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Musings From Abroad

Teacher facing death penalty in Egypt granted asylum

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A New Jersey teacher who was sentenced to death in Egypt for his pro-democracy activism was given a new lease on life this week.

Ahmed Abdelbasit was finally granted asylum in the US on Tuesday more than two years after he applied, according to the Huffington Post.

The Egyptian educator fled to New Jersey in 2016 and was later sentenced to death in absentia that very same year by a military court.

The international advocacy group, Human Rights Watch, told HuffPost that his punishment was “completely baseless” — and the evidence against him was “almost nonexistent.”

Abdelbasit would later get arrested and detained in April 2018 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement while waiting for his asylum application to go through. He had been on his way to Rising Star Academy in Union City, the school where he taught.

On Tuesday, immigration Judge Daniel Morris granted his release — and ICE refused to appeal.

“I told myself a lot of times, I need to get out. I need to get out for my students,” Abdelbasit said just an hour after he was let out.

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“I’m just very happy because my life now is safe.”

After his release, Abdelbasit made his way over to Rising Star — where he got showered with cheers from his family, friends and students.

“It’s a really happy moment and very relieving,” incoming senior Mariam Siam, 17, told HuffPost.

“I’m just very proud of the efforts of community,” she said.

Abdelbasit’s lawyer, Anwen Hughes, believes his client’s case ultimately showed “the importance of due process.”

Musings From Abroad

RSF to join as US invites Sudan’s warring parties for talks

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US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, announced Tuesday that the Sudanese army and Rapid Support Forces will participate in U.S.-mediated peace talks in Switzerland on Aug. 14.

RSF head Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo said early Wednesday they will constructively participate in discussions to achieve “a comprehensive ceasefire across the country and facilitate humanitarian access to all those in need.”

“We reaffirm our firm stance … which is the insistence on saving lives, stopping the fighting, and paving the way for a peaceful, negotiated political solution that restores the country to civilian rule and the path of democratic transition,” Dagalo said in a statement.

Blinken announced that the African Union, Egypt, UAE, and UN will observe the negotiations. Saudi Arabia will co-host the talks, he said.

“The scale of death, suffering, and destruction in Sudan is devastating. This senseless conflict must end,” Blinken said, calling on the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to attend the talks and approach them constructively.

South Sudan’s economy is struggling due to intercommunal warfare. The 2013–2018 civil war reduced crude oil export revenue, and the Sudanese conflict has disrupted exports.

International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports that the RSF’s southeast expansion recently displaced about 150,000 people from Sennar state. Following RSF raids on residences and markets in the state’s small towns and villages, many of these people were rehoused again.

The April 2023 Sudanese war has displaced almost 10 million people, caused famine warnings, and started ethnically-driven violence blamed on the RSF. Last year, US-Saudi Arabia-sponsored army-RSF talks in Jeddah collapsed.

On Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Matthew Miller told reporters that the meetings in Switzerland were meant to build on Jeddah and go forward.

“We just want to get the parties back to the table, and what we determined is that bringing the parties, the three host nations and the observers together is the best shot that we have right now at getting the nationwide cessation of violence,” Miller said.

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Musings From Abroad

UK Conservatives planned 10 billion pounds for Rwanda migrant scheme, official reveals

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Britain’s new interior minister has accused the Conservative administration of hiding the cost of an abandoned proposal to deport thousands of asylum seekers to Rwanda, which was estimated to cost 10 billion pounds ($13 billion).

After winning a comfortable election this month, Prime Minister Keir Starmer’s new government ended the plan. Home Secretary Yvette Cooper told parliament that taxpayers had spent 700 million pounds on charter flights that never took off, Rwandan government payments, and public workers’ hours.

Two weeks after becoming home secretary, she evaluated the “policies, programmes and legislation that we have inherited”. She declared, “It is the most shocking waste of taxpayers’ money I have ever seen.”

For many Britons, leaving the EU in 2016 meant reclaiming control of Britain’s borders and curbing immigration, but reports suggest the issue persists. Already this year, 6,265 persons have been found, about 25% more than last year.

Former PM Boris Johnson approved the plan in April 2022. Illegal immigrants to Britain after January 1, 2022, are sent to Rwanda, 4,000 miles (6,400 km).

The former Conservative government declared in 2022 that it would send undocumented asylum seekers to Rwanda. In 2022, the Conservative administration declared it would send undocumented asylum seekers to Rwanda.

However, legal issues stopped anyone from being transferred to East Africa except for four voluntary migrants.

In March, Parliament’s budget inspector estimated that deporting 300 migrants to Rwanda would cost at least 600 million pounds, a small fraction of the 15,000 asylum seekers who have arrived on England’s southern coast this year.

Former Conservative home secretary James Cleverly accused Cooper of using “made-up numbers” in parliament without evidence or alternative costings.

Cooper also said that tens of thousands of asylum seekers at risk of deportation will have their petitions processed.

She added the government would also lift an Illegal Migration Act ban on asylum for illegal immigrants since March 2018.

Instead, the administration promised to halt asylum seekers’ pricey hotel stays and clear the claims backlog.

Cooper believed the reforms would save taxpayers 7 billion pounds over 10 years.

The election campaign focused on stopping French asylum seekers from crossing the Channel.

The former Conservative administration said this proposal would eliminate human traffickers, but detractors called it immoral and unworkable.

After the UK Supreme Court ruled last November that Rwanda was not a safe third country, the government passed another bill to overturn the ruling.

 

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