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Islamic World News ( 14 Jul 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Indian court allows Tablighi Jamaat Foreigners From 14 Countries To Walk Free On Fine

New Age Islam News Bureau

14 Jul 2020

• Indian court allows Tablighi Jamaat Foreigners From 14 Countries To Walk Free On Fine

• Indian TV Anchors Outrage Over Uyghurs In China, But Stay Quiet About Indian Muslims

• Pakistan Passes Resolution on Teaching Quran With Translation in Universities

• İstanbul Mayor Backs Hagia Sophia Conversion: 'For Me, It's Been A Mosque Since 1453'

• China Sanctions U.S. Lawmakers in Dispute Over Uighur Muslims

• Emirates Mars Mission Poised to Fulfil Arab Hopes and Aspirations

• Croke Park 'Delighted' To Welcome Irish Muslims For Eid Celebrations

• Sudan Introduces Wide-Reaching Reforms to Move Away From Strict Islamist Rule



• Indian court allows Tablighi Jamaat Foreigners From 14 Countries To Walk Free On Fine

• Indian TV Anchors Outrage Over Uyghurs In China, But Stay Quiet About Indian Muslims

• Farooq, Omar Abdullah Move HC Against Detention Of 16 Partymen

• 'GarmHava' Gave Space for Indian Muslims in Mainstream Films: M.S. Sathyu

• Maharashtra: Muslim Leaders Seek Govt Intervention ForBakri Eid Preparations

• I Am Innocent": Kalyan Singh After Babri Mosque Demolition Case Hearing

• Pakistan violates ceasefire along LoC in J&K's Kupwara

• Jaish duo killed, civilian injured in Anantnag encounter



• Pakistan Passes Resolution on Teaching Quran With Translation in Universities

• Toshakhana reference against Nawaz: Court notices displayed at JatiUmra, Model Town

• Infant in Attock diagnosed with poliovirus strain for which vaccinations halted in 2014

• Federal ministers ask PPP chief to answer questions about corruption



• İstanbul Mayor Backs Hagia Sophia Conversion: 'For Me, It's Been A Mosque Since 1453'

• Iran Offers Unconditional Support to Hamas, Islamic Jihad

• Iran Praises Turkey’s Reopening of Hagia Sophia Mosque

• Khamenei Blueprinted the Mullahs’ 25-Year Self-Off Of Iran To China

• Iran: State-Run Media Acknowledge How Mullahs’ Regime Is Using COVID-19 to Quell Restive Society

• The mullahs’ desperate need for execution and suppression


South Asia

• China Sanctions U.S. Lawmakers in Dispute Over Uighur Muslims

• Three killed in Faryab mosque shooting

• Lashing Out: China Targets Ted Cruz Amid Mounting Pressure Over COVID, Hong Kong, Uyghurs

• China Bets on Hainan Duty-Free Shopping Mecca to Boost Spending At Home

• ADB-Funded Dev in Bangladesh: 40 projects hit by pandemic

• U.S. soldier dies of non-combat related incident in South of Afghanistan

• The paradoxical deal of US, Taliban and the Afghan government


Arab world

• Emirates Mars Mission Poised to Fulfil Arab Hopes and Aspirations

• Eid Prayers Allowed Only in Mosques, Not in Open Grounds in Saudi Arabia

• New fines for firms violating labour rights in Saudi Arabia

• MCD region received $70 bln to address COVID-19 crisis, mostly went to Arab countries: IMF’s Jihad Azour

• Sheikh Zayed mosque centre offers sign language tour to visitors

• Egypt condemns latest Houthi missile attack on Saudi Arabia



• Croke Park 'Delighted' To Welcome Irish Muslims For Eid Celebrations

• Russia's security forces foils Daesh terror plots

• German MP urges end to EU-Turkey accession talks in response to converting Hagia Sophia into mosque

• Major London mosques to reopen on July 25

• Muslim Aid chief executive steps down after four years

• Johnson makes face coverings compulsory in shops in England



• Sudan Introduces Wide-Reaching Reforms to Move Away From Strict Islamist Rule

• South African Muslims hail Turkey's Hagia Sophia move

• Mahmoud Dicko, The Populist Imam Challenging Mali’s President Keita

• Accused Islamist Extremist Mali War Crimes Trial Set to Start Tuesday in ICC

• 12 accused walk free as Verulam mosque bombing case struck from roll

• Tunisia’s President Saied rejects Islamist Ennahda’s call for government change

• Tunisia PM will reshuffle cabinet amid row with moderate Islamist Ennahda party


Southeast Asia

• Zuraida: Third Vote in Malaysia Would Cost RM2m Per Local Council, RM308m For All

• Speaker tells Baling MP to apologise, withdraw ‘gelap’ and ‘pakaibedak’ remarks

• Ex-PKR MPs seated with Bersatu reps in Parliament for ‘strategic reasons’, says Zuraida

• Malaysia does not give citizenship easily, says Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin


North America

• Islamic Groups Collaborate to Fight Against Racism After Death OfGeorge Floyd

• Election Advisory: CAIR Urges Muslim Voters in Alabama, Maine and Texas Muslims to Participate in State Elections Tomorrow

• CAIR-MI Seeks Hate Crime Probe of Warren Mosque Vandalism

• Coronavirus: California shuts bars, indoor dining and most gyms and churches

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Indian court allows Tablighi Jamaat Foreigners From 14 Countries To Walk Free On Fine

Jul 13, 2020

 A Delhi court Saturday granted bail to 75 foreign nationals from Thailand and Nepal, who were charge-sheeted for attending a Tablighi Jamaat congregation here allegedly in violation of visa norms, indulging in missionary activities illegally and violating government guidelines issued in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.


NEW DELHI: A Delhi court Monday allowed foreign nationals from 14 countries to walk free on payment of different fines, after they accepted mild charges, under the plea bargain process, related to various violations including visa norms while attending Tablighi Jamaat congregation here during the Covid-19 lockdown, a lawyer said.

Metropolitan Magistrate Himanshu allowed the foreign nationals from Algeria, Belgium, UK, Egypt and Philippines to walk free on payment of a fine of Rs, 10,000 each.

Another Metropolitan Magistrate Aashish Gupta allowed five Sudanese nationals to walk free on payment of a fine of 5000 each.

Metropolitan Magistrate Paras Dalal allowed foreigners from China, Morocco , Ukraine, Ethiopia, Fiji, Australia, Brazil, Afghanistan were allowed to walk free on payment of a fine of 5000 each.

They were allowed to walk free after the Sub-divisional magistrate of Lajpat Nagar, who was the complainant in the case, Additional commissioner of Police of Lajpat Nagar, Inspector of Nizamuddin said they have no objection to their plea.

However, two Sudanese nationals, foreigners from Jordan, US, Russia, Kazakhstan and one Overseas Citizen of India from UK did not plead guilty to milder charges and claimed trial, said advocates Ashima Mandla, Mandakini Singh, Fahim Khan and Ahhmed Khan, representing them.

The Criminal Procedure of Code allows plea bargaining for cases where the maximum punishment is imprisonment for seven years, where offences don't affect the socio-economic conditions of the society and when the offences are not committed against a woman or a child below 14 years.

They were charge sheeted for attending the religious congregation at Nizamuddin Markaz event in the national capital by allegedly violating visa conditions, indulging in missionary activities illegally and violating government guidelines, issued in the wake of Covid-19 outbreak in the country.



Indian TV Anchors Outrage Over Uyghurs In China, But Stay Quiet About Indian Muslims


13 July, 2020

 Uyghur Muslim women in the Grand Bazaar in Kashgar, Xinjiang, China | Flickr/David Stanley


China ko Musalmano se itninafratkyunhai (Why does China hate Muslims so much)?” asked India TV in the first week of July. The anchor was referring to the atrocities committed by the Chinese Communist Party against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province, China. The question, which has been asked by many TV anchors in the past week, is legitimate, and the answer is a rather harrowing one.

But what must be noted is that these very TV channels have for long remained tightlipped about the atrocities committed against Muslims in India.

But most Indian TV channels have always preferred zooming into the atrocities against Muslims in Xinjiang. It again turned to the plight of the Uyghur Muslims as China clashed with India at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The latest coping mechanism of chest-thumping channels after having cheered Chinese app ban seems to be the re-focus on Uyghurs in China.

In a ‘special investigation’ conducted by India Today last week, anchor Rahul Kanwal brought his viewers satellite images from ‘concentration camps’ in China’s Xinjiang province. Kanwal explained that these camps had proliferated at a ‘mind-boggling pace’.

Keeping aside the findings of this investigation, what stands to be the most ‘mind-boggling’ fact is the Indian media’s double standards.

Hypocrisy died a new death when India TV’s anchor Ajay Kumar said, “China kemusalmano ko dharmic azaadinahihai,” (China’s Muslims don’t have religious freedom).

While Muslims in India do have religious freedom, many fear for their safety in these polarised times — something that most Indian TV channels conveniently choose to not document.

Kumar found it easier to pin the blame of not speaking up for the Uyghurs on Pakistan — “Pakistan Uyghur Muslim kemasle par virodhnahikarta” (Pakistan doesn’t object to the atrocities perpetrated on Uyghur Muslims). Isn’t that just convenient?

In a brazen attempt to compare Chinese President Xi Jinping to Adolf Hitler, India Today chose to call it ‘Xi-tler’s demographic genocide of Uyghur Muslims’. Rahul Kanwal labelled these atrocities as the ‘greatest genocide of 21st century’. Such condemnations have not been used for any wrongs in India by these TV channels. Be it excesses in Jammu and Kashmir or lynchings or daily stigmatization of Muslims or discriminatory laws like the CAA.

The idea is not to compare the cruelties faced by Uyghur Muslims to the plight of Indian Muslims. Rather it is a call to question and investigate oppression of minorities everywhere. And we should start with our own country.

The relevance and importance of a news ‘peg’ is journalism 101. The peg is essentially the hook behind each story, that determines how newsworthy something is. There is considerable merit behind exploring why a story is chosen to be told at a certain point of time. It reveals the politics behind an otherwise ‘objective’ report or news story.

The Uyghur Muslims story is not new. There have been several terrifying accounts of the hardships faced by the Uyghurs at the hands of the Chinese government. Over one million Uyghurs have reportedly been detained in these detention camps for apparent ‘re-education’. Among the first reports of this crackdown on Uyghur Muslims dates back to 2018. And there have been many gruesome developments since then — from getting detained for wearing a veil or browsing foreign websites, to forced sterilisation.

International media has been pretty consistent in reporting on this issue. Which brings us to the question of why the Indian media is covering the Uyghur story again now. It seems like no coincidence that our media is sensationalising an issue that is a sore spot for China, a country that India currently stands at loggerheads with. It is an outright attempt to take away attention from our own problems — the mounting coronavirus cases, the long road to solving the China border issue, and our government’s silence on whether China has taken Indian land or not.

If the discrimination against an ethnic minority in China is so intolerable to the Indian media, what is stopping them from speaking up about the oppression of Muslims in India today?

The Indian media blames Muslims for all issues, from violent riots to spreading Covid-19. Muslims in the country today have felt targeted by the current political dispensation.

This must haunt news anchors when they describe detention camps in Xinjiang, China. Especially when there are detention centres coming up in Assam.

The job of the media is to continuously question — things happening at home and the world. But to mostly peddle one side of the story in India and accuse China is not fair journalism.

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Pakistan passes resolution on teaching Quran with translation in universities

July 14, 2020

 Pakistan’s National Assembly unanimously passed a resolution for teaching the Holy Quran with translation in universities across the country.


Pakistan’s National Assembly (the lower house of the parliament) on Monday unanimously passed a resolution for teaching the Holy Quran with translation in universities across the country.

According to details, a meeting of the National Assembly was held under the chairmanship of Speaker AsadQaiser in which Minister Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan presented a resolution in this regard.

According to the text of the resolution, the Quran should be taught with translation in universities of those provinces which currently do not do so.

The resolution says that reading the Urdu translation of Holy Quran would open new avenues of knowledge for the upcoming generations. The resolution was passed unanimously through the NA.

It may be recalled that recently, Punjab decided to teach the Holy Quran with translation in its universities and imposed the condition of learning Quran with translation for obtaining a university degree.


İstanbul Mayor backs Hagia Sophia conversion: 'For me, it's been a mosque since 1453'

13 July 2020

İstanbul Mayor Ekremİmamoğlu has announced support for the government's decision to convert the Hagia Sophia museum into a mosque.

"In my mind and conscience, Hagia Sophia has been a mosque since 1453," he told reporters at the construction site of a funicular railway, referring to the Ottoman Empire's takeover of İstanbul.

After a Council of State decision on Friday (July 10) annulling a Council of Ministers decree in 1934 to convert the then mosque into a museum, President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that Hagia Sophia would reopen as a mosque on July 24.

İmamoğlu, a member of the secularist Republican People's Party (CHP), further said that he had always called Hagia Sophia a mosque.

He also noted that a part of it the call for prayers had been recited from one of the minarets for 30 years and Muslims had been allowed to pray in a prayer room in Hagia Sophia.

What needed to be questioned was not whether the decision was good or bad, but Erdoğan's remarks a year ago against the conversion of the monument, he said, without mentioning the President's name.

At a rally last year, Erdoğan said the price of converting Hagia Sophia into a mosque would be very heavy and said, "Do those who say [Hagia Sophia should be reopened as a mosque] think about what would happen to thousands of mosques around the world?"


China sanctions U.S. lawmakers in dispute over Uighur Muslims

JULY 13, 2020

 İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu and Erdoğan


BEIJING (Reuters) - China announced “corresponding sanctions” against the United States on Monday after Washington penalized senior Chinese officials over the treatment of Uighur Muslims in its Xinjiang region.

China’s move comes as relations between the world’s two biggest economic powerhouses have slumped over disagreements on issues including the coronavirus pandemic, trade, Huawei and a sweeping national security law imposed on Hong Kong.

The sanctions targeted Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Representative Chris Smith, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback and the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China.

Rubio, Cruz and Smith have all sponsored legislation over human rights issues in China, and such measures have received strong support in the U.S. Congress from members of both parties. Rubio, Cruz and Smith are members of President Donald Trump’s Republican Party.

“The U.S. actions seriously interfere in China’s internal affairs, seriously violate the basic norms of international relations and seriously damage Sino-U.S. relations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters.

U.N. experts and activists say at least a million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims are held in detention centres in Xinjiang. China describes them as training centres helping stamp out terrorism and extremism and giving people new skills.

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China monitors human rights and the rule of law and submits an annual report to Trump and Congress. Rubio is a co-chairman.

The lawmakers expressed no concern about the sanctions. Rubio made light of them on Twitter, asking, “I guess they don’t like me?”

Washington’s measures against Chinese officials, including the Communist Party secretary of Xinjiang, involve freezing U.S. assets, travel bans and prohibiting Americans from doing business with them.


Emirates Mars Mission poised to fulfil Arab hopes and aspirations


July 13, 2020

 DUBAI: Our fascination with space knows no bounds. A desire to unlock the secrets and mysteries of the universe has for decades encouraged nations to push the ever-advancing boundaries of scientific and technical knowledge as they strive to explore the unknown.

There have been a number of historic landmarks along the way, including the successful launch of the Sputnik 1 satellite in 1957, Yuri Gargarin’s orbit of the Earth in 1961, and the first Moon landing in 1969.

To this illustrious list we can soon add the first interplanetary expedition by an Arab country, as the UAE begins the final countdown to the launch on July 15 of the Emirates Mars Mission.

The unmanned probe, called Hope, is scheduled to lift off from Tanegashima Space Center in Japan at precisely 00:51:27 UAE time as it begins its 495 million kilometer journey to the Red Planet.

“The cost of the Hope Mars Mission [has] reached $200 million, which is considered among the lowest in the world when compared with similar programs,” Mohammad Al-Gergawi, minister for cabinet affairs and the future of the UAE said in a message posted on Twitter by the Prime Minister’s Office.

The Hope Probe, which will be launched by a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H2A rocket, weighs 289 tonnes and is 53 meters tall. It is expected to enter orbit around Mars in Feb. 2021, in time for the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE.

“This mission embodies the [UAE’s] aspirations, sends a positive message to the world and demonstrates the importance of carrying on unabated despite barriers and challenges,” said Sarah Al-Amiri, minister of state for advanced sciences and the Emirates Mars Mission’s deputy project manager.

This historic moment for the region follows decades of preparations and work to achieve a grand vision set out in the 1970s by the UAE’s founder, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nayhan. His interest in space was triggered by a meeting in 1976 with NASA astronauts who had flown in a number of Apollo missions to the moon.

US President Richard Nixon also presented Sheikh Zayed with a gift of a moon rock collected from the Taurus-Littrow Valley during the 1972 Apollo 17 mission. That relic, from what remains the last moon landing to date, is on display in Al-Ain Museum.

Soon after, Sheikh Zayed sent a clear message to his people, and the world, that Emirati curiosity about, and ambitions for, space exploration would know no boundaries. So began the country’s journey into space.

In 2006, the UAE began collaborating closely with universities and space agencies around the world to establish knowledge-transfer programs, with the goal of one day sending a spacecraft to Mars.

However, it was not until the UAE Space Agency was formed in 2014 that the world really began to sit up and take notice of the country’s ambitious space-exploration plans.

In 2017, 34-year-old military pilot Hazza Al-Mansouri was one of two people selected from 4,000 applicants to join the agency’s inaugural astronaut corps.

After rigorous mental and physical tests, he trained in Russia as a part of an agreement between the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center and the Russian space agency, Roscosmos.

The Hope Probe, which will be launched by a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H2A rocket, weighs 289 tonnes and is 53 meters tall. (Supplied)

The UAE’s first astronaut joined the crew of a Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft that took off on Sept. 25, 2019, bound for the International Space Station.

Al-Mansouri’s eight-day mission ended on Oct. 2, when he landed safely in Kazakhstan, after which he proudly stated that he had returned with “Sheikh Zayed’s space mission achieved.”

Thirty-four years earlier, in June 1985, Royal Saudi Air Force pilot Prince Sultan bin Salman became the first Muslim and Arab in space when flew on the STS-51-G mission of the US Space Shuttle Discovery. He was also the first member of a royal family in space and, at the age of 28, the youngest person to fly on the space shuttle.

Two years later, Syrian military aviator Mohammed Faris joined the Soviet Interkosmos training program and flew as a research cosmonaut on the Soyouz TM-3 mission to the Mir space station. He spent seven days, 23 hours and 5 minutes in space.

Now, 51 years after the first moon landing, a team of Emiratis is leading a mission to the Red Planet and will supervise every aspect of the Hope Probe, a task that has been complicated by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, the mission team has been divided into three groups, given the challenges of transportation, travel, logistics and the need to follow proper health precautions.

51 years after the first moon landing, a team of Emiratis is leading a mission to the Red Planet and will supervise every aspect of the Hope Probe. (Supplied)

The members of the first group arrived in Japan on April 6, where they completed a mandatory quarantine and health tests. The second team followed on April 21. The third team will remain in the UAE, providing back-up and support for the mission.

To ease concerns about the safety of a Mars mission during the pandemic, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, reviewed the final preparations for the mission on July 1.

He confirmed the launch date and described the mission as “an accomplishment for every Arab and a source of pride for every Emirati.”

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Ruler of Dubai takes part in a ceremony to unveil UAE's Mars Mission on May 6, 2015 in Dubai. (AFP/File Photo)

On his part, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al-Maktoum, crown prince of Dubai, said: “Hope Probe highlights our national treasure of hundreds of young Emirati engineers and experts ... . (It) represents a message of hope and optimism to mankind.”

Suhail Al-Dhafri, Emirates Mars Mission deputy project manager and spacecraft lead, said that the probe has undergone a series of tests since its arrival at Tanegashima Space Center in April.

Conducted over 50 working days, they included functional tests of spacecraft subsystems such as electrical power, communications, altitude control, command and control, propulsion, thermal control and software systems.

“The final checks are important steps to ensure that all systems are functioning and meeting the requirements before the fueling,” he said. “Getting these parameters are vital prior to getting the probe ready for the liftoff as per our launch window.”

After it enters orbit around Mars, the Hope Probe will study the planet’s daily and seasonal cycles, along with the erosion of the Martian atmosphere, a process that leaves the planet waterless and ill-suited to life.

The UAE will share the data it collects with more than 200 academic and scientific institutions around the world free of charge.

The UAE has plans to establish the first human settlement on Mars by 2117. This month, Sheikh Mohammed announced the launch of the Arab Space Pioneers program, which aims to advance Arab expertise in space science and technologies.

As part of a three-year program, young Arab researchers, scientists, inventors and creative talents will learn the skills required for a career in the expanding space sector.

The UAE promises to keep the world on its toes with its aim of establishing the first inhabitable human settlement on Mars by 2117 — one that can only be achieved through the expertise and determination of future generations.


Croke Park 'delighted' to welcome Irish Muslims for Eid celebrations

Gabija Gataveckaite

July 14 2020

The Muslim celebration of Eid al-Adha will take place at Croke Park stadium later this month, it has been confirmed.

Because the festival is based on moon-sighting, Eid is currently scheduled to take place on July 31 or August 1, with the exact date to be confirmed on July 21.

Muslim leader Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri said around 500 people are expected to attend.

"There is no other venue that could accommodate 500 Muslims while social-distancing is being implemented that is as iconic and as symbolic as Croke Park," he said.

"We are delighted to welcome members of the Muslim Community to Croke Park to mark Eid al-Adha, an important date in the Muslim calendar," he said.

"I believe the staging of this celebration fully supports our commitment to inclusion and a GAA welcome linked to our belief that it's 'Where We All Belong'.

"I wish everyone involved in the occasion an enjoyable visit to Croke Park, as it once again shows its suitability and versatility in welcoming visitors to the venue for a wide variety of different events."

Speaking on behalf of the organisers, the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council, chairperson Dr Al-Qadri said Croke Park as a venue will be "symbolic" to the Irish Muslim community.

"The choice of Croke Park as a venue for the Eid al-Adha celebration will be symbolic to Irish Muslims in their dual identity as being both Irish and Muslim, and the significance that Croke Park and the GAA have in Irish history," he said.

"The historic Muslim celebration of Eid al-Adha at Croke Park this year will be a positive representation of Ireland's growing diversity of many different faiths and communities," he said.


Sudan Introduces Wide-Reaching Reforms To Move Away From Strict Islamist Rule

July 13, 2020

Sudan has upended decades of strict Islamist governance by spiking apostasy laws and making female genital mutilation illegal. In addition, it will allow non-Muslims to drink alcohol.

Sudan's transitional government has announced wide-reaching reforms as it works to move away from strict Islamist rule. Among the new changes, public flogging will be banned, and non-Muslims will be allowed to drink alcohol. The move comes a year after the overthrow of Sudan's long-serving autocrat. NPR's Eyder Peralta joins us now to talk about those reforms.

PERALTA: So there's a few of them. One of them removes the death penalty for renouncing the Islamic faith or any of its core tenets. And now in Sudan, non-Muslims are allowed to legally drink alcohol. There were also a few changes to do with women. Female genital mutilation, FGM, has been outlawed. And Sudanese women will no longer need a permit from a male family member to travel with their children.

And these are indeed dramatic changes. Remember, sharia law was instituted in the early '80s in Sudan. And over the years, morality police have been known to publicly flog women for really small things like wearing pants or not wearing a veil. So these reforms are a big deal.

PERALTA: So I mean, these were reforms that were promised more than a year ago when hundreds of thousands of people went out to the streets to protest and Omar al-Bashir was ousted by his military.

MCCAMMON: As we've mentioned, Sudan's longtime ruler was overthrown after months of popular protests. He's gone, but the protests are continuing. What do the protesters want?

PERALTA: So they want this transitional government to hurry up. Look. I was in Sudan just after Omar al-Bashir was ousted, and the atmosphere was exhilarating. At this huge sit-in in front of the military headquarters in Khartoum, everything seemed possible. Women and men were hanging out together. Women were leading protests. Bob Marley was playing, and you could smell marijuana - pot everywhere. This place was a vision of a new Sudan. But security forces broke it up violently. They killed more than a hundred people.

Today I called AricheSarrukh (ph). She's a Sudanese filmmaker who used to hang out at the sit-in. And she says that dream of a new Sudan is still there. It's been slow, and it's been difficult. But the reforms that were just announced, she says - they are a window into that world. Let's listen.

ARICHE SARRUKH: I would say this is a window, but you - I can't deny that we have ambitions that it could sort of evolve into becoming a door and then a gate, you know, not just this little window.

PERALTA: It's been tough. Sudan is a huge country with so many problems. You have tensions between the more liberal civilians and the conservative military. And then you have this unrest in the western region of Sudan. The government has been trying to come to some peace agreement with different rebels, but that has been elusive. And just today, we are getting word that protesters were killed in Darfur. They had set up a sit-in calling for an end to the violence in the region. And according to activists, military militias moved in, and they killed 13 protesters.




Farooq, Omar Abdullah move HC against detention of 16 partymen

Jul 13, 2020

SRINAGAR: National Conference (NC) president and Srinagar MP Dr Farooq Abdullah, and his son and party vice-president Omar Abdullah on Monday filed a habeas corpus petition in the high court (HC) challenging the “unconstitutional and illegal” house detention of 16 NC functionaries.

According to a party statement, Farooq has filed a petition for the release of Ali Mohammad Sagar, Abdul Rahim Rather, Nasir Aslam Wani, Aga Syed Mehmood, Mohammad Khalil Bandh, Irfan Shah and Sahmeema Firdous; while Omar has challenged the detention of Mohammad Shafi Uri, Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi, Chaudhary Mohammad Ramzaan, Mubarak Gul, Dr Bashir Veeri, Abdul Majeed Larmi, Basharat Bukhari, Saifudin Bhat Shutru, and Mohammad Shafi through their counsel lawyer Shariq Reyaz.

NC spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar said the decision to move the HC was taken as a last resort to provide relief to the party functionaries who have been under house arrest/detention after being shifted there from detention centres following the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A in August last year, which paved the way for the reorganization of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.

“Shifting of the detainees from detention centres to their homes only characterized revolving-door detention practice. Quashing of the Public Safety Act (PSA) on party general secretary Haji Ali Muhammad Sagar underscored the indefensible nature of all detentions in the court of law, leading us to believe that the administration will release all the detainees in the absence of any convincing reason behind it. Unfortunately, that was not to be. The house detentions without any administrative orders are unlawful, undermining due respect to human rights and individual liberty,” Nabi said.

“We are hopeful that the court will come to the rescue of our colleagues, who have been suffering for no fault ever since the abrogation of provisions of Art 370, Art 35A on August 5, 2019. This was the only recourse left to us. We are hopeful that the court will uphold the civil liberties of our colleagues, most of whom have not been keeping well,” he added.


'GarmHava' Gave Space for Indian Muslims in Mainstream Films: M.S. Sathyu

Sidharth Bhatia

July 14, 2020

In 1974, the film GarmHava was released and won accolades not only in India but also abroad. It was a small budget film part-funded by the government’s Film Finance Corporation. A searing look at how the Partition broke up many Muslim families – it has left a lasting impact on Indian cinema.

Starring stalwarts like Balraj Sahni, Shaukat Azmi, Farooq Shaikh, Jalal Agha, Gita Siddharth, it tells the story of the Mirza family of Agra which is divided on the issue of moving to the newly formed country of Pakistan. The script was written by Shama Zaidi and Kaifi Azmi. It is now considered the best ever film on the Partition. GarmHava was the first film made by M.S. Sathyu and won the national award. Sathyu received the Padma Shri in 1975.

On July 6, 2020, he spoke to The Wire‘s Sidharth Bhatia about his early career as an art director and how GarmHava came to be made in a video interview. The following is a transcript of the interview, edited lightly for clarity and style.

Obviously, there are a lot of fans out there of your films and your masterpiece GarmHava. So we thought it would be a good opportunity to talk to you about your career, about that film and about what’s going on in the country; what was going on then. People are not very aware of your career before that, but you were a stalwart in theatre. You were an assistant director, you were an art director and you won a Filmfare Award. So, tell us about the early parts of your career from the 1950s.

Well, I started my career in Bombay, although I was studying in Bangalore before that. I left my studies and went to Bombay in 1952 looking for an opportunity to work in films. For nearly four years, I was unable to get any proper job anywhere in any of the film industry outlets.

Then waited and did theatre work to an extent. I worked with various theatre people. I had a problem with language because I didn’t speak any of the local languages of Bombay like Marathi, Gujarati or Hindi. I only knew Kannada and English and a bit of Tamil, which is spoken in my home. It was a bit of a problem at the time and I didn’t know how to utilise my time in the theatre. So, I concentrated basically on the technical aspects of theatre. I started working backstage and doing lighting, makeup and designing. That’s how I started, and slowly I learnt the local languages. I then shifted my activity.

I worked with the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) for quite a long time and directed plays. I was unable to get an opening in films but later on, it just happened that Chetan Anand came to know about me and he was making a film called Anjali on 2500 years of the Buddha. It was about Anand, a disciple of Buddha, on whose life the film was being made. [Chetan Anand] called me over and asked me to work as an assistant director.

Back then, I did not know what an assistant director’s job is. I said, “Why don’t you just make me a designer? I would rather design the sets and the costumes for a period film like this.” But he said no, he had an art director. So he said, “Don’t worry about anything. If you know anything that’s good enough. You can read the script, it will be in English. You’ll work as an assistant.” And he himself was acting in the film in the main lead. As an assistant director for the first time, I started calling the shots. That is very strange, very few get an opportunity to do that.

I wanted to just go back a bit. What was the atmosphere in IPTA like in the early 1950s? We had just achieved independence and it was quite at its peak in those days, if I recall.

The activity was very less in the IPTA. They take hardly six months to do a play and things like that. Very few shows were being done. So, we started reviving the whole thing. Earlier it was very active. The Bombay group was one of the most active theatre groups but there was a lack of leadership, there was a lack of activity and almost nothing was happening really. For a theatre, the most important thing is to always be in contact with the audience. It’s very important to build an audience and have a regular number of shows and things like that. That was not happening. Later on, after Ghalib’s centenary, we did a play called AakhriShama. That revived IPTA, in a way. We opened the play in Delhi at the Red Fort. Diwan-i-Aam (Red Fort) was the place chosen to do the play. It was kind of a mushaira (poetry symposium) of that period. It was after nearly a hundred years that the whole mushaira was enacted with Ghalib as the central figure. That brought back activity regularly and then a lot of shows took place, all over the country. Then the other plays started happening.

Yeah, you see, Chetan sahab was not totally a commercial filmmaker. He had made films like Neecha Nagar for that. He was a person who knew theatre and he started a kind of middle path, I should say. Neither commercial nor too intellectual. He had started a new kind of theatre – more realistic in approach.

In 1962, when the Chinese aggression took place, we were all very angry. Almost the entire country was angry with China and Zhou Enlai. Chetan Anand came to Delhi and he met me – I was working in a newspaper office which was publishing Link and the Patriot – a tabloid. I was working there. And then he said, he is making a war-film (Haqeeqat) and “Would you like to join?” I said, “Yes, certainly.”

It was a challenge to me, as an art director, to recreate the atmosphere of Ladakh inside his studio. That was a big challenge. It, ultimately, gave me a Filmfare Award. I was an unknown person at the time. They didn’t know who I was. To me, also, it was new. For the first time, I was doing art direction in a film.

But, if somebody made a film today it would be slightly different from Haqeeqat (1964). It would be very nationalistic and very jingoistic, wouldn’t it? The atmosphere in the country has also changed.

Yeah, we have also experienced it. A lot of war films were made in India after Haqeeqat. During the first rule of the BJP, for example. In the name of patriotism, they made anti-Pakistani films, you know. And when you make an anti-Pakistani film, [the general public can perceive it as] anti-Indian Muslim – which is a very dangerous area. To deal with war is not easy. You have to be politically correct. I see that films like Border, Refugee and Farz and things like that – such films they were, no doubt, made with a lot of effort. They try to bring in reality in the war films. But it was the wrong approach. You can’t make an anti-Pakistani film because there are more Muslims in India than in Pakistan.

So this actually brings us very well to GarmHava. Now before we get on to the film, I just wanted to know – was it difficult to raise finance and get permissions? It’s quite a stinging story. It reminds a country what we’ve become, what we were at the time. How was it to try and set up the film?

Actually, it all happened by accident. GarmHava was not intended to be made at all. I had approached the Indian Finance Corporation and (B.K.) Karanjiasahab read the script (which I wanted to make). But then he said, “This is a very negative kind of story. Why don’t you give something else? Some other script? We would like to finance.” Then, Shama, my wife, who was writing the script, went to IsmatChughtai and started talking about making a film. She narrated some stories from the days of the Partition which had happened in her own home in Uttar Pradesh. That’s how GarmHava was thought of and then by accident, it was made. And with a lot of theatre people – a lot of theatre actors acted in this film.

If I say, it is almost like an IPTA film, I wouldn’t be wrong. It was an IPTA film in a way. It became a success. Although, I had a lot of problems getting a censor certificate. It took nearly 11 months to get a censor certificate.

There were a lot of apprehensions. They were unsure of – because, you know, the underdog – the Muslim – it is about them. And it is a delicate matter. How the nation would react to a thing like that was a question. It was very doubtful for the censor board to pass judgement on that. They were unsure. So, they delayed my certificate. Ultimately, I used a lot of influence. I knew Indira Gandhi personally. I knew Inder Kumar Gujralsahab personally – who was the minister of information at the time. When I showed them the film, I got through. A lot of politicians had seen the film by the time it was released. The Congress party saw it and then the opposition saw it. There was a lot of apprehension at the time.

No doubt, I had to spend much more. Nearly Rs 12-15 lakh. I think I spent it by borrowing money from my friends at that time. That’s how the film was made and released all over the world. But we had a lot of problems because of the delay in getting the censorship. All my distributors walked out.

The actual premiere of GarmHava took place in Paris. The very first public show of the film was in Paris. Then, it got selected for the Cannes festival. It was recommended by a critic. It was shown at the main festival itself. There people from the Academy had come to see films and they selected GarmHava for the non-English language film – for the Oscar. That by itself became sort of history, you know.

I have to ask because this is a very important question for me and I’m sure people want to know about it. Was Balraj Sahni always in your mind for the role? He played the best role of his life in this film.

Balraj Sahni and I were in the theatre together. I had worked for his Juhu Art Theatre and he was also in IPTA. He acted in my play – AakhriShama as Ghalib. There was a close association in a way and I admire his capability. Ideologically also, he was one with us. All these things helped. It was automatic for me to think of him as the lead person in the film.

Haan, the mother was a big problem actually. Begum Akhtar had agreed to do that role. But then at the last minute – when we were shooting in Agra – I got a message from her that she is unable to come because her husband doesn’t want her to act in films, although she had a film career much earlier. During Mehboob Khan’s film, she had acted. But then, I had to look for somebody in Agra.

We found this old lady. Her name was Badar Begum. She looked the part, although she was not an actress of any kind. She had only come to Bombay when she was about 16-17 years old to become an actress. But she couldn’t get an opportunity and had gone back to Agra. She had become a prostitute. When we went to meet her, she was running a brothel in Agra. But when I asked her if she would do the role and that I’m shooting in (R.S. Lal) Mathur’s house – in the haveli. I asked her if she would join the troupe. She started crying.

It’s certainly a very poignant story. Now, while making it, many of the actors must have remembered their own lives in 1947, the lives of their families and people’s own histories about one person going there, one not going there. It must have touched a lot of people even while making it. I mean, the impact is so great on the audience.

Indian films which represented the Muslim lives showed a decadent life of nawabs, tawaifs, dancing girls and things like that. They never approached them as part of the Indian masses. That approach, I think, for the first time ever happened in GarmHava. We became a part of the mainstream – which was not there before. They made a lot of films, except perhaps a few. For example, the representation of Muslims in V. Shantaram’sPadosi. There was a little bit of that but a real effort to show them as part of the Indian population was never there.

The film has some magnificent scenes. The two scenes that haunt me include when Balraj Sahni walks into a room and sees his daughter lying there. We know there is a real-life history behind that and he must have been really shattered. The other is him telling the mother, “Let’s go.” And she tells him, “I’m never going to leave this house.” He says, “Don’t be stubborn.” You can see the man is broken. These two scenes – can you elaborate on their development?

The scene where his daughter is dead – she has died by suicide. It was a bit cruel of me for him. This is exactly what had happened in his own life. His daughter had died by suicide. He was away somewhere in Madhya Pradesh canvassing for the Congress party for elections. This thing happened in Bombay.

When we traced, ultimately, the chief minister there – he gave a private, small aircraft on which Balraj came to Santacruz airport. I went to receive him there in my car and took him home. He walked straight up to Shabnam’s room, stood there at the door and saw his daughter dead, lying on the floor. By then, we had already got the coroner’s certificate because we didn’t want to wait for Balraj. In exactly the same way, I’ve shot the scene in GarmHava.

He’s going up the staircase, opening the door and seeing the body of his daughter. There also, to explain the scene to him and what he should do – it was very difficult. All through I had to say, “It is Geeta who is lying dead.” I never even said, “This is your daughter.” “She has died by suicide. You open the door but no tears should come from you, at all,” I said. He opened the door and stood there silently.

He understood the whole thing. He was a professional. As an actor, he was a professional. He had seen this personal tragedy earlier in his life. If there was a demand of the director or the scene, he would just do it. He would not mix them up. Emotionally, he never got upset that way.

The second scene I was telling you about when he gets angry with his mother – but he’s really angry, in general, with himself and what’s going on. He says, “Come on, let’s lift her and take her.” That was also – a lot of people in the audience must have felt very attached to that scene because it reminded them of their life.

That was a very well written scene. All the images that come when she says that line, “I want to go back to that haveli.” He takes her. The way she went to that haveli as a bride in a palki. She went to die there in the same way – in a palki. That’s how she first entered the haveli. And in the last part, it was also in the same fashion. That was a very touching sequence. She remembers the words and faces of people, old scenes come back to her.

How was the film received by Indian audiences, especially by Hindu groups and by Muslim audiences? Did they have separate reactions?

Yeah, there was a wrong kind of feeling, especially with Bal Thackeray. When the film was going to release at the Regal Cinema in Bombay, somebody had spoken about the film to Thackeray and he wanted to see it before it was released. I said, “Why should you see it before it is released? Why don’t you people come? The Shiv Sena can come to the premiere itself.” The premiere was being inaugurated by Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit – the Maharashtra governor at that time. But he said, “No, I want to see the film before the release.” Then, I organised a special screening for him and some of the Sena people. They all saw the film. But I didn’t go nor my partners went. We were not there at the screening.

He saw the whole film and he asked for me, “Where is the director? Where is the producer of this film?” They said, “He has not come, sir. They have just sent the print for you to see.” He said, “This is exactly what I want. The Indian Muslim should be a part of the mainstream. That is the message this film is giving.” There was no problem after that. This was only a kind of apprehension at the time.

Even L.K. Advani had written wrongly about the film in their newspaper, the party paper. He said that it looks as if this film has been financed by Pakistan. I mean, this is a comment which Advani made. Later on, when I met him sometime in Madras at a film festival, he said, “I’m very sorry, I made a mistake. I had not seen the film but I wrote it because I got a report from somebody about the film.” So he apologised for having written that.

No, there were some conservative Muslims who [expressed reservations], especially about the love affair between cousins. In a restricted atmosphere, in a Muslim family – these things do happen. I mean, cousins fall in love with each other because they don’t have the liberty to go out and meet people. Some Muslims said, ‘No, this kind of thing doesn’t happen’. Anyway, that was just a very personal reaction.

Well, communally, the situation has become worse. [Indian society] had doubts about the loyalty of a Muslim. But today, Hindu fundamentalism has grown. A lot of communal clashes happen. I mean, this whole secular fabric is being damaged by the present government, the present rulers of this country. The BJP, in spite of having a Muslim governor in one state or a minister in the Centre – they’re only a show. They have a lot of money and have been bought and given positions. Basically, the BJP is an anti-poor and anti-Muslim group. This is what I feel.

A Kerala Muslim could not be accepted in Punjab. He had to look for other revenues like the Gulf countries or Saudi Arabia or go to Canada or something.

India still remains, basically, a secular country. And this secular fabric is very strong and very well-knit. It cannot be destroyed. No communal movement is possible in this country. The Indian ethos is that.


Maharashtra: Muslim Leaders Seek Govt Intervention For Bakri Eid Preparations

Jul 13, 2020

MUMBAI: After the Maharashtra government issued guidelines for celebration of Ganesh Utsav in the state, several Muslim leaders have written to the chief minister Uddhav Thackeray to immediately take necessary decisions on Bakri Eid festival which is falling on August 1.

With just 17 days left the community leaders are concern on the government preparedness and arrangements of cattle mandis (makeshift market) in the city in the wake of outbreak of pandemic.

Community leaders Senior NCP leader Nawab Malick, Amin Patel, Samajwadi party president Abu Asim Azmi, Congress MLAs Zeeshan Siddiqui and Rais Shaikh met Guardian Minister Aslam Shaikh on Monday and discussed a plan on how to organise the festival without violating the social distancing and lockdown norms.

"As the government has come out with preparedness on the Ganesh festival, no decision has been taken on the Bakri Eid. Its high time that the government should immediately make a standard operating procedure (SOP) and issue guidelines on the sale and slaughtering of cattle. Festival of sacrifice is an important religious festival binding on every Muslim and hence I have written to chief minister and home minister Anil Deshmukh to immediately take a call on it," said former minister Arif Naseem Khan.

Guardian minister Aslam Shaikh said that the Muslim leaders and other organisations involved have come up with detail plans on how to safely celebrate the festival.

In a bid to avoid crowding at Deonar for buying cattle (goats, sheep) it is proposed that there will be two or three mandis in each 24 wards. It is also proposed that the goat seller as well buyer will wear PPE kits, one person will have to go to these mandis and select the animals without touching them. Children will not be allowed said, Gulrezz Qureshi.

There is also suggestion that there should be coupon system where 10 to 15 people will take prior appointment and come to buy goats.

The goat traders who are mostly coming from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are largest supplier of cattle to city, they are also confused as to how would they ferry the cattle in the lockdown from one state to another.

All India Jamiatul Qureshi, vice president Imran Qureshi said that all those animal sellers coming from other states will have to be quarantined.

"Another problem is rains. Goats are allergic to water and they soon get cold and fall sick and hence we have requested government to set up sheds for live stocks keeping in mind the monsoon season as well veterinanrians for health being of the animals," said Qureshi.

Arshad Siddiqui of chairman of Red crescent Society of India has proposed that Muslims can also contribute their share of Qurbani by donating money to Jamiat-Ur-Rashad which will sacrifice the animals and will distribute among the flood affected people in Bihar, UP and Bengal.

General manager of Deonar Slaughter house Yogesh Shetye said that he is waiting for instructions from government.


I Am Innocent": Kalyan Singh After Babri Mosque Demolition Case Hearing

July 13, 2020

Lucknow: Senior BJP leader and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh on Monday blamed the then Congress government at the Centre for allegedly levelling "false and baseless allegations" against him in the Babri mosque demolition case and said that he was "innocent".

"The then Congress government at the Centre levelled false and baseless allegations against me and filed a case out of political animosity," he told reporters after appearing before a CBI special court in Lucknow.

The 88-year-old leader said, "As a UP chief minister, I and my government ensured adequate three-tier security of the disputed structure in Ayodhya."

Mr Singh, during whose tenure the demolition took place, was assisted by two persons as he walked out of the court after over three-hour-long questioning.

The CBI court is currently recording statements of 32 accused under the CrPC Section 313, a stage in the trial that follows the examination of accused.

Other alleged accused, including former Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani and senior BJP leaders MM Joshi, are yet to be examined at this stage.

The special court had last week reiterated that a reminder should be sent to the National Informatics Centre (NIC) for making arrangements to record his statement through video conferencing.

With regard to another accused Om Prakash Pandey, the CBI had furnished a report saying he was untraceable after his family claimed that he became a monk and had not come home for years.

His brother Mahendra Pandey had said that he would try to find out the whereabouts of his brother and inform the CBI.

The court had then directed the agency to remain in contact with Mahendra Pandey and furnish further report.

The court has already issued a non-bailable warrant against Om Prakash Pandey.


Pakistan violates ceasefire along LoC in J&K's Kupwara

Jul 13, 2020

SRINAGAR: Pakistani troops violated the ceasefire by resorting to unprovoked firing towards Indian positions along the Line of Control (LoC) in Tangdhar sector of Jammu and Kashmir on Monday, an Army official said.

There have been no reports of any casualties so far.

"Pakistan initiated an unprovoked ceasefire violation (CFV) along the LoC in Tangdhar sector in Kupwara in the evening hours by firing mortars and other weapons," the official said.

The Indian Army gave a befitting response to the Pakistani aggression, he said.


Jaish duo killed, civilian injured in Anantnag encounter

Jul 13, 2020

SRINAGAR: A Jaish-e-Mohammad commander and his aide were killed in an anti-terror operation in ViddySrigufwara area of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Monday. A woman living near the encounter site was also injured in the exchange of fire, IGP (Kashmir Range) Vijay Kumar said.

One of the slain terrorists was identified as Nasir alias Shahbaz alias Baz Bhai, an ‘A’ category terrorist from Pakistan, while the identity of the second terrorist, a local, was being ascertained.

In the morning, a joint team of J&K Police, Army’s 3 RR and CRPF’s E/116 Bn launched a cordon-and-search operation in Srigufwara based on intelligence inputs about the presence of terrorists there. As the security forces neared the suspected hideout, holed-up ultras opened fire at the search party, triggering an encounter in which the Jaish duo was killed, IGP Kumar said. Police said the terrorists were given a chance to surrender but they refused to yield and opened fire at the security forces instead.

A woman government teacher, identified as Arifa Jan, sustained bullet injuries in the exchange of fire and was taken to the Anantnag GMC for treatment. GMC principal Dr ShowkatJeelani confirmed that her condition was stable.

Arms and ammunition along with other incriminating material were recovered from the spot of the gunfight and searches were underway, the IGP said. Meanwhile, internet services were temporarily suspended in Anantnag as a precautionary measure.

As many as 130 local and non-local terrorists — including some top commanders like Riyaz Naikoo of Hizbul Mujahideen, Qari Yasir of Jaish, Hyder of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Burhan Koka of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind — have been killed in Kashmir Valley this year so far, IGP Kumar added.




Toshakhana reference against Nawaz: Court notices displayed at JatiUmra, Model Town

Jul 14 2020

LAHORE: A notice of accountability court (Islamabad) was displayed at JatiUmra and Model Town residences of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday, directing him to appear before it on Aug 17 in the Toshakhana reference.

According to the notice, “Nawaz Sharif committed offence of punishable under Section 9 read with Section 10 of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 and it has been returned to a warrant of arrest thereupon issued that the said accused cannot be found and whereas it has been shown to my satisfaction that the said accused has absconded. Proclamation under section 87 CrPC is hereby made that the said accused Nawaz Sharif is required to appear before this court to answer the said reference on Aug 17.”

The accountability court of Islamabad last month had issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Nawaz Sharif in the reference. Nawaz, PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari and former premier Yusuf Raza Gilani are accused of receiving luxury vehicles and gifts from Toshakhana.

The NAB reference alleged that Mr Zardari and Mr Sharif had obtained cars from Toshakhana by paying 15 per cent of the price of the cars. The bureau further alleged that Mr Gilani had facilitated Mr Zardari and Mr Nawaz to the effect.

The court directed the Foreign Office to execute arrest warrants against Mr Sharif through the Pakistan High Commission in London.

The NAB special prosecutor told the court that Mr Sharif was residing in Avenfield Apartments in the UK. He suggested that the court issue a directive to publish the notice in UK newspapers.

Nawaz Sharif has been in London for his medical treatment since November last. He left abroad after the court granted him bail in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case, and Al-Azizia reference in which he was convicted for seven years. The court had given him four weeks permission for his treatment abroad.


Infant in Attock diagnosed with poliovirus strain for which vaccinations halted in 2014

Jul 14 2020

TAXILA: A case of vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (VDPV2) — a strain of polio for which vaccinations in Pakistan were halted in 2014 —has been detected in Hazro, Attock.

An eight-month-old boy has been diagnosed with VDPV2, district health authorities confirmed on Monday. They said with this new case there have been four polio cases detected in Punjab this year, and 56 all over the country.

Health authorities said Punjab Minister for Health Dr Yasmin Rashid is expected to arrive in Attock on Tuesday for more information on the case and to review the arrangements to tackle the spread of polio in the area.

The detection of VDPV2 in Punjab comes after the presence of the wild poliovirus, WPV, was also found in the province this year, District Health Authority Chief Executive Dr Sohail Ijaz said.

He said the emergence of this strain has set alarm bells ringing due to the failure to eradicate both strains of the poliovirus in the province. He added that there is a misconception that the VDPV2 strain occurs due to vaccine inefficiency and that the strain has been reported in 14 other countries as well.

Dr Asad Ismail, the district health officer preventive services, told Dawn that a polio case has been reported in Attock district for the first time in 23 years. He said district health authorities are in the process of verifying the infant’s vaccination history.

“The status of the number of supplementary immunisation activity (SIA) and routine immunisation (RI) doses is being investigated,” he said.

Dr Ismail said the baby’s mother came from Hong Kong and delivered the baby in Pakistan. The baby was born premature and was in an incubator for weeks, he added.

To a question, he said during polio vaccination campaigns, children are administered vaccines for poliovirus type 1 and type 3 in the form of oral polio vaccines and vaccinations against type 2 were stopped in 2014 and the strain has not been detected in environmental samples since 2016.

Measures are being taken to prevent the poliovirus in the area, Dr Ismail said, adding a vaccination drive will begin in the district on July 20.

According to information available on the Polio Eradication Programme website, 12 cases of the wild poliovirus have been confirmed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, eight in Sindh, four in Balochistan and one in Punjab.


Federal ministers ask PPP chief to answer questions about corruption

Syed Irfan Raza

Jul 14 2020

ISLAMABAD: Reacting to the allegations levelled by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari against the prime minister, federal ministers Murad Saeed and Shibli Faraz on Monday advised him not to talk “nonsense” but answer questions about corruption committed by his family.

Communications Minister Murad Saeed challenged the PPP chief to face him in parliament or in a TV talk show or at a public meeting.

He said the main reason behind Bilawal’s fiery press conference was a recent report of a joint investigation team which had exposed PPP leadership’s links with Lyari gangster Uzair Baloch.

He said the PPP leadership was involved in the worst kind of corruption, while no one could level any allegation of corruption against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Shibli Faraz said in a video statement that Mr Bhutto-Zardari was frustrated as he did not have any political agenda and his press conference was its manifestation.

Mr Faraz said PM’s sister should not be dragged into politics because she had nothing to do with the government. “The use of such kind of language about a woman is a very despicable act,” he remarked.

He said Bilawal should be the last person to accuse the prime minister of committing corruption as no one called Imran Khan “Mr 10 per cent”.

“We strongly condemn Bilawal’s allegations. He should not say such things. He was either asleep or ignorant of the ground realities,” the minister maintained.

He said Bilawal, whose family had confined one big party of the past to Larkana district only, had made a joke of himself by saying such frivolous things.




Iran offers unconditional support to Hamas, Islamic Jihad

Jul 13, 2020

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Since Hamas and Islamic Jihad remained on the sidelines in the Syrian civil war and left their respective offices in Damascus in 2012, Iran, a staunch ally of the Syrian regime, suspended its financial support to both movements, cutting off their largest sources of funding.

The return of these relations, however, seems to be in the offing, especially with the recent events in the region. On May 28, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that his government intends to annex 30% of the West Bank.

Head of the Hamas political bureau Ismail Haniyeh said July 6 that he had received a message from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, confirming that his country will continue to provide support to the Palestinians.

“Iran will spare no effort to support the Palestinian people to restore their right and hold off the evil schemes of the Zionist entity,” the message read.

The message comes after Iranian Shura Council Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf made two phone calls to Haniyeh and Islamic Jihad Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhalah July 1, to discuss mechanisms and ways to thwart Israel’s annexation plan.

Ghalibaf expressed his country’s support for the Palestinian people in the face of the US Middle East peace plan, known locally as "the deal of the century."

Hamas has made great efforts in the past months in a bid to restore Iranian support. Hamas condemned the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, by a US strike in Baghdad Jan. 3. Haniyeh also traveled to Tehran to participate in Soleimani’s funeral.

Mahmoud al-Zahar, a member of Hamas political bureau, had said during an interview with Al-Nahda News July 9, 2019, that Hamas had been making great efforts in a bid to restore relations with the Syrian government backed by the Iranian regime.

A prominent Hamas leader who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity said, “Iran decided to provide the Palestinian resistance with the greatest possible support to confront Israel’s annexation plan of the West Bank. This support will be greater than ever, with no restrictions and in any way the Palestinian resistance wishes."

Although Iran announced that it would continue to support the Palestinian resistance, a major challenge stands in the way, which is the Palestinian Authority and Israel’s policy to dry up Hamas sources of funding, taking strict measures to prevent money from outside the Palestinian territories from reaching the Islamic movement through local banks.

A Reuters report published on April 26, 2019, said that Hamas is increasingly using sophisticated methods to raise money using Bitcoins, which highlights the difficulties facing the authorities to track cryptocurrencies financing groups that some classify as terrorists.

“It is not important here for the public to know how the support will reach the resistance, but what is important is where and how such support would be used on the ground to thwart the Israeli annexation plan,” the source explained.

He added, “The Iranian support will mainly be directed to the West Bank that is at risk now with the Israeli annexation plan. Support will also focus on mobilizing the Palestinian people to confront this scheme.”

On July 2, Secretary-General of Fatah’s Central Committee Jibril Rajoub and Hamas leader Salah al-Arouri, who is based in Beirut, held a rare joint video conference to discuss a joint plan of action to counter the Israeli annexation plan.

“We must realize that the battlefield now is the West Bank and our people in Gaza are ready by all means to [counter the plan]. Abu Obaida [spokesman for Hamas’ military wing, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades] said that the annexation is a ‘declaration of war,’” Arouri said during the conference call.

Islamic Jihad leader Khodr Habib told Al-Monitor, “Iran’s support is of paramount importance for the Palestinian resistance and willl significantly contribute to escalate the resistance against the Israeli occupation in the coming period.”

He stressed that there is ongoing communication between his movement’s leadership and Iranian officials to discuss mechanisms to translate what has been agreed upon in recent contacts with Iran on the ground.

He added, “The resistance factions have been holding regular meetings to develop practical measures to address the Israeli plan. All our efforts in the coming stage will be focusing on resisting and thwarting the [annexation] plan and we will certainly succeed in that.”

Talal Okal, political analyst and writer for the Ramallah-based newspaper Al-Ayyam, told Al-Monitor, “Iran’s recent stance to provide the greatest possible support to Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the framework of confronting the Israeli annexation plan, is the culmination of great efforts made by the leadership of the two movements to restore their relations with Iran.”

He said that Hamas felt it had made a historic mistake by detaching itself from Iran over the Syrian conflict, and by looking for alternative sources of funding, such as Qatari support.

Okal explained that Hamas found out that Qatar’s support is conditioned by maintaining calm with Israel, which is in direct conflict with the movement’s principles and goals aimed at perpetuating the conflict with Israel. Hamas was forced to maintain calm with Israel at the moment in order to receive more funds from Qatar, especially since it has been grappling with a major financial crisis since Egypt established a buffer zone along the borders with the Gaza Strip in 2014 to destroy the border tunnels, he added.

“Hamas realized that it is in imperative need of the Iranian support more than any other source of funding, as Iran would provide it without any conditions or prerequisites,” Okal concluded.

Hassan Abdo, a writer and political analyst close to Islamic Jihad, told Al-Monitor, “The recent contacts between Hamas and Islamic Jihad with Iran — and Khamenei’s message — are proof that all differences between the two parties would remain on hold now as they are insignificant in light of the Israeli annexation scheme.”

He added, “Many other Arab countries turned their back on the Palestinians and contributed in intensifying their blockade, making way for the US deal of the century and the annexation plan, which is part of it. Iran’s position was exactly the opposite."


Iran praises Turkey’s reopening of Hagia Sophia mosque



Iran’s Foreign Ministry welcomed on Monday a recent decision by Turkey to reconvert Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia into a mosque after serving decades as a museum.

“The decision on the status of Hagia Sophia is Turkey's internal affair,” ministry spokesman Sayed Abbas Mousavi told Anadolu Agency.

“This is an issue that should be considered as part of Turkey's national sovereignty,” Mousevi added.

On Friday, a Turkish court annulled a 1934 cabinet decree that had turned the Hagia Sophia into a museum, paving the way for its use again as a mosque after 85 years.

The court ruled that the architectural gem was owned by a foundation established by Sultan Mehmet II, the conqueror of Istanbul, and presented to the community as a mosque -- a status that cannot be legally changed.

The Hagia Sophia was used as a church for centuries under the rule of the Byzantine Empire. It was turned into a mosque following the conquest of Istanbul in 1453. But in 1934, a cabinet decision had converted Hagia Sophia into a museum.


Khamenei blueprinted the mullahs’ 25-year self-off of Iran to China

July 13, 2020

Iran—GholamrezaMesbahi Moghadam, a member of the Iranian regime’s Expediency Council, shed light on the role of Iranian regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in the sell-off deal with China involving the transfer of Kish Island, along with military and intelligence cooperation between the regime and the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) with the Chinese government.

“The 25-year cooperation document with China went through after Khamenei sent a special message and a special messenger to China and met with the Chinese President. Prior to that, there was no determination from our government,” Moghadam explained in an interview with the state-run Asre-Iran website on Saturday.

“Today, our conditions force us to inject more hope to the society. If hopelessness prevails, there could be social riots and rebellions. In this regard relationships with China and Russia can provide paths to new opportunities,” he added. “Today, we are suffering from high inflation and unemployment, unstable prices and escalating poverty across the country, and the sanctions and the noel coronavirus have added dilemmas to our issues.”

While the mullahs’ regime refuses to publish the terms of this disgraceful agreement, published reports indicate the deal is based on unbelievable concessions regarding Kish Island and providing massive economic incentives in return for military and regional support from China.

This agreement is going through while the IRGC’s Mahan Air flights to China continued during the COVID-19 crisis that led to the transfer of this lethal illness to the city of Qom and from there to other parts of the country. This led to widespread protests over the relationship between the mullahs’ regime in Iran and China.

“Last week, the Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei] agreed to the extension of the existing deal to include new military elements that were proposed by the same senior figures in the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] and the intelligence services that proposed the original deal, and this will involve complete aerial and naval military co-operation between Iran and China, with Russia also taking a key role,” a source told recently.

“There is a meeting scheduled in the second week of August between the same Iranian group, and their Chinese and Russian counterparts, that will agree the remaining details but, provided that goes as planned, then as of 9 November, Sino-Russian bombers, fighters, and transport planes will have unrestricted access to Iranian air bases,” the source told “This process will begin with purpose-built dual-use facilities next to the existing airports at Hamedan, Bandar Abbas, Chabhar, and Abadan.”

In parallel, these deployments will be accompanied by the roll-out of Chinese and Russian electronic warfare (EW) capabilities, sources told Part of the new military co-operation will also include an exchange of personnel between Iran, China and Russia, with up to 110 senior IRGC members going for training every year in Beijing and Moscow and 110 Chinese and Russians going to Tehran for their training.

In return for these military and intelligence cooperation, the Iranian regime will be providing vast economic incentives, especially in energy, to China. Tehran has committed to sell its oil, gas and petrochemical products to China at 12 percent below the average market price, with an additional six to eight percent discount. Furthermore, China will be allowed to pay Iran with up to two years in delay and with soft currency. As a result, China will be purchasing all of Iran’s oil products at a price at least 32 percent lower than the actual price in global markets, according to a July 7 report broadcast by Radio France Internationale.

The terms must be so disgraceful and against Iran’s interests that the regime’s Majlis (parliament) members say they have not been informed of the details. This forced government spokesperson Ali Rabiei to emphasize that the agreement was discussed between Khamenei and Chinese President Xi Jinping.


Iran: State-Run Media Acknowledge How Mullahs’ Regime Is Using COVID-19 to Quell Restive Society

by Mahmoud Hakamian

13th July 2020

According to the Iranian opposition, nearly 70,000 people have lost their lives due to the novel coronavirus pandemic in Iran. Since the beginning of this crisis, the Iranian regime resorted to cover–up and inaction to divert people’s attention from their righteous demands and control the restive Iranian society. This was because the November 2019 and January 2020 nationwide Iran protests had shaken the regime’s foundations, and the mullahs know the next uprising will end in their downfall. 

While reports from Iran indicated the arrival of COVID-19, the regime denied its existence to have a larger turnout during its foundation anniversary and the sham parliamentary elections. When the Iranian Resistance’s revelations and international community pressure forced the regime to acknowledge the existence of the virus, it downplayed it.  The regime’s president, Hassan Rouhani, led the campaign of deception and cover-up. On May 23 he said: “Some are trying to scare people in the country about the Coronavirus disease. We should not tolerate this.”

Earlier on May 20 he blatantly claimed: “We have been making progress step-by-step in these three months, having no relapses anywhere. Altogether, we have made good progress in the fight against this dangerous virus and have almost managed to contain the disease.” 

Meanwhile, on May 24, state television reported: “The daily number of infections rose by 1.32 percent in the first ten days of the Iranian month of Ordibehesht [April and May], 1.4 percent during the second 10 days, and 1.48 percent in the third ten days, respectively.” 

In other words, the regime’s 40 years of oppression, export of terrorism and corruption has turned the Iranian society into a powder keg, ready to explode. Therefore, the mullahs used the COVID-19 as a lever of oppression to control this restive society, divert people’s attention from their desire of regime change and prevent possible uprisings by sending people to the COVID-19 killing zone. Yet, the regime’s inhumane measures have increased public hatred toward the regime and the society’s explosiveness. This has become so much imminent that even state-run media are admitting to it and warning one another about an upcoming “flood of revenge.” In this regard, the state-run Mostaghel daily published an article. Below are excerpts of its translation.

It was around midnight when we learned about the gas price hike from the TV news ticker. We were shocked. They [the government] had said nothing before, and it all happened suddenly. 

People from rural districts, those living under the poverty line, took their lives in their hands and poured onto the streets. They were frustrated with crushing poverty and the government’s mismanagement in providing them with their least needs, and now being ignored about the process of the fuel price-hike. Then the internet was shut down and people’s connection with each other and the world was cut. News of unbelievable massacres in different parts of country were published by unofficial sources, adding to the protesters’ anger. 

The fire, hidden under the ashes of people’s patience, was expanding and pushing the situation out of [regime’s] control. An astounding number of deaths, in the absence of fair media, was fueling this fire. Those who were indifferent were gradually coming to the scene, and this is something that no government wants to happen. Finally, the use of harsh methods [of oppression] in dealing with protesters, amid the internet blackout, temporarily had good results [for the regime]. The situation came under control without giving a practical answer to people’s demands. 

Fear of bullets and pressure pushed the people, who had hopes of a better life, back. Yet, the principal players of this game know that what happened in November is a prologue to an upcoming flood from the slums, which will wash everything with it. 

Now, a savior was needed to divert people’s attention from the November and January incidents. So, came the novel coronavirus. The government used people’s fear of this invisible enemy to unleash the dragon among them. Long before its public announcement, COVID-19 had come or had been brought to Iran. But to defy Trump, they held events marking the 41st anniversary of the 1979 revolution. And to slap those dissatisfied with the approbative supervision, the Parliamentary elections were held as scheduled. Then they said: we just found about the virus’ existence, so people watch yourselves. 

The Coronavirus was a gift from heaven and a savior. They even put aside China’s management of COVID-19 and instead turned to preaching and giving advice to people. Although these methods have long proven to be inefficient in controlling and correcting the situation. 

Thus, without any material support, they “asked” people to stay at home but did not close anywhere. Freeways were opened before the Nowruz holidays, but people were told “not to travel.” They did not control city entrances are neglected people’s carelessness in going on vacation. When the medical staff were being crushed under the heavy wave of horrible deaths, they sent violet oil so it could, along with camel urine, solve the problem.

Thus, they [the authorities] left hungry and depressed people alone in a room with a lion and waited for the work to be done. Meanwhile, without attracting any attention to the skyrocketing prices, some courts were held as though they were held in a normal situation; each session could have created a fuss, abandoning the country’s forests to burn in fire and issuing death sentences for the detainees of the November incident. 

While people are just trying to survive, this instrumental use of the COVID-19 to silence and control the anger of uncategorized starving people was so ruthlessly done that after six months, they not only have not achieved any success in controlling the virus, but according to the official statistics, the situation is out of control. Thousands of infections and hundreds of deaths per day confirms this. What other than this crisis could have diverted attention from people’s immersed anger and unfulfilled demands? 

Of course, this souvenir from China will not be left without a reward. But they should not forget that COVID-19 will end one day. Then these wounded and deprived people will have nothing else left to lose. When their anger erupts, it will fight until the [regime’s] destruction, and you would see what you do not want to see. If they had used the coronavirus situation to help people, to repair their reputation, undoubtedly, those marginalized people could have played a pivotal role in balancing the situation in the future. 

The Government did not contain and control the coronavirus to relevantly control the anger of defiant people. But I wish that the suffering and illness of the people were not used as a cure for obliviousness and a means of revenge of the events of November and December. 

Because soon, people will come to their table for eating, and their despair of an empty table will lead them to protest on busy streets.


The mullahs’ desperate need for execution and suppression


Iran, July 13, 2020—Iranian regime officials confirmed that on July 8 a man in Mashhad was executed for drinking alcohol on multiple occasions. Apart from the cruelty of this act, it is a manifestation of the regime’s reaction to its many crises such as the coronavirus outbreak, economic deadlock, conflicts between various currents of the regime, and its fear of another nationwide uprising.

On one hand, the regime has increased its psychological warfare and propaganda against the Iranian opposition People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and is pressurizing the families of MEK members, while on the other hand, it has begun a new wave of executions of prisoners. In this regard, executing a man for drinking alcohol is unique and unprecedented, even for the brutal regime of the mullahs.

The victim was imprisoned a year ago and had no other charges but drinking alcohol. The remarks of the victim's lawyer indicate that the regime was in a hurry to carry out this execution.

Amnesty International issued a statement condemning the vicious crime of the mullahs’ regime, saying: “Iranian authorities have once again laid bare the sheer cruelty and inhumanity of their judicial system by executing a man simply for drinking alcohol. The victim was the latest person to be executed in Valkalibad prison, the site of numerous secret mass executions and a grotesque theatre of Iran’s contempt for human life.”

This execution was carried out while in recent days, the regime’s representative at the United Nations Human Rights Council was shedding crocodile tears for the killing of IRGC Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, the regime’s terror mastermind.

Carrying out this execution in the city of Mashhad is not a coincidence. It is worth reminding that the nationwide uprisings in December 2017 first started in Mashhad. In recent months, many regime officials have warned about the explosive situation of the Iranian society and the possibility of new uprisings.

In other news, Hossein Reyhani, a young man who was arrested during the November 2019 protests in Iran, has been charged with “enmity against God”, a bogus crime the regime uses to hand out execution sentences.

At the same time, the regime judiciary is making a push for the execution of three youths who were arrested in the November 2019 nationwide uprisings.

Previously, the Iranian regime’s judiciary arrested two elite students Ali Younesi and Amir Hossein Moradi for having links with the MEK. On June 13, Ali Younesi was reported to have contracted coronavirus in prison.

On June 15, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) called for an international fact-finding mission to visit Iran’s prisons and meet with the inmates, especially political prisoners, and called for immediate action by the United Nations Secretary-General, the Human Rights Council and Commissioner, and relevant special rapporteurs, along with international human rights organizations to save the lives of political prisoners in Iran.

With this new wave of repressive measures, the regime aims to intimidate the population and preparing the ground for more repression. At the same time, it fears the public outrage that will result from these punishments, since these executions can trigger new protests.

The Iranian regime is facing a deadlock. On the one hand, it needs executions and repression to confront the explosive situation of the society. But on the other hand, these arrests and executions can themselves become the source of more protests.

The question is: Will the regime manage to stop people’s revolt by increasing repression, arrests, and executions of political prisoners? If the past is prologue, it won’t happen.


South Asia


Three killed in Faryab mosque shooting


At least three people were killed in a shooting at a mosque in Afghanistan's northern Faryab province on Monday evening, police said.

Karim Yorish, a spokesman for provincial police, told 1TV that that three others were wounded in the attack which happened during Maghrib prayer in Bibi Ayena area of the provincial capital, Maimana.

The official said that the attackers faced security forces encounter at a checkpoint while they were fleeing, as a result of which two were wounded.

Meanwhile, a security source told 1TV that four people were killed and five others were wounded in the mosque shooting.

According to the source, the deaths included a local police commander, identified as Abdul Sattar, his brother and son.


Lashing Out: China Targets Ted Cruz Amid Mounting Pressure Over COVID, Hong Kong, Uyghurs


JUL 13, 2020

On Monday, the oppressive People’s Republic of China announced it would slap sanctions on Sen.s Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), as well as on Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Religious Freedom Ambassador Sam Brownback. Their crime? Condemning the Communist regime’s brutal oppression of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, where Muslims are forced into “re-education camps” and many of the women are sterilized.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Cruz, Rubio, Smith, and Brownback had “seriously damaged China-U.S. relations.” Hua insisted that China was determined to uphold its national sovereignty against what it claims to be interference in its internal affairs, the Associated Press reported. The Communist government also reportedly banned them from entering the country.

Hua did not spell out the specific sanctions against Americans, insisting that they would correspond to American sanctions placed on four senior Chinese officials. Americans sanctioned Chen Quanguo, who heads the northwestern region of Xinjiang; Zhu Hailun, party secretary of the Xinjiang political and legal committee; Wang Mingshan, party secretary of the Xinjiang public security bureau; and HuoLiujun, a former top official in Xinjiang’s police force. The U.S. prohibited Americans from carrying out any property transactions with these officials and barred three of them from entering the U.S.

The U.S. sanctions came as a response to China’s brutal imprisonment of 1 million members of Muslim minority groups in what China defends as de-radicalization and retraining centers.

Human rights activists have compared the camps to prisons and worse, claiming that inmates are sentenced there with little due process. The Uyghurs (the largest Muslim minority targeted) and others are compelled to denounce their religion, language, and culture and to pledge allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party and President Xi Jinping. According to an Associated Press investigation, Uyghur women are forced to use birth control or undergo involuntary sterilizations.

This horrific mistreatment has contributed to worsening relations between the U.S. and China. China’s coronavirus malfeasance, its aggressive takeover of Hong Kong, its attacks on the religious freedom of Christians, and other issues like trade have worsened relations even further. The Trump administration also instituted visa bans on Chinese officials deemed responsible for barring foreigners’ access to Tibet.

Last December, Xinjiang authorities claimed that the camps had closed and all detainees had “graduated,” a claim difficult to corroborate independently. Some Uyghurs and Kazakhs have told the AP that their relatives have been released, but others say their loved ones remain in detention. In October 2019, the U.S. imposed visa restrictions on Chinese officials believed to be responsible for the mistreatment of Uyghurs and it blacklisted more than two dozen Chinese companies and agencies linked to abuses in the region.

Upon learning of the China ban, Cruz sardonically tweeted, “Bummer. I was going to take my family to Beijing for summer vacation, right after visiting Tehran.”

He later clarified that he “did not have plans to travel to Beijing, where the CCP commits egregious human rights atrocities, suppresses its people, & allowed [COVID-19] to become a global pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 570K people worldwide.”

Considering the Chinese Communist Party’s nefarious acts on coronavirus and its infamous human rights abuses against both Christians and Muslims, perhaps Brownback, Cruz, Rubio and Smith should be proud to find themselves the objects of China’s ire. They must be doing something right.


China bets on Hainan duty-free shopping mecca to boost spending at home

13 Jul, 2020

This is the second story in a three-part series examining China’s plan to transform Hainan into an internationally influential ‘free-trade port’, as Beijing faces what it perceives to be an increasingly hostile international environment. You can read the first story in the series here.

Steve Li browses through racks of clothing at a comfortably air-conditioned shopping centre in tropical Hainan, stopping occasionally to check price tags for luxury brands ranging from Prada to Giorgio Armani.

Touted as “the world’s largest duty-free mall”, the Sanya Begonia Bay International Shopping Centre is at the forefront of a push by Beijing to turn the island into a global shopping destination that may tempt Chinese to splurge at home, rather than abroad.

“I’ve already spent about 10,000 yuan (US$1,421) in this mall,” said Li, who was holidaying in Sanya because the coronavirus had made international travel nearly impossible.

Li is one of China’s legion of international shoppers who have been behind a spectacular buying spree in shopping capitals from Paris to Seoul in recent years.

The No 1 purpose of overseas travel for China’s 150 million outbound travellers in 2019 was “shopping”, according to a survey by and China UnionPay released last November.

Chinese tourists spent US$277 billion overseas in 2018, beating the United States and Germany combined, said the World Tourism Organisation, a United Nations agency.

For Beijing, however, the exodus of consumer power is both a sign of national strength and a source of concern. Tourism has been a big service trade deficit item on China’s balance of international payments.

China reported a total service trade deficit of US$88.2 billion in the first five months of this year, in which US$73.3 billion, or 83.1 per cent of total, came from tourism, according to official data.

If Beijing wants to boost domestic consumer spending in the face of an increasingly uncertain post-coronavirus world, it will depend in large part on its success on keeping people like Li at home.

President Xi Jinping announced in April 2018 that Hainan, a popular holiday destination sometimes referred to as China’s Hawaii, would be made into the nation’s largest free-trade zone.

As part of a final plan unveiled last month, some imported goods will be made tariff free and the annual per person duty-free allowance will be lifted to 100,000 yuan from 30,000 yuan.

In late June, the mall was humming with shoppers and “professional buyers”, known as daigou. Wang Yue, who was picking up duty-free handbags and lipsticks for her clients in exchange for a fee, was enthusiastic about the new spending limits, which have also seen customs tariffs on single items scrapped.

“If there’s an annual duty-free quota of 100,000 yuan, I will definitely come here often, especially if it is more difficult to get visas and foreign currencies for overseas trips,” said Wang, who is in her 20s.

Shoppers can snap up an iPhone 11 Pro 512G for 10,210 yuan, which is 20 per cent below the standard selling price of Apple stores in the mainland, and cheaper than the HK$12,499 it sells for in Hong Kong.

Chen Xiaohua, deputy director of the Hainan Comprehensive Deepening Reform Committee, the agency coordinating the free-trade port, said the government's vision was for the island to be the first choice for Chinese consumers who wanted to buy imported goods.

In 2019, Hainan’s four duty-free malls attracted 3.2 million shoppers – mostly from the mainland – and sold 12.8 billion yuan (US$1.81 billion) of duty-free products, according to official data.

Joe Gao, a Beijing-based trader whose work frequently sees him travelling to Hainan and around Asia, said China’s plan to drive consumer spending cannot be put on a few duty-free malls.

“The key is to see whether it is possible to buy imported items as easily and cheaply at any Hainan store as in Hong Kong,” Gao said. “A small bar of Ferrero chocolate is priced at 10 yuan in a Shenzhen duty-free store, but it is priced only 8 Hong Kong dollars and available anywhere everywhere in Hong Kong.”


ADB-Funded Dev in Bangladesh: 40 projects hit by pandemic

July 14, 2020

Tuhin Shubhra Adhikary

The coronavirus pandemic has slowed down the implementation of at least 40 of the 49 projects funded by the Asian Development Bank.

Initial estimate shows that awarding of contracts may fall by 20 percent this year and disbursement of funds by 30 percent if no special measures are taken.

In six months till June 30, the achievement in awarding contracts was only 13.87 percent and that in disbursing funds 21.41 percent of the targets, show ADB documents.

"Given the Covid-19, special measures will be needed to speed up the project implementation as lockdown has seriously impacted the project progress," read the documents.

Against such a backdrop, the Tripartite Portfolio Review Meeting (TPRM) for the ADB-funded projects will be held in Dhaka tomorrow. This is the first such meeting this year.

The TPRM will be co-chaired by the secretary of the Economic Relations Division and the country director of the ADB's Bangladesh Resident Mission.

They will assess the impact of Covid-19 on project implementation, review key implementation issues that may affect progress, prioritise actions to meet the targets, and also discuss approval of proposed projects.

As of June 30 this year, Bangladesh's active portfolio with the ADB stands at $10.81 billion in the form of loans or grants for 49 projects in six sectors. The amount includes $742 million in loan for the projects approved this year.

Of the projects, 12 are in the transport sector; nine in education and health; eight in energy; eight in water, urban infrastructure and services; seven in agriculture, natural resources and rural development; and five in the finance sector.

According to the ADB, Bangladesh was performing well till March when Covid-19 started affecting the implementation of the projects.

To contain the spread of the virus and ensure safety of workers and employees, the majority of the construction sites were closed following the shutdown, it said.

Since then, contracts under several packages could not be awarded and also funds could not be disbursed, seriously impacting the project implementation, the ADB mentioned in the documents.

The government imposed the shutdown in late March to contain the spread of the virus. It, however, lifted the restrictions on May 31 as the shutdown started to affect the economy and people's livelihoods.

The Roads and Highways Department is implementing several ADB-funded projects, including Greater Dhaka Sustainable Urban Transport and SASEC Road Connectivity Project-1 and 2.

Under the urban transport project, a dedicated bus line or Bus Rapid Transit is being built from Dhaka Airport to Gazipur, while the two-lane road from Gazipur to Rangpur is being upgraded to four lanes under the road connectivity projects.

"The implementation of our projects has been hampered by the pandemic as work of those projects was suspended for more than two months since late March," RHD Chief Engineer Quazi Shahriar Hossain told The Daily Star yesterday.

Replying to another question, Shahriar said, "The pandemic will affect every project, and we have to extend the deadline by at least three months. We have already got such indications from the project officials."

The authorities of the fast-track project had a plan to complete 50 percent of the physical work within fiscal 2019-20, but it was 40 percent as work remained suspended for two months due to the pandemic.

The physical work of the project came to a near halt after March. Though, most of the workers have returned to the project site, rain is hampering work, said a project official, seeking anonymity.

The ADB said the implementing agencies are now planning to reopen construction sites and camps as the government lifted the shutdown.

"All ongoing and upcoming procurement packages were reviewed, and initial agreement was reached on package-wise contract awards and disbursement that are likely to happen in 2020," it mentioned.

The ADB's Bangladesh Resident Missionhas prepared guidelineson health safety for the implementing agencies, contractors and consultants amid the pandemic.

The contractors are required to maintain a comprehensive and site-specific health safety protocol in project activities and ensure safe distancing of the workers, it noted.


U.S. soldier dies of non-combat related incident in South of Afghanistan

14 Jul 2020

A soldier of the U.S. military died of a non-combat related incident in southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan, the Department of Defense said.

“The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel,” Pentagon said in a statement.

It also added “1st Lt. Joseph Trent Allbaugh, 24, from Folsom, California, died as the result of a non-combat-related incident, July 12, 2020, in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The incident is under investigation.”

According to Pentagon Allbaugh was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 108th ADA Brigade, Fort Campbell, Kentucky.


The paradoxical deal of US, Taliban and the Afghan government

13 Jul 2020

After two decades of war against terrorism and the Taliban, the United States of America and its allies have signed a landmark deal with the Taliban in order to diminish the Taliban’s antagonism against civilian and anti-US atrocities to end at once the past decades of war in Afghanistan. Zalmay Khalilzad the US special representative of the Afghanistan reconciliation peace process signed the agreement with the chief committee of Taliban “Mullah Abdul Ghani brother” in Qatar, Doha on 29 February 2020. Recently, the former chief advisor of the national security council of America John Bolton claimed in his controversial book “the room where it happened”; cited that, trump opposed to continuing US military presence in Afghanistan because he had campaigned to end “ the Endless Wars” in faraway distanced unattached to US geography. This deal brings hope, peace, and security to Afghans through which there will be prosperous modern and educated Afghanistan.

Contrary to Afghans’ hope, the US and Taliban are the focal points of the agreement regardless of the Afghan legitimate government. Realistically viewing, there is no room for the Afghan government and it seems “paradoxical and ambiguous deal” to every rational thinker who knows about Afghanistan. This reconciliation deal has benefited the Taliban regardless of their attacks on civilians and government personals. Taliban group have officially claimed the responsibilities of various martyred in mosques, school and hospital which is totally against religious Islamic laws and human rights.

According to this deal, ‘US should withdraw all troops’ within 14 months while it is opposite to the agreement that has been signed by US and government of Afghanistan in 2014. Another article of the agreement states that “after this agreement, there should not be any Attack on US troops”, without delegitimizing any attack on the ANSDF and civilians which is seemingly an ambiguous deal. Ostensibly, the Taliban’s behavior has not been changed yet. Because the number of attacks on the National Army of Afghanistan had recorded high after nineteen years of ANSDF establishment. Although, it’s agreed by the Taliban to minimize their operations on civilians and Afghan National Security Forces. Neither they decrease nor take off from battlefields. Contrary to the agreement, Taliban suicide attacks have been outnumbered or either it astray to violate the agreement but consistently continuing their Attacks according to the National Security Council of Afghanistan, in the last two weeks Taliban killed More than 250 Army Officers.

Despite these domestic issues which briefly mentioned, and if we look to the foreign aspects in order to bring peace and stability in the region especially in Afghanistan. Indeed, it must contain, International and regional consensus in the particular lieu by involving its neighboring countries specifically four plus two “Iran, Pakistan, India, China, Russia and the United States of America”.

Though we have taken some steps to enhance the peace process but experienced the sway of its consequences against the Afghan government. For instance, the ambiguous role of Iran on Afghanistan land has not benefited Afghans due to Iran’s auspicious eyed to control economical hub in the western province of Herat by propagating ethnic and religious sect issues by stipulating Hazara Shiites, Uzbek and Tajik minorities to strengthen its own culture role in the region which provokes US interest in the region that obviously takes a stand to oust Iran’s hegemony at least in Afghanistan. Till now, we haven’t witnessed any positive role except economical gains and the untouched market for trade purposes that only benefits Iran’s long term policies in its own favor. Secondly, it is also believed that Pakistan used the Taliban for its proxies against India and vice versa, though difficult to pursue for both parties to step in to and follow there absolute gain against one and another.

Recently, the New York Times newspaper, reported that “President Donald Trump knew about the cash assisted to Taliban by the Russian to kill the US troops in Afghanistan”; Although US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has talked with Mullah Abdul Ghani Brother the chief committee of Taliban in Doha about this concerning issue, but Mullah Brother refused such claims. U.S. and Afghan government prerequisite for a strong consensus in International, regional and domestic to bring peace and security specifically in Afghanistan and region. However, it seems that the United States of America wants to solve the issue in the absence of international, regional and domestic consensus that it would not be in Afghanistan’s fortune beneficent.


Arab world


Eid Prayers Allowed Only in Mosques, Not in Open Grounds in Saudi Arabia

July 13, 2020

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia's Minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Sheikh announced on Monday that Eid Al-Adha prayers shall be offered only in mosques and not in any open grounds.

In a circular sent to the ministry’s branches in all regions of the Kingdom, the minister directed that Eid prayers shall be offered inside big mosques and additional mosques where arrangements are made to hold the Eid prayer. He said that no Eid prayer shall be offered at open grounds in light of the prevailing exceptional circumstances.

The ministry has called for the implementation of all precautionary measures and preventive protocols issued by the competent authorities.


New fines for firms violating labor rights in Saudi Arabia

July 13, 2020

RIYADH: New fines are to be imposed on companies that violate a royal order to support Saudi workers in the private sector enterprises affected by the repercussions of COVID-19.

The General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI) has approved the penalties related to the provisions of the labor law and the unemployment insurance legislation via the unemployment insurance program (Saned).

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development and GOSI have been entrusted with imposing adequate penalties on violations of the terms of the order.

GOSI noted that penalties will vary in size according to the number of workers whose rights were violated by their employers.

GOSI pointed out that the penalties will be implemented without affecting more severe penalties stipulated by other legislation.


MCD region received $70 bln to address COVID-19 crisis, mostly went to Arab countries: IMF’s Jihad Azour

DoaaA.Moneim ,

13 Jul 2020

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has provided 15 countries in Middle East and Central Asia (MCD) with $70 billion in facilities amid the COVID-19 crisis, most of which went to the Arab region, director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department at the IMF Jihad Azour said.

Azour made his statements during the IMF press conference held virtually on Monday to announce the update of the regional economic outlook report.

According to Azour, Egypt, which maintains its positive economic growth projections, is adopting a number of mechanisms in its FY2020/2021 budget plan that aim to support the private sector and back the sectors most affected by the crisis, including tourism, industry and production, and the Suez Canal. Azour says this is why Egypt is expected to see an economic slowdown with a positive economic growth.

He added that Egypt has been given a total of $8 billion under the IMF’s rapid finance instrument and the stand-by agreement, and it is among the countries that have benefited the most from IMF facilities in the Arab region.

He also disclosed that the MENAP region (the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan) is expected to witness a contraction in its growth to -7.3 percent, which is lower than the IMF’s April outlook by 3.1 percent.

Oil importing countries in the region, which include Egypt, are expected to witness a significant increase in debt levels to reach 95 percent of GDP, Azour said, adding that countries that enjoy robust fundamentals will be able to absorb such a shock, while others will be affected severely.

He also added that the private sector and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have a great chance to grow amid the crisis, and the region’s governments should work on supporting such pivotal sectors to achieve economic development.

Tackling the COVID-19 crisis’ impacts, Azour said that the MCD region has to work to achieve financial stability, support the private sector and SMEs, and to push its economy forward by adopting technology solutions and digitalisation.

In this regard, Azour said that 50 percent of the MCD population is under the age of 30, which is a potential that should be tapped in various areas.

Egypt has managed to maintain its positive macroeconomic projections in 2020 and 2021, and the IMF expects the country to record a growth rate of 2 percent during 2020, making it the only country to achieve positive economic growth during the current fiscal year in the Middle East and North Africa.

In 2021, Egypt is expected to record real gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.8 percent, while the entire MENA region will achieve an economic contraction of 3.3 percent during 2020, according to the IMF.


Sheikh Zayed mosque centre offers sign language tour to visitors

July 14, 2020

People of determination will be providing special exclusive tours at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre in sign language to the visitors with hearing impairment and those who are interested, authorities have announced.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre on Monday launched the "RehaabAlhemam" programme that aims to integrate people of determination in several initiatives and activities organised by the centre as part of its commitment to social responsibility and belief in this category's active and influential role.

The centre's first initiative within the programme allocated special remote cultural tours in sign language for the "hearing-impaired community" broadcast live on its Instagram channel both in Arabic and English, incoordination with Zayed Higher Organisation for People of Determination, the Dubai Club for People of Determination, Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services and UAE Deaf Association.

Through the programme, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre explores sign language in Arabic and English as a new channel of cultural communication with "people of determination" across various cultures worldwide on the broadest possible scale.

An interpreter translated the cultural tours led by the centre's cultural tour specialists in sign language, which in turn consolidates the mosque's vision. It allowed this category to learn about the rich legacy of our late founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who established noble human values and notions within the UAE society. While he also believed that this category's expertise could contribute in the overall developmental process through their active and influential presence in various fields.

Within this context, the centre is currently training and empowering people of determination to participate in providing special exclusive tours in sign language targeting this category and those interested.

The programme allows them to contribute towards supporting the mosque's civilisational mission, extending bridges of cross-cultural communication, and spreading the message of tolerance and coexistence between cultures from Abu Dhabi to the world.

This initiative emanates from the country's wise leadership's vision that deems people of determination as an active and influential partner in the comprehensive developmental process, and a focal part of the community that cannot be overlooked.


Egypt condemns latest Houthi missile attack on Saudi Arabia


July 14, 2020

CAIRO: The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday strongly condemned an attack on Saudi Arabia by Yemeni Houthi militias.

That morning, the Saudi-led Arab coalition intercepted and destroyed four missiles and seven bomb-laden drones. According to a statement published by the Saudi Press Agency, the drones were launched from the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, at targets in the Kingdom.

The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed solidarity with Saudi Arabia “as it faces these assaults that target its civilians.” It also pledged its full support for any defensive measures authorities in the Kingdom take to ensure the country remains safe from terrorism.

The ministry reiterated Egypt’s full support for all efforts to restore peace and stability in Yemen. It said attacks such as the latest on Saudi Arabia will result in an escalation of instability, and called for a ceasefire so that the dispute can be resolved peacefully.

It stressed the importance of engaging in a political process to find a solution that respects the Gulf Cooperation Council and UN Security Council resolution 2216. This confirms Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi as Yemen’s internationally-recognized president and calls for the Houthis to return control the country’s capital, Sanaa, which was captured in 2014. The resolution also calls for the Houthis to stop using Yemen as a base from which to attack neighboring countries.

The Houthis took control of the nation in Sep. 2014. Saudi Arabia has been leading the Coalition for Supporting Legitimacy in Yemen since 2015. It includes a number of other Arab nations, including the UAE, Kuwait and Egypt.




Russia's security forces foils Daesh terror plots

July 14, 2020

According to an official statement, the terrorists were planning several attacks on schools and hospitals.

The news comes days after the FSB detained a Daesh sympathiser who was planning a terrorist attack in the Astrakhan region.

"The FSB [Federal Security Service] of Russia in the Rostov Region has uncovered and stopped the activities of an underground cell of Daesh supporters, which included six citizens of one of the Central Asian countries and Russia. They planned attacks on police officers and planned terrorist acts on medical and educational institutions ", the official statement from the service said.

According to reports, the head of the cell detonated a home-made explosive device, killing himself, while the five other members were arrested by the authorities.

During the raid, officers found weapons, explosive devices, and drugs in the suspects' apartments.


German MP urges end to EU-Turkey accession talks in response to converting Hagia Sophia into mosque

July 13 2020

A German politician has called for ending the accession talks between the European Union and Turkey following Ankara’s decision to convert Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia into a mosque.

Florian Hahn, the CDU/CSU’s parliamentary group’s spokesperson on European affairs, urged giving a response to Turkey’s move, saying that it was “a provocation of the common European culture.”

He also said that Ankara’s move shows the “alienation of Turkey that has been growing for years” from the EU.

“We should have the courage to end the EU accession negotiations with Turkey,” Hahn said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared Hagia Sophia a mosque on July 10 with the first Muslim prayers to begin in two weeks, after a top court ruled the ancient building’s conversion to a museum by modern Turkey’s founding statesman was illegal.


Major London mosques to reopen on July 25

July 14 2020

Last week the Coordination Committee for Mosques and Islamic Centres in London met to review whether it would be safe to reopen mosques due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

The committee decided that the importance of the preservation of life was the fundamental consideration, especially given the heightened risk to BAME communities.

It concluded that mosques will consider reopening for congregational prayers from July 25th July with with a phased reopening of some mosques from July 13th for limited prayers. The trial is intended to provide valuable experience to help ensure that communities are kept safe.

The decision to reopen on July 25 applies to: Islamic Cultural Centre & London Central Mosque; UKIM West London Islamic Centre; Finsbury Park Mosque; Al Manaar – Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre; Al Muntada Al Islami& WLICC; Muslim Welfare House; Mayfair Islamic Centre; Masjid Al Tawhid; Al-Nagashi Mosque & Centre.

Dr Muhammmed Umar Ebrahimsa, specialist in Infectious Diseases and General Medicine, said: “Data released prior to July 4 2020 by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), suggests that we remain on the cusp of an increase in the number of infections in the London region, with an R of 0.8-1.1 or a growth rate of infections of between -4 and +2%.

“On 4 July itself, the government put in place a further reduction of social distancing and allowed the reopening of most of businesses and venues. The impact of these changes in activity on the number of infections is likely to become apparent 2-3 weeks { July 25th}. following their introduction.

“In view of the vulnerabilities of the community and the possibility of increasing infection in the London region and uncertainty of the impact of recent changes on the community, I would recommend re-evaluating the recommencement of congregational prayers in mosques from July 25th. Simultaneously a trial gradual recommencement of limited congregational prayers in a select number of mosques could enable us to assess what the impact of further reopening might be.”

To date more than 60,000 persons have died as a result of COVID-19 in the UK, more than one tenth of global coronavirus deaths. The daily death rate from COVID-19 continues to remain around 150 deaths a day, in excess of the death rate at the time that the lockdown commenced in the UK on March 23.

Coronavirus has also had a disproportionate impact on the Muslim community perhaps due to living conditions and the high representation of Muslims in jobs associated with a high mortality from COVID-19.

The government gave the green light for mosques around England to reopen their doors on July 4, and many mosques are indeed operating now with social distancing restrictions.

But many others have yet to open their doors and have concluded that the most effective route of reducing the risk of transmission occurring within mosques is to avoid individuals (symptomatic or asymptomatic) with COVID-19 coming into the mosque.


Muslim Aid chief executive steps down after four years

13 Jul 2020

Jehangir Malik has left his position as chief executive of Muslim Aid after almost four years in the role.

He has since become programme director at the VCS Emergency Partnership and a patron at The Feast, according to his Linkedin profile.

Kashif Shabir has stepped up from his role as transformation and strategy director at Muslim Aid to become acting chief executive.

During his time at Muslim Aid, Malik implemented a new system of corporate governance and increased organisational capacity to deliver aid. He also oversaw the deployment of frontline support in countries including Somalia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Kenya, Pakistan, Sudan and Yemen.

Under his leadership, the charity played a prominent role in the relief effort following the Grenfell Tower tragedy in London in 2017.

Malik said: “I am extremely honoured to have played a key role for the organisation during hugely challenging times. I have witnessed the dedication, commitment and immense sacrifice of staff as they have worked tirelessly in implementing the charity’s mission and purpose.

“After almost four years of leading an inspirational team of people, I feel now is a good time to pass on the baton. I remain committed to helping to strengthen civil society in challenging times in light of Covid-19 and beyond.”

Data for the financial year ending 31 December 2018 states that the charity had an income of around £24.5m and spent £23.4m.

Iftikhar Awan, chair of the board of trustees of Muslim Aid, said: “We thank Jehangir for his contribution to Muslim Aid and we wish him well for the future. He joined the organisation at a critical time and has worked tirelessly to make a difference.”

Last year Muslim Aid commissioned independent investigators to look into serious allegations being made in what it described as a “malicious leaflet” circulating on social media. 

Muslim Aid had been the subject of a Charity Commission inquiry between 2013 and 2018, which led to a significant restructure of the charity. The inquiry found that Muslim Aid’s former trustees were responsible for serious mismanagement, as they failed to adequately oversee the charity's finances.

Its auditor warned last year that the charity may not be able to meet its financial obligations, with the charity reporting a £2.3m deficit in free reserves. The charity said at the time that the deficit occurred under other the previous management and that it was developing a recovery plan.


Johnson makes face coverings compulsory in shops in England

14 Jul 2020

The British government has made wearing a face covering compulsory in shops and supermarkets in England from next week.

"The Prime Minister has been clear that people should be wearing face coverings in shops and we will make this mandatory from July 24," a statement said last night from Boris Johnson's Downing Street office.

"There is growing evidence that wearing a face covering in an enclosed space helps protect individuals and those around them from coronavirus," it added.

Face coverings have been mandatory on public transport in England since 15 June, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock will formally extend that to shops and supermarkets, said Downing Street.

Mr Johnson said last week that tighter rules on wearing face coverings might be needed but senior minister, Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove, said on Sunday that wearing masks should be left instead to people's common sense.

However, during a visit to the London Ambulance Service yesterday, Mr Johnson offered the clearest signal he was going down the route of compulsion, saying the Government was looking at the "tools of enforcement".

Meanwhile, scientists advising the British government have warned that a second wave of coronavirus infections this winter could be more serious than the first, with 120,000 UK hospital deaths in a "reasonable worst-case scenario".

A new report from the Academy of Medical Sciences, commissioned by the government's chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance, says action must be taken now to mitigate the potential for a second peak of Covid-19.

It argues that hospitals could potentially see 120,000 Covid-19 deaths in between September and next June at the same time as battling a surge in demand due to usual winter pressures, including flu.

The report, from 37 scientists and academics, acknowledges there is a high degree of uncertainty about how the Covid-19 epidemic will evolve in the UK over the coming months, but sets out a "reasonable worst-case scenario" that would see the R rate rise to 1.7 from September.

The academic modelling suggests there could be a peak in hospital admissions and deaths in January and February 2021, similar to or worse than the first wave in spring 2020. It does not include deaths in the community or care homes.

The figures do not take account of government intervention to reduce the transmission rate, or the use of the drug dexamethasone in intensive care units, which has been shown to cut deaths.

Professor Stephen Holgate, a Medical Research Council clinical professor of immunopharmacology who led the study, said: "This is not a prediction, but it is a possibility.

"The modelling suggests that deaths could be higher with a new wave of Covid-19 this winter, but the risk of this happening could be reduced if we take action immediately.

"With relatively low numbers of Covid-19 cases at the moment, this is a critical window of opportunity to help us prepare for the worst that winter can throw at us."



South African Muslims hail Turkey's Hagia Sophia move



The head of a major Muslim group in South Africa hailed Turkey’s decision last week to turn Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia back into a mosque after decades as a museum.

The Muslim Judicial Council is proud that Hagia Sophia was opened for worship as a mosque, Shaykh Irfaan Abrahams, the group’s head, told Anadolu Agency on Monday.

He congratulated Turkey and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the decision, calling it “a historic turning point.”

The council also released a statement underlining their support for Turkey’s decision and the country’s importance for Muslims.

Muslims make up about 2% of South Africa’s population of 57 million.

The Muslim Judicial Council, founded in 1945, is known as one of the country’s most important Muslim groups.

On Friday, a Turkish court annulled a 1934 Cabinet decree that had turned Hagia Sophia into a museum, paving the way for its use again as a mosque after an 85-year hiatus. Before that, it had been a mosque for nearly 500 years.


Mahmoud Dicko, the populist imam challenging Mali’s President Keita


With no end in sight to Mali’s economic and security crises, a prominent conservative cleric has emerged as the most potent challenge to a widely discredited political establishment perceived as having run out of ideas and solutions.

Days after orchestrating a protest movement that brought down Mali’s prime minister, in April last year, popular cleric Mahmoud Dicko was asked whether he intended to trade religion for politics.

“I am not a politician, but I am a leader and I have opinions,” he told French-speaking magazine Jeune Afrique. “If that is political, then yes, I am political.”

Just over a year later, the prominent imam is at the forefront of an even larger protest movement that has brought tens of thousands of protesters to the streets of Bamako to call for another resignation — that of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the embattled Malian president commonly known as IBK.

Protesters accuse Keita and his government of failing to address Mali’s multiple crises, ranging from a continued jihadist insurgency in the north, to intercommunal violence in the centre and a crippling economic crisis in the south, where 90 percent of the country’s population lives.

Triggered by the disputed results of legislative elections in March, the recent protests turned violent at the weekend as security forces cracked down on protesters and opposition leaders, killing at least four people in Bamako’s worst civil unrest in years.

The protest movement has brought together a motley coalition of opposition politicians, anti-corruption activists and religious figures — with Dicko acting as the undisputed crowd puller, whipping up hostility towards the government and then calling for restraint.

A one-time Keita ally, the 66-year-old cleric is no political novice. Dubbed the “people’s imam” by his own supporters, he has played a prominent role in public life for more than a decade, chairing the country’s High Islamic Council from 2008 to 2019.

Dicko was born into a leading family from Timbuktu , the ancient “city of 333 saints”. As with other local religious leaders, his brand of Islam defies easy categorisation, blending the social conservatism nurtured by his training in Saudi Arabia with a form of reverence for the mystical traditions of West Africa.

The imam first rose to prominence in 2009, leading a protest campaign that forced Mali’s then President AmadouToumani Touré to water down a reform of family law that would have expanded women’s rights. More recently, he secured the withdrawal of a school textbook that touched on the subject of homosexuality.

In between, the outspoken cleric stirred outrage by suggesting the 2015 terrorist attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako was divine punishment for Malians who “imported” homosexuality from the West.

And while he welcomed France’s military intervention to repel jihadist insurgents in 2013, he has since likened the troops’ continued presence to colonial-era practices, stoking an anti-French sentiment that has angered Paris and embarrassed Mali’s president.

But the troublesome imam wasn’t always a thorn in Keita’s side. In 2013, he backed IBK for the presidency and accompanied him on several trips abroad — most notably in the Gulf, where his Saudi connections were particularly valued.

His conservative credentials also facilitated on-off talks with jihadi insurgents back home, as Keita’s government alternated between armed confrontation and attempts to sway the more moderate, homegrown factions.

The decision by former prime minister SoumeylouBoubèyeMaïga to relieve Dicko of that role precipitated the imam’s fallout with the government. Angered by the snub, the “people’s imam” rallied tens of thousands of supporters last year to call for the PM’s removal — which he duly obtained.

According to sociologist Bréma Ely Dicko (no relation), both the cleric and his mentor Mohamed OuldBouyéHaïdara, also known as the chériif de Nioro, felt sidelined by the government they once supported. “They were both frustrated, and the regime they once helped became the regime they had to fight,” he explained.

In further evidence of his scarcely concealed political ambitions, Mahmoud Dicko quit the High Islamic Council later that year to found his own Islamist movement, the Coordination des Mouvements, Associations et Sympathisants (CMAS). Since then, Mali’s fractured opposition has gravitated around his movement, hoping to tap on its broad appeal.

“Many opposition figures who would have stood no chance of seizing power are now relying on the imam and his followers for leverage, thereby handing him considerable political clout,” said analyst Aly Younkara in an interview with French daily Le Monde.

With Keita’s many foes now loosely allied in the so-called June 5 Movement (M5), named after the first day of protests last month, Dicko has emerged as the unofficial spokesperson for the many grievances voiced by Malians exasperated by the continuing economic and security crisis.

“We have problems between communities, within the army and even between clerics – problems everywhere,” Dicko told FRANCE 24’s sister company, radio RFI in June. “There is poor governance and a deep malaise in the country. Corruption is rampant. I say it and I say it again!”

The latest wave of protests was sparked by a dispute over parliamentary elections, which saw the country’s constitutional court reverse provisional results and hand additional seats to the president's party. The decision infuriated many Malians, exasperated by cronyism and corruption in a country starved of functioning public services.

Keita, who won a second term in 2018, has sought to appease the protesters by promising to dissolve the court and re-run elections for some contested seats. But the weekend’s bloodshed and the arrest of several M5 leaders have hardened the movement.

"We are not going to accept this nonsense," one M5 spokesman, Nouhoum Togo, told REUTERS on Sunday, referring to the president’s proposals. "We demand [Keita’s] resignation plain and simple."

As the crisis festers, much will depend on Dicko’s stance in the coming weeks — and how far he can control Mali’s feuding opposition leaders, many of whom are both more secular and more confrontational vis à vis Keita than he is.

In a sign of the imam’s clout, and of the growing importance of religious leaders in a secular state with a mainly Muslim population, both Keita’s envoys and international mediators have been sounding out the imam before reaching out to the traditional opposition.

On Saturday, Dicko’s supporters erected barricades around his mosque in Bamako, fearing an attempt to arrest the popular imam. But the cleric himself struck a more conciliatory tone, appealing for calm and an end to the violence.

Speaking to FRANCE 24 ahead of the weekend protests, Dicko claimed the opposition had dropped its demand for the president to step down, but wanted further gestures from him.

“We think it [the resignation] will cause more problems than it will resolve," he explained. "Mali's problem is not about a government of national unity. It is a problem of governance." The imam stressed that change must be secured through peaceful means, adding: “My age and my position command that I be measured.”

He repeated that message on Sunday, as some opposition leaders reportedly went into hiding to escape arrest, pleading for calm in a video message posted online: “Do not set fire to petrol stations or this district. Calm down, please! Calm down!


Accused Islamist Extremist Mali War Crimes Trial Set to Start Tuesday in ICC

July 14, 2020

An alleged Islamist arrested in Mali is set to go on trial Tuesday at the International Criminal Court for orchestrating war crimes and crimes against humanity in the city of Timbuktu.

Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud was arrested in 2018 in Mali, where he was said to be a key member of Ansar Dine  ("Defenders of the Faith"), a militant group that ruled northern Mali for nearly a year in 2012.  

Prosecutors allege Al Hassan orchestrated a range of crimes, including torture, rape, sexual slavery and other inhumane acts. The chief prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda said, Al Hassan was also accused of being involved in the destruction of ancient artifacts that paid homage to supposed idols.


12 accused walk free as Verulam mosque bombing case struck from roll

July 14, 2020

The Verulam Magistrate's Court on Monday struck off the roll the case against FarhadHoomer and 11 others who had been accused of terror attacks in the Durban area in May and October 2018.

In October 2018, police initially arrested 19 people on charges relating to the planting of a number of incendiary devices at various locations in and around Durban over the course of several months as well as the fatal knife attack in May of that year at the Imam Hussain mosque in Verulam which claimed the life of Abbas Essop, News24 reported.

The police swooped on them in a series of raids during which a Tanzanian man was also found chained in what they described as a dungeon in a Reservoir Hills property belonging to Hoomer. It's believed the Tanzanian man was being held ransom.

The accused were initially facing seven charges relating to 11 incidents. Charges against seven of the men were dropped early on in proceedings because they weren't positively identified during an identity parade.

On Monday, KwaZulu-Natal National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Natasha Kara said the State had brought a postponement application for further investigations as there were several outstanding aspects of investigation.

JUST IN: The case against Durban’s 12 terror accused men has been struck off the roll. The men appeared in court today. The matter was struck off the roll as the state had asked for a further postponement. The case has been ongoing for the last 1 year and 9 months. @etvNewsSA

"This includes voluminous downloads and cellphone analysis. At the time when the accused were arrested, there was a large number of cellphones recovered, which has resulted in the extensive investigation," Kara said.

The State presented an argument for postponement in order to finalise the investigation. A trial could not proceed without this investigation being completed as a matter of this nature requires extensive investigation.

Kara said a prosecutor has a duty to ensure all necessary evidence required to prove a case beyond reasonable doubt be obtained before setting the matter for trial.

"There have been numerous engagements between the investigators and prosecution in this matter. Senior Magistrate Irfaan Khalil declined the State's application and struck the matter off the court roll, citing unreasonable delays as he found the matter had been on the court roll for almost two years.

The court further ruled that once the investigation is completed the State will have to obtain the authority of the Director of Public Prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal to reinstate a prosecution against the accused in this matter.

"The matter is being closely monitored and worked on together by the SAPS and the prosecutors of the Organised Crime Office of the NPA. Investigations will continue," Kara added.

TimesLIVE reported that Hoomer, Ahmed Haffejee‚ GoolamHaffejee‚ Thabit Mwenda‚ Mohamad Akbar‚ Seiph Mohamed‚ Amani Mayani‚ Abubakar Ali‚ Abbas Jooma‚ MahammedSobruin‚ NdikumanaShabani and Iddy Omari celebrated jubilantly moments after their case was struck from the roll.


Tunisia’s President Saied rejects Islamist Ennahda’s call for government change

13 July 2020

Tunisia’s Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party, the largest in parliament, called Monday for consultations to appoint a new prime minister, a move opposed by President Kais Saied.

Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh was sworn in in February after winning a confidence vote in parliament following four months of post-election deadlock amid tensions with Ennahdha.

Fakhfakh is under investigation over alleged failure to hand over control of shares he owns in private companies that have won public contracts.

Ennahdha consultative council asked party leader Rached Ghannouchi “to carry out consultations... on a change of government,” council president Abdelkarim Harouni said.

“The economic and social situation is very serious and can only be overcome by a government whose head is not suspected of any conflict of interest,” he told a news conference.

“There will be no consultations so long as the prime minister remains in power,” his office said in a statement after a meeting with the premier.

In a related development, the head of Tunisia’s Free Destourian Party (Free Constitutional Party) bloc AbirMoussi said on Monday that Ennahdha’s leader Rached Ghannouchi, cannot topple the government through a no confidence vote.

Fakhfakh said last month that the economy would shrink by some six percent this year as “all state enterprises are in bankruptcy.”


Tunisia PM will reshuffle cabinet amid row with moderate Islamist Ennahda party

JULY 14, 2020

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisia’s Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh said on Monday he will conduct a cabinet reshuffle in the coming days amid a row with the moderate Islamist Ennahda party, in what appears to be a step to remove Ennahda ministers in the government.

Ennahda said on Monday that it wants a new government, adding that the current coalition had lost credibility due to allegations of conflicts of interest involving Fakhfakh.

An independent member of parliament published documents last month indicating that the prime minister owns shares in companies that had won deals worth 44 million dinars ($15 million) from the state.

With Fakhfakh’s announced cabinet reshuffle, Ennahda may find itself out of power for the first time in six years. Ennahda was the main player in most governments after the 2011 revolution that ended the rule of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and sparked the Arab Spring.

Unlike the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which was overthrown by the Egyptian army years ago, Ennahda avoided attempts by its opponents to isolate it and thenshared power with secular competitors in 2014.

Fakhfakh’s decision will increase the political conflict in the country, which is experiencing a tense situation in parliament and the government just formed five months ago.

At least five Tunisian parties plan to launch a vote of no confidence in parliamentary speaker Rached Ghannouchi who has been accused of partisan interests.

Fakhfakh strongly criticized Ennahda, saying in statement that Ennahda’s calls violated governmental solidarity and continued to furnish a crisis scene only for its partisan interest.


Southeast Asia


Zuraida: Third vote in Malaysia would cost RM2m per local council, RM308m for all

14 Jul 2020


KUALA LUMPUR, July 14 — The projected cost of local government elections for Malaysia’s 154 local councils is RM308 million, Housing and Local Government Minister ZuraidaKamaruddin told Parliament today.

In her reply to Bukit Bendera MP Wong Hon Wai during Minister’s Question Time, she said her ministry’s study of the matter put the cost for each local council election at RM2 million.

“From the legal aspect, we need to amend a few Acts and Regulations. Among the amendments that need to be made were to the Local Government Act 1976 and Local Government Elections Act 1960.

“We also need to look at the financial implication aspect of conducting a local government election and take into account the implementation mechanism of the federal government, state government and local authorities.

“The cost for each local government election is RM2 million for each local council. The total will be RM308 million for all 154 local councils nationwide,” said Zuraida.

Zuraida stressed that the so-called “third vote” was crucial to empower local authorities while strengthening Malaysia’s democratic process.

PokokSena MP (PH) Datuk Mahfuz Omar then asked Zuraida if Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition party PAS has agreed to local elections as it was previously against the idea.

Zuraida shot back at her ally-turned-rival by saying that none from the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition had given her any support when the prime minister then, Langkawi MP Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, expressed disagreement.

“I’ve been waiting for this question, PokokSena. When I raised this agenda in the previous PH administration, I was told off by Langkawi (Dr Mahathir).


Speaker tells Baling MP to apologise, withdraw ‘gelap’ and ‘pakaibedak’ remarks

14 Jul 2020


KUALA LUMPUR, July 14 — New Speaker Datuk AzharAzizan Harun ordered Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim (BN – Baling) to apologise to KasthuriraaniPatto (PH – Batu Kawan) for offensive remarks he directed at her yesterday.

The former Election Commissions chief said Abdul Azeez’s description of the ethnic Indian lawmaker as gelap (dark) and recommendation that she pakaibedak (use facial powder) were unparliamentary and offensive.

“After going through the Hansard, I have made the decision that the words spoken are offensive. I instruct Baling to apologise and to retract that statement,” said Azhar, who is also known as Art.

Azeez aimed the remarks at Kasthuriraani yesterday and triggered an uproar in the Lower House.

After the Speaker’s orders today, Abdul Azeez said he will comply but wished to explain himself first.

“I had no intention of calling anyone with a racist slur. I was sitting in that same spot for two years. That area is very dark, it usually doesn’t receive any attention from the Speaker.

“When I said dark, I meant the area is dark, it’s not very visible. I think it’s important for netizens to know that I wasn’t calling any person dark because Allah has made me dark too. So, there’s no reason for me to call anyone dark.

Azhar then reminded the federal lawmakers to avoid sexist, racist, offensive and unparliamentary terms.

Kasthuriraani then stood up and thanked Azhar for his decision but pressed him for a harsher penalty against Abdul Azeez.

She accused the backbencher of being a repeated offender when it comes to sexist and racist statements.

However, Azhar dismissed this and said he needed to continue with the day’s proceedings.


Ex-PKR MPs seated with Bersatu reps in Parliament for ‘strategic reasons’, says Zuraida

14 Jul 2020


KUALA LUMPUR, July 14 — The former PKR lawmakers who left the party with Gombak MP Datuk Seri Azmin Ali were seated with Bersatu MPs in the Dewan Rakyat as it was “strategic” for them to do so, said ZuraidaKamaruddin.

The housing and local government minister also told reporters today that the 11 MPs who helped form the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government have not joined Bersatu yet.

“For strategic reasons in the Dewan Rakyat, we are labelled as Bersatu but we are not technically in Bersatu. We are still refining how we should be moving into Bersatu.

“We are waiting for Bersatu to finish its party elections and annual general meeting first. Then we will move into Bersatu. We are also waiting for them to amend the party constitution.

Azmin and his faction left PKR in February after his long-running cold war with PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim erupted into open hostilities prior to his exit.

Their departure, along with Langkawi MP Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s resignation as prime minister, had triggered the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration after 22 months in government.

The Perikatan Nasional administration took over in the vacuum, with Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as the prime minister supported by Umno, PAS and GPS.

Azmin and his group were initially presented as joining Bersatu but later clarified that they have not yet entered the party officially and were technically independents.


Malaysia does not give citizenship easily, says Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin

14 Jul 2020

KUALA LUMPUR, July 14 ― Malaysia is a sovereign country that will not give citizenship easily, including to stateless children, according to Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin.

The citizenship status of an individual is determined on the basis of the biological parents’ nationality and the legal status of the marriage at the time of birth, in line with provisions under the Federal Constitution, Citizenship Rules 1964 and other related legislations, he explained.

“Parents and guardians of stateless children or individuals whose citizenship status have not been determined should submit valid supporting documents to the government before their citizenship applications can be approved as there had been many citizenship-related cheating cases reported,” he said during question time at the Dewan Rakyat sitting here today.

The minister said this in reply to Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen (PH-Bandar Kuching) who wanted to know about the government’s plan to ease the process for stateless children in the country to obtain Malaysian citizenship so that the problem could be solved faster and in a holistic manner.

Hamzah said the Home Ministry had improved the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Citizenship Application under Article 15A of the Federal Constitution with shorter processing period for complete applications received from this year.

He said the improvement of the SOP was based on compliance with the provisions under Part III of the Federal Constitution and the Citizenship Rules 1964 and also took into account various aspects including the welfare of the applicants without neglecting the safety and wellbeing of the existing citizens.

Replying to a supplementary question from Datuk Seri MohdShafieApdal (Warisan-Semporna) on the solution to the stateless children issue, Hamzah said:

“What’s important is for us to see that if we cannot give citizenship, we will make sure that they have an identity to live in our country. For me, they are citizens of the world, whether they are in Sabah or elsewhere.

“They are human and that’s why we have to ensure that they have an identity...that’s what we should do, not simply giving citizenship to all stateless children,” he said.


North America


Islamic groups collaborate to fight against racism after death of George Floyd

By Karen Jordan

July 14, 2020

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Of the dozens of billboards that line I-294, some Muslim organizations are hoping one, in the northbound lanes near Grand Avenue will stand out.

"The billboard is symbolic of the need to maintain awareness in our community of the presence of systemic racism," said Gregory Abdullah Mitchell.

The billboard is part of a campaign launched by the Islamic groups GainPeace, the Council for Social Justice and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago.

"We all acknowledge that this country was built on the backs of slaves but the reality is racism in this country is still prevalent to this day," said activist Aminah Ahmed.

Similar billboards went up in Atlanta and Canada. The organizations also mailed 50,000 postcards like these denouncing racism to homes around the country.

"We as Americans, we as people of concern are in solidarity with people of color. People of all races and people of all backgrounds," said Dr.Sabeel Ahmed with GainPeace.


Election Advisory: CAIR Urges Muslim Voters in Alabama, Maine and Texas Muslims to Participate in State Elections Tomorrow

Ibrahim Hooper

July 13, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C.– The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, is urging all eligible Muslim voters in Alabama, Maine and Texas to safely participate in their respective state primary and runoff elections scheduled to take place tomorrow, July 14th. Voting by mail where possible is strongly encouraged.

CAIR encourages individuals who plan on voting in person to abide by the recommended precautions for preventing the spread of COVID-19 as outlined by the CDC. These include wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.

For more information about voting by mail visit CAIR’s new 2020 election website Muslims.Vote and read CAIR’s 50 state guide on voting by mail, which provides information on what to do for the November 3rd General Election.

The guide contains a lists upcoming election dates, whether an excuse is needed to vote absentee and deadlines for requesting and submitting absentee ballots.

This election advisory is a part of CAIR’s 2020 General Election “Muslims Vote Campaign” to increase Muslim voter turnout nationwide.

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertadesciviles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanesen los Estados Unidos.


CAIR-MI Seeks Hate Crime Probe of Warren Mosque Vandalism

Ibrahim Hooper

July 13, 2020

(FARMINGTON HILLS, MI, 7/13/20) – The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) today urged law enforcement authorities to investigate the recent vandalism of a new Islamic center in Warren, Mich., as a possible hate crime.

Community members of Al Ihsaan Islamic Center arrived on Saturday morning to find several of the center’s windows broken and a hammer left at the scene.  The Warren Police Department has taken an incident report of the vandalism but has not stated whether or not the incident will be investigated as a potential hate crime.

“Because of increasing hate incidents targeting houses of worship and minority communities nationwide, we urge local, state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate this act of vandalism as a possible hate crime,” said CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid. “Given the history of tense race relations and anti-Muslim incidents in Warren, it is important that law enforcement investigates this incident with the seriousness that it deserves.”

Walid also nated that there is a history in Warren of opposition to the establishment and expansion of Islamic centers as well as incidents of other mosques being targets of anti-Muslim vandalism and threats in the same locality.

CAIR urges mosques and other Islamic institutions to take measures outlined in its “Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety” booklet. Advice offered in CAIR’s security publication is applicable to all institutions, regardless of organizational mission.

CAIR-MI is a chapter of CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice and empower American Muslims.


Coronavirus: California shuts bars, indoor dining and most gyms and churches

14 July 2020

California governor Gavin Newsom has extended the closure of bars and indoor dining statewide and ordered gyms, churches and hair salons to shut in most places as coronavirus cases keep rising in the nation’s most populated state.

On July 1, Mr Newsom ordered 19 counties with a surging number of confirmed infections to close bars and indoor operations at restaurants, wineries, zoos and family entertainment centres like bowling alleys and miniature golf.

He also imposed additional restrictions on the 30 counties now with rising numbers, including the most populated of Los Angeles and San Diego, by ordering worship services to stop and gyms, hair salons, indoor malls and offices for non-critical industries to shut down.

He did not include schools, which are scheduled to resume in a few weeks in much of the state, but the two largest school districts, San Diego and Los Angeles, announced their students would start the school year with online learning only.

California's lockdown comes as the US as a whole struggles with increasing cases - accounting for around a quarter of the world's 13 million cases.

At the weekend, Florida recorded the largest single-day increase in cases in any state since the beginning of the pandemic, with 15,299 recorded.

On Saturday, the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom reopened at Walt Disney World in Orlando, concerning health experts who have urged people not to gather in groups.

But the order devastated the world’s fifth-largest economy, with more than 7.5 million people filing for unemployment benefits.

Like other states that took similar steps, a subsequent rise in cases and hospital admissions led him to impose new restrictions this month.

He has compared his strategy of opening and closing businesses to a “dimmer switch”, highlighting the flexibility needed as public health officials monitor the virus’s progress



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