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RSS-inspired Body Displays A Rare 16th Century Gold Ink Quran, Ancient Manuscripts At Indian Science Congress

New Age Islam News Bureau

04 January 2023


IMAGE: Holy Quran written in Gold ink. Photograph: PTI Photo


• 'Threatening Status Quo Unacceptable:' US Reacts To Israel Minister's Visit To Al-Aqsa Mosque

• Al-Qaida's 'Bizarre' Silence Over Zawahiri Death Or A Successor: Counter Terrorism Think-Tank

• ' Wirathu, Buddhist Bin Laden': Firebrand Monk Stirring Up Religious Hatred Honoured By Myanmar Junta Chief

• Ben-Gvir’s Aqsa Visit ‘Puts Israel In Fight With Half Of World’: Former Israeli Prime Minister


• ‘Terrorist Hotspot’ To ‘Tourist Hotspot’: MHA Report On J&K

• Head constable at Israel Embassy residential complex in Delhi shoots self, dies

• Focus on Love Jihad, Not Small Issues Like Roads, Drains: BJP Karnataka Chief to Party Workers

• NCP President Says, ‘BJP Of Raising Communal Issues To Divert The People’s Attention From Inflation And Unemployment’

• Assam delimitation: Questions grow over ‘communal’ district changes by Sarma, skirting deadline

• ‘World should be more concerned about terrorism’: India’s foreign minister digs at Pakistan


North America

• Bomb disposal team attend Edinburgh Central Mosque over suspicious items

• Mosque in Sacramento firebombed in suspected hate crime attack

• US says Pakistan ‘has right to defend itself from terrorism’

• Canada arrests man for 'death and terrorism-related threats' on Twitter

• US opposes rehabilitating Syria’s ‘brutal Assad after Turkey thaw

• Pakistan Has the Right to Defend Itself Against Threats of Terrorism: US



• Turkish drone shows illegal Greek pushback of irregular migrants

• Russia planning 'prolonged attack' with Iranian-made drones: Ukrainian president

• Dutch analyst targeted by PKK for exposing terror group’s oppression in Syria

• Europe’s security, energy problems boost Israeli ties with countries on continent: Foreign minister


South Asia

• Want Religious, Modern Subjects To Be Taught In Afghanistan: Taliban Minister

• ISIS-Khorasan Poses Threat To Taliban In Afghanistan: Afghan Diaspora Network Report

• Islamic Emirate Calls Recent Remarks by Pakistani Officials Disappointing

• Islamic Emirate Works on Permanent Solution to Women's Education, Work: MoI

• 185 former Afghan Army officers left stuck in India



• Palestinian PM, Mohammad Shtayyeh, Accuses Israel Of ‘Plan To Turn Al-Aqsa Mosque Into Jewish Temple’

• Top Commander Warns of Iranian Armed Forces' Decisive Response to Israeli Threats

• Iran Upholds Death Sentences For Two Male Teenage Protesters

• Israel’s Netanyahu Committed To Al-Aqsa Status Quo, Official Says

• Israeli forces kill Palestinian child in Bethlehem: Ministry

• EU Peace Envoy Calls For Maintaining Status Quo At Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa

• Houthis abduct 3 YouTubers amid social media influencer crackdown



• No More Talks With Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan: Interior Minister

• 'Our country morally debased, ugly': Pakistan actor on ex-army official's 'honey trap' allegations

• Firing On Imran Khan Carried Out From 4 Sites, 3 More Shooters Involved: Probe Team

• PTI leaders could face arrest as contempt case continues

• PPP says ready to work with MQM despite differences

• Police high-ups of twin cities agree to curb terrorism

• Sharif, Malaysia PM discuss upcoming UN moot on Pakistan floods

• Maryam Nawaz promoted to PML-N Senior Vice President


Southeast Asia

• UAE, China Call For UN Security Council Meeting Over Al Aqsa Mosque

• Lower your gaze, scholar tells critics of ‘inappropriate’ dressing

• Malaysia’s 15th General Election: How a less influential Islamic party becomes the largest one in parliament


Arab World

• Saudi Arabia Works With Telegram To Remove Over 15 Million Extremist Content In 2022

• Qatar strongly condemns Israeli National Security Minister’s storming of Al Aqsa Mosque

• Egypt 'expresses regret' that official in new Israeli gov't stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque: Statement

• UNESCO praises Saudi Arabia’s achievements in e-education governance globally

• Saudi Arabia’s Jazan: A promised land rich in culture and opportunity

• Saudi choral group set to start on a high note in music industry

• Saudi aid agency gets National Award for Voluntary Work in 2022



• Tinubu Assures Muslim Leaders Of Just Governance To All Nigerians

• Tanzania lifts 6-year ban on opposition political rallies

• Burkina Faso military junta expels French ambassador

• 63 abducted in latest bandit attack in Nigeria

• 28 people found shot dead in northwestern Burkina Faso

• Nine killed in central Somalia car bombings: security sources, witnesses

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



RSS-inspired Body Displays A Rare 16th Century Gold Ink Quran, Ancient Manuscripts At Indian Science Congress


IMAGE: Holy Quran written in Gold ink. Photograph: PTI Photo


04 JAN 2023

A rare 16th century copy of the Holy Quran written in gold ink preserved by a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-inspired organisation is kept on display at the 108th Indian Science Congress (ISC) currently being held here in Maharashtra.

An official of the organisation that has displayed the gold ink Quran on Tuesday said there are only four copies of this holy book in the world.

The copy of the Quran and some ancient manuscripts, a few of them believed to be centuries old, are displayed at a stall put up by the Nagpur-based Research For Resurgence Foundation (RFRF) at the ISC exhibition.

RFRF is the research wing of Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal and works for preserving ancient Indian knowledge systems and implementing it in the present perspective. 

The Mandal was formed to accomplish a national resurgence in the field of education, according to its website.

All about the gold-ink Quran

"This gold ink Quran was written in the 16th century. There are only four copies of this Quran in the world," RFRF Knowledge Resource Centre Director Bhujang Bobade told reporters..

Bobade, who is also the principal investigator at the National Manuscript Authority in New Delhi, said the footnotes in this Quran are written in the Nastaliq script.

He said Nastaliq and Kufi are the two scripts used in Persian. Nastaliq is considered the world's best script.

Another speciality of the rare gold ink Quran manuscript is it contains 385 pages without a single mistake.

"There are 385 pages with miniature writings in gold ink. But despite the small size, there is not a single mistake on any of these pages. This is the uniqueness of this book," said Bobade.

He said the copy of the Quran was given to them by the family of Diwan of the Nizam of Hyderabad.

The advisor to Iran's President had specially visited to see the RFRF collection, he said.

RFRF's collection of ancient manuscripts

He said RFRF has 15,000 manuscripts of Indian history, religions and sciences of ancient India.

"The world knows about 'Akbarnama' written by Abu Fazal in 1577. RFRF has that book but we also have 'Tibb-e-Akbar' written in Persian which the world doesn't know about. 'Tibb-e-Akbar' was written in the 17th century," Bobade said.

He said RFRF's collection also includes 'Taarikh-e-Taj' which explains the history of the Taj Mahal.

"The world knows about the Taj Mahal but they do not know its actual history like the exact date when Mumtaz Mahal died. 'Taarikh-e-Taj' states Mumtaz Mahal died on June 17, 1631 on Wednesday at 9.30 pm. Similarly, it also mentions who all worked there and the locations from where stones and marbles were brought," Bobade said.

The RFRF collection also includes the first manuscript on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj written by Ramchandra Dixit at Manjrath village in Beed district of Maharashtra.    

"We also have the last letter written by the 17th century Maratha king in his original writing," Bobade said.

He said the Garud Puran and the Vishnu Puran written on palm leaves, which are thousands of years old, are also in the RFRF's collection.

The RFRF has till now digitised 1.5 lakh ancient manuscripts running into five crore pages, and made them available for researchers.

"We have collected a database of more than 25 lakh manuscripts from 3,441 archives and museums. All these manuscripts are digitised for people who want to do research. We have been working for the last 16 years to collect these ancient manuscripts and preserve them," Bobade added.

Source: Outlook India

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'Threatening Status Quo Unacceptable:' US Reacts To Israel Minister's Visit To Al-Aqsa Mosque




January 04, 2023

A day after Itamar Ben-Gvir, an ultranationalist Israeli minister,  visited Jerusalem's controversial Al-Aqsa Mosque, the United States has voiced concern about the visit, stating any action that changes the status quo of Jerusalem holy sites is unacceptable.

Gvir's visit to the mosque compound, holy to both Jews and Muslims, had invited criticism with Palestine leadership calling it   "an unprecedented provocation." While the Hamas group that governs the besieged Gaza Strip warned that such a move would cross a 'red line,' other countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE and Jordan had also criticized Gvir's actions.

Reacting to Gvir’s visit, United States White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, "The US stands firmly and we have been very clear for the preservation of the status quo with respect to holy sites in Jerusalem. Any unilateral action that jeopardizes the status quo is unacceptable and we will remain steadfast on that and be very clear."

As per the status quo agreement dating back to Ottoman rule of Jerusalem, only Muslims are allowed to pray inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, and non-Muslims are allowed to visit the complex only at certain times. Israel and other states agreed to maintain status quo access to these holy sites after Israel captured them in the 1967 war, according to CNN.

State Department spokesman Ned Price too expressed concern about the Gvir's visit. "We're deeply concerned by any unilateral actions that have the potential to exacerbate tensions precisely because we want to see the opposite happen," State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a news conference. "We want to see tensions reduced. We want to see tensions diminish," he said.

"The United States stands firmly for the preservation of the historic status quo with respect to the holy sites in Jerusalem," Price told reporters in response to a question about the visit that sparked tensions in the region.

"Any unilateral actions undercutting the historic status quo are unacceptable. The visit has the potential to exacerbate tensions and to provoke violence", he said.

The visit also triggered protests from Israel as former Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid criticized Netanyahu over the visit, calling him "weak" for entrusting the "most irresponsible man in the Middle East to the most explosive place in the Middle East."

Source: The Week

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Al-Qaida's 'Bizarre' Silence Over Zawahiri Death Or A Successor: Counter Terrorism Think-Tank


al-Qaida's leader Ayman al-Zawahiri


Jan 3, 2023

PARIS: Five months after the United States announced the killing of al-Qaida's leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan, the global jihadist group has still not confirmed his death or announced a new boss.

In early August, US President Joe Biden said US armed forces fired two missiles from a drone flying above the Afghan capital, striking al-Zawahiri's safe house and killing him.

But the group's propaganda arms have continued to broadcast undated audio or video messages of the bearded Egyptian ideologue who led the group after US special forces in 2011 killed its charismatic founder Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

"This is really bizarre," said Hans-Jakob Schindler, director of the Counter-Extremism Project think tank.

"A network only works with a leader. You need a person around which everything coalesces."

Almost all options remain open.

"It could of course be the case that the United States is wrong about his death," researchers Raffaello Pantucci and Kabir Taneja wrote in early December on the Lawfare website.

But "this would seem unlikely given the confidence with which President Biden publicly spoke about the strike."

Another possibility is that the group has so far failed to make contact with Zawahiri's most likely successor, his former number two, who goes by the nom de guerre Saif al-Adl or "sword of justice".

A former Egyptian special forces lieutenant-colonel who turned to jihadism in the 1980s, he is believed by observers to be in Iran.

The Islamic republic's Shiite rulers officially oppose Sunni al-Qaida, but opponents have repeatedly accused Iran of cooperating with the network and giving sanctuary to its leaders.

For Schindler, Saif al-Adl "is a liability but also an asset for the Iranian regime".

According to its interests, Tehran could decide to hand him over to the United States, or allow him to attack the West.

Al-Qaida may also be keeping quiet about Zawahiri's demise under pressure from the Taliban, Pantucci and Taneja suggested.

The group issued a carefully worded statement in August, neither confirming Zawahiri's presence in Afghanistan nor acknowledging his death.

"Their decision not to comment could be part of their efforts to manage their fragile but deep relationship with Al-Qaida, while also avoiding drawing attention to the foreign terror group presence in direct contravention of their agreement with the United States," they said.

Saif al-Adl could also be dead or in hiding to avoid the fate of his predecessor or the two last leaders of the network's main rival, the Islamic State group, who were also killed last year.

Zawahiri did not try to emulate bin Laden's charisma and influence after he took over the network but played a key role in decentralising the group.

Al-Qaida is today a far cry from the group that carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks against the United States.

It now has autonomous franchises scattered across the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia that are far less dependent on central command than previously in terms of operations, funding and strategy.

Barak Mendelsohn, a US-based al-Qaida expert, said it was hard to tell why the group was taking time to announce a new leader, adding that the delay was not "very consequential".

"Ultimately the wait reflects al-Qaida central's limited importance," he said.

"It's a symbol unifying groups across borders, but its operational relevance is low."

Al-Qaida's arch-enemy Islamic State has faced similar difficulties in filling its leadership since its "caliph" Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi killed himself during a US raid in Syria in 2019.

After his two successors were killed last year, IS this autumn chose a relative unknown as its new chief, who claims heritage from the prophet's Quraysh tribe to boost his legitimacy.

Tore Hamming, a fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, said it was not essential for Al-Qaida to have a symbolic leader to speak in its name.

"We have seen with the Islamic State (group) since 2019, it does not necessarily matter," he said.

IS elected new caliphs, but "no one knew who they were and never heard from them. Yet still affiliates remained loyal," he explained.

"For al-Qaida it could be the same, just with a council of senior figures playing the role of an amir," or leader.

Source: Times Of India

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' Wirathu, Buddhist Bin Laden': Firebrand Monk Stirring Up Religious Hatred Honoured By Myanmar Junta Chief


'Buddhist bin Laden' : Hardline Buddhist monk Wirathu (L) has long been known for his nationalist anti-Islamic rhetoric © Handout / MYANMAR MILITARY INFORMATION TEAM/AFP


03 January, 2023

A firebrand monk dubbed the "Buddhist bin Laden" for his role in stirring up religious hatred in Myanmar received a national award on Tuesday, with the junta saluting his work in the country.

Wirathu – who received the moniker from Time Magazine in 2013 following deadly communal riots – was awarded the title of "Thiri Pyanchi" on Tuesday, the military's information team said.

The award for "outstanding work for the good of the Union of Myanmar" was presented by junta chief Min Aung Hlaing, it added.

Wirathu is one of hundreds of people receiving awards and honourary titles as the junta prepares to mark the 75th anniversary of Myanmar's independence from Britain on Wednesday.

Wirathu has long been known for his nationalist anti-Muslim rhetoric – particularly against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

In 2013, he appeared on the cover of Time Magazine as "The Face of Buddhist Terror".

He had called for boycotts of Muslim-owned businesses and restrictions on marriages between Buddhists and Muslims.

Rights groups said these helped whip up animosity towards the community, laying the foundations for a military crackdown in 2017 that forced about 740,000 Rohingya to flee over the border to Bangladesh.

Wirathu was later jailed by Aung San Suu Kyi's government on sedition charges.

In September 2021, the junta announced it had released Wirathu after all charges against him had been dropped.

Suu Kyi, 77, has been detained since being ousted by the military coup almost two years ago.

Last week, a junta court handed down its verdicts in the final charges against the Nobel laureate, who now faces the possibility of spending the rest of her life behind bars with a total of 33 years in prison.

Source: The New Arab

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Ben-Gvir’s Aqsa Visit ‘Puts Israel In Fight With Half Of World’: Former Israeli Prime Minister


Ben-Gvir’s Aqsa visit/




Former Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Tuesday criticized the visit of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to the al-Aqsa Mosque complex in East Jerusalem.

"In order to allow Ben-Gvir to enjoy 13 minutes on the Temple Mount (Al-Aqsa Mosque complex)", Israel was put in a fight with half of the world,” said Lapid, who is now the opposition leader.

The former premier termed Ben-Gvir's tour as "irresponsible on a national scale and only emphasizes the weakness of (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu in the face of his ministers."

Early on Tuesday, the far-right minister entered the flashpoint site, a day after announcing he postponed the visit amid warnings of unrest.

The visit drew Palestinian and international condemnations, including the US, Jordan, Türkiye, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

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

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, in a move never recognized by the international community.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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‘Terrorist Hotspot’ To ‘Tourist Hotspot’: MHA Report On J&K

Jan 4, 2023

NEW DELHI: The home ministry on Tuesday, quoting from home minister Amit Shah’s speeches and statements made in 2022, said there was now complete control of the security forces on terrorism in J&K, which has transformed from a “terrorist hotspot” to a “tourist hotspot”. While the home ministry’s ‘year end review 2022’ document claims that 22 lakh tourists had visited Kashmir till October 5, 2022, J&K government sources told TOI that the tourist arrivals in the Valley had risen further to over 25 lakh by November 24, 2022. “This has given employment to thousands of youths,” the MHA said. According to the MHA report card, the number of terror incidents in J&K fell by 45% to 229 in 2021 from 417 in 2018 and the number of security forces martyred by 54% to 42 from 91 over the same period.

Mission 'zero terror': 2023 to wipe out 'terror eco-system' in J&K, says DGP Dilbagh Singh

“Now there are no incidents of stone pelting in Jammu & Kashmir as the government under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi is moving ahead of the path of development with firmness,” the MHA said, drawing from Shah’s statement during the inauguration of 263 development projects worth Rs 1,960 crore in Jammu region on October 4 last year. “In Jammu and Kashmir, 42,000 people succumbed to terrorism and in Delhi no one flinched an eyelid, but now under the leadership of PM Modi, there is complete control of the security forces on terrorism,” added the home ministry document.

The ministry reiterated that ‘Jamhooriyat’ (democracy) in Kashmir was only for “three families, 87 MLAs and six MPs” earlier, but now 30,000 people had been linked to it by “taking democracy to the village panches, sarpanches, BDC membe rs and zilla panchayats”.

It added that while only Rs 15,000 crore investment had come to J&K over 70 years under the previous regimes, the policy interventions by Modi gov ernment had attracted investment of nearly Rs 56,000 crore in the past three years.

Shah, while appreciating the efforts of security agencies and the administration of J&K for keeping streets free from violence and restoring the rule of law, however stressed on the need to dismantle the entire terror ecosystem while addressing a recent review meeting on J&K, said the MHA.

On the no rtheast front, the MHA said many disputes including land boundary row with Bangladesh, Bru-Reang issue, Bodo issue etc had been resolved through agreements. Also, thousands of militants in the region had surrendered their weapons and joined the mainstream of society and were now engaged in development of the country. Many areas in northeastern states of Nagaland, Assam and Manipur were taken out from the list of “disturbed areas” after decades under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, the ministry added.

Source: Times Of India

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Head constable at Israel Embassy residential complex in Delhi shoots self, dies

Jan 4, 2023

NEW DELHI: A head constable posted at Israel Embassy residential complex in South Delhi's Vasant Vihar shot himself dead on Wednesday.

The exact reason behind taking such extreme step is not yet known.

However, Delhi police said that during initial investigation, it was found that he killed himself due to domestic reasons.

Source: Times Of India

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Focus on Love Jihad, Not Small Issues Like Roads, Drains: BJP Karnataka Chief to Party Workers

New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party’s Karnataka state president has said that party workers in the state should focus on the issue of “love jihad” before the assembly elections later this year, instead of “road, gutter, drain and other small issues”. Nalin Kateel’s statement has drawn the opposition’s ire, with the Congress accusing the BJP of creating communal strife to hide its governance failures.

Chinese Construction of Waterfalls in the building 350, फीट ऊंची इमारत से बह निकला झरना - Travel Nfx

Kateel made these remarks at the BJP’s ‘Booth Vijay Abhiyaan’ for cadre in Mangaluru on Monday (January 2). “I am asking you people – don’t speak about minor issues like road and sewage. If you are worried about your children’s future and if you want to stop ‘love Jihad’, then we need BJP for that. To get rid of love jihad, we need BJP,” he said as part of his speech intended to motivate booth-level workers.

The state unit president also lauded the Union government for banning the Popular Front of India. “Had the PFI not been banned, today we wouldn’t have BJP leaders Monappa Bhandary and Hari Krishna Bantwal (of Dakshina Kannada) on stage. MLA Vedavyas Kamath would not have been here. There would have only been a garland over their photos,” he alleged, claiming that the group had planned a “series of murders”.

The Congress hit out at the leader’s remarks immediately, saying this is the worst possible advice the party could give its workers and would only polarise society. The Karnataka Congress tweeted a video of Kateel’s speech with the message, “…Development of the state, employment and education are minor issues! It’s shameful that BJP has asked its party workers not to talk about development, of which it has done little.”

“This is the worst (reply). They are not looking at development, they are looking at hate, they are looking at dividing the country…That is why we are only looking at development,” D.K. Shivakumar, Karnataka Congress chief, reportedly said. “They are just playing people on emotion. We want jobs, we want that price rise should not affect people, we are worried about the daily living of people.”

Source: The Wire

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NCP President Says, ‘BJP Of Raising Communal Issues To Divert The People’s Attention From Inflation And Unemployment’

Jan 04, 2023

Mumbai: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar on Tuesday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of raising communal issues to divert the people’s attention from inflation and unemployment.

Pawar, while addressing media in Baramati, spoke on ‘love jihad’ and said, “Those in power want to divert the attention from basic problems that are hurting interests of the common people and thus coming up with issues such as love jihad.”

His statement came in the backdrop of demands made by BJP leaders to bring anti-conversion law in Maharashtra on the lines of other BJP-ruled states.

Taking a dig at the ruling party, he said, “BJP is in power in the state along with Eknath Shinde-led Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena and at centre, so why do they need to make demands. Take a decision by taking those in confidence with whom you are sharing power. Do whatever you want, no one will oppose it.”

In December, deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had said that they are going to study laws brought by other states against religious conversion. He made the statement in the backdrop of a fresh controversy over ‘love jihad’ following the alleged murder of Shraddha Walkar by her live-in partner Aaftab Poonawala in Delhi.

He also tried to put an end to the controversy that broke out over NCP leader Ajit Pawar’s remarks on Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj by saying that he has no problem calling Sambhaji a ‘Dharmaveer’ as long as people believe the fact Sambhaji fought for protecting the state without caring for his life and other dire consequences.

The NCP supremo said there is nothing wrong in calling Chhatrapati Sambhaji as ‘Swarajya Rakshak’ (protector of independent state) considering historical facts.

“Even if someone wants to call him ‘Dharmveer’ and wants to see him through the lens of a religion, I have no complaints. It is their opinion, they have all the right to say something like that,” the veteran leader added.

Baramati MP and NCP chief’s daughter Supriya Sule said, “If you hear his (Ajit Pawar) entire speech, you will realise that he had no intention to insult Chhatrapati Sambhaji. Since BJP has no issue left and their government has completely failed in controlling issues such as inflation and unemployment, they are making such allegations against ‘dada’ which is unfortunate,” Sule said.

Source: Hindustan Times

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Assam delimitation: Questions grow over ‘communal’ district changes by Sarma, skirting deadline

by Tora Agarwala

January 4, 2023

The Election Commission’s announcement of delimitation in Assam, followed by the government’s abrupt announcement to merge four districts, has thrown a fresh pebble into the state’s troubled waters, roiled by its sensitive demographic and ethnic fault lines.

Opposition parties such as the Congress and All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) have criticised the move to alter and merge district boundaries – a day ahead of the start of the delimitation process – as “politically motivated” and “communal”, and yet another bid by the BJP government to marginalise the Bengali-origin Muslim community of Assam in the forthcoming exercise.

The EC announced on December 27 a plan to carry out delimitation of the parliamentary and Assembly constituencies in Assam based on the 2001 Census, following years of deferral. Assam currently has 14 Lok Sabha and 126 Assembly constituencies; and as per the provisions under which the exercise is being held, the current delimitation cannot result in any change in the number of seats, though there can be alteration of boundaries.

The EC directive banned creation of any new administrative units starting January 1, till the completion of the exercise. On December 31, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma held a Cabinet meeting – in Delhi – after which he announced the merger of Tamulpur district with Baksa, Hojai with Nagaon, Biswanath with Sonitpur, and Bajali with Barpeta, along with changes in boundaries of at least 14 other districts.

Sarma denied that the district mergers and changes were linked to delimitation, and said the reason was only “administrative” and would help the districts. However, in reply to a query, he said the redrawing of the districts may have “some impact” on delimitation too.

AIUDF MLA Aminul Islam said the reason was clear, and that while the merger of the districts would not benefit any community in Assam, it was “political messaging to the Muslims to show where they stand, and to reiterate that the majority community will get their way”. Islam said the target was specifically the Bengali-origin community, the AIUDF’s main support base, often labelled “outsiders” in the state.

In his media interaction Sunday, while he denied that the decision over district changes had anything to do with it, Sarma said the delimitation would serve the interests of the “indigenous people”. “The NRC was unsuccessful and the Assam Accord (to end the anti-outsider agitation in the state) also did not live up to expectations. Delimitation can be one exercise that can safeguard Assam’s future for the next two decades at least,” said Sarma, without clarifying.

Opposition leaders said areas were being merged in a manner that the resultant constituencies do not remain exclusive for Bengali Muslims. “It will be a safeguard for the BJP and RSS, not Assam,” said Lurinjyoti Gogoi, president of the Asom Jatiya Parishad, a regional political party.

Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia of the Congress said the district merger ahead of the delimitation made it clear that the whole exercise was meant “to satisfy the need of one political party”. Several Muslim-majority areas such as Hojai in central Assam and Badarpur in south Assam were being “balanced” with areas which had Hindu populations, he said. “They are trying to merge Muslim-dominated areas with Hindu areas, so that the Muslim vote gets diluted,” Saikia alleged.

The AIUDF’s Islam said apart from trying to “decrease the seats for Muslims”, the attempt was also to keep the constituencies reserved for SCs and STs fewer, so as to “increase the seats for the majority (Hindus)”.

Delimitation was meant to provide equal representation for equal population segments, based on a fair division of geographical areas, Islam added. “No political party should have an advantage.”

Sarma argued against such criticism saying the delimitation would be a data-based, non-political exercise, “without depriving anyone of their rights”, or without favouring one community over the other. “The Bengali Muslim population is the reality of life… In districts like Karimganj Hailakandi, the community makes up 50 per cent of the population,” he said. But, the CM added, “Assam needs to protect itself”.

Apart from concerns of the Bengali-origin Muslim community, there is also some anxiety among residents about losing district status, some of which had been created with the promise of better, timely development. Bajali and Tamulpur, now merged into other districts, in fact, were declared districts after the BJP came to power in Assam. Tuesday saw sporadic protests in some areas where boundaries have been altered.

Delimitation last happened in Assam in 1976. While several states saw a fresh round of the exercise in the first decade of the 2000s, it was deferred in Assam multiple times because political parties opposed it citing the ongoing updation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), a list of bona fide citizens living in the state. However, in February, 2020, the Union Law Ministry passed an order noting that the circumstances that led to the deferring of delimitation in Assam “have ceased to exist”.

In 2021, the BJP in its Assam Assembly elections manifesto promised delimitation to “protect political rights of people”. Many analysts saw this as damage control to placate “indigenous” interests after the party faced massive protests because of passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which promised speedier citizenship to migrants from neighbouring countries who were religious minorities there. This was seen as a way to accommodate Hindu migrants from Bangladesh, which were as much a target of the Assam anti-outsider agitation as their Muslim counterparts.

The 2001 Census put Muslims at 30.9 per cent of Assam’s population, which went up to 34.22 per cent of the 2011 Census. A large number of them are Bengali-origin Muslims, often labelled Bangladeshis and derided as “outsiders” and a “threat” to the “indigenous” population of Assam.
Source: Indian Express

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‘World should be more concerned about terrorism’: India’s foreign minister digs at Pakistan

By Fidel Rahmati

January 3, 2023

During a press conference S. Jaishankar, the external affairs minister of India, with his Australian counterpart on Monday, cautioned the world about the threat of terrorism.

He continued by saying that the impact of cross-border terrorism could not be contained to a single region, mainly when they are closely linked to the trafficking of drugs, illegal weapons, and other types of global crime.

He also called Pakistan the “epicentre of terrorism” and terror emanating from its soil. Therefore, the epicentre of terrorism is located close to India, said in an Australian TV program.

He further added, “Pakistan is a country which attacked the parliament of India some years ago, which attacked the city of Mumbai, which went after hotels, and foreign tourists, which every day send terrorists across the border.”

He continued, “Our expertise and thoughts are helpful to the world on counter-terrorism because the epicentre of terrorism is situated near India.

He also noticed the European countries for not condemning Pakistan. He asked the audience, “Why don’t I hear sharp European condemnation of these practices that have been going on for decades.” I think the world needs to be concerned about how sincerely and firmly it takes up the challenges of terrorism, he said.

Source: Khaama Press

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North America


Bomb disposal team attend Edinburgh Central Mosque over suspicious items

Soraya Ebrahimi

Jan 04, 2023

Bomb disposal experts and police have been called to Edinburgh Central Mosque after suspicious packages were found in the building.

Emergency services were alerted to the incident at 9.30am on Tuesday and police have since swarmed the area and closed off nearby streets.

It is understood that no local addresses or businesses have been evacuated.

“Police were called to a report of a suspicious item found within a mosque on Potterrow, Edinburgh,” a Police Scotland representative said.

"A cordon has been put in place as a precaution and the EOD [explosive ordnance disposal squad] are in attendance."

The mosque's Facebook page carried a post saying: “Edinburgh Central Mosque will be closed today for the next few hours and until further notice.

“This is due to a couple of bags that we discovered inside the premises early this morning.

“The police have been notified about the bags and following a review of CCTV they have advised that we evacuate the building and stop any activities until they have removed the bags.

Source: The National News

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Mosque in Sacramento firebombed in suspected hate crime attack

03 January, 2023

Brooke Anderson

A Molotov cocktail that exploded in a mosque over the Christmas holiday weekend in northern California is suspected to be a hate crime.

The attack took place at the Islamic Center in Tracy near the state capital of Sacramento. Though no one was there at the time, the damage from the improvised explosive was significant, causing fire damage to the building.

"It's very clear to me it's a hate crime," Ghaleb Abdulla, a member of the board of trustees at the Islamic Center, was quoted as saying by local media. He added that this was the first time in 15 years they'd had to call law enforcement over such an incident. However, it comes at a time when there is a rise in attacks on mosques across the United States.

Surveillance footage shows what appears to be a man holding in his hand a large object that he throws into the mosque later that day.

"Because a house of worship was targeted by this act of vandalism, we urge law enforcement authorities to investigate a possible bias motive for this troubling incident, to conduct a swift and thorough investigation and to bring appropriate charges when a suspect is apprehended," said Basim Elkarra, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Sacramento Valley/Central California, in a public statement.

"Despite these types of attacks, we will work to create safe places for Muslims and all other faith communities," Elkarra added.

Source: The New Arab

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US says Pakistan ‘has right to defend itself from terrorism’

January 4, 2023

The United States has thrown its weight behind the counter-terrorism decisions taken by the National Security Committee (NSC) in its recent meeting, saying “Pakistan has a right to defend itself from terrorism”.

The statement from US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price comes two days after the NSC — the highest civil-military forum for decisions on matters pertaining to national security — expressed firm resolve to crush terrorist groups operating against Pakistan.

In the NSC meeting that spanned for two days from Dec 31 to Jan 1, the forum had categorically asked Afghanistan’s rulers — without directly naming them — to deny safe haven to Pakistani terrorist groups on its soil and end their patronage, while reiterating its intent to crush terrorist groups operating inside the country with full force.

The uncharacteristically strong-worded statement issued at the end of the NSC meeting said: “Pakistan’s security is uncompromisable and the full writ of the state will be maintained on every inch of Pakistan’s territory.”

At a press briefing on Tuesday, the US State Department spokesperson said the US was aware of the NSC’s recent statement.

“The Pakistani people have suffered tremendously from terrorist attacks. Pakistan has a right to defend itself from terrorism,” Price said in response to a question.

He said that the [Afghan] Taliban must uphold the very commitment they had made that their soil would never be used as a launchpad for international terrorist attacks.

“These are among the very commitments that the Taliban have been unable or unwilling to fulfil to date,” he added.

The meeting, which was chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and attended by key ministers, services chiefs, and top intelligence officials, also endorsed the government’s road map for the restoration of economic stability in the country.

The NSC meeting was called to deliberate on the surge in terrorist attacks and the deepening economic crisis.

Most of the attacks have been carried out by the proscribed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

The increase in border incidents involving Taliban forces was also discussed at the forum.

The committee agreed on a number of steps to deal with the worsening security situation, which has also drawn the attention of a number of important capitals prompting them to issue advisories for their nationals residing here.

The most important of all these actions was to send an unequivocal message to neighbouring Afghanistan to end all its support to TTP.

“No country will be allowed to provide sanctuaries and facilitation to terrorists and Pakistan reserves all rights in that respect to safeguard her people,” the NSC statement read.

Source: Dawn

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Canada arrests man for 'death and terrorism-related threats' on Twitter

Servet Gunerigok 



Canada police arrested a man for making threats on Twitter who was later released.

Daniel Houde, 19, from Ottawa, made "death and terrorism-related threats" on the social media platform, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

"The threats targeted, Parliament Hill, the Department of Defense, the Embassy of the People's Republic of China, as well as the Embassy of the United States of America in Ottawa," it said.

The RCMP said its Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET) in Ottawa was made aware of the threats Nov. 8.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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US opposes rehabilitating Syria’s ‘brutal Assad after Turkey thaw

04 January ,2023

The United States called Tuesday on all nations to think twice about rehabilitating Syria's “brutal” President Bashar al-Assad after his defense minister held a breakthrough meeting with Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a key supporter of rebels seeking to topple Assad since 2011, has voiced openness to meeting the Syrian leader after rival neighbors' defense ministers met last week in Russia.

“We do not support countries upgrading their relations or expressing support to rehabilitate the brutal dictator Bashar al-Assad,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

“We urge states to carefully consider the Assad regime's atrocious human rights record of the past 12 years as it continues to inflict atrocities on the Syrian people and to deny access to life-saving humanitarian aid,” Price said.

Assad, helped by Russian airpower, has largely restored control over Syria after the conflict that has killed half a million people, displaced half the country's pre-war population and saw the rise of the ISIS extremist group.

Hoping to assuage the opposition, Turkey on Tuesday welcomed its leaders and reiterated support for a UN Security Council resolution that calls for a political settlement in Syria.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Pakistan Has the Right to Defend Itself Against Threats of Terrorism: US

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

January 4, 2023

Ned Price, the Spokesperson of the United States Department of State has said that Pakistan has every right to defend itself against the growing threats of terrorism.

The U.S. Department of States Spokesperson Ned Price on Tuesday defended Pakistan’s decisiveness against the terror groups and said, the people of Pakistan have immensely suffered from terror attacks over the past years. Therefore, Pakistan has the absolute right to defend itself against the threats of terrorism.

This comes as Pakistan’s National Security Council chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday conducted a consultative meeting with the country’s high-ranking military and security officials to discuss security issues and rising militancy in the country.

During the meeting, it was clearly stated that no country can host terrorism if it wants to be part of the international community, and not to live in complete isolation.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Center for Strategic and International Studies has highlighted in its annual report that the number of terror incidents in the country has been the highest in December over the past decade resulting in the death and injury of scores of civilians and military personnel.

Islamabad has pointed out that the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) uses Afghan soil to launch their attacks on Pakistan, prompting serious criticism from the Afghan Taliban authorities in Kabul describing the act as ‘provocative and irresponsible’.  

Source: Khaama Press

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Turkish drone shows illegal Greek pushback of irregular migrants

Faruk Zorlu  


A Turkish naval drone recorded footage of Greek forces illegally pushing back a boat carrying irregular migrants to Turkish territorial waters, the National Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.

The illegal Greek pushback was recorded north of the Greek island of Lesbos (Midilli) in the Aegean Sea on Dec. 30, the ministry said in a tweet.

The Turkish Coast Guard was immediately informed and rescued the irregular migrants, it added.

Ankara and international human rights groups have repeatedly condemned Greece’s illegal practice of pushing back asylum seekers, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable people, including women and children.

Türkiye has been a key transit point for irregular migrants who want to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution in their countries.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Russia planning 'prolonged attack' with Iranian-made drones: Ukrainian president

Burc Eruygur  


Russia is planning a prolonged campaign of drone attacks on Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, urging his forces to remain on high alert.

“We have information that Russia is planning a prolonged attack with Shaheds,” Zelenskyy said in a video address on Monday night, referring to the Iranian-made drones being used by Moscow in the ongoing war.

“Its bet may be on exhaustion. On exhaustion of our people, our air defense, our energy sector,” he added.

He asserted that Ukraine will do everything to ensure that this offensive “fails like all the others.”

Earlier in the day, Ukrainian authorities reported shooting down at least 22 out of 40 drones over the capital Kyiv.

Zelenskyy heaped praise on Ukrainian forces for their efforts, stressing that “everyone involved in the protection of Ukrainian skies should be especially attentive.”

With Russia confirming on Monday the loss of 63 soldiers in one of the deadliest Ukrainian attacks on its forces in eastern Donetsk, Zelenskyy said Moscow is facing a desperate need to “mobilize emotions” to make its people believe that “everything is going according to the plan.”

“Our task is to give Ukraine successes, achievements, even small victories every day,” he said.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Dutch analyst targeted by PKK for exposing terror group’s oppression in Syria

Muhammed Enes Calli  


While preparing for a run near her home in Istanbul on Dec. 2, a Dutch researcher received two unexpected emails with a death threat and a warning.

"Hey, I have been following your Twitter page for a while ... You are officially set on a hit list. Be warned that we are following your steps everywhere and that we will find you, no matter if you are in Istanbul, Turkey or Amsterdam in Netherlands," said the email, accusing the researcher of being a "Muslim Brotherhood supporter."

"We will deliver something soon to your house door as proof of this," the email concluded.

Rena Netjes felt unsafe and did not want to leave her home after that message. For her, it was not hard to discern why she got it. The long-time researcher and journalist has been covering the Middle East for more than 25 years and is critical of the PKK/YPG terrorist group's activities in northern Syria.

After Netjes received a total of 12 such emails in a single month, as well as death threats from the PKK terror group through its social media accounts, she finally went public with the threats via Twitter on Sunday.

PKK/YPG's attacks on locals

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Netjes, 56, said she has been conducting research on the PKK/YPG's presence in Syria, as well as its oppressive policies on those living in the area it occupies, kidnapping people and driving opponents out of their homes. In recent years, she published reports highlighting the terror group's pressure on people.

"I interviewed people who were expelled by the PKK and crossed the border from Syria into Türkiye. I asked them in Arabic why they fled. I thought they would say the reason is Russian forces or the Assad regime. But to my surprise, women were saying the YPG have taken their homes, which was a starting point for me."

These were lived experiences different from the stories Netjes heard in most Western media, prompting her to learn more about what was really happening in Syria. She visited the country's north four times in the last few years for in-depth information for her research.

The terror group and its supporters also vowed to target her social media accounts.

One of the emails she received from an email account called "RojavaKurd" account says: "We launched attacks against your Facebook, and we will target your Instagram and Twitter in the future."

"Your website will be shut down by DDoS (denial-of-service) attacks. We will never let (allow) Turkish propaganda by you against Rojava. You have been warned. Greetings from France!"

Another email, titled "You will be dead soon," was more specific:

"Did you know that your life is worth just $9,000? It is pretty easy to end your life, without us doing the dirty work. There are services on the Dark Web, and we could assign a hitman to kill you and end your miserable life."

All those threats are familiar to Netjes, who recently investigated the YPG/PKK's brutal activities in the region.

"I had written about it in the Atlantic Council two years ago, about several Kurds who were killed by the PKK/YPG. I met relatives and colleagues of them. But I did not expect that I would find myself receiving similar threats."

"So, I know it's not a joke. It can be real, and that's why I took it seriously and went public. The story is not about me. It's about the people inside Syria who are suffering. Let me then be the voice for those people who suffered and became victims of the PKK/YPG."

Threats of fake dating app profiles, LGBT-related sites

Netjes believes she is being targeted by the PKK/YPG due to her criticism of the terror group's activities as a "Western" researcher, in contrast to most of her Western colleagues, who ignore the PKK/YPG's attacks on local people.

"I am one of the few Westerners who know Arabic and regularly goes into opposition-controlled areas of Syria. The majority of Kurds are against the PKK/YPG, as they're suffering. Many young Kurds who fled don't want to be conscripted by the YPG to fight fellow Syrians. Kurds don't want to go back after leaving Syria due to the Daesh(/ISIS) threat, but also for the YPG. They don't go back. I have met many of them."

"The US military was looking for a group that they would use against Daesh. But they overlook the context, I think, and they overlook also what the group is doing, because the US, for example, is very much against the Assad regime. But, the PKK has very close connections with the Assad regime and they give them oil."

Netjes has been living in Türkiye since July 2018 and contacted the Dutch authorities and shared the messages with Turkish security forces following the death threats.

Other messages from accounts linked to the terror group say they created multiple fake profiles to use on dating apps and LGBT-related sites using a photo of her.

"Don't worry. Our network spans from France to Greece and Turkey. We will do whatever it takes to find you. We are coming for you!" the group said in another email.

Despite the threats, Netjes continues to study the region and will soon publish an article on the reasons why large numbers of people are leaving northeastern Syria.

The PKK and its Syrian branch, the YPG, have used terrorist bases across Türkiye's border in northern Iraq and northern Syria to plot and carry out attacks on Türkiye. The group has worked to create a terrorist corridor along the Syrian border, threatening both Syrian locals and nearby Turkish residents.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Europe’s security, energy problems boost Israeli ties with countries on continent: Foreign minister

Seda Sevencan  


Israel’s foreign minister said Monday that Europe’s security and energy challenges give Tel Aviv the opportunity to strengthen relations with European countries, according to the country’s Foreign Ministry.

Speaking at a press conference, Eli Cohen said that their priority will be the strategic relations with their “closest ally” the US: “There is no substitute for Israel-US relations. It is a long-term strategic partnership based first and foremost on common values as well as on common interests.”

On Europe’s security and energy problems, Cohen said: “The challenges faced by Europe vis-a-vis security and energy position Israel as a key player. This is an opportunity to deepen and strengthen the relationship with European countries in comparison to recent years.”

Cohen added: “With regard to the Russia-Ukraine issue, we will do one thing for certain – in public – we will talk less.” 

 ‘Palestinian efforts to harm Israel will backfire’

Alongside the strengthening of independent security capabilities for every scenario, Israel will concentrate on forming an international front to prevent a nuclear Iran, Cohen said.

He also claimed that Palestinian attempts to harm Israel in the international arena will exact a price from them, “pushing resolution of the conflict further away.”

On the normalization deals between Israel and several Arab states since the fall of 2020, Cohen said the Abraham Accords “dramatically changed the face of the Middle East.”

The trade volumes between Israel and the countries of the Abraham Accords passed the threshold of 10 billion Israeli shekels ($2.85 million) in the last year alone. “Beyond the economic contribution, there is a very significant security contribution to the countries involved as well as to the strengthening of regional stability.”

Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in as Israel's prime minister for a sixth time last week, leading a government seen as the most far-right in the country’s history.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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South Asia


Want religious, modern subjects to be taught in Afghanistan: Taliban minister

3 January, 2023

Kabul [Afghanistan], January 3 (ANI): The Taliban wants both religious and modern subjects to be taught in Afghanistan, said Taliban acting minister of higher education Neda Mohammad Nadim on Tuesday.

He made these remarks at an event at Kabul University less than a month after a ban on female students attending higher education institutes drew flak from countries across the world, TOLOnews reported.

“The curriculum revision and attention to progress are necessary for our society and is the way forward,” said Nadim. Further Taliban appointed Deputy Minister of Higher Education Lotfullah Khairkhwah mentioned that the higher education curriculum will be prepared based on religious and national values with international educational standards.

The Tolo News further quotes Khairkhwah saying that “We ask our university lecturers to make a curriculum that can protect our nation and religious values,”. This change in curriculum will be taking place in all faculties of universities.

Prior to this, in December last year, Nadim had said that there is no opposition to the barring of women from university education in the country.

Nadim said, “there has been no opposition to the education of girls as per the recent decree of this ministry”. He further said that the Taliban does not intend to oppose the education of the new generation but wants to develop a system according to the Islamic Sharia law and the values of Afghanistan.

The Taliban-appointed education minister also pointed out the formation of a joint commission between the education ministry and university professors to reiterate these sectors should prepare in accordance with the legal provisions of the church.

However, to express their frustration and anger on the issues of university education for female students banned by the

Taliban, many male students from private and public universities have gone on strike chanting slogans like “education for all or none”. Further Khaama Press report said that with Afghan women being deprived of getting an education, some university lecturers have resigned from their positions.

Contradicting Nadim’s opinion on the education ban for female students in Afghanistan, the Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, Ahmed El-Tayeb called for the Taliban to reconsider their decision to ban Afghan women from accessing university education, saying the decision contradicts Sharia.

The Grand Imam said that he “deeply” regrets the decision issued by the authorities in Afghanistan, preventing Afghan women’s access to university education.

Source: The Print

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ISIS-Khorasan Poses Threat To Taliban In Afghanistan: Afghan Diaspora Network Report

January 03, 2023

Islamabad: Islamic State Khorasan Province's (ISKP), the regional affiliate of the terrorist group ISIS, is lodged in a power tussle with the Taliban in Afghanistan. The group is gaining momentum and poses a major challenge to the Taliban, who is also seeking international support, as it failed to contain terrorism and improve its human rights record, the Afghan Diaspora Network reported.

The target of ISKP is to threaten diplomatic missions, international organizations such as the UN and various NGOs in the region. It also aims to challenge Taliban's increased hobnobbing with China and the US, it said.

Taliban would not only find it difficult to maintain its supremacy but also to seek international support as it is failing to contain terrorism and improve its human rights record. Peace would never be a reality without shunning terrorism and repression.

Recently, ISKP attacked the "Longan Hotel" which is frequently visited by Chinese visitors and other foreign nationals, indicating that the attack is the beginning of the next phase of terrorist disturbances in Afghanistan, according to some observers.

Not only at the hotel, but ISKP has also made Pakistan Charge d'Affaire as their target. The ISKP attempted to assassinate Pakistan Charge d'Affaire Ubaid-ur-Rehman Nizamani, at his residence inside its embassy.

These attacks may jeopardise the Taliban regime's efforts to enhance its global strategic engagements including economic engagements, according to the Afghan Diaspora Network citing analysts.

These attacks have exposed the Taliban's constraints and undermined its capacity to protect its global partners and its supremacy. It showed that it could not provide foolproof security for the diplomatic establishments.

In the last few years, ISKP had accelerated its attacks in Afghanistan and is now seeking prominence in political matters of the state as well. It is finding terror attacks as a handy tool to enhance its presence and control in the country. Although the ISKP had indicated that the attack aimed to take revenge and caution China over its crackdown on Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, the other underlying objective is to curb Beijing's diplomatic overtures to the Taliban regime since it assumed power in August 2021.

ISPK, which projects itself as an alternative to the Taliban, apprehends that Taliban's rule in Afghanistan is fast becoming inevitable and the world is slowly going to restart engagement with the Islamist party which has not been recognised so far by any country.

It accuses the Taliban of abandoning the jihadi ideology by making peace with the United States and betraying the cause of Muslims. ISKP also seeks to mobilise mass support for its actions by taking refuge in the tenets of Islam and the pretext of its protection, the Afghan Diaspora Network reported.

Earlier, ISKP had also attacked the Russian embassy. ISKP's terror attacks are the product of a well-calculated strategy to garner maximum publicity and impact. It has been targeting high-profile landmarks like embassies or ethnic minorities like Shia and Hazaras. The series of attacks intended to compel Russia, China and other dominant influencers in Kabul to review their strategy and engagements in Afghanistan. ISKP is displaying contempt for the international powers which sympathize with the Taliban. Pakistan is also not an exception.

Terrorism has its own boomerang effects. Taliban cannot prevent other terrorist outfits from the acts it adopted as a strategy to capture power and bog down people to accept its version of Islamic precepts and practices, howsoever retrograde, reported Afghan Diaspora Network.

Source: ND TV

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Islamic Emirate Calls Recent Remarks by Pakistani Officials Disappointing

By Imran Danish

The Islamic Emirate on Tuesday said that the recent remarks by Pakistani officials about Afghanistan are disappointing.

The Islamic Emirate wants good relations with all neighboring countries, including Pakistan, rejecting recent remarks by Pakistani officials as untrue, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.

“The Islamic Emirate is making utmost efforts to avoid the use of Afghanistan’s soil against Pakistan or any other country,” Mujahid said.

Earlier, Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif in an interview with the GEO News said that Afghanistan’s soil is being used against Pakistan despite an agreement with “the Taliban government.”

“We are in contact with the Afghan authorities and we hope based on the relations they have with us, prevent terrorism and don't allow the Afghan soil to be used against other countries," he said.

Pakistan’s National Security Council said on Monday that no country will be “allowed to provide sanctuaries and facilitation to terrorists.”

Former President Hamid Karzai in reaction to Pakistan NSC's recent meeting chaired by Pakistani PM Shehbaz Sharif said on Twitter: "The people of Pakistan are Afghans' neighbors and brothers but insecurity and the current situation in Pakistan are mostly due to policies of the Pakistani government."

Karzai called on the Pakistani government to have a "deep review" of its policies of the past decades and make changes in it and avoid threats over the use of excessive force and facilitate good and civilized relations with Afghanistan to ensure stability and peace in the region.

“When Pakistan expressed the comments about terrorists taking advantage of other soil, I think it is pointing to Afghanistan because there is no such issue with India now,” said Tahir Khan, a Pakistani journalist.

Analysts said that the two sides should find solution to the problem through negotiations.

“If there is any problem between the two countries, it should be solved through negotiations. Threatening each other will not solve the problems,” said Hassan Haqyar, a political analyst.

“Pakistan is trying to have an obvious and hidden hostility. These issues are at the level of allegations and Pakistan has not shared any evidence that Afghan soil has been used against Pakistan,” said Janat Fahim Chakari, a political analyst.

The tensions between the two neighboring countries have surged after Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said Islamabad may attack the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) hideouts in Afghanistan if Kabul does not take action to dismantle them.

Source: Tolo News

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Islamic Emirate Works on Permanent Solution to Women's Education, Work: MoI

By Nazir Shinwari

The Ministry of Interior Affairs said that the leadership of the Islamic Emirate is working on ways to reopen universities for women and facilitate their access to work.

Acting Minister of Interior Sirajuddin Haqqani met with UNAMA’s envoy Markus Potzel.

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said that Potzel shared his concerns about restrictions on women and girls' education.

Haqqani said that efforts are underway to find a permanent solution for it within the Sharia law and Afghan culture, according to the MoI.

“The interior minister said that the Islamic Emirate leadership is committed to the welfare and prosperity of the people and that efforts are underway to address the problem,” said Abdul Nafay Takor, MoI’s spokesman.

The UN Assistant Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said on Twitter that Potzel conveyed the international community’s call to lift “bans on work and education for women and girls.”

“The ban on Afghan women aid workers will deepen the humanitarian crisis creating greater economic misery and further Afghanistan’s isolation,” UNAMA said.

The ban on women aid workers “affects the provision of humanitarian aid,” said Darya Khan Baheer, an economic affairs analyst. “It also has a negative impact on the country's economy.”

Female students urged the Islamic Emirate to review its decision about the suspension of higher education for women.

“I call on the Islamic Emirate government to reopen universities for women,” said Suraya  Nabizada, a student.

“They want to go to university. They were at the university but the universities were suddenly closed for them,"” said Zakia Alami, a student.

On Tuesday, Fran Equiza, the UN’s Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, met with Mohammad Abbas Akhund, the acting minister of disaster management.

Source: Tolo News

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185 former Afghan Army officers left stuck in India

By Fidel Rahmati

January 3, 2023

Afghanistan was a major beneficiary of India’s military training programs among the regional countries before the fall of the Republic government in the dim-August of 2021.

The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDFA) was allowed to apply for up to 1,000 slots each year at Indian institutes, including the Indian Army Academy in Dehradun and the Officers Training Academy in Chennai.

After the fall of Kabul and took over of Afghanistan by the present regime, the Afghan officers and police who were in training in India could return to Afghanistan.

However, after the fall of Kabul, the Indian government allowed 185 Cades of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDFS), who were stranded in the country, to undergo a 12-month training or receive medical care. despite that, now they are facing an uncertain future in New Delhi.

The officials in New Delhi said they had further training to advance their knowledge and better serve their nation. However, they expressed sorrow that they could not return to their country to serve the nation.

They also stated that neither they could return home nor financially get support. As a result, they are struggling financially and facing psychological issues.

Despite calling for a national amnesty, the acting administration in Afghanistan still reports detained, prosecuted, tortured, and missing dozens of former Afghan army soldiers, police officers, and former national security personnel, said one of the officers.

Source: Khaama Press

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Palestinian PM, Mohammad Shtayyeh, Accuses Israel Of ‘Plan To Turn Al-Aqsa Mosque Into Jewish Temple’

03 January ,2023

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh cast a visit by a far-right Israeli official to a contested Jerusalem holy site on Tuesday as a bid to turn a major mosque there “into a Jewish temple.”

Addressing his cabinet, Shtayyeh also called on Palestinians to “confront the raids into al-Aqsa Mosque” after Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir toured the periphery of the mosque compound. Ben-Gvir did not approach the mosque.

Israel denies having such designs. Ben-Gvir once advocated ending a ban on Jewish prayer at the site, but has been more non-committal on the issue since aligning with Benjamin Netanyahu. Other members of his Jewish Power party still advocate such a move.

The rise of Ben-Gvir in Netanyahu’s government, one of the most right-wing in Israel’s history, has deepened Palestinian anger about their long-failed efforts to secure a state.

Hours before the visit, Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian teenager in a clash in nearby Bethlehem, medical officials and witnesses said, the latest in a growing death toll in the West Bank. Israel’s army said troops fired on Palestinians who threw improvised explosives, rocks and firebombs at them.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Top Commander Warns of Iranian Armed Forces' Decisive Response to Israeli Threats


Maj. Gen. Mousavi raised the alarm on the last day of Zolfaqar 1401 joint drills on Monday, which included three days of exercises held over an area stretching from the Strait of Hormuz all the way to the Sea of Oman and North of the Indian Ocean.

“We often hear nonsensical comments from the Zionist regime and some of their officials. We tell them that in case of a threat directed at any part of the Islamic Republic of Iran from the Zionist regime, the [Iranian] Armed Forces will respond decisively and with multiple force,” the senior commander told reporters.

“In the past few days, the Iranian Army showcased some of its capabilities in defending the country and responding to the enemy,” he continued, adding, “We have shown the world that we can respond to any threat in the best way.”

Pointing to the Zolfaqar 1401 wargames, Mousavi said the military exercises were aimed at deterrence and security, and were carried out so that aggressor countries and those who are belligerent and totalitarian avoid miscalculations in thinking that they can invade another country.

Stressing that the Zionist regime is now at the nadir of its rootless history, the chief commander noted, “That is why the prime minister of that regime has been forced to form a coalition with the most radical people in order to organize his messy cabinet.”

The Israeli regime's new cabinet, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has announced an end to the “Arab-Israeli conflict” would be his top priority, as well as stopping Iran’s nuclear programme and building up Israel’s military capacity.

Military officials have warned that any mistake by the US and Israel will be met with Tehran's crushing response. Iranian officials say Washington and Tel Aviv are well aware of Tehran’s capabilities and capacities, and caution that Tehran does not compromise or joke with its national security.

Iran says the Israeli regime is just playing mouth as it lacks the power and needed capability to take real action against Tehran, but, meantime warns that it won't be hesitant to devastate Israel in case of the slightest move by Zionist regime.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran Upholds Death Sentences For Two Male Teenage Protesters

03 January ,2023

Iran’s judiciary upheld death sentences for two male teenagers who had taken part in anti-government protests that have gripped the country since September.

If the executions are carried out they will be the youngest people put to death since unrest erupted over Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died in police custody in Tehran after being detained for allegedly flouting Islamic dress codes.

The protests, dominated by young women and men, have become some of the biggest against Iran’s theocratic leadership since it took power after a revolution in 1979. An increasing crackdown by authorities has triggered international condemnation.

Mehdi Mohammadifard, 18, has been sentenced to death on charges of “warring against God and “corruption on earth, the judiciary’s official website, Mizan Online, said on Tuesday. It said he had confessed to making a Molotov cocktail using a water bottle and petrol.

Mohammad Boroughani, 19, has also had his death sentence confirmed, Mizan said on Monday, despite public pleas from his family and several rights groups including Amnesty International.

It’s unclear whether they had lodged formal appeals against the sentences and Mizan said that Mohammadifard’s sentence can still be challenged or appealed in Iran’s supreme court.

The death sentences of two others, 22-year-old Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Mohammad Hosseini have also been upheld, the semi-official Fars news reported on Tuesday.

The Islamic Republic has already hanged two 23-year-olds arrested in the protests. The Iran Human Rights group has identified 39 others who have either been officially sentenced to death or are at risk of capital punishment because of their charges.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israel’s Netanyahu committed to al-Aqsa status quo, official says

03 January ,2023

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is committed to “strictly keeping the status quo” at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, an official in his office said on Tuesday, after an ultra-nationalist minister’s visit sparked Arab condemnation.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israeli forces kill Palestinian child in Bethlehem: Ministry

03 January ,2023

Israeli forces killed a child in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Tuesday, the Palestinian health ministry reported, as Israel said police officers fired on people throwing Molotov cocktails.

The health ministry announced “the death of the child Adam Essam Shaker Ayyad, 15, with a bullet in the chest fired by the occupation soldiers during the aggression on Bethlehem at dawn today.”

“Israel’s military said rocks and Molotov cocktails were thrown at border police officers during an operation in Bethlehem’s Dheisheh refugee camp.

“The forces fired toward Molotov cocktails (sic) hurlers who risked their lives, hits were identified,” the army said in a statement.

The official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, reported clashes erupted when Israeli forces entered Dheisheh, in the southern occupied West Bank, to search houses.

Ayyad is the third Palestinian killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank since the start of the year.

On Monday two Palestinian men were shot dead in the northern city of Jenin, when clashes broke out as the army demolished the homes of two Palestinians accused of killing an Israeli soldier in September.

More than 150 Palestinians and 26 Israelis were killed last year across Israel and the West Bank, including Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, according to an AFP tally.

In December, the United Nations said 2022 was the deadliest year in the West Bank since its records began in 2005.

The inauguration last week of the most right-wing government in Israel’s history, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, has sparked fears of a military escalation in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War.

Two of Netanyahu’s extreme-right coalition partners have taken charge of critical powers regarding the West Bank.

Source: Al Arabiya

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EU peace envoy calls for maintaining status quo at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa

Qais Abu Samra 


RAMALLAH, Palestine

The EU Middle East peace envoy on Tuesday called for maintaining the status quo at East Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.

Tension escalated across the Palestinian territories early Tuesday when Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the Al-Aqsa complex despite warnings that it could stoke tension.

The EU’s Sven Koopmans tweeted that the "internationally agreed" status quo on the holy sites in Jerusalem along with Jordan's custodianship over these sites "are essential to regional peace, stability and the equilibrium between the major religions in Jerusalem."

The status quo allows Muslims to worship at the Al-Aqsa complex and followers of other religions to visit the site.

Ben-Gvir’s visit triggered a storm of Palestinian and international condemnations, including from the US, Jordan, Türkiye, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

In the face of growing condemnations of the visit, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday he is committed to the status quo at the flashpoint site.

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

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Houthis abduct 3 YouTubers amid social media influencer crackdown


January 03, 2023

AL-MUKALLA: Three well-known Yemeni YouTubers have been kidnapped by Houthis in Sanaa, as the militia steps up its crackdown on online influencers who expose its leaders’ flaws.

Activists reported that Houthis have abducted Mustafa Al-Mumari, Hamoud Al-Mesbahi, and Ahmed Elaw for posting videos on social media which support prominent YouTuber Ahmed Hajar, who was seized from a Sanaa street more than 10 days ago.

The social media posts also criticized widespread corruption and the failure to address famine.

Al-Mumari is a popular social media personality in Yemen with more than 2 million YouTube subscribers and tens of thousands of Facebook fans.

He had earlier appeared in a video in which he sharply criticized the Houthis for kidnapping his friend, Hajar.

He urged the Houthis to combat rampant institutional corruption, and named some “corrupt” Houthi leaders.

He added: “If you are trustworthy and searching for the corrupt, I will provide you with evidence.

“If my claims are untrue, put me to death; if they are genuine, hold those (corrupt officials) responsible.”

Al-Mumari and Al-Mesbahi were kidnapped from a street in Sanaa and taken to a security facility shortly after the video was posted.

Elaw had made a video on his channel three days ago demanding the release of his detained friends, and warning the Houthis against ignoring corruption or popular unrest.

He said: “We shall not forget our imprisoned brethren and will continue to advocate for their release.”

The Houthis quickly stormed his home and kidnapped him.

The abductions came as a Yemeni attorney in Sanaa said on Tuesday that Houthi intelligence, security personnel and prosecutors had begun interrogating Hajar in preparation for his trial.

Lawyer Abdul Majeed Sabra told Arab News: “The specialized criminal prosecution is now interrogating Ahmed Hajar at the Shamlan building of the Security and Intelligence Service.”

The Houthis have not yet claimed responsibility for the abduction of the recent set of YouTubers, but their supporters claimed their social media posts had been backed by the militia’s adversaries.

Abdulsalam Jahaf, a member of the Houthi Shoura Council, said: “Anyone who serves the enemy is an enemy, and the security services are tasked with apprehending anyone who attempts to compromise our security.”

Yemeni officials and analysts believe that the campaign by the Houthis against social media influencers is aimed at silencing prominent figures who can reach millions of Yemenis.

Yemen’s Minister of Information Muammar Al-Eryani said the Houthis fear an uprising owing to their repressive rule, inability to pay public wages, and failure to provide services.

He added: “These frantic campaigns serve as confirmation of the hysteria that has engulfed the Houthi militia’s leaders following calls for a popular uprising to remove this scourge.”

Source: Arab News

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No More Talks With Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan: Interior Minister

Jan 04 2023

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Tuesday said that there will be no talks with the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or any other terrorist organisation.

The statement from a senior member of the federal cabinet comes as the country witnesses a sharp increase in terrorism incidents from the terror outfit based in Afghanistan after the end of the TTP ceasefire last year.

Talking about the National Security Committee meeting, in an interview, Sanaullah said Pakistan has decided to share evidence with the Taliban government as the terrorists based in Afghanistan are involved in terror activities here.

The interior minister said that Afghanistan had promised that its territory would not be used against any other country, and the Afghan government would be asked to fulfil that promise.

He said that it has been decided in the NSC meeting that there will be no talks with TTP or any other terrorist organisation.

In the meeting, the army chief had categorically said that mixed messages should not be given on the issue of negotiations with terrorists, the narrative should be clear that there will be no negotiations with any terrorists.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader said that General Asim Munir made this point in the meeting in clear terms with the evidence.

He reiterated his stance that international laws allow action in case of aggression in self-defence.

The interior minister said that talks will be held with the Afghan government, adding no Pakistani territory is under the control of terrorists.

Afghan govt upset over 'provocative statements'

Meanwhile, Taliban chief spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid has said that the Afghanistan government desired better relations with all its neighbours, including Pakistan, and believed in all the resources and means that could help them meet the goal.

His statement came a day after the NSC, asked the government in Kabul — without naming it — not to provide sanctuaries to Pakistani terrorist groups on its soil.

Expressing his disappointment over the recent statements by the Pakistani authorities, the Taliban spokesperson said they are trying their best to ensure that Afghan soil is not used against Pakistan or any other country.

“It is also the responsibility of the Pakistan side to try to control the situation and avoid issuing baseless and provocative statements,” he said, adding that such statements and an atmosphere of mistrust are not in the interest of any party.

Source: Geo TV

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'Our country morally debased, ugly': Pakistan actor on ex-army official's 'honey trap' allegations

Jan 3, 2023

NEW DELHI: Pakistan actor Sajal Ali has hit out at allegations made by a retired army official that she and several other female actors were used as 'honey traps' by the country's army. "It is very sad that our country is becoming morally debased and ugly; character assassination is the worst form of humanity and sin," tweeted Ali, who featured opposite Sridevi in the 2017 Bollywood film 'Mom'.

Screenshot 2023-01-03 193952

The 28-year-old actor was reacting to a YouTube video by retired Pakistan army officer, Adil Raja, who claimed that some of the country's female actors were working with General (retired) Qamar Javed Bajwa and former ISI head Faiz Hameed to trap politicians.

He did not name the actors but did give out their initials as MH, MK, KK and SA

Several comments on the video claimed that Raja was referring to actors such as Mehwish Hayat, Mahira Khan, Kubra Khan and Sajal Ali.

General Qamar Javed Bajwa called me playboy during our last meeting: Imran Khan

In a later video, Raja said the initials he mentioned could be of any actor or model and he never named or defamed anyone.

Kubra Khan also reacted to Raja’s video and said she will take action against him. “I stayed quiet initially because obviously a fake video isn’t going to take over my existence but enough is enough. I will not take these allegations lightly," the actor said, adding that she will give Raja three days to prove his allegations or retract his statement and publicly apologise.

Mehwish Hayat called the allegations baseless. "Shame on you for spreading baseless allegations and insinuations about someone you know nothing about and even bigger shame on people who blindly believe this," Hayat said, adding: "But this stops and it stops now! I will not allow anyone to defame my name in this way."

Source: Times Of India

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Firing on Imran Khan carried out from 4 sites, 3 more shooters involved: Probe team

Jan 3, 2023

LAHORE: The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing the assassination attempt on Pakistan's ousted prime minister Imran Khan has said that the firing was carried out from four different sites and three more shooters, other than the arrested suspect, were involved in the attack.

Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), suffered bullet injuries in the right leg on November 3 when two gunmen fired a volley of bullets at him and others standing on a container-mounted truck in the Wazirabad area (some 150-km from Lahore), where he was leading the long march to press for snap polls.

"Shots were fired by three unknown shooters, from unknown weapons from a considerable height other than the gun attack carried out by the suspect, Naveed Meher, arrested from the spot," the Dawn newspaper reported quoting a member of the JIT on Tuesday.

The JIT, led by Lahore Police chief Ghulam Mahmood Dogar, said Khan was hit by three bullets on the container-mounted-truck during the protest rally. A total of 13 people had suffered bullet injuries during the attack.

The JIT also pinpointed "some mismanagement" in the security arrangements at the PTI's rally.

Earlier, Punjab Home Minister Omar Sarfraz Cheema had said that the gun attack on Khan was an "organised one and well-thought-out conspiracy".

Naveed is a "trained assassin" and he was present at the crime scene with his accomplices, the minister said.

He said Naveed also failed a polygraph test. Naveed had told police he wanted to kill Khan as music was played during Azan time during his rally.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister's Special Assistant Attaullah Tarar on Tuesday moved the Lahore High Court, challenging the "illegal detention" of two PML-N workers -- Mudassar and Ahsan -- in connection with the gun attack on Khan.

Talking to reporters outside the court, Tarar said the JIT has illegally detained the two PML-N workers.

Prime suspect Naveed and his cousin Muhammad Waqas are in the JIT custody.

Khan, 70, had blamed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Major General Faisal Naseer of ISI for hatching a plot to assassinate him.

The Punjab Police had registered the FIR in connection with the assassination attempt on Khan but didn't name the high profile suspects in it.

Khan had dismissed the FIR, saying without the mention of Sharif, Sanaullah and Faisal it is a mere "piece of trash".

The Punjab Police said they nabbed Naveed from the crime scene and he had confessed to his crime.

Khan had claimed that Naveed is a trained shooter and there was another shooter who opened fire on him from another direction.

The JIT has so far recorded the statements of the policemen and PTI workers who were present close to Khan at the time of attack on him.

Source: Times Of India

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PTI leaders could face arrest as contempt case continues

Iftikhar A. Khan | Nasir Iqbal

January 4, 2023

ISLAMABAD: As the Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Election Commission of Pakistan to go ahead with contempt proceedings against PTI Chairman Imran Khan and other party leaders, the ECP warned them their arrest warrants would be out if they failed to show up at next hearing on Jan 17.

“We hold that the petitioner ECP may continue its proceedings in accordance with law including, by decision on the objections (challenging competence of the commission to issue contempt notices) raised on behalf of the respondents (PTI leaders),” Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial stated in a four-page order on a set of ECP petitions.

The petitions seeking consolidation and transfer of all six challenges to the contempt notice of ECP against PTI leaders was heard by a three-member SC bench. Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Ayesha A. Malik were part of the bench.

The petitions were moved by Advocate Sajeel Sheryar Swati on behalf of ECP with a plea to order consolidation of all the six petitions before one high court instead of defending the commission’s stance for issuance of the contempt charges against PTI leaders in different high courts.

The commission had issued notices to Mr Khan, PTI Secretary General Asad Umar, Fawad Chaudhry, Mian Shabbir Ismail and Danial Khalid Khokhar in August and September last year to appear in person or through their counsel before it to explain their position on contempt for allegedly using ‘intemperate’ language against the chief election commissioner.

However, they moved Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench, Sindh High Court and Islamabad High Court against the ECP power to issue the contempt notices and proceed under Section 10 of the Elections Act, 2017.

SC accepts ECP plea for ‘expeditious’ disposal of cases by high courts

Section 10 of the Elections Act 2017 empowers ECP to exercise the same power as enjoyed by a high court to punish any individual for contempt of court under the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003.

In its order, the apex court held that since the objections to ECP authority were raised by the respondents in the pending proceedings under Section 10, the same were required to be considered and decided by ECP before passing a final order on the matter.

Regarding ECP’s request to club together all petitions pending against it before the high courts, the apex court accepted the ECP plea that it would be satisfied if the high courts were directed to decide the pending petitions at the earliest.

Contempt proceedings

While giving them last chance to appear, the ECP adjourned the contempt proceedings against Mr Khan, Asad Umar and Fawad Chaudhry, albeit with the warning that their absence before the commission at the next hearing on January 17 would result in issuance of arrest warrants.

The PTI leaders were directed to submit their reply to show-cause notices by the next hearing.

During the hearing, ECP member Akramullah Khan remarked why the ECP should not issue arrest warrants for the PTI leaders. To which, lawyer Ali Bokhari asked the ECP to issue notice instead of warrants, as Mr Khan was unable to appear before the commission due to his health condition.

He said Fawad Chaudhry sought exemption from appearance, because his mother was hospitalized whereas Asad Umar missed his flight.

The bench asked the PTI counsel to submit Imran Khan’s medical certificate and also submit an answer to show-cause notice.

ECP member Nisar Durrani warned that arrest warrants would be issued if they failed to show up at the next hearing. He reminded the lawyer that Asad Umar had not appeared before the commission for the past four months.

Source: Dawn

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PPP says ready to work with MQM despite differences

Qurban Ali Khushik

January 4, 2023

DADU: PPP Chairman Bila­wal Bhutto-Zardari said on Tue­s­day his party would continue to work with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) despite differences, an assurance that did little to placate PPP’s ally in the Centre, as the MQM later in the day announced a protest for Jan 9 if local government polls were held without fresh delimitation.

Taking to the media in Zafarabad village during his visit to the flood-hit Khairpur Nathan Shah in Dadu district, Mr Bhutto-Zardari thanked the nation for supporting flood-hit people, but called for more assistance as winter had aggravated their problems.

Commenting on his party’s issues with the MQM, the foreign minister said the two parties have had differences in the past and would do so in the future also, but they would continue to work together.

He underscored the need to work together on the provincial local bodies’ law to make it stronger, adding that the PPP was ready to talk to the MQM to resolve all issues and all its reservations would be addressed. He said some PPP leaders had reservations about the delay in local bodies’ elections.

He was accompanied by Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, provincial ministers Syed Nasir Shah, Sharjeel Inam Memon and Jam Khan Shoro and local lawmakers.

Blankets for flood-hit

On the devastating floods that hit the country in mid-June, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said some areas of Dadu district and other parts of Sindh were still inundated and the affected people needed blankets, warm clothes and other items amid the extreme cold.

To a question, he said the federal government, through the Benazir Income Support Programme, was supporting the flood-hit people, and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had announced the release of extra cash through the programme for the benefit of the people.

He said the loss of lives and billions of dollars in flood could not be covered within a short time.

Bilawal seeks more aid for flood-hit as winter aggravates problems

He announced that the federal and provincial governments would present flood rehabilitation plans to the world at the International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan on Jan 9 at Davos. “We will ensure that we get support from around the world and help the people affected by climate change to stand on their feet,” he stressed.

The PPP chief said that after the floods, a crisis had arisen in every sector, including agriculture, and the health and educational infrastructure had been badly damaged, adding that 50 per cent of educational institutions had been destroyed in Sindh.

Answering a question, he said the development and rehabilitation of the country, especially Sindh, would soon begin thro­ugh a public-private partnership. Sindh provided a wind energy corridor and solar and green zones would be established here. He further said power would be generated and supplied at cheap rates.

Earlier, the foreign minister took an aerial view of the flood-hit areas by air and also got a briefing on their rehabilitation. He also visited the flooded Ramanpur village of Khairpur Nathan Shah by road.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari also condoled with PPP MNA Irfan Leghari and former MNA Imran Leghari over the death of their father, former federal minister Haji Zafar Leghari.

PTI marches ‘a failure’

Taking a dig at PTI chief Imran Khan, the foreign minister said the former premier launched two long marches to achieve his goal of early elections but failed both times.

He also said PTI lawmakers were avoiding appearing before the National Assembly speaker to verify their resignations, and whenever Raja Pervaiz Ashraf called them, their senior party leaders Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Pervez Khattak disappeared, delaying the matter themselves.

The PPP chief remarked that Mr Khan didn’t want political stability and that his politics was damaging the country.

Referring to the former prime minister’s statement that his PTI government was negotiating with Afghanistan to “resettle” the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the country, the foreign minister said it was akin to supporting terrorism.

“The one who called us imported was importing terrorism. Today, PTI representatives are themselves paying extortion to the Taliban,” he remarked.

Source: Dawn

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Police high-ups of twin cities agree to curb terrorism

January 3, 2023

RAWALPINDI: A special meeting of police high-ups of twin cities was held regarding the establishment of joint check posts and operations, intelligence-based operations (IBOs) and to curb terrorism and prevent crime.

According to the police spokesman, IG Islamabad Dr Akbar Nasir Khan visited Regional Police Office here on Tuesday.

RPO Rawalpindi Region Nasir Mehmood Satti welcomed IG Islamabad whereas City Police Officer CPO Rawalpindi Shehzad Nadeem Bukhari and Regional Officer CTD Rawalpindi Attaur Rahman participated in the meeting.

In the meeting, the police forces of the twin cities agreed to adopt a joint plan of action in the strategy against terrorism and criminal elements.

Addressing the occasion, IG Islamabad said that all the forces of the country were united to eliminate terrorism.

He underlined that joint meetings of police forces will continue on a monthly basis.

The police forces of the twin cities will unite against terrorism and end criminal elements, Dr Akbar vowed.

Regional Police Officer RPO Nasir Mehmood Satti said that mutual cooperation would be ensured to protect people’s life and property.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Sharif, Malaysia PM discuss upcoming UN moot on Pakistan floods

January 3, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The prime minister on Tuesday held a telephonic conversation with his Malaysia counterpart, Anwar Ibrahim, to discuss bilateral ties, floods in Pakistan and the International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan scheduled to take place on January 9 in Geneva.

The conference, co-hosted by Islamabad and the United Nations, will bring together governments, corporates and civil society to support Pakistan after the devastating floods, according to the world body.

During the conversation, Shehbaz Sharif congratulated Ibrahim on his election as the leader of the Southeast Asian nation.

Ibrahim, 75, was elected in November, bringing to a close his three-decade quest for the job that had eluded him time and again and led to him spending nearly a decade in jail.

The two prime ministers expressed satisfaction over the momentum of bilateral relations and agreed on the importance of frequent high-level exchanges to strengthen dialogue and cooperation.

Sharif underscored Pakistan’s desire to forge a broad-based relationship with Malaysia with robust political dialogue and trade and economic linkages.

The two also reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen the historic ties between Pakistan and Malaysia anchored in strong economic and trade cooperation.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Maryam Nawaz promoted to PML-N Senior Vice President

4th January 2023

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday promoted his Maryam Nawaz to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Senior Vice President, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb announced in a statement, media reports said.

Issuing the notification which was signed by Shehbaz Sharif, the Information Minister said that the Prime Minister has announced the organisational decision of the party, Geo

News reported.

“Pursuant to the powers conferred under the Constitution of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the undersigned is pleased to appoint Ms Maryam Nawaz Sharif as ‘Senior Vice President’ with immediate effect,” stated the notification.

It said that Maryam Nawaz is authorised to re-organise the party at all functional tiers/levels as “chief organiser”, Geo News reported.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar congratulated Maryam on the occasion and offered his best wishes to her.

“Heartiest congratulations and best wishes for Maryam Nawaz Sharif on her appointment as SVP/Chief Organiser of PML-N by the party President Shehbaz Sharif in consultation with the party Quaid Nawaz Sharif,” Dar wrote.

Maryam Nawaz was appointed one of the 16 vice presidents of the party on May 3, 2019.

Her appointment was challenged by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which had expressed its reservations. The then Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had questioned how a person, who has been sentenced by a court, can be appointed as a Vice President.

Maryam Nawaz has been highly active in running the party’s election campaigns and holding public gatherings in different cities.

Source: Siasat Daily

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Southeast Asia


UAE, China call for UN Security Council meeting over Al Aqsa Mosque

Betül Yürük  


The United Arab Emirates and China called Tuesday for a UN Security Council meeting after Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir entered Al-Aqsa Mosque’s courtyards in occupied East Jerusalem amid warnings of unrest.

The Council is expected to convene on Thursday, diplomats said.

The visit drew fierce condemnation across the world, with the US, Israel's closest ally, expressing deep concern over the recent developments.

''We're deeply concerned by any unilateral actions that have the potential to exacerbate tensions precisely because we want to see the opposite happen,'' State Department spokesman Ned Price said

''The United States stands firmly for the preservation of the historic status quo with respect to the holy sites in Jerusalem.''

He added that any unilateral actions undercutting the status quo are ''unacceptable.”

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

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Lower your gaze, scholar tells critics of ‘inappropriate’ dressing

Sean Augustin

January 4, 2023

PETALING JAYA: Muslims ought to refrain from looking at people who in their view are inappropriately dressed instead of attempting to police what others wear, a prominent Turkish scholar said.

Mustafa Akyol said while the Quran prescribed for Muslim women to safeguard their modesty, such Islamic norms should not be imposed on women with different religious traditions and world views.

At the same time, he said, the Quran also told Muslim men to “lower their gaze”.

“In other words, it commands Muslim men to refrain from looking at any scenes that may be morally inappropriate for them, not eliminate them.

“It tells them to control their own behaviour, and not the behaviour of other people,” the senior fellow at Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity told FMT.

Akyol was responding to reports on plans by the Melaka Islamic religious affairs department (JAIM) to put up signboards reminding tourists in Pulau Besar to dress modestly. JAIM also warned tourists not to take part in activities considered sensitive to Muslims.

This followed a three-minute video of beachgoers in bikinis at a beach on the island which had been making the rounds on social media since Dec 25.

“Wearing such attire (such as bikinis) is only suitable for the bedroom, not to be shown off to the community in Pulau Besar,” JAIM chief Che Sukri Che Mat was quoted as saying.

Akyol said every society had certain norms of appropriate behaviour and dress code.

Muslims, however, are not supposed to impose specific Islamic norms on non-Muslims, he said.

“So, as a Muslim, I believe we should follow our own ethical guidelines as we believe in them, but do not impose them on other people through legal means.”

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Malaysia’s 15th General Election: How a less influential Islamic party becomes the largest one in parliament

January 4, 2023

Malaysia’s fifteenth general election, held in late November, is arguably the most historic in the country’s history. For the first time, no coalition managed to secure a parliamentary majority, resulting in a hung federal parliament.

Adding to the unexpected twist, the Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) – one that historically wielded less influence among Muslims and ethnic Malays – achieved their best ever result and came in first with 49 of the country’s 222 federal parliamentary seats. The secular Democratic Action Party clinched the second spot, with 40 seats.

PAS is part of the Perikatan Nasional coalition (translated as National Alliance). Together with the Malaysian United Indigenous Party (Bersatu), which won 25 seats, the coalition secured 74 seats.

Meanwhile, the two other coalitions – the centre-left Pakatan Harapan (translated as Alliance of Hope), and the centre-right Barisan Nasional (translated as National Front) – secured 81 and 30 seats respectively.

After a week of intense negotiations, the two coalitions – Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional – agreed to form a unity government. The constitutional monarch, King Sultan Abdullah appointed Anwar Ibrahim, Pakatan Harapan’s Chairman, as Prime Minister of the unity government. Anwar later chose the Chairman of Barisan Nasional, Ahmad Zahid, as the Deputy Prime Minister.

This alliance between the two coalitions was unprecedented, with the two perceived as unlikely bedfellows. The Barisan Nasional, dominated by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), had vehemently championed for Malay rights and interests, while the Pakatan Harapan campaigned for racial equality.

Secularism vs Islamism

Politics in Malaysia has historically been structured along ethnic lines. UMNO has historically dominated the political scene by mobilising the Malay electorate on the grounds of ethnicity and Malay nationalism. However, since Malays are legally obliged to profess the Muslim faith under the Malaysian constitution, PAS has attempted to peel off Malay support from UMNO by challenging the latter’s secular narrative.

Unlike UMNO, PAS claims to be more intentional in upholding Islamic values. After it became the ruling government in the states of Kelantan and Terengganu, it enacted Syariah legislations in 1993 and 2002 respectively. However, the federal government, then controlled by Barisan Nasional, prevented such laws from being enforced on the grounds of incompatibility with the federal constitution.

Factors behind PAS’ victory

While PAS had in the past remained less influential among Malays compared to the more mainstream UMNO, PAS currently has almost double of UMNO’s 26 seats after the latest election. This can be linked to fortuitous circumstances facilitating PAS’ electoral turnabout, strategic alliances and clever messaging in recent years.

UMNO was plagued by a series of corruption allegations spanning from the era of former Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is now imprisoned for his role in the 1MDB scandal, to current leader Zahid Hamidi (the newly-sworn Deputy Prime Minister) who is now facing corruption trials.

UMNO has thus lost much credibility as the champion for Malay rights, especially after senior UMNO politicians broke off in 2016 to form Bersatu while remaining publicly committed Malay nationalists. Bersatu later allied with PAS to form the Perikatan Nasional coalition.

This arrangement to collaborate with a rising Malay nationalist party (Bersatu) has enabled PAS to compensate for its historical deficits in Malay nationalist credentials. In this election, Perikatan Nasional campaigned on a welfarist, anti-corruption, and political stability platform, while equating support for Barisan Nasional as a vote for corruption.

Perikatan Nasional also claimed that Pakatan Harapan is detrimental for Malay interests, with Muhyiddin Yassin reportedly commenting during his campaign trail that Pakatan Harapan is supported by a proxy that intends to “Christianise” Malaysia.

The success of Perikatan Nasional’s electoral strategy could be understood by the complimentary nature of PAS and Bersatu, with each party using its strengths to cover for its ally’s weaknesses.

For instance, PAS’ status as a religious party contributed moral credibility to the Perikatan Nasional coalition, while contesting under a major Malay-based coalition with Bersatu offered PAS the cover to credibly compete across all Peninsula states.

In regions outside its traditional East Coast stronghold, PAS ran a restrained campaign to avoid the perception as being extreme, staying laser-focused on economic and corruption issues while avoiding references to Syariah law. High-profile social media influencers also endorsed PAS while releasing catchy Tiktok videos, which in hindsight was instrumental in gaining young Malay votes.

This proved to be a winning strategy, with PAS for the first time capturing parliamentary seats in Melaka and being just short of replicating a similar feat in Johor. This is a remarkable accomplishment given that PAS historically had minimal sway even among Malay and Muslim voters in the states south of Klang Valley.

The rise of political Islam in Malaysia post-election

Despite its historic gains in the general election, PAS now faces a daunting task in maintaining its recent electoral momentum.

Firstly, concerns over corruption and a faltering economy played into the hands of PAS’ largely negative messaging. This may soon backfire since the present unity government is now opening new corruption investigations against senior Perikatan Nasional leaders.

PAS also seems to have returned to old playbooks to bolster its Islamist credentials, particularly with an eye towards impending state polls in the three PAS administered states of Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu. PAS has recently passed legislative amendments in the Terengganu state assembly to criminalise pregnancies outside marriage, while banning all forms of (previously) licensed gambling in Kedah starting January 2023.

Such a legislative record may affect PAS’ credibility should it attempt to articulate a broad-based, multi-ethnic electoral platform for future state and federal elections.

PAS’ extraordinary ascent has ironically created a major paradox for the party moving forward. Given Malaysia’s ethnic and religious diversity, the more intensely PAS pushes forth an Islamist agenda to enhance its moral standing, the more challenging it becomes for PAS to retain its recent electoral gains in demographically mixed and urban constituencies.

However, should PAS decide to shift towards the centre to appeal to voters in its recently won constituencies, opportunities may open up for electoral rival UMNO to encroach into PAS’ own traditional strongholds.

Source: The Conversation

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Arab World


Saudi Arabia works with Telegram to remove over 15 million extremist content in 2022

04 January ,2023

Saudi Arabia’s Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (Etidal) and Telegram removed 15,021,951 extremist content throughout 2022 and shut down 6,824 channels that were being used to spread radical ideology, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

From September to December 2022, Etidal and Telegram coordinated to remove 8,494,035 different types of extremist content on 3,616 channels that were linked to al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

At least 4,172,215 extremist content that was broadcasted by 2,654 channels that belonged to ISIS was removed, while 3,696,483 extremist content linked to 703 accounts belonging to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham were taken down.

The monitors also found that al-Qaeda had shared 625,337 different extremist content through 259 channels.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Qatar strongly condemns Israeli National Security Minister’s storming of Al Aqsa Mosque

04 Jan 2023

Doha: The State of Qatar has strongly condemned Israeli National Security Minister’s storming of the courtyards of Al Aqsa Mosque under the protection of the Israeli occupation forces, considering it a flagrant violation of the international law and the Hashemite guardianship over the holy sites in occupied Jerusalem.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned against the policy pursued by the Israeli government in the occupied Palestinian territories, and asserted that compromising the religious and historic situation of Al Aqsa Mosque is not only a violation of the Palestinians, but of millions of Muslims worldwide.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs held the Israeli occupation authorities responsible for the violence cycle that would happen as a result of this systematic escalation policy against the Palestinian people and on their lands and Islamic and Christian holy places.

The Ministry urged the international community to urgently act to stop these violations.

Source: The Peninsula Qatar

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Egypt 'expresses regret' that official in new Israeli gov't stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque: Statement

Amr Kandil

3 Jan 2023

“Egypt has expressed regret that an official at the new Israeli government stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque while accompanied by extreme elements under the protection of the Israeli forces,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Tuesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, the extreme-right Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who had stormed Al-Aqsa compound numerous times as Knesset member and is known for his violent rhetoric against Palestinians, stormed the compound for the first time as minister.

Egypt also affirmed its categorical rejection of all unilateral measures that violate the legal and historic status quo of Jerusalem, the foreign ministry statement said.

“Egypt has warned of the negative repercussions of these measures on the security and stability in the occupied lands and the region and on the future of the peace process,” the ministry said.

Egypt also calls for all parties to “exercise self-restraint, act responsibly and refrain from any measures that could inflame the situation,” the statement added.

The storming of Al-Aqsa by Ben-Gvir comes only days after the new government of Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in on Thursday.

The Palestinain presidency condemned the Israeli minister's visit to the mosque compound, calling on the United States to force the Israeli authorities' to halt the escalation "before it is too late."

Egypt: Need to resume peace negotiations

Meanwhile, in a phone call with PM Netanyahu on Sunday to congratulate him on his inauguration, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi stressed the necessity of refraining from any unilateral measures that would lead to tensions and complicate the regional scene.

The Egyptian president also affirmed to Netanyahu the importance of achieving a fair and comprehensive peace between the Palestinian and Israeli sides in a way that contributes to achieving security and prosperity for all peoples of the region.

El-Sisi also stressed to Netanyahu Egypt’s keenness to continue intensified efforts to resolve the Palestinian cause, maintain Palestinian-Israeli calm and resume negotiations between the two sides.

Cairo  has repeatedly condemned Israeli violence against Palestinians in the occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Egypt supports the establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem as part of a two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Along those lines, Cairo has steadfastly opposed Israeli settlement expansion policies in East Jerusalem which aim to displace the Palestinian residents of the city in order to change its demographic composition.

Egypt has warned that such practices undermine efforts to reach peace between the two sides.

Tensions in occupied territories

At dawn on Tuesday, the Israeli army killed a 15-year-old boy in Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem, making him the third Palestinian victim of deadly Israeli army raids in less than three days in the occupied West Bank.

In 2022, more than 150 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli army in raids on Palestinian towns and villages.

Meanwhile, 26 Israelis were killed during the same period.

Source: Ahram

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UNESCO praises Saudi Arabia’s achievements in e-education governance globally

January 03, 2023

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has praised the achievements of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in e-education governance, through its “Guide to measuring information and communication technologies (ICT) in education,” reported the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

The guide noted that National E-Learning Center is an example to be followed at the international level through its support and development of governance procedures in the electronic education and training sector.

In its publication, the UNESCO cited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s model of quality control and confidence in e-learning through the e-learning standards launched by the National E-Learning Centre for educational institutions in public and higher education institutions.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi Arabia’s Jazan: A promised land rich in culture and opportunity


January 03, 2023

JAZAN: Jazan province this winter is a hotbed of tourists searching for relaxation, walks through beautiful scenery, the chance to sample the region’s famous coffee — and even scouting investment opportunities in an expanding leisure industry.

A plan to build the province’s tourism economy was approved by Prince Mohammed bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz, who is in charge of the Tourism Development Council in the Jazan region. Since then, the Jazan City Track and the Farasan Islands Track were approved as tourist hiking routes.

The Heritage Village, meanwhile, is an important tourist attraction. During a tour of the site by an Arab News team, the village’s Director Mohammed Ali said that it was popular due to its architectural style and its cultural heritage.

There are several historic buildings made of stone and mud that detail the historical way of life.

“The Jazan region has established a name for itself globally in every sphere, be it business, development, or tourism. In the Al-Raith governorate of the Global Islands, for example, there is one of the biggest model gardens in the world,” Ali said.

“In the mountainous governorates, coffee is grown, which UNESCO has called one of the best products in the world.”

According to Ali, the village, which spans 7,000 acres, is where the customs and traditions of the mountains, Tihama, and maritime environments come together in one location.

In the village marketplace, local resident Hamouda Hussain is one of a number of women selling traditional products.

“I have loved sewing since I was a child, and I am here selling my products, which are popular traditional clothes,” she told Arab News. “I also make oud mixtures and incense for the body. I see many tourists who come from everywhere to the heritage village and buy my products.

“Tourists flock more in the winter, spring break, founding day, and national day,” she added.

After visiting the village, visitors can take a ferry to the Farasan Islands, whose reserve is known for its diverse ecosystems and rare wildlife was included in the “Man and the Biosphere Program,” a UNESCO initiative.

The ferry captain’s assistant, Yousef Al-Seeni, said that nothing makes him happier than seeing visitors from all over the world come to the islands.

“We have received many tourists from around the world, and they are pleased with us because the sailing time is only an hour,” Al-Seeni said. As a result, they enjoy us as well as the view of the island and dolphins, as well as the opportunity to indulge in their favorite pastimes like diving, fishing, and a variety of sports like hiking and tasting the delectable seafood.”

Source: Arab News

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Saudi choral group set to start on a high note in music industry


January 03, 2023

JEDDAH: A new Saudi choral group has been established to create and present Saudi and Arab classical songs.

The group, called Choralla — comprising six women and four men and led by Egyptian composer Dr. Karim Abdelaziz — recently performed its first concert at Al-Shallal Park Theater in Jeddah, attended by 350 people.

According to the choir’s chairman, Dr. Bander Arab, the young group of singers together possess the ability to perform ensemble pieces to a professional standard.

“We have brought together an amazing group of singers who have passion for great music. We’re already well into preparation for the inaugural program of concerts which we are sure will be very special occasions for us,” he said.

“Since I was a child, I used to hum beautiful songs with myself, and I was fascinated by many musical instruments. At the same time, I learned to play and read musical notes. Despite my preoccupation over the past two decades with many leadership positions in the private and governmental sectors, I did not forget, even for a moment, this great passion that fascinated and controlled me.”

Arab told Arab News that the choir forms a unified, integrated sound texture, with dimensions that the solo voice cannot reach, so that listeners feels more pleasure when hearing performances of popular songs.

“Choral music is very different from solo singing. In choral music, you kind of have to agree that you’re going to work together,” explains Arab.

“The band gathered a group of amateurs who are passionate about music and singing, and its goal is to present Arabic singing in a public concert every month. The group adopts the scientific method in its training, and promises its audience that they will leave the concert happy,” he added.

Source: Arab News

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Saudi aid agency gets National Award for Voluntary Work in 2022

January 03, 2023

RIYADH: Prince Faisal bin Bandar, governor of Riyadh and chairman of the board of directors of the Charitable Society for Orphan Care in the region, Insan, on Tuesday received a certificate granting the association the practice of humanitarian activity outside the Kingdom by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center.

This came during his meeting with KSrelief Supervisor General Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah and Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Suwailem, vice chairman of the executive committee of Insan, and other key officials.

Prince Faisal listened to a brief about the certificate, confirming the excellence of Insan in its activities, after it received the National Award for Voluntary Work in 2022.

Source: Arab News

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Tinubu assures Muslim leaders of just governance to all Nigerians

By Ahmad Muhammad

04 January 2023

Promises to tackle nation’s problems

The All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has assured Muslim leaders in the country that he will offer fair and just leadership to all Nigerians if elected president.

Tinubu gave the assurance in a town hall meeting with Muslim leaders from the northwest geopolitical zone in Kano, yesterday.

He urged the religious leaders to ensure they preach unity and harmony among their followers, rather than division and disunity, saying that is the only way the nation could experience development.

“Religious leaders like you are agents of harmony and hope, not division and disunity. All well-meaning Nigerians, regardless of political affiliation, must join hands against violence, hunger, ignorance and bigotry.

“We all must live together. No one has the right to try to lord over the other. Allah stands against such injustice. And where Allah stands, all bad things must fall. Mean-spirited politicians – those thinking only of themselves or those who think they mean more than the nation itself – will go to great lengths to deceive or recruit eminent persons to unknowingly preach division and hatred.

“They cannot win with the truth. So, they will try to win with a lie. But a lie never wins in the end. Those they cannot beat with honesty, they seek to beat with untruth and falsity. They want to turn servants of God into preachers of division and hateful sentiment,” Tinubu said.

The presidential candidate further told the Muslim leaders that he had demonstrated a sense of unity and oneness in all his campaigns and would continue to do so.

He pledged to conduct himself in public office on the values and ideals of fairness and justice, adding that he would always speak about facts and truths, policies and programmes.

On expectations from him, if elected, he reminded the faith leaders of his record as Lagos State governor.

Tinubu said: “I promise to be a fair and just leader. This pledge is based on the Islamic teachings on leadership. A leader in a plural society is enjoined to be a leader for all. If elected, I shall govern in harmony with our nation’s democratic Constitution.

“More than that, I shall tackle this nation’s problems with a commitment to solving them. I say this, not as a boast; I say it based on my record. As Lagos governor, I assembled, perhaps, the most diverse team by any state government. That team was based on competence, not tribal this or regional that. It was not based on the attire one wore or the accent one spoke with, but on the quality of one’s ideas and contributions to society.

“If given the chance by Almighty Allah, I will operate in the same spirit of inclusiveness and innovation in order to renew the hope of our people. My highest priorities shall be the protection of our land and prosperity of its people.”

Source: Guardian Nigeria

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Tanzania lifts 6-year ban on opposition political rallies



Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Tuesday lifted a ban on rallies of opposition parties imposed in 2016 by her predecessor John Magufuli.

Hassan announced the decision in a televised address after meeting leaders of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party and the main opposition CHADEMA in the commercial hub of Dar es Salaam.

“I have come here to allow those meetings. I have come to lift the ban on public political rallies and I am saying the ban is officially lifted,” she said.

She said opposition parties have the right to hold rallies and the government is fully prepared to provide security for their gatherings.

In a separate statement from the presidency, Hassan said any rallies will have to be held “in accordance with the law and existing regulations.”

She also urged political parties to criticize and advise the government in a civilized manner.

The ban on opposition rallies was just one of a raft of repressive laws enforced by Magufuli, who ruled from September 2015 until his death in March 2021.

Analysts say his regressive policies severely trampled on fundamental basic rights such as freedom of speech and assembly, and led to a sense of fear among citizens and politicians alike.

“I think this is a very important move which will obviously provide political mileage to the president, and also certainly iron out differences with foreign donors who were increasingly disturbed by actions that curtailed democracy in Tanzania,” Max Mmuya, a political scientist and former lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, told Anadolu Agency.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Burkina Faso military junta expels French ambassador

James Tasamba


KIGALI, Rwanda

Burkina Faso's military junta has expelled France's ambassador to the West African country, a regime source confirmed Tuesday, amid deteriorating bilateral relations.

"Ambassador Luc Hallade was asked to leave the country," the source in the Foreign Ministry told Anadolu Agency, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

"We have asked for his replacement," the source added, without divulging details.

Efforts to get a comment from the French Embassy in Ouagadougou were futile.

Hallade's expulsion came days after the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in Burkina Faso, Barbara Manzi, was also expelled in December and declared persona non grata.

Also in December, the military junta expelled two French citizens accused of espionage.

Anti-French sentiments surged last year in the West African country.

The French Embassy in Ouagadougou was attacked twice by protesters demanding the departure of France from Burkina Faso.

The landlocked African country witnessed two coups last year.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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63 abducted in latest bandit attack in Nigeria

Ibrahim Garba Shuaibu 


KANO, Nigeria

Numerous people were abducted by armed gunmen in central Nigeria, police confirmed on Tuesday

While Wasiu Abiodun, a police spokesman, declined to confirm to Anadolu Agency the number of people abducted across three communities in the West African country's state of Niger, a security source revealed that the number was 63.

The incident occurred late on Monday in the Pandogari area of the northeastern part of the state, a few kilometers away from a security camp.

Most of the people, 41, were kidnapped from the village of Durmin, while 14 were taken from Jarmiya village and eight from Pandogari.

Abiodun said security personnel had rescued about 13 people from the hideout of the gunmen, known locally as bandits, who then staged a reprisal by abducting dozens of others.

Authorities have since stepped up efforts to find the bandits, he added, with security forces immediately mobilizing tactical teams to the scene.

A community leader in Durmin village, Adamu Dangana, told Anadolu Agency that the motorcycle-riding bandits came in large numbers and abducted local residents.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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28 people found shot dead in northwestern Burkina Faso

Aurore Bonny  


DOUALA, Cameroon

The bodies of 28 people who were shot dead have been found in a town in northwestern Burkina Faso, authorities said.

“The tragedy occurred in Nouna, capital of the province of Kossi, on the night between Dec. 30 and Dec. 31,” Rimtalba Jean Emmanuel Ouedraogo, a government spokesman, said in a statement late on Monday.

He did not share any further details, saying an investigation has been launched to identify the attackers and their motives.

Armel Sama, a prosecutor in Nouna, said all the victims were male and had multiple gunshot wounds.

However, a local rights group, Collective Against Impunity and Stigmatization of Communities (CISC), claimed there were children among the victims.

The CISC said the attacks were carried out by armed civilians posing as members of the Volunteers for the Defense of the Fatherland (VDP), a group trained and funded by the government to aid anti-insurgency efforts.

The attackers mainly targeted influential and wealthy members of the community, the group said.

Burkina Faso remains plagued by insecurity, largely due to an insurgency that has spilled over from neighboring Mali.

Political instability is also rife in the West African country, with two coups last year.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Nine killed in central Somalia car bombings: security sources, witnesses

January 04, 2023

MOGADISHU: At least nine people were killed and several others wounded in simultaneous car bomb attacks in a town in central Somalia on Wednesday, security officials and witnesses said.

“The terrorists attacked Mahas town this morning using vehicles loaded with explosives,” local security official Abdullahi Adan told AFP by phone.

“They have targeted a civilian area and we have confirmed that nine people, all of them civilians, died in the two explosions.”

The attack, blamed on Al-Shabab jihadist fighters, took place in the Hiran region of central Somalia, where a major offensive was launched last year against the Al-Qaeda-linked group.

“The terrorists, after having (been) defeated, resorted to desperately targeting civilians, but this will not stop the will of the people to continue defeating them,” said Osman Nur, a police commander in Mahas.

“They have killed innocent civilians in the explosions,” he added.

Witnesses said the blasts occurred near a restaurant not far from a district administration building in Mahas.

“I saw the dead bodies of nine civilians including women and children, this was a horrible attack,” said one witness, Adan Hassan.

Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has declared “all-out war” against Al-Shabab, which has been waging a bloody insurgency against the fragile internationally-backed federal government for 15 years.

In July, local clan militias known as “Macawisley” launched a revolt against Al-Shabab in parts of central Somalia, and Mohamud sent in troops in September to support the fight-back.

In recent months, the army and the militias have retaken swathes of territory in the central states of Galmudug and Hirshabelle (where Hiran is located) in an operation backed by US air strikes and an African Union (AU) force known as ATMIS.

But the insurgents have frequently retaliated with bloody attacks, underlining their ability to strike at the heart of Somali towns and military installations despite the offensive.

Although forced out of the country’s main urban centers around 10 years ago, Al-Shabab remains entrenched in vast swathes of rural central and southern Somalia.

On October 29, 121 people in the capital Mogadishu were killed in two car bomb explosions at the education ministry, in the deadliest attack in the troubled Horn of Africa nation in five years.

Eight civilians died on November 27 in a 21-hour siege at a hotel in Mogadishu popular with politicians and government officials.

A triple bombing in October in the city of Beledweyne, the capital of Hiran, left 30 people dead including local officials.

Source: Arab News

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