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Islamic World News ( 2 Nov 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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European Groups Urge Macron To Reject Hatred And Divisive Rhetoric and To Reconsider The Unilateral Assault On Muslims, Islam And The Prophet Muhammad

New Age Islam News Bureau

02 November 2020


More than 20 organizations that bring young Europeans together have decried French President Emmanuel Macron’s response to the murder of a teacher, saying it lacked wisdom and urged him to “reject hatred” and “divisive rhetoric”.


• Delhi's India Islamic Cultural Centre Signboard Defaced, Hindu Sena Says Its Workers Did it

• Hefazat-e-Islam Demands Capital Punishment In Bangladesh For Insulting Prophet

• Malaysia: Mahathir Defends Anti-French Comments Despite International Criticism

• Iranian First Vice President Urges West to Stop Blasphemy under Guise of Freedom of Expression

• Nice Attack: Tunisia And France Discuss Migration And 'Terrorism'

• Anti-France Rallies Over Blasphemous Caricatures Grip Karachi

• UAE’s Mohammed Bin Zayed Condemns Violence, Hate Speech In Call To France’s Macron



• European Groups Urge Macron To Reject Hatred And Divisive Rhetoric and To Reconsider The Unilateral Assault On Muslims, Islam And The Prophet Muhammad

• Macron remarks 'step toward moderation but not enough'

• France: Police detain 6 people in Nice attack

• After Three Terror Attacks In Five Weeks, French Muslims Stigmatised By Attacks, Feel Under Pressure

• Aliyev says Azerbaijan will fight ‘to the end’ if Nagorno-Karabakh talks fail



• Delhi's India Islamic Cultural Centre Signboard Defaced, Hindu Sena Says Its Workers Did it

• Islam Gymkhana near Marine Drive Bans Rummy: It Is A Club, Not A Madrasa, President Yusuf Should Not Play The Religion Card

• Haryana may do a Uttar Pradesh on law against love jihad 

• Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad backs Yogi Adityanath, seeks law against 'love jihad'

• Pak’s Gilgit-Baltistan move bid to hide illegal occupation: MEA

• Pak considers registering treason case against PML-N leader over remarks on release of Abhinandan

• Cartoon row: Cong MLA arrested in Bhopal for protest against French President

• India rejects Pak’s province status for Gilgit-Baltistan

• Hizbul Muhajideen’s top terrorist Saifullah killed in encounter in Kashmir’s Rangreth; police laud ‘huge success’


South Asia

• Hefazat-e-Islam Demands Capital Punishment In Bangladesh For Insulting Prophet

• Afghan-Taliban Delegations Agrees on Third Party Mediation

• Negotiating Team Discusses Afghan Peace with ‘Various Strata of Balkh Province’

• Afghans Mark Unity Week Amid Wave Of Islamophobia

• Crackdown on dissent deepens in Bangladesh

• Malaysian Global Islamic Unity Forum Condemns War in Afghanistan

• Taliban Probably Have Used Drone in Kunduz Attack: Report

• At Least 50,000 Take Part In Anti-France Rally In Bangladesh Capital


Southeast Asia

• Malaysia: Mahathir Defends Anti-French Comments Despite International Criticism

• Rights groups concerned over probe into Kedah event organiser for ‘encouraging vice’ after raid against trans women

• PAS inclusive party that treats everyone equally, says its appointed Sabah assemblyman



• Iranian First Vice President Urges West to Stop Blasphemy under Guise of Freedom of Expression

• CBI Governor: Iran’s Foreign Currency Market Moving towards Stability

• Senior MP Confirms Capturing of Terrorist Ringleader behind 2018 Attack in Southwestern Iran

• FM Warns against Presence of Terrorists in Karabakh Region

• Presidential Change Not to Change US Policy against Iran

• Iranian Rights Group Urges UN to Impose Arms Ban on Saudis to Stop Yemen War

• Israel’s Netanyahu praises President Trump policies ahead of US election

• Iran arrests Iranian Arab opposition figure abroad, Ahwazi group says he was abducted

• Thousands protest in Jerusalem against Israel PM over coronavirus, corruption charges



• Nice Attack: Tunisia And France Discuss Migration And 'Terrorism'

• Tunisia arrests suspect over Nice stabbing attack claim

• Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia restart controversial mega-dam talks

• Sudan, UAE sign MoU to build solar power plants

• France’s interior minister to visit Tunisia, Algeria to discuss security



• Anti-France Rallies Over Blasphemous Caricatures Grip Karachi

• Minister slammed over Taliban attack remarks

• PML-N Leaders Condemn Leadership’s ‘Anti-State’ Narrative

• Imran most incompetent PM in country’s history: Siraj

• Remarks Recounting Release Of Wing Commander Abhinandan Have Weakened State: Pakistan Minister


Arab world

• UAE’s Mohammed Bin Zayed Condemns Violence, Hate Speech In Call To France’s Macron

• Qatar’s Al Jazeera, France’s Macron receive backlash after televised interview

• Israel will be wiped out despite Arab normalization: Iraqi politician

• Anti-government protests turn to clashes in Iraq

• Lebanese Armenians spring to action to defend Nagorno-Karabakh

• Protesters clash with police forces in Baghdad, other Iraqi cities


North America

• Israel’s Netanyahu Praises President Trump Policies Ahead Of US Election

• US sells 1.1M barrels of Iranian oil after seizure

• US designates 8 companies over Iran petrochemical sales

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



 European Groups Urge Macron To Reject Hatred And Divisive Rhetoric and To Reconsider The Unilateral Assault On Muslims, Islam And The Prophet Muhammad

02 November 2020


More than 20 organizations that bring young Europeans together have decried French President Emmanuel Macron’s response to the murder of a teacher, saying it lacked wisdom and urged him to “reject hatred” and “divisive rhetoric”.


More than 20 organizations that bring young Europeans together have decried French President Emmanuel Macron’s response to the murder of a teacher, saying it lacked wisdom and urged him to “reject hatred” and “divisive rhetoric”.

“We would like to ask you and your government to reconsider the unilateral assault on Muslims, Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him),” the groups said in an open letter published on Saturday.

The European Muslim organizations slammed Macron’s reaction to the killing of Samuel Paty, a history teacher, and the deadly knife attack at a church in Nice which occurred in October.

Last month, Macron publicly attacked Islam in defense of the publication of derogatory cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

He made the remarks at a national memorial for the school teacher who had been murdered by a teenager of Chechen origin after he showed his students the caricatures of the Prophet (PBUH) earlier published by the magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The French president said he would not “renounce the caricatures.” He described Islam as a religion “in crisis” and declared war on “Islamist separatism,” which he claimed was taking over France’s estimated six-million-strong Muslim population.

“Unfortunately, there has been neither wisdom nor moral leadership in your response,” the European groups said in their letter.

“Maligning Islam and your own Muslim citizens, closing mainstream mosques, Muslim and human rights organizations, and using this as an opportunity to stir up further hatred, has given further encouragement to racists and violent extremists.”

The signatories called on Macron “to reject hatred, marginalization and divisive rhetoric, and use your leadership to bring people together”.

While Muslims in France have denounced the killing of the teacher, they have also expressed fears of collective punishment amid a government crackdown against Islamic organizations.

In their letter, the groups denounced the French government’s crackdown as “opportunistic behavior” that “undermines the principles of the rule of law by closing down associations based on political motivations and without sound legal procedures”.

Macron’s comments have angered not only the Muslim community in France, but all Islamic nations, leading to protests and boycott calls.


Delhi's India Islamic Cultural Centre Signboard Defaced, Hindu Sena Says Its Workers Did it

NOVEMBER 1, 2020


The Islamic Cultural Centre signboard that was defaced by members of Hindu Sena | Twitter | @imMAK02


New Delhi: A signboard pointing to the India Islamic Cultural Centre in the city's upscale Lodhi Road area was defaced on Sunday, allegedly by rightwing group Hindu Sena that claimed its workers were responding to radical terrorist activities in the world, particularly France. Police said the posters, declaring "Jihadi Terrorist Islamic Centre", were removed immediately and an FIR registered against unknown persons at the Tughlak Road station after the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) reported the matter.

"We have registered a case under Section 3 of the Delhi Prevention of Defacement of Property Act against unknown people. We are scanning CCTV cameras installed in and around the vicinity but have not found any relevant footage," a senior police officer said. Am NDMC official added that police was informed "to take action as per norms". Hindu Sena president Vishnu Gupta said he got to know that some of the group's workers were behind it. When we asked the workers (karyakartas), they said radical terrorist activities are taking place all over the world, particularly in France Our workers expressed their anger against such activities by putting posters at the India Islamic Centre, Gupta told reporters.

The Centre, which abuts the Lodhi Gardens in the heart of Lutyens Delhi, is a hub of several cultural activities, including plays and concerts. This is not the first time the Hindu Sena has defaced road signs in the national capital.

In June this year, its workers defaced a signboard outside the Chinese embassy here against the killing of 20 Indian soldiers in clashes with the Chinese troops in Ladak Galwan Valley. Last year, the Babar Road signboard was blackened by Hindu Sena workers who demanded that the name of the road be changed.

In May 2015, signboards of Akbar Road and Feroz Shah Road were plastered with posters of the group. Three people died in a knife attack at a church in Nice last week. It was described by French President Emmanuel Macron as an "Islamist terrorist attack". A few weeks ago, an assailant decapitated a French middle school teacher who showed caricatures of Prophet Muhammed for a class on free speech.


Hefazat-e-Islam Demands Capital Punishment In Bangladesh For Insulting Prophet

Fahim Reza Shovon

November 2nd, 2020


Several hundreds of leaders and activists Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh have gathered in front of national mosque Baitul Mukarram in Dhaka on November 2, 2020. Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune


The march towards French embassy began soon after the speech of Junaid ended around 12:10pm

Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh has demanded introducing capital punishment in Bangladesh for anyone found guilty of insulting Prophet Muhammad.

The demand came at a rally of several hundreds of Hefazat leaders and activists, who gathered in front of National Mosque Baitul Mukarram on Monday morning, to march towards and lay siege on the French Embassy in Dhaka.

Hefazat-e-Islam Secretary General Junaid Babunagari came up with the demand wile addressing a pre-march rally.

He also demanded that the Bangladesh government sever all diplomatic ties with France protesting the display of a caricature of Prophet Muhammad.

He also urged all the Muslim majority countries as well as OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) affiliated countries to cur all the diplomatic ties with France.

“France insulted our Prophet. We ask everyone to boycott French products. Keep French products under your feet,” he added.


The march towards French embassy began soon after the speech of Junaid ended around 12:10pm.

They also warned Bangladeshi political parties of paying a high price for refusing to condemn the incident and the remark of French President Emmanuel Macron in this regard.

Blocking both sides of the roads, the march started from the north gate of national mosque Baitul Mukarram, guarded by several hundreds of Hefazat volunteers with whistles, where law enforcers were a few in terms of their number.

Most of the Hefazat supporters at the gathering were seen not wearing face masks.


Malaysia: Mahathir Defends Anti-French Comments Despite International Criticism

November 2, 2020

By Noah Lee and Nisha David

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad faced international criticism Friday for saying that Muslims have a “right to kill millions of French people” for past injustices but do not do so, as he pushed back against Twitter and Facebook for having taken down his controversial words.

The 95-year-old statesman, who stepped down as leader of the Muslim-majority Southeast Asian nation eight months ago, posted those words on the social media platforms Thursday after French President Emmanuel Macron angered many in the Islamic world for defending his country’s secular tradition and the right to free speech in public remarks about cartoons that lampooned Prophet Muhammad.

The content deleted on Twitter and Facebook was in response to Macron honoring a teacher who was beheaded by a teenage Muslim migrant in a northern Paris suburb. Facebook apparently took down the entire statement, according to reports.

“I am indeed disgusted with attempts to misrepresent and take out of context what I wrote on my blog yesterday. Those who did that highlighted only one part of paragraph 12 which read: ‘Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past,’” Mahathir said in a statement issued Friday. “They stopped there and implied that I am promoting the massacre of the French.”

“There is nothing I can do with FB and Twitter’s decision to remove my posting. To my mind, since they are the purveyor of freedom of speech, they must at least allow me to explain and defend my position,” the former two-time prime minister added.

The entire 12th paragraph of Mahathir’s original statement on Thursday, which is posted on his website, says: “Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past. But by and large the Muslims have not applied the ‘eye for an eye’ law. Muslims don’t. The French shouldn’t. Instead the French should teach their people to respect other people’s feelings.”

The French teacher, Samuel Paty, was targeted after he showed his students caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, which many Muslims see as offensive. During a ceremony, Macron had said that France would “not give up cartoons,” in reference to caricatures of the Prophet.

“Samuel Paty became … the face of the republic, of our will to shatter terrorists, to reduce Islamists, to live like a community of free citizens in our country,” Macron said at a ceremony held at Sorbonne University in Paris, where the French president granted the slain instructor the republic’s highest award, the Légion d’Honneur.

The cartoons that Paty showed his class had been published in Charlie Hebdo, the satirical French magazine. In 2015, a dozen people including members of the editorial staff were killed in an Islamic State-claimed terrorist attack in and around the magazine’s offices in Paris after it published a satirical cartoon of Islam’s founder.

Dr. M: ‘Primitive’

In his statement, Mahathir said the killing was not an act he would approve as a Muslim, but it also pointed out that Macron had violated free speech by insulting others.

“Macron is not showing that he is civilized. He is very primitive in blaming the religion of Islam and Muslims for the killing of the insulting school teacher. It is not in keeping with the teachings of Islam,” he said.

Mahathir’s statement drew support from an unlikely source in Malaysia and rebuke from across the globe.

Former Prime Minister Najib Razak who lost power in 2018 when Mahathir’s coalition pulled off an election upset, called for calm.

“The world shld [should] calm down & read @chedetofficial statement in its full context. I’m sure he didn’t mean exactly what he said. And even if he did, it’s his personal opinion not Malaysia’s,” Najib said in a tweet. “In the meantime, someone should take away all his social media accounts before he does more damage.”

Meanwhile, the United States Ambassador to Malaysia, Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir, issued a statement against Mahathir.

“I strongly disagree with Tun Dr Mahathir’s recent statement. Freedom of expression is a right, calling for violence is not,” she said.

The German Embassy in Kuala Lumpur joined in condemning Mahathir’s words.

“The German Embassy is dismayed by the language Tun Dr. Mahathir has employed. The order of the day is a de-escalation of words and solidarity with the victims of violence. Germany shares the pain and sorrow of her close partner and friend France,” it said.

In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison branded Mahathir’s Tweet as “absurd and abhorrent.”

NGOs and political figures issued statements in condemnation as well.

The Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ) issued a statement calling for Mahathir to apologize for his remarks and retract the statement.

“A person of Dr. Mahathir’s caliber and public standing, as a former head of state and seasoned leader and politician, carries with him a larger responsibility of being careful with his words and refraining from taking to hate speech and glorifying violence, because of the broader and wider repercussions,” the group’s executive director, Wathshlah G. Naidu, said.

According to a report by the Associated Press, the Facebook office in Malaysia said in an email that it had taken down Mahathir’s posting for violating the social media platform’s policies.

“We do not allow hate speech on Facebook and strongly condemn any support for violence, death or physical harm,” AP quoted the statement as saying.

Meanwhile in Bangladesh, thousands of Muslims turned out for an anti-France protest in Dhaka after Friday prayers to denounce recent statements by President Macron and to call on him to apologize. They also called on their government to end ties with France.

The main protest centered at the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque in Dhaka, where riot police were deployed at intersection to avert any violence.

MP Mahbubul Alam Hanif, the joint general secretary of Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League party, responded to the protesters.

“It is completely illogical to call for overthrowing the government for the France incident, people who are talking about it don’t have any idea what they are talking about,” he told BenarNews. “We respect all religion, we deny insulting any religion.”

“If we cut off relationships with France, Bangladesh will face huge losses. We import very little from that country, but on the other hand we export billions of dollars’ worth of products there including garments.”

Ambassador summoned

Earlier this week in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian government summoned the French deputy ambassador to respond to Macron’s remarks.

“Malaysia is of the view that such elevated tension does not bode well for the peaceful co-existence of all religions,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

“During the meeting, the ministry reiterated Malaysia’s position to strongly condemn any inflammatory rhetoric and provocative acts that seek to defame the religion of Islam as the world has recently witnessed in the forms of populist speeches and publication of profane caricatures depicting the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).”

And on Tuesday in Jakarta, the foreign ministry of Indonesia – the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation – summoned the French ambassador to voice its concerns about Macron’s stand on the satirical cartoons and his defense of freedom of speech.

“We conveyed our condemnation of the French president’s remarks that were insulting to Islam,” spokesman Teuku Faizasyah told BenarNews.

Abdul Hadi Awang, president of Malaysia’s Pan Islamic Party (PAS), said Macron’s statement exposed his hostility against Islam.

“This is actually a grave error that there is no justification that can be produced in his defense, even if his sole aim is to obtain votes in an election,” he said on Friday.


Iranian First Vice President Urges West to Stop Blasphemy under Guise of Freedom of Expression

Nov 01, 2020

Jahangiri said that it is matter of deep regret to hear the news of insults and violence in the West, adding, “No one should insult the Prophet of Islam in the name of freedom and democracy.”

He congratulated the Iranian people and world Muslims on the Week of Unity, saying, "It is the honor of all Muslims to grow up at this great school and to follow in the footsteps the Holy Prophet of Islam."

The official assured that such impudent conducts are intolerable for two billion Muslims around the world.

Noting that insulting Islamic sanctities will definitely have repercussions, Jahangiri hoped that the French President Emmanuel Macron would understand how harmful these moves can be.

In recent weeks and after a French teacher was beheaded by an ISIL member after he displayed cartoons of the prophet of Islam, French President Emmanuel Macron attacked Islam and the Muslim community, accusing Muslims of "separatism", and he said previously that "Islam is a religion in crisis all over the world".

The incident in Paris coincided with a provocative move by Charlie Hebdo, a left-wing French magazine infamous for publishing anti-Islamic content, which has drawn widespread anger and outrage across the Muslim world.

The caricatures were first published in 2006 by a Danish newspaper Jylllands Posten, sparking a wave of protests.

Meanwhile, 1,000 Iranian academics and university professors in a letter to their French counterparts underlined the need for them to choose the path of “independent rationality” and separate their path from the French officials' support for sacrilege of Islamic sanctities.

“We invite you once again not to be observant about what is going on in French society and politics, and to walk along the lines of your independent rationality and moral conscience, and not permit official politics in France to be subjected to such this ignorance, immorality and imprudence, and force the world to line up against of you, because the life of politicians is short, but the life of nations and their social capital is long,” the letter said.

It warned about the fate of human society if freedom is not limited to moral and human constraints and is rooted in vile desires and evil purpose, and added, “There is no human right that has been validated and legalized in contrast and contradiction of the other human beings’ rights.”

The letter asked the French academics if they do not think that insulting the prophet of God [PBUH] who is respected by over one billion people mean violating their rights?.

“How is it that your president does not adhere to even the most fundamental principles of human rights while, in practice, offers a definition for freedom of speech that is neither compatible with fairness nor the intra-civilization arguments he claims,” it said.

“Although Emmanuel Macron, in terms of his political position in France and Europe, finds himself in a situation where he needs such staging and role playing, but undoubtedly what has happened is neither an incident nor can be subsided to this rank.”

“Contrary to the biased view of Islam represented by the Western media, this divine religion does not speak through the language of violence, aggression and oppression and does not have a sharp sword in its hand, but respects pure human feelings and emotions and Prefers reasoning, argument and dialogue,” it added.

The letter was written after Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei in a message to the French youth strongly blasted the destructive role played by French President Emmanuel Macron and his government in supporting hatred against Muslims and spreading Islamophobia, following the recent sacrilege of Islam's Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) in the European country.

The Iranian Leader blasted the role played by the French government in spreading Islamophobia, and raised important questions in his message.

“Ask your President why he supports insulting God’s Messenger in the name of freedom of expression. Does freedom of expression mean insulting, especially a sacred personage? Isn’t this stupid act an insult to the reason of the people who elected him?” he said in his message.

“The next question to ask is: why is it a crime to raise doubts about the Holocaust? Why should anyone who writes about such doubts be imprisoned while insulting the Prophet (PBUH) is allowed?” Ayatollah Khamenei added.


Nice attack: Tunisia and France discuss migration and 'terrorism'

01 November 2020

Tunisian President Kais Saied spoke with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron Saturday about migration and "terrorism", following a deadly knife attack in Nice allegedly perpetrated by a Tunisian, the presidency said.

Saied and Macron discussed by phone repeated "terrorist acts" against France as well as the "question of illegal immigration and the solutions to be found together," a statement from the Tunisian presidency read.

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The Tunisian president deplored "all forms of violence and terrorism" and referred to "numerous people who use Islam to recruit other people with the goal not only of offending Islam, but also destroying relations between peoples," according to the statement.

Illegal sea crossings to Europe from Tunisia have been on the rise, largely driven by economic woes after a 2011 popular revolution that many hoped would bring more significant change.

Tunisian citizen Brahim Issaoui, 21, is suspected of brutally killing three people in Thursday's attack at the Notre-Dame Basilica in Nice in southern France.

Issaoui is reported to have left Tunisia clandestinely on September 14, making his way to the Italian island of Lampedusa -- a major stepping stone for illegal migrants seeking to make a new life in Europe.

Earlier on Saturday, Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi instructed his interior and justice ministers to cooperate with French authorities over the Nice attack investigation.

Tunisian authorities said they arrested two people on Friday after a video posted on social networks carried a claim of responsibility for the Nice attack by an unknown group.

"Jihadist" experts said the claim was not credible.


Anti-France rallies over blasphemous caricatures grip Karachi

02 Nov 2020

KARACHI: Many religious and political organisations on Sunday took out rallies in different areas of the metropolis to condemn publication of blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in France and urged people to boycott French products.

The organisations that staged rallies included Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F), Imamia Students Organisation (ISO) and Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ).

Almost every party wanted the government to cut off diplomatic ties with France as the protesters were not satisfied with the explanation given recently by French President Emmanuel Macron.

The protesters also demanded that the French president seek an apology from Muslims.

No untoward incident was reported from any area.

ISO rally

The city’s main rally was taken out by the ISO in Clifton, where roads leading to the French consulate general near Teen Talwar were closed to, what a senior police officer claimed, prevent protesters from moving towards the foreign mission.

The protesters carried banners and chanted slogans against the French president.

A spokesperson for the ISO said that their main demands were to severe diplomatic ties with the French government and expulsion of its envoy to Pakistan.

The ISO also urged the government to launch an organised movement and pursue the OIC to lead a campaign against France.

The protesters also set the flag of France on fire.

Later, a delegation of the ISO submitted a memorandum to a representative of the French consulate general. The protesters dispersed peacefully.

Rallies by PTI, PML-F

The PTI also took out a rally at the same venue against the publication of blasphemous caricatures and the French president.

Roads remained opened for vehicular traffic as PTI workers and supporters protested at the corner of roads and dispersed peacefully.

The PML-F staged a rally outside the Karachi Press Club (KPC) where speakers said they would not tolerate any blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

The party’s Sindh chapter general secretary Sardar Rahim said the French president would have to seek an apology from Muslims.

ASWJ rally

The outlawed ASWJ also chose the road in front of the Karachi Press Club as the venue of their rally.

ASWJ chief Allama Aurangzeb Farooqi told the participants that the ‘criminal’ silence of the Muslim rulers was hurting the sentiments of Muslims.

He asked the government to announce a boycott of French products at official level.

It may be recalled that President Macron in his interview with Al Jazeera tried to explain that he “understands the feelings of Muslims about the caricatures”.

He claimed that “the caricatures are not a government project rather the product of free and independent newspapers that are no affiliated with the government”.

He added: “I think the reactions were due to lies and misrepresentation and because people think I am in favour of these caricatures.”


UAE’s Mohammed bin Zayed condemns violence, hate speech in call to France’s Macron

Tamara Abueish

02 November 2020

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed condemned the recent terrorist attacks in France in a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces offered his condolences to the president and the families of the victims of the recent attacks, adding that he rejected any justifications used by terrorists to excuse their crimes, Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

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The Crown Prince also stressed that violence is not representative of the teachings of Prophet Mohammed.

“These violent atrocities are inconsistent with the teachings and principles of all monotheistic religions that call for peace, tolerance and love and emphasized the sanctity of human life,” WAM cited the Crown Prince as saying.

“Under no circumstances should the Prophet be linked to violence or politicization,” he said.

The Crown Prince also called on individuals of different backgrounds to engage in respectful dialogue rather than resort to hate speech and violence.

The phone call came after a recent string of attacks following the murder of French teacher Samuel Paty by an extremist. Paty had shown his students cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed during a class on the freedom of speech – an act that Muslims consider to be blasphemous.

Macron had labeled the killing as an “Islamist” attack and vowed to crackdown on radicalism.

Thousands of soldiers have also been stationed across the country in front of places of worship and schools, after a knife-wielding man killed three people in a church in the French city of Nice last week.





Macron remarks 'step toward moderation but not enough'

Ahmed Asmar 


A renowned Muslim scholar said on Sunday that the French president's recent remarks, in which he said he understands the feelings of Muslims shocked by blasphemous cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, are a "step toward moderation" but not enough for remedy of his earlier statements.

"We expect from him the courage to openly apologize to our beloved, the greatest Messenger Muhammad and to all Muslims," Ali al-Qaradaghi, the secretary general of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, tweeted.

The French leader told Al Jazeera Arabic that he respects the sentiments of Muslims but will always defend freedom to speech and expression.

Earlier, he defended the cartoons, paid tribute to Samuel Patty, a teacher who was murdered on Oct. 16 after he showed the derogatory images to his students, and described Islam "as a religion in crisis." He also announced a crackdown against "Islamist separatism" in France.

Last month, the cartoons were also projected on French government buildings.

The Muslim scholar called on Emmanuel Macron to initiate "constructive" and "serious" dialogue, and to enact laws that prohibit and criminalize "insult and contempt against Islam and religious sanctities."

Macron's controversial stance has led to international condemnations, protests and calls to boycott French-made products.

Amid the outcry, on Oct. 29, a knife-wielding man killed three people at a church in the Mediterranean city of Nice. The violent attack attracted global condemnation.


France: Police detain 6 people in Nice attack

Cindi Cook  



Police announced Sunday that an additional six people have now been taken into custody over Thursday's brutal attacks in the French city of Nice, according to local media.

The savage attacks occurred Thursday morning just after 8.30 a.m. local time (0730GMT) when Brahim Aouissaoui, a 21-year-old Tunisian-born immigrant, entered the Basilica of Notre Dame de l'Assumption and fatally stabbed two women and one man. One of the women, a 70-year-old, was decapitated.

Police arrested Aouissaoui that morning after firing on him, and the National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor's Office opened an investigation immediately, which is still underway.

Two more men, aged 25 and 63, were taken into custody Saturday afternoon, detained at the home of another individual who had been detained earlier on Saturday, according to reporting by Radio France International.

The men come from the town of Grasse, 40 minutes west of Nice, according the BFM TV news channel.

A second suspect, a 47-year-old man, had already been taken into custody Thursday evening. He is said to have interacted with the assailant on Wednesday ahead of the attacks.

More details have also been revealed about Aouissaoui, who remains hospitalized with serious injuries. He reportedly shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) several times as police tried to detain him.

Despite police questioning, Aouissaoui's reasons have yet to be uncovered.

"It is still too early to say if there were others complicit, what his motivations were in coming to France, and when this idea took root in him," a source close to the investigation said to RFI on Saturday.

According to anti-terrorism Prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard, Aouissaoui had landed on the island of Lampedusa, off the coast of Tunisia, on Sept. 20 before arriving in Bari, Italy on the mainland on Oct. 9. He then crossed into France where documentation from the Red Cross revealed more on his movements. Aouissaoui had been unknown to law enforcement before Thursday.

Reporting by daily France24 indicates that investigators are also looking into Aouissaoui's connections and relationships in Sicily, suspecting he may have spent time on that island after traveling from Lampedusa to Bari on a ship used to quarantine migrants.

Judicial sources further detail that Aouissaoui was given an expulsion order once in Bari which commanded him to leave Italy within a week. It is thought that the assailant did not depart but stayed in the town of Alcaro for 10 days.

The attack in Nice is one of four acts of terror or potential terror that occurred on Thursday. Two others happened in the French cities of Avignon and Lyon and one in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at the French consulate.

Yet another incident occurred in Lyon Saturday evening, the shooting of a Greek Orthodox priest by an assailant as he was closing the church. The priest remains in the hospital critically wounded.

President Emmanuel Macron has called the attack in Nice an act of "Islamist terror". Prime Minister Jean Castex moved France to an emergency level anti-terrorism plan Thursday as a result of the attacks.

After Three Terror Attacks In Five Weeks, French Muslims Stigmatised By Attacks, Feel Under Pressure

02 Nov 2020

PARIS: The pressure rises with each gruesome attack. After three in five weeks, France’s Muslims are feeling squeezed.

A spotlight of suspicion was trained on them again even before the latest acts of extremist violence, including two beheadings. President Emmanuel Macron has forged ahead with his effort to rid Islam in France of extremists, part of a project he labels separatism, a term that makes Muslims wince.

Amid intensifying rhetoric and fresh attacks by outsiders, including the killings of three people on Thursday at a Catholic church in Nice, Muslims in France have kept their heads down and chins up. But deep down, some are squirming, feeling they are being held responsible.

It's worrisome for Muslims, said Hicham Benaissa, a sociologist who specialises in Islam in the workplace. Within his network, he said, some talk about leaving France. The situation is tense. There is fear.

Islam is the second religion in France, which has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe. But the country’s estimated five million Muslims have walked a delicate line in search of full acceptance in what for many is their nation of birth. Discrimination casts a shadow over some and is an outright barrier to mainstream life for others.

France’s cherished value of secularism, which is meant to ensure religious freedom, has in recent years been used by the state to reign in customs practiced by some Muslims. The president’s proposed law may mean further tinkering with the 1905 secularism law born out of a conflict with the powerful Roman Catholic clergy.

Macron has prompted angry protests and calls for boycotts of French products this past week from South Asia to the Mideast. He is accused of spreading anti-Muslim sentiment, notably while eulogising the teacher who was decapitated near Paris, by defending the French right to caricaturise the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

Samuel Paty was attacked outside his school on Oct 16 by a teenage refugee of Chechen origin for showing the caricatures in a civics class. A young Tunisian man killed three people on Thursday inside the basilica in the southern city of Nice, beheading one woman, The series of bloodletting began on Sept 25 when a young Pakistani refugee injured two people outside the former Charlie Hebdo newsroom office in Paris.

In January 2015, attackers massacred 12 people there after the paper published caricatures of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). That trial is underway.Muslims are neither guilty nor responsible ... We shouldn’t have to justify ourselves, said Abdallah Zekri, an official of the French Council for the Muslim Faith.

The attacks and Macron’s separatism plan, which includes a partial overhaul of the way Islam is organised in France, from the training of imams to management of Muslim associations, have drilled home the divide. They also have focused attention on the cherished value of secularism laicite in French which is enshrined in the French Constitution but is still not clearly defined.

The presence of Islam was not something foreseen by French society, said Tareq Oubrou, a leading imam in Bordeaux.

Tensions have run high in the past, notably with changes to the secularism law, with a 2004 law banning headscarves in classrooms and another in 2010 banning face-coverings. Secularism has always been a smokescreen ... a hidden way to treat the question of Islam, Benaissa said.

Rim-Sarah Alouane, a doctoral candidate at Toulouse Capitole University, researching religious freedom and civil liberties, is tougher. Since the 1990s, lacite has been weaponised and misused as a political tool to limit the visibility of religious signs, especially Muslim ones, she said.

The state needs to make sure to respect and fully embrace its diversity and not consider it a threat, she said.

The rise of Islam into public view was gradual and mostly went unnoticed until the far right seized upon it as a threat to the French identity. Over the years mosques have multiplied, along with Muslim schools.

Muslim men initially came to France to take menial jobs following World War II. In the 1970s, immigrant Muslims working in car factories, construction and other sectors were absolutely essential to French industry, Benaissa said. Renault, for instance, installed prayer rooms.

Today, when a veiled woman arrives in a company, there is ... a revolt. What happened? he asked.

Many Muslims, unlike their parents or grandparents, are getting educations, better jobs and erasing the myth of return, he said.

Olivier Roy, a top expert, told a parliamentary committee that most Muslims have worked to integrate into French culture. They format themselves to the French Republic and complain they don’t get a payback in return, don’t have the benefit of recognition, he said.

Macron conceded in a speech that France bears full responsibility for the ghettoisation of Muslims in housing projects but insists the planned law is not about stigmatising Muslims.

Yet stigmatism is part of life in France for many, from being singled out by police for ID checks to discrimination in job searches.

The Muslim is reduced to his religion, said Oubrou, the Bordeaux imam. Everything is not Christian in the life of a Christian.

The religion with no single leader has multiple strains in France, running from moderate to Salafist with a rigorous interpretation of the religion to outright radical upstarts.

In his project, Macron envisions measures like training imams in France instead of bringing them in from Turkey, Morocco or Algeria.

Benaissa doesn’t underestimate the ideological offensive of political Islam, but says a ferocious public debate is reducing Islam to a single fear.


Aliyev says Azerbaijan will fight ‘to the end’ if Nagorno-Karabakh talks fail

02 November 2020

Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said on Sunday his troops would “go to the end” should negotiations fail to result in an agreement by ethnic Armenian forces to withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions.

Aliyev, speaking during a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in the Azeri capital Baku, also said Armenia had “no basis” to request Russian military assistance in the conflict.

Further shelling was reported by Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces in and around Nagorno-Karabakh on Sunday. The death toll in the region’s worst fighting in more than 25 years has already surpassed 1,000 and is possibly much higher.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is populated and controlled by ethnic Armenians.

The conflict has brought into sharp focus the increased influence of Turkey, an ally of Azerbaijan, in a former Soviet region considered by Russia to be within its sphere of influence. Russia also has a security alliance with Armenia.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has asked Russia to outline the extent of the support it could expect from Moscow.

In response, Russia’s foreign ministry said on Saturday it would provide “all assistance required” should the conflict spill onto “the territory of Armenia” - land that is outside the current conflict zone.

Aliyev, quoted by state news agency Azertag, said he wanted to resolve the conflict through negotiations that would result in the withdrawal of ethnic Armenian forces.

“Otherwise,” he said, “we will continue by any means to restore our territorial integrity and ... we will go to the end.”

Azerbaijan’s advances on the battlefield since fighting began on Sept. 27 have reduced its incentive to strike a lasting peace deal and complicated international efforts to broker a truce. Three ceasefires have failed to hold.

The ethnic Armenian-controlled Nagorno-Karabakh military said that missiles been targeted at the town of Martuni, the village of Karin Tak and the city of Shushi, just 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the enclave’s largest city, Stepanakert.

Armenia’s defense ministry said a second militant from Syria had been captured on the battlefield. Azerbaijan has previously denied the presence of foreign fighters.

Azerbaijan’s defense ministry said its army units in Tovuz, Gadabay and Gubadli had come under shelling overnight. Combat on Sunday was concentrated in Aghdere, Aghdam, Gubadli and Khojavend - the Azeri name for Martuni.

Nagorno-Karabakh’s army says 1,166 of its soldiers have been killed since Sept. 27 and the office of Nagorno-Karabakh’s human rights ombudsman said the civilian death toll was 45.

Azerbaijan, which does not disclose its military casualties, says 91 civilians have been killed. Russia has estimated as many as 5,000 deaths on both sides.





Islam Gymkhana near Marine Drive Bans Rummy: It Is A Club, Not A Madrasa, President Yusuf Should Not Play The Religion Card

Nov 2, 2020

MUMBAI: The 129-year-old sea-facing Islam Gymkhana near Marine Drive, a popular sports hub and centre for socio-cultural activities, is in the eye of a storm after its president Yusuf Abrahni banned rummy and other card games on its premises.

Claiming that some members indulged in gambling while playing rummy, Abrahni closed the card room on Friday, which was Eid-e-Milad or Prophet Muhammad’s birth anniversary. The dissenting members have alleged that “a very religious” Abrahni is changing the gymkhana’s “liberal” character and turning it into a “Madrasa”.

“If Abrahni knew that some members gambled at the gymkhana, why didn’t he lodge a police complaint?” asked Ishtiaq Ali, a member. “It is a club, not a Madrasa. He should not play the religion card.”

Which Madrasa has jacuzzi, asks Islam Gymkhana prez

Defending his decision, Abrahni, also a former Congress MLA, said: “We encourage all games and sports, but some members, in the name of playing rummy or cards, gambled. Our records show that there were five guests for one member at the cards room.”

“Ever since I took over as president last year, we have added over a dozen games, including tennis, badminton, volleyball, a women’s recreation section, a modern gym, jacuzzi, steam bath, sauna bath and spa. Those who say I have turned it into a Madrasa should explain which Madrasa has spa and steam bath facilities,” he said, adding that a swimming pool is in the pipeline and its multi-purpose turf hosts football, volleyball and cricket matches.

But Asif Farooqui, another Islam Gymkhana member, said: “If they want to stop gambling, they should do it. But preventing members, especially senior citizens, from playing cards is wrong. It will send a wrong message.” Many non-Muslims are also gymkhana’s members, he added.

In the 1890s, the British gave sea-facing plots along Marine Lines to build six gymkhanas to promote sports and games. Parsi, Islam, Hindu, Catholic, Police and Grant Medical College Gymkhanas came up on the plots leased by the city collector. Spread over 3.5 acres or 19,300 sq m, Islam Gymkhana has hosted several cricket matches where legends like Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar have played. The gymkhana team has also produced many Ranji players, said a member of the Mumbai Cricket Association. Islam Gymkhana’s banquet hall and a portion of the ground have hosted several glitzy parties and wedding receptions.


Haryana May Do A Uttar Pradesh On Law Against Love Jihad 

02nd November 2020

By Harpreet Bajwa

CHANDIGARH: A day after Uttar Pradesh announced of bringing a law against ‘love jihad’, Haryana too is also considering legal provisions against it. Citing the recent murder of a student in Faridabad’s Ballabhgarh, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said the incident is being linked to ‘love jihad’, a derogatory coinage used by right-wing activists to refer to the alleged campaign of Muslims forcing Hindu girls to convert in the guise of love.

Last week, 21-year-old college student, Nikita, was shot dead in Ballabhgarh by a man. The victim’s family has alleged that the man was pressuring her to convert to Islam in order to marry him. Earlier in the day, Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij tweeted the state government ‘is contemplating a law against love jihad’.

A few right-wing Hindu outfits have alleged that the woman’s murder is a case of love jihad. The working president of Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) Alok Kumar met the victim’s family on Friday and expressed concern over the incident. “A talented young, ambitious girl was murdered by Islamic jihadists at a public place in broad daylight. It is very difficult to bear this loss,” Kumar said.

On Saturday, Adityanath had said his government would come out with a law to deal with ‘love jihad’ and used the Hindu funeral chant ‘Ram Naam Satya Hai’ to threaten those who don’t respect their daughters and sisters.

He said posters would be put up of those involved in ‘love jihad’. Adityanath also welcomed the Allahabad High Court ruling declaring that conversion for the sole purpose of marriage is not valid.


Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad backs Yogi Adityanath, seeks law against 'love jihad'

Nov 1, 2020

PRAYAGRAJ: The Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad (ABAP), the apex body of all the 13 recognised Hindu monastic orders, has extended its support to UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath for his announcement of soon framing a stringent law to stop 'love jihad'.

ABAP president Mahant Narendra Giri said on Sunday, “This is the appropriate time when strict action should be taken against the people involved in love jihad, and the action should be so severe that even their future generations never dare to do it. A strict law should be framed against love jihad and enforced at the earliest.”

Love jihad is a planned conspiracy to convert Hindu women by duping them and hence comes under the category of crime, he said.

Giri urged the CM to frame and enforce the law at the earliest and said love jihad cases went on rising as previous governments never did anything to stop the culprits.

Addressing election rallies in east UP on Saturday, CM Yogi had said his government will bring a strict law to stop love jihad and warned those faking identity for exploiting women to desist, else be ready for ‘Ram Naam Satya’.

“A racket was running across the country where some Muslims posed as Hindus to marry Hindu girls and later forces them to convert. Those Hindu girls, who refused to change the religion, were abandoned or killed,” he added.

There is also an urgent need to find out who is funding these love jihad incidents. Those involved in love jihad are trying to defame Hindu religion through a planned conspiracy, the Mahant said.

He also appealed Hindu women to be very careful and urged them to marry the grooms selected by their parents.


Pak’s Gilgit-Baltistan move bid to hide illegal occupation: MEA

Nov 2, 2020

NEW DELHI: Pakistani PM Imran Khan further ratcheted up tension with India on Sunday as he announced “provisional provincial status” for Gilgit-Baltistan in an apparent move to annex the militarily occupied territory, through which passes China’s controversial China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as Pakistan’s fifth province.

The announcement drew another scathing response from India with the foreign ministry asking Pakistan to immediately vacate all Indian territories under its illegal occupation instead of making efforts to change their status.

The government said such attempts by Pakistan, intended to camouflage its illegal occupation of Indian territories, could not hide the grave human rights violations, exploitation and denial of freedom for over seven decades to the people residing in these Pakistan-occupied territories.

The government reiterated that the UTs of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, including the area of “so-called Gilgit-Baltistan”, are an integral part of India by virtue of the legal, complete and irrevocable accession of Jammu & Kashmir to the Union of India in 1947.

"The government of Pakistan has no locus standi on territories illegally and forcibly occupied by it,” MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, adding that India firmly rejected Pakistan’s attempt to bring material changes to a part of Indian territory under its illegal and forcible occupation.

Khan’s announcement, at a rally in Gilgit-Baltistan, comes at a time his government is faced with protests by major opposition parties who have united to corner him on a range of issues, including a failing economy. These protests have seen members of Nawaz Sharif’s party PML-N even targeting the Pakistan Army for its support to Khan’s government.

India believes Islamabad has been falsely claiming that the people of militarily occupied Gilgit-Baltistan want to integrate with Pakistan.


Pak considers registering treason case against PML-N leader over remarks on release of Abhinandan

Nov 1, 2020

LAHORE: The Pakistan government is mulling over registering a treason case against a senior Opposition leader for his controversial statement that the country handed over captured Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman to India under pressure, a top minister has said.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Sardar Ayaz Sadiq on Wednesday said that "legs were shaking and forehead perspiring" at a meeting of Pakistan's top leaders, including Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, wherein Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi pleaded to release Wing Commander Abhinandan, saying if he was not released, India would attack Pakistan.

"Legs were shaking and forehead perspiring, and the foreign minister (Qureshi) told us, 'For God's sake, let him (Varthaman) go back now because India is attacking Pakistan at 9 PM in the night'," Sadiq said, recalling the meeting which was also attended by parliamentary leaders, including those from Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and PML-N, and added that "India was not planning to attack...They just wanted to kneel before India and send back Abhinandan."

Responding to Sadiq's remarks, Pakistan Interior Minister Ejaz Shah told reporters that the government was pondering over registering a treason case against Sadiq as police have received a number of complaints against him.

He said those toeing the line of India should better go to Amritsar.

Posters of Sadiq have also appeared in Lahore, dubbing him a "traitor".

A number of posters and banners with pictures of Wing Commander Abhinandan and Sadiq were displayed in the constituency of the former National Assembly Speaker.

Portraying Sadiq in Abhinandan's getup, the posters read: "Mir Sadiq, Mir Jaffar... Ayaz Sadiq."

The PML-N has strongly reacted to the move blaming the PTI government for 'awarding traitor certificates' to its political opponents.

PML-N Punjab information secretary lawmaker Azma Bokhari said the one who put up "traitor" posters of Sadiq must be having a criminal record like in the past cases registered against the PML-N leadership.

The 37-year-old Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot was captured by the Pakistani Army on February 27 after his MiG-21 Bison jet was shot down in a dogfight with Pakistani jets during aerial combat.

In the early hours of February 26, 2019, the IAF jets bombed the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror camps in Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of Pakistan and avenged the Pulwama terrorist attack that claimed the lives of 40 CRPF personnel.

Before his jet was hit, Abhinandan downed an F-16 fighter of Pakistan. He was released on the night of March 1 by Pakistan.

In a speech in the National Assembly, Sadiq said that Prime Minister Imran Khan skipped the high-level meeting, which was attended by top leadership, including Army chief Gen Bajwa and Foreign Minister Qureshi.


Cartoon row: Cong MLA arrested in Bhopal for protest against French President

Nov 02, 2020

A Congress MLA from Bhopal and 49 others were arrested on Sunday for violating prohibitory orders by staging a protest on Thursday against French President Emmanuel Macron over the row triggered by cartoons on Prophet Mohammed, police said.

An FIR was registered by Bhopal police under section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of IPC against the MLA from Bhopal central constituency Arif Masood and 2,000 people at Talaiya police station on Saturday for staging the protest at Iqbal Maidan against French President without taking any permission from the district administration, said Upendra Jain, additional director general (ADG) of police, Bhopal.

They were released on bail from the police station, according to the police officer.

“They violated prohibitory orders issued by the district collector in view of the coronavirus pandemic, hence the FIR and arrest,” he added.

A heavy police force was deployed at Iqbal Maidan on Sunday as messages were circulated for another protest at the same venue for the evening.

The ADG said the messages were being circulated on social media.

Before his arrest, Masood said, “People who gathered at Iqbal Maidan on Thursday were not invited for the protest. People reached there on their own to register their protest on the France issue.”



India rejects Pak’s province status for Gilgit-Baltistan

Rezaul H Laskar and Imtiaz Ahmad

Nov 02, 2020

India on Sunday rejected the Pakistan government’s decision to give “provisional provincial status” to Gilgit-Baltistan, saying Islamabad has no locus standi on Indian territory under its illegal and forcible occupation.

New Delhi’s response came hours after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the decision during a visit to Gilgit-Baltistan, giving another twist to the controversy over the region claimed by India as part of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

While addressing a gathering in Gilgit to mark the so-called “independence day” of Gilgit-Baltistan, Khan also accused the Indian government of trying to foment unrest in Pakistan and creating a divide between the Shia and Sunni communities.

“I want to greet the people of Gilgit-Baltistan today because we have decided that Gilgit-Baltistan will be given provisional provincial status, which was their demand for long,” Khan said, speaking in Urdu.

“We have made this decision while keeping in mind the UN Security Council resolutions. We made the decision in between the UN Security Council resolutions,” he said. He did not give further details or say when Gilgit-Baltistan would become Pakistan’s fifth province. Khan also said his government had a development package in mind for the region but that he couldn’t announce details because of polls to be held on November 15.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava responded to the announcement by saying: “The government of India firmly rejects the attempt by Pakistan to bring material changes to a part of Indian territory under its illegal and forcible occupation.”

The union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, “including the area of so-called ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’, are an integral part of India by virtue of the legal, complete and irrevocable accession of Jammu and Kashmir to the Union of India in 1947”, Srivastava said.

“The government of Pakistan has no locus standi on territories illegally and forcibly occupied by it,” he said. Srivastava further said attempts by Pakistan to “camouflage its illegal occupation cannot hide the grave human rights violations, exploitation and denial of freedom for over seven decades to the people residing in these Pakistan-occupied territories”. He added, “Instead of seeking to alter the status of these Indian territories, we call upon Pakistan to immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation.”

The Pakistan government intends to make Gilgit-Baltistan a full-fledged province with constitutional rights such as representation in both houses of Parliament. The plan has the backing of Pakistan’s powerful military establishment, and Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party is banking on the move to boost its chances in the elections in the region.

Two years ago, the powers of the Islamabad-controlled council for Gilgit-Baltistan were transferred to a local assembly. In 2009, the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order renamed the Northern Areas as Gilgit-Baltistan and the region was given province-like status but without representation in Parliament.

During his speech, Khan highlighted the importance of a strong military in the face of what he described as a campaign by the Indian government to foment unrest across Pakistan and to create a split between the Sunni majority and Shia minority. He also said it was necessary for Pakistan to have a strong military in view of the oppression of the Kashmiri people by the Indian government following the scrapping of J&K’s special status on August 5 last year.

He praised Pakistan’s intelligence agencies for foiling what he said were India’s moves to create unrest at a time when opposition parties were making plans to discredit the military and judiciary. Khan particularly defended army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed from attacks by the opposition parties.

Referring to PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq’s remarks that Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman – shot down in a dogfight during the military standoff triggered by the Pulwama terror attack in February 2019 – was freed by Pakistan because of fears of an impending attack by India, Khan said the opposition leaders were “speaking like [Indian Prime Minister] Narendra Modi”.


Hizbul Muhajideen’s top terrorist Saifullah killed in encounter in Kashmir’s Rangreth; police laud ‘huge success’

Nov 01, 2020

Edited by Poulomi Ghosh

Hizbul Muhajideen top operative Dr Saifullah was killed during a gunfight in Rangreth area on Sunday, said police. One militant was also captured alive during the operation that was launched in the morning on a specific information, police said.

Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Range Vijay Kumar said that they had got an information that some militants who had come for south Kashmir are hiding in the area in Rangreth. “A joint operation was launched by Police, CRPF and later Army also joined,” he said.

Kumar said that one terrorist was killed and another captured alive during the encounter. “Our sources have told us that the terrorist killed in the operation is Hizbul Mujahideen chief commander, Dr Saifullah.” He said that they are waiting for the family members of Hizb chief to identify the body.

Kumar termed the killing of Saifullah a ‘big success’ for the security forces. “He is the second Hizb chief killed in the operation this year. Earlier in May, Riyaz Naikoo who was operational commander was also killed in an encounter in Pulwama and then Dr Saifullah was nominated as the new Hizb chief. For security forces, this is a big success.”



South Asia


Afghan-Taliban Delegations Agrees on Third Party Mediation

By Mohammad Haroon Alim

01 Nov 2020

The Afghan government and the Taliban have agreed that Qatar will play a role in facilitating peace talks and advising negotiators to both sides.

Sources in Doha says after the government and the Taliban failed to resolve their differences, it was decided that Qatar should play a mediative role.

According to the reports, the Qatari government will not be able to participate in the Intra-Afghan talks but will be able to advise the interlocutors of both sides individually when differences escalate.

Five countries: Qatar, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Norway, and Germany are proposed for the mediating role, which was eventually agreed upon.

The Afghan government and the Taliban have not yet agreed on a basis for peace talks, which is one of the most serious differences between the two.

Taliban still stresses the basis for the Intra-Afghan talks should be the US-Doha agreement, but the Afghan government has reportedly rejected. They credit the basis according to the resolution of the Consultative Peace Jirga and the Kabul declarations.

Peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban began on September 12, but so far, the two sides have not been able to agree on a strategical policy or procedures for the talks.


Negotiating Team Discusses Afghan Peace with ‘Various Strata of Balkh Province’

By Mohammad Arif Sheva

02 Nov 2020

KABUL, Afghanistan – Following a series of consultative meetings on Afghan peace, an online meeting was held Sunday between members of the Afghan Negotiating Team and “different Strata of Balkh province”, said State Ministry for Peace in a statement.

Sayed Sadat Mansoor Naderi, State Minister for Peace and a member of the negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, said the Ministry is a platform for connecting all different sections of society with structures active in the field of peace.

“The ministry is working to connect different strata with the negotiating team so that the people are directly informed about the issues and developments in the peace process,” he said in the statement.

“The questions and issues raised in these meetings are collected and documented and shared with the negotiating team and relevant officials,” Naderi added.

Mohammad Farhad Azimi, Balkh Governor, said Afghan people are at a critical juncture and the only solution is peace, adding an unconditional peace is not acceptable to the people of Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Mawlawi Atta-ur-Rahman Saleem, Deputy Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), said those in charge and Afghanistan as a whole should be able to make the most of the current opportunity to resolve the crisis.

“The people of Afghanistan, the countries of the region, the scholars of the Islamic world and the whole world are in a consensus to end the crisis; Therefore, we must now hear more from the people,” he said.

Mohammad Afzal Hadid, head of the Balkh Provincial Council, called for sharing information retrieved form the negotiations with the people, stressing the government and members of the negotiating team have the support of the people in the peace process, according to the statement. 

Referring to the unity and agreement among the members of the negotiating team, Sayed Sadat Mansoor Naderi said that they are working with the aim of creating a dignified, lasting and real peace.

Last week, a virtual meeting was held Wednesday between members of the Afghan Negotiating Team and members of the United Voice of Afghan Women for Peace Policy (UVAWPP), said State Ministry for Peace in a statement.

“The State Ministry for Peace facilitated the group’s [UVAWPP] activities and the meeting was organized to connect them with the negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,” said Alema, Deputy Minister of Human Rights and Civil Society, at the meeting.

Sayed Sadat Mansoor Naderi, State Minister for Peace, including members of the team affirming the statement, said such meetings have been held to widely involve the views and suggestions of women in peace negotiations.

“The Ministry acts as a link between all active structures in the negotiation process as well as the implementation of the agreement and is responsible for facilitating and ensuring the systematic relations of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan with the people, in which women have a valuable role,” Naderi added.


Afghans mark Unity Week amid wave of Islamophobia

01 November 2020

Afghans are marking the arrival of the birthday anniversary of the Prophet Muhammad under the name of Unity Week.

At a time when Islamophobia is growing in some parts of the world, and amid French president Emmanuel Macron’s recent insulting comments about the holy prophet of Islam, people in Afghanistan are attending ceremonies in Kabul as a show of respect and love for the prophet of over 2 billion Muslims.

Based on Islamic beliefs, the arrival of Unity Week - as its titles suggests – serves as a big opportunity for Muslims to once again return to the main teachings of the Prophet Muhammad such as strengthening unity among Muslims.

Some others believe that the arrival of the birthday anniversary of Islam's holy prophet is also an opportunity for mankind to review the life and words of the Prophet Muhammad to see the real face of Islam.

Besides calling for boosting Islamic brotherhood among Afghans, those attending ceremonies marking Unity Week say the cementing of national unity among people is one of the musts associated with Unity Week.

As observers say, the best way to lead the nation to real national unity is to remove the obstacles on the way of the ongoing peace talks between the government and Taliban in the Qatari capital Doha.


Crackdown on dissent deepens in Bangladesh

October 30, 2020

Asad Noor was born to a Muslim family in southeast Bangladesh, but he renounced Islam and became a self-styled atheist in 2012.

Trouble started brewing for him when he began blogging in 2016, mostly criticizing religions and religion-based injustices. He was charged under Bangladesh’s draconian Digital Security Act (DSA) twice and spent 14 months in jail. He left Bangladesh in 2017 and since then has been based in India.

“I have mostly written about rights of minorities and injustices against them. I have been critical of Islamic extremism. That’s why I have become a target of religious fanatics and the government,” Noor, 30, told UCA News.

Noor has recently been facing the ire of an Islamist-political nexus in Chittagong for supporting a Buddhist monk who has been falsely accused of insulting Islam on social media. Secularists claimed the monk has been targeted for opposing attempted grabbing of a local temple and monastery.

In July, Noor was against charged under the DSA for hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims with his social media posts.

In his absence, police allegedly detained and interrogated his family members for hours on July 18 before releasing them due to pressure from rights groups at home and abroad.

“Bangladesh's government attempts to present the country as a bastion of pluralism and tolerance, but in reality there is no freedom of speech. The DSA was formulated mainly to curb free speech and it has truly become a weapon to muzzle free speech and dissent,” Noor said.

His family has been traumatized since police detention, Noor said, adding that his younger sister “cries out in her sleep” at night. “Their suffering has touched me deeply and hampered my regular writings as well,” he added.

The case of Noor has become common in Bangladesh for critics of religious extremists and the government in recent times, rights groups say.

A disturbing development

In a joint statement on Oct. 24, four international rights groups — Amnesty International, Asian Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Watch and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights — deplored the government’s crackdown “on those exercising their right to freedom of expression, and its failure to comply with its international obligations to uphold fundamental rights.”

The groups noted that family members of three Bangladesh-born prominent bloggers and activists — Asad Noor, France-based Pinaki Bhattacharya and Sweden-based journalist and rights activist Tasneem Khalil — have been harassed by law enforcement agencies.

Bhattacharya, 57, a well-known government critic, recently alleged that police interrogated and intimidated his elderly mother and maternal uncle in Bogra district of northern Bangladesh.

Similarly, Khalil has alleged that on several occasions police visited and questioned his mother, who is based in Sylhet district of Bangladesh. In the latest case, two police officers visited her on Oct. 27.

“Earlier today, two officers from the Special Branch visited my mother Nazneen Khalil’s residence in Sylhet. As she is isolating herself due to very high Covid-19 risk, my mother did not let them inside — they stood outside the main door and talked to her via phone. She was questioned about me, my siblings and our current whereabouts. They also wanted to get personal details on me,” Khalil wrote on Facebook.

Earlier, the government blocked Netra News, a news portal edited by Khalil, after the authorities accused it of publishing anti-state content.

Rights groups deplored these threats to family members and termed such actions as adding “to the serious concerns about the widespread crackdown on activists, journalists, and others who question or criticize the government.”

“Bangladeshi authorities should independently and impartially investigate these allegations of harassment, hold members of security forces accountable for their actions, and put an end to the intimidation of family members of activists and those exercising their right to freedom of expression,” they said.

Freedom of speech violated

Once known as a moderate Muslim-majority country with a long-held tradition of religious harmony and pluralism, Bangladesh has seen a sharp rise in Islamic militancy since 2013.

Islamic militants attacked and killed about 50 people including nine atheist bloggers and writers, accusing them of defaming Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, and it forced dozens of atheist bloggers to flee to Europe and the US.

The government also arrested four atheist bloggers but later released them on condition of not “hurting religious sentiments” anymore.

In 2018, the DSA was passed despite strong opposition from journalists and free thinkers who argued the cyberlaw contained huge scope for abuse and meant to gag media and freedom of speech.

Since then over 1,000 cases have been filed against individuals and groups under the law, mostly over allegations of hurting religious sentiment, local media reported. 

The government needs to impartially investigate each case of intimidation and harassment of family members of bloggers and activists, says Nur Khan, former executive director of Dhaka-based rights group Ain-O-Salish Kendra (Law and Arbitration Center).

“Without proper investigation and punishment for perpetrators, a climate of fear will descend on Bangladesh, which has already seen a crackdown on media and dissent. If this continues, democracy will die a slow death,” Khan told UCA News.

The government has become ultra-sensitive and lost the virtue of tolerance, says Holy Cross Father Liton H. Gomes, secretary of the Catholic bishops’ Justice and Peace Commission.

“The government takes on anyone who somehow hits at government interests. Everyone has a constitutional right to criticize the government and it is unacceptable that their families face harassment,” Father Gomes told UCA News.

“The government is afraid of criticism, but it could learn much from criticism had it taken criticism positively. We are far from learning how to tolerate and digest criticism.”

Government officials and allies have claimed Bangladeshi citizens are allowed to exercise freedom of speech properly.

“There is no direct and indirect hindrance of freedom of speech in Bangladesh,” Hasnul Haque Inu, president of the parliamentary permanent committee on the Information Ministry, told BBC Bangla Service this week.


Malaysian Global Islamic Unity Forum Condemns War in Afghanistan

By Mohammad Haroon Alim

02 Nov 2020

Afghanistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said the Malaysian Global Islamic Unity Forum, one of the country’s largest and most reputable Islamic non-profit organizations, condemned the ongoing war and violence in Afghanistan.

This reputable organization declared the Afghan war against the Islamic Sharia law and called it unlawful.

MoFA said in a released statement: “In a letter to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Kuala Lumpur, GIUF called for an end to the Afghan crisis through dialogues and negotiations.”

Earlier, the Association of Islamic Scholars of Bangladesh had condemned the ongoing war in Afghanistan and called on all parties in the conflict to end the war through negotiations.


Taliban Probably Have Used Drone in Kunduz Attack: Report

By Mohammad Haroon Alim

02 Nov 2020

New York Times report, a worrisome shift in the battle tactics of the Taliban militants, the strike has reportedly targeted governor’s compound in Kunduz Province.

On Sunday, an attack most likely carried out by a drone, killed at least four security officers in Kunduz the northern part of the country.

According to the officials, this could be the Taliban’s first publicly used method in 19 years.

The strike killed four of the governor’s security guards while they were playing volleyball inside the compound, and eight others are left wounded.

Ghulam Rabbani Rabbani, a member of Kunduz’s provincial council, told New York Times, “It is not clear that it was an explosion or a missile or drone attack.”

A similar type of Attack occurred in Kunduz’s governor compound, leaving one person dead.

Such war methods were previously used by ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

This is despite the fact that Intra-Afghan talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Qatar have stalled and the war in the country has intensified.

Earlier, First Vice President Amrullah Saleh said the Afghan government has been successful in testing tools that can repel the Taliban’s thermal, night vision attacks.


At least 50,000 take part in anti-France rally in Bangladesh capital

02 November 2020

At least 50,000 people rallied in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka on Monday to demonstrate against French President Emmanuel Macron’s defense of the right to criticize Islam as part of freedom of speech.

Police estimated some 50,000 people took part in the protest, which demanded a boycott of French products and was prevented from marching to the French embassy. organizers said more than 100,000 people took part.



Southeast Asia


Rights groups concerned over probe into Kedah event organiser for ‘encouraging vice’ after raid against trans women

30 Oct 2020


KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 — A coalition of local human rights groups have expressed concern today over a recent investigation launched into an event organiser in Kedah, allegedly for “‘encouraging vice”.

Following the raid on a private birthday where 30 trans women were singled out and arrested, the groups highlighted this dangerous trend of punishing event organisers, allies, or those who are inclusive of transgender persons.

“We are also deeply concerned by the investigation of the organiser for ‘encouraging vice’ and the instructions by the Kedah Islamic Department to end the event seemingly due to the inclusion and attendance of transgender women,” the groups said.

“This is a dangerous trend as it punishes event organisers, allies or people for being inclusive of transgender women. It further perpetuates the harmful stereotypes of trans women being deviants, sinners and criminals, leaving no room for social integration of transgender women in society.

“The state action is counter-productive to building an inclusive, safe and equal society,” they added.

They also called on Kedah Islamic enforcers to cease the investigation and all forms of prosecution of transgender women.

On October 27, the Kedah Islamic Department raided a birthday party where 30 transgender women out of 100 attendees were singled out and given notice to report back at the state religious department to be investigated under the Kedah Shariah Criminal Offences Enactment 1988.

According to the groups, the organiser, who was celebrating his birthday, was also handed a notice to report back to the department to be investigated for “encouraging vice”.

Section 7 of the enactment criminalises “transvestites”, where “men wearing female attire or acting like women in public” can be penalised by fine not more than RM1,000, jail not more than six month, or more.

Meanwhile, Section 23 of the same enactment criminalises “encouraging vice”, and offenders can be penalised by fine not more than RM500, jail not more than four months, or both.

The raid also resulted in the private event being abruptly ended due to instructions by the Islamic enforcers.

The raid was carried out with the police, and news reports suggest that some media outlets were also present at the raid.

“Following the constitutional review of Section 66 of the Negri Sembilan Shariah Criminal Offences Enactment in 2015, there has been a significant reduction of cases of arrest under the ‘posing as a man’ state enactments based on our collective monitoring.

“However, we have observed a resurgence of raids and arrests of transgender women in the last year. In most cases, the raids are a result of an alleged ‘tip-off’ or complaint, and the trans women are mostly subjected to ‘counselling’. This is a concerning trend,” they said.

The groups also reiterated that trans women are not “pretending, posing or acting” as women.

“They are women, and as such express themselves in a way that is authentic and representative of who they are and their identity,” the explained.

In addition, the groups also expressed disappointment in reports of the arrests by Malay tabloid Harian Metro and English daily New Straits Times (NST), both under the Media Prima Bhd, which they said were sensationalised.

It added that in the Harian Metro article and video report, it not only misgendered trans women multiple times, but also contained bias, disrespectful and inaccurate statements, language and title.

The activists have also questioned the presence of Harian Metro at the raid and the motive of their coverage.

“We have contacted Harian Metro to make the following changes in order to remove the prejudicial and sensational elements, and maintain a factual, ethical and non-bias reporting.

“However, no changes have been made so far, and we have not received a reply from Harian Metro,” the statement wrote.

The statement was undersigned by 14 groups which included Justice for Sisters, SEED Malaysia, Pelangi Campaign, Tenaganita, Amnesty International Malaysia, and Sisters in Islam.


PAS inclusive party that treats everyone equally, says its appointed Sabah assemblyman

01 Nov 2020

KOTA KINABALU, Nov 1 — PAS is an inclusive party and even in Sabah the people are well-treated regardless of their religious or racial background, said newly appointed state assemblyman Dr Aliakbar Gulasan.

The Sabah PAS Liaison Committee secretary said there was no question of PAS being branded as an Islamic party in the state because the most important struggle for the party was equality for all.

“I will prove that PAS is an inclusive party. Islam is a comprehensive religion not only in matters related to worship and divine affairs, but in all dealings.

“I will also work for a broader agenda such as conservation of the environment, maintaining cleanliness, integrity and others because these are religious demands. PAS has been ruling Kelantan for 30 years and the people are treated fairly and equally,” he told Bernama.

Aliakbar took his oath as Sabah state assemblyman on Oct 8 and is the first PAS Sabah leader to be nominated a state representative.

PAS is part of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition together with Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) and Parti Progresif Sabah (SAPP) and PN together with Barisan Nasional (BN) and Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) form Gabungan Rakyat Sabah that governs the state today.

Among other things Aliakbar said he would recommend that the government prepares a strategic plan to increase better employment opportunities for the people of Sabah.

“I will show that as a PAS representative integrity is important and that PAS is actually a party that respects all races and religions,” he said.

He said the current national integration measures, especially involving the people would have to be strengthened to ensure that Sabah, Sarawak and the Peninsula remain united to ensure long-term peace and solidarity. — Bernama





CBI Governor: Iran’s Foreign Currency Market Moving towards Stability

Nov 01, 2020

“The US cruel sanctions have left impact on foreign trade and channels to bring foreign currency to the country but the government will manage the situation through the plans already underway,” Hemmati said on Sunday.

“We are gradually moving towards stability in exchange rate in this market,” he added.

The Iranian rial has risen more than seven percent against the US dollar in the last week.

The rial closed at 268,000 against the dollar on Saturday, according to exchange price websites and reports from the unofficial currency market in downtown Tehran.

A senior member of the Iranian parliament said on Saturday that the dollar would continue to sink against the rial in the upcoming days.

Hosseinali Hajideligani said that many households had bought the dollar and other currencies over the past few weeks at illogically higher prices only to protect their savings.

“Many profiteers encouraged the people to buy foreign currencies at fake prices,” Hajideligani said.


Senior MP Confirms Capturing of Terrorist Ringleader behind 2018 Attack in Southwestern Iran

Nov 01, 2020

“Osivad is under interrogation of the Iranian security and intelligence forces,” Zonnouri was quoted as saying by ICANA (the parliament’s news agency) on Sunday.

He added that Osivad was detained outside Iran and was then transferred to the country.

“Certainly, the terrorist (Osivad) will be prepared for a fair trial after interrogation and completion of the case and he will be punished,” Zonnouri said.

Habib Chaab, also known as Habib Osivad is the former leader and the current vice-president of the Al-Ahwaziya terrorist group, which claimed responsibility for the September 2018 terrorist attack on a military parade in Ahvaz, Southwest of Iran, which killed 26 and injured 69 others.

The terrorists attacked the bystanders watching the annual Armed Forces' parades, marking the start of the Sacred Defense Week, commemorating Iranians' sacrifices during the 8 years of the Iraqi imposed war on Iran in 1980s, in disguise of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and Basij (volunteer) forces, killing and wounding several people, including innocent women and children.

None of the officials participating in the military parades in Ahwaz city in Khuzestan province was injured in the attack.

Last February, the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) and the Netherlands police separately arrested and charged four members of an anti-Iran terrorist group on suspicions of spying for Saudi Arabia and plans to conduct terrorist attack in Iran.

Three members of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA) or al-Ahwaziyeh terrorist group carried out espionage activities from 2012 to 2018, PET said in a statement on February 3.

It said the three individuals “collected information about individuals in Denmark and abroad and passed on this information to a Saudi intelligence service," among other things.

A pretrial detention hearing is due on February 4.

In August, the Iranian Intelligence Ministry announced it has arrested Jamshid Sharmahd, the ringleader of an anti-Iran terrorist group based in the United States.

Sharmahd directed "armed operations and acts of sabotage" in Iran from the US, according to the Intelligence Ministry.

Following a complicated operation, the ringleader of the group, named Tondar (Thunder), was arrested and he is "now in the powerful hands" of Iranian security forces, it said at the time.

Also, in October 2019, the Intelligence Organization of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corp (IRGC) had managed to arrest Rouhollah Zam, the administrator of counterrevolutionary website Amad News, in a neighboring country.

The meticulous intelligence operation involved outmaneuvering the intelligence services of certain Western countries, especially France, which offered Zam guidance and protection for his operation.

“Intelligence forces had been keeping a watchful eye on Rouhollah Zam’s movements for a long time and he stepped into the intelligence trap set by IRGC some two years ago. Ultimately, we were able to arrest him through cooperation with other intelligence services,” Second Brigadier General Mohammad Tavallaei, a high-ranking IRGC official, said at the time.

In June this year, Iran’s Judiciary sentenced Zam to death after he was convicted of corruption on earth.


FM Warns against Presence of Terrorists in Karabakh Region

Nov 01, 2020

“We are almost certain about the presence of terrorists during clashes and we have certainly stressed that it does not benefit anyone,” Zarif said on Sunday.

“During recent negotiations and even before that we informed the officials of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia and Turkey that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not tolerate such a situation,” he added.

Zarif, meantime, said that the terrorists are not present near the Iranian borders, and added, “But the possibility of their presence in a distance from our borderlines is still high and we have informed both sides (Azerbaijan and Armenia) of this concern.”

Zarif had earlier this week sent his Deputy Seyed Abbas Araqchi to Azerbaijan, Russia, Armenia and Turkey to promote Tehran’s initiative for the peaceful resolution of the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Karabakh region.

Araqchi stressed that Tehran’s peace plan is based on “a regional approach” with the participation of influential countries, including Russia and Turkey.

The proposal also takes into account the realities on the ground, he said, adding that three ceasefires have failed to bring peace to the Karabakh as they did not consider those realities.

Iran’s initiative calls on warring sides to abide by international rules such as respect for the rights of minorities and humanitarian rights as well as non-aggression against civilians and return of refugees. It further outlines a series of specific principles related to the Karabakh crisis, among them ending the occupation and observing territorial integrity and inviolability of borders, according to Araqchi.

He expressed hope that the plan could pave the way for lasting peace in the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, noting, "However, that it is not an easy task because of problems and foreign interference."

"The Islamic Republic has always voiced its readiness to establish a truce, start dialog and restore peace given its good relations with Azerbaijan and Armenia and the critical condition in the region," he emphasized.

The new escalation began on September 27 after Armenian separatists — who have been seeking to break the region away from Azerbaijan for around three decades — opened fire on Azeri soldiers. More than 1,000 people, including more than a 100 civilians, have reportedly died in the violence.

The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the highland region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory that had been part of Azerbaijan before the Soviet Union break-up, but primarily populated by ethnic Armenians, broke out in February 1988 after the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region announced its withdrawal from the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic.

The fighting has been rated the worst to plague Nagorno-Karabakh since 1992, when Armenians invaded the region and forced Azeris into a retreat.

A number of stray shells and projectiles have crossed the Iranian border, prompting stern warnings from Tehran.

The Ground Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has deployed a mechanized brigade to protect the country’s Northwestern border amid the ongoing clashes between the two former Soviet republics.


Presidential Change Not to Change US Policy against Iran

Nov 01, 2020

“US policy against Iran will not change under any circumstances with the election of a Democrat or Republican president,” Jalali said on Sunday, adding, “The fact is that the pressures imposed on Iranian nation by enemy are unprecedented anywhere in the world.”

“Under such circumstances, we have been able to maintain the independence of the country,” he went on to say.

In relevant remarks on Saturday, Brigadier General Jalali said, “The Americans have gone after war against Iran’s vital infrastructures after being disappointed in the military front.”

He added that most attacks against Iran’s infrastructures are cyberattacks, explaining that the culprit behind such attacks is not known.

General Jalali said that cyber systems now play a major role in Iran’s vital infrastructures due to their rapid development, stressing the need for strengthening the cyber defense infrastructures in the country.


Iranian Rights Group Urges UN to Impose Arms Ban on Saudis to Stop Yemen War

Nov 01, 2020

Secretary general of Iranian Youths’ Human Rights Organization, Amin Ansari, made the remarks in a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Saturday.

"The Saudi government, supported and equipped by Western states, is committing war crimes, including targeting civilians and completely disregarding the principle of differentiation between military and civilian targets", Ansari wrote, stressing the necessity of UN sanctions on the Saudi regime to give up heinous crimes against the Yemeni oppressed people.

The letter came amid the global marking of the UN Disarmament Week, which is aimed at promoting awareness of disarmament issues.

Stating that international criminal courts have set the stage for prosecution of culprits, Ansari underlined the need for the UN's political will to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice.

"If the oppressed people of Yemen enjoy the political will and serious support of the UN bodies, especially the Security Council, the world will witness international criminal justice for the founders, perpetrators and accomplices of this great crime," he continued.

Ansari also urged Guterres to boost his efforts to support the rights of the defenseless Yemeni people and to use the world body's potential to provide relief and humanitarian aid to the victims of the war-ravaged country.

Saudi regime and a number of its regional allies launched the war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former fugitive president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crush the popular Ansarullah movement.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 100,000 lives for over the past five years; although the facts on the ground and eye witness accounts put the number of the dead far more than this figure.

Ansarullah movement, backed by armed forces, has been defending Yemen against the Saudi-led alliance, preventing the aggressors from fulfilling the objectives of the devastating war.


Israel’s Netanyahu praises President Trump policies ahead of US election

01 November 2020

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday praised President Donald Trump’s Mideast policies, even as he avoided openly taking sides ahead of the US presidential election.

Netanyahu told reporters that US bipartisan support has been “one of the foundations of the American-Israeli alliance.” He then went on to say “that alliance has never been stronger” and praised a slew of steps taken by Trump in favor of Israel.

He noted the tough US stance toward Iran, recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, the tolerant approach toward Israeli settlements and the recent diplomatic pacts between Israel and three Arab countries.

“I can only hope that this policy that brings, that isolates Iran and brings the fruits of peace, peace grounded in reality to the people of Israel, to the Arab peoples of the region, I can only hope that this policy will continue in the coming years,” Netanyahu said.

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Despite his stated commitment to bipartisan ties with the US, Israel’s closest and most important ally, Netanyahu has frequently been seen as siding with the Republicans. Netanyahu had a cool relationship with President Barack Obama, appeared to favor Republican challenger Mitt Romney in 2012 and then delivered a major speech to Congress in 2015 to argue against Obama’s emerging nuclear deal with Iran.

After taking office, Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, winning praise from Netanyahu.

While Trump is popular with the Israeli public, Netanyahu’s close relationship with the president appears to be deepening a divide with American Jews. Opinion polls have indicated that American Jews will vote overwhelmingly in favor of Democratic challenger Joe Biden.


Iran arrests Iranian Arab opposition figure abroad, Ahwazi group says he was abducted

Yaghoub Fazeli

01 November 2020

Iran has arrested an Iranian Arab opposition figure abroad and taken to him to Tehran, an Iranian lawmaker said on Sunday, amid reports of abduction.

The Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA), an Iranian Arab separatist group, accused the Iranian regime in a statement on Friday of abducting one of its former leaders while he was in Turkey.

ASMLA said Iranian intelligence agents abducted Habib Chaab – also known as Habib Eseywed – after “luring” him to Turkey.

Chaab is currently in Tehran being interrogated by Iran’s security and intelligence forces, head of the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee Mojtaba Zolnour was quoted as saying by the parliament’s website ICANA.

Chaab was “arrested abroad and taken to Iran thanks to the vigilance of our country’s security and intelligence branches,” Zolnour said, comparing the case to Ruhollah Zam.

Zam is an Iranian journalist-turned-activist who was arrested by Iranian forces in October 2019 and later sentenced to death in June.

Zolnour did not reveal the location or time of Chaab’s arrest.

“After the necessary information is extracted from this terrorist, he will appear in a fair court [hearing] to be punished for his actions,” he added.

ASMLA, considered a terrorist organization by the Iranian regime, seeks a separate state for the indigenous Ahwazi Arab population inside Iran’s oil-rich southwestern Khuzestan province, with its capital city of Ahwaz.

An ethnic minority in Iran, Ahwazi Arabs say they are deprived of decent living standards and civil rights, and face discrimination due to their Arab identity and heritage.

Some see themselves as living under Persian occupation and demand independence or autonomy.

In 2017, Ahmad Mola Nissi, ASMLA’s founder, was shot dead in the Netherlands. A year later, Iran accused the group of being responsible for a deadly attack on a military parade in Ahwaz that killed 25 people. AMSLA denies the accusation.

A number of Iranian dissidents have been arrested in neighboring countries and taken to Iran over the past decade.

In August, Iran said it had arrested US-based opposition figure Jamshid Sharmahd. Details of his arrest and subsequent travel to Iran remain a mystery.


Thousands protest in Jerusalem against Israel PM over coronavirus, corruption charges

01 November 2020

Thousands of Israelis protested in Jerusalem on Saturday in the latest weekly demonstration against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his handling of the coronavirus crisis and the corruption charges he faces.

Protesters waved Israeli and pink flags, which have become a symbol of the protest movement, as they marched through Jerusalem toward a square near Netanyahu’s official residence. Smaller demonstrations were taking place elsewhere across the country.

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Protesters held signs that read, “Saving the country, fighting corruption” and “Revolution.”

The protesters criticize Netanyahu for what they say is his bungling of the coronavirus outbreak and its economic fallout. Many of the protesters also oppose Netanyahu serving as prime minister while under indictment on three corruption charges: fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes.

Netanyahu denies wrongdoing in a series of scandals involving billionaire associates and media moguls.

The protests have go on for months and kept a spotlight on Netanyahu at a time when the long-serving leader’s popularity has plummeted because of his handling of the virus outbreak in Israel.

The country is emerging in gradual stages from a monthlong lockdown that the government imposed to tamp down infections. Restrictions still in place have kept stores, hotels and restaurants closed while the Israeli economy continues to take a hit.

Israel appeared to have successfully weathered an initial outbreak in the spring, even as unemployment skyrocketed. But a hasty reopening after a previous lockdown sent confirmed cases soaring and plunged the country toward new restrictions.




Tunisia arrests suspect over Nice stabbing attack claim

Yousra Ounnes  



Tunisian security forces on Saturday arrested a man for claiming responsibility of a knife attack in the southern French city of Nice, according to a judicial spokesman.

Mohsen Dali, a spokesman for Tunisia’s anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office, told Anadolu Agency that the suspect appeared in a video claiming responsibility for the attack, which left three people dead by a Tunisian migrant on Thursday.

He said the suspect was arrested for questioning, without giving any further details.

On Thursday, a spokesman for a group calling itself the Ansar Al-Mahdi in Tunisia and Arab Maghreb claimed responsibility for the Nice knife attack in a video footage on social media.

On Friday, Dali said the Tunisian authorities were investigating the authenticity of the claim.


Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia restart controversial mega-dam talks

01 November 2020

Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia kicked off Sunday the latest round of talks over Addis Ababa’s controversial dam on the Blue Nile, waters critical to the two downstream nations.

The week-long negotiations, held via videoconference, include water ministers from the three countries, as well as representatives from the African Union, European Union and the World Bank.

Previous three-way talks have failed to produce an agreement on the filling and operation of the vast reservoir behind the 145-meter (475-foot) tall hydropower Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

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Egypt, which depends on the Nile for about 97 percent of its irrigation and drinking water, sees the dam as an existential threat.

Sudan hopes the dam will help regulate flooding, but has also warned that millions of lives would be at “great risk” if Ethiopia unilaterally fills the dam.

Meanwhile, Ethiopia views the project as essential for its electrification and development, and insists that the flow of water downstream will not be affected.

In July, Addis Ababa declared that it reached its first-year target for filling the reservoir of the mega-dam, which can hold 74 billion cubic meters (2,600 billion cubic feet) of water.

Last month, US President Donald Trump appeared to suggest that Egypt may destroy it in remarks that were seen by Ethiopia as inciting “war.”

Egypt and Sudan have long called for a political solution to the dispute, voicing rejection against any unilateral action by Ethiopia.

The Blue Nile, which rises in the Ethiopian highlands, meets the White Nile flowing from East Africa at the Sudanese capital Khartoum to form the Nile, traditionally considered to be the world’s longest river.


Sudan, UAE sign MoU to build solar power plants

01 November 2020

Sudan and the United Arab Emirates signed a Memorandum Of Understanding (MoU) for the construction of solar energy plants with a capacity of 500 megawatts (MW), the Sudanese energy ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

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UAE, represented by one of its private companies, will supply, build, install and operate plants for 20 years, the energy ministry said, without specifying how many plants the deal would entail.

The Gulf country will also train and employ Sudanese workers throughout the contract period, with a commitment by the Sudanese government to purchase electricity at a competitive price, according to the statement.


France’s interior minister to visit Tunisia, Algeria to discuss security

02 November 2020

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin will visit Tunisia and Algeria later this week to discuss security matters with his counterparts there, Darmanin told BFM TV on Monday.

Concerns over security and immigration have increased in France after a fatal knife attack at a church in Nice last week.

France’s chief anti-terrorism prosecutor has said the man suspected of carrying out the Nice attack was a Tunisian born in 1999 who had arrived in Europe on Sept. 20 in Lampedusa, the Italian island off Tunisia.





Minister slammed over Taliban attack remarks

Amir Wasim

02 Nov 2020

ISLAMABAD: The opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Awami National Party (ANP) on Sunday reacted strongly to the recent remarks of Minister for Interior retired Brigadier Ijaz Shah in which he had allegedly warned the opposition of attacks by the Taliban.

While the PPP sought an apology from the interior minister over his remarks, the ANP called for his “immediate resignation”.

In a statement, Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, the spokesman for PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, termed the minister’s statement a violation of the National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism and asked the latter to apologise to the entire nation and the workers of political parties who were killed by terrorists during the war against terrorism.

Speaking at a ceremony at his hometown Nankana Sahib, the interior minister had said the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan had in reaction to the ANP’s policies on terrorism attacked the party leadership and killed many of its leaders, including Bashir Bilour and the son of Mian Iftikhar.

PPP demands apology, ANP the resignation of Ijaz Shah

“Today, I pray for the safety of those following the N-League’s narrative and wish for them to get divine’s guidance,” Brig Shah had stated in his speech which went viral on social media.

Senator Khokhar was of the view that threatening the opposition with possible attacks by the Taliban was not only against NAP, but it could also create difficulties for the country at the international level.

“These kinds of irresponsible statements by the federal ministers have already caused a difficult situation for Pakistan in Financial Action Task Force (FATF),” he said, adding that the ministers through such statements were in fact “validating” the allegations being levelled against Pakistan by the world.

Mr Khokhar said it was proved that former prime minister Benazir Bhutto had correctly named Ijaz Shah as “one of her killers”.

“Due to this dual policy and actions, the world does not recognise the sacrifices offered by thousands of our army troops and citizens,” he said, adding that Ijaz Shah should ask for pardon from the entire nation and the martyrs of the PPP, ANP and other political parties.

“Why the people who issue certificates of treason are silent over this statement of Ijaz Shah?” he asked.

Mr Khokhar said the nation was now aware of the reality of the allegation of treason and would soon hold Ijaz Shah and his “selected patron” accountable.

The ANP demanded resignation of the interior minister and formation of a truth commission over such an “irresponsible statement”.

Through its official social media account on Twitter, the ANP quoted the party’s provincial chief Aimal Wali Khan as stating at a public meeting in Buner Nawagai that the ANP not only called for formation of a truth commission over sacrifices of the Pakhtuns but also demanded resignation of the interior minister within 10 days. He said the ANP had always opposed the “good and bad Taliban” distinction.

Earlier, ANP president Asfandyar Wali Khan had also termed the interior minister’s statement ‘irresponsible’ and ‘foolish’ and declared that the diatribe had hurt the sentiments of ANP leaders and workers, who had rendered sacrifices for restoration of peace in the country.

In a tweet, the ANP chief said the state would have to give an explanation over the minister’s statement. “Was the ANP fighting the war against terrorists for the protection of the state or against the state? Where was the minister when the fight against terrorism was going on?” he asked.

The ANP chief said the party felt proud of Bashir Bilour, Rashid Hussain and hundreds of other workers who sacrificed their lives during the fight against terrorism. He said the Taliban and other terrorist organisations targeted the ANP leaders and workers for their stance against terrorism and militancy.


PML-N leaders condemn leadership’s ‘anti-state’ narrative

02 Nov 2020

TAXILA: PML-N leaders of Attock district have distanced themselves from the recent “anti-state” remarks of the party leadership, particularly the stance of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and former speaker of the National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq.

At separate press conferences in different towns of the district on Sunday, PML-N member of the Punjab Assembly Jehangir Khan­zada, former member of the National Assembly Malik Itabar Khan and former MPA Shahwaiz Khan criticised the recent remarks of Mr Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Mr Sadiq.

Talking to journalists in his native town of Shadi Khan in Hazro, Mr Khanzada termed Mr Sadiq’s statement “anti-state”.

“He should not have talked in such a way while speaking in parliament,” the MPA said while highlighting sacrifices rendered by the armed forces in the fight against terrorists.

He said the nation always stood by the armed forces and would continue to do so in future.

Sitting, former lawmakers from Attock praise armed forces for their sacrifices in the fight against terrorists

“The 220 million Pakistanis adore their armed forces and the country,” he said. “Our armed forces are bravely defending the motherland and we are indebted to soldiers for their supreme sacrifice for the country.”

Former MNA Itabar Khan said he could not support the “anti-national narrative” of Mr Sharif and Mr Sadiq. He said that Maryam Nawaz, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Maulana Fazlur Rehman had made statements which did not serve the interest of the country.

Mr Khan said he was saddened by the statement of Mr Sadiq that targeted the Pakistan Army and its accomplishments. He said the speech of the former speaker had caused anger and grief among patriot Pakistanis.

Mr Khan also condemned what he called violation of the sanctity of the mausoleum of Quaid-i-Azam by some PML-N leaders.

He said the Pakistan Democratic Movement was only engaged in “politics of power” and did not give any importance to real issues of the masses.

Shahwaiz Khan, former MPA from Hassanabdal, said he did not support the party leadership’s recent “anti-state” stance and condemned their criticism of state institutions. “The narrative of PML-N leadership is pleasing the enemy,” he added.

He particularly criticised Mr Sadiq, alleging that the latter had promoted “anti-state” agenda which was not in the interest of the country.

The former MPA said his head hung in shame because of Mr Sadiq’s controversial remarks. “The entire nation has been hurt by the statements of Nawaz Sharif and Ayaz Sadiq. What they are doing is not good for the country.”


Imran most incompetent PM in country’s history: Siraj

02 Nov 2020

BAJAUR: Jamaat-i-Islami chief Senator Sirajul Haq here on Sunday called Imran Khan the most incompetent prime minister in the country’s history for not fulfilling even a single promise made with the nation during last 27 months and said the ‘selected’ prime minister would definitely win the world cup of liars if such an event was held.

Addressing a big pubic meeting in Bajaur Sports Complex here to launch his party’s countrywide anti-government protest movement, the JI chief alleged that wrong polices of the present government had virtually turned Pakistan into a failed state.

He said that Imran had made tall claims of positive changes in the country on the pattern of Riasat-i-Madina (the State of Madina) when he assumed power. However, he said the PTI government totally failed to fulfil even a single promise its leader had made with the nation.

JI launches anti-govt movement

Mr Haq said the government had not only put the country into the worst financial crisis, but also damaged almost all public organisations and institutions owing to its incompetence.

He alleged that the government’s bad economic policies had rendered millions of people jobless in the country. He said the current financial instability, record inflation, lawlessness and unemployment had exposed the real face and anti-people agenda of the PTI government.

The JI leader claimed that most of people, including ‘selectors’ and strong supporters of PTI, were now disappointed at the incompetence of the government.

He described the PM’s ongoing anti-corruption narrative a serious and shameful joke with people and said a prime minister whose most cabinet members were corrupt would never take practical action against the corrupt elements in the country.

He alleged that most of the federal ministers, PM’s assistants and advisers were heads of corrupt mafia who had also been involved in the wheat and sugar crisis. However, he asked Imran Khan to take start from his cabinet members if he was really interested in curbing corruption from the country.

The JI chief blamed the government for damaging the image of country’s institutions and said PTI had no moral authority to rule the country.

He slammed the government for not allocating 3 per cent share in the NFC awards to the tribal districts as per the 25th constitutional amendment bill passed in 2018.

He said the JI’s anti-government movement was meant to force the rulers to address the core problems of the people or to compel them to leave the government instantly. He said their movement would continue till their target was achieved. He said that such protest meetings would be held across the country.

About Pakistan Democratic Movement, Mr Haq said most of the PDM parties were corrupt and his party would never participate in such an alliance.

JI provincial chief Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan and other leaders also addressed the gathering, which was also attended by workers from Dir and Mohmand districts.


Remarks recounting release of Wing Commander Abhinandan have weakened state: Pakistan minister

Oct 31, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's information minister Shibli Faraz has slammed PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq for his remarks recalling the incident that led to the release of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman fearing attack from India.

"The remarks by Ayaz Sadiq are beyond apology. Now the law will take its course. Weakening the state is an unforgivable crime for which Ayaz Sadiq and his companions must be punished," Faraz tweeted on Friday.

This comes after the Pakistani lawmaker Ayaz Sadiq had recounted the events of the February 2019 meeting during a speech in the country's National Assembly, where he had revealed why Imran Khan's government decided to release Abhinandan Varthaman.

Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) leader had said that foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had in an important meeting pointed out that if Pakistan did not release Abhinandan Varthaman, India would attack Pakistan "that night by 9 pm."

The PML-N leader had to apologise for remarks after backlash from the government.

Wing Commander Varthaman came into the limelight after he shot down a Pakistani aircraft F-16, which had transgressed into the Indian airspace during a dogfight between Indian and Pakistani air force on February 27, 2019 and in the process, his plane crossed over to Pakistani side and was shot down.

Abhinandan was returned to India from the Attari-Wagah border on March 1, 2019. He has been awarded the Vir Chakra on Independence Day by President Ram Nath Kovind for his exemplary bravery.



Arab world


Qatar’s Al Jazeera, France’s Macron receive backlash after televised interview

02 November 2020

Qatari news channel Al Jazeera and French President Emmanuel Macron are receiving backlash over the latter’s televised interview on the channel yesterday.

Viewers took to social media to express their thoughts on what they consider to be the channel’s hypocritical decision to air the interview with Macron after the outlet was one of the leading voices in the campaign to boycott French products.

Some argued that Macron’s choice to address the Muslim world through the Qatari channel was rewarding the network for its hate speech and troublemaking in the region.

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The Qatari channel’s figures stated their new position shortly after the interview. Yasser Abu-Hilala, ex-managing director to Al Jazeera and the current consultant, said the French products boycott paid off. “This is how we gave Macron a lesson. The value of the boycott is to be of limited duration and limited goals. An absolute boycott is worthless,” he added.

Journalist Shaikh Walid Al-Salek said Al Jazeera’s coverage over the past weeks incited violence in Muslims’ hearts in France and awakened the phenomenon of Islamophobia. “Abu Hilala wanted, by a political decision from Hamad, to stop the battle with Macron ... [Destroy] the Brotherhood organization, true Islam did not witness anything more dangerous than it,” he said on Twitter.

Another Twitter user considered the TV interview with Macron on Al-Jazeera, nothing but a commercial deal, accusing the channel of considering the interview a scoop for itself in exchange for Al Jazeera to relieve pressure on France. “This scene brings us back to the exclusive scenes that were shown on Al-Jazeera by Al-Qaeda to broadcast its inflammatory messages to their sleeper cells,” he added.

Sources close to Macron said that the French president seeks, in this “long” interview, to “clarify his vision calmly,” with his desire to show that “his statements about fighting isolationism have been distorted and (his statements) about cartoons are often manipulated”.

Macron also received criticism for his decision to be featured on Al Jazeera, which is considered by many a propaganda tool for extremists and Turkey – a nation currently at odds with France.

An Arab journalist criticized Macron, saying he could’ve given a press conference to Muslim journalists rather than perceived as rewarding the radicals who made a mockery of his interview.

On the other hand, some Arab media journalists were shocked; one called Macron “an idiot.”

“How do you call to fight back radicalism, and your choice is to be featured on the most radical media channel in the Middle East? He thinks he is using them. The truth is that they used him. He rewarded the people who for days celebrated the killing of Samuel Paty, and demanded revenge from France and its president, now they say publicly, look we brought him to his knees”, he added.

Macron gave his only interview to a journalist from Al-Jazeera Arabic channel, famous for being the platform for extremist Muslims. Although Macron defended his position that he was not against Muslims, this message was not crucial to Al-Jazeera’s audience and its journalists, who reflected their appreciation that Macron acknowledged and apologized to Muslims. It was not accurate, Macron spent most of his interview trying to explain the values of freedom in France, but the truth was not crucial for Al-Jazeera and its audience.

Al Jazeera broadcasted the interview last Saturday at 16:00 GMT and lasted for about 50 minutes. It is the first interview conducted by the French president since the start of the anti-France campaign by Qatar and its ally Turkey. Radical media kept reporting statements attributed to President Macron that he defended the publication of the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad after the killing of a teacher near Paris.


Israel will be wiped out despite Arab normalization: Iraqi politician

01 November 2020

An Iraqi politician says Israel will be wiped off the map even though the occupying regime is normalizing its relations with Arab countries.

Nouri al-Maliki, the former Iraqi prime minister and current secretary general of the Islamic Dawa Party, referred on Friday to a competition between a number of Arab states to forge formal diplomatic ties with the Zionist entity.

Some Arab rulers have resorted to normalizing relations with Tel Aviv in order to maintain their positions, he added.

Maliki also predicted that Israel will be wiped out of the face of the earth, noting that whatever the regime builds on Palestinian territories will return to the Muslims.

Warning that the Zionists are seeking to enslave nations, he stressed that their hope for normalization with a Shia Muslim country will never come true.

In mid-September, US President Donald Trump presided over the signing of the normalization pacts between Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain.

On October 23, Trump said Israel and Sudan had opened economic ties as a pathway toward normalized relations. As part of the agreement, Trump took Khartoum off a US government list of countries allegedly promoting terrorism.

Palestinians have condemned the normalization deals as a treacherous "stab in the back" of their cause against the Israeli occupation.

Maliki slams Macron's Islamophobic comments

Elsewhere in his remarks, Maliki strongly denounced French President Emmanuel Macron’ insult to Islam’s Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) and praised a wave of worldwide protests and condemnations.

He further expressed regret that some Arab rulers failed to adopt a stance against Macron’s anti-Muslim comments.

In October, French history teacher Samuel Paty provoked outrage by showing his students the blasphemous cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) earlier published by the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

He was murdered outside his school in a Paris suburb by a Chechen teenager, who was shot dead by police soon after the killing.

Macron characterized the incident as an “Islamist terrorist attack.” He also claimed  Islam as a religion was in a state of “crisis” and defended the blasphemous caricatures, which have hurt the feelings of Muslims in France and elsewhere.

'Foreign spy agencies seeking to exploit anti-govt. protests'

Additionally, the Iraqi politician touched on anti-government protests in Iraq, saying foreign intelligence agencies are closely monitoring the situation and want sabotage and destruction to deal a blow to the country.

He also emphasized that paralyzing ordinary people’s lives and disrupting work is not a civilized approach.

Starting in October 2019, Iraqi people staged street protests in several cities over unemployment and a lack of basic services, calling for economic reforms and a meaningful fight against corruption in state institutions.

Reports say some 550 people were killed and 30,000 injured as the rallies took a violent turn.

The protests led to the resignation of prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, who was replaced by Mustafa al-Kadhimi in May following months of political deadlock.


Anti-government protests turn to clashes in Iraq

02 November 2020

Anti-government protests descended into clashes in several Iraqi cities on Sunday, including the southern port city of Basra and the capital Baghdad.

In Basra, police officers and troops fired into the air to disperse around 500 protesters who had been throwing rocks, AFP correspondents said.

Meanwhile, a few hundred young Iraqis returned to Baghdad’s Tahrir Square for a flash protest, clashing briefly with security forces.

Authorities had conducted a major operation to clear a year-long anti-government encampment from the square – the epicenter of the protest movement – and had only reopened it a day earlier.

Further south in Hilla, hundreds of students marched with banners decrying the killing and kidnapping of activists in recent months.

“We’ll stay here, for the blood of our martyrs and the love of our country,” said Abrar Ahmed, a student demonstrator in the city.

“It’s our revolution and we must continue it, as not a single one of our demands were met!” she added.

A similar protest took place in the town of Kut, where dozens turned out to demand justice for some 600 demonstrators who have been killed in protest-related violence over the past year.

Unprecedented demonstrations erupted across Baghdad and Iraq’s Shia-majority south in October 2019 as protesters called for jobs, basic services, a total overhaul of the ruling class and an end to corruption.

There has been virtually no accountability for the deaths in those rallies.

Two more activists were gunned down in Kut in recent days.

The “October Revolution” marked its one-year anniversary a week ago, with thousands hitting the streets of southern cities and the capital.

But authorities swiftly reinstated calm, deploying in large numbers in the squares and intersections that were once the hot spots of the anti-government rallies.

Abdallah Ahmed, another student protesting in Hilla on Sunday, insisted the movement was far from over.

“We’re not commemorating the revolution - we’re continuing it,” he told AFP.

In the southern flashpoint city of Nasiriyah, demonstrators torched tyres on a main highway to decry unemployment and poor public services.

Iraq is one of the most oil-rich countries in the world but has suffered chronic water and power shortages for decades.

The novel coronavirus pandemic and tumbling oil prices have taken a heavy toll this year, with poverty rates expected to soar to 40 percent.


Lebanese Armenians spring to action to defend Nagorno-Karabakh

01 November 2020

When Lebanon’s financial crisis pushed Vartkes to leave for Armenia this summer, he never imagined he would volunteer to fight in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The young Lebanese-Armenian didn’t think twice, however, when the conflict between Azerbaijani and ethnic Armenian forces erupted soon after his move.

“I wanted to go that night,” Vartkes, who asked not to be identified by his last name, said by phone. He has yet to be called to back troops in the region, which is recognized as part of Azerbaijan though governed by ethnic Armenians.

“I feel like I have to do something for the country.”

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An Armenian defense ministry official has said many from the diaspora applied to volunteer without giving a precise number.

Hundreds from as far afield as Argentina and the United States have rushed back to Armenia for combat training, a local instructor says.

The fighting, some of the deadliest in the mountain enclave in more than 25 years, has prompted mass mobilization across Armenia and seen its vast global diaspora spring into action.

In Lebanon, a community of nearly 140,000 of Armenian origin, one of the world’s largest, has fundraised and sent aid despite a crippling currency crash. Many have had roots in Lebanon since their ancestors fled mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire a century ago.

Karapet Aghajanyan, the combat instructor in Yerevan, who trains local and foreign volunteers, told Reuters around 10 Lebanese-Armenians have received training in his camp.

He said they arrived from Beirut after the fighting broke out in late September to go to the frontline.

Scores of Lebanese of Armenian descent were already leaving Beirut for Yerevan months before the fighting, members of the community say. Lebanon’s economic collapse, and then the huge Beirut port explosion that killed nearly 200 people in August, have fueled migration.

Lebanese MP Hagop Pakradounian, who heads the Armenian Revolutionary Federation party, said there was no organization registering or sending any volunteers from Lebanon.

He said no more than 20 people had gone from Beirut to sign up, acting on their own. It was not clear if any were called to battle.

“We cannot prevent them at the end of the day. We try to dissuade them but they have this impulse,” he said. “It’s an existential war for the Armenian people, that’s why some youths are going.”

The violence has raised fears of a wider conflict dragging in Turkey, which backs Azerbaijan, and Russia, which has a defense pact with Armenia.

Azerbaijan rejects any solution that would leave Armenians controlling the enclave. Armenians refuse to withdraw from territory they view as part of their historic homeland.

On a main highway out of Beirut, white banners hung from bridges read: “Stop Azeri aggression.”

In Lebanon’s largely Armenian town of Anjar, the head of the municipality, Vartkes Khoshian, said even families worried about paying bills had donated.

“The people gave more than they had,” he said. “We all follow news minute by minute.”

This month, Anjar commemorated one of their own who was killed in battle, Kevork Hadjian, an opera singer born in the Lebanese town who lived in Armenia.

Many residents saw him as a hero.

The singer’s 74-year-old mother, Sosse Hadjian, said she had spent days watching TV, weeping over slain fighters. But she didn’t know her son was at the front until her brother delivered the news of his death.

“I’m a mother who lost a son after all. It’s really hard,” she said. “But I’m also proud he joined for Armenians, for the homeland.”


Protesters clash with police forces in Baghdad, other Iraqi cities

02 November 2020

Iraqi protesters have clashed with security forces as people took to the streets of the capital, Baghdad, and other cities, including the southern port city of Basra.

Police forces dispersed around 500 protesters, who had been throwing rocks in Basra, on Sunday by firing into the air.

Meanwhile, brief clashes erupted in Baghdad between security forces and a few hundred young people who returned to Tahrir Square on Sunday for a flash protest.

On Saturday, security forces cleared out sit-in tents from Tahrir Square and opened the previously blocked off roads.

The government said al-Jamhuriya Bridge, which connects the square with the heavily fortified Green Zone housing some of the main government offices and foreign diplomatic missions, had been opened for the first time since it had been shut at the beginning of protests in October last year.

Some of the demonstrators had welcomed the clearing of the camp, saying it had been infiltrated by elements attempting to undermine the protests with violence and disruption.

A protest also took place in Nasiriyah against unemployment and poor public services. The demonstrators torched tires on a main highway in the southern city.

Dozens of people also staged a protest in the town of Kut, and demanded justice for those killed in demonstrations over the past year.

A similar demonstration took place in the city of Hilla.

The first anniversary of anti-government demonstrations that erupted in October 2019 was marked last week by hundreds rather than an anticipated thousands taking to the streets of Baghdad.

Protests erupted in Iraq in October last year over unemployment and a lack of basic services, with demonstrators calling for economic reforms and a meaningful fight against corruption in state institutions.

Reports say about 600 people were killed and 30,000 injured as the anti-government rallies took a violent turn.

The protests led to the resignation of prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, who was replaced by Mustafa al-Kadhimi in May following months of political deadlock.

In a televised address on October 24, Kadhimi vowed to hold early and fair elections, a demand of many protesters, and called on security forces not to fire at demonstrators, but also called on protesters to "respect the uniform".



North America


Israel’s Netanyahu praises President Trump policies ahead of US election

01 November 2020

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday praised President Donald Trump’s Mideast policies, even as he avoided openly taking sides ahead of the US presidential election.

Netanyahu told reporters that US bipartisan support has been “one of the foundations of the American-Israeli alliance.” He then went on to say “that alliance has never been stronger” and praised a slew of steps taken by Trump in favor of Israel.

He noted the tough US stance toward Iran, recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, the tolerant approach toward Israeli settlements and the recent diplomatic pacts between Israel and three Arab countries.

“I can only hope that this policy that brings, that isolates Iran and brings the fruits of peace, peace grounded in reality to the people of Israel, to the Arab peoples of the region, I can only hope that this policy will continue in the coming years,” Netanyahu said.

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Despite his stated commitment to bipartisan ties with the US, Israel’s closest and most important ally, Netanyahu has frequently been seen as siding with the Republicans. Netanyahu had a cool relationship with President Barack Obama, appeared to favor Republican challenger Mitt Romney in 2012 and then delivered a major speech to Congress in 2015 to argue against Obama’s emerging nuclear deal with Iran.

After taking office, Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, winning praise from Netanyahu.

While Trump is popular with the Israeli public, Netanyahu’s close relationship with the president appears to be deepening a divide with American Jews. Opinion polls have indicated that American Jews will vote overwhelmingly in favor of Democratic challenger Joe Biden.


US sells 1.1M barrels of Iranian oil after seizure

Beyza Binnur Dönmez 


The US Justice Department announced that Washington sold around 1.1 million barrels of Iranian oil from four tankers bound for Venezuela.

"Upon being presented with the court’s seizure order, the ships’ owner transferred the petroleum to the government, and we can now announce that the United States has sold and delivered that petroleum," Deputy Attorney General John Demers said Thursday in a press release.

Defending that the sale of oil to Caracas benefited the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a US-designated foreign terrorist group, Demers said: "It is therefore with great satisfaction that I can announce that our intentions are to take the funds successfully forfeited from the fuel sales and provide them to the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund after the conclusion of the case."

In July, federal prosecutors filed a lawsuit to seize the gasoline aboard the four tankers that Iran was trying to ship to Venezuela, aiming to prevent the revenues from reaching Iran's coffers.

In August, President Donald Trump's administration said it carried out "the largest seizure of fuel shipments from Iran" which Venezuela had already paid for.

The South American country faces gasoline supply problems due to the coercive US sanctions since crude oil is the country's main export item. Iran's economy, traditionally dependent on oil exports, also suffers from the US’s reinstating crippling economic sanctions, with many countries cutting down oil imports from Iran, fearing economic penalties from Washington.

Due to these sanctions, Venezuela and Iran agreed to exchange fuel to supply the Latin American country.

A huge explosion on Tuesday affected the facilities of Venezuela's main refinery Amuay, which is considered a "deliberate terrorist attack" by the government of President Nicolas Maduro. The plant was in the preventive maintenance phase to be prepared for startup in a few days to increase gasoline production.

Venezuela's Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami said that the attack was "duly planned."

El Aissami said Thursday the country has "20 days of strategic reserves" to respond to any terrorist group's actions "that seeks to destabilize the tranquility and peace of the Venezuelan people."


US designates 8 companies over Iran petrochemical sales

Servet Günerigök  



The US sanctioned eight entities Thursday for their alleged involvement in the sale and purchase of Iranian petrochemical products.

According to a Treasury Department statement, the products were brokered by Triliance Petrochemical Co. Ltd., an entity that Washington designated in January.

"These entities, based in Iran, China and Singapore, engaged in transactions facilitated by Triliance or otherwise assisted Triliance’s efforts to process and move funds generated by the sale of those petrochemical products," said the department.

Washington accuses Tehran of using revenue from petrochemical sales to finance its "destabilizing agenda of support to corrupt regimes and terrorist groups" in the Middle East and Venezuela.

"The Iranian regime benefits from a global network of entities facilitating the Iranian petrochemical sector," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

“The United States remains committed to targeting any revenue source the Iranian regime uses to fund terrorist groups and oppress the Iranian people.”

They include Iran's Morvarid Petrochemical Company and Arya Sasol Polymer Company; Singapore-based Jiaxiang Energy Holding Pte. Ltd.; and Chinese companies Binrin Limited, Elfo Energy Holding Limited, Glory Advanced Limited, Jane Shang Co. Limited, and Sibshur Limited.

All property and interests in property of persons designated subject to US jurisdiction are blocked, and Americans are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.




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