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Guinness Pulls Out of New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade

Guinness Pulls Out of New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade

The Fire Department of New York's bagpipers will still be marching in this year's parade, but Guinness, Sam Adams and Heineken will not be participating.

Guinness has announced this morning that it will be pulling its sponsorship of the 253rd St. Paddy’s Day Parade in New York City, due to the rule set by the Ancient Order of Hibernians that does not allow LGBT groups or organizations to march in the parade.

“Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all,” Guinness said in a statement. “We were hopeful that the policy of exclusion would be reversed for this year’s parade. As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation. We will continue to work with community leaders to ensure that future parades have an inclusionary policy.”

Guinness is not alone in protesting this exclusionary policy. Heineken and Sam Adams beer companies also announced earlier last week that they are withdrawing from the parade. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio also announced that he will not be marching in the parade, the first mayor in decades to do so, in protest of the outdated rule. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh also did not march in his city’s parade on Sunday in protest.

The Ancient Order of the Hibernians has announced that the LGBT community are welcome to march, but cannot distinguish themselves in any way.

Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @JoannaFantozzi


New York Cardinal Dolan welcomes gay activist participation in St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Steve Jalsevac / LifeSiteNews.com By Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

History is repeating itself in New York but with very different outcomes. Back in 1993 large sponsors threatened to pull out of the St. Patrick&rsquos Day parade if homosexual activists were not permitted to march with their banners. Then Cardinal John O&rsquoConnor would not permit it. But today, amidst the same threats, Cardinal Timothy Dolan has acquiesced.

Homosexual activist group [email protected] is scheduled to march in the world&rsquos largest St. Patrick&rsquos Day parade next March 17 with a banner identifying itself, according to a September 3 statement shared by parade organizers with LifeSiteNews.

Members of [email protected] march in New York City's 2014 Gay Pride parade. SOURCE: [email protected]'s Facebook page

Cardinal Dolan was officially named the 2015 parade&rsquos grand marshal at a reception at the New York Athletic Club later the same day.

&ldquoI have no trouble with the decision at all,&rdquo Cardinal Dolan said at an evening news conference announcing his appointment as grand marshal. &ldquoI think the decision is a wise one.&rdquo

The Archdiocese did not respond to LifeSiteNews&rsquo request for comment on the parade committee&rsquos decision and Cardinal Dolan&rsquos choice to remain grand marshal of the parade.

However the archdiocese published a statement by Cardinal Dolan September 3 on its website:

The Saint Patrick&rsquos Day Parade Committee continues to have my confidence and support. Neither my predecessors as Archbishop of New York nor I have ever determined who would or would not march in this parade (or any of the other parades that march along Fifth Avenue, for that matter), but have always appreciated the cooperation of parade organizers in keeping the parade close to its Catholic heritage. My predecessors and I have always left decisions on who would march to the organizers of the individual parades. As I do each year, I look forward to celebrating Mass in honor of Saint Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, and the Patron Saint of this Archdiocese, to begin the feast, and pray that the parade would continue to be a source of unity for all of us.

Cardinal O&rsquoConnor, when confronted during the 1993 parade by homosexual activists holding a sit-in, said, according to the New York Times, that he &ldquocould never even be perceived as compromising Catholic teaching&rdquo by allowing them to march under a homosexual banner.

The Times reported: &ldquoThe Hibernians and Cardinal O'Connor have said there is no place for a gay contingent in the parade because it is a Catholic event and the church teaches that homosexual acts are sinful.&rdquo

At his Mass on St. Patrick&rsquos Day that year, the cardinal said, &ldquoNeither respectability nor political correctness is worth one comma in the Apostles&rsquo Creed.&rdquo

Reaction to Cardinal Dolan&rsquos decision has come from many lay Catholics concerned for the faith and also for the confusing message being conveyed.

National Catholic Register columnist Pat Archbold called the decision and the cardinal&rsquos participation an endorsement of the gay identity.

&ldquoIt is a shameful and sinful capitulation by the parade organizers and Cardinal Dolan,&rdquo Archbold wrote.

&ldquoIf a parade that is meant to honor a great saint is being used to promote a sinful agenda, it should be cancelled rather than allow it to be used in such a way,&rdquo he said. &ldquoIt is one thing for a parade committee to fold under pressure, but it is quite another that the Cardinal Archbishop of New York would be asked to lend his name and office to the parade. Such an action can be viewed in no other way than total capitulation to gay identity groups.&rdquo

Philip Lawler, director of Catholic Culture and editor for Catholic World News, called for the Archdiocese of New York to sever ties with the St. Patrick&rsquos Day Parade.

&ldquoYou don&rsquot honor a saint by encouraging a sin,&rdquo Lawler said in his column. &ldquoIf this really is a Catholic event, it cannot include a group defined by its opposition to Church teaching. If it is a Catholic event, forget Guinness, forget NBC, forget the hoopla, and quietly honor St. Patrick.&rdquo

Similar criticisms of Cardinal Dolan errupted in March of this year when he offered public congratulations to college football player Michael Sam after his announcement that he is homosexual.

Asked about Sam&rsquos decision, Dolan said: &ldquoGood for him. I would have no sense of judgment on him. God bless &lsquoya. The same Bible that teaches about the virtues of chastity and the virtue of fidelity and marriage also tells us not to judge people,&rdquo he added. &ldquoSo I would say, &lsquoBravo.'&rdquo

The Archdiocese of New York told LifeSiteNews at the time that this did not mean the cardinal was unconcerned about Church teaching on homosexuality.

The Catholic Church officially teaches that homosexual acts are gravely sinful and that such sins endanger a person&rsquos eternal life.

Homosexual activists first tried to march with banners positively identifying homosexuality in 1990. Over the years they have staged protests claiming the parade is not inclusive. Most recently, in 2014, New York Mayor Bill De Blasio boycotted the event, and sponsors Guinness and Heineken withdrew as parade sponsors.

Parade organizers are reported to have been pressured by employees of NBCUniversal, which broadcasts the parade, to show it is more inclusive.

The committee says the decision to allow the homosexual group from NBC was an effort to address the issue and move forward. &ldquoThis change of tone and expanded inclusiveness is a gesture of goodwill to the LGBT community in our continuing effort to keep the parade above politics as it moves into its 253rd year, all the while remaining loyal to church teachings and the principles that have guided the parade committee for so many decades,&rdquo it said.


We invite everyone across the world to join us and be part of the celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day in New York City, as we honor the representatives for all the brave men and women who have done so much for so many during the pandemic and 9/11.

On March 17th the Parade leaders will join a select number of First Responders and Essential Workers (listed below)
to offer a prayer for all the victims of the pandemic and the “Twin Towers” to mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11 for the live stream event.


Timeline of the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade’s LGBT controversy

Throughout the course of its nearly 260-year history, the parade has been no stranger to controversy. Previous points of tension included the selection of Noraid head Mike Flannery as Grand Marshal in 1983, which led the Irish government to withdraw its support that year, and Dorothy Hayden Cudahy’s four-year campaign to become the parade’s first female grand marshal, which she finally did in 1989.

Read more

But the most enduring conflict has been between the parade’s organizing committee and members of New York City’s LGBT Irish community, who since 1991 have sought to march in the parade under their own banner.

The furor came to a peak last year when the newly-elected Mayor Bill de Blasio decided to boycott the parade – the first mayor to do so since David Dinkins – and Guinness, a main sponsor, withdrew its support once it was evident no compromise would be reached in time for the 2014 parade.

In 2015, IrishCentral broke the news that the parade would include an LGBT group from NBCUniversal, the parade’s official broadcaster.

The following is a timeline of key moments:

1990: One hundred and thirty-five members of New York’s Irish Gay and Lesbian Organization (IGLO) ask to march in the upcoming 1991 St. Patrick’s Day parade. The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), which at that point still ran the NYC parade, denied their request, saying they were already fielding applications from 39 other organizations, in addition to facing pressure from the city to scale back the parade’s size and duration.

1991: Mayor David N. Dinkins negotiates with the AOH. Following uproar from the city’s LGBT community over the IGLO’s exclusion, Mayor Dinkins’ office entered conversations with the AOH. Offers on the table up to one week before St. Patrick’s Day included extending the parade to allow all 40 of the organizations with pending applications to march, an offer the AOH declined, citing the parade’s strict rules that only signs identifying a marching group’s county, city or fraternal association, or signs that read “England Get Out of Ireland” are allowed.

A compromise is reached two days before the parade. Division 7, the mid-town Manhattan chapter of the NY-AOH, agreed to let the 135 IGLO members march with their contingent. The deciding factor was Mayor Dinkins’ offer to accompany them himself, forgoing the position traditionally reserved for the mayor at the head of the procession. In addition, a group of wheelchair-bound children who had been excluded from the parade were invited to join a marching contingent of the New York State Police, accompanied by Governor Mario Cuomo.

Mayor Dinkins and the IGLO marchers are booed and doused with beer. In an experience the mayor likened to “marching in Birmingham, Alabama” during the Civil Rights movement, he and the IGLO contingent that joined AOH Division 7 were booed and jeered as the parade traveled up Fifth Avenue. Two beer cans were thrown into the parade, narrowly missing the mayor. “I knew there would be deep emotions, but I did not anticipate the cowards in the crowd,” he told the New York Times. “Every time I heard a boo, it strengthened my resolve – it convinced me that this was the right thing to do,” Dinkins said in a TV interview the same day.

1992: The AOH bans IGLO from marching in the 1992 parade. Citing “outrageous behavior and conduct” from IGLO in the 1991 parade, the AOH refused to allow IGLO to march the following year. This was despite a move by Mayor Dinkins to ensure IGLO’s spot in the parade by placing the New York State chapter of the AOH in charge, ousting the Manhattan chapter. Members of IGLO denied the charges of lewd behavior, saying, “The outrageous behavior was on the part of those spectators who chose to harass our contingent with abusive jeers of 'AIDS! AIDS! AIDS!' and anti-gay epithets."

Mayor Dinkins boycotts the 1992 parade. His boycott marked the first time a New York mayor had skipped the parade since 1923.

The New York City Human Rights Commission mandates that IGLO will have to be included in the 1993 parade. The ruling, reached in October, was based on the argument that the parade is a secular celebration. The AOH maintained that the parade is a private, religious celebration.

1993: New York City awards parade permit to a newly formed St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, comprised of more liberal Irish American New Yorkers and supporters of Mayor Dinkins. The move was a blow to the AOH, which had run the New York parade for 150 years.

The AOH, United Irish County Associations, Emerald Societies, and various Catholic organizations threaten to boycott the parade in response, awakening fears that the parade would be canceled entirely.

Federal Judge rules the AOH can ban LBGT marchers. Slightly less than a month before the 1993 parade, Judge Kevin Thomas Duffy of Federal District Court in Manhattan ruled that the NYC Human Rights Commission’s mandate was “patently unconstitutional” and in violation of the AOH’s free speech rights.

The parade goes ahead, without an LGBT contingent.

Quietly, the AOH transfers control of the parade to an independent committee chaired by John T. Dunleavy, a former NYC transit dispatcher from Co. Westmeath. Dunleavy, now 75, has been chairman of the parade committee for the past 19 years.

1995: US Supreme Court rules on Hurley v. Irish American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston. On June 19, the Supreme Court decided unanimously that private citizens and organizations holding a public event have the constitutional right to exclude participants whose messages they disagree with. The ruling overturned a 1994 decision by Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court, which had held that the Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade, beset for years a by conflict similar to the one in New York, could not discriminate based on sexual orientation.

The Supreme Court’s decision meant that the parade committees in Boston and New York were legally entitled to ban LGBT groups from marching under as their own contingents. Despite this, Irish LGBT groups including IGLO and Lavender Green continue to hold annual protests.

2000: St. Pat’s For All, a new St. Patrick’s Day Parade billed as an all-inclusive alternative to the Fifth Avenue parade, is held for the first time in Queens. Its theme, "cherishing all the children of the nation equally," is taken from the 1916 Easter Proclamation of the Irish Republic. Marching in both parades becomes a way for city and state officials to appeal to both groups.

2006: Christine Quinn, newly elected as Speaker of the New York City Council, announces she will boycott the parade after failing to reach a compromise with the committee that would allow her to represent both her Irish American and gay pride. Quinn’s request to wear a pride pin or sash while marching was denied.

Read more

In the surrounding media furor, John Dunleavy sparks outrage with comments comparing LGBT activists to neo-Nazis and the KKK. "If an Israeli group wants to march in New York, do you allow neo-Nazis into their parade? If African-Americans are marching in Harlem, do they have to let the Ku Klux Klan into their parade?" he asked in an interview with the Irish Times.

2010: President Mary McAleese declines the parade committee’s invitation to serve as Grand Marshal. The committee’s hopes to see the then president of Ireland lead the parade’s landmark 250th anniversary were dashed, and the ban on gay groups was widely believed to be the reason. McAleee, a devout Catholic, also supported Irish LGBT causes.

Bestselling Irish American crime writer Mary Higgins Clark led the 2011 parade instead.

2014: Mayor Bill de Blasio announces he will boycott the 2014 St. Patrick’s Day parade. “I simply disagree with the organizers of that parade in their exclusion of some individuals in this city,” said de Blasio in February, just over one month after taking office. He was the first mayor since Dinkins to do so.

Instead, de Blasio, joined by members of the City Council also boycotting the Fifth Avenue parade, marched with the St. Pat’s for All celebration.

In Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh, a proud Irish American, decides to skip the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade. “If the gay community is not allowed to march, I’m not marching in the parade,” he said.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny defends his decision to attend the New York parade, saying it’s about “our Irishness and not about our sexuality.”

Guinness withdraws sponsorship from the NY St. Patrick’s Day Parade. One day before St. Patrick’s Day, and on the heels of similar announcements from Heineken and from Sam Adams regarding the Boston parade, the iconic Irish brewing company announced that it would withdraw its support and participation.“Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all. We were hopeful that the policy of exclusion would be reversed for this year’s parade. As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation. We will continue to work with community leaders to ensure that future parades have an inclusionary policy,” a statement read.

The parade went ahead the following day, with the historic addition of marchers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). LGBT activists protested along the parade route, with one group, Irish Queers, threatening a new lawsuit. Viewership of the parade’s live broadcast on NBC dropped sharply, with only 213,200 tuning in.

2015: A groundbreaking shift took place, with the news that an LGBT group from NBCUniversal would be marching in the 2015 parade.

2018: The controversy moves to Staten Island, where the parade organizing committee has banned an Irish LGBT group from marching in the St. Patrick's Day parade there. The parade organizing committee also announced that LGBT groups would not be able to march in the 2020 parade before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The brewer is returning to the parade because the LGBT affinity group [email protected] will be allowed to march in the parade under its own banner. NBC is the network airing the parade.

Still, some gay rights groups say that doesn't go far enough.

"Until all are welcome -- especially LGBT Irish groups, who have worked for decades to bring fairness to Fifth Avenue -- parade organizers must be held accountable to ending this ban once and for all," the LGBT rights group GLAAD said in a statement issued Monday.

But Guinness owner Diageo ( DEO ) says the move is enough for the beer brand to return to sponsoring the March 17 parade.

"While there is still work to be done, we are pleased that the parade organizers have taken steps to allow the LGBT community to be represented," said Diageo in a statement. "The parade is an important way for Guinness to support the Irish community, and we look forward to celebrating with millions of New Yorkers."

A Diageo spokeswoman said the company had no comment about the fact that other groups are still protesting the parade's policies.

GLAAD had considered organizing a boycott of Guinness last year, before the brewer announced it would drop its parade sponsorship.

But the group has no plans for a boycott this year said Seth Adam, the group's communications director.

An official with Irish Queers, which has pushed to open up the parade to gay groups, said it is disappointed but not surprised by Guinness' decision to resume it's sponsorship.

"They weren't that committed to the issue in the first place, and they took the first opportunity to get back with the parade," said Emmaia Gelman of the group.


St. Patrick’s Day in New York, a Year Later

The lack of a parade has compounded the hardship faced by Midtown’s bars and restaurants. “Normally we would do about a month’s worth of business just on St. Patrick’s Day,” said Sean Reilly, who owns Sean’s Bar and Kitchen in Midtown.


Guinness Pulls Out of New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade - Recipes

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St. Patrick's Day to Be Largely Virtual in NYC for 2nd Year

A largely virtual St. Patrick's Day was planned for New York City on Wednesday, one year after the annual parade celebrating Irish heritage was canceled because of the pandemic.

Although the city's usual huge parade with floats and marching bands was canceled, Mayor Bill de Blasio joined parade leaders and several dozen National Guard troops in marching up Madison Avenue early Wednesday morning to keep the tradition alive.

A live broadcast of the St. Patrick’s Day Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral took place. A virtual parade featuring clips of marching groups from past years was to follow at 10 a.m., according to the parade organizers' website, and an hourlong show streaming on Facebook at 11 a.m. included performances by singers Andy Cooney and Moya Brennan.

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Multitudes of people usually line Fifth Avenue for New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, which traces its roots to the 1760s.

The city was just starting to shut down to halt the spread of the coronavirus on St. Patrick’s Day 2020, and de Blasio waited until days before the parade to cancel it. A small group marched in the rain before 7 a.m.

St. Patrick's Day is also usually big business for the city's taverns and restaurants, and a major date on the calendar for tourism.


Guinness Drops Sponsorship Of New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade Over Gay Participant Stance

Producers of the famous Irish dry stout Guinness say they are dropping their sponsorship of New York's St. Patrick's Day parade in light of the event's controversial stance on openly gay participants.

Representatives for GLAAD confirmed the news in an email to The Huffington Post, which included the following statement from a Guinness spokesperson:

Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all. We were hopeful that the policy of exclusion would be reversed for this year’s parade. As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation. We will continue to work with community leaders to ensure that future parades have an inclusionary policy.

Prior to the announcement, Stonewall Inn and other New York gay bars had been planning to boycott sales of Guinness over its sponsorship of the parade, according to Towleroad.

The company now follows in the footsteps of Heineken and Boston Beers (producers of the popular Sam Adams brand) to cite lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in their decision to sever funding of a St. Patrick's Day event.

On March 14, Boston Beer issued a statement through MassEquality, the organization pushing for the inclusion of gay veteran groups in Boston's St. Patrick's Day parade. A portion of that statement told consumers that Boston Beer previously remained hopeful that “both sides of this issue would be able to come to an agreement that would allow everyone, regardless of orientation, to participate in the parade. But given the current status of the negotiations, we realize this may not be possible.”

Heineken followed suit a day later by yanking its support of New York's St. Patrick's Day parade. "We believe in equality for all," a company representative is quoted by Reuters as saying. "We are no longer a sponsor of Monday's parade."

According to Reuters, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh opted out of his city's St. Patrick's Day parade, claiming it was part of his overall effort to "to ensure that all Bostonians are free to participate fully in the civic life of our city." Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio opted to join Queens' gay-friendly "St. Pat's For All" Parade, saying that parade celebrates inclusion, in lieu of Manhattan's, the Associated Press reported.

Still, the controversy has not been without its critics. Although they were quick to specify that they "don't have a problem with gay people," the owners of Boston's Cornerstone Pub said they were cutting off Sam Adams after the Boston Beer announcement because they felt it was a blow to U.S. veterans who value the company's monetary support of the annual parade.

Although LGBT participants are permitted in both Boston and New York's St. Patrick's Day parades, they are prohibited from carrying signs or banners identifying themselves as such.


Most Read

The surprising move by Guinness was music to the ears of the gay and lesbian advocacy group GLAAD.

"Today, Guinness sent a strong message to its customers and employees: Discrimination should never be celebrated," said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD CEO and president.

The move by Guinness came just three days after GLAAD officials reached out to parade sponsors in an attempt to persuade them not to participate in the country's oldest St. Paddy's Day parade.

"These businesses are sending a clear message that New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade needs to be inclusive to all New Yorkers," said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

The Stonewall Inn, the birthplace of gay rights movement, had planned to stop selling Guinness on Monday in protest of the brewers' participation in the parade. But Sunday night, owners of the Greenwich Village watering hole said Guinness will indeed be flowing from its taps on Monday and beyond.


PHOTOS: St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City

New York City hosted its annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, bringing together hundreds of thousands of marchers in one of the largest American celebrations of Irish heritage.

The six-hour procession of green-clad marchers up Fifth Avenue, past St. Patrick’s Cathedral, is one of the city’s oldest events.

The 258th edition of New York City’s parade was expected to draw more than 1 million spectators to watch 200,000 spirited marchers, including more than 100 bands. (AP)

See more photos below:

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REUTERSMOSCOW—Alexander Lukashenko, the authoritarian president of Belarus, has ordered arrests of key opponents for decades. But even after a brutal and bloody crackdown on opposition protests last year, his decision on Sunday to force an airliner to land so a prominent activist and reporter could be arrested appalled his domestic critics and European leaders alike.A Belarusian MIG-29 military jet forced a Ryanair passenger plane heading from Athens to Vilnius to land in Minsk airport, where police arrested one of the passengers, a skinny young man. A bomb alert was the official reason for diverting the plane, but nobody in Belarusian opposition had doubts about the real reason behind the special operation: the arrest passenger of 26-year old activist and journalist, Roman Protasevich, the founder of a popular NEXTA Telegram channel read by more than four million people.Months of extreme pressure on Belarusian journalists intensified last week with raids on the office of a well-known news website Tut.by, violent interrogations, and the arrests of eight other editors and journalists in Minsk. Authorities are accusing Protasevich of organizing the opposition rallies in 2020, as well as of “inciting social enmity.” Protasevich is facing up to 12 years in prison but his colleagues are worried about his life.Abduction of the Woman Leading the Belarus Revolution Is Classic KGB ‘Terror’ PloyThe journalist’s close friend, human rights defender Ayona Maslyukova, broke into tears when she heard the news of the arrest in the airport. “They are going to torture him, beat him – I have seen many victims with bruised legs and lower backs, some were raped in jail,” Maslyukova told The Daily Beast, sobbing.Maslyukova and her colleagues at the Minsk based human right center Vesna have been monitoring thousands of arrests and human rights violations since the opposition riots erupted in Belarus last August. But the arrest of Protasevich broke her heart. “I have known him as the most professional, honest and devoted reporter since 2014. Now he might face many years in prison or even a death penalty, which is just terror. The world should pay attention to this horror,” Maslyukova added.Before his flight, Protasevich had noticed a strange passenger with a leather case next to him in line at the passport control in the airport in Athens on Sunday morning. The stranger tried to photograph Protasevich’s passport then turned around and left. The journalist described what happened in his Belarus Golovnogo Mozga blog, the second largest Telegram channel in the country.“The fact that the military dictator Lukashenko ordered to land a Ryanair passenger plane with the help of Belarusian air forces is one more evidence of Belarus is violating international law, putting lives of passengers at risk,” a Belarusian diplomat Pavel Latushko told Protasevich’s colleagues at the blog.Belarus Riots After Dictator Clings to Power in ElectionDmitry Solovyev, a human rights defender at Vesna, says that currently there are 405 political prisoners in Belarus. Solovyev has tried to leave the country, after police severely beat him in his apartment, damaging his spine in March. “Several officers of special services turned me back in the airport, I was not able to catch my flight to Poland, where I was planning to have a medical treatment,” Solovyev told The Daily Beast. “I hope they will not torture Roman.”Leaders of Greece, France, Poland and Baltic countries expressed anger at Lukashenko’s actions on Sunday. British politician Tom Tugendhat said that “forcing an aircraft to land to silence opposition voices is an attack on democracy. The President of Lithuania, Gitanas Nauseda, demanded on Twitter that Protasevich be freed: “Unprecedented event! Regime is behind the abhorrent action.”In a statement, Ryanair said the flight landed after being "notified of a potential security threat" and that "(n)othing untoward was found and authorities cleared the aircraft to depart with passengers and crew." The statement made no mention of Protasevich, the passenger who remained behind when the aircraft departed.Belarus opposition leader, Svetlana Tikhonovskaya, demanded the immediate release of the journalist: “He faces the death penalty in Belarus. Lukashenko’s regime endangered the lives of passengers onboard the plane. From now on, no one flying over Belarus can be secure.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

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Israeli officials have privately expressed “regret” for blowing up a tower in the Gaza Strip that contained foreign media offices, it emerged on Sunday, as Palestinians began cleaning up the enclave’s rubble-strewn streets. In Gaza City, groups of young men and women used brooms to sweep dust and debris from the main roads, as outdoor vigils were held for the 248 victims of Israeli airstrikes and artillery fire. US officials estimate that the cost of repairing Gaza’s damaged hospitals, school and infrastructure will amount to several billion dollars, while the United Nations says hundreds of homes have been completely destroyed. It came as the New York Times reported that some Israeli military officials now “regret” a decision to strike the media tower in Gaza City, which contained the offices of Associated Press, a major US news agency, and the broadcaster Al-Jazeera. Israel maintains that the airstrike was justified as it claims that Hamas assets were in the building. The Israeli army gave reporters an hour to evacuate the tower, and no one was killed in the attack. But according to the New York Times, some Israeli military officials had argued against the air strike and now consider it a “mistake.” One official also felt that the damage caused by the strike to Israel’s international reputation outweighed the benefits of destroying Hamas equipment, the report added, citing three sources. Hamas denies that its assets were in the media tower and has accused Israel of committing “war crimes” by attacking civilian buildings, though Israel rejects this. In an interview with the Telegraph on Sunday, a senior Hamas official blamed Israel for the outbreak of the conflict in Gaza and warned that the Jewish state was “playing with fire.”

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