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“Perpetrators Should Be Handed To The Muslim World, Otherwise Their Interest Will Be In Danger, No Matter Where They Are”: Taliban on Quran Burning

New Age Islam News Bureau

28 January 2023


Protestors gathered in a rally in Afghanistan over the burning of the holy Quran incident in Sweden.


• In Yet Another Provocative Act On Friday, Far-Right Politician Paludan Burns Quran In Front Of Denmark Mosque

• Syrian Regime Responsible For 2018 Chlorine Attack, Killing 43 People: Watchdog

• RSS Brought Up The Possibility Of Amicable Resolution Of Kashi And Mathura Issues In Second Round Of RSS-Muslim Community Talks

• Dramatic Escalation Of Violence  - 7 Dead In Shooting Outside East Jerusalem Synagogue


South Asia

• Taliban Officials Refill Afghan Prisons With More Than 29,000 Fresh Inmates Including Men And Women

• Millions of Afghan Children Suffering from Chronic Malnutrition: WFP

• Muslim nations call for human rights in Afghanistan as Taliban enforces Islamic Sharia laws

• Is Russia eyeing weapons from the Taliban for Ukraine war?



• Faith Groups In Sweden Stand Against Quran Burning, Hate Speech

• Danish government faces opposition from trade unions for plan to abolish religious holiday

• France, Iraq sign strategic partnership treaty


Arab World

• Saudi Crown Prince Will Be ‘One Of Most Important Leaders Of His Time’: Pompeo

• Lebanon lawmaker sit-in enters second week

• Protests held across several Middle Eastern countries against Quran burning

• Saudi Arabia ‘strongly’ condemns armed attack on Azerbaijan’s embassy in Tehran



• PM Modi’s Statement, To Treat Muslims Equally And Live With Them Harmoniously, Not Appeasement: Karnataka CM

• India Has Issued A Notice To Pakistan For Modification Of The 1960 Indus Waters Treaty Anita

• Aligarh Muslim University Suspends Student Over Religious Slogan Video On R-Day

• Why Pak is demanding reversal of abrogation of Art 370 for resuming dialogue with India



• Israeli Military Boosting Forces In West Bank Following Synagogue Attack In Jerusalem

• Iran Calls for Int'l Action Against Israeli Crimes in Jenin

• Senior Cleric: Enemy Moves Make IRGC Stronger

• Turkey summons Danish envoy over Quran-burning protest in Copenhagen

• Iran replaces Tehran police chief after attack on Azerbaijan’s embassy

• Azerbaijan evacuates Tehran embassy, blames Iran for attack

• CIA chief visits Israel, Palestinian territories

• Israeli army says it intercepted 2 rockets fired from Gaza



• Ulema, Mashaikh And Religious Scholars of Pakistan Urge Sweden, Dutch Govts For Prompt Action Against Desecrators Of Holy Quran

• Allah Responsible For Pakistan's Prosperity, Development: Pakistan Finance Minister

• Pakistani rupee fall slows as PM Sharif hopes for IMF funds

• Mysterious illness claims 18 lives in Pakistan

• Levies soldier martyred in Bolan terror attack

• Pakistan strongly condemns Israel’s attack in Palestine


Southeast Asia

• After Protesting At Swedish Embassy In KL, Islamist Group Heads Over To Dutch Embassy For Apology Over Torn Quran

• Malaysian Scholar Hails Restu Global Quranic Arts Festival

• UMNO expels former Malaysian health minister Khairy, suspends ex-defence minister Hishammuddin



• Human Rights Watch Urges Morocco Not To Extradite Saudi Shia Man

• Tunisian activists decry intimidation as vote looms

• Naira redesign: Islamic group tells Nigerian govt to extend deadline of old notes till February


North America

• US Court Convicts Muslim Preacher Of Supporting Islamic State Group

• Top US Treasury official to visit Middle East countries to ensure sanction compliance

• US condemns ‘horrific’ East Jerusalem synagogue attack that killed seven

• US charges three men in Iran-backed plot to assassinate journalist Masih Alinejad

• Cancelled by truck convoy, vigil for Quebec mosque massacre to be held Sunday

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



“Perpetrators Should Be Handed To The Muslim World, Otherwise Their Interest Will Be In Danger, No Matter Where They Are”: Taliban on Quran Burning


Protestors gathered in a rally in Afghanistan over the burning of the holy Quran incident in Sweden.


By Nizamuddin Rezahi

January 28, 2023

Thousands of people took to the streets on Friday in several provinces of Afghanistan to express their anger over the burning of the holy Quran incident which took place in Sweden last week.

On January 21, an anti-immigration politician from the far-right fringe of Sweden burned a copy of the Quran, Muslim’s most valuable scripture, during a protest near the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm.

In heinous incident was followed by worldwide condemnations, sparking rallies in major Muslim countries. Afghanistan joined the group after people took to the streets after the Friday prayer and chanted death to those who publicly burned the holy Quran.

Protests were held in Nangarhar, Kunar, Laghman, Badakhshan, Balkh, Kandahar, Zabul, Ghor, Herat, Panjshir, and Kabul provinces. In Badakhshan protestors chanted “death to Sweden, the US, and the UN,” a Taliban official said.

“The perpetrators should be handed to the Muslim World, otherwise their interest will be in danger, no matter where they are,” Abdul Qadeer, head of the counter-terrorism office of the Taliban in Ghor, said. 

Earlier in the week, Afghanistan’s Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi called on the Swedish government to punish the perpetrators and avoid similar incidents in the future. 

The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, a US State Department spokesperson said, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom and other influential world leaders and organizations have strongly condemned the act – describing it as Islamophobic, provocative, and disrespectful against the entire Muslim world. 

The desecration of the holy Quran in the western world has caused extreme anger among Muslim Ummah, which may possibly end with serious consequences if not prevented. In 2011, violent protests took place in Afghanistan over burning a copy of the Holy Quran by a radical fundamentalist Christian in the United States. Protesters over-ran a UN mission in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and killed at least seven foreign staff, and injured many security personnel and protestors, according to a Reuters report.

Source: Khaama Press

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In Yet Another Provocative Act On Friday, Far-Right Politician Paludan Burns Quran In Front Of Denmark Mosque




Muhammet Ikbal Arslan 



In yet another provocative act on Friday, far-right Danish politician Rasmus Paludan burned a copy of the Muslim holy book of Quran in front of a mosque in Denmark.

The incident took place days after Paludan, the leader of the Danish far-right party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), burned a copy of the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm on Saturday under police protection and with permission from the authorities.

He took his place just across to the mosque belonging to the Islamic Society after Friday prayers in the Dortheavej district of Copenhagen.

The far-right politician burned the Quran with a helmet on his head at an area right in front of a gas station, which the police cordoned off.

Paludan, staring at the Muslims leaving the mosque following Friday prayers, tried to catch their attention by waving a material insulting Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

The mosque community kept its head right the provocateur. The notables of the congregation advised those coming out of the mosque to leave the area to avoid the provocation.

The Danish police closed the street for entrances and exits while it took strict security measures around the mosque.

Meanwhile, it was seen that a group of young Muslim people, who had water and fire extinguisher in their hands, was warned by the police.

During Paludan's provocation, takbirs of tashriq prayers were recited through loudspeakers which could be heard outside the mosque.

Paludan left the area, where he stayed for about 40 minutes, under police protection.

- 'This is provocation for Danish Muslim minority'

Khalid al-Subeyhi, a Palestinian mosque volunteer, told Anadolu that they are used to this situation, which is not the first time they experienced it.

He said Paludan has carried out provocative acts in front of many mosques in Denmark for more than two years. "Our message to him is: 'Don't do this, this is not freedom of expression. This is a provocation for the Danish Muslim minority'," he urged.

The Muslim community is cautious against such provocations, al-Subeyhi said. "He (Paludan) is a sick man. He wants to provoke Muslims to draw attention."

Sedat Guzel, a Turkish citizen who came to the scene to see the incident, said, "99% of Danish citizens are against Paludan's provocations."

Paludan announced on his social media account on Thursday that he would burn a copy of the Quran in front of a mosque in Denmark, as well as Turkish and Russian embassies, and the Danish authorities gave him permission.

Attacks against the Quran in Sweden and the Netherlands are protested in Türkiye and many countries.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Syrian Regime Responsible For 2018 Chlorine Attack, Killing 43 People: Watchdog


FILE - People stand in front of damaged buildings, in the town of Douma, the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack, near Damascus, Syria, April 16, 2018.


Mahmoud Barakat  


The global chemical weapons watchdog on Friday said probes had found the Assad regime responsible for a 2018 chlorine attack on Douma city which left 43 people dead.

A report released by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said there are “reasonable grounds to believe” that an Assad regime military helicopter targeted a residential area in the city with two cylinders loaded with chlorine gas.

Douma city is the provincial capital of the Rif Dimashq province and is located some 10 kilometers (around 7 miles) northeast of Damascus.

According to the report, two cylinders were filled at the Dumayr airbase northeast of Damascus and were dropped by the Syrian regime’s elite Tiger Force.

The investigation team “considered a range of possible scenarios and tested their validity against the evidence they gathered and analysed to reach their conclusion: that the Syrian Arab Air Forces are the perpetrators of this attack,” the organization said in a statement.

“The use of chemical weapons in Douma – and anywhere – is unacceptable and a breach of international law,” OPCW head Fernando Arias stressed.

The OPCW previously determined that the regime used chemical weapons in al-Lataminah in March 2017 and Saraqib in February 2018.

The OPCW, the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) based in The Hague, oversees the global endeavor to permanently eliminate chemical weapons.

The regime’s use of chlorine as a chemical weapon is a violation of its obligations under the CWC, to which it is a party, as well as of the UN Security Council Resolution 2118.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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RSS Brought Up The Possibility Of Amicable Resolution Of Kashi And Mathura Issues In Second Round Of RSS-Muslim Community Talks


For representation purposes only. Photo credit: The Economic Times.


by Esha Roy , Deeptiman Tiwary

January 28, 2023

At its second meeting with Muslim community leaders and representatives held here recently, the RSS brought up the possibility of amicable resolution of Kashi and Mathura issues, and the “dangerous” practice of Muslims living in ghettos.

According to sources, to the Muslim side’s question as to whether resolution of the Kashi and Mathura issues would ensure that there were no further demands for any other site, RSS leaders said they could not guarantee the thinking of the Hindu society in the future.

On ghettoisation, the Muslim side pointed out that it was the result of riots or communal tensions, and the need of the community to feel sure.

Both sides affirmed that the talks, held on January 14, were amicable, and ended with a resolve to continue such discussions.

While RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, who had led the talks in August last year, was not present, this time the discussions saw the participation of Muslim religious leaders as well. Niaz Ahmad Farooqui, the secretary of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, called the meeting an “ice-breaker” and an “initial dialogue to understand each other’s stand”.’

One of the issues on which there was extensive discussion was the recent interview of Bhagwat to RSS-affiliated publications, where he explained the “aggression” in the Hindu community as resulting from “being at war for 1,000 years”.

Apart from Kashi and Mathura – where court hearings on surveys of the disputed sites are on – the RSS raised the use of words such as kafir (non-believer) and jihad by Muslim leaders and organisations, questioned “continuing” cow slaughter in the country and the alleged involvement of the community in it, as well as the “propensity of Muslims to live in ghettos”.

The main concerns raised by the Muslim side dealt with the deployment of bulldozers against minority establishments, mob lynchings, hate speeches, the recent Bhagwat interview and the RSS “silence” on hate speech.

Jung, at whose residence the talks were held, told The Indian Express: “The meeting was held in a very congenial atmosphere. Both parties had their say and this conversation will be carried forward. The attempt is to bring the communities together and make India strong. There are hardly any issues so contentious that they can’t be resolved between the two communities.”

The Sangh side was represented at the January 14 talks by Indresh Kumar, Ram Lal and Krishna Gopal. The Muslim delegation, comprising around 15 representatives, included former Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, ex-chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi, senior journalist and former Rajya Sabha MP Shahid Siddiqui, and members of Muslim organisations such as the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.

Jung, Quraishi and Siddiqui were also present at the last meeting – held at Udaseen Ashram at Jhandewala in Delhi – apart from former AMU vice-chancellor and Lt Gen (retd) Zameer Uddin Shah and businessman Saeed Shervani from the Muslim side.

The five had met Bhagwat under the aegis of ‘Alliance for Economic and Educational Development of the Underprivileged (AEEDU)’, an organisation floated by them. Since the August meeting, the AEEDU has been meeting Muslim leaders individually, as part of its dialogue with the RSS, in Delhi, Lucknow, Hyderabad and Bangalore.

Sources said that a day ahead of the January 14 meeting, Muslim leaders including presidents of both the factions of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind – Mahmood Madani and Arshad Madani – met at the residence of Siddiqui, where talks took place not only on what was to be discussed with the RSS, but also what had been talked about last time. The AEEDU members explained the RSS stand on some issues of concern of the community. While the Madanis eventually did not attend the meeting with the RSS, they sent their representatives.

A leader said they pointed out at the January 13 meeting that the Sangh had raised the use of “kafir” for non-Muslims and terms like jihad. “The Ulemas agreed that this was a valid concern, and that there was no place in India for language such as this. The Ulemas also pointed out that such language is not used by religious leaders, but sometimes by political leaders for their own personal gain. Kafir, for instance, does not pertain to Indian Hindus at all, as the Arabic word means a denier of God,’’ the leader said.

One of those present at the January 14 meeting said they expressed their concern over some parts of Bhagwat’s interview to Panchjanya and Organiser weeklies, which the Ulemas wanted raised. “The RSS representatives read out those parts of the interview to the Muslim leaders, and it was felt that the contents were not as concerning as perceived. The RSS leaders explained that when Bhagwat talked about ‘supremacy’ (he had said that no one should carry a feeling of supremacy), he meant it in context of all other religions and not just Muslims. They also said that even Hindus should not consider themselves superior.”

The Muslim leaders also raised the issue of gatherings designated as dharma sabhas, which often see hate speeches and calls for genocide. They said the RSS agreed that this was “problematic”, but added that it did not have any control over such organisations or gatherings.

“We told them that even if they could not stop such things, once they do take place, the RSS must condemn such events publicly,” said a leader.

“Many things were discussed. The main issues that we touched upon were lawlessness, mob lynchings, genocide calls, demolitions of Muslim homes and businesses as well as the unnecessary arrests of Muslims and the judicial and administrative bias against them once they had been arrested. We also pointed out that when hate speeches were made against the Muslim community – such as a BJP leader saying ‘goli maro saalo ko’ – no action was taken against them. We said that if the RSS’s goal was to create a just society, then there is no place for speeches like this. We requested that, in the future, they issue statements against such speeches,” said Moatasim Kha, the Secretary, Muslim Community Affairs, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, who attended the meeting.

On the RSS’s worry over cow slaughter and, what it called, the “dangerous” practice of Muslims living in ghettos, Khan said: “We explained to them that Muslim communities living in ghettos was a result of riots or communal tensions, and a need to feel sure. If the government were to provide a secure environment, then Muslims would not live in ghettos.”

The Jamaat-e-Islami Hind leader said that they also tried to dispel the other misconceptions the RSS has about the Muslim community, and the Sangh leaders said they wanted to do likewise.

The RSS leaders proposed that future meetings between them be held outside Delhi, in other parts of the country.

Source: Indian Express

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Dramatic Escalation Of Violence  - 7 Dead In Shooting Outside East Jerusalem Synagogue


Security forces at the scene of a deadly terror shooting attack in Neve Yaakov, Jerusalem, January 27, 2023 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)


Jan 28, 2023

JERUSALEM: A gunman killed seven people at an east Jerusalem synagogue on Friday, Israeli police said, in a dramatic escalation of violence that followed a deadly raid in the West Bank a day earlier.

The shooting in the Neve Yaakov neighbourhood of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem came even as international calls for calm mounted after Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip traded missile fire earlier Friday.

"At around 8:30 pm (1830 GMT), a terrorist arrived at a synagogue in the Neve Yaakov boulevard in Jerusalem and proceeded to shoot at a number of people in the area," a police statement said, adding that the shooter was "neutralised".

A police spokesman told AFP seven people had been killed.

The Magen David Adom emergency response service reported a total of 10 gunshot victims, including a 70-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy.

"I heard a lot of bullets," Matanel Almalem, an 18-year-old student who lives near the synagogue, told AFP.

Israel's extreme-right national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir attended the scene shortly after, an AFP photographer reported. Police were dismantling a white vehicle believed to have belonged to the shooter.

The United States condemned the "absolutely horrific" attack.

"Our commitment to Israel's security remains ironclad, and we are in direct touch with our Israeli partners," State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.

Just hours earlier, Washington had urged "de-escalation" over the West Bank violence and Gaza rocket fire.

Nine people had been killed Thursday in what Israel described as a "counter-terrorism" operation in the West Bank's Jenin refugee camp.

It was one of the deadliest Israeli army raids in the occupied West Bank since the second intifada, or Palestinian uprising, of 2000 to 2005.

Israel said Islamic Jihad operatives were the target.

Islamic Jihad and Hamas Islamists who control Gaza vowed to retaliate, later firing several rockets at Israeli territory.

Most of the rockets were intercepted by Israeli air defences. The military responded with strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza.

There were no injuries reported on either side, but Gaza's armed groups have vowed further action.

The United Nations human rights office had called earlier for an end to the "endless cycle of violence" in the West Bank, saying on Twitter that it "must end".

As Israeli forces raided the crowded Jenin refugee camp early Thursday, gunshots rang through the streets and smoke billowed from burning barricades.

The military said Israeli forces came under fire during a "counterterrorism operation to apprehend an Islamic Jihad terror squad" and shot several enemy combatants.

The violence prompted the Palestinian Authority to announce it was cutting security coordination with Israel, a move criticised by the United States.

The military said the incursion targeted Islamic Jihad militants who were allegedly behind attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians and, according to Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant, were planning "to conduct a terror attack in Israel".

Three Palestinians were shot in a firefight, while Israeli forces shot a further two "fleeing the scene", an army statement said. Israeli forces also shot a sixth suspect inside a building, and other Palestinians were hit after firing on troops, the army said.

There were no casualties among the Israeli forces, the military added.

Wisam Bakr, director of the Jenin Government Hospital, said there was a "state of panic" in the paediatric ward, with some children suffering from tear gas inhalation.

The Israeli military told AFP "the activity was not far away from the hospital, and it is possible some tear gas entered through an open window".

Jenin resident Umm Youssef al-Sawalmi said homes were hit during the raid. "Windows, doors, walls and even the refrigerator, everything was damaged by the bullets," she told AFP.

Thursday's deaths brought the number of Palestinians killed in the West Bank this year to 30, including fighters and civilians, most of whom were shot by Israeli forces.

Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri vowed that Israel "will pay the price for the Jenin massacre".

Washington earlier Thursday announced US secretary of state Antony Blinken would travel next week to Israel and the Palestinian territories, where he will push for an "end to the cycle of violence".

A State Department spokesman on Friday confirmed the visit would go ahead.

The mounting tolls follow the deadliest year in the Palestinian territory recorded by the UN.

At least 26 Israelis and 200 Palestinians were killed across Israel and the Palestinian territories in 2022, the majority in the West Bank, according to an AFP tally from official sources.

Source: Times Of India

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South Asia

Taliban Officials Refill Afghan Prisons With More Than 29,000 Fresh Inmates Including Men And Women

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

January 28, 2023

Since the Taliban’s return to power in August 2021, the de facto authorities have detained more than 29,000 Afghans including men and women for alleged crimes.

Over the past 18 months, Afghanistan’s Islamic Emirate authorities have refilled prisons with 29,000 inmates including men and women alleged of different crimes including theft, kidnapping, murder, and moral crimes according to the country’s top prison official.

“We have released some 15,000 inmates in the recent past. Currently, there are approximately 14,000 inmates in Afghanistan jails,” according to Mohammad Yusuf Mistari, the Taliban’s director of prisons.

Taliban’s claim to have no political prisoners has not been confirmed by independent organizations and human rights groups. According to Anonymous sources, hundreds of servicemen and security personnel of the previous government have been persecuted, put behind bars, or even killed to death by the country’s ruling regime.

On the contrary, the Taliban states that all the prisoners are held on criminal charges, not a very convincing claim regarding the number of people put in prisons.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch say that the Taliban have opted to kill the criminals affiliated with opposition armed groups or Islamic Militants rather than putting them behind bars. This can be considered a human rights violation according to the independent source.

Furthermore, Various forms of torture have been widely practiced at formal and informal detention centers and jails in Afghanistan, according to UNAMA and various rights groups. According to the rights group, extra-judicial practices are conducted under the ruling regime, which also is a violation of human rights.

Source: Khaama Press

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Millions of Afghan Children Suffering from Chronic Malnutrition: WFP

By Fidel Rahmati

January 28, 2023

World Food Program released this year’s report on January 5 and 24 points to a crisis that “millions of children are suffering from wasting and chronic malnutrition.”

Half of Afghanistan endures severe hunger throughout the year, regardless of the season, and malnutrition rates are at a record high for Afghanistan.” Said Phillipe Kropf, a spokesperson for the UN food agency in Kabul.

“There are 7 million children (under the age of 5) and mothers who are malnourished in a country with a population of 40 million,” he added.

He said that although Afghans are not starving to death, they cannot stop the humanitarian disaster due to a lack of resources.

Since the interim government took control of power in August 2021, it led millions into chronic hunger after foreign aid sopped almost overnight.

On the other hand, the international community sanctioned the de facto regime and restricted the average pace of communication with global institutions and outside aid agencies/countries.

The recent decree banned Afghan women from working with an international organization, severely disrupting the national and international aid agencies.

The ban impact has been estimated that out of 437 mobile health centres,  115 stopped, affecting 82,000 children and pregnant women; the suspension of training projects is hurting 39,300 people, primarily women. In contrast, the document stated that the pause of a school snack program had hit 616,000 students.

Source: Khaama Press

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Muslim nations call for human rights in Afghanistan as Taliban enforces Islamic Sharia laws

Ajeyo Basu

January 28, 2023

Dubai: With most of the world watching appalled as the Taliban imposes Islamic rule in Afghanistan, several Muslim countries have urged the ruling regime in Kabul to tone down its radical Islamist tendencies.

According to a report by UAE-based media network Al Arabiya Post, several Islamic nations are worried about the Taliban’s interpretation of Islam as it poses political challenges.

Several Muslim leaders have claimed that the Taliban has enforced Sharia laws in Afghanistan based on their own interpretation of Islam.

The leaders of the Taliban have, however, insisted that the harsh policies they have implemented in Afghanistan since capturing Kabul in August 2021 are based on Islamic laws.

Writing for Pakistani publication ‘The Dawn’, columnist Mohammed Amir Rana claimed that Pakistan has joined a host of Muslim countries in distancing itself from the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan due to their strict enforcement of Islamic Sharia laws.

According to news agency ANI, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has taken notice of the Taliban’s actions against Afghan women and has urged the Taliban to mend its ways.

The 57 OIC member countries in December 2022, held a special meeting on Afghanistan and urged the Taliban to abide by the “principles and purposes” enshrined in the United Nations Charter.

Claiming that the ban on women’s education is “un-Islamic”, the OIC has launched a campaign to teach the Taliban the ‘real Islam’ that it claims encourages education for women.

The OIC Executive Committee, which is headed by Saudi Arabia, met again earlier this month to discuss Afghanistan and the Taliban regime’s imposition of Islamic Sharia laws.

During the meeting, the member nations of the OIC Executive Committee claimed that Islamic Sharia laws grant women and girls the right to access all levels of education, including university level, as a fundamental right.

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also called on the Taliban rulers of in Afghanistan to reverse the ban on secondary and higher education for Afghan girls.

Source: Firstpost

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Is Russia eyeing weapons from the Taliban for Ukraine war?

January 27, 2023

Amid an expected spring offensive, Russia has reportedly turned to the Taliban government in Afghanistan for weapons.

A report in the British tabloid newspaper The Sun has claimed that Russian president Vladimir Putin is trying to weapons from the Taliban, including those left by the United States in Afghanistan after its withdrawal in August 2021.

As per a US defense department report, the American troops had left more than $7 billion worth of weapons and equipment when it pulled out of Afghanistan, reported CNN.

Is Russia eyeing US weapons in its war against Ukraine? What arsenal did the US leave in Afghanistan? Is Russia facing a shortage of arms and ammunition? Let’s take a closer look.

Russia and Taliban

Citing the Telegram channel General SVR, The Sun reported that Putin has asked the Taliban for equipment left by the US.

General SVR channel claimed, citing a Kremlin insider, that in exchange for arms, Putin will “recognise” the Taliban government.

“Putin is overseeing negotiations with the Taliban to recognise the Taliban government. In return, the Russian leadership is offering a major arms and military equipment swap,” the Telegram channel claimed, as per The Sun report.

“Putin is reported that the Taliban possess weapons and equipment including those seized after coming to power in Afghanistan, that are scarce for the Russian Army at the front,” it added.

General SVR further stated that those aware of the negotiations say that the Taliban are “extremely surprised” by such proposals, however, are discussing them in “earnest”, reported The Sun.

Firstpost has not independently verified these claims.

Meanwhile, the report comes amid Russia and Pakistan stressing on the need for “practical engagement” with the Taliban.

Russian presidential envoy for Afghanistan – Zamir Kabulov – met with Pakistani officials in Islamabad on Wednesday (25 January) and apprised them about his meetings with the Taliban in Kabul earlier this month.

Official Pakistani sources in the know of the meeting told Voice of America (VOA) that Kabulov said Russia will continue to engage with the Taliban but was not considering granting formal recognition to the rulers “for the time being”.

The Russian envoy “advised” the all-male Taliban to create a “politically inclusive” government and ease restrictions on women in order to move forward on the issue of their legitimacy, VOA reported citing sources.

US weapons in Afghanistan

As the US troops withdrew from Afghanistan amid the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul, 70 per cent of American weapons as well as $48 million worth of ammunition provided to the Afghan forces were left in the war-torn country, Foreign Policy reported in April last year.

As many as 42,000 pieces of night vision, surveillance, biometric and positioning equipment were also left behind in Afghanistan, as per the Foreign Policy report.

The officials familiar with the defense department report had said that it was unlikely for the Taliban to use the US weapons which require technical support and specialised maintenance. But they had also expressed concerns about the Taliban fighters using small arms including automatic rifles, reported Foreign Policy.

The visuals of the Taliban fighters parading with seized US weapons had gone viral in 2021.

Is Russia short on weapons?

No, claims the former Russian president.

Hitting out at Western media reports that Russia is facing a paucity of missiles and artillery, Dmitry Medvedev said earlier this week that Moscow’s weapons stocks were adequate to continue the fight in Ukraine.

“Our opponents are watching, they periodically make statements that we don’t have this or that … I want to disappoint them. We have enough of everything,” Medvedev was quoted as saying by Reuters.

A video posted on the former president’s Telegram channel showed him taking a stock of Kalashnikov rifles, artillery shells, missiles and drones.

Medvedev is the newly appointed head of the military-industrial commission that is monitoring weapons production for the war.

Russian troops have also deployed Iran-made ‘kamikaze’ drones for their attacks in Ukraine.

Despite Russia’s denial, Ukrainian and Western military officials have claimed that Russia is facing a crunch of arms.

In December last year, Britain’s armed forces chief – Admiral Sir Tony Radakin – had said that Russia had planned for a “30-day war” and is now facing a “critical shortage” of artillery shells.

“Russia faces a critical shortage of artillery munitions. This means that their ability to conduct successful offensive ground operations is rapidly diminishing,” he said, as per The Guardian.

“There is no mystery as to why this is the case. Putin planned for a 30-day war, but the Russian guns have now been firing for almost 300 days. The cupboard is bare. Morally, conceptually and physically, Putin’s forces are running low,” the chief of defence staff claimed.

According to Ukraine, Russia had 900 Iskander missiles when the war began in February last year, which was reduced to 119 at the end of November.

Source: Firstpost

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Faith groups in Sweden stand against Quran burning, hate speech

Mehmet Solmaz  



Members of religious groups in Sweden have spoken out in support of Muslims after Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish far-right Stram Kurs (Hard Line) burned a copy of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, under police protection.

The coordinator of the Catholic Commission for Interreligious Dialog in Sweden, Kaj Engelhart, told Anadolu that he recognized that Paludan's action was interpreted as lawful, but there was also a need to discuss whether the law should be changed, as many called it a hate action.

"Seeing this incident gave me a very bad taste. In our faith, it is not allowed to offend people of other religions. As Catholics, we are absolutely against such actions," Engelhart said.

The Jewish community also spoke out against the Islamophobic action.

Referring to the book burnings in Nazi Germany, the official Council of Swedish Jewish Communities and the AMANAH Muslim Jewish Partnership Trust said in a statement that book burnings often indicate the beginning of the normalization of hatred toward a group.

"Historically against Jews, now against Muslims," the statement said, warning that racists and extremists may once again "abuse democracy and freedom of expression to normalize hatred against one of Sweden's religious minorities by burning the Quran."

She pointed to the increasing attacks on Jews and Muslims in Sweden and expressed mutual concern.

"In a democratic society, every individual has the right to feel safe and valued. We hereby wish to express our support for the Swedish Muslim community and make it clear that any act or sign of prejudice and hatred is unacceptable," said the statement.

The Chairman of the Swedish Islamic Federation, Tahir Akan, told Anadolu that Muslims were unable to make their voices heard and that their concerns were, unfortunately, being overlooked.

He said the community should unite and advance its fight against anti-Muslim prejudice academically and legally.

Commenting on a UN report that said there is systematic racism in Sweden, Akan said: "The group that suffers most from this general trend is the Muslim community. Especially in matters of employment and other everyday matters, Muslims, unfortunately, experience racism.”

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Danish government faces opposition from trade unions for plan to abolish religious holiday

Ebad Ahmed  


Copenhagen, Denmark

Denmark’s biggest trade union confederation expressed serious reservations Friday about the government’s plan to scrap a public holiday to maximize its defense budget.

“This is a blatant attack on the Danish model that we are so proud of in this country,” Lizette Risgaard, the head of the FH confederation, which has 1.3 million members, told a media outlet.

The Danish labor model determines wages and working conditions via bilateral agreements between employer organizations and trade unions in collective bargaining agreements. The FH confederation said the three-party coalition government acted outside the labor model by removing a public holiday through administrative action.

Great Prayer Day, observed since the 17th century, falls on the fourth Friday after Easter, but the government wants to abolish the religious holiday to maximize revenues for its defense budget to NATO’s target of 2% of GDP by 2030.

The government considers it an important target to achieve as regional tensions continue to accelerate due to the Russia-Ukraine war.

“I don’t think it’s a problem to have to work an extra day,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said in a speech in parliament. “We are facing enormous expenditures for defense and security, health care, psychiatry and the green transition.”

The government is facing heavy criticism for the proposed move as an online petition started by the FH confederation has secured nearly 500,000 signatures, while parliamentary parties, except three that are in government, support the move.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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France, Iraq sign strategic partnership treaty

Nur Asena Erturk  


France and Iraq signed a strategic partnership treaty, the French presidency announced on Friday.

Iraq's Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani visited France on Jan. 26-27, where he met President Emmanuel Macron, according to a statement by the Elysee Palace.

"A strategic partnership treaty was signed to strengthen bilateral relations and establish a formal and permanent framework for the diversified and comprehensive relationship in various areas of cooperation," the statement said.

Al-Sudani and Macron discussed the developments in Ukraine and condemned the attacks targeting Iraq's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Arab World


Saudi Crown Prince will be ‘one of most important leaders of his time’: Pompeo

27 January ,2023

Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has heaped praise upon Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, saying he will be “one of the most important leaders of his time.”

In his new book, ‘Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love,’ Pompeo devotes a significant portion to US-Saudi relations and defends the need for close ties with Riyadh.

The Washington Post has criticized Pompeo for his book in which he said the media was trying to “fracture” Washington’s ties with Saudi Arabia.

“Much of this had to do with Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and the heir to the Saudi throne,” the former top US diplomat writes. “The progressive Left hates MBS, in spite of the fact that he is leading the greatest cultural reform in the Kingdom’s history.”

Pompeo went on: “He will prove to be one of the most important leaders of his time, a truly historic figure on the world stage.”

The former secretary was one of the few officials that did not step down or get fired from the Trump administration. He was appointed by Trump after heading the CIA and replacing Rex Tillerson.

As for Saudi Arabia and its trajectory crafted under the Crown Prince, widely referred to as MBS in the West, Pompeo said the Gulf nation would continue to matter a great deal.

“MBS is its head and may well be so, inshallah, for decades to come,” he writes, using the famous Arabic phrase for “God willing.”

Saudi Arabia is helping secure Iraq’s democracy and keep it “at least partially tethered to the West” and helping fight terrorism, Pompeo said.

“When MBS became the crown prince, one of his first efforts was to assist the United States in rooting out Iran’s destabilizing influence from Yemen and assisting in the provision of food to avoid famine there,” Pompeo said.

The US has ended support for “offensive” operations conducted by the Arab Coalition against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen under the Biden administration. He said that Saudi Arabia would “gladly withdraw” from Yemen if the Iranians would agree to leave and that Riyadh would immediately provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance.

“Additionally, Saudi Arabia has agreed to spend billions of dollars in leading the fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism.”

Pompeo writes that the “US strategic partnership with the Kingdom matters to Americans from New Hampshire to Iowa and from South Carolina to Nevada.”

Saudi needed for oil stability

Pompeo said a strong partnership with Saudi Arabia was not easy but credited former US Ambassador to the Kingdom John Abizaid for helping.

Cooperation with Saudi Arabia on its oil production helped Washington’s ability to sanction Iran without imposing “huge” fuel costs on Americans, the former secretary said.

In what seems to be the start of an unannounced presidential bid, Pompeo said that “as President of the United States,” he intends to ensure America is pursuing its national interests and contesting countries that wish harm.

Citing Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil-producing nation behind the US, Pompeo lauded the Gulf powerhouse for working “closely with us” and being “very responsive to my requests” to keep oil prices at reasonable levels.

“Stable and affordable energy prices depend on Saudi Arabia’s output,” he said in his book. “Political instability in the Kingdom would be a nightmare scenario for the region and American national security.”

Will Saudi Arabia normalize ties with Israel?

While the Trump administration was able to broker peace deals known as the Abraham Accords between the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco with Israel, Saudi Arabia has not joined.

Saudi officials have repeatedly stated that there needs to be an independent State of Palestine before peace can be reached.

Any potential normalization should be based on the Arab Peace Initiative, which was endorsed by the Arab League in Beirut in 2002, Saudi Arabia has said.

According to Pompeo, the US tried hard to bring Saudi Arabia into the accords.

“We came ever so close, thanks largely to Mohammed bin Salman,” adding that the Abraham Accords would never have come into being “without the tacit approval of MBS.”

An excerpt from the chapter on normalization reads as follows: “The world owes him a debt of gratitude for what he did. It is not an easy thing for the leader of Saudi Arabia to bless steps toward peace with Israel. Saudi Arabia occupies a special place in Islam, not least because it hosts the great pilgrimage, the Hajj, and is home to the first and second most holy sites in Islam in the cities of Mecca and Medina.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Lebanon lawmaker sit-in enters second week

27 January ,2023

Two Lebanese lawmakers on Friday entered the second week of a sit-in inside the crisis-hit country’s parliamentary chamber, vowing to remain inside until fellow MPs elect a new president.

Parliamentarians Najat Saliba and Melhem Khalaf, both independents, began their protest on January 19, after colleagues met and failed for an 11th time to agree on a new president.

Lebanon has been without a head of state since Michel Aoun’s mandate expired last year, with a caretaker cabinet overseeing the responsibilities of government amid a financial collapse that is stretching into its third year and this week saw the local currency reach a record low against the US dollar.

“We are staying here, we won’t be leaving” before a president is elected, Saliba told AFP Friday from the parliament.

“The state has completely collapsed... there is no government, no financial system, and the judiciary is at war with itself,” she said, adding that the pair hoped their sit-in would empower parliament.

Her comments came days after the country’s notoriously politicized justice system appeared to descend into an internecine dispute over the devastating 2020 Beirut port blast after the lead investigator resumed work this week following a 13-month hiatus.

The judicial battle adds to a crushing economic crisis that has plunged much of Lebanon’s population into poverty and is described by the World Bank as one of the worst in modern history.

Khalaf and Saliba, along with a number of other reform candidates, were elected last year on the back of 2019 protests against the eastern Mediterranean country’s factional elite who have dominated Lebanon’s political scene since the 1975-1990 civil war.

While they hope their protest will break months of political paralysis, longtime parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri has yet to call for a new legislative session since the sit-in began.

A source close to Berri told AFP that parliament has not yet met because no breakthrough to the deadlock appears likely.

“Let their own bloc decide on a name first; they are themselves divided,” the source said in a criticism of the sit-in.

Lawmakers supporting Hezbollah and those opposing the Iran-backed group have been divided on Lebanon’s next leader – but neither side has a clear majority.

Decision-making in Lebanese politics can take months of horse-trading between foreign-backed sectarian leaders, with Aoun’s election in 2016 coming after more than two years without a president.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Protests held across several Middle Eastern countries against Quran burning

27 January ,2023

Protests were held on Friday in several predominantly Muslim countries to denounce the recent desecration of Islam’s holy book by far-right activists in Sweden and the Netherlands.

The protests in countries including Pakistan, Iraq and Lebanon ended with people dispersing peacefully. In Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad, police officers stopped some demonstrators trying to march toward the Swedish embassy.

In Beirut, about 200 angry protesters burned the flags of Sweden and the Netherlands outside the blue-domed Mohammed al-Amin Mosque at Beirut’s central Martyrs Square.

Earlier this month, a far-right activist from Denmark received permission from police to stage a protest outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm where he burned the Quran, Islam’s holy book.

Days later, Edwin Wagensveld, Dutch leader of the far-right Pegida movement in the Netherlands, tore pages out of a copy of the Quran near the Dutch parliament and stomped on them.

The moves angered millions of Muslims around the world and triggered protests.

Swedish officials have stressed that freedom of expression is guaranteed by the Swedish Constitution and gives people extensive rights to express their views publicly, though incitement to violence or hate speech isn’t allowed. Demonstrators must apply to police for a permit for a public gathering.

Police can deny such permits only on exceptional grounds, such as risks to public safety.

Iraq’s Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr asked in comments released Friday whether freedom of speech means offending other people’s beliefs. He asked why “doesn’t the burning of the gays’ rainbow flag represent freedom of expression.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi Arabia ‘strongly’ condemns armed attack on Azerbaijan’s embassy in Tehran

27 January ,2023

Saudi Arabia “strongly condemned” Friday’s armed attack on Azerbaijan’s embassy in the Iranian capital of Tehran, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The ministry called for “respecting the sanctity of diplomatic missions and for punishing the preparators and reaffirmed the Kingdom’s “solidarity” with Azerbaijan and its people.

A man armed with a Kalashnikov-style rifle stormed Azerbaijan's embassy in Tehran killing the head of security and wounding two guards.

Tehran’s police chief, Gen. Hossein Rahimi, blamed the attack on “personal and family problems,” according to Iranian state television. However, the assault comes as tensions have been high for months between neighboring Azerbaijan and Iran.

A statement from Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry said that “an investigation is currently underway into this treacherous attack.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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PM Modi’s Statement, To Treat Muslims Equally And Live With Them Harmoniously, Not Appeasement: Karnataka CM

27th January 2023

Mysuru: The recent statement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to treat Muslims equally and live with them harmoniously can’t be construed as appeasement of Muslims, stated Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Friday in Mysuru.

“The statement has been made on occasion. While leading the nation, all should be taken along, this should not be seen in the backdrop of elections,” Bommai stated.

“Muslim community is lagging in education and suffering poverty. In this background, PM Modi has spoken about carrying all communities together. Few leaders of our party making statements that they do not require Muslim votes are personal remarks,” he explained. The PM has spoken about it, he added.

He maintained that the party has a different strategy to win elections.

Source: Siasat Daily

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India Has Issued A Notice To Pakistan For Modification Of The 1960 Indus Waters Treaty Anita

Joshua   |   New Delhi  


India has issued a notice to Pakistan for modification of the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) that was brokered by the World Bank to facilitate the sharing of water of the Indus River system between the two countries.

Sources here said India was “compelled to issue notice of modification” under Article XII (3) of the IWT because of “Pakistani intransigence” on its technical objections to India’s Kishenganga and Ratle Hydro Electric Projects (HEPs) in Kashmir. While the Kishenganga HEP is operational, the Ratle project is under construction.

Article XII (3) — under which the notice has been sent to Pakistan through the respective Commissioners for Indus Waters — states: “The provisions of this Treaty may from time to time be modified by a duly ratified treaty concluded for that purpose between the two Governments.”

According to sources, the notice for modification provides Pakistan an opportunity to enter into intergovernmental negotiations within 90 days to rectify the material breach of the IWT.

In 2015, Pakistan had requested the appointment of a neutral expert to examine its technical objections to the Kishenganga and Ratle HEPs. Pakistan unilaterally retracted this request a year later and proposed that a Court of Arbitration adjudicate on its objections; a move that India maintains is in contravention of the graded mechanism of dispute settlement envisaged by Article IX of the IWT.

In response, India made a separate request for the matter to be referred to a neutral expert.

The World Bank decided to pause the initiation of the two simultaneous processes on the same questions as it raised the spectre of inconsistent or contradictory outcomes. In turn, the World Bank asked India and Pakistan to seek an amicable way out at a time bilateral relations went into deep freeze after the dialogue process was suspended by India over a series of terrorist attacks.

Source: Telegraph India

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Aligarh Muslim University Suspends Student Over Religious Slogan Video On R-Day

January 27, 2023

Aligarh: Aligarh Muslim University Friday set up a three-member inquiry committee and suspended a student after a video showed some NCC cadets purportedly raising religious slogans following a Republic Day function here.

According to AMU spokesperson Omar Peerzada, the panel has been asked to submit its report within five days. He told PTI that it would probe the entire sequence of events when the official function was over and the audience was dispersing.

In the 17-second video, a group of NCC cadets were seen chanting "Allah hu Akbar" twice near a flagpole. In another 19-second video, another group of NCC cadets could be seen shouting "Bharat Mata ki jai" and "Vande Mataram" in front of a building.

The spokesperson emphasized the incident should be viewed as an aberration in the university's ethos. A student seen shouting slogans in the first video was suspended on Friday, the spokesperson added.

City Superintendent Police Kuldeep Singh said police have taken cognizance of the incident and have asked the AMU authorities to initiate legal action in the matter.

Samajwadi Party spokesperson Ameesh Jamaai Friday said the entire incident was "engineered to defame the institution". The entire sequence of events has to be investigated to unearth the truth, he said.

Source: ND TV

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Why Pak is demanding reversal of abrogation of Art 370 for resuming dialogue with India

Arun Joshi

27th January 2023

Ever since Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif made an offer to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to hold “serious and sincere” talks to resolve burning issues, including Kashmir, on January 16, there has been a lot of buzz as to how the two countries should resume their long- suspended dialogue to ease the relations. Within a day after Sharif made this offer, during the course of an interview with the UAE based TV network, “Al-Arabiya”, Pakistan PM’s office stated that there cannot be any dialogue with India unless or until Delhi reverses all the decisions on August 5, 2019.

The August 5, 2019 decisions made by New Delhi can be decoded quite easily. The Special status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, granted and guaranteed by Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, was scrapped. All the symbols of special status – separate constitution, separate flag and all-powerful state legislature which had the powers to frame its own laws, facilitate or stall the federal laws,- were done away with. Alongside, the special privileges of the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir to have sole right to their land and jobs were also withdrawn. That, in simple words, translated this complicated situation, that the people of Jammu and Kashmir, on this side of the Line of Control were Indianized” in all senses of the words. They were as privileged or ordinary citizens as the people in the rest of the country.

Why Pakistan is insisting on the reversal of the  August 5, 2019 decisions and making it as a condition for resumption of the dialogue with India. The nation that had been calling for the implementation of the UN resolutions on Kashmir, that is, to grant right to self-determination to the people of  Jammu and Kashmir, scaled down its demand to the restoration of the special status and the statehood. There is a method in this. Pakistan was never in favour of Article 370 which determined the constitutional relation between J&K and Delhi until August 5, 2019. Sudden love for  Article 370 of the Indian constitution, are based on its own logics. It fears that Kashmir would lose its Muslim-majority character as the new laws have opened floodgates for Indians from other parts of the country to buy land and set up their businesses.  Pakistan has always counted, the Muslim-majority character of Jammu and Kashmir, as an asset. It had made the similar argument in 1947 while claiming that the state should be part of Pakistan.  The Muslim-majority character of J&K also gives it a  religion-driven argument to highlight Kashmir issue.

Islamabad, no doubt, has sensed that the Indianization of the Kashmiri Muslims in fullest terms, would leave it with no stakes on Kashmir and it may find edged out of the whole discourse and discussions on Kashmir. It wants to inflict on the growing sense of the Indianness in J&K  The optics have started changing already. It is difficult to discern that all this is voluntary or manifestation of some kind of inner feelings, but the fact remains that greatest symbol of Indian nationalism- the national tricolor, is becoming visible almost everywhere in the Valley. There is no challenge to it. These optics have become more pronounced and profound when contrasted with the past, and also that how the world has come to see Kashmir in the post-Article 370 abrogation. All the fears that Kashmir will be a land red with blood once its special status is revoked have come untrue. People exercised their wisdom, avoided clashes  and saved themselves from death and destruction.

Source: Siasat Daily

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Israeli military boosting forces in West Bank following synagogue attack in Jerusalem

28 January ,2023

The Israeli military said on Saturday it was boosting forces in the occupied West Bank, a day after a Palestinian gunman shot seven people dead near a synagogue on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

“Following an IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) situational assessment, it was decided to reinforce the Judea and Samaria (West Bank) Division with an additional battalion,” the military said.

Meanwhile, police said they had arrested 42 people following the deadly shooting at the synagogue, including members of the Palestinian gunman’s family.

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Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran Calls for Int'l Action Against Israeli Crimes in Jenin


Amir Abdollahian made the comments in a post on his Twitter account in the Arabic language where he also called on the international community to stop the barbaric atrocities committed by the occupying regime.

"The brutal attack and massacre committed by the Zionist regime in the Jenin camp require immediate action from the international community and Islamic countries against the criminals," the top Iranian diplomat tweeted.

He added the resistance in the Jenin stronghold will continue and there will be no retreat.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Senior Cleric: Enemy Moves Make IRGC Stronger


Addressing Tehran's Friday prayers, Hojjatoleslam Seddiqi said, "Enemies should know that such actions will make the IRGC become stronger.

The senior cleric further condemned the desecration of the Holy Quran in certain European countries, and said that the insult showed the true face of Western countries who claim to be human rights advocates.

On January 18, the European Parliament's members backed an amendment added to an annual foreign policy report, calling for "the EU and its member states to include the IRGC in the EU's terror list". The step was passed by a vote of 598 in favor and nine against, with 31 abstentions.

The move has been strongly condemned by Iranian officials, commanders and the Armed Forces.

The amendment will urge Brussels to blacklist the IRGC military force, the volunteer Basij force, and the IRGC's Quds Force.

Tehran has repeatedly announced that the IRGC is an official state body which has had and will continue to have an important and key role in ensuring the security of Iran and the region.

Iranian officials have recently warned the EU that its plan to blacklist the IRGC as a “terrorist organization” may have unbearable consequences and ruin any chance of negotiations.

They cautioned the European governments against falling into the trap of a plot hatched by the US and Israel, calling on the EU to maintain its independence from the US.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Turkey summons Danish envoy over Quran-burning protest in Copenhagen

27 January ,2023

Turkey summoned the Danish ambassador on Friday over reports that an anti-Islam activist would be allowed to burn the Quran during a series of protests in Copenhagen.

Rasmus Paludan, a far-right activist who holds both Danish and Swedish citizenship, infuriated Turkey by staging a Quran-burning protest in Sweden on January 21.

He told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that he would replicate the protest in front of the Turkish embassy in Copenhagen every Friday until Sweden is admitted into NATO. Reports said he would first burn the Quran outside a mosque in Copenhagen, then stage the same demonstration in front of the Turkish and Russian embassies.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said the Danish ambassador was summoned to the Turkish foreign ministry where Turkish officials “strongly condemned the permission given to this provocative act which clearly constitutes a hate crime.”

The ambassador was told that “Denmark’s attitude is unacceptable” and that Turkey expected that the permission be revoked, according to Anadolu.

Paludan’s action last week caused a fury in Turkey, which criticized Swedish authorities for allowing the demonstration to take place outside the Turkish embassy. Turkey’s president cast serious doubt on NATO’s expansion, warning Sweden not to expect support for its membership bid in the military alliance.

Turkey also indefinitely postponed a key meeting in Brussels that would have discussed Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership, saying such a meeting would have been “meaningless.”

Sweden and Finland abandoned their long-standing policies of military nonalignment and applied for NATO membership after Russian forces launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

NATO-member Turkey, which is pressing the two countries to crack down on Kurdish militants and other groups it considers terrorists, hasn’t yet endorsed their accession, which requires unanimous approval from all existing alliance members.

A lawyer, Paludan established far-right parties in both Sweden and Denmark that have failed to win any seats in national, regional or municipal elections. In last year’s parliamentary election in Sweden, his party received just 156 votes nationwide.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran replaces Tehran police chief after attack on Azerbaijan’s embassy

27 January ,2023

Iran appointed a new police chief for Tehran on Friday following an armed attack on the Azerbaijani embassy in the capital, though it was unclear if the appointment was influenced by the attack.

Abbas-Ali Mohammadian has been named as the new police commander of Tehran, replacing Hossein Rahimi, who will now head a police department tasked with countering “economic crimes,” the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

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The announcement came soon after a gunman attacked Azerbaijan’s embassy in Tehran, killing an Azerbaijani security official and wounding two others.

Iranian police and media did not say if there was any connection between the announcement and the attack.

Iranian authorities said the attacker, an Iranian man, was arrested and cited “personal and family problems” as the motivation for the attack.

Azerbaijan blamed Iran for the attack and said it was evacuating its embassy in Tehran.

“All responsibility for the attack lies with Iran,” Azerbaijani foreign ministry spokesman Ayxan Hacizada said, adding that the attack was “encouraged” by a recent anti-Azerbaijani campaign in Iranian media.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev described the attack as “an act of terrorism.”

Iran and Azerbaijan share a border of around 700 kilometers (430 miles).

The two countries have a complex relationship. Iran is wary of Azerbaijan’s relations with Israel, a major supplier of arms to Baku. Tehran is also wary over nationalists in Azerbaijan and its close ally Turkey fanning separatist tendencies among its sizeable ethnic Azeri population.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Azerbaijan evacuates Tehran embassy, blames Iran for attack

27 January ,2023

Azerbaijan on Friday said it was evacuating staff from its embassy in Tehran, blaming Iran for a “terrorist” attack in which the head of security was killed and two guards wounded.

Tehran’s police chief said the man who carried out the attack was motivated by “personal” reasons.

“All responsibility for the attack lies with Iran,” Azerbaijani foreign ministry spokesman Ayxan Hacizada told local media.

He said a recent anti-Azerbaijani campaign in Iranian media had “encouraged the attack.”

Hacizada later told Turkish TRT Haber TV station that the embassy staff “are being evacuated from Iran.”

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said on Twitter: “I strongly condemn the terrorist attack.”

In a statement earlier on Friday Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry said “a man armed with a Kalashnikov killed the head of the diplomatic mission’s guard.”

It said that two guards injured by the attacker were in a “satisfactory” condition and an investigation had been launched.

The attacker has been arrested and is an Iranian man married to an Azerbaijani woman, Tehran’s police chief General Hossein Rahimi said.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Nasser Kanani, said Tehran strongly condemned “the armed attack... which unfortunately resulted in the death of one person.”

“According to the preliminary investigation, these are personal motives,” he added.

Iran is home to millions of Turkic-speaking, ethnic Azerbaijanis and it has long accused Baku of fomenting separatist sentiments in its territory.

Relations between the two countries have traditionally been sour, with the former Soviet republic a close ally of Iran’s historical rival Turkey.

Source: Al Arabiya

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CIA chief visits Israel, Palestinian territories

Abdel Raouf Arnaout 



CIA chief William Burns has begun an unannounced visit to the Palestinian territories and Tel Aviv, coinciding with the escalation of tensions between the two sides.

The Israeli Broadcasting Corporation said on Friday that Burns arrived in Tel Aviv on Thursday and met with senior Israeli officials, including the head of Mossad, David Barnea.

It indicated that Burns is also visiting the Palestinian territories, without disclosing further details.

Burns' visit comes after the visit of US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, and prior to the visit of Washington's Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the Palestinian territories and Israel, which are expected on Monday and Tuesday.

On Thursday, the Palestinian leadership announced the cessation of security coordination with Israel in response to the killing of nine Palestinians and the wounding of 20 others, in an Israeli incursion into the Jenin refugee camp, in the northern West Bank.

The US administration called on the Palestinian and Israeli sides to reduce tension.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Israeli army says it intercepted 2 rockets fired from Gaza

Said Amouri   



The Israeli army early Friday intercepted two rockets fired from the blockaded Gaza Strip, according to the army spokesperson.

"The Iron Dome intercepted two rockets fired by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip towards southern Israel," the Israeli army spokesperson, Avichay Adraee, said in a statement.

The official Kan TV channel said that warning sirens sounded in several areas bordering the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, before the two rockets were intercepted.

No Palestinian faction in the Gaza Strip claimed responsibility for the attack which came following a deadly Israeli army operation in the occupied West Bank.
Source: Anadolu Agency

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Ulema, Mashaikh And Religious Scholars of Pakistan Urge Sweden, Dutch Govts For Prompt Action Against Desecrators Of Holy Quran

January 27, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Ulema Mashaikh and religious scholars on Friday observed the ‘Sanctity of Quran and Namoos-e-Risalat Day’ and urged the governments of Sweden and Netherlands to take immediate action against those who breached the sanctity and prestige of the Holy Quran.

Addressing the public congregation at Friday Prayer across the country, they underlined the need to legislate against the perspective of international law from the forum of the United Nations against Islamophobia, besides heavenly religions and divine books.

Ulema said the desecrators had hurt the religious feelings of 1.5 billion Muslims on the globe. Islam was a religion of peace and security and the teachings of the Holy Quran was to promote peace, affection, tolerance, and harmony, they added.

They made it clear that sacrilegious remarks about the sanctity of any religion could not be termed as freedom of expression.

In this regard, the leadership of Pakistan Ulema Council addressed Friday sermons in their respective districts and divisions including Chairman Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi who is also the prime minister’s special representative for interfaith harmony and middle east, in Lahore, Maulana Dr Abu Bakar Siddique (Islamabad), Allama Abdul Haq Mujahid (Multan), Qazi Mutiullah Saeedi (Gujarat), Maulana Asadullah Farooq (Lahore), Maulana Dr Asad Zakaria (Karachi), Maulana Haq Nawaz Khalid, Maulana Ubaidullah Gormani, Allama Tahirul Hasan (Faisalabad), Maulana Muhammad Shafi Qasmi, Maulana Hanif Usmani (Sahiwal), Pir Asadhabib Shah Jamali, Maulana Muhammad Asghar Khosa (Dera Ghazi Khan), Maulana Nauman Hashir, Maulana Tahir Aqeel Awan (Rawalpindi), Maulana Abu Bakr Sabri, (Islamabad), Maulana Anwar-ul-Haq Mujahid, Shabir Yusuf Gujjar, Maulana Abdul Malik Asif (Multan), Maulana Aslam Siddiqui, Maulana Abdul Hakeem Athar, Maulana Islamuddin, Qari Muhammad Aslam Qadri, Qari Shams-ul-Haq (Lahore), Maulana Hasan Ahmad Hussaini (Diska), Maulana Muhammad Khurshid Nomani (Bahalangar), Maulana Abdullah Haqqani, Maulana Abdullah Rashidi (Kasur), Mian Rashid Munir (Sialkot), Maulana Asim Shad, Maulana Abdul Waheed Farooqui (Narowal), Maulana Abu Bakar Hamza (Chakwal), Maulana Habib-ur-Rehman Abid, Maulana Tayyab Gurmani, Maulana Izhar-ul-Haq Khalid, Sahibzada Hamza Tahir-ul-Hasan (Faisalabad), Maulana Saadullah Ludhianvi (Toba Tek Singh), Maulana Anis-ur-Rehman Baloch (Gojra), Maulana Abdul Rasheed (Hafizabad), Mufti Muhammad Umar Farooq (Khanewal), Maulana Abdul Ghaffar Shah Hijazi (Lodhran), Maulana Tanveer Ahmed (Bahawalpur), Maulana Muhammad Ahmad Makki, Maulana Muhammad Ashfaq Patafi (Muzaffargarh), Maulana Kaleemullah Muawiya (Nankana), Maulana Azizur Rahman Muawiya (Talagung), Maulana Aziz Akbar Qasmi ( Rajanpur), Maulana Saadullah Shafiq (Rahimyar Khan), Maulana Hussain Ahmed Petitioner (Karachi), Maulana Yasir Alvi (Samandari), Qari Abdul Rauf, Maulana Matloob Mahar (Bahawalnagar), Hafiz Muhammad Talha Farooqui (Vehari), Maulana Zubair Khatana. (Gujranwala), Maulana Aqeel Zubiri (Sargodha), Qari Azizur Rehman (Leh), Maulana Atif Iqbal (Kamalia) and others.

The Ulema said Allah Almighty had taken the responsibility of protecting the Holy Quran and by such blasphemous acts, the message of the Holy Quran could not be curtailed.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Allah Responsible For Pakistan's Prosperity, Development: Pakistan Finance Minister

Jan 28, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Finance minister Ishaq Dar on Friday said Pakistan is the only country founded in the name of Islam and Allah is responsible for its development and prosperity, as the cash-strapped nation faced an acute balance of payments crisis.

Addressing the inauguration ceremony of the Green Line Express Train service here, the senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader said that he had full faith that Pakistan would progress because it was created in the name of Islam.

"If Allah can create Pakistan then He can also protect, develop, and make it prosper," Dar said.

The finance minister said, "they are trying their best to improve Pakistan's condition under prime minister Shehbaz Sharif's leadership".

Dar reiterated the incumbent government inherited several problems from the previous government led by Imran Khan, adding, the government was working day and night.

"The team is trying to improve the situation ahead of the elections."

He said the country is still suffering due to the "drama" that started five years ago and insisted that the economy was strong during former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's tenure from 2013-2017.

The finance minister claimed that Pakistan Stock Exchange was the best-performing capital market in South Asia and ranked fifth in the world during Nawaz Sharif's era and the sights of the world institutions were set on it.

Dar said that Pakistan was now paying the price for the "Panama drama", the ouster of the PML-N government, and similar issues it faced over the last five years. "Pakistan was on the growth track during Nawaz's tenure, but it was derailed," he said.

"People can see the destruction the country suffered in the last five years, and they know who has delivered in the past," Dar added.

Facing an acute balance of payments crisis, Pakistan is desperate to secure much-needed external financing, with less than three weeks' worth of import cover in its foreign exchange reserves, which fell $923 million to $3.68 billion.

Pakistan secured a $6 billion IMF bailout in 2019. It was topped up with another $1.1 billion in 2022 to help the country following the unprecedented floods. But the IMF suspended disbursements in November due to Pakistan's failure to make more progress on fiscal consolidation amidst political turmoil in the country.

Meanwhile, the Washington-based global lender announced on Thursday that it was sending a staff mission to Islamabad this month to discuss resuming the bailout programme.

Despite repeated claims by the finance minister, who replaced Miftah Ismail, to bring the dollar rate under Rs 200, the greenback surged to a record high of Rs 268.30 in the interbank market.

The Pakistani rupee extended its downward trend on Friday with the local currency plunging over Rs 12 against the US dollar in the interbank market as the government eased its control over the currency in order to convince the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to release pending loan tranche.

The local unit was trading at Rs 268.30 compared to Thursday's close of Rs 255.43 in the interbank market.

Source: Times Of India

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Pakistani rupee fall slows as PM Sharif hopes for IMF funds

Jan 27, 2023

KARACHI: The Pakistani rupee's two-day decline slowed on Friday on news that an IMF team was visiting Islamabad next week to discuss unlocking a suspended bailout package, though the currency still closed at a record low against the US dollar.

The rupee closed at 262.6 per dollar in the interbank market, down 2.7%, on Friday, after a 9.61% slump on Thursday, which was its the biggest single-day dip, according to the central bank.

The rupee has been dropping to adjust to a market based exchange rate after an artificial upper cap on the local currency was lifted in line with IMF reforms.

Left with only $3.68 billion in foreign exchange reserves, Pakistan barely has enough to cover three weeks of imports, and desperately needs the IMF to release the next $1 billion tranche of its bailout programme to head off a potential default.

The IMF said on Thursday that its delegation would visit Pakistan from January 31 to February 9, leaving Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif optimistic that the disbursements would start flowing again.

"An agreement with the IMF, God willing, will be done... We will soon be out of difficult times," Sharif said at an event in Islamabad.

A $6 billion IMF package was agreed in 2019, and topped up to $7 billion after last year's devastating floods, but disbursements were suspended in November due to the government's failure to do more to reduce its fiscal deficit.

The IMF wants the government to commit to more substantial fiscal measures, and once it decides to resume lending, other multilateral and bilateral lenders are expected to offer more funding to the politically unstable, nuclear-armed South Asian nation.

Former finance minister Miftah Ismail told Geo TV that the unlocked funding from the IMF would help head off the risk of Pakistan defaulting on its external obligations.

This week's plunge in the rupee's value will pile pressure onto Pakistan's population who are already facing high prices of imported food and fuel.

On Friday, the rupee fell 1.1% on the open market to trade between 263-265 per dollar, the Exchange Currency Association of Pakistan said. The closing rates of the open market - which are different to the official rate - are yet to be finalised for the day.

The removal of the cap has resulted in the two markets aligning more closely, and exchange companies expected a black market in dollars to eventually dry up.

The Pakistan Stock Exchange's benchmark index weakened 0.31% on Friday, having gained 2% on Thursday in anticipation of encouraging news from the IMF.
Source: Times Of India

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Mysterious illness claims 18 lives in Pakistan

Jan 27, 2023

KARACHI: A mysterious illness has killed 18 people, mostly children, in Karachi's Kemari area with health officials in this southern Pakistani port city still unable to find the cause of the deaths.

Director Health Services Abdul Hameed Jumani confirmed on Friday that 18 people, including 14 children, died from the mysterious illness in the Mawach Goth area in Kemari between January 10 and 25.

“A health team is working right now to find the cause of these deaths but we suspect it may be related to the sea or water as the goth (village) where these deaths have taken place is close to the coastal belt,” he said.

Mawach Goth is a slum area with inhabitants mostly daily wage earners or fishermen.

Jumani said that the families of the deceased had confirmed that before their deaths their loved ones had high fever, swelling in throats and faced difficulty in breathing.

“Some residents have also complained that in the last two weeks there is a strange smell in the area,” the official said.

Deputy Commissioner Kemari, Mukhtar Ali Abro, said they had also detained a factory owner for questioning.

“We have called the provincial environmental agency as well which has collected samples from three factories which were operating in the area,” he said.

The deceased include six people from one family including three children while a man lost his wife and three children to the mysterious illness.

Head of the Sindh centre for chemical sciences Iqbal Chaudhary said they had also collected some samples of soya bean from the factories and they felt the deaths could have been caused by soya allergy.

Source: Times Of India

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Levies soldier martyred in Bolan terror attack

January 27, 2023

BOLAN: A soldier of Levies Force was martyred in a terrorist attack in Bolan District of Balochistan on Friday.

The terrorists targeted a checkpost of the Levies Force in Bala Nari area of Bolan and opened indiscriminate firing on the personnel deployed there.

In the ensuing battle, Levies soldier Khalid Ahmad embraced martyrdom.

The terrorists fled from the scene while firing.

The latest attack came four days after another Levies Force soldier was martyred and an officer got injured when unidentified gunmen opened fire on their vehicle near the Wali Khan bypass in Mastung district.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Pakistan strongly condemns Israel’s attack in Palestine

January 27, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan strongly condemned Israel’s brutal attack on the city and camp of Jenin in the State of Palestine, killing several innocent Palestinians, including an elderly woman, and injuring at least 20 others. Pakistan denounces the spate of reprehensible, cold blooded and murderous attacks that have already killed thirty (30) Palestinians this month.

According to the press release issued by Foreign Office (FO) Pakistan called upon the international community to assume its responsibility in bringing these illegal incursions and actions by the Israeli occupation forces to a halt and ensuring adequate protection of the human rights of the Palestinian people.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Southeast Asia


After protesting at Swedish Embassy in KL, Islamist group heads over to Dutch Embassy for apology over torn Quran

By Radzi Razak

27 Jan 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 27 — The Malaysian chapter of a pro-caliphate group Hizbur Tahrir mounted its second demonstration outside the Embassy of the Netherlands here after Friday prayers this afternoon, protesting the desecration of a Quran by a Dutch political leader earlier this week.

Some 80 members of the group, including children, had earlier held a peaceful protest outside the Swedish Embassy on Jalan Mayang Sari this morning, to condemn the burning of a Quran by Swedish-Danish politician Rasmus Paludan who leads a Danish party called Stram Kurs (which means Hard Line) outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm last week.

Now grown to about 100 strong, they regrouped at the nearby Tabung Haji mosque after Friday prayers before marching for about one kilometre to the Dutch Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

They were protesting against Edwin Wagensveld, head of the Dutch chapter of the German Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamicisation of the Occident, abbreviated as Pegida, who tore pages from the Islamic holy book and stepped all over them at The Hague earlier this week.

Hizbur Tahrir — a controversial Muslim group with chapters worldwide — was also joined by several other people wearing T-shirts associated with several local Malay-Muslim political parties.

Its representative Mu’adz Abu Thalhah later told the crowd that it had handed over its memorandum of demands to Eva Oskam, deputy head of the Netherlands mission here.

He claimed Oskam had “apologised” on behalf of the Netherlands government.

“But for us, the one who did it must apologise and the Netherlands government itself must apologise to all Muslims because the one who did it said his action was allowed by the government,” he told the demonstrators after meeting the Dutch representatives.

Mu’adz also claimed that Muslim leaders did not do enough to give a “stern warning” over Wagensveld’s action.

“The Muslim government leaders must give stern warning to both Swedish and Netherlands governments because as far as I see for now there are only rhetorical warnings issued,” he said, adding that the caliphate of old had taken military action when Muslims were slighted in the past.

Source: Malay Mail

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Malaysian Scholar Hails Restu Global Quranic Arts Festival

January 28, 2023

Speaking to IQNA, Muhammad Bukhari Lubis, a professor of Persian literature in Malaysia, called for continuation of such programs that play a role in promotion of the Quranic culture.

He said there are many qaris and Quran reciters in Malaysia but there is need for more efforts to encourage contemplating the Holy Book as well.

Not all Malaysians know Arabic and therefore they need to read a translation of the Quran, he stated.

“Muslims in Malaysia should reflect on the Quran and try to understand (its concepts),” he said, noting that there are TV and Radio stations like TV Al-Hijrah that broadcast good programs in the field of teaching the Quran and Islamic concepts.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Muhammad Bukhari Lubis referred to his interest in the Persian language and literature, saying he studied the language first in Chicago and then in the holy city of Mashhad in Iran.

He noted that he got his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, in the field of comparative study of Turkish, Arabic, Persian and Malay literatures.

The Malaysian scholar described Persian as a very beautiful language and said he is very much interested in studying the Persian literature.

The Restu Global Quranic Arts Festival has been organized in Putrajaya by Restu Foundation and foreign partners including the Iranian Cultural Center in Malaysia.

It kicked off on January 20, 2023, and will run for ten days. Four countries, including the Islamic Republic of Iran, are participating in the festival.

The event allows visitors to witness special exhibitions, and interact with the Quran and Islamic arts and Islamic products entrepreneurs while also trying to improve the image of Islam as an inclusive and peaceful religion.

Source: IQNA

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UMNO expels former Malaysian health minister Khairy, suspends ex-defence minister Hishammuddin

Aqil Haziq Mahmud

28 Jan 2023

SINGAPORE: The United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) has expelled former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin, while former defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein was among a number of politicians suspended from the party.

According to a statement issued on Friday night (Jan 27) following a party supreme council meeting, UMNO secretary-general Ahmad Maslan said former youth chief Mr Khairy and supreme council member Noh Omar have been sacked for breaching party disciplinary rules.

“UMNO members who have been sacked based on disciplinary breaches … due to wrongdoings during the 15th General Election (GE15) are Tan Sri Noh Omar and Saudara Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar,” he said.

Mr Hishammuddin, former UMNO information chief Shahril Hamdan as well as UMNO leaders Fathul Bari Mat Jahya, Maulizan Bujang and Salim Sharif have been suspended for six years, he said.

Others who have been sacked include five party members from the Pasir Gudang division, nine from the Putrajaya division, two from the Tanjung Karang division, and 26 members from UMNO’s Pahang chapter.

“Among their wrongdoings are becoming independent candidates, candidates for parties other than Barisan Nasional (BN) and being involved in helping opponent parties during GE15,” Mr Ahmad said.

The Friday supreme council meeting was keenly watched after UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said a day earlier that the party will undergo “mass cleansing" to get rid of "saboteurs" and those who have "shot themselves in the foot".

He said this included members who allegedly sabotaged the party and its candidates during GE15, 10 of whom Ahmad Zahid identified by name during the party’s recent general assembly from Jan 11 to Jan 14.

The 10 politicians, who included Mr Hishammuddin, had sided with Perikatan Nasional (PN) chairman Muhyiddin Yassin in forming the new government, Ahmad Zahid said.

Mr Shahril had resigned as information chief in the immediate aftermath of GE15, urging Ahmad Zahid to take responsibility for the party’s defeat by stepping down.

Mr Noh resigned as the chief of UMNO’s Selangor chapter in November after saying that he no longer had confidence in Ahmad Zahid.

Mr Khairy had been a vocal opponent of a motion tabled during the recent party general assembly. The motion was to block UMNO’s top two posts - party president and deputy president - from being challenged at the party’s internal elections, which must be held by May.

Rumours of such a motion had swirled as some prominent party members came out to say they preferred for the posts to remain uncontested, citing the need to maintain party unity as it rebuilds following its dismal performance at GE15.

Ahmad Zahid said during his party policy speech on Jan 13 that he was confident in the democratic process and would leave it to the delegates to decide on the issue. He had consistently maintained that he was ready to defend his position.

When a no-contest motion was first tabled by an UMNO delegate from Negeri Sembilan later that day, it was met with boos in the convention hall.

But the motion was passed by the general assembly the next day in a majority vote, paving the way for Ahmad Zahid and his deputy Mohamad Hasan to serve at least another term.

Mr Khairy alleged in a TikTok video on the same day that some delegates’ seat tags at the convention hall were removed, to be replaced with those of "imported" delegates who would push through the motion.

This prompted a rebuke by UMNO Sungai Besar division chief Jamal Yunos, who told reporters on Saturday that Mr Khairy was tarnishing the party by spreading baseless claims.

UMNO’s most recent leadership contest, in 2018, saw Ahmad Zahid fend off challenges for the presidency from Mr Khairy and former veteran MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

Mr Khairy was a three-term MP for Rembau, Negeri Sembilan before he was moved to contest in the urban constituency of Sungai Buloh in Selangor during the GE15 on Nov 19. Urban seats are considered Pakatan Harapan (PH) strongholds. Mr Khairy eventually lost in a seven-cornered contest.

In a tweet after the party’s announcement on Friday night, Mr Khairy wrote: “Tonight I was sacked by the party I loved, that I was loyal to.

“Unbowed, unbent, unbroken.”

The BN coalition - led by UMNO - emerged a distant third in the election by winning only 30 seats, behind PH’s 81 seats and PN’s 74 seats.

Source: Channel News Asia

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Human Rights Watch urges Morocco not to extradite Saudi Shia man

27 January, 2023

A human rights watchdog called on Morocco on Friday not to extradite a Shia Muslim to his homeland of Saudi Arabia, citing fears he could face torture and an unfair trial there.

Hassan Al Rabea, who has been in Morocco since last summer, has been held in a prison near Rabat after being arrested at Marrakech airport on January 14, Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

Saudi prosecutors accuse Rabea of leaving the kingdom illegally with the help of terrorists, the campaign group added.

Saudi Arabia did not immediately respond to a request for a comment. It has denied previous accusations that it practices torture and conducts unfair trials.

Rabea's case will be examined by a Moroccan court, which will submit a verdict on the legality of his extradition before a final decision is made by the government, a Moroccan judicial source said.

Shia activists in conservative, mostly Sunni Muslim, Saudi Arabia, say the government has cracked down on their minority sect for years as part of a regional tussle for influence with Shia-majority Iran.

Saudi Arabia denies any discrimination against Shias. It has accused Iran of instigating past unrest in the kingdom by the Shia community.

"The Moroccan government should stand for rights and resist Saudi efforts to forcibly return him," Human Rights Watch said.

Source: The New Arab

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Tunisian activists decry intimidation as vote looms

27 January ,2023

Tunisian activist Chaimaa Issa is due to face a military court on Friday on charges of insulting a president whom she accuses of trashing the democracy built from a 2011 revolution in which she took full part.

Opposition figures say her trial is part of an effort by the authorities to curb dissent against President Kais Saied amid a parliamentary election in which low enthusiasm has undermined his claim of public support for his seizure of powers.

The first round of the election in December drew turnout of only 11 percent, prompting widespread ridicule among Saied’s opponents and new demands by the powerful labor union that he change tack.

The second round will come on Sunday, two days after Issa’s trial is due to begin and after a string of prosecutions of other critics of the president.

“The situation is very dangerous and disturbing because of the attacks on democracy,” she said.

Saied, who was elected in a landslide in 2019, sent tanks to shut down parliament in 2021 before seizing most powers and rewriting the constitution, passing a new version last year in a referendum.

He said his actions were both legal and necessary to save Tunisia from years of economic stagnation and political bickering, and has labelled his foes traitors, calling for action against them.

The authorities have rejected claims that any of the trials, including that of Issa, are politically motivated.

However, while Saied has promised to defend rights and freedoms won in the election, the new parliament that voters are selecting will have hardly any power and he will retain ultimate authority.


Issa is one of several prominent critics of Saied facing court cases, timing that the opposition believes is a deliberate tactic of intimidation.

“Saied started a campaign against the leaders of the front row of the opposition,” said Najib Chebbi, head of the “Salvation Front” coalition of opposition groups that have held repeated protests against the president.

Ali Laaryedh, a leader of the biggest opposition party, Ennahda, was imprisoned last month on charges of having helped send extremists to Syria while part of the ruling coalition, something he and it deny.

Ghazi Chouachi, the former leader of Attayar party and a vocal opponent of Saied, is being prosecuted for a radio interview in which he criticized the president.

Another prominent activist, Ayachi Hammami, faces trial under a law prohibiting the spread of “fake news” online after having criticized Saied and the justice minister.

For Issa, the contrast between today’s Tunisia and the democracy she sought to build after the 2011 revolution is stark.

Two days before the previous autocracy collapsed in January 2011, she had written a social media post saying she was prepared to pay any price for freedom. As the daughter of a political prisoner, it was a cost she understood.

“Today, I repeat the same message. I am ready to pay the price for freedom and democracy,” she said.

For many Tunisians, however, political and democratic goals have taken a back seat to an economic crash that has pushed the state to the brink of bankruptcy while emptying supermarket shelves of key goods.

The UGTT labor union, which says it has a million members, has focused its attacks on Saied’s handling of the economy and his government’s promises of painful reforms as the price of securing an international bailout.

It now demands Saied also abort his political plans and instead move to a national dialogue that includes all the main civil society groupings to forge a new path forwards.

The dialogue represents “a last opportunity” for Saied, though he has so far rejected the idea, said Sami Tahri, a senior UGTT official.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Naira redesign: Islamic group tells Nigerian govt to extend deadline of old notes till February

January 27, 2023

By Don Silas

An Islamic group, Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, has appealed to the Federal Government to extend the deadline by at least two weeks.

Barrister Muhammad Mansur Aliyu, the Chairman of MURIC, Sokoto State chapter, made the appeal in a statement on Friday.

The statement read: “However, this week businesses in Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara States were almost grounded as a result of the 31st January, 2023 deadline for expiration of old naira notes as a result of refusal to accept the old naira notes in commercial transactions out of fear of possible inability to deposit the old naira notes in commercial banks.

“This is because every bank a customer goes to will meet a very long queue of depositors, trying to deposit their old naira notes in their attempt to beat the deadline. Businessmen have to be at the bank as early as 6:00 am in order to join the queue at commercial banks to have their old naira notes changed. Moreover, because of lack of enough new naira notes in circulation, fear of receiving old naira notes and unsure of whether one would be able to deposit the money he collected from customers at banks before the deadline due to very long queues many businessmen stopped collecting old notes.

“Many filling stations and other essential services providers also closed, because most of their customers come with old naira notes and they are not sure whether they would be able to deposit the same to the bank. This has currently made life more difficult for ordinary citizens. Many Nigerians have lamented the nonavailability and scarcity of the new notes, this is because banks up till today, still give out the old naira notes to customers with the deadline only a few days away.

“Sequel to the foregoing, we appeal to the Federal Government to reconsider its decision by extending the 31st January, 2023 deadline for expiration of old naira notes by at least two weeks to enable Nigerians to swap their old naira with the new naira notes. We also call on the security agencies particularly the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit to closely monitor how commercial bank managers handle the new naira notes, they receive from Central Bank of Nigeria, which apex bank has been consistently insisting that the new notes are readily available at the vaults nationwide ready for collection. We call on Nigerians to remain peaceful and stop panicking about the money swap.”

Recall that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, had on October 26, 2022 announced its plan to redesign N200, N500 and N1,000 notes.

Source: Daily Post Nigeria

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North America


US court convicts Muslim preacher of supporting Islamic State group

27 January 2023

Muslim cleric Abdullah el-Faisal has been convicted in a US court on state terrorism charges, after being extradited to New York City following an undercover police operation.

The Manhattan District Attorney's office said it was the first-ever state-level trial on terrorism charges. New York's laws on terrorism were passed a week after the 9/11 attacks.

Faisal, who was born Trevor William Forrest and often goes by Shaikh Faisal, is due to be sentenced next month after his conviction in the state's supreme court in Manhattan, on counts including soliciting or providing support for an act of terrorism, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office said.

Prosecutors said Faisal, whom they described as highly influential, had supported the Islamic State (IS) group for several years, encouraging violent acts in online lectures and calling for the creation of an Islamic caliphate.

Authorities said that beginning in 2016, an undercover officer in New York City began communicating with him while he was living in Jamaica. He was arrested in his native Jamaica in 2017 and extradited to New York City in 2020.

Faisal began messaging the officer - who claimed to be an aspiring militant with medical training - on WhatsApp, The New York Times reported.

Faisal allegedly offered to help the female officer join IS and introduced her to a member of the group in Syria. He told her the man would help her travel to join the group and would also be a suitable husband for her.

According to the prosecutors, Faisal was allegedly close to one of the suicide bombers who detonated explosives in London in 2005, when 52 people were killed. The man currently serving a life sentence for the attempted Times Square bombing in 2010 allegedly listened to Faisal’s sermons on an iPod.

Michael Fineman, an attorney for Faisal, said he was "disappointed" by the decision, adding that the cleric never actually agreed to help the officer travel to territory controlled by the IS group. Fineman said he planned to appeal the ruling.

In 2003, Faisal served four years in prison in Britain after being convicted of "inciting racial hatred and soliciting murder after encouraging the killing of Hindus, Jews and Americans".

After his prison sentence, he lived in Kenya. In 2010, the government deported Faisal to Jamaica. While living in Jamaica, he reached a global audience through social media and his personal website.

Source: Middle East Eye

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Top US Treasury official to visit Middle East countries to ensure sanction compliance

28 January ,2023

The US Treasury Department’s top sanctions official on a trip to the Middle East next week will warn countries and businesses that they could lose US market access if they do business with entities subject to US curbs as Washington cracks down on Russian attempts to evade sanctions imposed over its war in Ukraine.

Brian Nelson, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, will travel to Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey from January 29 to February 3 and meet with government officials as well as businesses and financial institutions to reiterate Washington’s sanctions policy and compliance, a Treasury spokesperson told Reuters.

“Individuals and institutions operating in permissive jurisdictions risk potentially losing access to US markets on account of doing business with sanctioned entities or not conducting appropriate due diligence,” the spokesperson said.

While in the region, Nelson will discuss Treasury’s efforts to crack down on Russian efforts to evade sanctions and export controls imposed over its brutal war against Ukraine, Iran’s destabilizing activity in the region, illicit finance risks undermining economic growth, and foreign investment.

The trip marks the latest visit to Turkey by a senior Treasury official to discuss sanctions, following a string of warnings last year by Treasury and Commerce Department officials, as Washington ramped up pressure on Ankara to ensure enforcement of US curbs on Russia.

Strained relations

Nelson’s trip coincides with a period of strained ties between the United States and Turkey as the two NATO allies disagree over a host of issues.

Most recently, Turkey’s refusal to green-light the NATO bids of Sweden and Finland has troubled Washington, while Ankara is frustrated that its request to buy F-16 fighter jets is increasingly linked to whether the two Nordic countries can join the alliance.

Nelson will visit Ankara, the Turkish capital, and financial hub Istanbul on February 2-3. He will warn businesses and banks that they should avoid transactions related to potential dual-use technology transfers, which could ultimately be used by Russia’s military, the spokesperson said.

Dual-use items can have both commercial and military applications.

Washington and its allies have imposed several rounds of sanctions targeting Moscow since the invasion, which has killed and wounded thousands and reduced Ukrainian cities to rubble.

Turkey has condemned Russia’s invasion and sent armed drones to Ukraine. At the same time, it opposes Western sanctions on Russia and has close ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, its Black Sea neighbors.

It has also ramped up trade and tourism with Russia. Some Turkish firms have purchased or sought to buy Russian assets from Western partners pulling back due to the sanctions, while others maintain large assets in the country.

But Ankara has pledged that international sanctions will not be circumvented in Turkey.

Washington is also concerned about evasion of US sanctions on Iran.

The United States last month imposed sanctions on prominent Turkish businessman Sitki Ayan and his network of firms, accusing him of acting as a facilitator for oil sales and money laundering on behalf of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Source: Al Arabiya

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US condemns ‘horrific’ East Jerusalem synagogue attack that killed seven

27 January ,2023

At least seven people were killed in a shooting outside a synagogue in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem on Friday, with the gunman killed at the scene, police and medics said.

“Earlier this evening at around 8:30 pm (1830 GMT), a terrorist arrived at a synagogue in the Neve Yaakov boulevard in Jerusalem and proceeded to shoot at a number of people in the area,” a police statement said. “Police forces quickly arrived at the scene, engaged with the terrorist and opened fire at him. The terrorist was neutralized,” it added.

The United States strongly condemned the deadly attack on and voiced solidarity with Israel ahead of a visit by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“This is absolutely horrific,” State Department Spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.

“We condemn this apparent terrorist attack in the strongest terms. Our commitment to Israel’s security remains ironclad, and we are in direct touch with our Israeli partners.”

“We stand with the Israeli people in solidarity,” he said.

Patel said there would be no change in the travel plans of Blinken, who plans to meet with the leaders of Israel, the Palestinian Authority as well as Egypt starting Sunday.

Blinken will discuss “steps to be taken to de-escalate tensions,” Patel said.

Fadi Dekidek, a paramedic with the Magen David Adom emergency response agency, said “this is a very serious terror attack.”

The MDA reported a total of 10 gunshot victims, including a 70-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US charges three men in Iran-backed plot to assassinate journalist Masih Alinejad

27 January ,2023

The US announced Friday that three men had been arrested and charged for allegedly taking part in an Iran-backed plot to kill an Iranian dissident with American citizenship.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said that the individuals had been charged for their roles in a conspiracy to assassinate Masih Alinejad, an outspoken critic of the Iranian regime.

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“These charges arise out of an ongoing investigation into the Government of Iran’s efforts to assassinate, on US soil, a journalist, author, and human rights activist who is a US Citizen of Iranian origin,” Garland said in televised remarks. “The Department of Justice will not tolerate attempts by an authoritarian regime to undermine those protections and the rule of law upon which our democracy is based.”

A federal court in New York charged Rafat Amirov, Polad Omarov and Khalid Mehdiyev with murder-for-hire and money laundering allegations.

The three men were part of an Eastern European criminal organization, according to the Justice Department.

Rafat Amirov, from Iran, was arrested Thursday in the US, while Omarov, also known as Araz Aliyev, was arrested in the Czech Republic on Jan. 4. The US will request his extradition.

Mehdiyev was arrested in the US on July 29, 2022.

Following the Justice Department’s announcement, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan slammed the “disturbing pattern” of the Iranian government-sponsored efforts to kill, torture, and intimidate into silence activists who speak out for the freedoms of Iranians around the world. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said Iran continues to pose a threat to the US through its proxies and networks.

She said the indictment exposed a dangerous menace to national security - “a double threat posed by a vicious transnational crime group operating from what it thought was the safe haven of a rogue nation.”

She also pointed out that over the last year, the US had charged members of Iran’s IRGC with a plot to murder former US national security advisor John Bolton.

Iran continues to threaten the lives of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former US Special Envoy for Iran Brian Hook. Both former diplomats continue to receive federal protection as requested by the State Department to the ongoing threats.

‘I’m not scared’

In a video shared on her Twitter account, Alinejad said that she was not afraid and urged the US government to take decisive action against the Iranian regime.

“Let me make it clear: I’m not scared for my life, because I knew that killing, assassinating, torturing, raping, it’s in the DNA of the Islamic Republic,” she said.

“You cannot negotiate with the terrorist regime,” she added.

Alinejad also warned that failure to take action now will lead to an increase in terrorist activities on American soil.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Cancelled by truck convoy, vigil for Quebec mosque massacre to be held Sunday

Jan 27, 2023

Blair Crawford

A year ago, police told Fareed Khan it would be unsafe for him to hold the vigil he planned in downtown Ottawa to mark the fifth anniversary of the Quebec City mosque massacre. The truck convoy protesters were scheduled to arrive that day, police warned. There had been credible threats made online.

So instead, Khan and the others stayed home and watched as thousands of protesters flooded into the capital, waving flags and demanding their freedom, on the first day of what would be a three-week occupation of downtown Ottawa.

This year, the vigil is going ahead Sunday evening at the Canadian Human Rights Monument on Elgin Street, said Khan, founder of Canadians United Against Hate.

“Those so-called ‘freedom protesters’ cared about no one’s freedom but their own,” Khan said Friday. “Those of us who have been victimized by Islamophobia and racist violence, our freedom was denied last year. But not this year. We’re not going to stand down.”

“We’re calling on Canadian to stand against hate — Islamophobia, yes, but all forms of hate.”

It was Jan. 29, 2017, when a 27-year-old man armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a 9mm pistol walked into the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre and opened fire. He killed six men: Ibrahima Barry, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane, Aboubaker Thabti and Azzeddine Soufiane. Five others were critically injured.

The shooter, Alexandre Bissonnette, pleaded guilty and is serving life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

Sunday’s multi-faith vigil will feature an iman, a rabbi and a minister who will honour the Quebec City victims along with other victims of Islamophobia, including a Muslim man stabbed outside a Toronto mosque in 2020 and a Muslim family of four run down by a driver in London, Ont. in 2021.

Hate crimes in Canada increased by 27 per cent in 2021, according to a Statistics Canada report released last summer. Ottawa police report the number of hate incidents reported to them jumped 13 per cent last year.

Khan said the government isn’t doing enough to counter Islamophobia, whether it be internationally such as China’s persecution of its Muslim Uyghur minority, or domestically with Quebec’s Law 21 which bans public employees such as teachers or health care workers from wearing religious symbols.

“It’s the legal and moral responsibility of the federal government to defend the Charter of Rights wherever those rights are being violated,” Khan said. “Either you’re for defending rights or you’re not. There’s no half way. And when human rights are violated there needs to be action taken to hold those violating the rights accountable.”

On Friday, the federal government announced the appointment of Ottawa journalist and human rights activist Amira Elghawaby as Canada’s first Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia. In her position, Elghawaby will be a champion, advisor, expert, and representative” in the government’s fight against Islamophobia, racism and religious intolerance.

Elghawaby begins her job in February, but is already thinking about her priorities.

“The pandemic showed how misinformation and disinformation can create divisions in our society,” Elghawaby said in an interview Friday. “The fact that we’re so divided, so far apart, means we’re potentially going to see more conflict if we don’t figure out a way to hear each other with respect and the ability to discern between what is truth and what is not truth.”

She also cited issues of systemic racism such as a Statistic Canada report released last week that showed racialized recent graduates earn less and have fewer benefits than white graduates.

“These reports signal that there’s still much work to do,” she said.

“My role is to amplify the concerns of our community, talk about them with decision makers and policy makers, and do everything I can to bring these issues forward and have a constructive dialogue,” Elghawaby said.

Source: Ottawa Sun

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