Govt to push for eradication of
bigotry in schools, mosques, Indonesian Students read the Quran. Source: AP.
Al-Azhar Entirely Rejects Proposal to End Verbal Divorce
Scholars Back Emir Sanusi on Using Mosque as Classes
Govt to Push For Eradication of Bigotry in Schools, Mosques
Is Reportedly Calling Trump's Travel Ban 'The Blessed Ban'
on Verge of Passing Ominous Anti-‘Islamophobia’ Motion
Mass Graves Found In Iraq’s Anbar
Syrian jihadist alliance vows to step up attacks against army
air strike 'accidentally' kills 3 Turkish troops in Syria
FM: Relations with Saudi Arabia ‘deeply rooted’
of Iraqis shot dead as they flee Daesh press gangs
Infighting Reported among Terrorists in Hama
Arabia playing positive role against terror: Tatarstan
Court Blocks Govt. Decision To Close World's Largest Refugee Camp
Today: Sailing from Byzantium – Turkey’s venture into Africa
and Religious Harmony in Indonesia's Capital Are About to Face a Major Test
police deny they are afraid to tackle hardline Islamic leader
optimistic he will gain support from Muslim voters
attend mass prayer, Quran recitation before debate
Taliban Leaders Enjoy Freedom of Actions In Pakistan: US Commander
Human Rights Prize, Yazidi Lawmaker Calls Travel Ban ‘Unfair’
mastermind tells Obama attacks were America’s fault
instructor challenges Islam misconceptions at Murrysville Community Center
American Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad says she was detained by U.S. Customs
General Calls for Review of Relationship with Pakistan
may sanction Iran over Yemen, Hezbollah and Iraq
Build Walls, Pope Francis Says
Wins Berlin Compensation Case over Muslim Headscarf
convicted for bringing Syrian boy to Sweden
Forced Secularism in Schools Leads to Polarization
Report Identifies Discrimination against Minorities in India
New Army In Kashmir, Lashkar Turns To Rural Homes
Leader Arrested For Murder of Convert
Says 'Secret Nuclear City' In India; 'A Figment of Pak's Imagination,' Responds
ISIS case: Accused used farming to disguise group’s activities, says NIA
link: Zakir Naik's aide chargesheeted
formally protests to China for blocking ban on Masood Azhar
offers healing balm to Basbariya Hindu-Muslim rift
Pamphlets Create Panic in Kurram Agency
Pakistani Blogger Breaks Silence
of UK ‘Sex Gang’ Face Deportation To Pakistan
from Afghanistan hampering eradication efforts’
Orders Work On Proposed Rohingya Island
Taliban Insurgents Killed In Uruzgan Air and Ground Operations
US commander says more troops needed in Afghanistan
benefits from conflict in Muslim Countries, asks PM Hasina
leader involved in major Kabul attacks is killed: ARG
Trump speaks over phone, discuss issues of mutual interest
Killed In Yemen Western Port Clashes
detains 4 ISIS suspects, seizes 24 suicide attack belts
keeps counter-terrorism operations with US despite raid
stage nationwide rallies to mark anniversary of 1979 Islamic Revolution
seeing old US enmity towards Iran under Trump: Tehran
by New Age Islam News Bureau
— Egypt's largest religious institution, Al Azhar, has thrown its weight behind
the view that ending verbal divorce is both inadmissible and would not
necessarily reduce divorce rates as proposed two weeks ago by the president.
divorce refers to undocumented divorce. Muslim men can divorce their wives
without having to resort to legal justification or consult a court or cleric
under the current law, prerogatives not enjoyed by Muslim women.
Azhar Observer, responsible for issuing expert opinion on matters, announced on
Wednesday its concurrence with Azhar's highest clerical authority, Council of
Senior Scholars', view regarding the inadmissibility of ending the practice of
Council of Senior Scholars of Al Azhar declared on Sunday that verbal divorce
is applicable and compliant with Sharia law. The Council advised that divorce
should be documented as soon as it occurs in order to safeguard the divorced
woman's rights as well as her children's rights.
Observer added in its statement that a proposed draft law that imposes
punishment for whoever does not document the divorce once it occurs verbally
should be seriously considered.
rights defender Intessar al-Saeed held the view that legally obligating the
documentation of divorce is necessary to safeguard women's rights, however it
will not reduce divorce rates, as this is an issue "that requires studies
by sociology experts."
on the subject was sparked on the 65th Police Day anniversary, when President
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi suggested that verbal divorce should not be authorised and
left the issue in the hands of Al Azhar to decide on the validity of such
matter. From there discussions led to Al Azhar's Sunday statement, which
affirmed the validity of verbal divorce.
president's suggestion to end verbal divorce by law stems from the current
phenomenon of high divorce rates over recent years.
his speech, Sisi said, "I asked the head of Central Agency for Public
Mobilization and Statistics (CAMPAS) about the number of marriages that are
authorized and he told me 900 thousand [per year] and that 40% of the marriages
end up in divorce in the couple's first 5 years of marriage."
Council of Senior Scholars then replied to the president saying, "The act
of not documenting verbal divorce will have negative consequences on the
divorced woman and her legal rights."
Scholars followed up by claiming that making verbal divorce illegal will make
no difference in reducing the divorce rate because if a husband who divorces
verbally cannot take marriage seriously, he will not bother to go to the
authorised religious figure to undergo the divorce process. The right move,
however, in Azhar's opinion, is to combat the increasing divorce rates through
public awareness campaigns with the cooperation of the media and religious
Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAMPAS) said in a study
in September 2016 that divorce rates have increased in the past two decades in
Egypt. The rate in 2015 increased by 83 per cent compared to that of 1996.
by Shorouk Fahmy, editing by Nourhan Fahmy)
Scholars Back Emir Sanusi On Using Mosque As Classes
Gombe and Bauchi — The Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, at an event Tuesday,
advised northern governors to use mosque facilities to offer primary education
instead of constructing more classrooms, especially in view of current economic
to the suggestion yesterday, most scholars backed the idea, advising, however,
that mosques are sacred places that must be treated as such.
Islamic Scholars in Sokoto State, Dr. Mansur Ibrahim and Dr. Muhammad Sani Jos
spoke for right interpretation of the suggestion.
examples with missionary schools owned by churches, Dr. Ibrahim said, "We
have some parents who cannot afford to send their children even to public
schools but if we can have these schools managed by our mosques, such parents
would send their children there."
his part, Dr. Sani said Emir Sanusi II could only have meant putting classrooms
around the mosques or utilizing mosques' facilities for education delivery and
not outright conversion of mosques for primary education.
Jigawa State, the Chief Imam of Takur Adu'a Commercial Central Mosque in Dutse,
Imam Aminu Baba Waziri, said there was no harm in using mosques for human
development, as mosques had long been used not only for worship but for other
an Islamic Scholar and Imam of Masjidurrahmah Mosque in Bauchi, Malam Ibrahim
Adam Disina said the idea of using mosques to teach children was good as long
as the etiquettes regarding the sanctity of the mosques were observed.
said in the history of Islam, mosques had served as schools, as courts as well
as places where Islamic affairs were discussed. "Mosques are centres of
learning," he asserted, adding, "Most of the renowned Islamic
universities like Al-Azhar and many of its contemporaries were mosques before.
So, teaching children in mosques is not a new thing in Islam."
cautioned, however that certain measures must be taken to avoid things that
might jeopardize the sanctity of the mosque as a place of worship.
Muslim Council of Nigeria in Adamawa State views the idea as workable. The
Secretary of the Council, Ismaila Modibbo Umaru said classes could hold in the
mosques as suggested by the emir.
Muslim communities could do well to support the educational system.
"During the time of the Prophet, mosques were centres of learning and
scholarship, so our mosques can be used as classes so long as their sanctity
will be respected as places of worship," he said.
Gombe State, the Chief Imam of Miyetti Jumu'at Mosque in the state capital
Gombe, Sheikh Adam Albani, said the first ever school during the time of
Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), was his mosque in Madina. He said leaving
the mosques unkempt after the children close from school would be the problem,
not using them as classrooms.
his part, the Chief Imam of Gombe State University (GSU), Dr. Tahir Inuwa
Ibrahim, expressed the view however that there could be a problem because fund
would still be needed to add structures to regular mosque buildings.
Kaduna State, the Chairman of the Council of Imams and Ulama, Shiekh Usman
Babantune said using mosques to offer primary education instead of constructing
more classrooms wwould not work in Nigeria.
said, "There are certain categories of people that are expected to enter
the mosques, including children who are disciplined and have good upbringing
because it is a holy place. Maybe the Emir is comparing Nigeria with Saudi
Arabia and other Arab countries where children are taught inside the mosque.
But in such countries, children are taught at an early age how to behave in the
mosque and other holy places, so they grow up with that perception and have
that discipline and they can easily receive education inside the mosque."
A. Ibrahim, Haruna Gimba Yaya, Balarabe Alkassim, Maryam Ahmadu-Suka
Govt to push for eradication of bigotry in schools, mosques
guidelines on Islamic educators and preachers will soon be implemented in
Indonesia in a push by government to quash bigotry and maintain religious
harmony in the country.
to Jakarta Post, the Religious Affairs Ministry has announced policies that
require all Islamic education teachers in public and private schools to have a
Bachelor’s degree in Islamic Studies, as well as for preachers to follow
guidelines on what they are not allowed to say in Friday sermons.
move comes after a number of studies showed that the majority of Islamic
educators were themselves intolerant.
2016 study by the Center for the Study of Islam and Society (PPIM) (reported by
the Jakarta Post) revealed that 87 percent of Islamic education teachers were
opposed to the appointment of non-Muslims as school principals, and nearly 90
percent of them refused to vote for non-Muslims as mayors or regents.
troubling 78 percent of Islamic education teachers also supported organisations
that demanded the implementation of sharia law in the country.
ministry’s Islamic education director-general Komaruddin Amin told Jakarta Post
that the ministry plans to distribute circulars to regional administrations and
schools, requesting they no longer employ people without the appropriate
teachers with insufficient educational backgrounds must be replaced. To avoid
[students] being misled, we must not entrust those who are lacking competence
to teach religious education,” he said.
is currently experiencing a shortage of Islamic education teachers with 230,000
schools in need of one, according to the ministry (as reported by Jakarta
Post), but the Indonesian Islamic Education Teachers Association (AGPAII) believes
this policy is important as several of their members do not have formal
education in Islamic studies and they fear this may be why they have failed to
understand the need of promoting tolerance.
target of the ministry’s strategy is religious sermons being delivered in
ministry has stressed that it will not directly intervene as it is not their
“domain” but will work with mainstream Muslim clerics to create guidelines to
act as a reference point for preachers on what they can and cannot say.
move comes after complaints from some Muslims surfaced expressing concern that
Friday sermons in several mosques had been inaccurate and inflammatory.
have been mixed responses from Muslim scholars, with some criticising the move
saying the government should not be telling preachers what they can say. Many
others, however, have come out in support believing that the government is only
trying to ensure that preachers are competent.
should be welcome news in a country in which underlying religious and ethnic
tensions have been in the spotlight recently.
about rising hardline Islamic sentiment have grown since Christian Governor
Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama was accused of blasphemy by hardline Muslim
groups back in November of last year.
has since been charged and is undergoing trial despite maintaining his position
as a candidate in the ongoing Jakarta gubernatorial race.
than 150,000 Muslims took to the streets of Jakarta in protest of the governor
despite reports that Ahok’s supposedly inflammatory comments were in fact
edited out of context and no offence was intended.
analysts believe that the decision to pursue the case against Ahok was a blow
to democracy and diversity, as well as a test to Indonesia’s secular
is reportedly calling Trump's travel ban 'the blessed ban'
terrorist group ISIS has reportedly branded President Donald Trump's executive
order on immigration "the Blessed Ban" as it seemingly proves that
the West is at war with Islam.
York Times terrorism correspondent Rukmini Callimachi reported from Iraq that
ISIS has been talking about Trump's travel ban, which bars refugees and
citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries — identified as hot spots for
terrorism — from entering the US.
reported here in Nov/Dec of last year," Callimachi tweeted on Wednesday.
"Guess what's different on this trip? Everywhere I go, Iraqis want to ask
about the visa ban."
is in Mosul, ISIS' stronghold in Iraq that is slowly being liberated from the
said a resident of western Mosul, which is still under ISIS control, told her
translator in a phone call that ISIS is also discussing the ban.
resident said ISIS has been openly celebrating the ban," Callimachi
tweeted. "They've even coined a phrase for it: الحظر المبارك — or 'The Blessed Ban.'"
explained why: "ISIS sees this as *their* doing. They succeeded in scaring
the daylight out of America."
according to this resident of Western Mosul, thinks their terror tactic worked.
They frightened the most powerful man in the world," Callimachi said,
referring to Trump.
has been silent on the ban on its official propaganda channels, but the group's
supporters have been cheering it online. And the Pentagon noted on Tuesday that
many Iraqi ISIS fighters are now trapped in western Mosul, the area of the city
that Callimachi's source is from.
experts opposed to the ban have said it will end up helping ISIS recruit more
people as it pushes its message that the West is at war with Islam. US legal
actions that seem to target Muslims could play into that narrative.
[ISIS] chatrooms have been abuzz about how this shows that there is a clash of
civilizations, that Muslims are not welcome in America etc.," Mia Bloom, a
terrorism expert and professor at Georgia State University, told Business
Insider via email last week.
notes that ISIS' language is similar to that used by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the
founder of ISIS' predecessor group Al Qaeda in Iraq.
"called the 2003 invasion of Iraq 'the Blessed Invasion,'" Callimachi
defended the travel ban in a rambling speech to the National Sheriffs'
Association on Wednesday morning. He accused judges of trying to overturn the
executive order because of politics and pointed to immigration law that seems
to support his travel ban.
think our security is at risk today, and it will be at risk until such time we
are entitled and get what we are entitled to as citizens of this country,"
he said. "We want security. One of the reasons I was elected is because of
law and order and security."
on verge of passing ominous anti-‘Islamophobia’ motion
is an ominous government development in favor of Islam north of the U.S.
motion that threatens to later lead to a crushing of some core freedoms of all
Canadians, resulting in an Islamist-favoring state next to the U.S., appears
poised to overwhelmingly pass the House of Commons. This is happening at a time
when the country's prime minister, Justin Trudeau, a firm internationalist, is
far more amenable to Islam than any prime minister in the nation's history.
Motion M-103 is designed to advance the goal of adding to Canada’s hate crimes
laws the undefined crime of “Islamophobia,” which would protect all Muslims and
Islam itself from any criticism related to that religion and its Shariah law.
The motion has been proposed by Islamic Member of Parliament Iqra Khalid.
parties so far have indicated they will unanimously vote for M-103. Its passage
in the House of Commons on February 16 would in effect set Canada on the path
to imposing a form of Islamic Sharia blasphemy law on all of Canada.
federal House of Commons motion would likely lead to extraordinary, historically
unprecedented special protections for the tenets of one religion in Canada,
Islam, a religion radically different from and, with some exceptions, generally
very hostile to Christianity and all other religions as directed by later
verses in the Koran.
Canadian media source that has provided the most significant critical coverage
of the M-103 development has been the online conservative news source,
TheRebel.media. The staff of RebelMedia come from the former Sun Media
television network. Most other, politically correct Canadian media have so far
largely ignored or downplayed the alarming significance and dangers of M-103.
Canada has relatively little diversity in news media reporting compared to its
Wednesday’s main editorial in Canada’s National Post, by regular columnist
Barbara Kay, a Jewish women, did express fear about the motion. Kay wrote,
I fear is that MP Iqra Khalid, who tabled M-103, may understand Islamophobia to
mean what its original promoters, the 56 Muslim-majority bloc if the United
Nations known as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), say it means.
The OIC wants to see the Cairo declaration on human rights become the template
for Islamophobia policies everywhere [in the world]. The Cairo Declaration
asserts the superiority of Islam and defines freedom of speech according to
Shariah law, which considers any criticism of Muhammad blasphemy.”
also expressed her concerns in a February 7 article in the Post, “How long
until my honest criticism of Islamism constitutes a speech crime in Canada?”
Barbara Kay calmly further explain her fears and concerns in this RebelMedia
Islam (Islamism) was almost entirely foreign to Canada until large-scale Muslim
immigration began only a few decades ago.
say that it is more than just a religion. Islam has its own harsh - some label
it “totalitarian” - legal code that governs the entire daily life of Muslims.
Islamist Muslims give Shariah laws priority over secular state laws that may be
in place in non-Islamist nations. In Islamist nations Shariah imposes severe
penalties, including severe beatings or death sentences, for those who leave
Islam, criticize it or violate its moral codes. In many Islamist nations it also
poses mortal dangers to all non-Muslims.
political religion of Islam, as followed by Islamist (fundamentalist) Muslims,
has numerous aspects that violate traditional Canadian democratic and free
speech principles and most of the rights provided for Canadians in their
Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
all Muslims follow the harsher, medieval proscriptions of Shariah from which
they fled in their former repressive, violence-prone Islamist countries. That
is to say, not all Muslims are Islamists, but too many are. See Muslims vs
Islamists. Non-Islamist Muslims tend to more consistently be good citizens and
positive contributors to Canada.
Toronto Sun also published an article critical of M-103. Anthony Furey wrote,
Islamophobia soon morphed into a catch-all phrase to silence anyone critical of
the religion. This applied even if they were denouncing extremism like Shariah
law or groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.
now become so bad that it’s even hurled at liberal Muslims in the West for speaking
out against the ultra-orthodox values that caused them to flee their home
countries in the first place. The term has been rendered meaningless and anyone
serious about tackling genuine religious discrimination should toss it aside.
now Canada’s MPs are poised to approve a motion that could very well set the
government on the path to criminalizing so-called Islamophobia. This is nothing
but trouble for anyone who takes issue with the unsavoury aspects of orthodox
notes about M-103,
below the surface and it’s immediately clear this is hardly about religious
discrimination in general. It singles out Islamophobia by name and nothing
else. There’s no mention of, say, anti-Semitism at all.”
continues, “This is an attempt to silence rational critics of political Islam.”
He concludes, "There’s certainly evidence of an increasing climate of hate
in Canada ... coming from within Islam. Supremacist groups like the Brotherhood
and Hizb ut-Tahrir have a rising presence here. And yet this motion could
handcuff us from standing up to them."
Rebel Media’s Faith Goldy is an investigative journalist and Christian opponent
of M-103. In “Free Speech, Not Sharia!” Goldy explains the dangers of M-103 and
passionately appeals to Canadians to contact their MPs demanding that they
oppose the motion:
January , Khalid met with board members of Palestine House in Mississauga
(near Toronto) and a “large number of members of the Palestinian community,” including Palestinian political
activists. Palestine House supports the Palestinian al-Quds Intifada, and its
settlement program was defunded by the former Conservative Harper
government for allying itself with
also Rebel Media video: "Trudeau's political pandering to radical
M-103: That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) recognize
the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear; (b) condemn
Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination and
take note of House of Commons’ petition e-411 and the issues raised by it; and
(c) request that the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage undertake a study
on how the government could (i) develop a whole-of-government approach to
reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including
Islamophobia, in Canada, while ensuring a community-centered focus with a
holistic response through evidence-based policy-making, (ii) collect data to
contextualize hate crime reports and to conduct needs assessments for impacted
communities, and that the Committee should present its findings and
recommendations to the House no later than 240 calendar days from the adoption
of this motion, provided that in its report, the Committee should make recommendations
that the government may use to better reflect the enshrined rights and freedoms
in the Constitution Acts, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and
mass graves found in Iraq’s Anbar
soldiers have found two mass graves containing the bodies of people slaughtered
by the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group during the extremists’ control of a desert
town west of the country.
Iraqi army found two mass graves in Rutbah containing the bodies of members of
the security forces and of civilians,” a captain in the army's 1st division
a small town in Anbar Province, was retaken from Daesh in May last year.
military official said the graves could have been dug as soon as Daesh took
control of the town in mid-2014 and began executing civilians and security
forces to wreak havoc.
mayor of Rutba, situated about 390 kilometers west of Baghdad, said one of the
graves was located in central parts of the city which used to dump waste and
the other was discovered on a southern neighborhood.
Meshaal said more than two dozen could be dumped in the graves, adding that the
bodies have “bullet impacts.”
don't know the exact number of bodies because we are leaving this work to a
forensic team but we expect there are about 25,” he said.
was a strategic location for Daesh terrorists due to its location on the road
managed to liberate key areas in the sprawling Anbar Province from Daesh last
year, including the capital of Ramadi and the city of Fallujah, which is near
photo shows Iraqi soldiers regroup on the front line against the Daesh Takfiri
terrorist group near Fallujah, in Iraq's Anbar Province. (Photo by AFP)
liberating key areas in Anbar, Iraqi forces began a long-anticipated operation
to purge terrorists from Mosul, the country’s second largest city which was
captured by the Takfiris in the summer of 2014.
Iraqi military and allies have fully liberated the eastern part of the Mosul
and the battle continues for the recapture of the neighborhoods on the western
edge of the Tigris River.
has discovered dozens of mass graves in areas that have been retaken from
head of a new alliance of Syrian Islamist factions, including a former
affiliate of al Qaeda, has promised to escalate attacks against the Syrian army
and its Iranian-backed allies with the goal of toppling President Bashar
al-Sheikh, leader of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which was formed last month, also
said in his first video speech that the new grouping sought to
"liberate" all of Syria's territory.
assure our people that we will begin our project by reactivating our military
action against the criminal regime and we will raid his barracks and positions
and wage a new battle of liberation," he said.
Tahrir al-Sham, or Body for the Liberation of the Levant, was created from a
merger of Jabhat Fateh al Sham - formerly al Qaeda's Nusra Front - and several
jihadist alliance has enlisted thousands of fighters who have defected in
recent weeks from more moderate Free Syrian Army rebel groups, angered by their
leaders' readiness to engage in a peace process with Assad's government.
before the alliance came into being, heavy fighting erupted in northwestern
Syria between Fateh al Sham and more moderate rebel groups, threatening to
further weaken the opposition to Assad in its biggest territorial stronghold.
Three Turkish soldiers were "accidentally" killed and 11 wounded on
Thursday when a Russian air strike targeting jihadists in Syria hit a building
where the troops were deployed, the Turkish army said.
Moscow and Ankara cooperating ever more closely on Syria, President Vladimir
Putin quickly reached out to Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to
express condolences and promise better future coordination.
Russian plane had been seeking to hit targets of Islamic State (IS) jihadists
but "by accident three of our heroic soldiers were martyred when a
building was bombed where our units were," the Turkish army said in a
said that of the 11 injured, one was badly wounded.
contacted Erdogan to express his "sadness and condolences," it added.
officials have said that the incident was an accident," the army said,
adding an investigation is being carried out by both sides.
Moscow, the Kremlin said Putin had offered Erdogan his condolences and that the
leaders had "agreed to enhance military coordination" in the fight
against IS in Syria.
said the incident took place in the flashpoint IS-held town of Al-Bab where
both countries have been conducting air strikes.
spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russian strike took place on Thursday morning
due to a "lack of agreement of coordinates during strikes by the Russian
sides appeared keen to move on from the incident, as was the case when an
off-duty Turkish policeman shot dead Russia's ambassador to Ankara Andrei
Karlov on December 19 in a crime that shocked both countries.
Ankara allowed Russian investigators to work in Turkey and also gave the slain
ambassador the honour of a ceremony on the tarmac of Ankara airport before his
corpse was airlifted back to Russia.
Russian defence ministry said Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and
Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar had in a call "agreed on closer
coordination of joint actions".
had on August 24 began an unprecedented campaign inside Syria against IS and
Kurdish militia which initially made rapid progress but has become mired in a
deadly fight for the IS held town of Al-Bab since December.
incident came with new CIA chief Mike Pompeo in Ankara for talks with Turkish
officials on issues including Syria, on his first foreign visit since the
inauguration of US President Donald Trump.
fight for Al-Bab has been by far the bloodiest yet of Turkey's incursion inside
Syria but the authorities have vowed to press on until its capture despite a
mounting casualty toll.
Thursday's casualties were reported, the Dogan news agency said 66 Turkish
soldiers have now been killed in the Syria operation since it began in August,
mostly in attacks by IS.
and Russia have been on sharply opposing sides in the Syria conflict, with
Moscow supporting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad but Ankara pushing
for his ouster as the key to peace.
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry stressed that relations with Saudi Arabia are
strong and “deeply rooted”, denying claims of tensed ties between Cairo and
said both countries are able to carry on with positive relations, as he spoke
during a press conference in Amman, adding that communication channels between
both countries had never closed, as quoted by AhramOnline.
year, just before Kins Salman’s trip to Egypt, Shoukry said that Saudi Arabia
and Egypt have coordinated efforts in combatting multiple issues, especially on
Daesh militants have shot dead dozens of young men trying to flee the western
quarter of Mosul to avoid being forced into the terrorist group’s ranks as
Iraqi government forces and allies are preparing for a new stage of operations
in the strategic northern city.
residents told English-language newspaper The Times on Thursday that at least
45 people, the youngest just 16 years old, were murdered by Daesh extremists
first mass killing happened on Monday, when 40 young men tried to swim from a
partially destroyed bridge to government-held territory on the eastern bank of
the Tigris River. Another five were shot dead the next day attempting the same
report added that the bodies of the victims were handed back to their relatives
as a warning.
Muqdad, from the Daesh-held al-Shifaa neighborhood, said four members of his
family, including his nephew, had been shot dead.
is trying to recruit young men by force. Many young people refused to join
Daesh and like my nephew tried to escape. They wanted to swim to safety, but
they were captured and executed immediately,” he said.
least 750,000 civilians are estimated to be living under Daesh control in
western Mosul. Many local residents are going through severe shortages of food
and medicines, and are desperate to leave as the final battle for the
liberation of Mosul is looming.
days are numbered'
has become very hard. People are starving and waiting impatiently to get rid of
Daesh. Daesh is watching people and trying to find any excuse to punish them,”
Sammi Latif, another resident, said.
added, “They know their days are numbered so they want to kill as many people
as possible before they are defeated. The biggest crime for them today is
fleeing toward the Iraqi army. The militants have the order to execute people
army soldiers, supported by pro-government fighters from the Popular
Mobilization Units – commonly known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi – and
Kurdish Peshmerga forces, launched a joint operation on October 17, 2016 to
retake Mosul from Daesh terrorists.
to the sources, Jund al-Aqsa terrorists attacked the Free Syrian Army (FSA)
bases in the Northern parts of Kafr Zita city and detained a number of its
the terrorist group launched offensive against Jibhat al-Hamamiyat militants,
detaining all its members and seizing all their weapons.
al-Aqsa militants also set up outposts in Khan Sheikhoun-Rakaya road and they
are on alert now, the sources said.
al-Aqsa militants also took control of Jeish al-Nasr's positions in Kafr Zita
in Northern Hama and deployed its forces in the region, detaining several
members of Jeish al-Nasr and seizing their weapons and equipment.
close to the terrorists said that the situation in Hama is worrying and Jeish
al-Nasr has evacuated its forces from Taybat al-Imam city.
sources affiliated to Liwa al-Aqsa- Jund al-Aqsa branch - also said that a
number of Ahrar al-Sham and Heyat al-Tahrir al-Sham have been sent to the
countryside of Hama city to fight against Jund al-Aqsa.
a relevant development in Idlib on Wednesday, the al-Nusra Front (recently
renamed to Fatah al-Sham Front) engaged in a fresh round of clashes with Ahrar
al-Sham and other Turkey-backed terrorist groups, widening gaps amongst rival
terrorists in Northwestern Syria.
group of terrorists affiliated to the newly-formed Ahrar al-Sham Hay'at (the
Levant Liberation Board) entered a government hospital in the town of Ma'arat
al-Nu'aman in Idlib province, using force, and took several guards of the
medical center that were members of Ahrar al-Sham hostages.
Saudi Arabia is playing a positive role in fighting terrorism, Tatarstan
President Rustam Minnikhanov said Wednesday.
led a senior Tatar delegation that met with high-profile Saudi businessmen and
leaders of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) at the Permanent
Mission of the Russian Federation to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation
told Arab News that Tatarstan is doing its utmost against terrorism, and called
for joint efforts because terrorism is a global issue.
said it is important to tackle misconceptions of Islam because it is a peaceful
Tatar delegation and Saudi businessmen were welcomed by Russian Ambassador Oleg
Ozerov and Consul General Ruslan Ramazanov in Jeddah.
said the Russian federation, of which Tatarstan is a part, has a clear position
that terrorism must be jointly fought by all means to preserve civilization.
will attempt to continue doing everything possible to further strengthen ties
and cooperation between Russia and the Russian people with countries of the
Islamic world. Our visit here is taking place in this framework,” he added.
said the agenda of the trip was to meet with King Salman and other Saudi
leaders, as well as ministers, the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and
businessmen in order to develop trade and economic ties. “I believe that we are
on the path to success,” he added.
court blocks govt. decision to close world's largest refugee camp
court in Kenya has ruled against government's decision to close the world’s
biggest refugee camp, saying refugees from Somalia will face serious risks if
they are forced to return to the war-torn country.
John Mativo said Thursday that Kenya’s internal security minister abused his
power by ordering the closure of Dadaab, a camp near the border with Somalia
that hosts more than 300,000 refugees.
said the minister and other officials had “acted in excess and in abuse of
their power, in violation of the rule of law and in contravention of their
oaths of office.”
judge added that the “discriminatory” order violated Kenya’s constitution,
adding that the order was also against international treaties that urge
protection of refugees against being returned to a conflict zone.
that Kenya’s government had not proved Somalia is safe for the return of the
refugees, Mativo ordered that the government’s refugee department, which processes
asylum requests, had to reopen, saying its closure was “null and void.”
international rights groups, including Amnesty International, had severely
criticized the government of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for ordering the
photo taken on July 23, 2011 shows a general view of Dadaab, the world's
largest refugee camp, in eastern Kenya. (Photo by AFP)
Kenyan government insists that the closure of the camp is necessary to prevent
attacks orchestrated by Somalia’s al-Shabab Takfiri militant group, which were
allegedly carried out by recruits from Dadaab.
say the government has yet to provide conclusive proof about its claims that
the camp has been turned into a recruiting ground for al-Shabab.
were happy about the court decision, with some saying the measure eased
pressure on them, especially after a presidential order in the US, which
imposed ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Somalia.
others said the reopening of Kenya’s refugee department could allow
registration of their babies as refugees.
has claimed several attacks in Kenya, including a 2015 attack on Garissa
University that killed 148 people, mostly students. The militant group said the
attack was carried out in response to Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia.
sent troops to Somalia in 2011 to fight the militants.
is rather enigmatic at the best of times and even harder to fathom under its
current leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Erdoğan’s shifting alliances
with great powers in the Syrian conflict, for example, have been especially
baffling to many pundits.
motives of his Africa policy are also not so clear.
true that Turkey has deep historical relations with North Africa, its
traditional “Ottoman” hinterland. But it was only from 2005 that Turkey
dramatically accelerated relations with sub-Saharan African, after Erdoğan came
to power. That year, he secured observer status for Turkey at the African Union
2008, the AU declared Turkey a strategic partner. The first Turkey-Africa
summit was held in Istanbul, the second summit in Equatorial Guinea in 2014 and
the third is due to take place in Turkey in 2019.
relations also soared – from 12 Turkish embassies in Africa in 2009 (five of
them in North Africa) to the present 39 (plus a consulate-general in
self-declared independent Somaliland), with another soon to open in Malabo,
the number of African embassies in Ankara grew from about 10 to 32 during the
official development assistance (ODA) to Africa meanwhile grew from only $52-million
in 2008 to $783-million in 2013, almost one third of its global ODA. Turkey has
also contributed troops and money to seven of the nine United Nations
peacekeeping missions in Africa.
almost any measure, Turkey’s advance into sub-Saharan Africa has been
remarkable. What’s it all been about?
Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs offers the rosy suggestion that Turkey is
just going home, the Ottoman Empire having been “itself an African state”.
more prosaic explanation is that Turkey merely joined other big powers in the
second scramble for African natural resources and markets.
an extent, this has paid off. Two-way trade with Africa tripled between 2003
and 2015, to $17.5-billion (though some 65% of this was with North Africa).
2000, Turkish foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa totalled about
$750-million. By 2015, it had risen to anywhere between $5- billion and
$8.4-billion. Turkish construction companies have profited most, winning over
1,000 projects worth $54-billion, constituting 21% of their international
business, in the wake of the drive into Africa.
so, these economic returns, especially when one subtracts the North African
components, don’t quite seem to justify the large investment in sub-Saharan
something more than money involved.
is pursuing, also in Africa, his wider ambition of asserting greater Turkish
leadership in the world, especially the Sunni world. This sense emerges in
particular from his focus on resolving intractable conflicts and bringing
development to two Muslim states, Sudan and Somalia.
Somalia diplomacy has been particularly remarkable. He has channelled an
extraordinary amount of time, effort, money – a total of some $600-million,
Ankara says - and, one must add, courage into trying to rescue the world’s most
2011, Erdoğan put his credibility and even his life on the line by becoming the
only international leader to visit Mogadishu – opening an embassy there and
also inaugurating regular flights by Turkish Airlines.
also started rebuilding and renovating infrastructure to pave the way to
further stability in the country.
credits Erdoğan’s historic visit to Somalia with creating an “unequalled
breakthrough in turning around the fate of this country”, by boosting international
confidence in the country and helping to set it on its (precarious) road to
little exaggerated, perhaps, and a little premature – but a remarkable effort
asserting Turkish leadership in Islam, and also simply taking greater
cognisance of trans-Saharan Africa, the Islamist Erdoğan distinguishes himself
from the long Westward-looking and scrupulously secular Kemalist tradition that
preceded him, and with which he is in constant conflict.
Piccone of the Brookings Institution writes in his new book, Five Rising
Democracies, that “In many ways Africa has become the laboratory for Turkey’s
soft power agenda”.
though, much of the soft power which Turkey has projected in Africa has been
through the Gülenist movement. This shadowy network, founded and led by the
exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, strongly supported Erdoğan, politically
and financially, and helped him defeat the military secularists until they fell
out in 2013.
blamed the Gülenists for the failed military coup attempt against him last
July, and he purged thousands of them from all institutions of society.
meanwhile the Gülenist movement, better known on the continent as Hizmet (the
Service) had built up a vast network in Africa. This includes about 110
schools, in 35 countries – mostly with significant Muslim populations – as well
as business federations, an aid agency and a media empire.
Africans connect all this to Gülen. The schools, for instance, teach the local
national curriculum, not an Islamic one and have various names, none of which
identify them as Gülenist or Hizmet. Most locals simply call them “the Turkish
schools” and value their high academic standards. For many Africans, they are
the face of Turkey.
many years, much of Turkey’s soft power in Africa – including development work,
education outreach and business development, was effectively “out-sourced” by
Ankara to the Gülenists – as Ertan Aydin, a member of parliament for Erdoğan’s
AKP party and his former chief adviser, acknowledged at a seminar on
Turkey-South Africa relations in Pretoria last month.
Gülenists in Africa seem to have no political agenda.
ever since his fall-out with the Gülenists in Turkey in 2013 – and much more so
since the botched July coup – Erdoğan has been going after the various
institutions in Africa.
month, Erdoğan conducted the latest of many trips to Africa, visiting Tanzania,
Mozambique and Madagascar. One of his main aims was to urge the governments of
those countries to shut down the alleged "terrorist" networks.
Kopi Es Tak Kie, a small café in Jakarta’s Chinese quarter, Glodok, the
singsong of myriad Chinese dialects has for decades mingled with the more
staccato Bahasa Indonesia. The business opened in 1927 as a street stall
dispensing steaming mugs of coffee brewed from local java beans. After 10
years, it moved into its current whitewashed premises, where customers huddle
around Formica tables to gossip beneath the din of clattering crockery.
whisper that Indonesia’s top gangsters used to congregate here to slurp noodles
and to plot. Recently, though, the clientele has turned significantly more
salubrious: photos of Joko Widodo, the Indonesian President popularly known as
Jokowi, pepper the walls.
always has black coffee and local snacks like tempe [soybean cake],” says Latif
Yulus, 67, whose grandfather opened Tak Kie after emigrating from China’s
southern Guangdong province. “Jokowi is a nice person, patient; he speaks
slowly and listens carefully.”
what the President would have heard emanating from the streets of Jakarta
recently grates with the cultural harmony on show at Tak Kie.
virulent Islamist movement led by the Islamic Defenders Front (known after its
Indonesian initials as the FPI) has taken to the streets in an attempt to oust
Jakarta's governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama. Popularly known by his Hakka
nickname Ahok, the ethnic Chinese Christian previously served as deputy
governor under Jokowi, whom he succeeded when Jokowi became President.
is now standing for another term, hoping to win a mandate in his own right.
However, the FPI insists that no Christian — especially a Chinese one — should
lead the capital of world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, citing a Quranic
verse that warns against allying with Christians and Jews. The issue is
particularly charged because the high-profile gubernatorial job is seen as a
stepping-stone to national politics.
FPI's campaign threatens to drive a wedge between Indonesia’s Muslim majority
and its 3 million ethnic Chinese citizens. The famously blunt-speaking Ahok did
not help the situation when he told a crowd on Sept. 27: “Ladies and gentlemen,
you don’t have to vote for me — because you’ve been lied to by those using [the
Quran’s] Surah al-Maidah verse 51. That’s your right.”
citation of a Quranic verse, and his disputation of the hard-line
interpretation of it, infuriated the FPI. A doctored recording of the
governor’s speech — carefully edited to amplify the outrage of protesters —
went viral. Led by firebrand cleric Habib Muhammad Rizieq Shihab, the FPI
accused Ahok of blasphemy and organize three massive protests that paralyzed
downtown Jakarta. Another is slated for Saturday.
FPI is demanding that Ahok be jailed and also that Jokowi step down, since as
his party is endorsing Ahok’s candidacy. Jokowi has met with FPI leaders in an
attempt to quell their rancor, though many say this act simply legitimized
has appeared in court to fight blasphemy charges while simultaneously
campaigning for office in polls slated for Feb. 15. He is the most senior
official ever to be charged with the offense and could face five years in
prison. The blasphemy case, and the gubernatorial election, are being billed as
a litmus test for Indonesia’s young, secular democracy, which is increasingly
under threat from a radical Islamist right.
Ahok issue has been a rallying point that has brought many different strands
[of radical Islam] together," Sidney Jones, director of the Jakarta-based
Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, tells TIME. "That is why the
demonstrations have been so big."
increasingly militant. “The FPI is not a solid organization with one command
system, like the police or military,” Indonesia’s national police chief Tito
Karnavian tells TIME. “In Central Java, they have members who are also
supporting ISIS groups.”
one recent FPI demonstration outside the Jakarta Police Headquarters, many
protesters appeared in camouflage gear. One jacket bore an embroidered AK-47
and the rubric “Defend Palestine.”
leader of Jakarta must be Muslim because he must give direction to the people,”
said protester Muhammad Mahdi, 33. “But how can Ahok if he doesn’t follow our
the end of colonial rule in 1945, Indonesia’s leaders have sought to guard
against religious extremism by rooting governance in the state ideology of
Pancasila — belief in one God, a just and civilized humanity, national unity,
democracy through deliberation, and social justice for all. But groups like FPI
want to implant Shari‘a in Indonesia, placing religious doctrine above the
rules written by government and courts.
Chinese community worry because FPI are growing bigger and more powerful,” says
Latif. “We know that the FPI likes to attack people, sweeping businesses.”
refers to the harassment of business owners by groups like the FPI, who seek to
stop behavior that is contrary to Shari’a, such as the sale of alcohol or the
employment of female staff who are not dressed according to conservative Muslim
codes. The practice has often been employed by business rivals, who pay mobs
under the cloak of Islamic righteousness, disguising what are essentially
hoodlums for hire.
own sweeping has even extended to shops that requested Muslim employees to don
Santa hats in the run-up to Christmas. In cosmopolitan Jakarta, there are no
end of potential targets. In Glodok market, rows of char siu pork hang outside
shops selling Chinese liquor, as well as the tangerine trees, lanterns and
trinkets synonymous with China’s Taoist Spring Festival.
Chinese population has fallen victim to repeated pogroms over the years, most
savagely in 1965 when an failed leftist coup against the dictator Sukarno
sparked an anticommunist purge that claimed, depending on estimates, up to 2
million lives — predominantly of ethnic Chinese, irrespective of their
massacre helped usher in the reign of similarly autocratic President Suharto,
who put proscriptions on Chinese language and festivals. However, the “father
of development” also cut business deals with Chinese tycoons; at his fall in
1998, Indonesia’s largest conglomerates were all controlled by ethnic Chinese.
anti-Chinese riots followed Suharto’s toppling and, if left unchecked, many
fear the actions of Islamist groups like FPI could trigger a bloody repeat.
Especially as FPI’s anti-Ahok rhetoric has been echoed by secular, right-wing
nationalists who fear the exploitation of Indonesian natural resources by
Chinese firms, which they even accuse of inculcating a fifth column to spread
alliance between the ultranationalist right and the hard-line Muslims could
create more anti-Chinese sentiment than we’ve seen here since 1998,” says
most Chinese Indonesians are, like Latif, small-scale traders, and some are
very poor indeed, there is a perception among many Indonesians that the
community is fabulously wealthy. There are bitter complaints of reverse
discrimination — apocryphal tales, for instance of even poor Chinese securing
bank loans with greater easy than aristrocratic Javanese or Sumatrans.
rise has led to an unfortunate resurgence in these sorts of racial tensions and
in identity politics. In early November, former President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono, whom Jokowi replaced, warned that Indonesia would “burn with the
anger of those seeking justice” unless Ahok was prosecuted. (Yudhoyono’s
presidential term, from 2004 to 2014, corresponded with an emboldening of
Islamist movements hobbled during the postcolonial authoritarian period. Not
entirely coincidentally, Yudhoyono’s son Agus is running against Ahok for the
post of Jakarta governor and appears a chief beneficiary of the FPI’s ire.)
the blasphemy controversy erupted, Ahok looked certain to win re-election. The
grandson of a Guangdong tin miner, he has won plaudits for cutting through red
tape since assuming Jakarta’s top job in 2014. The city’s previously opaque
finances are now published online, and he nixed a stalled — though increasingly
expensive — monorail system, instead fast-tracking a Light Transit Rail
project. Construction for the latter is ongoing throughout the sprawling city
of 30 million that accounts for a sixth of national GDP, but where infamous
snarled traffic is a tremendous drag on productivity.
has also developed a reputation as a straight talker with no tolerance for
corruption or incompetence. City residents speaks in glowing terms to TIME of
being able to contact their local authorities through social-media accounts set
up by Ahok in order to report illegal trash piles (another notorious Jakarta
problem) and then to see them miraculously cleared away. Videos of Ahok
berating inept transport officials have gone viral, striking a cord with many
tired by decades of endemic corruption, though his famously blunt style has
also made him enemies beyond FPI.
program of bulldozing slums and rehousing the occupants elsewhere is rife with
accusations of inadequate consolation and compensation. “Ahok has this image of
the city becoming like Singapore — a clean, sanitized streetscape with concrete
rivers,” says Elisa Sutanudjaja, the director of the Jakarta-based Rujak Center
for Urban Studies and noted Ahok critic. “And with that view in mind he tried
to clean out these communities.”
who is also ethnic Chinese, blames Ahok for sowing communal division with his
brusque manner. “Public officials have a certain standard not to provoke or
offend people,” she says. “It’s not related to his ethnicity but about his
position as a public official. It’s like having Donald Trump saying ridiculous
latest polls published by the newspaper Kompas on Thursday put Ahok at eight
percentage points ahead of rivals. Whether he can stay out of jail is another
story. But for now, it looks like Jakartans are rejecting the FPI’s invective.
lot of Chinese aren't buying into identity politics either. “I still don’t know
who I will vote for,” says Latif, hilariously. “Ahok is too loud, too rude. A
lot of Chinese people don’t like him.”
About 5000 members of the Islam Defenders' Front (FPI) turned up outside
Indonesian police headquarters on Monday morning, to demand the removal of West
Java's police chief.
if the group, once considered fringe radicals, have become increasingly vocal,
it is their leader, firebrand cleric Muhammad Rizieq Shihab, who some fear may
have become too powerful for the police to touch.
known as Habib Rizieq, he is being investigated over multiple reports of
alleged blasphemy and slander, including his outlandish claim that the 100,000
rupiah note contains an image of the hammer and sickle, which is illegal in
daughter of Indonesia's first president Sukarno has also reported him for
allegedly insulting the state ideology, Pancasila, which carries a maximum
sentence of five years' jail.
Rizieq is yet to be named a suspect, however Jakarta police chief Muhammad
Iriawan denied at a press conference that the police lacked the courage to do
said Habib Rizieq would also be summoned soon over his claims regarding the
have the law about hate speech," Iriawan said. "The Central Bank has
said it isn't a hammer and sickle. It's called retroverso, a system to protect
said Habib Rizieq would also be summoned for allegedly insulting Christianity
when he told Muslims in a sermon on Christmas Day: "If Jesus is the son of
God, who is the midwife?"
said the mass protests deployed by the FPI were not a factor in police
decisions: "The state cannot be pressured."
was a poster ridiculing Pancasila at an army base in Perth that was the
catalyst for Indonesian military chief Gatot Nurmantyo's decision to partially
suspend defence ties with Australia.
FPI and Habib Rizieq's Twitter accounts - @DPP_FPI and @syihabrizieq - were
suspended ahead of FPI's march to Indonesian police headquarters on Monday
morning. Police deployed 2800 personnel to secure the protest.
FPI had called for West Java police chief Anton Charliyan to be sacked,
alleging he had incited thugs to attack FPI sympathisers when Habib Rizieq was
summoned last Thursday to be questioned over the allegations that he insulted
Sukarnoputri had reported him to police for allegedly insulting Pancasila and
are mounting concerns about an Islamist challenge to Indonesian President Joko
Widodo's government as sectarian tensions simmer ahead of next month's
incumbent, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian universally
known as Ahok, is standing trial for blasphemy over allegations he insulted
returns to court on Tuesday but the trial will drag on long after the February
mass protests - spearheaded by the FPI - were held last year demanding Ahok be
jailed, with the final December 4 rally attracting an estimated 500,000 to
demonstration is planned for next month.
said police could still handle security at these mass actions. Pressed on if it
was worrying, he said: "Not yet [but] it's heading that way."
Basuki from the Centre for the Strategic and International Studies said the
Indonesian government saw that intolerance was on the rise and the FPI was
leading political Islam.
gubernatorial candidate Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono has expressed optimism over
his chance to win the upcoming election by securing support from Muslim voters.
said gaining support from Muslim voters was essential in securing the City
Hall’s top post. He pledged to forge a close relationship with Muslim
communities by accelerating development works in the province should he be
elected governor on Feb. 15.
85 percent of Jakarta residents are Muslim. It’s logical to think Jakarta will
not prosper if its Muslim people live without prosperity,” the candidate said.
was speaking in front of thousands of clerics and members of several
Jakarta-based Islamic organizations during a campaign event at Blok S Square in
South Jakarta on Thursday.
poll released by the Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI) in late January shows that
the Agus-Sylviana ticket is backed by 39.6 percent of Muslim respondents, while
the favorability level of its competitors, candidate pairs Basuki “Ahok”
Tjahaja Purnama-Djarot Saiful Hidayat and Anies Baswedan-Sandiaga Uno, stands
at 28 percent and 23.4 percent, respectively.
Allah bless me to lead Jakarta, I will pay my fullest attention to
Muslim-related activities, such as by allowing a mass prayer to be held at the
Monas [National Monument] compound,” said Agus, who was accompanied by his
running mate, Sylviana Murni.
gubernatorial candidate pair Anies Baswedan-Sandiaga Uno participated in a mass
prayer and Quran recitation attended by thousands of Muslims at Sunda Kelapa
Grand Mosque in Central Jakarta on Thursday evening, one day before they
participate in the final candidate debate.
the event, also attended by Muslim leaders including Ustadz Bachtiar Nasir and
Habib Ali Assegaf, Anies delivered a speech saying that Moslem communities in
Indonesia had set a good example as the most organized and peaceful Muslims in
two large rallies on Nov. 4 and Dec. 2 held to protest Jakarta Governor Basuki
“Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama’s alleged blasphemy, Anies deplored the fact that the
National Monument compound in Central Jakarta was no longer available for religious
also asked Muslims to pray for him and his running mate, Sandiaga, so they
could stay calm and deliver good answers during the candidate debate scheduled
for Friday evening.
pray for me so I can have a clear mind and answer [all debate questions]
easily,” he said.
Taliban leaders enjoy freedom of actions in Pakistan: US commander
top US commander in Afghanistan General John Nicholson has said the Taliban and
Haqqani network leaders are enjoying freedom of action within Pakistan safe
Nicholson is the commander of the US forces and the NATO-led Resolute Support
mission in Afghanistan.
Taliban and Haqqani network are the greatest threats to security in
Afghanistan. Their senior leaders remain insulated from pressure and enjoy
freedom of action within Pakistan safe havens,” he told the Senate Armed
Services Committee on Thursday.
said “As long as they enjoy external enablement, they have no incentive to
reconcile. The primary factor that will enable our success is the elimination
of external sanctuary and support to the insurgents.”
Nicholson also added that Russia has become more assertive over the past year,
overtly lending legitimacy to the Taliban to undermine NATO efforts and bolster
belligerents using the false narrative that only the Taliban are fighting
neighboring Iran is providing support to the Taliban while also engaging the
Afghan government over issues of water rights, trade, and security,” he added.
comes as the Afghan officials have long been criticizing Islamabad for
remaining reckless to act against the Afghan militant leaders using the
Pakistani soil for planning and coordinating attacks in Afghanistan.
human rights prize, Yazidi lawmaker calls travel ban ‘unfair’
Adelle M. Banks
(RNS) Receiving a prestigious human rights prize, an Iraqi lawmaker who gained
international attention for her oppressed Yazidi religious minority decried the
Trump administration’s “unfair” executive order on immigration.
President Donald Trump, Iraq is not a terrorist,” said Vian Dakhil as she
received the Lantos Human Rights Prize at a Capitol Hill ceremony Wednesday
(Feb. 8). “Iraqis are not terrorists. We are friends and allies. And we are
looking forward to have exceptional relations with all people, especially with
the United States of America.”
drew a standing ovation from the crowd of more than 100 people, including
politicians and diplomats, at the Rayburn House Office Building.
presence at the ceremony had been in question due to Trump’s 90-day ban on
travelers from Iraq and six other majority-Muslim nations. But she was able to
fly out of Iraq on Saturday after she gained permission from the State
ban has been suspended by a U.S. District Court judge, whose decision is being
weighed by an appellate court.
who stood by an English translator as she spoke in Arabic, told of the
atrocities inflicted by the Islamic State group, including gang rapes of little
girls. And she said the plight of her people continues, with thousands of women
and girls in captivity and hundreds of thousands living in refugee camps in
Kurdistan, a northern region of Iraq.
percent of our villages and cities are completely destroyed,” she said. “We
need a stand from the international community to get over this ordeal.”
her earlier plea before her Parliament in 2014, Dakhil’s recounting of
killings, rapes and other attacks by ISIS prompted former President Obama to
authorize airstrikes and humanitarian aid to rescue thousands of trapped
members of the religious minority.
speak here in the name of humanity,” she said at that time. “Save us! Save us!”
Saperstein, former ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom,
compared Dakhil to the heroine Queen Esther whose courage was depicted in the
- The self-proclaimed mastermind of the September 11 attacks wrote to former
president Barack Obama to tell him 9/11 was a direct result of American foreign
policy and the deaths of innocent people it has caused.
Sheikh Mohammed’s 18-page letter was addressed to “the head of the snake,
Barack Obama,” leader of “the country of oppression and tyranny.”
attorney David Nevin provided a copy of the letter, which has not yet been
posted on the US military’s website for Guantanamo proceedings. He told AFP
that Mohammed began writing it in 2014. The letter is dated January 8, 2015,
but reached the White House only two years later in the last days of Obama’s
presidency, according to news reports, after a military judge ordered the
Guantanamo prison camp where Khalid Sheikh is held to deliver it.
was not we who started the war against you in 9/11; it was you and your
dictators in our land,” he wrote.
says God was on the side of the hijackers on that fateful day when airplanes
were guided into the Twin Towers in New York, the Pentagon and a field in
Pennsylvania. “Allah aided us in conducting 9/11, destroying the capitalist
economy, catching you with your pants down, and exposing all the hypocrisy of
your long-held claim to democracy and freedom,” Khalid Sheikh wrote.
many grievances over America’s “brutal and savage massacres” from Vietnam to
the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Khalid Sheikh focused his
rage on the plight of Palestinians and US support for Israel and the “occupier
hands are still wet with the blood of our brothers and sisters and children who
were killed in Gaza,” he wrote in the opening paragraph.
with the letter, Khalid Sheikh sent a 51-page manuscript entitled “Shall I Die
when the Crusaders Carry out the Death Sentence? The Truth about Death.”
is illustrated with an image of a noose.
Aliya Khan of Pittsburgh, the idea of Islam is spelled out in its Arabic
translation: “submission to God.”
submission is not compulsory, and the horizontal structure of her faith means
it is practiced differently all over the globe, she said.
who teaches classes on Islam at the University of Pittsburgh's Osher School of
Lifelong Learning, spoke Thursday to about 60 people at the American
Association of University Women's meeting at the Murrysville Community Center.
addition to giving a quick primer on the tenets of a religion practiced by
nearly a quarter of the world's population, Khan also worked to dispel some
pushed back against the idea that Islam is incompatible with modern democracy.
Islamic countries are monarchies, but that is more a function of
post-colonialism,” she said. “It's not a question of religion. It's a question
hit on the similarities among Islam, Christianity and Judaism, three religions
that trace their roots to Abraham.
consider the gospel of Jesus and the Jewish Torah important holy texts to be
studied in concert with the Quran, she said, and Islam has more prophets than
Muhammad, including those familiar to Western Christians — such as Jesus,
Moses, Solomon and David.
Clarke of Murrysville said the talk was a unique learning opportunity.
me, I'm always interested in religion, even though I'm not religious,” he said.
“I like to hear about anything newsworthy.”
newsworthiness of Islam — that is to say, what mass media choose to cover —
also was a topic.
Muhammad, who became the first female Muslim American to win an Olympic medal
for the United States last summer in the Rio Games, said she recently was
detained by U.S. Customs officials for two hours with no explanation.
native of Maplewood, N.J., and a Duke graduate, Muhammad did not say where she
had been traveling, stating only that she was held “just a few weeks ago.” Nor
did she specifically link the holdup to President Trump’s travel ban on people
from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
can’t tell you why it happened to me,” she said in an interview with the
website Popsugar during the Makers Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.,
“but I know that I’m Muslim. I have an Arabic name. And even though I represent
Team USA and I have that Olympic hardware, it doesn’t change how you look and
how people perceive you.”
was the first American Olympian to compete while wearing a hijab and won a
bronze medal in team sabre in Rio. Her airport experience made her more
determined than ever to stay positive, she said.
fencing mask hid her hijab. Now, this Olympian wants to be seen and heard.]
human response is to cry because I was so sad and upset and disheartened — and
just disappointed. At the same time, I’m one of those people who feels like I
have to be strong for those people who may not be able to find that strength. I
feel like I have to speak up for those people whose voices go unheard.
was a really hard two hours, but at the same time, I made it home. I try to
remember to be positive and to try to leave all these situations, even if they
may be very difficult, with love. I think that we will come out on top as
women, as people of color, as Muslims, as transgender people, as people who are
part of the disabled community — I think that we’ll come out on top.”
Post has reached out to Muhammad for comment. Representative Donald M. Payne
Jr., a congressman serving Muhammad’s home base in Maplewood, N.J., said in a
Facebook post Thursday he was “sickened” by the news while taking a swipe at
the current administration.
summer, Muhammad’s coach, Akhi Spencer-El, described the challenges Muhammad
faces in an interview with The Post’s Rick Maese.
through airports, oh man, she’s always the only one in the group that has to go
through a ‘random’ check,” Spencer-El said. “Then we get to these tournaments,
and you never know when you’re dealing with a person who might have bad
feelings toward Muslims. And you think: That’s who’s deciding if you move on to
the next round? In the beginning, it was really tough for her. She had to fight
her way and prove to the world that she’s just as good, that she should be
treated just like anybody else.”
has been critical of Trump, pretending in a joking way during the Olympics that
she didn’t know who he was, and tweeting once that “Friends don’t let friends
like Trump.” In interview with Time, she said: “If Donald Trump had his way,
America would be white, and there wouldn’t be any color and there wouldn’t be
any diversity.” Shortly after the travel ban was put in place, she tweeted
“#NoBanNoWall,” adding that “our diversity makes our country strong.”
General Calls for Review of Relationship With Pakistan
top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said on Thursday that there was a need for a
"holistic review" of the relationship with Pakistan, adding that it
was supporting the Taliban and undermining the Afghan government.
complex relationship with Pakistan is best assessed through a holistic
review," Army General John Nicholson, who leads U.S. and international
forces in Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
new United States administration, under President Donald Trump, is believed to
be exerting pressure for imposition of new sanctions against Iran in response
to their activities in the Middle East and fueling instability in the region.
administration is said to be studying several aspects for the sanctions, which
one includes the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and their meddling in
other countries in the region, specifically Syria and Iraq.
officials were cited by Reuters news agency and the New York Times on Wednesday
as saying that the Trump administration is considering a proposal for sanctions
that mentions the Revolutionary Guards on the list of terrorist organizations,
alongside the Muslim Brotherhood.
plan to place sanctions on Iran has strong support within the White House. It
is expected that the final plan will reviewed by US Secretary of State, Rex
Tillerson. Many US officials have accused the Revolutionary Guards of
supporting proxy wars in the Middle East.
Houthis and Iraq
next step may be to impose sanctions on Iran for its support to some terrorist
groups. A senior US official involved in the review of policy towards Tehran
revealed that the new administration considers Iran a threat to US interests
and is looking for ways to put pressure on them.
build walls, Pope Francis says
Francis said on Wednesday (Feb. 8) that society should not create “walls but
bridges” to encourage good relations among people, adding it was wrong to be
spiteful and say “I’ll make you pay for that.”
President Donald Trump has promised to build a wall on the border with Mexico
and have the Mexicans pay for it. The Argentine-born pontiff did not mention
Trump or that specific wall in his comments.
at his weekly general audience, Francis spoke of a Christian calling “to not
raise walls but bridges, to not respond to evil with evil, to overcome evil
then improvised and added: “A Christian can never say ‘I’ll make you pay for
that.’ Never! That is not a Christian gesture. An offense is overcome with
forgiveness, by living in peace with everyone.”
year, in response to an answer about then-candidate Trump’s views on
immigration and his intention to build a wall on the border with Mexico,
Francis said a man with those views is “not Christian.”
said in an interview last month that he would not form an opinion of Trump
until he first had a chance to see specific policies the new president would implement.
Trump was taking office on Jan. 20, Francis sent a message urging him to be
guided by ethical values, saying he must take care of the poor and the outcast
during his time in office.
Wins Berlin Compensation Case Over Muslim Headscarf
A German court has ruled that a teacher who didn’t get hired by a Berlin
elementary school because she was wearing a Muslim headscarf will receive 8,680
euros (USD 9,250) in compensation for discrimination.
higher labor court judge said today that wearing the headscarf wouldn’t have
led to tension at the school. The plaintiff, who wasn’t identified, had
appealed an earlier ruling by a court which had rejected her case. City
education authorities can appeal the latest ruling.
has a so-called neutrality law which says teachers, police officers and
judicial employees shouldn’t wear religious clothes.
A Swedish court on Thursday found a TV journalist guilty of human trafficking
for helping a Syrian boy migrate to the country and gave him a suspended
the spring of 2014, Fredrik Onnevall was filming a documentary about the
response of European nationalist parties to the migration crisis when he met
the 15-year-old boy in Greece.
with two colleagues, Onnevall helped "Abed", which is not his real
name, travel to Sweden.
and exhausted, the teenager was travelling alone and asked Onnevall to help him
get to Sweden to join his cousin.
took 10 to 15 minutes maybe for me to get that question into my head, and to
understand what he was asking me and to make up my mind," the 43-year-old
journalist told AFP in an interview last month in the southern Swedish town of
Malmo just prior to the start of his trial.
became more clear when it came down to that very question: 'What decision will
I be able to live with in the future for myself?'," he said.
lawyers had called for an acquittal on the grounds that he acted out of
compassion and concern for the boy's fate.
the Malmo district court found him guilty of human trafficking and gave him a
suspended sentence and ordered him to complete 75 hours of community service.
the court noted the SVT team had acted for purely humanitarian reasons, it said
"jurisprudence leaves little scope to acquit someone for that
journalist said he would appeal the ruling.
is no surprise because I was prepared for all scenarios," he told AFP.
district court is only the first legal step and I hope the appeals court will
come to a different conclusion," he added.
two colleagues, a cameraman and an interpreter, received the same sentence.
2015 -- when the number of asylum applications in Sweden soared (from 80,000 in
2014 to 160,000 in 2015), requiring the country to halt its generous refugee
policy -- the number of cases of people helping illegal immigrants come to
Sweden has skyrocketed.
more playtime,” said the French presidential candidate Marine le Pen in a
speech in December, as she called for an end to free education for the children
of undocumented immigrants. “I tell them: If you come to our country, don’t
expect to be taken care of.” Le Pen, who leads the far-right National Front
party, could reach the final round of the French presidential election this
May, and has routinely decried the multiculturalism—described with the
nefarious term communautarisme, or “communitarism”—that she and her supporters
believe is undermining the French social fabric.
no surprise that, in an electoral climate increasingly defined around perceived
threats to French identity, Le Pen chose to insulate schools from migrants,
whom she has demonized throughout her political career. Announcing the start of
her campaign on Saturday, Le Pen promised to rescue France from the “rule and
threat of fundamental Islamism,” describing a Muslim agenda to impose gender
discrimination, prayer rooms at the workplace, and a host of threats to
schools, considered the ultimate incubator of French identity, have long been a
battleground over questions of assimilation and religion, particularly
pertaining to Muslim immigrants and their children. But following the January
2015 attacks at the offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a kosher
supermarket—a massacre waged by French citizens that unleashed a wave of terrorist
violence and has led to a seemingly indefinite state of emergency—schools have
become even more central to debates over immigration, social cohesion, and
France reeled from the attacks at Charlie Hebdo, politicians called for unity
around what they saw as an assault on French ideals. Yet, as the nation paused
for a moment of silence for the victims on January 8, 2015, many observers were
alarmed when some Muslim students refused to participate, or openly sympathized
with the attackers. In poor suburbs of Paris, some students argued that the
attacks were staged with the aim of demonizing Muslims. “No, we are not
Charlie,” they said, in reference to Je Suis Charlie, or “I am Charlie,” the
slogan that became an international refrain of solidarity after the attacks.
More than 200 such incidents were recorded that day. The attackers had
denounced Charlie Hebdo’s depiction of the prophet Muhammad—a reason many of
the students were reticent to align themselves with the publication.
Francois Hollande’s government, the refusal of certain students to side with
Charlie indicated the failure of French schools to train citizens unified in
their French identity, with implications not just for social harmony but for
security. A major element of that identity is laïcité: the legally enshrined
secularism that has formed the backbone of French social and political culture
since 1905. Laïcité goes beyond the U.S. interpretation of separation of church
and state in an attempt to create an almost post-religious society. Critics,
however, contend that it has departed from its original intent and, in a tense
social climate, disproportionately targets Muslims. Its proponents argue that
it maintains neutrality, helping to forge a cohesive French society, and serves
as a bulwark against the appeal of religious fundamentalism at a time when over
1,000 French people have traveled to Iraq and Syria to join the so-called
should permit social cohesion and allow a ‘vivre ensemble’ that transcends
differences of origin or spirituality,” Béatrice Mabilon-Bonfils, a French
sociologist who focuses on integration and social cohesion in public schools,
explained in an email. “Yet it has been manipulated by the left and right—it’s
at the heart of a moral panic, a defense mechanism that collectively identifies
enemies.” For Mabilon-Bonfils, the interpretation of laïcité has never been so
extensive or politicized as it is today, a transformation only compounded by an
electoral campaign dominated by right-wing candidates who insist on a cultural
battle between France and Islam.
push-and-pull between laïcité and social cohesion is particular to the French
context. But understanding these tensions is, perhaps more than ever,
applicable to the United States under Donald Trump. A nationalist agenda that
alienates swaths of society—either through rhetoric or policy—has concrete
implications for national security; the exaltation of extremist groups like the
Islamic State, which have used Trump’s Muslim ban as a rallying cry for their
fundamentalist agenda, is a testament to this. These parallels should not be
over French identity—and how its secular foundations interact with a growing
Muslim population that, by some estimates, makes up 8 percent of the population
(the French census doesn’t classify by race or religion)—have long played out
in French schools. In 2004, a law banning religious symbols in public schools
passed with 93 percent approval in parliament. Although the law applies to all
religions, it was largely seen to target Muslims and has consistently been
referred to as the “headscarf ban” since its passage.
religious “neutrality” is a tenuous recipe for social harmony, particularly in
France, where Christian holidays are observed and nuns seem to get far less
attention for their wardrobe than do burkini-clad beach-goers—not to mention
the concrete inequalities Muslims face, particularly in access to the job
market. Anti-Muslim hate crimes spiked following Charlie Hebdo and have
continued apace since, particularly following the subsequent terrorist attacks
in Paris and Nice. If Muslim students, by virtue of their religious and ethnic
identity, don’t feel French in their lives outside of the classroom, a
reinforcement of so-called Republican values in schools will only deepen that
sentiment of marginalization.
refusing to profess solidarity with Charlie, then, Muslim students were in part
rebelling against the imposed neutrality laïcité entails. Yet faced with signs
of discontent among French Muslims, the government concluded that more
secularism, not less, would be the solution. “We have to re-appropriate the
concept of laïcité so we can explain to our young pupils that whatever their
faith, they belong to this idea and they’re not excluded,” French Education
Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said in a speech on January 22, 2015, as she
announced 11 measures aimed to reinforce Republican values in schools. In a
televised address, Vallaud-Belkacem, who herself is of Moroccan origin,
denounced in earnest the politicization of laïcité, stressing its role as a
force of unification rather than division.
the measures aimed to deepen the instruction and comprehension of—and adherence
to—the principles of laïcité. If successful, Vallud-Belkacem said, the
initiative could transform students into citizens, allowing them to transcend
individual differences to become part of a collective and unified France. That
implies that the students who rejected Charlie were, by virtue of their
dissent, failing to properly exercise citizenship. Worse, according to some
political observers, their questioning of the French values espoused by Charlie
Hebdo veered on complicity with terrorism; the edict was aimed primarily at
schools in heavily Muslim suburbs, increasingly seen as a potential source for
recruits for radical movements.
the majority of French nationals who have been tempted by groups like ISIS
aren’t religious—or at least they don’t start out that way. Even if their
families are Muslim, they’re overwhelmingly non-practicing; 70 percent of
European jihadis have come from atheist, Catholic, or non-practicing Muslim
families. In a 2015 interview, Dounia Bouzar, the director of a French NGO
established in 2014 to combat radicalization, told me that the “jihadis
radicalizing youths hardly talk about Islam at all ... Islam is just the final
polish” and added that “the majority of youths radicalized in France have never
set foot in a mosque, and others have never seen Muslims.” But the politics of
laïcité preclude a frank classroom discussion about Islam, making it more
likely for extremism to be confused with authenticity and doing little to
dispel the stereotypes about Muslims that feed Islamophobia.
new measures overlook that reality, instead opting for a moralistic crusade in
the form of “moral secularism” classes, laïcité training for teachers, and an
annual day of laïcité. Students and parents are required to sign the so-called
laïcité charter, which was introduced in schools in 2013—and denounced by
Muslim groups in France—to affirm their commitment to the values it enshrines.
Mabilon-Bonfils sees the measures as counterproductive and reactionary. “The
aftermath of Charlie Hebdo gave rise to a sort of one-upmanship around a
laïcité seen as a defensive response rather than a project for social cohesion
drawing on elements of a politicized ideology to reverse or resolve problems
stemming from its very politicization is a flawed strategy. “For the majority
of students, laïcité is a notion that evokes restrictions, interdictions, even
vexations,” a Marseille schoolteacher told Le Monde in 2015. “It’s interpreted
as, ‘schools don’t accept that we have a religion.’ They have the feeling to be
relegated to the periphery because of their origin or religion.”
report identifies discrimination against minorities in India
In India, hate crimes against religious minorities, their social boycotts and
forced conversions have escalated dramatically since 2014, says a US government
report — “Constitutional and Legal Challenges Faced by Religious Minorities in
India” — examines the country’s constitution and national and state laws that
discriminate against religious minorities and Dalits.
US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which sponsored the
study released on Wednesday, is a US federal government agency and its reports
are issued by the US State Department as an official document.
USCIRF urges the US government to put this issue at the heart of trade and
diplomatic interactions with India.
is a religiously diverse and democratic society with a constitution that
provides legal equality for its citizens irrespective of their religion and
prohibits religion-based discrimination,” said USCIRF Chair Thomas J. Reese.
the reality is far different. In fact, India’s pluralistic tradition faces
serious challenges … (and) during the past few years, religious tolerance has
deteriorated and religious freedom violations have increased in some areas of
reverse this negative trajectory, Dr Reese urged the Indian and state
governments to align their laws with both the country’s constitutional
commitments and international human rights standards.
study notes that of India’s 1.2 billion people nearly 80 per cent are Hindus,
with an estimated 172.2 million Muslims, 27.8 million Christians, 20.8 million
Sikhs, and 4.5 million Jains. The Muslim population makes India the third
largest Muslim country in the world, after Indonesia and Pakistan.
study notes that of the 29 states in India, seven — Gujarat, Arunachal Pradesh,
Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh — have
adopted anti-conversion laws that encourage inequitable practices against
report claims that “both by their design and implementation”, anti-conversion
laws “infringe upon the individual’s right to convert, favour Hinduism over
minority religions, and represent a significant challenge to Indian
governments have used these laws to prevent Christian missions from providing
humanitarian and development aid to certain communities, arguing that such
assistance encourages “improper and unethical conversions”.
report claims that since the inception of India in 1947, various efforts were
made by the central government to pass nationwide legislation to control
religious conversions in India.
Special Marriage Act of 1954 includes provisions that deny converts to
non-Hindu religions (e.g., Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) of certain rights
and privileges. For instance, if either parent of a Hindu child converts to
Christianity or Islam, that parent loses the right to guardianship over the
Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act of 1956 disqualifies converts from Hinduism
to be the guardians of their own children. Similarly, under the law, a Hindu
wife who converts to Christianity or Islam loses her right to marital support
from her husband. Conversion from Hinduism can even be a basis for divorce.
the Freedom of Religion Acts, which are used to justify these practices, are
not enforced when the religious minorities are converted to Hinduism, which
instead is interpreted as Ghar Wapsi or homecoming.
encourages reconversion by “use of force, fraud, or allurement is not
punishable under the provisions of these acts”, the report alleged.
Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), passed in 1976 and amended in 2010,
is used consistently against civil society organisations, charities, and other
nongovernmental organisations (NGOs). Under this legislation, missionaries and
foreign religious organisations must comply with the FCRA, which limits
overseas assistance to certain NGOs, including ones with religious affiliation.
the Indian government has been accused of targeting human rights activist
Teesta Setalvad and her husband, Javed Anand, for allegedly violating the FCRA
and receiving funds unlawfully. Mrs Setalvad is renowned for her supportive
endeavours for victims of the 2002 anti-Muslim Gujarat riots.
report also examines India’s cow protection laws, which, it says, are often
mixed with anti-Muslim sentiment.
of the most recent and clear examples of Muslim persecution through the
politics of cow protection is the killing of Mohammad Akhlaq by Hindu mobs in
Akhlaq, 50, was dragged from his home in the village of Bisara — 72 kilometres
from Delhi — and beaten to death by an angry Hindu mob due to rumours that his
family had been eating beef and storing the meat in their home.
in Dawn, February 10th, 2017
new army in Kashmir, Lashkar turns to rural homes
Friday morning, Manzoor Ahmad Magray huddled in a corner of the mosque in the
south Kashmir village of Nowpora Payeen, clutching a pistol and a grenade,
thinking about whether his life might be redeemed by death. The police, waiting
outside, sent in his father, an ageing agricultural labourer, to urge his son
to come out; officers, as well as village notables, assured the teenager he
would be treated well. This wasn’t the way his friends in the Lashkar-e-Taiba
had taught him: the road to redemption and manhood went to death.
Asks Banks To Track Demand Drafts Used To Convert Old Notes To New During
since Pakistani authorities placed Lashkar chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed under
house arrest last week — he is yet to face criminal prosecution though —
there’s been no sign that its training facilities for Kashmir jihadists are
being shut down. That could yet become a possibility, though, if Pakistan’s
fears of facing sanctions from the United States’ new administration are
that outcome, Pakistan’s intelligence services have already begun to prime
organisations like the Jaish-e-Muhammad. But more important, they’re turning to
a new generation of jihadists inside Kashmir, like Magray: in the main,
children from underprivileged rural homes, who have grown up battling Indian
forces with stones on the streets of Kashmir.
Friday, the prayers of an elderly father and the compassion of Jammu and
Kashmir Police officers kept a young man from meeting his end. There are record
numbers of young Kashmiris in the Lashkar ranks, though: men who have never
trained in a jihad camp, have had no contact with Islamist seminaries, but
could yet turn into the terrorist group’s new army.
intelligence services monitoring Lashkar’s operations across the Line of
Control say Saeed’s detention has had no on-ground impact on the group’s
training facilities and bases. The Markaz Taiba camp near Mansehra — alma mater
to 26/11 attacker Muhammad Ajmal Kasab as well as Muhammad Naveed, captured
alive last year — is still running, sources told The Indian Express. The
group’s other major facilities in the area, like the camp at Atter Sheesha, are
also reported to be active.
oldest Lashkar facilities near Muzaffarabad are also still running, Indian
intelligence believes: Umm-ul-Qura (which trained several Indian nationals
including alleged Indian Mujahideen operative Sadiq Israr Sheikh), Aqsa and the
Abdullah Bin Masood camp, which offers specialised training.
the 26/11 attacks, several of these camps were shut down, amidst fears India
might use air power to retaliate against the Lashkar. However, the camps soon
resumed functioning again. Muzammil Bhat, a one-time Lashkar commander in
Kashmir who played a key role in the planning and execution of the 26/11
attacks, is thought to have been given a large role in the group’s operations.
November, following India’s strikes across the Line of Control, the Lashkar
reorganised some of its organisational apparatus, juggling the guides who take
groups into Kashmir, and making efforts to camouflage homes where groups
shelter for the last stage of their journey more effectively. However, the
impact of these changes is yet to be felt.
infiltration has taken place this last month because of heavy snowfall,” an
Indian intelligence official notes, “and there was dislocation before that
because of the cross-Line of Control strikes after Uri. But we think the
Lashkar will step it up a little after the snow settles down.”
long-term plan, though, appears to be to make the Lashkar inside Kashmir
autonomous of its Pakistani leadership. “The recruits we’ve arrested give us a
picture of two Lashkars, almost,” says one police officer, “a Pakistani Lashkar
which focuses on fidayeen strikes and attacks on the Srinagar-Jammu highway,
and a Kashmiri Lashkar which has been told to recruit among local communities,
intimidate local workers of the PDP or National Conference, and so on.”
by Abid Magray, a childhood friend of Manzoor Magray and resident of Nowpora
Payeen, the Lashkar unit rarely left the small belt of Pulwama its members grew
up in, police officers familiar with the case say. They had all joined together
when protests against India began after Hizbul commander Burhan Wani was killed
in 2016, and looked to their cohort of stone-throwing teenagers to draw from.
in the group, though, had a gun; none were trained in using one. There was no
education in the tradecraft of insurgency, like surviving in jungle conditions,
evading detection, using explosives or planning ambushes. “For now,” an Indian
intelligence officer says, “the Lashkar is just flying its flag. The next stage
will be getting resources to this fledgling army.”
core Lashkar leadership in Kashmir, led in Kashmir by a jihadist code-named Abu
Dujana, has offered neither training nor weapons to the group, police say; instead,
it was left largely to its own means. “They did not consult even on their
day-to-day plans,” an officer who questioned Magray said, “possibly because
they did not want to be compromised.”
the first two Lashkar commanders in Kashmir, Abu Maaz and Muzammil Bhat, who
returned to Pakistan, the rest — Qari Saifullah, Abdul Reshman, Atif, a second
Abdul Rehman and Qasim — died in combat in the state.
An RSS leader has been arrested in connection with the murder of P. Faizal
alias Anil Kumar months after he converted to Islam.
to Indian Express report, police have identified Madathil Narayanan, a RSS
pracharak and saha karyavahak in Tirur taluk as the key conspirator who
scripted and executed Faisal’s murder.
the murder, he had gone into hiding but on Tuesday surrendered before the Crime
Branch investigating team.
to an upper-caste Hindu Nair family, Faisal, 32, had reverted to Islam a few
months before he was murdered.
November 19 last year, Faisal was on his way to the local railway station to
pick up his parents-in-law, but was hacked to death by a gang of unidentified
men who were later identified as Sangh Parivar workers.
far, 14 other workers of BJP or RSS have been arrested in connection with the
year-old Narayanan is a hardcore criminal who is also the first accused in the
murder of a priest Ayyappan in 1998. The priest (Yasir) was also murdered after
he embraced Islam.
District and Sessions Court had acquitted Narayanan and five others, but the
High Court found him guilty and sentenced them to life imprisonment. However,
last July, the Supreme Court acquitted all accused including Narayanan.
says 'secret nuclear city' in India; 'a figment of Pak's imagination,' responds
DELHI: India has termed as "figment of imagination" Pakistan's
contention that it is building a "secret nuclear city", saying it is
a "diversionary tactic" to deflect attention from issues like
Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and harbouring of terrorists.
on Thursday claimed that India has accumulated a stockpile of nuclear weapons
which threatens to undermine the strategic balance of power in the region.
Office (FO) spokesman Nafees Zakaria made the remarks at the weekly press
briefing while expressing concern over the "Indian defence buildup".
is building a secret nuclear city...It has accumulated a stockpile of nuclear
weapons which threatens to undermine the strategic balance of power in the
region," he claimed.
also alleged that India has been conducting tests on inter-continental missiles
which would "disturb the strategic balance in the region."
to his remarks, external affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, "These
are completely baseless allegations. The so-called secret city appears to be a
figment of the Pakistan imagination. India has always been in compliance with
all its international obligations. This is a very strange statement coming from
a country that does not have a separation plan and has a strong record of
proliferation which is well known to the world."
has very different credentials. So, clearly this shows a lack of comprehension.
Furthermore, there is no doubt that this is a diversionary tactic by Pakistan
which aims to deflect attention from the real issue at hand - the continued
state sponsorship of terrorism by Pakistan and its harbouring of
internationally designated terrorists," he said.
about comments by Pakistan Planning and Development Minister of Pakistan Ahsan
Iqbal regarding peace talks with India after the ongoing state assembly
elections in five states, he said it is not state elections in India but state
terrorism by Pakistan which has stood in the way of a peaceful bilateral
Rashid Abdulla, wanted in connection with the Kerala ISIS case, used collective
farming as a disguise to bring together and radicalise young Muslim men who
allegedly went on to join ISIS. Abdulla had also voiced his support for the
attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015, according to the charge
sheet filed by National Investigation Agency.
agency claimed that Rashid had been employed with Peace Foundation, Kozhikode,
as head of its ‘other cognitive areas’ department since 2012, and that he would
criticise democracy during discussions with colleagues. “They also supported
the Charlie Hebdo attack in France and Abdul Rashid argued in support of it,”
read the charge sheet.
DELHI: The National Investigation Agency has filed a chargesheet against Arshi
Qureshi, an employee of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik's NGO IRF,
for allegedly spreading hatred against India, radicalising youngsters and
providing support to IS.
with Qureshi, NIA has named in its chargesheet one Abdul Rashid Abdulla alias
Rashi, who is absconding.
Kasargod-based person had alleged that his son Ashfaq Majeed and his associates
were indoctrinated into extreme jihadi ideology by members of Islamic Research
Foundation. Arshi Qureshi, a guest relations manager with IRF, was arrested in
July last year for radicalising Majeed and others from the Kerala IS module.
22 men and women from these two districts in Kerala went to IS-held territory
last year after they were radicalised. "Abdulla showed them videos of IS
and also gave them lectures on violent jihad. He also financed the travel and
stay of some of the missing youths," said NIA.
DELHI: India has issued a demarche (diplomatic missive) to China regarding its
continued block on a UN ban on Jaish-e-Muhammed+ leader Masood Azhar. The MEA
confirmed on Thursday demarches had been served to the Chinese embassy in New
Delhi and in the foreign office in Beijing by the Indian embassy.
blocked once again, a joint move by the US, UK and France+ to proscribe Masood
Azhar in the UNSC 1267 committee. The move, made on January 19, saw 14 members
out of 15 agreeing to the ban, but China's block prevented it from happening.
Responding to the Chinese foreign ministry statement that there was "no
consensus", MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup told journalists, "if there
is a change in the Chinese position, there will be consensus as well ..."
also refuted the Chinese stand that India and Pakistan should talk to each
other on the issue. "It is our understanding that this was a classic
counterterrorism proposal meant to proscribe a dreaded terrorist leader Masood
Azhar whose organisation the Jaish-e-Muhammed has already been proscribed by
the UN 1267 Committee. We don't view this as a bilateral matter between India
and Pakistan but as an issue of global counter terrorism. We hope that
eventually China will also come around to accepting this view."
India will be sending a delegation led by Gopal Baglay in charge of the
Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran desk in MEA, to a Russia-sponsored conference on
Afghanistan in Moscow on February 15.
10, 2017- A National Human Rights Commission’s initiative to heal the rift
between Hindu and Muslim communities in Basbariya settlement of Bidhyanagar
VDC-2, Kapilvastu, has offered hope to its inhabitants, who were living in fear
for the last few months.
two communities had fallen out over a disagreement during a Durga Pooja
procession in October last year, which has led to two incidents of clashes, an
alleged lynching of a Hindu man by a mob of Muslim men on December 12, and mass
desertion of Muslim families from the settlement.
restore the harmony, the NHRC recently organised a public function for
reconciliation in the settlement, where Hindu leader Darbari Yadav and Muslim
leader Moid Khan appealed to the Basbariya residents to put their differences
behind and encouraged to live in harmony and to respect one another.
member Mohna Ansari said the incidents of violence will be investigated and the
guilty will be booked.
have already arrested eight suspects while arrest warrants have been issued
against 16 others at large.
pamphlets create panic in Kurram Agency
ISMAIL KHAN - Militant group Islamic State has threatened to target Shias
living in certain northern areas of Pakistan. Hundreds of pamphlets containing
threats have allegedly been distributed by IS in the Kurram Agency, threatening
attacks in specific tribal areas, reported Voice of America (VOA) on Thursday.
have achieved our goals in Afghanistan and are now ready to confront Shia
renouncers in Pakistani's tribal areas," the IS pamphlet in Pashto said.
distributed in Sunni majority areas too, the pamphlet threatens to target Shias
in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), as well as in Dera Ismail Khan
and Hangu cities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The areas mentioned in the pamphlet are
home to a considerable Shia population.
could not independently confirm the authenticity of the pamphlet.
local government official acknowledged, on the condition of anonymity, that
pamphlets were distributed, but said the government is investigating whether
these came from IS or others. He said the areas mentioned in the pamphlets are
under government control.
are on the front line of the war against militancy and, therefore, our security
is tight," the official added.
military has been carrying out an operation to clear out militants in the
region since 2014. The government is demanding local tribes in the region
surrender their weapons to decrease militancy. The weapons surrender is part of
Hussain, an elder of a Shia tribe called Tori, expressed concern that the
government is demanding Shias in the region surrender their weapons while
facing such threats. "We would not have bought these weapons if we had no
threat," Hussain told VOA. "I have told my tribe living on the border
that they have to defend themselves."
Tori tribe recently faced a suicide attack claimed by a splinter group of the
Pakistani Taliban, which reportedly is supporting IS. Islamic State reportedly is
attempting to establish a footprint in the Kurram Agency and has been
recruiting local men into its ranks.
Pakistani government says it will take action against those involved in
distributing the pamphlets. "The government is going to take strict measures
if IS has distributed pamphlets in Kurram Agency and other parts of Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa," lawmaker Tahir Iqbal, who is a member of the ruling Pakistan
Muslim League-Nawaz, told VOA. "The government will not spare anyone
involved in printing or spreading hate material or pamphlets."
terror group has also been active in parts of neighbouring Afghanistan for the
past two years. Kabul has said many of the IS fighters in Afghanistan belong to
the Orakzai tribe in Pakistan.
say the military operation in the tribal areas of Pakistan has cleared out the
top layer of militancy, but the sleeper cells and sympathisers still exist and
have the capacity to plan and attack. "It is almost impossible to fully
prevent the spread of the group in the current circumstances," security
analyst Said Nazir Mohmand, who is associated with the Islamabad-based
Institute of Policy Studies, told VOA. "Such groups can easily be
eliminated if there is peace in Afghanistan."
foreign ministry officials from Russia, China and Pakistan met in Moscow in
December to discuss what they said was a "gradually growing" threat
to their frontiers posed by Islamic State extremists in Afghanistan.
ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani activist abducted last month has
broken his silence on his weeks-long disappearance, but is refusing to point
fingers in a country where criticising extremism or the security establishment
can make you a target.
Waqass Goraya was among five activists who vanished in Pakistan in early
Rights Watch, opposition lawmakers and Pakistani activists have said their near
simultaneous abductions pointed to government involvement in a country with a
history of enforced disappearances.
was freed at the end of January along with at least three others and swiftly
fled back to the Netherlands, where he has lived for the last decade.
felt I would never come back, I would never see my son and family," the
34-year-old IT worker told AFP during a phone interview in which he frequently
who like the other activists criticised religious extremism and the military
establishment, refused to say anything about his captors or describe what
happened during his ordeal, which began after he was abducted on January 4
shortly after leaving his family home in Lahore.
he angrily rejected accusations that he was a traitor for daring to be vocal
about alleged abuses of power in Pakistan, insisting he was a true patriot.
was against Pakistan, nothing was against Islam, I was critical of policies
because I want to see a better Pakistan," he said, adding in a later
message: "We want a Pakistan with rule of law".
also said he fears that a virulent ultra right-wing campaign to paint him as a
blasphemer while he was missing has followed him to Europe.
charge, which engulfed Pakistani social media and was repeated by mainstream
television hosts, is an incendiary one that can carry the death penalty in the
conservative Muslim country.
unproven allegations have caused mob lynchings and violence.
least 65 people including lawyers, judges and activists have been murdered by
vigilantes over blasphemy allegations since 1990, according to the Center for
Research and Security Studies.
said allegations of blasphemy had surfaced on social media sites frequented by
the Pakistani community in the Netherlands, prompting him to seek police
looking over my shoulder -- I have been warned by people it is a crazy
has had a history of enforced disappearances over the past decade, but they
have mainly been confined to conflict zones near the Afghanistan border or to
southwestern Balochistan province, where separatists are battling for
and opposition politicians believe the disappearances in January were part of a
new strategy by the military -- which has ruled the country for nearly half its
existence and wields de facto control over security policy -- to stamp out
criticism and dissent online.
of UK ‘sex gang’ face deportation to Pakistan
Four men convicted of grooming girls for sex in a case that fuelled racial
tensions in Britain face deportation to Pakistan after a judge upheld a
government decision on Thursday to strip them of British citizenship.
ruling by an immigration tribunal clears the way for the men, all of Pakistani
nationality, to be removed from Britain. They acquired British citizenship by
were among nine men of Pakistani and Afghan descent convicted of luring girls
as young as 13 into sexual encounters using alcohol and drugs. They were based
in Rochdale, in northern England.
the four facing deportation is ringleader Shabir Ahmed, sentenced in 2012 to 22
years in jail. The other three are Adil Khan, Qari Abdul Rauf and Abdul Aziz.
Ahmed, who was convicted of rape as well as other charges, remains in custody,
while the other three men have been released on licence.
Rauf and Aziz were convicted on conspiracy and trafficking for sexual exploitation
charges. Aziz was not convicted of having sexual intercourse with any child.
judge at the hearing in the upper tribunal of the Immigration and Asylum
Chamber, Mr Justice McClosky, described their crimes as “shocking, brutal and
decision rejected claims concerning human rights laws and a complaint of
“disproportionate interference” with their rights.
Pakistan has all but eradicated the poliovirus, but the constant movement of
people across the border with Afghanistan makes it impossible to completely
wipe out the debilitating disease.
a recent meeting, the country’s polio managers informed international donors
that the virus is continuously travelling from Afghanistan to Pakistan and
revealed that a policy would be introduced to keep track of people who came
into the country.
the policy, those coming from Afghanistan will be vaccinated again and again to
ensure the virus is eradicated.
tracking policy to ensure repeated inoculation of Afghan visitors on the anvil
meeting, held recently in the federal capital, was also attended by
representatives of the Japanese, Canadian, German, Australian and Italian
governments, along with officials from the Islamic Development Bank, KfW
Development Bank, JICA, USAID, Rotary International, WHO, Unicef, the US Centre
for Disease Control and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others.
participant of the meeting, who asked not to be identified, told Dawn there
were three polio reservoirs in the country; Peshawar, Karachi and Quetta.
last polio case from Peshawar was reported in Feb 2015; in Karachi, the last
case was reported in Jan 2015. But in Quetta, the latest case was reported on
Dec 22, 2016. [The virus] is still active in this block,” he said.
is not that we have been failed to vaccinate the children of Quetta; we have
made all possible efforts, but the virus is continuously travelling from
Afghanistan into Pakistan. The poliovirus has been detected in Quetta, Pishin
and Killa Abdullah, since people from Kandahar and Helmand usually travel
here,” he said.
have taken up the issue with international donors and I believe they also
understand the issue, since they are also supporting the anti-polio programme
in Afghanistan and have access to all the relevant reports and data,” he said.
Rana Safdar, who heads the National Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) in
Pakistan, told Dawn that the same virus was found in the Quetta and Helmand
blocks, which is known as a ‘shared transmission area’.
have been vaccinating children on the Pakistan side of this block, but due to
security issues, the Afghan government has not been able to hold anti-polio
campaigns in its territory. As many as 570,000 children are being missed in
Afghanistan; they are the most common carriers of the poliovirus into
Pakistan,” he said.
confirmed that the issue was taken up with international donors.
the border, there are 22 vaccination points on the Pakistani side and 20 on the
Afghan side. Almost everyone crossing the border is vaccinated, but just one
dose cannot eradicate the poliovirus from the human body,” he said, explaining
the need for a tracking policy.
orders work on proposed Rohingya island
Bangladesh has ordered construction to start at a desolate island where it
wants to relocate tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees, an official said
Thursday, despite warnings the site is uninhabitable.
move comes as Human Rights Watch described as “ridiculous” claims by Bangladesh
that shifting the Rohingya to a barren island prone to monsoonal flooding would
improve their living conditions.
is seeking international support for its plan to relocate the Rohingya to
Thengar Char in the Bay of Bengal, an idea that caused outcry when first mooted
in 2015. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina deployed an aide to the remote island
Wednesday, who ordered construction begin on a jetty, helipad and visitor
facilities, the government official overseeing administration of Thengar Char
a Malaysian ship carrying aid for thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have fled a
bloody army crackdown arrived in Yangon Thursday, where it was met by
nationalist protesters. Health workers and activists crowded onto the deck of
the Nautical Aliya as it docked at Thilawa port near Myanmar’s commercial
capital carrying food, medical aid and clothing. Myanmar’s social welfare
minister was among a delegation meeting the ship, which has been at the centre
of a rare diplomatic spat with fellow ASEAN member Malaysia. Outside the
docking area, dozens of Buddhist monks and demonstrators waited waving national
flags and signs reading: “No Rohingya.” –AFP
want to let them know that we have no Rohingya here,” a Buddhist monk named
Thuseitta, from the Yangon chapter of the Patriotic Myanmar Monks Union, told
AFP at the docks.
denies citizenship to the million-strong Rohingya, despite many of them living
on its soil for generations.
nationalist groups are especially strong in their vitriol, rejecting them as
illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
of Rohingya are thought to have been killed in a brutal campaign launched by
security forces in October, which the United Nations says may amount to ethnic
of thousands have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, bringing harrowing tales of
murder and rape. Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya has sparked criticism from
Muslim-majority Malaysia, in a rare spat between Southeast Asian
neighbours. Myanmar initially refused to
allow the ship into its waters and has barred it from sailing to Rakhine’s
state capital Sittwe. Part of the aid
will instead be unloaded in Yangon and transported overland to the north of
Rakhine state, site of the military crackdown.
rest will be taken to Teknaf port in southern Bangladesh, where almost 70,000
Rohingya have fled since October to escape the violence.
government has also demanded that the aid be distributed to both Rohingya and
Buddhist ethnic Rakhines.
delivery comes days after a blistering report from the UN accused Myanmar’s
security forces of carrying out a campaign of rape, torture and mass killings
against the Rohingya.
on interviews with hundreds of escapees in Bangladesh, investigators said the
military’s “calculated policy of terror” very likely amounted to ethnic
months Myanmar has dismissed similar testimony gathered by foreign media and
rights groups as “fake news” and curtailed access to the region.
UN’s top official on preventing genocide, Adama Dieng, said this week that a
government commission tasked with investigating allegations of abuse was “not a
have rejected the state-appointed body, which is led by retired general and
Vice President Myint Swe and includes no Muslims, as toothless and biased.
a meeting on Wednesday Myint Swe admitted that “among the facts and accusations
included in the (UN) report, there may be something special to be investigated,”
state media reported.
Taliban insurgents killed in Uruzgan air and ground operations
Taliban militants suffered heavy casualties in the air and ground operations in
southern Uruzgan province of Afghanistan.
to the local security officials, the militants were killed in the vicinity of
Tarinkot district during the operations on Wednesday.
security chief Noorzai said at least eleven Taliban insurgents were killed and
more than ten others were wounded during the operations.
further added that a vehicle in custody of the militants was also destroyed and
several Improvised Explosive Device (IED) were confiscated.
Taliban militants group has not commented regarding the report so far.
local security officials did not disclose any information regarding the
possible casualties of the Afghan security forces during the operations.
is among the relatively volatile provinces in southern Afghanistan where the
Taliban insurgents are actively operating in some of its districts and often
conduct insurgency activities.
top US commander in Afghanistan said Thursday he needs a “few thousand” more
troops to better accomplish an integral part of the mission, and he complained
that Russian meddling is complicating the counter-terrorism fight.
John Nicholson didn't provide the Senate Armed Services Committee with an exact
number of additional forces, but said they could come from the United States or
other countries in the American-led coalition in Afghanistan, where the war is
now in its 16th year.
said they are necessary to properly train and advise the Afghan military and
perform work now handled at greater cost by contractors.
are currently about 8,400 US troops conducting counter-terrorism operations
against insurgents and training the Afghan army.
said he had discussed troop levels with Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and Gen
Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
said he believes the Trump administration will be open to a level based on
requirements, rather than a predetermined figure.
criticised President Barack Obama for trying, in their view, to cut the number
too sharply before he left office Jan, 20. But the idea of sending more
Americans to the war zone may not go over well with a public frustrated by the
length and cost of the conflict.
Elizabeth Warren, citing figures from the special inspector general for
Afghanistan reconstruction, said the war is costing US taxpayers $13 million a
also disclosed that a US special forces soldier was “severely wounded” in
fighting Thursday in Sangin, the Taliban heartland in southern Afghanistan.
said that because of troop level limits, the aviation brigade that deployed to
Afghanistan was able to bring its helicopters, pilots and staff, but had to
leave its mechanics behind at Fort Riley in Kansas.
were hired instead at a cost of “tens of millions of dollars,” forcing the
soldier mechanics to sit at home, he said, and affecting the Army unit's
said there is a 2-1 ratio of contractors to troops in Afghanistan.
response to a question from Sen Claire McCaskill, Nicholson said he doesn't
have enough troops to provide proper oversight of all those contractors.
contended that Russia has been publicly legitimising the Taliban by claiming
that the militants are fighting terrorists while the Afghan government is not.
He called that a “false narrative” and argued that Moscow's goal is to
undermine the United States and NATO in Afghanistan.
security forces have reduced by one-half the number of IS fighters and by
two-thirds the amount of territory the extremists hold, according to the
commander. He said declined to say in the open hearing whether Russia is
providing support for the Taliban and in what way.
the Kabul government, denied involvement.
Minister Sheikh Hasina has pointed a finger at arms producing nations for
militancy, terrorism and conflict in Muslim-majority countries.
attacks and bombing’ are especially prevalent in Muslim majority countries,
said the prime minister at a conference of imams on Thursday. "It was in
these countries that weapons were being mostly used."
who produces these weapons?” she said. “Who benefits? They shed the blood of
Muslims. They turn Muslim countries into battlefields. Who sells the weapons? I
urge you to think about it.”
prime minister was speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the National Imam
Conference at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre on Thursday.
believe in an evil version of Islam, and it is they who demean our religion
through militancy and terrorism,” she said.
final judgment is up to Allah. He will decide who is on the right path and who
is not. Why do they not have faith in Allah to judge them accordingly? Why do
they kill and say it is for religion?... You must teach people that Islam is a
peaceful religion that does not believe in believe in militancy. They will
listen to you.”
preaches solidarity and brotherhood. Our Koran says religion is a personal
prime minister urged the religious leaders to help out in the fight against
drugs and militancy affecting children and youth.
will also try and ensure we can increase our income through economic means. We
have discussed the possibility of an Economic Zone which shall be directed by
also discussed the growing global demand for Halal food.
I believe The Islamic Foundation can check if these foods and drinks are truly
being produced according to the requirements of Halal.”
prime minister also spoke of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s initiatives
regarding Islam and stressed the importance of religious education.
want to make education more public and more developed,” she said. “I believe
education cannot be complete without the study of religion. This is why we have
made religious education compulsory.”
prime minister brought up the possibility of establishing an Arabic University.
also discussed the provision of interest-free loans through the Imam-Muazzin
top leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group who
was involved in some of the major attacks in Kabul city has been killed, the
ARG Presidential Palace said.
to ARG Palace, Qari Munib was killed during a counter-terrorism operation
conducted on 13th January in Achin district of Nangarhar.
Munib was involved in some of the major attacks in Kabul city, including a
deadly attack on protesters in Kabul and attack on Baqir-ul-Uloom mosque in
west of Kabul city that left scores of people dead or wounded.
was also involved in an attack on Nepali security guards in Kabul city late
Palace said the ISIS leader was targeted in line with the President Ghani and
National Security Council’s instructions and in join coordination with the
coalition forces based in Afghanistan.
operation against Qari Munib was a part of the ongoing counter-terrorism
operations being jointly conducted to ascertain, approach, and target top
commanders of the terrorist groups in the country, ARG Palace said.
Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and US President Donald Trump discussed issues of mutual
interest during a phone conversation earlier tonight.
Office of the President, ARG Palace, said the two leaders discussed
counter-terrorism and other issues, including Afghanistan and regional security
as well economy.
Ashraf Ghani and President Donald Trump discussed counter terrorism,
Afghanistan and regional security, economy & other bilateral issues over
the phone,” Shah Hussain Murtazvi, a presidential palace spokesman said.
is the first official telephone conversation between the two leaders since the
US presidential inauguration.
spoke with President Ghani after he was declared as the US president-elect
earlier in December last year.
pledged US support to help develop the economy of Afghanistan, noting the vast
potential Afghanistan has in natural resources.
reports emerged suggesting that Trump had pledged more troops for Afghanistan
in a bid to prevent further deterioration of security in the country
killed in Yemen western port clashes
combatants were killed on Wednesday in the battle for a key coastal town in
western Yemen between government forces and Houthi militias, officials said.
deaths occurred as forces loyal to President Abedrabbo Masnour Hadi advanced
into neighborhoods of Mokha and Houthis retreated to northern and western parts
of the town, military sources said.
backed by the Arab coalition entered the strategic port town in late January as
part of their efforts to drive the militias away from the Red Sea coast.
clashes on Wednesday killed 24 Houthis, including 12 whose bodies were taken a
hospital in Mokha, medical officials said.
other 12 were militias whose remains were found by advancing troops and later
buried in Mokha, a loyalist military official said.
soldiers were killed, military and medical officials said.
was Yemen’s main port serving as its export hub for coffee until it was
overtaken by Aden and Hodeida in the 19th century.
supporting Hadi, backed by the coalition, began a major offensive on January 7
to recapture the coastline overlooking the strategic Bab al-Mandab Strait.
than 400 combatants have been killed since government forces launched their
drive up the Red Sea coastline.
Police detained four ISIS suspects who were allegedly planning to carry out a
"sensational" attack in Turkey and seized 24 suicide attack belts,
officials said Thursday.
latest detentions came as CIA chief Mike Pompeo arrived in Turkey to discuss
the fight against the extremist group in Syria and Iraq, making his first
overseas trip since taking office.
suspects were put under custody in an anti-terror operation in Gaziantep, near
the border with Syria, according to Gaziantep provincial governor's office.
Police found the suicide belts — made with 150 kilograms of explosives and
fortified with metal pieces — as well as two automatic rifles, 14 kilograms (31
pounds) of TNT and other materials during the operation, it said.
were no details on the suspects' nationalities, who were allegedly taking
orders from high-level ISIS members in Syria. One suspect was wanted for
membership in a terror organization, according to the governor's office.
year, Turkey suffered a series of deadly attacks carried out by ISIS or Kurdish
militants and has stepped up anti-terrorism operations across the country. Some
750 people with alleged ISIS links were detained in a major police sweep in 29
Turkish provinces last week.
Turkish official said Pompeo was to meet with his Turkish counterpart, Hakan
Fidan, as well as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali
Yildirim in Ankara. The talks will include plans for a possible operation to
retake the Islamic State group stronghold of Raqqa, said the security official,
who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations.
visit follows a phone call between US President Donald Trump and Erdogan.
is hoping for a reset in relations with the United States that were strained
under the Obama administration over Turkish demands for the extradition of a
US-based cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey has accused of orchestrating a
failed coup. Turkey was also angered by US backing for Syrian Kurdish fighters,
since it considers them terrorists because of their links to outlawed Kurdish
rebels in Turkey.
said on Wednesday it had not suspended counter-terrorism operations with the US
government, despite controversy over a US commando raid on al-Qaeda militants
in which several civilians were also killed.
raid in al-Bayda province, approved by new US President Donald Trump, resulted
in a gun battle that left one Navy SEAL dead and an American aircraft a charred
wreck. Local medics said several women and children were killed.
officials told Reuters that Sanaa had not withdrawn its permission for the
United States to carry out special operations ground missions but had made
clear their “reservations” about the last operation.
statement by the Yemeni embassy in Washington said the government “stresses
that it has not suspended any programs with regards to counterterrorism
operations in Yemen with the United States Government”.
Yemeni government “reiterates its firm position that any counterterrorism
operations carried out in Yemen should continue to be in consultation with
Yemeni authorities and have precautionary measures to prevent civilian
President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi has met with the US ambassador to Yemen and
“made clear his reservations about the problems with the last operation,” a
senior Yemeni official told Reuters.
to work with Hadi
State Department said the United States would continue working with Hadi “and
his representatives to ensure that this important partnership remains solid in
order to ultimately eradicate” al-Qaeda and ISIS from Yemen.
Jan. 29 commando raid was only the second publicly acknowledged ground attack
by US forces in Yemen.
their millions, Iranians have filled the streets countrywide to relive the day
38 years ago when the nation’s hard-fought Islamic Revolution against the
former US-backed regime became victorious.
Friday morning, people from all walks of life started out the commemoration
rallies in different cities and towns across Iran to celebrate the anniversary
of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
February 11, 1979, the Iranian nation’s struggles and protests against the
tyrannous monarchial Pahlavi regime came to fruition under the leadership of
Imam Khomeini, the religious and spiritual leader who is known as the “great
architect of the Islamic Republic.”
the capital, Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani is set to address the
demonstrators at Azadi Square, preceded by celebratory parachuting and
officials are also joining the marches in Tehran.
year’s rallies are of higher significance and look set to be one of Iran’s
biggest as they coincide with a political maelstrom in Washington kicked up by
US President Donald Trump and his political point men against Tehran.
on the election trail and soon after taking office in January, Trump leveled
serious threats against the Islamic Republic, including a pledge to “tear up”
the nuclear accord between Tehran and P5+1 states, including Washington itself.
president also branded the country as the “terrorist state number one.” He has
also imposed fresh sanctions and issued an executive order blocking Iranians,
among nationals from six other Muslim-majority states, from travelling to
Muslim ban has currently been suspended by US courts, but Trump is pushing to
has once again slammed Washington’s recent belligerent rhetoric and measures
against Iran, saying the world is currently witnessing age-old enmity of the
United States towards the Islamic Republic under the administration of
President Donald Trump. Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi made
the remarks on Thursday in response to the latest anti-Iran claims by White
House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
Iranian official said the news coming out every day on Trump’s decisions, false
remarks by some new US officials, in addition to widespread anti-Trump protests
both at home and abroad “clearly show a change of president in the US.”
taking office, the new US president ordered sweeping travel bans against a
number of Muslim-majority countries, including the Islamic Republic. The order
was followed by widespread domestic and international backlash.
further said, “There may have been changes inside the US, but what seems to
have remained unchanged is the US hostility toward Iran and the Iranians.”
Iranian nation and government have also remained unchanged in terms of their
resolve and determination to pursue independence, Qassemi said, adding that
Iranians are resolved to continue the path of “dignity, wisdom and vigilance”
in the face of enemy plots as well as excessive demands by the White House
Tuesday, Spicer claimed that “Iran is kidding itself if they don’t think
there’s a new president in town.”
House Press Secretary Sean Spicer speaks during a briefing at the White House
in Washington on February 7, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
further accused Tehran of trying to violate a nuclear deal signed by Iran and
the P5+1 group of countries – the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus
Germany – in July 2015.
claims came hours after Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali
Khamenei said the Iranian people would be responding to Trump’s anti-Iran
threats on the upcoming anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
says, ‘Fear me!’ No. The [Iranian] people will respond to these remarks [during
nationwide demonstration] on Bahman 22 (February 10) and will show what
position the Iranian people assume vis-à-vis threats,” the Leader said,
referring to the date on the Persian calendar coinciding with the victory
anniversary of the February 11, 1979 Islamic Revolution.
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