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Bihar Ram Navmi Clashes: British-Era 113-Year-Old Madrasa Library Reduced 4,500 Books To Ashes, Some Of Them Handwritten On Islamic Culture, Religion And Literature

New Age Islam News Bureau

08 April 2023


The library of 113-year-old Madrasa Azizia after the March 31 communal violence in Bihar Sharif. (Express Photo)


• Uttarakhand To Demolish "Illegal" Mazars: "Won't Let Land Jihad Prosper", Says  Uttarakhand CM

• US Weapons Left in Afghanistan Being Used by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Baloch Separatist Groups In Pakistan: Report

• London Protest Demand Israel End Attacks On Al-Aqsa Mosque In The Occupied East Jerusalem

• Ties Between US, Saudi Arabia Improving Despite Recent China-Backed Deal With Iran


• Fashion Street Ganapati Mandal Mumbai Organises Iftar For 300 Muslim Workers

• Kishanganj Muslim Family Donates Land For Temple

• Muslim Man Held For ‘Inciting Youth’ Against Raja Singh’s Rally In Maha

• "They Can't Touch It": B Bommai On Congress's Promise For Muslim Quota

• Saudi Ministry Hosts Iftar Table At Headquarters Of Major Islamic Group In India

• Aligarh Muslim University teacher completes US exchange programme



• Pakistan To Launch New Military Operation Against Islamist Militants, Says National Security Committee

• Founder Of Banned Baloch Group, Gulzar Imam, Arrested In ‘Carefully Planned’ Intelligence Operation: ISPR

• Pakistan's capital city notifies rules for Hindu Marriage Act after much delay

• India's letter on review of Indus Water Treaty is 'vague', says Pakistan minister

• 'Pakistan minister cancels trip to IMF, World Bank meetings in US'

• PPP calls for holding talks with PTI as PML-N, JUI-F oppose move

• Judges must not be seen as ‘politicians in robes’, says Justice Minallah



• French Top Diplomat In Rare Meeting With Iran Counterpart In Beijing

• Swedish Police Appeal Court Ruling Allowing Quran Burning Protests

• Any Ukraine peace talks should focus on creating ‘new world order’: Lavrov

• France to probe expulsion of Chechen dissident to Russia: Source

• Bosnia's high representative urges politicians to form government

• Italy pays tribute to Turkish, Syrian quake victims on anniversary of L'Aquila earthquake


North America

• CIA Chief Visits Saudi Arabia To Express Frustration About Iran Rapprochement: Report

• US Policy On Israel-Palestine Shaped By Israeli Far-Right Think Tank: Experts

• Biden Admin Blames Former President Trump for Chaotic Withdrawal from Afghanistan

• US Navy sends nuclear-powered guided-missile submarine to Middle East: Statement



• Hamas Praises ‘Heroic’ Shooting Operation Against Israeli Settlers

• Islamic world should be united against Israel's attacks in Palestine: Turkish president

• Iran, China Vow to Broaden Mutual Cooperation

• Iran Calls on OIC to Hold Emergency Meeting on Israeli Regime's Crimes

• Israeli-Palestinian tensions high after deadly attacks in Tel Aviv, West Bank

• Iran condemns Israeli strikes in Gaza and Lebanon, calls for international response

• Iran sentences man accused of killing seven during protests to death

• Palestinians will respond to Israel al-Aqsa ‘aggression’: Hamas

• Israeli restrictions at Al-Aqsa Mosque cut number of worshipers at Friday prayers in half


South Asia

• Over 1 Million Afghan Refugees Trapped Between Hostile Pakistan And Taliban: Report

• Military Vehicles Collected from Irresponsible People in Afghanistan’s Western Provinces

• Russian FM to Take Part in Fourth Ministerial Meeting of Afghanistan’s Neighbours

• DAB to Auction $15 Million by Saturday to Stabilize Afghani Currency


Southeast Asia

• Umno Youth To Send Protest Letter To Foreign Ministry On Israel’s Acts At Al-Aqsa Mosque

• Agong, Raja Permaisuri Attend Nuzul Al-Quran Celebration At Penang State Mosque

• Agong: Muslims must stay united despite difference of opinion

• Maszlee Malik appointed chairman of Islamic think tank


Arab World

• Saudi-Omani Delegation To Hold Ceasefire Talks With Houthis In Yemen’s Sanaa: Sources

• Israel launches airstrikes on Gaza Strip after barrage of rockets fired from Lebanon

• Digital devices that print identification wristbands for children launched at Makkah’s Grand Mosque

• Heavy Rain, Sandstorm, And Snowfall To Hit Most Saudi Regions Until End Of Ramadan

• Explosion gets reported near Iraqi Kurdistan airport

• Saudi, Iranian win top prizes at Otr Elkalam competition

• Blast at north Iraqi airport raises tension in Kurdish area



• Christian, Muslim Clerics List Benefits, Rally Nigerians Support For 2023 Census

• Turkish mosque donates food packages to residents in Uganda’s capital

• Jordanian volunteer group raises spirits providing Ramadan meals in Syrian camps

• Hopes fade for IMF bailout of Tunisia

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



 Bihar Ram Navmi Clashes: British-Era 113-Year-Old Madrasa Library Reduced 4,500 Books To Ashes, Some Of Them Handwritten On Islamic Culture, Religion And Literature


The library of 113-year-old Madrasa Azizia after the March 31 communal violence in Bihar Sharif. (Express Photo)


Written by Santosh Singh

Patna | April 7, 2023

“We managed to save ourselves, but we could not save the library,” Murarpur mosque Imam Mohammed Siyauddin said, pointing mournfully towards the burnt library in the adjoining Madrasa Azizia in Biharsharif on Wednesday.

Reduced to ashes in the same fire of communal violence that consumed the town on March 31, the library of the 113-year-old Madrasa Azizia boasted 4,500 books, some of them handwritten, on Islamic culture, religion and literature. Vehicles, houses and shops were torched and several people injured in communal flare-ups reported over the March 31 Ram Navami procession in the town, which has a population of about 6 lakh.

The charred shell of the library, which had hundreds of books on Quranic interpretations alone, was considered as formidable as Patna’s Khuda Baksh Oriental Public Library. Madrasa Azizia and Patna’s Shamsul Huda Madrasa are among Bihar’s two oldest madrasas. Set up by philanthropist Bibi Sogra in the memory of her husband Abdul Aziz in 1910, the madrasa started working to improve education in the community in 1920 following recognition by the then British government.

The Imam alleged, “I am an eyewitness to the events of March 31. The Ram Navami procession crossed the road close to the madrasa and the mosque. Both the buildings are located at some distance from Gagan Diwan, the place where the communal violence started. It seems the madrasa was deliberately targeted by hoodlums.”

Stating that the 18-room madrasa, which is spread over 3 acres, was attacked by more than 500 people, he continued, “The police arrived only two hours after the attack. By then, the fire had spread out of control. Fire tenders managed to extinguish the fire by next morning, but all the books and documents were gutted by that time.”

He said 300 students, ranging from those in class 1 to some who are pursuing postgraduate courses, study at the madrasa.

Mohammed Shaqir Qasmi, the principal of Madrasa Azizia, said the institution had 10 teaching and two non-teaching staff who receive salaries from the state government. Besides them, five employees get salaries from the Soghra Waqf Estate, considered one of the wealthiest waqf estates in Bihar with assets, including educational institutions, spread across Nalanda, Nawada, Sheikhpura, Patna, Muzaffarpur and Samastipur districts.

“Not a single book is in a recoverable state. We do not even have scanned copies of the books lost in the fire. It is a huge loss, not just for Nalanda, but also the field of Islamic studies,” rued Qasmi.

The madrasa, he recalled, had received special mention by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) during its team’s March 2020 visit. The visit was part of an interaction with students under an educational programme run by the Bihar State Madrasa Education Board.

Claiming that there had been an unsuccessful attempt to attack the madrasa in 2017 too, Qasmi said, “After the 1981 riots in Biharsharif, several families sold their houses and shops, and settled elsewhere. However, a sizable Muslim population still lives in the vicinity of the madrasa and the mosque.”

While the Bihar Police Headquarters did not specifically mention filing of a separate first information report (FIR) in the case of torching of the library, Nalanda Superintendent of Police Ashok Mishra said, “Separate FIRs are being filed for damage to public property and arrests are being made. So far, we have arrested 130 people in connection with the 15 FIRs lodged. We are still going through video footage and collecting other evidence to nail the other offenders.”

Bihar Additional Director General of Police (Headquarters) J S Gangwar also dismissed rumours of people fleeing Nalanda after the communal violence.

Source: Indian Express

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Uttarakhand To Demolish "Illegal" Mazars: "Won't Let Land Jihad Prosper", Says  Uttarakhand CM


Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami


April 07, 2023

Dehradun: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Friday said the authorities would demolish Mazars that have come up on illegally-occupied land.

"We will demolish illegal mazars in Uttarakhand. This is a new Uttarakhand. No one should even think about encroaching on land here, let alone doing it," Dhami said in a tweet.

Later, speaking at an event in Nainital's Kaladhungi, Dhami said the authorities had identified over a thousand illegal structures erected in the name of mazars and others.

"We are not against anyone. But encroachments in the name of mazars or anything else will not be allowed. We will not let 'land jihad' prosper. We believe in the law. We will not allow anyone's appeasement," Mr Dhami said.

Source: ND TV

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US Weapons Left in Afghanistan Being Used by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Baloch Separatist Groups In Pakistan: Report


Photo: Express Tribune


By Fidel Rahmati

April 8, 2023

The outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Baloch separatist groups are using the US weapons left in Afghanistan for militancy in Pakistan, a report said by an international media outlet.

According to a report by Radio Free Europe, after the withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan, it left behind military equipment and weapons worth $7 billion, which later boosted the military power of Pakistan’s outlawed militant groups.

The report also stated that the TTP and Baloch separatist groups were fighting insurrections against the government in Pakistan, which has seen an increase in violence over the previous two years, utilizing US arms and equipment.

The US reportedly left behind weapons and equipment, including firearms, communications equipment, and armoured vehicles, giving the militants access to a “huge war chest.”

Several reports said that since the ceasefire between TTP and the Pakistan government ended on last November, the group had intensified its attacks on several major provinces of the country, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Punjab.

The Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS), an Islamabad-based think tank, claims that there were 27% more terrorist attacks in Pakistan in 2022 than in 2021.

The militant groups had more than 261 terrorist attacks during 2022, in which 419 people were killed, and 734 were injured, the report said.

However, the de facto government in Afghanistan has rejected the claims that the TTP and other militant groups boosted by the US weapons and equipment and reiterated that their government would not allow any group to use Afghan soil against neighbouring countries, including Pakistan.

Source: Khaama Press

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London Protest Demand Israel End Attacks On Al-Aqsa Mosque In The Occupied East Jerusalem




Burak Bir 



Hundreds of demonstrators staged a protest Friday outside the Israeli Embassy in London against attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque in the occupied East Jerusalem.

The emergency protest was called for by various NGOs and Palestinian solidarity campaign groups, including Friends of Al Aqsa, Palestinian Forum in Britain and Stop the War Coalition.

Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and Jewish Voice for Labors were among the participants.

Decrying recent Israeli attacks on Palestine, the crowd chanted slogans in solidarity with Palestinians, including, "Free Palestine."

Along with Palestinian flags, protesters were carrying signs that read: "Stop arming Israel", "End Israeli Apartheid", "Sanctions on Israel" and "Gaza, end the siege."

Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PCS), told the crowd they are there again because of the "brutal" attacks by Israel against Palestinians.

"We are here because once again Israel is bombing Palestinians in Gaza and we are here because, since the beginning of 2023, Israel has been massacring Palestinians," he said.

Saudah Badat, from the Friends of Al Aqsa, said Israeli forces again attacked Palestinian worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in the holy month of Ramadan.

"Attacking any place of worship should be considered an act of terror," she said.

Criticizing media reports' representation of what is happening in the region, she stressed that it is not a clash, or a conflict between equal sides --rather it is brutal attacks of "apartheid policies."

The Israeli army launched a series of airstrikes early Friday on targets in Gaza, saying they were targets of the Hamas group.

Tension has been running high in the past few days following Israel's assaults on worshippers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Ties Between US, Saudi Arabia Improving Despite Recent China-Backed Deal With Iran


Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman receives US President Joe Biden at Al Salman Palace upon his arrival in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, July 15, 2022. (Reuters)


07 April ,2023

The relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia has undoubtedly gone through one of its roughest phases since the two established formal ties more than 70 years ago.

But despite the recent China-backed deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran to restore ties, officials and recent statements from the Biden administration signal that the tide may be slowly turning in favour of a more stable environment between Washington and Riyadh.

“Looking ahead, we are focused on ensuring that our engagement with Saudi Arabia continues to serve the interests of the American people, and we have seen and continue to see great strategic value in this relationship,” a State Department spokesperson told Al Arabiya English.

Other bumpy periods have occurred, including the oil embargo in the 70s, the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Obama administration’s policy on Iran and the ensuing 2015 nuclear deal.

During the Trump administration, ties were boosted, and the former US president made his first foreign visit to Saudi Arabia. That newly built trust was tested after Donald Trump held off on a military response to Iran’s attacks on Saudi oil refineries in 2019.

And on the campaign trail, then-candidate Joe Biden pledged to make Saudi Arabia “a pariah.” Several foreign policy decisions targeted Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries shortly after Biden took office, which included freezing arms sales to Riyadh.

But the events of the last six months have been particularly worrying and threatened the continuity of US-Saudi relations.

A decision by the Saudi-led OPEC+ to cut oil output before the US midterm elections was interpreted by the Biden administration as a political stunt to undermine the chances of Democrats against Republicans. Saudi Arabia has vehemently rejected these accusations and pointed to the price of oil stabilizing shortly after the decision to decrease oil production.

Washington also accused Saudi Arabia of siding with Russia through its move at a time when the US and Europe were trying to squeeze Vladimir Putin’s coffers in the midst of his war on Ukraine.

The White House and other US officials threatened to recalculate the relationship with Saudi Arabia, going as far as threatening economic and financial sanctions.

But shortly after, there was a change in tone from US officials toward Saudi Arabia.

At the UN, Saudi Arabia led several Arab and Gulf states in voting to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, calling on the Kremlin to withdraw Russian forces from the neighboring country. This was followed up with a $400 million pledge from Saudi Arabia to Kyiv. The Biden administration quickly toned down its criticism and lauded the Gulf nation for its positive contributions.

A week before that, senior US officials traveled to Riyadh to participate in security meetings to discuss Iran and other common threats, pushing back against claims that Washington was looking to distance itself from the region.

And when the surprise announcement of rapprochement between Riyadh and Tehran was announced, the White House and State Department officials commended the China-backed deal.

Over the last ten days, US officials have released statements on the Yemen war seen as positive toward Saudi Arabia while calling out the Iran-backed Houthis.

The US response to the latest Saudi and OPEC+ decision to further slash oil production next month was also met with a much more muted response, with Biden saying: “It’s not going to be as bad as you think.”

US and Saudi officials are now seeing a more positive path forward while still acknowledging the difficult time their bilateral ties are going through.

CIA Director Bill Burns travelled to Saudi Arabia this week to reinforce US commitment to intelligence cooperation, especially in areas such as counterterrorism, a US official previously told Al Arabiya English.

Karen Young, a senior research scholar at the Centre on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, said there had been efforts to engage constructively, led by the Saudis and initiated by the US government.

The US and Saudi Arabia concluded their first joint counter-drone exercise last month at a new military testing center in Riyadh. Additionally, Saudi Arabia recently signed what the US called “landmark deals” with Boeing for over 120 aircraft worth $37 billion. The White House said the agreement could support over one million American jobs across 44 states.

Sources familiar with the deal have said that its signing was called off in October following the Biden administration’s accusations of Saudi Arabia siding with Russia.

“The Boeing deal is a testament to the fact that ties are beginning to improve,” one official said. “This is still very much a work in progress, but there is progress.”

A National Security Council official told Al Arabiya English that joint efforts on Ukraine and Yemen and the Boeing deal were areas of interest to the United States, “with generally broad bipartisan support in Congress, and where we hope and expect to make further progress over the coming period.”

The NSC spokesperson also said that the US and Saudi Arabia were working together on “more trusted and secure” 5G and 6G networks through “O-Ran technologies.”

An upcoming test could be the result of ongoing negotiations in which Saudi Arabia has requested US technology to enrich the uranium Riyadh possesses to produce and then sell fuel. Otherwise, Saudi officials have said they could look to China, Russia or France for help.

The State Department spokesperson said the Biden administration was committed to supporting Saudi Arabia’s clean energy transition, including its efforts to develop a peaceful nuclear energy program, but stopped short of signaling US approval for Saudi’s uranium enrichment plans.

“The United States has long sought to limit the spread of uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing technologies globally, given their potential technical applicability to fissile material production. President Biden has been clear that the administration remains committed to this longstanding US nonproliferation objective,” the official said.

Nevertheless, the official praised Saudi Arabia for being a strategic partner of the US for eight decades and said it was “very clear that we have important work ahead” with Riyadh, including on Ukraine, Yemen, threats from Iran, climate change, and 5G and 6G networks.

“There is plenty of goodwill left, but the US will have to come to terms with a Saudi Arabia that is distinctly different from the past, and that has been one of the obstacles to understanding,” Young told Al Arabiya English.

Source: Al Arabiya

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 Fashion Street Ganapati Mandal Mumbai Organises Iftar For 300 Muslim Workers

By Linah Baliga

Apr 08, 2023

With communal tension being fuelled across the country, especially during festivities, this Iftar was also an effort to set the record straight. “We keep hearing about communal tensions during Ram Navami in Bihar, Gujarat and other places

A long Dastarkhān (table cloth) was laid out on the ground at Fashion Street, Churchgate, with hearty servings of fruits, sherbet and bhajiyas. To savour it, around 300 Muslims were in attendance. This was not a regular community meal but for the first time, a unique gesture by Fashion Street Ganapati Mandal in Fort which organised the Iftar to spread the message of togetherness and shun hate.

Vinay Gupta, member, Fashion Street Ganapati Mandal, said that they wanted to do something for their Muslim brothers.

“We arranged for fruits, sherbet and bhajiyas. We wanted to spread the message of togetherness and we believe in celebrating each other’s festivals,” said Gupta.

With communal tension being fuelled across the country, especially during festivities, this Iftar was also an effort to set the record straight. “We keep hearing about communal tensions during Ram Navami in Bihar, Gujarat and other places. But it was so good to witness harmony here at Fashion Street during Ramzan, there are 400 shops and there are at least two Muslims working in each shop. At least 300 people participated in this Iftar. There is an environment of hate today and to stop the same, we distributed Ladoos during Hanuman Jayanti on Thursday,” said Mohammed Jahangir Shaikh, a vendor who is also the vice president of Fashion Street Ganesh Utsav Mandal.

Shaikh added that in the name of politics, people shouldn’t forget their sense of brotherhood and unity. “Our Fashion market is a tourist point and has been in existence for over 38 years. We believe in pluralism and appreciate the gesture by the Mandal,” said Shaikh.

The expense came up to ₹40,000 for the Mandal. Shamiullah Shaikh, a vendor at Fashion Street who participated in the Iftar organised by Fashion Street Ganesh Mandal said, “This is such a positive move. We are not opposed to each other’s festivals and we are businessmen. We liked the gesture of them giving us a dawat.”

Shyam Nagarcha Raja mandal in Vile Parle’s president Shivaji Khairnar observes roza during Ramzan and said his objective was to convey the message, ‘sarva dharma sambhav’ in these troubled times.

“I have kept Roza in the last 15 years and especially on 27th which is Badi raat because I want to show that we are one regardless of the faiths we follow,” said Khairnar.

Suhail Khandwani, trustee Mahim and Haji Ali dargahs had organised an iftar on Thursday for members of WIHUM (World Interfaith Harmony Unity Mission) which comprises members from various religious groups.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Kishanganj Muslim family donates land for temple

Apr 8, 2023

PATNA: Amid reports of communal tension from some parts of the state during Ram Navami festival recently, a Muslim family from Kishanganj in Bihar has set a new example of communal harmony by donating his prime land for construction of a Lord Hanuman temple, leaving the Hindu residents ecstatic.

The Hindu residents, on Hanuman Jayanti on Thursday, laid the foundation stone for the temple on about one-and-a-half katha of land donated by the family of late Z Ahmed in the Vajpayee Colony amid chanting of Vedic mantras and installing a flag (dhwaj) near the construction site. At present, the Hindu devotees have to trek long to visit a temple in the area.

Ahmed owned two bighas of land, but sold them out for the studies of his children, his family members told the local media. Incidentally, the majority of the buyers were Hindu families to whom the landlord had promised to donate a piece of land for temple construction.

Unfortunately, Ahmed succumbed to Covid-19 complications in 2021. But before his death, he had asked his sons to donate the land to the Hindus for temple construction if they approached them for that purpose.

'No greater religion than helping humanity'

Around a fortnight back, the Hindu residents approached Ahmed's sons and requested them for donating land for the temple to which the family happily agreed to saying they were already told by Ahmed for the same before his death.

"Some Hindu members told me to feel free about donating the land. I told them that my father, before his death, had already expressed his last wish before us and we are only too happy to donate the land for a good cause," Ahmed's son Faiz Ahmed told the local media on Friday.

Reciting lines from Hindu scripture Gita, Faiz asked the people to enjoy the togetherness of life. "Stay together and be happy. What you own today will get lost tomorrow. A man has come empty-handed and will go the same way. So, why all distress and disquiet?" he said, adding there is no greater religion than helping humanity.

Ahmed's another son, Fazal Ahmed, said it is good that a temple is coming up on the land donated by them. "But please don't forget this temple after its construction. I want you all to visit there on a regular basis and keep it humming with religious activities," Fazal wished.

Local residents said they were only too happy to see their dream coming true after a long time. "There is no temple in the area. So, we had to go to other places to offer worship. But now we will have our own temple in the locality," said local resident Binod Kumar Mishra.

Source: Times Of India

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Muslim man held for ‘inciting youth’ against Raja Singh’s rally in Maha

7th April 2023

Aurangabad: Police have arrested a 50-year-old man in Nanded district of Maharashtra on the charge of inciting the Muslim community youth against an upcoming rally of suspended Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Telangana MLA T Raja Singh, an official said on Friday.

The controversial leader’s rally is scheduled to be held at Biloli in Nanded on April 9, he said.

The accused, Suleman Ahmed Shaikh, was arrested on Thursday and a local court sent him to 14-day judicial custody, the police said.

“Shaikh had held a meeting at a private function hall in Biloli on March 24, where he appealed to the Muslim community youth present there that they should oppose the rally of T Raja Singh, stating that it would lead to tension in the area. A video of this meeting went viral later. After going through the video, the police suo motu registered an offence on Wednesday and held Shaikh in the early hours of Thursday,” the official said.

Efforts are on to nab another accused, he added.

Inspector Anant Barude of Biloli police station said that Shaikh is a history-sheeter and was named in around seven cases.

A case under sections 505 (2) (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was registered against the accused and further investigation was underway, he said.

The BJP had suspended T Raja Singh from the party in August 2022 following an uproar over his alleged remarks against Islam and Prophet Mohammed. He had been booked over the remarks and was arrested but he later secured bail. Singh represents Goshamahal in Telangana capital Hyderabad.

Source: Siasat Daily

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"They Can't Touch It": B Bommai On Congress's Promise For Muslim Quota

April 07, 2023

Bengaluru: Reacting to Congress leader DK Shivakumar's promise of cancelling the scrapping of the four per cent Muslim quota after coming to power, Chief Minister Basavraj Bommai said that the Congress party cannot even touch the reservation.

His remarks came after Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar on Friday said, "As soon as our government comes, we will cancel the reservation issue and will protect the minority interest".

Talking to the mediapersons here on Friday, CM Bommai said, "They (Congress) don't have clarity in any issue in reservation and policies. They are just raining statements. Let them remove the reservation, they can't touch it, let us see what they can do".

He said that the whole ticket selection procedure is going properly in a constitutional way, and the final list will be announced soon.

"I told you on Thursday only, that there will be more aspirants for the ticket as there is a lot of competition. The party will have a meeting on April 8 and 9, and tickets will be distributed on April 10. We have collected the opinions of our party workers, leaders and the people. The final list will also be made accordingly," he said.

The Chief Minister further said that the Congress party is very "weak" from within and will badly lose the upcoming assembly polls in the state.

"As far as I know, Congress doesn't have proper candidates even on 60 seats, that's why they are swapping candidates. They are just making voices, but are weak from the inside. Fights are going on within the party between different factions. They will lose very badly in the coming elections," CM Bommai added.

The Karnataka government last month scrapped the four per cent OBC reservation for Muslims and distributed it to the two dominant communities, Veerashaiva-Lingayats and Vokkaligas. The government also decided to move OBC Muslims to the 10 per cent Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category.

Source: ND TV

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Saudi Ministry Hosts Iftar Table At Headquarters Of Major Islamic Group In India

April 07, 2023

NEW DELHI — Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance, represented by the religious attaché at the Kingdom's embassy in New Delhi, hosted an Iftar table at the headquarters of the All-India Central Ahl al-Hadith Association, which is the largest and oldest Islamic association in India, as part of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques program to break the Ramadan fast, which is implemented in 40 countries around the world.

Source: Saudi Gazette

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Aligarh Muslim University teacher completes US exchange programme

Apr 7, 2023

MUZAFFARNAGAR: Dr Zainab Sarwat, assistant professor, department of English, Aligarh Muslim University has completed the US Exchange Program funded by the US government on "Exploring American Perspectives through Popular Culture" at Kansas State University in Manhattan, USA. As a part of the exchange program, she participated in various discussions related to American culture and the cultural showcase of India in Kansas and Portland.

Sarwat was selected from Regional English Language Office (RELO), US Embassy-sponsored English Access MicroScholarship Program, running at the UGC Human Resource Development Centre, AMU.

She participated as a panellist in the TESOL convention for ESL educators held in Portland, Oregon, and conducted a session on "Using FORUM for Teacher Reflection and Professional Development". English Teaching FORUM is a reputed ELT journal that has completed 61 years of publication from the US Department of State.

Prof Mohammad Asim Siddiqui, chairman of the department, congratulated Dr Zainab for serving on FORUM as a panellist.

Dr Faiza Abbasi, director of UGC HRDC said that Zainab serving on the FORUM Panel is a remarkable achievement for AMU and the Access program.

Source: Times Of India

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Pakistan To Launch New Military Operation Against Islamist Militants, Says National Security Committee

Apr 7, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan plans to launch a new nationwide operation to root out Islamist militants, the national security committee said on Friday, in a potentially costly move for a country already facing full-blown economic and political crises.

Pakistan is in danger of defaulting on its debt, with an International Monetary Fund bailout programme stalled since November, while a bruising political battle is raging between the government and former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The last time it launched an all-out operation against Islamist militants was in 2014, and it cost the country billions of dollars and resulted over a million people being displaced and hundreds being killed.

"The meeting agreed to launch an all-out comprehensive operation with the entire nation and the government, which will rid the country of the menace of terrorism with renewed vigor and determination," the security committee said in a statement.

Pakistan, a nuclear-armed country of 220 million people, has seen a rise in attacks by Islamist militants in the last few months, particularly since negotiations with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant group broke down last year.

This year, the group and its factions have unleashed a wave of attacks including a suicide bombing at a mosque in the northwestern city of Peshawar that killed over 100 people, mostly policemen.

Source: Times Of India

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Founder Of Banned Baloch Group, Gulzar Imam, Arrested In ‘Carefully Planned’ Intelligence Operation: ISPR

April 7, 2023

A “hardcore militant” and founder of the banned militant group Baloch National Army (BNA) was captured, according to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), who described the detainee as a “high-value target” with suspected links to hostile intelligence agencies operating against Pakistan.

“Gulzar Imam alias Shambay was apprehended after an innovatively conceived, carefully planned and meticulously executed operation, spanned over months over various geographical locations,” the military’s media wing said in a statement today.

The statement, however, did not disclose the exact location where the militant was apprehended.

The report of the apprehension of a wanted terrorist surfaces on the same day as a high-profile National Security Committee (NSC) meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Over the past few months, the law and order situation in the country has worsened, with terrorist groups executing attacks with near impunity across the country.

Since the talks with the TTP broke down in November, the militant group intensified its attacks, particularly targeting the police in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and areas bordering Afghanistan. Insurgents in Balochistan have also stepped up their violent activities and formalised a nexus with the TTP.

According to statistics released by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, an Islamabad-based think-tank, January 2023 remained one of the deadliest months since July 2018, as 134 people lost their lives — a 139 per cent spike — and 254 received injuries in at least 44 militant attacks across the country.

According to the ISPR statement, Imam was apprehended in “a high profile and successful intelligence operation”.

The military said the captured terrorist was a hardcore militant, as well as the founder and leader of the banned BNA outfit, which was formed after the merger of the Baloch Republican Army (BRA) and the United Baloch Army (UBA).

It stated that the BNA had perpetrated numerous violent terrorist attacks in the country, including targeting the installations of law enforcement agencies in Panjgur and Noshki.

“Imam also remained as deputy to Brahamdagh Bugti in the BRA till 2018.”

The military’s statement added that the apprehended militant was pivotal in creating the Baloch Raji Aajoi Sangar (BRAS) and served as its operational chief.

“His visits to Afghanistan and India are also on the record, while his linkages with hostile intelligence agencies are being investigated,” it said.

It further said the hostile agencies also tried to exploit the militant to work against the state of Pakistan and its national interests.

“The arrest of Gulzar Imam is a serious blow to the BNA as well as other militant groups, which have been attempting to destabilise the hard-earned peace in Balochistan.”

Source: Dawn

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Pakistan's capital city notifies rules for Hindu Marriage Act after much delay

Apr 7, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Islamabad capital administration has notified the Hindu Marriage Act 2017, more than five years after its passage, a development that could benefit members of the minority community who can now solemnise their marriage in line with established rituals, a media report said on Friday.

The notification titled 'Islamabad Capital Territory Hindu Marriage Rules 2023' will pave the way for the implementation of the marriage act passed in 2017 in the Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan provinces as well, the Dawn newspaper reported.

An Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration official said the notification was forwarded for implementation to all Union Councils of the federal territory.

According to the rules, relevant Union Councils in Islamabad will register a 'Maharaj' to solemnise marriages.

According to the report, a Hindu male with adequate knowledge of Hinduism can become a 'Pundit' or 'Maharaj'.

However, the 'Maharaj' will be appointed only after the submission of a character certificate from the local police and the written approval of at least 10 members of the Hindu community, the report said.

Mehfooz Piracha, district attorney for Islamabad Capital Territory, who drafted the rules, told the newspaper that the notification "is a major step" towards ensuring the rights of the minority community.

He added that the Punjab, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces can adopt these rules now.

"Politically and technically, it is easy for provinces to adopt the laws enacted in Islamabad rather than formulating new legislation for each jurisdiction," Piracha was quoted as saying in the report.

Similar to the case of the "registered nikah-khawan" for Muslims, respective Union Councils will issue a "Shaadi Pert" (marriage certificate) to the 'Maharaj' registered with the relevant local government body.

All marriages would be registered at the Union Councils as well, the report said.

According to the rules, a 'Maharaj' appointed under the Marriage Act would not take any money for officiating the marriage except for the fees mandated by the government.

According to the report, Section 7 of the rules deals with cases related to the termination of marriages and remarriages.

These rules also allow Hindus living in Islamabad to approach courts under the West Pakistan Family Courts Act 1964 in case of marriage disputes.

The crucial effort for the approval of Hindu marriage rules was made by a group called 'National Lobbying Delegation (NLD) for Minority Rights', according to the report.

Jai Parkash, a member of the group, said that many Hindus permanently settled in Islamabad, and it was "essential" that the ICT administration implement this law retrospectively to benefit the local community, the report said.

Source: Times Of India

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India's letter on review of Indus Water Treaty is 'vague', says Pakistan minister

Apr 7, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's minister for climate change on Friday said the letter from India seeking to begin negotiations for the review of the 62-year-old Indus Water Treaty was "vague" and Islamabad in its reply has asked for a clarification from New Delhi.

India earlier this year for the first time issued a notice to Pakistan, seeking a review and modification of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), in view of Islamabad's "intransigence" to comply with the dispute redressal mechanism of the pact that was signed more than six decades ago for matters relating to cross-border rivers.

Pakistan's Minister for Climate Change, Senator Sherry Rehman told the Senate that the contents of the letter regarding the IWT modification were "vague” as India accused Pakistan of violating the agreement and committing a material breach.

“The government of Pakistan is fully cognisant of the matter and is dealing with it on its merits,” she said.

The minister said the government has deliberated with all the relevant stakeholders, and a response was sent to India on April 1, “seeking clarification from the Indian side on the contents of their letter”.

“No one can change Indus Waters Treaty unilaterally,” the minister said as she apprised the Upper House about the Indian letter.

The IWT was signed in 1960 through the good offices of the World Bank and has survived the vicissitudes of the acrimonious ties between the countries.

Rehman noted the IWT is the only ratified treaty between Pakistan and India and has not been replaced by a duly ratified treaty concluded between the two governments ever since 1960, and continues to be an instrument in force.

“It is imperative for India to ensure implementation of the Treaty in its true letter and spirit,” she said.

“Pakistan is committed to the treaty and expects India to comply with it,” she added.

India on Thursday said it has received Pakistan's response to its notice sent over two months ago seeking a review and modification of the IWT for the management of cross-border rivers.

New Delhi took the significant step of sending the notice to Pakistan conveying its intent to amend the treaty around months after the World Bank announced appointing a neutral expert and a chair of the Court of Arbitration to resolve the differences over the Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric projects.

India has been particularly disappointed over the appointment of the Court of Arbitration.

New Delhi considers the start of the two concurrent processes to resolve the dispute a violation of the provision of the graded mechanism prescribed in the pact and wondered what will happen if the mechanisms come out with contradictory judgements.

India has not cooperated with the Court of Arbitration.

Under the pact, any differences need to be resolved under a three-stage approach.

Source: Times Of India

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'Pakistan minister cancels trip to IMF, World Bank meetings in US'

Apr 7, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's finance minister has cancelled a visit to Washington for spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, government officials said on Friday, citing domestic political turmoil as the reason.

Minister Ishaq Dar was scheduled to attend the meetings from April 10 and see top IMF officials and multilateral creditors in a bid to secure stalled funding that the South Asian country desperately needs to avert a balance-of-payments crisis.

Islamabad has been negotiating with the IMF since early February to secure $1.1 billion funding as part of a $6.5 billion rescue programme agreed in 2019.

Two government officials cited political turmoil as the reason for the cancellation. The English-language Express Tribune newspaper quoted Dar as saying he was not going because of the political crisis.

The finance ministry did not respond to a request from Reuters for comment.

Former cricket star Imran Khan has been challenging the government since he was ousted as prime minister after losing a vote of confidence in parliament a year ago.

Khan has been heading a protest campaign to press for a new election. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has rejected Khan's demand, saying a general election is due anyway late this year.

In the latest twist, the Supreme Court has ordered voting in snap polls for two provincial assemblies to go ahead but the government has rejected the court order.

While Khan wants the provincial elections now, Sharif says it is too costly to organise votes both now and again later in the year, and all of the votes should be at the same time later.

The government also says two rounds of voting this year would put too much strain on agencies responsible for election security when they are also facing a resurgent Islamist militant threat.

The Supreme Court has said it would be illegal to delay the provincial votes.

Source: Times Of India

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PPP calls for holding talks with PTI as PML-N, JUI-F oppose move

Apr 08 2023

ISLAMABAD: The ruling coalition seems to be divided on holding talks with the opposition to end the ongoing political and economic crises in the country as the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is supportive of the idea while Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) have rejected any such move.

A meeting of the PPP’s core committee convened on Friday resolved to approach all parties in the coalition government to discuss the issue of dialogue among the political parties, including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

The committee was jointly chaired by former president Asif Ali Zardari and Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

The top decision-making body of the PPP met to address the ongoing political crisis and emphasised that the issue had arisen due to various reasons, including the minority court verdict being given precedence over the majority court verdict.

PPP Secretary-General Nayyer Bukhari, speaking after the meeting, said that this stance was legally, morally and politically untenable and must be reviewed.

The party also stressed the importance of resolving conflicting court verdicts promptly and without impinging on the judiciary’s honour and prestige.

Furthermore, in the interest of fair and free elections, the party called for general elections for all assemblies to be held on the same day as provided for in the Constitution and reiterated their opposition to any delay beyond the Constitutional mandate date.

It is important to note that the two major political parties in the ruling coalition — PML-N and JUI-F — have opposed holding talks with the PTI.

JUI-F leader Asad Mahmood, in a statement on Friday, said that no negotiations will take place with Imran Khan and called for imposing Article 6 on him.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on multiple occasions has also rejected the idea of holding talks with the PTI.

Mushahid favours dialogue to end crisis

Meanwhile, PML-N Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed Friday urged the government and PTI to stop fighting with the Supreme Court and the establishment respectively and set the rules of the game for elections on time.

He was speaking on a calling attention notice, moved in the House by opposition and government legislators on India’s move for revision of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT).

He strongly advocated a dialogue between the ruling coalition and the opposition, saying if talks could be offered to Modi and terrorists, then why not between them.

Mushahid insisted that Pakistan needed to set its house in order and express unity in order to face India as the US was also backing New Delhi to counter China in the region.

Referring to his recent visit to China, he said the message from the time-tested friend was that all political parties should talk for the interest of Pakistan and its people by going beyond their party lines and personal affiliations.

He regretted that the ruling alliance had picked confrontation with the Supreme Court while the PTI was fighting with the establishment.

“If they were offering a dialogue to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, then why don’t we have talks among ourselves,” he argued.

Source: Geo TV

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Judges must not be seen as ‘politicians in robes’, says Justice Minallah

Nasir Iqbal

April 8, 2023

ISLAMABAD: In a detailed judicial note in the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa elections case, Supreme Court Justice Athar Minallah on Friday called for exercising “extreme restraint” in entertaining political questions, since public trust is eroded when the court is perceived as politically partisan and its judges are seen as “politicians in robes”.

In his “judicial order”, Justice Minallah also added a word of caution, saying the country was on the brink of a political and constitutional crisis and it is high time that all those responsible took a step back and resorted to some introspection.

Justice Minallah was among the four judges who had earlier rejected the suo motu case along with Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel.

“All the institutions, including the Supreme Court, need to set aside their egos and strive towards fulfilling their constitutional obligations,” he wrote.

Agrees with three other judges’ decision to reject suo motu action; explains he didn’t recuse from nine-judge bench

He said erosion of public trust in the independence and impartiality of the apex court could have been avoided if a “full court” was constituted, adding that a full court was also suggested in his earlier Feb 23 note.

It would have ensured the legitimacy of the proceedings, Justice Minallah emphasised while concurring with the opinion of Justice Yahya Afridi, who had dismissed the petition on the grounds of maintainability.

He also agreed with the joint note of Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, who held that the March 1 judgement had been dismissed by a majority of four to three and therefore the same should be considered as the “Order of the Court,” adding this was also the understanding at the meeting held in the anteroom on Feb 27.

Referring to the Feb 23-24 Supreme Court orders in which the nine-judge bench was re-constituted into a five-judge bench to assume suo motu jurisdiction on the provincial assemblies’ election, Justice Minallah in his 25-page “verdict” explained that he did not recuse from the nine-judge bench nor had any reason to dissociate himself from the larger bench.

Justice Minallah regretted that the current political climate in the country was so toxic that it was inconceivable that political parties would agree to having even a dialogue, let alone arriving at a consensus.

‘Political disputes’

In a document punctuated with sub-headings, Justice Minallah emphasised that extreme restraint should be exercised while assuming jurisdiction under Article 184(3), adding it was the duty of the court to ensure that political stakeholders were not encouraged to bring their disputes to courts for settlement by bypassing the institutions created under the Constitution.

He questioned the way resignations were tendered from the National Assembly en masse and two provincial legislatures were dissolved “as a political strategy”, rather noting that courts were first approached to compel the speaker to accept the resignations, and when accepted, the courts were again approached to have the decision reversed.

Role of court

In his judgement, Justice Minallah said this court cannot and must not appear or be seen as advancing political strategies of political stakeholders, adding that public trust would be eroded in the independence and impartiality of the court if it appears to encourage undemocratic norms and values. The court would be unwittingly weakening the parliament by encouraging political stakeholders to add their disputes to its dockets.

Justice Minallah said political stakeholders must establish their bona fides before their petitions could be entertained. The conduct of stakeholders has created an unprecedented political instability by resorting to conduct devoid of democratic values of tolerance, dialogue and debate.

Thus the conduct of the stakeholders does not entitle them to invoke the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Article 184(3) lest it is seen or appears to facilitate or promote undemocratic values and strategies, said Justice Minallah.

It is also alarming that the conduct of political stakeholders and their political strategies would create unprecedented political turmoil and instability in the country when political stability was a precondition for economic progress and prosperity. .

But the power struggle between the political stakeholders is undermining the welfare and economic conditions of the people of this country who have been made to suffer for a long time by depriving them of their fundamental rights, Justice Minallah regretted.

CJP’s powers ‘not unfettered’

He explained that it was not disputed that the Lahore High Court (LHC) had already allowed the petitions and rendered an authoritative judgement and its competence to have it implemented cannot be doubted.

Likewise, he noted that the Peshawar High Court (PHC) was also seized with the matter. In the light of the binding ‘salutary principles’ the petitions and suo motu jurisdiction must not be entertained lest it may interfere with the implementation of the judgement of the LHC and the proceedings pending before the PHC.

Referring to the power of the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP), Justice Minallah explained that discretionary powers of the Master of the Roster were not unfettered nor arbitrarily or capriciously — discretion exercised in a manner that preserves and promotes public trust and confidence. It is also an onerous duty of CJP to act in the best interest of the Supreme Court.

Source: Dawn

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French top diplomat in rare meeting with Iran counterpart in Beijing

April 07, 2023

PARIS: France’s foreign minister has held a rare face-to-face meeting with her Iranian counterpart in China, urging Tehran to release French nationals “arbitrarily detained” in Iran, the foreign ministry said Friday.

Catherine Colonna, traveling with President Emmanuel Macron on his state visit to China, met Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Beijing.

Amir-Abdollohian was leading the Iranian delegation in separate reconciliation talks in Beijing between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

China mediated the reconciliation last month in a sign of Beijing’s growing clout in the Middle East.

Colonna “renewed her urgent demand for the immediate release of the six French citizens who Iran is arbitrarily detaining,” the French statement said.

The six are among an estimated two dozen foreigners who activists and Western governments say are being held by Iran as hostages in a bid to extract concessions.

Iran’s foreign ministry confirmed the meeting took place, adding that “some consular issues were also raised during the meeting.” It did not specify further.

Contacts between Iran and European powers — including over the Iranian nuclear program — have been drastically scaled down over Tehran’s deadly crackdown on the protest movement that erupted in September.

“The talks also focused on the situation in Iran, regional issues and the Iranian nuclear program. The minister expressed France’s concern about the attitude of the Iranian authorities on all these subjects,” the statement said.

For its part, the Iranian foreign ministry said: “The foreign ministers of the two countries emphasised the necessity of mutual respect and continuation of dialogue.”

The Iran protests began in mid-September after the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a young Iranian Kurd who had been arrested for allegedly violating Iran’s strict dress code for women.

Four men have been executed in protest-related cases in what activists have described as “show trials.”

Source: Arab News

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Swedish Police Appeal Court Ruling Allowing Quran Burning Protests

Beyza Binnur Donmez



Sweden’s police said Thursday that they had appealed a court ruling which overturned a police decision to stop two demonstrations where protesters planned to burn the Muslim holy book the Quran.

"The police authority believes that the principles of the issue are important and it is therefore urgent that it is examined by a higher court," the police said in a statement.

In February, Stockholm police refused to grant permission to two Quran burning attempts after far-right Danish politician Rasmus Paludan burned a copy of the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm in January with police protection and permission from Swedish authorities.

The police cited security concerns to block those two demonstrations.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Any Ukraine peace talks should focus on creating ‘new world order’: Lavrov

07 April ,2023

Moscow wants any Ukraine peace talks to focus on creating a “new world order,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on a visit to Turkey on Friday.

The top Russian diplomat was in Turkey - which has retained ties with both Moscow and Kyiv - to hold talks with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.

He also threatened to abandon a landmark grain deal, which Turkey helped broker, if obstacles to Russian exports remain.

“Any negotiation needs to be based on taking into account Russian interests, Russian concerns,” Lavrov said.

“It should be about the principles on which the new world order will be based.”

He added that Russia rejects a “unipolar world order led by ‘one hegemon.’”

Russia has long said it was leading a struggle against the United States’ dominance over the international stage, and argues the Ukraine offensive is part of that fight.

The Kremlin this week said it had no choice but to continue its more than year-long offensive in Ukraine, seeing no diplomatic solution.

The beginning of the offensive saw rising fears of a global food crisis as Russia and Ukraine are major exporters of grain and other agricultural products.

Lavrov however said Russia may pull out of the landmark deal that allowed vital exports to leave blocked ports in the Black Sea.

“If there is no further progress in removing barriers to the export of Russian fertilizers and grain, we will think about whether this deal is necessary,” Lavrov said.

On the eve of the visit, Moscow said it extended the agreement “as a gesture of goodwill for another 60 days.”

Russia has repeatedly threatened to abandon the agreement that has allowed the export of more than 25 million tons of grain.

Moscow has been complaining that its side of the agreement, promising the right to export fertilizer free from Western sanctions, is not respected.

Source: Al Arabiya

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France to probe expulsion of Chechen dissident to Russia: Source

07 April ,2023

The French judiciary is launching a probe into the controversial expulsion of a Chechen dissident back to Russia where he was subsequently jailed, a source said.

Magomed Gadaev, a prominent opponent of pro-Kremlin Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, was expelled from France in 2021 to the dismay of rights activists.

Supporters described him as a dissident in danger in Russia, but the French interior ministry insisted he posed a threat due to alleged extremist tendencies and needed to be deported.

A judge from the crimes against humanity section of the Paris court has now opened an investigation into a complaint filed by the Human Rights League (LDH) as well as Gadaev’s wife and children, a source close to the case told AFP late on Thursday, asking not to be named.

The complaint targets French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin as well as two other officials including former Paris police chief Didier Lallement, the source said.

After arriving in Russia, Gadaev was arrested and sentenced to a year and a half in prison on arms possession charges. He was freed in August, according to Amnesty International and his wife.

But his wife says her husband remains under surveillance and cannot leave Russian territory.

Gadaev received refugee status in Poland in 2010 but then moved to France in 2012 where he was refused asylum.

His expulsion to Russia came as France moved against alleged radical elements in the Chechen diaspora after a Chechen extremist beheaded teacher Samuel Paty outside Paris in October 2020.

Darmanin visited Moscow days after the murder to discuss the issue with his Russian counterpart.

Kadyrov, a former warlord, has ruled the Muslim-majority Chechnya republic for the last decade and a half.

Rights groups accuse him of serial violations and using a private militia to crack down on opponents.
Source: Al Arabiya

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Bosnia's high representative urges politicians to form government

Talha Ozturk 



Bosnia and Herzegovina's high representative on Friday urged politicians to form a government for the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH), one of country’s two entities, along with the Republika Srpska.

At an extraordinary press conference in the capital Sarajevo, Christian Schmidt – who is responsible for overseeing implementation of the 1995 pact which ended the Bosnian war – urged politicians to end the impasse in the Bosniak-Croat region, adding that this is his final call for an agreement as political actors have obligations to the citizens.

"The election results (last November) cannot be fully implemented even though the support of the majority in both houses of the parliament exists for the vote in favor of the government formation. I will remind all political actors of their responsibility to enable government institutions to do their job," said Schmidt.

According to Schmidt, the FBiH is in a political deadlock and split between political blocs.

"Maximalist demands, intimidation tactics, and non-acceptance of political reality will not help the FBiH move forward," said Schmidt.

"There will be no additional final calls," he added.

The coalition formed by the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and the Eight Alliance in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina needs the approval of Refik Lendo, vice president of the entity from the Democratic Action Party (SDA), to form the entity's government.

But Lendo does not want to approve a governing coalition that does not include his party, the SDA, which won the most votes in the elections.

The FBiH Constitution stipulates that the government proposed by its president must be approved by the two vice presidents before the government can be formed.

In order to overcome the government crisis, the SDA could relent and Lendo give approval to the current government, or there could be a coalition with the SDA, in which case the HDZ would have to back down, or High Representative Schmidt would have to amend the Constitution, using his so-called “Bonn powers.”

Bosnians are furious about what they call Schmidt’s interference.

Last week hundreds of demonstrators protested Schmidt and demanded officials respect the county’s independence, territorial integrity, democracy, and human rights.

The angry crowd chanted for Schmidt to resign and go back to his native Germany.

High representative's controversial laws

Schmidt announced on the night of the Oct. 2 general elections that he had enacted controversial reforms to the election laws

After polls closed in the presidential and parliamentary election, Schmidt said he had signed two decisions for the functionality and timely implementation of election results in a document he called the "functionality package," stating that they were related to the government and coalition-building processes.

The decision was fiercely criticized by both politicians and the public.

The Office of the High Representative was established in the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia Herzegovina. The office oversees the implementation of the peace agreement on behalf of the international community

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Italy pays tribute to Turkish, Syrian quake victims on anniversary of L'Aquila earthquake

Baris Seckin 



Italy paid tribute Thursday to Turkish and Syrian quake victims on the 14th anniversary of its L'Aquila earthquake, which killed 309 people.

As every year, commemoration programs were held for those who lost their lives on April 6, 2009 at 3.32 a.m. when a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck.

Organized by L'Aquila Municipality, a march with torches was held in the city center in memory of those who died.

The torch in L'Aquila Earthquake Park, the destination point of the march, was lit by Turkish researcher Cansu Sonmez and Syrian Rasha Youseff, who are continuing their education in Italy, to give a message of solidarity to those affected by Türkiye's Kahramanmaras-centered twin earthquakes on Feb. 6.

Afterwards, a moment of silence was held for those who lost their lives in the earthquake.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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North America


CIA chief visits Saudi Arabia to express frustration about Iran rapprochement: Report

Rabia İclal Turan



CIA Director Bill Burns paid an unannounced visit to Saudi Arabia, expressing frustration about Riyadh’s recent rapprochement with Iran, according to a report.

Burns told Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that the US felt "blindsided" by Riyadh’s rapprochement with Iran and Syria -- Washington’s global rivals -- according to the Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the matter.

It cited a US official who said Burns discussed cooperation on intelligence and counterterrorism with Saudi officials.

Beijing last month hosted officials from longtime regional rivals Riyadh and Tehran, where they agreed to resume diplomatic relations.

Iran and Saudi Arabia severed ties in 2016 after the Saudi Embassy in Tehran was stormed by an angry mob following the execution of a Saudi Shia cleric.

Starting in April 2021, the two sides took part in marathon talks facilitated by Iraq and Oman but it was Chinese intervention that resulted in a breakthrough last month.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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US policy on Israel-Palestine shaped by Israeli far-right think tank: Experts

07 April 2023

A new report says experts believe that Israeli far-right think tank Kohelet Policy Forum, which has gained attention in recent weeks because of its role in crafting the controversial judicial overhaul, is a major player in shaping the US policy on Israel-Palestine.

"Now that the world is suddenly paying attention to Kohelet in Israel, I think they maybe are missing the story in the US ... In the US they have played, I would say, a parallel, enormously effective, and quiet role of shaping US policy to where it is today when it comes to anything related to Israel-Palestine," Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, said during an online webinar on Tuesday, hosted by the foundation, according to the Middle East Eye.

Established in 2012, the far-right think tank is funded mainly by American Jewish billionaires Arthur Dantchik and Jeffrey Yass. The latter is known as one of the biggest donors to the Republican Party.

According to Ran Cohen, a rights activist and founder of the Israeli civil society group, Democratic Bloc, the think tank earned initial attention in 2019 when former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo appreciated it for helping create the Trump administration's policy recognizing Israel's settlements as legal.

"We can put that Pompeo statement as the first sign that made us think that okay, this is something that we should look deeper into, and we found a bigger story than that," Cohen said, adding, "You don't see high-ranking politicians thanking an NGO, but he took the step and the attention to actually give them the credit for helping with promoting the statement that is actually stating that the settlements in the West Bank are not contradicting international law - a major change in American politics."

Recently, the think tank has become known as the architect of the controversial “legal reforms” which serve as the centerpiece of the policies of the Netanyahu-led cabinet that he cobbled together late last year by wooing ultra-Orthodox and hard-right parties.

They seek to enfeeble the supreme court by robbing it of the power to strike down either the cabinet or the legislature’s decisions.

Another element of the reforms would give the 120-member parliament the power to overrule the court’s decisions with a simple majority of 61 votes.

The reforms would also empower the Knesset to amend the so-called Basic Laws – the regime’s quasi-constitution – in any way it sees fit.

Observers say the reforms can potentially enable the Knesset to annul a set of corruption charges that Netanyahu is being tried on. The Israeli prime minister is being sued for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.

Eran Nissan, CEO of Mehazkim, a digital movement in Israel, blamed Kohelet for the political crisis in Israel. "We're talking about them because they are the ones that wrote the policies, the legislative initiatives that are causing all the turmoil and political crisis right now in Israel," he said.

Source: Press TV

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Biden Admin Blames Former President Trump for Chaotic Withdrawal from Afghanistan

By Fidel Rahmati

April 7, 2023

The administration of Joe Biden has defended its decision to withdraw American soldiers from Afghanistan and accused former US President Donald Trump of fostering circumstances that “severely constrained” his successor and caused the chaotic pullout from the war-torn country in 2021.

On Thursday, the White House released a 12-page report on the circumstances behind the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021. It also forwarded related classified documents to various Congressional committees.

The report attributes a large portion of the fault to the previous Trump administration, claiming that President Biden was “severely constrained” by their decisions.

On February 29, 2020, the Taliban and the US administration, led by then-President Trump, signed a peace accord in Doha, Qatar. The treaty paved the way for the withdrawal of American troops within one and a half years from the country. In return, the Taliban pledged not to attack or utilize Afghanistan’s soil against the United States or its allies.

US President Joe Biden ended America’s longest-running overseas military engagement in Afghanistan on April 14, 2021.

After the US withdrawal announcement plan from the country, the Taliban fighters increased their attacks on the provincial capitals. On August 15, they seized Kabul capital of Afghanistan, without any resistance, and former president Ashraf Ghani fled to Uzbekistan on the same day.

After the Taliban takeover of the country, the US and its allies ended their two-decade presence there.

Source: Khaama Press

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US Navy sends nuclear-powered guided-missile submarine to Middle East: Statement

08 April ,2023

The US Navy said on Saturday a nuclear-powered guided-missile submarine was operating in the Middle East in support of the Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet.

The USS Florida entered the region on Thursday and began transiting the Suez Canal, Commander Timothy Hawkins said in a statement.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Hamas praises ‘heroic’ shooting operation against Israeli settlers

07 April 2023

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has praised as “heroic” a Friday shooting operation in the occupied West Bank, saying it showed resistance forces are ready to quickly react to any act of aggression by the Israeli regime.

Hamas spokesman Mohammad Hamada said described the attack, which left two settlers dead and another injured, as a crushing response to Israel’s aggression. He said resistance is now in the hearts of Palestinians and Israeli aggression against al-Aqsa Mosque and its defenders won’t go unanswered.

Hamada reiterated Hamas’s position that al-Aqsa is a red line for Palestinians.

The shooting attack left two Israeli settlers dead and another seriously injured near the settlement of Hamra in the West Bank.

It said the women were fired on in a car in the northern part of the Jordan Valley.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Israeli military said it had launched a manhunt for the perpetrators of Friday's shooting.

Source: Press TV

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Islamic world should be united against Israel's attacks in Palestine: Turkish president

Diyar Guldogan 


The Islamic world should be united against Israel's attacks in Palestine, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his Iranian counterpart on Friday.

Erdogan and Ebrahim Raisi spoke over the phone and discussed Türkiye-Iran relations and regional issues, including Israeli attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque in the occupied East Jerusalem, Türkiye's Communications Directorate said in a statement.

Emphasizing that common sense should prevail to prevent a new spiral of violence, Erdogan said that it would be beneficial to take initiatives to guide all parties to common sense.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Iran, China Vow to Broaden Mutual Cooperation


During the meeting in the Chinese capital on Thursday evening, the Iranian and Chinese foreign ministers explored avenues for bolstering and reinvigorating mutual cooperation in various areas.

The meeting took place hours after the top Iranian diplomat and his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud signed a joint statement on bilateral relations in the Chinese capital.

The meeting between Amirabdollahian and Farhan Al Saud in Beijing was the first formal meeting between Iran and Saudi Arabia after seven years of severed ties.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran Calls on OIC to Hold Emergency Meeting on Israeli Regime's Crimes


During the phone talks on Thursday night, Amir Abdollahian and Taha exchanged views on the Israeli regime's illegal intrusion into Al Aqsa Mosque and the Iranian foreign minister asked for the convening of an OIC emergency meeting to tackle the matter.

The top Iranian diplomat said that the emergency meeting had better be at the foreign ministers' level, announcing that the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready for any kind of needed cooperation in the successful convening of that emergency meeting.

Amir Abdollahian, meanwhile, referred to Iranian President Seyed Ebrahim Rayeesi's recent phone talk with his Indonesian counterpart on the same matter and informed the OIC secretary general about the Islamic Republic of Iran's other planned programs in that respect.

The OIC Secretary General Hussain Ibrahim Taha, for his part, condemned the recent Zionist invasion of one of the holiest Islamic sites, the Al Aqsa Mosque, and informed Amir Abdollahian that the OIC Executive Affairs Committee would convene this coming Sunday to review Israel's recent insulting move in that holy mosque.

News sources reported on Wednesday night that the Israeli troops raided Al Aqsa Mosque once more and beat Palestinian worshippers, and even tried to expel the Palestinians from the holy mosque.

Palestinian Red Crescent Society declared that a number of Palestinians had been injured following the raid, but the Israeli troops did not allow medical staff to enter the holy site.

The Israeli regime’s police announced that they arrested tens of Palestinian people at Al Aqsa Mosque.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Israeli-Palestinian tensions high after deadly attacks in Tel Aviv, West Bank

08 April ,2023

An Italian tourist was killed and five people were wounded in a car ramming in Tel Aviv on Friday that came hours after two Israeli sisters were killed in a shooting attack in the occupied West Bank.

The attacks, after a night of cross border strikes in Gaza and Lebanon, added to heightened Israeli-Palestinian tensions following Israeli police raids in Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque this week.

The tensions threatened to spiral into a wider conflict overnight as Israel responded to a barrage of rockets by hitting targets linked to the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza and southern Lebanon, but the fighting entered a lull on Friday.

However, the two attacks underlined how volatile the situation remains after successive nights of trouble that have drawn worldwide alarm and calls for calm.

In the latest attack, a car ploughed into a group on a street near a popular bike and walking path on a Tel Aviv promenade. The driver was shot dead by a nearby police officer when he tried to pull a gun, police said.

An Israeli security source identified the assailant as an Arab citizen of Israel from the town of Kafr Qassem.

Police cordoned off the area that was brimming with emergency responders.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said the victims were all foreign tourists. Italy’s Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani confirmed that an Italian had been killed and other Italians may have been among the wounded.

Earlier on Friday, two Israeli sisters, aged 20 and 16 with joint British nationality, were killed and their mother wounded in a shooting attack on their car near the Jewish settlement of Hamra in the Jordan Valley.

“Our enemies are putting us to the test again,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after visiting the site of the attack with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

As soldiers hunted for the gunman, Netanyahu ordered border police reserves and additional military forces to be mobilized to confront the wave of attacks.

The US State Department condemned the attacks, saying “the targeting of innocent civilians of any nationality is unconscionable.”


No claim of responsibility was made for either of Friday’s attacks, but Hamas, the militant group that controls the blockaded Gaza Strip, praised them and linked them to the tensions around al-Aqsa Mosque.

Friday prayers passed without major incident and apart from some stone-throwing, police said the situation had been quiet.

Twice this week Israeli police have raided the mosque, where hundreds of thousands of worshippers have been praying during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, to dislodge groups they said had barricaded themselves with the aim of causing trouble.

Footage of officers beating worshippers who confronted them aroused concern, even among Israel’s allies, and prompted condemnation across the Arab world.

The site in Jerusalem’s Old City, holy to both Muslims and Jews, who know it as Temple Mount, has been a longstanding flashpoint, notably over the issue of Jewish visitors defying a ban on non-Muslim prayer in the mosque compound.

Clashes there in 2021 helped set off a 10-day war between Israel and Hamas. The exchange of cross border fire awakened memories of that conflict, but as the lull in fighting extended on Friday, neither side seemed keen to prolong the fighting.

“Nobody wants an escalation right now,” an Israeli army spokesman said. “Quiet will be answered with quiet, at this stage I think, at least in the coming hours.”

One official with a Palestinian militant group told Reuters they were ready to keep the calm should Israel do the same, with the group having “made its point”. A Qatari official said Qatar was helping international efforts to de-escalate the situation.

Even before the flare-up of the past few days, the West Bank has seen a surge of confrontations in the past several months, with frequent military raids and escalating settler violence amid a spate of attacks by Palestinians.

Since the beginning of the year, at least 18 Israelis and foreigners have been killed in attacks in Israel, around Jerusalem and in the West Bank. In the same period, Israeli forces have killed more than 80 Palestinians, most of them fighters in militant groups but some of them civilians.

In the aftermath of the overnight strikes in Gaza, streets were largely empty except for some taxis and emergency vehicles. In Gaza City’s Tufah neighborhood some houses and a children’s hospital were damaged.

Taxi driver Muhanad Abu Neama, 23, said his family barely escaped Israeli air strikes that hit near his house, filling rooms with dirt and debris and damaging his car.

“I could hardly see because of the dust, the dirt covered my sisters’ beds and I carried them out one by one,” he said.

With the international-led peace process long moribund, Palestinians’ hopes of creating an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital, have faded. Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 war and annexed it as its capital in a move not recognized internationally.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran condemns Israeli strikes in Gaza and Lebanon, calls for international response

07 April ,2023

Iran on Friday condemned the recent Israeli strikes in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, urging for a “deterrent” response from the international community to Israel’s “aggressive actions.”

Tensions have escalated between Israel and the Palestinians during the Jewish Passover and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, raising concerns of further escalation in the coming days.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said the attacks on Lebanon were a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, “as well as a gross violation of the principles of international law and human rights,” according to state media.

“We demand an effective and deterrent response from the international community to the aggressive actions of the Zionist regime,” he said.

Israel conducted airstrikes early on Friday in Gaza and Lebanon in retaliation for rocket attacks launched from both territories. Israeli officials have blamed the Palestinian militant group Hamas for the rocket attacks from Lebanon towards northern Israeli areas.

Tehran is a major ally of both Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran sentences man accused of killing seven during protests to death

07 April ,2023

An Iranian court has ordered the execution of a man accused of killing seven people during nationwide protests last year, the judiciary said Friday.

Abbas Kurkuri was accused of using a military weapon to fatally shoot seven people in Izeh, in Khuzestan province, in November, and charged with the capital crimes of “moharebeh,” or “war against God” and “corruption on earth,” the judiciary’s Mizan Online news website reported.

The Islamic Republic witnessed several months of civil unrest following the September 16 death of Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini, 22, after her arrest for allegedly flouting Iran’s strict dress code for women.

Hundreds of people were killed, including dozens of security personnel, and thousands were arrested in connection with what officials labelled “riots” fomented Iran’s enemies.

Kurkuri’s sentence can be appealed in the supreme court, Mizan added.

At the burial of one of the shooting victims, identified as 10-year-old Kian Pirfalak, the boy’s mother reportedly blamed security forces for killing her son.

At the time of his death, officials insisted the boy was killed in a “terrorist” attack carried out by an extremist group.

The judiciary’s website added that Kurkuri had “accepted the charges” and confessed to being “under the influence of social media.”

Such confessions are frequently condemned by rights groups based outside of Iran as “forced,” arguing that they are often obtained under duress.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Palestinians will respond to Israel al-Aqsa ‘aggression’: Hamas

07 April ,2023

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said Thursday Palestinians “will not sit with their arms crossed” in the face of Israeli “aggression” against the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

He was speaking in Beirut after Israel blamed Palestinian militants for firing a barrage of rockets from Lebanon at northern Israel.

Haniyeh, who arrived in the Lebanese capital a day earlier, met on Thursday the heads of other Palestinian organizations as Israel threatened a military response to the rocket fire.

“Our Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance groups will not sit idly by” in the face of Israel’s “savage aggression” against al-Aqsa, Haniyeh said in a statement after the meeting.

Israel accused Palestinian groups of firing 34 rockets from Lebanon on the Jewish Passover holiday, a day after clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians inside Islam’s third-holiest site.

The violence in Jerusalem was widely denounced by neighboring states and several Palestinian groups vowed they would respond.

In his statement, Haniyeh called on “all Palestinian organizations to unify their ranks and intensify their resistance against the Zionist occupation (Israel).”

Earlier, Israeli army spokesperson Lt. Colonel Richard Hecht said Palestinian groups were responsible for the rocket barrage.

“We know for sure it’s Palestinian fire,” he told reporters. “It could be Hamas, it could be [extremists], we are still trying to finalize but it wasn’t Hezbollah.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israeli restrictions at Al-Aqsa Mosque cut number of worshipers at Friday prayers in half


April 07, 2023

RAMALLAH: Friday prayer took place at Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem amid strict Israeli security measures and police obstacles that limited the number of worshippers able to reach the mosque.

And as tensions remained high and violence continued, two Israeli women were shot dead when their car was attacked in the occupied West Bank.

The Islamic Awqaf Department in Jerusalem reported that 130,000 worshippers offered prayers at Al-Aqsa on the third Friday of Ramadan, half as many compared with last year. Israeli forces closed the main access point to the mosque and deployed more than 2,300 soldiers at the gates of Al-Aqsa and the Old City, preventing men below the age of 55 from entering Jerusalem and reaching the mosque.

After Friday prayer, a demonstration took place during which a banner that read “Do not test our patience; Al-Aqsa is a red line” was displayed.

Clashes began at dawn when Israeli police assaulted dozens of worshippers who tried to enter the mosque through the Bab Hatta Gate for Fajr prayer. They also attacked stall owners and vendors in the area.

Sheikh Talib Al-Silwadi, one of the most prominent clerics in Ramallah, who has called on Palestinians to pray at Al-Aqsa during Ramadan, told Arab News that the mosque holds great religious significance for Muslims as it is considered the gateway to heaven.

“Considering the Israeli challenges, we must defend it with all power,” he said. “The least we can do for Al-Aqsa, which faces the danger of Judaization, is to pray in it during Ramadan.”

Earlier, around midnight, Israeli forces arrested a number of young men from Al-Thawri neighborhood of Silwan after a settler shot at them in the nearby town of Al-Tur. Officers also stormed Al-Makassed Hospital in Al-Tur, saying they were searching for injured people.

Meanwhile, two Israeli women, who according to local media reports were sisters, were killed and their mother seriously wounded when their car came under fire near the Jewish settlement of Hamra in the occupied West Bank. Palestinian militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, praised the shooting but did not claim responsibility for it.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had ordered a security assessment of the situation. Following the attack, the Israeli army put the city of Jericho and the Jordan Valley under lockdown, set up military checkpoints, and launched a comprehensive search of Palestinian vehicles. Other forces were observed conducting search operations in the mountains and valleys. Israeli army forces also stepped up security procedures at military checkpoints surrounding Nablus.

Col. Hertzi Halevi, chief of the Israel Defense Forces, described the Hamra attack as severe. Hamas and the Islamic Jihad said they considered it retaliation for continual Israeli violations at Al-Aqsa, and a message to Israeli authorities that the assault on Muslim prayers at the mosque during Ramadan would not be tolerated.

The Israeli police chief, Yaakov Shabtai, urged settlers who own licensed weapons and are proficient in using them to carry them in support of the army, police and security forces in the face of Palestinian attacks.

Esmat Mansour, a Palestinian expert on Israeli affairs, told Arab News that the Hamra attack was no less dangerous in terms of its implications than missiles fired toward Israel from Lebanon and Gaza.

“It could complicate the security scene more and cause a shift in the security situation in the West Bank,” he said.

Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian vehicles in Taqu, southeast of Bethlehem, with stones, damaging several. They did the same near the northern entrance to Ramallah. Under the protection of large numbers of Israeli army forces, settlers also attacked Palestinian properties in Khirbet Humsa Al-Tahta in the northern Jordan Valley.

Source: Arab News

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South Asia


Over 1 million Afghan refugees trapped between hostile Pakistan and Taliban: Report

7 April, 2023

Kabul [Afghanistan], April 7 (ANI): More than one million Afghan refugees in Pakistan have been trapped between Taliban and Islamabad who is determined to push them into the jaws of harrowing life, Hamid Pakteen wrote in the Afghan Diaspora Network report. Afghans had been fleeing their home for decades, every time the war-torn nation went into conflicts, including at the height of the Cold War and the return of the Taliban.

Over the years, Pakistan has played a game of snakes and ladders with Afghans, the report said. The Afghan refugees first became an effective tool for Pakistan to have influence in Afghanistan and advance its strategic interest of keeping Kabul as its “strategic backyard,” Afghan Diaspora Network reported.

Since the return of Taliban regime in Afghanistan on August 15, 2021, more than 6,00,000 Afghans have fled to Pakistan, adding close to four million existing Afghan refugees, of which only 1.32 million people were registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Pakistan, which is facing an economic crisis is hell-bent to stop the Afghans from entering the country, pushing back hundreds of them each day, Hamid Pakteen wrote in the Afghan Diaspora Network. Earlier, the situation was different.

Refugees provided a counterbalance to Pakistan’s Afghanistan policy, making Afghans an important tool in Islamabad’s strategic planning, as per the news report. The refugees also helped Pakistan to counter adversarial moves from Afghanistan, including on the Durand Line.

Pakistan welcomed the Afghan refugees during the Soviet invasion which in turn helped Islamabad to get familiar with the Western military bloc. Afghanistan used Pashtun groups opposed to Pakistan to have its influence over Islamabad while the Pakistan Army played a game of providing weapons in 1975 to Panjshir province to overthrow the Afghanistan regime.

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) used the Cold War scenario to make terrorist sanctuaries from the refugee camps in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, as per the Afghan Diaspora Network report. After the Soviets left Afghanistan, the majority of Afghans had little interest in fighting with the Western armies and wanted to live a peaceful life.

Big cities in Pakistan, including Karachi and Peshawar, provided a home away from home and Afghans became part of the urban scape in Pakistan, the author wrote in the news report.

Islamabad even provided a convenient exit gate to Europe and the US for Afghans. However, the situation changed after 2001 and Afghans were no longer welcome in Pakistan. Pakistan started stricter monitoring of refugees and announced stricter detention and deportation policies and Afghans are being pushed back into the hell from where they had fled.

Earlier in March, more than 2,000 Afghan refugees had returned back to their nation from Iran and Pakistan, Taliban appointed Refugees and Repatriation Department announced, according to Khaama Press.

Source: The Print

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Military Vehicles Collected from Irresponsible People in Afghanistan’s Western Provinces

By Fidel Rahmati

April 7, 2023

Dozens of military vehicles that were being used by irresponsible persons in Afghanistan’s western provinces have been gathered by the military vehicle collection commission of the 207th Al-Farooq Army Corps.

According to a statement from the press office of the army corps, it was said that the concerned department had collected military vehicles from the provinces of Herat, Farah, and Badghis.

These collected military vehicles include Ranger, Humvee, strike vehicles and motorbikes.

The Taliban’s Defense Ministry announced that around 300 military vehicles left by the United States in Afghanistan had been repaired.

The ministry also said that the technical team and engineers had repaired hundreds of vehicles, including 150 international Kumazes, 125 Humvees, two assault tanks, four trucks, 10 Porcliff and 15 Humvees ambulances.

Based on the report released by the US House of Representatives, more than seven billion dollars worth of military equipment was left behind after the US troops withdrew from Afghanistan.

After the collapse of the previous regime and the takeover of the country by the Taliban, all the military equipment was captured by the group, according to a Pentagon report.

Source: Khaama Press

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Russian FM to Take Part in Fourth Ministerial Meeting of Afghanistan’s Neighbours

By Fidel Rahmati

April 8, 2023

The Fourth ministerial conference of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries will take place in Uzbekistan to discuss political settlement and stabilizing the humanitarian and socio-economic situation in the country.

Sergey Lavrov, the Foreign Minister of Russia, will lead the Russian delegation at the fourth Foreign Minister’s meeting of the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan in Uzbekistan on April 13, the Russian Ministry said on Friday, TASS News Agency Reported.

Russia and the six neighbouring countries of Afghanistan (China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) will come together in Samarkand to discuss the current situation in Afghanistan and regional cooperation.

“The fourth ministerial conference of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries (with the participation of Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) is scheduled for April 13 in Samarkand (Uzbekistan). Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will lead the Russian delegation,” the Ministry said.

The focus of the regional partners in the conference would be to facilitate an Afghan political settlement and stabilize the humanitarian and socio-economic situation in the country, according to the Ministry.

Russia and neighbouring countries have repeatedly expressed their concerns over the growing security threats from the country.

“Given the complicated security situation and growing terrorist activity and drug production in Afghanistan, the coordination of counter-terrorist and anti-drug efforts of the region’s countries is especially important,” the Foreign Ministry added.

“Special attention will be paid to regional economic integration and implementation of transport and energy projects with the participation of Kabul in accordance with previously reached agreements,” the Ministry said.

Last year, on March 31 2022, the third regional conference was held in the Chinese city of Tunxi.

Source: Khaama Press

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DAB to Auction $15 Million by Saturday to Stablize Afghani Currency

By Fidel Rahmati

April 7, 2023

Afghanistan Central Bank will auction 15 million USD on Saturday to stabilize Afghani against foreign currency.

The Central Bank has called on qualified banks and money exchange businesses to participate in the auction, stressing that the successful bidders must pay their accounts by the end of the day.

The bank also stated that partial settlement of transactions is not permitted and that the auction winners must make a single, timely cash delivery of all amounts owed to Da Afghanistan Bank.

This is the second auction since Sunday to further strengthen the value of the Afghani currency against the foreign.

Since the Taliban took back control of the country in August 2021, the value of the Afghani has stayed comparatively stable, which is seen as a positive development for the war-torn country with an economy that depends heavily on foreign aid.

Source: Khaama Press

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Southeast Asia


Umno Youth to send protest letter to Foreign Ministry on Israel’s acts at Al-Aqsa Mosque

07 Apr 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, April 7 — Umno Youth will send a protest letter to the Foreign Ministry on Monday in connection with the cruel acts perpetrated by the Israeli regime’s military against Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque recently.

Umno Youth chief Muhamad Akmal Saleh said the protest letter would, among other things, urge all Islamic countries to be united in opposing the violence and cruelty committed by Israel.

“We will also request the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the United Nations to immediately act to put a stop to the cruelty and injury inflicted on our friends in Palestine,” he said after an assembly of Umno Youth in Solidarity with Palestine at the Masjid Kampung Baru compound here today.

He said today’s gathering was meant to send a message to the Israeli regime that its cruel actions against Palestinians were also felt by other Islamic countries.

According to Muhamad Akmal, the Israeli flag was burnt at the assembly as a symbolic gesture of opposing the cruelty against Palestinians and conveying the stand that Israel was not recognised as a country.

Dang Wangi district police chief ACP Noor Dellhan Yahaya, when contacted, said police officers were deployed to monitor the assembly and that no untoward incidents were reported.

On Wednesday, the Israeli military raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in occupied East Jerusalem for the second night in a row and attacked Palestinian worshippers.

Source: Malay Mail

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Agong, Raja Permaisuri attend Nuzul Al-Quran celebration at Penang State Mosque

07 Apr 2023

GEORGE TOWN, April 7 — Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah today attended the Nuzul Al-Quran celebration at the Penang State Mosque here.

Their Majesties were accompanied by their children Tengku Arif Bendahara Tengku Muhammad Iskandar Ri’ayatuddin Shah, Tengku Puteri Raja Tengku Puteri Afzan Aminah Hafidzatullah and Tengku Puteri Jihan Azizah ‘Athiyatullah.

The royal family were met on arrival at the mosque at 6.10pm by the Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Penang Tun Ahmad Fuzi Abdul Razak and his wife Toh Puan Khadijah Mohd Nor, as well as Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman and his wife Datin Mohaini Mohd Safar.

The event commenced with the recital of a doa by the Penang Mufti Datuk Seri Dr Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor, followed by a welcoming speech by Ahmad Zakiyuddin.

Their Majesties also met and presented contributions to 50 asnaf (eligible to receive zakat or tithe) recipients.

The event then continued with the Nuzul Al-Quran tazkirah (religious talk) entitled ‘Al-Quran, Rahmat Untuk Umat’ delivered by Datuk Rosli Othman, a member of the Penang Fatwa Committee.

Source: Malay Mail

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Agong: Muslims must stay united despite difference of opinion

07 Apr 2023

KEPALA BATAS, April 7 — Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah called on Muslims to have the desire to stay united despite having differing opinions as this characteristic will enable them, the state and the nation to advance.

His Majesty said Muslims should not be bigoted that they cannot tolerate the opinion of others and cause factions in the mosque.

He said the mosque institution must be protected and not be made a political arena for any party or faction.

“This is an unhealthy phenomenon which we should avoid,” said His Majesty at the official opening of Ar Rahmani Jamek Mosque in Kampung Banggol, Kepala Batas here today.

Al-Sultan Abdullah hopes that the mosque administration under the Penang Islamic Religious Council would continue to work on enlivening the mosque so that residents will make good use of the facilities to acquire wisdom and receive blessings from Allah.

Also present were Tengku Arif Bendahara Tengku Muhammad Iskandar Ri’ayatuddin Shah Ibni Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, Penang Governor Tun Ahmad Fuzi Abdul Razak and Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman.

Source: Malay Mail

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Maszlee Malik appointed chairman of Islamic think tank

07 Apr 2023

PETALING JAYA: Former education minister Maszlee Malik has been appointed as the new chairman of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS), effective March 31.

“As the newly appointed chairman, I am committed to collaborating with our talented team to utilise the institute’s extensive knowledge and expertise, making IAIS Malaysia an even more valuable contributor to global discussions on matters related to Islam and its role in contemporary society,” he said in a message to IAIS staff.

IAIS is an independent non-profit think tank established in 2007, with the main objective of promoting a deeper understanding and appreciation of the diversity of Islam.

Currently, Maszlee holds a position as a professor at the psychology and social sciences faculty at the University of Cyberjaya.

Prior to that, he was a lecturer at the International Islamic University Malaysia.

Maszlee was appointed as the education minister after PH won the mandate to form the government following their victory in GE14.

Twenty months after his appointment, Maszlee resigned.

After the collapse of the PH government in February 2020, he was against Bersatu’s decision to form a government together with BN and PAS after the Sheraton Move.

He was subsequently sacked from the party and became an independent MP.

In November 2021, he joined PKR after more than a year of being a PH-friendly independent lawmaker.

During the 2022 Johor state elections, Maszlee ran for the Layang-Layang state seat, but lost to BN’s Abd Mutalip Abd Rahim.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Arab World


Saudi-Omani delegation to hold ceasefire talks with Houthis in Yemen’s Sanaa: Sources

07 April ,2023

A Saudi-Omani delegation is planning to travel to Yemen’s capital Sanaa next week to hash out a permanent ceasefire deal with Houthi officials and end the country’s eight-year conflict, two sources involved in the talks said.

If an agreement is reached, Yemen's warring parties could announce an agreement before Islam’s Eid al-Fitr holiday starting April 20, the sources said.

The discussions are focused on a full reopening of Yemen’s ports and airports, payment of wages for public servants, a rebuilding process and a political transition, they added.

In an additional sign of progress, the Arab Coalition lifted eight-year-old restrictions on imports headed for Yemen’s southern ports, the internationally-recognized government said.

This follows the easing of restrictions in February on commercial goods entering the Houthi-held western port of Hodeidah, the country’s main seaport.

The Yemeni government said on Thursday that commercial ships would be allowed to dock directly in southern ports, including Aden, and all goods would be cleared, with some exceptions.

Abu Bakr Abeed, deputy head of Yemen’s Chambers of Commerce, told Reuters ships would not have to stop at the Saudi Red Sea port of Jeddah for security checks for the first time since the Arab Coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israel launches airstrikes on Gaza Strip after barrage of rockets fired from Lebanon

07 April ,2023

Israel launched airstrikes on the Gaza Strip late Thursday after vowing to retaliate over a barrage of cross-border rockets fired from Lebanon, which it blamed on Palestinian groups.

The Israeli army “is currently striking in the Gaza Strip,” read an army statement shortly after AFP heard at least three explosions in the area at 11:15 pm (2115 GMT).

A Palestinian security source said the strikes had hit several Hamas training sites.

Further strikes rang out half an hour later, and aircraft could be heard flying overhead.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Israel’s enemies would “pay the price” after 34 rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israeli territory earlier in the day.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Digital devices that print identification wristbands for children launched at Makkah’s Grand Mosque

April 07, 2023

RIYADH: Digital devices that print identification wristbands for children visiting the Grand Mosque in Makkah were launched on Thursday.

The president of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, launched the devices as part of the “Your children are safe with us” program.

The wristbands are printed with the child’s name and their parent’s contact number to ensure they are safely found if they get lost.

Source: Arab News

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Heavy rain, sandstorm, and snowfall to hit most Saudi regions until end of Ramadan

April 08, 2023

JEDDAH — Moderate to heavy rain, sandstorm, and snowfall are expected to experience in most regions of Saudi Arabia from Sunday until the end of the holy month of Ramadan, according to the forecast of the National Center of Meteorology (NCM).

The spring thunderstorms, accompanied by dust storms, torrents, and snowfall, will be heavy from Monday to Thursday, in the regions of Qassim, Riyadh, Eastern Province, and Hail.

The NCM said in a statement that moderate to heavy rains will witness in the regions of Asir, Al-Baha, Jazan, Makkah, Najran, and Madinah on Sunday and Monday as well as on Wednesday and Thursday.

Moderate to heavy thunderstorms will experience in the regions of Tabuk, Al-Jouf and the Northern Borders region from Monday to Wednesday. The center stated that light to moderate thunderstorms, accompanied by sandstorm, is expected in the Eastern Province from Monday to Thursday, and in the regions of Makkah, Tabuk and Madinah on Sunday and Monday, as well as on Wednesday.

Source: Saudi Gazette

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Explosion gets reported near Iraqi Kurdistan airport

08 April ,2023

An explosion was reported near Sulaimaniyah airport in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region on Friday, security officials said, adding that it caused a fire but no casualties.

The reported blast comes amid tensions with nearby Turkey after Ankara on Wednesday closed its airspace to flights from the city, blaming increased activity of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Shortly after 4:00 pm (1300 GMT) “an explosion took place near the wall of Sulaimaniyah airport without causing any injuries, but causing a fire which was brought under control by the civil defense,” a statement from the airport security services said.

It added that air traffic had not been disrupted.

Local officials including the deputy premier of the Kurdistan region, Qubad Talabani, spoke of an “attack,” without elaborating.

A statement from Sulaimaniyah province governor Haval Abu Bakr said the explosion was the result of “aerial bombardment” close to the airport.

He called on “all political parties to put an end to their disputes and not make Kurdistan the victim of their struggles.”

Turkey on Wednesday said the freeze on air links with Sulaimaniyah would last until at least July 3 before being reviewed.

“This decision has been taken in the context of the intensification of activities of the PKK at Sulaimaniyah, the intrusion of the terrorist organization at the airport and the threat it poses to air security,” it said.

Abu Bakr at the time urged Ankara to “revise” its decision, saying that “Sulaimaniyah and its airport are secure.”
Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi, Iranian win top prizes at Otr Elkalam competition

April 07, 2023

RIYADH: A Saudi and an Iranian were the big winners at Friday’s Otr Elkalam contest organized by the General Entertainment Authority.

Mohammed Al-Sharif collected a prize of SR2 million ($533,000) for finishing first in the call to prayer (adhan) category, while Younis Shahmradi topped the recitation category, taking home SR3 million.

The final episode of the televised Qur’an recitation and adhan calling competition which translates to “Perfumed Speech” aired on Friday.

It was dedicated to crowning this year’s winners and opened with a Qur’anic recitation by Yunus Gharbi, the Moroccan contestant who won the competition’s first edition. This was followed by Mohsen Kara, the winner of last year’s Turkish adhan category, performing the call to prayer.

The competition is a winner in its own right, achieving six marks recognized by Guinness World Records, for the largest number of countries and participants in both the Qur’an and adhan categories, and the two biggest prize pools.

The event is among the most popular Ramadan programs in the Kingdom and enjoys a huge following in the Muslim world.

More than 50,000 contestants from 165 countries took part in the qualifying round for the event, which was held in January, of whom 50 went on to the final round that was broadcast on MBC and the Shahid digital platform.

Source: Arab News

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Blast at north Iraqi airport raises tension in Kurdish area

April 07, 2023

BAGHDAD: An explosion struck next to the Suleimaniyah International Airport in northern Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region Friday, local officials said.

The blast came days after Turkiye closed its airspace to flights to and from the airport, citing an alleged increase in Kurdish militant activity threatening flight safety.

Turkiye has spent years fighting Kurdish militants in its east. Large Kurdish communities also live in neighboring Iraq and Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based opposition war monitor, and some local media reported that the explosion was a Turkish drone attack on Mazloum Abdi, the leader of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the main US-backed and Kurdish-led force in Syria.

Officials with the SDF and the Kurdish regional government in northeast Syria denied that Abdi was in Suleimaniyah at the time or had been the target of an attack.

Fethullah Al-Husseini, a representative of the Kurdish self-rule administration in northeast Syria, said Abdi was “carrying on his work and is in northeast Syria.”

The airport’s security directorate said in a statement that an explosion took place near the fence surrounding the airport at 4:18 p.m. local time, causing a fire but no injuries. It said the cause of the blast was under investigation and the airport was operating normally.

Lawk Ghafuri, head of foreign media affairs for the Kurdish regional government in Iraq, said investigations were still underway and that he was unable to confirm whether the explosion had been a drone attack.

However, a statement from the Iraqi Kurdish regional government appeared to blame local authorities in Suleimaniyah, which it accused of provoking an “attack” on the airport and using “government institutions” for “illegal activities.”

The regional government, with its seat in Irbil, is primarily controlled by the Kurdish Democratic Party, while Suleimaniyah is a stronghold of the rival Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.

Two Kurdish officials in Irbil, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the incident with reporters, said that the explosion was caused by a drone attack. One of them said the attack had targeted Abdi.

A representative of the Turkish defense ministry said he had no information about the incident.

Turkiye’s foreign ministry announced Wednesday that Turkish airspace was closed to flights taking off from and landing at the Suleimaniyah airport.

Turkish officials said the closure was a response to an alleged increase in the activities of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, in the city of Suleimaniyah, including its “infiltration” of the airport.

The decision came weeks after two helicopters crashed in northern Iraq, killing Kurdish militants who were on board. The incident fueled claims that the PKK was in possession of helicopters, infuriating Turkish authorities.

The SDF later said it lost nine fighters, including a commander, in the crash, which occurred during bad weather on a flight to Suleimaniyah. The nine included elite fighters who were in Iraq as part of an “exchange of expertise” in the fight against the Daesh group, the SDF said.

Source: Arab News

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Christian, Muslim Clerics List Benefits, Rally Nigerians Support For 2023 Census

By Adamu Abuh, Abuja

08 April 2023

Ahead of the National Population Census in Nigeria, the College of Bishops Imams and Clergy Councils (CBICC), has canvassed support of Nigerians aimed at ensuring hitch-free exercise.

Addressing journalists after the interdenominational prayer rally, which held at the unity fountain, convener of the group, Bishop Abel King harped on the need for successful and credible census as it remains the only way forward for true and reflective development in any society

Listing the benefits derivable from the exercise, the cleric noted: “A credible census is the only way out of the current lack of direction. We need accurate data to plan for the limited resources available at government disposal.

“When government plans on reliable data, it reduces waste and misapplication of resources and thus focusing on specific areas of citizens need.

“As clergies, it is incumbent on us to take the message to the people; and the message is to open the eyes of our people on the need for citizen participation in the census as a critical exercise for national development. This is why we are here.”

In a similar reaction, Sheik Ibrahim Muktar, who led the Muslim prayer for a successful census, said nothing could be successful without the help of God and this is why we are here.

“We need to pray for the country, pray for the president and the commission because if they succeed with a credible census, the citizens would be the greatest beneficiaries.”

The group particularly commended the management of the National Population Commission under the leadership of Alh Nasir Isa Kwarra for the stability and direction it has brought to bear on the commission, insisting that the management commitment was reflected in the manner the forthcoming census exercise is being professionally coordinated.

“With deployment of state of the art Information Communication Technology, satellite systems, advanced GIS mapping and security infrastructure to compliment manpower, it was almost a given that the 2023 census exercise would be the most credible since, independence.

“We have prayed for success as clergy men, Muslims and Christians, men and women, young and old united on the common good of the country.

We hope that the commission truly lives up to expectations of Nigerians and Mr. President.

Source: Guardian Nigeria

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Turkish mosque donates food packages to residents in Uganda’s capital

Hamza Kyeyune 



The Abubaker Mosque, or Ebubekir Cami, in Uganda’s capital donated assorted food packages Friday to disadvantaged people in Kampala, to help them fulfill their obligation to fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Rice, wheat flour, maize, cooking oil, and other food items were handed out after Friday prayers.

Imam Sheikh Kirumira Mahmudaid said those asking for help keep growing.

“The foodstuffs were donated by well-wishers to support those in need through the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, we will continue supporting the less privileged as much as we can,” said the spiritual leader.

Recipients Anadolu spoke to were grateful for the generosity of the Turkish people at a time when Türkiye is grappling with the aftermath of deadly earthquakes.

"The Turkish people continue supporting us even when they are facing difficulties after a devastating earthquake, am so grateful to them,” said Aisha Nakitto.

The event was attended by the Turkish state-run aid agency, TIKA, country representative to Uganda, Omer Aykon.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Jordanian volunteer group raises spirits providing Ramadan meals in Syrian camps


April 07, 2023

IDLIB, Syria: A Jordanian volunteer group has been on the Ramadan frontline in northwest Syria dishing out home-cooked meals for hundreds of vulnerable families in camps for internally displaced people.

Members of Hathi Hayati, a non-governmental organization, have been providing food during the holy month of fasting.

Umm Ali, a cook internally displaced from Aleppo, has been working at a soup kitchen in the town of Zardana, north of Idlib, for the past few years.

She said: “Lentil soup is an essential part of the meal.” However, she also makes other traditional Middle Eastern dishes such as labaniya and kabsa, salads, sour beans, drinks, tamarind, and liquorice as sides.

“We used to send out meals, but now we bring the pots, cook the food, and distribute it in the camps. We serve the food to the people, and they take it home with them to eat,” she added.

Although the Ramadan project in Syria began three years ago, the team this year has adopted a different approach.

Zaki Al-Saleh, a Hathi Hayati volunteer, told Arab News: “We decided on a new idea, which is a buffet. Families come and take meals from the buffet and head over to any tent to eat privately.”

The Hathi Hayati team has been lifting spirits with its freshly cooked meals and has created an authentic Ramadan ambience by adorning its buffet tent with themed ornaments and lights.

Operating at different camps each day, between 200 and 250 fresh meals are produced, sometimes more, helping relieve some of the pressures of daily life for inhabitants.

Mohammed Abd Al-Fattah Duaimis, from Maarat Al-Numan in northwest Syria, manages the Andalusia camp, which hosts 200 families.

He told Arab News: “Some heads of households are taking care of 11 or 12 people and have the burden of providing food. Most of the families in our camp have more than eight members.

“They have no source of income; therefore, families find that the provided meals relieve some of that burden if not all of it.”

Source: Arab News

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Hopes fade for IMF bailout of Tunisia

April 07, 2023

Hopes faded on Friday for a stalled $1.9 billion IMF bailout package for Tunisia after President Kais Saied said he would not comply with “diktats” and that the required subsidy cuts could cause unrest.

Tunisia reached an agreement with the IMF for the loan in September, but it has already missed key commitments, and donors believe its finances are increasingly diverging from the figures used to calculate the deal.

Without a loan, Tunisia faces economic meltdown. Foreign loan repayments are due this year, and credit ratings agencies have said the country may default.

The terms of the loan include cuts to food and energy subsidies and a reduction in the public wage bill, but Saied said: “I will not hear diktats.” The alternative to the loan, he said, was that “Tunisians must count on themselves.”

Saied seized most powers in 2021, shutting down parliament, appointing a new government and moving to rule by decree —moves he said were necessary to end years of chaos and rampant corruption among the political elite.

He has blamed Tunisia’s economic problems on corruption and rejected what he sees as foreign interference.

Bailout talks with the IMF have been stalled for months, with the US and France, among others, demanding far-reaching reforms from Saied to free up the cash. Italy, however, a key destination for migrants from North Africa, says Tunisia should be quickly supported to avoid the financial collapse.

Source: Arab News

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