Article One: Thurnby Lodge Drama (via Leicester Mercury):
Leicester Mayor Peter Soulsby gives his decision in Thurnby Lodge scout hut row
By Ciaran Fagan
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby has resolved a bitter dispute over the future of a disused Scout hut.
Demonstrations – some involving hundreds of people and a heavy police presence – have been taking place in Thurnby Lodge, Leicester, for the past six months over plans by a Muslim charity to turn the hut into a community centre.
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby
But yesterday, Sir Peter announced a plan which appears to have satisfied both sides in the dispute. The protesters, who have formed a group called the Forgotten Estates Committee, will be given the lease on the Scout hut for two and a half years rent-free.
The group has told Leicester City Council it will develop it as a community centre.
The Muslim charity, the As-Salaam Trust, has been told it can have the lease to another city council-owned building, the Raven Centre, which is next to the Thurnby Lodge Community Centre, where the charity has been meeting for prayers for the past three years.
Sir Peter said a “small number” of groups which use the Raven Centre will transfer to Thurnby Lodge Community Centre, or other local council buildings.
Mohamed Lockhat, As-Salaam Trust’s imam, said: “We are happy a solution has been found. Some people have felt very passionately about the Scout hut, but everyone will be able to work together for the good of the community.”
Maxine Williams, licensee of the estate’s Stirrup Cup pub and a founding member of the Forgotten Estates Committee, said: “Everybody I have spoken to so far about Peter Soulsby’s decision has been ecstatic.
“When we first heard that As-Salaam wanted the Scout hut we knew it was the wrong place because of problems with traffic and noise.
“The Raven Centre is in the community centre complex, so car parking is available for As-Salaam’s members.”
The Forgotten Estates Committee has collected thousands of pounds for its plan to turn the Scout hut into a community centre.
It followed a public consultation in which questionnaires were sent to 7,000 households in Thurnby Lodge and neighbouring Netherhall.
Some 1,400 responses were returned to the council – a turnout of about 20 per cent.
Most backed the plan unveiled by Sir Peter yesterday, which was one of two options on the questionnaire.
“This option meets everyone’s needs, and I am therefore offering both groups the opportunity to make this happen,” said Sir Peter. “I think both groups recognise we have worked very hard with them to find a solution which meets everyone’s hopes and needs. Both recognise there is a need to move forward in a constructive way and I’ve been encouraged by the responses both have given.”
The protests began in August and were held outside Thurnby Lodge Community Centre when As-Salaam members met for prayers.
A police operation was launched to make sure the protests remained peaceful after complaints that worshippers felt intimidated.
Two months after the protests started, the Mercury reported the cost of policing them had reached £200,000.
The final total is unknown.
On Boxing Day, a pig’s head was found outside the centre.
A 23-year-old man has been charged in connection with the incident and is due to appear in court later this month.
Article Two: On Mahdi Hashi (via The Daily Mail):
Briton, 23, accused of working with terror group secretly quizzed by CIA for three months in African prison
- Mahdi Hashi, who vanished last summer in Somalia, turned up in a New York courtroom just before Christmas, charged with terrorism offences
PUBLISHED: 00:39, 6 January 2013 | UPDATED: 00:39, 6 January 2013
A British man controversially stripped of his citizenship last year by the Home Secretary has spent three months being interrogated by US agents in an African prison.
Mahdi Hashi, 23, from London, who vanished last summer in Somalia, turned up in a New York courtroom just before Christmas, charged with terrorism offences.
His sudden appearance in America five months after his family had reported him missing has prompted claims that he is the victim of international kidnap or ‘rendition’.
Now it has emerged that between August and the middle of November he was being questioned by teams of agents from the CIA and FBI while being held by the secret intelligence service of Djibouti, a small African state that borders Somalia.
The former care worker lost contact with his family while staying in Somalia last year. When they began looking for him, they were told by Foreign Office officials that the British Government could not provide assistance because the Home Secretary Theresa May had issued an order depriving him of his UK citizenship over allegations of Islamic extremism.
A few weeks later he was detained by Djibouti’s secret police, who it is claimed raided a house in which he was staying in the capital, Djibouti City.
A source close to the case said Mr Hashi was taken to the intelligence service headquarters, where he spent nearly four months before being sent to America for trial.
‘He was sojourning in Djibouti when he was picked up by Djibouti’s secret intelligence officers and thrown in a cell in solitary confinement,’ said the source.
‘Soon after he was visited and interrogated by FBI officers and then later by the CIA.’
The American interrogations were continuous and all the time the Djibouti security officers were present, said the source.
‘It was as if they were telling him that if he didn’t fully co-operate with the Americans, he would be left to the special interrogation skills of the Djiboutis,’ the source added.
On November 15, he was shackled and put on a plane for the US.
His case has been picked up by the US media as evidence of President Obama’s new rendition programme, where suspects who are deemed to pose a threat to the country are secretly held in African states allied to America.
Mr Hashi, who came to Britain from Somalia when he was five, is accused of working with the terrorist group al-Shabaab, which is at war with the government of Somalia. If convicted, he faces a life sentence.
His family deny that he has ever been involved in terrorist activities and say he was planning to return to London to complete his education.
He left Britain in 2009, firstly for Somalia where he married a local woman. He has a grandmother in Djibouti. Mr Hashi is now being held in solitary confinement in a top-security prison in New York.
Few more articles for your Sunday readings: