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Islamic World News ( 8 Feb 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Assam: Muslim lynched to death on suspicion of cow theft, 14 held

New Age Islam News Bureau

08 February 2023

Representational photo

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• Former Taliban officials reportedly hate working office hours to run the government, 'missing the days of jihad'

• Pakistan highlights rising Islamophobia at observance of Int’l Day of Human Fraternity

• Saudi Arabia hands down death sentences to two Shia citizens over alleged cooperation with terrorists

• Turkey, Syria earthquake death toll crosses 5,000

• At least 24 killed in second day of fighting in Somaliland

• US says helping earthquake-hit Syria but not Assad

• Salman Rushdie counts himself lucky, retains his sense of humour

• Originally meant for the poor, Menu Rahmah becomes choice order as many tighten purse strings

 

India

• ‘Muslims are integral part of India, their history will never disappear’

• Delhi HC upholds jail term to Muslim cleric for sexually assaulting minor

• AIMPLB to increase women representation in board

• India hits out at Pakistan for raking up Kashmir issue at UN

• 31 District Magistrates Allowed To Give Citizenship To Non-Muslims: Centre

• Under BJP pressure, Shinde puts survey of Muslims on hold

• Man shot; cars damaged in clash after inter-faith marriage in Haryana

• Pakistan immigration stops India-bound Hindu pilgrims at Wagah border pending clearance

• Indian enters Pakistan to complete his journey on foot to Saudi Arabia for Hajj

• PM Modi gets emotional over Turkey situation, recalls 2001 Bhuj earthquake

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South Asia

• Rights of Women, Girls Violated in Afghanistan: UN Secretary-General

• 40 Afghan Nationals Released From Karachi Prison: Taliban Officials

• Saudi ‘exit’ from Kabul sparks fears of exodus

• Kabul, Jalalabad among the most earthquake-prone cities in Afghanistan: Report

• Afghanistan: Taliban 'desperate' for resumption of flights to India

• Afghanistan: Taliban issuing gun licences to traders, businessmen as abductions soar

• Turkey, UAE to Reduce Missions in Afghanistan Over ‘Security Concerns’

• Exiled Afghan Journalist Wants to Sell his Kidney for Survival

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Pakistan

• 12 TTP terrorists killed in intelligence-based operation in KP’s LakkiMarwat: ISPR

• Peshawar Mosque Attack Conspiracy Hatched in Afghanistan: Pakistan

• Religious decrees given in light of Quran, Sunnah acceptable, implementable: Ashrafi

• Sindh to dispatch 100,000 tents to Turkiye: Sharjeel

• Pervez Musharraf laid to rest; several retired and serving military officers attend funeral prayers

• PM Shehbaz’s visit to Turkiye postponed due to relief activities: Aurangzeb

• Amid spate of arrests, Imran gives army chief ‘benefit of doubt’

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Arab World

• Engineers, search dogs sent to Turkey, Syria after quake

• Children pulled from rubble as Turkiye-Syria quake toll tops 8,300

• Two UAE relief planes arrive in earthquake-hit Syria

• State Department hits back at claims that sanctions are blocking Syria earthquake aid

• Lebanese MP delivers petition to US: Sanction obstructers of Beirut blast probe

• Saudi King, Crown Prince order air bridge to deliver aid to Syria, Turkey

• UAE pledges $100 million in earthquake relief to Syria, Turkey

• In a first, Egypt’s Sisi calls Syria’s Assad after devastating earthquake

• Syrian Red Crescent appeals to Western countries for aid after devastating earthquake

• Qatar to send 10,000 mobile homes for quake victims in Syria, Türkiye

• Hezbollah sends aid convoys to quake-hit Syria, decries US-led sanctions

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Mideast

• Israel steps up Jerusalem home demolitions as violence rises

• 'Waiting for our dead': Anger builds at Turkey's earthquake response

• Iran unveils underground base for fighter jets

• Iran Celebrates Space Technology Day by Unveiling 2 Home-Made Satellites

• Security Chief Lauds Deep-Rooted Relations Between Iran, Russia

• Iran Categorically Denies WSJ Report over Drone Production with Russia as Sheer Lie

• Chinese earthquake rescue team arrives in Turkey

• Ukraine says sending 87 rescuers to Turkey after earthquake

• Iranian president conveys condolences over deadly earthquakes in Türkiye

• Palestinians perform prayers for earthquake victims in Türkiye, Syria

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Africa

• Tunisia president fires foreign minister amid political crisis

• Russia’s Lavrov vows aid for West Africa’s extremist fight

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North America

• US man convicted of aiding Daesh as sniper, trainer

• Omar hoping Biden speaks ‘about the rise’ in anti-Muslim bigotry in State of the Union address

• Pakistani-American cop, shot during ‘robbery’ attempt in New York, dies

• Turkish Embassy in Washington DC collects aid materials for earthquake victims

• Omar hopes Biden will condemn 'rise’ in anti-Muslim bigotry in US

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Europe

• French magazine Charlie Hebdo mocks Türkiye after two deadly earthquakes

• Swedish PM ready to restart Nato membership talks with Turkey

• Germany says Russia must pressure Syria into ensuring quake aid arrives

• WHO: Turkiye, Syria quake could affect up to 23 million people

• UK charity Penny Appeal working to provide aid for victims of Turkiye earthquakes

• UK accuses Syrian president of rebuilding chemical weapon stockpile

• Scotland’s health secretary drops legal case against nursery for discrimination over Muslim name

• EU conference starts with silence honoring losses in Türkiye earthquakes

• Iran, Russia have deep-rooted, developing ties in various fields: Top security official

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Southeast Asia

• NGOs from Malaysia-Indonesia aim to collect RM3m to aid Turkiye, Syria victims

• Marvel superheroes return to China after nearly 4 years

• Why fear MACC probe if you’re clean, Anwar tells Bersatu

• Calls mount on Philippine government to review labor agreements with Kuwait

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/assam:-muslim-lynched-death-cow-theft/d/129057

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Assam: Muslim lynched to death on suspicion of cow theft, 14 held

7th February 2023

Representational photo

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Guwahati: A man was lynched to death in Assam’s Sivasagar district on suspicion of cow theft, officials said on Tuesday, adding that 14 people have been arrested so far.

Superintendent of Police of Sivasagar, Shuvrajyoti Borah said: “The incident took place in Bamunpukhuri tea garden area on Sunday night. A group of people had beaten a man identified as Naju Ali on the suspicion of cow stealing there. After that he was taken to a local hospital and later shifted to the Jayasagar civil hospital.”

However, the man succumbed to the injuries.

“According to the initial investigation, we have arrested 14 persons for being involved in the case. Further investigation is underway,” Borah said.

Meanwhile, locals have alleged that Naji Ali was accused of cow stealing earlier and had been arrested more than once.

They also protested against the arrest of the 14 persons, saying that they were “innocent”.

Source:Siasat Daily

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.siasat.com/assam-muslim-lynched-to-death-on-suspicion-of-cow-theft-14-held-2520975/

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Former Taliban officials reportedly hate working office hours to run the government, 'missing the days of jihad'

By Jared Wee

Wednesday, 08 Feb 2023

After 20 years of insurgency, Taliban officials find public service a lot less thrilling. — Reuters pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 8 — After achieving their goal to take control of Afghanistan in 2021, the Taliban have been faced with the reality of actually running it.

Men who once rode horses armed with machine guns now spend their time behind computers working office hours in the city, some allegedly addicted to social media.

Five former Taliban members, aged between 25 to 32, shared their struggle to adapt to a new way of life in a recent interview with non-profit research agency the Afghanistan Analytics Network.

“I sometimes miss the jihad life for all the good things it had,” said 25-year-old clerk Abdul Nafi.

“In our ministry, there’s little work for me to do. Therefore, I spend most of my time on Twitter... Many mujahedin (guerilla fighters), including me, are addicted to the Internet, especially Twitter.”

Many of the former fighters find that they have lost their freedom and now ‘shackled’ by high living costs and nine-to-five working hours.

All of them have also been working away from their family provinces, moving into Kabul for civilian and security work.

“The rent of houses is very high for us since our salary is no more than 15,000 afghanis (RM773),” former jihadist Omar Mansur said.

“It is fully sufficient for Yahyakhel but not for Kabul. As soon as, God willing, I have a good salary, I will bring my family here.”

With capitalism taking control of their lives, the former members realised how replaceable they are in the workforce unlike the days of war where they once found belonging.

“We used to live among the people. Many of us have now caged ourselves in our offices and palaces, abandoning that simple life,” an office worker named Kamran said.

“The real test and challenge was not during the jihad. Rather, it’s now...We are tested by cars, positions, wealth and women.”

“Many of our mujahedin, God forbid, have fallen into these seemingly sweet, but actually bitter traps.”

Source:MalayMail

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/life/2023/02/08/former-taliban-officials-reportedly-hate-working-office-hours-to-run-the-government-missing-the-days-of-jihad/53925

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Pakistan highlights rising Islamophobia at observance of Int’l Day of Human Fraternity

8 Feb 2023

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 08 (APP):Pakistan highlighted the growing phenomenon of Islamophobia and escalating hate speech against Muslims in some parts of the world at a virtual event held to mark the International Day of Human Fraternity on Tuesday.

“While none of the religious communities are immune from violence based on religion or belief, a particularly alarming global trend is the resurgence in Islamophobia that has emerged as a new form of racism characterized by xenophobia, negative profiling and stereotyping of Muslims,” Ambassador Munir Akram said in remarks at the event organized by the Missions of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates as well as the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC).

The International Day of Human Fraternity was established by the UN General Assembly on December 21, 2020, as a way to promote greater cultural and religious tolerance. The declaration “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” was co-authored by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed El Tayeb.

“It is true that observing the international day of Human Fraternity is now ever more important, considering the deplorable fragmentation of our world today,” the Pakistani envoy said.

“Along with rising frictions and divisions among and within specific communities, there is a global upsurge in intolerance, discrimination, racism, negative stereotyping, and violence against individuals on the basis of religion or belief.”

Referring to increasing Islamophobia, Ambassador Akram said, “There are open calls for expulsion and even ‘genocide’ of Muslims, politicization and censorship of the hijab, discriminatory citizenship and migration laws, deliberate vandalizing of Islamic symbols and holy sites and burning of the Holy Quran as also evident in recent unfortunate incidents in Sweden, The Netherlands and Denmark.”

In this regard, he said the commemoration of the first anniversary of the General Assembly resolution designating 15 March as International Day to combat Islamophobia will take place at the UN.

The resolution, sponsored by 57 OIC countries, was piloted by Pakistan in the 193-member member Assembly.

“The purpose of commemorating this day is to exhibit unfettered solidarity with humanity, convey a strong message of respect for human dignity, and reiterate our common commitment to ‘unity in diversity’,” Ambassador Akram said, adding, “This day is about uniting, not dividing.”

“Through the observance of this day,” he said, “we aim to build a better global understanding of Islam and Islamic precepts.”

“It is in our enlightened interest to respect each other’s religions, avoid denigration of religious symbols and personalities, eliminate religious discrimination, and combat incitement to violence, including its contemporary manifestation of Islamophobia,” the Pakistani envoy said.

UNAOC’s High Representative, Miguel Angel Moratinos, said that Islamophobia was indeed on the rise and that his organization would work with Pakistan, chair of the OIC group at the UN, in observing the first International Day to Combat Islamophobia on March 15.

“Pakistan can count on UNAOC support in this regard,” he said.

Source:APP

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.app.com.pk/global/pakistan-highlights-rising-islamophobia-at-observance-of-intl-day-of-human-fraternity/

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Saudi Arabia hands down death sentences to two Shia citizens over alleged cooperation with terrorists

07 February 2023

The combination photo shows two Shia citizens who have been handed down death sentences by a court in Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Tasnim news agency)

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Saudi Arabia has issued death sentences for two Shia citizens for allegedly collaborating with terrorist groups, as a crackdown led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman continues against political dissidents and pro-democracy campaigners in the kingdom.

The kingdom’s Specialized Criminal Court handed down death sentences to Ali Muhammad al-Rabi and Ali Hassan al-Safwani on Tuesday, according to a report by the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights.

This is while the Saudi prosecutor’s office had earlier called for a 20-year prison sentence as well as a travel ban to prevent them from leaving the country.

Ali Muhammad—who is from a Shia community which faces systematic discrimination by the Saudi regime -- has been accused of being a member of a terrorist organization, supporting a terrorist ideology, helping and sheltering a number of terrorists and providing them with food, using information networks and social networks, and plans to contact terrorists.

Ali Muhammad was arrested on February 7, 2021, after Saudi forces attacked his house without a warrant. He was held in solitary confinement for 3 months and denied access to his family during this time. 

Ali Hassan has also been accused of being a member of a terrorist organization, supporting terrorist ideology, and aiding and abetting a number of terrorists.

Both of them had rejected the accusations in court and had been forced to confess without having access to a lawyer, the European human rights body said.

Since bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has arrested hundreds of activists, bloggers, intellectuals, and others for their political activism, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnation of the crackdown.

Muslim scholars have been executed and women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured as freedom of expression, association, and belief continue to be denied by the kingdom's authorities.

Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/02/07/697780/Saudi-Arabia-court-death-sentence-Shia-citizens-prison-crackdown

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Turkey, Syria earthquake death toll crosses 5,000

08.02.23

Countries around the world dispatched teams to assist in the rescue efforts, and Turkey’s disaster management agency said more than 24,400 emergency personnel were now on the ground.

File Photo

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Rescuers raced on Tuesday to find survivors in the rubble of thousands of buildings brought down by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake and multiple aftershocks that struck eastern Turkey and neighbouring Syria, with the discovery of more bodies raising the death toll to more than 5,000.

Countries around the world dispatched teams to assist in the rescue efforts, and Turkey’s disaster management agency said more than 24,400 emergency personnel were now on the ground.

But with such a wide swathe of territory hit by Monday’s earthquake and nearly 6,000 buildings confirmed to have collapsed in Turkey alone, their efforts were spread thin.  Attempts to reach survivors were also impeded by temperatures below freezing and close to 200 aftershocks, which made the search through unstable structures perilous.

NurgulAtay told The Associated Press she could hear her mother’s voice beneath the rubble of a collapsed building in the city of Antakya, the capital of Hatay province, but that her and others efforts to get into the ruins had been futile without any rescue crews and heavy equipment to help.

“If only we could lift the concrete slab we’d be able to reach her,” she said. “My mother is 70-years-old, she won’t be able to withstand this for long.”

Across Hatay province, just southwest of the earthquake’s epicentre, officials say as many as 1,500 buildings were destroyed and many people reported relatives being trapped under the rubble with no aid or rescue teams arriving. In areas where teams worked, occasional cheers broke out through the night as survivors were brought out of the rubble.

The quake, which was centred in Turkey’s province of Kahramanmaras, sent residents of Damascus and Beirut rushing into the street and was felt as far away as Cairo.

Sebastien Gay, the head of mission in Syria for Doctors Without Borders, said health facilities in northern Syria were overwhelmed with medical personnel working around “around the clock to respond to the huge numbers of wounded”.

In Turkey’s Hatay province, thousands of people sheltered in sports centres or fair halls, while others spent the night outside.

Aid crossing closed

The only crossing between Syria and Turkey that is approved by the UN for transporting international aid intoSyria is closed because of earthquake damage to roads around it, according to UN officials.

The crossing, known as Bab al-Hawa, has been the lone link for aid for the past nine years.

Source: TelegraphIndia

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.telegraphindia.com/world/turkey-syria-earthquake-death-toll-crosses-5000/cid/1914996

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At least 24 killed in second day of fighting in Somaliland

February 08, 2023

BOSASO, Somalia: At least 24 people were killed and another 53 injured in a second day of heavy fighting in Somalia’s breakaway region of Somaliland, two doctors said, after local leaders declared their intention to rejoin federal Somalia.

Somaliland broke away from Somalia in 1991 but has not gained widespread international recognition for its independence, and has faced opposition from some clan elders in the east of the territory who seek to be governed from Mogadishu.

On Tuesday Somaliland said fighters from neighboring Puntland, a semi-autonomous region of Somalia, were fighting alongside local militias in the town of Las Anod, accusations Puntland denied.

Two doctors said the bodies of 58 people had been brought to their public hospital in Las Anod since the clashes began on Monday morning, with many more injured unable to reach the hospital because of heavy fighting in the town.

Local elders in Las Anod said electricity and water had been cut off, and health centers attacked with mortars.

“Somaliland forces are carrying out heavy attacks on medical facilities and civilian homes. The deaths and injuries of civilians cannot be counted,” said Mukhtar Abdi, a resident of Las Anod, the administrative center of Sool region.

It was unclear which side started the fighting, but it came a day after a committee of local leaders, religious scholars and civil society groups said in a statement they did not recognize Somaliland’s administration.

“Today, the (perpetrators) were supported by militias from the neighboring Puntland region of Somalia and the so called Khatumo militia in a carefully coordinated manner,” Somaliland’s state broadcaster said on Twitter.

Puntland’s interior minister Abdi Farah Said Juhaa said his government, which has controlled the town in the past, was not involved in the fighting, and that Somaliland should withdraw its troops from Las Anod and other areas.

Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on Tuesday called for a cease-fire: “let the Somaliland administration and the clan elders of Las Anod sit and talk. The solution is in our pursuit of united Somalia.”

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2246926/world

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US says helping earthquake-hit Syria but not Assad

Feb 8, 2023

WASHINGTON: The United States said Tuesday it was working with partners to provide earthquake relief in Syria but would stand firm against working with the Damascus government.

The United States also said it expected to send further assistance to Turkey after sending two rescue teams to the Nato ally, which suffered heavily as well in Sunday's earthquake.

"In Syria itself we have US-funded humanitarian partners that are coordinating lifesaving assistance," secretary of state Antony Blinken told reporters as he met his Austrian counterpart.

"We're committed to providing that assistance to help people in Syria recover from this disaster, just as we have been their leading humanitarian donor since the start of the war in Syria itself," Blinken said.

"I want to emphasize here that these funds, of course, go to the Syrian people -- not to the regime. That won't change."

The United States has refused normalization of relations with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or any direct reconstruction aid, seeking accountability for abuses during the brutal nearly 12-year civil war.

Assad has wrested back most of the country and over the past year has been restoring relations with other Arab nations as well as Turkey.

Stephen Allen, who is leading the response on the ground for the US Agency for International Development, said that most of the damage was in areas not under Assad's control and that USAID had local partners there.

USAID is reorienting assistance that was already in place to help war-hit Syrians, instead focusing on rescue efforts and other immediate needs including providing shelter and food, Allen said.

"We've got the full gamut of humanitarian response going in northwest Syria right now," Allen told reporters.

He declined to name the non-governmental groups working with the United States, citing operational security.

The United States has announced that it was sending two rescue teams to Nato ally Turkey. Allen said the teams would arrive Wednesday morning and head to the city of Adiyaman, where search efforts have so far been limited.

The teams, coming on two C-130 transport aircraft, are bringing 158 personnel, 12 dogs and 170,000 pounds (77,100 kilograms) of specialized equipment, he said.

"What we're focused on right now in Turkey is getting those teams out and saving lives, to put it bluntly," Allen said from Ankara.

"If they need further assistance when it comes to populations who may be without housing or need immediate assistance, we are certainly ready to provide that," he said.

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake has killed more than 7,100 people in the two countries, according to officials and medics.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/us-says-helping-earthquake-hit-syria-but-not-assad/articleshow/97715168.cms

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Salman Rushdie counts himself lucky, retains his sense of humour

Anita Singh   |   London

08.02.23

Days before Sir Salman Rushdie was stabbed on stage at a literary festival, he dreamt that an attacker would hurt him with “a sharp object”.

In the nightmare, a figure “like a gladiator” came at him, the author revealed in his first interview since the near-fatal attack last August.

That day at the Chautauqua Institution in New York state, Rushdie was stabbed more than a dozen times.

“It was a colossal attack,” he told The New Yorker, speaking of his “overwhelming” gratitude to the people who saved his life — the doctors and emergency workers who staunched his wounds at the scene, and the team of surgeons who operated on him for eight hours in theatre.

“There is a lot that was just lucky because the amount of injuries were such that it was more probable that I would not survive. It was a very close thing. But fortunately I came out the right side of the close thing,” he said.

Asked how many wounds he received, Rushdie joked: “I wasn’t counting.”

He said of his attacker: “I only know this from reading the newspapers but apparently he had 27 seconds before people jumped on him. So that’s how much damage you can do in 27 seconds.”

Rushdie was stabbed in the chest, liver, hand, face and neck, and has lost the sight in his right eye.

But he has not lost his sense of humour, telling friends that the tinted lens he must now wear over one of his eyes makes him look like Johnny Depp.

The interview was accompanied by a striking black-and-white portrait of the author, in which the scars on his cheek and neck are clearly visible.

Rushdie then posted his own picture on social media with a tinted glass in the right lens of his spectacles. “The photo in The New Yorker is dramatic and powerful but this, more prosaically, is what I actually look like,” he wrote.

Alan Yentob, the BBC presenter and Rushdie’s friend of many decades, also shared a photograph — taken on Sunday over Zoom — in which the writer poses with a copy of Victory City, his latest novel that hits the US bookshops today.

Yentob told The Daily Telegraph: “When he was asked before the stabbing, who he would like to play him in some drama, he said Johnny Depp.

“That’s his sense of humour and he hasn’t lost it.

“In the midst of this trauma he said to me very early on, when he knew he was going to be blind in one eye, ‘I’m going to look like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean.’

“He is not a victim and he doesn’t want to be a victim. He is his cheerful self.”

Rushdie also joked in the interview that people who turned against him during the fatwa, issued by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 over The Satanic Verses, have changed their tune.

“People didn’t like it. Because I should have died. Now that I’ve almost died, everybody loves me.

“That was my mistake back then — not only did I live, but I tried to live well. Bad mistake. Get 15 stab wounds, much better.”

The injuries to his chest and neck have healed, Rushdie said, but he has lost feeling in the fingertips of his left hand which means he is unable to type properly. He is having regular physical therapy.

Rushdie also revealed he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and struggling to write.

“There have been nightmares, not exactly of the incident but just frightening, and those seem to be diminishing.

“I’ve found it very, very difficult to write. I sit there and nothing happens. It’s a combination of blankness and junk, stuff that I write that I delete the next day. There has been a lot of that. And I’m not out of that forest yet.”

He plans to write about the attack and its aftermath. While his 2012 memoir, Joseph Anton, was written in the third person, the new book will not be.

“It doesn’t feel third person-ish to me. When someone sticks a knife into you, that’s a first-person story,” he said.

Writing about his ordeal will give him “an artistic reason to think about it”, he said.

HadiMatar, 24, was arrested and charged with second-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault. He has pleaded not guilty and his trial is likely to take place next year.

Rushdie finished Victory City, a month before the attack.

Asked if he worried that it would be read through the prism of what happened to him, Rushdie said: “I’m hoping that to some degree it might change the subject. I’ve always thought that my books are more interesting than my life. Unfortunately, the world appears to disagree.

“What I’m hoping is that people will be able to say, ‘Oh, here’s a writer.’

“I’ve tried very hard not to adopt the role of a victim. Then you’re just sitting there saying, ‘Oh, somebody stuck a knife in me, poor me.’ Which I do sometimes say. It hurts. But that’s not what I want people reading the book to think.”

Rushdie is also working on his first play, Helen, about Helen of Troy. It is scheduled to open in London next year, and the writer said he was hoping to attend the first night.

He spent more than a decade in hiding after the fatwa, but thereafter led a relatively normal life and he believed that the risk to his life was low.

“I won’t say that I hadn’t thought about it over the years — I had. I had come to feel that it was a very long time ago and then the world moves on. That is, I guess, what I had agreed with myself was the case. And then it wasn’t.

“I have a lot to think about as a consequence of that. I haven’t finished with that thinking,” he said.

But he remained defiant, saying that he was determined not to let the experience destroy him as an artist.

“I could be scared and write scared books — a book that doesn’t tackle anything important, that shies away from things because you worry how people will react to them. That’s a scared book. There are a lot of them around these days. I’m too old for that,” he said.

Rushdie described his assailant as “an idiot”. The 24-year-old was born in California to Lebanese parents and lived with his mother in Fairview, New Jersey. According to The New Yorker, one of the last emails that Matar sent — cancelling his gym membership — carried an image of the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Hosseini Khamenei.

Rushdie said he was concerned about freedoms in Iran and about the fate of the Iranian football team after they supported anti-government protesters at the World Cup in Qatar.

Friends agree that he remains committed to freedom of speech.

Yentob said: “We are living in a world where in Iran, in China, in Russia, in Egypt, there is no freedom of expression. It is something that sadly is still with us.

“We have to remember Salman is a champion of freedom of expression.”

The Daily Telegraph, London

Source: TelegraphIndia

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.telegraphindia.com/world/27-seconds-that-brought-alive-a-bad-dream/cid/1915040

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Originally meant for the poor, Menu Rahmah becomes choice order as many tighten purse strings

By ZarrahMorden

08 Feb 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 8 — Since time immemorial, Malaysians have been known to hunt for cheap eats, and they would have no trouble finding some at places like the food court at the Subang Jaya branch of the Mydin hypermarket.

There, a major draw was now its rows of food stalls, each displaying large posters of their “Menu Rahmah” dish for RM5.

At Kampung Selera, one of the stalls that sold “nasi campur” or Malay for economy rice, those opting for Menu Rahmah have a choice whether to have their white rice served with either a keli or catfish, sardine or chicken, with any one vegetable dish.

“In a day, I usually get 100 or more orders for the catfish, 60 orders for sardine and another 60 for the chicken dish,” stall owner Ishaq Qin told Malay Mail.

“The demand is quite good,” he added.

He said he usually has five or six types of vegetable dishes that Menu Rahmah customers can choose from.

Two stalls away, another stall he also owns that offered Chinese Muslim food had dumplings served in soup as its Menu Rahmah item.

A stall about 10m away offered a plate of chicken rice instead.

“We get around four to five hundred orders a day for it,” one of the foreign workers, a tall man of South Asian origin, said.

But despite the high number of orders for the dish, he said customers also opt for the other items offered by the stall.

Menu Rahmah was initially a programme spurred by the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Cost of Living for the hardcore poor, which targeted the participation of 15,000 premises nationwide.

Last month, its minister, Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub, said around 12,000 premises have already offered the menu, including restaurants affiliated with the Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners Association (Primas), the Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma), Malaysia Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors General Association (MCSPGA), and Mydin supermarket outlets nationwide.

Malay Mail’s visit to the food court in Mydin — which is one of the initiative’s first partners and most high-profile advocate — found that the dishes that fell under the menu was a hit with the customers regardless of their financial status, a testament to Malaysians’ eagerness to save money where they can amid a challenging economy.

One of Ishaq’s customers, a civil servant who gave her name as Nurul praised the initiative, admitting that the dishes offered were “pretty good”.

“I bring my children here to eat their lunch after school,” the 47-year-old said.

“For RM5 you can get fish, vegetables and rice,” she gushed.

A frequent customer of the food court, Nurul also goes around to the other stalls for their Menu Rahmah offering.

Another frequent customer was Marina Kamaroon, who had just purchased six packets of the rojak offered under Menu Rahmah in another stall.

“[The initiative] can save you some money, especially with the economy as it is right now,” the 50-year-old babysitter said.

It was her first time purchasing the dish under the Menu Rahmahprogramme, which she said was “worth it” as the rojak was usually priced at RM6.

“I usually buy the rojak here but it’s my first time today buying it as part of the Menu Rahmah,” she said.

Saari Ahmad, 61, meanwhile had just gone to Mydin Subang Jaya to check out the Menu Rahmah offerings.

When asked what he thought about the initiative, he said: “Thank god, I think it’s really good.”

The business owner said that if he felt the food tasted good for its price, he would love to see more of the programme.

“It’s my first time here. I want to taste test if the cooking is good first,” he said, adding that the price point is just nice considering soaring living costs.

Minister Salahuddin has since said the programme would be extended to public higher education institutions after Aidilfitri, starting with 20 institutions in the Klang Valley.

The sustainability of the programme under the new Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional coalition government, however, has been questioned, as Salahuddin had previously been reported saying the government was trying to make it a “zero-budget initiative”.

Salahuddin said he would propose at the next Cabinet meeting that participants receive possible incentives, such as reduced rental rates and easier applications for migrant labour.

A similar programme was introduced under the Datuk Seri Najib Razak administration called “Menu Rakyat 1Malaysia” in 2012, promising breakfast below RM2 and lunch below RM4.
Source:MalayMail

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https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2023/02/08/originally-meant-for-the-poor-menu-rahmah-becomes-choice-order-as-many-tighten-purse-strings/53796

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India

 

‘Muslims are integral part of India, their history will never disappear’

SARFARAZ AHMED

Feb 7, 2023

NAGPUR: Delhi-based historian Syed Ubaidur Rahman has authored five books on the Indian Muslim freedom fighters, Muslim states and empires in medieval India, tracing the community’s history across the subcontinent from 14th to 18th century. He was in Sewagram to deliver a talk on freedom fighter and Bharat Ratna Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan on Sunday.

Later, he also interacted with Muslim intellectuals and students in Nagpur. In an exclusive interview with TOI, Rahman said changing names of cities, gardens, or monuments, is a ploy to divert public attention.

“Attempts are on to rewrite medieval India’s history. But it can’t be changed. Books authored by reputed scholars are still available and referred to. Muslims are an integral part of India and their history will never disappear,” he said. Excerpts.

Q. How do you perceive moves to change names?

A. The name changing spree has no specific grounds. For example, they want Ahmednagar’s name changed. Before the founder of Nizam Shahi Sultanate Ahmed Nizam Shah settled it, there was no town named Ahmednagar. On what basis are they wanting to rename it? His father Malik Bahri embraced Islam.

Bahri was prime minister in the Bahmani empire. Ahmednagar was the most important and powerful state in this empire. Similarly, Aurangabad is a historic town, but a decision has been taken to change its name without logic.

Before becoming Aurangabad, others claim Buddhist and other sects inhabited it. This whole exercise of nomenclature is entirely baseless, a means to divert public attention from real issues.

Q. What are its implications on history or Muslims?

A. Historic places will lose their importance and people will forget them because you are diluting the truth. Its background, reason for giving its original name, its founder will be forgotten. This is what the government’s intentions are, to wipe out the contribution of Muslims, take away their credit for creating marvellous monuments, and make Muslims irrelevant.

Q. What is the basis for this claim?

A. Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) project aims to rewrite medieval history in the next five years. English and Persian sources won’t be used in this exercise rather they would be collating information from vernacular sources. Basic writings during the medieval period were in Persian and towards the later medieval it was English.

According to military writer Richard Elton, there was no tradition of documenting history in vernacular languages in India. So, now they will create mythological backgrounds.

A recent exhibition in Delhi showcased references to medieval history. They portrayed very small, unknown dynasties from villages and talukas as big ones. No mention of Bahmani or Delhi Sultanate was made in it. Not a single Muslim dynasty found a place in it. This means they want to make Muslims irrelevant.

Q. What difference will it make for today’s Muslim’s?

A. It will have a catastrophic impact on Muslims. They would feel let down, completely disconnected. Right now, there are some references about Mughals in school, college textbooks, but they are fast disappearing.

Chapters on Vijaynagar are getting bigger and those on Bahmani Empire getting smaller. The original history books are not going to disappear from the world. They are intact in world libraries. The whole world will criticize you for fudging history.

Q. What will be the acceptability of new history?

A. It will be worthless. A time will come when original history will resurface. It will not disappear. For vested interests, some historians are fooling around. Books by Irfan Habib, Richard Elton will not disappear. They are referred to in every book at the international level. This exercise will only leave a blot on the face of those in power.

Q. How are you going to counter this?

A. We need to circulate authentic history books by reputed authors as much as possible. We need to introduce our kids to history books. We need to make them easy to understand. People like Ram Punyani must be supported. Resources like YouTube need to be utilized. Small efforts need to be taken.

Source: Times Of India

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/muslims-are-integral-part-of-india-their-history-will-never-disappear/articleshow/97667520.cms

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Delhi HC upholds jail term to Muslim cleric for sexually assaulting minor

Feb 08, 2023

Great faith and trust is reposed in the Maulvi/Hafiz, who teaches to others, the tenets of holy Quaran and is looked up to, with reverence, the Delhi high court has said while upholding the six-year jail term awarded to a Muslim cleric for sexually assaulting a six-year-old girl.

In a judgment of February 3, justice Poonam A Bamba said that the convict held a position of great trust and faith which has been breached by him by sexually assaulting a gullible girl child.

“It is established that the appellant/accused (cleric) sexually assaulted the victim, who was six years of age at the time of the incident…Thus, I find no infirmity in the judgment of the trial court in concluding that the appellant is guilty of aggravated sexual assault in terms of Section 9 (m) POCSO Act, which is punishable under Section 10 POCSO Act and convicting the appellant under Section 354 (molestation) IPC and Section 10 POCSO Act,” the court said in a 20-page judgment.

The incident took place in Delhi’s Burari area in September 2016 and a complaint was given to the police by the girl’s family that she had been sexually assaulted by him.

The child, who used to go to the man’s house to learn ‘Kayda’, had informed her mother about the incident and was medically examined at a hospital.

The convict had challenged the trial court’s January 2021 judgment by which he was sentenced to six years imprisonment. Seeking a reduction of sentence, he had submitted that he has four minor children and a wife to look after and has clean antecedents with good conduct in jail.

However, the court rejecting his prayer noted that the appellant is a maulvi/ hafiz, who taught Quran Sharif and “Kayda” (basics to beginners) to the victim.

“A great faith and trust is reposed in the maulvi/ hafiz, who teaches to others, the tenets of the holy Quran and is looked up to, with reverence…Thus, the appellant held a position of great trust and faith, which he breached by sexually assaulting the victim, a gullible girl child of six years of age. Thus, the appellant does not deserve any indulgence in this regard,” it said.

Source: Hindustan Times

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https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/delhi-news/delhi-hc-upholds-jail-term-to-muslim-cleric-for-sexually-assaulting-minor-101675794791629.html

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AIMPLB to increase women representation in board

7th February 2023

Lucknow: The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has decided to include more women in decision-making committees of the Board.

After discontinuing its women’s wing in March 2022, the AIMPLB has not only restored it now, but has decided to include them in all its important committees for getting their views.

The women’s wing will educate women of the community about the rights and duties of women, according to Islamic Shariat.

Women members of the Board will campaign against expensive marriages, dowry in the Muslim society, as well as make families aware of giving daughters a share in the property instead of dowry.

Dr. Qasim Rasool Ilyas, executive member of the AIMPLB, said, “The women’s wing has been restored in the Board meeting on Sunday. The AIMPLB has 251 members across the country, out of which the number of women members is 30. The number of members of the executive committee is 51 in which four women have been included.”

He said, “Now, there will be one convener and five joint conveners in the women’s wing of the Board. They will work to make women members across the country. These members will make women aware about the rights of women and their duties found in Islamic Shariat. They will also give information about Islah-e-AsharaTafaheem-e-Shariat and Kanoon-e-Shariat.”

Source:Siasat Daily

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https://www.siasat.com/aimplb-to-increase-women-representation-in-board-2520870/

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India hits out at Pakistan for raking up Kashmir issue at UN

Feb 7, 2023

UNITED NATIONS: India has slammed Pakistan for raking up the Kashmir issue in the United Nations, saying Islamabad harbours a deep sense of insecurity and orchestrated hatred for its neighbouring country and its secular credentials.

Responding to Pakistan's raising of the Kashmir issue during a UN General Assembly (UNGA) meeting, Counsellor in India's Permanent Mission to the UN, Rajesh Parihar, said on Monday that Islamabad repeatedly utters falsehoods about India.

"I'm constrained to take the floor to respond to the frivolous remarks made by the representative of Pakistan against my country. While such a statement deserves our sympathy for a mindset, which repeatedly utters falsehood, it is important for me to set the record straight,” he said in the UNGA.

Parihar said irrespective of what the representative of Pakistan believes or covets, the Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh were, are and will always be an "integral and inalienable" part of India.

“We expect nothing new from this delegation that harbours a deep sense of insecurity and orchestrated hatred for India and our secular credentials and values that my country stands for,” he said.

Tensions between India and Pakistan spiked after New Delhi abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019. India's decision evoked strong reactions from Pakistan, which downgraded diplomatic ties and expelled the Indian envoy.

India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 was its internal matter. It also advised Pakistan to accept the reality and stop all anti-India propaganda.

India has told Pakistan that it desires normal neighbourly relations with Islamabad in an environment free of terror, hostility and violence.

At the outset, Parihar, in his remarks, conveyed India's condolences to the families in Syria and Turkiye, who have suffered loss of lives and destruction due to the devastating earthquakes.

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake and multiple aftershocks struck eastern Turkey and neighbouring Syria on Monday, Killing more than 5,000 people.

Source: Times Of India

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-hits-out-at-pakistan-for-raking-up-kashmir-issue-at-un/articleshow/97705127.cms

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31 District Magistrates Allowed To Give Citizenship To Non-Muslims: Centre

February 07, 2023

New Delhi: The central government has empowered 31 district magistrates in nine states to grant citizenship to people belonging to minority communities of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh under the Citizenship Act, according to Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai.

The delegation of this power is aimed at speedy disposal of the citizenship applications of such foreigners as decisions can now be taken at the district level itself after examining each case, Mr Rai said in a written reply in Lok Sabha today.

These districts have been chosen keeping in view the needs of applicants, he said.

"The central government, in exercise of powers conferred by Section 16 of The Citizenship Act, 1955, has delegated its power to grant citizenship by registration under Section 5 and by naturalisation under Section 6 of The Citizenship Act, 1955 to the Collectors of 31 Districts... for speedy disposal of citizenship applications of person(s) belonging to minority communities of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh namely, Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Christian," Mr Rai said.

The 31 districts are in Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi.

The move to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan under the Citizenship Act, 1955 and not under the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) bears significance.

Source: NDTV

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https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/31-district-magistrates-allowed-to-give-citizenship-to-non-muslims-centre-3760283

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Under BJP pressure, Shinde puts survey of Muslims on hold

Feb 08, 2023

By Surendra P Gangan

The state government has put a survey, aimed to assess the socio-economic condition of Muslims, on the back burner after the alliance partner, BJP, took objection to it.

The minorities affairs department had on September 21 last year issued a government resolution (GR) stating that Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) would visit 56 Muslim-dominated towns and conduct a study of the community’s condition. TISS was also mandated to study the benefits reaped by the community from the government schemes in education, employment, health, banking and other sectors. The GR said the state had made an allocation of ₹33,92,040.

Soon after, women and child welfare minister and BJP leader MangalprabhatLodha wrote to chief minister Eknath Shinde. He claimed that the GR was issued without following the due process and without the knowledge of the chief minister.

“The proposal was prepared by former minority welfare minister Nawab Malik when the Uddhav Thackeray-led government was in power. Even the then CM was not taken into confidence on it. When I brought this to the notice of the CM (Shinde), he ordered to stay it,” Lodha said.

The minister also questioned why other minority communities (Sikh, Christian, Parsi, Jain and Buddhists) were not included in the order for the survey. “It is now up to the CM to decide the fate of the project,” he said.

The project is unlikely to see the light of the day, officials said. “Immediately after the minister raised objection, the CM asked for the file and ordered a stay on it. There are no further directives on it,” an official said, adding the CM, who heads the minorities affairs department, was aware of the proposal before the GR was issued.

Source: Hindustan Times

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https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/mumbai-news/under-bjp-pressure-shinde-puts-survey-of-muslims-on-hold-101675796861341.html

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Man shot; cars damaged in clash after inter-faith marriage in Haryana

7th February 2023

Gurugram: A man was shot at and vehicles were damaged in a clash between two groups allegedly after an inter-faith marriage in Haryana’s Pataudi area, police said on Tuesday.

On January 30, a Muslim man from Pataudi’s Baba Shah locality lodged a police complaint alleging that his 22-year-old daughter had gone missing. It was later found that she had married one Rakesh, they said.

After the wedding, Rakesh had started receiving threat calls. He informed his relatives in Rewari about the calls and they reached out to Bajrang Dal members for help. A group of men led by the outfit’s leader reached the man’s house where the clash erupted, they said.

An FIR was registered against the Muslim party under sections 148 (riots), 149 (unlawful assembly), 323 (causing hurt), 506 (criminal intimidation), 380 (theft) and 427 (causing damage) of the IPC.

Source:Siasat Daily

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https://www.siasat.com/man-shot-cars-damaged-in-clash-after-inter-faith-marriage-in-haryana-2521314/

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Pakistan immigration stops India-bound Hindu pilgrims at Wagah border pending clearance

YUDHVIR RANA

Feb 7, 2023

AMRITSAR: Around 190 Pakistani Hindu pilgrims were stopped at Wagah border by Pakistan’s immigration officials on Tuesday pending clearance.

According to sources here, a group of over 190 Hindu men, women and children of all age groups was on way to India on a pilgrimage to Haridwar and meet their relatives in Rajasthan.

“Probably, the Pakistani immigration officials were suspicious about their return from India and subjected them to questioning,” said a source, adding that it appeared that they were not convinced of their replies and stopped them at Wagah.

Notably, the number of Pakistani Hindus arriving in India with most of them settling here, especially in Rajasthan, where their relatives live, has increased in the recent past.

Sources said that in the past three months, as many as 70 groups of Hindus had arrived in India from Pakistan and many had sought asylum.

Most of these Hindus carry even the smallest of their household items while traveling to India which raises the suspicion of the Pakistani immigration officials, said sources.

Source: Times Of India

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistan-immigration-stops-india-bound-hindu-pilgrims-at-wagah-border-pending-clearance/articleshow/97703337.cms

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Indian enters Pakistan to complete his journey on foot to Saudi Arabia for Hajj

Feb 7, 2023

LAHORE: An Indian national, who was earlier denied a visa by a Pakistani court, entered the country on Tuesday to complete his marathon journey on foot to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj.

Shihab Bhai, 29, arrived in Pakistan via the Wagah border and was welcomed by Sarwar Taj, who had filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court on behalf of Shihab, and Bhagat Singh Memorial Foundation Pakistan chairman Imtiaz Rashid Qureshi.

Qureshi told PTI that Shihab was very happy to get the visa to continue his journey to Mecca.

"He has brought a message of love, friendship and brotherhood," Qureshi said, adding he wanted to organise an event in Shihab's honour on the premises of Lahore High Court but could not do so because of security issues.

Shihab, who hails from Kerala, embarked on a 3,000-km journey on foot in October last year from his home state to the Wagah border where he was stopped by Pakistan's immigration authorities as he did not have a visa.

"Shihab pleaded before the immigration authorities that he was going to perform Hajj on foot and had already travelled 3,000 kms and should be allowed to enter the country on humanitarian grounds. He wanted a transit visa to reach Saudi Arabia via Iran," a Federal Investigation Agency official had said.

Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, considered the holiest city for Muslims.

Taj, a resident of Lahore, filed a petition in the Lahore High Court (LHC) requesting that Shihab be granted a transit visa to allow him to travel to Saudi Arabia.

He argued that just like the Pakistan government issues visas to Sikh pilgrims from India to take part in the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak and on other occasions, it should also grant a visa to Shihab.

Source: Times Of India

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/indian-enters-pakistan-to-complete-his-journey-on-foot-to-saudi-arabia-for-hajj/articleshow/97703053.cms

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PM Modi gets emotional over Turkey situation, recalls 2001 Bhuj earthquake

Feb 7, 2023

NEW DELHI: Condoling the deaths in the earthquake that shook Turkey and Syria, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday turned emotional and recalled the 2001 Bhuj earthquake that claimed thousands of lives in Gujarat.

The PM turned emotional while addressing MPs at the Bharatiya Janata Party parliamentary party meeting held this morning ahead of the start of proceedings of the ongoing Budget Session of Parliament, according to sources. He recalled the devastating 2001 Bhuj earthquake when he was the chief minister of Gujarat and spoke about the challenges posed for the rescue operations.

The Prime Minister also mentioned humanitarian assistance being provided by the Government of India to the disaster-hit country after a magnitude 7.8 quake rippled through both Turkey and Syria on Monday.

PM said he could very well relate to what Turkey was going through right now.

In 2001, a massive earthquake jolted Bhuj in Gujarat's Kutch district in which more than 20,000 people were killed and over 1.5 lakh people were injured. The earthquake left thousands homeless.

At least 4,372 deaths have been confirmed and thousands were injured after a powerful magnitude 7.8 earthquake rocked Turkey and Syria early Monday, according to officials and agencies, according to officials and agencies. In Syria, 1,451 deaths and 3,531 injuries have been reported by officials.

Thousands of buildings collapsed in both countries and aid agencies are particularly worried about north-western Syria, where more than 4 million people were already relying on humanitarian assistance.

The quake, one of the strongest to hit the region in more than 100 years, struck 23 kilometres (14.2 miles) east of Nurdagi, in Turkey's Gaziantep province, at a depth of 24.1 kilometres (14.9 miles), the US Geological Survey said.

India has sent the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team to Turkey after earthquakes jolted Turkey and Syria on Monday.

The first Indian Air Force plane carrying disaster relief material and rescue team to support search and rescue efforts in Turkey arrived today in Adana in the earthquake-hit country, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said.

India will be sending two more C17 aircraft with Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) to quake-hit Turkey along with 60 Para Field Hospital and personnel.

The C17 flight with over 50 personnel from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and a specially trained dog squad along with necessary equipment, including medical supplies, drilling machines and other equipment equired for the aid efforts had departed for Turkey early this morning.

Turkish Embassy in New Delhi tweeted: "First batch of earthquake relief material along with NDRF's special search and rescue teams and trained dog squads just arrived in Turkiye. Thank you India for your support and solidarity."

Source: Times Of India

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https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pm-modi-gets-emotional-over-turkey-situation-recalls-2001-bhuj-earthquake/articleshow/97687444.cms

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South Asia

 

Rights of Women, Girls Violated in Afghanistan: UN Secretary-General

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

February 8, 2023

While explaining the United Nation’s 2023 programs, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that Afghan women and girls have been ‘isolated’ due to the restrictions imposed by the country’s caretaker regime.

Mr. Guterres on Tuesday said the world needs a sustainable peace, that is in line with the United Nations resolutions and international laws.

While explaining the UN’s agendas for the year 2023 on peace and gender equality, Guterres emphasized the organizations’ continuous efforts towards restoring sustainable peace and fighting against the violation of women’s rights across the globe.

He has also warned that the growing tensions among some governments are worrying, therefore, a collective comprehensive approach is required to ease the tensions and move towards lasting peace and stability.

“Violation of women’s rights is rapidly increasing, and the ‘isolation’ of Afghan women and girls are a clear example,” he said.  Mr. Guterres has further added that the rights of women and girls have been violated in Afghanistan, and brutal terrorist attacks continue in the war-torn country.

Lack of gender equality and gender segregation has led to miserable living conditions for women and girls in Afghanistan. Henceforth, the UN’s focus for 2023 will be concentrated on achieving gender equality and sustainable peace worldwide.

Source: Khaama Press

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https://www.khaama.com/rights-of-women-girls-violated-in-afghanistan-un-secretary-general/

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40 Afghan Nationals Released From Karachi Prison: Taliban Officials

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

February 7, 2023

The Ministry of Refugee and Repatriation of Afghanistan today announced that 40 Afghan nationals including five families were released from a prison in Karachi, following the efforts of the Afghan Diplomatic Mission in Islamabad.

The released Afghan refugees will soon return to the country through the Spin Boldak land route, according to the ministry officials.

According to official sources, during search operations, Pakistani police have incarcerated Afghan migrants in different cities of Pakistan including, Karachi, Islamabad, and Rawalpindi over the past week on charges of failing to provide legal stay documents. 

Afghanistan’s Refugees and Repatriation Ministry in a statement said that the release of 160 Afghans imprisoned in Pakistan’s Landi and Peche prisons is under administrative procedures, and their release will be issued by the relevant court within the next couple of days. So far, there is no data on the exact number of Afghan nationals being detained in Pakistani prisons.

Refugee authorities in Islamabad say that the released prisoners will be transferred to Spin Boldak and will be received by Kandahar Refugee and Repatriation Department to manage their safe return to Afghanistan.

Over the past month, hundreds of Afghan nationals have been released from Pakistani prisons and returned to Afghanistan. Most of these refugees were undocumented Afghan nationals who had failed to provide legal stay permits (visas) in the host country. 

Since the overthrow of the previous regime in Afghanistan in August 2021, Pakistan experienced new waves of Afghan refugees, most of whom entered the country without visas through the Spin Boldak crossing point. In Pakistan, Afghan refugees are plagued with critical challenges including harassment, discrimination, unemployment, and worst of all the uncertain future that awaits them amid these difficult times.

Source: Khaama Press

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https://www.khaama.com/40-afghan-nationals-released-from-karachi-prison-taliban-officials/

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Saudi ‘exit’ from Kabul sparks fears of exodus

Tahir Khan

February 8, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Saudi diplomats’ departure from Kabul amid security concerns has sparked fears that at least three other countries were also planning to close their embassies in Afghanistan, though Taliban and other officials have dismissed such reports.

An Afghan Taliban official has confirmed to Dawn that Saudi Arabia has withdrawn its staff, but said the Saudis “have told us that they have withdrawn emb­a­ssy staff for a week-long training”.

After Saudi Arabia’s “temporary withdrawal” of staff, reports surfaced about the closure of the UAE, Qatari and Russian missions in Kabul.

However, the Afghan official, who did not wish to be identified, denied rumours about the closure of the UAE’s mission, saying that although the UAE did not have an ambassador there, the embassy was still being run by several diplomats.

Taliban dismiss reports of UAE mission closure; Qatar, Russia deny ‘evacuation’ of embassies

Meanwhile, Dr Mutlaq bin Majed Al Qahtani, the special envoy of Qatar’s foreign minister, met Taliban ministers on Sunday to discuss a host of “important developments in Afghanistan, especially in politics, economy, development, and education”.

On Monday, a senior Russian official also reiterated that his country had no plans to close its diplomatic mission in Kabul.

“Such thoughts have not even occurred,” Zamir Kabulov, director of the Foreign Ministry’s Second Asian Department, told the TASS news agency.

Separately, a Reuters report claimed on Monday that the Saudi diplomats had left by air and relocated to Pakistan late last week, but there has been no acknowledgement of this, either from Kabul or the Foreign Office in Islamabad.

Although the US and European countries have yet to reopen their embassies in Kabul, Pakistan was among the handful of countries — including Russia, China, Turkey and Iran — that continued to retain a diplomatic presence there.

Sources in the Pakistan embassy in Kabul also dismissed rumours of an evacuation of diplomats, but the country’s charge d’affaires in Afghanistan — Ubaidur Rehman Nizamani, who survived an assassination attempt on Dec 2 – has yet to return to his post.

Official sources insist Islamabad is still waiting for security assurances from the Afghan government before sending him back.

The militant Islamic State-Khurasan (IS-K) group had claimed the attack on MrNizamani. The same day, gunmen had stormed the central office of Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan as its chief Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was delivering a Friday sermon. Guards there killed two attackers, who were also said to be IS-K men.

Reports suggest that an IS-K resurgence has made foreign missions in the country uneasy, with the group claiming attacks on Pakistani and Russian embassies and a hotel run and frequented by Chinese nationals. While Taliban officials always downplay any threat, the international community is wary of their claims.

In the immediate aftermath of the US evacuation from Kabul, the group claimed the attack on Kabul International Airport, which took at least 183 lives. It has also staged deadly attacks in southern Kandahar and northern Kunduz provinces.

Pakistan’s former envoy to Kabul, Mansoor Khan, told Dawn that the militant Islamic State group had been a serious threat in Afghanistan for many years, and after the Taliban takeover in Aug 2021, several intelligence agencies have said in their assessments that the number of IS-aligned fighters in various parts of the country has been on the rise.

In his view, the Afghan interim government should bolster cooperation with its neighbours for cooperation in counterterrorism actions to combat IS-K and other terrorist groups, such as the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Source: Dawn

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https://www.dawn.com/news/1735959/saudi-exit-from-kabul-sparks-fears-of-exodus

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Kabul, Jalalabad among the most earthquake-prone cities in Afghanistan: Report

By Fidel Rahmati

February 8, 2023

Afghanistan lies in a seismically active zone, and earthquakes pose a severe threat to many regions of the country, including densely populated urban centres.

The country is earthquake-prone because it is located in the mountainous Hindu Kush region, divided into the Central Highlands, which are part of the Himalayas, the Southwestern Plateau, and the country’s fertile Northern Plains.

Over the last decade, more than 7,000 people have died due to earthquakes in Afghanistan, with an average of 560 deaths per year. The Chaman, Hari Rud, Central Badakhshan, and Darvaz faults are expected to pose the greatest seismic danger of the potentially active faults.

These faults can produce 7 to 8 Magnitude earthquakes. Among these faults, the Chaman fault is the likelihood of solid shaking, impacting North-eastern Afghanistan.

Furthermore, Afghanistan’s northeastern region faces a high earthquake risk due to its borders with Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.

Kabul is among the vulnerable and at high risk of severe earthquake impacts in the country due to its proximity to the Chaman fault and unplanned, nonstandard rapid urbanization and population growth in recent years.

Jalalabad is in the same seismic zone as Kabul and has historically suffered more large-scale earthquakes.

In addition, Khost city was struck by a 5.9 magnitude earthquake in eastern Afghanistan last year, killing at least 920 people. Khost is another city close to the neighbouring country’s border, Pakistan. Over the past five years, the city has recorded nearly 50 quakes, according to the US Geological Survey.

The severe shaking of the earthquake in Afghanistan is estimated to have caused extensive infrastructure damage in Kabul and Jalalabad. Approximately 30 per cent of infrastructure will collapse if exposed to severe shaking, and 60 per cent will suffer damage.

The reason could be the building and construction, which has not seismically sound, as stated by the office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Source: Khaama Press

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https://www.khaama.com/kabul-jalalabad-among-the-most-earthquake-prone-cities-in-afghanistan-report/

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Afghanistan: Taliban 'desperate' for resumption of flights to India

AjeyoBasu

February 08, 2023

Kabul: With the global community yet to recognise the current regime in Kabul, the Afghan Taliban is reportedly desperate for flights to resume between India and Afghanistan.

According to a Hindustan Times report, the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan are optimistic that India will agree to resume direct flights between New Delhi and Kandahar.

The Afghan Taliban’s hopes of resumption of flights between India and Afghanistan gained a fresh lease of life after flights resumed between Kandahar and Dubai.

Last week, the Taliban had welcomed India’s budget for the 2023-24 financial year, saying that the announcement of aid by India for Afghanistan would help improve ties and trust between the two nations.

Khaama Press reported that the remarks by the Taliban came after India’s finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed a $25 million development aid package for Afghanistan.

Source:Firstpost

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.firstpost.com/world/afghanistan-taliban-desperate-for-resumption-of-flights-to-india-12121022.html

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Afghanistan: Taliban issuing gun licences to traders, businessmen as abductions soar

AjeyoBasu

February 07, 2023

Kabul: In a somewhat hilarious decision, the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan have decided to provide gun licenses to traders in the capital Kabul.

The Taliban’s security department in Kabul has announced that businessmen in Afghanistan’s capital will be provided with security and gun licences.

According to a report by Tolo News, the Taliban arrived at the decision after a series of meetings with traders in Kabul.

Khalid Zadran, a spokesman for the security department in Kabul, informed the local media the Taliban will provide security for traders as well as common citizens in Afghanistan.

“We not only pay attention to the security situation of the citizens but also the traders. We have meetings with them (traders) at the end of every month ad every week and discuss their security issues in coordination with them,” Zadran was quoted as saying by Tolo News.

According to the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment (ACCI), around 350 gun licenses have been issued to Afghan businessmen.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has helped the private sector in security issues. In only one day, it issued 350 licenses for weapons and also provided any kind of help we asked them for,” acting head of the ACCI, Mohammad Younus Momand said.

This move by the Taliban comes after the media reported the abduction of 13 traders in Afghanistan. However, the security department in Kabul had denied those reports.

This decision by the Taliban is somewhat ironic as lethal weapons, including Kalashikov rifles and rocket launchers are freely available all over Afghanistan.

The militaristic Afghan culture, which promotes the possession of weapons by men, coupled with the unstable security situation of Afghanistan has resulted in a large section of the population owning guns.

Source: Firstpost

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.firstpost.com/world/afghanistan-taliban-issuing-gun-licences-to-traders-businessmen-as-abductions-soar-12117152.html

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Turkey, UAE to Reduce Missions in Afghanistan Over ‘Security Concerns’

By Fidel Rahmati

February 8, 2023

According to sources, the embassies of Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Afghanistan seek to reduce their missions due to security concerns following reports that international staff received threatening letters from unknown parties.

According to anonymous sources in the Taliban government in Kabul, “the Turkish embassy has the plan to decrease its diplomatic activity in Kabul due to various security concerns.” At the same time,” the UAE wants to move its diplomatic mission to a small office before closing its embassy.” However, sources said neither the UAE nor Turkey had confirmed the matter.

Earlier last week, Saudi Arabia closed its embassy in Kabul amid warnings of heightened risks of attacks in the Afghan capital Kabul. The official authorities confirmed that the diplomatic and employees of the embassy had been evacuated to Islamabad, and the exact return date is unclear.

According to a Saudi foreign ministry official, ISIS was plotting an attack on the Saudi diplomatic mission in Kabul with a car bomb. The threats compelled them to close the embassy and relocate its staff to Islamabad.

However, a Taliban spokesman stated that Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic mission has travelled to Riyadh for training and will return soon.

Source: Khaama Press

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https://www.khaama.com/turkey-uae-to-reduce-missions-in-afghanistan-over-security-concerns/

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Exiled Afghan Journalist Wants to Sell his Kidney for Survival

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

February 7, 2023

An Afghan journalist who feared death treads and fled to Pakistan now wants to sell his kidney to cope with the serious economic challenges he is plagued with.

Sami Jahesh, an Afghan Journalist currently residing in Pakistan Tuesday said on Twitter ‘I have no money, no food to eat, no other option, but to sell my kidney’. 

Jahesh took on Twitter by posting one of his pictures and WhatsApp number, asking people who need kidney to directly contact him.

Prior to the recent regime change in Afghanistan, Jahesh used to work for Aryana News, a private broadcasting channel in Afghanistan. After the Taliban seized power in August 2021, he fled to Pakistan fearing death threats and persecution under the Taliban regime.

According to his relatives, Jahesh was bitten and harassed by the de facto authorities of Afghanistan a couple of times. Many Afghan journalists who fled the Taliban regime, now live in desperation and uncertainty in Pakistan and other neighboring counties.

Since the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul in August 2021, thousands of Afghans migrated to the neighboring countries. A large group of journalists, human rights activists, and civil society members also left the country for fear of persecution and killing by the ruling regime. 

Many Afghan journalists and human rights activists expected to be transferred from the neighboring countries to one of the refugee-accepting states still remain in Pakistan and Iran and are struggling with grave economic challenges.

Groups of Afghan journalists have already protested and called on organizations supporting journalists, however, they have been long forgotten and left in complete desperation in Pakistan.

Source: Khaama Press

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/exiled-afghan-journalist-wants-to-sell-his-kidney-for-survival/

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Pakistan

 

12 TTP terrorists killed in intelligence-based operation in KP’s LakkiMarwat: ISPR

Naveed Siddiqui

February 8, 2023

Security forces killed 12 terrorists of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) during an intelligence-based operation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s LakkiMarwat area, the military’s media wing said on Wednesday.

According to a statement issued by the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), security forces and the terrorists exchanged fire late Tuesday night during which the militants were killed.

“Terrorists’ movement and activities were being watched by intelligence tentacles for the last one week. Terrorists were lured in by providing a vehicle for escape that was intercepted and neutralised,” the ISPR said.

Weapons, ammunition and Afghan currency were also recovered from the terrorists during the operation, it stated, adding that security forces were carrying out a clearance operation in the area.

“Locals appreciated the operation and lauded the efforts of Pakistan Army in eliminating terrorism,” the statement concluded.

Over the past few months, the law and order situation in the country has worsened, with terrorist groups executing attacks with near impunity across the country.

Since the talks with the TTP broke down in November, the militant group has intensified its attacks, particularly targeting the police in KP and areas bordering Afghanistan. Insurgents in Balochistan have also stepped up their violent activities and formalised a nexus with the outlawed TTP.

According to statistics released by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS), January 2023 remained one of the deadliest months since July 2018, as 134 people lost their lives — a 139 per cent spike — and 254 received injuries in at least 44 militant attacks across the country.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1736001/12-ttp-terrorists-killed-in-intelligence-based-operation-in-kps-lakki-marwat-ispr

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Peshawar Mosque Attack Conspiracy Hatched in Afghanistan: Pakistan

By Fidel Rahmati

February 7, 2023

The investigation has revealed that the plot to target a heavily protected mosque in the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province was hatched in Afghanistan and supported by their intelligence agency, Pakistan’s law enforcement officials said on Tuesday.

On January 30, a bomb blast occurred at a mosque in Peshawar during the afternoon players, killing 101 people and injuring more than 200 others. The attacker was in police uniform and riding a motorcycle with a helmet and mask on, entered the high-security zone, officials said.

The Peshawar mosque suicide attack plot was developed in Afghanistan and supported by the Kabul-based intelligence agency, officials stated.

The Taliban-led government in Afghanistan have not yet commented on the matter.

Recently, Tahreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has increased its attack across the country since the ending of its unilateral ceasefire with the government in November, targeting police officers, government officials, foreign citizens, and the military area.

On the other hand, in the recent past, Pakistani leadership has repeatedly accused Afghan authorities of giving sanctuaries to the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other militant groups to attack Pakistan.

However, Afghan Taliban officials, in response to the accusation, have said they will not allow Afghanistan’s soil to utilize against Pakistan or other neighbouring countries.

Source: Khaama Press

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.khaama.com/peshawar-mosque-attack-conspiracy-hatched-in-afghanistan-pakistan/

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Religious decrees given in light of Quran, Sunnah acceptable, implementable: Ashrafi

7 Feb 2023

ISLAMABAD, Feb 7 (APP): Special Representative of the Prime Minister on Interfaith Harmony and Middle East Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi on Tuesday said only those Fatwas (religious decrees) were acceptable and implementable which were given in the light of the Holy Quran and Sunnah.

Talking to media, the prime minister’s aide who is on a visit to Indonesia these days said Islam did not prevent interfaith dialogue and protected the rights of minority communities.

Ashrafi who is also the chairman of Pakistan Ulema Council and Secretary General of International Tazim-e- HaramainSharifain Council urged the Muslim Ummah to play a proactive role in a bid to mitigate the menace of Islamophobia. Terrorism and extremism had badly harmed Muslims and Islam, he added.

He said there was a huge responsibility of world religious leaders to educate the people of all faiths about peaceful coexistence as the incidents of desecration of Islamic sanctities and values were continuously increasing in European countries, the US and Canada.

He urged unity in all ranks of Muslims because the blood of oppressed people of Kashmir and Palestine was being shed for decades now.

He expressed the hope that the religious leaders and peace-loving people should come forward for practical measures to resolve the Kashmir and Palestine issues.

Ashrafi said Ulema must use modern means of communication to propagate the true moral ethics of the Holy Prophet Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him and teachings of Islam worldwide.

Source: APP

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.app.com.pk/national/religious-decrees-given-in-light-of-quran-sunnah-acceptable-implementable-ashrafi/

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Sindh to dispatch 100,000 tents to Turkiye: Sharjeel

February 8, 2023

KARACHI: The Sindh government will send 100,000 tents to Turkiye to provide shelter to the earthquake-hit people.

Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon said in a statement that the earthquake had caused extensive damages in Turkiye and Syria and the people of Sindh are with their brethren in this difficult time.

He said that the provincial cabinet in its meeting on Monday had approved 100,000 tents for the affected people in Turkiye which had provided immense support and relief assistance to the flood victims of Sindh.

“We can never forget the generosity and services rendered by the Turkish government and people in every difficult time,” he added.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1735938/sindh-to-dispatch-100000-tents-to-turkiye-sharjeel

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Pervez Musharraf laid to rest; several retired and serving military officers attend funeral prayers

Feb 7, 2023

KARACHI: Pakistan's former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf was on Tuesday laid to rest with full military honours in an army graveyard here in the presence of his relatives and several retired and serving military officers.

The 79-year-old former president's funeral prayers were held at the Gulmohar Polo Ground in Malir Cantonment in the afternoon in a low key ceremony which was neither attended by President ArifAlvi, nor Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

However, Joint Chiefs of Staff General Sahir Shamshad Mirza and former army chiefs - Qamar JavedBajwa, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Aslam Beg - attended the funeral.

Former ISI chiefs - General (retd) Shuja Pasha and General (retd) Zaheerul Islam - and several serving and retired military officers also attended the funeral prayers.

Politicians including MuttahidaQaumi Movement (Pakistan) leaders Khalid Maqbool Siddiqi, Dr Farooq Sattar, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Amir Muqam, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf leader and former Sindh governor Imran Ismail, former federal information minister Javed Jabbar, were also in attendance.

No top leaders from the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party in the Sindh province or the Jamaat-e-Islaami were present at the final rites.

Musharraf's coffin was draped in Pakistan's green and white flag, though the ceremony was not a state funeral.

The casket of Musharraf was then taken to the army graveyard reserved for top officials on Shahrah-e-Faisal and buried there with full military honours and protocol.

Tahir Hussain, who has been Musharraf's spokesman in Karachi since the ex-ruler formed his party - the APML - in October 2010, said a large number of military officials, senior bureaucrats and businessmen attended the funeral prayers under military security.

Musharraf, the architect of the Kargil War in 1999 and Pakistan's last military ruler, died on Sunday in Dubai after a prolonged illness. The former president was undergoing treatment for amyloidosis in Dubai. He was living in the UAE since 2016 in self-exile to avoid criminal charges back home.

Musharraf's mortal remains arrived here on Monday on a special flight from Dubai.

His wife Saba, son Bilal, daughter and other close relatives arrived with the body on the special aircraft of Malta aviation arranged by the UAE authorities.

The aircraft touched down at the old terminal area of the Jinnah International Airport amid heavy security with the former president's family and the body was taken to the Malir Cantonment area, officials said.

His mother was buried in Dubai while father was laid to rest in Karachi.

Musharraf enjoyed immense support and popularity among many but also hated and vilified by the bar councils, civil rights groups and political parties for his anti-democratic actions.

On Monday, sharp differences among political leaders came to the fore in Senate over the offering of prayers for the former military ruler. Pakistani Parliament follows a tradition of offering Fateha (prayers) for the departed soul when a leading politician or personality of the country dies.

The members of the Senate, the upper House of Parliament, hurled allegations against one another for supporting dictatorial regimes and violators of the Constitution when the issue of prayers for Musharraf came up.

The move of supplication was led by the leader of the opposition in the senate Senator Shehzad Wasim of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party and supported by other members of his party.

When Senator Mushtaq Ahmad of rightwing Jamaat-i-Islami, who was about to lead a joint invocation for those killed in the earthquake in Turkey, was asked to also pray for Musharraf's soul, he refused by saying that he would only lead the invocation for the quake victims.

The refusal led to vociferous exchanges among lawmakers with some members reminding Senator Mushtaq that his party had also once supported Musharraf.

Later, the PTI lawmakers led by Senator Wasim, who was given a break in politics by Musharraf, offered a customary prayer while the treasury senators refused to join them.

The split in the upper House over offering a prayer for a dead person was rare and an apt reflection of Musharraf's chequered legacy.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pervez-musharraf-laid-to-rest-several-retired-and-serving-military-officers-attend-funeral-prayers/articleshow/97700901.cms

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PM Shehbaz’s visit to Turkiye postponed due to relief activities: Aurangzeb

Sanaullah Khan

February 8, 2023

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to Turkiye scheduled for today has been postponed due to the “ongoing relief efforts” there after a major 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck parts of Turkiye and Syria on Monday morning, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb confirmed.

The premier was set to leave for Turkey today. He had also set up a relief fund along with sending a 51-member rescue team.

The All Parties Conference (APC) called to discuss the national security situation, which was rescheduled for Feb 9, had also been postponed for a second time for this very reason.

It is not clear yet when the multi-party moot would be held, considering the prime minister’s visit has been postponed.

Pakistan aids in relief efforts

The devastating earthquake, which had its epicentre in Kahramanmaras in central Turkiye, has claimed more than 8,300 lives in Turkiye and Syria till now, with thousands injured and many still trapped under rubble.

The quake tremors were felt as far away as Greenland while multiple aftershocks of huge magnitudes and extreme winter weather further worsened the situation.

On Tuesday morning, the first batch of relief items from Pakistan reached Turkiye, a Pakistan Air Force spokesperson said.

Separately, in a tweet on Tuesday, Aurangzeb announced that the federal cabinet had also decided to donate their one-month salary to the relief fund.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1736011/pm-shehbazs-visit-to-turkiye-postponed-due-to-relief-activities-aurangzeb

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Amid spate of arrests, Imran gives army chief ‘benefit of doubt’

Zulqernain Tahir

February 8, 2023

LAHORE: A week after his party urged the president to take notice of “brazen interference by intelligence agencies and some sections of the establishment” in politics, PTI chief Imran Khan on Tuesday gave Army Chief Gen Asim Munir the “benefit of the doubt”.

The remarks by the former prime minister came in the wake of a spate of arrests, which did not spare his close aides and allies, and an ostensible delay in the elections for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab assemblies.

Imran Khan, who met journalists at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore, talked about elections, the ‘Jail Bharo’ (court arrest) movement, the economy, the incumbent government and multiparty moot, and his relationship with former army chief Gen Qamar JavedBajwa.

When asked if MrBajwa’s successor was following the former chief’s policies with regards to the PTI, Mr Khan responded that Gen Munir had been in office for mere two months and he was willing to give him the “benefit of the doubt”. He, however, claimed that there was a “visible” chasm between the army and the public, something he described as “very dangerous” for the country.

PTI chief claims Gen Bajwa struck deal with Nawaz in return for his extension

As he compared his ouster via a no-confidence vote with the coup against the government of Nawaz Sharif in 1999, Imran Khan claimed that people celebrated when Mr Sharif was removed from power, but in response to Mr Khan’s ouster, the public thronged the streets as it did not like the “establishment siding with corrupt politicians” of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).

The former premier spent a better part of the conversation talking about Nawaz Sharif, who has been in self-imposed exile in London since 2019 owing to health reasons.

“Nawaz has set two conditions for his return — my disqualification and victory in Punjab polls,” Mr Khan said. “But let me tell you that my disqualification is not possible in any of the fake cases they have instituted against me if legal procedures are followed.”

Talking about the ruling coalition’s plan, Imran Khan claimed, “The PDM will ensure my disqualification and arrest, institute cases against my party leaders; once it is certain that PTI has gotten weak, it will go for elections and utilise all resources at hand to massively rig them.”

Asked if he had limited options to push the PDM for polls in both provinces after quitting parliament and dissolving both provincial assemblies, the former prime minister said, “No … how long the PDM will be running away from elections. Whenever they are held, PTI will win. Mark my words.”

Mr Khan also compared his party with the Pakistan Peoples Party during the dictatorship of Gen Ziaul Haq in the 80s. “Through oppression, the political parties do not get weak, but rather emerge stronger. Take the example of PPP, which faced oppression at the hands of Gen Zia,” he added.

Speaking about the “court arrest” movement, which he announced last week, Imran Khan said he would be at the forefront of the struggle. “I will be leading the Jail Bharo Tehreek — which is a non-violent drive — after recovering from bullet wounds in two weeks or so,” he said, adding that preparations have been started in this regard.

Mr Khan added that the PDM could not delay the elections in two provinces beyond 90 days without violating the Constitution.

In a comment on the interim government in Punjab led by Mohsin Naqvi, Mr Khan alleged that Shehbaz Sharif was “directly controlling” the province. “What is happening to us today in Punjab might have happened when the tenure of the assemblies would have completed,” he said to a question about whether he regretted the decision to disband the assemblies.

‘Nawaz-Bajwa deal’

The former prime minister once again admitted that his decision to grant former army chief MrBajwa a three-year extension was a “big blunder”. He claimed that “Nawaz Sharif and company had struck a deal” with MrBajwa in return for endorsing his extension in parliament. In return, MrBajwa started securing relief for Nawaz and others in the corruption cases, Imran Khan alleged.

After cases against the Sharifs were halted in NAB, a “regime change plan” was hatched, which I came to know of in October 2021, Mr Khan claimed. He added that his government and MrBajwa were on the same page until the latter struck a deal with the PML-N supremo.

Though PTI has yet to make up its mind regarding the multiparty conference, which has been postponed twice, Imran Khan questioned the need for such a moot and said the government should take measures to address terrorism, “as the PTI did in its tenure”.

He reiterated that the Afghan Taliban government was not anti-Pakistan and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari should have visited Kabul to take up matters with the regime. “We have a 2,500km-long border with Afghanistan and we cannot afford any trouble there,” he said.

It may be noted here that State Minister for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar did visit Kabul last year.

Speaking about the economic situation, Mr Khan said the government had no other option but to go to the IMF. “Economic stability can come in Pakistan only through elections and not through auction … this everyone will have to understand as they (government) have tried everything but failed to stabilise the economy,” Mr Khan declared.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1735961/amid-spate-of-arrests-imran-gives-army-chief-benefit-of-doubt

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Arab World

 

Engineers, search dogs sent to Turkey, Syria after quake

Feb 8, 2023

Structural engineers, soldiers, paramedics and handlers with trained search dogs are heading to Turkey and Syria to help locate and rescue survivors of Monday’s earthquake. Here's a glance at the assistance being provided:

The European Union has mobilized search and rescue teams to help Turkey, while the bloc's Copernicus satellite system has been activated to provide emergency mapping services. At least 19 member countries have offered assistance. The European Commission is also helping neighboring Syria by funding humanitarian organizations supervising search and rescue operations.

The United States is coordinating immediate assistance to Turkey, including teams to support search and rescue efforts. In California, nearly 100 Los Angeles County firefighters and structural engineers, along with six specially trained dogs, were being sent to Turkey.

War-ravaged Syria called for the United Nations and its members to help with rescue efforts, health services, shelter and food aid. Both government-held territory and the last opposition-held enclave were damaged by the earthquake.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has sent enough surgical material to treat 100 people to one of the public hospitals in the Syrian city of Aleppo. More medical equipment is on its way to Aleppo, Latakia and Tartous. The Red Cross also is donating canned food, blankets, mattresses and other essential items for distribution in the many shelters being set-up in affected areas.

Russian rescue teams from the Emergencies Ministry were sent to Syria, where Russian military deployed in that country already has sent 10 units comprising 300 people to help clear debris and search for survivors. The Russian military has set up points to distribute humanitarian assistance. Russia also has offered help to Turkey, which has been accepted.

The Israeli army is sending a search and rescue team of 150 engineers, medical personnel and other aid workers to render lifesaving aid in Turkey. The two countries are mending ties after years of tensions. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he has also approved a request for humanitarian aid for Syria. Israel and Syria do not have diplomatic relations.

A team of 82 rescuers sent by the Chinese government has arrived in Adana, Turkey. They include specialists in search and rescue as well as medical treatment, and they brought in 21 tons of rescue equipment and supplies. China's CCTV also said a non-governmental rescue and search organization from Zhejiang province also sent an advanced team to Turkey.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said the Palestinian Authority will dispatch two humanitarian missions to assist in Syria and Turkey. The aid missions will include civil defense and medical teams.

Neighbor and historic rival Greece is sending Turkey a team of 21 rescuers, two rescue dogs and a special rescue vehicle, together with a structural engineer, five doctors and seismic planning experts in a military transport plane.

The Lebanese army says it will send a team of 15 members of the military’s engineering regiment to neighboring Syria to help in rescue operations in government-held parts of the country. Tuesday’s announcement came a day after the army sent 20 members of the same regiment to Turkey to help rescuers there who are racing to find survivors.

One of Libya’s rival governments said it will dispatch a 55-member team to Turkey to help in rescue efforts. The government of Prime Minister Abdel Hamid Dbeibah said the team would include rescuers, medical members along with four dogs.

Spanish medical workers will set up a field hospital in Turkey to treat the wounded. Spain has mobilized troops and drones from the country’s Military Emergency Unit to Malatya airport, where the Turkish authorities have installed an international aid center. Spain will also contribute to aid efforts through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Spain will also contribute to rescue efforts in Syria through NGOs operating there.

Germany’s THW civil protection agency is sending a 50-member rescue team to Turkey on Tuesday. A team from the group International Search and Rescue Germany, with 42 experts and seven dogs, has arrived in Turkey and is heading to Kirikhan, near the Syrian border. Germany also has been readying deliveries of emergency generators, tents, blankets and water treatment equipment.

A South Korean military aircraft transporting a 118-person team of rescue and search workers and troops is headed to Turkey. It's also sending medical supplies and pledging other humanitarian support.

Pakistan has sent one flight of relief supplies and another carrying a 50-member search and rescue team. The government says daily aid flights to Syria and Turkey will start Wednesday, and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif set up a relief fund, urging people to donate generously. The federal cabinet is donating a month’s salary and all government employees are donating a day’s salary toward it.

Britain is sending 76 search-and-rescue specialists with equipment and dogs, as well as an emergency medical team, to Turkey. The U.K. also says it’s in contact with the U.N. about getting support to victims in Syria.

India is sending 100 search and rescue personnel from its Natural Disaster Response Force to Turkey, as well as specially trained dog squads and equipment for relief efforts. Medical teams with trained doctors, paramedics and essential medicines are also ready, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

Taiwan is sending 130 rescue squad members, five search dogs and 13 tons of equipment to Turkey. Interior Minister Lin Yu-chang said the first group left for Turkey late Monday and another was sent Tuesday. Taiwan earlier said it would donate $200,000 to Turkey.

Swiss rescue dog service REDOG is sending 22 rescuers with 14 dogs to Turkey. The government said it would also send 80 search and rescue specialists to the country, including army disaster experts.

The Czech Republic is sending Turkey a team of 68 rescuers, including firefighters, doctors, structural engineers and also experts with sniffer dogs.

Japan is sending a group of about 75 rescue workers to Turkey.

Austria has offered to send 84 soldiers from a military disaster relief unit to Turkey.

Poland is sending Turkey 76 firefighters and eight trained dogs, with equipment.

Romania is sending specialized personnel and material to Turkey on two military aircraft.

Croatia is sending 40 personnel and 10 dogs, rescue equipment and vans to Turkey.

Serbia is sending 21 rescuers and three liaison officers to Turkey.

Montenegro is sending at least 24 firefighters to Turkey.

Moldova's president says 55 rescue workers have been sent to Turkey.

France is dispatching rescue teams to Turkey.

Jordan is sending emergency aid to Syria and Turkey on the orders of King Abdullah II.

Mexico’s foreign affairs secretary said the country will send equipment and rescue specialists to Turkey.

Egypt has pledged urgent humanitarian aid to Turkey.

Italy’s Civil Protection Agency has offered assistance to Turkey. A firefighting team was preparing to leave from Pisa, and the Italian military says transport flights will carry equipment as well as health and other personnel.

New Zealand is providing $632,000 to the Turkish Red Crescent and $316,000 to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to deliver items such as food, tents and blankets, as well as provide medical assistance and psychological support.

China’s Red Cross Society is providing the Turkish Red Crescent and the Syrian Red Crescent with $200,000 each in humanitarian assistance.

Albania and Kosovo have sent emergency teams to Turkey to assist in search and rescue. Albania’s 53-member team consists of firefighters and army and health personnel.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/engineers-search-dogs-sent-to-turkey-syria-after-quake/articleshow/97716136.cms

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Children pulled from rubble as Turkiye-Syria quake toll tops 8,300

February 8, 2023

Heartrending scenes of a newborn plucked alive from the rubble and a broken father clutching his dead daughter’s hand have laid bare the human cost of violent earthquakes in Syria and Turkiye that by Wednesday had claimed 8,300 lives.

For two days and nights since the 7.8 magnitude quake an impromptu army of rescuers have worked in freezing temperatures to find those still entombed among ruins that pockmark several cities either side of the border.

Officially, the death toll from the disaster now stands at 8,364. But that could yet double if the worst fears of experts are realised.

The World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that time is running out for the thousands injured and those still feared trapped.

For Mesut Hancer — a resident of Turkish city Kahramanmaras, near the epicentre — it is already too late.

He sat on the freezing rubble, too grief-stricken to speak, refusing to let go of his 15-year-old daughter Irmak’s hand as her body lay lifeless among the slabs of concrete and strands of twisted rebar.

‘Children are freezing’

Even for survivors, the future seems bleak.

Many have taken refuge from relentless aftershocks, cold rain and snow in mosques, schools and even bus shelters — burning debris to stay alive. Frustration is growing that help has been slow to arrive.

“I can’t get my brother back from the ruins. I can’t get my nephew back. Look around here. There is no state official here, for God’s sake,” said Ali Sagiroglu in Kahramanmaras.

“For two days we haven’t seen the state around here… Children are freezing from the cold,” he said.

In nearby Gaziantep, shops are closed, there is no heat because gas lines have been cut to avoid explosions, and finding petrol is tough.

Sixty-one-year-old resident Celal Deniz said the police had to intervene when impatient crowds waiting for rescue teams “revolted”.

About 100 others wrapped in blankets slept in the lounge of an airport terminal normally used to welcome Turkish politicians and celebrities.

“We saw the buildings collapse so we know we are lucky to be alive,” said ZahideSutcu, who went to the airport with her two small children.

“But now our lives have so much uncertainty. How will I look after these children?”

Across the border in northern Syria, a decade of civil war and Syrian-Russian aerial bombardment had already destroyed hospitals, collapsed the economy and prompted electricity, fuel and water shortages.

In the rebel-controlled town of Jindayris, even the joy of rescuing a newborn baby was tainted with sadness.

She was still tethered to her mother who was killed in the disaster.

“We heard a voice while we were digging,” Khalil al-Suwadi, a relative, told AFP.

“We cleared the dust and found the baby with the umbilical cord (intact) so we cut it and my cousin took her to hospital.”

The infant faces a difficult future as the sole survivor among her immediate family. The rest were buried together in a mass grave on Tuesday.

International response

Dozens of nations including the United States, China and the Gulf States have pledged to help, and search teams as well as relief supplies have begun to arrive by air.

A winter storm has compounded the misery by rendering many roads — some of them damaged by the quake — almost impassable, resulting in traffic jams that stretch for kilometres in some regions.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared a three-month state of emergency in 10 southeastern provinces.

The World Health Organization has warned that up to 23 million people could be affected by the massive earthquake and urged nations to rush help to the disaster zone.

The Syrian Red Crescent appealed to Western countries to lift sanctions and provide aid as President Bashar al-Assad’s government remains a pariah in the West, complicating international relief efforts.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States would not work with the Damascus government.

“These funds, of course, go to the Syrian people — not to the regime. That won’t change,” he said.

Aid agencies have also asked the Syrian government to allow border crossings to be reopened to bring help to rebel-held areas.

The Turkiye-Syria border is one of the world’s most active earthquake zones. Monday’s earthquake was the largest Turkiye has seen since 1939, when 33,000 people died in the eastern Erzincan province.

In 1999, a 7.4-magnitude earthquake killed more than 17,000.

Experts have long warned a large quake could devastate Istanbul, a megalopolis of 16 million people filled with rickety homes.

Pakistan dispatches first batch of relief items to Syria

On Wednesday morning, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) dispatched the first batch of relief items to Syrian capital Damascus via a Pakistan International Airline (PIA) flight.

The relief supplies include 260 tents and 2600 blankets. It stated that a medical team will also leave for the quake-hit country tomorrow (Thursday).

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1736010/children-pulled-from-rubble-as-turkiye-syria-quake-toll-tops-8300

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Two UAE relief planes arrive in earthquake-hit Syria

08 February ,2023

The United Arab Emirates’ Joint Operations Command of the Ministry of Defense has announced the arrival of two aircraft carrying humanitarian aid from the UAE at the Damascus Airport as part of the airlift launched to stand by the people affected by the earthquake that struck Syria.

A total of 12 tonnes of essential supplies and several tents to lodge 216 displaced people are part of the initial aid package that falls within the 'Gallant Knight / 2' operation on its first day, state news agency WAM reported Wednesday.

The United Arab Emirates Tuesday pledged $100 million to Syria and Turkey, one of the largest sums yet following a massive earthquake that killed more than 6,256 people across both countries.

The Gulf nation – which had already pledged some $13.6 million to Syria – is spearheading regional relief efforts, having dispatched planes to both countries with relief items and rescue teams following the 7.8-magnitude quake that struck early Monday.

The United Arab Emirates Tuesday pledged $100 million to Syria and Turkey, one of the largest sums yet following a massive earthquake that killed more than 6,256 people across both countries.

The Gulf nation – which had already pledged some $13.6 million to Syria – is spearheading regional relief efforts, having dispatched planes to both countries with relief items and rescue teams following the 7.8-magnitude quake that struck early Monday.

Countries across the world have pledged humanitarian aid following Monday’s disaster.

Egypt on Tuesday sent five plane-loads of medical supplies to victims of the earthquake in Syria and Turkey, according to a statement by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/08/Two-UAE-relief-planes-arrive-in-earthquake-hit-Syria

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State Department hits back at claims that sanctions are blocking Syria earthquake aid

08 February ,2023

The State Department on Tuesday hit back at what it said were inaccurate press reports about US sanctions impeding the delivery of humanitarian aid to Syrians impacted by the devastating earthquake over the weekend.

Assad regime officials and their allies, including Iran-backed Hezbollah supporters, have been claiming that American sanctions are preventing badly needed aid from getting to areas that were destroyed.

Assad and Hezbollah supporters took to Twitter and used hashtags, blaming US sanctions and a so-called siege on Syria.

“Any US or international sanctions include humanitarian, medical, food, and other aid exemptions. US President Joe Biden was clear when he said the US was prepared to provide any and all types of aid to the people of Syria, and the US is not preventing any countries from doing so,” a State Department official said in Arabic.

“The United States stands by the Syrian people,” the official said in a video posted to Twitter.

On Monday, Biden issued a statement saying he was “deeply saddened by the loss of life and devastation caused by the earthquake in Turkey and Syria.” He said that he had ordered all needed assistance to be delivered.

It is worth noting that the earthquake destroyed large swathes of territory in northeastern Syria, which is not under the Syrian government’s control. However, a small part of the government-held territory in Aleppo was hit hard.

While the majority of Syria is under the control of the government in Damascus, most of the north is controlled by different — and sometimes conflicting — groups. The northwest is divided between land de facto controlled by Turkey and by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a insurgent group with ties to al-Qaeda. Syria’s northeast is mostly held by US-backed Kurdish-led groups.

International search teams may be reluctant to enter earthquake-affected areas controlled by HTS, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the US

Syrian Civil Defense members, also known as the White Helmets, have been at the forefront of rescue efforts in the aftermath of the earthquake killing at least 7,000 people in Syria and Turkey.

But Turkey, Russia and Syria’s refusal to open cross-border points for international aid has also badly impaired efforts to get food, medicine and other staples to those in need.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/08/State-Department-hits-back-at-claims-that-sanctions-are-blocking-Syria-earthquake-aid

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Lebanese MP delivers petition to US: Sanction obstructers of Beirut blast probe

07 February ,2023

A leading Lebanese opposition MP recently delivered a petition to US officials signed by expatriates and local residents, calling for sanctions against Lebanon’s current and former officials who are obstructing investigations into the Port of Beirut blast.

The letter, signed by more than 30 groups and organizations inside and outside of Lebanon, called for the governments of EU countries, Australia, Canada, Japan, the UK, and the US to take measures and sanction “perpetrators accountable” in the deadly 2020 explosion.

Lead investigator Tarek Bitar has faced several obstacles by the political elite and judges they back, blocking him from being able to subpoena suspects for questioning.

Hezbollah and its allies have been the main sides blocking Bitar’s work, with the Iran-backed group reportedly going as far as threatening “to remove” the judge.

Bitar has received death threats, been issued a travel ban by Lebanese courts, and had charges filed against him for efforts to question sitting and former officials.

“Other forms of obstruction that the investigation faced include officials not showing up when subpoenaed, judicial and administrative stalling tactics, as well as the use of violence by some political actors,” read the letter, which was seen by Al Arabiya English.

The groups said their call for international sanctions was due to the Lebanese state’s failure to comply with international obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention Against Corruption. Lebanon is party to both.

Mark Daou, the opposition MP mentioned above, raised the investigation and the letter during his meetings in Washington last week at the State Department. He said that State Department officials vowed to look into the petition and come back with an answer.

Al Arabiya English has reached out to the State Department for comment.

The petition listed several officials they said were impeding the path to justice. The names include:

Former Public Works Minister Ghazi Zeaiter (Amal Movement)

Former Interior Minister NouhadMachnouk (formerly close to Saad Hariri)

Former PM Hassan Diab (backed by Hezbollah)

General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim (close to Amal and Hezbollah)

State Security chief Tony Saliba (close to Free Patriotic Movement)

Former Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil (Amal Movement)

General Prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat

Youssef Fenianos (Marada Movement)

Judge Ghassan Khoury

Dated Jan. 30, the letter calls for pressure to be exerted on Lebanese authorities to ensure the safety of Bitar and to take measures to ensure the probe proceeds without political interference. They are also requesting a UN fact-finding mission to support the investigation.

The request comes after similar calls in recent months by the Lebanese Judges’ Association, the Beirut Bar Association, and more than 40 Lebanese lawmakers.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/07/Lebanese-MP-delivers-petition-to-US-Sanction-obstructers-of-Beirut-blast-probe

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Saudi King, Crown Prince order air bridge to deliver aid to Syria, Turkey

07 February ,2023

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday directed the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) to operate an air bridge to provide various aid to help the earthquake victims in Syria and Turkey.

According to a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the air bridge will provide health, shelter, food and logistical assistance to alleviate the effects of the earthquake on the Syrian and Turkish people.

The directives also include organizing a campaign through the “Sahem” platform to help the earthquake victims in both countries.

Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Rabeeah, advisor to the Royal Court and the Supervisor General of KSrelief, confirmed that the assistance provided comes out of the keenness of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Crown Prince to stand by those affected by the quake in Syria and Turkey, according to SPA.

Meanwhile, the death toll from the massive earthquake rose above 6,200 on Tuesday, official data showed, with rescue workers still searching for trapped survivors.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/07/Saudi-King-Crown-Prince-order-air-bridge-to-deliver-aid-to-Syria-Turkey

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UAE pledges $100 million in earthquake relief to Syria, Turkey

07 February ,2023

The United Arab Emirates Tuesday pledged $100 million to Syria and Turkey, one of the largest sums yet following a massive earthquake that killed more than 6,256 people across both countries.

The Gulf nation – which had already pledged some $13.6 million to Syria – is spearheading regional relief efforts, having dispatched planes to both countries with relief items and rescue teams following the 7.8-magnitude quake that struck early Monday.

On Tuesday, Emirati President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan “ordered the provision of $100 million for the relief of those affected,” the official WAM news agency said.

The sum would be equally split between Syria and Turkey, with each getting $50 million, according to the news agency.

It was not immediately clear if the funds for Syria included the $13.6 million previously announced.

Major General Saleh al-Ameri, commander of joint operations at the UAE’s defense ministry, said Tuesday that three military planes had been dispatched to Turkey, carrying search and rescue teams who have since commenced operations.

A total of seven flights are planned to the quake-hit countries, including two to the Syrian capital Damascus, he told local media.

Syria’s official SANA news agency said Tuesday that an Emirati plane carrying 10 tonnes of food supplies had arrived at the Damascus international airport.

The UAE reopened its embassy in the Syrian capital in December 2018, suggesting an effort to bring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime back into the Arab fold after years of boycott.

In March last year, Assad made a visit to the UAE – his first to an Arab state in more than a decade of brutal civil war.

Meanwhile, the death toll from a massive earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria rose above 6,200 on Tuesday, official data showed, with rescue workers still searching for trapped survivors.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/07/UAE-pledges-100-million-in-earthquake-relief-to-Syria-Turkey

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In a first, Egypt’s Sisi calls Syria’s Assad after devastating earthquake

07 February ,2023

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called Syria’s Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday to offer support after a devastating earthquake, their offices announced, in the first official exchange between the two leaders.

Ahmed Fahmy, spokesman for the Egyptian presidency, said Sisi “expressed his sincere condolences” in the wake of the 7.8-magnitude quake that hit Syria and neighboring Turkey early Monday, killing more than 5,000 people.

In Syria, state media and rescuers said more than 1,600 have died and over 3,600 injured across the country.

“President Sisi reiterated Egypt’s solidarity with Syria and its brotherly people in this calamity. He also directed that all possible aid be provided to Syria,” Fahmy said.

Syrian state news agency SANA said “President Assad thanked Egypt for this position, which reflects the fraternal relations that bind the two brotherly countries.”

Condolences have poured in and dozens of nations have offered aid since the pre-dawn earthquake that wiped out entire sections of cities in both Turkey and Syria.

The Egyptian and Syrian foreign ministers spoke on the phone on Monday, with Cairo promising “emergency humanitarian aid,” according to an Egyptian statement.

While Egyptian state media noted the presidents’ call was their first since Sisi assumed office in 2014, the two countries have maintained relations during Syria’s 12-year war, unlike some other Arab countries who severed ties with Damascus.

The conflict in Syria was triggered by demonstrations in 2011 in the wake of the Arab Spring revolts across the region, which in Egypt toppled President Hosni Mubarak.

That same year, Syria was suspended from the Arab League.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/07/In-a-first-Egypt-s-Sisi-calls-Syria-s-Assad-after-devastating-earthquake-

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Syrian Red Crescent appeals to Western countries for aid after devastating earthquake

07 February ,2023

The Syrian Red Crescent on Tuesday appealed to Western countries to lift sanctions and provide aid after a powerful earthquake has killed more than 1,600 people across the war-torn country.

The 7.8-magnitude quake early Monday, which has also killed thousands in neighboring Turkey, led to widespread destruction in both regime-controlled and Syrian opposition-held parts of Syria.

After more than a decade of war, President Bashar al-Assad’s government remains a pariah in the West, complicating international efforts to assist those affected by the quake.

Khaled Haboubati, head of the Syrian Red Crescent, urged on Tuesday “all European Union countries to lift economic sanctions on Syria.”

“The time has come after this earthquake,” Haboubati, whose organization is based in government-held areas, told a press conference broadcast by Syrian state TV.

His call echoes a similar plea by Syria’s Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, who on Monday said the government was ready to “provide all the required facilities” to receive humanitarian assistance.

Despite the sanctions, government-controlled parts of the country receive aid through United Nations agencies, many of which have headquarters in Damascus.

Syrian state media and rescuers said at least 1,602 people have died in the earthquake and more than 3,600 have been injured across the country.

The Red Crescent has dispatched 3,000 volunteers, Haboubati said.

“I appeal to United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide assistance to the Syrian people,” he added.

The Syrian government’s main allies Iran and Russia have expressed willingness to send aid.

The White House and the European Commission both said on Monday that humanitarian programs supported by them were responding to the destruction in Syria.

More than a decade of conflict and years of economic sanctions have devastated Syria’s economy and its ability to respond to large-scale disasters.

The war has killed nearly half a million people and forced around half of the country’s pre-war population from their homes, with many seeking refuge in Turkey.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/07/Syrian-Red-Crescent-appeals-to-Western-countries-for-aid-after-devastating-earthquake

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Qatar to send 10,000 mobile homes for quake victims in Syria, Türkiye

Ahmed Youssef 

07.02.2023

DOHA, Qatar

Qatar said Tuesday it will send 10,000 mobile homes to Türkiye and Syria after the violent earthquakes that struck the two countries.

A statement by the Qatari Foreign Ministry said the move “is part of Qatari efforts to contribute to relieving the quake-affected people in Syria and Türkiye.”

On Monday, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani ordered the launch of an airlift to help quake victims in Türkiye.

State news agency QNA said a rescue team, a field hospital, relief aid, tents and winter supplies will also be dispatched to the country.

A magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck southern Türkiye's Kahramanmaras province early Monday and another magnitude 7.6 quake hit the same area in the afternoon, killing at least 3,432 people and injuring 21,103 others, according to the country’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD).

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/qatar-to-send-10-000-mobile-homes-for-quake-victims-in-syria-turkiye/2809806

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Hezbollah sends aid convoys to quake-hit Syria, decries US-led sanctions

08 February 2023

The Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement says it has sent convoys of humanitarian aid to earthquake-affected areas in Syria in the wake of a devastating earthquake that struck the Arab country amid crippling Western sanctions.

Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh NaimQassem told Lebanon’s Arabic-language al-Manar television network on Tuesday that countries around the world must rush to send rescue workers, equipment and aid to help victims of the earthquake.

He offered his condolences to the Syrian nation and government, saying Hezbollah has dispatched convoys of humanitarian aid to quake-hit areas.

A devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southeastern Turkey and northwestern Syria early Monday, killing and injuring thousands of people and reducing many buildings to rubble.

Rescue workers are still working in freezing temperatures to find those still trapped under debris with the latest death toll nearing 8,400.

The huge earthquake brought down whole apartment blocks in Turkish cities and piled more devastation on millions of Syrians displaced by years of war.

Sheikh Qassem argued that US sanctions, backed by most Arab countries, are hampering relief and rescue operations, adding that the coercive measures run contrary to the fundamental humanitarian principles.

The top Hezbollah official stressed that the West must realize that Syrians are all united in the fight against Takfiri militant groups and that the nation will not accept any foreign diktats.

He also underscored that Hezbollah stands by the side of Syria and Turkey in the aftermath of the tragic incident.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) called on the United States and the European Union to lift the siege and economic sanctions against Syria, which are severely hampering relief work in quake-stricken areas of the country.

Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad has also highlighted Syria’s need for humanitarian assistance after the earthquake, warning that US sanctions have worsened the circumstances as the illegal bans have prevented the delivery of everything to the country.

“What exacerbated the tragedy and catastrophe was the sanctions imposed by the United States and Western countries on Syria,” Mekdad said on Tuesday.

“While Americans claim they did not impose sanctions on humanitarian aid, we tell them that your sanctions prevent everything from Syria, including the purchase of medicines, just as Washington and its Western allies give orders to some countries, and threaten them with sanctions if they deal with Syria or any Syrian banks,” he added.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/02/08/697805/Hezbollah-decries-bias-against-Syria-sends-aid-convoys-quake-hit-areas

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Mideast

 

Israel steps up Jerusalem home demolitions as violence rises

February 08, 2023

JERUSALEM: RatibMatar’s family was growing. They needed more space.

Before his granddaughters, now 4 and 5, were born, he built three apartments on an eastern slope overlooking Jerusalem’s ancient landscape. The 50-year-old construction contractor moved in with his brother, son, divorced daughter and their young kids — 11 people in all, plus a few geese.

But Matar was never at ease. At any moment, the Israeli code-enforcement officers could knock on his door and take everything away.

That moment came on Jan. 29, days after a Palestinian gunman killed seven people in east Jerusalem, the deadliest attack in the contested capital since 2008. Israel’s new far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir called not only for the sealing of the assailant’s family home, but also the immediate demolition of dozens of Palestinian homes built without permits in east Jerusalem, among other punitive steps.

Mere hours after Ben-Gvir’s comments, the first bulldozers rumbled into Matar’s neighborhood of Jabal Mukaber.

For many Palestinians, the gathering pace of home demolitions is part of the new ultranationalist government’s broader battle for control of east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war and claimed by the Palestinians as the capital of a future independent state.

The battle is waged with building permits and demolition orders — and it is one the Palestinians feel they cannot win. Israel says it is simply enforcing building regulations.

“Our construction is under siege from Israel,” Matar said. His brothers and sons lingered beside the ruins of their home, drinking bitter coffee and receiving visitors as though in mourning. “We try really hard to build, but in vain,” he said.

Last month, Israel demolished 39 Palestinian homes, structures and businesses in east Jerusalem, displacing over 50 people, according to the United Nations. That was more than a quarter of the total number of demolitions in 2022. Ben-Gvir posted a photo on Twitter of the bulldozers clawing at Matar’s home.

“We will fight terrorism with all the means at our disposal,” he wrote, though Matar’s home had nothing to do with the Palestinian shooting attacks.

Most Palestinian apartments in east Jerusalem were built without hard-to-get permits. A 2017 study by the UN described it as “virtually impossible” to secure them.

The Israeli municipality allocates scant land for Palestinian development, the report said, while facilitating the expansion of Israeli settlements. Little Palestinian property was registered before Israel annexed east Jerusalem in 1967, a move not internationally recognized.

Matar said the city rejected his building permit application twice because his area is not zoned for residential development. He’s now trying a third time.

The penalty for unauthorized building is often demolition. If families don’t tear their houses down themselves, the government charges them for the job. Matar is dreading his bill — he knows neighbors who paid over $20,000 to have their houses razed.

Now homeless, Matar and his family are staying with relatives. He vows to build again on land he inherited from his grandparents, though he has no faith in the Israeli legal system.

“They don’t want a single Palestinian in all of Jerusalem,” Matar said. Uphill, in the heart of his neighborhood, Israeli flags fluttered from dozens of apartments recently built for religious Jews.

Since 1967, the government has built 58,000 homes for Israelis in the eastern part of the city, and fewer than 600 for Palestinians, said Daniel Seidemann, an Israeli lawyer specializing in the geopolitics of Jerusalem, citing the government’s statistics bureau and his own analysis. In that time, the city’s Palestinian population has soared by 400 percent.

“The planning regime is dictated by the calculus of national struggle,” Seidemann said.

Israel’s city plans show state parks encircling the Old City, with some 60 percent of Jabal Mukaber zoned as green space, off-limits to Palestinian development. At least 20,000 Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem are now slated for demolition, watchdogs say.

Matar and his neighbors face an agonizing choice: Build illegally and live under constant threat of demolition, or leave their birthplace for the occupied West Bank, sacrificing Jerusalem residency rights that allow them to work and travel relatively freely throughout Israel.

While there are no reliable figures for permit approvals, the Israeli municipality set aside just over 7 percent of its 21,000 housing plans for Palestinian homes in 2019, reported IrAmim, an anti-settlement advocacy group. Palestinians are nearly 40 percent of the city’s roughly 1 million people.

“This is the purpose of this policy,” said Aviv Tatarsky, a researcher at IrAmim. “Palestinians are forced to leave Jerusalem.”

Arieh King, a Jerusalem deputy mayor and settler leader, acknowledged that demolitions help Israel entrench control over east Jerusalem, home to the city’s most important religious sites.

“It’s part of enforcing sovereignty,” King said. “I’m happy that at last we have a minister that understands,” he added, referring to Ben-Gvir.

Ben-Gvir is now pushing for the destruction of an apartment tower housing 100 people. Trying to lower tensions, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delayed the eviction that was planned for Tuesday, Israeli media reported.

King contended it was possible for Palestinians to secure permits and accused them of building without authorization to avoid an expensive bureaucracy.

When the Al-Abasi family in east Jerusalem found a demolition order plastered on their new breeze-block home last month, they contemplated their options. The government had knocked down their last apartment, built on the same lot, eight years ago. This time, Jaafar Al-Abasi decided, he would tear it down himself.

Al-Abasi hired a tractor and invited his relatives and neighbors to join. The destruction took three days, with breaks for hummus and soda. His three sons borrowed pickaxes and jackhammers, angrily hacking away at the walls they had decorated with colored plates just last month.

“This place is like a ticking time bomb,” said his brother in law, 48-year-old Mustafa Samhouri, who helped them out.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2247031/middle-east

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'Waiting for our dead': Anger builds at Turkey's earthquake response

Feb 8, 2023

GAZIANTEP: With every passing moment, Ebru Firat knows the chances dim of finding her cousin alive under the rubble of a flattened building in the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep.

And with that fading hope, the 23-year-old's grief is being replaced by rage at the government's earthquake response.

Monday's 7.8-magnitude pre-dawn tremor killed more than 7,800 people across swathes of Turkey and Syria, injured tens of thousands and left many more without shelter in the winter cold.

"I have no more tears left to cry," she said.

Despite the importance of every minute, no rescue team arrived at the scene in the critical first 12 hours after the disaster, forcing victims' relatives and local police to clear the ruins by hand, witnesses said.

And when the rescuers finally came on Monday evening, they only worked for a few hours before breaking for the night, residents told AFP.

"People revolted (on Tuesday) morning. The police had to intervene," said Celal Deniz, 61, whose brother and nephews remain trapped.

In the miserable cold, Deniz and his relatives try to warm themselves around a fire they lit in the open air, not too far from the destroyed building.

"There isn't anywhere that our rescuers cannot reach," Turkey's Red Crescent chief KeremKinik declared in a TV interview.

But Deniz disagreed.

"They don't know what the people have gone through," he said.

"Where have all our taxes gone, collected since 1999?" he asked, referring to a levy dubbed "the earthquake tax" that was implemented after a massive earthquake destroyed large parts of northwestern Turkey and killed 17,400 people.

The revenues -- now estimated to be worth 88 billion liras, or $4.6 billion -- were meant to have been spent on disaster prevention and the development of emergency services.

But how this money was actually spent is not publicly known.

If there aren't enough rescuers, volunteers say they will have to step in and do the hard work themselves.

"We go to places to help people who were originally supposed to be rescued by the Red Crescent, but where no help comes," said CerenSoylu, a member of a volunteer group set up by the right-wing opposition Iyi Party.

The Iyi Party's presence on the ground delivers a warning to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- whose chances of extending his rule into a third decade in May elections could hinge on his handling of Turkey's worst disaster in decades.

In Gaziantep, where violent aftershocks rumble on, residents lack almost everything. Shops are closed, there is no heat because gas lines have been cut to avoid explosions, and finding petrol is tough.

Only bakeries remain open, drawing long queues.

Some of the worst damage in Gaziantep's eponymous province took place in the most remote districts, where hundreds of buildings have collapsed.

"The roads have been partly destroyed, it's very difficult to bring aid to these areas," said GokhanGungor, a cook who volunteered to distribute food to survivors.

"People lack water and food there," he said.

Many survivors are feeling abandoned as they also battle cold weather, especially since many rushed outside without even having time to put on shoes when the quake struck.

On Tuesday afternoon, rescuers and search dogs were deployed again.

Source: Times Of India

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/waiting-for-our-dead-anger-builds-at-turkeys-earthquake-response/articleshow/97720046.cms

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Iran unveils underground base for fighter jets

February 8, 2023

TEHRAN: Iran’s army on Tuesday unveiled its first underground base for fighter jets designed to withstand possible strikes by US bunker-busting bombs, state media reported.

The base — named Oghab 44 (“Eagle” in Persian) — can accommodate “all types of fighter jets and bombers, in addition to drones”, the official news agency IRNA said, released images and videos from inside the base.

IRNA said it was one of the country’s most important air force bases, housing fighters equipped with long-range cruise missiles.

The exact location of the base was not revealed, but state media said it was “at the depth of hundreds of metres under the

mountains“, and capable of withstanding “bombs by strategic US bombers”.

Subterranean facility made to repel attacks by US ‘bunker busters’

The latest unveiling comes the day before Iran marks Air Force Day, part of the build-up to the 44th anniversary on Saturday of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

State media on Tuesday showed Iran’s armed forces chief of staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri and the army’s commander-in-chief Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi at the newly established base.

Oghab 44 is “one of numerous tactical underground air bases for the army’s air force built in different areas of the country in recent years”, IRNA reported.

According to Press TV, Mr Mousavi, while speaking at the ceremony, said Oqab-44 is one of the “combined” bases of the IRIAF, meaning both manned and unmanned aircraft carry out missions from the tactical base.

Stressing that the IRIAF’s “equipment has been upgraded from tactical to strategic in accordance with the threats and type of missions,” Mousavi said the new weapons and equipment installed on the fighters are state-of-the-art and projected for possible engagement with strategic targets.

It can prepare fighter jets to “counter possible offensives” such as those practised by the US and Israel in their recent military drill, according to state media.

“Any attack on Iran from our enemies, including Israel, will see a response from our many air force bases including Eagle 44,” Mr Bagheri told state TV.

On the sidelines of the unveiling ceremony, the long-range air-launched cruise missile ‘Asef’ was also showcased, Press TV reported.

The missile is equipped with a warhead that features a high destructive and explosive power and can destroy heavy fortifications.

The Asef missile, which is manufactured by Iranian experts, is mounted on the Sukhoi 24 fighter jet.

Iran has mostly Russian MiG and Sukhoi fighter jets that date back to the Soviet era, as well as some Chinese aircraft, including the F-7.

Some American F-4 and F-5 fighter jets dating back to before the revolution are also part of its fleet.

Similarly, in May last year, the Iranian army had shared some details of an underground base for its military drones.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1735990/iran-unveils-underground-base-for-fighter-jets

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Iran Celebrates Space Technology Day by Unveiling 2 Home-Made Satellites

2023-February-7

Iranian Minister of Communications and Information Technology Issa Zarepour and President of Iranian Space Agency Hassan Salarieh were present in the unveiling ceremony in Tehran

The prototype of the Nahid-2 and the Tolou-3 satellites have been unveiled during the ceremony.

Nahid 2 is a communication technology satellite which is equipped with a thruster (spacecraft) capable of conducting orbital modifications. Its development has been considered as an important step in Iran’s efforts to manufacture low earth orbit communication satellite systems.

Tolou (Dawn) is a sensing satellite which can take images with an accuracy of 25 square meters from a distance of 500 km above the earth.

Iran has taken giant strides in the field of science of technology in recent years, despite US sanctions.

In early June, the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) announced that work was underway to prepare seven more satellites for launch into the orbit.

Iranian President Seyed Ebrahim Rayeesi has stressed continued efforts to further advance space technology.

“The obtainment of this technology is among the manifestations of national might, which was made possible with the efforts of the Armed Forces - specially the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and the Communications Ministry - and which must continue with greater force,” he noted in mid-March.

Source: Fars News Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14011118000387/Iran-Celebraes-Space-Technlgy-Day-by-Unveiling-2-Hme-Made-Saellies

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Security Chief Lauds Deep-Rooted Relations Between Iran, Russia

2023-February-7

Shamkhani arrived in Moscow on Tuesday for the fifth regional security dialogue on Afghanistan that is scheduled to be held in the Russian capital on Wednesday.

Upon arrival, the top official described the relations between Iran and Russia in different fields including economy, defense, security, science and technology as growing faster than ever.

He noted that it was necessary to review the roadmap drawn up by the two countries’ top officials for strengthening bilateral cooperation over the next two decades.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Shamkhani stated the participants at the regional security dialogue meeting would discuss the latest political, economic and security developments in Afghanistan.

Iran’s top security official added that the problems of the Afghan people are rooted in the ineffectiveness of the occupying forces and the post-occupation incidents.

The ways to settle issues in the war-stricken country would be discussed in the Moscow meeting, given the fact that “Afghanistan can become a crisis point in the region”, he continued.

Looking at all regional countries hit by foreign intervention, he went on, one can see that the problems in those countries are caused by two central issues, namely “creating discord within them and preventing the resolution of regional crises by the countries of the region themselves".

He further emphasized that extra-regional powers are the ones sowing discord in regional countries and interfering in their internal affairs in an attempt to limit their power to solve regional crises.

Since Tehran and Moscow enjoy common interests in economic, military and security affairs as well as friendly relationship pursue common policies on regional and international developments especially when it comes to taking stances in the face of the United States’ unilateral and interventionist strategies.

Iranian officials say Tehran and Moscow, both subjected to tough economic sanctions by the Western countries, are determined to deepen their economic cooperation, adding that there are great capacities for increasing the volume of bilateral trade.

Several officials in Tehran and Moscow have repeatedly accused the United States of using the dollar as an instrument to wage economic and political war. Iranian and Russian officials have touched on the policy to replace the dollar with national currencies, and use other currencies in place of the dollar, and stress that the dollar should be gradually ditched from global transactions.

Source: Fars News Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14011118000612/Secriy-Chief-Lads-Deep-Red-Relains-Beween-Iran-Rssia

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Iran Categorically Denies WSJ Report over Drone Production with Russia as Sheer Lie

2023-February-7 

“Iran does not participate in any independent or joint project for production of drones in Russia,” Nour News said in a tweet, adding, “Reports by Western media in this regard are sheer lies.”

“Western strategists had better find more believable excuses for the continuation of the war of attrition in Ukraine,” it noted.

On Sunday, The WSJ newspaper cited unnamed "officials from a country aligned with the US" as saying that Moscow and Tehran have advanced plans to build an Iranian-designed factory in Russia to produce at least 6,000 combat UAVs.

"The two countries are aiming to build a faster drone that could pose new challenges for Ukrainian air defenses," the daily reported, citing officials.

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov has also said Moscow has its own programs for the production of drones.

“Russia has a number of its own programs to create unmanned aerial vehicles for a variety of purposes. These programs are being implemented. You know that a list of presidential instructions was recently adopted, signed and made public on the development of the unmanned aerial vehicles area,” he told reporters, commenting on the report.

“Therefore, we have our own development programs,” the spokesperson added.

Peskov stated that he did not know what sources the paper relied on.

Kiev and its Western allies have repeatedly claimed that Tehran has provided Russia with arms to be used in the war in Ukraine.

Iranian officials have repeatedly rejected claims about Tehran's arms sales to Russia to be used in the ongoing war against Ukraine, stressing such allegations are aimed at legitimizing the West's military assistance to Kiev.

They reiterated that Tehran will not help either side in the Russia-Ukraine crisis, and cautioned that arming Moscow or Kyiv will prolong the conflict between the two neighbors.

In Late February, President Vladimir Putin stated in response to a request by the heads of the Donbass republics he had made a decision to carry out a special military operation. The Russian leader stressed that Moscow had no plans of occupying Ukrainian territories.

The US, the EU, the UK and a number of other states have imposed sanctions against Russian legal entities and individuals. They also increased supplies of weapons to the Ukrainian authorities. Russia has officially become the most sanctioned country in the world, surpassing Iran, Syria and North Korea, after launching a military operation against Ukraine.

Back in September, Iranian PresdientSeyed Ebrahim Rayeesi cautioned that the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a serious threat to the stability and security of nations.

The Iranian president described NATO's expansionist policies as one of the causes of insecurity in different parts of the world and stated, "As foreign policy thinkers, advise politicians and statesmen so that the people of different parts of the world do not bear the cost of their mistakes".

Source: Fars News Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14011118000151/Iran-Caegrically-Denies-WSJ-Repr-ver-Drne-Prdcin-wih-Rssia-as-Sheer

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Chinese earthquake rescue team arrives in Turkey

08 February ,2023

An earthquake rescue team dispatched by China’s government arrived in Turkey’s Adana Airport early on Wednesday, state broadcaster CCTV reported on Wednesday.

The team, comprised of 82 members, brought 20 tonnes of medical and other rescue supplies and equipment, as well as four search-and-rescue dogs, according to CCTV.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/08/Chinese-earthquake-rescue-team-arrives-in-Turkey-

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Ukraine says sending 87 rescuers to Turkey after earthquake

07 February ,2023

Ukraine said Tuesday that it would send a team of several dozen rescue workers to Turkey after an earthquake left thousands dead there and in neighboring Syria.

Kyiv will send “to the republic of Turkey a combined search-and-rescue team of the State Emergency Service consisting of 87 people,” including 10 flight crew members, according to Ukraine’s government website.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said he spoke with Turkey’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan and “expressed condolences over the horrific tragedy that befell the people of Turkey due to the earthquakes.”

“I informed him of the decision to send a group of rescuers and equipment from Ukraine to Turkey to help in overcoming the aftermath of the emergency,” Zelensky said on social media.

“Ukrainian specialists have relevant experience in overcoming the consequences of natural disasters and will arrive in the affected regions as soon as possible,” he added.

Close to both Kyiv and Moscow, Turkey has acted as mediator between them since Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2023/02/07/Ukraine-says-sending-87-rescuers-to-Turkey-after-earthquake

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Iranian president conveys condolences over deadly earthquakes in Türkiye

Diyar Guldogan

07.02.2023

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Tuesday conveyed his condolences to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a day after powerful and deadly earthquakes hit southern Türkiye.

In a phone call with Erdogan, Raisi expressed his sympathy on the death of hundreds of people and wished recovery for the injured, Türkiye's Communications Directorate said in a statement.

At least 3,549 people were killed and 22,168 others injured in 10 provinces of Türkiye after two strong earthquakes on Monday jolted the southern part of the country.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/iranian-president-conveys-condolences-over-deadly-earthquakes-in-turkiye/2810078

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Palestinians perform prayers for earthquake victims in Türkiye, Syria

Abdelraouf Arnaout  

06.02.2023

JERUSALEM

Palestinians performed prayers at East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque on Monday for the victims of a powerful earthquake that killed hundreds in Türkiye and Syria.

According to an Anadolu reporter, hundreds of worshippers took part in the prayers.

A 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck southeastern Türkiye early Monday, killing at least 1,014 people and injuring 5,385 others, according to the country’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD).

At least 592 people were also killed and hundreds injured in Syria from the quake, according to figures from the Syrian regime's Health Ministry and Syrian Civil Defense.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/palestinians-perform-prayers-for-earthquake-victims-in-turkiye-syria/2808361

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Africa

 

Tunisia president fires foreign minister amid political crisis

07 February ,2023

Tunisian President Kais Saied on Tuesday fired the country’s top diplomat – the fourth minister to lose his post this year in the politically divided nation.

Nabil Ammar, Tunisia’s ambassador to the European Union, will replace Othman Jerandi as foreign minister, the presidency said in a statement on its official website, without providing a reason for the move.

Saied has already replaced his trade, agriculture and education ministers this year, but Jerandi, who had served as foreign minister since September 2020, is the most senior official to lose his post.

Deepening political divisions have wracked Tunisia since Saied launched a dramatic power grab in July 2021.

He sacked the government, froze parliament and seized far-reaching executive powers, pushing through a new constitution in a referendum in July last year that defanged the parliament and installed a hyper-presidential system.

Tunisia has faced mounting economic woes in recent months, with repeated strikes by teachers and transportation workers along with shortages of basic goods, including milk.

Just 11.4 percent of Tunisians turned out for a second round of voting in January for the now toothless legislature after opposition parties called for a boycott.

The public discontent has put growing pressure on Saied, whose critics have accused him of launching a “coup” in the birthplace of the pro-democracy Arab Spring uprisings.

Source: Al Arabiya

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/north-africa/2023/02/07/Tunisia-president-fires-foreign-minister-amid-political-crisis

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Russia’s Lavrov vows aid for West Africa’s extremist fight

February 07, 2023

BAMAKO: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday promised the Kremlin’s help for states in West Africa’s Sahel and the Gulf of Guinea which are facing a ruthless extremist insurgency.

“The fight against terrorism is of course an issue for the other countries in the region,” Lavrov said during a visit to Mali, which Russia is already helping militarily.

“We are going to provide our assistance to them to overcome these difficulties. This concerns Guinea, Burkina Faso and Chad and the Sahel region generally and even the coastal states on the Gulf of Guinea,” he said.

Lavrov made the remarks at a press conference during a visit to Bamako that the Russian envoy described as a “historic” first.

Since seizing power in 2020, Mali’s ruling junta has brought in Russian planes, helicopters and paramilitaries to strengthen its fight against extremist militants.

The closer ties with the Kremlin have coincided with the departure of France, the country’s former colony and traditional ally, which says the Russian operatives are Wagner mercenaries.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the UN have implicated Wagner and the Malian army in an alleged massacre at Moura in central Mali last March in which several hundred people were rounded up and killed.

The landlocked state is the epicenter of an extremist insurgency that began in northern Mali in 2012 and spread to neighboring Niger and Burkina Faso in 2015.

Thousands of civilians have died across the three countries, and millions have fled their homes.

Discontent within the military in Mali and Burkina has spurred two coups in both countries.

Sporadic cross-border attacks have also taken place in Togo, Benin and Ivory Coast in recent years, spurring fears that the extremists are seeking to push southwards to the Gulf of Guinea.

France wound down its long-running military presence in Mali in the face of mounting hostility with the junta and pulled out its last troops in 2022.

Similar tensions have recently broken out between France and Burkina Faso. The French military contingent there, a unit of special forces numbering around 400 men, is to be withdrawn this month.

Lavrov promised Mali further military support and declared Russia’s wider backing for Africa in the face of what he described as the West’s “neo-colonial approach.”

“We are going to provide our support for resolving problems on the African continent,” he said.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2246601/world

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North America

 

US man convicted of aiding Daesh as sniper, trainer

February 08, 2023

NEW YORK: A former New York stockbroker-turned-Daesh group militant was convicted Tuesday of becoming a sniper and trainer for the extremist group during its brutal reign in Syria and Iraq.

The trial of Ruslan MaratovichAsainov, a Kazakh-born US citizen, was the latest in a series of cases against people accused of leaving their homelands around the world to join the militants in combat.

“Today’s verdict in an American courtroom is a victory for our system of justice” and against the Daesh group, Brooklyn-based US Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement. Asainov’s lawyers had no immediate comment.

A onetime broker who doted on his toddler daughter, Asainov converted to Islam around 2009 and later quit his job and started watching radical sermons online, his ex-wife testified. He abruptly left his family in Brooklyn in December 2013 and made his way to Syria as IS stormed to power.

In a case built largely on Asainov’s own words in messaging apps, emails, recorded phone calls and an FBI interview, prosecutors said he fought in numerous battles and built a notable profile in IS by becoming a sniper and later an instructor of nearly 100 other long-range shooters.

“The evidence has shown that people died as a result of the defendant’s conduct. It is time to hold him accountable,” prosecutor Douglas Pravda told a Brooklyn federal court jury in a closing argument.

Asainov, 46, didn’t testify, telling the court he was “not part of this process.”

His lawyers didn’t dispute that he went to Syria and affiliated with the Daesh group, but they argued that his accounts of his role were boasts that had no firsthand corroboration and didn’t prove anyone died because of his conduct.

“Nobody’s arguing to you that Mr. Asainov’s view of the world is not a very warped view,” defense attorney Sabrina Shroff said in her summation, asking the jury “not to confuse his views with what is needed to convict him beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“There’s not a single piece of paper that ties Mr. Asainov to anything in the Daesh group that would tell you he, in fact, is the person he claims to be,” she said.

Jurors, whose identities were kept confidential, found Asainov guilty of offenses that include providing and attempting to provide material support to what the US designates a foreign terrorist organization. The jury also concluded that his actions caused at least one death, a finding that means he faces the potential of life in prison. His sentencing is set for June 7.

IS fighters seized chunks of Iraq and Syria in 2014, sweeping millions of people into a so-called caliphate ruled according to the group’s iron-fisted interpretation of Islamic law, enforced through massacres, beheadings, sexual slavery and other atrocities. The group’s bloody campaign attracted tens of thousands of foreign fighters; at least scores of them were US citizens, according to a 2018 academic report from George Washington University’s Program on Extremism.

Fighting left a swath of deaths, displacement and destruction in major cities and beyond. The extremists lost the last remnants of their realm in 2019.

Asainov was picked up soon after by US-backed forces and turned over to US authorities. Unabashed as FBI agents questioned him, he gave his occupation as “sniper” and frankly detailed how he’d taught others, explaining that he could spend three hours just on the fine points of pulling a trigger, according to video played at trial.

He had also been forthcoming in messages and calls from Syria to friends and the now-ex-wife he’d left behind, according to trial evidence.

“Have you heard of Daesh? Right. I-S-I-S. Do you watch news on TV? That’s where I am located. I am one of its fighters,” he told his ex in a voicemail that authorities translated from Russian. “We are the worst terrorist organization in the world that ever existed.”

He sent photos of himself in camouflage garb with a rifle and pictures of the bloodied bodies of men with whom he said he’d fought. He texted one confidante — in fact a US government informant — a rundown of prominent battles in which he said he’d participated and asked for money to buy a night scope for his rifle.

Later, with the sounds of explosions in the background of Asainov’s phone, he asked another friend for money to send his new wife and children to safety as US-backed forces fought to capture the extremists’ de facto capital of Raqqa in 2017.

Shroff urged jurors not to take his remarks at face value.

“To say the same wrong things over and over again does not make them accurate,” she argued.

After his arrest, a defiant Asainov declared at his arraignment that he was an “Daesh citizen, not a United States citizen,” and jail officials said they later found a hand-drawn version of the militants’ flag in his cell.

He told his mother on the facility’s recorded phones that her son “doesn’t exist anymore,” replaced by a man who saw himself as a holy warrior who fought and killed on divine command, didn’t regret it and would “be fighting until the end.”

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2246906/world

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Omar hoping Biden speaks ‘about the rise’ in anti-Muslim bigotry in State of the Union address

BY OLAFIMIHAN OSHIN

02/07/23

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) on Monday said that she hopes President Biden addresses “the rise and the continuation” of anti-Muslim bigotry in the U.S. in his State of the Union address.

During an appearance on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes,” Omar told guest host Mehdi Hasan that she thinks bigotry played a large role in her being voted off the House Foreign Affairs Committee by GOP House members last week, noting that fellow Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and former President Trump have made bigoted remarks about Muslim Americans in the past.

“It precisely has to do with bigotry,” Omar said. “These are people who certainly don’t believe Muslim immigrants, Somali immigrants, refugees — and certainly someone who carries all those identities together — should be in the United States, let alone in Congress and wield any kind of power.”

Omar also told Hasan that she would like to hear Biden address anti-Muslim bigotry in his Tuesday night address to Congress, saying that Black immigrants matter and are a part of American society.

“I haven’t heard the president been asked or address any of this, and would love to hear the president of the United States speak about the rise and the continuation of anti-Muslim bigotry, the demonization of Black immigrants, the demonization of Black people in this country,” Omar told Hasan.

“We are humans. We matter. We are part and parcel of American society,” Omar added. “And our lives should be valued and our opinions should be valued as every other American.”

Omar was ousted from the Foreign Affairs Committee by House Republicans last week by a 218-211 vote.

The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Max Miller (R-Ohio), listed a number of remarks Omar made in the past that Republicans said were antisemitic, arguing that the Minnesota congresswoman disqualified herself from serving on the committee.

When asked if she blames prominent GOP figures such as Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), and Greene, for the recent attacks and threats she received, Omar replied that all of them do not “understand the weight that their language carries” and have no remorse for it.

Source: TheHill

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://thehill.com/homenews/house/3846999-omar-hoping-biden-speaks-about-the-rise-in-anti-muslim-bigotry-in-state-of-the-union-address/

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Pakistani-American cop, shot during ‘robbery’ attempt in New York, dies

February 8, 2023

A Pakis­tani-American police officer, who was shot last week during a suspected robbery in New York City, succumbed to his injuries today, a senior official of the New York Police Department said on Wednesday.

The officer, AdeedFayaz, 26, was admitted to a New York hospital soon after he was attacked by the suspected robber during an alleged mugging attempt.

The police had on Tuesday arrested a suspect, who is a 38-year-old man, and hinted he could face charges.

The suspect, Randy Jones, was arrested from a Days Inn hotel 50 miles away from the crime scene, police officials said. Jones was hiding there with his girlfriend and five young children following Saturday night’s botched robbery in Brooklyn.

In a tweet today, NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell voiced his grief at the loss, saying “our department deeply mourns his passing, and his family and loved ones are in our prayers”.

“Police officer AdeedFayaz was a father, a husband, a son, and a protector of our great city,” the commissioner added.

Michael Baldassano, assistant chief of the NYPD Detec­tive Bureau, had on Sunday told reporters that the officer, Adeed, was on Ruby Street in East New York on Saturday at around 7pm trying to buy a car he saw listed on Facebook Marketplace.

“The arrangements for this purchase were made over a social media platform, and the location was selected. The officer arrived at the location accompanied by a relative,” Baldassano said.

Police said the suspect displayed a gun and demanded money as soon as he saw Adeed. The officer was hit in an exchange of gunfire.

Sewell told reporters that suspect Jones was handcuffed by an NYPD detective with the cuffs Fayaz used before he was wounded.

Source: Dawn

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1736006/pakistani-american-cop-shot-during-robbery-attempt-in-new-york-dies

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Turkish Embassy in Washington DC collects aid materials for earthquake victims

Rabia İclalTuran

07.02.2023

WASHINGTON

Turkish Americans and US citizens are sending aid to earthquake victims after two strong earthquakes jolted southern Türkiye, killing at least 4,544 and leaving many in need of assistance.

The Turkish Embassy in Washington DC shared a list of in-kid materials on social media Monday for those who are willing to help residents in need in Türkiye.

The materials donated across the US and collected at the embassy include blankets, tents and winter clothing. They are shipped to Türkiye every night via Turkish Airlines.

Turks in the US are working voluntarily at the embassy to help collect and ship aid to Türkiye.

Turkish consulates in Miami, Houston, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles, are also collecting materials for quake victims.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/turkish-embassy-in-washington-dc-collects-aid-materials-for-earthquake-victims/2810646

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Omar hopes Biden will condemn 'rise’ in anti-Muslim bigotry in US

07 February 2023

US House Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) has expressed hope that the president addresses “the rise and the continuation” of anti-Muslim bigotry in the United States.

During an appearance on Monday on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes,” Omar told guest host Mehdi Hasan that she is hoping that US President Joe Biden addresses growing anti-Muslim bigotry in his upcoming State of the Union speech in Congress on Tuesday night.

I think bigotry played a large role in my being voted off the House Foreign Affairs Committee by GOP House members last week, Omar said, adding that fellow Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and former President Donald Trump have made bigoted remarks about Muslim Americans in the past.

“It precisely has to do with bigotry,” Omar noted. “These are people who certainly don’t believe Muslim immigrants, Somali immigrants, refugees — and certainly someone who carries all those identities together — should be in the United States, let alone in Congress and wield any kind of power.”

Omar also told Hasan that she would like to hear Biden clarify in Congress that Black immigrants matter and are a part of American society.

“I haven’t heard the president been asked or address any of this, and would love to hear the president of the United States speak about the rise and the continuation of anti-Muslim bigotry, the demonization of Black immigrants, the demonization of Black people in this country,” Omar told Hasan.

“We are humans. We matter. We are part and parcel of American society,” Omar insisted. “And our lives should be valued and our opinions should be valued as every other American.”

Omar was ousted from the Foreign Affairs Committee by House Republicans last week by a 218-211 vote. The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Max Miller (R-Ohio), listed a number of anti-Israeli remarks Omar made in the past that Republicans claimed were antisemitic, arguing that for this the Minnesota congresswoman disqualified herself from serving on the committee.

When asked if she blames prominent GOP figures such as Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), and Greene, for the recent attacks and threats she received, Omar replied that all of them do not “understand the weight that their language carries” and have no remorse for it.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/02/07/697787/Omar-hopes-Biden-will-condemn-anti-Muslim-bigotry-in-US

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Europe

 

French magazine Charlie Hebdo mocks Türkiye after two deadly earthquakes

AlaattinDogru

07.02.2023

French magazine Charlie Hebdo has sparked outrage with a cartoon it published mocking Türkiye after the country was hit by two deadly earthquakes on Monday.

The cartoon, shared under the heading "cartoon of the day" on Twitter, shows collapsed and damaged buildings, a reversed car, and hills of debris.

"Earthquake in Türkiye," was written on the top right corner of the cartoon.

"(Didn't) even need to send tanks," it says at the bottom.

Internet users reacted to the drawing by expressing their frustration and anger.

Charlie Hebdo is a French satiric magazine also known for its cartoons insulting Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

At least 3,419 people were killed and 20,534 others injured in 10 provinces of Türkiye after two strong earthquakes jolted the southern part of the country, an official from Türkiye's disaster agency AFAD said Tuesday.

Early Monday morning, a 7.7 magnitude tremor struck the Pazarcik district of Kahramanmaras province, then about nine hours later, a 7.6 magnitude quake centered in Kahramanmaras’ Elbistan district rocked the region, affecting several other provinces.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/french-magazine-charlie-hebdo-mocks-turkiye-after-two-deadly-earthquakes/2809642

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Swedish PM ready to restart Nato membership talks with Turkey

February 7, 2023

TALLINN: Swedish prime minister Ulf Kristersson said today he was ready to restart stalled negotiations over Sweden’s application to join Nato as soon as Turkey was.

Finland and Sweden sought Nato membership shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, and while most member states have ratified the applications, Turkey has yet to give its approval in what must be a unanimous process.

The three nations last year reached an agreement on a way forward, but Ankara suspended talks last month as tensions rose following protests in Stockholm, where a far-right politician burned a copy of the Muslim holy book, the Quran.

“The first thing we need to do is calm down the situation. It is hard to have good talks when things are literally burning around you,” Kristersson told a news conference during a visit to Estonia’s capital.

He said preconditions for restarting talks were good, but that with Turkish elections due in May, it was understandable Turkey was focused on domestic policy.

“As soon as they are prepared (for talks), we are obviously prepared,” Kristersson said.

Turkey last week said it looks positively on Finland’s application, but does not support Sweden’s, even though the two Nordic neighbours are seeking to join at the same time.

Finnish president SauliNiinisto today said he hoped Finland and Sweden would soon become members.

“The goal is to be accepted as soon as possible, both Finland and Sweden,” Niinisto told a joint news conference in Helsinki with Canada’s visiting governor-general.

Finland and Sweden are progressing in full “co-understanding” and remain in close contact with Nato’s headquarters, the White House and Turkey, Niinisto said.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/world/2023/02/07/swedish-pm-ready-to-restart-nato-membership-talks-with-turkey/

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Germany says Russia must pressure Syria into ensuring quake aid arrives

07 February ,2023

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Tuesday called on Russia to help pressure Syria into allowing humanitarian aid into the country for victims of Monday’s deadly earthquakes quickly and without additional obstacles.

“All international actors, including Russia, should exert their pressure on the Syrian regime to ensure humanitarian help for victims can arrive,” said Baerbock during a news conference in Berlin with Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirsojan.

“It’s important that weapons are now set aside and all efforts in the region are focused on humanitarian aid and on recovering and protecting victims,” said Baerbock, adding that every minute counted.

With a confirmed death toll in Syria already above 1,600, rescue workers from across the frozen front lines of the country’s 12-year civil war have said that hundreds more people likely remain under the rubble.

AdelheidMarschang, a WHO Senior Emergency Officer, said on Tuesday that Syria was in need of massive humanitarian aid after the quake, which was “a crisis on top of multiple crises.”

Aid to Syria, with which Germany has no official relations, is being sent via international non-governmental organizations.

Baerbock announced that an additional million euros would be provided to the Malteser International aid group and that Germany was working to make more money available to other international non-governmental organizations in the country.

Source: Al Arabiya

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https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2023/02/07/Germany-says-Russia-must-pressure-Syria-into-ensuring-quake-aid-arrives

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WHO: Turkiye, Syria quake could affect up to 23 million people

February 07, 2023

GENEVA: Up to 23 million people could be affected by the massive earthquake that has killed thousands in Turkiye and Syria, the WHO warned on Tuesday, promising long-term assistance.

“Event overview maps show that potentially 23 million people are exposed, including around five million vulnerable populations,” the World Health Organization’s senior emergencies officer AdelheidMarschang said.

“Civilian infrastructure and potentially health infrastructure have been damaged across the affected region, mainly in Turkiye and northwest Syria,” she said.

The WHO “considers that the main unmet needs may be in Syria in the immediate and mid-term,” Marschang told the WHO’s executive committee in Geneva.

She spoke as rescuers in Turkiye and Syria braved freezing cold, aftershocks and collapsing buildings, as they dug for survivors buried by a string of earthquakes that killed more than 5,000 people.

“It is now a race against time,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, explaining that the UN health agency was urgently sending aid to the area.

“We’re mobilizing emergency supplies and we have activated the WHO network of emergency medical teams to provide essential health care for the injured and most vulnerable.”

Disaster agencies said several thousand buildings were flattened in cities across a vast Turkiye-Syria border region — pouring misery on an area already plagued by war, insurgency, refugee crises and a recent cholera outbreak.

Through the night, survivors used their bare hands to pick over the twisted ruins of multi-story apartment blocks — trying to save family, friends and anyone else sleeping inside when the first massive 7.8-magnitude quake struck early Monday.

The situation is particularly dire in northern Syria, which has already been decimated by years of war.

“The movement of aid through the border into northwest Syria is likely to be or is already disrupted due to the damage caused by the earthquake,” Marschang said.

“This in itself would be a huge crisis already.”

She addressed a special meeting on the tragedy, which held a minute’s silence for the victims.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2246376/middle-east

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UK charity Penny Appeal working to provide aid for victims of Turkiye earthquakes

February 08, 2023

LONDON: British charity Penny Appeal said on Tuesday it is liaising with partner organizations that are working in the areas hit by the devastating earthquake in Turkiye on Monday to provide aid for those worst affected by the disaster.

“Penny Appeal will be working with its partners on the ground to support the affected communities and provide much-needed assistance to the victims of this calamity,” the Yorkshire-based charity said.

“This will include those who have lost their homes, who have lost family members and who have no means of obtaining food, water or medicines.”

Charitable organizations in many countries have quickly mobilized to send aid and deploy rescue teams after the earthquakes and aftershocks, which killed more than 7,200 people. The initial magnitude 7.8 quake and a series of strong aftershocks cut a swath of destruction across hundreds of miles of southeastern Turkiye and northern Syria. They toppled thousands of buildings, heaping more misery on a region already suffering as a result of the 12-year civil war in Syria and the resultant refugee crisis.

“The initial 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck near the city of Gaziantep in Turkiye has been reported as the worst earthquake to hit the region in a century,” Penny Appeal said.

“This earthquake that caused hundreds of deaths and widespread damage was followed by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake reported to have caused further deaths and destruction across the Elbistan district of Turkiye’sKahramanmaras province.

“The third earthquake, of 6.0 magnitude, followed within hours of the first, causing complete havoc and despair for communities across Turkiye and Syria, leaving thousands injured and many more expected deaths.”

The charity added that its partners on the ground “are working closely with the local authorities and other aid agencies to coordinate their relief efforts and ensure that aid reaches those who need it most.”

Ahmad Boston, director of marketing and communications at Penny Appeal, said: “The victims of the earthquake in Turkiye desperately need our help.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2246911/world

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UK accuses Syrian president of rebuilding chemical weapon stockpile

February 08, 2023

NEW YORK CITY: The UK on Tuesday accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of restocking his regime’s arsenal of chemical weapons for at least the past five years.

Barbara Woodward, Britain’s permanent representative to the UN, told the Security Council that her country is “gravely concerned that the Assad regime has been working actively to rebuild its chemical weapons stockpile since at least 2018, in flagrant violation of its obligations (under) the Chemical Weapons Convention.”

Her allegation came during a meeting of the council to discuss the implementation of Resolution 2118. It followed a recent report by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the watchdog responsible for implementing the CWC, that concluded there is enough evidence to conclude that a chemical attack on the city of Douma in April 2018 was carried out by the Syrian Arab Air Force.

Resolution 2118 was unanimously adopted in September 2013 following a UN investigation that confirmed the use of chemical weapons against civilians during an attack in a suburb of Damascus.

It ordered the Syrian regime to destroy its stockpiles of chemical weapons by mid-2014, and set out punitive measures to be imposed in the event of non-compliance. It also banned Syria from using, developing, producing, acquiring, stockpiling or retaining chemical weapons, or transferring them to other states or non-state actors.

In October 2013, Syria submitted to the OPCW a formal initial declaration of its chemical weapons program, including a plan for destroying its stockpiles.

Fernando Arias, the director general of the OPCW on Tuesday briefed the council on the latest report by the organization’s Investigation and Identification Team. He said there were “reasonable grounds” to believe the Syrian Arab Air Force was responsible for the chemical attack on Douma five years ago.

The IIT, which is responsible for identifying the perpetrators of such attacks in Syria, concluded that on the evening of April 7, 2018, at least one helicopter belonging to the Syrian army’s elite Tiger Forces division dropped two yellow canisters filled with toxic chlorine gas onto two residential buildings in the city.

The attack resulted in the confirmed deaths of 43 named civilians. Some estimates put the true toll at 50. At least 100 people were injured.

Now that the world knows the facts, Arias added, it is up to the international community to take appropriate action.

The IIT said it reached its conclusions about the identity of the perpetrators on the basis of “reasonable grounds,” the standard of proof consistently adopted by international fact-finding bodies and commissions of inquiry.

According to the report, the third published by the team, investigators, analysts and several external independent experts scrutinized physical evidence collected from the scene of the attack, which included environmental and biomedical samples, witness statements and other verified data such as forensic analyses and satellite images.

“The IIT considered a range of possible scenarios and tested their validity against the evidence they gathered and analyzed to reach their conclusion: That the Syrian Arab Air Forces are the perpetrators of this attack,” the OPCW said.

Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, the under secretary for arms control and international security at the US mission to the UN, also expressed concerns about Assad’s efforts to rebuild his regime’s chemical weapons program.

“It is not lost on us that many of the Syrian first responders now pulling civilians from the rubble (after Monday’s Earthquake in neighboring Turkiye) were, just a few years ago, helping civilians who had been burned or suffocated by the Assad regime’s chemical weapons,” she told the Security Council.

The IIT has now identified five separate instances of chemical weapons use it attributes to the Assad regime, Jenkins said. The latest report notes that Russian forces were stationed at the base from which the Assad regime helicopters launched the 2018 attack, she added, and jointly controlled the airspace over Douma with the Syrian Air Force.

“The United States and others have also long pointed out the extremely troubling role of the Russian forces in the aftermath of the attack, when Syrian and Russian military police denied and delayed OPCW inspectors access to the site,” Jenkins said.

“In an effort to set up their own staged investigations, they also attempted to sanitize the site and remove incriminating evidence of (chemical weapons) use.”

She added that the OPCW report “puts to rest Russia and Syria’s baseless allegations that opposition forces were to blame for the Douma attack. The IIT made clear that it found such a fable lacked any shred of credibility.”

In common with the majority of council members, Jenkins called for the perpetrators of the attack to be held accountable, and for the Assad regime to comply with its international obligations and provide OPCW staff with “immediate and unfettered” access so that they can continue their investigations.

However, Russia’s permanent representative to the UN repeated his country’s claim that the IIT report is a “hoax.” VassilyNebenzia also again alleged that the work of OPCW and IIT is biased and politicized.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2246876/world

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Scotland’s health secretary drops legal case against nursery for discrimination over Muslim name

February 07, 2023

LONDON: Scotland’s health secretary and his wife have dropped a £30,000 ($36,000) legal case against a nursery they had accused of discriminating against their daughter due to her Muslim-sounding name.

Humza Yousaf and Nadia El-Nakla claimed in August 2021 that the Little Scholars day nursery in the Scottish city of Dundee had refused to give their 2-year-old daughter a place, while at the same time had taken in children with “white Scottish-sounding” names.

El-Nakla, along with one of her white friends, subsequently applied to the nursery using fictitious applications for children with “white-sounding names,” who were accepted.

In a Twitter thread posted by Yousaf and his wife at the time, which laid out their allegations, the health secretary said: “I cannot tell you how angry I am.”

The couple launched legal action following a report from the Care Inspectorate, which upheld their complaint and found the nursery did not “promote fairness, equality and respect.” It instructed the nursery to make changes in its procedures.

The owner of Little Scholars, Usha Fowdar, who herself is of South Asian origin, was reported to be “furious” at allegations of discrimination on religious or ethnic grounds at the time of the complaint.

The legal representative for Yousaf and El-Nakla, who is one of the most prominent Muslim politicians in the Scottish National Party, confirmed court proceedings had ceased, the BBC reported.

“[The couple] only ever wanted the nursery to accept the findings of the independent Care Inspectorate investigation and for the nursery to make changes,” Aamer Anwar said.

“The nursery owners may wish to say that they were prepared 100 percent to go to court, but this was a joint agreement reached, and on their acknowledgment of the findings of an independent investigation and implementing the necessary changes in full.”

Fowdar said in a statement on Tuesday: “Whilst we were 100 percent prepared to see Ms El-Nakla in court, we are extremely pleased that this baseless legal action has been terminated.

“It bears repeating that, despite some extremely misleading headlines and spurious allegations, the Care Inspectorate identified administrative processes for improvement which had nothing to do with discrimination, because there never was any discrimination.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2246811/world

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EU conference starts with silence honoring losses in Türkiye earthquakes

Agnes Szucs

07.02.2023

BRUSSELS

By the request of EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, the EU diplomatic service’s conference on disinformation started on Tuesday with a minute of silence honoring the losses in earthquakes that hit Türkiye and Syria.

Borrell started his keynote speech by grieving for the “terrible catastrophe” in Türkiye and Syria at the European External Action Service conference titled Beyond Disinformation: EU Responses to the Threat of Foreign Information Manipulation.

“You have to remember the victims and the brave rescue workers who are still working around the clock to find the survivors,” Borrell said.

He called on the audience to start the event with a “minute of silence for those who have passed away and for the people who are working there.”

After the pause, Borrell said he talked on Monday to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

In a slightly emotional comment, the EU foreign policy chief also revealed that he thinks a lot about “the people who are trapped under the rubbles.”

At least 3,432 people were killed and 21,103 others were injured in 10 provinces of Türkiye after two strong earthquakes on Monday jolted the southern part of the country, according to latest figures by the country’s disaster agency on Tuesday.

The earthquakes were also felt in several countries in the region, including Lebanon and Syria.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/eu-conference-starts-with-silence-honoring-losses-in-turkiye-earthquakes/2809724

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Iran, Russia have deep-rooted, developing ties in various fields: Top security official

07 February 2023

Iran and Russia have deep-rooted and expanding relations in various economic, defense, military, security and scientific fields, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani says.

Shamkhani made the remarks upon his arrival in Moscow where he is scheduled to participate in the fifth round of the regional security dialogue in the Russian capital of Moscow on Wednesday.

He noted that it was necessary to review the roadmap drawn up by the two countries’ top officials for strengthening bilateral cooperation over the next two decades.

Back in January, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said the Iranian and Russian presidents have tasked the top diplomats of the two countries with working out the 20-year roadmap for cooperation.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Shamkhani said the participants at the regional security dialogue meeting would discuss the latest political, economic and security developments in Afghanistan.

Iran’s top security official noted that the problems of the Afghan people are rooted in the ineffectiveness of the occupying forces and the post-occupation incidents.

The ways to settle issues in the war-stricken country would be discussed in the Moscow meeting, given the fact that “Afghanistan can become a crisis point in the region,” he said.

Looking at all regional countries hit by foreign intervention, he went on, one can see that the problems in those countries are caused by two central issues, namely “creating discord within them and preventing the resolution of regional crises by the countries of the region themselves.”

He further emphasized that extra-regional powers are the ones sowing discord in regional countries and interfering in their internal affairs in an attempt to limit their power to solve regional crises.

The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, despite the fact that no Afghan national was involved in the attacks. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans died in the US war of aggression on the country.

American forces had occupied the country for about two decades on the pretext of fighting against the Taliban. But as the US forces left Afghanistan in August last year, the Taliban stormed into the capital Kabul, which was weakened by continued foreign occupation.

The Taliban took over the capital Kabul on August 8, 2021, and declared that the war in Afghanistan was over. The militants entered the presidential palace after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

Hundreds of thousands of Afghans died in the US war on the country while Washington’s irresponsible withdrawal is also leading to a humanitarian crisis in the war-torn state.

Secretaries, advisers and representatives of the national security organization of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries plan to take part in the Moscow meeting to exchange views about the political, economic and security developments in the country.

Shamkhani is scheduled to meet some of his counterparts and discuss bilateral, regional and international issues on the sidelines of the meeting.

Source: Press TV

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2023/02/07/697750/Iran-Russia-Shamkhani-Moscow-Afghanistan-regional-dialogue-relations-roadmap--

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Southeast Asia

 

NGOs from Malaysia-Indonesia aim to collect RM3m to aid Turkiye, Syria victims

08-02- 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: A coalition of 23 Malaysian and Indonesian humanitarian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are targetting to collect RM3 million to aid victims of the earthquake in Turkiye and Syria.

Among the agencies involved in the NGO coalition of the humanitarian mission are Malaysia For Syria; Global Peace Mission (GPM) Malaysia; Muslim Volunteer Malaysia (MVM); Hayrat Relief Malaysia; Impactive Malaysia; Cinta Syria Malaysia; DT Peduli Indonesia; Asar Humanity Indonesia dan Childrity.

Malaysia for Syria chief executive officer SyahrirAzfar Saleh who is representing coalition said the joint venture involving both countries was to ensure that the aid provided was large-scale, has a positive impact on the Turkish and Syrian communities affected by the earthquake.

‘We would like to create one momentum of togetherness in channelling aid to Turkiye and Syria. We are now working on providing early aid totalling RM250,000 commitments from our NGO friends and it will be handed over and taken to Turkiye and Syria this week.

“We are focussing on three types of aid, SAR operations equipment, emergency first aid needs like tents, petrol and fuel (for the winter), canvas and hot food, as well as recovery assistance such as their placement,“ he said.

He announced this at a virtual press conference ‘Malaysia For Syria’ and Global Peace Mission with a coalition of 21 Malaysian humanitarian NGOs concerned about the Turkiye and Syrian earthquakes through the Zoom application yesterday.

Syahrir said the priority of the aid mission is to collect RM250,000 to deploy a reconnaissance team and to purchase early-stage aid items.

He said the five-member reconnaissance team will also be sent to Turkiye and Syria at least by Thursday (Feb 9) to conduct field surveys and purchase early aid items for the earthquake victims.

“We will go to Turkiye first to offer our assistance because to enter Syria we will need to get clearance from Turkiye first. We have expressed our intention to the Turkiye Embassy in Malaysia for a special clearance and this may take time but we are hoping the clearance will be given to us quickly.

“From Malaysia, we will focus on cash contributions. Besides that, only first-hand items like clothes and daily items are accepted. The conditions are not imposed arbitrarily but they are requirements by Turkiye,” he said.

Syahrir also said the coalition has also established two temporary aid and protection coordination centres in Gaziantep, Turkey and Aleppo, Syria.

The total value of this initial aid amounted to RM400,000.

“Contributions to this relief mission can be channelled to any NGOs involved in this coalition. We are in solidarity with friends in Turkiye and Syria. We ask for the help and support of Malaysians and Indonesians in this relief mission,“ he said.

Source: TheSunDaily

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.thesundaily.my/home/ngos-from-malaysia-indonesia-aim-to-collect-rm3m-to-aid-turkiye-syria-victims-LH10608535

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Marvel superheroes return to China after nearly 4 years

February 7, 2023

SHANGHAI: Marvel’s superheroes began their return to China’s massive movie market after an apparent ban of nearly four years on Tuesday, with fans streaming into cinemas to watch “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”.

The Disney-owned studio’s hugely popular franchises have been absent from Chinese screens since 2019, with no explanation.

Marvel blockbusters have raked in billions globally, and their return to one of the world’s biggest movie markets means hundreds of millions of dollars in potential earnings for Disney – the first Black Panther film alone took in US$105 million at Chinese cinemas.

“I’m super excited,” said a woman named Chen, beaming as she lined up to enter a packed theatre in Shanghai for the midnight premiere of “Wakanda Forever”.

“I’ve had to use streaming sites to watch the last couple of movies… But I hope this means I’ll watch Marvel movies more often in theatres now.”

The end of the apparent block on Marvel films has coincided with China’s loosening of the strict zero-Covid policies that disrupted its entertainment industry for years.

China’s communist rulers have also recently eased a tech crackdown, including on the lucrative gaming sector.

“Because of Covid, it’s already been a long time since we’ve been to the cinema,” said hospital worker Kun, 25, who came to the Shanghai theatre to watch “Wakanda Forever” with his friends.

“We still have to work tomorrow but it’s a rare opportunity so we came here.”

For one mother-and-son duo at the Shanghai cinema, the return of Marvel revived a family tradition.

“He’s always been a Marvel fan – during the Avengers series, we would always watch the midnight screening,” said Lin Fan, with her visibly excited 13-year-old son Jiang Xiaoyi.

Next up for Chinese Marvel fans is “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania”, set for release on February 17.

Lucrative market

“Spider-Man: Far from Home” was the last Marvel film released in China, in July 2019.

The China Film Administration, affiliated with the Communist Party’s propaganda department, has not given a reason for the absence of Marvel films from cinemas.

During that period, Disney declined requests by censors to remove references to same-sex relationships in Marvel films, including 2021’s “Eternals” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” a year later.

However, the global media giant has also faced accusations of bending to Beijing’s will.

Its remake of “Mulan” faced boycott calls after it emerged that some of the scenes were filmed in China’s Xinjiang, where widespread rights abuses against the region’s Muslim population have been widely documented.

And two episodes of the popular animated show “The Simpsons” have been unavailable on the company’s Disney+ streaming service in Hong Kong — one that references the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, and another mentioning “forced labour camps” in China.

Regulators and Disney have not publicly commented on the apparent restriction of these episodes.

Disney is not the only company accused of bowing to censorship requirements in China, a multi-billion-dollar media market.

A 2020 report by the anti-censorship group Pen America said Hollywood studios changed scripts, deleted scenes and altered other content to avoid offending Chinese authorities.

Source:Free Malaysia Today

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/leisure/entertainment/2023/02/07/marvel-superheroes-return-to-china-after-nearly-4-years/

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Why fear MACC probe if you’re clean, Anwar tells Bersatu

Elill Easwaran

February 6, 2023

PETALING JAYA: Political parties that are free of corruption should have nothing to fear if they are investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Prime Minister and PKR president Anwar Ibrahim said today.

He said Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin had fully supported a similar move by MACC to freeze Umno’s accounts in 2018 as part of an investigation into the 1MDB scandal. Muhyiddin was the then home minister.

“Muhyiddin even praised the MACC’s professionalism,” Anwar said at a press conference here this evening with PKR deputy president Rafizi Ramli and secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

Anwar said the government had no desire to interfere with the process. “If you’re clean, then don’t be scared,” he said.

On the brink of ruin because of corruption

He called for enforcement and legislative bodies to be provided space to carry out their task of combating corruption and abuse of power.

“This country is on the brink of being ruined because excesses and corruption have become part of a system that is not easily dismantled.

“Believe me that after several months in the government, I am confident this problem is one that is truly complicated and difficult to take down.

“And that is why political leaders should not be using religious and racial arguments to question anti-corruption efforts,” he said, Bernama reported.

Anwar said he was making this call because there were some who had been citing petty religious points to defend corruption and abuse of power.

However, no religion, including Islam, can be used to defend such tainted acts, “what more Islam which firmly rejects abuse of power and destruction of a system caused by corruption that has been rampant in this country”.

Last week, MACC chief Azam Baki confirmed that Bersatu’s accounts had been frozen under the law against money laundering. It is understood the action is linked to an investigation into alleged misappropriation of billions of ringgit meant for Covid-19 stimulus packages.

On Thursday, Muhyiddin said the party will write to MACC seeking the immediate lifting of the freeze if MACC did not find any proof of misappropriation of funds or abuse of power.

Source:Free Malaysia Today

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2023/02/06/dont-fear-macc-probe-if-youre-clean-anwar-tells-bersatu/

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Calls mount on Philippine government to review labor agreements with Kuwait

ELLIE ABEN

February 07, 2023

MANILA: Philippine lawmakers are calling on the government to review labor agreements with Kuwait after increasing reports of abuse, including a brutal murder, of Filipino migrant workers.

The murder of 35-year-old maid JullebeeRanara, whose charred body was found abandoned in a desert in late January, had sent shockwaves across the Philippines. She was one of over 268,000 Filipino workers living in Kuwait, a group of mostly women employed as domestic helpers.

After Ranara’s murder, Philippine authorities tightened rules for recruitment agencies in Kuwait. In another case that emerged in the media recently, a Filipina worker in Kuwait was reportedly paralyzed after trying to escape her abusive employer.

“There is growing clamor for a review of all labor agreements entered by the Philippines with countries of destination to determine specific guidelines and mechanisms needed for the protection of their human rights,” lawmaker Marissa Magsino said in a resolution introduced in the House of Representatives on Monday.

The agreements, Magsino said, must not only ensure the welfare of overseas Filipino workers and guarantee their access to legal support but also “provide for serious consequences” in cases of abuse.

She told Arab News on Tuesday that such bilateral labor agreements are very important, “especially with Kuwait,” where about 100 overseas Filipino workers were now at a shelter, waiting for repatriation.

“They are those who were maltreated, abused, and then they ran away (from their employer),” the lawmaker, who is also a member of the House’s Overseas Workers Affairs committee, said.

“The only reason why they are in the shelter is that it’s the last recourse for them to seek refuge, to be able to run away from their abusive employers.”

Ranara’s murder was not the first such incident in Kuwait, where the 2018 killing of a Filipina domestic helper, Joanna Daniela Demafelis, whose body was found in a freezer at an abandoned apartment, led to the Philippines imposing a worker deployment ban to the Gulf country.

The ban was partially lifted that same year after the two countries signed a protection agreement for workers.

But it was again introduced in January 2020, after the 2019 killings of Filipina maid Constancia Lago Dayag and JeanelynVillavende, who was tortured by her employer to death.

The ban was lifted when Kuwaiti authorities charged Villavende’s employer with murder and sentenced her to hanging.

According to Sen. Rafael Tulfo, another ban might be needed following the latest incidents. He has also called for a “tighter screening process on foreign employers to avoid abuse and maltreatment of (Overseas Filipino Workers),” his office said in a statement on Monday.

Source: Arab News

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2246541/world

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