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Islamic World News ( 15 Sept 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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BJP Bent On Conducting Ganesh Puja At Eid Prayer Site (Eidgah) In Hubli, Karnataka

New Age Islam News Bureau

15 September 2023


Photo: The Quint



·         On A Complaint Filed By A Registered Qazi In Assam: 15 People Arrested For Conducting Child Marriages By Preparing Fake Documents

·         Keep Hindu signs found in Gyanvapi survey in DM custody, says Varanasi court

·         Manesar was in constant touch with other accused in killing of cousins, Nasir and Junaid: Cops

·         Bilkis Bani Gangrape case convicts got parole several times: Supreme Court

·         Maulana Badruddin Ajmal throws weight behind INDIA alliance

·         Special NIA court hands death sentence to two ISIS men for killing retired principal in UP

·         Congress MLA Mamman Khan arrested over Nuh violence; mobile internet suspended, section 144 imposed to prevent any disturbance of peace


·         Iran Vows To Respond 'Resolutely' To Israel's Threats, Unlawful Acts

·         Palestinian-Americans Accuse Israel Of Bias At Borders

·         Israeli MKs Call for Easing Prison Conditions of Convicted Jewish Terrorist

·         Dozens of Israeli Settlers Invade Al-Aqsa Mosque

·         Health of Palestinian Hunger-Striking Prisoners Deteriorates

·         Iraq-Turkiye oil pipeline ready to resume operations soon

·         Iran slams E3's decision to retain sanctions in violation of JCPOA

·         UAE will destabilize region with claims on Persian Gulf three islands: Leader’s advisor



·         Libya Buries Thousands In Mass Graves After Flood, Mayor Says Death Toll Could Triple

·         Mali cancels Independence day celebrations after attacks

·         Moroccan children traumatized by earthquake

·         Ugandan police ban Bobi Wine’s opposition rallies

·         KSrelief continues humanitarian projects in Sudan, Sri Lanka and Pakistan

·         Targeted killings and repatriation fail to deter Ethiopian migrants

·         Islamic group offers voluntary eye surgery in Jigawa


Arab World

·         Prince Faisal Heads Saudi Delegation To G77+China Summit In Cuba

·         Saudi crown prince to give exclusive interview with Fox News

·         Saudi king, crown prince receive separate letters from Iran’s president

·         KSrelief signs aid agreements to benefit people in Syria, Yemen

·         Saudi Arabia extends aid to flood victims in Libya



·         PIA to face closure only over our dead bodies, declares HR chief

·         Parvez Elahi granted bail in judicial complex attack case

·         Imran Khan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi bail pleas rejected in cipher case

·         Father among two charged with killing 10-year-old Sara Sharif

·         IHC won't bar authorities from arresting Imran

·         No ban on anyone’s entry into Pak: Bugti


South Asia

·         Deputy PM Hanafi, Meets a Number of Influential Figures Shiites in Kabul

·         Afghan-Pakistan border crossing reopens a week after fighting

·         Afghanistan: Taliban Welcome First Chinese Ambassador Since Takeover

·         Muttaqi talks Torkham crossing issue with Pakistan’s Chargé d’Affaires

·         Over 100 Afghan migrants released from Pakistani prisons

·         Afghan Consulate in Karachi: Detention of Afghans in Pakistan Increasing

·         Bangladesh sends humanitarian aid to flood-hit Libya

·         Employees, not govt filed cases against Dr Yunus: Momen


Southeast Asia

·         Umno’s Jamal Yunos Calls Off 'Red Shirts' Counter-Rally After Perikatan-Backed 'Save Malaysia' Gathering Moves To Kg Baru

·         I have to be strong for my siblings, says SPM student whose parents died in bike crash

·         Court to hear Najib, Irwan’s RM6.6 bil CBT case next year

·         Triple murder of siblings: court upholds labourer's death sentence

·         Police informed of Malaysian's arrest in Norway over suspected espionage


North America

·         CAIR-GA Condemns Approval of Controversial Zoning Proposal in Gullah Geechee Community

·         CAIR-Texas Welcomes Guilty Plea for 2015 Anti-Muslim Murder of Man in Dallas

·         US agency warns of extremist attacks ahead of 2024 election

·         United States sanctions 150+ businesses and persons from foe Russia to Nato member Turkiye

·         Top US general expresses 'lots of regrets' for way Afghan war ended

·         Russia accuses US of stagnating Palestine-Israel peace process

·         US hits five Turkish firms with sanctions over trade with Russia

·         US-backed militants fight each other in Syria. Who is to blame?

·         US military resumes drone flights in Niger



·         European States Refuse To End Iran Sanctions

·         German Prosecutor Files Murder Charges Against Syrian Citizen Accused Of 'Islamist-Motivated' Attack

·         German journalist says he will stop criticising Islam after spate of threats

·         EU provides over three million Euros in Aid to Afghanistan

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



BJP Bent On Conducting Ganesh Puja At Eid Prayer Site (Eidgah) In Hubli, Karnataka


Photo: The Quint



K.M. Rakesh

The BJP is bent on conducting Ganesh Puja rituals at an Idgah in Hubli that has been a subject of multiple court cases, protests and violence.

Arvind Bellad, Hubli-Dharwad West MLA from the BJP, has issued an ultimatum to the state’s Congress government to facilitate Ganesh Puja at the Idgah Maidan, an open ground where Muslims hold mass prayers on Id-ul-Fitr and Id-ul-Zuha, on September 18.

Bellad has cited a precedent from last year, when Karnataka High Court had in a late night order allowed the festival to be held at the Idgah.

“We will install a Ganesh idol at the maidan even if the government denies permission,” Bellad, one of the younger lawmakers in the BJP, told reporters in Hubli on Wednesday.

He said that although the BJP-led city council had already decided to allow Ganesh Puja at the maidan, the municipal commissioner had sought the opinion of the state's new government before issuing the official order.

“The government is silent although the commissioner has sought instructions. Since the Ganesh Puja is a major religious event for Hindus, it is the demand of devotees that the idol be installed at the maidan,” Bellad said.

A Muslim cleric’s body — the Anjuman-e-Islam — had taken the 1.5-acre maidan on a 999-year lease from the municipality in 1921 and has been using it solely for Id prayers. On all other days, the maidan is used as a playground.

Last year, the civic body renamed the maidan as Kittur Rani Chennamma Maidan, and the then municipal commissioner issued permission for Ganesh Puja to be held at the site.

The Anjuman-e-Islam challenged the order in the high court but without success. Ganesh Puja was held on the maidan amid tight security and without incident.

The commissioner’s decision last year was based on a 2012 Supreme Court order that had upheld the civic council’s ownership claim to the land. The apex court had allowed Muslims to use the ground for prayers during Id-ul-Fitr and Id-ul-Zuha every year.

Mohammed Yusuf Savunur of the Anjuman-e-Islam told The Telegraph on Thursday that the organisation had again petitioned the high court against the city council’s decision to allow the ground to be used for Ganesh Puja.

The ground has been a source of communal tension since 1992, when the BJP and allied outfits demanded the right to hoist the national flag there on Republic Day. The agitation coincided with the Kanyakumari-to-Kashmir Ekta Yatra led by then BJP president Murali Manohar Joshi — and managed by a young Narendra Modi — whose objective was to hoist the national flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar.

The issue simmered until 1994. That year, violence broke out on Independence Day when BJP and Sangh Parivar workers thronged the spot to hoist the Tricolour, with five people killed in police firing.

BJP leaders Uma Bharti and B.S. Yediyurappa were among 21 politicians to be booked.


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The Omani-Mediated Talks In The Saudi Capital Increase Chances Of A Saudi-Houthi Deal


Iran-allied Houthi rebels chant slogans at the compound of the army's First Armored Division, after they took it over, in Sanaa, Yemen [File: Hani Mohammed/AP]


14 Sep 2023

Yemen’s Houthi rebels will head to Saudi Arabia amid efforts to negotiate a permanent ceasefire to end the long-running war in Yemen, according to the Saudi state news agency, a Houthi official and reports quoting diplomatic and government sources.

The visit, expected on Thursday night, raises hopes of a breakthrough in the quagmire conflict that has left hundreds of thousands dead through direct and indirect causes such as famine.

Saudi Arabia’s state news agency confirmed the visit on Thursday night, and said that the Houthis had been invited to Riyadh for ceasefire talks.

Ali al-Qhoom, a member of the Houthi political council, had earlier said the rebels’ delegation would fly to Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, on an Omani plane. A delegation from Oman, which has played the role of mediator, arrived in Yemen’s Houthi-held capital, Sanaa, on Thursday, according to Yemeni government officials.

“Optimism exists regarding the mediation and the Omani efforts to achieve peace in Yemen,” he posted on social media.

Al-Qhoom said talks will be focused on a full reopening of Houthi-controlled ports and Sanaa airport, payment of wages for public servants from oil revenues, rebuilding efforts, and a timeline for foreign forces to quit Yemen, among others. Sources speaking to the Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity also said the same. The topics are long-standing Houthi demands.

The visit comes five months after Saudi officials held talks in Sanaa and as a UN-brokered ceasefire continues to largely hold despite officially lapsing in October.

“There are preparations for a Houthi delegation to visit Riyadh within the next 72 hours,” a Yemeni government official familiar with the situation told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.

A Western diplomat in Yemen confirmed the visit, saying it may take place within the next two days. There was no immediate comment by Saudi officials.

Yemen was plunged into war when the Houthis seized control of Sanaa, in September 2014, prompting a military intervention led by Saudi Arabia the following March in an attempt to restore the country’s recognised government.

The ensuing fighting has forced millions from their homes, causing one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises in a country already pummelled by decades of conflict and upheaval.

The six-month ceasefire that expired last October is still mostly holding but moves towards peace have been slow since the Saudi delegation visited Sanaa in April.

Fear among Yemenis despite optimism

The head of the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies think tank, Majed al-Madhaji told AFP the Houthis’ visit “is like moving the relationship between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia from the back rooms to the living room”.

By organising talks in Riyadh, both sides are “legitimising this relationship and giving it an additional impetus”, he said.

“On the political level, it is an advanced step to end Saudi Arabia’s direct role in Yemen and for the Houthis to acknowledge its role as a mediator,” in addition to being one of the parties to the conflict.

According to London-based Yemen analyst Baraa Shiban, there has been a clear desire by Saudi officials to end what they feel is a long and exhausting conflict.

But for many Yemenis, the Saudi approach to end the war in Yemen is “a repetition of what the US did with the Taliban [in Afghanistan] – negotiating with one party to end the conflict rather than with all political factions”, said Shiban.

“This is self-defeating in the long run and many Yemenis fear it will end in total collapse,” he explained, adding that while the Saudis offer the Houthis incentives to end the war, they have been putting pressure on the Yemeni government, making it difficult to pay salaries and set budgets.

“In the short term, these talks are in the interest of the Yemeni people, but in the long run, they encourage the Houthis not to engage with the wider Yemeni public.

“This makes an imminent offensive by the Houthis on other Yemeni provinces possible once they feel comfortable that the Saudis have left,” he added.

Attempts at peace

Moves towards peace in Yemen have accelerated since heavyweight regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran announced a surprise rapprochement in a deal brokered by China in March, seven years after they broke off ties.

Iran says it supports the Houthis diplomatically and politically but denies providing them with any military aid, although seizures of alleged Iranian weapons headed to Yemen appear to contradict that claim.

Washington has put pressure on its traditional ally Saudi Arabia to end the war and linked some of its military support to the kingdom ending its involvement in Yemen.

Oman, which borders Yemen, has been trying for years to bridge differences between the warring parties, and more broadly between Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States.


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Libyan Authorities Say Floods May Have Killed 20,000 People


Two men comfort each other as people check the damage in Libya's eastern city of Derna on Sept. 14. Photo: Abdullah Doma/AFP via Getty Images


14 September 2023

Libyan authorities have demanded an investigation to see if the catastrophe that recently unfolded amid floods in the country killing thousands was caused by a human blunder.

Libyan officials on Thursday sought to dig deep into the reasons that led to the huge devastation, trying to see if the disaster could have been avoided.

Mohamed al-Menfi, president of the Libyan Presidential Council, said on X that the council had asked the attorney general to investigate the disaster.

"Those whose actions or failure to act were responsible for the failure of the dam should be held accountable, along with anyone who held up aid," he said.

A torrent unleashed by a powerful Mediterranean storm Daniel burst dams on Sunday night in the port city of Derna, sending waves as high as 20 feet, washing multi-story buildings with sleeping residents inside.

Torrential rainfall from Mediterranean storm Daniel caused two dams to collapse, sending waves more than 20 feet high through the Libyan port city of Derna, killing thousands. Photo by AFP)

Up to 20,000 people are feared dead. The figures have been confirmed by the Mayor of Derna, Abdulmenam al-Ghaithi who said deaths in the city could have reached 18,000-20,000, based on the extent of the damage.

Al-Ghaithi told Reuters he was afraid the city would now be infected with an epidemic, "due to the large number of bodies under the rubble and in the water".

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the huge loss of life could have been avoided if Libya had a functioning weather agency in place.

"If there would have been a normally operating meteorological service, they could have issued warnings," WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalashe said in Geneva.

Other commentators drew attention to warnings given in advance, including an academic paper last year by a hydrologist outlining the city's vulnerability to floods and the urgent need to maintain the dams that protected it.

"The emergency management authorities would have been able to carry out evacuation of the people. And we could have avoided most of the human casualties," Taalashe added.

The agency said that it had issued warnings 72 hours before the dams collapsed, including contacting the Libyan authorities and making statements to the media.

A day before the storm hit Libya, the city mayor had addressed a press conference saying that some areas surrounding the dam should be evacuated. But an emergency committee formed by the eastern government’s Interior Ministry ordered curfews instead.

A spokesperson at the mayor's office said that the city’s dam had not been maintained since 2008 due to Libya’s fractious politics.

While the investigations start, the survivors will have to battle the aftermath of the catastrophe.

Ghaithi said he was afraid the city would now be infected with an epidemic, "due to the large number of bodies under the rubble and in the water".

A destroyed vehicle in a devastated neighbourhood in the eastern city of Derna. (Photo by AFP)

According to the International Organization for Migration, around 30,000 people from Derna are displaced.

A government official estimated Wednesday that 25% of the city was completely destroyed or washed away.

Experts say the enormous task of providing immediate aid and then rebuilding Derna is complicated because of a decade of civil war, which has left two rival governments ruling eastern and western Libya.

Derna is controlled by the Libyan National Army, run by Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter and based in the eastern city of Tobruk. The rest of the country is run by the Government of National Unity based in the capital, Tripoli, in the west.

The North African country with a population of about 7 million people is divided with no government holding nationwide reach since a NATO-backed uprising toppled the country’s leader Muammar Gaddafi’s government in 2011.


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Shia Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr Praises Iraqi Officers Who Allowed Protesters To Burn Down Sweden's Embassy In Baghdad


Iraqi protesters stormed the Swedish embassy in Baghdad twice in July, starting fires within the compound on the second occasion. [Getty]


14 September, 2023

Influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, on Wednesday, 13 September, condemned the Iraqi government for detaining 28 officers from the Iraqi security forces, who are being punished for not protecting the Swedish embassy in Baghdad from being attacked and torched in July during protests against the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Quran, in Sweden. 

The protest was called by supporters of Al-Sadr ahead of an expected burning of the Quran by Iraqi refugee Salwan Momika in Sweden.

Families and relatives of 28 Iraqi officers sent a letter to Sadr on Wednesday, saying the Iraqi government had imprisoned the officers and fired them from duty because these men did not confront angry Iraqi protestors in front of the Swedish embassy in Baghdad.

The families also wrote that the officers, through their stance, contributed to "protecting the Quran '' and urged Sadr to support their sons.

In response, Sadr, with his handwriting, praised what he described as "the brave stance" by the officers, and he "would never forget" the position they took.

Sadr also denounced the Iraqi government for punishing the officers and accused the government of "being far away from the Quran…and indulged in corruption."

Iraqi protesters stormed the Swedish embassy twice in Baghdad in July, starting fires within the compound on the second occasion.

Sweden-based Iraqi refugee Salwan Momika, 37, stepped on the Quran and burned pages outside Stockholm's main mosque in June. Momika also burnt the Iraqi flag.

While condemning the storming of the embassy, in which nobody was hurt, the Iraqi government also moved to sever ties with Sweden after Sadr challenged it to take "a firm position".

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani has recalled Iraq's envoy to Stockholm and instructed the Swedish ambassador in Baghdad to leave Iraqi territory on 20 July.

The decision was "prompted by the Swedish government's repeated permission for the burning of the Holy Quran, insulting Islamic sanctities and the burning of the Iraqi flag", Sudani's office said.

Baghdad has asked Sweden to extradite Momika, his lawyer told AFP on Tuesday.

"Iraq wants him extradited because he burnt a Quran outside the mosque (in Stockholm) in June," lawyer David Hall told AFP after Swedish police questioned Momika about the extradition request.

"To be extradited to another country, the law (in Sweden) dictates that the crime has to be a crime in Sweden and Iraq," Hall said.

Burning Islam's holy book "is not a crime in Sweden, so Sweden can't extradite him."

The Swedish government has condemned the desecrations of the Quran but upheld the country's laws regarding freedom of speech and assembly.

Momika has burned Quran at a slew of protests in Sweden since June, sparking widespread outrage and condemnation in Muslim countries.


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Pakistan, Afghanistan Discuss Collaboration To Combat Terrorism


Afghan and Pakistani nationals walk through a security barrier to cross the border as a national flag of Pakistan and a Taliban flag is masted in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing point in Chaman on August 24, 2021. (AFP/File)


September 15, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The participants of the second Pakistan-Afghanistan Civil Society Conference on Exploring Approaches for Regional Peace and Stability discussed the need for a joint strategy to counter proxy terrorist organisations.

According to a press release, the participants at the conference organised by the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) in collaboration with its Afghan partner, the Organisation for Economic Studies and Peace (OESP), emphasised the importance of addressing security threats posed by groups like Al-Qaeda, TTP, and IS to the entire region.

While acknowledging the tension in Chitral as a serious security challenge, the forum recognised the need to understand the mentalities of these extremist groups to be able to cope with them and encouraged diplomatic engagement to resolve issues instead of media allegations and blame games.

The dialogue brought together prominent civil society stakeholders from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan to discuss pressing issues and potential approaches oriented towards solutions. Despite ongoing border closures, the dialogue demonstrated a commitment to cooperation and moving in the right direction.

It was agreed that only through a collective approach and joint strategy can Pakistan and Afghanistan eliminate the threats jeopardising regional security and foster economic cooperation and connectivity. In the interest of trade and people-to-people relationships between Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as the region at large, socio-economic life should be insulated from political disputes.

Moreover, it was discussed that while the informal actors of diplomacy may not have the mandate to solve problems of bilateral or regional concern, they can still generate actionable recommendations and develop joint proposals necessary to inform the policy actors inside the formal channels of diplomacy and reach a solution.

The issue of Afghan girls’ education was also discussed and it was agreed that the issue must not be left to chance but must be the subject of conscious efforts to change the status quo.


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On A Complaint Filed By A Registered Qazi In Assam: 15 People Arrested For Conducting Child Marriages By Preparing Fake Documents

PTI Hailakandi (Assam), 14.09.23

Fifteen people were arrested in Assam's Hailakandi district for allegedly conducting child marriages by preparing fake documents, police said on Thursday.

Acting on a complaint filed by a registered qazi that 16 people were involved in conducting child marriages by posing as qazis, an operation was launched in different parts of the district on Wednesday, they said.

Initially, 16 persons were taken into custody but one was let off due to lack of evidence, Additional SP Shamir Daptari Baruah said.

The arrested persons are accused of conducting child marriages by preparing fake documents, he said.

The arrests were made from Hailakandi town, Panchgram, Katlicherra, Algapur, Lala, Ramnathpur and Bilaipur areas of the district, Baruah said.

The arrested persons were produced in a court, and remanded to police custody for interrogation.

The state government began a massive crackdown on child marriage in February, arresting over 4,000 people.


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Keep Hindu signs found in Gyanvapi survey in DM custody, says Varanasi court

Sep 15, 2023

VARANASI: District judge Ajay Krishna Vishvesha on Thursday ordered to keep all signs and evidence of a Hindu temple being found in the on-going Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) scientific study and survey of Gyanvapi mosque in the custody of the district magistrate or an officer nominated by him.

Disposing of three applications moved by Rakhi Singh, the main plaintiff in Shringar Gauri worship case (suit no. 18/2022), he issued the order on the plea seeking preservation of signs and evidence of a Hindu temple," Rakhi Singh's lawyers Saurabh Tiwari and Anupam Dwivedi told TOI.

"However, the district judge disposed of two other applications seeking restricting the number of namazis in Gyanvapi and also sealing and protecting the areas where Hindu signs and symbols found in the previous advocate commissioner survey and also in the on-going ASI Survey till the disposal of the suit, without making any comment though we presented our objections in detail," said Akhlaque Ahmed, the counsel for Anjuman Intezamia Masajid (the Gyanvapi mosque management committee).

The court order delivered on Thursday contained, “The survey of the property in question (Gyanvapi mosque) is being conducted by ASI by applying scientific meth- ods. ASI will give all those arti- cles found during ASI survey and are important due to being concerned to the fact of the case, Hindu religion, worshipping methods, historical or archaeo- logical importance, and help in the disposal of the case, in the custody of DM or the officer nominated by him. The custo- dian officer will keep such arti- cles safe and produce before the court whenever it would be summoned by the court.” The court also ordered the ASI to prepare a list of all the articles found during its survey and also provide a copy of it to the court and the DM.

In suit no. 18/2022 five wom- en plaintiffs are seeking regular worship of Shringar Gauri and other deities in Gyanvapi mosque compound. With the progress in hearing of the case and also the ASI survey in view of July 21 order of the district judge, the lawyers of the main plaintiff had moved three appli- cations while lawyer of the oth- er four women plaintiffs Vishnu Jain had moved an application to seek preserving of evidence being recovered in the ongoing ASI survey in a safe storeroom. In view of the lawyers’ strike, hearing on the application of the four women plaintiffs could not take place on Wednesday and the court had fixed Septem- ber 21 as next date for hearing. On the three applications of Rakhi Singh, the court had re- served its order which was de- livered on Thursday


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Manesar was in constant touch with other accused in killing of cousins, Nasir and Junaid: Cops

15th September 2023

By HarpreetBajwaExpress News Service

CHANDIGARH:  Cow vigilante Monu Manesar reportedly played a crucial role in the double murder of cousin brothers, Nasir and Junaid from Rajasthan and he was in constant touch with more than 20 other accused in the case through WhatsApp, according to police.

During interrogation, it was revealed that the attack on Nasir and Junaid was pre-planned and the accused had shared their travel plan and vehicle number through a WhatsApp group, police said. Manesar is an active member of the said WhatsApp group.

WhatsApp chats show that Manesar was not just aware of the attack but also was contacted by other accused when the duo died, police said. He was in close contact with Rinku Saini, an accused who told cops that a gaurakshak had assured him not to panic even after the killing of the two. The attack on Nasir and Junaid was planned eight days before the killing. When the accused could not recover any bovine, they beat them, police said.

Manesar’s arrest has created resentment among right-wing outfits which have accused Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar of betraying them for votes. There are reports that members of Bajrang Dal in Gurugram and Nuh have started quitting citing witch-hunting.

“We never thought that that BJP would succumb to the political pressure and arrest Monu Manesar who has always promoted cow safety. This is done by CM Khattar himself. The way they are focusing on Monu Manesar and Bittu Bajrangi, they should have focused on Mewat and the cow smugglers in that region,” said Bharat Bhushan, state coordinator of Bajrang Dal, Haryana.


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Bilkis Bano gangrape case convicts got parole several times: Supreme Court

15th September 2023

By ShrutiKakkarExpress News Service

NEW DELHI: The convicts in the Bilkis Bano case had the privilege of being released on parole for several days and several times, a Supreme Court bench observed on Thursday while considering a batch of pleas challenging their early release.

Eleven persons, convicted in the case and had been serving jail terms, were prematurely released on August 15, 2022, following a decision by the Gujarat government. A bench of Justices BV Nagarathna and UjjalBhuyan said that it was only considering the “correctness” of the Gujarat government’s decision to release the convicts early.

When senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, the counsel for Ramesh RupabhaiChandana who was one of the convicts, argued that life in jail is a completely cut-off one, the bench remarked, “In this case, they had the privilege of coming out for several days altogether, several times. There are some convicts, who are more privileged than others.”

“Fifteen years in custody. There has to be an ability to pay. I must tell your lordships the reality. The issue is, that life in jail is a completely cut-off life. You are away from home. You are reduced to labour. You have no sources,” Luthra said. Regarding the court’s remarks on “privilege”, he urged the court to consider individual circumstances and view how they have reformed.

“Every convict is not the same and must be looked at with a different approach, through the lens of reformation and on the basis of individual circumstances. They can’t be painted with the same brush. The question is, should these people be deprived of liberty on the basis of considerations not germane to the executive arrangement?” Luthra asked.

The court, during the hearing, also said, “Today, we are considering the correctness of the grant of remission. Very rarely is a grant of remission assailed,” it said. Luthra told the court that the trial court had consciously kept the possibility of reformation open by not awarding the convicts with the death penalty.

Bilkis Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was gang-raped while fleeing the horror of the communal riots that broke out after the Godhra train-burning incident.

Her three-year-old daughter was among the seven family members killed in the riots.


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Maulana Badruddin Ajmal throws weight behind INDIA alliance

15th September 2023

By PrasantaMazumdarExpress News Service

Dhubri MP Maulana Badruddin Ajmal said his minority-based All India United Democratic Front would like to support the opposition bloc INDIA to defeat BJP-led NDA in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.“We will ask our supporters to vote for INDIA. We are ready for any kind of sacrifice to ensure INDIA victory,” Ajmal said. However, Congress has reservations against joining the AIUDF as it fears a possible attempt by the saffron camp to “polarise” the voters. “We had supported Congress in the last Lok Sabha elections in the Nagaon seat. PradyutBordoloi [of Congress] won,” Ajmal said. Talking about the upcoming general elections, he said, AIUDF will contest three seats like the last time and win all three.

The Assam government has decided to construct a “Unity Mall” in Guwahati at a cost of Rs 226 crore. The idea is to promote national integration, “One District, One Product” and carry forward the concept of “Make in India”. The mall will have 35 showrooms for all states/Union Territories and as many showrooms for every district of Assam. The food courts will offer cuisines from all parts of India. According to the government, the mall will provide a platform for marketing of  GI products of the state and promote “Made in Assam” products.

IPS officer among 6 cops held for extorting money

Recently, a CID team of Assam Police arrested over half a dozen cops, including an IPS officer and two Assam Police Service officers, for allegedly extorting money from a businessman from Bajali in western Assam. A huge amount of cash and 21 blank bank cheques which the businessman had “given to the

cops” were recovered. Even as the inquiry into this case was on, another case surfaced of an Additional Superintendent of Police allegedly torturing her domestic help and going into hiding. Subhalakshmi Dutta, the accused, surrendered before the police later. She went into hiding after her domestic help Anima Praja had lodged a complaint with the police alleging that the officer tortured her and even tried to kill her.


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Special NIA court hands death sentence to two ISIS men for killing retired principal in UP

14th September 2023

By Namita BajpaiExpress News Service

LUCKNOW: The special court of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Lucknow, on Thursday, pronounced a death sentence to two terror accused Atif Muzaffar (29) and Mohammed Faisal Khan (30) associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The two were held guilty of killing a retired school principal Ram Babu Shukla in fulfilment and furtherance of the ISIS agenda by spreading fear and terror among the people.

The special court also slapped a penalty of Rs 5 lakh on both the accused. The verdict was delivered by Special Judge NIA Court Dinesh Kumar Mishra. The two accused were booked and tried under sections of IPC 302 (murder), 120 B (criminal conspiracy), along with sections of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

Both Atif and Faisal were also named in the terror attack case related to the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train on March 7, 2017, leaving scores of passengers on board injured.

The two accused were caught by the UP Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) during an encounter in the old Lucknow city area in March 2017 during which another accomplice Saifullah was gunned down. Besides Atif Muzaffar and Mohammad Faisal Khan, the ATS had also arrested Ghaus Mohammad Khan, Azhar, Mohammad Danish, Sayyad Mir, Hussain and Asif Iqbal.

However, the death sentence to Atif Muzaffar and Mohammad Faisal Khan has been given in connection with the murder of Ram Babu Shukla, a retired principal of a school in Kanpur.

Shukla had retired as principal of Swami AtmaprakashBrahmchari Junior High School in Kanpur. On October 24, 2016, he was shot dead by the two accused near village Pyondi in Kanpur while he was returning home on a bicycle. The case was handed over to the NIA in November, 2017. Atif worked at a mobile repair store while Faisal was working at a general store.

After the investigations, the NIA revealed that the accused were radicalised by the ISIS ideology and were out to kill people whom they believed to be disbelievers of Islam (Qafirs). The NIA had filed a chargesheet against the two accused on July 12, 2018 stating that the accused attacked Shukla in a ‘lone wolf’ style.

The NIA also revealed that the two had planned to bomb PM Modi’s Dussehra rally in Lucknow in 2016.

The NIA had stated in the chargesheet that both Atif and Faisal had visited West Bengal and Kerala to procure arms for training and bomb making. The two had also tried to visit Syria via Pakistan.


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 Congress MLA Mamman Khan arrested over Nuh violence; mobile internet suspended, section 144 imposed to prevent any disturbance of peace

PTI Chandigarh, Gurugram, 15.09.23

Congress MLA Mamman Khan has been arrested in connection with the July 31 Nuh violence case, police said on Friday, as the administration imposed prohibitory orders under section 144 in the district and suspended mobile Internet services for two days.

The Ferozepur Jhirka legislator, who was named as an accused in an FIR lodge after the communal clashes, was arrested late last night. The charges in the FIR, among others, include promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion.

Satish Kumar, Ferozepur Jhirkha Deputy Superintendent of Police and the head of the Special Investigation Team investigating the case, confirmed the arrest. "Yes," he said, when asked if the MLA has been arrested.

Senior Congress MLA from Nuh Aftab Ahmed said, "The police have given information to us that he has been arrested." Nuh Assistant Superintendent of Police Usha Kundu said Khan is being produced in a city court. "Section 144 has been imposed in the district till further orders." In an order, Home Department Additional Chief Secretary T V S N Prasad said mobile Internet and bulk SMS services have been suspended "in order to stop the spread of misinformation and rumours through various social media platforms, such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter".

"This order is issued to prevent any disturbance of peace and public order in the jurisdiction of district Nuh in the state of Haryana and shall be in force with effect from September 15 (10:00hrs) to September 16 (23:59hrs)," said the order.

Prasad said the decision to suspend the services was taken after the Nuh deputy commissioner wrote to him on Thursday expressing apprehension there could be tension, agitation, damage of public and private property, and disturbance of peace and tranquillity in the district.

"In order to stop the spread of misinformation and rumours through various social media platforms, such as WhatsApp, Facebook Twitter, etc. on mobile phones and SMS, for facilitation and mobilisation of mobs of agitators and demonstrators who can cause serious loss of life and damage to public and private properties by indulging in arson or vandalism and other types of violent activities, the mobile internet has been suspended," Prasad said.

"I do hereby order the suspension of the mobile internet services(2G/3G/4G/5G/CDMA/GPRS), bulk SMS (excluding banking and mobile recharge) and all dongle services etc. provided on mobile networks except the voice calls in the jurisdiction of district Nuh of Haryana State," Prasad further said.

Sources, meanwhile, said security has been tightened across the district, especially in and around the court complex in Nuh where Khan is expected to be produced by the police later in the day.

A Vishva Hindu Parishad-led procession was attacked by mobs in Nuh on July 31. Six people were killed, most of them during the attack. A cleric died in an attack on a mosque in adjoining Gurugram.

The Ferozepur Jhirka MLA had moved the court on Tuesday, seeking protection from arrest claiming he was being framed in the case when he wasn't even in Nuh the day the violence broke out.

During a hearing on Thursday, Haryana's Additional Advocate General Deepak Sabharwal told the High Court that Khan was named an accused on September 4 after the evidence against him was evaluated. There was "ample evidence" against him, he later told reporters on Thursday.

The MLA's counsel had told reporters after the hearing that Khan has only now come to know that he has been named in the FIR. The court had said Khan can seek appropriate remedy "for protection of liberty in accordance with law", the counsel had said.

Earlier, the MLA was asked twice by the Nuh Police to join the investigation but he failed to appear before it. He did not comply with the police summons for August 31, saying he had a viral fever.

Several FIRs were registered after the violence including one at a police station in Nuh on August 1. Khan had been given a notice under section 160 of the CrPC (requiring his presence before police) in connection with the August 1 FIR.

In his petition, Khan stated that he was at his Gurugram residence between July 26 to August 1 and did not go to the places where the violence had occurred.

But the government's counsel had said after the hearing that Khan's call detail records, his phone tower location, his personal security officer's statement and other evidence falsified his claim.

The counsel said phone call details and tower locations of Khan and Taufiq, another accused who was arrested on September 9, were examined. It was found that calls were exchanged between them on July 29 and 30, a day ahead of July 31 violence, he had said.

A total of 52 people were named as accused in the FIR dated August 1 registered under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code at Nagina Police Station of Nuh. Forty-two of them were already arrested, according to officials.

The charges in the FIR include promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc.

The government counsel also claimed Khan purportedly posted on WhatsApp as well as on Facebook on July 30 that "nobody needs to worry as the petitioner had fought for them in the Vidhan Sabha".

Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had addressed the Mamman Khan case at a press conference in Chandigarh on Wednesday. "If during investigations he is found involved then he will not be spared," he had said.


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Iran vows to respond 'resolutely' to Israel's threats, unlawful acts

15 September 2023

Iran has vowed to respond "resolutely" to any threats and unlawful acts that could be directed towards the Islamic Republic on the part of the Israeli regime.

Amir SaeidIravani, Iran’s permanent ambassador to the United Nations, made the remarks in a letter addressed to Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres and the UN Security Council President FeritHoxha on Thursday.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has consistently and unequivocally stated that it will not hesitate to exercise its inherent and legitimate rights to defend its security and national interests, as well as to protect its people," the Iranian envoy said.

The comments came less than a week after David Barnea, head of the Israeli spy agency Mossad, alleged that the agency had foiled 27 anti-Israel attacks "orchestrated, masterminded, and directed by Iran" over the past year.

"The time has come to exact a price from Iran in a different way," Barnea said, threatening to target Iran's "highest the heart of Tehran."

Iravani rejected the Israeli spymaster's claim against Iran of serving as a source of anti-Israeli attacks as "baseless allegations" and "unfounded claims."

The ambassador considered the threat verbalized subsequently by Barnea to be another instance of "the Israeli regime’s ongoing violations of international law against Iran."

These "claims primarily serve to divert attention from the hostile and malevolent policies that this occupying and apartheid regime pursues in the region, notably the daily ongoing atrocities carried out by this regime against the Palestinian people," noted the envoy.

The Israeli regime, he added, uses such accusations as a pretext to try to justify its illegal actions against other nations and sovereign states.

Such hostile statements as the ones that were made by the Israeli official "serve as a clear illustration of the acts of terrorism this illegitimate regime has always used to maintain its existence," Iravani stated.

The envoy's response to Barnea's claims followed one delivered by Hossein Salami, chief commander of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

Speaking on Wednesday, the commander warned Israel that threats against the Islamic Republic would only shorten the occupying regime’s lifespan.

"Go ahead if your previous assassination operations have increased your security. However, you should know that if you make threats against [Iran’s] security, we will have more options and your life will be cut short," he said, addressing Israeli officials.


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Palestinian-Americans accuse Israel of bias at borders

September 15, 2023

JERUSALEM: A visa-free travel deal between Israel and the United States has raised hopes of easier journeys for Palestinian-Americans, but many still complain of discrimination by Israeli authorities.

The aim of the reciprocal agreement reached in July was for all Americans “to be recognized by Israel as US citizens and receive equal treatment” regardless of their origins, the US State Department said.

It paved the way for some Palestinian-Americans to finally land at Israel’s Ben Gurion international airport — which has been off limits to most of them for years — rather than travel overland from Jordan.

However, despite progress on paper, Palestinian-Americans have complained of unequal treatment in a series of interviews AFP conducted in the United States and the Palestinian territories.

Hanna Hanania, a board member of the US Palestinian Council advocacy group, described the change at arrivals in Ben Gurion airport as an “improvement for everybody.”

But, as he headed back to the US state of Virginia, he said he faced “total profiling” by Israeli officials who searched his car and insisted on seeing his Palestinian passport.

Jerusalem-born Hanania said he was also directed to a queue for additional security checks where he charged that “discrimination (was) very clear.”

“Almost everybody in line one was speaking Arabic,” he told AFP. “You can very clearly tell that it’s mainly Palestinians or Arabs.”

Israel’s immigration authority did not immediately respond to a request to comment on the complaints.

More than 5,400 Palestinian-Americans have arrived in Israel since July 20, according to the Population and Immigration Authority.

Washington is now contemplating whether to admit Israel into its coveted visa waiver program, with a decision due by September 30.

New York police officer Haidar Darwish, 38, landed in mid-August and said he was denied a three-month visa without a reason, instead being granted a month-long stay.

“This is not fair,” Darwish said from the West Bank city of Ramallah.

“If they want to proceed with this visa (waiver program), they need to treat us exactly the way they get treated when they get to the US.”

Several Palestinian-Americans said they had complained about mistreatment to the US embassy in Jerusalem, which declined an AFP interview request.

In the West Bank village of TurmusAyya, known for its sizeable American population, Abed Ijbar has sought advice from his neighbors before he returns to Tennessee later this month.

“(It’s) the checkpoints from the West Bank to the airport that are driving them crazy,” the 50-year-old said.

Neighbours warned Ijbar to leave hours early, recounting that they had been directed through multiple checkpoints before being searched and finally allowed to cross.

COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry body responsible for civil affairs in the occupied West Bank, said security checks are conducted at crossings and anyone with a tourist visa can pass.

The visa waiver program has so far focused on those with ties to the West Bank but was on Monday extended to the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip.

Palestinian-Americans traveling to Gaza face more restrictions than those in the West Bank, under the rules announced by the US embassy.

There has been disappointment among Gazans living in the United States, who from Monday can fly to Tel Aviv but not travel onwards to the coastal territory.

Lara Abu Hamda, 18, tried unsuccessfully in July to cross from Jordan to Israel for the onward land journey to Gaza.

“I don’t get it,” she said. “I am American. Even though I was born in Gaza and I have a Gaza ID, why would it matter?“

Israel’s immigration authority said entry has been denied to 10 Gazan-Americans, who were not yet included in the scheme, as well as three US citizens from the West Bank.

A Gazan artist living in Chicago, who requested anonymity due to security concerns, said he was held at a detention facility outside Tel Aviv airport.

He ultimately underwent thorough security checks, before being escorted to a flight without any belongings except his credit cards.

In his 30s, the artist said he was still trying to “detox from all the stress and anxiety that I’ve gathered in those 48 hours, being treated like a suspect.”

For those living in Gaza, obtaining permission to leave through Israel is incredibly difficult.

As a result, most make the arduous and costly journey across Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Now, another way has potentially opened for those with US citizenship.

In Gaza City, Saeed Araf Shaath said his family is “very, very excited” at the prospect of finally being able to enter Israel through the Erez crossing as Palestinian-Americans, and fly out from Ben Gurion airport.

Americans living in Gaza must still apply for a travel permit, which COGAT said allows them to travel onwards through “any international border crossing.”

Shaath’s 23-year-old daughter Zainah described why she wants to be able to cross through Erez and board a plane in Ben Gurion: “We need our own freedom, and to have a normal life.”


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Israeli MKs Call for Easing Prison Conditions of Convicted Jewish Terrorist

September 14, 2023

In a controversial move that has sparked outrage and condemnation, 14 lawmakers from the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition have called for the easing of prison conditions for Amiram Ben Uliel, a Jewish terrorist convicted of a heinous attack in the West Bank in 2015.

A Grisly Crime

Ben Uliel was found guilty in 2020 of three counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder, arson, and conspiring to commit a racially motivated crime as part of a terrorist act. He had carried out a deadly firebombing in the West Bank village of Duma, resulting in the tragic deaths of Riham and Saad Dawabsha and their 18-month-old son, Ali Saad. Only the couple’s elder son, Ahmed, survived the attack but sustained extensive burns. The brutality of the attack had sparked international outrage at the time.

The 14 lawmakers, representing various parties including Likud, Jewish Power party, Religious Zionism, United Torah Judaism, and Shas, penned a letter to Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar, requesting that Ben Uliel be moved out of solitary confinement to a prison wing for religious convicts, which is considered to offer better conditions. They urged that this move remain in effect “for at least” the upcoming Jewish High Holidays, scheduled this year from Friday at sundown through the first week of October.

The signatories of the letter include prominent Likud lawmakers NissimVaturi, Tally Gotliv, KetiShitrit, Ariel Kallner, EliyahuRevivo, EttyAtia, AvichayBuaron, and Amit Halevy. Additionally, members of Otzma Yehudit, United Torah Judaism, Religious Zionism, and Shas also supported the request.

This move by the lawmakers is believed to be deeply troubling and undermines the rule of law. The firebombing of the Dawabsha family was considered one of the most heinous acts of Jewish terror in recent years and had led to official promises to crack down on Jewish extremism in the West Bank. However, Jewish terrorists still act with impunity, particularly under the current hard-right government.

Settler Violence in the West Bank

The incident also sheds light on the ongoing issue of settler violence in the West Bank. According to Al Jazeera, between 2010 and 2019, nearly 3,000 Israeli settler attacks killed at least 22 Palestinians and injured over 1,200 others across the occupied West Bank. These attacks ranged from physical assaults and stone-throwing to vandalism, arson, shootings, and stabbings, often targeting Palestinian homes, cars, farms, and mosques.

Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem reported that in 2020, there were 771 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians, marking a 78 percent increase from the previous year. In many cases, the Israeli occupation failed to hold the perpetrators accountable. Some instances even suggested collusion or enablement of settler violence by the Israeli occupation forces.

Influence of Israeli Politicians

The settler violence has also been fueled by the political support and encouragement from some Israeli politicians, especially from the right-wing parties that are part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition. For instance, Bezalel Smotrich, the Israeli finance minister who also handles civil administration in the occupied West Bank, said Huwara should be “wiped out.” Smotrich is also one of the signatories of a letter that demanded better prison conditions for Amiram Ben Uliel.

Settler violence is typically driven by ideological or religious motivations, aimed at expanding Israeli presence and control over the West Bank. Jewish extremists advocate for the expulsion or elimination of Palestinians from the region.


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Dozens of Israeli Settlers Invade Al-Aqsa Mosque

September 14, 2023

Under the protection of Israeli occupation forces, groups of Israeli settlers invaded the Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyards on Wednesday, September 14, 2023.

According to local sources, the settlers entered Al-Aqsa in successive groups through the Moroccan Gate and conducted provocative tours within its courtyards.

They received explanations about the alleged “Temple” and performed Talmudic rituals in the area of the Asbat Gate, located opposite the Dome of the Rock.

Israeli occupation forces deployed their personnel and special units in the courtyards of Al-Aqsa and at its entrances to secure the settlers’ incursions and restrict the movement of Palestinians in the precincts of the holy site.

Restrictions on Muslims’ Entry

The Israeli occupation forces have been imposing restrictions on the entry of Muslim and Palestinian worshippers coming from Jerusalem and the occupied territories to the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.

They meticulously check their identities and detain some of them at the external gates.

Daily, Israeli settlers invade the Al-Aqsa Mosque under the protection of occupation forces to assert full control over the holy site, both spatially and temporally.

The so-called “Temple Mount groups” continue to call for the largest possible number of settlers to storm Al-Aqsa Mosque during the upcoming Jewish holidays, set to begin later this month.

The Jewish holidays begin with “Rosh Hashanah,” which falls on Saturday and Sunday, September 16th and 17th of the current year. This is followed by the “Ten Days of Repentance,” during which incursions intensify. Then comes “Yom Kippur” on Monday, the 25th of the same month, followed by “Sukkot,” which starts on Saturday, September 30th, and continues until Saturday, October 7th of the upcoming month.


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Health of Palestinian Hunger-Striking Prisoners Deteriorates

September 14, 2023

The Commission Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs expressed on Thursday, September 14, 2023, grave concern over the deteriorating health conditions of two hunger-striking prisoners, Maher Al-Akhras and Kaid Al-Fasfous, who are currently held under harsh detention conditions.

The Commission highlighted the dire situation of Maher Al-Akhras, a 52-year-old detainee who has been on a hunger strike for the past 23 days.

Al-Akhras is suffering from excruciating pain throughout his body, including severe heartaches, stomach pains, and dizziness.

Additionally, he lost a significant amount of weight during his hunger strike.

The authority further revealed that Al-Akhras is struggling with high blood pressure but refuses to take his medication and supplements until his administrative detention order is terminated.

Maher Al-Akhras, a former prisoner who spent five years in Israeli jails, is also a father of six.

Meanwhile, Kaid Al-Fasfous, another hunger-striking prisoner, is facing extreme fatigue and exhaustion.

His mobility has become extremely challenging, making it impossible for him to walk or stand.

Al-Fasfous is also experiencing pain throughout his body, dizziness, and a lack of balance. His deteriorating health has prevented him from meeting with his lawyer.

The Commission disclosed that they have submitted an appeal to the “Ofer” military court, which is under Israeli control, regarding the administrative detention order issued against Al-Fasfous. However, a hearing date has yet to be scheduled.

Kaid Al-Fasfous, 34 years old and from the city of Dura in Hebron, was re-arrested by the Israeli occupation in May of the previous year. He had previously served approximately seven years in Israeli prisons, with his confrontations with detention dating back to 2007.

Currently, the Israeli occupation holds around 5,200 Palestinian prisoners in 23 prisons, detention centers, and investigation facilities.

Among these detainees are 36 women and 170 minors. Additionally, there are 700 ailing prisoners who suffer due to the policy of medical neglect and 1,264 administrative detainees.


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Iraq-Turkiye oil pipeline ready to resume operations soon

September 15, 2023

ANKARA: Iraq’s northern oil export route through Turkiye will soon be ready to resume operation after checks on pipeline maintenance and repairs to flood damage, the Turkish energy minister said.

A survey of the oil pipeline is complete and it will soon be “technically” ready for operation, AlparslanBayraktar said.

Turkiye halted flows on Iraq’s northern oil export route on March 25 after an arbitration ruling by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) ordered Ankara to pay Baghdad damages for unauthorized exports by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) between 2014 and 2018.

Turkiye then started maintenance work on the pipeline, which goes through a seismically active zone and which it says has been damaged by floods.

“As of today, the independent surveyor completed their survey and now they’re preparing their report,” Bayraktar said without mentioning a date for resumption of oil flows, in an embargoed press briefing held by the ministry on Thursday.

Iraq and Turkiye previously agreed to wait until maintenance works were complete before resuming the pipeline that contributes about 0.5 percent of global oil supply. Sources said oil flows are not expected to start before October, with KRG losing roughly $4 billion in lost exports.

Turkiye also calculates Iraq owes $950 million as a result of ICC arbitration, net of damages Turkiye has to pay Iraq.

Ankara will also file in the Paris court for a “set-aside case,” Bayraktar said. Iraq opened an enforcement case against Turkiye in a US federal court in April, to enforce a $1.5 billion arbitration award.

“As two neighboring countries, we need to find an amicable solution. But from the legality perspective, we need to take care of our interests. Most likely in the future we might face another court challenge. But the pipeline will be operational technically. It is more or less ready and we will start the operation soon,” Bayraktar said.

Ankara wants Baghdad to withdraw a second arbitration case covering the period from 2018 onward, and negotiate a reduced payment. Turkiye also wants Irbil and Baghdad to agree on a common position and negotiate the continuance of the pipeline agreement, which is set to expire in 2026.


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Iran slams E3's decision to retain sanctions in violation of JCPOA

14 September 2023

Iran has denounced a decision by Britain, France, and Germany to retain their ballistic missile- and nuclear-related sanctions against the Islamic Republic in violation of a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world countries.

The sanctions were due to expire next month under the agreement, which is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The European trio, aka the E3, which is part of the deal, however, announced on Thursday that they intended to keep the bans beyond the deadline.

Reacting to the decision shortly afterward, Iran's Foreign Ministry said it considered it to be "an illegal measure," and contrary to the trio's commitments under the JCPOA and the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 -- that has endorsed the JCPOA.

"The decision amounts to a tension-building measure, which is taken in bad faith," read a statement by the ministry.

The European countries had cited three reasons for their decision, including their allegations that Iran has transferred drones to Russia, which is engaged in a war against Ukraine, as well as, what they call, the likelihood that Tehran might provide Moscow with ballistic missiles.

The Islamic Republic has roundly rejected both the allegations, citing its categorical rejection of the war.

The threesome European countries have also accused Iran of violating the JCPOA, referring to a number of legal nuclear countermeasures that the Islamic Republic began to take after the United States illegally left the JCPOA in 2018 and the three states failed to offer any compensation for the US's withdrawal.

The Foreign Ministry reminded that Iran began the countermeasures in line with the JCPOA's Articles 26 and 36 allowing the deal's participants to scale back their commitments should the other parties do the same.

It also noted that Iran launched the retaliatory steps after giving Washington and the E3 a year to make up for their violation of the JCPOA.

The statement, therefore, called the trio's decision "completely void of legal logic."

It called it "unacceptable" for the E3 to base their decision on "actions on the part of Iran that are completely legal and [were taken] in reaction to the US's withdrawal and the European trio's inaction."

"The European parties' measure will definitely be counterproductive for the efforts that are aimed at management of [existing] tensions...," the statement said.

The decision, it added, "is irreconcilable with the European parties' claim that they would try to create the necessary atmosphere for the revival of the JCPOA."

The ministry, meanwhile, cautioned that the Islamic Republic would respond to this "illegal and provocative" decision "in the appropriate manner and in line with its rights under the JCPOA."


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UAE will destabilize region with claims on Persian Gulf three islands: Leader’s advisor

15 September 2023

A top advisor to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has cautioned that the United Arab Emirates’ claims of ownership over the three islands of Abu Musa, the Greater Tunb, and the Lesser Tunb in the Persian Gulf will “destabilize the region’s security.”

Ali Akbar Velayati made the remarks in an interview with Qatar's Al Jazeera on Thursday, emphasizing that the three islands have historically been part of Iran, and are an integral part of the Iranian territory.

“The UAE’s claims regarding the three islands have created problems between two neighboring countries,” Velayati said. “We will not allow any false claims regarding the Persian Gulf to become a reality.”

“Repeated claims by the UAE about the three islands will destabilize the region’s security,” he added.

The veteran Iranian diplomat also pointed out that Tehran does not want conflict with neighboring countries, and “is keen on peace without compromising on the integrity of its lands.”

Iran has made it clear it will never give up its legitimate right to the islands, regardless of repetitive claims, vaguely worded statements, lobbying efforts, or even potential military threats.

He said countries in the region have “no alternative” other than to strengthen relations and settle differences.

“We’re convinced of the need to establish regional security and are ready to implement this with neighboring states,” Velayati noted.

The three Persian Gulf islands of Abu Musa, the Greater and Lesser Tunbs have historically been part of Iran, proof of which can be found and corroborated by countless historical, legal, and geographical documents in Iran and other parts of the world. However, the United Arab Emirates has repeatedly laid claim to the islands.

The islands fell under British control in 1921 but on November 30, 1971, a day after British forces left the region and just two days before the UAE was to become an official federation, Iran’s sovereignty over the islands was restored.

Iran has also responded to joint statements that some Arab organizations issue to support UAE's claim. Tehran summoned the Russian ambassador in July over a joint statement by Moscow and the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) about the three islands. 

The Iranian FM has blasted a recent joint statement by the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Russian Federation about the three Persian Gulf islands of Abu Musa, the Greater and Lesser Tunbs.

One of the latest reactions was on September 7 as the spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry roundly dismissed a joint statement from the ministerial meeting of Arab-Japan Political Dialogue about the islands, stressing that the trio are an eternal part of the Iranian territory.

Nasser Kan’ani said at the time that the statement lacked any political or legal value, and violated the principle of non-interference in domestic affairs of countries and respect for their territorial integrity.


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Libya buries thousands in mass graves after flood, mayor says death toll could triple

September 14, 2023

The Libyan city of Derna has buried thousands of people in mass graves, officials said Thursday, as search teams scoured ruins left by devastating floods and the city's mayor said the death toll could triple.

The deluge swept away entire families on Sunday night and exposed vulnerabilities in the oil-rich country that has been mired in conflict since a 2011 uprising that toppled long-ruling dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Health officials have confirmed 5,500 deaths and say 9,000 people are still missing.

Here's a look at the latest developments.


Daniel, an unusually strong Mediterranean storm, caused deadly flooding in towns across eastern Libya, but the worst-hit was Derna. As the storm pounded the coast Sunday night, residents said they heard loud explosions when two dams outside the city collapsed. Floodwaters washed down WadiDerna, a valley that cuts through the city, crashing through buildings and washing people out to sea.

A U.N. official said Thursday that most casualties could have been avoided.

"If there would have been a normal operating meteorological service, they could have issued the warnings," World Meteorological Organization head Petteri Taalas told reporters in Geneva. "The emergency management authorities would have been able to carry out the evacuation."

The WMO said earlier this week that the National Meteorological Center had issued warnings 72 hours before the flooding, notifying all governmental authorities by email and through media.

Officials in eastern Libya warned the public about the coming storm but did not suggest the dams could collapse or present an evacuation plan.


The startling devastation reflected the storm's intensity, but also Libya's vulnerability. Oil-rich Libya has been divided between rival governments for most of the past decade — one in the east, the other in the capital, Tripoli — and one result has been widespread neglect of infrastructure.

The two dams that collapsed outside Derna were built in the 1970s. A report by a state-run audit agency in 2021 said the dams had not been maintained despite the allocation of more than 2 million euros for that purpose in 2012 and 2013.

Libya's Tripoli-based Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah acknowledged the maintenance issues in a Cabinet meeting Thursday and called on the Public Prosecutor to open an urgent investigation into the dams' collapse.

The disaster brought a rare moment of unity, as government agencies across the country rushed to help the affected areas.

While the Tobruk-based government of east Libya is leading relief efforts, the Tripoli-based western government allocated the equivalent of $412 million for reconstruction in Derna and other eastern towns, and an armed group in Tripoli sent a convoy with humanitarian aid.


Derna has begun burying its dead, mostly in mass graves, said eastern Libya's health minister, Othman Abduljaleel.

More than 3,000 bodies were buried by Thursday morning, the minister said, while another 2,000 were still being processed. He said most of the dead were buried in mass graves outside Derna, while others were transferred to nearby towns and cities.

Abduljaleel said rescue teams were still searching wrecked buildings in the city center, and divers were combing the sea off Derna.

Untold numbers could be buried under drifts of mud and debris, including overturned cars and chunks of concrete, that rise up to four meters (13 feet) high. Rescuers have struggled to bring in heavy equipment as the floods washed out or blocked roads leading to the area.


Health authorities have put the death toll in Derna at 5,500 as of Thursday morning. The number of deaths is likely to climb as searches continue, and at least 9,000 people are still missing, said Ossama Ali, a spokesperson for an ambulance center in eastern Libya.

"Some bodies may not be found, especially those who were swept out to sea," he said.

Local officials suggested that the death toll could be much higher than announced. In comments to the Saudi-owned Al Arabia television station, Derna Mayor Abdel-Moneim al-Ghaithi said the tally could climb to 20,000 given the number of neighborhoods that were washed out.

An official with the U.N.'s World Health Organization in Libya said the fatalities could reach 7,000 because of the number of people who were still missing. The official was not authorized to brief media and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The storm also killed around 170 people in other parts of eastern Libya, including the towns of Bayda, Susa, Um Razaz and Marj, the health minister said.

The dead in eastern Libya included at least 84 Egyptians, who were transferred to their home country on Wednesday. More than 70 came from one village in the southern province of BeniSuef. Libyan media also said dozens of Sudanese migrants were killed in the disaster.


The floods have also displaced at least 30,000 people in Derna, according to the U.N.'s International Organization for Migration, and several thousand others were forced to leave their homes in other eastern towns, it said.

The floods damaged or destroyed many access roads to Derna, hampering the arrival of international rescue teams and humanitarian assistance. Local authorities were able to clear some routes, and over the past 48 hours humanitarian convoys have been able to enter the city.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday it has provided 6,000 body bags to local authorities, as well as medical, food and other supplies distributed to hard-hit communities. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has released $10 million in emergency funds and is appealing for additional support.

International aid started to arrive earlier this week in Benghazi, 250 kilometers (150 miles) west of Derna. Neighboring Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia have sent rescue teams and aid, as did Turkey, Italy, and the United Arab Emirates. The U.K. and Germany have also sent supplies.

President Joe Biden said the United States would send money to relief organizations and coordinate with Libyan authorities and the United Nations to provide additional support.


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Mali cancels Independence day celebrations after attacks

September 14, 2023

Mali's ruling junta has cancelled festivities planned for the anniversary of the country's independence celebrated on September 22.

The announcement was made public Wednesday following a council of ministers.

Last year, Guinea's ruling military leader attended the military parade organized for the festivities of Mali’s 62nd independence anniversary.

During Wednesday's council of ministers, Mali’s military leader ordered the government to allocate the funds planned for this year's festivities to help victims of a series of recent attacks and their families.

The council also discussed the possible mobilisation of reservists.

The announcement of "sober" independence anniversary coincides with a renewed military activity by the Tuareg separatists, and a succession of attacks attributed mainly to the Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist alliance Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM).

On Tuesday, Tuareg armed separatist groups launched an offensive against army positions in the garrison town of Bourem, which the army said it had repelled.

The two sides provided contradictory reports of events, but both reported dozens of deaths.

An attack on a passenger boat on the Niger River, blamed on jihadists, left dozens of civilians dead last week.

These events take place under the backdrop of the ongoing withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping mission to Mali.

Mali was plunged into turmoil in 2012 after a separatists and Islamist insurrections broke out in the north.

Goita expressed his "deep distress" at the losses caused by "the savage and barbaric attack against the boat (and) the assaults on the camps in the towns of Bamba, Gao and Bourem", the council of ministers said.

It was his first public remarks on the boat attack.


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Moroccan children traumatized by earthquake

September 14, 2023

“My dad would call me and I would shout ‘I’m here, I’m here’”. Little Ibtissam was miraculously saved from the rubble of her house, but she is traumatized by the earthquake which razed the entirety of her village in Morocco.

Five days after the most powerful earthquake to ever hit Morocco, his family settled in a small tent, alongside around ten families, below their village of ImiN'Tala, 75 km south of Marrakech.

For IbtissamAïtIddar, 9 years old, the shock of the shock was compounded by the pain of having lost two friends.

“With Mouna and Zineb, we went to school together even if we were not in the same class,” she says modestly.

“I’m afraid for her,” whispers her mother NaïmaBenhamou who lost her youngest daughter, aged 4, her mother and her mother-in-law in the earthquake.

Ibtissam was pulled out of the rubble at the last minute by her father and uncle after the collapse of their house, swallowed up by voluminous mounting stones.

But for now what worries Naïma is the psychological state of her daughter who often wakes up at night in tears shouting "get me out, I've fallen".


ImiN'Tala is nestled at an altitude of more than 1,400 meters in the Toubkal massif. The village buildings are built along the length of a narrow and winding road surveying the High Atlas mountain range.

According to the survivors of this village of 400 souls, more than 84 people, including 20 children, perished during the powerful earthquake which transformed the village into a field of ruins permeated by the pestilential odor of death.

Rescuers managed to extract one body on Wednesday and continued to search for five others.

Not far from them, Youssef AïtRaiss, 11, remembers in the family tent how “the house fell”.

“We were stuck under the debris,” says the boy whose parents were elsewhere during the earthquake.

His brother Zakaria, 13, who joins him adds: “we were with our grandmother, it was like a nightmare”.

The two boys lost their grandmother and their 16-year-old brother is still in the emergency room at Marrakech University Hospital.


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Ugandan police ban Bobi Wine’s opposition rallies

September 14, 2023

The Ugandan police announced on Wednesday that they were suspending "until further notice" a nationwide mobilisation campaign launched by the main opposition party, led by Bobi Wine, because of public order problems.

The authorities had authorised this operation, launched on 2 September by the National Unity Platform (NUP), an unprecedented decision in a country ruled with an iron fist since 1986 by President Yoweri Museveni and where the opposition is tightly controlled.

Bobi Wine told AFP that he intended to continue this campaign, which has given rise to rallies across the country, most recently in Arua (north-west) on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the Ugandan police said they had "noticed that in all the areas where the NUP mobilisation activities have been carried out, there have been (...) disturbances to public order, unnecessary traffic jams, loss of business, ill-intentioned damage to property".

In particular, it refers to road accidents, including a fatal one in the western town of Hoima, and a rally in the centre of the country that "was used to incite violence, promote sectarianism, launch illegitimate calls for the removal of an elected government and publish defamatory statements against the President of the Republic".

In the face of these "flagrant violations", "the (mobilisation) activities of the NUP are immediately suspended", said the police, adding that they had notified the party leadership of their decision on Tuesday.

In a statement to AFP, Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, said he had expected this decision from the authorities."Let Ugandans and the world know that we are continuing our mobilisation, regardless of what Museveni, using the police, may do to put an end to our popularity", he added.Uganda holds its presidential election in 2026.Yoweri Museveni, 78, has not announced his intentions for the election.

His son MuhooziKainerugaba announced his intention to run in March, in a tweet that he later deleted. Since then, he has launched his "MK movement", whose members are keen to see him become "the next president".

A former singer, Bobi Wine was President Museveni's main rival in the 2021 presidential election. The head of state was re-elected for a sixth term with 58% of the vote, according to the official results, ahead of Bobi Wine (35%), who denounced a "farce".

Bobi Wine has been arrested several times in recent years and his supporters' rallies have been regularly dispersed, sometimes violently.

During the election campaign, demonstrations against yet another arrest of Mr Wine were violently repressed by the security forces, leaving at least 54 people dead.


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KSrelief continues humanitarian projects in Sudan, Sri Lanka and Pakistan

September 15, 2023

RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) launched humanitarian projects in Sudan, Sri Lanka and Pakistan on Thursday.

KSrelief distributed more than 61 tons of food aid in the Punjab province of Pakistan, benefiting 4,550 people in areas affected by the floods.

The aid agency additionally distributed more than 34 tons of food aid in Sudan benefiting 5,217 displaced people.

In Sri Lanka, KSrelief launched a project to combat blindness in collaboration with Al-Basar International Foundation.

The aid program will run from Sept. 11 to 17.

These initiatives are part of the relief and humanitarian projects the Kingdom provides through its humanitarian arm.


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Targeted killings and repatriation fail to deter Ethiopian migrants


September 14, 2023

The rise in targeted killings of Ethiopian migrants by Saudi border officials highlights the brutality of efforts to stop irregular migration, and the desperation of those who make the perilous journeys.

In August, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that between March 2022 and June 2023, hundreds of Ethiopians trying to cross the Yemen-Saudi border were killed, and that the executions are continuing. Clashes with smugglers and authorities are a regular feature of irregular migration, but if this gruesome practice is a Saudi government policy, says HRW, the killings ‘would be a crime against humanity.’ A Saudi official said the allegations were unfounded.

Despite this, Saudi Arabia remains one of the top destinations for Ethiopians trying to reach the Middle East. Many migrants are aware of the life-threatening challenges but travel regardless, believing it’s better to take the chance and seek a better life than live in destitution and hopelessness in Ethiopia.

Environmental challenges, such as drought and famine in some parts of the country, and the recent armed conflict and widespread instability, are significant push factors. These, together with a lack of investigation and prosecution of criminal networks involved in irregular migration, drive the consistent movement of people along Africa’s ‘Eastern Route’.

The primary route for migrant smuggling and human trafficking from East Africa to the Middle East is from Ethiopia via Obock in Djibouti, Bosaso in Somalia, Yemen and finally Saudi Arabia. In 2022, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that of the approximately 750,000 Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia, 450,000 entered the country unlawfully.

Many Ethiopians who move illegally to Saudi Arabia are assisted by fellow Ethiopians involved in human smuggling. This can lead to human trafficking, with migrants subjected to abuse and exploitation, including rape and torture. According to Deputy Commissioner BirhanuAbebe of the Ethiopian Federal Police Commission, the police have videos showing assaults deemed too horrifying for public consumption. The abuse sometimes starts in Ethiopia and is perpetrated by Ethiopian traffickers en route to Saudi Arabia.

An anonymous source told the ENACT organised crime project that Ethiopian traffickers sometimes work with Saudi law enforcement agents who look the other way. Or, if they are planning to take action, tip off the traffickers so they escape arrest.

The route to Saudi Arabia through Yemen is considered the most dangerous in the world. While militias in Yemen sometimes facilitate migrants’ journeys, they are also known to detain Ethiopians or kidnap them for ransom. Armed groups and smugglers on the Yemeni-Saudi border beat and abuse migrants, often compelling them to ask relatives back home for ransom payments.

Immigrants arrested by Saudi authorities face incarceration in appalling conditions where they suffer beatings and degrading treatment. Dire prison conditions can lead to migrants’ deaths and have prompted international organisations to call on Saudi Arabia to improve the state of its detention centres.

These organisations also asked Ethiopia to repatriate its citizens. The two countries eventually agreed in March 2022 to send home over 100,000 Ethiopians living in Saudi Arabia, most of whom were in detention centres. A year later, on 4 April 2023, Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed that about 131,000 Ethiopians had been brought back. The repatriation involved numerous organisations, such as IOM and other international partners.

However, the repatriation campaigns are not effective, and there is no evidence that repatriation deters illegal migration. During the April 2022 to April 2023 campaigns, many migrants sent home to Ethiopia found their way back to Saudi Arabia. Deputy Commissioner Tesfaye Ashine of the Federal Police Commission said that in May, only a month after the repatriation was complete, the number of Ethiopians detained in Saudi prisons jumped from 1,500 to about 25,000.

Tesfaye was part of the multisectoral task force that travelled to Saudi Arabia to coordinate the immigrants’ return. There, he encountered an Ethiopian who re-migrated to Saudi Arabia about 38 times. According to Deputy Commissioner Birhanu, it is common to come across people who have been smuggled into Saudi Arabia as many as 15 times.

Birhanu says repatriated migrants are taken to rehabilitation centres in Addis Ababa and then released to their home or host community. There are insufficient resources to keep them in centres, and no system can trace their whereabouts once they leave. This missed opportunity undermines investigations into the criminal value chain of illegal transactions, corruption and extortion en route to Saudi Arabia.

A police officer who requested anonymity told ENACT that Ethiopia didn’t have the resources or time to follow up on repatriated migrants, including those flagged as potential security threats. Nor were there sufficient resources to investigate the transnational networks that facilitate people smuggling and trafficking to Saudi Arabia. That means the country is losing vital information on smugglers’ identities and modus operandi.

The approach followed by Ethiopia’s criminal justice system needs to change. The investigation and prosecution of migrant smuggling and human trafficking is too reactive, starting only when a victim makes a complaint.

This is partly because officials believe the government’s response should be more about addressing the push factors than prosecuting the enablers. But it should be both. Ethiopia must tackle the root causes of irregular migration, while proactively investigating and prosecuting smugglers and traffickers for transnational organised crime.

TadesseSimieMetekia, Senior Researcher, Horn of Africa, ENACT, Institute for Security Studies (ISS) Addis Ababa

ENACT is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Institute for Security Studies in partnership with INTERPOL and the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime.


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Islamic group offers voluntary eye surgery in Jigawa

By Dahiru Suleiman, Dutse

15 September 2023

No fewer than 1,000 eye patients in Jigawa State have benefitted from free eye surgery operation conducted by member’s of Islamic Residents Doctors in collaboration with AA Rano Foundation at Dutse General Hospital, as stated by Doctor’s team leader, Dr. Ismail Abdullahi.

Dr. Ismail further stated that the operations was conducted in major hospital’s of Dutse, Gumel, Hadejia and Kazaure, where two hundred eye patient’s were drawn from different Communities of metropolitan Dutse as part of the organization’s corporate responsibility in assisting the less privileged with eye problems.

“In Dutse General Hospital, apart from eye surgery, we undertook general eye treatment voluntarily for most of our community members with severe eye problems, among other health related issues, and I am pleased to inform you that most of the patients we treated have regained their sights perfectly”, said Ismail.

According to him, “this operations was the fifth in its series compared to the previous one we conducted in Gumel, Kazaure, Dutse and Hadejia General hospitals last year with the support of Jigawa State government, and some other private donors, especially the politicians and other wealthy individuals.

“In the last three years, we were able to treat over 3,000 patients with different cases of eye treatment ranging from operation of Cataract, Glaucoma, among others.

“Also we undertake eye surgery and general clinical eye services on patients with eye problem coming from different locations in jigawa state.

Dr. Ismail who is a Surgeon with Rasheed Shekoni Specialist Hospital of the Federal University Dutse, was the Jigawa Chairman of Islamic Medical Association of Nigeria, (IMAN), further stated that the Organization has offered medical attention voluntarily to over 5000 patients ranging from eye operation and surgery among other medical attention on other health related issues, and pledged to render more medical attention to different classes of people with medical deficiency within and outside jigawa state.

The IMAN is a professional Conglomeration of competent and professional practicing Residents Doctors drawn from different medical Institutions and formations established about 25 years ago with branches in more than 26 states in the federation. It was conceived primarily to offer voluntary medical attention through govt and public participation to the less privileged in the society.


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Arab World


Prince Faisal heads Saudi delegation to G77+China summit in Cuba

September 14, 2023

RIYADH: On behalf of King Salman, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan left for Havana on Thursday to head a delegation at the Group of 77 + China summit, which will be held in Cuba on September 15 to 16.

The summit will discuss developments on the international scene and the challenges that the world is facing, Saudi Press Agency reported.

Representatives of the 77 countries and China participating in the summit will discuss sustainable solutions to the challenges, it added.

According to the report, Prince Faisal will also hold a number of bilateral meetings with representatives of the participating countries.

The G77 is a group of developing countries in Asia, Africa and Central and South America first formed in 1964 and which has since grown to more than 130 members.


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Saudi crown prince to give exclusive interview with Fox News

September 15, 2023

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is set to give an exclusive interview with US channel Fox News.

The channel’s special report will focus on energy, relations with the US, changes in the Kingdom, and feature what is billed as a “sit down no holds barred interview “ between the crown prince and Fox News’ chief political anchor - Bret Baier.

It will be the first interview the crown prince has given this year with a US media outlet, the first with a US tv news channel since 2019 when he appeared on CBS.

The interview comes after the crown prince attended the G20 summit in India, followed by an official visit in the vast south Asian nation.

He then traveled to Oman where he was met by Sultan Haitham bin Tariq.

The Fox News interview will air on Wednesday, Sept. 20 at 6 p.m. (EST) (10 p.m. GMT / 1 a.m Thursday, Sept. 21 in Saudi Arabia).


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Saudi king, crown prince receive separate letters from Iran’s president

14 September 2023

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have separately received letters from Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi, which underscored the development of bilateral relations between Tehran and Riyadh in various sectors.

According to the state-run Saudi Press Agency, the letters were received on behalf of Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Faisal bin Farhan by his deputy Walid bin Abdul Karim al-Khereij during a meeting with Iranian Ambassador to the king Ali Reza Enayati.

The report said Khereij wished success for Enayati in his mission.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry announced in a statement that their meeting addressed the means to enhance bilateral ties in a way that serves common interests.

The statement said Director of the General Department of Asian Countries at the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mohammed al-Matrafi attended the meeting.

Iran has invited Saudi Arabia to join the Islamic Republic in a proposed initiative for the global registration of the “intangible cultural heritage” of Iftar.

Back in March, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed under a Chinese-brokered deal to revive diplomatic relations severed in 2016.

Iran officially reopened its embassy in Riyadh in June, followed by its consulate in Jeddah and its representative office with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad have also resumed operations.

Earlier this week, Iran’s ambassador to Riyadh said the Islamic Republic is determined to boost its bilateral ties with Saudi Arabia.

Speaking in an interview with Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, Enayati said “I want to put emphasis on what President Ebrahim Raeisi assigned to me when I met him, which is to employ all efforts” to strengthen the friendly and brotherly relations between Tehran and Riyadh.

The diplomat said Iran views Saudi Arabia as a “strategic partner of great importance within the framework of its good neighborliness policy.” Enayati said “a promising future” is looming as the two countries are keen to expand bilateral ties.


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KSrelief signs aid agreements to benefit people in Syria, Yemen

September 15, 2023

RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) signed cooperation agreements with the International Wars and Disasters Victims Protection (IRVD) to benefit people in Syria, and Yemen.

Under one of the agreements, KSrelief will implement and operate a mobile healthcare system in earthquake-hit areas in Syria, benefiting 385,111 people.

Director of KSrelief’s Health and Environmental Aid Department, Abdullah Saleh Al-Moallem, said the agreement aims to operate 20 mobile clinics and distribute infant formula to those affected by the earthquake in Idlib and Aleppo.

KSrelief signed another agreement with IRVD to operate a prosthetics and rehabilitation center in Sayun Governorate, Yemen, serving 3,545 individuals.

The agreement was signed by the center’s Assistant General Supervisor for Operations and Programs, Eng. Ahmed bin Ali Al-Baiz in Riyadh.

These initiatives are part of the relief projects the Kingdom provides through its humanitarian arm.


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Saudi Arabia extends aid to flood victims in Libya

September 14, 2023

RIYADH — In response to the devastating floods in Libya, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have directed the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) to provide vital food and shelter assistance to those affected.

Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah, Advisor at the Royal Court and Supervisor General of KSrelief, affirmed that this aid reflects the continuous support of the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Crown Prince for brotherly and friendly countries facing various circumstances and challenges.

Al Rabeeah further elaborated that KSrelief will collaborate with the Libyan Red Crescent and several international humanitarian organizations to ensure efficient aid distribution to the people of Libya.

He expressed deep gratitude to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Crown Prince for their unwavering commitment to humanitarian causes, which underscores Saudi Arabia's enduring dedication to assisting those in need worldwide, especially during times of crises and hardship.


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PIA to face closure only over our dead bodies, declares HR chief

Mohammad Asghar

September 15, 2023

RAWALPINDI: The head of the human resource (HR) department of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Thursday refuted the media reports regarding the poor financial condition of the airline leading to a possible closure of all the operations and services, declaring that “it will happen only over our dead bodies.”

These remarks came from the Head of the PIA’s HR, Athar Hussain, when Chairman of Senate Standing Committee on Aviation Hidayatullah during a committee’s meeting took notice of a reported statement of a senior PIA director regarding the possible closure of PIA within 15 days.

The committee’s chairman ordered investigation against the official and called for a comprehensive report, besides stating that nobody other than the spokesperson or the PR Department of the airline should issue any statement to the media.

A private TV news channel had reported that a senior director of the national flag carrier had warned that flight operations were feared to be suspended by September 15, if emergency funds were not provided.

The HR chief briefed the committee on significant matters concerning aviation and the PIA and provided the committee with an overview of the entire employees’ roster, detailing their qualifications, experience, designations, present postings and acting charges, particularly within Group IV and above.

The committee members inquired about Group V and above employees and emphasised the preference for hiring native Pakistanis rather than foreign nationals for overseas positions, with the HR chief highlighting the predominance of Pakistani-origin staff in foreign roles. The committee received an account of the performance evaluation process for the UK-based employees, underscoring PIA’s commitment to evaluate the performance of all employees stationed abroad.

He revealed that two employees in Saudi Arabia were recently dismissed due to fake degrees, and another remained under scrutiny.

“All [of them] are being monitored,” he said.

Director General Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Khaqan Murtaza informed the panel about the advisory issued by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), urging air operators to avoid flights over Karachi and Lahore below FL260 [26,000 feet] due to Pakistan’s current security situation.

He emphasised that this advisory was based on media reports showing anti-aircraft weapons and claims of rockets and missiles in the hands of anti-state elements and crooks.

The DG CAA clarified that there were no missiles and rockets capable of reaching aircraft flying at 23,000 to 24,000 feet, given that planes typically operated at 29,000 feet or higher in these areas. He added that Etihad Airways initially cancelled all flights following the advisory, but after consultations with the authorities, the real situation was conveyed.

The DG CAA urged responsible reporting by the media to uphold the country’s positive image. He also noted that the advisory referenced erstwhile Fata and Kashmir, although there were no air corridors in these areas.

During the meeting, the members of the committee were updated on the progress of recommendations made by the committee to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) regarding the PIA employees possessing fake degrees.

The FIA submitted a comprehensive compliance report.


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Parvez Elahi granted bail in judicial complex attack case

By ArfaFerozZake

September 15, 2023

ISLAMABAD: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Islamabad on Friday approved Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) President Parvez Elahi's post-arrest bail in the Federal Judicial Complex (FJC) attack case.

ATC Judge AbualHsanatZulqarnain announced the verdict on the PTI leader's plea and directed him to submit a surety bond of Rs20,000 against the bail.

The PTI president was arrested hours after his release from National Accountability Bureau (NAB) custody on September 1, despite the fact that the Lahore High Court (LHC) had explicitly restricted the authorities from arresting him earlier that day.

The September 1 order was a reiteration of similar orders issued by the high court on July 13, 2023. Elahi has been arrested and detained repeatedly since the May 9 riots.

The PTI president is accused of sending rioters to Islamabad to vandalise the judicial complex along with providing vehicles and batons for the same, the police claimed, adding that the physical remand was being sought to question him about unidentified criminals and recover vehicles.

In the previous hearing, Judge Zulqarnain had sent the PTI leader to Adiala jail on a 14-day judicial remand after rejecting the prosecution's request seeking a 10-day physical remand.

During the hearing today, Elahi's lawyer Sardar Abdul Razzaq told the court that his client's name was added to the first information report (FIR) six months after it was filed.

The Elahi counsel said that others including PTI Chairman Imran Khan and party leader Asad Umar were granted bail in the same case, pleading that his client should also be granted bail.

However, the prosecution opposed the bail plea.

Lawyer Babar Awan told the court that Elahi was not named in the FIR, adding that the police could not recover anything during the three-day physical remand.

"Parvez Elahi was arrested on the basis of suspicion," added Awan.

At this, Prosecutor Raja Naveed said that the provisions under which the FIR was registered are non-bailable. "

The judge observed that Elahi was not nominated in the Federal Judicial Complex (FJC) attack case. He added that nothing was recovered during his physical remand.

After hearing the arguments, the ATC judge accepted Elahi’s bail application.

Judicial complex riots

On March 18, PTI workers suddenly began pelting stones at the authorities inside the premises of the Federal Judicial Complex during Khan’s appearance before different courts in connection with multiple cases filed against him.

The former prime minister came with hoards of people — who had wooden sticks and stones in their hands — from the opposite side of the road in violation of Section 144.

The situation resulted in injuring 52 police and personnel of other assisting forces, said the police, adding that the PTI workers also damaged 12 Islamabad police vehicles.

Three police vehicles of the Punjab police and Frontier Corps (FC) were also damaged by agitated workers. Moreover, the workers also set fire to four cars of the federal police which were completely burned, added the police.

Subsequently, a terrorism case was registered against the PTI workers at the counter-terrorism department (CTD) police station for vandalism.

Islamabad police had also registered an FIR against the PTI cheif and other party leaders for their alleged involvement in attacking cops, setting ablaze vehicles and destroying property.


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Imran Khan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi bail pleas rejected in cipher case

By Khalid Iqbal & Sohail Khan

September 15, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Special Court Judge AbualHasnatZulqarnain rejected the post-arrest bail pleas of former premier Imran Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in the cipher case, here on Thursday.

Earlier, the court had reserved the verdict after the PTI counsel completed their arguments for grant of bail to Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood. Later, the judge announced the verdict, rejecting their bail pleas.

On the other hand, the court, constituted under the Official Secrets Act, approved Asad Umar’s bail in the case related to US cipher after a prosecutor told the judge that his arrest was not required at this stage. Judge Zulqarnain approved the PTI leader’s bail against a surety bond of Rs50,000 and also noted that Umar expressed willingness to join the cipher probe, but the prosecution did not investigate him. “If Asad Umar’s arrest is required, the Federal Investigation Agency will proceed according to the law,” he ordered. The court also directed the FIA to inform the PTI leader in advance before arresting him in the case.

Earlier, during the hearing of bail pleas, Imran’s counsel maintained that the PTI chairman had been subjected to unprecedented political victimisation, saying 180 cases lodged against him, with over 140 registered before his arrest.

The defence argued that the entire cabinet would have to be implicated as the case could not be assigned to one individual while referring to meetings held by the National Security Council during which the cipher was discussed. Imran’s lawyer contended that keeping documents safe was not the prime minister’s job but the duty of his principal secretary.

At one point during the hearing, the judge questioned how the cipher went missing when it was a classified document. He observed that copies of the diplomatic cable held by the army chief, the DG ISI and the foreign ministry were not the same. Questions were also raised by the defence counsel over former principal secretary Azam Khan’s whereabouts. After the completion of arguments by the counsel, the court reserved its verdict for a short while. Later, the court rejected both bail pleas. Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi were sent into judicial custody till September 26.

Last month, the FIA had booked PTI Chairman Imran Khan and the party’s vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi under the Official Secrets Act for allegedly misplacing and misusing classified documents for vested interests.

In a related development, the Supreme Court Registrar’s office returned with objections a petition of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan seeking general election in 90 days. The petition had been filed with the apex court through the party’s General Secretary Omar Ayub under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, praying for declaring a decision of purported Council of Common Interests on August 5 approving the census as as illegal and void ab initio.

The Registrar’s office returned the petition by raising objections that the petitioners had not pointed out as to what questions of public importance in the instant case were involved with reference to enforcement of any of the fundamental rights, guaranteed under the Constitution, so as to directly invoke jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

The registrar objected that the ingredients for invoking extraordinary jurisdiction of the Court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution had not been satisfied. That the President of Pakistan had been impleaded as respondent No. 7, though he could not be impleaded as a party under Article 248 of the Constitution. Similarly, it was objected that notices issued to the respondents were not properly drawn, as it was not mentioned therein for what purpose, the constitutional petition was being filed before the court, nor a copy of the petition had been provided to the respondent.

The Registrar’s office further objected that the petitioners had not approached any other appropriate forum available under the law for the same relief and also had not provided any justification for not doing so. It was further objected that multifarious prayers had been made in one constitutional petition.


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Father among two charged with killing 10-year-old Sara Sharif

September 15, 2023

Officials in the United Kingdom said early Friday that the father, stepmother and uncle of Sara Sharif have been charged with murdering the 10-year-old minor as her body was recovered at the family's residence near Woking, southeast England, on August 10.

According to the police, Urfan Sharif, 41, his partner Beinash Batool, 29, and his brother Faisal Malik, 28, — who moved to Pakistan to take refuge with relatives before Sara's body was found — were charged with her murder.

Officials in the UK a day earlier detained three relatives of Sara Sharif on the alleged involvement in her killing as they arrived in Britain, a month after they ran to Pakistan.

"This evening... three people were arrested in connection with this investigation at Gatwick Airport," Surrey Police Detective Superintendent Mark Chapman said a day earlier in a televised statement.

The force said Friday that Sara's mother, Olga Sharif, has been informed of this development and she is being supported by specialist officers.

When the body of Sara Sharif was recovered, a post-mortem examination was run which revealed that she sustained injuries for a long period of time.

The suspects flew from Pakistan to Britain via the gulf hub.

"They are currently in custody and will be interviewed in due course," Police that day.

A Pakistan police spokesman had earlier said that Sharif, Batool and Malik had voluntarily returned to Britain with the prior knowledge of authorities.

"I confirm that they have not been arrested but they left voluntarily," Raja Haq Nawaz, a lawyer for Urfan Sharif's father, also told AFP.

Sara's five siblings, aged between one and 13 years old, also flew to Pakistan on August 9 with their relatives.

A few days prior to his arrest, police took custody of five of Urfan Sharif's children, from Punjab's Jhelum district, BBC reported.

Sara, a 10-year-old girl, was found dead at her family's residence in Woking, Surrey in the UK on August 10. Post-mortem examinations revealed that Sara had sustained multiple and extensive injuries.

The District Police Officer (DPO) of Jhelum confirmed the custody of the children, identifying them as Noman, Azlam, Ihsan, Hina, and Bisma Sharif. However, Urfan Sharif, the father and prime suspect, remains at large, and police are actively conducting raids to apprehend him, Geo News reported.

Sara's grandfather, Muhammad Sharif, said that he had been sheltering the children at his residence in Jhelum but did not specify how long they had been there. He previously denied having any contact with his son or knowing their whereabouts.

Witnesses reported a significant police presence outside the Sharif residence, with officers halting traffic and preventing people from using their phones to record. According to Muhammad Sharif, the police damaged his home's gates and CCTV cameras during the operation.

Sara's family has accused the police of intimidation, involuntary detention of some relatives, and unwarranted searches of their homes. They claim that the police fabricated charges against them to exert further pressure.

However, the police have denied these allegations. The investigation into Sara Sharif's murder continues, with efforts focused on locating and apprehending the prime suspect, Urfan Sharif.


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IHC won't bar authorities from arresting Imran

September 15, 2023

ISLAMABAD:The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has turned down a request to order authorities not to arrest PTI chief Imran Khan in any pending case, stating that it does not want to set such a precedent.

A division bench of the high court, led by Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and comprising Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, resumed hearing the PTI chairman's petition against the cancellation of his pre-arrest bail in nine different cases, including cases filed against him after the May 9 riots.

Various courts dismissed the former premier's pre-arrest bail application due to his non-appearance after he was sent to jail following his conviction in the Toshakhana case on August 5. The politician later challenged these decisions of the trial courts in the IHC.

Appearing before the bench, Imran's counsel Salman Safdar contended that the trial courts dismissed his client's bail applications without discussing their merit only due to his failure to appear in court. He requested the bench to set aside the trial courts’ orders.

When the counsel for Islamabad Police told the bench that the authorities have not arrested Imran in any of the cases so far, Safdar said his client had not yet filed new post-arrest bail applications in the courts.

He said Imran Khan could not appear in the courts for the hearing of any pre-arrest bail application due to his detention at the Attock Jail. He requested the court not to order authorities to arrest Imran in any of the cases until the next hearing.

IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq stated that they did not want to establish such a precedent.

"We will not issue such an order. However, we can mention in the order that police have not yet arrested the PTI chief in any of the cases," he noted. The court later adjourned the case until next Thursday.


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No ban on anyone’s entry into Pak: Bugti

September 15, 2023\

Rizwan Shehzad 

ISLAMABAD:Interim Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti on Thursday confirmed that the caretaker federal cabinet’s sub-committee on the Exit Control List (ECL) recommended putting the names of former first lady Bushra Bibi’s trusted friend and confidante, Farah Gogi, and that of her husband, among others, on the no-fly list but clarified that there was no ban on anyone’s entry into Pakistan.

To a question about what purpose would it serve when the names of Gogi and her husband, Ahsan Jamil Gujjar, were already on the ECL, the caretaker interior minister said that legal formalities had to be fulfilled when the investigation agencies, including NAB, anti-corruption, intelligence agencies and other law enforcement agencies, sought placing individuals’ names on the list.

“To be frank, the discussion was not focused on individuals but on their cases and the necessary action which was required to be taken,” Bugti told The Express Tribune. “The committee has to ensure that no one is treated differently.”

To another question if Gogi and her husband were already cooperating with the authorities concerned, what were the chances of their return to the country, Bugti said that he had no knowledge if they were in touch with the authorities, adding that they could return anytime if they wanted as “there is no ban on anyone’s entry into Pakistan”.

He explained that the committee had also recommended removing the names of several people who were no longer required on the ECL.

He added that no discussion took place regarding Bushra Bibi or any other high-profile people, saying most of the people whose names had been recommended to be placed on the ECL were non-political and not that famous.

Another official, who requested for anonymity, also shared that the discussion mostly focused on the cases rather than the individuals, saying that the minister’s approach was simple – deal everything on merit, give relief if one deserves, and no one should be discriminated.

The details emerged after the subcommittee’s meeting, which was attended by the caretaker Federal Minister for Railways Capitan (retd) Shahid Ashraf Tarar, officials of the interior ministry and other institutions.

The committee reviewed and deliberated upon different cases. The official statement said that the sub-committee recommended placing names of 17 individuals on the ECL that were sent by different departments and agencies.

During the meeting, the committee also recommended removing seven different cases from the ECL.

The statement said that names of five people had been recommended to be removed from the ECL while considering their review appeals.

Though the sub-committee recommended putting the names of the individuals on the ECL, the final decision would be taken by the caretaker federal cabinet.

Meanwhile, another statement by the interior ministry stated that action against foreigners residing illegally in Islamabad was taken and 25 foreigners were detained from different areas of the capital.

It said that 57 foreigners living illegally had so far been arrested under the Foreigners Act of 1946 and transferred to Adiala Jail.

“Arrangements are being made to repatriate the detained foreigners,” it added.

The action was being taken on the orders of the interior minister, who, the other day announced that no one would be allowed to live illegally in Pakistan.

“Staying in Pakistan is possible only as per the laws of the country,” the statement read. “Action is also being taken against Pakistanis who support illegal residents.”

On Sunday, Bugti while announcing that the state would go to extreme lengths against all those who were involved wheat, sugar, urea, oil and dollars smuggling and hoarding, said that action would also be taken against the illegal immigrants and prize money would also be announced soon for sharing information about them.

The ministry’s statement declared that it was a crime to support illegal residents in the form of providing them housing, finances, and employment, adding that Pakistan’s laws should be respected.


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South Asia


Deputy PM Hanafi, Meets a Number of Influential Figures Shiites in Kabul


KABUL (BNA): Mawlavi Abdul Salam Hanafi, Deputy Prime Minister for Administrative Affairs met with a number of influential Shiites.

In the meeting, Shiite influential figures shared details about the social, economic and local governance situation.

They said that security was fully secured in all parts of the country, and all the people of Afghanistan, especially the people of the central provinces, are happy.

They spoke about the cooperation of the people in various fields with the officials of the Islamic Emirate and reminded that during various programs, they were able to identify the people’s problems and inform the officials.

Influential Shiites called on the leadership of the Islamic Emirate to pay serious attention to the issues of the people in various fields.

Mawlawi Hanafi, thanked the efforts and activities of the influential Shiites in identifying the challenges of the people, added that with the establishment of the Islamic system in the country, the long-standing dream of the Afghan people, which was the end of the war and security in the country, was realized, and this is a great blessing for the people of Afghanistan, and the Islamic Emirate does not spare any effort to solve the problems of the people in all parts of the country.


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Afghan-Pakistan border crossing reopens a week after fighting

AFP | Sep 15, 2023

TORKHAM: The Torkham border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan reopened to pedestrians and vehicles early Friday, a senior official told AFP, more than a week after it was closed following a gun battle between frontier guards.

"The clearance of trucks is in process and Afghan citizens are entering Afghanistan after clearance and passing immigration processes," Irshad Khan Mohmamd, assistant commissioner of Khyber district in Pakistan, told AFP.

Islamabad and Kabul have been in diplomatic deadlock since September 6, when border guards opened fire at the crossing -- halfway between the two capitals -- in a dispute over an Afghan outpost being constructed.

The crossing is the busiest for trade and people between the two nations, which share a porous 2,600-kilometre (1,600-mile) frontier that cuts through rugged mountains and valleys.

Traders on both sides complained that tons of perishable goods were lost because of the border closure, while Afghan travellers missed vital hospital appointments or flights out of Pakistan.


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Afghanistan: Taliban welcome first Chinese ambassador since takeover

September 14, 2023

KABUL — China has become the first country to name an ambassador to Afghanistan since the Taliban took over in 2021.

The Taliban says Zhao Xing's appointment is a sign for other nations to establish ties with its government.

Analysts say the move shows how China is seeking to establish its influence in the region.

Taliban leaders received Zhao at the presidential palace in Kabul on Wednesday under lavish protocol.

China's foreign ministry says Beijing will "continue advancing dialogue and cooperation" with Afghanistan and that its policy towards the country is "clear and consistent".

Zhao's appointment is part of a "normal rotation" of Chinese ambassadors to Afghanistan, it adds.

The Taliban has not been formally recognised by any foreign government, but China was among the first countries to engage with them since US-led foreign forces withdrew from Afghanistan in August 2021.

Beijing has significant interests in the country, which is at the centre of a region that is important to its Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.

In January this year, the Taliban signed a contract with a Chinese firm to drill for oil in the north of Afghanistan. It was the first major energy extraction agreement with a foreign firm since the Taliban seized power.

Some analysts say China's move is aimed at shoring up its influence in the region.

"By being the first to name an ambassador post-takeover, China aims to position itself as an influential actor in the region — a possible diplomatic flexing of muscles, especially when many Western countries are still hesitant to engage with the Taliban," said FarwaAamer, Director of South Asia Initiatives at the Asia Society Policy Institute.

Maintaining diplomatic ties with the Taliban may also help China keep its security challenges in check, she added.

Reports say the officials receiving Zhao at the presidential palace include acting prime minister Mohammad Hassan Akhund and acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.

Zhao replaces China's former ambassador to Afghanistan, Wang Yu, who finished his tenure last month.

The Taliban government has been criticised for violating human rights in Afghanistan. In particular, the suppression of women's rights under their rule is thought to be among the harshest in the world. — BBC


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Muttaqi talks Torkham crossing issue with Pakistan’s Chargé d’Affaires

Fidel Rahmati

September 15, 2023

 Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Amir Khan Muttaqi met with Obaidur Rehman Nizamani, the Chargé d’Affaires of the Pakistan Embassy in Kabul, to address issues concerning the Torkham crossing.

The meeting occurred against the prolonged closure of the Torkham crossing, causing a backlog of cargo-laden trucks from Afghanistan, with hundreds stranded at the border.

Muttaqi and Nizamani discussed measures to alleviate the situation and resolve the challenges posed by the crossing’s closure.

During the meeting, the detention of Afghan refugees in Pakistan was a key topic of discussion, as confirmed by the ministry’s deputy spokesman, Hafiz Ziah Ahmad Takal, in a post on social media platform X. The talks aimed to address this pressing issue, among others.

Both parties emphasized the urgency of taking immediate action to resolve these challenges and establish measures to prevent similar issues from arising, as Takal said.

The Torkham border crossing has remained shut for over a week due to clashes between Taliban security forces and Pakistani security forces. This prolonged closure has resulted in significant losses for Afghan traders, who have lost property and goods on both sides of the border.

According to the report, there is a promising possibility of the Torkham border crossing reopening on Friday. This development is crucial due to the week-long closure and its adverse effects on regional trade and Afghan traders’ losses.


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Over 100 Afghan migrants released from Pakistani prisons

Fidel Rahmati

September 14, 2023

 The Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations has reported that over 120 Afghan refugees have been successfully released from Pakistani prisons in the last five days.

According to a recent statement, it has come to light that Pakistan’s security agencies have detained over 500 Afghan refugees, comprising both documented and undocumented individuals, within the past seven days.

This significant development underscores the complex challenges Afghan refugees face seeking safety and shelter in neighbouring countries amid Afghanistan’s ongoing instability and conflict.

The reasons behind these detentions and the conditions under which these refugees are being held remain a matter of concern, raising questions about their rights, legal status, and humanitarian treatment.

According to the statement, efforts yielded success, as 120 individuals with legal documents have been released from detention.

The ministry is actively working to secure the release of the remaining detainees, emphasizing ongoing efforts.


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Afghan Consulate in Karachi: Detention of Afghans in Pakistan Increasing


September 14, 2023

The General Consulate of Afghanistan in Karachi, Abdul JabarTakhari, said that the Pakistani police have intensified the process of detaining Afghans in Sindh state and Karachi.

Takhari added that in the past few days, 450 Afghan immigrants have been detained by the Pakistani police in the Sindh state.

"Arresting Afghans started in the state of Sindh and the city of Karachi by the Sindh police and a large number of them have been detained and imprisoned. Their number was more than 400 yesterday, and I think more than 50 have been detained and imprisoned today,” Takhari noted.

During a meeting with the General Consulate of the Islamic Emirate, some Afghan citizens in Karachi claimed that the Pakistani police detain those with valid identification cards before releasing them after receiving money.

"Most Afghans claim that they [Pakistani police] demand money from them and if they give money, they will release them. If they do not give, they will not release them and will put them in prison,” Takhari said.

According to some Afghan immigrants in Pakistan, the living conditions in Pakistan are becoming increasingly difficult for Afghans and they want the Islamic Emirate to pay attention in this regard.

"In Pakistan, especially in Karachi, Pakistani police treat Afghans badly,” Javid Abrar, an Afghan immigrant in Pakistan told TOLOnews.

“We ask the Islamic Emirate, Pakistan, including the UNHCR, to prepare a procedure to allow people who do not have a document to go to Afghanistan through Torkham,” Malik Mujahid, another Afghan immigrant in Pakistan said.

In the meantime, some immigration experts said that Pakistan has politicized the issue of Afghan immigrants.

"They are using Afghan immigrants as a political tool, and to solve this problem, the current Afghan government should start dialogue with the host nations and international organizations through diplomatic channels,” said Mohammad Khan Talibi, an expert on immigrants’ rights.

This comes as yesterday the Afghan Immigrant Council in Pakistan reported the detention of more than 150 Afghan immigrants by the Pakistani police in one day.

According to the council, most of the Afghan immigrants have been detained in the Sindh state of Pakistan.


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Bangladesh sends humanitarian aid to flood-hit Libya

Sep 15, 2023

Bangladesh has sent emergency relief goods as humanitarian assistance to flood victims in Libya.

A C-130J aircraft of Bangladesh Air Force left Dhaka for Libya at 8:00pm yesterday with necessary relief materials and medicines to help the people affected by cyclone Daniel and floods, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Operations) Air Vice Marshal AHM Fazlul Haque briefed the media after the aircraft departed for Libya. Ambassador of Libya to Bangladesh Abdulmutalib S M Sulaiman was also present at that time.

"Dry food, water purification tablets and emergency life-saving medicines are being sent as relief items provided by the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief. In addition, medicine and other medical supplies needed by the army are being sent to Libya by the mentioned aircraft," the ISPR added.

Earlier in the afternoon, Principal Staff Officer of the Armed Forces Department Lieutenant General Wakar-uz-Zaman inspected the loading activities of the materials.

The flight is scheduled to return on September 17, 2023.


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Employees, not govt filed cases against Dr Yunus: Momen

Sep 15, 2023

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has said cases against Dr Muhammad Yunus had been filed by employees of his organisations, not by the government.

"One cannot be above the law just because if he is a Nobel Laureate," he said this while responding to a question at a media briefing at the foreign ministry yesterday.

The foreign minister said since these cases were pending in court, the government had nothing to do with it.

He said the government believed in the freedom of the judiciary, which was why it never interfered in the affairs of the court.

The minister also noted that the statement by the foreign dignitaries demanding suspension of the legal proceedings was totally illogical as the demand was totally contradictory to the rule of law. "It is a case filed in the labour court."

In this connection, he mentioned that a number of Nobel laureates faced imprisonment for wrongdoings, and he knew a Nobel laureate who had been stripped of his professorship at MIT in the US for his involvement in illegal activities.

"Dr Muhammad Yunus is a respected person of our country… he should not worry about the cases filed against him if he is innocent and did not do anything wrong" he noted.

"If he is honest and brave, he should face it."

After the statement from eminent personalities from around the world, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina publicly called upon them to send experts or lawyers to check the case, since the government had nothing to do with the judiciary.

Replying to a question, State Minister for Foreign Affairs MdShahriar Alam, however, said the government had not received any response in this regard from them.


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Southeast Asia



Umno’s Jamal Yunos calls off 'Red Shirts' counter-rally after Perikatan-backed 'Save Malaysia' gathering moves to Kg Baru

By Muhammad Yusry

Friday, 15 Sep 2023KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 — Sungai Besar Umno chief Datuk Seri Jamal MdYunos called off the “Red Shirts” counter-rally this after, against one that is backed by PerikatanNasional (PN) that is planned to be held in the capital city on Malaysia Day tomorrow.

In a statement, he said a counter-rally would only be held if the “Save Malaysia” rally organised by pro-Malay and Islamist groups happen in the Sogo shopping mall or Bukit Bintang.

“I was informed that the rally will be held in KampungBaru.

“Therefore, the Red Shirt Movement will not be involved in gathering in the same place,” he said.

He explained that since Bukit Bintang and Sogo are hotspots for foreign tourists, a gathering by PN's allies there would affect many traders.

In 2015's Malaysia Day, Jamal had organised thousands of “Red Shirt” protesters in a racially-charged pro-Malay rally.

The year after that, hundreds of “Red Shirts” held a counter-rally against electoral watchdog Bersih's pro-democracy protests.

The “Save Malaysia” event is led by the Islamist coalition Ummah and its allied student group GabunganMahasiswa Islam Se-Malaysia, and also includes pro-Malay group Perkasa.

It has now been joined by PN political parties — PAS, PartiPribumi Bersatu Malaysia and Gerakan — and also PartiPejuangTanahair.

Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department director Datuk Seri MohdShuhailyMohd Zain said police had rejected the application because the organisers had left out details such as their names and the location of the rally.

But in a news conference this afternoon, the organisers insisted that the police has yet to formally inform them that they cannot hold the rally, which they also confirmed will be held in KampungBaru.


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I have to be strong for my siblings, says SPM student whose parents died in bike crash

Adie Zulkifli

September 15, 2023

SUNGAI PETANI: There is nothing more important for Muhammad Amirul Ikhwan, 17, than working hard and pass his SijilPelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination next March with flying colours.

All that he wanted was to make his parents proud and to set a good example for his three younger siblings.

However, things took an abrupt turn when his parents, Muhammad RidzwanSalleh, 42, and Rosmawati Ismail, 39, were killed in a crash at Km87 of the Plus Expressway near Gurun on Thursday evening.

The tragedy left Amirul and his siblings Muhammad Alif Irfan, 15; NurinAlyaIwanie, 12; and Muhammad RidzDanial, five, orphaned.

"I will have to be strong for my siblings. I will focus on preparing for my SPM examinations while looking after my siblings, especially Danial.

"My siblings will stay with me. I will look after them with the help of our relatives," Amirul said when met at the Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital (HSAH) mortuary where a medical examiner is carrying out a post-mortem examination on his parents' remains.

In the 2pm incident, Ridzwan, a soldier with the rank of corporal attached to the Hobart Camp in Jeniang, was riding his Benelli TNT 600cc machine to visit Rosmawati's mother Jamaliah Saad, 60, who was undergoing dialysis treatment at HSAH.

Ridzwan lost the control of his motorcycle and crashed into the rear of an army truck.

The machine caught fire in the crash and the couple crashed into the truck's cargo bay.

Ridzwan, who also suffered burns, died on the spot. Rosmawati died two hours later at HSAH.

Amirul, a student of SMK Batu 5, Jeniang, was attending additional classes in school when he was told of the tragedy.

"My mother always reminded me not to skip my prayers and to look after my siblings if anything happened to her.

"It never crossed my mind that both of my parents would gone forever an in instant. I can't find the words to describe how devastated we are.. but I will have to pull myself together for my siblings," he said.

His daunting task now is to calm his siblings, who are still shocked by the sudden passing of their parents.

"Last night Danial was a bit lost by what had just happened. He kept on asking about our parents. It will take a while for him to get used to the situation," he said.

Amirul said his parents were a loving couple who really cared of their children. His father, he said, was an avid superbike enthusiast. He said his mother always accompanied his father on riding trips.

The couple would be laid to rest at the SegantangGaram Muslim Cemetery in Merbok later this evening.


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Court to hear Najib, Irwan’s RM6.6 bil CBT case next year

15 Sep 2023

KUALA LUMPUR – The high court here has set 30 days in June and July next year to hear the criminal breach of trust (CBT) case involving Datuk Seri Najib Razak and former Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri MohdIrwanSerigar Abdullah involving RM6.6 billion in government funds.

Judge Datuk Muhammad Jamil Hussin fixed the dates following a request by deputy public prosecutor Muhammad Saifuddin Hashim Musaimi.

The court set June 4 to 27 and July 2 to 31 next year to hear the case.

“The whole month of June and July is fixed for trial, except Fridays,” said the judge.

Today’s proceeding was fixed for the prosecution to inform the court of the status of the representation submitted by Najib and Irwan for the six charges against them to be dropped.

However, the court was not informed of the matter during the proceeding.

On October 24, 2018, Najib and Irwan pleaded not guilty to six charges of CBT amounting to RM6.6 billion in government funds involving payments to the International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC).

Najib and Irwan were jointly accused of committing all the offences at the Finance Ministry Complex, Putrajaya between December 21, 2016, and December 18, 2017.

The charges were framed under Section 409 of the Penal Code, read together with Section 34 of the same law, which provides for a maximum of 20 years in jail and whipping as well as a fine upon conviction.

Earlier, Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah requested the trial to commence in July of next year, while counsel Datuk K. Kumaraendran, representing Irwan, asked for an earlier trial, as the case had been for almost five years, causing psychological stress to his client.

“I also want the court to consider the impact on my client. He could not leave the country or proceed with his career advancement due to this,” said Kumaraendran.

Apart from that, Shafee also raised the alleged leak of a 12-page internal memo that was purportedly sent by the lead prosecutor in the case, Datuk Jamil Aripin, to Tan Sri Tommy Thomas, who was the attorney-general.

“This has become a public matter as it (memo) is in the public domain.

“In the document, a team of seven DPPs and five investigating officers are unanimous in taking the stance that the five charges are non-starters, as they do not meet a minimum requirement and threshold for the CBT charges to be brought to court and to secure a prima facie case against the duo (Najib and Irwan).

“That is a very damning opinion against the prosecution going any further.

“In order to prove our defence, we are asking the DPP to take a stance on whether this leaked document is true, exists and is genuine,” he said, adding that the memo has become relevant, because Najib’s defence in the case is a total abuse of power and political persecution, especially when Thomas himself said he was a political appointee.

However, Kumaraendran told his fellow lawyer that the court is not a proper forum to raise about the alleged leaked memo.

At this juncture, Saifuddin countered that he had no comment on the leaked memo.

When met by reporters after the proceedings, Shafee said he would write to the Attorney-General’s Chambers to remind them of the representations filed by Najib.

“The trial has been fixed in June and July…the representations that have been sent by both parties haven’t gotten any answers,” he said.

He also indicated calling Thomas to testify to support his defence that the case was a blatant abuse of process. – Bernama, September 15, 2023


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Triple murder of siblings: court upholds labourer's death sentence

14 Sep 2023

PUTRAJAYA -- The Court of Appeal here today upheld the death sentence of a labourer for the triple murder of three young siblings five years ago.

A three-member bench comprising Justice Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera, Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah and Datuk Azmi Ariffin unanimously dismissed ShahrulPitriJusoh’s appeal against his conviction and death sentence.

In the court’s decision, Justice Vazeer said ShahrulPitri’s defence of legal insanity has been rebutted by a consultant forensic psychiatrist expert who testified that the accused (ShahrulPitri) was aware of the consequences of his action.

On the death sentence, Justice Vazeer rejected ShahrulPitri’s request for his death sentence to be commuted to a jail sentence.

Justice Vazeer said although the appellate court has the discretion to set aside the death sentence imposed on ShahrulPitri, 40, and commute it to a custodial sentence of between 30 years to 40 years, in the light of the latest amendment to Section 302 of the Penal Code, the court found that there is no reasonable basis for the court to exercise its discretion to do so.

Looking at the overall evidence and mitigation presented by the appellant, he said it was the court’s view that it should give priority to the public interest as well as the interest of the deceased and the victims.

Justice Vazeer said the lives of three children were lost due to the cruel acts of the appellant.

Hence, he said the death sentence imposed by the High Court on ShahrulPitri is upheld.

On Aug 6, 2020, the Ipoh High Court found ShahrulPitri guilty of killing Muhammad Faqih ZahirulhagMohdFadzil, five, Muhammad FirashZafrill, three, and Nur Zia Fasihah, two, in a house in  Kampung Sungai Haji Muhammad, Selekoh, TelukIntan, Perak between 2.30 pm and 2.40 pm on May 17, 2018.

ShahrulPitri, 40, was also found guilty and sentenced to six years’ jail for attempting to kill the children’s mother Zuraidah Mat Ali, using a machete at the same place and time.

He was also sentenced to another six years’ jail for causing hurt to the elder sister of the siblings Nur ZurynFazieraMohdFadzil, 10, her friend Nur AinaUmairaSubri, 11, and a teacher RedhuanEmbi, 37.

The High Court had ordered ShahrulPitri to serve the sentences consecutively which means he will have to serve 12 years in prison.

Earlier, court-assigned counsel Rajit Singh informed the court that ShahrulPitri is only appealing with respect to the High Court’s decision for the murder charges.

He said SharulPitri is withdrawing his appeals against his conviction and imprisonment term for the attempted murder offence and the causing hurt offences. The court subsequently struck out his appeals.

Deputy public prosecutor Fauziah Daud submitted that the consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Ian Lloyd Anthony’s testimony did not support ShahrlPitri’s defence of legal insanity.

She also asked the court to maintain the death sentence saying that it involved three innocent young children.

ShahrulPitri has one more right of appeal, that is to the Federal Court. -- Bernama, September 14, 2023

TAGS: Triple murder, ShahrulPitriJusoh, three siblings, Court of Appeal, Death


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Police informed of Malaysian's arrest in Norway over suspected espionage

14 Sep 2023

PUTRAJAYA – The Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) have been informed by Norwegian security forces regarding the arrest of a man believed to be a Malaysian in Oslo, Norway on suspicion of being involved in espionage, says Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

He said the police would examine all information received and were ready to cooperate in the investigation.

"I was briefed by the Inspector-General of Police (Tan Sri Razarudin Husain) yesterday afternoon with regard to the background of the case, but we are still waiting for complete information.

"For now, the Norwegian security forces have informed our security forces of the individual's status, background and certain evidence they have chosen to share with us," he told the media after attending the 2023 World Day Against Anti Trafficking in Persons celebration here, today.

Saifuddin  said the police would use all the necessary instruments to help investigate the case as it involved ties with another country and the sensitivity of the matter with regard to espionage or eavesdropping.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Malaysian Embassy in Stockholm confirmed that a man believed to be a Malaysian citizen had been arrested for suspected involvement in espionage in Norway.

International media agencies reported that a 25-year-old Malaysian student in Norway was arrested by local authorities for alleged spying, including using various technical devices for eavesdropping.

According to the report, the Norwegian police intelligence agency known as PST claimed that the man had attempted to spy on the prime minister's office, the Ministry of Defence and other government offices in Oslo.

PST told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that the man who was arrested last Friday (Sept 8) had been charged in court with conducting espionage. –  The Vibes, September 14, 2023


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North America


CAIR-GA Condemns Approval of Controversial Zoning Proposal in Gullah Geechee Community

Ismail Allison

September 14, 2023

(ATLANTA, GA, 09/14/2023) – The Georgia chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) today condemned the approval of a controversial zoning proposal by McIntosh County that severely weakens protections for Hogg Hummock, a Gullah Geechee community descended from enslaved Bilali Muhammad. 

Despite overwhelming public opposition to the proposal to more than double permissible home size on the island, which would severely impact Hogg Hummock property taxes and drive indigenous landowners away, County Commissioners voted in favor of the proposal 3-2 on September 12th.  

“We are proud to stand with Sapelo Island’s Gullah Geechee people. They are a unique and beautiful community, and a living link to some of the first American Muslims.” said Megan Gordon, CAIR-Georgia Policy Manager, “We are incredibly disappointed and angry with McIntosh Commissioners Poole, Stevenson, and Karwacki for prioritizing millionaire’s vacation houses over the Gullah Geechee and their ancestral home. This fight is far from over, and we will do all we can to ensure the Gullah Geechee are able to stay in their ancestral home on Sapelo Island.”

See CAIR-Georgia’s action alert against this vote here:

The contested zoning proposal faced hours of oppositional public testimony in a County Planning & Zoning Commission meeting on September 7th with a historically high number of 200 community members in attendance. Everyone who spoke at the hearing was against the proposal. State legislators, faith leaders, attorneys from the Southern Poverty Law Center, community activists, laypeople, and a CAIR-Georgia representative were also present at the September 7th meeting. The McIntosh County Sheriff did not allow recording of that hearing or the County Commission meeting on September 11th, which is a violation of the Open Meetings Act. Members of the press were allowed to record with their cell phones at the County Commission meeting on September 12th, when the Commission voted on the proposal.

See CAIR-Georgia’s action alert to protect Hogg Hummock here:

After learning about the vote, Senator Nikki Merritt said: 

“McIntosh Commissioners’ decision to disregard the vehement opposition of the Hogg Hummock Community, despite numerous residents passionately expressing their concerns at county meetings, appears to be nothing short of an act of institutional theft, driven by the interests of the wealthy and powerful. This move threatens the very existence of the Gullah-Geechee people and their unique culture.  The fight is not over, we must demand justice for Hogg Hammock all legal options are on the table.”


Sapelo Island is home to descendants of enslaved people like Bilali Muhammad, a historic Islamic scholar for American Muslims. Bilali Muhammad established a Muslim community and Islamic practices on the island and wrote the first known Islamic document in North America.

Muslim House Representative of Georgia, RuwaRomman, said: 

“I’m disappointed in McIntosh County Commissioners’ decision to weaken zoning restrictions that, for decades, have protected one of the last intact Gullah-Geechee communities in the world. Weakening the already measly protections will further displace this historic community and further endanger the natural flora and fauna of this island.” 

The Gullah Geechee community on Sapelo Island has faced discrimination and attempts at erasure before. Prior to this meeting, housing sizes were capped at 1400 square feet, but these limits were not enforced for new developers on the island. Property taxes for natives almost doubled. 

SEE ALSO: Descendants of enslaved Africans on Georgia island fear losing their culture and some property after a change in zoning laws

After the county vote, Representative Kim Schofield stated: 

“This egregious action only further expresses the hatred and long-standing racism that is directed toward people of color on Sapelo Island and the Hog Hummock community. Our fight continues.”

In addition to discriminately enforced housing requirements, the ferries to and from the island were infrequent and inadequately timed which prevented natives on the island from being able to have jobs on the mainland or build a robust tourism industry.

In response to learning about these violations, Representative Viola Davis said: 

“The residents of Sapelo Island have faced limits on voicing opposition to zoning changes, restricted transportation, and a profound violation of their First Amendment Rights, especially to petition their government. We must conduct a comprehensive investigation to dismantle these systemic barriers that impede taxpayers and voters of Sapelo Island from petitioning their government effectively. Democracy thrives when every voice is heard.”

The Gullah Geechee also suffered from a lack of emergency fire and ambulance on the island despite their aging population. Although they pay taxes, McIntosh County also fails to provide adequate trash services to the community.

Georgia State Representative Shelly Hutchinson stated: 

“It’s shameful that greed trumped the rights if the indigenous families of Hog Hummock on September 12th in Darien, Georgia. We will support the families in this fight every step of the way.”  

Earlier this summer, CAIR-Georgia arranged a legislative tour to show elected officials firsthand the hardships faced by residents of Sapelo Island.

SEE: CAIR-Georgia Holds the First Historic Meeting Between Legislators and the Gullah Geechee Residents of Sapelo Island

Representative Sandra Scott relayed an important message to the Gullah Geechee community that has been tirelessly fighting for their right to stay on their native land, “To the Hogg Hammock Community: Please don’t get weary. Trust God! I have been supporting you for 12 years and I will continue to stand and support you in saving your ancestral land.”

Like Sandra, CAIR-Georgia will continue to support the Gullah Geechee community in saving their land. 

CAIR-Georgia’s mission is to protect civil rights, promote justice, empower American Muslims, and enhance the understanding of Islam.  


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CAIR-Texas Welcomes Guilty Plea for 2015 Anti-Muslim Murder of Man in Dallas

Ismail Allison

September 14, 2023

(DALLAS, TX, 9/14/23) – The Texas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Texas) today welcomed a guilty plea by a Dallas man for a 2015 bias-motivated murder of a man at a car repair shop.

Anthony Paz Torres, 38, pleaded guilty to five federal hate crime counts for killing one individual and attempting to kill four others at Omar’s Wheels and Tires in Dallas, Texas, on Dec. 24, 2015. 

Torres’ shooting spree came a days after he went to the business, made anti-Muslim statements and pledged that he would come back. During the shooting attack, Torres asked customers if they were Muslim and then opened fire. Sentencing is set for Jan. 24, 2024. Torres faces a maximum penalty of up to 37 years in prison.

SEE: Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Hate Crime Charges

Last year, CAIR-DFW welcomed a federal grand jury’s indictment of Torres on hate crime charges. 

“We welcome this guilty plea and look forward to a sentence that will send a strong message of deterrence to all those who would turn bigoted views into violent action,” said CAIR-Houston Director William White. “We thank law enforcement authorities for their actions in bringing this perpetrator to justice.”

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.              

La misión de CAIR esproteger las libertadesciviles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a losmusulmanesenlosEstadosUnidos. 


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US agency warns of extremist attacks ahead of 2024 election

Sep 15, 2023

WASHINGTON: The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned Thursday that the threat from domestic extremism remains high ahead of the November 2024 elections.

The warning comes despite the prosecution and imprisonment of hundreds -- including members of extremist groups -- for the January 6, 2021 assault on the US Capitol.

"In 2024, we expect the threat of violence from violent extremists radicalized in the United States will remain high," DHS said in its annual US threat assessment.

The threat from domestic violent extremists -- those without particular international ties -- and extremists inspired by foreign terrorist organizations is little-changed, it said.

Both "will continue to be inspired and motivated by a mix of conspiracy theories; personalized grievances; and enduring racial, ethnic, religious, and anti-government ideologies, often shared online," the DHS report said.

DHS said a key threat is from racially and ethnically-motivated extremists who advocate for race war.

In the past two years, several attacks by extremist groups have targeted communications and energy infrastructure, such as power plants, with the goal of stirring up fear and destabilizing society.

Multiple individuals have also carried out racially-motivated mass shootings.

The most recent incident occurred in late August in Jacksonville, Florida, when a 21-year-old white man killed three Black people in a discount store before taking his own life.

During next year's election, DHS said, extremists motivated by conspiracy theories and anti-government grievances may also "seek to disrupt electoral processes."

It warned of possible violence or threats against government officials, voters and election officials.

In addition, DHS said, "Russia, China, and Iran likely see the upcoming election season in 2024 as an opportunity to conduct overt and covert influence campaigns aimed at shaping favorable US policy outcomes and undermining US stability."


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United States sanctions 150+ businesses and persons from foe Russia to Nato member Turkiye

Sep 15, 2023

The US said Thursday that it was sanctioning more than 150 businesses and people from Russia to Turkiye, the UAE and Georgia to try to crack down on evasion and deny the Kremlin access to technology, money and financial channels that fuel Russian president Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine. The sanctions package is one of the biggest by the state and treasury departments and is the latest to target people and companies in countries, notably in Nato member Turkiye, that sell Western technology to Russia that could be used to bolster its war effort.

The package also aims to hobble the development of Russia's energy sector and future sources of cash, including Arctic natural gas projects, as well as mining and factories producing and repairing Russian weapons. "The purpose of the action is to restrict Russia's defence production capacity and to reduce the liquidity it has to pay for its war," James O'Brien, head of the state department's office of Sanctions Coordination, said.

Both Turkiye and the UAE have condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine but have not joined Western sanctions and sought to maintain ties with Russia. The action was taken at a delicate moment for US-Turkiye relations, with Washington hoping Ankara will ratify Nato membership for Sweden when the Turkish parliament reconvenes in October. There was no immediate comment from the Turkish government.

Meanwhile, Russia declared two US diplomats "persona non grata" and ordered them to leave the country within a week as they were allegedly involved in "illegal activity."


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Top US general expresses 'lots of regrets' for way Afghan war ended

September 14, 2023

Anadolu Agency

WASHINGTON:Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley expressed "lots of regrets" about the way the US war in Afghanistan concluded and said it did not align with his desired outcome.

The top general acknowledged that "in a broader sense, the war was lost."

"It didn't end the way I wanted it. That didn't end the way any of us wanted it," Milley said in an interview with ABC News. "Look, at -- when the enemy is occupying your capital ... that's a strategic setback, strategic failure. And there's no way you can describe that as a strategic success."

He said US forces were fighting the Taliban and their allies for more than 20 years.

"And they prevailed in that capital for a lot of reasons that we don't have time to go over today. But, sure, lots of regrets by a lot of us from, from 9/11 on," he said.

Milley said wars are not lost in the last 10 days or 10 months but are the cumulative effect of lots of turns and twists over many.

"And this war, when the final history is written, will prove to be the same. Lots of lessons learned. Lots of lefts when you should have gone right. And that'll all come out in due time. But lots of regrets, absolutely, 100%. Every single soldier I lost is a regret," he said.

The US lost 2,400 service members in Afghanistan.


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Russia accuses US of stagnating Palestine-Israel peace process

September 15, 2023

Russia has accused the United States of stagnating Palestine-Israel peace process.

The spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova made comments on anniversary of Oslo Accords.

She said differences between Israelis and Palestinians can only be resolved through direct and comprehensive dialogue.

The Spokesperson said Russia supports accelerating collective steps aimed at creating necessary preconditions for resumption of peace process.


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US hits five Turkish firms with sanctions over trade with Russia

14 September 2023

The administration of US President Joe Biden has blacklisted five Turkish companies and a Turkish national as part of new sanctions aiming to hamstring the Russian economy over the Ukraine war.

The sanctions issued on Thursday target shipping and trade companies accused of helping repair sanctioned vessels tied to Russia's defense ministry and helping the transfer of "dual-use goods."

Three Turkish firms were placed under sanctions for supplying Russian defense-related manufacturers. Another two Turkish firms, and the owner of one of them, were hit for providing ship repair services to vessels involved with the Russian defense sector.

They were among more than 150 individuals, companies and institutions added to the US Treasury and State Department blacklists for their alleged roles in supporting Russia during the war.

"The US government is targeting individuals and entities engaged in sanctions evasion and circumvention, those complicit in furthering Russia's ability to wage its war against Ukraine, and those responsible for bolstering Russia's future energy production," said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement.

Multiple senior US officials, including Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo, have traveled to Turkey in recent months as part of a pressure campaign to prevent any Turkish companies from helping Russia circumvent US curbs.

The US reportedly warns Turkey against helping Russia bypass American sanctions.

"For the past 18 months, we've shared our concerns with the Turkish government and private sector and informed them of the significant risks of doing business with those we've sanctioned who are tied to Russia's war," a senior US Treasury official was quoted as saying.

"These designations reflect our ongoing commitment to target individuals and entities who provide material support to sanctioned entities," the official added.

The action was taken at a delicate moment for US-Turkey relations. Ties with the US have been strained over Turkey's reluctance to support the bids of Sweden and Finland to join NATO following the Ukraine war.

While Finnish membership was sealed in April, Sweden's application remains held up by Turkey and Hungary.

Ankara has accused Sweden of harboring militants hostile to the Turkish state.

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is redefining political lines around the world.

After months of objections, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan agreed at a NATO summit in July to forward Sweden's NATO bid to the Turkish parliament for ratification, but the exact timing of the approval remains unclear.

The United States has repeatedly said Sweden has done enough to alleviate Turkey's concerns and that its membership should be approved now.

The United States imposes sanctions on four Russian businessmen.

Russia is already under harsh sanctions by the US. Ever since the war began, Kiev's allies, led by the United States and Britain, have been supplying Ukraine with weapons, a step that Russia says would prolong the conflict.


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US-backed militants fight each other in Syria. Who is to blame?

14 Sep, 2023

Rival US-backed militants went to battle in northeastern Syria in a conflict originally sparked by ethnic tensions. However, as the situation matured, efforts were made to shift the blame onto Russia, Iran and the Syrian government, despite years of mismanagement and abuses by the American-aligned forces there. While the opposing US-backed militants duke it out for control and Arab tribes stand their ground, Washington is attempting to spin the crisis into a justification for its occupation of the territory.

At least 90 people were killed in clashes between the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and local Arab militias following the arrests of tribal leaders in the region last week. The conflict had been sparked by a perceived attempt by the US-backed SDF to assert Kurdish ethnic supremacy in the Deirez-Zor province. The SDF, which is headed by Kurds, also includes a large number of Arabs in its ranks, including in the Arab-majority Deirez-Zor Military Council militia, headed by commander Ahmed al-Khubayl (Abu Khawla). Al-Khubayl, as well as being a militia commander, is also the emir of the Bakir tribe and his arrest in late August is what initiated the current conflict.

For days, the fighting was limited to the Deirez-Zor area, where clansmen from the Bakir tribe had taken up arms against the Kurdish-led SDF in retaliation for the arrest of Abu Khawla. After allegations emerged that US-trained SDF fighters had murdered Arab civilians in their homes during door-to-door raids, however, the uprising began to spread. In the village of Daman, where Kurdish special forces had entered and besieged the area, reports indicated that Kurdish fighters had tortured four family members to death in their home in retaliation for the killing of a number of their compatriots. Stories like these, which spread on social media, contributed to a general Arab uprising along the Euphrates river area against SDF rule.

The West appears to be preparing another regime change ‘uprising’ in SyriaREAD MORE: The West appears to be preparing another regime change ‘uprising’ in Syria

It is important to keep in mind that the SDF essentially works as a proxy force of the US military, enabling it to occupy a third of Syrian territory with a limited number of American ground forces needed. According to the US government, only 900 American soldiers are deployed inside Syria, alongside an unspecified number of private military contractors. This third of Syria is regarded as the nation’s breadbasket, home to the vast majority of the country’s oil wealth and its most fertile agricultural lands. US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Dana Stroul openly admits that holding hostage this third of Syria’s land from the government based in Damascus works to give the White House leverage over the Syrian state.

Instead of addressing the real issues that exist inside the territory, which Aron Lund of the Century International think tank described as a “tinderbox,” the US government and establishment media have run with oversimplified claims about the ongoing conflict. The US-backed SDF claimed immediately that the Syrian government was involved in backing the uprising and attempted to frame the conflict as externally influenced. The reason for this claim is that the SDF seeks to protect its image as a democratic governing force, whose military features progressive all-female units, while also attempting to draw the US more directly into the conflict on its own side. Historically, despite the US having worked alongside the SDF against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists, when the Kurdish-led forces have come under attack, Washington has repeatedly abandoned its proxy. This happened during the 2018 and 2019 incursions into SDF held territory by the Turkish Army.

Despite the SDF not being a purely Kurdish force, it is clearly dominated by Kurds. This alone had never been enough to spark a revolt from Arab tribes, the majority of which maintained cordial ties with the American-backed governing forces. The reality is that the SDF has conducted itself in a corrupt manner inside northeastern Syria, mismanaging the economy, committing human rights abuses, and even forcibly drafting child soldiers into its armed forces. There have been countless claims of the types of abuses committed by the SDF, including ethnically motivated attacks. Many of these cannot be corroborated, but what is important about these claims is that they add to an environment of contempt in relation to the US proxy force.

After the initial uprising from the Arab tribes along the Euphrates river came a wave of clashes with Turkish-backed fighters and even militants who are backed by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) terrorist group, an Al-Qaeda offshoot that controls most of the Idlib province. It appears as though HTS and Türkiye had both attempted to take advantage of the situation, either for leverage against the SDF or to take control of a greater portion of Syrian territory. While Türkiye treats the SDF as a terrorist group, HTS had actually engaged in joint talks with the SDF for the creation of a shared governing authority earlier this year.

US betrays its own principles to preserve chaos in SyriaREAD MORE: US betrays its own principles to preserve chaos in Syria

As this was going on, the US readied itself to jump in as an intermediary between the opposing sides in order to calm tensions, warning that the expansion of the conflict could result in a resurgence of IS inside the territory. It is interesting that the US’ pseudo-legal justification for its continued military occupation of Syrian territory came in the form of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), which is warranted by the 1991 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF). OIR ostensibly works to target IS but it was revealed earlier this year by the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) commander, Major-General Matthew McFarlane, that IS attacks had decreased by 68% in Syria and 80% in Iraq compared to the same timeframe in 2022.

American forces remain in Syria supposedly to continue anti-IS operations, but the terrorist group barely even exists at this time. In reality, therefore, OIR is being continued indefinitely in order to serve Washington’s key agenda of combating Iranian and Russian influence in Syria. The Damascus government is to be undermined at all costs, according to US thinking. A myriad of militants that have received American backing are fighting bloody battles over abuses that were not corrected under Washington’s watch. Instead of accepting accountability, however, it’s seeking to shift blame onto Damascus, Tehran and Moscow, while working to justify its continued occupation of Syrian land.


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US military resumes drone flights in Niger

14 Sep, 2023

The US military has resumed drone flights and manned aircraft missions out of its bases in Niger as part of its counterterrorism mission, the head of Washington’s Air Forces in Europe and Africa, General James Hecker, announced on Wednesday.

The resumption comes more than a month after operations were halted in response to the July 26 coup in Niger, which ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.

Speaking to reporters at the annual Air and Space Forces Association convention at National Harbor, Maryland on Wednesday, Hecker said drone operations for intelligence and surveillance missions had resumed “in recent weeks” following talks with coup leaders in Niamey.

“For a while, we weren’t doing any missions on the bases, they pretty much closed down the airfields,” the Associated Press quoted Hecker as saying.

“Through the diplomatic process, we are now doing, I wouldn’t say 100% of the missions that we were doing before, but we’re doing a large amount of missions that we’re doing before,” the military chief added.

Niger is the primary hub for US military operations involving counterterrorism intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance against Islamic militant groups in West Africa’s Sahel region. Washington maintains two bases in the country, which house around 1,100 US troops.

Last week, Niamey’s new military rulers announced that they had reopened the country’s airspace to all commercial flights, which had been closed since early August, just days after they took control of the government.

However, a US military official told the VOA news outlet in an interview published on Friday that commercial flight access had not “normalized” drone flight frequencies.

US to cut military presence in Niger – PoliticoREAD MORE: US to cut military presence in Niger – Politico

The Pentagon previously said some of its military personnel and assets had been relocated from an air base near the Nigerien capital to another in Agadez, where the army has flown drones since 2019.

Sabrina Singh, the Pentagon’s deputy press secretary, clarified that the action was “simply a precautionary measure,” emphasizing that there were no threats to US troops or violence on the ground.

US Department of Defense Press Secretary Brigadier General Patrick Ryder also reportedly confirmed that Washington was back flying missions in Niger, but only to “monitor for threats for the purposes of force protection.”


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European states refuse to end Iran sanctions

15 Sep, 2023

France, Germany and the UK have said they will not lift certain sanctions imposed on Iran due to its alleged “severe non-compliance” with the 2015 nuclear pact signed with world powers. The three countries previously vowed to end the penalties by late 2023 as part of the deal.

A spokesperson representing the three European countries – known collectively as the ‘E3’ – issued a statement on Thursday addressing the sanctions issue. The official said they would renege on commitments to lift various measures as spelled out in the nuclear pact, formally titled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“In direct response to Iran’s consistent and severe non-compliance with its JCPOA commitments since 2019, the governments of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom intend to maintain nuclear proliferation-related measures on Iran, as well as arms and missile embargoes,” the joint statement said.

Mossad fears Russian weapons transfers to IranREAD MORE: Mossad fears Russian weapons transfers to Iran

The E3 went on to claim that it had made multiple attempts to “resolve Iran’s non-compliance” through a dispute resolution mechanism built into the nuclear deal, but said Tehran has “refused opportunities to return to the JCPOA twice and has continued to expand its [nuclear] programme beyond JCPOA limitations.”

While the nuclear pact placed hard limits on Iran’s nuclear power program – including restrictions on the quantity of enriched uranium it could store at any given time – its other signatories also agreed to various commitments, primarily sanctions relief for Tehran.

However, Iranian officials insist they are no longer bound by those rules given Washington’s unilateral abrogation of the deal in 2018, when then-US President Donald Trump opted to reimpose all previous sanctions on Tehran and expand them, violating the core US commitment under the JCPOA.

Iran rejects US limits on use of its unfrozen moneyREAD MORE: Iran rejects US limits on use of its unfrozen money

Since then, the Islamic Republic has gradually ramped up its nuclear program, enriching uranium beyond the ceiling set out by the deal. In its statement on Thursday, the E3 accused the country of keeping a stockpile that is “more than 18 times the amount permitted under the JCPOA.”

Though Iranian negotiators have held several rounds of talks with their US and European counterparts since 2021, the discussions have all but stalled. Tehran continues to insist its nuclear program has no military dimension, and has repeatedly stressed that it will only resume compliance with the nuclear deal when the other signatories move forward on the promised sanctions relief.


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German prosecutor files murder charges against Syrian citizen accused of 'Islamist-motivated' attack

14 September 2023

BERLIN (AP) — Germany's federal prosecutor's office said Thursday it had brought charges of murder, attempted murder and grievous bodily harm against a Syrian citizen in connection with two “Islamist-motivated” knife attacks.

The suspect is accused of stabbing a man to death in the city of Duisburg in April, and of a second attack a few days later in which five people at a gym suffered knife wounds.

The man, identified only as Maan D. in line with German privacy rules, is a follower of the Islamic State group, the prosecutor's statement alleged. He was charged on Aug. 30, the statement said.

He is accused of first stabbing to death a man he met by chance in the early hours of April 9 this year in Duisburg’s old city.

He allegedly stabbed the victim at least 28 times in the abdomen, head and neck area with a knife. The victim died on the same day.

On April 18, he allegedly went to a gym in Duisburg to kill as many of the people he considered “infidels” as possible.

Prosecutors say he stabbed three studio visitors in the locker room and shower area, in some cases several times in the upper body, causing life-threatening injuries. Subsequently, they say he inflicted two stab wounds to the thigh of a first-aider.

The suspect was detained on April 24 and has been in prison since then.

“Maan D. is a follower of the radical Islamist ideology of the foreign terrorist organization ‘Islamic State’” the prosecutor's statement alleges. “Based on this attitude, he decided to contribute to the worldwide jihad by killing alleged ‘infidels’ in Germany.”


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German journalist says he will stop criticising Islam after spate of threats

14 September 2023

A high-profile journalist in Germany has announced that he no longer intends to discuss or criticise Islam after a recent spate of threats levelled against him.

Constantin Schreiber, an author and journalist working with the state-operated Tagesschau TV news programme, has written a number of books on the religion and his work has been compared to that of French author and poet Michel Houellebecq.

In an interview with Die Zeit, Schreiber said he wanted to leave that chapter of his life behind after receiving numerous threats over his discussion of Islam.

“I will no longer comment on anything that has even the remotest connection to Islam,” he said.

“I won’t write any books about it, I turn down talk-show requests, I won’t do it anymore. Some people might celebrate now and maybe open the bubbly bottles.”

Schreiber cited a number of menaces and verbal attacks on him as the reason for dropping the topic, describing how several of his colleagues had lambasted him as being far-right.

He also talked about receiving abuse from members of the public, with one taxi driver threatening him after picking the journalist up from his workplace.

“Now I know where you live!” Schrieber described the cabbie as saying, adding that the experience was “scary”.

The journalist is far from the first public figure to drop their discussion of Islam amid threats of violence.

British evolutionary biologist and author Richard Dawkins, an atheist activist who has been a long-time critic of the religion, surprised much of the public earlier this year by point-blank refusing to discuss the faith during an interview.

Asked about the topic by UK TV presenter Piers Morgan in March, Dawkins – who had previously labelled Islam as “the most evil religion in the world” – mumbled that he would rather not talk about it.

The interview took place after the near-fatal attack on writer Salman Rushdie, who was left with life-altering injuries after being targeted by an Islamic fundamentalist in New York in August 2022.

Since publishing his contentious novel The Satanic Verses in 1987, Rushdie has been under pressure from Muslim fundamentalists, with Iran’s then Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a $3 million fatwa calling for his death over the book in 1989.


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EU provides over three million Euros in Aid to Afghanistan

Fidel Rahmati

September 15, 2023

The European Union has announced a contribution of €3.3 million to Afghanistan to support local communities facing climate change.

RaffaellaLodice, the EU representative in Kabul, said during a meeting with Sarajuddin Haqqani, the acting Minister of Interior, that this assistance will cover seven provinces in the country.

Raffaella emphasized that climate change challenges vulnerable communities worldwide, including Afghanistan.

These funds are intended to be allocated to the internally displaced persons committee.

The EU representative in Kabul considers community preparedness for climate change crucial for well-being and resilience, saying that these contributions aim to help Afghan citizens withstand the impacts of climate change.

According to reports, the EU’s aid will benefit 8,100 vulnerable families in Dykundi, Faryab, Ghazni, Kapisa, Paktia, and Takhar.

Climate change has significantly affected people’s lives in various regions of the country, with recurrent droughts exacerbating hunger and poverty.

The United Nations and Afghanistan’s National Environmental Protection Agency have conducted assessments, revealing that Afghanistan ranks among the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change.

This designation underscores the urgent need for international cooperation and sustainable measures to address the environmental challenges faced by the Afghan population.

The consequences of climate change in Afghanistan are far-reaching and demand immediate attention. Droughts have threatened food security and exacerbated poverty, highlighting the necessity for comprehensive efforts to mitigate the impacts and build resilience in this vulnerable nation.


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