New Age Islam
Wed Jun 19 2024, 06:34 AM

Islamic World News ( 14 March 2021, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

Combatting Islamophobia in Australia : Victorian Mosques Open Their Doors To Educate And ‘Remove Hatred’

New Age Islam News Bureau

14 March 2021


Islamophobia in Australia/ Wikipedia for Free Encyclopedia


• Combatting Islamophobia in Australia : Victorian Mosques Open Their Doors To Educate And ‘Remove Hatred’

•Islam Rejects Every Invitation To A Belief By Force Of Arms: Al-Azhar Grand Imam

• Swiss Jews Join Muslims In Protesting Referendum Banning Face-Covering Veils

• NYC Park Christian Ranger Alleges He Lost Job Because He Refused To Shave His Beard

• Boko Haram Threat Complicates Plans to Resettle Displaced Nigerians

• Govt-Backed Jirga Brokers Deal Over Hindu Shrine Attack Issue

• Quds Force Commander Admits Iran Supporting Houthi Attacks On Saudi Arabia

• After Landmark ‘Allah’ Ruling, Sarawak Human Rights Fighter Urges State, Putrajaya To Review All Religious Policies


• Combatting Islamophobia in Australia : Victorian Mosques Open Their Doors To Educate And ‘Remove Hatred’

•Australian Citizen Facing ‘Credible Risk’ Of Torture In Saudi Arabia


Arab World

• Islam Rejects Every Invitation To A Belief By Force Of Arms: Al-Azhar Grand Imam

• Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre launches 2021 plan

• 6 Saudi mosques closed after virus outbreaks

• Digital ID service launched for expats in Saudi Arabia

• Over 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in Saudi Arabia

• Digital ID service launched for expats in Saudi Arabia



• Swiss Jews Join Muslims In Protesting Referendum Banning Face-Covering Veils

• Blackburn's Issa Brothers' £5m Mosque Plans Edge Closer - And How It Could Benefit The Community

• Journalists, Heads Of NGOs And Public Activists Visit Juma Mosque In Liberated Aghdam

• London Police clash with mourners and protesters at Everard vigil


North America

• NYC Park Christian Ranger Alleges He Lost Job Because He Refused To Shave His Beard

• Biden Mulls Appointing First-Ever Muslim Federal Judge

• Biden Administration Enlists FEMA To Help With Surge Of Children At U.S.-Mexico Border

• Canada promised to end solitary confinement, report shows it has not



• Boko Haram Threat Complicates Plans to Resettle Displaced Nigerians

• Muslim Rights Concern, A Islamic Group Advises Nigerian Muslims On Covid-19 Vaccination, Says It Is Safe

• Nigeria: 19 killed in Boko Haram terror attack

• I feel hopeless after Boko Haram’s bomb killed my son, deformed me, wife, daughter – Borno IDP



• Govt-Backed Jirga Brokers Deal Over Hindu Shrine Attack Issue

• Alarm bells ringing as positivity rate of Covid cases surges

• Tribal People Using Twitter To Discuss Service Delivery Issues: World Bank

• Efficient and empowered authority urged for CPEC

• Micro-smart lockdown imposed in four localities of Rawalpindi

• PTI will now forward its reform agenda: Shibli



• Quds Force Commander Admits Iran Supporting Houthi Attacks On Saudi Arabia

• Israeli Forces Attack Palestinian Worshipers At Al-Aqsa Mosque

• Iran Validates Presidential Candidacies Of Military Staff

• Hazrat Abu Talib Sacrificed Everything To Defend Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H): Grand Ayatollah

• IDF chief Kochavi to lobby European leaders against Iran deal, Hezbollah

• Iran: State-owned Ship Hit By Minor Explosion, Tehran Terms It 'act Of Terrorism'


Southeast Asia

• After Landmark ‘Allah’ Ruling, Sarawak Human Rights Fighter Urges State, Putrajaya To Review All Religious Policies

• Islamic Finance Starts At Home, Not At The Bank, Says University Head And Financial Management Coach Dr. Murniati Mukhlisin

• DAP lawmaker says IGP and Ismail Sabri should be charged first under new ‘fake news’ law

• Kit Siang: AG must answer if individuals who question PM’s Emergency declaration are prosecuted


South Asia

• While Ankara, Moscow Draws Up For Afghan Peace Summits, US Officials Signal Extreme Risks

• Taliban offensive claims 5, wounds 2 ANA soldiers

• ANA, AAF operations claim 28 Taliban in Kandahar



• Ayodhya: Construction of Mosque, Hospital by Sunni Waqf Board to Begin in May

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Combatting Islamophobia in Australia : Victorian Mosques Open Their Doors To Educate And ‘Remove Hatred’


Islamophobia in Australia/ Wikipedia for Free Encyclopedia


By Ashleigh McMillan

March 14, 2021

There is still a strong need to combat Islamophobia in Australia, with the increasing presence of far-right white supremacist movements across the world, the vice-president of the Islamic Council of Victoria says.

The group’s Mohamed Mohideen said in 2017 he had started an annual mosque open day to “break down myths and negative publicity” about the Muslim community.

The motto of “open doors, open hearts and open minds” rang true on Sunday, as Victorian mosques opened their doors to the masses to break down stereotypes and mistruths about Islam.

With barbecues on and henna at the ready, 15 mosques from across Melbourne and regional Victoria took part, welcoming hundreds of people for tours and talks about the religion.

“We wanted people to come in, visit a mosque, meet people and realise Muslims are no different to any other Australians,” he said, noting that the places of worship are open to people from different religious or cultural backgrounds year-round.

“You’re most welcome to go to any mosque, any time and ... ask any questions. No one is going to get offended - it’s better to get your concerns answered than just keeping it inside.”

Australian Bosnian Islamic Centre secretary Alen Havic said attendees enthusiastically took the opportunity to “see what the mosque was all about”.

“It was about building bridges, it’s about combating those negative stereotypes,” Mr Havic said. “It was interesting for them to see.”

The second anniversary of the Christchurch terror attack, where 51 people were killed by an Australian gunman at the Linwood Islamic Centre and Al Noor mosque, falls on Monday. Victorian mosques on Sunday held prayers for the people of Christchurch.

Earlier this month, a 27-year-old man was charged in New Zealand with making a threat to kill after allegedly posting a online threat against the Al Noor Mosque.

“Unfortunately Islamophobia is still here, there are still people who are not willing to accept a faith that is different to theirs or person with a different skin colour,” Mr Mohideen said.

“But there is lots of change and positives: people who come to our mosque say, ‘we always used to pass the mosque and had this fear to enter, but once we came in and saw it, we’re now regulars and know the community.’

“We hope and pray that by educating people, we can remove this hatred that could be there, and we hope and pray that nothing like (the Christchurch attack) will happen in Australia.”


Islam Rejects Every Invitation To A Belief By Force Of Arms: Al-Azhar Grand Imam


Al-Azhar grand imam


Ahram Online

13 Mar 2021

Islam has established peace as a main principle for Muslims’ dealing with others, Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayyeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, said during his address to the 31st International Conference of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs on Saturday.

Mohamed El-Doweiny, Al-Azhar’s deputy sheikh, delivered El-Tayyeb’s remarks during the conference, which Cairo hosts 13-14 March, titled “Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue."

Egypt’s Minister of Religious Endowments Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa and Mufti Shawki Allam took part in the conference.

El-Tayyeb encouraged dialogue among people as a “requirement necessitated by diversity and differences in tongues and colours.”

He added that dialogue among different people shall be on the plenty of things they have agreed upon.

"Inviting people to the way of Allah shall only be carried out through wisdom, good instruction, and quiet dialogue that does not hurt others or offend them or their beliefs," El-Doweiny said on behalf of El-Tayyeb.

“Islam rejects every invitation to a belief by force of arms, coercion, or exploitation of the poverty or sickness of people, as Quran states 'there is no compulsion in religion’,” El-Tayyeb said.

The grand imam explained that the word “peace” and its derivatives have been mentioned in the Quran 140 times, while the word “war” and its derivatives have been only mentioned six times.

El-Tayyeb noted that peace has been established in Islam as a main principle for Muslims in dealing with the world.

“In case you heard or read that a religion has licensed bloodshed and disposession, then you [should] know that this is a deceit in portraying the truth about this religion,” El-Tayyeb added.


Swiss Jews Join Muslims In Protesting Referendum Banning Face-Covering Veils


Muslim women in headscarves (Photo by Hasan Almasi on Unsplash)



March 13, 2021

Swiss voters passed a referendum on banning face-covering veils, prompting the country’s Muslim and Jewish groups to protest that infringement on religious freedoms.

The Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities and the Platform for Liberal Jews in Switzerland said the ban, which passed with 51% of the vote on Sunday, “restricts and violates several conditions of religious freedom.” In their joint statement, the groups also said they are “concerned that further legislative or federal popular initiatives could further undermine religious freedom in the future.”

The Swiss “have a long history of trying to curb migrations through banning religious practice,” Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the president of the Conference of European Rabbis and a Zurich native, wrote in a separate statement.

In 1892, the Swiss ban on kosher slaughter, which remains in place today, was “designed to stop the Jewish migration from Russia” from pogroms, he added.

“We fear that this attacks against religious freedom further weakens the ability to practice one’s faith, a basic freedom and human right which is fundamental to a liberal democracy,” Goldschmidt wrote.

He called it “ironic” that the ban is coming at a time when most people are covering their face regularly to avoid spreading the coronavirus. The ban does not apply to face masks.

The referendum does not mention Islam, and its advocates say it also applies to hooligans. France, Belgium and Austria have similar bans.


NYC Park Christian Ranger Alleges He Lost Job Because He Refused To Shave His Beard

By Dean Balsamini

March 13, 2021

A Queens man claims he was forced from his city Parks Department job because he refused to shave his beard.

Former park ranger Ryan Stancu, 31, says in a lawsuit he wore the beard as part of his Christian beliefs but was driven to quit after being told facial hair wasn’t allowed.

“We are not in the Stone Age here,” Stancu, of College Point, claims he was told, according to his Manhattan Federal Court complaint.

After he told superiors his full but neatly trimmed beard was required of his faith, they demanded a letter from his Eastern Christian Orthodox church proving it, Stancu said in court papers.

Stancu charges he was then prevented from being able to attend services because his bosses put him on a new schedule that had him working every Sunday.

They also grilled him daily about the shape of his facial hair and failed to promote him, according to the lawsuit, in which Stancu is acting as his own lawyer.

Stancu says he was eventually transferred to Washington Square Park, where the locker room and office were “infested with mold, rat poison and carbon monoxide,” according to the lawsuit. He claims he was repeatedly exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning.

He was allegedly threatened for not issuing “enough tickets,” not given proper protective gear at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and was finally forced to leave May 10, according to the claim.


Boko Haram Threat Complicates Plans to Resettle Displaced Nigerians

By Haruna Shehu

March 14, 2021

MAIDUGURI, NIGERIA, - Boko Haram militants have terrorized northeastern Nigeria for more than a decade, driving more than 2 million people from their homes, according to the United Nations.

Having escaped the Islamic extremists, these displaced people still face enormous challenges, struggling to get food and basic health care, to educate their children, to imagine a better future.

“Life here is very difficult. We are suffering,” said Mohammed Abba, who had a farm in the Konduga government area, about 25 kilometers southeast of Maiduguri. Now, he, his wife and five children live in a single, cramped room.

“During the rainy season, you would be shocked to see how we must cope. This room floods and we can’t sleep here,” he said. Abba used to “raise animals and do trading. But this is our situation today.”

His neighbor Falmata Abukar also came from Konduga with her husband. She blames what she considers inadequate health care in the camp for her son going blind in one eye.

“My child fell ill. He did not open his eyes for four days. He cannot see with that eye now,” Abukar said. “The eye is beyond repair.”

The camp’s residents, kept from their regular livelihoods, are trying to make ends meet. In daylight outside, women do needlework, crafting hats and other items to sell. So do girls who would have been in school if they were in their home communities.

Borno State has 32 official camps for displaced people and roughly 200 informal settlements. These are supported by the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and the federal government. They also receive support from humanitarian partners ranging from local groups to international organizations such as the U.N. International Children's Emergency Fund, the Norwegian Refugee Council, Save the Children and Doctors of the World.

“The IDPs [internally displaced persons) are tired of life in the camps,” Zulum said. “They complain to us day and night about their plight. They do not have food, and their children are being exploited. They need to return to their homes.”

That depends on regaining control of the territory from Boko Haram and protecting civilians, Zulum said. “We have to first ensure their safety. We don’t want to resettle people where there is no security.”

Many homes of displaced people were destroyed or are in areas still vulnerable to Boko Haram attack. So, for now, authorities are moving to resettle people in cities closer to home that are patrolled by federal troops.

That does not reassure Abba Gana Kolomi, a fish trader from the town of Baga near Lake Chad. A friend who returned there gave him a grim report about continuing insecurity and how it restricts the ability to earn a living.

“People cannot go to fishing,” he said. “They cannot find food anywhere, because no one has cultivated his farm or raised animals.”

Venturing from better-protected cities to fish, farm or do other chores in rural Borno State can be dangerous. In mid-February, a group of displaced people gathering firewood near the town of Damboa were abducted – and five were killed – in a suspected Boko Haram attack.


Govt-backed jirga brokers deal over Hindu shrine attack issue

Manzoor Ali

March 14, 2021

PESHAWAR: A jirga backed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has helped the residents of Karak district and members of the Hindu community reach an agreement to settle issues that arose after the desecration of a local Hindu shrine over two months ago.

On Dec 30, 2020, a mob had vandalised and torched the Shri Paramhans Ji Maharaj shrine in the remote Teri area of Karak district.

Adviser of the chief minister on science and information technology Ziaullah Bangash and Pakistan Hindu Council patron-in-chief and MNA Ramesh Kumar announced the deal in a presser here on Saturday.

The residents of Karak apologised to the Hindu community for vandalising its shrine. The Hindus accepted the apology and assured the jirga that they would cooperate with it on all issues, including the release of those detained on the charge of demolishing the shrine.

Karak residents apologise for incident, Hindus promise cooperation for release of detainees

The police had arrested over 30 residents, including a senior JUI-F leader and clerics, for desecrating the Hindu shrine.

Mr Bangash said a committee was formed by Chief Minister Mahmood Khan on the issue, while parleys were held at a local level and the Hindu Council was involved.

He said the jirga also met the chief minister to get his approval for the deal.

The chief minister’s aide said both sides and government representatives had met in the office of the home secretary two days ago and agreed on the deal.

He said the people put behind bars for the shrine desecration had also formally declared that they would follow the jirga’s decision, while Mr Kumar also held out an assurance that they would abide by that decision.

Mr Bangash said the local elders apologised to the Hindu community over the desecration of the Hindu shrine and assured it of the protection of its religious rights as enshrined in the Constitution.

The elders also said whenever Hindus visited Teri, they (elders) would welcome them.

Mr Kumar and government’s representatives agreed to offer cooperation for the release of those detained for the shrine attack.

He said both sides also agreed to resolve any issue arising in future through dialogue.

Mr Kumar said the Hindus also agreed to reciprocate after the local elders’ apology over tehe shrine attack by cooperating with them for the resolution of all issues, including the release of those behind bars.

He said the chief minister met him thrice on the issue.

On the occasion, local MPA Mian Nisar Gul Kakakhel said the incident occurred due to a misunderstanding and the government should take legal steps for the early release of detainees.

Meanwhile, the jirga members met Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and informed him about their efforts for the amicable resolution of issues regarding the Karak shrine attack.

According to a statement issued here, Mr Mahmood termed the Karak incident tragic and highly-condemnable one and said it was a failed bid to destroy peace and inter-faith harmony in the area.

He appreciated the jirga’s role to resolve the issue through negotiations.

The chief minister said the government would make all required steps to prevent such incidents in future and that the ulema and elders should play their due effective role in that respect.

He said Islam and Constitution guaranteed the protection of the rights of religious minorities in the country and that their all religious places in the province would be given complete protection.

Mr Mahmood said leaders of the Hindu community thanked the provincial government, especially the chief minister, for taking an effective yet quick action over the Karak shrine attack.


Quds Force commander admits Iran supporting Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia


March 14, 2021

JEDDAH: Tehran supports attacks on Saudi Arabia by the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ overseas Quds Force has admitted.

Ismail Qaani told a conference in the northeastern city of Mashhad that the Houthis had launched  “18 operations in less than 10 days” targeting the Kingdom.

He said Iran supported all such armed groups around the world, which he described as “forces of resistance against global arrogance.”

Qaani became head of the Quds Force after its previous leader, Qassem Soleimani, was assassinated in a US drone strike at Baghdad airport in January 2020. In his Mashhad speech, Qaani repeated threats that the US would pay a price for Soleimani’s death.

“We have made it clear that we will break the bones of the criminal US. The sound of them being fractured will be heard at the proper time,” he said.

The Quds Force leader also renewed Iranian threats against Israel. “Although Israel has all the world’s tools at its disposal, it is building a wall around itself 1 meter wide and 6 meters high, in order to remain safe,” he said. “But they must be sure that we will destroy that wall too.”

Meanwhile, Israel was probably behind an attack in the Mediterranean last week that damaged an Iranian container ship, investigators in Tehran said on Saturday. The container ship Shahr e Kord was hit by an explosive object that caused a small fire.

The incident came two weeks after the Israeli-owned MV Helios Ray was hit by an explosion in the Gulf of Oman, which Israel has blamed on Iran.


After landmark ‘Allah’ ruling, Sarawak human rights fighter urges state, Putrajaya to review all religious policies


13 Mar 2021

KUCHING, March 13 ― The Sarawak and federal governments should review all policies and directives relating to religious freedom and ensure they are in line with the Malaysian Constitution, a local human rights activist Peter John Jaban said today.

He made the call following the High Court decision this week quashing the 1986 federal government circular on the use of the name “Allah” in Christian publications.

“Religion has long been used as a divisive issue in Malaysia, not so much among the people but as a political tool.

“It runs through multiple aspects of Malaysia’s institutional life, from the mandatory conversion on marriage to public display of religious symbols, all the way down to allocation of public funding and our choice of leader,” Jaban said in a statement.

“The message from the court’s ruling, however, it is clear that  Malaysia respects and represents freedom of religion, which is enshrined in our constitution and it is the basis on which this nation is built,” he said.

He said the Malaysian government should look to the Federal Constitution as its guiding principle in all other legislations and practices, especially relating to Articles 3, 8, 11 and 12.

He added the word “Allah” has been used by the people of all faiths worldwide for centuries.

He said that thousands of churches in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, are called “Gereja Allah”.

“For many years, the Christian natives of Sabah and Sarawak have been using the word, imported from an Arabic, in their daily worship.

“It was only in the last forty years that the Malaysian government has decided to legislate the use of language in this way. But the court’s ruling tells us that this is a clear departure from the shared basis of our nation,” he said.

Jaban also welcomed any appeal in the Federal Court on the High Court’s judgment, saying that the apex court’s ruling and precedent should be set.

“The judiciary, sworn to uphold the primacy and integrity of the Constitution, should lead the way. But this should not stop at this one circular,” he said, adding the Federal Court should also look at the legislations, directives, and circulars that touched on the rights of the Christians.

Jaban also called on the government of Sarawak, Malaysia’s only non-Muslim majority state, to speak out on this issue.

“It is time for them to show the way in reviewing their legislation. They shouldn’t wait to be directed by the courts.

“It is time for Malaysia to be reborn as it was originally intended that people of all religions, races, descents, places of birth or genders are free from religious discrimination and equal under the law,” he said.

On March 10, Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Nor Bee Ariffin, sitting as High Court judge, allowed a judicial review application by Sarawakian Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill on a 1986 circular that banned the Christians from using the word “Allah” in their publications.

The judge ruled that the ban on the use of the word “Allah” in Christian publications was unconstitutional and invalid.

It also declared orders to affirm Jill Ireland’s right to not be discriminated against and practice her faith.

The judge granted three of the specific constitutional reliefs sought by the Sarawakian native of the Melanau tribe.

The three orders granted by the judge include a declaration that it is Jill Ireland’s constitutional right under the Federal Constitution’s Article 3, 8, 11, and 12 to import the publications in the exercise of her rights to practise religion and right to education.

The other two declarations granted by the judge today are that a declaration under Article 8 that Jill Ireland is guaranteed equality of all persons before the law and is protected from discrimination against citizens on the grounds of religion in the administration of the law ― specifically the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 and Customs Act 1967), and a declaration that government.




Australian citizen facing ‘credible risk’ of torture in Saudi Arabia

Source : Tasnim

March 14, 2021

An Australian citizen was extradited to Saudi Arabia just days after a Moroccan court approved the transfer request, and without allowing his lawyers, who say he faces a “credible risk” of torture, time to appeal the decision.

International lawyers acting for Osama al-Hasani, 42, have previously asked United Nations special rapporteurs to raise the dual Australian-Saudi Arabian citizen’s case with Moroccan authorities, citing “credible concerns” that he was being targeted by the Saudi Arabian government for his political opinions.

Last week the Australian government confirmed it had been in contact with Moroccan authorities after the decision. A spokesman said an Australian embassy official had been able to visit al-Hasani.

“The extradition took place just days after a Moroccan court approved Saudi Arabia’s extradition request, and before Mr al-Hasani’s local lawyers were able to take steps to challenge and appeal the decision,” his lawyer, Haydee Dijkstal, said, The Guardian reported.

“Today’s extradition presents a real risk that Mr al-Hasani’s safety, security and fundamental rights will be irreparably violated in Saudi Arabia, particularly due to credible concerns that Mr al-Hasani is being targeted by the government of Saudi Arabia for political opinions he has expressed which have been critical of the government.

“It is disappointing and worrisome that the government of Morocco carried out the extradition despite its clear obligation under international law, and under its acceptance of the convention against torture, to not extradite any person to a state where there are substantial grounds to believe the person is in danger of being tortured.

“The credible risk that Mr al-Hasani will be tortured and abused in Saudi Arabia upon his extradition has been repeatedly raised by international counsel for Mr al-Hasani in communications to the Australian and Moroccan governments, and in an urgent appeal to UN special rapporteurs.”

On Thursday the Australian government confirmed it was in contact with Moroccan authorities and that an Australian embassy official had visited him.

The department of foreign affairs said in a statement to the Guardian: “DFAT is providing consular assistance to an Australian man, Osama Alhasani, who was detained in Morocco on 8 February 2021.

“The Australian Government is concerned about the circumstances of his detention, his access to the due process of law, and the validity of foreshadowed extradition proceedings to Saudi Arabia.

“DFAT has been undertaking and is continuing urgent talks with Morocco and Saudi Arabia about Mr Alhasani’s legal case, and to insist upon continued consular access and the transparency of legal processes.”

Al-Hasani – a dual Australian and Saudi citizen – was detained shortly after he arrived in Morocco on 8 February in connection with an extradition request from Saudi Arabia. His wife, Hana al-Hasani, said he was detained just hours after meeting his newborn child.

She said on Thursday: “I can’t describe my feeling. I was just told today that I could visit my husband tomorrow for the first time since he was arrested and now I am being told that this may be my last visit and even may be the last time I could see him alive.

“The fact that he will be extradited to Saudi Arabia means simply that he is going to be tortured and maybe worse than that, things I don’t want to think about right now.

“I still hope a miracle will happen and I still have trust that this country has wise people in charge, led by the king of Morocco, that will not allow this to happen.”

Al-Hasani is a father of four. His youngest child turned five months old the day his father was in court: “And I really hope the Australians will succeed in moving something and taking him [al-Hasani] home, to be safe and secure.”

A report published by a Moroccan news site has previously alluded to accusations that al-Hasani was accused of organizing opposition activity to Wahhabism, the state-sponsored form of Sunni Islam in Saudi Arabia, but his supporters have argued he “he has no relation to any political opposition activity”.

SBS News quoted a Moroccan justice ministry official as saying the arrest took place after an Interpol notice filed by Saudi Arabia, adding that he was wanted by the Saudis for a penal code matter involving theft. Reuters claimed a court there had previously sentenced him to two years in prison on theft charges, which he denied.

The statement, issued by Dijkstal, said the extradition was approved “despite urgent concerns raised of the real and credible risk to Mr al-Hasani’s fundamental rights, safety and security if he is extradited to Saudi Arabia”.

Dijkstal said a representative of the Australian government was understood to have been present at the two hearings before the extradition decision was released, but al-Hasani was not present in the courtroom for either hearing.



Arab World

Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre launches 2021 plan

Gulf News Report

March 13, 2021

Dubai: The Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre’s (DIEDC) board meeting for 2021, presided by Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Chairman of DIEDC detailed the action plan for 2021, with a specific focus on the DIEDC 2022-2030 Strategy.

The Islamic economy has witnessed four years of outstanding achievements largely be attributed to the robust DIEDC 2017-2021 Strategy. Implemented in collaboration with the Centre’s strategic partners, a key outcome of the Strategy was the year-on-year growth of the Islamic economy and an increase in its contribution to Dubai’s GDP.

“Following several years of positioning the UAE as a global capital of Islamic economy, today we are happy to lead the nation into the next phase of growth for the sector,” said Al Mansouri.

“Impactful collaborations with nations across the globe and defining public-private partnerships, as well as prioritising the exchange of knowledge and shared success stories have facilitated our journey so far. We are now set to continue our march to shape a sustainable economy following the downturn that was a direct outcome of the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Since the launch of the strategy in 2013 as a pillar of a strong Islamic economy based on sustainable development, the sector has witnessed continuous growth. “Through combining ethics, innovation and true growth, the Islamic economy ecosystem serves not only as an instrument to resolve economic crises, but also to safeguard against any potential ones,” said Al Mansouri.

The Dubai: Capital of Islamic Economy initiative, as part of the national economic diversification agenda, is making significant strides given the strong synergies that DIEDC boasts with its diverse strategic partners from across the public and private sectors.

“The next phase requires us to intensify collaborations with DIEDC’s strategic partners to continue building on the successful track record Islamic economy has achieved to date, and will aim to elevate the Islamic economic system to greater heights,” said Al Mansouri.

Essa Kazim, Secretary General of DIEDC, confirmed that the executive plans will continue to prioritise the strategic objectives of the Dubai: Capital of Islamic Economy initiative, to boost the industry’s contribution to Dubai’s GDP, and also bring on board more international partners keen to benefit from the growing investment opportunities the Islamic economy presents.

“The Dubai: Capital of Islamic Economy initiative continues to make significant advances in realising its strategic objectives, through multiple programmes that are well aligned with Dubai’s executive plans for 2021. Today, Dubai and the wider UAE are building growing credibility in the Islamic economy space through attracting Islamic economy experts and subject matter specialists as well as startups and young entrepreneurs,” said Kazim.

Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, CEO of DIEDC, presented the various initiatives and outcomes achieved in line with the Dubai: Capital of Islamic Economy Strategy in 2020 and announced DIEDC’s action plan for the upcoming year that covers proposed new initiatives and expected milestones on existing ones.

Abdulla Al Awar shared the latest preparations for the fifth Global Islamic Economy Summit that will take place on 1 and 2 November 2021. Addressing the board, he said: “This landmark event is taking place during exceptional circumstances and will convene minds from across the globe to discuss the future of the Islamic economy, as well as its pivotal role in restructuring international economy and trade.”


6 Saudi mosques closed after virus outbreaks


March 13, 2021

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah, and Guidance on Friday temporarily shut down six mosques in two regions after a number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases were confirmed among worshippers.

Virus cases have led to 269 mosques being forced to temporarily close over the past 33 days, with 253 reopening after sanitization measures were completed.

The ministry said that three of the mosques were in Riyadh, and three in the Northern Borders region.

Nine mosques have been reopened, including four in Riyadh, two in Makkah, and one in each of the regions of Tabuk, Jazan, and the Northern Borders. The decisions came after precautionary measures, including sanitization and maintenance, were carried out.

The ministry praised the cooperation of worshippers and mosque employees in complying with health and safety requirements.

Authorities will continue to sanitize and clean mosques and implement measures to ensure the safety of visitors, the ministry added.


Digital ID service launched for expats in Saudi Arabia


March 14, 2021

JEDDAH: Saudi authorities have launched a digital version of the Muqeem, or resident, ID for foreign workers.

The General Directorate of Passports launched the digital version on the Absher individuals app.

The Ministry of Interior’s online Absher service was introduced to increase productivity and promote more efficient work practices within government departments, while raising customer satisfaction levels.

Through the service, all details can be viewed electronically through a QR code. Users can also download a copy of their digital ID on a smart device for use without an internet connection.


Digital ID service launched for expats in Saudi Arabia


March 14, 2021

JEDDAH: Saudi authorities have launched a digital version of the Muqeem, or resident, ID for foreign workers.

The General Directorate of Passports launched the digital version on the Absher individuals app.

The Ministry of Interior’s online Absher service was introduced to increase productivity and promote more efficient work practices within government departments, while raising customer satisfaction levels.

Through the service, all details can be viewed electronically through a QR code. Users can also download a copy of their digital ID on a smart device for use without an internet connection.




Blackburn's Issa Brothers' £5m Mosque Plans Edge Closer - And How It Could Benefit The Community

By Tom Earnshaw

13 MAR 2021

Blackburn's billionaire Issa brothers are one step closer to making their £5million hometown mosque a reality, with hopes it can help boost the town's 'community cohesion' agenda.

Mohsin and Zuber Issa, founders of the EG Group and newly confirmed owners of supermarket giant Asda, have set their sights on building a new mosque and community centre on the former Westholme Nursery School site.

Through their charity the Issa Foundation, the brothers want to turn the area of land on the corner of the A677 Preston New Road and Billing End Road into a new religious facility 'for the benefit of the local community'.

Tom Jeremiah, from planning agents Monte Blackburn Ltd, says the site will "re-develop a vacant brownfield site and bring it back in to an active use for the benefit of the local community".

He also says it will "promote interaction between Muslims and non-Muslims, provide a positive contribution towards Blackburn’s community cohesion agenda and allow the Muslim community access to service provision from one location".

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council planning officers have now given the concept an initial thumbs up, saying it is a "viable and sustainable form of development at a prominent and key arterial route into Blackburn, taking the form of a landmark building of bespoke design".

"Community benefits arising include facilities for prayer, training, education and opportunities for community integration, aligning with the principles of Blackburn with Darwen’s community cohesion agenda," they add, saying this is important due to being one of five national 'Integration Areas' invited by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to work closely with on innovative plans to address social integration.

Images of the planned mosque reveal contemporary Islamic architecture over two storeys on the centre of the site, with a community centre to the south east corner of the land.

The mosque will cater for the traditional five prayers over the course of every day, with the community centre to be used for a variety of training and conference events as well as educational needs on a weekday evening from 5pm to 7pm.

Weddings are to be restricted at the mosque and community centre to religious registration events, lasting around 30 minutes and witnessed by close relatives.

The council's Planning and Highways Committee committee is now set to meet next Thursday (March 18) where councillors have been advised to approve the plans.

In doing so, it would secure a £30,000 payment to the council to invest in the local community via a legally binding Section 106 agreement.


Journalists, heads of NGOs and public activists visit Juma Mosque in liberated Aghdam

13 March 2021

On March 13, the heads of media resources and NGOs, bloggers and public activists visited the Juma Mosque in Azerbaijan's Aghdam region liberated from Armenian occupation, Trend’s Karabakh bureau reports.

The participants of the trip were told about the history of the mosque and Armenian vandalism. It was emphasized that the Juma mosque was built in 1868-1870 by the Karbalai architect Safikhan Garabagi. The mosque belongs to the Karabakh architectural school.

During the occupation of Agdam, Armenian Armed Forces committed unprecedented acts of vandalism against the historical and cultural heritage of Azerbaijan. Monuments, cultural centers, mosques, cemeteries were destroyed and desecrated here.

The minarets of the Juma Mosque were destroyed from the inside, and the ceiling was demolished in some places. The inscriptions on it were also deliberately damaged.

Heads of media structures and NGOs, bloggers and public activists are accompanied by Assistant to the President of Azerbaijan - Head of the Foreign Policy Department of the Presidential Administration Hikmat Hajiyev.

On March 13, the heads of media resources and NGOs, bloggers and public activists visited the Juma Mosque in Azerbaijan's Aghdam region liberated from Armenian occupation, Trend’s Karabakh bureau reports.

The participants of the trip were told about the history of the mosque and Armenian vandalism. It was emphasized that the Juma mosque was built in 1868-1870 by the Karbalai architect Safikhan Garabagi. The mosque belongs to the Karabakh architectural school.

During the occupation of Agdam, Armenian Armed Forces committed unprecedented acts of vandalism against the historical and cultural heritage of Azerbaijan. Monuments, cultural centers, mosques, cemeteries were destroyed and desecrated here.

The minarets of the Juma Mosque were destroyed from the inside, and the ceiling was demolished in some places. The inscriptions on it were also deliberately damaged.

Heads of media structures and NGOs, bloggers and public activists are accompanied by Assistant to the President of Azerbaijan - Head of the Foreign Policy Department of the Presidential Administration Hikmat Hajiyev.


London Police clash with mourners and protesters at Everard vigil



Clashes broke out Saturday between police and people who gathered in defiance of coronavirus restrictions at an unofficial vigil for a London woman whose killing has spurred a national conversation in the UK about violence against women.

Sarah Everard's disappearance as she walked home on the evening of March 3 had led to a wave of accounts from women about the dangers of walking streets alone at night, and dismay at the failure of police and wider society to tackle this.

Early on Saturday an impromptu memorial with flowers and candles sprang up around the bandstand on Clapham Common in southwest London, near where Everard was last seen alive.

By late on Saturday around a thousand people – mostly women – gathered at the site to pay their respects and protest at the lack of security they felt when out alone. Some chanted "shame on you" at police who were present.

Campaign groups had wanted to organize a formal vigil, but London's Metropolitan Police said people should not gather due to coronavirus restrictions. The head of the force, Cressida Dick, said any vigil "would be unlawful and would be unsafe."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is responsible for policing in the city, said officers' response "was at times neither appropriate or proportionate" and added that he was seeking an urgent explanation from Dick.

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer called the scenes "deeply disturbing" and Conservative interior minister Priti Patel said she too wanted answers from police about "upsetting" images.

Appearing at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court on Saturday morning, 48-year-old police officer Wayne Couzens, wearing a grey tracksuit, spoke only to confirm his identity.

Couzens's lawyer did not enter a plea to the charges of kidnap and murder ahead of a fuller court hearing scheduled for Tuesday. Couzens remains in custody.

Police discovered Everard's body on Wednesday in woodland about 80 kilometer southeast of London. The court heard that her body was found in a builder's refuse bag, and was identified using dental records.

The Metropolitan Police has expressed shock and horror that one of its own was a suspect in the case. The London police force said Couzens joined its ranks in 2018 and most recently served in the parliamentary and diplomatic protection command, an armed unit responsible for guarding embassies in the capital and Parliament.

Earlier on Saturday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he and his partner Carrie Symonds would light a candle in memory of Everard.

"I will do everything I can to make sure the streets are safe and ensure women and girls do not face harassment or abuse," he said.

Many participants laid flowers at a bandstand in the park. Among them was Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, who was seen pausing for a moment in front of the sea of flowers. Other people held signs reading "We will not be silenced" and "She was just walking home," and the crowd chanted, "Sisters united will never be defeated."



North America

Biden mulls appointing first-ever Muslim federal judge

March 12, 2021

By Joseph Hammond

The Biden administration is considering naming Washington, D.C., attorney Abid Riaz Qureshi to U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, according to media reports. If confirmed by the Senate, Qureshi would be the first Muslim to become a federal judge.

According to BuzzFeed News, the Biden administration has ordered the FBI to vet Qureshi, who was previously nominated for a district court seat by then-President Barack Obama in 2016.

Qureshi is a partner at Latham & Watkins, a global law firm, and has built his career around health care fraud, securities violations and other cases in the public interest. According to the Latham & Watkins website, he “has particular facility with managing large multi-faceted investigations on behalf of international companies, drawing on experience investigating two of the largest healthcare fraud cases in the country.”

Qureshi has provided pro bono legal advice to a number of immigrants’ rights groups and the Muslim Alliance. He also received the Impact Award from the Capital Area Muslim Bar Association at a Ramadan event in 2018.

President Obama nominated Qureshi to D.C.’s U.S. District Court in September of 2016 to fill a seat vacated by Judge Rosemary M. Collyer, but the nomination was not acted on by the Senate with the end of that congressional session in January 2017.

Qureshi’s appointment would mark a historic step forward for Muslim representation in the American judicial system. Earlier this year, the influential Harvard Law Review appointed its first Muslim president since the journal was founded in 1887.


Biden administration enlists FEMA to help with surge of children at U.S.-Mexico border

By Ted Hesson

March 13, 2021

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Saturday ordered an emergency agency that usually responds to floods, storms and other major disasters to help care for a growing number of migrant children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in news release that he would deploy the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) “to help receive, shelter and transport the children” over the next 90 days.

The move signals the scope of a growing humanitarian and political crisis for the administration of President Joe Biden, a Democrat who took office on Jan. 20. The increased arrivals come as Biden has reversed some of the restrictive policies of former President Donald Trump, a Republican.

Unaccompanied minors found crossing the border are transferred by immigration officials to another federal agency, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). But a spike in children arriving without parents or legal guardians has exceeded shelter capacity, which was previously cut by 40% to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The coronavirus-related shelter capacity restrictions were lifted on March 5, but only about 200 beds came back online last week, an administration official told reporters on Friday.

It is unclear exactly how FEMA will help, though the agency has expertise in housing and caring for those left homeless. The Homeland Security statement said FEMA would assist in looking “at every available option to quickly expand physical capacity for appropriate lodging.”

Migrant children apprehended at the border are supposed to be transferred out of Border Patrol custody within 72 hours. But when shelter space is limited, they can get stuck in border detention centers for longer periods – as is happening now.

The border stations were built to house adult men for short periods and could pose a COVID-19 health risk to children and staff if they are overcrowded.

More than 3,600 migrant children were being held in U.S. border facilities as of Thursday morning, a U.S. official told Reuters, more than four times the number in late February. As of Friday, the HHS refugee office had approximately 8,800 unaccompanied children in custody.

FEMA also helped coordinate a response to an influx of unaccompanied minors in 2014, under former President Barack Obama.


Canada promised to end solitary confinement, report shows it has not

By Jillian Kestler-D'Amours

13 Mar 2021

Montreal, Canada – More than a quarter of inmates held in specialised units of Canadian federal prisons are subject to conditions akin to solitary confinement, a recent report found, while one in 10 have been kept in conditions that constitute torture under United Nations standards.

The revelations come less than two years after Canada passed legislation that it promised would end solitary confinement practices, and which the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC), the agency in charge of federal prisons, said would usher in “a transformative era” in corrections.

“There doesn’t seem to be any improvement over time, so it’s getting harder to argue that these are just sort of growing pains as you transition from one set of rules to another,” said Jane Sprott, a criminology professor at Ryerson University in Toronto.

Canadian federal inmates are transferred to SIUs if they pose a security threat to themselves, to others or to the institution, or if they could interfere with an investigation. But under the SIU system, they must get at least four hours out of their cells every day, two hours of which must include “meaningful human contact”.

Sprott, who co-authored the report with University of Toronto professor Anthony Doob, said CSC data shows just more than 28 percent of prisoners held in SIUs were confined for 22 hours or more a day without any meaningful contact with others.

That amounts to solitary confinement under the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, also known as the Nelson Mandela Rules.

“It’s like a prison within a prison,” she said, about the SIU cells. “It’s a little more off-steer, it’s more isolated. You’re in that cell and if you’re out for less than two hours, that means your main interaction for the day is getting food pushed through a food slot.”

Myriad human rights groups and international experts have documented the damage even short periods in solitary confinement can have on inmates, including depression, hallucinations, paranoia and ideations of self-harm. The risk of long-term and severe harm also increases for inmates who already suffer from mental health issues.

Authorities in various countries nevertheless have defended the practice as a necessary means to ensure inmates do not harm themselves or others. In Canada, the federal government maintains its SIU system is “fundamentally different” from the previous model of administrative segregation.

CSC Spokeswoman Esther Mailhot told Al Jazeera in an email that SIUs are designed as a temporary measure to help inmates “adopt more positive behaviours that keep the institution, as a whole, safe and secure”.

Inmates held in SIUs have access to the same programmes and services as other inmates and get daily visits from staff, Mailhot said, and the system was built to minimise situations in which inmates are in their cells for too long. But she said inmates can sometimes stay in their cells for longer “if they refuse to leave”.

Mailhot said the department had reviewed the recent report by Sprott and Doob, and “their analysis identifies issues and data trends that we are following up on”. She did not comment directly on the claims of continued solitary confinement or torture.

“As we continue to learn and make adjustments, we remain steadfast in our commitment to ensure the success of this new correctional model while we fulfil our mandate of ensuring the safe rehabilitation of federal inmates in Canada,” she said.

In a November 2020 report, Prisoners’ Legal Services, a project by the West Coast Prison Justice Society in British Columbia, said Canadian federal prisoners “continue to be held in isolation at an alarming rate”.

Prisoners held in SIUs are still subjected to prolonged solitary confinement “often without access to counsel”, the report found, while “prisoners with the highest mental health needs continue to be held in isolation in SIUs without adequate treatment”.

Critics had cautioned even earlier that Canada’s plan to change the previous administrative segregation system would not actually end the practice of solitary confinement.

You're in that cell and if you're out for less than two hours, that means your main interaction for the day is getting food pushed through a food slot

In November 2018, independent Senator Kim Pate accused the federal government of engaging in “a cynical exercise that merely rebrands this cruel treatment” and using “linguistic trickery” in its legislation.

“Ottawa cannot declare that segregation has been eliminated while failing to address the horrors associated with this practice and gutting what minimal restrictions courts have placed on its use,” Pate said.

Sprott also said there has been a lack of transparency around the SIU system since it came into effect. “If there’s no transparency and people don’t even know what’s happening then it’s pretty unlikely anything will change,” she said, adding that while the recent report is about federal prisons, issues with solitary confinement also extend to provincial detention centres.

For instance, in August of last year, the Ontario Human Rights Commission said Canada’s largest province had failed to make sure people living with mental health issues were only placed in segregation as a last resort.

The commission filed a motion requesting the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal to order a ban on segregation for inmates with mental health illnesses, a strict limit on segregation beyond 15 straight days and 60 days in a single year, and the creation of an independent monitor.

Between July 2018 and June 2019, more than 12,000 people – 46 percent of whom had mental health alerts on file – were placed in segregation in Ontario, the commission said.

Yusuf Faqiri knows how destructive solitary confinement can be. His brother, Soleiman, died in December 2016 in a segregation cell at a provincial detention centre in Lindsay, Ontario, where he was awaiting a transfer to a mental health facility after being held on assault allegations.

“My brother was more than just his illness. He was a gifted mind. He meant the world to my family, every single one of us,” Yusuf told Al Jazeera, explaining that his family is still fighting to get information about what happened in the last moments of Soleiman’s life.

Local police have said they would not arrest anyone in relation to Soleiman’s death and Ontario provincial police came to the same conclusion last year, saying, “there is no reasonable prospect of conviction on any criminal offences”, as reported by local media.

Meanwhile, a coroner’s inquest has been ordered and the family also filed a 14.3 million Canadian dollar ($11.3m) civil lawsuit against the province, the correctional centre superintendent and seven staff members, alleging “excessive force” was used. Both are forthcoming.

Nader Hasan, a partner at Toronto law firm Stockwoods and the Faqiri family’s lawyer, said Soleiman’s case makes it abundantly clear that Canada’s criminal justice system is ill-equipped to deal with individuals living with mental health issues.

“Every single staff person who came into contact with him knew that he was ill, and knew that he didn’t belong there – that he belonged in a hospital – yet they did nothing … and then on his last day, they beat and killed him,” Hasan told Al Jazeera. “This is a case where the worst-case scenario materialises.”

For his part, Yusuf Faqiri said his family would continue to fight for answers. “We’re not going to stop until we achieve justice for Soleiman,” he said, “because achieving justice for Soleiman is achieving justice for all Canadians suffering from mental illness within the fatal nexus of the justice and incarceration system.”




Muslim Rights Concern, A Islamic Group Advises Nigerian Muslims On Covid-19 Vaccination, Says It Is Safe

John Owen Nwachukwu

March 13, 2021

Muslims in the country have been advised to present themselves for COVID-19 vaccination.

In a statement on Saturday, a popular Islamic rights group, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), said it was safe.

Nigeria received almost 4 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. The vaccination exercise has since begun as doses have been sent to various states of the federation.

MURIC opined that Nigerians cannot afford to sit on the fence in the face of daunting COVID-19 statistics around the world.

“Nigeria needs the vaccine as much as countries that have suffered high death rates from the pandemic,” MURIC said in a statement signed by its director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola.

The group noted that a large number of Nigerians are still very hesitant about taking the vaccine, as well as doubting its efficacy and MURIC said that its message was for the conspiracy theory camp, particularly the Muslim population.

“The consensus of Islamic scholars is that vaccination is halaal (permissible). They cited the hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) where he said ‘Seek medical treatment’.

“COVID-19 vaccine is designed to give protection to those who take it by making their bodies produce substances known as antibodies whose function is to fight disease.”

MURIC noted that the reason President Muhammadu Buhari and his Vice, Yemi Osinbajo took the jabs on national television was to build confidence in Nigerians.

“We urge Nigerian Muslims and the rest of the citizenry to embrace the vaccine. Let us obey our leaders as enshrined in the Glorious Qur’an (4:59),” MURIC said.

“Nigerians should note that many of those who denied COVID-19 later fell victims.

“MURIC therefore calls on cynics to have a rethink, face reality and accept the vaccine. We are concerned with the right of every Nigerian to live a healthy life free from any disease.

“In particular, we believe that Nigerian lives matter as no Nigerian deserves to lose his life to any epidemic when a panacea has been made available.” #Nigerianlivesmatter,” it said.


Nigeria: 19 killed in Boko Haram terror attack


By Adam Abu-bashal

Nineteen people were killed in the attack by the Boko Haram terror organization in the northeastern state of Borno in Nigeria, according to media reports on Saturday.

Terrorists attacked a military convoy in Gudumbali in the Lake Chad region, killing 15 soldiers and four Joint Task Force members.

Army spokesman Mohammed Yerima said in a statement that several soldiers were also injured in the attack.

On Thursday, Nigeria's National Security Adviser Babagana Monguno announced that his country would not negotiate with the terror group and the government does not see negotiations as a means to deal with the worsening security conditions in the country.

Boko Haram launched a bloody insurgency in 2009 in northeastern Nigeria but later spread its atrocities to neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a military response.

More than 30,000 people have been killed and nearly 3 million displaced in a decade of Boko Haram's terror activities in Nigeria, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Violence has affected 26 million people in the Lake Chad region and displaced 2.6 million others, according to the UN Refugee Agency.


I feel hopeless after Boko Haram’s bomb killed my son, deformed me, wife, daughter – Borno IDP

March 14, 2021


Thirty-year-old Malum Umara is an internally displaced person in Gajiram, Borno State. He tells DOGARA BITRUS that his world has been shattered after a Boko Haram bomb killed his five-year-old son and deformed him, his wife and daughter

I sustained injuries from a bomb explosion that affected my house in Gajiram. My wife, my daughter, Fatima, and I were all injured on the same day by the bomb that was dropped in our compound.

It was an attack on our community in Gajiram by Boko Haram insurgents. The insurgents attacked Gajiram on the evening of Thursday, January 14, this year while everyone was either at home or within the neighborhood. Except for some people who travelled out of town, almost all the villagers were around. I know this because everyone in the village knows everyone else and we do check on one another always.

That day, I came back from my petty business and sat with other men at our majalisa (relaxation area), chatting when we suddenly saw young boys running towards us, shouting ‘Boko Haram!’ We immediately dispersed and ran into our houses. It was already night and my entire family was in the house when I got in, so I just locked the doors and we went to bed. Later in the night, around 11pm I heard something drop on the roof of my house and then fire erupted in the entire compound, resulting in the death of my son, Asheik, while my wife, my daughter, Fatima, and I sustained varying degrees of injury.

After the insurgents had left, everyone came out and my neighbours saw how badly my compound was burnt. They rushed to check on us and that was when they discovered my late son’s body; he was killed by the explosion. The neighbours went to bury him and then rushed my wife, daughter and me to the state specialist hospital here in Maiduguri.

We were given bed spaces in the hospital and the chairman of our local government area came almost immediately to check on us. When the chairman was leaving, he gave my wife, my daughter and me N10,000 each, making N30,000. But as soon as he left the hospital, the health personnel on duty that day convinced us to give him the money for safe keeping and we did, only for him to disappear. We have not set eyes on that health worker again. He went away with our N30,000.

Yes, I kept asking of him but they all said they didn’t know him. But I think the workers in that hospital have a habit of cheating their patients and robbing them of their money. During the multiple explosions that rocked Maiduguri last week, the governor came and sympathised with the survivors; when leaving, he gave us N10,000 each and he also gave our caregivers N6,000 each while the security personnel were given N5,000 each.

But after the governor left, the health workers slashed the N10,000 given to the patients to N6,000 and instead of N5,000, the security personnel were given N1,000 each. I believe it is their stock-in-trade in that hospital.

To the glory of God, we were treated for free; the drugs too were provided free but we fed ourselves and that was the major challenge. I had on me only N20,000, which I saved from my petty business. For the 40 days that we were in the hospital nobody gave us any form of financial assistance. Until the governor came and gave us the N30,000, it was just that N20,000 that my wife, daughter and I depended on.

I was selling fresh fruits and vegetables in Gajiram. I also engaged in farming to feed my family. But since this incident, I have not been able to do any business neither have I been able to go to farm. That is my biggest challenge now. I don’t have any means of livelihood now that I am on crutches, my wife is deformed, and my daughter too is on crutches. I will not be able to do anything with my life for now. So, how do I feed my family? And I have other dependants that look up to me – my aged parents, my late elder brother’s children, six of them are dependent on me for their daily upkeep. My two surviving sons, Faruq, 14 years old, and Bukar, 12 years old are there too. They are all in Gajiram.

You see,  I am first of all an IDP from Bakassi village near Gajiram. We were displaced from Bakassi village by the Boko Haram terrorists, who persistently attacked us until we finally fled the place. We came to Gajiram and have been living as IDPs ever since. When I was in my village, I was into full-time farming; I was into both rainy season and dry season farming. But when we were displaced from my village and we got to the IDP camp in Gajiram, then I started this petty business since I could no longer actively engage in farming like I used to. But we were managing and surviving, then the bomb explosion.

My brother was killed in one of the attacks in Bakassi and that was why his children are in my care. But this unfortunate incident is threatening our lives because I don’t have anyone else to turn to for help. That is my biggest challenge. My wife is deformed, and my daughter is badly injured. This is the time for me to shoulder my responsibilities and be the man but I am not also in good health condition; this is my biggest challenge. I am struggling to come to terms with the fact that I cannot provide for my family at this point in time.

My daughter, who is just five years old, is in severe pains. She is in a critical condition of health, she cannot go to school for now, she cannot play with other children neither can she do anything at all. She is just there; it is a serious source of concern for me.




Alarm bells ringing as positivity rate of Covid cases surges

Ikram Junaidi

March 14, 2021

ISLAMABAD: As Covid-19 positivity rate ranges between 5 and 6 per cent, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has asked all federating units to take immediate actions to ensure strict implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and mulled over further curbs on travel from countries with high prevalence of South African and Brazilian virus strains.

Also, expanded lockdowns in the federal capital as well as in various cities of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are under active consideration of the authorities after 46 deaths and 2,338 new cases were reported from across the country in a single day.

According to the NCOC, the number of active cases has jumped to 19,764 while in Gujrat 100pc oxygen beds are in use of coronavirus patients. Only a couple of weeks ago, the total number of cases were around 16,000.

To review the pandemic situation, federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar chaired a special session. It was observed during the session that there was a sharp rise in the national positivity, which was around 1pc in September 2020 and 2pc in January 2021, as it has been hovering between 5pc and 6pc.

The data, shared during the meeting, showed that major contributors are Islamabad, several cities of Punjab, a few cities of KP and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

“All federating units have been asked to take immediate actions for strict implementation of SOPs. Steps taken by Punjab for disease control were appreciated. However, further steps for disease control including expanded lockdowns in various cities of Punjab, Islamabad and certain cities of KP are under consideration,” it stated.

“Spread of new virus strains in country was also discussed. Further curbs on international travel from certain countries with high prevalence of South African and Brazilian virus were considered. Decision will be taken after consultation with all stakeholders. SOPs implementation week will be observed across the country from Sunday. Citizens are requested to once again display good example of social behaviour and follow Covid-19-related SOPs for collective good,” it stated.

“Vaccination drive for elderly population is going on since March 10. Senior citizens are encouraged to get themselves vaccinated from designated vaccination centres. Provinces [have been asked] to ensure smooth continuation of vaccination drive for health care workers and elderly citizens,” the statement concluded.

An official of the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS), requesting not to be quoted, said it was obvious that the number of cases would increase after lifting of curbs.

On Feb 24, the NCOC had decided to lift many restrictions and open educational institutions with full strength from March1, apart from five cities. However, because of the decision cases started increasing rapidly. With no let-up in Covid-19 cases, the NCOC on March 10 re-imposed a number of restrictions that had been in force in the country prior to Feb 24. The centre announced a two-week spring vacation in educational institutions in 10 cities, whereas Balochistan and Sindh were suggested to limit attendance to 50pc. It decided to continue ‘smart lockdowns’ and ‘micro-smart’ lockdowns and re-enforce 50pc work-from-home policy and time limit of 10pm on all commercial activities with immediate effect. It was decided to close amusement parks at 6pm.

As the incubation period of virus is around seven days, the official believed that number of cases would start decreasing in the second half of upcoming week.

“However, we have lost whatever we had gained during January this year. We will have to work very hard to reach to same position where we were in January this year. I urge the masses to strictly adhere to SOPs so that the chain of the virus would break and number of cases again start decreasing. Moreover, people should bring their parents at vaccination centres so that the herd immunity would be created,” he said.

While replying to a question, the health ministry official said travel ban could be imposed on countries which had reported South African and Brazilian virus strains.

“We can also introduce quarantine policy for those coming from countries having virus strain but decisions would be made after taking all stakeholders on board,” he added.

Meanwhile, the NCOC data showed 241 ventilators were occupied across the country, Lahore’s 38pc, Islamabad’s 32pc, Peshawar’s 26pc and Multan’s 21pc ventilators were in use of Covid patients.

Regarding oxygen beds, the NCOC claimed that all such beds in Gujrat, 42pc of beds in Peshawar, 35pc in Islamabad and 29pc in Lahore were in use.

While the number of active cases was 19,764, 2,202 of them were admitted across the country on Saturday.



Tribal People Using Twitter To Discuss Service Delivery Issues: World Bank

Amin Ahmed

March 14, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Strong evidence has been found that people in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) use Twitter to communicate about service delivery issues and this phenomenon is increasing, according to a World Bank research.

Tweets about service delivery have been dominated by the topics of access to clean water, education, economic development and healthcare. There is also a significant interest in areas of energy access and natural resources.

While spikes in the sub-category of water seem to indicate a water crisis in 2018, it would be noted that the spike which seems to be most prevalent in 2020 is the issue of food security.

Overall sentiments towards service delivery seem to be increasing since 2018, potentially due to impact of the merger of Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and associated development efforts. The lowest sentiment tweets seem to be about healthcare and economic development, whereas the highest sentiment tweets seem to be about natural resources and education.

Wheat and sugar very often appeared in tweets with prices and it can be validated that these tweets relate to hunger and food security, according to the research paper released on Thursday.

The World Bank policy research working paper used Twitter data and examined development priorities of citizens in the northwest region of Pakistan between 2007 and 2020, using natural language processing techniques and sentiment analysis of 9.5 million tweets generated by 20,000 unique Twitter users.

The analysis revealed that service delivery priorities in this context are centered on education, healthcare, food, and clean water. The findings provide baseline data for future on-the-ground research and development initiatives.

Early-adopters of Twitter in the erstwhile tribal areas used this social networking service mainly for interpersonal speech and in contrast the rise in the use of Twitter has coincided with a different distribution concerns as the ratio of the people tweeting about service delivery has increased from less than 10 per cent of users before 2012 to over 40pc of users in 2020.

Evidence has been found that within the erstwhile tribal areas, there is significant geographical distribution, with fourteen geographical clusters tweeting about service delivery in a roughly uniform distribution. Users in big cities, like Peshawar and Abbottabad, tweet about service delivery significantly less than users in rural areas.

The research found that among Twitter users active in erstwhile tribal areas in the past two years, service delivery is a widespread concern, though there is some evidence that the conditions may be improving. On the other hand, there is some evidence suggesting that it would be beneficial to further investigate the potentially growing threat of food insecurity in addition to persistent concerns of access to clean water, education, healthcare and economic development.

It has been observed that the top 50 words and top 50 bigrams are related to each key word in the tweets. Some frequently co-occurring words or bigrams present an easy case.


Efficient and empowered authority urged for CPEC

Staff Reporter

March 14, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Experts at a webinar on Saturday feared that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) might become a debt trap if the authorities did not efficiently actualise the targets of the game-changer initiative.

Institutions, experts and the public at large are still unclear about the scope and targets of CPEC where the Pakistan government has committed billions of dollars to pool in on high rates of interest.

They said a fact-based narrative building is very important while the enemies and unwise friends are spreading rumours for their own vested interests and to malign the CPEC initiatives. A one-window operation shall be the backbone of the agricultural and industrial phase of CPEC which should be handled by the relevant and expert human resource.

Development Communications Network (Devcom-Pakistan) organised the webinar. The panel of experts included Adviser to President National Defence University (NDU) and former ambassador retired Gen Raza Mohammad, who is a PhD on CPEC, former project director CPEC with the Planning Commission of Pakistan and presently CEO KP Board of Investment Hasan Daud Butt, NASCOM Director and former executive director CPEC Centre of Excellence, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) Dr Shahid Rasheed, Director CPEC Study Centre SDPI Shakeel Ramay, development experts Dr Zahoor Bazai (Quetta) and Dr Khushboo Ejaz (Lahore), and executive director Devcom-Pakistan Munir Ahmed.

“We need to make the CPEC projects more transparent and efficient if inspired to achieve the targets and harness the economic benefits. A rational narrative is imperative to wipe off the ambiguity and rumours by engaging parliamentarians and media counter-offensive campaigns,” he said.

“The federal government need to revive the monthly meetings of the CPEC stakeholders and the periodic meetings of the seven joint working groups to improve efficiency. CPEC is indeed a game-changer but it could be a debt trap if not taken seriously and worked hard to achieve the targets of the project on time. The CPEC authority shall have more powers and authority to combat the challenges and bottlenecks,” he said.

Dr Shahid Rasheed said CPEC improved Pakistan’s GDP to 5.7 per cent in 2018 from 3.3pc in 2013, and also improved the security situation.

“Covid-19 and political instability has marred the performance of CPEC in recent years. But a reborn of CPEC would bring much better benefits to the nation. Parliamentarians of both sides shall work in harmony for an inclusive CPEC authority that is much needed in its new phase to invigorate agriculture and industrialisation around CPEC,” he said.

Shakeel Ramay said Pakistan needed to understand that it is one of the 139 countries that have signed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and in case of sluggishness the investors would go to other parts of the BRI.

“Speed of work matters in the international development projects but we are lagging behind the schedule of development because of very casual behaviour. Unfortunately, the government could not project the economic benefits of CPEC. Rumours are in the air without any check. We need to have an empowered CPEC authority,” he said.

Munir Ahmed said only the strategic partners could understand the importance of the CPEC initiatives while politicians have no idea about the strategic and socioeconomic culmination of the project.

“Many have been projecting it as a debt trap. Every investment and loan has the capacity to become debt if not used efficiently. We need to develop the CPEC narrative according to its objectives and targets beyond the political scoring and vested interests of the individuals and the interests groups,” he said.

Dr Zahoor Bazai stressed the need to prioritise the engagement of locals in the projects and also ensure environmental integrity through adequate Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs).


Micro-smart lockdown imposed in four localities of Rawalpindi

Munawer Azeem

March 14, 2021

RAWALPINDI: While the upward trend in Covid-19 cases continued in Islamabad with 402 more infections, the Punjab government imposed a micro-smart lockdown in four localities of Rawalpindi and issued new standard operating procedures (SOPs) for bazaars and public places.

Deputy Commissioner retired Capt Anwarul Haq said the home department had issued a notification under which the four localities were sealed for two weeks.

“The government has issued new SOPs for public places, bazaars and other activities which will be implemented from Monday (tomorrow),” he said.

According to the notification, which will remain in force until March 29, all business centres will be closed by 6pm while no business will be allowed on Saturdays and Sundays.

It said medical services, pharmacies, collection points and laboratories will remain open round the clock and seven days a week. Similarly, grocery and general stores, flour chakkis, fruit and vegetable shops, tandoors and petrol pumps will also remain unaffected.

The new schedule will not apply to tyre puncture shops, filling plants, workshops, spare-part shops and shops selling agricultural equipment and machinery.

According to the notification, only 50 per cent staff will work each day at both government and private offices while indoor and outdoor marriage halls and community centres will remain closed from March 15.

Similarly, indoor dining will be strictly be prohibited at cafes and restaurants; only takeaways will be allowed. It said only 50 persons will be allowed at social and religious gatherings while shrines and cinema halls will remain completely shut. There will be no entry to parks and other recreational places after 6pm.

The deputy commissioner said traders and business community had been taken on board. “We will not force traders to close shops on March 14 (today) but [next Sunday and Saturday] will be off for them.”

“We will follow the timings issued for Islamabad by the federal government as the timings issued by the Punjab government would hamper business activities in the garrison city,” Rawalpindi Traders Association President Sharjeel Mir told Dawn.

He said markets and bazaars in Islamabad would remain open till late at night but “in Rawalpindi we are being asked to close all shops by 6pm. It is not acceptable for us,” he said.

Four patients died in the district and 75 people tested positive on Saturday. However, 228 patients were discharged from hospitals after their recovery in the last 24 hours.

Nuzhat Almas, 72, a resident of Gulraiz Housing Scheme, was brought to Rawalpindi Institute of Urology (RIU) on March 12 where she died.

Attaullah, 76, a resident of Bangash Colony, was brought to Isolation Hospital and Infectious Treatment Centre on March 10 where he died.

As many as 45 people tested positive in city and cantonment areas including five from cantonment, 27 from Potohar Town and 13 from Rawal Town.

Four patients each also arrived from Gujar Khan and Kahuta, three from Kallar Syedan and five from Taxila. Moreover, 10 patients arrived from Islamabad and one patient each from Attock, AJK and Gujranwala.

In Rawalpindi district, there are 572 active patients and 102 of them are in hospitals. Besides, 446 patients are waiting for the results of their Covid-19 serology.

Of the new patients, 14 patients are admitted in Holy Family Hospital, 11 in Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH), 44 in Rawalpindi Institute of Urology (RIU), 28 in Fauji Foundation Hospital (FFH), three in Red crescent Corona Care Centre and one in Attock Hospital Rawalpindi.

Two women also died in the capital and the deceased were in the age group of 60-69 and 70-79. They were residents of G-7 and F-8.

Officials of the capital administration said as the number of cases continued gradually the administration and the District Health Office closely watched the trend. Some of the areas are emerging as hotspots, they added.

Only Loi Bher has more than 300 active cases while eight to nine areas have over 100 active cases. When asked about the hotspots and any plan to seal them, District Health Officer Dr Zaeem Zia told Dawn that they had not recommended it yet.

Weekly positivity rate in Islamabad jumped to 5.1 per cent from 4.1pc previous week, he said, adding his office was tracing the contacts vigilantly.

A notification issued by Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Hamza Shafqaat said as per the advice by health experts to limit the spread of cases it was essential for the public to wear masks while visiting public places.

The district administration on Saturday locked down different areas. A notification issued by the district administration said the lockdown proposed by the primary and secondary healthcare department had been enforced following reports of a surge in the number of new Covid-19 cases.

When contacted, Deputy Commissioner Ali Annan Qammar said the Punjab government had started taking strict measures as the UK-variant of the coronavirus continued to spread in the province. He said bazaars and markets would close at 6pm while business centres remain closed on weekends.

Moreover, seven people tested positive across the district during the last 24 hours raising the tally to 1347.


PTI will now forward its reform agenda: Shibli

Kalbe Ali

March 14, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Exulting at the victory of the government-backed candidates in the election for the Senate chairman and deputy chairman, Information Minister Senator Shibli Faraz has said that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government is now in a position to forward its reform agenda for the benefit of the nation.

Addressing a press briefing here on Saturday, the minister said that opposition parties had obstructed the government’s legislation in the upper house of parliament over the last two-and-a-half years.

Mr Faraz refused to directly answer the question as to how the government would be able to get a bill passed if the opposition, which enjoys majority in the Senate, decided to oppose that piece of legislation.

“The government’s victory in the elections for Senate chairman and deputy chairman was the defeat of a system which has been harming the country for the last 30 years as well as those who doubted our intentions,” he said, adding that during that dark period the people of country did not prosper whereas the assets of the rulers increased manifold.

Mr Faraz asserted that since the country could not afford to regress now, it is necessary that everybody lent support to the prime minister to materialise his vision for the progress of the country. “Now it is the time to look ahead and bury the past,” he added.

After acknowledging that high inflation was one of the key challenges faced by the country, he announced that the prices of essential items would come down in near future — “you will see it soon”.

The minister highlighted the future plans of the government, saying, “We are now focused on all reforms, judicial reforms, electoral reforms, economic reforms — our challenges are improved service delivery, revival of economy and improving governance”.

He said the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) was a dead horse and buried. Its leaders should apologise to nation over their past deeds and cooperate with the government to carry forward the reforms agenda, he added.

He claimed that the Senate elections were held in a free and transparent manner. The defeat of the opposition candidates was the results of internal differences in the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party and other parties in the Pakistan Democratic Alliance (PDM), he added. “The PML-N backstabbed the PPP and they did the same with the Maulana — JUI-F,” he said adding, “This has been their tradition and part of their political culture throughout the history.”

He referred to the clause of open elections in the Charter of Democracy signed by the PML-N and PPP and said that the same was supported by “Imran Khan when he said that such a reform was beneficial for all of us”.

In response to a query about his earlier statement that the PTI will respond to the opposition in the same coin in the elections of the Senate chairman and deputy chairman, Mr Faraz said, “Our politics is based on ethics — but ethics do not mean that we allow them to slap us on the face, but the only difference this time was that we were prepared for their negative politics.”

Regarding the PDM plans for a long march, he said that it was their constitutional right and they might go ahead with it. But, he believed, the opposition’s long march would not get any support from the masses.

About the opposition’s accusations that “spy cameras” were installed inside the Senate polling booths, Mr Faraz said that the opposition staged a “drama”. The opposition was the “mastermind behind this wicked conspiracy”, he added.

This was the first news conference which Mr Faraz did at the official Press Information Department (PID) after taking fresh oath as a senator on Friday.

Some legal experts believe that Mr Faraz is required to take a fresh oath as the federal minister as well since he is no more the minister after his retirement as the senator after the March 12 midnight.

A highly-placed source in the Ministry of Law and Justice also said that since Mr Faraz was enjoying his position in the cabinet by virtue of being a senator, therefore, when he ceased to be a senator for nearly 12 hours, there was a need for issuance of a fresh notification about his appointment as the federal minister.




Israeli forces attack Palestinian worshipers at al-Aqsa Mosque

Source : PressTV

March 13, 2021

Israeli forces have attacked Palestinian worshipers at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds, detaining five people.

According to Palestinian sources, the Israeli forces attacked the Muslim worshipers and fired stun grenades at them after Friday prayers, forcing the Palestinians to leave the al-Aqsa Mosque through al-Asbat Gate.

The Israeli troops had also prevented 321 people from the West Bank from performing the Friday prayers at al-Aqsa, arresting four of them.

Separately, Israeli forces continued to suppress anti-settlement weekly protests across the occupied West Bank on Friday.

In the village of Beit Dajan, Israeli forces opened live fire on anti-settlement protesters, leaving three people injured. Two others were hit with rubber bullets fired by the Israeli troops, who also used tear gas against the demonstrators, leaving tens of them suffering breathing difficulties.

A settlement outpost has recently been established in the village.

Clashes also erupted between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces in Kafr Qaddum, east of Qalqilya City.

Dozens of people suffered breathing difficulties due to inhaling tear gas during the clashes, which also saw Israeli forces using sound bombs and rubber bullets against the protesters.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

Emboldened by the anti-Palestine policies of former US president Donald Trump, Israel stepped up its settlement expansion in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which pronounces settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds “a flagrant violation under international law.”

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they are built on occupied land.


Iran Validates Presidential Candidacies Of Military Staff

Source :IANS

Mar 14th, 2021

Tehran, March 14 (IANS) Iran's Constitutional Council has validated the registration of military staff as candidates for the country's presidency.

"It happened before. Military personnel applied for candidacy in previous terms and there is no legal ban," the spokesman for the council Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei said in a press conference here on Saturdday.

He clarified that in Iran, military staff are banned to "interfere" in elections or voice support for candidates other than themselves, reports Xinhua news agency.

The next Iranian presidential election is scheduled for June 18, and the Constitutional Council is in charge of vetting candidacies.

Hossein Dehghan and Saeed Mohammad, members of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, have declared their intention to run for presidency.


Hazrat Abu Talib Sacrificed Everything To Defend Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H): Grand Ayatollah

March 14, 2021

The opening ceremony of the International Conference of Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.), the Supporter of the Prophet (p.b.u.h), started, Tuesday morning, March 9, 2021, in the Quds Hall of Imam Khomeini Complex in Qom.

“At the time of the birth of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) great events took place because he was carrying a message from God that had to be conveyed to everyone,” stated Grand Ayatollah “Mohammad Taqi Modarressi”, one of the Shiite sources of emulation, in the conference, referring to the birth of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h).

“When this great message came from the cave of Hira, the demons of humans and jinn gathered to confront it, and there it was the turn of Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) to defend the Prophet (p.b.u.h) in a society ruled by a tribal system,” he continued.

“Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) was the senior of Bani Hashim and Bani Hashim was considered the pearl of the Arabian Peninsula, including the Quraysh. Within a tribal system, one group from one tribe would not attack another because it would damage its credibility,” added the Iraqi Shiites’ source of emulation.

“He sacrificed everything to defend the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h). At night, he changed the bed of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) with his children so that the he would not be in danger. Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) sacrificed his property and finally his life in this way,” Ayatollah Modarressi clarified, considering Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) as the supporter of the Prophet (p.b.u.h).

“The Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) called the year of death of Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) and Hazrat Khadijeh (p.b.u.h) as the Aam al-Huzn (Year of Sorrow). Muslims have not yet understood the position of Abu Talib (a.s.). He was the one who presented a person like Imam Ali (a.s.) to the world,” he continued.

“Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) taught his son to sacrifice his life for the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h). Imam Ali (a.s.) also taught this issue to his son Hazrat Abbas (a.s.),” added the Iraqi Shiites’ source of emulation.

“We understand the importance of the tribal position of Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) when we see what happened to the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) after the death of Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.). He was eventually forced to emigrate from Mecca,” stated Grand Ayatollah Modarressi, saying that Muslims are indebted to Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.).

“The prominent role of Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.) is a model for us and different generations. The fact that the Muslim youth defended the sanctities in Iraq and Syria is a value that they learned from their fathers,” he continued.

“When we honor Hazrat Abu Talib (a.s.), we appreciate the outstanding values during different historical periods,” added the Iraqi Shiites’ source of emulation.

“Martyrs Qassem Soleimani, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, and their companions defended the integrity and sanctity of Islam and have a high position. We must teach our children to support religion and religious leaders and to support those who represent religion and propagate it. Hazrat Umm Al-Banin (a.s.) also raised his son to defend the Hujja of God,” he added.

“Today, it is the duty of everyone, including religious scholars, to strive to educate generations. In that case, the enemies will not dare to target our dignity,” he said in the end.




IDF chief Kochavi to lobby European leaders against Iran deal, Hezbollah


MARCH 14, 2021

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi will join President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday on his diplomatic trip to France, Germany, and Austria.

Rivlin and Kochavi are expected to meet French President Emmanuel Macron, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

In addition, Kochavi is expected to meet also with the German Bundeswehr’s Inspector-General Eberhard Zorn and the Austrian Chief of the General Staff Robert Brieger.

IDF senior sources said that Kochavi intends to discuss with the European leaders security-related issues with an emphasis on Iran and Lebanon.

They said that he will present, among other things, the failures of the current Iran deal; the challenges that Iran poses to the region —  from Syria to Yemen; and Lebanon’s and Hezbollah’s disregarding of UN 1701 decision, as well as the implications and threats that their precise missiles pose on the region.

The sources added that Kochavi will also bring up the issue of the IDF captive soldiers, and the recent ICC decision to open an investigation into Israel’s actions in the West Bank, Gaza, and east Jerusalem.

According to sources, the chief of staff will tell the leaders that the decision has severe implications on the ability of democracies to operate on battlefields against terrorist militias that choose to hide behind civilians.

Kochavi was one of the first Israeli officials - after Joe Biden took up the presidency in January - to come out openly against a return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal or the possibility of America entering into a new deal that appear to be only "slightly improved."

If Iran’s progress in developing advanced centrifuges and enriching uranium are not stopped, it could eventually be “only weeks” away from a nuclear bomb, he said at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) annual conference.

The Iran deal would still allow the Islamic Republic to break out to a nuclear weapon in 2030 when the agreement expires, Kochavi said.

The US and others must maintain all sanctions and pressure because Tehran is at its weakest and closest to making real concessions, he said.

Kochavi said he had ordered operational plans to strike Iran’s nuclear program to be ready if necessary, but whether to use those plans and under what circumstances was a decision for the political echelon.


Iran: State-owned Ship Hit By Minor Explosion, Tehran Terms It 'act Of Terrorism'

By Riya Baibhawi

13th March, 2021

An Iranian cargo vessel suffered minor damage after being hit by a low-scale explosion in the Mediterranean sea. The ship named Shahr-e Kord was on its way to Europe when it hit an unidentified explosive device, which eventually damaged the ship’s hull and triggered a small fire. The ship last reported its position on March 10 while moving towards the Syrian port of Latakia, as per Refinitiv ship tracking data.

Meanwhile, speaking to state-owned media, spokesman for the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines Group (IRISL) Ali Ghiasian threatened legal action against what he termed as an act of terrorism and piracy. “Such acts of terrorism and instances of piracy are contrary to international regulations, Ghiasian said adding that “legal prosecution of the perpetrators of this terrorist action will be pursued through competent international organizations.”

As per the state TV report, the explosion did not lead to any fatalities. The incident comes less than two weeks after Israel accused arch-enemy Iran of executing an attack on an Israeli-owned cargo ship in the Gulf of Oman,  a charge denied by Tehran. Speaking to Israeli public broadcaster Kan, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said that “it was indeed an act by Iran, that's clear.” “Iran is the greatest enemy of Israel, I am determined to halt it. We are hitting it in the entire region,” Netanyahu said. In the latest development, Iranian Gen. Esmail Ghaani, chief of the Quds Force, the foreign wing of the Revolutionary Guard has warned that Tehran “will destroy the wall,” referring to Israel’s West Bank separation barrier.

Both Iran and Israel have been involved in a proxy war for decades- with the issue of Palestine being at the heart of the conflict. Tensions further fuelled last year after, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accused Israel of killing Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a top nuclear scientist long suspected by the West of masterminding a secret nuclear bomb program. Calling it a “terrorist and desperate” act, the Shiite leader asserted that once again, the “evil hands of global arrogance” have been strained with the blood of the “mercenary usurper Zionist regime”. Furthermore, he said that Fakhrizadeh’s “martyrdom” reminded the depth of “enemies' malice and grudge”.



Southeast Asia

Islamic finance starts at home, not at the bank, says university head and financial management coach Dr. Murniati Mukhlisin


11 MAR 2021

JAKARTA - Indonesia is home to the world’s biggest Muslim population but Islamic finance comprises only around 10% of financial assets. The government wants Islamic banks, as a sub-sector, to reach at least 15% of total banking assets by 2023 (it was 6.47% last year) and it has a national masterplan to drive growth.

Considering the low uptake of Islamic finance, one woman believes Muslims need a different approach. Dr. Murniati Mukhlisin has been on a mission to teach finance the Islamic way through families, not banks.

“I feel that 90% of Indonesians, whether on campus, in the industry or at the grassroots or family level, don’t really embrace Shariah as their lifestyle,” the Rector of Islamic university Institut Tazkia told Salaam Gateway.

Dr. Murniati became Rector of the university in 2017. She started her career at Uni Bank in Jakarta and also worked at Ernst & Young in Kuala Lumpur. She moved into academia in 2002 when she was a lecturer in Islamic accounting and finance and later became an affiliate staff at the University of Glasgow after completing her PhD in 2014. Before joining Tazkia she was at the Essex Business School at the University of Essex.

What the educator considers to be an issue is that young people are driven to view Islamic finance as a career goal, and that degrees are only a pathway to a good job.

“For me, a good job is an additional goal; the main goal is practising Shariah as a lifestyle. In this context, Islamic financial planning or management is a daily need.”

She has the privilege of practising what she preaches at the university where the finance curriculum blends in Quran and Islamic scholarship. At the same time, away from Tazkia, Dr. Murniati runs a company that coaches individuals and families on Islamic financial management. In the last eight years alone, Sakinah Finance has trained 23,173 participants from 28 countries. The company, which she opened with her husband Dr. Luqman Tamanni in 2008, started with a blog that grew into a bestselling book.

In many ways, Dr. Murniati was compelled to start Sakinah Finance not only because of what she wanted to change at the industry level but more so due to her own personal struggles. 

“At the industry level, from my personal experience when I started work at Uni Bank in 1991—where our office was next to Bank Muamalat (Indonesia’s first Islamic bank)—I saw at the time that Bank Muamalat only introduced Islamic banking products without training their human capital first.

At the family level, she sees people from high school to higher education to the workplace with poor understanding of the concept of Islamic financial management.

“For instance on zakat, they only know zakat, infaq and sadaqah when they put their money in the charity box. But beyond that—who are the beneficiaries, how do we manage zakat, how can we advance beneficiaries to make a better living using the funds—they have no clue.

All these observations form layers over the initial core driver of her motivation that goes back three decades—the woman who now leads an Islamic university was not always a Muslim. She was born into a Christian family in South Sumatra and given the name Mu Kim Ni. Her parents were well-off business people who taught her the value of work.

“I learned to become a cashier at my parents’ shop, calculating using an abacus. I made my own ice-cream and sold them in front of the shop, and many other things.”

“As new Muslims, we should maintain a relationship not only with Allah but also with our family. We can’t just break relationships just because we are of different religions.

“My mom, my younger sister and my aunt are Christians but I always try to be close to them. I sent them gifts, food or money at different occasions and alhamdulillah they slowly accepted my new religion.

She did more than manage. After three years at the conventional Uni Bank she received a scholarship to study at the International Islamic University Malaysia, where she earned her undergraduate degree.

“My intention was to become as good as possible and I was very jealous seeing many clever people. I kept building my knowledge and networking. Later, I saw how it was useful for my life when I took on several positions in industry or on campus – people trust me.”

Dr. Murniati’s other professional contributions make for a long list. She is head of Islamic accounting at the Indonesia Institute of Accountants, a consultant for the central bank (BI), the financial services authority (OJK), and the National Sharia Economy and Finance Committee (KNEKS), expert member of the Indonesian Association of Islamic economics (IAEI), a board member of the Indonesian Economist Association (ISEF), and advisor to the Association of Islamic Fintech Indonesia (AFSI).

Through her personal and professional journey she has maintained her line of truth: “The main message that I want to tell people is that a Muslim wife and husband, or a family, can start to implement financial planning that focuses on Islamic values.”

“There is a wife and husband of around 80-years-old attending our eight-hour class a day. Participants from Japan are also curious about preparation for marriage and Islamic financial planning for after marriage life, and there is also enthusiasm from a young wife in the UK.”

Sakinah Finance is also preparing to train more than 1,000 participants, from state-owned companies, in planning for their pensions.

As the economy struggles to recover and continues to inflict joblessness and lower incomes for a lot of Indonesians, Dr. Murniati advises that instead of rushing to find other sources of income or starting a new business, people should stop to first take a moment to self-reflect.

“Is our income all halal? What if some of our income came from sources that weren’t Shariah-compliant? Have we done zakat, infaq and sadaqah? After considering all these, then we can try to find a new solution. This is the basic knowledge in Islam.


DAP lawmaker says IGP and Ismail Sabri should be charged first under new ‘fake news’ law

By Soo Wern Jun

13 Mar 2021

KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 — DAP’s Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham today said that Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador and Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob should be the first persons to be arrested and charged under the newly gazetted Emergency (Essential Powers) (No.2) Ordinance 2021 which came into effect yesterday for spreading fake news concerning Covid-19 and the emergency.

Ngeh said Abdul Hamid and Ismail should consult the Attorney-General’s Chambers to ascertain if they have “erred in law” via several statements they made regarding the movement control order‘s (MCO) enforcement powers.

“The IGP and defence minister should be the first persons to be arrested and charged for disseminating fake news with regards to Covid-19 and the Emergency.

“Unless they are arrested and charged, the Emergency (Essential Powers) (No.2) Ordinance 2021 should be withdrawn immediately,” Ngeh said.

Citing two examples, Ngeh claimed that Abdul Hamid and Ismail had allegedly spread fake news by announcing that police can arrest and/or issue an offer to compound breaches under Act 342 (Prevention and Controls of Infectious Diseases Act 1988).

“After Act 342 was amended by the Emergency Ordinance 2021, the Health director-general and his authorised officers, after receiving written consent from the Public Prosecutor, may issue an offer to compound for offences under Act 342.

“The police do not have such power based on the ejusdem generics (same kind) rule of interpretation as to who is authorised to issue an offer to compound under Act 342,” he said.

Ngeh added that even if the interpretation allowed the police as authorised officers, they have to get written consent from the Publis Prosecutor before they can issue an offer to compound.

“I believe they did not (get written consent) when they issued offers to compound RM10,000 to all alleged offenders yesterday,” he said.

Citing another example Ngeh referred to the IGP’s statement on February 27, where the latter had said that the compound of RM10,000 will only be effective starting March 11 and will only be imposed on individuals who breached the MCO SOP’s repeatedly as well as those who can trigger the spread of Covid-19.

“On March 11, the IGP confirmed what he said on February 27 was fake news when he said the offer to compound issued by the police has to be RM10,000.00 in all cases.

“If the power to determine the final fine to be imposed rests with the health ministry, clearly the power to compound rests with the ministry,” he said.

“While I do not support that the IGP and defence minister be arrested and charged under the new Ordinance which has come into effect yesterday (March 12), but since it is the law of the land, it has to be executed.

“Since the IGP and defence minister has yet to retract their fake news, they have committed offences under the new Ordinance,” he said.

Under the new Ordinance which came into effect yesterday, individuals who create or publish fake news on Covid-19 or the Emergency proclamation could now face a fine of up to RM100,000 and imprisonment.




Kit Siang: AG must answer if individuals who question PM’s Emergency declaration are prosecuted


13 Mar 2021

KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 — DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang today urged the Attorney-General to provide clarity on the move to prosecute any individuals who claim that the Emergency Ordinance called by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was done to save his skin, says DAP’s Lim Kit Siang.

He questioned the law and its execution and asked why it was not gazetted by the Cabinet.

Lim said a period of time should have been given for public feedback before enacting the law.

The MP for Iskandar Puteri was commenting on de facto Law Minister Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan’s remarks yesterday that it was a criminal offence under the Emergency (Essential Powers) (No. 2) Ordinance 2021 for anyone to allege that Muhyiddin had called for the Emergency because he lost the majority in Parliament and that they can be fined RM100,000, jailed for up to three years or both.

He asserted that Takiyuddin is not part of the judiciary and questioned the legitimacy of his claim.

“Is this the law of the land? Although the issue has to be decided by the Courts and not by the de facto Law Minister,” Lim said in a statement today.

“In any event, in view of the statement by the de facto Law Minister, the Attorney-General Tan Sri Idris Harun should make his position clear, whether he would prosecute any person under the Emergency Ordinance for alleging that the proclamation of emergency was made because Muhyiddin had lost his majority in Parliament.

“I had asked yesterday, among other things,  whether and when the Emergency (Essential Powers) (No. 2) Ordinance 2021 was presented to the Cabinet for approval and why the Cabinet did not suggest that before the Ordinance was gazetted, that there should be a period of public feedback from interested organisations and individuals?

“Answers to these questions are awaited.”

The newly-gazetted Emergency (Essential Powers) (No. 2) Ordinance 2021 criminalises the creation and publishing of fake news.

According to the new Ordinance that takes effect today, individuals found guilty of creating or publishing fake news on Covid-19 or the Emergency proclamation could now face a fine of up to RM100,000 and imprisonment.



South Asia

While Ankara, Moscow Draws Up For Afghan Peace Summits, US Officials Signal Extreme Risks

By Khaama Press

13 Mar 2021

United Nations in a released statement announced that the organization is ready to assist the mediation of the Afghan peace process.

Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General stated on a Friday briefing said that the UN is ready to assist the Afghan people to a peace “agreeable” to all parties.

Dujarric stated that the secretary-general and others have been in constant contact with Americans, Russians, Turks and Qataris, and other parties involved in the Afghan peace process.

“There is a positive momentum from the international community in terms of coordination and moving forward on helping the afghan parties find peace for the sake of the people of Afghanistan,” Dujarric added.

He said that the UN is continuing its discussions and that it will do whatever to facilitate the peace process per the requests within the structured framework.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a phone conversation with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday to discuss Afghanistan.

US State Department stated, that both officials spoke: “on Afghanistan, Secretary Blinken thanked Secretary-General Guterres for his commitment to helping advance talks on a just and durable political settlement and permanent and comprehensive ceasefire,”.

On the other hand, Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib on Saturday announced that the Afghan government will participate in the UN-led conference in Turkey requested by the US and the Moscow conference on the Afghan peace process.

Afghan politicians are expected to join the event in Moscow on 18 March and the Turkey is said to host the UN-led summit on April of 2021.

Turkey conference was proposed by Secretary of State, Antony Blinken to President Ashraf Ghani and Head of High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah.

Mevlut Cavusoglu, Foreign Minister of Turkey hinted on Friday that Istanbul has planned to host the Afghan peace summit in April.

He said “we were one of the few countries invited to this signing ceremony, and we are one of the most important actors in Afghanistan,” Anadolu Agency quoted Cavusoglu.

Earlier, the Russian ambassador to Afghanistan also sent out a letter to Afghan leaders, politicians, and Taliban representatives to join the Moscow peace meeting.

A peace framework that Russia planned for Afghanistan will be discussed in the meeting, however, Maria Zakharova, Spokeswoman to the Russian Foreign Ministry indicated that “the formation of an interim inclusive administration would be a logical solution to the problem of integrating the Taliban into the peaceful political life of Afghanistan”.

The decisions on the table should be made by Afghans themselves and the issues should be resolved during negotiations on national reconciliation, Zakharova told reporters.

Fraidoon Khwazoon told the media that in the Moscow meeting President Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah as well as foreign envoys are expected to participate on 18 of March.

This comes as Washing Post reported that high-ranked Pentagon officials warned of dangerous consequences if the US pulls its troops out of Afghanistan by May 1st, a deadline agreed upon on the US-Taliban peace deal on February 2020 in Doha, Qatar.

According to Washing Post, officials at the US department of state also believe that early US troop’s withdrawal from Afghanistan may lead to a civil war, possible attack on US allies and allies, and most of all the hasty withdrawal will put human rights condition at extreme risk.

This swift pullout will also create significant security and logistical issues, as US troops and contractors will be evacuated by aircraft, this would require the destruction of sensitive equipment worth millions of dollars and could be followed by a diplomatic drawdown in Kabul, Washington Post reported.

An official at the White House reiterated that the Taliban still haven’t fulfilled their commitments to sever ties with Al-Qaeda, according to Washington Post.

U.S President has sought to put an end to the Afghan war and bring US troops back home, but US officials have constantly said that the U.S would mull over troop’s withdrawal and the country is still considering its final decision about the pullout.


ANA, AAF operations claim 28 Taliban in Kandahar

By Khaama Press

13 Mar 2021

The Ministry of Defense said Saturday that 28 Taliban insurgents were killed in attacks conducted by security forces and the Afghan Air Force in Kandahar province.

MoD stated that Afghan national defense and security forces backed by air support launched a clearance operation in Arghandab and Zherai districts of Kandahar province.

The operation led to the death of 28 Taliban militants, seven of the group’s members are also injured during the skirmish, MoD reported.

During the operation 13 motorbikes, 13 bags of explosives, and 50 Taliban positions were targeted and destroyed by the ANA, according to the Ministry of defense.

The statement indicated that a large number of weapons and ammunition were also destroyed.

MoD added that 11 mines planted by the Taliban were also discovered and the bombs were later neutralized and many were saved from harm.

Meanwhile, six security force members are reported killed in a Taliban attack on an outpost in the Khanabad district of Kunduz province.

Local sources told the media that the incident happened on Friday night, and five Taliban insurgents were also killed in the attack.

Reports indicate that the outpost fell to the Taliban militants and five Afghan security force members were also captured by the insurgent group.

Both the government officials and the Taliban have not yet commented on the clash.

Media outlets in the country reported that within 48 hours 30 civilians were either killed or wounded in security incidents in Maidan Wardak, Balkh, Herat, Kandahar, Ghor, Badghis, Kabul, Paktia, and Nangarhar.




Ayodhya: Construction of Mosque, Hospital by Sunni Waqf Board to Begin in May

MARCH 13, 2021


The construction of a mosque, hospital, museum, and cultural centre by the Uttar Pradesh Central Sunni Waqf Board in Dhanipur village of Sohawal tehsil of Ayodhya is expected to commence in the month of May.

As per sources, these structures will be built on the five acres of land which was allotted to the Sunni Waqf Board by the Supreme Court following its landmark judgment on the Ayodhya temple dispute.

The board has formed a trust for this construction — Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation. Foundation spokesperson Athar Hussain said the construction of the hospital is expected to start by May.

He said that the trust held a meeting in Delhi on Friday with senior architect SM Akhtar who designed the construction work. Decisions were taken to make some changes in the construction work that included the widening of the road which is set to be built around the five-acre campus.

First Extension of Ram Janmabhoomi Premises; Trust Purchases 7,285-sq.ft Land for Rs 1 Cr

The green area and parking lot of the entire campus will be specially lined. The map of the proposed construction will be submitted to the Ayodhya administration next week. The members of the foundation are hopeful that after getting the approval in April, the construction can begin in May.



New Age IslamIslam OnlineIslamic WebsiteAfrican Muslim NewsArab World NewsSouth Asia NewsIndian Muslim NewsWorld Muslim NewsWomen in IslamIslamic FeminismArab WomenWomen In ArabIslamophobia in AmericaMuslim Women in WestIslam Women and Feminism