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Islamic World News ( 3 Apr 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Death Is A Great Leveller and So Is Coronavirus: Muslims Cremate Hindu Lady in Dhubri, Assam

New Age Islam News Bureau

3 Apr 2020

Death is a great leveller and so is coronavirus, it appears, dissolving stringent social barriers.


Death Is A Great Leveller and So Is Coronavirus: Muslims Cremate Hindu Lady in Dhubri, Assam

• Arabia Imposes 24-Hour Curfew in Mecca and Medina

• Muslim Paramedic Shaves Off Beard to Protect Others By Wearing Mask

• Council of Islamic Ideology Urges Public to Pray at Home, Adhere to Govt's Safety Guidelines

• Islamic Finance to Expand In 2020, Helped by Growing Use Of Shariah-Compliant Products In The GCC Region And Malaysia

• Hamas Holds Israel Fully Responsible For COVID-19 Outbreak in Blockaded Gaza Strip

• 11 Muslim Religious Leaders, Who Were Returning Home From India, Detained And Placed In Quarantine In Bara

• Islamic Society of Tampa Bay Giving Out Food During Crisis



• Death Is A Great Leveller and So Is Coronavirus: Muslims Cremate Hindu Lady in Dhubri, Assam

• Hyderabad Mosque Delivers Ration to Needy

• Shia Leaders Demand National Ban On Tablighi Jamaat After Spike In Coronavirus Cases

• Coronavirus Outbreak: Cemetery in Mumbai's Malad Refuses To Allow Burial Of Muslim COVID-19 Victim; Deceased Cremated

• 19 Foreign Tabligh Delegates Picked Up from A Bengaluru Mosque

• Coronavirus - Assam's 24-Hour Manhunt To Trace 500 Linked To Delhi Mosque Event

• 960 Foreigners Linked To Islamic Sect Blacklisted, Ministry Orders Action

• 4 Delhi Preachers Detained from Bihar Mosque; Cops Rule Out Tablighi Link

• 21 Muslims Who Travelled To Delhi, Mumbai Quarantined In Kapurthala

• Coronavirus: 9,000 Islamic Sect Members, Primary Contacts Quarantined Across India

• Farangi Mahal Fatwa in Lucknow: Screening Must for Any Corona Suspect


Arab world

• Saudi Arabia Imposes 24-Hour Curfew in Mecca and Medina

• Islamic Trade Finance Body Launches $850m Coronavirus Financing

• Department Of Community Development Praises Positive Cooperation From Non-Muslim Houses Of Worship In Abu Dhabi

• Abu Dhabi well stocked to meet Ramadan food demand

• Saudi Arabia calls ‘urgent’ meeting of oil producers

• Saudi doctor on the front-line battle against coronavirus in Italy

• Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Donald Trump discuss energy markets in telephone call

• Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Makes Telephone Call to Crown Prince of Britain



• Muslim Paramedic Shaves Off Beard to Protect Others By Wearing Mask

• Syria Seals Major Shrine for Shia Pilgrims to Stem Virus

• Christian And Muslim Services Being Broadcast on Local Radio

• Rethinking Europe’s Early Modern Islamic Legacy



• Council of Islamic Ideology Urges Public to Pray at Home, Adhere to Govt's Safety Guidelines

• Police using delaying tactics to end cases against imams’

• Islamic banks’ financing growth to fall below 5pc in Pakistan: RAM

• Govt to start flights for stranded Pakistanis

• 101 preachers among 141 more Covid-19 patients in Lahore

• Restrictions enhanced on entry into Islamabad

• Sindh announces three-hour complete lockdown for Friday

• 14 more test positive at Tableeghi Jamaat headquarters


Southeast Asia

• Islamic Finance to Expand In 2020, Helped by Growing Use Of Shariah-Compliant Products In The GCC Region And Malaysia

• Malaysia's Indigenous People Flee Into Forests To Escape Coronavirus

• House, Govt To Deliberate Problematic Bills Despite COVID-19 Pandemic, Protests

• Gender Divide: Peru, Panama Limit Men And Women To Alternate Days Out To Stall Virus

• COVID-19: 'Mudik' risks mass contagion across Java

• Singapore reports fifth person has died from coronavirus

• Covid-19: 208 new cases, death toll now at 50



• Hamas Holds Israel Fully Responsible For COVID-19 Outbreak in Blockaded Gaza Strip

• Chinese Mongolia Muslims Send Anti-Coronavirus Aid to Iran

• Iran Saffron Prices Stumble to Record Lows Amid Virus Surge in Europe

• Iran Medical Body Writes to Guterres, Slams UN Inaction on Cruel US Bans

• Turkish forces, militants shell Syria’s Hasakah; two civilians killed

• Trump threatens Iran by citing baseless allegations involving Iraq

• PKK claims responsibility for Iran-Turkey gas pipeline explosion

• Lebanon complains to UN Security Council against Israel over violating airspace

• Anti-Siege Committee Calls for Intl. Action To Help Gaza Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

• As coronavirus spreads, UN seeks nationwide ceasefire in Yemen

• Luxurious Iran Mall serves as hospital for COVID-19 patients


South Asia

• 11 Muslim Religious Leaders, Who Were Returning Home From India, Detained And Placed In Quarantine In Bara

• Hate Campaigns Against Muslim Community Deplorable – Sri Lankan President’s Counsel Ali Sabry

• Rab Arrests 3 ‘Ansar Al Islam Members’ in Rajshahi

• U.S. strongly reacts to Ghani’s move regarding ‘grave weakening’ of finance ministry

• Palace releases details of telephone conversation between Ghani and Gen. Bajwa

• Coronavirus Have Positive Effects on The Environment 

• Afghan forces kill, wound 9 Taliban militants in Jawzjan province


North America

• Islamic Society of Tampa Bay Giving Out Food During Crisis

• Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association helping those self-isolating during coronavirus pandemic

• COVID-19 pandemic is testing world leaders. Who's stepping up?

• Coronavirus: US moves towards promoting broader use of face masks

• US Navy relieves commander of coronavirus-hit ship over memo leak



• COVID-19: Islamic Group Makes Case For Nigeria’s Health Workers

• COVID-19: MSSN Condemns Troublemakers Over Closure Of Mosques

• COVID-19: Order Oyo’s Total Lockdown, Muslim Community Asks FG

• COVID-19: Taraba govt. distributes hand sanitisers to CAN, Muslim Councils

• Lagos shuts, disinfects mosque where worshippers attacked officials

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Death Is A Great Leveller and So Is Coronavirus: Muslims Cremate Hindu Lady in Dhubri, Assam


By Mukesh Kumar Singh

Death is a great leveller and so is coronavirus, it appears, dissolving stringent social barriers.

In Dhubri district of Assam, about 25 members of the Muslim community, led by the local unit of the All Assam Minority Students Union (AAMSU), performed the last rites of their Hindu neighbour Shanti Choudhary on Wednesday as her relatives could not reach her house because of the nationwide lockdown.

Shanti, 75, widow of Doodhnath Choudhary, a resident of Panbari village, 20km from the district headquarters, died around 10am on Wednesday.

“Her family members, comprising her son, daughter-in-law and small grandson, informed their relatives but they expressed their inability to attend the last rites because of the lockdown,” local leader and AAMSU organising secretary Dilower Hussain said.

“Seeing their problem, AAMSU members and locals gathered at her home and called a Hindu priest from a nearby village to perform the rituals at her home. Thereafter, Muslim men carried the bier, chanting what the Hindus do. We also arranged the pyre and other requirements for her last rites at Panbari cremation ground and cremated her in the evening following all Hindu rituals,” Hussain said.

The lockdown, put in place from March 24 midnight to contain Covid-19, is building emotional bonding amid social distancing.


Saudi Arabia imposes 24-hour curfew in Mecca and Medina

Reuters | Apr 2, 2020, 06.12 PM IST

Saudi Arabia imposes 24-hour curfew in Mecca and Medina

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia imposed a 24-hour curfew in the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina on Thursday, extending measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected more than 1,700 people in the kingdom and killed 16.

The interior ministry said in a statement there were some exceptions, including for essential workers and in order for residents to buy food and access medical care. Cars in those cities' residential districts may only carry one passenger to limit the virus' transmission, it said.

The country of 30 million has taken drastic steps to contain the disease, halting international flights, closing most public places, and suspending the year-round umrah pilgrimage. On Tuesday, it asked Muslims to put plans for the annual haj pilgrimage on hold pending more clarity about the pandemic.

Restrictions on movement have tightened, with entry and exit to Riyadh, Mecca, Medina and Jeddah heavily restricted. Some neighbourhoods in Mecca and Medina were already under full lockdown, but in the rest of those cities the curfew was previously from 1500 to 0600.

The eastern oil-producing province of Qatif, where the kingdom's first coronavirus cases were reported last month among Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims returning from Iran, has been on lockdown for nearly four weeks.

Saudi Arabia has the most infections and deaths among the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, but public health officials say past experience combating the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) helped prepare the kingdom for the new coronavirus outbreak.


Council of Islamic Ideology urges public to pray at home, adhere to govt's safety guidelines

April 2, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) on Thursday urged the people to pray at home following the coronavirus outbreak and adhere to the safety guidelines of the government to contain the virus.

In a press release issued Thursday, the CII threw its weight behind the government's decision to ban congregational prayers for more than five people. "The value of human life has a special importance in Shariah and the religion of God gives it special importance," its chairperson, Dr Qibla Ayaz, said, according to the statement.

Ayaz urged people to stay at home to practise social distancing and called upon them to follow safety precautions provided by the state institutions and medical experts.

He emphasised that people should not perceive that mosques were being locked up but at the same time, urged the places of worship to adhere to the government's instructions on limiting congregational prayers.

The CII called upon the government to seek cooperation from imams rather than locking them up so that they could fight the virus with the authorities' help. It added that the spread of the coronavirus was not linked to any one religious group or sect.

"Whether it be Umrah pilgrims, zaireen of holy sites or members of the Tableeghi Jamaat, none are associated with the spread of this disease. The individual negligence that has taken place in this regard should be treated with lawful and logical steps," said Ayaz.

The council paid tribute to the international organisations, medical experts, and health professionals battling the virus at present and those engaged in seeking a cure for the pandemic. It urged the affluent to keep in mind the religious minorities in Pakistan and help them out during this crisis.

"All those affected by the coronavirus should be helped regardless of their faith or ethnicity. The government, civil society and public should join hands to provide relief to them," the CII chair added.

Ayaz noted that people who had died from the coronavirus should be referred to as martyrs or deceased, rather than saying they were killed. He added that those who lost their battle against COVID-19 should be given ghusl, or ablution, in accordance with the safety precautions.

Condemning the curfew in occupied Kashmir, the CII called on the world to take notice of Indian barbarity in the disputed territory. It also said the government should help out Pakistanis who were stranded both within the country and abroad.


Islamic Finance To Expand In 2020, Helped By Growing Use Of Shariah-Compliant Products In The GCC Region And Malaysia

April 3, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR Islamic financeis poisedto expandin 2020 and beyond, helped by growing use of Shariah-compliant products in the GCC region and Malaysia, according to a new report from Moody’s Investors Service. “We expect sukuk issuance to remain stable at around $180 billion (Dh661bn) this year, and the takaful insurance market will see steady growth as insurance premiums pick up in newly-penetrated markets,” said Nitish Bhojnagarwala, a vice president and senior credit officer at Moody’s. “However, downside risks are rising because of the coronavirus outbreak, as prolonged market disruption could dissuade issuers from coming to market,” he added. Global sukuk issuance rises 6% in 2019 as range of issuers broadens “There will be continued focus onthe sukuk industry and increased issuance by the governments of the core Islamic finance markets. The deficit financing needs of some GCC sovereigns, amid weaker oil prices and higher sukuk refinancing ,will also provide support,” Moody’s said. Mergers between Islamic and conventional banks in the GCC will drive one-off increases in assets, as they did in 2019, it added. In Kuwait, the merger between Kuwait Finance House and Bahrain-based Ahli United Bank once completed, is likely to create the world’s largest Islamic bank, surpassing Saudi Arabia-based Al Rajhi Bank.Saudi Arabia will remain the world’s largest Islamic banking market, while the sector will continue to expand rapidly in Malaysia, according to the report. Islamic Financing assets in the kingdom rose to $309bn as of September 2019 from $296bn in December 2018, according to the report. “We expect Islamic finance penetration in Saudi Arabia to increase to 80 per cent of system-wide loans (including both conventional and Islamic financing assets) over the next 12-18 months, from 77 per cent in 2018, driven by increased demand from both corporate and retail clients.” Islamic banking penetration in the core Islamic financial markets of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Malaysia, Indonesia and Turkey, increased to 31.2 per cent in September 2019, from 25.5 per cent in 2013, while annual global sukuk issuance increased to $179bn from $131bn, it said. IntheGCC,Oman remainsthe fastest-growing Islamic banking market at a rate of 10 per cent in the first nine months of 2019. Oman has two standalone Islamic banks and six Islamic windows at conventional banks offering Islamic services and the sector’smarket share has risen from zero to around 15 per cent of banking system financing assets as of September 2019, with potential for further growth, it said. In Turkey and Indonesia, the penetration of Islamic banking remains relatively low at 5 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively.


Hamas holds Israel fully responsible for COVID-19 outbreak in blockaded Gaza Strip

02 April 2020

“The Israeli occupation, which has been imposing a blockade on Gaza for 13 years, will bear responsibility for the repercussions of any coronavirus spread in the Strip,” the Palestinian  Information Center quoted Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasem as saying in a press conference on Thursday.

The COVID-19 disease, caused by a new coronavirus, was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year and is currently affecting over 200 countries and territories across the globe. It has so far affected more than 962,690 people and killed over 49,185.

Official figures by Palestine's health ministry shows that as of Thursday, 160 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and one individual has died so far. Around a dozen of the infected people are in Gaza Strip, home to nearly two million people, and the rest are in the occupied West Bank.

The Hamas spokesman also said that Tel Aviv is committing a compounding crime through its persisting in besieging the enclave during the current pandemic, stressing that Hamas and all other resistance and national groups will continue their struggle to break the unjust blockade.

The majority of population of Gaza lives in tightly packed refugee camps, where social distancing is hardly feasible and the new coronavirus can rampage there if necessary safety measures are not taken.

Separately on Thursday, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor lambasted comments by Israeli minister for military affairs Naftali Bennett about sending anti-COVID19 aid to the Gaza Strip.

A day earlier, the Israeli minister had suggested that any future coronavirus assistance for the blockaded sliver be contingent on recovering the remains of two Israeli soldiers who died in 2014.

In a statement, the Euro-Med Monitor condemned Bennett’s linking of Gaza’s urgent humanitarian needs to any other issue as an “inhumane act,” calling for separating the humanitarian issues from any political calculations.

Additionally on Thursday, the International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza warned in a statement that the worsening humanitarian and health situation in the densely-populated enclave entailed urgent international intervention.

Zahir Birawi, the head of the UK-based committee, also called for urgent international action to break the siege on the Gaza Strip and provide it with medicine and necessary medical supplies,

particularly now that the pandemic rages across the world and the presence of some quarantined cases in the enclave.

Gaza has been under an Israeli siege through air, land and sea since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in the standards of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.

The Israeli regime denies Gazans their basic rights, such as freedom of movement, jobs with proper wages as well as adequate healthcare and education.

Since 2008, Israel has waged three wars against Gaza and thousands of Gazans have been killed in each of these deadly wars.


11 Muslim Religious Leaders, Who Were Returning Home From India, Detained And Placed In Quarantine In Bara

April 03, 2020

Eleven Muslim religious leaders of Saptari, who were returning home from India by secretly crossing the border, were detained and placed in quarantine in Bara.

The religious leaders from Saptari’s Tilathi Koiladi Rural Municipality, who had spent over a month participating in various religious congregations across India, had secretly crossed the Nepal-India border and arrived at Bishrampur Rural Municipality.

Police detained them today. They were then sent to a quarantine site at Siddhartha Secondary School on the premises of Birgunj Sugar Mills factory.

“After we learnt that a few Muslim religious leaders had arrived at the mosque in Bishrampur, we reached the mosque with the rural municipality Chairperson Amirilal Pal and Vice-chairperson Sumitradevi Sah and the locals, got their health checked up and then sent them to quarantine,” said DSP Gautam Mishra of Bara.


Islamic Society of Tampa Bay giving out food during crisis

Apr 02, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Islamic Society of Tampa Bay is helping during a very serious crisis.

They have about 30 volunteers who are working hour after hour. They are preparing boxes of food to give to people in need.

“It’s open for everyone,” said Hatem Fraiz, Director of the Islamic Community of Tampa. “Every neighbor, race, region, color.”

All you have to do is drive up to their mosque at 5910 East 130th Avenue in Tampa and open your trunk.

“We have brought together a package of food, it’s enough for a family for a whole week. Now everybody is not getting paid, everybody is getting laid off. Everybody is home, especially after the order from last night from our Governor. We just continue to help and send our message to the community that we are your good Muslim neighbors. Your good Muslim friends. And we are here to help with whatever we can,” said Fraiz.

The Islamic Society is also helping with financial assistance for people in need and for seniors who can’t make it here for pick up, they have boxes they can deliver.



Hyderabad mosque delivers ration to needy

Apr 3, 2020

HYDERABAD: The famous Spanish Mosque of Paigah Palace on Thursday started distributing ration to people in need of basic essentials. Phase 1 of the drive covered 600 families of all communities living in Secunderabad. The police department helped the mutawalli committee of the mosque in the distribution.

Every package comprised five-kg rice, two-kg aata, sugar, dal among other things and will last a family for at least 15 days. By the weekend, volunteers of the mosque hope to cover 1,250 homes.

“We hope that more people are inspired by such gestures and come out in large numbers to help those who require our support right now,” said Faiz Khan of the Paigah family, lauding police’s support.


Shia leaders demand national ban on Tablighi Jamaat after spike in coronavirus cases

03rd April 2020

LUCKNOW: After the Dargah Ala Hazrat in Bareilly, it is now the Shia clerics who are demanding a ban on the Tablighi Jamaat in the country. The controversy over holding of Tablighi Jamaat at Nizamuddin in Delhi, during the coronavirus outbreak has upped the ante against the Tablighi Jamaat.

Uttar Pradesh Muslim Waqf minister Mohsin Raza described Tablighi Jamaat as an extremist organization while the Shia Waqf Board chief Waseem Rizvi said that the organization produced suicide bombers. The two leaders have demanded a ban on such organizations for alleged involvement in anti-national activities.

Mohsin Raza, the only Muslim face in UP government, said: "An extremist organization has displayed anti-India behaviour at a time when the country is unitedly fighting against coronavirus. They defied government order to hold the congregation. The organization's international funding should also be looked into and legal action must also be taken."

Earlier, in a video message, Rizvi alleged that Tablighi Jamaat had deliberately got its followers infected with coronavirus and sent them to India so that maximum people got infected. "Such mentality deserves death and nothing less. The organization should be banned," he stated.

Meanwhile, Sardar Parvinder Singh, member, UP Commission for Minorities, who has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said that the statements made by Maulana Saeed, convener of Nizamuddin Markaz Tablighi Jamaat, could disturb communal harmony in the country.

"Tablighi Jamaat went against the directions of Delhi and central governments which barred gatherings of more than 50 people. They also violated prohibitory orders (Section 144 of CrPC) putting innocent people at risk. The organization should be banned nationally," he stated.

He further said, "The convener of Jamaat has said that convention is being targeted by non-Muslims and is asking the youths to stay with their brethren. All these statements can disturb communal harmony.


Coronavirus Outbreak: Cemetery in Mumbai's Malad refuses to allow burial of Muslim COVID-19 victim; deceased cremated

Apr 02, 2020

Mumbai: A 65-year-old Muslim man from Mumbai's suburb Malad, who died of coronavirus infection, was cremated after the trustees of a cemetery denied permission to bury his body there, his family members alleged on Thursday.

One of the family members of the deceased alleged that when his body was taken to Malad Malwadni Kabrastan, its trustees denied burial "as he was coronavirus positive".

The local police and a politician then tried to intervene and urged the trustees to allow the burial, but the latter did not budge, the family member said.

Thereafter, some social workers intervened and requested a nearby Hindu crematorium to cremate the body. As they agreed to do so, the man was finally cremated at 10 am.

Talking to PTI, Maharashtra minister and Malwani MLA, Aslam Shaikh, said, "As per the government guidelines, Muslim COVID-19 victims should be buried at a cemetery, which is closest to the place where the patient died."

"But in this case, the family of the deceased took his body directly to Malad Malwani Kabrastan without informing anyone, including trustees of the cemetery, and then demanded his burial, he said.

"Strict action should be taken against the civic staffs, who brought the body to the cemetery despite knowing the guidelines," he said, adding that a day before this incident, another coronavirus victim had been buried at that cemetery.

The son of the deceased said, "After my father was declared dead at the hospital no one came to help me. I kept sitting beside the body outside the hospital for more than three hours."

"We wanted to bury his body at the Malad-Malwani Kabrastan. But when we reached there, the trustees of the cemetery refused to allow the burial saying he was a COVID-19 patient," he said.

"After the intervention by the police and other authorities, the body was cremated at a nearby Hindu shamshan bhoomi (crematorium)," he added.

Local Samajwadi Party corporator Rukhsana Siddique said, "When the civic staffers know that as per the circular, a COVID-19 victim should be buried at a nearby cemetery, then why died they took the body to Malad (West) although he died at a hospital in Jogeshwari (East)?"


19 foreign Tabligh delegates picked up from a Bengaluru mosque

Apr 3, 2020

BENGALURU: Authorities had a hard time convincing 10 Indonesians and nine Kyrgyzstan nationals, who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat conference in New Delhi in February-March, to get medically checked and to stay in quarantine.

These foreign nationals were allegedly staying in a mosque in Goripalya, off Mysuru Road and were picked up on Tuesday evening by officials involved in identifying contacts of Covid-19 patients.

These foreign nationals flew into the city from New Delhi on March 13, said a source familiar with the operation to track Tabligh delegates who attended the conclave.

“We received information from intelligence and other sources about 19 foreigners holed up in the mosque. We sent our health officers to inspect the place,” the source said.

The three-floor mosque had housed the Indonesians on the first floor, the Kyrgyzstan nationals on the second floor and 12 Keralites on the third floor. All 31 were residing in the mosque since March 16 and were surviving only on bread and water. The officials spoke to the head cleric of the masjid, who, after much persuasion, eventually allowed them to enter and take all 31 into public quarantine.

“We feared a law and order situation given that the area is densely populated area,” said the source. “We entered the masjid through the backdoor and ferried the 31people in two ambulances directly to a hospital in CV Raman Nagar. We were unable to converse with the foreigners because of the language barrier. They refused to eat food we gave them and began shouting and beating us.”

Officials said some tried to escape as they were worried about their safety. However officials managed to convince them and gave them bread and biscuits which they ate.

In Hubballi, As many as 15 Tablighi Jamaat delegates who were kept in an isolation facility at the Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences Hospital allegedly created a ruckus in the ward.

Sources said the delegates reportedly harassed staff and doctors, refused to eat food that was served (upma) and demanded idli,vada, shira and dosa. They also demanded bottled mineral water, hot water for a bath, toothbrushes and other facilities. They threatened to leave if their demands were not fulfilled.

After doctors met demands, delegates then demanded new beds. Doctors summoned the police, who got the inmates to fall in line. Sources alleged that the inmates even spat on the floor when the staff and doctors did not fulfil their demands.


Coronavirus - Assam's 24-Hour Manhunt To Trace 500 Linked To Delhi Mosque Event

April 03, 2020

Guwahati: With a non-stop 24-hour operation, Assam has been able to trace nearly 500 people from the state who took part in the religious congregation in Delhi's Nizamuddin area last month that has emerged as the biggest coronavirus hotspot in India, Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Wednesday. At least 16 people of those traced to the event held at the Markaz or headquarters of the Islamic missionary group Tablighi Jamaat have tested for coronavirus, he said.

"We had information about 732 people linked to the Nizamuddin fiasco in Assam. In our investigation, we found 226 were not present at the Markaz but in the general Nizamuddin area. We were left to find out 503 people. We launched a manhunt. We have been able to trace 488 people. We are still looking for 15 people," Mr Sarma said on Thursday.

Senior state government officials told NDTV that till Wednesday evening, they were looking out for over 100 people and most of them had gone into "hiding".

Even the police were not able to make much headway. This is when the Assam government's dedicated health helpline -104- came to the rescue. Numerous calls started coming in from villagers and even relatives of many who had returned from the Nizamuddin congregation but did not disclose it, officials said.

"Unlike many other states, we already have a full-fledged health department helpline number - 104. People in Assam are well aware of it. hundreds of calls came that helped us trace these people," Mr Sarma said.

"We had to make sure that they cooperate with us. We convinced them that it's for their good. Not many had smartphones, whoever had, we did video calls to explain them. The idea was to win their trust before our health worker teams reach them so that they don't resist," Pomi Baruah, Nodal officer of 104 Helpline project told NDTV.

Armed with the tip-offs, the health department with the help of district authorities and the police launched an operation on Wednesday evening to locate all the "untraceable" people within 24 hours, a senior Assam health department official said.

"We have quarantined 395 persons who are Tablighi attendees. Of them, we have collected samples of 361, and have sent for test. The results will come only on Friday. We will get a clear picture by tomorrow first half of the day. The figure might go up," Mr Sarma said.

Officials also added that now that their 'picking suspects' is almost over with a swift 24 hour non-stop operation, testing of these people will be fast-tracked.

"Initially the list that we received was a smaller one in number, we immediately the health department's surveillance teams in action, as we started the reach out to these people and our call-center started getting calls, we started getting feedback from the ground, and this set went on becoming larger. The challenge was to get the people who had visited Nizamuddin Markaz and their contact tracing, get more people in quarantine" explained Assam's Health Secretary Samir Sinha to NDTV.


960 Foreigners Linked To Islamic Sect Blacklisted, Ministry Orders Action

April 03, 2020

New Delhi: The home ministry has blacklisted 960 foreigners currently in India on tourist visas for their involvement in the activities of the religious group Tablighi Jamaat, whose event in Delhi last month turned out to be a hotspot for coronavirus. Several people from COVID-19 nations had attended the event. So far, more than 550 people with links to the gathering have tested positive for coronavirus.

The ministry said more than 1,300 foreign Tablighi Jamaat activists from the US, France and Italy, have been identified in different parts of the country.

"The home ministry has blacklisted 960 foreigners and their Indian visas have also been cancelled for their involvement in Tablighi Jamaat activities while coming on tourist visas," the Union home minister's Amit Shah's office tweeted in Hindi.

"We have cancelled their visa. Now necessary legal action would be taken against of them and they would be deported back to their host country," a senior government official told NDTV.

According to him, legal proceedings will be initiated against all blacklisted Tablighi Jamaat workers under Section 14 of Foreigners Act, which involves misuse of visa. Foreigners visiting on tourist visa are not allowed to take part in religious activities. States have been asked to take action against them and the home ministry has also ordered action under the Disaster Management Act.

The government has also decided not to issue tourist visa to any foreigner who wishes to visit India and take part in Tablighi activities.

"As of now, they are either in quarantine facilities or in hospitals. After medical treatment, they would be shifted to detention centres in states they are in and the proceedings will continue from there," an official said.

The home ministry has provided all details to Ministry of External Affairs to help them get in touch with the 67 nations to which the people belong. The foreign ministry is working out the details of how each country would take their nationals back.

The home ministry meanwhile, issued the 3rd Addendum to lockdown, adding details regarding the release of foreign nationals from quarantine facilities and evacuation.

As per Home Ministry guidelines for evacuation of a foreign national, a chartered flight has to be arranged by the concerned nation in consultation with the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Prior to departure, the foreign national would be screened for COVID-19 symptoms. Only those who are asymptomatic, will be allowed to leave. In case of a person still showing symptoms, the future course of treatment would be followed.


4 Delhi preachers detained from Bihar mosque; cops rule out Tablighi link

April 2, 2020

Four preachers hailing from Delhi were taken into custody from a mosque here on Thursday, though police said they did not have any link with last month's Tablighi Jamaat congregation in the national capital, which has been blamed for the recent spurt in Covid-19 cases across the country.

Town police station SHO Akhilesh Kumar Singh said locals came up with information about the four preachers "hiding" inside the mosque following which a police team accompanied by doctors visited the shrine and took them into custody.

Sheikhpura district medical officer-in-charge Ashok Kumar Singh said, "The four were suffering from high fever but no other symptoms of coronavirus. Their samples have been, nevertheless, collected and being sent to Patna for testing.

They requested the authorities to send them to the adjoining Begusarai district where their relatives stay, showing willingness to undergo a quarantine there.

"After speaking to their relatives over phone, who agreed to have them quarantined at their place, the preachers were sent to Begusarai in an ambulance," Singh said.


21 Muslims who travelled to Delhi, Mumbai quarantined in Kapurthala

Apr 02, 2020

Twenty-one members of the Muslim community from Kot Karaar Kalan village in Kapurthala district, who recently travelled to Mumbai and New Delhi to pay obeisance at religious shrines, have been home quarantined, officials said on Thursday.

Seven persons who had returned from the national capital on March 22 did not attend the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Nizamuddin, they said.

“We have conducted medical tests and all of them are fit. But we have put them under home quarantine as a precautionary measure,” said Kapurthala sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Varinderpal Singh Bajwa.

The health authorities in Jalandhar district collected samples of six close contacts of Bhai Nirmal Singh, a Gurbani exponent and Padma Shri awardee, who passed away in Amritsar after testing positive for Covid-19. They were kept in the isolation centre of the Jalandhar civil hospital.

Bhai Nirmal Singh also met noted environmentalist Balbir Singh Seechewal on March 12 in the Lohian Khas area where Seechewal along with local residents was carrying out desilting of the Sutlej.

The health department teams on Thursday conducted check-up of Seechewal and his aides, who came in touch of Bhai Nirmal Singh, in Sultanpur Lodhi. Seechewal said since it was two weeks ago when he met Nirmal Singh and completed 14-day period, he will not go into isolation.


Coronavirus: 9,000 Islamic Sect Members, Primary Contacts Quarantined Across India

April 02, 2020

Mumbai: About 9,000 Tablighi Jamaat members and their primary contacts have been quarantined till now across the country in view of the coronavirus infection, a senior home ministry official said on Thursday.

Punya Salila Srivastava, a joint secretary in the Union Home Ministry, told reporters during a daily briefing that out of about 2,000 such Tablighi Jamaat members in Delhi, 1,804 have been shifted to quarantine centres while 334 symptomatic people have been admitted to hospitals.

She said these numbers are a result of a "massive effort" that was undertaken by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in coordination with states to identify Tablighi Jamaat workers or members in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Farangi Mahal fatwa in Lucknow: Screening must for any corona suspect

Apr 3, 2020

LUCKNOW: Lucknow-based Darul Uloom Farangi Mahal on Thursday issued a ‘fatwa’ making it mandatory for all suspected persons to get themselves tested for Covid-19 and those who are affected by it should get themselves treated. The ‘fatwa’ says that it’s a crime against humanity and forbidden in Islam as per Quran and the Prophet’s Hadiths if someone puts his or other lives in danger.

The 'fatwa' came in response to a query sent to the seminary in which a lawyer Raees sought directions in case a person was affected by coronavirus and was hiding his illness. In response to the query the 'fatwa' was issued by Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahali, Maulana Nasrullah, Maulana Naeem-Ur-Rahman Siddiqui and Maulana Mohammad Mushtaq.

Explaining the content of the 'fatwa', Maulana Khalid Rasheed said it was mandatory for anyone who is suspected to have been infected by the virus to get tested and he should not hide it. “It is ‘haraam’ (forbidden) and a sinful act if somebody keeps others in the darkness and deceives them about their illness. “It is criminal if somebody has the infection and is not telling authorities about it,” he said. The second part of the question dealt about the protocol for Covid-19 treatment to be followed by doctors and the government. “Islam gives importance to a person’s life and it tells people not to put anybody's life in danger. If a new coronavirus infected person does not get treated, he will put his life as well as his community’s life in danger. Quran says that saving one's life is equal to saving all the mankind. The Quran also asks a person not to kill himself,” said the cleric.

Vice-president of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board and top Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Sadiq also backed the fatwa. In a video statement he clarified that all sects within Islam have the same 'fatwa' during the Covid-19 pandemic which is to save themselves and the life of all human beings. "Instead of running and hiding, all Muslims should follow directives by the health ministry and doctors. The Quran and Hadith both talk about saving your life and that of others. It means we should take all steps to check spread of coronavirus whose cure has not been found yet," he said.


Arab world 

Islamic trade finance body launches $850m coronavirus financing

April 3, 2020

RIYADH International Islamic Trade Finance Corp (ITFC) is providing $850 million in emergency financing to governments help cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, its chief executive said. The ITFC’s mandate is to promote trade within the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), whose 57 members countries are eligible its financing packages. Funds from the “Rapid Response Initiative” will be used to meet needy OIC countries’ immediate healthcare requirements plus critical supplies of energy and food, Hani Salem Sonbol told Reuters. He said some $300 million would be immediately available, andthe rest deployedto help with the economic recovery once the epidemic was over. He did not specify which OIC states would be beneficiaries, but suggested the impact of the outbreak would be far-reaching. “Today, even the developed countries have issues with their healthcare capacity to absorb this kind of crisis, so you can imagine how this is affecting the less developed countries,” he said. The financing will be “seed money” and is expected to scale up. “From our experience, each dollar from ITFC can bring four or five dollars form the market and from our strategic partners, and many of them already expressed their willingness to come along,” he said in a telephone interview.


Department Of Community Development Praises Positive Cooperation From Non-Muslim Houses Of Worship In Abu Dhabi


ABU DHABI, 2nd April 2020 (WAM) - The Abu Dhabi Department of Community Development, DCD, expressed its thanks to all non-Muslim houses of worship for their collaboration and positive response to the guidelines and instructions issued to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, stressing the importance of social solidarity and national vigilance on the part of all members of society.

Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, the Chairman of the Department of Community Development, sent out a letter to all non-Muslim houses of worship in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi reassuring them that the Department was following up on their positive response to the efforts of the government and the community.

"I deeply feel that we have become one community, living on this good land with God’s blessing. We thank Him during times of prosperity and we pray for Him during times of need. We will get through this crisis together. I would like to thank you for the good initiatives you’ve taken, through which you have truly proven to be a part of Abu Dhabi,"he said.

He added that he was aware of the great role these houses of worship were playing in guiding their members and emphasizing the notion of social responsibility.

"I feel happy when I see this spirit of solidarity between the houses of worship. I have taken notice of how you are following up with members of your communities, and of the messages and prayers you are sending out. I greatly appreciate these efforts that will help support people as they face this crisis and will reveal a positive side to the situation. These are the values of faith within all religions," he stated.

Al Khaili then stressed the importance of noble actions during hard times, saying hardships are followed by blessings.

"Gold Almighty gives us faith to take refuge in during hard times,"he said, adding that he hoped lines of communication would remain open and that the DCD was ready to place all its capacities at the services of houses of worship to share responsibilities and actions to empower all those who can contribute to facing this crisis.

Sultan Al Mutawa Al Dhaheri, the Department's Executive Director of Community Participation, noted that the DCD had issued a procedures manual to help houses of worship deal with the coronavirus. The guide covers the safety measures to be taken and adhered to by everyone in Abu Dhabi. Awareness messages were also being sent on a daily basis to help houses of worship use this time the best way possible.

"The messages cover health and social issues, and ways of social contribution, with advice written by field experts and made available in several languages," he said emphasizing the need to complement efforts with regular reports to the Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Management Team through the DCD to keep them regularly up to date with developments."

Al Dhaheri further explained that the Department was regularly communicating with all houses of worship across the Emirate to provide advice, guidance, and information. "We hope to provide the needed materials and support in collaboration with our partner government entities, to ultimately unite efforts and offer the needed support to maintain the safety of those working at the houses of worship and their community members," he said also praising the great role the Emirate was playing in helping congregations conduct immediate and free tests for suspected cases.

Al Dhaheri reiterated that the Department, along with all houses of worship in Abu Dhabi, were committed to implementing all issued guidelines and preventive measures, and to dealing with the situation as best as possible by raising awareness among believers and workers.

His statement in turn confirms the Department’s role as a regulator of houses of worship as it implements alternative plans for remote working through electronic platforms dedicated to these centers.

With the Department’s help, houses of worship can conduct prayers, and offer seminars and awareness activities remotely, while also guaranteeing continuous communication to help regulate this vital sector that forms an integral part of the community.


Abu Dhabi well stocked to meet Ramadan food demand

Haneen Dajani

April 2, 2020

Abu Dhabi has doubled the amount of basic food items available at municipality-run food distribution centres and cooperative societies across the country.

The increased quantity of food will be available to Emiratis throughout April and May as they prepare for the Holy Month of Ramadan.

we are pleased to inform you that we have doubled the quantities of basic food goods from the beginning of April until the end of May...

Citizens can order from participating outlets via the Abu Dhabi Municipality’s smart hub as the public is urged to stay home to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

“[Now it ] enables UAE nationals to place delivery orders for all basic food items across distribution centers across participating cooperative societies,” said the Department of Municipalities and Transport on Twitter.


Saudi Arabia calls ‘urgent’ meeting of oil producers

April 02, 2020

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia has called an urgent meeting of the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries and other oil exporters, to discuss restoring the “desired balance” in global energy markets.

The move — which prompted a big jump in the price of oil on global markets — is part of the Kingdom’s “constant efforts to support the global economy in these exceptional circumstances, and in appreciation of the request of the President of the USA, Donald Trump, and the request of friends in the USA,” according to a statement published by the official Saudi news agency.

Global oil prices reacted immediately. Brent crude, the Middle East benchmark, increased by 20 percent, taking it back above $30 a barrel.

The price of crude has been under pressure as a result of collapsing demand due to the coronavirus crisis, and Saudi Arabia’s determination to win market share from American and Russian producers.

During an OPEC meeting in Vienna last month, the Kingdom offered to implement further cuts in oil production but Russia refused to participate.

“Saudi Arabia would like to underscore its efforts during the past period to restore balance in the oil market, as it drew support for that from 22 counties of the OPEC+, but it was not possible to reach an agreement or get consensus,” according to the official Saudi statement.

Oil industry expert Daniel Yergin said: “This represents a recognition of how much the world has changed for oil in a single month as demand falls away so dramatically, and the impact of Donald Trump becoming personally engaged.”

In a message posted on Twitter after the Saudi announcement, Trump wrote: “I just spoke to my friend Mohammed bin Salman, crown prince of Saudi Arabia, who spoke with President Putin and I expect and hope that they will be cutting back approximately 10m barrels, and maybe substantially more, which will be great for the oil and gas industry.”

However, officials in Riyadh downplayed any suggestion of a commitment to specific reductions in the levels of oil output. There is no indication yet of when the “urgent” meeting of OPEC and others might happen, nor what will be on the agenda, they said.

President Vladimir Putin denied that he had spoken to the crown prince about the price of oil. Novosti, the official Russian news agency, said there was no such conversation, but added that the president had discussed falling oil prices with other OPEC members and with the US.

“The Americans are worried because of their profitability for shale oil production,” said Putin. “This is also a difficult test for the American economy.”

This week, Saudi Arabia produced more oil in a single day than at any time in its history, with 12 million barrels flowing from pumps at Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company.


Saudi doctor on the front line battle against coronavirus in Italy

April 03, 2020

On Jan. 31, the Italian government announced a state of emergency to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). COVID-19 has brought Italy into “its worst crisis since the war,” according to the Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte. To date there have been 110,574 confirmed cases resulting in 13,915 deaths, which have included an increasing number of doctors and health professionals who are carrying out heroic work in challenging conditions.

Among the healthcare workers in the front-line against COVID-19 here is Dr. Nasser Alabdulaaly, a 27-year-old Saudi doctor who is on the staff of the ASST Hospital of Lodi, in Lombardy, Italy’s hardest-hit region. Alabdulaaly, who speaks fluent Italian, described his experience.

“I arrived in Italy in 2011 to study medicine at the University of Pavia, in Lombardy, thanks to a scholarship from the Saudi government. I obtained my medical degree and professional qualification in 2019. I was about to undertake a post-graduate training at the beginning of this year, when the coronavirus broke out in Italy, right in the area where I was living,” says Alabdulaaly.

“When the Saudi authorities offered me the opportunity to return to Saudi Arabia, I chose to stay in Italy. My degree doesn’t qualify me to work yet in the Kingdom; therefore, I could not have offered any contribution to my country.”

“In the meantime, Lombardy region was declared red-zone and in lockdown, the number of positive cases continued to rise, and there was a need for health workers to face the crisis. My hospital internship had been suspended due to the emergency and I was at home for the quarantine. In my silent lockdown city, I was hearing the sirens of the ambulances leaving the hospital relentlessly. It was heartbreaking. I couldn’t stay at home knowing that I could make my contribution, even if small, to the local health service.”

With hospitals under extraordinary strain, Italy increased the number of doctors being recruited and also expedited the procedure for medical school graduates entering the workforce. Many Italian regions made appeals for health workers, and Nasser decided to take up the Lombardy region’s call. The region’s response was not long in coming.

“They were extremely happy to receive my application,” says Nasser. “They offered me work in four different cities: Cremona, Brescia, Bergamo or Lodi. I choose Lodi, even though I knew that, at that time, was the center of COVID-19.”

“I currently work with basic to medium intensity COVID19-positive patients in three different departments. On my first day at the hospital, I was impressed by the enormous workload of the doctors. They were giving their maximum professional and human commitment with courage and perseverance. My colleagues immediately welcomed me into the team, and we soon became a family.

“Working exclusively with COVID-19 positive patients, and specially with critical cases, means that you have to deal with death every day. I have to call their families and break the bad news. Believe me, it’s the toughest side of my mission. Relatives ask you, sometimes beg you, to allow them to see their beloved ones to give them a last farewell. But you can’t allow them. The priority is to protect them from the virus and contain the spread of the contagions.”

“Performing my first professional job in a time when the health industry is facing one of its biggest crises, is challenging and though. But I am proud and honored to give my help in this emergency, and to be in the front-line as part of a team of extraordinary doctors.”


Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Donald Trump discuss energy markets in telephone call

April 02, 2020

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and US President Donald Trump discussed the conditions of energy markets around the world during a telephone call on Thursday, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.


Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Makes Telephone Call to Crown Prince of Britain


Riyadh, April 02, 2020, SPA -- The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud made today a telephone call to Crown Prince of Britain and Prince of Wales Prince Charles who has recently recovered from the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

During the phone conversation, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques was reassured of the health of Prince Charles following the end of his self-quarantine.

The two sides affirmed relations of friendship between Saudi Arabia and Britain.

For his part, Prince Charles thanked the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for his noble feelings, lauding the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's help in transporting tourists and pilgrims who were present in Saudi Arabia to Britain before the recent flights' suspension.

The Crown Prince of Britain hailed Saudi Arabia's efforts in reducing negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world as the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques' chairs the G20 Summit.



Syria seals major shrine for Shia pilgrims to stem virus

April 2, 2020

Syrian authorities on Thursday sealed a major Shia shrine that is a magnet for tens of thousands of Iranian pilgrims whom medics and the UN officials warned their congregation puts the country at risk of a major spread of coronavirus, Reuters reports.

The move comes as the war-ravaged country steps up a lockdown to stem a major outbreak with a fragile health system and porous land borders with neighboring Iraq and air flights with Tehran that still brought until recently thousands of pilgrims.

Interior Minister Mohamad Rahmoun told state media the decision was taken to seal the crowded area to stem any possible outbreak.

State media had earlier said that medics had quarantined a building in the heavily garrisoned Sayeda Zainab neighbourhood for suspected cases of the virus.

UN officials have warned that religious pilgrims and clerics who regularly cross Iran’s frontiers to Iraq and then Syria where often border controls are weak put the country at high risk of a major outbreak.

Syria said it has halted commercial flights at its airport and closed most its border crossings but Shia pilgrims mainly from Iran have continued to arrive in Syria by land in recent days to visit the shrine in Damascus, witnesses say.

Syria says it has a total of sixteen publicly cases and two deaths and UN officials have warned the country was ill-prepared for an outbreak and that the confirmed cases could just be the “tip of the iceberg.”

Only last week Damascus announced its first officially reported case after weeks of denying claims of a cover-up by medical sources and witnesses who said there are many more.

The government has extended a curfew and restricted movements between governates and took unprecedented steps to end conscription and call up of reserves to stem the pandemic within the ranks of the army. Most businesses have been shut.

The Damascus suburb also houses the main headquarters of the Iranian-backed militias who have a strong presence across the country and are also suspected of being a source of the contagion in Syria, according to medics and residents.

The shrine is a magnet for thousands of Shia militia recruits who go there before being assigned to front lines, where they fight against the Sunni rebel groups opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s rule.

Iraqi health officials confirmed earlier this week that returning Shia pilgrims from Syria have tested positive for the coronavirus, saying they were a major reason for spread of the disease.


Christian and Muslim services being broadcast on local radio

19 hours ago

Qari Asim MBE, a senior imam in Leeds, will lead reflections on 14 stations at 5-50am. This will become a weekly spot, led by a different Muslim imam each week.

Chris Burns, head of BBC Local Radio, said: “Many Muslims will feel a void in their lives where prayers used to be - a feeling that will be magnified as we approach Ramadan.

“Local radio is all about connecting communities and we hope these weekly reflections will go some way to helping Muslims feel a sense of community while they are isolating."


Muslim prayers to be broadcast on BBC local radio

By Michael Davies

2nd April 2020

BBC radio station Coventry and Warwickshire is to start broadcasting a weekly Muslim prayer slot from tomorrow (Friday).

Muslims, like other religious faiths, are unable to gather for prayers or services because of the coronavirus crisis. But at 5.50am tomorrow, there will be a “reflection” slot, which will also be made available on BBC Sounds afterwards.

The first reflection will be led by Qari Asim, a senior imam from Leeds, with different imams taking the lead across subsequent weeks.

Chris Burns, head of BBC Local Radio, said: “Many Muslims will feel a void in their lives where prayers used to be – a feeling that will be magnified as we approach Ramadan.

“Local radio is all about connecting communities and we hope these weekly reflections will go some way to helping Muslims feel a sense of community while they are isolating.”


Rethinking Europe’s Early Modern Islamic Legacy


This, to some extent, is the idea behind some of the more common social and political reactions to Muslim immigration – and in particular the challenge posed by the arrival of refugees – and behind the debate on their impact on fundamental European values.

However, this view is not shared by many of the researchers studying the relations between different religions and cultures in Europe, whose analysis reveals, by contrast, that for centuries, the situation was far more nuanced and complex, and not governed by confrontational parameters alone.

In the last thirty years, studies on the historical interrelationships between Christianity and Islam in Europe have undergone exponential growth. As a result, today we are better acquainted with the cultural and trade networks, and with the land and sea routes by means of which a significant series of people, knowledge and objects reached the Old Continent from the Islamic shores of the Mediterranean and the Balkans.

Research on these issues has proliferated across diverse geographical areas – the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Central Europe and the Balkans, and islands of the Mediterranean – but it has done so in an isolated fashion, with the focus on local history rather than on the broader geographical perspective. In this respect, the academic distance between Central/Eastern Europe and the Iberian Peninsula, for instance, is particularly marked.

This lack of a global interpretation is particularly relevant because it has hampered recognition of the truly European nature of Islam’s presence on the continent, which in turn has helped to fuel certain preconceptions in present-day society regarding the historical relationship between Islam and Christianity.

Aware of the importance of reversing this situation, and bearing in mind the cultural and political crossroads Europe is currently traversing, a group of more than 150 researchers from 38 European and Mediterranean countries are taking part in a Cost Action, entitled Islamic Legacy. Narratives East, West, South and North of the Mediterranean (1350-1750).

This project is based on a series of research topics linking the historical past in different regions of Europe, with a view to reconsidering and taking a new approach to pre-Modern societies.

In contrast to the more usual generalisation whereby the political and cultural relations between East and West are perceived in terms of alterity, real historical research demonstrates that the shaping of such opposition over the centuries was not in fact always so clear cut.

Certain historiographical tendencies have sought to depict Christian and Muslim societies as antagonistic, and as two opposing models of life and thought that existed in a continuous state of conflict. Texts and images have often been analysed in a biased manner or out of context, considering only one side of the picture, namely that of supposedly dominant Western culture.

Today’s society, for instance, has partially taken on board stereotypes arising from the pens and brushes of writers and artists of the medieval and modern worlds. These portrayed Muslims as dark-skinned, turban-wearing individuals whose wicked actions contrasted with the moral rectitude of inevitably white-skinned Christians, resulting in a form of pre-racism. These notions, accepted for years and questioned in only a very superficial manner at certain points in history, need to be reviewed in the light of critical research into the sources containing Islamic images and text.

Many of the approaches that insist on the antagonism between Islam and Christianity, as if they were two separate societies, are based on an understanding of the Mare Nostrum more as a barrier between Europe and North Africa than as a space of exchange.

Fortunately, this tendency has been changing in recent years. Biographies of captives, Conversos and slaves, in addition to the study of trade in textiles, books and other objects of art or everyday artefacts, reveal the intensity of the contacts that took place between the shores of the Mediterranean, with thousands of people, objects and ideas circulating at any given time.

When considering Islam in Europe, the very concept of border needs to be reviewed. Maps define lines that separate territories according to political, cultural and religious distinctions that do not always correspond to reality, and which changed over the centuries. We therefore need to take a fresh look at the concept of geographical boundaries as a representation created to establish distance, but which in fact operated dynamically, as a permeable space of contact.

In recent years, European museums are adopting a new approach to the way in which they organise their Islamic art collections and present them to the public. Examples include the British Museum, the Gulbenkian in Lisbon, the Museo Arqueológico Nacional in Madrid, the Louvre, the Museum für Islamische Kunst in Berlin and the Benaki in Athens, to name a few.

In some cases, visitors, for instance, have encountered new narratives which seek to transmit the interrelationships between diverse cultures and religions more appropriately.

This renewal has also reached traditional artistic categories such as “Christian art” and “Islamic art”, which are no longer understood as two alternatives or clearly differentiated styles, each arising out of its own tradition, but instead as living, changing entities, each drawing on the other. Hence, academic debate is now turning to analysis of the interaction between East and West, and to showing the history of contact rather than only that of confrontation.

The development of projects like the Cost Action mentioned above seeks to create an academic critical mass on a European scale to build bridges between essential research and cultural institutions. It aims to encourage European society to reflect more consciously on the phenomenon of Islam’s presence in Europe, as part of the shared history of our continent.



‘Police using delaying tactics to end cases against imams’

April 3, 2020

Karachi-based religious scholars in a meeting on Thursday reiterated their support to the Sindh government’s decision to limit number of worshippers at the Friday prayers in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus. However, they also expressed concerns on what they described as harassment and a negative propaganda against members of the Tablighi Jamaat.

The meeting was held at the Jamia Farooqia. It was presided over by Dr Maulana Adil Khan and attended by religious scholars, including Qari Muhammad Usman, Maulana Muhamamd Tayyab, Dr Qasim Mehsmood, Dr Allah Dad, Maulana Ejaz Mustafa, Maulana Gul Muhamamd Taloni and Qazi Fakharul Hasan.

The meeting participants discussed the situation that emerged because of the spread of coronavirus and the lockdown, and the government's efforts to counter it. They expressed concerns over “the delaying tactics being used to withdraw the cases registered against imams” for violating the government's restriction for Friday congregations on March 27.

“Despite Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah’s directives to withdraw the cases against all clerics unconditionally, police have been delaying the process and asking them to submit affidavits and apology letters,” said the statement issued jointly by them.

They said Karachi’s religious leaders had not only announced support to the government's efforts to limit the coronavirus spread but also educating the people about the precautionary methods. “But the administration's attitude has been giving a wrong impression that there is a clash between the Sindh government and religious circles.”

They also shown concerns over “harassment and a negative propaganda against the members of the Tablighi Jamaat” in various parts of Sindh and Punjab. They said no unjust attitude with the missionary movement would be tolerated.

The religious scholars also offered condolence prayers for Chairman, Printer, Publisher of the Jang Group, Mir Javed Rahman, who passed away on Tuesday.

After the meeting, a delegation of the religious scholars headed by Qari Muhammad Usman met with Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon and “complained about the police officers’ harsh behaviours with the imams”.


Islamic banks’ financing growth to fall below 5pc in Pakistan: RAM

April 3, 2020

KARACHI RAM Ratings expects financing growth of Islamic banks to decline to below 5% in fiscal 2020, from 8.3% in 2019 due to the fallout from the Covid19 pandemic. Sophia Lee, RAM Ratings’ co-head of financial institution ratings said on Monday the decline tooked into account its expectation of a steep moderation of economic growth. RAM said the rapid spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and its far-reaching effects on the domestic and global economy, are anticipated to dampen credit demand and affect the performance of Islamic banks this year. The rating agency maintained a stable outlook on the Malaysian Islamic banking sector due to the industry’s sturdy fundamentals, although it cautioned that Islamic banks will face heightened uncertainties and challenges in the stillevolving economic landscape.


Govt to start flights for stranded Pakistanis

April 03, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan would start a week-long repatriation flight programme from Saturday for bringing back its nationals stranded overseas because of disruption of flights and tightening of travel restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under the plan approved by the National Coordination Committee on the Covid-19 pandemic, phased repatriation would be carried out under which priority would be given to those held up in transit, followed by those, whose visas were expiring. Pakistanis working or studying overseas would be third on the priority list, Mr Qureshi said.

All returning passengers, he said, would be subject to coronavirus testing at the airports for which the testing and quarantine capacity was being augmented.

Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui, meanwhile speaking at the weekly media briefing, said the national flag carrier had operated special flights to bring back stranded Pakis¬tanis from Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Qatar and Thailand.

“Plans for repatriation from Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur, Tashkent, Baku, Baghdad, London and Toronto have been finalised, while plans for repatriation of our nationals from other destinations is also under active consideration. As this is a dynamic and evolving situation, these plans will be reviewed regularly,” she maintained.

The spokesperson said Pakistan’s diplomatic missions overseas had been told to assist the nationals abroad by providing food, medicines, and accommodation and facilitating extension of visas, in case of expiry of short-term visas.

Responding to a query about the return of Chinese workers to Pakistan, who got held up in China during vacations because of coronavirus outbreak there, she said the Chinese government was following a “double-quarantine” policy for the officials of Chinese companies working on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects in Pakistan.

“Those officials travelling to Pakistan spend 14 days in quarantine in China before travelling to Pakistan and after reaching Pakistan, they remain in quarantine for 14 more days. Established medical procedures are also followed during the process,” she said. Replying to another question, she said Pakistan government was hopeful that CPEC projects would remain unaffected by the delays caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.


 101 preachers among 141 more Covid-19 patients in Lahore

April 03, 2020

LAHORE: A woman died of coronavirus in the provincial capital which also witnessed a sharp spike in cases after 101 more members at Tableeghi Jamaat Headquarters at Raiwind City tested positive for the virus besides 40 citizens in other parts of the city during the last 24 hours.

This surge has perturbed the health authorities who were already using all possible options to address the new situation. A major initiative was lockdown of the Raiwind city which houses over 0.2 million people.

There were 1,218 members of the Tableeghi Jamaat at the Raiwind Markaz from where the Punjab government had shifted many to Kala Shah Kaku and other parts of the province as a strategy to avoid epidemic. Still the centre has nearly 900 members of the religious group who have been quarantined to stop spread of the disease.

According to the daily situation report, new death of Covid-19 patient was reported in Mayo Hospital where a young woman succumbed to the virus. She was a case of local transmission of the virus and was admitted to the hospital on March 30.

Meanwhile, Punjab reported that 166 new patients tested positive for the virus all over the province during the last 24 hours, a highest figure recorded so far since the emergence of the disease. Most cases were reported from Lahore besides 24 from Gujrat and seven from Rawalpindi. The number of patients tested positive for the virus in Lahore reached 199 besides 143 at Tableeghi Jamaat Markaz at Raiwind.

Similarly, the confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached 90 in Gujrat besides 213 pilgrims who arrived from Iran in DG Khan and 91 pilgrims in Multan.

Screening: The Punjab government has claimed that screening of all participants in Tableeghi Ijtimaas (congregations) has been completed as they had been identified and quarantined at various locations across the province.

“The samples of all the identified participants [in Tableeghi congregations] have been collected and the respective divisional commissioners are expected to share the lab results with the Punjab government by Friday (today),”a source in the Punjab government told Dawn.

After segregating the Covid-19 positive and negative participants, the source said, Punjab government would consult other provinces as well as the federal government whether the positive ones should be quarantined within Punjab or transported to their respective provinces.

He said federal government would also be consulted about quarantine plan regarding the foreigners, including those belonging to Iraq, Greece, Sudan, Nigeria etc, among the congregations’ participants, the source said.

Meanwhile, at a meeting chaired by law minister Basharat Raja, it was decided that lists would be prepared of all the participants from other provinces and countries.

The meeting called to review coronavirus situation and administrative affairs of the province was attended by Chief Secretary Azam Suleman Khan, police Inspector General Shoaib Dastgir, Lahore Commissioner Saif Anjum and other officers concerned.

After the meeting was briefed that screening of all those who participated in Tableeghi congregation had almost been completed, the chief secretary directed all commissioners to submit their lists.

As the meeting discussed that because of “overemphasis” on coronavirus patients and quarantine arrangements, other patients might be neglected, it was decided that all hospitals’ should make their OPDs functional for treatment of diseases other than Covid-19.

The chief secretary said the decision to allow opening of milk shops till 8pm was taken to facilitate people in buying milk as well as prevent financial loss to shopkeepers.


Restrictions enhanced on entry into Islamabad

April 03, 2020

Munawer Azeem

ISLAMABAD: Restrictions on entry into the capital have been enhanced to limit the movement of non-residents owing to the coronavirus outbreak.

With the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases rising to 64 on Thursday after six more people tested positive, the duration of the partial lockdown in the capital has also been increased by 10 to 14 days.

Capital administration and police officials said that all points of entry into Islamabad were partially sealed on Thursday after people were found to be moving around without a genuine reason. Security forces and police have been stationed at Faizabad, Islamabad Chowk, Bhara Kahu and Rawat to prevent intercity public movement.

There are four main points of entry in the Industrial Area Zone, two in the Rural Zone and one each in the City and Sadar zones, all of which have been partially sealed.

Security personnel posted at various points to limit movement of non-residents; confirmed Covid-19 cases rise to 64 in capital

People exempt from the restrictions include healthcare staff, security and law enforcement, government officials, rescue workers and journalists. People facing emergency situations, including those requiring medical attention, are also permitted movement.

Arrangements have been made for people to have grocery and green grocery items delivered to their doors, keeping in view their safety due to the outbreak, the officials said.

They added that the majority of Islamabad residents appear to be taking the issue casually despite restrictions on social gatherings and unnecessary movement, and a number of people have been seen visiting parks and marketplaces with their families. They said doing so risks people’s lives and the lives of their families.

Efforts are ongoing to mount surveillance in parks and markets to restrict movement, but there is a shortage of manpower, they said, adding that it is being considered whether to seek assistance from volunteers in this regard.

Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Hamza Shafqaat told Dawn that six more cases of Covid-19 were reported on Thursday, all from Bhara Kahu.

The patients’ relatives are also being tested. They have been asked to self-isolate while their reports are awaited, he said, while their immediate contacts are being traced for screening and testing as well.

Mr Shafqaat said the situation in Bhara Kahu is alarming, and health departments are screening and testing people in the area.

He said that so far no new cases have been reported from Shahzad Town, where eight Covid-19 were previously reported. Health departments are still screening and testing residents, and reports regarding locals are being received regularly.

Mr Shafqaat said that restrictions are being intensified at all the entry points of the capital because significant public movement has been observed.

He added that the partial lockdown in Islamabad may be extended for 10 to 14 days under decisions made by the government, and a notification in this regard will be issued on April 5 or 6.

He said that people are advised to stay at home and to offer their prayers there, as people may infect one another at social gatherings and during visits to parks or markets.

Administration and police officials told Dawn that they have visited their local mosques and imambargahs and asked them to follow the government’s directives regarding daily and Friday prayer congregations.

Khateebs and imams have been asked to make announcements at noon on Friday telling people to offer their Zuhr prayers at home and not to visit the mosque or Imambargahs for Friday prayers.

Administration officials also met with religious leaders, including those from the Jamiat Ulemia-i-Islam and Ahle Tahsi school of thought and urged them to follow the directives.

They said that the 10pc of khateebs and imams who have initially disagreed with the directives were successfully persuaded to follow them.

They hoped that the directives would be followed in all of the capital’s more than 900 mosques and 300 imambargahs, adding that this time strict action would be taken against violators.

The police have arrested 52 more people for violating bans on various activities imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including riding pillion and holding social gatherings.

A written advisory has been distributed among residents by local police stations that states that since prayer congregations may spread Covid-19, only the mosque management, khateeb and muezzin can pray inside a mosque, while maintaining a distance of six feet, wearing masks and gloves and using hand sanitiser.

Mosque managements have been asked to close the doors of their places of worship when it is time for Friday prayers, to make announcements for mosques urging people to pray at home and to hang instructions to their effect at their gates.

It adds that section 144 has been imposed and people are advised to restrict movement and stay home; if they need to leave their homes, they should maintain a six feet distance, avoid gatherings, wear gloves and mask and carry CNICs.


Sindh announces three-hour complete lockdown for Friday

April 03, 2020

Ikram JunaidiU

ISLAMABAD: With the situation in Pakistan continuously worsening, the government has sought innovative ideas from organisations, experts and individuals to combat the deadly Covid-19 disease.

As many as 21 organisations, including United Nations agencies, have been involved in analysing suggestions and implementing them as there will be financial impl¬ications of enforcing such ideas.

Meanwhile, the Sindh government has announced that there will be complete lockdown from 12 noon to 3pm on Friday, advising people not to come out of their houses for Juma prayers. In a statement issued on Thursday, Sindh Local Government Minister Nasir Shah said the “painful” decision about the ban on Friday prayers was taken with a heavy heart. “The mosques, however, will remain open where only three to five persons can perform Juma prayers,” he added.

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said a new initiative had been launched by the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) and the National Incubation Centre (NIC) to get innovative ideas to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As many as 21 organisations, including UN agencies, have been involved in the initiative. Organisations, experts and individuals should share written ideas as to how people can get authentic information about Covid-19 and get rid of wrong information, how supply chain of personal protective equipment can be improved and how hygiene conditions can be improved,” he added.

Dr Mirza said ideas should also be given on how people could be protected from the deadly virus, how rush in hospitals could be reduced, how patients should be quarantined and how people could work from home.

“Since it involves funding, guidance, support and fellows, we will facilitate to implement the ideas. Ideas should be given at ‘’ by April 12. Ideas will be analysed on April 13 and 14 and information will be shared on the website on April 15. Mentors will contact the movers of the ideas to further refine them from April 17 to 19. On April 22, the ideas will be finalised,” he added.

Dr Mirza said that funding and support such as officers, technology, etc, would be provided by the government and the ideas finalised would be implemented at the national level.

Meanwhile, some more areas have been disinfected and sealed in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Shahzad Town and Bhara Kahu areas of Islamabad, which had been sealed after emergence of some cases of coronavirus, were disinfected on Thursday.

Similarly, an area from Banni Chowk to Jamia Masjid in Rawalpindi was sealed after a Covid-19 case was reported from there.

Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqat said that the assistant commissioners had after visiting areas of the federal capital filed a report that there were a few buyers in the market as people had stocked up on wheat flour after rumors that it would not be available.


 14 more test positive at Tableeghi Jamaat headquarters

April 02, 2020

LAHORE: The number of confirmed coronavirus patients at the Raiwind Tableeghi Markaz rose to 41 on Wednesday, after 14 more preachers tested positive, whereas 15 positive cases were reported in other parts of the provincial capital during the last 24 hours.

According to the daily situation report on coronavirus released by the Punjab health authorities, an elderly virus patient died at the Benazir Bhutto Hospital, Rawalpindi. The 83-year-old victim had arrived from England recently.

So far total 10 patients have succumbed to the virus in Punjab, including four each in Lahore and Rawalpindi and one each in Faisalabad and Rahim Yar Khan.

Meanwhile, 64 more people were confirmed as Covid-19 patients across the province, taking the total number to 748, including 178 in Lahore.

After Lahore, Gujrat has become a flashpoint for coronavirus as 24 new patients tested positive for the virus in the district during the last 24 hours, taking the tally of confirmed cases surfacing there to 86.

A senior official said the Raiwind Tableeghi Markez was presently housing approximately 600 preachers. The health teams have so far sent samples of around 110 of them for lab analysis, he said, adding the reports later confirmed 41 preachers as Covid-19 patients.

To a question, he said, the health teams, with the support of police, carried out random tests of over 100 residents of Raiwind City which had been locked down on Tuesday to prevent outbreak of the disease. He said their reports were awaited to know the extent of the disease’s impact on the locals.

So far, DG Khan has reported 207 confirmed cases, Multan 91, Rawalpindi 46, Jehlum 28, Gujranwala 12, Gujrat 86, Sargodha seven, while Faisalabad has nine Covid-19 patients.

A spokesperson for the health department said tests of total 16,061 suspected and confirmed patients had been carried out so far in Punjab. The tests were conducted at the National Institute of Health (NIHS) Islamabad, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, Lahore, Nishtar Hospital, Multan, Chughati Lab and the health department lab on Jail Road, Lahore.

Meanwhile, the city administration says as many as 900 residents of Raiwind tehsil have been quarantined at various centres for being Covid-19 suspects.

It claims the teams led by Raiwind tehsil officers have started distributing food and ration among the residents affected by complete lockdown in the area.

“As many as 900 people have been sent to quarantine centres. Minimum 10-day ration has also been distributed among 1,000 families in Raiwind where a complete lockdown is being observed strictly,” Lahore DC Danish Afzaal told a press release on Wednesday.

The DC said the Rawind’s exit and entry points were being monitored strictly, as the mobility of people within or outside the town had completely been restricted through deployment of police and personnel of security agencies.LAHORE: The number of confirmed coronavirus patients at the Raiwind Tableeghi Markaz rose to 41 on Wednesday, after 14 more preachers tested positive, whereas 15 positive cases were reported in other parts of the provincial capital during the last 24 hours.

According to the daily situation report on coronavirus released by the Punjab health authorities, an elderly virus patient died at the Benazir Bhutto Hospital, Rawalpindi. The 83-year-old victim had arrived from England recently.

So far total 10 patients have succumbed to the virus in Punjab, including four each in Lahore and Rawalpindi and one each in Faisalabad and Rahim Yar Khan.

Meanwhile, 64 more people were confirmed as Covid-19 patients across the province, taking the total number to 748, including 178 in Lahore.

After Lahore, Gujrat has become a flashpoint for coronavirus as 24 new patients tested positive for the virus in the district during the last 24 hours, taking the tally of confirmed cases surfacing there to 86.

A senior official said the Raiwind Tableeghi Markez was presently housing approximately 600 preachers. The health teams have so far sent samples of around 110 of them for lab analysis, he said, adding the reports later confirmed 41 preachers as Covid-19 patients.

To a question, he said, the health teams, with the support of police, carried out random tests of over 100 residents of Raiwind City which had been locked down on Tuesday to prevent outbreak of the disease. He said their reports were awaited to know the extent of the disease’s impact on the locals.

So far, DG Khan has reported 207 confirmed cases, Multan 91, Rawalpindi 46, Jehlum 28, Gujranwala 12, Gujrat 86, Sargodha seven, while Faisalabad has nine Covid-19 patients.

A spokesperson for the health department said tests of total 16,061 suspected and confirmed patients had been carried out so far in Punjab. The tests were conducted at the National Institute of Health (NIHS) Islamabad, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, Lahore, Nishtar Hospital, Multan, Chughati Lab and the health department lab on Jail Road, Lahore.

Meanwhile, the city administration says as many as 900 residents of Raiwind tehsil have been quarantined at various centres for being Covid-19 suspects.

It claims the teams led by Raiwind tehsil officers have started distributing food and ration among the residents affected by complete lockdown in the area.

“As many as 900 people have been sent to quarantine centres. Minimum 10-day ration has also been distributed among 1,000 families in Raiwind where a complete lockdown is being observed strictly,” Lahore DC Danish Afzaal told a press release on Wednesday.

The DC said the Rawind’s exit and entry points were being monitored strictly, as the mobility of people within or outside the town had completely been restricted through deployment of police and personnel of security agencies.


Southeast Asia 

Malaysia's indigenous people flee into forests to escape coronavirus

April 3, 2020

After blocking the entrance to their village with logs, half the people of Jemeri fled into the surrounding forest in fear as the coronavirus spread in Malaysia, infecting the first indigenous 'Orang Asli' person.

"We are going back into the forest, to isolate ourselves and find food for ourselves," villager and activist Bedul Chemai told Reuters by phone from Jemeri, in Malaysia's Pahang State.

'Orang Asli', original people, are among the poorest and most vulnerable in Malaysia which has the highest number of infections reported in Southeast Asia.

A three-year-old boy from a village just outside Cameron Highlands, a popular tourist spot, tested positive for the virus, the director-general of the Department of Orang Asli Development Juli Edo told Reuters.

The village has been put under lockdown, along with another where an infection is suspected. It was unclear how the boy had become infected, Juli said.

As Malaysia enforced strict movement curbs this month to try to stop the spread of a virus that has infected more than 3,000 people locally and killed 50, the Orang Asli said they had been especially hard hit.

Many are struggling to find food after their small income from daily sales of vegetable, fruits and rubber have been cut off, while some are fearful of going into towns to buy food because of concerns of catching the virus.

The Orang Asli are vulnerable to disease because of factors that include poverty and malnutrition. Their reported poverty rate of over 30% compares to the Malaysian average of 0.4%.

Last year, one indigenous village in the northeast of peninsular Malaysia saw 15 deaths and dozens falling sick from measles.

Shaq Koyok, an activist from the Temuan tribe, said people from his village, about 60 km (40 miles) from the capital Kuala Lumpur, had blockaded themselves in.

Indigenous populations around the world, in Australia, Canada and Brazil, have closed their borders to protect communities, as the coronavirus, which has infected more than a million people and killed some 52,000 globally, continues to spread.

Over decades, the Orang Asli say they have seen encroachment of their customary land, with palm oil and timber companies clearing forests.

"In some of these villages, they can't even go out to the forests to forage for food," said Ili Nadiah Dzulfakar of Klima Action Malaysia, part of a collective that is raising money for Orang Asli communities.

One group that has been trying to raise funds for the Orang Asli said it had so many requests from them for help that it trebled its original fundraising target.

But government efforts to get food to some 50,000 Orang Asli families had been held up by the groups' own efforts to seal themselves off


House, govt to deliberate problematic bills despite COVID-19 pandemic, protests

April 3, 2020

The House of Representatives has its eyes set on deliberating three problematic bills, namely the omnibus bill on job creation and revisions to the Criminal Code (KUHP) and 1995 Correctional Center Law, as the country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and despite persistent public protests against the bills.

House Deputy Speaker Azis Syamsuddin announced in a plenary session on Thursday that all House factions and commissions had agreed during a consultation meeting a day before to deliberate the three bills.

"Lawmakers have discussed and approved them in the plenary agenda,” the Golkar Party politician said, adding that 31 lawmakers attended the meeting at the House compound , while 278 joined the meeting virtually.

Azis explained that the House’s Legislation Body (Baleg) would handle deliberations for the omnibus bill while House Commission III overseeing legal affairs would discuss the KUHP and Correctional Center Law draft revisions.

Despite the approval to continue deliberations, some lawmakers expressed their objections, stating that the House and its executive partner should instead focus on the handling of  the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The House and the government should focus on the management of COVID-19. We should postpone the other agenda items. It's not right. People are facing a difficult situation due to the pandemic. Many of them are struggling to eat, but we, out of the blue, are discussing the omnibus bill and the other bills,” Benny K. Harman of the Democratic Party said.

House Speaker Puan Maharani, who attended the meeting virtually did not say anything related to the deliberation of the problematic bills.

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) executive and daughter of the party’s chairwoman and former president, Megawati Sukarnoputri, previously appeared reluctant to deliberate the omnibus bill on job creation. She had cited that the House should be careful in discussing it amid growing public objections against the bill.

Students, workers, activists and experts had taken to the streets to protest the government and House’s plan to endorse it, claiming that it would harm the nation’s democracy, environment and interests of workers. They had initially geared up for street rallies in March to protest the articles in the bill, which was cancelled due to restrictions on mass gatherings during the pandemic.

Critics have also slammed the legislative agenda, saying that lawmakers used the pandemic to diminish public participation in the deliberation of the problematic bills.

Activists and members of the public have also been persistent in protesting revisions to the KUHP and Correctional Center Law, deeming them as threats to democracy and civil rights.

In September 2019, tens of thousands of university students and citizens also took to the streets to oppose the deliberation of the two bills, which prompted the government and the House to postpone deliberations. 

Activists from the National Alliance for the Reform of the KUHP said the government and the House should not use the pandemic as an opportunity to discuss the problematic bills.

The alliance noted that the final draft of the KUHP bill included many controversial articles that would over-criminalize people, including articles to restore a ban on insulting the President that had been repealed by the Constitutional Court. The draft also included stipulations on morality that criminalize, among other things, consensual sex between unmarried people, cohabitation and the promotion of contraception.

"If the government and the House still insist on doing this, it would actually worsen the COVID-19 pandemic. We called on the deliberations to be immediately postponed until the situation returns to normal,” the activists said in a written statement on Thursday.

The National Welfare Movement (Gekanas) labor union called on the House to stop the deliberation of the omnibus bill, saying that it would hold a massive protest if the request was ignored.

Charles Simabura,  a researcher at Andalas University's Center for Constitutional Studies, called on President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to withdraw the presidential letter that gave a green light for the deliberations, saying that the government should focus its energy on COVID-19 and the wide impacts that it brought.

"If this continues, it is clear that the government and the House are using the pandemic as an opportunity to pass the problematic bills,” he said.


Gender divide: Peru, Panama limit men and women to alternate days out to stall virus

April 3, 2020

Peru and Panama both started on Thursday limiting the times men and women can leave their homes in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Amid a strict quarantine in Peru, President Martin Vizcarra said on Thursday that men and women will only be allowed to leave their homes on designated days divided by gender. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only men will be able to leave their homes to stock up. Women can go out on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Nobody will be allowed to leave home on Sunday.

"We have to get fewer people to be on the streets every day," Vizcarra said in a virtual news conference with his cabinet of ministers and experts.

Vizcarra said it was easier for security forces to monitor the circulation of men and women to enforce the quarantine order, rather than using serial numbers of identity documents to divide up days, which some other countries have done.

He said the new measure, which will be in place until April 12, would not impact people who have an emergency or are authorized to work during the quarantine, such as those in essential food production, pharmacies and banks.

Peru has imposed tough measures to control the spread of coronavirus, although there have been a significant number of arrests for people breaking the quarantine. The country has recorded 1,414 confirmed cases with 55 deaths.

"We have 10 days left. Let's make this additional effort to get into this curve and we can have control of the evolution of this disease," Vizcarra said.

Panama's Security Minister Juan Pino had said a day earlier at a virtual press conference the government would tighten measures further, and that women and men would be able to leave the house only during predetermined hours.

"With an absolute quarantine, men and women will have a schedule to transit," Pino said. "The decision is part of an operational strategy that seeks to reduce the spread of COVID-19."

Panama has reported 1,317 coronavirus cases and 32 deaths. Pino also reiterated warnings that the health system could be overwhelmed if the number of people requiring intensive care rises substantially.


COVID-19: 'Mudik' risks mass contagion across Java

April 3, 2020

For West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil, the consequences of letting people go to their hometowns during a pandemic are real. The governor posted on his Facebook wall on Thursday a news story about a 72-year-old stroke patient from Ciamis who tested positive for COVID-19 after having contact with his child from virus-stricken Jakarta.

“This story is one of many cases of parents in West Java who are COVID-19 positive after being visited by their children or relatives, who are unaware that they are carrying the virus to their hometowns,” he said. “Restrain yourselves and love your parents. Don’t go home now,” he pleaded.

The post is just another sign of growing apprehension among regional leaders over a possible explosion of coronavirus cases in their respective areas as millions of people from Greater Jakarta — largely deprived of their livelihood due to large-scale physical distancing policies — are set to travel to their hometowns for Idul Fitri early.

The central government still lacks a clear strategy on preventing that. Just hours before Ridwan made his plea, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced that he would not officially ban people from traveling for the Idul Fitri holidays, ignoring warnings from public health experts that the consequences of failing to prevent people from leaving Jakarta, the epicenter of the outbreak in the country, could be dire.

Annually, some 20 million people from Greater Jakarta travel to their hometowns to celebrate Idul Fitri in a tradition called mudik (exodus). The tradition, public health experts say, could lead to massive COVID-19 contagion on Java, an island of 141 million people, where many regions have far worse healthcare systems than Jakarta.

“[The President] underlines that there is no official ban on people going on the mudik during the 2020 Idul Fitri holiday period. The travelers, however, must self-isolate for 14 days, will be given ‘people under observation’ [ODP] status, as per the World Health Organization health protocol, and will be monitored by the respective local administration,” presidential spokesman Fadjroel Rachman said in a statement on Thursday, shortly after a speech by the President on the matter.

State Secretary Pratikno, however, later clarified Fadjroel’s statement, saying that the President actually called on people to stay in the capital, though he did not categorically state that the President would ban the mudik


Singapore reports fifth person has died from coronavirus

April 3, 2020

Singapore reported another coronavirus-related death on Friday, raising the city-state's total fatalities from the disease to five.

The latest death was of an 86-year-old female Singapore citizen, the health ministry said in a statement.

The country has reported 1,049 coronavirus cases in total.


 Covid-19: 208 new cases, death toll now at 50

02 Apr 2020


PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia recorded 208 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday (April 2), taking the total number of confirmed infections in the country to 3,116.

Within the same 24-hour span, the country also reported five new deaths, said Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah at the ministry’s daily Covid-19 briefing here.

The country also saw 122 more patients being discharged from hospitals, bringing the tally of Covid-19 recoveries in Malaysia to 767.

Currently, 105 patients are being treated at intensive care units (ICU), with 54 of them requiring the use of ventilators.

Malaysia has entered its third week of the movement control order (MCO) as people are instructed to stay at home and their movement is heavily restricted.



Chinese Mongolia Muslims send anti-coronavirus aid to Iran

April 2, 2020

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): A number of Muslims in the Mongolia Province of northern China have given their donations to the Iranian embassy in China to help fight the coronavirus.

A number of Muslims in the Inner Mongolia in northern China have donated their gifts to the Iranian embassy in Beijing in order to fight the coronavirus. The gifts included 40,000 masks, 200 protective gowns, 300 pairs of glasses and 50 digital infrared thermometers, which were delivered to the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in China.

A representative of the Mongolia Muslims in China announced that they were supplying "100,000 more masks" for Iran. He said that the gifts were collected from a number of organizations of Muslims of Mongolia and demonstrate their friendship with the Iranian people.

Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to China Mohammad Keshavarzzadeh thanked the Mongolian Muslims for coming to the Iranian Embassy in Beijing and said, "We are happy that China has succeeded in the fight against Coronavirus."


Iran saffron prices stumble to record lows amid virus surge in Europe

02 April 2020

A major Iranian saffron trader said on Thursday that prices have been down by more than a half in recent weeks and reached a point where even the illegal trade of saffron across the eastern Iranian borders is no longer tenable.

Ali Hosseini, a member of Iran’s National Saffron Association, said that prices are now plummeting to $400-500 per kilogram of the spice, levels that had never been seen since the 1980s and 1990s.

Hosseini said that the main reason for depressed prices was record low demands from Spain and Italy, the two main destinations for Iran’s saffron exports.

Italy and Spain have become the hardest-hit nations in the world by a new coronavirus outbreak that has infected over 200,000 people in the countries and led to nearly 25,000 deaths.

Spain has always been on top of Iran’s list of saffron exports with companies in the European country buying the spice in significant volumes to process it for use various industries like food and pharmaceuticals.

International saffron prices saw a major boom over the past years and reached all-time highs of $1,100 per kilogram.

The expensive spice had become popular among smugglers who shipped it to countries like Afghanistan to send it to Europe as American sanctions on Iran sometimes intervened with direct exports.

Hosseini said China, the country where the new coronavirus disease originated nearly four months ago, had also slashed its demand for the Iranian saffron.


Iran medical body writes to Guterres, slams UN inaction on cruel US bans

02 April 2020

In a letter addressed to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the Academy’s President Alireza Marandi criticized the UN and its affiliated organizations for taking “no effective measures” to ease the restrictive US measures, which are hampering Iran’s fight against the fast-spreading disease.

“Following correspondence about the US government’s illegal sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran and its direct impact on the health of the Iranian people, unfortunately, so far, the United Nations and other relevant organizations including the World Health Organization, which claim to defend the rights of humanity, have taken no effective measures to lift the cruel sanctions against our dear children, women, men and patients,” he wrote.

Marandi, who formerly served as health minister, also lashed out at the administration of US President Donald Trump for turning a deaf ear to calls on the international stage demanding sanctions relief and instead imposing even more anti-Iran bans.

“Instead, despite the urging of scientists, physicians and even some elected US officials to lift sanctions amid a worldwide Covid-19 disease pandemic, this irrational, ruthless American government has further tightened sanctions against the Iranian people,” he wrote.

Marandi further hailed the performance of Iranian officials in dealing with the coronavirus despite the inhumane US sanctions, saying their efforts have been “successful” in managing the pandemic.

“Even if a small part of these sanctions were imposed on European countries and the United States, those nations would surely collapse under the strain. As you know, we have been one of the worse-hit nations in this pandemic and would not have reached this difficult state had it not been for the repressive US sanctions imposed on all the world in order to punish Iran,” he added.

The United States reinstated its sanctions against Iran in May 2018 after leaving a United Nations-endorsed nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic and five other countries.

“It is certain that history will judge the ineffectiveness and silence of international organizations claiming protection of international law and human rights against such crimes. These institutions have become toothless, if not complicit, and we will undoubtedly see the unraveling of our world order because of this refusal to take action against crass violations of international and humanitarian law by the US regime,” Marandi concluded.

Iran has been among the countries hardest hit by the new coronavirus, which first showed up in China in late December 2019 before spreading to other parts of the world.

On Thursday, Iran’s Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour reported 2,875 new infections and 124 more deaths from the virus over the past 24 hours.

In total, 50,468 Iranian have contracted the disease and 3,160 have died, he pointed out, saying 16,711 patients have recovered so far.


Turkish forces, militants shell Syria’s Hasakah; two civilians killed

02 April 2020

Local sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Syria’s official news agency SANA that Turkish troops and their proxies targeted buildings in the villages of Qabr al-Saqir and al-Abosh, which lie in the Tall Tamr district of the province, on Thursday afternoon, leaving two civilians dead and four others injured.

Turkish military forces and their allied militants once again cut off water supply to the Hasakah region in northeastern Syria.

The development came only a day after the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that a family of four was injured after Turkish forces and their allied militants shelled their home in Rabia’at village in Abu Rasin district in the same province.

Separately, Turkish troops and their allies also fired mortar shells at Zarkan town and Muharmal village in the same district of Hasakah province. The shells damaged residential buildings, but there were no reports of casualties.

Turkey has deployed a US-made air defense system to Idlib as Ankara beefs up its military presence in the Syrian province despite a ceasefire reached earlier this month.

Also on Wednesday, the Observatory reported that Turkey had dispatched new reinforcements to Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, as Ankara beefs up its military presence in the embattled region following a ceasefire reached earlier this month with Moscow to halt an escalation of violence there.

The Britain-based war monitor, citing activists requesting anonymity, reported that a Turkish convoy, consisting of dozens of tanks, personnel carriers and armored vehicles, crossed into the Syrian territory through Kafr Lusin border crossing on Thursday afternoon, and headed towards Turkish positions.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar announced on March 13 that the Russian and Turkish militaries had agreed on the details of a new ceasefire in Syria’s Idlib de-escalation zone following four days of talks in Ankara.

Akar said the first joint patrol by Turkey and Russia on the M4 highway in Idlib would take place on March 15, and that Turkey and Russia will set up joint coordination centers in the area.

Turkey and Russia agree to begin joint patrols along a key highway in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib as part of a ceasefire agreement, Turkey’s defense minister says.

The announcement followed a telephone call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan the previous day to discuss the implementation of the agreements the two leaders had reached in Moscow the previous week.

“Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan reaffirmed the importance of continued close joint efforts, first of all between the Russian and Turkish defense ministries, in order to ensure a stable ceasefire and further stabilization of the situation,” a Kremlin press release read.

“It was agreed to maintain a regular dialogue at various levels, including personal contacts,” the statement added.,-militants-shell-Syria%E2%80%99s-Hasakah;-two-civilians-killed


Trump threatens Iran by citing baseless allegations involving Iraq

April 2, 2020

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): Continuing its threats against Iran, President Donald Trump claimed Wednesday that Iran was about to launch an attack on US troops occupying Iraq.

"Upon information and belief, Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on US troops and/or assets in Iraq,” claimed the American commander-in-chief on Twitter. "If this happens, Iran will pay a very heavy price, indeed."

Such baseless claims are made while Iran is in a battle with the coronavirus pandemic despite Washington’s illegal sanctions which it refused to lift and is keeping up with the so-called “maximum pressure” on the Iranian nation amid their fight with the globally spreading coronavirus.

The US Treasury Department imposed sanctions against 20 companies on Thursday, claiming that they provided support for Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and the IRGC's Quds Force, as well as Iraq's Kata'ib Hezbollah, a pro-government resistance group, and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq movement, a subdivision of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU).

Tehran has time and again asserted that US threats and allegations are baseless and that it stands ready to defend its interests in the region.

An unnamed US intelligence official also talked to Reuters about the alleged “attack,” without disclosing its timing or precise locations.

The spokesman of the Iranian foreign ministry on Wednesday called for the US to stop seeking unrest and instability in the Middle East and pull out its military forces from Iraq.

"While the UN General Secretary and the international bodies urge all warmongering and unrest-seeking measures to be halted due to coronavirus outbreak, US' moves is in violation of what Iraqi government, parliament and nation want. Such behaviors can bring instability into the region and end in a catastrophic situation," he said.


PKK claims responsibility for Iran-Turkey gas pipeline explosion

April 2, 2020

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has claimed responsibility for the Tuesday blast in the strategic pipeline delivering Iranian natural gas to Turkey.

Natural gas exports from Iran to Turkey were halted early Tuesday after an explosion occurred in the pipeline just inside the border of Turkey.

The explosion occurred near the Gurbulak border gate with Iran in Agri province, which is near the joint Bazargan border. Some sources reported it as a terrorist attack on Tuesday.

The Press Office of People's Defense Forces (HPG), a military wing of the PKK, said on Wednesday a fighter of the group attacked the Turkish forces guarding the pipeline on March 31, engaging the troops and then blowing herself up.

National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) announced on Tuesday that Iranian gas exports to Turkey will resume in a few days.

“The damaged part of Iran's gas export pipeline to Turkey will be repaired within the next few days,” Shana quoted the director of dispatching of the National Gas Company, Mehdi Jamshidi-Danaas saying.

As a rule of thumb, such repairing operations take between three to 7 days depending on the damage done to the pipeline, the official said.

The pipeline carries around 10 billion cubic meters of Iranian gas to Turkey annually, and has been hit by terrorist attacks since the 1990s.


Lebanon complains to UN Security Council against Israel over violating airspace

02 April 2020

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants has filed a complaint before the UN Security Council in New York over the dangerous Israeli violation of Lebanese sovereignty, after three Israeli aircraft bombed Syrian sites from the Lebanese airspace, which represented a threat to Lebanese civilians,” the ministry said in a statement released on Thursday.

“This violation comes at a time when the entire world is facing the threat of the spread of the coronavirus pandemic,” it added.

The Lebanese foreign ministry then urged the Security Council to “put a permanent end to the Israeli violations,” noting that “Israel violates the Lebanese aerial, maritime and territorial sovereignty on a daily basis.”

The Syrian army says the country’s air defenses in the central province of Homs have intercepted a number of missiles fired by Israeli warplanes.

Late on Tuesday, Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that the country’s air defenses had intercepted and shot down a number of Israeli missiles before they reached their targets in Homs.

Lebanon's government, the Hezbollah resistance movement and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) have repeatedly condemned the overflights, saying they are in clear violation of UN Resolution 1701 and the country's sovereignty.

UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which brokered a ceasefire in the war of aggression Israel launched against Lebanon in 2006, calls on Tel Aviv to respect Beirut's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In 2009, Lebanon filed a complaint with the UN, presenting over 7,000 documents pertaining to Israeli violations of Lebanese territory.


Anti-siege committee calls for intl. action to help Gaza amid coronavirus outbreak

02 April 2020

The head of the International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza, Zaher Birawi, in a statement demanded urgent international action to end the blockade on Gaza, and provide the coastal sliver with medicine and necessary medical supplies, especially in light of the new coronavirus pandemic.

Birawi also warned about underestimating a looming crisis in Gaza, highlighting that the coronavirus outbreak in the Gaza Strip means a humanitarian catastrophe in every sense of the word, given the fact the territory is densely populated and its healthcare system is weak.

Gaza’s population is at a tremendous risk amid the Coronavirus pandemic as a result of Israel’s inhumane policies since 2007

Also on Thursday, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates strongly condemned latest remarks by the Israeli minister of military affairs, Naftali Bennett, who linked any assistance it might offer for the Gaza Strip's efforts against coronavirus to progress in its attempt to recover two Israeli soldiers lost during the 2014 war against the Palestinian enclave.

The ministry, in a statement, denounced the remarks as cheap blackmail especially as they have been made at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the entire world.

Such a stance by Israeli authorities is nothing new as their actions and behavior towards the Palestinian nation are driven by racism and malice, the statement noted.

It added that Naftali’s remarks truly represented the Israeli regime’s bids to undermine Palestinian efforts to battle the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Palestinian people in Gaza Strip have staged an anti-occupation rally despite concerns about the spread of coronavirus.

The Palestinian foreign ministry then slammed Israeli officials’ continued dumping of Palestinian workers suspected to have contracted the virus at West Bank checkpoints. It also hit out at the Israeli Prison Service for its failure to take essential precautionary measures, and to provide Palestinian prisoners with necessary hygiene materials amid rising cases of COVID-19 infections in the occupied territories.

The ministry held Israel fully responsible for the dire repercussions of the siege on the well-being of Gaza population, calling on the international community to intervene to help the Palestinian enclave access the medical supplies it needs to battle the deadly coronavirus.

Hamas censures Israel’s incessant arrest campaign against Palestinians, stating such it reflects the Tel Aviv regime’s brutality and criminality amid COVID-19 outbreak.

The United Nations has warned against the frightening consequences of coronavirus in the Gaza Strip in the wake of 13 years of Israeli-imposed blockade on the territory.

Jamie McGoldrick, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for occupied Palestinian territory, said on March 22 that the COVID-19 outbreak in Gaza can be terrible due to the long-term blockade, overpopulation, and limited health facilities there.

The top UN health official pointed to the weak and insufficient health care system in the Gaza Strip, saying the world body is in contact with the Palestinian administration and the World Health Organization over the improvement of the health system.

The Palestinian Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip urges the world to force Israel to lift the Gaza blockade amid the coronavirus outbreak.

He said that they are working with international donors on a project with a $7 million budget to meet Gaza’s urgent need for humanitarian aid for the next two months.

Israel has also launched three major wars against the enclave since 2008, killing thousands of Gazans and shattering the impoverished territory’s already poor infrastructure.


As coronavirus spreads, UN seeks nationwide ceasefire in Yemen

02 April 2020

Griffiths' office said in a statement on Thursday that he was in regular contact with both parties "on reaching agreements on a nationwide ceasefire, humanitarian and economic measures to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people".

Griffiths, it said, is in daily consultations aimed at bringing the warring sides together in "virtual" negotiations as soon as possible.

While Yemen has not recorded any COVID-19 cases to date, the possibility of an outbreak threatens the war-ravaged country’s already fragile healthcare system.

An outbreak of the coronavirus is set to put an even bigger strain on the already hampered health services and the work of aid workers.

The United States has cut off millions of dollars for healthcare programs and other aid in Yemen amid fears of the spread of the new coronavirus in the impoverished Arab nation.

The situation is dire in Yemen where the UN and the World Health Organization (WHO) have failed to open a humanitarian medical air bridge for civilians suffering from conditions that cannot be treated inside the country.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing back to power the government of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and crushing the Ansarullah movement.

The military campaign and a Saudi naval blockade have killed hundreds of thousands of people and plunged Yemen into the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Humanitarian and aid groups fear that the Yemeni population, weakened by hunger and packed into refugee camps, would be further decimated by the coronavirus.

Since the start of Saudi war on Yemen, more than 3.6 million people have been driven from their homes. An estimated 80 percent of the population - 24 million - requires some form of humanitarian or protection assistance, including 14.3 million who are in acute need.

The Houthi Ansarullah movement, which has been defending Yemen against the Saudi aggression, has recently welcomed a call by UN chief Antonio Guterres for a ceasefire in all conflicts worldwide amid the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Yemen’s Ansarullah movement welcomes a request by the UN chief for a global ceasefire to help the world better focus on the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the chairman of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee of Yemen, said in a tweet on Monday that Sana’a welcomes the UN chief’s call and supports a halt in attacks by the US, Britain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and their allies against Yemen.


Luxurious Iran Mall serves as hospital for COVID-19 patients

02 April 202

Yusef Jalali

Iran Mall is the name of one of the world's largest commercial and recreational complexes. Now, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the Tehran-based mall has not only closed its doors to promote social distancing, but has also turned into a huge medical center for corona patients.

Iran is among the worst hit by the new virus, with the total confirmed cases exceeding 47,000. Over 3,000 people have died so far.

Authorities at Iran Mall hope that if all entities rush for help, this change of use would be short, and the good days would soon come back.

When it comes to the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, Iran's ranking has dropped from the second to the sixth worst affected. But as the spread is still on the rise, authorities at Iran Mall say the fight against the killer virus is far from over, and this shopping center continues to serve as a hospital until further notice.


South Asia 

Hate Campaigns Against Muslim Community Deplorable – Sri Lankan President’s Counsel Ali Sabry

Rukshana Rizwie


President’s Counsel Ali Sabry expressed his disappointment over the Ministry of Health decision to prohibit burials in COVID-19 cases in Sri Lanka, but asserted that all citizens must respect the law and abide by it.

“Until a decision was reached, we have not only made our representations but we have lobbied for it,” he said referring to a plea to permit the burial of Muslim COVID-19 cases in keeping with Islamic religious customs. “However once that decision is reached, all citizenry must respect and abide by it including Muslims. To go against it would be un-Islamic.”

PC Sabry pointed out that World Health Organisation which sets out guidelines and protocols in dealing with COVID-19 permits burials.

“Although a cremation is recommended, if the family requests and if health authorities find that such a request poses no risks, then burials under eight  feet can be permitted,” he said. “It is the practice of countries like Singapore, United Kingdom, India and Malaysia to name a few that also permit burials.”

The death and ultimately cremation of a Muslim individual hailing from Negombo who died from COVID-19 was contested by many as it went against the norms and practices of the Islamic faith. Many sections of the society requested that the Health Ministry and Health sub-committee of the Task Force to combat COVID-19 consider the possibility of a burial.

A five-page research document including the scientific and religious reasoning on the burial of a COVID-19 deceased victim was drafted by Justice Saleem Marsoof and supported by Prof. Rizwi Sheriff, Dr. Ruwaiz Haniffa, Ali Sabry PC, Nadvi Bahudeen Lawyer and several other intellectuals was presented to the Task Force.

Upon submission of that draft, the Government changed the SOP for disposal of body on 27th of March 2020. However these guidelines were not followed when considering the final rites of the second COVID-19 victim who happened to be a Muslim.

“If the decision makers, having considered all facts and aspects and have reached a decision based on scientific, medical or logical concerns, I have no issues with it and people must comply with it,” he said.

“But if the decision to disregard WHO standard guidelines followed by 182 countries have been taken on any other extraneous grounds, such as rhetoric, bad publicity and current public sentiments etc like many others I am disappointed.”

He said that it was unfortunate to find racism raising its ugly head every time Sri Lanka is faced with a problem or crisis.

“Unfortunately, during the last few days there has been quite a lot of hate speech directed at Muslims and I myself have formed a Coordination team to counter this on the grassroots level,” he said. “I feel that there needs to be more awareness. Citizens regardless of their religion or ethnicity should hold themselves responsible. Adding to the racist remarks and fear psychosis will only be counterproductive.

He said that it was unfortunate that some of the villages which went into lockdown happened to be predominantly Muslim.

He added that due to the lack of resources not every individual who was returning from overseas was sent to quarantine facilities. “The individual who tested positive for coronavirus from Atalugama was advised to remain in doors instead he had loitered around in his entire village which resulted in 26 of his friends being sent to quarantine Centres. His father and sister have tested positive for the virus.

There are at least 3,000 families and over 16,000 individuals but because of the irresponsibility of one individual the entire town and village has been placed on lockdown due to the risk of exposure to the virus.”


Rab arrests 3 ‘Ansar Al Islam members’ in Rajshahi

April 02, 2020

Rapid Action Battalion members have arrested three suspected activists of the banned militant group Ansar Al Islam from Rajshahi city.

A team of Rab-5 Mollapara camp arrested them during an operation at Haat area in the city around 11:00pm on Wednesday night, reports our Rajshahi correspondent quoting a Rab press release.

The arrestees are: Yousuf Ali Sourav, 21, of Tarash upazila in Sirajganj; Souvik Hasan Sourav, 20, and Shakil Khan, 20, of Chatmohor upazila in Pabna.

They were arrested after they had gathered in the area for holding a secret meeting on carrying out subversive activities against the state, according to the Rab press release.

Some books on extremist ideology and training materials were recovered from them during the arrest, the release added


U.S. strongly reacts to Ghani’s move regarding ‘grave weakening’ of finance ministry

03 Apr 2020

The State Department strongly reacted to President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani’s move regarding the dismemberment of the Ministry of Finance as the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) had earlier warned that the move would harm the country’s development and jeopardize the sustainability of peace if an agreement is reached with the Taliban.

“Troubling new @USIP report that the Afghan govt is “eviscerating” & “gravely weakening” the Ministry of Finance by “carving out key constituent parts, putting them directly under the presidential palace.” The Afghan people need accountable government,” Alice Wells, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia said in a Twitter post.

The U.S. Institue of Peace in a report said the Afghan government is eviscerating the ministry—carving out key constituent parts, putting them directly under the presidential palace, and gravely weakening one of the country’s most effective institutions. “It’s a move that’s bad for Afghanistan’s governance and financial viability.”

“The ministry’s dismemberment began on February 19 when—amid the ongoing dispute over the results of the presidential election—President Ashraf Ghani issued a decree instituting major changes in its administrative structure and reporting arrangements,” USIP added in its report.

The report also added “Under this order, three core functional areas of the Ministry of Finance (MoF)—revenue, customs, and treasury and budget—are to be carved out as independent units, reporting directly to the President’s Office (via the Administrative Affairs Office of the President), completely bypassing the minister of finance and deputy minister.”

“In these critical functions, MoF will be relegated to providing administrative and logistical support, with no supervisory authority and presumably no accountability,” USIP said, adding that “Instead, an unclearly defined “advisory board,” probably located in the palace and led by a senior presidential advisor, will be in charge, likely with direct oversight by the president.”


ARG Palace releases details of telephone conversation between Ghani and Gen. Bajwa

03 Apr 2020

The Office of the President of Afghanistan, ARG Palace, announced late on Thursday that President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani spoke with Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, the Chief of Staff of the military of Pakistan.

According to a statement released by ARG Palace, Gen. Bajwa congratulated President Ghani for his re-election as the President of Afghanistan.

The statement further added that Gen. Bajwa also congratulated President Ghani for the election of an inclusive peace negotiator, expressing hopes that delegation would take forward the peace negotiations with Taliban.

The two sides also held talks on fight against coronavirus and trade and transit between the two countries, the statement said, adding that the two sides agreed on bilateral, regional and international efforts to combat the virus.


Coronavirus Have Positive Effects On The Environment

02 Apr 2020

More than 930000 people around the world are affected by novel coronavirus out of which more than 47000 people have died and more than 194000 people have been recovered. To be clear, the coronavirus pandemic is a tragedy and has affected human life very badly, overloaded hospitals, unemployment, due to the coronavirus prices of food products have been increased in many countries, economic disaster and it has caused depression, the stress in millions of people and many countries around the world have lockdown and quarantined its citizens to slow down the spread of the virus.

But if we look on the other side of the coin, Coronavirus have positive effects on the environment here are some examples.

Air Pollution: One of the main impact of the coronavirus outbreak, is a significant drop in the air pollution which has been noted in many parts of the world. A drop in air pollution was first observed by NASA in China’s Hubei province, where the coronavirus outbreak began in December 2019, Marshall Burke, a researcher at Stanford University, calculated the improvements in air quality recorded in China may have saved the lives of 4,000 children under 5 years old and 73,000 adults over 70. Many countries around the world have implemented lockdown and quarantine to slow down the spread of the virus and due to this flights have cancelled, now there are a lot less planes in the sky and no vehicles on the streets meaning a lot less air pollution and greenhouse gases being emitted and air quality has improved significantly and the earth’s ozone layer is also recovering.

Green Gas Emission: Slowing economic activities also brings down emissions as countries ordered closedown of schools, factories, industries and emissions are expected to fall. A study by specialist outlet Carbon Brief found that in China, carbon dioxide emissions have fallen by around 25 percent.

The waters of Venice, Italy are cleaner once again: Another unexpected effect on the environment from the coronavirus has been seen in Venice, Italy. With tourists numbers culled because of the virus, the waters in Venice’s canals are cleaner than they have been, so much so, in fact, that fish can be seen once again in the canals.

New York: With many people around the world self-isolating and most of the countries and cities on lock down, some major cities outside of China are also seeing their air quality improve. One example is New York. Researchers have found that there has been a 5- to 10% drop in air pollutants like carbon dioxide in New York. Methane emissions have also dropped significantly. And similar effect has been seen in northern Italy as well.

Olive Ridley sea turtles: India going into lockdown, along the coast of the eastern state of Odisha, over 475,000 endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles have come ashore to dig their nests and lay eggs – all sixty million of them, according to the “Mind Un Leashed”


Afghan forces kill, wound 9 Taliban militants in Jawzjan province

02 Apr 2020

The Afghan forces killed or wounded at least 9 Taliban militants by repulsing an attack on security posts in northern Jawzjan province.

The 209th Shaheen Corps in a statement said a group of Taliban militants were planning to attack the security posts in Manjegak district of Jawzjan province.

The statement further added that the Afghan forces took necessary actions while being in a full defensive posture and killed 6 Taliban militants by launching an operation to repulse the attack.

The security forces also wounded 3 other militants during the operation, the 209th Shaheen Corps added in its statement.


North America

Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association helping those self-isolating during coronavirus pandemic

April 2, 2020

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association has distributed thousands of flyers to neighbourhoods across the country in an effort to help those in need.

Members of the association are trying to get the word out so people know they are there to help as part of the organization’s Neighbourhood Helper campaign.

“Without limiting it to any sort of ethnicity whatsoever, we are reaching out to Canadians as a whole, and this is what our teachings are,” said Zubair Afzal, president of the association.

“We are also playing our part in making sure we can come through very difficult times by helping each other out,” Afzal said.

Volunteers are helping with everything from running errands to picking up groceries and medication for those who are unable to do so themselves.

If you need your groceries or medication delivered to you during the COVID-19 pandemic and cannot always ask a friend or family member to help you, a new campaign might be able to help. Recently, the...

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.


COVID-19 pandemic is testing world leaders. Who's stepping up?

by Zaheena Rasheed

9 hours ago

In just three months, more than a million people in 180 countries have fallen sick from the viral illness, while at least 50,000 have died in a public health emergency the United Nations is calling the world's "most challenging crisis" since World War II.

In large swathes of the globe, lockdowns aimed at stemming the virus's spread have brought life and economic activity to a virtual standstill. In the worst-hit regions, hospitals are overwhelmed with the sick and dying, while the poor and vulnerable everywhere are facing severe food shortages and starvation.

Highlighting the risk this poses to peace and stability in the world, the United Nations' Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued an urgent appeal for action on Tuesday, calling on politicians to "forget political games" and come together for a "strong and effective response".

Whether millions live or die depends on the decisions the world's leaders take in the coming days and weeks. But analysts say the early signs are worrying.

In some countries, responses from heads of governments have been marked by dithering and denial, driven by personal interests, distrust of science or fears of wreaking economic havoc.

"It's been disappointing in many countries - too many," said John M Barry, a historian who studied the Spanish flu pandemic that killed as many as 100 million people in 1918. "In some countries, it's been outright reprehensible - some leaders' actions will unnecessarily kill many of their citizens."

In Xi Jinping's China, where the illness was first detected in late December, authorities are accused of engaging in a cover-up and punishing doctors who sounded the alarm in the early days of the outbreak - moves critics say allowed the virus to spread out of the central city of Wuhan to every corner of the globe.

In the United States, President Donald Trump initially downplayed the severity of the threat, predicting the virus would "disappear" like "a miracle" one day, and dismissing growing concerns over the disease as a "hoax" by his political rivals. He only changed tack last week after polling showed an increasingly worried public and modelling predicted that 200,000 people could die in the US without drastic containment efforts.

In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro continues to dismiss the illness as a "fantasy" and a "little flu". Just last week, he defied the advice of his own health officials on avoiding social contact by touring the streets of the capital, Brasilia, in a campaign to get his countrymen back to work.

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, meanwhile, held political rallies late into March, kissing his supporters and urging Mexicans to "live life as normal". That came even as his health minister called on citizens to stay home to contain the virus.

Charles Call at the Washington DC-based Brookings Institute said both leaders' approach is marked by "an aversion to scientific inquiry and state institutions". Their cavalier attitudes are attracting widespread criticism, he wrote in a blog post, predicting the crisis will pose a "test for populism" in both countries.

In Indonesia, President Joko Widodo admitted last week to deliberately withholding information on the outbreak; a strategy he said had been used to prevent panic. In the early days of the epidemic, some of his ministers said prayer would keep the disease away, while others said the country's warmer weather would slow the virus's spread.

Writing in The Diplomat, Asmiati Malik, assistant professor at the Universitas Bakrie in Indonesia, said the government's "unscientific" approach was based on concerns over the economy in the world's fourth-most populous country. But engaging in the politics of denial and limiting the public's access to information on the virus's spread could "cost thousands of lives", she wrote.

The denial and delays will hurt these countries if and when tougher restrictions are required to stem the epidemic, said Barry, the historian. "If you expect public compliance with calls for social distancing, the public has to believe in them. If they don't trust those who advocate them, they won't, and compliance will not be as good and they will be less effective."

On March 11, as infections began to spike in hard-hit Italy, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel said some 70 percent of her country's population would contract the virus - a sober warning that stood in stark contrast to pronouncements from other politicians at the time. A week later, the chancellor appealed to Germans in a dramatic television address to respect tough restrictions on movement and social contact.

"The situation is serious; take it seriously," she said. In a democracy, such curbs "should not be enacted lightly - and only ever temporarily. But at the moment they are essential in order to save lives."

Germany has since led the way in Europe with large scale testing for COVID-19, collecting nearly a million samples since the start of the crisis. And although the country now ranks fifth among territories with confirmed cases - recording more than 80,000 infections - it has a much lower fatality rate than most.

Praising Merkel, Judy Dempsey of Carnegie Europe said the chancellor's approach "points the way forward to the unified, decisive response that is necessary and how democracies can best deliver it".

In Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is also winning plaudits for an aggressive testing and tracing campaign that has kept the number of infections in the country low - about 1,000 cases since the beginning of the outbreak. In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Lee said transparency and trust were key to his country's battle against the virus.

"We are transparent - if there is bad news, we tell you. If there are things which need to be done, we also tell you," he said. "If people do not trust you, even if you have the right measures, it is going to be very hard to get them implemented."

South Korea's President Moon Jae-in, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele are also receiving praise for similar decisive and transparent action.

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Monday obtained the open-ended right to rule by decree in a new law that also imposes jail terms of five years on those who spread "false information" - a move critics say could be used to muzzle journalists. Similar concerns are being raised in the Philippines, where President Rodrigo Duterte secured emergency powers that grant him the authority to crack down on false claims about the coronavirus.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is using a state of emergency over the pandemic to authorise intelligence services to step up surveillance of the public and to close down the country's courts ahead of his trial on corruption charges.

"We recognise that this pandemic is posing an unprecedented test for world leaders," said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Our problem is that some leaders have adopted authoritarian approaches. This is not the time for politics... any emergency powers must be proportionate, and states must always protect people's rights."

In addition to the covert power grabs, observers are also concerned by fighting between world powers, particularly between the US and China. Officials in Beijing, angered by Washington's insistence on labelling the coronavirus the "Chinese virus", are now engaged in a propaganda offensive, with some claiming - without evidence - that the US military had brought the virus to Wuhan.

The deteriorating US-China ties - as well Washington's retreat from the world stage under Trump's "America First" policy - are jeopardising a coordinated response to the pandemic.

"There isn't a global response. And it's a huge problem in the sense that this a crisis that is much better handled if key countries came together," said Charles Kupchan of the US-based Council on Foreign Relations.

"Whether the Ebola crisis of 2014 or the financial crisis of 2008, the US was a country that stepped up and said 'How are we going to manage this together?' But those days are over. The Trump administration has been extremely slow at responding to crisis at home, and its leadership abroad has been minimal."

"Core issues that need addressing include procurement and distribution of medical equipment, sharing of best practices on testing and isolation, and dealing with lower-income communities," he said. "I fear the worst if this virus hits refugee camps and countries with less-developed healthcare systems. It could be quite devastating.


Coronavirus: US moves towards promoting broader use of face masks

1 hours ago

The administration of United States President Donald Trump is formalising new guidance to recommend that many, if not all, people living in US coronavirus hot spots wear face coverings when leaving home, in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

The recommendations, still being finalised on Thursday, would apply at least to those who live in areas hard-hit by community transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. A person familiar with the White House coronavirus task force's discussion said officials would suggest that nonmedical masks, T-shirts or bandannas be used to cover the nose and mouth when outside the home - for instance, at the grocery store or pharmacy. Medical-grade masks, particularly short-in-supply N95 masks, would be reserved for those dealing directly with the sick.

Trump, who was tested again for COVID-19 on Thursday using a new rapid test, indicated on Tuesday that he would support such a recommendation, potentially even for all Americans regardless of where they live.

The White House said Trump's latest test returned a negative result in 15 minutes, and said Trump was "healthy and without symptoms".

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) draft of the guidance would make the covering recommendation apply to nearly all Americans, all over the country, according to a federal official who has seen the draft but was not authorised to discuss it.

Some exceptions would be young children under age two, anyone who has trouble breathing or anyone who is unable to remove the covering without help.

Under the previous guidance, only the sick or those at high risk of complications from the respiratory illness were advised to wear masks. The new proposal was driven by research showing that some infections are being spread by people who seem to be healthy.

On Wednesday, Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, urged his city's four million residents to wear masks when they're in public.

In response to recent studies, the CDC on Wednesday changed how it was defining the risk of infection for Americans. It essentially says anyone may be a considered a carrier, whether they have symptoms or not.

The virus spreads mostly through droplets from coughs or sneezes, though experts stress that the germ is still not fully understood.

US officials have been telling people to stay at home as much as possible, and keep at least six feet (two metres) away from others when they do go out. Other advice includes frequent handwashing and not touching your face.

Scientists can't rule out that infected people sometimes exhale COVID-19 virus particles, rather than just when coughing or sneezing, but there isn't enough evidence to show if that can cause infection, according to a committee convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to advise the White House.

epa08333051 Medical professionals and hospital employees transfer a body on a hospital gurney into temporary storage in a mobile morgue, being used due to lack of space at the hospital, outside of the

Medical professionals and hospital employees transfer a body on a hospital gurney into temporary storage in a mobile morgue, being used due to lack of space at the hospital, outside of the Brooklyn Hospital Center in Brooklyn, New York, the United States [Justin Lane/EPA]

The question has to do with whether the new coronavirus spreads mostly by droplets that don't linger for long in the air, or also by tinier "aerosolised" particles. Certain medical procedures, such as inserting breathing tubes, can create those tiny particles, which is why healthcare workers wear close-fitting N95 masks during such care.

The committee cited one study that detected airborne viral ribonucleic acid (RNA) in and just outside some hospital isolation rooms, but noted that it was unclear if that could infect someone.

US Surgeon General Dr Jerome Adams has repeatedly admonished Americans not to wear face masks, saying they don't prevent the people who wear them from catching the virus. He and other officials have stressed that surgical face masks and other protective medical equipment have been in short supply and must be prioritised for people such as healthcare workers.

The World Health Organization on Monday reiterated its advice that people in the general population do not need to wear face masks unless they are sick. Since the epidemic began in China, the WHO has said masks are for the sick and for people caring for them.

"There is no specific evidence to suggest that the wearing of masks by the mass population has any particular benefit," WHO's epidemic chief Dr Mike Ryan said during a news conference. "In fact, there's some evidence to suggest the opposite," he added, noting risks from an improperly fitted mask - or from improperly putting it on or taking it off.

Two people wear face masks and gloves as a proactive prevention measure, at a campaign event of Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders, at Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, California [Damian Dovarganes/AP Photo]

That's in addition to the problem that healthcare workers who do need masks are facing "a massive global shortage," Ryan said. "The thought of them not having masks is horrific, so we have to be very careful on supply, but that is not the primary reason why WHO has advised against using masks."

Many people have taken it upon themselves to make their own masks, but one North Carolina health system found that such products vary in how well they work. Wake Forest Baptist Health doctors and scientists tested 13 different designs made by community volunteers. They found that some were better at filtering than off-the-shelf surgical masks, but others were barely better than wearing no mask at all.

Separately, a 2013 study tested whether homemade masks might help during a flu pandemic. It found surgical masks were three times more effective in catching droplets from coughing people than masks made from cotton T-shirts, though it's not clear if the new coronavirus behaves exactly like flu viruses.


US Navy relieves commander of coronavirus-hit ship over memo leak

12 hours ago

The United States Navy announced on Thursday that it had relieved the commander of the US aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, who wrote a scathing letter that leaked to the public and that asked Navy leadership for stronger measures to control a coronavirus outbreak on board.

Officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to Reuters new agency earlier on Thursday, said Captain Brett Crozier was being relieved not because he wrote the letter and sent it up through the chain of command, but because the Navy believes he leaked it to the media.

Crozier "demonstrated extremely poor judgement in the middle of a crisis" in writing a letter detailing the problem that was leaked to the US media before top defence officials saw it, Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said.

In a four-page letter, Crozier described a bleak situation aboard the nuclear-powered carrier as more sailors tested positive for the virus.

He said that unless the Navy acted immediately, it would be failing to properly safeguard "our most trusted asset - our sailors".

The letter put the Pentagon on the defensive about whether it was doing enough to keep the warship's crew members safe, and alarmed the families of those aboard the vessel, whose home port is in San Diego, California.

"I don't know who leaked the letter to the media. That would be something that would violate the principles of good order and discipline, if he were responsible for that. But I don't know that," acting US Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said when asked multiple times whether the captain faced discipline.

The carrier was in the Pacific when the Navy reported its first coronavirus case a week ago. It has since docked at the US Naval Base Guam on the southern end of the US island territory in the western Pacific.



COVID-19: Islamic group makes case for Nigeria’s health workers

April 3, 2020

By John Owen Nwachukwu

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has asked the Federal and State Governments to show appreciation to Nigerian medical professionals, who have been handling the outbreak of Coronavirus in the country.

The group also commended Nigeria’s health workers for their sacrifice, courage and professionalism in the wake of the novel COVID-19.

The Islamic human rights advocacy group made this known in a press statement issued to DAILY POST on Friday, by its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.

The statement said, “We appreciate the role of Nigeria’s health workers in the battle against COVID-19. We commend them for their sacrifice, courage and professionalism. They put their lives on the line to save the rest of us.

“They are always out there staring death in the face, daring corona virus, so that Nigeria can defeat the dreaded virus. We doff our hats to them.

“In this regard, we congratulate Professor Jesse Otegbayo, the Chief Medical Director at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, who tested positive for the virus a week ago but became negative yesterday.

“In the same vein, we pay tribute to the medical doctor and two nurses who contracted the virus from a patient who was rushed to an Abuja hospital a few weeks ago. We wish them full and speedy recovery.

“By the same token, we hail the Lagos state medical team handling the treatment of people infected by COVID-19 for the successes recorded so far in the treatment of infected persons since the outbreak of the dreaded disease.

“It is on record that apart from the six that were declared free of the virus last week, eleven (11) others were yesterday discharged from the Yaba facility. The Lagos State Government deserves a medal for this feat.

“MURIC calls for a special package for health workers involved in the fight against COVID-19. They are the heroes of the time and they should not make all these sacrifices for nothing.

“Both the federal and state governments should show appreciation for their performance. It should not just be about civil service rules.

“This is about life and death and a class of people taking all the risks to make others safe. They need motivation in order to register government’s goodwill.”


COVID-19: MSSN Condemns Troublemakers Over Closure Of Mosques

By Saheed Salawu

Apr 3, 2020

THE Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN) has condemned some Muslims who cause trouble with their insistence on going to mosque for congregational prayers, contrary to the directive of the government that all places of worship be closed as part of measures to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country.

The MSSN president, Dr Taofeeq Yekinni, who stated this in a message, urged all Muslims to stay at home as directed by the authorities.

According to him, going to mosques for prayers will be counterproductive at this time and as such, the faithful should endeavour to pray within the confines of their homes.

Dr Yekinni noted that all the activities of the MSSN had been suspended throughout the country, urging members to carry out personal hygiene, maintain social distances and encourage others to do so as well.

“We condemn all those who insist and cause trouble because of going to mosques. I urge you all to stay at home as directed by the authorities. Going to mosques for prayers will be counterproductive at this time. Pray at home

“Please ignore and reject all false and fake theories and conjectures being bandied about the Covid-19. The perpetrators of the news have different motives. Don’t fall victim to their antics. Let us help as much people as we can in this circumstance,” he stated.


COVID-19: Order Oyo’s Total Lockdown, Muslim Community Asks FG

By Saheed Salawu

Apr 3, 2020

THE Muslim Community of Oyo State (MUSCOYS) has implored the Federal Government to include Oyo among states where it has declared total lockdown as part of measures to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country.

The Federal Government had ordered Lagos and Ogun states as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to go into total lockdown.

MUSCOYS, in a statement signed by its secretary-general, Alhaji Murisiku Siyanbade, on behalf of the chairman, Alhaj Ishaq Kunle Sanni, explained that inclusion of Oyo State would enable the people of the state to stay at home, reduce spread of the infection and keep fatality low.

The community, which commended some of the steps being taken by the Federal Government to curtail the virus, noted that Oyo State presently had the third largest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19-infected persons.

It said the state had at least seven persons that already tested positive and who had interacted with about 85 persons that were still bring traced.

“Oyo State shares close proximity with Lagos State. Ogun State, already included, has recorded only four COVID-19 confirmed cases,” it noted.

In addition, MUSCOYS commended the steps so far taken by the state governor, Mr Seyi Makinde, but expressed the need for the state government to urgently acquire an accurate and rapid diagnostic kit or meter for detection of COVID-19 in suspected patients.

“Let Governor Seyi Makinde follow the commendable step presently being taken by Lagos State government by procuring disinfecting machines to disinfect our markets, public places and neighbourhoods.

“With the imposition of curfew on residents, let Oyo State government provide succour in form of food and other relief materials at this time as a palliative to the current situation,” the community said.

“This times call for more closeness to our Creator. Only He knows the beginning and end off all things. May He save us from this affliction. Let us seek His forgiveness and ask Him to save us from this scourge. May Almighty Allah accept our supplications and heal the world, Amin,” MUSCOYS added.


COVID-19: Taraba govt. distributes hand sanitisers to CAN, Muslim Councils

April 2, 2020

Taraba State Government through its Technical Committee on COVID-19 on Thursday presented hand sanitisers to Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), and the Muslim Councils to distribute to their members in the state.

Innocent Vakkai, the state Commissioner for Health, who is also the Chairman of the Technical Committee on COVID-19 set up by the government, said the move was part of the government’s effort to stop the spread of the virus.

Presenting the hand sanitisers to representatives of CAN and Muslim Council at the event, Mr Vakkai maintained that the items were purchased by the government in furtherance of its resolve to ensure that the state was free from the pandemic.

Mr Vakkai also refuted media reports that Taraba recorded cases of the pandemic, saying that out of the three suspected cases, one had already tested negative and the result of the two were still being awaited.

“Contrary to rumours and reports that there are three cases of COVID-19 in Taraba, there is no single case of the virus in the state.

“Out of the three suspected cases that were sent to Abuja for testing, one was negative while the result of the remaining two are still being awaited.

Mr Vakkai also disclosed that Governor Darius Ishaku had directed the Commissioner for Finance to make available an account through which individuals in the state who wished to contribute financially in combating the pandemic could lodge their contributions.

The commissioner also revealed that the state government had taken delivery of face masks and protective gears donated by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for the use of health workers in the state.


Lagos shuts, disinfects mosque where worshippers attacked officials

April 2, 2020

Sodiq Oyeleke

Lagos State Government on Thursday shut and fumigated the Agege Central Mosque, where worshippers attacked officers of the COVID-19 Task Force, who were enforcing the lockdown order.

The PUNCH gathered that the Muslim faithful, numbering about 300, rushed out to attack the task force officers during their evening prayer at the Hausa-dominated Mosque on Wednesday.

The Taskforce team comprised Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency, Lagos Safety Commission and the Rapid Response Squad.




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