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Islamic World News ( 16 Aug 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Indian American Muslim Council Marked India’s 74th Independence Day with An Online Celebration

New Age Islam News Bureau

16 Aug 2020

• Indian American Muslim Council Marked India’s 74th Independence Day with An Online Celebration

• Shunned by Kin, Fearing Covid Infection, Muslim Friends Cremate a Jain In Gujarat

• Islamist Leaders of Pakistan Concerned About US-Brokered Deal

• Iran's Judiciary Chief Calls for Forming an Int’l Islamic Court

• The Taliban Know Afghanistan's Peace Negotiations End in An Islamic Emirate

• Imam Praises Allah For Coronavirus Cancelling Homosexual Parade in Sarajevo

• Trial Starts For 116 Alleged Muslim Brotherhood Members in Tajikistan


• Indian American Muslim Council Marked India’s 74th Independence Day with An Online Celebration

• Shunned by Kin, Fearing Covid Infection, Muslim Friends Cremate a Jain In Gujarat

• Mosque in Ayodhya likely to be named Masjid Dhannipur

• SDPI, Muslim Community Falsely Blamed for Placing ‘Flag’ Atop Shankaracharya Statue In Sringeri



• Islamist Leaders of Pakistan Concerned About US-Brokered Deal

• Bajwa, Bill Gates discuss Pakistan’s response to Covid-19

• In A First, Pakistan Acknowledges Role of Bengals’ Muslims In Its Creation

• Separate homeland created to preserve Muslim heritage, culture: Shibli

• Chinese team arrives in Rawalpindi tomorrow to study train service for twin cities



• Iran's Judiciary Chief Calls for Forming an Int’l Islamic Court

• Hamas, Islamic Jihad: 'Israel-UAE Must Abolish Shameful Deal

• Islamist firebrand preacher Raed Salah begins prison term for inciting terror

• Deputy Speaker of Lebanese Shia Islamic Assembly: We oppose any normalization of relations with Zionist regime

• 6th Islamic Human Rights awards presented


South Asia

• The Taliban Know Afghanistan's Peace Negotiations End in An Islamic Emirate

• Putin’s initiative on issues around Iran welcomed by China

• Herat Grand Mosque to be Included in World Cultural Heritage List

• Afghan forces kill 4 Taliban militants while repulsing a Taliban attack in Ghazni

• France asks Kabul not to release Taliban prisoners convicted of killing French citizens

• NAI: Intra-Afghan dialogue must be conducted in the presence of media



• Imam Praises Allah For Coronavirus Cancelling Homosexual Parade in Sarajevo

• Nigeria Cannot Survive A Religious War — A Former Senator Representing Kaduna West

• Algeria turns to Islamic finance to prop up economy

• Nasarawa battling its own Islamic sects, says Gov Sule



• Trial Starts For 116 Alleged Muslim Brotherhood Members in Tajikistan

• Mark of Toledo's Latin Translation of the Qur'an in the Thirteenth Century

• Demonstration held in Lyon in support of Muslims after Arson attack


North America

• Radical Islamic Cleric, Abdullah Al-Faisal, Accused of Recruiting for ISIS Extradited to NYC On Terrorism Charges

• CAIR-NY Calls for Hate Crimes Probe and Commission on Human Rights to Raise Awareness • on Islamophobia After Muslim Teenager Targeted in Islamophobic Incident


Arab world

• Dubai Launches First Digital Hijri Islamic Year Calendar

• Abu Dhabi Mosque Wins Top Global Architectural Award

• UAE position on Palestine in line with Arab consensus, says diplomat

• Young Saudis are ‘choosing self-sufficiency over settling down’

• Students in Saudi Arabia to continue remote learning in September


Southeast Asia

• Pantas Initiated by Previous Govt, Hajiji Reminds Shafie

• 'Impossible at the moment': Tourism ministry official on govt 'work from Bali' plans

• All COVID-19 patients in W. Java military academy have recovered: TNI

• Sabahans rightful owners of land

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Indian American Muslim Council marked India’s 74th Independence Day With An Online Celebration

August 15, 2020



The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, marked India’s 74th Independence Day on Saturday, August 15, 2020, with an online celebration featuring Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), as the keynote speaker and prominent human rights activists from India and the US.

The online event titled, “Solidarity in Times of COVID-19,” intended to celebrate India’s Independence Day was marked with high energy and rousing speeches punctuated with resolutions and pledges to uphold India’s pluralistic democracy. A virtual flag hoisting ceremony was held at the start of the online event. Besides US Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, guest speakers included Mr. Harsh Mandar (noted human rights activist), Mr. Anil Wagde (Ambedkar International Center), Mr. Raju Rajagopal (Hindus for Human Rights), Ms Sujatha Ramni (Coalition of Seattle Indian-Americans), Ms. Ladeeda Farzana and  Ms. Ayesha Renna (Jamia Millia Islamia), and Mr. Ahsan Khan, President of IAMC.  Emceed by IAMC Youth leader, Ms. Aminah Ahmed, the event drew attendees from around the world.

IAMC also marked the occasion of India's Independence Day with an essay and video contest on topics relating to pluralism, democracy and religious freedom in India. Winners of respective contests can be found here

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the first South Asian American woman to be elected to the US House of Representatives called for India's Independence Day to be "a time to reaffirm the democratic, pluralistic principles on which our countries were founded." Bemoaning that "hate crimes are threatening Muslims in India", she took pride in “speaking out for the rights of minorities in India" since she took office.

"I also spoke out against Prime Minister Modi's Citizenship Law that excludes Muslim migrants from a new pathway to citizenship, an unprecedented break from India's secular constitution," Rep. Jayapal said. "Taken together with the National Register of Citizens, I fear that this citizenship law could be used to prevent Muslim migrants from becoming citizens and voting," she added. Her keynote address was noteworthy for many reasons, including her words of inspiration and resolve. "If there is anything I have found as an immigrant, advocate and woman of color, it is that nothing is stronger than committed and passionate people working together to do good and deliver justice….I will not stop fighting for justice for Muslims here and in India and I know you won’t either.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal's remarks during IAMC's celebration of India's Independence Day.

Mr. Harsh Mander, a noted Indian human rights activist, delivered a passionate speech on the ideals of Gandhi and the principles of non-violence that marked India’s freedom struggle. Mr. Mander urged that the “idea of India that was promised in the leadership of Gandhi belongs equally to people of every faith and emphasized that India was envisioned as a country where no one would be discriminated against, regardless of their caste, religion, gender, wealth or language.”

In response to mob lynchings around the country, Mr. Mander headed an initiative called “Karwan-e-Mohabbat”or “Caravan of Love,” that included visits to families of those who were lynched. “I said we would go to every home where anyone has been lynched in this country, like we would go to our loved ones and say, ‘we want you to know you are not alone. There are many people who care and stand with you in this moment of your pain. We seek forgiveness for  what we have become as a country. We will stand with you in your battle of your justice and tell your stories.’” Mr. Mander said.

Ms. Sujatha Ramni, coordinator of the Coalition of Seattle Indian-Americans, emphasized that "American and Indian societies are each other’s analogues. While democracies are set in constitutions, we are very much a work in progress. Liberty, Equality and Fraternity are goals we still have to achieve.  It is a promise that we must dedicate and commit ourselves to do every day."

Mr. Anil Wagde, representing Ambedkar International Center, spoke of struggles of Dalits and minorities, and remarked, “the government has indeed left things “Ram Bharose” (in the hands of Ram). We need a government that is responsive to people’s needs and aspirations and not one that manages the headlines. We need a government that is interested in hospitals and not temples.”

Two dynamic women activists who became iconic faces of the CAA/NRC protests, Ms. Ladeeda Farzana and Ms.Aysha Renna, also spoke passionately at this event.

Ms. Ladeeda Farzana said, "As a student I believe that, as much as we celebrate independence, the idea of freedom must always be appraised critically. If we can't critique an idea that we celebrate then we can't evolve into a better democracy. If we cannot critique, we will find ourselves shrinking into existence, there is no growth there. That is the problem we face today; we don't have the right to dissent anymore. Any semblance of dissent or critique instantly makes one an anti-national or a traitor."

Ms. Aysha Renna said, “August 15 is a special day for all of us. As Indians, we have loved it ever since as a child, flag hoisting, rallies, sweets. Growing up, I realized how fearlessly our forefathers fought for the freedom that we are enjoying.” Mr. Renna however bemoaned the fact that the “country today is not what the freedom fighters had fought for,”  and that Indian Muslims are told “to prove their patriotism, prove their love towards their country.” “The irony is that the people who are questioning the patriotism of Indian Muslims are those who had little to no role in the actual freedom struggle itself!” Ms. Renna said in her speech.

Mr. Raju Rajagopal from Hindus for Human Rights, made an earnest plea to the attendees to make themselves part of “India’s Second Struggle for Independence.” “Do your bit to achieve ‘Independence’ from communal hatred; ‘Independence’ from ultra-nationalism that views some Indians as more equal than others; ‘Independence’ from corruption that is eating away our souls; and ‘Independence’ from caste discrimination that continue to haunt us decades after the most egalitarian constitution was adopted,” Mr. Rajagopal said.

Ahsan Khan, President of IAMC reminded the audience to “not forget that India is battling a rising tide of casteism, communalism, discrimination against minorities and women, and economic and social inequalities – these are threats just as potent as the virus and threaten to annihilate all the progress we have made in the years since Independence." Mr. Khan also exhorted all Indians "to come together in our shared struggle against casteism and discrimination that divides us to build a more inclusive, pluralistic and tolerant India, and be guided by the wisdom of Mahatma Gandhi, who said, ‘for me the different religions and races are beautiful flowers from the same garden, or they are branches from the same majestic tree.’”

This year’s Independence Day celebrations continue in a tradition IAMC has established over the last 18 years of celebrating India’s founding principles and the Indian constitution’s fundamental emphasis on pluralism and equality before the law for people of all faiths.


Shunned by Kin, Fearing Covid Infection, Muslim Friends Cremate a Jain In Gujarat

Aug 15, 2020

  “These are my true relatives and I won’t forget their obligation ever,” asserted a son, who was helped by his deceased father’s friends in performing the last rites, while all relatives stayed away fearing Covid infection.


 RAJKOT: “These are my true relatives and I won’t forget their obligation ever,” asserted a son, who was helped by his deceased father’s friends in performing the last rites, while all relatives stayed away fearing Covid infection.

Five Muslims and one Hindu performed the last rites of their departed friend, 56-year-old Milan Bagadiya, a Jain in Botad — from bathing the body to adorning and carrying it on the bier on their shoulders to the crematorium — passing the test of three decades of friendship with flying colours besides creating a beautiful scene of brotherhood and amity on Thursday.

Jain’s 24-year-old son, Nikunj, an accountant by profession working in Bhavnagar was at his wit’s end when the immediate family members declined to come forward for the rituals suspecting the death to be from Covid-19. Bagadiya had been suffering from cold and fever for three days and died on Thursday morning at his home before he could be taken to the hospital. Besides his son, Bagadiya leaves behind his 50-year-old wife and a 21-year-old daughter.

Talking to TOI, Nikunj said “I informed my relatives but they showed reluctance in participating in the last rites suspecting coronavirus. I never felt so alone and desolate. However, the president of Botad marketing yard, Anil Seth, and five of his other close Muslim friends didn’t let us despair. They helped us more than any family member can ever do.”

Bagadiya was a commission agent in Botad marketing yard, his partners in business Tousif Sidatar rescued the family when along with him Mohammad Variaya, Abdul Arabiyani, Ashraf Arabiyani, and Bashrat Sidatar came forward to do all the needful. They reached Bagadiya’s home in the morning and with the permission of his son, started the rituals.

Tousif told TOI: “We were not aware of the rituals and so asked his relatives to guide us. Bagadiya was our friend and partner in business for the past 35 years. How can we abandon him in his last journey and forget the bond we shared for more than three decades?”


Islamist Leaders of Pakistan Concerned About US-Brokered Deal

Asim Hussain

August 15, 2020


Jamaat Islami Ameer Senator Sirajul Haq


LAHORE: Islamist leaders have shown concern over a US-brokered deal between the UAE and Israel, warning that it amounts to officially relinquishing Muslims’ right over Palestine lands and Al-Aqsa Mosque in violation of nearly a century old stance, and disregarding the blood of tens of thousands of Muslim martyrs.

The religious leaders warned that legitimising Zionist occupation of the first Qibla of Muslims would not only open the doors of devastation for the Muslim world.

Jamaat Islami Ameer Senator Sirajul Haq said US President Trump had pressurised and trapped the UAE into acknowledging Israel under a deal for not further annexing Arab lands in occupied Palestinian territories in West Bank. He said Trump’s Republican Party had reached the ebb of his popularity and he wanted to win the coming polls this year at all costs by coaxing the Zionist lobby by this conspiracy against the Arabs.

Sirajul Haq lamented that despite sticking to the principled Arab stance for over 70 years, the UAE became the third country after Egypt and Jordan to acknowledge Israel and its occupation of Palestine.

He also demanded the government to call an urgent OIC meeting to ask the UAE to revoke the deal and severe ties with Israel for the sake of unity and honour of Muslim Ummah. He warned that love of Al-Aqsa Mosque and Palestine, the land of prophets, was part of Muslim faith and they would never give up those sacred places over enemy conspiracies.

Jamiat Ulema Pakistan (JUP) Vice-President Qari Zawwar Bahadur said the deal was a stab in the back of the Muslim Ummah.

Talking to The News, he warned that the Muslim Ummah would never accept this deal and it would create deep divisions, chaos and unrest among the Muslim world. Majlis-e-Ahrar Secretary General Abdul Latif Khalid Cheema said the UAE deal with Israel would prove disastrous for the unity and stability of the Arab world.


Iran's Judiciary chief calls for forming an int’l Islamic court

Aug 15, 2020

Tehran, August 15, IRNA – Iran’s Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raeisi on Saturday urged the necessity for forming an international Islamic court.

Speaking during a ceremony in the Iranian capital to mark the World Islamic Human Rights Day, Raeisi said that the declaration of human rights concluded between Muslim countries need to have a remedy.

“In our view, human rights are based on religion and religious values,” the Judiciary chief said.

He added that those who support economic terrorism and make it difficult for the people to live have to stand trial at a fair international court.

He also touched upon the normalizing of relations between the UAE government and the Zionist regime, saying, “we do not regard the connection between the UAE and Israel as one made by the UAE people but as a connection made by unaware rulers of that country".


The Taliban Know Afghanistan's Peace Negotiations End In An Islamic Emirate

August 15, 2020

by Marvin G. Weinbaum

Astrong dose of realism is overdue for an Afghan people and international community visibly exhausted by years of conflict and yearning for a political settlement. Efforts to achieve a negotiated peace with the Taliban have for too long survived on wishful thinking. The faintest progress is often applauded as the harbinger of a breakthrough. Reasonable skepticism is frequently brushed aside with comments like “what is there to lose when the only alternative is endless fighting?” Hardline Taliban demands are dismissed as only opening negotiating positions, and their triumphant statements are excused as simply leadership bravado. To keep the peace process on track, the threshold for Taliban violence is never crossed.

As the delegations prepare for the approaching intra-Afghan dialogue in Doha, any optimism has to be tempered. Talks are only the first step in what will be at best a long, tortuous process. There is already a willingness to overlook the many significant, largely unreciprocated concessions it has taken to get the Taliban to the table. The Taliban’s refusal to acknowledge the Afghan government as its principal interlocutor has had to be finessed. It also does not bode well that an ill-prepared, splintered delegation of the Islamic Republic is slated to face a focused, unified team of Taliban negotiators.

Despite familiar diplomatic trappings, negotiations in Doha should not be expected to be transactional. To date, in discussions in various venues, Taliban representatives have yet to reveal flexibility on any issues of significance. During the negotiations with the United States leading to the February 29 agreement, the Taliban delegates found that by standing firm they could push the Americans to yield on virtually all key points. So too, in seeking a ceasefire and agreeing on a prisoner exchange it has been the Ghani government that has offered the compromises. Even those Taliban leaders seemingly pragmatic in their receptivity to dialogue have in the end proven unmoveable.

The underlying difficulty in trying to advance a peace process lies not in an absence of trust or the work of spoilers but from there being two vastly dissimilar, competing visions of an Afghan end-state. The clash is not so much a power struggle as a collision of values, the kind of conflict that history has shown ends not with compromise but inevitably with one side dictating the outcome. However, while peace will eventually come in Afghanistan, a grand bargain reached around a table is highly doubtful.

At its core the Afghan conflict is an existential struggle between those for whom government derives its legitimacy from the will of the people and those who believe it issues from adherence to divine mandate. One vision is of a liberal democratic system of accountable elected leaders, constitutionally protected rights, and the preservation of social and economic gains realized since 2001. In return for agreeing to this political order, the Taliban insurgency would receive constitutional changes elevating the Islamic character of the state and a share of political power secured by becoming a political party and contesting for election to executive and legislative offices.

The other vision rejects these institutions as Western implants and believes that only a righteous regime is able to discern what is in the people’s interest. Taliban leaders at times shy away from openly declaring as their aim the restoration of their lost Islamic emirate, but they have never denied it is their ultimate goal. The Taliban leadership’s ideas on governance may not as yet be fully formed but, despite an expressed readiness to share power, ultimate authority in their system would almost certainly be vested in a pious individual as emir acting in consultation with an appointed Islamic council. Assurances of more inclusive and tolerant policies than in the past would cover only those Afghans prepared to accept Taliban values.

Having in recent years come to appreciate the difficulty of achieving an outright military victory, certainly while foreign forces remain in the country, the Taliban leadership has recognized that diplomacy provides a parallel route to an emirate. At present, the Taliban’s political and military strategies are working in tandem, one complementing the other. While peace prospects offer an opportunity to weaken the resolve of Afghan security forces to fight, Taliban gains in tightening its grip around the nation’s urban centers have strengthened its hand in any negotiations. And this has already paid off handsomely. From the U.S. and the Kabul government, Taliban diplomacy has succeeded in attaining a long-sought withdrawal of foreign forces, gained previously unimaginable international legitimacy, and secured the release of thousands of government-held prisoners.

The Taliban’s goal is political dominance, whether through negotiating an interim arrangement or by waiting for a correlation of military and political forces to bring down the Afghan state. Yet in all probability the Taliban would soon find great difficulty consolidating power. Afghanistan is unlikely to replay the 1990s when mujahideen rule steadily gave way to an upstart Taliban movement, and the adversaries were both held together by iconic leaders. The country is now far more fragmented and diverse, with many more powerful actors and their minions competing in what is likely to become a chaotic civil war for the spoils left by a broken state.

The pursuit of an elusive reconciliation with the Taliban has not been cost free. It has diverted the attention of the Afghan government and its international backers from investing in a political approach that could offer the best chance for the survival of Afghanistan as a modern Islamic republic. Instead of reconciliation, this approach involves a process of reintegration based on creating the incentives for gradually winning over Taliban commanders and their foot soldiers to the Afghan state in many local agreements. Progress is conditioned on the government’s gains in reestablishing the confidence of the Afghan public in their leaders and institutions. It requires a rededication to democratic reform and meeting people’s basic needs. Even then, it cannot succeed without a renewed contribution by the international community, and by drawing on the investment in the county’s future of educated Afghan youth. Reintegration may seem at present no more realistic than striking a deal with the Taliban for a comprehensive, lasting peace. But when the veil lifts on the futility of negotiating with the Taliban, a rededication to a progressive Afghanistan may be all that stands in the way of another generation of war.


Imam Praises Allah For Coronavirus Cancelling Homosexual Parade In Sarajevo

AUGUST 16, 2020

“The media informs us that the homosexual parade in Sarajevo has been postponed due to the coronavirus,” Velic, who has close to 75,000 followers, wrote on Facebook.

rtune and tragedy there is also a grain of happiness, goodness and beauty.

“Thank Allah for everything. May dear Allah grant so that the crown and gay parade will never return to our city and country!” he added.

The comments have resulted in widespread public backlash. The spiritual leader of Muslims in Bosnia, The Office Of The Grand Mufti, moved quickly to distance itself from Velic following the comments.

Speaking with Radio Free Europe Muhamed Jusic, an adviser to the Grand Mufti, made it clear that, “This is (Velic’s) personal position and it is not the position of the entire Islamic community”

While the countries record on LGBTQI issues may be poor, with same-sex partnerships still not legally recognised. In April of this year the government of one of Bosnia’s two entities, the Federation, appointed a working group to draft legislation that would regulate the rights of same-sex couples. This year’s Pride March in the country’s capital city Sarajevo was to be the second such event.

Organisers of the event, in a statement released last week said, “We emphasise that we are postponing the march due to the epidemiological situation, but we draw attention to a number of problems that are the reality of the organisation of LGBTQI public events.”

Both LGBTQI individuals and activists have shared in an often violent history of oppression and push back from Bosnian and Herzegovina society, meaning both the cancelation of this year’s Pride March and the comments Muhamed Veli have surely landed as heavy blows.


Trial Starts For 116 Alleged Muslim Brotherhood Members In Tajikistan


The Supreme Court of Tajikistan has opened proceedings in the case of 116 individuals charged with membership in the Muslim Brotherhood (banned in Russia and Tajikistan). Two of the individuals on trial are citizens of Egypt, the remainder are citizens of Tajikistan. Court sessions are being conducted behind closed doors at Dushanbe’s detention facility No.1 under the chairmanship of Supreme Court judge Muhammad Rahmonzoda, Ozodi reports (in Russian).

A source familiar with the case told Ozodi that the suspects are being charged under four articles of the Tajik criminal code: 179.2 (“Financing crimes of a terroristic nature”), 307.1 (“Public calls to carry out extremist activities”), 307.2 (“Organising an extremist group”) and 307.3 (“Organising the activities of an extremist organisation”).

Both lawyers and relatives of the accused refused to speak to journalists, citing case secrecy. Only the father of one of the suspects, Bokhtar resident Nusratullo Aliev, said that he has still not been informed of the reason for his son’s arrest. “We bring our son food, but we have not been allowed to see him even once. His lawyer almost never communicates with us,” Aliev said, adding that his son worked as an English-language teacher at the Islamic University in Dushanbe and was arrested in February this year.

The Tajik authorities began arresting alleged members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the country in January this year. By the end of that month alone, at least 113 individuals had been taken into custody. Tajik prosecutor-general Yusuf Rahmon stated at the time that among the detainees were an official from the Isfara municipal administration and over 20 employees of various universities, including the Islamic University and the Tajik Institute of Languages. Some of those arrested were later released.

The authorities in Uzbekistan meanwhile announced today that 38 suspected members of extremist organisations have been arrested in the Surkhondaryo and Jizzakh regions.

An underground group composed of 15 local residents was uncovered in the Boysun distict of Surkhondaryo. The organiser of the group is said to have come under the influence of Islamist currents during a period of time spent working in Russia. He then recruited other labour migrants in Russia who were also from the Boysun district. All were young men born between 1986 and 2002. According to the security services, they planned to join Katibat al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (in Uzbek: Tavhid va jihod katibasi; a terrorist organisation banned in Uzbekistan and Russia), and sent money to individuals fighting in Syria. After returning home from Russia, the group continued its activities.

A similar operation in the Jizzakh region led to the arrest of a group of 23 young men said to have been recruited by a local man who acquired extremist ideas while working in Turkey. All were born between 1983 and 1998.

This is the latest in a series of operations in Uzbekistan this year that have led to the arrest of dozens of alleged members of extremist religious groups. In January, an unspecified number of “Jihadists” were reported to have been arrested during one raid. In June and July, members of underground groups belonging to Tavhid va jihod katibasi were apprehended in Tashkent and the Tashkent region.

In January this year, Uzbekistan updated and expanded its list of banned religious organisations and literature, which includes the works of a number of figures who have received political asylum in Europe.





Mosque in Ayodhya likely to be named Masjid Dhannipur

Aug 15, 2020

A proposed mosque coming up on a five-acre site outside Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh is likely to be named after the village of Dhannipur where it is located, and not Babri Masjid, senior officials overseeing the construction of the complex announced on Friday.

Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation (IICF), the 15-member trust in charge of the mosque and other utilities, said the name Masjid Dhannipur was at the top of the list of proposed names. Other suggestions included Aman (Peace) Masjid and Sufi Masjid.

“We are getting suggestions regarding the name of the mosque. But, of the many, the name ‘Masjid Dhannipur’ tops our priority list. Most probably, the mosque would be named ‘Masjid Dhannipur’,” said Athar Hussain, spokesperson for Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation (IICF).

The complex is likely to include a mosque, a hospital, a community kitchen, and an educational centre.

The Uttar Pradesh government handed the plot, currently occupied by rice fields 20km from Ayodhya town, to the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board (UPSCWB) earlier this month in accordance with the Supreme Court’s November 2019 verdict that cleared the way for the construction of a Ram temple at the 2.77 acre site in Ayodhya. The court also ordered the government to award five acres of land at an alternative site for the construction of a mosque.

But the trust, helmed by the UPSCWB, made it clear that they didn’t want to associate the new mosque to the disputed 16th century structure that was demolished by a mob on December 6. 1992. “The board has maintained its stand since Day One that the mosque would not be named after Mughal emperor Babur,” said Hussain.

A senior official of the trust explained that the trust wanted to steer clear of any controversy and therefore was not in favour of naming the mosque after any emperor. “In any case, it is an established tradition that mosques are often named after the locality or region,” said Hussain.

The trust has received a number of pledges for donation and other commitments, and specifications and dimensions of the mosque would be decided in the days to come, he said. “So far, we have only invited applications from architects all across the country to help with the design of the mosque that would be on the Indo-Islamic theme,” added Hussain.

The trust has faced significant opposition from within the Muslim community with a section of people saying that a mosque cannot be constructed on land given by the government. On Friday, the All India Muslim Women’s Personal Law Board joined the ranks of those against the construction of the mosque. Shaista Amber, AIMWPLB chief, said, “I truly respect the Supreme Court verdict, but I personally believe that a place of worship should not be on disputed land or on given land. I don’t think the mosque should be constructed on the allotted five-acre land.”



SDPI, Muslim community falsely blamed for placing ‘flag’ atop Shankaracharya statue in Sringeri

14th August 2020

Pooja Chaudhuri

The temple town of Sringeri in Karnataka’s Chikkamagluru saw the appearance of a ‘flag’ atop Shankaracharya statue on August 13. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state leaders were quick to declare that the flag belonged to the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI). BJP legislator representing Chikkamagaluru constituency CT Ravi and BJP MP Shobha Karandlage claimed that SDPI “planted” its flag on the statue. BJP spokesperson Malavika Avinash asserted the same. Adi Shankaracharya is an 8th-century philosopher of Hinduism.

SDPI has been in the news since the August 11 Bengaluru riots where three people were killed in police firing. Multiple FIRs have been filed against 300 persons including 16 members of SDPI, linked to the Popular Front of India (PFI).

Police statement refutes BJP’s claims

Chikkamagaluru police issued a press release on August 14 which states that neither the piece of cloth found atop Shankaracharya statue belongs to SDPI nor is the accused associated with the party.

According to the press release, a 28-year-old man took a banner from Sringeri Jamia Mosque used during Eid Milad festival and placed the same over a pavilion on the statue of Shankaracharya. The man was under the influence of alcohol. On the intervening night of August 12-13, he picked a banner from the mosque to take cover from heavy rainfall. A CCTV footage made public by the police shows him covering himself with the banner.

“During the investigation, it was also found that the banner does not belong to any political party or organization. This person does not belong to any political party or any organization. It was found that this act is not premeditated and was not done on purpose,” added the police statement.

A visual comparison of the banner and SDPI’s flag is sufficient to debunk viral claims. Unlike the party flag, the banner is majorly blue in colour.

The banner also carries a picture of Madina Masjid (Al Masjid an Nabawi), Saudi Arabia, which is considered to be the last mosque built by Muhammed, the prophet of Islam.

False Muslim spin given to the story

A report in The News Minute identifies the accused as Milind. Chikkamagaluru police also said in its press conference that the man taken into custody is Milind Manohar. However, Oneindia Kannada claimed that the police arrested a man named Rafiq. Taking its cue, right-wing propaganda website OpIndia said that Rafiq and Sahil were arrested while SDPI was accused of conspiracy.

OpIndia’s article was tweeted by its editor Nupur Sharma drawing close to 2,000 retweets.




Bajwa, Bill Gates discuss Pakistan’s response to Covid-19

Ikram Junaidi

16 Aug 2020

ISLAMABAD: While a little over 16,000 active cases of coronavirus have been left in Pakistan, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) Bill Gates spoke on telephone about Pakistan’s Covid-19 response and resumption of polio eradication campaign.

According to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations on Saturday, Mr Gates praised Pakistan Army for supporting the national polio drive, ensuring proper reach and coverage.

The COAS said it was a national cause and a national effort for a polio-free Pakistan and credit went to the grassroots workers, including mobile teams, personnel of law enforcement agencies and healthcare representatives.

Gen Bajwa and Mr Gates also discussed the safe resumption of polio campaign and efforts needed to effectively conduct it under Covid-19 environment.

Mr Gates appreciated Pakistan’s success against Covid-19 despite resource constraints. The COAS attributed the success to a true national response, executed through the mechanism of the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) on Covid-19, which allowed optimisation of resources.

The co-chair of the BMGF reiterated the foundation’s ongoing commitment to fight pandemics around the world, and to support Pakistan in its goals of ending polio and improving health for every child.

The polio campaign remained suspended in the country for almost four months due to the pandemic. A sub- national campaign was launched from Aug 13 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and from 15 in Punjab and Sindh. In Balochistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir the campaign will start from Aug 17. As many as 34 million children under the age of five will be vaccinated in 130 districts across Pakistan.

So far 64 polio cases have been reported from across the country this year, as compared to 147 cases in 2019 and 12 in 2018. Provincial data show that this year 22 cases have been reported from KP, 21 from Sindh, 16 from Balochistan and five from Punjab.

The Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre of Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme, Dr Rana Safdar, said the campaign in August would help tackle increased virus transmission within hotspots of virus circulation across the country.

“The August campaign is much bigger than the last campaign held in July. We are hoping to reach many more vulnerable children,” he said in a statement. “I was encouraged with the success of our last campaign, particularly how parents cooperated with vaccinators despite Covid-19 environment, and how our vaccinators followed the Covid-19 safety precautions they were trained on. I believe that if we continue to learn and adapt to the current environment, we can continue to fight the polio virus head on.”

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus. It mainly affects children under the age of five. It invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death.

While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from this crippling disease. Each time a child under the age of five is vaccinated, their protection against the virus is increased. Repeated immunisation has protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to become polio-free.

However, there are only two countries in the world, Pakistan and Afghanistan, where polio cases are being reported. Pakistan remains under a polio-linked travel restriction imposed by the World Health Organisation due to which, since 2014, every Pakistani citizen travelling abroad has to carry a polio vaccination certificate.

According to data released by the NCOC on Saturday, a total of 16,261 active cases of Covid-19 remain in the country. As many as 149 ventilators, out of 1920 allocated for Covid-19, are in use and there is no patient on ventilator in AJK and Balochistan.


In A First, Pakistan Acknowledges Role Of Bengals’ Muslims In Its Creation

Naya Daur

August 15, 2020

In a rare move, Pakistan’s top diplomat in Bangladesh on Friday praised the contributions of the Muslims of Bengal in the creation of Pakistan.

“Their efforts are very well documented both in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Today, we remembered all our leaders and prayed for their souls,” Imran Ahmed Siddiqui, Pakistan’s high commissioner in Dhaka, told Anadolu Agency while speaking on the occasion of the 74th Independence Day of the country.

Pakistan’s High Commission in Dhaka on Friday also celebrated the day through recitation from the Quran and raising the country’s national flag to the tune of the national anthem.

Due to the prevailing coronavirus pandemic in Bangladesh, the program, however, was held with limited participation.

Pakistan got independence from the British on Aug. 14, 1947. Until 1971, Bangladesh was a part of Pakistan.

Recalling the struggles of the Muslims in the then Bengal province, Siddiqui added: “The leaders of Bengal – Nawab Sir Saleemullah, Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy, A. K Fazlul Haq, Moulvi Tamizuddin, among several others, are part of glorious history of our struggle for Pakistan.”

Referring to relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh, he added that both countries “share unbreakable bonds of history, religion and culture. I am sure these bonds will become even stronger in the days ahead.”

Frosty relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh have only recently begun thawing, with observers saying China has a role in mediation.

Last month, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke to his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina over the phone.


Separate homeland created to preserve Muslim heritage, culture: Shibli

15 Aug 2020

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz said on Friday that Pakistan was achieved after unprecedented sacrifices of the Muslims of the sub-continent and the aim of a separate homeland was to preserve Muslim heritage, culture and identity.

Speaking during an award distribution ceremony organised by the Press Information Department (PID) in honour of the writers, and artists, he said recognition of their contribution and services was vital. The minister said during past over seven decades many ups and downs were witnessed by the society. He said that unfortunately the literature, poetry, arts and culture and sports had witnessed decline.

Shibli said that many artists and producers strived hard and were part of the past glory of radio Pakistan, PTV and performing arts but now that enthusiasm and spirit was lacking in all fields and politics was no exception. He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan was his inspiration for joining politics to bring a change in the country as the past political leadership failed to deliver.

The minister said that the first two years of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government were difficult due the problems inherited by it and the outbreak of coronavirus in the country. However, he expressed the satisfaction that with the grace of Allah Almighty and due to the strategy of the government, the situation in Pakistan was far better than many countries. He said that now difficult time was over and good time was round the corner.

The minister said it was the responsibility of all segments of the society to work hard to hand over a better Pakistan to the next generation. He said that Independence Day was a good opportunity to reiterate the commitment for taking all possible measures to make Pakistan a developed and prosperous welfare state as envisioned by its founders.

Shibli said that the present leadership of the country was determined to ensure rule of law and merit in the country and make it a modern Islamic welfare state. He said that on this day the nation should feel for Kashmiris who were facing worst state terrorism by fascist Modi regime of India.

He requested the senior artists and writers to train the new generation in their respective fields.

Earlier Secretary Information and Broadcasting Akbar Hussain Durrani in his speech said the fields of literature, art and culture had witnessed a decline during the past few decades which was a cause of concern. He said that the young generation had the technology in their hands but did not have teachers to guide them. He said that the importance of freedom was realized by slave people like Kashmiris and Palestinians.

He said once Pakistani radio and television dramas had great viewership due to their class but now the standards had declined, and same were the situation in fields of literature and these fields needed to be revived. He said that the artists and writers who were being given awards were role model for their successors.

Earlier Principal Information Officer Shehera Shahid welcomed the artists, writers and other guests. Those who were given awards included senior journalists Ziaur Rehman Kashmiri and Nisar Ahmed Shakir, newscaster Kanwal Naseer, artists Nighat Aman, Laila Zuberi, Ayub Khoso, Taj Buledi, Rabia Tabbasum, Sajad Kishwar and Raees Ahmed, poet Javed Ahmed and senior PTV producer Khwaja Najmul Hassan.

Besides Managing Director Associated Press of Pakistan Tariq Mahmood and Director General Radio Pakistan Ambreen Jan senior officials of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting were also present on the occasion.


Chinese team arrives in Rawalpindi tomorrow to study train service for twin cities

Aamir Yasin

16 Aug 2020

RAWALPINDI: A team from a Chinese company will visit the garrison city tomorrow (Monday) to begin working on a study laying a track for the Rawalpindi-Islamabad circular train along the proposed Leh Nullah Expressway.

Federal and provincial governments and the China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) have decided to begin the feasibility study for the circular railway project along with the Leh Nullah Expressway project.

The company will carry out the study on the cost of running a train between the twin cities for free from the Soan River near the Rawalpindi bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) to Kashmir Highway in Islamabad. It will undertake the preliminary study on the feasibility of the project, which includes the assessment of its technical, legal, financial and commercial viability.

A train service between the two cities was also planned during the Musharraf regime, but the PML-N government halted work on this project and began its own project to run the metro bus service.

After two years, the provincial government is still considering different options to begin the Leh Expressway project.

“There are two proposals regarding the start of the project, including giving land allocated for a sewage treatment plan in Adiala to a private land development to earn money in return for its investment in the project, or two cover Leh Nullah from New Kattarian to Soan River near the LHC Rawalpindi bench to start commercial activities and a private investor will earn money from these commercial plazas,” a senior Rawalpindi Development Authority official told Dawn.

The official said the Punjab law department did not give a legal opinion on the plan to give land for the sewage treatment plant to a private investment in exchange for investment in the expressway project in the form of a public-private partnership.

A project proposal has been made but has not been submitted to the Punjab Public Private Partnership Authority because of the absence of the law department’s opinion.

He said the shortage of funds was the main problem in the project, which was why the RDA made a proposal to begin the project in the mode of a public-private partnership.

The Punjab government does not have the money to begin the project because of financial crises, he said.

The Leh Expressway was launched in March 2007 and inaugurated by then president Gen Pervez Musharraf. Its total cost was Rs20 billion.

The Frontier Works Organisation was awarded the contract and it started the work on the site to complete it in two years.

However, work on the project was stopped during the 2008 general election and did not resume because of the PML-N provincial government’s apprehension that its completion would benefit party defector Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, the project’s architect.





Hamas, Islamic Jihad: 'Israel-UAE must abolish shameful deal

August 15, 2020

Chiefs of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine consider the Israel-UAE normalisation deal “out of historic context” and a “violation of Palestinian, Arab and Islamic principles”.

In a telephone call, leaders of both movements insisted that the UAE: “Must abolish this shameful deal.”

Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh, who conducted the call, agreed with the Islamic Jihad Leader Ziyad Al-Nakhala on: “Continuous coordination between the leaderships of both movements.”

Separately, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke with Haniyeh and denounced the Israel-UAE deal, stressing on Iran’s permanent support for Palestine.

Haniyeh thanked Iran and the Iranian people for their constant support of the Palestinian cause.

“We will always continue the line of resistance and fight against the occupation, and we will not be affected by such treacherous acts, but we feel pain from this dagger that stabbed the Palestinian people from behind,” Haniyeh expressed.


Islamist firebrand preacher Raed Salah begins prison term for inciting terror


Sheikh Raed Salah, the firebrand leader of an outlawed Islamist group, began on Sunday a term of 28 months in prison for inciting terror and membership in an illegal organization.

Salah, the leader of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, was convicted by the Haifa Magistrate’s Court in November after he spoke out in support of a terror attack on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount that left two police officers dead and inflamed regional tensions.

The preacher briefly addressed the hundreds of supporters gathered outside Kishon prison on Sunday, saying: “Every Muslim and Arab in the world is proud of you — I do not respect the court’s decision.”

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Last month the Haifa District Court rejected Salah’s appeal and upheld the conviction.

Hundreds of supporters of Raed Salah gather at Kishon prison, August 16, 2020 (Screen grab/Channel 12 news)

Former MK Jamal Zahalka told the Walla news site that Sunday’s jailing was part of an ongoing witch hunt.

“It is clear that this is another milestone in his political persecution. The [Northern Branch of the] Islamic Movement has been outlawed, now the right to speak is also outlawed,” Zahalka said.

MK Jamal Zahalka in the Knesset, on December 26, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Israel banned the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement on November 17, 2015, asserting that the hard-line offshoot organization had links to terrorist groups and had helped incite a wave of stabbing attacks and car-rammings that was taking place at the time. The group rejects the Oslo peace accords between Israel and the Palestinians and boycotts national elections on the grounds that they give legitimacy to the institutions of the Jewish state.

Salah, a former mayor of Umm al-Fahm who has become a cause celebre in some pro-Palestinian circles, has served several stints in prison for incitement or support for terror.

According to the the verdict, Salah, 61, gave a sermon on July 21, 2017, in which he praised “martyrs of Al-Aqsa,” and those “guarding” the flashpoint compound, home to the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

“For eight days they have not stopped [saying] over and over ‘In blood and spirit we will liberate Al-Aqsa. Have not stopped confronting the Israeli occupation, confronting the guns of the Israeli occupation, unafraid of the batons of the Israeli occupation and not afraid to be injured, wounded, arrested, not afraid of anything but Allah,” he said.

Master Sgt. Kamil Shnaan, left, and Master Sgt. Haiel Sitawe, right, the police officers killed in the terror attack next to the Temple Mount complex in Jerusalem on July 14, 2017. (Israel Police)

The sermon came a week after three men from Umm al-Fahm in Israel carried out a shooting attack at the entrance to the Temple Mount, killing two policemen — Haiel Sitawe and Kamil Shnaan.

In the wake of the attack, Israel first shut the compound, and then installed metal detectors at the site, a move that led Palestinians to hold massive protests outside, ratcheting up already high tensions.

Salah gave a similar speech at a symbolic funeral for the three gunmen in Umm al Fahm, and a would-be stabber from the city who was arrested in Tel Aviv days later indicated he had been inspired by Salah’s words, according to the conviction.

Salah had argued in his defense that his views were religious opinions rooted in the Quran and did not constitute a direct call to violence.

“It’s all lies,” he said after his sentencing, according to the Haaretz daily. “Everything that was said [by the court] was far from the truth. I don’t know where they got this stuff that was attributed to me. It looks like someone wrote lies about me and the court presented them as facts.”

Muslim worshipers perform noon prayers by the Lions Gate, outside the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City, July 20, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The judges in the appeal rejected Salah’s contention that the attack was not terror, calling the claim “outrageous,” and noting that his use of the word “martyr,” or shahid, supported the contention that it was terror.

They also rejected the idea that the conviction impinged on free speech, saying that it did not extend to support for acts of violence, especially from a community leader.

“The leader knows that the public looks to him and learns from his words, as well as his silence, on supporting criminal acts. And so he bears responsibility,” they wrote in the verdict.

A contention that Salah’s Northern Branch organization should not be outlawed was rejected by the court as outside its purview.


Deputy Speaker of Lebanese Shia Islamic Assembly: We oppose any normalization of relations with Zionist regime

August 16, 2020

Sheikh Ali al-Khatib, the deputy speaker of the Lebanese Shi’ah Islamic Assembly, said, “The judiciary must intensify its investigation because what happened in this country has killed hundreds and injured thousands, as well as causing a lot of damage. It’s necessary to reveal the names of the perpetrators and those responsible for this explosion and to rebuild and heal the injured.”

His Eminence acknowledged, “We consider the victims of this incident as martyrs and once again offer our condolences to the families of the victims and wish the injured a speedy recovery. We call on the Lebanese people to stand together in the face of the consequences of this tragedy and to extend a helping hand to the brothers. We also regret the abuse of some politicians who use the blood of the martyrs to incite the people against the Islamic Resistance [Hezbollah]. Instead of cooperating in this situation, these people are trying to distort the reality and incite sedition in favour of the Zionist regime through social networks and creating sedition.”

He stated, “We appreciate the resilient people of Lebanon on the anniversary of the victory of the July War [2006 33-Day War], which proved that there is unity between the people and the army and the Islamic Resistance, and we should know that the enemies are lurking and only unity can protect it from the enmity of this regime.”

Referring to the plan to normalize relations with the Zionist regime, Hujjat al-Islam al-Khatib stated, “We condemn the normalization of relations with this regime and call for the severance of ties and efforts to portray them as a friend and declare that this regime is racist, colonialist, seditionist and conspiratorial in the world.”

The Lebanese Shi’ah scholar added, “It’s necessary to form a government of national salvation as soon as possible and to consolidate national unity, implement reforms, economic progress, preserve the value of the currency, political and social stability and restore the people’s trust in the fight against corruption. It’s also necessary to punish the perpetrators of the explosion and to help rebuild and repair the damage.”

He added, “We appreciate and thank the friendly and brotherly countries for helping the Lebanese people and healing their wounds and we hope that other countries will take steps in this direction to help Lebanon.”

He said, “In the face of escalating the Coronavirus as a result of recklessness and indifference to preventive measures to limit the spread of the epidemic, it’s necessary for people to refrain from gathering. We call on the people to follow the instructions of the Ministry of Health and the relevant authorities to limit the spread of the virus in the country so that the country doesn’t suffer from new crises and epidemics.”


6th Islamic Human Rights awards presented

Aug 15, 2020

TEHRAN, Aug. 15 (MNA) – In the Festival of Commemoration of Islamic Human Rights and Human Dignity, the sixth Islamic Human Rights Award was presented to Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi, Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis.

The Festival for the Commemoration of Islamic Human Rights and Human Dignity was held on Saturday with the presence of Ebrahim Raeisi Iran’s Head of Judiciary and senior judicial officials as well as Faeq Zeidan the Head of the Supreme Judicial Council of Iraq, Mohammad Abdul-Sattar al-Sayyed, the Minister of Endowments of Syria, Shireen Mazari, Minister of Human Rights of Pakistan, Jorge Arreaza, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela, and a number of international human rights activists via a video conference.

In this conference, the sixth award of Islamic Human Rights was jointly presented to " Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi ", "Ramadan Abdullah Shallah" and "Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis".

Some issues over the human rights situation in the countries of the Resistance Front and the oppressive and unilateral sanctions of the United States was discussed in this meeting.



South Asia


Putin’s initiative on issues around Iran welcomed by China

August 16, 2020

A Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Saturday that Beijing welcomes Russian President Vladimir Putin's proposal of holding an online summit over the Iranian nuclear issue.

Spokesperson Zhao Lijian made the remarks when asked to comment on Putin's proposal.

Putin proposed on Friday holding an urgent online meeting of the heads of the five states that are permanent members of the UN Security Council with the participation of the leaders of Germany and Iran to discuss Iran and the Persian Gulf situation.

China appreciates Russia's efforts to ease tensions on the Iranian nuclear issue and to strengthen regional security, Zhao said, according to Xinhua.

China has always firmly supported the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and is devoted to safeguarding peace and stability in the West Asia, said Zhao. "China is willing to work with parties concerned to keep close communication and coordination, and jointly promote the process of political resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue."


Herat Grand Mosque to be Included in World Cultural Heritage List

August 15, 2020

Kabul (BNA) Acting Minister of Information and Culture, Mohammad Tahir Zuhair during a meeting with Herat local officials said on Thursday that initial steps have been taken to include Herat Grand Mosque into World Cultural Heritage List.

Assuring Ministry’s attention towards preservation of cultural heritages of the country, Minister Zuhair said his trip to the western province was aiming to overview the cultural situation, as according to him Herat has played the most important role in the production of Islamic culture, art and thought.

The provincial deputy governor Dr. Ghulam Dawood Hashemi, asked Ministry of Information and Culture to pay attention to Reconstruction of historical monuments, strengthening of culture, reconstruction of Herat minarets and its archeological complex as well as restoration of the historical monuments in the districts.

Meanwhile in a dinner reception, the Herat Governor Waheed Qatali welcomed Minister Zuhair and his accompanied delegation to the province and stressed the need for more support of cultural figures and the preservation of cultural assets.


Afghan forces kill 4 Taliban militants while repulsing a Taliban attack in Ghazni

16 Aug 2020

By Ahmad Shah Ghanizada

The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces repulsed a Taliban attack in South-eastern Ghazni province, killing at least four Taliban militants.

The Special Operations Corps in a statement said a group of Taliban militants attacked the security posts in Arzoo Kalan area located in the provincial capital of Ghazni.

The statement further added that the Afghan forces effectively responded to the attack and killed at least four of the assailants.

The Taliban group has not commented regarding the incident so far.

Ghazni is among the relatively volatile provinces in South-east of Afghanistan where Taliban militants have active presence in some of its restive districts.


France asks Kabul not to release Taliban prisoners convicted of killing French citizens

16 Aug 2020

The government of France has asked the Afghan government not to release the Taliban prisoners who have been convicted of killing the citizens of France.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France on Saturday issued a statement, demanding a halt to release of those Taliban prisoners who have been convicted of killing French citizens, according to Reuters.

“France is particularly concerned by the presence, among the individuals liable to be released, of several terrorists convicted of killing French citizens in Afghanistan,” the statement said.

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani recently signed a decree approving the release of 400 Taliban prisoners who are considered as the most dangerous inmates, who were involved in major attacks as well as drug trafficking.

Ghani signed the decree after the members of the Consultative Loya Jirga (Grand Assembly of Tribal Elders) voted to release the remaining 400 hard-core Taliban prisoners in a bid to help the peace process.


NAI: Intra-Afghan dialogue must be conducted in the presence of media

15 Aug 2020

In a press release, Nai supporting open media in Afghanistan stated that Afghanistan’s peace talks must be conducted in the presence of national and international media.

The statement released on Thursday said they are concerned following the Taliban has called for closed-door talks as it is not the will of people and is not acceptable to the Afghan citizens.

NAI urges that the Taliban’s statement in this matter is against the law &  public’s interest and Nai requests the international organizations, United Nations, European Union and The united states to put pressure over the Qatar government in order for them to provide journalists with the visa.

“The legitimacy of any national action comes from people’s consent, closed-door negotiations are neither legitimate and nor acceptable to the people of Afghanistan”, Nai Added.

This comes as the Afghan government has not invited the media organizations in Afghanistan to attend the Doha intra-Afghan peace dialogue, however it has selected a few numbers of journalists for accreditation which has sparked concerns among the Afghan media.

Hamdullah Arbab, the spokesperson for Access to Information Commission (AIC) in a conversation with Khaama Press condemned the recent biased act by the Afghan government.

“This is totally not acceptable, the government must not be biased and they should have invited all the media through the Ministry of Peace or the Government Media and Information Center (GMIC)”, Arbab told Khaama Press.

Najia Anwari, the spokesperson to the Afghanistan Ministry of Peace said in a video message that they have coordinated with the media and have sent the journalists list to Qatar embassy for the visa issuance.

Anwari was not sure whether Qatar Embassy would issue visas to journalists or not, she called on Qatar government to facilitate journalists’ presence for Doha talks.





Nigeria Cannot Survive A Religious War — A Former Senator Representing Kaduna West

August 15, 2020

By Ripples Nigeria

A former Senator representing Kaduna West at the National Assembly, Shehu Sani has called on Islamic clerics in the country to work with the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), in finding a lasting solution to religious crisis in the country.

Sani, an outspoken politician and activist, made the call in a tweet on his Twitter handle on Saturday.

Sani, who noted that no side can win a religious war, also warned that no country can survive it.

He tweeted: “The revered Sharia Council Clerics should work together with CAN in order to extinguish the smoke and flames of religious discontent threatening the peace of our people. No side can win a religious war and no country can survive a religious war in the 21st century.”

Nigeria has been the theatre of security crisis that have been linked to religion, especially the Boko Haram insurgency that has killed thousands of innocent citizens mainly in the Northeast, as the insurgents wage an unending war said to be targeted at establishing a caliphate based on the strict application of the Sharia law.

The Southern part of Kaduna State has also witnessed continued killings by bandits and militias in a crisis believed to be fuelled by ethnicity and religion.


Algeria turns to Islamic finance to prop up economy

August 16, 2020

ALGIERS: Algeria has launched Islamic finance products in a bid to attract money from the informal market, but bankers warn it will take more to fix the country’s struggling economy.

Falling oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic have battered the North African country, triggering alarm bells among officials and experts.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast that Algeria’s economy will shrink 5.2 percent this year.

Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad has warned of an “unprecedented economic situation,” and experts have estimated unemployment at nearing 15 percent.

In Algeria, Africa’s largest nation and home to 43 million people, most transactions are done in cash circulating outside the formal banking sector, said professor Mohamed Boudjelal, an expert on Islamic finance.

Many Algerians “turn their nose up” at conventional banking, Boudjelal said.

Some Muslims believe that the traditional banking system is incompatible with their faith.

Islamic finance — the provision of financial services in accordance with religious laws — is a fast growing sector that has been adopted in many Muslim countries.

The industry is based on shared profit and loss, while earning interest is banned as “usury.”

Funds are also blocked from investing in companies associated with tobacco, alcohol, pork or gambling.

Algeria is hoping the new products could woo new investors into the market, following the success of Islamic finance products over the past decade in other countries, notably in the Gulf and Malaysia.

The country’s neighbors have already rolled out similar schemes.

In Tunisia, Islamic finance has operated in the private sector since the 1980s, although the sector remains modest, while in Morocco it began in 2017, though it has recorded net losses it says are due to initial start-up costs.

But Algeria hopes to tap into the significant revenues of the informal market, estimated to be as much as $30-35 billion, according to Abderahmane Benkhalfa, a former minister of finance and ex-head of the banking association.

“It is not only necessary to draw these resources, but to inject them into banks in order to bolster the economy,” Benkhalfa said.

Earlier this month, state-run National Bank of Algeria offered nine Islamic financial services, receiving a certificate from Muslim clerics ensuring they were compatible with Islamic law.

Only two other private banks, subsidiaries of the Bahrain-based Baraka Bank and Al Salam Bank, offer Islamic finance services in Algeria.

However, Algeria’s other banks — all state-run — are now expected to follow suit by the end of the year.

Most foreign banks are also planning to sell Islamic finance products too.

But Benkhalfa, who is also a member of a panel of African experts tasked by the African Union to mobilize international funds to help the continent combat coronavirus, warned that Islamic finance is not a “miracle solution.”

Only a small slice of cash in the informal economy circulates because of people’s religious beliefs.

The solution, Benkhalfa argues, are to make steps to modernize the traditional banking system — to make it more responsive — and develop in parallel with Islamic finance.

Economist Abderrahmane Mebtoul was even more cautious in his assessment.

It is only viable if inflation can be brought under control and if households have faith in the government’s management of the economy, Mebtoul said.

According to several studies, Islamic finance products are often more expensive that those provided by the traditional banking sector.

By the end of the year Algeria’s state banks are expected to propose several Islamic finance products, including “murabaha,” “ijara” and “musharakah.”

Murabaha, or cost-plus financing, is among the most popular products, and is used to finance a variety of consumer purchases from cars to houses.

It involves the bank buying on behalf of a client a property or another product, which it sells back to the client at a certain profit that replaces an interest rate.

Ijara is a way of buying a house through a lease and subsequent ownership, rather than through a mortgage.

Musharakah is seen as a way of enabling a buyer to avoid taking an interest-bearing loan, though some Islamic scholars say it is too similar to the charging of interest.

Algerian authorities are also considering issuing Islamic bonds.


Nasarawa battling its own Islamic sects, says Gov Sule

August 15, 2020

Umar Muhammed

Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, said on Friday that the state was battling its own Islamic sects, Darul-Salam and Hakika, which he said had posed a security threat to the state.

He pointed out that the state had had its own share of the insecurity in the country, saying the state was equally battling clashes between farmers and herders, kidnapping, rape and inter-ethnic clashes.

The governor spoke at the inauguration of the newly established Police Mobile Force Training College in Ende Hills by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.). He noted that the training facility would enhance the capacity of the police in training its special forces to deal with insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and other emerging crimes in the state.

He said, “I have been battling with the activities of the Islamic sect ‘Darul-Salam and Hakika’ in Toto and Awe local government areas of the state. More worrisome is the kidnapping activities which has pervaded the rural areas and resulted in the killing of the traditional ruler of Odu community in Nasarawa Local Government Area.

“Let me take the liberty of this occasion to state that Nasarawa State has its own share of security challenges, which are mainly conflicts between herdsmen and farmers, kidnapping, rape as well as communal clashes between ethnic groups.”

While thanking the President and the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, for the sighting of the college in the state, Sule said the state would continue to provide the necessary logistics to support Federal Government’s efforts in the fight against crime in the state.

Meanwhile, the President has promised to boost internal security by establishing training facilities in other geopolitical zones of the country as he commended the IGP and his team for their commitment to improving the police.

Buhari, represented by the Minister of Police Affairs, Mr Muhammad Dingyadi, said, “I will boost internal security and establish training facilities in other geo-political zone of the country targeted at tackling the persistence of banditry, kidnapping and armed robbery across the country.”





Mark of Toledo's Latin Translation of the Qur'an in the Thirteenth Century

by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

August 14, 2020

Several years ago I provided a very brief overview of Latin translations of the Qur'an, contrasting the earliest one done by Robert of Ketton in the twelfth century with Ludovico Marracci's translation first published in 1698. The clearest difference there was the former's tendency to paraphrase versus the latter's much closer adherence to the original. There was however another Latin translation of the Qur'an that appeared in the early thirteenth century and was done by one Mark of Toledo, a canon working under Rodrigo Jiménez de Rada, who was the archbishop of Toledo. Toledo had been a town of importance for Christian religious authority in the Iberian Peninsula prior to the Muslim conquest of most of the peninsula and returned to Christian control in 1085.

Mark of Toledo's Latin translation of the Qur'an has been the subject of a study and critical edition by Nadia Petrus Pons, published in 2016 (if you read Spanish, I highly recommend the work). As Pons notes, the documentary evidence definitively attests to Mark of Toledo's membership of the clergy of Toledo from 1192 to 1216. Mark also spoke of his experiences of translating into Latin some of the works by Galen from Arabic translations of the original Greek texts.

Thanks to a prologue Mark wrote for his Latin translation of the Qur'an, we can date the completion of his translation of the Qur'an to the year 1210. As part of this post I have done a full translation of that prologue, which contains an interesting biography of the Prophet Muhammad and overview of Islamic precepts, while also illustrating the agenda of Mark and his church superiors against Islam.

However, Mark's negative view of Islam should not prejudice an assessment of the quality of his translation of the Qur'an. In fact, from the parts I have read of the translation, it represents a great improvement over the work of Robert of Ketton and is on the whole a decent translation. There are of course some improvements that could be made in certain places. Analysing the entire translation verse-by-verse would probably take up a whole book, so below I am only going to present only some examples of things that struck me while reading parts of the translation. All the citations of Mark of Toledo's Latin translation of the Qur'an come from Pons' edition.

An interesting starting point, as before, is to look at Surat al-Fatiha ('The Opening'), which is the first chapter of the Qur'an. The text below:

in nomine Dei, misericordis, miseratoris.

gloria Deo, creatori gencium, Misericordi, Miseratori, qui regnat in die legis. te quidem adoramus, per te iuvamur. dirige nobis viam rectam, quam eis erogasti, non eorum contra quos iratus es neque dampnatorum.

The immediate difference with Robert of Ketton's translation is the avoidance of paraphrase, and trying to adhere to the original. In general, this translation of Surat al-Fatiha captures the original adequately but could be improved in some ways. For example, gloria corresponds more closely to the Arabic word المجد in meaning. A better Latin translation for the original الحمد would be laus. The phrase creatori gencium translates as 'creator of the peoples,' but a closer Latin rendering of the original رب العالمين would be domino mundorum (bearing in mind that we put the noun dominus in the dative case in apposition to Deo).

The phrase qui regnat in die legis is the translation of مالك يوم الدين. The first part- qui regnat (lit. 'who is sovereign')- is fine, though one could also use regnatori or domino or regi, thus adhering more closely to the sequence of appositional phrases in the original. As for die legis to translate يوم الدين, the noun iudicium would be better than lex to translate الدين in this context, since the reference here is to the Day of Judgement. It should be noted more generally that Mark of Toledo uses the word lex to translate الدين, but the word lex really corresponds more closely to the Arabic word الشرع ('the law'), while religio is a better translation of الدين ('the religion'), though note that lex and religio have the same basic root origin. Here are a couple other examples where Mark of Toledo uses lex to translate الدين, with comments on the wider translation:

ومن يبتغ غير الإسلام ديناً فلن يقبل منه

et qui preter legem Ysmahelitarum aliam appetit, non recipiatur ab illo (Qur'an 3:85)

I have given the original Arabic for comparison. The translation of this part of the verse is accurate apart from the rendering of 'Islam' as the legem Ysmahelitarum ('law of the Ismaelites').

وقاتلوهم حتى لا تكون فتنة ويكون الدين كله لله

et impugna eos donec cesset tribulacio et sit lex tota Dei (Qur'an 8:39).

Again, a generally accurate rendering of this part of the verse, though the imperative singular form impugna should more accurately be rendered as impugnate (plural form) to match the original plural imperative form in the Arabic. The word tribulacio ('tribulation') is a possible translation of فتنة though my personal preference for translation in this context would be discordia ('discord'), since the idea is that there should be fighting until there is no more disunity in religion, which should belong wholly to God.

Coming back to the remainder of Mark of Toledo's translation of Surat al-Fatiha, the translation of اياك نستعين ('in You we seek help) as per te iuvamur ('through You we are helped') could be improved to convey the original more closely, such as a te auxilium petimus ('from You we seek help'). As for the final part of the sura, the translation is fine apart from quam eis erogasti ('which You have brought to them) that is used to render صراط الذين انعمت عليهم. The construction of the translation should be modified somewhat to reflect the original more closely and convey its meaning more clearly. For example:

viam illorum quibus favisti

Here I have substituted the relative pronoun form quam with viam, repeating the noun in apposition to viam rectam, and my rendering clarifies that this is the path 'of those whom You have favoured.'

There are other cases in the translation where constructions could be revised to convey the original more accurately. For example:

impugnate eos qui non credunt in Deum nec in diem ultimum, nec respuunt ea que Deus excommunicavit et Legatus eius, nec legem observant veritatis de illis quibus traditus est Liber. Qui solvunt tributum manualiter et sunt minorati (Qur'an 9:29).

The translation is generally fine (though again I would not use lex for الدين as in دين الحق). The main issue here is the construction of the final part of the verse. Here Mark of Toledo has used a sentence beginning with a form of the relative pronoun qui and using indicative verb forms: 'They pay the tribute by hand and have been diminished.' However, the original Arabic uses a clause with حتى and a subjunctive verb (حتى يعطوا الجزية عن يد وهم صاغرون): that is, the Muslims are to fight the disbelievers of the People of the Book until they pay the jizya tax and feel subdued. In other words, the original has a temporal clause with a sense purpose. This could be conveyed in Latin with a clause introduced by dum or donec and utilising a subjunctive verb. So, for example:

Another interesting angle from which to examine Mark of Toledo's translation of the Qur'an is to consider cases of hapax legomena in the Qur'an (i.e. terms in the Qur'an that only occur once). For example, consider Sura 108 (Surat al-Kawthar):

in nomine Dei, misericordis, miseratoris.

('In the name of God, the Merciful, the Gracious. Indeed We have brought to you the lavatorium. So pray to [/worship] your Creator and raise your hands over your chest, indeed [/because] it is your adversary [/your adversary is]').

The word الكوثر in the first verse is rendered lavatorium, which can mean a washing place or a wash basin. The word الكوثر is a hapax legomenon in the Qur'an and has been rendered in a variety of ways. Some simply render it as 'the abundance,' the equivalent of which is copia in Latin. However, in Islamic tradition it is also interpreted to refer to (i) a river (Arabic: نهر الكوثر) of Paradise, and (ii) a basin of water (Arabic: حوض الكوثر) supplied by that river and set up on the Day of Judgment. It is probably something along the lines of حوض الكوثر that Mark of Toledo had in mind when he rendered it as lavatorium, though it should be noted that the usual understanding of the basin of al-Kawthar is something from which one drinks, not a basin for washing oneself.

There are two other issues of translation of this chapter of the Qur'an. First, the normal understanding ofانحر (second person singular masculine imperative form of the verb نحر) in the second verse is sacrifice, which would be rendered by the appropriate form of the Latin verb sacrificare. Mark of Toledo's translation of the انحر as raising one's hands in prayer is an interpretation that has appeared, but it is not the normal understanding. Second, I must admit that I am somewhat confused by Mark of Toledo's rendering of the final verse: adversarius tuus is an acceptable translation of شانئك but the sentence then abruptly ends with est ('is) without a following noun or adjective. The est is meant to correspond to هو but it seems as though الأبتر (another hapax legomenon in the Qur'an) is left out. Was this a simple oversight? In any event, possible Latin renderings of this word could be abscisus ('cut off') or liberis privatus ('deprived of children') or orbus.

Another interesting case of hapax legomenon I want to highlight here is the word أبابيل in Qur'an 105:3, from a chapter traditionally understood as describing how God repelled an invasion of Mecca by the Abyssinians.

Here, Mark of Toledo's translation reads: 'And He sent upon them the birds of Babylon.' It is notable that his rendering of أبابيل as 'of Babylon' goes contrary to the common Muslim understanding of this word as referring to mere 'flocks' of birds. Some recent scholarship (e.g. Daniel Beck's paper on the role of prophesy in the Prophet Muhammad's early career, and the suggestion of the linguist Marijn van Putten) has advanced the interpretation of أبابيل as 'Babylonian.' I will leave it to the reader to judge Beck's more detailed argument for this interpretation, as he suggests that the chapter is in fact a reference to a victory of northeastern Arab tribes over a Sassanid military force in what is now southwestern Iraq in the early seventh century. Beck in turn has highlighted that the interpretation of أبابيل as 'Babylonian' was suggested by the French scholar Alfred Louis de Prémare. How fascinating that Mark of Toledo suggested the Babylonian interpretation hundreds of years earlier!

I will leave my overview of Mark of Toledo's translation here for now. This overview has been exploratory in nature, and at a future stage I would love to do a more comprehensive analysis if I could find the funding for such a project.

In the meantime, I present below my translation of the Mark of Toledo's prologue to his translation of the Qur'an. I have included some explanatory notes for context, and for the sake of authenticity I have mostly preserved the prologue's transliteration of names. Any suggestions for corrections and amendments are most welcome. Finally, I would like to dedicate this work to my friend 'Odaocer' who is from the village of Qalb Lawza in the Jabal al-Summaq area of north Idlib countryside. Here is to all the times we have discussed and joked about my various interests, including ancient Germanic languages, Roman history (including the rule of Odoacer as king of Italy, hence the pseudonym we agreed upon to refer to you in my work) and my writings on jihadist groups in Idlib and its environs. You are indeed a true friend.

From a collision of iron and stone a fire is ignited, sometimes to provide illumination for men spending time in the darkness, but sometimes to cook those things which are raw, sometimes for heating, sometimes to blow glass and for other useful and sought-out uses. But from the joining of two parents- namely of iron and stone, a kindling fire of the worshippers of iron and stone idols was begotten, for from the two parents hardened like the iron and stone of idolatry, a sulphuric fire came out not so much as to provide illumination for men working in the darkness of the night, but rather so as to add darkness to the darkness instead of providing light for those lost in the darkness of ignorance with many generations having passed away. For it did not burn up the sinners with the sound doctrine[ii] in order that it might cook the raw intellects of men and their depraved opinions that they had about God, and burn the superfluous superstitions of idols. Nor indeed did it provide heating, because since they had not had full news of the Son of God, there was no burning in love of him through the flame of the Holy Spirit. But when the vases of old perdition should have been blown into the vases of the Lord- of course into the faith of the Holy Trinity- Mafometus[iii] blew them into vases of perdition.

Indeed this man, coming forth as though from the fat of iniquity, was born in Mecha,[iv] which means adulteress and is in Arabia. He was born from parents who were nonetheless noble according to the ranks of the generation: namely, his father was Habedileth (which means servant of Ydolileth)[v] and his mother was Emina.[vi] Indeed he was born in the adulteress city, which had no news of the living God to Whom every soul ought to be justifiably subjected since from Him it has taken up the beginning and origin. And so she went astray after gods alien from the truth and worshipped the idols and as though a harlot, she abandoned God- her legitimate husband- and subjecting herself to many gods she perpetrated wicked adultery.[vii]

So as Mafometus had arisen from Arabia dirtied with the cults of demons and from parents worshipping idols, nonetheless he was descended from royal stock. But in the time of his boyhood and adolescence, he applied his mind to the study of literature, expending effort in remote regions as far as he could, such that he became skilled in mathematical arts. And when he had learnt the absurd arts privately and not in public, and the trumpet of the apostles had intoned and their sound had gone out into every land, he was informed that the Christians were already worshipping the faith of the Holy Trinity, and that they themselves believed that God is one in deity, three in persons, according to the preaching of the apostles, and the Jews worshipped one and the same God, but they did not however profess three in persons like the Christians.

And so having taken up a journey under the cover of a merchant, he came into Syria and stayed there for some years and perfectly learnt the Pentateuch in the language of the Syrians.[viii] Then afterwards he set out into Greece and resided and stayed there for quite some time: there he heard in the Greek language the law of the Christians and the articles of the faith with interest. And so when he had become acquainted with the fact that both the Jews and the Christians worshipped God with unequal profession and he had been instructed in the Old and New Testaments, he returned into Arabia as soon as possible.

And while he deliberated with himself as to how he should convert the Arabs and all the other nations to the faith of the one God and destroy the idolatry as far as he could in those regions, he fell into such great perplexity because he hesitated as to which of those laws he should call them: the new law of Jesus Christ, or the old one which was given to Moses and the Jewish people. But he had come to know that the Evangelical Law was heavy for them and they could not tolerate it- as it is a law of humility according to that maxim: 'He who strikes you on one cheek, provide for him also the other.'[ix] It was also intolerable for them in chastity, fasting and the rest of the things that are observed by the Christians, and it was also the case that their hearts, hardened for a rather long time in the cult of idols, could not be softened so that they should believe that there is one God. For these reasons, he did not see to it that he should explain the articles of the Christian religion as though to rational animals: that is, offer the foods which not only sustain the body but also revive the dead soul. But rather it is as though he provided grass, chaff and hay for brute cattle. He also wanted to preach the law of the Decalogue[x] to them, nonetheless the observers of that law were regarded as disgraceful because of the killing of Jesus Christ, whom in his opinion they had not managed to kill (though they had thought they had done so)[xi] through the betrayal of Judas, driven as they were by malice. Further, as traitors led into servitude they were rendering tribute to the peoples. So for this reason he decided that their observances, in so far as contained in the Pentateuch, were to be abhorred by all just as profanities were avoided.

However, it is said that not only did he reject the law of the Christian religion because of the difficulty of its rigour and not only did he in his contempt of the Jews disdain to inform the peoples of Arabia of the precepts of the Decalogue, but also that he founded a third law from both, a law which should agree with the Old and New Testaments in certain articles, but differ from both in certain observations. Therefore from both Testaments he plucked off many precepts and changed them, and adding others to them he compiled it all into one work and he decided that it should indeed be called with a double appellation: that is, Alchoranus which is interpreted as 'lectionary' and Alforcanus[xii] which means 'distinct' in the Arabic language, as it serves to distinguish between the Old and New Testaments: as some interpret, between the blasphemy of the heathens and the faith that he himself taught. And so he composed this in secret and dividing it into 112 tracts or chapters,[xiii] he brought them together under 60 divisions.[xiv]

But whenever he brought forth the word of preaching to the peoples of those regions, he would summon all outside the city and in the presence of all, he prostrated himself fallen on the ground in an act as though he were suffering epilepsy, and as is accustomed to happen for the epileptic,[xv] with feet and hands cast forth from here and there in a frenzy. He rolled about in this way on the sand for a very long time. Then indeed after a considerable amount of time he thus deliberately laid to rest the motion of his limbs and closed his eyes, in which not only would he be believed to be apoplectic in whom there is thought to be no sense or motion, but indeed would be thought to be lifeless. And when with his eyes already disturbed he would rise as though seized by a demon, he would tell his people that the angel Gabriel was sent by God to him, and who laid him low on the ground and would vex him in body and soul. And he would compel him placed in ecstasy in order that he might expound to the peoples worshipping the false gods the words of God (as he claimed, which were destined from heaven to him) and recall them from idolatry and draw them to the more zealous worship of the living God. Therefore having been set in the middle of them he brought forth to them not indeed the words of the angel, because he was not of such great merit that the angel Gabriel should be sent to him, but rather words that he forged and preached to the crude and uncultured people as though they were declared by the angel to him.

And so whenever he preached he would say to them: 'I am the Messenger of God. I expound to you the words that the angel has placed in my mouth. I am illiterate,[xvi] for I am maternal.[xvii] The angel compels me to say to you words of this sort: 'Worship the living God who created the heavens and the earth, angels and men and all things which are in them. Do not worship the gods who cannot benefit and obstruct you. Render the tithes and firstfruits to God[xviii] and to the king [because he performs among them the place of His pontifex and deputy][xix] and beware sins. Be humble, patient, chaste except over your wives, and avoid adultery, homicide and theft. And if indeed you do this and honour your parents,[xx] God will grant you long life in this generation, abundance and sons with whom you will rejoice, and in the future He will grant you the Paradises under which rivers flow: that is, of water, wine, milk and honey.[xxi] He will also grant you rich foods, which will not weigh down the stomachs, and sweet wine, which will not inebriate, wives[xxii] and clothes of silk.[xxiii] You will have known that Christ was the son of the Virgin Mary, the Messenger of God and the word of God, which God destined to her, as well as His Spirit. So do not say that there are three, but rather there is one God.[xxiv] And Christ did not disdain to be the servant of God, indeed also the nearest angels have not disdained,[xxv] and God has strengthened with the Holy Spirit."[xxvi]

He prescribed a fast of thirty days[xxvii] at a certain time and he who did not fast on that predetermined time for some reason would redeem the debt of that fasting, if he were rich, with alms. If indeed he were poor, he would do so by fasting at another time.[xxviii] He advised to pray in the temple[xxix] or in the home five times per day,[xxx] but before they should enter the temple he mandated that they should perform ablution with water. He prescribed that circumcision should be for them in boys from the age of two years, but for adults whenever they should accede to the law.[xxxi] He prohibited adultery, but if a married man buys a woman for a price, whether she is marriageable or married, he can lawfully lie carnally with her as a slave girl and does not commit adultery,[xxxii] because the price that is paid for her dissolves the crime of adultery, so that they may sire offspring for the worship of the one God.[xxxiii] He preached future resurrection and that those who believe the pronouncements and do good deeds will have eternal life. And he asserted that those who act against this will have various torments in hellfire forever. He prohibited the flesh of the pig and every dead animal, lest they should eat blood and one dedicated to idols and one suffocated by strangling.[xxxiv] And he persuaded them and advised that they should go to the temple of Mecha for prayer.[xxxv] He mandated that they should confess crimes and sins to God, not man. Indeed the reason that drew him to this proposition and the intention were that he should invite men after discrediting idolatry to worship the one God, as he had already learnt by experience in other regions. And he himself as the Messenger of God and Prophet was to obtain a kingdom after the fashion of David and Salomon and all nations were to obey him as king and Prophet and inwardly subdue their necks in all things to him.

This indeed was Mafometus- which means beloved,[xxxvi] not Nicholaus, as rather many falsely claim- when this man came into the world six hundred years after the advent of Jesus Christ, in order to preach to the Arabs, originating as he did from Mecha, which is in Arabia. The manner of his tract, as is contained in the book series, is considered strange by others. For it has not conformed with the Gospel in the manner of speaking or precepts, and it does not concord with the old law except in circumcision, the reviling of flesh of swine and blood and of the suffocated animal and the one dedicated to the idols and in the discussion of divorce. But on the issue of this idea, the Jew differs from the Ismaelite.[xxxvii] Indeed it has been discharged to the Jew that he should repudiate his wife because of the crime and suspicion of adultery lest the innocent blood of the wife be perhaps poured out. But for the Ismaelite, he may divorce her not only for the aforementioned causes, but also because of deformity, sterility , leprosy, mania, the rank smell of the armpits and polyps and if she is displeasing to his eyes and if he abjures her by oath three times in this manner: 'May your side be prohibited to me just like the side of my mother.'[xxxviii] It is not allowed to call her back again after such form of oath unless she is first known by another.[xxxix]

In the manner of speaking it differs from the other scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. For sometimes it speaks like the one who is deranged, but sometimes like one inanimate, sometimes rebuking the idolaters, sometimes threatening death to them, sometimes indeed promising eternal life to the converted, but with disturbed and dissolute style. But the disturbance of this style is excused by several, as they assert that he was invisibly vexed by the angel in mind and soul and was compelled to warn men away from idolatry to worship the one God, his behaviour was akin to that of those suffering an acute illness, delirious in suffering because of the disturbance of the mind. And as he seduced through fantastic delusions the crude people as though he were a magician and sometimes called himself the Messenger of God, and sometimes the prophet of God, and brought for them the readings he fabricated, it happened on account of sins[xl] that then through his fallacious preaching, then through disaster of war, both he and his successors compelled nearly all to his heresy from Aquilo all the way to the Mediterranean Sea and from the Indian regions all the way to the western parts. Oh what pain! Not only did he subjugate these regions, some of which had already undertaken the faith of Jesus Christ, but also his followers occupied some parts of Ispania[xli] through betrayal:[xlii] in these parts many priests once displayed divine obedience to God, now wicked men offer execrable supplications to Mafometus and churches that had once been consecrated by the hands of the bishops have now been reduced to profane temples.

And when the venerable Rodericus,[xliii] with the Lord's inspiration, undertook the seat and island of the archbishop of the metropolis of Toletum and came to know that it was infested by the enemies of the cross and grieved at how his province was held by the infesters, he justifiably saw beforehand that its calamities and persecutions were to be lamented, as per the dictum of Ambrosius[xliv]: 'My arms are my tears.' Because indeed in the places where the assisting pontifices once offered holy sacrifices to Jesus Christ, now the name of the false prophet is extolled, and in the towers of the churches in which the bells once resounded, now certain profane calls deafen the ears of the faithful.

Indeed this overseer- whom the literature of divine science commends, sanctity blesses, virtues approve and decency adorns- lamented the unfortunate outcome of his church. As he was one who knew the New and Old Testaments, he gave the effort and concern with thoroughness, that the book in which the sacrilegious institutes and unusual precepts were contained should be translated and come to the attention of the orthodox, so that those whom he could not assault with corporeal arms, he might at least confound through opposing the unusual institutes. Also in this concern, inflamed with the zeal for the Christian faith, the respected archdeacon Mauricius of the same church of Toletum was not slow, commendable as he was in literature, outstanding in virtues, perspicuous in manners, outstanding in decency. But he worked with equal vow and equal affection, so that this Book should be translated into the Latin language, in order that a number of Sarracens, confounded by the Christians, might be drawn from the detestable institutes of Mafometus to the Catholic faith. So both men- both my master the archbishop of the seat of Toletum, the chief of the lands of Ispania, and the aforementioned archdeacon of the same man- drove me through wholesome admonition and persuaded me by all means that I should not object to undertake the labour of this translation.

But I Marchus the humble canon of the same man, seeking to obey the just vows and desires of both men, put in my efforts in favourable endeavour as quickly as possible and translated the Book of Mafometus at their request and to the benefit of the orthodox faith from the Arabic language into the Latin language, so that their vow and desire might be accomplished.

Indeed the translation of this volume was completed, through the help of the Lord and our Saviour, in the one thousand two hundred and eleventh year from the incarnation of the Lord,[xlv] and in the six hundred and sixth year of the time in which Mafometus the arch heretic began to spew out his heresy to the Arabs.

But Marchus the canon of the church of Tholetum, translated the book of Alchoranus at the wholesome request of Rodericus the venerable archbishop of Tholetum and the persuasion of the master Mauricius the archdeacon of the seat of Toletum, commendable men in merits and sanctity.


Demonstration held in Lyon in support of Muslims after Arson attack

August 16, 2020

People gathered to show support for the Muslim community in Lyon, France, and condemn the hateful acts of arson attack against two mosques.

According to LeParisien, nearly 200 people gathered in front of the Essallem Mosque, in Lyon on Friday to denounce the recent arson attacks on two Muslim places of worship and express their solidarity with the Muslim community.

The Mosque was damaged in an arson attempt on Wednesday night.

The fire destroyed the door to the entrance and the prayer room in the mosque.

The public prosecutor's office of Lyon believes the act was of a criminal origin and an investigation has been launched.

Worshippers attended Friday prayers in a local gym. «Our mosque has burnt, so we did not have other options than to use this gym for our Friday prayers which has been granted by the city. Where are we supposed to pray? We cannot use our mosque,» said one attendee.

The first of the two mosques to be damaged in a fire this week was Omar Mosque of Bron, which occurred on Friday. Both are believed to be deliberate. No arrests have been made yet.



North America


Radical Islamic Cleric, Abdullah Al-Faisal,  Accused Of Recruiting For ISIS Extradited To NYC On Terrorism Charges


Abdullah al-Faisal, a radical Islamic cleric known as Shaikh Faisal, was arraigned in New York City Friday on charges that he supported terrorism by plotting to recruit for the Islamic State. He pleaded not guilty.

The cleric has been linked to other high-profile terrorists, including the attempted Times Square bomber in 2010, the “Underwear Bomber” in 2008 and several other convicted or suspected terrorists in New York, London and elsewhere.

Federal authorities normally lead investigations of international terrorism cases, but Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. and the NYPD led this investigation.

The NYPD's investigation started when al-Faisal tried to recruit an undercover NYPD officer who was posing as a wannabe jihadist in December 2016, according to a news release from the the Manhattan DA's office. The cleric wanted the officer to become a medic for the Islamic State and introduced him to a person based in the group’s stronghold in Raqqa, Syria.

The undercover officer traveled with members of the NYPD Intelligence Bureau to the Middle East in early 2017 and contacted a person who tried to facilitate the officer’s entry into the terrorist group.

Assistant District Attorney David Stuart said in court Friday that al-Faisal used encrypted messages to communicate with prominent leaders of the Islamic State. The Manhattan district attorney described al-Faisal in 2017 as the “fulcrum of a recruitment effort that encouraged individuals to carry out acts of terrorism in the name of the Islamic State.”

Jamaican authorities arrested al-Faisal at his home in St. James, Jamaica, in 2017 as a result of the sting, and was held there until he was flown to NYC to be arraigned this week.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control named al-Faisal as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist after his indictment in 2017, blocking all US persons from engaging with him.

“The indictment and arrest of Shaikh Faisal nearly three years ago put a stop to the prolific, radical Islamic propaganda and terror recruitment alleged in this case – delivering a major blow to ISIS’ overall recruitment capabilities,” Vance said in a statement Friday. “Now, Shaikh Faisal has finally appeared in a Manhattan courtroom to face justice under due process for the crimes of terrorism he is charged with in our indictment.”


CAIR-NY Calls for Hate Crimes Probe and Commission on Human Rights to Raise Awareness on Islamophobia After Muslim Teenager Targeted in Islamophobic Incident

Ayan Ajeen

August 14, 2020

(NEW YORK, NY, 08/14/2020) – The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called on the NYPD to initiate a hate crimes probe after a teenage woman wearing a hijab was assaulted with a bottle of urine and Islamophobic slurs. The Civil Rights organization also called on the Commission on Human Rights to increase awareness on Islamophobia to stem the tide of bias incidents.

The victim of the alleged incident is Somaia Harrati, a 17-year-old American Moroccan Muslim woman that wears hijab, a religious head covering. According to the victim, on August 10 while waiting at a bus stop on Zerga and Westchester in the Bronx, young teenagers began throwing empty bottles at her and the small group of individuals at the bus stop. Ms. Harrati approached the teenagers, who were at the subway platform overlooking the bus stop and asked them to stop their conduct. Once Ms. Harrati returned to the bus stop, the teenagers threw a bottle of Mountain Dew that was filled with urine at her.  The teenagers yelled at Harrati that the bottled was filled with urine. The teenagers yelled Islamphobic and disparaging slurs at Ms. Harrati, including calling her “Bin Laden” and yelling “Allah Akbar” during the incident.  The teenagers also made denigrating comments about Ms. Harrati’s hijab.

While Ms. Harrati called and waited on the NYPD, the teenagers entered the subway and left the scene.  Once police arrived, they informed Ms. Harrati that there was nothing they could do and allegedly did not file a report.  According to Ms. Harrati, the responding officers did not provide her any documentation or a police report number.


CAIR-NY Legal Director Ahmed Mohamed states:

“This incident is very disturbing on many levels. The NYPD needs to explain to the Muslim community and the public why Somaia was not provided a complaint number which indicates that the officers did not write up the incident. It is important for incidents like this to be appropriately classified. Accordingly, the NYPD must initiate a hate crimes probe. The Commission on Human Rights has a role to play in combating hate in our city, and we call on the Commission to raise awareness about Islamophobia and the struggles of Muslim women that chose to wear a hijab. These teenagers need to learn that this conduct is unacceptable and make amends by sincerely apologizing to Somaia and engaging in education about Islam, Islamophobia, and the beauty of the hijab.”

CAIR-NY’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

La misión de CAIR-NY es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.



Arab world


Dubai launches first digital Hijri Islamic year calendar

August 15, 2020

Dubai: Dubai’s Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department (IACAD) on Saturday announced the first electronic launch of the Hijri (Islamic year) calendar for the year 1442 AH (corresponding to 2020-2021 AD). There is no fee for using this service.

The Islamic new year 1442 AH will begin on August 23 this year, marking a national holiday.

The e-calendar will be available through IACAD’s social media platform “as a quick and easy procedure”. It also comes in line with IACAD’s adherence to the COVID-19 precautionary measures to ensure the safety of community members without the need to visit IACAD.

The public can view the daily Hijri calendar for the year 1442 AH through IACAD’s website and through its official social media platforms, in addition to subscribing to IACAD social service starting from the new Hijri year. More information can be sought through its toll free number 800600.


Abu Dhabi mosque wins top global architectural award


Abu Dhabi’s global reputation for excellence was further enhanced this week after the iconic Musalla of Al Hosn site won yet another prestigious award for its world-class architecture.

The Musalla (Mosque) was chosen as the first prize winner of the international architecture A+ Architizer Award in the Internal Design and Creative Ceilings category, triumphing over international projects from around the world.

The Architizer A+ Award, which focuses on promoting and celebrating the year’s best architecture, is the world’s largest architectural awards programme, featuring thousands of contestants every year and attracting more than 400 million visitors to its website.

The award’s mission is to nurture the appreciation of meaningful architecture in the world and to champion those products that are integral to bringing inspiring buildings to life.

It has won the top spot in the cultural category, triumphing over shortlisted competitors from Detroit in the US, Lisbon in Portugal, as well as Beijing and Hefei in China, said a statement from Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi).

The winners for the 2020 edition were selected by a panel of expert judges and rated on parameters that included harnessing cutting-edge approaches, materials and technologies to build safer, cleaner and more resilient spaces for generations to come.

"The Musalla at Al Hosn site has already received global recognition for its creative design, and this latest award from the prestigious Architizer Award further validates DCT Abu Dhabi’s commitment to excellence in our initiatives," said Saood Al Hosani, Acting Undersecretary of DCT Abu Dhabi.

"Al Hosn is a physical manifestation of the emirate’s heritage and its link to the past. The Musalla, however, represents a wonderful symbol of the emirate’s continuous cultural growth, and DCT Abu Dhabi’s commitment to both preserving the past whilst looking to the future," he noted.

The unique and modern architecture of the Musalla aims to complement and enhance the most culturally significant heritage site in Abu Dhabi, whilst promoting it to a larger global audience and making the legacy of the emirate accessible to the world, he added.

The Musalla constitutes an important element within the new cultural landscape that is part of the comprehensive revitalisation masterplan for the heritage site surrounding the Al Hosn area, said Al Hosani.

The prayer hall consists of a series of small, interconnected buildings that form a cave-like structure pushed halfway into the park-scape’s water feature, he explained.

It was the interior design, however, that caught the A+ judges’ eyes, with its suspended ceiling with circular openings punctuating the otherwise closed spaces as skylights, he added.

Combined with pendant lights, they appear as abstract star formations that evoke associations to the region’s heritage of stargazing for navigation.

The concrete ceilings of the entrance hall and ablution spaces are contrasted in the prayer halls by wooden formations with copper-clad insides, which create endless reflections of light linking the ceiling detail back into the overall scheme of the project, much like a fractal, said the top official.

This prestigious A+ accolade bestowed upon the Musalla adds to the previous international award the structure has received when it won the first prize award in the category of Completed Building - Religion at the World Architecture Festival 2019, held in Amsterdam last December, he added



UAE position on Palestine in line with Arab consensus, says diplomat


August 15, 2020

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron hailed in a tweet the “courageous decision” of the United Arab Emirates to sign a peace treaty with Israel, and expressed his wishes that it will contribute to a just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Ali Abdullah Al-Ahmed, the Emirati ambassador to France, told Arab News-French edition that the decision of the Israeli government to annex Palestinian territory had already been taken and had preoccupied the international community since the signing of the Oslo agreement, and until a few years ago this problem was the keystone of the two-state solution.

Al-Ahmed said: “If the Israeli government executes its plans to annex the Palestinian territories then this means that the two-state solution should be forgotten and that we will be back to the situation that prevailed 30 years ago.”

However, he added that “we are convinced that this trilateral agreement between the UAE, Israel and the US as a principal actor, especially with the strengthening of the US presence in our region, will contribute in enhancing peace, security and stability in the region.”

Regarding Israeli declarations that annexation will only be suspended and not canceled, Al-Ahmed said: “There are no relations that begin in an ideal way, yet a step was made today when the Israeli government agreed to freeze annexation. It is definitely not a final solution, we will see what will comes next.”

However, the Emirati diplomat said: “The kick off of relations between the UAE and Israel opens the gates, and what will follow will not be confined to the political level but will equally cover the economic, technological and academic levels. It is highly possible that the tempo of the development of these relations will be faster. We will see.”

For Al-Ahmed, the return of the two-state solution to the negotiating table is undoubtedly an accomplishment. With regards to the rejection by the Palestinian authority of this agreement, the ambassador said: “It would have been more feasible for the Palestinian authority to thank the Emirati diplomacy, after all the decision of the UAE is a sovereign one that was already preceded by Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians themselves.

“We do not negotiate in the name of the Palestinians and it is not up to us to do so. However, our position regarding the Palestinian cause is in line with the Arab consensus regarding Jerusalem and other parameters of Arab unanimity, we adhere to them and we do not relinquish them,” the Emirati ambassador added.

On whether the Emirati embassy in Israel would be located in Jerusalem. Al-Ahmed said: “We are in the beginning of establishing diplomatic relations, however, we will see how all this will progress in the coming days. We are still in the phase of telephone contacts through which the kick off of diplomatic relations that will determine all the details depends. The UAE has put conditions on this agreement and the US has accepted to put the two-state solution back to the table of negotiations.”

On whether the agreement between the UAE and Israel means that the Arab peace plan or peace initiative of late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz is no longer valid, Al-Ahmed said: “Surely not, as the King Abdullah initiative is based on the two-state solution, which is the essence of the initiative.”

On whether the Emirati-Israeli agreement aims at enhancing US President Donald Trump’s re-election chances, Al-Ahmed said that US voters are unconcerned with foreign politics, and this is well known, and that had the US not been the guarantor of this agreement, it would have never been achieved.

If the agreement was aimed at confronting Iran and Turkey in the region, Al-Ahmed said that diplomatic relations between the two countries have many factors, including social, political, and cultural ones, and that the UAE is convinced that Israel can benefit a lot from Arab countries, for the UAE can benefit from relations with Israel.

“We have already cooperated on the medical scientific level regarding the coronavirus pandemic, especially between Emirati and Israeli companies in matters of pharmaceutical research.”

Regarding the Arab country that will come next, the Emirati ambassador believes that if Israel wants to live in peace in the Arab region, and if the Arab states want a prosperous economy, then there should be agreements with other Arab states which serves the interests of both parties.


Young Saudis are ‘choosing self-sufficiency over settling down’


August 16, 2020

JEDDAH: With money pressures weighing heavily on many young Saudis, some are stepping away from the tradition of marrying young until they achieve financial independence.

Financial stability plays a key role in ensuring long-term social and psychological needs are met in marriage, experts say.

The younger generation, facing a world of uncertainty and family pressure to marry early, have begun to rethink this dynamic.

Research claims that waiting until 25 to marry reduces the chance of divorce by up to 50 percent.

Theresa DiDonato, a social psychologist, said: “The idea that getting married older is less predictive of divorce also makes sense: It’s likely that couples are more financially stable and have a clearer sense of self and goals.”

Shellie Warren, a life coach writing for, said money problems are the second-most common cause of divorce after infidelity.

“Everything from different spending habits and financial goals to one spouse making considerably more money than the other, causing a power struggle, can strain a marriage to breaking point,” said Warren.

Many Saudis are now embracing this idea, choosing self-fulfillment and sufficiency over settling down early.

Amjad Al-Harthi, an IT specialist, told Arab News: “Self-sufficiency, fulfillment, financial stability and independence are important to both genders. My significant other isn’t Aladdin’s lamp to fulfill my wishes. I fulfill them myself.” Finances are not the responsibility of the husband alone, she added.

“If he is pressured by those responsibilities, the relationship will be affected.”

Al-Harthi said the material needs of the young generation have increased dramatically. With women having access to greater career and education opportunities, their desire for self-fulfillment has increased.

On top of that, Al-Harthi’s exposure to women who did not work and others who did let her see the pros and cons, and helped her grow past her childlike idea of marriage. “Emotional and financial availability are important. Once you’ve created everything for yourself then you can settle down. You can be financially stable, but not emotionally available, and that’s a really dangerous trap to fall into,” she said.

Hanaa Al-Abdali, 28, said compatibility in her marriage set them up for success.

“Having similar principles, lifestyle and background matters. I work in a very demanding, stressful job and it’s somewhat prestigious. I don’t like to admit but it matters to me to have a partner from a similar circle.”

Al-Abdali, who works at a managing consultancy in Jeddah, said that when she was younger, financial stability did not concern her.

She said people could be delaying marriage because they are unable to find the right person or have yet to meet the financial cost.

“Marriage is expensive. Once you’re past the wedding and all the expenses that come with it, the new responsibilities of rent, bills and so on are costly. Part of the population, especially males, are unwilling to let go of their previous lifestyle — living in their family home, free of bills and responsibilities — because it’s just not worth it for them.

“They could also be worried that a woman will not marry if the husband is not of a certain financial status,” she added.

Waad Abdullah, a 25-year-old account manager at a medical equipment firm, said women feel less inclined to marry early because there are more opportunities for self-sufficiency.

“Women are more involved than previous generations. They know what they want and what they have. They’re aware of their need for an independent income and their own stability,” she told Arab News.

Abdullah said her peers say they have seen the mistakes made by older generations.

“We’ve learned to separate marriage from financial issues. This generation prefers to be financially stable because we’ve witnessed the world economy go up and down. We know that no one is safe, and that some emergencies need us to be aware of our savings and future planning.”

The coronavirus pandemic has only added to that sentiment, with lockdown pressures and financial woes playing a big role in how younger people weigh up financial decisions, save and prepare for emergencies.

“I refer to marriage as a project/institution. In order for it to succeed, it needs all the pillars to be fully realized.

“I cannot commit to this project without knowing I am fully capable of dealing with emergencies and supporting another person emotionally, intellectually, socially and financially. If you’re feeling vulnerable and cannot support yourself, how will you support someone else?” Abdullah said.

Marriage requires both partners’ involvement in expenses, and realistic plans to avoid conflict and misunderstanding, she added.

Hussam Jaber, an IT manager in his early 40s, said financial stability is crucial in marriage, even if both partners come from wealth.

“A man must be independent from his family before he can start his own and save up for a life with his wife.

“Honestly, in this age, wherever you go, women are working. Not to say that women who don’t work can’t get married, but if I were to get married, I wouldn’t mind my wife working. Not to support me, but for herself.”

Times have changed and life has become more financially demanding.

“When I started my first job, I used to fill up my car tank for SR15 ($4). Now you pay up to SR120. Real estate is expensive and if you want to buy a house you need over SR1 million. Paying for that alone would break my back,” Jaber said.


Students in Saudi Arabia to continue remote learning in September

August 15, 2020

JEDDAH: Students of all levels are to resume the new school year through remote learning for a period of seven weeks, the Saudi Minister of Education Dr. Hamad Al-Shaikh has announced.

The decision was made after coordinated discussions with the relevant authorities as the Kingdom is still confronting the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The minister said that an exception will be made for university and technical school students with practical curriculums who are required to attend courses in person.

Due to the pandemic, the Kingdom accelerated the e-learning process through its accredited platforms. Virtual classes will be given through as teachers will be required to attend their virtual classrooms remotely. School curriculums will be provided on the iEN platform, the Kingdom’s national education portal.

The ministry and relevant authorities will assess the situation for the rest of the first semester at the end of the seven weeks and see whether to allow students to return to their classrooms.

According to the ministry, intermediate and high school students will begin their school days at 7am, while elementary schools will begin at 3pm.



Southeast Asia

Pantas initiated by previous govt, Hajiji reminds Shafie

AUGUST 16, 2020

TUARAN: Sabah Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) chief Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Hajiji Haji Noor has again claimed Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal had lied that the land titles handed over during Shafie’s district-to-district tour was an initiative of his Warisan government.

He claimed the land titles handed over by Shafie to the people actually had already been prepared much earlier through the Mobile Native Unit (Pantas) which was initiated by the previous government.

He said Pantas was a noble effort and initiative by the previous government to assist in speeding up the issuance of customary land titles to the people with funding from the Federal Government, following the delays encountered in the surveying process.

According to him, this approach was meant to ensure the issuance of Native Title (NT) land grants for those inhabiting Native Customary Right (NCR) lands could be speeded up to overcome the delays if going through the normal land application process.

“Pantas Programme was an initiative of the previous government with the cooperation from the Federal government for resolving the NCR issue which had been troubling the indigenous people in Sabah for decades.

“Hence, the customary land grants had already been processed through the Pantas programme but which the previous government ran out of time so it was not able to hand it over to the people, and now being handed over by Shafie who then claimed it is the initiative of the Warisan government!This is a lie. Shafie should stop using the customary land title grants to gain the people support, as now that Warisan’s popularity and support from the people are continuously dwindling,”

Hajiji claimed when officiating at the Tuaran Bersatu Armada Conference held at the hall of Linangkit Cultural Village, Kampung Selupoh here, yesterday.

Hajiji, who is also incumbent Sulaman assemblyman, said the people of Sabah were not blind, they knew that Pantas which had been implemented since year 2011 was an initiative of the previous government.He claimed that Shafie is desperate in handing out the said land grants due to the eroding peoples confidence and support towards his Warisan government.

“Why not doing the handing-over of the titles before the DUN was dissolved? Why only now going all-out and so busy doing the handing-over?” he asked.

Former Sabah Lands and Surveys Department (JTU) director, Datuk Safar Untong, was reported in 2018 saying (Pantas) which had been implemented since 2011 had successfully resolved the state NCR surveying work problems for 36,137 hectares of land as at end of 2017.It involved 21,378 land lots at 92 villages in 16 districts throughout the state where mostly are in rural and interior areas like Beaufort, Tuaran, Ranau, Kota Marudu, Sipitang and Semporna.Other districts are Beluran, Kinabatangan, Tongod, Nabawan, Papar, Kudat, Sandakan, Keningau, Lahad Datu and Tawau, where the surveying works were done by 80 surveyor teams appointed by JTU.

Safar said the programme was funded through a special allocation for NCR land from the Federal government which provided RM20 million a year, including for the land surveying for the issuance of group ownership or communal title grant.


'Impossible at the moment': Tourism ministry official on govt 'work from Bali' plans

August 16, 2020

Following news of the government's plans to attract foreigners to work from Bali, an official from the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry said that such a program would be impossible to implement at the moment.

"[Inviting] foreigners to work from Bali would be impossible at the moment as the borders are still closed; they're also unable to exit [their own country]," the ministry's marketing deputy, Nia Niscaya, said during a webinar on Friday as quoted by

Nia added that even foreign embassy employees were not allowed to leave Jakarta. The plan is targeted at government officials and encourages them to have meeting, incentives, convention and exhibition (MICE)-related activities in Bali.

"We were asked by our leaders to conduct activities in tourist destinations, particularly Bali. [It's called] work from Bali as Bali's main local income is tourism," Nia added.

Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan had said during a virtual meeting with the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) on Thursday that regulations for a work from Bali plan was currently in the works.

"Foreigners who are IT experts can work from Bali. It's something we're currently considering; not just considering, but we have pushed [the idea]. We [are currently working on] the regulations," Luhut said as quoted by

However, he added that the government had not set an exact date for the program as it was still focusing on stimulating domestic tourism to help revive the industry.

"We won't be welcoming foreign tourists until the end of this year," Nuhut added.


All COVID-19 patients in W. Java military academy have recovered: TNI

August 16, 2020

All COVID-19 patients from the Army’s Officer Candidate School (Secapa) cluster in Bandung, West Java, have recovered, the Army announced on Saturday.

Army spokesperson Brig. Gen. Nefra Firdaus said all 1,308 COVID-19 patients no longer had the diseases as of Saturday when the swab test results of the last four patients in the cluster were released.

“As of today, everyone has recovered; there are no patients left,” Nefra said as quoted by

The first confirmed COVID-19 cases at the school were detected in July after two cadets sought medical attention for symptoms that were seemingly unrelated to the disease. 

"One of them complained about boils, if I’m not mistaken, some sort of infection. Whereas the other officer [complained] about back problems,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Andika Perkasa said last month.

However, their swab test results came back positive for COVID-19, triggering widespread testing at the school and leading to the discovery of hundreds of more cases.

The cluster resulted in Indonesia’s highest one-day spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases so far, with 2,657 cases.


Sabahans rightful owners of land

AUGUST 16, 2020

BELURAN: Caretaker Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said he did not understand why Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) needed to question his action in giving the people land grants when he was only returning the land to the rightful owners.

“These lands rightfully belong to the Rakyat, but they were denied from them by the previous government for years. Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) has been ensuring that the Rakyat would not have their homes destroyed and their lands taken away from them. We have been giving them land grants since 2018.

“Why are they (PBS) making so much noise about this? Tan Sri Musa Aman (former Chief Minister) had also done this, giving communal grants during every election season. Why was PBS quiet then? If they (Barisan Nasional) could give land grants, why can’t we (Warisan)?

“During the last general election in 2018, BN had openly given land grants to the Rakyat; Warisan has been doing so since early 2019. We don’t want the people to wait any longer.

“In fact, there are more grants that have been approved (to be given to the people) by the Land and Survey Department since Warisan started governing Sabah, and it will be presented to the people soon,” he said.

Shafie said this when commenting on PBS general secretary, Datuk Jahid Jahim’s request for the Malaysia’s Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to investigate Shafie for giving out land grants to the people.

He said that he did not deny that the previous government had also given land titles to the people, but BN was also the ones who destroyed the homes of the villagers and took their lands that was said to be government’s reserve.

“Some of these villagers have waited tens of years for land grants, and they were rejected. However, under Warisan, during the last state assembly sitting, I had announced the abolishment of forest reserve to give the land to deserving villagers.

“It is our responsibility as government to help the Rakyat,” he said.

Shafie who is also Warisan’s president said this to reporters after the Land Grants Presentation Ceremony held here, yesterday.

Earlier, when speaking to the attendees at the ceremony, Shafie said that Warisan in its short governing period in Sabah to date had proven to solve the people’s problems and protect the rights of the Sabahans under Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

“The opposition parties often question Warisan’s contribution to Sabah in its two years of governance with Pakatan Harapan and United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (Upko). They do not see the abolishment of communal grants, (Warisan) solving 17 out of 20 issues in MA63, special grant in National Budget to Sabah and five percent tax on petroleum products.

“These are Warisan’s efforts to develop Sabah; yet they still ask what Warisan has done? We have returned lands to the people, and we have claimed 20 matters in MA63, in which Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had approved 17.

“They (BN) had governed for tens of years, what have they done?” he questioned.

Meanwhile, on another note, Shafie said that Warisan would continue to fight for the 20 percent oil royalty from the Federal Government.

“Efforts to claim Sabah’s rights do not mean that I don’t love the country, but in governing a country, we have to ensure that the hearts and souls of the Rakyat are touched,” he added.



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