New Age Islam
Sun Oct 25 2020, 01:01 PM

Islamic World News ( 22 Feb 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Assam Government Schools for Islamic Religious Studies to Drop 'Maktab' From the Names Of 63 State and State-Aided Primary Schools




Assam Government Schools for Islamic Religious Studies to Drop "Maktab" From the Names Of 63 State and State-Aided Primary Schools

Sunni Waqf Board May Also Form A Trust on The Lines of Shree Ram Teerth Kshetra Trust, To Facilitate Construction of Mosque

With Lal Masjid Standoff Unresolved, Prayer Leader At Masjid-E-Shuhada Occupies State-Owned Mosque In Islamabad

The CEO Of Ryanair Said Muslim Men Are More Likely to Be 'Bombers' And Should Be Profiled at Airports

Trump to Call for Pak-India Talks, Peace Along LoC

Al-Qaeda And Islamic State Groups Are Working Together In West Africa To Grab Large Swaths Of Territory

Alarm in Holy Land, Jerusalem's Church Of The Holy Sepulchre And The Cave Of The Patriarchs In The Occupied West Bank After Visit By Pilgrims With Coronavirus

U.S., Taliban Start Weeklong Partial Truce in Effort to End Afghan War

Time for Muslim Leaders To Stand Up For Their Colleagues: Islamic Affairs Minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa

Grave of Slain Iraq Commander, A New Anti-US Magnet

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India

Assam Government Schools for Islamic Religious Studies to Drop "Maktab" From the Names Of 63 State and State-Aided Primary Schools

Sunni Waqf Board May Also Form A Trust on The Lines of Shree Ram Teerth Kshetra Trust, To Facilitate Construction of Mosque

Shaheen Bagh Mediator Tells SC Protest Peaceful, Police Block Roads

Shaheen Bagh protesters open road from Jamia to Noida, Faridabad

Shatrughan Sinha meets President Arif Alvi on his trip to Lahore

Muslims in India can learn a lot from those in Uzbekistan: Shiv Sena in Saamana

AIMIM's Waris Pathan Withdraws Controversial "15 Crore Muslims" Comment

The CEO Of One Of The World's Largest Airlines Said Muslim Men Are More Likely To Be 'Bombers' And Should Be Profiled At Airports

Kejriwal and Amanatullah ‘nowhere to be seen’, Shaheen Bagh protesters feel marginalised

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Pakistan

With Lal Masjid Standoff Unresolved, Prayer Leader At Masjid-E-Shuhada Occupies State-Owned Mosque In Islamabad

Islamic Azad University of Ardebil To Cooperate With Turkish Universities

Kashmir not among European Union’s priorities for 2020

Balochistan declares emergency in districts bordering Iran

Nawaz was also a ‘selected’ prime minister: Bilawal

 

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Europe

The CEO Of Ryanair Said Muslim Men Are More Likely to Be 'Bombers' And Should Be Profiled at Airports

Reforming Islamic institutions to appease secularist France

Muslim Council of Britain responds to comments made by Ryanair CEO

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary Faces Backlash After Controversial Comments Over Muslim Men At Airports, Airline May Face Boycott

Muslim youths workshop planned in Sweden

Tommy Tuberville, Republican Nominee For US Senator In Alabama And Sharia Law

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North America

Trump to Call for Pak-India Talks, Peace Along LoC

India, US struggling to bridge trade dispute as Trump visits

Another US service member diagnosed with brain injury due to Iran attack

Hero in US Hanukkah attack rejects $20K reward from ‘Zionists’

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Africa

Al-Qaeda And Islamic State Groups Are Working Together In West Africa To Grab Large Swaths Of Territory

Catholic Church commemorates first Muslim-Christian encounter

ISIS, al-Qaida join forces in W. Africa; Some fear threat could grow to global crisis

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Mead east

Alarm in Holy Land, Jerusalem's Church Of The Holy Sepulchre And The Cave Of The Patriarchs In The Occupied West Bank After Visit By Pilgrims With Coronavirus

More than Just Al-Aqsa: The Changing Ways Muslims Explore Israel

Syria: US dismayed at Aleppo liberation due to terrorist plot failure

Israeli forces kill young Palestinian man over alleged stabbing attempt

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South Asia

U.S., Taliban Start Weeklong Partial Truce in Effort to End Afghan War

US to leave Afghanistan after agreement: Taliban

GPS system to be used to control, counter corruption and misuse of Kabul Police vehicles

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Southeast Asia

Time for Muslim Leaders To Stand Up For Their Colleagues: Islamic Affairs Minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa

South Korea reports 123 new coronavirus cases, UAE issues advisory

Anwar: Respect presidential council’s decision

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Arab world

Grave of Slain Iraq Commander, A New Anti-US Magnet

Saudi cleric blasts Erdogan

Tehran accused of coronavirus cover-up

Saudi-US bond will last another 75 years, says US State Department spokesperson

UAE banks lay off 930 employees, close 49 branches

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Australia

Saudi cultural events inaugurated in Australia

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/assam-government-schools-for-islamic-religious-studies-to-drop--maktab--from-the-names-of-63-state-and-state-aided-primary-schools/d/121130

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Assam Government Schools for Islamic Religious Studies to Drop "Maktab" From the Names Of 63 State and State-Aided Primary Schools

February 22, 2020

Guwahati: The Assam government will drop the word ''maktab'' (Islamic religious studies) from the names of 63 state and state-aided primary schools with immediate effect, Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Saturday.

The state government's decision comes close on the heels of its step to convert the state-run madrasas and Sanskrit ''tols'' (ashrams teaching Sanskrit and religious scriptures) into higher secondary schools.

Mr Sarma said schools with names, including the word ''maktab'', will, however, retain the remaining part of their names.

Only the ''maktab'' word will be removed from the names of schools, he said, adding that it created problems for students who, after completing their education in primary schools, seek admission in high schools.

"The students from such schools are questioned about their abilities to cope with studies at the high schools, where there are no religious studies that they had at the primary level", the state finance minister said.

Mr Sarma said the madrasas and Sanskrit ''tols'' had been already informed about the government's decision to convert them into higher secondary schools and the process, which will be initiated after the presentation of the state budget, was expected to be completed by August.

The minister said the Assam government would spend Rs 710 crore for infrastructure development at religious places, including roads leading to them, under its ''Assam Darshan'' scheme.

An amount of Rs 10 lakh will be given to 915 religious institutions or places of spiritual tourism, including 459 temples, 186 ''satras'' (Vaishnav monasteries), 123 namghars (prayer and community halls), 47 mosques and 27 churches, Sarma said.

The government will also give an additional Rs 2 lakh to ''devalayas'' or places of worship, for which lands were given by the erstwhile Ahom rulers. These lands were later returned to the government, which paid an annual annuity to the committees.

"The state government has decided to increase the amount of annuity by Rs 2 lakh to 74 ''devalayas''", Mr Sarma said.

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal will formally hand over these grants to representatives of these religious institutions at a function in Guwahati on Monday.

In the second phase of ''Assam Darshan'', the government will promote 316 tourist destinations and picnic spots. The work will be implemented by the tourism department, the minister added.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/assam-government-schools-for-islamic-religious-studies-to-drop-maktab-2184220

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Sunni Waqf Board may also form a trust

23rd February 2020

LUCKNOW: After agreeing to accept five-acre alternative land given to it by Uttar Pradesh government, the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board (UPSCWB) may form a trust on the lines of Shree Ram Teerth Kshetra Trust, to facilitate construction of mosque.

The UP government had allocated five-acre land to UPSCWB in compliance of Supreme Court order at Dhannipur village under Sohawal tehsil in Raunai township, 20-km from Ayodhya on Lucknow Ayodhya highway.

The land was notified by the state government on February 5. While claiming that the Sunni Board was ready to accept the land allocated to it following the SC ruling, Board chief Zafur Farooqui said that the use of the land would be decided at meeting on Monday.

The SCWB was main litigant from the Muslim side in the title suit. A team of SCWB had last week inspected the piece of allocated land.

“It is located around 18-km from the district headquarter in Faizabad and 200 metre from the highway. It has easy an access,” said one of board members.

He added that in the meeting on Monday, the members would discuss the formalities related to accepting the land, initiating the process of formation of trust and deciding on other linked structures, apart from the mosque, that could come up on the five-acre land.

https://www.newindianexpress.com/thesundaystandard/2020/feb/23/sunni-waqf-board-may-also-form-a-trust-2107119.html

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With Lal Masjid Standoff Unresolved, Prayer Leader At Masjid-E-Shuhada Occupies State-Owned Mosque In Islamabad

Islamic Azad University of Ardebil To Cooperate With Turkish Universities

Kashmir not among European Union’s priorities for 2020

Balochistan declares emergency in districts bordering Iran

Nawaz was also a ‘selected’ prime minister: Bilawal

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The CEO Of Ryanair Said Muslim Men Are More Likely to Be 'Bombers' And Should Be Profiled at Airports

Reforming Islamic institutions to appease secularist France

Muslim Council of Britain responds to comments made by Ryanair CEO

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary Faces Backlash After Controversial Comments Over Muslim Men At Airports, Airline May Face Boycott

Muslim youths workshop planned in Sweden

Tommy Tuberville, Republican Nominee For US Senator In Alabama And Sharia Law

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Trump to Call for Pak-India Talks, Peace Along LoC

India, US struggling to bridge trade dispute as Trump visits

Another US service member diagnosed with brain injury due to Iran attack

Hero in US Hanukkah attack rejects $20K reward from ‘Zionists’

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Al-Qaeda And Islamic State Groups Are Working Together In West Africa To Grab Large Swaths Of Territory

Catholic Church commemorates first Muslim-Christian encounter

ISIS, al-Qaida join forces in W. Africa; Some fear threat could grow to global crisis

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Alarm in Holy Land, Jerusalem's Church Of The Holy Sepulchre And The Cave Of The Patriarchs In The Occupied West Bank After Visit By Pilgrims With Coronavirus

More than Just Al-Aqsa: The Changing Ways Muslims Explore Israel

Syria: US dismayed at Aleppo liberation due to terrorist plot failure

Israeli forces kill young Palestinian man over alleged stabbing attempt

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Alarm In Holy Land, Jerusalem's Church Of The Holy Sepulchre And The Cave Of The Patriarchs In The Occupied West Bank After Visit By Pilgrims With Coronavirus

February 23, 2020

Israeli and Palestinian authorities sought to quell fears of a potential local outbreak of the coronavirus after learning that South Korean pilgrims who had toured some of the holy land's most popular sites were later found to be carrying the virus.

The nine tourists, who tested positive for coronavirus after returning to South Korea, earlier this month visited holy sites including Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Cave of the Patriarchs in the Occupied West Bank, according to Israel's Health Ministry.

The ministry published the group's itinerary and said it was carrying out an "epidemiological investigation" to track any potential spread. It ordered anyone who was in close contact with the group to report it to the ministry and to stay at home for 14 days while monitoring their health.

The Palestinian Health Ministry issued similar instructions for the Palestinian territories.

Israel's Foreign Ministry called an emergency meeting to assess the impact of what it called "the pilgrims affair" and, if needed, to take steps to explain the situation to others around the world.

South Korea on Saturday reported a jump in the number of new coronavirus cases in the country.

An Israeli woman who was aboard the coronavirus-hit cruise ship Diamond Princess tested positive for the virus after returning to Israel on Friday but was in good condition and not showing any symptoms, health officials said.

There have been no other confirmed cases of the virus in Israel or the Palestinian territories.

https://www.khaleejtimes.com/coronavirus-outbreak/covid-19-alarm-in-the-holy-land-after-visit-by-pilgrims-with-coronavirus

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Time For Muslim Leaders To Stand Up For Their Colleagues: Islamic Affairs Minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa

23-02-2020

De facto Islamic Affairs Minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa, I have on many occasions commented strongly on your actions and statements.

But today, I must salute you for standing up regarding the accusations against Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and taking it on the chin like an ‘anak jantan’ (a real man).

Too often have we seen too many leaders, especially in Pakatan Harapan, turning a blind eye when a colleague is being savaged.

But today you bravely set the record straight and for that you have my admiration and respect even if Lim himself has lost much of the affection I had for him.

The Tabung Haji financial issue at hand evokes two thoughts. First, the offensive article circulating on social media simply reflects a new attitude in town - the ‘ketuanan’ (ownership) syndrome.

Under this belief, apart from the fact widely preached by PAS leader Hadi Abdul Awang and Islamic preacher Zakir Naik that the worst Muslim cow-herder is better than a non-Muslim of honour, is the other truth that not only is a Muslim incapable of wrong, any wrong that indeed occurs is to be laid at the non-Muslim’s door.

Will inspector-general of police (IGP) Abdul Hamid Bador commence firm action against the maker of the false statement not only for creating inter-racial tension but on a far more serious level, for inciting the spilling of blood?

Can you actually act as the IGP or are you only good for achieving win-win situations with fairy-tale happy endings for terrorists in Syria and child kidnappers?

Anonymous_1527: Well done, Mujahid. The Harapan government must immediately rebuff any lies against it so that it is not allowed to sow hatred and poison the minds of the people.

In fact, they should also report to the police and drag those despicable people before the court of justice so that others will not do so in future.

Steven Ong: Indeed, even if Lim had given suggestions on what to do about Tabung Haji as the finance minister, he would be doing his job.

After all, using the rakyat's tax money to help Tabung Haji, non-Muslims should also have a say in the problems facing Malaysia. Let us all unite and fight the liars and the evil ones.

Anthony Chan: It really doesn’t make sense that after the change of government that Tabung Haji has a deficit of RM10 billion and yet nobody is charged for the crime of causing the deficit.

Mano: Was that not a murder threat against Lim? Is a threat of murder acceptable? Will it not potentially spike off one loose nut among the many loose nuts to go and really do what is exhorted?

Lionheart: If this is permitted to go on, the concoction for a perfect storm will swipe over Malaysia.

This is most stressful and distasteful for a multiracial society. Soon, the hearsay will be made a belief and it will be a free for all.

The Middle Man: The Harapan government must take stern action to curb such irresponsible and seditious matters immediately. Don't spare the rod.

Freedom must be exercised with responsibility. Such actions and statements have crossed the line and must be nipped in the bud. There is no excuse to tolerate and allow precious space to be dominated by seditious statements.

P Dev Anand Pillai: The problem with Harapan is they believe that the people will mature overnight and we will become a very mature democracy thereafter.

What they don't realise is, if there is no control, everything would be out of control here in a country like ours where we have an inbuilt hatred that comes out as and when the need arises.

So it is either we run a system with some strictness with some form of sanction or we will have to face rubbish information like this every day.

Furthermore, with an ignorant population not interested in the truth, rubbish like this is what they crave for.

Justice For Altantuya: If those cybertroopers are targeting Harapan ministers, at least aim at the correct one over the correct issue.

Here's one to get them started: a certain minister is allegedly misusing his ministry's powers to benefit a select few close buddies instead of the rakyat by issuing new licences to an unknown and unproven company to take advantage of our diesel subsidy, while we the rakyat are already so poor and struggling financially.

He's not the finance minister, so what gives him the right to decide and allow any company to come in and enjoy our tax money just like that?

Apparently, the excuse given is to create competition among oil companies. But this excuse does not make sense as diesel prices are controlled by the government.

Vgeorgemy: The hate campaign against DAP is the result of a failed investment policy that enriched the cronies of the previous regime.

The billions skimmed off from the inflated acquisition pricing might have been the source of well-orchestrated campaign to discredit the cleaning efforts carried out by the Harapan administration.

Harapan must treat Tabung Haji deposits as a national service scheme and permit the funds to be invested in exclusively government-related development bonds to earn decent returns to avoid any further losses due to the flawed investments.

In the meantime, the authorities must go after the source of funds financing the hate campaign. It is very easy to trace as it taking place in the virtual world.

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/511885

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Grave of slain Iraq commander, a new anti-US magnet

February 23, 2020

NAJAF, Iraq: A minibus stopped outside the world’s largest cemetery in the Iraqi Shiite holy city of Najaf. Five women got out, telephone cameras filming the scene, and dashed excitedly toward a grave.

Clad in black, they joined wailing women and men beating their chests in grief at Wadi Al-Salam (valley of peace), an ever-expanding cemetery.

Killed alongside top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in a US drone strike in Baghdad on January 3, Muhandis is now revered as a martyred icon of anti-American resistance.

Below a life-sized portrait of the deceased commander, a young man kneeled before his grave, the wailing of women ringing around him.

Located along aisle nine of Wadi Al-Salam, the commander’s final resting place has gained near-holy status.

It has become a stop for the thousands of Shiite pilgrims who pass through Najaf each day to visit the tomb of Imam Ali, son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad.

“It is not just a grave, it has been transformed into a shrine,” Abbas Abdul Hussein, a security official at the cemetery, said.

“Men, women and children... flock from Iran, Lebanon and Bahrain daily to visit Abu Mahdi,” he said.

Washington’s number one enemy in Iraq, Muhandis was head of the Hashed Al-Shaabi, an Iraqi military network largely incorporated into the state.

The US strike that killed Muhandis and Soleimani outside Baghdad airport dealt a severe blow to Tehran and its so-called axis of resistance that stretches across Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.

Iraq’s armed factions, the most hard-line of which are financed, trained and armed by Iran, have vowed to avenge Muhandis’s death.

But almost two months after the assassination, there has yet to be a heavy response, apart from Iranian missile strikes on January 8.

As well as the grave at Wadi Salam, a small altar has been erected at the site of Muhandis’s death at the entrance to Baghdad airport.

Dressed in black from head-to-toe, Um Hussein said she made a 450-kilometer trek from Basra in southern Iraq to pay homage at the grave.

From the early hours of the day until after sunset, the entrance to the cemetery is bustling with minibuses ferrying visitors.

Standing over Muhandis’s grave, tears rolling down her cheeks, Souad said she also came from Basra to honor the “hero” who “defeated” the Daesh group.

Wadi Salam is also the final resting place of thousands of Hashed fighters killed during the 2014-2017 battle against Daesh.

It was on this front that Muhandis — known for his virulent anti-Americanism long before the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq — became a revered figure.

Muhandis, accused of involvement in deadly 1983 attacks against the French and US embassies in Kuwait, oversaw the Hashed and its integration into the state.

He transformed most of his paramilitary fighters into regulars, but some have remained outside state structures, including those Washington accuses of attacking its personnel in Iraq.

Flanked by the graves of other Shiite commanders, Reza Abadi, an Iranian from Soleimani’s hometown of Kerman, recited a eulogy over the grave of Muhandis.

“We came here to show our respect for this man who is dear to Iranians and Iraqis,” he said. “The memory of the two martyrs, Hajj Qassem and Abu Mahdi, will never be forgotten.”

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1631881/middle-east

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India

 

Shaheen Bagh mediator tells SC protest peaceful, police block roads

February 23, 2020

Wajahat Habibullah, who has been asked by the Supreme Court to assist interlocutors in mediating matter with Shaheen Bagh protesters, filed an affidavit on Sunday in the court saying that the anti-CAA protests there are peacefull. He even raised the issue of road blockade by the Delhi Police at five points in the area.

Last week, the Supreme Court had appointed interlocutors -- Sadhana Ramachandran and Sanjay Hegde -- to hold discussions with the Shaheen Bagh protesters and convince them to hold protests in an alternative site where no public place is blocked.

The court had also asked Sanjay Hegde to "play a constructive role as an interlocutor" to persuade the protesters to move to an alternative site. It said the interlocutors could seek Habibullah's assistance.

The Supreme Court had given the mediators five-day time to resolve matters with the Shaheen Bagh protesters and will now hear the matter again on Monday.

Meanwhile, Sadhana Ramachandran and Sanjay Hegde are scheduled to visit the protests site later on Sunday evening to hold the last round of discussions.

The interlocutors -- senior advocates Sanjay Hegde and Sadhana Ramachandran -- held three round of talks earlier with the Shaheen Bagh protesters. However, there has been no breakthrough so far in the discussions.

Former chairperson of National Commission for Minorities Wajahat Habibullah and a lawyer appearing for Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad wanted to intervene in the Shaheen Bagh matter and had said that the traffic congestion is because police had closed a parallel road.

Wajahat Habibullah was also among those who moved the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of some laws including the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

Earlier on February 17, the Supreme Court observed that the blockade of the road at Shaheen Bagh -- the epicentre of anti-CAA protests -- was "troubling" and suggested the protesters go to another site where no public place would be blocked. It, however, upheld their right to protest.

The protesters have been on a sit-in against the new citizenship law for over two months now. The Supreme Court had then appointment two interlocutors to persuade the Shaheen Bagh protesters to move to another venue.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/shaheen-bagh-interlocutor-sc-protest-peaceful-police-block-roads-1649193-2020-02-23

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Shaheen Bagh protesters open road from Jamia to Noida, Faridabad

February 22, 2020

In a huge relief to the commuters travelling from Delhi to Noida, a road in Shaheen Bagh, which had been blocked for past 70 days due to the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), has now been reopened.

The road from Jamia to Noida in Uttar Pradesh and Faridabad in Haryana has been reopened by the Shaheen Bagh protesters. The Delhi Police personnel, who have been deployed at Shaheen Bagh since the protests began, are currently monitoring the traffic.

According to the reports, the Shaheen Bagh protesters had no conversation with the Delhi Police regarding the opening of the roads. The police have also said that they had no information regarding the development.

The police personnel are, however, also complying with the Shaheen Bagh protesters' decision.

A celebration broke out as Shaheen Bagh protesters opened the Noida-Kalindi Kunj Road via Road No. 9 (Okhla road).

"A little earlier today, Road No. 9 was reopened by a group of protestors, but later it was closed by another group. Again, a group of protestors have reopened a small stretch, however, still there's no clarity if all protestors have consent on this," DCP South East was quoted as saying by ANI.

The protest against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), primarily by local women, started in Shaheen Bagh in mid-December, which led to blocking of a road connecting southeast Delhi areas to Noida causing daily hardships to commuters.

The road blockade had also been a major point of contention and debate against the anti-CAA protest at Shaheen Bagh, the epicentre of anti-CAA protests in Delhi, for the past 70 days. The issue of road blockade at Shaheen Bagh snowballed so much that even the Supreme Court-appointed interlocutors had discussed it with the protesters.

The Shaheen Bagh protesters had accused the police of blocking one of the roads. "It's the police that have blocked the road. Plainclothes policemen on the road have been stopping traffic. They said we have orders from above," a protester said.

When the Shaheen Bagh protesters were asked if they had closed both the roads, one of the protesters said it was the police which closed one road.

The protester said, "They opened the road for a short time this morning. I told the police to let me go. They said the protesters have stopped the road. I told them I'm a woman from Shaheen bagh. We have not asked for the road to be stopped."

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/shaheen-bagh-protesters-open-road-from-jamia-to-noida-faridabad-1649048-2020-02-22

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Shatrughan Sinha meets President Arif Alvi on his trip to Lahore

22 MINUTES AGO

President Alvi highlighted Pakistan’s peace initiatives, including Kartarpur corridor and expressed his concerns over the human rights violations in held-Kashmir.

Mr Sinha, a former parliamentarian and Congres leader, is visiting Pakistan to attend a wedding.

https://images.dawn.com/news/1184715/shatrughan-sinha-meets-president-arif-alvi-on-his-trip-to-lahore

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Muslims in India can learn a lot from those in Uzbekistan: Shiv Sena in Saamana

February 23, 2020

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, in an editorial in Saamana, wrote about his visit to Uzbekistan and went on to compare the Muslim population there with that in India.

The Saamana editorial has said, "There is a lot that our [Indian] Muslims can learn from Muslims in Uzbekistan."

The editorial further said, "90 per cent of the population in Uzbekistan is a Muslim, but no burqa [veil], beard, Muslim sherwani or lungi is seen there. Even being Muslims, these [Uzbek] people are of independent thoughts and equivocally secular. Here the population is less, but people are not lining up children to increase their population. They are not enemies of with other religions."

While suggesting Muslims in Uzbekistan are better, Sanjay Raut also said that there are no mosques and madrasas in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. "There are schools and universities which are modern. Uzbekistan is opening its door to the world to become a developed nation," he said.

Sanjay Raut said that to keep India-Uzbekistan friendship alive, there is a monument of Lal Bahadur Shastri and a road in his name in Tashkent. "Uzbekistan has not forgotten Babur. They celebrate his birthday across the country. But they are not upset with India for not looking at Babur with respect," he said.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/muslims-india-can-learn-a-lot-those-uzbekistan-shiv-sena-saamana-1649220-2020-02-23

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AIMIM's Waris Pathan Withdraws Controversial "15 Crore Muslims" Comment

February 22, 2020

Mumbai: After massive outrage over his "15-crore (Muslims) will prove stronger than the 100-crore majority (Hindus)" comment, AIMIM former legislator from Maharashtra, Waris Pathan, on Saturday withdrew his controversial statement, saying he had no intentions to hurt the sentiments of any community.

"My statement is being twisted to target and defame me and my party due to a political conspiracy. However, I take back my words if they hurt anyone and apologise for the same. I am a true and proud citizen of this country," Mr Pathan told reporters in Mumbai.

Last week, amid protests against the contentious citizenship law, Mr Pathan was heard in a video that went viral saying, "We have to move together. We have to take Azadi (freedom), things that we don't get by asking, we have to take it by force, remember it."

"Now time has come, we are told that we have sent our mothers and sisters in the front and were sitting covered in blanket... Only our lionesses have come out and you are already sweating. Understand what will happen if we come together. (We may be) 15 crore, but are heavy on 100 (crore), remember it," Mr Pathan had said at an anti-CAA rally in North Karnataka's Kalaburagi on February 16, referring to the criticism against women, who are protesting against the CAA at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi.

Mr Pathan's comments had triggered a backlash from the BJP which said he should be booked for sedition. Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut added that his party is capable of giving a befitting reply to such statements.

As the issue snowballed, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Friday "gagged" Mr Pathan and has told him not to speak with the media and reportedly sought an explanation from him, news agency IANS reported.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/aimims-waris-pathan-withdraws-controversial-15-crore-muslims-comment-2184228

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The CEO Of Ryanair Said Muslim Men Are More Likely To Be 'Bombers' And Should Be Profiled At Airports

FEB 22, 2020

The CEO of one of the world's largest airlines is facing criticism after saying Muslim men should be profiled at airports.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary, 58, made the comment during an interview with The Times, saying that "males of a Muslim persuasion" who are traveling alone are more likely to be "bombers" and pose a higher risk to airlines than other passengers.

He went on to say that profiling of Muslim families doesn't have to be as strict because "the chances [they] are going to blow them all up is zero."

"You can't say stuff, because it's racism," O'Leary, who's held Ryanair's CEO position since 1994, told The Times. "Thirty years ago, it was the Irish. If that is where the threat is coming from, deal with the threat."

O'Leary, one of the wealthiest men in Ireland, faced criticism from hate crime monitoring groups and Labour MP Khalid Mahmood, who accused the airline CEO of Islamophobia in a comment to Sky News.

The Muslim Council of Britain told the Guardian: "This is the very definition of Islamophobia. Institutional discrimination against Muslims is well-established: whether it is the ability to get a job, buy a flat or even getting car insurance. The challenges of flying while Muslim are well documented across the globe.

Ryanair told Sky News that O'Leary's statements were "simply inaccurate."

"Michael was only calling for more effective airport security checks which would do away with much of the unnecessary queues at airport security today for all passengers," a spokesman said.

O'Leary's interview with the Times included a number of disparaging comments, including calling the need for wheelchair facilities on every floor of a Dublin office building "complete and utter nonsense." He made fun of transgender rights and the need for gender-neutral bathrooms; and called obese passengers "monsters" who should consider buying two seats.

https://www.businessinsider.in/business/news/the-ceo-of-one-of-the-worlds-largest-airlines-said-muslim-men-are-more-likely-to-be-bombers-and-should-be-profiled-at-airports/articleshow/74261185.cms

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Kejriwal and Amanatullah ‘nowhere to be seen’, Shaheen Bagh protesters feel marginalised

23 February, 2020

New Delhi: The Shaheen Bagh protesters are now alleging that Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi has shown no sign of empathy towards them, and also blame MLA Amanatullah Khan for not meeting them after winning the polls in the Okhla constituency by over 71,000 votes.

“We voted Amanatullah Khan to power, we supported him, but now after the polls are over, he is nowhere to be seen. We need the local MLA to support us,” an elderly woman protester told ThePrint at Shaheen Bagh Saturday. The woman did not wish to give her name.

Another protester, who also wanted to remain anonymous, added: “After the elections, even Amanatullah Khan hasn’t come over to talk to us. There is no sign of him.”

The Shaheen Bagh protest — against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens and National Population Register — has been going on for the last 70 days, but CM Kejriwal didn’t visit it ahead of the 8 February Delhi assembly polls. Now, even after winning 62 of Delhi’s 70 seats, Kejriwal’s continued absence has disappointed protesters.

“We understood when Kejriwal didn’t come to meet us during the campaigning and before the poll results, but now we have elected him. He couldn’t find a little time to come and talk to us? We feel extremely marginalised,” said Anjum Khan, part of the group of protesters known as the Shaheen Bagh ‘dadis’ (grandmothers).

“We waited until 16 February for Kejriwal to complete his oath-taking ceremony; we have chosen him with a big majority. He can’t just keep sitting as chief minister; it’s his moral duty to find a solution to our problems,” said another elderly woman, who also wanted to remain anonymous.

“We have almost lost hope in (Union Home Minister) Amit Shah; now it’s Arvind Kejriwal’s time to intervene and find a solution,” this woman added.

https://theprint.in/india/kejriwal-and-amanatullah-nowhere-to-be-seen-shaheen-bagh-protesters-feel-marginalised/369570/

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Pakistan

 

Islamic Azad University of Ardebil to cooperate with Turkish universities

Feb 22,2020

Taha Payam, who is in charge of the university's Office for Attracting Non-Iranian Students, said on Saturday that chancellor of Islamic Azad University of Ardebil and head of the university's Committee for Turkey will visit the country to hold talks with the rectors of Turkish universities of Ankara, Qazi, Social Sciences and Yildirim on ways of boosting scientific and academic relations.

During the visit, Chancellor of Islamic Azad University of Ardebil Es'haq Rasouli will introduce the academic center's capacities to a gathering of 500 Turkish students who are to sit for university entrance exam.

Taha Payam, who is in charge of the university's Office for Attracting Non-Iranian Students, said on Saturday that chancellor of Islamic Azad University of Ardebil and head of the university's Committee for Turkey will visit the country to hold talks with the rectors of Turkish universities of Ankara, Qazi, Social Sciences and Yildirim on ways of boosting scientific and academic relations.

During the visit, Chancellor of Islamic Azad University of Ardebil Es'haq Rasouli will introduce the academic center's capacities to a gathering of 500 Turkish students who are to sit for university entrance exam.

Over 14,200 students are studying in various branches of Islamic Azad University of Ardebil and 120,000 students have so far been graduated from it.

https://en.irna.ir/news/83686366/Islamic-Azad-University-of-Ardebil-to-cooperate-with-Turkish

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Kashmir not among European Union’s priorities for 2020

February 23, 2020

Baqir Sajjad Syed

Many in Pakistan see this glaring omission as an illustration of EU’s “duplicity and doublespeak” on human rights.

Council of the European Union (EU), which represents the governments of the bloc’s member states and is considered as an ‘essential EU decision-maker’ because of its role in developing the EU’s common foreign and security policy, listed the human rights priorities to be pursued at the UN forums at its meeting on Feb 17.

The opening of the report, containing the council conclusions, lays out all the principles and intentions, which include ensuring human rights compliance; denunciation of human rights violations and abuses wherever they occur; supporting the work and mandate of UN Human Rights Commissioner for effective delivery of her mandate; defending and supporting the work of UN Human Rights procedures; and calling on all states to allow full, unconditional and unhindered access for the UN and other human rights mechanisms to their territories including disputed regions and conflict zones.

The areas to be focused by the EU include sexual and gender-based violence; climate change and environmental degradation; new and emerging digital technologies; human rights defenders; death penalty; use of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments; democracy and respect for rule of law; freedom of opinion and expression; all forms of discrimination; rights of minorities; children rights; terrorism; International Humanitarian Law including support for UN mandated commissions of inquiry and international mechanisms; refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants; and implementation of UN guiding principles on business and human rights.

The report in its various sections named countries of concern where respective violations of human rights were occurring as it vowed to address situations in third countries, while being at the forefront setting the agenda on key thematic issues, and seeking to build coalitions on thematic issues and country situations. But, a closer look at the list reveals the selective approach of the Council because major violations in countries like India have been overlooked.

Over the past few years there has been a marked deterioration in human rights in India under Modi government. Various international human rights reports have regularly pointed out harassment and prosecution of human rights defenders, civil society activists, and journalists.

The situation in Occupied Kashmir, where Indian forces had been brutally suppressing the indigenous uprising for decades and even resorted to inhuman tactics including the use of pellet guns, aggravated after the forceful annexation of the occupied territory after the annulment of Article 370 on August 5 last year. The region has now been under a lockdown for over 200 days.

UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) last year for the second consecutive year called for setting up of a Commission of Inquiry for investigating the human rights abuses being perpetrated by Indian troops in the Valley. The OHCHR report documented excessive use of force by Indian security forces leading to civilian casualties, arbitrary detention, impunity for human rights violations and human rights abuses, and existence of special legal regimes in occupied Kashmir.

The EU Council, despite professing strong support for UN human rights forums and especially the work of High Commissioner on Human Rights, did not either find Kashmir a fit enough case to make it one of its human rights priorities.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, while talking to Dawn, said: “The executives, while recognising that there is an issue, are shy of talking about it for commercial and economic compulsions.” He said the parliaments around the world including the EU parliament, Britain’s House of Commons, and US Congress had discussed the issue, which shows the international focus on the Kashmir issue.

Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari was more scathing in her criticism of the EU’s human rights agenda for 2020 calling it a reflection of the bloc’s “contradictions and hypocrisy” on human rights issues. “They have absolutely failed to mention India and its racist and fascist policies in occupied Kashmir and in India itself against minorities especially Muslims. The document mentions torture and absolutely fails to mention India in IOJK and against protesters against the CAA in India. Yet it mentions Pakistan sadly,” she said.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1536115/kashmir-not-among-european-unions-priorities-for-2020

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Balochistan declares emergency in districts bordering Iran

February 23, 2020

Saleem Shahid

QUETTA / ISLAMABAD: The Balochistan government has imposed emergency in all bordering districts with Iran with immediate effect after the neighbouring country reported deaths caused by the new coronavirus.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday contacted Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Alyani and discussed options to stop the virus from entering the country. He told the chief minister to take all protective measures in the province along the porous border with Iran.

Mr Alyani said that he was supervising all safety measures adopted by the provincial government.

Official sources said the provincial health department had established an emergency centre and a control room at the bordering town of Taftan.

“Two doctors were already working at the control room at Taftan,” said an official of the health department, adding that in view of reports about two deaths in Iran due to coronavirus, a team of seven doctors equipped with thermal guns had been deployed at Taftan to carry out screening of pilgrims and other people crossing into Pakistan from Iran.

“The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) and health department are establishing a 100-bed tent hospital at Taftan to provide medical treatment to the suspected passengers,” he said.

Sources said that special teams of the National Institute of Health (NIH) were scheduled to arrive in Balochistan to give training to the health staff and the doctors regarding safety precautions.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza also reached out to the Balochistan chief minister and assured all help and cooperation with the provincial government.

The provincial health department has issued directives for the pilgrims returning from Iran to carry out their medical check-up in nearby hospitals, if suffering from cough and temperature.

The sources said doctors would also be sent to other bordering districts of Balochistan with Iran, including Gwadar, Turbat, Panjgur and Mashkeel.

NIH Executive Director Maj Gen Dr Aamer Ikram told Dawn that all stakeholders had attended a meeting in Islamabad to discuss the issue with reference to the deaths in Iran due to coronavirus.

“Within no time four persons have died in Qom [located 140km to the south of Tehran] and virus has reached there. We need to be on toes as the virus can enter Pakistan due to porous border,” he said.

“Moreover, it is very sensitive issue, due to religious sensitivity as a large number of pilgrims go to Iran. We cannot seal the border as it will create a huge problem for us. So it has been decided to send a team of experts on Monday to Balochistan to further train the staff at points of entry,” he said.

Replying to a question, he said over 90 samples of suspected patients had been received at NIH but not a single was reported positive. “We can surely say that Pakistan is free from NCV,” Dr Ikram declared.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1536150/balochistan-declares-emergency-in-districts-bordering-iran

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Nawaz was also a ‘selected’ prime minister: Bilawal

February 23, 2020

Zulqernain Tahir

“Before Imran Khan, Nawaz Sharif was a selected premier. Benazir Bhutto did not allow Mr Sharif to become Ameerul Momeneen (emir of Muslims) and led a vibrant opposition with just 17 members in the National Assembly (in 1997),” he said while talking to reporters at Bilawal House in Bahria Town here.

Not sparing Nawaz Sharif’s younger brother Shahbaz Sharif, the PPP leader said: “Like the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, the PML-N also does not give importance to parliament. The role of opposition leader in the National Assembly is important but he (Shahbaz) is in London. We hope that he will return soon and play his role as opposition leader.”

The PPP leader said if comparison was made between Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and his former counterpart in Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, the former was better. “And Mr Shah has no comparison with his counterparts in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtun­khwa and Balochistan,” he added.

Taking on the Sharif brothers further, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said when the people of Punjab needed their leaders they “disappear”.

Former premier Nawaz Sharif has been undergoing medical treatment in London since November last while Shahbaz Sharif is there to look after him.

When contacted for the PML-N’s reaction, a couple of its parliamentarians said they could give a befitting reply to the PPP chairman’s tirade against the Sharif brothers but this was not an appropriate time. “Bilawal is a child and responding to his anti-Sharifs remarks may not reflect well on the politics of the opposition. The PTI is looking for a divide among the opposition parties desperately,” a PML-N lawmaker said, adding that had the PPP leader been politically mature, he would not have passed such comments to the amusement of the PTI government.

The Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, another important opposition party, has already expressed anger towards both PML-N and PPP for neither supporting its Islamabad sit-in nor accepting any other political strategy to give a tough time to the government.

The PML-N leaders believe that such a comment by Mr Bhutto-Zardari about the Sharifs might further divide the opposition.

Just a couple of days ago, the PPP leader had declared that the opposition was on the same page and weighing different options, including an in-house change, to rid the country of the “inefficient” Imran Khan-led government. In a reference to the establishment, he had also asked the ‘selector’ to take note of the poor performance of Imran Khan as enough time had been given to his government to deliver.

On Saturday, the PPP chief predicted that the PTI government would be sent packing in the next six months. “This unconstitutional government has no powers and it will be sent home within six months,” he said and made it clear that PPP would not shake hands with the establishment for power sharing after removal of the PTI government. “We will not cut a deal with the establishment to come to power,” he said and added that “selected” governments were used by foreign powers.

Meanwhile, federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said in a tweet: “Those banking on the PML-N [for any change in the government], for their kind information that if Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shahbaz are allowed to leave the country they will love to quit as they are fed up with politics.”

https://www.dawn.com/news/1536148/nawaz-was-also-a-selected-prime-minister-bilawal

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Europe

 

Reforming Islamic institutions to appease secularist France

23/02/2020

When historians assess French President Emmanuel Macron’s attempts to reform Islam in France, home to Europe’s largest Muslim population, they are unlikely to accuse him of making a rush to judgment.

Promised for the first half of 2018, the initiative has been repeatedly postponed. Reports in France suggest Macron is putting finishing touches on his proposals, having revealed parallel measures to counter “political Islam” and a perceived threat posed by Islamist radicals promoting separatism in disadvantaged areas.

For those who believe French Muslims need reassurance that there is no official desire to stigmatise or alienate them, the worry is that Macron may be tempted by political expediency to reach out to right-wing voters ahead of municipal elections in March.

Visiting the eastern city of Mulhouse on February 18, Macron said political Islam had no place in France. He duly acknowledged that any “plan against Islam” would be a serious mistake but spoke of phasing out the use of imams from abroad — notably Turkey, Algeria and Morocco, between them accounting for about 300 imams preaching in French mosques — and denying entry to the same number of foreign Quranic chanters who traditionally spend Ramadan in France.

Denouncing separatism as “our enemy,” Macron listed practices he described as at odds with French republican values. “In the republic, we cannot accept that we refuse to shake hands with a woman because she is a woman,” he said. “We cannot accept that someone refuses to be treated or educated by someone. We cannot accept de-scholarisation [the removal of Muslim children from conventional schools]. Certificates of virginity cannot be required to marry. We must never accept that the laws of religion can be superior to the laws of the republic. It’s as simple as that.”

Little of that would have sounded out of place on the lips of Macron’s principal rival, Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right, anti-Islam National Rally. The centrist president’s strident tone reflected his wariness of Le Pen’s populist appeal.

National Rally candidates took the largest share of French votes in last year’s European elections. As a measure of Le Pen’s strength in some areas, polling indicated that David Rachline, a rising figure in the party, could win an outright first-round majority in the Riviera resort of Frejus in March.

The visit to Mulhouse was the first of a number of “field trips” in which Macron will strive to shrug off the persistent charge of distance and arrogance by showing interest in everyday preoccupations.

These excursions are expected to occur at intervals in the run-up to the elections and probably beyond, accompanied by piecemeal disclosure of his ideas for combating radicalisation.

As France awaits concrete proposals on the organisation of Islam, Macron has been saying a lot less about what may be on his mind. When first outlining his plans in February 2018, he appeared to make structural reform his priority. He wanted to “lay the groundwork” for the path of an Islam compatible with secularism, though he also promised to consult widely and avoid “cutting corners, putting everyone in the same bag.”

It is as if he wishes to be seen as the president for all seasons, clinging to the support of the liberal or left-leaning chattering classes, making the right noises for moderate Muslim ears but also seeming tough enough on Islamism to appease those conservative voters repelled by the extreme right.

An elaborate parody in the online magazine L’Opinion, running to more than 7,000 words, imagined Macron announcing such sweeping changes as abolishing the French Muslim Council, which has struggled against factional in-fighting since its establishment by Nicolas Sarkozy, then interior minister and later president, in 2003. It would be replaced by a Consistory of Islam, candidates eligible for election only if free of past or present radicalism.

Without the make-believe prior vetting, however, something similar has been seriously mooted in the protracted discussion on how — if at all — Macron should presume to shape a religion that is not his.

Even before a footnote declaring the “presidential declaration” to be a spoof, there were clues to its dubious authenticity, including plans for referendums on legislation on secularism and outlawing the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafism and mandatory community service in targeted areas for young people not in employment or education. All the same, much of the text was uncomfortably plausible.

Hazardous territory clearly lies ahead. Perhaps the best that can be hoped for is that Macron truly remains attached to a principle evoked in a recent comment attributed to an unnamed source: “The outlook is complicated but a republican dialogue with Islam in France will allow us to be stronger against Islamism.”

https://thearabweekly.com/reforming-islamic-institutions-appease-secularist-france

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Muslim Council of Britain responds to comments made by Ryanair CEO

22 February 2020

On Saturday 22nd February, in an interview in The Times, Michael O’Leary advocated profiling Muslim men at airports, claiming “males of a Muslim persuasion” are “the bombers”. O’Leary is the Chief Executive Officer of Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline group.

“Michael O’Leary should be under no illusion: his comments are racist and discriminatory. He openly advocates discrimination against “males of a Muslim persuasion”, which presumably is not based on specific intelligence but solely whether someone ‘looks or acts like a Muslim’. This is the very definition of Islamophobia.

“Institutional discrimination against Muslims is well established: whether it is the ability to get a job, buy a flat or even getting car insurance. The challenges of #flyingwhilstMuslim are well documented across the globe.

“It is a shame that such racism is being expressed so openly, and that the CEO of a large airline would so want to discriminate against his customers so brazenly.”

https://mcb.org.uk/press-releases/muslim-council-of-britain-responds-ryanair-ceos-comments/

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Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary Faces Backlash After Controversial Comments Over Muslim Men At Airports, Airline May Face Boycott

02/22/20

By Wesley Dockery

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary is drawing criticism for stating that single, Muslim men are the largest terror threat to airlines and that they should be profiled at airports.

"Who are the bombers? They are going to be single males travelling on their own. If you are travelling with a family of kids, on you go; the chances you are going to blow them all up is zero,” O’Leary told the Sunday Times on Saturday. "You can't say stuff, because it's racism, but it will generally be males of a Muslim persuasion. Thirty years ago it was the Irish. If that is where the threat is coming from, deal with the threat."

"In Germany this week a white person killed eight people. Should we profile white people to see if they're being fascists?" British Labour politician Khalid Mahmoud said in response to O’Leary’s comments. Nine people were killed in a far-right attack in the German town of Hanau this week, which targeted victims of immigrant backgrounds.

https://www.ibtimes.com/ryanair-ceo-michael-oleary-faces-backlash-after-controversial-comments-over-muslim-2927112

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Muslim youths workshop planned in Sweden

February 22, 2020

A workshop is planned to be held in the Swedish capital of Stockholm to discuss the questions and challenges facing Muslim youths.

The Imam Ali (AS) Islamic Center in the city will organize the event on March 7, according to the center.

The youth are facing various challenges in society today, it said, adding that the fast speed of technological, scientific and economic advances in modern society has given rise to questions about identity and beliefs among the youth.

“How can one face these challenges? Can one live as a faithful Muslim in the Swedish society today, for instance? How can we be an exemplary Swedish Muslim?”

Such questions will be discussed at the workshop, which will be held in English under the supervision of Sheikh Ayub Rashid, a university scholar from London, the center went on to say.

https://en.abna24.com/news//muslim-youths-workshop-planned-in-sweden_1012255.html

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Tommy Tuberville, Republican Nominee For US Senator In Alabama And Sharia Law

FEBRUARY 22, 2020

Tommy Tuberville, former head coach of the Auburn Tigers (as well as Texas Tech and the University of Cincinnati), is a candidate to be the Republican nominee for US Senator in Alabama to face Doug Jones in November. He is running against Representative Bradley Byrne (AL01) and Jeff Sessions, who held the seat prior to leaving to be Trump’s Attorney General.

What limited polling I have seen suggests that Session and Tuberville are headed to a runoff. I would then wager that whoever wins the nomination will defeat Senator Jones in November.

A story from the campaign trail caught my attention this week via Yellowhammer News: At Republican forum Tuberville warns of ‘Sharia Law’; Byrne touts Trump connections.

In what was perhaps the most interesting comment of the day, Tuberville said, “I’ve been in the cities, folks, you can’t drive through a neighborhood. Why? Because terrorism has taken over. Sharia Law has taken over. Folks, there [are] places you can go in this country that you’re not wanted. In our country. I mean this is not the Middle East.”

This is just so much irresponsible nonsense intended to do nothing more than play on people’s fears. He’s been “in the cities”–which ones? Terrorism has “taken over”–what does that even mean?

“But my goodness, if we’re going to allow them to change our culture, and our country. Because they’re going to get their hands on the Constitution one day, and when they do it’s over. They want to get it for one reason: that Electoral College. If they ever knock that out we’re done, we’re done,” he added.

And this may now be my favorite defense of the Electoral College: as a bulwark against Sharia Law. (Apart, of course, from the fact that that paragraph is mostly word salad).

The Tuberville campaign later clarified Tuberville’s Sharia Law assertion that “Sharia Law is taking over.”

Ironically, in his speech he talked about the need “to get God back into our lives” (~2:05) and at the ~2:30 mark says that we ought to “blow up” the Department of Education in DC.

He also noted that “liberals” run the Department of Education (someone needs to tell Betsy DeVos). Further, because of those liberals in the DoE, socialism and communism are being taught in the schools and 18 to 35 year-olds would vote for either socialism or communism.

So, we have in one speech of less than 8 minutes the specters of Sharia law, terrorism, socialism, AND communism. An impressive four-fecta.

He also utterly misunderstands what the Department of Education does, as he makes it sound like the curriculum for K-12 is dictated by Washington and he wants the states to do that (which is how it works right now).

https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/tuberville-and-sharia-law/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OTB+%28Outside+The+Beltway+%7C+OTB%29

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North America

 

India, US struggling to bridge trade dispute as Trump visits

February 23, 2020

Talks between the Trump administration and New Delhi, intended to forge at least a modest deal in time for President Donald Trumps visit that begins on Monday, appear to have fizzled. Barring some last-minute dramatics always possible with the Trump White House a US-India trade pact is months away, if not longer.

“I’m really saving the big deal for later on,” Trump said this week. I don’t know if it will be done before the election, but well have a very big deal with India. The US presidential election is Nov 3.

For now, the failure to reach a deal, despite the pressure of an approaching summit, may reflect not so much the differences between Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the similarities. Both men are fierce nationalists who favor protecting their own producers over opening their markets to foreign competition.

You’ve got two leaders who are looking at trade very much as a zero-sum game, said Richard Rossow, a specialist in US-India relations at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

Long notorious for high trade barriers and a cumbersome bureaucracy, India had for the past two decades or three decades been slowly reforming and opening its economy. Under Modi, that trend has reversed.

Regarded as a business reformer when he took office in 2014, Modi has increasingly turned protectionist, matching Trump’s America First example with India First policies of his own.

US behaviour on the trade front has pushed India in the opposite direction of where we could like it to go, Edward Alden, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told reporters on Friday.

One of Trump’s first acts was to withdraw from a 12-country Asia-Pacific free trade pact negotiated by the Obama administration. Similarly, Modi last year abandoned another Pacific Rim trade agreement, worried that India would be overwhelmed by Chinese imports.

Modi may be even more sensitive about exposing Indian companies to foreign competition because his country is in an economic slump. The International Monetary Fund last month scaled back its expectation for India’s growth this year to 5.8pc from the 7pc it had expected back in October. Indian loan companies, struggling to collect on bad debts, have reduced lending, thereby squeezing Indian consumers.

The Trump administration escalated the pressure on India last year by denying some of its products preferential duty-free entry to the American market. In effect, that move raised tariffs on Indian imports.

The administration is annoyed by a deficit in the trade of goods with India that last year reached $23.3bn. The Office of the US Trade Representative last year argued that India had failed to provide assurances that it would give US products equitable and reasonable access to its markets.

The thinking was that India would make concessions to regain its duty-free benefits. But India hasn’t yielded yet.

We had hoped that India would respond with a little more urgency, said Roger Murry, senior policy adviser at the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

Negotiations between US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and India’s commerce minister, Piyush Goyal, seemed to be advancing until about a week ago. Yet they failed to bridge their differences.

I would have thought they would have been able to pull off a mini-deal, said Safiya Ghori-Ahmad, an India specialist at the consulting firm McLarty Associates. It seems there are a lot of sticky issues.

One irritant is that just as negotiators were scrambling to conclude an agreement, India this month made another lurch toward protectionism. It issued an annual budget that raises import taxes on everything from cheese to shoes to toy tricycles.

A predominately Hindu nation, India prohibits, on religious grounds, dairy imports that do not derive from cows that have been raised on vegetarian diets. The US dairy industry argues that such restrictions are scientifically unnecessary and burdensome.

The administration has complained, too, about Indian restrictions on imported medical devices. In 2017, Indian officials imposed price controls on coronary stents and knee implants, forcing American companies to sell those products at a loss.

India is by far the world’s largest market for whiskey. In 2018, Indian drinkers downed nearly 1.7 billion litres of whiskey, worth $25bn, accounting for half the world’s consumption and out-drinking Americans by a factor of three, according to Euromonitor. But facing 150pc tariffs on imported spirits, US distilleries sold just $7m worth whiskey to India in 2018, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

There is no doubt that India has turned protectionist during the last two to three years, said Columbia Universitys Arvind Panagariya, a former Indian government official and a specialist in India’s economic policymaking. And that is surely making matters more difficult by hardening Indian positions.

Still, Modi puts a high value on a strategic partnership with the United States, especially in the face of an increasingly assertive China. For that reason, he may be willing to make trade concessions for stronger ties with Washington.

But Sadanand Dhume, resident fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said he was discouraged by the failure of negotiators to reach a modest, confidence-building deal before the Trump-Modi summit.

The ambitions were small to begin with, Dhume said. If a presidential visit cannot force these two countries to get over a small speed bump, that really does not augur well for a more ambitious trade agreement.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1536157/india-us-struggling-to-bridge-trade-dispute-as-trump-visits

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Another US service member diagnosed with brain injury due to Iran attack

February 22, 2020

Pentagon announced on Friday that one more US service member has been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury following Iran’s January missile strike on Ain al-Asad base.

The new diagnosis brings the total number of US service members who suffered brain injuries in the attack to 110, the Hill reported.

“From al Asad to Germany and the United States, the military’s medical professionals continue to work diligently to ensure the appropriate level of care for our service members, which has enabled 70 percent of those diagnosed to return to duty,” said Pentagon.

Pentagon revealed on Feb. 10 that 109 US service members had suffered traumatic brain injuries following IRGC’s missile attack at al-Asad airbase back on Jan. 8 which was a response to US’ assassination of Iranian top commander Lieutenant General Soleimani.

At the White House, Trump adamantly denied the Iranian missiles left any casualties. But Tehran said the US military conducted at least nine sorties after the operation, taking the wounded to Jordan and the Israeli-occupied territories, while Chinook helicopters transferred the injured to a US hospital in Baghdad.

Out of despair and under pressure from Congress, the Trump administration has gradually announced casualties from the Iranian attack.

When the Pentagon first reported that service members suffered TBIs in the attack, President Trump downplayed the injuries, saying he “heard that they had headaches and a couple of other things” and calling them “not very serious.”

Pentagon announced on Friday that one more US service member has been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury following Iran’s January missile strike on Ain al-Asad base.

The new diagnosis brings the total number of US service members who suffered brain injuries in the attack to 110, the Hill reported.

“From al Asad to Germany and the United States, the military’s medical professionals continue to work diligently to ensure the appropriate level of care for our service members, which has enabled 70 percent of those diagnosed to return to duty,” said Pentagon.

Pentagon revealed on Feb. 10 that 109 US service members had suffered traumatic brain injuries following IRGC’s missile attack at al-Asad airbase back on Jan. 8 which was a response to US’ assassination of Iranian top commander Lieutenant General Soleimani.

At the White House, Trump adamantly denied the Iranian missiles left any casualties. But Tehran said the US military conducted at least nine sorties after the operation, taking the wounded to Jordan and the Israeli-occupied territories, while Chinook helicopters transferred the injured to a US hospital in Baghdad.

Out of despair and under pressure from Congress, the Trump administration has gradually announced casualties from the Iranian attack.

When the Pentagon first reported that service members suffered TBIs in the attack, President Trump downplayed the injuries, saying he “heard that they had headaches and a couple of other things” and calling them “not very serious.”

https://en.abna24.com/news//another-us-service-member-diagnosed-with-brain-injury-due-to-iran-attack_1012249.html

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Hero in US Hanukkah attack rejects $20K reward from ‘Zionists’

February 23, 2020

WEST NYACK, New York: An Orthodox Jewish man credited as a hero for attacking a knife-wielding man who stabbed five people during a Hanukkah celebration north of New York City is refusing to take a $20,000 reward from established Jewish groups because he considers them Zionists, according to a rabbi who knows him.

Officials with the Jewish Federation and the Anti-Defamation League told The Journal News that they were caught off guard by Josef Gluck’s decision to turn down the reward, the newspaper reported Friday.

“The reward would have been for anybody who offered information that would lead to an arrest,” said Miriam Allenson, spokesperson for the Jewish Federation & Foundation of Rockland County. “That was what was on our minds.”

Allenson said that there were no strings with the money and that the groups had “no idea” regarding Gluck’s decision to turn away the funds.

The reward presentation event was scheduled for Feb. 6, but Gluck said he had a family emergency, Allenson said.

Rabbi Dovid Feldman of Monsey said Gluck’s decision stems from the discomfort he and some other Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox Jews have with organizations like the Jewish Federation and Anti-Defamation League. Feldman said Gluck was preparing to notify the groups in writing to explain in more detail his reasons for declining the reward.

Rabbi Feldman is a leader of Neturei Karta International. Its Orthodox Jewish members believe “the entire concept of a sovereign Jewish state is contrary to Jewish Law.”

“It was his choice not to accept,” Allenson said Monday. “We’re letting it go. There’s nothing else to say.”

Gluck is credited with throwing his body in front of the machete-wielding man and using a wooden table to try and stop the Dec. 28 assault in Monsey, the newspaper reported. He then lured the attacker outside and documented the attacker’s license plate number and alerted police.

Gluck has received several honors for his heroism, including a congressional certificate presented by US Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey, of Harrison, the Town of Ramapo’s Freedom Award and a New York State Senate Liberty Medal.

Evan Bernstein, an Anti-Defamation League vice president, said that while the group is disappointed Gluck decided not to accept the award, it will continue to work closely with the Orthodox Jewish community in Monsey and elsewhere and offer rewards when merited to assist law enforcement in the investigation of hate crimes.

Grafton Thomas, the man accused in the stabbing, pleaded not guilty on multiple hate crime charges. Investigators found anti-Semitic writings in Thomas’s journals and articles on Jews and Nazis on his cell phone, according to a complaint filed by the US Attorney’s Office. Thomas’ defense attorney said last month that a psychiatrist found Thomas incompetent to stand trial.

The attack left five men wounded, including a 72-year-old who remains in a coma with a fractured skull and other injuries.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1631871/world

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Africa

 

Catholic Church commemorates first Muslim-Christian encounter

By Mathias Mazinga

22nd February 2020

Upon their arrival to Uganda (at Kigungu Landing Site, Entebbe Municipality) on February 17, 1879, the pioneer Catholic Missionaries, Fr. Simeon Lourdel Mapeera and Bro. Delmas Amans, as they made their way to the palace of King Muteesa I of Buganda in Rubaga, met a Muslim official of the king, Amir Ssekikubo

Catholic priests with some of the descendants of Amir Ssekikubo after the function. Photos by Mathias Mazinga

KAMPALA - “Christians and Muslims are all God’s children. They also share a common ancestry because they both descended from Abraham. They should thus not hate each other but live in peace, love, and harmony. This is what God wants.”

These remarks were made by Rev. Msgr. John Wynand Katende, the head of Foyer de Charite Namugongo Spiritual Retreat Centre. The prelate was delivering his homily during the pilgrimage mass for the commemoration of the historic Muslim-Christian encounter in Uganda at Kijjukizo kya Mapeera Catholic Sub-parish, Kitebi, in Rubaga Division, on February 21.

Upon their arrival to Uganda (at Kigungu Landing Site, Entebbe Municipality) on February 17, 1879, the pioneer Catholic Missionaries, Fr. Simeon Lourdel Mapeera and Bro. Delmas Amans, as they made their way to the palace of King Muteesa I of Buganda in Rubaga, met a Muslim official of the king, Amir Ssekikubo, who accommodated them at his home in Kitebi, and later helped them to meet the king. The historic encounter, which is now commemorated annually, happened on February 21, 1879.

The function on Friday was also graced by the grand-children of Amir Ssekikubo, led by Nusura Namutebi. The White Fathers were represented by Fr. Richard Nnyombi, the parish-priest of Mapeera-Nabulagala Catholic parish.

The function had one aspect of extra-ordinary interest. Christians and Muslims prayed together at the Church, which is located near the home of Ssekikubo. The Muslims, led by Sheikh Jamil Ntambi, also recited Dhuwa prayers at the Church, at the conclusion of the Catholic mass.

Prior to the Dhuwa prayers, Sheikh Ntambi gave a brief homily. Like the Catholic Prelate, the Muslim cleric also called upon Christians to work in partnership with Muslims, especially in the areas of education, health, and development, in order to advance the country’s socio-economic transformation.

https://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1515402/catholic-church-commemorates-muslim-christian-encounter

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ISIS, al-Qaida join forces in W. Africa; Some fear threat could grow to global crisis

February 22, 2020

Mauritania — Groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State, at war with each other in the Middle East, are working together to take control of territory across a vast stretch of West Africa, U.S. and local officials say, sparking fears the regional threat could grow into a global crisis.

Fighters appear to be coordinating attacks and carving out mutually agreed-upon areas of influence in the Sahel, a strip of land south of the Sahara desert. The rural territory at risk is so large it could "fit multiple Afghanistans and Iraqs," said Brig. Gen. Dagvin Anderson, head of the U.S. military's Special Operations arm in Africa.

"What we've seen is not just random acts of violence under a terrorist banner but a deliberate campaign that is trying to bring these various groups under a common cause," he said. "That larger effort then poses a threat to the United States."

The militants have wielded increasingly sophisticated tactics in recent months as they have rooted deeper into Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, ambushing army bases and dominating villages with surprising force, according to interviews with more than a dozen senior officials and military leaders from the United States, France and West Africa.

The groups are not declaring "caliphates," so as to avoid scrutiny from the West, officials said, buying time to train, gather force and plot attacks that could ultimately reach major international targets.

A coalition of al-Qaida loyalists called JNIM has as many as 2,000 fighters in West Africa, according to a U.S. report released this month. The Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, which staged the 2017 attack that killed four American soldiers in Niger, is also thought to be hundreds strong and recruiting combatants in northeastern Mali.

"This cancer will spread far beyond here if we don't fight together to end it," said Gen. Ibrahim Fane, secretary general of Mali's ministry of defense, whose country has lost more than 100 soldiers in routine clashes since October.

The warnings come as the Pentagon weighs pulling forces from West Africa, where about 1,400 troops provide intelligence and drone support, among other forms of military help. About 4,400 American troops are based in East Africa, where the U.S. military advises African forces fighting al-Shabab.

At a U.S.-led training exercise this week in coastal Mauritania, officials said the Defense Department has made no decision as it considers shifting resources to the Asia-Pacific region to counter China and Russia.

France, which has about 4,500 troops in West Africa - the most of any foreign partner by far - has urged the United States to stay in the battle and other European powers to step up. (The United Nations has about 13,000 peacekeepers in Mali alone.)

While al-Qaida and the Islamic State are enemies in Syria and Yemen, allegiances in West Africa tend to be more fluid, bolstered by tribal ties and practical concerns rather than ideology. The affiliates have common foes - the West and local governments from which they're trying to wrest control, the military leaders said.

https://www.stripes.com/isis-al-qaida-join-forces-in-w-africa-some-fear-threat-could-grow-to-global-crisis-1.619899

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Mead east

 

More than Just Al-Aqsa: The Changing Ways Muslims Explore Israel

FEBRUARY 22, 2020

By SHAKIR RIMZY

Muslims tourists are not a rare sight in Jerusalem’s Old City, but a group of 30 young people, mainly women, traversing their way through narrow medieval streets and slippery stone staircases is enough to turn heads. Elderly women stick their head through small windows three stories high to glean a hijab-clad swirl being lead through streets that can barely fit a tractor.

Leading them is their dashing 23-year-old guide, Bashar Abu Shamsiyeh. He stops the mass frequently, in cramped alleyways and dark, crumbling pathways, rising onto any platform he can find. He delivers minutes of exposition and explanation of the historic buildings that the group is crammed like sardines up against. Thirty phones come out, recording, tweeting and even livestreaming the young man’s passionate and powerful oration about the city’s ancient and medieval past.

https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/More-than-Just-Al-Aqsa-The-Changing-Ways-Muslims-Explore-Israel-618427

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Syria: US dismayed at Aleppo liberation due to terrorist plot failure

23 February 2020

Syria says the US is "dismayed" to see the return of normal life to the northern Aleppo province because of the "humiliating defeats" suffered by Washington-sponsored terrorists at the hands of pro-Damascus forces.

In a statement carried by the official SANA news agency on Saturday, a source at the Syrian Foreign Ministry said the US is "frustrated" with the failure of its project in the Arab country which involved spreading chaos and terrorism.

"It isn’t surprising that the US administration is expressing dismay over the return of normal life in Aleppo and the opening of roads and resuming flights at Aleppo International Airports, as these achievements came following the humiliating defeats of their terrorist pawns at the hands of the Syrian Arab Army which secured Aleppo city completely," he added.

Over the past few days, Syrian army troops have assumed control over most of Aleppo, liberating about 30 villages in just a single day.

For first time since 2012, Syrian troops recaptured the strategic M5 highway that connects the capital, Damascus, to the major cities of Hama, Homs and Aleppo.

A Syrian passenger jet also landed in Aleppo airport from Damascus as domestic flights resumed between the country's two largest cities.

In an televised address on Monday, President Bashar al-Assad congratulated the Syrian nation and armed forces over major territorial gains in Aleppo, saying the city will "return stronger than ever."

The fight to liberate all of Aleppo along with neighboring terrorist-controlled Idlib province will continue, he noted, stressing that the Syrian army will not give up until it achieves total victory "sooner or later."

US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus reacted angrily to what he called "shameless" announcements on advances by Syrian forces against Takfiri elements, claiming, "This is no dream of the Syrian people."

As his barrel bombs fall day and night on the people of #Idlib, Assad shamelessly announces the resumption of blood flights from Damascus into Aleppo Atrocity Airport. This is no dream of the Syrian people; they are living through a nightmare of death and destruction.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry source said recent US statements show that the administration of President Donald Trump is "unbalanced and lacks the most basic forms of communication etiquette."

"The dismay of the US over the failure of its project in Syria is motivation for Syrians to continue confronting terrorists and their supporters until every inch of Syrian soil is free of terrorism and illegitimate foreign presence," he said.

The US administration’s "audacity" and "hypocrisy" is characterized by its policies of "attacking others, interfering in their affairs, and employing terrorists to serve its agendas at the expense of people’s lives and suffering, all while claiming to champion human rights," the source added.

On Saturday, the Turkish  Defense Ministry said one of its soldiers, who was  a tank mechanic, was killed in Idlib in a bomb attack by Syrian forces..

Turkish forces , it claimed, retaliated and destroyed 21 targets belonging to the Syrian government.

The Turkish president threatens an “imminent” operation in Syria’s Idlib Province if Damascus fails to withdraw behind Ankara’s military positions, sparking a warning from Russia.

Latest Syrian gains in Idlib have coincided with a massive deployment of troops and military equipment by Turkey which is evidently upset by changing conditions on the ground.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/02/23/619323/Syria-Aleppo-US-terrorists

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Israeli forces kill young Palestinian man over alleged stabbing attempt

22 February 2020

Israeli military forces have shot dead a young Palestinian man in the occupied Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds for an alleged stabbing attempt against police forces amid tensions over the so-called deal of the century unveiled by US President Donald Trump last month on the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israeli media outlets claimed that Israeli forces recognized the Palestinian while he was running and wielding a knife near Lion’s Gate, known in Arabic as Bab al-Asbat, on Saturday morning.

Israeli troops purportedly yelled at the young Palestinian man, identified as 33-year-old Maher Ibrahim Zaatra, to stop, at which point he started running towards them. The officers said they responded by shooting at him.  

The head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad resistance movement says Palestinians would not acknowledge Trump’s so-called deal of the century despite Israeli assassinations threats.

A 42-year-old settler sustained a leg injury, when the Palestinian was shot, probably by a ricochet of the bullet fired at him. She sustained mild injuries but was transferred to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem al-Quds.

Eyewitnesses confirmed that the Palestinian man was shot several times and left on the ground bleeding before Israeli paramedics arrived at the scene.

Hours later, Israeli forces raided his home in the Jabal Mukabbir neighborhood of southern East Jerusalem al-Quds, and detained his mother and two of his brothers.

Billboards appear on highways in Tel Aviv with hateful messages against Palestinians, in apparent reprisal for their refusal to accept US President Donald Trump’s plan for the Middle East.

On Friday, a young Palestinian woman was arrested at the Armon Hanatziv promenade, which lies in the Jewish neighborhood of East Talpiot or Armon HaNetziv in southern East Jerusalem al-Quds, over an alleged stabbing attempt. No injuries were reported.

The developments come amid tensions in the occupied territories since Trump's unveiling on January 28 of his controversial peace plan, which was negotiated with Israel but without the Palestinians.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says the plan proposed by the US for the Middle East is in breach of UN resolutions and Palestinian sovereignty.

Palestinian leaders, who severed all ties with Washington in late 2017 after Trump controversially recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of the Israeli regime, immediately rejected the plan, with President Mahmoud Abbas saying it “belongs to the dustbin of history.”

Palestinian leaders say the deal is a colonial plan to unilaterally control historic Palestine in its entirety and remove Palestinians from their homeland, adding that it heavily favors Israel and would deny them a viable independent state.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/02/22/619262/Israeli-forces-kill-young-Palestinian-man-over-alleged-stabbing-attempt

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South Asia

 

US to leave Afghanistan after agreement: Taliban

February 22, 2020

Spokesman of Taliban group's politburo in Doha Suhail Shaheen announced that the agreement due to be inked with the US later this month includes the American forces' pullout from Afghanistan.

"Based on the agreement with the US, all foreign forces will leave Afghanistan and occupation will end. Also, no one will be allowed to use Afghanistan's soil against others," Shaheen wrote on his Twitter page on Saturday.

He added that the agreement between the US and the Taliban was completed after days of talks and it will be signed in Doha on February 29.

Shaheen noted that a number of delegations from different countries and the international bodies will participate in the ceremony as observers.

The Taliban said last Monday that a peace deal with the United States would be signed by the end of the month, with the top US negotiator describing himself as "cautiously optimistic" about the process.

Abdul Salam Hanafi, a senior Taliban leader and member of the political commission in Doha, Qatar, said in a video message shared with journalists that after negotiations, “both sides have initiated the final draft of the peace agreement. Now talks are concluded”.

Meantime, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said that withdrawal of 4,000 US forces from his country would leave no impact on the security situation in Afghanistan.

Ghani made the remarks in a meeting with the Afghan army commanders on the recent agreement made between the Taliban and Washington.

"The opportunity created for peace is the result of the security forces' fight and resistance in the past two years and it prevented the Taliban group from attaining its goal," he added.

"Our position to end the war has created this opportunity that Taliban accepted to decrease violence," Ghani said.

https://en.abna24.com/news//us-to-leave-afghanistan-after-agreement-taliban_1012264.html

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GPS system to be used to control, counter corruption and misuse of Kabul Police vehicles

23 Feb 2020

The Kabul Police Commandment has started the installation of Global Positioning System (GPS) in Kabul Police vehicles in a bid to control, counter corruption and misuse of Afghan National Police (ANP) vehicles.

Senior Deputy Interior Minister for Security Gen. Abdul Saboor Qaneh visited the center where the officials are tracking the ANP vehicles with the help of GPS system in Kabul.

Gen. Qaneh further added that the activation of GPS system will also help in further improving the effectiveness of police patrols and ensure the effective presence of police forces in the city.

The system would also help in jamming and stopping the engine of the police vehicles which would veer off from its main travel route, the Kabul Police Headquarters said.

Meanwhile, Gen. Qaneh said the Kabul Police Vehicle Tracking Center would play a key role in maintaining fuel efficiency and fighting corruption, calling it as one of the main priorities of the Ministry of Interior.

The Kabul Police Headquarters said it has installed the system in almost 35 per cent of police vehicles and the process would be completed in the near future.

https://www.khaama.com/gps-system-to-be-used-to-control-counter-corruption-and-misuse-of-kabul-police-vehicles-04449/

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Southeast Asia

 

South Korea reports 123 new coronavirus cases, UAE issues advisory

February 23, 2020

South Korea reported 123 new confirmed coronavirus cases and a fourth death from the virus, taking total infections to 556, the Korea Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (KCDC) said on Sunday.

More than half the additional cases were found to be linked to a Shincheonji Church of Jesus congregation in the southeastern city of Daegu after a 61-year-old woman known as "Patient 31" who attended services at the church tested positive for the virus last week. The woman had no recent record of overseas travel.

South Korea's earlier cases were linked to China but the new infections centre on Daegu, a city of about 2.5 million, and a hospital in Cheongdo, a county with about 43,000 people.

In response to the recent sharp rise in cases, KCDC designated both the city of Daegu and Cheongdo county as "special care zones" on Friday.

Since the first outbreak on January 20, four have died from the virus in South Korea. The fourth patient who died on Sunday was a 57-year-old man who was at the Cheongdo hospital, according to KCDC.

A day earlier, nine of the 39 South Korean Catholics who had gone on a pilgrimage to Israel earlier this month were confirmed to have been infected with the virus.

Churches in the cities of Daegu and Gwangju and elsewhere have suspended mass and other gatherings.

On Saturday, the UAE Embassy in Seoul has issued an advisory following the sudden outbreak of the Covid-19 virus in various cities around South Korea.

The coronavirus originated in China and has spread to more than two dozen countries. China has reported 76,936 cases and 2,442 deaths, according to data through Saturday.

https://www.khaleejtimes.com/coronavirus-outbreak/covid-19-south-korea-reports-123-new-coronavirus-cases-uae-issues-advisory

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Anwar: Respect presidential council’s decision

23 Feb 2020

PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has urged members of his party as well as Pakatan Harapan to respect the decision taken by the coalition’s presidential council on Friday night.

The Port Dickson MP said he personally would not allow any of his party members to attack or condemn the decision that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had been given full discretion when to step down as prime minister, which would be after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit in November.

“I have instructed my party members to respect the decision. Right now, our focus is on the economy as well as the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

“I urge that everyone respects this decision. I will not allow any PKR members to attack or condemn this decision but for the rest out there, that is beyond me,” he said after attending a function in Bangi yesterday.

When asked to comment on reports that there was tension during the meeting, with some members threatening to leave the Pakatan coalition, Anwar said tense situations were usual during meetings.

“If a meeting is democratic, there would be some tension, that’s normal ... I don’t think it is an issue.

“What is important is that no one questions the transition (after this), no one questions Dr Mahathir as the seventh prime minister and Anwar as the eighth prime minister,” he said.

“It is just that we will need to think of a suitable time and we leave that to Dr Mahathir’s wisdom.”

When asked about unhappy PKR members who planned to organise a street protest after Pakatan did not come up with a definitive date for the handover of power, Anwar said he had expected his party to act as one voice during the meeting, but it was not the case.

“Well, it doesn’t seem to work that way, but finally a consensus is agreed upon,” he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the government would focus on addressing problems and issues facing the country, especially the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the economy rather than on the power transition, reported Bernama.

She said the matter on the handing over of the prime minister’s post by Dr Mahathir to his successor had been agreed upon at the Pakatan presidential council meeting.

“We govern the country ... to rectify and improve (the situation) as much as we can.

“We will all focus on the impact of Covid-19 on the country. The issue on the power transition had been agreed upon and it was set after Apec,” she told reporters after flagging off participants of the Kayuhan Kasih Mesra Fun Ride yesterday.

Parti Amanah Negara communications director Khalid Abdul Samad said all leaders of the component parties unanimously agreed for Dr Mahathir to determine the date for the power transition, reported Bernama.

“What is important is that the Pakatan government continues to govern and administer the country well and bring benefits to the people.

“This is our struggle, not the struggle for any individual. It is to create a clean government that is responsible for its people,” said Khalid, who is the Federal Territories Minister.

Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the party respect the decision of the prime minister.

“We stand firm with our position to strengthen Muafakat Nasional,” he said when contacted.

Last September, Umno and PAS inked political cooperation with the signing of a joint charter.

When asked if Umno supports Dr Mahathir, Ahmad Zahid said: “That is PAS’ stand, not ours.”

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2020/02/23/anwar-respect-presidential-councils-decision

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Arab world

 

Saudi cleric blasts Erdogan

February 23, 2020

JEDDAH: Prominent Saudi cleric Ayed Al-Qarni posted a video on social media in which he condemned Turkey’s regional policy and its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“I was deceived by him like other Muslims,” Al-Qarni said in the six-minute video posted on Twitter, where his name was trending regionally.

“The man showed his true colors through his shameful stances, including hostility toward the Kingdom.”

Al-Qarni expressed regret for having praised Erdogan in a video posted in 2013, saying the president is now stirring up “sedition in the Muslim world.”

The cleric added: “He sold Islamic issues with mere talk. He sold the Syrians and abandoned them. He meddled in every issue in the region. He participated in the killing of Libyans, Yemenis and Syrians.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the media after Friday prayersin Istanbul on Feb. 21.(Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)

Al-Qarni also criticized the closeness of Ankara’s relationships with Israel and Iran. He said current Turkish policy aims to “tear apart the Islamic world.”

A preacher, scholar, author and poet, Al-Qarni has more than 19 million followers on Twitter and is popular among Muslims worldwide. His books have been translated into various languages.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1631801/saudi-arabia

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Tehran accused of coronavirus cover-up

February 23, 2020

JEDDAH: Iran was accused on Saturday of covering up the impact of the coronavirus amid fears that the infection could spread through the region because of the country’s poor health care standards.

Ten new cases were confirmed in Iran on Saturday, bringing the total to 29, and the death toll rose to six — the highest outside China.

Most of the cases have been in Qom, where schools and universities will be closed from Sunday.

The US State Department said the Iranian regime was playing down the danger and giving people “incorrect information.”

Iranians, some wearing protective masks, wait to cross a street in the capital Tehran on Feb. 22, 2020. Iran has reported two more deaths among 10 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number of deaths in the Islamic republic to six and infections to 28. (AFP / ATTA KENARE)

Online posts compared Iran’s coronavirus announcements with the attempted cover-up after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane last month, killing 176 people.

The World Health Organization said it was worried about the spread of the virus from Iran.

The two latest cases in the UAE on Saturday were an Iranian tourist and his wife, and Lebanon’s first confirmed case on Friday was a 45-year-old woman returning from Qom.

“The concern is ... a very rapid increase in a matter of a few days,” said Sylvie Briand, director of the WHO’s global infectious hazard preparedness department.

The coronavirus was first detected in December in Wuhan, in Hubei province in China. There have been nearly 78,000 confirmed cases and 2,362 deaths, almost all in China.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1631866/middle-east

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Saudi-US bond will last another 75 years, says US State Department spokesperson

February 23, 2020

NOOR NUGALI

RIYADH: The Saudi-US relationship has spanned 75 years and will last for another 75 years, US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus told Arab News on a recent return visit to the Kingdom.

Ortagus was sent to Riyadh as deputy US Treasury attache in 2010 and lived in Saudi Arabia for almost two years.

“It’s funny what a difference 10 years makes. It doesn’t even seem like the same country,” she said.

One of the most striking changes is that women are no longer obliged to wear abayas, the Islamic loose-fitting, full-length garment. Ortagus said that she was about to pack her abaya for the tour but realized there was no need for it.

The significance of the changes is easily lost on those living outside the Kingdom, she said.

“I think that’s a story many Americans don’t see. If you had not lived here 10 years ago, 20 years ago, you wouldn’t understand it the way that those of us coming back do.”

Catching up with old friends has given Ortagus a wider perspective on the new Saudi Arabia. “I was reminded of this at dinner last night by a prominent Saudi woman, who is happy and proud of the reforms. She made the excellent point that Saudi women have been strong, capable and educated for a long time,” she said.

The woman told Ortagus that Saudi women want their peers in the US to understand them, not feel pity for them.

“Saudi women are not in need of being rescued,” Ortagus said, adding that American women also fought for decades to win the right to vote.

Reflecting on Saudi-US ties, Ortagus said: “We went through a really tough time in our relationship after 9/11. What eventually grew out of that was one of the most robust counterterrorism relationships in the world.”

The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 also led to tensions between the two countries.

However, “we haven’t shied away from talking about that and have continued to have a respectful dialogue on human rights,” she said.

Ortagus said that US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both acknowledge the Kingdom’s sovereignty.

“We never come to a country and say, you must do things our way. We never come to preach that. We recognize that there are a lot of things that we also get wrong in the US. But we also recognize that when we see a problem, a challenge or an injustice, we try to confront it. We try to change. We try to constantly evolve as a society,” she said.

The future looks bright for both countries amid reforms that are strengthening established links, especially economically, Ortagus said.

She said that the US welcomes Saudi Arabia’s help on Mideast issues. “We’d love the Kingdom’s help on things like the Middle East peace plan and vision that Jared Kushner has laid out. It may not be a perfect plan, but if we’re ever going to have peace in this region, it’s going to come from Saudi getting in and being involved, helping us and helping everyone in this process.”

As Iran continues its malign attacks around the world, using its proxies to destabilize the region, Saudi-US relations have to remain strong in the face of the threat from Tehran, Ortagus said.

“They have shown that no matter what challenges are put in their path, they are going to fund terrorism and continue their ballistic missile program.”

The US is familiar with Iran’s behavior, she said, adding: “We know the regime wants to destabilize Saudi Arabia and its neighbors. We are very aware of that.”

The Trump administration is the first since President Reagan’s administration three decades ago to stand forcefully against the Iranian regime.

She added that this is the first time in decades that the regime in Iran has been told no. “They’re not going to behave in ways that will destabilize the region, and threaten the US and its allies,” she said.

Commenting on joint security and the fight against terrorism, she said that the Kingdom remains the most important US ally in the “maximum pressure campaign against the regime in Iran.”

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1631781/saudi-arabia

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UAE banks lay off 930 employees, close 49 branches

Waheed Abbas

February 23, 2020

UAE banks have laid off 930 employees, with local banks closing down 49 branches in the third quarter of 2019.

Due to consolidation in the sector and cost-cutting measures, the number of bank employees fell from 36,448 in 2019's second quarter to 35,518 in the third quarter, according to The Central Bank of the UAE's data.

In Q3 2019, a merger between 2 local banks caused the licensed commercial banks decreased by one, reaching 59 in total, of which 21 were national banks and 38 were foreign banks, including 11 wholesale banks.

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank merged with Union National Bank in May 2019, with the combined entity acquiring Al Hilal Bank. The merger left hundreds of employees redundant.

A number of banks had also cut hundreds of jobs across divisions to reduce costs due to slower economic growth.

On Tuesday, HSBC announced 35,000 job cuts across its global network after its 2019 net profits plunged nearly 50 per cent. In November 2019, HSBC Holdings laid off 40 bankers in the UAE.

Commercial Bank International said in September it would offer voluntary retirement to employees, which sources close to the bank said resulted in over 100 job cuts.

The Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) on Saturday said it is closely following the recent occurrences of downsizing amongst financial institutions in the country to ensure that downsizing is not adversely affecting regulatory compliance and market conduct.

"With an ever-changing business landscape and technological advancements, banks are reviewing their business lines, cost and revenue base, and make the necessary adjustments in view of the fast-evolving competitive environment," it said.

"The Central Bank continues its efforts towards Emiratisation in the banking sector and obliges banks in the UAE to achieve 40 per cent Emiratisation within 3 years. In addition, banks play a major role to increase the rate of Emirati workforce in the sector by offering career opportunities for Emirati graduates and professionals," the apex said in a statement.

https://www.khaleejtimes.com/news/general/uae-banks-lay-off-930-employees-close-49-branches-

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Australia

Saudi cultural events inaugurated in Australia

February 23, 2020

CANBERRA: Saudi Ambassador to Australia Musaed bin Ibrahim Al-Saleem and Australian Minister for Multicultural Affairs Chris Steele inaugurated Saudi cultural events at the Australian Cultural Diversity Festival.

The event saw the attendance of nearly 500,000 visitors, with more than 44 participating countries. Al-Saleem and Steele toured the Kingdom’s pavilion at the festival.

The ambassador stressed the importance of participating in international cultural events to introduce and promote Saudi culture.

This year’s edition included several exhibitions on heritage and culture, including folkloric and popular shows that inaugurated the festival, a traditional Saudi tent — in which Arabic coffee, dates and popular dishes were presented — and documentary films about the Kingdom in English.

Introductory pamphlets on this year’s G20 Summit, which will be held in Riyadh, were also distributed along with tourism offers in Saudi Arabia.

The rapid development in the tourism sector in Saudi Arabia is the first of its kind in the history of the Kingdom. The sector is witnessing a strategic transformation, as the Kingdom is developing tourism and transport infrastructures.

The recently announced visa system was introduced in a bid to create 1 million jobs within the Kingdom, as well as targeting 100 million tourists by 2030 as part of the Vision 2030 reform plan.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1631811/saudi-arabia

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