a parliament where the FN has only two seats and Macron’s year-old En Marche! (Onwards!) movement has none.

Macron has already enlisted some 50 sitting Socialist lawmakers to his cause, as well as a number of centrist party grandees.

Manuel Valls, a former Socialist prime minister on the right wing of the party who broke with the far-left Hamon’s campaign after failing to beat him for the party ticket, said on Monday he would be ready to work with Macron.

“We must help him (Macron) as much as we can to ensure Le Pen is kept as low as possible,” Valls told France Inter radio.

Sunday’s outcome was a huge defeat for the two centre-right and centre-left groupings that have dominated French politics for 60 years.

Conservative Francois Fillon, who had been the favourite to win the election before allegations emerged that he had paid his wife and two children from the public purse for work they did not do, came third with less than 20 percent. He said on Monday that he would not be at the forefront of his party’s parliamentary campaign.

Hamon got only a third of the 19.5 percent secured by the maverick former Trotskyist Jean-Luc Melenchon, emphasising the disarray of the French Left after five years of Hollande.

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Categories: Brexit, Far Right groups, FN, France, Francois Hollande, Front Nationale, Le Pen, Macron, News, Presidency

94-year old Holocaust survivor shares his memories with Israel’s next generations

Pedestrians and traffic in downtown Jerusalem, and across Israel, stood still Monday morning (April 24) as a two minute siren wailed to commemorate victims of the Holocaust.

A day earlier, survivor Zwi Nigal shared his experiences during World War Two with a few dozen people who gathered in an apartment in central Israel on Sunday (April 23), the eve of the country’s annual Remembrance Day for the six million Jews killed by the Nazis.

Sitting on bean bags and a sofa, they listened to Nigal’s account as part of a nationwide project called “Memories in the Living Room”.

Similar remembrance gatherings were held in 13,000 other homes in Israel, where survivors shared their stories. Ayelet Goldin Vaknin, who hosted the gathering with Nigal in her living room, said such events could be the last chance “to meet in person with people who have been there and who have experienced personally the Holocaust”.

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Categories: Commemoration, Holocaust, Israel, Jerusalem, News, Shoah

Fernando Sulichin

Fernando Sulichin is an acclaimed film producer and philanthropist. Over the course of his career he has collaborated with Oliver Stone, Marlon Brando, Sean Penn, and Gabriel García Marquez.

His first production was screened at the Paris film festival Short Circuit. Shortly afterwards Sulichin collaborated with Spike Lee, the acclaimed African American director, as the associate producer of Malcolm X.

Sulichin went on to produce a number of acclaimed independent films including: Bully (2001) directed by Larry Clark; Sundance Prize Winner Love Liza (2003) directed by Todd Louiso; and Spun (2003) directed by Jona Akerlund.

Sulichin served as executive producer on several of Oliver Stone’s films including Alexander (2004), the Savages (2012), and the much anticipated September 2016 political thriller Snowden. His production credits for 2016 also include Jim Jarmusch’s documentary on Iggy and the Stooges, Gimme Danger, which premiered in Cannes.

He has also worked with Stone on numerous documentaries including: Persona non Grata (2003) about the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East; Comandante (2003); Looking for Fidel (2004); South of the Border (2009); the 2013 series The Untold History of the United States (2013); and My Friend Hugo (2014).

In 2004 Fernando Sulichin founded Paris-based Central Films which produced: Mary by Abel Ferrara, staring Juliette Binoche and winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival; Babel by Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu; and I Come With The Rain by Tran Ang Hung.

In the United States Sulichin worked with Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation, an organisation that works to preserve films for future generations.

Throughout his career, Sulichin has been committed to philanthropic endeavors. In 2015, before the COP21 meeting in Paris, Sulichin worked with the French government and environmental leaders to engage the media and build public awareness about greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. A historic climate agreement was reached in December at the COP21 meeting in Paris. The same year Sulichin received the National Order of the Legion of Honour of France from the government, the most prestigious award in France.

An early supporter of Sean Penn’s JP/HRO, in 2016 Sulichin joined Sean Penn, former president of Facebook Sean Parker and the government of France to launch a critical reforestation project.

Sulichin has also worked with The David Lynch Foundation, an institution dedicated to the promotion of conscience and world peace. He is a lifetime member of the Nelson Mandela Children´s Fund, a humanitarian organisation dedicated to the promotion of education in South Africa.

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Categories: Patrons

France’s Macron appears set for Elysee in runoff with Le Pen

Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen are set to face each other in a May 7 runoff for the French presidency after coming first and second in Sunday’s first round of voting, according to multiple projections.

Though Macron, 39, is a comparative political novice who has never held elected office, opinion polls in the run-up to the ballot have consistently seen him easily winning the final clash against the 48-year-old Le Pen.

Sunday’s outcome spells disaster for the two mainstream groupings that have dominated French politics for 60 years, and also reduces the prospect of an anti-establishment shock on the scale of Britain’s vote last June to quit the EU and the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president.

The euro currency was quoted higher immediately after the first projections were issued, with banks quoting around $1.092 versus $1.072 on Friday evening, according to Reuters data.

In a race that was too close to call up to the last minute, Macron, a pro-European Union ex-banker and economy minister who founded his own party only a year ago, was projected to get 24 percent of the first-round vote by the pollster Harris, and 23.7 percent by Elabe.

Le Pen, leader of the anti-immigration and anti-EU National Front, was given 22 percent by both institutes. At least three further pollsters all projected broadly similar results.

Macron’s supporters, gathered at a Paris conference centre burst into singing the national anthem, the Marseillaise, a few seconds after results came through. Many were under 25, reflecting some of the appeal of a man aiming to become France’s youngest head of state since Napoleon.

Le Pen, who is herself bidding to make history as France’s first female president, follows in the footsteps of her father, who founded the National Front and reached the second round of the presidential election in 2002.

Jean-Marie Le Pen was ultimately crushed when voters from right and left rallied around the conservative Jacques Chirac in order to keep out a party whose far-right, anti-immigrant views they considered unpalatably xenophobic.

His daughter has done much to soften her party’s image, and found widespread support among young voters by pitching herself as an anti-establishment defender of French workers and French interests.

Supporters of Emmanuel Macron, head of the political movement En Marche !, or Onwards !, and candidate for the 2017 French presidential election, react at the Parc des Expositions hall in Paris after early results in the first round of 2017 French presidential election, France, April 23, 2017.


“The great issue in this election is the rampant globalisation that is putting our civilisation at risk,” she declared in her first word after results came through.

Nevertheless, Le Pen seems destined to suffer a similar fate to her father.

Defeated Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon, Socialist Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and defeated right-wing candidate Francois Fillon all urged voters to rally behind Macron in the second round.

Harris gave both Fillon, badly damaged by allegations that his wife had been paid from the public purse for work she did not do, and far-left contender Jean-Luc Melenchon 20 percent in the first round.

“This defeat is mine and it is for me and me alone to bear it,” Fillon told a news conference, adding that he would now vote for Macron.

The result will mean a face-off between politicians with radically contrasting economic visions for a country whose economy lags that of its neighbours and where a quarter of young people are unemployed.

Macron favours gradual deregulation measures that will be welcomed by global financial markets, as well as cuts in state expenditure and the civil service. Le Pen wants to print money to finance expanded welfare payments and tax cuts, ditch the euro currency and possibly pull out of the EU.

Whatever the outcome on May 7, it will mean a redrawing of France’s political landscape, which has been dominated for 60 years by mainstream groupings from the centre-left and centre-right, both of whose candidates faded.

Macron ally Gerard Collomb said the defeat of the mainstream centre-left Socialists and the centre-right Republicans showed a “deep malaise” in French society.

The final outcome on May 7 will influence France’s standing in Europe and the world as a nuclear-armed, veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council and founding member of the organisation that transformed itself into the European Union.

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Categories: Benoit Hamon, Emmanuel Macron, Francois Fillon, French Presidency, Marine Le Pen, News