- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 15, 2003

CZECH REPUBLIC

Voters approve EU membership

PRAGUE — Czechs voted overwhelmingly to join the European Union in a referendum, according to early official results released yesterday.

With 88 percent of the votes counted, 77 percent of the voters affirmed the measure, according to the state Statistical Office, which handles the vote count. Turnout was 55 percent.

The vote opens the way for the former communist nation to be part of the largest expansion in the union’s history, which will add 10 members to the 15-nation union.

“This is a victory for the Czech people,” Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla, an enthusiastic EU supporter, told reporters shortly after polls closed.

“The Czech Republic will … be part of a family of European nations and exercise its right to live on equal footing with others,” he added, alluding to fears that Czechs would sacrifice sovereignty by joining the growing trade bloc.

ITALY

Imam suspended for preaching war

ROME — The main mosque in Rome suspended its imam after he delivered a sermon praising Palestinian fighters and calling for the destruction of Islam’s enemies, officials said yesterday.

The decision by the mosque’s administrators to remove Abdel-Samie Mahmoud Ibrahim Moussa capped a week of debate about the sermon, delivered during Friday prayers June 6 and published, in part, by the Rome daily La Repubblica a day later.

“Allah, destroy the houses of the enemies of Islam. Allah, help us crush the enemies of Islam. Allah ensure the victory of the nation of Islam.” La Repubblica quoted Mr. Moussa as saying in Arabic.

SPAIN

Muslim Frenchmen arrested by police

ALGECIRAS, Spain — Spanish police said Saturday that they had arrested a French national of Moroccan origin on suspicions of Islamic extremist activity and ties to the Casablanca, Morocco, suicide bombings last month.

Morocco has issued an international arrest warrant for the man, whom Spanish news agency Europa Press identified as Abdelaziz Benyaich.

He was apparently traveling through Algeciras, the main Spanish port used for maritime travel to northern Morocco.

Ninety-one persons have been arrested in Morocco in connection with the May 16 bombings in Casablanca, which killed 43 persons, including 12 suicide bombers.

Weekly notes …

As Prince William nears his 21st birthday, the British press is getting hungrier for any tidbit about him, the second in line to the throne. British newspapers recently have been awash with stories about him, ending a self-imposed embargo on reporting on his private life since the death of his mother, Princess Diana. A Russian fringe party that has seen two of its founding members fatally shot in the past 10 months reinstated exiled financier and Kremlin foe Boris Berezovsky as a leading member yesterday, news media reported. Mr. Berezovsky has opted to live permanently in Britain rather than face fraud charges in Russia.

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