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Islamic World News ( 19 Jun 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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In Darul Uloom, Students Recite ‘Shlokas’ from The Geeta And Ramayana Alongwith Quranic Verses

New Age Islam News Bureau

19 Jun 2020

• Jamia Nizamia, One of The Oldest Islamic Institution of India, Urges Muslims Not to Take Part in TV Debates

• Dozens of Saudis Being Held in Prison Over Tweets Deemed Critical of Riyadh Regime: Report

• Uighur 'Imams' Most Vulnerable to Persecution in Mainland China

• Qatari Opposition Releases Leaked Recording of Kuwaiti Extremist Preacher and Gaddafi

• Iran Asks World to Keep "Last Bastion of Multilateralism"

• US Reduces Troops in Afghanistan To Agreed Level of Around 8,600: General

• Shielding Muslims Receiving Pork Items in England Food Packages



• In Darul Uloom, Students Recite ‘Shlokas’ from The Geeta And Ramayana Along with Quranic Verses

• Jamia Nizamia, One of The Oldest Islamic Institution of India, Urges Muslims Not to Take Part in TV Debates

• Javed Akhtar On Communal Tensions: 'Indian Muslims Also Have to Criticize Themselves'

• Muslim body protests against China in Lohardaga

• Kashmir: Two Militants Trapped in Mosque In Pulwama Killed In Encounter

• 8 militants killed in parallel encounters in Kashmir, forces enter mosque in Pampore


Arab World

• Dozens of Saudis Being Held in Prison Over Tweets Deemed Critical of Riyadh Regime: Report

• Saudi Arabia Affirms Support for IAEA Efforts to Inspect Iran Nuclear Sites

• Bahrain Regime Forces Attack Inmates Taking Part In Shia Mourning Ritual

• Saudi Arabia proposes framework to activate Riyadh Agreement in Yemen: Reuters

• Jewish in UAE: Community members reveal life in an Arab Muslim country

• Seven Syrians file complaint over sex abuse in Assad’s jails

• Bahrain top court upholds up to 15 years jail for 6 terror suspects

• Syrian refugees file law suit against Qatar's Doha Bank for terror funding


Southeast Asia

• Uighur 'Imams' Most Vulnerable to Persecution in Mainland China

• Indonesia’s Religious Freedom Still Has Room for Improvement

• 2 Muftis Defend ‘No Foreigner’ Rule In Mosques

• Malaysia’s Islamic family laws have gone from best to worst, says activist

• Malaysia may send Rohingya detainees back out to sea, sources say

• Report lodged against NGO chief’s ‘semi-democracy’ proposal



• Qatari Opposition Releases Leaked Recording of Kuwaiti Extremist Preacher and Gaddafi

• Tunisia’s economy could shrink by as much as 7 percent: Official

• Annexation is ‘destruction’ of two-state solution: Jordanian FM Safadi

• Libya welcomed Turkish delegation’s visit: Cavusoglu

• Somali army kills 7 al-Shabaab militants in central Somalia



• Iran Asks World to Keep "Last Bastion of Multilateralism"

• Iran Supports UN Human Rights Meeting on Racism in US

• Iran Deplores US Sanctions against Syria, Vows to Continue Cooperation with Damascus

• Iran’s IRGC attacks Iranian Kurdish groups in Iraq

• US, Saudis, allies responsible for any environmental disaster off Yemen coast: Houthi

• Saudi Arabia, UAE in cahoots with Israeli regime against Muslim nations: Houthi

• Jordan deplores Israel’s digging and construction works at al-Aqsa’s Western Wall

• Israeli settlers bulldoze Palestinian land to build road connecting West Bank settlements

• Yemeni tribes in Al-Bayda province revolt against Houthis


North America

• US Reduces Troops InAfghanistan To Agreed Level Of Around 8,600: General

• US stealing Syrian resources on behalf of Zionist banking cabal

• Mexico Hails Turkish Diplomat's UNGA Presidency

• Venezuela welcomes Turkish diplomat's UNGA presidency



• Shielding Muslims Receiving Pork Items in England Food Packages

• France arrests 6 Chechens in raids after successive nights of violence

• Man, 31, charged with terrorism offences in Hull

• Boy, 14, charged with terror attack plot

• Rise of German terrorist Hezbollah supporters, members in Lower Saxony

• EU congratulates Turkey’s Volkan Bozkir on UNGA helm



• Another Provincial Minister Dies Due to Coronavirus in Pakistan

• Justice Isa has nothing to do with UK assets, wife tells SC

• Gwadar port contract is ‘confidential’, federal secretary informs Senate panel

• Uzair Baloch was convicted by military court in April for spying, ATC told

• Four JuD leaders convicted in terror finance case

• MQM-P moves court against ECP notification about delimitation

• Sindh information dept to clear payment against 66 newspaper bills

• PM for enforcing uniform education curriculum to do away education apartheid


South Asia

• Afghan MPs Condemn Ghani’s ‘Soft’ Response To Iran

• Afghans Say Taliban Attacks Kill At Least 17 Military Personnel In Northern Provinces

• Rise in violence leaves millions without healthcare in Afghanistan amid pandemic: ICRC

• Mortar shell explosion at school kills 7 students in Afghanistan

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



In Darul Uloom, Students Recite ‘Shlokas’ From The Geeta And Ramayana Along With Quranic Verses

Jun 18, 2020

S Raju

Dar ul Uloom, Deoband


It may be surprising for many people to know that in one of the most influential Islamic institutions in the world and Asia’s biggest seminary, the Darul Uloom of Deoband, students recite ‘shlokas’ from the Geeta and Ramayana along with Quranic verses to develop a holistic understanding about the religions, culture and heritage of India.

This teaching about Hindu religion is a part of the seminary’s curriculum and is compulsory for those students who pursue specialization course after obtaining the degree of Maulviet (equivalent to graduation).

The seminary’s media in charge Ashraf Usmani proudly said that Darul had 34 departments and over 4,000 students pursued studies here. A student got a degree of maulviet( maulana ) after 8 years of studies and thereafter successful students opted for specialization in literature, fatwa, tafseer (explanation of Quran), Hadith, English, computers etc. It was mandatory for these students to undergo weekly classes about Hindu religion and philosophy to develop a holistic approach about the country’s religions, culture and heritage, including Islam.

Maulana Abdul Hamid Nomani, who also received his degree of Fazil from Darul Uloom and studied all 12 Upnishads, four Vedas, Geeta and the Ramayana, was given the responsibility to develop a syllabus for teaching Hindu religion and philosophy to students. He visits the seminary every week to conduct three-hour classes to enlighten students about Hinduism and its philosophy.

Nomani explained that almost 24 years ago, the Shoora ( executive committee) of the seminary discussed the issue of developing a holistic approach among students about different faiths so that they may develop a better understanding about religions, including Islam, which largely followed what was explained and taught through the eyes and wisdom of Arab culture. It was appreciated by all and this paved the way to teach Hinduism and also other religions, including Christinity and Judaism, in the seminary.

Nomani compiled two books in Urdu named ‘Hinduism Taaruf Motala’ and ‘Hindu Religion: Introduction and Studies’, which were introduced in the syllabus. He has been teaching Hinduism to students for the past 24 years. “ I have compiled the teachings and philosophy of Hindu scriptures like the Vedas, Purana, and Geeta in these books and students easily grasp them because they are in Urdu,” explained Nomani, adding “ The students recite ‘shlokas’ of the Geeta and the Vedas along with the verses of Quran.”

Nomani also claimed that he had 12 Upnishads, 18 Puranas, Valmiki Ramayan, Kamban Ramayan, Indonesian edition of Ramayan and the Vedas in his personal library and had studied them thoroughly before compiling the book in Urdu for students.

Media in charge Ashraf Usmani explained that the course was designed only for students who went in for specialization because they were mature enough to understand the philosophy. Specialization courses are of two to three years and 250 to 300 students opt for them every year.

Maulana Qasim Nanautvi established the seminary on May 30, 1866 and it has a big library with a collection of two lakh books and over 1,500 manuscripts. Librarian Mohammad Shafeeq proudly showed the collection of Rigveda, Yajurveda, Valmiki Ramayan, Tulsidas’ Ramcharitmanas, Manu Smriti, Vishnu Smriti and many other books on Hindu religion in the library, which have been adequately displayed.

“Students who study Hindu religion in their course frequently visit the library to have a look at these books which are in Urdu, Hindi and Sanskrit,” explained Shafeeq.

The idea of the Shoora to develop a holistic approach and understanding among students seems to have paid dividends, as they are excelling in doing a comparative study of Hinduism and Islam.

A young Maulana Ishtiyaque Qasmi suffixed ‘Chaturvedi’ to his name because after acquiring a degree of Maulana from Darul Uloom he studied all four Vedas, Geeta and other Hindu scriptures. He is now acclaimed of being a Sanskrit scholar. Presently, he is doing his research on the philosophy of Geeta and Quran.

“What I have learnt after reading all these religious books is that they all talk about peace and harmony and one God which Muslims call ‘Allah’ and Hindus ‘Param Brahma’. In class, we are always taught to respect other religions and to live in harmony and peace,” Qasmi said.

Another student Maulana Abdul Malik Qasmi said, “Reading these religious books was an eye-opener. It changed my perspective and I found amazing similarity in the teachings and philosophy of both religions.”


Jamia Nizamia, One of The Oldest Islamic Institution of India, Urges Muslims Not to Take Part in TV Debates

JUNE 18, 2020

Sheikh-ul-Jamia (Vice-Chancellor) Jamia Nizamia Mufti Khaleel Ahmed


Hyderabad: Denouncing the alleged derogatory words used by a News18 TV Anchor Amish Devgan against the Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisty, Jamia Nizamia one of the oldest Islamic institution of India has urged the Muslims across the country not to take part in any discussion or debate on TV Channels.

In a statement Sheikh-ul-Jamia (Vice-Chancellor) Jamia Nizamia Mufti Khaleel Ahmed said that Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisty aka Ghareeb Nawaz whose shrine is at Ajmer, Rajasthan is a highly respectable personality of people of all faiths. But the use of derogatory language by the TV Anchor shall be condemned by people of all the religions. The TV Channel and its anchor are equally responsible for this and they shall be held accountable.

By participating in the TV Channel discussions and debates, the Muslims knowingly or unknowingly are becoming the victims of conspiracies of the opponents. He urged all the Muslims not take part in any TV Channel debate forthwith.

Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Nizamia also said that ill speaking against such a pious personality is a cause of concern, the central and state Governments shall make efforts to stop this mischievous practice as this could lead to enmity among the Hindu-Muslim communities.

An outrage has broke out across the country against the TV anchor and police complaints are being filed at various police stations in many states.


Dozens of Saudis being held in prison over tweets deemed critical of Riyadh regime: Report

18 June 2020

 Jailed Saudi women's rights activist wins Freedom Prize 2020

Imprisoned Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul wins the Freedom Prize 2020 after garnering 42.2 percent of the total votes.


Dozens of Saudi nationals are reportedly being kept in detention centers across the kingdom over tweets deemed critical of the ruling Riyadh regime as a crackdown led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman against rights campaigners and intellectuals continues in the country.

Independent pan-Arab daily newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi, citing a post published on the official Twitter page of the Prisoners of Conscience – an independent nongovernmental organization advocating human rights in Saudi Arabia, reported that scores of people have been languishing at Saudi Arabia’s prisons simply for publishing critical tweets.

The report added that former Saudi Arabian football player Fahad al-Harifi al-Bishi was arrested a few days ago because of a post, in which he criticized the rulers in Riyadh over their inadequate response to the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Moreover, Saudi poet Aeyed al-Wardah was detained last year after he wrote a poem and published it online, criticizing the activities of the so-called General Authority for Entertainment (GEA).

Saudi authorities detained prominent dissident Muslim cleric Sheikh Salman al-Awdah on September 7, 2018 and have been holding him in solitary confinement without charge or trial ever since.

Officials have imposed travel bans on members of his family as well. A family member told Human Rights Watch that the distinguished cleric was being held over his refusal to comply with an order by Saudi authorities to tweet a specific text to support the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar.

Awdah, instead, posted a tweet, saying, “May God harmonize between their hearts for the good of their people,” - an apparent call for reconciliation between the Persian Gulf littoral states, the US-based rights group said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt all cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5, 2017, after officially accusing it of “sponsoring terrorism.”

Qatar, in return, said the move was unjustified and based on false claims and assumptions.

In 2018, Saudi officials arrested the preacher Abdul Aziz al-Fawzan after he lambasted authorities for their crackdown on Muslim scholars in the kingdom, terming it as a “chaotic war on religion and values” in a Twitter post.

Activist Yusef al-Mulhem was separately arrested in 2017 for a short tweet, expressing his “love” for Qatar.

Saudi authorities have arrested dozens of activists, bloggers, intellectuals and others perceived as political opponents ever since bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnations of the crackdown.


Uighur 'Imams' most vulnerable to persecution in mainland China

Jun 19, 2020

WASHINGTON: The 'Imams' belonging to the Uighur Muslim community from Xinjiang province of northwest China have become most vulnerable to persecution owing to Beijing's crackdown on the minority Muslims.

'Imam' is a title in Islam given to a religious staff who leads group prayers at a mosque.

Uyghur Hjelp, a Norway-based Uighur advocacy and aid organisation, told Voice Of America (VOA) news outlet last week that Chinese authorities since 2016 have detained at least 518 key Uighur religious figures and Imams.

The organization also said it has found some of the Imams, who were previously trained and employed by Beijing, are now sentenced with long prison terms while a few of them have lost their lives in internment camps.

One of the detained Imams, Abdurkerim Memet, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2017, according to his daughter, Hajihenim Abdukerim in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Abdukerim told VOA that Chinese authorities were hiding the whereabouts of her father for years until recently when a local contact in Xinjiang told her of his imprisonment.

The 61-year-old was employed by the Chinese government before his detention to lead prayers at a neighbourhood mosque in Yengisar county in Kashgar city in southern Xinjiang. His family rejects the Chinese government accusation that he was spreading extremism among the Uighurs.

"My father is a peaceful and law-abiding religious figure," said Abdukerim, adding that her father was salaried by the Chinese government until late 2016 when the newly appointed Communist Party chief, Chen Quanguo, began to further enforce Beijing's rule over Xinjiang where, according to the U.N. estimates, over a million Muslims could be held in internment camps.

"I had never imagined him being imprisoned for serving the community. In these years, I have been only hoping to hear from him again," she told VOA.

Some experts have also alleged that Chinese officials are increasingly using religious extremism charges to gain a free hand in their campaign against Uighurs and their religious leaders.

However, pursuing Imams as the main targets in Xinjiang should not come as a surprise, charged Abduweli Ayup, the founder of Uyghur Hjelp.

"They are people who can lead, organize, and mobilize Uighurs in large numbers, and mosques are the only places where Uighur language was kept intact," he added.

Ayup said the Chinese government was giving the Imams salaries ranging from 600 to 5000 RMB before its clampdown campaign in Xinjiang. The detention, he said, is a part of a larger attempt by the Communist party to prevent a flourishing Uighur identity and culture.

While Imams living in Xinjiang remain most exposed to the Chinese government campaign, those outside are not immune. Families of some Uighur religious figures claim they were possibly tricked into returning to China under false promises.

Meryemgul Abdulla, a Uighur based in Turkey, told VOA that her husband and a religious scholar, Abduhalik Abdulhak, were arrested after returning to China under the false pledge of allowing him to build a museum.

Abdulla said Abdulhak returned to China in March 2017 after receiving a message purportedly from his brother that his long-awaited application to establish a museum in commemoration of his great uncle and prominent early 20th-century Uighur poet, was approved by local authorities in Turpan city in Xinjiang.

"Soon after he arrived in China, he was taken to a concentration camp in Turpan," Abdulla told VOA. "I have had no news of him since."


Qatari opposition releases leaked recording of Kuwaiti extremist preacher and Gaddafi

19 June 2020

Former Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Gaddafi discussed spreading chaos and violence in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and Bahrain with Kuwaiti hate preacher and author Hakem al-Mutairi, according to an undated audio recording leaked by a Qatari opposition figure.

Gaddafi, who led Libya from 1969 until he was overthrown and killed in 2011, promoted a revolutionary ideology and frequently claimed to want to overthrow other Arab leaders.

In this latest recording, which Al Arabiya English was unable to verify independently, Gaddafi can reportedly be heard advising al-Mutairi on how to spread “chaos” and “violence” in several Arab countries, including through setting up front organizations.

“Let us work in Kuwait and work in Saudi [Arabia], this is constructive chaos. Or, let the Americans stop their project,” Gaddafi is heard saying, according to Qatari opposition figure Khalid al-Hail, who leaked the audio clip on Twitter.

“We must use this situation and if we order the spread of violence in Iraq, the violence must be spread. Instead of the US occupation spreading, the violence must spread,” Gaddafi adds, presumably referring to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq and therefore dating the recording as post-2003.

“We spread violence in Kuwait and Bahrain and Saudi [Arabia] and Yemen,” says Gaddafi, before telling al-Mutairi that he must create “a secret wing and secret revolutionary youth.”

“You stay as a front with parties and democratic talk and all of these things. You have youth and communication with youth in Iraq and the Mutairi tribe and communication even with the Shiites and how the Wahhabis are saying that Shiites are heathens,” he is heard saying.

In response, al-Mutairi says “All of these communications, brother leader, they are all there.”

Al-Mutairi is the leader of the Kuwaiti Ummah Party, an unrecognized political party with conservative and allegedly extremist views. He was previously a founding member of Kuwait’s Salafi Movement and critical of the US and Saudi Arabia.

In 2017, the Arab Quartet of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain named al-Mutairi as one of 59 individuals and institutions that have financed terrorism and received support from Qatar.

More Qatar audio leaks expected

The leak is the latest of audio clips to be shared by al-Hail, many featuring Gaddafi in discussions with prominent Qatari politicians, and will be soon followed by more leaks, according to al-Hail on Twitter.

On June 6, he released a recording that reportedly captured Qatar’s former Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani expressing Doha’s support for the Libyan and the Syrian regimes in a conversation with Gaddafi and Qatar’s former Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim.

“As you know, as a small country we used to be ostracized by the big countries. But thank God there [are countries] like Libya standing with us, Oman, Syria recently,” Sheikh Hamad can be heard saying.

The recording is one of several released by al-Hail in recent weeks, including one in which the former emir can be heard calling former US president Barack Obama a “slave” during a conversation with Gaddafi.

A similar recording between former emir of Qatar and Gaddafi was released in 2017, in which the two leaders attacked Saudi Arabia and the ruling family.

In another recording leaked from the same year, Gaddafi and the former prime minister can reportedly be heard discussing plans to carve up Saudi Arabia.

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim did not deny the recording and said that the issue was discussed to appease Gaddafi.

In 2013, Sheikh Hamad handed over power to his son, current Emir Sheikh Tamim al-Thani. Hamad bin Jassim stepped down from his positions in government at the time and reportedly has strained relations with the current emir.


Iran Asks World to Keep "Last Bastion of Multilateralism"

Jun 18, 2020

“Vienna is almost the last bastion of multilateralism that was able to maintain its true spirit in recent years, but unfortunately it will be a forgotten story if the IAEA Board does not show enough prudence this week,” Qaribabadi wrote on his twitter page on Wednesday night.

His comments came after the western media claimed that the three European members of 2015 nuclear deal have prepared a resolution which calls on Iran to increase cooperation with the IAEA.

In relevant remarks on Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blasted the US and its allies' attempts against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency, saying that Tehran will not allow them to make an instrumental use of the IAEA.

"We will not allow an Iran investigations based on documents that rise from espionage claims. We thought that the Agency values its credibility. We still believe in transparency. We welcome the Russian government's initiatives to strengthen Iran-IAEA relations and we will not allow the Agency to turn into an instrument for those who want to annihilate the nuclear deal and all international undertakings," Zarif told reporters in a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow.

"We do not allow a country whose policy is withdrawal from international agreements to use international organizations to pressure Iran," he added.

Zarif said that the US is directly annihilating international laws by pressuring the secretariats of international organizations, adding that 15 reports by the IAEA have shown that Iran has fully cooperated with the UN nuclear watchdog.


US reduces troops in Afghanistan to agreed level of around 8,600: General

19 June 2020

The United States has reduced its military presence in Afghanistan to the level negotiated with the Taliban, around 8,600 troops, the top US commander for the region said Thursday.

“What I would tell you now is we have met our part of the agreement,” General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, told a panel discussion hosted by the Aspen Institute.

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“We agreed to go to the mid-8,000 range within 135 days,” McKenzie said. “We’re at that number now.”

Under the February deal reached with the Taliban, the United States agreed to reduce its forces in Afghanistan from 12,000 troops to 8,600 by mid-July.

The agreement calls for all US and foreign troops to quit Afghanistan by mid-2021, nearly 20 years after Washington invaded the country following the September 11 attacks by al-Qaeda on New York and Washington.

McKenzie stressed that while the goal of a complete withdrawal by May 2021 was “aspirational,” it was also conditional.

It is a “conditions-based approach,” the general said, and “conditions would have to be met that satisfy us -- that attacks against our homeland are not going to be generated from Afghanistan.”

Visit our dedicated coronavirus site here for all the latest updates.

“We all know already that (the Taliban) are no friends of ISIS,” McKenzie said of ISIS.

“What we need to see is what they’re going to do against al-Qaeda,” he said of the group responsible for 9/11. “And we need to see that in deeds and not words.”

“And so we’re very focused on what the Taliban is doing, how they’re participating in these negotiations as we go forward,” he said. “The jury is still very much out.”

President Donald Trump, who is running for re-election in November, has said repeatedly that he wants US troops out of Afghanistan as soon as possible.


Shielding Muslims receiving pork items in England food packages

18 Jun 2020

The government has been accused of “cultural and moral insensitivity” for sending pork sausages and bacon to clinically vulnerable Muslim families who are shielding during the coronavirus pandemic.

Pork products, including tins of beans and sausages and lentil and bacon soup, which are forbidden for Muslims, have been sent to the most at-risk households under a £104m government contract run by a private firm.

Tins of Fray Bentos meatballs and chicken pies are included in the generic “care packages” sent to people who cannot leave their homes due to coronavirus, including those from Muslim, Sikh and Jewish communities, many of whom only eat meat prepared in accordance with their religions.

The Labour MP Imran Hussain said his most vulnerable constituents were having to choose between eating and their religious or ethical beliefs.

In a letter to Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, Hussain wrote: “I want to be clear that this is unacceptable and deeply insensitive to our religious communities.

“The inclusion of these products is also not just culturally and morally insensitive, forcing some in the most vulnerable positions to choose between compromising religious or other sincerely held beliefs and eating, but yet another display of the structural and institutionalised racism in our society – where the views of minorities are either not considered at all or regarded as not significant enough to warrant intervention.”

The food boxes are delivered to people considered “extremely clinically vulnerable” due to underlying health conditions, meaning they cannot leave their home and cannot rely on help from family or friends.

The government said more than 3m food boxes, or 290,000 a week, had been delivered under its contract with the wholesalers Brakes and Bidfood, which launched at the end of March.

It said the boxes were standardised and might not meet dietary or religious needs, but added: “All boxes provide appropriate levels of nutrition for one person for one week. People with special dietary needs which are not met by the packs they receive should contact their local authority for further help and advice.”

Other products in the packages include coffee, tea, biscuits, cereal, fruit, potatoes, pasta, pasta sauce, canned fish and canned vegetables. The meat products usually make up four or five tins, or a significant portion of someone’s weekly food, according to charities.

Hussain was alerted to the issue when a community group in his constituency, Bradford East, noticed dozens of unopened tins of meat products outside people’s houses this week.

Bradford Moor Pass said it collected more than 40 meat tins on one day. People did not want to complain or appear ungrateful but also did not want the items to be wasted, it said.

A Pass representative said he contacted Bidfood, which delivered the boxes, and was told it was “one box fits all” and there were no vegetarian, halal or kosher alternatives.

When approached by the Guardian, Bidfood said its role was to pack and deliver the boxes and that inquiries about the contents must go to the government.

Bidfood, one of the largest food wholesalers in the UK, was awarded a £104m government contract in March along with Brakes, another distributor, as part of a £208m initiative to deliver food to the most vulnerable. The companies said at the time the boxes would “contain the same items, irrespective of whether they receive the delivery from Bidfood or Brakes”.




Javed Akhtar On Communal Tensions: 'Indian Muslims Also Have to Criticize Themselves'


Murali Krishnan

The award is named after British evolutionary biologist and author Richard Dawkins, known for his book The Selfish Gene.

Javed Akhtar, 75, has been vocal about his views on politics, religion and public life and has often spoken out against religious fundamentalism and restrictions on freedom of speech. He has also heavily criticized communalism within Islam while denouncing the anti-Muslim sentiment advocated by the Hindu right.

The award was given for Akhtar's contribution to the rationalist movement through poetry and prose, and for his active participation in the socio-political discourse.

Previous recipients include American comedian Bill Maher and English-American philosopher Christopher Hitchens.

In an interview with DW, Akhtar discusses how the award has validated his method of rational thinking.

DW: How would the Richard Dawkins Award help promote rational thinking in India?

Javed Akhtar: The reaction is beyond my wildest imagination. Dawkins has a huge following in India, and the award has kindled curiosity about both his foundation and the writer himself. Now people know that the award was not given for a song, poem or script, but for critical thinking.

What kind of challenges do rational thinkers face in India today?

By and large this is a very conservative society. The idea of not believing in something can be dangerous. This country has a lot of closet atheists and rationalists, who fear criticism if they are to articulate their beliefs.

Many Indian intellectuals have been arrested and dubbed anti-state since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power. Do you think the space for free thinking is shrinking in the country?

I am afraid it is. It is obvious there are certain people who are in jail because they are perceived as a threat. Why have people like lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj [a civil rights activist] been in jail for such a long time?

The separation between the nation and government has become unclear. You can criticize the government, but criticizing it doesn't mean you are insulting the nation. If criticizing the government is an anti-national act, then what kind of a democracy is this? Democracy means criticizing people in positions of power.

If you criticize the prime minister, then your patriotism becomes suspect. But your loyalty to the government is not equal to the loyalty of the nation. They [Bharatiya Janata Party] have made those two things synonymous and that is wrong.

It is sad but not surprising that such things are happening.

Read more: Pregnant Indian activist trapped in one of Asia's most crowded prisons

In the past, the Indian film industry would often deal with progressive topics. Why aren't such movies coming out today?

There are movies coming out on over-the-top (OTT) platforms, where filmmakers don't have to answer to the censor board. But the Indian film industry is in a vulnerable situation. Someone can write an article or poem to express themselves, but filmmaking is very expensive, and there is not always a guarantee.

First, there is a pre-censor of the film. There have been occasions where a huge amount of money has been invested, but the film was blocked in certain states and could not pass the censor.

Muslims in India have come under pressure since Modi came to power. What are your views, especially in the context of the recent clashes in the country?

Maybe the conflict has increased and become more obvious now, but the pressure [on Muslims] was present even before this regime. You cannot just blame a particular group or political party for this. The responsibility for this situation is manifold, but some of the so-called leaders of the Muslim community have also actively contributed to this situation.

Before we criticize others, we, as a community, also have to criticize ourselves. There have always been certain biases and prejudices, but those have now become more pronounced.

Finally, do you think Indian secularism will survive the onslaught of communal politics?

I question Indian secularism. I am not talking about the common man who knows how to live with all kinds of people of different faiths, views and colors, but about the establishment — the political fraternity as a whole has a distorted concept of secularism. Some parties have tolerated fundamentalism and believe that that is secular. It is a strange definition and people who don't accept that proposition also have a valid case when they promote communalism in society.

The political parties have been tolerating fundamentalism, communalism, and all kinds of violence. They never really stood for secularism. It was only lip service.


Muslim body protests against China in Lohardaga

Jun 19, 2020

Gumla: Anjuman Islamia’s Lohardaga district unit on Thursday burnt an effigy of Chinese President Xi Jinping and asked the Centre to sever all political, diplomatic and economic ties with the country to protest against the killing of 20 Indian soldiers in Galwan valley on Monday night. Two sepoys from Jharkhand too attained martyrdom.

The members of the a Muslim outfit assembled in the town area to stage a protest and also observed two-minute silence to pay homage to the martyred soldiers. They also asked the Centre to cancel Chinese mobile phone company Vivo’s sponsorship in Indian Premier League.

Anjuman Islamia convener Haji Shaqil Ahmed said, “China always pretends to be a good neighbour and says it has a good relationship with India, but it has always intruded on our land. The martyrdom of India soldiers must not go in vain.”


Kashmir: Two Militants Trapped In Mosque In Pulwama Killed In Encounter

19 June 2020

Two militants were killed on Friday in an encounter with security forces in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir, taking the number of ultras killed in the overnight operation to three, police said.

Security forces launched a cordon and search operation at Meej in Pampore area of Pulwama in South Kashmir on Thursday morning after receiving specific information about the presence of militants there, a police official said.

He said the search operation turned into an encounter after militants fired upon a search party of the forces, who retaliated.

One militant was killed in the gunfight on Thursday, but two ultras entered a nearby mosque to take refuge inside it, the official said.

He said the cordon around the mosque was maintained throughout the night.

On Friday morning, security forces used tear smoke shells to force the holed up militants out of the mosque, the officials said, adding the two were then killed by the forces while maintaining the sanctity of the religious place.

Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, said no firing or IED was used to force the militants out if the mosque.

"Patience and professionalism worked. No use of firing and IED. Used tear smoke shells only. Maintained sanctity of the mosque. Both terrorists hiding inside mosque neutralised," the IGP said.

Full report at:


8 militants killed in parallel encounters in Kashmir, forces enter mosque in Pampore

Shuja-ul-Haq Kamaljit Kaur Sandhu

June 19, 2020

Atotal of eight militants have been gunned down in two fierce encounters in south Kashmir. Joint operations are still continuing in Pampore and Shopian since Thursday night.

Two militants have been killed so far and the bodies have been retrieved from the Pampore encounter site. In Shopian, the forces gunned down four militants who were trapped in a gunbattle since Thursday.

In the Pampore gunbattle between militants and security forces, commandos of the Special Operations Group failed to convince the militants to surrender and the forces then entered a mosque. Two militants were holed up inside the mosque since Thursday morning and the gunbattle has continued since then. Both the militants in the Pampore encounter have been killed.

J&K Police DGP Dilbag Singh said, “Both the ongoing operations resumed in the morning today. At Meej Pampore, after the killings of one militant, two others entered the local Jamia Mosque which is a huge structure. Forces have exercised restraint and only limited tactics have been used. Operation team is on the job.”

Kashmir Police IG said, "The Pampore operation took time but forces maintained the sanctity of the mosque. Both terrorists hiding inside the mosque have been killed. The operation is over."

At Munand Shopian, forces have killed four militants, taking the total to eight since Thursday.

Full report at:


Arab World


Saudi Arabia affirms support for IAEA efforts to inspect Iran nuclear sites

18 June 2020

Saudi Arabia said it affirms its support toward the International Atomic Energy Agency to intensify inspections of Iranian sites and its nuclear activities, according to a statement from the Kingdom’s ambassador to Austria.

The director-general of the IAEA, the United Nation’s nuclear watchdog, has expressed concern about the denial of access by Iran to its inspectors to two sites.

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The Vienna-based IAEA met earlier on Monday and expressed “serious concern” in a report earlier this month that Iran has been blocking inspections at the sites.

“The report of the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency under this item shows the Iranian side’s intransigence in dealing with the agency’s requests for more than a year, and Iran’s lack of seriousness in cooperating with the agency reflects its efforts in this regard,” said Prince Abdullah bin Khaled bin Sultan al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Austria.

“Iran has also continued for more than four months to provide unjustified justifications and subjective in its refusal of the IAEA’s request that its inspectors enter two sites to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities,” Prince Abdullah bin Khaled added.

In a statement to the Board of Governors opening this week’s meeting, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi called on Iran “to cooperate immediately and fully with the Agency, including by providing prompt access to the locations specified by us.”


Bahrain regime forces attack inmates taking part in Shia mourning ritual

Friday, 19 June 2020

A Bahraini human rights activist says regime forces have attacked dozens of Shia inmates participating in a mourning ritual at the notorious Jau Prison as the ruling Al Khalifah regime presses ahead with its crackdown on pro-democracy activists in the tiny Persian Gulf country.

Arabic-language Lualua television network, citing a post published on the official Twitter page of Zeinab Khamis – a member of Bahrain Human Rights Society, reported on Thursday that prison guards stormed into Building 4 of the detention facility and assaulted the inmates as they were marking the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (PBUH) – the sixth Shia Imam and founder of the Ja'fari school of jurisprudence, who died on the 25th day of the lunar calendar month of Shawwal more than 13 centuries ago.

Hundreds of inmates are currently being held behind bars at Jau Prison, which is Bahrain’s main detention facility, for their participation in peaceful pro-democracy rallies.

Last month, Bahraini authorities prevented imprisoned Shia Muslim cleric Sheikh Mirza al-Mahrous from receiving appropriate medication and refused to allow him to have a much-needed surgery.

His family said officials at Jau Prison had prevented him from undergoing an emergency operation, voicing grave concerns over the wellbeing of the ailing cleric, according to Arabic-language and independent Manama Post online newspaper.

Anti-regime Bahraini protesters have been staging almost daily demonstrations in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom ever since a pro-democracy uprising began there several years ago.

The demonstrators are calling for the ouster of the Al Khalifah regime and establishment of a just and conclusive system representing all Bahraini nationals.

The Manama regime, in return, has ignored the calls and is pressing ahead with its heavy-handed crackdown and persecution of human rights campaigners and political dissidents.

Moreover, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals on March 5, 2017. The move drew widespread condemnation from human rights bodies and activists, and was described as imposition of an undeclared martial law across the country.

Full report at:


Saudi Arabia proposes framework to activate Riyadh Agreement in Yemen: Reuters

18 June 2020

Saudi Arabia has proposed a framework to activate the Riyadh Agreement in Yemen, according to a report by Reuters published on Thursday.

The deal is aimed at ending the power struggle in the south of Yemen and restoring the control to the internationally recognizedgovernment led by President Abdrabbuh MansurHadi.

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The governmentand the Southern Transitional Council (STC), which has advocated for southern separatism, signed the agreement on November 2019.

The agreement aims to unify all military formations under the authority of the ministries of interior and defense, and form an efficient government made up equally between the north and south of Yemen.

According to the proposal seen by Reuters, President Hadi would appoint a governor and head of security for Aden, Yemen’s temporary capital since the Iran-backed Houthi militia captured Sanaa in 2015.

Hadi would also name a premier who will form a cabinet that includes the STC.

Full report at:


Jewish in UAE: Community members reveal life in an Arab Muslim country

18 June 2020

Following a strong push this week to enhance religious tolerance in the Middle East - with Muslim World League chief Dr. Mohammed Al-Issa championing Muslim-Jewish relations and UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash speaking at the American Jewish Committee – the UAE’s Jewish population is speaking out about what it is like to be Jewish in an Arab Islamic country.

Since David Zabinsky moved to Dubai from the US five years ago, his Jewish faith has strengthened – a development he suggests is a testimony to the UAE’s tolerant environment.

He now celebrates Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest, and high holidays with members of the UAE’s flourishing Jewish community and has become more knowledgeable about his faith and others.

“Ironically enough, and perhaps beautifully, it’s taken me moving to Dubai to become a more observant Jew than I ever was in the US,” said Zabinsky in an interview with Al Arabiya English.

Zabinsky is just one of hundreds of Jewish people in the UAE that express their gratitude to the government and society for spearheading interfaith relations in the Middle East.

“The UAE can and should serve as the model to the world when it comes to acceptance, diversity, and multiculturalism,” said Zabinsky.

Home to more than 200 nationalities, the UAE has embraced the celebration of countless faith traditions since its founding, according to UAE Assistant Minister for Cultural Affairs Omar Ghobash.

“By offering residents the freedom and space to practice religion unrestricted, the UAE consistently sends a message that their diverse perspectives and life experiences matter greatly in strengthening the country’s plurality,” Ghobash told Al Arabiya English.

Year of Tolerance lives on

It was the UAE’s Year of Tolerance in 2019 that really “set the country’s public interfaith initiatives in motion,” said American Rabbi Marc Schneier, who participated in Year of Tolerance events including the visit of Pope Francis, in an interview with Al Arabiya English.

Since then, the UAE has seen the construction of a new synagogue as part of the Abrahamic House of Fraternity in Abu Dhabi and the launch of the first kosher food service in the Gulf region.

The direct outreach to Jewish people by the UAE’s top leadership is significant and shows “how far we have come,” according to Schneier.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash spoke on Tuesday about the country’s interreligious initiatives saying “the DNA of our society is a very tolerant one” during the American Jewish Committee’s virtual global forum.

“Beginning of a new era”

The welcoming of the Jewish community is not limited to top-level UAE officials like Gargash, but pervasive throughout UAE society, according to Dubai-based Rabbi Levi Duchman.

“As the Rabbi of the Jewish Community of the UAE - seeing firsthand the lessons in tolerance and coexistence that our benevolent leaders instill in their youth - I can proudly say that this is truly the beginning of a wonderful new era,” said Duchman in an interview with Al Arabiya English.

Earlier this month Duchman and the Jewish Community of the UAE released a video blessing the country’s leadership and armed forces in Hebrew, that has since been viewed over 150,000 times on social media.

“Our video of the blessing is to show the world our appreciation and pride to be living in the UAE, and how gracious the leadership is,” said Duchman, who is originally from the United States.

“We pray this prayer every Saturday,” he added, referring to the Jewish Sabbath.

The UAE’s Ambassador to London Mansoor Abulhoul shared the blessing on his personal Twitter account, calling it “a beautiful video.”

Drawing on the past

In 2014 the Pew Research Center reported that the level of religious hostilities in the Middle East and North Africa had reached a level four times that of the global average and that harassment of Christians and Jewish people was on the rise.

Defying these statistics, the UAE has proved to be a beacon for interreligious relations – and not only for its residents. When Zabinsky hosts Jewish friends and business partners from the West he said there is one common theme.

“None of them wanted to leave! Each was incredibly impressed with the open arms and hospitality they found in the UAE,” he said.

“Muslims and Jews are both the children of Abraham and have lived together in peace, respect, and harmony in the Middle East and elsewhere for hundreds of years,” added Rabbi Duchman.

Full report at:


Seven Syrians file complaint over sex abuse in Assad’s jails

18 June 2020

Seven Syrians who allegedly suffered or witnessed rape and sexual abuse in detention centers under President Bashar al-Assad’s government have submitted a criminal complaint to prosecutors in Germany, an NGO supporting them said Thursday.

The four women and three men were held in various detention centers in Damascus, Aleppo and Hama between April 2011 and August 2013, said the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), a Berlin-based legal group.

They were all victims or witnesses of torture and sexual violence, including rape, “electrical shocks to the genitals... and forced abortion,” the ECCHR said.

The plaintiffs named nine senior Syrian government and air force intelligence officials in their complaint, including Jamil Hassan, a former close associate of Assad and head of the air force intelligence services until 2019.

Hassan is already the subject of an international arrest warrant from Germany and France on suspicion of crimes against humanity.

The German federal prosecutor’s office in the southwestern city of Karlsruhe confirmed it had received the complaint on Wednesday.

Sexual and gender-based violence in Syrian detention facilities “were and continue to be part of a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population” since the Syrian war started in 2011, according to the ECCHR.

“I want the international community and judicial authorities to know what we went through just because we are women,” one of the victims was cited as saying in a press release.

In April, the first court case worldwide over state-sponsored torture by the Assad government opened in Germany.

The two defendants in the case are being tried on the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows a foreign country to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Syria’s civil war, which started with the brutal repression of anti-government protests, has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced nearly half the country’s pre-conflict population.

Full report at:


Bahrain top court upholds up to 15 years jail for 6 terror suspects

June 17, 2020

Ramadan Al Sherbini

Abu Dhabi: Bahrain’s Court of Cassation upheld the lower court’s ruling that handed down prison sentences ranging between three to 15 years to six convicts, found guilty of setting up a terrorist group affiliated to "Saraya Al Ashtar" (Al Ashtar Brigades) terrorist organisation and carrying out a number of attacks in the kingdom.

The court, however, turned down revoking citizenship of the convicts.

Bahrain’s High Criminal Court sentenced 13 defendants to life sentence and revoked the citizenship of 11 of them,

The court also sentenced other defendants to 10 years in prison for transporting equipment to a member of the terrorist group, who fled the Kingdom to Iran.

Seven defendants were also fined BD100,000 ($265,188) each.

The Court of Appeals commuted the life sentence handed down to nine defendants to 15 years in jail, and the life sentence to seven years to two others. It also commuted a 10 years’ jail handed down to a defendant to three years in prison.

In 2017, Bahraini High Criminal Court issued a verdict to revoke the citizenship of 15 defendants for sharing intelligence with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Lebanon’s Hezbollah terrorist group.

In the same ruling, known under the name of “Al Basta,” the Bahraini High Criminal Court sentenced eight defendants to life in jail, nine to 15 years, and two to 10 years and a 100,000-dinar fine.

Ten of the defendants were referred to custody pending trial, while the court ordered the arrest of defendants who are still at large.

Chief of Terror Crimes Prosecution Advocate General Ahmed Al Hammadi said the High Criminal Court issued sentences against 19 suspects charged with spying for a foreign country and a terrorist organisation working for it, receiving funds from the same country to carry out hostile acts targeting the national interests of the Kingdom, illegally establishing and joining a terrorist group and providing funds for a terrorist cell.

Investigations revealed that the followers of the so-called "Al Wafa Islamic Movement" had formed a clandestine cell under the name “Al Basta Group.”

Evidence also revealed that the defendants had met leaders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah to receive the necessary financial and technical support to carry out the criminal plots of "Al Basta" terror cell in the Kingdom and provide funds for its activities.

Full report at:


Syrian refugees file law suit against Qatar's Doha Bank for terror funding

18 June 2020

Syrian refugees have filed a claim for damages against Qatar's Doha bank and two Qatar residents for its alleged support for Syrian terrorist organizations, according to legal sources.

The claim was filed in the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court in London by 330 Syrian refugees residing in the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and other countries. The case was filed against Doha bank and Moutaz and Ramez al-Khayyat, according to a statement from Richard Slade of the "Richard Slade" & Co Law firm in London, seen by Al Arabiya.

The claimants say they suffered loss and damage in Syria at the hands of Jabhat al-Nusra, including loss of business and property and serious personal and psychiatric injuries. Some were victims of torture, the lawsuit says.

They allege that Doha Bank and Moutaz and Ramez Al Khayyat were instrumental in funding Jabhat al-Nusra.

Full report at:


Southeast Asia


Indonesia’s Religious Freedom Still Has Room for Improvement


Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – In the latest report from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim majority population in the world, its poor implementation of religious freedom and belief was highlighted.

Although the country guarantees religious freedom in its Constitution, in reality, religious minorities are often subject to discrimination and persecution by the society and the government. The report states that Indonesian citizens need to respect the rule of law to protect the rights of other citizens based on considerations of morality, religious values, security, public order, and democratic society.

One example mentioned in the report is the revocation of church building permits and forced termination of Protestant gatherings. In Indonesia, while the mosques are able to easily obtain building permit (IMB), churches have to jump through hoops in order to for their IMB to be approved. Often times their IMB can be revoked if the local community voices strong opposition against their church.

Members of the Yasmin Indonesian Christian Church (GKI Yasmin) in Bogor and Filadelfia HKBP in Bekasi have not been able to meet at their own churches for years due to an IMB dispute. Their cases confirm the IMB challenges faced by religious minority groups in the country.

The report also noted that local governments and police often surrender to the demands of Muslim mass groups – such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), the Islamic Community Forum, Islamic Jihad Front, and the Indonesian Mujahidin Council – who constantly demand the closure of places of worship for violating permits or question the right to worship of minority religious groups.

Responding to the report on religious freedom in Indonesia, a member of Commission VIII of the House of Representatives from the National Awakening Party Faction Marwan Dasopang stressed that America was not relevant in assessing the implementation of religious freedom and worship in Indonesia. He added that there is no need to respond.


2 muftis defend ‘no foreigner’ rule in mosques

June 11, 2020

PETALING JAYA: Two Muslim leaders disagree that a temporary ban on foreigners joining congregational prayers at mosques is discriminatory.

Abdul Rahman Osman and Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor, the muftis of Pahang and Penang, said the move should be seen as part of Covid-19 containment measures.

“Islam does not differentiate between foreigners or locals. They’re the same,” Abdul Rahman told FMT.

“If we could let everyone in, we would. But we can’t do that right now,” he said, adding that there was limited space in mosques in order to implement social distancing, a main feature of the global containment measures against the deadly disease.

The government in announcing the gradual reopening of mosques nationwide has said that only locals would be allowed to attend congregational and Friday prayers.

The move drew criticism from Muslim activist Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, who warned that it could border on xenophobia.

Instead, Farouk, who teaches medicine at Monash University, said mosques could undertake temperature checks at entrances and scanning of barcodes as practised in other outlets.

“Wouldn’t it be seen to be a religion that is more egalitarian in nature and does not practise any form of discrimination?” he told FMT. “Islam should never be seen as a religion that condones any form of discrimination and prejudice.”

But Abdul Rahman said space constraints at certain mosques, meant there would be “no room to accommodate everyone”.

Wan Salim, the Penang mufti, agreed that Muslims should treat everyone equal regardless of nationality.

But he said there were social realities to be taken into account, including a perception that foreigners including refugees were a threat to the economy and socio-culture.

Wan Salim proposed that authorities could place them at certain areas where interaction or mingling between the locals and these communities could be reduced.

Full report at:


Malaysia’s Islamic family laws have gone from best to worst, says activist

Nicholas Chung

January 11, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Islamic family laws suffered two rounds of regression in the 1990s and early 2000s following amendments to the law, according to a rights activist.

Zainah Anwar, executive director of international rights group Musawah, said the law reforms took away many progressive reforms made previously, adding that Malaysia’s Islamic family laws went from one of the best in the Muslim world to one of the worst.

“In 1984, the Islamic family law was amended and new laws were provided, which was amazing. It gave us so many rights and expanded the rights for women to get divorced,” she said with divorce and polygamy decided by the courts.

“With the 1994 amendments, you can divorce outside the court. Without going to court, you can just pronounce talak.

“Your wife doesn’t even know she’s being divorced because the husband has disappeared. She gets a letter from the religious authorities sometime later to say that she has been divorced.”

Another regression, she said, saw the responsibility of children born out of wedlock being wholly given to the mothers, which meant they could not make any claims for maintenance or inheritance from the father.

In 2003, another round of reforms meant that husbands in polygamous marriages could make a claim for a share of their wife’s matrimonial assets despite taking a second wife.

“We’re not even asking to ban polygamy. We just want them to ensure that the rights of the first wife and existing children are protected, especially their financial wellbeing.

“What is galling is the fact that for non-Muslim women, law reforms have moved forward to recognise equality. But for Muslim women, in the name of Islam, you can be discriminated against.”

Zainah, who led the rights group Sisters in Islam (SIS) previously, blamed these regressions on the rise of “political Islam”, adding that these issues remain due to the current patriarchal state of society.

She said groups such as SIS and Musawah would not have to exist if Islam was practised the way it should be.

“I go to Geneva for the women’s convention sessions and it’s shameful and disgraceful that Muslim governments stand before the Cedaw (Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women) committee and say they cannot reform the laws to recognise equality because it will be against Islam.

“So you’re standing there telling the whole world that Islam is an unjust religion, that Islam is a religion that discriminates against women and shamelessly say that.”

Full report at:


Malaysia may send Rohingya detainees back out to sea, sources say

JUNE 19, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR/BANGKOK - Malaysia is considering a plan to send nearly 300 Rohingya Muslim refugees detained after arriving on a damaged boat back out to sea once the ship has been fixed, two security sources told Reuters on Thursday (June 18).

Muslim-majority Malaysia has been a favoured destination for ethnic Rohingya fleeing persecution in Myanmar and more recently, refugee camps in Bangladesh, in search of better prospects.

But Malaysia has said it will no longer accept Rohingya refugees after tightening border controls to rein in the spread of the new coronavirus.

Malaysia had earlier asked Bangladesh to take back 269 Rohingya refugees, who were detained upon their arrival on June 8, but Bangladeshi officials had rejected the request.

Authorities have now drawn up a plan to send the detainees back out to sea after the boat has been fixed, two Malaysian security sources said. They declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

"That is the current plan but no decision has been made yet," one of the sources said.

The boat would be supplied with food and water if the plan to push them out to sea was approved, the source said.

The Malaysian government's National Taskforce on migrant issues, which includes the maritime agency, navy, police and immigration, did not respond to an emailed request for comment. Nor did Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's office.

The body of one Rohingya woman was found on the boat but rights groups say more had died while others were left starving after being stranded at sea for months before being rescued.

The Arakan Project, a non-profit group focusing on the Rohingya crisis, urged Malaysia not to send the refugees back out to sea.

"This would amount to refoulement and would be completely inhumane as passengers already died aboard this boat before it was rescued," Chris Lewa, the group's director told Reuters.

Refoulement means the forced return of refugees to a place where they risk persecution in contravention of international humanitarian and human rights laws.

"Rohingya need protection and cannot be pushed off from one country to another, let alone back to sea."

In recent weeks, Malaysia has turned away at least two boats and detained hundreds of Rohingya already in the country, as well as other undocumented migrants.

The action comes amid heightened public anger towards foreigners in Malaysia, who have been accused of spreading the coronavirus and being a burden on state resources.

Full report at:


Report lodged against NGO chief’s ‘semi-democracy’ proposal

Robin Augustin

June 18, 2020

PETALING JAYA: A rights activist has lodged a police report against the leader of a conservative Muslim group over a recent writing seen as undermining Malaysia’s democractic system.

Afiq Noor wants police to investigate Malaysian Muslim Solidarity (Isma) president Aminuddin Yahaya, over a commentary piece in news portal Malaysiakini.

In it, Aminuddin proposed a “semi-democracy” where the prime minister and Cabinet members may not be chosen from among elected representatives.

He said these positions, including government-linked companies, should be filled by technocrats and civil servants.

Afiq said while he respected free speech, the suggestions were detrimental to the democractic system.

“Under Section 124 (B), (C), (D) of the Penal Code, the government restricts speech which are detrimental to parliamentary democracy.”

He said Aminuddin’s proposal would take away the prime minister’s powers to appoint his Cabinet members.

Full report at:




Tunisia’s economy could shrink by as much as 7 percent: Official

17 June 2020

Tunisia’s economy could shrink by up to 7 percent this year because of the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the investment minister said on Wednesday.

The government ended all restrictions on movement and businesses this month and will open its sea, land and air borders on June 27. However, the pandemic is hammering the tourism sector, which contributes nearly 10 percent of gross domestic product and is a key source of foreign currency.

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.

The number of unemployed people in Tunisia will increase by 275,000, according to a government study in partnership with the United Nations, investment minister Slim Azzabi said.

This would raise the unemployment rate to 21.1 percent in 2020, up from about 15 percent at the start of the year.

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The study expects the economy to shrink by 4.4 percent, but Azzabi said the figure could rise as high as 6 percent or 7 percent.

Tourism revenue in the first five months of this year fell by about 50% from the same period of 2019 as western tourists deserted Tunisia’s hotels and resorts.


Annexation is ‘destruction’ of two-state solution: Jordanian FM Safadi

June 18, 2020

AMMAN: Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi made an unannounced visit to the West Bank on Thursday to convey a “historic message” of support to Palestine amid Israeli plans to annex parts of the territory.

In a high-profile meeting, Safadi delivered a message of support from Jordan’s King Abdullah to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas backing Palestine’s opposition to the Israeli proposal.

Safadi, who was accompanied by director of Jordanian intelligence Maj. Gen. Ahmed Husni, met with Palestinian intelligence chief Majdi Faraj and Abbas’s political adviser Majdi Khalidi, as well as Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein Sheikh.

Speaking after the meeting, Safadi said that Jordan’s support for the Palestinian stance remains strong.

“Our position is steadfast and historic. Jordan, with continuous direction from the king, stands alongside our Palestinian brethren in support of their legitimate rights,” he said.

Both Jordan and the Palestinians strongly object to the Israeli plan and have been lobbying against it.

Safadi criticized annexation as an act of “destruction” of the two-state solution.

“It blows up the very basis of the peace process, and will deny the people of the region their right to live in peace, security and stability,” he said.

Full report at:


Libya welcomed Turkish delegation’s visit: Cavusoglu

Firdevs Bulut  


Libya warmly welcomed the visit by a Turkish delegation to the country, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said late Wednesday at a press conference. 

Earlier in the day, Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj welcomed Cavusoglu, Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak and National Intelligence Organization head Hakan Fidan at the instruction of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"Our visit received a great welcome in Libya. The purpose of the visit is clear: it is to strongly reiterate that Turkey stands with Libya. We also discussed how the two countries can improve bilateral relations," Cavusoglu said.

"As you know, we have signed a memorandum of understanding with Libya about restricting maritime jurisdiction. We have discussed all of the steps to be taken in the Mediterranean in terms of energy. We talked about what is to be done to achieve a permanent ceasefire and a political decision. We also discussed how we will continue our work under the framework of the UN. We evaluated the steps to be taken within the international community," he added.

Reminding that mass graves were found in the city of Tarhuna in Libya, Cavusoglu said Turkey supports Libya's endeavors to take this issue to the International Criminal Court.

"These inhumane massacres should be questioned, and those responsible should be taken to the court," he stressed.

Economic ties

Turkey and Libya’s economic partnerships were also discussed during the visit, Cavusoglu said.

"Turkish firms' business activities were cut short in Libya due to the war. There are projects, investments that need to be completed. We therefore also discussed the economic aspects of our relations," he added.

The Turkish delegation met with Prime Minister al-Sarraj, Foreign Minister Mohammed Siyala and the chairman of Libya's High Council of State, Khalid al-Mishri.

"We have visited our teams in the region who are there for training and consultancy as part of our memorandum of understanding. They are working there day and night. I congratulate them," Cavusoglu said.

Turkey's fight against terror in northern Iraq

He also congratulated the Turkish Armed Forces for their brave struggle against terrorist organizations in northern Iraq, adding Turkey’s two military operations there are proceeding successfully.

On Monday, the National Defense Ministry announced the start of Operation Claw-Eagle in northern Iraq, noting that Turkish fighter jets had destroyed caves where terrorists were hiding.

On Wednesday, Turkish Armed Forces destroyed PKK terrorist targets in northern Iraq’s Haftanin region as part of Operation Claw-Tiger.

Meanwhile, Cavusoglu congratulated former Turkish Ambassador Volkan Bozkir on being elected president of the UN General Assembly ahead of its 75th session in September.

Full report at:


Somali army kills 7 al-Shabaab militants in central Somalia

Jun 19, 2020

Somali National Army (SNA) backed by AMISOM forces on Wednesday killed seven al-Shabaab militants in an operation on the outskirts of Beledweyn town in the central region of Hiran, a military officer confirmed on Thursday.

Salah Ya’qub, commander of SNA’s 27th Unit told reporters that the operation was a response for militants’ mortar attacks on Luq Jelow village.

“There was an intense clash between the army and the militants, but we finally drove the militants out of Luq Jelow village killing seven of them,” Ya’qub said. He added that the army freed two civilians who were detained by the militants.

He also said that their forces also destroyed a checkpoint the militants were using to ambush vehicles passing through the road.

The military officer said they will intensify military operations in the area still occupied by the group.

The latest operation came barely four days after government forces killed 13 al-Shabaab militants in another operation in Afmadow town in the country’s southern region of Lower Juba.

Full report at:




Iran Supports UN Human Rights Meeting on Racism in US

Jun 18, 2020

“Iran backs the idea behind holding this meeting,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi said on Wednesday.

He added that the Islamic Republic is of the opinion that the United Nations-associated human rights resources and mechanisms have to “be geared towards confrontation of such phenomena as racism”.

In line with its religious, cultural, and national teachings, the Islamic Republic has always acted as a pioneer of fighting and confronting racism, the official noted. Tehran believes that systematic racism in some parts of the world, especially the US, has to be tackled at its roots, Mousavi said.

“What we are bearing witness to in US society today is the upshot of systematic racism and injustice that has existed and continues to exist across the pillars and structures of the US’s political establishment”, he said.

Mousavi regretted that the brutality had taken place despite decades of human rights activism at the UN, and on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the announcement of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action, a historic anti-racism communiqué.

The spokesman, therefore, urged that the global fight against racism “enter a new era” that would last until eradication of the phenomenon.

Mousavi also communicated the Islamic Republic’s support for a related resolution that has been drafted by African countries at the UN body.

He, meanwhile, reminded that apart from the American people, nations across other parts of the world have also fallen prey to racist and unjust approaches adopted by various American administrations.

“Nations in other countries too have had very bitter experiences of US administrations’ discriminatory attitudes and approaches that have been accompanied by oppression and injustice”, Mousavi said.

“Responsibility for such attitudes falls squarely on the US administration,” he underlined.

The gathering kicked off on Wednesday, hosting an address via video-link by the victim’s brother Philonise, who urged the UN body to investigate police brutality and racial discrimination in the United States. It is to hold its second part on Thursday.

Disturbing footage emerged on May 25 showing the officer choking unarmed Floyd to death by pinning him down with his knee.

The officer refused to relieve the pressure although Floyd was heard repeatedly pleading for his life and saying, “I can’t breathe.” The officers had been called to the scene, a Cup Foods’ store on the 3,700 block of Chicago Avenue South, after the victim was reported to be attempting to use forged documents.

Addressing the Geneva summit, Floyd’s brother pushed for the creation of an independent commission to investigate American police killings of black people and the violence that has been used against the demonstrators, who have been peacefully protesting the murder.


Iran Deplores US Sanctions against Syria, Vows to Continue Cooperation with Damascus

Jun 18, 2020

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi said that implementation of Caesar Act is against international laws and human rights.

The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, signed into law by US President Donald Trump in December 2019, came into effect on Wednesday. The document stipulates sanctioning almost all Syrian economic and trade activities, as well as government officials.

Mousavi said in a time when the entire world is engaged with the coronavirus, actions such as "inhumane sanctions" just intensifies the pains of the Syrian people.

He added that as Iran has stated before, it gives no credit to the unilateral sanctions imposed with bullying behavior and considers them as economic terrorism of the US government against the people of Syria and in line with Washington's attempts to destabilize the country.

Mousavi added that Iran will, as before, continue cooperation with the resistant people and government of Syria and will, despite the US sanctions, strengthen economic ties with them.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo announced in a tweet that his country is to impose more sanctions on Syrian Government, including President Bashar al-Assad, his wife, and tens of other Syrian officials.

Pompeo said in a statement that anyone doing business with Syrian Government "is potentially exposed to travel restrictions and financial sanctions".

Earlier this weeks, a Lebanese newspaper wrote that all measures by the US in West Asia, including war and sanctions and the Caesar Act, are aimed at protecting Israel's security.

"The US government started implementation of a law called Caesar Act in a bid to further pressure Syria by sanctions after 10 years of devastating war but it pursues more important goals," the Arabic-language al-Akhbar wrote on Tuesday.

"The US government considers Caesar Act as an advanced stage of a long-term war of attrition against the Syrian government to confine the government's rule to Damascus and certain coastal areas and disintegration of the country," it added.

Full report at:


Iran’s IRGC attacks Iranian Kurdish groups in Iraq

18 June 2020

Iranian forces carried out artillery attacks against Iranian Kurdish opposition groups in Iraqi Kurdistan for the second day in a row on Wednesday, according to the semi-official YJC news agency.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) confirmed it had attacked Kurdish groups on Wednesday, saying it had targeted “armed anti-revolutionary” groups by carrying out large-scale artillery and missile attacks on the Iraqi Kurdish border. “Anti-revolutionary” is a term the Iranian regime uses to refer to any opposition groups.

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The attacks took place in the area of Alana in Erbil province’s Haji Omaran district bordering Iran.

The IRGC targeted members of the Iranian Kurdish opposition groups Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan and the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), YJC reported, adding that the IRGC had carried out similar attacks against Kurdish groups on Tuesday.

Attack intended to harm the Kurdish people: PDKI

In a statement on Wednesday, the PDKI condemned the IRGC’s attacks, saying: “The bombardment of the region is directly intended to harm the Kurdish people, destroy Kurdistan’s natural and rich environment and to shift the focus from the critical internal challenges the regime is currently facing.”

“So far, there have not been any reported casualties, however, many farms in the area were reduced to ashes by the regime’s indiscriminate shelling of the area,” the statement added.

The Turkish defence ministry said on Wednesday it had deployed special forces in northern Iraq in an operation against Kurdish fighters, backed by air and artillery support.

Earlier this week, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in Ankara.

The Iranian-Turkish attacks in Iraqi Kurdistan are likely to be a coordinated manoeuvre.

Full report at:


US, Saudis, allies responsible for any environmental disaster off Yemen coast: Houthi

18 June 2020

A member of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council has held Saudi Arabia and its regional allies, which are involved in an atrocious military campaign against the impoverished Arab country, fully responsible for a potential oil leakage from a decaying tanker in the Red Sea, and the impending environmental disaster it could cause.

“We do not assume any responsibility for any leakage from the Safer tanker afloat at the sea,” Arabic-language al-Masirah television network quoted Mohammed Ali al-Houthi as saying on Thursday.

He called for immediate actions over the matter, holding the United States, Saudi Arabia and their allies fully liable for any disastrous consequences as they have not allowed Yemen to sell the crude loaded at the tanker.

The Safer tanker, owned by the Yemen oil company, allows vessels to anchor offshore and transfer oil extracted and processed from installations in the Ma'rib oil field in central Yemen.

The tanker is said to contain 34 crude oil tanks of different sizes and volumes, amounting to a total capacity of about three million barrels.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in order to bring former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crush the Houthi 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 over the past five years.

Full report at:,-Saudis,-allies-liable-fully-responsible-for-environmental-disaster-off-Yemen-coast:-Houthi


Saudi Arabia, UAE in cahoots with Israeli regime against Muslim nations: Houthi

18 June 2020

The leader of Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement has warned Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates against attempts to normalize relations with Israel, saying Riyadh and Abu Dhabi are siding with the Tel Aviv regime, which is known as the implacable enemy of Muslim nations.

“Saudi Arabia and the UAE are siding with Israel, which is the chief enemy of the Muslim world,” Abdul-Malik al-Houthi said in a televised speech broadcast live from the capital, Sana’a, on Thursday afternoon.

He stressed that the two Persian Gulf states are in cahoots with the Israeli regime against Palestinians and their cause.

The Ansarullah chief said Israel and the United States continue to threaten the Yemeni nation, stressing, “Enemies want to encourage public apathy among the Yemenis, so that they become indifferent in the face of their (enemies’) plots and schemes.”

Houthi then lambasted certain Arab states for serving the interests of Washington and Tel Aviv in the Middle East region, describing a resistance that is anchored in Islamic teachings as the best strategy against unraveling conspiracies.

“The US and Israel seek to enslave Yemeni people. Their plots target the entire Muslim community, and are meant to disintegrate Islamic nations from within through sowing the seeds of discord and division,” he highlighted.

The Ansarullah leader went on to say that enemies are targeting all nations in the Muslim world, saying, “US and Israeli plots seek to create religious and political divisions in Islamic nations. We need to raise public awareness about such schemes. Muslims must make foiling US and Israeli conspiracies their number-one priority.”

“Enemies are hiding the truth, exploiting them (Muslim nations) to further their own interests. The US and Israeli regime are seeking to plunder natural resources of Muslim states,” Houthi said.

He highlighted that his Ansarullah movement will continue to stand against US and Israeli hegemonic plans in the region, saying Washington has turned to Saudi Arabia in its campaign against Yemenis as it dreads a direct faceoff.

“The mercenaries of the United States and the Israeli regime will eventually withdraw from Yemen after having suffered a humiliating defeat,” Houthi commented.

The Ansarullah chief also censured enemies’ efforts to portray a distorted image of ongoing developments in the region by means of their media outlets, arguing that Western countries are acting in favor of Zionist lobby groups.

Commenting on Lebanon, Houthi noted that the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement can greatly contribute to the resolution of economic woes in Lebanon.

Lebanon has been the scene of protests over rising poverty and economic woes, with demonstrators saying the ruling class is impotent in tackling the worsening crisis.

The Arab country plunged into crisis last year, when its currency collapsed, businesses shut, and prices for basic goods skyrocketed.

Touched on Iran-US standoff, the Ansarullah leader said Washington is pressing ahead with its sanctions and economic war on Tehran in a bid to undermine the Islamic Republic’s independence.

Full report at:,-UAE-now-in-Israeli-regime%E2%80%99s-camp-against-Muslim-nations--Houthi


Jordan deplores Israel’s digging and construction works at al-Aqsa’s Western Wall

18 June 2020

Jordan has lambasted the Israeli regime for its provocative digging and construction works at the al-Aqsa Mosque’s Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds.

In a statement on Thursday, spokesman for Jordan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dhaifullah al-Fayez stressed that the Western Wall is an integral part of the al-Aqsa Mosque, which along with the Dome of the Rock Mosque, makes the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

Fayez, whose country is the custodian of the holy sites at the compound, added that al-Quds Awqaf and Aqsa Affairs Department has exclusive jurisdiction, under international law, over all affairs related to the al-Aqsa Mosque, the Palestinian Information Center reported.

He stressed that all maintenance and restoration works at the al-Aqsa Mosque, including its walls, are within the exclusive powers of the al-Quds Awqaf.

Israel occupied the Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds during the Six-Day War of 1967. After the end of hostilities, the regime allowed the Waqf to retain authority over the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, or the Haram al-Sharif.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Fayez called on Israel to respect its obligations in this regard and immediately halt all digging activities on the site. His ministry, he said, had already sent an official protest letter regarding the issue to the occupying regime.

Jordan FM: Israeli annexation poses 'unprecedented danger'

Later on Thursday, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the occupied West Bank, amid mounting tensions between the Palestinian Authority and the Tel Aviv regime over West Bank annexation plans.

Safadi’s rare visit to Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority, was made by helicopter, and according to Abbas’s office, the talks focused on Israel’s provocative plans to annex settlements in the West Bank as well as the strategic Jordan Valley.

Israeli annexation plans in the occupied West Bank pose an "unprecedented danger," he was quoted by AFP as telling journalists after his meeting with Abbas.

"The issue of annexation is an unprecedented danger to the peace process," Safadi told journalists, adding, "If annexation occurs, it will kill the [so-called] two-state solution and destroy all the foundations on which the peace process was based."

The Israeli regime was particularly emboldened by American President Donald Trump in January, when he officially unveiled his much-condemned Middle East plan, the so-called deal of the century.

Trump’s scheme, which has already been categorically rejected and condemned by the Palestinians, largely gives in to Israel’s demands while creating a Palestinian state with limited control over its own security and borders, enshrining the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital” and allowing the regime to annex settlements in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing a number of criminal indictments, has repeatedly said that he would begin cabinet-level discussions for annexing more areas in the West Bank on July 1, in accordance with Trump’s proposal.

In response to Trump’s highly-provocative scheme and Israel’s annexation plans, Abbas declared the end of all agreements signed with Tel Aviv and Washington on May 19.

Jordan, which has signed a peace agreement with Israel, has already expressed its opposition to Trump’s scheme and Israel’s annexation plan.

Earlier this week, Jordan’s King Abdullah II voiced his opposition to the plan during an online meeting with members of the US Congress, telling them annexation is “unacceptable and undermines chances of peace and stability in the region.”

He also emphasized the importance of “establishing an independent, sovereign and viable Palestinian state.”

Full report at:


Israeli settlers bulldoze Palestinian land to build road connecting West Bank settlements

18 June 2020

Israeli settlers have flattened many acres of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank to pave the way for the construction of a major new ring road in Jerusalem al-Quds, which will connect Jewish settlements located north and south of the city.

According to a report by the Palestinian Information Center on Thursday, Jewish settlers on Wednesday unleashed their bulldozers and laid waste to many acres of Palestinian land in Qusra town, south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank.

The report, citing local official Ghassan Daghlas, added that the move was aimed at building The American Road, an eight-kilometer bypass, which would connect in particular Esh Kodesh outpost to Migdalim settlement.

He added that the ring road, upon completion, would also link all Israeli settlements and outposts in the north of the West Bank to those in the Jordan Valley.

According to an exclusive report by Reuters on Monday, the central and southern sections of The American Road were already being constructed and that bids for the northernmost part of the road would be issued toward the end of the year, at a projected cost of $187 million.

The whole project is forecast to cost more than a quarter of a billion dollars, it further said.

The Israeli regime says the controversial road will ease traffic congestion for both Israeli settlers and Palestinians living in the area.

However, Palestinians say the new road will first and foremost benefit Israeli settlers, and further undermine the feasibility of East Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of their future state they seek in the occupied West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip.

“This project cuts off Palestinian neighborhoods within the city from one another,” Reuters quoted Palestinian Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Fadi al-Hidmi as saying.

The American Road is part of Israel’s “illegal” ring road project which “surrounds occupied East Jerusalem [al-Quds] to further connect Israeli settlements and sever the occupied Palestinian capital from the rest of the West Bank,” he added.

The Israeli settlements in the West Bank have mushroomed during the regime’s successive administrations since the aftermath of the Six-Day War in 1967.

Currently, more than 400,000 Israelis live in settler units there, with another 200,000 in East Jerusalem al-Quds. Palestinians say these increasing settlements make a future state unviable.

The Israeli regime was particularly emboldened by American President Donald Trump in January, when he officially unveiled his much-condemned Middle East plan, the so-called deal of the century.

Trump’s scheme, which has already been categorically rejected and condemned by Palestinians, largely gives in to Israel’s demands while creating a Palestinian state with limited control over its own security and borders, enshrining the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital” and allowing the regime to annex settlements in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing a number of criminal indictments, has repeatedly said that he would begin cabinet-level discussions for annexing more areas in the West Bank on July 1, in accordance with Trump’s proposal.

In response to Trump’s highly-provocative scheme and Israel’s annexation plans, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared the end of all agreements signed with Tel Aviv and Washington on May 19.

Full report at:


Yemeni tribes in Al-Bayda province revolt against Houthis

June 19, 2020

AL-MUKALLA: At least 23 people were killed on Wednesday and Thursday in the central province of Al-Bayda during heavy fighting that broke out when the Iran-backed Houthis moved to suppress an uprising led by powerful tribes, residents have told Arab News.

The Houthis on Wednesday night launched missile and drone attacks on Radman district before deploying forces on the ground to suppress a rebellion by local tribes known as Al-Awadh. The aerial assault hit buildings, killing three people.

On Thursday, at least 20 Houthis were killed after tribesmen foiled their advance toward Radman.

“We pushed back their offensive on Radman after destroying several vehicles and killing many Houthis,” Mustafa Al-Baydani, a journalist from Radman district, told Arab News by telephone. “They failed to advance in the mountainous areas and the tribes are determined to go ahead with fighting.”

Tensions between Al-Awadh and the Houthis have been building up since early last month, when the Houthis refused to punish local fighters who had killed a woman called Jehad Al-Asbahi.

Led by Yasser Al-Awadhi, a senior member of the General People’s Congress party and a staunch supporter of Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Al-Awadh tribes have not engaged in anti-Houthi military operations over the last five years even after Houthi killed Saleh in late 2017. When the Houthis refused to admit killing the woman, the tribesmen took up arms and vowed to punish the militia.

Al-Awadhi urged local tribes to come together to push back Houthi aggressions on their territories.

A Houthi military spokesman, Yahya Sarea, accused Al-Awadhi of leading a rebellion and attacking their followers in Radman. Yemeni politicians, tribesmen and activists, who oppose the Houthis, have hailed the tribal uprising in Radman and urged the internationally recognized government and local tribesmen to stand by Al-Awadhi tribes against the Houthis.

Ahmed bin Dagher, an adviser to the Yemeni president and a former prime minister, praised army troops who scored victories in Marib, Jawf and Al-Baydha during the latest fighting with the Houthis, calling on Yemenis to support any uprising against the Houthis.

“A special greeting to those (fighters) who are standing with Sheikh (Yasser) Al-Awadi,” bin Dagher tweeted on Thursday.

In Nehim district, near Houthi-controlled Sanaa, warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition destroyed 20 military vehicles carrying Houthi fighters and military equipment bound for the battlefield, the Yemeni Defense Ministry said.

Fighting has been raging in Nehim for more than six days as government forces push to make territorial gains in the rugged mountainous area and break years of military stalemate in the district.

The ministry said that the army and allied tribesmen had seized control of a number locations in Nehim, crediting precise airstrikes by coalition warplanes for paving the way for progress on the ground and preventing Houthis from regrouping and resupplying.

The conflict is ongoing despite the coronavirus pandemic. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that Yemen’s COVID-19 fatality rate was “alarming” and four times higher than the global average.

Full report at:


North America


US stealing Syrian resources on behalf of Zionist banking cabal

18 June 2020

By Kevin Barrett

The latest news from Syria is that the US is imposing new and draconian sanctions.

I believe they started just about now. And, of course, the US has been destabilizing Syria for many years now, militarily, as well as economically. And it seems like they're ratcheting up the economic destabilization efforts in order to prevent—or they hope at least to prevent—the Syrian government from fully reestablishing sovereignty over all of its territory and resources.

The US is in fact stealing Syrian resources. It has installations where it's pumping oil with the help of its ISIS (Daesh) helpers. They still occupying portions of Syria, and stealing 200,000 barrels of oil every day according to estimates from the Syrian government.

And Trump is actually bragging about this rather than denying it. He says we're staying there to steal—I think he didn’t use the word “steal” but he might as well have—he will stay there to seize the oil, to take the oil.

So, the American leaders are shameless in their war of actual terrorism and economic terrorism against countries that don't obey every single one of their orders.

This underlines the importance of the world figuring out how to get out from under the US dollar and the institutions it dominates.

The only reason the US is able to starve the Syrian people like this and to try to starve people from so many other countries with these similar draconian sanctions—and you know we're reaching the point where there are sanctions on a long list of countries, that soon it'll be about half the world that will be under us sanctions— the only reason they can do that is because the Bretton Woods post-World War Two architecture of the world financial networks all runs through Washington and runs through international banker controlled institutions like the Bank of International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, which is the headquarters of the Rothschild banking cabal that rules the West, and uses US state power as one of its main instruments.

The world needs to find a way to build a new financial architecture that is multilateral, that doesn't all get piped through this banking cabal in Basel and its hired politicians in Washington DC.

And of course as more and more of the world gets sanctioned, including Syria, there is more and more motivation for countries like Russia and China and Iran and Syria and Venezuela, and any country that wants to trade with them which is probably most of the world, to figure out how to do it by getting around these sanctions. And this is going to put more pressure on the dollar, which is already getting a little bit shaky. They keep propping up the dollar by creating new crises.

The COVID-19 made in a lab US bio-war complex attack on the world very likely was a destabilization effort with many objectives, including taking down the globalized trade system that is the engine of China's economic growth.

And additionally to scare the world and destabilize the world because the panic reaction is always to run back to the US dollar. But there's a limit to how often they can pull that trick before the world gets wise and realizes the dollar isn't worth the toilet paper it is printed on.

So that's the larger situation. Meanwhile the people of Syria are trying to rebuild their country, and they are suffering from this economic terrorism. And the world needs to stand up and say no and find ways to get rid of the sanctions, to evade these sanctions, and to help Syria rebuild itself and come back to life after this horrific terrorist war that the US started on Syria on behalf of Israel…and, of course, on behalf of that Zionist international banking cabal that owns the United States, and uses US state power and has as its headquarters the fake state of Israel squatting in occupied Palestine.

Kevin Barrett is an American author, journalist and radio host with a Ph.D. in Islamic and Arabic Studies. He has been studying the events of 9/11 since late 2003. He recorded this article for Press TV website.


Mexico Hails Turkish Diplomat's UNGA Presidency

Beyza Binnur Donmez  


Mexico has welcomed the election of former Turkish Ambassador Volkan Bozkir as the UN General Assembly president ahead of the historic 75th General Debate in September.

"We congratulate and wish luck to Ambassador Volkan Bozkir of Turkey, who will occupy the honorable post of President of the United Nations General Assembly!" Head of Mexico's Chancellor Office Fabian Medina tweeted late Wednesday.

"These times of challenges and opportunities need strong leadership in the multilateral world!" Medina added.

He also hailed his country's success to become the new Non-Permanent Member States of the Security Council, along with India, Norway and Ireland, saying the high number of votes obtained by Mexico shows the "prestige of its diplomacy". Mexico garnered 187 votes out of 192.

In a secret ballot vote, Bozkir, who was unopposed for the post, received 178 ballots in support as 11 nations abstained on Wednesday.

"I am thankful to all UN member states, for electing me with an overwhelming majority, as the President of the 75th UN General Assembly," Bozkir said on Twitter. "As we mark the 75th anniversary of the UN, I will guide the efforts to contribute to international peace, in the challenging times we live in."

Bozkir is currently a Justice and Development (AK) Party lawmaker from Istanbul and head of the Turkish Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee.

Full report at:


Venezuela welcomes Turkish diplomat's UNGA presidency

Beyza Binnur Dönmez


Venezuela has welcomed the election of former Turkish Ambassador Volkan Bozkir as the UN General Assembly president ahead of the historic 75th General Debate in September.

"We congratulate Ambassador Volkan Bozkir @volkan_bozkir of Turkey, elected to preside over the historic 75th Session of the UN General Assembly," Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza tweeted late Wednesday.

"We are certain that it will keep the Assembly running smoothly and further strengthen collective decisions," Arreaza added.

He also congratulated the new Non-Permanent Member States of the Security Council, India, Mexico, Norway and Ireland, while retweeting a post saying that Canada lost the election bid to be a member of the UN Security Council.

Venezuela's Vice-Minister for North American Relations Carlos Ron said the addition of new members met the expectations of "an independent voice".

"Not surprised with UN Security Council election results today," Ron said on Twitter. "A subservient foreign policy may win you Trump’s favor, but the peoples of the world expect an independent voice that will stand for diplomacy, respect for self-determination, and peace."

In a secret ballot vote, Bozkir, who was unopposed for the post, received 178 ballots in support as 11 nations abstained on Wednesday.

"I am thankful to all UN member states, for electing me with an overwhelming majority, as the President of the 75th UN General Assembly," Bozkir said on Twitter. "As we mark the 75th anniversary of the UN, I will guide the efforts to contribute to international peace, in the challenging times we live in."

Bozkir is currently a Justice and Development (AK) Party lawmaker from Istanbul and head of the Turkish Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee.

Full report at:




France arrests 6 Chechens in raids after successive nights of violence

June 18, 2020

DIJON: French security forces on Thursday detained five members of the Chechen community on suspicion of taking part in successive nights of violence that rocked the eastern city of Dijon.

Police carried out early morning raids at six addresses across France, with the arrests made in Dijon and Besançon, 90km away.

Five people were held, said a source close to the inquiry, asking not to be named. They are suspected of taking part in the unrest but their precise roles have yet to be made clear.

From Friday to Monday, Dijon was rocked by successive nights of violence after an assault this month on a 16-year-old Chechen boy that prompted other members of the community to stage reprisal raids.

Chechens had reportedly travelled to Dijon from all over France and even from neighbouring Belgium and Germany to take part.

The violence focused on the low-income district of Gresilles, which has a large community of people originally from North Africa.

Criticised for not taking action sooner, the French authorities vowed a tough response and sent police reinforcements, and the past two nights have been calm.

Chechnya is a predominantly Muslim Russian republic in the North Caucasus. Two wars in the 1990s triggered a wave of emigration, with many Chechens heading for western Europe.

More Chechens have flowed into exile in recent years because of opposition to the strongman pro-Kremlin leader of the region Ramzan Kadyrov, accused by rights activists of multiple violations.

There are no precise figures on the number of Chechens living in France as they are included with other Russian passport holders.

As well as in eastern France, there are communities in Paris and around the southern Mediterranean city of Nice.


Man, 31, charged with terrorism offences in Hull

17 June 2020

A man has been charged with two counts of encouraging terrorism after a street disturbance in Hull.

Humberside Police were called to Cheadle Close on Saturday to reports of man armed with a knife shouting in the street.

A 31-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of affray and later re-arrested on suspicion of offences under section 41 of the Terrorism Act.

He has been remanded and will appear at Leeds Magistrates' Court on Thursday.

The investigation is being led by Counter Terrorism Policing North East.


Boy, 14, charged with terror attack plot

17 June 2020

A 14-year-old boy has been charged with plotting an "Islamist" terror attack, police have said.

The teenager, from Eastleigh, who cannot be named, faces one count of preparation of terrorist acts.

Hampshire Police, which arrested the boy on 12 June, said it believed the investigation was "isolated". The boy was later re-arrested by counter-terror police.

He is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Thursday.


Rise of German terrorist Hezbollah supporters, members in Lower Saxony


JUNE 18, 2020

The number of Hezbollah members and supporters in the German state of Lower Saxony increased from 150 in 2018 to 160 in 2019, according to a damning new intelligence report released in late May.

The report said that in “Lower Saxony supporters and sympathizers of Hezbollah are organized in several associations that have specified the care and dissemination of Lebanese culture and the practice of their religion as their purpose and goal in statutes.”

The report said that Hezbollah associations are located in Hanover, the capital of Lower Saxony, the city of Osnabrück and the town Uelzen. Hezbollah members and supporters are also located in South Lower Saxony.

The report added that Hezbollah “activities can also be observed in the area around Bremen in Lower Saxony.” The German Interior Ministry declared Hezbollah a terrorist movement in late April and banned all Hezbollah activity in Germany.

The intelligence document said that “the Lebanese Shi’ite organization Hezbollah (Party of God) uses terrorist means to fight the State of Israel, but also directs its propaganda against Western institutions.”

It is unclear if the German authorities plan to take legal action against the Lebanese Shi’ite Hezbollah members and supporters in Lower Saxony and their mosques and associations. The report did not provide reasons for the increase in Hezbollah members and supporters in Lower Saxony.

The intelligence report said “the associations are mainly financed by membership fees and fundraisers. The connection to Hezbollah is made by officials who come from Lebanon again and again on… occasions such as… the anniversary of the withdrawal of the Israeli army from southern Lebanon or on high Muslim holidays.”

According to the intelligence document, “in Lower Saxony, members of various associations also visit the same mosques. Regardless of a certain sympathy in parts of the Shi’ite Lebanese living here for the political and ideological goals of Hezbollah.” The state of Lower Saxony has a population of nearly 8 million.

The report noted that the Islamic Republic of Iran backs Hezbollah with funds.

“The model for Hezbollah is the revolutionary Iran,” wrote the intelligence officials.

According to various German intelligence reports, there are 1,050 Hezbollah members and supporters in the federal republic.

The Lower Saxony intelligence agency wrote that Hezbollah seeks to propagate a radical system of Islamic law (Sharia) against the liberal, democratic social and political order, adding that "the mobilization potential of Hezbollah in Germany should not be underestimated.”

Hezbollah members and supporters from Lower Saxony have participated in the annual al-Quds rally in Berlin last year that calls for the destruction of the Jewish state, according to the report.

Full report at:


EU congratulates Turkey’s Volkan Bozkir on UNGA helm

Agnes Szucs  



The European Union Thursday congratulated Volkan Bozkir on his election as the 75th president of the UN General Assembly.

The EU foreign policy chief issued a statement to greet the election of the Turkish diplomat and the five new non-permanent members of the UN Security Council.

“With these elections comes responsibility. The European Union looks forward to working with all to address global challenges in these uncertain times and to support international peace and security,” Josep Borrell wrote.

Bozkir is the first Turkish national to head the General Assembly. He will take office in September and hold the post for one year.

He is currently a ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party lawmaker from Istanbul and the head of parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee.

He was elected to the Turkish legislature in 2011 following nearly 40 years in the foreign service that included posts in Germany, New York, Baghdad, and Romania.

In the 2000s, he was Turkey’s ambassador to the EU and worked as a deputy secretary-general and secretary-general for EU affairs in the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Bozkir also served as Turkey’s minister for EU Affairs and chief negotiator for EU accession between 2014 and 2016.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan formally declared Bozkir’s candidacy in his address to the UN General Assembly last September.

The General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the UN.

Full report at:




Another provincial minister dies due to coronavirus in Pakistan

18 JUNE 2020

Islamabad, Jun 18 (PTI) A provincial minister died due to the coronavirus on Thursday, a week after he was diagnosed with COVID-19, becoming the latest political figure in Pakistan to succumb to the deadly disease.

Janbaz Khan, Minister for Agriculture in Gilgit-Baltistan, had been on a ventilator for four days, a doctor at Gilgit''s city hospital - where the 64-year-old minister was admitted - was quoted as saying by the Express Tribune.

"He had a heart related disease, besides diabetes,” said the doctor, who is also treating Malik Miskeen, another senior politician from Diamer district.

Khan, who was five-time lawmaker, was the founding member of the Pakistan Muslim League in the region.

The minister is survived by two wives, five sons and four daughters.

So far five lawmakers, including two provincial ministers, have died in Pakistan due to the coronavirus which has infected several top politicians including former prime ministers Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Yusuf Raza Gilani.

Earlier this month, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Member of Punjab Assembly Shaukat Manzoor Cheema and Sindh Human Settlement Minister Ghulam Murtaza Baloch died to the novel coronavirus.

A provincial assembly member from Khyber-Pakhutnkhwa, Munir Orakzai, died on June 2, days after he had recovered from the virus.

Pakistan''s Information Technology and Telecommunications Minister Syed Aminul Haq was tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday.

On Monday, Sindh''s Minister For Women Development Syeda Shehla Raza was tested positive for the coronavirus.

Pakistan''s coronavirus death toll crossed 3,000 with 118 more patients succumbing to the disease in the last 24 hours, while the total number of infections surpassed the 1,60,000-mark, the health ministry said on Thursday. PTI ZH ZH ZH


Justice Isa has nothing to do with UK assets, wife tells SC

Nasir Iqbal

June 19, 2020

ISLAMABAD: A teary-eyed Mrs Justice Qazi Faez Isa on Thursday presented before the Supreme Court the evidence of funds used to purchase the three offshore properties whose money trail is a key to a presidential reference filed against her husband.

“We are quite satisfied that you have the material in support of the source (of money) for the properties,” observed Justice Umar Ata Bandial after the recording of her statement.

During the recording of her statement, Mrs Isa broke down several times and spoke in a choked voice while showing her documents.

“You have a strong answer to the slur caused by the allegations,” said Justice Bandial, who was heading a ten-judge full bench that was hearing a set of pleas that challenged a presidential reference against Justice Isa.

“We are impressed by your bravery and courage,” said Justice Bandial, who had in the morning allowed Mrs Isa to get her statement recorded after her husband had appeared on Wednesday before the court as her emissary to convey that she was willing to explain her position vis-à-vis the three properties.

Consequently, arrangements were made so that Mrs Isa, who remained at her residence, was hooked up via video link to Courtroom No 1 where the judges, the counsel and other people listened to her in complete silence.

In her statement before a visibly disturbed full court, Zarina Montessarat Carrera Khoso tried to establish that Justice Isa had nothing to do with the London properties, which became the basis of the presidential reference against her husband.

She began by conceding that she was nervous but added that whatever she was stating was correct.

She said her husband had suggested that she should not get involved (in the matter) because the reference was about him, but added that she wanted to clear her name as well as that of her family.

She then showed her birth certificate, which carried her maiden name. She said people made fun of her name for being `Cerina’, saying in Spanish Zarina was spelt as ‘Cerina’.

That name was also registered in her passport, to which she was entitled for having a Spanish mother, she said.

She also showed multiple entry visas granted to her by the Pakistan government on her passports when her husband had not become a judge of the Balochistan High Court, but pointed out that on Jan 8, 2020 the government issued a one-year multiple entry visa.

She lamented that she was being harassed and accused of misusing the office of her husband. “I would be better off had my husband not been a judge throughout....” She said she should be treated like an ordinary woman.

Because the land authorities in the UK accepted passport as a valid document, therefore the said properties were purchased with the name as mentioned in the passport, Mrs Isa said.

Explaining how she earned the money required, she said she used to teach at the prestigious Karachi American School before she got married. At the school, tax was also deducted from her salary, which included additional benefits like house rent, conveyance allowance, etc though she did not need to pay rent.

Her tax adviser Rehan Hassan Naqvi used to pay the tax returns on her behalf, she said. While showing copies of her tax returns, she said it took her a long time to get the documents. The Pakistan government had provided her with a tax certificate for paying the taxes.

She also deplored that her regional tax officer had been changed from Karachi to Islamabad without her knowledge and although she went to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) twice she was never asked about the source of funds for the properties.

In Karachi, she said, she owned an office, which was shared with another lady and which was later sold. This was disclosed in the annual income tax returns.

Similarly, another property in Clifton, Karachi, was sold on which tax was also paid, she said. A third property in Shah Latif Town in Karachi was encroached upon.

In addition to the properties in Karachi, she had vast agricultural lands in Jacobabad, Sindh, and Dera Murad Jamali, Balochistan, she said.

Mrs Isa spent considerable time in reading out the Khasra number of each piece of land.

“I don’t want to make a wrong statement but I believe tax must have been paid,” she said adding that she was advised by her tax adviser to open foreign bank accounts since the government was encouraging it and this was legal too.

“I relied on the advice of the adviser who also stated that there was no need to mention anything about the agricultural lands if foreign exchange account was used,” she said.

“The two foreign currency accounts bear a Karachi address,” she said while holding some papers before the camera but requesting that this not be shared with the government because she didn’t “trust them”.

She said she bought the properties between 2003 and 2013 and transferred a total of 700,000 pounds through the Standard Chartered Bank; the money was transferred in her own name. “The bank reports every transaction to the State Bank of Pakistan,” she stated.

The first property was purchased in her name in 2004 for 236,000 pounds, the second one in 2013 in her and her son’s name for 245,000 pounds, and the third one in her and daughter’s name for 270,000 pounds.

“All these accounts are in my name and not my husband’s name and if you add up the value of the properties which was being claimed (to be in) millions is equivalent to a one-kanal house either in Karachi or Islamabad,” she said.

The lawyer hired for the purchase and transfer of funds was of her choice and not that of her husband, she said, adding that different taxes and service charges were paid to the government, all in her name. “I have been billed and paying them still,” she said.

When she stopped working in the school, she was told by her adviser that she did not need to pay tax. Later the law changed and she started filing returns, she said while explaining that she was disclosing the properties because the law had changed and now there was a requirement to disclose everything.

She stated that she had been filing income tax returns for the properties both in Pakistan and the UK and the British authorities had even refunded some of the tax money. She wondered why she had not been asked about the properties during the last 13 months.

Justice Bandial, however, observed that the court could not resolve the dispute; therefore she should approach either the tax authorities or the Supreme Judicial Council, which could give her a sympathetic hearing.

He said she should go to the FBR, adding that “being a judge we are answerable for our actions both in public and private life”. “We could have given you an in-camera hearing, but decided to hear (you) in open court.”

The court also asked government’s counsel Farogh Nasim to furnish the reply of FBR in a sealed envelope about Mrs Isa’s complaint that she had disclosed the properties in her tax returns for 2018-2019 but the FBR had still issued a notice to her.

Muneer A. Malik, the counsel for Justice Isa, praised his wife and said she was far more articulate than he himself was, as she had presented her case in a good way.

Full report at:


Gwadar port contract is ‘confidential’, federal secretary informs Senate panel

Mubarak Zeb Khan

June 19, 2020

ISLAMABAD: A Senate panel on Thursday was taken aback when a federal secretary declared that the contract governing affairs of the Gwadar port was “confidential” and its details could not be disclosed publicly.

The Senate standing committee on finance led by Senator Farooq Hamid Naek on Wednesday had asked federal Secretary of Maritime Affairs Rizwan Ahmed to share copies of contracts and related documents on award of contracts and sub-contracts regarding Gwadar free zone.

Mr Rizwan replied that the documents could not be shared with the Senate committee chairman and read out one paragraph from the agreement which says the contents of the agreement will be kept confidential.

The issue has been under discussion at the standing committee for the last three days in the wake of the government’s inclusion of tax concession ordinance in the finance bill 2020. The bill has expired after a one-time extension.

Copies of agreement will be given to committee during in-camera meeting on Tuesday and then taken back

Senators Dr Musadik Malik, Ayesha Raza, Talha Mehmood and Ateeq Shaikh expressed their anger and displeasure when the secretary said that copies of the contracts could not be shared even with legislatures.

To pacify the senators, the committee chairman suggested having an in-camera meeting in which copies of the documents would be shared for one hour and then recollected.

Senator Ateeq told the secretary that he could not dictate to a senator. Mr Rizwan replied that he was informing the chairman of the committee.

Finally, the secretary agreed that he would share copies of the contracts with the committee members on Tuesday. “The copy will be shared at 10am before the start of an in-camera meeting at 11am,” the secretary said, adding that the copies would be recollected soon after the meeting.

On the website of the ministry of maritime affairs, Mr Rizwan has mentioned in his profile one of his major achievement as the federal secretary as being ‘the main facilitator in resolving the matter of granting tax exemption to the China Overseas Ports Holding Company to facilitate the establishment of its industrial units at Gwadar Port, an issue pending since seven years prior to his appointment”.

The government had signed a contract over Gwadar port with a Singaporean company in 2006, which was later given to the Chinese company in 2013. The need for the sharing of copies of the contracts was felt when contradictory statements came from the maritime ministry.

“We just want to review these contracts to confirm whether these exemptions can be allowed for 40 years,” Senator Naek said.

The secretary informed the committee that the copies of the contracts had never been shared with the legislature in the past.

The committee members also showed displeasure over the list of contractors and sub-contractors. Mr Rizwan responded by saying that the government had no role in the award of the contracts to contractors and sub-contractor. “I have requested the relevant authorities to provide me the list of the contracts,” he said, adding that after receiving the documents he would share them with the committee.

The secretary said that he would request the relevant authorities for further confirmation of the list of contractors and sub-contractors. Senator Naek said that this list should be shared with the members with all details. Senator Musadik said that the committee would like to know who the contractors were for considering tax exemptions.

Senator Mohammad Ikram said that he was not expecting that huge tax exemptions would translate into development of Balochistan. He said the Singaporean company had carried out no development activities in the area.

Secretary Rizwan explained how efforts were made to convince the Federal Board of Revenue to allow the tax exemptions. He said that some parts of the concessions had already been notified through the finance bill of 2016.

On repeated questions, the secretary said that there were other contracts as well which were confidential like the one of the Karachi Electric Supply Company. Senators Mohsin Aziz and Zeeshan Khanzada supported the views of the secretary.

At the outset of the committee meeting, its chairman read out a brief statement in which he said that the committee supported Gwadar port and linked China Pakistan Economic Corridor projects. He said that the committee was a supporter of the previous governments’ commitments and the one made by the incumbent government.

Full report at:


Uzair Baloch was convicted by military court in April for spying, ATC told

Naeem Sahoutara

June 19, 2020

KARACHI: Prison authorities have disclosed that a military court had sentenced Uzair Jan Baloch — the alleged Lyari gang warfare kingpin — to 12 years rigorous imprisonment in April this year after convicting him of spying for foreign countries.

The senior superintendent of the Karachi Central Prison has disclosed this in his reply to a production order issued by the Anti-Terrorism Court-VI (ATC-VI), where Uzair Baloch is facing trial in cases pertaining to murder and other crimes.

“The prisoner in question [Uzair] was convicted by the Lieutenant Colonel Commanding Officer 1st (Self Propelled) Medium Regiment Artillery on 04.04.2020 in Pakistan Army Act Section 59 (civil offences) read with Section 3 (penalties for spying) of the Official Secret Act and sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for 12 years,” stated the letter dated June 13, 2020, a copy of which is available with Dawn.

The prison official has further stated that the prisoner [Uzair] is allegedly involved in 59 other cases which are pending trial before different courts of law.

Therefore, the court is requested to direct the court police to provide “very, very strong police escort” headed by a senior police officer with foolproof security arrangements and an armoured personnel carrier (APC) for shifting the prisoner to the ATC-VI, located in the judicial complex inside the central prison, from the Mitha Ram hostel sub-jail of Rangers, according to the letter.

Recently, the custody of Uzair Jan Baloch — who was heading the now outlawed Peoples Amn Committee before his arrest — was recently shifted from the central prison to the sub-jail due to security reasons.

The paramilitary Rangers and police were instructed by the provincial home department to take all possible measures to avert any chance of criminal act or threat to the inmate and the staff posted with him at the sub-jail.

Rangers had announced the arrest of Uzair Baloch in a raid on the outskirts of Karachi in January 2016.

Later, a joint investigation team (JIT), formed to hold a probe into allegations against him had concluded that he was involved in spying and providing secret information about sensitive installations to Iranian intelligence officers.

The army had taken custody of Baloch from the Karachi Central Prison on April 2017 to try him on the charges of espionage and leak of sensitive information to foreign intelligence agencies, according to a statement issued by the Inter Services Public Relations.

Full report at:


Four JuD leaders convicted in terror finance case

Wajih Ahmad Sheikh

June 19, 2020

LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court on Thursday convicted four leaders of Jamatud Dawa (JuD) in one of the terror financing cases registered against the organisation by the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) in different cities of Punjab.

ATC-III Presiding Judge Ijaz Ahmad Buttar convicted Malik Zafar Iqbal and Muhammad Yahya Aziz under section 11-N, read with 11-I(2) (b) of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 and handed them down five-year rigorous imprisonment each with a fine of Rs50,000.

The judge also sentenced Abdul Rehman Makki and Abdul Salam to one-year imprisonment each under section 11-F (6) of the ATA with Rs20,000 fine.

The CTD had in 2019 registered the FIR against the convicts and others under sections 11-F (2)(5)(6), 11-H(2), H-I, 11-I, 11-N, and J-2 of the ATA 1997.

Initially the trial was held before Sahiwal ATC, however, it was later shifted to Lahore following an order passed by the Lahore High Court on the request of the convicts. The CTD had registered total 23 FIRs against the JuD.

The prosecution alleged that the convicts, being office-bearers of proscribed Al-Anfaal Trust, had possessed property measuring one kanal and three marlas in Okara for the purpose of terrorism and to support terrorist activities. A seminary namely “Madressah Jamia Sataria” was constructed on the said land.

To the extent of section 11-H of the ATA, the judge observed in the decision that the provision dealt with fundraising and the investigating officer categorically maintained that he had not collected any evidence to substantiate the fact of fundraising. “So prosecution has failed to prove charge u/s 11-H of ATA 1997,” the judge said.

He also observed that the convicts admitted that they were members of the proscribed organisation prior to its proscription, however, denied the hostile activities. He noted that the property in question remained in control and possession of the convicts for the purpose that has reasonable cause to suspect that it was used for the purpose of terrorism.

“There was a strong suspicion that the said property was used or suspected to have been used for the purpose of terror financing,” ruled the judge.

The convicts, through their counsel, had denied the charges, alleging that they had been implicated in the case due to malice and ulterior motives. They said the authorities in the country had turned hostile towards them since long.

They said they were not the office-bearers when the organisation was proscribed by the government.

The judge said in the order that the sentence of the convicts would run concurrently with their previous sentence, if any. He also ordered the government to confiscate the property in question.

Full report at:


MQM-P moves court against ECP notification about delimitation

Ishaq Tanoli

June 19, 2020

KARACHI: The Mutta­hida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan on Thursday approached the Sindh High Court against a notification of the Election Commission of Pakistan constituting committees for delimitation for local government jurisdictions in Sindh.

MQM-P leaders Amir Khan, Kunwar Naveed Jamil and Wasim Akhtar through their counsel challenged the ECP notification and submitted that delimitation exclusively came within the domain of the ECP, but the additional deputy commissioners were included in these committees while the final result of the national census had also not been officially publicised.

The petitioners submitted that on April 13, the provincial election commission addressed a letter to the district election commissioners of Sindh asking them to provide proposals for constituting delimitation committees comprising at least three officers for each district.

They maintained that various district election commissioners replied with names of members for the delimitation committees, adding that while the convener of a committee was a member of the provincial election commission, another member was an additional deputy commissioner of the district.

The petitioners further submitted that before the amendments made in the act of 2013 and the promulgation of the Election Act of 2017, the delimitation committees were composed of one member, additional district commissioner, but the SHC had ordered that the process of delimitation being carried out by such a committee was not transparent and also smacked of political influence and the judgement was upheld by the Supreme Court.

They argued that such a letter/notification was illegal and also submitted that they had recently learnt that in pursuance to this correspondence, the committees constituted had not only initiated the delimitation proceedings but had completed them.

They maintained that the letter dated April 13 and the notification issued on Jan 30, 2020 were illegal and unlawful since the same were ultra vires of the Election Act of 2013 and 2017 as well as the judgements of the superior and higher judiciary.

The petitioners further submitted that the letter was flawed as under Section 17(2) of the Election Act of 2017, the ECP was required to carry out the delimitation after every census officially published, adding that the final result of the census of 2017 was never published.

Impleading the ECP, provincial election commission of Sindh, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics and others as respondents, the petitioners asked the court to declare the April 13 letter and Jan 30 notification as well as the delimitation committees formed for local government jurisdictions in Sindh and for the cantonment boards as illegal.

They also asked the court to declare that in the absence of the official publication of a final census result of the census held in 2017, neither delimitation committees could be formed nor the process of delimitation could be carried out for the local government election.

Full report at:


Sindh information dept to clear payment against 66 newspaper bills

June 19, 2020

KARACHI: In order to clear the dues of different newspapers, the finance department of the Sindh government has allowed further payment against 66 bills amounting to Rs43,410,772, according to a press release.

The statement said the finance department had given permission through a written letter to the Sindh Accountant General, dated June 18, 2020.

The accountant will pay the said amount against the stated bills, which was initially denied by the AG Sindh on account of a 15-minute delay in the submission of the same by the provincial information department, it added.

Information Secretary Muhammad Aslam Ghauri has assigned the task to Information Advertisement director Zulfiqar Ali Shah to finalise the process by submitting the bills so that timely payment may be made by the AG Sindh office to the newspapers, the press release said.


PM for enforcing uniform education curriculum to do away education apartheid

Jun 19, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday stressed the need to enforce the uniform education curriculum in the country, saying that it was the government’s priority to do away with the education apartheid.

During a meeting held to discuss the progress in the education reforms and government’s efforts to advance its education agenda in the wake of Covid-19 situation, the prime minister directed to devise a strategy to address the financial difficulties being faced by the educational institutions and the reservations of parents regarding the payment of fees.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Professional Education and Training Shafqat Mahmood, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Lieutenant General (r) Asim Saleem Bajwa, Punjab Higher Education Minister Raja Yasir humayun, Higher Education Commission Chairman Tariq Binouri and senior officers.

The prime minister was updated on the progress in the enforcement of uniform education curriculum, reforms in seminaries and higher education.

It was told that a uniform curriculum for grades 1 to 5 would be enforced by April 2021 and the consultation with the stakeholders was in progress for designing the curriculum for grades 6 to 8.

The premier was told that around eight million students were benefiting from the Teleschool initiative introduced amidst the closure of educational institutions due to the pandemic. Moreover, an E-Taleem portal would also be launched and the services of Radio Pakistan were being obtained to teach the students living in remote areas, he was informed.

PM Imran called for formulation of a joint strategy in collaboration with the provincial education ministers regarding the future teaching process.

He also directed the ministry concerned to speed up the efforts to enforce the mechanism agreed with the seminaries in order to bring their students in the mainstream by imparting them contemporary education.

He instructed for utilising all available resources to ease out the teaching process particularly in the prevailing situation.

The prime minister was also apprised on the various steps taken to reform the education system with the cooperation from international organisations.

Regarding the issue of the campuses of federal universities in the provinces, the prime minister called for devising a comprehensive strategy to maintain the quality of education without hurting the study process of students at those campuses.

Full report at:


South Asia


Afghan MPs condemn Ghani’s ‘soft’ response to Iran


June 19, 2020

KABUL: President Ashraf Ghani’s government on Thursday came under fire from lawmakers who condemned the “soft” response to the summoning of its envoy by Tehran following a wave of anti-Iranian protests.

The protests in Afghanistan and some Western capitals followed the killing of Afghan migrants in two separate incidents allegedly by Iranian forces.

Tension has increased between the two uneasy neighbors since May 1 when 13 Afghan migrants drowned after they were forced by Iranian forces to cross a river at gunpoint. 

In the second incident, which took place in the Iranian city of Yazd on June 5, three Afghans died after police opened fire on a vehicle that failed to stop for a routine check.

The two incidents sparked protests around Afghanistan and among some Afghan refugees living in the West.

Images of Iranian leaders were set alight, while a group of protesters threw red ink at the entrance of Iran’s Kabul embassy, prompting Tehran to summon the Afghan envoy on June 14.

An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said the republic had warned the Afghan envoy “that such actions, insults and offenses are intolerable.”

The Foreign Ministry in Kabul failed to respond to the summoning of the Afghan envoy, but said the acting foreign minister will travel to Tehran next week for talks.

However, lawmaker Nazifa Zaki told Arab News: “Let us put aside the injustice that Iran has committed to our citizens and subsequent treatment of our ambassador, our government and the diplomatic apparatus here should have reacted and now need to take the blame for the very soft reaction to Iran’s summoning of our envoy and warning him against protests here.”

She added: “The government and our Foreign Ministry’s approach to what Iran has been doing shows their ineptness and weakness.” 

On Wednesday, the Afghan parliament’s international relations committee summoned Foreign Ministry officials and criticized their alleged incompetence and neglect.

“Iran can arrest and deport our nationals when they are caught without papers and documents, but should not kill them and treat our ambassador this way,” Hamidullah Tokhi, another MP, told Arab News.

He said the government was “bogged down in corruption” and “had failed to provide justice for its nationals at home and abroad.”

“The government is weak, and is thinking only how to accumulate money and remain in power,”

he said.

Ghani’s office failed to respond when asked for a comment.

On Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Gran Hewad told Arab News that the ministry has “taken serious, diplomatic and practical measures” following the drowning of migrants.

Political analysts agreed that Kabul’s response had been soft, but said that Ghani’s new government, largely isolated in the region and weaker than his previous one, could not afford to annoy Iran while seeking to finalize a peace deal with the Taliban.

Said Azam said that Afghanistan “was extremely vulnerable to all levels of punitive action” by Iranian authorities.

“Iran has agents and proxy groups who are very strong and influential in all levels of government and society within Afghanistan” he said.

He pointed to the use of hundreds of Shiite Afghans by Iran for its proxy wars in the Middle East in recent years.


Afghans Say Taliban Attacks Kill At Least 17 Military Personnel In Northern Provinces

June 17, 2020

KABUL -- Afghan officials say Taliban fighters have attacked a checkpoint in the northern province of Jawzjan, killing 12 security force members.

Abdul Marouf Azar, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said on June 17 that five others were wounded in the attack that occurred at dawn in the Aqcha district.

The militants have taken four soldiers hostage following the attack, Azar said, adding that the militants also suffered casualties.

"Five Taliban were also killed and 10 others were wounded in the clashes," he said.

The Defense Ministry confirmed the attack and said six of its soldiers were among the dead.

A Taliban spokesman said the group was responsible for the attack, but he said the death toll was higher, though he did not elaborate.

In another northern province, Kunduz, militants attacked an Afghan National Army checkpoint on the outskirts of the provincial capital, Kunduz city, killing five soldiers, according to the provincial police chief, Faqir Muhammad Jawzjani.

At least seven others were wounded in the incident, he added.

Meanwhile, the explosion of a mortar shell in the southeastern province of Ghazni left four children dead, while wounding three others, the provincial governor's spokesman, Arif Noori, said.

The children found the shell in the Deh Yak district and started playing with it when it went off, Noori said.

The government has said that in recent weeks some 422 Afghan personnel have been killed or wounded across the country in at least 220 Taliban attacks.

The Taliban says it remains committed to an agreement they signed with the United States in February.

Full report at:


Rise in violence leaves millions without healthcare in Afghanistan amid pandemic: ICRC

18 June 2020

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has warned that the recent rise in violence in Afghanistan, combined with targeted attacks against healthcare facilities, has prevented access to health services for millions of Afghans.

Juan-Pedro Schaerer, the head of the ICRC delegation in Afghanistan, said on Thursday that the war-ravaged nation more than ever needed health services with the outbreak of the coronavirus.

"The recent trajectory in Afghanistan is of great concern. After the hope brought by a relative reduction in hostilities in February and March, we again see more violence. Civilian casualties are on the rise while the country is battling against COVID-19," Schaerer said. 

"COVID-19 has challenged the world's most advanced nations. A country where gunmen attack a hospital stands no chance at providing quality care. We see it in health facilities in conflict-affected areas and in prisons, where people have already limited access to healthcare," he added.

"We battle a worldwide enemy and need a country-wide agreement on how to address COVID-19," Schaerer said, adding, "As a start, full respect of international humanitarian law by all parties, without exception, is needed to protect civilians in Afghanistan."

The war-raved Asian country has an overstretched health system that is challenged by limited coverage in conflict-affected areas, poor specialized healthcare, and now the outbreak of COVID-19.

The United Nations has recently warned of an alarming uptick in violence against civilians and a “striking deterioration” in upholding international humanitarian law in Afghanistan.

Violent militant raids against health staff or health facilities, such as the deadly assault in May against the Doctors Without Borders (MSF)-operated maternity hospital in Kabul, only exacerbate the situation.

In Afghanistan's ICRC-supported largest hospital, Mirwais Regional Hospital in Kandahar, the staff continue to provide obstetric care and surgery for people wounded in war.

Due to an increase in coronavirus cases, the hospital now operates at a reduced capacity despite the near-usual rates of patients wounded in fighting and child deliveries.

Violence has surged despite a deal between the Taliban and the United States. Official data shows Taliban bombings and other assaults have increased 70 percent since the militant group signed the deal with the United States in February.

Under the agreement, the US will withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, and the Taliban will refrain from attacking international occupying forces. The militants, however, have made no pledge to avoid attacking Afghan forces and civilians.

Full report at:


Mortar shell explosion at school kills 7 students in Afghanistan

18 June 2020

A mortar shell has exploded at a religious school in northern Afghanistan, killing seven students, police say.

The deadly blast occurred in a religious school in the Ishkamish district of Takhar Province on Thursday, when a live mortar shell was mishandled at the site.

“As per initial investigation, the explosion was caused by a mortar that had somehow been carried inside the madrassa,” police spokesman Khalil Asir said, referring to the school.

Provincial governor spokesman Jawad Hejri also confirmed the incident.

No further details were immediately available.

Also, on Wednesday night, a suspected Taliban attack killed at least seven police officers in the east-central province of Baghlan, Afghanistan’s Tolo News television channel quoted an unnamed security source as saying on Thursday.

“The Taliban has also suffered casualties but there is no exact information,” the source added.

The latest attacks come as the government and the Taliban militant group agreed to hold their first high-level meeting in a peace process in Qatar.

The US and its allies invaded Afghanistan in October 2001. While the invasion ended the Taliban’s rule in the country, it failed to eliminate the group.

Full report at:




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