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Islamic World News ( 18 Nov 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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154 U.N. Nations Call Temple Mount Solely By Muslim Name Haram Al-Sharif

New Age Islam News Bureau

18 Nov 2019

Tourists look at the Dome of the Rock, located in Jerusalem's Old City on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount

(photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)


154 U.N. Nations Call Temple Mount Solely By Muslim Name Haram Al-Sharif

The Quran’s Teachings Showing Best Way for Muslim Unity: Expert

Australia Suspends Human Rights Partnership with China Over Mass Detention Of Muslims And Banning Of Politicians Critical Of Beijing

War on Terror Killed Over 801,000 People, Cost $6.4 Trillion: Reports

Indonesia Taps into Muslim Tourist Market with Shariah Hotels

AIMPLB and Jamiat Ulama e Hind Set To File Review Plea against SC Order, Rejects 5-Acre Plot

West Vancouver Brothers Hold Forum To Dispel Myths About Islam

Saudi Arabia, China Conduct Drill to Improve Combat Readiness

Sultan of Sokoto Urges Muslims to Demand for their Rights within Ambits of Law

Austrian City Bans Public Funds For Antisemitic BDS and Political Islam

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau




Islamic Unity Conference: Palestinian cause is the Islamic nation’s central issue

Iran’s Quds Force and the Muslim Brotherhood Considered an Alliance against Saudi Arabia

Joint List Says Netanyahu Inciting Death Threats Against Party Leaders

Islamic Jihad Reminds Gazans That Hamas Disappoints and Israel Aims to Cut Them Off

Amira Hass

While U.S.-Led Forces Dropped Bombs, Iran Waged Its Own Covert Campaign against the Islamic State

Prime minister denies promises were made to Islamic Jihad for ceasefire

India bans Islamic, Iranian TV channels in Kashmir

FM Zarif congratulates Islamic Jihad head on new achievement against Israel

Islamic Unity Confab calls for defending Al-Aqsa Mosque



Australia and New Zealand

'This is what Australia should look like': Muslim group is praised for driving six hours from Sydney's west to cook up a free BBQ for bushfire victims

White supremacist Philip Arps has second appeal for sharing mosque shooting video



South Asia

Myanmar Rejects Jurisdiction of ICC For Rohingya Muslim

Afghan forces seize massive arsenal of ammunition of Taliban in Faryab

U.S. Ambassador reacts to Afghan government’s decision to reassess release of HQN


72 ISIS sympathizers surrender to Afghan forces in Nangarhar, claims local officials

Airstrike kills Taliban group commanders Mullah Ahmad and Qari Meraj in Faryab



Southeast Asia

Sultan Mosque to Offer Space With Bed, Pillows & Water For Homeless To Seek Shelter At Night

BN Used May 13 as Bogeyman, Now PH Using Najib

Family, tribes, Buddhists await pope in Thailand

Muslim Students in China Returned Home To Find Loved Ones Had Vanished Into Camps For Thinking ‘Unhealthy Thoughts’, Leaked Documents Reveal

Commotion in Dewan over racist accusation against DAP




Muslim Board Can't File Review Petition: Hindu Mahasabha Lawyer on Ayodhya Verdict

Protests in BHU against Hiring Of A Muslim Sanskrit Professor Speak Of Dismal Times

SC's Ayodhya verdict faulty but Muslims must move on: Yashwant Sinha

VHP says Muslims should accept Supreme Court’s verdict, cites Gandhi’s view on Somnath

Muslim judge who pronounced Ayodhya verdict to get 'Z' category security

30 Political Detainees in Srinagar Moved Amid Claims of Manhandling



North America

New York Times Deletes Islamic Jihad Terror Reference from Story

Denver mosque threat suspect believed armed with airsoft rifle bonds out of jail

Trinidad’s Islamic State Problem



Arab World

Princess Sora: Each Child Deserves A Chance To Be Successful

Al Moammar signs Islamic finance agreement with Bank Albilad

Islamic Chamber urges members to attend Doha Halal Forum & Expo

Rector of Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University Receives Chargé d'Affaires of Thailand Embassy

Saudi Aramco sets IPO share price between 30-32 riyals for ‘sale of the century’

Saudi student reflects on ‘Silk Road’ at China Youth Dialogue Forum

Pictures from the Prophet Walk from the Makkah Mosque




Lagos shuts churches, mosques, gives reason

Islamic group reacts as Lagos govt shuts churches, mosques




Pope to Visit Hiroshima on Anti-Nuclear Weapon Mission

Report: UK govt, military covered up war crimes in Afghanistan

Exeter Ask a Muslim event a success




PML-Q in Damage Control Mode after Pervaiz’s Assertions

Delhi manufacturing ‘facts’ about terrorism, Kashmir situation: FO

Nawaz LHC verdict: PM Imran directs legal team to prepare report

Police arrest suspects for robbing man inside mosque



154 U.N. nations call Temple Mount solely by Muslim name Haram al-Sharif

NOVEMBER 17, 2019

The UN gave its preliminary approval to a resolution that referred to the Temple Mount solely by its Muslim name of Haram al-Sharif.

The resolution passed at the UN’s Fourth Committee in New York 154-8, with 14 abstentions and 17 absences. It was one of eight pro-Palestinian resolutions approved on Friday, out of a slate of more than 15 such texts the committee is expected to approve. The UN General Assembly will take a final vote on the texts in December.

Ben Bourgel, the Israeli political coordinator at the UN mission in New York, pushed the committee on the issue of Jerusalem, asking why it was so difficult for UN member states to use the phrase Temple Mount.

“Is it acceptable in this committee’s view that in the resolutions presented it is inconceivable to add the phrase ‘Temple Mount?’” Bourgel asked.

His remarks referenced the resolution entitled, “Enforcing Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem.”

That text states that the UN is “gravely concerned by the tensions and violence in the recent period throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including east Jerusalem and including with regard to the holy places of Jerusalem, including the Haram al-Sharif.”

The resolution makes no mention of the Jewish name for the area, the Temple Mount, which is Judaism’s holiest site, and Islam’s third holiest site.

Israel in the last five years has fought a pitched and very public battle against such language at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) based in Paris. In the last two few years, what had been known as the Jerusalem resolution has been neutralized, in an effort to tone down politicization at UNESCO.

But scant attention has been paid to similarly worded texts in annual anti-Israel resolutions in New York. Unlike at UNESCO, the text did mention the connection between Jerusalem and the three monotheistic religions, but did not link that connection specifically to the Old City or to its Temple Mount.

The resolution reaffirmed “the special significance of the holy sites and the importance of the City of Jerusalem for the three monotheistic religions.”

The US and Israel voted against the resolution and the other seven, the only two countries to vote against all eight texts. They were joined in their opposition to the Jerusalem text by Australia, Canada, Guatemala, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Nauru.

All 28 European Union member states supported this resolution, along with six others. But a Finnish representative, who spoke to the Fourth Committee on behalf of the EU, said it disagreed with attempts by Arab states to solely reference the Temple Mount by its Muslim name of Haram al-Sharif.

New language linking Jerusalem with the three monotheistic religions is welcome, but the text had not gone far enough in underscoring that connection, the Finnish representative said.

“The EU understands the language on the holy sites of Jerusalem as reflecting the importance and historical significance of both the city of Jerusalem and the holy sites for three monotheistic religions,” the representative said. “The EU stresses the need for language on terminology that reflects respect for religious and cultural sensitivities. The future choice of language may affect the EU’s collective support for this resolution.”

Out of the eight approved resolutions, three involved the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees. This included a resolution to extended UNRWA’s mandate by three years.

A fourth resolution to ensure the protection of Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues within sovereign Israel passed 162-6, with nine abstentions. The text reaffirmed that “Palestine refugees are entitled to their property and to the income derived therefrom, in conformity with the principles of equity and justice.” The text also asked the UN to protect “Arab property, assets and property rights in Israel.”

A NUMBER of the resolutions took issue with past and future Israeli attempts to annex territory over the pre-1967 lines.

“The occupation of a territory is to be a temporary, de facto situation, whereby the occupying power can neither claim possession nor exert its sovereignty over the territory it occupies,” a resolution stated. That same resolution recalled “the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of land by force and therefore the illegality of the annexation of any part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” It also expressed “grave concern at recent statements calling for the annexation by Israel of areas in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

Some of the resolutions condemned Israeli actions in Gaza. In one instance, a line was added condemning Palestinian rocket attacks without pointing at either Hamas or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

A resolution on the Golan Heights took Israel to task for its annexation of that territory, which it captured from Syria after being attacked in the 1967 Six Day War.

“Reaffirming once more the illegality of the decision of 14 December 1981 taken by Israel to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan, which has resulted in the effective annexation of that territory,” it said. The resolution was approved 155-2, with 19 abstentions. Prior to the vote, Brazil explained its abstention, explaining that the text was unbalanced in that it only referred to Israel actions and did not also address Syrian violations.

Acting US Deputy Representative to the United Nations Cherith Norman Chalet told the Fourth Committee it opposed the “annual submission of more than a dozen resolutions biased against Israel. This one-sided approach only undermines trust between the parties, and fails to create the kind of positive international environment critical to achieving peace.

“We are disappointed that despite support for reform, member states continue to disproportionately single out Israel through these types of resolutions,” she said. “It is deplorable that the United Nations – an institution founded upon the idea that all nations should be treated equally – should be so often used by member states to treat one state in particular, Israel, unequally.

“As the United States has repeatedly made clear, this dynamic is unacceptable,” Chalet continued. “We see resolutions that are quick to condemn all manner of Israeli actions, but say nothing or almost nothing about terrorist attacks against innocent civilians. And so the United States will once again vote against these one-sided resolutions and encourages other nations to do so.”



The Quran’s teachings showing best way for Muslim unity: Expert

November 17, 2019

TEHRAN - Hossein Sheikholeslam, an expert on international affairs who served as deputy foreign minister and ambassador for years, has said that Muslims must act based on the teaching of the Quran to maintain unity.

“All the Muslims believe in the Quran and teachings of the Prophet which are best ways to maintain unity in the world of Islam,” ISNA quoted him as saying in an interview on Sunday.

He also noted that Iran is the axis of resistance against hegemony and arrogant powers.

Iran hosted the 33rd International Islamic Unity Conference on November 14-16. It took place on the birth anniversary of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). Over 350 elites and figures from 93 countries participated in the conference.

Ayatollah Mohsen Araki, secretary-general of the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought, along with 250 Sunni clerics from Iran attended the forum.

The conference was hosted by the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought.

Addressing the unity conference, President Hassan Rouhani highlighted the importance of following the Prophet to counter aggressions of the United States, the Zionist regime of Israel and regional reactionary countries against Muslims.

The Prophet brought a modern civilization for the world with his miracles of the Book, wisdom, ethics and politics, he said.

Rouhani also said Iran seeks “brotherhood” and “unity” in the region and vehemently dismissed claims by Israel and the U.S. that Tehran is seeking hegemony in the region,

“The main privilege for us is following the Prophet. We do not seek to conquer any land or be like an empire. What we want in the region is brotherhood and unity,” he told participants at the Islamic Unity Conference.



Australia suspends human rights partnership with China over mass detention of Muslims and banning of politicians critical of Beijing

18 November 2019

A human rights partnership with China has been suspended after two decades amid the detention of Uighurs and the barring of two Australian politicians.

The prime minister has labelled China's decision to ban two members of the Australian government from visiting the country 'very disappointing'.

Scott Morrison said it was up to Chinese authorities to explain the move and defended the right of Liberal colleagues Andrew Hastie and James Paterson to speak out about human rights.

A human rights partnership with China has been suspended after two decades amid the detention of Uighurs and the barring of two Australian politicians.

The prime minister has labelled China's decision to ban two members of the Australian government from visiting the country 'very disappointing'.

Scott Morrison said it was up to Chinese authorities to explain the move and defended the right of Liberal colleagues Andrew Hastie and James Paterson to speak out about human rights.

'They were denied visas, which I think was very disappointing,' Mr Morrison told Adelaide radio FiveAA on Monday.

'The response by Senator Paterson and Andrew Hastie I thought was spot on. I thought it was very measured, it was very strong, I thought it was very appropriate.

'It's for others to explain as to why they took the view that they did - the Chinese authorities. But we're an open democracy, we speak our minds as individuals and certainly James and Andrew have always been known for that, we'll always be who we are.'

The pair have been blocked from entering China until they 'repent' for criticising Beijing.

They have each spoken out against Chinese attempts to exert influence in Australia, the detention of Chinese-Australian writer Yang Hengjun, pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and the mass detention of Uighurs.

Neither man intends to scale back their criticism.

'I'm not really the repenting type - I'm agnostic - but even if I was I wouldn't be following the commands of foreign powers to repent on my political views,' Senator Paterson told ABC Radio.

'Even if I wanted to change my views and soften them, I feel like it's impossible for me to do so now that I've been issued such a demand from the Chinese embassy.'

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the visa ban was 'unfortunate'.

'We support freedom of expression here in Australia,' Mr Albanese told Sky News.

'There are genuine and legitimate concerns about human rights in China, particularly what we hear about the treatment of the Uighurs and the concerns about what is happening in Hong Kong.'

Meanwhile, Australia has quietly discontinued a human rights program in China after more than two decades.

'It wasn't getting the job done,' Mr Morrison said.

The prime minister said human rights concerns would be raised with China through a range of other channels.

Asked whether China respected Australia's democracy, Mr Morrison said: 'They respect our sovereignty, I mean, they have a different system to us.'

'We're not looking to adopt their system and they're not looking to adopt ours.'



War on terror killed over 801,000 people, cost $6.4 trillion: reports

November 18, 2019

WASHINGTON: : The so-called War on Terror launched by the US government in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001 attacks has cost at least 801,000 lives and $6.4 trillion according to a pair of reports published on Wednesday by the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

"The numbers continue to accelerate, not only because many wars continue to be waged, but also because wars don't end when soldiers come home," said Costs of War co-director and Brown professor Catherine Lutz, who co-authored the project's report on deaths.

"These reports provide a reminder that even if fewer soldiers are dying and the US is spending a little less on the immediate costs of war today, the financial impact is still as bad as, or worse than, it was 10 years ago," Lutz added.

"We will still be paying the bill for these wars on terror into the 22nd century." The new Human Cost of Post-9/11 Wars report (pdf) tallies "direct deaths" in major war zones, grouping people by civilians; humanitarian and NGO workers; journalists and media workers; US military members, Department of Defense civilians, and contractors; and members of national military and police forces as well as other allied troops and opposition fighters. The reportsorts direct deaths by six categories: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria/ISIS, Yemen, and "Other."

The civilian death toll across all regions is up to 335,745—or nearly 42% of the total figure. Notably, the report "does not include indirect deaths, namely those caused by loss of access to food, water, and/or infrastructure, war-related disease, etc."

Indirect deaths "are generally estimated to be four times higher," Costs of War board member and American University professor David Vine wrote in an op-ed for The Hill Wednesday. "This means that total deaths during the post-2001 US wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and Yemen are likely to reach 3.1 million or more — around 200 times the number of US dead."

"Don't we have a responsibility to wrestle with our individual and collective responsibility for the destruction our government has inflicted?" Vine asked in his op-ed. "Our tax dollars and implied consent have made these wars possible. While the United States is obviously not the only actor responsible for the damage done in the post-2001 wars, US leaders bear the bulk of responsibility for launching catastrophic wars that were never inevitable, that were wars of choice."

Referencing the project's second new report, United States Budgetary Costs and Obligations of Post-9/11 Wars Through FY2020: $6.4 Trillion (pdf), Vine wrote, "Consider how we could have otherwise spent that incomprehensible sum—to feed the hungry, improve schools, confront global warming, improve our transportation infrastructure, and provide healthcare."

"At a time when everyone from Donald Trump to Democratic Party candidates for president is calling for an end to these endless wars, we must push our government to use diplomacy—rather than rash withdrawals, as in northern Syria—to end these wars responsibly," he concluded.

"As the new Costs of War report and 3.1 million deaths should remind us, part of our responsibility must be to repair some of the immeasurable damage done and to ensure that wars like these never happen again."

The project's $6.4 trillion figure accounts for overseas contingency operations appropriations, interest for borrowing for OCO spending, war-related spending in the Pentagon's base budget, medical and disability care for post-9/11 veterans (including estimated future obligations through FY2059), and Department of Homeland Security spending for prevention of and response to terrorism.

Costs of War co-director and Boston University professor Neta Crawford co-authored the project's death toll report and authored the budget report. For the latter, she wrote that "the major trends in the budgetary costs of the post-9/11 wars include: less transparency in reporting costs among most major agencies; greater institutionalization of the costs of war in the DOD base budget, State Department, and DHS; and the growing budgetary burden of veterans' medical care and disability care."

Both reports were released as part of the project's new "20 Years of War" series. Crawford, Lutz, and fellow Costs of War co-director Stephanie Savell were in Washington, D.C. Wednesday to present the reports' findings at a briefing hosted by the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services.

"We have already seen that when we go to Washington and circulate our briefings, they get used in the policymaking process," Lutz said in a news story published by Brown Wednesday.

"People cite our data in speeches on the Senate floor, in proposals for legislation. The numbers have made their way into calls to put an end to the joint resolution to authorize the use of military force. They have real impact."

Lutz pointed out that "if you count all parts of the federal budget that are military-related—including the nuclear weapons budget, the budget for fuel for military vehicles and aircraft, funds for veteran care—it makes up two-thirds of the federal budget, and it's inching toward three-quarters."

"I don't think most people realize that, but it's important to know," she added. "Policymakers are concerned that the Pentagon's increased spending is crowding out other national purposes that aren't war."



Indonesia taps into Muslim tourist market with Shariah hotels

November 18, 2019

JAKARTA: With a rising awareness to promote Muslim-friendly travel, the widespread adoption of Shariah-based accommodation is not always successfully put into practice, as Octine Riyantini realized during one of her stays at a hotel that claimed to be Shariah-compliant.

Riyantini has stayed in two Shariah-based hotels in Indonesia and had a good experience with the first one, where she found that hotel staff always greeted guests with the Islamic greeting, had call of prayers blasted from a speaker and provided prayer amenities as well as a Qibla sign in each room.

“The ambiance was very much Islamic and the hotel itself was clean and well-maintained,” she told Arab News.

She had a different experience with the second one, despite the Shariah label that goes with the hotel’s name in an online hotel reservation website.

Although they provided a prayer room on each floor, Riyantini said it seemed like it was hastily prepared and a bit spooky, so she and her family chose to pray in their room. Moreover, the hotel was not properly maintained.

“Maybe they consider their hotel to be Shariah-compliant just because they provide a prayer room on each floor and a Qibla sign in the room, yet the overall ambiance hardly felt like it was Muslim-friendly,” she said.

“I learned that not all hotels that claimed to be Shariah-based are really compliant to the value. If we have to stay in such a hotel another time, we will have to consider which hotel chain it is associated with,” she said.

Muslim-friendly travel and tourism in Indonesia continues to rise, with Indonesia named as the number one destination, out of 130 countries, for halal tourism in the world by the Global Muslim Travel Index 2019.

Service providers have been quick to tap into the growing market, despite the controversy and misconceptions about halal tourism in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

According to a survey conducted by accommodation network operator Airy, 60 percent of Indonesian travelers think that it is important to have Shariah-based accommodation. The figure was consistent with data from the Alvara Research Center, which showed that 64 percent of Indonesian millennials travel and go on holiday at least once a year, providing a market of about 26 million holiday-hunting Muslim millennials.

Responding to the market demand, Airy in 2016 began offering a segment called Airy Syariah or a Shariah-based accommodation network.

“Our Airy Syariah properties offer Muslim-friendly accommodation so that guests can stay comfortably and worry-free. The market response has been good and demand for Shariah-based accommodation continues to rise every year. Our occupancy rate so far stands at 40 percent to 70 percent,” Airy vice president for marketing, Ika Paramita, told Arab News.

Paramita said Airy cooperates with more than 400 Muslim-friendly properties in some 50 cities across Indonesia and it has been growing at a triple-digit rate year-on-year.

“The food and drinks in our properties are halal-certified, and we provide Muslim-friendly amenities. Guests can immediately experience their stay in our Shariah-based properties, where hotel staff uniforms and attitudes conform to Islamic values. Moreover, we validate the marriage status when a couple is checking in,” Paramita said.

Shariah-compliant accommodation is not new in Indonesia. The Sofyan Hotel chain in Jakarta has implemented the concept in its two properties since 1992 by removing nightclubs, bars and alcoholic drinks from its facilities.

But the concept does not always appeal to all Muslims in Indonesia. University lecturer Ratna Djumala said she prefers to stay in a conventional hotel to show her children about meeting people of various backgrounds.

“I want to show my children about diversity and tolerance, especially this coming December when hotels are adorned with Christmas decorations. I want my kids to experience the ambiance, too. A family-friendly hotel doesn’t always have to be a Shariah-based one. What’s important for me is the food has to be halal,” she told Arab News.

Muslim-friendly travel was valued at $189 billion in 2018 and is estimated to reach $274 billion by 2024, according to the State of Global Islamic Economy Report 2019.



AIMPLB And Jamiat Ulama e Hind Set To File Review Plea Against SC Order, Rejects 5-Acre Plot

Written by Maulshree Seth, Abantika Ghosh

November 18, 2019

THE All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and Jamiat ulama i Hind announced on Sunday that they would file review petitions on the Supreme Court judgment in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, and would not accept the 5-acre plot awarded by a five-judge Bench in lieu of the disputed site.

After a meeting held in Lucknow, AIMPLB working committee member Kamal Farooqui said, “The board has decided that a review petition should be filed against the Supreme Court verdict.”

While Jamiat is a party in the dispute, the AIMPLB has played an organising role in the case. The AIMPLB working committee members said the petition would be filed within the 30-day deadline and reiterated that whatever “the final verdict” of the apex court, they would abide by it.

On Sunday evening, the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board told PTI it was not in favour of a review petition, as it had stated after the Supreme Court verdict came out. The Waqf Board was one of the main litigants in the case. Chairman Zufar Farooqui told PTI, “Before the judgment, the AIMPLB was repeatedly saying it will abide by any judgment of the Supreme Court. Then why is an appeal being made now?”

On the question of taking another plot of land in lieu of the disputed area, Farooqui said they would decide at a meeting on November 26.

Original petitioner Iqbal Ansari too has indicated he is reluctant to continue the legal battle.

In its November 9 judgment in the dispute, that goes back more than a century, the Supreme Court ordered handing over of the entire disputed 2.77 acres to the Hindu side, while holding that the placing of the idols at the site in 1949 was a “desecration”, terming its demolition in 1992 illegal and saying there was no evidence of the Babri Masjid having been built after demolishing a temple. The Muslim side was awarded a 5-acre plot within Ayodhya for the construction of a mosque.

AIMPLB secretary Zafaryab Jilani, who was the counsel for the Muslim side in both the High Court and the Supreme Court, said, “We have decided petitions will be filed by Maulana Mahfooz Rahmani and Muhammad Umar, also some defendants, such as the sons of Haji Arshad, Hizbullah. Jamiat too has decided to file a review plea… It seems likely at this point that these will be different petitions.”

The Jamiat said a panel under the chairmanship of president Maulana Arshad Madani had “gone deeply into the prospects of a review petition”. “The expert panel observed that the judgment was against the Babri Masjid and it was not a final judgment as the option of reviewing is available under the Constitution. The panel found that in its more than 1,000-page judgment, the five-member apex court Bench under the Chief Justice of India accepted that most of the evidence and arguments given were in favour of the Babri Masjid,” the Jamiat said, adding, “While the legal option is available, there is also Sharia obligation to defend the masjid till the last breath.”

The AIMPLB said it had taken into account the evidence presented by the Musim side and come to the conclusion that a review petition should be filed “because of the various apparent errors in (the Supreme Court order)”. “The petition will also deal with the fact that Muslims cannot accept any other land in lieu of the masjid land, and it is only justice that they be given the land that Babri Masjid stood on. Muslims did not go to the Supreme Court to take ownership of just any land… The restitution by granting 5 acres where fundamental values have been damaged to the extent of causing national shame will not in any manner heal the wounds… the effect of this direction would amount to shifting the mosque by judicial order without any provocation by the community, which always tried to protect this mosque.”

Saying Sharia law did not allow building the same mosque at any other site, it added, “Mosques are essential for the religious practice of Muslims.”

The AIMPLB added, “…Supreme Court, in this judgement itself, has observed that the protection granted therein (Places of Worship Act, 1991) is to ensure and protect fundamental values of the Constitution… and acceptance of equality of all religious faiths. The Muslim community contested this litigation to ensure and secure the said fundamental values.” Noting that “the State has no religion”, the board said the failure to protect the Babri Masjid “amounted to betrayal of the Muslim community at large”.

On the 5-acre land, Jilani said it was not about building a mosque, and that Ayodhya had at least 27 masjids already. “The 5-acre land… will neither balance equity nor repair the damage caused in the country,” the AIMPLB said.

The Jamiat statement underlined that some Supreme Court observations cleared several allegations regarding the Babri Masjid. “For example, the mosque was not built after demolishing a Ram temple. The ASI report also amply confirmed (this)… Furthermore, both the courts — the Supreme Court and Allahabad High Court (in 2010) — accept this bitter fact that idols were put inside the Babri Mosque illegally… Till then, five-time prayers were being offered in the mosque.”

“It is also perplexing that the bench did not accept deity Ram Lalla as the owner of the land but handed over the mosque to the Hindu parties,” the Jamiat statement said.

The venue for the AIMPLB meeting was earlier Nadwa in Lucknow, and it claimed the administration had forced it to change it to Mumtaj PG College at the last minute. The meeting was attended by AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi, an AIMPLB member, who was among the first to call for rejection of the 5 acres.



West Vancouver brothers hold forum to dispel myths about Islam

Nov 17, 2019

After enduring discriminatory comments about their religion in school, two West Vancouver brothers have done something to dispel what they call perceived stereotypes about Islam.

Kian Lalji, 17, a grade 12 student at Sentinel Secondary School, and his brother, Razaan, who is in grade 10, held an event on Sunday called "Understanding Islam in a world of Fake News and Stereotypes."

Kian said the genesis came from when he was in Grade 8 and another student asked him if he was a terrorist.

"At first I laughed it off ... but I realized later on that it wasn't actually a joke," he said. "People shouldn't be stereotyped especially at a young age."

That incident, along with the brothers' ongoing perception that too often Islam is negatively portrayed, prompted them to begin organizing the event. They wanted an environment where people from different backgrounds could talk with one another and ask questions.

"It's really unfortunate that the mentality that's out there ... if your skin is brown then you're more likely to be a terrorist," said Razaan Lalji. "This is a terrible thing and anything that we can do help lift this image ... is a good thing."

They recruited Ali Asani, a professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic religion and cultures at Havard Univeristy to speak at the event. His research focuses on Shia and Sufi devotional traditions in South Asia.

Asani, who has known Kian Lalji since he was a child because he was born in Boston, spoke at the event about the importance of accepting and trying to understand others, even if they are different.

"Because if you stigmatize one particular group on the basis of religion or race or ethnicity and so on, you're actually damaging the fabric of democracy," he said.

He says events like the one organized by the Lalji brothers help people be more mindful about peoples' differences, which he describes as a fundamental characteristic of being human.

Similar values

Kian Lalji also used the event to talk about similarities between different faith groups and societies.

"Islam holds similar values to Canadian values like generosity or understanding one another," he said.

Razaan said he was encouraged by the event, which was attended by about 150 people.

"I believe that through this event that we can take one step closer to having a true understanding and a full tolerance of every other faith and every other faith having a full tolerance and understanding of us."

B.C. Senator Mobina Jaffer, North Vancouver MP Jonathan Wilkinson, and West Vancouver school trustee Nicole Brown also spoke at the event.

The brothers hope that elements from it could eventually be included in school curriculums.



Saudi Arabia, China conduct drill to improve combat readiness

November 17, 2019

JEDDAH: The Royal Saudi Naval Forces, represented by the Special Forces of the Western Fleet, carried out the mixed naval exercise Blue Sword 2019 with its Chinese counterpart, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, in Jeddah on Sunday.

The exercise, which took place at King Faisal Naval Base, was attended by the commander of the Western Fleet, Vice Admiral Faleh bin Abdulrahman Al-Faleh, and the Chinese military attache to the Kingdom, Senior Col. Lin Li.

Navy Col. Abdullah Mohammed Al-Omari, director of the exercise, said that this joint exercise is within the framework of seeking to face all challenges, emphasize the many objectives aimed at achieving complete readiness, and maintain the security and peace of the region and the world.

“The exercise targets building mutual trust, enhancing cooperation between the Saudi Royal Navy and the Chinese PLA Navy, exchanging experiences, developing the capacity of participants to combat maritime terrorism and piracy, and improving training and combat readiness,” he added.

Lt. Col. Tarek bin Salem Al-Salem, adjutant of the exercise’s operations, presented a visual briefing on the activities, fields, title and phases of the exercise.

Al-Faleh then announced the launch of the joint naval exercise, Blue Sword 2019, which runs for three weeks.



Sultan of Sokoto Urges Muslims to Demand for their Rights within Ambits of Law

November 17, 2019

Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan

The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, Sunday enjoined Muslims in the country to always demand for their rights, whenever they are being denied within the ambit of the law.

The Sultan gave the charge while speaking at the 4th General Assembly of the Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN), with the theme: “Muslim Unity and Contemporary Political Challenges in Nigeria”, held at the University of Ibadan.

Muslim leaders present at the event included the Executive Secretary, MUSWEN, Prof. Daud Noibi; Chairman, Board of Trustees, MUSWEN Prince Bola Ajibola, whose speech was read by the Chairman, Muslim Community in Oyo State, Alhaji Kunle Sanni; a former Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu; a former INEC National Commissioner, Prof. Lai Olurode; former Director of Academic Planning at the University of Jos, Prof. Muslih Yahya; and Alhaji Femi Abass.

Others are the National Amir (President), Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN) Dr. Taofeeq Yekinni; a former Secretary to Oyo State Government, Alhaji Akin Olajide; a former Chief of Staff in Oyo State, Dr. Saka Balogun; Chief Imam, University of Ibadan, Prof. Abdulrahman Oloyede; and Chairman, Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN), Alhaji Abdulrahman Balogun, among others.

The Sultan, who doubles as the President General, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), while speaking on the recent Hijab crisis at the University of Ibadan International School, maintained that female Muslim students have the right under the constitution to use Hijab.

He however cautioned those advocating the use of Hijab and various organisations championing the welfare of Muslims in the country to demand for their rights within the ambit of the law, stating that Muslims should always seek redress in a peaceful manner instead of open confrontation.

According to him, “Muslims must be law abiding, the moment we are attacking each other, then there will be no peace. So we need peace. And we have been doing our own in silence. I urged all of you to be law abiding. The issue is at the court and since it is in the court, we can’t make further statement, so that we don’t commit contempt of the court.

“Demand for your rights within the ambit of the law. I urged all of you to be patient because Almighty Allah loved the patient ones. On the issue of Hijab at the university, there are some organizations that are advocating it, let them continue advocating, but at our own level we have been doing ours silently.

“In the constitution, we have freedom of religion. If my religion allows me to wear Hijab, nobody should stop me. So our politicians and leaders must know that. All these issues have been politicised.

“But, I want to assure you that people are free to do what their religion permits them to do. I want to thank the MUSWEN for inviting me here. And I want to charge MUSWEN that in 11 years what have you achieved in the area of education. Now, we have so many universities, how many of these are owned by Muslim organisations? Where are our Muslim brothers and sisters that Almighty Allah has blessed?”

Abubakar while speaking on the factors responsible for the array of social problems militating against the survival of Nigeria, identified unemployment, poverty and absence of small scale industries in the rural areas as some of the major problems in Nigeria.

“If people are engaged, they will be enjoying. We need employment opportunities for the youth. We need to create jobs. We need to establish more industries in the rural areas and villages. There are some people in the villages that need little capital. If is only our political leaders that will be thinking of mansions.

“Let us face our challenges as Muslims. I want you to do more. There are challenges. Do more. Our doors are opened. And don’t allow politicians to smear Islam. When we are not in unity, the politicians will be happy that we are not in unity,” he said.

The Chairman, MUSWEN Education Committee, Prof. Muibi Opeloye, while delivering a paper entitled, “Muslim Unity and Contemporary Political Challenges in Nigeria,” urged Muslims who are in the corridors of power not to mind their political differences but unite when issues of national importance are being discussed.

The Professor of Islamic Studies said: “Wealth should not be the criterion for eligibility for public office. Such factors such as qualities of head and heart, education, wisdom, mental and physical heath should be the criteria. In recognition of the Nigerian constitutional provisions, Shariah courts should be introduced in the South Western Nigeria to replace the Shariah panels functioning in the various states of the zone.

“The multi-party system that recognises 91 political parties is unwieldy. The number has to be drastically reduced. I consider seven to be manageable and it is so recommended. Muslims in the Parliament should regardless of their party affiliation always unite to support not only matters of Islamic concern, but also matters of national interest in furtherance of national development.”



Austrian city bans public funds for antisemitic BDS and political Islam


NOVEMBER 17, 2019 20:59

The central European city of Graz in Austria on Thursday outlawed public space and institutional support for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign as well as for political Islam.

According to the legislation reviewed by The Jerusalem Post, the city council of Granz announced that  “Municipal services are not allowed to support group events that pursue or promote the goals of the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) and political Islam.”

The law added that “Space and institutions that are under the city administration must not be made available to organizations that express themselves in antisemitic terms or question Israel's right to exist.”

The measure was passed with votes of a wide range of political parties, including the conservatives, the Greens and social democrats. The communist faction of the city council voted against the anti-BDS law.

The anti-BDS law in Graz is significant because the city is the second largest municipality after Vienna.  Graz is the capital city of the state of Styria, with a population of nearly 300,00. Elie Rosen, the head of the Jewish community in Graz, welcomed the city council action to ban BDS. Graz’s mayor Siegfried Nagl supported the anti-BDS measure.

The law said the city of Graz “condemns every form of antisemitism and anti-Zionism.”  The capital of Austria, Vienna, passed an anti-BDS resolution, which unanimously proscribed the organization as antisemitic and banned support for “events that advertise for BDS.”

In September, the Post reported leading Austrian lawmakers have vowed they will declare the BDS campaign targeting Israel as antisemitic during the next legislative session. Austria has not yet formed a new government.

“We hope that words will be followed by deeds and that... there will soon be a parliamentary resolution,” wrote the organization Jewish-Austrian Students, which hosted the politicians at its event in Vienna earlier this month.

In response to a question at the event from college student Noah Scheer, who asked if the Austrian parliament will replicate the May decision of the German Bundestag to classify BDS as antisemitic, the MPs pledged to do so.

Sibylle Hamann from the Green Party compared BDS to the Nazi-era “Don’t buy from Jews” campaign. She said the Nazi slogan “resonates” with the BDS campaign.





Islamic Unity Conference: Palestinian cause is the Islamic nation’s central issue

17 November، 2019

Tehran, SANA_ Participants in the 33rd Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran have affirmed that the Palestinian cause is the Islamic nation’s core issue, noting the failure of all attempts to separate the Islamic world from this cause.

In their final statement at the conclusion of the conference on Saturday, the participants said that the Zionist entity poses a threat not only to Palestine but to all Islamic countries.

They called for uniting Islamic countries’ efforts in support for resistance against the Zionist-American aggression on nation a whole.

Resistance to liberate Palestine is not separate from resistance to liberate other Arab territories occupied by the Zionist entity including the occupied Syrian Golan and Sheb’a Farms in Lebanon, the statement said.

It condemned all forms of normalization with the Zionist entity, calling on freedom-loving peoples to adopt a decisive stance on normalization and on disinformation attempts.

The statement also condemned Israel’s incessant aggression on the Palestinian people and lashed out at the assassination of Bahaa Abu Ata, a leader in the Palestinian “al-Quds Brigades” faction, and the assassination attempt of Akram al-Ajouri, a leader in the Palestinian “al-Jihad” movement.

It reiterated the Palestinian people’s right to resist aggression and fight to liberate their land and called for lifting the unjust siege imposed on Gaza.

The statement urged the Islamic states to support the Palestinian marches of return until the entire Palestinian territories are liberated, regretting the inability of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to adopt a firmer stance to put an end to the Israeli repeated aggressions on Islamic states like Palestine, Syria and Yemen.

The participants of the 33rd Islamic Unity Conference stressed their rejection of the US economic terrorism imposed on Iran and condemned Washington’s support for terrorism.



Iran’s Quds Force and the Muslim Brotherhood Considered an Alliance Against Saudi Arabia

James Risen

November 18 2019

THEY WERE HARDLY kindred spirits. In fact, they stood on opposite sides of one of the world’s fiercest geopolitical divides. Yet in a secret effort at detente, two of the most formidable organizations in the Middle East held a previously undisclosed summit at a Turkish hotel to seek common ground at a time of sectarian war.

The 2014 summit brought together the foreign military arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, known as the Quds Force, and the Muslim Brotherhood, a sprawling Islamist political movement with significant influence throughout the region.

The Quds Force represents the world’s most powerful Shia-dominated nation, while the Muslim Brotherhood is a stateless but influential political and religious force in the Sunni Muslim world. The Trump administration designated the Revolutionary Guards a foreign terrorist organization in April, and the White House has reportedly been lobbying to add the Muslim Brotherhood to the list as well.

The disclosure that two such polarizing organizations on either side of the Sunni-Shia divide held a summit is included in a leaked archive of secret Iranian intelligence reports obtained by The Intercept.

There were public meetings and contacts between Iranian and Egyptian officials while Muslim Brotherhood-backed Mohamed Morsi was president of Egypt from 2012 to 2013. But Morsi was forced from power in a coup supported by the Egyptian Army in July 2013 and later arrested. The regime of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi launched a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, and many of its leaders have since been imprisoned in Egypt or are living in exile.

An Iranian intelligence cable about the 2014 meeting provides an intriguing glimpse at a secret effort by the Muslim Brotherhood and Iranian officials to maintain contact — and determine whether they could still work together — after Morsi was removed from power.

The cable about the summit, from the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security, or MOIS, reveals the fraught political dynamics that separate powerful Sunni and Shia organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood and the Quds Force. Above all, the cable and the story of the summit expose the maddening complexities of the political landscape in the Middle East and show how difficult it is for outsiders, including U.S. officials, to understand what’s really going on in the region.

On the surface, the Quds Force and the Muslim Brotherhood would appear to be archenemies. The Quds Force has used its covert power to help Iran expand its influence throughout the Middle East, backing Shia militias that have committed atrocities against Sunnis in Iraq, while siding with the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war. The Muslim Brotherhood, by contrast, has been a key player in Sunni Arab politics for decades, bringing a fundamentalist Islamist approach to a long battle against autocratic governments in Egypt and elsewhere. Along the way, extremists have left the Muslim Brotherhood to form splinter groups, like Hamas, that have sometimes veered into terrorism.

But the summit came at a critical moment for both the Quds Force and the Muslim Brotherhood, which may explain why the two sides agreed to talk. When the meeting was held in April 2014, the Islamic State was tearing across the Sunni-dominated regions of northern Iraq. The Iraqi Army was melting away in the face of the terrorist group’s brutal tactics, and ISIS was threatening the stability of the Iraqi government in Baghdad.

The threat of ISIS prompted the Quds Force to intervene on behalf of the Shia-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq. The Quds Force began leading Shia militias into battle against ISIS, but Maliki was widely seen as an Iranian puppet and had stoked deep anger and resentment among Iraqi Sunnis. He would soon be pushed aside.

At the same time, the dream of the Arab Spring had turned into a nightmare. War was raging in Syria while in Egypt, the ouster of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government had led to a new dictatorship under Sisi. Morsi died in an Egyptian courtroom in June after nearly six years in solitary confinement.

Weakened by its losses in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood probably viewed an alliance with the Iranians as an opportunity to regain some of its regional prominence.

WHAT NEITHER SIDE knew was that there was a spy in the summit. Iran’s MOIS, a rival of the Revolutionary Guards within the Iranian national security apparatus, secretly had an agent in the meeting who reported everything that was discussed. The MOIS agent not only attended but “acted as coordinator of this meeting,” according to the MOIS cable. The MOIS envied the Revolutionary Guards’ power and influence and secretly tried to keep track of the Guards’ activities around the world, the leaked archive shows.

Turkey was considered a safe location for the summit, since it was one of the few countries on good terms with both Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. Yet the Turkish government still had to worry about appearances, so it refused to grant a visa to the highly visible chief of the Quds Force, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, according to the MOIS cable. With Suleimani unable to enter Turkey, a delegation of other senior Quds Force officials — led by one of Suleimani’s deputies, a man identified in the cable as Abu Hussain — attended the meeting in his place.

The Muslim Brotherhood was represented by three of its most prominent Egyptian leaders in exile: Ibrahim Munir Mustafa, Mahmoud El-Abiary, and Youssef Moustafa Nada, according to the document. (After 9/11, the George W. Bush administration and the United Nations suspected that Nada had helped finance Al Qaeda; his bank accounts were frozen and his movement restricted. In 2009, the U.N. sanctions against him were lifted because no proof of his alleged ties to terrorism could be found.)

In a recent interview, Nada told The Intercept: “I never attended such a meeting anywhere. I never heard about such a meeting anywhere.” Mustafa and El-Abiary could not be reached for comment.

The Muslim Brotherhood delegation opened the meeting with a boast, pointing out that the outfit “has organizations in 85 countries in the world.” Perhaps that was an effort to counter the Iranian government’s support for the Quds Force, since the Muslim Brotherhood had no similar national power backing it up.

“Differences between Iran as a symbol and representative of the Shia world and the Muslim Brotherhood as a representative of the Sunni world are indisputable,” the Brotherhood members noted, according to the MOIS cable. But they emphasized that there “should be a focus on joint grounds for cooperation.” One of the most important things the groups shared, the Brotherhood representatives said, was a hatred for Saudi Arabia, “the common enemy” of the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran.

Perhaps, the Brotherhood delegation said, the two sides could join forces against the Saudis. The best place to do that was in Yemen, where an insurgency by the Iranian-backed Houthis against the Saudi-backed Yemeni government was about to escalate into full-scale war.

“In Yemen, with the influence of Iran on Houthis and the influence of the Brotherhood on the armed tribal Sunni factions, there should be a joint effort to decrease the conflict between Houthis and Sunni tribes to be able to use their strength against Saudi Arabia,” the Brotherhood delegation argued.

Meanwhile, the Brotherhood wanted peace in Iraq, the delegation said. If there was one place in the region where help bridging the Sunni-Shia divide was needed, it was there, and maybe the Brotherhood and the Quds Force could cooperate to stop the war.

“On Iraq, it is good to lessen the tension between Shia and Sunni and give Sunnis a chance to participate in the Iraqi government as well,” the delegation said, according to the MOIS cable.

While denying any knowledge of the 2014 meeting, Nada said that the Muslim Brotherhood does want to reduce tensions between Sunni and Shia Muslims, as was suggested by the cable. “As far as I know, [the Muslim Brotherhood] are interested to defuse, not only reduce, any conflict between Sunni and Shia,” Nada said.

But the Brotherhood also recognized that there were limits to regional cooperation with the Quds Force. Syria, for example, was such a complicated mess that the Brotherhood simply threw up its hands. “Of course, the issue of Syria currently is out of the hands of Iran and the Brotherhood, and there is nothing particular to be done about it,” the cable noted.

And while the Muslim Brotherhood had been pushed out of power the year before the summit by the Egyptian Army, the group didn’t want Iranian support in Egypt. “On the issue of Egypt, we as Brotherhood are not prepared to accept any help from Iran to act against the government of Egypt,” the delegation said. The Brotherhood leaders probably recognized that they would be discredited in Egypt if they sought Iranian aid to regain power in Cairo.

Despite their apparent eagerness to forge an alliance, the Brotherhood leaders still managed to insult the Quds Force officials, according to the MOIS cable. During the meeting, the delegation emphasized that the Brotherhood was committed to a “reformist and peaceful approach” to change in the Middle East. The observation seemed to imply that the Quds Force was not. The delegation then quickly added that members of the Brotherhood have “trained ourselves to be more patient than Iranians.”

THE BROTHERHOOD HAS indeed historically been averse to violence, in contrast to the Quds Force, which is part of a military organization. Some experts have objected to the Trump administration’s desire to designate the Brotherhood a terrorist organization, arguing that it does not engage in terrorist activities.

“The fact that the Trump administration has not [designated the Muslim Brotherhood] suggests that maybe rationality won the day,” observed Ned Price, a former CIA official. “To say you are going to designate the Muslim Brotherhood misrepresents what the Muslim Brotherhood is today, and it risks partnerships we have in countries where the Muslim Brotherhood does have influence.”

In one of his last columns in the Washington Post before he was murdered, Saudi journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi criticized the Trump administration for targeting the Muslim Brotherhood and for failing to understand that it played an essential democratic role in the Middle East. “The United States’ aversion to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is more apparent in the current Trump administration, is the root of a predicament across the entire Arab world,” Khashoggi wrote in August 2018, just two months before his death at the hands of a hit team in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. “The eradication of the Muslim Brotherhood is nothing less than an abolition of democracy and a guarantee that Arabs will continue living under authoritarian and corrupt regimes.”

Maybe the Muslim Brotherhood leaders decided to be candid with their Iranian counterparts during the summit because they could already sense that the Quds Force representatives were not really interested in forming an alliance. That is certainly how the meeting played out. In fact, it soon became clear that the two sides were talking past each other.

“Friends of the Quds Force who were present in this meeting disagreed that there should be an alliance of Shia and Sunni,” according to the MOIS report on the meeting. At the same time, somewhat mysteriously, the Quds Force representatives insisted that they “never had any differences with the Brotherhood.”

The Brotherhood representatives were clearly irked by that unrealistic statement. “This view was not accepted by the Brotherhood delegation,” the cable noted.

Despite the apparent failure of the talks, the MOIS agent spying on the summit noted that he was willing to “travel again to Turkey or Beirut to be present” in any follow-up meetings. It is not clear from the leaked archive whether further meetings of this kind occurred.



Joint List says Netanyahu inciting death threats against party leaders

17 November 2019

Israel’s top Arab lawmaker, Joint List leader Ayman Odeh, has asked the Knesset Guard for extra security after a photo of him in the uniform of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group was circulated online.

The party, an alliance of four mostly Arab factions, accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of incitement that had caused death threats to one of its members, likely referring to those posts.

In the letter, sent on Friday, Odeh complained about a fringe far-right Twitter page called “Hadashot Emet” (“True News”) which on Thursday posted a photoshopped image of him in a Quds Force — the armed wing of Islamic Jihad — uniform accompanying a tweet slamming the Blue and White party for considering a minority government backed by the Joint List.

“The left still doesn’t understand the danger of Hamas and Islamic Jihad supporters in the Israeli Knesset and want a narrow government with them,” the post said.

The page has since re-posted the photo, alongside a similarly altered image of fellow Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi, attacking both Blue and White and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman.

The posts “are aimed at presenting [Odeh] as someone who is part of the ranks of public enemies and thus inciting physical violence against him,” Odeh wrote in his letter to Knesset security, interim police chief Motti Cohen, and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan.

“History has taught us that such images have the power to lead to political murder,” he added, likely referring to photos of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, photos of whom in Nazi SS uniform were distributed in the lead-up to his 1995 assassination by a Jewish extremist.

“Therefore, I demand that the issue not be taken lightly, be thoroughly investigated, with the culprits located and strict action taken against them,” he said. “Additionally, I ask to weigh the necessary steps to be taken under these circumstances to protect MK Odeh,” he continued.

He did not refer to the threats against Tibi.

In a statement Sunday, the Joint List assailed Netanyahu, who in recent days stepped up his warnings of a “dangerous” and “insane” minority government supported by Odeh’s Joint List.

Netanyahu is slated to lead an “emergency” Likud rally Sunday evening which is bill as aimed at stopping a “dangerous” minority government backed by the Joint List.

“Over the last days, Netanyahu has crossed every red line in his dangerous and wild incitement against us,” the Joint List statement said. “He is peddling lies and claiming our lawmakers support terror. The Arab population and its representatives are legitimate like any other population.”

“We ask President Reuven Rivlin and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to take a stand against the incitement, which has led to dozens of death threats against our member.”



Islamic Jihad Reminds Gazans That Hamas Disappoints and Israel Aims to Cut Them Off

Amira Hass

Nov 16, 2019

Of all my acquaintances from the Gaza Strip, Sameh is the last one I would have expected to understand Islamic Jihad. He’s one of the very few lucky ones that Israel lets leave the small coastal enclave; he travels between it and the West Bank, basically living in two places.

He was bor in a refugee camp to a family that supports Fatah, has advanced degrees, and has reached a level of economic security that allows him to help his brothers. I wouldn’t have expected him to be the one to explain to me that despite the fears about a new war, Islamic Jihad’s rockets express the enormous fury of every Palestinian in Gaza. Including his.

When the subject is so explosive like another military operation, and Israeli journalists are banned from entering Gaza, it’s hard to know if the people on the other side of the phone will feel safe to say everything they think. So I took advantage of the opportunity when Sameh (a pseudonym) was in Ramallah and asked him to explain to me the logic behind Islamic Jihad’s policy.

“I don’t believe the talk that Islamic Jihad is just carrying out orders from Iran,” Sameh said. “It’s an organization that says in the name of everyone: Look what you’ve done to the Palestinians. You haven’t allowed a compromise on two states. You’ve fragmented the West Bank. You cut off the Strip back at the beginning of the ‘90s and now with the blockade you’ve made it deteriorate to the bottom, a deterioration that’s hard to describe in words. A decline that pains us all. You’ve turned the Palestinian Authority into a subcontractor for the occupation.

“Now you demand that Hamas achieve calm in return for a few donations, a few crumbs of aid from Qatar and a few more hours of electricity. Every day Hamas checks: ‘Has [Qatari envoy Mohammed] al-Emadi arrived or not? With suitcases filled with money or without?’ Is this the essence of the Palestinian experience?

“Hamas and Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, have a joint objective: For Hamas to control the Strip. Hamas can’t rule the West Bank and can’t change its principles and officially recognize Israel. But it wants to continue to rule in Gaza, and Israel lets it. In return: a cutting off of the Strip from the West Bank.”

I interrupted Sameh and told him that Giora Eiland, the head of the National Security Council at the time of the 2005 Gaza pullout, told Kan public radio Wednesday that Gaza has become a state in every way under Hamas.

Sameh said: “Of course, that’s what Israel wanted from the beginning and did everything it could so that this would happen, long before the disengagement and Hamas’ victory in the 2006 election: to separate Gaza from the West Bank. But what nonsense: Gaza isn’t a state and can’t be a state.

“We in Gaza, it’s not just that we’re a part of the entire Palestinian people. In our makeup – 70 to 80 percent refugees – we’re the core of the Palestinian national cause. We represent the entire people. A people whose homeland has been stolen.

“At the end of the ‘80s and the beginning of the ‘90s, when we believed that there were Israelis who wanted peace, who recognized us as a people with a history and that this is their homeland, when we believed that there was a chance for an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with freedom to develop our lives, we were ready to compromise. We didn’t give up on our link and attachment to the villages and cities in Palestine, but we agreed to live in a country alongside Israel.

“I’m one of those people, the generation of the first intifada, the generation that had Yasser Arafat. And what happened? Everything is upside down. So now if Israel calls the West Bank Judea and Samaria, we’ll return and talk about Haifa and Yaffa [Jaffa]. My children and their friends do not believe in two states. They talk about equality and civil rights in the entire land. Not to be prisoners in their own home.

“Islamic Jihad, in its refusal and rockets, reminds us that for every compromise we agreed to, the Israelis responded with another demand for another compromise, and they took over more land, another humiliation, the fragmenting of the West Bank, more restrictions on movement and more economic, health, environmental and social deterioration. ‘How do all these compromises help us?’ Islamic Jihad says. And we have to agree with it.

“Islamic Jihad reached the conclusion that all the efforts for calm that Israel makes with Hamas are to remove the Gaza Strip from the Palestinian whole. And we see that even with the calm, the situation doesn’t improve, we see that all the understandings are a lie and they even ask us to stay silent. What do they expect from us as Palestinians? That we agree that Hamas will become a docile authority like Fatah in the West Bank?

“Islamic Jihad’s message is that they won’t let it happen. So even people like me, who don’t believe in arms, who understand that the rockets are aimed at civilians and this is against international law, can understand Islamic Jihad’s logic.

“We are all living the humiliation of the economic decline. And the health implications of it. UNRWA provides a few basic food essentials. More than a million people receive aid from UNWRA. But most of the children suffer from anemia and problems with sight. Everything is because of the inadequate nutrition. Every day we hear about someone who has become sick with cancer, about a new disease that we have never heard about. We hear about people who’ve become mentally ill, a big rise in divorce rates, 30 percent of young couples getting divorced.

“People went back to cooking and baking on a fire because they couldn’t pay for gas. They wait a full year to eat meat, on Eid al-Adha. Never in the past did I see people picking through garbage to find food as I see today.”

ere, Sameh’s voice cracked in fury. “Even when 3 kilograms [6.6 pounds] of sardines cost 10 shekels ($2.90) and a crate of tomatoes 15 kilograms, something like that. You know what chicken legs are? Now it’s the hottest thing. You put them in water and make soup from it. It’s what people can let themselves buy.

“I have friends who are businessmen, respectable, who are sitting in prison. They weren’t able to pay off checks and owe a million shekels, 2 million. Because it’s impossible to do business without freedom of movement. All the money donated to Gaza won’t help if the gates don’t open for people, raw materials and goods. There won’t be more jobs without a connection between the Strip and the West Bank, and freedom of movement between them and abroad.

Wasted creativity

Like other Gazans, Sameh is proud of the people’s creativity and the high quality of local products such as clothes and furniture, “higher than in the West Bank.” But as he put it, “the little that Israel allows out of Gaza, its price in the West Bank doubles or profits disappear because of transportation issues: moving from truck to truck and long waiting times at checkpoints. Products such as strawberries are damaged, too. I have acquaintances who haven’t closed their businesses only so they can pay their workers. And how much do the workers get? Six-hundred shekels a month, and that’s good.

“Hamas takes care of Hamas. Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] doesn’t even take care of his people, cutting more and more out of the salaries of PA employees like my brothers. UNWRA helps the needy and no one thinks about the private sector.

Most worrying is the situation of the young people, says the father of four. “Sixty percent of the residents of the Strip are younger than 30. Unemployment among them is 70 percent. What’s their future? The number applying to universities is falling. Young people who did well in their matriculation exams don’t apply because they can’t pay tuition and the cost of transportation, and in any case they have no chance of finding work. Most of the applicants are close to Hamas and know they can find work.

“The strategic diplomatic channel has failed. The unarmed demonstrations along the fence have become routine. It hasn’t moved anything. On every street you’ll only find young men limping on crutches, missing limbs after the soldiers shot them. They develop infections and can’t find the medication they need inside the Strip, and don’t receive a permit to leave for treatment outside. So if in Gaza – where Hamas has stopped talking the way it once talked – this is the situation, what more do you expect from us, the Palestinians?

“People in Gaza have lost faith in everything. They feel abandoned. Because of the Israeli blockade, some people are making a business out of travel. They collect enormous sums at the Rafah crossing, collect enormous amounts from those going to Turkey. And those who reach there earn 20 shekels a day. It would have been better to stay here. But we traded the right to return for the right to emigrate. Or the right to die at sea.

“People are afraid of war. Obviously. But they think – if so, then die at once, not slowly, gradually, not die every day when we’re still alive. Islamic Jihad’s weapons sustain the fact that we’re under occupation. Islamic Jihad expresses what people think: Hamas is a great disappointment, too.

“But the problem is in the thinking of the Israelis. They don’t recognize us as a people. They aren’t willing for us to be free. They only want us to sit quietly, docile. The explosion in the West Bank is near. How much time can people here suffer the attacks by the settlers and the army that no one protects them from, and at the same time see the Palestinian Authority’s security forces maintaining the security coordination with the army and the Shin Bet [security service]?

“People still believe that the world will intervene and prevent Israel from destroying everything. Once they wake up and realize that this too is an illusion, everything will blow up. As Palestinians, we aren’t willing to reach a situation in which one side is the winner and the other the loser. Either both sides will win or both of us will lose.”



While U.S.-Led Forces Dropped Bombs, Iran Waged Its Own Covert Campaign Against the Islamic State

Murtaza Hussain

November 18 2019

IN THE SUMMER OF 2014, with a campaign of shocking violence, the Islamic State established itself as the most fearsome terrorist organization in the Middle East.

In early June, the extremist group stunned the world by taking control of the Iraqi city of Mosul, home to more than 1.2 million people. Days later, ISIS fighters broadcast scenes from a gruesome massacre of more than 1,500 Iraqi army cadets at a former U.S. military base near Tikrit. By the end of the month, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had declared himself head of a new proto-state, the “caliphate,” as his fighters continued their genocidal rampage across northern Iraq, killing and enslaving members of the Yazidi minority and seizing Western hostages, among them an American journalist named James Foley.

As the international community groped for a response, ISIS fighters reached the borders of Iraqi Kurdistan, within striking distance of the glass high-rises of the bustling Kurdish capital, Erbil. It was there, from a dusty, remote Kurdish military base nicknamed “Black Tiger” outside the town of Makhmour, that ISIS was finally confronted by Kurdish Peshmerga in a battle that began to turn the tide against the extremists.

“Makhmour was the first place that we took territory from ISIS,” Staff Col. Srud Salih, the Kurdish commander of the Black Tiger base, told The Intercept this summer. “The victories of the Peshmerga began from here.”

The battle of Makhmour represented another important milestone in the war against ISIS: It was the place where two foreign military interventions began. One was directed by the U.S.-led international coalition, which provided air support and later, heavy weaponry. The other, in the form of ammunition, training, and intelligence support, came from Iran. Over the course of a few short days that August, coalition airstrikes hit ISIS positions in the parched desert hills near Makhmour, leveling the playing field between the heavily armed extremists and the Kurdish fighters.

IN THE SUMMER OF 2014, with a campaign of shocking violence, the Islamic State established itself as the most fearsome terrorist organization in the Middle East.

In early June, the extremist group stunned the world by taking control of the Iraqi city of Mosul, home to more than 1.2 million people. Days later, ISIS fighters broadcast scenes from a gruesome massacre of more than 1,500 Iraqi army cadets at a former U.S. military base near Tikrit. By the end of the month, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had declared himself head of a new proto-state, the “caliphate,” as his fighters continued their genocidal rampage across northern Iraq, killing and enslaving members of the Yazidi minority and seizing Western hostages, among them an American journalist named James Foley.

As the international community groped for a response, ISIS fighters reached the borders of Iraqi Kurdistan, within striking distance of the glass high-rises of the bustling Kurdish capital, Erbil. It was there, from a dusty, remote Kurdish military base nicknamed “Black Tiger” outside the town of Makhmour, that ISIS was finally confronted by Kurdish Peshmerga in a battle that began to turn the tide against the extremists.

“Makhmour was the first place that we took territory from ISIS,” Staff Col. Srud Salih, the Kurdish commander of the Black Tiger base, told The Intercept this summer. “The victories of the Peshmerga began from here.”

The battle of Makhmour represented another important milestone in the war against ISIS: It was the place where two foreign military interventions began. One was directed by the U.S.-led international coalition, which provided air support and later, heavy weaponry. The other, in the form of ammunition, training, and intelligence support, came from Iran. Over the course of a few short days that August, coalition airstrikes hit ISIS positions in the parched desert hills near Makhmour, leveling the playing field between the heavily armed extremists and the Kurdish fighters.

Since the election of Donald Trump, the United States and Iran have grown increasingly fractious, exchanging provocations that have fueled fears of war. But in the early days of the fight against ISIS under President Barack Obama, these longtime rivals were focused on a common goal: halting the Islamic State’s advance and destroying its so-called caliphate.

While the broad outlines of the conventional war against ISIS have long been known, the details of Iran’s covert war against the militants have not. A portrait of this secret war emerges from a trove of Iranian intelligence reports provided to The Intercept by an anonymous source. The reports come from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security, or MOIS, the country’s primary intelligence agency.

ALONGSIDE THE U.S.-led military campaign against the Islamic State, Iran’s MOIS was waging a parallel, clandestine campaign, spying on ISIS gatherings, providing covert aid to its enemies, and working to break its alliances with other insurgent factions, according to the leaked documents.

In many ways, the Iranian intelligence campaign against ISIS mirrored the U.S. strategy for dealing with Iraq. In addition to an overt military confrontation with the group and support for Shia militias and the Iraqi Army, the Iranians also worked to cultivate Sunni and Kurdish partners whom they perceived as moderate — or at least willing to work with them. From the outset, the MOIS kept its eyes on the day the war would end, when local partners from all sides would be needed to patch together a functional Iraq.

To an extent, the agency played a good-cop role in contrast to the more brutal measures employed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which reports directly to Iran’s supreme leader. While the MOIS has been pragmatic, subtle, and willing to look past sectarianism, the Revolutionary Guards, through its Iraqi proxies, has been blamed for carrying out waves of extrajudicial killings and ethnic cleansing. In some cases, it has been accused of treating entire Sunni communities as enemies, trapping them in an impossible choice between religious extremists and a hostile Iraqi government.

This sectarian conflict came to a head during the brutal violence of the ISIS war. But for those Sunnis — whether militants or politicians — willing to accept a place in an Iranian-dominated Iraq, the MOIS showed itself ready to help.

According to the leaked Iranian intelligence documents, there was also frustration on the Iranian side about the lack of direct U.S. cooperation with Tehran in the anti-ISIS war effort. The Iranians noted with approval the impact of U.S. airstrikes against ISIS but wanted to coordinate more closely.

“The Americans’ insistence on not cooperating with Iran in the war against ISIS and not participating in the meetings of the 10 countries of the region — the Arabs and Turkey — as well as the Western and Arab countries’ extreme positions on the presence and role of Iran in Iraq has had a negative influence,” one secret report noted.

Although the Iranian contribution was ultimately more modest than that of the Americans, Iran was nimbler in backing the Iraqi Kurds. “Iran’s security institutions are often able to make decisions and act more quickly in an emergency than their U.S. counterparts, who have to navigate a web of bureaucracy,” a Kurdish analyst who was present during the battle, and asked for anonymity to discuss issues related to Iran, told The Intercept. “When ISIS attacked Makhmour, the Iranian help came first. It took a day or two after the battle began for the Americans to join in with air support.”

The punishing American airstrikes made a vital difference in Makhmour, where the Kurdish Peshmerga ultimately triumphed over ISIS and drove it out of the area. But in the weeks and months before the battle, some of the Peshmerga who fought in Makhmour had received assistance from Iranian advisers connected with the MOIS.

IN ITS PROPAGANDA VIDEOS and statements, ISIS liked to project an image of complete ideological discipline and authoritarian control. But from early on, the organization appears to have been penetrated by both Iranian and Kurdish intelligence.

On the evening of September 18, 2014, a case officer from the MOIS left his base and headed to the home of an asset living in Erbil. At the time, ISIS was still near the height of its power, and the city was teeming with foreign military and intelligence officials helping coordinate the war effort against the militants. The MOIS officer took precautions to avoid surveillance as he made his way to the meeting. “I left the base by foot an hour before holding the meeting and after twenty minutes walking on foot and carrying out the necessary checks, took two taxis through the neighboring streets to the site of the meeting,” he wrote in his report.

The Iranian spy had two goals that night: to learn as much as possible about how Iraq’s Sunni leaders viewed the ISIS threat and to create a “detailed and precise biography of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi through his classmates and people who had been imprisoned with him.” The meeting was one of many being conducted by MOIS officers trying to develop an operational picture of ISIS. In a December 2014 rendezvous with a source in the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah, another MOIS officer received a flash drive containing information about ISIS, according to one of the reports. The officer instructed the source, who is only identified as a senior deputy official in Iraqi intelligence, to send the Iranians daily reports on ISIS activities.

The MOIS’s intelligence sources about ISIS were not limited to outsiders; they had penetrated the group’s leadership as well. A report provided to the MOIS by a source in Mosul contains an account of internal deliberations from a December 2014 meeting of senior ISIS leaders, including Baghdadi. At the time, ISIS was bracing for an attack from the Iraqi Army, Shia militia groups, and the Kurdish Peshmerga on the group’s territories in Nineveh Province. The attack was planned for the early months of 2015, and ISIS leaders feared that it would be heavily backed by both the U.S.-led coalition and Iran.

The prospect of facing so many adversaries at once bred justified paranoia inside the militant group. It also raised fears that ISIS leaders with past ties to the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussain might feed intelligence to the group’s enemies, or even defect. “Some ISIS amirs who have a Baathist record have established relations with the Kurdish Democratic Party to flee to the Kurdish region and not fall into the hands of the Shia Iraqi army,” the MOIS source said, according to the intelligence report, which cites a meeting of the “Central Council of the Caliphate presided over by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”

In at least one case, the militant group’s fears had already come to fruition. ISIS commanders in two districts north of Mosul had made contact with American and Kurdish forces, given them GPS coordinates of ISIS positions, and revealed the group’s attack plans, according to the MOIS report.

In response, ISIS had cut “all telephone and internet connections” for commanders in those areas, and the group wanted to further limit the communications of other front-line commanders. One of the districts named in the MOIS document, Zumar, was the site of heavy coalition air activity in support of a Peshmerga offensive during this period.

“A sharia court determined that greater control should be exercised over contacts between ISIS amirs and that all means of communication, especially at the fronts, should be cut,” the MOIS source reported.

AS IRAN WORKED to weaken the Islamic State, it embarked on a strategy that, deliberately or not, echoed the U.S. playbook for dealing with Iraq. Nearly a decade earlier, the United States had defeated Al Qaeda in Iraq — the precursor to ISIS — by arming Sunni tribal groups opposed to the extremists. This tribal rebellion, termed “the Awakening,” was credited with helping fracture Al Qaeda’s ties to other Sunni Arab militants. The Awakening helped stabilize the country during the final years of the U.S. occupation, allowing a tenuous new political order to take shape.

Like Al Qaeda before it, the Islamic State belonged to a broad coalition of Sunni Arab factions that were ideologically diverse but united in their opposition to an Iraqi government they viewed as sectarian, corrupt, and beholden to Iran. Many of the most powerful non-ISIS factions could be described as ideologically neo-Baathist in their shared longing for a restoration of the pre-2003 order in Iraq.

The groups initially cooperated, but by the summer of 2014, deadly firefights were reported between ISIS and Sunni militants who did not accept the group’s leadership of the insurgency against Baghdad. Iran was ready to capitalize on these divisions. By the fall of 2014, the MOIS was surveilling and communicating with disaffected insurgents, with the goal of reconciling them with the Iraqi government and turning them against ISIS.

But the Iranians found that the Sunni militants could be deceptive, the MOIS documents show. In September 2014, the agency intercepted a communication from some of these militants to their followers that included derogatory statements about Iran and called on fighters to take advantage of a recent halt in Iraqi government airstrikes to escalate their insurgency.

“Since we are supposed to meet Baathists next week, and considering the principles fixed by the honorable General Director to get answers from them — naturally some of the answers are clear from the text of this statement,” a MOIS officer wrote dryly. “We should try to weaken their position and show how untrustworthy they are in claiming that they have changed and become moderate and care for Iraq. Put this statement in front of them and then ask them to be explicit and clear in their view.”

Iranian officials closely monitored efforts by Sunni Arabs to organize themselves politically throughout the war, including at several meetings held at the Sheraton and Rotana hotels in Erbil in late 2014. An Iranian spy who attended a two-day meeting at the Sheraton in September reported that a former Baath Party member now living in the United States came to the meeting bearing an intriguing message: The Americans were willing to support political autonomy for Sunni-majority regions of Iraq once the fighting had ended. The MOIS was deeply concerned about Iraq breaking apart along sectarian lines and viewed any efforts that might lead to such fragmentation with suspicion.

Three months later, in December, a delegation of Iraqi politicians including former parliament speaker Salim al-Jabouri traveled to Iran for negotiations with high-ranking Iranian officials. The trip went well, according to a MOIS report, but there was a tense moment when members of the Iraqi delegation were berated by Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council. Shamkhani told the visitors that Sunnis in Iraq had already received “much more than you deserve,” including the leadership of numerous ministries, seats in the Iraqi parliament, and control of a large number of militia fighters. “Whether you want it or not,” he told them, Iran would “cleanse Iraq of the presence of [ISIS].”

Some members of the Iraqi delegation were “offended” by Shamkhani’s remarks, according to the cable.

Initial efforts by the highly unpopular Nouri al-Maliki-led Iraqi government to coax some Sunni tribes nominally allied with ISIS back onto its side with money and weapons had limited results. But a change of leadership in Iraq coupled with the brutality of life under ISIS did eventually lead some Sunni insurgents to explore switching sides. By 2015, the Iraqi government was said to be holding secret talks in Qatar and Tanzania with anti-ISIS Sunni insurgents, reportedly mediated by the United States and other countries in the Middle East.

ON THE MORNING of December 7, 2014, a delegation of Iranian intelligence officers paid a condolence visit to the headquarters of the Kurdistan Socialist Democratic Party, a small movement based in the Kurdish city of Halabja. In addition to the Kurdish Regional Government, Iran cultivated ties with marginal parties like the KSDP that lacked strong connections and military support from Western powers — part of a broader strategy of projecting influence through textured personal and political relationships across the Middle East. Such ties, sometimes pragmatically cultivated on a nonsectarian basis, have given Iran an advantage in its conflicts with the United States, Israel, and the Gulf Arab countries.

The head of the KSDP, Mohammed Haji Mahmoud, also known as “Kaka Hama,” is a legendary Kurdish nationalist who spent decades in the mountains of Kurdistan helping lead a resistance movement against the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. When ISIS attacked Kurdistan in 2014, Mahmoud himself joined battles at the front.

In late November of that year, Mahmoud’s son was killed fighting ISIS near Kirkuk. A week and a half later, spies from the MOIS showed up at Mahmoud’s office.

“A delegation of colleagues of the consulate went to the political office of KSDP and recited [prayers] and offered our condolences and paid our respects to Mohammed Haji Mahmoud over his martyred son who achieved martyrdom in the suburbs of Kirkuk in an attack against ISIS,” according to a secret Iranian intelligence report. An Iranian official present expressed the ministry’s grief over the death of Mahmoud’s son and “wished his family patience and tranquility.”

In January, about six weeks after their condolence visit, MOIS officers met with Mahmoud again. According to their report, the Kurdish leader thanked the Iranians for providing “special military and security training” to some 30 of his party’s Peshmerga fighters based in Sulaimaniyah. The training, according to the report, had been conducted in honor of Mahmoud’s son, and the Iranian-backed fighters had been sent to a front near Makhmour, where they helped rout ISIS. “They played a good role in defeating the takfiris,” Mahmoud told the Iranians, using an Arabic word to denote extremists, “and they put into practice the lessons they had learned.”

The MOIS case officer who wrote the report expressed satisfaction with Mahmoud’s comments. “God willing, we will benefit from the existence of these brothers in future training in Iraq toward the struggle with ISIS.”

Mahmoud could not be reached for comment for this story.

THE IRANIANS WOULD turn out to be less than durable friends to the Iraqi Kurds. Their dealings bear some resemblance to the United States’ own tortured relationship with Kurdish militants in neighboring Syria.

Not long after the war against ISIS began, Tehran started shifting the bulk of its support to the Iraqi central government and its allied Shia militias. The major break came in 2017, when Iraqi Kurds held a referendum on the question of full independence, their long-held dream. Kurdish voters overwhelmingly approved the referendum, but the vote alarmed Iran and other countries in the region that feared Kurdish secession.

Instead of independence, the referendum led to war between the Iraqi government and Kurdish forces. In a reversal of their role during the ISIS war, the Iranians worked against the Kurds, and the Iraqi offensive snuffed out any imminent hopes for Kurdish self-determination. In October 2017, the Peshmerga lost the town of Makhmour again — this time to an Iraqi government advance backed by Iran.

Gen. Bahram Arif Yassin was one of the Peshmerga commanders who led the fight against ISIS in northern Iraq. On a grassy hilltop in front of his home in the Kurdish city of Souran, surrounded by his military staff, he reflected on the bitter aftermath of the ISIS war and Kurdistan’s thwarted independence bid. “We expected support after the sacrifices we had made on behalf of the whole world fighting ISIS,” Yassin said. “Instead, we were opposed by surrounding countries that did not respect the Kurdish people’s voice.”

“When the independence vote happened, even Turkey didn’t close its borders to us,” Yassin continued. “Iran did.”

Although Makhmour remains under Iraqi control today, the sprawling Black Tiger base in the hills outside the town is still manned by Kurdish Peshmerga forces who are based in a few prefabricated bunkers. A giant Kurdish national flag flies from a pole above the base and a large hangar contains Humvees and other armored vehicles provided by the U.S.-led coalition. Modified vehicles taken from ISIS during the battle for Makhmour broil under the glaring sun. Among them are captured Iraqi army pickup trucks retrofitted with rusted armor plates and artillery pieces emblazoned with the black flag of the Islamic State.

The Peshmerga are still fighting ISIS militants hiding in the arid, brown Qara Chokh mountain range nearby, and Kurdish forces say they are grateful for periodic U.S. airstrikes on ISIS positions. Kurdish commanders at the base who fought in the Makhmour battle still consider the U.S.-led coalition their best ally, they said. The support Iran supplied to the Iraqi Kurds against ISIS in 2014 is a distant memory, overshadowed by Iran’s contribution to the more recent Iraqi conquest of Makhmour.

Iran’s MOIS predicted this rupture with the Kurds, though the reasons for the split were not what they had expected. The September 2014 report that bemoaned the lack of coordination between the U.S. and Iran in the fight against ISIS also noted that Tehran’s global isolation might force the Kurds to “keep their distance” from Iran when the war was over. “Our country might undergo a bitter experience yet again,” the document said, revealing the officer’s suspicion of even close Kurdish allies, as well as a note of pathos about Iran’s place in the world.

Ultimately, however, a combination of factors led to Iran’s renewed isolation. The U.S. decision to pull out of the Obama-era nuclear deal ended Iran’s brief rapprochement with the West. But it was Iran’s decision to work against Kurdish independence that squandered any goodwill the Iranians had won during the war against ISIS. Today, Iran finds itself cornered once more.

The destruction of the Islamic State may also prove to be a transient victory. Recent reports have suggested that the militants are quietly regrouping in Iraq, biding their time for a future resurgence. If the extremists do return, the United States and Iranian intelligence may find themselves once more in the strange position of tacitly working together — two enemies drawn into alignment by crises in Iraq that both helped generate, but neither seems capable of ending.



Prime minister denies promises were made to Islamic Jihad for ceasefire

17 November 2019

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday denied Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s claims that Israel had made pledges to the terror group in exchange for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

“I would like to reiterate: Israel has not promised anything. Our security policy has not changed at all, not one iota. We maintain complete freedom of action and we will hurt whoever tries to hurt us,” Netanyahu said at the opening of the cabinet meeting.

A message sent to the media from Netanyahu’s office on Thursday morning quoted an unnamed Israeli official, apparently the prime minister, making a similar statement, after Islamic Jihad and Egypt said the sides had agreed to end two days of fighting.

Islamic Jihad asserted the truce was based on three conditions — an end to targeted killings, a halt in shootings of protesters at weekly demonstrations along the Israeli frontier, and an easing of the 12-year Israeli security blockade on Gaza.

Officials in the terror group have been quoted by Arabic media claiming Israel had agreed to all its conditions for a ceasefire.

A senior Israeli official told Ynet on Friday it was Islamic Jihad that had requested a ceasefire, and Israel had made no promises. “We didn’t promise anyone that we would avoid assassinations,” he said. “Whoever tries to attack or does attack, will get hit.”

The official acknowledged that the group had “set terms” to uphold the peace “but it’s meaningless.”

Netanyahu also blamed the Hamas terror group for firing a pair of rockets at Beersheba over the weekend and threatened that “those who hurt us we will be hurt.”

A spokesperson for Hamas said Saturday that Israel “will not be allowed to choose the time and place of [military] campaigns.”

During this week’s fighting, Israel traded blows with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization while the Gaza-ruling Hamas sat on the sidelines until the early hours of Saturday, when it fired two rockets at the southern city of Beersheba.

Israel is said to believe that attack was carried out by Hamas operatives who were acting independently, without the authorization of the terror organization’s leaders. The IDF responded with strikes on Hamas terror targets in the enclave.

From predawn Tuesday to Thursday morning, Israel and Islamic Jihad fought a 48-hour battle during which over 450 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel from Gaza. In response to the attacks, the Israeli military conducted dozens of strikes on Islamic Jihad bases and weapons facilities, as well as rocket-launching teams throughout the Strip.

Palestinian sources said 34 Gazans were killed. The IDF said 25 of the fatalities were terrorists; human rights officials said 16 civilians were among the dead.

Fifty-eight Israelis were lightly or moderately injured, or treated for anxiety.

Most of the rockets from Gaza either landed in open fields or were intercepted by Israeli air defenses. Some struck homes, businesses and streets, causing injuries and significant property damage. Dozens of people were also hurt as they fell running to bomb shelters.

The flareup started after an Israeli missile killed Baha Abu al-Ata, a senior commander in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, whom Israel said was the “prime instigator” of terrorism from Gaza over the past year.



India bans Islamic, Iranian TV channels in Kashmir

17 November 2019

TEHRAN, Nov. 17 (MNA) – India's Information and Broadcasting (I&B) has asked cable operators from the Kashmir Valley to block the airing of all television channels from several Muslim countries including Iran and Turkey.

An official from the Union Ministry for Information and Broadcasting (I&B) on Sunday asked cable operators from the Valley to strictly adhere to the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act, 1995.

According to India's Wire news website, Vikram Sahay, the joint secretary-level official in the ministry arrived in the summer capital Srinagar this afternoon and held a two-hour-long meeting with a group of cable operators.

The Wire has reported that Sahay asked the operators not to air channels from Muslim countries, such as Iran, Malaysia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. “The official told us, in categorical terms, that all the channels from Iran, Turkey, Malaysia, and Pakistan should be blocked,” said an operator who attended the meeting.

According to the operator, the ministry official read out the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act, 1995 to the operators and asked them to adhere to it strictly.

Back in August, the Indian government scrapped the special autonomy status for the disputed region of Kashmir and as part of attempts to fully integrate the Muslim-majority region with the rest of the country.

The controversial move came after large parts of the Muslim-majority territory was placed under lockdown, with mobile networks, internet services, and telephone landline services being cut.



FM Zarif congratulates Islamic Jihad head on new achievement against Israel

TEHRAN, Nov. 17 (MNA) – The Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has held a phone conversation with the secretary-general of Palestinian Islamic Jihad Ziyad Al-Nakhalah.

In a telephone conversation with Ziyad Al-Nakhalah, the secretary-general of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) on Sunday, Foreign Minister Zarif condemned the latest Israeli regime's aggression on Gaza.

The top Iranian diplomat further congratulated the Islamic Jihad on its achievement in imposing its conditions on the Israeli regime for a ceasefire.

Early this week, Israeli regime martyred Baha Abu Atta, one of the Islamic Jihad commanders along with his wife in his house in Gaza city, while the Islamic Jihad retaliated by firing hundreds of rockets towards the occupied lands and brought life in the Jewish settlements and even Israeli major cities, including its commercial hub Tel Aviv, to a standstill for several days. The PIJ fighters could also inflict casualties on the army of the Israeli regime (IED), injuring several soldiers and destroying an advanced tank.



Islamic Unity Confab calls for defending Al-Aqsa Mosque

Participants of the 33rd International Islamic Unity Conference in its final statement slammed Israel’s aggressions on Muslims’ first Qibla, Al-Aqsa Mosque, and called for defending it.

Muslim participants described the aggressions on Al-Aqsa Mosque as a dangerous conspiracy, urging Islamic countries to take serious and firm stance towards the issue, IRNA reported.

The conference called on freedom-seeking figures across the globe to voice their solidarity with the Resistance and maintaining the honor of Muslims against the Israeli regime and the US.

In the statement, the participants demanded probe into all crimes committed by the Israeli regime against Al-Aqsa Mosque and called for taking serious measures against such atrocities.

Fifty years have lapsed since the arson attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque by the Israeli regime that sparked the Muslims' wrath and establishment of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The organization is however incapable of defending the rights of Muslims and settling the issues in Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, Myanmar and other Islamic countries, the statement said.

It called for further efforts and cooperation among Muslim countries for proposing new solutions and immediate measures to defend the holy mosque and the Islamic Resistance.

On Friday, participants in the conference attended a meeting with the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

During the meeting, Ayatollah Khamenei described the issue of Palestine as the biggest plight of the Muslim world which has displaced a nation from its home, and underlined the significance of unity among Muslim nations in resolving the issue.

Ayatollah Khamenei said Iran’s stance on the issue of Palestine is a principled and definitive one, stressing that Tehran will keep helping the Palestinians with no reservation, and calls on other Muslim countries to follow suit.

"Since the beginning of the Islamic Revolution to this day, we have remained in this position – meaning we have helped and will continue to help Palestine and the Palestinians without any consideration and we view this the duty of the whole Islamic world," the Leader said.

Ayatollah Khamenei touched on the enemies’ efforts to "distort" pronouncements by the late Father of the Islamic Revolution Imam Khomeini and Iranian officials about the elimination of Israel.

“We are in favor of Palestine and its independence and salvation, but the elimination of Israel does not mean the elimination of the Jewish people, because we have nothing to do with them, as a number of Jews live safely in our country.

“The elimination of Israel means the elimination of the fake Zionist regime and that the Palestinian people, be they Muslim, Christian or Jewish who are the main owners of that land, should be able to choose their government," the Leader said.



Australia and New Zealand


'This is what Australia should look like': Muslim group is praised for driving six hours from Sydney's west to cook up a free BBQ for bushfire victims

18 November 2019

A group of Muslim men have been praised for hosting a free barbecue for bushfire victims on the NSW mid north coast.

The unnamed men travelled six hours from their homes in Lakemba, western Sydney, to the Willawarrin Hotel, inland of Port Macquarie, to help boost locals' spirits.

The four men cooked meat and sausages and, with the help of a local bakery which donated fresh bread, handed out a free lunch to locals doing it tough after the fires.

The small rural town lost one of their own in the blaze last week after 58-year-old Barry Parsons' body was found in burnt-out bushland.

He became the fourth victim of the fires so far this season.

Locals said the act of kindness wouldn't go unnoticed in their community.

'Appreciation post from us all at Willa. Thank you for driving from Sydney to cater lunch for everyone,' one woman wrote alongside a photograph of the men. 

'These guys brought all the food with them as well. Muchly appreciated.'

The Facebook post attracted hundreds of comments from other Australians praising the men for their community spirit. 

'This is the actual face of Australia and what Australia should look like,' one man wrote on the post, as others commended those involved and said they made them 'proud to be an Aussie'.

Another woman who attended the free event told the men to pay no mind to a few 'rude comments with no appreciation for the kindness in everyone's hearts.'

'Please take note of the majority. Our community appreciate the time you have taken to cook for and spend time with us. No matter what source of sustenance. Community is all we have in these times,' she said.

ne man who claims to know the group said they are often looking for ways to contribute to good causes.

'They see it as nothing. [It is] just a part of their life and faith to help when they can and are able to,' the man wrote on the original post.

The men were joined by Orange Sky Laundry - a not-for-profit organisation that washes homeless people's clothes for them.

Volunteers from the organisation set up a post at the Willawarrin Hotel to wash the clothes of bushfire affected residents in the region.



White supremacist Philip Arps has second appeal for sharing mosque shooting video

Nov 18 2019

The sentencing of Philip Arps, who shared the Christchurch mosque shooting video, was heavily swayed by the views he held and some of the things he had said, the Court of Appeal has been told.

The white supremacist is serving a 21-month jail term on two charges of distributing an objectionable publication.

He has already lost one appeal against the sentence, but in Wellington on Monday in the Court of Appeal his lawyer, Anselm Williams, said the District Court sentencing and High Court appeal had been coloured significantly, and heavily swayed, by the views the courts considered Arps held.

Arps pleaded guilty to two charges of distributing the video. He admitted that after the March 15 massacre he had sent the video to 30 people, and asked a friend to modify it by adding cross-hairs and a "kill count".

Williams told the three Court of Appeal judges, including Christchurch-based judge David Gendall, that Arps shared the video with people he thought would find it interesting, and deleted the modified video because by the time he received it the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had said the video was likely to be classified objectionable.

The death toll from the mosque shootings was 51.

Williams said the conditions of Arps' sentence made it harder for him. He was in solitary confinement in maximum security at Christchurch Men's Prison because of the nature of his offence.

Home detention was available and should have been imposed.

The video was very widely shared generally on social media but Arps accepted he had crossed the line into the criminal law. Arps would not step back from his views but he denied getting pleasure from viewing the video and one point involving a female victim turned his stomach, and he stopped watching, Williams said.

Justice David Collins, presiding, said Arps told police that he thought the video was "awesome" but Williams said there was no evidence before the court of the "nuances" of Arps' views.

Williams said Arps' was against Muslim immigration to New Zealand and considered himself an activist. He had political views he thought he could express.

The Court of Appeal's decision is expected to comment on the limits of Arps' right to freedom of expression. Justice Collins said Arps was not punished for his views, which he was entitled to regardless of now offensive others might find them.

Crown lawyer Fergus Sinclair said Arps was considered at high risk of reoffending and his attitude meant more was needed to denounce and deter what he had done.

The 21-month sentence could be seen as falling on the "light side", he said.

Distributing the video while some did not even know if their family members were victims marked what Arps did as being particularly callous, Sinclair said.

The video was classified as objectionable and that limited the right to freedom of expression in relation to it.

Arguably violent forms of expression were not protected in any event, he said. Arps' guilty plea meant he accepted his right to freedom of expression had been exceeded.

The court reserved its decision.

Arps' previous offensive behaviour conviction for having left a pig's head at the entry to a mosque counted against him at sentencing for the video offences.

He is recorded as the director and a shareholder of a Christchurch business, Beneficial Insulation.



South Asia


Myanmar rejects jurisdiction of ICC for Rohingya Muslim

Nuri Aydin


YANGON, Myanmar

Myanmar has rejected an International Criminal Court (ICC) decision to launch an investigation into crimes against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

Government spokesman Zaw Htay said Friday the ICC has no jurisdiction over Myanmar because it is not a party to the Rome Statute.

The Rome Statute is the founding treaty of the ICC that seeks to protect communities from genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

"[The] ICC's decision is not in accordance with international law," Htay said.

Recalling that the government and the army set up two independent investigative commissions, Htay said, ''if human rights violations are found, we will act according to the law.''

On Thursday, judges at the ICC approved a prosecution request to investigate crimes against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority.

Bangladesh is a member state of the ICC, while Myanmar, which is not a party to the Rome Statute, has been accused of committing widespread abuses against Rohingya.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA in a report, titled, "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

* Writing by Dilara Hamit and Gozde Bayar



Afghan forces seize massive arsenal of ammunition of Taliban in Faryab

Sunday, 17 Nov 2019

The Afghan forces seized a massive arsenal of munitions of Taliban during an operation in northern Faryab province.

The 209th Shaheen Corps in a statement said the National Defense and Security Forces conducted the operation in Qarghan district of Faryab.

The statement further added that the arsenal of weapons of belonged to the shadow district chief of Taliban of Qarghan.

The security forces confiscated 100 rounds of rockets, 4 boxes of hand grenades, 100 mortar rounds, 50 rounds of rocket launcher rockets, 5000 rounds of PKM machine gun ammunition, 5000 rounds of Ak-47 rifle ammunition and several improvised explosive devices, the statement added.

The Taliban group has not commented in this regard so far.



U.S. Ambassador reacts to Afghan government’s decision to reassess release of HQN leaders

Sunday, 17 Nov 2019

The U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass reacted to Afghan government’s decision to reassess the release of 3 senior Haqqani Network leaders in exchange for the release of kidnapped American University lecturers.

“We supported President Ghani’s announcement to release three #Taliban prisoners to promote #peace – and the decision to reassess their pending transfer following the attacks in #Logar and #Kabul on November 12 and 13,” Ambassador Bass said in a Twitter post earlier today.

Ambassador further added “Making #peace means making hard choices, but it also requires careful review of the conditions on the ground. As strategic partners, we will continue to work closely with the #Afghan government on next steps.”

The Afghan government had earlier announced that it has reversed the decision to swap the three Haqqani network leaders with the American University lecturers.

Presidential spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi said late on Saturday that Anas Haqqani, Mali Khan and Hafiz Rashid, the three senior Haqqani network leaders are still in the custody of the Afghan government.

Sediqqi blamed the postponement of the prisoners swap, claiming that the group failed to respect the conditions of the process.

He also added that the Afghan government has reconsidered decision and will take further actions in the light of the interests and benefits of Afghanistan.



72 ISIS sympathizers surrender to Afghan forces in Nangarhar, claims local officials

Sunday, 17 Nov 2019

A group of 72 sympathizers of ISIS Khurasan terror group surrendered to Afghan forces in eastern Nangarhar province, the local officials said Sunday.

The officials further added that the militants surrendered to the Afghan forces in Achin and Haska Mina districts late on Saturday night.

Ashiqullah Sadat, the district chief of Achin said 69 ISIS militants handed over themselves to the Afghan forces with 76 women and 96 children in this district.

The district chief of Haska Mina also confirmed that three ISIS militants surrendered to Afghan forces in this district on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, the provincial government in a statement said the ISIS militants also handed over several weapons to the Afghan forces.

The statement further added the local authorities predict that more ISIS militants may surrender to Afghan forces in coming days.

The Ministry of Defense had earlier announced that the Afghan forces have increased pressures against the terror group in unprecedented manner during the recent months, forcing hundreds of militants of the terror group to surrender.



Airstrike kills Taliban group commanders Mullah Ahmad and Qari Meraj in Faryab

Monday, 18 Nov 2019

An airstrike in northern Faryb province killed two group commanders of the Taliban group in northern Faryab province, the Afghan military said.

The 209th Shaheen Corps said in a statement the Afghan Air Force conducted an airstrike in Gurziwan district at around 11:40 pm local time on Sunday.

The statement further added that the airstrike killed Mullah Ahmad and Qari Meraj, the two group commanders of Taliban.

The airstrike also wounded two other Taliban militants, the 209th Shaheen Corps added in its statement.

Meanwhile, the 209th Shaheen Corps said a clash broke out between Afghan forces and Taliban militants in Qarqeen district of Jawzjan at around 4:20 pm local time on Sunday which left 2 Taliban militants dead and 3 others wounded.



Southeast Asia


Sultan Mosque to offer space with bed, pillows & water for homeless to seek shelter at night

Fasiha Nazren

November 17

Sultan Mosque is set to be the first mosque in Singapore to provide a place for the homeless.

This initiative is a collaboration between the almost 200-year-old mosque and the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s (MSF) Partners Engaging and Empowering Rough Sleepers Network (PEERS).

The mosque joins four churches, a temple and a charity in providing a place for the homeless.

According to a report by BERITAmediacorp, the homeless can seek refuge in these places from 10:00pm to 7:00am the next morning.

It is described as clean and spacious enough for five people to rest.

The room is also fitted with a fan and five new sets of single-sized mattresses and pillows. Free bottled water can also be found at one corner of the room.

To use the shelter, the homeless simply have to find a security guard from the mosque and register, before using the space.

The space, however, isn’t located in the main building or prayer hall of the mosque.

Instead, it is located in the Annex Building. More specifically, a multi-purpose room at the basement of the said building.

The mosque has also assured members of the public that this new initiative would not disturb nor obstruct mosque-goers, as the room can only be accessed via the side entrance facing Kandahar Street, and not the main doors of the mosque.

The people staying in the room would also face little to no risk of becoming a victim of crimes, as the room will be locked by the security guards while they rest.

For now, the space will only cater to homeless men, regardless of race or religion.

An individual can only seek refuge in the mosque for a few nights.

After which, MSF will connect them to government agencies or other social services that can help them find a place to stay.

In an interview with BERITAmediacorp, social development officer for Sultan Mosque, Muhammad Aizuddin also said:



BN used May 13 as bogeyman, now PH using Najib

Danny Wong

November 18, 2019

I felt a deep sense of anger in the wake of Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) defeat in Tanjung Piai. Although predicted, no one expected PH to lose almost all its Chinese support.

The defeat is a slap in the face for DAP for politicising the Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman matching grant issue and for the delay in proposing UEC recognition to the Cabinet.

These are two obvious disappointments for most Chinese voters. Then again, there were many promises during the general election, some more relevant to Malaysians in general.

I am disappointed with the fact that instead of acknowledging the shortcomings, we were told that losing the next election would mean Najib Razak could go scot-free.

Are they using our hatred of corruption to blackmail us into continuing to support PH without any real effort for reform?

To a certain extent, this is like Barisan Nasional using “May 13” to keep the Chinese at bay in the past!

Before GE14, PH leaders promised bigger and more systematic allocations for vernacular schools. None other than the current finance minister even promised assistance of RM1,000 to each TAR UC student. It seems that not only have promises been forgotten, DAP has hit a new low by withdrawing the matching grant of RM30 million for Utar immediately after presenting the first national budget in 2018.

Despite the backlash from the Chinese community, he still refused to give the matching grant to Utar in the 2020 Budget.

He had the cheek to ask MCA to relinquish its control of Utar before considering resumption of the matching grant.

Utar is a result of the combined efforts of former Chinese leaders and the community in general. Although it was formed by MCA, there is no evidence that MCA ever used Utar for propaganda, to spread its ideology or blackmail for Chinese support.

Not all Chinese parents are financially capable of sending their children overseas or even to local private colleges for tertiary education. Our quota system (not meritocracy, even after PH taking power) at local public universities denies even some of the most deserving students a chance to further their studies.

Utar presented a realistic opportunity for Chinese youth to pursue quality education. In fact, some DAP leaders and ministers are also the products of Utar and TAR UC. Some DAP leaders are beneficiaries of these “MCA-linked” higher educational institutions.

Sensible Malaysians would not want Najib to go scot-free. But to threaten voters with Najib’s freedom is the lowest form of scare tactics used by DAP. It is like forcing us to choose between Najib and an inept PH government.

PH as well as DAP should use the next three years to institute real reforms as promised; to restore the independence of the three main institutions: the legislature, judiciary and executive. This way, whichever party is in power should not have influence over another institution. That is to say, the leaders of the ruling party cannot tell the police or judges what to do.

Stop using Najib as an excuse for your failures, whether finance or race related.

Stop using even Dr Mahathir Mohamad as your excuse. Read through your election manifesto, forget about those candy-coated nonsense baits, and start executing real reforms.

Danny Wong is an FMT reader.



Family, tribes, Buddhists await pope in Thailand

November 18, 2019

ANGKOK: Pope’s Francis’s missionary cousin, tribal minority people from remote mountain villages and Buddhist children will be among the tens of thousands of people who descend on the Thai capital to catch a glimpse of the pontiff this week.

Here are profiles on some of the interesting figures who will be in Bangkok for the pope’s four-day visit starting on Wednesday.

Cousin ‘Jorge’

Sister Ana Rosa shares a great grandfather with the pope and will be at his side to act as an interpreter, attending the two masses he will lead at the Assumption Cathedral and at a stadium in Bangkok.“I still call him ‘Jorge’,” she tells AFP, referring to the pontiff’s birth name, Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

The 77-year-old sister has worked as a missionary in Thailand since 1966 and today runs a Catholic girls’ school, making her the perfect guide to avoid any faux pas in the Buddhist-majority country.

She says there is no room for pride as she rises to the important role, adding she also managed to keep her feelings in check when he was appointed pope – even if she admits staying awake “most of the night”.

She remembers her now-famous cousin as a quiet child who loved football and was even “a bit boring” at times.

“Today he is a great orator when he speaks to crowds,” she says.

“He likes to have direct contact with people.”Father Alessio Crippa has been working to give children access to education and healthcare for the past three years in Khlong Toei, central Bangkok’s largest slum and home to some 100,000 people.

But the 38-year-old former engineer-turned-missionary says he is “not a hero”.

He helped select five children – two Catholics and three Buddhists, aged 10 to 14 – to have a face-to-face meeting with Pope Francis.

“This is a sign of recognition for these young people who were recently out of the school system,” he says.

“They were born in families devastated by drugs, debt or disease.”

While the majority of Khlong Toei’s inhabitants are Buddhist, Father Alessio says he’s not here to convert, rather “to help”.

Rice or religion?

For many of the 400 ethnic Karen Christians travelling by bus from Tak province on the Myanmar border, this will be the first time they see Thailand’s capital.

The remote communities lack internet and television and many have only ever seen the pontiff in photos brought by missionaries, Sister Paif tells AFP.

“They don’t know what to expect,” the ethnic Karen says.

“They are worried about leaving their paddy fields at harvest time, but they will be proud to recount their adventures.”

The 26-year-old sister travels by foot to visit those in need in isolated villages, where many lack medical help and access to advanced education.

They are still considered “second-class citizens” in Thailand, she says, even after living for decades on the country’s borders having escaped persecution in Myanmar.

There are also tens of thousands of Karen – alongside other ethnic groups that fled Myanmar – living in refugee camps on the border.

The pope travelled to Myanmar in 2017 before visiting Bangladesh where he met Rohingya Muslims who fled a military crackdown in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state.

No such visit is planned for Myanmar’s Karen refugees in Thailand.

Performing for the Pope

As a Catholic, 15-year-old Nara has long had questions about her place in Buddhist-majority Thailand, but finds herself lucky that her peers are “tolerant” of her beliefs.

“I speak a lot with my Buddhist friends about my faith,” she says as she rehearses a traditional northern Thai dance using colourful umbrellas.

Nara is among 800 girls – both Buddhist and Catholic – selected to perform for the pontiff during his stadium mass which is expected to draw tens of thousands of pilgrims.

“It is an honour for me to dance at the mass,” Nara says.

“He is coming here to show he is open to other religions.”

In a video message Friday, Pope Francis said he hopes for his visit to “strengthen the bonds of friendship that we share with many Buddhist brothers and sisters”.



Muslim students in China returned home to find loved ones had vanished into camps for thinking ‘unhealthy thoughts’, leaked documents reveal

Chinese Muslim students returned home for university holidays to find members of their families had been taken away for “unhealthy thoughts”, leaked government documents show.

Young people from the minority ethnic Uighur community in the Xinjiang province were told their loved ones were undergoing “training”, which is why they were not at home, The New York Times revealed after receiving 400 pages of internal documents.

Local officials were instructed to meet students on arrival to explain their relatives were susceptible to Islamic extremism and had been detained “for their own good”, according to the papers.

“No matter what age, anyone who has been infected by religious extremism must undergo study,” read one of the responses in a scripted Q&A-style guide for officials in Turpan, southern Xinjiang, on how to respond to worried students’ questions.

It is estimated around one million people from ethnic minorities in China have been detained in camps typically shrouded in secrecy  Recent research, however, suggests the total figure could be far more.

Many Uighurs from Xinjiang go to university outside the region, where the clampdown on the minority Muslim community has been focused.

In the leaked guide, officials were told to inform students their families “are in a training school set up by the government to undergo collective systematic training”.

They are advised to placate any worries by insisting the disappeared are in good hands, even though they cannot leave their “schools” and cannot be visited. “You have absolutely no need to worry about how they are doing,” the document told officials to say.

“Tuition for their period of study is free and so are food and living costs.” It advised informing the students that the government spends $3 (£2.30) per day for each person’s daily meals.

However, if a student is agitated or continues asking pressing questions, the set answers become less reassuring and more assertive, The New York Times explained.

They are told release depends on a points-based system and relatives will have to stay longer if their free family member does anything to stop them gaining points, such as spreading rumours, the documents reveal.

The guide claims their studies will not be affected if family members earn money by working on the farm. The government claims it will help with fees, and that loans and a “poverty allowance” are available.

Students are told their relatives are not criminals, but “their thinking has been infected by unhealthy thoughts” and “freedom is only possible when the ‘virus’ in their thinking is eradicated”.

In response to any questions about why their relative cannot “train” at home, they are told to respond: “If you weren’t thoroughly cured, as soon as you returned home you would infect your family with this virus, and your whole family would fall ill.”

China has maintained the Muslim minority group visit voluntary “training centres”, which aim to combat terrorism and extremism, after a string of attacks were carried out in the Xinjiang region.

However, the mass detention of Uighurs and ethnic Kazhak and Uzbek Muslims since 2017 has been condemned by other nations as a human rights issue.

Other leaked documents show having a long beard, not drinking or smoking and learning Arabic were listed as reasons why a person should be detained because they hint at radicalisation or anti-government beliefs.

They also include private speeches by Xi Jinping and internal reports on party dissenters over the crackdown, offering an unusual insight into the heavily guarded operation.

The scripted interaction with returning family members forms an attempt to control how the rest of China views the removal of Uighurs from the community.

“Returning students from other parts of China have widespread social ties across the entire country,” one of the documents seen by The New York Times said.

“The moment they issue incorrect opinions on WeChat, Weibo and other social media platforms, the impact is widespread and difficult to eradicate.”



Commotion in Dewan over racist accusation against DAP

Robin Augustin

November 18, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: A commotion arose in the Dewan Rakyat today after an opposition MP accused DAP of making racially tinged speeches.

Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching (PH-Kulai) had been responding to an additional question by Mohd Shahar Abdullah (BN-Paya Besar) on whether the government allowed such speeches in schools.

“We don’t allow anyone to give racially tinged speeches in schools,” she said.

However, Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (BN-Pasir Salak) accused Teo’s party, DAP, of making such speeches, following which she challenged him to give evidence of this. She also told him to retract his statement.

Dewan Rakyat speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof also said that Tajuddin’s remark was unreasonable and told him to retract it.

Other MPs from Barisan Nasional then joined the fray, with Noh Omar (BN-Tanjung Karang) accusing Teo of misleading the house.

Ariff then asked Noh Omar to write to him stating the facts of how Teo had misled the house.

On Shahar’s question on politicians visiting schools, Teo said earlier that all politicians invited to visit schools must obtain written permission as the circular on the matter applied to all public figures.

She said the Cabinet had decided that for federal projects or programmes, government elected representatives must be invited.

She said the government had also given approval for opposition leaders to attend events at schools.

“In Sarawak, we have given approval for the opposition GPS and PSB a total of 515 times. For PH, only 170 approvals were given.

“What else do we want to ask for?” she said, adding that in Terengganu, approvals were given 16 times to the opposition.





Muslim Board can't file review petition: Hindu Mahasabha lawyer on Ayodhya verdict

Nov 18, 2019

New Delhi: The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) is not a party to the Ayodhya land dispute case and so does not have the right to file a review petition, said Varun Sinha, lawyer of the All India Hindu Mahasabha.

"AIMPLB is not a party to this litigation. It is the Sunni Waqf board that has to take the call to file a review petition. Only the parties in the matter can file a review petition in the Supreme Court," Sinha said on Sunday.

"The Supreme Court has examined each and every aspect of the matter and come to a conclusion that Muslims have not been able to establish their exclusive possession to that disputed site and structure," Sinha said.

Sinha said he is unable to understand how AIMPLB is going to find an error in the judgement, which was passed by the top court under Article 142 of the Constitution.

The AIMPLB on Sunday announced that it wants to file a review petition against the Supreme Court verdict on the Ayodhya issue, while declining to accept the five acres of land.

The top court ordered the central government to set up a trust and hand over the site to it for construction of a temple, while also directing that an alternative five acres of land at a prominent location in Ayodhya be allotted for the construction of the mosque.



Protests in BHU against hiring of a Muslim Sanskrit professor speak of dismal times

Written by Rajesh Kochhar

November 18, 2019

It is a measure of the hatefulness and narrow-mindedness that has come to permeate the national atmosphere that the appointment of a young Muslim Sanskrit scholar, Firoz Khan, as an assistant professor in the literature department of the Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Vijnan at Banaras Hindu University has brought forth protests from his to-be colleagues as well as the department’s PhD students, demanding a cancellation of the appointment.

The vice-chancellor has clarified that the appointment was made by a duly-appointed selection committee in accordance with applicable rules and regulations.

Rajasthan-born Khan has been educated at the Jaipur campus of the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, which is a deemed university under the Ministry of Human Resource Development. After completing his studies, Feroze served here as guest faculty for three years. This year, he has been awarded the Sanskrit Yuva Pratibha Samman by Rajasthan government.

The protesters know that the selection committee could not possibly have said that even though Khan was the best candidate for the position, he should not be offered the job due to communal considerations. If the selected candidate was, say, European, nobody would probably have raised any objection.

Admittedly, in an earlier era, access to Sanskrit was severally restricted. Sacred texts were the preserve of select Brahmin groups, while classical Sanskrit could be taught to upper-caste Hindus. That is how Raja Bhoja and Raja Bharthari emerged as Sanskrit scholars in their own right. It was, however, forbidden to teach Shudras Sanskrit. The Skanda Purana explicitly states that any Brahmin who teaches Sanskrit to a Shudra would lose his caste.

British and European interest in ancient India punctured Brahmin orthodoxy. Brahminical learning became an internationally-marketable commodity. For considerations of money, employment and patronage, Brahmins sold their old manuscripts to Europeans, went to their residence to teach them Sanskrit, admitted them into their homes, discussed sacred texts with them, and collaborated with them to prepare bilingual dictionaries. The very definition of mlechchha was modified to accommodate Europeans. The mlechchha was now not a despised foreigner as before but one who could not pronounce Sanskrit words correctly.

Brahmins appreciated Europeans’ respect for their learning and Hindu society in turn considered European scholarship to be authoritative. When a dispute arose between the Sanskrit professors at Oxford and Cambridge on the correct pronunciation of a particular Vedic rcha, two experts from Benares Sanskrit College were sent to Calcutta to record their recitation, which was forwarded to England.

Once Brahmins agreed to admit mlechchhas into the Sanskrit fold, they could not have kept the Shudras out. Raja Radhakanta Deb emerged as the most celebrated Sanskrit scholar in 19th century Bengal. In the pre-Plassey days, Brahmins would not even have accepted drinking water from his ancestors.

The British opened three Sanskrit Colleges: Benares (1791), Poona (1821), and Calcutta (1824). In 1832, a brilliant former student of Sanskrit College Calcutta was appointed a professor. His selection was opposed by the Brahmin professors and students on the ground that he was a Shudrayaji Brahmin (one who administered rituals to lower castes). The colonial administrator who oversaw the college imperiously told the objectors that they could leave if they so wished. Of course, nobody did. To begin with, the Sanskrit Colleges were exclusively meant for Brahmins, but as the British became entrenched they cautiously opened up these institutions.

Even in the Mughal era, Brahmins had compromised on their exclusivity. Taking note of Prince Dara Shikoh’s exalted position and love of learning, the learned pandits of Benares instructed him in Sanskrit and sat with him to translate the 52 Upanishads.

If Brahmins could teach Sanskrit to a Muslim, why can’t a Muslim teach Sanskrit to Brahmin and other students now? Although Khan is legally safe, questions remain. A quick glance at the list of teaching staff of the Sanskrit literature department shows that most, if not all, members have Brahmin surnames. Will the newcomer find the workplace congenial and conducive to professional advancement? Or, will the atmosphere be made so hostile for him that he is forced to resign?

Classical and sacred Sanskrit texts are a part of world heritage. We take great pride when Europeans take an interest in them. There is a glorious tradition of Muslim musicians’ respect for and contributions to Hindu temple traditions. Such respect and contribution should be welcomed and encouraged in scholarly studies as well.

Kochhar is author of The Vedic People: Their History and Geography



SC's Ayodhya verdict faulty but Muslims must move on: Yashwant Sinha

Nov 18, 2019

Mumbai: Former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on Sunday criticised the Supreme Court's judgment in the Ayodhya issue, but said the Muslim community should accept it. Sinha was speaking at the Mumbai Lit Fest.

Asked about his views about the historical verdict, he said, "The Supreme Court judgement is a faulty judgement, it is full of flaws, but I will still ask the Muslim community to accept the judgement and put the whole thing behind us.

"Let us move on. There is no judgement after the SC judgement," he said.

The Supreme Court, in its verdict in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title case on November 9, said the entire 2.77 acres of disputed land should be handed over to the deity Ram Lalla, who was one of the three litigants.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board on Sunday favoured seeking a review of the Supreme Court's judgement, and said it was against accepting the five-acre alternative land given for a mosque.

Sinha, meanwhile, also claimed that L K Advani and other senior leaders of the BJP were "apologetic and contrite" about the demolition of the Babri Masjid for some time initially, before taking credit for the Ram Mandir agitation later.

The bureaucrat-turned-politician said while joining the BJP in 1993, he had taken a conscious decision to join a "communal force", thinking it to be a better alternative than a "corrupt force (Congress).



VHP says Muslims should accept Supreme Court’s verdict, cites Gandhi’s view on Somnath

NOVEMBER 17, 2019

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) said on Sunday that the Muslim community should accept the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Ayodhya dispute, and claimed that Mahatma Gandhi had made a similar appeal in the case of Somnath Temple.

The statement by VHP general secretary Milind Parande came soon after the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) favoured seeking a review of the Ayodhya judgment.

Mr. Parande also said that similar disputes about religious sites in Kashi and Mathura were not on the VHP’s agenda.

“Mahatma Gandhi had made a similar appeal to Muslims, urging them to accept the decision of the then Union government to reconstruct the Somnath temple (which had been destroyed in the earlier centuries) in Gujarat,” he claimed here.

“Gandhi had said Muslims should accept the decision or it would give the wrong message that their attachment lies with the destructors of the temple,” he said.

Gandhi had expressed this view in his newspaper .

“Harijan”, he further claimed.

“As the court’s decision on the Ramjanmabhoomi is unanimous, I think there is no need for review petition,” the VHP leader said.

Mr. Parande also said that the VHP and other organisations which were agitating for the temple were now waiting for the Union government to set up a trust — as directed by the SC — for the temple construction.

“Sixty per cent of carved stones (to be used for temple construction) are ready,” he said.

Mr. Parande was speaking after inauguration of a hostel set up by the VHP for poor cancer patients coming to the city for treatment.

AIMPLB secretary Zafaryab Jilani said on Sunday that the land of the Babri mosque “belongs to Allah and under the Sharia, it cannot be given to anybody“.

“The board has also categorically stated that it was against taking five-acre land in Ayodhya in lieu of the mosque. The board is of the view that there cannot be any alternative to the mosque,” he said in Delhi.

Earlier in the day, the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind also decided to file a review petition challenging the Supreme Court’s Ayodhya verdict.

The SC, in its verdict in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title case on November 9, said the entire 2.77 acres of disputed land should be handed over to the deity Ram Lalla, who was one of the three litigants.

The five-judge Constitution bench also directed the Centre to allot a five-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board in Ayodhya to build a mosque.

Asked if the VHP will push for similar decisions on the disputed sites in Kashi (Varanasi) and Mathura, Mr. Parande said, “We are also doing a lot of social reform-related work.

Our hands are full now, so we are not getting involved in Kashi and Mathura issues.”

The focus, at present, was on the construction of a grand temple in Ayodhya, he said.

“A prototype of the temple was circulated several years ago. We hope it will be accepted by the trust which the centre will form. VHP will not be part of the trust,” he said.



Muslim judge who pronounced Ayodhya verdict to get 'Z' category security

The Centre has decided to provide 'Z' category security cover to Justice S Abdul Nazeer, who was part of the Supreme Court Bench which pronounced the verdict in the Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case on November 9. The decision has been taken in view of the imminent threat to him and his family from the Popular Front of India (PFI) and 'other quarters', the Home Ministry notified.

According to an ANI report, the Home Ministry has already directed the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the local police to provide the 'Z' category security cover to Justice Nazeer and his family and Karnataka and elsewhere in the country after intelligence reports suggested that there might be a security threat on the Supreme Court judge.

The report also states that the security cover will be extended to Justice Nazeer even when he travels to Bengaluru, Mangaluru and elsewhere in the state.

In the 'Z' category security cover, a total of 22 security personnel, including 4-5 NSG Commando and local police personnel, accompany the individual.

In a 5-0 unanimous decision, the Supreme Court on Saturday ruled that the disputed 2.77 acre land in Ayodhya will go to Hindus while Muslims will be given a 5-acre plot at an alternate location in the city for construction of the mosque.

The apex court, however, handed over the land to the government to take measures for maintaining peace and harmony and law and order. The government will create a Board of Trust and formulate a scheme within three months.

In 2017, Abdul Nazeer was also the lone Muslim judge in the multi-faith Bench which heard the highly-controversial Triple Talaq case.


30 political detainees in Srinagar moved amid claims of manhandling

Written by Adil Akhzer

November 18, 2019

NUMBERING over 30, all the mainstream political leaders kept under detention at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) in Srinagar since August 5 were on Sunday afternoon moved to the MLA hostel within the city, amid allegations of manhandling by police.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) claimed that the hostel wasn’t equipped with heating facilities, the reason unofficially given for shifting the detainees. This led to protests, after which some leaders were allegedly roughed up. People’s Conference (PC) claimed its chairman Sajad Lone had been “manhandled and misbehaved with” under the pretext of security checking.

While District Magistrate Srinagar Shahid Chaudhary didn’t respond to calls, SSP, Security, Kashmir Imtiyaz Hussain denied the claims. “There are some mandatory drills which need to be followed… We followed those. Nothing of this sort happened,” he told The Indian Express. He later reiterated the same on Twitter.

PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter Iltija Mufti tweeted that Lone, senior PDP leader Waheed Para and chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement Shah Faesal were manhandled.

Claiming that “new jail windows are blocked with wood, (it) lacks heaters & has surveillance jammers”, Iltija, who uses Mehbooba’s handle, wrote a series of tweets, saying “manhandling started when Sajad Lone was repeatedly frisked & asked to undress”. “If a man who PM Modi called his younger brother is being humiliated like this, imagine plight of others… Is this how you treat elected representatives?… Lone sahabs aged mother refuses to leave srinagar despite the crippling cold because her son is jailed. Is this humane?”

The PC said the way Lone had been treated led to a heated exchange of words, “in which some members also exchanged physical blows”. “People’s Conference strongly condemns this reprehensible treatment… This attitude of the local police towards former democratically elected representatives of the people of Kashmir is a brazen display of arrogance and contempt for the rule of law,” the party said.

Peoples democratic party, political detainees in Jammu Kashmir, Sher-e-Kashmir international conference centre, J&K leaders detention, india news, indian express

People’s Conference (PC) claimed its chairman Sajad Lone had been “manhandled and misbehaved with” under the pretext of security checking. (File)

A senior PDP leader told The Indian Express the detained leaders were told they were being shifted “because of the cold”. Kashmir has been under an intense cold wave, with snow arriving earlier than usual. However, the government has not given any specific reason, and sources said one of the considerations was a bill of Rs 3.28 crore run up for housing detainees at the SKICC.

The centre was designated a subsidiary jail on August 5, the day the Union government revoked the special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Apart from Lone, Para and Faesal, senior PDP leader Naeem Akhtar and senior NC leader Ali Mohammad Sagar were kept there.

On Friday, Mehbooba Mufti became the first political detainee in Kashmir to be moved to a new place after August 5 when she was shifted from a Chashme Shahi hut to government quarters close to Lal Chowk. Iltija had earlier requested her mother be shifted as the hut didn’t have enough heating.



North America


New York Times Deletes Islamic Jihad Terror Reference from Story

by John Rossomando

The New York Times edited a reference that accurately described Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) as a terrorist group, from a November 12 story, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) found. This story appeared following an Israeli attack in Gaza that killed PIJ leader Baha Abu al-Ata.

“The group is listed as a terrorist organization by many countries, and is supported by Iran,” the first draft of the Times story said.

Inexplicably, that reference disappeared later in the day.

A reference to PIJ’s “harder line toward Israel” appeared in its place, CAMERA wrote.

After US special forces killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a raid last month, CAMERA noted, the newspaper had no qualms describing Abu Bakr as a “terrorist” who led a “terrorist group” that committed “acts of terror.”

The United States, Canada, European Union (EU), Japan, and others regard PIJ as a terrorist group.

US law defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

PIJ targets civilians, just like ISIS. It has been responsible for mass casualty bombings of Israeli markets, buses, and shopping malls over the years, in addition to its frequent rocket attacks aimed at killing civilians.

ISIS and PIJ are guilty of similar crimes, so why the decision to suddenly obscure the fact that PIJ is a terrorist organization that targets civilians? Maybe because Israel was involved.



Denver mosque threat suspect believed armed with airsoft rifle bonds out of jail

Nov 17, 2019

DENVER — The man facing a charge of felony menacing and accused of verbally threatening members of a Denver mosque and brandishing what looked look like a real rifle on Thursday was released from Denver Jail just after 1 a.m. Sunday.

A female relative of Benjamin Casillas-Rocha, 24, posted a $1,000 cash bond, according to a jail official and court records. His bond is set at $10,000, but posting a cash amount allowed his release on $1,000, a jail official told Denver7.

Casillas-Rocha reportedly pointed what appeared to be a long gun at four people outside the Masjid Al-Shuhadaa mosque in the 2900 block of North Downing Street on Thursday afternoon, according to a probable cause statement. The realistic-looking gun turned out to be an airsoft pellet gun.

The suspect had been at the mosque earlier in the day and was upset about losing his phone, which he believed was inside the building, police documents state.

The investigation revealed he returned to the mosque later in the day, under the influence of an unknown narcotic, and started yelling anti-Muslim remarks while pointing the rifle at the four victims. He left the vicinity after hearing police had been called to the area.

No one was injured.

Police later found Casillas-Rocha at his home in the 2900 block of North Marion Street. They arrested him on investigation of felony menacing.

During a Saturday court hearing, a judge issued a protection order prohibiting the suspect from contacting his victims. The judge also ordered that upon release from jail, Casillas-Rocha will have intensive probation supervision, including having to wear a satellite (GPS) tracking devise. He’s also prohibited from possessing or attempting to possess a gun as a condition of his bond.

Police are investigating the incident as a bias-motivated crime. However, the district attorney has not formally charged him.



Trinidad’s Islamic State Problem

By Simon Cottee

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Editor’s Note: One of the least known, but most alarming, aspects of the Islamic State is its ability to draw recruits and sympathizers from around the world, including from many countries not known as hotbeds of radicalism. On a per-capita basis, Trinidad was one of the largest providers of volunteers for the caliphate, a development that seems to come out of nowhere. Simon Cottee of the University of Kent looks in detail at the volunteers from Trinidad, assessing their motivations and the danger they pose should they return.

Daniel Byman

In November 2013 Shane Crawford and two other men pulled off a double murder in a busy town in central Trinidad. Less than a month later all three were in Syria fighting for the Islamic State—the first Trinidadians, or Trinis (to use the local idiom), to do so. By the time the U.S. State Department added Crawford to its list of “Global Terrorists” in 2017, more than 240 Trini nationals had migrated to the so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq. This makes Trinidad and Tobago (T&T), a small twin-island republic in the Caribbean, one of the world’s biggest recruiting grounds, per capita, of the Islamic State.

Trinidad has still yet to come to terms with this unenviable record, and there remains a widespread sense of incomprehension in the county that any of its nationals could have traded the paradise on their shores for a world of sectarian slaughter and chaos in Syria and Iraq. Now, more than six months after the fall of the territorial caliphate, the country faces the mother of all returnee problems: what to do about the scores of its nationals who are currently in detention in Syria and Iraq. This problem is all the more urgent given the uncertainty in northeastern Syria following President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops and support from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). At the time of writing, the Ain Issa camp, which houses hundreds of foreign Islamic State-affiliated women and children, has fallen.

One local group in Trinidad, the “Concerned Muslims of T&T,” is calling for the repatriation of all Trini women and children, while other voices, notably Col. Claudia Carrizales, a U.S. Embassy military liaison officer, have expressed alarm at the prospect of returning foreign fighters. “Within the next year or so, you will eventually have some hardened FTFs [foreign terrorist fighters] return to this country,” Carrizales said recently at a conference in the country’s capital, Port of Spain, adding: “Those are your citizens. They are your responsibility. Are you ready to deal with that kind of threat?”

But how did Trinidad get to this point in the first place?

I first became alerted to the issue of Trinis joining the Islamic State in mid-2014 via the reporting of local journalist Mark Bassant, but it wasn’t until early 2016 that I decided to return to the country—I used to be a lecturer in criminology at the University of the West Indies—in an effort to make better sense of what was going on. Since then I’ve made many more research trips to Trinidad, interviewing Islamists, police officers, politicians, journalists, community activists, ordinary Muslims, and relatives and friends of Trini foreign fighters.

Who Are the Trini Jihadists?

According to the T&T government, 130 Trinis left the country between 2013 and 2015 to join the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. This may sound like a trifling number, a mere ripple among the 41,000 or so international citizens from 80 countries who joined the Islamic State, but it easily places Trinidad, with a population of 1.3 million, including around 100,000 Muslims, at the top of the list of Western countries with the highest rates of Islamic State recruitment. To put this into context, the figure of 130 amounts to 96 individuals per million—a rate that is roughly double that of Belgium, which, according to some estimates, has the highest per-capita rate of foreign fighters in the Western world. Yet 130 is almost certainly a gross underestimate. Based on recent discussions I’ve had with several national security sources in Trinidad, the true figure is likely to be in the region of 240.

Who are these individuals? In a recent article published in the journal International Affairs, I presented demographic data on 70 of them:

Thirty-four percent are adult men, 23 percent are adult women and 43 percent are minors.

Of the adults, the ratio of males to females is 60:40. This places T&T at the top of the list of Western countries for female Islamic State migrants.

The average age at time of departure across all 40 of the adults is 34. This is unusual compared to age averages found for all other Western Islamic State contingents; travelers from other countries are, on average, nearly a decade younger.

Nearly all the adult men were employed at the time they departed to join the Islamic State. The vast majority—90 percent—can be categorized as middle class, while 10 percent can be categorized as lower class.

Among the men, nearly 80 percent were married at the time of leaving, while among the women all were married, with the sole exception of an 18 year old who left with her family. So, among the Trini individuals for whom we have data, there were no “jihadi brides,” and while in the European and North American context the norm was “bunches of guys” leaving, in Trinidad it was “bunches of families,” of which there were at least 26.

Forty-three percent are converts, which, though high, doesn’t deviate from the pattern in other Western Islamic State mobilizations, where converts are also over-represented.

Thirty percent had a criminal record or had been involved in criminal activities prior to their departure, which is also broadly in line with research on European foreign fighters.

Finally, the vast majority of those who left come from three areas in Trinidad: Rio Claro in the southeast, Chaguanas in west-central Trinidad, and Diego Martin in the northwest. The majority—nearly 70 percent—lived in Rio Claro on or near the Boos Settlement Muslim community led by Imam Nazim Mohammed.

Many attended Salafi mosques (of which there are fewer than five out of a total of 85 mosques in T&T; Salafi-Muslims in T&T are a tiny minority within a minority).

Motives and Networks

What factors “pulled” or “pushed” these individuals to leave Trinidad and join the Islamic State? The Trinis who left to join the Islamic State were not pushed by frustration over poverty or social exclusion, because they were neither poor nor socially excluded; they were not pushed by anger over anti-Islamic bigotry, because in Trinidad they were blessed with a highly tolerant culture that is broadly favorable to Islam; they were not pushed by the pains of exile or migration, because they were very much of the society they grew up in; and they were not pushed by charismatic others who exploited their so-called vulnerability, since most were bright and mature individuals.

What seems to have pushed them, although “push” is far too deterministic a metaphor, was a profound spiritual disaffection from the very best that Trinidad had to offer, which was a decent life of tranquility and ease on a tropical island that they came to see as sexually permissive, corrupt and lacking in any real value—a sort of anti-paradise. What seems to have “pulled” them to the Islamic State was a conviction that it was the true paradise that Trinidad claimed to be but was not: a pristine society of faith free of corruption, deviance and worldly temptation.

Just as important a question as why they radicalized and joined the Islamic State is how they radicalized and joined. This is really a question about recruiters, facilitators and networks. One of the most striking features about the entire cohort of Trini Islamic State travelers is just how networked it was. Everyone in it was connected to everyone else. They all knew each other, either because they were friends or because they were related.

The node at the center of the network was Imam Nazim Mohammed, who remains in Trinidad and presides over his own religious settlement (a sizable area of land that includes the mosque he leads and around 30 houses he owns) in the rural town of Rio Claro. Mohammed’s network has its roots in the Jamaat al Muslimeen, a group of black Muslims led by Yasin Abu Bakr. In July 1990, 114 men from Bakr’s group, including Mohammed and one of his sons, attempted to overthrow the government of T&T, effectively holding the country for ransom for six bloody days. They didn’t succeed, but the dark legacy of the attempted coup, of which the pro-Islamic State network in Trinidad is a part, lives on. Bakr and his men were imprisoned for their involvement but were pardoned in 1992. After their release, Mohammed began to distance himself from the al Muslimeen leader and eventually established his own religious community in the south of the country, where he embarked on a project of Islamic proselytization and disengaged altogether from domestic politics.


According to a national security source, as of January 2018, 30 male Trini Islamic State fighters had been killed in Syria and Iraq. This number is likely to be much higher today, now that the territorial caliphate has been defeated. Just two women, one man, two boys and two teenaged girls have returned to Trinidad, which is a tiny number compared to the hundreds who have returned to Europe.

Based on recent conversations I’ve had with security sources in Trinidad and journalists on the ground in Syria, I estimate that there are 50 to 60 Trini minors currently in detention in Syria and Iraq. This may sound like a high figure, but it appears that a large proportion of the Trini contingent in Syria were minors.

According to “Concerned Muslims of T&T,” there are 40 Trini children and 16 Trini women in the Al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria alone. One detainee at the camp, possibly from Trinidad, told a Sky News reporter in February that there were at least 90 Trini children in Syria. This may be an exaggeration, but several journalists who have visited Al-Hol have told me that the number quoted by the “Concerned Muslims” group sounds plausible.

Thus far the T&T government, like most Western states, has shown little political will in seeking to address this issue and has not yet even publicly acknowledged that there are Trini children in the Al-Hol camp. The “Concerned Muslims” group is calling on the government to change course and bring home all Islamic State-affiliated Trini women and children.

The moral case for the repatriation of Trini minors is a strong one, since they are innocents who didn’t choose to go to Syria to join a genocidal religious-political movement. This makes them victims, and the T&T government has a duty to bring them home. There is another moral case, however, which is equally strong and flows directly from the one just stated: the case for prosecuting the Trini women who took their children to Syria or Iraq.

Under anti-terrorism legislation, these women, if or when they return to Trinidad, will walk free, without as much as a slap on the wrist, since at the time they left to travel to Islamic State-controlled territory in Syria and Iraq, it wasn’t a crime to do so in Trinidad. Further, the Islamic State had yet to be proscribed by the government as a terrorist group. (Revisions to the Anti-Terrorism Bill, which now hinder travel to jihadi hotspots abroad and clamp down on terrorist financing, did not pass into law until August 2018 and cannot be applied retroactively.) Even had the women been complicit in committing war crimes or other human rights abuses, which certainly can’t be ruled out, it will be very difficult to prove this, given the difficulties of recovering evidence.

One possible way forward would be to prosecute the women under international human trafficking legislation, to which T&T is a signatory. The United Nations Protocol on human trafficking defines it as “the recruitment or receipt of persons … for the purpose of exploitation.” Under the protocol, exploitation includes “sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery.” In the case of child trafficking, only the act of recruitment and intent to exploit are relevant. It is a matter of record that the Islamic State was conscripting boys as young as 10 into combat and girls as young as nine into marriages (and sexual servitude).

Some foreign Islamic State members have said that, prior to traveling to Syria or Iraq, they didn’t know that it was a war zone, but this seems barely credible. Indeed, for many travelers, the whole point of going to Syria or Iraq was to defend the caliphate in a time of war. And many, prior to leaving and as was clear from their social media activity, positively embraced the prospect that their children would become servants of the caliphate, either as soldiers or as breeding machines laying the ground for the next generation.

It is possible, as local Imam Sheraz Ali has pointed out, that some Trini women were themselves coerced or trafficked by their husbands into going to the caliphate or deceived about where their family was headed when they left. For example, Gailon Su, one of the wives of Anthony Hamlet, an Islamic State sniper from Rio Claro, has insisted that Hamlet tricked her into going to Syria; her daughter, Sarah Su, who remains in Trinidad, told me that her mother thought she was headed to Saudi Arabia for hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. But many were die-hard supporters of the group who wanted to join it and were simply heeding its call to take up arms in its defense. It would be an outrage for these women to return to Trinidad without facing censure or justice.

If the authorities in Trinidad are to repatriate its Islamic State-affiliated women, as I am suggesting they should, the price of repatriation must be a serious moral reckoning with what these women have done and, for the vast majority who took their children to Syria, the harms they inflicted on their children by effectively pimping them out to a merciless terrorist group. They cannot return as victims deserving of sympathy but must be held to scrupulous moral account.

This raises some difficult questions. One relates to the custodianship of the children, and whom they live with once they are returned to Trinidad. This is made all the more difficult because many of the children’s extended family members in Trinidad are part of the pro-Islamic State network there.

Another question has to do with capacity and cost: It will not be cheap to repatriate 40 or more children to Trinidad, and their care and rehabilitation over many years will require a long-term investment of resources.

Finally, there is the question of politics. Any government that embarks on repatriating Islamic State-affiliated children and separating them from their mothers will likely face a backlash from many Trinis, both Muslim and non-Muslim alike, who believe the country, with a spiraling murder rate and a huge recent influx of Venezuelans into the country, has enough problems to deal with already. It will also likely face stringent opposition from some Muslims, who will no doubt view the policy as Islamophobic.

The issue of adult Trini male returnees poses a very different set of challenges. Morally, it seems perverse to expect the Kurds or Iraqis—or, as now seems likely, the Turks or Syrians—to detain and house these nationals indefinitely, since it is Trinidad that owns them, so to speak, and it was Trinidad that inflicted them on the world.

But it also seems equally perverse to agitate for their return to Trinidad, where it is unlikely that they will be prosecuted, given the difficulties of marshalling battlefield evidence against them, and where they may sow further discord in the communities from which they came. Even more crucially, these returnees will pose a grave security risk on account of their extensive combat experience.

There are no easy answers to the returnee problem. But it is not going to go away, and the T&T government’s reluctance to fully address it is starting to look more and more imprudent by the day, as the status and security of northeastern Syria has now become uncertain. It is time for the government to take a stance, whether it is for or against repatriation, and whatever it decides it must seriously weigh up the imperatives of justice, cost and security.



Arab World


Princess Sora: Each child deserves a chance to be successful

November 17, 2019

WASHINGTON: The foundation Mentor International celebrated its 25th anniversary in a ceremony sponsored by its honorary ambassador Princess Sora bint Saud Al-Saud at the Swedish Embassy in Washington, DC. The ceremony was attended by Karin Olofsdotter, the Swedish ambassador, LaMont Wells, chairman at Mentor Foundation USA and her husband Prince Abdul Aziz bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz. The event also honored Princess Sora for her work in the past four years.

Princess Sora sponsored the ceremony on behalf of Queen Silvia of Sweden, founder and president of Mentor International, who organizes the event yearly to raise awareness and funds for the foundation.

The ceremony was marked by a charity auction and a presentation of experiences by celebrities and young men and women who were guided by the foundation to quit drugs and improper conduct — the mission that has been carried out by the foundation for 25 years.

In her speech Princess Sora praised Queen Silvia’s vision and efforts, as the impact of Mentor International has reached more than 80 countries and helped more than 6 million children and teenagers with programs that contributed to empowering them, developing their talents and getting them off risky behaviors and drugs.

She called for the audience to inspire humanitarian responsibility and to contribute as much as they can to achieving “the important goal of reaching needy children for support and guidance.” She stressed that “each child and teenager deserves a chance to be successful.”

The ceremony was attended by ambassadors, consuls, US government officials, activists in charity work, businesswomen and celebrities from Washington, DC.



Al Moammar signs Islamic finance agreement with Bank Albilad


Al Moammar Information Systems Co. signed on Monday a SAR 100 million Shariah-compliant Islamic finance agreement with Bank Albilad, the company said in a statement to Tadawul.

The finance will be used for assigned projects and multi-bonding facility and is subject to renewal on annual basis, the statement added.

The loan was secured against a promissory note, and the deal has no related parties.



Islamic Chamber urges members to attend Doha Halal Forum & Expo

18 Nov 2019

The Peninsula

DOHA: Qatar Chamber’s Chairman and First Vice Chairman of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce, Industry & Agriculture (ICCIA) Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim Al Thani presided over the 29th ICCIA Board of Directors Meeting held in Karachi, Pakistan on Saturday.

The meeting was attended by chambers’ presidents and heads of chambers’ unions of the ICCIA members. QC Board member Dr. Mohamed Jawhar Al Mohamed was also present at the meeting.

The meeting has approved Qatar’s host of the upcoming General Assembly and Board of Directors meetings on the sidelines of the “Halal Conference & Expo” in November 2020.

It also urged all the chamber members to participate in the event that will be held in Doha next year. The meeting’s agenda also included the adoption of chamber’s objectives for the period 2020 to 2024, the adoption of the document enabling the sustainability of chambers and the mandate of the General Secretariat to draw up the action plan.

It also included the adoption of strategy of the chamber’s forums and a proposal to update the Chamber’s working regulations. The meeting was attended Adviser of the Government of Pakistan for Trade, Industry, Investment and textile Abdul Razzaq Daoud as a guest of honour, President of the Federation of Pakistani Chambers Hajji Daru Khan Ashakzai and General Consul of the State of Qatar to Pakistan Mish’al Mohammad Al Ansari



Rector of Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University Receives Chargé d'Affaires of Thailand Embassy


Riyadh, November 17, 2019, SPA -- The Rector of Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University, Dr. Ahmed bin Salem Al-Ameri, received here today Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Thailand Sathana Kashemsanta Na Ayudhya.

Dr. Al-Ameri pointed out that there are 30 students from the Kingdom of Thailand studying at Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University and more than 40 students graduated in various degrees of disciplines.

For his part, Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Thailand, expressed his admiration for the level of postgraduate studies and scientific research at Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University and the care that the university pays to its students and distinguished educational services provided to them both at the bachelor and postgraduate levels.



Saudi Aramco sets IPO share price between 30-32 riyals for ‘sale of the century’

November 17, 2019

DUBAI: The Saudi Arabian “sale of the century” — the initial public offering of shares in Saudi Aramco — moved into top gear with the announcement of pricing details and official valuation of the most profitable company in the world.

The Kingdom will sell a total of 3 billion shares in Aramco — around 1.5 percent of the total — at a valuation between SR30 ($8) and SR32 per shares, giving a total valuation of between $1.6 trillion and $1.7 trillion, making it the most valuable company in history.

Investment professionals welcomed the valuation, which was lower than the highest estimates of Aramco’s worth, as a “compromise” between the Kingdom and the financial world.

Tarek Fadhallah, CEO of Nomura Asset Management in the Middle East, said: “My first impression is that the price is a sensible compromise and that it will sell the IPO.”

Setting the price range and the number of shares to be sold starts the “bookbuilidng” process during which Aramco and its advisers will consult with potential investors and await bids from the institutions and private investors to decide at what level the shares will finally be sold.

A final pricing decision will come on Dec. 5, and trading is expected to start on the Tadawul shortly after.

Private investors — Saudi nationals, resident expatriates and Gulf nationals — will have to decide how many shares they want at the SR32 level, and wait to see if their application will be met in full.

If the final price is set lower than the top of the range, investors can have their money refunded or take up extra shares to an equivalent value.Aramco has decided not to market the shares via “roadshows” in certain markets because of a relaxation of Riyadh market rules that will allows foreign investors to buy shares on Tadawul.

The value of the stock on offer in the IPO will be between $24 billion and $25.6 billion — beating the existing record for a share issue set by Alibaba on the New York Stock exchange in 2014.

The proceeds from the sale — earmarked for investment into the diversification of the Saudi economy under the Vision 2030 reform plans — could go even higher depending on demand, with an extra chunk of shares allocated to advisers as part of the price stabilization mechanism.

Aramco is also committed to buying $1 billion in shares for its employees in an incentive scheme.



Saudi student reflects on ‘Silk Road’ at China Youth Dialogue Forum

November 17, 2019

JEDDAH: A Saudi female student attracted more than 300 experts, specialists and others from 60 countries to her talk at the yearly International Youth Dialogue Forum, which began on Saturday.

The forum, in the Chinese capital Beijing, is being held as part of the “Silk Road” initiative, part of Saudi Vision 2030’s partnership with the Chinese government to revive historical trade routes for the modern era.

Miraz Ahmed Badris, a student at King Abdul Aziz University, spoke with the participants of the “Modern Culture for Young Saudi Women” forum, and shed light on the fast-moving changes and developments in young Saudi women’s ambitions, in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

She also highlighted the support of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s government of Saudi women, and how the “Silk Road” initiative would contribute to fulfilling these aspirations and desired goals.

Badris was invited by the Chinese government and the Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation for the “Silk Road” initiative in China, to be the only Arab and Saudi from the Middle East to express Arab women’s point of view. The “Silk Road” initiative includes more than 60 countries in Asia, Europe and Africa, covering a population of 4.4 billion, or 63 percent of the world population, with a combined economy of $21 trillion, or 29 percent of today’s global economy.

The Kingdom is considered China’s primary economic partner in the region, with yearly trade worth $70 billion.



Pictures from the Prophet Walk from the Makkah Mosque

A JUBILANT procession of thousands of members of the Islamic community made its way through the town’s streets this weekend as part of celebrations for one of the most important days in the Muslim calendar.

The annual Prophet Parade saw crowds carrying religious banners and singing prayers through the borough on Sunday November 17 for Mawlid un-Nabi to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.

Worshippers of all ages came from across the North of England, joining special guests from South Africa, Suriname, Nigeria, Pakistan, Kuwait and several European countries, to take part in the Bolton walk which is in its 30th year.

They were also joined by councillors from Bolton wards, members of Greater Manchester Police and residents from the wider Bolton community.

Prior to setting out the walkers assembled at the Makkah Mosque in Great Lever for prayers and food before making their way to the Ghosia Mosque in Caroline Street.

Mawlid processions are observed around the world with the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday being a public holiday in Muslim majority countries.





Lagos shuts churches, mosques, gives reason

November 17, 2019

Lagos State Government on Sunday closed down eight worship centres across the state for contravening environmental pollution regulations.

Dr Dolapo Fasawe, General Manager, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), who led the exercise, said that the facilities were closed down to save the people from health crisis that might arise from the activities of the centres.

The LASEPA boss said that there would be no hiding place for any religious organisation, which failed to operate within the ambit of the law, regardless of their faith.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the sealed facilities are located at 68, Old Ota Road, Orile Agege; 4, Ademola Oshinowo Street, Off Love Street, Ketu; 1 Dele Amuda Street, Lekki.

Others are 17, Ajileye Street, Ilaje Bariga; 39, Kusenla Road, Elegushi and Ajayi Bembe Street Abule Oja, Yaba, among others.

Fasawe said that mutual respect of views, culture and religion, which the annual tolerance day celebration symbolised, must be adhered to by all residents to foster peace.

She said that religious organisations were supposed to demonstrate good conduct, tolerance, brotherliness and good neighbourliness.

The general manager, however, regretted that the conduct of some overzealous churches and mosques had caused frictions in the society.

She assured residents of the state that LASEPA would not rest on its oars in bequeathing a good ambience to all inhabitants.

“Those recalcitrant organisations or worship centres, known to be disturbing the peace of Lagos residents, will face the full wrath of the law.

“In as much as the state government is positively disposed to the peaceful conduct of religion of choice by its citizens, it does not condone infringements on the rights of other residents in the name of religious activities.

“The agency is inundated with petitions and outcry from residents over the insensitivity and intolerance of some religious outlets in different parts of the state.

“LASEPA regrettably notes that several warnings issued to the management of these centres have not yield the result,” Fasawe said.

Fasawe explained that for the sealed facilities to be reopened, the leaders of those organisations must reach an agreement of compliance with the state and also satisfy other necessary conditions as might be prescribed by LASEPA.



Islamic group reacts as Lagos govt shuts churches, mosques

November 18, 2019

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has thrown its weight behind the war against noise pollution being waged by the Lagos State Government.

On Sunday, closed down eight worship centres across the state for contravening environmental pollution regulations.

Dr Dolapo Fasawe, General Manager, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), who led the exercise, said that there would be no hiding place for any religious organisation which failed to operate within the ambit of the law, regardless of their faith.

In a statement on Monday by MURIC Director, Ishaq Akintola, he disclosed that his office had received several complaints and petitions from many residents and associations across the state against some religious centres, clubs, hotels, etc.

He said: “We in MURIC back LASG’s move one hundred percent. There is an urgent need to inject a heavy dose of sanity in some religious centres in particular. The Lagos environment has been bastardised by tramadolised religiosity. Decorum is no longer respected in the way people preach.

“They raise noise level to the highest decibel and traumatize the neighbourhood. Dusk to dawn services rob Lagosians of sleep as preachers scream to high heaven.

“Worse still, the champions of articulated proselytisation take over commercial vehicles in the daytime preaching from one destination to another and making it impossible for the drivers to concentrate. This is not allowed in sane societies. It is a mark of religious fanaticism.

“The noisy night vigils and preaching inside commercial vehicles have been partly responsible for road accidents as motorists deprived of sleep and proper rest at night often doze off at the steering wheel, killing innocent Lagosians.

“In addition, noise pollution has been party responsible for poor academic performance among students as they find it difficult to study in an acrobatically religionised environment.

“Furthermore, this gymnastic spirituality has been responsible for the death of many sick Lagosians while the illness of several others have deteriorated due to their inability to get proper rest in their homes. We note with great interest that Lagos has been paying attention to this social cankerworm over the years.

“We therefore hail LASG for being consistent in the war against environmental pollution. We urge the Ministry of Environment to fight the battle resiliently no matter whose ox is gored. We advise all mosques in the state to obey the rules on noise pollution or face the music.

“Except on Friday during the khutbah (sermon), mosques should switch off their public address systems after the call to prayer (adhan). Other irrelevant messages are for those inside the mosque, not for those in their private homes. Lagosians reserve the right to enjoy their privacy. Your own rights stop where those of others begin.

“As we take a break, we charge LASEPA to visit the full wrath of the law on any mosque or church that violates the noise pollution law. There should be no sacred cows. People who refuse to do things properly do a lot of harm to society.

“We advise the commissioner to dust up his files and step up the petitions. Offenders will not take LASEPA serious unless action is taken against them. It is all in the interest of a better society.”





Pope to visit Hiroshima on anti-nuclear weapon mission

Nov 18, 2019

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis, who years ago hoped to be a missionary in Japan, travels to the sites of the world's only atomic attacks this week seeking a ban on nuclear weapons.

The Argentine pontiff, 82, flies to Asia on Tuesday, where he will first visit Thailand and then Japan, including the two cities destroyed by devastating US nuclear attacks during the Second World War.

Despite both countries having less than 0.6 percent Catholic populations, Francis is thirsty for interreligious dialogue with them.

He will arrive in Thailand on Wednesday before flying on to Japan on Saturday, where he will stay until November 26.

Sunday is set to be a marathon day with visits to Nagasaki and Hiroshima, where at least 74,000 people and 140,000 people respectively were killed by the atomic bombs attacks.

The August 6, 1945 bombing of Hiroshima and of Nagasaki three days later contributed to Japan's surrender and the end of the Second World War on August 15, months after Nazi Germany capitulated.

Father Yoshio Kajiyama, director of the Jesuit social centre in Tokyo, was born in Hiroshima shortly after the war and is eagerly awaiting the pope's anti-nuclear speech.

"My grandfather died the day of the bomb in Hiroshima, I never knew him. Four days later my aunt died when she was 15 years old," said the 64-year-old.

"If you grow up in Hiroshima, you can't forget the bomb."

The pope will make "as vigorous an appeal as possible in favour of concerted measures to completely eliminate nuclear weapons," Vatican number two Cardinal Pietro Parolin told the United Nations in September.

"Using atomic energy to wage war is immoral," the head of the world's 1.3 billion Catholics told Japanese television in September.

A previous member of Japan's diplomatic mission to the Vatican, Shigeru Tokuyasu, said he hopes the visit will pull the world back from "the globalisation of indifference" over nuclear weapons.

But, said Tokuyasu, the pope should avoid discussing the politically sensitive issue of nuclear energy.

Francis is als to meet victims of the devastating 2011 earthquake that struck northeastern Japan and the subsequent tsunami that between them killed 18,500 people and sparked the nuclear power catastrophe at Fukushima.

Francis is used to railing against countries that make money from weapons and has already voiced his fear of a nuclear war.

In January last year, he printed cards with a photo of a Nagasaki bomb victim, inscribing the words "the fruit of war" above his signature.

The 1945 photo, captured by American photographer Joe O'Donnell, showed a small boy standing ramrod straight carrying his dead younger brother on his back while waiting for his turn at a cremation site.

The late pope John Paul II visited Japan in 1981, where at Hiroshima's peace monument he pointed to war as "the work of man".

In August, the city of Hiroshima called on Japan to sign the UN treaty calling for a ban on nuclear weapons, something that all the world's nuclear powers have refused to do.

Japan, with its pacifist post-war constitution, adhered in 1967 to the principle of "not producing, possessing or allowing nuclear weapons on its territory," despite counting on the US nuclear umbrella for protection.

Before arriving in Thailand on Wednesday, the pope praised the "multiethnic nation" which "has worked to promote harmony and peaceful coexistence, not only among its habitants but throughout Southeast Asia." In a video message to the Thai people, the pope said he hoped to "strengthen ties of friendship" with Buddhists.

Since Francis' election six years ago, he has made two trips to Asia, visiting the Philippines and Sri Lanka in 2014, followed by Myanmar and Bangladesh in 2017.

On Thursday in Bangkok, the pontiff is to pay a visit to supreme patriarch Somdej Phra Maha Muneewong at a Buddhist temple.



Report: UK govt, military covered up war crimes in Afghanistan

Nov 18, 2019

LONDON: The UK government and military covered up credible evidence of war crimes by British soldiers against civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a probe by BBC and Sunday Times.

Leaks from two government-ordered inquiries into the conduct of troops in the conflicts implicated troops in the killing of children and torture of civilians, the investigation found. The allegations include murders by a soldier from the elite SAS unit, as well as deaths in custody, beatings, torture and sexual abuse of detainees by members of the Black Watch infantry unit.

Military detectives who unearthed evidence of the alleged war crimes told the newspaper and BBC that seniors commanders hid it “for political reasons”. “The ministry of defence had no intention of prosecuting any soldier of whatever rank he was unless it was absolutely necessary, and they couldn’t wriggle their way out of it,” an investigator told BBC. The MoD said the allegations were “untrue” and that the decisions of prosecutors and investigators were “independent” and involved “external oversight and legal advice”.

The accusations emerged from two war crimes inquiries which ended in 2017 without any prosecutions. Foreign secretary Dominic Raab told BBC that despite the lack of any prosecutions, it had “got the right balance” in ensuring “spurious claims” were not pursued.



Exeter Ask a Muslim event a success

Monday, November 18, 2019

AROUND 50 guests attended a coffee morning at the Mint Methodist Church in Exeter on Saturday, November 16, to "Ask a Muslim" anything they wanted to about Islam and Muslims.

The event was organised by Inclusive Mosque Exeter in partnership with the Devon Faith and Belief Forum as one of the Inter Faith Week 2019 events in the city.

Local Muslims from a range of backgrounds invited members of the public to go along and chat over refreshments with the aim of building bridges, dispelling myths and showing the diversity within Islam.

None of the Muslims present claimed to be experts on Islam but they were very willing to talk about their faith from their own perspective and answer questions as best they could.

Throughout the morning there was non-stop chatter and at the end of the event people were still enjoying each other's company and getting to know each other.





PML-Q in damage control mode after Pervaiz’s assertions

Amjad Mahmood

November 18, 2019

LAHORE: In an effort to control the ‘damage’ caused by recent statements of Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and cousin Chaudhry Shujaat Husain, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) says it is an ally of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and will remain so.

“No conspiracy theory to create differences among the allies in the government will succeed and those behind the bid will fail. We are government allies and will remain so, God willing. None can create misunderstanding (among us),” Mr Elahi, Speaker of the Punjab Assembly, said in a brief statement issued here on Sunday.

His statement comes hours after Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s assertion that the Q-League is no more a committed ally of the government as it had been before his Islamabad sit-in and that Mr Elahi had endorsed the JUI-F stance when he came as an emissary of the government during the protest.

Party is in spotlight after remarks in favour of Fazl, Nawaz

PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat had a day earlier stated that “naïve” advisers in the prime minister’s team were not giving Imran Khan the ‘right advice’ by urging the latter to use force for establishing the government writ during the JUI-F-led Azadi march.

The Q-League believed that the aggressive policy could have led to a clash with the protesters and made things worse for the PTI government. These inexperienced players, one of its leaders asserted, were also keeping the allies at bay from the prime minister.

Speaking at a function here, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar downplayed the “reservations” expressed by the Chaudhrys of Gujrat about the “naïve” cabinet members, saying such differences were common among allies the world over. He declared them [the Chaudhrys] as confident allies of the government.

Chaudhry Shujaat’s statement was not the only occasion that reflected of a difference of opinion among the allies.

In a TV interview the other day, Pervaiz Elahi alleged that a former head of a security agency had forced some prominent Q-Leaguers, including Jahangir Khan Tareen and Aleem Khan, to quit the party and join the Imran Khan-led PTI back in 2010.

In yet another TV appearance, he didn’t deny or clarify the comment made by the anchorperson that Mr Elahi had got stitched a sherwani [meaning that he is trying to become the chief minister of Punjab or the prime minister].

Mr Elahi, who is also former Punjab chief minister and had played a key role in winning majority for the PTI in the province during the government formation by making inroads into the opposition PML-N in 2018, emphasises that he and cousin Shujaat “have always talked with reason in view of prevailing political realities”.

Defending their role in defusing political tension during the JUI-F sit-in, he says that “our role was to prevent the clash [with the protesters]”. He adds that they had contacted Maulana Fazl during the sit-in “to save the country from political chaos and their step ultimately proved to be the right move”.

Likewise, he insists that “whatever we stated in the Nawaz Sharif case was in the interest of Prime Minister Imran Khan”.

However, observers see the soft corner of the Chaudhrys towards the Sharifs as a harbinger of jumping of the PTI government’s ship before it sinks.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement, another government ally, has also begun sharing its concerns about the future of the government and debating the benefits the MQM has so far gained in response to extending its support to the PTI’s federal government. MQM leader Khwaja Izharul Hasan feared in a media talk that the PTI government may not survive till next budget if it does not improve economic conditions of the country.



Delhi manufacturing ‘facts’ about terrorism, Kashmir situation: FO

November 18, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Sunday rejected the “unfounded remarks” made by the Indian external affairs minister in an interview with a French newspaper and during his interaction with certain other media outlets that the “situation is back to normal” in India-held Kashmir.

In a statement, the Foreign Office said the Indian minister’s outburst is yet another reflection of India’s characteristic hubris and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s well-known smear campaign against Pakistan.

The statement says it is deplorable that to further the RSS-BJP extremist ideological and nationalistic agenda, and to divert global attention from the gory reality in India-held Kashmir, senior Indian officials continue to manufacture “facts” both with regard to the issue of terrorism and the situation in the occupied valley. “If anything, Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav is the face of India’s “export” of terrorism to Pakistan,” it said.

Indian minister’s remarks that normalcy has returned to disputed territory rejected

It said that India’s frustration was evident from the fact that despite its relentless state-terrorism in held Kashmir for decades, it had failed to muzzle the peaceful voices of Kashmiri people and their demand for self-determination, promised to them in the United Nations Security Council resolutions.

“India also continues to be the safe haven for those preaching hate and carrying out hate crimes, including against its own minorities, with impunity and indeed under state patronage,” it said.

As regards the Indian minister’s farcical claim that the “situation is back to normal” in the occupied valley, the FO statement said the question is why this ‘normalcy’ is not visible to the outside world? “For India, there is no escape from the reality that its State-sponsored repression cannot break the will and indomitable spirit of the Kashmiri people.”

The statement said India would be well-advised to move away from its obsession with Pakistan and also from its continued denial of reality.

It said Pakistan, for its part, would continue to highlight the plight of the people of the occupied valley and reiterate its call for the peaceful resolution of the international dispute of Jammu & Kashmir.

It said as a country that had suffered the most from the cross-border terrorism, Pakistan would continue to contribute constructively to regional and global efforts to promote peace and prosperity in the region and beyond.



Nawaz LHC verdict: PM Imran directs legal team to prepare report

November 17, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the government's  legal team to prepare and present a report on the Lahore High Court's (LHC) verdict pertaining to the removal of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's name from the Exit Control List (ECl).

Sources said that the legal team would present the report in the upcoming session of the cabinet meeting. The prime minister and his cabinet members will prepare a strategy on how to deal with the situation during the meeting as well, as per sources.

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Saturday permitted to remove former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's name from the Exit Control List (ECL) without any conditions for a time period of four weeks.

On Friday, the LHC called the plea admissible regarding the removal of former premier Nawaz Sharif’s name from the ECL on a conditional basis — the government had said it would allow a 'one-time permission' provided Nawaz Sharif deposited surety bonds worth Rs7-7.5 billion.

In its decision, the LHC said that in case Nawaz's health doesn't improve then the time-period can be extended, adding that the government officials will be able to contact Nawaz through the Pakistani embassy.

During the hearing today, the LHC presented petitioner Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the federal government’s counsels a proposed draft on the undertaking.

The High Court earlier said that it would create its own draft of Shehbaz’s undertaking guaranteeing the return of his brother — Nawaz Sharif — to Pakistan, after the siblings and the government's counsels could not reach an agreement on the phrasing of the draft and its terms.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has decided to cancel official and party engagements for two days and will spend his weekend in Bani Gala along with his family, sources said.

According to sources, the official and party schedule of the prime minister for Saturday and Sunday was cancelled. The prime minister did not preside or hold any meetings on Saturday and it is expected he will not take any meetings today either.

The prime minister’s meetings and party meeting are generally held at his Bani Gala residence.

Last year, while addressing a ceremony marking the 100 days of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government in power, the prime minister had said he had taken only a single holiday since coming into the government.”



Police arrest suspects for robbing man inside mosque

KARACHI: Police on Sunday arrested three suspects accused of robbing a man inside a mosque.

According to reports, the three suspects identified as Iqbal, Rizwan and Muneer looted Rs2.5 lac from a man inside a mosque in Karachi’s Bahadurabad area.

SSP Nauman Siddiqui said that the suspects followed their victim who was coming out of the bank and heading to the mosque. The suspects chased him there and robbed him inside the mosque.

CCTV footage of the incident was subsequently uploaded on the internet.

Earlier in September, Police arrested a gang of robbers accused of robbing shopkeepers by hypnotizing them.

According to reports, Ferozabad police arrested a 60-year-old man and his son for running a three-member gang robbing shopkeepers using hypnotism and other deceptive tactics.

Police say one of the gang members, a woman, managed to avoid arrest as she left for her native country, Iran, before the raid.




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