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What’s Love Got to Do with Relationship, Asks Arab News; Everything, Say Saudi Couples on Valentine’s Day

New Age Islam News Bureau

14 February 2023


• Hindu Sena Complaint against Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind Chief, His Nephew Maulana Mahmood Madani for 'Hurting Religious Sentiments'

• Islamic State Terror Threat Still High, Increasing In Conflict Zones: UN Counter-Terrorism Chief

• Al-Qaeda Video Shows Assassinated Leader, Ayman Al-Zawahiri Urging Muslims ‘To Target Interests of Israel’

• Islamic Fanatic, Sayfullo Saipov, Who Mowed Down 8 People in 2017 Could Be First Execution in NY in More Than 60 Years


Arab World

• Saudis share their pick of quirky and romantic outdoor adventures this Valentine’s Day

• Egypt’s president Sisi praises UAE during Dubai summit

• Dubai supermarket offering discounts for Turkey-Syria earthquake relief aid

• Where might Cristiano Ronaldo and Georgina Rodriguez spend their first Valentine’s Day in Saudi Arabia?

• Hezbollah sends quake aid to Syria, raps West’s ‘fake support’ for human rights



• Allah Om Row: Jain Monk Acharya Lokesh Muni Says Could Not Tolerate Religious Insult

• Hire 30% Muslims in Army to Fight Terrorists from Pak: JD (U) Leader, Ghulam Rasool Balyawi

• Umesh Kolhe Murder: Accused Vet Seeks Bail, Claims He Is Staunch Sunni Muslim, Not Tablighi Jamaat Member

• 'I Was Targeted Because I am a Muslim': Siddique Kappan Recounts His Harrowing Time in Jail

• KCR assures increasing Muslim representation in govt departments

• MP: Khandwa tense after Hanuman’s idol installed in Muslim house



• UK Presents Evidence Linking Iran In Houthi Weapon Supply

• Spanish Rescue Teams Praise Turkish People's 'Extraordinary Solidarity' During Search Efforts

• Berlin slams Israeli decision to legalize 9 West Bank outposts

• Greek youth choir to take to stage for solidarity with Türkiye, Syria after major quakes

• NATO in 'strong solidarity' with quake-hit Türkiye, alliance chief says

• North Macedonia declares day of national mourning over earthquakes in Türkiye, Syria

• Russian diplomat says external pressure, sanctions no obstacle to cooperation with Iran



• Thousands Hold Fresh Protests Against Israeli Prime Minister's Controversial 'Judicial Reforms'

• Turkiye Requests Pakistan to Send Surgical Equipment, Tents, Dry Fruits

• Official: President Rayeesi to Pursue Strategic Partnership Agreement in China Visit

• IRGC Qods Force Commander Visits Quake-Hit Areas in Syria's Lattakia

• World Leaders Continue to Congratulate Iran on Victory Anniversary of Islamic Revolution

• Three people rescued in Turkey nearly 198 hours after devastating earthquake

• Jerusalem Christians say they feel growing harassment

• Soaring demolitions of Palestinian homes must stop: UN experts

• Houthis block Yemeni traders from using government-controlled ports

• Türkiye won’t open border gates with Syria in YPG/PKK-controlled areas, foreign minister says


North America

• US grooming Islamist militants for attack, Russian spy service claims

• Chicago mayoral candidates vow to restore Arab American role in city affairs

• At least 3 dead, 5 injured in shooting at Michigan State University


South Asia

• Differences Emerge In Taliban Leadership As Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani Makes Public Criticism

• Dozens of Radio Channels Stop Broadcasting in Taliban-Ruled Afghanistan

• Afghan journalists win case against UK govt over relocation

• Afghanistan’s Education System Needs Improvement, Hanafi Says



• Pakistan Sikhs Embracing Islam Face Tough Time; Afraid Of Their Own People

• Imran claims Bajwa asked him to condemn Russia after Putin agreed to sell Pakistan cheap fuel

• China’s central document highlights possibilities for agri cooperation with Pakistan

• Nankana Sahib lynching: ATC sends 6 suspects to jail for identification parade

• Balochistan govt to send relief goods and medical team to Syria

• PAF rescues stranded Pakistan citizens in earthquake-hit Turkey

• FO bars embassies in EU states from visas issuance to Afghan nationals

• Joint sitting: Parliament continues debate on terrorism today


Southeast Asia

• Indonesian University Honours Vatican Official for Interfaith Dialogue In The World

• Ipoh City Council calls on Ramadan bazaar traders to sell Menu Rahmah

• Johor youth group demands action against Facebook user for naming pets ‘Datuk Seri, Datuk Wira’, says it insults royal institution

• Malaysia’s 4-year political turmoil could have been avoided if politicians set aside differences: King

• Why Malaysia left door open for Federal Constitution in Malay to override original text



• Northerners Should Reject Atiku At Presidential Election For Opposing Sharia – Tinubu’s Running Mate, Shettima

• 2023: Tinubu denies planning to marry Muslim wife ahead of presidential election

• Famine could rip through Somalia as soon as April, UN warns

• At least 82 killed in Somaliland conflict: Doctor

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



 What’s Love Got to Do with Relationship, Asks Arab News; Everything, Say Saudi Couples on Valentine’s Day

Jasmine Bager

Sulafa Alkhunaizi

February 13, 2023

DHAHRAN/RIYADH: Ahead of Valentine’s Day, Cupid’s bow and arrow struck several happy couples and built lives based on shared love, appreciation, and respect. But there’s more to it behind the scenes. Arab News asks couples what the secret to their happy unions is.

From the time of Plato and Aristotle onwards, philosophy has offered different theories of love, and long-term relationships can be wonderful — but require hard work. For many, it is the grand, extravagant gestures.

For others, it is the small ones that make a difference. To brave the question, “what makes love last?” Arab News asked married couples about what makes love last and their hearts dance.

For many, friendship and attention to detail count most, such as in the case of Muath Aziz, 31, and Luluwah Alghamdi, 28, who have been together since 2017.

“To me, friendship and kindness are a critical part of marriage,” Alghamdi said. “To be able to live with someone who you can laugh with and dance with and just be able to be yourself around him. No masks of any sort. Life has its ups and downs and having to go through it with your friend who’s reliable and supportive is priceless.”

As for Aziz, he believes that marriage is easy, simply a lifestyle change that requires adaption, investment, and kindness. Still, the most essential and crucial is finding a partner to have fun with.

“Instead of making breakfast for one, you make it for two. And instead of buying one bowl of ice cream, you buy two, paying attention to what flavors your partner favors. Yes you might have differences on what temperature the AC to be set at night, or where to store the tea and sugar, but that can always be resolved. That’s, of course, as long as the two are transparent and are listening to each other,” he told Arab News.

Sharing that same sentiment is Wedad Alahmed, who has been married for 33 years. She told Arab News that a good marriage requires that you look at it as a true friendship and partnership with communication as a critical component. “Understanding one’s partner’s thoughts, inspirations, and expectations is a must. A good marriage is about respect, honesty, and making a space for differences and a strong connection,” she said.

Ghassan Abduladhim and Shadi Albayat told Arab News that their successful marriage is mainly due to communication, and that being friends is always an added perk to the union.

“A marriage would be blissful and fulfilling if love and attraction mature through married life into a sort of friendship, where conditional tolerance and acceptance morph into empathic inclusiveness, reciprocally embracing and celebrating differences,” Abduladhim told Arab News. “Openness and all sort of communication skills are keys.”

Sharing her husband’s sentiments, the mother of four girls added that a happy marriage is a deep friendship “that is growing every single day. Trust and equality in your rights and responsibilities.”

For many couples, the anticipation and rush before their wedding day go by in a blur until the big day arrives, commencing the beginning of a new partnership. With a flurry of wedding guests zipping by, last-minute flower arrangements, makeup and hair, and so much more, photographers are the one constant that is available, watching every quiet and calm moment, capturing intimate connections and spontaneous moments of the day.

Tasneem Al-Sultan, a professional photographer in the Kingdom, has had a successful time being the preeminent local wedding photographer for over a decade in her Eastern Province hometown in Saudi Arabia. Word quickly spread around the block that her bridal shoots were creative and beautiful, as she filled the frame with elegant and fun moments that captured the essence of couples walking side-by-side into matrimony. Soon, her wedding photography repertoire expanded to include the rest of the Kingdom — and abroad.

In many ways, she became an active witness to each couple’s first walk into love.

“‘Saudi Tales of Love,’ which I retitled ‘And Then There Were Women,’ is about Saudi women’s intimate access and their stories about love of marriage, divorce. And I follow, as a wedding photographer that is divorced,” she told Arab News.

Al-Sultan enjoys being there to elevate the moment two people — with their families — vow to unite. She is also there to shed light on what many refer to as “the most important day of their lives.” As a wedding photographer, she is constantly surrounded by different versions of love.

According to AlSultan, the ‘perfect wedding’ might be a myth to strive to be on and encourages couples to look beyond that day and to truly dig into themselves to carve out the best version of love that makes sense to them. She stresses that the spotlight should be on building a healthy life together for the future and not obsess over how the cake looks or how the playlist flows on that one night.

“The wedding is just a big party to show how happy you are and to celebrate with everyone you know, but it is not about all the small details — the flowers and the colors, and the venue. We need to forget that this is all about the event and more about what this event means for the rest of your life,” added Al-Sultan.

After her experience documenting so many weddings, one thing is still clear: The lights in her eyes never dim when she talks about love.

She never lost faith in the process. And while her marriage did not last, she still strives to freeze the loving tenderness she has witnessed all along within her frames, whether between a romantic couple or a parent or friend. Each of her pictures speaks a thousand words and tells a million different strands of love story. Capturing that magical spark in a moment transcends time and space.

Does she still believe in love?

“Yes! Always,” she said with a laugh.

Source: Arab News

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Hindu Sena Complaint against Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind Chief, His Nephew Maulana Mahmood Madani for 'Hurting Religious Sentiments'


Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind organised a three-day event to mark 34th general session of the Jamiat at the Ramlila Maidan. (Image: Twitter/@JamiatUlama_in)


Ram Kinkar Singh

Feb 13, 2023

The Hindu Sena on Monday lodged a police complaint against Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind chief Maulana Arshad Madani and his nephew, Maulana Mahmood Madani, over their recent remarks that triggered massive controversy.

In his letter to Delhi Police Commissioner, Hindu Sena chief Vishnu Gupta alleged that statements of Maulana Mahmood Madani and Maulana Arshad Madani have hurt sentiments of Hindus.

The Hindu Sena on Monday lodged a police complaint against Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind chief Maulana Arshad Madani and his nephew, Maulana Mahmood Madani, over their recent remarks that triggered massive controversy.

In his letter to Delhi Police Commissioner, Hindu Sena chief Vishnu Gupta alleged that statements of Maulana Mahmood Madani and Maulana Arshad Madani have hurt sentiments of Hindus.

The senior leader also appealed to the RSS to urge its affiliates to shun "hate and enmity" and jointly work for making the country the most developed in the world.

This is our country. As much as this country belongs to Narendra Modi and Mohan Bhagwat, it belongs to Mahmood. Neither Mahmood is one inch ahead of them nor are they one inch ahead of Mahmood," he said.

"The last Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, came to complete the same religion€¦ So, I have no qualms in saying that India is the best place for Hindi Muslims," Madani added.

What Maulana Arshad Madani Said

In a speech, Maulana Arshad Madani claimed that 'Om' and 'Allah' were the same God worshipped by 'Manu'. Manu is a term found in religious texts, referring to the first man or the progenitor of humanity.

The Muslim cleric, who heads the Arshad Madani faction of the outfit, said that he asked the "dharma gurus" as to who was worshipped when there was no Shri Ram, Brahma or Shiva.

"I asked who is Om, many said 'it is just air, it has no form, it has no colour and it is everywhere, it made the sky and land'. I said this is what we call Allah, you call Ishwar, those speaking Persian call Khuda and those speaking English call God," Madani said.

"This means that Manu, that is Adam, used to worship one Om, that is one Allah," he said.

Source: India Today

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Islamic State Terror Threat Still High, Increasing In Conflict Zones: UN Counter-Terrorism Chief


UNICEF/Wathiq Khuzaie A family walks past a memorial set up at the location of a suicide bombing, claimed by ISIL, at Al-Shuhadaa Staduim in Babil, Iraq.


February 14, 2023

Despite leadership losses and diminished cash reserves, the extremist group ISIL, or Da’esh, continues to pose a threat to international peace and security, the UN counter-terrorism chief warned last week in New York.

Under-Secretary-General Vladimir Voronkov briefed the Security Council where he presented the latest UN report on the terrorist organization, underlining the need for concerted global action.

Mr. Voronkov began by focusing on the plight of victims and survivors of terrorism worldwide.

“Because beyond the headlines and behind the numbers, there are numerous people and communities who were affected by the heinous crimes of Da’esh and other terrorist groups and individuals,” he said.

Still a concern

The Da’esh threat remains high and has increased in and around conflict zones where the group and its affiliates are active, he reported.

Their expansion in central and southern Africa, and the Sahel, remains particularly worrying.

“Previous reports raised concerns over an increased risk of attacks in non-conflict areas by unaffiliated lone actors and small cells inspired by Da’esh as pandemic-related restrictions eased,” he told ambassadors.

“While this has not materialized over this reporting period, the level of terrorist activity continues to be a concern to Member States.”

Tech-savvy terrorists

Da’esh also continues to use the Internet, social media and video games for propaganda and recruitment purposes, along with new and emerging technologies, such as unmanned aerial systems, or drones.

Meanwhile, scores of people affiliated with the extremists, including children, remain in camps and detention facilities in northeast Syria.  

Mr. Voronkov drew attention to the dire situation, warning against the far-reaching consequences and slow pace of repatriations.

Foreign fighter fears

He emphasized that the foreign terrorist fighter issue is not exclusive to Iraq and Syria, but a global challenge, with implications that go beyond accountability and prosecution for crimes.

Fighters with battlefield experience who are relocated to their homelands, or to third countries, further compound the threat. 

“As noted in the report, terrorist attacks committed by such individuals have proven to be particularly lethal compared to those committed by purely homegrown terrorists,” he said.

“There are also instances of some radicalized women associated with Da’esh who reinvent themselves as recruiters, indoctrinating others, and, in particular, children.”

Rooted in rights

Mr. Voronkov outlined three recommendations to address the persistent threat posed by Da’esh and its affiliates.  

He called for multidimensional approaches, with “more complementarity” between security responses and preventive measures.  These strategies must be gender-sensitive and anchored in international law and human rights.

Finally, given the increased threat from conflict zones, he stressed the need to better understand the complex relationship between conflict and terrorism.

Cooperation and compliance

Another top UN official, who also briefed ambassadors, underscored the importance of greater global collaboration in defeating the terrorists.

“Only by working multilaterally and cooperatively will we succeed in mounting an effective response to the evolving global terrorist threat,” said Weixiong Chen, acting head of CTED, the secretariat for the Council’s own Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC).

“Our measures must be tailor-made, age and gender-responsive, and human rights-compliant,” he added.

Mr. Chen also reported on recent efforts to address terrorists’ use of new and emerging technologies, such as the Delhi Declaration, adopted last October in India.

The Declaration aims to cover main concerns surrounding issues that include the abuse of drones, information and communication technologies, and new online payments and fundraising methods.

Focus on gender

Meanwhile, civil society representative Franziska Praxl-Tabuchi, underscored why gender-responsive approaches must be included in counter-terrorism programmes and policies. 

This is not just a matter of realizing the participation of women, she said, but is instead about ensuring inclusive, equitable participation and leadership of people of diverse gender identities.

“It requires accounting for the experiences, needs, and challenges of individuals and recognizing how gender identities relate to other identity factors,” said Ms. Praxl-Tabuchi, who spoke on behalf of the Global Center on Cooperative Security, an independent, non-partisan policy and research institute. 

“Simply put, integrating a gender perspective is a prerequisite for successful human rights–based and people-centered policies and programmes intended to address peace and security issues, including those that aim to counter violent extremism and terrorism.”

Source: Eurasia Review

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Al-Qaeda Video Shows Assassinated Leader, Ayman Al-Zawahiri Urging Muslims ‘To Target Interests of Israel’


On February 12, 2023, Al-Sahab, the media arm of Al-Qaeda Central Command, released an approximately eight-minute video featuring a speech by the organization's slain leader, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Kabul on July 31, 2022. via MEMRI


February 13, 2023

Al-Sahab, the media arm of Al-Qaeda Central Command, published an eight-minute video on Sunday showing a speech by the organization’s assassinated leader, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, who was killed in a U.S. drone hit in Kabul on July 31, 2022.

According to a report by MEMRI’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor, shared first with JNS, the video titled “How to Support the Palestinian Cause” is subtitled in English, and Al-Sahab published transcripts of Al-Zawahiri’s speech in Arabic and English.

Zawahiri urged Muslims to rise up and help Palestinian Muslims “by targeting the interests of Israel and [of] the powers that support Israel everywhere.”

Addressing Palestinian Muslims, Al-Zawahiri urges them to defend their homeland “until your last breath.”

The video was posted during a Palestinian terror wave against Israelis.

The video begins with a series of short clips of Israel’s Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount plaza, juxtaposed with older footage of senior Israeli officials meeting with Arab leaders, including Palestinians and leaders of countries that are Israel’s allies, such as the U.S. and Turkey.

Source: JNS

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Islamic Fanatic, Sayfullo Saipov, Who Mowed Down 8 People in 2017 Could Be First Execution in NY in More Than 60 Years


Sayfullo Saipov, the Islamic fanatic who fatally ran down eight people in 2017, could receive the death penalty./ AP


By Steve Janoski

February 13, 2023

The Islamic fanatic who fatally mowed down eight people near Manhattan’s Hudson River in 2017 could become the first person executed in New York in more than 60 years.

A jury began weighing Sayfullo Saipov’s sentencing fate Monday, after he was convicted of the heinous crime last month, and the death penalty is on the table.

If he is sentenced to death and executed, it would be the first time the Empire State has carried out capital punishment since 1963, when armed-robbery killer Eddie Mays died in Sing Sing’s electric chair, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

New York has a previous long history of capital punishment that predates the founding of the United States, the center said.

Between 1608 and 1972, New York had the second most executions of any state in the union. Only Virginia had more.

New York showed it could be particularly creative with its methods, too, employing everything from burning at the stake and the hangman’s noose to firing squads, the electric chair and even the ancient breaking wheel.

But the state has slowly moved away from eye-for-an-eye punishment, the center said.

So although inmates lived on New York’s death row over the years, it’s been decades since anyone has actually been executed.

Mays was convicted in state court of shooting and killing Maria Marini, 31, during an armed robbery in 1961, according to an article in The Post.

He and two accomplices were holding up a Manhattan tavern, and he shot Marini when she responded slowly to his demand for her purse, police said at the time. Her purse was later found to have been empty.

In terms of federal court, where Saipov was convicted, the last person executed in New York after being found guilty was Gerhard Arthur Puff, who was put to death Aug. 12, 1954, for slaying FBI agent Joseph Brock during a shootout with authorities.

Before being put to death, Puff appealed directly to then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower for a new trial. Ike turned him down. 

More recently, the feds tried to execute reputed Bloods member Ronell Wilson for the 2003 slayings of undercover NYPD Detectives James Nemorin and Rodney Andrews.

But an appeals court overturned one of the death sentences against Wilson in 2010, and in 2016, a federal judge deemed him ineligible for the ultimate punishment, saying he was too “intellectually disabled” to be executed.

Source: New York Post

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Arab World


Saudis share their pick of quirky and romantic outdoor adventures this Valentine’s Day


February 13, 2023

RIYADH: Roses, chocolates, diamonds (a girl’s best friend) and assorted gifts are Valentine’s Day staples. But while some people stick to the classics, others prefer to venture out, explore and spend quality time together for the sake of their love.

As Saudi Arabia’s tourist destinations expand their offerings with a wide variety of experiences throughout the year, many couples are finding new ways to break the routine and enjoy the day with each other, or with loved ones or close friends.

For Rafeef and Abdulrahman, quiet time alone is “a luxury.” Both say their busy lives are fulfilling, but as parents to a teenage girl and twin boys, it can get busy. The couple have been married for 22 years and own two private businesses. Special occasions, such as Valentine’s Day, allow them to rush off to the nearby desert and disconnect, they say.

“Living in Jeddah has its perks,” Rafeef told Arab News. “We have the beach, sun and sand, but it’s usually spent with the kids and extended family on weekends. Our occasional dinners are great, but Abdulrahman and I have agreed to spend at least one day a month together. Whether we’re traveling for a quick weekend trip to Dubai, a week in London, or a weekend at Moon Valley, we do it for us.”

Abdulrahman said: “This year we chose Valentine’s Day because my wife is weak for roses, so we planned a breakfast for two with the kids cooking, and then we’re off for weekend where she’ll be cooking up breakfast and I’ll arrange a bonfire before we go stargazing.

“Our bonds grow stronger, and we have time to have meaningful and fun conversations, just like we used to 22 years ago.”

While some head to the desert east of the city, others turn west to spend the day on a boat, enjoying a romantic dinner for two. Several boat tour agencies will cater to couples or groups on the special day.

“It might sound a bit of a cliche to have a sunset stroll, but with the beautiful weather the city is enjoying these days, a cool breeze and beautiful Jeddah sunset could be what we need to disconnect a little from our busy lives,” said Khaled A., a banker who is surprising his wife this Valentine’s Day. “Cliche or not, nothing is more romantic than sunsets.”

For some, camping out in the desert is the perfect escape and a means to disconnect, literally and figuratively. Saudi Arabia’s vast unspoiled terrain offers numerous secluded camping sites, such as Acacia Valley, 90 km outside Riyadh; the winter hiking destination Jabal Al-Lawz in the Kingdom’s northwest; and Wadi Disah, a valley between towering red sandstone escarpments in the southwest Tabuk province.

If food says “love,” many delivery apps offer camping meals and special meals that are ideal for day trips. Don’t forget the chocolates.

No destination? No problem. All you need for a fun Valentine’s Day activity is a sense of adventure and a full tank of gas, says Mashael A.A., who has made it a habit to drive out of Dammam with her husband every few weeks, exploring new terrain around the Eastern Province.

“We connected over long drives when we were engaged as he would drive home from his work, a trip that took over an hour-and-a-half on normal days and up to two on busy days,” she told Arab News.

“Something about preparing a fun or relaxing playlist and our warm cups of coffee in tow allows us to spend quality time together and relax. They might not be drives full of animated conversation; sometimes being quiet is all we need.”

For many couples, there is no telling what they might stumble across, as some choose to feel the love this Valentine’s Day in more interesting and quirky ways.

“We chose sledgehammers this year,” said 34-year-old business owner Meme A. “My husband and I go to the movies and dinners all the time, but we designate a day every year for a fun activity. Last year it was driving Ferraris at Ferarri World Yas Island, the year before that we had a paintball battle and this year, we’re smashing computers and gadgets with sledgehammers, bats and more,” she told Arab news.

Source: Arab News

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Egypt’s president Sisi praises UAE during Dubai summit

13 February ,2023

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi offered effusive praise Monday for the United Arab Emirates, seeking to repair a rift between Cairo and the Gulf Arab states that have supplied billions of dollars in aid to his nation.

Sisi has relied on handouts from Gulf Arab states to keep his country’s economy afloat since seizing power in 2013. Estimates suggest over $100 billion in Gulf money has gone to Cairo via Central Bank deposits, fuel aid and other support since then.

But in recent weeks, Gulf Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, have begun signaling that they want to see more reforms from countries receiving their aid — particularly as nations worldwide struggle with inflation and the fallout from Russia’s war on Ukraine. That likely would affect Egypt, which already is under pressure from the International Monetary Fund to reform.

“We used to give direct grants and deposits without strings attached and we are changing that,” Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January. “We need to see reforms. We are taxing our people. We are expecting also others to do the same, to do their efforts. We want to help but we want you also to do your part.”

In Kuwait, at least one lawmaker has begun asking about the billions loaned to Egypt and whether any of those funds had been repaid. While leaders in the United Arab Emirates haven’t commented publicly on its aid packages, it too has its own development plans and is being asked to deliver aid to earthquake-stricken Turkey and Syria.

Sisi spoke Monday before the World Government Summit in Dubai at a session attended by both UAE leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The Egyptian president began his remarks acknowledging the two rulers as his “brothers.”

Sisi, onstage at the summit for what was billed as an interview with a journalist, launched into a monologue praising the UAE and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed for his aid after the 2013 overthrow.

“The first to highlight is the support I have received from our brothers,” Sisi said. “Everything I said would not have been possible without the support we received.”

“Reality may be different from what we see in the media or what we hear from politicians … even when it’s politicians who think they are in control,” Sisi said. “Make sure to thank God for the generosity we have received.”

Anwar Gargash, a senior Emirati diplomat, tweeted after Sisi’s appearance: “Egypt, as usual, is loyal to its brothers and their stances. Appreciation for the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait was present in President Sisi’s speech.”

The Egyptian government has plans to sell stakes in dozens of state-controlled companies, including banks and energy firms. However, the government and the Egyptian military dominate the economy of the Arab world’s most-populous country, worrying investors.

Egypt meanwhile is allowing its Egyptian pound to devalue, with the currency down nearly 50 percent over the last year. The country also faces a foreign currency shortage exacerbating its woes and forcing it to postpone major projects.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Dubai supermarket offering discounts for Turkey-Syria earthquake relief aid

13 February ,2023

A Dubai supermarket says it is offering discounts in order to help the humanitarian crisis unfolding after devastating earthquakes struck Syria and Turkey.

Union Coop will give a 25 percent discount to people involved in humanitarian operations to provide relief to those affected by the natural disaster.

“Amidst unfortunate reports of earthquakes in regions of Turkey and Syria, Union Coop affirmed its solidarity by announcing a provisional discount of 25 [percent] on basic and other food & non-food products for all concerned parties who are involved in humanitarian and charitable assistance and relief work for those affected,” the supermarket said in a statement on its website.

There will be further discounts for essential items including tents, blankets, mattresses, and food that will be sent to victims and their families.

The supermarket says it will even package all items accordingly.

Two quakes of magnitude 7.8 and 7.5 struck southern Turkey and northern Syria on Monday February 6.

One week later, and rescue operations are still ongoing to pull survivors from the rubble. The death toll, meanwhile, has climbed above 33,000 as of Monday morning.

Union Coop is the largest consumer cooperative in the United Arab Emirates, according to its website.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Where might Cristiano Ronaldo and Georgina Rodriguez spend their first Valentine’s Day in Saudi Arabia?


February 13, 2023

RIYADH: With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, many Saudis are wondering where the Kingdom’s newest and most talked-about celebrity couple, Cristiano Ronaldo and Georgina Rodriguez, might celebrate the romantic occasion.

After all, the pair, who have been in a relationship since 2016, have never been shy about sharing their strong feelings of love for each other on social media.

The football superstar and his family moved to the Kingdom in January after he signed for Saudi side Al-Nassr in late December. Since then, the couple have been spotted enjoying days out with their children at various attractions and experiencing some of the perks offered by Riyadh’s distinctive entertainment and gastronomy scene.

In January, for example, Ronaldo and Rodriguez enjoyed a romantic meal at French fine-dining restaurant Le Maschou, one of Riyadh’s most interesting restaurants, its rock-walled rooms lit by flickering candles.

Arab News asked our readers to suggest what should be on the couple’s agenda for the day on which the world celebrates love. Yasmeen Alkhamis, a relationship manager with a private company, created a timetable to keep them entertained for the whole day.

“During the daytime, the couple should book the ‘Timeless Love’ package at the Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh, and then head to a romantic dinner in Coya or MNKY HSE,” she said.

The hotel’s exclusive Valentine’s Day package includes a 60-minute couples massage, a complimentary breakfast, and other perks. Both of the restaurants suggested by Alkhamis serve Latin American cuisine and are renowned for their extravagant fine-dining experiences and high ratings awarded by delighted diners.

Newly graduated Thekra Altamimi reckons a trip to AlUla would be a great option for the celebrity couple.

“AlUla is the perfect destination for Valentine’s Day,” she said. “Besides the luxurious resorts in the heart of the oasis, the couple could watch the sunset in a hot air balloon and take a tour of the landmarks from different angles.”

AlUla, a favorite destination for Saudis and foreigners alike, is one of the Kingdom’s top tourist attractions and has welcomed many thousands of visitors over the years. It offers tours of historic sites such as Hegra, Elephant Rock, and Madain Saleh, along with star gazing excursions and fine dining experiences.

The celebration of Valentine’s Day was prohibited in the Kingdom until 2017. Now it is celebrated nationwide, giving Saudi and expatriate couples the freedom to express their love as lavishly or simply as they like. Hearts and flowers decorate stores, coffee shops, hotels and restaurants in honor of the day and many establishments offer special packages or discounts.

Source: Arab News

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Hezbollah sends quake aid to Syria, raps West’s ‘fake support’ for human rights

13 February 2023

The Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement has dispatched more humanitarian aid convoy to earthquake-affected areas in Syria, deploring Western governments’ "fake advocacy" for human rights.

The humanitarian aid left for Syria’s western city of Latakia, located on the Mediterranean Sea, and reportedly included tents, foodstuff, sanitation supplies, other daily necessities and medical equipment. The supplies can meet the needs of thousands of people.

Sayyed Hashem Safieddine, head of the Executive Council of Hezbollah, stated that the shipment will be followed by other batches of emergency aid to Aleppo and elsewhere in quake-devastated areas of Syria.

“Earthquake victims are in dire need of assistance. Syria has always stood at our side in times of need,” Safieddine said, emphasizing that Hezbollah “will support Syrians and will not leave them without any help throughout the current difficult situation.”

“The West showed its true colors during the crisis, and exposed its fake human rights gestures,” the senior Hezbollah official noted.

Earlier, Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem told Lebanon’s Arabic-language al-Manar television network that countries around the world must rush to send rescue workers, equipment and aid to help victims of the earthquake.

He offered his condolences to the Syrian people and government, saying Hezbollah has dispatched convoys of humanitarian aid to quake-hit areas.

Sheikh Qassem argued that US sanctions, backed by most Arab countries, are hampering relief and rescue operations, adding that the coercive measures run contrary to the fundamental humanitarian principles.

The top Hezbollah official stressed that the West must realize that Syrians are all united in the fight against the Takfiri terrorist groups and that the nation will not accept any foreign diktats.

Meanwhile, the United Nations says an anti-government group that has been designated as a terrorist group by the international community is preventing aid consignments from being delivered to the earthquake-stricken areas in the northern part of Syria.

A spokesman for the UN’s humanitarian aid office made the remarks on Sunday, saying there were “issues with approval” by the group, which it identified as the terrorist Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

The group has been waging deadly violence against Syrian people and government forces alike since 2011, when the Arab country found itself in the grip of foreign-backed terrorism.

The northern part of Syria, which is currently under HTS’ control, has received little relief aid as terrorists have sealed front lines with the government, despite last week’s announcement by Damascus that it is willing to send aid to that region.

The death toll from the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Syria on Monday has risen to more than 4,300. The death toll in neighboring Turkey also rises to 31,643.

Source: Press TV

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Allah Om Row: Jain Monk Acharya Lokesh Muni Says Could Not Tolerate Religious Insult

13 FEB 2023

A day after Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind chief, Maulana Arshad Madani's “Om and Allah are the same” statement caused a controversy with other religious leaders storming off the stage at the Jamiat event, prominent Jain monk, Acharya Lokesh Muni on Monday has said that he could not tolerate his religion and culture being insulted in front of his eyes, as per media reports.

Muni, who was among the leaders who walked off the stage after Maulana's statement tweeted, “I would rather accept my martyrdom. I can't tolerate the insult of my religion and culture in front of my eyes. So I protested and challenged the debate.'

मुझे अपनी शहादत मंजूर थी-जैन आचार्य लोकेश

मैं अपनी आँखों के सामने अपने धर्म, संस्कृति का अपमान बर्दाश्त नहीं कर सकता,इसलिए विरोध किया, शास्त्रार्थ की चुनौती दी।

Acharya Lokesh Muni (@Munilokesh) February 13, 2023

Madani, while addressing the third and final day of the 34th general session of the Jamiat at the Ramlila Maidan in Delhi, asked the "dharma gurus" about who was worshipped when Shri Ram, Brahma, or Shiva did not exist. "Some say Manu worshipped Shiva. Very few have pointed out that there was nothing in the world and Manu worshipped Om. I asked who is Om, many said 'it is just air, it has no form, it has no colour and it is everywhere, it made the sky and land'. I said this is what we call Allah, you call Ishwar, those speaking Persian call Khuda and those speaking English call God," he added.

"This means that Manu, that is Adam, used to worship one Om, that is one Allah," Madani said. Manu is a recurring term found in Hindu religious texts, referring to the first man or the progenitor of humanity.

Arshad Madani was responding to the reported statement of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat that Indian Hindus and Muslims share the same ancestry, and the contention from certain factions that Muslims should make 'ghar wapsi', that is to return to their ancestral religion. "Today they tell us 'do ghar wapsi'. I say that those who say this are illiterate. They do not know the history of their country, the history of religions," the Jamiat chief said.

Allah sent the last prophet, Mohammad to Arabia with the same message to the Arab land as was given from India, one 'Om', one 'Allah' will be worshiped and no one else will be worshiped except him, Arshad Madani said.

Evidently angered at Madani's speech, the Jain monk has accused Madani of digressing from talking about the unity to spinning a story about 'Manu and Allah'. "We only agree with living in harmony, but all these stories regarding Om, Allah, and Manu are all baseless. He (Madani) completely spoiled the environment of the session," Muni said, alleging that Madani was sowing divisions with his remarks. He has even challenged the Jamiat chief in a religious debate/ verbal duel.

"The stories he narrated, I can narrate even bigger stories than that. I would even request him (Madani) to come for a discussion with me, or even I can come to meet him in Saharanpur," the monk said.

Multiple religious leaders of different faiths are often invited to Jamiat-organised programmes and sessions. In the past, Acharya Lokesh Muni has been part of several Jamiat-organised programmes in the past as well.

Source: Outlook India

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Hire 30% Muslims in Army To Fight Terrorists From Pak: JD (U) Leader, Ghulam Rasool Balyawi

By Santosh Singh

February 14, 2023

FORMER JD (U) Rajya Sabha MP Ghulam Rasool Balyawi stoked yet another controversy on Monday when he said at a public function that “if there is any fear of fighting terrorists from Pakistan, appoint 30 per cent Muslims in the Indian Army to deal with them”. The remark comes three weeks after the JD (U) leader threatened to turn cities into “Karbala” if safety of Muslims was not guaranteed under the law.

Addressing a function in Nawada district of Bihar, Balyawi, a prominent Muslim voice in the JD (U), said: “Maine to Parliament me bhi kaha tha. Ab bhi keh raha hoon. PM (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) se bhi keh raha hoon. Lohe ko loha katata hai, gaajar nahi. Agar Pakistan ke aatankiyon se nipatne me aapko dar lag raha hai, fauz me sirf 30 per cent musalmanon ke bachchon ko jagah de do. Humein apne baap-dada ki tarikh yaad hai. Humein maloom hai ki apne watan ke liye kya kya karna hai (I have said this once in Parliament. I am saying this again. I am also telling this to the PM. If you are feeling afraid of dealing with terrorists coming from Pakistan, employ only 30 per cent Muslim children in the Army.. We know our history and are aware of what we have to do for our country).”

Balyawi made the statement amid slogans of “Hindustan Zindabad”.

Reacting to the JD(U) leader’s statement, BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand said, “Balyawi is behaving like a mouthpiece of (Chief Minister) Nitish Kumar in making desperate attempts to consolidate Muslim votes. In the process, he has ended up disrespecting the Indian Army. If he is so concerned about fellow Muslims, he should work towards the welfare of Pasmanda Muslims.”

JD(U)’s national general secretary Aafaq Ahmed told The Indian Express: “I do not know the context in which Balyawi said what he did But he should refrain from making such statements.”

Balyawi, 53, is known for his impassioned speeches. Last month, while demanding Muslim safety laws on the lines of the protection extended to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, he said: “If there is any threat to Muslims, we would turn every city into a Karbala.” He later explained that he was protesting against Muslim youth being arrested on mere suspicion of being terrorists. “They are targeted even if they are out of road to lodge a normal protest. Anyone can say anything uncharitable about the Prophet and get away with it,” he said.

Source: Indian Express

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Umesh Kolhe Murder: Accused Vet Seeks Bail, Claims He Is Staunch Sunni Muslim, Not Tablighi Jamaat Member

Feb 14, 2023

By Charul Shah

Mumbai: Yusuf Khan, a veterinary doctor, one of the accused in the murder of Amravati pharmacist Umesh Kolhe, on Monday moved a bail plea before a NIA court. He claimed that he is a staunch Sunni Muslim following the Barelvi School of Thought.

Kolhe, who ran a medical store in Amravati, was on his way home on his scooter on the night of June 21 when he was accosted by three men on a bike and hacked to death.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which probed the case in the charge sheet claimed that the men responsible for Kolhe’s murder were religiously radicalised, were members of Tablighi Jamaat and instigated by social activist Irfan Khan and maulvi Mushifique Ahmad.

The charge sheet against 11 accused claimed that, “Radicalised Islamist of the Tablighi Jamaat committed murder of Umesh Kolhe.” The NIA claimed that the accused were highly influenced by the ideology of brutality “Gustakh-e-Nabi ki ek hi saza, sar tan se juda.”

Khan in his plea refuted the claim and said he was a staunch Sunni Muslim, following the “Barelvi School of Thought”, which is based on “Sufi mystic teachings” and not a member of “Tablighi Jamaat.” “Pertinently, the members of Sunni Bareli Sect are ideologically opposed to the ideology followed by the Tablighi Jamaat,” the plea stated.

To prove his claim, Khan also attached the photos of his visits to several Sufi Shrines. “Members of Tablighi Jamaat follow the strict Salafi School of Thought who do not visit the graves of Sufi saints, as for them, the same is forbidden according to their interpretation of Islam. However, the present applicant visits Sufi Shrines all over India, in adherence to his religious beliefs.”

Kolhe was allegedly killed for supporting former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma over her objectionable remarks about the Prophet.

Khan was accused of circulating a message posted by Kolhe in a group named ‘black freedom’ on June 14. The NIA claimed that Yusuf intentionally took a screenshot of the post and after changing Kolhe’s number circulated it in another group, ‘Kalim Ibrahim’, created by Irfan and others. With this the NIA claimed that the conspiracy to eliminate Kolhe began.

Source: Hindustan Times

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'I Was Targeted Because I am a Muslim': Siddique Kappan Recounts His Harrowing Time in Jail

Arfa Khanum Sherwani

New Delhi: Journalist Siddique Kappan, who breathed freedom after being in jail for 28 months, told The Wire that he was “targeted” only because he is a Muslim.

Out on bail, the Malayalam language journalist narrated the harrowing experience he had been subjected to in jail. He contracted COVID-19 twice when he was imprisoned.

Recounting his experience in the prison hospital, he said he was called a “terrorist” and was told that he would be treated as one by an official there.

He added that he was handcuffed to the hospital bed and was not even allowed to use the toilet for five days straight, forcing him to relieve himself in a bottle. Then his lawyer appealed in the Supreme Court.

Kappan said he was “targeted” only because he had raised his voice against media censorship under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government. “In the process, news portals, supportive of Hindutva politics, called me the mastermind of Delhi riots,” he alleged.

According to him, the government and the Hindutva brigade felt that it was a “perfect distraction” from the gang rape of a Dalit woman in Hathras, which received severe backlash against the BJP and the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh.

“It was easy for them to blame me as a ‘terrorist’, because I am Siddique Kappan, a Muslim,” he said.

Kappan recalled that he used to write letters to his family from jail. He said he was worried for his children, especially his 19-year-old son. “I am worried my son would be called a ‘son of terrorist’. I don’t want my children’s image being tarnished like this.”

Asked whether he would take up and continue journalism given that he had to go through such an ordeal in jail, Kappan said he would not back off from journalism even if it meant harassment.

However, he lamented that a section of Hindi journalists in Delhi called him a “kathit patrakar (an alleged journalist)”. He said he had never been shamed as such before in his long career as a journalist.

He was arrested in October 2020 while on his way to Hathras from Delhi to report on the gang-rape case, where a Dalit teenager was allegedly gang-raped and injured by four ‘upper’ caste men. The young girl died eventually.

Source: The Wire

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KCR assures increasing Muslim representation in govt departments

Zahed Farooqui

13th February 2023

Hyderabad: Assuring representation to Muslims in government institutions, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has advised All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) floor leader Akbaruddin Owaisi to hold a meeting with ministers KTR and Harish Rao to resolve the issue of representation in government institutions.

Replying to the debate on the Appropriation Bill, the Chief Minister said that every Muslim should get representation in every field of life. He said that the issue of representation in government institutions will be resolved very soon. Earlier, taking part in the debate, Akbar Owaisi drew the Chief Minister’s attention to the decline in minority representation in government institutions.

Mr. Owaisi demanded the inclusion of Urdu representative in the Official Language Commission so that Urdu could be implemented as the second official language. He also demanded the inclusion of a Muslim representative in the Telangana Public Service Commission and said that there was representation in the previous commission but this time it was not given. He said that justice is needed for Urdu. Urdu should be used in government office signboards, RTC buses, etc.

Source: Siasat Daily

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MP: Khandwa tense after Hanuman’s idol installed in Muslim house

13th February 2023

Bhopal: Forced installation of Hanuman’s idol in a Muslim’s house triggered communal tension in Madhya Pradesh’s Khandwa district but prompt police action prevented the violence from escalating.

The state is yet to get over the horror it witnessed last year in Khargone.

According to official reports, the incident was reported on Sunday in a residential colony located near Munshi Chowk area in Khandwa, around 360 km from Bhopal.

The situation was under control, police said on Monday. However, a heavy police force was deployed in the area and Section 144 imposed in nearby areas.

At least four police personnel, including a Chief Superintendent of Police and SHO, were reported injured in stone pelting.

Five alleged perpetrators of the incident have been detained so far, and identification of more was under way, police said on Monday.

“On Sunday, around 8.30 p.m, a group of people barged into the house, installed Hanuman’s idol and chanted mantras. This led to people from both communities gathering outside the house. Both sides pelted stones at each other, but police jumped into action and dispersed the crowd,” a senior police official told IANS on Monday.

As per the police, the house where the incident took place belonged to one Ganesh Jadhav, which was recently sold to a Muslim, Shaikh Asagar.

The agitated people even attacked the police who arrived to control the situation, prompting them to use tear gas to disperse the crowd.

“Three cases under different IPC Sections pertaining to house-trespassing, attempt to murder and rioting lodged and as many as five persons have been detained so far. The prime accused in the entire incident is a self-styled Hindu leader Ravi Awhad,” police officials said.

Source: Siasat Daily

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UK presents evidence linking Iran in Houthi weapon supply

February 13, 2023

LONDON: Britain says it has for the first time presented evidence that Iran is supplying advanced weapons to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, after finding images of tests conducted at the headquarters of the Revolutionary Guards in Tehran on the hard drive of an unmanned aircraft seized by the Royal Navy.

Personnel from the British ship HMS Montrose seized the unmanned quadcopter along with a shipment of missiles and missile parts in February last year when they stopped and searched a number of fast-moving skiffs in the Gulf of Oman. The weapons and other evidence were presented to the United Nations as linking Iran to violations of Security Council resolutions barring weapons shipments to the Houthis, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Monday in London.

“This is the first time we have been able to present evidence to the UN that indicates a direct link between the Iranian state and the supply of these weapons,” a ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with departmental policy.

The UN has prohibited weapons transfers to the Houthis since 2014, when the rebels descended from their northern stronghold, toppled the internationally recognized government of Yemen and seized the capital, Sanaa. Iran has long denied arming the rebels.

The commercial quadcopter seized by the Royal Navy is designed for reconnaissance flights, the ministry said.

Investigators were able to decrypt the data on the aircraft’s internal memory, which hadn’t been wiped. That’s where they discovered the records of 22 test flights conducted at the Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace headquarters in western Tehran, the ministry said.

The drone was in the same shipment as a number of surface-to-air missiles and components for Iranian Project 351 land attack cruise missiles.

The discovery adds to a growing body of evidence of Iranian interference in the conflict in Yemen, which has spawned one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

Western nations, UN experts and others have traced Houthi weaponry ranging from night-vision scopes, rifles and missiles back to Tehran.

Most recently, French naval forces in the Gulf of Oman in January seized thousands of assault rifles, machine guns and anti-tank missiles coming from Iran and heading to the Houthis.

In November, the US Navy announced that it had found 70 tons of a missile fuel component hidden among bags of fertilizer aboard a ship sailing to Yemen from Iran.

Source: Arab News

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Spanish rescue teams praise Turkish people's 'extraordinary solidarity' during search efforts

Şenhan Bolelli  



Spanish rescue teams on Monday praised the support of local people and authorities during their mission in southern Türkiye, which was hit by two powerful earthquakes last week.

Spain was one of the countries that responded most rapidly to Türkiye's call for international assistance last Monday, when the twin earthquakes struck.

The team of 84 people consisting of logistics, coordination and health personnel was sent to Türkiye together with a field hospital equipped with the latest technology and drugs, capable of caring for 150-200 patients per day, hosting 20 people in beds, and performing surgery.

After completing their work on the ground, three teams from Spanish non-governmental organizations returned to their country.

"The love and solidarity we saw was incredible and we are glad to have done a good job. It was very difficult and we tried to do our best," Cinthia Morales, a member of the Firefighters Without Borders team, told Anadolu at the Madrid's Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas.

"We are glad to have done a good job. It was very difficult and we tried to do our best. We worked very well and coordinated with the Turkish authorities and volunteers," she added.

Morales underlined that she had experienced very difficult times during the rescue efforts in Türkiye, saying that there were tough moments, especially when they realize that the condition of a person they pulled from the rubble was taking a turn for the worse.

"Those moments were very difficult. We were worried for the person's life, but we brought them back to life with the intervention of our team and paramedics," she said.

Florentino Luque, another member of the rescue team, said they helped locate and remove a person stuck under the rubble.

"We also talked to the hospital where he was taken and heard that he was in good health. That's enough for us," he said.

He also voiced appreciation for the love that the Turkish people showed towards them from the first moment of their arrival.

"They treated us very well. They made everything easy and helpful. The experience we had with the Turkish people was extraordinary for us. They were with us at every moment and tried to help us," he said.

"We need to mention that the (local) people met us with an utter, extraordinary solidarity," he added

At least 31,643 people were killed by two strong earthquakes that jolted southern Türkiye last Monday, according to the latest official figures.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes, centered in the Kahramanmaras province, affected more than 13 million people across 10 provinces, including Hatay, Gaziantep, Adiyaman, Malatya, Adana, Diyarbakir, Kilis, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa.

Several countries in the region, including Syria and Lebanon, also felt the strong tremors that struck Türkiye in less than 10 hours.

Nearly 238,500 search and rescue personnel are currently working in the field, and over 158,00 people have been evacuated from the quake-hit regions so far, according to the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD).

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Berlin slams Israeli decision to legalize 9 West Bank outposts

Oliver Towfigh Nia



A German Foreign Ministry spokesperson on Monday condemned Israel’s decision to legalize nine illegal outposts in the occupied West Bank and turn them into new settlements.

Germany is “extremely concerned” about the announcement by the Israeli government regarding the new settlement outposts which are illegal under Israeli law, Christian Wagner told media representatives in Berlin.

Such unilateral actions lead to "intensified tensions between Israelis and Palestinians and we expect that these measures will not be implemented. It is now more important that talks are given a chance again,” Wagner added.

Despite being a staunch ally of Israel, Germany has time and again gone out of its way to criticize the continued Israeli settlement building, saying it would only further complicate the so-called Middle East peace process.

An Israeli ministerial committee on Sunday approved a plan to cancel a legislation on disengagement from the northern West Bank that was enacted in 2005.

The plan would allow the construction of four settlements that were dismantled in 2005 by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Estimates indicate about 650,000 settlers are living in 164 settlements and 116 outposts in the occupied West Bank.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Greek youth choir to take to stage for solidarity with Türkiye, Syria after major quakes

Handan Kazanci  


A Greek youth choir named after a well-known Greek composer and political activist is set to take to the stage on Tuesday in solidarity with the people affected by last week's massive earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, the event organizers announced.

With two songs by Mikis Theodorakis, the children's youth choir of the Mikis Theodorakis Museum of Zatouna, led by conductor Stefanos Kardiolakas, will send “a message of love and solidarity to the children” in Türkiye and Syria affected by the earthquakes, according to a statement Sunday from the Mikis Theodorakis Museum.

The event will take place on Tuesday at Mikis Theodorakis’ house museum near the Acropolis in the capital Athens.

Theodorakis, a renowned composer and political activist who passed away in 2021, remains popular in Türkiye, as he strived for enduring friendship between the Turkish and Greek nations.

When a cataclysmic earthquake, claiming more than 18,000 lives, hit northwestern Türkiye in 1999, one of the first rescue teams to come to the country was from Greece, despite the countries’ traditional rivalry.

The same year, a solidarity concert was held in Istanbul with the participation of Theodorakis, his orchestra, Greek singer Maria Maria Faradouri, and Turkish composer and writer Zulfu Livaneli.

Greece was also one of the first countries to assist Türkiye in the wake of last week's earthquake, and took part in dramatic rescues of people trapped under rubble.

Theodorakis was best known for his original soundtrack to award-winning 1964 film Zorba the Greek. He won the BAFTA Prize for original music for the film Z in 1969, Phaedra in 1962, and Serpico in 1973.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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NATO in 'strong solidarity' with quake-hit Türkiye, alliance chief says

Nur Asena Erturk


NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg expressed Monday the military alliance's "strong solidarity" with Türkiye after two earthquakes killed more than 31,000 people last week.

"Our thoughts remain with the Turkish people following last week's devastating earthquakes," Stoltenberg said at a press conference in Brussels.

"Thousands of emergency response personnel from the NATO allies have been supporting the relief efforts, including with search and rescue teams, firefighters, medical personnel, and seismic experts."

He announced that the alliance and its members have agreed "to deploy shelter facilities to help accommodate people displaced by the earthquakes."

"We stand in strong solidarity with our ally Türkiye," Stoltenberg said.

Asked about the possible installation date of these shelters in Türkiye, Stoltenberg said it will be "as soon as possible."

"I am not able to give you an exact date, but allies and NATO are working hard to deliver as much support as quickly as possible," he explained.

The NATO chief added that the organization also provided support in terms of transportation.

"I think it is important both to make sure that we get support quickly but also to ensure that we actually are able to stay," he said, and stressed that the earthquakes will have long-term consequences.

Stoltenberg reiterated his condolences to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

More than 31,600 people have died and over 80,000 others injured in two strong earthquakes that jolted southern Türkiye on Feb. 6, according to the latest official figures.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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North Macedonia declares day of national mourning over earthquakes in Türkiye, Syria

Talha Ozturk  



North Macedonia decided Sunday to declare a national day of mourning over last week’s devastating earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria.

"We have declared tomorrow (Monday) a day of mourning in memory of those who lost their lives in the devastating earthquakes that hit the border region of Türkiye and Syria. The thoughts and prayers of the citizens of North Macedonia are with the relatives and families of those who lost their lives,'' said Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski.

He added that North Macedonia will continue to help and support Türkiye and Syria.

"On behalf of all the citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia, I express my condolences to all those who lost their loved ones. As a state and as a people, we will continue to help, we will be in solidarity and we will be a support for the suffering citizens, for those who lost everything,'' said Kovacevski.

Flags will be lowered at half-staff across the country and at the diplomatic representations of North Macedonia abroad.

The Albanian government also declared Monday a national day of mourning for the victims of the tragedy at the Turkish-Syrian border.

At least 29,605 people were killed by two strong earthquakes that jolted southern Türkiye last Monday, the country's disaster agency said Sunday.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes, affected more than 13 million people across 10 provinces, including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa.

Several countries in the region, including Syria and Lebanon, also felt the strong tremors.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Russian diplomat says external pressure, sanctions no obstacle to cooperation with Iran

13 February 2023

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova says external pressure and sanctions cannot impede her country's cooperation with Iran, stressing that the ongoing illegal restrictions will only help boost the mutual relations.

She said on Monday that Russia and Iran "are cultivating mutually beneficial cooperation" with paying no heed to the West’s opinion, Russia's TASS news agency reported.

"External pressure and sanctions are no obstacle for that. Rather quite the opposite, the illegitimate restrictions even have the ability to help strengthen the positive tendencies of the growth in Russia-Iranian trade, which had emerged over the past years," Zakharova added.

The Russian diplomat emphasized that Tehran and Moscow managed to increase trade cooperation by 20.2% in 2022 "and nearly reached five billion US dollars."

"Businessmen are entering new markets and occupying product niches. Logistics and payment infrastructure are being enhanced," she said.

"It creates conditions for the further expansion of bilateral cooperation, first and foremost, in the trade-and-economic sphere," the spokeswoman pointed out.

She emphasized that the two countries are moving in the path of safeguarding the interests of their peoples.

Iran and Russia both have been targeted with US-led sanctions in recent years, but the sanctions have failed to secure Western countries’ interests.

Source: Press TV

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Thousands hold fresh protests against Israeli prime minister's controversial 'judicial reforms'

13 February 2023

Thousands of protesters have demonstrated outside the Israeli parliament and elsewhere across the occupied territories against a reform plan proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right cabinet, which seeks to change the regime's judicial system and weaken the supreme court.

In the occupied city of al-Quds, the crowds stretched from the Israeli parliament, past the supreme court building and all along Yoel Zusman Street.

According to Israel's Channel 12 television network, the main traffic routes into al-Quds were blocked off as convoys of vehicles carrying thousands more demonstrators continued to make their way to the protest site.

“We will not stay quiet,” the leader of the opposition, Yair Lapid, said, adding, “We will not stay quiet as they destroy everything that is precious ... to us.”

Thousands more have rallied in other cities and towns around the Israeli-occupied territories.

Parents and students also held a massive protest in the coastal city of Tel Aviv, chanting slogans against the move proposed by Netanyahu's far-right cabinet. Police closed several roads in northern Tel Aviv as protesters marched in the streets.

Dozens of protesters blocked the entrance to Ben Gurion Airport.

In another rally in Tel Aviv, several demonstrators from a group called Stop the Coup blocked the entrance to the home of Yitzhak Wasserlauf, who is one of Netanyahu's ministers from Otzma Yehudit far-right political party.

The group issued a statement, denouncing the steps taken by the prime minister's extremist cabinet, and vowing to take all peaceful steps to stop the 'judicial reforms plan.'

Hundreds of tech startups, law firms, and other private sector companies allowed their employees to take part in the massive protests, while thousands of doctors and mental health professionals were also expected to join.

Among the almost 300 tech companies and venture capital funds that have expressed support for their workers to join the civil strike are Payoneer, Pitango, Kaltura, Lemonade, Riskified, Wiz, Fireblocks, Appsflyer, Similarweb, IronSource, Natural Intelligence, Plantish, TLV Partners, Econcrete, Team8, Ultrasight, Algosec, Qumra Capital, Vertex Ventures, and Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP).

Leaders of the Monday protest by tech companies said they hoped to “send a message, loud and clear” that they are opposed to legal changes, emphasizing their crucial role in the regime's economy.

This came after Israel's president, Isaac Herzog, issued a rare plea for deliberation and compromise on the plan late on Sunday, warning that Israel was “on the verge of legal and social collapse.”

Herzog, who holds a largely ceremonial role, urged Netanyahu's right-wing administration to stop the legislative process and hold talks with the opposition in hopes of reaching a compromise.

Meanwhile, a former head of the regime's Mossad spy agency, Tamir Pardo, has warned that the controversial 'judicial reform' plan would turn Israel into “a place that I wouldn’t want to live in.”

Protests have taken place around the occupied territories since Netanyahu's move to reform the judiciary.

Opponents argue that the legal changes threaten the independence of judges and weaken oversight of the ruling cabinet and parliament. They also say the plan will undermine the rights of minorities and open the door to more corruption.

Politicians from Netanyahu’s Likud party have long accused the Israeli supreme court of being dominated by leftist judges. They claim that the judges encroach on areas outside their authority for political reasons.

Source: Press TV

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Turkiye requests Pakistan to send surgical equipment, tents, dry fruits

February 13, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Turkish government requested Pakistan to send surgical equipment, tents, blankets, and dry fruits for the quake victims, sources said.

The government of Pakistan National Emergency Operation Center (NEOC) is in contact with the Turkish government through their ambassador in Pakistan.

Turkiye has appealed to Pakistan not to send medical teams and medicines at present.

According to the Turkish government, medical teams from all over the world are arriving with medicines, so currently the victims need family tents, blankets and dry food due to the severe cold.

The Turkish government has appealed to Pakistan to send surgical equipments and medical devices.

According to the Turkish government, earthquake victims need major and minor surgeries. As the number of surgeries increases, there is a shortage of surgical equipment and medical devices.

Sources say that Pakistan has agreed to send surgical equipments and medical devices to Turkiye and the first batch of the equipment will be sent this week via air.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Official: President Rayeesi to Pursue Strategic Partnership Agreement in China Visit


President Rayeesi is set to pay an official visit to Beijing at the head of a high-ranking delegation to hold high-level talks with Chinese officials on the mutual issues.

On the eve of the trip, Jamshidi said the president's visit to Beijing is focused on getting the comprehensive cooperation agreement with China implemented.

"President Rayeesi will be accompanied by the president of the Central Bank of Iran and ministers of economy, foreign affairs, agricultural jihad, roads and urban development, industry, mine and trade as well as oil during the three day visit," he added.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kana'ani has also said at his weekly press briefing on Monday that the visit is a sign of very good political relationships between Iran and China, and an indication of the political will of the high-ranking officials of the two countries to expand bilateral ties.

The trip is a very important development in the field of bilateral relations between Iran and China, and will create a leap in cooperation between Tehran and Beijing, he told reporters.

"The program is a road map for cooperation between the two countries, and in this regard, several agreements have been prepared and are being finalized, and documents will be signed between Iran and China," he added.

The spokesman said top Iranian and Chinese officials will exchange views on different political, cultural, economic and trade issues during President Rayeesi’s visit.

Referring to Iran-China 25-year comprehensive cooperation program, the diplomat stated, "The president's visit to China can create a suitable leap in the implementation of the plans and projects envisaged in this program."

Kana'ani stated Iran and China are planning to finalize their 25- Year comprehensive strategic partnership agreement in the near future, adding that the document would serve as a roadmap to long-term collaboration between the two nations. 

Rayeesi is accompanied by a number of cabinet ministers, including Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Oil Minister Javad Owji and Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Ehsan Khandouzi.

During his three-day stay, Iran's president is scheduled to meet and hold multi-faceted talks with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.

The two sides’ delegations will also sign cooperation documents. Tehran and Beijing are expected to discuss ways to speed up the implementation of the 25-year Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement that was signed in March 2021.

Back in March 2021, Iran and China signed a 25-year comprehensive strategic partnership deal to strengthen their long-standing economic and political alliance. It aims to boost economic cooperation between the two countries and paves the way for Iran’s participation in the Belt and Road Initiative, a massive infrastructure project stretching from East Asia to Europe.

Iran and China have enjoyed close ties in recent years, particularly after the United States reinstated sanctions on the Iranian economy in 2018 after unilaterally withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement.

The US has increasingly targeted Chinese companies over cooperation with Iran as the prospects of reviving the agreement have dimmed due to Washington’s refusal to fully honor the deal.

Source: Fars News Agency

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IRGC Qods Force Commander Visits Quake-Hit Areas in Syria's Lattakia


The commander of Iran’s Quds Force visited Syria’s Lattakia Province to assess the needs of people after the recent massive earthquakes that rocked the region.

Qaani also met with the governor of Lattakia and exchanged views with him over ways of providing the quake-hit people with relief aid.

The top commander arrived in Syrian city of Aleppo on Wednesday, paying a visit to one of the centers that have been set up by Tehran to render assistance to the stricken nation.

Iran has already sent aid to Syria’s quake zone as well as that in Turkey.

A 7.8 magnitude tremor, one of the strongest to hit the region in more than 100 years, struck Southeastern Turkey and Northwestern Syria last Monday, killing at least 36,000 people, injuring tens of thousands more and reducing hundreds of buildings to rubble.

Iranian officials, including President Seyed Ebrahim Rayeesi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, have reaffirmed Tehran’s support for the governments and people of Syria and Turkey.

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei has also offered condolences to the peoples of the quake-hit nations, assuring them of Tehran's continued assistance.

"We are sorry to hear what happened to our brothers in Syria and Turkey. We pray that the souls of the victims rest in peace, and we ask God to grant their families patience," the Leader noted.

Source: Fars News Agency

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World Leaders Continue to Congratulate Iran on Victory Anniversary of Islamic Revolution


President of Pakistan Arif Alvi, on behalf of the government and the people of Pakistan, felicitated Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on the 44th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

Meantime, Secretary-General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement (PIJ) Ziad Al-Nakhaleh sent a congratulatory message to Iran’s President Seyed Ebrahim Rayeesi on the occasion.

North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui also felicitated his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir Abdollahian.

In a relevant development, Nur Alem, the spherical building in the Kazakh capital, was lit on February 11 with colors of the Iranian flag to mark the 44th anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution.

Through this spherical building which is visible almost from all parts of Astana, Kazakhstan, the victory anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran was celebrated.

A large number of senior officials from different world countries had already congratulated Iran on this auspicious day.

February 11, 1979, is the day when the Islamic Revolution gained victory and the Islamic Republic was founded in Iran by Imam Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic Revolution.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Three people rescued in Turkey nearly 198 hours after devastating earthquake

14 February ,2023

An 18-year-old named Muhammed Cafer was rescued from the rubble of a building in southern Turkey on Tuesday, the third rescue of the morning some 198 hours after last week’s devastating earthquake, broadcaster CNN Turk said.

Last Monday’s quake and a major aftershock have killed more than 37,000 people in southern Turkey and northwest Syria, according to official tallies expected to rise much higher.

In Turkey’s Adiyman province, broadcasters showed rescue workers carrying Cafer strapped on a stretcher, an oxygen mask on his face and a health worker holding an IV bag, from the site of the collapsed building to a waiting ambulance.

Cafer could be seen moving his fingers as he was carried away.

A short while earlier, rescue workers pulled two brothers alive from the ruins of an apartment block in neighboring Kahramanmaras province.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Jerusalem Christians say they feel growing harassment

13 February ,2023

For several weeks, members of the small Christian community in Jerusalem’s Old City say they have felt under pressure from what they say is growing harassment and intimidation from violent Jewish ultranationalists.

Earlier this month, a man later identified by church authorities as a Jewish radical was wrestled to the ground and detained after he allegedly vandalized a statue of Jesus in the Church of the Flagellation. The church stands at the place where Christ is held to have taken the cross after being condemned to death by crucifixion.

“This is the church commemorating the suffering of Jesus, and exactly here, doing that is something very bad, very bad,” said Father Eugenio Alliata, responsible for the archeological collections at Terra Sancta Museum.

That incident followed a series of others, including one in which graffiti reading “Death to Armenians” and “Death to Christians” were scrawled in Hebrew on the walls of the Armenian Convent of Saint James, early in January.

“In the past two months, I would say, since the beginning of the new government, attacks like this are becoming very, very usual,” said Miran Krikorian, a restaurant owner in the Old City. “And the problem is that we are feeling that there’s nothing we can do about it.”

Israeli police say they have stepped up patrols around Christian sites in Jerusalem as churches report abuse by Jews following the swearing-in of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-right government.

As well as the statue defacement, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the office of the Latin rite Roman Catholic Archbishop of Jerusalem, said there had been at least four other reported incidents of vandalism or violent harassment.

In one, a group of religious Jews had thrown chairs and tables around an area near the headquarters of the Custody of the Holy Land, creating a “battleground” in the Christian quarter. In another, a Christian cemetery in Jerusalem was vandalized, it said.

No comment was available from a spokesman for Itamar Ben-Gvir, the ultranationalist Jewish settler in charge of police in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s six-week-old coalition - though both men have pledged to safeguard all citizens.

“When there is no strict reaction from the government, it is not only encouraging these people to behave in the same way, but it also gives us the feeling that the government wants to behave to the Christian minorities in this way,” said Father Aghan Gogchian, chancellor of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

The cramped warren of alleyways that makes up the Old City surrounds some of the holiest sites for Jews, Christians and Muslims, and the local communities have long developed ways of living together.

Police said an American suspect had been sent for psychiatric evaluation ahead of his likely deportation over the vandalism of the statue.

Queried by Reuters, police did not directly address the allegations that anti-Christian incidents were on the rise. But they said arrests had been carried out, and some indictments filed, in all of the cases cited.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Soaring demolitions of Palestinian homes must stop: UN experts

13 February ,2023

United Nations rights experts called Monday on the world community to act to stop a dramatic surge in Israel’s “systematic and deliberate” demolition of Palestinian housing.

In the month of January alone, Israeli authorities reportedly demolished 132 Palestinian structures across 38 communities in the occupied West Bank, including 34 residential structures, the three independent experts said in a statement.

The Special Rapporteurs for rights in the Palestinian Territory, the right to adequate housing and the rights of internally displaced people, said the demolitions marked a 135-percent increase compared to January 2022.

The figures are based on those of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

“The systematic demolition of Palestinian homes, erection of illegal Israeli settlements and systematic denial of building permits for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank amounts to ‘domicide’,” they said.

In late 2022, the Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, Balakrishnan Rajagopal, called for “domicide” -- defined as the massive, arbitrary destruction of civilian housing in violent conflict -- to be recognized as a crime under international law.

“Direct attacks on the Palestinian people’s homes, schools, livelihoods and water sources are nothing but Israel’s attempts to curtail the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and to threaten their very existence,” the experts said in Monday’s statement.

The experts, who are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council but who do not speak on behalf of the United Nations, reiterated their concern over the situation in the occupied West Bank’s Masafer Yatta villages.

They warned that more than 1,100 Palestinian residents there remained at “imminent risk of forced eviction, arbitrary displacement and demolitions of their homes, livelihood, water and sanitation structures.”

“Israel’s tactics of forcibly displacing and evicting the Palestinian population appear to have no limits,” they said.

“In occupied East Jerusalem, tens of Palestinian families also face imminent risks of forced evictions and displacement, due to discriminatory zoning and planning regimes that favor Israeli settlement expansion - the act that is illegal under international law and amounts to a war crime.”

The experts’ statement came a day after Israel’s security cabinet announced it would legalize nine settlements in the occupied West Bank following a series of attacks in east Jerusalem.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Houthis block Yemeni traders from using government-controlled ports


February 13, 2023

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: Hundreds of trucks and tankers full of supplies and fuel are stuck outside Houthi-controlled regions after the Yemeni militia prevented local traders from importing goods through the government-controlled port city of Aden in protest of the government’s decision to hike the customs exchange rate.

Local media reports, witnesses and government officials said that long convoys of goods and fuel vehicles were reportedly prevented from entering Houthi-controlled regions via the militia’s customs stations in Taiz, Al-Bayda, Dhale and Sanaa provinces after they broke the Houthi embargo on importing commodities from Aden and the other government-controlled ports.

Social media images and videos showed large lines of trucks carrying containers, steel, petrol and other items parked in front of checkpoints manned by the Houthis in Al-Rahida, Nehim and Afar.

“We are Sanaa’s authority. We are in ruins. Disgrace on you. Come up and speak to the people,” a truck driver said loudly outside a Houthi-manned customs facility in Al-Rahida in a social media video.

Traders in the Houthi-controlled areas have complained about increasing charges levied by the Houthis when they import items from the government-controlled areas.

They accuse the Houthis of harassing them to push them to import goods via the Houthi-controlled western port of Hodeidah.

“The group is now barring any commercial cargo from entering its area if it is processed in line with the new customs regulations, causing several trucks to be delayed for days at the ports between the two sides,” a government official, who requested anonymity, told Arab News.

In January, the internationally recognized government of Yemen increased the dollar customs exchange rate by 50 percent from YER 500 ($2) to YER 750 among other economic measures, in an effort to increase revenues.

The government is on the verge of bankruptcy after Houthi drone attacks on oil facilities in southern Yemen halted oil exports, its primary source of revenue.

The decision has sparked outrage among Yemenis and experts, who have warned of skyrocketing prices for goods and fuel.

The decision has also prompted the Yemeni parliament to request that the government seek alternative methods to increase revenues that would not harm the public, such as combating corruption effectively and collecting revenues from provinces.

Last week, an Aden court ordered the Yemeni government to suspend its decision to raise the customs exchange rate until the government’s officials attend the proceedings.

The court’s order came after a local journalist and attorney sued the government.

Despite the pressure, the Yemeni government official told Arab News it will not revoke the decision as it is the only option available to generate earnings, stating that the international community is behind the move.

“We will continue with the reforms because the alternative is a withdrawal from the issuance of printed money, which would result in an unparalleled economic collapse, including a devaluation of the currency,” the government official said.

“Oil exports used to account for 80 percent of the country’s income, and there is no way to compensate for this loss in the long term,” said the official.

Fatehi bin Lazerq, editor of Aden Al-Ghad newspaper who sued the government, told Arab News that he expected the Yemeni government to defy public pressure and proceed with the decision to increase the customs exchange rate.

Source: Arab News

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Türkiye won’t open border gates with Syria in YPG/PKK-controlled areas, foreign minister says

Zehra Nur Duz  


Türkiye will not open border crossings in areas controlled by the YPG/PKK in Syria following two powerful earthquakes that rocked both countries last week, the country’s foreign minister said on Monday.

“We told the international community and the UN that they could send humanitarian aid through the two gates under our control. We said that we can open these gates to humanitarian aid,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said during a joint news conference with his Libyan counterpart Najla al-Mangoush in Ankara, Türkiye’s capital.

The top diplomat was referring to the two border crossings into Syria in the southern Turkish province of Kilis.

“It is our humanitarian duty to facilitate aid to Syrian people after the deadly quakes,” he said.

Cavusoglu, however, added: “It is out of question for Türkiye to open border crossings in places (in Syria) controlled by the PKK and YPG.”

For years, the UN has sent humanitarian aid to Syria through just one border crossing, Cilvegozu, in southern Turkish province of Hatay, but it was damaged in the massive earthquakes last Monday.

The Turkish foreign minister denied the allegations that there was an influx of refugees from Syria to Türkiye after the twin quakes.

“Spreading misinformation to provoke the public is not a friendly approach,” he warned.

“Türkiye may open its airspace if Belgium or other European countries want to take Syrian people in Syria or Syrian refugees in our country to their own countries,” he added.

Türkiye continues to receive support from all over world after quakes

Cavusoglu said Libya sent messages of solidarity and support soon after the earthquakes hit.

“Libya sent 25 search and rescue personnel and 59 healthcare personnel to our country on Feb. 7, immediately after the quakes. Later, an additional 12 healthcare personnel arrived in our country. They established a mobile hospital in the southern Hatay province,” he said.

Türkiye has still been receiving support from all over the world since the twin quakes struck last Monday, Cavusoglu said.

“We have received offers for aid from 99 countries and 16 international organizations. As of Feb. 13, a total of 9,401 personnel from 77 countries are working in the field, while 747 additional personnel are currently on their way to reach the disaster area,” he elaborated.

“Foreign countries and organizations have made a commitment to supply a total of 96,561 tents. We are working to bring them to our country," he added.

Libya to provide $50M in aid to Türkiye

Mangoush, for her part, said: “We must help each other in this difficult time. Türkiye has provided great support to the Libyan people under all situations throughout history. Our duty now is to be with you in this difficult time."

She pledged that Libya will provide $50 million in aid to Türkiye in 10 days at the latest.

“As Muslim countries, we must support each other in difficult times. Türkiye has always stood by Libya. This is an opportunity to show our solidarity to the Turkish government and people,” she added.

Cavusoglu on Monday also met with Equatorial Guinea’s Foreign Minister Simeon Oyono Esono Angue in Ankara.

“We thanked Angue for his solidarity visit to Türkiye in the aftermath of the earthquake,” he said on Twitter.

Separately, Cavusoglu held phone conversations with Ghana's Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey and Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi on Monday.

Cavusoglu discussed the situation and relief efforts following last week's massive earthquakes with his counterparts, according to the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

At least 31,643 people were killed and over 80,000 others wounded after the magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes struck southern Türkiye within the space of less than 10 hours on Feb. 6, affecting around 13 million people, according to the latest official figures.

The earthquakes, centered in Kahramanmaras, also hit nine other provinces – Hatay, Gaziantep, Adiyaman, Malatya, Adana, Diyarbakir, Kilis, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa.

Several countries in the region, including Syria and Lebanon, also felt the strong tremors.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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North America


US grooming Islamist militants for attack, Russian spy service claims

Feb 13, 2023

By Mallika Soni

Russia's foreign spy service said that it had received intelligence that the US military was grooming Islamist militants to attack Russia. The Russian foreign intelligence service, known by the initials SVR, is headed by an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin- Sergei Naryshkin. The agency was once part of the Soviet-era KGB.

It said that intelligence showed that 60 such militants from groups affiliated with Islamic State and al Qaeda had been recruited by the US and were undergoing training at an American base in Syria, Reuters reported.

"They will be tasked with preparing and carrying out terrorist attacks against diplomats, civil servants, law enforcement officers and personnel of the armed forces," said the Foreign Intelligence Service.

"Special attention is paid to attracting immigrants from the Russian North Caucasus and Central Asia," the statement added without publishing the intelligence behind the claim.

The agency's head Sergei Naryshkin met CIA Director William Burns last year in Ankara. This comes as Russian defence ministry said that its troops have advanced 2 kilometres to the west in four days along Ukraine's frontline.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Chicago mayoral candidates vow to restore Arab American role in city affairs


February 14, 2023

CHICAGO: Several candidates running for the office of mayor of Chicago have pledged to restore the role and involvement of the Arab American community in the affairs of the city, and reintroduce Arab cultural events and organizations that were were forced to close under a former mayor and were not reintroduced by the incumbent, Lori Lightfoot.

Speaking on Sunday to an audience of more than 450 people at a candidates’ forum and brunch in Bridgeview, hosted by the Arab American Democratic Club, the largest Arab American political organization in the Midwest, several of the hopefuls running in the election on Feb. 28 vowed to reverse what they described as Lightfoot’s “discriminatory practices,” and said restoration of the role of Arab Americans was a requirement of good public leadership.

“No one should be discriminated against because of their race or their religion,” said Willie Wilson, an African American.

“When I become mayor of the City of Chicago, we will not close down Arab businesses or any businesses. We believe in inclusion. We believe every citizen of the City of Chicago should be represented in that office. We believe every agency should reflect the population of Chicago … We have to get everyone involved to make this a better city.”

When Lightfoot was elected in 2019, one of her campaign pledges was to restore Arab rights eroded by her predecessor, Rahm Emanuel. His father was a member of the Irgun paramilitary group in Israel that was designated as a terrorist organization by the British Mandate government in 1947.

When Emanuel became mayor of Chicago, his actions contributed to the cancellation of the annual Arabesque Festival. His administration withdrew the city’s support for the event after Jewish activists complained that the Palestinian flag was on display during it, among other flags from the Arab World.

He also closed the Arab Advisory Council, which addressed allegations of anti-Arab discrimination, and marginalized the participation of Arabs in city commissions and events.

When Emanuel, who is now the US ambassador to Japan, retired as mayor in 2019 he was succeeded by Lightfoot, a former prosecutor who highlighted her minority status, as an African American and a lesbian, and vowed to support Arab Americans. But after taking office, she was accused of targeting Arab-owned small businesses in an effort to crack down on rising gun violence in the city. More than 100 Arab-owned stores were closed.

Wilson, a wealthy Chicago businessman, vowed to “include Arab Americans” in his administration.

“We will continue to support you and it doesn’t matter what color you are,” he said. “This is not just a Black and Brown situation; this is Black, Brown, white, Arab American, Latino and others.

“This is our city and we have to embrace this together … I am definitely one of you.”

Other candidates echoed this call for Arab activism in Chicago, including Paul Vallas, who previously served as Chicago’s budget director and as CEO of the Chicago Public Schools system.

“I will restore the Arab Advisory Council when I am elected mayor,” Vallas said. “Why is there even a debate about this? It will be restored. That advisory council will be empowered to make recommendations. We will resource the Arab Advisory Council so they can evaluate and recommend programs.

“We will work with the community to find individuals who will be put into positions of leadership. It will happen. I will ask you about who should be on the advisory council, what type of resources the advisory council will need and what role that advisory council will play in building and assembling the government I will bring in, in drawing from the community when I become mayor. It will be a robust council that you will pick.”

Vallas highlighted his long history of working with the Arab community in Chicago, including his role in the development of a cultural and language curriculum guide for the more than 500,000 Arab American students in the city’s school system.

Vallas said he “helped place Arab Americans in positions of leadership at the Chicago school board” and noted that his father-in-law, Dean Koldenhoven, fought for Muslim rights while mayor of the Chicago suburb of Palos Heights when, in the summer of 2000, residents opposed the opening of a Mosque there.

Koldenhoven failed to win re-election after supporting the mosque but was honored for his principled stand when he received the “Profiles in Courage Award” from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in May 2002.

Congressman Jesus Garcia, another of the mayoral candidates, reminded Arab Americans of how the community had worked with former Mayor Harold Washington to establish the Arab Advisory Council in 1983, and presented himself as a long-time advocate of Arab American and Muslim rights.

“My commitment to the inclusion, the advancement and the well-being of the Arab American community here in metro Chicago, and nationally, remains steadfast,” he said.

“It is very important that we continue our efforts in the US Congress to expose and to oppose and speak out whenever we see any vestiges or signs of Islamophobia. That is my position because I know what Muslims are. I know who they are and they are my closest friends as well.”

Garcia said his staff includes several Arab and Muslim Americans. He welcomed the election of Abdelnasser Rashid and Nabeela Syed to the Illinois state legislature in January, and said he had defended Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who was removed this month from the House Foreign Relations Committee by Republicans critical of her support for Palestinian rights.

Garcia said he is also pushing for Minority Owned Enterprise status for Arab American business owners on a national level, in line with legislation introduced late last year in the Illinois Legislature by State Rep. Cyril Nichols.

AADC officials said Lightfoot declined an invitation to speak at the event on Sunday. Instead, she sent a non-Arab emissary who, in a short statement, said Lightfoot respects the rights of the Arab community. He declined to comment about the closure of Arab-owned stores in 2021 and 2022.

“She (Lightfoot) has not been responsive to our community at all. She wouldn’t meet with us,” said AADC President Samir Khalil, who worked with the American Arab Chamber of Commerce on efforts to force Lightfoot to allow the shuttered businesses to reopen.

Store owner Saad Malley, who also worked with the shuttered Arab businesses to help them reopen, said: “She can’t pretend that it didn’t happen. So many Arab business owners saw their businesses closed for no other reason than they were Arab American.”

Source: Arab News

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At least 3 dead, 5 injured in shooting at Michigan State University

February 14, 2023

At least three people were killed and five injured after a gunman opened fire at Michigan State University on Monday night, as law enforcement swarmed the main campus in East Lansing searching for a lone suspect, police said.

Few official details about the gun violence were immediately available, but Chris Rozman, interim deputy chief of the university police, said shots were fired in two locations — at an academic building called Berkey Hall and the Michigan State University Union building.

Police responding to the shooting, which began shortly after 8pm Eastern time, found victims at both locations, Rozman told reporters at a televised late-night briefing about three hours later.

He confirmed that at least five victims were transported to the hospital, some of them with life-threatening injuries, and MSU police issued an update by Twitter a short time later saying that at least three additional people had been killed.

Hours after the first gunfire erupted, several campus buildings had been cleared and secured by police as officers swept the campus in search of possible additional victims and a single suspect, MSU police said.

Students, faculty and residents in surrounding off-campus neighborhoods of East Lansing, about 90 miles northwest of Detroit, were urged by authorities to “shelter in place,” while the manhunt continued.

The suspect, initially described as a short male wearing a mask, was last seen fleeing the MSU Union building on foot, Rozman said.

MSU is a major public institution of higher education whose flagship East Lansing campus accounts for 50,000 graduate and undergraduate students. University police said Monday night that all classes and campus activities would be canceled for the next 48 hours.

Monday night’s violence came roughly 14 months after a deadly mass shooting on Nov 30, 2021, at Oxford High School in Oakland County, Michigan, about 80 miles east of East Lansing, in which a 15-year-old student opened fire with a semi-automatic pistol.

Four classmates were killed and six other students and a teacher were wounded in that attack, the deadliest US school shooting that year.

Authorities said the teenage suspect, who has pleaded not guilty to murder charges, used a gun his parents bought him as a Christmas present despite signs that he was emotionally disturbed. Both parents were charged with involuntary manslaughter in the case.

Source: Dawn

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South Asia


Differences Emerge In Taliban Leadership As Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani Makes Public Criticism

Parwiz Karokhail

February 13, 2023

KABUL: Major differences have emerged within the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan, experts said on Monday, after a senior official described the country’s situation as “intolerable” over the weekend.

Acting Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani is in the spotlight following a critical comment on the current situation in Afghanistan during a public event on Saturday.

“The current situation is intolerable. If the public situation becomes worse and unstable, it is our responsibility to bring them closer to us,” Haqqani said.

The statement comes as Afghanistan plunges deeper into a humanitarian and economic crisis following the Taliban takeover in 2021. It also follows increasingly restrictive edicts targeting women that are seen as further isolating the country from the international community.

The minister’s remarks prompted a response from Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, who said that criticism of any leader or official should be said in private.

The latest developments, experts said, show how the Taliban are facing major differences within their leadership.

The Taliban are divided into two factions, said Hamza Momain Hakimi, a political science lecturer at the Salam University in Kabul.

One faction represents a minority but comprises powerful members, who hold important positions in Afghanistan and are “imposing their own narrow narrative from Islam,” Hakimi told Arab News.

The other faction represents a vast majority, he said, which refuses the minority opinion on many issues, including women’s role in Afghan society and policies related to their work and education.

“Such a statement from powerful people like Sirajuddin Haqqani shows clearly that there are factions within the Taliban,” Hakimi said. “There is a majority and there is a minority, but unfortunately, that minority is more powerful than the majority.”

Haqqani’s remarks also conveyed the concerns of the Afghan people, said Mohibullah Sharif, an Afghan political expert based in Kabul.

“Those are words and meanings that express what the Afghan people want,” Sharif told Arab News. “There is no doubt that there was a clear difference in the Islamic and political view of the leaders of the Taliban movement and currently among the leading personalities of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.”

Experts say these emerging differences might pave way for an internal conflict.

“The Afghan people want these differences between the leading personalities to end easily and safely because the problems between them will lead to a serious conflict in the country and Afghanistan will return to the civil war that occurred in the 90s,” Sharif said.

Sayed Baheir Sadat, an Afghan expert based in Germany, said the division within the Taliban is a big problem for the group and could potentially increase.

“This could again signal the risk of an internal war between Afghans,” Sadat told Arab News.

Source: Arab News

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Dozens of Radio Channels Stop Broadcasting in Taliban-Ruled Afghanistan

February 13, 2023


Economic hardship and media restrictions stemming from the 2021 return to power of Afghanistan's Taliban have reportedly forced approximately 34% of radio stations to shutter operations in the country, rendering hundreds of men and women jobless.

The Afghan Independent Journalists Union (AIJU), a Kabul-based local media monitor, released the figures Monday to mark World Radio Day.

AIJU President Hujatullah Mujadidi told VOA that 345 radio channels were operating in the country before the Taliban takeover in August 2021, employing nearly 5,000 people, 25% of them women.

But 117 stations have since ceased broadcasting due to economic problems, Mujadidi said, adding that 1,900 people, more than half of them women, subsequently lost their jobs.

The remaining 228 stations employ more than 1,800 workers, including a few dozen women.

International sanctions on Taliban leaders and the suspension of financial assistance have deepened economic troubles in the largely aid-dependent country, multiplying challenges facing the Afghan media industry.

Critics say increasing censorship and alleged abuses of journalists by Taliban authorities have severely undermined the Afghan free press.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported last November that more than 200 journalists had suffered "arbitrary arrest, ill-treatment, threats, and intimidation" since the Taliban retook the country.

Hundreds of Afghan journalists have since fled to neighboring Pakistan and other countries, fearing reprisals for their critical reporting while the Taliban were waging a deadly insurgency against the United States-backed former Afghan government in Kabul.

Global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders says within the first three months of the Taliban takeover in 2021, 43% of Afghan media outlets were shuttered, and 84% of female journalists lost their jobs.

Taliban authorities reject the accusations of abuse and blame the closures on lack of funding. Critics question that assertion.

The Taliban in late 2022 blocked VOA FM broadcasts, and in 2023 at least three privately owned telecoms companies blocked access to VOA's Pashto and Dari websites and the sites for Azadi Radio, run by VOA's sister network, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

In an interview with VOA's Afghan Service on Monday, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid did not directly respond to questions about why they ordered the broadcaster to be blocked.

"After the Taliban came to power, we have not blocked a single media outlet. All of them are active," Mujahid said. "Of course, there are amendments in the publications. The fundamental Shariah and Islamic problems that existed have been corrected."

The spokesperson said that any outlets that have shuttered did so because of a loss of funding and "due to the weak economy."

The Islamist rulers are also under fire for their sweeping restrictions on Afghan women, who are barred from receiving an education and from most workplaces in the country.

Source: VOA News

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Afghan journalists win case against UK govt over relocation

February 14, 2023

LONDON: Eight Afghan journalists who worked for the BBC broadcaster won a legal challenge on Monday against Britain’s refusal to relocate them from Afghanistan, which they said put them at high risk of being killed by the Taliban rulers.

The journalists’ lawyers told London’s High Court in December that the government had “betrayed the debt of gratitude” owed to them by refusing to relocate them after the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in Aug 2021.

Representatives for the government had argued that none of the eight were eligible for relocation under its Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP) programme.

David Blundell, a lawyer for the Ministry of Defence, said the Taliban’s perception that the BBC is a part of the British government was irrelevant. But Judge Peter Lane said in a written ruling that the perception was “clearly relevant” to the risks the journalists faced.

The decision on whether to relocate the eight will now have to be taken again, which their lawyers said would have be done within three weeks. The journalists were embedded with military personnel and worked on British government-funded projects, the lawyers said.

As part of their work, they spoke out against the Taliban and exposed corruption and abuse, resulting in numerous threats and attacks by Taliban fighters, the lawyers added. Erin Alcock, who represented the journalists, said her clients have been “living in fear for over 18 months”.

Source: Dawn

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Afghanistan’s Education System Needs Improvement, Hanafi Says

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

February 13, 2023

Taliban’s Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi says that unless the education system is improved, claiming to have an independent and prosperous country is impossible. 

The Deputy Prime Minister in a gathering at Kabul University said that the sole responsibility of a Mufti (religious scholar) is not forbidding. When a Mufti forbids something, he should introduce alternatives as well, he said.

“We will not be able to overcome the existing situation unless we realize the fact that the country’s education system needs immediate improvement,” Hanafi said. 

This senior Taliban member called on scholars of Afghanistan and the Muslim world to introduce enlightenment in the country, and help the ordinary people overcome the existing challenges.

This comes as the Taliban authorities have issued certain gender-based decrees barring Afghan women from the right to education, work, or appear in public places – a matter over which the Taliban leadership does not agree on each other. 

Taliban’s supreme leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada who has the support of the Taliban circle in Kandahar opposes the idea of girls’ education, and he has been able to implement his decisions over the cabinet in Kabul.

Some senior leaders of the Taliban have criticized the latest decisions, but have not been able to convince the supreme leader to revoke his decisions.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a senior spokesman for the Taliban said at a session at Kabul University on Sunday that criticism needs to be done privately, however, he also did not name anyone.

While addressing a religious gathering in Khost on Saturday, Sirajuddin Haqqani said he is frustrated with the situation, and without actually naming anyone, he spoke about the “monopolization of power” and “defaming the system” and “challenging it” and said the situation is unacceptable.

Source: Khaama Press

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Pakistan Sikhs Embracing Islam Face Tough Time; Afraid Of Their Own People

Feb 14, 2023

AMRITSAR: After Christians, Ahmadiyyas and Hindus, the Sikhs are the fourth largest minority in Pakistan converting to Islam. However, these new Muslims are afraid of their own people as they refuse to cooperate with them for discarding their birth religion.

These people are especially finding it difficult to fulfill formalities to get government documents on their new Muslim identities.

Muhammad Abdul Waris, general secretary, Huqooq-un-Naas Welfare Foundation, a Pakistan-based organisation, said impressed with its teachings, people from the minority communities embrace Islam. “In Pakistan, Hindus and Sikhs come at No. 3 and 4 respectively, while Christians and Ahmadiyyas stand at No. 1 and 2 as far as embracing Islam is concerned,” said Waris.

The other minority communities in Pakistan include Kalash, Buddhists, Bahai, Parsis and Zikris.

The Huqooq-un-Nass strives to educate, develop and resolve social, cultural and political issues of those who accept Islam as a religion, said Muhammad Abdul Waris, who was Waris Masih before embracing Islam.

On the reports of forcible conversions in Pakistan, Waris vehemently denied the allegations. He said this was a wrong presumption. Waris claimed that the news reports published in this regard were incorrect and biased.

Most of these cases were of runaway marriages, which were given altogether a different colour, and given negative coverage in the media, he reasoned.

“When I embraced Islam, my family members said I was forcibly converted. But I wonder, I myself didn’t know that I was being forced to embrace Islam,” he said sarcastically.

Waris, who was born as Christian, embraced Islam in 2006. He opined that the new Muslims faced various issues, including the threat from their own family members when they convert.

Source: Times Of India

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Imran claims Bajwa asked him to condemn Russia after Putin agreed to sell Pakistan cheap fuel

Mansoor Malik

February 14, 2023

LAHORE: Pakistan was created along the lines of an Islamic welfare state, but successive rulers pursued their vested interests and did not let rule of law prevail, which is a guarantee for democracy and prosperity in the country, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said on Monday.

In the current situation, Mr Khan said, the Constitution of Pakistan requires that fresh elections be held within 90 days of the dissolution of the assembly, but all state institutions were making lame excuses like funds shortage to delay elections — which would be a blatant violation of the Constitution.

Addressing intellectuals, religious scholars and students in a televised address from his Zaman Park residence on Monday, the former premier said he went to Russia and convinced President Vladimir Putin to give wheat and fuel at cheaper rates to Pakistan as being supplied to India.

Back home, he said, the former army chief asked him to condemn Russia for invading Ukraine.

Claims Gen Bajwa asked him to condemn Russia after he had convinced Putin to sell Pakistan cheap fuel, wheat

“I told the former army chief that India, which is a strategic ally of the US, was staying neutral and Pakistan should also not get involved in the war between two countries,” Khan said and added that to his surprise, the former army chief himself condemned Russia at a security seminar “to appease the US”.

“With the support of Russia, India reduced its inflation from 7.5 per cent to 5.5pc, but Pakistan’s inflation rate rose from 12pc to 30pc.

The PTI chairman alleged the past rulers had violated Pakistan’s sovereignty by focusing only on looting national wealth and then getting NROs to protect their loot.

“No system was allowed to prevail in Pakistan that could bring the powerful under the law and protect the fundamental rights of the weak,” he said.

Citing example of Singapore, Mr Khan said the country increased its per capita income to $60,000 after punishing its corrupt ministers and looters of national exchequer.

“In Pakistan, per capita income reduced to $2,000 just because it [the system] protected the looters and criminals for being powerful,” he said.

The former premier said his government introduced health card to offer quality healthcare services at public as well as private hospitals up to Rs1 million, which emerged as a massive social protection for the poor in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Islamabad, as well as, northern areas.

“It is a matter of grave concern that the incumbent PDM government rolled it [health card] back,” he alleged.

The PTI chairman urged the nation to join his ‘Haqeeqi Azadi’ (real freedom) movement to break shackles and bring the powerful under the law of the land.

Source: Dawn

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China’s central document highlights possibilities for agri cooperation with Pakistan

February 13, 2023

ISLAMABAD: China on Monday unveiled its “No. 1 central document” for 2023, outlining nine tasks in comprehensively promoting rural revitalization this year.

As the first policy statement released by China’s central authorities each year, the document is seen as an indicator of policy priorities for the Chinese government.

The policy initiative indicates another opening for Pakistan to collaborate with China for agriculture promotion which has a huge potential. Pakistan, basically an agri-based country, can massively turn around its economy through collaboration with China.

Per the document, work on agriculture and rural areas has been high on the agenda for 20 consecutive years since 2004. The document put emphasis on ensuring food security does not fall below baselines and ensuring there is no large-scale return to poverty.

China has eradicated extreme poverty as planned in 2020, 10 years ahead of the schedule set in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

It also called for the pushing through key tasks including rural development, rural construction, rural governance, as well as speeding up the construction of a strong agricultural country.

China’s grain output has remained above 650 million tonnes for eight consecutive years by 2022, while per-capita disposable income of rural residents reached 20,133 yuan ($2,968) for the year, up by 4.2 percent in real terms, official data showed.

After six months in China’s spacescraft under the first-ever Sino-Pak ‘Seeds in Space’ project, seven kinds of Pakistani medicinal seeds returned to the earth and their motherland Wednesday.

The seeds, three kinds provided by the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), University of Karachi and four by Hamdard University, have made history as the first to aboard the Chinese space station and opened a new chapter for S&T cooperation between China and Pakistan.

An extraterrestrial way to enhance food production

Space-bred varieties have proved to be able to perform better in terms of production and resistance, and the return of seeds from space is only the start.

After Pakistan’s medicinal seeds return to the earth, Pakistan and China will conduct joint research on their genetic stability, material basis, effectiveness and safety by comparing the seeds on board with their mother seeds on the earth to screen out new medicinal materials with higher quality and higher yield, Dr. Jiang Ning, Deputy Secretary-General of Sino-Pakistan Cooperation Center on Traditional Chinese Medicine, National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, China, told China Economic Net in an interview.

How is that achieved? Scientific study shows that microgravity, cosmic radiation and very low temperatures outside the space station can induce genetic mutations that could make the plants more productive and resilient to climate fluctuations resulting from climate change.

So far, China, the third country in the world after the US and Russia to achieve satellite breeding in space, has cultivated more than 200 new space-bred varieties with an annual planting area of 2-3 million hectares. Among them, wheat variety Luyuan 502 has increased production by 11% more than ordinary varieties and manifested better resistance to drought, diseases and pests.

“There is no way to transform plant seeds in a set direction, but it is possible to achieve our intended outcomes by sending them to space. For medicinal plants, we hope they can grow better with stronger resistance, survival rate, and efficacy. All can be achieved via genetic mutation in space”, said Dr. Wang Yan, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Sciences, University of Karachi.

A milestone in Sino-Pak S&T cooperation

Aboarding China’s Shenzhou 14 manned spacecraft, Pakistan’s medicinal plant seeds have undergone 6 months of scientific experiments.

“[It] represents a landmark in China-Pakistan S&T cooperation and will be recorded in the history of their friendship,” said Pang Chunxue, Charge d’Affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan, terming the experiment as a milestone of China-Pakistan scientific and technological cooperation.

The bilateral science and technology cooperation has been included under the framework of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). “The scientific experiment cooperation  is a concrete manifestation of China’s willingness to share the fruits of high-tech development with Pakistan,” Cao Zhouhua, Science Commissioner of the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan told China Economic Net. He said that China’s space station is an important part of the UN’s “Shared Global Space” initiative and is open to all UN member States.

Scientific and technological cooperation is an important part of China- Pakistan relations. Since the signing of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Scientific and Technical Cooperation in 1976, the two sides have jointly funded more than 475 research projects in the fields of agriculture, aerospace, water conservation, chemical industry, medical and health care, biotechnology, computer science, environment, energy and technology management.

A rosy future ahead

Sending seeds to the space will never be the end of China-Pakistan cooperation in space.

As Professor Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiative (PD&SI), put it, “Space technology is one of those technologies which is most critical for human development and security of any nation”, adding that “collaboration with China will open doors of development for us in future”.

Take the Sino-Pakistan Seed Orbit Breeding Project as an example. Prof. Liu Xinmin – Member, Expert Advisory Panel on Traditional Medicine, WHO –  noted that the project will surely boost Sino-Pakistan cooperation on R&D of medicinal plants based on the Chinese Space Station. He told the reporter, for seeds of the same medicinal plant, comparative studies can be conducted, such as breeding, cultivating, chemical components, efficacy, and safety, etc when they returned to the Earth.

“It will promote the further utilization of space in the future,” said Liu, who is also the Chief Scientist in the Institute of Drug Discovery Technology (IDDT), Ningbo University(NBU), China. Also, both countries can jointly train young scholars in this field, Liu added.

Professor Shahid Baig, Chairman of the Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF) noted that the prospects of collaborations are immense, and “I believe that these synergies between Pakistan and China will open up new horizons of economic and technological development”.

“The Shenzhou 12 mission carried the national flag of Pakistan, and the Shenzhou 14 mission carried Pakistan’s plant seeds, which fully showcase profound friendship between China and Pakistan”, said Liu Boming, a veteran Chinese astronaut in a video reply to Aasiya Ismail, a 17-year-old girl from Islamabad Model School for Girls, Pakistan.

“[Sending Pakistani seeds into the Chinese space station] is the first time, but for sure, not the last,” Prof. Liu Xinmin told the reporter.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Nankana Sahib lynching: ATC sends 6 suspects to jail for identification parade

February 13, 2023

LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Monday sent six suspects, involved in the lynching of a man accused of blasphemy in Nankana Sahib, to jail on a 14-day judicial remand for identification parade.

ATC Judge Abher Gul Khan conducted the proceedings, wherein the police produced suspects, Waqas, Rizwan Haider, Sajid Ali, Bilal Ahmad, Muhammad Anis and Dilawar Hussain, amid strict security.

The investigation officer submitted an application and stated that the suspects were involved in the lynching of a man accused of blasphemy. He informed that during the preliminary investigation, police had made arrests of six people. He pleaded with the court to grant permission for the identification parade of the suspects.

At this, the court granted permission for identification parade and sent the suspects to jail

on a 14-day judicial remand for the purpose.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Balochistan govt to send relief goods and medical team to Syria

February 13, 2023

QUETTA: The Balochistan government has decided to send relief goods and a medical team to the earthquake victims of Syria, Press Secretary of the Chief Minister said on Monday.

In this connection, Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo directed the Health Department and Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) to take necessary steps for sending relief goods and the medical team to the earthquake victims of Syria On the instructions of the Chief Minister, Principal Secretary to CM, Imran Gichki conveyed the goodwill message of the Chief Minister to the Syrian Ambassador.

Source: Pakistan Today

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PAF rescues stranded Pakistan citizens in earthquake-hit Turkey

February 13, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) successfully completed a humanitarian mission in Turkey following a recent earthquake, bringing back students and families from Pakistan safely to their home country.

The evacuees expressed their gratitude for the PAF’s efforts in rescuing those affected by the natural disaster.

Source: Pakistan Today

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FO bars embassies in EU states from visas issuance to Afghan nationals

February 13, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office (FO) on Sunday directed embassies in European countries not to issue visas to Afghan citizens till further orders following the surfacing of an alleged visa scandal.

According to officials, the foreign ministry has issued instructions to all embassies across Europe to stop issuance of visas to Afghan citizens. The action was taken after an alleged scandal of the issuance of Pakistani visas to 1,600 Afghan nationals on fake residential cards of Sweden.

The FO issued the orders to the Pakistani embassies in the United Kingdom (UK), Spain, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Greece, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands.

Earlier in the day, it was learnt that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched an inquiry into the issuance of visas to 1,600 Afghans by a Pakistan mission in Europe on bogus residence cards of Sweden.

According to sources, the Pakistan embassy in Sweden has issued 1,600 visas to Afghan nationals on bogus residence cards.

Hours after the news broke, the FO took notice and ordered an immediate inquiry and asked all Pakistani missions abroad to stop issuing visas of any category to Afghan nationals until further orders.

The foreign ministry has also ordered the cancellation of the visas granted to the Afghans.

‘Pak-US mid-level defence talks from Monday’

The second round of ‘Pakistan-US Mid-Level Defence Dialogue’ is scheduled from February 13-16 in Washington DC.

“Pakistan’s inter-agency delegation, led by the Chief of General Staff, will comprise of senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Joint Staff Headquarters and three Services Headquarters.

The US multi-agency team will be represented by the Office of Undersecretary of Defence,” Foreign Office Spokesperson said in a press release on Sunday.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Joint sitting: Parliament continues debate on terrorism today

Feb 14 2023

The Joint Sitting of the Parliament undertook a discussion on various issues including law and order and terrorism, economic policy, Jammu and Kashmir Issue, respect for national institutions, China-Pakistan-Economic-Corridor, population explosion, climate change impact and foreign policy of the country.

The discussion is aimed at creating awareness and building consensus on these issues, especially terrorism.

Taking part in the debate, Senator Mushtaq Ahmed Khan stated that incidents of terrorism are rampant in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and authorities concerned should take notice of this to protect the life and liberty of the people of the province. He, however, said the provincial police have rendered unmatched sacrifice in the fight against terrorism, despite a lack of resources, equipment and training. He said Islamic scholars, political forces and the general public of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have strongly rejected terrorists and their ideology.

Mushtaq Ahmed Khan also urged the speaker to issue the production order of detained MNA Ali Wazir.

In her words, Shazia Marri said, "Economic development requires peace and stability in the country, for which we must eliminate terrorism completely." She said that an in-camera session, seeking feedback from security agencies on countering terrorism can be convened to evolve a comprehensive policy to curb militancy in the country.

Irfan Siddiqui said that Islam preaches peace and terrorists have nothing to do with the religion and morality. He suggested constituting a committee of both Houses to devise a strategy to deal with the menace of terrorism.

Senator Haji Hidayatullah Khan criticized the previous PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for allowing resettlement of terrorist elements in the province. He said that around four hundred billion rupees were provided to the provincial government of PTI but it wasted funds elsewhere instead of upgrading the police force to curb militancy.

Mutfi Abdul Shakoor alleged that PTI chief Imran Khan and his cronies have committed economic terrorism in the country by damaging the international relations of Pakistan with friendly countries. He said that Imran Khan had claimed that the United States was behind his ouster from power but now he was exonerating Washington of any such conspiracy. He said Imran Khan should be held responsible for economic terrorism in the country.

Source: Geo TV

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Southeast Asia


Indonesian University Honours Vatican Official for Interfaith Dialogue In The World

By Katharina R. Lestari

February 13, 2023

A state-run Islamic university in Indonesia conferred an honorary degree to a top Vatican official for his contributions to the promotion of interfaith dialogue in the world.

Cardinal Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue (previously the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue) received Honoris Causa Doctorate from the Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University based in Yogyakarta province on Feb. 13. 

Cardinal Guixot, 70, is a Spaniard and a member of the Combonian Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus (MCCJ).

Among the dignitaries who attended the ceremony were Apostolic Nuncio to Indonesia Archbishop Piero Pioppo and Divine Word Father Markus Solo Kewuta, director of Asia-Pacific desk of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue, Yahya Cholil Staquf, head of Nahdlatul Ulama, and Sudibyo Markus, former chairman of Muhammadiyah.

Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah are two leading Islamic organizations in Muslim-majority Indonesia.

“I am deeply grateful for your appreciation of the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together motivating you to hold this meaningful event. Today’s historic event is about contribution to the promotion and the strengthening of human fraternity in order to build a peaceful world and a common coexistence,” Cardinal Ayuso Guixot said during the event.

He acknowledged that it was a privilege for him to witness the signing of the document by Pope Francis and Ahmed el-Tayyeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, in Abu Dhabi in 2019.

“We can say without any rhetoric that the signing of the document was a milestone on the path to the interreligious dialogue. A milestone is a point along the way, neither the beginning nor the end. So this means that we have to work together through various ways to promote fraternity and to live in concrete ways in our daily life,” he said.

The document seeks to promote a “culture of mutual respect” between Christians and Muslims and was signed on Feb. 4, 2019, by the two global religious leaders during the pope’s visit to the United Arab Emirates.

The Islamic university’s rector Phil Al Makin said the honorary degree was an appreciation of the role of Cardinal Ayuso Guixot in promoting interreligious dialogue as he served in Egypt and Sudan for several years and visited several Muslim-dominant countries in the Middle East region.

“His role in the signing of the Abu Dhabi Declaration … is significant. The signing of the declaration means that the Vatican, under the leadership of Pope Francis, has actively promoted tolerance and harmony among religious believers,” he said.

Father Kewuta, an Indonesian himself, called the honorary degree the highest recognition of the Catholic Church from Indonesia.

“It ensures us that what we have done so far is truly right and is resonated among other religious believers, particularly Muslims. In the context of Indonesia, it paves the way to more collaborations in the future in promoting peace based on human fraternity,” he said.

Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Pioppo said the honorary degree was given to Cardinal Ayuso Guixot based on Pope Francis’ suggestion as the cardinal "is a scholar and a very deep person who is thinking deeply of interreligious dialogue and who also spends his life as a missionary.”

Source: UCA News

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Ipoh City Council calls on Ramadan bazaar traders to sell Menu Rahmah

13 Feb 2023

IPOH, Feb 13 — The Ipoh City Council (MBI) has called on traders at Ramadan bazaars in the city to sell Menu Rahmah to help ease the public’s burden, especially the B40 group.

Ipoh Mayor Datuk Rumaizi Baharin said in addition to providing the budget menu, traders should also sell food at affordable prices.

“I encourage as many traders as possible to provide Menu Rahmah to help low-income customers and this is good for the people,” he told reporters after officiating at the opening of Kafe Lalaland here today.

Rumaizi said MBI would study the application to add three more Ramadan bazaar sites in Ipoh following complaints received from traders, adding that the council had approved a total of 19 Ramadan bazaars with over 1,000 traders.

“The three locations, including Ipoh town and Station 18, are being studied. We will work with several companies to get a bigger market platform, which can indirectly drive higher sales and enable traders to reduce their selling prices,” he added.

Meanwhile, Rumaizi said the relocation of street vendors at the Sultan Abdul Aziz Recreational Park will boost gastronomic tourism that focuses on Malay food that could be an attraction for visitors outside the state.

Source: Malay Mail

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Johor youth group demands action against Facebook user for naming pets ‘Datuk Seri, Datuk Wira’, says it insults royal institution

By Ben Tan

13 Feb 2023

JOHOR BARU, Feb 13 — A group of Johor-based Malay-Muslim youths today lodged a police report against a Facebook user, believed to be a lawyer, for allegedly insulting the royal institution by naming his pet dogs after bestowed titles.

The group of 15 youths want the authorities to act against the individual after earlier filing a report with the Johor Baru South district police at about 12.30pm.

Muhammad Kamil Abdul Radzak, who represented the group, said the individual’s act of uploading several photos of his pet dogs and giving them names with noble titles awarded by the King and state sultans was clearly malicious in nature.

He said the individual had clearly insulted the country’s royal institution and the Federal Constitution which awarded the titles to exemplary Malaysians.

“Not only that, but the lawyer also uploaded a picture of his dog wearing a hijab with a caption reading: ‘My Malay sister at home wears a hijab’.

“Such actions are insulting, and we deem them acceptable as he is a lawyer,” said Muhammad Kamil outside the Johor Baru South district police headquarters in Larkin today.

The group today had voiced their unhappiness after the individual was alleged to have uploaded several photographs of his pet dogs by calling them “Datuk Seri, Datuk Seri Paduka and Datuk Wira” between October and December last year.

Muhammad Kamil also questioned the individual’s motives as they clearly disrespected the royal institution as well as demonstrated an insensitivity towards Muslims.

“As a lawyer, he should be a person who understands and adheres to the law, but in this case, it is the complete opposite,” he said.

Another representative from the group, Muhammad Haikal Mohd Dzul, demanded that immediate action be taken against the individual involved.

He said that such an act was disrespectful and inconsiderate as it can trigger racial disharmony.

“We don’t want an apology as what he did was a thoughtless act and can cause disharmony,” he said.

For Mohd Fauzan Azman, he said that there is a limit to one’s patience when it involves matters of faith.

He hopes that the police would take appropriate action against the lawyer.

When contacted, Johor Baru South police chief Assistant Commissioner Raub Selamat said they have received the report and an investigation will be carried out soon.

Source: Malay Mail

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Malaysia’s 4-year political turmoil could have been avoided if politicians set aside differences: King

Amir Yusof

13 Feb 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian king told lawmakers on Monday (Feb 13) that the political turmoil faced by the country over the last four years could have been avoided if politicians were willing to set aside their differences and unite for the sake of the country.

Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah added that he never intended to interfere in political affairs but was forced to intervene for the sake of stability.

Speaking in his final parliamentary address before his five-year term ends under Malaysia’s rotational monarchy system, the king noted that he has been recorded in the country’s history to be the only ruler to have reigned over “four different prime ministers and four different Cabinets”.

“On Jan 31, 2019, I took a solemn oath and pledged to faithfully and justly govern Malaysia according to the laws and the Federal Constitution. I am only fulfilling the entrusted duty and promise, and I had no intention to interfere in the country's political affairs or manipulate the political landscape,” said the king.

“In my observation, if the incidents that led to the resignation of the 7th prime minister did not occur, the prolonged political turmoil that lasted for nearly four years leading up to the 15th General Election (GE15) could have been avoided,” he said.

“More importantly, if the honourable members and politicians of the country are willing to set aside their differences and unite solely for the sake of safeguarding the interests of my people and this beloved nation, the political turmoil that has plagued the country for almost four years could have been avoided,” he added.

The king was referring to the resignation of Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 2020 following the political manoeuvre known as the Sheraton Move, which led to the fall of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.

This led to the appointment of Mr Muhyiddin Yassin as prime minister, as Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) and Barisan Nasional (BN) joined hands to form a new ruling coalition. At that time, the palace declared that the parliamentarian who likely commanded the majority of support was Mr Muhyiddin.

However, Mr Muhyiddin’s tenure only lasted until August 2021 when some MPs from BN’s main component party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) pulled their support for him and put forth party vice-president Mr Ismail Sabri Yaakob to replace Mr Muhyiddin as prime minister.

Following GE15, which produced a hung parliament, the king appointed PH chairman Anwar Ibrahim as Malaysia’s 10th prime minister. Mr Anwar is leading a unity government that comprises PH, BN, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) as well as Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS).

“I hope that this 10th prime minister will be the last for me, before I return to my homeland, Pahang Darul Makmur,” the king said. His term ends on Jan 30, 2024.

Looking ahead, he stressed that it was important for politicians to embrace diversity as a “key strength of the nation”.

“If diversity, plurality, and political confusion continue to be the cause of conflict and division, I am afraid that the peaceful and prosperous environment that we desire will never be realised forever,” said the king.

The king’s address marks the opening of the second term of parliament following GE15.

Source: Channel News Asia

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Why Malaysia left door open for Federal Constitution in Malay to override original text

By Ida Lim

14 Feb 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 14 — Malaysia has used the English text of the Federal Constitution — the language it was created in — as the authoritative text since the country’s formation in 1963, but there are now plans to push for the Malay translation to be the final authority.

While Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun recently announced such plans, this idea for the Malay translation of the Federal Constitution to override the English text actually dates back to 22 years ago.

Whose idea was it? Why was there such an idea? How will this be done? What is Article 160B?

Hop on to the time travel machine along with Malay Mail, as we trawl through the official parliamentary records in the Hansard.

Setting: The year is 2001. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is the prime minister, and he has two-thirds majority support in Parliament.

This is crucial, as any changes to the Federal Constitution can only happen with votes from at least two-thirds of all members in the Dewan Rakyat and the Dewan Negara.

(On top of that, some Federal Constitution provisions also need the Conference of Rulers’ consent or the Sabah and Sarawak governors’ consent before any changes can be made.)

What and why (Hint: making BM great)

The Constitution (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2001 was tabled for the first time in the Dewan Rakyat on July 30, 2001 to propose changes to the Federal Constitution. It was later presented to the Dewan Negara on August 6, 2001 for debates.

It quickly became law about two months after going through Parliament debate — on July 31 and August 1, 2001 at the Dewan Rakyat, and on August 13 and August 14, 2001 at the Dewan Negara.

It received royal assent on September 6, 2001, was gazetted on September 27, and kicked in on September 28, 2001.

The Bill proposed 13 changes: to amend nine Articles, insert two new Articles (Article 160A, Article 160B) and make amendments to two Schedules. (Watch out for Section 46 of the Eleventh Schedule).

On July 31, 2001, Tan Sri Rais Yatim, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department at that time, introduced the Bill at its second reading to MPs in the Dewan Rakyat. (He is currently the Dewan Negara speaker.)

Rais said the proposed Article 160B would enable the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to prescribe — or state — that the translation of the Federal Constitution in the national language is authoritative.

Article 160B states: “Where this Constitution has been translated into the national language, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may prescribe such national language text to be authoritative, and thereafter if there is any conflict or discrepancy between such national language text and the English language text of this Constitution, the national language text shall prevail over the English language text.”

Rais also explained the proposed Article 160A that would create a new specific provision for the reprinting of the Federal Constitution, saying that previous reprints — via a general provision under the Revision of Laws Act 1968 — will continue to be authoritative until they are replaced by new reprints under Article 160A, which he said will allow for the national language to be strengthened.

As Section 46 of the Eleventh Schedule makes the English language text of the Federal Constitution the authoritative text, Rais said the Bill proposed to delete this line.

Section 46 states that the English text shall prevail if there is any conflict or discrepancy between the English text of a written law and any translation. In other words, the English text will be the ultimate version relied on if there are differences with the translated version of laws.

Separately on August 13, 2001 at the Dewan Negara, Rais said with the deletion of Section 46, the Malay language will be the authoritative language in the countries’ legal texts in the years to come whenever the laws are reprinted.

Later at the Dewan Negara on August 14, 2001, Rais said the English text will still remain the authoritative copy if Section 46 is not amended.

Rais cited discussions between the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Prime Minister’s Department, which he said found that the deletion of Section 46 would accommodate making Malay the official language, and that it would enable it to be the authoritative language for all laws after they are translated or after royal assent.

Rais said that all of the country’s laws including the Federal Constitution have already been translated into Malay, which meant they could immediately be the authoritative text once the proposed constitutional amendment takes effect.

In response to questions on whether making the Malay version of laws authoritative would affect scholarship and research, Rais said there would also be English versions of each law for those who wish to study or wish to argue on common law or comparative law points.

When introducing the Bill at the Dewan Negara on August 13, 2001, Rais said a country’s constitution was not static but should go through changes for improvements, noting that the Federal Constitution had been amended around 36 times since the independence of Malaya in 1957, including an amendment in 2001 that created Putrajaya as an additional federal territory.

He said the Bill would include amendments to a list of areas in line with the country’s development and progress, naming the listed items such as equality for women’s rights under the law, the Election Commission’s composition and matters relating to voters, and empower the Malay language as the authoritative legal language for Acts or laws enacted by Parliament including the Federal Constitution.

Did the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara lawmakers have anything to say?

Yes, they did.

Although many of them focused on the other proposed amendments to the Federal Constitution under the Bill, such as disallowing gender discrimination amid the limited debate time given, some of them managed to raise their concerns about Article 160B.

Key concerns included potential rewriting and indirect amendments to the Federal Constitution, the need for accuracy and solutions for mistranslations.

In the August 1, 2001 debate at the Dewan Rakyat, then Jelutong MP Datuk Seri Lee Kah Choon questioned the need for Article 160B, as the Federal Constitution resulting from negotiations was created in English and recognised as the authoritative text.

Noting that the courts have made multiple interpretations of the Constitution while guided by its English language text, Lee questioned what would happen to those past court decisions if they were to be in conflict with the Malay translation in the future.

He also questioned who would do the translation and who would decide if it truly reflects the true meaning and spirit of the Constitution as agreed upon its creation, highlighting that Article 160B did not state who would be the translators such as whether there would be a committee or the qualifications of such committee members.

Questioning the logic of the proposed Article 160B, he remarked: “The original is still the original. I don’t know how we can say the translation from the original is more authoritative than the original.”

Lee likened Article 160B to be akin to wanting to “rewrite the supreme law of the land”, highlighting there could be inaccuracies in translations, noting for example how “the age of compulsory retirement” in the Bill was itself translated to “umur persaraan paksa” despite “wajib” meaning “compulsory” while “paksa” means “forced”.

Stressing that he did not disagree with the widespread use of Bahasa Malaysia, he said he was only raising concerns as the proposed Article 160B covered a wider subject than just the use of BM as it touches on the foundation of Malaysia’s existence.

But if Article 160B does become law, Lee urged the relevant ministry to present the Malay translation of the Federal Constitution to Parliament for approval first, before letting it be authoritative.

In his response to Lee, Rais said past court decisions would continue to be authority, but said the Malay language’s status as the national language was already enshrined in Article 152 of the Federal Constitution and Section 7 of the National Language Act. (Article 152 states the Malay language as the national language. Section 7 says the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may prescribe Malay translations of any written law enacted before September 1,1967 to be authoritative).

Rais also said the courts have interpreted provisions according to its spirit and not just on the face of it, with experts from Dewan Bahasa, Attorney General’s Chambers and local universities providing support for interpretation and translation.

On the same day, then Machang MP Mohd Yusoff Mohd Nor supported the proposal to add on Article 160B, but shared the same concerns as the Jelutong MP, noting that any mistranslation of the original text in English to Malay may indirectly result in amendments to the Federal Constitution.

Mohd Yusoff cited as example List II or the State List in the Federal Constitution’s Second Schedule revolving around the word “precepts” in the phrase “creation and punishment of offences by persons professing the religion of Islam against precepts of that religion”, which he noted was translated into “rukun-rukun Islam” which would actually be referred to as “pillars of Islam” in English instead.

He urged Rais to provide assurance on how errors in the Malay translation of the Federal Constitution — which the Yang di-Pertuan Agong would state to be authoritative — would be remedied.

In an immediate response, Rais said the views given were in line with the spirit of the Federal Constitution constantly being modified from time to time to improve the harmony of those living in one country, noting there are no man-made books that are perfect and that Islam views only the al-Quran to be perfect.

He said that efforts to improve would be taken if discrepancies in meaning or terms are discovered from time to time, adding that the courts will be the final arbiter if there are disputes.

On August 14, 2001 at the Dewan Negara, lawmaker Datuk Ghazi Ramli supported the Bill but highlighted that the Malay language was quite limited, indicating the desire for accuracy and questioned if there were fully-skilled experts to carry out the translation.

Ghazi also asked how the government would ensure the Malay translation follows the original intention, such as whether there would be certain English words in brackets or reference to the original text in English if there is confusion.

On the same day at the Dewan Negara, Rosli Mohd Hassan agreed with Malay being the absolute legal language, and hoped judges and lawyers would also use the Malay language exclusively and in total.

Earlier on July 31, 2001 in the Dewan Rakyat, Bagan Datuk MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi congratulated the government on its efforts to encourage the use of the Malay language, and noted that neighbours Indonesia and Brunei had been using the Malay language for their authoritative text.

On August 1, 2001 in the Dewan Rakyat debate, then Batang Lupar MP Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar welcomed the idea of using Malay for the authoritative text of the Federal Constitution, and expressed hope that the courts already have sufficient experience and discretion when using Malay text, as Malaysia had been using the English text as the foundation to define the Constitution all this while.

Even in the parliamentary debates, there were also noticeable differences with some lawmakers choosing to use the Bahasa Malaysia terminology — like then Kepong MP Tan Seng Giaw — while others used Bahasa Melayu to refer to the Malay language.

Also on August 1, 2001, Tan said there was no dispute in having the Bahasa Malaysia text of the Federal Constitution as the authoritative text, but said the use of Bahasa Malaysia in all official affairs should be language that is accurate and precise.

On August 13, 2001 at the Dewan Negara, lawmaker Datuk Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman said the government has been tolerant as the legal text’s authoritative language remained as English after independence for 43 years and despite the Malay language being the national language.

He noted, however, that Malaysia was lagging due to translations in Malay coming out late for matters such as science and law, and said making the Malay language authoritative for the Federal Constitution would bring about a new approach.

In outlining the new approach once Malay replaces English as the authoritative legal language, he suggested that international lawyers who come to Malaysia would in the future need to hire those fluent in Malay to be translators for the law, while foreigners would have to use skilled professionals to translate the legal text in Malay to their own languages. He said Malaysia would be an independent country with its own language.

Also on the same day, lawmaker Datuk KRA Naidu at the Dewan Negara expressed support for Article 160B’s introduction and the deletion of Section 46 as independence had been achieved for more than four decades and as Bahasa Malaysia had developed and its use was at a satisfactory level.

But he said Malaysian students should still study English as an international language to be used in international conventions, international business and also information and communications technology (ICT), noting its importance for international trade with other countries and to be leaders at international conventions.

Out of the 193 MPs, the 172 MPs who were present in the Dewan Rakyat all voted in support of the Bill at the second reading, while all 154 MPs present at the third reading voted in support of the Bill. This all took place on August 1, 2001.

On August 14, 2001, all 53 lawmakers present in the Dewan Negara voted in support of the Bill at the second and third reading.

Fast forward to the future

On September 28, 2001, the amendments took effect, with Article 160A and Article 160B inserted into the Federal Constitution, while Section 46 of the Eleventh Schedule was deleted.

These changes make it possible for the Malay translation of the Federal Constitution to override the English language text, if the Yang di-Pertuan Agong states so in the future.

Currently, the Federal Constitution in the English language is still the authoritative version in Malaysia.

Even the Malay translation of the Federal Constitution acknowledges that it has yet to become the authoritative version that will override the English text if there are any disputes or discrepancies.

Unlike the English text of the Federal Constitution that has been reprinted — typically to update it with amendments — 17 times from 1958 until 2020 (in the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2010 and 2020 itself), the Malay translation has only been reprinted thrice: in 2006, 2010 and 2020.

For the Malay translation of the Federal Constitution, its 2006 reprint only states it was translated by the Attorney General’s Chambers’ drafting division.

Both the 2010 and 2020 reprints of the Malay translation carried the same note stating that the Federal Constitution was translated in 1963 and that the translated text was published in 1972.

The note also said an event was held on September 29, 2003 for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to launch the national language text of the Federal Constitution, and that the translated text was published in 2003.

However, the AGC’s Laws of Malaysia website — which is the official online database for laws — did not make available the purported Malay translations said to be published in 1972 and 2003, and only made available to the public the reprints of the year 2006, 2010 and 2020.

Both the 2010 and 2020 reprints of the Malay translation of the Federal Constitution had this note on their very first page, stating: “Teks ini HANYALAH TERJEMAHAN oleh Jabatan Peguam Negara bagi Federal Constitution. Melainkan jika dan sehingga ditetapkan sahih di bawah Perkara 160B Perlembagaan Persekutuan, teks ini bukan perundangan”.

Source: Malay Mail

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Northerners should reject Atiku at presidential election for opposing Sharia – Tinubu’s running mate, Shettima

February 13, 2023

By Seun Opejobi

All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential running mate, Kashim Shettima, has identified why Northerners should not vote for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

Shettima said Northerners should ditch Atiku for opposing the Islamic legal system in the North.

He made the call while speaking with APC faithful at the party’s local government conference in Daura, Katsina State.

The APC presidential running mate urged Northern voters to reject Mr Abubakar at the February 25 polls because he fought against Sharia.

According to Shettima: “This person you call your own says you should not call him ‘Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, but rather Atiku Abubakar.

Source: Daily Post Nigeria

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2023: Tinubu denies planning to marry Muslim wife ahead of presidential election

February 13, 2023

By Seun Opejobi

The All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, has denied planning to marry a new wife.

Some reports had it that Tinubu was planning to pick a Muslim wife a few weeks before the presidential election.

Tinubu is married to an assistant pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, and a former Lagos West Senator, Oluremi.

Describing the report as fake news, the APC presidential flagbearer said detractors are trying to cause discord between him and the Christian community.

Speaking through the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Tinubu said he is focused on campaigns for the forthcoming elections starting on February 25th.

A statement by the APC PCC tagged: “Stop the fake news: Tinubu is not taking a new wife,” reads: “We have seen fake news that has gone viral on social media purporting that the All Progressives Congress Presidential Candidate, Bola Tinubu, is set to take a new wife.

“This is what it is: fake and groundless news. HE Asíwájú is enjoying his marriage to his wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, who is blessed with excellent children. He is not ready to take an additional wife, whether a Christian or a Muslim.

“We know the intention of those peddling a new Muslim wife is not only to cause discord within the extremely peaceful family of Tinubu but to also create disaffection within the Christian community.

“Tinubu is at present focused on his campaign to emerge the president of this country come February 25, 2023 in order to rekindle the hope of our people in a better, stronger, more secure and prosperous Nigeria.”

Source: Daily Post Nigeria

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Famine could rip through Somalia as soon as April, UN warns


February 14, 2023

NEW YORK CITY: The UN is seeking $2.6 billion to help 8 million people in Somalia as the country once again finds itself on the brink of widespread famine, as a result of overlapping crises including prolonged drought, conflict, insecurity, high food and water costs, and mass displacement.

Though the attention of the world has gradually returned to the country following similar dire warnings last year, this has not resulted in additional funding for the humanitarian response there.

Adam Abdelmoula, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, described the drought currently ravaging the African nation as “truly unprecedented” and said more than 700,000 people are expected to experience catastrophic hunger.

“The 2011 famine that killed 360,000 people was the result of three consecutive failed rainy seasons,” he told Arab News. “Now, we have already sailed past five failed rainy seasons — and that should tell you where are we at the moment.

“Don’t listen to those who tell you that this is the worst drought in 40 years; this is the worst drought in Somalia’s recorded history, period.”

After the famine in 2011, the international community said “never again,” Abdelmoula pointed out, adding: “If we truly want to honor that promise, there is no time to lose. Every delay in assistance is a matter of life or death for families in need.”

The 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan for Somalia, unveiled last week by the UN, its humanitarian partners and the Somali government, includes the appeal for $2.6 billion in donations to help more than 8 million people in dire need of help and protection for their survival. That is almost half the population of the country, and women and children account for 80 percent of those in need.

Launching the appeal in the Somali capital Mogadishu, Abdelmoula said 3.8 million people in the country are internally displaced, one of the highest figures in the world. The majority were driven from their homes by conflict and climate shocks.

Such high levels of displacement, he said, exacerbate already limited access to basic services. An estimated 8 million people, for example, lack access to safe water supplies, sanitation and hygiene services at a time when disease outbreaks are on the rise compared with recent years.

Meanwhile, about 2 million Somali children under the age of five are likely to face acute malnutrition, including more than half a million likely to be severely acutely malnourished. Such high rates of acute malnutrition increase the risk of diseases and death from preventable causes such as cholera, measles and acute diarrhea. Less than a third of people in areas affected by drought have access to medical care.

More than 6 million people are likely to face high levels of acute food insecurity through March this year, said Abdelmoula, and the number is expected to increase to 8.3 million between April and June amid an anticipated reduction in funding for humanitarian assistance.

Although humanitarian aid contributions helped prevent the famine threshold from being surpassed last year, as had been projected, Abdelmoula pointed out that “the distinction between a declared famine and what millions of Somalis are already experiencing is truly meaningless.”

He added: “They are already going hungry. Children are starving. The underlying crisis has not improved and even more appalling outcomes are only temporarily averted.

“Famine is a strong possibility from April to June this year, and of course beyond, if humanitarian assistance is not sustained and if the April-to-June rains underperform as currently forecast.”

The 2022 humanitarian response plan for Somalia was only 67 percent funded, Abdelmoula said.

“And I hasten to say that 80 percent of that funding came from a single donor country, and that’s the United States,” he added. “And the US made it clear, again and again, that that was a one-off.”

The EU provided 10 percent of the funding, and the rest of the world contributed the remaining 10 percent.

“With higher and more severe needs in 2023, and the continuing risk of famine, we can and must do better,” Abdelmoula said.

Somalia is one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and is ill-equipped to cope with the consecutive droughts that have depleted the country’s water supplies, resulting in crop failures as a result of which agricultural production has fallen to 70 percent below average.

The Somalis affected by these successive droughts are “the human face of the global climate emergency,” Adelmoula added.

Salah Jama, the deputy prime minister of the Federal Government of Somalia, said the country’s people “are paying the price for a climate emergency they did very little to create.”

Getting aid to those most in need remains a tremendous challenge. Some areas are hard to reach because of poor roads infrastructure. Others are under the control of Al-Shabab, an uncompromising, unpopular group with links to Al-Qaeda. Its deadly insurgency against the federal government has resulted in humanitarian aid convoys being attacked.

In a vicious cycle, the scarcity exacerbated by the activities of Al-Shabab means more desperate young Somalis are vulnerable to recruitment by the group.

“Unfortunately, we have very, very limited access to areas under Al-Shabaab control,” Abdelmoula told Arab News. “We try to use proxies at times — community leaders, some community-based (nongovernmental organizations) and so on — but that is very sporadic and very inconsistent.”

However, the Somali government recently regained control of some areas that had been under Al-Shabaab control and, Abdelmoula said: “We came close to getting a glimpse of what the situation looks like in areas that are still under Al-Shabab control, and compared to the communities that we have been dealing with, and the caseload of the humanitarian interventions, these people are in a much, much worse shape than those that were already identified to be at the brink of famine in the (southern) Bay region.”

It is estimated there are about 700,000 people living in areas that remain under Al-Shabaab control, according to the UN.

While humanitarian groups focus on life-saving activities to avert famine, UN officials also emphasize the need to invest in livelihoods, resilience, the development of infrastructure, climate adaptation efforts, and durable solutions for the internally displaced, to help break free from a cycle of chronically recurring humanitarian crises and perpetual dependency.

“I have consistently been saying that what we see in Somalia is equally a development crisis, (not only) a humanitarian crisis, and that there are no humanitarian solutions for this protracted crisis — there are only developmental interventions that can ween the country and its people from this endless dependency on humanitarian handouts,” Abdelmoula said.

“And while most of the donors agree, we still haven’t seen that level of development assistance that will enable the country to adapt with the accelerating and intensifying climate change, and to enable the communities to rely on themselves through income- and employment-generation interventions. I haven’t seen that happen yet.”

He called for the $2.6 billion in required humanitarian aid to be accompanied by financing for “resilience, development and climate adaptation.”

Source: Arab News

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At least 82 killed in Somaliland conflict: Doctor

Mohammed Dhaysane 



At least 82 people, including civilians, have been killed in eight days of fighting in Somalia's breakaway region of Somaliland, a medical source said Monday.

Abdimajid Hussein Sugulle, a medical doctor at Manhal Hospital in Lasanod, told Anadolu by phone that more than 82 people were killed during the conflict in the town.

“We have been receiving people with various wounds, including people who were wounded in the shelling that Somaliland forces have been targeting the town with for several days. During the fighting, more than 400 people were wounded,” he told Anadolu.

He said they have been receiving an average of 10 seriously wounded people.

Fighting started in Lasanod, the administrative capital of Sool in Somalia’s breakaway region, after a group of local leaders, civil society groups and religious leaders announced last week that they will no longer recognize the Somaliland government.

In a statement, they said the territory will now be ruled from Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital.

The Somaliland administration has labelled the local forces “terrorists” and blamed them for the violence.

“Somaliland has always demanded dialogue over the conflict between Somaliland & Somalia to preserve regional peace & urges respect for pre-1960 borders & self-determination for its people, as failure to do so may lead to regional instability and the resurgence of piracy & terrorism,” Somaliland Vice President Abdirahman Saylici said Monday on Twitter.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said a volunteer from the Somali Red Crescent, Abdisalam Saed, was killed by a stray bullet on Saturday.

“We call for restraint and access to neutral and impartial humanitarian actors,” it said.

The conflict in Lasanod has also caused mass displacement.

According to the UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Adam Abdelmoula, the clashes have displaced more than 80,000 people, compounding the Sool/Sanaag drought induced humanitarian crisis.

“Int’l human rights law & IHL (where applicable) must be upheld. Violators should be investigated and held to account,” he said on Twitter.

The town is disputed between Somaliland and the semiautonomous state of Puntland, with the neighbors having fought several times over the territory.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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