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Islamic World News ( 24 Nov 2021, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Islamic State Posts Morphed Picture of Lord Shiva Idol on Cover Page Of 'Voice of Hind', an Online Magazine

New Age Islam News Bureau

24 November 2021




• Indian Muslims Rejected Jinnah’s Call, Stayed Back By Choice, Not Chance: Jamiat-Ulama-e- Hind

• We Can Starve, but the Kids Cry For Food: Afghans Struggle after a 100 Days of Taliban Rule

• Pakistan Can Act As a Bridge between the Afghan Taliban and the International Community: Experts

• US Calls For Infusing Liquidity into Afghan Banking System without Benefiting Taliban



• Islamic State Posts Morphed Pic of Lord Shiva Idol on Cover Page Of 'Voice Of Hind', an Online Magazine

• Indian Muslims Rejected Jinnah’s Call, Stayed Back By Choice, Not Chance: Jamiat-Ulama-e- Hind

• Wasim Rizvi Accompanied By Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati Again Makes Distasteful Comments on Prophet, Islam

• Northeast Delhi Riots Case: Court Asks Police To Probe If Attempt Was Made To Shield Five Discharged For Lack Of Evidence

• 3 terrorists arrested for killing salesman in Srinagar, case solved, claims police

• Delhi HC to hear plea seeking to ban Salman Khurshid's controversial new book


South Asia

• Muslim Mason Taher Ali Khan Has Crafted Thousands of Shrines Sculpts for Bangladesh’s Hindu Dead

• Taliban inducts 2 dozen high-level officials for interim Afghan government

• US-Taliban to resume talks with a focus on counterterrorism operations

• Clearing Afghanistan's landmines one careful step a time

• Taliban to purge 'people of bad character' from ranks

• Afghan journalists decry Taliban TV 'guidelines'



• Pakistan Can Act As a Bridge between the Afghan Taliban and The International Community: Experts

• Indian Sikhs laud Pakistan for facilities on Guru Nanak’s anniversary

• Imran Khan’s fate hangs in balance amid persisting unease in civil military relations in Pakistan

• Pakistan govt, TTP deny release of prisoners

• Pakistan rejects as ‘baseless' Indian stand of downing F-16 in February 2019


North America

• US Calls For Infusing Liquidity into Afghan Banking System without Benefiting Taliban

• Use ‘all available leverage’ to release detained US employees by Houthis: Congressmen

• US envoy Feltman sounds the alarm over Ethiopia, says no military solution to war


Arab World

• Iraq Starts Campaign to Hunt down Daesh/ISIS Terrorists

• Former foreign minister accuses Egypt, Israel of supporting Sudan ‘coup’

• Two civilians killed, six soldiers injured in Israeli rocket attack on central Syria

• Lebanon’s interior minister: Crisis with Gulf could worsen

• Generation of children ‘at stake’ in Lebanon crisis: UNICEF

• Arab coalition strikes sites in Yemen capital Sanaa



• Israel Defence Chief Jets to Morocco To Cement Security Ties After Abraham Accords

• Iran Executes, Arman Abdolali, Teen Offender despite Pleas from Rights Groups

• Turkey Seeks Saudi Court Order in Khashoggi Murder Case

• Remains of first Islamic madrassa found in Turkey’s Harran

• Israel police says Hezbollah smuggling weapons to Arab Israelis

• Top Negotiator: Iran Wants US Commitment to All Undertakings

• AEOI Head: Iran Determined to Develop N. Program



• Political Deal Based On Sparing Of Sudanese Blood: PM Hamdok Tells Al Arabiya

• Moroccan delegation visits Israel amid normalization

• Sudan's PM Hamdok: Investigation launched into violations against protesters

• Sudan’s PM Hamdok says he expects new government to be formed within two weeks

• UN envoy for Libya resigns weeks before key presidential elections: Diplomats

• Economic recession spurs gender violence in South Sudan

• US supports peace and stability in Sudan: Blinken



• EU Commissioner Faces French Rebuke for Meeting Muslim Brotherhood-Linked Group

• Manchester bomber witness rejects claims of extremism at mosque

• Uzbek Authorities Detain Alleged Members of Banned Islamic Group

• UN appeal for Afghanistan aid meets $600 mln target

• EU condemns Houthi breach into ex-US Embassy in Yemen

• 'Racist, discriminatory': Turkish Cypriots call on UK councillor to resign over flag hoisting issue


Southeast Asia

• Teach Kedah MB, PAS leaders to respect non-Muslims, women, DAP MP urges Unity Ministry

• After Kedah 4D ban, observers say rigidity in PAS proving barrier to genuine policy ideas

• Give priority to single parents, not flexibility to polygamous men, says NGO

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Islamic State Posts Morphed Picture of Lord Shiva Idol on Cover Page Of 'Voice Of Hind', an Online Magazine




Nov 24, 2021

KARWAR/BENGALURU: The Karnataka government has strengthened security in Murudeshwar, in Uttara Kannada district, after an online magazine of the terrorist organisation IS published a morphed image of a Lord Shiva idol located in the temple town, about 120 km from here.

The photo has been edited to replace the head of the idol with an image of an IS flag and carried on cover page of 'Voice of Hind', an India-centric online propaganda magazine for the outfit. A post attributed to IS said "Muslims were being targeted in Tripura and the community has to take revenge by breaking false Gods (sic)".

Karnataka home minister Araga Jnanendra told TOI: "Since Monday evening, we've provided adequate police security for the temple and asked the Uttara Kannada SP to coordinate with the cybercrime section to identify the source of the photograph."

The 123-foot statue of Lord Shiva is said to be the second-tallest in Asia.

Source: Times of India

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Indian Muslims Rejected Jinnah’s Call, Stayed Back By Choice, Not Chance: Jamiat-Ulama-e- Hind


Mahmood  A Madani , Jamiat-Ulama-e- Hind


23rd November 2021

Mahmoud A Madani , Jamiat-Ulama-e- Hind,  reiterating that the Founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, committed a grave ‘crime’ and is responsible for the irreparable damage done to the Indian subcontinent through his two-nation theory. Madani was speaking as a special guest at the TV 9 pre-election conclave organized at a hotel in Gomtinagar in Lucknow. The discussion was on the M (Muslim )factor in the coming elections in the state in a few months’ time.

Madani said that the patriotism of the Indian Muslim should never be doubted or challenged as the decision to stay back in India was their own choice and it was not by chance or any external force. He said that his ancestors chose not to pay heed to Jinnah’s call to divide India and not support Pakistan and stayed put in their homeland- India.  He condemned any Indian Muslim who chose to glorify Jinnah, Madani said as for him, far from considering Jinnah a hero he refuses to even acknowledge him as a good leader. Jinnah he said was an opportunist who jeopardized the lives of the entire Muslim community for his ambition and personal dream.

Madani was equally critical of AIMIM  Asaduddin Owaisi and said religion should never be equated with the nation.

But surprisingly Madani who has even just a month back highly blasted the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh and termed Yogi Aditynath as the worst (ghatiya) and unsuccessful (nakaam) chief Minister Uttar Pradesh has ever had tried to play soft on saffron and gave evasive replies when the interviewer asked him what the  Muslims of Uttar Pardesh feel about Yogi rule and what all the Yogi government has done for the minorities in the state..

Agreeing that there was a dire crisis of Muslim leadership Madani said this is because the Indian Muslims never wanted to be considered a separate identity and believed in Gandhian ideology of nationalism. That is why no second line of leadership emerged.

When asked what he felt about the good works done by Yogi’s government like his work towards modernizing madrasas, Madani said that the government should leave madrasas to the community and work towards providing better formal education to children of minorities. He did not like other minority leaders saying that the government was trying to dilute Islamic teaching through its modernization agenda.

Journalists who have seen the same person spew venom on BJP rule, express concern and anger because the Indian Muslims feel alienated, suppressed, and helpless in the saffron rule were taken aback at the soft stand that the Maulana chose to take on the UP government’s treatment of its minority. Google baba will also get confused if we are talking about the same person.

Source: Daily Siasat

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We Can Starve, but the Kids Cry For Food: Afghans Struggle After A 100 Days Of Taliban Rule


Afghanistan has been braving a grave humanitarian crisis since the US pulled out its troops ending a war that lasted two decades.


November 24, 2021

"Me and my husband can go hungry but we are worried about our children they cry because they are hungry and that is so difficult,” a 35-year-old Zarghuna, mother of two, said while narrating her struggle ever since the Taliban took over Afghanistan on August 15.

"We just have dinner in the Evening. Sometimes we don’t even have that and we go to sleep without eating anything. In the morning, we just have tea," she told the Independent UK.

Afghanistan has been braving a grave humanitarian crisis since the US pulled out its troops, ending a war that lasted two decades.

Zarghuna's eight-year-old son has also started feeling the impact of the crisis. He said, "We have bread and sometimes rice, but never meat and fruit. We have so much less food than before and it makes me worried. Sometimes, when we don’t have food, I go to sleep without eating anything.”

The family has started eating raw flour now. Zarghuna said, "Our situation is not good. A few days ago, we received a sack of flour and we started to eat that. Everything has become expensive. We cannot buy flour and oil anymore because the price is too high.”

With children aged between one and 15, Zarghuna said the crisis is so grave that the family has been only been able to afford one meal per day as food prices shot up.

Earlier, the United Nations had warned that millions of Afghans, including children, could die of starvation unless urgent action is taken to pull Afghanistan back from the brink of collapse.

World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley said 22.8 million people - more than half of Afghanistan's 39 million population - were facing acute food insecurity and "marching to starvation" compared to 14 million just two months ago.

The food crisis, exacerbated by climate change, was dire in Afghanistan even before the takeover by the Taliban, whose new administration has been blocked from accessing assets held overseas as nations grapple with how to deal with the hardline Islamists.

Many Afghans are selling possessions to buy food, with the Taliban unable to pay wages to civil servants, and urban communities are facing food insecurity at levels similar to rural areas for the first time.

Aid groups are urging countries, concerned about human rights under the Taliban, to engage with the new rulers to prevent a collapse they say could trigger a migration crisis similar to the 2015 exodus from Syria that shook Europe.

Source: India Today

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Pakistan Can Act As A Bridge Between The Afghan Taliban And The International Community: Experts


In this file photo, a delegation from Afghan Taliban’s Qatar-based political office meets Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Aug 25. — Photo courtesy foreign ministry


November 24, 2021

PESHAWAR: Speakers at a round table conference have observed that Pakistan can act as a bridge between the Afghan Taliban and the international community, especially the US, as the latter is reluctant to recognise the former’s government in Kabul.

The panellists discussed Afghanistan’s foreign policy under the Taliban, cross-border movement of militants and counter-terrorism, Pakistan’s foreign policy interests and options for Afghanistan, regional stability in Central Asia and Russia, China’s interest, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor/Belt and Road Initiative, US foreign policy options in Afghanistan, according to a statement issued here on Tuesday.

The Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University Peshawar organised two parallel round table conferences to discuss the Afghan Taliban’s seizure of power and transformation of the region’s security landscape. The university’s political science department organised the events.

The first discussion was based on the power retrieval of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the challenges faced by them such as their acceptance around world, the brain-drain from Afghanistan, food challenges, and the Afghan foreign reserves frozen by the US government and assistance from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which has led to many challenges, including protection of human rights, winning of international support, and resolution of economic and humanitarian crises.

Discuss Afghan foreign policy under Taliban, regional issues

The second round table discussed the return of the Afghan Taliban to power and transformation of the security landscape of the region. Apparently, Pakistan, China and Russia will have far more influence than before in the broader Central Asian and South Asian region, the panelists observed.

According to them, while the situation in Afghanistan is still evolving, the Afghan Taliban’s ascendance to power has raised concerns that a revival of militancy could put the region at risk by vitalising the transnational militant groups and threatening foreign investments, those linked to BRI and CPEC.

Pakistan has a unique relationship with Afghanistan and remains the key player in the new scenario. The long history of turbulent relations is defined by cultural and ethnic connections, sovereignty concerns, security interests, and trade. Pakistan has a huge interest in the Afghan Taliban acting firmly and not allowing Afghanistan to descend into an ungoverned space.

The SBBWU and Centre for Global and Strategic Studies (CGSS) Islamabad signed a MoU, which included joint research collaborations, organisation of conferences, and seminars.

The panelists included SBBWUP Vice-Chancellor Prof Razia Sultana, City University of Science and Technology Prof Minhajul Hassan, CGSS chief executive retired Lt-Colonel Khalid Taimur Akram, former ambassador Ayaz Wazir and experts Syed Akhtar Ali Shah, Dr Sadia Suleman, Prof Shabir Ahmad, Imtiaz Guland Dr Raza Rehman.

Source: Dawn

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US Calls For Infusing Liquidity Into Afghan Banking System Without Benefiting Taliban


A photo of US State Department spokesperson Ned Price. — AFP/File


Anwar Iqbal

November 24, 2021

WASHINGTON: Hours after the United Nations sought international intervention to prevent a possible collapse of Afghanistan’s banks, the United States promised on Tuesday to look for options to ‘infuse liquidity’ into the system without enriching the Taliban.

On Monday, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released a new situation report on Afghanistan, saying that the country’s financial and bank payment systems were ‘in disarray.’

The report details the state of the banking and financial system prior to the political transition on 15 August 2021, as well as the current situation in the three months since.

“Prompt and decisive action is urgently needed, with delays in decision-making expected to increase the cost of a banking system collapse – a grim predicament,” the report warns.

“We are working very closely with the UN … to find ways to offer liquidity to infuse,” said US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price when asked at a news briefing if the US was willing to help prevent the predicted collapse.

The United States, he said, was also working with other countries, “and bilaterally and multilaterally as well, to see to it that the people of Afghanistan can take advantage of international support in ways that don’t flow into the coffers of the Taliban.”

Mr Price pointed out that the US has pledged $474 million of humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan this year alone, adding: “We know that the Afghan economy, even before the fall of the previous government, was in dire need of international support.”

Underlining the need to continue providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, Mr. Price said: “We believe that we can … support the humanitarian needs of the people of Afghanistan even as we continue to make clear to the Taliban the expectations that we have of them when it comes to the priority issues that we’ve laid out.”

The United States, he said, wanted Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers to ensure free passage for all, fulfill their counterterrorism commitments, protect human rights and form an inclusive government before establishing any ties with them.

The UNDP report on Afghanistan describes a banking system at a near-standstill, with humanitarian interventions thwarted by the country’s liquidity crisis, deepened by a lack of confidence on the part of depositors and international markets. IMF projections cited in the report predict a contraction of up to 30 per cent in the Afghan economy for 2021-2022.

Total banking system deposits fell from 268 billion AFN (US$2.9 billion) at the end of 2020 to 194 billion (US$2 billion) in September of this year. Those may fall to 165 billion AFN (US$1.8 billion) by the end of 2021, a loss of approximately 40 percent.

Source: Dawn

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Wasim Rizvi Accompanied By Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati Again Makes Distasteful Comments On Prophet, Islam

23rd November 2021

Former chairman of Shia Waqf board in Uttar Pradesh, Wasim Rizvi, who is well known for his controversial views on Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, has once again made provocative and distasteful comments on Muslims. To make matters worse, he was accompanied by the head priest of Dasna Devi temple Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati as they discussed Rizvi’s new book “Muhammad.”

Addressing a group of people at the meeting, the video clip of which is now doing rounds on social media, Rizvi was surrounded by several Hindu religious heads. “I was born in Ayodhya and there is a current ongoing mission against Hindus to weaken their society,” he remarked.

He further claimed that women were forcefully converted to Islam, and poor Hindus were given money to do the same. “All this is a part of the conspiracy hatched by their Prophet Muhammad. It was he who convinced the Muslims that if they converted non-Muslim to Islam, a place was guaranteed for them in heaven,” Rizvi can be heard saying in the video.

Rizvi further argued that it was this conspiracy that resulted in Islam becoming the second most practiced religion in the world.

Narsinghanand sides with Rizvi:

Supporting Rizvi, hate-spewing priest Yati Narsinghanand, well known for his bigoted remarks on Islam, stated that, unlike Salman Khurshid who hides behind his book to portray Islam in a good light, “Rizvi-bhai” has shed the light on the true perils of Islam.

It’s pertinent to mention that veteran Congress leader Salman Khurshid, in his new book titled “Sunrise over Ayodhya” has compared a “robust version of Hindutva to ISIS and Boko Haram.

“Has any Hindu group killed the way ISIS has? I have just witnessed Hindus being killed. Be it a Muslim or a cow, when a death occurs only a Hindu prime minister cries,” Narsinghanand concluded.

Source: Daily Siasat

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Northeast Delhi Riots Case: Court Asks Police To Probe If Attempt Was Made To Shield Five Discharged For Lack Of Evidence

By Anand Mohan J

November 24, 2021

A Delhi court has ordered the police to investigate whether a deliberate attempt was made to shield five men who were discharged in a northeast Delhi riots case.

Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhat discharged the five men who were accused of being part of a mob that looted a Muslim man’s house and a medical store. Police stated that the rioters took away medicines and cosmetics worth about Rs 22-23 lakh.

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The court said that as the accused were let off due to lack of evidence, it ordered the northeast DCP to conduct an enquiry into the “manner in which the investigation was conducted by the Investigating Offcer (IO) in this case to find out whether or not there had been any deliberate attempt to shield the offenders”. The court said that the accused were not discharged because the incident did not take place or that they were falsely implicated.

The court had relied on Supreme court guidelines while dealing with the evidence pertaining to the commission of an offence involving a large number of offenders and a large number of victims. ASJ Bhat said that in order to convict a person, at least two prosecution witnesses have to support and identify the role and involvement of the accused persons.

The court observed that in this case, it was just the complainant who was a prosecution witness and that he did not identify any members of the mob at the time of the incident, but did so when he was shown their photographs by the police.

The court discharged the accused for lack of sufficient evidence. It, however, noted that material on record does clearly indicate that riotous incident has taken place

“This court is not insensitive towards the mental agony and the financial loss suffered by the complainant due to this incident. However, the sensitivity or the emotions alone are not the factors to be taken into consideration by the court while deciding the fate of any accused. These cannot take place of evidence,” the court said.

Source: Indian Express

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3 terrorists arrested for killing salesman in Srinagar, case solved, claims police

Nov 24, 2021

SRINAGAR: The J&K police claimed on Tuesday that they had resolved the November 9 killing of salesman Ibrahim Ahmad at Bohri Kadal, central Srinagar with the arrests of three terrorists.

According to the police spokesman, the three arrested terrorists — Ajaz Ahmad Lone, Naseer Ahmad Shah and Showkat Ahmad Dar — belong to the TRF terror outfit and are residents of Lelhar, in Pulwama, south Kashmir.

These three men, the police claimed, killed Ibrahim Ahmad, who worked at the wholesale dry fruits shop of a Kashmiri Pandit named Sandeep Mawa. According to Mawa, he was the intended target but Ahmad was killed as he was in his (Mawa’s) car instead of his own.

A case vide FIR No. 86/2021 has been filed under relevant sections of the at police station Maharaj Gunj. The police had constituted a special team to investigate the killing.

The three men were arrested and during questioning "confessed" their involvement, the police spokesman said.

Source: Times of India

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Delhi HC to hear plea seeking to ban Salman Khurshid's controversial new book

Nov 24, 2021

The Delhi high court is set to hear today a plea seeking to ban the sale, purchase, and all forms of circulation of ‘Sunrise Over Ayodhya: Nationhood in Our Times’ – the new book by Congress leader and former Union minister Salman Khurshid which triggered extensive outbursts from certain political quarters, particularly over the fact that the author had compared a “robust version” of Hindutva to the jihadist Islam of terror groups such as the Islamic State (IS) and the Boko Haram.

The plea in Delhi high court, filed by advocate Vineet Jindal, calls out Khushid's book for violating “the fundamental right guaranteed under articles 19 and 21” of the Indian Constitution. Other than seeking a ban on the sale, purchase, and all forms of circulation, the petition also strives to ensure that the book is not published henceforth in any form – neither print nor digital.

Khurshid, although went on to say that Hinduism is a “beautiful religion” that he is proud of, unwittingly sparked a nationwide row with the views presented in his book. Even within the ranks of his own party, leaders differ on the debate over religious views. Khurshid's party colleague, Ghulam Nabi Azad, has publicly said that he did not agree with the former on the matter. “The comparison is factually incorrect and an exaggeration,” the PTI news agency quoted Azad as saying.

Khurshid's new book on the Ayodhya verdict was released last week. It explored the Supreme Court's landmark judgment on the Babri Masjid land dispute and made comments on the ideology of the Hindutva.

Source: Hindustan Times

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South Asia


Muslim Mason Taher Ali Khan Has Crafted Thousands of Shrines Sculpts for Bangladesh’s Hindu Dead


BARISAL: Bangladesh’s minority Hindu community has endured waves of violence and persecution, but one Muslim artisan has devoted his talents to shepherding their dead along a peaceful journey to the next life. Taher Ali Khan has crafted thousands of shrines to departed loved ones around the tranquil grounds of Barisal Mahashashan, the country’s largest Hindu crematorium. The devout mason prays five times a day and adheres to all the precepts of the Islamic faith, but has often found himself fending off criticism from hardliners who question his calling.

“My prophet said to find bread by honest work. And he advised us to refrain from stealing, hurting others or committing any crimes,” Khan, 60, tells AFP.

“I work here constructing tombs,” he added. “I don’t see anything that would jeopardise my religion.” Hindus account for about 10 percent of the majority-Muslim nation’s 169 million people and are well represented in politics, business and the civil service.

But their numbers have dwindled from around a quarter of the population in 1947, when millions fled after the partition of newly-independent India into two separate nations along religious lines. Another mass exodus coincided with the brutal nine-month Bangladesh war of independence in 1971, during which occupying Pakistani military commanders sanctioned attacks that saw tens of thousands of Hindu civilians murdered.

Occasional flashes of deadly religious conflict continue to this day, with at least six people killed last month in nationwide unrest that also saw attacks on temples. News of the recent violence upset Khan, who spent the following days calling on Hindu friends to ask about their safety. “I consider Hindus to be my brothers and sisters,” he says. “They love me because of my work. I pour my heart out into constructing tombs because everyone wants to build something beautiful for their dead.”

‘All my love and care’

Khan spends most of his time at the crematorium, labouring away at ornate samadhi shrines that crisscross the grounds around the funeral pyre.

The more humble monuments are small and unassuming concrete slabs, similar in style to Western tombstones, with ashes from the dead buried underneath.

The largest are elaborate, multi-tiered edifices with colourful spires that tower over the small man-made pond that greets visitors at the graveyard’s entrance, which can sell for up to 250,000 taka ($3,000).

“If I build a beautiful Samadhi for the dead, it gives me enormous satisfaction,” he says. “I feel like I have done something to help them feel good and to mourn their dead well.” Khan learned his trade 35 years ago and by his estimation has built more than 10,000 samadhis in the time since — most of those around Barisal crematorium are his handiwork. “Look at this beautiful one,” he says, gesturing at one of the shrines during a tour of the graveyard.

“The family wanted something beautiful for their young boy, who died suddenly. I did it with all my love and care.” His work is in high demand from Hindus living in Barisal and from far-flung farming communities around the southern river port. “It doesn’t matter whether he’s a Muslim, he does a solid job,” said Gouranga Das, who came to the grounds to cremate his mother and again seek Khan’s services. “He made my grandfather’s tomb and it was very nice.”

Source: Kuwait Times

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Taliban inducts 2 dozen high-level officials for interim Afghan government

Nov 24, 2021

The Taliban on Tuesday announced more than two-dozen high-level officials, including ministers and deputy ministers, for its interim government in Afghanistan, the country's news agency Pajhwok Afghan News said.

The spokesperson for Afghanistan's interim government, Zabihullah Mujahid, said the the officials and the ministers have been inducted in compliance with orders from Taliban’s supreme leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada.

The Afghan news agency reported that Maulvi Shahabuddin Delawar has been appointed as the acting minister of mines and petroleum while Mullah Mohammad Abbas Akhund has been given the role of acting minister of disaster management.

The list released by Zabihullah Mujahid, and accessed by Pajhwok Afghan News, show names of 25 others who have been appointed as deputy ministers, corps commanders and heads of independent departments, including acting director of prisons, deputy minister of border and tribal affairs and head of Kandahar airport.

The Taliban announced its caretaker government in September, weeks after taking over the capital Kabul in an effortless siege after ousting former President Ashraf Ghani.

While Mullah Hassan Akhund was named the prime minister in the 33-member interim government, Sirajuddin Haqqani, the son of the founder of the Haqqani network, was given the charge of the interior minister. He is one of the FBI's most wanted men due to his involvement in suicide attacks and ties with Al Qaeda.

Late last month, the Taliban urged the United States and other countries to recognise their government in Afghanistan, and said that the failure to do so and the continued freezing of Afghan funds abroad would “lead to problems not only for the country but for the world.”

Zabihullah Mujahid recalled that the reason the Taliban and the US went to war last time was also because the two did not have formal diplomatic ties.

Source: Hindustan Times

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US-Taliban to resume talks with a focus on counterterrorism operations

24 Nov 2021

The U.S and Taliban officials will resume talks in Doha, Qatar next week to discuss counterterrorism operations against ISIS-K, Al-Qaeda, humanitarian assistance and economic crisis in Afghanistan, the U.S Department of State have revealed.

The U.S and Taliban talks refer back to February 2020, when an agreement was signed between both parties on an Afghanistan peace process to help with a political settlement, which eventually failed and the Taliban took over power by force on August 15, 2021, following the flee of Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.

The agreement was said to have some hidden articles, which were never leaked.

The U.S Department of States announced on Tuesday that its special representative for Afghanistan, Tom West will chair the U.S delegation during the next session of a two-week talk with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar.

The two sides will discuss “our vital national interests,” which include counterterrorism operations against the ISIS group and Al-Qaeda, humanitarian assistance, Afghanistan’s devastated economy, and safe passage out of Afghanistan for US citizens and Afghans who worked for the United States during the 20-year war, said Ned Price, State Department spokesperson.

Source: Khaama Press

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Clearing Afghanistan's landmines one careful step a time

Nov 24, 2021

NAD -E-ALI, AFGHANISTAN: Weeks after the Taliban took over Afghanistan, families who fled the fighting in one southern village returned home to find something strange: the cricket ground had been circled in rocks painted red and white.

White, it turned out, meant it was safe for children to play. But red signalled buried landmines and other ordnance -- the explosive remnants of war that have killed or maimed tens of thousands of Afghans over the past four decades.

The village of Nad-e-Ali in Helmand province became a front line in the final days of the war between the Taliban and Western-backed government forces in Kabul.

It was besieged for two months until the Islamists took control of the country in mid-August.

When its residents returned in September they found the village school riddled with gunfire, its roof blackened by smoke, and the children's swings reduced to just a metal frame.

They also found that the area had been "totally mined" in the fighting, according to Juma Khan, the local coordinator for the HALO Trust, the main mine-clearing NGO operating in Afghanistan.

Newly laid mines and other booby traps were buried beneath doors of buildings and beside windows.

"The rooms inside had mines and there were mines on the main street," Khan told AFP during a visit to Nad-e-Ali this month.

About 41,000 Afghan civilians have been killed or wounded by landmines and unexploded ordnance since 1988, according to the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS).

More than two-thirds of the victims were children, many of whom spotted the deadly devices while playing and picked them up.

The HALO (Hazardous Area Life-Support Organization) Trust was founded in 1988 specifically to tackle ordnance left behind during the Soviet occupation of the country.

The country was so badly contaminated, however, that the clearance work never stopped -- even after an international treaty banning the use of landmines was signed in 1997, with Afghanistan ratifying the convention in 2002.

More than 30 years later, in the battles leading up to the Taliban's return to power, mines and improvised explosive devices were again laid and left behind -- this time by both the Islamists and their now-ousted adversaries.

HALO -- one of the favourite charities of Princess Diana -- struck an agreement with the new Taliban authorities in September to have its more than 2,500 Afghan employees return to work.

In Nad-e-Ali, Taliban fighters are now guiding HALO's deminers to find the deadly traps they set up.

Because they live in the village and do not want to be blamed for civilian deaths, Taliban fighters "used to take them out with their own hands, but we stopped them to avoid any further detonations", said Khan.

But even as demining efforts persist, explosions have already caused casualties among villagers.

Two months ago the wife of a village teacher lost both her legs when an explosive device detonated the moment she opened the door of her house.

"This incident was very painful. I saw it happen with my own eyes," said the teacher, Bismillah.

"I saw my children screaming and crying... I'm alone and the stress is too much, too much."

Since then, the village and its school have been classified as a "high priority" demining zone.

It was HALO that set up the red and white rocks to mark out safe corridors for their 10 teams of eight deminers as they carefully inspect the ground using metal detectors.

"When it detects metal, battery or anything it rings an alarm. Then we mark the area, and start to dig very carefully," said supervisor Bahramudin Ahmadi.

"As soon as we have a visual of the mine we inform the demining team and we inform the local security, as they have to give the permission to clear the zone and after that we detonate it."

Over the past three months, 102 explosive devices have been defused in the region, including 25 in the village itself -- but that is believed to be just a fraction of what remains buried in the ground and hidden inside some houses.

For HALO, it is a race against time in post-war Afghanistan to "decontaminate" one of the most heavily mined countries in the world.

Source: Times of India

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Taliban to purge 'people of bad character' from ranks

Nov 24, 2021

KABUL/ PESHAWAR: The Taliban have formed a commission to purge "people of bad character" from their ranks to protect Afghanistan's reputation, the group said on Tuesday, in the latest sign it is trying to change from an insurgency into a regular government. The Taliban operated as insurgent fighters for two decades before toppling a Western-backed government in August.

In an audio recording, Taliban deputy chief and Afghan interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani said: "We are learning that people of bad character had entered (Taliban) ranks and had been causing a bad name to the Islamic Emirate (Afghanistan) and serving their vested interests." "It is our humble wish that there should be a small number of people but they should be pure and sincere so that this movement should not get damaged," he said in the audio, whose authenticity was confirmed by Taliban officials.

Source: Times of India

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Afghan journalists decry Taliban TV 'guidelines'

Nov 23, 2021

KABUL: Afghan journalists and activists on Tuesday condemned new "religious guidelines" issued by the Taliban that restrict the role of women in television, as the Islamists move to muzzle the media.

The Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice on Sunday called on television channels to stop showing dramas and soap operas featuring women actors.

It also told broadcasters not to screen films or programmes that are "against Islamic or Afghan values" and asked women television journalists to wear the Islamic hijab while presenting their reports.

Zan TV, the first Afghan channel staffed exclusively by female producers and reporters, said on Twitter that the "guidelines threaten media freedom" and reduce "the presence of women journalists".

The Taliban's interpretation of the hijab -- which can range from a hair covering to a face veil or full body covering -- is unclear, and the majority of Afghan women already wear headscarves.

The attempt to regulate the media comes three months after the Taliban swept back into power.

Hujatullah Mujadidi, a founding member of the Federation of Afghan Journalists, said if enforced the guidelines would force "some media outlets, especially television, (to) stop working".

Many shows rolled out to fill TV schedules, notably soap operas produced in India and Turkey, will be inappropriate under the new guidelines, making it difficult for channels to generate enough output and retain audiences.

A ministry spokesman said after the announcement that the new measures amounted to a "religious guideline" rather than rules.

But Qari Abdul Sattar Saeed, a media spokesman for the Taliban prime minister, days earlier accused the Afghan media of conveying propaganda for the "enemy" and said they should "be treated harshly".

Aslia Ahmadzai, a journalist in exile, told AFP that women journalists "will feel threatened".

Another exiled Afghan journalist, who wanted to remain anonymous, described the guidelines as "the first step to banning the TV altogether, just like in the 90s".

During the Taliban's 1996-2001 stint in power, there was no Afghan media to speak of -- the Islamists banned television, movies and most other forms of entertainment, deeming them immoral.

Despite insisting they would rule more moderately this time around, the Taliban have already introduced rules on what women must wear at university.

Taliban members have also beaten and harassed several Afghan journalists covering protests despite promising to uphold press freedoms.

Source: Times of India

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Indian Sikhs laud Pakistan for facilities on Guru Nanak’s anniversary

November 24, 2021

LAHORE: The Sikhs from across the border lauded the Pakistan government for issuing them visas to participate in the 552nd birth anniversary celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak.

They were addressing Baba Guru Nanak International Conference at the Punjab Institute of Language, Art and Culture (Pilac) on Tuesday.

Sardar Hazaara Singh thanked the government of Pakistan for opening the Kartarpur Corridor and facilitating the Sikh community in performing their religious rites in Pakistan. He added that the message of Baba Nanak was peace and love.

Mr Singh applauded Pilac for promotion of Punjabi language and culture, saying more efforts were needed to promote the mother tongue of Punjab.

Sardar Anmol Singh termed the people of Pakistan loving and caring, saying Punjabi language and culture had been greatly promoted by institutions in Punjab, especially Pilac.

Dr Sughra Sadaf, the director general of the institute, thanked the visiting Sikh delegation and said that Pilac held the conference on Baba Nanak every year pay rich tributes to him. She said Baba Nanak promoted humanity and both parts of Punjab should carry forward his message of love.

Pilac Director Asim Chaudhry said the centre had been promoting Punjabi culture and language since 2004.

Source: Dawn

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Imran Khan’s fate hangs in balance amid persisting unease in civil military relations in Pakistan

Rana Banerji

November 24, 2021

The takeover by Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum as Director-General, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), took place eventually on 20 November, bringing to a close the unseemly spat that occurred between Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Prime Minister Imran Khan over the held-up 6 October chain of Lieutenant Generals’ transfers. Farewell calls of Lt Gen Faiz Hameed on the president, prime minister and foreign minister were unusually played up in the media before his departure to the XI Corps assignment in Peshawar. In sharp contrast, there was complete silence on Anjum’s advent.

All manner of speculation surfaced in the interregnum, about the rupture in civil-military relations and options for change being considered at either end. The name of Lt Gen Muhd Abdul Aziz, IV Corps commander, Lahore, senior-most among Lieutenant General, floated briefly for Army Chief, in case Imran took the drastic step of sacking Bajwa prematurely. This rumour did not gather much traction, no doubt because the collegiate group of senior Generals remained steadfast in support of the incumbent chief.

The accord with the Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP), Pakistan, to call off its agitation was worked out under the military establishment’s initiative, embarrassing the prime minister, who had talked tough about enforcing the writ of the State. TLP’s name has been taken off the terrorist parties’ list under schedules of the Anti-Terrorism Act and its leader, Saad Rizvi was released by courts just before the death anniversary of its founder, Khadim Rizvi.

The higher judiciary too flexed muscle, urging the prime minister to appear in the Supreme Court while petitions of aggrieved parents of the Army Public School, Peshawar, the calamity of December, 2014 were being heard. Angry judges asked why no FIRs were filed against those at the helm, including then army chief Gen Raheel Sharif and DG, ISI, Lt Gen Zaheer ul Islam. The prime minister’s appearance proved to be more of a distraction.

After two bills could not be passed in the National Assembly and a planned joint session of Parliament had to be deferred on 11 November, for lack of support from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s allies, Opposition parties appeared buoyant about the military establishment’s new-found impartiality in domestic politics. The Chaudhrys of Gujrat, Pervez Elahi and Shujaat Hussain, criticised the PTI for ill-treating their Pakistan Muslim League {Quaid-e- Azam} (PML-Q) workers in Punjab. Governor Mohd Sarwar joined the chorus of criticism.

The Opposition’s Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) announced a revised schedule of public rallies in Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar and Lahore, culminating in a ‘Long March’ to Islamabad, to protest against high inflation and continued mismanagement of the economy by the Imran Khan administration. Before tabling a possible vote of no confidence against the PTI government, they toyed with the idea of a ‘get Sanjrani’ operation, to remove the Senate Chairman first.

However, this optimism proved short-lived as the joint session was held on 17 November, comfortably passing 33 bills including controversial ones introducing electronic voting machines and empowering overseas Pakistanis to vote. Legislators ruefully acknowledged having ‘been brought’ to the joint session, familiarly receiving telephone calls from the ISI, urging them to attend. The Opposition is now left with the option of challenging the ‘illegal and unconstitutional bulldozing’ of these legislations in courts.

Predictably, this led to questions about a new ‘patch up’ deal to restore the ‘same page’ between the Army and its ‘hybrid’ protégé, through another extension to Gen Bajwa in November 2022. Under the amended Army Act, the Army Chief can continue till he is 64 years old. Though Bajwa would get two more years, such an extension would be very unpopular within the army, as 16 more Lieutenant Generals would retire before a new Chief comes in. Lt Gen Faiz Hameed remains the front-runner in this regard, after he completes one year at the Peshawar Corps command, especially if Imran Khan continues as prime minister till then. However, this closeness to the prime minister may rankle with senior Generals, who dislike excessive military kowtowing to civilians. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen if Lt Gen Anjum can emerge as his own man at ISI, distancing the institution from promoting only the ruling party’s interests.

Former Gilgit Baltistan judge Rana Shamim’s affidavit, signed curiously enough before a public notary in London, alleged that former Chief Justice Saqib Nisar had suggested harsher judgements against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter, Maryam. An audio clip to that effect was leaked, though its authenticity has been denied. Much to media consternation, Justice Minallah at the Islamabad High Court deemed this to be a contempt matter against journalists who raked up the issue.

Fiery speeches by lawyers at the Asma Jehangir conference in Lahore (20 November) berated the Army’s repeated interruptions of democracy in Pakistan, leading upset Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed to remonstrate that judicial independence remained unfettered. A speech by exiled former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was delivered virtually at its concluding session, despite abortive internet disruptions.

Pakistan’s economy continues to cause serious concern. Inflation has hit the common man badly as essential commodity prices remain high. The rupee continues to slide downwards against the dollar. An increase in electricity tariffs is imminent. Negotiations to release the IMF tranche have still not worked, with international donors insisting on a curb on borrowings and fresh measures to raise resources. A bill on the autonomy of the State Bank has been drafted reluctantly after IMF’s insistence. Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz)’s former finance minister, Miftah Ismail, criticised the State Bank’s latest decision to raise benchmark interest rates to 8.75 percent as ‘catastrophic’. None of the government’s managers seem to have cogent remedies for a bailout.

Source: Firstpost

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Pakistan govt, TTP deny release of prisoners

Omer Farooq Khan

Nov 24, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani security officials and the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have rejected reports that more than 100 prisoners of the terrorist group were freed amid peace talks between the two sides in Afghanistan.

Several media outlets had earlier reported that TTP prisoners were released as a goodwill gesture after the announcement of a ceasefire by the terrorist outfit.

“Media reports about the release of 100 TTP prisoners are not true. The TTP, however, fully honours the ceasefire agreement,” Muhammad Khorasani, the terrorist group’s spokesman, has been quoted by as saying.

“The negotiation teams have not yet sat on the table so reports about conditions and demands are premature,” Khorasani said, in response to earlier reports that the TTP had made several demands from Pakistan, including the release of prisoners.

Pakistani security officials also denied the release of any TTP prisoner. “I can confirm that no one has been freed so far,” said one of the officials familiar with the negotiation process.

Last month, Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan had claimed that his country was in talks with the terrorist organisation on the reconciliation process. Earlier this month, his information minister Fawad Chaudhry had confirmed that a ceasefire had been reached with the TTP, saying that talks were underway “in line with the constitution” and the ceasefire could be extended keeping in view the progress made in the talks. The same day, the TTP spokesman had also confirmed the temporary truce, adding that it would remain in place from November 9 till December 9.

Days after the truce announcement, Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf had said that no decision had been taken to grant amnesty to the TTP members, emphasising that the state was “very clear and sensitive” on the issue.

During his visit to Islamabad earlier this month, acting Afghan foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi had said that the Afghan Taliban were mediating between Pakistan and the TTP.

He added that the two sides had not yet reached an agreement, but the process had seen a “good” start, leading to the announcement of a month-long ceasefire.

Source: Times of India

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Pakistan rejects as ‘baseless' Indian stand of downing F-16 in February 2019

Nov 23, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday rejected as "baseless" the Indian stand that a Pakistani F-16 aircraft was shot down by an Indian pilot during an aerial combat in February 2019.

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman (now Group Captain) shot down the Pakistani F-16 jet during an aerial combat before his MiG 21 Bison aircraft was hit on February 27, 2019. He was captured by the Pakistani Army and later released on the night of March 1.

He was conferred with the Vir Chakra award by President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday for displaying an "exceptional sense of duty" in the dogfight. Vir Chakra is India's third-highest wartime gallantry award after Param Vir Chakra and Maha Vir Chakra.

"Pakistan categorically rejects the entirely baseless Indian claims that a Pakistani F-16 aircraft was shot down by an Indian pilot" in February 2019, the Foreign Office said in a statement.

"The international experts and US officials have already confirmed that no Pakistani F-16 was shot down on the day, after taking stock of Pakistani F-16 aircraft,” it claimed.

The pilot's release "was a testimony of Pakistan's desire for peace despite India's hostility and ill-conceived aggressive action," it added.

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

Source: Times of India

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North America


Use ‘all available leverage’ to release detained US employees by Houthis: Congressmen

23 November ,2021

Top US lawmakers said Tuesday that they were “alarmed” by the Houthis’ continued detention of US employees and the Iran-backed group’s storming of the US Embassy in Yemen in recent weeks.

“Above all, we call on the Houthis to immediately release all US and UN staff and end their harassment of US Embassy LES and breach of our diplomatic compound,” Congressmen Gregory Meeks and Michael McCaul said in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.'

The two Congressmen called on Blinken to exercise “all available leverage” to secure the release of the detained.

A response is needed to prevent such actions in the future, they said.

Last month, 30 Yemenis employed by the US were detained by the Houthis. They were released with the help of regional partners, the State Department has said.

But in Tuesday’s letter, Meeks and McCaul said Oman had played a “helpful role” in helping to release some US Embassy employees.

UN employees were detained in a separate incident, the State Department said. And more US employees continue to be held after also being detained.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US envoy Feltman sounds the alarm over Ethiopia, says no military solution to war

23 November ,2021

US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman said Tuesday that there was “massive” progress trying to get fighting sides in Ethiopia to a negotiating process, but he warned that there was no military solution.

“What concerns us is this fragile progress risks being outpaced by the alarming developments on the ground that threaten Ethiopia’s overall stability and unity,” Feltman told reporters in a phone call.

Feltman returned to Washington from Ethiopia on Monday.

“Unfortunately, each side is trying to achieve its goal by military force. And each side seems to believe this and it's on the cusp of winning. After more than a year of fighting and hundreds of thousands of casualties... it should be clear that there is no military solution,” he said.

Feltman echoed earlier calls from the State Department urging American citizens to leave Ethiopia as soon as possible.

Feltman also delivered a strongly worded warning to the Tigray fighters that they must halt their advance on Addis Ababa. If they don’t stop, they could face “unrelenting hostility,” he said.

But Feltman said he was encouraged by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s priority of pushing the Tigray fighters out of regions they were occupying. “We share that objective,” he said.

On the other hand, the Tigray fighters have been saying they want to break the “siege” on their home region, which has only received “something like 12 percent” of what is needed in humanitarian aid.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Arab World


Iraq starts campaign to hunt down Daesh/ISIS terrorists




The Iraqi army on Tuesday launched a nationwide military operation against the Daesh/ISIS terrorist group across the country.

A statement by the Defense Ministry's Joint Operations Command said the operation aims to hunt down Daesh/ISIS militants and destroy their hideouts across the country.

It said the offensive is supported by the Iraqi Air Force and the US-led international coalition against Daesh/ISIS.

In 2017, Iraq declared victory over Daesh/ISIS by reclaiming all territories the terrorist group controlled since the summer of 2014, which was estimated to be about a third of the country’s territory.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Former foreign minister accuses Egypt, Israel of supporting Sudan ‘coup’


Former Sudanese Foreign Minister Mariam al-Sadiq al-Mahdi has accused Egypt and Israel of supporting what she described as a “military coup” in Sudan.

Speaking at a virtual panel hosted by US think tank, the Atlantic Council, al-Mahdi said most countries have rejected the “coup” in Sudan.

"Even countries that wanted to support the coup, like Egypt for example, was not able to do so. It remained silent," she said.

She added that “Egypt, pushed by the strong US position during the US-Egypt Strategic Dialogue, was forced to condemn the coup."

On Oct.25, the head of Sudan’s ruling military council, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, declared a state of emergency and dissolved the transitional government, amid accusations between the military and politicians.

Following the military takeover, Egypt issued a statement calling on all Sudanese parties to exercise self-restraint and seek to achieve national consensus.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry also said that Egypt doesn't support any side in Sudan “and does not meddle in the affairs of others”. There was no comment from the Egyptian authorities on al-Mahdi’s accusation.

As for Israel, al-Mahdi said "the Sudanese government knew about Israel’s supporting position to the military coup although it was not at the forefront."

She cited that US special envoy to the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, had visited Israel for that purpose.

Officially, Israel didn't comment on the developments in Sudan, but the state-run Public Broadcasting Corporation said an Israeli delegation had met with al-Burhan in Khartoum and that Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the deputy head of Sudan’s ruling military council, had visited Israel ahead of the military takeover.

Commenting on a recent political deal signed between al-Burhan and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, al-Mahdi said the deal was a "setback that we can't be accepted".

She added that Hamdok didn't consult with his ministers before signing the agreement.

"Our position as the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition is that we oppose the deal and stick to the demands of the people," she said.

Al-Mahdi and 11 other ministers announced their resignation on Monday in protest of the political agreement signed between Hamdok and the military.

The 14-point agreement stipulates that a 2019 political declaration will be the basis for Sudan's democratic transition, and that elections will be held in 2023 as scheduled. It also provides for the prime minister to form a government of technocrats.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Two civilians killed, six soldiers injured in Israeli rocket attack on central Syria

24 November ,2021

Two civilians killed, and one civilian and six soldiers were injured due to an Israeli rocket attack on central Syria, state news agency SANA reported on Wednesday.

SANA cited a military source as saying: “Israel carried out an air attack with bursts of missiles from the northeastern direction of Beirut, targeting some areas in the central region.”

“Our defenses intercepted the aerial attack and destroyed most of them. The attack led to the death of two civilians, a civilian was severely injured and six soldiers were injured, and there was material damage.”

Israel's military did not immediately comment on the latest strike.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Lebanon’s interior minister: Crisis with Gulf could worsen

23 November ,2021

Lebanon’s interior minister said Tuesday that every delay in resolving the diplomatic crisis with Gulf nations threatens to affect the lives of more Lebanese already reeling from a massive economic crisis.

Bassam Mawlawi said resolving the crisis begins with the resignation of the Cabinet minister whose comments sparked the ire of Saudi Arabia, calling it long overdue.

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Saudi Arabia, a traditional ally of Lebanon, withdrew its ambassador and asked the Lebanese envoy to leave last month following televised comments by George Kordahi, Lebanon’s information minister. Kordahi said the war in Yemen was futile and called it an aggression by the Arab Coalition.

Yemen’s war began with the 2014 takeover of Sanaa by the Houthi rebels, who control much of the country’s north. The Arab Coalition entered the war the following year determined to restore the internationally recognized government and oust the rebels.

Kordahi recorded the comments weeks before he was named minister and has refused to apologize or step down despite appeals from many, including the prime minister. Lebanese officials have said his remarks do not represent official government views.

“This is taking a long time. It should not take more than a month to be resolved,” Mawlawi told The Associated Press. “He should have resigned before. He should have resigned immediately. ... Every delay causes more grave damage to the Lebanese, whether those in Lebanon or in the Gulf.”

Bahrain, The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait followed Saudi Arabia and also recalled their ambassadors.

The Saudis have also banned Lebanese imports, affecting hundreds of businesses and cutting off hundreds of millions in foreign currency to Lebanon, which is already facing a major economic meltdown.

Mawlawi warned the Saudi import ban could be expanded to curtail all trade with the Gulf nations, which could also undermine the employment or residency of Lebanese living in the oil-rich nations. The livelihoods of over 350,000 Lebanese living in the Gulf nations are at risk.

“We should not wait until the noose is tightened around all the Lebanese people’s necks so that we take measures that we could have taken earlier and that could have been easier,” he said. “I think the delay makes the crisis more complicated.”

Mawlawi said Kordahi is not resigning because he needs the approval of his political backers, including the powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah, which has criticized the Saudi pressure.

The standoff has paralyzed the government, which has been unable to convene for weeks.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati can’t dismiss Kordahi without the approval of two-thirds of the Cabinet. Mawlawi called on Mikati to do so if he can secure the votes.

“The government must take initiative. I don’t think the government should wait for any initiative or steps from the Gulf countries,” he said.

Mawlawi acknowledged the crisis with Gulf nations precedes Kordahi’s comments.

Saudi Arabia took the first punitive measures against Lebanon last spring after it announced it had seized over 5 million pills of the amphetamine drug Captagon hidden in a shipment of pomegranates coming from Lebanon. Then, it banned the import or transit of Lebanese produce through its territories. Two suspected smugglers were arrested in May.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Generation of children ‘at stake’ in Lebanon crisis: UNICEF

23 November ,2021

The UN children’s agency Tuesday called on Lebanon to take urgent action to protect children after it documented a spike in child labor rates and food insecurity since April.

“Urgent action is needed to ensure no child goes hungry, becomes sick, or has to work rather than receive an education,” said Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF representative in Lebanon.

“The staggering magnitude of the crisis must be a wake-up call,” she said, quoted in a statement.

Lebanon is grappling with its worst-ever financial crisis, with nearly 80 percent of the population estimated to be living below the poverty line.

UNICEF in October followed up with the more than 800 families it had surveyed in April and found that since then living conditions had deteriorated dramatically.

“The future of an entire generation of children is at stake,” it said in its latest report titled “Surviving without the basics.”

The survey found 53 percent of families had at least one child who skipped a meal in October 2021, compared with 37 percent in April.

“The proportion of families... who sent children to work rose to 12 percent, from nine percent,” UNICEF added.

It said almost 34 percent of children who required primary health care in October did not receive it, up from 28 percent in April.

“Life is very hard; it is becoming harder every day,” Hanan, a 29-year-old mother, was quoted as saying by UNICEF.

“Today I sent my four children to school without food.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Arab coalition strikes sites in Yemen capital Sanaa

23 November ,2021

The Arab military alliance in Yemen said on Tuesday it had destroyed a ballistic missile launch site in overnight air strikes in the Iran-backed Houthi militia-controlled capital Sanaa, where residents reported big explosions.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

In a statement reported by the Saudi state news agency (SPA) on Twitter, the coalition said air strikes had been conducted against “legitimate military targets” in Sanaa.

It described the ballistic missile sites as “secret”, and said one of “high-value” had been destroyed.

The coalition said it had taken measures to spare civilians any collateral damage, adding that “the secret positions” had used hospitals, organizations and civilians as human shields.

The coalition asked civilians not to gather around or approach the positions that had been attacked.

Residents told Reuters the explosions had rocked the northern neighborhoods of the city, and said two military sites had been attacked.

The Houthis have repeatedly launched cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia using drones and missiles since the Arab coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the movement ousted the internationally-recognized government from the capital.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israel Defence Chief Jets to Morocco To Cement Security Ties After Abraham Accords

23 November ,2021

Israel’s defense minister headed to Morocco on Tuesday for an official visit to cement security ties just ahead of the first anniversary of their agreement to establish full diplomatic relations.

Benny Gantz will be making the first official visit by an Israeli defense minister to one of the four Arab states that agreed to normalize ties with Israel last year. Earlier this year, Israel's foreign minister inaugurated an Israeli diplomatic office in Rabat.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the flight, Gantz said he was departing for a “historic meeting.”

“We will sign cooperation agreements. We will continue to strengthen the connections. It is very important that this be a successful trip,” he said.

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During the visit, Gantz is slated to meet his Moroccan counterpart and sign an agreement that would lay the foundations for “formalizing defense relations between the countries,” an Israeli official said. The official was not authorized to talk to the press ahead of the trip and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan signed agreements to normalize relations with Israel in 2020 as part of the diplomatic pacts brokered by the Trump administration known as the Abraham Accords.

The UAE and Bahrain had long maintained clandestine security cooperation with Israel, due to their shared enmity of regional rival Iran.

Those countries will all be closely watching next week's resumption of talks between Iran and global powers over renewing an international nuclear pact.

The previous agreement, which eased painful economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs on the country's nuclear program, collapsed three years ago after the Trump administration withdrew from the deal.

Since then, Iran has accelerated its enrichment of uranium — a key step toward producing a nuclear bomb. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, while Israel says it will take whatever steps it deems necessary to prevent Iran from gaining the ability to make a bomb.

Earlier on Tuesday, Gantz said at a security conference that the world powers “must add a ‘Plan B’ to the diplomatic option” concerning Iran’s nuclear program.

“There is no doubt that a diplomatic solution is preferable, but alongside it, the use of force should be on the table — since it is the continuation of diplomacy by other means,” the defense minister said.

Israel and Morocco enjoyed low-level diplomatic relations in the 1990s, but Morocco severed them after a Palestinian uprising erupted in 2000. Despite that, the two states have maintained informal relations. Nearly half a million Israelis claim Moroccan heritage — more than 200,000 immigrated to Israel after the founding of the state in 1948 — and thousands visit the country each year.

Morocco is still home to a small Jewish community, and Rabat has one remaining synagogue.

In exchange for Morocco normalizing relations with Israel, the Trump administration promised in December 2020 to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, a disputed north African territory. The announcement upset decades of US policy and international consensus that Western Sahara’s status should be settled by a UN referendum.

Since then, the Biden administration has cautiously walked back that recognition. After a meeting between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Moroccan Foreign minister Nasser Bourita in Washington this week, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Blinken views a Moroccan autonomy plan for the region as "serious, credible, and realistic, and one potential approach to satisfy the aspirations of the people of Western Sahara.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran Executes, Arman Abdolali, Teen Offender despite Pleas from Rights Groups

24 November, 2021

Iran on Wednesday executed Arman Abdolali, a man who was convicted of murder at the age of 17, despite appeals from rights groups to spare his life.

Abdolali, 25, was executed early Wednesday after the family of Ghazaleh Shakour, whom he was found guilty of murdering when he was a minor, refused to forgive him, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported. Shakour was reportedly Abdolali’s girlfriend.

Abdolali was tried and sentenced to death in 2016. He was 17 at the time.

Abdolali had said that his confessions were obtained under torture, according to Amnesty International.

Abdolali’s trial “was marred by serious violations, including the use of torture-tainted ‘confessions,’” Amnesty said in a statement last month.

His execution had previously been postponed due to international pressure, according to the London-based rights group.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Turkey seeks Saudi court order in Khashoggi murder case

Basak Akbulut Yazar and Murat Kaya  



As the case of the 2018 murder in Istanbul of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi continues, a Turkish court on Tuesday sought the Saudi verdict about the fugitive defendants, if any.

During the hearing at the High Criminal Court no: 11 in Istanbul, the panel of judges decided to ask Saudi authorities if there is any investigation or trial about the fugitives in the Khashoggi case and for a copy of the final verdict to prevent multiple penalty.

The process will be carried via the Foreign Relations Department of the Turkish Justice Ministry.

The court, in line with the prosecutor’s demand, ordered the execution of the arrest warrants and red notices for the defendants to be put on hold, and the replies to the rogatory letter regarding their extradition to be awaited.

It also ruled that a response to the letter sent to the Interpol department of the Turkish police regarding the supply of the defendants’ criminal records and identity registrar copies to be waited for acquiring.

The 26 defendants of the case were not present at the hearing, while Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz, her lawyer Ali Ceylan, and an officer from Germany’s Consulate General in Istanbul attended it.

Both Ceylan and the defendants’ lawyers asked the court to correct the deficiencies in the case file.

Khashoggi murder case

Khashoggi, 59, a columnist for The Washington Post, was killed and dismembered by a group of Saudi operatives shortly after he entered the country's consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018.

Riyadh offered conflicting narratives to explain his disappearance before acknowledging he was murdered in the diplomatic building in a "rogue operation".

On Sept. 27, 2020, Turkish prosecutors filed a second indictment against six Saudi suspects over Khashoggi's killing in Turkey.

The 41-page indictment prepared against six fugitive suspects – including two consulate staff members – was approved by the chief prosecutor's office in Istanbul and referred to the High Criminal Court no: 11, where the main case of the defendants was heard.

The indictment against the two members of consular staff – Sultan Yahya A. and Yasir Halit M. – demands separate aggravated life sentences over “deliberate killing with a monstrous feeling”.

The prosecutors seek between six months to five years in prison for four suspects – Ahmet Abdulaziz M., Khalid Yahya M., Mohammed Ibrahim A., and Obaid Ghazi A.

According to the indictment, the two consular staff members were in the team that carried out the murder and left Turkey after the killing while the other four suspects are accused of leaving Turkey after tampering with evidence by going to the crime scene immediately after the murder.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Remains of first Islamic madrassa found in Turkey’s Harran

NOV 23, 2021

The ruins of a madrassa (Islamic institution of higher education) belonging to the 12th century have been unearthed in the archaeological site of Harran, located in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa.

Excavation work has been continuing for eight years in Harran, which is one of the world's oldest settlements on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List. Mehmet Önal, head of the Archeology Department at Harran University and leading the excavations in the Harran settlement, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that Harran is frequently mentioned in history books as it is one of the oldest settlements in the world.

Noting that the mysteries of the settlement are revealed day by day with their archaeological dig, Önal said that they found important remains such as a street, a monumental gate and a madrassa during the excavations this year.

Stating that they encountered a university structure in the settlement for the first time in this year's studies, Önal said: “We have determined with archaeological evidence that the madrassa belongs to the Zengid era. Previously, it was known that Harran had five madrassas. This was the first time we came across one of the known madrassas of this region.”

He said they have determined the structure had 24 rooms above ground and have now completely unearthed the monumental door of the madrassa along with its five rooms, and the portico partially, adding that there is also a kitchen next to those rooms with large stoves and a brick and clay oven.

“Another feature of the kitchen is there are many bones of sheep and goats inside the hearths and ovens. This shows us that food was prepared here and people here left the city in a rush, leaving the food on the stove without being eaten, after being thoroughly convinced that the Mongols would take over the city,” he explained.

Önal said that they determined the madrassa belongs to the 12th century and that they will learn more after excavations in the region are completed.

World’s first university

Cihat Koç, a district governor in Harran, said the history of education in Harran dates back to 3000 B.C., and that studies were carried out in the fields of astronomy, mathematics, philosophy and theology.

Harran is a place that pioneered science and scientific education, Koç said, adding that, "With our work this year, we have unearthed the first of the five big madrassas, five big university campuses.”

“The world's first university is at Harran. We are working seriously to uncover all the ruins of this university,” he underlined.

Harran, a onetime Assyrian and Umayyad capital located 44 kilometers (27 miles) southeast of the city of Şanlıurfa near the Syrian border, was an important Mesopotamian trade center on a road running south to Nineveh in modern Iraq, and has been continuously inhabited since 6000 B.C.

Source: Daily Sabah

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Israel police says Hezbollah smuggling weapons to Arab Israelis

24 November ,2021

The Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah is trying to smuggle weapons into Israel to be used by Arab Israelis in future clashes, Israel’s police said on Tuesday.

Israel’s police noticed a “significant increase” in attempts to smuggle weapons into the country by Hezbollah through the Lebanese and Jordanian borders since May, The Times of Israel reported.

Israeli police added that the quality of smuggled weapons has increased sharply, and the number of attempts has risen, presenting what they describe as a “strategic threat”.

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The police said the weapons are meant to reach “crime organizations in the Arab community” with the purpose of being used in “terror attacks” should there be a “surge in violence between Jews and Arabs”.

Since the beginning of 2021, Israel’s northern district police have seized 140 pistols and 20 assault rifles, but the officers estimate that many more weapons were successfully smuggled into the country.

Israel describes Hezbollah as the biggest threat on its borders.

Hezbollah was founded by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in 1982 to fight Israeli forces that invaded Lebanon that year.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Top Negotiator: Iran Wants US Commitment to All Undertakings


“The US and the EU must show that they have the political will to implement what they agreed to do in 2015. They must overcome domestic considerations to resolve this,” Baqeri Kani said in an interview with Al-Jazeera network on Monday.

He added that the onus is on the US to prove its compliance with the deal as it was the only party who ditched the accord in a unilateral manner.

“It is widely believed that the United States, by withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), breached the deal blatantly and violated UNSC Resolution 2231 flagrantly,” Baqeri Kani said.

He made it clear that Iran has overcome Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign and will be sitting at the negotiating table on November 29 with “full preparedness, capacity, and total commitment to the JCPOA.”

“That’s why the Americans, while resorting to deception, try to exploit the political and media environment in their own favor. But it is not to their advantage. They should accept reality and abide by all their commitments,” the lead Iranian diplomat noted.

According to Baqeri Kani, Iran continues its nuclear activities legitimately within the framework stipulated in paragraphs 26 and 36 of the JCPOA, which give Iran the right to reciprocate the noncompliance of the other side through legally reducing its own commitments under the accord.

Rejecting calls on Tehran to reverse its nuclear advancements, Baqeri Kani said, “Until the violating and noncompliant party to the deal does not demonstrate, in practice, its commitment to the JCPOA, there is no reason for Iran to abandon its rights and entitlements guaranteed by the deal.”

“Everything is clear and there is nothing ambiguous about the nuclear deal to negotiate,” he added.

In another part of his remarks, Baqeri Kani called on the European parties to the JCPOA – namely France, Britain, and Germany – to demonstrate their abidance by the nuclear deal in action, instead of paying lip service to it, and to put an end to the noncompliance of the United States and its bankrupt policy of maximum pressure.

Asked whether Iran would discuss its missile program or regional influence after presumably successful conclusion of the Vienna talks, he stressed that only the countries of the region are entitled to make decisions about the issues of the region.

“Any interference from outside the region will bring no benefit for any party,” said the senior diplomat, pointing to the catastrophic ramifications of US-led interventions in the region. “It’s their presence and interference that impedes constructive dialogue.”

"The experience of foreign intervention from outside the region in Iraq and Afghanistan indicates that murder, genocide, the destruction of infrastructure, the spread of terrorism as well as narcotics cultivation and trafficking have been the main outcome of intervention and manipulation by foreign powers during the past two decades," the Iranian diplomat noted.

Baqeri Kani also signaled that the Islamic Republic is ready to keep weathering US sanctions if the Vienna talks do not fulfill its expectations.

“Reliance on domestic capabilities and capacity has been a key to success for Iran over the past four decades,” he said.

“Experience has shown that self-reliance would prove more productive and fruitful than anything else in the sophisticated process of political, economic, and even security and military developments. We have gone a long way and we are a patient people,” Baqeri Kani added.

The revival of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has been on the agenda of high-profile negotiations between Iran and the remaining signatories, known as the G4+1 group (Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany), in the Austrian capital since April.

Source: Fars News Agency

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AEOI Head: Iran Determined to Develop N. Program


The important point between us and the Agency is that issues between the two sides are technical and (the assurance) that the Agency does not pay attention to the political issues and the enemies' plots to influence the path of progress of Iran’s nuclear program and is not influenced by them,” Eslami told reporters in a joint press conference with Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi in Tehran on Tuesday.

“Mr. Grossi said several times today that they have witnessed no deviation in Iran’s nuclear programs and Iran continues its nuclear activities based on treaties and regulations,” he added.

Asked about the allegations raised by enemies against Iran’s nuclear program in the IAEA, Eslami said that they have been answered by Iran in the nuclear deal and that the case has been closed.

“We agreed today to end these issues and with the procedure that we will adopt, which is still being negotiated, talks on them will not continue,” he added.

“Iran is resolved in (developing) its nuclear program,” Eslami said, adding that the country wants to use different aspects of nuclear technology for a better living of the Iranian people and the IAEA will help Iran in this regard.

Grossi arrived in Tehran for meetings with top Iranian officials, days before the resumption of high-profile talks in Vienna on the removal of the United States’ sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Political deal based on sparing of Sudanese blood: PM Hamdok tells Al Arabiya

23 November ,2021

The sparing of Sudanese blood and the preservation of gains made in the recent past are the bases of the political agreement reached with the military, Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok told Al Arabiya during a sit-down interview.

“The political agreement was made based on sparing the blood of the Sudanese and preserving the gains made. There is no alternative to dialogue in Sudan and we are working towards reaching the elections,” Hamdok told Al Arabiya on Tuesday.

“The elections will open the way for the consolidation of democracy in Sudan,” he added.

The Sudanese military reached a deal with Hamdok on Sunday that reinstated him as the head of a new technocratic Cabinet ahead of eventual elections. But the agreement has angered Sudan’s pro-democracy movement, which accuses Hamdok of allowing himself to serve as a fig leaf for continued military rule.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Moroccan delegation visits Israel amid normalization

Ibrahim Mukhtar  


A delegation of Moroccan media professionals and civil society representatives is visiting Israel upon an invitation from the Israeli Foreign Ministry, according to Israeli media on Tuesday.

The official Israeli Broadcasting Corporation reported that the Moroccan delegation arrived in Israel on Sunday for a six-day visit.

On Nov. 14, Israeli Ambassador to Morocco, David Govrin, said in a Twitter post that he received an eight-member Moroccan delegation ahead of their visit to Israel.

"At the invitation of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a delegation of Moroccan journalists and civil society representatives will visit Israel in the coming days," Govrin said.

He added that the aim of the visit was “to strengthen and consolidate cultural, media and social cooperation between the two countries”.

Moroccan authorities have not yet commented on the visit.

On Dec. 10, 2020, Israel and Morocco announced the resumption of diplomatic relations between them after they were suspended in 2002 following the second Palestinian intifada, making Morocco the fourth Arab country to normalize relations with Israel in 2020 after the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Sudan.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Sudan's PM Hamdok: Investigation launched into violations against protesters

24 November ,2021

An investigation has been launched into violations committed against protesters since the military power grab on Oct. 25, Sudan's newly reinstated Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said, according to a statement from his office.

Hamdok's comments came during a meeting on Tuesday evening with a group from the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), the main civilian coalition opposing military rule. FFC had previously said on Sunday that it does not recognize any political agreement with the military leadership.

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The group stressed during the meeting the importance of laying out a roadmap to implementing the political agreement, reversing all political appointments that took place after the military takeover and reinstating all those who were fired during that period, according to the statement.

Last week, protesters and a Reuters witness said they saw security forces chase protesters into neighborhoods and homes to carry out arrests. At least 15 people were shot dead during the anti-coup protests, according to medics.

Hamdok and the group called for political prisoners to be released as soon as possible and for the right to peacefully protest to be respected.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Sudan’s PM Hamdok says he expects new government to be formed within two weeks

23 November ,2021

Sudan's newly reinstated Prime Minister Abadalla Hamdok told Al Arabiya on Tuesday that he expects a new government to be formed within two weeks.

“I will make every effort to accomplish [forming a new government] within a time period of no more than two weeks,” he said in an interview with Al Arabiya.

Hamdok signed on Sunday a deal with General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan that saw the PM reinstated and allowed him to form an independent cabinet of technocrats, until an election can be held.

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This comes almost a month after Burhan led a military coup in late October.

Hamdok added that he asked the military to end the violence against protesters. Sudanese medics reported that security forces killed at least 40 civilians in violent crackdowns.

“One of the first issues discussed… is a halt to using violence against protesters. It is a demand I will not cede at all,” Hamdok said.

After the deal that saw Hamdok reinstated was signed, at least five political prisoners were released.

Source: Al Arabiya

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UN envoy for Libya resigns weeks before key presidential elections: Diplomats

23 November ,2021

The UN special envoy for Libya, Jan Kubis of Slovakia, has quit less than a year after taking on the role, diplomatic sources at the United Nations said Tuesday.

“Kubis has resigned,” a diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity, with several other diplomatic sources confirming the surprise development.

No official reason was given for the resignation, which comes one month before key presidential elections are to be held in Libya.

One diplomatic source suggested he may “feel he doesn’t have enough support.”

The UN Security Council recently split over whether to reconfigure the leadership of the global body’s political mission in Libya, with several members calling for the envoy’s post to be transferred from Geneva to Tripoli.

Diplomats said Kubis had been reluctant to undertake such a move.

The UN communications service had yet to issue a statement on the 69-year-old’s departure.

A former UN envoy for Lebanon, Kubis took up the Libya envoy post in January.

His sudden exit comes a day after the close of presidential nominations for Libya’s closely-watched elections slated for December 24.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Economic recession spurs gender violence in South Sudan

Benjamin Takpiny  


JUBA, South Sudan

Even as the civil war has ended in South Sudan, violence against women continues unabated – now fueled by economic hardship, driven by a decline in oil and non-oil revenues and COVID-19 shocks.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency on the eve of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on Thursday, Ayak Garang, 30, a mother of seven, said that situation has worsened because men are frustrated due to lack of work and they start beating women without any reason.

“The economic crises have contributed a lot to violence against women in the country, now you can find the issues related to early marriage or forced marriage which affect young girls leading to school dropout is because the parents are marrying off their daughters to get resources,” she said.

According to UNICEF, the incidents of gender-based violence (GBV) are one of the most critical threats to women and children in South Sudan.

“The GBV was already rife before the conflict, and is now nearing epidemic proportions,” said the UNICEF South Sudan GBV Briefing note released in 2019.

Mary Deng, 36, has urged the government to frame laws to curb gender violence, which has attained serious proportions in the country.

“I am now staying alone due to the domestic violence. I decided to struggle on my own because staying in a violent place is so bad. After isolating myself, nobody seems to care about my whereabouts and that is the clear sign that the problem is not considered as a serious matter,” she told Anadolu Agency.

A 35-year-old rape victim also urged the government to bring strong laws to combat gender violence.

Joseph Loro, a senior official in the Gender, Child and Social Welfare Ministry, said illiteracy and lack of opportunities are some of the major causes leading to violence against women.

“In every situation, women are the ones on the frontline. If you go on the streets of Juba, they are the ones selling bananas and other small things,” said Loro, adding that if they are supported to improve their livelihoods, then household violence against women will also stop.

Earlier, in its initial report on South Sudan, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women also pleaded for drafting progressive legislation for women.

Aya Benjamin Warille, minister of gender, child, and social welfare, said South Sudan has taken measures to end sexual and gender-based violence by establishing a specialized court within the judiciary to try crimes against women and girls.

She said that South Sudan faced numerous challenges related to the conflict and continues to appeal to the international community for support in promoting and protecting the rights of women and girls.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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US supports peace and stability in Sudan: Blinken

Ibrahim Mukhtar  


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday reiterated his country's support for Sudan to achieve peace and stability.

Blinken’s remarks came during a phone call with the head of Sudan’s ruling military council, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, according to a statement by the council.

The statement said Blinken congratulated al-Burhan on the signing of a political agreement with Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, which ended weeks-long crisis that threatened to undermine Sudan’s political transition.

It quoted Blinken as reiterating "the United States' support for everything that would achieve peace and stability in Sudan, and build advanced and effective relations based on mutual and common interests between the two countries."

Earlier Tuesday, Blinken said on his Twitter account that he called both Hamdok and al-Burhan to express his endorsement “for initial steps to restore Sudan’s democratic transition,” while also noting that he “underscored the work that remains to rebuild confidence with the Sudanese people.”

“I made clear that the US is watching,” Blinken said.

Hamdok was reinstated on Sunday after signing a political agreement with the military. He was placed under house arrest in late October after the Sudanese military dismissed his transitional government.

The 14-point political agreement stipulates that a 2019 political declaration will be the basis for Sudan's democratic transition, and that elections will be held in 2023 as scheduled. It also provides for the prime minister to form a government of technocrats.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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EU commissioner faces French rebuke for meeting Muslim Brotherhood-linked group

Nicky Harley

Nov 23, 2021

French minister Marlene Schiappa has criticised Malta’s EU commissioner for meeting a youth group with Muslim Brotherhood links, which she claims is "attacking France" and "infiltrating our very institutions".

Helena Dalli, Commissioner for Equality, tweeted about a meeting with the Forum Of European Muslim Youth And Student Organisations (Femyso) last Wednesday.

The daughter of Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood leader Rachid Ghannouchi, Intissar Kherigi, has held the presidency of Femyso, the youth arm of the Council of European Muslims, formerly the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe, and believed to be the Muslim Brotherhood's European branch.

A Femyso campaign this month on hijabs was pulled by the European Commission after a backlash from France, which was the first European country to ban the full-face veil in public places.

Ms Dalli said she met the group to discuss issues of discrimination.

"I had a discussion with @FEMYSO on the situation of young Muslims in Europe and the challenges experienced as a result of stereotyping, discrimination and outright hatred," she tweeted.

"We must challenge all forms of discrimination affecting Europeans."

Ms Schiappa said she would be referring the meeting to the European Commission.

“We’re referring [the matter] to the Commission … in order to fight against these Islamist associations that are attacking France and are infiltrating our very institutions,” she told Europe 1.

A representative for Ms Dalli said the meeting took place after it was requested by Femyso.

“The commissioner spoke about the European Commission’s commitment to address racism as indicated in the anti-racism strategy, including its impacts on Muslims,” the representative told Politico.

French Secretary of State for Europe, Clement Beaune, said the meeting was “absurd” and retweeted a comment accusing Femyso of being a "puppet" of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Femyso denies any ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

A report last month written by analysts for Austria's Documentation Centre for Political Islam concluded that the Muslim Brotherhood had established vast influence in Europe and public bodies were unwittingly funding its activities. "Leadership positions within FEMYSO are generally occupied by children of some of the most senior leaders of the European Brotherhood milieu," it said.

Source: The National News

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Manchester bomber witness rejects claims of extremism at mosque

Nicky Harley

Nov 23, 2021

The chairman of trustees at the mosque attended by the Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi has denied that the place of worship has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood or issues with extremism.

The Manchester Arena Inquiry heard that Abedi had aroused suspicion at Manchester Islamic Centre, also known as Didsbury Mosque.

Abedi killed 22 people and injured more than 1,000 when he blew himself up at the end of an Ariana Grande concert in May 2017.

Mohammed El-Saeiti, a former prayer leader at the centre, has said Abedi attended some of his sermons and once gave him "hateful looks" after he gave an anti-ISIS sermon in 2014.

But Fawzi Haffar, chairman of the trustees at Manchester Islamic Centre, said he was not aware of any extremism existing at the mosque before the bombing.

"We never thought that there might be anyone who might have any radical thoughts," he told the inquiry on Tuesday. "We knew for sure there was nobody there who would be teaching any radicalism. As far as I am concerned, there was no radicalisation."

Mr Haffar denied the mosque had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and said he had never seen Abedi at the building.

"We are very clear, we are a mainstream mosque," he said. "We do not allow groups to come and hijack the mosque."

Paul Greaney QC, counsel for the inquiry, put to Mr Haffar that the day after the bombing he was told Abedi had attended the mosque repeatedly until 2016.

"I have never known the father, the mother or the Abedi children," he said.

Mr Greaney then suggested that Abedi's father, Ramadan, and his older brother, Ismail, had volunteered at the mosque between 2014 to 2017, his mother worked there as a teacher, and asked Mr Haffar how, over his four decades at the mosque, he had "never heard" of the family.

"I have never known Ramadan or seen him or Ismail," he replied.

The inquiry was told the Charity Commission visited the mosque almost a year after the bombing, examined if it was safeguarding youngsters against radicalisation and issued it with an action plan.

Mr Haffar said the mosque took the recommendations "seriously" and himself and the other trustees attended courses on how to identify extremism.

When asked why they had not done so before the watchdog's intervention, Mr Haffar told the inquiry there had been "no problems" previously.

"We thought everything was under control," he said.

"There were no incidents or problems. We did not sense anything wrong at the time.

"We were doing our best, we vetted imams. We made sure radicalisation had no place in our mosque."

He denied that the mosque provided a meeting space for extremist groups between 2014 to 2017, despite another member claiming this had happened.

It was put to him that Mustafa Graf, a Libyan who was previously locked up in his homeland for fighting, had held group meetings at the mosque for his compatriots.

The inquiry heard three convicted terrorists, Mohammed Abdallah, Abdalraouf Abdallah and ISIS poster boy and recruiter, Raphael Hostey, had attended the mosque.

Source: The National News

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Uzbek Authorities Detain Alleged Members Of Banned Islamic Group

November 23, 2021

TASHKENT -- Uzbekistan's State Security Service (DXX) and its Interior Ministry have detained a group of alleged members of a banned Islamic group in the Tashkent region.

In a joint statement on November 23, the DXX and the ministry said those detained are suspected of being members of Katiba al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, a group that was labeled as terrorist and banned in the Central Asian nation in 2016. It did not reveal the exact number of detainees or their identities.

According to the statement, the individuals were allegedly involved in propagating the teaching of the banned group by distributing video and audio materials. They are also accused of raising money for the group and recruiting Uzbek nationals for the group's illegal armed units in Syria.

Source: RFERL

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UN appeal for Afghanistan aid meets $600 mln target

23 November ,2021

The United Nations said Tuesday that its flash appeal for more than $600 million to support the humanitarian response in Afghanistan until the end of the year was now fully funded.

According to the UN, Afghanistan is on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe, with more than half of its population at risk of not having enough to eat during the coming winter.

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Following the Taliban takeover of the country in August, the UN held a ministerial meeting in Geneva in September, asking international donors for urgent support.

“We can now report that the flash appeal is 100 percent funded,” Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the UN humanitarian agency OCHA, told reporters in Geneva.

The main donors were the United States, European countries and Japan, who helped reached the total funding goal of $606 million (539 million euros).

The funds are directed towards helping the 11 million most deprived people in Afghanistan.

Laerke said that between September 1 and November 15, the UN and its non-governmental organization partners provided food assistance to 7.2 million people. They also provided healthcare to nearly 900,000 people.

Nearly 200,000 drought-affected people have been assisted with water trucking and 178,000 children under the age of five have been treated for acute malnutrition, he added.

“However, not all funding has been translated into action because of the crisis in Afghanistan’s banking and financial system. And half of the population still need emergency aid,” he said.

Laerke added that access had recently improved and the humanitarian effort now had access to all areas in Afghanistan.

Source: Al Arabiya

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EU condemns Houthi breach into ex-US Embassy in Yemen

Agnes Szucs  



The EU on Tuesday condemned a breach of the former US Embassy in the Yemeni capital by Houthi rebels, calling on the militia to immediately release detained US and UN staff.

In a statement released by the office of EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, the EU condemned the intrusion into the building complex previously used as the US Embassy in Sanaa.

The bloc also denounced the continued detention of Yemenis who worked for the US and UN, as well as the "threats and harassment targeting current and former staff of diplomatic and international missions in the country."

It called on the militia "to leave the compound, stop arrests and detentions and release all detained immediately."

Referring to a similar declaration of the UN Security Council, the EU statement also pointed out that international law prohibits intrusion into diplomatic property.

The US State Department announced on Nov. 14. that Iran-backed Houthi fighters breached the walls of the former US Embassy compound and detained Yemeni security staff of the US government.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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'Racist, discriminatory': Turkish Cypriots call on UK councillor to resign over flag hoisting issue

Hasan Esen  



Turkish Cypriots in the UK have called for a councilor to resign for removing the national flag of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) during an anniversary event, and issuing a "racist statement" against the community.

The Turkish Cypriots living in London Borough of Waltham Forest, 17 miles northeast of London, said they were granted permission to raise their flag outside the town hall to commemorate the 38th anniversary of the establishment of the TRNC on Nov. 15.

But a few hours after the TRNC flag had been raised, council leader Grace Williams decided to "single out Turkish Cypriots by banning the display of their national flag.”

Munevver Borova, a member of Turkish Cypriot community in the UK, told Anadolu Agency that the flag was raised on the pole outside the town hall during the commemoration ceremony.

She said the event began at 10.30 a.m., but officials arrived at about 1 p.m., lowered the flag, dragged it to the ground and tossed it in trash. "I requested for the flag, but it was not given to me. What they did, I said, was disrespectful," she added.

Borova said she did not leave the municipality until the evening since she is wheelchair-bound, and asked for the flag to be handed over to her, but to no avail. "This was racism and discrimination, and violation of international law," she said.

Later, Williams in a statement apologized to the Greek Cypriots, saying: “Waltham Forest Council apologizes for the offense caused by the hoisting of the flag of Northern Cyprus.” She justified the removal of the flag with Britain’s refusal to recognize the TRNC.

Turkish Cypriots, on the other hand, have started a campaign, calling for her resignation.

According to the petition on, "Cllr Williams had essentially caved into complaints by a small group of anti-Turkish racists – virtually all from outside of our borough."

It said that due to her intervention, the council removed the TRNC flag "a few hours after it was hoisted instead of allowing it to fly from ‘dawn to dusk’."

The petition, however, claimed that the Waltham Forest Council has for years allowed a similar flag-raising ceremony for Tibet, which is also not recognized by the UK. "It is unacceptable to discriminate in this way," it said.

It argued that the apology to Greek Cypriots "places the feelings of Greek Cypriots above those of Turkish Cypriots, while simultaneously vilifying an entire ethnic community."

"Such vulgar racist, Islamophobic sentiments are unbecoming of any person in public office and Cllr Williams’ position is now untenable," it said. "We call on Cllr Williams to resign immediately and if not, for her fellow councillors to remove her from her post."

The community also demanded the council to issue an apology "to the thousands of residents in the borough of Turkish Cypriot origin."

- Cyprus dispute

Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long dispute between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN to achieve a comprehensive settlement.

Ethnic attacks starting in early 1960s forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Southeast Asia


Teach Kedah MB, PAS leaders to respect non-Muslims, women, DAP MP urges Unity Ministry

23 Nov 2021


KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 ― DAP MP RSN Rayer today exhorted the Unity Ministry to “educate” PAS leaders, especially its Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor, to the sensitivities of non-Muslims in the country.

Speaking in the Dewan Rakyat, Rayer reminded Sanusi that Kedah is a multiracial state just like the rest of the country and that his recent actions showed a lack of empathy towards non-Muslims and non-Malays.

He said this went against the “Keluarga Malaysia” concept that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob was touting.

“Today in this House, we got a huge bag full of shirts and caps and items to promote the prime minister from Bera’s ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ concept. Sadly this is not enough to build unity.

“We need to educate the leaders, especially the ones from PAS, to be more sensitive towards other races. I also urge the Unity Ministry to educate the Kedah MB to be more prudent with how he governs the state as Kedah has and always will be a multiracial state,” the Jelutong MP said.

“Our PM will have his vision destroyed if people like the Kedah MB are purposely touching on the sensitivities of the people.”

Sanusi has repeatedly drawn public ire since he became Kedah MB in May 2020. The most recent controversial decision he made was the effective ban of all gaming outlets in the northern state by ordering local councils not to renew the business licences of those selling 4D lottery tickets.

He added to the flames by saying those who wanted to gamble can go to Penang instead, which drew censure from the Penang Malay Association earlier today.

Prior to this, Sanusi was under fire for remarks about having enough freezers to contain the dead bodies of the deceased from Covid-19. At the time, he said there were sufficient freezer containers to store the bodies of Covid-19 victims, and those interested could submit their names.

The video clip where he made those comments went viral.

Individuals who had criticised Sanusi in public had reportedly been taken in for police questioning.

In January, he cancelled Thaipusam in Kedah, a festival held sacred by many ethnic Indians, saying it did not warrant a public holiday due to the movement control order (MCO).

In July, he was caught on video test driving a car during the MCO in Penang and subsequently fined, after an aide initially denied Sanusi did so.

Rayer held up the late Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat as a role model of Islamic leadership, saying the former Tok Guru did more for non-Muslims as he had respected them and treated them with dignity.

He suggested a programme be made to educate current PAS leaders on Nik Aziz’s teachings.

“The late Tok Guru who did so much for the non-Muslim community in Kelantan.

Source: Malay Mail

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After Kedah 4D ban, observers say rigidity in PAS proving barrier to genuine policy ideas

24 Nov 2021


KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 — The PAS-led Kedah government’s move to ban 4D gaming operators in the state continues to highlight the party’s dearth of policy proposals beyond those rooted in religious objections, said critics.

One public policy expert and academics agreed that the controversial decision will fuel doubt about the party’s administrative skills despite having been in power federally for nearly two years and governing three states.

They argued that it was time for the Islamist party to demonstrate that it could contribute ideas towards the country’s progress and move beyond controversies such as the gaming ban in Kedah.

“PAS certainly has been in the limelight recently by demonstrating its position on policy matters that are reflective of its religious values and what it believes its constituents desire,” said Tricia Yeoh, chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs think tank.

“In fact, PAS should also have strong beliefs on other matters such as preserving the environment, which unfortunately has not necessarily emerged as its priority. If it is, it has not been clearly communicated to the public,” she told Malay Mail. 

As a part of the ruling Perikatan Nasional administration, several PAS leaders had been part of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s administration, before continuing to serve under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Among the portfolios that have passed through the party’s hands include law and parliamentary affairs, religious affairs, as well as energy, science, technology, environment and climate change.

Despite this, however, the party has yet to be credited with any significant policy or legislative idea.

Rigid theology

The source of this policy dearth could be due to the party’s political culture that tended to sideline novel ideas and give prominence to Islamic teachings under the strict “guidance” of clerical rule, according to Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Hassan, an academic who studies PAS.

Even though there were members of the professional class among the party’s ranks, the rigid theology espoused by the clerical leadership still often governed their outlook, the former university professor added.

The result is usually the suppression of debate and free flow of ideas that circumvent intellectual growth from within.

Worse, he went on to argue, is that secular-educated PAS members are often kept in the fringes and, as a consequence, the party fails to cultivate leaders with the ability to bridge Islamic teachings with the needs of modern governance.

“How to project and the meaning of Islam that is interpreted in the right way in the context of Malaysian bureaucracy, this is a skill [their leadership] do not have,” Nik Abdul Aziz said.

“Their skills, perhaps, is to speak about Islam. Even then, the teachings are only in the generic sense because they lack experience in administrative matters or that of democratic governance.”

Progressive academics have long cited such dogmatism as emblematic of the problems plaguing religious epistemology, of which PAS is just one of the manifestations.

Its root cause, according to Nik Abdul Aziz, was in the conservatives’ hold on Islam and its interpretations, which has also fueled centuries of rivalry between them and their more reformist-minded counterparts.

This tension had been visible in PAS throughout its seventy years history, which peaked six years ago when the party’s clerical leadership moved to purge the reformist-minded faction at a party poll that split the party. Leaders from the latter group eventually left to form Parti Amanah Negara.

Nik Abdul Aziz further argued that the conservatism was made worse by an incomplete religious education system that did not encourage a complete grasp of Islam.

“From a historical perspective, the system doesn’t produce students who can understand and translate Islam in real space and time... because the Islamic [knowledge] remains under the conservative umbrella, which has the tendency to focus on rituals and petty matters,” he added.

“And this problem is everywhere in the world, maybe just in different forms in Iran, Iraq or other countries.”

Party for all

Political opponents have responded to the 4D ban by criticising the move as an infringement on minority rights, but ultimately took it more as political maneuvering aimed at wooing conservative voters for the Melaka election on Saturday.

Yeoh said the move again raises questions about PAS’ ability to govern a multicultural and diverse nation, and whether it is capable of looking beyond the interest of its core voter base.

“PAS as a political party will need to truly examine how it balances its specific party priorities and the need to represent all Malaysians alike, seeing as it is part of a federal government that sets itself up to act in the interests of all citizens,” the public policy expert said.

PAS has made several attempts to rebrand itself as an Islamic outfit that is inclusive in recent years, among them, by toning its push for an Islamic state and “ratifying” its non-muslim wing with representation in the central decision-making body.

But observers said little has come since, especially under the leadership of Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, whose political outlook has shifted further to the right since his party left Pakatan Harapan.

Source: Malay Mail

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Give priority to single parents, not flexibility to polygamous men, says NGO

November 23, 2021

PETALING JAYA: With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Terengganu government must pay attention to vulnerable groups such as single mothers, said non-governmental organisation Sisters in Islam (SIS).

SIS criticised the state government’s decision to grant leniency to men with two wives and a monthly income of not more than RM2,500 when applying for the Rumah Mampu Milik (RMM) affordable housing programme.

In a statement, it questioned the fairness of the programme, saying RM2,500 was not enough for a man to support two wives and their children and pay for monthly bills and expenses.

The decision to grant leniency over the housing programme was worrying, it said, because it might encourage polygamy in men when they are unable to afford it.

Shariah law states that a husband should be able to support and provide for his wives equally, including material aspects such as houses.

SIS questioned the conditions of the housing scheme listed in the Terengganu e-Perumahan website, including applicants must never have owned a house before applying and may only apply once.

Through these conditions, it said, a husband can only provide one house for one wife, which was in conflict with the equal treatment of wives as stated by shariah law.

It called for amendments to Islamic family law provisions to require men to declare their assets and liabilities when applying to marry a second wife.

Their financial capabilities should be considered beforehand to ensure no woman or children were left without sufficient financial support, it said.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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