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Islamic World News (26 Mar 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)


Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar Says Trump’s Anti-Islam Remarks Inspire Attacks like Christchurch Shooting
















“We all kind of knew that this was happening,” Congresswoman Omar, a Somali immigrant, said.

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Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar Says Trump’s Anti-Islam Remarks Inspire Attacks like Christchurch Shooting

Hundreds of Muslims Rally Outside White House Post-NZ Attack

Trump Formally Recognises Israeli Control of Golan Heights

Christchurch to Kerala, Mosque To Mosque: Journey of Grief and Comfort

Saudi Arabia Joins Arab Anger over ‘Theft of Occupied Golan Heights’

Religion-Based Violence Biggest Threat to World’s Peace

Erdogan: Istanbul's Hagia Sophia Could Be Turned Into Mosque

More Than 80 Troops Dead As Taliban Step Up Attacks in Afghanistan

 

North America

Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar Says Trump’s Anti-Islam Remarks Inspire Attacks like Christchurch Shooting

Hundreds of Muslims Rally Outside White House Post-NZ Attack

Trump Formally Recognises Israeli Control of Golan Heights

Trump’s move on Golan will lead to war with Israel: Experts

US rabbi attack ad calls Muslim lawmaker anti-Semite

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India

Christchurch to Kerala, Mosque To Mosque: Journey of Grief and Comfort

J&K High Court notice to MHA on Plea Challenging Ban On Jamaat-e-Islami

Opening of Sharda Peeth in PoK can ease Indo-Pak tensions: Mehbooba Mufti

Muslim law board discusses content of submission to panel

Delhi man arrested for spying for ISI, says visited Pak 17 times in 18 years

31 properties of separatists in Jammu and Kashmir could be attached

India to deliver 4 gunship helicopters to Afghanistan in July

Bihar ATS arrest two Bangladeshi terror suspects from Patna

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Arab World

Saudi Arabia Joins Arab Anger over ‘Theft of Occupied Golan Heights’

Upcoming UAE Convention to Shed Light on Islamic View of Tolerance

Iraq’s religious leaders join hands to promote peaceful coexistence

Syria’s Kurds call for international court to try Daesh militants

Egypt refers 28 to court on charges of joining Daesh, Al-Qaeda

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Pakistan

Religion-Based Violence Biggest Threat to World’s Peace

China pumps in $2.2 billion in Pakistan's dwindling Forex reserves

Pakistan willing for nuclear non-proliferation: Army

Pakistan eyes package as IMF mission chief arrives today

4 suspected terrorists blow themselves up in Loralai raid: official

Nikah Khwan among 7 arrested over alleged forced conversion, underage marriages of Ghotki sisters

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Mideast

Erdogan: Istanbul's Hagia Sophia Could Be Turned Into Mosque

Israeli army accuses Hamas of firing rocket that hit near Tel Aviv

Romania, Honduras recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Saudi war has failed despite US support: Yemen's Houthi

Hamas denies involvement in rocket attack on Tel Aviv

Dozens of Houthis killed as battles rage in Yemen

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South Asia

More Than 80 Troops Dead As Taliban Step Up Attacks in Afghanistan

Bangladesh says no hurry to relocate Rohingya, in talks with UN bodies

Air strike kills 13 civilians, mostly children, in Afghanistan

Brunei praised for helping Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh share common views on regional issues

2 Chechen militants killed, wounded in Badakhshan artillery strikes

Pakistan’s PM suggests interim government setup to end impasse in Afghan peace process

Prominent Taliban leader Mullah Turab arrested in Nangarhar province

Airstrikes kill Taliban’s newly-appointed shadow intelligence chief for Sangin of Helmand

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Africa

Ethnic Violence Kills 136 In Mali, Army Generals Sacked

Somalia: Al-Shabaab Claims Attack on Government Building in Mogadishu

Boko Haram kills 7 Niger villagers near Nigeria border

Jordan king cancels Romania visit in Jerusalem Embassy row

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Europe

French Muslim Group Sues Facebook, YouTube Over Christchurch Footage

Pig’s Head Found at Site for Mosque in France

Three Russian servicemen killed in Syria

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Southeast Asia

Hadi Responds To Taliban Slur with Communist Jibe

Muslim lawyers want observer status in Arun Kasi contempt case

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/muslim-congresswoman-ilhan-omar-says-trump’s-anti-islam-remarks-inspire-attacks-like-christchurch-shooting/d/118132

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Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar Says Trump’s Anti-Islam Remarks Inspire Attacks like Christchurch Shooting

March 26, 2019

NEW YORK: One of the first two Muslim women in the US Congress, has accused President Donald Trump of inciting hatred of Islam and inspiring attacks like the killing of 50 people last weekend in a mass shooting at mosques in New Zealand.

Speaking at dinner hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Los Angeles, the newly elected Democratic Congresswoman, Ilhan Omar, said the New Zealand attack by a white supremacist fit a pattern of threats and assaults at American mosques and schools, according to American media reports.

“We all kind of knew that this was happening,” Congresswoman Omar, a Somali immigrant, said. “But the reason I think that many of us knew that this was going to get worse is that we finally had a leader in the White House who publicly says Islam hates us, who fuels hate against Muslims, who thinks it is OK to speak about a faith and a whole community in a way that is dehumanizing, vilifying.”

Trump, she told the crowd, “doesn’t understand, or at least makes us want to think that he doesn’t understand, the consequence that his words might have. Some people like me know that he understands the consequences. He knows that there are people that he can influence to threaten our lives, to diminish our presence.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said last week that it was outrageous to suggest Trump had any responsibility for the New Zealand shooting.

Before her speech at the CAIR’s fundraiser, more than 100 people staged a protest outside the hotel where she the was the guest speaker, the reports said. Police closed the street leading to the hotel and uniformed officers stood watch over demonstrators waving Israeli and U.S. flags and calling Congresswoman Omar an anti-Semite.

Several of them marched with an enlarged photo of Omar, with a swastika over her face and the slogan: “Your Hate Makes Us Stronger.”

Recent comments by Congresswoman Omar that were described as anti-Semitic led the House of Representative to pass a resolution condemning hate speech. She had said that pro-Israel advocates “push for allegiance to a foreign country,” and she’d apologized for suggesting money was the source of Israel’s influence in Washington.

Congresswoman Omar was applauded enthusiastically by the crowd at the dinner.

In her remarks, she mocked the protesters.

“There are thoroughly fascinating people outside who for so many years have spoken about an Islam that is oppressive, an Islam that lessens and isolates its women, and today they gather outside to protest a Muslim woman who is in Congress,” she said. “The irony in that is very entertaining to me.

“I don’t think many of them realize that people like myself, and many of the people in this room, could care less about what they have to say, because we know who we are, and where we belong, and what we stand for,” she added.

Congresswoman Omar, who wrote a column in The Washington Post last week backing a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/449139-muslim-congresswoman-ilhan-omar-says-trumps-anti-islam-remarks-inspire-attacks-like-christchurch-shooting

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Hundreds Of Muslims Rally Outside White House Post-NZ Attack

Anwar Iqbal

March 26, 2019

WASHINGTON: Hundreds of American Muslims and their supporters gathered outside the White House on Sunday to underline their dual identity as Muslims and Americans.

Shocked by the March 15 attack at a mosque in New Zealand that killed 50 worshippers, American Muslims are increasingly feeling the need to reach out to the wider community. “It made us realise that it’s not enough to continue to live in our comfort zones,” said Qazi Mannan, one of the organisers of the White House march. “We need to reach out to others and tell them who we actually are.”

The message was not lost on the larger American population.

Many visited mosques near their homes to express solidarity with their Muslim neighbours after the March 15 attack in New Zealand.

“You are welcome to live and worship here. You are loved as valued members of our community. May you never feel alone in the face of any adversary, for we stand with you,” said one of hundreds of messages placed outside mosques across the US.

Americans Christians, Jews, Sikhs and Hindus reached out to Muslim Americans, offering to jointly confront the hate and racism that in recent years has led to scores of attacks on religious institutions.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, urged Catholics to pray for the victims of the shooting and work with Muslims to confront hate.

The American Jewish Committee said it was “appalled by the murderous assaults”, and called the attackers “racist individuals imbued with pure hatred” of Muslims. “The answer must be unity, solidarity, and linked arms against evil,” the statement added.

“This horrific recurring pattern and epidemic of hate must end. No community or faith should ever feel unsafe in their house of worship,” said Sikh Coalition executive director Satjeet Kaur.

A strong message also came from a non-religious group, the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, which has been fighting for equal rights for people of all colours and creed since 1909.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1471891/hundreds-of-muslims-rally-outside-white-house-post-nz-attack

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Trump formally recognises Israeli control of Golan Heights

March 25, 2019

President Donald Trump signed a proclamation on Monday recognising Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, reversing more than a half-century of US policy.

Standing alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, Trump made formal a move he announced in a tweet last week. The president said it was time for the US to take the step after 52 years of Israeli control of the strategic highlands on the border with Syria.

Netanyahu had pressed for such recognition for months. Trump's action gives him a political boost weeks before what's expected to be a close Israeli election.

Israel captured the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war but its sovereignty over the territory is not recognised by the international community.

"Today, aggressive action by Iran and terrorist groups in southern Syria, including Hezbollah, continue to make the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks against Israel very violent attacks," Trump said.

"This should have been done numerous presidents ago," he added.

The two leaders met as the Israeli military was striking Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in response to a rocket that hit a house north of Tel Aviv and wounded seven people.

"Israel is responding forcefully to this wanton aggression,” said Netanyahu, who planned to return to Israel to manage the attack following his meeting with Trump and other US officials, including Vice President Mike Pence.

"Israel will not tolerate this. I will not tolerate it," he added.

In a speech earlier Monday, Pence said the rocket attack "proves that Hamas is not a partner for peace".

Pence told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that "Hamas is a terrorist organisation that seeks the destruction of Israel, and the United States will never negotiate with terrorist Hamas.”

The rocket destroyed a residential home in the farming community of Mishmeret, north of the city of Kfar Saba. The sounds of air raid sirens jolted residents of the Sharon area, northeast of Tel Aviv, from their sleep shortly after 5am, sending them scurrying to bomb shelters. A strong sound of an explosion followed. The Israeli military quickly mobilised troops and called up reserves, setting the stage for a potential major conflagration shortly before Israel's upcoming elections.

Netanyahu arrived in Washington on Sunday for what was to have been a three-day visit.

In his remarks, Pence also took issue with comments by Rep Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., that he said were anti-Semitic.

Omar, a first-term lawmaker who is one of two Muslim women in Congress, has alleged that congressional support for Israel reflected "allegiance to a foreign country" and that Israel "has hypnotised the world".

She also has accused Americans who support Israel of being bought off by campaign donations.

"Anti-Semitism has no place in the Congress of the United States, and any member who slanders those who support the historic alliance between the United States and Israel with such rhetoric should not have a seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee," Pence said.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1471816/trump-formally-recognises-israeli-control-of-golan-heights

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Christchurch to Kerala, Mosque To Mosque: Journey of Grief and Comfort

by Shaju Philip

March 26, 2019

Placed against a tree outside the iconic Cheraman Juma Masjid in Kodungallur, a coastal town in Kerala’s Thrissur district is a white board with a message that starts with two words in English: “Ineffable gratitude.” The rest of the message is in Malayalam: “For consoling a community, for giving hope and for being a model for the world, thanks.”

On Monday, over 11,000 km from Christchurch, where 50 people were killed in a blaze of gunfire inside two mosques on March 15, India’s oldest mosque and its faithful bowed in respect — to New Zealand, for bearing the tragedy with fortitude, and its Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, for showing the way.

It was the day Kodungallur received the body of Ancy, 23, who died in the shooting at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch. It was also the day she was buried at the Cheraman masjid, which is said to have been built in 629 AD.

After the burial, for which over hundred mourners had gathered, Imam Saifudeen Al Kasimi said: “This is not just a mayyath namaz (funeral prayer). It is a gathering against terrorism, extremism and racist fascism… God, let there be peace with the people of New Zealand and its Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern always. Let God give that country the strength to overcome this crisis. Let us pray for that nation, which kept the victims of the attack close to its heart.’’

Ancy had gone to New Zealand last year to pursue a diploma in agricultural engineering after completing her graduation in Kerala. She was one of the five victims from India; her husband P Abdul Nazer, who works at a store in Christchurch, escaped unhurt. At the condolence meeting, the mosque committee president Dr Muhammed Sayeed said: “We are sad that our Ancy is gone. But we have no reason to be desperate, because she became a martyr for a genuine, positive cause. This incident has shown how a nation (New Zealand) should behave towards its people. We salute that country.’’

Ancy’s husband Nazer, who had seen the attacker spray bullets inside the mosque, stood motionless. He had reached Kodungallur a day before his wife’s body arrived, along with a relative who works in New Zealand. Today, Nazer stepped back, leaving Ancy’s uncle Noushad K I, a trader in Kodungallur, to do the talking. “After Ancy’s father died five years ago, she was the hope of the family — her mother and a younger brother. She got married two years ago, and was to complete her diploma course next month. She had shared her happiness with her family recently… that she would soon get a job to support them. Now, everything is gone,’’ Noushad said.

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/christchurch-terror-attack-new-zealand-mosque-shooting-jacinda-ardern-kerala-5642609/

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Saudi Arabia joins Arab anger over ‘theft of occupied Golan Heights’

March 26, 2019

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia joined Arab states on Tuesday in condemning a decision by the United States to recognize the occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

Breaking decades of international consensus, US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation at the White House on Monday recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the border area that Israel seized from Syria in 1967.

Saudi Arabia firmly rejected the decision and affirmed its position that Golan Heights was occupied Syrian Arab land in accordance with the relevant international resolutions, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

Bahrain also released an official statement on Tuesday expressing their regret over the announcement made by US over Golan Heights.

The declaration, made by the US, is a clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law, the report said.

The US decision was a violation of Security Council resolutions 242 of 1967 and 497 of 1981, and would have devastating implications on the peace process in the Middle East, as well as security and stability in the region, Saudi Arabia’s official statement said.

Saudi Arabia called on all parties to respect the decisions of international legitimacy and the charter of the United Nations.

Meanwhile, the Arab League Secretary-General, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said that the decision “does not change the area’s status” as illegally occupied territory,

Syria said the decision was a blatant attack on its sovereignty.

“Trump does not have the right or the legal authority to legitimize the occupation,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.

Opposition chief Nasr Al-Hariri said Trump’s decision would “lead to more violence and instability, and it will have negative effects on efforts to engineer peace in the region.”

Lebanon said the move “violates all the rules of international law” and “undermines any effort to reach a just peace.”

“The Golan Heights are Syrian Arab land, no decision can change this, and no country can revisit history by transferring ownership of land from one country to another,” the Foreign Ministry said.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1472551/middle-east

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Religion-based violence biggest threat to world’s peace

Mar 26, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Religion-based violence and terrorism have become the biggest threat to the world’s peace and human survival and religious leadership should jointly devise a strategy to promote love and tranquillity among all religions, a joint declaration issued by representatives of all religions Monday said.

The conference titled increasing religious extremism and responsibilities of religious leaders was jointly organized by Muslim Christian Federation and International Peace and Education Foundation, urged leaders of all religions to come up with their collective wisdom at all levels to promote the dialogue, instead of fight and hatred.

Condemning the killings of 50 Muslims including nine Pakistanis in New Zealand, the declaration noted that condemnation of brutal practice by the majority of Western secular world was a powerful rejection to the creation of a clash between Islam and the West.

Soon after the New Zealand’s incident four mosques were attacked in Birmingham, indicates that if the matter will not be taken seriously the situation would gone out of control.

The declaration urged religious leadership to come out with a firm strategy and start the dialogue instead using power as Quran provides us the basis of principle for dialogue.

The conference announced making an International Council of Religious Leaders for the protection of human rights.

The council will decide unfaithful to persons and groups, who used the religion for any kind of violence and terrorism.

The act of terrorism on the name of religion will declare the war against religions, and their actions as a rebellion against religions.

A comprehensive system of mutual conferences at the national and international level will be set up for the leaders, teachers, and media persons of all religions to understand each other and to overcome misunderstandings.

The conference demanded considering hatred for any religion should be considered a crime, and legislation should be done as is western countries against the Holocaust. Media should not be allowed to promote hate-related contents against any religion it should be declared terrorism-related crime.

Peaceful co-existence and respect of other religions should be made a part of curriculum globally.

All mediums of social media should be made of a code of ethics, and to ban the hatred and hazardous content by referring to religions.

The conference appreciated New Zealand Prime Minister for summoning the chiefs of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft on March 27 to explain failure to stop live broadcast of New Zealand incident on social media.

The conference urged social media to share information of hatred with concern law authorities.

The conference applaud the roll of New Zealand’s prime minister to tackle the situation with great wisdom and courage.

The conference condemned terrorism against mosques in Birmingham and demand all such elements to be brought to the court of law.

Addressing the conference Council of Islamic Ideology Chairman Dr Qibla Ayaz urged the Muslim leaders to learn lesson from the incident. So far the negative aspects of Western have been highlighted in Islamic world and now we should start contemplating about positive aspects of Western world.

Western world especially Germany had welcomed refugees from Syria.

The extremist organizations of white people had been eliminated, he said adding that now the trend of white extremism was on the increase. However they are very few in numbers.

Muslims should make Hijrat-e-Habsha as case study. Religious leaders should strive promoting love and justice and avoid talking about hatred against any community.

He said the Council of Islamic Ideology in its forthcoming session of April 4 would discuss such issues in detail.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/03/25/religion-based-violence-biggest-threat-to-worlds-peace/

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Erdogan: Istanbul's Hagia Sophia could be turned into mosque

March 25, 2019

ANKARA: Istanbul's Hagia Sophia — a Byzantine-era cathedral that now serves as a museum — could be reconverted into a mosque, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

Erdogan made the comments during a television interview late on Sunday ahead of Turkey's March 31 local elections.

The former Byzantine cathedral had previously been converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of the city, then-known as Constantinople, in 1453. Turkey's secular founder turned the structure into a museum in 1935 that attracts millions of tourists each year.

There have however, been increasing calls for the government to convert the symbolic structure back into a mosque, especially following reports that the gunman who killed Muslim worshippers in New Zealand left a manifesto saying the Hagia Sophia would be "free of minarets."

Erdogan himself recited prayers inside the Hagia Sophia last year.

The suggestion that Hagia Sophia could be turned into a mosque drew ire in Greece.

"It is not only a great temple of Christendom — the largest for many centuries — it also belongs to humanity. It has been recognized by UNESCO as part of our global cultural heritage," Greek Foreign Minister George Katrougalos said. "So any questioning of this status is not just an insult to the sentiments of Christians, it is an insult to the international community and international law."

"We want to hope that the correct statements of March 16 by the Turkish leadership will be valid and there will be no change of this status," he added, in reference to a speech by Erdogan when he ruled out its conversation into a mosque.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1472421/middle-east

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More than 80 troops dead as Taliban step up attacks in Afghanistan

March 25, 2019

KABUL: Scores of Afghan troops have died in Taliban attacks, officials said Monday, even as peace talks continue to resolve the decades-old conflict.

Violence in the south concentrated on the Sangin and Marjah districts of Helmand province, where more than 80 army and police personnel have died since Saturday, lawmakers from the province told Arab News.

There have been devastating attacks this month in Afghanistan, with the Taliban targeting celebrations and festivals as well as military and law enforcement personnel.

“Unfortunately, the troop losses are huge. Some say over 80 have died,” MP Nimat Ghafari from Helmand told Arab News. “The Taliban want to show their presence and strength by increasing their attacks.”

Senator Hashim Alokozai said 65 troops died on Saturday in Sangin, while another 17 were killed in Marjah.

Omar Zwak, a spokesman for Helmand’s governor, said the Taliban had mostly attacked government troops stationed at outposts. He said the militants could not seize any territory and that they too had suffered “huge” casualties, mostly in drone air strikes. He could not give an exact death toll, but told Arab News that “dozens of security forces were martyred.”

A defense ministry spokesman in Kabul refused to comment about the Taliban attacks and reported casualties, the highest for months in a single province.

Ghafari said fighting continued on Monday in parts of Sangin, with the government relying on drones to hit Taliban sites as it was tough to dispatch troops on the ground.

Earlier this month Washington’s special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban held peace talks in Qatar, with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government sidelined from the sessions at the militants’ behest.

Khalilzad has been urging the Taliban to declare a cease-fire, something the insurgents are refusing to do.

With winter gone, the Taliban has also increased its attacks in the northern and northwestern provinces, residents said. Spring is the traditional fighting season for the insurgents.

The focus of the attacks has been the Qaisar district of Faryab province in the country’s northwest. Lawmakers from the province said several thousand families have been forced to leave their homes because of Taliban strikes and the intensification of fighting.

“Families have ended up in mosques, schools or rented houses. They live on scanty aid from the government and people,” MP Fatehullah Qaisari told Arab News.

Analyst Fazl Rahman Orya said the rise of Taliban attacks, and the increase of troop casualties, showed the government lacked the management and military capability for deploying troops and protecting them.

“The Taliban has not announced its spring offensive while the government has launched its offensive, named Khalid, but still the Taliban have the upper hand militarily,” he told Arab News. “Whoever has the upper hand in the war front will be able to speak from a position of strength and can impose its conditions on the other side easily.”

Also on Monday, the UN confirmed that 13 civilians had died in US air strikes in northern Kunduz province.

“The mission expresses serious concern that initial fact-finding indicates that 10 of those killed were children, part of the same extended family whom were displaced by fighting elsewhere in the country,” it said in a statement.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1472131/world

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North America

 

Trump’s move on Golan will lead to war with Israel: Experts

Mar 25, 2019

US President Donald Trump’s formal recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, a Syrian territory, has assured that Israel will be in a perpetual state of war with its Arab neighbors for many decades, according to experts.

Trump signed a proclamation recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Syrian territory on Monday as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump's Jewish son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner were standing at his side in the White House in Washington, DC.

For many Arabs, the decision destroyed any hope that there will one day be a negotiated peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians and increased doubts that Washington is an impartial mediator, analyst say.

Trump’s decision, following US recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital in December 2017, could also tempt other regimes to annex land, undermine Washington’s so-called peace plan between Israelis and Palestinians and tilt Israel back into conflict with its Arab neighbors, Middle East analysts say.

“Donald Trump has made sure that Israel will be in a perpetual state of war with its Arab neighbors for many decades to come,” said Fawaz Gerges, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics and author of the book Making the Arab World.

“What Trump has done is to hammer a deadly nail in the coffin of the peace process and Arab-Israeli reconciliation. This is a fundamental turning point. There is nothing left to discuss anymore," he told Reuters.

Trump’s move is, according to many analysts, partly intended to boost his own chances of re-election in 2020, by appealing to US evangelical Christians, a loyal voter base who believe that the gathering of the Jews in Israel is a prerequisite for the return of Jesus.

The announcement on the Golan Heights was the latest in a series of decisions that are widely seen as strategy to redraw the contours of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

In 1967, Israel waged a full-scale war against Arab territories, during which it occupied a large swathe of Golan and annexed it four years later, a move never recognized by the international community.

Jerusalem al-Quds was also occupied by Israel in 1967 and then annexed in a move that is legally repudiated internationally.

White House officials claim that the issues of Jerusalem al-Quds and the Golan Heights must be the basis for legitimate peace negotiations.

Dennis Ross, a veteran Middle East negotiator, suggested that US recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights could embolden the Israeli right-wing to step up its push for annexing settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

“I worry that the right in Israel can say ‘they recognized this. It will be a matter of time before we can annex all or part of the West Bank’,” he said. “That would be the end of the two-state solution.”

Trump’s aides have indicated privately that they believe his moves on Jerusalem al-Quds have provoked a less severe reaction in the Arab world than experts had predicted, a person familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity.

Aides’ advice to Trump on recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights was that Washington could again weather the storm, the same person said.

John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser and one of the administration’s leading Iran hawks, was an important proponent of the policy shift, the official said.

The Trump administration has identified Iran as its main target in the Middle East, and withdrew from an international nuclear deal signed by Tehran, the US and other world powers in 2015.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/03/25/591889/US-Trump-Golan-Israel

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US rabbi attack ad calls Muslim lawmaker anti-Semite

Umar Farooq

25.03.2019

WASHINGTON

An American rabbi purchased a full page advertisement in the Washington Post newspaper to attack congresswoman Ilhan Omar as anti-Semitic.

The ad, published on the opening day of the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference Sunday, attacked the Muslim lawmaker by directly comparing Omar's words with anti-Semitic language from the "The International Jew," "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" and "The White Man’s Bible".

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who calls himself "America's rabbi," took it to the AIPAC conference, where he presented it proudly, waving it at pro-Palestinian demonstrators protesting outside the Washington Convention Center.

The advertisement was posted days before Boteach will host top White House officials Thursday at a fundraising gala in Carnegie Hall.

The comparison was condemned by many on the left, including fellow Muslim congresswoman Rashida Tlaib.

"This is a false ad that only serves to incite violence toward a Black Muslim woman. It’s fear-mongering and we need to stand together and say this type of hate should not have a place in our newspapers or society," Tlaib tweeted.

James Zogby, founder of the Arab American Institute, called the ad "shameful".

"This full page ad was in today’s @washpost. It’s shameful - based on lies, bigotry, & fear. Who’s funding ⁦@RabbiShmuley⁩ slanderous campaign of incitement against ⁦@IlhanMN⁩? His 'gofundme' only raised $161. So who’s paying for this poison & why did the Post run it?" Zogby said on Twitter.

Earlier this month, Omar was attacked for comments she made criticizing Israel.

"I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country," Omar said, referring to Israel, at a progressive town hall meeting.

The remarks received widespread and bipartisan backlash, with others in Congress labeling them as anti-Semitic. It led to the introduction of a resolution by House Democrats seen as implicitly condemning the comments. However, the bill was later changed to condemn all forms of hate.

Omar has apologized for similar comments made, however, this time she doubled down on her comments, saying she has "not mischaracterized our relationship with Israel. I have questioned it, and that has been clear from my end".

Over the weekend the congresswoman travelled to Los Angeles, where she addressed a fundraising event hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Outside the Woodland Hills Hilton, where the fundraiser was being held, 1,000 people from Jewish and conservative groups protested Omar's appearance, according to local reports.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-rabbi-attack-ad-calls-muslim-lawmaker-anti-semite/1429366

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India

 

J&K High Court notice to MHA on plea challenging ban on Jamaat-e-Islami

March 26, 2019

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has issued notices to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs after a former Jamaat-e-Islami member challenged the ban on the socio-religious organisation. The MHA has been asked to file its response by April 22.

Mehraj Azeem (61), filed a petition before the High Court, saying the “respondents have not followed the procedure” and that banning an organisation without giving a chance to present its case is violative of the Constitutional safeguards.

Citing the voluntary services offered by the socio-religious outfit, the petition read, “Presumably even if certain material is available with the respondents the same would constitute an incriminating material against a single individual of the organisation and not against the organisation as a whole… the same has to be dealt in-accordance with the law of land and could not be used to muzzle and gag an entire political organisation having decades of existence.”

“The respondents have not followed the procedure while announcing the impugned notification. Respondents should have stated the grounds to support its declaration. Section 3(4) (publication of notification) and Rule 4 (additional mode of service of notification u/s. 3) lay down that the organisation which has been declared ‘unlawful’ must be served a copy of the notification,” Syed Musaib, the counsel for the petitioner said. “Subsequently, the government has not cared to form a single judge (High Court) tribunal as the same had to be done within 30 days of the impugned notification. Hence, the respondents cannot, at will, declare an association unlawful and proceed to use its executive powers against the association and its members. Banning an organisation without giving the latter a chance to represent its case ‘is violative of the Constitution safeguards’ as it has a drastic effect of curtailing the freedom under Article 19(1)(c) with immediate effect.”

On February 28, the MHA declared Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir as an “unlawful” association, banning it under Section 3 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/jammu-and-kashmir-high-court-notice-to-mha-on-plea-challenging-ban-on-jamaat-e-islami-5642659/

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Opening of Sharda Peeth in PoK can ease Indo-Pak tensions: Mehbooba Mufti

Mar 25, 2019

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti Monday said opening of Sharda Peeth temple in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) for Kashmiri Pandits can help India and Pakistan navigate the current impasse.

“Not too long ago I had written to PM imploring GoI to reopen Sharda Peeth, a temple across LoC for Kashmiri Pandits. An initiative like this at a time when Indo - Pak tensions are at an all time high could help navigate the current impasse,” Mehbooba said in a tweet.

The former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir was reacting to media reports that Pakistan has given green signal for the opening of Sharda Peeth corridor. Kashmiri Pandit organisations have been demanding opening of the Sharda Peeth corridor for many years now.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/opening-of-sharda-peeth-in-pok-can-ease-indo-pak-tensions-mehbooba-mufti/story-cISmbQAJmwqhkQOPBByiyO.html

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Muslim law board discusses content of submission to panel

by Abantika Ghosh

March 26, 2019

In an emergency meeting on the Ayodhya issue held on Sunday, the executive committee of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) discussed contents of its submission to the Supreme Court-appointed mediation committee later this week.

Sources said the committee members resolved that contents of the submission should be carefully framed to deter any political party from making it an election issue. The AIMPLB will make its submission to the five-member mediation committee led by former SC judge F M Ibrahim Kalifulla on March 27.

Committee members remained tight-lipped about the submission and cited the apex court’s order stressing on confidentiality to ensure success of the mediation process. AIMPLB executive committee member Kamal Farooqui said, “We have (always) maintained that we are very positive about mediation – only the resolution should keep in mind the dignity of both parties and uphold justice. We are positive. Now it is for the other side to make a proposal.”

Zafaryab Jilani, another member, said, “The court’s order is very clear: no party can disclose (to the media) either their own stand before the mediation panel, or the proceedings before the panel,”  In its March 8 order, the top court had held, “Court-monitored mediation proceedings will be confidential.”

Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind’s general secretary Mahmood Madani, who is a member of the executive committee but was not present in Sunday’s meeting, said: “Islam does not allow a mosque to be built on the ruins of a temple – it does not even allow construction of a mosque in a personal property even if that person is a Muslim. So all that really needs to be done in this case if to prove in court that a temple existed there before the masjid, and that the masjid was built on its ruins.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/muslim-law-board-discusses-content-of-submission-to-panel-5642660/

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Delhi man arrested for spying for ISI, says visited Pak 17 times in 18 years

Mar 26, 2019

The Rajasthan Police Monday arrested a 42-year-old man from Delhi for allegedly spying for Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI, officials said.

Mohammed Parvez was already arrested by the NIA for anti-national activities and was in judicial custody since 2017. He was brought here on Monday for interrogation, following which the state police arrested him, Additional Director General (Intelligence) Umesh Mishra said.

Parvez allegedly honey-trapped Indian Army soldiers through fake identity to collect confidential and strategic information and passed those to the ISI, which gave him financial support, the officer said.

During questioning Pervez revealed that he was in contact with ISI handlers and had travelled to Pakistan 17 times in the last 18 years, he said.

ISI gave all necessary support for passing confidential information, Mishra added.

Pervez got mobile SIM cards on photo and identity card copy of people on assurance of quick visa formalities done at the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi. Conniving with SIM card retailers, he got the numbers activated to share information with his handlers, the officer said.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/delhi-man-arrested-for-spying-for-isi-says-visited-pak-17-times-in-18-years/story-DKWzAjXsGhLijNpUV8zcIP.html

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31 properties of separatists in Jammu and Kashmir could be attached

Mar 25, 2019

As many as 31 properties worth over crore belonging to separatists leaders of Jammu and Kashmir have been “identified” for attachment as “proceeds of crime by enforcement agencies, a senior MHA official who did not want to be identified said.

The properties earmarked for attachment includes the Islamabad house of Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin. He is already a designated as terrorist by the United States and India. “New Delhi will ask Pakistan to attack the Salauddin’s property as ‘proceeds of crime’,” a second senior MHA official who did not want to be named said. “If Pakistan refuses, India is free to raise the issue at appropriate forum, including the Financial Action Task Force (FATF),” he said. Pakistan is in the “Greylist” of FATF.

The other 30 properties belong to nine prominent members separatists leaders. The properties identified for attachment are spread across Srinagar, Jammu, Kupwara, and Budgam.

Interestingly, of the 30 properties, as many as 10 belong to Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmad Watali.

“Our inquiries suggest that Wattali acted as the conduit passing on funds, at times washed money received from Pakistan and held it for the separatists. He is in Jail now and is suspected to be a conduit for the separatist. Earlier this week, the Enforcement Directorate attached Watli’s house in the National Capital Region (NCR) as “proceeds of crime.”

The National Investigative Agency (NIA) that started probing terror financing in 2017 charged as many as 12 people under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

The Enforcement Directorate that enforces the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 which came into force from July 2005.

“As the NIA investigation unfolded, a decision was taken to go for the key players to cripple the network of terror financing. As a result of this decision, three properties of Aftab Ahmed Shah, charged by the NIA and believed to close to several separatists leaders, have been taken-up for attachment” the second senior MHA official said.

Others whose properties have been identified for attachment include Altaf Ahmad Shah, Nayeem Khan, Farooq Ahmad Dar, Basir Ahmad Bhat. They have all been charged by the NIA.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/31-properties-of-separatists-in-jammu-and-kashmir-could-be-attached/story-XC72ClftCve1wln1MipaDI.html

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India to deliver 4 gunship helicopters to Afghanistan in July

Mar 25, 2019

Rezaul H Laskar

India is expected to supply four gunship helicopters to Afghanistan by July, with the deliveries falling almost a year behind schedule, people familiar with developments said on Monday.

As first reported by Hindustan Times in March 2018, Afghanistan, Belarus and India had inked a trilateral pact to supply the refurbished Mi-24 helicopters. Belarus was to upgrade the helicopters, which were to be paid for by India, the then Afghan envoy, Shaida Abdali, had said.

“It is now expected that two helicopters will be delivered to Afghanistan in April. The other two are expected to be handed over in June or July,” a person familiar with discussions on the matter said.

This is only the second instance of India supplying lethal military equipment to Afghanistan. India had provided four Mi-24s to the Afghan armed forces during 2015-16, marking a significant shift from its earlier position of supplying only non-lethal equipment.

However, some of the helicopters provided earlier had been grounded because of a lack of spares and India was also working on plans to help repair and refurbish the Mi-24s and other Russian-origin helicopters and transport aircraft of the Afghan Air Force, officials had said earlier.

The issue of the four additional helicopters and other military assistance had figured in Afghanistan’s National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib’s discussions with Indian officials during his visit to New Delhi in January.

India has committed $3 billion in aid to Afghanistan since 2001, when the Taliban were removed from power. It has also trained personnel from the Afghan National Security Forces and Afghan National Police.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/india-to-deliver-4-gunship-helicopters-to-afghanistan-in-july/story-fO9HjhjHy3NrC4NyNQtGzN.html

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Bihar ATS arrest two Bangladeshi terror suspects from Patna

Mar 26, 2019

Bihar’s anti-terrorist squad (ATS) arrested two Bangladeshi terror suspects near Patna Junction railway station close to the popular Mahavir Mandir early Monday and seized photocopies of letters related to deployment of central forces in Jammu and Kashmir after the Pulwama attack, fake voter identity cards, PAN cards, and ISIS posters from them.

The duo has been identified as Khairul Mandal and Abu Sultan, residents of Chhapatalla under the limits of Jhenaidah district in Khulna division of Bangladesh. ATS officials said they are affiliated with banned Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Islamic State Bangladesh (ISBD) terror outfits.

The ATS said the two men had entered India without valid passports and had procured fake voter and PAN cards to conceal their identities. They were nabbed on specific inputs from the intelligence bureau (IB).

“After procuring documents, they freely moved around different parts of India, including Kolkata, Kerala, Delhi and Bihar as per instructions from their JMB bosses. They were tasked to lure and induct Muslim youth into their organsiation. The duo carried out reconnaissance of popular Buddhist shrines and other religious places in Bihar. They also stayed in Gaya for 11 days in connection with their nefarious designs,” said an ATS officer.

The JMB was involved in the January 2018 Bodh Gaya explosion. A low intensity bomb blast had taken place near Kalchakra ground in Bodh Gaya on January 19, 2018 when Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama was present in the town. A couple of crude bombs and large quantity of explosives were also recovered from the place.

Mandal and Sultan are the first terror catches by the ATS since its inception in Bihar in 2013. During initial interrogation, ATS members found that the two suspects were in touch with their sponsors and had been trying to enroll youth to develop their sleeper cells. They had fled from Bangladesh and entered India after their top leaders were nabbed in a crackdown by the Seikh Hasina government.

“They were in search of some safe hideout in Patna and could have had plans to carry out some subversive activity,” said the officer, adding the duo has been forwarded to judicial custody. “We would pray for their remand soon for further questioning. Their revelations would help us look into the nature of their activity in Bihar and how far have they been successful in strengthening their network. Two separate teams have been dispatched to Mumbai and other places for investigation,” the officer said.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/bihar-ats-arrest-two-bangladeshi-terror-suspects-from-patna/story-KJm0okuPvyhGqDJZCP6TqJ.html

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Arab World

 

Upcoming UAE convention to shed light on Islamic view of tolerance

March 25, 2019

Over 10,000 people are expected to visit the Al Manar International Tolerance Convention.

As the global struggle to deal with Islamophobia continues, the UAE is reintroducing the concept of tolerance from the Islamic perspective.

In a three-day tolerance convention to be held next week, Dubai's Al Manar Islamic Centre will be sharing with the world how Islam views tolerance and how its different aspects can be applied in life.

Over 10,000 people are expected to visit the Al Manar International Tolerance Convention, which will be held at the Sheikh Rashid Hall of the Dubai World Trade Centre.

"As an Islamic centre it is our responsibility to share our Islamic perspective of the concept of tolerance itself. Secondly, we would like to be the key contributor in the initiatives, themes, campaigns run by the UAE. We aim to promote the essence of tolerance among the young people in order to prevent them from any kind of extremism, fanaticism ¬- which is not from Islam. We also aim to enrich the masses with the true values, moderation, love, respect, compassion in the sight of Islam," said India's Ahmed Hamed, one of the renowned speakers who will be leading discussions at the convention.

Among the speakers lined up are Mufti Menk from Zimbabwe; Assim Al Hakim from Saudi Arabia; Said Rageah from Canada; and Abu Abdissalam and Abdul Raheem Green from the UK.

The convention is being organised under the patronage of Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum, wife of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

At the press event held on Monday (March 25) to announce the details for the upcoming tolerance summit, Hamed said: "Dubai is home to more than 200 nationalities of various cultures, backgrounds and diversities. It is apt to host an event of such nature to share the message of tolerance from UAE to the globe."

The event was also attended by Shamsuddin Bin Mohiuddin, chairman of Al Manar Islamic Centre; Mohammed Sohail Al Muhairi from Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities; and other board members of the Islamic centre.

Entry is free for all. There will be on-site registrations but the organisers are encouraging people to register online at www.almanarconvention.com.

https://www.khaleejtimes.com/nation/dubai/upcoming-uae-convention-to-shed-light-on-islamic-view-of-tolerance

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Iraq’s religious leaders join hands to promote peaceful coexistence

Saad Salloum

March 25, 2019

KARBALA, Iraq — A high-ranking Shiite cleric delegation from Najaf visited the holy Yazidi temple in Lalish northern Iraq on March 17. Yazidis witnessed a horrible genocide by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The visit is a part of a campaign carried out by Shiite clerics to gather religious leaders in different parts of Iraq in order to promote coexistence and tolerance. 

On March 7, high-level Christian, Muslim and Yazidi religious leaders met in the Imam Hussein Shrine in Karbala, southern Iraq. The shrine is one of the holiest places for Shiite Muslims.

The participants toured the holy place to send a message to the people of Karbala and to the Iraqi people that they seek to join hands for peace and a shared coexistence between Iraqis of all religious denominations.

Sheikh Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalai, the representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the highest religious authority in the country, received the religious leaders and representatives and was briefed on the outcome of the previous high-level meetings.

Karbalai stressed the importance of the cross-religious joint action, and the need to translate these dialogues into a plan of action to be submitted to the Iraqi authorities.

The convention of religious leaders was held under the slogan of “God loves to spread peace.” It was inaugurated by Talal al-Kamali, a member of the board of directors of the Imam Hussein Shrine, who welcomed the participants and expressed joy that a holy Shiite site had welcomed leaders from across the religious spectrum in Iraq.

Kamali said several previous conventions had been held with many prominent religious figures, which is further proof of the seriousness of a joint action to promote peaceful coexistence under the current circumstances as Iraq has emerged from the crisis of the Islamic State (IS), which had previously taken over parts of the country.

The high-level meeting touched on the main current issues of major importance for Iraqis. Most notably, participants discussed the Vatican announcement that conditions for a papal visit to Iraq are "not yet met" and also the trip Pope Francis took to the United Arab Emirates, and the subsequent historic declaration on “human fraternity” between Christians and Muslims. Also, Cardinal Mar Luis Rafael I Sacco, the Chaldean patriarch of Iraq, issued a “homeland declaration” to urge the three Iraqi presidencies to meet and resolve the outstanding problems between the political parties and movements in Iraq. This is in addition to the “Mandaean hope document” put forth by Mandaean groups outside Iraq, sounding the alarm on the reality that Mandaeans are on the verge of extinction in Iraq.

The meeting also discussed the seriousness of what was termed Sunni and Shiite hate speech during Christmas celebrations, as many have called on Christians not to take part in Christmas festivities.

The consequences of the reported slaughter of 50 Yazidi victims in Syria’s Baghouz at the hands of IS also were on the convention’s agenda.

In the context of all this, the Chaldean patriarch stressed the need for a high-level pilgrimage visit to the historic city of Ur in southern Iraq, where the Prophet Abraham was born. The cardinal said that leaders of Abrahamic religions should go on this pilgrimage in an effort to show unity among Iraqis and to encourage the Holy See to visit this holy and highly symbolic place.

On the sidelines of his discussion of the “Mandaean hope document,” Mandaean community leader Jabar Helou said these meetings help bridge the gap between the different religions in Iraq and help dissipate Mandaeans’ fear as to the possibility of their extinction in Iraq, in light of their thin demographic weight and the departure of nearly 90% of the community's members from the country. He expressed hope that the outcomes of these conventions would encourage the remaining members of the Mandaean community to stay in Iraq, which he believes is the most challenging issue on the agenda of these high-level meetings.

The director of Al-Khoei Institute in Najaf, Jawad al-Khoei, said the meetings yielded some practical results, including the decision to issue a book on religions that are officially recognized in Iraq and provide a definition of religious diversity. Millions of copies of the book are to be distributed.

In response to the message from the self-styled Sunni grand mufti of Iraq, Sheikh Mahdi al-Sumaidaie, who called on Christians not to take part in Christmas celebrations, Sunni Sheikh Anas al-Issawi told Qadiriyya community members in Baghdad that such messages are not acceptable at all.

Issawi said the Sunnis of Iraq do not actually have the position of mufti and called for caution when it comes to fatwas that are issued based on political agendas that do not reflect the positions of the Iraqi Sunni community toward Christian citizens.

Women were represented at the convention by Nadia Fadel Mghames, the first Iraqi woman to become the director of Mandaean Endowment.

Mghames said her participation in the convention reflects a desire to strengthen the status of women in religious dialogues and to add another level of diversity to high-level meetings, where women are usually excluded.

She said these meetings are important to help end religious and social discrimination against minorities and women.

Khoei also referred to the previous meeting between Sheikh Abdul Waha al-Samarrai from the Iraqi Jurisprudence Council of Senior Scholars, stressing that the fourth meeting is a continuation of the previous ones. He said these conventions have become an urgent necessity to confront any possible attempt at sedition in light of the political conflict in Iraq.

Full report at:

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/03/iraq-religions-sectarianism-minorities.html

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Syria’s Kurds call for international court to try Daesh militants

March 25, 2019

AIN ISSA, Syria: Syria’s Kurds on Monday called for an international court to be set up in the country to try suspected Daesh militants following the announced fall of their “caliphate.”

Daesh imposed its brutal interpretation of Islam on millions living in the proto-state that it declared across a large swathe of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014.

The extremists stand accused of carrying out numerous crimes including mass executions, kidnappings and rape.

“We call on the international community to establish a special international tribunal in northeast Syria to prosecute terrorists,” the Syria Kurdish administration said.

In this way, “trials can be conducted fairly and in accordance with international law and human rights covenants and charters,” it said in a statement.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces on Saturday announced the end of the “caliphate” after defeating Daesh militants in the eastern village of Baghouz near the Iraqi border.

Kurdish-led forces, backed by a US-led coalition, have detained thousands of suspected Daesh fighters in more than four years battling the militants, including around 1,000 foreigners.

While alleged Daesh fighters are held in jail, women and children suspected of being affiliated to the group are housed in Kurdish-run camps for the displaced.

More than 9,000 foreigners, including over 6,500 children, were held in the main camp of Al-Hol, a Kurdish spokesman said, giving the latest figures from a week ago.

The Kurdish administration has repeatedly called for the repatriation of foreign Daesh suspects, and warned it does not have capacity to detain so many people.

But the home countries of suspected Daesh members have been reluctant to take them back, due to potential security risks and a likely public backlash.

“The Kurdish administration in northeast Syria has appealed to the international community to shoulder its responsibilities” with regards to Daesh suspects, it said Monday.

“But unfortunately there was no response.”

It urged the international community, particularly countries that have nationals detained, to support the establishment of an international tribunal.

A top foreign official for the Kurdish administration said foreign experts could work side by side with local judges.

“They could be foreign judges working with local judges and be experts in crimes committed by terrorist groups,” Abdel Karim Omar told AFP.

Previous international courts include the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda which tried genocide perpetrators in the African country.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia meanwhile tried those accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in conflicts that tore apart the Balkans in the 1990s.

Joel Hubrecht, a Paris-based expert in transitional justice expert, said setting up an special tribunal to judge Daesh was a good idea in theory in view of the international dimension of its alleged crimes.

“The idea of an international criminal court is relevant and interesting,” he told AFP.

“But in northeast Syria it’s not realistic.”

The Syrian Kurdish authorities are not internationally recognized, setting up such a tribunal usually takes time, and ensuring witness protection is tough in a war-torn country, he said.

Despite the declared victory against Daesh in Baghouz, the militants still maintain a presence in the country’s vast desert and have continued to claim deadly attacks in SDF-held territory.

President Bashar Assad’s forces have made a territorial comeback against rebels and militants with key Russian backing since 2015, but the war is far from over.

The battle to end the “caliphate” has triggered an exodus of tens of thousands of people — mainly women and children — out of crumbling Daesh territory, sparked a humanitarian crisis.

The main camp in Al-Hol is now bursting at the seams, housing more than 70,000 people — in a place designed for just 20,000.

“Humanitarian conditions in Hol camp are extremely critical,” World Food Programme spokeswoman Marwa Awad said Monday.

At least 140 people — overwhelmingly young children — have died on the way to the camp or shortly after arriving, the International Rescue Committee aid group says.

The Kurdish administration on Monday called on the United Nations to improve living conditions at the Al-Hol camp.

It particularly called for more humanitarian assistance, expanding the camp, and better water and sewage networks.

Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since starting in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1472266/middle-east

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Egypt refers 28 to court on charges of joining Daesh, Al-Qaeda

March 25, 2019

CAIRO: Egyptian prosecutors have referred 28 terror suspects in two separate cases to court on charges of joining local affiliates of the Daesh group and Al-Qaeda.

They said Monday the suspects were plotting attacks against security forces and the headquarters of the high state prosecution in Cairo.

They say only 17 of the 28 suspects are in custody. No date has been set for their trials. It was not clear when or where they were arrested.

A Daesh affiliate based in northern Sinai has carried out attacks across Egypt in recent years, mainly targeting security forces and the country’s Christian minority.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1472241/middle-east

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Pakistan

 

China pumps in $2.2 billion in Pakistan's dwindling forex reserves

Mar 25, 2019

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: China on Monday pumped-in $2.2 billion to cashstrapped Pakistan to shore up its close ally's foreign currency reserves and help avert a possible default on external debt payments.

With the generous Chinese assistance, Pakistan has so far received a total of $9.1 billion in financial assistance packages from friendly countries during the current fiscal year, The Express Tribune reported.

While China has pumped-in $4.1 billion, Pakistan has got $3 billion from Saudi Arabia and $2 billion from United Arab Emirates (UAE), it said.

"The State Bank of Pakistan has received RMB 15 billion value equivalent to $2.2 billion as proceeds of the loan obtained by the government of Pakistan from China," the central bank tweeted.

Finance ministry Spokesperson Khaqan Hassan Najeeb said the funds deposited in the State Bank of Pakistan would strengthen the stability of the country.

The SBP's reserves stood at $8.84 billion as on March 15, 2019, according to the central bank's latest weekly report. The latest deposits came from Beijing are expected to boost the SBP'S reserves into double digit after a gap of almost one year, the report said.

The comparatively higher imports than exports and debt repayments did not allow the reserves to stay stable, as the government was partially financing such international payments using the reserves.

Apart from the financial help, Riyadh has also enabled a $3 billion petroleum oil supply line on deferred payment for Pakistan as well.

Finance minister Asad Umar has estimated a financing gap of around $12 billion for the ongoing fiscal year 2019 and another $7-8 billion for the fiscal year 2020, the report said.

The friendly countries have extended the soft loan at an interest rate ranging 2.5-5 per cent to shore up SBP's foreign currency reserves and averting payment default.

Pakistan is also negotiating with the International Monetary Fund for an aid package but talks have been inconclusive, media reports said.

Earlier, the UAE had announced a $6 billion package for Pakistan in December 2018 including $3 billion in cash deposit and a credit line of another $3 billion for the supply of petroleum on deferred payment.

However, Pakistan has not been able to secure the $3.2 billion oil on deferred payments facility from the UAE.

"The deposits are coming at a very critical time as Islamabad is set to make a large external debt payment next month – April, while its reserves remain under pressure,” Arif Habib Limited Head of Research Samiullah Tariq said recently "Pakistan is scheduled to pay off $1 billion for a maturing Eurobond in April.. this will be in addition to other external debt payments during the month," he said.

The increased international payment pressure led to depletion of Pakistan's foreign currency reserves to almost five-year low at $6.63 billion as on January 18, 2019.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/china-pumps-in-2-2-billion-in-pakistans-dwindling-forex-reserves/articleshow/68565578.cms

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Pakistan willing for nuclear non-proliferation: Army

Mar 25, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Ruling out the possibility of using its nuclear weapons, Pakistan has expressed its willingness to take steps towards non-proliferation of nuclear arms, but only “if India does the same”.

In an interview with Russian state-owned news agency Sputnik, Pakistan’s military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor said that Islamabad sees nuclear weapons as more of a deterrence tool to prevent actual wars.

“Since we have gone overtly nuclear, as India also, in 1998, our stance is that this capability eliminates the possibility of conventional war between the two states. So that is to say, this is a weapon of deterrence and a political choice. No sane country having this capability would talk about using it,” Ghafoor said. “Even though the protection of the country was of the utmost importance, it would be “insane” to discuss the use of nuclear weapons,” the official noted.

On non-proliferation of nuclear arms, Ghafoor said, “Pakistan will undertake anything (preventive steps) which is based on equality. You cannot tie the hands of Pakistan and keep India open. Anything that happens should happen for both countries,” Ghafoor said.

Gafoor also advocated third party mediation in resolving tensions between Pakistan and India. “We would welcome any thirdparty mediation, which can bring peace in the region. And Russia is more than welcome,” he said.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-willing-for-nuclear-non-proliferation-army/articleshow/68564751.cms

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Pakistan eyes package as IMF mission chief arrives today

March 26, 2019

ISLAMABAD: As the arrival of $2.1 billion Chinese loans jacked up Pakistan’s total foreign exchange reserves to $17.58bn — highest since April 2018 — the government is expecting finalisation of a bailout package with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in four-six weeks to form the basis for next year budget.

IMF’s new mission chief for Pakistan Ernesto Ramirez Rigo is set to touch base with Finance Minister Asad Umar and senior officials of his ministry on Tuesday over authorities’ preparedness to enter into a three-year programme. Assisted by IMF’s country representative Maria Teresa Daban, Mr Rigo will also visit Karachi the following day for interactions at the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

During the two-day discussions, both sides are expected to set dates to field a formal mission by the middle of next month to finalise a reform package, a senior official told Dawn.

Officials said that before the mission chief’s visit, a team of IMF’s representative office in Islamabad had been engaged with finance ministry’s authorities for the last couple of days on actionable issues. The two sides are of the shared opinion that most of the policy initiatives should become part of the coming budget to sail through the parliamentary approval as part of the money bill 2019-20 for implementation at the start of the next fiscal year.

Informed sources said this was considered crucial to effective implementation of the reform agenda before the government descended into popular mode. “First two budgets are most important for any difficult reform to succeed and the conclusion of first fiscal year is already upon us and the third budget would be too close to election cycle,” they said.

At the heart of most crucial policy action is the power sector where the relevant authorities have yet to come up with a plan to address circular debt that now stands at over Rs1.6 trillion, the sources said.

The finance ministry has clearly told the power division to finalise a plan over the next two weeks with prior warning that it would not get more than Rs120bn tariff differential subsidy budgeted this year. This would remain frozen at this level over the next couple of years to achieve automatic reduction in subsidy-to-GDP ratio as the size of the economy goes up.

The officials said the full cost of recovery was difficult to materialise in the first year but 20-30pc increase in tariff in the first year was unavoidable to ensure a sustainable deficit. The government also has to pass on the impact of about Rs200bn in capacity payments to consumers over the next couple of months.

On top of that, gas tariff will also be increased by 15-22pc notwithstanding gas companies’ demand for up to 145pc increase.

The sources said the SBP was still opposed to a complete free float of the rupee, but the government believed that the market-based exchange rate regime could gradually take place. They said Pakistan had taken a series of policy actions since November last year when talks with the IMF mission were suspended and the Fund had softened in stance. For example, the improvement in current account is greater than the IMF expectations as Islamabad now expects current account deficit of about $12bn, significantly lower than previous estimates of $16-17bn. The exchange rate has also reached closer to its real effective rate as remittances and exports have improved and imports gone down.

“Implementation of a successful strategy has ensured total reserves of the country rising to a comfortable level of $17.58bn,” finance ministry’s spokesman Dr Khaqan H. Najeeb said on Monday after “deposits of RMB 15bn equivalent to $2.1bn received in SBP account”.

He said the foreign exchange reserves held by the central bank had hit a double-digit mark of $10.67bn. The net reserves held by commercial banks stood at $6.91bn. He said the government’s successful multi-pronged strategy to ensure stability in balance of payments, including curtailing current account, improving remittances and ensuring adequate foreign exchange financing, helped increase the reserves to comfortable level.

Earlier, talking to reporters, Finance Minister Asad Umar said Pakistan had come closer to reaching an agreement with the IMF as the differences had reduced over a possible bailout package. He said Pakistan had not changed its stance in talks with the IMF but the Fund had revised its position and the gap between the two sides had reduced.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1471927/pakistan-eyes-package-as-imf-mission-chief-arrives-today

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4 suspected terrorists blow themselves up in Loralai raid: official

Syed Ali Shah

March 26, 2019

At least four suspected suicide bombers blew themselves up during a raid conducted by security forces in Balochistan's Loralai area on Tuesday.

The Counter-Terrorism Department and other security agencies conducted the raid in Nasirabad, Loralai, on the basis of intelligence reports, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Attau Rehman said.

Take a look: 119 killed in terror incidents in Balochistan last year: IG

At least four security personnel were injured during the raid and taken to Loralai hospital, he added.

The area surrounding the compound was sealed off as a combing operation went underway in the area following the raid.

An intelligence officer who declined to be named told DawnNewsTV that a mastermind of attacks on levies personnel was also among the suspects who blew themselves up.

Loralai has witnessed a sharp rise in violent attacks by militants in the recent past.

A few days ago, six Levies personnel were martyred in a terrorist attack in Balochistan's Sanjavi. According to sources the six members of a law enforcement agency were posted at the check-post in Lal Katai on Sanjavi-Loralai road, which was attacked by assailants with heavy weapons.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1471980/4-suspected-terrorists-blow-themselves-up-in-loralai-raid-official

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Nikah Khwan among 7 arrested over alleged forced conversion, underage marriages of Ghotki sisters

Shams Bhutto | Inamullah Khattak

March 25, 2019

Police have detained at least seven people, including a Nikah Khwan (marriage officiator), suspected of involvement in the alleged abductions, forced conversions from Hindusim to Islam, and underage marriages of two minor sisters reported in Ghotki.

On Saturday, the government took notice of the incident after two separate videos started doing rounds on social media. The father and brother of the girls in videos circulating on social media said that the two sisters were abducted and forced into changing their religion from Hinduism to Islam. However, a separate video of the girls went viral, in which they said that they accepted Islam of their own free will.

In the video, a cleric can be seen next to the girls and two men who they were married to. The cleric said the girls were inspired by Islam and alleged that their family was spreading "false propaganda" and threatening their lives.

On March 20, the girls' family lodged a First Information Report against their alleged forced conversion to Islam.

Deputy Commissioner Saleemullah Odho and Superintendent Police Farrukh Lanjhar paid a visit to the girls' father on Sunday night and assured him of the government and police's full cooperation in the case.

Police on Sunday said they had conducted several raids in Punjab's Rahim Yar Khan district ─ where it was believed the girls were taken from Ghotki ─ and arrested the Nikah Khwan who solemnised their marriages, a leader of the Pakistan Sunni Tehreek, and some relatives of the two men who had married the two girls. The detained suspects were handed over to Sindh police.

SP Lanjhar said that action was being taken on all available information to recover the girls. He was confident that the girls would be recovered soon.

Provincial minister Syed Owais Shah also visited Hari Lal, the father of the two girls. He said that Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had contacted his counterpart in Punjab over the issue. He also expressed his hope that the two would be recovered soon.

However, Shiv Lal, a Manghwal community leader, described the assurances as lip service. He said that if the girls had embraced Islam, they should be produced before a court of law. He said that their alleged forced conversion and marriages would be challenged in the court, as both the girls are under 18 years of age.

Apparently dissatisfied with the police efforts, a group of Manghwal community members staged a protest sit-in in front of the Daharki police station on Monday. Holding placards, they said that the two girls had not been recovered despite the passage of six days and that the police was only giving them assurances.

During the protest, the girls' father attempted self-immolation by pouring petrol on himself, however, he was saved by other demonstrators.

Girls seek protection from IHC

In a related development, the two girls and the men they were reportedly married to approached the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to seek protection.

The petition, filed by them through their lawyer Muhammad Umari Baloach, has listed the interior ministry; Sindh chief minister; inspectors general of police of Punjab, Sindh and Islamabad; MNA Ramesh Kumar Vankwani; Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) and Hari Lal as respondents.

The application, which has not been accepted for hearing as yet, states that "false propaganda" is being done in the media regarding the alleged forced conversion of the two sisters who are "law-abiding adult citizens".

It states that because of the alleged propaganda, the lives of the two girls and the men they are married to are under threat.

The petitioners say that the two sisters had been "impressed by the teachings of Islam since [a] long time" but that they did not disclose their conversion to Islam due to the fear of being killed.

However, on March 22, 2019, the duo formally acknowledged that they have converted to Islam before "numerous lawyers" of the Khanpur Bar, the petition states.

The sisters have stated in the application that they were not forced into accepting Islam and that they did so of their own free will.

According to the application, the girls and their purported husbands first moved to Khanpur tehsil of Rahim Yar Khan and upon finding out about a police operation being launched against them, they later moved to Islamabad.

The petition requests the IHC to restrain the government, police and the girls' father from "harassing" the petitioners for the return of the sisters to their previous family "and their forceful reversion to Hindu religion".

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1471788/nikah-khwan-among-7-arrested-over-alleged-forced-conversion-underage-marriages-of-ghotki-sisters

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Mideast

 

Israeli army accuses Hamas of firing rocket that hit near Tel Aviv

25 March 2019

Israel’s army accused Hamas of firing a rocket that hit a house north of Tel Aviv on Monday, wounding seven people, and announced it was sending reinforcements to the Gaza area.

The military said on Twitter the rocket had been fired from the Rafah area in the southern Gaza Strip.

It announced it was sending two additional brigades to the area around the Hamas-run enclave and was carrying out a limited call up of reservists.

“The launch was carried out by Hamas from one of its positions in the Rafah area,” Israeli army spokesman Ronen Manelis said.

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The rocket would have had to travel some 120 kilometers from Rafah to hit the house in the community of Mishmeret.

It has raised fears of a severe military escalation between the two sides just ahead of April 9 Israeli elections.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced earlier he was cutting short a trip to the United States and returning home due to the security situation.

Netanyahu said he would return after meeting US President Donald Trump later Monday, canceling an address to pro-Israel lobby AIPAC’s annual conference on Tuesday.

Hamas had so far not commented on Israel’s accusations.

Earlier, its ally in Gaza, Islamic Jihad, said “we warn the Zionist enemy from committing an aggression against the Gaza Strip”.

“Their leaders should be aware that we will respond with force against their aggression,” it said in a statement, without commenting on who may have been responsible for the rocket.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/03/25/Israel-army-accuses-Hamas-of-firing-rocket-that-hit-near-Tel-Aviv.html

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Romania, Honduras recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

25 March 2019

The leaders of Romania and Honduras on Sunday announced that they will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, following the lead of US President Donald Trump.

Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila and Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez delivered their announcements at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual conference in Washington.

The announcements were welcomed by Israeli politicians.

However, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, a government rival who’s in charge of the East European nation’s foreign policy, said the prime minister hadn’t consulted with him over the decision. He accused her of “total ignorance” of foreign policy.

The move is considered controversial as it goes against the rest of the European Union.

Romania currently holds the bloc’s rotating presidency.

Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the US Embassy to the city, a move that was applauded by Israel. Guatemala followed suit.

The move angered the Palestinians, who seek east Jerusalem as capital of a future state.

Most countries have embassies in Tel Aviv out of sensitivity over the contested city.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/03/25/Romania-Honduras-recognize-Jerusalem-as-Israel-s-capital.html

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Saudi war has failed despite US support: Yemen's Houthi

Mar 25, 2019

The Saudi regime has failed in its deadly campaign against Yemen to achieve its objectives despite enjoying support provided by Washington and other allies. That is part of a speech by the leader of Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement on the fourth anniversary of the Yemeni nation's resistance against Riyadh's aggression.

Delivering a televised speech broadcast live on Monday evening, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi said Saudi Arabia's “unprecedented oppression” aimed to divide the Yemeni people and control them in order to serve the aggressors' interests.

The campaign is also aimed at occupying Yemen and looting it oil resources, he said.

The Ansarullah leader said it was a religious and national duty to keep confronting Saudi Arabia's agressive behavior.

He also condemned the stance of traitors and those irresponsible people who act in support of Riyadh.

Referring to Yemen's former President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Houthi said no one has the right to sell his country and to waste the blood of his people.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, he said, are facing economic challenges due to the campaign against Yemen. Houthi did not elaborate on the matter.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched the devastating campaign on March 26, 2015, with the aim of bringing a former government to power and crushing the Houthi Ansarullah movement. Riyadh has failed to fulfill its objectives.

According to a new report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has so far claimed the lives of around 56,000 Yemenis.

The Saudi-led war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN has already said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/03/25/591887/Houthi-Saudi-Ye

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Hamas denies involvement in rocket attack on Tel Aviv

Mar 25, 2019

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has rejected Israel's claim that it launched a rocket which hit a house north of Tel Aviv and wounded seven settlers.

"No one from the resistance movements, including Hamas, has an interest in firing rockets from the Gaza Strip towards the enemy," a Hamas official, who asked not to be named, told AFP on Monday.

He added that the same message had been conveyed to Egypt, which intervened to broker a ceasefire and prevent Israel from launching another war on Gaza after tensions escalated last year.

His remarks evoked the possibility that the rocket strike may have been caused by "bad weather."

Earlier on Monday, Israeli authorities said a long-range rocket launched from the Gaza Strip had struck Mishmeret, a settlement north of Tel Aviv, wounding seven settlers.

Israel's military said the rocket was fired by Hamas from the Rafah area in the south of Gaza.

The incident had forced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short his trip to Washington as he pledged to "respond with force" to the rocket attack.

The Israeli military said it was sending two additional brigades and carrying out a limited call-up of reservists, raising fears of a severe military escalation.

The attack came a day after Israeli warplanes bombed the besieged enclave ahead of the anniversary of Gaza fence protests at the weekend.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/03/25/591869/Hamas-denies-firing-rocket--Tel-Aviv

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Dozens of Houthis killed as battles rage in Yemen

March 26, 2019

DUBAI: Dozens of Houthi militia have been killed in battles across Yemen, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Monday.

The Yemeni army killed 45 militia and wounded 30 in Ibb province, while another 40 Houthi fighters were killed in clashes in Qaataba district.

In Marib province, coalition raids killed a Houthi commander and his men.

Meanwhile, coalition-backed forces sieged the main route that connects the provinces of Al-Dhale and Ibb south of Sanaa.

Fighting picked up in Hodeidah despite a truce agreement between the warring sides in December. An offensive by Yemeni forces last year liberated much of Houthi-controlled territory along the strategic Red Sea, about four years after the Iran-supported group ousted the internationally-recognized government.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1472641/middle-east

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South Asia

 

Bangladesh says no hurry to relocate Rohingya, in talks with UN bodies

25 March 2019

Bangladesh is not in a hurry to relocate Rohingya refugees to a Bay of Bengal island, a minister told Reuters on Monday, after the United Nations sought more details on the government's plan, criticized by some human rights groups.

Bangladesh wants to move 100,000 of the nearly 1 million Rohingya Muslims sheltered in cramped camps in its southeastern district of Cox's Bazar to the remote island, known as Bhasan Char, which it has been developing for the past two years.

The United Nations is making plans to help Bangladesh with the move, Reuters reported last week.

But in a statement on Monday, the world body called for a thorough assessment to ensure the viability of the move, saying it was discussing "critical protection and operational issues" ahead of any relocation.

"We're also examining the potential operational implications of setting up a humanitarian response on Bhasan Char, including the requirements, time frames and costs involved," it said.

Bangladesh is in talks with UN humanitarian bodies, and working on their observations, said Enamur Rahman, the junior minister for disaster management and relief.

"So we are going a little slow. There is no exact date to relocate," he added.

"We are not in a hurry, and it will start only when all these UN bodies and Rohingya people feel the area is ready."

Rahman said the government was working to build more cyclone shelters on the island, which is hours from the mainland by boat. Many Rohingya have opposed the transfer plan.

A World Food Programme document shows the UN's food agency supplied Bangladesh with detailed plans, including a timeline and a budget, on providing for thousands of Rohingya taken to the island within weeks.

The March 12 plans show how the agency and its partners "may facilitate the identification, staging, forward movement, reception, and sustainment of refugees" on the island, based on an initial appeal for donor funds from $9 million to $19 million.

Densely populated Bangladesh says it has been grappling with the large refugee numbers.

The number of refugees in Cox's Bazar has swelled since August 2017, when a Myanmar military-led crackdown that UN investigators have said was conducted with "genocidal intent" prompted some 730,000 Rohingya to flee.

Buddhist-majority Myanmar has denied almost all accusations of atrocities made by refugees, saying its security forces engaged in a legitimate counterterrorism operation.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/03/25/Bangladesh-says-no-hurry-to-relocate-Rohingya-in-talks-with-UN-bodies.html

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Air strike kills 13 civilians, mostly children, in Afghanistan

25 March 2019

At least 13 civilians were killed, mostly children, in an air strike by “international forces” in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz late last week, the United Nations said Monday.

The strike happened between late Friday and early Saturday in support of ground operations conducted by pro-government forces fighting Taliban militants in the area.

“Initial fact-finding indicates that 10 of those killed were children, part of the same extended family whom were displaced by fighting elsewhere in the country,” the UN mission in Afghanistan said in a statement.

The US is the only member of the international coalition in Afghanistan that provides air support in the conflict.

A NATO spokesperson told AFP the coalition was investigating the claims.

“Those who were killed were internally displaced families who had fled the war in Dasht-e-Archi district and had recently moved to the city,” added Khosh Mohammad Nasratyar, member of Kunduz provincial council, saying three children were also wounded in the attack.

The deaths come as ordinary Afghans continue to bear the brunt of the conflict, with more civilians killed in the Afghan war in 2018 than during any other year on record, according to a UN report.

The uptick in violence in 2018 coincides with a significant increase in the number of deaths caused by the “deliberate targeting of civilians”, according to the report, mostly stemming from suicide attacks by insurgents allied with the Taliban or ISIS.

An increase in air strikes by US and Afghan forces also led to more civilian deaths in 2018, with more than 500 killed by “aerial operations for the first time on record.”

Fighting continues to flare across Afghanistan even as the US and Taliban press forward in peace talks aimed at ending nearly 18 years of fighting.

The ongoing peace talks with the Taliban follow years of escalating violence in Afghanistan.

According to the UN, at least 32,000 civilians have been killed and another 60,000 wounded in the last decade.

Kunduz has been the scene of repeated air strikes gone awry over the course of the conflict, including an Afghan strike last April on an outdoor religious gathering in Dashte Archi that killed or wounded 107 people, mostly children, according to the UN.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/03/25/Afghan-official-Taliban-killed-33-troops-police-in-Helmand.html

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Brunei praised for helping Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

March 26, 2019

BANGLADESH is celebrating its 49th Independence and National Day today. In this context, we pay our deepest respects to our Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and millions of martyrs who laid down their lives for the independence of Bangladesh in 1971.

On this momentous occasion, we express our deepest gratitude to His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam for the opportunity given to our expatriates and the care and hospitality extended to them by his government as well as the people of Brunei. We also take this opportunity to offer our prayers for good health, long life and well-being of His Majesty, and members of the royal family.

Short History

The history of Bangladesh is somewhat complex; therefore, a brief idea about its genesis will be interesting to our Bruneian friends.

Bangladesh, as a state, has been independent only for the last 49 years but its cultural and linguistic history is very old.

The Bangla language, whose English rendering as Bengali given by the British colonial heritage, is the seventh most spoken language of the world.

The history of Bangladesh is intertwined with that of India, Pakistan and other countries of South Asia. lts national character within a broader South Asian context dates to the ancient past.

Religion has also tended to set the Bangla-speaking people apart. From the 3rd Century BC, Buddhism flourished in Bengal.

Hinduism reestablished its hold from the late 6th Century AD, but Buddhism did not fully disappear. The two religions coexisted until 12th Century.

lslam made its first appearance in Bangladesh during the 7th Century through Arab Muslim traders and Sufism. About 1200 AD, the first Muslim ruler, Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khalji, a Turk, captured Bengal, established Muslim rule and spread Islam across entire Bangladesh.

Demography

Bangladesh is the world’s eighth most populous country. The current population of Bangladesh is 167,529,756 as of March 9, 2019, based on the latest UN estimates.

Bangladesh population is equivalent to 2.18 per cent of the total world population. Bangladesh ranks eighth in the list of countries (and dependencies) by population.

The population density in Bangladesh is 1291 per km2. The total land area is 130,170 km2. Around 37.2 per cent of the population is urban (62,561,286 people in 2019).

The median age in Bangladesh is 26 years. For the last three years, the annual population growth is 1.03.

Bangladesh’s Success Story

Bangladesh has also become one of the world’s economic success stories.

The market-based economy of Bangladesh is the 46th largest in the world in nominal terms, and 33rd largest by purchasing power parity; it is classified among the ‘Next Eleven’ emerging market economies and a ‘Frontier Market’.

Per capita income has risen nearly threefold since 2009, reaching USD1,750 in 2018.

In 2018, Bangladesh reached a pivotal moment when it met the UN criteria to graduate from ‘least developed country’ status by 2024.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the elevation of status to ‘developing economy’ is a significant boost to the nation’s self-image.

Bangladesh’s garment industry is second only to China in the global market. This sector is on track to meet the government’s goal of USD39 billion in 2019, and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the industry to reach a USD50 billion valuation by 2021 to mark the 50th anniversary of independence.

A vast community of about 2.5 million Bangladeshi overseas workers further buoys the economy with remittances that jumped an annual 1800 to top USD15 billion in 2018. Sheikh Hasina launched a ‘Digital Bangladesh’ strategy in 2009 backed by generous incentives.

Now, Dhaka, the nation’s capital, is home to a small but growing technology sector led by CEOs who talk boldly about ‘leapfrogging’ in IT.

Bangladesh’s exports of software and IT services reached nearly USD800 million in 2018, and are on track to exceed USD1 billion this fiscal year.

Pharmaceutical manufacturing is also on the rise. With its “least developed country” status, the country has enjoyed a waiver on drug patents. This has fuelled intensifying competition in the field of generic and bulk drugs. This sector provides 97 per cent of the total medicinal requirement of the local market.

Shipbuilding has great potentials in Bangladesh since it has a long history of shipbuilding dating back to early modern era.

Recently, Bangladesh has started exporting locally made ships to Europe.

It has now over 200 shipbuilding companies.

Bangladesh is considered one of the most suitable regions for fisheries in the world, with the world’s largest flooded wetland. Shrimp culture is of central importance to Bangladesh as a source of earning.

lt contributes about four per cent to GDP, and three per cent to foreign exchange earnings, with Europe and the United States being the major destinations.

Under its Belt and Road Initiative, China has financed various mega projects in Bangladesh, including most of the nearly USD4 billion Padma Bridge rail link, which will connect the country’s southwest with the northern and eastern regions.

In all, China has committed USD38 billion in loans, aid, and other assistance for Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is now the second-largest importer of Chinese military hardware after Pakistan.

Foreign Policy of Bangladesh

The foreign policy of Bangladesh emanates from the principle of ‘Friendship towards all, malice towards none’. Bangladesh follows a pragmatic approach to develop, continue and sustain friendly relations with other nations in consonance with its national interests.

It stands to protect the rights and dignity of the oppressed and the persecuted and collaborates with the international community for humanity.

It will be a close observant of the evolving political dynamics of the world and embark on innovativeness to formulate, maintain and/or modify its foreign relations.

Bangladesh supports rule of law, justice and good governance. It adheres to international law and principles enunciated in the UN Charter and other international treaties of which Bangladesh is a party.

It stands to support all global peace initiatives and dialogues. It aims at building alliances for the well being of its people and for realising common interests.

The Asia-Pacific region is all set to assume great significance in future. Around the middle of the present century, China’s economy is predicted to be overtaking that of the United States, India would be a close third and BRlCs would be a match for G-7.

Bangladesh is a star performer in UN peacekeeping missions. It is one of the top five troop contributors in the world.

The appointment of several Bangladeshi military generals as the commander of the UN peacekeeping missions, and senior military liaison officers may be seen as further recogni-tion of the Bangladesh Forces’ growing esteem in the world community.

Bangladesh-Brunei Relations

Brunei recognised Bangladesh quickly after its independence in 1971. Bangladesh’s historical tie with Brunei is very old. People from Bengal coast would make sea voyages through Malacca straits to Borneo island for trade and business.

Borneo, the home to Brunei Darussalam and Bengal Delta, the home to Bangladesh, shared similar nature and environment; rain, hot climate, sunny weather, mangrove forest, river, seashore and common cultural values.

This historical bond is reflected in our deep friendship and mutual respect.

The largest gathering of Muslims in Bangladesh is during the Bishwa Ijtema, held annually.

The Ijtema is the second-largest Muslim congregation in the world.

The year 2018 has been significant in improving bilateral relations between our friendly countries. Bangladesh established its residential diplomatic mission in 1985, and Brunei in 1999.

It is almost after 20 years that the first ever Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) was held in last year.

The consultations were fruitful, and opened up new areas of business and trade, particularly in agriculture, fishery, Halal food, ship repair and maintenance, and petroleum. Following the FOC, a number of visits by different trade bodies of both sides have taken place.

There are about 20,000 expatriate Bangladeshis employed in Brunei. They are working in petroleum and gas, infrastructure building such as bridges, roads and land renovation. Bangladeshi doctors are spread all across the four districts in Brunei.

Besides, Universiti Brunei Darussalam and Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB)have a good number of faculty and students from Bangladesh.

In 2018, Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation in education sector at tertiary level between Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA) and Islamic University of Bangladesh, UTB and Dhaka University of Engineering were signed.

Dimension Strata, a Bruneian Company involved in Geoscience research visited Dhaka University in February to hold lectures and workshops on ‘Earth Modelling in the 21st Century: Advanced Techniques & Techniques’ and explore areas of cooperation in energy, power and geological experimentation.

Defence relation is improving. Bangladesh and Brunei exchange officers for courses on regular basis. In 2019, a major from Bangladesh army is attending Brunei Staff College.

It is expected that Brunei will reciprocate by sending its officers to attend courses at Bangladesh Staff and National Defence Colleges.

Bruneians’ commitment to supporting the Bangladesh government to tackle the humanitarian crisis is highly commendable.

Different aid groups from Brunei are regularly visiting Bangladesh with food, medicine, clothing, shelter items and reading materials.

Full report at:

https://borneobulletin.com.bn/brunei-praised-for-helping-rohingya-refugees-in-bangladesh/

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Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh share common views on regional issues

March 25, 2019

JEDDAH: Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia have maintained cordial and close bonds since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1975. The friendship is characterized by mutual understanding and a deep sense of fraternity.

The Kingdom is the largest and most valued destination for the Bangladeshi workforce, which contributes significantly to the national development of both countries. Remittance flows from Saudi Arabia to Bangladesh comprised almost 22 percent of the total amount, which was approximately $34 billion, in 2018.  

Both countries share common views on many regional and international issues, particularly those relating to the Islamic community. These shared priorities, perspectives and fraternal relations have strengthened the collaboration within the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and other international and regional forums. Existing bonds have been reinforced by ever-deepening bilateral ties in the fields of trade, investment, defense, culture, education and manpower. The Kingdom now stands as one of Bangladesh’s most important bilateral partners and the relationship dynamics have evolved from one-dimensional to multilayered cooperation over the years to reach its present maturity.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina embarked on her sixth official visit to Saudi Arabia last October to strengthen bonds at the highest levels. She had an audience with King Salman and met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The king and prime minister discussed ties, as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest. Both leaders commended the unprecedented gain in momentum of bilateral relations in recent years, and emphasized the further expansion of relations through cooperation and engagement.

Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reform plan gives Bangladesh the opportunity to explore new areas of engagement in manpower, trade, investment, education and agriculture.

Bangladesh also has a vision: To become a middle-income country by 2021 and to attain the status of a high mid-income country by 2041. These goals warrant engagement in fast-growing trade and economic cooperation with major partners like Saudi Arabia.

During the meeting between the king and prime minister it was reiterated that the cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh would continue, and that both countries would be development partners.

There will be an exchange of economic and investment-related delegations and economic, cultural and defense cooperation will play a pivotal role in fulfilling those objectives.

The prime minister appreciated the visionary role played by King Salman in the development of the Muslim community. There is a special place for Saudi Arabia in the heart of Bangladeshi Muslims, as the Two Holy Mosques exist in Makkah and Madinah, and Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Thus, a great opportunity exists between Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia to work together to disseminate the real message of Islam so that nobody can benefit from misrepresenting the religion.

In her meeting with the crown prince, the prime minister highlighted recent development activities, particularly in food security, housing, education, and poverty reduction. Bangladesh offered to allocate land for an exclusive economic zone for Saudi Arabia, which should encourage more Saudi investors to Bangladesh. The crown prince said Saudi Arabia was interested in broadening its relationship with Bangladesh for the mutual benefit of both countries. He emphasized regular interaction of business bodies to further accelerate trade and investment.

The prime minister also attended a business seminar in the capital that was organized by the Council of Saudi Chambers and Bangladesh Embassy in Riyadh. She urged Saudi entrepreneurs and businessmen to invest in the 100 Special Economic Zones in priority sectors such as energy, power, infrastructure and communication networks, IT, textiles and agro-based industries. She also called on them to take advantage of the investment and business climate in Bangladesh.

She expressed hope that Saudi entrepreneurs would particularly benefit if they opted for those zones set aside for Saudi investors.

Earlier this month a ministerial-level delegation went to Bangladesh to explore business and investment opportunities. The team comprised 32 members from the government and private sector, including delegates from the Public Investment Fund and the Saudi Fund for Development. Two agreements and four memoranda of understanding were signed on investment cooperation. The two sides also agreed to review progress within the next two months.

It is expected that the overall relationship dynamic between Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia will fundamentally change in the next few years.

National Day Messages

President's Message: Working together to honor our independence

Md. Abdul Hamid

President of Bangladesh

Today is March 26, the Independence Day of Bangladesh. On the occasion of our great Independence and National Day, I extend my heartfelt greetings and warm felicitations to my fellow countrymen living at home and abroad.

On this historic day, I recall with profound respect the architect of our independence, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. I pay my deep homage to the martyrs and valiant sons of the soil, who made the supreme sacrifice in the war of liberation. I also recall with deep reverence our four National Leaders, valiant freedom fighters, organizers, supporters, our foreign friends, and people from all walks of life who made immense contributions to attain our right to self-determination and the war of liberation. The contributions of all will be written in golden letters in the history of our independence forever.

We have achieved our hard-earned independence through huge sacrifice. Bangabandhu always cherished a dream of building a happy and prosperous country along with achieving political emancipation. Immediately after independence, he took all our steps in rebuilding the economy of the war-ravaged country. Keeping that in mind, the present government has been rendering untiring efforts in materializing the dream of Bangabandhu.

After a long struggle, Bangladesh is now moving toward development and prosperity. Besides the overall development, implementation of megaprojects such as Padma Bridge, the metro rail and the nuclear power plant are ongoing. With the launch of a Bangladeshi satellite, we have cemented our place in space. We are dreaming of a developed Bangladesh by the year 2041. Bangladesh is now being branded as a role model for outstanding success in socio-economic development.

In pursuing our diplomatic objectives, the government has been consistent in upholding the principle of “friendship to all, malice toward none,” as enunciated by Father of the Nation. Our achievement in the international arena is also commendable. Our expatriate Bangladeshis have been making significant contributions to our national economy by sending their hard-earned remittances. Nevertheless, we have to go a long way to achieve the desired goals of independence. We must ensure good governance, social justice, transparency and accountability to make development people-oriented and sustainable.

Democracy and development complement each other. Jatiya Sangsad and the government have started a new journey after the 11th parliamentary election. Collective initiative is necessary to implement the government’s development ideas and make Parliament meaningful. I hope Parliament will be the center of the people’s hopes and aspirations.

For this, the ruling party and the opposition will have to play a constructive role. The present government has set Vision 2021 and Vision 2041 to materialize Bangabandhu’s dream of transforming Bangladesh into “Sonar Bangla.” Sincere and collective efforts are imperative to implement the programs.

Imbued with the spirit of the war of liberation and democratic values, let us work together, irrespective of party affiliation, to make our heard-earned independence more meaningful. Let this be the pledge on Independence and National Day.

May Bangladesh live forever.

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Prime Minister's Message: Realizing the dream of our nation’s father

Sheikh Hasina

Prime Minister of Bangladesh

I convey my heartiest greetings and congratulations to my countrymen as well as all expatriate Bangladeshis on the occasion of the great Independence and National Day of Bangladesh.

March 26 is the day of earning our nation’s identity. It is the day of breaking the shackles of subjugation. On the eve of Independence Day, I recall with deep gratitude the greatest Bangladeshi of all time, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, under whose undisputed leadership we earned our coveted independence. I pay my deep homage to the 3 million martyrs and 200,000 women who lost their honor in the war of liberation.

I also pay tribute to our four National Leaders who steered the war of liberation in the absence of Bangabandhu. My homage goes to the valiant freedom fighters, including the wounded ones. I extend my sympathies to those who lost their near and dear ones, and were subjected to brutal torture during the war. I recall with gratitude our foreign friend who had extended its wholehearted support and cooperation for the cause of our liberation.

The Bangladeshi nation fought against Pakistani rulers’ oppression and deprivation for 23 years under the leadership of Bangabandhu. They were compelled to hold general elections in 1970. The Bangladesh Awami League led by Bangabandhu won an overwhelming majority in the elections. But Pakistani rulers, instead of handing over power to the majority party in a democratic way, launched repressive measures against it.

Bangabandhu, in his March 7 historic address, declared: “The struggle of this time is for emancipation. The struggle for this time for our independence. Joi Bangla.” He instructed the Bangladeshi nation to resist the enemies.

The occupation forces unleashed a sudden attack and started killing innocent and unarmed Bangladeshis on the black night of March 25, 1971. They killed thousands of people in cities and towns, including Dhaka. Bangabandhu formally proclaimed the independence of Bangladesh at the first hour of March 26, 1971.

His proclamation was spread all over the country through telegrams, tele-printers and EPR wireless. The international media also circulated Bangabandhu’s proclamation of independence. Under his brave and dauntless leadership, we earned the ultimate victory on Dec. 16, 1971, after a nine-month bloody war.

Independence earned through the supreme sacrifices of millions of people is the greatest achievement of the Bangladeshi nation. To ensure that this achievement remains meaningful, all have to know the history of our great liberation war and retain the spirit of independence. The spirit of the liberation war has to be passed on from generation to generation.

Being imbued with the spirit of the freedom struggle, the Awami League government has relentlessly been working to develop the country. We have been accomplishing the unfinished work of the Father of the Nation. We have achieved expected development in every sector during the last 10 years. Bangladesh has become the role model of socioeconomic development in the world.

Our government is maintaining a zero-tolerance policy to tackle militancy, terrorism and the drug menace. For the first time in the world, we have formulated a 100-year plan named Delta Plan 2100. Bangladesh is one of the top five countries in the world in economic development. Ninety percent of development work is financed by our own resources.

We have executed the verdict of the trial of the killers of Bangabandhu, establishing the rule of law. The verdicts of the trials of the war criminals are also being executed. The trails of war criminals will continue as per our pledges to the nation. Due to the continuation of the Awami League government, the people are now getting the dividends of development. Bangladesh is moving forward, and will continue to do so. The next generation will get a prosperous Bangladesh.

The people made the Awami League victorious in the recent 11th parliamentary election. We will fully honor the huge mandate that the people of our country have given us. We will turn Bangladesh into a middle-income country by 2021, and a developed and prosperous one by 2041, InshaAllah.

Let us uphold the development and democratic spree being imbued with the spirit of the freedom struggle. Let us engage ourselves for the welfare of the country and nation. Let us build a happy and prosperous “Sonar Bangla,” free of hunger and poverty, as dreamt by the Father of the Nation. On this historic day, let this be our commitment.

Joi Bangla, Joi Bangabandhu,

May Bangladesh live forever.

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Establishing a prosperous, developed Bangladesh under dynamic leadership

Dr. A.K Abdul Momen

Foreign Minister of Bangladesh

On the occasion of March 26, the great Independence and National Day of Bangladesh, I extend my heartfelt greetings and warm felicitations to all Bangladeshis living both at home and abroad.

On this great historic day, I recall with profound reverence the greatest Bangladeshi of all time, the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who proclaimed our country’s independence on March 26, 1971.

Under his visionary leadership, we achieved our long-cherished independence through a nine-month armed struggle.

With deep respect, I recall the supreme sacrifices made by our war heroes, the 3 million martyrs and the wounded freedom fighters.

I am also profoundly grateful to the people from all walks of life, especially members of our diaspora and the diplomatic front, who during and after our liberation war played a vital role in gaining international recognition.

I also acknowledge with deep gratitude the enormous contributions of our foreign friends in the emergence of an independent Bangladesh.

The charismatic leadership of the Father of the Nation united the whole nation like a solid rock under one umbrella. Bangabandhu was not only the leader of the Bangladeshis, but also a forerunner in realizing the rights of the oppressed and deprived people of the world. Bangabandhu, the great architect of our liberation war, dreamt of a happy, prosperous, exploitation-free and equitable “Sonar Bangla.”

His able successor and daughter, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, aims to make Bangladesh a middle-income country by 2021, and a developed country by 2041. She hopes to realize Bangabandhu’s dream of “Sonar Bangla.”

Now Bangladesh is on a pathway to prosperity. Currently, it is marching forward with a gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of more than 7.86 percent.

The number of working women has increased from 6 percent to 38 percent of the workforce.

The introduction of six-month leave, maternity allowances and free community clinics have contributed to lowering maternal mortality by 67 percent and infant deaths by 75 percent.

In recent years, the size of our national budget has grown about five and a half times. While Bangladesh is now recognized as a role model of development, it has been steadily achieving successes, earning many international awards and accolades. As a consequence, the UN recently announced Bangladesh’s eligibility for graduation to the status of “developing country” from “least developed country.”

With the successful launch of the Bangabandhu-1 satellite, the first Bangladeshi geostationary communication satellite, we have taken communication technology to new heights.

I congratulate the Bangladeshi diaspora in every corner of the world, which is contributing to the escalation of the image of Bangladesh.

I thank all the members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our missions abroad who have been working with deep commitment to uphold our national interest across nations.

On this historic day of independence, let us all vow to transform Bangladesh into a prosperous, technology-based, developed “Sonar Bangla.”

Joy Bangla, Joy Bangabandhu.                                    

May Bangladesh live forever.  

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Bangladesh in 2050: Aspirations, challenges and milestones

S.M. Anisul Haque

Law, justice and parliamentary affairs minister

Bangladesh has undergone a remarkable transformation in the 48 years since gaining independence — and disproved many predictions.

People dismissed the newborn country as an economic basket case, unable to survive on its own. Now, almost half a century later, Bangladesh has not just survived, it has made remarkable progress in ways that have eluded other nations.

It is forecast that Bangladesh will be the world’s 28th largest economy by 2030 and the 23rd largest by 2050.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers report predicted that our gross domestic product at purchasing power parity will grow to $1.324 billion in 2030 and to $3.064 billion by 2050, despite the challenges facing us.

It is also believed that transforming the huge population into assets is key to our aspiration for faster economic growth. The country’s plan to turn every village into a township will go a long way to ensure growth opportunities for every citizen, connecting them with the nation’s mainstream economic activities by 2050.

The government has also adopted a plan to address climate change vulnerability and risk factors, not only in the short term but for the next 100 years.

The government has undertaken a number of megaprojects to be implemented in the next 10 years to overcome infrastructure challenges, including a nuclear power plant, an elevated expressway, a deep sea port, and a metro railway in the capital.

These will transform existing infrastructure, while also contributing substantially to the national economy. A fast-growing manufacturing sector, thanks to the garment industry which is now second only to China’s, our economy has averaged above 6 percent annual growth for nearly a decade, reaching 7.5 percent last year.

This industry is a key factor in the country's success story. It is also the country's largest employer, providing about 4.5 million jobs and accounting for nearly 80 percent of our total merchandise exports in 2018. The industry has in recent years implemented reforms including factory upgrades, inspections, and improved worker conditions in order to maintain its competitive edge in the global market. It appears to be on track to meet the government goal of exporting $39 billion in 2019, and the country aspires to reach a $50 billion export valuation in this sector by the end of 2021 to mark the 50th anniversary of its independence.

Growth in agro-fisheries is also phenomenal. From acute food shortages in 1974, the country has achieved self-sufficiency in food production for its population of more than 170 million.

The country is now ranked third in the world in terms of freshwater fish production, and developments in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors have lifted people out of poverty. There used to be 19 percent of the population living in extreme poverty, on less than $1.25 a day, and that figure is now less than 9 percent.

Pharmaceutical manufacturing is also on the rise, with locally produced goods exported to more than 100 countries. The nation has a waiver on drug patents until 2032 and, with favorable conditions, Bangladesh is hoping to challenge Asian giants in the pharmaceutical production field in the near future.

The government is implementing an ambitious scheme to build a network of 100 special economic zones (SEZs) around the country: 11 of them are complete and 79 are under construction.

It is expected that these SEZs will cater for the country’s needs in the decades to come. These areas should also be able to guarantee foreign direct investment inflows beyond 2050.

Bangladesh also has a huge working-age youth population that should reap economic dividends until 2052. If we are able to sustain the momentum of growth for the next 30 years, and utilize the population dividend effectively, our dream of attaining the status of a developed country by 2050 is well within reach.

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The benefits of Saudi-Bangladeshi cooperation

Golam Moshi

Bangdladesh Ambassador to Riyadh

I pay tribute to the hundreds of thousands of our heroes for their supreme sacrifices for the independence of our motherland. My deep respect goes to the 3 million martyrs, freedom fighters, elderly, women, children, and all those people who withstood suffering in the war of liberation in 1971.On this auspicious occasion of our National and Independence Day, I pay my deep respect to the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who led the nation to achieve independence through a nine-month popular struggle. The greatest Bangladeshi of all time, Bangabandhu is truly the source of inspiration for our nation, and for millions of Bangladeshis living all over of the world.

I would also like to convey my heartfelt felicitations and warm greetings to the valued members of the Bangladeshi community living in the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Their hard work, contributions and invaluable support toward building our two economies are the strengthening blocks of the bonds and relationships that exist between Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh.

My deep appreciation and gratitude goes to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Majesty King Salman, and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who have extended support to the wellbeing of Bangladeshi expatriates employed in various sectors in Saudi Arabia. The extraordinary gestures and generosity of the Kingdom’s leadership and people toward the expatriate community in Saudi Arabia are always revered by the people and government of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has long maintained excellent relations with Saudi Arabia in the field of human resources, with growing engagements in trade and investment in recent years. Over these years, both countries have learned to identify potential areas of economic cooperation for mutual benefit.

The Vision 2030 reform plan, promoted by the Saudi government under the guidance of His Majesty the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and the transformational development of the Kingdom, offer Bangladesh new areas of engagement in the fields of education, agriculture, power and infrastructure.

At the same time, Bangladesh’s Vision 2021 plan to become a middle-income country, and its Vision 2041 plan to become an upper-middle-income country, warrants that Bangladesh engage in multisector cooperation with a major partner such as Saudi Arabia.

With growing engagements, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina undertook six official visits to Saudi Arabia in an effort to further strengthen bilateral relations. During these visits, she had meetings and an audience with His Majesty the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and His Royal Highness the crown prince, where the entire gamut of bilateral relations, as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest, were discussed.

Recent developments in Bangladesh, particularly in the areas of food security, housing, education and poverty reduction, were also discussed. The leaders commended the unprecedented momentum of bilateral relations in recent years, and emphasized further expansion of those ties through cooperation and engagements at different levels. They also reiterated their commitment to continued cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh as development partners.

To fulfil this commitment, exchanges of economic and investment-related delegations between the two countries, as well as utilizing opportunities for economic, cultural and defense cooperation, will play pivotal roles. It is a matter of great joy that exchanges of delegations have already commenced, resulting in both countries signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on defense cooperation on Feb. 14, 2019.

A high-level investment delegation from Saudi Arabia visited Bangladesh on March 7 and signed two agreements and four MoUs on investment cooperation. During this visit, both countries agreed to formulate a joint investment strategy and establish a ministerial-level joint working committee to oversee business and investment cooperation between the two countries. A joint business council will also be formed. Bangladesh gratefully acknowledges the kind gesture of the king and crown prince of Saudi Arabia for taking a personal interest in sending the ministerial-level investment delegation to Bangladesh in March.

Bangladesh also appreciates the great visionary roles played by King Salman and the crown prince for the development of the Muslim Ummah around the world and within the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Bangladesh welcomes and actively participates in developing a peaceful Ummah devoid of extremist views. To that end, Bangladesh, like Saudi Arabia, maintains a zero-tolerance policy against violent extremism and terrorism.

In order to suppress extremism within Muslim society, both Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia are willing to work together through sharing of information and experience. Both countries are determined to work to disseminate the real message of Islam worldwide so no one could benefit by misrepresenting the religion. It is expected that concerted initiatives will support efforts to establish a peaceful, progressive and harmonious world.

We gratefully recall Saudi support to Bangladesh regarding regional and international issues, including the Rohingya issue. Bangladesh is committed to standing by Saudi Arabia in all regional and international issues of importance to the Kingdom. Bangladesh is prepared to extend active military support to protect the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah as and when requested by the Kingdom.

Bangladesh has been playing an active role in building a peaceful world by contributing one of the largest number of troops to UN peacekeeping operations engaged in protecting and promoting the peaceful interests of all nations.

Bangladesh’s enlightened policy of highlighting the need for effective global cooperation on issues of strategic importance has made the country an important player in the UN, the Non-Aligned Movement, the OIC, the Commonwealth of Nations, and other international and regional organizations. Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia can work together for global peace and stability through the UN and the OIC.

Bangladesh assumed the chairmanship of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers from May 2018 to February 2019. During these 10 months, OIC countries met successfully at the annual coordination meeting in New York during the UN General Assembly (UNGA), and in an extraordinary summit on Palestine in 2018. Bangladesh’s leadership in New York resulted in the UNGA adopting emergency resolutions.

A number of ministerial meetings have also been hosted with tangible and verifiable outcomes, and quite a few meetings of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts have taken place. The New York chapter of the OIC, under Bangladesh’s chairmanship, agreed on some best practices and modes of work.

We hope to build on our productive engagements, both at the multilateral and bilateral levels, for a future of even closer cooperation and understanding between Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia. We would like to see the peoples of both countries going through a defining moment of heightened political and economic relationships, especially in the fields of trade, investment, education, health and manpower.

I would like to urge all members of the Bangladeshi community to contribute with their valuable experience and hard work to further accelerate the socioeconomic development of both Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh, and to further strengthen the excellent relationship between our two brotherly countries for mutual gains.

Let us all work together to fulfil the dream of Bangabandhu to make Bangladesh “Sonar Bangla,” a country of peace, prosperity and happiness under the dynamic leadership of our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Joi Bangla, Joi Bangabandhu.

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Bangladesh achieving unimpeded and envious economic growth

F.M. Borhan Uddin

Consul General of Bangladesh in Jeddah

I express my happiness to celebrate the 48th anniversary of the Independence and National Day of Bangladesh.

On this auspicious day, I recall with profound respect the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the architect of our nation. I pay special tribute to the memories of the martyrs of the liberation war, as well as to the valiant freedom fighters, whose supreme sacrifices made us free. On this wonderful occasion, I extend my sincere felicitations to the brotherly people and government of Saudi Arabia, to our friends, well-wishers and Bangladeshi expatriates living in the Kingdom.

The government of Bangladesh, under the dynamic and prudent leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has been achieving unimpeded and envious economic growth. Bangladesh will transform into a middle-income country with the implementation of Vision 2021, declared by the prime minister, and is expected to turn into a developed nation through Vision 2041. After tremendous success in achieving the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, Bangladesh is moving forward in pursuit of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Bangladesh has been able to maintain steady growth of around 6.5 percent in the last decade, and looks forward to achieving more than 7 percent in the coming years. Bangladesh has been identified as one of the Next 11 countries, which Goldman Sachs investment bank says will probably become some of the world’s largest economies in the 21st century.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, Bangladesh will be one of the top 30 countries by 2030 in terms of real gross domestic product (GDP) size. Bangladesh will be the 23rd-largest economy in the world by 2050. Bangladesh is one of the fastest-growing economies in South Asia.

In its recent study, Global Economic Views highlighted Bangladesh as a profitable investment destination for the next five, 10, 20 and 40 years. Emerging sectors of Bangladesh include garments, pharmaceuticals, shipbuilding, ceramics, jute and jute products, agriculture and processed foods. As one of the largest Muslim-majority countries, Bangladesh enjoys excellent bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia based on common Islamic values, traditions, faith, culture and mutual respect.

Over the years, Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh have played a responsible and contributory role as members of international organizations, including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the UN. We attach great importance to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its cooperation with Bangladesh as a valued development partner, particularly through the generous hosting of a significant number of Bangladeshi expatriates.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1472466/saudi-arabia

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2 Chechen militants killed, wounded in Badakhshan artillery strikes

25 Mar 2019

At least two Chechen militants were killed or wounded during the artillery strikes of Afghan armed forces in northeastern Badakhshan province.

The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North said the militants were in Ambi Yardar area of Baharak district.

According to a statement released by 209th Shaheen Corps, the artillery strikes were carried out at around 5:30 pm local time on Sunday, leaving a Chechen militant dead and another wounded.

The militan who was killed during the operation has been identified as Talah and was affiliated with Jamiat-e-Ansarullah group, the 209th Shaheen Corps said.

The 209th Shaheen Corps also added that a Taliban fighter belonging to Mullah Mansoor group was killed and another militant was wounded during the airstrikes in Kanam Village of Kunduz province on Sunday.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/2-chechen-militants-killed-wounded-in-badakhshan-artillery-strikes-03569/

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Pakistan’s PM suggests interim government setup to end impasse in Afghan peace process

26 Mar 2019

The Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has suggested an interim government setup in Afghanistan to help end the impasse in Afghan peace process.

PM Khan reportedly made the remarks during an interaction with the local journalists in his office on Monday.

He went on to claim that the Afghan government was a hurdle in peace process as it was insisting on direct talks with the Taliban group.

According to PM Khan, a neutral interim government can help with the success of peace process in Afghanistan by holding a free and transparent election.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/pakistans-pm-suggests-interim-government-setup-to-end-impasse-in-afghan-peace-process-03575/

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Prominent Taliban leader Mullah Turab arrested in Nangarhar province

25 Mar 2019

A prominent Taliban leader identified as Mullah Turab has been arrested during an operation of Afghan security forces in eastern Nangarhar province.

The Ministry of Interior in a statement said Mullah Turab was arrested during an operation of the Special Forces of Afghan National in Surkh Roddistrict.

The statement further added that the operation was conducted on Sunday night and as a result three other militants were also arrested and a motorycle and a weapon were confiscated.

According to Ministry of Interior, Mullah Turab was involved in planning terrorist attacks in Surkh Rod district and was leading a group of 40 militants.

The Afghan Police Special Forces did not suffer casualties during the operation, the Ministry of said.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/prominent-taliban-leader-mullah-turab-arrested-in-nangarhar-province-03574/

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Airstrikes kill Taliban’s newly-appointed shadow intelligence chief for Sangin of Helmand

25 Mar 2019

The newly-appointed shadow intelligence chief of Taliban for Sangin district has been killed durig the airstrikes conducted by security forces on Monday, the provincial government said.

According to a statement released by media office of Helmand government, the airstrike was carried out in Sharafat Bazar area of Sangin targeting a compound of Taliban.

The statement further added that the newly-appointed shadow intelligence chief of Taliban Jahadyar was killed along with 5 others in the airstrike.

A military source also confirmed “Airstrikes in Sangin district of Helmand province killed Taliban fighters today. More than 20 Taliban fighters have been killed in Helmand in the last week.”

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/airstrikes-kill-talibans-newly-appointed-shadow-intelligence-chief-for-sangin-of-helmand-03572/

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Africa

 

Ethnic violence kills 136 in Mali, army generals sacked

Mar 25, 2019

Mali’s government on Sunday announced the sacking of senior military officers and the dissolution of an ethnic militia, a day after the massacre of more than 130 Fulani villagers, including women and children.

Survivors of the attack said ethnic Dogon hunters carried out the deadly raid a day earlier in Ogossagou, a village in central Mali inhabited by the Fulani community.

At least 136 men, women and children were killed in the attack, according to a “provisional toll,” public television ORTM said late Sunday. The television showed images of burned huts and livestock and shell casings in the village.

In the wake of the violence, the army chief of staff General M’Bemba Moussa Keita was removed and replaced by General Abdoulaye Coulibaly, while chief of land forces General Abdrahamane Baby was replaced by Brigadier-General Keba Sangare.

Mali’s Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga said in a statement after an emergency cabinet meeting that President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita had also ordered the dissolution of an anti-militant vigilante group called Dan Na Amassagou.

Some of the group’s ethnic Dogon fighters were suspected of being behind the attack.

The dissolution of the militia was to send a clear message, Maiga told journalists: “The protection of the population will remain the monopoly of the state.”

While local attacks are fueled by accusations of Fulani herders grazing cattle on Dogon land and disputes over access to land and water, the area is also troubled by Takfiri influence.

The Takfiri militants active in the region have consistently tried to exploit a sense of persecution among the Fulani, whose semi-nomadic, pastoral way of life sometimes brings them into conflict with more settled farmers like the Dogon, by arming and training them. Some Dogon traditional hunters in turn took up arms to protect themselves.

The ethnic bloodshed took place less than a week after a deadly assault by Takfiri terrorists on an army post killed at least 23 soldiers, also in Mali’s central region. That attack was claimed by an al-Qaeda affiliate.

A government delegation led by Justice Minister Tiena Coulibaly went to the site of the latest massacre Sunday. They were sent by the president to “tell the people of Ogossagou that what happened here is unacceptable and that it will not go unpunished,” Coulibaly said.

Malians have grown increasingly frustrated by the failure of government forces to protect them from both Takfiri militant onslaughts and ethnic reprisals. But the massacre of civilians at the villages of Ogossagou and Welingara on Saturday, which left the charred bodies of women and children smoldering in their homes, has shocked a population long inured to gratuitous killing.

UN, EU react

The UN Children’s Fund said, “Malian children are paying a heavy price for the intensification of violence.”

“Growing insecurity since 2017 has led to an increase in murders, mutilations and the recruitment of children,” UNICEF said.

For its part, the European Union called for “immediate steps (including) the disarmament and dismantling of all militias” in Mali.

It was the deadliest attack since the end of the 2013 French-led military intervention in the country.

The massacre took place as a delegation from the UN Security Council visited the Sahel region to assess the threats being posed by the Takfiri militants there.

The secretary general is shocked and outraged” by the bloodshed, Antonio Guterres’s spokesman said in a statement late Saturday.

The UN chief called on the Malian authorities “to swiftly investigate it and bring the perpetrators to justice,” the statement added.

Guterres’s spokesman said the UN mission in Mali, MINUSMA, provided air support to deter further attacks and assisted with the evacuation of the injured.

The attack was launched at dawn on Saturday in the village near the border with Burkina Faso, in a district that has seen frequent inter-communal violence.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/03/25/591845/Mali-villages-massacre-militants-dissolution-prime-minister-UN

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Somalia: Al-Shabaab Claims Attack On Government Building in Mogadishu

23 MARCH 2019

Somali militant group al-Shabab has launched yet another complex attack in the capital, Mogadishu, witnesses, and officials say. A car bomb blast rocked the Shangani district of Mogadishu early Saturday.

Witnesses said the explosion targeted a building housing the ministries of Labor and of General Works, Reconstruction, and Housing. The Headquarters of Mogadishu regional police are also located in the area.

A second explosion was reported minutes later in the same area. Witnesses said the explosion came from another car believed to have been used by armed gunmen. The gunmen stormed the building according to witnesses.

Gunfire has been heard at the building housing the two ministries. Pictures taken by local media show some of the workers escaping through the back windows.

The al-Shabab militant group claimed responsibility for the attack. Through its affiliate media, al-Shabab also claimed its fighters entered the buildings of Labor, and General Works, Reconstruction & Housing.

Full report at:

https://allafrica.com/stories/201903250618.html

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Boko Haram kills 7 Niger villagers near Nigeria border

March 25, 2019

Boko Haram jihadists killed at least seven villagers in a series of attacks in southeastern Niger near the border with Nigeria, a local official and an NGO said Sunday.

The attackers carried out three separate raids overnight Saturday, said a senior official in the Diffa region, which borders northeastern Nigeria, Boko Haram's base.

In the course of the raids they killed seven people, abducted two women and burned down a market and several houses, the official said.

Alternative Espace Citoyen, a group active in the region, posted a message on Facebook saying there had been four attacks in which 11 people had been killed.

Already last Thursday, a Boko Haram attack in Karidi, a village on the border with Nigeria, killed eight people including one woman, according to local officials.

On March 9, jihadists killed nine Niger soldiers in an attack in the same area. And another seven soldiers perished last month in a Boko Haram attack on their position near the border.

Earlier this month, the authorities in Niger said they had killed 33 Boko Haram fighters in an operation in the region.

Diffa, which borders northeastern Nigeria, has suffered a string of cross-border raids.

An estimated 27,000 people have been killed and two million displaced since Boko Haram launched its insurgency in 2009.

Full report at:

https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/boko-haram-kills-7-niger-villagers-near-nigeria-border-119032500044_1.html

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Jordan king cancels Romania visit in Jerusalem Embassy row

March 25, 2019

AMMAN: The Jordanian Royal Hashemite Court announced on Monday that King Abdullah II had decided to cancel a visit to Romania.

Osama Salameh, a spokesman for the royal court, confirmed to Arab News that the trip “had been scheduled to start Monday,” but that “in solidarity with Jerusalem, and following Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila’s remarks expressing the intention to move her country’s embassy to Jerusalem, the king has decided not to travel to Romania.”

A royal court press release said that King Abdullah’s visit to Romania, “which currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, had been planned to include meetings with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and Parliament leaders.”

The king had also been scheduled to participate in the Aqaba meetings, which had been planned to be hosted by Romania in partnership with Jordan.

The Jordanian and Romanian governments had been due to sign an agreement, two memorandums of understanding and a cooperation program, while a Jordanian-Romanian business forum had been planned to be held with the participation of private-sector representatives from the two countries.

Wafa Bani Mustafa, a veteran member of the Jordanian Parliament and a member of the International Parliament, told Arab News that the king’s decision “is an important message to all those countries that are trying to follow the isolationist decisions of the United States.”

Bani Mustafa said that the decision of the king follows his appeal a week earlier for public support for the pressures that are being placed on Jordan regarding Jerusalem and the Palestinian cause.

“For us in Jordan the issue of Jerusalem is not only a Palestinian issue but it is part and parcel of Jordan’s national interests.”

David Rihani, spokesperson for the Jordan Evangelical Council, said the king’s decision was a clear message to the world of his solidarity with Jerusalem to remain a holy city for all.

“His Majesty is steadfast in his position for a just and a comprehensive peace in the region,” he said.

Wasfi Kailani, the director of the Royal Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa, told Arab News that the Romanian move is risky for both regional peace and the Jordanian safeguarding of Jerusalem’s Holy Sites.

“For His Majesty, as custodian of Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian holy sites, nothing encourages the Israeli escalation of illegal violations on the ground more than the international community’s blessings and silence toward Israel’s flagrant desecrations of Jerusalem’s genuine identity.”

Kailani said that moving the embassy of “a UN member state to Occupied Jerusalem does not only erode the status quo and kills peace but also it puts the credibility of the UN at risk.”

Hamadeh Farneh, a member of the Palestine National Council and a former Jordanian member of Parliament, told Arab News that Jerusalem is important to Hashemites and King Abdullah.

“Jerusalem is the source of the historic and religious legitimacy and what affects Jerusalem infringes on Jordan’s legitimacy.”

Faraneh said that the decision to cancel the trip to Romania is intended to “reflect the King’s anger and to ensure that countries like Romania don’t get any rewards for such decisions.”

Ahmad Awad, the director of the Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies, told Arab News that the king’s decision was in the interests of Jordan and in support of the Palestinian cause.

“Jerusalem is occupied by Israel and this decision is a message to all that our interests and our causes are the compass to which we focus our political decisions.”

Mahdi Abdul Hadi, a member of the Islamic Waqf Council and head of the PASSIA think tank in Jerusalem, told Arab News that the decision of the government of Romania to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem represented a preemptive decision to the two-state solution, in violation of international law.

“The government of Romania’s announcement is an attack on Palestinian national, political and religious rights that panders to the Israeli occupation narrative of Jerusalem, one that is strongly rejected by the international community. The king of Jordan’s decision to cancel his visit is not only in line with international consensus but also a clear message that Jerusalem is a red line.”

Khalil Atiyeh, one of the most popular members of the Jordanian Parliament, told Arab News that the King’s move is part of a continuous royal interest in Jerusalem.

“The decision as stated by the prime minister of Romania is refused in Jordan by the King, the government and the people. We are proud of the royal decisions and we stand behind the king as he exposes the Zionist entity.”

Fawzi Samhouri, a Jordanian human rights activist, told Arab News that the decision by the king is a practical translation of his statement in Zarqa that Jerusalem is a red line and that he will never agree to any decision that affects Jerusalem as the capital of the independent Palestinian state.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1472156/middle-east

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Europe

 

French Muslim group sues Facebook, YouTube over Christchurch footage

Mar 26, 2019

PARIS: One of the main groups representing Muslims in France said on Monday it was suing Facebook and YouTube, accusing them of inciting violence by allowing the streaming of footage of the Christchurch massacre on their platforms.

The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) said the companies had disseminated material that encouraged terrorism and harmed the dignity of human beings. There was no immediate comment from either company.

The shooting at two mosques in New Zealand on March 15, which killed 50 people, was live-streamed on Facebook for 17 minutes and then copied and shared on social media sites across the internet.

Facebook said it raced to remove hundreds of thousands of copies.

But a few hours after the attack, the footage could still be found on Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube, as well as Facebook-owned Instagram and Whatsapp.

Abdallah Zekri, president of the CFCM’s Islamophobia monitoring unit, said the organization had launched a formal legal complaint against Facebook and YouTube in France.

Both companies have faced widespread criticism over the footage.

The chair of the US House Committee on Homeland Security wrote a letter last week to top executives of four major technology companies urging them to do a better job of removing violent political content.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/03/25/french-muslim-group-sues-facebook-youtube-over-christchurch-footage/

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Pig’s head found at site for mosque in France

March 26, 2019

BORDEAUX: Workers building a mosque in southwestern France found a pig’s head and animal blood at the entrance to the site on Monday, the latest in a series of attacks on Muslim places of worship over the past decade.

Construction of the mosque in the small town of Bergerac — known for its fine Bordeaux wines and for its association with literary figure Cyrano de Bergerac — has been contested since it was first proposed in 2017 and finally approved in October 2018, despite widespread local opposition.

“The perpetrators smeared the walls with animal blood and placed a severed pig’s head” on the front gate of the construction area, the deputy public prosecutor of Bergerac, Charles Charollois, said.

The vandalism took place overnight and wasn’t discovered until workers arrived in the morning. “This building project is controversial,” Charollois said.

“There have been administrative and legal appeals to stop it, so there are many leads for us to follow.” Bergerac’s police commissioner, Frederic Perissat, “strongly denounced and condemned these acts that damage our freedom of conscience and expression and are contrary to the principles of separation of church and state,” and called for “mutual respect” in the community.

Over the past few days, posters declaring “Bergerac is the city of Perigord, not Islam!” — referring to the former name of the Dordogne region — had been pasted around the town, according to its mayor Daniel Garrigue.

“I can’t say that they’re connected, but I note that they’re in the same spirit,” Garrigue said.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1471951/pigs-head-found-at-site-for-mosque-in-france

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Three Russian servicemen killed in Syria

Elena Teslova  

26.03.2019

MOSCOW

Three Russian servicemen were killed in eastern Syria in a militant attack late February, the Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.

The Russian troops were returning back to their base after delivering humanitarian aid to a village in the city of Deir ez-Zor.

They were caught in an ambush and later went missing.

The group, involved in the attack, was found and destroyed, a statement by the ministry said.

The bodies of Russian soldiers were delivered to their country, it added.

Russia launched a military operation in Syria in September 2015.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/three-russian-servicemen-killed-in-syria/1430029

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Southeast Asia

 

Hadi responds to Taliban slur with communist jibe

25 March 2019

By Justin Ong

KUALA LUMPUR, March 25 — PAS president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang suggested yesterday those comparing his party to the Taliban were supported by Communists, in a poem appeared intended for DAP’s Nga Kor Ming.

Deputy Speaker Nga reportedly warned that the PAS-Umno collaboration risked introducing Taliban-style rule in Malaysia, leading to repeated disagreements with Opposition lawmakers both in and outside of Parliament.

Hadi posted his short poem on his Facebook account yesterday.

“You accuse us of being Taliban; behind you are the Communists,” he wrote.

“Uphold Islam, Malays and all safe races!”

Opposition leaders continue to criticise Nga over the Taliban comparison, using it to question his impartiality in his role as a Deputy Speaker.

Nga has resisted calls for him to apologise and withdraw the remark, insisting it was “hearsay” as the offending statement was from a Chinese vernacular newspaper report.

The row led him to suspend Umno’s Tan Sri Noh Omar from Parliament last week after latter called Nga unfit to be Deputy Speaker.

The Taliban regime in Afghanistan is synonymous with extreme religious conservatism and violence.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/03/25/hadi-responds-to-taliban-slur-with-communist-jibe/1736187

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Muslim lawyers want observer status in Arun Kasi contempt case

March 25, 2019

PETALING JAYA: The Muslim Lawyers’ Association has applied for a watching brief in contempt proceedings against lawyer Arunachalam Kasi, better known as Arun Kasi, who wrote two articles critical of a court judgement in February.

MLA president Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar said the committal proceedings brought by Attorney-General Tommy Thomas provided cause for concern, as the outcome of the case would have a wide ramification on the legal profession.

He said a lawyer must be allowed to act without fear or favour in conducting a case. “A lawyer cannot be above the law but he can express his views even it means supporting or criticising court judgments,” he said.

The Bar Council has also appointed lawyer Robert Lazar to observe the proceedings and to make submissions if invited by the court.

The Federal Court will hear the charge against Arun on March 28

Arun Kasi had written two articles about an affidavit of Court of Appeal Judge, Abdul Hamid Abu Backer which described alleged judicial misconduct.

The articles, published at the Aliran website, were under the headlines “How a dissenting judgment sparked a major judicial crisis” on Feb 16 and “Tommy Thomas must look into arbitration centre that sparked judicial crisis” on Feb 22.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/03/25/muslim-lawyers-want-observer-status-in-arun-kasi-contempt-case/

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