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Islamic World News ( 14 March 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Can Allah Hear Only If You Scream On Microphone, Is He Deaf, Asks BJP Leader

New Age Islam News Bureau

14 March 2023

 

 Senior BJP leader and former minister KS Eshwarappa (Source: Zee News)

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• BJP Needs “Nationalist Muslims” But Not All Muslims, Says Party Leader Contradicting PM’s Inclusive Agenda

• China’s Mediation between Saudi Arabia and Iran Not ‘Adverse’ To US Interests: White House

• False Accusations Are Unbecoming Of Devout Muslims, Anwar Tells Opposition

• Belgium Bars Nude Kneeling Searches of 2016 Terror Attack Accused

 India

• Unity among Muslims Is Need of the Hour: Imam of Jama Masjid- Bengaluru

• In BJP's Kerala Master plan, Huge Outreach to Christians, Muslims: Sources

• Supreme Court orders removal of mosque from Allahabad HC complex within 3 months

• Pandits, Imams Can’t Turn Places of Worship to Private Tenements: Delhi HC

• Sukanta: BJP is not against Muslim community

• CM Jagan meets Muslim leaders, seeks support

• NIA raids house of suspected Islamic State operative in Srinagar

• AMU Alumni Association Plans To Form Global Body

• Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin elected as Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia

• Pakistan’s cross border infiltration, truce violations hit ties: MEA

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Arab World

• Iran: Saudi Arabia detente to positively affect our ties with Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain

• Iran says deal with Saudi Arabia will help end Yemen’s war

• Saudi FM to Asharq Al-Awsat: Agreement With Iran Sign Of Joint Will To Resolve Disputes Through Dialogue

• Iraq seeks fiscal stability with 3-year budget

• UN, Syrian govt implicated in post-earthquake aid failures: UN-inquiry commission

• Saudi plane carrying 85 tons of humanitarian aid lands in Turkish city of Gaziantep

• US military choppers airlift Daesh terrorists to camps in Syria’s Hasakah before transfer to al-Tanf base: Report

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Southeast Asia

• Bookings for Tarawih Prayers Required At 10 Mosques in Singapore during Ramadan

• Malaysia needs stricter regulation of the genetic testing of embryos

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Europe

• Greece Tramples on Religious Rights by Keeping Mosques Closed

• Ex-PM Blair says US-UK relationship would have ‘suffered’ if Britain abandoned Iraq invasion

• Russia welcomes Iran-Saudi Arabia agreement to restore relations

• Co-leader of German ruling party calls for putting Iran's Revolutionary Guards on EU terror list

• 30 irregular migrants missing after boat capsizes off Libya

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South Asia

• Afghan Diplomats to Participate in India’s Online Training Program Open to Students “Across the World, Including in Afghanistan”

• Afghan Voice News Agency’s Reporter Killed at Balkh’s Press Event

• Afghan Forces Arrest Man in Kabul with Magnetic IEDs

• Afghan Interim Govt Appoints Envoy to Afghanistan’s Consulate General in Dubai

• Bangladesh probe suggests ‘sabotage’ behind devastating fire at Rohingya camps

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Mideast

• Ansarullah Leader: US, Israel Seeking To Present Distorted Image of Islam to World

• UAE Halts Military Purchase from Israel amid Political Crisis Facing Netanyahu

• A new intifada? Young Palestinian fighters rise as West Bank boils

• Key element of Israeli judicial reforms passes first vote despite weeks of protests

• Oldest Palestinian Prisoner in an Israeli Jail, Fuad Shubaki, 83, Released After 17 Years

• Polls show Erdogan lags opposition by more than 10 points ahead of May vote

• Iran has pardoned 22,000 arrested during protests, Judiciary chief tells IRNA

• Turkey’s earthquake toll tops 48,000 as government races to build container cities

• Houthis refuse to trade four abducted journalists with Yemen’s government

• Iran says supports UN efforts to restore peace in war-wracked Yemen

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North America

• U.S. Arms Left In Afghanistan Surface in Pakistan Taliban Insurgency

• US rejects notion it is disengaged from Middle East after Saudi-Iran deal

• US urges Turkey to allow NATO expansion as officials set to meet

• US private sector raises over $110M to aid Türkiye: Chamber of Commerce

• Iran says it is 'ready' for prisoner swap with US

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Pakistan

• Pakistan Government Makes Public the Record of Toshakhana Gifts

• Study shows judges fasting for Ramadan are more lenient

• Several political activists join JUI-F in Bannu

• Islamabad court suspends Imran’s arrest warrants to March 16 in judge threats case

• Move in Senate against PM’s powers to retain retiring army chiefs

• Two policemen martyred in attacks on census teams in KP

• Security forces gun down terrorist involved in attack on census team in Tank

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Africa

• Third Japan-Jordan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue Held in Tokyo

• New Tunisian Parliament Begins Its First Session

• Japan contributes $1m in support of WFP’s food assistance to Syrian refugees in Jordan

• Jordan’s northern town of Umm Qais receives Best Tourism Villages award at AlUla

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/azan-allah-microphone-deaf-bjp/d/129319

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Can Allah Hear Only If You Scream On Microphone, Is He Deaf, Asks BJP Leader

  

Senior BJP leader and former minister KS Eshwarappa (Source: Zee News)

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March 13, 2023

BJP MLA and former minister K.S. Eshwarappa, on Monday, revived the debate on loudspeakers being used for Azaan (the prayer call for Muslims made five times a day, every day) questioning if there is a need to use microphones for the same.

He said listening to the loud call for prayer gives him a headache.

"No doubt this will end soon as there is a SC judgement. PM Modi asked to respect all religions, but I must ask can Allah hear only if you scream on a microphone," news agency ANI quoted as saying in Mangaluru.

Eshwarappa said Hindus pray in temples but do not use loudspeakers. "Hindus also pray in temples. We have more faith than them and it's Bharat mata who protects religions. But if you say that Allah listens only if you pray using a microphone, I must question if He's deaf. This issue must be resolved," he was quoted as saying.

Earlier, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had said his government will ensure that the apex court order on the use of microphones will be cordially implemented in the state.

"Regarding Azaan, there are Supreme Court and High Court orders, we have already issued circulars to this effect. There are laws about how much decibel (sound) should be there. DG (Director General of police) has already issued a circular,"Bommai had said in April.

Source: The Week

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2023/03/13/can-allah-hear-only-if-you-scream-on-microphone-is-he-deaf-asks-bjp-mla-eshwarappa-controversy.html

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BJP Needs “Nationalist Muslims” But Not All Muslims, Says Party Leader Contradicting PM’s Inclusive Agenda

K.M. Rakesh   |   Bangalore  

14.03.23

Senior BJP leader K.S. Eshwarappa on Monday said his party needed the votes of “nationalist Muslims” but not all Muslims, contradicting the inclusive line that his party claims Prime Minister Narendra Modi has directed it to follow.

Eshwarappa, sacked as minister over a corruption scandal but a leading BJP campaigner for the upcoming Assembly polls, told a news conference in Mangalore that he had never said the BJP did not need Muslim votes.

“(It isn’t true) that the BJP doesn’t need Muslim votes. We don’t need the votes of Muslims who support the PFI (Popular Front of India, a banned extremist organisation) and the SDPI (Social Democratic Party of India, the PFI’s political arm). Nationalist Muslims will support us,” he said.

In January, Karnataka BJP veteran B.S. Yediyurappa had said, after meeting Modi on the sidelines of the national executive in Delhi, that the Prime Minister wanted the party to take Muslims into confidence.

“In any case, we have a good rapport with the Muslims, whom we respect. We shall contact them more in the coming days in keeping with the Prime Minister’s advice,” Yediyurappa, a former chief minister, had told reporters in Shimoga.

However, as the Assembly polls draw near, BJP leaders have been increasingly making inflammatory remarks on “love jihad” and other polarising issues. Eshwarappa’s remarks on “nationalist Muslims” came a day after he had made a controversial statement about the ritual of azan during the BJP’s Vijay Sankalp Yatra in Kavoor near Mangalore.

“Wherever I go, this (azan played over loudspeakers) is a headache,” he had told the gathering. “Does Allah hear you only if you scream over loudspeakers? In our temples, we too perform puja — shlokas are chanted, girls sing bhajans,” he said.

Hindu temples, however, are known to play religious songs and hymns over loudspeakers during festivals and other special occasions.

On Monday, Eshwarappa sought to play down the azan controversy, saying he had only meant to say that loudspeakers disturb the neighbourhood.

“The use of loudspeakers for azan disturbs students preparing for their exams and patients in hospitals,” he told the news conference.

“I’m only saying this on behalf of people disturbed by azan over loudspeakers. I have not disrespected the religion and not stoked any controversy over azan.”

Eshwarappa has been known to make provocative remarks. He had last year called the 18th-century ruler of Mysore, Tipu Sultan, a “Muslim goonda”.

He was forced to resign as the minister for rural development and panchayat raj last April after a contractor committed suicide accusing him of seeking a 40 per cent cut to clear a Rs 4-crore bill.

Eshwarappa has since then been trying unsuccessfully to get reinstated in the ministry. But the BJP has entrusted him with campaigning for the Assembly polls.

Source: Telegraph India

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/bjp-needs-nationalist-muslims-says-party-leader-ks-eshwarappa/cid/1922271

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China’s Mediation between Saudi Arabia and Iran Not ‘Adverse’ To US Interests: White House

 

Wang Yi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission, Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, and Minister of State and national security adviser of Saudi Arabia Musaad bin Mohammed Al Aiban pose for pictures during a meeting in Beijing, China March 10, 2023. (Reuters)

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14 March, 2023

The White House said on Monday the US was not in a position to take on the role of a mediator between Saudi Arabia and Iran but added that China’s efforts to “promote de-escalation” in the region were not “adverse” to American interests.

Saudi Arabia and Iran announced on Friday a landmark agreement brokered by China to re-establish diplomatic ties and reopen embassies after seven years of heightened tensions, backing opposing sides in regional conflicts and supporting differing parties in political rows across the Middle East.

Asked about how Washington viewed Beijing’s role in brokering the normalization agreement, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said: “So, from our perspective, even as we have put a lot of diplomatic muscle into trying to help promote de-escalation, as with the Yemen truce, having other countries like China promote de-escalation is not fundamentally adverse to US interests and frankly it’s in a way rowing in the same direction.”

He added: “We were not in a position to be a mediator between Saudi Arabia and Iran given our relationship with those two countries. We never have been, and we aren’t in such a position today.”

However, Sullivan stressed that the US considered the understanding reached between Iran and Saudi Arabia as a “positive” development for the Middle East. He said: “We think this is something positive in so far that it promotes a goal the US has been promoting in the region, which is de-escalation and reduction in tensions. That is a good thing.”

He also said that Riyadh was keeping Washington in the loop with regards to the developments of the negotiations: “We were in close touch with Saudi Arabia as they were approaching and engaging in those talks, and they were keeping us apprised of their progress along the way.”

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2023/03/14/China-s-mediation-between-Saudi-Arabia-and-Iran-not-adverse-to-US-interests-WH

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False Accusations Are Unbecoming Of Devout Muslims, Anwar Tells Opposition

 

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim speaks at the Parliament in Kuala Lumpur March 7, 2023. — Bernama pic

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By Keertan Ayamany

14 Mar 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today said that he has been unjustly accused of selective prosecution and that religion is being used as a weapon against him.

In Parliament, Anwar said that people should not be punished without evidence, and thus, the same principle should apply to him.

“I want to inform the leadership of that side... you must remember as responsible Muslims, are you confident, do you have proof that Anwar interfered to prosecute anyone?” he said in comments directed at the Opposition bench.

“If not, then that’s callous — accusing people in the name of religion.”

Anwar was replying to a question from PAS’ Pasir Mas MP Ahmad Fadhli Shaari who wanted to know if the government was acting against the corruption cases that Anwar had been vocal about before the general election, especially the littoral combat ship (LCS) scandal.

Ahmad Fadhli said that the government was instead seen as focusing on issues that involve the Opposition.

Anwar stressed that he was still of the opinion that authorities have not made sufficient headway with the LCS scandal, but that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had assured him that further action will be pursued.

He also said that Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s corruption case is ongoing, and he has never interfered by asking for the case to be rescinded or for the related punishment to be reduced.

“I did not interfere. You can ask the MACC and attorney general.

“My instructions to them were that I support any action based on facts and strong evidence. But do not prosecute with a flimsy reason that can be questioned and challenged,” he said.

Source: Malay Mail

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2023/03/14/false-accusations-are-unbecoming-of-devout-muslims-anwar-tells-opposition-amid-selective-prosecution-claims/59520

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Belgium Bars Nude Kneeling Searches of 2016 Terror Attack Accused

 

Representative AI image: Lexica

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Mar 13, 2023

BRUSSELS: A top Belgian court on Monday prohibited the authorities from making the defendants at the trial into the 2016 Brussels terror attacks kneel for strip searches.

Six suspects had filed a complaint after refusing to attend the hearings into the suicide bomb attacks that killed 32 people in protest at the anal searches conducted by police.

The appeals court in Brussels backed a preliminary decision in December by ruling there was no legal basis for making the subjects "genuflect" during searches as they were being transferred from prison to court.

The ruling, seen by AFP, ordered the Belgian state "to put an end to this practice".

Nine defendants are currently facing justice over the March 22, 2016 bomb attacks claimed by the Islamic State group that hit Brussels airport and the city's metro.

A 10th suspect is believed to have been killed in Syria.

Belgium's biggest-ever criminal trial is being held under tight security at a purpose-built space in the disused former headquarters of the NATO alliance.

The prime suspect is Salah Abdeslam, who is already notorious after being convicted in a separate trial in France for his role in the 2015 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.

Survivors of the attacks and relatives of those killed began giving testimony last week.

The trial is expected to last until June.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/belgium-bars-nude-kneeling-searches-of-2016-terror-attack-accused/articleshow/98608285.cms

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 India

 Unity among Muslims Is Need of the Hour: Imam of Jama Masjid- Bengaluru

13th March 2023

Hyderabad: In view of increasing sectarianism in the nation, Imam of Jama Masjid- Bengaluru, Maulana Imran Masood held that Muslims should consider ‘unity’ as their shield to sail through the situation.

The Maulana is a renowned leader who encourages Muslim-Hindu unity while pledging to eliminate hatred building up due to political propaganda in the nation.

The Siasat Daily, in an exclusive interview with the Imam at the Rainbow hotel in Lakdikapul, pulled light on the concept of unity among Muslims.

Hijab ban, Halal controversy, Azaan on loudspeakers row, the Imam deliberated that the issues are nothing but political conspiracies fashioned to distract people from the main purpose of their survival.

“The only way to deal with this challenge is for Muslims to avoid all kinds of petty differences and unity among Muslims is the most essential ingredient for the minorities to survive in the nation with other religions,” stressed the Imam.

Shedding light on the role of Muslims during the election process, the Imam said, “India is a democratic country and each vote counts and hence, no person should trade their vote for anything.”

Reflecting on the issue of Muslims being targeted in the nations in some way or the other, the imam said that education is the key factor in building communal ethics in children.

Stressing the elevating Azaan issue, the maulana said that the call for prayer is given in accordance with the Supreme court guidelines which have not fixed a particular decibel of volume at which the call should be given.

“Future generations must be taught to stay united for there is no life without unity,” asserted the imam.

Parties working on the principle of secularism are preferred and not parties working with Muslim people in the leader’s seat.

Maulana further stressed that the power of votes should not be underestimated and hence every Muslim has to uplift their fellow mates to encourage each other positive voting spirit.

Source: Siasat Daily

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.siasat.com/unity-among-muslims-is-need-of-the-hour-maulana-imran-masood-2546266/

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In BJP's Kerala Master plan, Huge Outreach to Christians, Muslims: Sources

March 13, 2023

New Delhi: Northeast under its belt, the BJP is out to win Kerala, with a massive public outreach programme that plans to embrace the two key non-Hindu communities -- Muslims and Christians. Together, the two comprise 46 per cent of the population, crucial to crack into a state that has traditionally been a bastion of the Left and the Congress.

The BJP, which stepped up its outreach in Kerala ahead of the 2019 election, has been unable to make inroads.

Bucking the national trend, the party had drawn a blank in the state despite its high-pitched agitation on the Sabarimala issue. The Congress had won 15 of the state's 20 Lok Sabha seats. Its allies won another four -- the Indian Union Muslim League bagged two and the Kerala Congress (Mani group) and Revolutionary Socialist Party one seat each.

The outcome was seen as a rejection of the party's stance on religious issues.

The BJP's growth in the state has been stymied since, despite the many incidents of communal clash between the right-wing supporters and the Left.

Sources said the huge outreach programme planned this time will involve BJP workers visiting the homes of Christians on Easter week. On April 9, Easter Sunday, 10,000 BJP workers will visit the homes of 1 lakh Christians.

Last year, during the Christmas week, thousands of BJP workers visited the homes of Christians with gifts, sources said.

The right-wing workers will also visit the homes of Muslims on Eid in the third week of April.

Christians will be invited to the homes of right-wing activists on the festival of Vishu on April 15.

BJP leaders say while the common people have welcomed the initiative, it is being closely watched by the ruling Left and the opposition Congress.

The outreach is the brainchild of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had asked the party cadre to organise a "sneha samvaad" (message of affection) to the minorities in Kerala during the party's national executive meet in Hyderabad.

After the victory in the three northeastern states, PM Modi also said at a programme organised at the BJP headquarters in Delhi that the party will form a coalition government in Kerala, where assembly elections are due in 2026.

He indicated that this time, the party would bank on the support of the Christian community, who, he said, had given much support to it in the northeast.

Pointing to the two dominant parties in Kerala, he had said while the Left and Congress are bitter rivals in the state, they contested the Tripura elections as allies.

Source: ND TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/in-bjps-kerala-masterplan-huge-outreach-to-christians-muslims-sources-3857173

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Supreme Court orders removal of mosque from Allahabad HC complex within 3 months

Mar 13, 2023

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday directed authorities to remove a mosque from the premises of the Allahabad high court within three months, telling the petitioners opposing the demolition that the structure stood on a terminated lease property and they can't claim it as a matter of right to continue.

The petitioners, Waqf Masjid High Court and UP Sunni Central Waqf Board, had challenged a November 2017 Allahabad High Court order, which had given them three months to move the mosque out of the premises.

The top court dismissed their plea on Monday.

A bench of Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar, however, allowed the petitioners to make a representation to the UP government for allotment of land nearby for the mosque.

It told the petitioners that the land was a lease property, which was terminated, and they can't claim it as a matter of right to continue.

"We further grant three months time to demolish the construction in question by the petitioners and if the construction is not removed within a period of three months from today, it will be open for authorities including the high court to have them removed or demolished," the bench said.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the management committee of the mosque, said the mosque has been there since the 1950s and it cannot be just asked to move out.

"The government changed in 2017 and everything changed. A PIL is filed 10 days after the new government was formed. We have no problems with shifting to an alternative place as long as they give it to us," he said.

Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the high court, said that this was a case of complete fraud.

"Twice there were renewal applications and there was no whisper at all that the mosque was constructed and it was used for the public. They sought renewal saying it was needed for residential purposes. The mere fact that they are offering namaz will not make it a mosque. If in the Supreme Court verandah or HC verandah, if namaz is allowed for convenience, it will not become a mosque," he said.

The top court had earlier asked the Uttar Pradesh government to explore the possibility of granting a piece of land to relocate the mosque.

The high court had told the apex court it does not have an alternative plot of land to relocate the mosque and the state may consider shifting it to another area. It had also said there was already a shortage of space for parking.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/allahabad/supreme-court-orders-removal-of-mosque-from-allahabad-hc-complex-within-3-months/articleshow/98607684.cms

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Pandits, imams can’t turn places of worship to private tenements: Delhi HC

by Malavika Prasad

March 14, 2023

While dismissing a man’s plea seeking de-sealing of a property located near India Gate, the Delhi High Court expressed concern over conversion of public places of worship into private tenements where rights are claimed by priests, pandits, imams, caretakers and their families in an “illegal and unauthorised manner”.

A single judge bench of Justice Prathiba Singh in her March 6 decision observed that public places of worship are converted into residences and are occupied by persons who take care of the said places including by their extended families, domestic help and other trespassers, which is “contrary to law”. The court said that it has noticed that these places of worship are extended beyond the allotted land and converted into commercial property, and rents/lease amounts are collected in an illegal and unauthorised manner.

“Even in the present case it is not clear as to the basis on which so many persons who are described as ‘workers’ were inducted by the Petitioner into the property and they continued to occupy the property for several years,” the HC said.

The HC was dealing with a petition related to a prime property located next to Masjid Zabta Ganj on Man Singh Road. The petitioner, one Zahir Ahmed, had sought de-sealing of the said property, which consists of one room, kitchen, bathroom and some space adjacent to the mosque. He also sought a restraining order against alleged harassment caused to him and sought permission to carry out reconstruction work on the property.

Justice Singh observed that Ahmed was an “unauthorised occupant” after the court was informed by Ahmed himself that there is no title document to the property in question in his favour. “The Petitioner’s father was an imam in the mosque and in the Court’s opinion, it could be due to this reason that the Petitioner unauthorisedly came into occupation of the said property,” the HC said.

The high court directed Ahmed to pay Rs 15 lakh to the Delhi Waqf Board within 8 weeks considering the duration of illegal occupation of the premises and the location of the property. It also asked him to deposit Rs 2 lakh as costs with the Delhi Waqf Board within 8 weeks.

The court said the family of an imam in a mosque cannot claim any rights in the property of the mosque, as the property vests in the Waqf and the imam is merely appointed for purposes of conducting prayers and taking care of Waqf property. The court observed that the imam occupies the property in a “fiduciary capacity” on behalf of the Waqf and any attempt to claim independent rights in the property would be “impermissible”.

The court said while an independent imam was appointed for the property/mosque in 1981, Ahmed “in an illegal manner” continued to encroach and occupy the property next to the mosque, noticing that the same was a “prime property”. “The writ petition is devoid of any merit and is liable to be dismissed,” the HC said.

Ahmed had contended that he and his family had been living on the property for several decades and that it was separated from the mosque by a wall. He challenged an eviction notice of March 2, 2020, issued by the sub-divisional magistrate, Chanakyapuri, and an order of March 5, 2020, which records that an eviction drive was undertaken in respect of the said property and the possession of the said property was handed over to the Delhi Waqf Board.

The high court, however, said Ahmed and the three individuals whom he represented, were clearly unauthorised occupants and encroachers who had no right in the property.

While passing directions, the high court asked the Waqf board to secure the land allotted to it by way of the gazette notification issued in terms of the agreement registered on July 3, 1945 and it shall ensure that no land beyond the 0.095 acres is occupied by any person including the current Imam or his family or occupants on his behalf.

Source: Indian Express

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/delhi-high-court-public-places-worship-private-tenements-8494714/

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Sukanta: BJP is not against Muslim community

Mar 14, 2023

Kolkata: Bengal BJP president Sukanta Majumdar said on Monday that his party was not against the Muslims in the country.

“We are not against the Muslim community. There are many moderate voices who swear by India. They are not like those who follow radical Islam and try to suppress the moderate voice,” Majumdar said at Balurghat on Monday.

The state BJP president’s statement came a day after filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri’s controversial statements about the situation in Bengal. “All those who support the cause of Bharat are our friends, no matter if he is a Hindu or a Muslim. We urge them to come together,” Majumdar said.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/sukanta-bjp-is-not-against-muslim-community/articleshow/98619766.cms?from=mdr

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CM Jagan meets Muslim leaders, seeks support

Mar 14, 2023

Vijayawada: Chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy met the representatives of Muslim minority community at his Tadepalli camp office on Monday. He told them that the government is working for the backward classes, weaker sections and minorities.

“This is our government. Support this government,” he told the Muslim leaders explaining the various welfare initiatives of the government. He said the government has given a number of nominated posts for the Muslim minorities.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vijayawada/cm-jagan-meets-muslim-leaders-seeks-support/articleshow/98620042.cms

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NIA raids house of suspected Islamic State operative in Srinagar

Mar 13, 2023

NEW DELHI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday raided the house of a Kashmiri alleged to have participated in a conspiracy hatched in Srinagar in 2020 to facilitate plans by radicalised men and women from Kerala, to travel to an Islamic State-controlled territory.

Uzair Azhar Bhat, whose house in Karfali Mohalla in Srinagar was raided, was a common contact between Deepthi Marla, a converted Muslim woman from Kerala, and Obaid Hamit Matta, both suspects in ISIS Kerala module case being probed by NIA since 2021. Marla had got in touch with prime accused Mohammad Ameen alias Abu Yahya, a resident of Kadannamanna in Kerala’s Malappuram district, after her failed bid to travel to IS-administered Khorasan via Teheran, Iran in 2019.

Ameen and other suspects including Madesh Shankar had made plans to undertake hijrah (holy journey) to ISIS administered territory. In January 2020, Deepthi went to Srinagar in January 2020 to meet Obaid to plan the hijrah and stayed in Srinagar for one week.

In 2021, NIA had started investigating Ameen who was allegedly running various ISIS propaganda channels on social media platforms such as Telegram, Hoop and Instagram. Through these channels, he was propagating violent jihadi ideologies of ISIS and was radicalising and recruiting new members for the ISIS module. Ameen and his associates had even identified certain individuals for targeted killings. They had made plans to undertake hijrah to J&K for engaging in terrorist acts and had raised funds from various sources for this trip.

During the probe, it was found that Ameen was in touch with Deepthi, who was married to Anas Abdul Rahiman of Mangalore. In 2015, she went to Dubai to pursue studies where she met Mizha Siddeeque, another woman. Both Deepthi and Mizha developed an inclination towards ISIS. In 2019, they tried to do hijrah to Khorasan and reached Tehran, Iran. However, after reaching Tehran, their contact with ISIS operatives based in Khorasan could not be established.

They both returned to India, and Deepthi got in touch with Ameen, Obaid Hamid Matta, Madesh Shankar @ Abdullah and others and made plans to undertake hijrah to ISIS administered territory.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/nia-raids-house-of-suspected-islamic-state-operative-in-srinagar/articleshow/98613368.cms

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AMU alumni association plans to form global body

Mar 13, 2023

The Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) Old Boys (Alumni) Association Lucknow hosted an online global AMU alumni meeting on Sunday where the formation of a Global AMU Alumni Association was planned, said Prof Shakeel Ahmad Qidwai, president of the association. The plan was proposed during the meet and most of the participants welcomed the move as it will be in the interest of AMU and members of the Alig fraternity, he added.

The participants also discussed the aims and objectives of this international forum. Aligs from the USA, India, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE and many more countries participated in the meeting. It was resolved that a committee should be constituted to work out the practical and legal modalities and long-term vision of such an international organisation. Many useful inputs and suggestions were proposed which were noted to prepare a long-term master plan which will again be discussed in the next session, said Syed M Shoeb, honorary secretary of the association.

The ongoing crisis on the AMU campus over the issue of unprecedented delay in the appointment of the next vice-chancellor was also discussed and it was decided to write a letter to President Droupadi Murmu in her capacity as the visitor of the University with a request for her intervention into the matter. Prior to that, a delegation of AMU Old Boys Association Lucknow will meet the vice-chancellor and take an account of the current situation.

Source: Hindustan Times

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https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/lucknow-news/amu-alumni-association-plans-to-form-global-body-101678719656215.html

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Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin elected as Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia

14th March 2023

New Delhi: The members of the Court (Anjuman) of the Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) on Monday unanimously elected Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin as the Chancellor (Amir-e-Jamia) of the Jamia Millia Islamia university for a period of five years.

The five-year tenure for the new Chancellor will commence with effect from March 14, 2023.

Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin succeeds Dr Najma Heptulla who completed her five-year term as Chancellor of the university last year.

“An illustrious leader with meritorious and laudable credentials, the 53rd al-Dai al-Mutlaq, Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin is head of the one million-strong global Dawoodi Bohra Muslim Community since 2014,” the university said in a statement.

“Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, who leads by his exceptional examples has dedicated his life to the betterment of the society at large with a special focus on education, the environment, socio-economic aspects and so on,” it read.

The most lauded Global programmes overseen by Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin include Saifee Burhani Uplift Project, Turning the Tide, Project Rise, FMB Community kitchen work towards eradication of hunger, reduction of food waste, protecting the environment and so on. Acclaimed internationally, he is committed to make positive contributions to the society, produce ideal citizens and establish amity, peace and harmony.

“Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin has been honoured with a number of prestigious awards and accolades. He has been featured in the 500 Most Influential Muslims list. A citation was read in the celebration of his contributions in the US House of Representatives at the US Capitol. He is received as a reverent state Guest in several countries,” the statement read further.

Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin has been a distinguished alumnus of the historic Dawoodi Bohra educational institute Al-jamia-tus-saifiya in Surat. He is also a well-known alumnus of the world-famous Al-Azhar University and Cairo University, Egypt.

He inaugurated a new campus of Al-jamia-tus-saifiya in Mumbai on February 10 2023.

A prolific writer Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin has authored the annual treatise over the last five years.

Source: Siasat Daily

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https://www.siasat.com/syedna-mufaddal-saifuddin-elected-as-chancellor-of-jamia-millia-islamia-2546658/

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Pakistan’s cross border infiltration, truce violations hit ties: MEA

Mar 14, 2023

NEW DELHI: The latest annual report of the ministry of external affairs said that the military standoff with China that started in eastern Ladakh in April 2020 has still not been fully resolved and India officially continues to maintain that ties won't become normal till the time troop disengagement is completed in the area.The ministry said both sides agree that a prolongation of the existing situation was not in the interest of either side, as it was impacting the relationship in a negative manner. "Military and diplomatic officials of the two sides are meeting regularly to continue their discussions on resolving the remaining issues at the earliest," it said, adding there had been an enhanced deployment of troops and armaments by the Chinese side in the border areas and along the LAC.

On Pakistan, the report said normalisation of relations between the two countries was "undermined" as Pakistan continued to support cross-border infiltration and ceasefire violations. India, as a result of proactive outreach with the international community, successfully thwarted Pakistan's misleading attempts to present an alarmist picture of the situation of the region and interfere in the internal affairs of India, according to the report.

"India seeks normal relations with all its neighbours, including Pakistan. Our consistent position is that bilateral issues should be addressed peacefully in an environment free from terror, hostility and violence," it reiterated.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistans-crossborder-infiltration-truce-violations-hit-ties-mea/articleshow/98615386.cms

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Arab World

 

Iran: Saudi Arabia detente to positively affect our ties with Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain

13 March ,2023

Days after regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia agreed to normalize ties with Iran, Tehran says it has set its sights on Cairo, Amman and Manama next.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said on Monday the resumption of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia will have a “positive effect” on Tehran’s ties with regional neighboring Arab countries Egypt, Jordan and Bahrain.

“Fortunately, with the positive atmosphere that we are witnessing in the region, this positive development can happen in connection with other regional countries as well, including Bahrain. We should further trust the path of diplomacy and take steps in this direction,” state news agency IRNA quoted Kanaani as saying.

He added: “Egypt is an important country, and the two countries value each other’s importance in the region. The region needs the positive capacities of both Tehran and Cairo.”

“Political ties between Iran and Jordan have not been abandoned in recent years,” he said, adding that Tehran was ready to expand and further develop its ties with Amman.

These statements follow Saudi Arabia and Iran’s announcement on Friday of a landmark agreement brokered by China to re-establish diplomatic ties and reopen embassies after seven years of heightened tensions, backing opposing sides in regional conflicts and supporting differing parties in political rows across the Middle East.

While Amman currently maintains diplomatic ties with Tehran, their complex and rocky relationship has been strained for decades since the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s; and saw ambassadors being summoned in protest and recalled, and ties being severed completely and then restored. In present day, Jordan and Iran have contrary approaches to many regional flashpoint issues such as Syria and Israel.

Bahrain had cut ties with Iran back in 2016, in support of and solidarity with Saudi Arabia after its embassy was attacked in Tehran and the Kingdom subsequently severed all diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic. Manama has also long accused Tehran of stoking unrest among its people, a charge the latter denies.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/13/Iran-Saudi-Arabia-detente-to-positively-affect-our-ties-with-Egypt-Jordan-Bahrain

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Iran says deal with Saudi Arabia will help end Yemen’s war

March 12, 2023

CAIRO: Iran’s mission to the United Nations says a breakthrough agreement with Saudi Arabia restoring bilateral relations will help bring a political settlement to Yemen’s yearslong war, Iranian state media reported on Sunday.

Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed Friday to reestablish diplomatic relations and reopen their embassies after seven years of tensions that brought the two regional powerhouses to the brink of conflict and fueled tensions across the region.

Iran has long been accused by western governments and UN experts of providing weapons to the Houthis. Western militaries have repeatedly intercepted Yemen-bound ships carrying Iranian weapons in the Red Sea.

Tehran has denied the accusations of arming the Houthis.

China mediated the major diplomatic breakthrough between Tehran and Riyadh, which it is widely believed decreases the likelihood of armed conflict between the regional rivals, both directly and in proxy conflicts.

Citing a statement from Iran’s UN mission, IRNA news agency said the deal with Saudi Arabia would accelerate efforts to renew an expired cease-fire deal, “help start a national dialogue, and form an inclusive national government in Yemen.”

The ceasefire, the longest of the Yemen conflict, expired in October. Both sides, however, refrained from taking serious escalatory actions that could cause fighting to flare-up, as negotiations were underway between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia to renew the agreement.

The Houthis appeared to welcome the deal, slamming at the same time the US and Israel, Iran’s top foes.

“The region needs the return of normal relations between its countries, through which the Islamic society can regain its lost security as a result of the foreign interventions, led by the Zionists and Americans,″ said Mohamed Abdulsalam, the rebels’ spokesman and chief negotiator.

Abdel-Bari Taher, a Yemeni political commentator and former Journalists’ Union head, called the Saudi Arabia-Iran deal a “positive first step.”

He urged both Tehran and Riyadh to further pressure their allies in Yemen to end the conflict and ease tensions elsewhere in the region.

“They should pressure their allies to engage positively in the UN efforts to relaunch political talks between Yemenis,” he said. “Yemen is a hot and sensitive spot in the regional rivalry. If it is solved, it would ease tensions in other areas in the region.”

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2267456/middle-east

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Saudi FM To Asharq Al-Awsat: Agreement With Iran Sign Of Joint Will To Resolve Disputes Through Dialogue

ZAID BIN KAMI

ASHARQ AL-AWSAT

March 13, 2023

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah said the Saudi-Iranian agreement to restore diplomatic relations underscores the joint desire by both sides to “resolve disputes through communication and dialogue.”

He added, however: “This does not mean that an agreement has been reached to resolve all pending disputes between them.”

Riyadh and Tehran agreed in Beijing on Friday to re-establish ties that were severed in 2016. They also agreed to reopen their embassies within two months.

In his first interview since the China-sponsored agreement was reached, Prince Faisal said he was looking forward to meeting his Iranian counterpart soon to build on the deal.

“We are preparing to restore our diplomatic ties within two months, so it is normal for us to exchange visits in the future,” he remarked.

On his latest visit to Kyiv and Moscow and talks about a Saudi mediation to stop the Ukraine-Russia war, he stressed that the Kingdom was “prepared to exert efforts and work with the two countries to reach a political solution that ends the crisis and fighting and saves lives.”

Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to restore diplomatic ties and reopen their embassies within two months. What is Saudi Arabia’s direct interest in such a deal? Will it pave the way for a new phase in the region, on the political and economic levels, and in complicated regional files?

Diplomatic ties are at the core of relations between countries. This is doubly significant for two neighboring countries of the size of Saudi Arabia and Iran. They share several religious, historic and cultural ties.

So, the agreement was reached through China’s sponsorship and mediation and after several rounds of talks over the past two years in Iraq and Oman.

Saudi Arabia is forging ahead in the path of de-escalation it has chosen because of its sense of responsibility in bolstering regional and international security and stability.

Agreeing to restore diplomatic ties does not mean we have reached a solution to all disputes between us. Rather, it is a sign of our joint will to resolve them through communication and dialogue and peaceful and diplomatic means.

We, in the Kingdom, hope to open a new chapter with Iran and bolster cooperation that would consolidate security and stability and push forward development and prosperity, not just in both our countries, but the entire region.

When will you meet with the Iranian foreign minister to activate the agreement and arrange for the exchange of ambassadors? Will we soon see you in Tehran?

I am looking forward to meeting with the Iranian foreign minister soon to build on the agreement. We will prepare to restore diplomatic relations within the next two months. It is natural to exchange visits.

Riyadh and Tehran stressed in their joint statement “non-interference in the affairs of other countries and respect for their sovereignty.” Washington has cast doubt on Iran’s commitment. Does the agreement have any conditions related to meddling in the affairs of others and do you believe Iran will respect this?

One of the most important demands for opening a new chapter in ties with Iran is committing to the agreement signed between us. There is no doubt that both our countries and the region have an interest in activating joint cooperation and coordination and focusing on development instead of hegemony.

Such an approach will achieve the aspirations and hopes of our peoples and generations to come for a better future that is secure, stable and prosperous. We hope the Iranians share our hope and goals and we look forward to working with them to achieve them.

Iran has for some time now been grappling with several crises, such as the collapse of the negotiations over its nuclear program and internal problems that have led to one crisis after another, as well as its struggling economy. Some voices, especially western ones, believe this new agreement may be a lifeline to the Iranian regime. What do you think?

I won’t reply to most of what was brought up in the question because they are mostly related to Iran’s internal affairs. What I can say is that Iran is a neighboring country, whose stability and development will benefit the interest and development of the region. We, in Saudi Arabia, only wish it well.

As for Iran’s continued development of its nuclear capabilities, this, no doubt, is cause for alarm. We have repeatedly called for the Gulf region and Middle East to be free of weapons of mass destruction. We call on Iran to commit to its nuclear pledges and intensify its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency. We will continue to work with allies and friends to ensure that.

China is not in the habit of throwing its diplomatic weight in initiatives aimed at resolving regional crises. The question is: Why was China specifically the mediator, not another country?

As the joint statement said, Saudi Arabia welcomed the initiative proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping. It worked with it as an extension of the negotiations that it has been holding with the Iranians for two years. It is no secret that China enjoys positive relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran that has helped achieve rapprochement and highlight the Kingdom’s legitimate concerns.

We hope China’s sponsorship of the agreement would bolster coexistence and security in our region, and good neighborliness between countries. The three countries have a joint interest in preparing a regional environment that is marked by peace, security and stability so that they can work on building and developing regional and international partnerships that achieve economic development and prosperity for the people.

You had proposed an initiative in Moscow to end the Ukraine conflict. Can you shed more light on your diplomatic efforts there, specifically how accepting the warring parties were of any Saudi role? Have you made progress in this area and are you optimistic over your success?

We were and are still ready to exert efforts and to work with both countries to reach a political solution that would end the crisis and fighting and save lives.

The efforts of Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, led to a prisoner exchange between the two sides. The Kingdom has been focusing on meeting the immediate humanitarian needs that emerged from the war. Our humanitarian response in Ukraine is evidence of this drive.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2267596/saudi-arabia

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Iraq seeks fiscal stability with 3-year budget

13 March ,2023

Iraq's prime minister on Monday said his government had finalized a three-year budget for the oil-dependent economy traditionally plagued by budgetary delays.

The bill, sent to parliament for approval, will include financial aid to 600,000 families in a bid to “lower the poverty rate”, Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said at a press conference.

He spoke ahead of the 20th anniversary later this month of the US-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, ushering in years of war, unrest, and political instability which the country is struggling to overcome.

Iraq last year went without a budget because of political paralysis.

Sudani said he hopes the three-year fiscal framework will provide more certainty.

“We will end the process that disrupts all development and construction efforts, as ministries are usually paralyzed before the end of the fiscal year,” waiting for a new budget's approval, a statement from his office said.

According to the United Nations, nearly one-third of Iraq's 42 million population live in poverty.

The country is beset by corruption as well as power cuts that reflect its crumbling infrastructure, but Sudani talks often of repairing roads, hospitals, housing and other essential facilities.

The 2023-2025 spending plan would see $36.5 billion in annual infrastructure investment, including the creation of a “special fund to support the poorest provinces”, Sudani said.

He promised reconstruction of certain regions, including Sinjar province, the historic home of the Yazidi minority.

ISIS extremists massacred Yazidis in 2014 during their occupation of swathes of Iraq.

Annual expenditure would amount to $152 billion, with future modifications possible in the event of oil price fluctuations.

Iraq is the second biggest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and crude exports represent around 90 percent of the government's revenue.

Baghdad projects annual revenues of $103.4 billion from oil sales, based on projected exports of 3.5 million barrels a day with an average price of $70 dollars a barrel.

According to data cited by OPEC, Iraq produced more than 4.3 million barrels daily in January. Brent crude futures traded below $81 a barrel late Monday.

The budget also seeks to illustrate warming ties between Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan, the autonomous province in the country's north, with $307 million allocated for civil servant salaries.

In exchange, 400,000 barrels of oil produced daily by the Kurds will go to the central government.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/business/economy/2023/03/13/Iraq-seeks-fiscal-stability-with-3-year-budget-

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UN, Syrian govt implicated in post-earthquake aid failures: UN-inquiry commission

13 March ,2023

The United Nations, as well as the Syrian government and other actors, are responsible for delays in getting emergency aid to Syrians after the earthquake, a UN-appointed commission of inquiry said on Monday.

The allegations add to a growing chorus of criticism of the global body for its role in the immediate aftermath of last month’s earthquake that killed some 6,000 people, mostly in the opposition-held northwest near the Turkish border.

“Though there were many acts of heroism amid the suffering, we also witnessed a wholesale failure by the government and the international community, including the United Nations, to rapidly direct life-saving support to Syrians in the most dire

need,” said Paulo Pinheiro, chair of the commission, in a statement.

The statement further said that the above actors failed to agree a pause in hostilities and to allow life-saving aid through any available route, leaving Syrians feeling “abandoned and neglected by those supposed to protect them, in the most desperate of times.”

Syria’s information ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/13/UN-Syrian-govt-implicated-in-post-earthquake-aid-failures-UN-inquiry-commission

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Saudi plane carrying 85 tons of humanitarian aid lands in Turkish city of Gaziantep

March 13, 2023

RIYADH: A Saudi humanitarian relief flight carrying more than 85 tons of shelter materials arrived on Monday at Gaziantep Airport in Turkiye.

It is part of the ongoing aid effort organized by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center to help those affected by the devastating earthquakes that hit parts of northern Syria and southern Turkiye in February, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2268031/saudi-arabia

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US military choppers airlift Daesh terrorists to camps in Syria’s Hasakah before transfer to al-Tanf base: Report

13 March 2023

US occupation forces have airlifted dozens of members of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group from a prison in Syria's northeastern province of Hasakah to nearby military facilities before transferring them to a major base in the strategic al-Tanf region, near the borders with Iraq and Jordan.

Syria’s official news agency SANA, citing local sources, reported that US military helicopters transferred the Daesh extremists from the Industrial Secondary Prison, which is under the control of the Kurdish-led and so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), to their camps in the town of al-Shaddadi and al-Omar oil field.

The Takfiri militants will be then moved to the US military base in al-Tanf region to carry out terror attacks against residential buildings, centers that provide public utility services as well as the positions of Syrian government forces.

A number of captured Daesh terrorists have already confessed to close cooperation with US military forces stationed at al-Tanf base in the central Syrian province of Homs on carrying out various acts of terror and sabotage.

During confessions broadcast on Syria’s state-run television network in May 2020, several terrorists revealed that they were instructed by American forces to target Syrian government troops in and around the ancient city of Palmyra, the Tiyas Military Airbase – also known as the T-4 Airbase, the Shaer gas field as well as nearby oil wells.

Back in April last year, SANA, citing local sources speaking on condition of anonymity, reported that a number of Daesh terrorists were being trained at the US military base in al-Shaddadi town on how to fire rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), shoulder-launched rockets as well as anti-armor and anti-aircraft missiles.

The sources added that the Takfiris were set to be transferred within a short period of time to Jazira Region in the eastern Syrian province of Dayr al-Zawr and the Syrian Desert, northeast of the capital Damascus, to attack positions of Syrian army forces, vital facilities and popular gatherings.

The US military has until recently been airlifting Daesh terrorists from one place in Syria to another in order to save them in the face of advancement and territorial gains by Syrian government forces.

American occupation troops have also transferred to safe sanctuaries hundreds of Daesh terrorists and their relatives from Syrian territories to neighboring Iraq in a number of batches.

Moreover, there have been several reports showing Washington's direct or indirect support through its regional allies for the terrorist group over the past years.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/03/13/699804/US-military-choppers-airlift-Daesh-terrorists-to-camps-in-Syria%E2%80%99s-Hasakah-before-transfer-to-al-Tanf-base--Report

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Southeast Asia

 

Bookings for tarawih prayers required at 10 mosques in Singapore during Ramadan

Aqil Hamzah

MAR 13, 2023

SINGAPORE - As Muslims usher in the month of Ramadan on March 23, 10 mosques will require bookings for the nightly tarawih prayers as the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) seeks to continue best practices developed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement on Monday, Muis said it had catered for 98,550 spaces at 67 mosques throughout the fasting month, but bookings are required at certain mosques where there is limited space and high demand.

The 10 mosques are Masjid Al-Islah, Masjid Al-Istighfar, Masjid Al-Taqua, Masjid Darul Ghufran, Masjid An-Nur, Masjid Darul Makmur, Masjid Yusof Ishak, Masjid Al-Abrar, Masjid Tasek Utara and Masjid Al-Khair.

Bookings for slots, which will begin on Thursday, can be done through prayerbooking.ourmasjid.sg

Muis said: “We seek the support and understanding of the Muslim community to safeguard public health as we perform our religious obligations in our mosques.

“Let’s continue our efforts in making our mosques the safest, cleanest, calmest and most caring spaces for our community during Ramadan and beyond.”

While bookings will be required for the tarawih prayers, which are specially held during Ramadan, they will not be in place for the qiyamullail prayers, which take place during the last 10 days of the holy month.

Though the Republic has since moved away from Covid-19 restrictions following a reversion to disease outbreak response system condition green on Feb 9, Muis urged Muslims here to continue with the practices adopted previously.

For one thing, it encouraged them to break fast and perform their nightly prayers at home, though communal eating areas will still be prepared for congregants.

Worshippers are also urged to bring their own prayer mats and perform their ritual ablution before arriving at the mosque, with those feeling unwell advised to stay home.

“We thank the community for its patience and cooperation in this journey with us to resume more activities in our mosques safely,” Muis said.

Source: Straits Times

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/bookings-for-tarawih-prayers-required-at-10-mosques-in-singapore-during-ramadan

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Malaysia needs stricter regulation of the genetic testing of embryos

14 Mar 2023

DOWN syndrome is the most common genetic abnormality in newborns, and it is caused by the presence of an additional chromosome 21. As World Down Syndrome day approaches on March 21, we are reminded of the sobering statistic that around 90% of Down syndrome fetuses are routinely aborted worldwide.

The risks of Down syndrome rises with increasing maternal age, which is particularly significant for Malaysia, given the increasing trend of late motherhood in the country.

Currently, non-invasive prenatal testing of fetal DNA extracted from the mother’s blood is a reliable and accurate technique for diagnosing a Down syndrome fetus within the mother’s womb.

Genetic testing of IVF embryos

Undoubtedly, expectant couples undergo much emotional trauma upon receiving a positive Down syndrome diagnosis in prenatal testing, and face the agonising moral dilemma of whether to proceed with abortion.

For older women undergoing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment, there is a way of avoiding this abortion dilemma by genetic testing of IVF embryos before they are transferred into the womb; this is done using a procedure known as preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidy (PGT-A).

However, this procedure is highly expensive, tedious, time-consuming and invasive. There are risks of damaging the embryo upon extracting cells for testing. Many experts have pointed out that studies claiming no ill-effects from this type of testing are often based on excellent-quality, healthy, and robust embryos rather than more “delicate”, lower-quality embryos that might suffer more from the procedure. Hence, PGT-A poses greater risks for older women who tend to have lower-quality embryos.

Potential misuse of genetic testing

Despite its risks and high costs, PGT-A is widely marketed as a means of ensuring healthy births and avoiding Down syndrome fetuses for women undergoing IVF treatment, even though much cheaper and equally accurate prenatal testing methods are available. The major justification is to prevent the necessity of aborting a genetically-abnormal fetus, thus saving the expectant mother the medical risks and emotional trauma of abortion.

However, because genetic testing inevitably reveals the sex of the embryo (through identification of X and Y chromosomes), this would give IVF patients an opportunity to secretly select the sex of their embryos without any valid medical reasons.

In many traditional Asian cultures, there is often a strong social preference to have a son rather than a daughter, so as to have an heir to continue the family lineage and financially support parents in their old age. Hence, the need to prevent Down syndrome can readily be used as a convenient excuse and cover-up to use genetic testing for sex selection without valid medical reasons.

This raises serious ethical and moral concerns, as sex selection without valid medical reasons tends to reinforce sex discrimination and traditional gender stereotypes; it can also skew the population sex ratio as manifested in India and China.

Indeed, the guidelines of the Malaysian Medical Council on assisted reproduction explicitly prohibit sex selection of embryos for social or personal reasons.

AI-based embryo screening

Recently, a much cheaper and less invasive alternative to manual genetic testing of IVF embryos was announced by an American healthcare company. A novel artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm was developed that can accurately assess the genetic normality of IVF embryos based only on microscopy images.

Nevertheless, it must be noted that AI algorithms used to detect abnormalities can also be easily modified for sex selection.

This would be of even greater concern because such technologies are much cheaper and faster compared with manual genetic testing, thus making it more affordable and convenient for IVF patients wanting to do sex selection without valid medical reasons.

In the context of Muslim-majority Malaysia, a question that often arises in IVF treatment is whether Islam permits non-medical-based sex selection of IVF embryos for personal or social reasons. The dominant view among Islamic scholars is that non-medical sex selection is permissible provided there is a pressing need, the potential benefits outweigh the potential harms, and the sex selection method does not lead to abortion or infanticide. The most common example is a family with only daughters, that needs a son to continue the family lineage. Nevertheless, such a practice is not approved by the Malaysian Medical Council.

Unethical selection for non-medical-related traits

Polygenic testing for disease prevention can also be abused for selecting intelligence and other non-disease-related, socially-desirable traits

Another recent development is polygenic testing to estimate an individual embryo’s likelihood of developing adult-onset, multi-factorial traits such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases by analysing the combination of specific genetic variants within its genome. This is referred to as preimplantation genetic testing for polygenic risk scores (PGT-P).

In a recent breakthrough, researchers in China used polygenic testing to select IVF embryos with less risks of developing family-related diabetes, for expectant parents with a family history of the disease.

Unlike the possibility of serious safety risks with gene editing, there are minimal risks involved in polygenic testing of IVF embryos because there are no permanent manmade genetic modifications that can be passed down to future generations.

Nevertheless, polygenic screening for complex multi-factorial diseases requires whole genomic DNA sequencing of IVF embryos, which at the same time can also be used for polygenic screening of various non-disease-related socially-desirable traits such as intelligence and athletic prowess as well as beauty standards such as tallness, fair complexion, and hair and eye colour.

This is a particularly lucrative business opportunity because parents naturally and instinctively want the best for their children. Indeed, a recent large-scale survey conducted in the United States showed that 38% of respondents indicated that they would use polygenic testing to improve their child’s IQ and academic performance.

Even if polygenic testing of IVF embryos for non-disease traits gets banned in Malaysia in the future, the fact remains that the genomic DNA sequence of IVF embryos will likely be available to patients who did polygenic testing for preventing diseases such as type 2 diabetes. It is difficult to deny such data to patients who pay for it.

These patients can freeze their DNA-sequenced IVF embryos, and send such data overseas for prediction of intelligence, tallness and fair complexion.

Psychosocial problems and social divides

The major ethical concern here is the fear of worsening social inequality, because only the rich can afford to use such expensive technologies to beget genetically advantaged children, while the poor will be excluded.

Over several generations of cumulative genetic enhancement, this may possibly lead to permanent stratification and divergence of humankind into genetically enhanced “haves” and “have nots”, which could in turn result in new forms of servitude and exploitation.

Additionally, there are also psychosocial problems. After spending so much money, parents may start having unrealistic expectations of their specially selected offspring. Children born through such procedures may have disturbing feelings of being treated like lab rats, and that their parents do not love them unconditionally as who they are.

Source: The Star

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/letters/2023/03/14/malaysia-needs-stricter-regulation-of-the-genetic-testing-of-embryos

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Europe

 

Greece tramples on religious rights by keeping mosques closed

MAR 13, 2023

“The Christian community can freely perform religious services in churches in Çeşme, but Muslims cannot perform prayers in old mosques in Chios,” Sabri Can Sannav laments. An academic from the history department of Türkiye’s Trakya University, he points to the contrast between religious freedom in the popular Turkish resort town and the Greek island lying just a few miles away from Çeşme. Experts say Greece failed to adhere to reciprocity in securing the religious rights of the Muslim community, while other countries such as Türkiye show respect to their Christian legacy.

Though Greece and Türkiye appeared to have warmed up to each other after the Feb. 6 earthquakes in Türkiye’s south that triggered sympathy from its western neighbor, the state of Ottoman heritage mosques is a point of contention between the two. Türkiye in the past has criticized Athens for depriving Muslim minorities of rights and letting Ottoman-era buildings, including the mosques, fall into disrepair.

Sannav says the Mecidiye Mosque, converted into the Byzantine Museum of Chios in 1912, largely lost its features as a mosque. “It underwent restoration several times since then that resulted in a massive transformation,” he told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Monday. The museum now hosts Christian artifacts and Muslim and Jewish gravestones. The Mecidiye Mosque is the only Ottoman-era structure that remained largely intact in Chios.

“The Mecidiye Mosque is closed while Christian faithful were able to convene a religious service in Aya Haralambos church in Çeşme after 100 years,” Sannav said. “Greece should be more sensitive about this issue. Every member state of the European Union values religious freedom and equality, regardless of the faith. Türkiye is not a member of the EU like Greece but still observes religious freedoms. Greece should answer the question as to why Muslims cannot pray in Mecidiye or other closed mosques while the Christian community can pray in churches here in Türkiye,” he said.

Neval Konuk, an associate professor of architecture from Marmara University who penned a book on Ottoman architecture located on several Greek islands, says four imperial Ottoman mosques stood the test of time in Chios but none serve their original purpose. “One of them is a warehouse for an electrical appliance repair shop, Mecidiye is a museum, while the other two are used to store artifacts from archaeological excavations,” she said.

Konuk says Greece follows a policy of “ignoring” Ottoman-Turkish structures within its borders. “All buildings dating back to the Ottoman era are officially registered as ‘Muslim’ architecture. They simply ignore the background of those Muslims. They are certainly not Indian, Pakistani or Arab Muslims,” she said. She noted that Greek records showed 8,500 buildings built during Ottoman rule, while Greece simply ignored Ottoman buildings constructed in the period after the 1821 Greek uprising against the Ottomans. She says her research highlighted that some 20,000 structures were present in Greece despite deliberate policies of demolition and other factors.

She also noted that Greece’s policies involved “unnatural” restoration of Ottoman-era buildings that “erases” traces of the original purpose of buildings. “Some are restored in a way to make them resemble Byzantine architecture,” she noted.

On Chios, Konuk said the island was ruled by Ottomans from 1566 to 1912 but strangely, the island hosted only one Ottoman cemetery, while gravestones collected from other cemeteries – apparently removed deliberately – were randomly placed in areas serving as a “sort of open-air museum.”

Source: Daily Sabah

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https://www.dailysabah.com/politics/greece-tramples-on-religious-rights-by-keeping-mosques-closed/news

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Ex-PM Blair says US-UK relationship would have ‘suffered’ if Britain abandoned Iraq invasion

March 13, 2023

LONDON: The relationship between the US and UK would have suffered if Britain had not fully engaged with the invasion of Iraq, former prime minister Tony Blair has said.

In a new radio series looking back on the invasion of the Middle Eastern country in 2003, Blair spoke about Britain’s importance to the US in the lead-up to the war.

George W. Bush had told Blair that the UK did not need to the participate in the early stages of the assault on Iraq out of fear that his ally would lose a vote in Parliament on the night before the war, but Blair persisted with the invasion, the Daily Telegraph reported.

The former Labour prime minister said he viewed confronting Saddam Hussein as a matter of principle and was “sure that our alliance depended on us doing this together.”

Retired CIA operations officer and chief of Iraq operations Luis Rueda was also interviewed for the series and admitted that “we were wrong about the weapons of mass destruction.

“But I got to tell you, my personal belief, we would have invaded Iraq if Saddam Hussein had a rubber band, a paperclip, and somebody would have said, ‘Oh, he’s going to put your eye out. Let’s take him out’,” Rueda said.

Blair also said the UK’s relationship with the US has deteriorated since he was prime minister.

“When I was prime minister, there was no doubt either under President Clinton or President Bush, who the American president picked up the phone to first.

Source: Arab News

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2267831/world

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Russia welcomes Iran-Saudi Arabia agreement to restore relations

13 March 2023

The Russian foreign minister has hailed a recent agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore relations after seven years of estrangement.

Sergei Lavrov made the remark in a Monday phone call with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

After several days of intensive negotiations hosted by China, Iran and Saudi Arabia finally clinched a deal on Friday to restore diplomatic relations and re-open embassies and missions within two months.

According to the statement, Iran and Saudi Arabia highlighted the need to respect each others’ national sovereignty and refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of one another.

Iran, Saudi Arabia and China expressed their firm determination to make their utmost efforts to promote regional and international peace and security, it emphasized.

The two foreign ministers also discussed the implementation of long-term cooperation agreements signed between Tehran and Moscow.

The top Iranian and Russian diplomats also touched on the forthcoming meeting among Iran, Russia, Turkey and Syria, which is aimed at facilitating resolution of the existing problems between Syria and its northern neighbor, Turkey.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently announced that the Syrian, Turkish, and Russian foreign ministers would be holding a meeting in line with the countries' collective efforts to address existing disputes between Damascus and Ankara.

The Turkish chief executive said the countries' heads of state would be joining the talks too if the need arises.

Lavrov has also called it "reasonable" for Iran to join in mediating the talks between Syria and Turkey alongside Moscow, TASS news agency reported.

Source: Press TV

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https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/03/13/699814/Iran-Russia-Saudi-Arabia-Amir-Abdollahian-Lavrov-cooperation-Turkey-Syria

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Co-leader of German ruling party calls for putting Iran's Revolutionary Guards on EU terror list

Beyza Binnur Dönmez 

13.03.2023

GENEVA

The co-chairman of Germany’s ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD) called Sunday for adding Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to the European Union’s terror list, according to local media.

Lars Klingbeil has criticized Tehran over the conviction of a young student, German press agency DPA reported

Engineering student Samaneh Asghari was sentenced to "18 years and three months in prison despite absolutely baseless accusations," said Klingbeil, adding he was "deeply shocked" by the decision.

The IRGC should be added to the EU's terrorist list, according to a non-binding resolution that EU lawmakers approved in January, the report added.

Asghari, a children’s rights activist and an industrial engineering student at Kharazmi University, was arrested on Oct. 11 last year and detained in Evin Prison. She was later transferred to Qarchak Prison, where she remains in custody.

If her sentence is approved in the appeal stage, the maximum punishment of six years and three months will be applicable to her.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/co-leader-of-german-ruling-party-calls-for-putting-irans-revolutionary-guards-on-eu-terror-list/2843939

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30 irregular migrants missing after boat capsizes off Libya

Baris Seckin

13.03.2023

ROME

Italy rescued at least 17 irregular migrants while 30 others are still missing after their boat capsized off the coast of Libya in the Mediterranean.

The Italian Coast Guard Command said they conducted a rescue operation targeting the boat carrying 47 people about 177 kilometers (110 miles) off the coast of Libya after being alerted by the Alarm Phone charity, which picks up calls from migrant vessels in distress, and receiving a request for support from Libyan authorities.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/30-irregular-migrants-missing-after-boat-capsizes-off-libya/2843959

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South Asia

 

Afghan Diplomats to Participate in India’s Online Training Program Open To Students “Across The World, Including In Afghanistan”

By Fidel Rahmati

March 14, 2023

The Foreign Ministry of Afghanistan informed its diplomats to participate in the training programme provided by India from March 14 to March 17, according to a memo released by the Ministry in Kabul.

The Taliban Foreign Ministry’s director general of diplomacy, Mufti Nurullah Azzam, has released the memo. It stated that informal information regarding a short-term course offered by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) to staff members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been obtained from the Indian Embassy.

The Taliban diplomats will participate in the training by India for the first time since the Taliban took over Kabul in August 2021.

However, sources said the Course is sponsored by the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Program (ITEC), which belongs to the Indian Foreign Affairs and is open to students “across the world, including in Afghanistan”.

“This is only an online course available worldwide, including to Afghan students. While none of the students is being invited to India, we are not discriminating against Afghan nationals, and anyone can avail of the Course,” an Indian government official said, saying that New Delhi does not recognize the Taliban, or its MFA, or its diplomats.

The Course will give the delegates a deeper understanding of Indian business, environment, culture, history, and regulatory ecosystem, according to ITEC’s websites.

However, most of the Afghan students who have been stuck in Afghanistan since the takeover of the Taliban reacted angrily to the online Course for Taliban, saying that they were not able to finish their education in India as a result of New Delhi’s cancellation of all visas since then.

Source: Khaama Press

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https://www.khaama.com/afghan-diplomats-to-participate-in-indias-online-training-program/

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Afghan Voice News Agency’s Reporter Killed at Balkh’s Press Event

By Fidel Rahmati

March 14, 2023

Hossein Naderi, a reporter for the Afghan Voice News Agency (AVA) and an internship student were killed in the explosion at a gathering of Journalists in Mazar-e-Sharif, including 18 others injured from different media.

According to the Afghan Voice News Agency, Hossein Naderi was 20 years old and a second-year law student. Naderi was a resident of Suzeme Qala district of Sarpul province, working as a local reporter in Mazar-e-Sharif in the Afghan Voice News Agency for two years.

While Akmal Nazari was a journalism student and worked as an intern with Afghan Voice Agency.

The explosion occurred three days ago at the Tebyan Cultural Center during a journalists’ gathering for the award event in Balkh province; at least three people were killed, and 30 others, including 16 journalists, were wounded.

According to the report, several religious clerics, cultural figures, and local officials participated in the conference.

The explosion at the Journalists’ gathering is considered a despicable attack on journalists and freedom of expression in the country and is strongly condemned by the AFJC.

Source: Khaama Press

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https://www.khaama.com/afghan-voice-news-agencys-reporter-killed-at-balkhs-press-event/

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Afghan Forces Arrest Man in Kabul with Magnetic IEDs

By Fidel Rahmati

March 13, 2023

A man was arrested in Kabul’s capital city of Afghanistan with six magnetic Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), according to the Ministry of National Defense on Monday.

The Ministry said that the apprehended capture was made possible based on the intelligence gathered by the 313 Central Corps of the defence ministry.

“A man was arrested along with six 6-ring stick mines and two rifles in the Dehamzang area of Kabul,” the Ministry tweeted, adding that the suspect will be handed over to the relevant authorities after investigation.

The arrest came two days after an attack on Friday late evening in Kabul that killed three and wounded four members of the Taliban, the Afghan Freedom Front, claimed in a news release.

However, the Islamic Emirate confirmed the explosion without causalities and said that only two people were wounded.

Recently, the attack has been increased on the Taliban interim government by Islamic State Khorasan and other militant groups in the country.

Within a week, three explosions occurred, one in Kabul, claiming three lives, one in Balkh’s governor’s office, which led to his death and another in Tebyan Cultural Centre, killing more than three and other 30 journalists.

Source: Khaama Press

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https://www.khaama.com/afghan-forces-arrest-man-in-kabul-with-magnetic-ieds/

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Afghan Interim Govt Appoints Envoy to Afghanistan’s Consulate General in Dubai

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

March 14, 2023

Taliban’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has appointed Abdul Rahman Feda as the chargé d’affaires of the Afghan Consulate General in Dubai.

As per the Taliban foreign ministry’s statement, Abdul Rahman Feda will take office from the current Afghan Consul General Masood Ahmad Azizi effective from March 23. It is clearly highlighted in the statement that Masood Azizi’s office tenure will end on the mentioned date.

Upon the approval of the Taliban’s diplomatic representative in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates will join the group of several other countries in the region, which have handed over Afghanistan’s political missions to the Taliban, without formally recognizing the group’s regime.

Prior to this, Iran, China, Russia, Turkiye, and Pakistan have accepted Taliban diplomats as the representatives of Afghanistan’s Embassy and Consulate Generals. 

Since the international community has not recognized the Taliban regime, these countries cannot officially give credentials to the Taliban Ambassadors. Therefore, to connect and engage with the Taliban officials, these countries have allowed Taliban diplomats to take charge of Afghan embassies in consulates in those countries.

Despite the pressure from the international community on the Afghan interim government accused of violating human rights, the rights of women and girls as well as religious minorities, the regional countries have gradually started to engage with the Taliban.

Handing over Afghanistan’s embassies and diplomatic missions to the Taliban diplomats is the first step towards a new development in the context of Afghanistan.

Source: Khaama Press

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https://www.khaama.com/afghan-interim-govt-appoints-envoy-to-afghanistans-consulate-general-in-dubai/

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Bangladesh probe suggests ‘sabotage’ behind devastating fire at Rohingya camps

SHEHAB SUMON

March 13, 2023

DHAKA: A huge fire that has left thousands of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh camps without shelter was a “planned act of sabotage” by groups attempting to exert influence, a panel investigating the blaze said on Monday.

The fire broke out on March 5 in Cox’s Bazar, a southeastern coastal district and the world’s largest refugee settlement hosting around 1.2 million Rohingya Muslims who fled violence and persecution in neighboring Myanmar.

An estimated 2,000 huts and dozens of facilities, including hospitals and learning centers, were destroyed after flames swept through the camps, affecting more than 12,000 people.

“The fire incident was a planned act of sabotage and vengeance which was done to establish influence in the camp over the rival groups,” Abu Sufian, a senior district government official and head of the seven-member probe committee, told Arab News.

The panel concluded its investigation after three days and interviewed eyewitnesses from the camps, Sufian said, as they made several recommendations to improve fire safety, as well as surveillance and intelligence monitoring in the camps.

“We recommend further investigation over the incident to dig out the names responsible for this fire. It requires an in-depth investigation.”

Fire incidents are common in the crowded camps as the makeshift structures are prone to such hazards. In 2021, a blaze destroyed thousands of homes and killed at least 15 refugees.

But the recent incident is only the latest example of surging crime in the camps.

“As a Rohingya refugee, I feel insecure in the camp to utter the names of the … gangs that are active in the camps. One of these gangs is responsible for the fire incident,” a Rohingya refugee residing in the Kutupalong camp told Arab News.

The 25-year-old requested anonymity out of fear for his safety.

“There should be more and more deep investigation. And the authorities must hold them accountable. It’s obvious that the perpetrators set the fire with an intention to establish dominance over the other groups in the camps,” he said.

Asif Munir, a migration and refugee expert based in Dhaka, said similar incidents had occurred in the camps in the last two years, with “different groups and factions” behind them, most of whom are armed and involved with drug trafficking.

“It doesn’t seem that they have any revolutionary ideas or in terms of looking after the Rohingya population and their future and their welfare. They’re a selfish group, and just kind of waiting for or hoping to get some extra money which can support themselves only,” Munir told Arab News.

“These are some things that actually Bangladesh intelligence, authorities, as well as the law enforcing agencies need to have a better mechanism of containing,” he said.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2267756/world

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Mideast

 

Ansarullah leader: US, Israel seeking to present distorted image of Islam to world

13 March 2023

The leader of Yemen’s popular Ansarullah movement has condemned efforts made by the United States and Israel to present a distorted image of Islam to the world and target the Muslim world from within.

Abdul-Malik al-Houthi made the remarks on Monday evening as he addressed a group of religious scholars during a ceremony in the capital Sana’a.

He called upon religious thinkers and clerics to remain vigilant in the face of hostile plots hatched by the enemies of Islam, emphasizing that they are “actively present in military, political, security, economic and cultural spheres, and use all capacities at their disposal” to achieve their objectives.

“There is a plot aimed at targeting the Muslim world from within and there are a number of scholars in countries that are allies of the US and the Zionist regime who seek to present a distorted image of Islam,” Houthi pointed out.

The Ansarullah chief said the enemies of Islam are trying to corrupt Muslim nations and mislead them so as to foment infidelity and aversion of religion.

The Ansarullah leader also urged Yemeni religious scholars and clergy men to “further foster the culture of donations within the society and encourage people to help the people in need.”

Earlier, Houthi had called the United States and the Israeli regime "enemies number one" to Muslims around the world.

“Americans and Israelis try to abuse the problems that lie within the Muslim world towards furthering their own plots,” Abdul-Malik al-Houthi said in February last year while receiving tribal delegations from across war-torn Yemen.

“Israel and its mercenaries consider the Yemeni nation to be their common enemy,” he added.

Houthi was referring to the regional Arab states that have entered US-backed normalization agreements with the Israeli regime and have, ever since, been trying to ingratiate themselves to the occupying regime by aligning their positions with it.

Source: Press TV

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https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/03/13/699818/Ansarullah-leader--US,-Israel-seeking-to-present-distorted-image-of-Islam-to-world

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UAE Halts Military Purchase from Israel Amid Political Crisis Facing Netanyahu

2023-March-13

The Arabic-language Arabi21 online newspaper, citing a report by Israel’s Channel 12 television channel, said the UAE’s decision came in response to recent actions and statements by Israel’s so-called national Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

The channel quoted Israeli sources as saying that the UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has announced the freeze on the deal.

“As long as we do not receive assurances that [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is able to control his administration, we cannot undertake common projects,” Al Nahyan said.

Protests have been snowballing in the occupied territories over the past two months since Netanyahu's controversial move to reform the judiciary.

Back on September 22 last year, Reuters cited two sources as saying that Israel had approved a UAE request and would supply the Persian Gulf state with Rafael-made SPYDER mobile interceptors.

A third source said the UAE had acquired Israeli technology capable of combating drone attacks like those that struck Abu Dhabi earlier that year.

It was not clear how many interceptors, which are fitted to vehicles and can defend against short to long-range threats, would be supplied, or if any had already been shipped.

Back in 2020, the UAE and Bahrain signed US-brokered agreements with Israel to normalize their ties with the regime. Some other Arab states, namely Sudan and Morocco, followed suit soon afterward.

The normalization deals have sparked widespread condemnations from the Palestinians as well as nations and human rights advocates across the globe, especially within the Muslim world.

Palestinians regard ministers of the new Israeli cabinet, especially Ben-Gvir and Smotrich, as racist and fascist for publicly advocating the expulsion of Palestinians and the demolition of their homes, supporting Israeli extremist groups repeatedly attacking Palestinians, and stirring incitement to racism against Arabs and non-Jews.

Earlier this month, Smotrich caused an uproar when he said the Palestinian town of Huwwara, South of Nablus, should be “wiped out”.

“I think the village of Huwwara needs to be wiped out. I think Israel should do it,” he was quoted as saying by Israeli media outlets on March 1.

Smotrich’s remarks were met with condemnations from the European Union and many countries around the world as incitement of violence and terrorism.

The office of the European Union Representative in Al-Quds condemned the remarks as “unacceptable”, saying, “They incite to indiscriminate violence in a situation which is already extremely tense.”

On March 6, Ben-Gvir ordered Israeli forces to press ahead with the demolition of Palestinian homes that have purportedly been built “without permits” in occupied East Al-Quds during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

According to the Israeli public broadcaster KAN, the announcement came despite the fact that the occupying regime has not carried out home demolitions during Ramadan in the past years in order to avoid tensions with Palestinians and their subsequent retaliatory operations.

Ramadan, during which Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, is set to start later this month.

Source: Fars News Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14011222000382/UAE-Hals-Miliary-Prchase-frm-Israel-Amid-Pliical-Crisis-Facing-Neanyah

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A new intifada? Young Palestinian fighters rise as West Bank boils

14 March ,2023

Before a group of young men from Aqabat Jabr refugee camp mounted a botched attack on a restaurant in Jericho popular with Israeli settlers in January, they declared allegiance to Hamas.

That was a surprise to their families - and to Hamas.

“They weren’t members of Al Qassam until that moment,” said Wael Awdat, father of Ibrahim and Rafat, two members of the group, using the name of the armed wing of Hamas. “They had a normal life. This was something personal.”

Their story illustrates the complex mix of spontaneous action and association between established factions and new groups during an upsurge in violence in the occupied West Bank that has fueled fears of a new Palestinian intifada to follow the uprisings of the 1980s and early 2000s.

Alienated from mainstream Palestinian leadership and raised in an era of social media, a new generation of Palestinians has formed a clutch of militant groups, from the Lion’s Den based in Nablus to the Jenin Brigade.

Often with just a handful of fighters, the militant groups springing up across the West Bank over the past year have only loose ties to factions such as Hamas, Fatah or Islamic Jihad.

With tight surveillance making it impossible to operate normally in the West Bank, Hamas, which runs the blockaded Gaza Strip, is relying on more flexible, informal networks to avoid detection, two Hamas officials told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of Israeli reprisals.

A Hamas cadre in Jericho, normally a tranquil city, popular as a weekend getaway spot near the Dead Sea, told Reuters the movement had not known of the cell behind the restaurant attack but said: “Any faction would be happy to claim them as members.”

A few days after the attack, which failed when a gun jammed, the young men in the group were killed in an Israeli raid.

“All the signs are that the intifada is coming,” said the Hamas cadre, who declined to be named for fear of Israeli reprisals. “There is a new generation of people who believe the only solution is armed struggle.”

Tiktok, posters and songs

Spontaneous offshoots of the established factions, such as the previously unknown Aqabat Jabr Battalion formed by the Awdat brothers and their friends, have proliferated.

“Today we have a new generation that is aware of the resistance, and this is a generation that knows the ferocity of occupation,” said one masked young fighter at a rally in Jenin this month, with the colors of Al Qassam around his head.

“It does not fear arrest, injury or martyrdom. It is not afraid of anything,” he told Reuters.

With no central leadership, the groups get their message out though songs, TikTok videos and posters of fighters on walls, offering a model to young men angered by what they feel as repeated humiliations by Israeli soldiers and settlers.

“The number of fighters is growing all the time and the enemy needs to know that violence against our people and our camps is increasing their number not reducing it,” a masked gunman from the Jenin Brigade said.

Over the past year, Israeli forces have carried out near-daily raids in the West Bank as part of a crackdown started in the wake of a spate of deadly attacks in Israel by Palestinians.

More than 200 Palestinians, including both militants and civilians have been killed - about 80 this year alone - while over 40 Israelis and foreign nationals have been killed in attacks by Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank or around Jerusalem.

As the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish Passover approach, fears of more violence have grown, with a flood of weapons being smuggled in from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel itself, Palestinian and Israeli officials say.

“It’s proper weapons, it’s M16s, Kalashnikovs, it’s pistols, it’s ammunition, it’s not weapons you can make at home, it’s weapons that countries buy,” said a senior Israeli officer, who spoke to Reuters on condition he would not be named.

In addition, the officer said the new generation of militants were using social media effectively to mobilize.

“We have the most lethal weapon there is, that nobody talks about, which is the telephone, so on social media networks very easily things pass from hand to hand over TikTok, etc,” he said.

Pleas for calm

While the lack of leadership has reduced the political focus of the new groups, Israeli officers say their fluid nature and the large number of lone attackers, with no known militant connections, has made them much harder to control.

Incidents such as the Feb. 26 shooting of two Israelis in the West Bank by a Hamas gunman that triggered a revenge rampage by hundreds of settlers against the nearby Palestinian village of Huwara have shown the volatility of the situation.

The violence has been constant, taking place amid a daily experience for Palestinians of confrontations with soldiers at checkpoints who have stepped up the search for “lone wolf” attackers, or with Israeli settlers, some of whom taunt and attack Palestinians with apparent impunity.

As one killing succeeds another, there have been increasingly urgent pleas for calm from an alarmed international community. But neither Israel, now run by one of the most right-wing, nationalist religious governments in its history, nor the Palestinian fighters, appear ready to back down.

“What do I fear? No, I carry my weapons and stand against the army,” said Ahmed Ghoneim, whose two brothers were killed in an Israeli raid in January, at a parade in the Jenin refugee camp on March 3 to honor a founder of the Jenin Brigade.

The rally was a classic display of force, with some 250 fighters from various factions parading in a courtyard, its walls plastered with pictures of their dead, posing with guns and the cropped hairstyles popular among young West Bank men.

Four days later, Israeli security forces raided the camp, killing at least six gunmen, including the Hamas member behind the Feb. 26 Huwara shooting. Two days after that, three Islamic Jihad gunmen were killed in a raid nearby and on Sunday, three Lion’s Den militants died in a shootout with Israeli forces.

Bitterness spreads

Israeli officials often blame the surge in violence on a Palestinian Authority that nominally exercises a limited degree of rule in the West Bank but which is in reality effectively powerless in flashpoint areas such as Jenin.

To make matters worse, the Authority has been preoccupied for months with the future of its 87-year-old President Mahmoud Abbas, whose eventual exit risks setting off a factional power struggle.

For its part, the Palestinian Authority says its control is constantly undermined by Israeli actions, which both weaken its authority and fuel resentment among the young, already struggling with high unemployment and scarce prospects.

The bitterness has now spread from radical fringes to affect even comparatively well-off Palestinians, such as the Awdat brothers, neither of whom fitted the classic profile of disaffected young men with no education or prospects.

Speaking outside his house in Aqabat Jabr, a relatively calm area that resembles a rural village more than the crowded camps in Nablus or Jenin, their father, Wael Awdat, said his sons had appeared happy.

Ibrahim, 27, operated a water tanker business in Aqabat Jabr and, like his 22-year-old brother Rafat, an electrician, had done two years of college. One member of their cell had a poultry business and drove a recent model BMW, Awdat said.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/14/A-new-intifada-Young-Palestinian-fighters-rise-as-West-Bank-boils

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Key element of Israeli judicial reforms passes first vote despite weeks of protests

14 March ,2023

The Israeli parliament approved at its first reading on Tuesday morning a bill limiting the Supreme Court’s ability to overturn laws it deems unconstitutional -- a key element of a judicial reform package that has fueled weeks of protests.

The text was adopted just before 3 am (0100 GMT) by a vote of 61 to 52, though it will still need to be approved at second and third readings before becoming law.

The bill makes it more difficult for the Supreme Court to strike down legislation deemed to contravene the Basic Laws, requiring that a 12-member majority of a 15-judge panel rule in favour.

It would also allow parliament, with just a simple majority, to override Supreme Court decisions striking down legislation and deny the court the right to review such a move.

Before the vote on that bill, lawmakers also approved in its first reading a separate one considerably limiting the chances of a prime minister being impeached.

The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose ruling coalition includes ultra-Orthodox and extreme-right parties, introduced its judicial reform package in January.

Ten consecutive weeks of nationwide demonstrations followed, with critics saying the package is aimed at handing politicians more power at the expense of the judiciary and protecting Netanyahu, who is facing corruption charges.

Netanyahu and his justice minister argue the changes are necessary to reset the balance between elected officials and the Supreme Court.

The reforms would also grant the ruling coalition more powers in appointing judges.

Israeli President Issac Herzog -- who, in his largely ceremonial role, has tried to broker dialogue -- on Thursday called on the coalition to halt the legislation, dubbing it “a threat to the foundations of democracy”.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/14/Key-element-of-Israeli-judicial-reforms-passes-first-vote-despite-weeks-of-protests

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Oldest Palestinian Prisoner in an Israeli Jail, Fuad Shubaki, 83, Released After 17 Years

March 14, 2023

RAMALLAH: The oldest Palestinian prisoner in an Israeli jail was released on Monday after serving a 17-year sentence for arms smuggling, an advocacy group and his son said.

Fuad Shubaki, 83, was released from Ashkelon prison and is “on his way to Ramallah” in the occupied West Bank, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club said, which was confirmed by Shubaki’s son Hazem.

As Shubaki arrived in Ramallah at the tomb of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, to whom he was a close ally, Palestinian officials jostled to get close to the octogenarian draped in a Palestinian keffiyeh.

Young children waved the flag of the Fatah movement, while women proudly sported t-shirts with the face of a young Shubaki printed on them.

Among the crowd was Mahmoud Aloul, vice president of the Fatah movement, and TawfiqTirawi — two figures often described as possible successors to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas. After praying at Arafat’s tomb, Shubaki vowed to continue the “resistance” of the late Palestinian leader. “We will go on the path Yasser Arafat drew for us, we will carry on his resistance no matter what it costs, our lives are worthless when it comes to our homeland, our people and those who were martyred along the way,” he said.

Shubaki, a senior member of the Fatah movement, was arrested by Palestinian security forces in 2002 at the height of the second intifada, or uprising.

He was accused of attempting to smuggle weapons from Iran to the coastal enclave of Gaza aboard the Karine A ship, which was seized by Israel in the Red Sea.

The Israeli military claimed the ship was carrying 50 tonnes of weapons

He was held by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank town of Jericho under US and British supervision.

Source: Dawn

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1742108/oldest-palestinian-prisoner-released-after-17-years

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Polls show Erdogan lags opposition by more than 10 points ahead of May vote

13 March ,2023

New polls show the Turkish opposition’s presidential candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leading against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by more than 10 percentage points ahead of elections on May 14 seen by many as the most consequential vote in Turkey’s history.

The polls also show the opposition bloc, called the Nation Alliance, leading the parliamentary race, at least six points ahead of Erdogan’s AK Party (AKP) and its allies. The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) remains comfortably above 10 percent.

Erdogan faces the biggest challenge to his 20-year rule after the erosion of his popularity during a cost-of-living crisis. Victims of last month’s earthquake are also reconsidering their loyalty in previous AKP strongholds.

The elections will decide not just who leads Turkey but how it is governed, where its economy is headed and what role it may play to ease conflict in Ukraine and the Middle East.

Wolfango Piccoli, political risk advisory co-president at Teneo, said the Nation Alliance needs to present a unified front and sell the voters a plan to keep up their momentum heading into the elections.

“Simply blaming Erdogan for everything that is wrong in Turkey won’t cut it. Past elections have shown that Erdogan is a phenomenal campaigner, but recent remarks suggest he has lost his popular touch and his ability to connect with voters,” he told Reuters.

A poll published by Aksoy Research on Saturday and conducted on March 8 showed Kilicdaroglu, named as the opposition alliance candidate on March 6, leading against Erdogan with 55.6 percent support and 44.4 percent, respectively.

It showed the main opposition bloc garnering 44.1 percent of votes and the HDP at 10.3 percent. The AKP and its nationalist MHP allies earned 38.2 percent together.

A poll conducted on March 6-7 by Alf Research showed Kilicdaroglu at 55.1 percent and Erdogan on 44.9 percent. Kilicdaroglu’s Republican People’s Party (CHP) was the most popular with 31.8 percent, while the AK Party trailed with 31 percent.

The main opposition bloc earned 43.5 percent of votes, while the HDP got 11.3 percent, that poll showed. The AKP and the MHP together had 37.5 percent support.

Piar Research showed Kilicdaroglu winning with 57.1 percent, with Erdogan lagging on 42.9 percent. The CHP got 32.3 percent, the AKP 30.8 percent and the HDP 11.6 percent. The main opposition bloc got 46.4 percent, while the AKP and MHP earned 37.8 percent, the poll, published on March 10, showed.

ORC Research showed Kilicdaroglu ahead with 56.8 percent and Erdogan on 43.2 percent, according to a poll conducted on March 4-6, before Kilicdaroglu was officially announced as the opposition candidate.

The earthquakes appeared to have had little impact on the AKP’s popularity. In a poll by Metropoll, 34.4 percent of people blamed the government for the losses during the earthquake, while 26.9 percent blamed contractors.

The municipalities came in third, with 15.4 percent of contributors saying they were to blame, while 12.9 percent answered with “all.”

Merve Tahiroglu, Turkey program director at the Washington-based Project on Middle East Democracy, said the opposition alliance was “diverse” and each prominent figure within the alliance could appeal to a different segment of Turkey.

Source: Al Arabiya

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https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/13/Polls-show-Erdogan-lags-opposition-by-more-than-10-points-ahead-of-May-vote

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Iran has pardoned 22,000 arrested during protests, Judiciary chief tells IRNA

13 March ,2023:

Iranian judicial authorities have pardoned 22,000 people who took part in anti-government protests, judiciary chief Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said on Monday, according to the official IRNA news agency.

State media reported early last month that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had pardoned “tens of thousands” of prisoners including some arrested in the protests in a deadly crackdown on dissent.

“So far 82,000 people have been pardoned, including 22,000 people who participated in [the] protests,” Ejei said.

He did not specify over what period the pardons were granted or if or when the people had been charged.

Iran has been swept by protests since the death of a young Iranian Kurdish woman in the custody of the country’s morality police last September.

Source: Al Arabiya

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https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/13/Iran-has-pardoned-22-000-arrested-during-protests-Judiciary-chief-tells-IRNA

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Turkey’s earthquake toll tops 48,000 as government races to build container cities

13 March ,2023

The death toll in Turkey from last month’s major earthquakes has risen to 48,448, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Monday, as authorities rush to set up container cities to house for the longer-term those left homeless by the disaster.

The combined death toll including those killed in Syria has climbed to more than 54,000.

Speaking at a news conference in Malatya, one of the provinces hit by the quakes, Soylu said the toll in Turkey included 6,660 foreign nationals, mostly Syrians, adding that authorities were still trying to identify 1,615 victims.

The earthquake and subsequent powerful tremors injured more than 115,000 in Turkey and left millions sheltering in tents or seeking to move to other cities.

President Tayyip Erdogan has pledged to rebuild homes within a year but it will be many months before thousands can leave their tents or container housing, and daily queues for food, and move into permanent housing.

Soylu said the government plans to set up 115,585 containers for as many families in 239 sites across the affected region. He said 23 sites had been established so far and 21,000 containers were set up, with 85,000 people living in them.

He said 433,536 tents had been set up since the earthquake in 354 sites, adding that businesses would be given new temporary workplaces in the next 10 days.

During a visit on Sunday to Hatay, one of the worst-hit regions, Erdogan said Qatar had pledged to send 10,000 containers, which were used during the soccer World Cup at the end of last year.

Soylu said of the 36,257 buildings that collapsed, the rubble of 5,321 had been cleared, while 6,000 of 18,219 buildings slated for immediate demolition had been knocked down and the resulting rubble cleared.

Source: Al Arabiya

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https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/13/Turkey-s-earthquake-toll-tops-48-000-as-government-races-to-build-container-cities

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Houthis refuse to trade four abducted journalists with Yemen’s government

SAEED AL-BATATI

March 13, 2023

AL-MUKALLA: During prisoner exchange talks in Switzerland, Iran-backed Houthi delegates refused to consider the release of four journalists in their captivity who face the death penalty and refused to include their names in the expected swap deal with the government, two Yemeni officials told Arab News on Monday.

Relatives of the journalists have asked Yemeni government negotiators to continue to press for their release. 

The Yemeni government and the Houthis started discussing prisoner exchanges on Saturday and are scheduled to continue for 11 days.

Over the two last days, the two parties exchanged the names of hundreds of captives, forcibly disappeared individuals, and others, including politicians, fighters, and military leaders. During the discussions, the Houthis rebuffed the Yemeni government’s proposal to include the four journalists in the upcoming prisoner swap.

Muammar Al-Eryani, Yemen’s minister of information, condemned the Houthis’ resistance to pleas for the release of the journalists, who are being subjected to physical and psychological torture, and called for further pressure on the Houthis to free them.

Majed Fadail, Yemen’s deputy human rights minister and government delegation member, said there have been no advances in discussions regarding a prisoner exchange.

Tawfiq Al-Mansouri, Akram Al-Walidy, Abdul Khaleq Omaran, and Harith Hamid were among nine journalists kidnapped by the Houthis from a hotel in Sanaa in 2015. In October 2020, the Houthis freed five journalists in what was the last major prisoner exchange.

The remaining four were taken on trial by the Houthis, who then condemned them to death for spying, torturing them, denying them access to medicine, and preventing them from getting in touch with their relatives.

Nabil Al-Osaidi, a prominent member of the Yemeni Journalists’ Syndicate, told Arab News: “The Houthis refuse to consider the subject of journalists in any exchange of detainees in order to use them as leverage to get the release of top Houthi officials.”

Families of the four journalists demanded that the Yemeni government, the UN Yemen Envoy Hans Grundberg, who is sponsoring the talks, and rights groups exert pressure on the Houthis until their release is confirmed.

“The journalists’ file should not be open to such blackmail and haggling, and they should be freed right away,” Abdullah Al-Mansouri, brother of abducted journalist Tawfiq Al-Mansouri, told Arab News.

Abdullah expressed hope that the discussions would result in the freedom of his brother and the other journalists. “We’re waiting and hoping they’ll be released. We’re waiting for them, counting down the minutes and seconds till my brother Tawfiq and his colleagues arrive.”

Separately, the Houthis have frozen Yemenia Airlines’ accounts in banks under their control, accusing the firm of neglecting to run additional flights from Sanaa to Cairo and Mumbai.

Yemen’s information minister warned that Houthi actions against the company will result in the suspension of employee salaries, other operational activities, and flights from Sanaa airport.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2267891/middle-east

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Iran says supports UN efforts to restore peace in war-wracked Yemen

14 March 2023

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian says the Islamic Republic supports intra-Yemeni talks to find a political solution to the crisis in the war-wracked Arab country.

In a meeting with United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg in Tehran on Monday, Amir-Abdollahian reaffirmed Tehran’s support for the continuation of the ceasefire and the end of the Saudi-led blockade on Yemen.

He emphasized that Iran supports any dialogue which would help promote peace and stability in Yemen.

The top Iranian diplomat also commended efforts by the UN secretary general and his appointment of a special envoy in order to follow up on the situation in Yemen.

The UN special envoy, for his part, called for Iran’s support for the world body’s efforts to promote peace in Yemen.

Grundberg expressed the UN’s firm determination to find a political solution to the ongoing crisis in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia and its allies launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 with armed and logistical support from their Western partners, leaving hundreds of thousands of Yemenis dead.

The war also displaced millions of people, rendering them homeless, while destroying the country’s infrastructure and spawning the contemporary age’s worst humanitarian catastrophe.

The most recent truce, which began in April 2022, had rekindled hopes of peace, but the Saudi-led coalition breached the terms of the ceasefire agreement, prompting Yemenis to continue resistance.

Source: Press TV

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https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/03/14/699838/Iran-backs-intra-Yemeni-dialogue-solve-political-crisis-FM

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North America

 

U.S. arms left in Afghanistan surface in Pakistan Taliban insurgency

ZIA UR REHMAN

March 12, 2023

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- Modern weapons and sophisticated night vision devices left behind by U.S.-led coalition forces withdrawing from Afghanistan and fleeing Afghan troops are being used by Pakistani Taliban militants to intensify attacks on law enforcement, police and experts say.

Source: Asia Nikkei

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https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Terrorism/U.S.-arms-left-in-Afghanistan-surface-in-Pakistan-Taliban-insurgency

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US rejects notion it is disengaged from Middle East after Saudi-Iran deal

14 March ,2023

The State Department has said that its role in the Middle East remains strong and Washington remains “deeply engaged” in the region despite the recent China-backed deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran to normalize ties.

After a surprise announcement last week about the agreement, the Biden administration was heavily criticized for what was seen as a lack of interest in the Middle East and for allowing Beijing to pounce on the opportunity to make an unprecedented diplomatic gain in the region.

Over the next two months, the top Saudi and Iranian diplomats are expected to meet before both countries reopen their embassies in their respective capitals.

Asked if the deal sidelines the US from the region, the State Department said Monday that it supported “anything that would serve to de-escalate tensions in the region and potentially help to prevent conflict.”

Outgoing State Department Spokesman Ned Price said America is “deeply engaged with the Middle East.”

He added: “We have a long way to go, but everything we’ve done over the past couple years points to what we’re trying to achieve.”

But Price played down the notion that the Saudi-Iranian agreement was about China. “When it comes to our role in the region – and whether, as I’ve read, our role may be being supplanted, some allege – I have a difficult time wrapping my head around our role could be supplanted when no country on Earth has done more to help build a more stable, a more integrated region.”

Reports in US media have suggested that Riyadh was pressing the US for concessions, including helping Saudi Arabia’s civilian nuclear program, as part of normalizing ties with Israel. The Saudi government has not commented on these reports, while the Israelis have made no secret of their hope to normalize with Saudi Arabia.

While the US supports normalization between Israel and its Muslim and Arab neighbors, Price did not comment on the details of any potential talks.

Source: Al Arabiya

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https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/03/14/US-rejects-notion-it-is-disengaged-from-Middle-East-after-Saudi-Iran-deal

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US urges Turkey to allow NATO expansion as officials set to meet

14 March ,2023

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan urged Turkey to ratify membership of Sweden and Finland into NATO, speaking ahead of talks with his Turkish counterpart in Washington on Tuesday.

Officials from Turkey, Sweden and Finland have been trying to break an impasse that has held up the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s expansion since the two Nordic countries were invited to join in June. Turkey is putting pressure on Sweden to crack down on groups Ankara considers as terrorist in order to allow the ascension.

“I believe there is no reason it can’t be secured by the summit this summer for both Finland and for Sweden,” Sullivan told reporters ahead of talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s special adviser and spokesman Ibrahim Kalin.

The two men “will have the chance to talk about this issue as well as 127 other issues that are relevant to the US-Turkey relationship,” Sullivan said.

Turkey has linked Sweden’s new anti-terrorism law to the ratification and also voiced opposition to the July deadline set by its allies for enlargement completion.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2023/03/14/US-urges-Turkey-to-allow-NATO-expansion-as-officials-set-to-meet

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US private sector raises over $110M to aid Türkiye: Chamber of Commerce

Rabia İclal Turan

14.03.2023

WASHINGTON

The US private sector raised more than $110 million to assist Türkiye following the devastating earthquakes, the US Chamber of Commerce said Monday as the US-Türkiye Business Forum convened in the US capital.

As the business people, diplomats and representatives from both Türkiye and the US gathered for the forum in Washington DC, a minute of silence was held by the participants to honor the victims of the Feb. 6 earthquakes.

In his opening remarks, Khush Choksy, the US Chamber of Commerce’s senior vice president for Middle East and Türkiye Affairs, said nearly 200 companies collectively contributed over $110 million to the initial phase of recovery efforts.

Recalling the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s meeting last week with the Chamber to talk about the support for the people of Türkiye after the devastating earthquakes, Choksy said that this is a “critical time” to build the US-Türkiye business relationship.

Rifat Hisarciklioglu, President of Union on Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Türkiye, for his part, said that the earthquake-hit region is among the “economically significant regions of Türkiye,” especially in terms of industry and agriculture sectors.

Adding that thousands of search and rescue teams from 90 countries came to help of Türkiye, he said: “We are also thankful for the solidarity of the US Chamber of Commerce, US Business, US Government and the international community.” 

'Next phase is rebuilding cities'

Turkish Trade Minister Mehmet Mus also addressed the forum, saying Türkiye “mobilized all the resources and means of the state for the immediate relief and recovery.”

“From now on, our priority is to make necessary preparations and build safe residential areas with their pre-quake infrastructure, roads, hospitals, schools, houses and workplaces, so on,” he added.

He said that Türkiye's bigger industrial facilities and the region’s small and medium sized enterprises have been affected by the earthquakes.

"We are undertaking a comprehensive screening to identify the full impact of the disaster on such enterprises," he said.

"We are committed to recover our losses at the shortest possible time and will bring our people to their daily life," he said, adding that the next phase will be "re-building our cities".

"In this vein, financing is as important as having the technical capacity," he added.

Türkiye’s Ambassador in Washington DC, Hasan Murat Mercan, said the “genuine solidarity” extended by the international community in the aftermath of the major earthquakes “gives us strength”.

He also thanked the US government and the private sector for their support, adding: “We are grateful”.

“All Turkish missions in the US are receiving donations of disaster relief items,” he said, while also recalling the financial donations campaigns the diplomatic missions launched quickly after the earthquakes.

He said thousands of aid materials were collected throughout the US and were shipped to Türkiye by Turkish Airlines.

US Ambassador to Türkiye Jeff Flake recalled some powerful images from the major earthquakes hitting the southern provinces of Türkiye.

Noting that the US search and rescue teams participated in the relief efforts in Türkiye, he said they also built a military hospital in Hatay province, which was constructed in five days, and was handed over to the Turkish Ministry of Health.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-private-sector-raises-over-110m-to-aid-turkiye-chamber-of-commerce/2844780

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Iran says it is 'ready' for prisoner swap with US

Syed Zafar Mehdi

13.03.2023

Iran on Monday said that discussion about the exchange of prisoners and other issues with the US is underway, stressing that Tehran is looking for “practical results” from ongoing negotiations.

Speaking at a weekly news conference in Tehran, Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said talks are going on between the two sides through intermediaries on issues including a prisoner swap.

He said an agreement on some issues, including prisoners, was reached in March last year and a written agreement was approved and signed by official representatives of the two countries.

Underlining that the issue is of a "humanitarian nature," Kanaani said the American side at one point agreed to de-link it from the 2015 nuclear deal talks but at a later stage tied it to the Vienna negotiations.

“If the American side takes a realistic approach, the exchange of prisoners can be done as a completely humanitarian issue,” the spokesman remarked.

His remarks came a day after Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, in an interview with state TV, announced that Iran has reached an agreement with the US to swap prisoners.

"Regarding the issue of the exchange of prisoners between Iran and the US, we have reached an agreement in recent days,” he said, adding that “if everything goes well” on the American side, the swap will happen “in a short period.”

‘Everything is ready’

Amir-Abdollahian said that “everything is ready” on the Iranian side but the American side is currently engaged in a “final technical review” to go ahead with the swap of prisoners.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price, however, rejected the claim, calling it a “crude lie.”

“Statements from Iranian officials that a deal regarding the exchange of prisoners has been reached are another especially cruel lie that only adds to the suffering of their families,” he told CNN on Sunday.

Kanaani, responding to Price, said a US State spokesman recently mentioned in his meeting that the US government is “working, trying and following” up on this case of prisoners.

“My question from the American side is: Is he working and trying and following up on this issue in a vacuum and unilaterally by himself? Or through intermediaries in the framework of the messages that are exchanged,” he said.

The Joe Biden administration has repeatedly called for the release of three dual nationals detained in Iran over spying charges – Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi and Morad Tahbaz.

Iran, for its part, has also demanded the release of dozens of its nationals imprisoned in the US, including some Iranian-American dual nationals, mainly for bypassing US sanctions.

Iran-Saudi detente

In other remarks during his Monday presser, Kanaani said there is no obstacle to the meeting of foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia after the two neighbors resumed diplomatic ties.

Kanaani said the foreign ministers of the two countries are expected to meet in near future, adding that arrangements have been made about the place and timing by the diplomatic apparatuses.

The Tehran-Riyadh agreement, brokered by China last week, was the result of one and a half years of efforts and negotiations, the spokesman asserted, appreciating the “positive role” played by Iraq and Oman to facilitate tension-easing talks.

Before President Ebrahim Raisi’s visit to China in February, Kanaani said, ideas and suggestions had been shared by Tehran and Riyadh and during the visit, Chinese President Xi Jinping conveyed the message from the Saudi side to the Iranian president.

After that, he added, it was agreed to hold a dialogue between the two countries at the level of top security officials, which resulted in an agreement to resume diplomatic ties and reopen embassies, which he said will happen in two months.

Iran was represented in the talks by Ali Shamkhani, who heads the country’s Supreme National Security Council, while Saudi Arabia was represented by Musaid Al Aiban, the national security advisor, and China was represented by top diplomat Wang Yi.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman also hinted at fence-mending dialogue with Bahrain in the framework of the Tehran-Riyadh agreement, stressing that recent development can have “positive consequences in relations of Iran and other regional countries.”

“The relations between Iran and Bahrain are no exception to this rule,” Kanaani said.

He also expressed hope that the resumption of diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia, seven years after they severed relations, will have a positive effect on the issue of Yemen too.

“From the beginning of the war (in Yemen), we believed that war is not a solution and it will be a loss for Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the whole region,” the spokesman said.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/iran-says-it-is-ready-for-prisoner-swap-with-us/2844336

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Pakistan

 

Pakistan government makes public the record of Toshakhana gifts

Mar 14, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan’s government has made public the record of gifts retained by important public office holders — presidents, prime ministers, federal ministers, politicians, bureaucrats, retired generals, judges and journalists — from foreign dignitaries in the past 21 years.

The 466-page record of Toshakhana (state depository) was uploaded on the website of the government’s cabinet division on Sunday in compliance with a Lahore high court order, which came on a plea filed last year after the disqualification of former PM Imran Khan by the election commission in connection with the Toshakhana reference.

While the government has already submitted the list of gifts from 2002 till 2022, the high court directed the authorities on Monday to furnish the entire record of gifts received since 1947.

Prominent people who retained the Toshakhana gifts by paying a small amount, in a bid to meet the legal formality, included President Dr Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, former prime ministers Imran Khan, Nawaz Sharif, Shaukat Aziz, Yusuf Raza Gilani, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Zafarullah Khan Jamali, ex-president Asif Ali Zardari, late military dictator Pervez Musharraf, Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, finance minister Ishaq Dar, foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, former minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and ex-foreign ministers Khursheed Kasuri and Shah Mehmood Qureshi, among others.

Imran retained wristwatches, cufflinks, pens and rings worth millions of rupees during his term as prime minister. His wife, Bushra Bibi had also kept jewellery.

Asif Ali Zardari retained two BMW cars with an assessed value of Rs57.8 million and Rs28.7 million, and a Toyota Lexus costing Rs 50 million, apart from precious watches and other items, after depositing a total of Rs16.1 million.

Nawaz Sharif was gifted a Mercedes Benz car worth Rs4.25 million on April 20, 2008, which he retained after paying Rs0.636 million, as per the document, which did not mention in what capacity the PML-N chief had received the vehicle.

The gifts that Sharif and his wife Kulsoom Nawaz retained after he became PM for the third time in 2013 included expensive watches and jewellery.

President Alvi’s wife, Samina Alvi, retained a necklace worth Rs1.19m in October 2019 after paying Rs865,000 for it and other items in the jewellery box. The president himself retained a Rolex wristwatch worth Rs2.5m in February 2022 after paying nearly half its value, Rs1.2m.

Kasuri had received several gifts in 2005 and retained these items free of cost.

Raja Pervaiz Ashraf retained a Graff wristwatch worth Rs890,000 in November 2012 after paying a sum of Rs218,000 for it and other items. Sheikh Rashid had retained dozens of gifts after paying a meagre Rs3,420.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-government-makes-public-the-record-of-toshakhana-gifts/articleshow/98615175.cms

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Study shows judges fasting for Ramadan are more lenient

MARCH 14, 2023

According to a study released on Monday, Muslim judges are more likely to render lenient judgments while fasting during Ramadan, in contrast to earlier research that suggested judges who have not eaten render harsher judgments.

According to a 2011 study known as “the hungry judge effect,” judges in Israel were more likely to deny criminals parole before lunch than after.

The lead researcher on the new study, Sultan Mehmood of Russia’s New Economic School, told AFP that he was interested in observing whether the same result transpired during the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims typically fast from dawn to dusk.

Mehmood and two other economists combed through an enormous amount of data on criminal sentencing—roughly half a million cases and 10,000 judges—covering a 50-year period in Pakistan and India, two of the three nations with the largest Muslim populations.

Mehmood claimed that they had been “surprised” to discover the opposite of the hungry judge effect.

According to the study published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, there was no such increase for non-Muslim judges during Ramadan, but there was a “sharp and statistically significant” increase in acquittals from Muslim judges.

Mehmood claimed that Muslim judges in both countries acquitted defendants 40% more frequently during Ramadan than they did at other times of the year.

And the longer the judges went without food and water, the more lenient they became.

They were 10% more likely to acquit with each additional hour of fasting, the study said.

‘The idea of clemency’

The researchers also tried to quantify whether the more lenient decisions were better or worse than those made outside of Ramadan.

They found that the defendants on the receiving end of the lenient decisions were no more likely to commit another crime.

The rate of recidivism was generally slightly lower – including for defendants of violent crimes such as armed robbery and murder.

The lenient judgments were also less likely to be appealed, the study said.

“The probability that the initial verdict was overturned was also lower,” said Avner Seror, a study co-author and economist at France’s Aix-Marseille University.

Seror said that Ramadan was “well-suited to statistical analysis” because it offers numerous avenues for comparison, from being held on different dates every year to the duration of fasting differing depending on when the sun rises and sets.

He proposed that “the idea of clemency inherent in the Muslim ritual, a little like the spirit of Christmas among Christians” may be related to the change in the judge’s decision-making.

He continued, “But it goes further because it seems to assist the judges in reaching the appropriate conclusion.

The researchers hypothesized that because previous studies have shown that intermittent fasting can enhance mood, cognition, and memory, judges may be able to make wiser decisions.

Mehmood claimed that when he conducted research on Pakistani judges, they all concurred that “we are too lenient” during Ramadan.

Source: Daily Times

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/1072703/study-shows-judges-fasting-for-ramadan-are-more-lenient/

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Several political activists join JUI-F in Bannu

March 14, 2023

LAKKI MARWAT: Several political activists affiliated with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Awami National Party joined Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl in Bannu on Monday.

The announcements were made at a public meeting held in Sparka Wazir area, also attended by former provincial minister Sher Azam Wazir and other leaders of JUI-F.

Malik Zahoor Khan and Nafid Khan along with their families and supporters announced their decision to join JUI-F.

Azam Wazir, who along with his son, former MPA Fakhar Azam Wazir, had recently joined JUI-F, on the occasion alleged former prime minister Imran Khan was using women and youth as a shield to escape arrest.

Declaring Khan as the most incompetent ruler in the history of Pakistan, he said the PTI chief, who used to call his opponents as thieves, had now been proved a certified thief.

“Imran Khan should not dream about becoming the prime minister again as his four-year tenure has brought the country to the verge of a disaster,” he maintained.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1742018/several-political-activists-join-jui-f-in-bannu

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Islamabad court suspends Imran’s arrest warrants to March 16 in judge threats case

Umer Burney

March 14, 2023

An Islamabad district and sessions court suspended on Tuesday non-bailable arrest warrants issued for PTI chairman Imran Khan in a case pertaining to threats issued to a judge.

On Monday, Senior Civil Judge Rana Mujahid Rahim issued arrest warrants for Imran while hearing a case registered against the ex-premier for using threatening language against Additional District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry and the Islamabad police officials.

In yesterday’s hearing, Imran’s counsel had said that the former prime minister was ready to join the proceedings through video link. However, Judge Rahim rejected the plea and instructed the police to produce Imran in court by March 29.

Subsequently, the PTI challenged the warrants in the district court, which was taken up by the court of ADSJ Faizan Haider Gilani.

In its written order today, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the court said that Imran’s counsel contended that “due to security threat to the life of petitioner, the petitioner could not appear before the learned trial court”.

“In this regard, the security provided by the government has also been withdrawn. Learned counsel for the petitioner sought an adjournment to place on record the letter of the Government of Punjab, whereby, the security provided to the petitioner (former prime minister) was withdrawn,” the court noted.

It said the petitioner’s counsel sought an adjournment to place on record the letter of the Punjab government, whereby, the security provided to Imran was withdrawn. “Let the needful be done,” the ruling said.

It said that the arguments raised by Imran’s petition needed consideration.

“Now to come up for arguments on 16.03.2023. In the meanwhile, operation of the impugned order is hereby suspended till the next date,” the order added.

The hearing

In today’s hearing, lawyers Naeem Panjotha and Intizar Panjotha appeared in court.

As the proceedings commenced, Intizar stated that all the sections invoked against the PTI chief were bailable to which the judge asked if non-bailable arrest warrants had been issued for Imran earlier as well.

Before this, arrest warrants have not been issued in the case related to threatening the woman judge, the lawyer replied.

The court then directed Imran’s counsel to attach the documents submitted along with the petition. “I have been reading these [documents] for the past 15 minutes but I can’t understand what they say,” ADSJ Gilani said.

At one point during the hearing, Intizar contended that Imran was the ex-premier of the country and it was the government’s responsibility to provide him adequate security. “But instead, they have withdrawn his security.”

Here, the judge asked if PTI had a letter which proved that Imran’s security had been withdrawn.

“I can provide it to you by tomorrow,” the lawyer replied.

For his part, the government’s lawyer revealed that [arrest] warrants for Imran were also issued in the Toshakhana case. A sessions court had directed the police on Monday to arrest the PTI chief in the case and present him in court by March 18.

Meanwhile, the judge remarked that the ex-premier was leading an election rally in Lahore to which Imran’s lawyer stated that the PTI chairman had appeared in the judicial complex last month.

“But he never came to the katcheri (sessions court),” ADSJ Gilani pointed out. “The katcheri was attacked in 2014 but did we shift it anywhere else? Even during Imran’s tenure, the katcheri wasn’t moved.

“The party’s name is Tehreek-i-Insaf but what has it done? Tell me at least one legal reform that the PTI introduced,” the judge asked, stressing that hearings could be conducted via video link but “you are not focused on legal reforms”.

The court also asked if terrorism charges had been removed from the case to which the lawyer replied in affirmative.

Subsequently, ADSJ Gilani asked Imran’s counsel to submit security documents in court and suspended the arrest warrants till March 16. He also issued notices to the respondents in the case.

The case

The PTI chairman had on August 20 condemned the police as well as the judiciary over the alleged custodial torture of Shahbaz Gill and announced that his party would file cases against Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dr Akbar Nasir Khan, the DIG and Additional District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry.

Initially, Imran was booked under various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). Besides, Islamabad High Court (IHC) also initiated contempt of court proceedings against him.

Later, the IHC removed the terrorism charges against Imran and also pardoned him after he tendered an apology in the contempt case.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1742134/islamabad-court-suspends-imrans-arrest-warrants-to-march-16-in-judge-threats-case

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Move in Senate against PM’s powers to retain retiring army chiefs

Iftikhar A. Khan

March 14, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Seeking to take away prime minister’s powers to retain retiring services chiefs and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, three separate bills — the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill, Pakistan Air Force (Amendment) Bill, and the Pakistan Navy (Amendment) Bill — were submitted to the senate secretariat on Monday.

An outspoken Jamaat-i-Islami senator Mushtaq Ahmad separately submitted notices in the office of senate secretary seeking to move amendments to the existing laws.

In January 2020, following unprecedented hitches to the proposed extension in the term of the then army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, the parliament had approved three bills that set a higher retirement age for the chiefs of the armed forces, allowing the prime minister to extend their terms at his discretion.

The Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill seeks to amend the Pakistan Army Act, 1952 by omitting Sections 8B and 8E in the law. Similarly, the Pakistan Air Force (Amendment) Bill and Pakistan Navy (Amendment) Bill seek to amend the Pakistan Air Force Act, 1953 and Pakistan Navy Ordinance 1961 respectively by omitting different sections in these laws.

Three bills seeking amendments to legislation submitted to Senate

The statement of objects and reasons of the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill says that in the year 2020, the Pakistan Army Act was amended and provisions were inserted for extension in services of army chief and chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. “Keeping in view the meritorious appointment and promotion of young bold within the Pakistan Army leadership, the provisions related to the extension of these two offices are proposed for omission,” it added.

The statement of objects also underlines the role of Pakistan Army for giving services and sacrifices for the sake of safety and security of the country since its inception. “There is no denying the fact that the Pakistan Army has made us feel secure within the borders and tried their level best to combat existential threats, both conventional and non-conventional.”

The statement of objects and reasons of the other two bills also say that Pakistan Air Force Act and Pakistan Navy Ordinance were amended in 2020 for the re-appointment or extension in services of both air and naval chiefs. “Keeping in view the meritorious appointment and promotion of young blood within the Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy leadership, the provisions related to the extension and re-appointment of these two offices are proposed for emission, both the bills says.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1742073/move-in-senate-against-pms-powers-to-retain-retiring-army-chiefs

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Two policemen martyred in attacks on census teams in KP

Irfan Mughal | Ghulam Mursalin Marwat

March 14, 2023

DERA ISMAIL KHAN / LAKKI MARWAT: Two pol­i­cemen embraced martyrdom and four others sustained injuries in militant attacks on census teams in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s sou­thern districts of Tank and Lakki Marwat while a militant was shot dead in a security forces operation in Dera Ismail Khan district on Monday.

A police van came under attack in the Kot-Azam area of Tank district while it was returning from a village, ac­c­ording to a spokesperson for district police. “Militants opened fire on the police van when it was returning from Manjhi village [after duty hours]. As a result, one poli­ceman embraced martyrdom and four others sustai­ned injuries,” said police spo­kesman Syed Yaqoob Buk­hari, adding that the att­ackers fled after shooting.

The injured personnel were rushed to Tank district headquarters hospital from where they were referred to Dera Ismail Khan due to unavailability of required facilities, he said, add­ing that law enforcement agenc­ies’ personnel reached the site and launched a search ope­ration against the militants.

The martyred policeman was identified as Khan Nawab, a recruit of Kohat pol­­ice training centre, belo­n­ging to district Swat. Fune­ral prayer for the martyred policeman was later offered at the District Police Office which was attended by officers of law enforcement agencies, police and others.

Same day in another militant attack on a census team, a Frontier Reserve Police (FRP) police constable was martyred in Pirwala area of the Lakki Marwat district.

Escorting the government staff on census duty in the rural area, FRP constable Diljan was seriously wounded when two armed miscreants opened fire on him and escaped, the police said.

Shortly after the shooting, a police contingent, headed by DPO Mohammad Ishfaq Khan, reached the scene and launched a search operation in the area. A rescue 1122 team also rushed to the site and shifted the body to Government City Hospital. The martyred cop’s funeral was held at the District Headquarters Complex in Tajazai.

TTP suspect killed

A member of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) wanted to security agencies in more than a dozen cases of murder and militant activities was gunned down in a joint operation in Dera Ismail Khan, police said.

The D.I. Khan police said Abdul Rasheed alias Rashidi was killed in a joint intelligence-based operation carried out by police and security forces in Rohri area of Tehsil Kulachi on Monday.

However, according to a statement issued by the ISPR, terrorists opened fire on a police party employed on census security duty in general area of Raghzai in Tank district. “Resultantly, one policeman, having fought gallantly, embraced shahadat. On receipt of the information, security forces immediately cordoned the area, blocking all possible escape routes. Fleeing terrorists were intercepted in general area Gara Guldad, Tehsil Kulachi, Dera Ismail Khan District. After intense exchange of fire, terrorist commander Abdul Rasheed alias Rasheedi, was killed,” the ISPR said.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1742095/two-policemen-martyred-in-attacks-on-census-teams-in-kp

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Security forces gun down terrorist involved in attack on census team in Tank

March 13, 2023

RAWALPINDI: Security forces on Monday killed a terrorist involved in attack on census team in Tank district.

“On 13 March 2023, terrorists opened fire on Police party employed on Census security duty in general area Raghzai, Tank District. Resultantly, one policeman, having fought gallantly, embraced shahadat,” said ISPR.

“On receipt of the information, security forces immediately cordoned the area, blocking all possible escape routes. Fleeing terrorists were intercepted in general area Gara Guldad, Tehsil Kulachi, Dera Ismail Khan District. After intense exchange of fire, terrorist commander Abdul Rasheed alias Rasheedi, was killed,” said the statement.

The killed terrorist was wanted by police being involved in numerous terrorist activities against Security Forces as well as killing of innocent civilians. Weapons and ammunition were also recovered from the killed terrorist.

Source: Pakistan Today

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2023/03/13/security-forces-gun-down-terrorist-involved-in-attack-on-census-team-in-tank/

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Africa

 

Third Japan-Jordan foreign ministers’ strategic dialogue held in Tokyo

March 13, 2023

TOKYO: Japan and Jordan held their third foreign ministers’ strategic dialogue in Tokyo on March 13.

The two ministers agreed to develop their ties further on a wide range of bilateral, regional and East Asian issues, including security, economy, financial aid to Jordan and supporting refugees.

Hayashi Yoshimasa, Japan’s foreign minister, attended the meeting with Ayman Al-Safadi, Jordan’s deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs and expatriates of Jordan, who is visiting Japan.

The meeting lasted approximately 105 minutes, according to the foreign ministry in Tokyo.

In the talks, Minister Hayashi referred to the steadily growing bilateral relations in various areas based on the strategic partnership and expressed his hope to develop it further, according to the ministry.

In response, Minister Safadi stated that the Japan-Jordan friendly relations have been developing steadily, and he looks forward to further deepening the cooperative relationship.

The two ministers concurred on further strengthening the relationship in various areas, including security, exchanging high-level visits, and economic cooperation.

Minister Safadi gave an overview of Jordan’s economy and the government’s efforts toward its modernization. Hayashi explained Japan’s support in the power and water sectors, among other areas, and the initiatives to assist Jordan’s efforts. The two ministers shared the importance of Jordan’s economic and financial reforms.

Assistance for refugees was also discussed at the meeting, according to the foreign ministry. Minister Hayashi, referring to the fact that Jordan is hosting a large number of refugees as well as the related severe environment, especially due to the recent surge in fuel prices, explained that Japan had provided a total of approximately US$10.44 million from the FY2022 supplementary budget for Jordan through international organizations such as UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) and UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), and stated that Japan would continue to support Jordan’s efforts.

Minister Safadi stated that Jordan highly values and appreciates Japan’s continued support. He emphasized that the international community needs to continue supporting refugees and host countries.

On the security issues, the two ministers welcomed the further enhancement of defense and security cooperation, including the first Noncombatant Evacuation Operation training of the Japan Self-Defense Forces held in Jordan last December, and confirmed to continue the collaboration.

In addition, the two ministers concurred on deepening cooperation in areas such as building secure and reliable 5G networks, improving cybersecurity capabilities, and combatting terrorism, including through the Aqaba Process.

The two ministers welcomed the deepening of academic exchanges, such as programs on studying abroad in the two countries based on cooperation between Japanese and Jordanian universities, and concurred on accelerating preparations in the lead-up to the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2024.

The situation in the Middle East received attention in the talks when Minister Hayashi expressed his deep concerns over rising political tensions between Israel and Palestine and the current serious security situation and commended Jordan’s calls on relevant parties for easing tensions, including the five-party meeting hosted by Jordan in February.

Minister Hayashi affirmed the important role of the Hashemite Custodianship over the holy sites in Jerusalem and stated that Japan would play its role by carrying out its efforts, such as the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” initiative.

The two ministers concurred on close coordination to build trust between the parties.

In this regard, Minister Safadi briefed on Jordan’s efforts to prevent further deterioration in the Palestinian territories as well as to find political horizons for restarting serious negotiations to achieve just and lasting peace based on the two-state solution and stated that Jordan highly appreciates the efforts Japan has made and will continue to work closely with Japan.

The foreign ministry said the two ministers also exchanged views regarding the situation in the Middle East, such as Iraq and Syria, but didn’t disclose the details.

The statement said the two ministers discussed how to respond to Russia’s “aggression” against Ukraine and shared that the international community must unite in urging that unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force are unacceptable anywhere in the world. Minister Hayashi further stated that Japan, the only country to have ever suffered atomic bombings during wartime, cannot accept Russia’s nuclear threats, let alone its use under any circumstances.

Minister Safadi stressed the need to end the war, reiterating Jordan’s position that the international law, the UN charter and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations, including Ukraine, must be respected.

The two ministers also exchanged views regarding the situation in East Asia, including China and North Korea, and according to the foreign ministry, Minister Safadi expressed support for Japan in its efforts to address North Korea, including on the abductions issue.

Minister Hayashi explained a new “National Security Strategy (NSS)” formulated last December, which Minister Safadi welcomed. Furthermore, Minister Hayashi explained the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP).

The two ministers agreed on the importance of a free and open international order based on the rule of law and concurred on working together to promote FOIP.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2268036/middle-east

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New Tunisian parliament begins its first session

13 March ,2023

Tunisia’s new parliament, elected in December and January in a vote with a turnout of 11 percent, sat for the first time on Monday in a session closed to all but state media and with the opposition coalition saying it would not recognize its legitimacy.

Journalists were not allowed to attend the opening session of parliament for the first time since the 2011 revolution. Officials told reporters on Monday that only state TV and radio and the state news agency were allowed to cover the event.

President Kais Saied shut down the previous elected parliament in July 2021, moving to rule by decree in a move that opposition parties called a coup. He has said his actions were legal and needed to save Tunisia from years of crisis.

The new parliament, operating under a constitution that Saied wrote last year and which was passed in a referendum with a turnout of 30 percent, will have very little power compared with the body it replaces.

As most parties boycotted the election, and candidates were listed on ballot papers without party affiliation, most of the new parliament members are political independents.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/north-africa/2023/03/13/New-Tunisian-parliament-begins-its-first-session

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Japan contributes $1m in support of WFP’s food assistance to Syrian refugees in Jordan

March 14, 2023

DUBAI: The Government of Japan contributed 147 million yen (about US$1.1 million) to the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) in Jordan to provide nutrition-sensitive food assistance to more than 27,000 Syrian refugees living in camps and host communities for one month.

The Ambassador of Japan to Jordan, OKUYAMA Jiro, announced the contribution during a joint field visit to a Syrian beneficiary family receiving WFP’s monthly food assistance in Jordan’s capital Amman.

“WFP is grateful for the continued support of the people and Government of Japan. With overlapping crises and natural disasters around the world making communities more vulnerable, Japan’s new contribution ensures that some of the most vulnerable refugees living in Jordan do not fall deeper into food insecurity,” said WFP Representative and Country Director, Alberto Correia Mendes.

“Amid increasing global food price, the Government of Japan acknowledges the alarming levels of food insecurity and the heightened vulnerability of refugees in Jordan. We hope our assistance, in collaboration with WFP, will support the food security and nutrition of vulnerable populations, particularly female-headed households and families with persons of disabilities,” Ambassador Okuyama said.

465,000 refugees in Jordan are currently receiving monthly cash-based assistance from WFP to help meet their basic food needs. Refugees residing in communities receive 2,800 yen (about US$21) per person per month, while extremely vulnerable families living in camps and local communities, receive 4,300 yen (about US$32) per person per month.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2268221/middle-east

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Jordan’s northern town of Umm Qais receives Best Tourism Villages award at AlUla

March 13, 2023

ALULA: Jordan’s northern town of Umm Qais was honored at the UN World Tourism Organization’s Best Tourism Villages awards ceremony in AlUla on Sunday.

The BTV initiative is the flagship project of the UNWTO’s Tourism for Rural Development Program, which aims at reducing regional income and development disparities, and combating depopulation, as well as advancing gender equality, innovation, digitalization, and women’s and youth empowerment through tourism.

The 135 locations recognized by the awards — which included AlUla Old Town — were announced in December as part of the BTV initiative, which recognizes villages that are “an outstanding example of a rural tourism destination, with accredited cultural and natural assets, that preserve and promote rural and community-based values, products, and lifestyle, and have a clear commitment to innovation and sustainability in all its aspects — economic, social, and environmental.”

The event was attended by leaders from the tourism sector and ministers from  nominated countries, the Jordan News Agency reported.

Imad Hijazin, secretary-general of Jordan’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, said: “Putting the village of Umm Qais on the list will bolster the kingdom’s status on the global tourism map.

“This achievement comes within the ministry’s vision, and is in compliance with its tourism development plan through the Jordan National Tourism Strategy 2021-2025.”

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2267991/middle-east

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