Christians from areas such as Maaloula and al-Raqa in Syria have been targeted by al-Qaeda-linked groups, activists say. Above, Syrians from the Christian town of Maaloula attend mass in Damascus. [Louai Beshara/AFP]
Al-Qaeda-Inspired Women's Battalion in Syria Draws Outcry
Saudis Fight Saudis in Syria, Militants Away from ’Jihad’
Islamic scholars condemn jihadist "Jizya" tax on Syrian Christians
Saudi sentences 3 suspected militants to death for 2003 bombing
8 shot dead in Egypt anti-coup protests
Riyadh gives jihadists 15 day ultimatum to return
OIC names envoy to Central African Republic
Syria’s Assad hails Russia’s takeover of Crimea
3,500-year-old statue of pharaoh’s daughter found in Egypt
‘Bangladesh Islamist groups a barrier to women’s emancipation’ say rights activists
26 Taliban militants killed or injured in Afghan military operations
PM Sheikh Hasina: Women, realise your rights
Sudan fundamentalists call for jihad branding France a ‘criminal’
Mauritania shuts Islamic charity linked to Muslim Brotherhood
Fears mount that Boko Haram could bring Nigeria to the brink
Lawyers call for reform in Nigerian Sharia law
Libyan port rebels start exporting oil – report
24 people killed in Yemen violence
Ankara discusses closure of Gülen schools with Pakistan
Al-Qaeda breakaway group re-enters Damascus refugee camp, ‘abused’ Palestinians
Israel prepared to give up 'some' illegal settlements
Stepping out of Netanyahu’s shadow – but still enjoying the shade
The Sultan of Brunei Intends to Stone Adulterers
Rangers arrested for killing Muslim children in Thailand
Court was compassionate towards Anwar with 5-year sentence, says Ibrahim Ali
Malala campaigns for silent protest in solidarity with her peers who remain voiceless
Russian Orthodox Church Becomes Tool for Retaining Control over North Caucasus Muslims
UN says almost all Muslims have fled Central African capital
David Cameron: 'We Cannot Rest Until Someone Is Prosecuted For FGM
Germans mull over opening solar school in Pakistan
UN slams using children as soldiers in conflicts
Give multiple-entry visas to J&K citizens: India proposal to Pakistan
Muzaffarnagar riots: 10 Muslim leaders charged by SIT
Ayodhya: SC allows replacing of tarpaulin at makeshift temple
‘Political, judicial vacuum in Fata provides space to militants’
Talks should be held with all militant groups: Maulana Fazl
Intel agencies nab 2 militant commanders in Peshawar
TTP panel not against army involvement
PML-N high ranks, divided on operation vs dialogue in NWA
Rangers arrest 11 suspects in targeted operation
Chances for success of Government-Taliban talks seems bleak: Shujat
‘US want Pakistan to improve ties with neighbours’
Barack Obama proposes 18 pc drop in aid to Pakistan for fiscal 2015
US State Department: Recognition of 'Jewish state' not a precondition to peace talks
Michele Bachmann: Jewish groups sold out Israel for Obama
US express concern on freedoms of expression, assembly in Egypt
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
March 8, 2014
A new phenomenon emerged last month in Syria's al-Raqqa province, where the al-Qaeda inspired "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) had been battling other opposition groups including al-Qaeda's branch in Syria Jabhat al-Nusra: the formation of an ISIL armed women's battalion.
"The rejection of ISIL is growing in al-Raqqa, especially after the formation of the women's battalion," said Halim Moatez, a retired teacher and province resident.
In late January, the ISIL announced that it has opened the door for women to join ISIL's all-female battalion in Syria, which goes by two names, al-Khansaa and Umm Rayyan, after its leader.
The announcement came soon after ISIL members released four statements imposing restrictions on residents in areas under its control in al-Raqqa province, including clear threats of punishment for violators, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The first restricts the movement of women and imposes a dress code on them; the second bans music and pictures of men or women in shops; the third bans the sale of cigarettes and Shisha; and the fourth demands that all men attend all prayers at a mosque, the monitoring group said.
On March 4th, Al-Arabiya satellite news channel broadcast a statement by al-Raqqa resident Mohammed al-Raqqawi, who said al-Khansaa raided two girls' schools in the province the previous week, arresting 10 girls between the ages of 15 and 17 and flogging them for violating the "laws" set by ISIL for women's attire.
The violations ranged from "showing the eyebrows from underneath the veil" to "wearing a hair curler", according to Al-Arabiya.
ISIL women can be seen in the city "patrolling commercial areas on foot, or conducting patrols in white vans camouflaged in mud driven by an ISIL member," said Moatez. They also search women at ISIL checkpoints at entrances to the city.
The women of al-Khansaa reportedly wear black Abayas that reveal only their eyes, and follow women and girls at markets, punishing those who do not wear the veil or who walk unaccompanied by a male guardian.
Moatez said he personally witnessed three cases of flogging carried out by the women's battalion on girls who did not wear the veil in public, according to standards set by ISIL.
"The sight of ISIL women wearing black Abayas that cover the entire body is unusual in the region," Moatez said. "The issue of headscarves is left to the personal convictions of girls and women and is not imposed, even though the people of al-Raqqa are religious."
Al-Khansaa is under the command of a Tunisian woman named Umm Rayyan, who is assisted by two other women named Umm Hamza and Umm Muhajir, he said. The battalion is based in al-Karnak Hotel in the city of al-Raqqa.
'BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE'
"The people of the area are between a rock and hard place," Moatez told Al-Shorfa. "The first is ISIL and the actions of its members, which are getting worse by the day, especially after the emergence of the women's battalion. The second is their fear that the girls and women of al-Raqqa will be subject to revenge attacks by ISIL if resistance to ISIL grows."
"Many ISIL members have married girls from al-Raqqa and forced them to take up arms, and thus it becomes difficult for local residents to fight the women's battalion because it may include girls and women from the region," he said.
Initially, the battalion comprised the wives, daughters and sisters of foreign jihadists who joined ISIL, Moatez said, adding that later it included local girls whose families were pressured or offered cash, given the difficult financial situation many people in al-Raqqa face.
"Pressure was also exerted on local ISIL members to enlist their female relatives to join the battalion," said Moatez, who estimates that around 100 women carry arms and fight with the battalion.
In January, ISIL circulated a video via social networking sites showing a group of masked ISIL women. Two of the women in the video spoke in German and French, while the others spoke Arabic.
"The video is clear evidence of the presence of females and their activities in ISIL, and reveals the multiple nationalities of women in the group," said researcher Sami Ghait of Al-Sharq Centre for Regional and Strategic Studies.
Extremist groups in Syria, particularly ISIL, use such videos to attract more recruits from Arab and European countries for what they describe as "jihad" in Syria, he said.
He said he expected increasing tensions between al-Raqqa residents and ISIL elements, "which is why the group has increased its systemic repression, and proceeded to marry some of its members to girls from local tribes to avoid confrontation".
This is not the first time al-Qaeda has used women in terrorist acts, said strategy analyst Maj. Gen. Yahya Mohammed Ali, who is retired from the Egyptian army.
In Iraq's Anbar province, a Saudi woman called Umm al-Meqdad was arrested in January for serving as ISIL's "women's emir" and recruiting women from the province for the group, Al-Masdar News reported.
In Afghanistan, Taliban extremists exploit women sexually to attract young recruits, Ali added.
Most female ISIL members are either illiterate, or "grew up in an environment receptive to extremist ideas, and they are influenced by the self-serving fatwas issued by these groups", he said.
March 8, 2014
Slaiman al-Sbeie, Saudi, is a former ISIL fighter that Sbeie abandoned the militant groups in Syria after he realized that the 'Jihad' which they claimed against the regime contradicts with the realities of atonement and internal clashes among them.
The Saudi youth called on all the Saudis not to join the militant groups in Syria because "what they find in reality contradicts with what is conveyed to them via media outlets.
Sbeie added that the militant groups in Syria do not fight the regime, yet atone each other to start internal clashes, as between ISIL and Nusra or between other groups.
What is more dangerous is that the Saudis are fighting the Saudis in Syria, according to Sbeie.
He also pointed out that the largest number of foreign militants is Tunisians.
Syrians of all sects and Islamic scholars are decrying new rules imposed by the "Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) in al-Raqqa which call for Christians to pay "Jizya" tax and hold religious rituals behind closed doors in return for their safety.
Last week, ISIL posted a list of 12 rules on jihadist forums and social networking sites, saying they apply to Christians in al-Raqqa, which is under the control of the al-Qaeda-inspired group.
Al-Raqqa resident Mahmoud Leila, a Muslim, said he is now ashamed to face his Christian neighbour.
"How will I be able to interact with him as before?" he asked. "I feel true shame and disgrace from the actions of these groups."
"This matter is condemned by the people of al-Raqqa, and by Muslims before Christians because it is offensive to the beautiful history among the people, to Islam and Muslims, as well as the Syrian revolution," he told Al-Shorfa.
Leila, who previously owned a building supplies store but is now out of work, said some prominent figures and elders tried to negotiate with ISIL to stop the tax, but were told unequivocally that "any al-Raqqa resident who opposes the imposition of Sharia will be considered an apostate and God's Sharia will be applied to him".
The rules obligate every wealthy Christian man to pay 17 grams of gold, a middle-income Christian man to pay half that amount and every lower-income Christian man to pay a quarter of that.
They also prohibit the construction of churches and convents, the display of Christian symbols such as crosses outside churches, the ringing of church bells and public prayer.
The rules ban Christians from consuming alcohol in public, selling alcohol or pork to Muslims, from "carrying out hostile actions against ISIL" and from deviating from the Sharia dress code.
Church Bells, Call to Prayer 'Often Rose Together'
"I never imagined that I would one day be subjected to what they call the provisions of Islamic Sharia in this manner, which is more like imprisonment, suppression of personal freedoms and prohibition of the expression of religious beliefs," said Semaan al-Mallouhi, a retired Christian resident of al-Raqqa.
The relationship between Christians and Muslims in al-Raqqa and its environs is based on mutual respect, he told Al-Shorfa.
"No Muslim had once complained about the sound of church bells nor had a Christian complained about the call to prayer via loudspeakers, but rather the sounds often rose together when a city resident passed away, be he Muslim or Christian," he added.
Al-Mallouhi said the restrictions on Christians in al-Raqqa began last year with the arrival of extremist Islamist groups, including ISIL and Jabhat al-Nusra (JAN), in the city.
In September, ISIL fighters entered the Greek Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation and torched its religious furnishings, AFP reported.
They did the same at the Armenian Catholic Church of the Martyrs, also in al-Raqqa, and destroyed a cross atop its clock tower, the news agency said.
Al-Raqqa was once home to more than 300 Christian families, but "now that number has dropped dramatically to no more than 50 families", al-Mallouhi said.
In past months al-Raqqa received many Syrian Christians fleeing areas such as Deir Ezzor, al-Qamishli, al-Hasakeh and Ras al-Ain and seeking safety in the city, he said.
ISIL has exploited their circumstances by offering them protection for money under the cover of "Jizya", al-Mallouhi said.
'Jizya' Has No Place in a Modern Civil State
The imposition of "jizya" on Christians in Syria is nothing but "a new fad, one of many launched by terrorist groups stemming from al-Qaeda, which have no legal authority to issue such edicts and rulings", said Sheikh Abdul Zahir Shehata, a lecturer at Egypt's Al-Azhar faculty of Sharia and law.
This imposition is "a form of theft that uses religion as a cover", Shehata told Al-Shorfa.
"Jizya" is not a pillar of Islamic law, he said: It emerged during the Islamic expansion era and was paid by non-Muslims who were capable of fighting in return for protection, while Zakat was collected from Muslims, with proceeds going to the Muslim treasury where public funds were held.
"ISIL contradicts itself," Shehata said. "On the one hand they say they are implementing the provisions of Islamic Sharia, including the 'Jizya', however the Islamic state must be a full-fledged state and recognised by its citizens and subjects, which is not the case in the areas where ISIL is imposing its control by force and bloodshed."
"Jizya" runs contrary to the modern civil state, which takes all people under its wing and whose principles are based on justice and equality amongst all regardless of race or religion, he said.
"The imposition of 'jizya' under these circumstances and conditions is unacceptable by Sharia, and whoever does it is merely forcing people to pay money in a manner that is more like the protection rackets gangsters impose on people in the areas under their control," he said.
The Rev. François Habib, a priest from al-Mansoura in al-Raqqa province who is residing in Amman, Jordan, said al-Raqqa is not the only region in which "jizya" has been imposed on Christians.
It also was imposed in al-Hasakeh where ISIL seized control in November, he said.
"Unfortunately, armed takfiri groups launched assaults on Christians, especially in al-Qamishli, Damascus, Tartous, Yabrud, Homs, Aleppo, al-Raqqa and Maaloula," he told Al-Shorfa.
"It is unfortunate these things are happening in Syria, for Christians make up 10% of the total population and are spread throughout Syria and integrated into the fabric of Syrian society, to such an extent that the Christian is indistinguishable from the Muslim," he said.
Riyadh: A Saudi Arabian court has sentenced three men to death and jailed two others for up to 17 years for their part in a series of militant attacks including the deadly bombing of a foreign housing compound in 2003, state news agency SPA reported.
SPA said that, among other charges, a man identified by the court as “suspect number one” was convicted of involvement in the bombing of the Al Muhaya compound, where expatriates lived, in the capital Riyadh, one of a series of Al Qaida attacks in the kingdom.
Saudi Arabia faced a militant insurgency from 2003 to 2006 in which Al Qaida targeted residential compounds for foreign workers and Saudi government facilities, killing dozens of people.
Full report at:
World Bulletin / News Desk
March 8, 2014
At least eight anti-coup protesters were killed in clashes with Egyptian security forces and unidentified individuals on Friday amid fresh demonstrations across the country by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.
According to eyewitnesses and medical sources, seven were killed in eastern Cairo's Ain Shams district – including two who were shot during clashes with security forces – while several others were injured.
Eyewitnesses said security forces had used live ammunition to break up the demonstrations.
The Interior Ministry, for its part, urged reporters to exercise caution, claiming it had received reports that Muslim Brotherhood protesters were using firearms against police.
An eighth protester was reported killed in the Nile Delta province of Sharqiya during clashes with unidentified individuals, a medical source said.
Riyadh: Saudi Arabia on Friday called on its citizens fighting abroad to return to the kingdom in 15 days or face imprisonment.
The ultimatum was an extension of a month-long deadline given to Saudis fighting outside the country to return home, the interior ministry said.
Those failing to comply face penalties of three to 20 years in prison.
The kingdom’s authorities want to deter Saudis from joining rebels in Syria and posing a security risk once they return home.
The statement, carried by official Saudi Press Agency, also designated as terrorist groups such as Al Qaida’s branches in Yemen and Iraq, the Syrian Al Nusra Front, Saudi Hezbollah, Yemen’s Al Houthis, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
Iyad Madani, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), has appointed a special envoy to the Central African Republic (CAR).
A press statement released by the OIC said Madani has chosen Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, a former minister for foreign affairs of the Republic of Senegal, to be the special envoy for CAR.
An experienced mediator, a distinguished academic and a veteran politician, Gadio had served his country as the chief diplomat for close to a decade from early 2000 to late 2009. He is currently the president of an independent think tank called the Institute for Pan-African Strategies based in Dakar, Senegal.
Associated Press | Damascus | March 8, 2014
Syrian President Bashar Assad said that Russia’s military takeover of Crimea reflects President Vladimir Putin’s “wise policy” and his efforts to restore “security and stability” in Ukraine after an “attempted coup.”
In a letter addressed to the Russian president, Assad claims Putin’s move in eastern Ukraine prevented “terrorist extremists” from taking power in Kiev.
Assad’s comments, his first since the escalation of the Ukrainian crisis last month, were carried by the Syrian state news service late on Thursday.
CAIRO - Archaeologists in Egypt have found a nearly 3,500-year-old statue of the daughter of pharaoh Amenhotep III in the famed temple city of Luxor, the antiquities ministry said on Friday.
An Egyptian-European team uncovered the statue of princess Iset, 170 centimetres tall and 52 cm wide, during renovation work at the Amenhotep III mortuary temple on Luxor's western bank, antiquities minister Mohamed Ibrahim said in a statement.
"The statue is part of a 14-metre-high (46-foot) alabaster sculpture of Amenhotep III that was at the entrance of the temple sanctuary," team head Dr Hourig Sourouzian said.
The sculpture features the 18th Dynasty ruler on his throne, his hands on his knees, his daughter standing between his legs, wearing a wig and a long tunic and holding a neckless in her right hand.
The Islamist groups have stayed active in recent past to slow down the process of gaining gender equality
At a time when Bangladesh has been making great strides in ensuring women’s emancipation, Islamist groups are spreading propaganda to constrain the progress achieved so far, women’s rights activists have claimed.
Although Bangladesh has achieved praise from international organisations for the country’s performance in recent years in ensuring women’s emancipation, the Islamist groups have stayed active to slow down the process of gaining gender equality, they said.
To address the situation, the Nari Nirjaton Pratirodh Committee, a body formed by several women’s rights bodies, will mark the International Women’s Day placing a demand for a ban on all Islamist parties to establish gender equality.
At least 26 Taliban militants were killed or injured following military operations by Afghan national security forces in various provinces of the country.
The operations were conducted during the past 24 hours by Afghan national police, Afghan national army and Afghan intelligence – National Directorate of Security (NDS) operatives.
Interior ministry of Afghanistan confirmed 19 Taliban militants were killed, 7 militants were injured and 6 others were detained during the operations.
According to a statement released by the interior ministry, the operations were conducted in Nangarhar, Baghlan, Faryab, Kandahar, Herat and Farah provinces of Afghanistan.
The statement further added that Afghan security forces discovered and seized weapons, ammunition and explosives during the operations.
Pm Sheikh Hasina: Nobody to be allowed to play with people’s fate
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on yesterday said the government would not allow anyone to play with the fate of people of the country.
“Many have conspired against the country but failed. Nobody will be allowed to play with the fate of Bangladeshi people,” said Hasina, also the president of the Awami League.
The premier was addressing a rally at the Suhrawardy Udyan organised by her party to mark the historic March 7.
On March 7, 1971 the founding father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman gave his epoch-making speech at the Dhaka’s Race Course Maidan – now the Suhrawardy Udyan. His fiery speech led the nation to the decisive struggle for independence.
The prime minister on Friday arrived at the rally venue around 4:30pm. Thousands of party leaders and activists thronged the venue.
KHARTOUM - About 300 fundamentalist Muslims in Sudan branded France a "criminal" and called for jihad during a Friday rally in support of Muslims in the Central African Republic, a reporter saw.
"France is the chief criminal in Central Africa," said one sign carried by the protesters, many of them bearded, outside the main mosque in central Khartoum.
"Muslim countries have to boycott France," said another of the banners which were written in Arabic, French and English.
The protesters came from various Muslim groups, shouting "Jihad!" and "Allahu Akbar! (God is greatest)".
Two thousand French and 6,000 African peacekeepers have been deployed to Central Africa, which borders Sudan, on a mission to halt sectarian killings.
Nouakchott — The Mauritanian government has ordered the closure of several Islamic charities for "overstepping their mandate", a security official said on Friday, including an organisation with links to the Muslim Brotherhood.
No official explanation has been given for the crackdown but ministers made the decision after holding a cabinet meeting on Thursday to discuss security issues and "the consequences of past excesses on the stability of the country", the official told AFP.
Authorities sealed off premises across the country belonging to the Association for the Future of Preaching, Culture and Education (AFPCE), a charity run by Mohamed El-Hacen Ould Dedaw, who is widely referred to as "the spiritual father of the Muslim Brotherhood in Mauritania".
Copyright © 2014 AFP. All rights reserved.
Nearly daily bombings are devastating northeastern Nigeria in what looks to be the bloodiest year since Boko Haram, a loose coalition of armed fighters, began organizing in 2002.
Boko Haram is thought responsible for killing at least 1,300 people in the past two months and more than 130 in the past five days alone. There appears to be no end in sight to the violent uprising, and continuing escalation of the conflict is likely, experts say.
The Abuja government’s response to the violence, which has been raging since 2009, has been ineffective at best. Some say the state of emergency, in place since May of last year, and the subsequent influx of security forces has only increased tension. Government troops have carried out extrajudicial killings and torture of suspected Boko Haram members in past crackdowns.
Kano - Two Nigerian men sentenced to have a hand amputated each for theft have had their convictions overturned, in the latest acquittals to raise questions about standards in the Islamic justice system.
Taxi drivers Nasiru Abubakar and Anas Mohammed were freed by the Sharia appeal court in the northern city of Sokoto on 2 March, which ruled there were procedural errors in their 2010 trial.
The pair, both 25, had spent three years behind bars and were unaware that they could challenge the conviction and sentence until a prison official took up their case with the state government.
"The [appeal] judge picked holes with the judgement of the lower court, which he said was not in conformity with the provisions of Islamic Sharia law, as a result of which the two young men were discharged and acquitted," court clerk Bube Lawwali told AFP.
A group of armed protesters who have been occupying oil ports in eastern Libya said they have started exporting oil, Reuters reports. Their first shipment is going by tanker under a North Korean flag. “We started exporting oil. This is our first shipment,” said a spokesman for the protesters. Earlier on Saturday, Officials at the state-run National Oil Corp (NOC) confirmed that the vessel was docked at the Es-Sider port, which was controlled by the group demanding autonomy and a greater share of the country's oil wealth. The unnamed NOC official said that the company informed the Libyan government and defense ministry “so they can take action,” and added that the crew of the Morning Glory tanker “are trying to buy oil illegally.”
At least 24 people were killed in two days of clashes between tribesmen and Shiite Houthi rebels in the northern Yemeni province of al-Jawf, eyewitnesses said Saturday.
Witnesses said 17 Houthis were killed in the clashes, which erupted on Thursday after Shiite rebels stopped a member of Bin Nawf tribe on a road between al-Hazm and al-Maslub districts in al-Jawf.
Seven tribesmen were also killed and 25 others injured in the violence, the eyewitnesses said.
According to witnesses, guns had fallen silent in al-Jawf late on Friday only after Houthis implored a presidential mediation committee to intervene and convince Bin Nawf tribesmen to stop fighting.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called on Pakistan’s provincial Punjab administration to shut down its schools linked to the Fethullah Gülen movement.
“The same thing [the closure of schools] could happen in Pakistan. The chief minister of the Punjab province will meet me tomorrow [Friday] night,” Erdoğan said in a televised interview late March 6, indicating that the government’s campaign to rein in the activities of the Gülen movement would continue abroad.
The meeting between Erdoğan and Shahbaz Sharif was set to take place late March 7 in Istanbul. In his TV interview, Erdoğan said the only topic of the meeting would be the activities of these schools in Pakistan. There are 18 Gülen-affiliated schools in Pakistan under the name Pak-Turk schools.
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants detained and “abused” Palestinians at the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus, a group allied with the Syrian government said. The militants returned to Yarmouk days after Al-Nusra re-entered despite a truce.
A spokesman for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC), said the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – an Al-Qaeda breakaway group – returned to the besieged mostly-Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp on Thursday. The action follows the violent reemergence of Al-Nusra, the Islamic group in Syria endorsed by Al-Qaeda, in the area just days earlier.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would give up "some settlements" in occupied Palestinian land to help secure a peace agreement but would limit as much as he could the number of enclaves removed.
The settlements are a key issue in peace talks renewed under Washington's tutelage in July after a three-year impasse. Little progress has been reported though U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said he hopes to publish a framework for a deal soon.
"It is clear that some of the settlements, some of them, will not be included in the agreement. That's clear. Everyone understands that. I will ensure the number will be as small as possible, as far as is possible, if we get there," Netanyahu said.
Deputy Minister Ofir Akunis, a fan of ‘House of Cards,’ seems to have learned how to play both sides from the TV show’s politician antihero.
‘Of course I watch House of Cards. It’s appropriate, don’t you think?” Deputy Minister for Liaison with the Knesset Ofir Akunis said of Netflix’s dark political drama that seems to be on everyone in the legislature’s lips in recent weeks, while preparing two cups of his favorite nonalcoholic cocktail of grapefruit juice and soda water for himself and his guest.
Frank Underwood, the House-majority- whip-turned-vice-president, may only be a television caricature of a cool and calculating politician, too slick and ruthless to be true, but Akunis seems to have learned at least one thing from him: How to play a double game.
Throughout his first term in the Knesset, Akunis was primarily known for being Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s mouthpiece, following multiple stints working in the Likud leader’s office. If Akunis said something, chances were Netanyahu agreed. If Akunis proposed a bill, you could count on the prime minister supporting it.
A new Sharia penal code for the Southeast Asian sultanate is set to include death by stoning, severing of limbs and flogging
On Thursday, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei responded to international criticism regarding next month’s introduction of Sharia law by claiming “people outside of Brunei should respect us in the same way that we respect them.”
The 67-year-old said that integrating Islamic diktats into the Penal Code would form “part of the great history of our nation” and provide “special guidance” from God. He had earlier warned that subjects who voiced dissent can “no longer be given the liberty to continue with their mockery” and would be charged with slandering the monarch.
In many ways, Brunei is the ultimate paradox. Ranked fifth in the world for per capita GDP — one place above the U.S. — its 400,000-odd population enjoys a human development score a smidgen below Great Britain.
The arrest of two paramilitary rangers for the violent murder of three children in Thailand's Muslim south has done little to quell scepticism among local villagers, many of whom suspect authorities of involvement in the killing.
Police said this week that the arrests confirm that the deaths were caused by a desire for “personal revenge,” and not linked to a separatist insurgency that has been plaguing the region for over 100 years.
“Time and again, the officials have been using this line that the state is not behind the killings in the region. But in this instance, the case is so politically charged that they thought they had to do something, and this something was producing a suspect,” Don Pathan, a local expert on the southern insurgency, told the Anadolu Agency on Saturday.
Malay rights group Perkasa has described the conviction and sentence meted out to opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for sodomy as humane.
Its president Datuk Seri Ibrahim Ali (pic) said the five-year jail term imposed by the Court of Appeal yesterday was a light punishment as the de facto PKR leader should have been given a deterrent sentence.
"Anwar should consider himself lucky as the judges have been compassionate," he told The Malaysian Insider.
Anwar was allowed a stay of sentence pending appeal to the Federal Court provided he posted RM10,000 bail.
PTI | Mar 8, 2014
LONDON: Pakistani teenage rights activist Malala Yousafzai, who survived a Taliban assassination attempt in 2012, will go silent for 24 hours on April 17 to show solidarity with children whose voices are silenced.
"It's our turn to affect a positive change, to stand up for equality and to empower others to join us. On 17 April, I will go silent to stand in solidarity with my peers who remain voiceless," she told an audience of thousands of schoolchildren and teachers at the 'WE Day' youth empowerment event in London on Friday.
She wants young people around the world to join her in the day of silence to highlight the need for the world to listen to children's voices.
The event 'We Are Silent' will mark the end of a four-day social media campaign organized by the Malala Fund and social activist charity Free The Children to raise the plight of children who are suffering and who are not heard.
It has been obvious for years already that Moscow’s North Caucasus policy has been coordinated by one of the Kremlin’s working groups on the region. It has been unclear, however, whether this Kremlin working group on the North Caucasus was actually pursuing the same policy for the entire region or adjusting it according to local peculiarities and conditions. In fact, it now appears that there are different sets of policies for the north-eastern Caucasus and the north-western Caucasus, and that the policies toward North Ossetia–Alania and Abkhazia are also separate.
The differences between Russia’s policies toward the north-eastern and the north-western Caucasus could be seen in the anti-Caucasian pressure campaign that was organized by the Kremlin throughout the country (www.magas.ru/content/khronika-sobytii-dpni-fsb-natsionalisty-antikavkazskaya-isteriya). Russian fascists clearly divided these two sub-regions of the North Caucasus: in proposing the expulsion of Caucasians from Russia, they only advocated that natives of the north-eastern Caucasus republics—Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia—be singled out for such treatment (http://www.nr2.ru/voting/218.html).
The Jamestown Foundation's
GENEVA, March 7 (Reuters) - Fewer than 1,000 remain of more than 100,000 Muslims who once lived in the capital of the Central African Republic, after a campaign of violence by Christian militias, the U.N. aid chief said on Friday.
With 650,000 people displaced by the religious conflict, Valerie Amos said the United Nations had received much less than a fifth of the $551 million it asked for in December to provide food, medical care and shelter.
"The demography of CAR is changing, from a situation where you had 130,000 to 145,000 Muslims in Bangui, to where you had around 10,000 in December," Amos told a news conference.
David Cameron: 'We Cannot Rest Until Someone Is Prosecuted For Female Genital Mutilation'
David Cameron has vowed to make 2014 the year Britain will “end violence and discrimination against women” by stepping up action on FGM, forced marriage and unfair workplaces.
In a speech to mark International Women’s Day, he said the country would not rest until someone has been prosecuted for the “disgusting” practice of female genital mutilation.
He promised to use Britain’s “moral authority” of its overseas aid record to demand better rights for women in developing countries, adding that women must be free to marry whom they like and manage their own finances.
“This is the resolution I make on this International Women’s Day,” he told an audience of high-flying women at a Downing Street reception. “Let’s redouble our efforts in politics, in business, in every aspect of national life, to end discrimination and bring about equality.”
March 08, 2014
Germans mull over opening solar school in Pakistan BERLIN- Chief executive of the German Solar Energy Society,Dr. Uwe Hartmann called on the Federal minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, Muhammad Barjees Tahir today.
He briefed the minister about various activities of the society being undertaken by it to promote new sustainable energy conversion techniques and energy-saving technologies. He said that the major aspect of society's work was education and spreading information about renewable energies. Federal Minister said that Pakistan had been facing acute shortage of electricity and it had hampered the economic development badly. The Federal government is striving hard to overcome this energy crisis and is also trying to maintain a balanced energy mix to keep the average price of electricity per unit as low as possible, he added. The minister informed about various alternative energy projects including wind and solar, which were being installed in the country.
IANS | Mar 8, 2014
The UN security council Friday unanimously adopted a resolution strongly condemning the recruitment of children in armed conflicts and attacks against schools and hospitals.
The endorsement came a day after the launch of the "Children, Not Soldiers" campaign, initiated by Leila Zerrougui, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon's special representative for children and armed conflict, and the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) to end the recruitment and use of children in conflict by 2016, Xinhua reported.
Fifteen years have passed since the UN security council adopted its first resolution specifically dedicated to protecting children from armed conflict. In Friday's resolution, the UN body made the first reference to the use of schools by armed forces.
Express News Service | New Delhi | March 8, 2014
In a bid to encourage people-to-people contact, India has proposed multiple-entry visas for people of J&K in a meeting between officials of India and Pakistan to discuss cross-LoC Confidence Building Measures (CBMs).
Spokesperson for the External Affairs Ministry, Syed Akbaruddin, said Friday that India has tabled proposals to improve cross-LoC trade and travel connectivity, and the demand for Skardu-Kargil bus service was reiterated.
To facilitate movement of people from J&K, it was suggested that a booklet be issued with multiple-entry visas, Akbaruddin said.
MUZAFFARNAGAR: BSP MP Kadir Rana, two party MLAs and former UP minister Saeed-uz-Zama of Congress are among 10 persons charged by the SIT probing the Muzaffarnagar riots for provoking communal tension with inflammatory speeches during a Muslim community panchayat.
The charge sheet was filed in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Narender Kumar by the Special Investigation team on Friday in connection with the alleged hate speeches made in Khalapar locality of the city on August 30, 2013 by the accused in defiance of prohibitory orders clamped following tension in Kawal village in the district, sources said.
Apart from Rana, the others chargesheeted are BSP MLA from Charthawal Noor Saleem Rana, party MLA from Miranpur Maulana Jamil, Congress leader Saeed-uz-Zama, his son Salman Saeed, city board member Asad Zama Ansari, ex-member of the city board Naushad Qureshi, trader Ahsan Qureshi, Sultan Mushir and Naushad, they said.
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has given permission for carrying out work relating to replacing old tarpaulin and ropes with new one at the makeshift temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya.
A bench headed by justice S S Nijjar granted the permission after the Centre and other parties in the dispute did not raise any objection.
The apex court had admitted several petitions challenging the Allahabad high court verdict of three-way division of the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya on September 30, 2010.
The apex court on May 9, 2011 had dubbed as "strange" the high court's verdict and had stayed its operation saying none of the parties had demanded partition of the land.
While ordering status quo at the site, which means that prayers at Ram Lalla's makeshift temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya would be going on as usual, the court had restrained any kind of religious activity on the adjacent 67 acre land, which had been taken over by the Centre.
ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a conference on Friday called for extension of law of land to Federally Administered Tribal Area (Fata) asserting that political and judicial vacuum has provided space to militants.
Politicians, legal experts and researchers on Fata here at a conference on: Introducing Local Bodies’ Elections in Tribal Areas unanimously agreed that peace in the troubled tribal area would remain a dream until the local people were given rights to vote.
Held under the auspices of Fata Research Centre, a non-partisan and independent research organisation, the conference highlighted the plight of people in tribal areas living under a century-old Frontier Crime Regulation (FCR) rule terming it a draconian law.
“Fata is a no go zone for everybody except for terrorists and security agencies. Therefore, nobody really knows what actually happens there,” Ajmal Wazir, PML-Q leader and a native of South Waziristan Agency said.
HAZRU- Chief of JUI-F Maulana Fazlur Rehman has said government should hold talks with all militant groups.
“We had asked government to go for talks with all militants. It is matter of regret that government did not pay heed to what we had said without finding any technical fault in our stance. Due to this talks and explosions are going side by side” Fazlur Rehman said this while talking to journalists in Haroon and Daman villages of Hazru after his meeting with Sheikhul Hadith Maulana Zahoor ul Haq today.
He regretted that tribal people had been overlooked in the negotiations despite the fact it is said in writing that jirga of tribesmen will participate in peace talks. State is looking to be standing head on against certain groups due to ill conceived strategy of the government which is not good, he added.
PESHAWAR: Two key militant commanders were arrested by the sensitive agencies near Soria Bridge on G.T. Road on Saturday morning here, Geo News reported.
Sources said that the arrested militant commanders near Soria Bridge belong to a defunct terror outfit of Khyber Agency.
Following arrest, the militant commanders have been shifted to some unknown place.
CHARSADDA / LAHORE: The Taliban’s intermediary committee member said on Friday that it would not oppose the army’s inclusion in the negotiations since it is what the government itself wanted.
“The army’s participation in peace talks is not our demand, but if the govt wants to make the army part of the process, we have no objection,” committee member Prof Ibrahim Khan told reporters following a workers convention in Charsadda.
At the same time, Professor Muhammad Ibrahim took a gentle swipe at the government committee. “They realised that they have no decision-making power when they demanded formation of a new powerful committee,” he said.
Yet, he said, some people think that the induction of such powerful institutions will make the talks fruitful.
ISLAMABAD- Ruling party Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz is witnessing serious rift among its party members on the issue of whether to sustain dialogue with Taliban or launch a military offensive in North Waziristan Agency (NWA).
As the nation is facing a clear divide on the issue of initiating dialogue process with Taliban or launching a massive scale military operation in North Waziristan Agency, the ruling party is also witnessing a clear rift among its top columns on the issue.
Feeling the heat of the situation with in party and on national canvas, the party president Nawaz Sharif recently has barred the party leaders from issuing statements in this connection.
According to sources, one faction within party comprised of Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, State Minister for Interior Baligur Rehman, Raja Zafarulhaq, Chaudhry Jafer Iqbal, Ehsan Iqbal, Chaudhry Jafer Iqbal Gujar and Siddiqul Farooq along with other party leaders are in support with initiating negotiations with Taliban.
KARACHI: Rangers’ personnel conducted a targeted operation in the Gulshan-e-Mazdoor area of Karachi’s Baldia Town on Saturday and arrested 11 suspects, DawnNews reported.
On receiving a tip-off about the presence of suspected militants belonging to banned organisations and gang-war groups, Rangers' personnel launched the operation.
Four hundred personnel, including females, took part in the operation. During the raids, the entry and exit points of the area were sealed and people were prevent from entering without permission.
LAHORE- PML President, Senator Chaudhry Shujat Hussain has said that although he prayed for the success of dialogue with Taliban, yet he saw slim chances of any breakthrough.
Talking to journalists at Lahore airport after his return from Islamabad, he expressed that there had been no understanding about Army being a part of negotiations. He also wanted the Army to stay away from being a party to dialogue, since it was an issue for a Jirga, which if decides to avoid any action against Taliban, Army would be restrained to be bound to honor that decision. Shujat also said that Taliban should ensure peace, since that was the very reason for dialogue being carried out.
WASHINGTON: The United States wants to promote good relations between Pakistan and its neighbouring states, particularly India and Afghanistan, says the State Department.
At a briefing on the proposed budget for overseas US involvement in 2015, the State Department said that the administration would also use a special provision called Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) for promoting its interests in the Pak-Afghan region.
“The OCO resources will support critical US activities such as sustaining close cooperation with Pakistan, ensuring the safety of Pakistani nuclear installations, working with Pakistan to facilitate the peace process in Afghanistan, and promoting improved relations with India,” the statement said.
Press Trust of India | Washington | March 7, 2014
US President Barack Obama has proposed USD 882 million in foreign aid to Pakistan for next year, a substantial drop of 18 per cent from the fiscal 2013.
According to Congressional experts, who have tabulated the budgetary proposals which was sent to the Congress by Obama, the President has proposed USD 546 million in total economic-related assistance and USD 336 million in total security related assistance to Pakistan.
The assistance to Pakistan in fiscal 2013 was USD 1.2 billion – USD 834 million economic and USD 361 million security related aid.
Figures for the fiscal 2014, which ends in October this year, are not yet available.
This, however, does not include the coalition support fund reimbursement which is the money given to Pakistan in lieu of the actual expenses made by Islamabad towards the support of the US operations in Afghanistan.
The US State Department affirmed on Friday that the US recognizes Israel as a "Jewish state" but that this is not a precondition in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
The statement was in response to questions regarding the department's position on comments made by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that the Palestinian Authority must recognize Israel as a Jewish state, something that its chairman, President Mahmoud Abbas, said that he was unwilling to do.
Prime Minister Netanyahu made his position clear at AIPAC's annual convention on Tuesday where he publicly posed the demand to Abbas saying, “Abbas must recognize the Jewish state,” and “in doing so, you’d be telling the Palestinians that, while we have a territorial dispute, the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own is beyond dispute."
Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) said American Jewish organizations are selling out on Israel in favor of the Obama administration.
Bachmann made the accusation this week during a telephone interview with Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council and host of the online radio show that is featured on the conservative Christian group’s website.
“What has been shocking has been seeing and observing Jewish organizations who, it appears, have made it their priority to support the political priority and the political ambitions of the president over the best interests of Israel. They sold out Israel,” Bachmann said.
She said this in reference to a Feb. 27 letter by major Democratic donors, many of them Jewish, to party congressional leaders urging them not to advance new Iran sanctions legislation. “This is clearly against Israel’s best interest,” she said.
"The United States remains concerned about the climate for freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and association in Egypt," the US State Department spokesperson said Friday following a UN statement criticising rights restrictions in Egypt.
The UN Human Rights Council issued a joint statement Friday with 27 other countries expressing concern on what they described as restrictions of "rights to peaceful assembly, expression and association, and about the disproportionate use of lethal force by security forces against demonstrators which resulted in large numbers of deaths and injuries."
Jen Psaki was asked during the State Department's daily press briefings if there is any indication that the Egyptian government is "actually listening [to such statements." The spokeswoman said the matter is hard to evaluate, but "speaking out when we see human rights abuses or where we see brutality is something that, as the United States Government, we feel is incredibly important."