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Airlines to fly US travel ban passengers

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Air France and Qatar Airways say they are allowing nationals targeted by a US travel ban to board flights to America, after a federal judge suspended the controversial move.

On Friday Seattle judge James Robart ruled that President Donald Trump’s ban on travellers from seven mainly Muslim nations last week was unconstitutional.

The administration, which says the order is designed to protect the US, is expected to appeal against the ruling.

The ban has caused confusion and anger.

Its implementation was halted with immediate effect by Friday’s ruling in Seattle.

Customs officials told airlines that they could resume boarding banned travellers. Within hours, Qatar Airways said it would do so, followed by Air France.

“Nationals from the countries concerned are being authorised to fly once again to the United States, providing their papers and visas are in order,” Air France spokesman Herve Erschler said.

Among those expected to travel soon is an Iranian infant with a heart defect who had been due to undergo life-saving surgery in the US.

The family of four-month-old Fatemeh Reshad flew her to Dubai last week to get a visa to enter the US, but this was denied under Mr Trump’s ban.

The girl will now be allowed into the country and doctors have pledged to treat her for free, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said late on Friday.

Representative Suzanne Bonamici raised the case of the Iranian gild in the US Congress, 3 February

However it is unclear how many people concerned by the ban will decide to fly to the US.

Marwa al-Naal, a US citizen working in Syria and married to a Syrian man eligible for residency in the US, told the BBC that they were afraid to return because it was not clear whether her husband would be allowed in.

“A lot of people did advise me to go travel yesterday [on Friday] back to Boston. I did not take that flight because there was still the risk of facing detention,” she said

24 Hours Across Africa

Ten and thousands of Hong Kong protesters flood city streets in largest rally in weeks

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Source: AFP- A sea of democracy activists flooded the streets of Hong Kong Sunday in a defiant show to the city’s leaders that their movement still pulls wide public support, despite mounting violence and increasingly stark warnings from Beijing.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters carrying umbrellas poured across the heart of Hong Kong island defying torrential rain and a police order not to march from a park where they had gathered earlier for a rally.

Weeks of demonstrations have plunged the financial hub into crisis, with images of masked black-clad protesters engulfed by tear gas during street battles against riot police stunning a city once renowned for its stability.

Sunday’s action, which organisers the Civil Human Rights Front said drew more than 1.7 million in the largest rally in weeks, was billed as a return to the “peaceful” origins of the leaderless protest movement.


“It’s been a long day and we’re very tired, but to see so many people out in the rain marching for Hong Kong gives strength to everyone,” said Danny Tam, a 28-year-old graphic designer.

The unprecedented political crisis was sparked by opposition to a plan to allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland.

But protests have since morphed into a wider call for democratic rights in the semi-autonomous city.

Anger has been sharpened among protesters by the perceived heavy-handedness of the police who have used tear gas, baton charges and rubber bullets in incidents that have pinballed across social media.

“The police are doing things that are totally unacceptable,” said Yim, who like many of the protesters gave only one name.

“They are hurting citizens, they aren’t protecting us.”

AFP / Manan VATSYAYANATorrential rain failed to dampen the enthusiasm of protesters in Hong Kong

Communist Party-ruled mainland China has taken an increasingly hardline tone towards the protesters, decrying the “terrorist-like” actions of a violent hardcore minority among the demonstrators.

Despite the near-nightly clashes with police, the movement has won few concessions from Beijing or the city’s unelected leadership.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Hong Kong Activities face crucial weekend test after airport setback

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Source: AFP- Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement faces a major test this weekend as it tries to muster another huge crowd following criticism over a recent violent airport protest and as concerns mount over Beijing’s next move.

Ten weeks of protests have plunged the international finance hub into crisis with the communist mainland taking an increasingly hardline tone, including labelling the more violent protester actions “terrorist-like”.

Chinese state media have put out images of military personnel and armoured personnel carriers across the border in Shenzhen, while the United States has warned Beijing against sending in troops, a move many analysts say would be a reputational and economic disaster for China.

The nationalistic Global Times newspaper said there would not be a repeat of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, in which hundreds — or even thousands — are believed to have been killed, if Beijing moves to quash the protests.

“The incident in Hong Kong won’t be a repeat of the June 4th political incident in 1989,” it said, insisting the country now had more sophisticated approaches.

It was a rare reference to the bloody events, which are taboo in China.

Hong Kong’s protests were sparked by opposition to a plan to allow extraditions to the mainland, but have since morphed into a wider call for democratic rights in the semi-autonomous city.

Millions of people have hit the streets while clashes have broken out between police and small groups of hardcore protesters for 10 consecutive weekends.

For most of that time, US President Donald Trump has taken a hands-off approach to the unrest but began speaking up this week, suggesting any potential trade deal with Beijing could be upended by a violent response from the mainland.

Speaking on Thursday, Trump urged his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to meet protesters and solve the crisis “humanely”.

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