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Islamic World News ( 3 Feb 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Anti-Shia Sentiment on Rise in Indonesia, Malaysia Due To Saudi-Influenced Wahhabism



New Age Islam News Bureau

 

4 Feb 2018


Babri Masjid: Muslim renovates temple of Ram's param-bhakt Hanuman ...

------

 Muslim Renovates Temple Of Ram's Param-Bhakt Hanuman in Ahmedabad

 Turkish Forces Experience Bloodiest Day during Operation Olive Branch in Northern Syria

 Afghan President Leaves Open Possibility of Talks with Some Taliban

 No Peace with the Perpetrators of Recent Kabul Attacks: Ghani

----------

Southeast Asia

 Anti-Shia Sentiment on Rise in Indonesia, Malaysia Due To Saudi-Influenced Wahhabism

 Maldives Government Warns Supreme Court against Impeachment Move

 Maldives crisis deepens; President Yameen under fire for dragging feet on court ruling

 Maldives president says he's willing to hold early election

----------

India

 Muslim Renovates Temple Of Ram's Param-Bhakt Hanuman in Ahmedabad

 Pained by Allegations, Muslims in Agra to Take Out Tiranga Yatra

 Man from Kannur on NIA Radar for Funding Islamic State Sympathisers

 Zakir Naik in Book, Uttar Pradesh School in Trouble

 After Shia, hope Sunnis would support Ram temple in Ayodhya: Giriraj Singh

 47 Indian fishermen arrested in Pakistan

 Ayodhya land belongs to Hindus, can't be partitioned like property: VHP

 Dawood Ibrahim linked to British properties: Report

 Attack on J&K students in Haryana: Accused assaulted 5 other men leaving same mosque, says police

----------

Mideast

 Turkish Forces Experience Bloodiest Day during Operation Olive Branch in Northern Syria

 Maryland University Poll Shows Iranian People's Strong Support for Establishment

 Judiciary Spokesman: Iranian-American Namazi Not Freed

 Turkey warns US troops over Syria clash risk

 Israel 'legalising' rogue settlement in response to rabbi murder: Netanyahu

----------

Pakistan

 Afghan President Leaves Open Possibility of Talks with Some Taliban

 TTP Bombing Kills 11 Troops in Swat Valley

 UK property law spells trouble for Pakistani politicians

 Islamic Revolution reflects people’s aspirations: Pakistan ex-envoy

 16 Pakistanis died in migrant boat tragedy off Libya: Foreign Office

 FIA arrests 4 suspected human traffickers behind migrant boat tragedy in Libya

 Jirga supports fencing of Pak-Afghan border

 Pakistan sees spike in reporting of rape cases post Zainab incident

 Pakistan, Afghanistan agree to continue talks on joint action plan

 Seeking justice for Naqeebullah on the streets of Islamabad

----------

South Asia

 No Peace with the Perpetrators of Recent Kabul Attacks: Ghani

 ‘Dhaka to Be Recognized As Islamic Tourism City’

 Abdullah Promises ‘No Mercy’ Against the Terrorists

 Heroin lab destroyed, 1 terrorist killed in Helmand operations

 Afghan, Pakistan Officials Meet In Kabul To Talk Differences

 US drone strikes kill ISIS militants in Nangarhar province

----------

Arab World

 Militants in More Regions Endorse Peace Agreement with Syrian Army

 Yemen Islamist Party Suspends Membership of Nobel Laureate Karman

 Iraqi forces, Shia militia to launch operation to clear White Flag militants near Kirkuk

 Southern Syria: FSA Arrests Sochi Peace Talks Participant

 Al-Nusra Starts Evacuating Forces from Outskirts of Besieged Towns in Northern Syria

 Arab Analyst: US Likely to Use Chemical Weapons in False Flag against Syria

 Civil Defence Chief: Amad News Telegram Channel Linked to Western Intel Services

 Terrorists Form New Joint Operation Room to Slow Down Syrian Army Advances in Idlib

 Heavy Infighting Erupts again among Ankara-backed Militants in Northern Syria

----------

Africa

 Secrets around Presence of Israel's Military Industries in South Sudan

 Israel Conducted Over 100 Airstrikes in Egypt's Sinai

 Forum in Senegal discusses Iranian translation of Quran in French

----------

Europe

 Independent Review Into The Application Of Sharia Law In England And Wales Published

 Mosque vandalized in Netherlands

 Muslim mosque opens in Russia's remote north

 Russia Strikes Back At Syrian Rebels Who Downed Fighter Jet, Killed Pilot

 Russian pilot killed after Syrian rebels shoot down plane

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/anti-shia-sentiment-on-rise-in-indonesia,-malaysia-due-to-saudi-influenced-wahhabism/d/114159

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Anti-Shia sentiment on rise in Indonesia, Malaysia due to Saudi-influenced Wahhabism

February 4, 2018


Photo: Rising anti-Shiite sentiment owes to Saudi-influenced Wahhabism, a literalist reading of Islam that promotes intra-religious persecution

 ----------

Rising anti-Shiite sentiment owes to Saudi-influenced Wahhabism, a literalist reading of Islam that promotes intra-religious persecution

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - An Islamic cleric in Malaysia stirred controversy last month after claiming that Shiites, members of a minority Muslim sect, pose a national-security threat and that action should be taken against them.

MohdAsriZainulAbidin, the mufti of Perlis, a northwestern Malaysian state, said Shia Muslims could “threaten national security” and a movement was afoot among them to turn Malaysia into a “mullah state,” a reference to the theocratic Shiite rulers of Iran.

This is despite the fact that there are likely at most 200,000 Shiites in Malaysia, a Muslim majority country of more than 28 million, and none have been connected to domestic terrorist attacks or extremist groups. Malaysia’s Muslims, who dominate politics, are overwhelmingly Sunni.

Asri’s comments come amid an investigation into the disappearance of social activist AmriChe Mat, who went missing in November 2016. He is just one of several civil-society actors who have “disappeared” in Malaysia in recent years.

Mufti Asri has claimed that Amri, the co-founder of Perlis Hope, a charity, was secretly proselytizing people to convert to Shia Islam and a form of contract marriage known as mutah not recognized in Malaysia where a conjugal bond can be ended through mutual consent.

NorhayatiAriffin, Amri’s wife, told the Human Rights Commission she suspected Asri’s fatwa office might have had a role in her husband’s disappearance. She has challenged Asri to prove her husband was trying to convert others to the minority sect.

Asri has denied any involvement, telling one local newspaper, “Maybe her husband has gone off somewhere. Maybe he is gone t0 [Shia majority] Iran.”

An investigation into Amri’s disappearance is ongoing.

Conservative Islam is on the rise across Malaysia and Indonesia, as are fears that the two nations could one day become hotbeds for Islamic State-inspired terrorist groups.

But with widespread reports on the repression and harassment of non-Muslim groups such as Christians and Hindus, intra-Islam persecution, specifically against minority Shia and Ahmadiyya populations, is often overlooked in the region.

Malaysia traces its Shia roots to the Persian presence in the trading port of Malacca after Portuguese conquests in the 16th century. Shia Islam is thought to have arrived in Indonesia as early as the 9th century. But many commentators now contend it only spread through Southeast Asia after the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

The Malaysian constitution rules that Islam is the state religion, but makes no distinction between Sunni or Shia. Nonetheless, in 1996, the country’s National Fatwa Council ruled that Shia Muslims were “deviants.” The fatwa made it illegal for Shiites to proselytize or spread Shia principles in print or online.

It also ruled that Muslims in Malaysia must abide by “the teachings of Islam based on the doctrine of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jamaah,” or Sunni Islam.

Eleven of Malaysia’s 14 states are now thought to have implemented the fatwa in their state Islamic authority bodies, though anti-Shia regulations are not standardized across the states.

In 2014, a judge of an Islamic religious court in Perak, a northern Malaysia state, threw out the case of three Shiites arrested for possessing Shia literature because of a technicality in the prosecution’s paperwork.

Malaysia’s federal government has on occasion arrested Shiites under the 1960 Internal Security Act and its draconian successor, the 2012 Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act, both of which allow for detention without trial for reasons of national security.

Othman Mustapha, director general of Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development (Jakim), part of the Prime Minister’s Department, once described Shia Islam as akin to “a cancer that needs to be prevented from spreading in the best possible way, before it becomes worse – to the point of being a threat to Muslim unity.”

Independent analysts, however, wonder why officials have reacted so strongly to such a small sect. “For a population that has largely kept to itself and remained out of the public eye, the attention Shias have attracted is curiously disproportionate,” wrote MohdFaizal Musa, of the National University of Malaysia, in an essay published last year.

The situation is similar in Indonesia, where there are at most 2.5 million Shiites, or roughly a mere 1% of the population. Indonesia’s national census does not distinguish between Sunnis and Shias, so the actual number of Shiites is a rough estimate.

An East Java branch of the Indonesian Ulema Council, the country’s highest clerical body, issued a fatwa against Shiites in 2012. Two years later, several Islamic groups came together to form the National Anti-Shia Alliance. The alliance has since launched public attacks against the sect.

In 2011, a 500-strong anti-Shia mob attacked a village in East Java, forcing more than 300 Shiites to flee. No one was ever prosecuted for the attack and local authorities a month later forced the Shia victims to return to their village, which had been razed to the ground.

The situation has not improved since, analysts say. “The intensity of the anti-Shia campaign is new,” stated a 2016 report by the Institute For Policy Analysis of Conflict, an Indonesian think-tank.

Some analysts think the rise of anti-Shia sentiment in Southeast Asia is directly related to the growth of Saudi-influenced Wahhabism, a literalist interpretation of Sunni Islam that has motivated many Southeast Asia-based terrorist groups, as well as Islamic State (ISIS).

Saudi-backed Islamization programs became more prevalent during the tenure of Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s prime minister between 1981 and 2003. In Indonesia, the end of the Suharto dictatorship in 1998 provided Saudi-influenced and funded groups the space to agitate openly  for more fundamentalist interpretations of Sunni Islam.

“Authoritarianism prioritized religious tolerance – for the sake of stability, if nothing else.… But when the democratic floodgates opened in 1998, conservatives could finally organize and evangelize,” wrote LuthfiAssyaukanie, an academic and co-founder of the Liberal Islam Network, an Indonesian advocacy group.

A corollary suggestion is that more recent anti-Shia sentiment is a result of an ongoing Middle Eastern power struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the two self-appointed defenders of Sunni and Shia Islam, respectively. The Yemeni crisis is thought to be a direct result of such power struggles, as are recent events in Iraq.

There have been reports, namely by Al Jazeera, that Malaysian soldiers might be fighting with the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. The government has denied the reports, claiming that Malaysian soldiers in the region are there only for “learning experience,” according to Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

HarussaniZakaria, the mufti of Perak, has called Shiism an Iranian sect, which has led some commentators to think of anti-Shia movements in Southeast Asia as an expression of geopolitics, not local resentment.

As a result, many commentators say that intra-Islam sectarianism is becoming more politicized in Southeast Asia simply because of opportunistic politicians burnishing their Sunni credentials to gain more support from rich Middle Eastern countries, namely Saudi Arabia.

There is no doubt some truth to the suggestion, given that the Malaysian and Indonesian governments have frequently backed down to conservative elements in society to maintain their political support.

But the claim is also somewhat reductive. If opportunistic politicians are espousing more conservative and sectarian understandings of Islam, then it must mean they think such a stance is popular with the public.

Syed FaridAlatas, a Malaysian sociologist at the National University of Singapore, last month blamed the silent majority of Sunni Muslims in his country for turning a blind eye to the plight of Shiites.

“When it comes to sectarianism, it is the people’s fault, because our government will change its tune if it knows that the majority will not condone [sectarianism],” he said during a recent talk on moderation in Islam.

The Pew Research Center, a US-based think-tank and pollster, conducted a worldwide survey on the attitudes of Muslims toward different elements of faith back in 2013.

When Indonesian respondents were asked if they favored making sharia the national law of the country, 72% said they would – it is currently only the law in the semi-autonomous state of Aceh.

Of Malaysian respondents, 86% said they would, higher than the percentages recorded in Pakistan and Egypt, two Muslim countries that are not typically described as “moderate.”

And only 36% of Sunni respondents in Malaysia, and 24% in Indonesia, accepted Shiites as Muslims, a trend in sentiment that appears to be holding today.

http://en.abna24.com/news/comment/anti-shia-sentiment-on-rise-in-indonesia-malaysia-due-to-saudi-influenced-wahhabism_880613.html

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Muslim Renovates Temple Of Ram's Param-Bhakt Hanuman in Ahmedabad

Sarfaraz Shaikh | TNN | Updated: Feb 4, 2018

AHMEDABAD: At a time when the two communities are locked in a bitter legal battle over construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya where the Babri Masjid once stood, Moin Memon, a Muslim in Ahmedabad, has undertaken renovation of a 500-year-old Hanuman temple. Ahmedabad is arguably one of the most communally polarized cities in the country.

For the past two weeks, Memon, a 43-year-old builder, has devoted almost all his time at the site of 'BhidBhanjan Hanuman' temple in Hanuman Gali of Mirzapur area of the walled city of Ahmedabad. He personally oversees workers fixing saffron Italian tiles on the temple's facade.

Memon has taken it on himself to shoulder all the expenses of the renovation work to restore the Hanuman temple to its original glory. Memon has steadfastly refused to divulge the cost involved in the good deed. He has received the temple priest Rajesh Bhatt's blessings for his work.

Restoration restores hope in amity

I have grown up seeing the temple in its vibrant glory. I offer namaz five times a day but as I passed by the temple, its dilapidated condition pained me. I contactedthe priest, RajeshBhatt, and offeredtorenovateit.Hehappily agreed," saidMemon. Bhatt, who has offered his services at the Hanuman temple for the past 30 years, said Memon had especially ordered saffron tiles from Italy for the temple's facade. "The restoration work will be over in a week's time. It is a shining example of communal goodwill and brotherhoodfortheentire country," Rajesh Bhatt, the priest of the temple said. Vrajesh Mehta, priest of the adjoining 'Shri EkLingjiMahadev' temple, says 'Hanuman Dada' must have inspired Memon to renovate the temple withoutworryingaboutthe money.

Mehta said the temple stands on the ancestral land of the family of Vinod Gaur of Maninagar. "Vinodbhai, an aged man, comes regularly to the temple. About50devotees visitthetempledaily. Hanuman Dada will now take care of Memon's worries," said Mehta.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/muslim-renovates-temple-of-rams-param-bhakt-hanuman-in-city/articleshow/62774657.cms

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Turkish Forces Experience Bloodiest Day during Operation Olive Branch in Northern Syria

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- A sum of 14 Turkish soldiers were killed or wounded on the 15th day of its Operation Olive Branch against Kurds in Northern Syrian, Turkish sources said on Sunday.

The sources said that the Kurdish units targeted a tank of the Turkish Army by an anti-tank TOW missile in Sheikh Khoroz region, killing five soldiers.

In the meantime, a monitoring position of the Turkish forces at Kilis province's border with Syria was targeted by the Kurdish fighters' anti-tank missile, leaving two soldiers dead and five more injured, the sources said adding that two of the injured are in critical conditions.

Also, the Turkish media reported that an army men was killed and another one was injured on the 15th day of Operation Olive Branch in Afrin on Sunday.

The Syrian government on Friday slammed the recent Turkish incursion into Afrin as a flagrant assault on the sovereignty of Syria.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry sent letters to the UN Security Council that called Turkey’s self-defense claim in Afrin merely lies.

The Ministry added that Syria rejects all attempts by the Turkish regime to rely on UNSC resolutions no. 1373, 1624, 1170 and 1178 as no resolutions give member states the right to harm the sovereignty of other states and launch military operations on their territories under the pretext of counter-terrorism.

“The Syrian Arab Republic stresses that the presence of any foreign military operations on its territories without its overt approval is an assault and occupation, which will be dealt with on that basis,” it continued to say, adding that the Turkish military operation on Syria constitutes a violation of the UN Charter.

“Syria urges the UNSC not to allow to any state to use force in a way that contradicts with the international law or to depend on the charter to justify its aggressive atrocities as it also urges the Council not to make the Charter a method by the hands of such states to explain it in accordance to their narrow interests that contradict with the context and core of the Charter,” the letter concluded.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961115000481

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Afghan president leaves open possibility of talks with some Taliban

Reuters | Feb 3, 2018

KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani left open on Saturday the possibility for talks with militants who accept peace but said the door was closed to those who cause tragedies like recent attacks in the capital, Kabul.

An attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul on January 20 and a suicide bombing on a crowded city street a week later have stoked public anger and stepped up pressure on Ghani's Western-backed government to improve security.

The attacks, which killed more than 130 people and were claimed by the Taliban, have also raised fresh doubt about long-running efforts to initiate talks with the insurgents.

The president's office said on Tuesday the militants had crossed a "red line" and peace would have to be won on the battle field.

But Ghani raised the possibility of reconciliation with some militants in a speech to Islamic clerics in Kabul.

"Those who are responsible for this tragedy and do not want peace, the door of peace is closed to them," Ghani said.

"Those who accept peace, they will witness that the nation will embrace them. But there is a clear difference, our commitment to bringing peace does not mean we will sit quietly and won't retaliate."

"We will dig them out from any hiding holes."

Afghanistan's government has made such vows for years but the insurgency appears ever more resilient. Peace efforts have been made in fits and starts but without progress.

US President Donald Trump appeared to dash any hope for peace efforts on Monday when he condemned the Taliban for the Kabul violence and rejected the idea of talks.

Trump last year ordered an increase in US troops, air strikes and other assistance to Afghan forces, to force the Taliban to negotiate.

But his comments on Monday suggested he saw a military victory over the Taliban, an outcome that US military and diplomatic officials said could not be achieved with the resources and manpower he had authorized.

US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said in Kabul on Tuesday the US strategy had not changed and the aim was still to press the Taliban militarily to convince them that they had to negotiate.

The Taliban are fighting to drive out foreign troops and re-establish their form of strict Islamic law.

Afghanistan has long accused neighbouring Pakistan of failing to act against Taliban plotting violence from safe havens on the Pakistani side of the border.

On Friday, Ghani accused Pakistan of being the "Taliban centre" and said he was waiting for Pakistani action.

Pakistan denies helping the Taliban and a Pakistani delegation led by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua visited Kabul on Saturday with the aim of fostering cooperation. Janjua called for both sides to stop the "blame game", Pakistani media reported.

The United States said last month it would cut security aid to Pakistan, complaining it was not doing enough to fight militants sheltering there.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/afghan-president-leaves-open-possibility-of-talks-with-some-taliban/articleshow/62770855.cms

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No peace with the perpetrators of recent Kabul attacks: Ghani

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Feb 04 2018

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani says the government will not hold talks with those involved behind the recent deadly bombing that left more than 100 people dead near the Jamhoriat hospital.

Speaking in a meeting of the Afghan high peace council, President Ghani said the attack was a clear declaration of war against the Afghan nation, insisting that those who claim responsibility for the attack are no more belonging to the Afghan society.

The Taliban group claimed responsibility behind the attack that left more than 100 dead and over 200 others wounded.

In the meantime, President Ghani insisted that the government and nation should succeed both in peace efforts and in the war against terrorists.

He said the time has come for the Taliban group and their supporters for a decision to choose from the two alternatives.

In regards to the peace efforts, President Ghani said a clear roadmap should be prepared for the peace process along with a clear perspective.

However, he said tendency towards peace process does not mean that the government will sit silent.

He said that there should be a distinction between those willing to participate in peace talks and those refraining from doing so, insisting that the doors will be closed who are not prepared for the reconciliation process.

President Ghani warned that those supporting violence and continued insurgency will be eliminated and the nation will take revenge of the atrocities.

www.khaama.com/no-peace-with-the-perpetrators-of-recent-kabul-attacks-ghani-04415

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Southeast Asia

Anti-Shia sentiment on rise in Indonesia, Malaysia due to Saudi-influenced Wahhabism

February 4, 2018

Rising anti-Shiite sentiment owes to Saudi-influenced Wahhabism, a literalist reading of Islam that promotes intra-religious persecution

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - An Islamic cleric in Malaysia stirred controversy last month after claiming that Shiites, members of a minority Muslim sect, pose a national-security threat and that action should be taken against them.

MohdAsriZainulAbidin, the mufti of Perlis, a northwestern Malaysian state, said Shia Muslims could “threaten national security” and a movement was afoot among them to turn Malaysia into a “mullah state,” a reference to the theocratic Shiite rulers of Iran.

This is despite the fact that there are likely at most 200,000 Shiites in Malaysia, a Muslim majority country of more than 28 million, and none have been connected to domestic terrorist attacks or extremist groups. Malaysia’s Muslims, who dominate politics, are overwhelmingly Sunni.

Asri’s comments come amid an investigation into the disappearance of social activist AmriChe Mat, who went missing in November 2016. He is just one of several civil-society actors who have “disappeared” in Malaysia in recent years.

Mufti Asri has claimed that Amri, the co-founder of Perlis Hope, a charity, was secretly proselytizing people to convert to Shia Islam and a form of contract marriage known as mutah not recognized in Malaysia where a conjugal bond can be ended through mutual consent.

NorhayatiAriffin, Amri’s wife, told the Human Rights Commission she suspected Asri’s fatwa office might have had a role in her husband’s disappearance. She has challenged Asri to prove her husband was trying to convert others to the minority sect.

Asri has denied any involvement, telling one local newspaper, “Maybe her husband has gone off somewhere. Maybe he is gone t0 [Shia majority] Iran.”

An investigation into Amri’s disappearance is ongoing.

Conservative Islam is on the rise across Malaysia and Indonesia, as are fears that the two nations could one day become hotbeds for Islamic State-inspired terrorist groups.

But with widespread reports on the repression and harassment of non-Muslim groups such as Christians and Hindus, intra-Islam persecution, specifically against minority Shia and Ahmadiyya populations, is often overlooked in the region.

Malaysia traces its Shia roots to the Persian presence in the trading port of Malacca after Portuguese conquests in the 16th century. Shia Islam is thought to have arrived in Indonesia as early as the 9th century. But many commentators now contend it only spread through Southeast Asia after the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

The Malaysian constitution rules that Islam is the state religion, but makes no distinction between Sunni or Shia. Nonetheless, in 1996, the country’s National Fatwa Council ruled that Shia Muslims were “deviants.” The fatwa made it illegal for Shiites to proselytize or spread Shia principles in print or online.

It also ruled that Muslims in Malaysia must abide by “the teachings of Islam based on the doctrine of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jamaah,” or Sunni Islam.

Eleven of Malaysia’s 14 states are now thought to have implemented the fatwa in their state Islamic authority bodies, though anti-Shia regulations are not standardized across the states.

In 2014, a judge of an Islamic religious court in Perak, a northern Malaysia state, threw out the case of three Shiites arrested for possessing Shia literature because of a technicality in the prosecution’s paperwork.

Malaysia’s federal government has on occasion arrested Shiites under the 1960 Internal Security Act and its draconian successor, the 2012 Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act, both of which allow for detention without trial for reasons of national security.

Othman Mustapha, director general of Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development (Jakim), part of the Prime Minister’s Department, once described Shia Islam as akin to “a cancer that needs to be prevented from spreading in the best possible way, before it becomes worse – to the point of being a threat to Muslim unity.”

Independent analysts, however, wonder why officials have reacted so strongly to such a small sect. “For a population that has largely kept to itself and remained out of the public eye, the attention Shias have attracted is curiously disproportionate,” wrote MohdFaizal Musa, of the National University of Malaysia, in an essay published last year.

The situation is similar in Indonesia, where there are at most 2.5 million Shiites, or roughly a mere 1% of the population. Indonesia’s national census does not distinguish between Sunnis and Shias, so the actual number of Shiites is a rough estimate.

An East Java branch of the Indonesian Ulema Council, the country’s highest clerical body, issued a fatwa against Shiites in 2012. Two years later, several Islamic groups came together to form the National Anti-Shia Alliance. The alliance has since launched public attacks against the sect.

In 2011, a 500-strong anti-Shia mob attacked a village in East Java, forcing more than 300 Shiites to flee. No one was ever prosecuted for the attack and local authorities a month later forced the Shia victims to return to their village, which had been razed to the ground.

The situation has not improved since, analysts say. “The intensity of the anti-Shia campaign is new,” stated a 2016 report by the Institute For Policy Analysis of Conflict, an Indonesian think-tank.

Some analysts think the rise of anti-Shia sentiment in Southeast Asia is directly related to the growth of Saudi-influenced Wahhabism, a literalist interpretation of Sunni Islam that has motivated many Southeast Asia-based terrorist groups, as well as Islamic State (ISIS).

Saudi-backed Islamization programs became more prevalent during the tenure of Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s prime minister between 1981 and 2003. In Indonesia, the end of the Suharto dictatorship in 1998 provided Saudi-influenced and funded groups the space to agitate openly  for more fundamentalist interpretations of Sunni Islam.

“Authoritarianism prioritized religious tolerance – for the sake of stability, if nothing else.… But when the democratic floodgates opened in 1998, conservatives could finally organize and evangelize,” wrote LuthfiAssyaukanie, an academic and co-founder of the Liberal Islam Network, an Indonesian advocacy group.

A corollary suggestion is that more recent anti-Shia sentiment is a result of an ongoing Middle Eastern power struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the two self-appointed defenders of Sunni and Shia Islam, respectively. The Yemeni crisis is thought to be a direct result of such power struggles, as are recent events in Iraq.

There have been reports, namely by Al Jazeera, that Malaysian soldiers might be fighting with the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. The government has denied the reports, claiming that Malaysian soldiers in the region are there only for “learning experience,” according to Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

HarussaniZakaria, the mufti of Perak, has called Shiism an Iranian sect, which has led some commentators to think of anti-Shia movements in Southeast Asia as an expression of geopolitics, not local resentment.

As a result, many commentators say that intra-Islam sectarianism is becoming more politicized in Southeast Asia simply because of opportunistic politicians burnishing their Sunni credentials to gain more support from rich Middle Eastern countries, namely Saudi Arabia.

There is no doubt some truth to the suggestion, given that the Malaysian and Indonesian governments have frequently backed down to conservative elements in society to maintain their political support.

But the claim is also somewhat reductive. If opportunistic politicians are espousing more conservative and sectarian understandings of Islam, then it must mean they think such a stance is popular with the public.

Syed FaridAlatas, a Malaysian sociologist at the National University of Singapore, last month blamed the silent majority of Sunni Muslims in his country for turning a blind eye to the plight of Shiites.

“When it comes to sectarianism, it is the people’s fault, because our government will change its tune if it knows that the majority will not condone [sectarianism],” he said during a recent talk on moderation in Islam.

The Pew Research Center, a US-based think-tank and pollster, conducted a worldwide survey on the attitudes of Muslims toward different elements of faith back in 2013.

When Indonesian respondents were asked if they favored making sharia the national law of the country, 72% said they would – it is currently only the law in the semi-autonomous state of Aceh.

Of Malaysian respondents, 86% said they would, higher than the percentages recorded in Pakistan and Egypt, two Muslim countries that are not typically described as “moderate.”

And only 36% of Sunni respondents in Malaysia, and 24% in Indonesia, accepted Shiites as Muslims, a trend in sentiment that appears to be holding today.

http://en.abna24.com/news/comment/anti-shia-sentiment-on-rise-in-indonesia-malaysia-due-to-saudi-influenced-wahhabism_880613.html

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Maldives Government Warns Supreme Court Against Impeachment Move

February 04, 2018

MALE, MALDIVES:  The beleaguered Maldives government Sunday ordered police and troops to reject any move by the Supreme Court to arrest or impeach President Abdulla Yameen over his refusal to release political prisoners.

The tiny tourist archipelago has been plunged into a political crisis pitting the country's top court against Yameen, whose crackdown on dissent has tarnished the nation's image as an upmarket holiday paradise.

On Thursday -- in a move that surprised many -- judges ordered authorities to release nine political dissidents and restore the seats of 12 legislators who had been sacked for defecting from Yameen's party, ruling the cases were politically motivated.

But the Yameen government has so far refused, shuttering parliament and resisting international calls to comply.

In a national television address on Sunday Attorney General Mohamed Anil said the government remained defiant.

"Any Supreme Court order to arrest the president would be unconstitutional and illegal. So I have asked the police and the army not to implement any unconstitutional order," Anil said.

The reinstatement of the dozen legislators gave the opposition a majority in the 85-member assembly, and it can now potentially impeach Yameen.

However the authorities shut parliament indefinitely on Saturday to avert such a move. Yameen also sacked two police chiefs after the court's decision.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party  -- led by the country's first democratically-elected president Mohamed Nasheed -- has urged the government to respect the top court's decision, fearing any refusal might trigger unrest in the nation of 340,000 Sunni Muslims.

The Maldivian government said Friday it had concerns about releasing those convicted for "terrorism, corruption, embezzlement, and treason".

The United Nations, Australia, Britain, Canada, India and the United States welcomed the court's decision as a move towards restoring democracy in the politically troubled Indian Ocean nation.

Nasheed was barred from contesting any election in the Maldives after a controversial 2015 terrorism conviction which was internationally criticised as politically motivated. He lives abroad after travelling out of the country in 2016 on prison leave for medical treatment.

www.ndtv.com/world-news/maldives-government-warns-supreme-court-against-impeachment-move-1808444

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Maldives crisis deepens; President Yameen under fire for dragging feet on court ruling

Sachin Parashar | TNN | Updated: Feb 4, 2018

Nasheed, jailed for 13 years in 2015 on terrorism charges, got political asylum in 2016 in the UK, where he was allowed to go for “medical treatment”.

He has since been living in Sri Lanka.

Maldivian president Yameen Abdul Gayoom surrounded by his body guards arrives to address his supporters in Male (AP Photo)Maldivian president Yameen Abdul Gayoom surrounded by his body guards arrives to address his supporters in Male (AP Photo)

NEW DELHI: The strategically located Maldives in the Indian Ocean remained in the throes of the worst political crisis to have hit the archipelago in the past few years with President Abdulla Yameen showing no sign of implementing the Supreme Court ruling which ordered the release of all political prisoners, including former President Mohamed Nasheed.

"This will be sorted out soon...I'll deal with the Supreme Court,'' Yameen, according to sources in Male, told a gathering of his supporters on Saturday.

Senior MDP (the main opposition party) leader and former foreign minister Ahmed Naseem told TOI that Yameen was working to appoint his "cronies'' to the Supreme Court bench. ''We believe Yameen might threaten the sitting bench with arrest if they don't revert the decision,'' said Naseem.

"There is absolutely no indication that Yameen is going to abide by the court ruling. We will welcome any action by India which can help change that,'' he added.

It is significant that while countries like the US, Britain, Canada and India have weighed in with the assertion that implementing the ruling was important for restoring democracy in the country, China has so far remained quiet on the issue. It is no secret that Yameen has a powerful backer in Beijing and that he has skilfully played India and China against each other despite his stated India First policy.

After the court ruling, Nasheed has declared that he can and will contest the elections which should take place this year. In an interaction with TOI in February last year, Nasheen had said that India had a moral obligation to facilitate "inclusive, free and fair elections in the Maldives" in 2018.

Yameen's government Saturday announced postponement of the functioning of Maldives' Parliament due to "security reasons'' further fuelling the perception that he was not going to follow the court order. An agency report late evening quoted him as saying that he was willing to hold early elections and that he was also looking to ensure that the court ruling is implemented in a manner that it doesn't cause "any difficulties to people" .

The joint Maldivian opposition, led by Nasheed's MDP, again appealed to the international community, including India, to do everything "in their power to impress upon the Government of Maldives, security services and institutions to respect the Supreme Court ruling, and to uphold the Constitution and abide by Maldives commitments under international law to protect civil and political rights of its citizens''.

The apex court order has, according to the opposition, also cancelled an earlier anti-defection ruling of 2017, thus reinstating 12 opposition MPs. This has given the opposition a clear majority in Parliament and that's the reason the opposition believes Yameen can no longer remain in power.

The ruling said all political prisoners must be released as the trials against them violated the Maldives' Constitution and international law. The ruling also stated that political pressure was applied on the prosecutors and the courts during these trials.

In late January, as Naseem said, the opposition petitioned the apex court to temporarily remove President Yameen Abdulla from office in order to investigate unprecedented ``grand corruption and increasing authoritarianism''.

"Instead of ruling on the matter, the Supreme Court reinstated parliamentarians that were removed from their seats for mounting an impeachment motion against the Speaker of Majlis, Abdulla Maseeh, a key ally of the president. The verdict also declared that all political prisoners were imprisoned after severely flawed trials, and therefore must be immediately released and granted re-trials,'' said Naseem.

Naseem said that Yameen had also removed police commissioner Ahmed Areef after he refused to delay the enforcement of the verdict. The opposition also alleged that many employees of government-affiliated companies were forced to come out on the streets on Saturday in support of Yameen for their "fear of unemployment''.

"At the rally he said that the government is enforcing the decision, however, commented that his Attorney General Mohamed Anil is "negotiating" with the Supreme Court,'' said Naseem.

The joint opposition also said in its statement issued Saturday that the government had resorted to using undue force against demonstrators celebrating the apex court's ruling.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/maldives-crisis-deepens-yameen-under-fire-for-dragging-feet-on-court-ruling/articleshow/62772794.cms

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Maldives president says he's willing to hold early election

AP | Feb 4, 2018

MALE (Maldives): The president of the Maldives said he's willing to hold an early presidential election to allow voters to decide who they want to lead the Indian Ocean archipelago, as political unrest continued to grow after a court ordered the release and retrial of political prisoners.

Speaking publicly for the first time since Thursday's Supreme Court order to release politicians opposed to him, including exiled former President Mohammed Nasheed, President Yameen Abdul Gayoom said he was open to holding an election several months before his term ends in November.

In addition to ordering the release of the political prisoners, the court also reinstated 12 lawmakers who had been ousted for switching allegiance to the opposition. When those lawmakers return, Yameen's Progressive Party of the Maldives will lose its majority in the 85-member parliament, which can result in the legislative body functioning as a rival power to the president.

The opening of the parliament for the year on Feb. 5 has been indefinitely postponed, said opposition lawmaker Ahmed Mahloof. He said the government's fear of losing their majority could be the reason for the postponement.

Yameen said that he did not expect the court ruling, but that all relevant authorities of the state need to do "a lot of work to see how to implement it.''

"We are working on making sure we can respect the Supreme Court order in a way that doesn't cause any difficulties to the people,'' he said at a rally in his support organized by his party.

Earlier Saturday, Yameen fired a national police chief for the second time since the court order. Yameen's office said he dismissed Ahmed Saudhee and appointed Deputy Police Commissioner Abdulla Nawaz to act as interim police chief. No reason was given for the dismissal.

Saudhee was appointed interim police chief on Friday, one day after Yameen fired AhamedAreef, whose dismissal came after the police department announced that it would uphold the Supreme Court's order. Attorney General Mohamed Anil said Areef was fired because Yameen was repeatedly unable to reach him on the phone.

The court's ruling, which said the dissident political leaders' guilty verdicts were politically influenced, has led to protests by opposition supporters urging the government to obey the order.

Protesters late Friday and early Saturday converged on a prison in the capital, Male, where the politicians are being held, demanding their immediate release, but police forced them to leave. They then moved to another location for a sit-in protest that was also broken up. Journalists were kept away from both events by police.

After the court's ruling was made public, street celebrations by government opponents transformed into three hours of clashes with police, who used tear gas and batons to break up the gatherings.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asked the Maldivian government to respect the Supreme Court's order, joining a similar appeal by the United States.

"The secretary-general reiterates his belief in finding a solution to the political stalemate in the Maldives through all-party talks, which the United Nations continues to stand ready to facilitate,'' Gutteres' spokesman said in a statement.

Known for its luxury tourist resorts, the Maldives became a multiparty democracy 10 years ago after decades of autocratic rule by the current president's half brother, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

But the nation lost much of its democratic gains after Yameen was elected in 2013. He has maintained a tight grip on power, controlling institutions such as the judiciary and the police.

Yameen had been set to run for re-election this year virtually unopposed, with all of his opponents either jailed or exiled.

On Friday, Nasheed, whose conviction for abducting a judge was overturned by the court order, said he would mount a fresh challenge for the presidency this year.

Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in prison after he was convicted of the abduction charge under the Maldives' anti-terror laws in a trial that was widely condemned by international rights groups.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/maldives-president-says-hes-willing-to-hold-early-election/articleshow/62775309.cms

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India

Muslim Renovates Temple Of Ram's Param-Bhakt Hanuman in Ahmedabad

Sarfaraz Shaikh | TNN | Updated: Feb 4, 2018

AHMEDABAD: At a time when the two communities are locked in a bitter legal battle over construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya where the Babri Masjid once stood, Moin Memon, a Muslim in Ahmedabad, has undertaken renovation of a 500-year-old Hanuman temple. Ahmedabad is arguably one of the most communally polarized cities in the country.

For the past two weeks, Memon, a 43-year-old builder, has devoted almost all his time at the site of 'BhidBhanjan Hanuman' temple in Hanuman Gali of Mirzapur area of the walled city of Ahmedabad. He personally oversees workers fixing saffron Italian tiles on the temple's facade.

Memon has taken it on himself to shoulder all the expenses of the renovation work to restore the Hanuman temple to its original glory. Memon has steadfastly refused to divulge the cost involved in the good deed. He has received the temple priest Rajesh Bhatt's blessings for his work.

Restoration restores hope in amity

I have grown up seeing the temple in its vibrant glory. I offer namaz five times a day but as I passed by the temple, its dilapidated condition pained me. I contactedthe priest, RajeshBhatt, and offeredtorenovateit.Hehappily agreed," saidMemon. Bhatt, who has offered his services at the Hanuman temple for the past 30 years, said Memon had especially ordered saffron tiles from Italy for the temple's facade. "The restoration work will be over in a week's time. It is a shining example of communal goodwill and brotherhoodfortheentire country," Rajesh Bhatt, the priest of the temple said. Vrajesh Mehta, priest of the adjoining 'Shri EkLingjiMahadev' temple, says 'Hanuman Dada' must have inspired Memon to renovate the temple withoutworryingaboutthe money.

Mehta said the temple stands on the ancestral land of the family of Vinod Gaur of Maninagar. "Vinodbhai, an aged man, comes regularly to the temple. About50devotees visitthetempledaily. Hanuman Dada will now take care of Memon's worries," said Mehta.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/muslim-renovates-temple-of-rams-param-bhakt-hanuman-in-city/articleshow/62774657.cms

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Pained by Allegations, Muslims in Agra to Take Out TirangaYatra

 

A few days earlier, the district administration didn’t give permission to Vishwa Hindu Parishad for a TirangaYatra and hence the event was stopped at Shaheed Smarak and a memorandum was handed over to them on the spot by the members of VHP.

QaziFaraz Ahmad | News18@qazifarazahmadUpdated:February 4, 2018, 5:14 PM IST facebookTwittergoogleskype

Pained by Allegations, Muslims in Agra to Take Out TirangaYatra Representative Image (Photo: PTI)

Lucknow: Upset over allegations of not respecting the national flag, Agra’s Muslim community has decided to take out a TirangaYatra in which around 500 Muslims are expected to participate. A social activist ShabanaKhandelwal, who was pained by the recent Kasganj communal clashes, said such incidents are shameful for the society and Indian Muslims are no less patriot and are committed to the nation.

As per ShabanaKhandelwal, due to some political outfits, a wrong message was being propagated in the society regarding Muslims of India. “We want to end this myth that Muslims don’t respect Indian Tri-colour. Around 500 Muslims from the non-political background will be holding the Indian flag and will march to spread the message of peace.”

As per Khandelwal, all the necessary permissions have already been sought for the TirangaYatra from the administration. “A letter seeking permission for the event has already been sent to the DM office on Saturday and we will be conducting the march with the Indian flag in our hands from Shaheed Smarak to MG Road where we will be handing over a memorandum to the District Magistrate,” she said.

However, the Agra police officials claimed that they were yet to receive information about any such march from DM’s office. SP City, KunwarAnupam said, “As of now, we have not yet received any information regarding any such event. As per the rule, the administration seeks the report from police and permission is given only after analysing a situation.

A few days earlier, the district administration didn’t give permission to Vishwa Hindu Parishad for a TirangaYatra and hence the event was stopped at Shaheed Smarak and a memorandum was handed over to them on the spot by the members of VHP.

Meanwhile, in the Kasganj communal clashes, the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) has accused the Yogi Adityanath government of being biased against the Muslims as many Muslim youths were arrested after the Kasganj violence, which claimed the life of a 22-year-old boy. The JIH General Secretary, Mohammed Salim had demanded a judicial probe in the Kasganj violence.

http://www.news18.com/news/india/pained-by-allegations-muslims-in-agra-to-take-out-tiranga-yatra-1650359.html

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Man from Kannur on NIA radar for funding Islamic State sympathisers

By Toby Antony  |  Express News Service  |   Published: 04th February 2018 01:27 AM  | 

Last Updated: 04th February 2018

KOCHI:  The National Investigation Agency (NIA) probing the migration of youths from Kannur to Syria for joining the Islamic State (IS), is in the process of tracking down a Kannur native NRI who allegedly funded their travel.

The NIA has received information about Tasleem alias Rocky, currently staying in the UAE, who provided funds to Mohammed Shajil alias Abu Dhain, of Kannur, for meeting travel expenses. According to NIA, Tasleem gave $4,000 to Shajil and this amount was used for staying in Turkey and for moving to Syria later. “Tasleem has not been made an accused in the case yet. We are trying to confirm his identity and track him down. We have to check whether Tasleem has any connection with the IS and its module existed in Kerala,” an NIA officer said.

In the case of Shajahan, a Kannur native, who was arrested by the Delhi Police for trying to migrate to Syria to join the IS ranks, sold a car registered in the name of his wife for `4,05,000 in July 2006, to meet the expenses.Besides, Abdul Manaf P P, another Kannur native suspected to be in Syria, had given $4,000 to Shajahan. He also sold 34.76 gms of gold ornaments for `98,092 at a jewellery shop in Kannur on July 29, 2016, according to an NIA report filed at a court in Delhi.

The group had to pay a hefty sum to agents for crossing the borders of Iran and Turkey before reaching Syria. In Iran, they paid money to a Tamil Nadu native and a former aide of underworld don Haji Mastan identified as Muthu alias Mustafa. The amount was paid in dollars to a Russian agent.The NIA units in New Delhi and Kochi are probing two separate cases related to the migration of Kannur residents to Syria.

As part of the probe, a total of seven persons have been arrested for their alleged IS links. According to the report filed by the NIA at its Special Court in New Delhi, the accused persons were former members of Popular Front of India (PFI).Shajahan used to speak in favour of ‘Khilafat’ declared by the IS and he formed a separate group of like-minded associates in PFI, including Shajil, Midilaj, Rashid M V and Abdul Manaf — all accused in the case.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/2018/feb/04/man-from-kannur-on-nia-radar-for-funding-islamic-state-sympathisers-1767979.html

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Zakir Naik in Book, Uttar Pradesh School in Trouble

HarveerDabas | TNN | Feb 4, 2018

A book named ‘IlmUnNafe’ was being taught to the kids of Class II of the school

Naik is facing probe ever since Bangladesh said his sermons triggered 2016 Dhaka terror attack

BIJNOR: Acting on a tip-off that controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik's books were on the syllabus of a privately-run government-recognized school in Dhaki village of Bijnor, Bijnor's basic Shiksha Adhikari sent a team and found the allegations to be "correct". A notice has now been served to the school's owner. Naik is facing multi-agency probe ever since Bangladesh said that Naik's sermons had triggered terror attack in Dhaka in July 2016.

BSA Mahesh Chandra said, "On Friday, a team led by block education officer Shiv Kumar was sent to the village and found that a book named 'Ilm Un Nafe' was being taught to the kids of Class II. However, no copy of the book was found in the school. Later, the probe team questioned the owner of the school. He said that a book was being taught to the students of class II in which there was a chapter on Naik. But when he came to know about the row, he withdrew the book."

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/meerut/govt-recognized-school-found-teaching-kids-book-on-zakir-naik/articleshow/62771791.cms

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After Shia, hope Sunnis would support Ram temple in Ayodhya: Giriraj Singh

PTI Published : Feb 4, 2018

UP Shia Central Waqf Board had submitted proposal before SC for settlement of decades-old dispute over Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site.

Thane: Union minister Giriraj Singh said he hoped Sunni Muslims would come out in support of building a Ram Temple in Ayodhya just as Shias extended their support to the cause.

The BJP leader was speaking at the inauguration of the 25th RashtriyaKaviSammelan in Thane.

"Shias have already supported the construction of a Ram Temple in Ayodhya. I'm hopeful Sunni Muslims will also extend their support for the cause," he told reporters in Thane on Sunday night.

In November, 2017, the Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Waqf Board had submitted before the Supreme Court a proposal for settlement of the decades-old dispute over the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site, saying a temple can be built in Ayodhya and the mosque could be raised in Lucknow.

Singh said he widely used social media to blunt the opposition's criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP posted a thumping victory in 2017.

"The prime minister came under attack by his opponents during the UP elections but I extensively made use of social media to spread the message of what good had been done (under him) and you see the results for yourselves," he said.

In his inaugural address at the meet, he said there was a need to check the growth of population which was a major problem being faced by the country.

He said birth control measures were required to curb population and ease the pressure on utilisation of resources like land and water.

http://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/040218/after-shia-hope-sunnis-would-support-ram-temple-in-ayodhya-giriraj-singh.html

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47 Indian fishermen arrested in Pakistan

PTI | Feb 4, 2018

KARACHI: 47 Indian fishermen have been arrested by Pakistani authorities for allegedly fishing in the country's territorial waters in the Arabian Sea, according to a maritime official.

The Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) on Saturday arrested 47 Indian fishermen and seized nine launches for illegally fishing in Pakistani waters, a PMSA spokesperson was quoted as saying by the Express Tribune.

The arrested fishermen were handed over to the Docks police for further proceedings and investigation, it said.

The Indian boats have been confiscated for violating Pakistan's coastal territory, the spokesperson said, adding that said PMSA vessels and fast attack boats took part in an open sea operation for the purpose.

On January 19, as many as 17 Indian fishermen had been arrested by the PSMA for allegedly fishing in Pakistan's territorial waters. Three boats had also been impounded.

Pakistan had released 292 Indian fishermen as a goodwill gesture in December-January.

Pakistan and India frequently arrest fishermen as there is no clear demarcation of the maritime border in the Arabian Sea and these fishermen do not have boats equipped with the technology to know their precise location.

A number of non-governmental organisations in both India and Pakistan have raised the issue, pressing their governments to release the arrested fishermen without delay.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/47-indian-fishermen-arrested-in-pakistan/articleshow/62775235.cms

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Ayodhya land belongs to Hindus, can't be partitioned like property: VHP

Rumu Banerjee | TNN | Updated: Feb 3, 2018

NEW DELHI: Days before the Supreme Court begins hearing the Ram Mandir matter, the VHP on Saturday said the land belonged to Hindus and any other decision would not be acceptable. Senior functionary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Champat Rai, added that the movement for the Ram Mandir would be taken to the streets, so that the people could decide on the issue.

Rai, who was speaking at an event in Delhi on the genesis of the Ram Mandir issue, was categorical that it was not a "property dispute".

"The high court had in 2010 accepted that a temple existed before the mosque...there is no question of the land being divided between Hindus and Muslims like a property. The land will not be partitioned," said Rai.

Calling for an early decision from the apex court, Rai said that once the judgement comes in, the government could frame a law to build the temple. "Parliament cannot come out with a law as the matter is sub-judice at present. But once the courts decide, the government can take action," said the VHP's international secretary general.

Citing instances like the Shah Bano case or the present sealings, Rai said, "In the Shah Bano case, the court gave its judgement but because of protests from the Muslims, the government came out with a new law. Similarly, sealings led to protests, forcing the government to come out with amendments. The government has to listen to Hindus too," said Rai.

Dismissing talks of discussions, Rai said the time for discussions was long gone. "In 1992, there was scope for discussion, which is why the VHP participated in it. But that time is gone. The people will decide what happens now," said Rai.

The VHP veteran added that 60 per cent of the material to rebuild the temple had already been brought to Ayodhya. "From 1990 to 2006, we have been working on ensuring that the temple is built. 500 trucks with construction material have brought all the material to Ayodhya, so that when the time comes, we can start building the temple. 60 per cent material is available, all of which was brought with permission of the UP government. Not a single government denied us permission to transport that material," said Rai, adding, "We stopped that work as we wanted to tackle the court. Once the judgement comes through, we can work on the temple."

Underlining that the struggle for Ayodhya had been going on for 500 years, Rai said, "75 battles have been fought for the temple in the past 500 years. The struggle will not stop." In answer to a question on whether the VHP was looking to help Mathura too get back its temples, Rai said that if the people of Mathura showed even 10 per cent of the passion and determination that Ayodhya had shown, VHP would help in their struggle as well.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/ayodhya-land-belongs-to-hindus-cant-be-partitioned-like-property-vhp/articleshow/62771012.cms

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Dawood Ibrahim linked to British properties: Report

PTI | Updated: Feb 3, 2018

LONDON: India's most wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim has been linked to a series of properties across Britain, according to a media report on Saturday.

The 62-year-old fugitive mafia boss, wanted in India as the mastermind of the 1993 bomb blasts in Mumbai and accused of crimes such as match-fixing and extortion, accrued a vast property portfolio across the Midlands and south-east in the UK as well as in India, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Morocco, Turkey, Cyprus and Australia, 'The Times' reported.

The newspaper matched details from a dossier prepared by Indian authorities to records held by the UK's Companies House and the Land Registry, as well as the Panama Papers, to form a snapshot of the alleged property portfolio.

It is claimed his syndicate, known as D-Company, once smuggled drugs through Pakistan and across Indian borders for shipment to Europe and North America from the ports at Mumbai, as portrayed in a new BBC series 'McMafia'.

Ibrahim, believed to be hiding in Pakistan, is the inspiration behind an Indian underworld don named "Dilly Mahmood" in the eight-part television series, which highlights the misuse of Britain by globally organised crime syndicates.

"Britain features in his (Ibrahim's) criminal world as a place where he can launder money - a classic 'McMafia' tactic. He is thought to have property interests in a variety of southern English counties like Essex and Kent," Misha Glenny, who wrote the non-fiction book 'McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld' and is an executive producer on the TV series, told the newspaper.

"But we can't know for certain because the government has been dragging its heels in legislating to force transparency of the beneficial owners of companies registered in our overseas territories," she noted.

In an apparent parallel with Ibrahim, Dilly Mahmood is portrayed as an ambitious gangster rising from a modest background to dominate the black market in Mumbai in the series.

Documents seen by the newspaper also allege that Ibrahim's right-hand man, Muhammed Iqbal "Mirchi" Memon, on his behalf, accrued a vast property portfolio in the UK which includes hotels, mansions, tower blocks and houses in suburbs in the south-east of England.

Memon, also a suspect in the 1993 attacks, had sought refuge in London after the blasts. Attempts to extradite him to India had failed.

He was never convicted of any crimes and denied his involvement in Ibrahim's cartel. Memon, who held 11 company directorships in tiling, construction and lettings firms in Britain, died after suffering a heart attack in London in 2013.

Ibrahim, who has an Interpol red notice against him, has been on the UK Treasury sanctions list for years with three recorded addresses in Pakistan.

The gangster's place of birth is recorded as Kher, Ratnagiri, Maharashtra, and his nationality is listed as "Indian" with a recorded Indian passport, which was subsequently revoked by the Government of India.

Financial sanctions in force in the UK cover measures such as prohibiting the transfer of funds to a sanctioned country and targeted asset freezes on individuals.

In relation to the alleged properties associated with him in the UK, Ibrahim would now be a likely target for the new 'Unexplained Wealth Orders' introduced by the UK government this week.

UK security minister Ben Wallace, who has described the portrayal of crime bosses in 'McMafia' as "very close to the truth", wants the "full force of the government" to bear down on criminals and corrupt politicians using Britain as a playground and haven.

"'McMafia' is one of those things where you realise that fact is ahead of fiction. It's a really good portrayal of sharp-suited wealthy individuals, but follow the money and it ends up with a young girl getting trafficked for sex," he told 'The Times' in an interview.

"When we get to you, we will come for you, for your assets and we will make the environment that you live in difficult," he warned.

Unexplained wealth orders will require individuals suspected of serious crime or involvement in bribery or corruption to explain the source of property valued at more than 50,000 pounds.

For the first time, UK law also extends recovery powers to cover "politically exposed persons" from countries outside the European Union.

The UK government estimates that about 90 billion pounds of illegal cash is laundered in Britain every year.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/dawood-ibrahim-linked-to-british-properties-report/articleshow/62770331.cms

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Attack on J&K students in Haryana: Accused assaulted 5 other men leaving same mosque, says police

February 4, 2018

A day after two students from Jammu and Kashmir were assaulted in Mahendragarh, Haryana, police said the six accused had, the same day, assaulted five Muslim men as they walked out of a mosque after their Friday prayers.

According to Mahendragarh Superintendent of Police Kamaldeep, the Muslim men were the “original targets” of the attackers and the two students had been assaulted “mistakenly”.

On Saturday, police said they had registered two separate FIRs against the six accused: one for allegedly assaulting Aftab Ahmad and Amjad Ali, the two students from J&K who studied at Central University of Haryana in Mahendragarh, and the other for allegedly assaulting five Muslim labourers — Sadik, Sharik, Intazar, Rehman and Aslam — from Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts in UP. Two of the accused were arrested on Saturday.

“When we came out of the mosque, a group of 10 men came on five bikes and asked us to remove our skull caps. They also asked two others, who had their skull caps in their pockets, to take them out. When we refused to do as they said, they threatened us. They later followed us and assaulted us near the factory where we work,” Sadik told The Sunday Express. Sadik and the others have been working in Mahendergarh for five months.

On Friday, the two students, both residents of Rajouri in Jammu, had alleged that a group of at least 10 people had started following them soon after they came out of the same mosque in Mahendragarh. The J&K government had demanded strong action against the accused, with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti saying she was “shocked and disturbed” by the incident.

Two Kashmiri Students Allegedly Assaulted By Mob After Friday Prayers

Police said the accused were involved in a fight at three different locations. “The first scuffle took place at Angoori Devi dharamshala. Two of the accused were on a bike, which grazed past the five Muslim men who were walking on the congested road outside the mosque. That led to a scuffle. The accused told us that these students from J&K were present at the spot, though they were not involved in the scuffle. After this, the two accused called four more men and this group of six, they claim, went in search of these Muslim men. At Masani Chowk, they saw these two Kashmiri students and assumed they were part of the same group and beat them up. Then they went ahead, saw the five Muslim men near Railway Road and beat them up. So these are two different incidents, involving the same accused,” Kamaldeep told The Sunday Express, adding that the accused are from neighbouring villages. “One of them is a BSc student in a local college. Two others, who are in their twenties, are self-employed,” he said.

The students, however, claimed that police were “distorting the facts” and that the two incidents are not connected.

“I don’t know who these men were. When we were standing near the chowk, they first snatched my helmet and started assaulting us. We had not seen these men near the dharamshala, as police have been claiming. If we had witnessed a scuffle there, we would have definitely noticed these men. We have no clue about the assault on the five other Muslim men. We have no connection with that incident. Both are separate incidents,” Aftab Ahmad, one of the two Kashmiri students, told the SP and District Magistrate who visited the university on Saturday.

The labourers also said they had not seen any Kashmiri students when the scuffle took place outside the mosque and later when they were assaulted. “These students were not present when they told us to remove our skull cap or when we where assaulted later. These are two separate incidents,” Sadik said.

Mahendragarh Deputy Commissioner Garima Mittal assured the students that a “thorough investigation” would be conducted. “These are only the findings of the prima facie investigation. The students should have full faith in the administration. During the course of investigation, there will be new revelations. Also, we will record additional statements. We ensure that justice will be done to the students and a thorough investigation will be conducted,” she said.

On the injuries sustained by the students, Chief Medical Officer Dr IndrajeetDhankar, said, “The injuries look simple in nature. However, there is one injury near the ear (Aftab’s), which needs further investigations. An ENT specialist will investigate and submit the final report.”

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/attack-on-jk-students-in-haryana-accused-assaulted-5-other-men-leaving-same-mosque-says-police-5050652/

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Mideast

Turkish Forces Experience Bloodiest Day during Operation Olive Branch in Northern Syria

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- A sum of 14 Turkish soldiers were killed or wounded on the 15th day of its Operation Olive Branch against Kurds in Northern Syrian, Turkish sources said on Sunday.

The sources said that the Kurdish units targeted a tank of the Turkish Army by an anti-tank TOW missile in Sheikh Khoroz region, killing five soldiers.

In the meantime, a monitoring position of the Turkish forces at Kilis province's border with Syria was targeted by the Kurdish fighters' anti-tank missile, leaving two soldiers dead and five more injured, the sources said adding that two of the injured are in critical conditions.

Also, the Turkish media reported that an army men was killed and another one was injured on the 15th day of Operation Olive Branch in Afrin on Sunday.

The Syrian government on Friday slammed the recent Turkish incursion into Afrin as a flagrant assault on the sovereignty of Syria.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry sent letters to the UN Security Council that called Turkey’s self-defense claim in Afrin merely lies.

The Ministry added that Syria rejects all attempts by the Turkish regime to rely on UNSC resolutions no. 1373, 1624, 1170 and 1178 as no resolutions give member states the right to harm the sovereignty of other states and launch military operations on their territories under the pretext of counter-terrorism.

“The Syrian Arab Republic stresses that the presence of any foreign military operations on its territories without its overt approval is an assault and occupation, which will be dealt with on that basis,” it continued to say, adding that the Turkish military operation on Syria constitutes a violation of the UN Charter.

“Syria urges the UNSC not to allow to any state to use force in a way that contradicts with the international law or to depend on the charter to justify its aggressive atrocities as it also urges the Council not to make the Charter a method by the hands of such states to explain it in accordance to their narrow interests that contradict with the context and core of the Charter,” the letter concluded.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961115000481

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Maryland University Poll Shows Iranian People's Strong Support for Establishment

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- A new poll, conducted by the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland University (CISSM) and IranPoll, in the aftermath of the recent protests and riots in Iran found the population's strong support for the country's political system and its regional and missile policies.

Based on the poll, conducted between Jan. 16 and 24, most Iranians strongly disagree with the idea of changing the country's political system, while a good majority of the population also back up Iran's regional and missiles policies.

The results of the poll, also cited by Washington Post, showed that just 4.9% of respondents strongly agreed that the political system in Iran needs fundamental change. The finding may somehow explain why the number of rioters was too small during the unrests in late December and early January, when a few thousand took out to the streets in roughly more than a dozen towns and cities to shout protest against the establishment.

Also, with regard to Iran's missile program that has come under the spotlight ever since Tehran and the six world powers struck a deal over the former's nuclear capability, the findings of the CISSM poll are very telling. Only 8.8% of participants strongly believed that Iran should spend less money on its missile program.

Meantime, the poll showed that merely 11.3% of respondents strongly agree that the government interferes too much in their personal lives and just 17.2% strongly agree that involvement in Iraq and Syria is not in the country's national interest.

Also, only 21.5% of those who have taken part in the polling believed that the government should spend less in places like Syria and Iraq.

Meantime, only 21.7% of Iranians strongly agree that the government should not strictly enforce Islamic law, according to the findings of the poll.

Also, 69 percent of Iranians were found to describe the economy in bad shape, the highest measured by IranPoll since it began asking in 2015. This is while 41 percent said the economic condition of their family had worsened over the previous four years.

When asked for their opinion on the US government, 85 percent of Iranians were found to have a very unfavorable opinion of it; less than 1 percent had a very favorable opinion.

Also, the results of the poll showed that 85.2% of respondents believed that the government should do more to fight corruption. 81.3% also wanted the government to do more to limit food prices.

Meantime, 69.2% of subjects strongly agreed that the government shouldn’t cut cash subsidies and 73.2% believed that the government should not increase gasoline prices.

According to the findings of the same poll, 46% of respondents believed that the government should compensate for failed financial institutions. While 44.5% said that the government is not doing enough to help farmers. Some 43% agreed that the government is not doing enough to help the poor.

Another part of the poll indicates that 63% of Iranian people believe that the government should be more forceful to stop rioters while just 9% think that US President Donald Trump's support for rioters benefited them.

Though US President Donald Trump was among a number of US officials who voiced their support for Iranians during the protests — Trump tweeted five times in three days about the protests at the end of December, offering support for the protesters and criticizing the government — the poll found 48 percent of Iranians felt comments by the American leader and other US officials had no effect.

In general, the poll suggested a broad distrust for the United States among the Iranian public. Though most Iranians still supported the nuclear deal reached with the United States and other countries under the Obama administration, 86 percent had doubts the United States would live up to its obligations under the deal while 42 percent said the United States had violated letter of the agreement.

IranPoll is an independent private full-service public opinion research and consultancy company with global office in Toronto and partner offices in 9 Iranian cities, focusing exclusively on Iran.

The IranPoll series has become one of the best snapshots of public opinion in Iran over recent years, with its polling predictions for the May 2017 presidential elections accurate within less than 2 percentage points.

The CISSM has also been conducting different polls in Iran in cooperation with the University of Tehran and IranPoll for more than two years now.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961114001682

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Judiciary Spokesman: Iranian-American Namazi Not Freed

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran's Judiciary Spokesman Gholam Hossein MohseniEje'i dismissed claims that BaqerNamazi, an Iranian-American, who was sentenced to 10 years of jail for spying and cooperating with the US government against Tehran has been released.

"He has not been released and he has (temporarily) been granted a leave like other inmates," MohseniEje'i told reporters in his weekly press conference in Tehran on Sunday.

He explained that the Judiciary had first agreed with a 3-day leave for BaqerNamazi due to his disease but extended it after his lawyer asked for another 3-day leave to continue his treatment.

"He has gone on a leave for overall 6 days but he has not been released," MohseniEje'i said.

He added that Namazi's ultimate release is no point of discussion.

Iran’s penal authorities granted a four-day leave on Sunday to Namazi because of his health conditions, Namazi’s American lawyer said.

The announcement by the lawyer, Jared Genser, raised speculation that the reprieve was a precursor to parole for Namazi, 81, but MohseniEje'i dismissed it.

Namazi’s son SiamakNamazi, 45, also a dual citizen, remains imprisoned too for spying and collaboration with the US government against Iran.

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Turkey warns US troops over Syria clash risk

04th February 2018

ISTANBUL: Turkey on Sunday threatened to expand its operation against Kurdish militia in Syria to the town of the Manbij and even east of the Euphrates, warning that American soldiers risked being targeted in the area if they wore enemy uniform.

Turkey on January 20 launched the "Olive Branch" operation in the northern Syrian region of Afrin, fighting Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia which Ankara sees as a terror group.

With the YPG a key ally of Washington in the battle against jihadists, the campaign has seen a fellow NATO partner of the United States fighting an openly US-backed and US-armed force.

Beyond the northwestern enclave of Afrin, the YPG also controls the key strategic town of Manbij to the east and then a long strip of territory east of the Euphrates up to the Iraqi border.

"If they (the YPG) do not withdraw from Manbij, then we will go to Manbij, we will go east of the Euphrates," Deputy Prime Minister BekirBozdag told CNN-Turk.

American troops have no presence in and around Afrin but they are present in Manbij and east of the Euphrates, where they have assisted the YPG in the fight against IS.

Bozdag emphasised that Turkey wanted no confrontation with American troops but said US soldiers risked being caught up in clashes if they appeared in uniforms of the YPG.

This appeared to be a reference to past images of American troops in northern Syria showing them with YPG insignia.

"We do not at all want any clash with the US in Manbij, east of the Euphrates or in any other place," said Bozdag.

"But the US has to be aware of Turkey's sensitivities. If US soldiers wear terrorist uniforms or are among the terrorists in the event of an attack against the army then there is not going to be the chance to make a distinction," he said.  

"If they come up against us in such a uniform we will see them as... terrorists."

There have been heavy clashes with the YPG in the Afrin campaign so far and Bozdag was speaking after seven Turkish troops were killed on Saturday, including five in a tank attack, the heaviest single day loss of the campaign so far.

Pro-government Turkish media said the tank attack was carried out with an anti-tank missile given to the YPG by the US, but this has yet to be confirmed.

"The supposed ally the United States knows no limit in treachery," said the YeniAkit daily.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/world/2018/feb/04/turkey-warns-us-troops-over-syria-clash-risk-1768254.html

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Israel 'legalising' rogue settlement in response to rabbi murder: Netanyahu

AFPFebruary 04, 2018

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said ministers would grant formal authorisation on Sunday to a rogue West Bank settlement in response to the murder last month of a rabbi who lived there.

“The government will today regularise the status of Havat Gilad to allow the continuance of normal life there,” he said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, referring to the wildcat settlement in the occupied West Bank.

The official cabinet agenda says ministers will hear a motion to designate the 15-year-old outpost as a “new community” which will have the necessary building permits and a state budget.

Some 50 families live in the outpost.

Rabbi RazielShevah was shot dead near Havat Gilad, where he lived, on January 9.

The following week, Israeli troops searching for his attackers shot dead what they described as a Palestinian suspect in the city of Jenin in the northern West Bank, about 35 kilometres north of Havat Gilad.

They did not, however, catch the man considered to have led the attack on Shevah, 22-year-old Ahmed Jarrar.

The manhunt continued on Saturday with a raid on the village of Burqin. In clashes that erupted there, soldiers shot dead a teenager identified by the Palestinian health ministry as Ahmad Abu Obeid, 19.

At Shevah's funeral, there were calls for “revenge” during a speech by Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the far-right Jewish Home party.

Bennett responded by saying that the only revenge should be in building more settlements, and Netanyahu said on Sunday that was one of the planks of his policy.

“Anyone who thinks that through the abominable murder of a resident of Havat Gilad, a father of six, they would break our spirits... is making a bitter mistake,” he said.

Israeli settlements are seen as illegal under international law and major obstacles to peace as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.

But Israel differentiates between settlements it has approved and those it has not.

Those without approval are referred to as outposts and tend to be populated by hardline religious nationalists who see the entire West Bank as part of Israel.

www.dawn.com/news/1387262/israel-legalising-rogue-settlement-in-response-to-rabbi-murder-netanyahu

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Pakistan

Afghan president leaves open possibility of talks with some Taliban

Reuters | Feb 3, 2018

KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani left open on Saturday the possibility for talks with militants who accept peace but said the door was closed to those who cause tragedies like recent attacks in the capital, Kabul.

An attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul on January 20 and a suicide bombing on a crowded city street a week later have stoked public anger and stepped up pressure on Ghani's Western-backed government to improve security.

The attacks, which killed more than 130 people and were claimed by the Taliban, have also raised fresh doubt about long-running efforts to initiate talks with the insurgents.

The president's office said on Tuesday the militants had crossed a "red line" and peace would have to be won on the battle field.

But Ghani raised the possibility of reconciliation with some militants in a speech to Islamic clerics in Kabul.

"Those who are responsible for this tragedy and do not want peace, the door of peace is closed to them," Ghani said.

"Those who accept peace, they will witness that the nation will embrace them. But there is a clear difference, our commitment to bringing peace does not mean we will sit quietly and won't retaliate."

"We will dig them out from any hiding holes."

Afghanistan's government has made such vows for years but the insurgency appears ever more resilient. Peace efforts have been made in fits and starts but without progress.

US President Donald Trump appeared to dash any hope for peace efforts on Monday when he condemned the Taliban for the Kabul violence and rejected the idea of talks.

Trump last year ordered an increase in US troops, air strikes and other assistance to Afghan forces, to force the Taliban to negotiate.

But his comments on Monday suggested he saw a military victory over the Taliban, an outcome that US military and diplomatic officials said could not be achieved with the resources and manpower he had authorized.

US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said in Kabul on Tuesday the US strategy had not changed and the aim was still to press the Taliban militarily to convince them that they had to negotiate.

The Taliban are fighting to drive out foreign troops and re-establish their form of strict Islamic law.

Afghanistan has long accused neighbouring Pakistan of failing to act against Taliban plotting violence from safe havens on the Pakistani side of the border.

On Friday, Ghani accused Pakistan of being the "Taliban centre" and said he was waiting for Pakistani action.

Pakistan denies helping the Taliban and a Pakistani delegation led by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua visited Kabul on Saturday with the aim of fostering cooperation. Janjua called for both sides to stop the "blame game", Pakistani media reported.

The United States said last month it would cut security aid to Pakistan, complaining it was not doing enough to fight militants sheltering there.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/afghan-president-leaves-open-possibility-of-talks-with-some-taliban/articleshow/62770855.cms

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TTP bombing kills 11 troops in Swat Valley

Omer Farooq Khan | TNN | Feb 4, 2018

ISLAMABAD: At least 11 soldiers, including an army officer, were killed and 13 injured in a suicide blast near a Pakistan army camp in the country's northwestern Swat Valley on Saturday.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack in an email sent to journalists, warning that the group would carry out more such attacks. Inter-Services Public Relations, the army's media wing, said in a statement that a suicide bomber blew himself up at the sports area of an army unit in Kabal area of Swat.

Sources claimed that the attacker targetted soldiers in a ground where they were playing volleyball.

All injured were shifted to a nearby hospital.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/ttp-bombing-kills-11-troops-in-swat-valley/articleshow/62773891.cms

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UK property law spells trouble for Pakistani politicians

SajidIqbalUpdated February 04, 2018

LONDON: The UK government has introduced new rules giving unprecedented powers to law enforcement agencies to crack down on properties and assets amassed through “dirty money”.

Under the new rules, which are designed to stop corrupt people from using Britain as a safe haven, individuals can be fined and jailed if they make misleading statements.

The order that came into force recently allows authorities to freeze and recover property of more than 50,000 pounds if individuals cannot explain why they own assets worth more than their income and show they have acquired them legally.

It is seen as unprecedented as it — like Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau laws — shifts the burden of proof to the property holder instead of the state.

The new law can also be problematic for some Pakistani politicians as the enforcement authorities don’t need to show that they actually own the property as properties owned by their “associates” can also be subject to the new powers.

Another thing that goes against Pakistani politicians is lower threshold as “a UWO [Unexplained Wealth Order] made in relation to a non-EEA [European Economic Area] PEP [Politically Exposed Person] would not require suspicion of serious criminality”.

List of potential cases, drawn up by Transparency International, includes four Avenfield House flats

Although the British media is looking at the Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO), which came into force on Feb 1, as a weapon to fight corruption by Russian oligarchs having assets in the UK, the new law can have serious implications for Pakistani personalities having properties and assets here.

London-based anti-corruption group Transparency International (TI) says it has identified properties worth 4.4 billion pounds in Britain that should be considered as possible candidates for the new legislation.

It has already prepared a list of five cases which it thinks could be investigated without any delay, including Avenfield House flats case involving former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Describing Mr Sharif as the suspected owner of the four Avenfield House flats (16, 16A, 17 and 17A) worth at least eight million pounds, TI noted that the Land Registry documents showed that the four properties were owned by two companies registered in the BVI: Nescoll Limited and Nielsen Limited.

“According to information published as part of Panama Papers, these companies were controlled by the former prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif. In 2017, Pakistani authorities initiated an investigation into these assets, which found that they were purchased without a mortgage between 1993 and 1995, just after Sharif reported a growth in wealth without any plausible declared source of income. In July 2017, Sharif was removed from the office after the investigation found that he had failed to disclose these properties on his official asset declaration,” added TI.

The other cases listed by TI include property called Kenwood Gate, Hamstead Lane, London, that is worth 18m pounds and is allegedly owned by the first family of Azerbaijan; and two flats (138A and 138B), 4 Whitehall Court, London, with approximate value of 11.44m pounds and allegedly owned by Igor Shuvalov, the Russian first deputy prime minister.

It should be mentioned here that Mr Sharif is not the only politician to have links to properties in the UK as media reports and court cases have mentioned many other Pakistani politicians with links to controversial properties and assets and those can be targeted by the new powers given to the British authorities.

The Times published a news item in its Saturday edition linking an Indian underworld don to a portfolio of properties in London and its suburbs.

“Documents seen by this newspaper and compiled by the Indian authorities allege that on [Dawood] Ibrahim’s behalf his right hand man, Muhammed Iqbal ‘Mirchi’ Memon, also accrued a vast property portfolio across the Midlands and southeast in the UK as well as India, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Morocco, Turkey, Cyprus and Australia,” a report published in the daily said.

The newspaper quoted Misha Glenny, who wrote the McMafia book, as saying that Britain features in his [Ibrahim’s] criminal world as a place where he can launder money.

“He is thought to have property interests in a variety of southern English counties like Essex and Kent. But we can’t know for certain because the government has been dragging its heels in legislating to force transparency of the beneficial owners of companies registered in our overseas territories,” she said.

Ibrahim, who has an Interpol red notice, was added to the UK Treasury sanctions list and would be a likely target for an unexplained wealth order in relation to the properties, which include hotels, mansions, tower blocks and houses in suburbs in the southeast.

“The Times matched details from the Indian dossier to records held by Companies House and the Land Registry, as well as the Panama Papers to form a snapshot of the alleged property portfolio,” the report added.

David Green, the outgoing head of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), one of the government bodies supposed to be using the new powers, called the UWO as an “extremely useful tool”.

Rachel Davies Teka, head of advocacy, Transparency International UK, said the introduction of UWOs would help combat the fight against “dirty money” flowing into Britain.

What is UWO?

According to a circular issued by the Office of Security and Counter-Terrorism, a UWO requires a person who is reasonably suspected of involvement in, or of being connected to a person involved in, serious crime to explain the nature and extent of their interest in a particular property, and to explain how the property was obtained, where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the respondent’s known lawfully obtained income would be insufficient to allow the respondent to obtain the property.

“A UWO can also be applied to politicians or officials from outside the European Economic Area [EEA], or those associated with them i.e. Politically Exposed Persons [PEPs],” says the circular, adding that “a UWO made in relation to a non-EEA PEP would not require suspicion of serious criminality”.

The ability to apply for a UWO is limited to those agencies defined as an “enforcement authority”, namely, the National Crime Agency (NCA), Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

According to the circular, a failure to provide a response to a UWO may give rise to a presumption that the property is recoverable under any subsequent civil recovery action. A person commits an offence if, in purported compliance with a requirement under a UWO, they make a statement that the person knows to be false or misleading in a material way, or recklessly makes a statement that is false or misleading in a material way.

The Unexplained Wealth Order is not seen as part of any kneejerk reaction contemplated by the current government of Theresa May as the relevant government departments were working on it for over two years.

London has long been seen as a favoured destination for corrupt cash and successive governments had been promising action against the use of “dirty money” in the UK property market.

Former British prime minister David Cameron vowed to expose the use of “anonymous shell companies” to buy luxury UK properties, often in London.

“Foreigners must not be able to buy UK homes with ‘plundered or laundered cash’ as part of a global effort to defeat corruption,” he said during a visit to Singapore in 2015.

The PM’s message was: “London is not a place to stash your dodgy cash.”

www.dawn.com/news/1387198/uk-property-law-spells-trouble-for-pakistani-politicians

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Islamic Revolution reflects people’s aspirations: Pakistan ex-envoy

 

Islamabad, Feb 4, IRNA - Former ambassador of Pakistan to Iran says that Islamic Revolution was a response of Iranian people to the authoritarian regime of Shah and the reason behind its success is that it reflects people’s aspirations.

In an interview with the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Javid Husain said the 1979 Islamic Revolution played a very important role in the history of Iran and history of the Islamic World.

He noted that before theIslamic Revolution, inequality of wealth existed in the Iranian society and there was a wide difference between have and have nots.

The diplomat went on to say that over westernization of the Iranian society was also another reason for the Islamic Revolution.

The analyst was of the view that policies pursued by the authoritarian regime of Pahlavi in Iran had forced the people to start a revolt.

“The Islamic Revolution reflected the aspirations of brotherly people of Iran for a better life and more Islamic way of life in their country,” said Husain.

He added that the real spirit of the Islamic Revolution was wishes and aspirations of the people of Iran and that is why it is continuing and has been successful.

The former ambassador also said Iran and Pakistan have very close historical, cultural and political relationship and in coming years these ties would further deepen in different fields from strategic point of view to political point of view.

The analyst said there have some times when there were some misunderstandings in the bilateral ties ‘but I think now there is a better understanding on both sides which is in the interest of the two countries.’

“This would give greater strength to the bilateral cooperation in security, economic and commercial fields,” he noted.

Husain said that recent exchange of high level delegations between Iran and Pakistan would further strengthen the process of improving and giving greater strength to Iran-Pakistan relations.

http://www.irna.ir/en/News/82819470

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16 Pakistanis died in migrant boat tragedy off Libya: Foreign Office

Naveed SiddiquiUpdated February 03, 2018

At least 16 Pakistanis drowned off the coast of Libya early on Friday after a smuggler’s boat they were riding capsized, the Foreign Office (FO) confirmed on Saturday.

According to a document acquired by DawnNews, the bodies of eight Pakistani migrants had been recovered and identified. The identification documents of four deceased Pakistanis were not found, but they were identified by a survivor.

The bodies of four migrants hailing from Gujrat have not been recovered as yet, however, they have been identified through their IDs.

Most of the deceased migrants hail from Punjab's districts, including MandiBahauddin, Sargodha, Gujrat and Rawalpindi.

According to the FO, the Pakistani embassy in Libya is working round the clock to ensure recovery of all Pakistani nationals' bodies.

Four members of the same family and a five-year-old child are among those who perished in the incident, FO spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal said.

The FO spokesman while talking to DawnNews advised Pakistanis against adopting this "extremely dangerous" method to reach Europe illegally via sea.

An estimated 90 migrants were feared to have drowned when the latest migrant tragedy occurred in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Zuwara, leaving three known survivors.

The FO had said on Friday evening that up to 11 Pakistanis were among the people who drowned.

Security officials in the western Libyan town of Zuwara said two Libyans and one Pakistani had been rescued from the boat.

Zuwara, located near Libya’s border with Tunisia, was a favoured site for migrant boat departures over the past two years but of late has seen only occasional departures.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) pointed out that Pakistanis made up the 13th largest group trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe last year, with 3,138 of them arriving in Italy in 2017, and no recorded sea deaths.

But they have already climbed to third place this year, with an estimated 240 Pakistanis reaching Italy in January, compared to just nine during the same month last year.

www.dawn.com/news/1387070/16-pakistanis-died-in-migrant-boat-tragedy-off-libya-foreign-office

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FIA arrests 4 suspected human traffickers behind migrant boat tragedy in Libya

Iqbal MirzaFebruary 04, 2018

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Sunday arrested four alleged human traffickers linked with the migrant boat tragedy off the coast of Libya.

Earlier this week, at least 16 Pakistanis drowned off the coast of Libya after a smuggler’s boat they were riding capsized. They were among 90 people feared to have drowned in the latest migrant tragedy occurring in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Zuwara.

Most of the deceased Pakistani migrants hail from Punjab's districts, including MandiBahauddin, Sargodha, Gujrat and Rawalpindi.

The four suspects were arrested on Sunday after the FIA conducted raids in in Gujranwala, Gujrat and MandiBahauddin, the agency's deputy director said.

The raids were conducted as part of a crackdown against those involved in human trafficking, he said.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has pointed out that Pakistanis made up the 13th largest group trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe last year, with 3,138 of them arriving in Italy in 2017, and no recorded sea deaths.

But they have already climbed to third place this year, with an estimated 240 Pakistanis reaching Italy in January, compared to just nine during the same month last year.

www.dawn.com/news/1387251/fia-arrests-4-suspected-human-traffickers-behind-migrant-boat-tragedy-in-libya

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Jirga supports fencing of Pak-Afghan border

SaleemShahidUpdated February 04, 2018

QUETTA: Elders of different tribes have pledged support to the government over fencing of the border with Afghanistan for better border management and security.

A jirga was held in Chaman town at Pakistan-Afghan border on Saturday which was largely attended by the elders of different tribes and senior officials of the Frontier Corps (FC) and local administration.

The jirga discussed the situation at the border and took decisions regarding its security. A senior FC officer took into confidence the tribal elders on the government’s plan of fencing the border.

Official sources said that jirga members termed it a wise decision for the security of border areas and towns located along the border.

The work on fencing will begin within this month so as to improve management, enhance security and stop illegal crossing from across both sides of the border.

Besides tribal elders, former provincial minister Naseer Khan Bacha speaking on the occasion said that the Pakhtun tribes living in the border districts would extend all help and cooperation to the authorities concerned in fencing the border.

www.dawn.com/news/1387212/jirga-supports-fencing-of-pak-afghan-border

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Pakistan sees spike in reporting of rape cases post Zainab incident

PTI | Feb 3, 2018

KARACHI: The brutal rape and murder of seven-year-old Zainab in Pakistan's Punjab province has acted as a catalyst for change as the country has seen a spike in the reporting of molestation cases involving teenagers after the high profile incident sparked national outrage.

Zainab had gone missing while going for tuition near her house in Kasur city, some 50 kilometres from Lahore, on January 5.

Her body was found in a garbage heap on January 9.

There has been a noticeable increase in reporting of such cases from all over Pakistan and prompt police action after the horrific incident which shook the country.

The media have also started highlighting and reporting such incidents with a more serious approach.

A teenager was arrested today for raping and killing his own seven-year-old brother whose body was found three days back from the bushes at a national coaching centre in Karachi, police said.

Earlier, a man was arrested in Quetta for trying to rape and kill his younger sister at their home where she was alone.

In another case, police have arrested a man from the impoverished Manzoor Colony area of Karachi for allegedly raping his 11-year-old stepdaughter.

FreihaAltaf and Maheem Khan, women belonging to entertainment and fashion industry, have gone public with their childhood experiences of being sexually molested.

Rights and children activist Farheen Haroon who works for a foundation that fights child abuse said it was good that the country had "woken up" to "this major problem".

She said there was a need to revise laws to hand out quick and serious punishments to stop such incidents.

Human Rights activist and lawyer Sarham Burney said because of social taboos and shame many such cases of child abuse were not reported in lower income and elite classes.

"But I see this horrific tragedy that occurred with this innocent girl Zainab being a catalyst for change in our society as far reporting of child abuse and molestation is concerned," he said.

Zia Awan another lawyer and activist who fights for deprived and oppressed women said there was a need to educate and change the mindset of the police while dealing with these cases.

"The police don't tend to take these incidents like they should and because they are already understaffed and overworked there is normally inaction on such cases," Awan said.

Violent protests gripped the Kasur city following Zainab's rape and murder that claimed two lives. The Zainab incident also stirred a national outcry demanding justice for her.

Last year, 4,139 incidents of child abuse took place in the Punjab province where 43 per cent of them were acquainted with perpetrators.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-sees-spike-in-reporting-of-rape-cases-post-zainab-incident/articleshow/62770423.cms

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Pakistan, Afghanistan agree to continue talks on joint action plan

Dawn.com | Naveed SiddiquiUpdated February 03, 2018

Top-level civilian and military officials from Islamabad and Kabul on Saturday agreed to some points of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) and decided to continue discussions to reach an agreement on the entire blueprint for bilateral engagement.

"The meeting was held in a cordial environment and both delegations made some progress on the APAPPS," a joint statement issued after the inaugural meeting of the working groups established under the action plan said.

The meeting comes in the backdrop of a series of deadly attacks that rattled Kabul, after which a high-level delegation from Afghanistan comprising the interior minister and spy chief had visited Islamabad this week with a 'personal message' from President Ashraf Ghani. The delegation held talks with Pakistani leadership on security cooperation amid the highly volatile security situation in their country.

However, the joint working group delegation's first trip had reportedly been scheduled long before recent developments in Pak-Afghan ties.

Foreign Secretary TehminaJanjua led the Pakistani delegation at the talks while Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai was leading the Afghan side. The APAPPS is a joint action plan for cooperation in the areas of counter-terrorism and reduction of violence, peace and reconciliation, refugees repatriation and joint economic development.

During Saturday's meeting, Pakistan offered a joint investigation into the terrorist attacks in Kabul and urged the Afghan government to take action against anti-Pakistan terrorists stationed in Afghanistan.

@DrMFaisal

Pakistan has offered joint investigation into the terrorist attacks

12:20 PM - Feb 3, 2018

 11 11 Replies   23 23 Retweets   68 68 likes

The foreign secretary during the meeting reiterated that instead of blame game both sides should engage in concrete cooperation. Pakistan also emphasised the need for strengthening border management on the Afghan side.

"There are still important areas to be discussed and agreed upon, and both sides remain committed to continue discussions to reach an agreement on the APAPPS," the press release said.

@DrMFaisal

Pakistan emphasised the need for strengthening border management on the Afghan side #pakforpeace #fsinkabul

1:34 PM - Feb 3, 2018

 1 1 Reply   24 24 Retweets   44 44 likes

The next meeting of the delegations will take place on February 9 and 10 in Islamabad.

There has been little change in Kabul’s acrimonious tone towards Pakistan despite its Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak and National Directorate of Security (NDS) chief MasoomStanekzai’s visit to Islamabad during which both sides agreed to cooperate in the investigation of the latest attacks in Kabul, a couple of which were claimed by the Taliban. About 140 people were killed in the three attacks.

In a televised speech on Friday, President Ghani said: “Pakistan is the headquarters of the Taliban. The time has come for them now to take action.”

The Foreign Office, however, rejected the allegations, saying Pakistan has been taking action against all terrorist groups in its territory.

www.dawn.com/news/1387075/pakistan-afghanistan-agree-to-continue-talks-on-joint-action-plan

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Seeking justice for Naqeebullah on the streets of Islamabad

Malik AsadUpdated February 04, 2018

ADNAN, a young student who belongs to the Mehsud tribe, appears optimistic that the ongoing sit-in in Islamabad will not only help them get justice for NaqeebullahMeh­sud, who was killed in a ‘staged police encounter’ in Karachi on Jan 13, but it will also bring an end to the miseries of his tribe.

The 21-year-old is in his final year of master’s at the degree college in Dera Ismail Khan and is among the 22 young men from the tribe, joined by Naqeeb’s cousin Noor Rehman, who began their march from D.I. Khan on Jan 26 and arrived in Islamabad on Jan 31. The young men delivered speeches at several villages on the way. “We demanded justice for Naqeeb as well as for those living in Waziristan Agency.”

They were joined by other protesters in front of the National Press Club in Islamabad.

Naqeebullah was among the four suspects killed in an ‘encounter’ with a police team headed by SSP Rao Anwar in Usman Khaskheli Goth, on the outskirts of Karachi. A joint investigation team (JIT) termed it an “extrajudicial killing”.

Following the incident, SSP Anwar, who had claimed that Naqeebullah had been killed in a genuine shootout with police, has gone into hiding after mysteriously disappearing from the Islamabad International Airport, where he had made a failed attempt to flee the country.

The sit-in formally began on Feb 1. At the very outset, some youths in the rally shouted provocative slogans. Perhaps this is the reason why the protesters faced a complete media blackout. Most of the people attending the sit-in subscribed to this point of view. The tribal youths also discussed the option of staging a sit-in in front of army’s General Headquarters in Rawalpindi if their demands were not met.

They have demanded that SSP Anwar and his team be hanged for killing Naqeebullah and his friends in a ‘fake encounter’; the constitution of a judicial commission supervised by the chief justice, to look into the extra-judicial killings of Pakhtuns; and the recovery of all missing persons. They have also demanded that all improvised explosive devices be removed from the tribal areas.

Adnan said the demands were very reasonable. His association — the MehsudTehreek Movement (MTM), which comprises mostly the tribal youths — is determined to do whatever is necessary to press for the demands, including holding protests in front of the Supreme Court, residences of judges and outside the GHQ.

However, as the sit-in enters its third day it appears that several quarters have not only intervened for damage control but are also gaining control over the administration of the venue.

For example, Ajmal Khan Wazir, a senior vice president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), a political party known for proximity to the establishment, has brought over 200 tribal people and others to the venue.

He denied that the tribal youths were against the armed forces but conceded that some emotional young men had delivered fiery speeches. He insisted that they did not represent the protesters.

Clarifying the ‘incendiary’ slogans, he said the youth were chanting slogans against police uniform and not army uniform. “I am also monitoring so that nobody can take the stage as an opportunity to repeat such rhetoric,” he said, stressing that if anyone uttered such irresponsible words again, he would not stay there a minute longer.

Interestingly, his volunteers included Zabeehullah, chief coordinator of the Reham Khan Foundation, who had brought around 100 people with him from Gilgit-Baltistan to participate in the sit-in. He said the sit-in was not a political gathering but a protest to seek justice for Naqeeb. Though Zabeeh does not belong to a tribal area, he supports all the demands.

Answering questions about source of funds for food and other utilities for participants of the sit-in, the cleric said that they had collected donations from Mehsud businessmen across the country. According to him, the businessmen from Tank had donated Rs2 million on the first day of the sit-in, while businessmen from Karachi were donating handsome sums as well.

The spy agencies have been monitoring the activity on the stage as well as on the ground. The easily recognisable officials of various spy agencies could be seen taking notes of the speeches of tribal elders near the venue.

Maulana Abdul Rashid Mehsud, a cleric from South Waziristan and a politician of the JUI-F, said the decision to hold a sit-in was taken at a meeting of the “DarayMehsud”. It should be mentioned that almost all Mehsud tribesmen hail from three tribes known as DarayMehsud.

The majority of protesters comprise members of three major clans — Balolzai, Manzai and Shaman Khel. However people from the Barki clan, as well as other tribes living in South Waziristan, were also present at the protest.

“In the meeting, the Mehsud tribes unanimously resolved that until or unless Rao Anwar was arrested, they would continue the sit-in,” he said.

www.dawn.com/news/1387205/

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South Asia

No peace with the perpetrators of recent Kabul attacks: Ghani

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Feb 04 2018

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani says the government will not hold talks with those involved behind the recent deadly bombing that left more than 100 people dead near the Jamhoriat hospital.

Speaking in a meeting of the Afghan high peace council, President Ghani said the attack was a clear declaration of war against the Afghan nation, insisting that those who claim responsibility for the attack are no more belonging to the Afghan society.

The Taliban group claimed responsibility behind the attack that left more than 100 dead and over 200 others wounded.

In the meantime, President Ghani insisted that the government and nation should succeed both in peace efforts and in the war against terrorists.

He said the time has come for the Taliban group and their supporters for a decision to choose from the two alternatives.

In regards to the peace efforts, President Ghani said a clear roadmap should be prepared for the peace process along with a clear perspective.

However, he said tendency towards peace process does not mean that the government will sit silent.

He said that there should be a distinction between those willing to participate in peace talks and those refraining from doing so, insisting that the doors will be closed who are not prepared for the reconciliation process.

President Ghani warned that those supporting violence and continued insurgency will be eliminated and the nation will take revenge of the atrocities.

www.khaama.com/no-peace-with-the-perpetrators-of-recent-kabul-attacks-ghani-04415

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‘Dhaka to be recognized as Islamic Tourism City’

February 04, 2018

Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Shahjahan Kamal addresses a press conference at his secretaries conference room on Sunday; February 4, 2018 Focus Bangla

The aim of this year's Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers (ICTM) is to showcase Bangladesh’s Islamic cultural heritage to the Muslim countries across the globe.

Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister AKM Shahjahan Kamal on Sunday said Dhaka will be recognized as an “Islamic Tourism City” in the upcoming Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers (ICTM).

ICTM is a registered entity of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The aim of this year’s ICTM is to showcase Bangladesh’s Islamic cultural heritage to the Muslim countries across the globe.

“The three-day Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers will begin at Hotel Pan Pacific Sonargaon in Dhaka on Monday [February 5]. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will formally inaugurate the conference on Tuesday [February 6],” Shahjahan Kamal said at a press conference held at the secretariat on Sunday.

OIC Secretary General Dr Yousef bin Ahmed al-Othaimeen, and 85 others representatives from 57 countries, including 15 ministers will attend the conference.

http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/dhaka/2018/02/04/dhaka-to-be-recognized-an-islamic-tourism-city/

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Abdullah promises ‘no mercy’ against the terrorists

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Feb 04 2018

The Chief Executive of the Unity Government Abdullah Abdullah promises no mercy on terrorists after a series of deadly attacks in Kabul and other provinces left scores dead.

Speaking during a ceremony for the introduction of the new governor of Parwan, Abdullah said the terror groups and terrorists will not have a future in Afghanistan.

Abdullah further added that the Afghan nation should maintain their unity, insisting that the unity among the people will be a major blow in the face of the terrorists.

According to Abdullah, a number of the terrorists have been arrested in connection to the recent attacks as he expressed confidence that the investigations will reveal the further involvement of the others in the attacks.

In regards to the visit of the Pakistani delegation to Kabul, the Chief Executive said the Pakistani officials have promised to assist with the investigation process into the recent attacks in Kabul.

This comes scores of people lost their lives and hundreds more were wounded in a series of attacks in Kabul and other provinces of the country during the recent weeks.

The Taliban group has claimed responsibility for the majority of the attacks including the attack near old compound of the ministry of interior which left more than 100 dead and over 200 others wounded.

www.khaama.com/abdullah-promises-no-mercy-against-the-terrorists-04417

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Heroin lab destroyed, 1 terrorist killed in Helmand operations

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Feb 04 2018

A heroin lab was destroyed and an insurgent was killed during the latest operations of the Afghan security forces to counter the growing drugs production in the country.

The Ministry of Defense said the Afghan national defense and security forces conducted an operation in the vicinity of Nad-e-Ali district to suppress the activities of the anti-government armed militant groups.

According to the defense ministry, a heroin lab was destroyed and an insurgent was killed during the operation.

The anti-government armed militant groups including the Taliban insurgents have not commented regarding the report so far.

This comes as at least three heroin labs were destroyed during a similar operation conducted in Kajaki district nearly two months ago.

According to the local officials, the operations in Kajaki were conducted with the help of the close-air support and as a result three insurgents were killed and two others were wounded.

The operations against the drug and heroin labs have been ongoing in the restive provinces as efforts are underway to cut the financial resources of the militant groups.

The commander of the US forces for Afghanistan Gen. Nicholson had earlier vowed a relentless fight to curb the financial resources of the militant groups which are mainly gained through illicit production and smuggle of drugs and opium in the restive provinces.

www.khaama.com/heroin-lab-destroyed-1-terrorist-killed-in-helmand-operations-04416

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Afghan, Pakistan officials meet in Kabul to talk differences

AP | Feb 3, 2018

Members of Afghan security forces stand guard at the site of a Saturday suicide attack claimed by the Taliban in Kabul.

Members of Afghan security forces stand guard at the site of a Saturday suicide attack claimed by the Taliban in Kabul.

KABUL: Pakistani and Afghan officials have met for a second round of talks about allegations levelled against Islamabad in the wake of recent deadly militant attacks in Kabul that have killed over 200 people.

A joint statement after the day-long meeting in the Afghan capital said the two sides promised to keep talking.

After the recent attacks, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's government has insisted Pakistan's failure to rout Taliban militants from safe havens on its soil is spurring the insurgency inside Afghanistan.

Kabul also accused Islamabad of harboring the Taliban, who are allegedly being trained in Islamic seminaries in southwestern Pakistan.

Pakistan denies the charges.

Islamabad says Saturday's meeting was part of a larger dialogue while the Afghans billed it as a response to their accusations against Islamabad.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/afghan-pakistan-officials-meet-in-kabul-to-talk-differences/articleshow/62771078.cms

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US drone strikes kill ISIS militants in Nangarhar province

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sat Feb 03 2018

At least three ISIS militants were killed in drone strikes in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, the local officials said Saturday.

The governor’s office in Nangarhar in a statement said the airstrikes were carried out by the unmanned aerial vehicles of the US forces in Haska Mina district.

The statement further added that some weapons, ammunition, and explosives of the terror group were also eliminated during the airstrikes.

The governor’s office also confirmed that nine ISIS militants were killed during the air and ground operations in Achin district.

The 209th Shaheen Corps had earlier said that the militants in TangiMamand and WachZhwara areas of Achin during the Hamza operations.

Nangarhar is among the relatively calm provinces in the East of the country but the anti-government armed militants including the Taliban and ISIS insurgents have been attempting during the recent years to expand their foothold in some remote districts of the province.

However, the Afghan forces are regularly conducting operations together with the US forces who are mainly carrying out airstrikes to root out the terrorists from this province.

www.khaama.com/us-drone-strikes-kill-isis-militants-in-nangarhar-province-04411

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Arab World

Militants in More Regions Endorse Peace Agreement with Syrian Army

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Russian Defense Ministry announced in its latest report on Saturday that militants in more regions have laid down weapons and ended fight against the Syrian Army.

The ministry said that representatives of militants in more regions endorsed the nationwide reconciliation plan and ended battle against the army, adding that the total number of villages, towns and regions that have thus far joined the peace agreement with the army stands at 2,344.

It added that peace talks are underway between Damascus and militants in Aleppo, Idlib, Damascus, Hama, Homs and Quneitra provinces.

Local officials reported last month that sum of 350 militants that had laid down arms and accepted the terms of the government for amnesty were pardoned in Southwestern Damascus.

The sources said that the army has granted amnesty to 350 gunmen that had handed over their weapons to the army men and joined peace in Beit Jinn region in Southwestern Damascus.

The sources added that they gunmen returned to normal life in the Northeastern province, adding that laying down arms and delivering them to the Syrian army is underway in the region.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961114001247

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Yemen Islamist party suspends membership of Nobel laureate Karman

 

DUBAI (Reuters) - Yemeni Nobel Prize winner Tawakkol Karman was suspended from an Islamist party allied with President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after she accused the Saudi-led coalition that backs him in the country’s civil war of acting as occupiers.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkol Karman of Yemen reacts during a news conference as part of the Nobel Women's Initiative to gather a first-hand account of the ongoing violence against women land defenders, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera

Karman won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for her role in Arab Spring protests that ousted authoritarian President Ali Abdullah. More recently she has ramped up public criticism of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, accusing them of backing a campaign to divide Yemen by supporting southern separatists against the internationally recognised government.

Speaking at the Warwick Economics Summit in London over the weekend, Karman said Saudi Arabia and the UAE were driven by a “reckless adventurism” when they intervened in Yemen in 2015 after Iran-aligned Houthi forces drove Hadi into exile.

In an earlier Twitter message, she wrote: “Saudi Arabia and UAE took advantage of the (Houthi) militia coup in Sanaa to launch a very ugly occupation and an uglier influence in Yemen.”

The Islah party, regarded as a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is viewed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE as a terrorist organisation, tried to distance itself from Karman and order her suspended from its ranks.

“Tawakkol Karman’s statements do not represent the Islah party and its policies, and are not in line with the party’s positions,” a statement posted on Islah’s website said.

“Therefore, the general secretary has decided to freeze her membership according to the party’s status.”

Karman, who left Yemen after Houthi militia seized the capital Sanaa in a series of military advances that began in late 2014, responded on her Twitter account by describing Islah leaders as “prisoners and slaves” of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

Tensions between Islah and southern separatists have been rising since Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, announced a boycott of Qatar in June last year over allegations that Doha backs Islamist militants. Qatar denies the charges.

Islah, eager to ease the worries of Gulf Arab states about its Islamist leanings, has sought to distance itself from the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood denies accusations from conservative Arab governments of involvement in terrorism, saying it seeks democracy by peaceful means only.

The southern separatists want to restore the independent state of South Yemen, which merged with North Yemen in 1990. They have fought the Houthis alongside Hadi’s forces, but rose up last week and seized control of the southern port of Aden after Hadi refused to sack his prime minister, whom the separatists accuse of mismanagement and corruption.

uk.reuters.com/article/uk-yemen-security-islamist/yemen-islamist-party-suspends-membership-of-nobel-laureate-karman-idUKKBN1FO0D9?rpc=401&

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Iraqi forces, Shia militia to launch operation to clear White Flag militants near Kirkuk

Sangar Ali Sangar Ali | 4 hours ago Share share

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi forces are in the early stages of a military campaign aimed at clearing out areas near TuzKhurmatu, south Kirkuk Province, from an insurgent group which emerged after Iraqi troops and Shia militias took control of Kirkuk late last year, according to an Iraqi military commander.

Following the military takeover of Kirkuk and Khurmatu by Iraqi forces and the Iranian-backed Shia militia Hashd al-Shaabi (PMF) on Oct. 16, a militant group emerged in the mountainous areas south of Khurmatu.

There’s little information about the group which is known to fly a White Flag with lion’s head prominently displayed. Local reports suggest it is comprised of Sunni fighters of various backgrounds fighting against Iraqi security forces, namely the Shia militias.

Deputy Commander of the Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Abdul Amir Yarallah, said in a statement on Sunday that commanders of a number of Iraqi military factions, including the PMF, met on Saturday to begin an offensive to clear the eastern side of Khurmatu and southeast Kirkuk.

To the eastern side of Khurmatulies a village, a remote mountain range, and vast desert areas. Many people are hesitant to report the presence of the White Flag militant group hiding in the rough terrain.

Most of the residents in the area are also ethnically Kurds.

The Kurds have been subjected to violations and human right abuses since the withdrawal of Peshmerga forces from Kirkuk and Khurmatu in October.

Over 170,000 people, mostly Kurds, fled from the disputed territory to other cities in the Kurdistan Region following the attack, fearing abuses and violations at the hands of the militia groups. Thousands of houses, shops, and properties in Khurmatu have been burnt or destroyed, and the security situation has considerably deteriorated.

Khurmatu is a multi-ethnic town, historically claimed by the Kurds living alongside Arabs and Turkmen. The disputed city is located between northern Salahadin province and southern Kirkuk Province.

The Iraqi Commander said the military campaign would restore stability to the area, vowing to make sure they “eliminate [the White Flag militants] if they are found.”

The military campaign has a five-prong strategy to clear the region from the White Flag group’s  supporters and fighters, according to Shia militia commanders.

Iraq’s military commanders did not reveal when the operation is to begin as they recently carried out a different campaign in the desert areas near the border of Saudi Arabia, targeting remnants of the Islamic State (IS).

Last month, Iraqi President FuadMasum in a news conference asserted the situation in Khurmatu was slowly returning to normal since elite forces were deployed.

http://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/dd717192-b7da-48f2-a742-210866c58a7f

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Southern Syria: FSA Arrests Sochi Peace Talks Participant

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Free Syrian Army (FSA) deployed in the Southern province of Dara'a has arrested one of the participants in the Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue in Russia's Sochi as a number of terrorist groups had banned participation in the event, dissident-affiliated websites reported on Sunday.

The websites reported that the FSA-affiliated Shahid Mohammad al-Shar'a Battalion deployed in the town of Da'el in Southern Dara'a arrested Khalid al-Shar'a that had participated in the Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue in Russia's Sochi.

Al-Shar'a was arrested while entering Dara'a from Da'el passageway.

The FSA-affiliated battalion announced in a statement that they sent al-Shar'a to jail, and summoned all those in terrorist-held regions in Dara'a that had taken part in Sochi talks.

Relevant reports said on Wednesday that he terrorist groups stationed in Eastern Ghouta of Damascus attacked the plane carrying the Syrian delegation upon its return from the Russian city of Sochi where they took part in the Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue.

The Arabic-language al-Hadath news reported on Wednesday that the terrorists launched several missiles at the Damascus international airport as soon as the plane carrying participants in Sochi conference landed in the Syrian capital.

The report said one of the missiles hit near the runway and only 50 meters away from one of the planes which had landed 10 minutes earlier.

No casualties were reported in the missile attack.    

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961115001173

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Al-Nusra Starts Evacuating Forces from Outskirts of Besieged Towns in Northern Syria

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) terrorist group has started pulling its forces back from the outskirts of the Shiite towns of Fua'a and Kafraya North-East of Idlib city amid the rapid advances of the Syrian Army in the region, field sources said on Saturday.

The sources reported that Al-Nusra has abandoned five positions in the Northern and Eastern directions of Fua'a and Kafraya as the army men are rapidly advancing towards the town of Saraqib in their push Northward to lift the siege on the towns.

Other sources said that terrorists have planted a large number of landmines around Saraqib and have dispatched more convoys of fighters to the region to slow down the army advances.

Relevant reports said last week that the army troops were preparing for the second phase of an operation in Idlib province to lift the terrorists' siege on the Shiite towns of Fua'a and Kafraya in Northeastern countryside of Idlib city.

The sources said that the army would soon launch the second phase of its large-scale operation West of the newly-freed Abu al-Dhohour airbase to put an end to the long-run siege imposed by terrorist groups on Fua'a and Kafraya North-East of Idlib province.

The sources further said that the army men deployed West of Abu al-Dhohour airbase are 40 km away from Fua'a and Kafraya now.

In the meantime, other units of the army are preparing to kick off another large-scale operation in Eastern Idlib to storm ISIL and Al-Nusra Front positions that have come under the siege of the army in a region as large as 1,100 sq-km among Hama, Idlib and Aleppo provinces.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961114001083

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Arab Analyst: US Likely to Use Chemical Weapons in False Flag against Syria

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Abdel Bari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of Rai al-Youm newspaper, warned that Washington's recent allegations that the government in Damascus has used chemical weapons are aimed at justifying its possible future strikes against the Syrian army positions.

"The golden rule which had existed since 7 years ago and the start of the crisis in Syria is that every time the US has felt that its plots in Syria have been foiled, it raised the issue of chemical weapons as a pretext to attack the Syrian army positions," Atwan wrote on Saturday.

He referred to the recent remarks by US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis who claimed that Washington is concerned about the potential use of sarin gas in Syria, a day after the US warned it was prepared to consider military action if necessary to deter, what it called, chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government, and said Mattis, meantime, has admitted that there is no evidence to corroborate that the Syrian government has used Sarin.

Atwan also pointed to other US officials' remarks who had claimed that the Syrian government and the ISIL use chemical weapons, and said, "Such comments are dangerous as they put the Syrian government and the ISIL on the same side and raise similar accusations against them and exonerate other (terrorist) groups (than the ISIL) from them."

Sarin is a colorless and tasteless toxin that can cause respiratory failure leading to death.

Accusing the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of using chemical weapons against civilians, the US launched several dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base last April after a sarin gas attack on Khan Shaykhun in Idlib Province claimed at least 80 lives.

"We are on the record and you all have seen how we reacted to that, so they would be ill-advised to go back to violating the chemical (weapons) convention," Mattis said recently.

This is while the Syrian government has fiercely denied using or even possessing chemical weapons since the country’s compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention was certified by international observers in 2013. 

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961114000878

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Civil Defense Chief: Amad News Telegram Channel Linked to Western Intel Services

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Head of Iran's Civil Defense Organization Brigadier General Gholam Reza Jalali warned that western-based Telegram channel SedaeiMardom (formerly known as Amad News) is conducting espionage operations against the country's security.

"Based on our information, the channel SedaeiMardom is affiliated to the intelligence service of a (western) country and its managers are agents of that intelligence service," General Jalali said on Saturday.

"We look at the channel as a spy; a paid webpage that receives money from foreign states and acts against the Iranian people and security," he said, adding that the US annually allocates large amounts of money to the opposition forces to act against the Islamic Republic.

General Jalali also referred to the negative role played by Telegram during the recent unrests and riots in Iran, and said, "We should seriously change our past attitude towards Telegram."  

SedaeiMardom released fake reports on continued protests in Tehran after the end of unrests and riots in Iran in January.

It also released videos teaching the youth how to build Molotov cocktail and use them against the security forces in Iran.

Iran protested at Telegram for allowing channels like Amad News' activity. Amad News was blocked by Telegram after releasing the violent videos but it restarted its work in less than a couple of hours under the new name of SedaeiMardom which continues releasing fake reports.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961114001303

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Terrorists Form New Joint Operation Room to Slow Down Syrian Army Advances in Idlib

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Dissident-affiliated websites reported on Sunday that terrorist groups in Idlib have set up yet another Joint Operation Room to counter the Syrian Army's rapid advances in Southeastern and Eastern Idlib.

The websites said that Ahrar al-Sham, Faylaq al-Sham, Jeish al-Ahrar, JeishIdlib al-Hor, Jeish al-Izzah, Jeish al-Nasr, Nouralddeen al-Zinki, Jeish al-Nokhba, al-Jeish al- Thani, Liwa al-Arbaeen and al-Ferqa al-OwlaMashah terrorist groups have set up a new Joint Operation Room known as Dahr al-Qazah.

Spokesman for Ahrar al-Sham Omar Khatab said that the main objective behind setting up the Operation Room is preventing the army from advancing in Idlib province.

The terrorist groups had previously set up the two operation rooms of Rad al-Toqyan and EnAllaha Ala Narahom al-Qadir in Idlib that both were dismantled after they failed to score any victory.

Abdullah Muhammad al-Muhaysini, the former Saudi commander and Mufti (religious leader) of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) admitted on Friday that the terrorist group suffered heavy defeats in battle with the Syrian Army in Idlib and Aleppo provinces.

Al-Muhaysini confirmed in his twitter account that the Syrian Army inflicted heavy defeats on Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at in Aleppo and Idlib provinces, admitting that the terrorist group was in very bad condition.

Al-Muhaysini said that Tahrir al-Sham's failures are rooted in differences and tensions among terrorist groups, mainly between Tahrir al-Sham and Ahrar al-Sham and the terrorists' lack of intention in battle against the army.

He further pointed to the failure of a plan to form a Joint Operation Room against the army, saying lack of such Operation Room is behind the collapse of the militants' front.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961115001103

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Heavy Infighting Erupts again among Ankara-backed Militants in Northern Syria

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- A fresh round of fierce clashed erupted among the Turkey-backed militants in the town of al-Bab in Northeastern Aleppo, leaving a number of gunmen dead or wounded, local sources reported on Sunday.

The sources said that two militant groups affiliated to the Turkey-led Euphrates Shield engaged in heavy fighting in al-Bab that left five dead and injured.

The sources further said that both warring side have put their forces on alert and have deployed their snipers at different buildings.

The Kurdish-language Hawar news quoted local sources in al-Bab as saying that the militants of Ferqat Sultan Morad, affiliated to the Turkish army, engaged in heavy infighting on Wednesday.

At least four militants were wounded during the clashes.

The sources added that the clashes erupted after a number of Sultan Morad militants defected the terrorist group and fled; members of the terrorist group also have differences on their dispatch to the Afrin fronts.

Meantime, field sources said that tensions have increased in al-Bab.

The development came as Turkey's Operation Olive Branch is pushing further into Syrian territories held by the Kurdish militants, as more civilians have been killed or wounded in clashes between the Turkish Army and the Kurdish militias in Afrin region in Northwestern Aleppo.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961115001025

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Africa

Secrets Around Presence of Israel's Military Industries in South Sudan

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Israel Military Industries Ltd. (IMI), an arms manufacturer company, signed what it called a “water infrastructure and technology development” deal with South Sudan’s government in 2012, but suspicions are rising about its true nature and operation.

he deal allegedly covers desalination, irrigation, water transport and purification, but a visit to Israel Military Industries Ltd. website indicates they are military contractors and arms manufacturers, not engineers and certainly not specialists in water infrastructure.

Other sources claim IMI will serve as a conduit for actual Israeli water firms – but in light of US, Israeli and Saudi joint operations elsewhere, IMI will most likely serve as a conduit for weapons, cash, and conflict as well (or instead).

During Sudan’s civil war, one of Africa’s longest conflicts in which some 2 million people died, Israel provided the southern rebels with arms, training and funding, as it has done in other parts of Africa seeking to weaken its Arab adversaries.

Clearly, the presence of Israeli arms dealers is not to develop South Sudan’s infrastructure but rather to flood the region with weapons to flush out the Chinese and eventually stab Northward toward Sudan and its capital of Khartoum.

The IMI's presence in South Sudan may be aimed at building a secret arms factory in the region to supply the rebels with weapons more easily and numerously.

There is no doubt that the US and its accomplice Israel have decided to stay in South Sudan. The US corporate foundation-funded “Enough Project” provided the rhetorical justification for an enduring presence in the war-torn African state in its Al Jazeera op-ed titled, “Al Jazeera America Op-ed: South Sudan’s SalvaKiir needs to put his black hat back on,” which stated:

To be sure, growing pains are common in societies working to secure their independence after years of marginalization and authoritarian rule. Building a cohesive national identity among South Sudan’s 81 ethnic groups will take generations. Still, the looming specters of mass intercommunal violence means we cannot afford to be complacent. The United States committed itself to the South Sudanese people’s long march toward independence decades ago. It would be a shame if America allowed a return to war when the South Sudanese are so close to securing their future.

With that humanitarian/freedom-promoting foot-in-the-door, the West and Israel have the pretext they need to meddle for decades to come.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961114001368

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Israel Conducted Over 100 Airstrikes in Egypt's Sinai

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Israel has reportedly been conducting a years-long campaign of airstrikes in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula with Cairo’s blessing, according to a report.

Using unmarked warplanes and drones and unconventional flight routes, Tel Aviv has been staging airstrikes against targets in the peninsula at least since 2014, The New York Times said on Saturday.

It named former and current British and American officials involved in Middle East policy as its sources.

So far Israel has carried out more than 100 such attacks, the report said.

Apart from Jordan, Egypt is the only Arab country, which is in a peace agreement with Israel. Cairo and Tel Aviv have also close intelligence cooperation.

The NY Times alleged that attacks were aimed at Takfiri militant targets. While militancy has taken a considerable toll on security forces and civilians in Sinai, the militants have never been known to use Egypt as a base for attacks on Israeli targets.

The airstrikes are being conducted with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s approval, The Times added.

The report said Sisi had kept the strikes secret, only letting a small group of military and intelligence officials in on the cooperation.

It noted that the President had also kept Northern Sinai a closed military area, barring reporters from the region.

The Associated Press, meanwhile, reported that the Egyptian Army was bulldozing homes and olive groves to build “a buffer zone” around North Sinai Province’s only airport in the city of el-Arish.

The report said the buffer zone will destroy dozens of hamlets around the airport, forcing thousands of people to leave their homes for an unknown future, sparking some protest by residents despite the government promises of compensation.

Ashraf el-Hefny, a 51-year-old teacher and local community organizer, said hundreds of families are leaving their homes to an unknown future location.

"The bulldozers have already started to raze the olive groves, rooting out every green leaf in the area," he said.

Another resident, Ayman el-Rotil, 48, said that "many" homes had been demolished quickly after bulldozers showed up, giving people barely enough time to gather their belongings.

Heavy-handed government policies ranging from displacements to shoot-to-kill orders have not contained the insurgency, but have sometimes made residents prey to recruitment by the militants.

The Israel-Egypt collaboration “is the most dramatic evidence yet of a quiet reconfiguration of the politics of the region,” The NY Times said, pointing out certain regional Arab countries' gravitation towards Israel over the recent years.

Though trying to depict themselves as traditional upholders of the Palestinian cause of resistance against Israeli occupation, Saudi Arabia, and its allies, including the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain, are reported to have made significant overtures to Tel Aviv over the recent years. 

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961115001305

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Forum in Senegal discusses Iranian translation of Quran in French

February 4, 2018

A forum was held in Senegal to introduce a translation of the Holy Quran into French by an Iranian scholar.

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - A forum was held in Senegal to introduce a translation of the Holy Quran into French by an Iranian scholar.

The Iranian Culture Center in Dakar hosted the event on Friday.

It was attended by the Iranian cultural attaché, Seyed Hassan Esmati, and a number of senior Senegalese scholars and academic figures.

It began by an introduction of AbolqassemFakhri, the translator of the Quran, and his works and activities.

Next, the scholars attending the forum expressed their views about the rendering, stressing that it was a valuable work.

Each of the participants received a copy of the translation at the end of the forum. 

Earlier, Esmati had described the translation as a great Quranic achievement.

He said in January that its distribution in Senegal has been among the Iranian Cultural Center’s main activities in terms of Quranic diplomacy.

It took Fakhri more than 20 years to complete the French translation of the Quran.

http://en.abna24.com/news/africa/forum-in-senegal-discusses-iranian-translation-of-quran-in-french_880606.html

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Europe

Independent review into the application of sharia law in England and Wales published

 

The independent review into the application of sharia law in England and Wales has been published.

The review's terms of reference focused on "whether sharia law is being misused or applied in a way that is incompatible with the domestic law in England and Wales, and in particular whether there were discriminatory practices against women who use sharia councils."

The review, chaired by Professor Mona Siddiqui, a specialist in Islamic and inter-religious studies had an expert panel including Sam Momtaz QC of 1 Garden Court Family Chambers, retired High Court judge of the Family Division, Sir Mark Hedley DL, specialist family law solicitor Anne Marie Hutchinson OBE QC (Hon), partner at Dawson Cornwell Solicitors, Qari Muhammad Asim MBE, a senior Imam at Leeds' Makkah mosque and a senior lawyer at law firm, DLA Piper and Imam Razawi, a theologian and Director General of the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society.

The review received written and oral evidence from a variety of sources including evidence from the public call for evidence, oral evidence sessions with users of sharia councils, women's rights' groups, academics. Lawyers and other interested parties.

Key Recommendations:

1. Changes to Legislation: Amendments to the Marriage Act 1949 and the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 "to ensure that civil marriages are conducted before or at the same time as the Islamic marriage ceremony, bringing Islamic marriage in line with Christian and Jewish marriage in the eyes of the law."

2. Awareness campaigns – the panel's opinion being "that the evidence shows that cultural change is required within Muslim communities so that communities acknowledge women's rights in civil law, especially in areas of marriage and divorce. Awareness campaigns, educational programmes and other similar measures should be put in place to educate and inform women of their rights and responsibilities, including the need to highlight the legal protection civilly registered marriages provide. The panel considered that there is "…. the need to ensure that sharia councils operate within the law and comply with best practice, non-discriminatory processes and existing regulatory structures. In particular, a clear message must be sent that an arbitration that applies sharia law in respect of financial remedies and/or child arrangements would fall foul of the Arbitration Act and its underlying protection."  The panel also identified a need to increase public awareness in communities about availability of legal aid.

3. Regulation – whilst the first two recommendations would result in a gradual reduction in the use and need of sharia councils, in the meantime the report recommends by majority (one member was not in agreement) that a body be created that "would set up the process for councils to regulate themselves." and that body would "design a code of practice for sharia councils to accept and implement." The report indicates that, "in speaking with the sharia councils, none were opposed to some form of regulation and some positively welcomed it." However, an article by MonidipaFouzder in the Law Society Gazette reports a Home Office spokesperson as saying, 'Sharia law has no jurisdiction in the UK and we would not facilitate or endorse regulation, which could present councils as an alternative to UK laws' but that "The Home Office will consider the rest of the review's findings and recommendations carefully". For the Law Society Gazette article click here

http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed187811

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Mosque vandalized in Netherlands

03.02.2018    

A mosque in the Dutch port city of The Hague was vandalized late Friday, the head of the mosque said Saturday.

So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the act of vandalism, in which a Turkish flag was crosed with red paint with slogans against Turkish President RecepTayyip Erdogan also written on it.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, SinasiKoc, the head of Ahi Evran Mosque, which is currently under contysruction and belongs to the Islamic Foundation in Netherlands, condemned the attack.

Koc said the attack was probably related to Turkey’s ongoing Operation Olive Branch in Syria’s Afrin.

“There are those who do not want our unity and solidarity, and those who want to bring disorder to us. They will not succeed, for Allah is with us,” Koc said.

Since Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to rid Afrin, northwestern Syria of PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists, there have been numerous attacks on mosques across Europe by PYD/PKK supporting groups.

According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.

In Rotterdam, supporters of the PYD/PKK terror organization attacked Turkish demonstrators, an Anadolu Agency correspondent at the scene reported.

The supporters, who were holding banners at the market hall, also attacked reporters, not allowing them to capture footage.

Sevreal arrests were made

Europe has experienced a growing number of radical protests and violence from PYD/PKK supporters since the group launched a campaign two weeks ago to protest Turkey’s operation.

http://aa.com.tr/en/europe/mosque-vandalized-in-netherlands/1053443

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Muslim mosque opens in Russia's remote north

 

Moscow, Feb 3, IRNA – Grand mosque of Arkhangelsk city in northwest of Russia, which is considered as the most northern mosque of Muslims in Russia, in a ceremony, which was broadcasted live by Russia's public network one, was opened on Saturday.

Muslim mosque opens in Russia's remote north

In the opening ceremony on Saturday afternoon, a group of Russian Muslim leaders like Chairman of the Russian Council of Muftis Sheikh RavilGaynutdin, President of TatarstanRustamMinnikhanov and Governor General of Arkhangelsk Oblast Igor Orlov were present.

Public TV network 'Russia-1' called the opening of the mosque as a big event for Islamic society of Russia.

In the opening ceremony, Sheikh RavilGaynutdin presented a historical background of mosque in Arkhangelsk since 1905.

The mosque capacity for prayers is 100 persons indoor and 500 to 600 in outside compound.

http://www.irna.ir/en/News/82818769

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Russia Strikes Back At Syrian Rebels Who Downed Fighter Jet, Killed Pilot

 

ISTANBUL:  Syria's former al-Qaida affiliate claimed responsibility Saturday for the downing of a Russian warplane in northern Syria, apparently using a surface-to-air missile.

The pilot was killed after he ejected and exchanged gunfire with militants on the ground, the Russian Defense Ministry and a monitoring group said.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, or HTS, a powerful rebel alliance that publicly split from al-Qaida last year, said it had used a man-portable antiaircraft system to shoot down the Su-25 fighter jet as it flew low over the opposition-held town of Saraqeb.

That claim was echoed by Russia's Interfax news agency, quoting the Defense Ministry, as well as the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The incident could raise tensions between Russia and Turkey, which is monitoring a so-called "de-escalation zone" in the northern province of Idlib as part of an agreement made during Syrian peace talks in the Kazakh capital, Astana.

It also raises questions about the source of the apparent MANPADS, a weapon for which Syria's rebels have repeatedly pleaded from their international backers. The United States in particular has been strongly opposed, fearing that antiaircraft weapons could fall into the hands of the country's extremist groups.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said any allegation that the United States has provided MANPAD missiles in Syria was untrue, and she denied that U.S. equipment was used in shooting down the Russian plane.

"The United States has never provided MANPAD missiles to any group in Syria, and we are deeply concerned that such weapons are being used," she said.

Saraqeb has come under heavy bombardment from Russian and Syrian warplanes in recent days as pro-government forces try to recapture a strategic highway linking Damascus to Aleppo. The White Helmets civil defense group said Saturday that seven civilians had been killed in at least 25 strikes on largely residential areas, some of them using barrel bombs.

In the hours after the Russian jet was downed, Moscow also claimed to have killed more than 30 militants in the area, Interfax reported. The agency quoted the defense ministry as saying it used "precision-guided weapons" to carry out the strike, but without giving details.

The use of MANPADS in a province where Turkish forces are nominally present could also anger Russia. The two countries have improved ties and cooperated in Syria in recent months, but relations hit an all-time low in 2015, when Turkey, a longtime supporter of the country's rebels, also shot down a Russian warplane inside Syria.

Turkey set up observation points in Idlib last year, ostensibly to monitor the fighting between the rebels and government forces, but it has also been accused of fostering closer ties with HTS.

Moscow entered Syria's civil war in 2015 on the side of President Bashar Assad. And its intervention turned the tide of the brutal war, allowing Syria's government to recapture the city of Aleppo from the rebels and beat back militants in other parts of the country.

But Idlib remains under militant control, and HTS exercises significant influence even over areas it does not formally hold.

"Mahmoud Turkmani, the military commander of the HTS air defence battalion, managed to shoot down a military plane by an anti-aircraft MANPADS in the sky of Saraqeb in the Idlib countryside in late afternoon today," Ebaa News, the unofficial media outlet used by HTS, reported Saturday.

"That is the least revenge we can offer to our people and those occupiers should know that our sky is not a picnic," Mahmoud reportedly said.

Idlib province is also home to more than a million displaced people from around Syria, and renewed fighting has pushed close to a quarter of a million residents to flee again since mid-December, cramming into already-packed houses and tented settlements across the region.

Despite repeated appeals to their international backers, rebel groups in Syria have never had a sustained supply of MANPADS. But they have occasionally used individual weapons captured from the battlefield. Rebels forces have shot down Syrian fighter jets and other Russian military aircraft. In August 2016, a Russian transport helicopter was shot down as it was flying over Saraqeb, killing all five people aboard.

Videos circulating online showed the alleged crash site of the fighter jet in Idlib'sSaraqeb, which the United Nations said has recently suffered "heavy shelling and aerial bombardment." According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, an airstrike on a potato market there earlier this week killed at least 16 people, and the town's hospital was also attacked.

Both Russia and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the pilot Saturday was killed after exchanging fire with the rebels. He was able to communicate that he had ejected from the aircraft in an area held by HTS, but later "died in a fight with the terrorists," Russia's Defense Ministry said. The ministry also said it was working with Turkey to bring the pilot's body home.

Syria's war has raged for seven years, and half a million people have been killed. The conflict has sucked in world powers - like Russia - but also the United States and Iran.

www.ndtv.com/world-news/russia-strikes-back-at-syrian-rebels-after-fighter-jet-is-downed-pilot-killed-1808315

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Russian pilot killed after Syrian rebels shoot down plane

AFP | Updated: Feb 3, 2018

BEIRUT: A Russian pilot was killed on Saturday in clashes with hardline rebels after they downed his warplane over Syria's northwest province of Idlib, a monitor said.

"The pilot was killed as he fought Islamist rebels who had shot down his plane and were taking him captive," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

Abdel Rahman could not immediately confirm which hardline factions were involved but said the Sukhoi 25 was downed in an area where the jihadist Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) is active.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/russian-pilot-killed-after-syria-rebels-shoot-down-plane/articleshow/62772151.cms

 

URL: https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/anti-shia-sentiment-on-rise-in-indonesia,-malaysia-due-to-saudi-influenced-wahhabism/d/114159

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