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Islamic World News (23 Dec 2013 NewAgeIslam.Com)



Sex, Drugs and Beards: An Afternoon at a Porn Cinema in Pakistan Taliban's Heartland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pakistani street vendors and pedestrians gathered outside the Shama cinema in Peshawar, on December 19, 2013, © AFP A. Majeed

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pakistan

Sex, Drugs and Beards: An Afternoon at a Porn Cinema in Pakistan Taliban's Heartland

15 clerics arrested as police launch crackdown against ‘trouble makers’

Residents allege dozens of civilians killed in Waziristan action

Pakistani army launches offensive near Afghan border

Pakistan to ‘reiterate’ demand for greater UN observers’ role along LoC

Brain drain: 2.7m Pakistanis have exited country in last 5 years

 

Arab World

Iraq's Maliki vows to act against 'Qaeda' protest site

Officials: Attacks west of Baghdad kill 8 troops

Six prisoners freeze to death in Syria

Egypt jails Ahmed Maher and other secular activists

Saudi Shiite jailed for 30 years over protests

Prominent Egyptian judges summoned for 'law violation'

 

Mideast

Huthi-Salafi Clashes Killing Continue

Persecution of Christians in the Middle East is a crime against humanity

Agents, traitors can’t rule Turkey, says PM Erdoğan

Iran's Rouhani eyes rebuilding relations with United States

 

South Asia

Bangladesh war criminal's hanging enrages Islamist network

Rab ‘detains’ Dhaka Hefazat chief, ‘frees’ later

Chhatra Sangram Parishad demands ban on Jamaat-Shibir

Maldives – India mutual easing of visa restrictions expected with President’s visit

Hundreds of Afghan asylum seekers demand residency permits in Belgium

NATO soldier killed in attack in eastern Afghanistan

 

India

Muslim Youth murdered, shrine of Prophet Shis damaged at Ayodhya

India, Pakistan fishermen demand end to arrests

India shuts down South Sudan oilfields, evacuates employees

 

North America

Islamic charity official, Abd al-Rahman al-Nu’aymi, accused in ties with Al Qaeda

US may take further military action in South Sudan: Obama

Christians and Muslims Can Unite Under Religious Similarities

NSA snooping may have stopped 9/11 attack: Rep. Peter King

US not to deploy poll observers for Bangladesh general election

Pakistan may allow drone strikes if given control over campaign: Former CIA official

 

Europe

Marks & Spencer apologizes after saying Muslim staff may refuse to serve pork and alcohol

Dozens of hate clerics in UK to be silenced by new anti-terror orders

British MP calls to stop anti-Christian violence in the Middle East

Anjem Choudary being used in Al-Shabaab recruiting video

Syria must answer for Indian-origin doctor's 'sickening' death: Cameron

 

Southeast Asia

Jais urged to act against Christians using ‘Allah’ behind closed-doors

Call for ‘debate’ on liberalism to clear confusion spread among Muslims

 

Africa

CAR imam claims French killed 3 Muslims in Bangui

Tunisia's Islamists, opponents set handover date to a caretaker government

South Sudan conflict ‘political, not tribal’: Diplomat

Humanitarian Partners Are Preparing for Voluntary Returns of Somali Refugees in Kenya

International Islamic Relief Organization helps the visually impaired in Nigeria

Battle looms as South Sudan army moves on rebel-held town

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

For Details and More Headlines from All Regions, Please click, ‘More’

 URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/sex,-drugs-and-beards--an-afternoon-at-a-porn-cinema-in-pakistan-taliban-s-heartland/d/34969

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Pakistan

 

Sex, Drugs and Beards: An Afternoon at a Porn Cinema in Pakistan Taliban's Heartland

Dec 23, 2013

Peshawar (Pakistan): Three times a day dozens of men pack the auditorium, the air heavy with hashish smoke, to watch graphic sex movies: welcome to the Shama -- a pornographic cinema in Pakistan's Taliban heartland.

For more than 30 years it has supplied erotic fantasies in Peshawar, the main city of north-western Pakistan which borders the tribal districts that are a haven for Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants. Terrified of being recognised, the Shama's customers hide their faces as they make their way to the cinema between a goat market and a bus station.

There are three X-rated shows a day in the Shama's discreet back room, while the main hall is reserved for mainstream movies -- the only ones advertised outside.

"Class X" customers pay 200 rupees ($1.90) and after a brief search by a Kalashnikov-toting guard, they are whisked through a courtyard and down a concrete passageway. Inside the auditorium a thick cloud of cannabis smoke hangs over the 20-odd rows of tattered fake-leather seats.

During one showing, the hall was more than half full, populated by labourers, farmers, students and others who had come to escape the day-to-day claustrophobia of life in a deeply conservative Muslim region where family and neighbours keep a close eye on everything.

Most arrive alone and want to remain so, arranging themselves around the seats to avoid sitting next to anyone.

They are all soon gripped by the drama of the day's offering, "Dostana" ("Friendship"), a semi-amateur production made for the Shama in the more liberal eastern city of Lahore.

The plot hinges on a romantic dilemma: the hero, Shah Sawar ("the Horseman" in the local language) cannot decide whether to marry his sweetheart Gulpana or his cousin Doa, chosen for him as a wife by his family.

He decides to "test" his would-be brides and much of the film's two hours is taken up with long and extremely graphic sex scenes between the Horseman and his paramours.

VA reverential hush reigns over the audience throughout, broken only by a few suspicious noises from certain rows, while at least half sneak out before the end.

The formula has made the Shama one of Peshawar's most successful cinemas at a time when many others have been forced to close.

The Islamisation that Pakistan witnessed in the 1980s persuaded many that the silver screen was a sinful deprivation bad for the soul of a good Muslim.

The rise of videos, DVDs and the Internet accelerated the decline and now of around 15 cinemas in Peshawar 20 years ago, only seven remain.

Three of them show pornography, sometimes discreetly via clips hidden part way through mainstream action movies. The Shama, the best-known of the three, is regularly full, with tickets three or four times the price of normal films.

Key to its success is showing local-made pornography, which is much harder to find in Peshawar -- or on the Internet -- than Western adult films.

Coming to see "Dostana" for a second time, Khaliq Khan, 30, said: "Like a lot of people here I prefer films with Pakistani girls. It's better, it seems more amateur, more real."

"Dostana" is certainly amateurish, with actors regularly turning to the camera quizzically, looking for direction for their next move.

The dialogue is dubbed in Pashto, the main language of the northwest, with an enthusiasm somewhat at odds with the bored, uninterested way the actors seem to be speaking in the original Punjabi.

But Janus Khan is quite happy. After the screening the labourer, 22, admitted he regularly came to the Shama "to enjoy myself, alone or with one or two friends".

"I'm not very pious but I'm not a rapist or unfaithful," he told a news agency.

The Shama has provoked controversy in Pakistan, a constitutional Islamic republic with a very conservative attitude to sex and nudity.

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), one of the country's leading religious political parties, has demanded the closure of the cinema.

But the cinema has powerful owners -- the Bilour family, one of the most influential in Peshawar and a pillar of the Pashtun nationalist ANP party.

Twice in the last 10 years Islamist activists including JI students have attacked the Shama, but both times the cinema has risen again.

Burned down in September 2012, it reopened a month later just in time for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, which saw the Shama full.

How the cinema has avoided the attentions of the government censors, who cut even kissing from films, and the Taliban, who have destroyed countless supposedly "immoral" CD and DVD shops in recent years, is not clear.

In private, officials point to the wealth and influence of the Bilours -- always useful in a chaotic and corrupt country.

Back on the screen, "Dostana" draws to its conclusion with the indecisive Shah Sawar drowning his sorrows in alcohol.

Still unable to decide he summons the two women for a final ménage-a-trois and in the film's climax at last resolves to marry them both.

http://zeenews.india.com/news/south-asia/an-afternoon-at-a-porn-cinema-in-pakistan-taliban-s-heartland_898751.html

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15 clerics arrested as police launch crackdown against ‘trouble makers’

MOHAMMAD ASGHAR

2013-12-23

RAWALPINDI: The Punjab government has decided to arrest the local leadership of various sects who have been listed as potential trouble makers, and apprehended 15 local clerics on Sunday night.

The decision was taken to avoid sectarian clash as the government has already announced that there would be no change in Chehlum route to be held on December 24.

A senior police official told Dawn that the district administration and police were trying to convince clerics of Madressah Taleemul Quran to either postpone or cancel their two-day conference (December 23 and 24) which would be held in front of the madressah on the Chehlum procession’s route.

“A list of trouble makers has been prepared and more arrests will be made within 24 hours,” the official said.

Another police official revealed that 15 members of religious groups, including those of ASWJ, had been arrested so far.

“Some of them belong to proscribed outfits and their names are being withheld,” he said.

The official said some wanted clerics had gone into hiding following the crackdown.

According to the source, Nasrullah (Khateeb Jamia Masjid Sultan Mohammad) Khurram Colony, Qari Khurram Shahzad (Naib-Khateeb Jamia Masjid Madni Anwar Colony Shakryal) and Qari Mohammad Idrees Haqani (Khateeb Jamia Masjid Rehmania) were among those arrested.

However, District Coordination Officer (DCO) Sajid Zafar Dall said talks with the clerics had not ended as the provincial government was in contact with ASWJ leaders.

More police were deployed at all Imambargahs in the city, he added.

The police also launched a search operation in the city and 150 people were detained for questioning on Sunday night.

According to the security plan, 6,000 policemen will be deployed on December 24, and 10 companies of Army and Rangers will be called to assist the police. However, the army will remain on call, a senior police official revealed.

Similarly, the City District Government Rawalpindi (CDGR) on Sunday night made arrangements to ensure relief to citizens in case an emergency is imposed following the arrest of the alleged trouble makers.

Giving details of the plan, Additional District Collector General Mohammad Ali Randhawa told Dawn that in case of a curfew, CDGR would establish 10 mobile shops to provide edibles to city areas.

He added that 20 camps would be established along the Chehlum route and 20 shuttle bus services would be run to provide service to the residents.

Meanwhile, as part of their efforts to convince Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman of JUI-F to support them, a delegation of clerics led by Maulana Ashraf Ali (incharge Madressah Taleemul Quran) held a meeting with the JUI-F leader at the Parliament Lodges.

The meeting, which was attended by Maulana Aziz-ur-Rehman Hazarvi, Qari Abdul Rasheed and Senator Talha Mehmood, started at about 4:45pm and continued for an hour and a half on Sunday evening.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1075812/15-clerics-arrested-as-police-launch-crackdown-against-trouble-makers

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Residents allege dozens of civilians killed in Waziristan action

2013-12-23

ISLAMABAD: Residents of Pakistan's ethnic Pashtun region of North Waziristan accused government troops on Monday of killing dozens of civilians during military action against Taliban insurgents.

The operation started just after a Dec 18 suicide bomb attack on a checkpoint in North Waziristan, a stronghold for al Qaeda-linked Taliban militants on Pakistan's mountainous border with Afghanistan.

Speculation that the army might launch a major offensive in the frontier tribal areas has been building as the government's attempts to engage the Pakistani Taliban in peace talks have floundered in recent months.

A Pakistan military spokesman speaking to Dawn.com reiterated that "the military action against the terrorists in North Waziristan on 19th December was in response to an attempt by terrorists to ambush a military convoy."

He further said that "the intelligence based sting military operation later, was specifically targeted against foreign terrorists holed up in a nearby compound. Over 30 terrorists, mostly Uzbeks were killed." and added that "Security forces exercised utmost restraint to avoid any collateral damage."

Authorities imposed a curfew across the region and residents claimed that many people had fled from their homes after days of shelling and raids by helicopter gunships.

Resident Muhammed Tayyab said he lost three of his children and his wife in the shelling.

“On the first day of the attack an artillery shell hit the room where my kids and wife were sleeping,” Tayyab told Reuters by telephone. “The government has put them to sleep forever.”

Residents put the civilian death toll at several dozen.

“From the first day of the attack until now 70 civilians have been killed,” alleged a tribal elder in Mir Ali who declined to be identified for fear of state reprisals. “Some truck drivers and hotel and shop keepers were shot directly, and dozens were killed by gunships, mortars, and artillery shelling on the civilian population.”

Reports from North Waziristan are hard to verify independently because journalists and observers are not allowed to work on the ground in the heavily militarised region.

The Pashtun lands along the Afghan border have never been brought under the full control of any government.

Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur said insurgents would respond by launching a full scale counter offensive on army positions if attacks against civilians did not stop on Monday.

Residents said bodies were left in the open in the villages of Mosaki and Hasukhel as terrified villagers fled the area.

“We are moving our families to keep them safe but the army's mortars and shells are following us,” said Asad Sher of Mir Ali.”Please tell us where is it safe."

"The army is demolishing our homes and bazaars.” Malik Gul Salehjan, another man, claimed: “My children are asking me for bread but I am not able to give them anything because there is nothing in my house.”

A North Waziristan administration official said tribal elders and army representatives convened a jirga, or meeting, on Monday to try to find a negotiated end to hostilities.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1075892/residents-allege-dozens-of-civilians-killed-in-waziristan-action

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Pakistani army launches offensive near Afghan border

Dec 23, 2013

Residents of Pakistan's ethnic Pashtun region of North Waziristan accused government troops on Monday of killing dozens of civilians during a military operation against Taliban insurgents.

The operation started just after a Dec. 18 suicide bomb attack on a checkpoint in North Waziristan, a stronghold for al Qaeda-linked Taliban militants on Pakistan's mountainous border with Afghanistan.

Speculation that the army might launch a major offensive in the frontier tribal areas has been building as the government's attempts to engage the Pakistani Taliban in peace talks have floundered in recent months.

Military officials said at least 23 militants had been killed in clashes with security forces in the Mir Ali region of North Waziristan following the suicide attack. Pakistani authorities imposed a curfew across the lawless region and residents said many people had fled from their homes after days of shelling and raids by helicopter gunships.

Resident Muhammed Tayyab said he lost three of his children and his wife in the shelling. "On the first day of the attack an artillery shell hit the room where my kids and wife were sleeping," Tayyab told Reuters by telephone.

"The government has put them to sleep forever." Residents put the civilian death toll at several dozen. "From the first day of the attack until now 70 civilians have been killed," said a tribal elder in Mir Ali who declined to be identified for fear of state reprisals.

"Some truck drivers and hotel and shop keepers were shot directly, and dozens were killed by gunships, mortars, and artillery shelling on the civilian population."

The army did not respond to Reuters telephone calls and text messages requesting a comment on the allegations of civilian deaths in North Waziristan.

Reports from North Waziristan are hard to verify independently because journalists and observers are not allowed to work on the ground in the heavily militarised region.

The Pashtun lands along the Afghan border have never been brought under the full control of any government. Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur said insurgents would respond by launching a full scale counter offensive on army positions if attacks against civilians did not stop on Monday.

Residents said bodies were left in the open in the villages of Mosaki and Hasukhel as terrified villagers fled the area. "We are moving our families to keep them safe but the army's mortars and shells are following us," said Asad Sher of Mir Ali.

"Please tell us where is safe. The army is demolishing our homes and bazaars." Malik Gul Salehjan, another man, said: "My children are asking me for bread but I am not able to give them anything because there is nothing in my house."

A North Waziristan administration official said tribal elders and army representatives convened a jirga, or meeting, on Monday to try to find a negotiated end to hostilities.

http://www.dnaindia.com/world/report-pakistani-army-launches-offensive-near-afghan-border-1939577

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Pakistan to ‘reiterate’ demand for greater UN observers’ role along LoC

Sameer Arshad,TNN | Dec 23, 2013

LAHORE: Pakistan is likely to reiterate its demand for a "greater role" for the UN military observers to end cross-Line of Control (LoC) tensions and to ensure better implementation of the 2003 ceasefire agreement along the 778-km long de facto India-Pakistan border in Jammu & Kashmir.

Pakistani daily 'The Express Tribune' reported this citing unmanned officials on Tuesday ahead of director general of military operations (DGMO) Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia's meeting with his Pakistani counterpart, Maj Gen Amir Riaz, on the Pakistani side of the Wagah border near Lahore a day later.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Pakistan-to-reiterate-demand-for-greater-UN-observers-role-along-LoC/articleshow/27792820.cms

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Brain drain: 2.7m Pakistanis have exited country in last 5 years

 December 23, 2013

ISLAMABAD: A total of 2,765,789 citizens, including 31,607 from Balochistan, have proceeded abroad for employment opportunities over the last five years, state the latest figures released by the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development.

According to the figures from January 2008 to September 2013, the selection of the workers was prerogative of the foreign employers which is based on the criteria “right person for the right job”.

In an earlier report, the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis had stated that 5,873,539 Pakistanis have emigrated from 1981 to 2012, out of which a staggering 41,498 professional and technical workers left in 2012 alone.

The reasons may be varied, but Pakistan will lose out on human resource if the brain drain trend continues.

Full report at:

http://tribune.com.pk/story/649347/brain-drain-2-7m-pakistanis-have-exited-country-in-last-5-years/

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Arab World

 

Iraq's Maliki vows to act against 'Qaeda' protest site

December 23, 2013

Baghdad (AFP) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Sunday that an anti-government sit-in has become a headquarters for Al-Qaeda, and called for protesters to depart before security forces move in.

If security forces move against the site, where Sunni Arab demonstrators have gathered for almost a year, it would likely inflame widespread discontent among the minority community and could add to the already-rampant violence plaguing the country.

Maliki's remarks came a day after a disastrous military operation against militants in the mostly Sunni Anbar province west of Baghdad, in which five senior officers and 10 other soldiers were killed.

The protest site is located near the Anbar city of Ramadi, while the operation took place elsewhere in the province.

"I say clearly and honestly that the sit-in site in Anbar has turned into a headquarters for the leadership of Al-Qaeda," Maliki, a Shiite, said in remarks broadcast Sunday on Iraqiya state TV.

Full report at:

http://news.yahoo.com/iraq-39-maliki-vows-act-against-39-qaeda-182821503.html

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Officials: Attacks west of Baghdad kill 8 troops

December 23, 2013

BAGHDAD: Iraqi officials say attacks in and near a western Baghdad suburb have killed four officers and four soldiers.

A police officer says militants fired mortar rounds into a military base in Abu Ghraib, west of the Iraqi capital, killing three officers and three soldiers. Seven soldiers were wounded in that attack.

Full report at:

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Dec-23/242074-shelling-kills-four-iraq-army-officers-two-troops-officials.ashx#ixzz2pIMy6Sco

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Six prisoners freeze to death in Syria

World Bulletin / News Desk

December 23, 2013

Six prisoners froze to death at regime-controlled Aleppo Central Prison, the Syrian Network for Human Rights said on Monday.

The prison hosts over 4,000 prisoners and has been under siege for a long time by opposition groups.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/?aType=haber&ArticleID=125520

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Egypt jails Ahmed Maher and other secular activists

December 23, 2013

Three prominent Egyptian activists from the 2011 uprising that led to the fall of Hosni Mubarak have been sentenced to three years in jail.

Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma and Mohamed Adel were found guilty of organising a recent unauthorised protest.

They were arrested after protesting in November over a new controversial law that restricts demonstrations.

The move will deepen concern in Egypt about a growing crackdown on dissent, says the BBC's Orla Guerin in Cairo.

Full report at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-25484064

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Saudi Shiite jailed for 30 years over protests

23 Dec 2013

A Shiite citizen of mainly Sunni Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to 30 years in jail for violence and protesting against Riyadh's 2011 intervention in neighbouring Bahrain, media reported Monday.

The defendant, whose name was not given, was found guilty of taking part in protests in Qatif in Eastern Province and calling for the withdrawal of Saudi forces sent to Bahrain.

Saudis helped Bahraini security forces to crush a Shiite-led uprising demanding democratic reforms in Sunni-ruled but Shiite-majority Bahrain in March 2011.

The defendant was charged with throwing petrol bombs at security forces who intervened to disperse protests in Qatif, Al-Hayat newspaper reported.

It said both the accused and the prosecutor, who had demanded the death penalty, will appeal.

Full report at:

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/89821/World/Region/Saudi-Shiite-jailed-for--years-over-protests.aspx

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Prominent Egyptian judges summoned for 'law violation'

23 Dec 2013

Investigative judge Mohamed Shereen Fahmy summoned on Sunday founding members of ‘Judges for Egypt’ over allegations of forming a group that violates the law.

The summoned judges include former ministers of justice Ahmed Mekki and Ahmed Soliman, ex-presidential advisor to Mohamed Morsi Mahmoud Mekki, former head of the 2012 constituent assembly Hossam El-Gheriany, former deputy head of the appeals court Mahmoud El-Khodeiry and ex-head of the Judges Club Zakaria Abdel-Aziz.

El-Khodeiry, former head of the post-Mubarak People’s Assembly legislative committee, was arrested on 26 November on accusations of inciting torture, according to one of the defendant's lawyers.

Full report at:

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/89816/Egypt/Politics-/Prominent-Egyptian-judges-summoned-for-law-violati.aspx

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Mideast

 

Huthi-Salafi Clashes Killing Continue

By NY Staff

December 23, 2013

Twelve people have been killed in fighting that is ongoing in northern Yemen between Huthi rebels and Islamists backed by local tribes, a tribal source said.

Huthi rebels have been battling the Sanaa government for nearly a decade in the remote Saada province.

” Twelve  Huthis and two tribesmen were killed over the past three days  in the clashes, which are continuing intermittently,” particularly in the Kitaf area in the north of Saada and in neighboring Amran province, the source told NY.

The source did not say when the men had died. A spokesman for the Salafis, Khaled al-Azzani, confirmed the toll to NY.

Full report at:

http://nationalyemen.com/2013/12/22/huthi-salafi-clashes-killing-continue/

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Persecution of Christians in the Middle East is a crime against humanity

Dec 23, 2013

Prince Charles's warning was not scaremongering. Calamity, accelerated by the Iraq war, has been brewing a long time

In AD 781, the Caliph Al-Mahdi summoned the leading churchman of his empire to recently founded Baghdad to debate with him the rival merits of Christianity and Islam. Patriarch Timothy did not hesitate. He had no reason to feel nervous. Christianity was thriving in the Middle East. It was Christians, not Muslims, who formed the majority in the Caliphate.

The notion that the future of their faith might lie in the barbarous lands of the west, rather than in the Fertile Crescent, would have struck Timothy as ludicrous. It was in the east, after all, that "Jesus Christ walked in the flesh 33 years on the Earth"; in the east that the church's greatest saints, scholars and ascetics had lived. Even as Timothy debated with the Caliph, missionaries were preaching the gospel to the Chinese and the Turks. A bishopric was planned for "the peoples of Tibet".

Full report at:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2013/dec/22/persecution-christians-middle-east-prince-charles

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Agents, traitors can’t rule Turkey, says PM Erdoğan

23 Dec 2013

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threw down the gauntlet to his rivals, including “spies” and “traitors” Dec. 22, warning them against using allegations of high-level corruption to undermine his rule or he would “break their hands.”

“Everyone will know their place,” Erdoğan told a boisterous crowd of Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters in the Black Sea province of Giresun. “Let our friends and foes know this. Whoever dares to harm, stir up or set traps in this country, whoever tries to touch our independence, we will come to break those hands,” he said.

The probe into allegations of widespread bribery by members of Erdoğan’s government has exposed a bitter feud between the AKP and influential Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen, whose followers hold top positions in the police, judiciary and secret services.

‘International plot’

Full report at:

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/agents-traitors-cant-rule-turkey-says-pm-erdogan.aspx?pageID=238&nID=59976&NewsCatID=338

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Iran's Rouhani eyes rebuilding relations with United States

Reuters | Dec 23, 2013

BERLIN: Iran wants to improve bilateral relations with the United States and other western powers, President Hassan Rouhani said in an editorial published in a German newspaper on Monday, broaching an issue he has so far avoided since he took office.

Rouhani won a landslide election victory in June promising a policy of engagement with the West and has had regular diplomatic contacts with the United States, but they have been limited to negotiations over Tehran's nuclear programme.

"We want to rebuild and improve our relations to European and North American countries on a basis of mutual respect," he wrote in a contribution for the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

"We are striving to avoid new burdens on relations between Iran and the United States and also to remove the tensions that we have inherited," said Rouhani, who has promised to reduce Tehran's isolation and to win an easing of sanctions.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Irans-Rouhani-eyes-rebuilding-relations-with-United-States/articleshow/27798591.cms

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South Asia

 

Bangladesh war criminal's hanging enrages Islamist network

Dec 23, 2013

The recent hanging of Bangladeshi war criminal Abdul Quader Mollah has galvanised a powerful pan South Asian Islamist network stretching from Dhaka to Peshawar.

Quader Mollah, known in Bangladesh as "Mirpurer Koshai" or the "Butcher of Mirpur", was formally indicted on five counts of murder involving the killing of 344 civilians in 1971 and was sentenced to death by a specially constituted war crimes tribunal. His execution was carried out in Dhaka Jail on the night of Dec 12 after his appeal to the country's Supreme Court was rejected.

While his execution sparked spontaneous celebrations by thousands of Bangladeshis who came out on the streets waving the national flag and cheering the execution, Quader Mollah's supporters belonging to the hard-line Islamist organisation, the Jamaat-e-Islami, launched a series of street attacks across the country killing at least 30 innocent civilians in a span of just three days.

Full report at:

http://www.dnaindia.com/world/report-bangladesh-war-criminal-s-hanging-enrages-islamist-network-1938733

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Rab ‘detains’ Dhaka Hefazat chief, ‘frees’ later

Dec 23, 2013

Dhaka City unit Hefazat-e-Islam Convener Moulana Nur Hossain Kashemi, also a nayeb-e-ameer of the Islamist organisation, was allegedly picked up by Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) along with five of his associates from the capital’s Gulshan. However, Rab 1 Commanding Officer Lt Col Kismat Haiyat rejected the allegation outright, saying, “We did not arrest or detain Kashemi or any of his associates. He came to us and after a discussion he left by his own will.”

Full report at:

http://www.dhakatribune.com/law-amp-rights/2013/dec/23/rab-%E2%80%98detains%E2%80%99-dhaka-hefazat-chief-%E2%80%98frees%E2%80%99-later#sthash.hCIFp8YI.dpuf

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Chhatra Sangram Parishad demands ban on Jamaat-Shibir

Dec 23, 2013

Activists of Bangladesh Chhatra Sangram Parishad brought out a procession yesterday morning, protesting Jamaat-Shibir violence and the bomb attack on a Ganajagaran Mancha organiser Bappaditya Basu. The procession which ended in front of the National Press Club was brought out around 11am from Dhaka University Madhur Canteen, following different streets of the campus. The platform also staged a rally in front of the club and demanded a ban on Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir.

Full report at:

http://www.dhakatribune.com/politics/2013/dec/23/chhatra-sangram-parishad-demands-ban-jamaat-shibir#sthash.0fD8VcVe.dpuf

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Maldives – India mutual easing of visa restrictions expected with President’s visit

By Ahmed Rilwan | December 22nd, 2013

President Abdulla Yameen’s much anticipated visit to India will resolve delays in obtaining medical visas, reports ‘Haveeru’.

Referring to an unnamed source, Haveeru confirmed the arrangement will be announced during the visit in January.

Previously, Maldivians traveling to India for medical treatment were granted on-arrival tourist visa. However visa restrictions were imposed last year during strained diplomatic relations with India under President Dr. Mohamed Waheed’s administration.

Last week Indian High Commission relaxed the procedure for issuing medical visa, accepting applications directly till 12pm everyday, allowing people to submit their documents without staying in a queue with tokens. The High Commission also annoucned the visa processing duration will be also be shortened in a near future.

Full report at:

http://minivannews.com/category/news-in-brief

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Hundreds of Afghan asylum seekers demand residency permits in Belgium

December 23, 2013

Up to 350 Afghan asylum-seekers and their supporters set up a camp in Belgium's western town of Mons, urging local authorities to arrange a meeting with Belgian Prime Minister to demand residency papers.

The town's authorities decided to put an "emergency plan" in place after several hundred Afghans gathered together in front of the mayor's office. Regardless of heavy rain and strong winds, the demonstrators had marched about 70 kilometers from Brussels to see Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, who also serves as the Mayor of Mons. It took them three days to get to Mons.

Full report at:

http://rt.com/news/afghan-asylum-seekers-protest-656/

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NATO soldier killed in attack in eastern Afghanistan

December 23, 2013

A NATO soldier died after coming under direct fire in an attack in eastern Afghanistan, according to a statement from the US-led coalition. No other details or the nationality of the killed soldier were provided.

Monday's death brings to eight the number of coalition deaths so far this month. Last Tuesday, six US soldiers were killed during the attack on the Black Hawk UH-60 that went down during a mission in Zabul, southern Afghanistan

 http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_12_23/NATO-soldier-killed-in-attack-in-eastern-Afghanistan-1486/

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India

 

Muslim Youth murdered, shrine of Prophet Shis damaged at Ayodhya

OMAR RASHID

December 23, 2013

A group of five-six motorbike-borne persons damaged the outer wall of an old shrine in Ayodhya on Friday night and murdered a 22-year-old student sleeping in a mosque, 500 metres away.

While the cause is not clear, locals believe that these were part of an attempt to trigger communal tensions. The shrine, which houses a grave popularly believed to be that of Prophet Shis, is visited by both Hindus and Muslims. Sited just 2 km from the disputed site, it was attacked when the Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992.

“Since then, it is the first time a religious place of the minority community has been attacked,” says Anil Singh, a Faizabad college professor. “They could have damaged the shrine and left, or murdered him first. But maybe, he saw them committing the act, so they killed him.”

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/youth-murdered-shrine-damaged-at-ayodhya/article5490391.ece

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India, Pakistan fishermen demand end to arrests

December 23, 2013

Resolve to intensify efforts for the release of colleagues

Fishermen from India and Pakistan have resolved to intensify efforts for the release of their colleagues and their boats following increase in arrests by the Indian Coast Guard as well as Pakistan’s Maritime Security Agency (MSA) after the monsoon trawl ban was lifted in September.

Around 229 fishermen and 800 boats are in Pakistan’s custody while around 200 Pakistani fishermen and 150 boats are in Indian custody, according to the India-based National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF) and the Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy.

As part of these efforts, Pakistani fishermen will move their Supreme Court for the release of all fishermen and their boats. A similar case is being argued at the Supreme Court here.

Over the last two days, fishermen from Gujarat had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar seeking a ‘no-arrest’ policy by both countries.

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-pakistan-fishermen-demand-end-to-arrests/article5490357.ece

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India shuts down South Sudan oilfields, evacuates employees

December 23, 2013

India on Monday evacuated all its oil employees from strife-torn South Sudan and shut down oilfields amid escalating violence in the world’s youngest nation.

All 11 executives working on 40,000 barrels per day Greater Nile Oil Project and Block 5A were airlifted, a top source with direct knowledge of the development said.

“The evacuation happened in two batches. All the officials have arrived in India safely,” he said.

Before departure, the last job the Indian executives did was to shut down the oilfields on Sunday.

ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), had deputed 11 employees at Greater Nile Oil Project and Block 5A in Sudan.

The company made all arrangements to evacuate its personnel as rebel forces loyal to deposed South Sudanese Vice President Riek Machar captured Unity state which housed most of the fields it was operating.

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-shuts-down-south-sudan-oilfields-evacuates-employees/article5493593.ece

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North America

 

Islamic charity official, Abd al-Rahman al-Nu’aymi, accused in ties with Al Qaeda

December 23, 2013

The importance of charitable giving in the Muslim World should not be underestimated. Zakat is a form of tithing in Islam and is considered one of the Five Pillars of the faith. Essentially, every Muslim who is able to do so is required to give 1/40 of his wealth each year to the “needy” through the system of Zakat. Many Islamic charities and mosques have been shown to provide material support for terrorism. When Qatar’s royal family was looking for advice on charitable giving, it turned to a well-regarded professor named Abd al-Rahman al-Nu’aymi. The 59-year-old educator had a stellar résumé that included extensive fundraising experience and years of work with international human rights groups.

According to US officials, Nu’aymi also was working secretly as a financier for al-Qaeda, funnelling millions of dollars to the terrorist group’s affiliates in Syria and Iraq even as he led campaigns in Europe for greater freedoms for Muslims.

Full report at:

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_12_23/Islamic-charity-officials-accused-in-ties-with-Al-Qaeda-9832/

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US may take further military action in South Sudan: Obama

PTI | Dec 23, 2013

WASHINGTON: The US has deployed 46 additional military personnel in South Soudan and may take further military action to support the security of its citizens in the violence-wracked country, President Barack Obama has said.

"As I monitor the situation in South Sudan, I may take further action to support the security of US citizens, personnel, and property, including our embassy, in South Sudan," Obama said in a communique to the Congress as released by the White House.

Obama said on December 21, 46 US military personnel deployed by military aircraft to the area of Bor, South Sudan, to conduct an operation to evacuate US citizens and personnel.

After the aircraft came under fire as they approached Bor, the operation was curtailed due to security considerations, and the aircraft and all military personnel onboard departed South Sudan without completing the evacuation, he said adding that the purpose of this operation was to protect US citizens, personnel, and property.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/US-may-take-further-military-action-in-South-Sudan-Obama/articleshow/27765432.cms

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Christians and Muslims Can Unite Under Religious Similarities

Dec 23, 2013

"Behold! The angels said: 'O Mary! God giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him. His name will be Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and in (the company of) those nearest to God.'"

Before searching for this quote in the New Testament, you might first ask your Muslim co-worker, friend or neighbor for a copy of the Quran, Islam's revealed text. The quote is from verse 45 of chapter 3 in the Quran.

It is well known, particularly in this holiday season, that Christians follow the teachings of Jesus. What is less well understood is that Muslims also love and revere Jesus as one of God's greatest messengers to mankind.

Full report at:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/12/22/christmas-jesus-catholic-quran-column/4166559/

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NSA snooping may have stopped 9/11 attack: Rep. Peter King

Dec 23, 2013

Congressman Peter King offered an unapologetic defense Sunday of the National Security Agency’s broad collection of phone records, saying the spying agency has not abused its power and that 2001 terrorist attacks might have been prevented if the tool had been in place then.

“I live in New York,” the Republican told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I lost some 150 friends, neighbors and constituents on Sept. 11. If the NSA had had this metadata in 2001, that attack probably would not have happened.”

A panel convened by President Obama recently made 46 recommendations that would reform or scale back NSA’s bulk collection of phone records and other data — programs that were shrouded in secretary before former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details about them to the press.

Full report at:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/dec/22/nsa-snooping-may-have-stopped-911-attack-rep-peter/

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US not to deploy poll observers for Bangladesh general election

PTI | Dec 23, 2013

WASHINGTON: The US said on Monday it will not deploy poll observers in Bangladesh for the January 5 general elections, as more than half of the parliamentary seats remain uncontested because of the boycott by the opposition parties.

"The United States will not deploy observers for these elections. We remain prepared to reengage our observation efforts at a later time in a more conducive environment," state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/US-not-to-deploy-poll-observers-for-Bangladesh-general-election/articleshow/27760758.cms

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Pakistan may allow drone strikes if given control over campaign: Former CIA official

 December 23, 2013

WASHINGTON: Pakistan might be willing to allow future drone launches, provided it is given substantial control over drone activities and targets, said former director of the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) Counterterrorism Center Robert Grenier.

“Under those circumstances, the politics surrounding the country’s sovereignty might not be a big issue,” he said.

The United States would likely seek approval from future Afghan leaders for most or all of post-withdrawal training activities and counter-terrorism activities – possibly including the use of drones, which have been a defining feature of the Obama administration security strategy in far-flung places.

However, the lack of a sizeable US troop presence in Afghanistan could mean that drones become one of the few remaining tools the United States has against militant groups in the region.

Full report at:

http://tribune.com.pk/story/649458/pakistan-may-allow-drone-strikes-if-given-control-over-campaign-former-cia-official/

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Europe

 

Marks & Spencer apologizes after saying Muslim staff may refuse to serve pork and alcohol

Adam Withnall & Alex Delmar Morgan,The Independent | Dec 23, 2013

LONDON: Marks & Spencer appeared to backtrack on Sunday night by issuing an apology after a Muslim member of staff refused to serve a customer trying to buy champagne.

Previously the supermarket said Muslim staff can refuse to serve customers who are trying to buy pork or alcohol.

But a spokesperson for M&S last night said: "Where we have an employee whose religious beliefs restrict food or drink they can handle, we work closely with our member of staff to place them in suitable role, such as in our clothing department or bakery in foods.

"As a secular business we have an inclusive policy that welcomes all religious beliefs, whether across our customer or employee base ... We apologize that this policy was not followed in the case reported."

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/Marks-Spencer-apologizes-after-saying-Muslim-staff-may-refuse-to-serve-customers-pork-and-alcohol/articleshow/27775593.cms

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Dozens of hate clerics in UK to be silenced by new anti-terror orders

December 23, 2013

A senior Whitehall official has revealed that the UK government is considering imposing anti-social behaviour orders - or ASBOs - on around 25 Muslim preachers thought to be fomenting unrest in the UK without breaking any specific laws. Downing Street is to introduce the new civil powers, based on a dramatically revised definition of extremism, to target preachers who radicalise others.

Under the proposals, which could become reality by the spring of 2014, preachers on the list would have their activities curtailed and be prohibited from speaking at universities, Islamic study centres and other public spaces.

The proposals follow the presentation of a report to parliament by an anti-extremist task force which also called for charities suspected of being fronts for extremist groups to be shut down and internet filters to block out extremist websites. The report called for terrorism and extremism behaviour orders, or 'TEBOs', to be placed on radicals.

Full report at:

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_12_23/Dozens-of-hate-clerics-in-UK-to-be-silenced-by-new-anti-terror-orders-8234/

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British MP calls to stop anti-Christian violence in the Middle East

December 23, 2013

Member of Parliament Douglas Alexander has accused British politicians of having "forsaken" speaking out about the plight of Christians in the Middle East, who are being deliberately targeted for their faith. Douglas Alexander, who is an active member of the Church of Scotland, made his comments in the Sunday Telegraph days after Pope Francis Tweeted that "cannot resign ourselves to think of a Middle East without Christians" and the Prince of Wales voiced his concern that ancient Middle Eastern communities’ very existence was being threatened by Islamist militants.

“In the UK today, perhaps through a misplaced sense of political correctness, or some sense of embarrassment at ‘doing God’ in an age when secularism is more common, too many politicians seem to fear discussing any matters related to faith,” Member of Parliament Douglas Alexander, who serves as Labor’s shadow foreign secretary, wrote in an opinion piece in the Telegraph on Saturday evening.

Full report at:

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_12_23/British-MP-calls-to-stop-anti-Christian-violence-in-the-Middle-East-4694/

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Anjem Choudary being used in Al-Shabaab recruiting video

Dec 23, 2013

Militant preacher Anjem Choudary has been identified as a leading British influence for the Al Qaeda-linked terrorists who carried out the Kenya shopping mall atrocity, it emerged yesterday.

London-based Choudary, who has been linked to dozens of terrorist suspects, is highlighted in a video issued by East African group Al-Shabaab.

The video also says 11 Britons have died waging jihad in Somalia.

One of the leading figures in Al-Shabaab – blamed for last month’s Nairobi attack which left 67 dead – is ‘white widow’ Samantha Lewthwaite. The whereabouts of Lewthwaite, former wife of 7/7 bomber Jermaine Lindsay, remains a mystery.

Counter-terrorism detectives at Scotland Yard, who have been on a heightened state of alert following the Kenyan outrage, are examining the 58-minute video by Al-Shabaab which endorses Choudary.

Full report at:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2465811/Well-known-British-Muslims-offered-police-protection-death-threats.html#ixzz2pGleb6rC

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Syria must answer for Indian-origin doctor's 'sickening' death: Cameron

PTI | Dec 23, 2013,

LONDON: British Prime Minister David Cameron has written to the family of an Indian-origin British doctor who died in a Syrian jail, saying Damascus must "answer for" his "sickening and appalling" death.

He wrote a condolence letter to Abbas Khan's mother Fatima on Friday, describing her son's death as an "appalling tragedy".

The letter reads: "Abbas' death is a sickening and appalling tragedy and it is right that the Syrian regime should answer for it.

"Their despicable treatment of him and refusal to engage with us or the Czechs to enable us to support him is utterly unacceptable. We will continue to press for those responsible to be held to account."

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/Syria-must-answer-for-Indian-origin-doctors-sickening-death-Cameron/articleshow/27764696.cms

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Southeast Asia

 

Jais urged to act against Christians using ‘Allah’ behind closed-doors

BY BOO SU-LYNDECEMBER 23, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 23 — Two Malay-Muslim activist groups have demanded action against a Christian group for allegedly calling God in a non-Islamic context at a closed-door gathering in Klang yesterday, claiming such usage violated the Selangor sultan’s decree, Utusan Malaysia reported today.

Pertubuhan Ikatan Kebajikan dan Dakwah Selangor (IKDDAS) and Selangor Perkasa pushed the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) to investigate the Christian gathering as they insisted the organisers had broken the state law even though several lawyers had previously disputed the Selangor Ruler’s decree is legally binding on non-Muslims.

“From the legal perspective, it is clear that the use of the word ‘Allah’ is forbidden to non-Muslims,” IKDDAS president Rosdi Long was quoted as saying.

To back his argument, he cited Section 9 of the Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Amongst Muslims) Enactment 1988.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/jais-urged-to-act-against-christians-using-allah-behind-closed-doors#sthash.95FzMrVT.dpuf

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Call for ‘debate’ on liberalism to clear confusion spread among Muslims

Dec 23, 2013

There is a growing misconception among Muslims that liberalism is a threat to Islam, said a think-tank.

Policy Research Institute executive director Khalid Jaafar said such a misconception has led many to censure liberalism, a political and social philosphy that advocates free and fair elections, civil rights, press freedom, religious freedom, free trade and private ownership.

Khalid said such a view has been advocated by the Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI) and the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim).

"Even our prime minister has been influenced by religious extremist groups that claim liberalism will threaten Islam.

"This is despite his late father Tun Abdul Razak Hussein being the architect of the Rukun Negara, which states that Malaysia is a liberal nation. He does not reflect or honour his father's spirit," said Khalid, believed to be referring to Datuk Seri Najib Razak's speech last year in which he condemned liberalism and pluralism as enemies of Islam.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/call-for-debate-on-liberalism-to-clear-confusion-spread-among-muslims

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Africa

 

CAR imam claims French killed 3 Muslims in Bangui

World Bulletin / News Desk

December 23, 2013

An imam in a predominantly Muslim neighborhood of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), claimed on Sunday that French troops had killed three Muslims.

Isa Hassan, the imam of Masjid Al Noor in Kilometer 5, claimed French soldiers had shot all three men through the head.

He said the men were all shot Sunday close to Kilometer 5, a predominantly Muslim neighborhood of the capital Bangui.

The chairman of the committee supervising the mosque, Yahiya Abu Bakr, repeated the same accusation.

"The French did this, everyone knows," he told AA.

"I have covered the heads with plastic bags as they were all shot in the head," he said. "The bags are holding the heads together."

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/?aType=haber&ArticleID=125488

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Tunisia's Islamists, opponents set handover date to a caretaker government

December 23, 2013

Tunisia's ruling and opposition parties agreed on Monday to finish their handover to a caretaker government by Jan. 14, the third anniversary of the fall of autocratic leader Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali

After months of crisis, Tunisia's Islamist party Ennahda and opponents last week named a new prime minister to lead a temporary non-political cabinet, which will govern until elections next year to finish its transition to democracy.

As part of their deal, political leaders must finish the country's constitution, agree on an election date, and name an electoral council to oversee the vote before Ennahda steps down to make way for the new administration.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/?aType=haber&ArticleID=125533

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South Sudan conflict ‘political, not tribal’: Diplomat

Dec 23, 2013

KHARTOUM – The South Sudan ambassador in Khartoum insisted on Sunday that the ongoing conflict in his country between President Salva Kiir and sacked vice president Riek Machar is political in nature, and not motivated by tribal rivalries.

Ambassador Mayan Dut Wol said five out of the seven members of the ruling party’s political bureau who supported Machar are from Kiir’s Denka tribe while the other two are from Machar’s Nuer tribe.

Full report at:

http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2013/12/116987/south-sudan-conflict-political-not-tribal-diplomat/

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Humanitarian Partners Are Preparing for Voluntary Returns of Somali Refugees in Kenya

Dec 23, 2013

Somali refugees in Kenya who wish to return to Somalia will be able to receive support from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, and partners from January 2014.

A six-month pilot phase during which Somali refugees can receive support to return and reintegrate is the tangible outcome of the Tripartite Agreement signed on 10November by the governments of Kenya, Somalia, and UNHCR.

Full report at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201312230314.html

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International Islamic Relief Organization helps the visually impaired in Nigeria

December 22, 2013

JEDDAH — The International Islamic Relief Organization (IRO) has completed its campaign to fight blindness in Gombe, Nigeria.

The IRO was successful in treating 1,000 patients, and have conducted many operations.

During the last two days of the campaign, more than 3,000 patients were provided the necessary treatment, and doctors were working during morning and evening hours.

One of the most unique cases was that of an eight-year-old child who was blind for years. She was examined by doctors, and they decided that she needed an operation in both her eyes. The operation was successful, and she regained her eyesight.

Full report at:

http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=20131223190300

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Battle looms as South Sudan army moves on rebel-held town

AFP | Dec 23, 2013

JUBA: South Sudan's army said on Monday it was poised for a major offensive against rebel forces, as the country slid towards civil war despite international peace efforts. Expectations of a major upsurge in fighting came as the United Nations warned that the situation in the world's youngest nation was fast unravelling, with hundreds of thousands of civilians now at risk.

Fighting has gripped South Sudan for more than a week, after President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar, who was fired from the government in July, of attempting a coup.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-world/Battle-looms-as-South-Sudan-army-moves-on-rebel-held-town/articleshow/27788231.cms

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