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Islamic World News ( 6 May 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Mosques Across Delhi, Including Jama Masjid, Dargah Hazrat Nizamuddin, Shahi Kalan Masjid And Mufti Masjid, Daryaganj Join Initiative For A Clean Yamuna

New Age Islam News Bureau

06 May 2023

 

During the latest meeting, L-G House sources said, Bukhari volunteered to do his bit to make efforts towards the rejuvenation of the river in response to which Saxena requested him to help sensitise citizens in this regard. (Express Photo)

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India

Will Show 'The Kerala Story' To 100 Girls to Save Them from 'Love Jihad': UP BJP Leader

Jammu: Dormitory Renamed with Hindu Deity’s Name, Replacing Muslim Saint’s Name

AMU Students Protest Against Grand Mufti of Egyptover Its Foreign Policy towards Israel

J&K: Shia community protests over targets being given to teachers in Pakistan

Security tightened in Tamil Nadu as Muslim outfit protests against release of ‘The Kerala Story’

"Not All Muslims Are Terrorists": Congress MP Slams PM's 'The Kerala Story' Remark

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Arab World

Saudi Arabia to Close Renowned Arabic and Islam-Focused London SchoolKing Fahad Academy

Teachers enrol in musical training programs to revive school performances

Saudi FM, Blinken discuss initiative to host Sudan warring parties in Jeddah

Saudi Arabia’s CST, ITU discuss how metaverse technologies can help achieve sustainable development

SFDA trains quality assessors on ICH quality guidelines

UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia sees coronation as an opportunity for the British to see their history come to life

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Africa

Islam Prioritises a Safe and Healthy Working Environment

Mayor Allah-Jabu bans manual revenue collection

Sudan: Frighteningly large number of children killed- UN

Kenya: King Charles' III coronation divides

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Europe

Leamington Muslims to pray for king and country in Coronation celebrations

Westminster's first Muslim Lord Mayor praises King Charles III for his 'diversifying role'

King Charles' coronation to blend ancient ritual with modern Britain

UK PM Rishi Sunak hails multi-faith Coronation as 'moment of national pride'

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Pakistan

Constitution of 1973 Conforms To Injunctions of Islam: Punjab Governor

Pakistan against ‘arbitrary’ changes to Security Council

PM Shehbaz calls for revival of 'Commonwealth of Nations'

No dialogue with India till review of unilateral actions of Aug 5: FM

7 teachers among 8 killed in school shootingin northwestern Pakistan

BJP’s propaganda of Muslims being terrorists is negated, says Bilawal on return from India

Toshakhana case: IHC declares NAB notices to Imran, Bushra Bibi illegal

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South Asia

Interior Minister Haqqani: Our Behaviour Should Not Be Such That People Hate Islam

UK PMRishi Sunak Admires Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina as A 'Role Model', Source Of Inspiration

US State Dept Spokesperson's Remarks on Recognition of Islamic Emirate

Participants of SCO Meeting Urge Kabul to Ensure Inclusive Govt

Work Suspension Ends for Afghan UN Employees in Country

Afghan Delegation Leaves for Iran to Participate in 5G Summit

China Calls Pakistan to Coordinate in Rebuilding Afghanistan

Over 170 Retribution Verdicts Issued in Afghanistan: IEA Supreme Court

'China mediating between Bangladesh, Myanmar'

Dhaka-London sign pact to develop Bangladesh's aviation sector

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Southeast Asia

Indonesian Officials Work to Rescue 20 Trafficking Victims In Myanmar

Cops Arrest Woman, 34, For Allegedly Uploading Seditious Video Against Perak Sultan

AsyrafWajdi: Support of 148 MPs for unity government still intact

Indonesia’s economy beats forecasts on consumer, gov’t spending

Indonesia quietly engaging key stakeholders in Myanmar crisis – foreign minister

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Mideast

Iranian Sunni Cleric Rebukes Islamic Republic for Execution ofBaluch Minorities

Israel Requests Saudi Allow Direct Hajj Flights for Its Muslim Palestinian Citizens

Iran and Syria vow to strengthen ties as Raisi wraps up Damascus visit

NGO: Israel closes prison sections of Islamic Jihad detainees

Coalition likely to okay nationalist Flag March through Muslim Quarter – official

Iran expels four Azerbaijani diplomats in ‘retaliatory’ response

Iran hangs Iranian-Swedish man over 2018 attack killing 25

Iran protests: Football star Ali Karimi under travel ban, leaked papers show

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North America

Atty. Gen. Bonta Promises San Diego Arabs and Muslims He Will Fight Hate Crime

Islamist anti-Semitism is flying under the Jewish communal radar

Muslims in the White House: Cosying up or making a difference?

Jackie Little Faces Federal Hate Crime Charge In 2 Mosque Fires

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/mosques-delhi-yamuna-hazrat-masjid-/d/129719

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Mosques Across Delhi, Including Jama Masjid, Dargah Hazrat Nizamuddin, Shahi Kalan Masjid And Mufti Masjid, Daryaganj Join Initiative For A Clean Yamuna

 

During the latest meeting, L-G House sources said, Bukhari volunteered to do his bit to make efforts towards the rejuvenation of the river in response to which Saxena requested him to help sensitise citizens in this regard. (Express Photo)

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Written by Jatin Anand

New Delhi | May 6, 2023

Around a dozen prominent mosques across Delhi, including Jama Masjid, Dargah Hazrat Nizamuddin Shahi Kalan Masjid and Mufti NisarBadwali Masjid, Daryaganj, were part of the initiative. More are expected to follow suit over the coming days, according to sources.

Written by Jatin Anand

May 6, 2023

clean Yamuna, Delhi mosques, delhimuslims initiative, delhilg, Delhi MCD, indian express, indian express newsDuring the latest meeting, L-G House sources said, Bukhari volunteered to do his bit to make efforts towards the rejuvenation of the river in response to which Saxena requested him to help sensitise citizens in this regard. (Express Photo)

As faithfuls gathered at the city’s historic Jama Masjid on Friday afternoon, they were greeted with a unique message on the public address system.

“After a very long time, the government has taken swift steps towards cleaning the Yamuna river. For this task, not just the government’s but the people’s efforts too are required,” stated the appeal from the loudspeaker as prominent mosques began a public sensitisation campaign aimed at promoting the cause of a cleaner Yamuna among the city’s Muslim population.

The initiative comes in the wake of a meeting between the Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, Ahmed Bukhari, and Lieutenant Governor (L-G) Vinai Kumar Saxena over the issue earlier this week, and follows a similar meeting the latter held with city’s priests last month.

During the latest meeting, L-G House sources said, Bukhari volunteered to do his bit to make efforts towards the rejuvenation of the river in response to which Saxena requested him to help sensitise citizens in this regard.

Around a dozen prominent mosques across Delhi, including Jama Masjid, Dargah Hazrat Nizamuddin Shahi Kalan Masjid and Mufti NisarBadwali Masjid, Daryaganj, were part of the initiative. More are expected to follow suit over the coming days, according to sources.

“Several people had personally told me that there has been a visible change in the river since L-G saab has taken up the issue in earnest; I had gone to congratulate him on his efforts regarding this,” Bukhari said about the meeting, which took place Wednesday. During the conversation, I asked if I could help in any way, and he suggested that I do so by asking citizens to be a part of the government’s efforts,” he added.

The message went on to underline that Saxena had “got a large section of the river cleaned” and further work in this respect was underway, adding that action was required on the part of all of Delhi’s citizens to create “a better atmosphere, environment and ensure cleaner water from the Yamuna.”

Earlier, addressing a training programme for the city’s priests on April 10, Saxena had asked them to “play the role of educators and change-makers” as custodians and guides of various spiritual and cultural practices, asking them to adopt specific best practices aimed at helping prevent pollution in the Yamuna.

The L-G had asked city priests to promote the use of eco-friendly materials in religious offerings, discourage the dumping of waste or plastic in the river, and educate people about waste management practices in temples and ashrams located on the banks of the Yamuna.

Source: indianexpress.com

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https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/mosques-across-delhi-join-initiative-for-a-clean-yamuna-8594237/

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King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture and Cinema Society Join Forces to Develop Film Industry in Saudi Arabia

 

Visitors will get the chance to travel to different worlds with the cinematic virtual reality (cine-VR), movies shown in a fully immersive experience with specialized visuals and audios of. VR users will get a 360 perspective of the virtual world, providing a heightened sensory experience. (Photo by Essa Aldobaisi)

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 May 05, 2023

 DHAHRAN: The King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture, also known as Ithra, has teamed up with the Cinema Society in Dhahran to introduce programs and initiatives designed to aid the development of the film sector in the Kingdom and help local industry professionals to develop their talents.

The partnership agreement was signed by Abdullah Al-Rashed, Ithra’s director, and Hana Al-Omair, the president of the Cinema Society, on the side-lines of the 9th edition of the Saudi Film Festival.

The aim of the agreement is to create initiatives that can help aspiring talents in the local film industry to develop their skills through participation in programs in which they can learn from established professionals. It will also empower content providers to create opportunities for skill development.

Ithra Director Abdullah Al-Rashed said the collaboration was important because of the pivotal roles of both organizations in the cultural sector.

Cinema Society President Hana Al-Omair said that the goals of the organization include support for the cultural sector and the stimulation of creative and meaningful cinematic content.

“We at the Cinema Society are looking forward to providing a meaningful space for the talented and pioneers, as has been our role and vision since the establishment of the society,” said Al-Omair.

The Saudi Film Festival, which began on May 4 and continues until May 11, includes film screenings and related activities at Ithra, including a specialist program for industry professionals.

Tickets are available for the public screenings, after which the audience has the chance to take part in conversations with the filmmakers. There is also a chance to experience the thrills of cinematic virtual reality, in which movies are shown in a fully immersive, 360-degree form with specialized visuals and audio to provide a heightened sensory experience.

The festival includes a production market where industry professionals can meet, chat and network. Also on the schedule are discussion sessions on a range topics related to the film industry in the Kingdom, including the Red Sea Film Festival, the Film Commission, NEOM, and Film AlUla.

A series of masterclasses, presented in Arabic and English by international and local industry experts, will explore a range of film- and script-related topics, including: “Grab Them At Hello,” “Creative Writing,” “General VFX,” “The Perfection of Our Creative Flaws,” “Co-Productions in Documentary and Feature Films,” “Strategic PR for Festivals” and “Distribution.”

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2298511/saudi-arabia

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Burial of Boy, 3, Kicks Up Islam, Christianity War in Family

 

CRIME: Crime scene./ Image: THE STAR:

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05 May 2023

There was drama at Embu Level 5 Hospital morgue when two families sharply differed over the burial of a three-year-old boy whose body was retrieved from Rupingazi River after going missing for four days.

Emotions ran high after the maternal and paternal families locked horns over which final burial rites they were to accord the deceased.

A burial dispute erupted after the two families failed to agree on whether to bury the child in accordance with Muslim faith of the baby's father or perform Christian rites as per the mother’s family leaning.

The young couple separated last year and the mother of the deceased child has been living at her ancestral home in Makengisublocation in Embu North subcounty.

At one point, the dispute escalated and turned physical after both families accidentally met at the mortuary with each not knowing the intention of the other.

The family of the mother to the child alleged that the other family was plotting to collect the body of the child secretly even before the post-mortem was done to establish the cause of death. This sparked a crash between the two families outside the morgue.

It took the intervention of onlookers to separate the families as war of words escalated to a physical brawl.

The mother, Purity Mukami, insisted that her child was a Christian and there was no way they were going to let him be buried under Muslim rites as per the wish of the other family.

She also maintained that she wanted a post-mortem and investigations launched into the cause of his death as there were missing body parts including private parts.

“I want a post-mortem done to establish the cause of death as his body upon retrieval from the river had some missing parts,” she said.

Her mother, Lucy Muthoni, alleged that her in-laws had a hidden agenda to pick the body from the mortuary without their knowledge, saying they will camp at the mortuary every day in need to avert such a move.

The other family, however, insisted their intention of coming to the morgue was to facilitate the autopsy.

The baby's grandfather, Abdul Aziz, said they had no plans to bury the baby secretly, insisting that they also wanted to know the truth behind his death.

Source: the-star.co.ke

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https://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2023-05-05-burial-of-boy-3-kicks-up-islam-christianity-war-in-family/

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Birmingham Muslims To Pray For King Charles At Coronation Celebrations

 

Birmingham Muslims will pray for HM King Charles this weekend (Image: REX/Shutterstock)

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5 MAY 2023

ByHusna Anjum

Mosques across the UK including Birmingham, will see Muslims praying for King Charles in celebration of this weekend's grand coronation. The celebrations will be led by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, one of the 'oldest established Muslim communities in the UK', where Muslims will pray, share food and enjoy fun activities from May 6-8.

This isn't the first time Muslims have paid homage to a monarch. In 1902 the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community offered special thanks and prayers during the Coronation of HM King Edward VII. The Darul Barakaat Mosque in Bordesley Green will be hosting their celebration on May 7, 12-3pm.

Special visitors include the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Cllr Maureen Cornish and West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster. The Mosque will also make special donations to local foodbanks as part of The Big Help Out campaign on May 8.

Meanwhile buses across London will feature celebratory banners saying 'Congratulations Your Majesty!' with the Coronation and Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK logos. His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Head of the Worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim community, emphasised the the importance of religious freedom which he praised King Charles for supporting.

He said: "I pray that the occasion of His Majesty's Coronation proves not only a means of bringing people of different nations together but also a means of fostering a spirit of trust and mutual understanding in society and between nations.

"It is my prayer that may God Almighty through His Grace and Beneficence, keep our honoured King safe and in good health. May his reign be one of peace and prosperity for the world, and may the attributes of justice, tolerance and freedom of belief forever remain the guiding principles of the British Monarchy. Ameen"

Syed Imtiaz Ahmed, Regional President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Midlands, said:

"We are sharing the joy of the nation on this historic day and are delighted to express our happiness and gratitude to God. We are inviting our friends and neighbours to join in the celebrations with us, and pray that God grants His Majesty King Charles III a long life and that we can continue to live in peace under his reign."

Source: birminghammail.co.uk

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https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/birmingham-muslims-pray-king-charles-26850684

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Pakistan, Bangladesh Have Shared History, Commonality Of Faith & Culture: Pakistan Minister For Religious Affairs

 

Photo: Pak Observer

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May 6, 2023

Pakistan and Bangladesh enjoy cordial relations based on mutual respect, desire for peace, prosperity and regional stability. These views were expressed by Minister for Religious Affairs & Interfaith Harmony Senator Talha Muhammad while addressing as chief guest the reception marking 52nd Anniversary of the Independence and the National Day of Bangladesh.

High Commissioner Ruhul Alam Siddique had hosted the reception that was also attended by Federal Minister for Narcotics Control Shahzain Bugti, Minister for Poverty Alleviation & Social Safety Shazia Marri, Convener Parliamentary Friendship Group for Bangladesh Senator Taj Haider, heads of missions of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries, diplomats, UN representative, parliamentarians, members of civil society and a large number of Bangladesh nationals.

Talha Mahmood praised the strong bond between Bangladesh and Pakistan and highlighted the importance of interfaith harmony in promoting peace and stability. He also congratulated the people and the government of Bangladesh on their 52nd Independence Day.

High Commissioner Ruhul Amin while addressing on the occasion highlighted his country’s growing economy, industrial development, contributions to UN’s peace-keeping operations, security, and stability.

While taking the guests down the history of his country, the high commissioner said in the early hours of 26 March 1971, the greatest Bengali of all time, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared Independence of a new nation called Bangladesh.

Today, I recall him with great reverence and profound respect and also take this opportunity to pay tribute to the valiant freedom fighters who made supreme sacrifices by embracing martyrdom in the Great War of Liberation in 1971, said the high commissioner. I also humbly recall all Bengali men and women who made huge sacrifices and endured endless miseries during the war.

“This year, though we are celebrating the 52nd Anniversary of the Independence of Bangladesh, the last couple of years were especially significant as we celebrated three major occasions: 100th birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman; Golden Jubilee of the Independence of Bangladesh and Confirmation of Bangladesh’s graduation from a least developed country to a developing country,” noted the high commissioner with joy.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina assumed office for five years in 1996 and re-embarked on the journey of Bangladesh towards development. She again became the Prime Minister in 2009, and is presently serving the fourth term.

The high commissioner was of the view that under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh has achieved remarkable progress in socio-economic sectors and it has been transformed into one of the vibrant economies of the world. Bangladesh is now a knowledge-based middle income country. During the last 50 years, per capita income has increased 30 times from merely 94 US Dollars in 1972 to 2824 US Dollars, foreign currency reserves rose to 35 billion US dollars from almost zero in 1972 and life expectancy increased to 72 years from 47 years after independence. During the last 14 years, Bangladesh has registered around 7 percent GDP growth.

Bangladesh and Pakistan have unique relations based on shared history and commonality of faith and culture, said the high commissioner adding the growing bilateral trade between the two countries had grown to 45 percent during the last fiscal year which shows how strongly both the countries are linked in bilateral business. He also expressed hope that it would continue in future.

Source: pakobserver.net

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https://pakobserver.net/pakistan-bangladesh-have-shared-history-commonality-of-faith-culture/

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India

 

Will show 'The Kerala Story' to 100 girls to save them from 'love jihad': UP BJP leader

Friday, May 5, 2023

Amid the ongoing controversy over the movie "The Kerala Story", an Uttar Pradesh BJP leader on Friday said he will show the film to 100 girls and urged others to do the same to save girls from 'love jihad'.

'Love jihad' is a term often used by right-wing activists to allege a ploy by Muslim men to lure Hindu women into religious conversion through marriage. "Show #Kerla_files to save girls from Love Zehad (sic)," UP BJP secretary Abhijat Mishra said in a tweet in Hindi, in an apparent reference to "The Kerala Story", which was released in cinemas on Friday.

"I will make arrangements to show the movie to 100 girls, you should do the same. Be alert, be safe," he added. "The Kerala Story", starring Adah Sharma, is written and directed by Sudipto Sen. The movie is portrayed as "unearthing" the events behind "approximately 32,000 women" allegedly going missing from Kerala.

The plot follows the story of a group of women from Kerala who are converted to Islam and later forced to join terror group ISIS. The filmmakers claim that the movie is a compilation of true stories of three young girls from different parts of Kerala. When asked why he feels that the movie should be shown to girls, Mishra told PTI, "Firstly, love jihad is an insult to love.

Secondly, they are making our children anti-national." Everyone is free to practice their religion but it is unacceptable to subject others to physical exploitation and push them onto the wrong path, the BJP leader said.

Extremists among Muslims fund such acts and the movie needs to be shown to girls to raise awareness about the issue, he said. "We have to save our daughters from this," said Mishra, a former national general secretary of the BJP Yuva Morcha. Many petitions have been filed seeking a ban on the screening of the movie. The Supreme Court and the Kerala High Court have dismissed all such pleas so far.

Source: oneindia.com

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https://www.oneindia.com/india/will-the-kerala-story-to-100-girls-to-save-them-from-love-jihad-up-bjp-leader-3556445.html

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Jammu: Dormitory renamed with Hindu deity’s name, replacing Muslim saint’s name

May 5, 2023

by Muslim Mirror Staff

Jammu administration has renamed a student dormitory after a Hindu goddess and removed the name of a local Muslim saint on May 3, The Hindu reported.

The District Development Commissioner of Doda, Vishesh Paul Mahajan, has issued a communique to rename the dormitory located in Jammu and Kashmir’s winter capital Jammu.

The new name proposed for the dormitory is “Asikni House,” after a Hindu goddess who is a consort of Daksha in the Puranic pantheon. The foundation stone for Asikni House is scheduled to be laid by May 10.

The dormitory was previously named after local saint Shah Asrar Ud-Din, also known as Asraria, whose shrine is revered by both Hindus and Muslims in the region of Chenab Valley’s Kishtwar.

The move was criticised by the Peoples Democratic Party.

“When the Deputy Commissioner has a problem with ‘Asraria’, ‘Bhagwakaran’ of the administration is a reality. We are forced into silence,” PDP leader FirdousTak said.

Source: muslimmirror.com

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https://muslimmirror.com/eng/jammu-dormitory-renamed-with-hindu-deitys-name-replacing-muslim-saints-name/

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AMU Students Protest Against Grand Mufti OfEgyptOver Its Foreign Policy Towards Israel

May 4, 2023,

By Mohammad Dilshad

Muzaffarnagar: Several students at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) held an agitation against Grand Mufti of Egypt Dr Shawki Ibrahim Abdel QaribAllam outside the kennedy hall on campus on Tuesday criticising Egypt over its foreign policy towards Israel.

While Dr Shawki was addressing a gathering at AMU, some students reached the spot carrying posters with slogans criticising him. Assistant proctor of AMU, Sayed Ali Nawab Zaidi, told TOI, “Some students suddenly appeared and started the protest against the guest as they were angry with the policy of Egypt toward Israel. All of them were made to return.”

Proctor Prof Mohammad Wasim Ali said, “The students had lodged a peaceful protest. A student said that in conflicts between Palestine and Israel, Egypt always takes the side of Israel, due to which there is resentment among Muslims around the world against Egypt.”

Notably, Dr Shawki was invited by AMU for a public address and he delivered a speech on “Dialogue among civilisations.” He said, “There is a need to grasp and understand the true spirit of Islam, i.e engaging and dealing with people of all faiths, civilisations, and philosophies by seeking common grounds and recognising the diversities and differences which are divine gifts and blessings from god.”

Dr Shawki further said, “Building bridges and engaging with followers of different faiths has been the practice of the Prophet Mohammad until he passed away at the age of 63. The Prophet sent his companions to Abyssinia which was predominantly a Christian land and in Medina, he signed an agreement ‘Constitution of Medina’ in which he set the rules of engagement with Jewish clans and other residents of the city.”

“Prophet Mohammad was the epitome of mercy and compassion and he is a role model, particularly for Muslims in respect to their conduct and behaviour towards neighbours, friends, relatives, and humanity at large,” he added.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/education/news/amu-students-protest-against-grand-mufti-of-egypt/articleshow/99987004.cms

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J&K: Shia community protests over targets being given to teachers in Pakistan

May 06, 2023

Several people of Shia community held a protest in Srinagar on May 05. The protest was against the new target of Shia teachers in Pakistan. A huge number of protesters gathered on the streets to protest.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/videos/news/jk-shia-community-protests-over-targets-being-given-to-teachers-in-pakistan/videoshow/100022121.cms

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Security tightened in Tamil Nadu as Muslim outfit protests against release of ‘The Kerala Story’

Deputy commissioner of police G Sandheesh said close to 1,000 police personnel were deployed around the sensitive areas and near malls in Coimbatore.

By: Express News Service

May 5, 2023

tnprotestThe Tamil Nadu Muslim MunnetraKazhagam raised slogans against the release (Source: P Rahman)

The Tamil Nadu Muslim MunnetraKazhagam raised slogans against the release of the controversial movie The Kerala Story in Coimbatore on Friday. The protesters attempted to jump over the barricades placed in front of a mall where the movie was screened.

Only a select group of malls screened the movie and they were provided with an extra layer of security. In Coimbatore, a communally sensitive district, the movie was screened at a few places such as Fun Republic Mall, Brookfield Mall and Prozone Mall.

cbe protests Deputy commissioner of police G Sandheesh said that close to 1,000 police personnel were deployed around the sensitive areas and near malls. (Source: P Rahman)

Deputy commissioner of police G Sandheesh said that close to 1,000 police personnel were deployed around the sensitive areas and near malls. “In Coimbatore city, the movie is being released in three malls. We received inputs from the intelligence and the government provided us instructions to ensure there are no issues around the release of the movie. Nearly 1,000 police personnel are deployed around the city at important points like airport, bus stand, railway station, junctions and also at three major malls. We are confident that we will handle this well,” he said.

People are allowed inside the malls after stringent checking using hand-held metal detectors and body metal detectors. There is a dog squad and police have been deployed inside the malls as well.

“Usually, there will be security personnel inside the mall, now we have given extra protection. We are checking their bags… We spoke to organisations ahead of the release, yet we are anticipating a few members to protest against the release and we will initiate action accordingly,” Sandheesh said.

In Chennai, the film was screened in theatres inside popular malls such as Express Avenue, Chennai City Centre, Forum Vijaya Mall, Phoenix Market City and AGS Cinemas.

Source: indianexpress.com

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https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chennai/security-tamil-nadu-muslim-outfit-protests-release-the-kerala-story-8593353/

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"Not All Muslims Are Terrorists": Congress MP Slams PM's 'The Kerala Story' Remark

May 05, 2023

Thiruvananthapuram: Congress MP K Muraleedharan on Friday said his party has been opposing terrorism in the country from the very beginning.

His remark came in response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing the Congress of not standing against terrorism and demonstrating the same through their opposition to the film 'The Kerala Story'.

Speaking to ANI on Friday, Mr Muraleedharan said, "The Congress has been opposing terrorism in the country from the very beginning. We are against communal forces as well. PM Modi says Congress is supporting terrorists for vote bank politics. We are only supporting our minorities and standing up for their rights."

Mr Muraleedharan added that the Congress has always stood with the minorities when it comes to fighting for their rights, adding that not all Muslims are terrorists and terrorist movements can take root in any group or religion.

"Congress supports the minorities when it comes to fighting for their rights and we are very particular about it. Not all Muslims are terrorists. The terrorist movements can take root in any group or religion," he said.

He added, "The makers of 'The Kerala Story' first claimed in the film's teaser that 32,000 Hindu women were converted to Islam, which is absolutely wrong. The censor board later had that portion removed from the trailer. Later they changed the figure to 3. So, what is the point of making a film on an issue that is limited to only 3 people."

Claiming that communal violence was less in Kerala as compared to other states, Mr Muraleedharan accused the BJP of trying to stoke trouble in the state.

"Kerala always supports all communities and they have been living in harmony. Compared to other states, incidents communal violence is less here. 'The Kerala Story' is absolutely wrong in its depiction of the state, which is why we're opposing it. Why is the BJP trying to create problems here?" he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing a poll rally in Karnataka on Friday, launched an attack on the Congress, accusing it of opposing 'The Kerala Story', which he said exposed the consequences of terrorism.

"'The Kerala Story' shows the ugly truth of terrorism and exposes the design of the terrorists," the PM said, adding that the Congress is standing with "terror sympathisers" who are trying to get the film banned.

Addressing a rally in Ballari ahead of the May 10 Assembly elections in Karnataka, Prime Minister Modi also accused the Congress of shielding terrorists for vote bank politics.

"Congress is opposing the film on terrorism and standing with terror sympathisers. The Congress is throwing a protective shield around terrorism in the interest of vote bank," PM Modi said.

Meanwhile, the Kerala High Court on Friday refused to issue a stay order on the release of 'The Kerala Story'.

Asserting that "secular" Kerala society will accept the film for what it is, the high court on Friday asked petitioners how the movie, which if seen as fiction and not history, would create sectarianism and conflict in the society.

The court sought to know whether the entire trailer was against society.

"Nothing will happen just because the film is screened. The teaser of the film was released in November. What was offensive in the film? What is wrong in saying that Allah is the only God? The country gives the citizen the right to believe in their religion and God and spread it. What was offensive in the trailer?", the court observed while considering a batch of petitions seeking to cancel the censor certificate of the film.

"So many movies have already come out about such organizations. There have been references against Hindu monks and Christian priests in many films before. Did you see all this in the way of fiction? What is so special now? How does this movie create sectarianism and conflict in society?" the court observed.

The petitioners argued that the film would inject poison into the minds of innocent people, adding that no agency has yet detected the existence of 'Love Jihad' in Kerala.

Helmed by Sudipto Sen and produced by VipulAmrutlal Shah, the film has triggered a massive political row with various leaders opposing it.

'The Kerala Story' stars Adah Sharma, YogitaBihani, Siddhi Idnani and Sonia Balani in lead roles. The trailer came under fire as it claimed that 32,000 girls from the state went missing and later joined the terrorist group, ISIS.

Facing backlash, the makers later withdrew the figure and called the movie the story of three women from Kerala, in its trailer description.

Source: ndtv.com

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https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/not-all-muslims-are-terrorists-congress-mp-slams-pms-the-kerala-story-remark-4008791

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Arab World

 

Saudi Arabia to Close Renowned Arabic and Islam-Focused London SchoolKing Fahad Academy

5 May 2023

A renowned independent school popular with London’s Middle Eastern and North African diaspora is faced with closure in September after 38 years, after Saudi Arabia withdrew its backing.

Combining Arabic and Islamic Studies along with a British curriculum, the King Fahad Academy in Acton, west London has been serving the educational needs of Londoners from Arab and Muslim backgrounds since 1985. 

Teachers at the Saudi-backed school were told about the closure in person on Tuesday, after returning from a combined Easter and Eid three-week break.

Dismayed they were losing their jobs with little notice, many became visibly upset, Middle East Eye was told.

“As a former student, parent and current teacher I’m still in shock,” said one teacher, who did not wish to be named. “My main concern is the welfare of our children, and as a parent I have still not formally been informed about the closure.”

Parents learned of the planned closure earlier this week through hearsay, only receiving confirmation from the school on Friday afternoon.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is reorganising and restructuring its education system,” a letter to the parents said. "As a consequence, it is adjusting its provision of education outside of the kingdom and is currently considering closing certain establishments. The Academy is one such establishment being considered for closure."

Unless alternative funding is found, it is likely the school will close at the end of this academic year, the letter added.

The school and Saudi embassy did not respond to requests for comment.

'Left in limbo'

King Fahad Academy currently has around 480 students, from nursery stage up to the age of 18. As one of the few schools in London known for its Arabic and Islamic studies courses, it has a waiting list of prospective students.

“We’ve heard it’s a funding issue,” said another distressed parent. “But surely Saudi can afford to keep this place running. With the right investment the school could be a centre of learning excellence, showing the best of both British and Islamic learning.”

On Thursday, frustrated parents sent a letter to the school, saying their children’s “education and stability have been left in limbo”.

Parents have complained they do not have enough time to find new schools for when the next educational year begins in September.

Registration for the 2023/2024 intake of state schools is now closed, making it more difficult to find a place in a school of choice.

The school was founded in 1985 by then-Saudi King Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to provide education for the children of Saudi diplomats and others who wanted a faith-based schooling in London.

Alumni have gone on to enjoy successful careers in law, medicine, media and the arts.

Visual arts educator Rania Hedia El AgamiRaine attended the school between 1985 and 1997. Her most recent work, celebrating the centenary of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, was displayed at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

“The school is part of me. I even returned there for a time and taught art for 10 years. It’s given so many of us opportunities to carve this unique space between east and west that is hard to find in other schools,” she told MEE.

Another former pupil, Jamal Elshayyal, now the manager of content strategy at Al Jazeera, told MEE: "KFA was more than just a school. It was a home from home where we were helped to learn and understand our religious and cultural identity.”

Other former students include NuhaYassin, who went on to become the first female robotic proctor for colorectal surgery in the UK, and Ahmad Aziz, a leading oculoplastic surgeon at Imperial College.

The school is governed by a board of trustees accountable to the Saudi embassy. Education is free for the Saudi students, while non-Saudi families pay a fee of £3,000 for the academic year.

Source: middleeasteye.net

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https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/saudi-arabia-close-london-school-arabic-islam-focused

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Teachers enroll in musical training programs to revive school performances

 May 05, 2023

 RIYADH: Saudi children gathered around the performance stage, each holding a musical instrument, performing for their families and loved ones is a scene that is being revived in the Kingdom’s schools again.

This year Saudi Arabia is taking important measures to implement music as part of the school curriculum, with musical arts training programs for teachers.

The qualifying program for musical art training implemented its first phase on Sunday, with over 7,000 kindergarten teachers enrolled in the four-week program, part of the strategy for developing cultural capabilities in partnership with the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education, supervised by the Music Commission.

The program’s ultimate aims are to develop the talents of young Saudis from an early age, and to enhance the competitiveness of the Saudi cultural and education sectors.

It will enhance the abilities of kindergarten teachers who subsequently plan musical activities and lessons for children, teaching them, among other things, the characteristics of sound and related terminology.

Songs and chants are a regular part of lessons conducted in kindergartens as they play an important role in children’s language development.

SeetaAlqanas, a teacher at Dareen Kindergarten School at Jubail Industrial City, registered as a trainee for the program’s first implemented phase.

“As a trainee of the program, we are learning how to chant songs with a melody that attracts the attention of children, and children will learn the types of music and instruments, and eventually be able to form a melody from a young age,” she said.

“I personally like the program and am enjoying it, and I see that it is an important, fun element to (the) kindergarten curriculum, as it improves children’s listening and hearing skills.”

The Kingdom’s move to expose Saudis to music from a young age ignites areas of children’s development and readiness for school, including intellectual, linguistic development, and social-emotional skills.

“The program helps increase children’s linguistic development, builds their personality and self-confidence, and enhances their artistic taste,” said ReemAlkhelaiwi, a teacher at Al-Zarqa Kindergarten School.

“In line with Vision 2030 and keeping with its development, I think this step is very important as music is the common language of mankind.”

Alkhelaiwi tried to register for the program’s first phase but missed the chance and is eagerly waiting for the program’s second phase to be announced.

“The program is necessary for every kindergarten teacher as it gives teachers a better way to present songs in a professional, musical way,” she said.

Research has long suggested that listening to and playing music helps reduce anxiety, stress and elevates mood.

Listening and playing music can also help regulate children’s emotions and can significantly influence emotion recognition.

“Music can free children from anxiety and help them experience new feelings such as joy, pride, and anger, following the musical notes they play,” said Sara Almutairi, another teacher at Dareen Kindergarten School at Jubail Industrial City.

“Playing music can also help increase children’s confidence and social skills.”

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2298331/saudi-arabia

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Saudi FM, Blinken discuss initiative to host Sudan warring parties in Jeddah

May 05, 2023

RIYADH: Saudi foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received on Friday a phone call from the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.

During their call, they discussed the developments of a joint initiative to host both Sudanese warring parties in Jeddah, the statement added.

The joint initiative aims at “reducing the levels of tension” in Sudan, the statement also said.

Also on Friday, the Sudanese army said that it had sent envoys to Saudi Arabia to discuss “details of the truce in the process of being extended” with its paramilitary foes.

Regular army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan had given his backing to a seven-day ceasefire announced by South Sudan on Wednesday, but early on Friday the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces said they were extending by three days a previous truce brokered under US-Saudi mediation.

Multiple truces have been agreed since the fighting between the rival security forces erupted on April 15, but none has been respected.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2298401/saudi-arabia

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Saudi Arabia’s CST, ITU discuss how metaverse technologies can help achieve sustainable development

 May 05, 2023

 RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Communications, Space and Technology Commission in partnership with the International Telecommunication Union organized a virtual discussion on employing metaverse technology in smart cities.

The discussion — which focused on how metaverse technology can contribute to developing education, improving livelihoods, creating new sources of income, providing access to public and private services, promoting global cooperation, building communities, and enhancing civic participation — was held on the sidelines of the two-day virtual Global Science, Technology and Innovation Forum, which began Thursday.

The annual forum is organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Council and is, according to a statement “an opportunity to boost evidence-based policymaking, anchored in science, for designing and implementing transformations to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, which are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.”

 Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations Ambassador Abdulaziz Al-Wasil and Seizo Onoe, director of the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau at the ITU, opened the discussion.

Al-Wasil shed light on the many objectives of Saudi Vision 2030 and its embrace of modern technology, particularly metaverse technology. He cited several events hosted by the Kingdom that aim to stimulate the adoption of this technology, especially in smart cities.

He stressed that the Kingdom is working closely with the ITU to unify visions and standards for the use of metaverse technology and to accelerate achievement of the SDGs.

Moaz bin Sulaiman Al-Rumaih, director of the international negotiation department at the CST, underlined the progress made by the Kingdom in the field of digital transformation and smart cities, highlighting the achievements of the telecommunications industry in the Kingdom — represented by the commission — and the effective cooperation between the CST and various international organizations, which has, he said, made the Kingdom a role model for digital transformation both regionally and globally.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/nde/2298381/saudi-arabia

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SFDA trains quality assessors on ICH quality guidelines

 May 05, 2023

 RIYADH: The Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA), in cooperation with the International Council for Harmonization of Technical Requirements of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (ICH), organized regulatory training on quality guidelines, providing assessors with in-depth knowledge and experience in the fields of chemistry, manufacturing and control.

The four-week training program, which began May 1, consists of five modules covering various disciplines, such as drug manufacturing and analyzing processes, and reviewing production stages using scientific studies.

The training is being offered by prominent international experts, including Dr. Nadine Ritter, a specialist in the field of biopharmaceuticals from the US; Dr. Mark Powell, a specialist in the field of biochemistry from the UK; and Dr. Margit Holzer, a specialist from Austria.

A group of experts from the SFDA joined them.

About 90 residents and experts from the authority, along with more than 30 residents representing a number of Arab and international regulatory authorities, also joined the program.

By organizing programs, the SFDA aims to build bridges of communication and benefit from international experts, transferring expertise internationally to improve regulatory decisions and help raise the efficiency, quality and safety of medicine worldwide.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2298291/saudi-arabia

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UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia sees coronation as an opportunity for the British to see their history come to life

 May 05, 2023

 RIYADH: On May 6, King Charles III will officially be proclaimed as the UK’s new monarch in a grand ceremony broadcast around the world from Westminster Abbey in London.

“This is the first coronation that has taken place in my lifetime, my mother is 87 and talks to me about the coronation,” British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Neil Crompton told Arab News.

The ambassador visited the Arab News headquarters in Riyadh on Thursday to celebrate the coronation with Arab News reporters and the assistant editor in chief, Noor Nugali.

 Crompton highlighted some of the ways people will celebrate the coronation in the UK and also detailed the festivities hosted by the UK Embassy in Riyadh.

“Most people will watch it live on television, a lot of people will go to London to line the streets, but I believe normally on royal events like this, big communities come together and have street parties and it’s nice to get together with tables and cakes and flags,and children running around.”

In Saudi Arabia, the UK Embassy will be hosting friends who have supported the bilateral relationship between the two kingdoms, and Saudi alumni of UK universities at a reception to celebrate the coronation of King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort.

“Obviously it’s a very big day for the United Kingdom and British embassies around the world,” the ambassador said.

Also in attendance at the UK reception celebrating the coronation will be previous Saudi ambassadors of the UK as well as Saudi businessmen and women that have a close connection to the UK.

The ambassador highlighted the status of Saudi-UK relations, stating: “The relationship is probably as strong as it has ever been, I would say that it is a historical relationship.

“But I think that it has become a very modern partnership we have, and changes like Brexit, you have an exciting reform program Vision 2030,” he said.

Crompton added that King Charles is expected to continue the legacy of his late mother Queen Elizabeth II while also carrying on his own interests and work in inter-faith dialogue, youth development, and environmental action. “I expect there to be lots of continuity in terms of that we have a constitutional monarchy so part of the emphasis is on monitoring continuity. But of course, he will bring a slightly different style, he has some slightly different interests and I think everyone is looking forward to seeing,” Crompton told Arab News.

Among the continued interests of the king will be his work in promoting harmony and respect among different religions and cultures as well as his work in the Arab world.

“He (King Charles) has made seven official visits to Saudi Arabia and, of course, there is an old relationship between the two royal families,” Crompton said.

“King Charles has always taken an interest in the Arab world and in matters of faith and Islam in particular,” the ambassador added.

“He has always had an interest in interfaith dialogue.” One of King Charles’s commitments has always been strengthening and building bridges between diverse faiths and cultures.

“I remember just before I joined the foreign embassy in 1995, King Charles did a famous speech or lecture in Oxford called ‘Islam in the West’ in which he talked about the sort of common heritage between Islam, Christianity, and Judaism which I think won a lot of appreciation,” Crompton said.

The ambassador imagines that the King will continue his new legacy along these themes while also adding his interests in youth development programs.

The coronation, set for Saturday, will be attended by many dignitaries from around the world, and thousands of Brits will surround Westminster Abbey to experience it.

As announced so far, King Charles’ coronation will differ in certain aspects from the late Queen Elizabeth’s, whose procession was 5 miles long with more than 8,000 guests attending the ceremony.

King Charles’ procession will be shorter at 1.3 miles and 2,000 guests in attendance.

When the ambassador was asked what he looks forward to seeing most during the coronation, he said: “We are fascinated by the ceremony, we haven’t seen it and sadly the late Queen Elizabeth died, and we had the funeral, so many of the ceremonies have been for that.”

The ambassador added that much of the pageantry during the late queen’s funeral were witnessed for the first time by people in their lifetime, and were an opportunity for the British to see their history come to life.

“We learned a lot, we re-learned a lot about our history, and that is something we are looking forward to,” Crompton said.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2298001/saudi-arabia

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Africa

 

Islam Prioritises a Safe and Healthy Working Environment

May 6th, 2023

In our daily life, we must always practice safety either at home, work or in public places. In general, most of our lives are indirectly exposed to various harmful risks. An unsafe workplace, where uncontrolled sources of danger are found, may lead to accidents and harm. This indirectly may affect personal and family lives, socially and financially. The matter was outlined in the Friday sermon on Islam Prioritises a Safe and Healthy Working Environment. The sermon also shared some of the steps to ensure a safe and healthy working environment.

According to the Imam or Prayer Leader said among it is to ensure clean and orderly work environment. By doing so, one can avoid injury and uncomfortable atmosphere. Apart from that, by taking precautions and erecting signboards to inform workers and the public on the dangers at certain areas. It is important that aspects of safety and health in the workplace are managed in a systematic way. Regular safety and health checks must be carried out to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for employees.

Source: brudirect.com

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https://brudirect.com/news.php?id=168666

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Mayor Allah-Jabu bans manual revenue collection

May 5, 2023

The Juba City Council has issued an order banning manual revenue collection by city tax collectors.

Mayor Michael Allah-Jabu directed all units of Juba City Council, including the headquarters, block councils, and the Department of Environment and Sanitation, to stop the manual collection of revenues using financial form 15 and manual demand notes.

At the same time, the mayor directed the utilization of digitalized revenue collection using the State Digital Revenue System.

The registration of all businesses is to be conducted within a period of two months, beginning from May 8, 2023, to July 8, 2023.

“Whoever intentionally refuses to register his or her business through the digitalized collection system shall be liable for a fine not exceeding one million for the Grade 1 hotel business, SSP 700,000 for the Grade 2 hotel business, and SSP 500,000 for the Grade 3 hotel business.

The order indicated that companies and organizations shall be subjected to fines not exceeding SSP 500,000, whereas lodges shall pay SSP 400,000.

According to the local order, first-class restaurants will be subjected to paying SSP 300,000, SSP 200,000 for second-class restaurants, and SSP 100,000 for third-class restaurants.

There shall be a fine for wholesale businesses not exceeding SSP 100,000, SSP 76, 000 only for retail businesses, and SSP 50,000 for any other category of businesses, but not limited to the above.

The major continued that any taxpayer who pays tax through the manual system form from the date of the local order will be at his or her own expense, and the institution will not recognize the payment.

Allah-Jabu directed the chief executive officer, block directors, and the director of environment and sanitation through their relevant units to ensure that the local order is fully implemented in letter and spirit.

Source: cityreviewss.com

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https://cityreviewss.com/mayor-allah-jabu-bans-manual-revenue-collection/

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Sudan: Frighteningly large number of children killed- UN

06-05-23

"As feared and as warned, the situation in Sudan has become fatal for a frighteningly large number of children," James Elder, spokesman for the UN children's agency UNICEF, told reporters in Geneva.

He said the agency had received reports from a trusted partner -- not yet independently verified by the UN -- that 190 children were killed and 1,700 injured in just the first 11 days of the conflict that began on April 15.

Elder pointed out that those numbers had been gathered from health facilities in Khartoum and the Darfur region.

That means it only covers the children that actually made it to healthcare facilities in those areas, he said, warning that "the reality is likely to be much worse".

Hundreds of people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes in Sudan since battles began three weeks ago between army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan's forces and his former deputy Mohamed HamdanDaglo's Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

The sides have agreed to a string of short ceasefires, but none has been fully respected, and on Friday air strikes and gunfire continued to rock Khartoum for a 21st straight day.

The UN refugee agency also decried the dire situation in Sudan, urging all countries to refrain from returning Sudanese nationals to the country.

"UNHCR urges all countries to allow civilians fleeing Sudan non-discriminatory access to their territories," Elizabeth Tan, the agency's international protection chief, told reporters.

"This applies to Sudanese nationals, foreign nationals, including refugees who were being hosted by Sudan, stateless people, and those who are not in possession of passports or other identity documents," she said.

UNHCR has said it is preparing for an outflow of 860,000 people from Sudan into neighbouring countries, with more than 113,000 people having already fled the country.

Hundreds of thousands more have been displaced inside Sudan.

"We are grateful to all the neighbouring countries who have allowed them to seek safety," Tan said.

Pointing to the current volatility in Sudan, she said the agency called on countries to "suspend the issuance of negative decisions on asylum claims lodged by Sudanese nationals or stateless people who were habitually resident there."

And she highlighted that previously delivered negative asylum decisions might need to be reconsidered.

"UNHCR is also calling on states to suspend forced returns to Sudan, including of people who have previously had their asylum claims rejected," she said.

Source: africanews.com

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https://www.africanews.com/2023/05/05/sudan-frighteningly-large-number-of-children-killed-un/

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Kenya: King Charles' III coronation divides

05-05-23

The next English monarch is to be crowned Saturday during a ceremony where soldiers from countries of the commonwealth will be marching alongside British troops in honor of the king.

For some, its an affirmation of the lasting friendship that binds Britain and its former colonies, But for most, news of the ceremony is met with apathy at best and hostility at worst. 

This is also the first time in British history that religious leaders representing all faiths will play an active role in the ceremony.

For some, its an affirmation of the lasting friendship that binds Britain and its former colonies, But for most, news of the ceremony is met with apathy at best and hostility at worst as ghosts of the Empire’s murderous colonial past lingers centuries later :

"We all want to know what is going to happen but it is a great occasion, I will be watching. Most of my friends and colleagues will all be watching," shares Keith Taylor, Kenyan of British origin.

"I won't be interested in watching the news or whatever is happening over there because we have been mistreated back then by those colonisers. We were being mistreated. So there is no need of me watching the coronation of the king plus I will be here, hustling," argues GrahmatLuvisia, a Kenyan motorcycle taxi driver.

In Kenya, the colonial legacy of Britain means the event is mostly being met with indifference, as Britain and the monarchy are far from the hearts and minds of most Kenyans.

"One would expect Kenyans to be excited because of our long-shared history. Sadly, it is that history that makes Kenyans disinterested. Actually not happy with the British because of the torture during colonialism, because of the oppression because of detentions, because of killings, because of the alienation of our land, and for that reason Kenyans will be busy looking for what to put in their stomach," analyses Professor Herman Manyora PhD School of Journalism and Communication Studies at the University of Nairobi.

In South Africa, the government has asked for the monarchy to return the star of Africa, the world’s largest diamond that has adorned the royal scepter for over a century, yet another painful reminder of the empire’s looting and oppression.

Source: africanews.com

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https://www.africanews.com/2023/05/05/kenya-king-charles-iii-coronation-divides/

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Europe

 

Leamington Muslims to pray for king and country in Coronation celebrations

5th May 2023

Muslims in Leamington will be praying for king and country in celebration of the Coronation of King Charles III this weekend.

The town’s Ahmadiyya Muslim Association is inviting friends and neighbours for celebrations at its Baitul Ehsan Ahmadiyya Mosque off Adelaide Road at the Riverside over the Coronation weekend from Saturday (May 6) to Monday (May 8).

The Mosque will be sharing food, running fun activities for children and making a donation to the Warwick District Foodbank as part of The Big Help Out campaign.

Zafar Bhatti, president of the association said: "We are inviting our friends and neighbours to join in the celebrations and pray that God grants His Majesty King Charles III a long life and that we can continue to live in peace under his reign.”

Source: warwickshireworld.com

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https://www.warwickshireworld.com/news/people/leamington-muslims-to-pray-for-king-and-country-in-coronation-celebrations-4131554

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Westminster's first Muslim Lord Mayor praises King Charles III for his 'diversifying role'

Laura O'Callaghan

May 05, 2023

As Lord Mayor of Westminster, Hamza Taouzzale will witness King Charles III’s coronation in Westminster Abbey from a unique perspective.

The royal church with more than 1,000 years of history holds a special place in the heart of the youngest politician and first Muslim to carry the title: it was where his appointment was celebrated in a historic civil ceremony last year.

Attending the coronation on Saturday will mean the 23-year-old councillor, whose tenure in office ends on May 17, can bow out on a high note.

The Londoner, who has Moroccan heritage, has spent the past year serving as deputy high steward of the Abbey and attended weekly services there.

“It’s crazy to think about. Very few people get to experience a coronation and fewer actually get to be in the Abbey when the coronation takes place,” he told The National from his office opposite the venue.

“I think it has given itself a special meaning to me over the last year.

“Previously, Westminster Abbey was just … a tourist attraction. I don’t think I had ever been there. I never thought I’d have a role in there.

“Even though I’m Muslim, I have been able to appreciate what the Abbey does, especially the multifaith and interfaith stuff. At pretty much every service that I’ve been to, there’s always been representation of other faiths and I think that’s really important for a place as iconic as the Abbey.”

While Mr Taouzzale said he was thrilled to receive an invitation to the coronation, he was disappointed not to be able to take his mother Soud because “she really wanted to go”. Having joined him as consort at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in September, this time Soud will watch the ceremony on television at the family home on Lisson Green Estate in Marylebone.

After the formalities have concluded, the lord mayor will have another important engagement to attend – a visit with his grandmother Fatima, who is terminally ill with cancer.

“The first thing I’ll do is go home to my grandmother and show her the pictures,” he said. “As she’s lying down on the bed, I’ll say to her: 'Look, this is me.' Just to show her that her grandson has done something. That’s the aim. As long as everyone in my family is proud and happy about me, then I’m good to go. I do everything for them. They’re the ones that encouraged me and got me to where I need to be.”

The coronation ceremony will be a bittersweet moment for Mr Taouzzale because he will be reminded of his family’s long-standing connection to the royals.

His grandfather Mokhtar worked as a porter in Buckingham Palace for nearly 20 years and often spoke fondly of the royal family.

Memorably, the two of them crept quietly along the corridors of the queen's London residence late one evening to collect some keys that Mokhtar had accidentally left behind in the staff quarters when Hamza was only about six years old.

“He would have been proud,” the lord mayor said, holding open the elaborately decorated coronation invitation on his desk.

He was playing football with friends when the notification announcing the date of the coronation came through on his phone. His first course of action was to check if the event would take place before his cut-off date as lord mayor when he would hand over the baton to his successor and return to councillor duties. What followed, Mr Taouzzale concedes, was a sigh of relief.

“It would have been horrible if I had missed it by a day,” he said, adding it would be “absolutely fantastic” to attend in person.

His witnessing of the coronation of King Charles – who he jokes is “one of my residents” – will come just weeks after Mr Taouzzale delivered a speech to the monarch at the palace.

“I said, 'Thank you for being king, it’s fantastic to have you.' I told him that he was the monarch to represent us all, especially younger people. I think he’s been able to diversify the role a lot more.

“When he’s able to speak out about certain issues such as climate change stuff, when he’s able to speak out about being a defender of all faiths as opposed to a defender of the one faith, that brings people in. That means he’s able to relate to his people, he’s able to relate to us as normal citizens, and us as young people.”

Source: thenationalnews.com

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https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/uk-news/2023/05/05/westminsters-first-muslim-lord-mayor-praises-king-charles-iii-for-his-diversifying-role/

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King Charles' coronation to blend ancient ritual with modern Britain

May 6, 2023

LONDON: The coronation of King Charles will seek to blend the ancient ritual of a ceremony that dates back for almost 1,000 years with the modern, more diverse face of Britain and its many faiths, the Order of Service makes clear.

Watched by about 100 heads of state and dignitaries, Charles will be crowned on Saturday at Westminster Abbey, which has staged all coronations since William the Conqueror back in 1066.

The Order of Service says the rite of coronation has been modified through the centuries, adapting to changing needs, and Charles' ceremony will for the first time include a procession of faith leaders and the involvement of those who "reflect the diversity of the United Kingdom and its peoples, in striking contrast to seventy years ago".

Charles, who as monarch is the supreme governor of the Church of England and has the title "Defender of the Faith", has long argued that he wishes to be a defender of all religions and has often spoken of his commitment to Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism and others.

According to the Order of Service, the king will pray for the first time at a Coronation "publicly for grace to be 'a blessing to all ... of every faith and belief'."

It also notes that those presenting the historic regalia to the king, including sceptres and maces, a ring and a spoon, will "reflect the diversity of the United Kingdom and its peoples, in striking contrast to seventy years ago".

The king's love of nature will also be reflected in the clothing of his wife, Queen Camilla, who will also be crowned. Her robe will feature bees, a beetle and a number of plants.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/king-charles-coronation-to-blend-ancient-ritual-with-modern-britain/articleshow/100024343.cms

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UK PM Rishi Sunak hails multi-faith Coronation as 'moment of national pride'

May 6, 2023

LONDON: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has a special message in celebration of the Coronation of King Charles III, highlighting the central role to be played by all faiths in a religious ceremony over a thousand years old.

The Indian-origin leader and the first-ever Hindu incumbent of 10 Downing Street will himself play an active role in the ceremony at Westminster Abbey on Saturday, when he reads from the biblical book of Colossians in keeping with the recent tradition of UK Prime Ministers giving readings at State occasions.

He and wife AkshataMurty, the daughter of Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy, will also be at the head of a procession of flag-bearers as the UK's flag is carried into the Abbey by a high-ranking Royal Air Force (RAF) cadet.

"In the Abbey where monarchs have been crowned for almost a thousand years, representatives of every faith will play a central role for the first time," said Sunak, in a statement on the eve of the historic event.

"The Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla will be a moment of extraordinary national pride. Together with friends from across the Commonwealth and beyond, we will celebrate the enduring nature of our great monarchy: its constancy, devotion to duty, and service to others. No other country could put on such a dazzling display – the processions, the pageantry, the ceremonies, and street parties," he said.

However, he stressed the Coronation – the first in 70 years since Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in June 1953 – is not just a spectacle but a proud expression of history, culture, and traditions.

He noted: "A vivid demonstration of the modern character of our country. And a cherished ritual through which a new era is born… And in a fitting tribute to the spirit of service that will define the Carolean Age, people across our country will help their communities with thousands of acts of kindness.

"So let's celebrate this weekend with pride in who we are and what we stand for. Let's look to the future with hope and optimism. And let's make new memories, so we can tell our grandchildren of the day we came together to sing: 'God Save The King'."

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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Pakistan

 

Constitution Of 1973 Conforms To Injunctions Of Islam: Punjab Governor

May 05, 2023

Punjab Governor Muhammad Baligh-ur-Rehman has termed 1973 constitution the most comprehensive document in which all guidelines have been taken from Islam.

In an exclusive video podcast interview with Radio Pakistan Lahore Correspondent Sajjad Parvez to commemorate the diamond jubilee of 1973 constitution, he said constitution clearly declares that sovereignty belongs to Almighty Allah alone.

He said according to the constitution, no law can be passed in the country which is against the spirit of Islam.

Highlighting the significance of the 1973 constitution, the Governor said it provides people freedoms of movement, assembly, association, speech and Right to Information.

Muhammad Baligh-ur-Rehman called for devising a strategy to apprise the youth of their rights and duties.

Elaborating his role as a Chancellor of universities, Muhammad Baligh-ur-Rehman said consortium has been made to bring reforms in the universities with the major focus on sensitizing the general public about the emerging challenges like climate change, women empowerment and use of technology.

Source: radio.gov.pk

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https://www.radio.gov.pk/05-05-2023/constitution-of-1973-conforms-to-injunctions-of-islam-punjab-governor

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Pakistan against ‘arbitrary’ changes to Security Council

May 6, 2023

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has again urged the international community to seek widest possible consensus for reforming the UN Security Council (UNSC), instead of endorsing arbitrary changes.

Addressing a meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiations framework (IGN) in New York, Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Munir Akram said that the IGN process “offers the best avenue” to reach an agreement on the “equitable representation and reform of the Security Council.”

IGN is a group of nation-states working within the United Nations to reform the Council and comprises several international organisations like the African Union, the Arab League, and the Uniting for Consensus (UfC) group. Pakistan is a leading member of the UfC group of nations.

The IGN held the fifth and final meeting of the intergovernmental negotiations on the reforms, which completed the scheduled IGN meetings for the 77th session of the General Assembly.

“We agree that your initiatives and the informal-informal exchanges, the interaction with academia have all breathed ‘new life’ in the Security Council reform process,” the Pakistani ambassador said.

“Pakistan believes it is only through patient exchanges, mutual accommodation, and compromise that we can broaden the areas of convergence and reduce the points of divergence,” said Ambassador Akram while explaining Pakistan’s position on the reforms.

Only through this process “(we can) evolve a model for the reform that can be accepted by the widest possible majority of member states” of the United Nations, he added.

Pakistan noted that the revised elements paper of the IGN’s co-chairs, reflected their understanding of the convergences and divergences among member states on the issue of UNSC reforms. “This is a useful modality to reflect our discussions, without compromising the official positions of various groups and states,” he said while opposing the attempt to transform this paper into ‘a basis for negotiations’.

The paper states that the security council could be made more representative such as through enlargement, including better representation for Africa, as well as more systematic arrangements for more voices at the table.

Pakistan has endorsed IGN’s statement on Convergences that the reform of the Security Council is a member states-driven process; the principle of democracy remains important; the IGN should seek solutions that garner the widest political acceptance by member states. “While this does not imply unanimity, it certainly does imply the desire for a consensus … we are seeking the widest possible acceptance which in other words means consensus and this is what we aim for,” Ambassador Akram said.

The Pakistani envoy, however, pointed out that the UfC, which includes Pakistan, “continues to oppose any attempt to attribute positions in the elements paper”.

Mr Akram stated that besides the UfC, and the Arab and the African groups, several other individual member states, including some permanent members of the UNSC, had called for a prior agreement on principles of the reform before proceeding to text-based negotiations.

The IGN paper acknowledged that the expansion of the category of two-year term non-permanent members is accepted by all member states.

While noting this, Ambassador Akram said there’s no convergence on the creation of new permanent members. There’s, however, a possible convergence, on the potential compromise between the proposals for permanent members and for two-year non-permanent seats, which is the option of longer-term or re-electable non-permanent seats as offered by the UfC.

“The reform of the Security Council should redress the existing imbalances in regional representation — adding to the representation of the under-represented regions and reducing, or at least not adding to the representation of the over-represented regions,” said the envoy.

Source: dawn.com

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1751175/pakistan-against-arbitrary-changes-to-security-council

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PM Shehbaz calls for revival of 'Commonwealth of Nations'

May 05, 2023

Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has urged the Commonwealth countries to reimagine and reinvigorate the Commonwealth and infuse it with greater synergy and stronger sense of purpose.

He was addressing a meeting of Commonwealth Leaders in London on Friday.

During his address to the meeting, the Prime Minister called upon the leaders of the Commonwealth countries to mark the accession of King Charles III as the dawn of a new era and the opening of new vistas and fresh avenues for the remarkable family of nations known as the Commonwealth.

Talking about the steps taken by the government, the Prime Minister said on the occasion that it is equipping the Pakistani youth with the right kind of skill sets and opportunities.

He said that the government was empowering the women and mainstreaming the marginalized youth, religious and ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities and transgender community.

Source: radio.gov.pk

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https://www.radio.gov.pk/05-05-2023/pm-shehbaz-calls-for-revival-of-commonwealth-of-nations

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No dialogue with India till review of unilateral actions of Aug 5: FM

May 05, 2023

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said Pakistan could not engage in any meaningful dialogue with India till the latter reviews its unilateral and illegal actions of August 5, 2019.

In an interview with ‘India Today’, Foreign Minister said Pakistan wants to combat the menace of terrorism because it has caused the largest number of casualties among any other SCO countries.

He asked India to explain what Kulbhushan Jadhav was doing in Pakistan, carrying out terrorist activities in Pakistan, does it not come under the cross border terrorism?

He said the victims of the 2007 Samjhauta Express bombing had yet to see any justice.

Meanwhile, in an interview with BBC, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said meaningful dialogue with India would be difficult unless it reviews its unilateral actions of August 5, 2019, on Jammu and Kashmir.

He said in these circumstances, the onus is on India to create a conducive environment for bilateral talks.

The Foreign Minister said during his visit to India for the SCO foreign ministers' meeting, he did not request for a bilateral meeting with Indian leadership.

He said his visit to India was a message that Pakistan see the SCO as an important forum in the context of regional progress and stability.

The Foreign Minister reiterated that Pakistan has no change in its stance on the issue of Kashmir.

Source: radio.gov.pk

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https://www.radio.gov.pk/05-05-2023/no-dialogue-with-india-till-review-of-unilateral-actions-of-aug-5-2019-fm-bilawal

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7 teachers among 8 killed in school shootingin northwestern Pakistan

05-05-23

KARACHI, Pakistan (AA): At least eight people, including seven teachers, were killed on Thursday when gunmen opened fire in a school in northwestern Pakistan, police said.

The shooting occurred at a high school in the remote town of Parachinar, nestled on the border with neighbouring Afghanistan.

Mohammad Imran, a senior police officer, told reporters that five teachers and two labourers were killed in the attack.

Earlier local media reported that all seven people killed in the incident were teachers.

Students at the school were taking annual exams when the shooting took place.

Footage screened on local broadcaster Dunya News showed dozens of people gathered in the courtyard of a local government hospital as paramedics were shifting the bodies from ambulances to the emergency section of the facility.

Dubbing the attack as a result of an old land dispute, Mohammad Azam Khan, the acting chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said the culprits behind this “heinous act will not be spared.”

He directed the law informing agencies to use all available resources to bring the culprits to justice.

A local police official, requesting anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media, told Anadolu that a man from a rival tribe was killed just hours before the school shooting in the town.

He suspected that the shooting in school could be a reaction to the killing.

The police sources said gunmen opened fire in an examination hall of the Government High School of Teri Mangal area killing Syed Hussain, Liaquat Hussain, Syed Ali Shah, Mehdi Hussain, Mohammad Ali, Ali Hussain and another invigilator, reported Dawn.

Source: muslimnews.co.uk

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BJP’s propaganda of Muslims being terrorists is negated, says Bilawal on return from India

May 5, 2023

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari hailed on Friday his trip to India as a “success”, saying that the “false propaganda” of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that every Muslim was a terrorist had been negated.

The foreign minister made these remarks upon his return to Pakistan from India, where he spoke at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) moot earlier today.

Addressing the media in Karachi, Bilawal said: “The BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (a Hindu nationalist group in India) have been trying to create this myth — they declare Muslims across the world terrorists, they declare Pakistanis terrorists.

“We made an attempt at breaking this myth.”

He added, “I believe that when the son of Shaheed Mohatarma Benazir Bhutto’s son sits before them, no matter how much they try to level such allegations, this is a reply enough for them.”

The foreign minister said his party, the PPP, forwarded Hindu candidates for provincial and federal legislatures who went on to become ministers, adding that he was “surprised” to learn that the Bharatiya Janata Party had no Muslim candidate despite India having one of the biggest Muslim population in the world.

Bilawal was also asked about Indian Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar’s comments about him, where the dignitary from New Delhi reacted to the PPP chairperson urging SCO members to refrain from “weaponising terrorism for diplomatic point scoring”.

Jaishankar said Bilawal’s address “reveals the mindset of that country. His position was found out and called out.”

To a question about Jaishankar’s remarks, the foreign minister said, “I understand there is insecurity behind this criticism.”

The reason for this insecurity, he continued, was that a “false narrative, propaganda and lie” was being spread in India, particularly by the BJP.

“By going there and speaking and presenting our stance, we broke that myth and propaganda.

“They try to give the impression that every Muslim is a terrorist so that hatred spreads there (India) and they could win elections. They try to prove that every Pakistani is a terrorist, but when Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari sits before them, their false narrative and propaganda are negated even if I say nothing,” he added.

Pressing further, FM Bilawal termed Jaishankar’s comments about him being a perpetrator of terrorism as a “joke”.

“This country knows me, have I once even in my political history accidentally sat down with a terrorist? What can I do if their hate has reached this height that they want to declare all Muslims as terrorists, even me?

“They don’t see that even in our country we (PPP) perform a role in the first ranks against appeasing terrorists,” the foreign minister said.

Bilawal said he did not want any Pakistani, Indian or citizen of any other country to fall victim to terrorism, adding that people would continue dying “until we keep politicising this issue and become part of the geopolitical game being played in the world and this region”.

The foreign minister said a “bipartisan approach across the geopolitical divide” was needed to address terrorism. “We will have to combat it together as one and will keep being victims to it if we remain divided,” he added.

He said the narrative that terrorism was linked to Muslims had become “stale” across the world and Pakistan’s sacrifices in the fight against terrorism were acknowledged by the world.

Bilawal went on to say that another “lie” that India was trying to spread was that the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions, international laws and bilateral agreements held no importance, adding that Pakistan’s representatives continued to counter India’s narrative on Kashmir.

He said that what frustrated India was the refusal of Pakistanis and Kashmiris to accept the Indian government’s actions of August 5, 2019, when it revoked occupied Kashmir’s special status, adding that the development had instead given “new life” to the Kashmir cause.

“As Pakistan’s representatives, we talk on terrorism and Kashmir, counter their (India) propaganda and one-sided message so that is why maybe the Indian FM seemed so emotional to you in his press conference,” FM Bilawal said.

He said Pakistan and India had held talks before despite instances of terrorism so the two would now have to decide “will we allow these terrorists and non-state actors to determine decisions of our citizens’ fate of or will we ourselves chart the course of our future.”

Bilawal questioned how long India could deny international laws and UNSC resolutions or how long it could run away from a plebiscite in Kashmir.

“I think the arc of history is long but ultimately it bends towards justice. We will find a solution, if we decide beforehand that we don’t like their face and won’t even go to multilateral [events] and SCO then tomorrow we won’t go to the UN or other places and will keep closing doors for ourselves.

“So this decision I made to go was in that context. We went and left a footprint, in future maybe someone else can find a solution while walking on those footprints,” he said.

The foreign minister also provided an update on Pakistan’s evacuation operations from Sudan, adding that the last batch of evacuees would reach tonight and all in all the Foreign Office had successfully managed to take out all 1,050 Pakistanis from the war-torn country.

The foreign minister also pointed towards enthusiasm in the SCO member states regarding the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (Cpec), except India, and said they were “keen” to become a part of it.

“They know it’s the fastest route to warm waters for them and their trade. This whole regional integration purpose moves forward when Cpec runs otherwise there is a difficulty.”

FM Bilawal also lauded the growing importance of the SCO forum and said it would become a “regional powerhouse” tomorrow if not today.

Earlier during the press briefing, Bilawal said he had presented Pakistan’s stance at the SCO summit, and in that regard, “I think the trip was very successful”.

‘Onus on India to build conducive environment for talks’

Earlier, speaking to journalists in India, he said that the onus was on India to build a “conducive environment for talks”, as he contended that dialogue between the two countries was hurt by New Delhi’s decision to end occupied Kashmir’s special status.

Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Bilawal said that the PPP had always advocated normalisation of relations with India but the latter’s “unilateral and illegal” actions pertaining to held Kashmir on August 5, 2019, had violated international law, United Nations resolutions and bilateral agreements.

Hence, he stated, it was Pakistan’s “principled position” that the status quo of August 4, 2019, was withdrawn as India’s actions had “really undermined the environment and now the onus is on India that they create the conducive environment in which talks can be held”.

Bilawal said there was a “trust deficit” ever since India violated previous agreements, asserting that there could be no change in the policy on diplomatic relations with India till the latter reverted to Kashmir’s position on August 4, 2019.

In response to a question on India’s decision to host G20 meetings in occupied Kashmir, he said: “Obviously we condemn it and at the time we will give such a response that it will be remembered.”

He said holding the meetings in the disputed territory showed India’s “pettiness” and was “a show of arrogance to the world that to hell with international law, UNSC resolutions and bilateral agreements, India will hold its events in Kashmir”.

FM Bilawal added that India would soon find that “they will be unable to achieve 110 per cent attendance because other people will not compromise on their morals”.

Talking about the ongoing tensions between the two countries in the realm of sports, particularly India’s refusal to visit Pakistan for Asia Cup 2023 and its demand for a neutral venue, Bilawal said: “I believe we shouldn’t hold sports hostage to politics or foreign policy and the purpose of sports is that you keep it away from such issues.”

He said it would be “very petty” of India if it kept sports hostage to politics. “The hope is that a petty action won’t be taken and we should keep our sportsmen and crickets separate from politics and foreign policy,” he added.

Responding to a question on the World Cup 2023 and if Pakistan would send its players for the tournament, the foreign minister said: “I hope that we’re in a position to not have sports suffer as a result [of our bilateral issues].”

“Peace is our destiny’

t the same time, the foreign minister also said that the two countries could not be held hostage by history.

“In our heart of hearts, most Pakistanis … and most Indians … want us to live in peace and peace is our destiny,” he said. “God willing, what could not happen in the past, our generation will not be held by history but we will create our own history.”

The foreign minister said that India and its media’s interest in his visit to Goa reflected an interest in Pakistan, reiterating that both nations desired peace, improvement in ties and mutual progress in the subcontinent.

The foreign minister hoped that when Pakistan chairs the SCO in 2026, India would take a good step to participate in the summit on the basis of “reciprocal diplomatic agreements”.

I believe the Indian foreign minister would be met with an equivalent amount of interest from the Pakistani media and people, he added.

Talking about his interactions with Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, FM Bilawal said that it was “no problem for me on camera” and that his Indian counterpart should be asked if he had any issues.

He said the way they met was similar to how people greeted each other in Sindh and Multan so “it was a moment of happiness for me that we were greeting each other the same way”.

Acknowledging the dilemma of his Indian counterpart, Bilawal said Jaishankar was “damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t” in regards to cordially greeting him.

“He greeted everyone the same way and there was no distinction in how Pakistan and how others were treated so I don’t think it is merited for us to complain.

“Whenever we meet, for dinner or anything, there are handshakes and pleasantries exchanged. We are civil, not uncivilised and fighting doesn’t start immediately as soon as we spot each other. When we are working in our professional capacity he has to present his country’s stance and I mine.”

He said that if — in the course of those professional obligations — they had a back-and-forth, it was not due to any personal issues but simply them doing their jobs.

“As for our talks with each other and dinner, I wouldn’t read too much into it,” the minister added.

FM Bilawal praised the management of the SCO function, particularly noting Pakistan’s representation in the cultural event and appreciated India’s responsibilities as the host and chair.

“I think Jaishankar sahab lived up to those duties and he didn’t let me feel at any time that there was any impact on this conference due to our bilateral differences.”

‘Let’s not weaponise terrorism for diplomatic point-scoring’

arlier in the day, the foreign minister also emphasised the importance of greater cooperation among SCO countries in tackling terrorism, calling for joint efforts to address the root causes of the issue.

“The collective security of our peoples is our joint responsibility. […] Let’s not get caught up in weaponising terrorism for diplomatic point scoring,” the Foreign Office (FO) quoted Bilawal as saying.

Bilawal’s address touched upon the issue of terrorism and Islamabad’s commitment to Afghanistan.

The FO, in a Twitter thread, quoted Bilawal as saying, “Unilateral and illegal measures by states in violation of international law and Security Council resolutions run counter to the SCO objectives”.

“When great powers play the role of peacemaker, we can unlock the potential of peace while paving the way for greater cooperation, regional integration and economic opportunities for our peoples,” he added.

Bilawal also stressed upon the SCO’s importance for Pakistan: “There couldn’t be a more powerful indication of the importance that Pakistan attaches to the SCO than my presence here in Goa for this CFM.”

The minister asserted the SCO could be a “key platform for taking the vision of Eurasian connectivity to the next level”, the FO said.

The FO further quoted him reiterating Pakistan’s belief and adherence to the “principles of mutual trust, equality, respect for cultural diversity, and the pursuit of shared development enshrined in the original ‘Shanghai Spirit’”.

The minister asserted Pakistan’s commitment to multilateralism and said it “continues to play a leading role at all international forums”.

Speaking on Afghanistan, Bilawal said, “A peaceful and stable Afghanistan is a key not only to regional integration and economic cooperation but also to global peace and stability.”

Citing Pakistan’s proposal to establish the Special Working Group on Poverty Alleviation, Bilawal advocated for closer cooperation for poverty alleviation under the SCO, the FO said.

The foreign minister once again highlighted Pakistan’s role in the global discourse on climate change. He further said, “The climate crisis poses an existential threat to humanity.”

He further highlighted the SCO’s role as an intergovernmental organisation and said the platform had promoted “mutual understanding, security and development through constructive and mutually beneficial cooperation”.

The FO also shared a photo of Jaishankar welcoming Bilawal to today’s CFM meeting. A video of the occasion shows the Indian minister welcoming Bilawal with a Namaste — a customary Indian gesture of respectfully greeting a person — and the latter reciprocating it.

Indian FM highlights ‘menace of terrorism’

eanwhile, Indian Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar, in his address to the SCO meeting, highlighted the issue of cross-border terrorism.

According to the Hindustan Times, Jaishankar said: “While the world was engaged in facing Covid and its consequences, the menace of terrorism continues unabated. Taking our eyes off this menace would be detrimental to our security interests.

“We firmly believe that there can be no justification for terrorism and it must be stopped in all its forms and manifestations, including cross-border terrorism,” Jaishankar said.

He further called for the “channel of activities for terrorist activities” to be “seized and blocked without distinction”.

The Indian news agency quoted the minister as saying, “Members need not be reminded that combating terrorism is one of the original mandates of the SCO.”

Jaishankar noted that the unfolding situation in Afghanistan following the Taliban’s return to power “remains at the centre of our attention”, adding that the efforts should be directed towards the welfare of the Afghan people, the Hindustan Times said.

Bilawal meets his Tajikistani counterpart

n the sidelines of the SCO meeting, Bilawal met Tajikistani Foreign Minister SirojiddinMuhriddin, the FO said in a statement.

The ministers discussed a broad spectrum of bilateral relations and agreed to further strengthen economic ties and the early completion of connectivity projects, in particular, the CASA-1000, the FO said.

Bilawal also shared a video from the meeting, which showed the ministers participating in the meeting along with their delegations.

Along with the subject of economic cooperation, Bilawal said he also discussed the regional situation around Afghanistan.

The FO shared a group photo of the foreign ministers attending the SCO meeting today. The SCO comprises eight member states — Pakistan, India, China, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

Visit to India

 day ago, on the first day of his visit to India, Bilawal had met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, SCO Secretary General Zhang Ming, and Uzbek Foreign Minister BakhtiyorSaidov, the FO had said on Twitter.

Following his arrival, the minister had said he was “happy” to be arriving in Goa for the SCO and that he expected the CFM meeting to be “successful”.

Bilawal’s trip is the first visit to India by a foreign minister of Pakistan since July 2011, when then-foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar visited for peace talks.

The visit comes at a time when the relationship between the two nuclear-armed arch-rivals has nosedived over a combination of factors.

Pakistan has already made it clear that the foreign minister during his visit will not hold any bilateral meeting with his Indian counterpart.

Bilawal has also dismissed speculation surrounding his upcoming trip, saying it should not be interpreted as a sign of improved bilateral ties between the two neighbouring countries.

He clarified that he had not requested a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, emphasising that the visit should be seen in the context of the SCO meeting.

In addition to deliberating upon important regional and international issues and signing some of the institutional documents, the CFM will finalise the agenda and decisions to be adopted by the 17th SCO Council of Heads of State Meeting, scheduled to take place in New Delhi on July 3-4, 2023.

Source: dawn.com

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1751042/bjps-propaganda-of-muslims-being-terrorists-is-negated-says-bilawal-on-return-from-india

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Toshakhana case: IHC declares NAB notices to Imran, Bushra Bibi illegal

May 6, 2023

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Saturday declared the notices issued by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to PTI Chairman Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi illegal.

The notices were related to an inquiry against the couple for allegedly “illegally” retaining Toshakhana gifts.

The Toshakhana is a department responsible for storing gifts and other precious items given to Pakistani public officials and is under the control of the Cabinet Division. Imran has faced a number of legal issues over his retention of gifts mentioned in the NAB notice. The issue led to his disqualification by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in the past. Imran is also set to be indicted in a separate case related to the Toshakhana gifts by the Islamabad High Court on May 10.

Earlier this month, Imran and Bushra had challenged the NAB case against them, which accused them of retaining and “illegally” selling Toshakhana gifts. On February 17, NAB had issued notices to Imran and Bushra for retaining state gifts.

The anti-corruption watchdog had sought details from Imran about wristwatches and a mobile phone presented to him by various foreign dignitaries. NAB also asked for details about jewellery sets presented to Bushra, including a Rolex watch, a gold and diamond locket presented by the Emir of Qatar, and two necklace sets gifted by the Saudi crown prince on September 18, 2020, and May 21, 2021, respectively.

In its verdict issued today, the court acknowledged that the deputy prosecutor general of NAB might have been correct in taking a certain position, as the petitioners did not appear in response to the notices. However, the court noted that the notices “were not in conformity with the law”.

The verdict, co-authored by IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Babar Sattar, said: “In view of the above, the instant petitions are disposed of with observations that the impugned notices are not in accordance with the law and having no legal effect.”

The court also observed that NAB “shall be at liberty” to issue fresh notices to the petitioners in line with the court’s observations.

Imran’s plea

In a petition before the IHC filed through his attorney Khawaja Haris Ahmed and Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, the former prime minister and his wife had pleaded that NAB had issued the notice in violation of Section 19 of the National Accountability Ordinance.

“The contents of the call-up notice unambiguously establish that the respo­n­dent [NAB] had, through their impu­gned notice, initiated a fishing exercise, rather than complying with the provision of law before issuing the same,” the petitions said. It requested the court to declare the NAB notice illegal.

The NAB’s call-up notice, signed by its additional director Mohammad Faisal Qureshi, earlier sent to Imran’s Banigala residence in Islamabad, was issued on Feb 17.

The notice said: “The competent authority has taken cognisance of an offence allegedly committed by the accused persons under the provisions of NAO, 1999.

“In this regard, the inquiry proceedings have revealed that during your tenure in office you retained some state gifts presented to you by various foreign dignitaries including the following luxury items — five Rolex wristwatches; one iPhone presented by Chief of Staff, Qatar Armed Forces, dated 14.11.2018; (No. E67574V3), a pair of cufflinks, one ring; unstitched cloth from Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia dated 18.09.2020; Graff gift set containing one Graff wristwatch Master Graff Special Edition Mecca timepiece, one 18K gold and diamond Graff pen and a ring and pair of cufflinks with micro-painting of Mecca,” the according to the notice.

Source: dawn.com

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South Asia

 

Interior Minister Haqqani: Our Behaviour Should Not Be Such That People Hate Islam

May 5, 2023

Haqqani, who was speaking at the ceremony to introduce the new governor of Kandahar, warned that any kind of harsh behaviour makes people hate Islam.

“With our behaviour, people should love Islam and get interested in it, not that we make Islam so much hated that people run away from us,” Haqqani said.

The Minister of Interior also added that there is no ethnic discrimination among the forces of the Islamic Emirate and emphasized that the Islamic Emirate will always move forward unitedly as it has been for the past 20 years.

“It is not that the mujahid of Kandahar is superior. There is leadership here. By your good performance, the leader becomes good and your history is honored. With your poor performance, people will also be suspicious of the leadership,” Haqqani said.

Based on the new decree of the IEA leader, more than 13 government officials have been appointed or reshuffled. Muhammad Ali Hanafi, known as Mullah Shirin, has been appointed as the governor of Kandahar.

Source: ariananews.af

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UK PMRishi SunakAdmires BangladeshSheikh Hasinaas A 'Role Model', Source Of Inspiration

Sat May 6, 2023

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has lauded Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as a "role model" and a great source of inspiration for him.

"My wife and two daughters are your fans," Sunak told Hasina during a 35-minute bilateral meeting they held yesterday at the Marlborough House of the Commonwealth Secretariat in London.

This was the first meeting of the two prime ministers after Sunak took office last year.

Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK SaidaMunaTasneem briefed reporters after the meeting. PM's Speech Writer M Nazrul Islam was also present during the briefing.

Hasina is in now London to attend the coronation of King Charles III.

According to the high commissioner Sunak praised Bangladesh's economic growth and Hasina's leadership.

Sunak wanted to know the secret behind the achievement of such a high economic growth before and after the Covid-19 pandemic, SaidaMuna said.

The envoy said that Sunak told the meeting that he has been following the Bangladesh prime minister for so many years.

"You are such a successful economic leader, "SaidaMuna quoted Sunak as telling his Bangladesh counterpart.

She said the British PM praised the economic growth in Bangladesh under Hasina's leadership.

"Political, diplomatic and economic relations are excellent and the relationship between the two countries is based on mutual trust," she said.

"Rishi Sunak himself said that our relationship is very good. We have a wonderful relationship of 50 years. (In the future) it will be better," said the envoy.

SaidaMuna said Britain attaches great importance to Bangladesh relations. Heads of state and government from 130 countries have come to the UK to attend the King's coronation.

"Among them, Rishi Sunak has held bilateral meetings with the heads of state and government of only seven countries. Our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was among them, which is very important diplomatically and politically," said SaidaMuna.

During the meeting the two PMs discussed various bilateral and regional issues, including the Rohingyas, who have been forced out of Myanmar to take refuge in Bangladesh.

The envoy said, "Rishi Sunak mentioned that Bangladesh is carrying this huge burden, and Britain understands that it is a big problem."

Sheikh Hasina thanked the British prime minister and people for their support to the Rohingya issue. She also said that Rohingyas have become a big security threat.

She invited Sunak to visit Bangladesh to see the condition of the Rohingyas, the citizens of Myanmar.

Sunak praised Hasina's leadership also on the issue of climate change issue.

PM Hasina said British companies should make bigger investment in Bangladesh.

Source: thedailystar.net

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US State Dept Spokesperson's Remarks on Recognition of Islamic Emirate

05-05-23

“What Special Representative West was referring to was that there continue to persist a number of issues in Afghanistan that make – that the Afghan people – that makes life for the Afghan people challenging and difficult that need to be addressed prior to any kind of international engagement or recognition to take place as it relates to the Taliban,” Patel said.

Speaking at the press briefing, Patel said that some examples of these challenges are the “continued presence of terrorist organizations, the lack of inclusivity, especially as it relates to human rights – specifically human rights and its impact on women and girls. Many of these areas have been undermined recently by decisions by the Taliban.”

Meanwhile, the Germany in Afghanistan on Twitter said that the international community will not recognize the current Afghan government unless it moves on women’s rights and create an inclusive government.

“The International community stands united in its stance towards the DFA. No recognition unless the DFA moves on women‘s rights, inclusive government, unhindered humanitarian access and other issues!,” Germany in Afghanistan tweeted.

"One of the conditions for recognition of the present government of Afghanistan is that they respect human rights, address women's rights, and provide a framework for all activities for women,” said Najibullah Shamal, a political analyst.

However, the head of the Islamic Emirate's Qatar-based political office, Suhail Shaheen, said that the Islamic Emirate wants to be recognized by the international community.

"Sadly, some nations use sanctions on Afghanistan as a way to put pressure on the country, from which the people suffer. On the other hand, they are promoting human rights, which contradicts one another,” Shaheen noted.

Previously, the US special envoy for Afghanistan, Thomas West, referring to the Doha meeting, said the solution of the current challenges in Afghanistan is in political dialogue between Afghans.

Source: tolonews.com

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https://tolonews.com/afghanistan-183238

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Participants of SCO Meeting Urge Kabul to Ensure Inclusive Govt

05-05-23

They were speaking at the day-long meeting of foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the Indian coastal resort state of Goa, just ahead of a meeting scheduled over the weekend in Pakistan between the foreign ministers of Pakistan, China and Afghanistan.

Speaking at the meeting, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said that “the unfolding situation in Afghanistan remains at the center of our attention. Our efforts should be directed towards the welfare of the Afghan people.”

"Our immediate priorities include providing humanitarian assistance, ensuring a truly inclusive and representative government, combating terrorism and drug trafficking, and preserving the rights of women, children and minorities," Jaishankar said.

Russia's Sergei Lavrov said Moscow expected the current Afghan government to "deliver on their promises to come up with an inclusive government".

"The assurances that were given in regards of human rights, security in the territory of Afghanistan, and the eradication of terrorist threats, drug trafficking, we are keeping an eye on this," Lavrov said.

Pakistan's foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that ensuring peace in Afghanistan is the key to peace in the region and the world.

“A peaceful and stable Afghanistan is a key not only to regional integration and economic cooperation but also to global peace and stability,” Zardari said.

"The absence of the formation of an inclusive government will challenge Afghanistan's stable security perspective in the future,” said Mehdi Manadi, a political analyst.

In reaction to this meeting, Suhail Shaheen, the head of the Islamic Emirate's political office in Qatar, said that there should be discussion regarding the solution of the country's present issues and the recognition of the Islamic Emirate in every meeting on Afghanistan.

"The current sanctions imposed on Afghanistan should be lifted, the foreign exchange reserves of the Afghanistan Bank should be returned, and the present government should be recognized," Shaheen said.

China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and India are all permanent members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), whereas Afghanistan is a member as an observer.

Source: tolonews.com

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Work Suspension Ends for Afghan UN Employees in Country

05-05-23

Farhan Haq, deputy spokesperson for the Secretary-General, told a press briefing that the results of the review of the suspension of the employees of this organization in Afghanistan will be made public once it is completed.

“At this stage, we’re waiting for the review to be completed.  And once that’s happened, we’ll be able to share what the results of that are. We’ll try to provide the information as quick as we get it.  I don’t know honestly when that will be.  We’re waiting for the results just like you are.  And once we have them, we’ll share them,” Farhan Haq said.

The United Nations has 23 offices in Afghanistan that operate in various sectors, including: The UN Assistant Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

"The United Nations is a bridge between Afghanistan and the rest of the world in addition to providing humanitarian aid,” said Tariq Farhadi, a political analyst.

The Ministry of Economy noted that UN can play a significant role in reducing poverty in Afghanistan.

"The United Nations can play a significant role in reducing poverty through humanitarian aid, but provided it is not influenced by big powers in the internal affairs of Afghanistan," said Abdul Latif Nazari, deputy minister of economy.

In a press conference on Tuesday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres described the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan as "challenging" and noted that 6.4% of the assistance requested by the organization has been collected for Afghanistan.

Source: tolonews.com

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Afghan Delegation Leaves for Iran to Participate in 5G Summit

May 6, 2023

Acting Public Health Minister Dr QalandarEbad, Deputy Minister of Finance Mawlavi Mohammad Ishaq Sahibzada, and a few other officials travelled to Iran to attend the G5 conference, according to a statement from the Public Health Ministry.

According to the ministry, the delegation will discuss cooperation in the health sector at the summit.

Currently, the health situation in the country is a matter of concern and lack of medical equipment, human capacity, vaccines and financial issues.

According to the recent World Health Organization report of emergency health service, over 828,000 acute respiratory infections (ARI) were newly reported.

Since October 2022, of the total 4,353,661 ARI cases reported, representing 13.3% of the total population of Afghanistan, 45.1% have afflicted children under five years of age. In addition, ARI cases have increased since 2022 compared to the average of the previous three years.

The report estimated that 17 % of adults experienced mild to moderate psychological disorders, including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The document stated that February was a prolific month in providing health services to the Afghan people.

The organization said that it committed in 2023 to reach its target and continue to provide healthcare services to the people of Afghanistan.

“With the target for 2023 of 15.6 million people, WHO, with its partners, has continued to build up the effort to ensure access to essential healthcare services throughout the country, including remote and hard-to-reach areas,” the report read.

“By the end of February, WHO established 185 primary healthcare facilities in underserved/white areas across 26 provinces, in which over 220,000 people received services. In addition, WHO distributed more than 2800 cubic meters (CBM) of medical and non-medical supplies to the partners in response to ongoing health emergencies,” the report stated.

According to the report in February, over 828,000 acute respiratory infections (ARI) were newly reported. Since October 2022, of the total 4,353,661 ARI cases reported, representing 13.3% of the total population of Afghanistan, 45.1% have afflicted children under five years of age. In addition, ARI cases have increased since 2022 compared to the average of the previous three years.

The report estimated that 17 % of adults experienced mild to moderate psychological disorders, including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

However, more than 200 trauma centres will close, leaving more than 250,000 people without access to trauma care. Over 3.5 million individuals won’t have access to lifesaving care, and more than 400 mobile health teams will stop operating.

There will be no safe deliveries, postpartum care, or antenatal care for more than 290,000 pregnant women. The report stated that this would restrict the 1.5 million reproductive-age women’s access to reproductive health treatments in Afghanistan.

Since the Taliban took over the country, they introduced harsh suppressive policies against women. As a result, the restrictions have created obstacles for the International organization to provide healthcare services in the country, particularly in remote areas.

Source: khaama.com

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China Calls Pakistan to Coordinate in Rebuilding Afghanistan

May 6, 2023

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang proposed that coordination efforts for the reconstruction of Afghanistan should be stepped up, he said while meeting with Pakistani President Arif Alvi in Islamabad on Saturday.

“China is ready to strengthen communication and coordination with Pakistan on the Afghan issue and to contribute to the process of peaceful reconstruction of Afghanistan jointly,” the minister was quoted by TASS.

According to him, Beijing is working together to promote regional stability and development.

Arif Alvi received greetings from Chinese President Xi Jinping through Qin Gang, who further noted that China and Pakistan are strategic allies that support comprehensive cooperation in any circumstance.

China’s Foreign Minister Ganq is on a two-day visit to Pakistan to attend trilateral talks on Afghanistan since May 5.

Meanwhile, the trilateral meeting will occur among China, Pakistan and Afghanistan today, May 6.

One of the crucial aspects of the meeting would be to engage Afghanistan in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi, the acting foreign minister for Afghanistan, began a visit to Pakistan on May 5 and will stay there through May 8, according to the Pakistani Foreign Ministry.

It also said that apart from holding bilateral meetings, the acting Afghan foreign minister will participate in the 5th China-Pakistan-Afghanistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue on May 6.

The focus of the meeting will be strengthening the bilateral relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Afghanistan is important for China’s massive One Belt One Road initiative and can serve as a bridge between South and Central Asia. In addition, the country has untapped mineral riches worth billions of dollars, increasing regional countries’ interest in investing, including China.

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/china-calls-pakistan-to-coordinate-in-rebuilding-afghanistan/

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Over 170 Retribution Verditcs Issued in Afghanistan: IEA Supreme Court

May 5, 2023

Abdul Malik Haqqani, the Administrative Deputy of the Islamic Emirate’s supreme court, said on Thursday, May 4, via a video call that Taliban leadership is committed to carrying on the execution of the sentence of retribution in Afghanistan.

“Taliban courts have issued 175 retribution cases, 79 floggings, and 37 Stoning thus far throughout the country,” the official in a video call said.

He further added, Taliban courts have implemented Sharia limits on 103 people and has considered punishment for 1562 other people allegedly accused of different crimes.

Certain verdicts have already been implemented and others will be executed in the coming future, the court official stated.

Meanwhile, the sentence of retribution was implemented for the first time after the return of the Islamic Emirate to Afghanistan last year on a person in Farah province.

Afghanistan’s de facto authorities have implemented strict Islamic Sharia laws including public execution, flogging, and stoning in different parts of the country. The move prompted widespread condemnations from the international community and human rights groups. 

Source: khaama.com

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'China mediating between Bangladesh, Myanmar'

Sat May 6, 2023

Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Yao Wen today said China, as a responsible major country, has been "unswervingly mediating" between Bangladesh and Myanmar to promote the repatriation of the Rohingyas to their homeland.

"A local friend once told me sincerely that many people provide lip-services, but only China is actually doing practical things to proceed with the repatriation," he said.

The ambassador was delivering keynote speech at a symposium as part of the Cosmos Dialogue Ambassadors' Lecture Series titled "Bangladesh-China Relations: Prognosis for the Future" at hotel in Dhaka.

The discussion was chaired and conducted by President, Cosmos Foundation and former foreign affairs advisor Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury.

Chairman of Cosmos Foundation Enayetullah Khan delivered the welcome remarks.

Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar and Bhasan Char.

A 27-member delegation including 20 Rohingyas visited Myanmar's Rakhine on Friday to see the preparation to resettle the possible returnees. They visited 15 villages and other infrastructure built for the Rohingyas.

Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, also the leader of the delegation said, "We returned with 20 Rohingyas after visiting the arrangements made for them around Maungdaw town. I have seen the goodwill of the Myanmar government regarding repatriation. We want to start repatriation."

Ambassador Yao said Bangladesh and China have always firmly supported each other on issues of core interests.

"We both pursue an independent diplomacy for peace. We support each other in safeguarding sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national dignity," he said.

The Chinese envoy said they coordinate and cooperate in regional and international affairs, and jointly oppose external interference.

"We have never accused each other on issues such as democracy and human rights. China appreciates Bangladesh's long-term and firm support for the one-China principle," he said.

Vice Dean for Research, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, Singapore Professor Kanti Bajpai, Senior Fellow and Secretary General of China and South Asia, Center Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (SIIS), China Liu Zongyi, Professor, Institute of International Studies, Fudan University, China Lin Minwang, Assistant Research Fellow, Institute for International Strategic and Security Studies, SIIS, China LI Hongmei, former Bangladesh High Commissioner to India and the United States Tariq A Karim took part as discussants at the dialogue.

Source: thedailystar.net

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Dhaka-London sign pact to develop Bangladesh's aviation sector

Sat May 6, 2023

Dhaka and London on Friday signed a joint communique to establish an "Aviation Partnership" for the necessary cooperation in the development of Bangladesh's aviation sector, including the purchase of passenger and cargo aircraft from Airbus.

Prime Minister's Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman and UK's Investment Minister Lord Dominic Johnson signed the agreement in London, according to a statement of the Bangladesh High Commission in the UK.

Prime Minister's Principal Secretary M Tofazzal Hossain Mia and UK Prime Minister's Trade Envoy to Bangladesh Rushanara Ali were present during the signing ceremony.

The statement said Bangladesh's trade and investment relations with UK and the other European partners of Airbus will be strengthened along with the development of Bangladesh's aviation industry through this initiative.

"Bangladesh can also get long-term credit facilities from UK Export Finance scheme on easy terms for the purchase of aircraft from Airbus," it said.

After signing the agreement, Salman F Rahman expressed his satisfaction and said that as a result of this initiative, a long term and effective relationship can be established between Airbus and Bangladesh Biman through which the current relationship between Bangladesh, UK, France, Germany, and EU can be strengthened further.

UK Investment Minister Lord Dominic Johnson in a tweet said that Bangladesh's aviation industry will be strengthened through an effective Aviation Partnership and new jobs will be created in both countries.

Source: thedailystar.net

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Southeast Asia

 

Indonesian Officials Work To Rescue 20 Trafficking Victims In Myanmar

5th May, 2023

Indonesian officials said Friday they were working to rescue dozens of their nationals who were trafficked to Myanmar to work as cyber scammers, amid an increase in human trafficking cases in Southeast Asia.

At least 20 Indonesian job seekers are trapped in Myawaddytownship, the site of an armed conflict between Myanmar's military and ethnic Karen rebels, said JudhaNugraha, an official in Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry. Myawaddy is in eastern Kayin state along the Thai border.

According to Nugraha, fake recruiters offered the victims high-paying jobs in Thailand but instead trafficked them to Myawaddy, about 567 kilometers (352 miles) south of Naypyidaw, the capital, to perform cyber scams for crypto websites or apps.

The Indonesian Migrant Worker Union, a nonprofit group, said some victims were tortured when they failed to reach certain targets and forced to pay more than $10,000 in travel costs. Authorities said the victims were likely trafficked to Myanmar by illegal means since no records can be found of their arrival in Myanmar’s immigration system.

“The challenges on the ground are indeed high as authorities in Myanmar face difficulties entering Myawaddy since rebels have taken over the region,” Nugraha said.

Indonesian officials are working with authorities in Naypyidaw, Myawaddy and Thailand, and have asked for assistance from other organizations to help get the victims out of the area safely, he said.

Indonesia’s Foreign Minister RetnoMarsudi told a news conference on Friday that the government has worked on 1,841 human trafficking cases in the past three years where victims are Indonesians who were duped into online scams.

That number includes 1,138 Indonesians who were repatriated from Cambodia last year, Marsudi said.

“From this number, you can see the magnitude of human trafficking related to online scams whose victims are ASEAN citizens,” she said, adding that victims from several nations are involved in the latest case.

Marsudi said the government is also working to help Indonesian victims of online scams in Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and the Philippines.

She said the Indonesian Embassy in Manila said Friday that Philippine authorities have rescued more than 1,000 trafficking victims from 10 countries, including 143 Indonesians, who will be repatriated to their countries of origin.

“As the chair of ASEAN this year, Indonesia is trying to raise this issue at the 42nd ASEAN Summit,” Marsudi said.

ASEAN includes Brunei, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippine, Singapore and Thailand. Indonesia will host the bloc’s leaders' meeting in May 10-11 in Labuan Bajo on Flores island.

(Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from a syndicated feed; only the image & headline may have been reworked by www.republicworld.com)

Source: republicworld.com

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Cops Arrest Woman, 34, For Allegedly Uploading Seditious Video AgainstPerak Sultan

06 May 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, May 6 — The police have arrested a woman, 34, for allegedly uploading a seditious video against the Sultan of Perak on the TikTok account @ijaheartfarizahwhitenew on Monday.

Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) secretary DatukNoorsiah Mohd Saaduddin said in a statement yesterday that the woman was arrested in a parking lot in Klang, Selangor yesterday.

“The police also seized a Vivo Y15A mobile phone and two SIM cards.

“The case is being investigated by the Bukit Aman Criminal Investigations Department’s Classified Crimes Investigation Unit, D5 Division under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948 and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998,” she said, adding that a remand order for the suspect will be applied tomorrow.

She also advised the public to not misuse social media or any communications network by issuing statements that could disrupt public order and safety. — Bernama

Source: malaymail.com

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AsyrafWajdi: Support of 148 MPs for unity government still intact

05 May 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, May 5 ― The support of the 148 Members of Parliament (MPs) who signed the cooperation agreement to establish the unity government is intact, said DatukAsyrafWajdiDusuki.

The head of the unity government secretariat also denied claims that the government is not strong, saying that discussions or negotiations between all parties are held every week.

“The support from all 148 MPs who signed the unity government MoU (memorandum of understanding) is intact. This is not a one-man show (and) no single party dominates the others. We always have room to communicate.

“It’s normal for some to feel uneasy with our strength. Actually, they are jealous because they did not get to form the government first,” he said at a press conference on the unity government National Convention at MenaraDatoOnn here today.

Local media previously reported that Bersatu Supreme Council member Dr Muhammad Faiz Na’aman had hinted at the movement to overthrow the Unity Government when he wrote ‘126’ in a Facebook post.

Meanwhile, AsyrafWajdi, who is also Umno secretary-general, said negotiations for seat distributions for the six state elections had been very positive despite overlapping claims.

“So far, the cooperation between BarisanNasional (BN) and PakatanHarapan (PH) seems to be very good. There are overlapping claims because BN used to contest against PH and vice versa.

“However, discussions and negotiations are ongoing and based on the report we received just now, I can say they have been very positive and constructive,” he said.

On February 22, the menteribesar and chief ministers of the six states ― Selangor, Penang, Negeri Sembilan, Kedah, Terengganu and Kelantan ― agreed to consider dissolving their respective state assemblies in the last two weeks of June to make way for the state elections. ― Bernama

Source: malaymail.com

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Indonesia’s economy beats forecasts on consumer, gov’t spending

5 May 2023

Indonesia’s economic growth held steady in the first quarter as improving consumption and government spending offset a slowdown in exports and investment in South East Asia’s largest economy.

Gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 5.03 percent in the January to March quarter from a year earlier, data from Statistics Indonesia showed on Friday. That was quicker than the 4.95 percent median forecast in a Reuters news agency poll and compared with 5.01 percent growth in the fourth quarter.

Indonesia’s post-pandemic recovery has been helped by a commodities-led export boom, though analysts expect economic momentum to cool as commodity prices ease and monetary policy tightening around the world hits global demand.

Bank Indonesia’s (BI) monetary tightening, including interest rate hikes totalling 225 basis points between August and January to fight inflation, could also hit domestic demand.

The central bank has paused tightening since and some economists expect it to keep interest rates unchanged for the rest of the year, although others argued concerns over growth may push BI to ease later this year.

In January to March, growth in household consumption, which accounts for more than half of GDP, picked up slightly to 4.54 percent, compared with 4.48 percent in the previous three months, while government spending rose 4 percent against a contraction previously.

Meanwhile, export growth softened to 11.68 percent from nearly 15 percent in the fourth quarter. The statistics bureau said exports of Indonesia’s main products such as coal, palm oil and metals had remained strong.

Investment also slowed.

“We think the economy is set to struggle over the coming quarters,” Capital Economics’s analyst Gareth Leather said in a note on the data, underlining weakening exports and the effect of BI’s tightening on demand.

The central bank estimates Indonesia’s economic growth will be at the upper end of a 4.5 to 5.3 percent range, down from 5.3 percent in 2022.

Transportation, warehousing and hospitality sectors recorded the fastest year-on-year growth in the first quarter.

Source: aljazeera.com

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Indonesia quietly engaging key stakeholders in Myanmar crisis – foreign minister

May 05, 2023

JAKARTA: Indonesia has for months been quietly engaging key stakeholders in Myanmar’s conflict, as well as neighbors India, Thailand and China in an effort to kick-start a peace process as violence intensifies, its foreign minister said on Friday.

RetnoMarsudi earlier said that Indonesia, as chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), had launched a quiet effort to make a breakthrough in the crisis, with its diplomats having held more than 60 “engagements” with all parties involved.

Those included the junta, ethnic minority armies, and a pro-democracy shadow government, she said.

Speaking later at a press conference, Retno said it was vital to secure the trust of all those involved.

“Indonesia is using non-megaphone diplomacy, this aims to build trust with all stakeholders, so they want to talk to us,” she said.

“Quiet diplomacy does not mean we did not do anything. In fact, for the past four months, Indonesia has done many things.”

The Indonesian move is the first major effort to bring to the table all the key players in Myanmar’s conflict and push for the implementation of a peace “consensus” that its top general agreed with the bloc two years ago.

“We tried to be as inclusive as possible,” Retno said. “Indonesia continues trying to play a bridging role to reduce a deep and sharp gap among the stakeholders.”

Representatives of the Myanmar junta and two armed ethnic groups did not respond to requests for comment.

A spokesperson for the NUG said it is cooperating with the ASEAN chair as it is “trying for a peace dialogue.”

An Indonesian foreign ministry official confirmed the move to engage all stakeholders had the support of ASEAN members.

Myanmar has been wracked by violence and economic turmoil since the military seized power in a coup in 2021 and launched a violent crackdown on opponents, some of whom fled overseas to form a government-in-exile, the National Unity Government (NUG).

Others joined armed resistance groups nationwide, which are allied with the NUG and some of the ethnic minority armies in fighting the junta.

ASEAN leaders have been losing patience with the junta over its failure to implement the peace consensus and its continued attacks on opponents. The bloc has since late 2021 banned the junta from attending its high-level meetings until progress is demonstrated.

Discussing next week’s ASEAN leaders summit, Retno confirmed Myanmar’s generals would again be barred.

She also said Indonesia had hosted 195 ASEAN meetings so far, which were dominated by concerns over the Myanmar conflict and regional tensions between rival powers the United States and China.

Alongside Indonesia’s quiet diplomacy, government and think-tank representatives from Myanmar and its neighbors, including India and China, held talks in New Delhi late last month as part of a secretive effort to resolve the Myanmar crisis.

Source: arabnews.com

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Mideast

 

Iranian Sunni Cleric Rebukes Islamic Republic for Execution ofBaluch Minorities

05-05-23

Iran’s most senior Sunni cleric has slammed the new wave of executions of Baluch minorities, with more than 110 people executed during the past four months.

During his Friday prayer sermon, MowlaviAbdolhamid spoke of the growing number executions of the oppressed community, based on allegations of drug charges.The outspoken cleric blamed the regime for sham trials, claiming the charges are simply a pretext to avenge widespread protests in the Sistan-Baluchestan province, home to the majority of the Baluch population.

While Abdolhamid acknowledged the negative impacts of drugs, he said those affected are often forced into using or selling drugs due to the dire economic situation in the poverty-stricken province, Iran's poorest.

"In Sistan and Baluchistan, there is no water for agriculture, the weather is hot and there are no jobs," he said. Slamming the government's lack of support for the province, which has a population of around 4 million, including 700,000 Afghan nationals, he said: "Has the government created factories and workshops for the people? Have you used the capacities of mines and beaches? In which sector did you create a job that you are now executing people?... If you created jobs for people, many people would not go for it,” he said.

Abdolhamid pointed out that a large number of those executed on drug-related charges are for sales amounting to as little as $15 to $20.

Given the region's high rate of unemployment and lack of proper infrastructure, smuggling fuel, goods and in some cases, drugs are their only lifeline.

Source: iranintl.com

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Israel requests Saudi allow direct Hajj flights for its Muslim Palestinian citizens

May 5, 2023

Israel has requested the authorities in Saudi Arabia to arrange direct flights for its Muslim Palestinian citizens who want to make the Hajj pilgrimage, which takes place next month, as a potential step towards normalising relations.

Israel's Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen, said on Wednesday that a request was submitted and "this issue is under discussion."

"I cannot tell you if there is any progress," he said in an interview with Israel's Army Radio, according to the Reuters news agency. "But I am optimistic that we can advance peace with Saudi Arabia."

It comes after the centrist leader of the opposition, YairLapid, said in March that as prime minister last year, he secured Saudi consent for what would be the first direct Hajj flights from Israel.

Muslims from Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories currently travel to Makkah through third-party countries, which causes additional costs and inconvenience.

Despite there being no formal diplomatic relations between Tel Aviv and Riyadh, there has been growing speculation that Saudi Arabia will follow Gulf states the UAE and Bahrain in normalising ties with the occupation state.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has voiced his hopes that the kingdom will be the next Arab state to sign the so-called Abraham Accords. In December last year, he took to Saudi Arabian state television to claim that normalisation was key to peace between Israel and Palestine.

While Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir told the American Jewish Committee that "Normalisation between Saudi Arabia and Israel is only a matter of time."

Source: middleeastmonitor.com

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https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20230505-israel-requests-saudi-allow-direct-hajj-flights-for-its-muslim-palestinian-citizens/

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Iran and Syria vow to strengthen ties as Raisi wraps up Damascus visit

May 5, 2023

Damascus – Iran and Syria agreed to boost ties and develop economic relations, with a focus on reconstruction, as the Islamic republic’s President Ebrahim Raisi on Friday concluded a landmark visit to Damascus.

Tehran has been a key ally to Damascus throughout Syria’s long-running war, offering vital economic and military assistance that has helped the Syrian government claw back most of the territory it lost at the start of the conflict.

During late-night talks Thursday, Raisi and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad discussed “ways to develop and strengthen bilateral relations” and “emphasised existing cooperation in the field of reconstruction”, according to a joint statement released Friday.

Raisi concluded his two-day trip early Friday and had described the visit, the first by an Iranian president to Syria since 2010, as a “turning point” in the neighbours’ bilateral relations.

The visit positions Tehran in a leading role in Syria’s reconstruction, with Assad seeking to focus on reviving his country’s devastated economy and infrastructure, despite Western sanctions on both countries.

The pair also expressed a “willingness to take any action to develop commercial-economic relations”.

On Thursday, Raisi said Iran and Syria had signed 15 “cooperation documents” that would allow “both countries to open a new chapter in economic relations”.

He also praised Syria for “achieving victory” in the country’s war and invited Assad, who farewelled him at Damascus airport, to officially visit Tehran.

The Syrian conflict was sparked by the repression of peaceful protesters in 2011 and has killed more than 500,000 people and displaced millions.

Large parts of northern Syria remain outside of government control.

Raisi’s visit comes weeks after Iran and arch-rival Saudi Arabia agreed to restore ties, prompting regional capitals to re-engage with the internationally isolated Damascus and Tehran governments.

On Sunday, Arab League foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting, discussing the conflict in Sudan and Syria’s readmission to the bloc, after it was suspended in 2011 for its brutal crackdown on protesters.

Source: iraqinews.com

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https://www.iraqinews.com/arab-world-news/iran-and-syria-vow-to-strengthen-ties-as-raisi-wraps-up-damascus-visit/

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NGO: Israel closes prison sections of Islamic Jihad detainees

May 5, 2023

The Israeli prisons administration has closed all sections in prisons and detention centres where Islamic Jihad prisoners are held.

The Mohjat Al-Quds Foundation for the Martyrs, a Palestinian non-governmental organisation, said in a statement that the Israeli occupation prison administration has also prevented Islamic Jihad prisoners from seeking medical care in prison clinics, moving between sections, or mixing with other prisoners.

Palestinian prisoners from other factions have protested the Israeli authorities' measures against the Islamic Jihad detainees, refusing to leave their cells, according to the same source.

The prison service's decision came on the pretext that it had received warnings about the prisoners' plan to carry out reprisals in response to the death of Palestinian hunger striker, Khader Adnan.

Prisoners carried out a series of protests in following Adnan's death, including returning meals, stopping all aspects of daily activities, and informing the prison administration that mourning would be open until the perpetrators responsible for the crime committed against Adnan are held accountable.

Adnan, a resident of the town of Arraba in Jenin, northern occupied West Bank, died at dawn on Tuesday, after a hunger strike that lasted 86 days, in protest of his unjust arrest and demanding his freedom.

Source: middleeastmonitor.com

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https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20230505-ngo-israel-closes-prison-sections-of-islamic-jihad-detainees/

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Coalition likely to okay nationalist Flag March through Muslim Quarter – official

By JACOB MAGID

5 May 2023

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline government will likely allow a controversial nationalist march through the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City later this month, despite fears that the provocative move could aggravate tensions with Palestinians, a senior Israeli official told The Times of Israel on Friday.

The heavily guarded Jerusalem Day Flag March has become an increasingly combustible issue for Israel, drawing tens of thousands of national religious youth to mark the anniversary of Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War.

Two years ago, the march played a role in sparking a brief war with Gaza-based terrorists, and last year saw sporadic clashes and hundreds of participants filmed chanting “Death to Arabs” and other racist and Islamophobic slogans.

This year’s rally is scheduled to take place on Thursday May 18.

The senior Israeli official speculated that the march would be held on its original route, confirming a Friday report by Channel 12 news.

That report cited the current government’s lack of political maneuverability on the issue; moving the route — when former prime ministerNaftali Bennett left it in place last year — would harm its image as an authentic right-wing alternative to the previous government.

In the past two years, the Biden administration has urged Israel to change the route of the march to go through the Old City’s Jaffa Gate, instead of Damascus Gate, thereby avoiding the Muslim Quarter, which is largely populated by Palestinians.

But right-wing and religious nationalist groups insist that the original route be maintained as has been the case for decades in what is meant to signify Israel’s “reunification” of Jerusalem.

In 2021, Netanyahu agreed to reroute the Flag March away from the Muslim Quarter, though he waited until hours before the rally to make the decision, allowing threats against Israel from Hamas and other terror groups to pile up in the meantime. Despite the decision, Hamas fired a barrage of rockets at Jerusalem as the rerouted march was taking place. Shortly thereafter, the IDF launched Operation Guardian of the Walls in Gaza, which lasted 11 days.

The next year, Bennett came under similar pressure from the US, but ultimately decided to allow the march to go forward on the original route in what led to the globally criticized scenes of participants singing “May your village burn” as they danced outside of the Damascus Gate. However, terror groups in Gaza largely avoided responding in the way they had a year earlier.

While Channel 12 News did not cite a source for any of its reporting, it said the security establishment has not issued any warnings regarding the holding of the Flag March along its original route.

The senior official speaking to The Times of Israel clarified that additional security consultations would be held on the matter before a final decision would be made.

A senior US official told The Times of Israel last week that the issue was already on the Biden administration’s radar.

The Standing Together grassroots group that advocates coexistence between Jews and Arabs penned a letter to Police Commissioner KobiShabtai earlier this week urging him to reroute the rally.

“The parade is a provocation whose purpose is to poke a finger in the eyes of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem,” the Standing Together wrote, expressing its concern that it could ignite further violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

Similar calls were issued by left-wing groups Peace Now, EmekShaveh and IrAmim.

Shabtai answers to National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, a far-right firebrand who has loudly advocated for allowing the nationalist march through the Muslim Quarter.

Source: timesofisrael.com

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https://www.timesofisrael.com/coalition-likely-to-okay-nationalist-flag-march-through-muslim-quarter-official/

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Iran expels four Azerbaijani diplomats in ‘retaliatory’ response

6th May 2023

Tehran: Iran has expelled four Azerbaijani diplomats from Iran after declaring them “persona non grata”, a media report said.

The move was a “retaliatory response” to the expulsion of four Iranian diplomats from Azerbaijan after having been declared “persona non grata” by Baku in April, Iran’s official news agency IRNA said in a report on Friday, without elaborating on the exact timing of the move and its other reasons, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to IRNA, the four Azerbaijani diplomats were working at Azerbaijan’s embassy in Tehran and its consulate in the northwestern city of Tabriz.

In early April, Azerbaijan declared four diplomats of the Iranian embassy in Baku as “persona non grata” due to their activities that were “incompatible with diplomatic status”.

On April 6, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry said it had summoned Iran’s ambassador Seyed Abbas Mousavi to inform him that the four should leave the country within 48 hours.

Source: siasat.com

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https://www.siasat.com/iran-expels-four-azerbaijani-diplomats-in-retaliatory-response-2583259/

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Iran hangs Iranian-Swedish man over 2018 attack killing 25

May 06, 2023

FarajollahCha’ab, also known as Habib Asyoud, had been a leader of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz, an Arab separatist movement

Iran executed an Iranian-Swedish dual national Saturday accused of masterminding a 2018 attack on a military parade that killed at least 25 people, one of several enemies of Tehran seized abroad in recent years amid tensions with the West.

FarajollahCha’ab, also known as Habib Asyoud, had been a leader of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz, an Arab separatist movement that has conducted oil pipeline bombings and other attacks in Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan province. That group had claimed the 2018 attack in its immediate aftermath.

Cha'ab's execution comes as a Swedish court last year sentenced an Iranian to life in prison over his part in the 1988 mass executions in Iran at the end of its war with Iraq. Tehran, which has used prisoners as bargaining chips in negotiations with the West, reacted angrily to that sentence. Meanwhile, tensions also remain high between Iran and the West over its rapidly advancing nuclear program as well — and at least one more prisoner with Western ties faces a possible execution.

The Iranian judiciary's Mizan news agency confirmed Cha'ab's execution by hanging in a lengthy statement. It identified him as the leader of the militant group and alleged without providing evidence that he had ties to Swedish, Israelis and U.S. intelligence services. It accused his group of killing or wounding 450 people over the years, including multiple attacks on government offices and other sites.

It also included state television interviews with Cha'ab, a feature of many Iranian trials that activists long have described as coerced confessions.

It also for the first time clearly identified Iranian intelligence officers as being behind Cha'ab's abduction, saying that its “unknown soldiers” captured him in Turkey in November 2019. Iran has used similar ruses to capture its enemies abroad, including the exiled journalist Ruhollah Zam who was executed in 2020.

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom condemned Cha'ab's execution.

“The death penalty is an inhumane and irrevocable punishment, and Sweden, together with the rest of the (European Union), condemns its use under all circumstances,” he said in a statement.

The Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights separately condemned the execution, referring to Cha'ab's closed-door trial as “grossly unfair.”

“This is an example of the Islamic Republic’s state terrorism," said Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the group's director. “We expect that the EU and Swedish government show adequate reaction to the murder of their citizen. Killing a hostage must not be tolerated.”

Tensions already had escalated between Iran and Sweden over the life imprisonment of Hamid Noury, an Iranian convicted of committing grave war crimes and murder during the final phase of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. The end of the war saw mass executions of an estimated 5,000 Iranian prisoners, including those from an exiled opposition group and others.

The 2018 attack in Iran targeted a military parade in Ahvaz in Khuzestan, the chaos captured live on state television. Militants disguised as soldiers opened fire, killing at least 25 people and wounding over 60 others in the deadliest attack to strike Iran in years. A spokesman for the separatist group claimed the assault shortly after in a televised interview. The Islamic State group also claimed the attack, though it offered factually incorrect details about the assault.

In recent months, Iran has carried out other executions after the months of unrest over the September death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini following her arrest by the country's morality police. In January, Iran executed a former high-ranking defense ministry official and dual Iranian-British national accused of spying.

Also facing a possible execution is an Iranian-German national who lived in California, a man Iran describes as planning a 2008 attack on a mosque that killed 14 people and wounded over 200 others, as well as other assaults through the little-known Kingdom Assembly of Iran and its Tondar militant wing. His family long has said he was captured by Iranian intelligence in Dubai.

Iran is one of the world’s top executioners.

Source: hindustantimes.com

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https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/iran-hangs-iranian-swedish-man-over-2018-attack-killing-25-101683361866542.html

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Iran protests: Football star Ali Karimi under travel ban, leaked papers show

By Parham Ghobadi

BBC Persian

Iran imposed a travel ban on football star Ali Karimi, his wife and her family during the recent anti-government protests, leaked documents seen by the BBC show.

Mr Karimi was among the first celebrities who vehemently criticised the deadly crackdown on the protests which erupted in September.

The footballer, known as the Maradona of Asia, lived in the UAE at the time.

The protests were sparked by the death in custody of a Kurdish Iranian woman.

Mahsa Amini, 22, died after allegedly being beaten by morality police who arrested her for what they said was her failure to wear her headscarf properly.

The protests spread nationwide, but have been violently suppressed. Human rights groups say security forces have killed at least 530 protesters - including around 70 children - since the protests began.

One of the documents seen by BBC Persian says Mr Karimi "was invited [to Iran] by our agent nine times and has received serious warnings".

In a letter marked "top secret" and dated 24 October 2022, Iran's Revolutionary Guard's intelligence unit informed Tehran's prosecutor that "Karimi's recent activities were instigated by his wife Sahar Davari and her family".

In the late 1980s Iran had executed Ms Davari's father, GholamaliDavari, on charges of being a member of the Communist Tudeh Party. He was an officer in Iran's air force at the time.

The document claims Karimi's in-laws, on his behalf, were aiming to sell his mansion in Lavasan, an affluent suburb of capital Tehran, for $20m (18m euros; £16m) in order to emigrate permanently.

In the document the Revolutionary Guard asked for a travel ban on Karimi, Davari, her mother, step-father, brother and sister. This would prevent them from leaving the country, including Mr Karimi and his wife if either of them returned.

The leaked letter was given to BBC Persian by a hacking group called Edalat-e Ali (Ali's Justice).

Mr Karimi told BBC Persian in a phone interview that his older brother was also prosecuted several times and banned from leaving the country.

"My friend was interrogated three or four times in the notorious Evin prison," he said.

He said Iran keeps people he follows on Instagram under close surveillance.

"One of them needed both a deposit bail and a guarantor to be able to leave Iran," he said.

In early October, Iranian state media also claimed Mr Karimi had sold his mansion in Lavasan.

But Mr Karimi told BBC Persian that this was not true.

"Security forces raided the place and brutally beat up the janitor," he said, adding that the property had been empty ever since.

"My neighbours tell me lights are on some nights and plain-clothes agents are seen going in and out," he said.

Mr Karimi shared pictures of CCTV which Iranian authorities have installed near his property.

"Any car stops there for five minutes, security forces swarm the place," he said.

Mr Karimi and his family have since moved from the UAE to an undisclosed location.

Source: bbc.com

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https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-65473415

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North America

 

Atty. Gen. Bonta Promises San Diego Arabs And Muslims He Will Fight Hate Crime

Fri, May 5, 2023

Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta on Thursday told members of San Diego’s Arab and Muslim community that he is working to increase the inclusion of immigrants in California while simultaneously fighting rising hate crime.

“We know there has been an increase in hate crimes and Islamaphobia,” he said, promising to fight it as “the people’s attorney.”

Speaking at the 5th annual community dinner organized by the San Diego Arab and Muslim Community Outreach Forum, Bonta listed a number of steps taken by the California Department of Justice to address hate crime.

These include a new Racial Justice Bureau, a hate crime coordinator and an Office of Community Awareness, Engagement and Response. But the state can’t do it all, he said, so targeted communities must stand up.

“I believe that we are not destined to be bystanders and spectators of a world that looks more violent and extreme,” he said.

Bonta told the the crowd at Sufi Mediterranean Cuisine in Clairemont that he understands their concerns because of his own immigrant past. He was born in the Philippines and brought to America because, he said, his parents wanted to raise their family in a democracy.

“As I look across this room I see the faces of America,” he said. “I see your beautiful diversity.”

One of those community members was Hasan Ikhrata, CEO of SANDAG, who spoke about his experience as an immigrant.

“I’m proud of being an Arab American,” he said. “I’m also proud that I live in a country that allows me to say this.”

Other speakers discussed the achievements of Arab and Muslim Americans, including their impact on the economy, but also the increase in hate crime and the challenge of teaching Arab and Muslim history in public schools.

California has the largest Arab and Muslim community of any state and is the leader in refugee resettlement.

Source: patch.com

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https://patch.com/california/san-diego/atty-gen-bonta-promises-san-diego-arabs-muslims-he-will-fight-hate-crime

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Islamist antisemitism is flying under the Jewish communal radar

(May 5, 2023 / JNS) When far-right extremists attacked synagogues in Pittsburgh in 2018 and Poway, Calif., in 2019 with deadly results, these incidents generated the kind of fear among American Jews that had not been felt in living memory. Communities were galvanized into action to better protect Jewish institutions. More than that, these acts of domestic terrorism served to create a sense of genuine alarm about Jewish security in the United States that was felt even among people who rarely, if ever, walked into a house of worship.

But more than a year after another synagogue was attacked in Colleyville, Texas, in January 2022, the very different reaction to that crime is still worth thinking about.

Of course, the good news about Colleyville was that thankfully, no one died. The rabbi and the congregants had been trained to deal with such instances and were able to escape before the person holding them hostage was apprehended.

The main difference, however, was that the attacker in Texas was a Muslim extremist, not someone with views on the far right. So rather than draw conclusions about those who might have actually encouraged the crime—as actually was the case with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which had championed the cause of the convicted terrorist that the hostage-taker had wanted to be released—most American Jews and their mainstream groups carried on with business as usual.

That’s a huge mistake and, as a new report about Islamist antisemitism in the United State recently published by Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) details, Jews need to understand that they’ve been largely ignoring a major source of Jew-hatred. Compiled by scholar YehuditBarsky, a veteran researcher about the subject, and Ehud Rosen, it paints an alarming picture of more than just the extent of the antisemitism of Muslim groups. It also discusses the way such groups are being effectively mainstreamed because of the popularity of intersectionality, that fashionable woke belief that all oppressed groups are connected.

Thanks to the acceptance of critical race theory ideology, American liberals who rightly worry that contradicting any idea connected to the Black Lives Matter movement will lead to false accusations of racism are increasingly willing to believe that Muslims dedicated to Israel’s destruction are morally equivalent to the cause of promoting civil rights in the United States. Under the influence of toxic myths like “white privilege,” Islamists can claim to be fellow “people of color” and therefore members of a victim class, while Jews and Israel are dishonestly labeled as oppressors.

What Barsky calls a dangerous “red-green alliance” has caused not just mainstream liberals, but many Jews, to downplay Islamist Jew-hatred even as they are overhyping the threat from the right.

The right-wing threat

In the aftermath of Pittsburgh and Poway, the notion that hate-filled, armed right-wingers were seeking to harm Jews stopped being theoretical and began to be felt as a genuine threat to American Jewish life. It reinforced most Jews’ pre-existing assumptions that the main antisemitic threat came from the right. This served as an excuse for many liberal Jewish groups to connect the dots between the deranged gunmen in both cases to mainstream American political conservatives and, of course, the man they hated most: then-President Donald Trump.

The political fallout from that effort to smear political opponents by tying them to terrorists they had nothing to do with continues to be felt. But with each passing year, more Jews have come to realize that while the threat of violence from the far right is real, the forces that are actually mainstreaming antisemitism are on the other end of the political spectrum. The intersectional left, which seeks to falsely delegitimize Zionism and Israel as the product of “white privilege” has become part of mainstream discourse as it migrated from college campuses to popular culture, the media and even the halls of Congress.

Though many liberals have been reluctant to view antisemitism as something that can arise on both sides of the aisle, the realization that the BDS movement and other anti-Zionist agitation is expressed in the tropes of traditional Jew-hatred is telling. And whereas the antisemitic far right is politically isolated, the growing influence of progressives and the congressional “Squad” within the Democratic Party cannot be ignored. Indeed, even someone as determined to demonize political conservatives as Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt recently gave a speech emphasizing the fact that anti-Zionism is antisemitism and barely mentioned Trump.

That’s a sign, however belated and faint, of communal sanity. Still, there’s one element of American antisemitism that continues to fly under the communal radar: the virulent Jew-hatred promoted by Muslim extremists.

The Islamist movement in the United States remains something of an unknown for most American Jews, and the reasons for that are not hard to discover. Most American Jewish groups are committed to the principle of interfaith dialogue with an almost religious fervor. As a result, they are loath to acknowledge that a major segment of another faith group they see as a fellow religious minority with whom they ought to be friends is ideologically committed to a worldview in which Jews are a despised enemy.

So, it was not terribly surprising that the reaction to Colleyville from most Jews was very different from the way they felt about Pittsburgh and Poway.

But Barsky’s report puts into focus the problem with thinking this way.

Myths about hate crimes

Though mainstream media outlets have continued to treat the idea of a post-9/11 backlash against Muslims in the United States as an established fact, FBI hate-crime statistics have consistently shown that over the course of the last two decades, the vast majority of religion-based hate crimes have been directed at Jews. Indeed, in recent years, the levels of anti-Muslim crimes have declined.

More importantly, Jewish groups are still treating groups like CAIR as acceptable partners for dialogue. That’s true even though it has been doing its best to intimidate Jewish groups into backing down from monitoring Islamist antisemitism.

Using the language of intersectionality in which they have positioned themselves as the representatives of a group that is under attack. Part of this is a campaign to raise awareness of what they consider a rising tide of Islamophobia. That’s something that is guaranteed to appeal to the sensibilities of liberal Jews, who are keen to ally themselves with another faith that suffers discrimination.

But while prejudice against Muslims can be real, most of what is usually characterized as Islamophobia is actually merely accurate reporting about Muslim support for extremists and prejudice against Jews. Talk of Islamophobia is, for the most part, merely a scam intended to divert attention from Islamist hate, as well as their groups’ willingness to rationalize terrorism as long as the victims are Israeli Jews.

This was made clear in May 2021 when Israeli efforts to fend off attacks from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists based in the Gaza Strip led to Muslim violence against Jews in the streets of American and international cities.

The INSS report notes that research shows that while American Muslims are more likely to show antisemitic attitudes than other Americans, they also don’t believe groups like CAIR or the similarly toxic US Council of Muslim Organizations represent them.

Those groups dominate the public discourse about Islam in the United States. At the same time, the most prominent Muslims in politics are also the most extreme, like “Squad” members Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), both of whom have engaged in prejudicial rhetoric about Jews and support the antisemitic BDS movement (and therefore aligned with Islamists rather than moderates within that community).

As the INSS report concludes, American Jews ought to be more careful about the identity of Muslim groups with whom they seek interfaith dialogue. Jewish community-relations councils throughout the United States still treat CAIR and other BDS supporters as legitimate partners, despite their complicity in terrorism (CAIR was founded as a political front for Hamas fundraisers and still treats those convicted of aiding terrorists as “political prisoners”) and antisemitism. So long as they ignore the way Muslim extremists are joining forces with the intersectional progressive left, they are failing to understand the source of some of the most potent threats to their communities.

No discussion of antisemitism in America should ignore the hate that Islamist groups are spreading. Yet despite the fact that most Jews say they are deeply worried about antisemitism, few seem to take the threat from home-grown Islamists seriously.

Source: jns.org

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https://www.jns.org/opinion/islamist-antisemitism-is-flying-under-the-jewish-communal-radar/

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Muslims in the White House: Cosying up or making a difference?

5 May 2023

By Zainab Iqbal

When Morsheda Kabir first got an email from the White House inviting her to its annual Eid celebration, she figured it was spam.

After further investigation, she understood that it was a legitimate invitation, so a few days before the Eid celebration, she RSVP'd. On 1 May, she was on her way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Kabir was one of the estimated 400 Muslims that attended the Eid celebration at the White House honouring “inspiring Muslim Americans who are making contributions across our country”.

On that Monday evening, the White House was packed with Muslim influencers from all over the country. Many of them were young content creators with no political affiliation - people like Kabir, Maryam Ishtiaq, and Zubair Mohammed. Combined, they have hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.

Kabir is a first-generation American and creates food content on social media. Her parents immigrated in the 1980s from a small island in Bangladesh. Her father worked construction jobs while her mother stayed at home and took care of the family. Kabir has no connection to politics, which is why when she got the email, she was surprised.

“I didn't think about it just like me as an individual. This was me representing my community, my family, my lineage,” Kabir told Middle East Eye. “It was really great to see that someone saw my content and was influenced enough to feel some way about me to get me into the White House.”

Mohammed, a content creator whose work focuses on men’s fashion, grew up assuming that only political leaders were allowed to go into the White House. So when he received an invitation, he was shocked.

“Our parents came to this country with hopes and dreams. My parents left their homeland to ensure that we had a better education. To come here for a better life for us,” he said.

“We Muslims have a voice and we can make an impact. And we can do that by showing up to things like this.”

But many Muslims don’t agree with that sentiment, as was evident by the backlash on social media. In fact, they believe that Muslims and those affected deeply by the government’s policies should not be “cosying up” to the administration.

NerdeenKiswani, a Palestinian activist and the founder of Within Our Lifetime Palestine, believes that those who attended the White House Eid celebration are “sellouts”. She wrote on social media that anti-normalisation doesn’t stop with just Israeli organisations.

“You cannot represent Muslim people or issues if you’re running to eat with and normalise the same powers that bomb Yemen, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and so much more,” she wrote.

The role of influencers 

While no one was hired to attend the White House Eid celebration, the invites to influencers were notable.

MoustafaBayoumi, a professor of English at Brooklyn College, believes that the government holds events like these to be “representative”.

“The government buys its own line that they are a representative democracy. I think they're mostly acting in good faith,” he said. “But the real question is how representative it is. What kind of power do Muslims have to represent themselves within the government rather than just being represented in these superficial kinds of ways?”

He explained that for it to be determined whether or not it is effective for Muslims to get face-time with the government, there needs to be “an either-or situation”. There needs to be an organised campaign in order for that to happen, he said.

In 2014, Barack Obama was not responding to the demands of the people that Israel stop bombing Gaza. At the time, the Obama administration publicly defended Israel's carrying out of air strikes in Palestine.

At a White House event several years ago, there was an organised campaign by Muslims to not attend that event. Mohamed Khairullah, the mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, who was barred from attending the White House Eid celebration after being invited, did not attend the iftar at the time at the White House because of Obama’s stance on Syria.

Similarly, there was an organised campaign by people to not attend Donald Trump’s events because of his animosity towards Muslims. But it’s different when it comes to Joe Biden, Bayoumi explained.

“Biden is a kind of status quo politician when it comes to foreign policy, and foreign policy tends to be the issue that galvanises the Muslim community the most. He hasn't done anything that would seem like it's out of the ordinary for an American president,” he said.

In 2015, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) planned on hiring “influencers” to help promote Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), a strategy that recruits people to assist the government in identifying individuals that may be “at risk” of becoming violent extremists. It almost exclusively targets Muslims.

“Together with national networks of experts, peer influencers and credible content producers, we can have enormous impact now. Stopping recruitment means expanding our understanding of the threat to this generation from diverse groups,” a DHS document from 2015 said.

“We must restructure our national CVE efforts toward a framework that is attuned with this demographic and design a system of influence on and offline that can significantly diminish the appeal of extremist ideology.”

But those in communities who have been hurt by these sorts of policies will still attend such events hosted by the same administration.

“They like to cosy up to the powerful,” Bayoumi argues. “It's a tendency that you find among many groups, especially immigrant groups, and especially groups that come from states that have authoritarian structures. It’s a kind of division of power.”

The 'impact' of showing up

Ishtiaq is a content creator focusing on lifestyle, food and motherhood. She believes that attending such events is more beneficial than staying away.

She explained that she’s very aware of the administration’s policies on issues like Israel and Palestine. But in order to make a change, she thinks people need to show up.

“If we don't show up, if people from policy don't show up, if we don't make noise, how are these parts of our country going to change?” she said. “If I don’t show up in that room, I can't ask them to make a change. I can't get close to the people that work on these policies. And so I think the fact that we were even invited is just the beginning.”

For Mohammed, filling spaces like the White House is making an impact. He believes Muslims are making it known that they belong there.

He says he spends hours sending out emails to brands as a content creator. He sends them for months on end. Most times, he won’t hear back. But when he physically attends an event where those brands are in attendance as well, he is able to meet with them in person and it makes more of an impact, he said.

It’s part of the reason why he accepted the invitation to the White House and why he’ll accept it again if he’s invited next year.

“It's important for me to bring my culture and my religion to the forefront,” he said, “and I want people to know who I am as an individual and to know that future generations always have space at the table.”

Middle East Eye reached out to the White House for comment but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

Source: middleeasteye.net

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https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/muslims-white-house-cosying-up-or-making-difference

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Jackie Little Faces Federal Hate Crime Charge In 2 Mosque Fires

May 5, 2023

MINNEAPOLIS — Jackie Rahm Little, the Plymouth man charged with arson in fires set at two Minneapolis mosques, now also faces one count of damage to religious property, a hate crime.

The federal hate crime was added to the case against Little on Thursday.

"The freedom to worship is sacrosanct," said U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger. "We will respond to any attack on any house of worship with urgency and determination."

Little, 36, was apprehended Saturday night in Mankato by the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office and taken into federal custody.

Following the April Mosque fires, Little was also identified as the suspect who vandalized the Minneapolis district office of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar and a Somali shopping center in January, authorities said.

Little's mom said he's been fascinated with fire from a young age, and she suspects his involvement in other unsolved arson incidents, according to investigators.

"Mr. Little is not only responsible for multiple arson attacks against mosques in my district and the vandalism of a Somali officer’s police vehicle, but also targeted my own office with vandalism on at least one occasion," Omar said in a statement Sunday.

"We are witnessing an epidemic of hate against the Muslim community and other religious minorities in Minnesota and globally right now. This campaign of terror is designed to keep us fearful and divided. As Muslim-Americans and as Minnesotans, we will not be terrorized. We will continue to stand united against bigotry because love is stronger than hate."

On Jan. 5 at 11:30 a.m., Little was seen trying to shoplift spray paint from the downtown Minneapolis Target, authorities said. About 30 minutes later, he went to Omar’s nearby district office and spray painted "500" on the front door and photographed it, according to investigators.

Later that day, Little spray-painted "500" on the side of a patrol vehicle assigned to a Somali Minneapolis Police Department officer and in the entryway at the Somali shopping center, authorities said.

The significance of "500" is unclear to investigators.

On April 23 at about 7 p.m., Little entered a second-floor bathroom of the Masjid Omar Islamic Center — located above the Somali shopping center — and lit a cardboard box on fire inside a stall, according to investigators. An employee found him doing this and chased Little out of the building, authorities said.

Little left behind burnt cardboard and a partially melted gas canister, according to prosecutors.

On April 24 just before 7 p.m., Little was captured on surveillance video entering the Mercy Islamic Center, authorities said. The center uses the first floor of the building as a private daycare.

Soon after Little entered the building, a fire broke out in the third-floor hallway, and the building was evacuated, according to investigators. About 40 children had to evacuate during the blaze, authorities said.

About 10 minutes after the arson at the Mercy Islamic Center, Little was spotted on surveillance video purchasing a small red gas canister and filling it with gasoline, according to prosecutors.

Little's case was the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Minneapolis Police Department, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office, and the St. Paul Police Department.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights and National Security Divisions and the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office provided assistance.

Source: patch.com

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https://patch.com/minnesota/southwestminneapolis/jackie-little-faces-federal-hate-crime-charge-2-mosque-fires

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