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Islamic World News ( 15 Jun 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Allahabad HC ‘Restrains’ Al Jazeera From Airing Documentary on India’s Muslims for Fear of ‘Evil Consequences’

New Age Islam News Bureau

15 June 2023


Al Jazeera's logo. Photo: Prachatai/Flickr CC BY NC ND 2.0



• ‘Am I Sitting in Bengal or Bangladesh?’: NCBC Head Says Muslims Castes in State OBC List ‘Lop-Sided’

• Construction on the Ayodhya Mosque Is Yet to Begin, Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation Struggling To Get The Mosque’s Map Sanctioned

• Uttarkashi 'Love Jihad': Amid Mahapanchayat, Bandh Call, Cops on Toes Today; Entry Points Being Checked

• Will Defy Police To Organise Mahapanchayat Against 'Love Jihad', Say Sangh Groups

• BJP raising inclusion of Muslims in OBC list to communalise situation ahead of panchayat polls: Trinamool

• Ram Navami Procession in Vadodara a Pretext to Show Muslims Hindutva Dominance: Report

• Muslim man dies after alleged assault by cow vigilantes in Nashik


South Asia

• Afghan Commander And Cleric: We Do Not Allow Foreigners to Interfere With Internal Issue

• Calls in Oslo for Islamic Emirate to Fulfil Commitments: Source

• Put social justice at heart of int'l dev agenda, PM tells World of Work summit

• Why US Congressmen’s letter has come as a shock for minority community leaders in Bangladesh

• Bangladesh Shames Pak; 'Surpasses' Islamabad In All Economic Sectors

• Flash Floods Kill 6, Injure 8 in Afghanistan

• Gas Suffocation in Coal Mine Kills 2 Afghan Miners in Samangan

• Afghanistan: Chinese Investors Keen on Investing in Different Sectors

• Iran Hands Over Another 15 Afghan Prisoners

• Afghanistan and Central Asian Association to Organize ‘London Peace Conference’

• 11 cases against Khaleda: Charge framing hearing on July 16


Arab World

• Rare Versions Of Holy Qur'an Written Through Embroidery Showcased At Doha International Book Fair

• Saudi’s UK ambassador praises Kingdom’s art students

• Saudi Arabia aid to international community reaches $96 billion

• Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister will visit Iran on Saturday - Tasnim

• Saudi Cabinet approves Civil Transactions Law

• Taif governor reviews airport operations for Hajj

• Madinah Medical Centre Saves Indonesian Woman After Her Heart Stopped For 8 Minutes



• Promotion Of Religious Tourism To Ensure Interfaith Harmony: Minister

• Trials under army laws meet requirements for fair trial: Law Minister

• Ombudsperson, IG Punjab Discuss Cases Of Harassment Of Women, Children

• Four ‘terrorists’ killed near Afghan border

• Islamabad police book TV hosts Sabir Shakir, Moeed Pirzada for May 9 vandalism

• LHC orders release of Shah Mahmood Qureshi

• TikTok Girl ‘Gang Raped’ By Three Men In Sindh’s Matiari District

• Pakistan may fail to clinch IMF deal, fears Moody’s



• Pope Francis, Grand Imam Of Al-Azhar Make Call For Peace At UN Security Council

• Man jailed for calling for violence against Muslims, Jews and gays

• Morocco Islamist leader jailed for year for sex crime

• Lanarkshire Islamic group to host Eid in the Park community gathering for people of all faiths

• Mosque, Muslims' Houses Face Islamophobic Attacks In Bosnia

• House of Peace: Scunthorpe’s first purpose-built mosque to open

• Blackburn mosque to host Eid event to raise funds for funeral centre



• Israeli Occupation to Demolish Mosque’s Dome in Jerusalem for Similarity with Dome of Rock

• Islamic Jihad leader meets Iran’s Khamenei in Tehran

• Muslim-majority Kosovo wants ‘strategic partnership’ with Israel — former PM

• Iran’s top Sunni cleric says barred from Hajj by Iranian authorities

• Hamas: al-Aqsa Mosque is red line, possibilities are open and options are dangerous


North America

• USCMO: 500+ American Muslim Delegates Take Part in 8th Annual #MuslimHillDay on Capitol Hill

• Quebec judge nixes request from Muslim group to suspend ban on school prayer rooms

• Al Hurra Clarifies Palestinian Fatalities Were Islamic Jihad Combatants

• UN Report Warns Al-Qaida, Islamic State Growing in Afghanistan

• Posing as Islamists, Russian Hackers Take Aim at Sweden

• Police: Man took off clothes at Farmingdale mosque for 2nd time this week



• Burkina Faso: Upsurge in Atrocities by Islamist Armed Groups

• Mai, Allah Jabu challenged to address Juba’s water crisis

• Nairobi Man in Court over Stealing KSh 10k Shoe from Mosque During Evening Prayers


Southeast Asia

• Islamic Affairs Minister: 'Haram' For Muslims To Vape, Consume Harmful Substances

• MP suggests to recognize mosques as social objects maintained by state

• Nearly a third of domestic workers in Malaysia in forced labour conditions, says UN agency

• PAC chief says two special investigation reports on AES and LCS declassified

• In Johor, religious school teacher claims trial to sexually assaulting male student

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



 Allahabad HC ‘Restrains’ Al Jazeera From Airing Documentary on India’s Muslims for Fear of ‘Evil Consequences’


Al Jazeera's logo. Photo: Prachatai/Flickr CC BY NC ND 2.0



New Delhi: The Allahabad high court on Wednesday, June 14, “restrained” Al Jazeera from telecasting, broadcasting or releasing the news documentary India… Who lit the Fuse? until the issues raised in a petition “are adjudicated” after notice to the Doha-based broadcaster. The high court, considering “the evil consequences” that are likely to occur on the telecast or broadcast of the film in question, has deferred the telecast pending consideration of the petition.

The court has also directed the Union government and the authorities constituted under it “to take appropriate measures warranted in law to ensure that the film is not allowed to be telecast/broadcast unless its contents are examined by the authorities, duly constituted in law for the purpose, and necessary certification/authorisation is obtained from the competent authority.” The Union and state governments have been directed to “secure social harmony and protect the security and interest of the Indian State.”

A petition filed by one Sudhir Kumar, who claims to be “a public-spirited person and a social activist”, has cited detailed reasons for asking for the documentary to be barred by the court from being aired by Al Jazeera. Among them are principally, that it is “likely to create hatred amongst different religious denominations and thereby destroy the secular fabric of the Indian State. The Film also has the potential to create social unrest and disturb public order, decency and morality.”

While The Wire was unable to verify the content of the documentary, the petitioner claims that he has “reliably learnt” from print and social media reports that the film portrays the “Muslim minority of [India] living with a sense of fear and presents a disruptive narrative creating a sense of public hatred, which is far from reality”. The petitioner claims that the film “negatively portrays” the political functionaries of the Indian state and projects them as acting detrimental to the interest of minorities.

The Arabic edition of the Al Jazeera documentary on the treatment and status of Muslim minorities in India has been tweeted by the news channel.

News channels are not required to obtain certificates for exhibiting documentaries aired on them. Earlier this year, when the BBC made a news documentary on the Gujarat violence of 2002 when Narendra Modi was the state’s chief minister, it was not allowed to be streamed in India with the use of emergency provisions. The reasons for this are yet to be made public. The BBC documentary, aired in January 2023, focused on a UK government inquiry in the wake of the widespread violence in Gujarat in 2002, which held then CM Modi “directly responsible”. The documentary was never aired on Indian television, and was blocked by the Union government on all social media platforms.

Significantly, the counsel appearing for the Union of India in the Al Jazeera case did not dispute the legal submissions made on behalf of the petitioner. He did not refute the fact “that necessary certification has not been obtained”.

The bench consisting of Justice Ashwani Kumar Mishra and Justice Ashutosh Srivastava heard arguments from the petitioner that Al Jazeera is only a news organisation but it has “exceeded its ambit” so as to broadcast films. This, the petitioner argued, was with the singular intention of creating distress and endangering the public order in the country. It also said that the film proposes to publicise distorted versions of facts to create disharmony amongst the citizens of the country who belong to different religious denominations.

The court though says the seriousness of the charges made in the PIL has forced it to take recourse to Article 19(2), which speaks of reasonable restrictions to the freedom of expression in India.

The seven-page order, made available by LiveLaw, says, “We are conscious of the fact that the freedom of speech and expression as also the right of broadcast is a fundamental right but it remains subject to the reasonable restrictions imposed by Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India.”

The court noted that Al Jazeera was not represented in court and that the film was not available for perusal. The court directed the petitioner to “take steps within 48 hours to serve” Al Jazeera by “registered/speed post as well as by dasti” and fixed July 6 as the date for admission/hearing of the writ petition.

Al Jazeera, contacted for a response, refused to comment but it is believed it will “take legal recourse.” The story will be updated if and when they do.


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‘Everyone Is Frightened’: Muslims In Uttarakhand’s Purola Recount A Campaign To Hound Them Out


Policemen stand outside shops owned by Muslims, which have not opened for business since May 29. Credit: Zafar Aafaq.



On the morning of June 13, the market in Purola, a town nestled in the hills of Uttarakhand, was open for business – except for a handful of shops, where the shutters were drawn firmly, and groups of policemen stood guard outside.

One of those stores belongs to Mohammad Ashraf, a 41-year-old trader who has not been able to open his garment shop for over two weeks, because of an intimidating campaign by groups of Hindus to evict Muslims from their homes and trades in this town in Uttarkashi district.

Around a dozen Muslim families have reportedly fled the town in fear, since May 28, soon after Hindutva groups started taking out processions demanding the town be cleared of Muslims and eviction notices were pasted on shops. Some of the Muslim families have shifted to Dehradun, 140 km away, and some to towns in western Uttar Pradesh.

But Ashraf is standing his ground. “This is my janmabhoomi and my karmabhoomi,” he said. The land of my birth and work. “I am not going anywhere.”

Four years after his father moved to the hills from the plains of Uttar Pradesh in 1978, Ashraf was born in this town. His is among the 40-45 Muslim families in a town with a population of 5,000, say residents. Only a few, like Ashraf, own houses in the town.

“In the last 30 years, I have never seen a situation like this,” Ashraf said. “I had never faced any trouble or any discrimination because of my religion. Our Hindu neighbours have always treated us well and they still do.”

Of the roughly 400 shops in the market, about 40 are owned by Muslims. None of them have been able to carry out any business since a group of Hindus of the town began the strident campaign against Muslims. “It’s been more than two weeks since we shut our shops,” said Ashraf. “We have not earned a single penny.”

Among those who have stayed back, the fear was unmistakable, especially over calls for a

“mahapanchayat”, or a conference, in Purola on June 15 by a local group. On Tuesday, two academicians, Ashok Vajpeyi and Apoorvanand, wrote a letter to the Chief Justice of India and Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court, asking them to step in and stop the gathering, which purportedly aimed to oppose “love jihad” and “land jihad”.

“Love jihad” is a conspiracy theory peddled by Hindutva groups, claiming that Muslim men lure Hindu women into romantic relationships so that they can convert them to Islam. “Land jihad” similar maintains that Muslims are encroaching on public land to build religious structures.

“Everyone is frightened,” said Mohammad Rayish, 47, who runs a cloth shop. “No one knows what will happen.” Several Muslim residents said messages were being circulated on social media and WhatsApp, targeting them. “There is a call for a mahapanchayat,” said Rayish, who, like Ashraf, was born in Purola. “We are waiting to see if it is allowed to take place.”

Fifty years ago, his father had migrated to the hills from a village in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh.

A day later, on June 14, the Uttarkashi district administration refused permission for the gathering, the Hindustan Times reported.

How it started

It began, Ashraf recalled, on May 27, when police officials came to the shop, asking them to close for the day. “That was the right advice,” Ashraf told Scroll. “It was for our safety. The crowd is always faceless. You never know what they will do.”

Later that day, a group of Hindus marched in protest against the alleged attempted abduction of a 14-year-old Hindu girl on May 26 by two men, which they said was a case of “love jihad”. One of the men was Ubaid Khan, who owned a furniture shop in the market, and the other Jitendra Saini.

Both the men were arrested on charges of kidnapping a minor girl under sections of the Indian Penal Code, and under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. “Our investigation has found that they were trying to abduct her to take advantage of her,” said a police inspector at Purola police station, who did not want to be named.

Two days later, Hindus took out a bigger march, eyewitnesses told Scroll. This time, they not only marched through the market but also went up to the homes of Muslims.

The crowd vandalised shops and removed signboards and banners with Muslim names, said a trader.

“They came down here and shouted slogans for 20 minutes at my door,” Ashraf said. He watched the crowd from the terrace of his house while his children locked themselves up in the room. “They raised provocative slogans against Muslims.”

Later, when the crowd left, his son asked him: “Papa, why were these people abusing us?” Said Ashraf, “I had no answer.”

Since then, there have been a few small rallies led by activists of Bajrang Dal and Karni Sena in Purola town. “There were calls for eviction of Muslims in these rallies,” said Ashraf.

A week later, notices were pasted on the shops of Muslims calling them to leave. “The love jihadis are informed that they should leave the town before Mahapanchayat to be held on June 15 otherwise they will face consequences,” it read. According to a report in The Indian Express, the notices were signed by an organisation called the Devbhoomi Raksha Abhiyan.

‘I had no option’

Mohammad Saleem, a 36-year-old trader who runs a garment shop in Purola, packed his bags and left on May 28.

He said he made up his mind after the owner of the building where he ran the shop asked him to vacate.

“I had no option,” said Saleem, who is now in Vikas Nagar, a town near Dehradun. “ I asked some people to give me a shop on rent but nobody said yes, I spoke with the traders’ union but they too suggested that I better leave, saying that the situation was not good for Muslims. I have three small daughters. I could not have risked being there.”

Saleem said he incurred a huge loss as the shop had clothes worth Rs 40 lakh. “The government should compensate us,” he said. Even though he owns a home in Purola, Saleem said he is considering selling it.

As the campaign against Muslims grew in strength in Purola, the effects were felt in a town nearby.

On June 3, a rally was organised by Hindutva groups over allegations of “love jihad” and “land jihad’” in Barkot, 30 km away.

As the procession marched through the town, home to about 40 Muslim families, a mob ran amok, damaging property and marking shops owned by Muslims with “X” signs.

Aftab Ulla, who runs a garment business in Barkot, told Scroll that the crowd vandalised his shop and tore down a signboard reading “Aftab Cloth House”. “I just watched from the window of my home,” he said.

Following the incident, Muslims have been asked to vacate shops that they had taken on rent and leave. “But nobody has left yet,” he said.

‘The administration did not help us’

In Purola, the Muslim traders lodged a complaint with the police, who registered a case against unknown persons. But Ashraf said the police did not appear to be serious in acting against those targeting them. “Security cameras are installed everywhere,” he said. “I do not know why it’s taking the police so long to nab those who posted the notices.”

On June 5, Ashraf said he approached the district administration, asking them to ensure the safety and security of the Muslim community in view of the threats. “The sub-divisional magistrate behaved callously,” said Ashraf. “He asked me to hand over the memorandum to the office clerk but did not say a word of assurance. The administration has not helped us. They have become active now after the matter hit national and international headlines.”

When Scroll asked the Purola sub-divisional magistrate, Devanand Sharma, to respond to the allegation, he declined to comment.

Ashraf said he had also sent a letter to the district administration condemning the abduction of the Hindu girl. “If one man has committed a wrong, you cannot punish an entire community for that,” he said.

On June 12, the administration and police held a meeting with the traders’ union, who also took part in the rallies, members of Hindutva groups and Muslim representatives. The meeting did not lead to a resolution.

Ashraf, who attended the meeting, said several conditions were placed on the Muslims. “They asked us to ensure that no new Muslims should come to the town for business,” he said. “They also asked that we should not organize namaz gatherings anywhere in the town. Some of them are still adamant that all Muslims should leave the town.”

‘We did not ask them to leave’

The Hindu traders Scroll spoke to played down the calls of eviction and said that the Muslim traders have left the town of their own accord. “There is a lot of media hype,” said the owner of a medical store. “We did not ask anyone to leave. They can come and open their shops.”

He added, “You can see everything is running normally.” However, the shop next to his, owned by a Muslim, was shut.

Rajpal Panwar, who described himself as a social activist, appeared to support the call for a Muslim exodus. “One incident may have triggered the tension but there is something more behind all of this,” he said. “The public has been angry for some time because the members of this community have done certain acts in the past that are not acceptable,” he said.

When asked to elaborate, he alleged that a new set of Muslim traders had created problems for others by agreeing to pay higher rents. “What is the source of their money?” Panwar asked. “There could be a racket behind this. It is a matter of concern.”

He said that Muslims who have been living in the town for decades should not be frightened. “We have appealed to them to open their shops,” he said.

A town without a mosque

Ashraf blamed “a handful of people” whom he called “anti-social elements” for the situation in the town. “Some people with a political affiliation and some traders have a problem with us,” he said.

In the past, Ashraf said, Hindu neighbours have helped them in arranging space for holding Ramzan prayers. “On one Eid, I remember it was raining and we were allowed to hold congregational prayers in a hall in the tehsil office,” he said.

The town has no mosque. “We have never had any plans to construct a mosque,” Ashraf said. “We are few in number. We have to win the goodwill of the majority and we have to live with them.”

He said the allegation that they want to settle other Muslim traders in town has no basis. “They say we want to increase the Muslim population,” Ashraf said. “If that were the case, we would have done that in the last 40 years.”

Several civil society activists blame a constant communal mobilisation by Hindutva leaders for the crisis. “The Purola matter started with one incident, but the situation has been deteriorating for some time,” said Aakib Qureshi, an activist in Dehradun. “Hindutva activists have been warning Muslims to leave the state. Their leaders are making open speeches targeting Muslims. Even the chief minister is using words like ‘love jihad’ and ‘land jihad’. Does it behove him?”

Against the backdrop of the campaign to force Muslims out, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami had said that “love jihad” will not be tolerated in the state.

Qureshi added: “The CM has taken a constitutional oath to serve everyone but he talks about protecting Hindus. What do they need protection from? We are the minority.”


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Afghanistan Madrasa Graduates Lack Knowledge to Work for Govt Institutions, Says PM Mawlavi Kabir


Photo Khaama Press/ Taliban’s Acting Prime Minister Mawlavi Abdul Kabir on Wednesday said that religious school graduates do not have the potential to work for government institutions.


June 15, 2023

Prime Minister Kabir said, “Besides religious studies, modern sciences should also be added to the madrasa curriculum so that graduates could gain the required knowledge and work for government institutions as well.”

Mawlavi Kabir criticizes religious school graduates as the Taliban have predominantly appointed mullahs and religious clerks to key government posts including the governor of Afghanistan’s central bank, since their return to power.

According to the prime minister’s office, Mawlavi Kabir met with Sheikh Abdul Waheed Tariq, head of Taliban’s Jihadist Schools on Wednesday, during which Tariq discussed the construction of more Jihadist schools in Afghanistan. 

Referring to the Taliban regime’s special attention to establishing more religious schools, Kabir said, “Madrasas and religious schools are major requirements.”

Since the Taliban’s return to power in August 2021, the group has persistently built religious schools and madrassas throughout the country.

To expand religious schools, the ruling regime has converted several historical sites, schools and universities into Jihadist schools.

Previously, the Taliban group converted the Teacher Training Building of Samangan, Takhar Technical and Vocational Institute, Mitra TV building in Mazar Sharif City, Abdul Hai Habibi High School in Khost, Technical School in Kandahar, Babrak Khan Zadran High School in Gardiz City and many other buildings into Jihadi schools.


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 Policies Of Global Domination Responsible For Terrorism Phenomenon: Al-Azhar Grand Imam


Al Azhar Grand Imam Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb


Wednesday 14 Jun 2023

El-Tayyeb made his statement on Wednesday during a UN Security Council session on "The Values of Human Fraternity in Promoting and Sustaining Peace."

The Sheikh of Al-Azhar confirmed that claiming that Islam is the religion of the sword and wars is unfair and unfounded, explaining that history testifies that Muslims fought only to defend themselves, their lands, and their honour.

In his speech, El-Tayyeb called for extinguishing the "senseless" wars that have been raging in our region and our world, such as the wars that countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Yemen witnessed.

As for the Palestinian issue, he called on the Security Council and the international community to expedite the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital, and protect Al-Aqsa Mosque against the daily violations.

“I am talking about my sanctities and your sanctities in Palestine and the suffering of the Palestinian people under so much arrogance, tyranny, and cruelty," he added.

The grand Imam warned of the repercussions of the ongoing war on the eastern borders of Europe, calling on the international community to immediately stop this disaster and protect the innocent from bloodshed and the destruction of cities.

In addition, he called for guaranteeing the rights of refugees fleeing the wars by rescuing and hosting them.


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‘No Cases Against Women, Involved In The May 9 Violence, Sent To Military Courts’


Policemen fire teargas shells to disperse PTI party activists and supporters of former prime minister Imran Khan trying to reach the Islamabad High Court during Khan´s hearing, in Islamabad on May 12, 2023. — AFP


June 15, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar on Wednesday said that till date, no case against any woman involved in the May 9 violence following the arrest of PTI chairman Imran Khan, has been sent to the military courts.

The minimum requirements as required under different international laws, especially Article 14 of the International Covenants for Civil and Political Rights 1966 (ICCPR) that deals with fair trial, will be ensured during the prosecution of the accused in the military courts, the law minister said.

As the international laws suggest, the minister also explained that the accused should be given the right to appoint their counsel of choice to defend them in the case. Likewise, they must have the right to adduce the defence evidence against them and should have access to the record or material being used by the defence against the accused as well as the right to judicial review against the decision of the trial court.

While talking to media at the Supreme Court building, the law minister said that the decision on whether a case should be tried by a military court or a civilian court is not a matter of choice for the federal government or any other department or relevant authority, but is determined by the operation of the law.

Law minister says around 74 cases forwarded for trial under army act

“It depends upon the material and evidence against the accused,” he said, adding that the decision regarding which case should be referred to the military court has been done after a proper scrutiny of the material sent by the JAG (Judge Advocate General) Branch — a legal wing of the military — by the judge of the anti-terrorism court concerned in view of the incriminating evidence against the accused.

The minister said that till date 74 cases had been sent to the military courts, but no case against any woman had been referred to such courts.

An informed source said by using the good offices of the Foreign Office, the government was also trying to engage the international community to allay the apprehensions being expressed by members of the civil society as well as the international community regarding alleged violations of the fundamental rights and arbitrary detentions.

According to media reports, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recently expressed concerns over the issue. The Amnesty International has also stated that trying civilians in military courts is contrary to International Human Rights Law, violating the right to a fair trial guaranteed under Article 14 of the ICCPR, which guarantees the right to a trial before competent, independent and impartial courts established by the law.

Under its General Comment on Article 14 of the ICCPR, the UN Human Rights Committee has affirmed that “fundamental principles of fair trial” are non-derogable. Pakistan ratified the ICCPR in 2010 and is bound by these international obligations.


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‘Am I Sitting in Bengal or Bangladesh?’: National Commission for Backward Classes Head Says Muslims Castes in State OBC List ‘Lop-Sided’

JUNE 15, 2023

The issue is not with Muslims, but how their castes have increased over time, National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) chairman Hansraj Gangaram Ahir spoke to News18 as the ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal has accused the BJP of communalising the situation ahead of the Panchayat polls.

Till 2009, there were only 66 OBC castes, including 12 of Muslims, in West Bengal, which was increased by 41, all of them being Muslim castes. From 2011 till now, more Muslim castes have been added, making it a total of 118 castes on the state OBC list, while Hindu OBC castes have remained only 61, Ahir explained to News18. There are 179 castes on the state list of OBC castes.

“The state government told me that the population of Hindus is 70% and that of Muslims was 27%. Why are there 118 Muslim castes and 61 Hindu castes? I feel the castes have been made wrongly. These are not there even in Mandal Commission. We have asked for these to be removed and mistakes to be corrected,” Ahir said.

He also said he has not seen any other state except for West Bengal that has double the Muslim castes than Hindus ones.

“As a chairman of NCBC, I feel there is injustice done. The original castes of both Hindus and Muslims have suffered. For me, it isn’t about the state government, I feel the parameters have not been kept in mind, that’s why the increase is lop-sided,” Ahir said.

BJP leaders, including party president JP Nadda, have accused Trinamool of favouring Muslims in the OBC list ahead of Panchayat polls.

Ahir has alleged that the West Bengal Commission for Backward Classes is “not doing the right job”. “I asked them if I am sitting in Bengal or Bangladesh. If such loot is done against Hindus, then NCBC is there to check it. If they (Bengal commission) feel they have done the right job, then I can’t say anything. I don’t have faith in the commission,” he further said.

He also questioned the role of the Cultural Research Institute (CRI), which is the scientific and technical wing of the Backward Classes Welfare Department of West Bengal. Ahir said CRI told them that they survey what jobs people are doing to decide caste status. He questioned, “If a person is doing a certain job, does that mean they belong to a certain caste?”

The Mamata Banerjee government had in June 2012 passed a Bill in the West Bengal Assembly to include Muslims in the OBC list, who had 17% reservation in government jobs and higher education.

The demand to include Muslims in the OBC category was raised during the Left regime after the Sachar Committee’s recommendations, which had shown socio-economic conditions of the Muslims of West Bengal.


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Construction on the Ayodhya Mosque Is Yet to Begin, Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation Struggling To Get The Mosque’s Map Sanctioned

Krishan Pratap Singh

As the date for the inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya is being considered, construction is yet to begin on the proposed mosque on land granted in Dhannipur following the Supreme Court verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute.

The judgment of the dispute by the Supreme Court on November 9, 2019, paved the way for the construction of a Ram temple – at the disputed site – and a mosque, at an alternative five-acre plot. But while the construction of Ram Mandir is nearing completion, only the foundation of the mosque has been laid so far.

The Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation (IICF), which is handling the construction of the mosque, is struggling to get the mosque’s map sanctioned and reeling under a lack of funds.

The laying of the foundation stone is the only activity that the land has seen.

The matter’s roots are deeper than the lack of money.

The Adityanath government of Uttar Pradesh has been peeved ever since the Supreme Court granted five acres of land to the Muslim side at a prominent place in Ayodhya for the construction of the mosque. On the other hand, a large section of Muslims too are understood to have adopted a non-cooperative attitude towards the construction, as they are annoyed at how the government has been gung ho about the completion of the Ram temple but has been keen to create roadblocks on the path of the mosque’s creation. The Waqf Board too is under the government’s control.

When the Supreme Court pronounced its verdict, Muslim parties to the dispute had not been ready to accept the land granted to it in place of the Babri Masjid land. They argued that according to the Waqf Act and the Shariah, a mosque can neither be sold nor put to any other use, or exchanged for any other piece of land.

That’s when the Uttar Pradesh Central Sunni Waqf Board stepped forward, welcomed the decision “to prevent conveying any wrong message from the Muslims in the country” and accepted the land. Soon, the IICF was formed to oversee the construction of the mosque and other related structures.

Since the board was constituted in 1942 under the UP Muslim Waqf Act of 1936 to look after Muslim Waqf properties and is ‘official’ in the sense that it functions under the control of the government, there were apprehensions in many Muslim circles that there was government pressure to accept the granted land.

Incidentally, in 1960, the UP government made a new Waqf Act in place of the 1936 Act to align it to the Waqf laws of the country. In 1995, the Union government had its own Waqf law passed by parliament, which was implemented from January 1, 1996. This law was also amended in 2013. Now, the UP Central Sunni Waqf Board comes under the latest 2013 law.

It is argued in many Muslim circles that when the mosque is being built by the ‘government-run’ Waqf Board, the responsibility for the good and the bad aspects (including the unexpected delay in the construction) lies with the UP government.

It is also claimed that there is intense pressure from the Hindutva brigade who have repeatedly and openly refused to accept a new mosque in the Ayodhya area despite the Supreme Court’s 2019 order. The government gave in to their demands and granted land outside Ayodhya city, in Dhannipur village of Sohwal block of Ayodhya district, 22 kilometres from the disputed site and 250 metres from the National Highway.

The Adityanath government did not consider the fact that the allotted site was agricultural land and there would be many hurdles in getting construction approval from the Ayodhya Development Authority (ADA). As the access road is quite narrow, it would also be difficult to get a ‘no objection’ certificate from the fire department and the pollution department will also object.

Whether it was government pressure is unknown, but the UP Central Sunni Waqf Board, while accepting the land, also did not pay attention to these complications and took a series of major decisions in the matter. The foundation set up to oversee the mosque construction claimed that it would build the ‘Masjid-e-Ayodhya’ which was going to be bigger in size than the Babri Masjid, and would not be named after Babar or any other Mughal emperor. It would be named after Maulvi Ahmadullah Shah, Muslim hero and symbol of Awadh’s Hindu-Muslim unity during the country’s first freedom struggle of 1857.

The entire complex of the mosque will include an Indo-Islamic Research Centre, a super-specialty hospital, a library, a museum, a community kitchen and a cultural centre. It was also claimed that the capacity of the hospital would be 100 beds which will be further boosted to 200. Similarly, food will be cooked daily for 1,000 poor people in the community kitchen, which will later be expanded to be able to feed 2,000 people.

On January 26, 2021, Republic Day, the IICF laid the foundation stone of the mosque in an attempt to send across another democratic message on behalf of the Muslim community. In addition, it was hoped that by the end of the year 2023, not only would the mosque be built, but other structures in the complex would also be completed. Professor Pushpesh Pant, an expert in history and international relations, was appointed the consultant curator of the museum and archives, while the mosque was designed by Professor S.M. Akhtar. Two bank accounts were also opened to raise funds – one for the construction of the mosque and another for other structures.

But soon enough, the IICF realised that the ambitious project of nearly Rs 300 crores was not going to be a cakewalk when it encountered the first stumbling block of getting the map sanctioned.

After the objections posed by the ADA were disposed of – one of which was related to the concerned land being agricultural land on which the authority said that the map cannot be passed without changing its stated use – the ADA asked the IICF to deposit a fee of Rs 12 crore. But the IICF expressed inability to pay such a hefty sum as it could collect only Rs 50 lakh till then. However, the authorities refused to approve of the map unless the full fee was paid.

Meanwhile, the no-objection certificate issued by the Fire Department is subject to the condition that the approach road to the mosque complex be widened. This would mean the requirement of more funds.

Due to paucity of funds, the IICF has now postponed its plan to build a hospital, a library, a museum and a community kitchen and is planning to get the revised map passed for the construction of only the mosque, so that the work requires a lower fee.

It claims that once the construction of the mosque starts, donations will come pouring in, following which the map of the entire project will be passed and the rest of the construction can be kickstarted. But it cannot answer as to why it has not been able to raise enough money till now to realise its earlier plans.

The underlying reality is that there is hardly any enthusiasm for the new mosque in the locality in Dhannipur as there is no dearth of mosques in the area. Being 22 kilometres away from the Babri Masjid, this mosque is also not a viable alternative to the former mosque, geographically.

Amidst the massive campaign for the Ram temple and the raining moolah, such disinterest in the mosque, even among Muslims, is surprising. It brings to mind a comment made by writer Ghazala Wahab, “Accepting five acres of land instead of justice in the Babri Masjid case is tantamount to accepting that the Muslim community does not need justice at all – and that their secondary status in the country has been legitimised.”

Surprisingly, many Muslims feel that supporting the construction of this mosque is as good as supporting the discriminatory Adityanath government and paving the way for other mosques to be displaced in the same way in the future.

Despite Dhannipur reeling under a lack of civic amenities, the announcement of a hospital and community kitchen in the area could not evoke any enthusiasm. Why is that?

According to experts, there is a perception among Muslims about government-controlled Waqf Boards that they do not exercise transparency and are involved in corruption in the management of community properties. Therefore, most Muslims and Muslim organisations distance themselves from the boards. Meanwhile, the UP Central Sunni Waqf Board and the IICF do not have any funds of their own and are dependent on public charity to overcome the paucity.

Suryakant Pandey, a local leader of the Communist Party of India, says that it was the responsibility of the Union and state governments to build a mosque in lieu of the demolished Babri Masjid. This was also promised by the then Prime Minister, P.V. Narasimha Rao, while addressing the nation after the Babri Masjid was razed on December 6, 1992. But despite the Supreme Court declaring the destruction of the mosque as “a criminal act” in its verdict, the Narendra Modi and Adityanath governments have not been sincere about the promise.

Krishan Pratap Singh is a senior journalist.


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Uttarkashi 'Love Jihad': Amid Mahapanchayat, Bandh Call, Cops on Toes Today; Entry Points Being Checked

JUNE 15, 2023

An eerie silence was witnessed in Uttarkashi’s Purola on Thursday amid tight security in the wake of the prohibitory orders imposed in the town before a ‘mahapanchayat’ called by Hindu organisations.

Although the local administration has clearly said that they will not allow anyone to organise a mahapanchayat, but the pro-Hindutva outfits are adamant to hold the gathering.

In protest against the imposition of section 144, which bars assembly of people, local trade bodies called for a bandh in Uttarkashi district falls on Thursday.

Police is keeping vigil on prevailing condition. Another ‘mahapanchayat’, being oraganised by the minority community in Dehradun on Sunday, was also denied permission. Drones are monitoring vehicular movement, while police teams are deployed at entry points of Dehradun.

Communal tension has been brewing in Purola and some other towns of Uttarkashi district after two men, one of them Muslim, allegedly tried to abduct a Hindu girl on May 26. The girl was rescued and the accused sent to judicial custody.

Local trade bodies and right wing Hindu outfits have run a sustained campaign against what they call were cases of “love jihad" in Purola and neighbouring towns, including Barkot, Chinyalisaur and Bhatwari.

Purola Sub-Divisional Magistrate Devanand Sharma said prohibitory orders banning the assembly of four or more people under Section 144 will remain in force till June 19.

Bajrang Dal president Anuj Walia said steps being taken to prevent the mahapanchayat are part of a big conspiracy against Hindus. “The mahapanchayat was to be held peacefully. The administration is protecting jihadis," Walia said, demanding the removal of Uttarkashi district magistrate Abhishek Rohilla and Superintendent of Police Arpan Yaduvanshi.

“The administration is acting under the pressure of AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi," he said. Section 144 will not deter Hindu organisations from going ahead with the mahapanchayat which can be held anytime after June 19, Walia added.

Among other right wing Hindu outfits that called for the mahapanchayat include the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Devbhoomi Raksha Abhiyan.

“Love jihad" is a term often used by right wing activists to allege a ploy by Muslim men to lure Hindu women into marriages for religious conversion.

Apart from the abduction bid reported from Purola on May 26, another failed abduction attempt of two minor sisters of Nepali origin by a man called Nawab was reported on June 8 from Arakot area of Uttarkashi district.

The accused in both cases were booked under section 363 (abduction) of the IPC and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.

Over 40 shops run by Muslims in Purola have not opened even a fortnight after the abduction attempt. Posters asking alleged perpetrators of “love jihad" to leave the town or face consequences appeared on these shops last week.

Muslim Seva Sangathan, an organisation fighting for the rights of Muslims, has also given a call for a mahapanchayat in Dehradun on June 18.

Muslim bodies like the Uttarakhand Waqf Board and state Haj committee have appealed to the chief minister to take stringent action against “anti-social" elements trying to derail peace in the hills and protect Muslims who have been living in Purola for generations.

Meanwhile, the Uttarakhand High Court will on Thursday hear a plea to prevent Hindu outfits from holding a ‘mahapanchayat’ against “love jihad" in Purola town.

The Association for the Protection of Civil Rights moved the court on Wednesday after the Supreme Court had refused to entertain its plea against the mahapanchayat, but allowed the petitioner to approach the HC or any other authority.


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Will defy police to organise mahapanchayat against 'love jihad', say Sangh groups


Piyush Srivastava

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal have revealed themselves to be the prime movers of a mahapanchayat in Uttarakhand against “love jihad”, proclaiming that they would defy prohibitory orders to organise the event on Thursday.

Earlier, pro-Hindutva outfits like the Purola Vyapar Mandal had been at the forefront of the preparations for the event against the backdrop of Muslim shopkeepers being driven out of Purola town in Uttarkashi district, a typical Sangh parivar tactic of carrying out its agenda through shadowy organisations and denying any links in case of a controversy.

After the Uttarkashi administration and police said that permission had not been granted for the mahapanchayat and imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 and chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami issued an ambiguous warning, the VHP and the Bajrang Dal came forward to openly lend their heft to the event. The prohibitory orders, which disallow gatherings of five or more persons, will be in place till June 19.

VHP and Bajrang Dal activists held a meeting in Purola on Wednesday afternoon and decided to defy the orders.

Anuj Waliya, the Uttarakhand state convener of the VHP, told The Telegraph over the phone: “Our mahapanchayat against the love jihadis and those who lure our teenaged daughters and blackmail them will take place on Thursday in Purola even though the dictatorial police have imposed Section 144.”

He claimed the organisations had never threatened Muslim traders or forced them to leave Purola. “Maybe those who ran away from the town were love jihadis. It is also wrong that we are pasting threatening posters on the shops of Muslim traders. It is the handiwork of the Owaisi gang.”

Asaduddin Owaisi, the AIMIM MP of Hyderabad, had claimed two days ago that Muslims were being targeted in BJP-ruled Uttarakhand.

Asked why they wanted to defy the orders of chief minister Dhami, who had said earlier in the morning that nobody would be allowed to take law and order into their hands, Waliya said: “He is talking about those who are conspiring against Hindu daughters.”

Virendra Rawat, a Bajrang Dal leader from the hill state, told this newspaper: “We have taken the responsibility of holding the mahapanchayat and warned the police to stay within their limits. We will target those who have been hurting Hindu sentiments by hatching a conspiracy against us.”

Brijmohan Chauhan, the president of the Purola Vyapar Mandal, said: “All the Hindu organisations, including the Vyapar Mandal, Purola Pradhan Sangathan and the Devbhumi Raksha Sangathan, have decided to support the VHP and the Bajrang Dal, which have taken the lead and decided to hold the mahapanchayat under any circumstances.”

The Mandal had earlier claimed that “ordinary residents” were organising the event.

Avoiding any direct remark on the mahapanchayat, chief minister Dhami told reporters in Dehrdaun, 140km south of Purola: “We will not allow anybody to take law and order into their hands and breach peace.”

Arpan Yaduvanshi, the superintendent of police of Uttarkashi, didn’t respond to calls from this newspaper. Local reporters quoted V. Murugesan, additional director-general of police, law and order, as saying: “Section 144 is in force in Purola and we have sealed the border of Uttarkashi to prevent outsiders from entering the district. We are also sending additional forces to Purola.”

Muslim event

Maulana Mohammad Ahmad Qasmi, the Sheher-e-Qazi of Dehradun, told reporters: “We have called a mahapanchayat in Dehradun on June 18 against the atrocities on the Muslim traders in the state.”

The event is to be held on the ground behind the old bus stand of the state capital.

“Many shopkeepers have been forced to abandon their businesses and migratefrom Purola and some other areas. We will discuss our strategy for the future,” Qasmi said.

A dozen Muslim traders have left Purola for Dehradun in the past one month out of fear of Hindu organisations that have allegedly threatened them with consequences if they stayed on beyond June 15.


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BJP raising inclusion of Muslims in OBC list to communalise situation ahead of panchayat polls: Trinamool

A number of BJP leaders, including party president J. P. Nadda, have accused the Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal, among other states, of favouring Muslims in the OBC list

June 14, 2023


The Trinamool Congress on Wednesday (June 14) alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was trying to communalise the situation in West Bengal ahead of the panchayat elections by pointing out that the list of OBCs (Other Backward Castes) in West Bengal has more Muslims than Hindus.

“With the Panchayat Election around the corner, BJP has picked up its communal bugle. Pitting one community against another, National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) Chairman and former @BJP4IndiaMP, @ahir_hansraj has accused the GoWB of depriving certain Backward Castes of their rights,” Trinamool Congress State general secretary and spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said on twitter.

A number of BJP leaders, including party president J. P. Nadda, have accused the Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal, among other states, of favouring Muslims in the OBC list.

There are 179 castes on the State list of backward classes of West Bengal, out of which 118 Muslim castes are on the State OBC list, while around 61 Hindu castes are on the list, chairman of National Commission for Backward Castes (NCBC) Hansraj Ahir had said earlier this month .

Several BJP leaders from West Bengal, including State president Sukanta Majumdar, have raised the issue stating that 91.5% reservation in Bengal has been given to Muslims, while OBCs and others have been denied their rights.

The Trinamool Congress spokesperson had pointed out that the NCBC Chairman needs to be told that the inclusion of any caste, Hindu or Muslim, in the State OBC list is done after consulting the Backward Classes Commission. “Moreover, a community’s higher representation in the State list doesn’t correlate with the population benefited,” Mr. Ghosh said.

A year after coming to power in 2011, the Mamata Banerjee government had in June 2012 passed a Bill in West Bengal Assembly whereby Muslims were included in the list of OBC who had 17 % reservation in government jobs and in higher education.

Demands for including Muslims in OBC category was raised during the Left regime particularly after the recommendations of Sachar Committee which had shown the socio- economic situation of the Muslim in West Bengal was not better than other social groups, including Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes. The Left Front government had also passed a similar Bill in the House which was allowed to lapse by the Trinamool government.


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Ram Navami Procession in Vadodara a Pretext to Show Muslims Hindutva Dominance: Report

Tarushi Aswani

New Delhi: On March 30, Ram Navami in Gujarat’s Vadodara saw mass vandalism, stone pelting and communal tensions. Shobha yatras or processions passing through the Kumbharwada-Hathikhana area and the Panjrigar Mohalla of the city were believed to have acted as triggers.

To understand the genesis and repercussions of the procession, the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS) undertook a fact-finding mission in Vadodara from May 7 to 9.

The fact-finding team consisting of Irfan Engineer, director of CSSS, Neha Dabhade, deputy director of CSSS and Hozefa Ujjaini, director of the NGO Buniyaad and local social activists visited the affected areas in the city. These included Panjrigar Mohalla, Kumbharwada and Hathikhana areas. The team also collected media clips which showed the unfolding of violence and arrests from the combing operations conducted by the police.

One of the key observations of the team was that Ram Navami processions in the recent past have been used as a pretext by Hindutva organisations to assert their domination over Muslims.

The report states that, “The Hindu right-wing groups are getting increasingly emboldened to deliberately enter Muslim majority areas with the intention of provoking the Muslims by chanting derogatory slogans and accompanied with arms.”

Political prospects and propaganda

While speaking to the residents of Hathikhana and Congress leader Chirag Shaikh, the fact-finding team was told about the delimitation processes in the city and redrawing of constituencies.

Vadodara has had no Muslim corporator since 1999. Coupled with the lack of representation in key decision-making bodies is the fact that the Bharatiya Janata Party has been in this role for three decades and is largely believed to have aided communal sentiments in growing.

While BJP does not give opportunities to Muslim candidates to contest polls under its banner, communal politics has forced other parties including the Congress to not nominate any Muslim candidates either. Polarisation is so deep that a Muslim candidate stands no chance of winning, it is felt. The report states that such a vacuum is made possible largely thanks to the delimitation process which divides Muslim majority wards and merges them with other wards having a sizeable Hindu population in order to dilute the number of Muslim voters in every ward.

Apart from this, Vadodara is also being fanned with hate by local radical Hindutva groups. Many Hindu women are harassed if they choose to marry Muslim men.

What is believed to have really stirred the communal pot ahead of the March showdown was damaging hate speech by Rohan Shah, Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader, who spoke right after the Shobha Yatra, the report states. According to videos accessed by the CSSS team, Shah instigated local Hindus to act against Muslims.

Shah said that their Yatra had been “attacked” and that if any VHP workers were arrested in this regard, Vadodara would be set ablaze and everyone would “relive the 2002 Gujarat riots.” He also called upon Hindus to “stop eating from Muslim eateries” and to boycott their businesses, and said that this was not Pakistan that Muslims could be dragged out of their houses and killed.


Locals from the area believe that every Ram Navami from 2021 has been even more violent than the previous one.

In April, The Wire had reported on how locals had shared that the Shobha Yatra took a different route that year to be able to pass both a mosque and a dargah on its way. The fact-finding report, adding to this, suggested that Hindutva organisations seem “to be testing the extent of subjugation of the Muslim community…even a mild resistance from the Muslims is enough to trigger off communal riots.”

Hozefa Ujjaini of Buniyaad, who was part of the fact-finding team told The Wire that Gujarat home minister Harsh Sanghavi’s statement after the processions acted as a cue for the police to take rough arbitrary action against the Muslims in the form of a combing operation.

Ujjaini said that in a media clip Sanghavi is seen as saying, “Whoever pelted stones during the Ram Navami procession should not be able to look at stones in the future.”

“This clearly hinted at strict and oppressive action against Muslims and also condoned the role of the organisers of the procession and their instigation of violence. The state elected representatives were not neutral in protecting the innocent or undertaking an impartial investigation into the violence,” said Ujjaini.

Hussein Sheikh, a local who witnessed the attack on the Dhuldhoyawad Mosque in his vicinity said that when Hindutva attackers came they left no stone unturned in making Muslims feel unwanted. “The way they attack and destroy our property shows that they want to claim our space,” Sheikh shared.

Arms as the norm

Locals like Sheikh, who have been living under the shadow of vandalised Islamic shrines and broken mosques have also noticed that following Islam in recent times has gotten distinctly dangerous.

They told The Wire that whichever rally aims to pass by a Muslim locality during a Hindu festival has participants carrying arms.

The CSSS report confirms this. The report states that the members saw a video in which one reveller in the rally was carrying a sword while some others were carrying sticks. The team was told that the revellers were also carrying trishuls. It also states that the intent of carrying arms was to intimidate the Muslim community, almost reminding them that violence could be used against them any moment.

The report also suggests that religious festivals and related festivities should not have participants who are armed, that the police should not give permission to armed processions and that if this permission is flouted then strict action be taken against the organisers.


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Muslim man dies after alleged assault by cow vigilantes in Nashik


A Muslim man died and one of his associates was injured in Nashik after they were allegedly assaulted by cow vigilantes on suspicion of transporting cattle for slaughter, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday.

Six persons have been arrested in the case, some of whom are associated with the Hindutva organisation Rashtriya Bajrang Dal, the police said. The person who died has been identified as Lukman Ansari.

According to the police, the incident took place on June 8 when Ansari and two of his associates, Aqueel Gavandi and Pappu Paddi were transporting cattle in a vehicle. They were intercepted by 10 to 15 members of the Hindutva organisation at Nashik’s Igatpuri area, reported PTI.

Igatpuri Police Station Inspector Raju Surve said that on being intercepted Gavandi ran, while the other two were beaten up by the cow vigilantes.

Ansari, despite being injured also managed to escape his attackers, but was found dead two days later in a 150-meter-deep trench. Paddi was handed over the to police and was admitted to a hospital for treatment, according to The Times of India.

Surve said that the post-mortem report showed that Ansari died due to injuries he sustained on his head and other parts of the body.

“We have now pressed the additional charge of murder against the six accused,” he said, according to the newspaper. “Earlier, they had been booked under section 326 [voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means] and other sections of the Indian Penal Code.”

Those arrested have been identified as Pradip Aadole (34), Bhaskar Bhagat (28), Vijay Bhagade (26), Chetan Sonawane (26), Rupesh Joshi (39) and Shekhar Ramchandra Gaikwad (22).


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South Asia


Afghan Commander And Cleric: We Do Not Allow Foreigners to Interfere With Internal Issue


In a special interview with TOLOnews, Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid said the current Afghan government would never accept some of the demands made by the international community because they are in opposition to Islamic Sharia and Afghan culture.

According to Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid, the formation of an inclusive government, educational issues and freedom of expression are the internal issues of the country, and the world should not interfere in such issues.

"We do not allow foreigners to interfere in internal affairs. The fact of which kind of government we have, and which form it should take, and who should be in the government and who shouldn’t, how should the education system be and how should you behave regarding freedom of speech... From the past, our policy has been that Afghans themselves should decide,” the acting defence minister said.

Referring to the United States, the acting defence minister said that now Washington is not on the path of friendship but on the path of enmity with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. He asked the US to stop interfering in Afghanistan's internal affairs. "We say to America that Afghanistan is an independent and free country. It should have its freedom in cultural, political and economic spheres. They should not try to keep it under their control or apply their goals to it,” said Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid.

In another section of the interview, referring to border conflicts between the border guards of the Islamic Emirate and the border guards of neighbouring countries, Mujahid stated that the current government does not want to fight or clash with any nation, particularly the neighbours.

"Sometimes it has happened that civilians have been martyred on some borders. These cases have also happened in border areas with Pakistan, Iran and other countries. It has happened between our security forces and the other sides as a result of tension,” the acting defence minister said.

Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid stressed in the interview that the Islamic Emirate wants to have good ties with all nations, including its neighbours.

He reiterated the promise that the Islamic Emirate will never permit the use of Afghan soil against other nations, including neighbouring countries.


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Calls in Oslo for Islamic Emirate to Fulfill Commitments: Source


Participants at the meeting in Oslo, Norway on the Afghan situation stressed the need for the formation of an inclusive government in Afghanistan and discussed the Islamic Emirate’s commitments to the international community as well as the education of girls, a source told TOLOnews.

The second day of the meeting was held on Wednesday, and members of the Islamic Emirate were in attendance.

The UN Secretary General special envoy for Afghanistan, Roza Otunbayeva, attended the meeting, the source said.

According to the source, participants at the meeting also emphasized the need to start an intra-Afghan dialogue, as called for in the Doha agreement.

“There should be good efforts for the political situation and political engagement between the Islamic Emirate and international community. When political engagement is not taking place between the Islamic Emirate and the international community, we can never attract the humanitarian aid of the international community to our country,” said Ahmad Andar, political analyst.

The deputy spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zia Ahmad Takal, told TOLOnews that Abdul Qahar Balkhi from the Foreign Ministry, Shamsuddin Mansour from the Interior Ministry and Rohullah Omar from the Defense Ministry participated in the meeting.

Also, Jafar Mahdawi from Hezb-e-Sar Jangal, Amin Karim from Hezb-e-Islami, and Kawun Kakar and Qahramana Kakar represented the civil society in this meeting.

“The international conference on Afghanistan will have legitimacy when the role of women is significant and women are supported politically,” said Nazillah Hassanzada, women’s rights activist.

The meeting was also attended by envoys from the US, UK, Qatar, Italy, India and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the head of the Islamic Emirate’s Political Office in Qatar, Suhail Shaheen, said that the achievements of the Islamic Emirate and stance of the interim government on various issues will be specified in this meeting.

“The participation of the delegation of the Islamic Emirate’s government in the meetings on Afghanistan is needed so that the realities in Afghanistan and also the stance of the Islamic Emirate is conveyed to the international community,” he said.

The meeting is running from June 13 to 15.


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Put social justice at heart of int'l dev agenda, PM tells World of Work summit

Thu Jun 15, 2023

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has put emphasis on international initiatives to help prepare the young generation to face the challenges of the coming world order.

"That is what we expect from international communities and organisations," she said yesterday responding to a question emerging from the plenary session of the two-day "World of Work Summit: Social Justice for All" in the Swiss city of Geneva.

This is a high-level forum for global voices to address the need for increased, coordinated and coherent action in support of social justice.

"What I feel is that the international community needs to put social justice at the heart of the international development agenda like SDGs," she said.

In Bangladesh, the PM said her government has undertaken massive social safety net programmes.

"It is for labourers, farmers, elderly people and students. Even the working and lactating mothers and disabled people are covered by the programmes," she said.

She mentioned that the government is giving them allowances too.

"We have created social safety net in our humble way. But I think that it should be in a massive way. And ILO can take an initiative in this regard and international community should come forward to assist people to ensure that no one is left behind," she said.

The prime minister reiterated her call that there can be no lasting peace or sustainable development without social justice.

She said the world is changing, the new technology is coming, and the fourth industrial revolution is in the offing.

"What we want is that no one should lose job. So, to create job opportunities what we need is education. Everybody must learn about digital devices and know how to use it," she said.

For this purpose, she put emphasis on giving priority in providing training on new technology.

"The people should become skilled. That is what we are doing in our country," she said.

She said that the government is giving education to them.

"We have introduced digital laboratories and computer laboratories from the school level. Then the training and incubation centres have been set up. Young generation get their training there. We are preparing our people," she said.


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Why US Congressmen’s letter has come as a shock for minority community leaders in Bangladesh

Jun 15, 2023

By Farid Hossain: When right-wing Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its Islamist ally, Jamaat-e-Islami, won the general election in 2001, the minority Hindus bore the brunt of the celebration. The winners unleashed a reign of terror, rape and arson against the Hindus in the country’s southwestern districts, leaving thousands of them homeless and traumatised. Even the minor children were sexually harassed. In central Sirajganj district a 12-year-old Hindu girl was raped in anti-Hindu rampage. She was punished as her family, like many Hindus in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, believed to have voted for the Awami League (AL), a secular party that lost in the disputed vote.

The Hindus, who account for nearly 8% of Bangladesh’s 170 million people, are considered vote bank of the AL considering the party’s commitment to liberal and secular policies. Political opponents of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League thus attack the party as pro-Hindu. If not pro-Hindu, the AL is surely a party that has a soft corner for the minority community for their role in the country’s 1971 War of Liberation and the plight they had suffered at the hands of the Pakistani occupation forces. The military crackdown in 1971 led to an exodus of 10 million Bengalis, most of them Hindus, to neighbouring India.

The BNP and Jamaat have a history of pursuing politics of communal disharmony in Bangladesh. General Ziaur Rahman, the founding leader of BNP, inserted the Islamic phrase ‘Bismillah’ in the Constitution's preamble and replaced "secularism" with "Absolute Trust and Faith in the Almighty Allah". Another military dictator General Hussain Muhammad Ershad declared Islam as the state religion of Bangladesh, a controversial move to undermine the equal status of the non-Muslim minorities. For the rightist parties in Bangladesh, bashing the minorities has become a pattern, while Hasina’s secular party is seen as a protector of their rights.

So, it came as a shock for the minority community members when six US Congressmen recently wrote a letter to their president seeking his intervention to stop persecution of Hindus in Bangladesh. The lawmakers’ claim of Hindu population being halved under Hasina’s rule was vehemently rejected as false and malicious.

Also the Congressmen’s plea for “presidential intervention to stop participation of Bangladesh peacekeepers in UN missions” is being seen as a “shot in the arm” for radical forces, “a threat to communal harmony” and framed with “highly undiplomatic” assertions.

Advocate Rana Dasgupta, leader of Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Oikya Parishad, angrily trashed Congressmen’s claim of minority persecution during Hasina’s rule.

"I will say this claim is a travesty of truth," he said, adding that a vested group is working behind the scene ahead of the national election due in December or next January.

In reference to a number of surveys, he added, "In between 1947 and 1971, under Pakistani rule, a whopping 9.7% of the (Hindu) population declined."

Since Bangladesh became independent, over the last five decades, the Hindu population declined by around 10% only.

Nirmal Rozario, president of Bangladesh Christian Association, agreed with Rana Dasgupta and strongly rejected the allegation that Christians are being subjected to persecution in the country.

"It is an outright lie. Rather, the reality is that since the return of Awami League, our community has been living in harmony – with assistance from the prime minister. The government's development schemes connect the minorities as well," he said.

Many Bangladeshis, meanwhile, raised eyebrow when BNP-Jamaat jumped on the bandwagon of such anti-Bangladesh propaganda. The opposition parties and their social media supporters brazenly welcomed the misleading letter as a “victory and endorsement to their call for ouster of the government without taking part in polls”.

Turning a blind eye to such erroneous claims, Rumeen Farhana, a top BNP leader, did a Facebook live where she claimed that this letter showed that allegations her party has circulated for so long received international recognition.

Taking a dig at Rumeen, the country’s academics lambasted former BNP lawmaker for defending such brazen lies.

Researcher and freedom fighter Ajoy Das Gupta said, “Such justification is an attempt to hide the BNP and Jamaat’s sordid record of attacking minorities.” “The alliance still relies mostly on religion card,” he added.

The letter of the US lawmakers came close on the heels of a new US visa policy targeting Bangladesh’s upcoming national election. The visa policy, US Secretary of State said is aimed at promoting democracy, free and fair election in Bangladesh. The individuals responsible for or complicit in rigging votes through violence and intimidation will not be given US visa, according to the policy. In public, Hasina’s party has welcomed it as a positive move as it will discourage BNP from resorting to arson and violence like the party did during 2014 and 2018 elections. In private, some ruling party leaders have, however, expressed disappointment over the US move. BNP, however, considers that the new policy seeks to prevent the government from staging another rigged balloting.

Questions are being asked if the US moves came in violation of the international principle of non-interference into another country’s internal matters. Is it a blatant disregard for Bangladesh’s sovereignty?

In addition to biased projection of the condition of the minorities, the letter also accused Bangladesh of tilting closer to China and Russia against the US’s geopolitical interest in the region.

Foreign affairs experts denounced such a statement as completely baseless, misleading, misguided and undiplomatic by lawmakers of any foreign country, not to mention about a democratic country like the US. Sheikh Hasina has gone an extra mile to strengthen bilateral relations through signing TICFA and introducing Security Dialogue between Bangladesh and the US, according to experts.

Bangladesh believes in maintaining partnerships with all great powers for mutual interests and the country is not a pawn to any great power whether it is the US or China. The statement appears to be a piece of ill understanding and full ignorance about current development in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is just the opposite of what the statement tends to indicate and it would rather harm US interests in the region, said one of the experts.

Hasina’s government has insisted it is committed to establishing democracy in Bangladesh, which had witnessed long years of military or authoritarian rule since its independence in 1971.

Sadly, some of the world’s leading human rights organisations have failed to understand the perspective of Bangladesh. When Hasina’s government cleared the way for the trial of those accused of committing crimes against humanity during the 1971 War of Liberation rights, groups like the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) resorted to criticising the process of trial by an independent International Crimes Tribunal.

Such biased views peddled by both of the organisations, years back centering the war crimes trial, even stands in stark contrast to the recent recognition of US-based Lemkin Institute for the 1971 genocide.

Another key loophole in the letter emerged over reliance on a controversial video, made by German broadcaster DW in partnership with an offshore portal, that has ceaselessly circulated “scare campaign” during Covid in Bangladesh.

Months back, when DW officially collaborated with the portal Netro News and aired the video, a wave of condemnation came up as the German outlet hid the fact that its official partner is headed by the son-in-law of country’s opposition leader Dr Kamal Hossain, who reportedly vowed to bring down AL from power.

While Dr Kamal fought from the forefront and stitched an alliance among aspirants from Jamaat and BNP to take part in election under one opposition umbrella in 2018, his son-in-law David Bergman earned notoriety for demeaning war crimes through his blogs for years, according to anti-war crimes campaigners.

A number of minority leaders questioned the timing of US lawmakers’ letter. With national polls not far away, they are fearful of a fresh wave of attacks, in light of past experiences.

In the run-up to the 2014 election, Jamaat-BNP orchestrated a barrage of attacks, including setting fires to houses, looting and destroying places of worship. Even hate campaign against the Hindus and other communities became common.

Another clear biased citation appeared in the letter was “complete reliance” on two so-called rights bodies, HRW and Amnesty.

Both organisations blew out the coveted cover of neutrality with regards to Bangladesh years back for demanding trial of “pro liberation forces” and “undermining war crimes” perpetrated by top war criminals in league with Pakistan Amy back in 1971, as validated by rights activists.

To defend two top war criminals, Amnesty International even defied all ambits of justice as it suggested pro-independence forces also be brought to justice.

“This is equivalent to suggesting that it was not only the Nazis, but also the members of allied forces in World War II which should have been brought to justice,” according to a local media report.

Meanwhile, in 2015, a statement issued by HRW stood as a glaring defence for Jamaat leader Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, who was executed after the International Crimes Tribunal found him guilty of killing 164 people in addition to committing other severe offences.

Surprisingly, according to HRW, the severe crimes committed by Kamruzzman were not good enough for capital punishment.

In a statement, the US-based rights group said, "The Bangladesh government should impose a moratorium on the death penalty and quickly join the growing number of countries that have abolished this barbaric practice.”

"The severity of the offence in question provides no justification for its continued use," the statement went on.

(The writer, Farid Hossain, is the editor of United News of Bangladesh (UNB). In more than 50 years of his journalism career, he also worked for The Associated Press (AP), TIME magazine, and The Telegraph in Kolkata.)


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Bangladesh Shames Pak; 'Surpasses' Islamabad In All Economic Sectors

Jun 15, 2023

Bangladesh's local media claimed that the country has surpassed Pakistan in the economic sector. This after Dhaka presented a budget of USD 71 billion and a growth rate of 7.5 percent. Stuck in an economic vortex, Pakistan's growth is only 3.5 percent and the inflation is 21 percent. Watch the video for more.


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Flash Floods Kill 6, Injure 8 in Afghanistan

June 14, 2023

Shafiullah Rahimi, a Taliban spokesperson for the Natural disasters management authority, said on Wednesday that the flash floods hit almost eight provinces in the country, including Badakhshan, Paktia, Kunar, Bamyan, Ghor, Takhar, Nuristan and Parwan.

The natural disaster had financial losses, including destroying 30 residential houses, 85 animals and seven bridges, according to Rahimi.

Last month, flash floods hit Ghor province, killing four women, one man and a child in Firozkoh city.

A similar incident occurred in the eastern province of Nangarhar, killing four people and injuring more than 25 others.

According to several reports, at least 29 people were killed across the 31 provinces of the country due to flash floods and earthquakes in April 2023.

Meanwhile, officials said the natural disasters brought material and financial losses, including the death of 848 animals, the destruction of 155 houses, the partial damage of 1,242 houses, and the loss of 7,106 acres of agricultural land.

Afghanistan is the most vulnerable country to various natural disasters, including flooding, earthquake, avalanches, heavy rains and landslides.


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Gas Suffocation in Coal Mine Kills 2 Afghan Miners in Samangan

June 14, 2023

Mohammad Nasim Khybershekan, the district governor of Dara-e-Suf Bala, Samangan province, has confirmed that the incident occurred on Saturday in the Merak Dahane mine in Dara-e- Suf Bala district.

He pointed out that the main reason for the death and suffocation of mine workers was non-professional mining in the area.

Meanwhile, the provincial health officials said that the suffocated people were transferred to a medical hospital for treatment.

Earlier on Saturday, a coalminer lost his life, and another went unconscious due to gas suffocation in a coal mine in the Baghlan province of Afghanistan.

A toxic gas leaked as workers worked in a coal mine in the Tala-o-Barfak district. As a result, one miner was killed, and another fainted.

According to officials, unsafe mining practices, poor equipment, and unskilled workers are the factors for mining causalities.


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Afghanistan: Chinese Investors Keen on Investing in Different Sectors

June 14, 2023

During the visit, Chinese investors met with the governor of Maidan Wardak province Qari Bakhtyar Mouaz and stated they are interested to build production plants of kitchen utensils, wire nets, and diapers, according to reports.

The report added, these foreign investors would like to invest an estimated amount of $250,000 for a starter and will increase their investment in a gradual manner.

For his part, Governor Qari Bakhtyar Mouaz said that they are ready to provide all the necessary facilities for the construction of these factories in the industrial town of the province.

Additionally, Mr. Mouaz stressed that security-wise, every corner of Afghanistan is ready for investment, and he called on national and international entrepreneurs to consider Maidan Wardak a promising and potential destination for small and medium-sized businesses. 

Since the return of the Taliban to power in August 2021, foreign investment has declined to almost zero according to economic experts, as the country is currently plagued with dire economic and humanitarian situations.

Hundreds of national investors and business people fled the country fearing death threats and persecution from the Taliban regime, and thousands of development projects throughout the country have been left incomplete following the late regime change.


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Iran Hands Over Another 15 Afghan Prisoners

June 14, 2023

The released prisoners were handed over to the diplomatic representative of Afghanistan in Nimroz. These freed people were arrested due to the lack of legal documents during the past years.

This comes two days after releasing of over 101 Afghan prisoners Sunday to Afghanistan who was serving prison sentences in Iran.

According to the Foreign Ministry of Afghanistan on Monday, “As a result of the efforts of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the General Directorate of Follow-up and Supervision of the Leader’s Orders and the General Director of Prisons, 100 Afghan prisoners were transferred again in Nimruz in connection with the agreement reached with the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

According to Askar Jalalian, Iran’s deputy director of international affairs and human rights at the Ministry of Justice, the inmates were given to the Taliban via the Nimroz border to complete the remainder of their sentences there.

 “The handover was made possible through the joint efforts of the Committee for the Transfer of Convicts at the Ministry of Justice, along with the cooperation of the judiciary, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Prisons Organization.”

According to the Iranian Justice Ministry, close to 800 Afghan prisoners were given to members of Afghanistan’s interim Taliban government last year per the terms of the two countries prisoner transfer agreement.


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Afghanistan and Central Asian Association to Organize ‘London Peace Conference’

June 14, 2023

The Afghanistan and Central Asian Association (ACAA) is organizing the London Peace Conference on Afghanistan in collaboration with a number of diaspora groups, activists, and international organizations to urgently call attention to the humanitarian crisis in the country. 

The Peace Conference on Afghanistan will take place on Friday, June 19 in London, hosting panel discussions on important topics such as the challenges faced by Afghan refugees, the state of human rights and women’s rights in Afghanistan, and how things can change for the better under the Taliban regime.

The conference is aimed at discussing the dire humanitarian situation in the war-torn country and seeking solutions to end the 45-year war in Afghanistan. Participants will include diaspora groups, the Afghan community, academics, and other stakeholders.

Meanwhile, representatives from a number of foreign embassies including the British Foreign Office, Embassy of Germany, Embassy of Slovakia, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Indian Embassy have already confirmed their presence at the conference.

Dr. Nooralhaq Nasimi, the founder and Director of ACAA said, “The human rights situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated since the Taliban takeover in August 2021. The de facto group has imposed several restrictions on women and girls, limiting their access to education, employment and public interactions.”

Dr. Nasimi further added that immediate actions need to be taken to change the political climate of Afghanistan and address the dire humanitarian crisis the country is faced with. 

The ACAA is an award-winning British charity founded in 2000 by Dr. Nooralhaq Nasimi, to support the integration of refugees from Afghanistan and promote British values among many refugee groups in the UK.


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11 cases against Khaleda: Charge framing hearing on July 16

Thu Jun 15, 2023

A Dhaka court today set July 16 for hearing on charge framing against BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia in 11 cases, including a sedition case.

Judge Md Asaduzzaman of Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court adjourned the hearing and fixed the new date, said Additional Public Prosecutor Tapash Kumar Pal.

The adjournment came following petitions submitted by defence, citing different reasons.

Khaleda, who is out of jail following an executive order from the government, is now unwell and she was earlier admitted to Evercare Hospital for treatment.

Among the 11 cases, 10 were filed in the first three months of 2015 over arson attacks, while the other one was filed with a Dhaka court on charge of making seditious comments on freedom fighters and martyrs of the Liberation War.

Three corruption cases against Khaleda -- Gatco, Niko and Boropukuria coalmine -- are now pending with three other special courts in Dhaka.

Two more cases are pending with the Second Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court.


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Arab World


Rare Versions Of Holy Qur'an Written Through Embroidery Showcased At Doha International Book Fair

JUNE 15, 2023

The 32nd Doha International Book Fair currently being held at Doha Exhibition & Convention Centre (DECC) features a collection of rare Holy Qur'an versions at the artistic level, in terms of calligraphy, writing and historical value.

One of the most outstanding series of the Holy Qur'an made by Syrian artist Mohamed Mahir Hadri is written on black velvet cloth in a style of covering threads of the holy Ka'aba.

In a statement to Qatar News Agency (QNA), calligrapher and embroiderer Hadri said he had innovated a new style in writing, using thread and sewing machine, a new method which is globally unknown in writing the Holy Qur'an, and added that he had entirely completed the Holy Qur'an written by thread and sewing machine for the first time in the world. He pointed out that the overall weight of the Holy Qur'an is 200kg with the dimension of roughly one metre high and half a metre wide per page, and said it took 12 years to be accomplished, with each volume containing two and half parts, while the page itself includes 15 paragraphs.

He added that the Holy Qur'an is like the predominant copies that were written through Ottoman calligraphy, and emphasised that the value of the Holy Qur'an prompted him to participate in many international book fairs, as it is worth QR100,000. He noted his interest in utilising embroidery to decorate the frames of the Holy Qur'an's pages through counting on many decorative schools, and indicated that each volume depended on an artistic decorative school and dominated by Levantine school, Turkish, Moroccan, and others, and outlined that the copy of the Holy Qur'an was edited and revised by official authorities.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Mohamed al-Yaqoubi from Dar al-Ihsan for Publishing and Distribution in Iran has said the publishing house is showcasing a set of rare Holy Qur'an versions with a history of more than 500 years at the book fair.


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Saudi’s UK ambassador praises Kingdom’s art students

June 15, 2023

LONDON: Saudi Ambassador to the UK Prince Khalid bin Bandar met several female students from Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University’s College of Arts and Design, on Wednesday at his office in London, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Prince Khalid praised their artwork, which he said reflects Saudi Arabia’s historical heritage and was in line with Vision 2030’s goal of promoting the nation’s culture.


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Saudi Arabia aid to international community reaches $96 billion

June 15, 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has provided over $96 billion in humanitarian aid to167 countries around the world, from 1996 to 2023, reported SPA on Wednesday.

Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabeeah, advisor at the Saudi Royal Court and the general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), made his remarks during a meeting with media professionals and influencers in Spain.

During the meeting, Al-Rabeeah said that KSrelief aims to be a leading international center for humanitarian aid, and emphasized its core values of impartiality, transparency, quality, professionalism, initiative, creativity and building partnerships.

Al-Rabeeah said that KSrelief has implemented 2,374 projects worth more than $6.2 billion in 91 countries.

The initiatives were carried out in cooperation with 175 local, regional and international partners since the inception of the center in May 2015.

Al-Rabeeah said that among KSrelief’s priorities was support for over 885 projects for women and 815 for children.

He said KSrelief’s other main projects include the work of Masam, which deactivated 402,000 land mines in Yemen laid by Houthi militia, as well as the provision of prosthetic limbs for civilians injured in the war.

Al-Rabeeah also noted that the Kingdom hosts over 1 million refugees from Yemen, Syria and Myanmar, who are provided jobs, and free healthcare and education. He said Saudi Arabia wants to integrate the refugees into domestic society.


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Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister will visit Iran on Saturday - Tasnim

June 15, 2023

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, will visit Tehran on Saturday, Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency said on Thursday.

He is set to meet with Iranian officials, Tasnim said.

Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed in March, in a deal brokered by China, to end a diplomatic rift and re-establish relations following years of hostility that had endangered regional stability including in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon.

Iran officially reopened its embassy in Saudi Arabia on June 7.


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Saudi Cabinet approves Civil Transactions Law

June 14, 2023

Riyadh: The Saudi Cabinet has approved the Civil Transactions Law, the third of four laws announced as part of legal reforms in 2021.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the approval of the law following its review by the Shoura Council.

The remaining law is the penal code for discretionary sanctions.

The crown prince said that the Civil Transactions Law represents a “remarkable transformation” within the system of specialized legislations.

“The law was prepared in a way taking advantage of the latest legal trends and the best international judicial practices, in light of the provisions of the Islamic Shariah and its purposes. It also comes in harmony with Saudi Arabia’s international obligations in light of the agreements that have been ratified by it so as to keep pace with the developments of contemporary life,” he said.

He added that the law was based on foundations represented by the protection of property, stability and validity of contracts, identification of sources of rights and obligations and their effects, and clarity of legal positions.

“The law will have a positive impact on the business environment and increase its attractiveness, and will also contribute to regulating economic movement and the stability of financial rights, in addition to facilitating decision-making with regard to investment. It will also enhance transparency and increase the ability to predict judgments in the field of civil transactions and reduce discrepancies in judicial reasoning to reach prompt justice, apart from contributing to bringing down disputes,” the crown prince said.

He highlighted the delay in the law’s approval, originally expected in the fourth quarter of 2022, saying that it was necessary to carry out further studies as well as scrutinize the provisions of its regulations.

The Civil Transactions Law includes provisions that define contracts, such as the elements of a contract; its validity; its effects among the contracting parties; the provisions related to its invalidity and termination; and the provisions of the harmful act and rules for compensation. The statutory texts of the law also deal with all forms of ownership and their provisions.

Dr. Khalid Al-Yousef, president of the Saudi Court of Grievances and head of the Administrative Judiciary Council, said that the Cabinet’s approval of the Civil Transactions Law will enhance the efficiency of dispute settlement and preserve the legal positions of people, due to the existence of clear objective rules governing disputes that occur between contracting parties and others.

This will achieve judicial safety for all parties, raise the confidence of customers and consolidate the principles of justice and integrity, he added.

Al-Yousef extended his thanks and gratitude to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, noting that the law represents a modern model for specialized legislation. It also reflects the Kingdom’s keenness to develop the legislative environment, and showcases the depth and strength of the regulatory authority, as well as its progress and development, he added.

The law contains provisions on the regulation of contracts and financial transactions in daily life, such as the organization of sales and lease contracts, participations, contracting and others, the provisions on the compensation for damage in the event of an act by a person who caused damage to others, such as property damage or self-damage, and the amount of compensation to which the injured person is entitled.

Other provisions deal with establishing rules and provisions that guarantee creditors rights and balance the interests of creditors with those of debtors.

Minister of Commerce Majid Al-Qasabi said on Twitter: “The Civil Transactions Law was prepared in an integrated manner, based on Islamic Shariah and the developments of contemporary life to protect property and stability of financial rights, and to achieve prompt justice in accordance with international best practices.”


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Taif governor reviews airport operations for Hajj

June 14, 2023

RIYADH: Taif Gov. Prince Saud bin Nahar bin Saud visited Taif International Airport to review services provided to Hajj pilgrims, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

He was briefed on the airport’s operations and services provided to the province’s residents and visitors.

The director general of the airport said that several schemes, in cooperation with government and private bodies, had been launched for Hajj, including hosting pilgrim welcome ceremonies, expediting the completion of arrival and entry procedures, and launching a platform for medical consultations.

Prince Saud bin Nahar bin Saud expressed his pride in the airport operations, adding that its services represented Saudi Arabia’s care and concern for pilgrims.


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Madinah Medical Centre Saves Indonesian Woman After Her Heart Stopped For 8 Minutes

June 14, 2023

RIYADH: A medical team at Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport Medical Centre in Madinah saved the life of an Indonesian woman whose heart stopped for 8 minutes after landing at the airport, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

After her condition stabilized, the woman was transferred to hospital for a thorough medical examination.

The medical centre has received 90,104 pilgrims since the beginning of the Hajj season this year through the main centre and temporary health units inside the airport, with 87,857 pilgrims benefiting from its preventive services, 2,218 being treated as patients and 29 being referred to a hospital for a treatment plan.


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Promotion of religious tourism to ensure interfaith harmony: minister

June 15, 2023

SWAT: Minister of State and Chairman of Prime Minister’s Task Force on Gandhara Tourism Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani here on Wednesday called for promoting religious tourism in Swat and other areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to ensure inter-faith harmony and generate revenue.

He visited Buddhist sites in Barikot along with ambassadors and diplomats from Germany and Nepal. He said that archaeological sites were abundant in Swat as it remained the cradle of various civilisations.

“With significant archaeological monuments and remains, many tourists from abroad want to visit it. Thankfully, the people of Swat are also very friendly and hospitable. They want promotion of tourism and development in the area,” said Dr Ramesh.

Foreign diplomats visit Buddhist sites in Swat

He said that Buddhist sites in Swat and other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa could attract foreign tourists and help generate huge revenue if they were preserved and developed properly.

He also praised the natural beauty of Swat and said that the valley was known as a mini-Switzerland due to its natural beauty and foreign tourists wanted to come and invest in the area. He added that tourism policy needed to improve to facilitate foreign tourists.

On occasion, the head of communication and cultural affairs at German embassy, Dorota Berezicki, said that Swat was a peaceful place and there was no security risk for local or foreign tourists.

“Swat is not only rich in heritage, but people of Swat are also hospitable and pay great respect to their guests,” she said. She added that foreign tourists should witness the mesmerising beauty of Swat.

The ambassador of Nepal, Tapas Adhikari, stressed the need for effective media projection and promotion of religious tourism to create a soft image of the country.

He said that Swat had great potential for religious tourism and government should provide facilities to foreigners, especially devotees of Buddhism.

Earlier, the head of sub-regional office of the archaeology department, Nawazuddin, briefed the delegation about the heritage sites of Bazira City, Shingardar Stupa, Ghalegay Buddhist monument, museum and other sites.

During the two-day stay, the delegation would also visit Swat Museum, Butkara Stupa 1 and 2, Saidu Stupa and Malam Jabba hill station.


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Trials under army laws meet requirements for fair trial: Law Minister

JUNE 15, 2023

Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar on Wednesday insisted that trials under army laws meet the “internationally acknowledged minimum requirements” that form the basis of a fair trial. The minister expressed his views while speaking to the media after a meeting of the Supreme Judicial Council in Islamabad, around a month after the government decided to try the suspects accused of attacking military installations on May 9 under army laws.

To lend strength to his argument, he particularly cited Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 regarding a fair trial, which he said gave the right to appoint a counsel of choice, reduce defence evidence, have access to the relevant record and seek a judicial review. The army laws “covered all these [aspects] and that is why it is said that they meet the internationally acknowledged minimum requirements pertaining to the procedure and law”, he added.

When asked whether any “special considerations” were being mulled regarding the trial of women under army laws, the minister replied: “Matters [pertaining to military trials] will be decided according to the operation of the law. It is not the choice of the federal government or any institution.

“The relevant institution will proceed on this in line with how they are satisfied with the [available] material.”

However, he continued, no case of woman had been referred to the military court till now. The minister’s remarks come amid concerns over its decision to try May 9 suspects under army laws.

On May 9, countrywide protests had erupted after the paramilitary Rangers had whisked away PTI chief Imran Khan from the Islamabad High Court in a corruption case. While the protests were under way, public and private properties, including military installations, were attacked and vandalised. Subsequently, the army termed the day a “dark chapter” and announced around a week after the incidents its intent to try the rioters under relevant laws, including two military laws – the Pakistan Army Act and Official Secrets Act.

The decision was endorsed by the National Security Committee – the country’s principal decision-making forum on foreign policy and national security – a day later amid opposition by rights organisations and activists. The PTI has also approached the Supreme Court against the federal government’s decision to prosecute civilians under the Army Act while Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif clarified last month that only those accused of vandalising civilian infrastructures would be tried under the anti-terrorism law while those accused of vandalising military property would be put on trial under military laws.

So far, an Lahore anti-terrorism court has sanctioned the handing over of 16 May 9 suspects to the military and a Rawalpindi court has approved the handing over of another eight suspects – both developments having taken place within the span of a week in May. During the gap between the two hearings, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah had announced that 33 suspects – 19 in Punjab and 14 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – had been handed over to the military until then, following attacks on army installations during protests on May 9.


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Ombudsperson, IG Punjab discuss cases of harassment of women, children

JUNE 15, 2023

Federal Ombudsman for Protection against Harassment Fauzia waqar visited Central Police Office and met IG Punjab Dr Usman Anwar. During the meeting, a detailed discussion was held regarding harassment cases and police action against women, children and transgenders.

The IG Punjab informed about the various facilities of 1787 complaint system, police protection centers, women safety app for victims of harassment.

Usman Anwar told that police Tahaffuz Markaz have provided assistance to more than 6200 people, including women and transgenders, on complaints of harassment, abuse and violence. Dr. Usman Anwar said that the cases of victim women and transgenders are dealt with by women police officers and victim support officers themselves.

He also said that women officers have been included in the anti-harassment inquiry committee established in each district. Usman Anwar further said that immediate action is being taken on harassment complaints through 1787 Complaint System, Anti-Women Harassment and Violence Cell, Police Tahaffuz Markaz and Punjab Police Public App.

Fauzia Waqar while speaking said that after the amendment of the Workplace Harassment Act 2022, any person can file complaints regarding harassment. He said that Punjab Police’s actions to prevent gender-based crimes, especially violence against women, harassment and other incidents, are commendable. Joint actions with Punjab Police will continue to prioritize women empowerment and providing them with a safe environment.

IG Punjab escorted Fauzia Waqar to the newly constructed projects including Shuhada and Ghazi Wall, Pictures Gallery of Central Police Office.

At the end of the meeting, he presented a commemorative souvenir of Punjab Police to her. DIG Headquarters Humayun Bashir Tarar, AIG Admin Amara Athar and other senior police officers were also present on this occasion.

Inspector General Police Punjab Dr. Usman Anwar has said that more than 20,000 promotions have been made from constable to DSP rank in four and a half months. Timely promotion is the basic right of every employee and the Promotion process will continue said Dr. Usman Anwar. He also said that promotions have also been made in Punjab Highway Patrol and service structure of CTD has been formulated.

IG Punjab further said that all officers should perform their supervisory role better in the light of field experience. IG Punjab directed to keep in touch with the subordinate employees, increase their efficiency and focus on solving the problems. These views were expressed by Dr. Usman Anwar while addressing the ceremony of installing badges to the officers promoted to the rank of DSP at the Central Police Office today. The families and children of the promoted officers also participated in the ceremony.

IG Punjab Dr. Usman Anwar and DIG Headquarters Humayun Bashir Tarar pinned badges to five recently promoted DSPs.

The officers included DSP Ghulam Abbas, Muhammad Akram, Habib Ullah, Muhammad Arshad and Imran Khurshid. The promoted DSPs were earlier serving in the Anti-Corruption Department. IG Punjab congratulated the officers on the departmental development and directed them to perform their duties more diligently.


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Four ‘terrorists’ killed near Afghan border

June 15, 2023

QUETTA: Four suspected terrorists, including a ringleader, were killed in an exchange of fire during an operation conducted by the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of police in the Gohri Kaul area, close to the Pak-Afghan border, on Wednesday.

Arms and ammunition, including a suicide jacket, were seized during the operation, according to a CTD statement.

It explained that a suspect in custody, Ali Mohammad alias Chhota Qari, during the course of investigation disclosed that he along with Abdul Qadeer alias Qadeer Bacha alias Mansoor, Imdadullah alias Gran and Akhtar Jan alias Gudd Mansoor targeted police officials at Killa Abdullah grid station and fled, leaving head constable Mohammad Ismail severely injured.

The suspects were associated with Tehreek-i-Jihad Pakistan (TJP) group that infiltrated into FC Headquarters in Muslim Bagh on May 12.

Acting on the information provided by the suspect, security forces cordoned off the area and asked them to surrender.

However, the suspects opened indiscriminate fire on the law enforcers. During the shootout, one of the terrorists, wearing a suicide jacket, attempted to detonate but the attempt was thwarted with a sniper shot.

In an ensuing exchange of fire, four terrorists, including Ali Mohammad alias Chhota Qari, were killed.

According to the CTD, the arms and ammunition seized from their hideout included two SMGs, six magazines, 170 live cartridges, one suicide waist weighing around 10kg, three hand grenades, a motorcycle and a car that was allegedly used in the Muslim Bagh attack.


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Islamabad police book TV hosts Sabir Shakir, Moeed Pirzada for May 9 vandalism

June 14, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad police on Wednesday registered a case against anchorpersons Sabir Shakir, Moeed Pirzada, and Akbar Hussain under sections of terrorism and sedition for alleged involvement in the May 9 violent protests.

The TV hosts were booked on the complaint of a citizen named Majid Mehmood, for allegedly inciting the public into violence and vandalism amid the protests.

The complainant claimed that the charged public stationed at the Melody area in the federal capital was taking instructions directly from the nominated suspects via video.

The suspects provoked innocent people via video messages and social media posts and were playing the role of instruments of foreign anti-state agencies, he added.

"Rebellion and chaos were spread in the country by attacking military installations," the FIR stated.

Earlier, Washington-based journalist Shaheen Sehbai and three vloggers — Syed Haider Raza Mehdi, Wajahat Saeed Khan, and major (retired) Adil Farooq Raja — were also booked for inciting violence during the May 9 protests.

The arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan had triggered a response from the supporters of his party in the shape of deadly protests in major cities.

Several party leaders and thousands of workers have so far been booked in connection with the violent protests that saw attacks on the state and military installations and the deaths of numerous people.


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LHC orders release of Shah Mahmood Qureshi

JUNE 6, 2023

On Tuesday, the Lahore High Court (LHC) ordered the immediate release of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who was arrested in connection with the May 9 violent protests.

Qureshi, the former foreign minister, has been arrested several times since his first arrest.

During a hearing on a petition against his arrest, the LHC’s Rawalpindi Bench ruled that Qureshi should no longer be detained under the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance (MPO).

The court also declared Rawalpindi deputy commissioner’s MPO orders illegal and ordered authorities to release the PTI vice chairman immediately without requiring him to post surety bonds.

Assistant Attorney General Abid Aziz Rajouri represented the government’s side, while lawyer Taimoor Malik and Qureshi’s daughter Gohar Bano Malik were there for the PTI leader.


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TikTok Girl ‘Gang Raped’ By Three Men In Sindh’s Matiari District

JUNE 15, 2023

Three people are accused of committing a gang rape of a TikToker user in Sindh’s Matiari district.

The victim was lured by some men as she visited the New Saeedabad tehsil of the Matiari district, according to reports in the local media citing sources, and they sexually assaulted her there.

The victim girl went to the police after the horrifying incident and claimed that Waqas Mallah and his friends had gang-raped her.

All of the men listed as suspects are still at large, but a case has been filed against them. The victim girl bemoaned the police’s inaction in the meantime and even mentioned that the offenders have threatened her.

In Pakistan, rape and sexual assault are serious problems that affect both men and women.

In spite of the laws the Pakistani government has put in place to address sexual assault and protect the rights of survivors, sexual assault is still underreported in this South Asian country for a variety of reasons, including social stigma, fear of reprisals, and a lack of trust.


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Pakistan may fail to clinch IMF deal, fears Moody’s

JUNE 15, 2023

Moody’s Investors Service on Wednesday said Pakistan is feared to fail on reviving the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s stalled loan program worth $6.7 billion by the time it officially expires in two weeks on June 30.

Without the IMF on board, the risk of the nation’s default on foreign debt repayment has sharpened amid the country’s foreign reserves falling critically low below $3 billion after Pakistan successfully repaid a commercial loan of $1 billion to China earlier than its maturity.

The low reserves, which barely provide cover for three-week imports, may mount pressure on the rupee against the US dollar which was trading at Rs287/$ in the inter-bank market on Wednesday. It is pertinent to note that on May 11 it was just Rs12 away from a record low hit at Rs299/$ amid high political drama and poor law and order situation. Global news agency Bloomberg cited Moody’s saying Pakistan is at an increased risk of failing to restart its $6.7 billion bailout programme with the IMF, putting the South Asian country closer to a sovereign default.

“There are increasing risks that Pakistan may be unable to complete the IMF programme that expires at the end of June,” said Grace Lim, a sovereign analyst with the rating company in Singapore. “Without an IMF programme, Pakistan could default, given its very weak reserves.” Pakistan repaid $1 billion to China earlier than its maturing due date in late June under an understanding that Beijing would refinance the commercial loan to Islamabad before the outgoing fiscal year ends on June 30.

The country is making a final effort to revive its IMF programme, with a financing gap of $2 billion and exchange-rate policy among the biggest hurdles.

While the government has pledged to meet billions of debt obligations, investors remained skeptical about the nation’s dollar bonds trading in the distressed territory since last year, the news agency said. Pakistan faces about $23 billion of external debt payments for the fiscal year 2024, which begins in July. On Monday, central bank Governor Jameel Ahmad denied that officials were seeking debt restructuring talks as Pakistan will pay $900 million of sovereign debt in June and expects $2.3 billion of obligations to be rolled over.

The country’s $1 billion bond due in April next year was slightly changed at about 55.6 cents on the dollar in Asian trading on Wednesday, after sliding almost three cents in the previous two days.


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Pope Francis, Grand Imam Of Al-Azhar Make Call For Peace At UN Security Council

15 Jun 2023

Pope Francis and a leading Sunni imam have made calls for peace at the United Nations Security Council in New York where discussion focused on the importance of “human fraternity”.

The pope, who is in hospital recovering from abdominal surgery, sent a statement to the UN meeting on Wednesday in which he said that a third world war is being fought “piecemeal” and that humanity is suffering from a “famine of fraternity”.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, the 1,000-year-old seat of Sunni learning in Cairo, said in a virtual briefing to the UN council that human fraternity was the key to global peace, a point he and the pope had made in a joint document released in 2019.

“In our own day, with nuclear weapons and those of mass destruction, the battlefield has become practically unlimited, and the effects potentially catastrophic,” the pope said in his statement, which was read by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s secretary for relations with states and international organisations.

“The time has come to say an emphatic “no” to war, to state that wars are not just, but only peace is just,” the pontiff added in the statement.

Al-Tayeb said his intention in speaking to the council was to urge an end to senseless wars. He cited Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Yemen.

The grand imam also called on the council to recognise an independent Palestinian state after 75 years.

Without naming either Russia or Ukraine, the grand imam said the war unfolding on the eastern borders of Europe had instilled terror and “concern that it may regress humanity to a primitive era”.

“Our gathering today is not a luxury but a necessity, dictated by concern for the future of humanity,” al-Tayeb said.

The grand imam said the mission pursued by Al-Azhar and the Roman Catholic Church in the 2019 document on human fraternity for world peace must be pursued by political leaders.

The United Arab Emirates chose the importance of human fraternity in bringing peace as a centrepiece of its presidency of the council this month.

After the appeals by the pope and grand imam and council speeches, members adopted a resolution recognising that hate speech, racism, xenophobia, intolerance, gender discrimination and acts of extremism “can contribute to driving the outbreak, escalation and recurrence of conflict”.

The resolution, co-sponsored by the UAE and the United Kingdom, was adopted unanimously even though some of the council’s 15 members have been accused of some of the same actions they condemned.

UAE Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh told The Associated Press after the vote that it was a “landmark” resolution that for the first time brings together previous council resolutions addressing hate speech, racism, incitement and extremism in different ways.

Nusseibeh said it promotes tolerance, equality, coexistence and dialogue.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the declaration by the pope and the grand imam “a model for compassion and human solidarity” and urged countries and people everywhere “to stand together as one human family” and forge “an alliance of peace, rooted in the values of human fraternity”.


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Man jailed for calling for violence against Muslims, Jews and gays

14th June 2023

A 53 year old man from Solihull has been jailed for almost four years after admitting posting material online which called for violence against Muslims, Jews and LGBTQ people.

Richard Osborne was convicted of stirring up racial hatred as well as supporting a far-right banned terrorist group (National Action) online.

He received a three year and 10 months sentence to two counts of publishing material intended to provoke racial hatred and homophobia.

Osborne often posted graphic, racist materials on his VK profile – ranging from Holocaust denial, anti-Jewish and anti-Black cartoons, to content calling for the violent removal of Muslim, Jewish, and Black communities from the UK and Europe.

From 2021 and up to his arrest in January this year, Osborne used social media to post material which strongly indicated his support of white supremacy and neo-Nazi views.

Following his arrest, his property was searched. A baton was found in his car which had been adapted from a metal bar and he was subsequently charged with possession of an offensive weapon in a public place.

At his home, a shotgun was found under a bed so he was also charged with possession without a license.

He pleaded guilty to all the offences at a court appearance last month (May 12).

Detective Superintendent Anastasia Miller, from CTP West Midlands CTU, said: “By pleading guilty, Osborne admitted he held extreme far right views and through our investigation we were able to provide clear evidence he supported white supremacists as well as a proscribed far-right group banned by the Government.

“Someone who holds extreme views against those that don’t look like him or hold the same views is not welcome in our society. Today’s sentence should be a clear message to those who intend to spread hate and terror, we will continue to work with partners and the CPS to protect our communities by pursuing and prosecuting such individuals.

“We work tirelessly to counter terrorism. Our absolute priority is to ensure the safety and security of the people who live, work and visit the West Midlands area.”


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Morocco Islamist leader jailed for year for sex crime

14 June, 2023

A Moroccan court on Wednesday sentenced a leader of the kingdom's principal Islamist movement, which rejects the king's authority over religion, to a year in prison for "sexual harassment," an official in the movement said.

Al Adl Wa Al Ihsane (Justice and Dignity) seeks a state under sharia Islamic law but rejects any violence in pursuit of that goal. The group is tolerated but unrecognised by Moroccan authorities.

The court in the city of Meknes sentenced Mohamed Baassou for the harassment offence as well as "insult to modesty," but dismissed a charge of human trafficking, Hassan Bennajeh, a leader of Al Adl Wal Ihsane, told AFP.

He said Baassou's sentencing "only confirms that he was targeted for the group he belongs to and his opinions".

Aicha El Guella, the lawyer for the complainant, said Baassou "took advantage of the vulnerability of his victim by promising work in order to achieve his ends. The investigation found that he used the same technique with other women."

In addition to his jail time, the court ordered Baassou to pay 60,000 dirhams ($6,000) to the complainant.

Several journalists and others in Morocco have also been sentenced for sex-related offences over the past few years. They denied the accusations and said they were targeted for their views.

Moroccan authorities say such cases have nothing to do with freedom of expression and the kingdom's judiciary is independent.


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Lanarkshire Islamic group to host Eid in the Park community gathering for people of all faiths

14 JUN 2023

A Lanarkshire community group is holding its latest event to bring people of all faiths together in celebration.

Friends of Airdrie and Coatbridge Islamic Centre (FACIC), in partnership with North Lanarkshire Muslim Women's Alliance (NLMWA), will present Eid in the Park on July 2 at Coatbridge's West End Park.

The gathering will be "family-friendly" and free to enter as it seeks to honour a "multicultural Lanarkshire".

Dr Irfan Jehangir, FACIC chairperson, told Lanarkshire Live: "The purpose of this event is to celebrate the great sacrifice made by the prophet Abraham, which is a common belief equally cherished among Muslims, Christians and the Jewish community.

"There will be plenty of food, children's activities and a host of things to try for families.

"We invite all sections of the community to take this opportunity to share and care for each other, which has never been more important than during the current challenging circumstances.

"We hope to have a great turnout, like during our previous open day events held at Airdrie Islamic Centre, where hundreds of people were in attendance and created an amazing, friendly environment.

"Elected members of the community are expected to be a part of this year's event as well."

FACIC continue to play an important role in supporting the Monklands community, as Dr Jehangir explained: "We show our support for the most vulnerable people, especially in the current financial environment.

"The group managed to raise £550 for the community mental health team in Coatbridge.

"This project helps vulnerable people with mental health difficulties. During the pandemic, they helped to get basic phones for people who desperately needed to keep in touch with their mental health team.

"We have also continued our support for the local foodbanks to try and alleviate some financial burden from people struggling with the cost of living crisis.

"We would like to invite anyone from our community to drop into Airdrie Islamic Centre every Tuesday at 7pm if they want to know more about our activities, or would like to volunteer."

Eid in the Park takes place from 11am to 4pm on July 2; call 07445 405350 to find out more information.


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Mosque, Muslims' Houses Face Islamophobic Attacks In Bosnia


A mosque and houses of Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina's Surmanci town have been subjected to numerous Islamophobic attacks recently.

City of Capljina's Islamic Council chief Imam Adem Suta said there have been many attacks in Surmanci in recent days, targeting Muslims.

“First of all, the windows of the mosque were broken, then the windows and a door of the mosque were hit with an air gun,” said Suta, adding that attackers also targeted houses of Muslims.

Police are investigating the attack and looking for the perpetrators, said Suta.

According to Suta, the ugliest attack was when a dead lizard was thrown into the area where a funeral prayer was taking place.

Bosnia and Herzegovina often witnesses Islamophobic graffiti and murals, threatening and insulting Bosnian Muslims, mostly in areas where the Croat population is concentrated.


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House of Peace: Scunthorpe’s first purpose-built mosque to open


The official opening of Scunthorpe’s first purpose-built mosque will be marked by a visit from a global Muslim leader this weekend.

The Baitus Salam (House of Peace) Mosque will be inagurated by His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad on Saturday, June 17.

He is the worldwide leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, and will attend a special ceremony alongside over 200 guests from across the country – to celebrate the official opening of the town’s first purpose-built mosque.

Members of Parliament, faith leaders, charitable organisations, local businesses and representatives of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force will also be in attendance.

The Baitus Salam Mosque on Cliff Closes Road has a floor space of 520 m2 and can accomodate up to 250 worshippers, as well as featuring a community hall and library.

Community members in Scunthorpe will conduct regular volunteer street cleaning sessions, blood donation campaigns and education seminars promoting community cohesion.

It was built entirely with funds raised by local members of the entirely self-funded Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

Rafiq Hayat, National President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK said: “This is a historic day for us and the Baitus Salam Mosque is a tribute to the prayers, hard work and sacrifice made by members to build this house of peace.

“It is also a great honour that His Holiness will be inaugurating this mosque. May God make it a true source of peace for all. Ameen.”

The community has been a leading figure in the peaceful revival of Islam since its inception in India back in 1889.

The UK chapter was established in 1913, with London’s first mosque being built by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in 1926.

It also built the largest mosque in Western Europe, the landmark Baitul Futh Mosque, in Central London back in 2003.

Dr Muzaffar Ahmad, Regional President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, North East England said: “We hope that our mosque will be a centre of learning and peace in Scunthorpe.

“This is a place for all people, irrespective of your background or whether you belong to a particular faith or not, we welcome everyone.

“Even if someone just wants to see a mosque from the inside or visit us as local neighbours, we will be honoured to welcome them. I sincerely hope and pray that this mosque allows us to build a strong community in Scunthorpe and beyond.”


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Blackburn mosque to host Eid event to raise funds for funeral centre


A Blackburn mosque is hosting a Eid Family Fun Day to raise funds for a funeral centre.

The Masjid al-Momineen based on Ash Street will host the event on Sunday, July 2, on the mosque grounds.

The event will feature a barbecue, fun rides, a bouncy castle and variety of activities for the children.

More than £30,000 have been raised towards a £400,000 target to build the new feneral centre.

The centre will allow families to conduct funeral rites at the mosque itself.

The mosque said over the course of the Covid pandemic, the community faced great obstacles in ‘serving the local community through funeral services as their funeral facilities do not meet the current standards’.

The purpose built funeral building will include a dedicated Ghusl khaana (ablution area) and shrouding area and designated rooms for men and women.

The mosque is taking stall booking for small businesses for the Fun Day.


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Israeli Occupation to Demolish Mosque’s Dome in Jerusalem for Similarity with Dome of Rock

14 June, 2023

After months of hiding it with a cover, the Israeli occupation municipality of occupied Jerusalem town of Beit Safafa forced its Palestinian residents to remove the golden dome of the Al-Rahman Mosque on Wednesday, June 14, to “shorten its height and change its golden color to silver.”

The Beit Safafa mayor Mohammad Elayan said the Israeli settlers previously went to the municipality and filed a lawsuit against Al-Rahman Mosque, to remove the dome.

Previously, far-right Israeli settler organizations went to the occupation municipality in the city, demanding “the immediate demolition of the dome, so that the area does not become an honorable sanctuary, and Jerusalem does not become a holy city.”

Elayan added, “As a kind of continuous incitement against the dome, the occupation municipality forced the people of the town and those in charge of the mosque to demolish and remove it, but we rejected the decision and submitted an objection, considering that the mosque is a red line and its dome cannot be relinquished.”

The mosque has existed for more than a century on a Palestinian land of approximately 300 square meters. Years ago, it was restored and facilities were built for it, so settlers protested under the pretext that its dome resembles the Dome of the Rock.

Last year, the municipality notified Palestinians of the demolition of the dome after it was restored, under the pretext of building without a permit.

“We tried to obtain building permits for the mosque, especially the second floor, under the pretext that the building is illegal, but the municipality put obstacles. We continued to communicate with it to solve this issue and stop the demolition and remove the dome,” Eleyyan said.

Almost a third of the Palestinian homes in Jerusalem were built without permits because the Israeli occupation denied their owners the permits to construct, while it facilitate building for settlers.

So far in 2023, Israeli occupation forces have demolished 136 Palestinian homes and structures, 64 of which have been demolished under the pretext of building without a permit, according to the Palestinian Information Center Ma’ta.


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Islamic Jihad leader meets Iran’s Khamenei in Tehran


Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met in the capital Tehran on Wednesday with the leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, Ziyad al-Nakhalah.

Al-Nakhalah is currently on a visit to Iran, leading a delegation of senior group leaders, his first visit since last month’s Israeli air offensive on the Gaza Strip.

At least 33 Palestinians were killed, including several Islamic Jihad leaders, in the Israeli assault, which Tel Aviv said was in response to rocket fire from Gaza.

The Israeli offensive came to a halt under an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire.

Khamenei said Israel has become "passive" and its leaders "have the reason to worry about not seeing the anniversary of 80," according to state media.

He felicitated the Islamic Jihad leader for what he said the group’s success during the recent confrontation with Israel in Gaza.

Khamenei said the recent battle in Gaza showed that the "Zionist enemy" is in a "passive position" and that the Islamic Jihad and other groups in Gaza have "identified the correct path."

"I congratulate Islamic Jihad’s victory in Gaza’s recent battle. The Zionist regime’s current condition is very different from 70 years ago, and this enemy is in a passive position today," he said.

"Palestine’s resistance movements have correctly identified the path and are proceeding wisely on it,” Khamenei added.

The Iranian leader noted that the "growing power" of Palestinian groups "is the key to bringing the Zionist enemy to its knees", adding that the "path must continue."


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Muslim-majority Kosovo wants ‘strategic partnership’ with Israel — former PM

14 June 2023

The Kosovar leader who normalized ties with Israel and opened up Pristina’s embassy in Jerusalem said on Wednesday that his country seeks a “strategic partnership” with Israel.

“That would mean working extremely closely, not only in economic cooperation and diplomatic relations and things like that, but working together and sharing information, helping each other to increase capacities in terms of security issues, strategic development,” former prime minister Avdullah Hoti, who is now in the opposition, told The Times of Israel.

Hoti, who heads the Israel parliamentary friendship group, led the delegation’s first trip to Jerusalem this week.

In 2021, Kosovo became the first European country — as well as the first Muslim-majority one — to establish an embassy in Jerusalem, following the US and Guatemala.

Pristina made the move in exchange for Israel recognizing the independence it declared in 2008, following a war with Serbia in the 1990s.

Hoti’s decision was formalized when he met alongside Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic at the White House in September 2020 with then-US president Donald Trump during talks about normalizing economic ties between Belgrade and Pristina.

At the meeting, Vucic also agreed to move Serbia’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, which it has not done so far.

Kosovo’s former premier speculated that the Trump administration included Kosovo’s embassy opening in Israel in the talks with Serbia to show the international community “that Kosovo is an independent state and the US fully supports that. And Serbia has to come to some agreement with Kosovo, there is no other way. That was the signal.”

Hoti said Israel’s recognition was “a breakthrough decision.”

“It gave the signal in the international arena that Kosovo is a country that should be respected and should be recognized,” he said.

Turkey, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, among others, blasted Pristina for the embassy decision.

But Hoti said outside criticism does not influence his country’s policies: “We were determined to move forward, and we have no dilemmas as long as the US is in Jerusalem. We follow the foreign policy of the US.”

Hoti recalled that the arrangement came together over a series of long-distance discussions with the White House, then two days of intensive negotiations with Serbia in Washington.

Trump “cared a lot about the agreement,” Hoti explained. “He firmly believed that that agreement would help reach a final agreement with Serbia.”

Though the sides have signed dozens of bilateral agreements, Serbia still does not recognize Kosovo. In February, the two countries agreed to an EU-mediated normalization process.

Kosovo continues to work to expand the circle of countries that recognize it. Over half of UN member states recognize Kosovo, as do over 80% of European Union and NATO countries.

The precise figure is hard to pin down because some countries have allegedly withdrawn recognition but haven’t provided clear answers.

Hoti and four other members of the parliamentary group met with Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana, MK Erez Malul, who heads the Knesset’s Kosovo friendship group, and Welfare Minister Ya’akov Margi.

Through ELNET, an organization working to build ties between Israel and Europe, the group also met with National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and with opposition MK Gideon Sa’ar, a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Surviving occupation

Hoti said that Kosovo’s affinity for Israel comes from the fact that the countries share “a similar history.”

“We have been surviving for centuries under different regimes, under different occupations,” he explained. “We were 500 years under the Ottomans and close to 100 years under the Serbian regime. So we managed to survive for centuries without having our state. So in a way, we struggled a lot for centuries to have our country.”

Unlike Israel, Kosovo is locked out of the UN by Belgrade’s key allies, Russia and China.

If Pristina does join the UN, it will be a reliable pro-Israel vote, he pledged. “I have no doubt about that. We have a joint strategic interest.”

Kosovo does not have relations with the Palestinian Authority, which has been an outspoken opponent of Kosovar independence.

“Kosovo is not better than us,” said Yasser Abed Rabbo, an adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, shortly after Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008. “We deserve independence even before Kosovo, and we ask for the backing of the United States and the European Union for our independence.”

Embassy issues

As Kosovo works to convince other countries to recognize it, the parliamentary friendship group is working to deepen bilateral ties with Israel.

“We intend to prepare an agreement for protection of investment in the two countries, a free trade agreement and an agreement for the elimination of double taxation between the two countries,” Hoti explained.

They are also pushing a visa waiver agreement.

Last week, Kosovo adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism, and in 2021 designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

But Israel has not opened an embassy in Kosovo, instead relying on non-resident ambassador Tammy Ziv.

“We asked to have the Israeli embassy open as soon as possible,” said Hoti. “We need to have the embassy there for sure, just like we established our embassy.”

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said an embassy could not be opened at this time for budgetary reasons. He added that ties were expanding, pointing at the parliamentary visit and a parallel business delegation representing 12 Kosovar companies.

The Foreign Ministry, said the spokesman, “is advancing a cooperation plan in medicine, post-trauma, and agriculture.”

“The relationship between the two countries is only growing stronger.”


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Iran’s top Sunni cleric says barred from Hajj by Iranian authorities

14 June ,2023

Iran’s top Sunni cleric has been forbidden by Iranian authorities from attending this year’s Hajj pilgrimage, his website said on Wednesday.

Molavi Abdolhamid had planned to undertake the Hajj pilgrimage this year but was informed by Iran’s intelligence ministry that he is prohibited from doing so, his website said, offering no further details.

The annual Hajj pilgrimage to holy sites in Saudi Arabia, regarded as one of the fundamental pillars of Islam, is expected to begin later this month.

Iranian authorities have not provided any official response or explanation regarding the matter.

Based in Zahedan, the capital of Iran’s southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan, Abdolhamid has been a vocal critic of the Iranian regime since nationwide protests erupted in the country following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman.

Amini died on September 16, 2022, three days after being arrested by the morality police in Tehran for allegedly breaching the country’s strict dress rules for women.

Abdolhamid holds considerable influence and is highly regarded among Iran’s Sunni minority. However, his recent outspoken criticism of the regime has garnered him even more popularity among Iranians who oppose the Islamic Republic.

Sistan-Baluchistan, which borders Pakistan, is one of Iran’s poorest regions and is mostly populated by Sunni ethnic Baluchis, a minority in predominantly Shia Iran. Human rights groups say they have faced discrimination and repression for decades.

The province witnessed regular anti-regime protests, often occurring after Friday prayers, for several months.

According to the human rights groups, hundreds were killed by security forces during the protests sparked by Amini’s death, with Sistan-Baluchistan having the highest number of fatalities.


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Hamas: al-Aqsa Mosque is red line, possibilities are open and options are dangerous


GAZA June 15. 2023 (Saba) - Deputy head of the political bureau of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) Saleh al-Arouri has confirmed that the world must know that al-Aqsa Mosque is a red line, and all possibilities are open and the options are dangerous.

"The presence of the Zionist entity poses a real threat to the region, and the fascist government seeks to detonate the entire regional situation through its criminal programs and policies," al-Arouri said during a televised interview on al-Aqsa TV.

He added the terrorist extremist "Ben Ghafir" aims to Judaize al-Quds, al-Aqsa Mosque and the occupied West Bank.

Al-Arouri noted that the occupied city of al-Quds is in the eye of the storm and a target and coveted by all Zionist governments, and this issue is one of the most burning and dangerous issues.

He continued the world should know that Al-Aqsa Mosque is a red line, and all possibilities are open and the options are dangerous."

Al-Arouri considered that the existence of the Zionist enemy entity constitutes a real threat to the region, and that the fascist government seeks to blow up the entire regional situation through its criminal programs and policies.

He pointed out that Netanyahu launched his aggression against the Gaza Strip and assassinated resistance leaders and their families aiming at restoring his defeated image in front of the Zionist community.

Al-Arouri also noted the importance of the results of the University of the West Bank elections, which lie in the importance of the active and aware youth category in the Palestinian national equation, stressing that it is a clear indication of the trends of the general Palestinian people.

He concluded that Hamas is ready and prepared to hold student elections in all universities of the Gaza Strip on the basis of the full proportional representation law.



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North America


USCMO: 500+ American Muslim Delegates Take Part in 8th Annual #MuslimHillDay on Capitol Hill

June 14, 2023

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/14/2023) – The U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), ), the nation’s largest American Muslim civil society umbrella organization, today announced the successful completion of the 8th Annual Muslim Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill. 

More than 500 American Muslim delegates from 20+ states traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with more than 200 congressional offices in the U.S. House and Senate over three days, from Monday, June 12 to Wednesday, June 14.  

Muslim delegates from across the nation visited the offices of their respective members of Congress, fostering meaningful dialogues on crucial issues impacting the Muslim American community. The primary focus of these meetings was to promote:  

The House and Senate cosponsorship of Representatives Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Senator Cory Booker’s (D-NJ) Combating International Islamophobia Act; 

The House and Senate cosponsorship of Representative Andre Carson (D-IN) and Senator Cory Booker’s soon-to-be-reintroduced “Muslim-American Heritage Month” resolution celebrating the heritage and culture of American Muslim; and, 

Advocate for greater congressional oversight and reform of the unconstitutional and discriminatory federal terrorism watchlist. 

The Washington Center for Yemeni Studies (WCYS) also participated in the three-day advocacy event, hosting on Wednesday WCYS’s 1st Annual Yemen Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill. WCYS brought almost 100 Yemeni Americans to promote greater awareness and congressional understanding of the war in Yemen and need for holistic U.S. understanding and engagement, balanced pressure, supporting good governance, and greater diplomatic engagement.  

In a statement, USCMO Secretary General Oussama Jammal said:  

“This year’s National Muslim Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill demonstrates the united and steadfast commitment of the American Muslim community to actively participate in shaping policies that reflect our shared values of justice, equality, and inclusion. We are proud to have surpassed all previous records in terms of attendance and congressional engagement.

“USCMO would like to extend its gratitude to all the participants, community leaders, and congressional offices that made this event a resounding success. Their dedication and commitment to civic engagement exemplify the values of democracy and active citizenship.” 

In a statement, Chair of the USCMO National Muslim Advocacy Day Steering Committee and CAIR Director of Government Affairs Department Robert S. McCaw said: 

“National Muslim Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill provides a growing and invaluable platform for American Muslims to directly engage with their elected representatives, fostering understanding and cooperation. By amplifying our voices on issues such as combating Islamophobia, recognizing the history and accomplishments of American Muslims, and addressing the government’s unconstitutional watchlisting practices we strive to build a more inclusive and just society for all.” 

In addition to the series of meetings with members of Congress, USCMO partnered with Poligon Education Fund to organize a comprehensive policy and advocacy training session on Monday morning at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center’s auditorium. This training equipped participants with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively engage in policy discussions and advocate for their community’s interests. 

Throughout the week, Muslim delegates operated out of the Rayburn House Office Building, ensuring a central location for coordinated efforts in engaging with Congress. This strategic approach allowed for efficient communication and collaboration among attendees, enabling them to maximize their impact during the 8th Annual Muslim Advocacy Day. 

Founding members of USCMO include American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA), Muslim American Society (MAS), Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA), Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA), The Mosque Cares (Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed). 

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.                

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.               

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Quebec judge nixes request from Muslim group to suspend ban on school prayer rooms

June 14, 202

A Quebec Superior Court judge on Wednesday denied a request by a Muslim advocacy group and a civil liberties organization to suspend the province’s ban on prayer rooms in public schools.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the National Council of Canadian Muslims had argued that the ban was causing irreparable harm to Muslim students and needed to be suspended immediately. Muslim students couldn’t wait while the wider legal challenge made its way through the courts, they said.

Justice Lukasz Granosik agreed that the ban violates religious freedom and could cause irreparable harm to Muslim students. But he said the groups hadn’t demonstrated the need for urgency because they only filed their request for a stay in June when the ban went into effect May 3.

“The delay is not explained in the proceedings and remains inexplicable,” he told the court Wednesday.

Following news reports about at least two Montreal-area schools allowing Muslim students to pray, Education Minister Bernard Drainville banned schools from offering dedicated prayers spaces, citing the province’s policy on institutional secularism.

In response, the Muslim and civil liberties groups filed a lawsuit on behalf of a 16-year-old student at a Montreal-area high school, identified as “X” in court documents. The Muslim student, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, had been given space to pray at lunchtime but lost that accommodation after the ban went into effect.

Granosik said it’s not clear that the student would be immediately harmed by the rule because classes had ended and students were only required to be at school to write exams.

The judge said there are “serious questions” about the constitutionality of the ban, but he added that those would be settled during a full trial. He said the constitutional violations were not sufficiently clear for him to suspend the rule so early in the legal challenge.

“There is a head-on collision regarding the use of public space, between the prohibition of overt prayer and religious practice and the secular status of this space; it is a given that the infringement of religious freedom continues,” he said.

During a court hearing on Tuesday, a government lawyer argued that students were able to leave school to conduct the lunch-hour prayer for which space had previously been provided.

In announcing the prayer space ban, Drainville had said that students would still be allowed to pray discreetly and silently.

But the two groups argued in court Tuesday that Muslim prayers require physical action and that students had felt excluded and demeaned for attempting to pray on school property.

Stephen Brown, CEO of the Muslim group, said his organization would review the decision.

“This isn’t the end,” he said in an interview. “We’ve been working really hard with our legal team in order to present the strongest case possible. We’re going to be looking at what are all the things that we can do in order to take this forward and try to gain justice for those whose fundamental rights have been violated by this decree.”

A spokeswoman for Drainville declined to comment on the ruling, citing the court process.


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JUNE 14, 2023

Last month, CAMERA Arabic prompted correction in Al Hurra after the publicly-funded U.S. news outlet reproduced an Arabic article from Agence France Presse which failed to report that two Palestinians killed near Jenin were fighters belonging to Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a designated terror organization.

Whitewashing the men’s affiliation with a US-proscribed terrorist organization, the AFP story which Al Hurra published May 10 had reported:

On the very same day, PIJ issued an announcement claiming the two as “our martyred heroes.”

Notably, major wire services like Reuters (in English and Arabic) and AP acknowledged the two fatalities’ PIJ affiliation.

As part of Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc. (MBN), which in turn operates under a grant from United States Agency for Global Media, Al Hurra is subject to USAGM’s Standards and Principles which stipulate that content should be “consistent with the broad foreign policy objectives of the United States.” Indicating terrorist affiliations of casualties in conflict would seem to fall under this rubric.

Regarding accuracy, the following appears in USAGM’s code of ethics:

Factual errors – whether on-air or in print – should be corrected as quickly as possible after their discovery. … Errors of fact that do not significantly affect a story should nevertheless be corrected on the same program on which they were first broadcast – or on the same site as they were originally published – as soon as it is practical to do so. All errors should be brought to the attention of the President or the President’s designee. [Emphases added.]


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UN Report Warns Al-Qaida, Islamic State Growing in Afghanistan

June 14, 2023


There is mounting, controversial evidence that Afghanistan is rapidly turning into a cauldron for terrorist activity, with both al-Qaida and the Islamic State terror group’s Afghan affiliate growing substantially, in numbers and capabilities, without U.S. or Western forces on the ground.

The dire assessment, shared in a recently released United Nations report based on member state intelligence, concludes the terror groups “have greater freedom of maneuver” under Taliban rule and are making “good use of this.”

The report by the U.N. sanctions monitoring team warns that al-Qaida and the Taliban maintain a symbiotic relationship, “with al-Qaida viewing Taliban-administered Afghanistan a safe haven.”

In contrast, the report finds Islamic State Khorasan Province, also known as IS-Khorasan or ISIS-K, has used the Taliban’s inability to establish control over remote areas, as well as dissatisfaction with Taliban rule to its advantage.

"Attacks against high-profile Taliban figures raised [IS-Khorasan] morale, prevented defections and boosted recruitment, including from within the Taliban’s ranks,” the U.N. report said.

In each case, the U.N. report contends, the terror groups have significantly grown their footprints.

Al-Qaida, assessed to have had as few as several dozen members in Afghanistan a year ago, is believed to have 30 to 60 senior officials based out of Afghanistan, as well as an additional 400 fighters, 1,600 family members and a series of new training camps.

IS-Khorasan, according to the U.N. data, has grown to between 4,000 to 6,000 members, with strongholds or camps in at least 13 provinces and a network of sleeper cells that can reach Kabul and beyond.

But as alarming as the estimates in the U.N. report may be, multiple U.S. officials told VOA they have seen nothing to support such findings.

“These stats do not align with our intelligence community’s analysis in a number of areas,” one U.S. official told VOA on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss intelligence matters.

Another official was even more blunt, calling the estimates for the size of al-Qaida and Islamic State in the U.N. report “wildly out of whack.”

"These numbers are wildly out of whack with the best estimates of the U.S. intelligence community, and indeed the best estimates of our partners and allies," that senior administration official told VOA, likewise speaking on the condition of anonymity.

According to the senior official, U.S. intelligence assesses there are fewer than a dozen al-Qaida core members currently in Afghanistan and that there has not been a senior al-Qaida core leader in the country since the U.S. killed then al-Qaida core leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in an airstrike in July 2022.

Al-Qaida “simply has not reconstituted a presence in Afghanistan since the U.S. departure in August 2021,” the official said, adding that it is unlikely attempts by al-Qaida to establish training camps in Afghanistan, as the U.N. report claims, would go unnoticed by the U.S. and its allies and partners.

“We are postured to see indications of al-Qaida activity were to be resurgent in various forms, whether it's a training camp, whether it's plotting that doesn't require a training camp," the official said.

The U.S. also rejected intelligence shared by some U.N. member states that al-Qaida’s de facto leader, Saif al-Adel, left his base in Iran and visited Afghanistan in 2022, with at least one member state asserting al-Adel is now based out of Afghanistan.

“We do not have indications that the likes of Saif al-Adel have traveled to Afghanistan,” the senior official said. “Al-Qaida, as far as we can tell, and we look pretty closely, they do not see Afghanistan right now as a permissive or hospitable environment in which to attempt to operate.”

As for the U.N report’s assertion that IS-Khorasan has grown to between 4,000 and 6,000 fighters, including family members, "that is thousands more than the [U.S.] intelligence community has assessed or assessed there to be," the senior official told VOA.

And while the U.S. agrees that IS-Khorasan has the desire to attack the United States, “it is clear that the terrorist group’s ability to do so, to actually fulfill that ambition, has faced setbacks in the last two years,” the official said.

“Our view is that ISIS-K has not closed that ambition-capacity gap that it very much hoped to close after the U.S. departure, and indeed has faced some very real setbacks and some very concerted pressure from the Taliban,” the official added.

The U.S. officials who spoke to VOA were unable to explain the divergence between the assessments of al-Qaida and IS-Khorasan as presented in the U.N. report and those of the U.S. intelligence community, noting previous reports by the U.N. sanctions monitoring team have tracked much more closely with Washington’s own findings.

But a source familiar with the production of the report, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told VOA that U.S. officials were aware of the conclusions before it was published and did not raise objections.

The source also said that there appeared to be some disagreement among U.S. agencies, with some falling in line with some of the U.N.’s findings.

Western officials and researchers generally have viewed the U.N. reports as a valuable source of information, especially because they include the viewpoints of multiple countries, some of which sometimes have unique insights into developments on the ground.

And while they admit estimates from member states on how many fighters or members groups such as al-Qaida and IS-Khorasan have can vary significantly, the trends identified in the reports are significant.

“The [U.N.] monitoring team goes to great lengths to try to triangulate information, and it publishes things that it's reasonably confident of, and that goes through a rigorous editorial process,” Edmund Fitton-Brown, a former senior United Nations counterterrorism official and monitoring team coordinator, told VOA.

Fitton-Brown, now an adviser to the nonprofit Counter Extremism Project, said that even if there are disagreements over the extent to which al-Qaida or IS-Khorasan have grown their footprints in Afghanistan, the larger point remains.

The report “makes it very clear why the Taliban cannot, will not, live up to their responsibilities under the Doha accords,” he said, citing intelligence in the U.N. report that some Afghan Ministry of Defense courses now feature some al-Qaida training manuals.

Some analysts also have raised concerns based on the report’s findings.

“Historically, the U.S. has woefully underestimated al-Qaida’s strength in Afghanistan,” Bill Roggio, senior fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told VOA.

The U.N. report “is far more realistic than what U.S. intelligence is trying to present as the true estimate of al-Qaida strength in Afghanistan,” he added.

Other analysts highlighted the reported establishment of al-Qaida training camps in various Afghan provinces, as well as the ability of other, smaller terror groups to operate more freely.

“Afghanistan seems eerily reminiscent to pre-9/11 Afghanistan, with the number of groups that are allegedly active,” Colin Clarke, director of research at the global intelligence firm The Soufan Group, told VOA.

“That's what I think the nightmare scenario was for a long time, that the U.S. would have limited-to-no-presence in the country, and these groups would reconstitute, begin reestablishing training camps and then training these fighters — either Afghans or foreign terrorist fighters — for external operations,” Clarke said. “Terrorist groups thrive and indeed flourish amid instability. And that's exactly what we have here.”


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Posing as Islamists, Russian Hackers Take Aim at Sweden

ByJordan Robertson and Niclas Rolander

May 14, 2023

Since February, a mysterious hacker group calling itself Anonymous Sudan has targeted dozens of Swedish airports, hospitals and banks with distributed denial-of-service attacks, ostensibly in response to the burning of a Koran in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm earlier this year.

The so-called DDoS attacks, which push websites and services offline by overwhelming them with internet traffic, disrupted online programming at Sweden’s national public broadcaster and knocked out the websites of Scandinavian Airlines, state-owned power company Vattenfall, and defense firm Saab AB. Extensive media coverage has made the attacks — and Anonymous Sudan’s claims — a matter of public debate in Sweden.


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Police: Man took off clothes at Farmingdale mosque for 2nd time this week

Jun 15, 2023

A Deer Park man who was arrested Monday for undressing at a Farmingdale mosque has been arrested again for the same crime.

Besart Astafa, 28, allegedly came to the Masjid Bilal Mosque around 7 p.m. without a shirt on. Once he was inside, he allegedly stripped down completely.

Officials say Astafa punched and broke an electronic screen on the wall.

He was released Tuesday without bail. Police say he then returned to the mosque on Fulton Street and removed his clothing again.

Officers found him nude in the basement and arrested him, according to officials.

Abdul Khwaja, president of the Masjid Bilal Mosque, says Astafa is not from the Farmingdale community and is glad no one was injured.

"This has never happened before, very unusual," Khwaja says. "I asked all the people this, we've never seen him before, so how he found out about this location, I don't know."

Astafa is charged with criminal trespass and exposure of a person.

The Nassau District Attorney's Office says that a stay-away order of protection was also issued, as well as a mental health evaluation.

The mosque has since hired a security guard.

Astafa is due back in court on June 30.


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Burkina Faso: Upsurge in Atrocities by Islamist Armed Groups

June 15, 2023

(Nairobi) – Islamist armed groups in Burkina Faso have killed scores of civilians, looted and burned property, and forced thousands to flee in attacks across the country since late 2022, Human Rights Watch said today. The armed groups have also besieged several towns, cutting residents off from food, basic services, and humanitarian aid.

In April 2023, Burkina Faso’s transitional military government, formed in October 2022, announced a “general mobilization” as part of a plan to recapture the country’s territory lost to the Islamist armed groups.

“Islamist armed groups are wreaking havoc in Burkina Faso by attacking villages and towns and committing atrocities against civilians,” said Carine Kaneza Nantulya, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The transitional authorities should work with regional bodies and concerned governments to provide better protection and greater assistance for people at risk.”

Since 2015, successive Burkina Faso governments have been battling an Islamist insurgency spreading from neighboring Mali that has killed thousands of people and forcibly displaced almost two million more. Fighting has intensified in recent years so that now the Al-Qaeda linked Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims, JNIM) and, to a lesser extent, the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, control up to 40 percent of Burkina Faso’s territory, the Economic Community of West African States reported. Mounting civilian and military casualties, and the loss of government-held territory have spurred two military coups in Burkina Faso since 2022.

Between January and May, Human Rights Watch interviewed 36 people, in person or by phone, about abuses allegedly committed by Islamist armed groups in the Centre-Ouest, Centre-Nord, and Sahel regions since November 2022. Those interviewed included 19 witnesses of abuses, 4 family members of victims, 6 members of Burkinabè civil society organizations, and 7 international organization representatives.

No armed group is known to have claimed responsibility for the attacks. However, witnesses believe the assailants were members of Islamist armed groups because of their methods of attack, choices of targets, and their clothes and turbans. People interviewed also cited statements by the attackers, including demands for residents to leave the area. Islamist armed groups have used displacement as a strategy in recent years to assert their power and authority and collectively punish villagers and townspeople for collaborating with government authorities and security forces.

The military authorities have relied heavily on local militias to counter the attacks. In October 2022, they opened a campaign to bolster these militias by recruiting 50,000 civilian auxiliaries, called Volunteers for the Defense of the Homeland (Volontaires pour la défense de la patrie or VDPs). In response, Islamist armed groups attacked villages they accused of supporting the militias.

From December to January, Islamist armed groups repeatedly attacked the town of Dassa and surrounding areas in Sanguié province, where militia recruitment took place, driving residents from the area.

A 46-year-old resident said Islamist fighters killed 12 men in Dassa on January 26, allegedly in retaliation for militia recruitment in the area. “[Islamist fighters] arrived, asked who registered to be VDP. [The residents] answered: ‘No, we don’t have a candidate among us.’ [The fighters] said they knew that people had registered to be VDPs. After people denied that, they killed the men and left.”

A 27-year-old woman said armed fighters riding motorbikes and wearing ammunition belts stormed her village of Zincko in Sanmatenga province on January 4 and issued an ultimatum to residents to leave the area. “They gave us 48 hours to leave,” she said. “They stopped to say that the day after tomorrow a wave will be coming, and that they don’t want to find anyone here.”

The Islamist armed groups have also besieged several towns in Burkina Faso’s Sahel and Est regions, blocking food, other necessities, and humanitarian aid to the civilian population and causing starvation and illness among residents and displaced people. Families in Djibo in the Sahel region described feeding their starving families boiled leaves for days.

Human Rights Watch has previously documented Islamist armed group abuses in Burkina Faso, including summary executions, rapes, abductions, and pillage. The groups have also attacked students, teachers, and schools.

Burkina Faso armed forces and pro-government militias have also committed serious abuses during operations against Islamist armed groups. Human Rights Watch has separately investigated the killing and enforced disappearance of scores of civilians since February by alleged Burkinabè armed forces in the Sahel region.

The fighting between the Burkina Faso government and the armed groups qualifies as a non-international armed conflict under the laws of war. Applicable law includes Common Article 3 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and customary laws of war, which apply to non-state armed groups as well as national armed forces. The laws of war prohibit attacks on civilians and summary executions, collective punishment, looting, and arson, among other abuses. Serious violations of the laws of war committed by individuals with criminal intent are war crimes.

In an April 30 statement, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights condemned “the terrorist attacks against the Defence and Security Forces and the civilian population,” and underlined that “a State may also be held responsible for killings by non-state actors if it approves, supports or acquiesces in such acts or if it fails to exercise due diligence to prevent such killings or to ensure there is a proper investigation.”

Repeated Islamist armed group attacks on villages and towns with impunity have spread fear in Burkina Faso and led to retaliatory killings.

“Islamist armed groups are adding to the misery of civilians caught up in the fighting by unlawfully cutting them off from food and humanitarian aid,” Kaneza Nantulya said.

“The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights should not lose sight of the alarming situation in Burkina Faso and should help ensure the transitional military authorities impartially investigate and prosecute members of Islamist armed groups implicated in these atrocities.”

For detailed accounts of the abuses and other details, please see below. The names of those interviewed have been withheld for their protection.

Islamist Armed Group Abuses from November 2022 to February 2023

The following accounts are based largely on Human Rights Watch interviews with local residents in affected villages and towns.

Dassa, Sanguié province, Centre-Ouest region, December 2022 to February 2023

Two residents of Dassa, a town where militia recruitment had taken place, said that Islamist armed groups led repeated and escalating attacks on the town and its surroundings starting in December, culminating in killings that caused residents to flee the area. Dassa is in Sanguié province, where JNIM is known to operate and carry out attacks.

A 46-year-old man said that armed men attacked Dassa twice in December. He said that around December 15, “they [came] to attack, burn down shops, take tricycles, [and] take food … They also took a vehicle and went to the bush.” On December 21, they burned down shops, including his own, “down to the [corrugated metal] sheets,” he said.

On January 26, gunmen attacked Doh, a village about four kilometers from Dassa, allegedly killing twelve men and injuring two. “We found them together under the same barn,” he said, describing the moment the next day when he saw the aftermath of the summary executions.

The gunmen had “brought them there,” made them put their “heads low … on the ground” and “kneel next to one another” before shooting. He said his brother, a 43-year-old fisherman, had been killed by shots to his temple and thighs. He identified the other 11 victims, all men, mostly farmers and shop owners. He said the two survivors told residents what had happened.

He said that as a result, “there is no one left” in Dassa and Doh. “Everyone has cleared out.”

Gunmen wearing sand-colored clothes and turbans attacked Dassa again on February 9, killing two men. Another resident, who witnessed the killings, said the gunmen shot and killed his 50-year-old father and 27-year-old brother. “The terrorists came, and given the fear, we all fled,” he said. “But those who couldn’t escape were killed.” He said that he and his family had already been displaced by Islamist armed group attacks from Dassa to the town of Reo. Hunger forced them to return to the Dassa area in search of food the day of the attack.

“When we finished praying, we were getting ready to return to Reo … when we saw them,” he said. “We started to run. When they saw us running, they started to shoot … at all of us.” He said he swerved and found safety in a furrow. When he eventually ventured out, he found the dead bodies of his two relatives. He said each had been hit by two bullets, his father through the hip and head; his brother through the neck and hip.

Tougouri, Namentenga province, Centre-Nord region, November 2022

Islamist armed groups allegedly killed civilians in November 2022 in Tougouri, a town in an area where the armed group JNIM carries out regular attacks and where pro-government militias have been operating in large numbers following a recruitment drive in November and December.

“We heard shooting out of nowhere,” said a 37-year-old man who witnessed an attack in November 2022. He said the attackers, dressed in gray clothes and turbans, rode in on motorbikes in large numbers and looted the town.

A 25-year-old displaced woman said that gunmen wearing turbans and military fatigues killed five civilian men when they attacked Tougouri’s market in early November. Human Rights Watch was unable to ascertain whether the two witnesses described the same incident.

She said she was buying fruit juice when, at about 4 p.m., approximately 100 gunmen on motorized tricycles “encircled the market and started firing.” She described running out to hide and later seeing the bodies of the five men who had been shot. All showed bullet wounds to the head, she said. She said that the victims were not militia members – who she said did not fight back on that day – but shop owners and artisanal miners, all men aged 25 to 45. She knew one of them, Arouna B. [not his real name], a 35-year-old shop owner.

She said the attackers stayed in town for about two hours and that they looted fuel and bags of rice. “It was chaotic,” she said. “Many [residents] left the area. Those who couldn’t leave quickly are still there, but for the most part people went toward larger towns … where they think there is more safety.” She fled with her family to the town of Kaya after the attack.

Pissila, Sanmatenga province, Centre-Nord region, December 2022 to February 2023

Islamist armed groups carried out at least three attacks in villages in and around the town of Pissila in December through February, killing civilians in an apparent attempt to expel its population. Pissila is part of an area where JNIM operates and conducts attacks and raids.

A 41-year-old resident of Pissila said that in December 2022 he saw about 40 armed men wearing turbans arrive on motorcycles and start to shoot at a cell phone tower outside the town. He and other residents were on a hill about 200 meters away trying to catch a cell phone signal. “They shot mainly at the antenna, the solar panels, the batteries,” he said. “It started a fire.”

Gunmen attacked Pissila again in mid-December, burning down shops and stealing food supplies, said a 39-year-old local business owner. She said that after the attack, she and her family escaped from the town at night.

In January, about 40 gunmen on motorcycles and wearing military fatigues and turbans entered the village of Dofinega, about 16 kilometers from Pissila, and killed 17 men, said a woman who lost 3 of her brothers in the attack.

She said that she came out of her house alongside four other women to see what was happening. She said she saw six gunmen who had gathered her brothers and some children on a field about 50 meters away:

The others were children, so [the gunmen spared them and] selected the adults to execute…. They made them lie down … on their stomachs…. People begged, asking not to be killed, but the terrorists refused. They executed them in front of us. They shot them in the head.

Elsewhere in the village, she said, the gunmen killed other men, including a farmer and a herder. She said that the gunmen told people to leave during the attack: “‘You no longer have the right to stay here!’ they said.” The attack prompted a mass exodus from the village. She said she heard that at least 1,500 people fled.

In February, about 100 gunmen rounded up a group of about 60 residents of Noaka village, about 12 kilometers from Pissila, and issued an ultimatum for them to leave the area, said a 41-year-old woman who was part of the group. She said:

Around 2 p.m. … the noise of motorcycles and shooting began. The jihadists [Islamist fighters] were riding two-by-two and wore military clothing.… They fired in the air and gathered people. Those who were fleeing, they tried to gather them … They explained who they were … [that] they were jihadists … And they gave the ultimatum to leave Noaka within the next three days, and if [we] don’t obey, during their next visit they will kill the maximum [number of people].

She said that she and her family fled on the second day, carrying as much as they could on carts. “As early as the first day some people left, the second and third days too,” she said. “I don’t think there is anyone [left] over there.”

The first incursions of Islamist armed groups in Ouanobian village, roughly 15 kilometers north of Pissila, where militias were based, took place in November 2022, said a 26-year-old villager. She said she was busy milling grain for dinner when she saw “a great number of jihadists who were coming,” firing their guns in the air. She said she hid in her hut and that when she later came out, she “could observe the looted shops, the stolen animals…. Putting together small ruminants [and] cattle, at a minimum [they stole] 1,000 [animals].”

A 25-year-old woman said that in December about 30 gunmen wearing turbans and carrying bandoliers over their shoulders killed two of her relatives, Usman O., 70, and Yacouba I., 65, [not their real names] both farmers in Ouanobian: “I saw when [the gunmen] pulled them out of the house where they were hiding, ordered them to put their hands behind their backs and then one [of the gunmen] shot them.” She said that Usman was shot in the chest and Yacouba in the stomach. She added that she left Ouanobian seven days after the attack with other family members to go to Kaya in Sanmatenga province.

She said that around mid-January, gunmen wearing military fatigues and turbans returned to Ouanobian and burned down her house. She witnessed the attack, saying that it took place around 7 a.m. on a Friday and “was the same scenario”:

They started to shoot in the air … The column headed towards our compound and burned everything. They put us outside. The few animals that were in the courtyard, they untied them. And they set fire … [using] lighters … with straw.… The storage halls, the huts, everything burned…. the clothes, the dishes, our bedding.

Zincko, Sanmatenga province, Centre-Nord region, December 2022 to January 2023

Islamist armed groups allegedly linked to JNIM led at least three incursions into the village of Zincko in December and early January, looting, shooting in the air, and demanding that villagers tell them where they could find government security forces, residents said. They eventually issued two ultimatums for residents to leave the village and attacked a nearby militia patrol, witnesses said. Following a firefight, nearly all villagers fled.

Men wearing turbans and military fatigues and carrying black flags with unspecified lettering looted motorcycles, phones, and food during an attack on the Zincko market one morning in early December, said a 27-year-old woman who was at the market that day. She said:

When the jihadists came to find our markets, they started to fire in the air and people ran in all directions,” she said. “They took what they wanted … many rice bags and cooking oil drums … motorbikes … phones. [They also] burned down shops.

She said that on January 1, gunmen returned to interrogate her about the presence of security forces and militia, and to buy engine oil.

Three days later, she said, gunmen wearing “cold-weather clothes,” carrying AK-47-style assault rifles, and riding on motorcycles returned and went around the town to give residents an ultimatum to leave within 48 hours. “It was something that lasted a minute or two,” she said: “They stopped to say that the day after tomorrow a wave will be coming, and that they don’t want to find anyone here.”

Another Zincko resident said that about 60 armed men on motorcycles wearing “cold-weather clothes” and turbans came to the town in January and split into groups to order residents to leave within 48 hours. He said the group of gunmen split up to inform residents in different parts of town: “It’s when they passed by my courtyard that they gave me the information … tell[ing] us to leave within two days.” The man fled with his family the next day.

Around 5 p.m. one day in late January, an armed group attacked a patrol of militia in Zincko, said a 55-year-old woman, who witnessed and lost two relatives in the attack. She said that militia forces had arrived in Zincko from Mané that morning to search and interrogate people. The shooting went on for two hours, she said, adding that seven militia members and “many terrorists” were killed.

She said that her relatives, Ousmanou B., in his 70s, and Abdoulaye B., 31, [not their real names] were both civilians. She said they were killed by stray bullets:

Ousmanou was … east of the village…. [He] had gone to untie his animal, an ox that he had tied somewhere to graze. That’s where he got a bullet in the chest. We went … the next day … after the VDPs had gone to identify the various bodies, and that’s when we found him.

She said that they found Abdoulaye in front of his house with a bullet in his right side.

After the deadly shootout, she said, “there were so many unburied bodies that life was not possible [anymore], because of the smell … Everyone left.”

Arbinda, Soum province, Sahel region, January 2023

On January 12, armed men abducted over 60 people foraging for food in the department of Arbinda. Arbinda is located in an area mainly controlled by JNIM, but where fighters from ISGS have also carried out attacks. A week later, the Burkinabè information agency announced that the captives – whom they identified as 39 children and 27 women – had been found.

Five survivors said that on January 12, they and other women and children from neighboring villages had set out for the bush just outside of Arbinda to forage for food. At around midday in the Liki commune, approximately 30 armed men on motorcycles dressed in military fatigues and wearing turbans detained them.

From Liki, the captors led the women and children on a trek to Foubé, Centre-Nord region, about a 130-kilometer journey away, where they were held throughout their captivity. Survivors said that while their captors gave them food and water, they spent their days in captivity in fear of what their attackers would do to them and what would become of their families back home.

One of the women said that their abduction was not the first time she had seen armed groups in the bush while foraging for food, but that until then, women had been left alone or sent away with verbal threats for intruding on Islamist armed group-held territory. “Since January 2022, men cannot go even one kilometer from Arbinda without being attacked by terrorists,” she said. “For women it was easier to go out, we could get around better than the men.”

Arbinda residents have been battling extreme hunger as a direct result of a siege by the Islamist armed groups. In November 2022, residents desperate for food vandalized a state-run grain warehouse.

Siege of Djibo, Soum province, Sahel region

JNIM forces have besieged the town of Djibo since February. The Islamist armed group controls the access roads to Djibo along which they have planted explosives. They have destroyed bridges, water, and communications infrastructure as well as prevented deliveries of market supplies, isolating the town from the rest of the country.

People cannot move freely and lack access to basic goods and services including food, water, electricity, and health care. Prices have risen so much that people are unable to buy food staples and other necessities. The Famine Early Warning Systems Network, which provides early warning and analysis on acute food insecurity, reported that the price of millet in Djibo increased more than 500 percent compared with 2022 and Djibo “faces a credible risk of famine through September 2023” as the siege is expected to continue.

A woman with five children, four of whom have physical and psychological disabilities, said that her children have suffered acute hunger in Djibo since the siege began. “I had nothing but leaves to feed my children,” she said. “Since March [2023] I have received some food aid from the World Food Programme, but it is not enough … We cannot cultivate our fields, we can’t leave Djibo, we are like prisoners here.” She said she had fled to Djibo after Islamist armed groups had attacked her village of Friguidi in Soum province in March.

A humanitarian worker who was in Djibo from March to May said she found “a dead city,” where “everything is paralyzed, the market is empty, all the products are expensive, and there is no telephone network.”

Attacks by Islamist armed groups and counterinsurgency operations by the Burkinabè armed forces around Djibo have led to mass displacement, with thousands of people seeking refuge in Djibo. The international humanitarian organization Doctors without Borders stated that as of early May, “of the 300,000 inhabitants [of Djibo], almost 270,000 are displaced, half of whom are children, living in camps or with host families.”

Displaced and host communities depend on access to humanitarian assistance to survive. In October 2022, almost the only food that residents and displaced people of Djibo consumed were wild leaves. Human Rights Watch spoke with five displaced women who said they fled their villages following attacks by Islamist fighters and went to Djibo “alone,” “traumatized,” “carrying nothing but my clothes,” and were forced to “sleep under the stars,” “begging for food.”

One woman with nine children who has been displaced from Sê village since 2018, said:

All I had was leaves to feed my family for four days [in December 2022] … [On the fourth day], when I boiled water with leaves and gave it to my children, my 3-year-old girl looked me in the eye and cried. I cried with her. I went begging for food. A man gave me one bag of rice which I meticulously divided into three parts, and we ate this for three more days, waiting for humanitarian assistance to come.


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Mai, Allah Jabu challenged to address Juba’s water crisis

June 15, 2023

A member of the national parliament challenged the national ministry of water resources and irrigation to work together with the Juba City Council to address the emerging water crisis in the country’s capital.

Dusman Joyce, who is a Member of Parliament from Lainya County in Central Equatoria State, tabled a motion requesting the Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Pal Mai, and the Mayor of Juba City Council, Michael Allah Jabu, to address the city’s water woes.

The motion was brought forwards in accordance with Regulation 52 of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly Conduct of Business Regulation 2011, amended in 2021.

“Is the ministry of water and irrigation really working hand in hand with the Mayor of Juba City Council to see that issue of water in Juba City as a problem this day? A drum of water, up to now, is SSP 1,500, while at the water point, the full truck is filled with SSP 3, 000,” she questioned.

The motion was read in conjunction with Article 81 of South Sudan’s Transitional Constitution, which states that “the National Legislative Assembly or Council of State may request a minister or any government official of the National Government to deliver before it a statement on any matter of public concern.”

She argued that the ministry of water resources and irrigation is mandated under Section 142 of the regulation to “ensure the provision of clean and safe drinking water, as well as the development and implementation of water resource and irrigation policies.”

She also questioned the Energy and Dams Committee on the issue of power distribution and supply in Juba City, “which has become a problem for its citizens despite receiving direct exchange of USD from the Central Bank.”

“Why is JEDCO increasing tariffs from time to time?” she inquired. “Power is not constant, and people pay according to their needs.”

Water suppliers recently clashed with the Juba City Council for overcharging consumers. They raised the price per barrel from SSP1,000 to SSP1,500, citing inflation.


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Nairobi Man in Court over Stealing KSh 10k Shoe from Mosque During Evening Prayers

June 14, 2023

A 46-year-old man has been arraigned for allegedly stealing a Puma shoe whose pair is valued at KSh 10,000 from a fellow worshipper at Jamia Mosque, during Friday, June 9, evening, prayers.

Musa Mohammed Jabir appeared before Milimani Chief Magistrate Lucas Onyina after he was spotted in a white Kanzu taking off with the shoes upon reviewing CCTV footage.

Police report indicates Jabir has been frequenting the mosque and on that particular evening, he was even captured leaving the premises with a backpack full of stationeries. The complainant, Abdi Mohamed, a student of Mount Kenya University, told the police that he had visited his friend at an electronic shop and decided to pop into the mosque as is the norm. He left one shoe at the bar and remained with one. After concluding his prayers, he went to look for his shoe to no avail.

New pair of shoes It is then that he informed the management of the Mosque who decided to buy him a new pair of shoes. He was later called and informed that the person who stole his shoes while reciting his prayers had been arrested. He was arrested by police constable Faith Makau of Central Police Station who is the investigating officer in the matter.

Police say that Jabir who is a frequent visitor at the mosque proceeded was seen on the CCTV footage in the mosque compound picking the other shoe and taking off. The complainant told police that he was shocked to learn that his shoes were missing after he finished his prayers. Man steals pulpit equipment in Machakos church In a related case, a member of the praise and worship team at Restoration International Church in Syokimau stole pulpit equipment. Kevin Otieno Ngaira sneaked back to the church two days after leading the service and carted away equipment The errant worshipper went further to send a message to church members asking for KSh 8,000 to help them trace where the machines were hidden


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Southeast Asia


Islamic affairs minister: 'Haram' for Muslims to vape, consume harmful substances

By Soo Wern Jun

Thursday, 15 Jun 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, June 15 — The use of electronic cigarettes and vaping is “haram” or forbidden for Muslims just like smoking, Islamic affairs minister Datuk Na’im Mokhtar said in a written parliamentary reply yesterday.

He said this has been unchanged since the "fatwa" or religious decree issued by the Malaysian National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs in 2015, which states that Muslims are forbidden from using these devices.

“From a Shariah perspective, the law prohibits eating or drinking or taking substances that are harmful is mentioned by scholars from all four schools of jurisprudence namely Hanafi, Maliki, Syafie and Hambali in their books.

“They have stated that substances that are harmful to the body are forbidden to eat, drunk or taken even if it is pure like poison, soil, glass and the likes,” the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said.

He was responding to Opposition MP for Hulu Selangor Datuk Mohd Hasnizan Harun who asked the ministry to state the stand of the council, also known as the national fatwa council, on the usage of vape devices that is detrimental to health.

The Health Ministry said yesterday that it has received 17 lung injury cases related to the use of electronic cigarettes or vaping to date.

The Health Ministry added that the contents found in the liquid used for electronic cigarettes, when heated up, produce a form of chemical substance that could cause inflammation to the lungs and injure them.

The Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill has been sent to a parliamentary special select committee (PSSC) for further review shortly after its first tabling in the Dewan Rakyat earlier this week.

Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said the decision was made as there were several recommendations proposed at the engagement sessions held last week with government and non-governmental stakeholders that needed further consideration.

She added that the Health Ministry is committed to see the Bill through and ensure that it is approved in the nearest time frame.


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MP suggests to recognize mosques as social objects maintained by state

UNE 15, 2023

AKIPRESS.COM - Young activists have recently been building social facilities by combining their own efforts, which helps the state, said MP Baktybek Choibekov on June 15 at a session of the Kyrgyz Parliament.

"We should only be thankful to these young activists. However, there are certain obstacles with the documents. It would be beneficial if the authorities paid attention to these issues and assisted them with the necessary paperwork. Once these facilities are completed, they are transferred to the local community authorities. While some village administrations possess the funds and resources, others heavily rely on subsidies and struggle to properly maintain these facilities. Perhaps it would be wise to transfer them to the supervision of ministries and allocate funds from the national budget," he proposed.

Choibekov also raised concerns regarding mosques, as they are not officially recognized as social facilities. Consequently, financing for the maintenance of mosques becomes problematic. According to him, village leadership is legally restricted from allocating funds for this purpose.


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Nearly a third of domestic workers in Malaysia in forced labour conditions, says UN agency

Thursday, 15 Jun 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, June 15 ― Nearly a third of migrant workers employed in domestic households in Malaysia are working under forced labour conditions, according to a survey released by the United Nations' labour agency today.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) identified conditions such as excessive working hours, unpaid overtime, low wages, restricted movement, and being unable to quit among its indicators of forced labour.

The survey, based on interviews with 1,201 domestic workers in Southeast Asia, found 29 per cent of those in Malaysia faced such conditions, compared to 7 per cent and 4 per cent in its neighbours Singapore and Thailand, respectively.

Malaysia and Singapore did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the survey findings.

Wannarat Srisuksai, a spokesperson for Thailand's labour ministry, told Reuters the treatment of domestic workers in the country has improved following laws introduced in 2012 to protect the group.

In all three countries, the domestic workers surveyed on average worked hours “well in excess” of those legislated for other workers, and none earned the minimum wage, the ILO said.

“Domestic work is one of the most important tasks in our society, and yet provided with the least protection. This can no longer be accepted,” said Anna Engblom, chief technical adviser at the ILO programme, which conducted the study.

The ILO urged Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand to ratify UN conventions on domestic workers and forced labour, to recognise the skilled nature of domestic work, and ensure migration pathways that did not tie the workers to their employers.

Households in Asia often employ domestic workers ― usually women from developing nations such as Indonesia, Myanmar, and the Philippines ― to carry out housekeeping tasks including cooking, cleaning, childcare, and gardening.

Malaysia has faced criticism in recent years following multiple incidents of Indonesian domestic workers being abused in Malaysian households, while several of its companies have been accused of exploiting migrant labourers.

Indonesians make up about 80 per cent of domestic workers in Malaysia, according to the ILO. Last year, Malaysia and Indonesia signed an agreement to improve protections for domestic workers. ― Reuters


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PAC chief says two special investigation reports on AES and LCS declassified

By Soo Wern Jun

Thursday, 15 Jun 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, June 15 — The government has declassified two reports out of three special investigative reports on the Automated Enforcement System (AES) and the procurement of six littoral combat ships (LCS), Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin announced today.

She added the reports were by the Special Investigation Committee on Public Governance, Procurement and Finance (JKSTUPKK) reports that were previously presented to PAC.

“As for the JKSTUPKK report on land-swap involving the Defence Ministry, that has yet to be declassified since the JKSTUPKK was dissolved.

“I have written to the Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said to ask that the report be declassified so that the PAC can review matters related to the land-swap,” the Opposition MP for Masjid Tanah told a news conference at Parliament here this afternoon.


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In Johor, religious school teacher claims trial to sexually assaulting male student

By Ben Tan

Thursday, 15 Jun 2023

JOHOR BARU, June 15 — A 27-year-old religious school teacher claimed trial at the Sessions Court here today after he was charged with sexually assaulting a student on several occasions early this year and also late last year.

Mohamad Hamzi Mohd Kasmadi pleaded not guilty after the three charges against him were read separately before Judge Siti Noraidi Sulaiman.

According to the charge sheet, the accused was accused of physically sexually assaulting a 16-year-old male student.

Mohamad Hamzi, who is also a dormitory warden, is accused of committing the act at the tahfiz school’s dormitory room in Benut, Pontian in July and November last year and the latest being last March.

He is charged under Section 14(d) of the Sexual Offenses Against Children Act 2017 which provides for a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and can also be subject to whipping, if convicted.

Earlier, Deputy Public Prosecutor Nor Fadilah Johanuddin offered Mohamad Hamzi a bail of RM20,000, with the additional condition that the accused must refrain from interrupting the victim or the prosecution’s witness until the case is complete.

In addition, the accused has to report to the nearest police station and surrender his international passport to the court.

However, defence counsel Omar Kutty Abdul Aziz requested for the bail amount to be reduced since the accused, who earns RM1,800 a month, is supporting his wife who is pregnant with their first child.

The court then allowed the accused bail at RM18,000 for all three charges, with one surety and additional conditions.

The court has set July 23 as the date for re-mention of the case and submission of documents.


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