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Islamic World News ( 10 Apr 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Islamic Body, Rights Group Denounce Anti-Muslim Violence at Hindu Festival

New Age Islam News Bureau

10 April 2023

Devotees take part in a religious procession to celebrate the annual Hindu festival of Ram Navami in Ahmedabad on March 30, 2023.


• Palestine Supporters Rally In Manhattan To Condemn Israeli Raid On Al-Aqsa

• Pro-Palestinian Activists In London Hold ‘Emergency Protest’ Against Israel Attacks

• Saudi Officials Arrive In Iran To Discuss Reopening Diplomatic Missions

• Israel Shuts Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque To Muslim Worshipers For Passover



• Muslims Donate Land For Hanuman Temple In Riot-Hit Bihar’s Kishanganj

• Case Registered Against A Senior BJP leader For 'India Will Become Muslim Nation In 5-7 Years' Remark

• Karnataka: After row over Muslim-owned stalls last year, temple decides on no stalls

• Gujarat: Hindutva leader Kajal Hindusthani arrested over hate speech


North America

• Man charged over hate crime at mosque near Toronto, police say

• US pushes Turkiye over sanctions compliance against Russia

• Canadian trade minister condemns Islamophobic attack at mosque

• New Jersey imam in stable condition after being stabbed during morning prayer service, local officials say



• Good Friday Agreement marked amid rise in IRA terrorism threat in Northern Ireland

• EU voices concern over escalation of violence in Israel, Palestine, Lebanon

• UN rights chief expresses alarm at current tense situation in Sudan

• UK Muslim charities hand out food as economic crisis bites: Report


Arab World

• Saudi, Omani delegates negotiate ‘near-final’ peace deal with Houthis in Sanaa

• Israel hits Syria after rockets fired towards Golan Heights

• Saddam's Statues And Images Erased, But Hopes Of Iraqi People Remain Unfulfilled

• Pope appeals to Russians on Ukraine, decries Middle East violence, in Easter message

• ISIS land mine kills at least 6 civilians in Syria

• Saudi Arabia’s KSrelief distributes over 151 tons of food aid in six countries

• Fourth batch of Saudi oil derivatives grant arrives in Aden, Yemen

• Al-Saidan Mosque in Al-Jouf to undergo renovation under Prince Mohammed bin Salman project

• Saudi Arabian mobile clinics provide treatment services in Yemen

• Lebanon’s recovery requires trustworthy leader: Al-Rahi



• Iranian Speaker Vows Tough Response Awaits Israel over Al-Aqsa Mosque Raid

• Iranian Prez calls for ‘united front’ among Muslim states to support Palestinians

• Iran Successfully Tests Another Suicide Drone

• IRGC Chief Underlines Arab Nations Unwillingness to Normalize Ties with Israel

• Iran Warns of Israeli Plots to Undermine Regional Peace

• Israel rejects claim Mossad backed judiciary overhaul protests

• After days of tension, violence Jerusalem prayers end peacefully

• Israeli forces shoot dead Palestinian in West Bank

• Pope expresses ‘deep concern’ over Israel-Palestinian violence

• Hamas, Islamic Jihad vow to continue resistance on anniversary of Deir Yassin massacre



• Terrorist Attacks Kill 44 In Northern Burkina Faso: Official

• Jordan warns of ‘catastrophic’ results of ongoing Israeli violations at Al-Aqsa Mosque

• Jordan says rocket debris fell in its territories after blast near Syrian border

• UN rights chief voices alarm on tensions in Sudan

• At least 23 missing, four die in migrant shipwrecks off Tunisia

• Senegalese dessert symbolizes Christian-Muslim solidarity



• Ulema, Traders Vow To Help Police Maintain Peace

• PTI Issues Scathing ‘White Paper’ On PDM’s Rule

• Imran Khan: 'We wanted to get cheap Russian crude oil just like India...'

• Imran Khan to present white paper against Pakistan govt's performance

• Political parties concerned over new military operation

• Complainant in Imran attack case dies of cardiac arrest

• Security forces kill 2 terrorists in Waziristan operations: ISPR

• Rangers, police arrest 2 TTP men for ‘extortion, targeted killings’ in Karachi

• Conference to be held on Islam, Saudi-Pakistan ties on Monday

• Pakistan welcomes more than 2,800 Sikh delegates joining Baisakhi celebrations


South Asia

• Afghan Special Forces Kill Two Islamic State Fighters In Raid

• Afghanistan Ranks 4th in Crime Rate Rankings: WPR

• One of 3 British detainees in Afghanistan is ex-UK soldier

• Afghanistan: Amid intense drought, Afghan farmers in fear drop in crop yield


Southeast Asia

• Malaysian Teaches Malay Language, Islamic Education To Thai Children For Free

• Bank Islam offers chance of trip to Turkiye in UEFA 2023 campaign

• Not obligatory for countries to follow one another in determining end of Ramadan: Muis

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Islamic Body, Rights Group Denounce Anti-Muslim Violence at Hindu Festival

Shaikh Azizur Rahman

April 09, 2023

Devotees take part in a religious procession to celebrate the annual Hindu festival of Ram Navami in Ahmedabad on March 30, 2023.


The Organization of Islamic Cooperation or OIC, a Saudi Arabia-based global Islamic body, has denounced violence that targeted Muslims in different Indian states during the annual Hindu festival of Ram Navami last week and called on the Indian government to take action against the perpetrators.

Human Rights Watch expressed concerns, too, noting in an April 5 statement that “India’s Hindu festivals are increasingly being used by the ruling Hindu majoritarian Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to rally voters,” leading to an increase in anti-Muslim violence across the country. The rights group also noted the festival coincided with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The Indian government has condemned the OIC and said that its statement showed its “communal mindset” and “anti-India agenda.”

Ram Navami is an annual Hindu festival to celebrate the birth of Ram, a Hindu deity. During the day of Ram Navami, Hindus traditionally participate in processions in which the Hindu epic Ramayana— the tale of Prince Ram’s quest to save his wife — is recited.

In recent years, however, following the rise of Hindu right-wing forces across India, the Ram Navami processions often see large numbers of people brandishing sticks, swords, machetes and even guns.

As the processions pass through minority Muslim neighborhoods, they sometimes play anti-Muslim songs with hate-spewing lyrics — commonly known as “Hindutva pop” — on the music system, and chant abusive slogans targeting Muslims.

Last week, anti-Muslim violence broke out in several places across the country after armed revelers from Ram Navami processions violently attacked Muslims. In Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Bihar, West Bengal and other states, communal tension and violence clashes broke out during Ram Navami processions.

In Bihar’s Sharif town, men from the Ram Navami procession physically attacked Muslims, forcing some of them to chant “Jai Shri Ram,” meaning Hail Lord Ram, in Hindi, and beat them up before vandalizing and setting fire to a madrasa and an attached 113-year-old Islamic library. A madrasa is a religious school.

In last week's statement, HRW South Asia Director Meenakshi Ganguly noted that the Hindu mobs attacking Muslims are “emboldened by a sense of political patronage that affords them impunity.”

“The record shows that it is usually Muslims who are unfairly targeted by the authorities… The BJP governments at every level have adopted discriminatory laws and policies targeting religious minorities, and its leaders and affiliates make frequent anti-minority remarks, including inciting violence,” the HRW statement said.

The OIC called last week’s violent attacks on Muslims in India “provocative acts of violence and vandalism.”

While taking note of the burning of the madrasa and library in Bihar, in its April 4 statement, the 57-member organization said that the violence marked a “vivid manifestation of mounting Islamophobia and systemic targeting of the Muslim community in India.”

In other comments aimed at the OIC, Indian authorities said, “We strongly condemn the statement issued by [the] OIC Secretariat today regarding India. The OIC only does its reputation damage by being consistently manipulated by anti-India forces,” Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in a Twitter statement.

New Delhi-based senior BJP leader Alok Vats said he agreed that some unruly young people were infiltrating the Hindu religious rallies and giving a bad name to the community.

“It is true that of late some chauvinistic and divisive forces are trying to rip apart the social fabric of India. The states and the police forces under them are failing to restrain their nefarious designs. If not controlled with an iron hand, they can definitely ruin the peace and stability of India,” Vats told VOA.

The Hindu nationalist BJP is using Ram “to further its politics of Hindu supremacy,” Delhi University professor Apoorvanand, who uses one name, told VOA.

“The strategy is to evoke a feeling of supremacy and power among Hindus by forcibly carrying out processions, which are supposedly religious, but are in actuality an instrument for abusing and threatening Muslims. Armed processions are deliberately driven through Muslim-dominated localities; mosques are targeted, and violence is provoked,” Apoorvanand said. “This process widens the divide between Hindus and Muslims, implicates Hindu youth in violent acts and criminalizes the Hindu society.”

Zafarul-Islam Khan, former chairman of the Delhi Minorities Commission, said that Ram Navami processions are used by the BJP to polarize the society on communal lines, in a desperate attempt to win elections.

“They demonize Muslims by actively spreading hate and lies through social media. Their leaders deliver hate speeches aiming to whip up anti-Muslim passion in society. Also, they launch violent attacks against Muslims as they are during Ram Navami. All this is aimed to polarize Hindu votes,” Khan told VOA.

“In a Hindu-majority country, communal polarization always helps the Hindu nationalist BJP garner more Hindu votes and win elections.”

HRW’s Ganguly told VOA that India is looking to be an influential voice in world affairs, “one that speaks for the perspective of the global south.”

“To be effective in that role, the Indian government should set an example of upholding rights and celebrating diversity. Inciting and indulging attacks on religious minorities, particularly Muslims, bias in a justice system that unfairly targets minorities and government critics, is not just wrong, but also damages India’s reputation,” she said.

“If India seeks to be a true world leader, putting an end to human rights abuses in the country needs to be a priority,” she added.


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Palestine supporters rally in Manhattan to condemn Israeli raid on al-Aqsa

09 April 2023

Hundreds of people rally in Times Square, New York, to protest against the latest violence by Israeli forces against the Palestinian worshipers at al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, on April 7, 2023. (Photo via social media


Pro-Palestinian activists have held a rally in the heart of Manhattan, New York, in protest against the Israeli regime’s latest attack against the Palestinian worshipers at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied East al-Quds.

The crowd gathered in Times Square, the commercial and tourism center of New York City, on Saturday, waving Palestinian flags and chanting slogans such as “Free Palestine” to condemn the violent raid and demand an end to Israeli attacks.

The protesters criticized the silence of international bodies against the obvious crimes of the Zionist regime and demanded an end to the apartheid regime’s attacks on Palestinians

They also called for global support for the oppressed people of Palestine.

The protesters carried placards reading “Defend masjid Al-Aqsa” and “Hands off al-Aqsa,” and chanted slogans such as “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” “Resistance is justified when people are colonized,” and “There is only one solution; Intifada (uprising) revolution.”

Moreover, for two straight days in London, people rallied outside Israel’s embassy after footage of Israeli forces attacking Muslim worshipers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound went viral on social media.

Heavily armed Israeli forces stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Tuesday night before firing tear gas and stun grenades into the Qibli prayer hall, where hundreds of men, women, elderly people, and children were staying overnight to pray. Some eyewitnesses said rubber-coated steel bullets were also fired.

Israeli forces have wounded and rounded up hundreds of Palestinians during the attacks that have seen a rise since the beginning of the fasting month of Ramadan. Illegal Israeli settlers have, meanwhile, been freely violating the compound under the Israeli military and police force’s protection.

Palestinian resistance movements in the nearby Gaza Strip have been warning the regime that it would have to bear the consequences of the flare-up that it has brought about in al-Quds and beyond.

Since the start of the holy month, the Israeli regime has imposed strict restrictions on the entry and exit of Palestinians to and from the gates of al-Aqsa Mosque. Amid heightened tensions with Palestinian worshipers, Israeli settlers also press ahead with their frequent incursions and provocative rituals at the holy site.

On Thursday, at least 30 rockets were reportedly launched from southern Lebanon into the Israeli-occupied territories in retaliation against the Israeli aggression against al-Aqsa.

Resistance fighters based in Gaza also fired several rockets toward the occupied territories. Palestinian sources said the regime’s Iron Dome failed to intercept most of the retaliatory rockets.

Following the rocket attack, Israeli warplanes hit targets inside Gaza and positions of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas in Lebanon.

The Israeli regime has in recent months stepped up its atrocities, killing around 100 Palestinians this year alone.

As International Quds Day approaches, on April 14th, millions of people would rally around the world to show solidarity with the Palestinians and condemn Israeli atrocities.

The Quds Day, inaugurated by Ayatollah Khomeini, falls on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, during which rallies are held to keep alive the notion of resistance till the freedom of Palestine from the clutches of Zionist usurpers.

Source: Press TV

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Pro-Palestinian activists in London hold ‘emergency protest’ against Israel attacks

April 09, 2023

The protest was organized by FOA, in coordination with Stop the War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Muslim Association of Britain, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Palestinian Forum in Britain. (Supplied)


LONDON: Pro-Palestinian activists held an “emergency protest” outside the Israeli embassy in the UK capital, London, on Saturday demanding sanctions on Israel for its latest violence against Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa mosque.

Israeli police clashed with Palestinians inside Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque on Wednesday, with Israel bombarding both Gaza and Lebanon in response to rocket fire by Palestinian militants.

“Last night Israel also bombarded the besieged Gaza Strip, damaging Durra Children’s Hospital and injuring a 12-year-old child,” said the UK-based Friends of Al-Aqsa, a non-profit NGO concerned with defending the human rights of Palestinians.

“On Wednesday Israeli Occupation Forces beat worshippers with batons and rifles at the holiest site in Jerusalem for Muslims,” FOA said in a statement. “Yesterday Israeli forces attacked Palestinian men, women and children with tear gas, stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets.”

It also added that “Israeli attacks on Palestinian worshippers at Al-Aqsa are on the rise, particularly during Ramadan, under Israel’s illegal occupation and brutal apartheid regime.”

Dr. Ismail Patel, chair and founder of FOA said: “Enough is enough. We don’t need statements or words of condemnation from our MPs and leaders, we need sanctions on Israel, now.”

The protest was organized by FOA, in coordination with Stop the War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Muslim Association of Britain, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Palestinian Forum in Britain.

“It’s time to hold Israel accountable for its repeated brutal beatings of Palestinian worshippers, ongoing crimes against Palestinians and violations of international law,” Patel said.

“If these attacks were carried out by any other country the British government would not hesitate to impose sanctions today,” he said.

Source: Arab News

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Saudi officials arrive in Iran to discuss reopening diplomatic missions

08 April ,2023

Waving flag of Iran and Saudi Arabia (Stock illustration)


Saudi officials have arrived in Iran to discuss procedures for reopening Riyadh’s embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad after China brokered a deal to restore relations between the two regional powers, the Saudi foreign ministry said on Saturday.

After years of hostility that fueled conflicts across the Middle East, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to end their diplomatic rift and reopen their diplomatic missions in March.

Chinese President Xi Jinping helped broker the surprise deal which left the United States on the sidelines.

Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran in 2016 after its embassy in Tehran was stormed during a dispute between the two countries.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israel shuts Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque to Muslim worshipers for Passover

Awad Rajoub 


RAMALLAH, Palestine

Israel on Sunday closed the Ibrahimi Mosque in the West Bank city of Hebron to Muslim worshippers for two days due to Jewish holidays, according to the mosque director.

“Israeli forces closed the Ibrahimi Mosque and prevented the entry of Muslim worshipers, while Israeli settlers were allowed,” Ghassan Al-Rajabi told Anadolu.

He said the mosque will remain closed until Monday evening.

Palestinian activist Aref Jaber said the Israeli army erected military checkpoints in the vicinity of the mosque ahead of the Passover celebration.

The activist expected the arrival of tens of thousands of settlers from across the occupied West Bank to the mosque to celebrate the Jewish holiday.

Revered by both Muslims and Jews, Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque complex is believed to be the burial site of the prophets Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

After the 1994 massacre of 29 Palestinian worshippers inside the mosque by a Jewish extremist settler, Baruch Goldstein, the Israeli authorities divided the mosque complex between Muslim and Jewish worshippers.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Muslims Donate Land For Hanuman temple In Riot-Hit Bihar’s Kishanganj

10th April 2023

By Ramashankar

PATNA: With the wounds of a recent communal flare-up in Bihar’s Biharsharif and Sasaram towns still to heal, two Muslim brothers in the state’s Kishanganj district have set an example by deciding to ignore the atmosphere of distrust and proceed with fulfilling their father’s wish of donating land for the construction of a Hanuman temple.

The land, worth several lakhs of rupees, in Ruidhasa locality in Kishanganj was handed over on the day of Hanuman Jayanti on April 6. The foundation stone was laid the next day in a ceremony attended by the two brothers – Faiz Ahmad and Fazal Ahmad. 

Faiz Ahmed said his father Zulqarnain Ahmad had promised the Hindu families living in their neighborhood to donate land for the construction of a temple. He said his father had told him and his brother about it before he died of Covid-19 in 2020.

“Some Hindus approached us and told us that if we wanted, we can donate the land for the construction of a temple. We decided to donate the land to keep our father’s promise,” he added. Quoting from the Bhagavad Gita, Faiz said, “You did not bring anything when you were born. Whatever you have, you have received from Him. Whatever you will give, you will give to Him. You came empty handed and you will go the same way.”

Source: New Indian Express

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Case Registered Against A Senior BJP leader For 'India Will Become Muslim Nation In 5-7 Years' Remark

Arvind Ojha

Sreya Chatterjee

Apr 10, 2023

A man, who claims to be a senior BJP leader, gave a call for violence and made provocative statements against a particular community while addressing a panchayat organised by the United Hindu Front in north-east Delhi.

Jai Bhagwan Goyal, a person who describes himself as a senior BJP leader and was one of the organisers of the panchayat held in New Delhi, made controversial remarks during the programme.

Addressing the program, Jai Bhagwan Goyal said, "No Muslim leader has condemned PFI because all Muslims are the same. If we don't hit the streets with a trishul (trident) in our hands, India will become a Muslim nation in 5-7 years."

Not only this, he also called for an economic boycott of Muslims and asked everyone to aim for a Hindu nation. Among others who were present at the programme when these provocative statements were being made are Delhi BJP treasurer Ram Avtar Gupta and former Union Minister SatyanarayanJatiya.

Delhi Police have registered a case against Jai Bhagwan Goyal for making provocative statements.

On India Today’s query on whether Delhi Police will act against the organisers over hate speech, top officials said they are currently going through the speech and are in the process of registering an FIR.

It is to be noted that recently, the Supreme Court reprimanded the Delhi Police for the delay in filing the FIR and chargesheet in the case of use of indecent language in the Dharam Sansad hate speech case.


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Karnataka: After row over Muslim-owned stalls last year, temple decides on no stalls

9th April 2023

Mangaluru: A temple in coastal Karnataka has barred vendors from setting up shops in the shrine area during the ongoing annual temple fair that got underway on April 5.

The decision comes a year after a controversy had broken out when a banner was displayed outside Bappanadu Sri Durgaparameshwari Temple at Mulki in Mangaluru taluk asking the temple authorities not to allow Muslim vendors to set up stalls for the temple fair.

Speaking about the management committee’s decision to prohibit the stalls from being put up for this year’s festivities, temple hereditary trustee N S Manohar Shetty on Sunday said the temple stands as a symbol of communal harmony and thousands of people from different faiths, including Muslims, revere the deity.

“We were pained by last year’s development. The committee decided not to have any stalls in the temple area for the ongoing temple fair. We want the fair to go in a harmonious manner and did not want any controversy,” he said.

Shetty said vendors are free to erect stalls in the private property adjacent to the temple land if the owner agrees. A committee of volunteers is looking after the shops on the private land and a part of the money collected by the committee for allotment of shops is given to the temple, Shetty further said.

Source:Siasat Daily

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Gujarat: Hindutva Leader Kajal Hindusthani Arrested Over Hate Speech

9th April 2023

Right-wing leader Kajal Hindusthani has been arrested by the Gir Somnath police in Gujarat on Sunday over her recent hate speech.

At an event organised by Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) organisations, Kajal Hindusthani made an Islamophobic hate speech targetting Muslim women by listing out the ‘benefits’ of marrying into a Hindu household.

“You (Muslim women) will be protected by Hindu men of the family. No one can force or have incest with you. You do not need to wear a burqa at 45-degree Celsius heat,” were some of her remarks.

Soon after her speech, communal tension and stone pelting between the Hindus and Muslims were reported in the area. Two people were injured and 50 people were detained by the police.

Police also booked Kajal Hindusthani over her hate speech.

Source:Siasat Daily

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North America


Man charged over hate crime at mosque near Toronto, police say

APRIL 9, 2023

Canadian police arrested and charged a male suspect after what they called a "hate-motivated incident" at a mosque in the province of Ontario on Thursday in which he allegedly drove toward a worshipper and yelled threats and religious slurs, police said on Sunday.

The incident took place in the city of Markham while the suspect, 28-year-old Sharan Karunakaran, was later arrested in Toronto, the York Regional Police said in a statement.

Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng condemned the incident and called it a hate crime, saying it had no place in Canadian society.

The hate crime

The Islamic Society of Markham (ISM) said an individual had entered the mosque in Markham, 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) north of Toronto, on Thursday and apparently tore a Koran and ranted at worshippers. The police statement released on Sunday did not mention the Koran being torn.

The incident comes during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when worshippers throng to mosques. Thousands of people attend the mosque at Markham.

Police added they charged the suspect with uttering threats, assault with a weapon and dangerous driving. His next scheduled appearance will be at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Newmarket on Tuesday.


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US pushes Turkiye over sanctions compliance against Russia


April 09, 2023

ANKARA: Turkiye has pledged to ban the re-export of Western goods to Russia after the latest warning by the US State Department over sanctions compliance.

However, the NATO member, which is set to hold general and parliamentary elections on May 14, will still export domestic products to Russia.

Turkiye-Russia relations are again in the spotlight, with Ankara’s apparent neutrality over the Russia-Ukraine conflict proving a continuing source of tension with the US.

According to Reuters, James O’Brien, head of the US State Department’s Office of Sanctions Coordination, said that Turkish officials have been “very clear” about the ban on the re-export of sanctioned Western goods to Russia.

On March 20, the Istanbul Ferrous and Nonferrous Metals Exporters Association announced that the Turkish government provided companies with a list of foreign goods that are prohibited from being sent to Russia.

The announcement came soon after a visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Ankara.

Similarly, Ankara reportedly gave the European Commission verbal guarantees that sanctioned goods will not be sent to Russia from March 1.

However, this restriction does not cover goods made in Turkiye, which contain components from other countries that can still be exported to Russia without limitations.

Washington remains cautious and is committed to monitoring Turkish trade data with Russia from March and April.

During a press briefing last December, O’Brien warned Ankara over its sanctions compliance, saying that secondary curbs could be imposed on Turkiye in case of violations.

Meanwhile, several senior US officials have visited Turkiye since the Ukraine invasion to request the Turkish private sector, including banks, comply with US sanctions on Russia.

Turkiye served as a critical supply route for Russia after extensive sanctions were applied by several Western countries to prevent the Russian army from reusing imported products in weapons systems, such as microchips and chemicals

SonerCagaptay, director of the Turkish program at the Washington Institute, said it is an “open secret” that Turkiye has maintained trade connections with Russia since the invasion despite Western sanctions.

“All trade indicators more than doubled on an annual basis. It is part of Ankara’s pro-Ukraine neutrality policy,” he told Arab News.

Turkiye has also supported Ukraine militarily in a bid to balance the Black Sea security environment, said the director.

“Ankara also kept its economic ties with Russia. It benefited from investment flows, increased trade from Russia, and encouraged Russian oligarchs to bring their money in Turkiye and to buy houses,” he added.

The US government “is pushing against these efforts, and is going through compliance channels by warning businesses about not trading with Russia and not using Russian credit cards. And that is working and is bringing Turkish companies on board,” Cagaptay said.

Thousands of wealthy Russians have migrated to Turkiye since the invasion of Ukraine, buying property, bringing cash savings, opening hundreds of businesses to circumvent sanctions and attempting to make the country a financial haven for Russians. Turkiye is still one of Russia’s biggest trade partners.

Cagaptay said that if Turkiye’s government remains in power following the May 14 elections, Ankara will continue supporting Kyiv militarily, keeping economic ties with Moscow open and abiding by Western sanctions to a certain extent.

“In case of an opposition victory, it is unlikely that Turkiye will completely disengage from Russia economically because they have deep ties with Russia in various sectors ranging from energy to foodstuff and tourism,” he added.

“If the opposition wins, they will support Ukraine more politically, with an inclination toward a slow disengagement of some economic ties with Russia,” said Cagaptay.

As the US gears up for its 2024 election, experts have said that US President Joe Biden will take measures to isolate Russia further with fresh sanctions, and will demand more from Turkiye in addition to business compliance channels.

Cagaptay said the US will use government-to-government contacts to push Ankara into further disengagement from Russia.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan received Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Turkiye on April 7.

The visit coincided with a phone conversation between Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to discuss NATO expansion with Finland and Turkiye’s demand for new F-16 jets and modernization kits from the US.

Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, Ankara office director of the German Marshall Fund of the US, said that there is a difference between Turkiye avoiding sanctions against Russia and facilitating Russia’s circumvention of sanctions through the re-export of sanctioned products from Europe.

Referring to the latest statement from the US State Department, “it is the latter that Turkiye will limit, not its usual trade with Russia,” he told Arab News.

Unluhisarcikli added that the US will pay particular attention to dual-use items that can be used for both civilian and military purposes.

Source: Arab News

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Canadian trade minister condemns Islamophobic attack at mosque

09 April 2023

Canadian trade minister Mary Ng has denounced a hate-motivated Islamophobic attack at a mosque in Markham, Ontario when an individual desecrated a copy of the Holy Quran and attempted to ram worshipers with a vehicle.

"Deeply disturbed to hear of the violent hate crimes and racist behavior at the Islamic Society of Markham. To Muslims in Markham and Canada, I stand with you," Ng tweeted in a post on Twitter.

“During Ramadan, mosques are places of community and peace - and everyone should feel safe in their place of worship. This violence and Islamophobia has no place in our communities or in Canada,” she added on Twitter.

According to a statement issued by the Islamic Society of Markham (ISM), which is one of the oldest and largest Muslim institutions in Markham, on Thursday an individual arrived at the ISM with his car, and upon entering the mosque he tore a copy of the Holy Quran, ranted racial and Islamophobic slurs, and while leaving the place of worship, attempted to run over the worshipers with his vehicle.

Thousands of congregants attend the ISM, and the center is much busier because of the sacred month of Ramadan, the ISM said.

The attack comes during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which is considered the holiest month in the Islamic calendar

Canada is one of the top emerging centers of Islamophobia and hate crimes around the world, as it saw a rapid increase in the 21st century.  

Canadians with Middle Eastern backgrounds have also been specifically targeted and victimized by Islamophobia in the context of the September 11 attacks.

Source: Press TV

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New Jersey imam in stable condition after being stabbed during morning prayer service, local officials say

April 9, 2023

An imam is in stable condition after being stabbed during a Sunday morning prayer service at a mosque in Paterson, New Jersey, according to local officials.

Imam Sayed Elnakib was stabbed during the first prayer of the day, around 5:30 a.m., at Omar Mosque in south Paterson while the congregation was kneeling for prayer, mosque spokesperson Abdul Hamdan told CNN.

The suspect, who was unknown to congregants prior to Sunday’s incident, was performing prayers and “lunged forward with a knife and stabbed Imam Sayed multiple times – at least twice,” Hamdan said.

After the incident, the suspect attempted to flee from the mosque but congregants “were able to bring him down and apprehend him and hold him” until police arrived and arrested him, he said.

There were more than 200 congregants in the mosque at the time of the stabbing, Hamdan said. The spokesperson said he strongly believes that this was an isolated incident and assured all congregants “that the mosque is safe and to practice their faith, it is open.”

Mayor Andre Sayegh said he visited Imam Sayed Elnakib in the hospital soon after the incident. The mayor said the imam is in stable condition at St. Joseph’s University Medical Center.

CNN has contacted the medical center and did not receive an immediate response.

Sayegh said Elnakib was “in better spirits than before” Sunday afternoon and is being treated for a punctured lung. The mayor said a suspect was detained, but their motive is not clear.

The stabbing occurred during Ramadan, the holiest month of the Muslim calendar. In 2023, it runs from March 22 to April 20.

In a news conference Sunday, Sayegh commended the efforts of worshipers who apprehended the attacker and announced that there would be increased police presence at Paterson mosques.

“We appreciate the efforts of those here who were able to apprehend the assailant and we also want to reassure the family, the congregation at the mosque, that there will be extra police attention,” the mayor said.

“This is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar year and we want to make sure that the safety of those that are just coming to pray is a priority for us and that we take this situation very seriously,” he continued. “We want to let anyone who is coming to worship know that they can do this in peace without any fear of being attacked.”

The Paterson Police Department was taken over by the state attorney general’s office in late March, due to a “crisis of confidence” in the city’s law enforcement, the office said at the time. The attorney general’s office told CNN the stabbing is being investigated by the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office. CNN has reached out to the prosecutor’s office for further details.

Councilman Al Abdel-aziz, who represents the area where the attack happened, said in a Facebook update that he was “deeply saddened” by the stabbing.

“My heart goes out to everyone affected by this tragic event,” he said. “While it is unclear what motivated the attacker, there is no justification for violence of any kind, especially in a sacred space.”

“I am relieved to hear that Imam Sayed Elnakib is in stable condition, and wish him a full and speedy recovery,” the councilman added. “Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family during this difficult time. As a community, it is important that we come together to support one another and denounce all forms of hate and violence.”

A day earlier, the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called for a hate crime investigation after a separate incident in Paterson. The chapter said a sign at the Dr. Hani Awadallah public school in Paterson was defaced.

In a statement Saturday, the chapter’s executive director. SelaedinMaksut, said, “While the circumstances surrounding the incident remain unknown, the smearing of the word ‘Allah’ in Dr.Awadallah’s name is apparently intentional, with the remainder of the sign left untouched, making an immediate hate crime investigation into this incident necessary.”

“In 2022, we’ve recorded the highest number of complaints of anti-Muslim prejudices, at 152,” Maksut said. “Over the years, our records have shown that complaints increase around and during Ramadan, in part because Muslims are more visible and take up more space – physically and metaphorically.”

During the month of Ramadan, worshipers eat and hydrate before sunrise and fast until sunset. Worshipers also engage in other forms of practice including increased prayer, giving more to charity, volunteering and participating in communal meals.

Paterson is a city with a population of more than 150,000, according to the US Census Bureau, about 15 miles north of Newark.

The city is home to one of the largest Muslim communities in the state of New Jersey and that New Jersey has more Muslims per capita than any other state in the nation, according to Maksut.

Later Sunday, Hamdan performed the second prayer of the day at Omar Mosque, he said, along with 300 to 400 other worshipers. Prayers will continue throughout Sunday and moving forward, the spokesperson added.

Source: CNN

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Good Friday Agreement marked amid rise in IRA terrorism threat in Northern Ireland

Leila Nezirevic



A period of turmoil and bloody violence known as the Troubles was ended by the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland after three decades of sectarian violence.

The Agreement was signed on April 10, 1998, by then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Unionist and Republican politicians in Northern Ireland; Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA and the Irish government.

The Agreement became a model studied by peacemakers around the world, but, 25 years after the deal was made, peace is still fragile.

The legacy of the Good Friday Agreement is tested as sectarian strife is never far away.

The terror threat level in Northern Ireland has been increased from substantial to severe, meaning an attack is highly likely.

As US President Joe Biden prepares to visit the country to mark the Agreement’s 25th anniversary, police have warned that dissident Republicans are plotting terror attacks.

The chairman of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, Liam Kelly, said the escalation of the threat level was justified.

"It was clear dissident republican groups were still actively wedded to causing murder and destruction," he said.

The announcement followed the shooting of senior detective John Caldwell. The New IRA was blamed.

Chris Bambery, a political analyst and author, told Anadolu that the Good Friday Agreement was the only possible outcome at the time.

First, the British government recognized that it could defeat the Irish Republican Army (IRA) militarily, while on the other hand, the IRA understood that it was not going to defeat the British Army, he said.

The outset of the Agreement was initially opposed by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Ian Paisley as it took time for it to come to terms with the deal.

Since the agreement was formed, politics in Northern Ireland have changed in several ways that were not “foreseen” by the British and Irish governments in 1998.

Northern Ireland was created in 1921 to have a permanent Unionist majority for the maximum number of Protestants and Union supporters within a six-county territory.

But Bambery pointed out that based on headcount, Catholic nationalists are now the majority in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Fein, the Irish Republican and Democratic Socialist political party has emerged on the nationalist side as the largest party overtaking the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP).

While on the union side, the Democratic Unionist Party has overtaken the official Unionists “who just can't resist anymore.”

In last year's elections, in the Northern Ireland Assembly, Sinn Fein emerged as the biggest party overtaking the Democratic Unionist Party.

But the Democratic Unionist Party refused to form an administration led by Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill.

Under the Good Friday Agreement, the biggest party takes the first ministership but it must be agreed between the biggest nationalist party and the biggest unionist party.

“By refusing to agree to that the DUP are effectively stopping an administration being created in Belfast and most of the North of Ireland,” said Bambery.

The initial pretext for that was over the Northern Ireland protocol agreement between Britain and the EU.

The protocol ensures that a hard border is avoided on the island of Ireland following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

The DUP has still not made any moves toward reviewing it so “basically they are blocking Sinn Fein from taking the first ministership because they don't want to have that.”

Good Friday Agreement must be “altered”

The Good Friday Agreement brought about peace with the IRA eventually “decommissioning and dissolving itself,” said Bambery.

“The peace process was popular because people were fed up with three decades of violence, they wanted an end to it, they wanted to return to normality, the actual political structures agreed.”

Under the agreement, parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly must identify themselves either as unionists or nationalists, and by doing so they get certain privileges.

Bambery sees this as a problem because it prevents different forms of politics from emerging and it encourages “division.”

He said social and economic issues have not been fundamentally addressed by the Agreement.

But if the DUP continues to effectively veto Sinn Fein’s first ministership in Northern Ireland, the Good Friday Agreement must be “altered,” he added.

Irish unity

Despite DUP’s desperate campaigning for a leave vote, 55% of voters in Northern Ireland voted to stay in the EU.

Bambery thinks it has become a fundamental issue as the Irish Republic remained in the bloc and Northern Ireland is no longer part of it.

The possibility of a border between the Republic and Northern Ireland is not allowed under the Good Friday Agreement.

“It took a lot of cut chewing and throwing by British governments who did not behave very responsibly, particularly Boris Johnson, who was a Brexitier and was desperate to appease the DUP,” said the author. “More recently we have seen the new British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak rise to a level of diplomatic skill to make an agreement with the European Union.”

It however was not enough to satisfy the DUP, who continues to veto O'Neill becoming the first minister.

Currently, the relationship between Dublin and London is very close, said Bambery, adding both governments are very anxious about Sinn Fein becoming the biggest party in the Irish Republic, as well as in Northern Ireland.

Both governments need to recognize that Sinn Fein is “a major political force, and it should be treated with respect.”

The Good Friday Agreement stipulates a referendum should be held if a majority in Northern Ireland and the republic’s parliament in Dublin support Irish unity.

“I think, really the division of Ireland into two has been a catastrophe for Ireland, for both sections of the population, the unionists and the nationalists."

“And it has led, as I say, to this situation, well, not just three decades in trouble, but Northern Ireland as a political and economic slum inside Europe, inside the United Kingdom. So, I think there has to change,” said Bambery.

Essentially, the best way to make that change, in his opinion, is to move toward Irish unity because “this division, the partition of Ireland is unnatural.”

There seems to have been “a shift” amongst unionist voters who are now voting for other parties such as Alliance Party, which does not identify itself as unionist or nationalist.

“There are people who are questioning those traditional tags. So, I think that opens the wave of the potential change going down the road,” said Bambery.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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EU voices concern over escalation of violence in Israel, Palestine, Lebanon




The EU on Saturday expressed "deep" concern about the grave escalation of violence recently in Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories and Lebanon.

"Last night again, deadly terrorist attacks have occurred in Tel Aviv, one of them killing an Italian tourist. The EU expresses its total condemnation of these acts of violence," the bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.

"This must cease," he urged.

The upsurge in violence followed days of tension and clashes at the holy sites, including the intervention and the use of force by Israeli police insid the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, as Borrell noted. "The EU condemns the violent incidents which have happened in the Holy Sites and reminds that the status quo of all the Holy Sites must be preserved."

He also condemned the "indiscriminate" rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza and the territory of Lebanon which killed two Israelis and left one seriously injured.

"Israel has the right to defend itself. At the same time, any response must be proportionate," he added.

Borrell said the EU urges all parties to "exercise maximum restraint, to avoid further escalation and promote calm for the ongoing religious holidays."

Israeli police said Wednesday it detained 350 Palestinians from the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in East Jerusalem, with witnesses saying they used excessive force, including tear gas.

A day after, the Israeli army said at least 30 rockets were fired from southern Lebanon toward Israel.

Israel held Hamas responsible for the rocket attacks, saying they were carried out by Hamas elements stationed in Lebanon.

Later, it announced that Israel launched an attack on Gaza in the evening, and rockets were launched from Gaza in the direction of Israel.

It was reported that one person was killed and seven people were injured in an armed attack and vehicle-crushing incident in Tel Aviv Friday night.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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UN rights chief expresses alarm at current tense situation in Sudan




The UN human rights chief on Saturday expressed alarm at the current tense situation in Sudan.

Volker Turk "renewed his plea to all sides to set aside entrenched positions and personal interests, to focus on the common interests of the Sudanese people by redoubling efforts towards restoration of a civilian-led Government," the UN Human Rights Office said in a statement.

"As I had said during my visit to Sudan in November, the country is at a decisive juncture. Much work has been done and many positive steps taken towards the signature of a final agreement – all efforts must now be made to get the political transition back on the right path," Turk said.

He urged all sides to work together to overcome obstacles to security sector reform and to avoid any further delays in the signing of the political agreement.

The human rights chief also called on the authorities and all sides to take measures to de-escalate tensions and refrain from violence.

He said: "I witnessed first-hand the fervent, awe-inspiring determination of the people of Sudan – particularly young people and women – to stand up for human rights, an inclusive, civilian-led Government, accountability and justice."

"I urge the authorities to ensure that the rights of the people to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are fully respected and that security forces are clearly instructed to respond to demonstrations in line with human rights laws and standards. We must not see a repeat of the use of unnecessary, disproportionate force," he added.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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UK Muslim charities hand out food as economic crisis bites: Report

09 April 2023

British Muslim charities are handing out food during the blessed fasting month of Ramadan as more and more people are turning to food banks for assistance as a result of the cost of living issue and the country’s high inflation.

Thousands of people are lining up outside the East London Mosque in Tower Hamlets each evening to collect food parcels, the Middle East Eye website reported Sunday.

The mosque management said it has had to double the number of meals it provides for the daily iftar meal Muslims eat to break their fast.

"Lines of women, many with empty prams, are stood outside mosque to collect food. Some wear masks. Others wear scarves to cover their faces so no one can recognize them. But these women are not here to pick up children from the creche. They are here to collect food," the report said

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the mosque in Tower Hamlets Tower Hamlets has operated a food bank from inside its vast complex. The project was initially set up in 2020 to help people who lost their jobs due to the lockdown, as well as deliver food to the elderly who were self-isolating for health reasons.

But the UK's rising spiraling food and energy costs have pushed demand for the food bank's services to unprecedented levels, leaving volunteers struggling to meet the needs of a community suffering the highest levels of deprivation in the British capital.

SufiaAlam, who manages projects at the Maryam Center, said that the number of people using the food bank and attending free iftar meals provided by the mosque was at an all-time high.

"Having worked in Tower Hamlets for the thirty years, I have never seen anything like this," she said. 

“I thought poverty like this only existed in the north where I am from, but in the past few weeks alone, we've been giving hundreds of food packs to people on benefits, in debt or struggling to pay the bills, and refugees housed in temporary accommodation."

Alam said that nearly a thousand people came to the center every day to break their fast.

"On the first day of Ramadan, we ran out of food, with my volunteers running into the nearby Tesco to buy sandwiches for people so they could break their fast.”

Siara Begum has been using the food bank at the East London Mosque for the last four to five months after her living costs tripled due to increases in her utility bills.

She explained how the cost of living had made life difficult for her and her two young children.

“Never in my life did me or my friends imagine using a food bank,” said Begum. “Before, we could handle the costs, but when our bills went through the roof, I had to choose between heating or eating.”

For Muslim communities, the cost of living crisis has been particularly challenging. Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that more than two-thirds of England and Wales' 2.6 million Muslim population live in areas with high unemployment.

Food prices in Britain are rising at the fastest rate in more than 40 years. In January, inflation for food and non-alcoholic beverages stood at 16.8 percent. According to the ONS, electricity prices in the UK rose by 66.7 percent and gas prices by 129.4 percent.

The problem has been further compounded as the price of essentials, such as rice and cooking oil, has risen by more than 10 percent during the last year. Ramadan staples including chapati flour and chickpeas have increased by nearly 20 percent.

This surge in costs disproportionately affects British Muslims, according to the UK's Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, with 19 percent of Muslims turning to food banks in the past year, compared with 11 percent of the overall population.

The National Zakat Foundation, a charity, has noted a 90 percent increase in applications to its hardship fund.

Last month, the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) research found that food banks were struggling to meet a record demand from people who are in work – including the NHS staff and teachers. More than 80 percent reported supporting a significant number of people for the first time, while many said demand was growing among pensioners and families with babies.

Cost of living increases were given as the biggest problem, followed by inadequate wages and waiting times for initial universal credit payments. Benefit restrictions and deductions were cited by one-third of independent food banks as a motivating factor.

Notably the workers who are going out on strike make up a large portion of those who have turned to food banks as the most extensive public sector strikes in decades have been brought on by a real earnings decline and rising inflation.

The raging cost of living crisis in the UK began in 2021, when prices for many basic necessities began to rise faster than household incomes, causing real incomes to plummet. Apart from soaring inflation, the Covid-19 pandemic and the West's sanctions imposed on Russia over its special military operation in Ukraine are among the major factors driving the crisis.

Source: Press TV

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Arab World


Saudi, Omani delegates negotiate ‘near-final’ peace deal with Houthis in Sanaa


April 09, 2023

AL-MUKALLA: Saudi and Omani mediators arrived in Houthi-held Sanaa over the weekend to discuss a “near-final” draft of a peace agreement with Houthi leaders to end the war in Yemen, Yemeni officials and local media said.

Houthi official media reported on Sunday that Saudi and Omani delegations landed at Sanaa airport to meet the head of the Houthi Supreme Political Council, Mahdi Al-Mashat, to discuss lifting “the siege” and ending “the aggression,” as well as paying public employees in areas under the militia’s control with oil and gas revenues from government-controlled fields.

A Yemeni government official told Arab News that the delegations would deliver a draft text of a peace agreement approved by the internationally recognized government to the Houthis.

The proposals, drafted by Saudi officials, suggest extending the UN-brokered truce for six months, direct discussions between the Houthis and the Yemeni government under the auspices of the UN and a two-year transitional period.

The document also proposes removing limitations on Houthi-controlled airports and seaports, compensating public workers in Houthi-controlled regions, and opening roads in Taiz and other provinces.

Last week, Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council supported the Saudi peace ideas but emphasized that any discussions with the Houthis should result in a comprehensive and lasting peace accord, rather than short-term truces, and called for assurances that the Houthis would not violate agreements.

The arrival of the two delegations coincided with the Houthi announcement that Saudi Arabia had released 13 of the militia’s inmates in return for a Saudi prisoner freed earlier.

Similarly, Yemeni Foreign Minister Ahmed Awadh bin Mubarak said that the Saudi-Iran peace agreement had hastened Yemeni peace efforts and prompted the Houthis to “seriously” address delicate issues.

The Yemeni minister said that the Houthis, who had previously refused appeals and suggestions to free captives, altered their conduct after the reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia, deciding to exchange prisoners with their opponents.

“This time, for the first time, we witnessed a serious approach to addressing this issue, which we view as a positive development,” bin Mubarak said in an interview with Egypt’s Al-Qahera News, referring to the latest successful prisoner swap talks.

The Yemeni minister said that the Houthis also turned to peace after failing to seize control of the oil and gas city of Marib and other Yemeni cities. He also urged Iran to cease its military support for the Houthis and promote peace in Yemen.

Source: Arab News

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Israel hits Syria after rockets fired towards Golan Heights

April 9, 2023

Israeli jets hit Syrian military targets on Sunday in response to rockets launched towards Israeli-controlled territory overnight, Israel’s military said, as violence flared again following cross-border exchanges of fire during the week.

State media in Syria reported explosions in the vicinity of the capital Damascus as Israel said its forces continued to hit Syrian territory after six rockets were fired overnight towards the Golan Heights.

Israel said artillery and drone strikes hit the rocket launchers and were followed by airstrikes against a Syrian army compound, military radar systems and artillery posts.

The Israeli military “sees the State of Syria responsible for all activities occurring within its territory and will not allow any attempts to violate Israeli sovereignty,” the Israeli Defense Forces said in a statement.

The Syrian defence ministry said its air defences had responded to the Israeli attacks and intercepted some Israeli missiles. It said no casualties had been reported with only material damage caused by the strikes.

Sirens had sounded earlier near towns in the Golan Heights as rockets were launched from Syrian territory, but no damage or casualties were reported.

Israel seized the Golan Heights in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed the 1,200-square-km territory in 1981, a move not recognised by most of the international community.

Only three of the rockets crossed into Israeli-controlled territory, with two falling on open ground and a third intercepted by air defence systems, the military said.

Lebanon-Based Al Mayadeen TV said the rocket salvoes were claimed by Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement.

On Thursday, more than 30 rockets were fired towards Israel from southern Lebanon, drawing cross-border counterstrikes from Israel on sites linked to the Islamist movement Hamas in Lebanon and Gaza.

The cross-border exchanges came amid sharply increased tensions between Israel and Palestinian groups following Israeli police raids in recent days on the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, which caused outrage across the Arab world.

Israel said the operations were intended to dislodge groups of what police called extremists that had barricaded themselves into the mosque armed with firecrackers and stones.

But the raids, during the holy month of Ramazan, drew a furious reaction and concern even among Israel’s US allies, with mobile phone footage from inside the mosque showing police beating worshippers.

The site in Jerusalem’s Old City, holy to both Muslims and Jews — who know it as Temple Mount — has been a longstanding flashpoint, notably over the issue of Jewish visitors defying a ban on non-Muslim prayer in the mosque compound.

Violence there in 2021 helped set off a 10-day war between Israel and Hamas. The recent exchanges of cross-border fire have awakened memories of that conflict.

Despite fears of further violence around the mosque on Saturday, there were no reports of serious disturbances overnight.

Source: Dawn

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Saddam's Statues And Images Erased, But Hopes Of Iraqi People Remain Unfulfilled

09 April ,2023

Of his countless stories of his life as a hairdresser in Iraq, the one Qaiss al-Sharaa most enjoys retelling is about the day April 9, 2003, when he watched Iraqis and American Marines pull down the statue of Saddam Hussein in front of his salon in Baghdad’s Firdos Square.

The 12-meter (39-foot) statue of the Iraqi dictator extending his right hand had been erected just a year earlier to celebrate his 65th birthday.

“There were lots of younger Iraqis from around the country with the American troops topping the statue — who naturally wanted their freedom,” al-Sharaa told The Associated Press. “The statue showed the face of a man everyone feared.”

For the world, it became an iconic moment of the US-led invasion; live TV coverage as Marines tied the statue to a vehicle to pull the statue down inflated it into a symbol of the end of Saddam’s quarter century rule. In reality, the Firdos Square statue was a minor part of the huge number of monuments and palaces that Saddam erected to show off his power.

All his statues and images are long gone now, 20 years after that day. Many of his palaces and buildings have been repurposed for a new Iraq. But much of the hope that came in wiping away Saddam’s oppressive visual presence has also evaporated, burned away first by years of brutal violence and now by a wrecked economy and rampant corruption by the new political elite of sectarian-based factions.

Firdos Square has been refurbished as a small park, funded by private banks. On a building towering over the square is a large mural of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani — killed in a 2020 US drone strike — and Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. It is the sort of Shiite imagery that proliferates around Baghdad because of the domination of Iran-backed Shiite parties in the government.

“This new garden that replaced Saddam’s represents the widespread corruption in Iraq today, underneath the nice greenery and fountains,” said al-Sharaa. He said that while he doesn’t miss Saddam’s rule he does miss “the rule of the law.”

“Families are too scared to take their kids there, because drug dealers hang out there at night,” he said of the square.

It’s not known what happened to most of the Saddam statue, but pieces of it were taken away by souvenir hunters.

A group of young US Marines from Utah in 2003 said they sawed off the statue’s right hand and intended to sell it on eBay. But it disappeared from their cargo as they tried to smuggle it home on their military flight back. All they have is the photo they took of themselves holding it like a prized fish. In 2016, a German antiques dealer said he bought Hussein’s left leg and then resold it on eBay for over $100,000.

Saddam’s policy of filling Baghdad and other cities with palaces and statues and portraits of himself “created this image of this divine leader,” Senior Research Fellow at Chatham House Renad Mansour told the AP. Saddam "needed to project power in different ways to remind the people who was in charge.”

Some of Saddam’s signature monuments remain in place, largely because they had a nationalist meaning that went beyond him. Still towering over the Tigris River, for example, are the Victory Arch, an arch formed by two giant hands holding crossed swords, and two large turquoise half-domes called the al-Shaheed Monument, or Martyrs’ Monument. They were opened in 1983 and 1989 to commemorate those killed in Iraq’s war with Iran in the 1980s.

The al-Faw Palace was built on an island in the middle of an artificial lake by Saddam in the 1990s to mark the retaking of the peninsula of the same name during the war. It was first used post-2003 as a US coalition military headquarters called Camp Victory.

Later it was turned into the American University in Baghdad, through funding by influential Iraqi businessman SaadiSaihood.

Saddam’s presence can still be found on campus. His initials are etched on the walls and ceilings. The artificial lake is still stocked with a breed of giant carp that USsoldiers called “Saddam bass.”

AUB Vice President Dr. Dawn Dekle said it was important to preserve the university’s history. “This palace belongs to the future of Iraq,” she told the AP. She now hopes the university can be a tool to retain Iraq’s youth after years of Iraqis leaving the country.

“The generation that went abroad are wanting to send their sons and daughters back to Iraq so they can experience it.”

Anything directly reflecting Saddam was wiped away.

A day after the Firdos Square statue was taken down, Kurds pulled down a Saddam statue in the northern city of Kirkuk. They hit its face with shoes and celebrated the fall of a man who had brutally repressed their population, including a vicious campaign in the 1980s that Human Rights Watch called a genocide. That and other statues were replaced with images of Kurdish leaders, particularly Massoud Barzani, who led the Kurdish autonomous area in the north from 2005 to 2017.

In Baghdad, the biggest Shiite neighborhood had long been named Saddam City. Saddam, who brutally crushed any dissent among Iraq’s Shiites, intentionally put a giant, colorful mural of himself in a main part of the district.

In June 2003, Shiites thronged to a ceremony that formally renamed the district as Sadr City, after a family of prominent Shiite clerics. A replacement mural was revealed, showing Mohammed-Baqir al-Sadr and Mohammed-Sadiq al-Sadr, two clerics killed under Saddam’s regime for their opposition to his rule.

They are also the father-in-law and father, respectively, of Muqtada al-Sadr, a firebrand cleric whose militia that battled the US occupation after Saddam’s fall. Today, he is one of Iraq’s most powerful factional leaders, presenting himself as an outsider opposed to rival, Iran-backed Shiite parties that dominate government positions. Sadr City, home to millions of mainly impoverished Shiites, is his core stronghold.

“Words cannot describe how I felt during that moment. It was like going from darkness to light,” Thalal Moussa said of the renaming ceremony, which he attended as a teenager. Now 37 and a contractor at the state electricity agency, he has seen those expectations of a better future frustrated.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Pope appeals to Russians on Ukraine, decries Middle East violence, in Easter message

10 April ,2023

Pope Francis appeared to ask Russians to seek the truth about their country's invasion of Ukraine in his Easter message to the world on Sunday and appealed for dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians following recent violence.

Francis, 86, presided at a solemn Easter day Mass in a sunny St. Peter's Square after unseasonal cold forced him to skip an outdoor service on Friday - a precaution following his hospitalisation for bronchitis at the end of March.

A carpet of 38,000 flowers donated by the Netherlands bedecked the square for the most important and joyous date in the Church's liturgical calendar - commemorating the day Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead. Honour units of Vatican Swiss Guards and Italian Carabinieri police - both in ceremonial dress - stood at attention.

But the traditional pomp and sacred singing then gave way to modern realities. Francis later went up to the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica to deliver his twice-yearly “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message and blessing, addressing a crowd the Vatican estimated at about 100,000.

There, from the same spot where he first appeared to the world as pope on the night of his election in 2013, he spoke of “the darkness and the gloom in which, all too often, our world finds itself enveloped”, and prayed to God for peace.

“Help the beloved Ukrainian people on their journey towards peace, and shed the light of Easter upon the people of Russia,” he said.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year, Francis has at least twice a week referred to Ukraine and its people as being “martyred” and has used words such as aggression and atrocities to describe Russia's actions.

On Sunday he asked God to “comfort the wounded and all those who have lost loved ones because of the war, and grant that prisoners may return safe and sound to their families. Open the hearts of the entire international community to strive to end this war and all conflict and bloodshed in our world.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in his nightly video address, denounced Russian attacks that coincided with the observance of Orthodox Palm Sunday, including an attack that killed a father and daughter in the city of Zaporizhzhia.

“This is how the terrorist state marks Palm Sunday,” Zelenskyy said. “This is how Russia places itself in even greater isolation from the world.”

The majority of Ukraine's 41 million people are Orthodox Christians who celebrate Easter a week from now.

As he has done every Easter, Francis called for peace in the Middle East, his appeal made more urgent by recent violence in Jerusalem and cross-border exchanges of fire involving Israel, Lebanon and Syria.

“On this day, Lord, we entrust to you the city of Jerusalem, the first witness of your resurrection. I express deep worry over the attacks of these last few days that threaten the hoped-for climate of trust and reciprocal respect, needed to resume the dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, so that peace may reign in the Holy City and in the entire region,” he said.

Middle East tensions

Israeli-Palestinian tensions have sharply increased since Israeli police raids last week on Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, which caused outrage across the Arab world.

Between the Mass and his reading of the message, Francis, appearing in fine form, was driven in a popemobile around the square and down the main boulevard leading to the River Tiber so more people could see him.

In his message Francis also mentioned instability in Lebanon, expressed the hope that the “martyred Rohingya people” of Myanmar “may encounter justice”, and called for more aid for the victims of earthquakes in February that killed nearly 56,000 people in Turkey and Syria.

In a section of the address where he mentioned Nicaragua, the pope asked God to “remember all who are prevented from freely and publicly professing their faith”.

Source: Al Arabiya

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ISIS land mine kills at least 6 civilians in Syria

09 April ,2023

A deadly land mine explosion in Syria killed at least six people on Sunday, according to state media.

News agency SANA said the explosion hit civilians who were foraging for truffles in the countryside, and blamed the incident on a land mine planted by the ISIS group in the southern Deir Ez-Zor province. The area is a former stronghold of the militants.

A day earlier, SANA reported six people - also heading to search for truffles - were killed by an anti-tank mine left by ISIS in the desert of Homs' eastern countryside.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, put the number killed Sunday at seven. The monitor said the incident brings to 137 the number of civilians reported killed this year as a result of the explosion of mines and other explosive objects left over from the war, including 30 children.

The truffles are a seasonal delicacy that can be sold for a high price. Since truffle hunters work in large groups in remote areas, ISIS militants have repeatedly preyed on them, emerging from the desert to abduct them, kill some and ransom others for money.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi Arabia’s KSrelief distributes over 151 tons of food aid in six countries

April 10, 2023

RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) has distributed over 151 tons of food aid in six countries as part of a massive Ramadan food distribution campaign.

Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, as well as disadvantaged families in the host community of Akkar governate, received 39 tons of food aid.

In Indonesia, more than 36 tons of food aid were provided to 900 families while in Bangladesh about 12 tons of food baskets were distributed to 500 families.

The KSrelief team also gave out eight tons of food baskets to 300 people in Albania as part of a campaign to provide 2,000 food baskets across the country during Ramadan.

In Nigeria’s Borno, 56 tons of food baskets were given to 5,736 individuals.

To support food security in Liberia, KSrelief handed over more than 29,000 rice bags to be distributed among over 88,000 beneficiaries.

Source: Arab News

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Fourth batch of Saudi oil derivatives grant arrives in Aden, Yemen

April 10, 2023

RIYADH: The fourth batch of the Saudi oil derivatives grant, consisting of 150,000 metric tons of diesel and 100,000 metric tons of mazut, has arrived in Aden, Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

The initiative is part of the Kingdom’s ongoing efforts to support the Yemeni people, in response to a request by the Yemeni government to help provide oil derivatives to operate over 70 power generation plants across the country.

The directive to provide this grant was issued by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

This grant is part of the Kingdom’s commitment to achieving security, stability, and development for the Yemeni people and is an extension of previous grants amounting to $4.2 billion.

Source: Arab News

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Al-Saidan Mosque in Al-Jouf to undergo renovation under Prince Mohammed bin Salman project

April 09, 2023

RIYADH: The Al-Saidan Mosque, which holds significant historical value and serves as a local landmark in Dumat Al-Jandal, Al-Jouf region will be one of the mosques to be renovated in the second phase of the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Project for the Development of Historical Mosques, Saudi Press Agency said on Sunday.

The mosque was constructed around 1223 and is one of the oldest in the city after the Omar bin Al-Khattab Mosque and used to host Friday prayers.

The project will renovate the mosque to increase its area from 179 square meters to 202.39 square meters, and raise its capacity to accommodate 68 people.

The mosque will be developed using mud building techniques and natural materials to depict the traditional style of the region, which is characterized by its unique architecture that can withstand the harsh desert climate.

It stands out as a symbol of Al-Jouf's urbanization and architectural identity.

Source: Arab News

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Saudi Arabian mobile clinics provide treatment services in Yemen

April 10, 2023

AL-KHAWKHAH: Mobile nutrition clinics, an initiative by King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, have continued their treatment services in the Yemeni district of Al-Khawkhah.

From March 22 to 28, the clinics received 4,217 patients with various health conditions and provided them with necessary medical services. The clinics also provided 3266 individuals with medications.

The center also continued implementing the water supply and environmental sanitation project in the directorates of Midi, Hiran, Haradh, and Abs, and Al-Azhur camp in the directorate of Razih.

Also, about 8,104,000 liters of usable water and 666,000 liters of potable water were pumped in Hajjah, in addition to carrying out 52 waste removal operations in the camps.

In Saada governorate, 70,000 liters of potable water, and 70,000 liters of usable water were also pumped, benefiting 30,100 people.

In cooperation with the International Organization for Migration, also known as the IOM, the center handed over a truck to Yemeni authorities in Marib, as part of a project to support sustainable solutions and enhance the capabilities of the Fund. SPA Al-Khawkhah

Source: Arab News

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Lebanon’s recovery requires trustworthy leader: Al-Rahi


April 09, 2023

BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi said Lebanon needs “a trustworthy leader” during Mass on Easter Sunday.

Al-Rahi added that “a leader that is not trusted cannot remain in power,” and said that the government could not allow the country to be used by “those disturbing its security and sovereignty.”

His appeal came as Western Christian communities celebrated Easter Sunday, the holiest day in its calendar, while Eastern Orthodox Christian communities celebrated Palm Sunday in Lebanon.

Sunday sermons addressed issues affecting Lebanon, including electing a president, regaining sovereignty and tackling poverty and hunger in the financially stricken country.

Al-Rahi asked during his sermon: “Until when will the Lebanese territory be open for every weapon holder? Until when will Lebanon and its people bear the repercussions of the external policies suffocating the country day by day?”

The sermons and references to sovereignty also came alongside friction with Israel following cross-border fire between militants in Lebanon and the Israel Defense Forces on Friday.

Among other skirmishes, a barrage of rockets was fired from the vicinity of Al-Rashidieh Palestinian camp in southern Lebanon toward the Upper Galilee, which was followed by retaliation by the IDF.

The government has faced criticism for its stance over the escalation in violence along Lebanon’s border with Israel.

Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati reiterated that Lebanon “absolutely rejects any military escalation from its land and the use of its territory to carry out any operations that would destabilize the situation.”

Mikati said: “What is being said about the impotence and absence of the government in this regard is part of media campaigns targeting the government.”

He added: “From the outset of the events in the south, we made the necessary calls with all the concerned parties, as well as with international actors away from the spotlight, as these matters cannot be handled by creating media buzz and delivering statements.

“I also instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to act in parallel and make the appropriate calls. During the crisis, I was holding a meeting with Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto and we asked him to pressure Israel to stop any operations leading to further tensions in the south.”

Mikati clarified that the initial investigations conducted by the Lebanese Armed Forces found that those who fired the rockets were not organized parties, but rather non-Lebanese elements.

“What happened was a reaction to the Israeli aggression on the Palestinian territories and the Gaza Strip,” he added.

Lebanon lodged a complaint with the UN Security Council and UN secretary-general against Israel.

In its complaint, Lebanon warned against “the seriousness of the recent developments in the region, especially the villages in southern Lebanon.”

It affirmed its “keenness on working to defuse the elements of strife and call for restraint and calm,” while holding Israel “responsible for the repercussions of any escalation that would blow up the situation on the southern Lebanese border.”

Lebanon also renewed its refusal to “use its territory as a platform to destabilize the existing tranquility while preserving its legitimate right to self-defense.”

Beirut reaffirmed that “keeping the lines of communication open with the UN and UNIFIL is the best way to solve problems and maintain calm and stability.”

In the complaint letter, the government reiterated its “adherence to the policy of restraint based on its awareness of the importance of stability and calm and its unwavering keenness to fulfil its international obligations.”

Lebanon also said the attacks carried out by Israel on Friday on areas in southern Lebanon “have endangered the lives of civilians and the safety of Lebanese territories,” deeming the incident “an act of aggression, a flagrant violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty, a threat to the stability that southern Lebanon enjoyed, a blatant violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, and a threat to international peace and security.”

It cautioned against “the critical repercussions of provocative Israeli practices in Jerusalem, and the breach of the sanctity of the holy places, in addition to the unjustified use of excessive force in places of worship against worshipers.”

Source: Arab News

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Iranian Speaker Vows Tough Response Awaits Israel over Al-Aqsa Mosque Raid


Qalibaf has condemned Israel’s desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque as well as attacks against the blockaded Gaza Strip and Southern Lebanon, warning that a “harsh and stinging” punishment awaits the Zionist regime thanks to the strength of the resistance movement.

The senior lawmaker told an open session of the Iranian Parliament on Sunday that the Israeli regime is today “in its weakest status in history”, and that the power of the resistance movement has promoted Tel Aviv to show “cowardly reactions".

"It has been decades that Israel has turned into an unrestrained murder machine by trampling on all international regulations," he said.

The parliament chief added that Muslim nations stand by the Palestinian people and renew their support for their cause of liberation from Israeli occupation on the International Quds Day, which will be marked on the last Friday of the fasting month of Ramadan.

The Israeli Army launched airstrikes on Southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip on Thursday night and Friday morning. The escalation came as the Israeli troops stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem on successive days this week, firing tear gas and stun grenades and preventing Palestinian worshippers from entering the mosque for dawn prayers.

Several Muslim countries and organizations have strongly condemned the latest aggression, calling on international bodies to stop Israeli crimes and protect the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iranian Prez calls for ‘united front’ among Muslim states to support Palestinians

10th April 2023

Tehran: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has called on Muslim states to form a “united and consistent” front in support of the Palestinians against Israel.

In a phone conversation with Algerian President AbdelmadjidTebboune, Raisi said that Iran and Algeria share common stances on regional and international affairs, particularly the Palestine issue and the protection of the Palestinians’ rights, Xinhua news agency reported, citing a statement posted on the website of the Iranian President’s office.

The Algerian President said that he hoped that “Palestine would be liberated from the Israelis through cooperation among Muslim states”.

The phone conversation followed last week’s escalation of tension along the Israeli borders with Lebanon and the Palestinian enclave of Gaza Strip. Militants from southern Lebanon and Gaza fired rockets at Israel, while Israel responded with airstrikes.

Source: Siasat Daily

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Iran Successfully Tests Another Suicide Drone


General Kouhestani stated that the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), dubbed Me’raj 532, with a piston engine has a one-way range of 450 kilometers.

The kamikaze drone, which designed and manufactured by young Iranian experts, he added, is capable of flying up to a height of 12,000 feet for 3 hours and taking off from a vehicle.

“With its 50-kilogram warhead, the drone can hit the desired targets with high accuracy. Additionally, the drone’s design is of the easy set-up type, reducing the time of its preparation and increasing the speed of reaction and use,” Kouhestani continued.

He also noted that the process of developing drones at IRGC Ground Force’s RSSJO is progressing at a proper speed, and that in the near future, other combat, training and suicide UAVs will be added to the combat fleet.

Iran has in recent years gained significant progress in developing surveillance and combat drones. Military officials say Tehran is self-sufficient in building drones from their fuselage to various subsystems and engines, adding the country’s Armed Forces are equipped and ready to carry out any type of drone operations and missions. Tehran stresses its drone capability is non-negotiable.

Back in late May, Iran showed off an underground drone base where a range of advanced drones were housed and operated for potential combat and other missions.

During his visit, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri underscored that the pilotless aircraft have enhanced Iran's deterrence power.

He underlined the significance of drones in defending the country's interests, and added that they have found a special place in different defensive, offensive, land, sea, air and air defense areas. 

Noting that deterrence is not possible with old methods and equipment and requires new methods, Maj. Gen. Baqeri stated that “the drones that we saw today can play such a role”.

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

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

Source: Fars News Agency

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IRGC Chief Underlines Arab Nations Unwillingness to Normalize Ties with Israel


Ma. Gen. Salami made the remarks in a meeting on Saturday with a number of IRGC commanders, officials, managers and personnel.

The chief commander of the IRGC has lashed out at Israeli forces for storming the Al-Aqsa Mosque, stating that the Tel Aviv regime is stoking tensions across the occupied lands in order to escape from the Palestinian resistance and avoid retaliatory operations targeting areas deep inside Israel.

“Nowadays, the fake and criminal Zionist regime is creating crises across the occupied territories in the hope of staying away from a popular uprising (Intifada) and escaping from Palestinians’ resistance, especially from the youths in the West Bank and elsewhere. We are now witnessing the bombardment of the Gaza Strip and brutal crimes against oppressed Palestinians. Such measures, however, will not get them anywhere,” he stated.

The senior commander added that hundreds of thousands of Israelis have protested in Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities against a controversial judicial overhaul that the hard-right administration of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to pass, describing the demonstrations as unprecedented.

The internal crumble within the Israeli society as well as the political chaos and disarray in the regime, something acknowledged by Israeli officials, have reached the point where the Tel Aviv regime will cease to exist sooner than within the 25-year timeframe predicted by Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, Salami pointed out.

He added that the Zionist regime's days are numbered, and no Arab states seek to normalize ties with Israelis anymore.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the IRGC chief said the United States is in decline, stating that those who once used to blindly follow the US president, sought political refuge in Washington and tied their existence to US policies, are now distancing themselves from the White House and its decisions.

Ma. Gen. Salami also made a reference to recent riots in Iran, stating that the enemies of Islam had jointly constructed plots to topple the Islamic establishment, but they failed miserably.

“The US, Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the Zionist regime and a number of reactionary regimes in the region, together with several sell-outs, political opponents and refugees, had assembled an evil coalition in order to defeat the Islamic establishment, obliterate Islam from Iran’s political scene, and return Iran back to the era before the [1979] Islamic Revolution," he continued.

“The enemies did not even hesitate to officially declare that they backed the overthrow of Iran’s Islamic Republic. The maximum pressure campaign intensified, strategies of isolation were placed at the heart of the enemies' policies, and a full-scale psychological warfare was openly waged against the Iranian nation, the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khamanei and the IRGC,” Salami noted.

“However, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution and the great Iranian nation successfully thwarted sanctions, pressures, psychological warfare, destabilizing bids, harboring opponents and even threats of military action, which were among the enemy's mechanisms, thorough resistance and steadfastness,” the top commander stated.

Back in 2020, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain signed United States-brokered agreements with Israel to normalize their ties with the TelAviv regime. Some other regional states, namely Sudan and Morocco, followed suit soon afterward.

Palestinian officials censured the deal between the Arab countries and Israel to establish normal diplomatic relations, describing the agreement as a “treacherous stab in the back of the Palestinian nation”.

The international community has strongly condemned the latest Israeli brutal raids in the Gaza Strip, voicing its deep concern over the latest rounds of violence by the Tel Aviv regime against Palestinians in the besieged coastal enclave.

Iran describes Israel as the root cause of the region’s instability and insecurity, but also stresses Israel's US-supported barbarity will not change the inevitable fate of the Tel Aviv regime.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran Warns of Israeli Plots to Undermine Regional Peace


Iranian Foreign Ministers Hossein Amir Abdollahian and his Azerbaijan counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov have held discussions about ways to resolve the existing misunderstandings and issues pertaining to mutual relations amid soaring tensions between Tehran and Baku.

Amir Abdollahian and Bayramov held two rounds of detailed talks on Friday and Saturday over the developments in Tehran-Baku relations and some regional issues. They stressed the importance of respecting good neighborliness, national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Amir Abdollahian warned of the Israeli regime's plots against unity, security, stability and progress of the countries in the region and stressed, "Only enemies benefit from the existence of differences among regional countries."

The top Iranian and Azeri diplomats also emphasized the need to direct media campaign in line with mutual interests.

Azerbaijan’s relations with Iran were strained in January following a deadly attack on the Baku’s Embassy in Tehran.

A gunman attacked the Azerbaijan Embassy in Iran in late January, killing a security guard and wounding two more. Police in Tehran announced they have arrested the assailant. The attacker has claimed that his wife visited Azerbaijan’s embassy in April 2022 and never returned, leaving him frustrated.

Following the incident, Tehran’s Police Chief Hossein Rahimi stated a preliminary investigation pointed to “family problems” as the motive behind the fatal shooting, but Azerbaijani officials called it a “terrorist act".

Iranian officials have stressed that the enemies of the two countries should not be allowed to take advantage of the incident which Tehran announced was not an act of terrorism. They urged Azerbaijani officials to refrain from prejudgments and politicization of the deadly raid and avoid making a decision out of emotion following the raid.

In spite of Iran’s every effort to clear the air, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev ordered the evacuation of the embassy, and noted that normalization of relations between the two countries depends on a transparent investigation that will bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice.

Azerbaijan also announced on Thursday it has declared four Iranian embassy employees persona non grata, claiming the diplomats conducted "provocative actions" in the latest deterioration of relations between the two neighbors. The move came hours after Baku confirmed it has arrested six men, who it claimed were linked to Iranian secret services and were plotting a coup in the Caspian nation.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kana'ani regretted Azerbaijan's decision to declare four Iranian diplomats persona non grata, and said that Tehran will resort to reciprocal measures in response to Baku's move.

In a statement on Friday, Kana'ani stated that Tehran will take "diplomatic countermeasures" in response to Azerbaijan's radical and unconstructive positions against Iranian teachers and diplomats residing in Baku.

The top diplomat added that Iran believes that such moves by the Azerbaijani government are in contradiction to the neighborly principles.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Israel rejects claim Mossad backed judiciary overhaul protests

09 April ,2023

Israel’s government on Sunday rejected claims raised in documents allegedly leaked from the Pentagon that leaders of its foreign intelligence service Mossad had supported nationwide protests against a proposed overhaul of Israel’s judiciary.

The New York Times on Saturday published an assessment it attributed to a Central Intelligence Update from March 1 that Mossad leadership had encouraged its staff and Israeli citizens to join the mass protests. The paper said that while the leaked documents seemed authentic, it did not mean they were accurate.

The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that the report was “mendacious and without any foundation whatsoever.”

“The Mossad and its senior officials did not – and do not – encourage agency personnel to join the demonstrations against the government, political demonstrations or any political activity,” it said.

Netanyahu’s overhaul plan has sparked unprecedented public anger since his coalition of hard-right and religious parties came to power late last year, and has also caused alarm among Israel’s Western allies.

The proposed legislation would enable parliament to override Supreme Court decisions and hold control over judicial appointments.

After weeks of intensifying demonstrations, Netanyahu in late March relented and said he would delay the contested reforms to allow for compromise talks with opposition parties.

Source: Al Arabiya

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After days of tension, violence Jerusalem prayers end peacefully

09 April ,2023

Ramadan prayers and Jewish Passover visits at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound passed without incident on Sunday, after days of tension at the flashpoint Jerusalem site which led to cross-border exchanges of fire.

Small groups of Jewish visitors under heavy police guard walked through the mosque compound, known in Judaism as Temple Mount, as thousands of worshippers gathered for the Passover’s special “Priestly Blessing” at the Western Wall below.

The al-Aqsa compound - sacred to Muslims and Jews - has been at the center of a security crisis set off last week when Israeli police raided the mosque to dislodge what they said were youths barricaded inside armed with rocks and fireworks.

Footage of the raid, showing police beating worshippers, triggered a furious reaction across the Arab world, sparking rocket attacks on Israel by Palestinian factions that were met with Israeli strikes on sites in Gaza and southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah met with Palestinian Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in Lebanon, the group said on Sunday, and discussed the al-Aqsa events.

Israeli security experts have said that Iran-backed Hezbollah likely gave its permission to Palestinian militant group Hamas to fire the rockets from Lebanon.

“Our enemies were wrong when they thought that Israel’s citizens were not united in support for the IDF [Israel Defense Forces],” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -who is facing unprecedented protests at home against judicial changes - said in a statement.

In Gaza, Hazem Qassem, a Hamas spokesperson urged “all fronts to unite and confront the escalation by the arrogant [Israeli] occupation.”

Overnight into Sunday, at least six rockets were launched towards the Israeli-held Golan Heights from Syria, while Israeli jets struck Syrian military targets in response. There were no reports of casualties on either side.

At al-Aqsa, the special Tarawih Ramadan prayer on Saturday night ended peacefully despite fears violence would erupt there once more.

Holiday closure

The Israeli military said that in light of the security situation, it would extend a closure on the occupied West Bank and Gaza until April 13, when Passover ends.

On Friday, two Israeli sisters from a settlement in the occupied West Bank were killed when their car came under fire by

suspected Palestinian gunmen. Hours later, an Italian tourist was killed when a car driven by a man from an Arab city in Israel ploughed into a group in a shoreline park in Tel Aviv.

The funeral of the two sisters, who had dual Israeli and British nationality, is due to be held later on Sunday.

After a year of escalated Israeli-Palestinian violence, tensions are running especially high as Ramadan and Passover coincide, with a focus on the al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem’s walled Old City. Clashes there between police and worshippers helped spark a 10-day war Israel-Gaza war in 2021.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israeli forces shoot dead Palestinian in West Bank

08 April ,2023

A 20-year-old Palestinian man was shot dead by Israeli forces during a confrontation between soldiers and a group of Palestinians in Azzaoun town in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said on Saturday.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Pope expresses ‘deep concern’ over Israel-Palestinian violence

April 09, 2023

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis noted his “deep concern” on Sunday over a flare-up in tensions between Israel and Palestinians, delivering an Easter Mass in which he denounced the barriers to peace in the world.

He said the renewed violence “threatens the desired climate of trust and mutual respect needed to resume dialogue,” addressing a crowd of some 100,000 gathered in Saint Peter’s Square.

The Argentine pontiff, a week after leaving hospital, also cited a string of “stumbling blocks” to peace in the world during his traditional Easter message, making special mention of the war in Ukraine.

“Help the beloved Ukrainian people on their journey toward peace, and shed the light of Easter upon the people of Russia,” he said.

“Comfort the wounded and all those who have lost loved ones because of the war, and grant that prisoners may return safe and sound to their families.”

He drew attention to conflicts around the world, from Syria to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and offered prayers for victims of the earthquake in Turkiye and Syria.

This week has seen a surge in violence and unrest between Israel and Palestinians at the same time as the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, Jewish Passover and Christian Easter have coincided.

The pope called for a resumption in dialogue to ensure peace “in the Holy City (of Jerusalem) and in the entire region.”

On Wednesday, Israeli police stormed the prayer hall of Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site, in a pre-dawn raid aimed at dislodging “law-breaking youths and masked agitators” they said had barricaded themselves inside.

The next day, more than 30 rockets were fired from Lebanese soil into Israel, which the Israeli army blamed on Palestinian groups, saying it was most likely Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

Israel then bombarded Gaza and southern Lebanon, targeting “terror infrastructures” that it said belonged to Hamas.

On Friday, two separate attacks left an Italian tourist and two British-Israeli sisters dead, and several injured, in Tel Aviv and the West Bank.

On Sunday, Israel launched artillery strikes on Syria in retaliation for rockets the army said were fired from there onto Israeli territory.

The 86-year-old pope has returned to his duties after a recent stay in hospital following a bout of bronchitis.

On Saturday evening, he presided over the Vigil mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, a two-and-a-half-hour ceremony performed before 8,000 people.

On Friday evening however, he stayed away from the Good Friday “Way of the Cross” service as a precaution because of the intense cold, the Vatican said. It was the first time he had missed the ceremony during his papacy, which began in 2013.

Francis was discharged from a Rome hospital on April 1 after a three-night stay for a bronchial infection. The pontiff has suffered several health issues in recent years, and it was his second stay in hospital since 2021.

Source: Arab News

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Hamas, Islamic Jihad vow to continue resistance on anniversary of Deir Yassin massacre

09 April 2023

Gaza-based Hamas and Islamic Jihad resistance movements have pledged to keep up their struggle for the liberation of Palestine as Palestinians marked the 75th anniversary of the Deir Yassin massacre by Israelis.

“The Palestinian people’s undying memory will keep remembering the Deir Yassin massacre — the heinous crime that has revealed the fact that this [Israeli] entity was founded on committing massacres,” Hamas said in a statement on Sunday.

The anniversary has come while Israel "continues to practice the worst forms of crime and terrorism against our land, people, prisoners and holy sites" amid the silence of the international community, it said.

The resistance movement called for urgent action to end Israeli crimes, prosecute the leaders of the regime and enable the Palestinian people to restore their legitimate rights.

It said the Deir Yassin massacre as well as other crimes being committed daily by Israel will not prevent the Palestinians from continuing their struggle and resistance to liberate their land.

In a separate statement, Islamic Jihad spokesman Tariq Salmi said the anniversary of the Deir Yassin massacre is "a clear proof of the Israeli regime's bloodshed and terrorism."

"The Palestinian nation will not forget the crime that took place at the hands of the occupying criminal gangs and caused the killing of women and children in Deir Yassin. The crimes of the Israelis have not stopped and the aggression against our nation continues in various forms," he said.

Salmi said the Palestinians will continue to defend their land despite Israel's continuous acts of aggression, warning that the regime will pay a heavy price for its crimes sooner or later.

Seventy-five years ago, Israeli militias murdered at least 360 men, women, and children as they went on rampage in Deir Yassin.

The massacre took place on April 9, 1948 when around 120 members of Irgun Zvai Leumi and LohameiHerut Israel paramilitary groups attacked the village near al-Quds.

Three days after the massacre, a delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Palestine visited Deir Yassin and observed more than 200 dead men, women and children.

Rights groups say Israel has pursued a policy of establishing and maintaining a Jewish demographic majority, and maximizing control over land and resources to benefit extremist Israeli settlers since its illegal establishment in 1948.

Source: Press TV

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Terrorist Attacks Kill 44 In Northern Burkina Faso: Official

James Tasamba


KIGALI, Rwanda

At least 44 civilians were killed in two separate terror attacks in northern Burkina Faso's Sahel region, authorities said Saturday.

The attacks occurred overnight Thursday in the villages of Kourakou and Tondobi, located about 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) from the Seytenga commune in the province of Seno, Sahel Region Governor Lt. Col. Rodolphe Sorgho said in a statement.

“The provisional toll is 44 civilians killed, including 31 in Kourakou and 13 in Tondobi,” said Sorgho. “In addition, injuries and material damage were also recorded.”

Sorgho reassured residents that efforts to stabilize the area were underway by the defense and security forces.

Burkina Faso battles regular insecurity posed by an insurgency that has spread from neighboring Mali in the past decade -- linked to the al-Qaeda and Daesh/ISIS terror groups.

The country recorded 1,135 deaths attributed to terrorists in 2022, a 50% jump compared to 2021, according to the latest Global Terrorism Index (GTI) 2023.

The political situation in the Sahel compounds the terror challenge, according to security analysts.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Jordan warns of ‘catastrophic’ results of ongoing Israeli violations at Al-Aqsa Mosque

Mehmet Nuri Ucar, Laith Al-Jnaidi


AMMAN, Jordan

Jordan late Saturday warned of “catastrophic” consequences of Israel’s ongoing violation of the historical and legal status quo at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem.

Recent Israeli acts violate the sanctity of the holy places and the right of Muslims to perform their religious rituals during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Sinan Majali said in a written statement.

Israel’s assault on worshipers and forcibly expelling them from the mosque in preparation for major raids will lead to more tension and violence, for which "everyone will pay," Majali warned.

Tensions escalated across Palestinian territories after Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex and forcibly removed worshippers this week.

The Israeli raids on the mosque triggered rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, with Israel retaliating with airstrikes.

Palestinians accuse Israel of systematically working to Judaize East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, and obliterating its Arab and Islamic identity.

For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third-holiest site. Jews, for their part, call the area the Temple Mount, saying it was the site of two ancient Jewish temples.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Jordan says rocket debris fell in its territories after blast near Syrian border

09 April ,2023

Jordan’s army announced that a rocket exploded Saturday evening and its debris fell in Jordanian territory near the border with Syria without causing casualties or damage.

It came as the Israeli army announced the launch of artillery strikes in Syria in response to rocket fire from there that landed in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

“At 10:25 pm (1925 GMT) on Saturday evening, a rocket exploded in the air in the Wadi Aqraba area adjacent to the Syrian border, leading to its debris falling in the same area,” a Jordanian army statement said.

It added that the debris “did not cause any casualties or damage,” noting that a team from the royal engineering corps was inspecting the site of the incident.

The Israeli army had announced the Saturday-Sunday overnight strikes in response to Syrian rocket fire in the latest escalation of clashes in the region.

The surge in violence and unrest comes as the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, Jewish Passover and Christian Easter coincide.

On Wednesday, Israeli police stormed the prayer hall of al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site, in a pre-dawn raid, drawing widespread condemnation from countries in the region including Jordan.

The next day, more than 30 rockets were fired from Lebanese soil into Israel, which the Israeli army blamed on Palestinian groups, saying it was most likely Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

Source: Al Arabiya

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UN rights chief voices alarm on tensions in Sudan

08 April ,2023

UN human rights chief Volker Turk voiced alarm Saturday at the tense situation in Sudan, urging all sides to redouble their efforts towards restoring a civilian-led government.

Pro-democracy activists in Sudan marched against the army and paramilitaries on Thursday as the civilian opposition marked a key anniversary in the decades-old struggle against military rule with new protests.

A new delay to the signing of a deal to restore the transition to civilian government, which had been rescheduled for Thursday, prompted the civilian opposition to call for nationwide protests instead.

Turk, the United Nations’ high commissioner for human rights, urged all sides to de-escalate tensions and refrain from violence.

“The country is at a decisive juncture. Much work has been done and many positive steps taken towards the signature of a final agreement -- all efforts must now be made to get the political transition back on the right path,” he said in a statement.

April 6 is a symbolic date for Sudan’s civilian opposition, the anniversary of uprisings in 1985 and 2019 that ended up ousting two leaders who had seized power in coups.

Sudan is still ruled by a military leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who took power in an October 2021 coup, aborting the transition to civilian rule agreed after the 2019 overthrow of Islamist general Omar al-Bashir, who seized power in a 1989 coup.

Turk urged all sides to work together to avoid further delays in signing an agreement for a transition to civilian government, while also calling on non-signatories to join the process.

“I urge the authorities to ensure that the rights of the people to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are fully respected and that security forces are clearly instructed to respond to demonstrations in line with human rights laws and standards,” he said.

“We must not see a repeat of the use of unnecessary, disproportionate force.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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At least 23 missing, four die in migrant shipwrecks off Tunisia

08 April ,2023

At least 23 African migrants were missing and four died on Saturday after their two boats sank off Tunisia as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to Italy, a judicial official said, amidst a sharp rise in migrant boats from the North African country.

The coast guard rescued 53 others off the southern city of Sfax, two of whom are in critical condition, Sfax court Judge FaouziMasmoudi said.

He added that four bodies were recovered.

In recent weeks, dozens have gone missing and died in repeated drowning accidents off the Tunisian coast.

Tunisia has taken over from Libya as a main departure point for people fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East in the hope of a better life in Europe. Crackdowns on human trafficking in Libya have made Tunisia a more accessible option.

The National Guard said on Friday that more than 14,000 migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, were intercepted or rescued in the first three months of the year while trying to cross into Europe, five times more than figures recorded in the same period last year.

Italian Prime Minister GiorgiaMeloni said on Friday that Europe risks seeing a huge wave of migrants arriving on its shores from North Africa if financial stability in Tunisia is not safeguarded.

Meloni called on the IMF and other countries to help Tunisia quickly to avoid its collapse.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Senegalese dessert symbolizes Christian-Muslim solidarity

Fatma Esma Arslan 


DAKAR, Senegal

Hortensia AlaofaryKanfoudy is happy to continue a tradition of sharing a special Easter dessert with her Muslim neighbors and friends in Senegal.

Christians and Muslims demonstrate unity and solidarity by sharing the dessert called ngalakh, which is often prepared by the Christian community for Easter celebrations.

Feverish preparations for Easter Sunday are underway in Senegal where Christians make up 4% of the population.

Good Friday, which marks the end of the 40-day Lenten season, falls on the Friday before Easter Sunday.

When Easter is mentioned in Senegal, the first flavor that comes to mind is ngalakh. The sweet dish is made with thiakry, a type of semolina commonly used in West Africa, along with baobab fruit, nutmeg, milk, sugar and peanut cream.

Christian families get together at the home of an elder early Friday to prepare ngalakh, which is intended to feed not only their families but neighbors as well.

Youngsters create a roster of Muslim neighbors and acquaintances and distribute the dessert until late Friday.

Kanfoudy, who prepared ngalakh with her family, said Christians fast for 40 days before Easter and the dessert symbolizes the end of the fast.

"We get together with our elders to prepare ngalakh together and distribute it to our Muslim neighbors. We are very happy to be able to continue this ancestral tradition," she told Anadolu.

But ngalakh is not just a dessert, said Kanfoudy. "Besides being a traditional dessert, ngalakh is also a symbol that strengthens the dialogue between Muslims and Christians.”

She said Muslims also offer treats to neighbors on days such as Eid al-Adha -- the festival that culminates the annual Hajj that commemorates Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son.

“This sharing, which is made at every religious celebration, also strengthens the dialogue and the sense of unity,” she said

RokhayaDiagne, Kandoudy's aunt who is a Muslim, participated in preparing mgalakh. She said Muslims and Christians live together not only in society but in the same family.

Siblings and or parents of different religions can also be found in the same family.

"Every year we cook ngalakh at my nephew's house. I am Muslim, my sister is Christian. We do not see each other as different. This solidarity is unique to Senegal,” she said. “I'm proud of this picture.”

Muslim, Christian peace

Muslims make up 96% of the population in Senegal and more than 60% strictly follow Sufi teachings such as Tijani and Qadiri.

Thanks to the teachings, Senegal is an exemplary country where Muslims and Christians live in peace.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Ulema, traders vow to help police maintain peace

April 9, 2023

LAKKI MARWAT: Ulema, traders and journalists have vowed to extend full support to the police to maintain law and order and promote peace and harmony in Bannu district.

They made the decision during separate meetings with regional police officer Syed Ashfaq Anwar at his office on Friday.

A delegation of ulema headed by district Khateeb Mufti Abdul Ghani Advocate met the police chief and discussed with him matters pertaining to maintenance of peace and elimination of crimes.

They assured the region police officer that the clerics and prayer leaders would use their influence to pursue people to assist police in actions against anti-peace elements.

They said Islam was the religion of peace and that promotion of peace and harmony in society was the prime responsibility of religious figures.

At a separate meeting with journalists, Mr Anwar stressed the need to improve close coordination between police and media personnel to help bridge the gap between police and the general public.

He said local journalists always played positive role in maintaining peace in the area and their help enabled the police to control crimes and bring hardened criminals into the clutches of law.

Office-bearers of traders’ bodies also assured the regional police officer that they would support police in actions against criminals and anti-state elements.

SHOT DEAD: A man was killed over a property dispute in Darra Pezu town of LakkiMarwat on Friday, the police said.

Shah Jahan, 64, father of the deceased, Shazada, 37, told the Shaheed Haibat Ali Khan police officials that Islam Din, Kamran, Shakeel and Shamsuddin shot dead his son over property dispute.

He said he along with his son had gone to his land, where the alleged killers had launched construction work. “I asked them to settle the dispute over ownership of land with us, but they didn’t agree,” he maintained, telling police the killers shot at and injured his son and escaped.

He said he shifted his son to the rural health centre in Titterkhel town where he succumbed to injuries.

Source: Dawn

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PTI issues scathing ‘white paper’ on PDM’s rule

Mansoor Malik

April 10, 2023

LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf launched a white paper on Sunday to mark the first year of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) — a multi-party coalition that ousted Imran Khan-led government via a no-trust vote in April last year — in power and underlined how the ruling coalition had “devastated” economy and “contravened” the Constitution.

The document spans six chapters and passes a scathing judgement on the PDM government’s style of governance, particularly the treatment meted out to the opposition party by the ruling coalition. It also deliberates on issues related to economy, Constitution, democracy and rule of law, political exploitation of state institutions, attack on judiciary, ‘chained’ foreign policy, and law and order.

The party has dedicated the white paper to PTI chief Imran Khan, party workers, and the people of Pakistan, who are “fighting and facing torture for real independence” and democracy.

The PTI chairman also spoke via video link from his residence in Zaman Park on the launch of the white paper. The former premier accused the government of ravaging the country’s all institutions, rule of law, and the economy as well as violations of basic human rights.

Imran says political parties cannot be crushed through violence, asks supporters to be ready for street protests as govt won’t hold polls

Mr Khan claimed that the federal government would not allow elections to be held as per the court order and urged his supporters to remain prepared to take to the streets for the sake of basic human rights and justice. Stating that the nation was now awake to protect its rights and standing with the judiciary, Mr Khan said the nation would be required to come out on roads in both situations — either the government does not hold elections, or elections are held after a crackdown on PTI with its leadership incarcerated. “We should be ready for all kinds of situations,” he asserted.

Imran Khan accused former army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa of hatching a conspiracy alongside PM Shehbaz Sharif to topple his government with the help of former envoy Hussain Haqqani.

Mr Khan asked, “Would anyone question the man (Bajwa) who ravaged the country’s all indicators for his extension which was promised by present PM Shehbaz Sharif.”

Mr Khan also admitted that the conspiracy to overthrow his government was not hatched in the US. It was actually Gen Bajwa who had orchestrated the conspiracy with the help of Shehbaz Sharif and then hired Hussain Haqqani to launch propaganda that “Gen Bajwa was pro-America and Imran Khan was anti-America”. “The cipher made entry came only after the conspiracy had taken its roots,” the former premier acknowledged.

On the day when he left the PM office with “only a diary in his hand”, Mr Khan said the PTI had launched a white paper that what actually had happened to Pakistan during the past year. He said the nation must know the fate of Pakistan just because a few people took a decision behind closed doors.

Mr Khan said his government inherited a bankrupt economy in 2018 when Pakistan was facing its highest $20 billion current account deficit with only $8 billion in reserves. “The PTI government stabilised the economy…fought against the coronavirus pandemic…eventually boosted the economy to rise by 5.7 per cent and 6 per cent during the last two years of its rule,” he asserted.

He lamented the growth rate had now slid down to 0.4 per cent which has pushed at least four million people below the poverty line. “The 12 per cent inflation has now risen to almost 35 per cent,” he added.

Stating the PDM government faced no crisis and still blowing the trumpet of the rise in terrorism, Mr Khan claimed there was a grave surge in terror incidents during the PTI government but it controlled the “menace and drove Pakistan from terrorism to tourism”. He claimed the incumbent rulers did not rehabilitate the TTP when the Afghan Taliban sent them back to Pakistan. It may be noted here that the PTI government had planned to resettle TTP militants in tribal districts.

Speaking about the prohibited funding case, Imran Khan claimed, “The foreign funding case has ended and the Toshakhana case will meet the same fate…Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari would now be caught in this case.” The Toshakhana record was now available and their act of stealing cars would be exposed soon, he claimed.

Mr Khan said the PDM government also attacked the media, imposed restrictions through “unidentified people” and now it was coercing TV channels not to broadcast his speeches. “This is a state of freedom of speech that even the head of the country’s biggest political party is not allowed to speak to the masses,” he regretted. He said the PDM government also desecrated the fundamental rights of people by unleashing torture on PTI leaders and workers in Lahore on May 25 last year.

The PTI chairman said a political party that wanted free and fair elections as this was the only way to end the crises faced by Pakistan. He added that the party never wanted to be part of any violence and give the government a chance to postpone elections. “The government tried its utmost that the PTI leaders and workers would react and it could claim that the security situation was not normal to hold elections,” Mr Khan claimed.

Among “144 cases instituted” against him, the PTI chief said that he had also been implicated in a treason case by a magistrate since he had called an intelligence agency officer ‘Dirty Harry’ and a ‘psychopath’. The PTI chief also narrated attacks on his life and said the JIT record that was exposing the government’s three functionaries’ plans to “eliminate him” was sabotaged.

Source: Dawn

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Imran Khan: 'We wanted to get cheap Russian crude oil just like India...'

Apr 10, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistan Prime Minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan once again lauded India's foreign policy and said that Islamabad "wanted to get cheap Russian crude oil just like India" but was not able to do so as his government collapsed in a no-confidence motion.

Addressing the nation in a video message, he said, "We wanted to get cheap Russian crude oil just like India but that could not happen as unfortunately, my government fell due to a no-confidence motion."

Notably, he was the first Pakistani PM to visit Moscow in the past 23 years, Khan could not broker any deal that could give relief to the cash-strapped country.

Pakistan is reeling under the worst-ever economic crisis and Khan lamented over the fact that his country could also purchase Russian crude oil at a discounted rate that India enjoys despite the ongoing Ukraine war.

It is also important to remember he was in Russia on the day of the start of the conflict last year. He mentioned his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the clip.

Interestingly, this was not the first time when Khan acknowledged India's achievements in terms of growing its economy and purchasing Russian oil despite Western pressure.

"No other leader except Nawaz in the world has properties worth billions. Tell me about one country whose Premier or leader has billions worth of properties outside the country. Even in our neighbouring country, how many properties does PM Modi has outside India?" he had said at a public gathering in September 2022.

Earlier in May 2022, Khan hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to purchase cheap oil from Russia despite pressure from the United States.

"Despite being part of the Quad, India withstood US pressure and bought cheap oil from Russia to facilitate its people," tweeted Imran, adding, "Our government was trying to achieve this through an independent foreign policy."

India is the world's third-largest oil-consuming and importing nation. It imports 85 per cent of its crude oil needs. Ever since the war between Russia and Ukraine, the West and Europe imposed stringent sanctions on its energy. This resulted in Russia's offering more discounts to its oldest ally, India.

Sanctions hit Russia signed an agreement with an Indian oil giant intending to boost the crude oil supply. According to the Russian news agency, TASS, Moscow's top oil company Rosneft signed a deal with the Indian Oil Company to increase the supply of petroleum to India.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Minister of State for Petroleum Musadik Malik in April 2023 claimed that the first-ever shipment of cheap oil from Russia would reach Pakistan next month, reported Geo News.

During an interview with a private news channel, the State Minister said that Islamabad has finalised the deal with Moscow, adding, "The first shipment will reach next month through a cargo."

The deal, which has been in the making for months, could ease some of Pakistan's fiscal trouble as the country, a net importer of energy, looked for ways to cut its oil import bill.

Malik said the government had already made progress in this regard and hoped to issue separate billing for the underprivileged and elite class, reported Geo News.

Last month, the sources told The News that the Petroleum Division was trying to procure Russian crude oil at around USD 50 per barrel, at least USD 10 per barrel below the price cap imposed by the G7 countries on the precious commodity being taken from Russia due to its war on Ukraine.

Officials, involved in the virtual talks with Russia, had shared that Moscow was more interested in completing all the prerequisites such as the mode of payment, shipping cost with premium, and insurance cost before signing the agreement with Pakistan, reported Geo News.

Talks have been ongoing between Pakistan and Russia since last year for the trade of oil which had remained a contentious issue in Pakistan's politics.

Source: Times Of India

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Imran Khan to present white paper against Pakistan govt's performance

Apr 9, 2023

ISLAMABAD (Pakistan): Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan will be presenting a white paper against the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government's performance over the last three years, Pakistan-based ARY News reported.

According to sources, Khan will via a video link address, issue a white paper on the country's economic situation.

He will then compare his government's performance with that of the PDM setup, which he blames for the looming threat of default.

According to ARY News, the PTI is highly critical of the economic performance of its rivals, the parties in the coalition government, accusing them of derailing the country ever since it was ousted from power in April last year.

The party has continuously lashed out at the ruling alliance for making the wrong economic decisions.

Yesterday, Khan criticised the PML-N supremo, saying that a coward cannot become a leader but becomes Nawaz Sharif.

The PTI chief while addressing party workers, and activists who had gathered at Zaman Park for iftar, stated that he is not an Islamic scholar and has learned everything from his life.

Khan said that no country in the world has experienced a revolution comparable to the one brought by the Prophet Muhammad. He cited the Battle of Badr and Khalid Bin Waleed's leadership as proof that only free people, not slaves, stand for freedom, ARY News reported.

Imran Khan on Friday expressed his concern about the government's actions, stating that they are making a mockery of Pakistan abroad.

"The dangerous ruling buffoons don't realise the damage they are doing to Pak's image abroad by sham FIRs & absurd sedition charges against a former PM for using terms 'Dirty Harry' & 'psycopath'! They are making a mockery of Pakistan," tweeted Khan.

He also warned that foreign investors may be getting a troubling message after the Pakistani government's decision to not accept the Supreme Court's decision in the Punjab polls delay case.

"Also, what msg is being sent to foreign investors when govt itself is not accepting SC decisions? Investors need security of contracts & that means faith in judicial system. What confidence can they have when govt itself casting aside SC orders? This happens in a banana republic," he tweeted.

Khan's comments came after the federal government demanded that Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial step down, claiming that his position had become "controversial" after Justice Athar Minallah's note in the case.

Source: Times Of India

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Political parties concerned over new military operation

Umer Farooq

April 10, 2023

PESHAWAR: Political parties on both sides of the aisle have voiced their opposition to a possible military operation to root out militancy.

On Friday, the top civil and military leadership reaffirmed their commitment to thwart terrorism threats and vowed to relaunch the National Action Plan (NAP) within 15 days to crush militants reportedly coming in from Afghanistan.

The decisions were made at the National Security Committee (NSC) meeting, which the government said was in continuation of a previous meeting convened after a militant attack inside Peshawar’s police headquarters in January, in which 86 people, mostly police officials, were martyred.

Political parties, including allies of the federal government, however, have expressed their concerns over the possible military offensive against militants, with most saying that those who brought back the militants should be brought to justice before launching an offensive against militants.

Mohsin Dawar says govt, security forces have lost public trust

An ally of the federal government, the National Democratic Movement (NDM), said the government had lost public trust.

“They [government and security forces] have lost public trust. People don’t believe them any more even if they launch 100 military operations against militants,” MNA Mohsin Dawar, the NDM’s chairman, told Dawn.

He said that “only cropping won’t work”, and the militants’ leadership should also be eliminated.

Mr Dawar questioned that there was no space for talks with the militants in the initially agreed NAP. Still, talks were initiated by the previous government and they got matured during this incumbent government’s tenure, he said.

He said that a complete shift in the government’s Afghan policy was required. “The government supports the Afghan Taliban, who support the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP),” he claimed.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the NDM said the news emerging from the NSC meeting had created “serious concern among Pashtuns”.

The NSC meeting, the party said, had talked about starting a military operation “without going after the root cause of terrorism, Afghan policy and Project Taliban”, which meant “going back to the sham operations from 2007 to 2014 and the policy of good Taliban and bad Taliban”.

It said Pakhtuns had already suff­ered death, destruction and dis­p­lace­ment on a large scale and “they are not going to put up with it now”.

“The NSC meeting has mentioned in a passing way the mistake of the previous government in allowing TTP to enter [Khyber] Pakhtunkhwa. This is a mistake which has led to the deaths of hundreds of people, both civilians and security personnel,” it said.

“The question is that in a country where elected prime ministers can be put on trial for far minor allegations, why can’t the security tsars be arraigned before a tribunal for such a huge security breach? Why not proper accountability of players responsible for the security lapses?” it asked.

AimalWali Khan, provincial president of the Awami National Party (ANP), said that any operation against militants would face resistance until and unless those who brought the militants back were brought to justice.

Mr Khan stated that the “facilitators” including President Dr Arif Alvi, the former prime minister Imran Khan, former KP chief minister Mahmood Khan, former spymaster Faiz Hameed and former KP cabinet member Barrister Muha­mmad Ali Saif should be immediately arrested and asked to locate the areas where the militants were rehabilitated.

“The facilitators [those who brought back the Taliban to Pakistan] should be brought to justice before any decision on a fresh military offensive against militants,” he said in a statement issued on Sunday.

Source: Dawn

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Complainant in Imran attack case dies of cardiac arrest

Waseem Ashraf Butt

April 10, 2023

GUJRAT: A cop who was the complainant in the case of assassination attempt on the life of PTI Chairman Imran Khan in Wazirbad died of cardiac arrest on Sunday.

Sub Inspector Aamir Shahzad Bhadar, who was the station house officer of Sadar police station in Wazirabad, was at his house in his native village Bhadar near Kharian town of Gujrat when his condition deteriorated, according to family sources.

He was driven to Kharian Combined Military Hospital where doctors pronounced him dead on arrival. The deceased, 35, was survived by a wife and a son.

His funeral prayers were attended by a number of senior district administration officials, police officers and people from all walks of life.

He was buried in the local graveyard of Bhadar village late on Sunday night.

Source: Dawn

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Security forces kill 2 terrorists in Waziristan operations: ISPR

Iftikhar Shirazi

April 9, 2023

Security forces have killed two terrorists in separate gun battles during operations in Waziristan, the military’s media wing said on Sunday.

The press release from the Inter Services Public Relations said that on Saturday a “fire exchange took place between own troops and terrorists in general area Razmak, North Waziristan district. Own troops effectively engaged the terrorist’s location. Resultantly, one terrorist was sent to hell.”

It added that weapons and ammunition were also recovered from the slain terrorist.

The ISPR said that in another “fierce encounter” in South Waziristan district’s general area of Karama, “own troops effectively engaged the terrorists’ location, killing one terrorist”.

“However, during intense exchange of fire, Naik Fazal Janan (age 32 years, resident of Hangu district) having fought gallantly, embraced martyrdom.”

The ISPR added that sanitisation of the area was being carried out to eliminate any other terrorists found in the area.

“Pakistan’s security forces are determined to eliminate the menace of terrorism and such sacrifices of our brave soldiers further strengthen our resolve,” the press release reads.

Two terrorists killed, one arrested in Balochistan’s Mach

A separate press release said that from Friday onwards an intelligence-based operation was initiated to intercept a terrorist group operating in Balochistan’s general area of Mach, west of Sibi, which was linked with targeting civilians in the area besides harassing coal mine owners to extort money from them.

“Based on credible information, multiple ambushes have been laid along different routes in the area frequented by terrorists for last two days. Resultantly, a party of three terrorists has been intercepted while moving towards their hideout. On being blocked, they opened fire on the security forces.

“During ensuing exchange of fire, two terrorists were sent to hell while another has been apprehended; a cache of arms and ammunition has also been recovered,” the ISPR said.

It added that a clearance operation was under way in the area to nab their remaining accomplices.

Source: Dawn

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Rangers, police arrest 2 TTP men for ‘extortion, targeted killings’ in Karachi

Imtiaz Ali

April 9, 2023

Pakistan Rangers Sindh on Sunday claimed to have arrested two suspects belonging to the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and involved in an extortion racket and targeted killings in Karachi.

A press release said that a joint operation was conducted with Karachi police, which resulted in the arrest of two suspects “belonging to the TTP” who were allegedly involved in extortion and targeted killings in the city’s Saddar, Manghopir and Banaras areas.

The statement said a trader had submitted a complaint that he was receiving calls demanding extortion money from different Afghan and Pakistani phone numbers.

It said that the suspects, identified as Abdul Qadir and Muhammad Kamal Khan, were involved in extortion and targeted killings at the directives of TTP “terrorist officer” Khan alias Arshad residing in Afghanistan.

The suspects’ gang used to share the numbers of local traders in Karachi with Khan alias Arshad and used to receive the extortion money before sending it to the neighbouring country. It said that they would “kill or injure” those who refused to pay the extortion money.

“According to initial investigations, the suspects have confessed to sharing the numbers of five local traders, sending extortion slips and killing two traders for refusing to hand over the extortion money,” the statement said, adding that raids were being conducted to arrest the suspects’ accomplices.

Source: Dawn

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Conference to be held on Islam, Saudi-Pakistan ties on Monday

April 9, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Message of Islam Conference will be held here on Monday with the theme “Saudi-Pakistani Relations: Joint Efforts to Serve Islam and Muslims and Combat Terrorism”.

According to the Union of OIC News Agencies (UNA-OIC), the conference will be held under the auspices of President Dr Arif Alvi and will be attended by Chairman of the Senate Sadiq Sanjrani and a group of senior officials, scholars and thinkers.

The conference sessions will be chaired by Chairman of Pakistan Ulema Council, Sheikh Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi.

Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki will also attend the event.

Through 10 different themes, the conference will review prominent Islamic issues, the efforts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz and his Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in this regard and the Kingdom’s role in promoting security, stability and world peace.

Sheikh Ashrafi stated that the conference would review the Saudi-Pakistani historical relations and the role of the two countries in strengthening the status of Islam and Muslims, achieving security and stability, and combating terrorism regionally and internationally, in addition to their efforts in promoting world peace and spreading the values of love, cooperation, compassion, and tolerance among Muslims and others.

Ashrafi indicated that the conference would also address the Kingdom’s efforts to serve the Two Holy Mosques and pilgrims and provide support and assistance to Pakistan, the Arab and Islamic world, and Muslim minorities.

“It also will highlight the efforts of the two countries to achieve a just peace and end the conflict in Kashmir,” Ashrafi added.

The conference is also expected to emphasize the role of scholars, media figures, thinkers, intellectuals, Islamic and human rights institutions and organizations in enhancing the security and stability of the people of the Islamic World and protecting youth from extremism, violence, and terrorism.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Pakistan welcomes more than 2,800 Sikh delegates joining Baisakhi celebrations

April 9, 2023

ISLAMABAD: More than 2,800 Sikh pilgrims from India reached Lahore via Wagah border to attend the annual Baisakhi festival starting from Sunday (today).

According to details, Sikh pilgrims from India will participate in the main event at Gurdwara Panja Sahib Hasan Abdal on April 14. During the visit, pilgrims will visit Dera Sahib, Panja Sahib, Nankana Sahib and Kartarpur Sahib.

The Additional Secretary of Evacuee Trust Property Board Rana Shahid while talking to a private news channel, has welcomed the Sikh brothers and said all arrangements related to clean drinking water, clean washrooms, trains, sitting arrangements and security have been made available for the Sikh yatrees. After attending the main ceremony at the Gurdwara Panja Sahib (Hasanabdal), the pilgrims would also visit Nankana Sahib and other places, he added.

A Sikh delegate commented that they were very happy to come to Pakistan as its people give a message of brotherhood by promoting peace in the subcontinent. “The arrangements made by the Pakistan government for us are impressive,” said another delegate.

Sikh pilgrims will leave for India on April 18 after performing religious rituals.

Source: Pakistan Today

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South Asia


Afghan Special Forces Kill Two Islamic State Fighters In Raid

Apr 9, 2023

KABUL: Afghanistan's special forces killed two Islamic State fighters and arrested a third during an operation in the country's west on Sunday, a regional official said.

The raid on the hideout in the district of Sayed Abad in Nimroz province sparked a clash lasting 30 minutes, said Mufti Habibullah Ilham, the province's information and culture director.

Ilham said there were no casualties among the troops or civilians and that some military equipment was seized.

The regional affiliate of the IS group - known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province - has been the key rival of the ruling Taliban since the religious group's takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021.

IS has increased its attacks in Afghanistan, targeting both Taliban patrols and members of Afghanistan's Shiite minority. On Friday, security forces killed an IS fighter during an operation in northern Parwan province. They also arrested three women and seven children, said Hikmatullah Shamim, a spokesman for the Parwan governor.

Deputy Afghan government spokesman Bilal Karimi said authorities were serious about Afghanistan's boundaries and sovereignty.

"The Islamic State has no place in the country or among the people, nor does the Islamic emirate allow it," he told The Associated Press. "The number of (IS) fighters killed or arrested so far is in the hundreds, but there is no exact number."

Source: Times Of India

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Afghanistan Ranks 4th in Crime Rate Rankings: WPR

By Fidel Rahmati

April 10, 2023

Afghanistan is ranked 4th on the list of countries with the highest crime rate in 2023, according to the World Population Review (WPR).

Afghanistan has the fourth-highest crime rate. Thus, more than 76 crimes are committed in the Country for every 100,000 people.

The crime has various forms, including corruption, assassinations, drug trafficking, kidnapping and money laundering.

In 2020, Afghanistan provided 85% of the illicit opium consumed worldwide, the report claimed.

The report also added that since the Taliban regained control of the Country in 2021, despite their promise to eliminate the opium industry, it will be difficult since it is such a vital part of the Country’s struggling economy.

On the other hand, the report also said that the other form of crimes could be robbery and assault due to the high unemployment rate in the Country.

The countries with the ten highest crime rates, expressed per 100,000 people, globally are:

Venezuela (83.76)

2. Papua New Guinea (80.79)

3. South Africa (76.86)

4. Afghanistan (76.31)

5. Honduras (74.54)

6. Trinidad and Tobago (71.63)

7. Guyana (68.74)

8. El Salvador (67.79)

9. Brazil (67.49)

10. Jamaica (67.42)

The total number of crimes of any kind reported divided by the total population, then multiplied by 100,000, yields the overall crime rate (because the crime rate is typically reported as X number of crimes per 100,000 people).

Source: Khaama Press

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One of 3 British detainees in Afghanistan is ex-UK soldier

10 April, 2023

Kabul [Afghanistan], April 10 (ANI): Among the three British detainees, who are currently held in Taliban custody in Afghanistan, one of them has been identified as a former United Kingdom soldier, TOLOnews reported citing a security official.

The detainee had also spent his military mission in the southern province of Helmand, which is considered one of the most severely conflict-affected provinces of Afghanistan.

Earlier, three British nationals, including so-called “danger tourist” Miles Routledge, were held in Taliban custody in Afghanistan, according to Khaama Press.

The soldier has come to Afghanistan under the name of a journalist, according to TOLOnews citing a source.

The source claimed that all the detainees held illegal weapons. Kevin Cornwell, 53, and another British national were detained on January 11, 2023, by the Islamic Emirate in Kabul.

The Taliban’s General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) detained Cornwell at his hotel in January as the suspect of keeping an illegal handgun in his room safe. However, the family claimed that Cornwell had a licence for it.

Earlier, Khaama Press reported that among the three detainees, “danger tourist” Miles Routledge is also there. Routledge had been evacuated from Afghanistan by the British military in August 2021, but he just made the decision to go back.

He is a famous YouTuber who travels to dangerous countries and posts about them on social media, reported Khaama Press.

Routledge’s Twitter states that he goes “to the most dangerous places on Earth for fun”, listing off recent destinations as Afghanistan, South Sudan and Ukraine.

In February, he tweeted that if he were ever placed on a “no-fly list”, he would take an “Uber to Afghanistan.”

“If they come here illegally, or violated the laws of Afghanistan or worked as spies for other countries, it is considered a crime and any country has the right to detain such foreign nationals and introduce them to the relevant organizations,” said Sarwar Niazai, a military analyst, as per reported in TOLOnews.

“The country should be rescued from the spies, the country should be rescued from the intelligence circles. The Islamic Emirate should not allow these invader countries to send their intelligence representatives to our country,” said ToryalaiZazai, a military veteran.

Source: ThePrint

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Afghanistan: Amid intense drought, Afghan farmers in fear drop in crop yield


April 09, 2023

Kabul: With a severe drought ravaging large parts of Afghanistan, farmers in several districts have expressed concerns over the drought and the low yield of their crops. Farmers in drought-prone areas expressed concern about their harvests failing like in previous years.

Following the recent rains in Afghanistan, officials from the Taliban-led Agriculture and Irrigation Ministry voiced optimism that farmers would be able to end the drought. A spokesman for the ministry run by the Taliban claimed that emergency plans had been made because of the drought in Afghanistan.

“Droughts are increasing worldwide, but after recent rains in the country, it gave us hope that we would be less vulnerable to this compared to the past,” TOLO News quoted MusbahuhddinMustaeen as saying.

The lack of water management in recent years has been cited by the Taliban-led Chamber of Agriculture and Irrigation as one of the causes of the escalating drought in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan won’t experience drought, according to Merwis Haji Zada, deputy of the Chamber of Agriculture and Irrigation, if the Kunar Water Canal, Kamal Khan Dam, and Qosh Tepa Canal are constructed in accordance with specifications.

According to data from the chamber, Afghanistan receives up to 80 billion cubic metres of water annually through precipitation and snowfall, while the country uses 25 billion cubic metres of water annually, according to a report from TOLO News.

Afghanistan requested assistance from the UN earlier in March amid growing worries about drought in the nation beset by war, according to TOLOnews. Afghanistan asked the UN to supply wheat storage facilities.


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Southeast Asia


Malaysian teaches Malay language, Islamic education to Thai children for free

April 10, 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: Besides helping Malaysians involved in any mishap during their travels to Thailand, such as road accidents, Abdul Halim Othman also provides free Islamic education and Malay language classes for Thai children.

Abdul Halim, 55, who is married to a Thai and now lives in Kampung Pak Bara, Satun Province, in Thailand, has been providing these free classes for children between the ages of five and eight for the past 12 years at Misbahuddin Kindergarten every weekend.

Fondly known as 'Cikgu Joe Satun', he said that the Misbahuddin Kindergarten, which is located in the Ban Khuan sub-district, aims to give children from poor families in the village the opportunity to get basic Islamic education in addition to promoting the Malay language to the younger generation.

"The majority of residents in the Satun Region bordering the north of Malaysia are Muslims of Malay descent and still speak the Malay language albeit in the Kedah dialect.

"But most of them who still speak the Malay language are the older generation. The younger generation has assimilated into the Thai culture and speaks the language, especially those in government schools. So, education from an early age like this is important to preserve the Malay heritage and identity," he told Bernama recently.

Abdul Halim, who runs a travel agency with his wife, said the Malay generation in the Satun Region speak Malay in the Kedah dialect, especially when at home, but lack the basic knowledge of using standard Malay and they have problems in writing in Malay.

"They spell phonetically based on the sound of the words they speak, for example, ayer, for air (water), carpoo for kapor (chalk) and some are also fused with the Thai language because the main language in government schools is Thai," said the father of three.

When asked about the method he used to teach at the kindergarten, Abdul Halim said he emphasises a lot on pronunciation and spelling, as well as the syllabification of the Malay alphabet, and also uses the curriculum issued by the South Thailand Kindergarten Coordination Centre (Perkasa).

On how he started teaching at the kindergarten, which has about 200 students and eight teachers, Abdul Halim who hails from Kampung Sungai Seluang, in Lunas, Kedah, said it started when he had to take care of his sister-in-law who was in a coma due to a road accident back in 2011.

Before the incident, he was a freelancer in real estate and often went back and forth between Malaysia and Thailand.

"As it happened, my sister-in-law is a widow and her two children were studying abroad, while her other siblings are living far away. Since I didn't have a permanent job and I had a lot of free time on my hands, I decided to take care of her.

"For six months I took care of her, taking her back and forth to the hospital until she recovered. Because I was 'stuck' in Satun Region and my pockets were starting to dry up, I took a wage to help my father-in-law with his business selling hardware and also volunteered to teach at the kindergarten before opening my own tourism business," he said.

The UniversitiTeknologi Malaysia graduate also expressed his gratitude for how his life has turned out which brought him closer to God and doing a lot of community activities.

Meanwhile, Misbahuddin Kindergarten adviser Alee Haura Wan Megat Abu Bakar said only six kindergartens in Satun Province provide standard Malay classes using the Perkasa curriculum.

He said students are also taught Tauhid, Fiqh, Ethics, History, Jawi and Quran with teachers being paid around 2,250 bhat (RM300) a month.


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Bank Islam offers chance of trip to Turkiye in UEFA 2023 campaign

09-04- 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd (Bank Islam) is offering a once-in-a-lifetime experience to its Bank Islam Mastercard Credit Card-i cardmembers to watch the UEFA Champions League final match in Türkiye through the “Trip to UEFA 2023” campaign.

Customers can join this campaign when they spend using a Bank Islam Mastercard Credit Card-i during the campaign period. Customers are eligible for one entry unit for every RM100 retail or online spending and two entry units for every RM100 spent overseas.

Additionally, new customers who apply and activate a Bank Islam Mastercard Credit Card-i within the campaign period are eligible for three entries.

The grand prize of Bank Islam Mastercard Credit Card-i “Trip to UEFA 2023” campaign consists of two tickets to UEFA Champions League final, two roundtrip flight tickets to Türkiye, four-day, three-night luxury accommodation, and US$250 allowance. Meanwhile, consolation prizes include exclusive UEFA-themed merchandise, TruPoints of up to 30,000, and Adidas vouchers.

Bank Islam’s chief business officer (Retail) MizanMasram said the campaign’s organisation is intended to appreciate the support and loyalty of Bank Islam customers towards its products and services over the years.

“Cashless payment is now a preferred method among customers as it provides an easy, fast and safe transaction. The organisation of this campaign will encourage the use of cashless payment methods, further accelerating the acceptance of digital payments.

This will then support the nation’s goal of forming a cashless society,“ he said.


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Not obligatory for countries to follow one another in determining end of Ramadan: Muis

Wallace Woon

APR 9, 2023

SINGAPORE - The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said it is “not obligatory” for countries to follow one another in determining the date for the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting.

In response to queries, Deputy Mufti Mohd Murat Md Aris on Sunday said countries should rely on their own methods to determine the Islamic calendar.

Two criteria – calculation based on astronomy, and the sighting of the crescent moon – are used by Islamic scholars to determine the end of Ramadan, he explained.

The end of Ramadan will usher in Hari Raya Aidilfitri, also known as Hari Raya Puasa, which falls on the first day of the month of Syawal.

Hari Raya Aidilfitri in Singapore in 2023 is slated to fall on April 22.

Malaysian daily The Star, as well as several other Malaysian news websites, reported on Friday that the International Astronomical Centre based in the United Arab Emirates had predicted that Syawal in most countries would begin on April 21.

According to the Islamic calendar, which is lunar, some months can last 29 days and others 30 days.

In the Muis statement, Dr Murat said: “For as long as we hold true to the principles of our faith and the guidance of Prophet Muhammad, differences in the determination of the Islamic calendar are something which is neither unexpected nor alarming.”

As a result, not all countries in the world, including Muslim-majority countries, celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri on the same date.

These differences have occurred very frequently in the past, said Dr Murat, citing recent instances in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2021 and 2022 when Muslims in some countries in the region welcomed Hari Raya Aidilfitri on a different day from those in other countries.

In 2022, Muslims in Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia celebrated Hari Raya Aidilfitri a day earlier than Muslims in Singapore. The Islamic religious authorities of these four nations meet regularly through an informal gathering called Mabims.

Said Dr Murat: “The religious authorities of other Mabims countries adopt the (astronomy calculations) method to determine key Islamic months such as Ramadan and Syawal.

“However, these countries might also not sight the crescent moon due to atmospheric factors despite fulfilling the Mabims criteria.”

Determining the end of Ramadan by sighting the crescent moon in Singapore, he added, has proved “generally extremely difficult” due to its weather conditions, which are often cloudy.

Therefore, the Republic uses the imkanurrukyah astronomy calculation method, which was recently reviewed in 2021 and is based on more than 700 data points of crescent moon sightings from around the world.

The criterion considers two parameters during sunset on the 29th day of the month: the elevation of the crescent moon, which must exceed three degrees, and the degree of elongation of the sun and the moon, which must exceed 6.4 degrees.


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