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Islamic World News ( 14 Jan 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Marriage Of Minor Muslim Girls: Supreme Court To Check Legality Of Muslim Personal Law

New Age Islam News Bureau

14 January 2023


Representative Image/ Live


• Turkish-Muslim Community Concerned Over Greek Attempt To Erase Ottoman History

• Far-Right Israeli Legislator, Danny Danon, Preparing Bill To Annex Strategic Jordan Valley

• Council on American-Islamic Relations Defends Minnesota Professor Who Showed Muhammad Images In Class

• Visit Of Islamic Scholars To Xinjiang Region Refutes Smearing On China



• Posters Telling Hindus Not to Sell Properties to Muslims Surface in Delhi's Brahmpuri

• Sree Ram Sene President Pramod Muthalik, Asks Hindus To Worship Swords And Display Them At Their Homes To Protect Their Women

• Kerala Muslim Outfits Hail Congress ‘Revival’ Bid By Tharoor



• French Muslim Union Sues Nation's Biggest Literary Star Houellebecq

• Sweden's Islamist Party Leader Claims Muslims Profiled by Intelligence, Rights Violated

• UK Says ‘Barbaric’ Execution Of British-Iranian National, Alireza Akbari, Will Not Go Unpunished

• Iran Executes British-Iranian National Despite UK, US Pleas

• Germany Makes Overtures To Saudi Arabia With ‘Cultural Diplomacy’ Concert

• Turkish Parliament Speaker Asks Sweden To Take Concrete Steps To Prevent Terrorist Provocations



• Iran imam blames lack of rainfall on ‘women not wearing hijab’ amid protests

• Iran’s FM Meets Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad Chiefs In Lebanon

• Iran Voices Readiness to Cooperate With G20

• Israel’s PM Netanyahu Defends Plan To Rein In Judiciary

• Protests persist in southeast Iran with chants against supreme leader

• Israel’s retiring army chief fires broadside at Netanyahu’s far-right regime

• Israeli forces kill two Palestinians in West Bank: Palestinian ministry


North America

• US Civil Groups Raise Concerns Over Congressional Committee Chair Mark Green's Anti-Muslim Comments

• US Republicans probe 'chaotic' Afghanistan withdrawal leading to Taliban takeover

• US lawmaker objects to potential F-16 sale to Turkey

• US offers $10 million for ‘mastermind’ of 2019 Kenya hotel siege

• More than one-third of US citizens believe Jews ‘more loyal to Israel’ than US, survey finds


Southeast Asia

• Beer brouhaha says little about Malays, more about PAS man

• Myanmar Reportedly Jailed Malaysia-bound Rohingya Refugees for Traveling 'Without Official Documents'


South Asia

• Bangladeshi Activists On Alert Over Government’s Reported Purchase Of Israeli Spyware

• Islamic State claims Tajik behind attack on Chinese in Kabul

• Biswa Ijtema: World's second-largest Muslim gathering begins

• UNSC unity key in wake of women's rights violations by Taliban: UN aide



• Ruling Coalition To Hold Formal Consultations Over Evolving Political Situation

• Pakistan ‘looking into’ indecent behaviour charge at mission staffers

• Pakistan: Why CPEC projects are facing backlash in Balochistan

• PDM leaders move to placate MQM-P after divorce threat

• Police officer among 3 martyred in late-night attack on police station in Peshawar

• Pakistan, UAE agree to deepen strategic partnership, cooperation in diverse areas


Arab World

• UAE’s Rashid Rover, first Arab Moon mission, marks one month in space

• Saudi team wins innovation award with sensor to protect date palms from pests

• Get your troops out of Syria, Assad tells Erdogan

• Swedish PM denounces protest by Kurds in central Stockholm

• Assad says Turkiye talks must be based on ending ‘occupation’

• Iran Glad To See Rapprochement Between Turkey And Syria: FM



• Nigeria Decides: Say No To APC’s Muslim-Muslim Ticket Of Slavery – Suswam Tells Benue People

• Panic in Ilorin over rumoured abduction of popular Muslim Cleric Mohammadu Buhari

• Somali leader urges people to flush out Al-Shabab ‘bedbugs’

• Top commander of Daesh/ISIS terror group killed in Somalia's Puntland

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Marriage Of Minor Muslim Girls: Supreme Court To Check Legality Of Muslim Personal Law


Representative Image/ Live


January 13, 2023

Krishnadas Rajagopal

The Supreme Court on January 13 decided to examine whether girls as young as 15 years can enter into wedlock on the basis of custom or personal law when such marriages constitute an offence in statutory law.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud issued a formal notice on the petition filed by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) against a recent order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court that a girl, on attaining puberty or the age of 15 years and above, could be married on the basis of Muslim personal law, irrespective of the provisions of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.

The Supreme Court said the High Court order would not act as a judicial precedent for other courts. Appearing for NCPCR, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that "girls as young as 14 and 15 are being married. Can personal law and custom be pleaded in the face of statutes such as POCSO and the Indian Penal Code, which make such marriages an offence?"

The Kerala High Court had recently observed that provisions of POCSO would apply if the bride or groom was a minor, irrespective of the validity or otherwise of the marriage.

The NCPCR, through advocate Swarupama Chaturvedi, has contended that laws such as POCSO and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act are secular in nature and should apply to all sections of the society.

The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021 has sought to amend the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, to increase the minimum age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 years. The legal age for marriage is 18 years for women and 21 years for men. Marriage below this age is considered to be child marriage, an offence.

In December 2022, the apex court had asked the government to respond to a separate petition filed by the National Commission for Women (NCW) to make the minimum age of marriage for Muslim women on par with persons belonging to other faiths. NCW, like the NCPCR, had raised the question whether personal law could override statutory provisions of POCSO, etc.

The NCW had argued that the practice of marrying below the age of 18 would expose Muslim women to abuse and harassment. It was arbitrary and discriminatory. The petition had sought the enforcement of the fundamental rights of minor Muslim women who had contracted marriage before attaining the age of majority, whether consensually or otherwise.

“Under the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872, Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936, Special Marriage Act, 1954 and Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the minimum age of marriage for a man is 21 years and for a woman is 18 years. However, under the Muslim personal law in India, which continues to remain uncodified and unconsolidated, persons who gave attained puberty are eligible to get married i.e. on attaining the age of 15 years, while they are still minor”, the NCW petition had stated.

Source: The Hindu

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Turkish-Muslim Community Concerned Over Greek Attempt To Erase Ottoman History


Photo: Qods International News Agency


14 January 2023

Greece's 150,000-strong Turkish-Muslim community are voicing their concern about the country aiming to erase the legacy of the Ottoman-Turkish history in Western Thrace, dating back as far as the 14th century.

Suspicions flared up after an attempt by the Iskece (Xanthi) province’s municipality of Bulustra (Avdira) to build a football field over an Ottoman-era Muslim cemetery in Horozlu (Petinos).

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Burhan Baran, a deputy with the leftist opposition PASOK party, said the community elected members for the board of trustees, which would be in charge of following the case, but Greek authorities still have not approved the process.

“It would be only natural to be suspicious about the reasons behind this,” he said.

Baran explained that they met competent Greek authorities, including those from the education and religious affairs ministries, and consequently achieved to halt the municipality’s plans over the cemetery.

"What I want is to protect this cemetery that is a historical heritage, one of the elements uniting us," he emphasised.

Greater plan

Speaking to Anadolu, Cengiz Omer, a prominent local journalist, argued that the municipality’s attempt is part of a greater plan of eradicating properties and estates belonging to foundations of the minority community.

The head of the municipality that attempted to build the football field over the cemetery is known for his anti-Turkish sentiments, he added.

All in all, Omer said, it is an ill-intentioned plan which aims to sweep the legacy of hundred years of Turkish-Ottoman presence in the region.

The rights of the Turks of Western Thrace are guaranteed under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, but over the decades the situation has seriously deteriorated, including Greece refusing to carry out rulings by the European Court of Human Rights.

Source: TRT World

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Far-Right Israeli Legislator, Danny Danon, Preparing Bill To Annex Strategic Jordan Valley


In this file picture, an Israeli aircraft flies over the scene of a shooting attack, in the Jordan Valley, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, September 4, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)


14 January 2023

An Israeli legislator from the right-wing Likud political party has announced that he is working on proposing a bill to annex the strategic Jordan Valley, which comprises a third of the occupied West Bank, despite the international outcry against the Tel Aviv regime’s land expropriation and settlement expansion policies in Palestinian territories.

The bill put forward by Danny Danon, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, intends to achieve the “full application of Israeli law to all areas of the Jordan Valley,” including industrial and archaeological sites as well as main roads.

“The annexation of the Jordan Valley is a significant issue for Israel from an historical, economical as well as crucially, from a security perspective. We know that there is support for the application of Israel's sovereignty of the Jordan Valley, both in the coalition cabinet as well as in the opposition,” Danon said.

“I am optimistic that many MKs on both sides of the aisle will voice their support. There is no better time to apply sovereignty and we must join forces to do so imminently,” he added.

It remains unclear when the bill would be proposed to the Israeli parliament, or Knesset.

Israel’s parliament swore in Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister in December. He formed what many consider to be the most extremist administration in the regime’s history, including ministers living in illegal settlements in the West Bank.

Netanyahu’s hardline cabinet has made the announcement that it will put settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank at the top of its list of priorities.

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state, with East al-Quds as its capital.

The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued settlement expansion on Palestinian territories.

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they are built on occupied land.

The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.
Source: Press TV

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Council on American-Islamic Relations Defends Minnesota Professor Who Showed Muhammad Images In Class


Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, speaks during a news conference at CAIR-MN office, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, in Minneapolis. A Hamline University lecturer showed a painting of the Prophet Muhammad


By Valerie Richardson

January 13, 2023

The Council on American-Islamic Relations isn’t shy about levelling accusations of Islamophobia, but not even CAIR believes that a Minnesota professor who showed medieval artwork of Muhammad crossed the line.

The Muslim-rights group came to the defence Friday of former Hamline University adjunct professor Erika Lopez Prater, overriding its Minnesota chapter after it condemned as Islamophobic the display of two historic images of the Muslim prophet during an Oct. 6 online art class.

“Although we strongly discourage showing visual depictions of the Prophet, we recognize that professors who analyse ancient paintings for an academic purpose are not the same as Islamophobes who show such images to cause offense,” the national organization said in a statement. “Based on what we know up to this point, we see no evidence that Professor Erika López Prater acted with Islamophobic intent or engaged in conduct that meets our definition of Islamophobia.”

The statement came after the organization’s Minnesota chapter entered the fray with a press conference to support Hamline, a small university in St. Paul that suffered a national uproar for not renewing Ms. Lopez Prater‘s contract at the end of the fall term.

“It is important to remember that academic freedom is not absolute,” said CAIR-Minnesota executive director Jaylani Hussein at the Wednesday press briefing, as shown on Fox9 Minneapolis. “And universities have the right to restrict speech that promotes hate or discrimination.”

Hamline blasted the art lecture as “undeniably inconsiderate, disrespectful and Islamophobic,” saying respect for Muslim students “should have superseded academic freedom” after a student who attended the class complained.

Ms. Lopez Prater warned students ahead of time about the images both in the course syllabus and then again before showing them during the online lecture. Still, Hamline senior Aram Wedatalla said she was “extremely hurt and disappointed.”

“I was shocked to find that I was in a class with a professor who gave me trigger warnings before proceeding to disrespect my religion and me,” Ms. Wedatalla, president of the Muslim Student Association, said at the CAIR-Minnesota press conference.

While many Muslims consider visual depictions of the Prophet sacrilegious, the view is not universal. Muslim artists in some regions created “reverential paintings of the Prophet,” and some Muslims “use certain images as part of their religious practices,” said CAIR.

“What we find un-Islamic is not necessarily Islamophobic, and we must be careful to distinguish between those two concepts,” said the national group. “Academics should not be condemned as bigots without evidence or lose their positions without justification.”

The Muslim Public Affairs Council also defended Ms. Lopez Prater, saying that the 14th-century painting was “not Islamophobic” and in fact was commissioned by a Muslim king to honor the Prophet by depicting him receiving a revelation from the archangel Gabriel.

“Given the ubiquity of Islamophobic depictions of the Prophet Muammad, it hardly makes sense to target an art professor trying to combat narrow understandings of Islam,” said the council in a statement. “There is an unmistakable irony in the situation, which should be appreciated.”

Hamline President Fayneese Miller issued a statement Wednesday defending the university’s position and disputing media reports saying that Ms. Lopez Prater was fired or dismissed.

“The adjunct taught the class to the end of the term, when she, like all other faculty, completed the term requirements, and posted her grades,” Ms. Miller said in a statement. “The decision not to offer her another class was made at the unit level and in no way reflects on her ability to adequately teach the class.”

She said that administrators, staff and a Hamline student “now receive daily threats of violence,” and she took issue with those accusing the university of infringing upon academic freedom.

“Hamline is a liberal arts institution, the oldest in Minnesota, the first to admit women, and now led by a woman of color,” said Ms. Miller. “To deny the precepts upon which academic freedom is based would be to undermine our foundational principles. Prioritizing the well-being of our students does not in any way negate or minimize the rights and privileges assured by academic freedom.”

Free-speech groups have rallied behind Ms. Lopez Prater. A petition posted by University of Michigan professor of Islamic art Christiane Gruber calling for Hamline to reinstate the professor had reached Friday nearly 15,000 signatures.

In its statement, CAIR said that “we normally do not comment on local issues that arise in states with an existing CAIR chapter.”

“However, we must sometimes speak up to clarify where our entire organization stands on local issues with national implications. This is one of those times,” said the national group.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at

Source: Washington Times

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Visit Of Islamic Scholars To Xinjiang Region Refutes Smearing On China


A delegation consisting of more than 30 Islamic figures and scholars from 14 countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Tunisia and Bosnia and Herzegovina begin their Xinjiang visit on Sunday. Photos: Fan Lingzhi/GT


By Liu Xin

Jan 14, 2023

A delegation of Islamic figures and scholars visited China's Xinjiang region and witnessed firsthand the region's developments and stability, which proved again some media's lies about the region cannot cover up the truth and the practices of using Xinjiang topics to smear China are doomed to fail, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a press conference on Friday.

On the same day, the regional government of Xinjiang also held a press conference and offered more detailed information on the visit of the delegation to more than 30 Chinese and foreign media.

Led by Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi, chairman of The World Muslim Communities Council from the UAE, a delegation including more than 30 Islamic figures and scholars from 14 countries visited Northwest China's Xinjiang region starting on January 8. They went to mosques, the Xinjiang Islamic Institute, bazaars and many other places to communicate with local residents and religious groups in Urumqi, Altay and Kashi to get a better understanding of the region's development and protection of religious freedom.

During the press conference held by the Xinjiang regional government, photos and videos of the delegation's visit in the region were streamed with interviews of Islamic scholars with the media.

For example, after seeing the exhibition on the fight of terrorism and extremism in Urumqi, some foreign Islamic scholars praised the region's achievements on deradicalization and said it helped realize social stability and the measures have offered valuable experience for other countries' fight with terrorism.

Xu Guixiang, a spokesperson from the regional government, told the conference that the delegation also went to Kashi to see the reconstruction project of the old town, watching a performance of the Twelve Muqam and going to the workshop of a Kazak resident to see the preservation of ancient fur ski technique in Altay.

After a visit to the regional museum and seeing the Twelve Muqam performance, a Mauritanian writer and scholar said that all ethnic groups in Xinjiang have created a splendid culture together, and they saw how China is committed to protecting and promoting multi-ethnic culture in Xinjiang, which is fully in line with the purpose of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization of protecting and promoting diversification of civilizations.

The delegation also had a symposium with faculty and students from the Xinjiang Islamic Institute to exchange views on the fostering of Islamic clergies and the protection of freedom of religion. They also held a symposium with officials in Kashi to understand the poverty alleviation work.

On the last day, the head of the delegation Al Nuaimi had an interview with the media, including the Global Times, in which he spoke highly of the region's deradicalization efforts and said it is a great achievement for the region to see no terror attacks for six years.

"Don't listen to those who criticize you. If you listen to this criticism, you will be misguided. You will spend some of your resources to deal with this criticism. Focus on your national priority. Make sure all your resources are in the right place to develop your country, to invest in your citizens and to do the right thing for your nation," said the leading Islamic scholar.

What the delegation has seen is totally different from some media's description and the allegations that criticized Xinjiang's human rights situation or the accusation of "genocide" on Uygurs, calling white black and distorting the truth, Wang said at the FM's press conference.

Seeing is believing and justice bears in people's heart. The visit of the delegation and their feelings once again proved that lies cannot cover up the truth and the malicious attempt of hyping Xinjiang-related topics to smear China is doomed to fail, Wang said.

The FM spokesperson said that China sincerely welcome friends from all over the world to come to Xinjiang and to feel the social stability, economic development, harmony of ethnic groups and freedom of religion by themselves.

Source: Global Times

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 Posters Telling Hindus Not to Sell Properties to Muslims Surface in Delhi's Brahmpuri

Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar

January 14, 2023

New Delhi: Over the last three years, residents of several parts of northeast Delhi have gone about repairing their lives following the riots that had left 53 dead – two-thirds of them Muslims – and hundreds injured and led to the loss of property worth thousands of crores. As people battled the Covid-19 pandemic and tried to piece their lives together following the economic upheaval it caused, the hope was that things would improve.

The riots also bred a sense of insecurity among several residents of the area, as they moved out of their homes to places which they perceived as safer localities.

But now posters have emerged in some parts of Brahmpuri in Shahdara asking Hindus not to sell their properties to Muslims and threatening that any registration of such a property would be opposed.

Issued in the name of an advocate, Pradeep Sharma of Lane No. 13, Brahmpuri, these posters also direct that all future transactions in the Brahmpuri area would be between Hindus alone.

‘Brahmpuri saw no violence as Muslims protected properties of Hindus’

It is ironic that these posters have come up in an area that was spared the spectre of violence, largely due to the approach of the majority of Muslims. Paediatrician Nafees Ahmed, who runs a clinic, on Lane No. 13, Brahmpuri, told The Wire that three years ago when there were riots in some parts of northeast Delhi, the Brahmpuri area remained untouched by the violence due to the efforts of the people here.

“This road, Lane No. 13, has a majority of shops owned by Muslims on one side while on the other side, most of the shops are owned by Hindus. However, if you would look at the overall population, the majority are Muslims. During the riots of 2020, the Muslims saved the shops of Hindus here. They supported them wholeheartedly. Many of the Muslim residents openly assured their Hindu brothers that they need not fear anything. At night, they even patrolled the area to ensure that miscreants did not cause any harm,” he elaborated.

“So,” Dr. Ahmed said, “we have never had any kind of such communal tension in this area. As such, these posters only seek to communalise the atmosphere. Some people are engaged in such work. There is also a feeling that the ruling party may be behind this to increase the vote percentage in their favour. Whoever is putting these up is sending a clear message that he is a radical Hindu and will not let anyone sell their property to Muslims. But overall, there is not much tension in the area right now.”

The practicing pediatrician said in their locality they also have several peace committees that work with various communities to ensure that differences of any kind are resolved at the earliest.

“Our former MLA, Chaudhary Mateen Ahmed, is a prominent Congress leader. Despite being a Muslim, he used to get a lot of support from the Hindus. He used to also organise various events, like the largest Kanwar camp, for the Hindus. So when he was the legislator, there never used to be this kind of tension. Also, there is a large Hindu population on the other side of Brahmpuri and they used to support ‘Chaudhary sahab’ a great deal.”

But ever since Mateen Ahmed was defeated and got replaced, the situation appears to have changed a bit, he said, adding that “it is wrong”.

‘Muslims barred from buying properties’

As for the properties being sold in the area now, Dr. Ahmed said it is mostly the Muslims who are buying them. “The non-Muslims are gradually moving out. This is the reason why some people have now started saying that do not sell your properties to Muslims.”

Dr. Ahmed added that this was happening not only in Brahmpuri but also in several parts of North East Delhi. “This is an unauthorised area, but if you would go to even authorised areas like Yamuna Vihar, where I reside, there too you will observe this trend and mentality. Barring some blocks, Muslims are not allowed to make purchases elsewhere. I also wanted to purchase a property but was refused outright. Also, in Hindu areas, houses are not given on rent to Muslims.”

The doctor added that while posters have been put up to the effect in Brahmpuri, in several other areas, there is an unwritten diktat under which Hindus are not allowed to sell their properties to Muslims. “This has been happening a lot for the last four to five years and the situation took a turn for the worse post the February 2020 riots.”

‘Riots deepened the sense of insecurity’

“After the riots,” Dr. Ahmed said, “the few Muslims remaining in Hindu majority areas have also started their properties and so is the case with Hindus living in Muslim majority areas. There is a sense of unease and insecurity among many such residents.”

He added that the divisions and the mentality to stay away from Muslims appear to be increasing. Also, he said, a large number of people are now preferring moving to more developed and well-planned areas like Noida.

Meanwhile, Aam Aadmi Party leader from Brahmpuri, Gaurav Sharma – whose wife Chhaya, became the Councillor from the ward on the party ticket this time – said the posters have come up in an area which is part of the Gautam Puri ward.

“Since the 2020 riots people from both sides have been working to improve the situation and build confidence among the communities. But in between you find some such people come in who again create tension. They just want to spoil the atmosphere.”

Sharma said there was no need for anyone to put up such posters and in case, he had any grievance he should have consulted the resident welfare association (RWA) or other people in the neighbourhood.

“What happens because of such actions like putting up posters is that people who are working towards mediation or towards bringing people from both sides together, so that once again there is pyaar mohabbat between the two sides, they end up losing face.”

When I learnt that posters have been put up in Brahmpuri, I checked up with the area residents. It was then I realised that the posters have been put up in the Gautam Puri area. I asked the local residents to ensure that we do not return to the situation which existed three years ago. It was time which we still find difficult to forget and come out of,” he said, explaining how attempts are being made to normalise the situation again.

Source: The Wire

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Sree Ram Sene President Pramod Muthalik, Asks Hindus To Worship Swords And Display Them At Their Homes To Protect Their Women

K.M. Rakesh   |   Bangalore  


A known Hindutva hawk in Karnataka, Sree Ram Sene national president Pramod Muthalik, has asked Hindus to worship swords and display them at their homes to protect their women.

His comments come days after BJP parliamentarian Pragya Singh Thakur told Hindus to keep their kitchen knives sharp, indicating a concerted Sangh Parivar drive to polarise voters ahead of this summer’s Assembly elections.

Muthalik said it was better to worship swords than tools or books on Ayudha Puja, observed widely in south India a day ahead of Dasara — which coincides with Vijaya Dashami — during which people worship articles linked to their occupation or vocation.

“We should worship swords instead of tractors, books or pens. We should display swords at our homes to protect our women,” Muthalik said at a convention to mark Swami Vivekananda’s birth anniversary in Yadravi, north Karnataka, on Thursday.

Till Friday evening, there were no reports of any police complaint being lodged or FIR registered. BJP-ruled Karnataka’s police had earlier filed a hate-speech FIR against Pragya three days after her comments, acting under public pressure.

Pragya Singh Thakur, Lok Sabha member and terror accused, had on December 25 exhorted Hindus to keep their vegetable knives sharp against perpetrators of “love jihad” — an unsubstantiated Sangh parivar allegation about a Muslim conspiracy to lure Hindu women into relationships and marriage to convert them.

Muthalik’s comment about protecting Hindu women appeared another way of alluding to “love jihad”. Recently, state BJP president Nalin Kateel asked party workers to talk of “love jihad”, and not small matters like roads and sewage, ahead of the Assembly polls. Sangh parivar outfits have been demanding a specific law, and a separate police wing, against “love jihad” in Karnataka.
Source: Telegraph India

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Kerala Muslim Outfits Hail Congress ‘Revival’ Bid By Tharoor

14th January 2023

KOZHIKODE: Congress leader and MP Shashi Tharoor, who has laid bare his intentions in state politics, is getting wider support from Muslim organisations, which are the traditional vote bank of the UDF. Tharoor met the leaders of various Muslim groups during his second phase of the Malabar tour on Friday. After meeting Tharoor, Samastha Kerala Jem-Iyyathul Ulema president Syed Muhammad Jiffiri Muthukoya Thangal did not hide his admiration for the Congress leader.

“Tharoor is a world citizen who has wide and rich experience, which can be utilised effectively,” Thangal said. He said Tharoor is doing his best to strengthen the party and trying to bring Congress to the mainstream. Tharoor also met the leaders of Kerala Nadvathul Mujahideen (KNM) at the Mujahid Centre. He told them that the renaissance movement in Kerala is an example for all communities. He hailed the renaissance efforts of the Mujahid movement and opined that effective steps should be taken to counter the efforts to divide people communally.

Tharoor said his attempt is to reclaim the amity between different communities.KNM state president T P Abdulla Koya Madani, vice-presidents Hussein Madavoor and N V Abdurahman, treasurer Noor Muhammad Noorsha, secretaries Palath Abdurahman Madani and A I Abdul Majeed Swalahi took part in the discussions.

MP: Congress will ensure secular votes are not split

Shashi Tharoor said Congress will take steps to ensure secular votes are not split. He was speaking to leaders of Wisdom Islamic Organisation (WIO). He said BJP has managed to secure power in states by threatening and luring smaller parties.

He said BJP has not yet presented any documents officially on Uniform Civil Code and the propaganda is only an election stunt. WIO state chief P N Abdul Latheef Madani, treasurer Nasar Balussery, secretary K Sajjad and others were present.

Source: New Indian Express

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French Muslim union sues nation's biggest literary star Houellebecq

13 January, 2023

The Union of Mosques in France is suing the controversial French novelist Michel Houellebecq for discrimination, hate speech and inciting violence in remarks to an interviewer, the organisation told AFP on Friday.

Houellebecq, whose books sell in big numbers, penned the international headline-grabbing 2015 novel "Submission" about a Muslim winning the presidency, which taps into right-wing fears over the rise of Islam.

He is accused of telling an interviewer for the "Front Populaire" publication that Muslims in France should "stop stealing and being aggressive" to "ethnic" French people.

The passages suggest there could be violence towards French Muslims, which he dubbed "reverse Bataclans", a reference to the 2015 attacks on the Bataclan concert hall by French and Belgian-born jihadists with links to the Islamic State group.

Houellebecq has said the controversial sections would be edited out of the interview online, and in a forthcoming book in which the remarks will feature.

Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the union, said in a statement "his proposal to replace them in a forthcoming book does not put an end to their dissemination and does not protect Muslims from their consequences".

Source: The New Arab

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Sweden's Islamist Party Leader Claims Muslims Profiled by Intelligence, Rights Violated

by Abdullah Bozkurt

Nordic Monitor

January 12, 2023

The leader of Sweden's Islamist Nuance Party (Partiet Nyans, or PNy) claimed Muslims in the Nordic region's most populous country are under pressure by intelligence services and that the authorities want to strip Muslims of their rights and freedoms, effectively parroting similar talking points made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan about Muslims in Europe.

Mikail Yüksel, a Swedish politician of Turkish origin who was accused of acting on behalf of the Erdoğan regime, said schools established by Muslims were shut down after they were profiled by Swedish intelligence services. He also said Sweden is not a country that values rights, liberties or freedoms.

"Today, in Sweden, unfortunately, the government wants to take away the freedoms and rights of Muslims. For example, the headscarf ban, the circumcision issue. Muslim-owned schools are closed due to the operations of intelligence agencies," Yüksel said on a TV program moderated by Mücahit Küçükyılmaz, a chief advisor of the Turkish president.

"Sweden may seem like a country that is pro-freedom from the outside, but I think it would be good to be aware of the oppression of immigrants, especially Muslims," Yüksel added.

Asked by Erdoğan's advisor where Turks in Sweden stand on Turkey blocking approval of NATO membership for the Nordic country, Yüksel claimed some 90 to 95 percent of Turks side with the Erdoğan government in the row.

Yüksel also lamented that Sweden wants to cut off funds provided to mosques by foreign countries, especially Turkey, which supports a number of mosques operated by Turkey's religious authority, the Diyanet, in several Swedish cities. Diyanet-run mosques and Turkey-funded imams were exposed in the past for engaging in spying activities on Swedish territory on behalf of the Turkish government. Reports that profiled critics of the Erdoğan regime were sent back to Turkey by Diyanet imams.

Yüksel accused Sweden's justice minister of spearheading a campaign to ban such funding at the European Union level as well and said Sweden wants to enact a law to make such foreign financing illegal.

The program was aired on September 8, 2022 on TRT Türk, a station owned by the state-run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) that targets overseas audiences with a special focus on the Turkish and Muslim diaspora communities.

Küçükyılmaz, also an Islamist, is known for running clandestine influence operations on behalf of his boss, Erdoğan, by using social media troll armies, helping disseminate fake news and attack opponents of the government with slander, distortions and lies. For a while he was the director of the presidency's communications office and worked with the Turkish intelligence-linked SETA foundation in Ankara.

Yüksel's remarks on Küçükyılmaz's program echo similar comments made by Turkish President Erdoğan, who often accuses European governments of usurping the rights and freedoms of Turks and Muslims, raiding their mosques and attacking covered Muslim women in the street while authorities look the other way.

On October 6, 2020 Erdoğan publicly accused Sweden, among other European countries, of encouraging attacks on mosques, Muslims and Turks, and said perpetrators are protected by the authorities. He noted that the rights of Muslims have been usurped and that attacks against Muslims have become a daily occurrence. Citing a Quran-burning incident in Sweden as an example, Erdoğan said perpetrators are protected in the name of freedoms while Muslims' sacred values are under attack.

"I'm saying this very plainly: Racism and Islamophobia are protected by state authorities in many Western nations. ...The murderers who attacked our mosques and Muslims' businesses are not even prosecuted," Erdoğan stated.

On October 26, 2020 Erdoğan said his government drew up security plans to protect Turks and Muslims in Europe against what he called dark and insidious plans and a total attack on Islam. He said Turkey has 6 million citizens living in European countries and would consider attacks on Turks and/or Muslims as a national security matter.

"I want to express a fact very clearly here. As the president of a country that has 6 million of its citizens living in Europe, I find it useful to make the following warning to our interlocutors. The end of this road you have embarked upon to mask your failures is disaster. Turkey is determined to protect the rights and security of its citizens. We consider hostility to Islam and racist terrorism a national security issue, and we will make our plans accordingly," Erdoğan said.

Yüksel established Nyans with the support of Turks and Muslim in Sweden after he was expelled from the liberal Center Party (Centerpartiet) in 2018 due to his alleged ties to violent nationalist group the Grey Wolves, the youth branch of Turkey's far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Yüksel's father Orhan has long served as a politician with the MHP, which is allied with Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). He served as mayor of Kulu from 1999 to 2004. Orhan ran for mayor again in 2009 but lost by a few votes. He again unsuccessfully ran in the 2014 elections on the MHP ticket. He was head of the MHP's far-right youth movement the Grey Wolves in the past.

In the 2019 local elections, he issued a statement asking for support for a joint candidate fielded by the AKP and MHP. In the same statement he also defended his son, who was facing troubles in Swedish politics.

After his dismissal from the Center Party, Mikail talked to Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency and claimed he was asked to speak against Turkey and President Erdoğan and that when he refused, he faced troubles within his own party that led to his dismissal.

No direct evidence has emerged so far linking Nyans to the Erdoğan government in Turkey, but if that link is uncovered in the future, It would certainly not be surprising. In June 2017, speaking in an interview with Albanian TV, President Erdoğan himself openly admitted that there is nothing wrong with supporting political parties that share an ideology similar to that of his Islamist AKP in the Balkans and other European countries. "Nobody should be bothered by this," he added.

In February 2022 Erdoğan hosted a large delegation from the Union of International Democrats (UID), his ruling party's long arm in Europe, at the presidential palace in Ankara and asked participants living in Europe to organize and to create mechanisms that would affect politics in the countries in which they live.

"[Turkey] has been a European country since the first century of the Ottoman Empire. Until the beginning of the last century, the land on which many European countries are located today was part of our homeland. Today, beyond our historical and social ties, we form an inseparable part of the European continent with our Thrace region," Erdoğan told the audience, which chanted slogans during his speech. The UID has been very active in many Western European countries, including Sweden.

During the 2022 election campaign, Yüksel was given a platform by Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency to raise his talking points, which helped to promote him, especially in Turkish circles in Sweden as well as in diaspora communities in Turkey, where Turks with Swedish citizenship cast their votes.

In Sweden's parliamentary elections, the Nyans party got 28,352 votes, corresponding to 0.44 percent of the electorate, making it the largest party in Sweden that is not represented in Parliament.

It was not a big impact, but according to Yüksel this robbed the ruling center-left bloc, led by the Social Democrats (Socialdemokraterna), of a thin lead in parliament and brought a center-right coalition to power.

"We went down in history as the party that overthrew the Social Democrat government," said Yüksel, commenting on the election results. "The Muslim voters punished the the Social Democrats," he added.

Yüksel's assertion may be an exaggeration considering that large parties lost some votes to smaller parties on either side of the political spectrum, bringing them to roughly an equal footing in their losses. Yüksel's claim is based merely on nominal figures and a one-sided picture of voter bleed from only the center-left bloc, which is quite misleading.

It is true that Nyans is believed to have received the votes primarily from supporters of Social Democrats and the Left Party (Vänsterpartiet). The Social Democrat-led bloc lost the election by only some 26,000 votes, and Nyans garnered over 28,000 votes. But similar changes were recorded in the center and far-right base, where smaller parties chipped away votes from big parties in the bloc.

But in regional and municipal elections, Nyans has displayed some success. In the Stockholm region, it received 0.70 percent of votes cast. In the Skåne region, it received 1 percent of all votes. Its performance was more noteworthy in municipal elections. In the Botkyrka municipality in the south of the Stockholm region, the party managed to get 2.03 percent or 916 votes, above the 2 percent threshold, and secured two seats out of 75 on the city council.

Yüksel moved his residential address to Botkyrka a day before the election to assume the seat in the municipality, which was questioned by other politicians in the city and criticized for manipulating the system. Although the party managed to win two seats, the municipality will continue to be run by the centrist bloc, which declared that it wouldn't work with Nyans.

It appears for now that Nyans will continue to operate from its new base in Botkyrka, near Stockholm, where many Turks and Muslims live.

In the Stockholm municipal election, Nyans scored 0.93 percent, or 5,694 votes, failing to obtain a seat on the city council. But figures from the municipality show the party performed well in some electoral districts in the city. In Stockholm's Rinkby neighborhood, the party received close to 30 percent of the vote and ranks there as the largest party. In its strongest stronghold of Malmö, the party received 2.10 percent in the municipal election but missed the threshold for a seat on the city council, which is 3 percent.

In the election campaign, Nyans was criticized by other parties for increasing the polarization among voters by stoking people's fears. exploiting feelings of alienation and casting suspicion on Swedish authorities to win votes. Some of its candidates in Skåne spread hate propaganda against Jews and peddled conspiracy theories about the terrorist attacks in the US on September 11, 2001.

Yüksel denies that Nyans is an Islamist party and says it believes in a multicultural society. According to Yüksel, Islamophobia, integration and housing problems are the core issues they attach the most importance to. Yüksel also advocates for official minority status for Muslims, the same as Jews. The Nyans party has recently appeared at support meetings for families whose children have been put in the care of Swedish Social Services (Socialtjänsten). According to Nyans, Muslims are discriminated against when children are taken from their parents on the grounds that they are mistreated. In addition, children who are placed with foster families lose their Muslim identities.

Almost all the candidates on the Nyans list were Muslims. There are very few Swedes on the list, which includes Muslims of Turkish, Somali and Balkan origin. According to a report in the Swedish media, there was a significant number of criminals and Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated persons among the Nyans candidates.

For instance, Bashir Aman Ali, the founder of the Al-Azhar Foundation who ran for a parliamentary seat in the city of Stockholm, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison in 2019 for allowing 10 million kronor (around $900,000) to be taken out of the foundation illegally to start an Islamic bank. Ali claimed during the election campaign that Muslims in Sweden can be "imprisoned without a trial or evidence."

According to a news story published on the website of the state-funded Sveriges Radio (Swedish Public Radio) on September 1, 2022 , Yüksel was convicted in a Turkish court of a minor assault of a relative in 2009 and ordered to pay damages.

After the election, an internal feud within Nyans erupted over Yüksel's leadership, and some party members, feeling alienated, called for his resignation.

Source: ME Forum

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UK Says ‘Barbaric’ Execution Of British-Iranian National, Alireza Akbari, Will Not Go Unpunished

14 January ,2023

Britain on Saturday called the execution by Iran of British-Iranian national Alireza Akbari a barbaric act and said it would not go unpunished.

Earlier, the Iranian judiciary’s Mizan news agency reported the execution of the former Iranian deputy defence minister who had been sentenced to death on charges of spying for Britain.

“I am appalled by the execution of British-Iranian citizen Alireza Akbari in Iran,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Twitter.

“This was a callous and cowardly act, carried out by a barbaric regime with no respect for the human rights of their own people.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran executes British-Iranian national despite UK, US pleas

January 14, 2023

DUBAI: Iran has executed British-Iranian national Alireza Akbari, the judiciary’s Mizan news agency reported on Saturday, after sentencing the former Iranian deputy defense minister to death on charges of spying for Britain.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said late on Friday Iran must not follow through with the execution — a call echoed by the US State Department. Britain had described the death sentence as politically motivated and called for his release.

Mizan said in a Tweet early on Saturday the sentence had been carried out, without saying when.

“Alireza Akbari, who was sentenced to death on charges of corruption on earth and extensive action against the country’s internal and external security through espionage for the British government’s intelligence service ... was executed,” it said.

The report accused Akbari, arrested in 2019, of receiving 1,805,000 euros, 265,000 pounds, and $50,000 for spying.

In an audio recording purportedly from Akbari and broadcast by BBC Persian on Wednesday, he said he had confessed to crimes he had not committed after extensive torture.

Iranian state media broadcast a video on Thursday that they said showed that Akbari played a role in the 2020 assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, killed in a 2020 attack outside Tehran which authorities blamed at the time on Israel.

In the video, Akbari did not confess to involvement in the assassination but said a British agent had asked for information about Fakhrizadeh.

Iran’s state media often airs purported confessions by suspects in politically charged cases.

Reuters could not establish the authenticity of the state media video and audio, or when or where they were recorded.

London-Tehran ties have deteriorated in recent months as efforts have stalled to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear pact, to which Britain is a party.

Britain has also been critical of the Islamic Republic’s violent crackdown on anti-government protests, sparked by the death in custody of a young Iranian-Kurdish woman in September.

A British foreign office minister said on Thursday that Britain was actively considering proscribing Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization but has not reached a final decision.

Iran has issued dozens of death sentences as part of the crackdown on the unrest, executing at least four people.

In the audio recording broadcast by BBC Persian, Akbari said he had made false confessions as a result of torture.

“With more than 3,500 hours of torture, psychedelic drugs, and physiological and psychological pressure methods, they took away my will. They drove me to the brink of madness... and forced me to make false confessions by force of arms and death threats,” he said.

Source: Arab News

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Germany makes overtures to Saudi Arabia with ‘cultural diplomacy’ concert


January 13, 2023

RIYADH: Germany’s Ambassador hosted a classical concert on Wednesday at his residence in Riyadh with local artists blending Saudi and German influences in the music.

Performances by Riyadh-based artists Bouchra El Beainou (singing and piano), Elvin Najafov (violin) and Talal Abbas (piano) received standing ovations and thunderous applause. With chants of “once more” from the audience, the artists performed an encore at envoy Dieter Lamle’s request.

The three artists are part of Music House, a Saudi venture that describes itself as the first company specialized in music training in the Kingdom.

The ambassador stressed on the importance of promoting cultural exchange between Saudi Arabia and Germany.

“We have had a series of concerts in the past months. It is one of my main goals to support local artists and it gives me great pleasure to listen to them play German composers as well as their own compositions. Young talents are always welcome at the German embassy,” he said.

“You can kind of describe it as ‘cultural diplomacy’. The idea is to foster cultural exchange by bringing local artists together with German composers and at the same time give young artists a platform to perform and gain experience.”

Speaking to Arab News after the concert El Beainou, who is an opera singer and teacher at the Music House, said: “I am so happy, and very glad to be here for the classical concert hosted by the Germany Embassy. It’s a very wonderful feeling performing here, especially with the beautiful response from the audience. I want to thank the Music House and the German Embassy for giving us this opportunity.”

Abbas told Arab News: “We have the pleasure and honor to perform here at the German embassy. I am thankful to the ambassador for inviting us. He made us feel like we are at home to play as naturally as possible.

“The event was a big success. The audience enjoyed the music and we enjoyed playing.”

Source: Arab News

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Turkish parliament speaker asks Sweden to take concrete steps to prevent terrorist provocations

Sinan Uslu  


The Turkish parliament speaker has called on his Swedish counterpart to take necessary action on Thursday’s provocative demonstration by terrorist supporters in Stockholm, which targeted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"We urgently expect the perpetrators of this action to be identified, and concrete steps to be taken to prevent such incidents," Türkiye's Mustafa Sentop told Andreas Norlen over phone on Friday.

"The heinous act of the terrorist organization PKK/PYD/YPG supporters in Stockholm, targeting Türkiye and our President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, caused great discomfort in the country, and in all segments of society," Sentop said.

Supporters of the PKK and its offshoots gathered in front of the historical City Hall in the capital Stockholm, hung a puppet -- likened to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- by the feet on a pole in front of the building and shared video footage of the moment on social media.

In response to the demonstration, Sentop canceled Norlen's visit to Türkiye, which had been scheduled for Jan. 17.

We find this action unacceptable and strongly condemn it, Sentop said.

Expressing his disappointment on the cancellation of the visit, Norlen said: "I was disturbed, even disgusted, when I saw the images appearing in front of the city hall in Stockholm."

He added: "Such acts of violence and threats against politicians have no place in democratic societies."

He said threats of violence against politicians have no place in a democratic dialogue, adding that he was looking forward to visiting the Turkish parliament with Finnish parliament speaker Matti Vanhanen.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry had also summoned Staffan Herrstrom, the Swedish ambassador in Ankara, to convey the country's reaction to the propaganda demonstration.

Sweden and Finland abandoned their long-standing policies of military nonalignment and applied for membership in the military alliance after Russia launched its war on Ukraine last February.

But NATO-member Türkiye has not yet endorsed their accession, which requires unanimous approval from all existing alliance members.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Iran Imam Blames Lack Of Rainfall On ‘Women Not Wearing Hijab’ Amid Protests

14 January ,2023

An Iranian imam has blamed a lack of rainfall across the country on women not wearing hijabs following months of nationwide protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police detention.

Amini died in September following her arrest by the notorious Tehran morality police for an alleged breach of the Islamic Republic’s strict hijab dress code for women– leading to months of protests, unrest and women defiantly taking off their head scarfs.

Mohammad-Mehdi Hosseini Hamedani, the Supreme Leader’s representative in the city of Karaj and Friday prayer imam, said the taboo-breaking gestures of removing their headscarves, which are mandatory for women in the Islamic Republic, ‘has caused a lack of precipitation across the country’, the news site Iran International reported Friday.

Iran has been facing severe water shortages across the country and has faced its worst drought in 50 years.

The water crisis has affected households, agriculture, and livestock farming, and has led to power blackouts.

Hamedani reiterated that observance of hijab should be enforced strictly in society and described those who remove their headscarf an ‘enemy’ and must be confronted by the state.

“It is not possible to imagine that we are living in an Islamic country when we enter some institutions, shopping malls, pharmacies, etc.!” he said, calling on the authorities to warn shops and malls that serve women who have removed their hijab and close them down if warnings did not suffice.

This is not the first time that an Iranian cleric has linked Islamic rituals to drought or natural disasters.

Yousef Tabatabai Nejad, Ali Khamenei’s representative in the central city of Esfahan (Isfahan), said in 2016 that women who unveiled and took photos “like Europeans” are the reason for the city’s river, Zayandeh-Roud (Zayanderud) to go dry and added that if this continues, its headwaters will also dry up.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran’s FM Meets Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad Chiefs In Lebanon

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian traveled to Beirut to meet with senior Lebanese officials and political figures such as Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah Friday.

Hezbollah said in a statement that Nasrallah and Amir-Abdollahian discussed Israel’s new, hardline government and regional developments.

He also held a meeting with Secretary-General of Palestinian Islamic Jihad Ziyad al-Nakhalah during his trip to Lebanon on Friday. The group has been designated a terrorist organization by several countries, including the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, and Australia.

During a joint press conference with Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib, Amir-Abdollahian said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran has been and will remain Lebanon’s friend in hard times.”

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will continue supporting the Islamic resistance in Lebanon and Palestine,” he said, noting, “We consider Lebanon’s security as Iran’s and region’s security.”

For Iran’s clerical regime Lebanon means a country dominated by Hezbollah and a base from where to threaten Israel. Many Shiites see Iran as a source of financial support, but others among Christians and Sunnis resent Hezbollah and Iran’s influence.

Nevertheless, Amir-Abdollahian insisted that “Iran does not interfere in the internal affairs of Lebanon.”

Amir-Abdollahian told reporters in Beirut that he met with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud during a conference in Jordan last month, noting that talks between Tehran and Riyadh are continuing and could eventually restore diplomatic relations severed since 2016. Saudi Arabia has not confirmed Iran’s claims of continuing talks.

Source: Iran Intl

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Iran Voices Readiness to Cooperate With G20


Amir Abdollahian attended the Webinar Meeting of the Foreign Ministers to elaborate on Iran's stances on significant global issues and the key role of the Southern states in the international arena.

During the meeting, Iran’s top diplomat called for practical steps to further boost global peace, stability, and security.

He said that the world is currently facing multi-faceted and complicated crises besides the prospect of returning COVID-19, conflict, war, terrorism, and underdevelopment, as well as the consequences of poverty and economic inequality.

"However, some states are seeking their own unilateral interests instead of cooperating to deal with global challenges and crises," Amir Abdollahian underlined.

A number of states try to put some independent states under pressure and demand multilateralism by affecting the international financial and economic institutions as well as imposing unilateral and oppressive sanctions, the Iranian foreign minister pointed out.

He said that setting up the troika of Southern states to secure the interests of the people of the South, multilateral, regional, and international cooperation within the framework of cooperation to stabilize energy security in the world while striving for food security, multi-layered cooperation in transportation and transit, the fair and peaceful use of nuclear energy besides moving towards public nuclear disarmament in the world, combating terrorism, extremism and bolstering religious tolerance, as well as creating an independent media for the South are suggestions put forwarded by Iran.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Israel’s PM Netanyahu defends plan to rein in judiciary

13 January ,2023

Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu defended on Friday a proposed shakeup of the judiciary but also indicated changes could be made to draft legislation that critics say would damage democracy and the independence of courts.

The 73-year-old political veteran, who is on trial for corruption charges that he denies, returned to power in December at the head of a nationalist, religious government.

One of its first moves was a bill which, if written into law, would limit High Court rulings against government moves or Knesset parliament laws, while increasing politicians’ sway over the selection of judges.

In a video response to stark criticism by Supreme Court President Esther Hayut, Netanyahu said the draft law could be tweaked but critics were exaggerating the changes proposed.

“When one says a minor correction would be the destruction of democracy, it is not only a false argument, it is also one that does not allow any understandings that should be reached in substantive discussions in the Israeli Knesset,” he said.

“Corrections (to the legal system) must be done responsibly and with careful consideration while hearing all the positions and that’s exactly the process that will now take place in the legislature.”

Hayut on Thursday said that if implemented as outlined by Justice Minister Yariv Levin, the reform would compromise judiciary independence.

“If the plan is realized, (Israel’s) 75th anniversary will be remembered as the year the country’s democratic integrity suffered a mortal blow,” he said.

Backers of the bill have long accused the Supreme Court of overreach and elitism. They say the changes would restore balance between the judiciary, executive and legislature.

The Knesset’s constitutional committee has begun discussing the plan.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Protests persist in southeast Iran with chants against supreme leader

13 January ,2023

Protesters gathered in southeast Iran on Friday, shouting slogans against the country’s supreme leader and calling for democracy and equality, videos circulating on social media showed.

Protesters in Zahedan, the capital of Sistan-Baluchistan province, chanted “death to Khamenei” in reference to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, one video posted on Twitter showed, while another video showed protesters chanting “Khamenei, have some shame and leave the country.”

Another video showed women also participating in Friday’s protests.

Iran has seen nationwide protests since 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini died in police custody on September 16.

The demonstrators have been demanding the overthrow of the regime, creating one of the most significant challenges to the Islamic Republic since it was founded in 1979.

Despite a brutal crackdown by security forces, Sistan-Baluchistan has witnessed protests on almost a weekly basis after Friday prayers since late September.

The Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR) said on Monday at least 481 people, including 64 children and 35 women, have been killed by security forces during the protests.

Among the 481 deaths, Sistan-Baluchistan had the highest number of fatalities, with 131 deaths.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israel’s retiring army chief fires broadside at Netanyahu’s far-right regime

January 13, 2023

JERUSALEM/JEDDAH: The head of the Israeli army left office on Friday with a parting blast at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for ceding control of the country to a group of far-right extremists.

Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi joined a chorus of criticism that has erupted since Netanyahu was forced into a governing coalition with some of Israel’s most militant settler activists, one of whom — Itamar Ben-Gvir, the new security minister — has a criminal record for anti-Palestinian hate speech and supporting a Zionist terror group.

Centrist and moderate politicians in Israel refuse to work with Netanyahu while he is on trial for corruption, leaving him to govern with the most far-right administration in the country’s history.

Kochavi took aim on Friday at plans by settler activists to entrench Israeli rule in the occupied West Bank, restructure the Defense Ministry and control a special paramilitary police unit, which he said were a distraction from Israel’s main military challenge of confronting Iran. “This is likely to cause damage and adversely affect our preparedness for war,” Kochavi said.

The general expressed particular concern about the coalition’s plans to create three separate sources of authority in the occupied West Bank.

Netanyahu has given his right-wing finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, control over an Israeli military body that regulates planning for Israeli settlements and Palestinian construction in parts of the West Bank where Israel maintains civilian control.

Smotrich is an ultranationalist who wants to annex almost all of the West Bank, believes mothers should be segregated by religion in Israeli maternity wards, and has said Israel’s founders “made a mistake” by not expelling more Arabs.

Kochavi said effectively making Smotrich “prime minister of the West Bank” was unwise.

“There cannot be two commanding authorities in the West Bank,” he said. “The separation between us is not good and may cause damage and lead to a worse situation for all populations.”

Another move that Kochavi fears could undermine security in the West Bank stems from Netanyahu’s agreement with Ben-Gvir, whose his views are so extreme that the army banned him from compulsory military service.

As national security minister, Ben-Gvir now oversees the paramilitary border police, which until now has worked under the Israeli military in the occupied West Bank.

“The work that the border police are doing … is excellent and I hope that the situation remains just as it is today. The chain of authority must be maintained,” Kochavi said.

After nearly four years as chief of staff, Kochavi will hand over next week to Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi. His criticism of Netanyahu came a day after hundreds of lawyers protested in Tel Aviv over government plans to take more political control over the judiciary.

Netanyahu has sought to assure the public — as well as the US and Israel’s European and Arab allies — that he has veto power over any changes that the far-right ministers make. But critics say he has so far failed to restrain his coalition partners.

Source: Arab News

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Israeli forces kill two Palestinians in West Bank: Palestinian ministry

January 14, 2023

RAMALLAH: Two Palestinians were killed Saturday during an Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said.

The two young men were shot dead by Israeli forces “during an assault on the village of Jaba, south of Jenin” in the north of the West Bank, the ministry said.

No further details were provided on the circumstances surrounding their deaths.

The Israeli army said in a brief statement that it had launched “counterterrorism activity” near the village, during which “suspects shot live fire” at them from a passing vehicle.

“The soldiers responded with live fire. Hits were identified,” it said, adding that no Israeli soldiers were reported injured.

The Palestinian health ministry named the two young men killed as Ezzedine Bassem Hamamra, 24, and Amjad Adnan Khaliliya, 23.

A third Palestinian, 19-year-old Yazen Samer Jaabari, died of his injuries after he was shot by Israeli forces earlier this month, the ministry said.

He was wounded during in Israeli army operation on January 2 in the village of Kafr Dan, near Jenin, in which two other Palestinians were killed, according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

The latest deaths bring up to 12 the toll of Palestinians killed this year during violence in the West Bank, occupied by Israel since 1967.

Israeli forces have launched near-daily raids in the West Bank following a wave of deadly attacks in Israel last year.

Source: Arab News

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North America


US Civil Groups Raise Concerns Over Congressional Committee Chair Mark Green's Anti-Muslim Comments

13 January 2023

Muslim advocacy groups are raising concerns over the appointment of Congressman Mark Green to the chair of the House's Homeland Security Committee, saying the lawmaker has a history of anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Green, a physician, Iraq War veteran and former GOP state senator in Tennessee, is set to lead the committee after being selected by House Republicans earlier this week.

Muslim organisations, however, have stated the lawmaker is unfit to serve on the committee, given his previous statements on Muslims and the Islamic faith.

“Rep. Green’s well-documented history of hate speech against Muslims, LGBTQ people, and immigrants made him unfit to be Secretary of the Army, and that history makes him unfit to chair the House Homeland Security Committee,” Sumayyah Waheed, senior policy counsel at Muslim Advocates, a national civil rights group based in Washington, told the Huffington Post.

“As chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, Mark Green is a threat to Muslims - especially to those that live at the intersections of the communities he has gleefully attacked for political gain.”

At a 2016 meeting of the Tea Party - a conservative political movement within the Republican Party that began in 2009 - Green told an audience that he did not want public school students in Tennessee to learn about Islam.

During that meeting, one audience member said that “we need to take a stand on the indoctrination of Islam in our public schools”. To which Green responded, “I agree.”

“We have to teach the history of the Ottoman Empire, Mecca, Medina, and all of the assault of Islam out into the Levant and North Africa, and Constantinople,” he said, using the phrase “Muslim horde” to describe the spread of Islam.

“But, when you start teaching the pillars of Islam, when you start teaching how to pray as a Muslim, that is over the top and we will not tolerate that in this state.”

In 2015, during his time as a Tennessee state senator, Green also called for a ban on Syrian refugees entering his state.

“If you hold stereotypes about communities, how can you effectively move on issues that are really nuanced and require a greater understanding of the issues?” Sabina Mohyuddin, the executive director of the American Muslim Advisory Council, a Tennessee-based civic engagement group, told the Huffington Post.

Rachel Del Guidice, Green's communications director, told Middle East Eye that some media outlets "cut and spliced his words about terrorism and ISIS, falsifying what Rep. Green said".

"Rep. Green has not, and will not ever, force his religion on anyone. He believes that every American has a right to defend their country," Del Guidice said. "Vilifying people of faith because they don’t agree with progressive policies is against America’s founding principles - the very principles he fought to protect," she added.

In 2017, Green had similarly been scrutinised by Muslim organisations after he was nominated by then-President Donald Trump to be the secretary of the army. He ended up withdrawing from consideration.

In addition to Green, House Republican leadership has been accused of Islamophobia after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said that he was sticking to his promise about removing Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from her position on the foreign affairs committee.

Omar, who is Muslim, has a history of facing Islamophobic attacks and death threats since being elected to office in 2018.

Source: Middle East Eye

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US Republicans probe 'chaotic' Afghanistan withdrawal leading to Taliban takeover

14th January 2023

WASHINGTON: Republicans launched an investigation Friday into the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan that sparked a lightning takeover of the war-ravaged country by the Taliban and the death of 13 American troops in a militant attack.

Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he had written to Secretary of State Antony Blinken requesting an array of records, from intelligence assessments to communications with the Taliban.

"It is absurd and disgraceful that the Biden administration has repeatedly denied our longstanding oversight requests and continues to withhold information related to the withdrawal," said McCaul, a longstanding opposition member on the panel who became its chairman after the House flipped to Republican control at the start of the year.

"In the event of continued noncompliance, the committee will use the authorities available to it to enforce these requests as necessary, including through a compulsory process."

The US soldiers were killed on August 26, 2021, in a bombing outside Kabul's airport as the capital fell, with the government crumbling days later despite $2 trillion pumped into Afghanistan over two decades.

Images of crowds storming parked planes, climbing atop aircraft, and some clinging to a departing US military cargo plane as it rolled down the runway, were aired around the world.

The scenes preceded a sharp drop in President Joe Biden's approval ratings, nine months after he was elected promising smooth, competent leadership after the pandemonium under his predecessor Donald Trump.

While Trump sealed the withdrawal with the Taliban, his Republican Party has roundly criticized Biden's handling of the operation and vowed hearings as part of a series of probes into his administration.

The State Department did not respond immediately to a request for comment but says it has provided more than 150 briefings to members of Congress since the August 2021 withdrawal, according to US media.

Source: New Indian Express

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US lawmaker objects to potential F-16 sale to Turkey

14 January ,2023

The Biden administration has told Congress it is preparing the potential $20 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, sources familiar with the matter said on Friday, sparking an immediate objection from a senior US lawmaker who has long opposed the deal.

The State Department sent the informal notice to Congress on Thursday, three sources said, informing committees overseeing arms sales in the Senate and House of Representatives of its intention to proceed with the proposed deal.

NATO member Turkey requested in October 2021 to buy 40 Lockheed Martin Corp F-16 fighters and nearly 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes. Technical talks between the two sides recently concluded.

The Biden administration has said it supports the sale and has been in touch for months with Congress on an informal basis to win its approval. However, it has failed so far to secure a green light.

“As I have repeatedly made clear, I strongly oppose the Biden administration’s proposed sale of new F-16 aircraft to Turkey,” Senator Bob Menendez, Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.

While the sale is still in the informal review process, Congress is also unlikely to approve the sale as long as Turkey refuses to proceed with the ratification of Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership.

The two countries ended decades of neutrality last May and applied to join NATO in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but Turkey objected and accused the countries of harboring militants, including from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and demanded steps be taken.

The notification, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, comes as Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu prepares to visit Washington on Wednesday for talks as the two NATO allies struggle with a host of disagreements including over Syria and weapons purchases.

Following the informal review, a process during which committee leaders can ask questions or raise concerns about the sale, the administration can technically go ahead with a formal notification. But a senior US official said he was “doubtful”

the administration would be in a position to proceed unless Menendez dropped his objection.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was disregarding human rights and democratic norms and engaging in “alarming and destabilizing behavior in Turkey and against neighboring NATO allies,” Menendez said in his statement.

“Until Erdogan ceases his threats... and begins to act like a trusted ally should, I will not approve this sale.”

Menendez also said he welcomed news of the sale of new F-35 fighter aircraft for Greece, referring to Athens as a “trusted NATO ally” and saying the sale “strengthens our two nations’ abilities to defend shared principles including our collective defense, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.”

Turkey’s 2019 acquisition of Russian air defense systems resulted in Ankara being kicked out of the next-generation F-35 fighter jet program and antagonized the US Congress.

Disagreements with Washington over Syria policy and Turkey’s deteriorating record on human rights and freedom of expression also weighs on congressional sentiment.

A State Department spokesperson declined to comment, saying the department does not confirm or comment on proposed arms sales or transfers until the administration has formally requested approval from Congress.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US offers $10 million for ‘mastermind’ of 2019 Kenya hotel siege

January 14, 2023

NAIROBI: The United States announced Thursday it was offering a reward of up to $10 million for a man described as the “terror mastermind” of a bloody hotel attack in Kenya four years ago.

It said it is seeking information on Mohamoud Abdi Aden, describing him as a leader of the Somalia-based Al-Shabab jihadist group that has carried out several deadly attacks in neighboring Kenya.

The Al-Qaeda affiliated group claimed responsibility for the January 15, 2019 siege on the upmarket DusitD2 hotel compound in the Kenyan capital Nairobi that lasted almost 20 hours.

At least 21 people lost their lives, including a US citizen, and many more were injured. Kenya said at the time that all the assailants had been eliminated.

“Mohamoud Abdi Aden, an Al-Shabab leader, was part of the cell that the planned the DusitD2 hotel attack,” the US ambassador to Kenya, Meg Whitman, told reporters in Nairobi.

She said the US was offering a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the arrest of Aden, described by the embassy as a Kenyan national, and others accused of involvement in the hotel siege.

The head of Kenya’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations, Amin Mohamed Ibrahim, described Aden as the “terror mastermind” behind the carnage.

The State Department designated Aden a “specially designated global terrorist” in October last year.

Al-Shabab has repeatedly targeted Kenya since it sent its army into Somalia in October 2011 to fight the Islamist militant group.

In 2013, Al-Shabab laid siege to the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi for four days, leaving 67 people dead.

In 2015, an attack on Garissa University in eastern Kenya killed 148 people, almost all of them students. Many were shot at point blank range after being identified as Christians.

It was the second bloodiest attack in Kenya’s history, surpassed only by Al-Qaeda’s bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi in 1998 that killed 213 people.

Al-Shabab, which has been waging a bloody insurgency against Somalia’s fragile central government for 15 years, has been designated a terrorist group by the US since 2008.

Source: Arab News

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More than one-third of US citizens believe Jews ‘more loyal to Israel’ than US, survey finds

13 January 2023

More than one-third of US citizens believe Jews are “more loyal to Israel” than to the United States, and that about a quarter of Americans believe “Israel gets away with anything” and controls the media, a new poll has found.

The poll conducted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and released on Thursday found that 39 percent of respondents in the US believe Jews are more loyal to Israel than they are to the US.

Results from the poll also showed that at least 20 percent of respondents said  Jews had “too much power” in the US, and 18 percent said they were “uncomfortable spending time with a pro-Israel person.”

Also, 21 percent of respondents believe that Jews “don’t care about anyone other than themselves”, while 53 percent said that Jews “will go out of their way to hire other Jews” and 23 percent believe “Israel gets away with anything.”

The ADL poll, which was conducted among a sample of more than 4,000 US adults, indicated that Americans’ negative view towards the Israeli regime has doubled in the past 4 years.

The ADL sounded the alarm over growing anti-Semitism in the United States, saying it has reached unprecedented levels in decades.

The development comes as the organization has often equated anti-Semitism to anti-Zionism.

However, political experts say anti-Semitism is being used as a tool for excusing Zionists’ crimes.

Veterans Today editor, Kevin Barrett, said the term anti-Semitism is a misnomer that has its roots in the early 19th-century equation of linguistics with race and, according to him, has been discredited ever since then.

“This notion of anti-Semitism equating with anti-Jewish racism really does not make any sense anymore but since World War II, persecution of Jews in Germany and the backlash against it afterward, essentially this concept of anti-Jewish racism equated falsely with the term anti-Semitism,” Barrett said.

Source: Press TV

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Southeast Asia


Beer brouhaha says little about Malays, more about PAS man

Mariam Mokhtar

January 14, 2023

When Permatang Pauh MP Fawwaz Jan of PAS found issue with the sale of alcohol at the main lobby of Sunway Carnival Mall in Penang, many Malaysians reacted with fury.

But his protest about the promotion of alcoholic products has very little to do with religion, and he should stop dragging alcohol into his political sphere.

The little known cleric is on a high after successfully toppling the Anwar Ibrahim dynasty from their Permatang Pauh seat after decades.

He is trying to generate more publicity for himself and get noticed by members of the PAS central committee. In other words, he is trying to impress the top brass in PAS, and in doing so, hopes to quickly climb the greasy political ladder.

Fawwaz claimed to have strong objections about the sale and added that he was “protecting the sensitivity of Muslims”. He also reminded Malaysians of the adverse effects of alcohol consumption.

What is Fawwaz trying to say? If he wants to curtail sales of alcohol today, the suspicion is that he may want more things to be banned tomorrow, things that are part of the rich diverse culture of the non-Malays.

Is he trying to suggest that Muslim sensitivities are uppermost in his mind and that only their sensitivities matter? What about those in his constituency who are non-Muslim? Don’t their sensitivities matter. too?

As MP, he cannot cherry pick which people he’d like to serve.

Is he admitting that Muslims have thin skins and are easily offended? When he does this, he portrays the Muslims in his community as weak and insecure in their Islamic beliefs.

All Muslims are taught about tolerance, integration and self-discipline, but all that Fawwaz is doing is to undermine their confidence and perhaps, increase their intolerance. There is a chance that he will encourage them to be arrogant.

If the Malays in his constituency fail to fully make positive efforts to understand their religion, Islam, they will gradually destroy its good name and help to create further divisions in society.

The other reason that Fawwaz has decided to make a public spectacle of the sale of alcohol in the mall is that he wants to impress everyone that he is not afraid of having a head-on confrontation with the DAP’s MPs and assemblymen in Penang.

Penang is a stronghold of the DAP. and is the symbolic seat of Malaysian Chinese power.

After years of Umno-Baru and Barisan Nasional failing to oust DAP and Pakatan Harapan from Penang, it is possible that Fawwaz wants to prove to any ignorant Malay, that he, or rather PAS, is more Islamic than Umno-Baru. In other words, he is merely showing off his holier-than-thou traits.

On the other hand, is he saying that non-Muslims have thick skins and can easily dismiss any adverse comments? Surely this can be interpreted as disrespecting and dismissing the rights of the non-Malays and non-Muslims.

Making an issue about the sale, which for decades has not been seen as a problem, has exposed Fawwaz’s underhanded tactics.

He may think he is doing the Malays a service but the opposite is true. He is suggesting that the Muslims in his constituency are weak in their faith.

Malaysia’s first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, said the country was established as a multiracial, multi-cultural and secular state, with Islam as the official religion. Will Fawwaz respect this?

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the closure of many businesses and many people have been made jobless.

The alcohol and brewing industry provides work for thousands of workers in the ancillary trades, such as the bottling industry, packaging, transport industry, warehousing, import-export, port activities, entertainment, hospitality, duty free sales, tourism and aviation.

The activities from these businesses will help to restore our country’s economy and bring in much-needed revenue for the Treasury.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Myanmar Reportedly Jailed Malaysia-bound Rohingya Refugees for Traveling 'Without Official Documents'

Shaikh Azizur Rahman

January 13, 2023

A military-backed court in Myanmar has reportedly sentenced 112 Rohingya Muslim refugees to jail terms after they were caught traveling outside refugee camps, as the entire group was on its way to Malaysia.

The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar reported on January 10 that the Bogale township court sentenced the group of “Bengalis”— a pejorative the authorities in the country use to identify Rohingyas — to two to five years imprisonment on January 6 for traveling “without legal documents.”

The court gave jail terms of two years to five children who were under 13. Seven children older than 13 were sentenced to three years. The rest — 53 men and 47 women — were sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, according to the report.

The group of 112 was arrested from around the shores of Bogale township in the southern Ayeyarwady region of Myanmar by the Ayeyarwady Region Police Force on December 20, after they had landed from motorboats, the state media reported.

Fleeing persecution

Upwards of 1 million Rohingya Muslims live in congested shanty colonies of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, after fleeing persecution and violence in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

In Cox’s Bazar, the Rohingyas live in prison-like conditions, with little opportunity for education or livelihood. Refugees from Bangladesh have for years sought to go to work and live in Malaysia. Using boats operated by human traffickers from Bangladesh, Rohingyas have traveled to Malaysia for many years along illegal sea routes.

Activist groups tracking the movement of Rohingyas report that in recent years many refugees from Bangladesh cross over to Myanmar during the first leg of their illegal journey to Malaysia. With the help of the traffickers, some among them traverse the entire stretch of the journey to Malaysia by land. Some others choose a mixed land-and-sea route to sneak into Malaysia.

However, it is not clear if all members of the group of 112 — who were arrested in Bogale township and jailed — came from Cox’s Bazar or if some in the group were from Rohingya villages or camps inside Myanmar.

According to Cox’s Bazar-based Rohingya activist Mohammad Hossain, at least 5,000 Rohingya from Bangladesh entered Myanmar in the past two years, aiming to finally make it to Malaysia.

“More than half of them were somehow arrested in Myanmar, and now all of them are in custody there. After being intercepted by police in Myanmar, sometimes traffickers pay bribes and manage to get the Rohingyas freed. But in situations where bribes do not come into play for several reasons, Malaysia-bound Rohingyas are ending up in jails in Myanmar,” Hossain told VOA.

“In Myanmar, the members of the community have not been regarded as citizens for decades. They have no way to get travel documents like passports or visas. So, they resort to illegal routes to enter Malaysia. By sending stateless Rohingyas to jail for not possessing official travel documents, Myanmar is giving them extremely unjustified punishments.”

'The latest victims'

Daniel Sullivan, director for Africa, Asia, and the Middle East at Refugees International, said the Rohingya who are being sent to jail for traveling without proper documents are “just the latest victims of the genocidal policies of the military junta in Myanmar.”

“It is the conditions placed on the Rohingya by the junta in Myanmar, including the denial of their citizenship, that has forced them into this predicament. The million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, while out of the direct line of fire of the military junta, are also facing dire conditions incentivizing them to risk dangerous journeys by sea,” Sullivan told VOA.

“Concerted global pressure in the form of targeted sanctions [including on oil and gas and aviation fuel], an arms embargo, and support for accountability measures is urgently needed to get at the root of the crisis affecting the Rohingya and so many other people of Myanmar.”

The Myanmar authorities’ action to imprison Rohingya for not having identity documents is “appalling and outrageous,” Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, told VOA.

“It is precisely the Myanmar government systematically denying the Rohingya access to official recognition and citizenship in the first place for which they are not in possession of identity documents. Furthermore, jailing children for simply accompanying their family on a voyage is so heartless and cruel that it really defies description,” Robertson said.

Source: VOA News

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South Asia


Bangladeshi Activists On Alert Over Government’s Reported Purchase Of Israeli Spyware


January 13, 2023

DHAKA: Bangladeshi activists have called for clarity over the government’s reported purchase of sophisticated surveillance technology from Israel amid concerns about possible violations of constitutional rights.

The Israeli daily Haaretz reported earlier this week that Bangladesh had bought the controversial spyware for nearly $6 million from a company run by a former commander of the Israeli intelligence’s technology unit. Since Bangladesh has no relations with Israel, the purchase was allegedly made through Cyprus and the technology reached the South Asian country in June last year.

When the news broke out, Transparency International Bangladesh issued a statement on Thursday night, saying that the use of such technology poses the risk of violating several fundamental constitutional rights.

“The citizens have the right to know the government’s precise explanation about the extent of buying and using technology that undermines the privacy of their personal information and communication, safety, freedom of expression and thought, and is a potential threat to life and livelihood,” the watchdog’s Executive Director Dr. Iftekharuzzaman said in the statement.

“There is no room for doubt that such technology has already reached the relevant agencies of the government.”

Officials of the National Telecommunication Monitoring Center, a government agency responsible for monitoring communication data, were not available for comment despite repeated attempts to reach out to them.

A member of the ruling Awami League and special assistant to the Bangladeshi prime minister, Biplob Barua, told Arab News the Israeli media report was for him a disinformation attempt against the government.

“As per my knowledge, the government didn’t purchase any Israeli devices…Nowadays, everywhere there is some propaganda going on against our country. If any Israeli media published any news regarding this, I can say that it’s a conspiracy against our government,” he said.

“We don’t have any diplomatic communication with Israel. If any report is published by them, they can say better on this. From our side, it’s totally baseless. It’s a part of ongoing organized propaganda against the government.”

The opposition, however, had heard about the Israeli spyware purchase even before the Haaretz report.

“Earlier also, we heard that the Bangladeshi government had purchased Israeli surveillance devices. As politicians or political activists, we are the victims of these devices,” said Shama Obaed, secretary of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

“Anyone can be framed with false cases with the support of these devices…It violates the privacy of any citizen.”

But to some security experts, like Maj. Gen. (Rtd.) Abdur Rashid, head of the Institute of Conflict, Law and Development Studies in Dhaka, the purchase of surveillance technology by governments is justified in addressing crime.

“In Bangladesh, we have a big threat of extremism and transnational organized crime. These groups are very strong. There are issues of illegal drug and arms trade, human trafficking…The criminals are being captured through mobile tracking technology,” he said.

“So far, we haven’t received any information that these devices are being used against the opposition party. The purchase of the devices doesn’t necessarily mean that these devices are already in operation…We will watch whether these devices are used against the constitutional rights of the people.”

The monitoring of communication by intelligence is an increasing worry in Bangladeshi civil society.

Prominent rights activist Mohammed Nur Khan told Arab News it has been happening for quite some time. The purchase of Israeli spyware only rendered it further problematic.

Source: Arab News

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Islamic State claims Tajik behind attack on Chinese in Kabul

Lucas Webber

Jan 11, 2023

Last month, in the weeks following an assault at a Kabul hotel frequented by Chinese businesspeople, Islamic State militants were tightlipped. While celebrating – and exaggerating – the destruction, the group’s propagandists said little about the attackers who gravely injured five Chinese nationals, killed several Afghan security officers, and prompted Beijing to ask its citizens to leave the country.

Now Islamic State says the bombing and shootout were co-led by a Tajik man who managed to escape and go on to kill several Taliban in a suicide bombing at a Kabul airport checkpoint on January 1.

In the wake of the December 12 attack on Kabul Longan Hotel, IS Telegram channels featured chatter about the involvement of Central Asian jihadists. But nothing was confirmed until January 5, when IS’s official weekly newsletter, al-Naba, announced that the attacker was a man named Abdul Jabbar. Jabbar, it said, was born to a wealthy family in Tajikistan, though he grew up largely abroad; it did not say where. Al-Naba featured a photo of Jabbar on the cover and a two-page article celebrating his martyrdom. Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), the group’s Afghanistan and Pakistan branch, this week promised to release a video praising the men and criticizing the Taliban for its warm relations with China.

Jabbar’s Tajik background is yet another indicator of ISKP’s push to build support in post-Soviet Central Asia. Over the past year, the Kabul region has been a hotspot for Islamic State cells involving Tajik militants, and Jabbar joins the growing list of “martyrs” from Tajikistan extolled by ISKP as examples to follow.

The June 2022 attack on a Sikh temple in Kabul was conducted by Tajikistan-born Abu Muhammad al-Tajiki, ISKP claimed with glowing profiles in its magazines. Al-Tajiki was described as a jack of all trades in Kabul: running a suicide bomber training cell, overseeing ISKP’s Tajik media wing, writing books, articles and magazines.

The newly prominent role of Central Asian militants coincides with increasing propaganda in the Tajik and Uzbek languages, which ISKP uses to amplify ideologues from Central Asia and spread its message there. In late November ISKP published a biography on the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan-turned-ISKP cleric Asadullah al-Urgenchi (“from Urgench” in Uzbekistan’s Khorezm province). Urgenchi, who probably died in 2015, remains a potent influence among ISKP’s Central Asian sympathizers; the profile saluted the role Uzbeks have played in contributing to the movement.

Beyond propaganda, ISKP has been waging a multi-pronged effort to expand north of the Amu Darya river, with recruitment, fundraising and violence – notably with rocket attacks on border regions of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan last spring.

Islamic State grievances against China pre-date the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in 2021. IS and the Taliban were sworn enemies as far back as 2015. Later, as global powers, including China, began to negotiate with Taliban leaders in the waning days of the Islamic Republic, IS saw an opportunity to highlight China’s abuse of its own Muslims and poison the friendship.

Now that the Taliban is in control, and China one of the few powers willing to do business in Afghanistan, Chinese interests have become a target for militants wishing to spoil Taliban attempts to build a functioning state.

After the hotel attack, as is typical, Islamic State boasted an exaggerated death toll and defended its wrath. Al-Naba lamented that though Muslims worldwide are distraught over Beijing’s treatment of its Muslims in Xinjiang, “sadly these campaigns were no more than words and images.” In contrast, Islamic State “sought fastidiously to put its threats towards China into action on the ground […] initiating the journey of vengeance.”

This all makes China’s plans to develop oilfields in several northern Afghan provinces, announced by a Taliban official on January 5, a possible target. Though China has not formally recognized the Taliban government, Xinjiang Central Asia Petroleum and Gas is reportedly planning to spend $540 million over three years as part of a 25-year extraction deal, the first between the Taliban and a foreign company.

ISKP’s Uzbek-language Tawhid News has already threatened attacks on Belt and Road infrastructure and gas pipelines running toward China.

The oilfields “will add to existing security problems in northern Afghanistan by attracting militants who want to target Chinese interests,” regional expert Bruce Pannier wrote on January 10. “The Chinese-backed oil project in northern Afghanistan would be a magnet for ISKP militants,” and thus a headache for Central Asian governments, he added.

Source: Eurasia Net

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Biswa Ijtema: World's second-largest Muslim gathering begins

13 January, 2023

The first phase of the three-day Biswa Ijtema, billed as the second largest congregation of Muslims after Hajj, began Friday morning on the bank of the River Turag river in Tongi after two years of Covid-induced hiatus.

The 56th edition of the annual Biswa Ijtema (World Congregation) began with the a'mbayan (general sermons) of Pakistani Islamic scholar Maulana Ziaul Haque after Fajr prayers.

Thousands of devotees from home and abroad – including India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Syria, Chad, Tajikistan Turkey, Afghanistan, Palestine, the UK, and the US – thronged the bank of Turag to listen to scholars reciting and explaining verses from the Quran and to renew their commitment to Islamic values.

In the afternoon, the country's largest Jumah prayers, led by Maulana Hafez Zobair Ahmad, leader of a faction of Tabligh Jamaat, will be held at Ijtema ground.

Gazipur Metropolitan Police Commissioner Mollah Nazrul Islam said additional police personnel have been deployed in and around the Ijtema venue to ensure the security of the devotees. The venue has been brought under closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera surveillance.

Also, the government set up health camps for the devotees to provide them with treatment like the previous years.

Meanwhile, another devotee died today at the Ijtema venue due to complications of old age. On Thursday, two devotees died from cold-related illness.

The first phase of Ijtema will end Sunday with Akheri Munajat (final prayers).

Tabligh Jamaat has been organising the congregation at the venue since 1967.

Source: TBS News

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UNSC unity key in wake of women's rights violations by Taliban: UN aide

January 14, 2023

A top UN aide for Afghanistan has called for a unified response in wake of Taliban policies violating the human rights of Afghan women and girls.

On Friday, the UN's Special Representative for Afghanistan Roza Otunbayeva addressed the Security Council in a private session, UN News reported. Otunbayeva said the UN Security Council must be unified in opposing policies against women and girls in Afghanistan.

"The Special Representative also outlined the potential negative impact of such decisions, including, most immediately, on the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Afghans in desperate need. She stressed the need for Council unity in the face of these decisions," said Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, during a press briefing on Friday.

Speaking at a private meeting, Roza Otunbayeva reiterated to ambassadors that Taliban decisions including the ban on girls attending high school, preventing women from going to university, and barring them from doing humanitarian work, are all "grave violations of fundamental rights."

UN Spokesperson Dujarric told reporters at the briefing in New York that the Taliban had also "contradicted assurances" given, following their nationwide takeover of Afghanistan, about the role women would play in the country under their fundamentalist rule.

"The Special Representative also outlined the potential negative impact of such decisions, including, most immediately, on the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Afghans in desperate need," said Dujarric. "She stressed the need for Council unity in the face of these decisions."

After the Taliban banned women from working for non-governmental organisations or other aid sector jobs last month, several NGOs suspended their lifesaving operations, stating that it would be impossible to distribute aid and staff operations, without local women's participation.

Source: Business Standard

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Ruling coalition to hold formal consultations over evolving political situation

January 13, 2023

LAHORE: In wake of the evolving political situation and developments taking place, the ruling alliance of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) has convened an emergency session to discuss and evolve a joint strategy to deal with the situation emerging out of the dissolution of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) assemblies.

The agreement of the ruling alliance comes after Punjab Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi on Thursday night sent an advice to Governor Balighur Rehman to dissolve the provincial assembly, fulfilling the promise to PTI Chairman Imran Khan and paving the way for fresh elections.

Sources in the ruling coalition informed Pakistan Today that the top leaders of the ruling alliance also remained in touch for the past 24 hours and have been resolute in their resolve not to dissolve the National Assembly under pressure from Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

The PDM leaders including PML-N President and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, PPP Co-Chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari and Jamiat Ulema-e- Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman have been in touch over the past 24 hours.

“Though the time and venue for the emergency meeting of the ruling coalition leaders is yet to be decided, it has been decided to meet at the earliest. Most probably, the meeting would take place in Lahore over the weekend,” a source told this scribe.

The PTI leadership is also to determine how the parties will participate in the elections should the dissolution of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) provincial assemblies trigger early polls.

The sources say that the PDM leaders will also decide if a legal battle on the matter should be pursued. While legal experts are being consulted, Asif Ali Zardari has pushed for a “political solution” to the matter at hand.

Furthermore, the leaders have also expressed determination to remove all reservations expressed by the MQM-P. It has also been confirmed that the provincial assemblies of Sindh and Balochistan are not to be dissolved as of yet. Important decisions are expected after the consultations are completed.

The PDM nonetheless remains resolute that general elections will be held as per schedule, revealed the sources.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan has emerged victorious as Punjab CM Elahi has signed a summary for the dissolution of the provincial assembly as per his desire.

Despite strong pressure and other tactics, the PML-N-led federal government along with the ‘powerful circles’ were unable to refrain Elahi from taking a vote of confidence in the Punjab Assembly.

It has been learnt that Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman had considered the situation after Elahi taking a vote of confidence. It was decided that the governor would accept the CM’s vote of confidence to avoid any judicial verdict, which might have curtailed his constitutional powers.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Pakistan ‘looking into’ indecent behaviour charge at mission staffers

Jan 14, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad has said it is “looking into” allegations by an Indian woman educationist of indecent behaviour and sexual advances by some senior staffers of the Pakistan high commission in Delhi when she went there to apply for a visa.

“We attach high importance to proper etiquette and behaviour towards all visa and consular applicants. All our diplomatic staff are under strict instructions to conduct themselves professionally,” foreign office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said Thursday.

The alleged incident reportedly took place in March 2022. “While we are looking into this case, we are surprised at its timing and the manner in which it has been raised,” Baloch said.

The spokesperson stressed that there is “zero tolerance for misbehaviour and mistreatment of individuals visiting our missions”. “There are robust mechanisms in place for redress of all public grievances,” she added.

The senior professor and head of a university department alleged in her complaint to foreign minister S Jaishankar that a Pakistani mission official held her hand and asked her if she was married. She also alleged the staffer told her that “they can marry four times, if bored”.

“He asked me why I wasn’t married; how do I live without marriage? What do I do for my sexual desires?”she said in her complaint.

Source: Times Of India

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Pakistan: Why CPEC projects are facing backlash in Balochistan

Jan 13, 2023

NEW DELHI: Gwadar in Balochistan was promised more than just a facelift- from a small fishing port to a glittering modern metropolis- when the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was announced in 2015.

Close to a decade later, it all remains a pipedream. Unsound planning, faulty assessments of potential and a plethora of other impediments have plagued the projects from the very beginning.

But the biggest of them all- what Pakistan and the Chinese investors did not expect- is the resentment and subsequent pushback from the local Baloch population.

The winter 2022 protests

The CPEC has galvanized Gwadar and its people like never before. The "Haq Do Tehreek" (Gwadar Rights Movement) demonstrations in Nov-Dec was the latest outburst of Balochi resentment against the China-backed CPEC, and also the Pakistani state at large.

Led by Maulana Hidayat-ur-Rehman, thousands decsended on to the streets in Gwadar. They blocked an expressway leading to the Gwadar port as the government failed to meet the deadline to implement the demands- abolition of checkpoints, action against illegal trawling and easing border trade with Iran.

On December 10, thousands of women, and even children, rallied in Gwadar in support of Rehman- a first for the conservative region.

Rehman issued a warning to Chinese nationals working in Gwadar port to leave, vowing to completely stop work on all CPEC projects in the city.

The government tried to contain the situation with force, not sparing even women and children. Videos of children being dragged and beaten by forces went viral on social media.

"One of the successes of the Haq Do Tehreek has been the mobilization of women. In an otherwise conservative society where women are confined to their homes, the Haq Do Tehreek has managed to encourage women to participate and lead the protests for their rights," says an article published in The Diplomat.

But why are big-ticket investments, touted as harbingers of development and prosperity for the region, meeting with such resistance?

Local interests ignored

CPEC and other projects in Gwadar was majorly envisaged to serve Chinse interests. The locals were largely forgotten. The windfall infrastructure boom did little to improve their lives, and robbed many of livelihoods.

Much of Gwadar's population depended on fishing for a living. But Pakistan has given licences to Chinese trawlers to fish in the waters off the coast.

Locals, with their small boats, are unable to compete with better equipped Chinese boats, thus unable to net much of the catch. They are also required to have tokens and being allocated fixed times for when they can venture to the sea for fishing.

Clamp-down on the informal cross-border trade with Iran, with which Balochistan shares a long border, has also adversely affected local livelihoods.

They also fear an exploitation of the region's natural resources like oil and gas to benefit Chinese companies and people from other regions of Pakistan.

Development sans humane face

Newly built roads and highways, a modern port and a swanky airport are being showcased as the faces of development in the Gwadar region.

But that does little to mask the hard reality behind the facade.

About 100,000 people don’t have access to clean drinking water in Gwadar port town, according to The Diplomat article. There is lack of proper health facility and reliable power supply.

'Outsiders in their own land'

Secessionist feelings and a strong resentment for the regime in Islamabad have long thrived in Balochistan.

The Pakistani government, with its undercurrent of mistrust of the locals, has unleashed a regimen of vigilantism- presumably to ensure security of the China-backed projects. Security in Gwadar town has been beefed up, and it now resembles a military cantonment.

The article quotes Behram Baloch, a journalist and analyst from Gwadar as saying “The refrain "Kaha ja rahe ho? Kaha se aa rahe ho?” (Where are you going? Where are you coming from?) symbolizes the constant surveillance that the people were under within their own city, being questioned at security checkpoints.”

With their interests forgotten, and at times free movement challenged, residents of Gwadar feel they are being turned into outsiders in their own land.

They are apprehensive about the demographic change that could turn the Baloch into a minority in their own province due to mass arrival of Chinese and people from elsewhere in Pakistan, particularly Punjab.

China growing apprehensive?

Gwadar could make China’s BRI successful in the region – but it could also prove disastrous if things do not proceed as planned. The reversals the projects have faced, and the protests have put doubts in the minds of the Chinese investors.

Lately, the CPEC projects have slowed down in Gwadar and elsewhere in Balochistan, and also in all of Pakistan.

Chinese firms face headwinds in Pakistan, adopt 'go slow' policy

Extremist groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Islamic State and Taliban affiliates including Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan have been active in Balochistan, and have carried out several attacks.

The unrest is directly threatening Chinese interests.

China has been pushing Pakistan to ensure a secure environment for implementing CPEC projects in Balochistan.

Source: Times Of India

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PDM leaders move to placate MQM-P after divorce threat

Naeem Khanzada


The senior-most leadership of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) contacted Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) Convenor Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui on Friday after the latter threatened to part ways with the ruling coalition over local bodies elections in Karachi.

The MQM-P convened a meeting of the party’s Coordination Committee, where a majority of members suggested quitting the government if the local bodies elections were not postponed, sources said, adding that the party’s federal ministers handed their resignations to Siddiqui.

The MQM-P wants the local government elections on the basis of “correctly-demarcated constituencies”. The local bodies elections are due on Sunday (tomorrow) and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has declined Sindh government’s request for postponing the vote.

Soon after the MQM-P said it was considering quitting the coalition, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif contacted Siddiqui and assured him of “positive progress” on his demands. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Zardari and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman also spoke with Siddiqui.

According to sources, the political leaders assured Siddiqui of headway on the MQM-P’s demands. “The prime minister promised to resolve the issues by late night and give him good news,” a source privy to the development told The Express Tribune.

Read MQM-P reunifies breakaway factions ahead of LG polls

Meanwhile, hectic consultations were under way till late night following the MQM-P’s threat of divorcing the ruling coalition. The senior MQM-P leaders reached Governor House late at night, while the Sindh government also convened an important meeting at the Chief Minister House.

According to the sources, senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Ayaz Sadiq also contacted Siddiqui and assured him of the resolution of their issues. Till late night, no decision had been taken regarding the local elections.

Source: Tribune Pakistan

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Police officer among 3 martyred in late-night attack on police station in Peshawar

Tahir Khan

January 14, 2023

A senior police officer and two of his guards lost their lives giving chase to militants who staged a late-night attack on a police station on the outskirts of Peshawar, a senior official said on Saturday.

Senior Superintendent Police Operations Peshawar Kashif Abbasi told that Deputy Superintendent Police Sardar Hussain and his two police guards lost their lives in an exchange fire with terrorists in the Badhabir area.

The two martyred policemen were identified as Irshad and Jehanzeb.

Abbasi told reporters that the terrorists attacked Sarband police station at about midnight. Sarband is located near the Bara area of Khyber tribal district.

It was coordinated from multiple directions and the [terrorists] used multiple weapons. They lobbed hand grenades and resorted to sniper shots and automatic guns,” he said.

The Peshawar police successfully repelled the attack, he added.

Abbasi said the slain police officer chased the fleeing terrorists and tried to encircle them but during an ensuing exchange of fire, he and two other policemen lost their lives.

The gunmen then took advantage of the darkness and fled.

Police said a search operation was launched in Sarband and nearby areas following the attack. It resumed on Saturday morning. No arrest was made so far.

Abbasi said the gunmen had come from the Khyber Tribal district bordering Afghanistan.

A funeral was held for the martyred police officials in Peshawar on Saturday that was attended by senior police and military officials.

Meanwhile, the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed the attack on Sarband police station.

Source: Dawn

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Pakistan, UAE agree to deepen strategic partnership, cooperation in diverse areas

January 14, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates have agreed to intensify consultation and coordination, geared to strengthening strategic partnership with a view to develop tangible and meaningful bilateral cooperation in key areas.

The bilateral ties were discussed during Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s interaction with the UAE leadership as the former paid an official visit to the Emirates at the invitation of President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on January 12-13. This was the prime minister’s third visit after assuming office, according to a joint statement issued on Friday.

During the interaction, the two sides agreed to enhance cooperation, particularly in the field of information and communication technologies and work together for bridging the digital divide.

The prime minister held a bilateral meeting with the UAE president wherein the prime minister was presented with a guard of honor at the Presidential Palace.

In the “most warm and cordial” meeting, the two leaders held detailed discussions on concrete measures to strengthen the bilateral relationship while also exchanging views on regional political and security matters.

They also discussed specific initiative to enhance cooperation in political, defense, economic, commercial and cultural areas, developing joint ventures, and strengthening collaboration in the human resource sector.

The prime minister thanked Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for UAE’s generous assistance during the recent floods in Pakistan, particularly through an air bridge, established for this purpose.

Pakistan and the UAE reaffirmed their historical and brotherly ties, rooted in shared religion, culture, values, and pursuit of regional and global peace and security. Both sides expressed satisfaction at the convergence of views on a host of regional and global issues.

Based on their decades-old fraternal ties, both countries expressed solidarity with each other in efforts to preserve their sovereignty and territorial integrity.

With a view to developing tangible and meaningful bilateral cooperation in key areas, the two countries agreed to intensify consultations and coordination in order to strengthen their strategic partnership.

The two sides signed Memoranda of Understanding in the field of combating human trafficking, information exchange, and between the diplomatic academies of both countries.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif invited Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to visit Pakistan at a later date, and the invitation was accepted by the UAE leadership.

PM, UAE’s Minister for Tolerance discuss bilateral ties

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif met United Arab Emirates’ Minister for Tolerance Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan and discussed strengthening relations and ties between the two countries.

The discussions regarding the UAE’s investment in Pakistan in various sectors also came under discussion. Sheikh Nahyan apprised the prime minister about his government’s efforts towards promoting values of tolerance and peaceful co-existence around the world.

He lauded the dedication and hard work of the Pakistani community which was significantly contributing towards the development of the UAE.

PM Shehbaz Sharif lauded the historical ties between Pakistan and UAE and reaffirmed his government’s commitment to further strengthen existing bilateral engagements with the UAE in multiple fields including trade, investment, energy, culture and tourism.

Abu Dhabi Chamber encouraged to avail “excellent” business opportunities

Earlier, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif urged the members of the Abu Dhabi Chamber to visit Pakistan and experience the “excellent” opportunities of growing their business.

The prime minister, in a meeting with a delegation of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce during his two-day visit to the UAE, said that bilateral trade between Pakistan and the UAE had grown significantly in recent times.

The delegation was headed by Chairman of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce Abdullah Mohamed Al Mazrouei.

Talking to the delegation, the prime minister said that the Abu Dhabi Chamber which also consisted of Pakistani members had played an important role in the economic development of the UAE.

He expressed the pleasure that one of the Pakistani businessmen had been a board member of the Abu Dhabi Chamber which was an indication of the fact Pakistani community was playing important role in the development of the UAE.

Prime Minister Sharif said that the vision and wisdom of its leadership had enabled the UAE to become an economic and tourism hub within a short span of time.

He said Pakistan gave importance to its relationship with the UAE which was based on common faith, shared history, and people-to-people contacts.

“We consider the UAE an important strategic and economic partner for being located in the neighborhood, playing an important role in ensuring peace, stability, and economic development in the region and having potential for joint socio-economic development,” the prime minister remarked.

He stressed the need to enhance chamber-to-chamber cooperation and urged the Pakistani chambers to reach out to the Abu Dhabi Chamber and develop new linkages.

Prime Minister Shehbaz said that sending a skilled workforce to the UAE was one of the top priorities of his government.

The members of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce showed interest in doing business and investing in Pakistan.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Arab World


UAE’s Rashid Rover, first Arab Moon mission, marks one month in space

13 January ,2023

The Rashid Rover, the Arab region’s first mission to the Moon, has traveled 1.34 million kilometers and completed one month in space.

The rover was built in the UAE by a fully Emirati team at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), which announced the latest milestone on Friday.

The rover was sent to space from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on December 11 in SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

The mission team has reportedly completed all health assessments and maintenance checks to ensure the optimal functioning of its onboard subsystems and instruments.

The team on Earth is now communicating with it once every week, the Emirates News Agency WAM reported.

Currently, the team is preparing for the entry, descent, and landing phase prior to the start of surface operations. It is expected to land towards the end of April this year to an unexplored part of the Moon.

Before the landing, the team will reportedly prepare by participating in 12 simulated rehearsals at the ground stations.

On the Moon’s surface, the rover will conduct scientific tests that is expected to contribute to qualitative developments in the fields of science, communication technologies, and robotics.

The primary goal of the mission is to study the Moon’s plasma and to provide answers about Moon dust, the lunar surface, mobility on the Moon’s surface, and how different surfaces interact with lunar particles.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi team wins innovation award with sensor to protect date palms from pests


January 13, 2023

JEDDAH: A team from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and Al-Hasa-based Palms and Dates Center has been awarded the 2022 International Date Palm Innovative Technology Excellence Prize.

Presented by the National Center for Palm and Dates, the award was made in recognition of the team’s fiber-optic distributed acoustic sensor, which is used in the early detection of red palm weevils in date palm trees.

Tackling infestations of red palm weevils has been a long-standing problem across the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Europe and other parts of the world.

The winning team comprised Dr. Islam Ashry, Dr. Chun Hong Kang and Prof. Boon S. Ooi from the KAUST Photonics Laboratory and Dr. Yousef Alfehaid and Eng. Abdulmonem Alshawaf from the PDC, which operates under the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture.

As well as the prestige, the team collected SR200,000 ($53,000) in prize money. The award was announced at the 3rd International Dates Conference and Exhibition, which ran from Dec. 7-10 in Riyadh. Their design beat off the challenge of 65 other submissions for the prize.

Ashry said the team was honored to have won such a prestigious award and paid tribute to his colleagues at the Photonics Laboratory and the PDC who helped in the development, testing and deployment of the technology.

“This recognition motivates us to continue improving, optimizing and advancing this technology to a new level,” he said.

According to the NCPD, the event provided “a unique combination of scientific research and commercial strategy to exchange scientific knowledge and innovative technologies to enhance the safe production and commercialization of these extraordinary super-fruits.”

The Kingdom is home to some 33 million date palm trees, producing about 1 million tons of dates a year, or 20 percent of global production. In the Middle East region alone about $8 million is spent every year fighting infestations of weevils.

“Our RPW-detecting technology uses a fiber-optic distributed acoustic sensor,” Ashry said. “It is the first of its kind and offers a more scalable approach (than) other detection methods, such as microphone probe, computer-based tomography and visual inspection.”

Kang said the team’s system used fiber-optic cables wound around individual tree trunks.

“Acoustic signals generated by the weevil larvae inside a trunk can be picked up by the cable and transmitted back to an interrogator system,” he said.

“The collected signals are then analyzed and processed through a machine learning algorithm to identify each tree’s infestation status.”

Ashry and Kang are now working with various organizations within the Kingdom, including the PDC, MEWA, NEOM, the Royal Commission for AlUla and the Tabuk Agricultural Development Co., on the deployment of their technology.

These test applications will help to improve the sensitivity of the sensor systems so they can be used on large-scale farms.

“Our research efforts align well with … Saudi Vision 2030 in terms of diversifying the economy, especially for the date palm sector,” Ashry said.

Source: Arab News

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Get your troops out of Syria, Assad tells Erdogan

January 14, 2023

JEDDAH: Bashar Assad on Friday broke his silence on Syria’s growing reconciliation with Turkiye by demanding that Ankara pull its troops out of Syria and end its support for opposition groups.

Syria and Turkiye have been at odds since Ankara became a major backer of the political and armed opposition to Assad during the 12-year civil war, and has sent its own forces into large parts of the north.

Russia is brokering a reconciliation between Damascus and Ankara. Moscow hosted talks between their defense ministers last month, and the aim is for meetings between the foreign ministers and eventually presidents Assad and Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Assad met Russian presidential envoy Alexander Lavrentiev in Damascus, and said talks with Turkiye should be based on the aims of “ending the occupation of Syrian land” and halting Turkish support for what he called terrorism. The meetings “should be coordinated between Syria and Russia in advance in order to... produce tangible results sought by Syria,” he said.

Foreign ministers Mevlut Cavusoglu and Faisal Mekdad are expected to meet early in February for the highest-level talks between Ankara and Damascus since the Syrian war began in 2011.

Source: Arab News

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Swedish PM denounces protest by Kurds in central Stockholm

January 13, 2023

ANKARA: Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson has denounced a protest by Kurds in central Stockholm, where an effigy of Turkiye’s president was hung from a lamppost, as an act of “sabotage” against Sweden’s bid to join NATO.

The protest outside City Hall on Wednesday drew an angry backlash from Turkiye, a NATO member which already had held off on approving Sweden’s application to become part of the Western military alliance until the government in Stockholm satisfies its demands.

The speaker of Turkiye’s parliament, Mustafa Sentop, canceled a visit by Andreas Norlen, the speaker of the Swedish parliament, that was scheduled for next Tuesday.

Turkish lawmakers need to ratify Sweden’s NATO application for the Nordic nation to become a member.

“I believe it is regrettable that the visit has been canceled,” Norlen told Swedish news agency TT.

Turkiye has made its approval conditional on Stockholm cracking down on exiled Kurdish militants and other groups that Ankara considers a threat to its national security.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the Swedish ambassador on Thursday over the Stockholm demonstration.

Kristersson condemned the incident involving the effigy of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

He told Swedish broadcaster TV4 on Friday that it was “extremely serious” to stage a “mock execution of a foreign democratically elected leader” in a country where two leading politicians have been killed. Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was assassinated in 1986 and Foreign Minister Anna Lindh was fatally stabbed in 2003.

“I would say this is sabotage against the Swedish NATO application,” Kristersson said.

“It is dangerous for Swedish security to act in this way.”

A group calling itself the Swedish Solidarity Committee for Rojava claimed it was behind the protest. Rojava is a Kurdish name for north and east Syria.

A man only identifying himself as Andreas told Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet that he was among those who put up the effigy “to create a reaction. To show that Turkiye is not a democracy. And we succeeded.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu described the protest as a racist act and a hate crime.

Sweden will  not be able to “get away” with a simple condemnation of the incident, he said.

“This action took place in the center of the city, right in front of the municipality, in front of everyone,” Cavusoglu said. “Sweden has a responsibility here.”

“Sweden and Finland made a commitment concerning what they can do and put their signature on it,” the minister said, in reference to a memorandum of understanding under which Sweden and Finland pledged among other things to crack down on the activities of militant groups.

“We want nothing more or nothing less. Whatever was agreed upon, we want that to be fulfilled.”

Earlier on Friday, Cavusoglu said the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and affiliated Kurdish groups in Syria were “laying mines on the path of Sweden’s NATO membership.”

“It is Sweden’s decision whether it wants to clear these mines or knowingly step on them,” he said in an interview with Turkish state-broadcaster, TRT.

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said the protest “now risks complicating and delaying the process that Sweden and its future NATO ally Turkiye have begun, working step by step to build faith in each other.”

“This act plays directly into the hands of Russia and weakens our country, and it happened during the most serious security situation since the Second World War,” the Swedish foreign minister said.

Alarmed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Sweden and Finland dropped their longstanding policies of military nonalignment and applied to join NATO in May.

All 30 member countries must agree to admit the two Nordic neighbors into the security organization.

The Turkish government has pressed Finland and Sweden to crack down on groups it considers to be terrorist organizations and to extradite people suspected of terror-related crimes.

Cavusoglu said last month that Sweden was not even “halfway” through addressing his country’s concerns.

Source: Arab News

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Assad says Turkiye talks must be based on ending ‘occupation’

January 13, 2023

BEIRUT: Syrian President Bashar Assad has said talks with foe Turkiye should be based on the aims of ending the occupation of Syrian land and halting support for what he called terrorism, an apparent reference to Ankara’s forces in northern Syria and its support for rebels.

In his first publicly reported remarks on landmark talks overseen by his ally Russia, Assad also said the meetings “should be coordinated between Syria and Russia in advance in order to... produce tangible results sought by Syria.”

Assad made the comments, reported by Syrian state media on Thursday, in a meeting with Russian presidential envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev in Damascus.

Turkiye has been a major backer of the political and armed opposition to Assad during the 12-year-long Syrian conflict, and has sent its own troops into swathes of the country’s north.

Moscow is supporting a rapprochement between Damascus and Ankara, hosting talks between their defense ministers last month and aiming for meetings between the foreign ministers and eventually presidents.

Lavrentiev said Moscow viewed the defense ministers’ meeting “positively” and hoped to develop talks “to the level of foreign ministers,” Syrian state news agency SANA reported.

Assad said the results should be based on the principle of “ending” the occupation and support for terrorism, a term that Syrian authorities use to refer to all opposition armed groups.

A source with close knowledge of the negotiations said Syria wanted Turkiye to pull its troops from swathes of the north and to halt support to three main opposition factions.

The source said Syria was keen to see progress on those demands through follow-up committees before agreeing to a foreign ministers’ meeting.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday he could meet his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad early in February, rejecting reports that the two could meet next week.

Syria has made no official comment on the timing of such a meeting, which would mark the highest-level talks between Ankara and Damascus since the Syrian war began in 2011.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Friday his country — Assad’s other main ally — was “happy with the dialogue taking place between Syria and Turkiye.”

Source: Arab News

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Iran glad to see rapprochement between Turkey and Syria: FM

13 January ,2023

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Friday his country was glad to see a rapprochement between its ally Syria and Turkey, which has backed the political and armed opposition to Damascus over the last decade.

“We are happy with the dialogue taking place between Syria and Turkey, and we believe that it will reflect positively between the two countries,” said Amirabdollahian, during a diplomatic visit to the Lebanese capital Beirut.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday that he could meet his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad early in February.

Such a meeting would mark the highest-level talks between Ankara and Damascus since the Syrian war began in 2011 and signal a further thaw in ties.

The Turkish and Syrian defense ministers held landmark talks in Moscow last month to discuss border security and other issues.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Nigeria Decides: Say no to APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket of slavery – Suswam tells Benue people

13th January 2023

Senator representing Benue North-East Senatorial District, Gabriel Suswam, has advised Benue people to reject the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the All Progressives Congress, (APC), as the country goes into the general elections.

Suswam who gave the advise in Lessel, Ushongo Local Government Area (LGA) of the state on Friday, during the state wide campaign of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said Muslim Muslim ticket will enslave Benue and Nigeria as a whole.

The former state Governor who noted that it was risky to embark on such a venture, said even the Constitution of Nigeria recognizes Nigeria as a secular state that should abide by certain principles.

He stated that the APC was laden with candidates who disappear from the state after elections and reappear after another four years to canvass for votes urging the people to say no to the party.

Rather Suswam said “You should vote all candidates of the PDP. The other political party (APC) that has brought about a Muslim-Muslim ticket, intends to enslave you.

“Our Constitution recognises Nigeria as a secular state and if you look at the history of our country, when Obasanjo became President, he brought a Muslim as Vice President (Atiku Abubakar); when Yar’adua, a Muslim became President, he brought in a Christian, Goodluck Jonathan, and when Jonathan became President, he brought in a Muslim as Vice President.”

“Those that lie and come only come to you during an electioneering year. So, I’m advising you to reject this Muslim-Muslim ticket in its entirety and vote PDP.”

Speaking at the rally, Governor Samuel Ortom charged the people to beware of the APC saying they are bent on misinforming the public that the Tiv people were the ones killing themselves and not herdsmen.

The Governor appreciates the Benue people, especially the youths for accepting to work with him to end the worrisome challenges facing the state.

He urgedbthe m to sustain and extend the support to ensure that Uba and all other candidates of the party win their elections.

The PDP governorship candidate, Mr Titus Uba, thanked Governor Ortom and Senator Suswam for their leadership disposition and for presenting him to the people of the state.

Uba told the people of Ushongo that he was aware of their challenges as a people and pledged to tackle those issues headlong when he is elected governor in the forthcoming elections.
Source: Sun News Online

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Panic in Ilorin over rumoured abduction of popular Muslim Cleric Mohammadu Buhari

January 13, 2023

By Abdulrazaq Adebayo

There was panic in Ilorin, Kwara State capital early hours of Friday over the rumoured abduction of an Ilorin-based Muslim Cleric, identified as Mohammadu Buhari Jamiu.

A video clip with the inscription of ‘Buhari Omo Musa in the background, now viral reportedly claimed he was abducted at his residence in Ilorin early hours of Friday.

Findings by DAILY POST, however, revealed that the real popular and prolific preacher, Buhari Omomusa is safe, hale and hearty contrary to speculation that he had been kidnapped.

The voice of the alleged abducted cleric’s wife could be heard in the background of the video clip which has gone viral requesting assistance to enable the family to pay the N5m ransom demanded by the unknown kidnappers.

Another male voice from the video clip gave the impression that the unknown kidnappers allegedly demanded N30m ransom but was scaled down to N5m after negotiations.

The kidnap incident threw fans of Buhari Omomusa into confusion as they expressed concern and prayed for his safe release from the abductors.

While some members of the public view the development as a case of mistaken identity resulting from identical names, others described it as a scam designed to swindle the public and government.

Reacting on the radio channel, Buhari Omomusa debunked the report saying he is safe and that no kidnap incident happened to him.

When contacted on phone on Friday, the spokesman of the state

Police Command, SP Okasanmi Ajayi, described the video clip as fake.

He said “The Alhaji Tunde Buhari that was kidnapped in Oluwalose Community in Oko-Olowo area of Ilorin, had been rescued and made public.

“Even the second victim kidnapped alongside Tunde Buhari has also been rescued,” he added.

Source: Daily Post Nigeria

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Somali leader urges people to flush out Al-Shabab ‘bedbugs’

January 14, 2023

MOGADISHU: Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud called Thursday on ordinary people to help flush out members of the Al-Shabab jihadist group he described as “bedbugs.”

Mohamud was addressing large crowds at a government-organized rally against the Al-Qaeda-linked militants held at a stadium in the capital Mogadishu under tight security.

“I’m calling to you, the people of Mogadishu, the kharijites (renegades) are among you... so flush them out. They are in your houses, they are your neighbors, in cars that pass you by,” he said.

“I want us to commit today to flushing them out, they are like bedbugs under our clothes,” he added, as demonstrators waved flags and placards with anti-Al-Shabab messages.

Al-Shabab has been waging a bloody insurgency against the frail internationally-backed central government for 15 years, carrying out attacks both in Somalia and neighboring countries which sent troops to help in the fight against the militants.

“The people are tired of massacres, killings, and all kinds of misdeeds and they are now saying to Al-Shabab: ‘Enough is enough’,” Mohamud said.

The president declared “all-out” war against Islamist fighters shortly after he came to office in May last year.

In recent months, the army and local clan militias have retaken swathes of territory in the center of the country in an operation backed by US air strikes and an African Union force.

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.

Source: Arab News

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Top commander of Daesh/ISIS terror group killed in Somalia's Puntland

Mohammed Dhaysane 



A senior commander of the Daesh/ISIS terrorist group was killed in a clash with security forces in Somalia’s semiautonomous Puntland region, authorities said on Friday.

Abu-Albara al-Amani was killed as forces repulsed a Daesh/ISIS attack on a military base in Puntland’s Bari region late on Thursday, according to a police statement.

He was the terrorist group’s head of operations in Somalia since July 11, 2021, the statement said.

He hailed from Ethiopia’s Amhara region and “was responsible for forcing many Ethiopians to join the terrorist group,” it added.

Daesh/ISIS, known to be active in Somalia’s mountainous Bari region, has claimed responsibility for several attacks in the Horn of Africa nation.

Late last year, the US imposed sanctions targeting Daesh/ISIS in Somalia and other terrorists it accused of being involved in a “terrorist weapons trafficking network” in Eastern Africa.

In 2018, the US State Department placed Daesh/ISIS in Somalia on its Specially Designated Global Terrorist list.

Somalia has been plagued by insecurity for years, with al-Shabaab and Daesh/ISIS being among the main threats.

The UN has warned of growing instability in the country, issuing periodic reports last year that detailed attacks by al-Shabaab and pro-Daesh/ISIS terror groups.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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