Anglican leader Justin Welby on Friday said Christians faced "elimination" in the Middle East by Islamic State (IS) jihadists, labelling the group a modern-day version of the tyrannical biblical king Herod.

IS has attacked Christians, Yazidis, Shiites and other minorities across the region, killing thousands and uprooting ancient communities from ancestral lands.

"They hate difference, whether it is Muslims who think differently, Yazidis or Christians, and because of them the Christians face elimination in the very region in which Christian faith began," the archbishop of Canterbury said in his Christmas Day sermon.


Apple has warned that a British plan to give intelligence agencies extra online surveillance powers could weaken the security of personal data for millions of people and paralyse the tech sector.

Britain unveiled proposals for new online powers last month that it said were needed to keep the country safe from criminals, fraudsters and militants, including the right to find out which websites people visit.

Critics however say the Investigatory Powers Bill gives British spies authority beyond those available in other Western countries, including the United States, and that it constitutes an assault on personal freedom.

"We believe it is wrong to weaken security for hundreds of millions of law-abiding customers so that it will also be weaker for the very few who pose a threat," the iPhone maker said.

Apple submitted its response to a British parliamentary committee that is scrutinising the new bill in the latest clash between Western governments seeking to monitor the threat from Islamist militants and online companies working to maintain security.

Apple said the draft laws could weaken data encryption, sanction interference with its products, force non-UK companies to break the laws of their home countries, and spark similar legislation in other countries that could paralyse firms under the weight of dozens of contradictory laws.

Lending support to Apple's view, Microsoft also said an international approach would keep people more secure than competing measures from different countries.

"The legislation must avoid conflicts with the laws of other nations and contribute to a system where likeminded governments work together, not in competition, to keep people more secure," a spokeswoman said.



A man was taken to hospital after he repeatedly stabbed himself in the head on Wednesday at London's Heathrow airport, police and British media said, triggering panic among passengers.

"Sitting at Fortnum and Mason Heathrow T5 when a man runs past stabbing himself in the head -- security has contained the situation," tweeted passenger Neerav Valiram.

An unnamed passenger quoted in Britain's Guardian newspaper said: "I quite quickly saw a Middle Eastern or north African looking gentleman constantly stabbing the side of his head with a knife and blood all down him."

"He never tried to attack anyone apart from himself so I don't think it was a terrorist attack."

Another passenger quoted by the newspaper, Tamara Lynch, said the man was trying to stab himself in the neck, then opened his jacket to try and stab himself in the chest.

"I couldn't see what he was using but he was really trying to ram it in. There was blood all the way down the side of his face and down his shirt," she said.

The Scottish government sacked US presidential hopeful Donald Trump as a business ambassador and a university revoked his honorary degree on Wednesday after he called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.


A petition to bar the Republican frontrunner from Britain reached more than 358,000 signatures amid an outcry over comments by the tycoon, who owns golf courses in Scotland and has family links to the country.

"Mr Trump's recent remarks have shown that he is no longer fit to be a business ambassador for Scotland," a spokesman for the regional government said as he was dropped as a "GlobalScot" ambassador, a position he took up in 2006.

Trump had called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on" following a shooting last week that left 14 people dead in California.



A man who appeared in court Monday charged with attempted murder after a stabbing at London Underground train station was allegedly found with pictures associated with the Islamic State group on his phone.

Muhaydin Mire, 29, from east London, is accused of attempting to murder a 56-year-old man at Leytonstone station on Saturday night.

He was driven to court in a police van escorted by other vehicles which went into the court building through a back entrance and appeared at the Old Bailey wearing a light grey T-shirt and tracksuit trousers.

During a brief hearing, he spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and address.

Mire was remanded in custody until Friday when he will again appear at the Old Bailey in London, the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales.

Prosecutors allege that Mire punched his victim to the ground and repeatedly kicked him before taking hold of the victim's head and cutting a 12-centimetre wound in his neck.

The victim, referred to in court as Male A, was in surgery for five hours after the attack, the prosecution said.


Prosecutors also allege that images and flags associated with IS jihadists were subsequently found on Mire's mobile phone.

- Increased patrols -

Police have increased patrols at transport hubs following the incident at Leytonstone station, a suburban stop on the Central Line, one of London Underground's busiest.

"The safety of the travelling public remains our top priority," said transport police spokesman Mark Newton.

Patrols "involve both uniformed and plain-clothed officers, supported by other resources, such as armed officers, police dogs, a network of CCTV cameras, and the thousands of rail staff we work alongside.

"We ask the public to remain calm and carry on using public transport as normal."

Britain's official national threat level from international terrorism was raised in August 2014 to severe, the second highest of five levels, meaning an attack is considered highly likely.



British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn passed a key electoral test on Friday when his Labour party won its first parliamentary seat since he took the helm in September.



The win bolsters the embattled leader of Britain's main opposition amid mounting talk of a leadership challenge, and as the anti-European Union UK Independence Party (UKIP) targets voters in former Labour strongholds.

"It shows the way we've driven the Tories back on tax credits, on police cuts, on their whole austerity agenda and narrative," Corbyn said on a visit to Oldham in northern England with winning by-election candidate Jim McMahon.

"It shows just how strong, how deep-rooted and how broad our party, the Labour Party, is for the whole of Britain," he said.

McMahon won the ballot for the Oldham West and Royton constituency with a majority of 10,835, down from a majority of almost 15,000 enjoyed by the last lawmaker to hold the seat, Labour's Michael Meacher.




Britain will join the US-led bombing campaign against Islamic State (IS) jihadists in Syria after a decisive parliamentary vote, with fighter jets launching their first air strike as early as Thursday.


Prime Minister David Cameron's government was backed by 397 lawmakers compared to 223 who opposed the bombing, giving him at 174 the strong mandate he said was essential for military action.

Royal Air Force planes based at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus are already helping to bomb targets in Iraq and government sources indicated that they could start flying missions over Syria imminently.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the first strikes could come as early as Thursday night.

Cameron welcomed the result of the House of Commons vote, writing on Twitter: "I believe the house has taken the right decision to keep the UK safe -- military action in Syria as one part of a broader strategy."

It was also immediately hailed by US President Barack Obama, who said the US would "look forward to having British forces flying with the coalition over Syria".



But during the debate, a wide range of MPs from all parties including main opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke out against air strikes.

Some 2,000 anti-war protesters also held a "die-in" outside parliament ahead of the vote during their second consecutive night of protest.

Corbyn condemned Cameron's "ill thought-out rush to war" and said his proposals "simply do not stack up".

However, Labour was also deeply split on the issue. Some 67 of its 231 MPs reportedly voted in favour of bombing, including 11 members of Corbyn's frontbench team.



Chelsea have submitted a planning application to build a new 60,000-seat stadium on the site of their Stamford Bridge ground, the Premier League champions announced on Tuesday.

"A planning application for a new stadium at Stamford Bridge with an expanded seating capacity has been submitted," the club said in a statement.

"This follows a successful consultation process during which we received very helpful feedback."

The plans involve the demolition of the current stadium at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea have played since 1905, and the construction of a new arena featuring a club shop and museum, plus restaurants and cafes.

Stamford Bridge, in west London, last underwent major renovation in the late 1990s when the stadium's West Stand was rebuilt.

The ground's current 41,798 capacity restricts Chelsea's ability to maximise match-day revenues.

According to the most recent figures compiled by financial analysts Deloitte, Chelsea generated 85 million euros ($90.1 million) in match-day revenue in the 2013-14 season.




Britain's government came under pressure Wednesday to let 16 and 17 year-olds have the vote in a referendum on European Union membership after suffering a defeat in parliament.

The House of Lords voted in favour of the amendment to a law currently being debated which governs how the referendum, to be held by the end of 2017, will be conducted.

The government must now decide whether to try and get the decision reversed in the House of Commons, or whether to agree to let 16 and 17 year olds have the vote as well as over 18s.

Some senior Conservatives currently expect the referendum will take place in September next year but a lengthy parliamentary battle over voting age could delay that.

The scale of the defeat in the unelected upper chamber -- by 293 votes to 211 -- was larger than expected.





Prince William and his wife Kate, as well as British Prime Minister David Cameron, signed a book of condolences at the French embassy and ambassador's residence on Tuesday after the Paris attacks.

"To all those who have died and were injured in the heartless attacks in Paris, and to all the people in France: Nos plus sincères condoléances (Our sincerest condolences)," William wrote at the embassy.

Cameron in his message expressed "shock, sadness and grief", signing the book at the west London mansion flanked by French ambassador Sylvie Bermann.