New Age Islam
Thu Nov 26 2020, 07:15 PM

Islamic World News ( 9 Apr 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

'Intimacies of Marriage Lie Beyond State's Control': SC on Why it Set Hadiya Free

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

26-year-old Kerala woman, Haidya, who converted to Islam to marry a Muslim man Shafin Jahan.

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'Intimacies of Marriage Lie Beyond State's Control': SC on Why it Set Hadiya Free

Islamic Scholars Debate If Cryptos Meet Sharia Rules

Pakistan Officially Notes UPR 2017 Recommendation to Decriminalise Consensual Sex

Militants Should Not Destroy Their Country For The Sake Of Others: Ghani

Erdogan Presses Kyrgyzstan for ‘Anti-Gulen Action’

 

India

'Intimacies of Marriage Lie Beyond State's Control': SC on Why it Set Hadiya Free

When Hindus Risked Their Lives for a Muslim Seer's Mazaar Set Afire by Rioters in Bihar

Don’t allow Muslims into your houses: Rajasthan BJP MLA

Social media images ‘show’ missing Assam man as Hizbul militant

India extends support to Bangladesh for resolving Rohingya crisis

J&K: Two soldiers killed in Pakistani firing in Rajouri district

Can Rohingyas’ rehabilitation cost Indian poor, SC wonders

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Arab World

Islamic Scholars Debate If Cryptos Meet Sharia Rules

Saudi Arabia Seeks French Help for Music, Opera and Cinema

Iran-Israel Conflict Escalates in Shadow of Syrian Civil War

Calls grow for action over Syria ‘chemical attack’

Syria: Hundreds of Militants, Family Members Leave Douma

Fresh Infighting between Rival Terrorist Groups Reported in Northern Syria

Syrian Army Seizes Vast Network of Terrorists' Tunnels in Eastern Ghouta

Top Aide of ISIL's Baghdadi Killed in Iraqi Forces' Operation in Kirkuk Province

US Scenario to Attack Syrian Army in Eastern Ghouta Disclosed

Syrian Army Grants Amnesty to Tens of Militants in Aleppo Province

Observatory: Blast kills 13 civilians in Syria’s Idlib

Chemical weapons agency investigating Douma attack

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Pakistan

Pakistan Officially Notes UPR 2017 Recommendation to Decriminalise Consensual Sex

Hazara Delegation Meets Chief Justice in Quetta

PHC clubs Mashal verdict appeals, orders hearing in Peshawar

7 injured in suicide attack on FC vehicle in Quetta

Survivor recounts horror of Pakistan gun attack

President says terrorism defeated with cricket revival in Pakistan

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South Asia

Militants Should Not Destroy Their Country For The Sake Of Others: Ghani

Explosion Leaves 15 Civilians Dead, Wounded In Herat Province

Plea for justice for slain Bangladeshi labour leader

US confirms top IS commander in Afghanistan killed in airstrike

UN appeals for humanitarian access in Myanmar's restive regions

Both Taliban and civilians suffered casualties in Kunduz airstrike: Abdullah

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Mideast

Erdogan Presses Kyrgyzstan for ‘Anti-Gulen Action’

Protests Will Go On Until Gaza Siege Ends: Hamas

Syria warns about ‘dangerous repercussions’ of Israeli assaults

Israeli jets target Gaza position

Ali Amini, Remains in Detention for Being a Christian

Palestine: Protesters demand justice for death of journalist

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North America

'Right Wing Uses Islamophobia for Election Gains'

US Initial Assessment Does Not Blame Syria for Chemical Attack

Trump says ‘major decisions’ coming on Syria in ’24-48 hours’

Pentagon offers Trump military choices over Syria

Proposed Solon Mosque and Community Center Takes Heat From Circulating Petition

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Southeast Asia

Indonesian Preacher Gets 9 Years' Jail for Inciting Suicide Bomb Attack in Jakarta

Indonesian militant given 9 years jail for inciting attacks

Fears of tensions over polls in West Kalimantan overblown

Indonesia seizes alleged ‘slave ship’ wanted by Interpol

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Africa

Somalia: Explosives Claim Hundreds of Lives in Somalia

Boko Haram Attack on University Of Maiduguri Foiled – Official

Libyans Demand Execution of Gang Who Killed Three Young Siblings

Boni elders demand action as five schools remain shut over terror attacks

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Europe

Gun Control? London’s Muslim Mayor Sadiq Khan Bans Knives

Outer Hebrides to Get Its First Mosque after Crowd Sourcing Campaign

Bin Salman, Macron meet amid calls for end to French arms sales to Saudis

Hungary's anti-refugee PM who warned Muslim immigrants would 'overrun' Europe wins fourth term

Virginia Man Caught In Terror Probe Pleads Guilty

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/-intimacies-of-marriage-lie-beyond-state-s-control---sc-on-why-it-set-hadiya-free/d/114884

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'Intimacies of Marriage Lie Beyond State's Control': SC on Why it Set Hadiya Free

Apr 10, 2018

An individual’s right to marry a person of his or her choice is a matter of privacy, intrinsic to right to life and state and society have no role to play in determining the choice, the Supreme Court said in a detailed order on the controversial Hadiya case that was uploaded on Monday, almost a month after the apex court, though a brief order, set aside the Kerala high court’s May 2017 ruling that annulled her marital union, holding it as sham.

The detailed order is a severe criticism of the HC order that annulled the marriage of 26-year-old Kerala woman, Haidya, who converted to Islam to marry a Muslim man Shafin Jahan. It is also not kind to Hadiya’s father or the Kerala government.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud held that the high court order violated the freedom of an adult woman. The Kerala government, too, drew flak for supporting the woman’s father who, according to the judges, was “obstinate” and made all efforts to “garrote” his daughter’s desire to live with a man of her choice. “The thought itself is a manifestation of the idea of patriarchal autocracy and possibly self- obsession with the feeling that a female is a chattel,” the bench said in its order.

Hadiya, born Akhila, converted to Islam in January 2016 and married Shafin Jahan in December the same year. In May 2017, the Kerala high court annulled the marriage.

The HC not only invalidated Hadiya’s marriage but also handed her custody to her parents. The order came on a habeas corpus petition filed by Hadiya’s father who had moved the court asking for his daughter’s custody, alleging that she was being taken to Syria and that her husband Jahan was a recruiter for a terror outfit, the Islamic State.

The high court’s annulment order put the spotlight on “love jihad”, a controversial term coined by fringe Hindu groups to describe inter-religious marriages as “a conspiracy by Muslim men to lure Hindu women”.

CJI Misra, writing for himself and Justice Khanwilkar called the HC judgement a “sanctuary of errors” and said the court was “erroneously guided by some kind of social phenomenon that was frescoed before it.”

Justice Chandrachud, who wrote a separate judgement, stressed that “the absolute right of an individual to choose a life partner is not in the least affected by matters of faith.”

“Matters of dress and of food, of ideas and ideologies, of love and partnership are within the central aspects of identity. The law may regulate (subject to constitutional compliance) the conditions of a valid marriage, as it may regulate the situations in which a marital tie can be ended or annulled. These remedies are available to parties to a marriage for it is they who decide best on whether they should accept each other into a marital tie or continue in that relationship. Society has no role to play in determining our choice of partners,” he added.

The SC also said that Hadiya was neither a child nor a vulnerable adult, as argued by her father. “She has absolute autonomy over her person. How Hadiya chooses to lead her life is entirely a matter of her choice. The HC’s view of her lack of candour with the court has no bearing on the legality of her marriage or her right to decide for herself, whom she desires to live with or marry,” Justice Chandrachud said.

“…parental love or concern cannot be allowed to fluster the right of choice of an adult in choosing a man to whom she gets married,” CJI Misra said.

On Hadiya’s conversion, SC said Constitution allows everyone to practice profess one’s own religion and faith. “Choices of faith and belief as indeed choices in matters of marriage lie within an area where individual autonomy is supreme.”

With regard to the NIA investigation that was ordered by SC last year, the bench said the agency can continue with its probe in respect of any matter of criminality, but this should not encroach upon the couple’s marital status.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/no-role-of-state-society-in-individual-s-choice-sc-order-on-hadiya-marriage/story-MfzEg07mJetK8WneQCVOYI.html

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Islamic Scholars Debate If Cryptos Meet Sharia Rules

APR 10, 2018

Dubai

THE world's top Islamic finance scholars are scrutinising the validity of crypto currencies, as debate grows in the industry as to whether such fast emerging financial tools can be deemed Sharia compliant.

The issue of religious permissibility could help determine whether Islamic financial firms can invest in cryptocurrencies, widening their appeal in the industry's main centres in the Gulf and South-east Asia.

The discussions are part of the annual Sharia conference of the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) being held in Bahrain this week.

Financial technology developments mean scholars must revisit Islamic finance concepts and how they have evolved over time, Ebrahim Bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, chairman of the AAOIFI Board of Trustees, said in his opening remarks at the conference.

"This specifically relates to Riba (usury) in cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, among others."

The key question is whether cryptocurrencies fall under the so-called "ribawi" category, which includes commodities like gold and silver.

Ribawi items must be exchanged in equal measure and with immediate transfer of possession; otherwise transactions may involve riba, a major prohibition in Islam.

Scholar deliberations, however, could clarify what types of cryptocurrencies are religiously acceptable and influence future product development. REUTERS

http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/banking-finance/islamic-scholars-debate-if-cryptos-meet-sharia-rules

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Pakistan officially notes UPR 2017 recommendation to decriminalise consensual sex

APRIL 10, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan officially noted a recommendation made during third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) proposing to revoke laws barring consensual non-marital sex.

The UPR recommendations given by Canada and Czech Republic, also suggested decriminalising such acts rather assuring punishment against those who invoked violence against the participants practicing pre-marital consensual sex.

Pakistani officials stated that they had noted the recommendations and will either accept or reject them at a later time, after thorough deliberation. Ministry of Human Rights confirmed that the recommendations were officially noted after Pakistan had adopted the third cycle of UPR in March having reviewed it in November 2017.

In 2008, Pakistan had received 51 recommendations shedding light on various issues. Pakistan rejected the suggestions pertaining to decriminalisation of slander and non-marital sexual relations, halting the abuse of blasphemy laws, legal actions against honour killings and abolition of death sentence.

The second UPR brought about 167 suggestions out of which Pakistan accepted 126 and rejected 7, noting the remaining 34. The propositions recommended in the third UPR were similar to the second one, and it is worth mentioning here that the same recommendations which have been noted by the recent government were rejected outright by the previous government.

A human rights activist, talking to a local newspaper, said that it was quite a surprise that such a change was even being reviewed and the influence or force behind it should be probed. He added that the ground realities were very different than what was being portrayed in the United Nations by Pakistani officials.

UN General Assembly introduced UPR in 2006, involving a process of periodic reviews of human rights records in all member states. The UPR aims to improve human rights situations all over the world.

Ministry of Human Rights officials said that they hadn’t received the suggestions officially by Foreign Office as yet.

Pakistan Ulema Council Chairman Tahir Ashrafi claimed that the recommendations were in contradiction to the constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan and those trying to adopt such changes would defame the country for their own interests. He said that the suggestions for adopting recommendations for decriminalising consensual sex and non-marital sex would be considered treason.

Similarly, Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) Chairman Dr Qibla Ayaz said that for the government even to review such recommendations was not acceptable and appalling. He added that the CII would request the government to probe into the matter and deal with those trying to defame our country.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/225954/pakistan-officially-notes-upr-2017-recommendation-to-decriminalise-consensual-sex-2/

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Militants should not destroy their country for the sake of others: Ghani

Apr 10 2018

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has urged the anti-government armed militant groups to refrain from the destructive activities aimed at destroying their own country for the sake of others.

Speaking with the local tribal elders and council members of Khost province, President Ghani said peace is the demand of the nation and the target and results will be achieved.

He called the role of the tribes important for the reconciliation process and urged the tribal leders to cooperate i this regard.

President Ghani further added that the Paktia elders together with the elders of Kandahar and elders from the other parts of the country should step up efforts for peace.

He said if the militants are Afghans then they should not destroy their own country for the sake of others.

This comes as the Taliban group  has so far refrained from participation in direct peace talks with the Afghan government and insists on direct talks with the US.

This comes despite the Afghan government proposed that the government is prepared to recognize the group as a political movement besides making other offers to encourage the group to participate in the talks.

https://www.khaama.com/militants-should-not-destroy-their-country-for-the-sake-of-others-ghani-04838/

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Erdogan presses Kyrgyzstan for ‘anti-Gulen action’

April 10, 2018

ANKARA - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday urged Kyrgyzstan to take stronger action against the group blamed for a failed 2016 coup, as new President Sooronbai Jeenbekov visited Ankara in a bid to ease tense ties.

Relations between Ankara and Bishkek had often been strained under the rule of Jeenbekov’s predecessor Almazbek Atambayev, whom Turkey accused of failing to take tough action against the group of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen.

Turkey accuses Gulen of masterminding the abortive coup and leading a terror group called the Fethullah Terror Organisation (FETO), charges he denies.

Gulen’s group had built up huge influence in Turkey but also abroad - notably in Africa, the Balkans and Turkic Central Asian states like Kyrgyzstan - in particular through an education network. “We made clear our expectations from Kyrgyzstan in the fight against FETO,” Erdogan said after talks with Jeenbekov.

He reaffirmed Turkey’s past warnings that Gulen’s group was capable of launching similar actions against Kyrgyzstan as it had in Turkey in July 2016.

“It is such an organisation that it has the character to do the same to Kyrgyzstan tomorrow what it did to us today,” said Erdogan.

“I believe (the Kyrgyz president) will act more shrewdly and take the needed measures more rapidly,” added Erdogan.

Alluding to the tensions under Atambayev, he added: “I believe my dear brother’s visit will contribute to opening a new page in Turkish-Kyrgyz relations.”

Jeenbekov, who was the chosen successor of Atambayev, took office late last year after winning presidential elections in the first round.

At the time of the coup bid, Turkish media said a Gulen-linked foundation ran 28 schools in Kyrgyzstan, from primary schools to a university.

Ankara then angered Bishkek by saying Gulen supporters had infiltrated its institutions and could carry out a coup there.

Almost two years after the failed coup bid, Turkey is still pressing a crackdown to eradicate Gulen’s influence, not just at home but abroad.

In March, five teachers and a doctor, all Turkish nationals alleged to be Gulenists, were flown back to Turkey from Kosovo in a covert operation by Turkish intelligence and the Kosovo interior ministry.

https://nation.com.pk/10-Apr-2018/erdogan-presses-kyrgyzstan-for-anti-gulen-action

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India

 

When Hindus Risked Their Lives for a Muslim Seer's Mazaar Set Afire by Rioters in Bihar

April 10, 2018

It was 11 am on a hot Friday morning in Nawada when 34-year-old Mohammad Dawood Khan, a renowned businessman of the area, got the call he was waiting for.

Communal violence had for the past fortnight been spreading like wildfire in Bihar. And riots had now broken in his very own district. The fact that the eye of the communal storm in Nawada — a vandalised statue of Lord Hanuman — lay very close to his house, naturally had brought Dawood at the very edge of his nerves.

He was glued to his television set when the call came. All three entries to his palatial house were bolted from within. Just to be sure, Dawood had put his phone on charge and turned the volume of his ringtone to its loudest.

“I had decided not to step out because of the communal tension. From my windows, I could see a lot of police on the roads outside. I was watching news channels attentively to know which areas were being mobbed and set afire. Because a Hindu deity’s statue was broken it was obvious that Muslims would have to bear the brunt of violent mobsters,” said Dawood recounting the events of March 30.

Suddenly the phone rang aloud. It was Rajeev Kumar Sinha, Dawood’s business partner, whom he also describes as his boss, philosopher, and guide.

“There is absolutely no hesitation between Rajeev bhaiyya and I. We share a very close relationship. Boss informed me that some miscreants had set Sufidullah Shah Baba’s Mazaar (shrine) on fire in retaliation for the desecration of Hanuman statue. He had received an image on one of his WhatsApp groups of the Mazaar on fire. He told me to immediately leave and see if things are fine there. I obey him blindly but decided to call a local bureaucrat to confirm the news as a lot of rumours are spread during such times,” said Dawood.

In a few minutes, the news about the local shrine was confirmed. It did not surprise Dawood.

It was only two days ago, when in Silao, Nalanda, roughly 40 kms from his house, communal violence was stoked during a Ram Navami procession. Groups of Hindus and Muslims eventually fought with each other, reducing several shops and houses to ash.

The same script had repeated itself several times over in Bihar. A Ram Navami procession communally charged sloganeering, desecration of religious symbols, stone-pelting, arson and intense communal violence.

Within a fortnight seven districts in Bihar had burned in communal fire. The fire had now reached Nawada.

Dawood, who had shut himself in his house, wasn’t the only person in Nawada closely tracking the communal violence unfold. In the closely-knit community of Nawada, almost everyone, irrespective of their faith, was fervently making calls enquiring about each other’s safety.

Manmohan Krishna, a local journalist, was witnessing the events unfold from ground zero.

Krishna, grey haired and slightly-built local journalist was busy taking pictures of the angry mobs throwing stones at one another.

“I was at the site where lord Hanuman’s statue was vandalised. People had completely lost control of themselves. Heavy stone pelting was going on, traffic on the highway had been halted, people were being thrashed, while police was lathi-charging everyone to disperse the mobs. I ran away from the crowd. This is when I received a call,” said Krishna, showing his phone to News18.

It was Mohammad Barkatulla Khan, professor in Nawada Vidhi Mahavidyalay. Krishna was a law student in the university where Khan was his favourite teacher.

“Professor sahab asked me if there was an incident of the Mazaar burning. His wife is a teacher in a school that is very close to the Mazaar and he was asking me if it was safe to send for her. I told him not to move out. A Mazaar burning was the last thing that the district needed at that time,” said Krishna.

The local reporter for the Hindi national daily, Hindustan, Krishna took shelter in a nearby building and called the local police officer Anjani Kumar to verify the truth behind the matter.

“When I called the inspector, he told me that Dawood Khan had already left for the place and asked me if I could get some locals from both the community who could help cool the tempers. So I took two of my friends from different media publications and rushed to the spot. Fighting fire at the Mazaar became my top priority,” said Krishna.

While Hindus and Muslims of Nawada were coming together to ensure each other’s safety, another lot, whom the police suspects of being outsiders, were busy setting fire to properties and fanning communal flames to start full-blown riots.

The mobsters running through the town torched a tea-stall and an adjacent meat seller’s shop, both owned by Muslims, to provoke a retaliatory arson by the Muslim community.

In another part of the town, around a kilometre away from the burning Mazaar, Shravan Kumar Barnwal, a Hindu garment shop owner, was watching the rioters ransack the town from the terrace of his six-storied building in Adarsh Nagar Housing Complex.

He got a call from his friend Banwari Lal, who was distressing on hearing the news about the Mazaar.

“Banwari Lal, a resident of the nearby village called me up. He and I know each other having worked together for quite a few causes. He told me that somebody had set Baba Sufidullah’s Mazaaar on fire. I asked him if he had seen someone do it, he hadn’t. I quickly summoned a few of my neighbours, we filled our buckets with water and left for the Mazaar,” said Barnwal.

The Mazaar, whose desecration had upset both Muslims and Hindus of Nawada, is surrounded by paddy fields on all four sides. One has to walk for a kilometre through these fields to reach the Mazaaar. Nobody in the town seems to know for sure how old the Mazaar is. “It is older than me,” 86 year-old Mohamad Alam Khan, says with a smile. But what unites the residents of Nawada is a belief in the sanctity of the Mazaar. A protective love for the shrine that has passed down several generations. The attack on the shrine was in many ways an attack on the shared history of Nawada’s people.

A Hindu farmer, who lives close to the Mazaar, who did not wish to be named, described the attempts to put out the fire at the shrine. “Clashes had already broken out at several religious sites in Nawada. We did not want this Mazaar to be the reason for more bloodshed. As soon as we saw fire, our first instinct was to find out ways to stop it. We used our water pipes to extinguish the fire,” he said.

The decades old shrine was not the only rallying point for the people of Nawada. They came together at several other instances to put out communal flames.

Just before the Ram Navami procession, which through the years has been used by various polarising forces to rupture the social fabric of the town, the local superintendent of police had appealed to the residents to join him in the night vigil.

He didn’t have to ask twice. Residents from across the town, from both the communities, came together and patrolled the town with him day and night to ensure peace.

“I was one of the civilian volunteers. I was more than happy to be in the list. SP sahab had asked us to help the forces in reaching out to more areas and ensuring a peaceful atmosphere by interacting with our friends and families. I thought why just help them during the day,” said Rambalak Yadav, a resident of the town.

He added that on seeing senior police officers not going home all through the night and camping at different places. He decided to show support by staying put with them through the night. “I used to sleep on cement platforms close to where they camped and went back home only after the seniors left,” he said.

News18 in its visit to the town saw several small tea-stalls keeping their shops open late into the night only to serve the police officers during their night vigils.

Mohammed Dawood Khan had meanwhile reached the Mazaar. He was surprised to see the number of Hindu residents of the town, who at the peak of communal tensions had risked their lives, and left their houses to put out the fire at the shrine.

“I was surprised to see Hindu farmers in plenty. There were at least ten of them,” said Dawood.

Though the fire had subsided, there was still a lot to be done. The sight of the burnt Mazaar and the thick coat of black soot could have become an excuse for another round of communal clashes.

As one climbed up the stairs of the shrine, one could see holy tapestry in the shrine, including the cloth used to cover the grave, reduced to ashes. Some of the tiles on the Maazzar had been vandalised with hammers.

In some time, District Magistrate Kaushal Kumar reached the spot. He had a group of junior police officials along to guard the Mazaar and help the men clean it.

“We decided to pay for all the expenses of cleaning the shrine. Things such as surf, broomsticks, pieces of cloth to clean the floor and ceiling, buckets and the holy cloth used to cover the grave was bought by us. The residents displayed exemplary behaviour in restoring peace,” the DM told News18.

It took several hours to put out the fire that took just moments for some anti-social elements to ignite.

Moments after the fire had been extinguished, Krishna found a copy of a torn Quran thrown behind the grave.

“When we reached, the fire had almost subsided due to the efforts of the villagers there. But when I saw the Quran torn off and thrown off here and there, I got really scared. One careless mention about the desecrated Quran and there would have been no stopping another round of riots,” said Krishna.

The group of Nawada residents were in a fix about what to do next.

“Initially nobody was willing to touch it. I could sense that my Hindu brothers thought that Muslims would get offended if they as much as came near it. While there was no question of being offended, their apprehensions were understandable,” said Dawood.

Taking matters in his hands, Dawood decided to collect all the torn pages in a sack, tie the sack up and walked at least 250 metres away from the shrine.

“It was Friday so it was a holy day as well. I along with the help of others, dug a four feet deep pit and buried the Quran in it. I don’t know what I did was correct or not, whether burying my religion’s holy book was justified to save the district from further clashes,” said Dawood still running over the day’s events.

In a couple of days the residents put the Mazaar back to its original glory. The patrons of the shrine took pictures of the place and spread it across social media platforms to spread the message of peace.

It may be too early to tell how successful the attempt to stoke riots in Nawada have been. But if there is something that one can say for certain having interacted with a number of residents of Nawada is that they are hopeful about a better, peaceful tomorrow.

https://www.news18.com/news/india/when-hindus-risked-their-lives-for-a-muslim-seers-mazaar-set-afire-by-rioters-in-bihar-1713409.html

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Don’t allow Muslims into your houses: Rajasthan BJP MLA

Rajendra Sharma

Apr 10, 2018

ALWAR: BJP MLA from Alwar city Banwari Lal Singhal, known for his communal rants, has courted fresh controversy by urging Hindu families not to allow Muslims to enter their homes. Talking to TOI on Monday, the second-term MLA stated that Muslims were habitually involved in all kinds of crimes. He boasted that he neither allowed Muslims to enter his residence or office nor sought their votes.

“Meo Muslims do not vote for BJP. I also do not go after them for votes. Seeking votes from them would mean that I have to help them in getting away with crime that they habitually commit. This is the main reason that I have always maintained a safe distance from them,” said Singhal.

BJP MLA trying to polarise society

The BJP MLA, who has been associated with VHP and RSS in the past, alleged that Muslims were involved in crimes like cow slaughter, ‘love jihad’, creating fake identities and fraud.

The MLA is making these controversial statements to allegedly polarise the society following BJP’s defeat in the Alwar Lok Sabha bypoll held in January this year.

Singhal’s anti-Muslim statements have come unprovoked and were made at his own community meeting at Alwar on Sunday. When asked by TOI to clarify his statements, the MLA repeated his rant more fiercely on Monday.

He claimed that Meo Muslims, who are predominant in Alwar and Bharatpur districts, receive a special package for carrying out ‘love jihad’ (Muslim boys enticing and marrying Hindu girls).

"Love Jihad has become a tradition for Meo Muslims here. They create fake IDs on Facebook and lure Hindu girls to love relationships. They marry Hindu girls and make their life hell. On the contrary, Muslim girls despite being illiterate or less educated do not love or marry Hindu boys,” said Singhal.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/dont-allow-muslims-into-your-houses-rajasthan-bjp-mla/articleshow/63690296.cms

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Social media images ‘show’ missing Assam man as Hizbul militant

Apr 09, 2018

Photographs of a man from Assam missing since July last year have surfaced on social media claiming he has joined Kashmir’s home-grown militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen, police said on Monday.

According to the Assam police, the man in the photographs is Qamar uz Zaman, who went from Hojai district in Assam to Jammu in 2012 to sell garments. His mother, Tahera Khatoon, identified him from the photographs, which show him brandishing an assault rifle and state his code name is Dr Hurairah.

Assam police, however, are wary that the images could be photoshopped and are investigating the social media buzz.

Assam director general of police (DGP) Mukesh Sahay said the information was being verified in coordination with Jammu and Kashmir police and central intelligence agencies.

Hojai superintendent of police (SP) Ankur Jain said Zaman’s family members claimed that after he went missing, they got relatives in Jammu region’s Kishtwar district to lodge a missing person report with the local police. Jain said Zaman’s family members claimed he last spoke to them on July 10, 2017.

Jammu and Kashmir police, however, has no such report. “There is no missing report with us. We checked with the Kishtwar police chief. They don’t have any such report,” said SP Vaid, DGP, Jammu and Kashmir. “His photo is there on social media... it is fake or forged, I can’t say for sure,” Vaid added.

Assam news channels picked up on the social media buzz and reported Zaman may have travelled to the US and Bangladesh. A senior police officer associated with the case, however, said it was certain he had not travelled to the US. “We are verifying if he travelled to Bangladesh,” said the officer, who did not want to be named.

Zaman’s mother told journalists in Hojai the government should “shoot him dead” if he had joined the militant outfit. “I won’t mind. If he has become anti-national, I don’t want him back. I will give in writing that I don’t want such a son,” said Tahera Khatoon.

Zaman is around 38 years old, married, and the couple has a child, according to his family. Zaman’s wife and a child live with his mother in Hojai.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/social-media-images-show-missing-assam-man-as-hizbul-militant/story-RWSbSJNuVCdqxpNFUeDPIP.html

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India extends support to Bangladesh for resolving Rohingya crisis

APRIL 09, 2018

India on Monday extended full support to Bangladesh’s efforts for resolving the Rohingya refugee crisis, including early repatriation of the displaced people to Myanmar.

Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said this following a meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart M. Shahidul Haque on the second day of his three-day Dhaka tour. “India has been fully supportive of the efforts being made to resolve the crisis, including early repatriation of the displaced people,” Mr. Gokhale said in a statement.

He said India has sent relief materials for 300,000 Rohingyas in September last year under ‘Operation Insaniyat’ to support Bangladesh in its humanitarian efforts while he announced New Delhi’s plans for the second phase of such assistance.

“On the Myanmar side, we are providing socio-economic support under our Rakhine State Development Programme including construction of pre-fabricated housing in order to meet the needs of the returning people,” he added.

Mr. Haque said Bangladesh was “very happy the way our friend from India is looking at this [Rohingya] issue, looking to peacefully resolve the issue.”

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had recently asked India to put pressure on Myanmar for repatriation of over a million of Rohingyas, fearing their prolonged stay in Bangladesh could create militancy related security risks.

Some 700,000 members of the Muslim minority have fled Myanmar since August to escape a bloody military crackdown.

The army in the mainly Buddhist nation denies the allegations and says its campaign as a legitimate response to Rohingya militant attacks on August 25 that killed about a dozen border guard police.

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-extends-support-to-bangladesh-for-resolving-rohingya-crisis/article23484259.ece

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J&K: Two soldiers killed in Pakistani firing in Rajouri district

April 10, 2018

Two soldiers were killed in an unprovoked ceasefire violation by Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri district’s Sunderbani sector in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday evening.

The soldiers were critically injured after Pakistani troops engaged in unprovoked mortar shelling. Both of them later succumbed to their injuries, a defence ministry spokesperson said here.

Identifying the deceased soldiers as rifleman Vinod Singh and rifleman Jaki Sharma, he said that Pakistani troops initiated indiscriminate mortar shelling, automatic and small arms fire from 5.15 pm on Monday. The Indian army also retaliated.

Rifleman Vinod Singh, 24, belonged to Jaurian’s Danapur village in Akhnoor. He is survived by his father Ajit Singh.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/jammu-kashmir-two-soldiers-killed-in-pakistani-firing-in-rajouri-district-5131137/

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Can Rohingyas’ rehabilitation cost Indian poor, SC wonders

Apr 09, 2018

Can rehabilitation measures be provided to Rohingya Muslims at the cost of the country’s slum dwellers, the Supreme Court wondered on Monday on a plea which sought to deport the refugees, who, it claimed, were eating into the resources meant for Indian citizens.

A bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra seemed to agree with the contention raised by senior advocate Sajan Poovaya, who on behalf of petitioner and advocate, Ashwini Upadhaya, contended that slum dwellers living in India cannot be deprived of their benefits because the country has limited resources.

“Apart from the two (Rohingya) colonies (in Delhi and Haryana), there are scores of slums… so we cannot confine the matter only to Rohingyas. These are matters relating to slum development. If we are dealing with development issue of the Rohingyas, then this court should be concerned with the denial of rights in other illegal colonies of Delhi as there are several slums,” Justice D Y Chandrachud told the lawyers.

The bench, however, directed the Centre to furnish a status report on the facilities for Rohingya Muslims presently staying in some colonies of Delhi and Haryana.

It also wanted a response on the intervention application filed by the West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights’ (WBCPCR), opposing the Centre’s move to deport the 40,000-odd Rohingya Muslims in India who have fled from Myanmar to evade persecution.

Additional solicitor general, Tushar Mehta appearing for Centre denied that Rohingyas are being discriminated. He supported Upadhaya that the government has its own duty towards the development of slum dwellers.

“I (Centre) can’t give any additional benefits (to Rohingyas). I am unable to give my own citizens sufficient facilities. It is not as if the government is discriminating. We will not be justified in giving something extra,” he submitted, referring to a spate of petitions in the court on the issue.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Rohingya Muslims, faulted the government’s argument.

He said denial of benefits to slum dwellers did not mean that Rohingyas were not entitled to any.

At this Mehta interjected and said that Rohingyas will be given the same facilities, which are being provided to the slum dwellers.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/can-rohingyas-rehabilitation-cost-indian-poor-sc-wonders/story-pkxwlfAHH0fRPbwm8YbWuO.html

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Arab World

 

Saudi Arabia seeks French help for music, opera and cinema

April 10, 2018

PARIS - Saudi Arabia will employ French expertise to set up a national opera and orchestra, under an agreement signed Monday during a visit to Paris by the kingdom’s modernising Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The deal will see the Paris Opera company help the ultra-conservative Islamic nation produce its own classical music and shows, a further sign of Prince Mohammed’s desire to change the image of his homeland.

He has already announced the lifting of a ban on women driving, the re-opening of cinemas for the first time in over three decades and new mixed-gender concerts, despite opposition from religious hardliners.

The kingdom also revealed Monday that it would enter short films at the Cannes cinema festival for the first time and send an official delegation to the celebration of often edgy and subversive silver-screen art on the Riviera this May.

“I cannot think of a better partner for culture and art than France,” Saudi Culture Minister Awwad Alawwad told AFP.

Prince Mohammed, 32, was hosted by President Emmanuel Macron for a three-hour dinner at Paris’s Louvre museum Sunday night after flying in on his first trip to France as heir to the Saudi throne.

Macron also tweeted a picture of the pair at the Louvre looking at the 19th-century masterpiece Liberty Leading The People by revolutionary painter Eugene Delacroix, which shows Liberty as a bare-breasted woman. “The discussions were friendly, which allowed the two men to establish a personal relationship,” Macron’s office said.

The two leaders will now work on a “strategic document” involving a series of contracts to be signed by Macron during a visit to Saudi Arabia later this year, his office said.

Macron, 40, faces a diplomatic tightrope with the prince as he seeks to bolster his ties with the world’s top oil exporter while also managing relations with Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival Iran. He will host the prince for a gala dinner at the Elysee Palace on Tuesday.

Hollywood and Cannes

Prince Mohammed’s visit is part of a global tour that has already seen him travel to the United States, Britain and Egypt as he seeks to project a more moderate vision of his country which is often associated in the West with exporting jihadist ideology. Saudi and French aides stressed before the trip that cultural ties, as well as new business opportunities, would be at the heart of two days of talks between government and private-sector figures from both countries.

In February, Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA) announced it would stage more than 5,000 festivals and concerts in 2018, double the number last year, and pump $64 billion in the sector in the coming decade.

The announcement about the Cannes film festival came after Prince Mohammed dined last week in Hollywood with media mogul Rupert Murdoch, along with film studio bosses and famed American actors including Morgan Freeman.

Abuses and bombing

Amid the flurry of announcements in France, campaigners mobilised to keep attention focused on French weapons exports to Saudi Arabia and rights abuses in the country.

The kingdom is the lead partner in a coalition of countries bombing and blockading Yemen, where a combination of fighting, disease and food shortages has led it to be dubbed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis by the UN.

“France is potentially an accomplice to serious violations of humanitarian laws by selling weapons and military equipment to Saudi Arabia ,” said Aurelie Perrier from Amnesty International at a protest near the Eiffel Tower.

But government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux insisted there was a “clear interest for French industry” in continuing arms exports to Riyadh. “It’s an important part of our diplomacy,” he said, while adding: “That doesn’t mean turning a blind eye.”

Three out of four French people believe it is “unacceptable” for France, one of the world’s biggest arms exporters, to continue selling weapons to Saudi Arabia , according to a YouGov poll.

Underlying tensions

Ahead of the trip to France, Saudi officials suggested relations were strong between Macron and the crown prince, both young leaders with reformist agendas. But the visit follows a period of underlying tensions.

Macron waded into a regional crisis last November when Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri tendered his resignation on live television from Riyadh, apparently under pressure from Prince Mohammed. Macron invited Hariri to Paris for talks and he later rescinded his resignation, a development that analysts say exposed the limits of the prince’s authority.

Macron has also announced plans to be the first French president to visit Iran since 1976, as he seeks to build relations with the two competing regional powers in the Middle East.

NGOs pressure Macron over

Saudi weapons

Rights groups on Monday urged President Emmanuel Macron to pressure visiting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the war in Yemen, warning Riyadh may be using French weapons in the conflict.

“France is potentially an accomplice to serious violations of humanitarian laws by selling weapons and military equipment to Saudi Arabia , given what we know is taking place in Yemen,” said Aurelie Perrier, coordinator for Yemen and Saudi Arabia at Amnesty International France.

“We want to ask President Macron to stop arms transfers to Saudi Arabia and to lift the blockade on Yemen,” she told AFP at a protest under the Eiffel Tower as Prince Mohammed kicked off his visit to Paris.

Two other groups, the Weapons Observatory (Obsarm) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), said the sheer volume of French weapons exports to Saudi pointed to the likelihood that they have been deployed in Yemen. The groups said much of the equipment was suitable for use in Yemen, while “confidential testimony” also pointed to the presence of French arms on the ground.

“If these indicators do not constitute proof, they throw serious suspicion on the massive presence and use of French military equipment in Yemen,” they said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia has since 2015 led a coalition bombing and blockading Yemen in a conflict that has left 10,000 people dead. A combination of fighting, disease and food shortages has led it to be dubbed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis by the United Nations.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe’s office insisted last month that French land weapons sold to Riyadh were “defensive” and being used in Saudi Arabia to deter cross-border attacks.

He added that “surveillance measures” to track the use of French weapons had been “strongly reinforced in recent months” and that France was meeting its international commitments.

As the 32-year-old crown prince continues an international charm offensive that has included stops in the United States, Britain and Egypt, rights groups urged Macron to pressure his guest on human rights violations.

“Saudi Arabia remains one of the worst countries in the world in terms of its human rights records,” said Perrier.

The prince has used his tour to project his reforms - including the historic lifting of a ban on women driving, cinemas and mixed-gender concerts - as part of his pledge to return the kingdom to ‘moderate Islam’.

Prince Mohammed “considers himself a revolutionary, but if so, then he has to end the institutionalised oppression that has continued to build even after he came to power,” said Amnesty France director Sylvie Brigot-Vilain.

“Especially regarding voices that oppose the regime, who increasingly find themselves behind bars.”

https://nation.com.pk/10-Apr-2018/saudi-arabia-seeks-french-help-for-music-opera-and-cinema

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Iran-Israel Conflict Escalates in Shadow of Syrian Civil War

By BEN HUBBARD and DAVID M. HALBFINGER

APRIL 9, 2018

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Israel on Monday appeared to have escalated its shadow war in Syria against Iran, with a predawn airstrike against a military base that coordinates Iranian-backed militias, killing four Iranian military advisers.

The dead included a colonel who served as a senior officer in Iran’s drone program, according to Iranian news reports.

The attack on the Syrian air base near the desert town of Palmyra in central Syria drew new attention to a conflict between Iran and Israel that has been steadily increasing in intensity while mostly hidden in the shadows of Syria’s civil war.

As Iran has taken advantage of the war’s chaos to build a substantial military infrastructure, Israel has launched scores of strikes to try to stop it, or at least to slow it down.

Israeli officials declined to confirm or deny that Israel had conducted the airstrike. It followed a vow by President Trump to respond to an apparent chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government near Damascus on Saturday. It did not appear to have been in response to that event, raising the possibility that Israel had merely seized the opportunity to take out what it saw as a threat to its own security.

Russian and Iranian news services reported that two Israeli F-15 war planes carried out the strike, which a conflict monitor said killed 14 people. The Russian military said the planes had approached from the Mediterranean Sea before firing from Lebanese airspace. Syria’s air defense systems shot down five of the eight missiles fired, according to the Russian news agency Interfax.

The other three missiles hit a Syrian military base known as T4 that has played a central role in Iran’s expanding military activities in Syria.

Iran has long been a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Both countries see themselves as part of the “Axis of Resistance,” an alliance of forces opposed to American and Israeli influence in the Middle East.

As the war in Syria ground on, Iran came to Mr. Assad’s aid, sending seasoned fighters from Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group and political party that Iran supports. It later organized an international airlift of militia fighters from a number of countries to bolster Mr. Assad’s military

Israel now worries that as Mr. Assad’s position becomes more secure, Iran has turned its focus to the military capacity it appears to be building to help it in a future confrontation with Israel.

Israeli leaders frequently threaten to bomb Iran, so having strong military proxies near Israel’s borders gives Iran some protection. If Israel attacks Iran, the thinking goes, it knows it can expect a painful response from Hezbollah in Lebanon, and perhaps from other militias now operating in Syria.

Israel had attacked the T4 base at least once before, in February, after Israel intercepted what it said was an Iranian drone that had penetrated its airspace. Israel said it targeted the command-and-control center Iran had used to launch the drone. Syria’s air defenses shot down one of Israel’s F-16 fighter jets, which crashed inside of Israel.

It was the first Israeli plane lost to enemy fire in decades, and Israel responded with a broad wave of strikes against a dozen Syrian and Iranian targets in Syria.

News reports that one of the Iranians killed on Monday was a colonel in the country’s drone program suggested that Israel had become increasingly concerned about Iran’s unmanned aircraft capabilities.

“The more we see of this, it seems like it’s a strike against Iranian capacities to operate drones from Syria potentially against Israel,” said Ofer Zalzberg, a Middle East analyst for International Crisis Group, who is watching the Israeli-Iranian hostilities in Syria.

Worried that Iran is using the cover of the war to strengthen its allies in Syria, Israel has repeatedly launched airstrikes on what it believed to be weapons convoys bound for Hezbollah, which fought Israel to a standstill in a monthlong war in 2006 that killed hundreds of people.

The Israeli government never acknowledges individual strikes, and the Syrian government and Hezbollah do not always acknowledge when they have been hit. But last August, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, the outgoing commander of the Israeli Air Force, acknowledged that Israel had launched nearly 100 strikes on convoys since 2012.

Monday’s strike came one day after President Trump called Mr. Assad an “animal” and warned him and his Russian and Iranian backers that they would have a “big price to pay” for the alleged chemical attack that killed dozens of people near Damascus on Saturday.

Russia did not respond immediately to the accusation, although a spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin rejected Mr. Trump’s inflammatory language. “Assad is the legitimate president of the Syrian Arab Republic,” the spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, said. “It’s hardly acceptable to apply that sort of abusive wording to a president.”

Russia was also the first to contend that it was Israel that had carried out Monday’s airstrike, a departure from what analysts said was its previous policy of looking the other way when Israel hit Iranian assets in Syria.

“Moscow decided to be judge and jury — to side with Assad and Hezbollah, which were saying it was an Israeli attack, rather than siding with Israel in allowing Israel to maintain ambiguity,” said Mr. Zalzberg, the analyst.

The latest escalation comes at a pivotal time for the United States, as Mr. Trump charts the American course in Syria. He said last week that he wanted to withdraw the approximately 2,000 American troops based in eastern Syria, where they are fighting the jihadists of the Islamic State, but his vow to respond to the reported chemical attack risks pulling him into Syria in other ways. Some of his advisers believe that limiting Iranian ambitions is one reason the United States should maintain some military presence in Syria.

Despite Mr. Trump’s promise to respond to the chemical attack, which killed at least 49 people in the Damascus suburb of Douma, it remained unclear what he would do and how it would relate to a broader American policy toward Syria.

After a similar attack killed scores of people in the village of Khan Sheikhoun in northwestern Syria a year ago, Mr. Trump ordered missile strikes on the Syrian air base where the attacks had originated.

Israel, which shares a frontier with Syria, has been concerned throughout the conflict about the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons. On Sunday, Yitzchak Yosef, the Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel, condemned the chemical attack.

Full report at:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/09/world/middleeast/syria-russia-israel-air-base.html?mtrref=www.google.co.in&gwh=33EECEB35BCDBBFAAF96A08A2A4695FB&gwt=pay

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Calls grow for action over Syria ‘chemical attack’

April 10, 2018

BEIRUT - US President Donald Trump on Monday pledged “major decisions” on Syria after a suspected chemical attack on a rebel-held town, as calls grew for an international response to the crisis ahead of a UN Security Council meeting.

Trump condemned what he called a “heinous attack on innocent” Syrians in Douma, as he opened a cabinet meeting at the White House, adding that decisions would come in the “next 24-48 hours”. “This is about humanity - it can’t be allowed to happen,” he said.

The Syrian regime and its ally Russia have rejected claims of a chemical attack, with President Vladimir Putin warning against any “provocation and speculation on this matter”.

Trump - who last year launched a missile strike on a Syrian regime air base after another alleged chemical attack - warned Sunday that there would be a “big price to pay”. US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said Washington does not “rule out anything”, while Trump and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron vowed a “strong, joint response”.

The crisis was due to be discussed later Monday at an urgent UN Security Council meeting, while the US also circulated a draft resolution for a new independent inquiry of chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

With tensions high, deadly missile strikes on a regime airbase early Monday raised the spectre of Western military action, but Damascus and Moscow said Israel was responsible.

Russia warned against acting hastily over the alleged chemical attack. The Kremlin said Putin discussed the “accusations against Damascus by a number of Western countries” with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and “stressed the unacceptability of provocation and speculation on this matter.”

Investigation launched

Rescuers and medics in Douma say more than 40 people died after an alleged poison gas attack late Saturday in Douma, the last rebel-held pocket of the one-time opposition stronghold of Eastern Ghouta.

Access to the area, which has faced weeks of regime bombardment, is limited and there has been no way to independently verify the accounts. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a UN watchdog, said it was investigating the allegations but that so far only a “preliminary analysis” had been carried out.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russian experts from its military deployment on the ground in Syria had visited the site and “did not find any trace of chlorine or any other chemical substance used against civilians”. Both Damascus and Moscow had warned against using the allegations to justify military action against Assad.

Israel targeted ‘Iranian forces’

Iran’s Fars news agency said four Iranian military advisers were killed in the strike and the foreign ministry in Tehran accused Israel of “flagrant aggression”. Israel declined to comment on the latest air raid.

Nick Heras, an analyst at the Center for a New American Security, said Israel appeared to have seized on a moment of international outrage over Douma to strike Syria.

“On the eve of potential US and French strikes against Assad in response to the Douma gas attack, it is likely the Israelis already had the intention to strike at the T-4 base, and timed their attack to maximise the destruction they could inflict on Iranian forces,” he told AFP.

Israel has repeatedly warned it will not accept its arch-foe Iran entrenching itself militarily in Syria.

In February, it accused Iranian forces at the T-4 base of sending a drone into Israeli territory.

After targeting Iranian units in Syria in retaliation, an Israel F-16 was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft fire in one of the conflict’s most notable escalations.

Israel then carried out what it called “large-scale” raids on Syrian air defence systems and Iranian targets, which reportedly included T-4.

Syrian regime forces have waged an assault since February 18 on Ghouta, that has killed more than 1,700 civilians and left Islamist rebels cornered in their last holdout of Douma, Ghouta’s largest town.

After capturing most of Ghouta, Syria and Russia secured two negotiated withdrawals last month that saw 46,000 rebels and civilians evacuate.

Full report at:

https://nation.com.pk/10-Apr-2018/calls-grow-for-action-over-syria-chemical-attack

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Syria: Hundreds of Militants, Family Members Leave Douma

Apr 09, 2018

A sum of 31 buses evacuated hundreds of Jeish al-Islam militants and their family members from Douma for other militant-held regions via al-Wafedeen safe corridor.

Abu Hassan Haroun, one of the senior commanders of Jeish al-Islam and the group's key manager in Douma, was among the evacuated militants.

Evacuation process of the militants will continue amid release of kidnapped civilians in Douma.

In the meantime, local sources reported that terrorists in Douma have embarked on setting fire at their bases and positions before evacuation.

Earlier reports said that the first group of civilians who had been kidnapped by Jeish al-Islam in Douma left the town for Damascus via al-Wafedeen safe corridor on Sunday afternoon.

The freed civilians were mainly children and women.

Most of the released civilians were kidnapped and transferred to Douma by the terrorists in 2013 when they occupied the town of Adra al-Omaliyah.

A large number of civilians were massacred by terrorists in Adra al-Omaliyah at the time.

Syrian Reconciliation Minister Ali Heidar had announced that over 5,000 people were in Jeish al-Islam's jails.

Also, seven buses transferred a number of Jeish al-Islam militants and their family members from Douma to the town on Jarabulus in Northeastern Aleppo.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970120001234

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Fresh Infighting between Rival Terrorist Groups Reported in Northern Syria

Apr 09, 2018

Syria's Tahrir Front and Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at exchanged fire in the village of Tal Adah and Mount Sheikh Barakat in Western Aleppo.

Both sides suffered a number of casualties and accused each other of violating the ceasefire.

The warring sides had agreed on a seven-day-long ceasefire in Northern Syria a couple of days ago.

Field sources reported on Thursday that Syria's Tahrir Front launched heavy attacks on Tahrir al-Sham positions in the town of Kafr Naha in Western Aleppo, leading to heavy infighting between them.

They added that at least 2 armored vehicles of Syria's Tahrir Front were destroyed and a number of militants of both sides were killed.

Meantime, fierce infighting was reported between the two terrorist groups near the town of Dar al-Izza in Western Aleppo, inflicting casualties on both.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970120001058

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Syrian Army Seizes Vast Network of Terrorists' Tunnels in Eastern Ghouta

Apr 09, 2018

The army men carried out a mop-up operation in farms near Douma and discovered a long and vast network of tunnels and trenches connecting Mesraba and al-Shifouniyeh to Douma.

In the meantime, the army men, deployed East of Douma, seized a main tunnel of the terrorists four or five kilometers in length and with several branches, linking terrorists' defense lines to their command posts.

The army has been capable of prevailing over the first and second defense lines of Jeish al-Islam terrorists, and eventually managed to impose control over their third line of defense in the last two days.

Earlier reports said that the first group of civilians who had been kidnapped by Jeish al-Islam in Douma left the town for Damascus via al-Wafedeen safe corridor on Sunday afternoon.

The freed civilians were mainly children and women.

Most of the released civilians were kidnapped and transferred to Douma by the terrorists in 2013 when they occupied the town of Adra al-Omaliyah.

A large number of civilians were massacred by terrorists in Adra al-Omaliyah at the time.

Syrian Reconciliation Minister Ali Heidar had announced that over 5,000 people were in Jeish al-Islam's jails.

Also, seven buses transferred a number of Jeish al-Islam militants and their family members from Douma to the town on Jarabulus in Northeastern Aleppo.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970120000989

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Top Aide of ISIL's Baghdadi Killed in Iraqi Forces' Operation in Kirkuk Province

Apr 09, 2018

Al-Sumeriyah news quoted Iraqi intelligence sources as saying that Abu Walid al-Shishani known as the right hand man of ISIL Ring Leader Abu Bakr Baghdadi was killed in security forces' operation in Kirkuk province.

Abu Walid was planning a terrorist operation on civilian targets in Kirkuk, local sources reported.

The sources said that the Iraqi forces have also found access to a number of important documents in Abu Walid's hideout.

In a relevant development last week, the Iraqi intelligence forces killed Isma’el Mohammad Abboud,  the ISIL  leader of suicide bomb operations, while sweeping through the Western part of Anbar province.

Abboud was reportedly followed by a military drone as he was attempting to cross through the vast desert region in Anbar.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970120000954

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US Scenario to Attack Syrian Army in Eastern Ghouta Disclosed

Apr 09, 2018

The Arabic-language al-Mayadeen news website reported that Jeish al-Islam commanders were waiting for the US military operations against Syria while violating the agreement to leave Douma in Eastern Ghouta.

Jeish al-Islam terrorists killed and wounded over 50 civilians with mortar attacks after violating the ceasefire deal and refrained from leaving Douma, provocating the Syrian army's response.

They also launched false-flag chemical operations in the region and killed and wounded hundreds of civilians to raise allegations against the Syrian army.

Analysts believe that all moves made by the terrorists in Douma in the past two days were based on a pre-planned scenario by the US, the western states and supporters of terrorist groups in Syria to find a pretext for Washington to launch military operations against Damascus.

The Syrian government slammed the allegations of an alleged chemical attack in Douma, Eastern Ghouta, as an "unconvincing broken record", while NATO states have blamed the Syrian army for the alleged use of chemical weapons in Damascus province.

"Allegations of chemical use have become an unconvincing broken record, except for some countries that trade with the blood of civilians and support terrorism in Syria. Every time the Syrian Arab Army advances in the fight against terrorism, allegations of chemical use are used as an excuse to prolong the life of terrorists in Douma," state news agency SANA quoted a ministry source as saying.

Damascus' stance has been supported by Russia and Iran, which rejected media reports about the Syrian Armed Forces’ having dropped a chlorine-filled bomb on Douma.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970120000824

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Syrian Army Grants Amnesty to Tens of Militants in Aleppo Province

Apr 09, 2018

More than 100 gunmen from the Eastern, Northern and Southern parts of Aleppo province and also from Aleppo city that had handed over their weapons and asked for pardoning received government amnesty and returned to normal life.

Relevant reports said in February that a sum of 135 militants that had handed over their weapons to relevant officials received government amnesty in the towns of Talbiseh and al-Rastan and in some regions in Homs City's outskirts.

In the meantime, Damascus granted amnesty to over 150 gunmen that left their positions in regions near the town of Manbij in Northeastern Aleppo.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970120000889

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Observatory: Blast kills 13 civilians in Syria’s Idlib

10 April 2018

A huge blast killed at least 13 civilians in Syria’s northwestern militant-held city of Idlib on Monday, a monitor said, as an AFP reporter said it wrecked a multi-storey building.

The explosion of unknown origin also wounded 80 others, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.

The group, which relies on sources inside Syria for its information, said the death toll was likely to rise as several of the wounded were in serious condition and many others were trapped under the rubble.

The death toll rose to 13 civilians from an initial tally of 11 after the bodies of two more were retrieved from the debris, the Observatory said. The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear.

An AFP correspondent at the scene saw a bulldozer in the dark near the collapsed multi-storey building, as rescue workers searched for victims using lamps.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/04/10/Observatory-Blast-kills-13-civilians-in-Syria-s-Idlib.html

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Chemical weapons agency investigating Douma attack

Apr 9, 2018

The international chemical weapons watchdog has launched an investigation into a reported chemical attack near the Syrian capital Damascus that the US has blamed on the Syrian government.

The chief of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ahmet Uzumcu, made the announcement in a statement on Monday, saying the Hague-based body was responding with “grave concern” to the suspected chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians in the militant-held town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta over the weekend.

The OPCW’s fact-finding mission, which was already investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria’s war, was gathering all available material to establish whether chemical weapons were used, the statement said.

The OPCW is to determine what chemical agent may have been used in the attack, including the possibility that a cocktail of toxins may have been dropped on Douma.

The alleged chemical attack on the Eastern Ghouta’s largest neighborhood drew international condemnation from various countries and international bodies.

Eastern Ghouta, which is home to nearly 400,000 people, fell to multiple militant groups in 2012, months after Syria plunged into crisis and has since served as a launch pad for fatal attacks against residents and infrastructure in Damascus.

The Syrian government, in a statement released late on Saturday, strongly rejected the allegation of using chemical munitions and said that the so-called Jaish al-Islam Takfiri terrorist group, which has dominant presence in Douma, was repeating the accusations “in order to accuse the Syrian Arab army, in a blatant attempt to hinder the Army’s advance.”

Meanwhile, the US State Department issued a strongly-worded statement the following day, blaming the Syrian government for purportedly conducting the attack. It also said that Russia was “ultimately bearing responsibility” for all chemical incidents in the Arab country, regardless of who carried them out.

Moscow rejected the accusations against the Syrian government as bogus reports and warned of consequences of an attack on Damascus.

The warning came after US President Donald Trump promised a “big price” to be paid for what he said was a chemical weapons attack, and a top White House official said Washington would not rule out a missile strike against the Syrian government.

The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to hold a meeting later on Monday at rival requests of Russia and the US following the alleged chemical attack in Syria.

UN Security Council meeting on Syria postponed

Meanwhile, a French diplomat said Monday that the UN Security Council's emergency meeting on the situation in Syria after the alleged chemical attack had been pushed back until 3:00 p.m. (1900 GMT).

“The meeting, initially set for the late morning and requested by nine of the 15 council members, has been merged with another set of talks requested by Russia on global threats to peace,” the diplomat said.

Western governments and their allies have never stopped pointing the finger at Damascus whenever an apparent chemical attack takes place.

Syria surrendered its stockpiles of chemical weapons in 2014 to a joint mission led by the US and the OPCW, which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/04/09/557962/OPCW-chemical-attack-Douma-Eastern-Ghouta

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Pakistan

 

Hazara delegation meets chief justice in Quetta

April 10, 2018

QUETTA: A delegation of the Hazara community headed by Abdul Khaliq Hazara met Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar at the Supreme Court, Quetta Registry, on Monday.

The delegation informed the chief justice about the problems and issues their community was facing in the city.

They CJP told the delegation that their problems would be solved according to law.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1400733/hazara-delegation-meets-chief-justice-in-quetta

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PHC clubs Mashal verdict appeals, orders hearing in Peshawar

Waseem Ahmad Shah

April 10, 2018

PESHAWAR: Acting Chief Justice of the Peshawar High Court Waqar Ahmad Seth on Monday ordered the clubbing of all appeals against an anti-terrorism court’s judgment in the Mashal Khan lynching case, and holding of its hearing at the principal seat of the court in Peshawar.

The schedule for hearing will be announced later.

Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth accepted a petition of the provincial government through the advocate general seeking the transfer of the appeals filed by convicts in the case from the PHC’s Abbottabad Circuit Bench to the principal seat in Peshawar. Additional advocate general Waqar Ahmad Khan said currently, several appeals had been filed against the verdict by the provincial government, Mashal’s family members, including his father Iqbal Khan and brother Aimal Iqbal Khan, and convicts in the case.

He said while the KP government and Mashal’s family had filed appeals in the court’s principal seat, the convicts had challenged their sentence in the PHC’s Abbottabad Circuit Bench.

Mr Waqar said in Feb, the Abbottabad bench had suspended the sentences of three years imprisonment awarded to 25 of the convicts by the trial court and had ordered their release on bail.

He said it would be in the interest of justice to club all those appeals and should be heard by the same bench in Peshawar otherwise there was possibility that different benches would pronounce different verdicts on appeals.

Barrister Amirullah Khan Chamkani, lawyer for Mashal’s family, also supported the government’s plea.

Mashal Khan, a 23-year-old student of the Mass Communication Department at the Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan, was lynched by a mob on Apr 13, 2017, over the blasphemy allegations.

On Feb 7, an anti-terrorism court had convicted 31 of the 57 accused in the case awarding death sentence to the prime accused, life imprisonment to five and three-year imprisonment to 25 others.

The ATC, which had conducted trial inside Haripur Central prison, had however acquitted 26 of the accused persons observing that the prosecution failed to prove the charges against them. The trial court had ruled that charges of blasphemy against Mashal Khan were unfounded.

Initially, Mashal’s brother, Aimal Iqbal Khan, had filed an appeal against acquittal of the 26 accused persons by the trial court.

Later on, the KP government filed three appeals against the acquittal of the 26 accused persons and for increase in the sentences of the 31 convicts.

In the appeal against the acquittal of 26 accused, the provincial government has prayed that the high court set aside the judgment of the ATC to the extent of their acquittal and that the accused be convicted and punished under different provisions of the law.

One of the three appeals was filed for awarding death sentence to five of the convicts, who were sentenced to life imprisonment by the trial court.

In the third appeal, the government has challenged the award of lesser sentence to 25 of the accused, who were acquitted of the charges of murder, criminal conspiracy and terrorism, but were sentenced to three-year imprisonment for lynching and one-year imprisonment for desecrating Mashal’s body.

On Feb 24, Mashal’s father, Mohammad Iqbal, had filed five appeals in Peshawar challenging the acquittal of 26 of the accused and seeking increase in the sentences of 31 convicts.

Mohammad Iqbal had also challenged the acquittal of the convicts in several of the provisions of Pakistan Penal Code and Anti-Terrorism Act by the trial court.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1400614/phc-clubs-mashal-verdict-appeals-orders-hearing-in-peshawar

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7 injured in suicide attack on FC vehicle in Quetta

April 10, 2018

QUETTA : At least seven people were injured when a suicide attacker blew himself up near a Balochistan Frontier Corps (FC) vehicle which was on routine patrol in the Baleli Chowk of Quetta on Monday.

Security forces have cordoned off the area in wake of the blast, with the injured being shifted to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH).

Security sources are still trying to ascertain further details in this regard with casualties feared in the attack. Initial reports suggest the suspect was a suicide bomber in his early twenties. The injured FC men have been shifted to CMH Quetta for treatment.

Aslam Tareen, the director of civil defence, confirmed that it was a suicide blast and 8-10 kilogrammes of explosive was used in the attack. The age of the bomber seems to be around 20 to 22 years, Tareen said.

There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which destroyed the FC vehicle. Belili is considered to be one of the sensitive areas in Quetta.

Full report at:

https://nation.com.pk/10-Apr-2018/7-injured-in-suicide-attack-on-fc-vehicle-in-quetta

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Survivor recounts horror of Pakistan gun attack

April 9, 2018

Kinza Emmanuel was on the doorstep of her home when four of her family members were gunned down in a Christian colony of southern Pakistan.

"We were going to eat ice cream and my mother and three uncles were already inside the tuk-tuk. Suddenly two men, whose faces were covered in a white cloth, riding a motorcycle arrived in our street," the 16-year-old Catholic told ucanews.com

"After taking a turn, they opened fire at us. I rushed my siblings inside and locked the gates. My father ran outside but they had died. We could not do anything."

The attack happened on April 2 in the Shah Zaman area of Quetta, the capital of restive Balochistan province.

The so-called Islamic State claimed responsibility in a statement carried by its Aamaq news agency.

Kinza was visiting her relatives in Quetta when the attack happened. Her uncle, the tuk-tuk driver, was buried on April 3 in Quetta. The bodies of her mother and two uncles, aged 30 and 26, were flown to Lahore and buried in Gharyal Kalan village.

More than 300 worshippers attended a memorial service on April 8 in Lahore. Prayers were also offered for the conversion of the hearts of terrorists in Pakistan.

A delegation from the Pakistan Christian Action Committee (PCAC), an ecumenical advocacy group for persecuted Christians, expressed solidarity with the family.  

In his address, Reverend Amjad Niamat, the PCAC convenor, assured the family of the support of bishops. "Both Catholic and Protestant church leaders are very much concerned for your safety. We are holding regular meetings and protests to demand justice. Pray for our unity," he said.

According to the PCAC, this was the third targeted killing of Christians in Quetta.

Hendry Masih, a member of the Balochistan Assembly, was shot dead by his security guard in June 2014.

The province, near the Iranian border, has also witnessed increasing attacks on the ethnically distinct Persian-speaking Hazara minority.

Pastor Riaz Malik of Isaac TV, the first Christian satellite television based in Pakistan, claims the latest attack was originally planned on a church in Quetta.

"The investigating agencies claim the terrorists, failing to find a chance, opted for a soft target. We were encouraged by the presence of several Muslim villagers at the funeral of Catholics," he said.

Kinza and her two younger siblings resumed their schooling on April 9.

Full report at:

https://www.ucanews.com/news/survivor-recounts-horror-of-pakistan-gun-attack/82015

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President says terrorism defeated with cricket revival in Pakistan

Syed Irfan Raza

April 10, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Revival of international cricket on the home ground has defeated the menace of terrorism, said President Mamnoon Hussain on Monday.

The president gave credit to the government and the management of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for successfully organising final matches of the third Pakistan Super League (PSL) cricket tournament in the country, followed by a T-20 series against the West Indies in Karachi.

“Credit goes to the PSL team for reviving international cricket in Pakistan. By holding this mega event in the country, terrorism has been defeated,” he said while talking to the winners of this year’s PSL tournament, Islamabad United.

In pictures: Islamabad United win PSL with Karachi back on the cricket map

“The massive turnout for the matches has sent a message to the world — Pakistan is a peaceful and sports-loving nation,” he added.

The PSL winners and the team’s owner, Syed Ali Raza Naqvi, called on Mr Hussain at the presidency and the latter during the meeting said that promoting sports in the country would strengthen the economy and create employment.

He discussed how sportsman spirit and tolerance were of the utmost importance in all games.

The president lauded the performance of some of the young players and expressed the hope that they would excel further.

“We have huge expectations from young players like Shadab Khan, Hussain Talat, Asif Ali and Sahibzada Farhan,” he said.

The president also highlighted one of the consistent problems faced by players — poor fitness in the national cricket team. He stressed that the sportsmen needed to focus on their fitness and health.

He advised young players to follow in the footsteps of team caption Misbahul Haq and Younas Khan in order to win laurels for the country.

Islamabad United’s captain and the team management thanked the president and expressed their resolve to continue to serve the nation to best of their capabilities.

After a successful tour by the West Indies, the country’s cricket authorities are hopeful that they will be able to host a full international cricket series in 2020.

The three-match series against the World Twenty20 champions was held in Karachi and was accompanied by a wave of optimism. Enthusiastic fans braved heavy security checks to express their gratitude to the West Indies cricket team for the visit.

Last month, Karachi also hosted the PSL final, the biggest cricket event in the city since a 2009 attack on the visiting Sri Lankan team in Lahore that drove international cricket out of the country.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1400728/president-says-terrorism-defeated-with-cricket-revival-in-pakistan

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South Asia

 

Explosion leaves 15 civilians dead, wounded in Herat province

Apr 10 2018

At least fifteen civilians were killed or wounded in an explosion in western Herat province of Afghanistan, according to the local government and security officials.

Provincial governor’s spokesman Jilani Farhad confirmed that six civilians were killed and nine others were wounded in the explosion in Shindand district.

He said the incident took place in a market place late on Monday evening after explosives planted in a bike went off.

However, a spokesman for the Herat security commandment Abdul Ahad Walizada says at least eight civilians have been killed and seven others have sustained injuries.

No individual or group has so far claimed responsibility behind the incident.

Herat is among the relatively calm provinces in the West and fewer terrorist related incidents have been reported from the province since the fall of the Taliban regime.

However, the anti-government armed militant groups have been attempting to destabilize the province which borders some of the restive provinces in the South and Northwest as well as in the West.

https://www.khaama.com/explosion-leaves-15-civilians-dead-wounded-in-herat-province-04839/

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Plea for justice for slain Bangladeshi labour leader

April 9, 2018

Former co-workers and relatives of a murdered Bangladeshi trade union leader have called for the main perpetrators to be brought to justice.

They were speaking after a district court in Tangail, central Bangladesh, on April 8 sentenced Mustafizur Rahman, 23, to death in absentia for murdering Aminul Islam, 39, an organizer with the Bangladesh Workers Solidarity Center (BWSC), a labor group working for rights in the textile and other industries.

Despite the death sentence, Islam's family and friends believe those who ordered the killing have not been investigated.

Kalpona Akter, Islam's colleague at BWSC and vice-president of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation, said Islam's family and colleagues rejected the court sentence.

"This is injustice to Aminul. Without finding and bringing to prosecution those who were behind Rahman, the verdict is unacceptable to his family and colleagues. We are rejecting this verdict. We will go to a higher court, we will keep fighting and we will bring justice for Aminul Islam," Akter said.

A member of the victim's family, who asked not to be named, said the verdict was just for show.

"Aminul's murder got national and international publicity, so the government wanted to show justice was delivered. But the process tactfully excluded the main perpetrators from the probe, and it means they wield massive financial and political powers to influence the justice system," the person said.   

Islam, a vocal unionist for workers' rights, was based in the Savar-Ashulia industrial hub on the outskirts of Dhaka. His fearless activities to win wage increases and better working conditions in garment factories made him an enemy of factory owners.

On April 4, 2012, Rahman called Islam on the phone and then both disappeared. Three days later, Islam's mutilated body was found beside a highway in Tangail district, about 100 kilometers from where he was last seen.

A voluntary organization buried him in a local graveyard with the help of police after an autopsy. Islam's family later identified him from police photographs and buried him in Savar.

Mahbubul Haq, then Tangail's police chief, told media that Islam's body had signs of brutal torture.

"He was murdered. His legs had severe torture marks including a hole made by a sharp object. All his toes were broken," Haq said.

Rahman was never seen after the murder, while his family never spoke about or reacted to his alleged involvement in the killing. Police believe Rahman might be hiding in neighboring India.

Islam's murder came six months before the Tazreen textile factory fire in which 112 died and a year before the deadly collapse of Rana Plaza that killed 1,134 workers and injured more than 2,000.

The murder, fire and collapse sparked an unprecedented global outcry over the notoriously poor working conditions in Bangladesh's US$25 billion textile industry, which supplies clothes for leading international brands while exploiting cheap labor. The country's four million textile workers, mostly women, earn as little as US$68 a month.

Five international trade groups — the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization (AFL-CIO), Maquila Solidarity Network, Worker Rights Consortium, International Labor Rights Forum and the Clean Clothes Campaign — have written to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina calling for a proper probe into the murder.

Full report at:

https://www.ucanews.com/news/plea-for-justice-for-slain-bangladeshi-labor-leader/82019

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US confirms top IS commander in Afghanistan killed in airstrike

April 10, 2018

KABUL: US Forces confirmed Monday they had killed a top Islamic State commander in Afghanistan in an airstrike, describing the leader as “key” to foreign fighters entering the country’s north.

Qari Hikmatullah — also spelled Hekmat — and his bodyguard were killed in the northern province of Faryab on Thursday, US Forces-Afghanistan said in a statement. The airstrike happened in Bal Chiragh district, the statement said. That borders Darzab district in Jowzjan province, which Afghan officials on Saturday had given as the location of the airstrike. Some had also said the incident happened on Friday.

Hikmatullah was a “native Uzbek” who previously belonged to other militant groups, including the Taliban, before joining IS’s local franchise in northern Afghanistan, US Forces said.

The group has established a stronghold in Jowzjan after coming under intense pressure in the eastern province of Nangarhar.

Afghanistan’s defence ministry said on Saturday that Hikmatullah was involved in or responsible for “deadly terrorist attacks” and had been replaced by Mawlawi Habib-ul-Rahman.

General John Nicholson, the top US commander in Afghanistan, vowed to kill “any successors” to Hikmatullah, adding that IS would be “eliminated”.

Asked about the discrepancy in the location of the airstrike, defence ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish told AFP on Monday that some district borders were not marked clearly.

Afghan and US forces have ramped up airstrikes and ground offensives against IS fighters in Jowzjan in recent months as the group seeks to expand its foothold in the country.

Afghan security forces last month detained a French woman fighting for IS in Jowzjan. AFP has reported that French and Algerian fighters, some arriving from Syria, have joined IS in the restive province.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/04/09/us-confirms-top-is-commander-in-afghanistan-killed-in-airstrike/

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UN appeals for humanitarian access in Myanmar's restive regions

April 9, 2018

A U.N. official has called for unfettered humanitarian access to several crisis-hit states of Myanmar including restive Rakhine where large numbers of the Rohingya Muslim minority have fled security forces for Bangladesh since August.

Ursula Mueller, assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and deputy emergency relief coordinator, said in a statement April 8 that restrictions on humanitarian access in Myanmar have "significantly worsened" in the past year.

Mueller said it was not only a problem in Rakhine State but also in Kachin and Shan States where some humanitarian aid efforts have been hampered.

"When you cut that humanitarian lifeline, there is a very real human impact," Mueller said as she concluded a six-day Myanmar visit.

In Rakhine, humanitarian assistance by the U.N. and non-governmental organizations has been restricted since violence in the state's north broke out on Aug. 25 after Rohingya militants attacked a number of border posts. Since then more than 688,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar's military to become refugees in neighboring Bangladesh.

"There is a humanitarian crisis on both sides of the Bangladesh-Myanmar border that is affecting the world's largest group of stateless people," said Mueller.

"The unfolding tragedy in the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar rightly captured the world's attention, but we cannot, and must not, forget the plight of over 400,000 Muslim people still living in Rakhine State who continue to face a life of hardship and marginalization due to movement restrictions. 

"These restrictions [on humanitarian access] severely compromise their rights and obstruct their access to health, livelihoods, protection, education and other essential services."

The Myanmar government has so far only allowed the World Food Program (WFP) and the Red Cross to access Rakhine State.

The Red Cross said it has been providing more than 200,000 people with aid in the state's affected regions.

Numar, a Rohingya resident from Pan Taw Pyin village, Maungdaw township in northern Rakhine, said villagers have received food items from WFP and the Red Cross.

"It is just enough for survival," Numar told ucanews.com. "People here have no employment opportunities."

Kachin and northern Shan States

Aid workers say there are restrictions on providing humanitarian assistance to the camps for internally displaced persons (IDP), especially in non-governmental control areas in Kachin and northern Shan States.

But Eddie, a program manager of Karuna (Caritas) Myanmar's Lashio branch, said as a church-based organization it has not been facing any difficulties in providing humanitarian assistance to the IDP camps in northern Shan State.

"For the U.N. and INGOs, there are more restrictions on providing humanitarian assistance and more of a need to inform the respective authorities," Eddie told ucanews.com.

"Humanitarian workers who are foreigners are mostly based in Lashio as they need to await long process for permission to go beyond Lashio."

Full report at:

https://www.ucanews.com/news/un-appeals-for-humanitarian-access-in-myanmars-restive-regions/82021

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Both Taliban and civilians suffered casualties in Kunduz airstrike: Abdullah

Apr 09 2018

The Chief Executive of the Government of National Unity Abdullah Abdullah says both the Taliban and civilians have suffered casualties in the airstrike conducted in northern Kunduz province of Afghanistan.

In his speech during the meeting of the Ministers Council, Abdullah said the airstrike in Dasht-e-Archi was carried out a main compound of the Taliban group.

Abdullah further added that the airstrike resulted into the killing of several key Taliban leaders but unfortunately some civilians suffered casualties.

This comes as the Ministry of Defense officials said last week that the airstrike was carried out a main stronghold of the Taliban group in Dasht-e-Archi district which was also being used as the training camp by the group.

According to the defense officials, the raid was conducted based on accurate intelligence information and as a result several Taliban insurgents including eighteen of their leaders were killed.

In regards to the civilian casualties, the Ministry of Defense spokesman Gen. Radmanish said the Afghan army helicopters attacked the the compound with rockets but the civilians sustained casualties from small fire arms.

According to Gen. Radmanish, the Taliban militants initially opened fire on army helicopters after their base was attacked with rockets and later opened fire on civilians.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/both-taliban-and-civilians-suffered-casualties-in-kunduz-airstrike-abdullah-04836/

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Mideast

 

Protests will go on until Gaza siege ends: Hamas

Apr 9, 2018

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has said that peaceful mass protests will continue until the siege of the Gaza Strip is ended.

“We will return to Palestine, our villages and Jerusalem al-Quds," said Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh on Monday at a protest camp set up along the border with Israel.

"Although we are in the second week of the March of Return, this peaceful, civilized, and popular march has achieved important goals, and we are still in the beginning,” he added.

While stressing that the marches were peaceful, Haniyeh stressed that Hamas is prepared to take up arms against the Tel Aviv regime is required.

On March 30, Palestinians marched to the fence separating Gaza from the occupied territories at the start of a six-week protest, dubbed “The Great March of Return,” demanding the right to return for those driven out of their homeland.

The demonstrations turned violent after Israeli forces used tear gas and live fire against the protesters.

Israel has faced international criticism over its use of live fire after almost two weeks of protests and clashes along the fence in which its forces have killed 30 Palestinians, according to Gaza's Health Ministry.

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/04/09/557985/palestine-israel-gaza-strip-hamas

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Syria warns about ‘dangerous repercussions’ of Israeli assaults

Apr 9, 2018

Syria has warned about the “dangerous repercussions” of Israeli assaults on its territories, stressing that a recent attack on an air base in the Arab country’s province of Homs would not have been possible without massive US support.

The warning was made by the Syrian Foreign Ministry in a letter to the United Nations secretary general and the UNSC president on Monday, Syria's official news agency SANA reported.

Two Israeli F-15 warplanes carried out strikes from Lebanese air space on T-4 air base in Homs on Sunday that killed and wounded several people. Syrian air defense systems shot down five out of eight missiles fired.

In the framework of its policies based on practicing state terror and providing constant support for armed terrorist groups as well as violating UNSC resolutions, the authorities of the Israeli regime renewed acts of aggression against Syrian territories, with Israeli F15 jets launching missiles from the Lebanese airspace on T-4 airport in Homs province, Syria’s Foreign Ministry said in the letter.

The ministry noted that Israel’s repeated acts of aggression against Syria had failed to protect the regime’s partners and agents represented by terrorist groups and prevent the Syrian army from achieving gains against terrorism.

“The Syrian Arab Republic will spare no effort to defend its territories, people and sovereignty by all possible means guaranteed by the UN Charter and the provisions of international human law and … international law,” it added.

Syria’s Foreign Ministry called on the UNSC to condemn these blatant Israeli aggressions and adopt strict measures to prevent their recurrence.

Earlier, SANA reported that the US was suspected of launching a missile attack on T-4 military airport in Homs after US President Donald Trump promised a “big price” to be paid for what he said was a chemical weapons attack in the Arab country.

The Syrian state media later reported that the deadly attack was carried out by Israeli warplanes.

The alleged chemical attack on the militant-held town of Douma in the Eastern Ghouta region over the weekend left dozens dead and drew international condemnation from various countries and international bodies.

The Syrian government, in a statement released late on Saturday, strongly rejected the allegation of using chemical munitions and said that the so-called Jaish al-Islam Takfiri terrorist group, which has dominant presence in Douma, was repeating the accusations “in order to accuse the Syrian Arab army, in a blatant attempt to hinder the Army’s advance.”

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/04/09/557977/Syria-Israeli-assaults-T4-air-base-UNSC

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Israeli jets target Gaza position

April 10, 2018

JERUSALEM - Israeli fighter jets targeted a Hamas "military target" in northern Gaza on Monday in response to Palestinians infiltrating the border and laying bombs the previous day, the army said.

Palestinian security sources in Gaza said the Israeli strikes hit a base in Jabalia belonging to Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's armed wing, and farmland near Beit Lahia, causing damage but no injuries. The Israeli strike came a day after suspects crossed the northern Gaza border fence, leaving "explosive devices" that were found by the army.

The border fence between the Palestinian enclave and Israel has become the backdrop of mass Gaza demonstrations that lead to deadly clashes. Israel has faced mounting questions over its use of live fire after 10 days of protests and clashes along the Gaza Strip border. On Monday, the Gaza health ministry said Marwan Qudeih, 45, who was wounded by Israeli fire east of Khan Yunis on March 30, died of his wounds. His death brings the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since then to 31.

Israel says it opens fire when necessary to stop damage to the border fence, infiltrations and attempted attacks. It alleges Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip and with whom it has fought three wars since 2008, is seeking to use the protests as cover to carry out violence.

"The IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) views with great severity the Hamas terror organisation endeavours to turn the security fence parameter into a combat zone while attempting to damage security and defence infrastructure," the army said in its Monday statement.

Rights groups have harshly criticised Israeli soldiers' actions, and Palestinians say protesters are being shot while posing no threat to troops.

On Sunday, the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said she was opening a preliminary probe to determine whether there was enough evidence to launch a full-blown investigation into any alleged crimes committed by Israel or Hamas.

Russia condemns Israel's '

indiscriminate' fire in Gaza

Russia on Monday condemned "unacceptable" and "indiscriminate" fire by the Israeli army in clashes that have left some 30 Palestinians dead in the Gaza strip.

"Considering that the indiscriminate use of force against the civilian population is absolutely unacceptable, we once again call upon the Palestinians and Israelis to refrain from steps that will exacerbate this dangerous tension," Moscow's foreign ministry said in a statement. It said it supported calls by the UN to conduct an investigation into the violence.

The border fence between the Palestinian enclave and Israel has become the backdrop of mass Gaza demonstrations that has led to deadly clashes.

Israel has faced mounting questions over its use of live fire after 10 days of protests and violence along the Gaza Strip border in which its forces have killed 30 Palestinians, according to Gaza's health ministry.

Israel says it opens fire when necessary to stop damage to the border fence, infiltrations and attempted attacks. It alleges Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip and with whom it has fought three wars since 2008, is seeking to use the protests as cover to carry out violence.

Palestinians want probe on 'assailant' killed by Israeli fire

A Palestinian rights group called Monday for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of a Palestinian shot after allegedly attempting to attack Israeli soldiers.

Mohammad Anbar, 46, was pronounced dead in an Israeli hospital near Tel Aviv on Sunday, six days after being shot by a security guard while charging at soldiers wielding a knife at a northern West Bank military checkpoint, according to an Israeli security source.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, however, argues the gunfire was not justified.

The PCHR also alleged that Anbar's brother and sister were not allowed to visit him in hospital to prevent him from "revealing the circumstances of the gunfire".

The Palestinian NGO called for an "immediate and impartial investigation" into Anbar's death and for the "international community to compel Israel to respect international law and humanitarian law".

Full report at:

https://nation.com.pk/10-Apr-2018/israeli-jets-target-gaza-position

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Ali Amini, Remains in Detention for Being a Christian

5th April, 2018

HRANA News Agency – Ali Amini, a new Christian convert from Tabriz, was arrested several days before the New Year by the Tabriz Intelligence Office. After being interrogated, he was taken to the Tabriz Prison. After a month, he still remains in jail as a temporary detention.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), Ali Amini, a new Christian convert from Tabriz city, who had been arrested before the New Year, is still being held in Tabriz Central Prison.

This detainee, who was arrested by Tabriz Intelligence agents, just a few days before New Year’s Eve, after a few days of interrogation at the solitary confinement in the Intelligence Office was transferred to the Tabriz Central Prison.

Mr. Amini is currently being held in Tabriz Central prison.

Ali Amini converted to Christianity before the revolution of 1978 and has been arrested, tried and imprisoned several times after the Islamic Republic came to power; he is currently the owner of an old pastry in Tabriz.

Full report at:

https://www.en-hrana.org/ali-amini-remains-detention-christian

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Palestine: Protesters demand justice for death of journalist

Apr 9, 2018

Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration on Monday demanding justice for their colleague Yaser Murtaja who died after being hit by Israeli gunfire, along Gaza's eastern border near Khan Younis.

The protesters stood with their mouths sealed, holding photos of Murtaja, who was killed while covering the March of Return protest at the border with Israel on Friday.

Murtaja, a photographer from the Gaza-based Ain Media agency, was shot in the stomach, despite wearing a bulletproof vest imprinted with the word 'Press' on it. He later died of his wounds in hospital.

According to the Palestinian Syndicate of Journalists, a further seven journalists were also injured during Friday’s protests.

In a statement, the Israeli military said that it "does not intend to shoot at journalists" and has since opened an investigation into the incident.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/04/09/557988/Palestine-Protesters-demand-justice-for-death-of-journalist

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North America

 

'Right wing uses Islamophobia for election gains'

09 April 2018

Right-wing politicians are using Islamophobia to win elections, according to a leading scholar on the issue.

“Islamophobia both in Europe and the U.S. is being used as a political project that is connected to the right wing and possibly by discredited political elites who are using the demonizing of Muslims to win elections,” Dr. Hatem Bazian of the University of California-Berkeley told Anadolu Agency on Sunday.

Bazian, who is also a weekly columnist for the Istanbul-based English language newspaper Daily Sabah, is in Istanbul to take part in a three-day conference on Islamophobia at Sabahattin Zaim University.

“So, therefore, the strategy of demonizing Muslims and targeting Muslims is driven by electoral politics,” said Bazian, who is also a co-founder and professor of Islamic Law and Theology at Zaytuna College, the first accredited Muslim liberal arts college in the U.S.

Bazian is also a weekly columnist for the Istanbul-based English language newspaper Daily Sabah.

In several European countries, right-wing parties have gained electoral victories amid a refugee crisis -- the biggest in Europe since the Second World War.

Bazian said right-wing political parties are “attempting to define themselves as protecting Western society from outsiders, which essentially is the only way for them to return to respectability”.

According to Bazian, neo-Nazi groups, skinheads and white supremacists are using anti-Muslim discourse to gain respect after having been on the margins of society.

http://www.worldbulletin.net/news/200847/right-wing-uses-islamophobia-for-election-gains

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US initial assessment does not blame Syria for chemical attack

Apr 9, 2018

An initial assessment by the United States has not determined whether a reported chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma was carried out by Syrian government forces, Reuters reports.

The assessment also suggested that a nerve agent was used in the suspected poison attack, but further evidence was needed to determine the type of agent, US government sources told the news agency.

President Donald Trump has threatened to respond "forcefully" to the alleged chemical attack despite strong warnings from Russia.

After meeting his cabinet and top generals on Monday, Trump told reporters "we have a lot of options militarily and we'll be letting you know pretty soon... probably after the fact."

In a pair of tweets on Sunday, President Donald Trump appeared to blame the Syrian government and Russia for Saturday’s chemical incident in the suburb of Damascus, and warned of “a big price.”

Trump also called out Russian President Vladimir Putin for his role in Syria’s conflict that just entered its eighth year.

The US president and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron agreed in a phone call that chemical weapons had been used in Douma.

“Both leaders strongly condemned the horrific chemical weapons attacks in Syria and agreed that the Assad regime must be held accountable for its continued human rights abuses,” a White House statement said.

Trump’s tough language has raised concern that he might order a military attack against Syrian government positions a year after he launched a barrage of missile strikes against a Syrian air base following allegations of a chemical attack.

The US president said Monday he would make a decision on a response, probably by the end of the day.

Speaking at a Cabinet meeting, Trump said he was in touch with military leaders and advisers to determine who was responsible for the gas attack.

Meanwhile, the State Department said Monday it was consulting with US allies on a possible response, stressing that "there will be consequences for this unacceptable atrocity."

Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters in Washington that he would not rule out military action such as air strikes if it was determined that the Syrian government was responsible.

Mattis accused Russia of falling short on its obligations to ensure that Syria abandoned its chemical weapons capabilities.

"The first thing we have to look at is why are chemical weapons still being used at all when Russia was the framework guarantor of removing all the chemical weapons," he said.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/04/09/557957/US-assessment-does-not-blame-Syria-for-gas-attack-

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Trump says ‘major decisions’ coming on Syria in ’24-48 hours’

April 10, 2018

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said Monday that “major decisions” would be made on a Syria response in the next day or two, after warning that Damascus would have a “big price to pay” over an alleged chemical attack on a rebel-held town.

Trump condemned what he called a “heinous attack on innocent” Syrians in Douma, as he opened a cabinet meeting at the White House. The suspected gas attack left dozens dead, according to rescuers and medics. Syria and its ally Russia have denied any use of chemical weapons. “This is about humanity — it can’t be allowed to happen,” Trump said, adding that decisions would come in the “next 24-48 hours.”

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/04/09/trump-says-major-decisions-coming-on-syria-in-24-48-hours/

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Pentagon offers Trump military choices over Syria

10 April 2018

The Pentagon is offering President Donald Trump a series of military options to respond to the Assad regime’s latest use of chemical weapons on Syrian civilians, officials said Monday.

"Our role is to provide the president with the options. In light of this horrific incident, that is where we're looking at potential military options and providing them to the president," Col. Patrick Ryder, spokesman for the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs said.

Describing the images of civilians injured by chemical weapons as "horrific," Ryder said the military option is definitely something that the U.S. is looking at and that Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Francis Dunford already met with Trump in this regard.

He declined to give more details about the options, saying that had to wait until the president makes an announcement.

The Pentagon's comments came as Trump prepared to convene with his top military brass Monday night for a working dinner focused on Washington's response to a chemical attack in which dozens of people were killed Saturday night outside of Damascus.

Assad regime forces struck targets in Eastern Ghouta's Douma district on Saturday midnight, using a toxic gas which left at least 78 civilians dead, according to Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets.

The Damascus suburb has been under siege for the last five years, and humanitarian access to the area, which is home to 400,000 people, has been completely cut off.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/america-canada/200887/pentagon-offers-trump-military-choices-over-syria

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Proposed Solon Mosque and Community Center Takes Heat From Circulating Petition

Apr 9, 2018

Last May, the Solon city council approved the site plan and several variances that would allow the construction of the Chagrin Valley Islamic Center and Mosque on Liberty Road.

However, as the proposed start of the building's construction approaches next month, the center has proven a divisive addition to the Solon city landscape among some residents. Opposition for the project has taken the shape of a circulating petition, which currently sits at nearly 900 signatures.

Issues cited in the petition include the city's inadequate notification process of residents near the center's proposed site, increased traffic proving detrimental to the surrounding area and a discrepancy with the definition of a "community center."

"A Community Center is not a house of worship. A walking foot bridge is not a house of worship. A gymnasium is not a house of worship. A development of this size should not be approved in a residential area," the petition says.

However, Solon's mayor, Edward Kraus, says that the CVIC adequately followed the process to gain approval to build on the land and would be held to the standards of any other religiously-affiliated space built in the city.

"There were particular variances associated with the site and the site plan was approved," Kraus told Scene. "If you own the property you're allowed to build on your property. Now, they still have to comply with every city regulation and code just like any other religious institution."

The potential mosque comes at a challenging time for practitioners of Islam in America, following political moves targeting Muslims, including a controversial travel ban. One of the petition's signers writes, "I'm signing based on the history of other countries. The Islamic Center is more than a building of prayer, but a strategy construction for jihad. If they came to America, let them become Americans or return to their home country."

Masroor Malik, one of CVIC's board members, says the type of comments present on the petition, even if only representative of a small faction of the community, illustrates the need for a center.

"I think people have not really looked at Islam or studied Islam or know a lot of Muslims," he said. "So what we're trying to do with [the center] is create interfaith activity to educate the community and build a strong relationship."

The proposed center consists of a 41,700 square-foot total build out on six acres of land, including a 182-space parking lot. The project's ground-breaking date is currently aimed at May 15, and would be completed in six different phases. Should that date be reached, the Chagrin Valley Islamic Center (CVIC) expects services to begin in at least a year and a half.

Currently, the plans for the center include regular Friday congregational prayers, children and community activities, and cross-programming with nearby churches and synagogues. This interfaith programming would invite community members of different religions into the center to help create a greater understanding of Islam.

Mayor Kraus encourages the use of the center for these purposes, citing the potential benefit Solon would receive from the creation of a gathering place for residents of Islamic faith.

"Religious life is very advantageous to the community," he said. "Many religious institutions get involved in non-profit work and helping others. There's obviously a great benefit that we derive from that."

Despite the petition and the number of people who have signed it, Malik says the CVIC continues to be driven by the desire to provide Solon's Muslim community with an avenue for spiritual fulfillment and community outreach.

"In a day and age on social media when you can always get a lot of numbers, does it really reflect the sentiment of Solon population? I highly doubt that," he says. "We have looked at it as noise and we're just marching ahead."

However, Malik says that the CVIC is willing to have an open dialogue with anyone opposed to the center. He hopes that these conversations would help give insight into the contributions of the Muslim community in Solon and the necessity for a suitable gathering space.

Full report at:

https://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2018/04/09/proposed-solon-mosque-and-community-center-takes-heat-from-circulating-petition

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Southeast Asia

 

Indonesian preacher gets 9 years' jail for inciting suicide bomb attack in Jakarta

APR 9, 2018

JAKARTA - A Muslim preacher was on Monday (April 9) sentenced to nine years in jail by an Indonesian court for inciting the suicide bombing in East Jakarta in May last year that killed three policemen.

Kiki Muhammad Iqbal, 38, had been charged with inciting others to commit an act of terrorism by delivering a sermon in a Bandung mosque on May 19, 2017, on how "mati syahid" - meaning "to die as a martyr" - is the ultimate goal of every good Muslim.

The message from former terrorist bomb-maker Kiki was allegedly directed at Ahmad Sukri and Ikhwan Nur Salam, the two men who died while mounting a suicide bomb attack near a bus station in Jakarta on May 24, 2017.

"The defendant has validly and convincingly been proven guilty of planning and inciting others to commit an act of terror," presiding judge Purwanto told the courtroom in North Jakarta District Court on Monday.

After the verdict was read out, Kiki told reporters outside the courtroom: "It's an unfair and tyrannical verdict."

Kiki's lawyer Kamsi said he will notify the court in a week's time whether his client intends to appeal against the verdict.

Inciting others to commit an act of terrorism is a crime in Indonesia punishable by death or life imprisonment.

Besides killing three policemen, the attack by the two men at the Transjakarta bus shelter in Kampung Melayu left 11 others injured, including a 17-year-old driver and 19-year-old student.

Kiki was arrested on June 5 in Sumedang, a regency located about two hours from Bandung by car, after police established a link between him and the two attackers.

He was a student of radical cleric Aman Abdurrahman, the leader of the Jemaah Ansharut Daulah, an alliance of Indonesian militants who have pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group.

Aman, in an ongoing separate trial, has been accused of inciting others to commit various terror attacks in Indonesia including the attack in Jakarta in January 2016, which left four bystanders dead, in what was the first incident claimed by ISIS in South-east Asia.

In 2010, Kiki was arrested for being a member of a terrorist cell in West Java known as "the Cibiru bomb group" and sentenced to six years in jail for terrorism-related offences a year later. After his recent release, Kiki refused to undergo a deradicalisation programme conducted by the National Counter-terrorism Agency.

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/indonesian-preacher-gets-nine-years-jail-for-inciting-suicide-bomb-attack-in-jakarta

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Indonesian militant given 9 years jail for inciting attacks

Apr 9, 2018

An Indonesian court sentenced an Islamic militant to nine years in prison on Monday for masterminding a double suicide bombing last year that targeted police at a bus terminal in Jakarta.

Kiki Muhammad Iqbal, 38, was among six suspected militants who were arrested days after the attack, in which two bombers blew themselves up, killing three policemen and themselves. The attack also wounded 12 people, both police and civilians.

The suspects were believed to be members of Jemaah Anshorut Daulah, a network of about two dozen Indonesian extremist groups that formed in 2015 and pledges allegiance to Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The network, which the United States has designated a terrorist grouping, has been implicated in a number of attacks in Indonesia over the past year.

A panel of three judges at North Jakarta District Court ruled that Iqbal had organized and incited others to launch the suicide attacks through his jihadist sermons at a mosque in Bandung, the capital of West Java province. The bombers and other suspects attended the mosque.

"The defendant has legally and convincingly been proven guilty of organizing and inciting others to commit acts of terrorism," said presiding Judge Purwanto, who uses one name.

The May 24 attack last year was the deadliest in Jakarta since January 2016, when a suicide and gun strike in the central business district killed four civilians and four assailants.

In a separate trial in the same court, a panel of three judges sentenced another militant, Muslih Afifi Afandi, to seven years in jail for harboring other suspects and hiding information about the attacks from authorities.

Full report at:

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/indonesian-militant-years-jail-inciting-attacks-54338094

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Fears of tensions over polls in West Kalimantan overblown

April 10, 2018

The report (Ethnic tensions may flare as Kalimantan polls loom; March 26) gives the impression that the upcoming gubernatorial election in West Kalimantan will be marked by identity politics and be potentially divisive due to the different ethnic and religious backgrounds of the candidates.

Indonesia is a country with diversity in terms of ethnicity, language, culture and religion.

In Indonesian democracy, multi-parties and free media are part and parcel of the system. Citizens' rights, which include freedom of expression, assembly, to vote and to be nominated, are fully guaranteed by our Constitution.

Consequently, differences of views, opinions and political orientations may be utilised to heighten political tensions during elections.

Democratic expressions may sound noisy and campaign rallies may even look chaotic. This may give the impression of increasing tensions which could lead to conflict, but we should not forget that most elections, if not all, have been run peacefully.

Some regions even consider their local elections as colourful democratic festivities, which is demonstrated by people wearing their traditional costumes at the polling stations.

Observers will notice that national elections held since 1999, after the reform process, including more than 350 simultaneous local elections in the past three years, have been successfully held in a peaceful, free, fair and democratic manner, without any serious incidents.

This was possible due to the effective functioning of the election system, including the National Election Commission. Election disputes are adjudicated by the Constitutional Court, andits rulings are respected by all parties to the dispute, including the losers.

The Straits Times report also said that just 59 per cent of West Kalimantan's 4.5 million people are Muslims, compared with almost 90 per cent nationally. I would like to point out that in some provinces and districts in the eastern part of Indonesia, Muslims are a minority.

Also, for the record, 22 non-Muslim candidates were nominated by Islamic parties in the simultaneous local elections last year.

Full report at:

http://www.straitstimes.com/forum/letters-in-print/fears-of-tensions-over-polls-in-west-kalimantan-overblown

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Indonesia seizes alleged ‘slave ship’ wanted by Interpol

April 10, 2018

JAKARTA: Indonesia seized an alleged “slave ship” following a dramatic high seas chase sparked by an Interpol alert after the vessel escaped capture in China and Mozambique, authorities said Tuesday.

Interpol tipped off Indonesian authorities that the stateless STS-50, a vessel with a notorious maritime rap sheet, would be entering the Southeast Asian nation’s waters with authorities concerned the crew were being forced to work.

The boat, captured on Friday some 60 miles (95 kilometers) from Weh Island in Aceh province, had 20 Indonesians, two Ukrainians and eight Russians aboard, including the captain, a senior navy official said.

The crew have been detained and are now being questioned.

The Indonesian sailors said they were not paid and that their passports and other documents had been taken away as soon as they boarded the ship nearly a year ago, the navy said.

“These Indonesians had been sailing for 10 months without being paid so that’s why we suspect there was slavery happening,” Indonesian navy deputy chief Achmad Taufiqoerrochman said.

The 258-meter (850 foot) long vessel, which was flying the flag of tiny African nation Togo, has previously flown flags from a string of countries including Japan, South Korea and Mozambique, authorities said.

It was on the run after escaping detention in China and also fleeing seizure in Mozambique.

Before it was caught in Indonesia, the vessel used several other names including Sea Breeze, Andrey Dolgov, and Aida, according to the fisheries ministry.

The vessel was equipped with some 600 gillnets — banned in some waters — targeting cod species and Antarctic toothfish. It is also suspected of involvement in “organized transnational crime,” the ministry added without elaborating.

Two years ago, Indonesian warships detained a Chinese trawler wanted by Interpol in Argentina.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1281996/world

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Africa

 

Somalia: Explosives Claim Hundreds of Lives in Somalia

9 APRIL 2018

By Saad Muse

Mogadishu — LANDMINES and bombs planted during decades of civil war have killed or injured no less than 1 400 Somalis over the past year.

These explosions are killing at least 75 children each year. Authorities revealed the casualties at the just-concluded International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.

"Many more people are killed through these improvised explosive devices along Somalia's roads and across its cities," said Peter de Clercq, the United Nations Secretary-General's Deputy Special Representative for Somalia.

More than 900 people were killed and injured by the devastating improvised explosive devices (IED) explosion that occurred in the capital Mogadishu in October 2017.

De Clercq described it as one of the worst IED bombings to ever occur in Africa. The bombing was blamed on the Muslim al-Shabaab terror group.

Al-Shabaab is involved in a violent campaign to overthrow successive Somali governments, including the current administration of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.

Abdulkadir Abdulle Hooshow, Director General of the Somalia Explosive Management Authority (SEMA), called more donor support for mine disposal initiatives in the East African country.

He bemoaned insufficient investment and stakeholder coordination in efforts to dispose of landmines.

Somalia has developed a national mine action strategy to guide mine disposal programmes for the next three years.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201804090694.html

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Boko Haram attack on University of Maiduguri foiled – Official

April 9, 2018

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) says its Special Forces, in conjunction with some Nigerian Army troops, successfully foiled a suicide bombing attack by Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) at the University of Maiduguri, Borno State on Sunday night.

Olatokunbo Adesanya, NAF’s Director of Public Relations and Information, confirmed this in a statement on Monday in Abuja.

“The BHT suicide bombers tried to gain access into the University but were quickly detected by the NAF Special Forces.

“Meanwhile, the vest on one of the suicide bombers detonated before they could gain access into the hostel, leading to a commotion.

“However, there was no reported fatality except for the suicide bomber, whose counterparts immediately fled, when the NAF Special Forces and the NA troops opened fire on them.

“The NAF Agusta Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) then went in pursuit of the fleeing BHTs, following which an additional suicide bomber was identified and neutralized,” he said.

Mr Adesanya said the NAF Agusta LUH was still searching for the other fleeing terrorists at the time of filing this report.

Full report at:

https://www.premiumtimesng.com/regional/nnorth-east/264421-boko-haram-attack-on-university-of-maiduguri-foiled-official.html

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Libyans demand execution of gang who killed three young siblings

9 April 2018

Hundreds of Libyans demonstrated on Sunday and demanded executing the members of an armed group who are involved in murdering three siblings after kidnapping them in December 2015 while on their way to school in Sorman, west of Libya.

The bodies of the three siblings – of whom the oldest was aged 12  – were recently found buried in a forest in Sorman.

Libyans’ were struck with grief following the tragic end of the ordeal and organized a protest in Sorman on Sunday to demand executing anyone who is proven to be involved in the crime.

The case has now become known as the case of Al-Sharshari children.

Activist Adel al-Awami said the murderers must be executed to deter others from committing such crimes and purge the society from criminals, murderers and gangs.

Activist Wael al-Roqyai agreed with Awami and said the authorities must execute “the monsters” who killed the children so the “Libyan people do not wake up to a disaster every day.”

On Sunday, the public prosecution said those involved in the abduction and murder of the children are Al-Nimri al-Mahjoubi, the leader of an armed group that carries out abductions, murder, theft and armed robbery in West Libya, Ali Kardmeen, a prominent commander of an armed group in Sorman and who was arrested on Saturday, and Mohammed al-Kayb, a criminal investigation officer.

According to Libyan media reports, Mahjoubi was detained few days ago and he revealed where the children were buried while being interrogated. According to Mahjoubi, Kayb was tasked with abduction operations.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2018/04/09/Libyans-demand-execution-of-gang-who-killed-three-young-siblings.html

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Boni elders demand action as five schools remain shut over terror attacks

APRIL 8 2018

The Boni people in Lamu East want the national government to build a boarding school in Kiangwe after five schools have remained shut for years in Basuba Ward.

The community has been hit hard by frequent terror attacks by Al Shabaab militia leading to the closure of the five schools in the area for the last four years.

Teachers subsequently fled the schools due to the frequent terror raids and numerous advertisements for teachers to replace them have not borne any fruit.

Speaking in Lamu town on Sunday, Basuba Ward MCA Deko Barissa and the Boni Council of Elders said the education of the Boni children has been in limbo due to the Al Shabaab attacks.

BOARDING SCHOOL

Mangai, Milimani, Mararani, Basuba and Kiangwe primary schools have remained shut for more than four years after teachers fled following Al-Shabaab attacks.

Related Content

Lamu schools closed over Shabaab scare to reopen

Hunt for Shabaab in Lamu intensified

Only early childhood education centres (ECDE) are open in Basuba while upper primary pupils are taught at Mokowe and Kiunga.

Mr Barissa and the Boni elders called on the government to consider setting up a boarding learning centre in Kiangwe area that will cater to the more 400 Boni children from all the five affected villages.

They also proposed that a military and police camps to be set up close to the centre so as to enable for adequate security around the clock and to also prevent any chances of the centre closing down like the rest of the primary schools.

“We want our children to carry on with learning like the rest of the counterparts countrywide but from the look of things, it’s obvious that the government is unable to contain insecurity here to a level that can enable schools to remain operational."

Teachers don’t want to work here anymore. We, therefore, prefer that the government sets up a fully functional and secured education centre here so that the Boni children can also learn. It’s not fair that while the rest are learning, our children continue to suffer,” said Mr Barissa.

The Boni Council of Elders chairman, Ali Gubo, said the fact that Kiangwe has been proposed as the site for the establishment of the centre is a perfect idea since the area is easily accessible by sea unlike the other five schools which are all only accessible by road.

ATTACKS

Currently, road transport in Basuba is a challenge since most Al-Shabaab attacks happen on the road.

Hordes of security officers and civilians have lost their lives on the Hindi-Basuba-Kiunga road after vehicles ran over IEDs planted by militants at various points.

The community has suffered drastic effects after they were locked out of the Boni forest which remains their lifeline.

The Bonis, who are traditionally hunters and gatherers, depend on the forest for food and survival.

The elders say many of the community members can no longer afford to sustain themselves after they were locked out in 2015 due to the ongoing Operation Linda Boni, a multi agency security operation meant to flush out Al-Shabaab militants from the forest.

Their sentiments come just days after  tutors recently posted to Basuba schools complained over unpaid salaries.

Full report at:

https://www.nation.co.ke/counties/lamu/Boni-children-hardest-hit-by-Al-Shabaab-attacks/3444912-4378062-hse5ae/index.html

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Europe

 

Gun control? London’s Muslim Mayor Sadiq Khan bans knives

April 9, 2018

London’s Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim to assume a mayor’s role for a major Western city, thinks he’s found the cause of the uptick in stabbings his community’s seen in recent times — wayward knives.

And as such, he’s banned the carrying of knives in the city. In the city where migration counts have escalated in recent times, by the way. Coincidence? To Khan — apparently.

He’s put out this message to all the knife-carriers of the city: Leave the blades at home. All violators will be arrested — they will not pass Go but instead, be sent right to Jail. Not to make Monopoly light of the situation — but really, what kind of game is this mayor playing?

“No excuses,” Khan tweeted. “[T]here is never a reason to carry a knife. Anyone who does will be caught, and they will feel the full force of the law.”

His message came as London recorded more homicides than the comparatively-sized New York, a historical first. By the numbers, London’s suffered 50 homicides already this year, most of which have been stabbed. Why? ‘Cause guns are already pretty much outlawed in London so the murderous-minded need to find a different weapon.

Just goes to show what conservatives and Second Amendment advocates have been saying for some time: It’s not the gun, stupid.

It’s the heart and mind of the person.

Of course, liberals don’t see it that way. They also don’t want to see the murder surge in any sort of migrant-tied light.

“Immigrants to make up HALF of London population in 15 years,” one Express headline blared, back in January of 2016.

That’s panning.

According to the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, the foreign-born population in the United Kingdom more than doubled between 1993 and 2015, from 3.8 million to 8.7 million.

“London has the greatest number of migrants (3.2 million foreign-born people in 2015) among all regions with comparable data in the UK,” the Migration Observatory reported. “Foreign-born people constituted 41% of Inner London’s population in 2015 (the highest share among all regions with comparable data).”

A ONS Labour Force Survey found similarly.

“Overall,” PWC.co.Uk reported, “one in three Londoners were born overseas (37%), an increase from 31% in 2005.”

The influx is putting a burden on the city.

“London’s migrant population is markedly higher than in the rest of the UK — 37 percent in 2015, as opposed to 10 percent across the country,” the Financial Times wrote in March of 2017.

Yet all this movement into the city has been welcomed by Khan.

“Sadiq Khan boasts of 1.5 million new people to capital as he reveals shock ‘London Plan,’” the Express wrote, back in July 2017, in reference to the mayor’s open-door intents for those seeking to relocate into London.

Well, that high-migration rate has apparently been having an effect — and it’s called Uptick in Murder.

But let’s not blame the overpopulation, or the fact that mass migration over short periods of time often leads to surges in certain types of crime (just ask Germany). Let’s not even blame the illegal drug trade that London’s own police say is fueling the rising crime and murder rates.

Nope.

It’s the knives. It’s the knives that are doing the killing, not the people.

Hopefully, Khan’s ridiculous ban won’t catch on in America. Conservatives have been saying this for some time — that it won’t be long before anti-gun leftists turn their anti-intents toward knives, as well.

That day has now arrived. But let’s confine the crazy to London, please.

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/apr/9/gun-control-londons-muslim-mayor-sadiq-khan-bans-k/

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Outer Hebrides to Get Its First Mosque after Crowd Sourcing Campaign

9 Apr 2018

The Outer Hebrides is to get its first mosque in time for the start of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan in May.

A Leeds businessman has raised more than £63,000 through donations from across the world to renovate a derelict building in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis.

The mosque will serve Muslim families living in Stornoway, who have been joined in recent years by several families who have fled the civil war in Syria.

The Muslim community in Stornoway currently worships at a house, but there is not enough room for everyone who wishes to take part.

A new electrical supply, roof and concrete floor are being installed to give the property a prayer room and a meeting space.

The building, which was originally a residential house and more recently a store, will be used for weddings and funerals as well as for worship.

Aihtsham Rashid, who runs a construction business in Leeds specialising in building mosques, set up the crowdsourcing campaign. “This is an absolutely fantastic opportunity for the residents of Stornoway regardless of their faith or colour,” he told the Hebrides News.

Rashid set a target of £50,000 for the restoration, which was quickly exceeded. “People are donating from all over the world – South Africa, America, Dubai, Pakistan – anywhere and everywhere, which is really good,” he said.

However, the mosque is facing opposition from the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), which described it as a “most unwelcome development”.

In a statement issued after planning permission was granted last year, the Rev David Blunt of the presbytery of the Outer Hebrides said: “Our main concern is with the religion of Islam itself. If a mosque ever opens, Islam will be able to promote itself in our midst through public worship, despite its beliefs and practices being alien to the religious convictions of the vast majority of our community.”

He added: “Islam is also incompatible with, and indeed a threat to, our religious and civil liberties ... The oppression of Christians and the reduced status of women under Islam are well-known, as is the willingness of some of its followers to spread its influence by violent means.”

Full report at:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/apr/09/outer-hebrides-to-get-its-first-mosque-after-crowdsourcing-campaign

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Bin Salman, Macron meet amid calls for end to French arms sales to Saudis

Apr 10, 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron hosts a private dinner for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Louvre Museum amid pressure on his administration to halt lucrative weapons sales to Riyadh over its war crimes in Yemen.

The French president’s office said the two-hour meal and talks between the two officials took place on Sunday evening, with the dialog meant to “anticipate the topics” of upcoming discussions.

The museum was chosen as a symbol of France’s cultural heritage and because of the launch of a painting exhibition, the office said, adding that Saudi Arabia and France would work on defining a “strategic partnership” during bin Salman’s visit.

The heir to the Saudi throne arrived in Paris on Sunday -- the fourth destination in his international tour that has already taken him to the US, UK, Egypt.

The Saudi crown prince will wrap up his trip on Tuesday with another dinner with the French president, this time at the Elysee Palace.

A source close to bin Salman’s delegation told AFP that some 18 memorandums of understanding in energy, agriculture, tourism and culture will be signed at an official Saudi-France CEO Forum on Tuesday.

It was unclear whether Macron would broach human rights issues.

France is the world’s third biggest arms exporter and counts Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates among its biggest purchasers.

Paris has come under fierce criticism by rights groups at home and abroad for selling arms to the Saudi regime, which is involved, along with a number of its allies, in a bloody military campaign against Yemen, the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest nation.

Anti-war activists say Riyadh is complicit in Saudi crimes against Yemeni people.

Prior to bin Salman’s meeting with the French leader, several rights groups urged Macron to pressure the prince, who is known as the architect of the Yemen war and has been leading the campaign as the Saudi defense minister.

“France is potentially an accomplice to serious violations of humanitarian laws by selling weapons and military equipment to Saudi Arabia, given what we know is taking place in Yemen,” said Aurelie Perrier, coordinator for Yemen and Saudi Arabia at Amnesty International France.

Speaking during an anti-Saudi protest under the Eiffel Tower, she also called on the French president “to stop arms transfers to Saudi Arabia and to lift the blockade on Yemen.”

Meanwhile, two rights groups, the Weapons Observatory (Obsarm) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), said “confidential testimony” pointed to the use of French military equipment in the Saudi aggression on Yemen.

“If these indicators do not constitute proof, they throw serious suspicion on the massive presence and use of French military equipment in Yemen,” they said in a statement.

Additionally, Benedicte Jeannerod, head of Human Rights Watch France, denounced widespread rights violations inside Saudi Arabia.

“Saudi Arabia is still in pole position among countries who use the death penalty the most,” she said. “European partners, and in this case France, should not shut their eyes to these grave abuses on the pretext that they wish to support a supposedly reformist friend.”

Last week, French lawmaker Sebastien Nadot and 15 other co-signatories officially filed a request for a 30-member commission of inquiry into Paris’ role in the war on Yemen.

The commission is “to study France’s compliance with international commitments regarding arms export licenses, munitions, training, services and assistance that our country has granted during these three years to the belligerents of the conflict in Yemen,” Nadot said.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/04/10/558000/France-Saudi-Mohammed-bin-Salman

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Hungary's anti-refugee PM who warned Muslim immigrants would 'overrun' Europe wins fourth term

April 9, 2018

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban scored a crushing election victory to clinch a fourth term, in a boost to populist forces that are challenging the European Union’s multi-cultural, democratic values.

Orban’s Fidesz party was on track to repeat the two-thirds majority it won in the previous two elections, giving it limitless power to change laws. Driven by an unbridled anti-refugee campaign, he outperformed his own party’s stated expectation and shattered hopes of a potential upset among the fractured opposition, which has decried his government’s authoritarian tilt. Anti-establishment and euroskeptic parties from Poland to France hailed the result.

“We want to call out what’s ailing this continent,” Orban told Echo TV after claiming victory late Sunday. “We don’t want to go against Europe and the EU, we want Europe and the EU to be strong and successful. But before that we need to be honest about what’s hurting us.”

The win opens the way for Orban, 54, to become Hungary’s longest-serving prime minister and, if he finishes his term, to rule the country of 10 million for half of its post-communist existence. A supermajority may embolden policies that have included cracking down on civil society, squeezing media and the courts, and haranguing his peers with anti-Muslim speeches that have made Orban the black sheep of Europe.

“A big and clear victory for Viktor Orban in Hungary: the change of values and the mass immigration extolled by the EU have again been rejected,” French National Front leader Marine Le Pen said in a tweet Monday.

Fidesz won 133 of parliament’s 199 seats, according to results with almost 99 percent of votes counted, the same as in 2014. Defeated leaders from across the opposition offered to resign, including Gabor Vona of the runner-up Jobbik party and the leadership board of the Socialist party.

Orban’s warning that Muslim immigrants would “overrun” Europe follows populist gains in the past year by groups including Austria’s Freedom Party and the League and the Five Star Movement in Italy. Hungary, like its other central European peers, has no significant Muslim or refugee population. The European Parliament is set to vote later this year on whether it should strip Budapest of its EU voting rights over backsliding on democracy.

Orban, who is one of the EU’s strongest supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin, also pledged to hold opposition parties “morally, politically and legally” responsible, following reports from media outlets and non-government organizations alleging state graft. While the ruling party has denied the accusations, Hungary tumbled to 66th place in Transparency International’s annual survey of perceived corruption in the past four years, from 48th, the second-worst in the EU.

“The path to reform is never easy,” Polish Premier Mateusz Morawiecki, who has spoken of his dream to “re-Christianize” the EU, said on Twitter. “Support from a majority of society shows that the effort makes sense.”

After building a fence on Hungary’s southern border to keep out refugees, Orban focused his campaign on billionaire George Soros, saying the pro-democracy campaigner led a global network working to let immigrants take over the West. Orban’s cabinet has vowed to approve a “Stop Soros” legislation package after the election. Soros rejects the accusations and his Open Society Foundation said the measures would “criminalize” civil society.

“We want Hungary to remain a Hungarian country,” Orban said. “This is our world, our culture, our lifestyle. These are our life principles. We want to defend these and we don’t want others to change them.”

That has done little to dissuade investors, with bonds rebounding and the forint showing modest gains against the euro on Monday. Still, many had rooted for only a slim Orban victory in the hope it would lead to economic stability. A supermajority, which will allow him to change the constitution, may encourage him to deepen his conflicts with his European peers and further overhaul Hungary’s democratic institutions.

Full report at:

http://nationalpost.com/news/world/hungarys-anti-refugee-pm-who-warned-muslim-immigrants-would-overrun-europe-wins-fourth-term

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Virginia man caught in terror probe pleads guilty

By Matthew Barakat

April 9, 2018

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A northern Virginia man who became the subject of an FBI investigation after his family became suspicious of his conversion to Islam pleaded guilty Monday to charges including obstruction of a terror probe and receipt of child pornography.

Sean Duncan, 22, of Sterling entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. The deal requires the judge to impose a prison term between 15 and 20 years.

Authorities arrested Duncan in December. When they arrived at his home to execute a search warrant, Duncan ran out the back door barefoot and tossed a plastic bag with a thumb drive broken into pieces and coated in a cleaning solution that produced frothing white bubbles.

The child pornography evidence emerged as the investigation continued.

Duncan did not plead to a terror-related charge in Monday’s plea. But Duncan admitted as part of a plea that he had been espousing support for the Islamic State group as far back as 2015. At one point, he proposed marriage to a woman he had met online who was also an IS supporter. Duncan wanted the woman to be his second wife and meet up with him and his first wife in Syria. The woman declined.

In February 2016, Duncan and his wife flew from the U.S. for Turkey but were denied entry into that county.

By that point, according to court documents, one of Duncan’s relatives had approached the FBI. The relative told the FBI that Duncan had converted to Islam and espoused radical views like support of beheadings.

Later, in October 2017, Duncan’s name showed up on a list maintained by an Islamic State recruiter who had been arrested.

As for the child pornography, Duncan admitted that he had a smartphone that contained sexually explicit images of pre-pubescent minors, some as young as infants.

One of the photos showed Duncan’s hand molesting an infant who was a relative.

Before Duncan moved to northern Virginia, he and his wife had been living in Aspinwall, a suburb of Pittsburgh. Duncan’s infant son died in June 2017. The Allegheny County medical examiner’s office listed the boy’s manner of death as undetermined.

The photo showing the molestation of Duncan’s infant relative was taken in the weeks and months after Duncan’s son died.

Duncan, wearing a green jail jumpsuit and sporting a long beard, said little during Monday’s plea hearing except to answer the judge’s questions about whether he understood his rights.

The judge, Leonie Brinkema, is bound to impose a minimum of 15 years when Duncan is sentenced July 6. She can impose no more than 20 years.

Full report at:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/virginia-man-caught-in-terror-probe-pleads-guilty/2018/04/09/b25ac3dc-3c2c-11e8-955b-7d2e19b79966_story.html?utm_term=.dd01c7e47ccc

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