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Islamic World News ( 2 Jan 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Dubai Ends 30 Percent Tax On Alcohol Sales, Fee For Liquor Licenses In The Sheikhdom Boost Tourism To The Emirate

New Age Islam News Bureau

02 January 2023


Representative Image. Credit: iStock Photo


• Islamic Authorities In Melaka, Malaysia, Warn Against Tourists Wearing Bikinis On Island

• NYPD Stabbing Suspect With Alleged Extremist Ties Wrote Manifesto Asking Family To Repent To Allah: Report

• Dozens Of British Muslims Named In King Charles’ First New Year Honours List

• New Israel Government Says Will Develop Tourism In Occupied West Bank


Arab World

• ‘Diriyah Nights’ Music Festival Kicks Off In Riyadh

• ISIS Says It Carried Deadly Attack In Egypt Suez Canal City Of Ismailia

• Lebanese naval forces rescue about 200 migrants after boat sinks

• Grand Mosque welcomes young visitors for educational tours

• Kuwait authorities intercept $14.5 million worth of illegal drugs


Southeast Asia

• Do More To Pressure Afghan Govt To Uphold The Basic Rights Of Its Women And Girls, Suhakam Tells Putrajaya

• Forget politicians, let academics helm education ministries, says Maszlee

• Federal Territories Islamic council allocates RM6m to assist flood victims


North America

• US to keep close ties with India, Pakistan

• Turkish foreign minister meets counterparts from Gabon, Brazil, Guatemala



• France’s Moderate Imam Sees Israel as a Dream, Europe as in Peril

• Croatian writer’s novel “On the Roads of Persia” launched at Sisak Islamic centre

• New Danish coalition eyes border relaxation with changes in asylum rules



• Netanyahu says Israel not bound by ‘despicable’ UN vote

• Iran's Air Defence Systems Tested Successfully in Military Exercises

• Israel’s military kills two Palestinians, including teen, in West Bank

• Iran police detain top-tier football players in raid at party

• Yemeni leader vows to defeat Houthis and repair broken country

• Islamic Jihad: Palestinians not afraid of new Israeli cabinet


South Asia

• 10 Killed, 8 Hurt In An Explosion That Rocked The Kabul Military Airport Blast

• UN Representative Meets Dy. PM Over Women’s Rights In Afghanistan

• China Interested to Invest in Afghanistan’s Energy Sector

• Taliban seeks economic self-sufficiency and foreign investment for Afghanistan -minister



• Afraid Of Losing Muslim Votes, CPM Adopts Faith-Friendly Image In Kerala

• Muslim Man Donates Blood To Save Life Of Ailing Hindu Baby In In Madhya Pradesh 1st January 2023

• Mathura dispute: Mosque panel likely to file plea against survey order today

• Cops Working With Muslims To Rationalise Madrasa Education: Himanta Sarma

• J&K: Child dead as blasts hit Rajouri village, day after terrorist attack

• India asks Pakistan to release Indian prisoners in its custody

• India, Pakistan exchange list of nuclear installations

• NIA chargesheets 11 PFI activists over Nizamabad 'terror' camps

• Religious radicalism suicidal path for Christians, Muslims: VHP



• Aaghaz-e-Dosti Delegation At Kartarpur Pray For Spiritual Connect And Peace In New Year

• Unexplained Incarcerations Complicate Matters For Afghan Refugees In Pakistan: Report

• Politicians felicitate nation, pledge Pakistan’s prosperity in 2023

• Pakistan: 22 injured in celebratory gunfire on new year's eve

• Former army chief’s ‘set-up’ still active, alleges Imran

• PML-N rushes to bridge growing MQM-PPP fissures

• JUI convenes APC on law, order situation in KP today

• Terror Attack Kills a Police Constable in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa



• Mass Grave With 18 Bodies Found In Ex-Daesh Stronghold In Libya

• Bodies of 13 Moroccans recovered after boat sinks while attempting to reach Spain

• 10 people killed in Uganda stampede during New Year celebrations

• Sudan faces ‘complex political process’: UN mission

• Several killed, injured in anti-government protests in Somaliland

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Dubai Ends 30 Percent Tax On Alcohol Sales, Fee For Liquor Licenses In The Sheikhdom Boost Tourism To The Emirate


Representative Image. Credit: iStock Photo


01 January ,2023

Dubai ended its 30 percent tax on alcohol sales in the sheikhdom Sunday and made its required liquor licenses free to obtain, ending a long-standing source of revenue for its ruling family to apparently further boost tourism to the emirate.

The sudden New Year’s Day announcement, made by Dubai’s two state-linked alcohol retailers, came apparently from a government decree from its ruling Al Maktoum family.

However, government officials did not immediately acknowledge the decision and did not respond to questions from The Associated Press.

But it follows years of loosening regulations over liquor in the sheikhdom, which now sells alcohol during daylight hours in Ramadan and began providing home delivery during the lockdowns at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. .

Alcohol sales have long served as a major barometer of the economy of Dubai, a top travel destination in the UAE, home to the long-haul carrier Emirates.

During the recent World Cup in nearby Qatar, Dubai’s many bars drew commuting soccer fans.

However, a pint of beer easily can cost over $10 at a bar, with other drinks running even higher. It wasn’t immediately clear if this would cause a price drop at alcohol-serving establishments or if it only would affect those buying it from retailers.

Alcohol distributor Maritime and Mercantile International, which is part of the wider Emirates Group, made the announcement in a statement.

“Since we began our operations in Dubai over 100 years ago, the emirate’s approach has remained dynamic, sensitive and inclusive for all,” said Tyrone Reid of MMI. “These recently updated regulations are instrumental to continue ensuring the safe and responsible purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages in Dubai and the UAE.”

MMI did not respond to a question over whether the decision was permanent. However, an ad put up by MMI urged customers to buy from its stores, saying “you no longer need to drive out to the other emirates.”

Dubai residents long have driven into Umm al-Quwain and other emirates for bulk, tax-free alcohol purchases.

African & Eastern, the second alcohol retailer believed to be at least partially held by the state or affiliated firms, also announced the end of the municipality tax and license fees.

Under Dubai law, non-Muslims must be 21 or older to consume alcohol. Drinkers are supposed to carry plastic cards issued by the Dubai police that permit them to purchase, transport and consume beer, wine, and liquor. Otherwise, they can face fines and arrest — even though the sheikhdom’s vast network of bars, nightclubs and lounges almost never ask to see the permit.

Still, relatively liberal Dubai is an outlier among others in the region. Sharjah, an emirate that borders Dubai to the north, outlaws alcohol, as do the nearby nations of Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the oil-rich UAE, ended its alcohol license system in September 2020.

The announcement Sunday also came as the UAE prepares to introduce a 9 percent corporate tax in June atop of other fees and charges it levies while avoiding personal income taxes.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Islamic Authorities In Melaka, Malaysia, Warn Against Tourists Wearing Bikinis On Island


MCA warned Terengganu’s Islamic enforcers against taking advantage of bikini-clad tourists on the pretext of monitoring them Photo Credit: JosuOzkaritz/Getty Images


January 1, 2023

PETALING JAYA: The Islamic authorities in Melaka are upset that tourists in bikinis have sullied the image of Pulau Besar and wants action to be taken against those who were in their opinion dressed indecently.

This followed a three-minute video of beachgoers in bikinis at a beach on the island making its rounds on social media since Dec 25.

Melaka Islamic Religious Affairs Department (JAIM) chief Che Sukri Che Mat said it now plans to put up signboards reminding tourists to dress modestly and not partake in activities that are considered sensitive to Muslims.

“Wearing such attire (such as bikinis) is only suitable for the bedroom, not to be shown off to the community in Pulau Besar. They shouldn’t take this lightly,” he was quoted by Harian Metro as saying.

“This is the first and last (warning). Don’t repeat this; we will not compromise,” he said.

Sukri said a meeting will be held with the police, local government and state development authorities over the matter.

He said they would discuss possible action to be taken against tourists who sullied the sanctity of Pulau Besar, whose history dates back to the Islamic civilisation.

Besides beach resorts and minor outlying islands, Pulau Besar is well known for its ancient graves, tombs and mausoleums of notable Islamic preachers.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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NYPD Stabbing Suspect With Alleged Extremist Ties Wrote Manifesto Asking Family To Repent To Allah: Report


The weapon an unnamed attacker allegedly used to stab two NYC police officers. (NYPD Crime stoppers)


January 1, 2023

The suspect arrested in the New Year’s Eve stabbing of two New York City police officers is believed to have penned a manifesto in which he urged his family to "repent to Allah and accept Islam," according to a Sunday report.

The report from The New York Post comes after investigators were looking into whether the attacker – 19-year-old Trevor Bickford of Maine – harbored radical Islamic views due to his recent online activity.

The suspect arrested in the New Year’s Eve stabbing of two New York City police officers is believed to have penned a manifesto in which he urged his family to "repent to Allah and accept Islam," according to a Sunday report.

The report from The New York Post comes after investigators were looking into whether the attacker – 19-year-old Trevor Bickford of Maine – harbored radical Islamic views due to his recent online activity.

Bickford reportedly tells his brother Travis: "Of anyone I’ve known who I have felt is closest to faith – it’s you."

"Of anyone I’ve ever wanted to accept Islam with me – it’s you. Please repent to Allah and accept Islam. I fear for you," Bickford allegedly wrote.

Bickford writes to his brother, Devon, who is in the Marines: "there was a time when we were close, but that time has passed."

"You have joined the ranks of my enemy. And for that I can give you no kind words – return to Allah."

The FBI and officers from the Wells Police Department were investigating Bickford’s home, according to local media reports.

The FBI told Fox News Digital it is "currently conducting court authorized activity in connection with an ongoing federal investigation" without elaborating.

Fox News Digital has reached out to the NYPD and the Wells Police Department for additional comment.

The Portland Press Herald reports that Bickford competed in football and wrestling while in high school and was a member of the 2020 Wells High School state championship wrestling team.

His father, Tom, died in 2018, according to an obituary. He was said to have had a "very active" role in the lives of his three sons.

Bickford is accused of slashing two officers at a security checkpoint near Times Square on New Year’s Eve. The motive remains under investigation.

A high-level police source also tells Fox News Digital that Bickford was being watched by the FBI's counterterrorism task force in the weeks leading up to Saturday's attack. The source also said Bickford recently converted to Islam and a tipster claimed he had expressed interest in going to Afghanistan.

A rookie officer, on his first night of policing, was slashed in the head, prompting another nearby officer to shoot Bickford. That officer was also struck, but he was not seriously injured. The rookie officer, identified by authorities only as Paul, is expected to recover.

Source: Fox News

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Dozens Of British Muslims Named In King Charles’ First New Year Honours List


Mouhssin Ismail, a former lawyer who gave up his legal career to champion social mobility through education, was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. (Supplied)


Zaynab Khojji

January 01, 2023

LONDON: About 40 British Muslims were named in King Charles’ first New Year Honors List, the Muslim Council of Britain reported.

The awards system recognizes those who have made an outstanding achievement in public life or committed themselves to serving and helping Britain.

The MCB congratulated all 1,107 recipients of the honors.

“It is great to see such excellent contributions to our society recognized, a real testament to the vital work faith communities continue to play in shaping our diverse Britain,” MCB Secretary-General Zara Mohammed said.

Mouhssin Ismail, a former lawyer who gave up his legal career to champion social mobility through education, was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.

OBEs are awarded to those who have played a distinguished role in any field.

Fueled by the “realization that even though the vast majority of the population go to state schools, top professions are still occupied by people that have gone to fee-paying schools and grammar schools,” Ismail decided to pursue a career in teaching in 2007.

“I recognized that state school education wasn’t as rigorous and robust enough,” he said.

He added that the education received by his former colleagues in the legal profession who had attended grammar or fee-paying schools, “was far more vast and comprehensive than I experienced in a state school in inner city London.”

“So my aim was to try and change that and improve the rigor in state schools, as I genuinely believe that young people in deprived areas do not lack ambition. I just think it was the schools themselves not being sufficiently ambitious for the children,” he said.

Ismail went on to become the founding principal of Newham Collegiate Sixth Form Center where he worked for eight years to establish a center of excellence whose aim was to raise the aspirations and opportunities of young people in the community.

He is currently the regional director and executive principal at Star Academies where he oversees six schools in the northwest of England.

The 44-year-old Briton of Moroccan and Indian heritage told Arab News he was thrilled to have been awarded an OBE for his services to education.

“Obviously, it was a shock and a surprise. No one goes into teaching or this profession for accolades or awards. So it was definitely an honor and a privilege to receive it,” Ismail said.

“Even though I received the award, it really is a team effort and it would not have been achieved if I didn’t have fantastic colleagues who showed strong loyalty over the years, who were dedicated and committed to social mobility, and who were tenacious.

“If an OBE could be shared, it would be shared among all of my colleagues at the NCS because none of it was possible without them, and also the students as they were fantastic,” he said.

“It was an absolute joy and privilege to be able to educate them and to be able to have a school like the NCS in Newham, which is the second most deprived borough in London, and to get recognition for it. I just think it’s brilliant for the whole community to have that.

“Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds need aspirational schools with adults who believe in them and don’t lower the standards.”

Source: Arab News

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New Israel Government Says Will Develop Tourism In Occupied West Bank


An aerial view shows the city of Jenin in the Israeli-occupied West Bank May 17, 2022. (File photo: Reuters)


02 January ,2023

The tourism minister of Israel’s new hardline government on Sunday promised to invest in developing the West Bank, calling the occupied area “our local Tuscany.”

Haim Katz made the comments days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government took office, promising in its coalition guidelines to make West Bank settlement construction a top priority.

His coalition includes far-right settler leaders in top posts.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war and has built dozens of illegal settlements that are now home to roughly 500,000 Israelis.

The Palestinians say the entire area as part of a future independent state and consider the settlements illegal — a position that is widely shared by the international community.

Israel’s commitment to deepening its control of the West Bank has threatened to put it on a collision course with some of its closest allies.

At a ceremony Sunday, Katz said he would channel resources to promote tourism in the West Bank.

“We will invest in areas that may not have received sufficient support to date,” he said.

“For example, our local Tuscany in Judea and Samaria,” he added, using the biblical term for the West Bank favored by religious and right-wing Israelis.

The West Bank settler community has developed a small tourism sector that includes hotels, bed and breakfasts and wineries.

Israel considers these industries to be part of the country’s broader tourism sector, while international human rights groups have said they deepen control of occupied territory.

Airbnb in 2018 said it would bar listings in the Israeli settlements, but it quickly backed down under heavy Israeli pressure. Last year, said it was adding warnings to its listings there.

On Friday, the UN General Assembly asked the UN’s highest judicial body to give its opinion on the legality of Israeli policies in the occupied West Bank.

Netanyahu called the resolution “disgraceful” and said Israel is not obligated to cooperate with the International Court of Justice.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Arab World


‘Diriyah Nights’ music festival kicks off in Riyadh

January 01, 2023

RIYADH: Diriyah is welcoming local and foreign visitors for evenings of Arabic music, culture and food at the “Diriyah Nights” festival.

The historical town is a prominent heritage site and a global destination for the organization of the most famous international tournaments, events and activities.

Diriyah Nights offers activities for all ages including artistic performances, live music and delicious food prepared by high-quality restaurants and cafes. There will also be trucks serving food and local beverages.

Stars of Saudi Arabia and the wider Arab world will be brought together at the festival for evenings of authentic Arabic music.

The events are part of the second year of “Diriyah Season,” which began in October with several sporting and cultural events that have been enjoyed by thousands of local and international visitors.

Diriyah Season is running until the start of the Spanish Super Cup football tournament, which will be held from Jan. 11 to 15, and involve Real Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Real Betis.

Source: Arab News

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ISIS says it carried deadly attack in Egypt Suez Canal city of Ismailia

01 January ,2023

ISIS said Saturday that it carried out a deadly attack on an Egyptian police checkpoint in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia the previous day.

“A cell of soldiers of the caliphate managed to attack an Egyptian police roadblock... with a machine gun,” the terrorist group’s Amaq news agency said.

Three Egyptian policemen were killed in the attack, the first of its kind in nearly three years in mainland Egypt, which has largely been spared the deadly insurgency in the nearby Sinai peninsula.

In the past few years, attacks against Egyptian security forces have been concentrated in the Sinai, where terrorists affiliated with ISIS operate.

Eleven soldiers were killed on May 7 in an attack in western Sinai.

Days later, another five soldiers and seven terrorists died when the army was attacked in the peninsula.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Lebanese naval forces rescue about 200 migrants after boat sinks

31 December ,2022

Lebanese naval forces carried out rescue operations on Saturday after the sinking of a boat transporting about 200 would-be migrants, the army said on Twitter.

Separately, state TV tweeted that initial information was that the boat had been carrying people from Lebanon, Syria and Palestinian territories.

The army said the boat had carried people who had tried to illegally cross Lebanese territorial waters, adding that three naval vessels escorted by a UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) vessel arrived at the site of the sinking, off the coast of Selaata, north of Beirut, and proceeded to rescue about 200 people.

It gave no further details.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Grand Mosque welcomes young visitors for educational tours


January 01, 2023

MAKKAH: Groups of children took part in a tour around the Grand Mosque on Saturday organized by the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques.

The youngsters, from the Al-Fikr and Al-Mawaheb Center and Al-Abna Al-Nujabaa School Center, were shown the Kaaba and performed Tawaf.

According to Noof Housawi, from the presidency’s media affairs agency, the tour was designed to be an educational experience for the children.

“The sessions include etiquette for entering the Grand Mosque, stories about the prophets and interactive activities to enrich the children’s knowledge and advance the educational system for females.”

The female reciter of the Book and Sunnah led sessions on the recitation of Surat Al-Fatihah, while mentioning its virtues and importance, as well as listening to the recitation of the Surah by the students.

“The General Department of Women’s Public Relations is contacting external entities to achieve community partnership, strengthen relationship bonds and build communication bridges … as well as introduce children to the features of the Grand Mosque,” Housawi told Arab News.

“Children are being taught simplified lessons on the etiquette of entering all mosques in general and the Grand Mosque in particular, the stories of the prophets, how to take the sermon notes and the lesson behind each story,” she added.

“They are also provided with information on Islamic ethics and how they were glorified by the Prophet and his companions. The students are also encouraged to take part in interactive activities designed to develop their skills.”

Ibrahim Obeidan, professor of student activities in Makkah education, said the community partnerships were a great way for young people to learn.

“The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques provides valuable models in teaching male and female students diverse supreme Islamic morals and values,” he said.

While schools conduct field trips to mosques, museums and historical sites, Makkah students have the chance to participate in activities related to the service of pilgrims and Umrah performers, he added.

Source: Arab News

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Kuwait authorities intercept $14.5 million worth of illegal drugs

January 02, 2023

DUBAI: Kuwaiti authorities have foiled attempts to smuggle drugs into the country, state news agency KUNA reported.

The prohibited substances were 1.2 million Captagon pills, 250kg of hashish and 104kg of crystal meth which, based on the 2019 price report of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, had a street value of at least $14.5 million.

Source: Arab News

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Southeast Asia


Do More To Pressure Afghan Govt To Uphold The Basic Rights Of Its Women And Girls, Suhakam Tells Putrajaya

December 29, 2022

PETALING JAYA: Suhakam has called on the government to leverage its position as a United Nations Human Rights Council member to urge Afghanistan to uphold the basic rights of its women and girls.

Suhakam chairman Rahmat Mohamad said Putrajaya can also leverage Malaysia’s position as a member state of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to encourage the Afghan administration to govern in an inclusive and respectful manner.

On Tuesday, Afghanistan’s Taliban-run higher education ministry suspended access to universities for female students until further notice, prompting global outrage and protests in some Afghan cities.

Rahmat said excluding women from acquiring education was a form of systematic discrimination and a clear violation of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw), of which Afghanistan is a member.

“Such a move also violates Article 9 of the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam (CDHRI), which guarantees equal access to education to everyone, including women.

“The CDHRI is adopted by the OIC countries and is constructed based on the teaching of Islam,” he said in a statement today.

Rahmat said Suhakam also supported higher education minister Khaled Nordin’s call for his Afghan counterpart to reconsider Kabul’s move to ban women from its institutions of higher learning.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Forget politicians, let academics helm education ministries, says Maszlee

Mohamad Fadli

December 30, 2022

BANGI: Former education minister Maszlee Malik said politicians should not be appointed to fill the posts of education and higher education ministers after the next general election.

He said these positions should be filled by academics instead, adding that they would be in a better position to determine the direction of the ministries.

“If possible, let academics fill those two roles. It would be better not to have politicians lead those ministries, just like how it’s done in Indonesia.

“Appoint academics into those roles as they are more knowledgeable (in the field). Not those who are after positions just for the sake of it,” he said during a public policy seminar in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).

Currently, the higher education ministry is helmed by Umno vice-president Khaled Nordin and the education ministry by Wanita PKR chief Fadhlina Sidek.

The former Simpang Renggam MP was education minister under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, from May 2018 to January 2020. He was also a former lecturer with the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM).

He failed to retain the seat in the recent general election (GE15).

Maszlee also said that academia should not be “hijacked” by politicians and urged academics not to become the “mouthpiece” of political parties.

“As intellectuals, academics should be the guiding light for society. They should not be controlled by those in power,” he said.

Mazlee added that he hoped the unity government would give autonomy to institutions of higher learning to contribute ideas and provide real solutions to issues affecting the nation.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Federal Territories Islamic council allocates RM6m to assist flood victims

28 Dec 2022

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 28 — The Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP) has allocated RM6 million to help flood victims, especially in the east coast states.

MAIWP chairman, Tan Sri Mohd Daud Bakar, said of the total allocation, RM1 million will be channelled to the state Islamic Religious Councils in Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang.

He said that another RM2 million has been allocated for the flood relief mission and to provide items such as electric water jugs, mats, batik and pelikat sarongs, as well as cleaning tools.

Meanwhile, RM1 million was channelled in the form of food baskets and prayer kits, via the Musa'adah Squad, an agency under the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs), Senator Datuk Dr Mohd Na'im Mokhtar.

“The allocation of RM6 million is zakat (tithe) money collected from zakat payers, and we are grateful to all of them,” he told reporters after the presentation of MAIWP INSANI Squad vests at Darul Kifayah MAIWP, Batu Caves here, today.

At the same time, MAIWP has also mobilised its INSANI Squad to Kelantan and Terengganu, starting today until Friday (Dec 30).

Mohd Daud said a total of 108 MAIWP officers, as well as from MAIWP subsidiaries and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), were involved in distributing aid to the recipients, which included 1,500 flood victims in each affected state.

“At the initial stage, there may be a lot of support, but post-flood, it requires energy and manpower for those affected, especially to clean the house and try to restore it to its original state.

Source: Malay Mail

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North America


US to keep close ties with India, Pakistan

Anwar Iqbal

January 2, 2023

WASHINGTON: The US budget for 2023 has two small but significant provisions for Pakistan, including $15 million for improving security along the Afghan border and an unspecified amount of funds to promote gender equality in the country.

The first pledge underlines Washington’s desire to help Islamabad curb terrorist attacks from Afghanistan that have become a major threat for Pakistan.

The second, an unspecified amount from a $200m fund set aside to promote gender equality, indicates the possibility of further US engagement in social developments.

As 2022 ends, one thing is obvious: neither the United States nor Pakistan are seeking the revival of an all-embracing relationship that existed during the Cold War, the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and in the war against terror. Instead, both are looking for a stable relationship based on “shared concerns” and interests, as the US State Department said at a recent news briefing.

“The government of Pakistan is a partner when it comes to these shared concerns, including the challenge of terrorist groups inside Afghanistan… terrorist groups along the Afghan-Pakistan border… we stand ready to assist, whether with this unfolding situation or other situations,” the department’s spokesperson Ned Price had said.

During a visit to the US Congress earlier this month, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari told Dawn that senior US lawmakers had also expressed their desire to “help Pakistan enhance border security to prevent cross-border attacks from Afghanistan”.

This underlines a growing consensus between the US and Pakistan on discouraging terrorism, but there are areas where their interests do not align, particularly on India and China.

At several briefings during 2022, US officials hailed India as a “global partner” while acknowledging that Pakistan too was a key partner in a sensitive region.

In doing so, US officials made it clear that this was “not a zero sum” game, which would have required Washington to have a relationship with either India or Pakistan. Instead, they insisted that Washington would like to continue its ties with both.

The Americans, however, also realise the limitations of their influence on India, stating that they cannot use this influence to persuade New Delhi to do something it does not want to do. They made it obvious that they cannot force Delhi to change its position on India-held Kashmir.

Another major issue on which the US and Pakistan disagree with each other is that of China.

In 2022, the Biden administration issued its national security strategy, which identified China as the “biggest geopolitical challenge” for the US and sought global support for reversing China’s growing influence.

In his introductory note for the US National Defence Strategy 2022, Defence Secretary Lloyd J. Austin said that Washington was seeking a major defence partnership with India to enhance its ability to deter China’s “aggression” and ensure free and open access to the Indian Ocean region.

Source: Dawn

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Turkish foreign minister meets counterparts from Gabon, Brazil, Guatemala

Dilara Hamit


The Turkish foreign minister on Saturday discussed bilateral relations with his counterparts from Gabon, Brazil and Guatemala.

In a Twitter post, Mevlut Cavusoglu said he met with Michael Moussa-Adamo, the foreign minister of Gabon, and discussed economic, defense relations and cooperation between the ministries.

The Turkish foreign minister also met with his Brazilian counterpart Mauro Vieira.

Mario Bucaro, Guatemala's foreign minister, and Cavusoglu also held a meeting in Brazil, and discussed economic, defense and cultural relations.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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France’s Moderate Imam Sees Israel as a Dream, Europe as in Peril



For more than a few years, French Imam Hassen Chalghoumi has been an outspoken critic of radical Islam, a position that has earned him praise but also censure, hostility and even death threats – resulting in stringent security measures for the Tunisian-born cleric in his adoptive country.

None of that has stopped him in his determination to be a voice for what he calls “the silent majority” of Muslims, whose opposition to Islamist tenets is drowned out by the howls of extremists.

On his visit to Israel last week (“Not my first and not my last”), he sat down with The Media Line in the Knesset in Jerusalem for a wide-ranging conversation on extremism, coexistence, Europe’s future and the dangers of unfettered social media.

The tall, broad-shouldered giant of a man wearing a pristine white taqiyah, dark navy suit and a firmly friendly smile dwarfs everyone else in the bustling parliamentary cafeteria as he takes his seat, flanked by a pair of translators. Chalghoumi is hard to miss, and that is before one is exposed to his natural charm.

The 51-year-old cleric is a self-avowed Israel enthusiast, seeing the country as what it insists is true about itself: a bastion of peaceful coexistence.

“Just in this small room [where the interview took place], you hear people talking in Arabic and in Hebrew, talking of peace – salaam, shalom – and it’s a dream,” he tells The Media Line. “In Europe it is difficult to see such things as we can find here.”

Even the troubled, divided city outside the Knesset, the scene of repeated violence between Jews and Arabs, is met with approbation.

“Jerusalem, that link for the three religions, from the past to the future,” Chalghoumi marvels. “There is a magnificent mosaic of people here.”

While this 24-hour visit may not afford any time for travel within Israel (the interview is conducted at the Knesset to dovetail with his schedule), Chalghoumi has already explored a great deal of the country.

He has visited the Galilee in the north – where, the imam says with a smile and in lowered tones, he even got to see inside a Hizbullah tunnel on the Lebanese frontier – and down to the Gaza border in the south. His travels in southern Israel included Kibbutz Nativ Haasara and the city of Sderot, two frequent targets for rocket strikes out of the adjacent Hamas-ruled coastal enclave.

The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, he says, must end in talks and treaties. “They have to negotiate in order to live together because it’s a fact and it’s not too late,” Chalghoumi states.

He has a message for the Palestinians: “For your stability, you need accords” with Israel. “We Muslims, we have the right to have peace and accords with Israel… and we need peace with Israel,” he says.

“Al-Aqsa Mosque [in Jerusalem] is for all Muslims and not only for Palestinians. I don’t need the authorization of the Palestinian Authority to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Chalghoumi has visited Israeli settlers in the West Bank, often blamed for the parlous state of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. There he met with Yael Shevach, a mother of six and widow of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, who was murdered in January 2018 in a West Bank terror attack.

The imam has nothing but disdain for Shevach’s Palestinian killer, whom, he says, “pretended to be a good Muslim,” and high praise for his widow.

“I admire her courage. She did not make a connection between Islam and terrorism when she talked to me,” he says. “She was courageous, she made the distinction, and she had no hate for me. It is not easy.”

That ability to differentiate, Chalghoumi laments, is far less present in France, where, he says, “a lot of people think a Muslim is a terrorist.”

He references the far-right leaders Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour as examples of this mindset. The latter was knocked out in the first round of voting in the recent elections for French president and went on to endorse Le Pen in her ultimately unsuccessful run-off vote against Emmanuel Macron.

Le Pen once compared public Muslim prayers to the Nazi occupation, while Zemmour said in 2021 that the district of Seine-Saint-Denis – where Chalghoumi’s own home is situated – was a “foreign enclave under the reign of Allah.”

Even so, Chalghoumi says, the far left “is more dangerous than Marine Le Pen,” as its members “are accomplices to the Islamists.”

“They want to import the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to France,” the imam charges. “They are spreading the hate of Israel. They destroyed the Muslim youth through the speech of victimization.”

Yet Chalghoumi is certain that the extremists in his community are the minority.

“Part of my community – and I hate them – use Islam to carry out terror attacks, like in Toulouse, in Brussels,” Chalghoumi says, referencing two assaults on Jewish targets that claimed multiple lives.

“Unfortunately, these people are causing a lot of hate against us. Unfortunately, the majority of Muslims don’t speak out about this. They don’t express their true beliefs because they are afraid,” he says.

“They see the life of Chalghoumi, who has death threats and is protected by police every day and they don’t want to have the same life.”

Part of the fault, according to the imam, lies with the politicians who “from left to right are not tough enough with the Islamists in France.”

So as Chalghoumi finds himself stuck in the middle between far-right hatred and far-left hatred, the target of death threats and surrounded by security night and day, is it worth it? Yes, he insists.

“Sometimes when I walk around in France some people insult me, but some people are supportive,” he says. “I am threatened with death, but I also get letters [of support]. In the Sufi vision of Islam, two people making peace can change the face of the world.”

Furthermore, he says, France “is a very nice country” to live in.

“There are 2,050 mosques in France. France has given me the freedom of speech and freedom of faith. The most important community for Muslims in the Western world is France – and for Jews, also.”

Muslims make up around 7% of the total French population, with a community of some 5 million. Jews comprise approximately 1% of the population, with a community of around half a million. Real numbers are unclear as France does not collect official data on its citizens’ race, ethnicity or religion.

The imam is a strong proponent of the Abraham Accords, signed in 2020 between Israel and Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

“My dream,” he says simply. He argues that “things are changing” due to the accords, even as he admits that for some regimes, like the one in Iran, Israel will be the perennial enemy.

“You always have day and night – you have the axis of good and you have the axis of evil,” Chalghoumi says.

According to him, the axis of good includes Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco, while the axis of evil includes Qatar, Iran and Turkey. The latter is included because of the presence of the Muslim Brotherhood – or as he calls it, “the brother of the devil,” sliding from French into English for emphasis.

“If it were not for the Muslim Brotherhood, all Muslims would be brothers,” the imam claims, adding that “the Iranian regime is a diabolical regime that is making Islam into an instrument for political reasons.”

With Iran and allies encouraging the radicalization of young Muslims, Chalghoumi believes that a treaty similar to the Abraham Accords could ameliorate the racial tensions in Europe.

“We need these accords more than the Israelis and Arabs,” he says, citing the murder of three Kurds at a cultural center in central Paris in December.

“There is a risk of confrontation between communities [and] unfortunately yes we need this accord for the future… for the new generation for education, for religion, for understanding between people – it is very important.”

A major part of that lack of understanding, he says, is down to social media.

“Social media is responsible for 80% of radical Islamists,” he says. “Google, Twitter, Facebook, all of them – j’accuse!”

The social media platforms also come under his censure for “for the demonization of Israel.” A similar point was made last week in the annual antisemitism report by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, when its director of global social action, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, called the free availability of social media “a bonanza for extremists.”

“We are not active enough on social media. We have to denounce every bad action and be present on social media,” warns Chalghoumi.

“With the economic crisis, someone has to be held responsible and that is the minorities and so antisemitism and racism will grow in Europe. It is not very positive in Europe but that means there is a lot of work to do,” he says.

And despite this dire forecast, Imam Chalghoumi is determined.

Source: The Media Line

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Croatian writer’s novel “On the Roads of Persia” launched at Sisak Islamic center

January 1, 2023

Dar, who is also known as Yasmina Mehic, Sisak’s main imam Alem Crnkic and a group of Croatian cultural figures attended the book launch, the Persian service of MNA reported on Sunday.

During the meeting, Dar answered questions from the audience and said, “Moderation in philosophy and culture is a souvenir from Iranian history, literature and art, and accordingly, I should say that the Orient is closer to our culture.”   

Crnkic also said that such social gatherings are organized with the aim of expanding people’s horizons and their understanding of the beauty of life through the culture, art and literature of other nations.

For his part, host Harun Tankovic said that traveling and learning about different people, cultures and countries help develop people’s personalities and raise their knowledge of different issues.

He expressed his happiness as the newly-established Islamic center dedicated its first social meeting to launching a book carrying a story about Iran.

“On the Roads of Persia” was originally published by the Croatian publishing house Cekape on June 15, 2022.

Dar has written the novel based on her visit to Iran in 2018. Her visit was focused mainly on Iranian cities such as Tabriz, Isfahan and Shiraz. Accordingly, the novel is somewhat of a travelogue of Iran.

The book was first launched at the library of the Zagreb municipality during a special meeting attended by Dar, Iranian Ambassador Parviz Esmaeili and dozens of Croatian literati.

Source: Tehran Times

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New Danish coalition eyes border relaxation with changes in asylum rules

Ebad Ahmed  



A new left-right coalition took charge in Denmark after intense negotiations that lasted 43 days after the last elections that gave a narrow majority to the Social Democratic party of Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.

Joining the new government with Frederiksen, who headed a period of political smooth sailing with her one-party government in the last term, are two center-right parties: The Liberal Party and newly formed Moderates.

The coalition partners unveiled a working agreement "Ansvar for Danmark (Responsibility for Denmark)" that outlined their plans as the government.

The agreement includes measures on the future status of foreign residents in the country, including Syrian refugees, as well as a "re-worded" form of a controversial Rwanda asylum plan also adopted by the UK.

Immigration amendments

Ostensibly to cater to the rising right, the previous Danish government revoked residence permits of mostly young Syrian women refugees on the grounds that it was now allegedly safe for them to return to the Damascus area.

According to data released by the European Commission in June 2022, at least 34,000 Syrian refugees were granted permits to stay in Denmark since the war in Syria broke out in 2011.

The new agreement of the coalition members triggered a wave of criticism from rights groups over reports that it would renew Syrian refugees' residence permits who are "educated in areas where there is a labour shortage."

Nikolas Feith Tan, a senior researcher at the Danish Institute for Human Rights, argued that views on Syrian refugees had shifted, especially about young Syrian women studying nursing.

Tan said the new Danish government was now essentially trying to carve out exceptions to this paradigm shift on temporary protection.

Refugees that can show that they are contributing and filling gaps in Denmark's economy now have higher chances of staying in the country than before the new government was formed, he explained, though adding caution to his optimism by saying: "It is not a shift entirely back to giving full protection and rights to the Syrian refugees."

Visas for skilled foreign workers

While an exception is being carved out in the country for Syrian refugees, at the same time, in a bid to make Denmark more attractive for skilled foreign workers to foster "good conditions for growth and competitiveness and to promote foreign investment," the agreement introduces similar plans for the government to "relax access to foreign labour for as long as unemployment is low."

"In addition to this, the government will introduce a scheme with lower pay limits for certified companies which are encompassed by controlled wage and working conditions," it says. There will be an annual quota of work permits under the scheme, which is to be reviewed every two years.

"This will, under controlled conditions, give access to additional labour," it added.

Expanding further on the same domain, the new Danish government plans to establish at least 500 vocational English-language masters degree programs in targeted areas that have a high demand for labor.

A "dialogue with universities" will "seek to increase the number of international students within defined areas where Danish companies need highly educated labour," it says.

Rwanda asylum re-worded

Rights groups paid particular attention to the Social Democrats' controversial Rwanda asylum plans that aim to move part of Denmark's refugee system offshore to Rwanda, as announced in 2021.

While the new government said it preferred to implement the plan in partnership with the EU, the plan has currently little or no support from within the bloc.

Prime Minister Fredrikson said Denmark could "ultimately" ink a bilateral agreement with Rwanda to open a center resembling a facility planned by the UK in the East African country to send people seeking asylum in Britain while their applications are being processed.

That scheme drew criticism from lawmakers, both within and outside the ruling Conservative Party, as well as charities and even the Church of England.

In Denmark, however, experts dismiss this ambition as far from reality.

Eva Singer, the director of the division of asylum and refugee rights of the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) has expressed her doubt about the practicality of the scheme.

"Denmark is not going to do it on its own. It wants to try to do it together with other EU countries. And other EU countries cannot do it because it is contrary to EU law.

"It has just been very clear to the government that this is not going to take place. In reality, it is too complicated if you want to abide by international law," said Singer.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Netanyahu says Israel not bound by ‘despicable’ UN vote

31 December ,2022

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday said a United Nations General Assembly vote asking the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to provide an opinion on Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories was “despicable.”

“The Jewish people are not occupiers on their own land nor occupiers in our eternal capital Jerusalem and no UN resolution can warp that historical truth,” he said in a video message.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran's Air Defence Systems Tested Successfully in Military Exercises


The massive military exercise began early on Friday with the key motto of “self-confidence, power, sustainable security” in an area stretching from the Eastern sector of the strategic Strait of Hormuz to the Northern tip of the Indian Ocean.

Iran’s Army put to test its advanced missile defense systems, which successfully intercepted and destroyed intruding aircraft on the third day of large-scale wargames off the country’s Southern coasts.

In the early hours of Sunday, the third day of ‘Zolfaqar 140’ maneuvers, the radars of the Mersad air defense system detected a hostile drone approaching the Iranian territory and successfully shot it down at an altitude of 25,000 feet and 150 kilometers from the country’s airspace.

Mersad is a mobile missile shield whose range of interception has been upgraded from 110 to 150 kilometers. It’s capable of being deployed in 7 minutes and changing its location right after firing missiles at enemy targets.

The Qadir radar system has also carried out a similar mission. The system, equipped with phased array technology, cannot be traced and destroyed by anti-radar missiles.

During the main stage of the drills, the army forces practiced downing hostile drones with various radar systems.

The low-altitude "Majid" air defense missile system and "Khatam" artillery fire control system were employed to detect, intercept and hit the aerial targets over the wargames zone.

The Iranian Army has also fired the indigenous Khordad 15 air defense system during the exercise.

Iranian military officials say the country's air defense units are at the highest level of preparedness to defend Iran against any possible aggression by enemies.

Iranian military officials underline that the country's deterrence power has made the enemies more cautious in their moves, underscoring that all their interests and equipment are within range of Tehran's weapons. They warned Iran is capable of targeting the enemy’s vital and sensitive interests all over the place in case it has ill intentions.

Back in August, Commander of the Iranian Army Air Defense Force Brigadier General Alireza Sabahifard underlined the country's high military capabilities and deterrence power, and said that the country's Air Defense Force is able to monitor even the slightest movements of enemies within the range of 3,000km.

“The Air Defense Force of the Islamic Republic of Iran has taken important measures in recent years to increase national security,” Brigadier General Sabahifard stated.

“Today, the Air Defense Force is equipped with detection and identification systems such as radars with a range of 3,000 kilometers, which is rare in the world," he noted.

“Now we have reached a point where we proudly announce that all the equipment and systems used in the Air Defense Force of the Islamic Iranian Army are made by genius Iranian youths and we do not use any foreign equipment,” the top commander added.

He warned the enemies any violation of Iranian airspace will be met with a ‘tough and destructive response’, adding the enemies could never imagine our deterrence power would reach this level.

“If the enemies could hit us, they would make the Islamic Republic of Iran’s airspace unsafe, whereas they never can, and this is due to the deterrence power of the armed forces and the existing military equipment,” Sabahifard stressed.

Military officials say the military power of Iran is strong, extraordinary and deterrent despite enemy sanctions and pressures, and hail the country's defense sector for its remarkable developments in the recent decades. They stress the Iranian Armed Forces’ deterrent power dissuades the United States and Israel from implementing its threats against the country.

The Islamic Republic’s military doctrine holds that the country’s armed capability solely serves defensive purposes.

Iranian military experts and technicians have in recent years made substantial headway in manufacturing a broad range of indigenous equipment, making the armed forces self-sufficient in the weaponry sphere.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Israel’s military kills two Palestinians, including teen, in West Bank

02 January ,2023

The Israeli military shot dead two Palestinians, including a 17-year-old, near the occupied West Bank city of Jenin early on Monday, Palestinian sources said.

A statement from the Israeli military confirmed soldiers were operating in the area in order to demolish the home of assailants Israel says were involved in the killing of an Israeli soldier last year.

The statement did not confirm the fatalities.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran police detain top-tier football players in raid at party

01 January ,2023

Iranian police briefly detained several unidentified top-tier football players in a raid on a party on New Year’s Eve where alcohol was served in violation of a ban, Iranian media reported.

Mingling between sexes outside marriage and drinking alcohol are banned under Iran’s Islamic laws. Social restrictions are among issues that prompted mass unrest in recent months, following the death in custody of a woman accused of violating the strict dress code.

The semi-official news agency Tasnim said several current players and former members of an unidentified top Tehran soccer club had been detained at the party east of the capital.

“Some of the players were in an abnormal state due to alcohol consumption,” Tasnim reported, without giving further details.

The YJC news agency said the gathering was a birthday party, and added that all those detained had been released except one person, who is not a soccer player. Fars news agency cited a prosecutor as saying a case had been filed against those who had been detained, and details would be released later.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Yemeni leader vows to defeat Houthis and repair broken country


January 01, 2023

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s leader has promised to liberate his country from the Houthis, pay public wages and restore deteriorating public services in his new year message.

“Your armed and security forces, popular resistance, and patriotic alignment will remain our exemplar for restoring the state, putting a stop to the coup, and defending the republican system,” said Rashad Al-Alimi, the chairman of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council, in a message on Twitter.

He said that the council, with the assistance of the Arab coalition headed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, will prioritize promoting harmony and collaboration between diverse Yemeni forces to restore peace to Yemen.

Al-Alimi went back on a previous statement that his government would be unable to pay government salaries due to Houthi assaults on oil infrastructure, and reassured the public that the council would attempt to secure regular salary payments.

“We reiterate our resolve to continue our efforts to relieve the suffering caused by the terrorist Houthi militia supported by Iran, including the regular payment of wages to civil and military personnel, diplomatic missions, and state-funded students in compliance with comprehensive government reforms.”

The eight-member presidential council came to power in April when former President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi stepped down.

Yemenis say that previous guarantees by the Yemeni government and the presidential council have not resulted in any changes on the ground in the freed provinces, as they continue to complain about rising costs, a depreciating currency, and severe and worsening power cuts.

The Yemeni riyal began the new year falling further against the dollar, extending a week of declines against other currencies for the first time in many months.

Traders said on Sunday that the Yemeni riyal was trading at 1,230 per dollar, down from 1,200 last week, following an official announcement on a full stop to oil shipments, the country’s principal source of income.

Unlike past years during winter, Al-Mukalla, Aden, and other government-controlled cities have experienced long periods without power.

Public workers say that their wages have not increased since 2011 and have lost 200 percent of their worth owing to the fast depreciation of the riyal and rising inflation.

Meanwhile, on the first day of the new year, fighting subsided in Taiz, Hodeidah, Marib and other provinces.

The calm came almost two days after fierce fighting between government forces and the Houthis in the southern province of Dhale left scores of combatants dead or injured on one of the worst days since the breakdown of the UN-brokered truce in October.

Separately, a Houthi-run court in Sanaa condemned three teachers from the province of Mahwet to death on espionage accusations on Saturday, the latest in a series of death sentences against hundreds of people.

Abdul Majeed Sabra, a Yemeni defense lawyer based in Sanaa, told Arab News on Sunday that his clients who were abducted in 2015 from their home province Mahwet for allegedly collaborating with the Yemeni government and the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen.

They were sentenced in the capital’s Specialized Criminal Court.

Last month, a Houthi court sentenced 16 Yemenis to death for collaborating with the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen and the militia’s Yemeni adversaries.

Source: Arab News

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Islamic Jihad: Palestinians not afraid of new Israeli cabinet

01 January 2023

Islamic Jihad says it will continue resistance against Israel until the full liberation of the occupied al-Quds, reiterating that the Palestinians are not afraid of the occupying regime’s new far-right cabinet.

Tariq Salmi, the Islamic Jihad spokesman, made the remarks on Sunday, after Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet, the most right-wing in the regime's history, was sworn in, according to Arabic-language al-Ahad television network. “In the New Year, we will continue our fight in the occupied cities of Jenin, Quds, Nablus, and the entire West Bank and we will continue until the liberation of al-Quds.”

He said Islamic Jihad fears neither Israel’s “fascist” cabinet nor its military’s threats.

Salmi said the “events of the past year will be remembered and the path of all those Palestinians who were killed will remain an incentive to continue the struggle against the Israeli regime.”

On Thursday, Netanyahu was sworn in as prime minister, with his cabinet promising to expand settlements in the occupied West Bank and pursue other anti-Palestinian policies. Netanyahu was ousted in June 2021 by a motley coalition of leftists, centrists and Arab parties headed by right-winger Naftali Bennett and former TV news anchor Yair Lapid. It didn’t take him long to come back.

Following his November 1 election win, Netanyahu entered into talks with ultra-Orthodox and extreme-right parties. His allies include the Religious Zionism formation and Jewish Power Party, whose leaders Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir oppose Palestinian statehood and both have a history of inflammatory remarks about the Palestinians. Smotrich will now take charge of Israeli settlement expansion policies in the West Bank, and Ben-Gvir will be the ‘national security’ minister with powers over the police, which have operated in the occupied territories since 1967.

Senior officials have already voiced concern over the new Israeli direction.

Source: Press TV

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South Asia


10 Killed, 8 Hurt In An Explosion That Rocked The Kabul Military Airport Blast

Jan 2, 2023

KABUL: At least 10 people were killed and eight others seriously injured in an explosion that rocked the Kabul military airport on Sunday. Abdul Nafee Takkur, a spokesman for the Taliban interior ministry, said an explosion caused injuries close to the airport's main gate in Kabul. No one has taken responsibility for the attack., even as the regional affiliate of the Islamic State group - known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province - has increased its attacks since the Taliban takeover in 2021. Targets have included Taliban patrols and members of Afghanistan's Shia minority.

The military airport is around 200 metres from the civilian airport and close to the interior ministry, itself the site of a suicide bombing last October that killed at least four people. Interior ministry spokesman Abdul said the blast left several people dead and wounded. He gave no exact figures or further information about the bombing, saying details of an investigation will be shared later. However, Khaama Press, citing the Taliban interior ministry spokesperson, reported that at least 10 people have been killed and eight others seriously injured.

Source: Times Of India

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UN Representative Meets Dy. PM Over Women’s Rights In Afghanistan

By Fidel Rahmati

January 2, 2023

A senior United Nations official in Afghanistan met with the deputy prime minister of the acting government in Kabul on Sunday. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss a ban on women working for NGOs.

The Decision mandated that all the country’s international and domestic non-governmental organizations stopped employing women and stated that they did not follow the Islamic Hijab. This came after banning girls’ students from attending middle and high school, then universities, and working in most professions.

This has resulted in the Suspension of operations in the country by major international assistance organizations. Concerns have been made regarding the possibility that people may be deprived of food, education, healthcare, and other essential services due to the embargo. According to UN officials, more than half of the population in Afghanistan is in immediate need of humanitarian assistance.

While growing international concern over the current regime’s restrictions on women’s rights in Afghanistan, Potzel is the most recent representative from the United Nations to meet with Taliban officials.

According to the statement made by the United Nations mission in Afghanistan, “preventing the delivery of essential aid to Afghan men, women, and children by prohibiting women from working in non-governmental organizations and denying girls and women access to education and training harms millions of people in Afghanistan.”

Meanwhile, the UN survey recently showed that approximately one-third of the NGOs in Afghanistan are led by women and have been forced to stop all their activities. In contrast, another third have been forced to stop 70% of their operations due to the ban.

Source: Khaama Press

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China Interested to Invest in Afghanistan’s Energy Sector

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

January 1, 2023

China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) is interested to invest in the construction of water storage dams and energy production projects in Afghanistan.

The head of CRBC and a number of technical officials of this company met with Abdul Latif Mansoor, the Acting Minister of Energy and Water of the Taliban administration in Tashkent. The two sides discussed the possible investment opportunities in the construction of water dams and energy production projects in Afghanistan.

Mr. Mansoor expressed his optimism about Chinese investors in the country and added that they will provide investment opportunities for foreign investors across different fields including energy, construction, information technology, mining, and more.

Meanwhile, the minister assured CRBC of ensuring the security of Chinese citizens and investors in the country. “Afghanistan’s security institutions are fully committed to ensuring the security of foreign investors and companies in all corners of the country,” Mansoor said.

This comes as security remains a major challenge for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan regime. Several suicide attacks and bombings have occurred in different parts of the country over the past couple of weeks, causing to the death and injury of scores of people.

The terror attack in a Chinese-run hotel in the capital Kabul in December resulted in the injury of several Chinese nationals – forcing them to leave the country immediately.

Source: Khaama Press

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Taliban seeks economic self-sufficiency and foreign investment for Afghanistan -minister

2 January, 2023

By Mohammad Yunus Yawar

KABUL (Reuters) – The Taliban administration will encourage self-sufficiency and wants international trade and investment, the acting commerce minister said, as Afghanistan faces isolation and suspension of some humanitarian operations over restrictions on women.

“We will start a national self-sufficiency programme, we will encourage all government administrations to use domestic products, we will also try to encourage people through mosques to support our domestic products” Haji Nooruddin Azizi told Reuters. “We will support any item which can help us for self-sufficiency.”

Another part of their strategy was to boost trade and foreign investment, he said.

“Those who were importing items to Afghanistan from abroad, they are asking us to provide opportunities for investing in Afghanistan and they want to invest here instead of importing from abroad,” he said.

He said that countries including Iran, Russia and China were interested in trade and investment. He said some of the projects under discussion were Chinese industrial parks and thermal power plants, with involvement from Russia and Iran.

Already facing a lack of formal recognition and sanctions hampering the country’s banking sector, investors are faced with growing security concerns after attacks on foreign targets in Kabul, claimed by the Islamic State.

An attack on a hotel catering to Chinese businessmen this month, which badly hurt several foreigners, could prompt some to re-think investing, a leading member of the Chinese business community has said.

Azizi said authorities were working to ensure security.

“We do our best for our businessmen to not come to harm. The attack hasn’t had any bad impact, (but) if it happened constantly, yes it might have bad impact,” he said, referring to the investment environment.

Azizi laid out a plan to develop industry by creating special economic zones on land previously used for U.S. military bases. He said his ministry was presenting the plan to the administration’s cabinet and economic commission.

He added that foreign investors were showing interest in Afghanistan’s mining sector, which has been valued at more than $1 trillion. He said that an iron mine in western Herat and a lead mine in central Ghor province had seen 40 companies take part in an auction and that the results would be announced soon.

He said that a major contract signed with Russia in September for the supply of gas, oil and wheat would see the delivery of the items to Afghanistan in coming days.

The Taliban-led administration is facing increased isolation over policies in recent days restricting women from access to public life, including attending university.

An order barring female NGO workers has thrown the humanitarian sector, which is providing urgent aid to millions of people, into disarray, with some organisations suspending operations in the middle of the harsh winter.

Azizi did not comment on the new restrictions but said his ministry had allocated 5 acres of land for a permanent exhibition centre and hub for women-led businesses.

“We always support women investors,” he said. (This story has been refiled to add full name of acting minister in paragraph 2)

Source: The Print

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Afraid of losing Muslim votes, CPM adopts faith-friendly image in Kerala

Jan 2, 2023

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: CPM state secretary M V Govindan has said the party is not against any religion or religious freedom and it will not interfere in the affairs of any religion. There will not be any anti-religious or anti-faith contents in the school curriculum, he said.

Govindan was speaking as part of a house visit programme launched by the party ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. "The party and the government will not take any step against the interests of believers or any religion. The government believes in bringing together all people from different religions. The government is a machinery that aims at making this happen. The home visit launched by the party is also aimed at creating a platform for this," he said.

The CPM state secretary had begun the house visit programme in the state capital by visiting houses in Puthanpally region of Ambalathara.

This visit should not be considered as just a preparation for the Lok Sabha polls. The party wants to know the people's opinion on the government and various issues. Now, those who came to meet me at the Arabic college at Puthanpally expressed their concern over the curriculum reforms being planned by the government, he said.

The government had drawn the ire of Muslim organisations following reports that it was promoting gender-neutral reforms in classrooms. "We are collecting opinions from people and the necessary rectification will be made both in the government and the party. It is a confidence-building measure; the government wants to bring together all sections of people," he said.

Govindan said it should be remembered that the RSS has proclaimed that the country will become a Hindu rashtra by 2025, which will be the 100th year of RSS formation. "If the BJP is given power for one more term, the country will witness a communal divide. Democracy and the Constitution will have no value if they come to power again. The CPM is trying to bring together all people to prevent this," he said.

Source: Times Of India

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Muslim Man Donates Blood To Save Life Of Ailing Hindu Baby In In Madhya Pradesh 1st January 2023

Chhatarpur: In a selfless act, a Muslim man donated blood to save the life of a 60-day-old baby boy suffering from anaemia in Madhya Pradesh’s Chhatarpur district.

When he received a phone call about the baby on Saturday, Rafat Khan, 36, did not hesitate even for a second and raced his motorcycle to the district hospital.

Khan was about to leave his house to offer namaz when he received a call about Vikas Gupta who was in desperate need A positive blood.

The baby suffered from anaemia, a condition caused due to deficiency of healthy red blood cells that carry adequate oxygen to body’s tissues.

“Without a second thought, I picked up my motorcycle and rushed to the district hospital to donate blood to the ailing child,” Khan told PTI on Sunday.

Khan said the baby’s father Jitendra, who is a resident of Manoria village, had contacted him after he failed to source blood and was cheated by a tout.

The tout allegedly took Rs 750 from Jitendra on the pretext of arranging for blood, he said.

Talking to PTI, Jitendra said, “My son’s condition has improved now after Khan donated blood. He came like an angel and donated blood with a smile when my child needed it desperately.”

Source: Siasat Daily

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Mathura dispute: Mosque panel likely to file plea against survey order today

Jan 02, 2023

By Hemendra Chaturvedi

Agra: The management committee of the Shahi Eidgah mosque adjoining the Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi temple in Mathura is expected to file an objection against a court order for a survey of the mosque when the court resumes work after the winter vacation on Monday.

A civil judge on December 8 had ordered the survey by court ameen, or staff designated by the court.

“We will move applications before the additional civil judge senior division (court no. 3) at Mathura on Monday,” Tanveer Ahmed, lawyer and secretary of the management committee of the mosque, said on Sunday. “These applications will include objections against the order dated December 8, 2022, when the court ordered a survey of the Shahi Eidgah Mosque by court ameen and now January 20, 2023, has been fixed as the next date in the case,”

The petitioners in the case are Vishnu Gupta, a Delhi-based president of Hindu Sena, a right-wing organisation, , and Surjit Singh Yadav, vice-president of the outfit and a resident of Gurugram in Haryana. Both have filed the case on behalf of Bhagwan Bal Krishna Virajman Thakur Keshav Dev Ji Maharaj, considered the personification of the deity Lord Krishna.

The petitioners have sought the shifting of the mosque, claiming that it was constructed on 13.37 acres of the Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi trust through an alleged demolition of a temple by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, the petitioners’ counsel Shailesh Dube had said on December 24.

“Such applications moved by Hindu petitioners seeking a survey of Shahi Eidgah mosque are pending in various other cases in different Mathura courts, but none of the courts passed an order allowing a survey. However, the additional civil judge senior division (court no. 3) at Mathura passed the order on the very first date of filing a fresh petition by office bearers of the Hindu Sena on December 8,” Ahmed said.

“On Monday, we will file our objections against the order for the survey of Shahi Eidgah Mosque and will apprise the court that the order was attained by the petitioner while misleading the court by stating incorrect facts and will thus pray for setting aside the order seeking the ameen’s report. Importantly, we were not even heard on the application moved in the fresh petition, as we are yet to receive the summons and appear in court,” Ahmed added.

The order for the survey of the site is on the pattern seen in the Gyanvapi mosque case in Varanasi and came to knowledge of the counsel of the Shahi Eidgah mosque on December 24, when winter vacation had begun.

“The order came while disposing application no. 9C moved by Hindu petitioners, who sought a spot survey report through court ameen, who was also asked to serve notice and copy of order on parties to the case,” Dube had said.

On December 8, the court ordered the ameen to conduct inspection of the site and submit a report along with a map of the spot. The petitioners were asked to take steps within three days of the order. The first date of hearing in the case was December 22, but the presiding officer was on leave on that day and now the case is to be taken up on January 20.

Like in all the past cases, the management committee of the Shahi Eidgah Mosque at Mathura, the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board at Lucknow, besides the Sri Krishna Janmbhoomi Trust and Sri Krishna Janmsthan Seva Sansthan have been impleaded as defendants.

The petition has also challenged the settlement dated October 12, 1968, between the Sri Krishna Janmasthan Seva Sangh and Shahi Masjid Eidgah, which was part of suit no. 43 of 1967, and sought cancellation of judgment and the decree based on it. The petitioners have moved an injunction application, which is yet to be heard.

The petitioners have alleged the settlement had no legal validity because the Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi Trust, having ownership and title, was not party to it, and sought an order on transfer of the Eidgah mosque land to the deity.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Cops Working With Muslims To Rationalise Madrasa Education: Himanta Sarma

January 01, 2023

Guwahati: Assam police is working with Muslims in the state to rationalise madrasa education following the alleged involvement of Islamic clerics in 'jihadi' activities, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Sunday.

The state police busted eight modules of terrorist organisations Ansarul Bangla Team and Al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent during the just concluded year in which 51 people were arrested and direct involvement of nine Bangladeshis was detected for operating from some private madrasas, the Chief Minister said during an interaction with media persons here.

The police are coordinating with Bengali Muslims who have positive attitude towards education to create a good environment in the madrasas, he said.

In the madrasas science and mathematics will be taught, right to education respected and a database of teachers maintained, he said.

Besides, all teachers who have come from outside Assam to teach in the madrasas must also appear at regular intervals in the nearest police station.

''The police under the directive of Director General of Police B J Mahanta are working with the Muslim community to rationalise Madrasa education. Instead of considering them as enemies, we are making them as stakeholders,'' he said.

Elaborating, he said there are many areas in some districts where there are only Bengali Muslims and they have to be the stakeholders.

Sarma, who is also the state home minister, said that 2022 also witnessed the end of tribal and adivasi insurgency in the state with the surrender of 7229 cadres of different outfits following agreement with the central and state governments.

The police seized 757 sophisticated arms, 5983 assorted ammunitions, 131 grenades. 26 improvised explosive devices (IED) and 52 kgs of explosives from NDFB, NLFT, Karbi, Dimasa and Adivasi insurgents but voluntary submissions were more than seizures.

Another major achievement of the state police was the arrest of the most-wanted Maoist leader Arun Kumar Bhattacharya alias Kanchanda, who had a reward of ₹ 3.40 crore on his head. His arrest had dealt a death blow to left wing extremism, Sarma said.

The Assam police also seized drugs worth ₹ 781 crore, one of the largest haul in the country excluding by sea, as against ₹ 400 crore the previous year. "This was possible as Assam Police worked in tandem with the central agencies," he said.

The union ministry of home affairs has created a grid of central and state agencies leading to the seizure of narcotics of huge quantity from Assam, which included 111 kgs of heroin, 48,000 kgs of ganja, 62 lakh Yaba tablets, 401 kgs of methamphetamine, 2.11 lakh bottles of cough syrup, eight kgs of morphine and 214 kgs of opium.

''It is not that drugs of this quantity are consumed in the state. Assam serves as the corridor for their transit to other parts of the country. We (Assam government) are fulfilling a national obligation to save the young people by seizing the drugs in the state and preventing it from reaching to the other parts," Sarma added.

Source: ND TV

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J&K: Child dead as blasts hit Rajouri village, day after terrorist attack

Jan 2, 2023

NEW DELHI: A child was killed as fresh explosions rocked Upper Dangri village in Rajouri, J&K, where four people lost their lives on Sunday in what appeared to be a targeted attack on a community.Another five people suffered injuries in the explosions on Monday morning, not far from the site of Sunday's terrorist attack that targeted three houses. One of the injured is said to be in critical condition.

Another suspected IED was spotted nearby, and is being cleared, a police official said.

Meanwhile security forces have intensified a cordon-and-search operation by inducting additional personnel to track down two suspected terrorists involved in Sunday's attack. Drones and sniffer dogs have also been deployed, officials said.

Security has been beefed up in view of the attack in Rajouri, where there is a complete shut down in protest against the killings.

In Rajouri town, people gathered at Dangri chowk along with the bodies of those killed in the attack, and blocked roads. They are demanding that Jammu and Kashmir lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha come to protest site, officials said.

Source: Times Of India

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India asks Pakistan to release Indian prisoners in its custody

Jan 1, 2023

NEW DELHI: India on Sunday called on Pakistan to release and repatriate 631 Indian fishermen and two civilian prisoners who have completed their jail-term and whose nationality has been confirmed.

In addition, Islamabad has also been urged to provide immediate consular access to the remaining 30 fishermen and 22 civilian prisoners who have been in Pakistan's custody and are believed to be Indian, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.

India made the request in the context of the exchange of the lists of civilian prisoners and fishermen by both the countries as part of a practice to do so on January 1 and July 1 of every calendar year under the framework of a 2008 pact.

The MEA said Pakistan has been requested to ensure the "safety, security and welfare of all Indian and believed-to-be Indian civilian prisoners and fishermen, pending their release and repatriation to India".

The MEA said India shared lists of 339 Pakistani civilian prisoners and 95 Pakistani fishermen currently in Indian custody. Similarly, Pakistan has shared lists of 51 civilian prisoners and 654 fishermen in its custody, who are Indians or are believed to be Indians, it added.

"India and Pakistan today exchanged, through diplomatic channels simultaneously at New Delhi and Islamabad, the lists of civilian prisoners and fishermen in their custody," the MEA said in a statement.

It said the government has called for early release and repatriation of civilian prisoners, missing Indian defence personnel, and fishermen along with their boats, from Pakistan's custody.

"In this context, Pakistan was asked to expedite the release and repatriation of 631 Indian fishermen and two Indian civilian prisoners, who have completed their sentence and whose nationality has been confirmed and conveyed to Pakistan," the MEA said.

It said India remains committed to addressing, on priority, all humanitarian matters, including those pertaining to prisoners and fishermen in each other's country.

Source: Times Of India

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India, Pakistan exchange list of nuclear installations

Jan 1, 2023

NEW DELHI: In continuing a 32-year practice, India and Pakistan on Sunday exchanged a list of their nuclear installations under a bilateral pact which prohibits the two sides from attacking each other's atomic facilities.

The exchange of the list took place under the provisions of the agreement on the prohibition of attack against nuclear installations and facilities, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.

It was done simultaneously through diplomatic channels in New Delhi and Islamabad.

"India and Pakistan today exchanged, through diplomatic channels simultaneously at New Delhi and Islamabad, the list of nuclear installations and facilities, covered under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations and Facilities between India and Pakistan," the MEA said in a statement.

The agreement was signed on December 31, 1988 and came into force on January 27, 1991.

The pact mandates India and Pakistan to inform each other of the nuclear installations and facilities covered under the agreement on the first of January of every calendar year. "This is the 32nd consecutive exchange of such lists between the two countries, the first one having taken place on January 1, 1992," the MEA said.

Source: Times Of India

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NIA chargesheets 11 PFI activists over Nizamabad 'terror' camps

Dec 31, 2022

HYDERABAD: The National Investigation Agency has filed a chargesheet against 11 members of Popular Front of India (PFI) who were allegedly involved in organising terror camps in Nizamabad and recruiting youth for terror acts.

The chargesheet against the accused - 10 belonging to Telangana and one to Andhra Pradesh - was filed before the NIA special court in Hyderabad on Thursday, NIA officials said: "Investigations have revealed that the accused persons were radicalising gullible Muslim youth and recruiting them into PFI through speeches filled with hatred and venom against the government of India as well as other organisations and individuals."

Telangana police busted the network of PFI in Nizamabad district after conducting raids on their training camps and registered a case in VI Town police station on July 4. The NIA registered a fresh FIR on August 26 and took over the investigation. Later, NIA conducted simultaneous raids in Telangana and AP. Investigations have revealed that the accused persons were radicalising gullible Muslim youth.

Youth sent to PFI camps under guise of yoga classes: NIA

The 11 accused have been identified as Abdul Khader, Abdul Ahad, Shaik Shadullah, Syed Yahiya Sameer, Shaik Imran and Mohammad Abdul Mubeen of Nizamabad, Abdul Saleem and Mohammad Osman of Jagtial, Mohammad Irfan of Karimnagar, Feroz Khan of Adilabad and Shaik Iliyas Ahmed of AP's Nellore.

NIA officials said Muslim youth were sent to training camps organised by PFI under the guise of conducting yoga classes and physical education beginner courses during when they were trained in the use of everyday articles like knife, sickle and iron rods to kill a person by attacking vulnerable bodyparts such as stomach, head and throat. "They were also trained to commit acts of terror," the officials said.

The accused persons were charged under IPC sections of criminal conspiracy and for promoting enmity between different groups and various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

It was in July this year, Nizamabad police first busted an alleged sleeper cell of PFI. Police said the sleeper cell was operating out of former member of the banned Students' Islamic Movement of India, Abdul Khader's house in the town. Four persons were arrested on the charges of organising classes on 'anti-Hindu' indoctrination.

Source: Times Of India

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Religious radicalism suicidal path for Christians, Muslims: VHP

1st January 2023

Indore: The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) has passed a resolution against religious radicalism, which it said was responsible for terror attacks across the world, and demanded a stringent law to ban illegal conversions and implementation of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), its functionary said.

This resolution was passed and demands were made during the three-day meeting of the VHP’s central board of trustees and the governing council that concluded here on Sunday.

“An important resolution on ‘Religious Dogmatism Its Ill-effects and Solution’ was passed in the meeting,” VHP working president advocate Alok Kumar told reporters here.

“The resolution made it clear that the declarations by some traditions that ‘Only my religion is right, others have to accept and if they don’t, then I have the divine command to eliminate them’ are unacceptable to humanity. Those who insist on such heavenly commands to destroy have actually destroyed many ancient civilisations of the world,” he said.

The resolution passed during the meeting said, “Unfortunately, despite the toxic experiences of many centuries, religious radicalism and dogmatism of the desert traditions remain a challenge for the whole world even today. These radicals are also responsible for the terrorist attacks happening here and there in the world every day…”

“The series of inhuman atrocities on non-Muslim women through ‘Love Jihad’ and also the Jihadi activism of the “Sar tan se juda gang” (beheading gang) are the ghastly faces of this religious radicalism….,” a VHP statement said.

Kumar said a comprehensive policy has to be framed at the global level to deal with the toxic effects of religious dogmatism.

“This narrow-mindedness and exclusivism has to be neutralised at the intellectual, social and political levels. Violence, looting, rape and murders are used as weapons by a large section of Islam in the name of Jihad. Now this will not work,” he added.

“We will not allow any part of Bharat to become Dar-ul-Islam. VHP, Bajrang Dal, Durga Vahini along with revered saints and thinkers of the society have been fighting it steadfastly. We will speed up this work,” he said.

A large section of Christian missionaries is engaged in the agenda of engineering social enmity, fostering terror, and converting people through the tactics of force, fraud and allurement. It was also urged in the resolution that religious radicalism would prove to be a suicidal path for the Christian and the Muslim communities instead of their development, the VHP statement said.

They should replace their radical leadership by sensible and rational leadership who stand for development and harmonious co-existence, it added.

VHP’s board of trustees appealed to all sections of the society not to patronise such anti-national tendencies, not to destroy the future for the sake of immediate gains. It asked people to play their role in dispiriting religious dogmatist and separatist leadership and cheering open-minded leadership that takes the society towards harmony and development, the statement said.

It also appealed to the central and the state governments to control the madrassas and missionary schools that teach exclusivism, extremism and separatism and make arrangements for development and harmony-oriented education, it said.

The central government should enact stringent laws to prevent illegal conversions and religious dogmatism. Along with this, a demand was also made to pass and implement the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in the entire country, it added.

Hindu society has long been a victim of religious dogmatism of the desert traditions, but it has proved formidable to those challenges, it said, adding, “VHP will organise a mass awareness campaign in this regard to create eternal vigilance and expose the conspiracies of the dogmatic leadership.”

“At the meeting, as a resolution, an action plan has been made to make students ‘sanskaarvaan’ (well-cultivated) and ‘shraddhavaan’ (reverent) all over the world through Bal Sanskar Shalas, competitions of Dharmic education, spreading of holistic, altruistic and syncretic Hindu values,”Kumar said.

At present, the VHP is directly working in 30 countries, out of which representative activists from 24 countries had come for the International Coordination Meeting in Mumbai for three days at the end of December 2022.

Source: Siasat Daily

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Aaghaz-e-Dosti delegation at Kartarpur pray for spiritual connect and peace in New Year

Dec 31, 2022

BATHINDA: A 10 member delegation of Aaghaz-e-Dosti from India travelled to Kartarpur Sahib on the eve of New Year to offer prayers for peace and to strengthen spiritual connect between the two nations. Members of the delegation joined from various Indian cities.

Aaghaz-e-Dosti, in a statement, said that being a first visa free corridor, Kartarpur reflects a corridor of peace and it is sending a message of peacebuilding and commitment of both sides of governments that despite all disagreements, even states on both sides look positively with hope. Aaghaz-e-Dosti said that now Kartarpur has completed three years since opening of this route which was a long demanding one and since then thousands of families and devotees travelled to offer prayers at Gurdwara and it also brought an opportunity where many divided families met.

The delegation visiting to Kartarpur was led by Prof. Jagmohan Singh, academician and nephew of Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Ram Mohan Rai, a social activist and General Secretary of Gandhi Global Family. Along with them, a team of persons who belong to different backgrounds and from all walks of life participated. This visit was coordinated jointly by Aaghaz-e-Dosti coordinators Nitin Mittoo and Jansher Khan.

Prof. Jagmohan Singh said that first Sikh master Guru Nanak Dev was a great personality who connects not only Sikhs, but even all peace loving persons as he always advocated peace and love. He said that India and Pakistan have many such connections, but unfortunately we are still unable to fully utilise this potential of connection. Spiritual connections like Nizamuddin Shrine, Katasraj Temple, Hinglaj Mata Temple, Ajmer Shrine, Kartarpur Gurdwara, Golden Temple, Sharda Peeth are many such opportunities where people from both sides want to visit due to their faith and love. He said that similarly there are persons like Bhagat Singh, Lala Lajpat Rai whose native places people want to visit to look into history which we need to think upon to open for frequent visits by people.

Ram Mohan Rai said that Pakistan and India are meeting each other at Kartarpur and this is a great message of oneness and of unity which Guru Nanak Dev always preached in his life. He said that more and more such options should be opened where people can visit and through such visits, people get a different feeling which is truly spiritual.

Aaghaz-e-Dosti Coordinator Jansher Khan from Pakistan said that many Pakistanis visit Kartarpur every day and they also meet people from India and see how both are so similar, so close and yet too far. Kartarpur corridor is providing an opportunity to common Pakistanis and Indians to at least see each other face to face and to understand how our history is connected and so are our future.

Source: Times Of India

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Unexplained incarcerations complicate matters for Afghan refugees in Pakistan: Report

31 December, 2022

Islamabad [Pakistan], December 31 (ANI): The unexplained incarceration of Afghan refugees in Pakistan amidst the deteriorating security situation in Pakistan and growing tensions between the Taliban government and Islamabad over the border issue, has complicated matters for the Afghan refugees, writes Noman Hossain, a freelance journalist in a report for Khaama Press.

“The unexplained incarceration is not a new development in Pakistan. Their frequency, however, has increased significantly since the Taliban’s return to power in Kabul,” Hossain writes.

Women and children in prison face inhuman conditions, and rape threats. There is no justice in sight.

Even though local human rights bodies in Pakistan like the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) have highlighted the issues faced by the Afghan refugees in Pakistan, the provincial government and security forces have ignored their pleas.

The state security agencies regularly pick up Afghan men for interrogations. Even Afghan women and children face incarcerations without proper judicial explanation.

“Over 200 Afghan women and underage children have been locked up at the Karachi Central Jail for nearly two months now. While it is reported that they were arrested because of their alleged “illegal” stay in Pakistan, some human rights activists revealed that these women and children were considered a security ‘threat’ by the local police,” wrote Hossain for the Khaama Press.

The Khaama Press report also quoted Haya Zahid, a Legal Empowerment Practitioner from Karachi. Zahid said: “Many Afghan women travelled to Pakistan for better medical treatment. Each has around six-eight children. Despite being locked in a barrack, every time an official visits, the children’s eyes light up.”

The NCHR is providing legal recourse to the Afghan nationals imprisoned in Karachi. The NCHR officials are trying to send imprisoned Afghan nationals back to Afghanistan.

Afghan women regularly travel to Pakistan for medical treatment whereas adult males look for work opportunities in Pakistan. Most of them also carry their children, who end up becoming collateral damage.

The UN Refugee Agency, recently, raised alarm over images and reports of the arrest and detention of Afghan refugees in Pakistan’s Sindh province.
Source: The Print

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Politicians felicitate nation, pledge Pakistan’s prosperity in 2023

January 1, 2023

ISLAMABAD: As the new year began on Sunday, President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and other politicians felicitated the nation and prayed for the development, progress and prosperity of Pakistan. In his message, the president said the nation faced various challenges last year but “overcame difficult situations due to the hard work, sacrifice, determination and resilience”.

“In the new year, as a nation, we must set our priorities correctly to overcome the challenges facing the nation,” he added. He furthered that Pakistan needs national solidarity, unity, discipline, persistent hard work, passion and dedication to making the country prosperous, developed, democratic and stable.

In his message, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif hoped that the new year would prove to be the year of ending hunger, war, terrorism, crime, sectarianism and class division from the whole world, including Pakistan. The premier also said that 2022 was “a tough year for Pakistan”.

“The worst flooding in history aggravated our economic challenges.

My resolve for the New Year is to use my energy & time to get people out of difficulties, rehabilitate flood victims & put Pakistan on the path to growth & stability,” the PM added.

Meanwhile, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb wished the nation a “happy New Year” and prayed that “2023 proves to be a salve for the wounds of humanity, get rid of inflation, terrorism, injustice, lies and hatred”. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in his message to the nation said: “Year 2022: it was the best of times, it was the worst of times”.

Imran furthered that a government “with the best economic performances was removed through a conspiracy,” and that the “country was handed over to a bunch of criminals”. The PTI chief lashed out at the incumbent government and said “they ran [the] economy to the ground and gave themselves NRO2”. He furthered that he has “faith in Almighty Allah and confidence in our people that without [a] doubt in 2023 through elections PTI will form [a] strong government”.

Moreover, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that in the outgoing year “people marched, parliament triumphed over the selected, we came together to save [Pakistan]”. “2023 will be the year hope triumphs over hate, truth over lies & Unity triumphs over division,” he added.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Pakistan: 22 injured in celebratory gunfire on new year's eve

Jan 1, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's new year celebrations were marred by customary gunfire by the exuberant revellers in several big cities, injuring at least 22 people, including children and women, in the Karachi metropolis.

As the clock struck midnight to announce the arrival of the new year on Saturday, the port city resonated with the sounds of heavy gunfire.

According to Pakistan television network Geo TV, several people, including a child and women, were injured in the aerial firing in different parts of Karachi despite a ban on the display of firearms.

Sources from the hospitals said eight people with injuries were admitted to the Civil Hospital, four to Jinnah Hospital, and ten, including women and children, were taken to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital for treatment.

So far 13 people have been arrested in connection with the firing in Korangi, three of whom have been charged with attempted murder.

The channel further reported that Karachiites took to the streets and roads to celebrate the new year. The Five Star Chowrangi was thronged by people in a festive mood. Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori was also seen joining the masses to watch fireworks at the Numaish Chowrangi.

Other sites that were thronged by people to witness the annual bash included Clifton Seaview, Do Darya, Bahria Town and Bagh Ibn Qasim. Separately, various clubs, hotels and organisations also organised fireworks to welcome 2023.

Similar reports of celebrations were also received from Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Incidents of injuries due to gunfire were also reported from Lahore but it was independently confirmed.

The new year celebrations have been controversial in Pakistan as clerics look down on the revelries and consider it a sin to imitate western culture. However, over the years an increase has been noticed in the number of people taking to the streets to celebrate this annual event.

Traditionally, club-carrying activists of right-wing Jamaat-e-Islami would disrupt the gathering of youths and roam on the streets of big cities to scare people away. However, they too have toned down their ‘pious' work with the passage of time.

President Dr Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif felicitated the nation and international community at the beginning of the New Year and prayed for the development, progress and prosperity of Pakistan as well as peace in the world.

In their separate messages, they stressed the need to work together to make Pakistan the cradle of peace, prosperity and development, according to their official statements.

The President in his message said the nation faced various challenges last year but overcame difficult situations due to hard work, sacrifice, determination and resilience.

"In the new year, as a nation we must set our priorities correctly to overcome the challenges facing the nation," he said.

The Prime Minister in his message hoped that the new year would prove to be the year of ending hunger, war, terrorism, crime, sectarianism and class division from the whole world, including Pakistan.

Source: Times Of India

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Former army chief’s ‘set-up’ still active, alleges Imran

Mansoor Malik

January 2, 2023

LAHORE: Former prime minister Imran Khan on Sunday lashed out at the former army chief again, alleging that Qamar Javed Bajwa stabbed him in the back and that his “set-up” was still active in the establishment purportedly to stop the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) from coming back to power.

Speaking to reporters, the PTI chairman claimed that Mr Bajwa “stabbed me in the back” but now he was expressing sympathies for him. Mr Khan said the ex-chief was not interested in accountability of the corrupt which led to terse relations with him. “I felt the change of attitude in [retired] Gen Bajwa after he was given an extension and slowly I was hammered with a message that I should give up on the matter of accountability,” he said.

Mr Khan alleged that the former army chief had hired ex-envoy Hussain Haqqani for lobbying, who launched an “anti-defamation” campaign against him and promoted Mr Bajwa in Washington.

Speaking about details of his last meeting with Mr Bajwa, Imran Khan said the former army chief called him a “playboy”. “In reply, I told him ‘yes, I had been a playboy’.” He also said the campaign to prove him as “anti-American” was launched from Pakistan, and whatever US official Donald Lu said was fed from Pakistan.

‘MPAs pressurised’

Mr Khan claimed that three PTI MPAs were being “pressurised by the establishment” to abstain from the vote of confidence to be taken by Chief Minister Parvez Elahi. “The MPAs have shared their experience about who, where, and how the messages are being transmitted to them,” he claimed.

Mr Khan added that he has no contact with the establishment as he termed it a “one-man show”. He said the establishment could play a decisive role in driving the country out of political and economic crises. “Free, fair, and credible elections is the only way out to lead Pakistan to political and economic stability,” he said.

He said the MQM’s various factions were being “gathered on one platform” in Karachi, while the BAP was being persuaded to join the PPP. Answering a question about returning to the assemblies, the PTI chairman said that there was no use in going back to assemblies as all legislation were being passed unhindered. “The PTI’s return to assemblies will, however, be tantamount to accepting the PDM government,” he added.

The PTI chairman said foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari knows nothing about diplomacy, particularly Pak-Afghan relations.

Back-breaking inflation

Warning the nation to get ready for more difficulties than the existing back-breaking inflation and price-hike, Imran Khan said Pakistan had no choice but to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“Going to the IMF programme will further increase financial difficulties for the masses but not going to the international body would crush the country’s economy leading to the sale of its assets,” he said.

Mr Khan, flanked by Senator Dr Sania Nishtar, was speaking through a video link from his Zaman Park residence on Sunday. Calling the incumbent rulers “economic hitmen”, he said they got their Rs1100 billion corruption cases closed at the expense of the economy. Mr Khan said the country could default if the incumbent government did not join the IMF programme at the earliest.

The PTI chief said he had collected funds for the flood victims with complete transparency so that affected people could be given relief and rehabilitated. Briefing the nation about the collection of funds and its utilization, Dr Nishtar said PTI chief Imran Khan had done three telethons and some Rs15 billion were pledged. She said the funds actually received stood at Rs4.6 billion.

Of Rs4.6 billion, she said Rs3.4 billion were deposited in the Punjab chief minister’s flood relief account and Rs1.2 billion in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister’s account.

“The Punjab and KP governments have so far spent Rs3.6 billion funds, while Rs1 billion was lying in accounts to be transferred to the Sindh government for the relief of flood affectees as per announcement of the party chief,” she said and regretted that the Sindh government was not sharing the survey data for the dispensation of funds.

Source: Dawn

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PML-N rushes to bridge growing MQM-PPP fissures

Imran Auyb

January 2, 2023

KARACHI: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif decided on Sunday to send a team of troubleshooters to Karachi for placating the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan after the party opposed the Sindh government’s decision to hold local government elections in the metropolis and Hyderabad under the existing delimitation.

Minutes after the MQM-P threatened at a presser in Karachi to approach the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) against what he called “jerrymandering”, federal Minister for Economic Affairs Sardar Ayaz Sadiq called MQM-P leader Aminul Haque and informed him that he would visit his party’s office on Monday (today) in order to address its concerns.

According to sources, a federal government delegation would hold talks with MQM-P leaders and is also likely to meet the Pakistan Peoples Party leadership in order to find a way out for holding the Jan 15 polls in time.

“Sardar Sadiq assured the MQM-P leader that the delegation, in line with the PM’s directives, will take all stakeholders on board and do its best to address the party’s concerns,” said a source privy to the telephonic conversation.

Khalid rejects Jan 15 LG polls under existing delimitation; Ayaz due in Karachi today

Earlier, a hurriedly called meeting of the Muttahida’s coordination committee discussed the development and charted a fresh line of action in case the “situation remains unchanged”.

The meeting was chaired by Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, the party’s convener.

Dr Siddiqui expressed fears that local bodies elections in Karachi under the existing delimitation would be against the city’s mandate, vowing to approach a court and the Election Commission of Pakistan for “justice”.

He admitted that the PPP had accepted a number of Muttahida’s demands under the Charter of Rights the two parties had signed in April, but made it clear that “we stand by our demand for a fresh census and delimitation before any electoral exercise in urban Sindh”.

Later addressing a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Baha­durabad, the MQM-P converner said: “We are justified to question the Election Commission what authority the Sindh government has for delimitation.

“This unfair delimitation has thrown up haphazard constituencies which will serve vested interests. We look to the prime minister for resolving the matter, but unfortunately I am not hopeful.”

The meeting was informed that the Muttahida had already approached the Sindh government about a verdict given by the Supreme Court on Feb 1 last year directing it to make the LG system “empowered”.

“This primarily demands fresh delimitation before polling.”

The Sindh government wrote last week to the ECP seeking its opinion for “further necessary action” on the apex court’s verdict.

AG’s opinion

The Sindh government attached an opinion of the advocate general that lends credence to the MQM-P’s stance on devolution of powers and fresh delimitation. However, Dr Siddiqui didn’t sound confident that the outcome would be in his party’s favour before the Jan 15 polls.

“Everyone should keep this in mind the ECP will be responsible if elections are held in Karachi and Hyderabad with no law in sight to stop electoral mismanagement,” he added.

“In the census [2017] Karachi was already counted as half of its actual size and there can be no greater injustice than this,” the Muttahida leader said.

“Look at the disproportion between constituencies. One has 30,000 voters while a neighbouring unit has over 100,000. Such distortion will never reflect Karachi’s true mandate.”

Source: Dawn

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JUI convenes APC on law, order situation in KP today

January 1, 2023

PESHAWAR: The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) has convened an All Parties’ Conference at Mufti Mehmood Center Peshawar at 11am on Sunday (today).

The provincial spokesman for JUI-F, Jalil Jan on Saturday said that the conference besides others would likely be attended by JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman, Qaumi Watan Party Chief Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, Advisor to Prime Minister and Provincial President Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) Engineer Amir Maqam, Central leader of Awami National Party (ANP) Ameer Haider Khan Hoti, Provincial President ANP Aimal Wali Khan, Provincial President PPP  Najamuddin Khan and Faisal Karim Kundi and Fayaz Khan of JUP and others.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Terror Attack Kills a Police Constable in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

January 1, 2023

Gunmen attacked a police checkpost earlier today in the Shahbaz Khel area of Khayber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), causing the death of a police constable.

The terrorists attacked a police checkpost in the Lakki Marwat district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa using heavy and automatic weapons, reported Dawn. The attack was thwarted by the timely action of the police, ending in the martyrdom of a police officer and the death of major terrorist, Hameed, the police spokesperson said.

The suspect was under the watch of the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Bannu for being allegedly involved in attacks on police and security forces, Hameed said.

After ending its months-ceasefire with the government of Pakistan, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) resumed its brutal attacks across the country. The latest suicide attack and bombings in KP, Quetta, and Islamabad ended in the death of scores of innocent civilians and security officials.

Moreover, in a separate terror attack, six police officers were killed while the police mobile patrol came under gunfire on November 16 in Lakki Marwat district KP.

The rapid rise in terror attacks in the recent past has forced the security institutions of the Pakistani government to develop a comprehensive strategy to deal with the threat of terrorism and ensure the enteral security of the general public.

Source: Khaama Press

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Mass grave with 18 bodies found in ex-Daesh stronghold in Libya

January 01, 2023

CAIRO: Libyan authorities on Sunday said they have found 18 bodies buried in a mass grave in a former stronghold of Daesh along the conflict-stricken North African nation’s coast.

The Missing Persons Authority said in a statement the bodies were unearthed in the Sabaa area of Sirte, a city in central Libya. The bodies were taken to a local hospital, it added.

Sirte, the birthplace of former longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi, fell under the control of Daesh militants between 2015 and 2016. The militants, along with Al-Qaeda, gained a foothold in oil-rich Libya amid the chaos that engulfed the country after the 2011 uprising and a NATO intervention in the conflict.

The militants were eventually driven out of the city in December 2016 by Libyan forces supported by the US and allied with the UN-backed government in the capital Tripoli. Hundreds of alleged former Daesh fighters remain incarcerated in Libyan prisons, many of whom are awaiting trial.

Since Ghadafi’s overthrow and killing, Libya has been split between rival authorities. Sirte is now controlled by forces loyal to military leader Khalifa Haftar based in the country’s east.

In its statement, the Missing Persons Authority said they collected samples of the dead bones in an effort to identify the bodies. Further details on the cause of death for those found were not provided.

Several mass graves have been uncovered across Libya recently. In October, officials said they found 42 bodies in a mass grave in a school site in Sirte.

In December 2018, the bodies of more than thirty men were discovered near Sirte, believed to be the corpses of a group of Ethiopian Christians whom Islamic State fighters executed in a video the group published years earlier.

Source: Arab News

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Bodies of 13 Moroccans recovered after boat sinks while attempting to reach Spain

31 December ,2022

The bodies of 13 Moroccans were recovered after their boat sank off the country’s southern coast while attempting to reach Spain’s Canary Islands, Moroccan media reported.

The 45 passengers on board were attempting to reach the islands’ main city of Las Palmas when their boat hit a rock and sank Friday, “10 minutes after” embarking near the town of Mirleft, according to online news service Hespress.

Twenty-four people, including a minor, were rescued from the water and the body of one woman was among those recovered, the Arabic-language site reported.

Eight of the passengers remain unaccounted for.

AFP contacted Moroccan authorities to confirm the deaths but received no immediate comment.

Morocco’s 2M news service reported the passengers had used an inflatable boat which was quickly “damaged and the victims found themselves in the middle of the waves.”

Passage on the vessel had cost between 20,000 and 25,000 Moroccan dirhams ($1,900 to $2,400), Hespress said.

Located at Africa’s northwestern tip, Morocco is a transit country for many migrants, particularly sub-Saharans, seeking to reach Europe from its Atlantic or Mediterranean coasts.

According to a recent report by the Spanish human rights group Caminando Fronteras (Frontline Defenders), more than 11,200 migrants have died or gone missing while trying to reach Spain since 2018, an average of six per day.

The route between Morocco and the Canary Islands alone accounted for 7,692 of these deaths, the group said.

Since late 2019, the number of migrants attempting clandestine crossings along the perilous Atlantic migration route has surged as patrols in the Mediterranean intensified.

Source: Al Arabiya

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10 people killed in Uganda stampede during New Year celebrations

Godfrey Olukya 



At least 10 people were killed in a stampede in Uganda when they struggled to enter an entertainment center for the New Year’s Eve celebrations, police said on Sunday.

Police deputy spokesman Luke Oweyesigyire confirmed the death toll from Saturday night’s incident, saying they are investigating whether there was neglect at the Freedom City Mall event in the outskirts of the capital Kampala.

He said the incident occurred at midnight when the event's master of ceremony at a music show encouraged attendees to go outside and watch the fireworks display.

“After the display ended, a stampede ensued, resulting in the instant deaths of five people and injuries to several others,” Oweyesigyire said.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Sudan faces ‘complex political process’: UN mission

Bahram Abdel Moneim 



The UN mission said Saturday that Sudan is going through a “very complex political process”.

This came in a statement issued by the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) on the 67th anniversary of Sudan's independence from British colonialism (1899-1956).

“This anniversary comes while Sudan is going through a very complex political process, one that is filled with hope for creating a better future and the desire to overcome the bitterness of the past. We hope this helps write a new page in the history of Sudan,” the mission said.

On Dec. 5, Sudan’s ruling military council and political forces signed a framework agreement meant to resolve the country’s months-long crisis.

“The Sudanese have shown throughout their contemporary history an amazing will to adhere to their dreams and aspirations even in the face of many challenges,” UNITAMS said.

“The past four years, since the spark of the December revolution, were an example that inspired many around the globe in manifesting the abilities of the Sudanese people and their determination to achieve the goals represented by the slogan of freedom, peace and justice,” it added.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Several killed, injured in anti-government protests in Somaliland

01 January 2023

Several people have been killed and several others injured in anti-government protests in the southeast of the breakaway region of Somaliland, multiple independent sources have confirmed.

The violent confrontations entered the 5th day on Saturday as protests have been held in the town of Las Anod, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) east of the Somaliland capital Hargeisa, following the killing of a politician by gunmen.

Saleban Ali Kore, communications minister of Somaliland offered “condolence” to victims’ families and said they were killed in “violent incidents” in Las Anod, without giving details on the number of fatalities.

Meanwhile, the head of the main opposition Wadani party, Abdirahman Iro, told the rallying crowd on Saturday that “more than 10 people were killed in Las Anod” adding that about 50 others were wounded.

According to the local residents, a large number of security forces were deployed in Las Anod on Saturday, and most businesses remained closed.

Tensions escalated as security forces tried to disperse the protesters and fired live ammunition, according to witnesses.

The protests came in the wake of the assassination of rising politician Abdifatah Abdillah Hadrawi by masked attackers last week. The opposition accuses the government of playing a role in the assassination, but there is no independent investigation to support the claim.

The regional President Muse Bihi Abdi accused the “enemy of Somaliland” of being behind the assassination plot. Bihi sent condolences and urged the residents to stay calm and maintain the peace, but the protesters seem to take a new dimension with politicians standing against the government.

Somaliland government is also under pressure from opposition leaders who are calling for presidential polls, which had the term expiring in November but elections are yet to be held.

The town of Las Anod is a source of conflict between Somaliland and its neighbor, Puntland. The city is a very old commercial and strategic crossroads that have changed hands several times since Somaliland’s independence.

The self-proclaimed Republic of Somaliland is a breakaway from Somalia, positioned along the Gulf of Aden and home to the deep-water strategic port of Berbera. Somaliland has maintained self-rule since 1991 civil war but has not won international recognition.

Source: Press TV

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