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Islamic World News ( 1 Jun 2022, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Azan Arrives to Minneapolis Soundscape as US Allows Public Broadcast by Its Two Dozen Mosques

New Age Islam News Bureau

02 June 2022

 

A member of the Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center recites the Islamic call to prayer, or Azan, on Thursday, May 12, 2022, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

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• Muslim and Protestant Politicians Receive Communion at German Catholic Event

• China ‘Shoots and Kills’ Anyone Who Tries To Escape From Internment Camps in Xinjiang

• Clash of Shariah and Common Law: Freedom of Religion Is Not an Absolute Right: Faizan Mustafa

• Tunisian President Purges Judges after Instituting One-Man Rule

 

North America

• UN Registers 'Türkiye' As New Country Name to Replace 'Turkey'

• NATO 'ready to sit down and address' Turkish security concerns

• US denies shelving plans for de facto Palestinian Embassy

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Europe

• In Historic First, New Australian Premier Picks 2 Muslim Cabinet Ministers

• Belgian Muslims, Jews submit petition protesting ban on animal slaughter by religious rules

• Terror organization PKK's supporters march to central London

• German court convicts Daesh returnee who took daughter to Syria

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Southeast Asia

• Zahid: Forget 'New Malaysia', Time to Bring Back 'Original Malaysia' Under BN

• Muslim teachers group appeals High Court ruling on vernacular schools

• Amid calls for GE, Najib reflects on consequences of ‘delayed’ polls

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India

• UP Power Department Officer, Ravindra Prakash Gautam, Says Osama Bin-Laden 'Best Engineer', Suspended

• Muslim Men Leaving Jahangirpuri Out of Fear of Police Harassment, Say Locals

• Extend Caste Census to Muslims, Exclude Infiltrators, Says Union Minister Giriraj Singh

• To Stay Afloat In Mathura, Muslim Hotelier Replaces Staff with Hindus

• India, Bangladesh flag off new passenger train service, Mitali Express

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Africa

• ‘Terrorist attack’ on UN convoy in Mali kills Jordan peacekeeper, injures three

• Somali president urges immediate international humanitarian action as drought escalates

• Libya’s Dbeibeh calls for resuming oil exports amid dispute on revenues

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Arab World

• Entry of the Lord into Egypt: Egypt’s Coptic Christians Put Down Roots around The World, But Remained Grounded in Their Culture

• Syria: 50 Detained Islamic State Fighters Returned To Iraq

• SDF commander raises concern over new Turkish threat in Syria

• ‘Major Confrontation’ With Hezbollah Ahead, Says Lebanon Christian Politician

• Lavrov: Gulf countries will not impose sanctions on Russia over Ukraine

• Rocket attack by YPG/PKK terror group injures 3 civilians in northern Syria

• Gulf united on Russia-Ukraine war, says Saudi foreign minister

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South Asia

• UNAMA Calls on the Taliban to Release Journalists and End “Draconian Measures”

• No Major Issues with Pak, Won’t Allow Terror Acts from Afghan Soil: Afghanistan’s Defence Minister Mullah Yaqoob

• Islamic Republic Of Pakistan Donates A Street Library to Sri Lanka

• Indian officials visit Kabul for first Taliban meet since US left

• Taliban forces kill four NRF members in Afghanistan’s Tagab

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Mideast              

• 148 Israeli Violations against Palestinian Journalists in May: NGO

• Israel army shoots, kills Palestinian during raid in West Bank

• Erdogan says Turkey to rid Syria's Tal Rifaat, Manbij of terrorists

• Iran Seriously Pursuing Settlement of Dust Storms Problem with Iraq, Syria

• SNSC Secretary: Abadan's People to Overcome Hardship after Metropol Incident

• Turkey breaks off high-level talks with Greece as rift grows

• Israel says Iron Beam laser-based missile shield to cost just $2 per interception

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Pakistan

• 'Don't Dare To Cross Limits': PM Shehbaz Warns Imran against Talking About Pakistan Breaking Apart

• PTI seeks apex court’s protection from ‘state torture’

• Pakistan Jirga Lands in Kabul to Take Talks with Pak Taliban Forward

• Pak Govt, TTP Agree To Extend Ceasefire Indefinitely Amidst Ongoing Negotiations To End Militancy

• Country to head towards civil war if elections not announced: Imran Khan

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:   https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/azan-minneapolis-us-mosques/d/127156

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Azan Arrives to Minneapolis Soundscape as US Allows Public Broadcast by Its Two Dozen Mosques

 

A member of the Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center recites the Islamic call to prayer, or Azan, on Thursday, May 12, 2022, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

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June 2, 2022

The chant in Arabic blasted from rooftop loudspeakers, drowning out both the growl of traffic from nearby interstates and the chatter and clinking glasses on the patio of the dive bar that shares a wall with Minneapolis’ oldest Somali mosque.

Dozens of men in fashionably ripped jeans or impeccably ironed Kameez tunics rushed toward the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque. Teens clutched smartphones, and some of the older devout shuffled in with the aid of walkers from the high-rise complex across the street where thousands of Somalis live.

This spring Minneapolis became the first large city in the United States to allow the Islamic call to prayer, or Azan, to be broadcast publicly by its two dozen mosques.

As more of them get ready to join Dar Al-Hijrah in doing so, the transforming soundscape is testament to the large and increasingly visible Muslim community, which is greeting the change with both celebration and caution, lest it cause backlash.

“It’s a sign that we are here,” said Yusuf Abdulle, who directs the Islamic Association of North America, a network of three dozen mostly East African mosques. Half of them are in Minnesota, home to rapidly growing numbers of refugees from war-torn Somalia since the late 1990s.

Abdulle said that when he arrived in the United States two decades ago, “the first thing I missed was the Azan. We drop everything and answer the call of God.” The Azan declares that God is great and proclaims the Prophet Muhammad as his messenger. It exhorts men _ women are not required _ to go to the closest mosque five times a day for prayer, which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

Its cadences are woven into the rhythm of daily life in Muslim-majority countries, but it’s a newcomer to the streets of Minneapolis, which resonate with city traffic, the rumble of snowplows in winter and tornado siren drills in summer.

Americans have long debated the place of religious sound in public, especially when communities are transformed by migration, said Isaac Weiner, a scholar of religious studies at Ohio State University.

“What we take for granted and what stands out is informed by who we think of ourselves as a community,” he said. “We respond to sounds based on who’s making them.” That’s especially true when the sound is not a bell or a horn, but spoken words, as in the Azan.

“Hearing that voice, it’s a connection to God even if at work or in the fields or a classroom,” said Abdisalam Adam, who often prays at Dar Al-Hijrah. “It’s a balance of this world and the hereafter.” Dar Al-Hijrah got a special permit to broadcast for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in spring 2020, when Minnesota was under a pandemic lockdown, so the faithful could hear the Azan from home, mosque director Wali Dirie said.

Soon it was resounding from speakers set up with the help of First Avenue, a nightclub made famous by Prince.

People thought they were dreaming and wept at their windows.

That community need led to the recent resolution authorizing the broadcasts more broadly. It establishes decibel levels and hourly limits in line with the city’s noise ordinance, meaning that the early-morning and late-night calls to prayer are only aired indoors.

At Dar Al-Hijrah now, elders call the prayer three times a day, drawing youth like Mohamad Mooh, 17, who arrived just five months ago. He said he wishes the broadcasts were even louder like back in Somalia, where the early morning calls woke him up.

“I know it’s a little bit complicated because of the society,” Mooh added after a recent packed prayer service.

Just like some Americans opposed church bells in the 19th century, the call to prayer has led to disputes over the years, from Duke University to Culver City, California. In Hamtramck, a small city surrounded by Detroit, councilors exempted religious sounds from the noise ordinance at a mosque’s request. Coming in the aftermath of 9/11, the amendment got embroiled in national controversy, but a referendum to revoke it failed.

In the predominantly Somali neighborhood of Cedar-Riverside, tucked between downtown and two college campuses, Dar Al-Hijrah mosque’s Azan has met no backlash.

Hoping to also prevent it, the Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center in south Minneapolis, which hosts some 1,000 men for Friday midday prayers, plans to hold meetings with neighbors before broadcasting publicly this summer.

“We care about the neighbors,” said Abdullahi Farah, the center’s director. “We have to talk to them, explain to them and at least share our views on this.” Abdullahi Mohammed stopped at Abubakar on a recent afternoon when he was driving by and was alerted by a call-to-prayer app, which he and many others use in the absence of a public broadcast. He said he would love to hear the Azan ringing out everywhere because it would teach Muslim children to pray “automatically”- but also acknowledged non-Muslim neighbors “might feel different.”

Between hesitancy to provoke tensions, technical complexities and the challenges of arranging for someone with Arabic and vocal skills to chant the call live, several mosques may decide not to broadcast, said Jaylani Hussein, director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

But other mosques are already eager to push for permission to broadcast all five prayers and hope to see Minneapolis set an example for cities across the country.

“We want Muslims to fully exist here in America,” Hussein said, adding that the Azan is the “last piece to make this home. It’s incredibly important for Muslims to know their religious rights are never infringed upon.” Several neighborhood groups consulted by The Associated Press said that while no formal discussions have been held yet, they expect most residents will be accepting.

“People will ask, What’s that? and then say, That’s cool,” predicted Tabitha Montgomery, director of the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association.

At two churches, founded more than a century ago by Scandinavian immigrants and now within earshot of the Azan, leaders also had no objections.

Trinity Lutheran Congregation collaborates with Dar Al-Hijrah on charity and outreach events. Pastor Jane Buckley-Farlee said she likes hearing the Azan from her office.

“It reminds me that God is bigger than we know,” she said.

Hierald Osorto, pastor of the predominantly Spanish-speaking St. Paul Lutheran Church near Abubakar and another mosque, also anticipates no pushback from his flock.

In fact, he’s been thinking of bringing back the long-broken church bell as a way to gather the congregation and make it more visible in the neighborhood.

“It allows us to be known,” Osorto said.

Mowlid Ali, the imam at Abubakar, said part of the aim in broadcasting the Azan is precisely that mix of claiming belonging and outreach.

“We hope that through calling the Azan in public, it would actually bring more interest from the neighbors in knowing about the religion of Islam,” Ali said.

Source: Indian Express

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

https://indianexpress.com/article/world/muslim-call-to-prayer-arrives-to-minneapolis-soundscape-7948133/

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Muslim and Protestant Politicians Receive Communion at German Catholic Event

 

Bishop Gebhard Fürst of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, Germany. | Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart.

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June 2, 2022

A Muslim politician and at least one Protestant politician have received Communion at Masses celebrated by bishops during a multi-day Catholic event in Germany.

The same event, held on May 25-29, reportedly barred organizers of the German March for Life from having a stall.

Muhterem Aras, a Turkish-born Muslim and prominent state parliamentarian of Germany’s environmentalist Greens, received Communion at the opening Mass in Stuttgart, southern Germany, celebrated by local Bishop Gebhard Fürst, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

While Aras received the Eucharist, Sabine Foth, president of the Protestant state synod, “kept her distance ‘out of respect for the bishop,’” said the local newspaper Stuttgarter Nachrichten.

CNA Deutsch contacted the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart for comment but had not received a response at the time of publication. At least one Protestant politician did receive Communion at a later date.

The Katholikentag (“Catholics Day”) is a biannual event organized by the local diocese together with the Central Committee of German Catholics, a lay organization supported by the German bishops’ conference.

This year, the event made headlines ahead of its opening when a pro-life organization accused organizers of barring it from having a stall.

The Federal Association for Life oversees the March for Life in Berlin. When applying for a stand at the Katholikentag, it was reportedly told by organizers that they were “unable to determine that your organization is clearly Christian,” according to a statement by the association’s president Alexandra Maria Linder.

Another well-known Protestant politician received Communion personally from Bishop Georg Bätzing, chairman of the German bishops’ conference, at the same event.

Thomas de Maizière, a former defense minister and interior minister who served in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet for 12 years, was seen receiving the Eucharist from Bishop Bätzing, reported CNA Deutsch.

An image of Bätzing giving Communion to the prominent Protestant was posted on Twitter.

A spokesperson for the German bishops’ conference confirmed that Bätzing had been approached by de Maizìere before Mass and the politician subsequently received Communion from the bishop.

The bishops’ spokesperson added there is “not yet full church Communion between the Protestant and Catholic churches and therefore no general communion. A Protestant Christian who has examined himself, shares the faith in the presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, and comes to the Lord’s Table may receive Holy Communion on a case-by-case basis.”

Bätzing has repeatedly expressed qualified support for intercommunion with Protestants, telling journalists in February 2021 that it was necessary to respect the “personal decision of conscience” of those seeking to receive Communion.

Bätzing also led an ecumenical study group that published the 2019 document “Together at the Lord’s Table,” proposing a “Eucharistic meal fellowship” between Catholics and Protestants.

The situation triggered a response by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in September 2020.

In a four-page critique and letter to Bätzing, the doctrinal congregation emphasized that significant differences in understanding of the Eucharist and ministry remained between Protestants and Catholics.

“The doctrinal differences are still so important that they currently rule out reciprocal participation in the Lord’s Supper and the Eucharist,” it said.

“The document cannot therefore serve as a guide for an individual decision of conscience about approaching the Eucharist.”

The CDF cautioned against any steps toward intercommunion between Catholics and members of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD).

Following the Vatican intervention, Bätzing reaffirmed his view that intercommunion with Protestants should be possible.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, the Swiss president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, also expressed serious misgivings about the “Eucharistic meal fellowship” proposal.

There was little sign of such a fellowship being wilfully orchestrated in Stuttgart, CNA Deutsch reported, quoting local media as saying that there was some confusion about who could receive Communion, with one Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion telling a Protestant visitor: “I don’t know. I only know that this is the Body of Christ.”

Despite the controversies, a survey showed that most Catholics are not interested in the event, CNA Deutsch reported. Attendance numbers are dwindling, while the costs are extensive, with the Stuttgart event expected to cost more than 10 million euros (around $11 million).

Source: Eurasia Review

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

https://www.eurasiareview.com/02062022-muslim-and-protestant-politicians-receive-communion-at-german-catholic-event/

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China ‘Shoots and Kills’ Anyone Who Tries To Escape From Internment Camps in Xinjiang

 

Representative Image

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2nd June 2022

Beijing: The ugly face of Chinese repressions on Uyghur minorities in Xinjiang once again surfaced after an academician Andrian Zenz disclosed the disturbing realities of China’s minority policy.

The files disclosed by Zenz include a 2017 internal speech by Chen Ouranguo, a former Communist Party Secretary in Xinjiang, in which he is reportedly ordered guards in internment camps to shoot and kill anyone who tries to escape and directed officials in the region to “exercise firm control over religious believers,” reported The HK Post.

The files also consist of thousands of photos and official documents from China’s Xinjiang confirming the unscrupulous, harsh and violent treatment of Uyghur minorities in the country.

Although China has denied violation of human rights of the minorities in the country, the leaked photographs and internal documents sent to Zenz by an anonymous source who hacked into the official database in Xinjiang point to the contrary.

China has forced Uyghurs into mass internments

China has forced Uyghurs into mass internments notwithstanding its claim that the internments were voluntary. The leaked data vindicates allegations of Chinese authorities allegedly detaining over one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in a network of detention centres and prisons in the region.

Earlier, it was alleged that hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs as well as Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and other ethnic minorities were forcibly held in camps for communist indoctrination and training.

The ghettoization and forceful detentions were started somewhere in the year 2015 when a senior Chinese communist official apparently noted that “a third” of Xinjiang’s Uyghurs were “polluted by religious extremist forces”, and needed to be “educated and reformed through concentrated force”.

Xinjiang, inhabited by ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities never seemed fully within the Communist Party’s grasp, according to many analysts. Since July 2009 and till 2016 there had been several instances of violent disputes between Uyghur and Han Chinese, reported The HK Post.

These violent reactions from Xinjiang Muslims were sparked by the Chinese government’s diktats coercing them to give up their ethnic identity to follow Chinese-type communism, efforts to change the demography of the region encroaching on living space as well as employment opportunities of Uyghurs.

Response of threats of extremism, terrorism, claims China

Instead of meeting the aspirations of the ethnic minorities and ensuring their human rights, Beijing maintained that its actions in Xinjiang were justified in response to the threats of extremism and terrorism.

It did not address the reasons for the agitation among Muslim ethnic minorities. On the contrary, it tried to promote their assimilation into the Han culture, often by force, reported The HK Post.

The latest documents reveal a 2018 internal speech apparently by Public Security Minister Zhao Kezhi citing direct orders from President Xi Jinping to increase the capacity of detention facilities.

According to the documents, Chinese officials believed that two million people in Xinjiang alone had been “severely influenced by the infiltration of extremist religious thought”.

Source: Siasat Daily

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

https://www.siasat.com/china-shoots-and-kills-anyone-who-tries-to-escape-from-internment-camps-2339553/

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Clash of Shariah and Common Law: Freedom Of Religion Is Not An Absolute Right: Faizan Mustafa

 

Rahmani and Mustafa

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JS Ifthekhar

1st June 2022

Hyderabad: The controversy over the umbrage taken by Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, Secretary, All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), at the remarks of Faizan Mustafa, Vice Chancellor, NALSAR University, that the law of the land would prevail over the Shariah law, has deepened with the latter coming out strongly in defence of what he stated at a recent book release function here.

In a video uploaded today as part of his Legal Awareness Web Series, Faizan Mustafa counter questioned whether Muslims are governed by religion or laws made by the Parliament? Reacting to the report published by Siasat.com, he said as citizens of the country people have no choice but to follow the country’s legal system. Even those who are not citizens are also bound by the country’s laws the moment they land in its territory. The same is the case with other countries.

“Therefore to ask the people whether they considered the law of Parliament supreme or the law of Shariah is not a proper question at all,” the Vice Chancellor said and added that perhaps the Maulana also did not want to put it the way it is reported.

Acknowledging that he had immense respect for the Maulana and also for experts of every field, he described Maulana Rahmani as a renowned scholar and an expert in Islamic law. “But my expertise is law and not religion. I can’t show to the country what religion is and it is not my duty either,” he remarked.

In a detailed clarification he declared that he is not trained in theological questions nor are judges trained in common law. Cases that come to the court are decided on the basis of law and judges should not wade into the field of theology – be it Hindu, Christian, Jain or Islamic–since law and theology are two different things. Law prescribes human behaviour from which it judges deviants. Moreover, it is the Constitution which gives the freedom of religion and also lays down its limitations. “We can follow religion to the extent it doesn’t affect public order, health, morality and other fundamental rights,” the VC said.

He recalled how he questioned the essentiality doctrine in the Sabrimala case. The Supreme Court has accepted his argument and constituted a larger bench which is examining whether the judiciary has to decide the essential and non-essential features and practices of a religion.

The VC further stated that one is free to believe in one God, Trinity, Nirakar or Sakar. It is a thing which law doesn’t determine. But everyone is bound by the laws made by the Parliament and State Assemblies. In this connection he referred to various Acts like the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act 1939, Maternity Benefits Act, LIC Act, Consumer Protection Act, Dowry Prohibition Act, Minimum Wages Act and said everyone is bound to follow them.

Fazian Mustafa wants everyone to know that freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution is not an absolute right. It is a restricted right subject to non violation of other fundamental rights. A law can be a law as long as it is consistent with the Constitution, he said and wanted religions to bring in flexibility and make liberal interpretation of their laws so that there is no confrontation with the law of the land.  In case of confrontation the law of land will be followed and religion has to give way. In case of conflict between religion and freedom of speech, the latter will prevail and so will the right to equality and personal liberty.

When contacted, Maulana Rahmani said in the Islamic jurisprudence there is scope for change as per the needs of the time. But change is not possible in commands which are clearly established through the Quran and Hadith. However, rules based on ijtehad (independent reasoning), whoever they may be of, can be changed and are being changed.

Fellow countrymen believe in the existence of Shri Ramji, whose period is several lakh years ago. No historical proof can be presented about it and yet the court has accepted it since it is the belief of the people. In the same way it is the belief of Muslims that the commands given in the Quran and Hadith are from Allah and with the same spirit and belief the Shariat Application Act of 1937 is made. Therefore, it is wrong to think that Muslim Personal Law doesn’t enjoy the status of law,” the Maulana said.

He further stated that the Constitution has permitted everyone to act as per his belief and conscience provided it doesn’t hurt others. All the laws that come under the gambit of Muslim Personal Law are of the same nature. Muslims consider these as unchangeable laws given by Allah and his Messenger. It is wrong to say that Islam has become out of date or its rules have become obsolete. Man made laws become outdated and are amended repeatedly. “But the divine law is up-to-date since it is made by the Creator who knows the present and also the future,” he said.

The Maulana clarified that Muslims are not against the administrative laws made by the Parliament. But if they are against Shariah and morality, Muslims have to keep away from them. Like a man and woman living together without nikah is sin in the eyes of Shairah, although the law may permit it. “But it is necessary to escape from it”, he said.

Acknowledging the expertise of Faizan Mustafa in the field of law, the Maulana said he is of great value to the community and the nation. But it doesn’t mean that one can’t differ from his views, he remarked.

Source: Siasat Daily

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

https://www.siasat.com/clash-of-shariah-and-common-law-freedom-of-religion-is-not-an-absolute-right-faizan-mustafa-2339509/

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Tunisian President Purges Judges After Instituting One-Man Rule

 

Tunisian President Kais Saied speaks REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed/File Photo

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02 June, 2022

Tunisia’s president sacked 57 judges on Wednesday, accusing them of corruption and protecting terrorists in a purge of the judiciary that comes as he seeks to remake the political system after consolidating one-man rule.

In a televised address President Kais Saied said he had “given opportunity after opportunity and warning after warning to the judiciary to purify itself.” Hours later the official gazette published a decree announcing the dismissals.

Among those sacked was Youssef Bouzaker, the former head of the Supreme Judicial Council whose members Saied replaced this year as he moved to take control of the judiciary.

The council had acted as the main guarantor of judicial independence since Tunisia’s 2011 revolution that introduced democracy and Saied’s changes prompted accusations he was interfering in the judicial process.

Another prominent judge on the list of those sacked was Bachir Akremi, whom some political activists accuse of being too close to the Islamist Ennahda party and of stopping cases against it. Ennahda and Akremi both deny that.

Last summer Saied dismissed the government and seized executive power in a move his foes called a coup before setting aside the 2014 constitution to rule by decree and dismissing the elected parliament.

He says his moves were needed to save Tunisia from crisis and his intervention initially appeared to have widespread public support after years of economic stagnation, political paralysis and corruption.

Saied, who has also replaced the independent electoral commission, has also said he will introduce a new constitution this month that he will put to a referendum next month.

However, nearly all Tunisia’s political parties have rejected the move along with the powerful UGTT labour union.

With Tunisia’s economy failing, and with public finances in crisis, Saied meanwhile faces the prospect of growing popular anger over high inflation and unemployment, and declining public services.

The UGTT said this week that public sector workers would go on strike on June 16, posing the biggest direct challenge to Saied’s political stance so far.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/north-africa/2022/06/02/Tunisian-president-purges-judges-after-instituting-one-man-rule

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North America

 UN registers 'Türkiye' as new country name to replace 'Turkey'

Betul Yuruk and Servet Gunerigok  

01.06.2022

UNITED NATIONS

The country name "Türkiye" is replacing "Turkey" at the UN, following a request by Ankara to be referred to as such, the international body announced on Wednesday.

The new brand "Türkiye" is now in place in foreign languages.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said they received a letter by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu addressed to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, requesting the use of "Türkiye" instead of "Turkey" in the international arena.

The spokesman said the country's name change became effective from the moment the letter was received.

Cavusoglu announced the letter's official submission to the UN and other international organizations on Tuesday.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/un-registers-turkiye-as-new-country-name-to-replace-turkey/2603492

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NATO 'ready to sit down and address' Turkish security concerns

Michael Hernandez  

01.06.2022

WASHINGTON

All 30 NATO members are ready to come to the table to address Türkiye's security concerns related to the PKK terror group, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday.

The comments come as Ankara continues to protest Finnish and Swedish membership bids to join the transatlantic alliance, maintaining both countries have supported and provided a safe haven to terrorists, including members of the YPG/PKK and others.

"All NATO allies are of course ready to sit down and address those concerns, including the threats posed to Turkey by PKK, and this is terrorist threats, which of course, is something we are taking very seriously," Stoltenberg told reporters at the State Department where he was being hosted by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

"We know that no other NATO ally has suffered more terrorist attacks than Turkey, and Turkey is an important ally not least because of its strategic geographic location bordering Iraq and Syria," he added.

Stoltenberg said he will convene senior officials from Türkiye, Sweden and Finland in Brussels "in the coming days," adding that he is confident "we will find a united way forward."

Earlier Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sweden and Finland have not yet provided Ankara with concrete responses that meet its expectations.

Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO on May 18, a decision spurred by Russia's war on Ukraine, which began Feb. 24.

But Türkiye, a longstanding member of the alliance, has voiced objections to their membership bids, criticizing the countries for tolerating and even supporting terror groups such as the YPG/PKK and FETO, the group responsible for a failed 2016 coup in Türkiye.

All membership applications must be met by unanimity in the 30-member alliance to be successful.

US warns against Syria operation

Blinken, the top US diplomat, further warned against a Turkish operation in northern Syria, saying "any escalation there in northern Syria is something that we would oppose," maintaining Washington’s support for "the maintenance of the current ceasefire lines."

"The concern that we have is that any new offensive would undermine regional stability such as it is, provide malign actors with opportunities to exploit instability for their own purpose," he said. "We continue effectively to take the fight through partners to Daesh, to ISIS, within Syria, and we don't want to see anything that jeopardizes the efforts that are made to continue to keep ISIS in the box that we put it in.”

Erdogan said Türkiye is set to clear two areas of northern Syria near the Turkish border of terrorist elements in a bid to eliminate the terror threat from the region. The Turkish leader said the operation would target the areas of Tel Rifat and Manbij to protect the nation and residents in northern Syria from the YPG/PKK terror threat.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/nato-ready-to-sit-down-and-address-turkish-security-concerns/2603343

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US denies shelving plans for de facto Palestinian Embassy

Michael Gabriel Hernandez  

01.06.2022

WASHINGTON

The State Department denied Tuesday that it has halted plans to reopen its consulate in Jerusalem, which had served as the US' de facto Embassy to the Palestinians until it was shuttered by former President Donald Trump.

"We remain committed to opening a consulate in Jerusalem. We continue to believe it can be an important way for our country to engage with and provide support to the Palestinian people," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters, later clarifying that he was referring to the "reopening" of the former diplomatic building.

"We're continuing to discuss this with our Israeli and our Palestinian partners, and will continue to consult with members of Congress as well," he added.

The comments came after the Times of Israel reported that the Biden administration is freezing plans to reopen the consulate amid stalwart opposition from Israel, and would instead elevate Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr to become US special envoy to the Palestinians.

The Palestinian Affairs Unit, which is currently housed in the embassy, would begin reporting directly to Amr rather than the US ambassador to Israel, according to the report, which cited anonymous US and Palestinian officials.

Trump closed the US Consulate General in East Jerusalem in March 2019. The building had, for decades, served as Washington's main diplomatic mission to the Palestinians and its staff worked independently of their counterparts in the former US Embassy to Israel in Tel Aviv.

Its mission was instead folded into the US' Israel Embassy two years after Trump relocated it to Jerusalem and recognized the contested city as Israel's capital in a move that continues to roil the Palestinians who are seeking East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Israel has staunchly opposed the reopening of the consulate, with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett saying it does not belong in Jerusalem, which Israel views as its undivided capital.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-denies-shelving-plans-for-de-facto-palestinian-embassy/2602538

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Europe

 

In historic first, new Australian premier picks 2 Muslim Cabinet ministers

Islamuddin Sajid 

01.06.2022

For the first time in the country’s history, Australia’s Cabinet will boast two Muslim members, local media reported.

Anne Aly and Ed Husic, both Muslim members of parliament, were sworn into the Cabinet on Wednesday, SBS News reported.

Husic will be minister for industry and science while Aly will serve as minister for early childhood education and youth.

Husic is the son of a Bosnian Muslim immigrant, while Aly came from Egypt along with her parents when she was 2 years old.

The 23-member Cabinet also includes a record 10 women.

The swearing-in ceremony held in the capital Canberra came 11 days after new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese led the center-left Labor Party to win the May 21 federal elections.

The Australian Muslim Advocacy Network welcomed Albanese's historic decision to include Muslim MPs into his Cabinet.

"This is a day that we never thought we would see and it’s so uplifting – so exciting and great for democracy to have that diversity in parliament," SBS quoted Rita Jabri Markwell, leader of the Australian Muslim Advocacy Network, as saying.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/in-historic-first-new-australian-premier-picks-2-muslim-cabinet-ministers/2603150

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Belgian Muslims, Jews submit petition protesting ban on animal slaughter by religious rules

Selen Temizer and Esra Taskin  

01.06.2022

BRUSSELS

Belgian Muslims and Jews on Wednesday presented 127,000 signatures protesting a proposed ban on the slaughter of animals using their traditional religious rules, known respectively as halal and kosher.

On the last day of about two weeks of debate over the proposed ban in the capital region, representatives of the Muslim and Jewish communities and other members of the public gathered in front of the Brussels Region Parliament to show solidarity in presenting their protest petition.

“We’ve been fighting for a long time because this law the Brussels Parliament is trying to pass in the name of protecting animal welfare is a serious violation of religious freedoms,” Coskun Beyazgul, head of the Belgian Religious Foundation and spokesperson for the Belgian Islamic Coordination Board, told Anadolu Agency.

“If such a decision is made in Brussels, Muslims and Jews will face a great injustice,” said Beyazgul, adding if the law is passed, it will thanks to extreme rightists and racists.

“It would be very bad to give this message from a place where so many different religions and cultures live in peace, in Belgium, and the capital of Europe, Brussels.”

Albert Gigi, the chief rabbi of Brussels, added: “This law is unfair and wrong. It targets religious minorities, especially Muslims and Jews.”

Claiming that some are trying to paint Jews and Muslims as anti-animal welfare, Gigi said: "What is unacceptable for us is the prohibition of slaughter according to religious rituals, claiming that by stunning, knocking out, or suffocation by breathing gas, this hurts the animal less."

In December 2020, a ban on animal slaughter in Belgium’s Flanders region according to traditional Muslim and Jewish rules was upheld by the European Court of Justice.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/belgian-muslims-jews-submit-petition-protesting-ban-on-animal-slaughter-by-religious-rules/2603213

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Terror organization PKK's supporters march to central London

Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

01.06.2022

LONDON

A group of the terrorist organization PKK held a march into central London on Wednesday.

Shouting anti-Turkish slogans, the protesters marched from the Highbury and Islington station to Leicester Square under a police cordon.

The group of around 50 men and women carried terror group head Abdullah Ocalan's pictures and various PKK symbols and flags.

Police were observed to have walked alongside the marchers who disrupted the traffic as well.

The UK’s Supreme Court last January upheld a ruling against a man who carried the terrorist organization’s flag in a similar protest in 2018.

London police arrested such individuals in recent protests.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/terror-organization-pkks-supporters-march-to-central-london/2603341

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German court convicts Daesh returnee who took daughter to Syria

June 01, 2022

BERLIN: A German woman, who took her young daughter to Syria, joined Daesh group there and allegedly took advantage of an enslaved Yazidi woman, was convicted Wednesday of membership in a terrorist organization and other offenses.

The state court in Celle said the 34-year-old, who has been identified only as Romiena S. in line with German privacy rules, was sentenced to three years and three months in prison. She was also convicted of being an accessory to a crime against humanity, abducting a minor and breaching her duties of welfare and education.

Judges said that she traveled to Syria in 2014, taking her 4-year-old daughter against the wishes of the child’s father. She then successively married a number of Daesh members, enabling them to fight by running their households.

The defendant brought up her daughter and two Syria-born sons in line with Daesh ideology, taking the girl to the stoning of a woman when she was 6 and showing her execution videos, the court said. At one point, it added, she exploited an enslaved Yazidi woman at the home of a slave trader for a few days and guarded her as she went into town.

The defendant also posted messages on Twitter supporting extremist attacks in Nice, France, and Wuerzburg, Germany, in 2016.

She was arrested at Frankfurt airport when she arrived in October among a group of women and children repatriated from a camp in northeastern Syria where suspected Daesh members were held.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2094506/world

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Southeast Asia

 

Zahid: Forget 'New Malaysia', Time to Bring Back 'Original Malaysia' Under BN

By R. Loheswar

01 Jun 2022

KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 — Umno president Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi has today said that the country needs to return to its old ways and bring back what he called as "Original Malaysia", claiming that the so-called "New Malaysia" that was born from Barisan Nasional's (BN) fall in 2018 has failed.

He said the ensuing political turmoil, defections by MPs, economic instability and lack of leadership have caused Malaysia's economy to digress in the past four years since Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over.

"The notion that the 'New Malaysia' espoused good governance is merely talk. The mandate the public gave them was exploited and government institutions were manipulated even to the point of crippling the Parliament to stay in power,” Zahid said during his speech at BN’s 48th annual convention at World Trade Centre here.

"The 'Original Malaysia' is based on the formula our forefathers developed and it is empowered through the Federal Constitution, Rukunegara and various policies based on tolerance and loyalty towards a multiracial race."

"BN wants to return Malaysia to those days and improve our weaknesses and ensure all institutions have good governance, transparent and free from corruption,” he added.

He claimed peace and stability have been threatened since PH's win, accusing the opposition of dismantling Malay-Muslim privileges and espousing equality among the ethnic groups.

Zahid claimed this had instead divided and angered BN supporters.

The "Malaysia Baharu" or "New Malaysia" slogan was adopted by the PH coalition after they won a historic general election in 2018 by beating BN. the only ruling coalition Malaysia ever had in 60 years.

PH's administration however collapsed after 22 months after its component Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia allied with Umno and PAS to form the Perikatan Nasional government.

Zahid spoke after prime minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and received a warm welcome from the delegates, especially after he asked if the audience is ready for the next election.

This came even as Ismail Sabri was quoted yesterday saying that he is in no rush to call for a general election anytime soon, contrary to speculation that polls may be held before the year ends.

Source: Malay Mail

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

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2022/06/01/zahid-forget-new-malaysia-time-to-bring-back-original-malaysia-under-bn/10072

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Muslim teachers group appeals High Court ruling on vernacular schools

Danial Azhar

June 1, 2022

PETALING JAYA: A Muslim teachers group has filed an appeal against the Kota Bharu High Court’s recent ruling that the existence of vernacular schools was constitutional.

Lawyer Shaharudin Ali, representing the group Ikatan Guru-Guru Muslim Malaysia, filed the appeal yesterday at the Court of Appeal.

On May 29, judicial commissioner Abazafree Mohd Abbas dismissed the suit brought by the group, stating that the existence of vernacular schools must be read in the historical context.

But Shaharudin questioned if history could really be used as the basis to justify the legality of the schools.

Shaharudin said Abazafree had said the schools were public authorities under the Federal Constitution.

“However, by ruling that the schools are public authorities, it means that Bahasa Melayu is the compulsory medium of instruction,” he told FMT, citing Article 152 of the Federal Constitution.

Ikatan Guru-Guru Muslim Malaysia president Azizee Hasan filed the suit last year, challenging the constitutionality of Sections 17 and 28 of the Education Act.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2022/06/01/muslim-teachers-group-appeals-high-court-ruling-on-vernacular-schools/

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Amid calls for GE, Najib reflects on consequences of ‘delayed’ polls

Jason Thomas and Nora Mahpar

June 1, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR: Former prime minister Najib Razak has reflected on the potential risks of delaying the next general election (GE15), warning that it could lead to another loss for Barisan Nasional at the polls.

“When is the election (GE15)? I don’t know. But I want to share for the first time … I want to admit … We should have had GE14 after the (2017) SEA Games,” he told the Barisan Nasional Convention today at the World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur.

“If we did, maybe we would have won big. But because of pressure from various parties, we delayed it. And then conditions changed.”

The 2017 SEA Games which the country hosted ended in August 2017, with GE14 held in May 2018.

He then highlighted how the opposition is now “in a state of disarray”, pointing towards the low turnout at PKR’s recent party polls, Bersatu having only two assemblymen in the Johor state assembly, and DAP and PAS supposedly facing diminished support.

“BN, on the other hand, is getting stronger,” he said.

The Barisan Nasional adviser also commented on a recent interview with Japan’s Nikkei Asia in which Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that GE15 – which only needs to be called by September 2023 – would have to be pushed back due to rising cost of living and inflation.

Stating that inflationary cycles are known to run for “two to three years”, Najib called on Umno’s top leadership – which includes Ismail – to discuss the matter and “make the right choice”.

In the Nikkei Asia interview conducted during his trip to Japan last week, Ismail said “we will have to wait for the right time (to call for elections)”.

“We are facing a period of increasing inflation … Do you think this is the right time?” he told the Japanese financial paper.

There are factions in Umno pushing for an early general election in light of the party’s commanding wins in the recent Melaka and Johor state elections.

However, other Umno leaders are against the push for early polls as they believe the present administration – which has 10 ministers and 10 deputy ministers – is still stable.

Stressing that leaders should put their personal interests aside if Barisan Nasional wins Putrajaya at GE15, Najib said the “stakes are too high” for the coalition, which ruled the country for more than six decades before being ousted at GE14.

“This is not a question about Najib or Zahid (Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi) or Ismail. This is about BN and our country,” said Najib.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2022/06/01/amid-calls-for-ge-najib-reflects-on-consequences-of-delayed-polls/

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India

 

UP Power Department Officer, Ravindra Prakash Gautam, Says Osama Bin-Laden 'Best Engineer', Suspended

Jun 2, 2022

AGRA: A poster put up by a sub-division officer in the power department at UP's Farrukhabad district that said 'Revered Osama bin-Laden --- world's best junior engineer' has led to his suspension and a probe by senior officers. The legend was accompanied by a photo of the dreaded terrorist who was killed by US forces at his hideout in Pakistan on May 2, 2011.

The matter came to light after the photo went viral on the internet. On Wednesday evening, SDO (Nawabganj) Ravindra Prakash Gautam was suspended and bin-Laden's photo removed from the office's wall. The 47-year-old officer had been working with the power department for the past 21 years.

Amit Kishore, MD of the state government-owned discom DVVNL, said, "The act of the SDO falls in the category of 'serious misconduct' and calls for harsh disciplinary action. Following a primary investigation, the officer was suspended for violation of the Uttar Pradesh Government Servants' Conduct Manual, 1956. A detailed probe report will be sent to the state government for further action. For now, the photo has been removed."

According to officials privy to the incident, Gautam placed the photo after reading a book that mentioned "Laden had a degree in civil engineering and was associated with major construction projects in Saudi Arabia in the initial phase of his life."

When TOI reached out to Gautam, he said, "I placed the photo around a month ago. Osama bin-Laden was a civil engineer and executed a mega plan without scope for failure. The picture was simply there for personal motivation -- to set high targets and work meticulously to achieve them. My intention is not destructive. I am not a supporter of terrorism and have never indulged in anything unlawful. In fact, I take inspiration from missile man APJ Abdul Kalam, too, and have always had his picture and quote on display at my office." Gautam hails from Lucknow, is a double diploma holder in mechanical and electrical engineering and has a B Com as well as an LLB degree. He is also father to a six-year-old girl. Gautam's colleagues said he is highly learned, an avid reader and dedicated to his work but had been suffering from "mental complications" in the last three weeks.

"He recently put up wires around the office and passed current through them, saying this was needed to prevent a 'sudden attack'. We had no idea what he meant," said a colleague.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/agra/up-power-department-officer-says-osama-bin-laden-best-engineer-suspended/articleshow/91951235.cms

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Muslim Men Leaving Jahangirpuri Out of Fear of Police Harassment, Say Locals

Nikita Jain and Sumedha Pal

Jun 2, 2022

Jahangirpuri (New Delhi): A number of Muslim residents of Jahangirpuri, which was witness to communal violence during a Hanuman Jayanti procession and a demolition drive afterwards, allege that they have had to face police harassment since the riots took place.

Locals of the area where demolitions took place, C Block, say that young men are often hauled up by police. While some of them had been involved in petty crimes before – residents allege that police have been hauling them up in a manner not justifying the degree of their crimes.

As men of the allegedly area move out, primarily out of fear of police action, women have alleged that they are being harassed by the police too. Minors, too, are being picked up, say locals.

Jahangirpuri’s Bano* tells The Wire that her brother was detained on May 20. “He was having lunch when some police officials from Jahangirpuri police station picked him up and took him to the station without any explanation,” she says. The family claims that he was taken to the station over charges of theft. But in an order issued by the Rohini court on May 24, Bano’s brother is named in a case pertaining to the Hanuman Jayanti violence.

Bano says she lives in a state of constant fear and that even her daughter was allegedly threatened by police.

“My husband and sons have left the city in a bid to avoid wrongful incarcerations. They weren’t even here when the [Hanuman Jayanti] violence happened. But the police came knocking at our door, asking us to ‘surrender’ them. They threatened my young daughter and said that she will be ‘picked up’ if we do not tell them the whereabouts of my sons,” she says.

“We all know that they are picking up Muslim men and putting their names in the case, alleging violence,” she adds.

Akhlaq* is a ragpicker living in Jahangirpuri. Three members of his family have been picked up from the C Block area since the violence.

“Men are picked up almost every day. This has created a chaotic and fearful environment. Almost all of them are innocent. My worst fear is that these young kids, barely in their teens, are being taken into custody and being beaten up. Under the garb of smaller offences this atmosphere of a full blown crackdown is being created,” Akhlaq says.

“We are never fully free, we are constantly being watched and surveilled – from what we are eating and where we are going to the toilet, they are monitoring everything. We have become prisoners in our own homes,” he adds.

A pattern

In the immediate aftermath of the violence, the National Security Act was invoked against five of the accused in the case.

Lawyer Kawalpreet Kaur has been handling cases of some of the residents in the region.

“The detentions are in line with a recent trend displayed by Delhi Police. The victims of an attack – who are mostly from the Muslim minority community – are framed and charged as accused,” Kaur says.

She adds that this is a pattern that was seen in the arrests made in the 2020 northeast Delhi riots cases as well.

“Similarly, in Jahangirpuri the first batch of arrests had only Muslim names. This design is sinister. The ‘investigation’ in the cases is completely lopsided. Most people get bail after having spent a few months in jail. This must be called out. Only after Delhi Police was criticised for its one-sided investigation in Jahangirpuri did we see arrests being made among people of the Hindu community. However, this was after a whole day. And even then, those who incited the mob and their leaders weren’t arrested,” the lawyer says.

Jahangirpuri houses a significant number of people working in low-paying jobs, including daily wagers, auto drivers and factory workers. Residents pointed out how this crackdown has also been affecting their economic activities.

“The fear is not of us landing up in jail, we know we haven’t done anything. The fear is of facing custodial violence and harassment,” a local, Ifran*, says.

‘Made to pose with guns’

Danish*, a man in his 20s, says he was allegedly beaten up with a lathi by the police earlier this month. “My fault was that I intervened when a group of boys were fighting in my street,” he says.

Showing CCTV camera footage of the brawl, he went on to allege that local conflicts are becoming a plank for the police to subject Muslim youth to harassment.

“I have CCTV footage where I can be seen breaking up the fight. Yet a policeman comes [in the video] and immediately beats me up and takes me to jail,” he says, adding that two other Muslim men were also allegedly beaten up.

“In front of me, there were at least six Hindu men who had been arrested but the police did not say anything to them. But they beat us up so much that I still cannot go to work,” he adds.

He further alleged that the police demanded Rs 50,000 from him and threatened to slap the National Security Act (NSA) against him if he did not pay the amount. “They forcefully gave me guns and took my photo, saying they [the guns] were mine. This is disgusting, whatever they are doing. They threatened me and beat me up. Am I a terrorist?” he asks.

Danish was let off the same night after an agreement was reached with the police.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Police on May 7 arrested three people from Jahangirpuri in connection with the April 16 violence.

Rekha, a Hindu resident of Jahangirpuri, who lives with her family in the area, also says that there is “an atmosphere of fear in the region.”

“This has heightened since the demolition drive. I was told by some neighbours that they are leaving for their villages out of fear and that they will be back when the situation normalises,” she tells The Wire.

The Wire sought to reach DCP North West Usha Rangnani for her response on these allegations, however calls and emails have not yet been answered. This story will be updated when a response is received.

A Rohini court had criticised the Delhi Police for its conduct on April 16, observing prima facie that police had “utterly failed” in stopping the Hanuman Jayanti procession for which no permission had been granted.

Source: The Wire

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

https://thewire.in/communalism/muslim-men-leaving-jahangirpuri-out-of-fear-of-police-harassment-say-locals

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Extend caste census to Muslims, exclude infiltrators, says Union Minister Giriraj Singh

June 1, 2022

Union Minister Giriraj Singh on Wednesday said the proposed caste census in Bihar must exclude infiltrators like Bangladeshis and Rohingyas, who are not acknowledged to be so because of “politics of appeasement”.

The BJP leader, who was here to take part in the saffron party’s state executive meeting, said there is need for a strong anti-conversion law, dropping the use of the term 'minorities' and erasing all “symbols of oppression by foreign invaders” like the Gyanvapi mosque, a religious structure in Varanasi.

Singh, who represents Begusarai Lok Sabha seat in the state, told journalists these were his “personal opinion” on burning issues of the day, in the presence of many party colleagues.

The union minister said he fully supported the state government's move for a caste survey despite the Centre's refusal to conduct one.

He was speaking a few hours ahead of an all-party meeting to be chaired by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar which would set in motion the state-specific survey of castes.

Nonetheless, he added “Muslims, who take advantage of reservations for backward classes, must also be covered in the exercise”.

He cited a petition filed in the 1990s to claim that population of illegal immigrants in 11 Bihar districts was about four lakhs back then and underscored the need for not including them in the exercise, which could grant legitimacy to the “infiltrators, who are not called by the name because of politics of appeasement”.

“Be they Bangladeshis, Rohingyas [from Myanmar] or any other type of illegal residents, they must be kept out”, said Singh.

Known for his hard-line Hindutva stance, the union minister also stressed the need for a “strong anti-conversion law”.

He said there is a need for redefining the term minorities and even doing away with it in the light of the Narendra Modi government's motto of 'Sabka saath sabka vikas'.

“Even [Mehmood] Madani has said he does not belong to a minority group”, Singh said, referring tongue in cheek to the Deoband cleric's recent averment that Muslims should consider themselves to be in "majority" taking into account all “like-minded” people.

Asked about his take on the Gyanvapi controversy and the leak of video footage of a survey conducted at the premises and the Places of Worship Act of 1991, which is being resented by those demanding “restoration” of a temple at the mosque site, he said the matter is sub-judice and he cannot comment on such a matter.

"Nonetheless, in my view, the POW Act is not applicable to Gyanvapi. We must also understand why Muslims are so worked up over the leak of the video footage”, he remarked.

Source: India Today

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

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/extend-caste-census-to-muslims-exclude-infiltrators-union-minister-giriraj-singh-1957206-2022-06-01

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To Stay Afloat In Mathura, Muslim Hotelier Replaces Staff with Hindus

Jun 1, 2022

AGRA: As religious passions run high in the temple city of Mathura over petitions pertaining to the proposed "removal" of the Shahi Idgah mosque, a Muslim hotelier, whose family has been running an establishment for almost half a century, claims he had to change everything about his restaurant -- its name, staff, and even food -- to adjust to these "new times". "Being a Muslim has become difficult in the city. I am constantly looked upon with suspicion," said the businessman, 56-year-old Mohammad Zameel. His establishment on Daresi road, known as the 'Taj Hotel' since 1974, was rechristened as the 'Royal Family Restaurant' in December 2021.

"We live in times of uncertainty and constantly fear the unknown. We have no option but to hide our identities in order to earn our livelihood. This restaurant has been my family's source of income for decades. Before me, my parents used to run it. It's painful for me to change my family's legacy," Zameel told TOI.

The hotelier has fired eight of his Muslim staff to hire Hindus instead. "They cook better vegetarian food. That's all we're allowed to sell after the state government banned the sale of meat and liquor in the city last year," he said.

Gone are the chicken kormas, chicken changezis, and niharis. The new menu consists of paneer changezi and paneer korma, along with other vegetarian dishes such as kadhai paneer, shahi paneer, and dal tadka.

"I have stopped sitting at the cash counter to ensure that my appearance doesn't keep clients away. I've hired Hindu staff to take my place," he said.

Zameel told TOI that it took him a couple of months to change everything about his restaurant -- the name, the menu, and the staff.

He added, "I have faced huge losses. Some anti-social elements still don't allow me to operate smoothly as I am on their target. My income has reduced to Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 a day, from around Rs 14,000 to Rs 15,000 a day earlier." "This is the first time in my life that I've seen such hostility in the area. This was a peaceful temple town and we lived harmoniously. Suddenly, everything has changed. No one can even think about eating non-vegetarian dishes at their homes because there's always fear that a right-wing activist may thrash us after accusing us of 'smuggling beef'."

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/agra/to-stay-afloat-in-mathura-muslim-hotelier-replaces-staff-with-hindus/articleshow/91929844.cms

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India, Bangladesh flag off new passenger train service, Mitali Express

01st June 2022

NEW DELHI: To further strengthen people-to-people connectivity through the railways between India and Bangladesh, the two countries started a new passenger train service, Mitali Express, via the recently-restored Haldibari-Chilahati rail link on Wednesday.

The third passenger train service between India and Bangladesh, which was virtually inaugurated by the prime ministers of the two countries on March 27 last year, was flagged off virtually by Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and his Bangladeshi counterpart Mohammad Nurul Islam Sujan.

The train service could not be started earlier due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Speaking on the occasion, Vaishnaw said Mitali Express will be yet another milestone in strengthening the bond between the two neighbouring countries.

The train will run bi-weekly (departure from New Jalpaiguri at 11.45 am on Sunday and Wednesday, arrival in Dhaka at 10.30 pm on the same days and departure from Dhaka at 9.50 pm on Monday and Thursday and arrival in New Jalpaiguri at 7.15 am on Tuesday and Friday) and cover a distance of 595 kilometres (of which a 61-kilometre stretch is in India).

The LHB coach of the Indian Railways (like the ones used in the Maitree Express and Bandhan Express trains) will be used, comprising four First AC, four AC Chair Car and two Power cars.

There will be three classes -- AC First (Cabin) Sleeper, AC First (Cabin) seat and AC Chair car, and the fare will be USD 44, USD 33 and USD 22 respectively.

The new passenger service, Mitali Express, will give a boost to both countries' tourism since it connects Bangladesh with north Bengal as well as the northeastern region of India.

It will also provide an access to Nepal to Bangladeshi citizens via India by rail.

The new train is in addition to two existing passenger train services -- Kolkata-Dhaka-Kolkata Maitree Express (five days a week) and Kolkata-Khulna-Kolkata Bandhan Express (two days a week) -- between India and Bangladesh.

Source: New Indian Express

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

https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2022/jun/01/india-bangladesh-flag-off-new-passenger-train-service-mitali-express-2460631.html

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Africa

 

‘Terrorist attack’ on UN convoy in Mali kills Jordan peacekeeper, injures three

02 June, 2022

A UN peacekeeper was killed and three others wounded Wednesday in a "terrorist attack" on their convoy in Kidal, northern Mali, the MINUSMA mission said.

The casualties were members of the mission's Jordanian contingent, a security official said separately on condition of anonymity.

The convoy was hit by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades in an attack that lasted about an hour, MINUSMA spokesman Olivier Salgado tweeted.

“Unfortunately, one of the blue helmets succumbed to his wounds following the attack,” he posted in French.

No details were given about the suspected attackers.

In a statement, the UN's special representative for Mali and head of MINUSMA, El-Ghassim Wane, said the peacekeepers repelled the assailants, who were heavily armed.

“I strongly condemn this attack, which is another desperate attempt by terrorist groups to hamper the quest for peace in Mali and the implementation of MINUSMA's mandate,” he said.

The attack was the fifth incident to occur in Mali's Kidal region in a week, the statement said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the attack, according to a spokesperson, saying attacks on peacekeepers “may constitute war crimes under international law.”

“He calls on the Malian authorities to spare no effort in identifying the perpetrators of this attack so that they can be brought to justice swiftly,” the spokesperson said.

MINUSMA -- the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali -- was deployed in 2013 to help shore up the fragile Sahel state in the face of extremist attacks.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2022/06/02/-Terrorist-attack-on-UN-convoy-in-Mali-kills-Jordan-peacekeeper-injures-three

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Somali president urges immediate international humanitarian action as drought escalates

Mohammed Dhaysane  

01.06.2022

MOGADISHU, Somalia

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud implored the international community to help Wednesday with the ongoing drought response as Somalia prolonged drought conditions escalate.

Mohamud, who was elected May 15, visited internally displaced persons camps on the outskirts of Baidoa, one of the worst affected areas in the country.

"I am indeed saddened but I also pledged to take action," he wrote on Twitter after the visit.

He added that they will work with all partners to effectively address the drought.

Mohamud spoke directly to the international community and pleaded for immediate action to help save lives.

"The international community has been standing by the Somali people for the last 3 decades, now it's another time. We commit and willing and hope this might be the last time," he said.

Somalia is experiencing one of the worst droughts in 40 years and the UN raised the alarm Wednesday as it warned that 330,000 children in Somalia are at risk of dying from starvation.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/somali-president-urges-immediate-international-humanitarian-action-as-drought-escalates/2603409

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Libya’s Dbeibeh calls for resuming oil exports amid dispute on revenues

Moataz Wanees 

01.06.2022

TRIPOLI, Libya

Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh on Wednesday called for the resumption of oil exports amid a dispute over the distribution of revenues.

“Oil exports must be resumed and then reaching an understanding on a mechanism to distribute revenues,” Dbeibeh said during a Cabinet meeting in the capital Tripoli.

Much of Libya’s oil facilities have been shut down by tribal groups since April amid pressure on Dbeibeh to cede power to the Parliament-appointed government of Fathi Bashagha.

Libya holds Africa’s largest crude reserves, but 11 years of conflict in the country since the 2011 ouster of ruler Muammar Gaddafi has hobbled production and exports.

Dbeibeh reiterated his rejection of calls for infighting among Libyans.

“We still extend our hands for peace and dialogue,” he said.

Bashagha, a former interior minister, was appointed by the Tobruk-based parliament in March to replace Dbeibeh as a prime minister. Dbeibeh, however, insists on remaining in his post.

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/libya-s-dbeibeh-calls-for-resuming-oil-exports-amid-dispute-on-revenues/2603381

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Arab World

 

Entry of the Lord into Egypt: Egypt’s Coptic Christians Put Down Roots around The World, But Remained Grounded in Their Culture

Jonathan Gornall

June 02, 2022

LONDON: Coptic Christians in Egypt and in scattered migrant communities across the world celebrated on Wednesday the "Entry of the Lord into Egypt,” an annual feast day. That celebration is followed by The Holy Feast of Ascension, commemorating the Christian belief in Christ’s bodily ascension into heaven.

In a sense, the two consecutive feast days bookend the Coptic experience. The one marks their deep-rooted pride in an Egyptian heritage that predates the arrival of Islam, while the other celebrates the spiritual value of self-sacrifice, which would come to define the experience of a church forged in martyrdom soon after Christ’s death on the cross.

Back in April, Egypt’s Christians celebrated two other consecutive special days.

Orthodox Easter fell on April 24, a date set by the Julian calendar under which the Church of Alexandria operates, rather than the Gregorian calendar used by the rest of Christianity, with which the Copts parted ways over theological differences in the fifth century.

But the following day, together with Egyptians of all faiths, Copts celebrated the national holiday of Sham Ennessim. The origins of this festival of spring date back millennia to the days of the pharaohs and, like the Copts themselves, survived the Arabization of Egypt in the seventh century to become an integral part of Egyptian society.

Around the world are many Copts, some now second or even third generation, who were born on foreign soil after their parents emigrated in search of a better life, yet who also remain rooted in Egypt and its culture.

The life and work of Fadi Mikhail, a successful artist in the UK, symbolizes the generations who were born overseas to immigrant parents, but maintain strong ties to their Egyptian and Coptic heritage.

Mikhail’s parents, Hany and Salwa, emigrated from Egypt in the late 1970s, his father pursuing his career as a doctor in the UK. “The promise of higher pay and a better life called to him,” said Mikhail.

Born in Harlow, England, in 1984, Mikhail studied in Los Angeles under the renowned Egyptian iconographer Isaac Fanous before graduating from the Slade School of Fine Art in London.

Today, he produces icons for Coptic churches around the world, but his art is a visual bridge between East and West — he has a parallel career as a painter in the Western tradition, working in oils to produce landscapes, or drawing inspiration from books he enjoyed as a child.

His work is showcased by British galleries and has led to commissions for notable patrons, including the Prince of Wales.

Mikhail and his wife return to Egypt only for the occasional annual vacation. But, like most Copts scattered around the world, he says that “through the church I do still feel strongly connected to the Coptic faith and, by extension, Egypt.”

His interest in iconography “certainly began as a religious connection but has more recently become equally a part of my identity as an Egyptian.”

His parents’ generation, he said, “were particularly strong as a community, having banded together as recent immigrants, wanting to retain as much Egyptian culture as possible. Faith was an intrinsic part of this.”

He concedes that, “now in our second and third generation, the Coptic community in the UK is certainly experiencing some challenges of identity and the struggle to feel or appear as unwavering in our ‘Egyptianness’ as our parents.

“Practising one’s faith in a church in the West, where Western thought is certainly more liberal, while remaining in communion with the Eastern church, which is considerably more conservative, is difficult.

“However, I believe we have been very lucky with the wisdom of our leadership here in the UK, and to date I believe the waters have been wisely and deftly navigated.”

Wherever emigrating Copts have put down roots, their communities and their church have flourished. In addition to the estimated 15 million Copts in Egypt — some 10 percent of the population — there are now thought to be more than 2 million living abroad, chiefly in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe, where they make up mainly a wealthy and educated immigrant class of professionals, such as doctors or engineers.

The first Coptic parish in North America, St. Mark’s, was established in Toronto in 1964. It was followed shortly afterwards by the parish of St. Mark’s in New Jersey, which was founded in the late 1960s and saw the building of the first Coptic church in the West.

But one of the oldest Coptic communities abroad was founded in the 1950s in the UK, where the first Coptic liturgy in Europe was conducted in London on Aug. 10, 1954. The community was founded largely by Copts who studied medicine and moved to Britain to pursue their careers free of the glass ceilings that held them back in Egypt.

In 1978, the Coptic pope, Shenouda III, traveled from Egypt to the UK to consecrate St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Kensington, London, the first Coptic Orthodox Church in Europe.

Since then, the church in the UK has gone from strength, with in excess of 20,000 faithful across 32 parishes. In 2002 Shenouda returned to lay the foundation stone for the Cathedral of St. George, which was inaugurated in the Hertfordshire town of Stevenage, England, in 2006.

The head of the church in the UK is Archbishop Anba Angaelos, whose personal story of migration in many ways echoes that of so many Copts.

Born in Cairo in 1967, as a child he emigrated with his family to Australia. There he obtained a degree in political science, philosophy and sociology and, after postgraduate studies in law, returned to Egypt in 1990, where he became a monk and joined the historic monastery of St. Bishoy in Wadi El-Natrun.

In 1995, he was sent to the UK as a parish priest. Four years later, he was made a general bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church and on Nov. 18, 2017 was enthroned as the first Coptic Orthodox archbishop of London.

Icons in St. George Cathedral were painted by Fadi Mikhail in the modern Coptic style championed by his teacher Isaac Fanous.

The Copts who live abroad, said Angaelos, “don’t look at ourselves as a diaspora community, one that has faced persecution and has dispersed. We are a migrant community, people who have gone to find a better life for themselves and for their children and who still maintain links with Egypt.”

Egypt’s Coptic Christians can justifiably claim to be the original Egyptians, guardians of a language once spoken by the pharaohs and keepers of a faith forged in adversity.

“We are an indigenous people,” said Angaelos. “I can trace my heritage as a Christian back to St. Mark, who established Christianity in Egypt, and even further back to my ancient Egyptian roots.”

According to scripture, Mary and Joseph sought refuge in Egypt with the infant Jesus to escape the massacre of all male children aged 2 or under in Bethlehem ordered by King Herod.

A generation later, it was in the ancient Egyptian city of Alexandria that Mark the Evangelist founded the church that would become one of the five great episcopal sees of early Christendom, alongside Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem and Rome.

Copts have not always felt welcome in Egypt. Under Roman rule, Christians throughout the empire suffered persecution for centuries. St. Mark himself was murdered and martyred by a pagan mob in the streets of Alexandria in A.D. 68, and hundreds of Christians died in Egypt during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian.

Such was the impact of what became known as the Diocletianic persecution that the years of the liturgical calendar used by the Coptic Orthodox Church are counted from A.D. 284, the beginning of Diocletian’s reign. For the Copts, years are labelled not A.D. (Anno Domini, “the year of our Lord”), but A.M. — Anno Martyrum, “Year of the Martyrs.”

With the rise of Islam in the seventh century, the Copts faced new challenges to their faith and their ancient language, a direct linguistical descendant from the ancient Egyptian tongue. As many Copts converted to Islam, in part to avoid the increasingly onerous taxes imposed on non-Muslims, use of the language was steadily eroded and now survives only in the monasteries and liturgies of the Coptic Church.

All these obstacles the Copts navigated stoically for many centuries, through times of great unrest and periods during which Christians and Muslims lived side by side in harmony in Egypt.

In the 20th century, however, a series of social, economic and political upheavals — aggravated by Britain’s divide-and-rule policies in Egypt and leading ultimately to the “Free Officers” coup of 1952 and President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s pan-Arab reforms — saw the start of a steady trickle of Copts emigrating in the hope of finding a better life in the West.

Even before the revolution, “Copts were being slowly pushed out of Egyptian politics,” said Michael Akladios, founder and director of Egypt Migrations, a Coptic cultural and archival project set up in Canada in 2016 to preserve the stories of Egypt’s migrants.

“Immediately following the revolution, graduate Copts began to emigrate, going to the UK, Canada and the US, because they were hitting ceilings within the schools and professions.”

Akladios said it was a mistake to characterize all Coptic emigration from Egypt as the product of fear or persecution. His own family emigrated to Canada when he was 8, joining his father’s siblings who had already settled in Toronto, and the move was “economically motivated.”

“Yes, persecution is an element,” he said. “But the Copts are more than their churches; they’re also human beings with needs and families, and they make decisions as pragmatic migrants just like anybody else.”

For Copts in Egypt today, said Archbishop Angaelos, “there are still challenges. But one of the most important things for Copts, in Egypt and abroad, is that over the past decade we have seen a much greater, harmonious existence between Christians and Muslims.”

One man is the flag-bearer for the new spirit of interfaith harmony abroad in Egypt – Gen. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who was elected president in 2014 and has been responsible for a series of gestures of inclusive non-sectarianism.

When 20 migrant Coptic Egyptian workers and a Ghanaian colleague were beheaded on a beach in Libya by terrorists in February 2015, it was El-Sisi who sent the Egyptian Air Force to exact revenge on Daesh.

When a series of attacks against Copts and Coptic churches was unleashed in 2017, claiming dozens of lives, the wave of terror was crushed by an overwhelming response by the Egyptian army.

In 2018, El-Sisi’s government paved the way for the return of the Libyan martyrs’ bodies to Egypt. In the village of Al-Aour in Upper Egypt, where many of the men had lived, they were laid to rest in the newly built Church of the Martyrs of Faith and Homeland, the construction of which had been funded by the Egyptian government.

And Copts everywhere were delighted when El-Sisi joined Coptic Pope Tawadros for Christmas Mass in the Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ in Egypt’s New Administrative Capital on Jan. 6 this year. In a speech, El-Sisi spoke of a “new republic” in Egypt “that accommodates everyone without discrimination.”

As if to underline the point, just over a month later the first Coptic Christian was appointed head of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court, the highest judicial authority in the country.

For Michael Akladios, and for the Coptic community in Egypt and the wider world, the appointment of Judge Boulos Fahmy Eskandar on Feb. 9, 2022, was “a promising step on the road to greater Coptic inclusion and representation in Egypt’s public sphere.”

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2095006/middle-east

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Syria: 50 detained Islamic State fighters returned to Iraq

June 2022

Fifty Iraqi fighters from the Islamic State (IS) group detained by Kurdish-led forces in northeast Syria have been returned home to face legal action, security services said on Wednesday.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) handed them over at the Rabia border post, Iraq's joint operations command said in a statement, according to AFP.

It said the captives would be questioned by the interior ministry's intelligence services, which would take "all necessary judicial measures".

Iraq has prosecuted thousands of its nationals accused of IS membership, a charge which carries the death sentence under its anti-terrorism laws.

The SDF has warned of the high-security risks of holding thousands of IS prisoners, as highlighted by a jailbreak attempt by militants in January in Ghwayran, northeast Syria, that cost hundreds of lives in several days of fighting.

Iraq also repatriated 100 militants in December, the latest in a string of such operations.

A senior military official told AFP that some 3,500 Iraqi detainees remain in Syrian Kurdish jails, as well as 30,000 other Iraqis, including 20,000 children, in Syria's al-Hol camp for the displaced.

In contrast to the reticence of western countries, Iraq has so far repatriated more than 450 families from the camp.

Iraq announced its victory against IS in late 2017 after three years of ferocious fighting backed by paramilitary forces and the US-led international coalition.

But IS cells still carry out hit-and-run attacks, particularly in the vast desert regions of northern and western Iraq near the porous border with Syria.

The IS group has "maintained the ability to launch attacks at a steady rate in Iraq, including hit-and-run operations, ambushes, and roadside bombs", a UN report said in February.

Source: Middle East Eye

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

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/syria-iraq-50-islamic-state-jailed-fighters-returned-home

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SDF commander raises concern over new Turkish threat in Syria

02 June, 2022

Syrian Democratic Forces commander-in-chief raised concern over the new Turkish threats that “pose high risk on northern Syria,” in a Twitter statement on Thursday.

“Any offensive will divide Syrians, create a new humanitarian crisis, and displace original inhabitants and IDPs,” he said, adding that a “new escalation” will also negatively affect their fight against ISIS.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/06/02/SDF-commander-raises-concern-over-new-Turkish-threat-in-Syria

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‘Major confrontation’ with Hezbollah ahead, says Lebanon Christian politician

01 June, 2022

The Christian Lebanese Forces party will veto as prime minister anyone aligned with the armed Shia movement Hezbollah and stick to its boycott of government if a new consensus cabinet is formed, the party's leader said on Wednesday.

Lebanon is in the throes of one of the world's worst economic meltdowns, according to the World Bank, with the local lira losing 90 percent of its value since 2019.

Analysts have warned that the divisions in parliament will likely delay consensus on reform laws needed to drag Lebanon out of crisis. They could also create a vacuum in top leadership positions.

While the LF and independent newcomers gained more seats in last month's elections, they still failed to prevent Hezbollah ally Nabih Berri from securing a seventh term as speaker in parliament's first session on Tuesday.

“If it's a government that includes everyone as usual, of course we won't approve and we won't take part,” LF party chief Samir Geagea told Reuters.

“...They (Hezbollah) shouldn't celebrate too much,” he said, adding that the splits in parliament would lead to a “major confrontation” between Iran-backed Hezbollah and its allies on one side and the Saudi-aligned LF on the other.

Tuesday's session was the first since the new parliament was elected on May 15, in the first vote since Lebanon's economic collapse and the Beirut port explosion of 2020 that killed more than 215 people.

The LF was founded as an armed movement during Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war but officially laid down its arms after the conflict.

It has taken part in both parliament and cabinet but has opted out of the latter since 2019, when widespread anti-government protests broke out in Beirut.

Independent lawmakers have balked at the LF's roles in the war and in the political establishment more recently, but Geagea said newcomer MPs would have little influence if they did not align with his party.

“We all need one another to be able to go through the process of change and recovery that is required,” he said.

Lebanon's system of government now requires President Michel Aoun, an ally of Hezbollah and rival of the LF, to consult with lawmakers on their choice for prime minister.

Geagea declined to say whether the LF would support a fresh term for current premier and frontrunner Najib Mikati or if his party would back a different name.

The new cabinet will only last a few months, as parliament is set to elect a successor to Aoun, whose presidential term ends on Oct. 31. The next president would then name a new premier.

Aoun came to power as president in 2016 with the LF's backing after decades of intense rivalry between the two.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/06/01/-Major-confrontation-with-Hezbollah-ahead-says-Lebanon-Christian-politician

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‘Major confrontation’ with Hezbollah ahead, says Lebanon Christian politician

June 01, 2022

MAARAB, Lebanon: The Christian Lebanese Forces party will reject anyone aligned with the armed Shiite movement Hezbollah as prime minister and stick to its boycott of government if a new consensus cabinet is formed, the party’s leader said on Wednesday.

Lebanon is in the throes of one of the world’s worst economic meltdowns, according to the World Bank, with the local lira losing 90 percent of its value since 2019.

Analysts have warned that the divisions in parliament will likely delay consensus on reform laws needed to drag Lebanon out of crisis. They could also create a vacuum in top leadership positions.

While the LF and independent newcomers gained more seats in last month’s elections, they still failed to prevent Hezbollah ally Nabih Berri from securing a seventh term as speaker in parliament’s first session on Tuesday.

“If it’s a government that includes everyone as usual, of course we won’t approve and we won’t take part,” LF party chief Samir Geagea told Reuters.

“They (Hezbollah) shouldn’t celebrate too much,” he said, adding that the splits in parliament would lead to a “major confrontation” between Iran-backed Hezbollah and its allies on one side and the LF on the other.

Tuesday’s session was the first since the new parliament was elected on May 15, in the first vote since Lebanon’s economic collapse and the Beirut port explosion of 2020 that killed more than 215 people.

The LF was founded as an armed movement during Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war but officially laid down its arms after the conflict.

It has taken part in both parliament and cabinet but has opted out of the latter since 2019, when widespread anti-government protests broke out in Beirut.

Independent lawmakers have balked at the LF’s roles in the war and in the political establishment more recently, but Geagea said newcomer MPs would have little influence if they did not align with his party.

“We all need one another to be able to go through the process of change and recovery that is required,” he said.

Lebanon’s system of government now requires President Michel Aoun, an ally of Hezbollah and rival of the LF, to consult with lawmakers on their choice for prime minister.

Geagea declined to say whether the LF would support a fresh term for current premier and frontrunner Najib Mikati or if his party would back a different name.

The new cabinet will only last a few months, as parliament is set to elect a successor to Aoun, whose presidential term ends on Oct. 31. The next president would then name a new premier.

Aoun came to power as president in 2016 with the LF’s backing after decades of intense rivalry between the two.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2094806/middle-east

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Rocket attack by YPG/PKK terror group injures 3 civilians in northern Syria

Omer Koparan and Ethem Emre Ozcan  

01.06.2022

JARABULUS, Syria (AA) - A rocket attack by the YPG/PKK terrorist group injured three civilians in the Jarabulus district in northern Syria, local sources said on Wednesday.

The attack was carried out from the Manbij district and the injured persons were taken to nearby hospitals.

Following the attack, the Turkish armed forces targeted the positions of the terror group with howitzers.

The YPG/PKK terror group often mounts attacks on Jarabulus, Afrin, and Azaz from the Manbij and Tal Rifat areas in Syria.

Since 2016, Ankara has launched a trio of successful anti-terror operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018), and Peace Spring (2019).

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/rocket-attack-by-ypg-pkk-terror-group-injures-3-civilians-in-northern-syria/2603139

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Gulf united on Russia-Ukraine war, says Saudi foreign minister

MOHAMMED AL-SULAMI AND LAMA AL-HAMAWI

June 01, 2022

RIYADH: Gulf nations stand united on the issue of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, according to Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan.

“Our stance as Gulf countries regarding the Russian-Ukrainian crisis is unified,” he said on Wednesday during a speech at the opening of the 152nd session of the Ministerial Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

“Today we had two fruitful meetings with the Russian and Ukrainian ministers, during which we stated our unified stance regarding the Russian-Ukrainian crisis and its negative consequences, namely the food security of the affected countries and the world.”

Closer to home, he added, regional security and concerns about the activities of Iran are important unifying factors.

“Laying the foundations of our regional security is one of the most important pillars of our unity, which faces big challenges and requires close coordination to reach a common approach to our international relations to nurture our interests,” said Prince Faisal.

“In the forefront of these challenges is Iran’s nuclear project, its arming of militias, its support for terrorism and its destabilizing behavior in the region. That’s why our dialogue and communication with Iran should be based on a unified Gulf stance, through which we call for peace, cooperation and adherence to the principles of international legitimacy and good-neighborliness, so we can be able to work together to achieve our developmental plans within a stable regional environment that supports partnerships and economic-diversification projects.”

He added: “The stability of the brotherly country of Yemen is an integral part of the security of the Gulf system and the Arabian Peninsula. Therefore, the GCC countries emphasize the provision of all means of support to achieve the goals of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council and empower its supporting bodies to carry out the roles assigned to them, so that Yemen can regain its stability and security and maintain its unity and sovereignty.

“We reiterate our support for the UN’s efforts, led by its special envoy to Yemen, aiming to reach a comprehensive political solution to end the crisis in Yemen.

“We seek during our meeting today to contribute to the security and stability of our countries and achieve our people’s aspirations for a better future.”

Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s minister of foreign affairs, said that Western nations seek to form a unilateral world led by the US. During a press conference on Wednesday after a closed meeting in Riyadh with his counterparts from GCC countries, he also accused the West of pushing Ukraine to threaten the security of his country.

Lavrov said that GCC nations understand the nature of the conflict between his country and the West, and that the Gulf states have given assurances that they will not join Western nations in imposing sanctions on Moscow.

Source: Arab News

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

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2094546/saudi-arabia

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South Asia

 

UNAMA Calls on the Taliban to Release Journalists and End “Draconian Measures”

By Saqalain Eqbal

2 June, 2022

According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), journalists in Afghanistan are not safe, and violence against them persists. The office calls on the Taliban to stop harassing journalists and end extremely harsh and severe measures.

On Wednesday, 1st July, UNAMA tweeted asking on the Taliban to release all detained media workers and journalists, and to stop torturing, arbitrarily detaining, and threatening journalists.

At the same time, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) demanded that the Taliban be held accountable for the torture of journalist Roman Karimi and for the detention of his driver.

The CPJ urged that Jamaluddin Deldar, the head of the radio station, and Mirza Hassani, a former owner of a local radio station, be released unconditionally as soon as possible.

On May 19, while reporting a women’s demonstration, Roman Karimi and his driver were detained and tortured by the Taliban.

The Taliban, according to Steven Butler, Asia Program Coordinator for Committee to Protect Journalists, should immediately release the detained journalists and investigate the attack on Roman Karimi and the detention of his driver.

He highlighted arbitrary detention and torture as indicators of Afghanistan’s deteriorating media environment, emphasizing that the process of access to information and an open society was in grave danger.

According to the Afghanistan Journalists Center, at least 80 journalists have been detained and tortured by the Taliban in the last nine months.

According to other figures, over 45 percent of journalists have quit since the Taliban assumed power, either due to threats or to leave the country.

Source: Khaama Press

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

https://www.khaama.com/unama-calls-on-the-taliban-to-release-journalists-and-end-draconian-measures47934/

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No Major Issues with Pak, Won’t Allow Terror Acts from Afghan Soil: Afghanistan’s Defence Minister Mullah Yaqoob

JUNE 02, 2022

Tensions have been running high at the borders between Afghanistan and Pakistan even as the two countries attempt to defuse the situation. The nearly 2,400km Durand Line has been a perpetual flashpoint between the two sides, especially after Pakistan started erecting fences there.

However, speaking to CNN-News18 in a global exclusive interview, Afghanistan’s defence minister Mullah Yaqoob maintained that things are not as bad as they seem.

“Our relations with Pakistan on the Durand Line and on a regional basis are political in nature. Inshallah, our relations are good and there are no major issues between us. On the issue of boundaries, I would mention that both countries are separate and issues are bound to come up as is evident with other countries. However, these incidents are not serious enough to cause a disruption in our relations. We have made efforts to resolve the issues which come up between us through talks,” he said.

The Durand Line passes through the present-day Pakistani provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (NWFP), Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and Balochistan. It also includes 10 provinces in Afghanistan.

The shadow of terror has not left Afghanistan and has remained a constant source of concern for countries like India as well as the United States and others.

Mullah Yaqoob, however, attempted to assuage those worries, saying his country will not allow its soil to be used to perpetrate terrorism in other nations.

“Our relations with al-Qaeda broke when America started its attack on Afghanistan and there is no new association with al-Qaeda. They went to Arab countries and brought revolutions there and established themselves there. It is mentioned that after the signing of the Doha agreement with America it is our national and sincere responsibility to honour the pact, which clearly states that Afghanistan’s soil will not be used against America and its coalition. Therefore, we are dutybound to implement it in letter and spirit and lay emphasis on it. Now we have put a check on it and America has also acknowledged it,” he said.

The defence minister also called upon other nations, particularly the United States, to drop all bitterness towards Afghanistan and form cordial relations.

“The 20 years of our animosity should be transformed into new thought and synergy. We are making efforts and are ready to have economic, political and other new relations in all spheres with America. There is no problem with this. America should also not create hurdles or pose challenges before the new government of Afghanistan. We hope that they refrain from it and initiate multi-faceted relations with the Afghan people,” he said.

As far as Daesh (ISIS) is concerned, he said, it is crushed in Afghanistan and has no physical presence here.

“Though, it could be that they would have secretly moved to a few places. It is also possible that similarly, they are present in other countries. We are on the task to end the Daesh threat not only in Afghanistan but also in other countries that would emanate from Afghanistan. We are working on it and have largely been successful in this. I assure the countries of the world and the neighbouring countries that Afghanistan’s soil will not be used against other countries by Daesh and we are earnestly working in this regard. We hope that there would not be any difficulties in this,” said the minister.

A United Nations report recently stated that Pakistan-based terror groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba, led by 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed, maintain their training camps in some provinces of Afghanistan and some of them are directly under the Taliban control.

Source: News18

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

https://www.news18.com/news/world/through-global-exclusive-interview-to-news18-afghan-defence-minister-invites-india-to-reopen-embassy-5292847.html

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Islamic Republic of Pakistan donates a street library to Sri Lanka

June 02, 2022

The first street library in Colombo was opened on May 20, 2022 as a gift from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Pakistan High Commissioner H.E. Major Genaral(Retd) Umar Frooq Burki HI(M) and the Chairman of the Urban Development Authority, Major General (Retd.) Udaya Nanayakkara participated the opening ceremony. Rs. 2.3 million has been spent for this library located in the parking lot near the Race Course mini pavilion, Colombo 7. On behalf of the Pakistan Government, the High Commissioner of Pakistan officially handed over the Library to the Chairman of the Urban Development Authority, Government of Sri Lanka.

The High Commissioner of Pakistan said that the library was given to the people of Sri Lanka as a gift with the aim of further strengthening the brotherhood and friendship between Sri Lanka and Pakistan. High Commissioner Major General (Retired) Umar Frooq Burki further stated that the Government of Pakistan will soon grant a similar street library to the people of Sri Lanka in Kandy. Major General (Retd.) Udaya Nanayakkara, Chairman of the Urban Development Authority , addressing the function said. ''Pakistan is one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka since independence in 1948. Both Pakistan and Sri Lanka are Commonwealth member states. Both countries are members of the Non-Aligned Movement and are members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Similarly, people in both countries love cricket and there are a lot of cricket fans in both countries. In this context, the two countries have a good mutual relationship as well as a close friendship. The Government of Pakistan has donated this street library worth Rs. 2.3 million to us, further enhancing the lasting friendship between our two countries.

Source: News LK

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https://www.news.lk/news/political-current-affairs/item/34099-islamic-republic-of-pakistan-donates-a-street-library-to-sri-lanka

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Indian officials visit Kabul for first Taliban meet since US left

June 2, 2022

India has sent a team of foreign ministry officials to Afghanistan's capital of Kabul for talks with senior members of the ruling Taliban, the ministry said on Thursday, the first such meeting since the chaotic US withdrawal last year.

Poverty and hunger have rocketed in the strife-torn nation since the Islamist militants took power last year after the United States withdrew.

“The Indian team will meet the senior members of the Taliban, and hold discussions on India's humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan,” the ministry said in a statement.

The officials would oversee delivery of humanitarian assistance and visit areas targeted by Indian-backed programmes or projects, it added.

India has donated about 20,000 tonnes of wheat, 13 tonnes of medicines, 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine and winter clothing, with more medicine and foodgrain on the way, it said.

The South Asian nation pulled its officials out of Afghanistan last August and closed its embassy, although New Delhi is keen to retain ties with the country.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1692752/indian-officials-visit-kabul-for-first-taliban-meet-since-us-left

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Taliban forces kill four NRF members in Afghanistan’s Tagab

2 June, 2022

Kabul [Afghanistan], June 2 (ANI): Taliban forces killed four members of the National Resistance Front during the clearing operation in Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province, a local media reported.

The incident took place on Tuesday morning in Tagab district, Khaama Press reported citing Bakhtar state news agency.

Taliban’s Director of Information and Culture in Badakhshan, Moizuddin Ahmadi, confirmed the news and also said that their air force has also participated in the operation.

The Taliban’s allegation of killing four National Resistance Front members and demolishing the group’s hideout has elicited no response from the National Resistance Front, reported Khaama Press.

Meanwhile, The National Resistance Front on Monday claimed that they have killed over 15 Taliban fighters in an ambush in Panjshir province.

Ali Maysam Nazari, the National Resistance Front’s head of foreign relations, said that their people have killed more than 15 Taliban fighters on the outskirts of Panjshir.

The Taliban have yet to make any comment on the resistance’s claim.

Earlier this month, in a statement, Sebghatullah Ahmadi, a spokesman for the National Resistance Front, claimed that 22 Taliban militants had been killed in battles with the front, but local Taliban leaders in Panjshir refuted the claims, saying that only three had been wounded, reported Khaama Press.

“Hostilities had grown in Dara district, but a small-scale damage had been done to Taliban troops, including the destruction of three vehicles and the injury of three members,” Abu Bakr Siddiqui, spokesman for the Taliban governor in Panjshir province, told the media.

Meanwhile, a Taliban spokesman for the province claims that their “operation” to clear the members of the NRF in the AbdullahKhel village has forced them to flee to the mountains.

The bodies taken to Kabul were also said to have been returned to the provinces, according to the media.

Source: The Print

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

https://theprint.in/world/taliban-forces-kill-four-nrf-members-in-afghanistans-tagab/980220/

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Mideast

 

148 Israeli Violations against Palestinian Journalists in May: NGO

Nour Abu Eisha  

01.06.2022

GAZA CITY, Palestine

An Arab NGO has documented 148 Israeli rights violations against Palestinian journalists in the occupied Palestinian territories last month.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Journalists Support Committee said the month of May witnessed a surge in attacks on Palestinian journalists by Israeli forces and settlers.

It termed the attacks as “an attempt to prevent Palestinian journalists from covering Israeli assaults against Palestinians and their holy sites.”

According to the NGO, the Israeli violations varied from arrests, intimidation, shooting, verbal and physical assaults to car-ramming incidents.

It said 11 journalists were detained by Israeli forces in the West Bank during May, while the custody of five others were extended without trial.

"Israeli forces, in collaboration with settlers, disrupted the work of 61 journalists and media institutions while covering Israeli violations in the cities of Jerusalem, Hebron and Jenin,” it added.

The NGO also noted that the social media accounts of 11 Palestinian journalists were suspended for alleged violations of publication rules.

Last month, Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, 51, was shot dead while covering an Israeli military raid in the West Bank city of Jenin.

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/148-israeli-violations-against-palestinian-journalists-in-may-ngo/2603042

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Israel army shoots, kills Palestinian during raid in West Bank

02 June, 2022

A Palestinian was killed in an Israeli raid in the north of the occupied West Bank on Wednesday night, the Palestinian health ministry said.

The ministry said the Palestinian died after arriving at a hospital in Jenin in a critical condition, having been “shot by live bullets in the chest and thigh.”

The Israeli army said it had carried out an operation in the village of Yabad near Jenin to demolish the home of Diaa Armashah, 27, who killed five people in a gun attack in - Bnei Brak, an Orthodox Jewish city near Tel Aviv in March.

Palestinian news agency Wafa said that six Palestinians were injured in the Israeli raid.

The army added that it had informed the Armashah family of the demolition order on April 17.

Israel regularly destroys the homes of individuals it blames for attacks on Israelis.

The practice, which often fuels tensions, has been condemned by critics as a form of collective punishment. Israel insists it deters attacks.

On Wednesday morning, Israeli soldiers shot dead Ghofran Warasnah, 31, near Hebron after she “advanced” towards soldiers with a knife, the army said.

Nineteen people, mostly Israeli civilians -- including 18 inside Israel and a Jewish settler -- have been killed in attacks by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs since late March.

Israeli security forces have responded with raids inside Israel and the West Bank, particularly in the flashpoint northern district of Jenin. Three Israeli Arab attackers and a police commando have died.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/06/02/Israel-army-shoots-kills-Palestinian-during-raid-in-West-Bank

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Erdogan says Turkey to rid Syria's Tal Rifaat, Manbij of terrorists

01 June ,2022

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday Turkey will rid northern Syria's Tal Rifaat and Manbij areas of terrorists, confirming the targets of the new incursion for the first time and saying it will continue into other regions.

His comments, in a speech to lawmakers from his ruling AK Party, came a week after he pledged a new military incursion on Turkey's southern border against the US-backed Syrian Kurdish militia YPG, which Ankara views as a terrorist group.

“We are going into the new phase of our determination to form a 30-km (20-mile) deep safe zone along our southern border. We will clear Tal Rifaat and Manbij of terrorists, and we will do the same to other regions step-by-step,” he said.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

“Let's see who supports these legitimate steps by Turkey and who hinders them,” Erdogan added.

Ankara has carried out four operations in northern Syria since 2016, seizing hundreds of kilometres of land and pushing some 30 km deep into the country, mainly targeting the YPG.

While backing opposing sides in Syria's war, Turkey has coordinated with Russia on its military operations.

Turkey's cross-border operations have been criticized by its NATO allies, notably the US and some have imposed a series of arms embargoes on Ankara. Washington expressed concern at any new offensive in northern Syria, saying it would put US troops at risk and undermine regional stability.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday repeated the Biden administration's opposition to the move.

“Any escalation there in northern Syria is something that we would oppose, and we support the maintenance of the current ceasefire lines,” Blinken told a news conference.

“We continue effectively to take the fight through partners to ISIS, within Syria, and we don't want to see anything that jeopardizes the efforts that are made to continue to keep ISIS in the box that we put it in,” he added.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/06/01/Erdogan-says-Turkey-to-rid-Syria-s-Tal-Rifaat-Manbij-of-terrorists

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Iran Seriously Pursuing Settlement of Dust Storms Problem with Iraq, Syria

2022-June-1

Iranian Vice-President and Head of the Department of Environment (DOE) Ali Salajeqeh said on Wednesday that Iran, Iraq and Syria will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to increase cooperation to combat dust storms.

He pointed to the latest consultations with Iraqi and Syrian officials to combat dust storms, said that the DOE's officials have had effective meetings with these countries' officials and have discussed ways to control dust storms.

"In Iraq, we had meetings with the Prime Minister and the Ministers of Environment, Foreign Affairs, Interior, Agriculture and Water Resources, who all stressed the need for cooperation in this field to combat the problem."

Salajeqeh also declared endorsement of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Syria that will be implemented in the city of Deir Ezzur, adding that an MoU will be signed with the Iraqi side on July 12, 2022, to control the foreign sources of the dust storms.

Last week, Iranian President Seyed Ebrahim Rayeesi called on the regional states to increase cooperation to resolve the dust storms problem in the region.

The campaign against dust pollution is a public demand today and the entire regional countries are expected to heed their responsibilities respectively, Rayeesi said in a phone conversation with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi on Sunday.

He said that the climate change is not restricted to any certain country and no borders are limits for the climatic phenomena.

Elsewhere, Rayeesi expressed satisfaction with the progressing movement of the Iraqi nation towards unity, and the interactions among various groups for establishment of the new Iraqi government, and argued that the approval of a law on prohibition of naturalizing relations with the Zionist regime at the Iraqi parliament was a blessed act.

The Iranian president said that development of connection routes between the two countries leads to broader economic ties and regional stability, stressing that Iran-Iraq railway project needs to become complete faster.

Al-Kadhimi, for his part, appreciated Iran's support for the Iraqi Parliament's decision to ban naturalizing ties with Israel.

He said that the Palestinian issue is a top concern for the world Muslims as the entire freedom and justice seekers in the world favor the liberation of Palestine.

Al-Kadhimi also assured President Rayeesi that the completion of Shalamcheh-Basra railroad will be followed up seriously.

He referred to his meeting with the head of the Iranian Environment Protection Organization about the dust problem and the practical acts that each country must pursue within the framework of an MOU.

Last Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian wrote letters to his counterparts in the region to discuss the origin of dust storms and environmental crises caused by the spread of sandstorms in the region.

He explained that "in addition to bilateral technical cooperation to control tiny particles issue, the Islamic Republic of Iran calls for the conclusion of a regional convention with the participation of the United Nations and its specialized agencies, in particular, the United Nations Environment Program and the World Health Organization".

Amir Abdollahian added in the letter that "it is necessary to create a fund under this proposed convention to which international and regional aid is deposited to use the fund in fighting the particles and deforestation as soon as possible".

The Iranian foreign minister further pointed out that the dust storms are a regional phenomenon as they spill over boundaries of the regional countries, therefore they require a regional solution.

Amir Abdollahian added that Iran had previously discussed the need for bilateral and collective action to curb the phenomenon of dust storms and deforestation with its Iraqi, Syrian, Kuwaiti and Turkish counterparts.

Source: Fars News Agency

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

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14010311000595/Iran-Serisly-Prsing-Selemen-f-Ds-Srms-Prblem-wih-Ira-Syria

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SNSC Secretary: Abadan's People to Overcome Hardship after Metropol Incident

2022-June-1

Shamkhani offered sympathy with family members of the victims of a tower block collapse in Abadan, saying the iconic city will eventually rise from the rubble of the Metropol building and overcome the psychological warfare being waged by enemies against the country in the aftermath of the tragedy.

He added that those who lost their loved ones in the disaster were currently grappling with “two types of debris”, one left from the building collapse and the other caused by the “politically bankrupt” elements loyal to the ex-Pahlavi regime.

“While authorities are doing their utmost to remove the physical debris and investigating the technical aspects that led to the incident, the elements who are creating [psychological] rubble, are at work to fabricate and spread maximum rumors in order to disturb public opinion,” Shamkhani said.

He added that monarchists, members of the anti-Iran Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) terrorist group, and separatists had entered the scene to fuel the psychological warfare using cyber space and satellite channels as a propaganda tool.

However, he said, today’s Abadan is the same city that successfully broke a siege imposed on it by the army of ex-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in the 1980s war, and its “brave and patient people will overcome the hardships and problems with the same spirit”.

Source: Fars News Agency

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

https://www.farsnews.ir/en/news/14010311000234/SNSC-Secreary-Abadan's-Peple-Overcme-Hardship-afer-Merpl-Inciden

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Turkey breaks off high-level talks with Greece as rift grows

01 June, 2022

Turkey will no longer hold high-level talks with neighboring Greece, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday amid rising tensions between the traditional rivals.

Ankara resumed negotiations with Athens last year following a five-year break to address differences over a range of issues such as mineral exploration in the eastern Mediterranean and rival claims in the Aegean Sea.

“We broke off our high-level strategy council meetings with Greece,” Erdogan told a meeting of his party’s lawmakers in Ankara, adding: “Don’t you learn any lessons from history? Don’t try to dance with Turkey.”

The talks had made little headway, but were a means for the two countries to air out their grievances without resorting to a potential armed standoff as had occurred as recently as two years ago.

Erdogan’s pivot on the talks appeared to have been triggered last week when he signaled his displeasure at comments made by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during a trip to the US.

Erdogan said Mitsotakis “no longer exists” for him after accusing the Greek leader of trying to block Turkey’s acquisition of F-16 fighter planes.

Erdogan also commented on Turkey’s objection to Sweden and Finland joining NATO. Ankara has complained the Nordic states harbor terror suspects and arm a group in Syria it accuses of being an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK that has waged a 38-year insurgency inside Turkey.

“NATO is a security organization, not a support organization for terrorist organizations,” he said.

The US and EU have categorized the PKK as a terror group. However, it’s Syrian wing, the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, has played a leading role in the US-led fight against ISIS.

Erdogan said those who tried to legitimize the PKK with “letter tricks” were “deceiving themselves, not us.”

The president added that Turkey would not change its stance on the Swedish and Finnish NATO application without seeing “binding documents” demonstrating a hardened approach to those Ankara considers terrorists.

Regarding a new cross-border military operation in Syria, Erdogan said Turkey was “entering a new phase” in its goal to create a 30-kilometer (19-mile) buffer zone south of the frontier.

The territory is controlled by a Syrian Kurdish administration and Ankara says it has been used to launch attacks on 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/2022/06/01/Turkey-breaks-off-high-level-talks-with-Greece-as-rift-grows

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Israel says Iron Beam laser-based missile shield to cost just $2 per interception

01 June, 2022

A laser-based air defense system that Israel hopes to deploy from next year to neutralize enemy rockets and drones will cost just $2 per interception, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Wednesday.

Israel currently depends on shoot-down systems that launch interceptor missiles costing between tens of thousands and millions of dollars to track such projectiles.

But the Iron Beam system, a prototype of which was unveiled last year, uses lasers to super-heat and disable aerial threats.

Bennett predicted it would enter service by early 2023.

“This is a game-changer, not just because we are striking at the enemy military, but also because we are bankrupting it,” he said during a visit to the system’s state-owned manufacturer, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.

Palestinian and Lebanese forces have in past wars launched thousands of rockets and mortar bombs at Israel, which has in recent years also intercepted drones it suspects were launched by Iranian-backed fighters near its borders.

Source: Al Arabiya

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

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/06/01/Israel-says-Iron-Beam-laser-based-missile-shield-to-cost-just-2-per-interception

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Pakistan

 

'Don't dare to cross limits': PM Shehbaz warns Imran against talking about Pakistan breaking apart

Nadir Gurmani

June 2, 2022

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif censured his predecessor Imran Khan on Thursday, accusing him of "making naked threats against the country", deeming him "unfit for public office" and warning him against "talking about [the] division of Pakistan".

The prime minister made these remarks in a Twitter post that referred to an interview of Imran with anchorperson Sami Abraham for Bol News programme 'Tajzia' last night during which the PTI chief urged the establishment to make the "right decisions" and warned that if Pakistan were to lose its nuclear deterrence, it would fragment into "three pieces".

In the interview aired Wednesday night, he said the current political situation was a problem for the country as well as the establishment. "If the establishment doesn't make the right decisions then I can assure [you] in writing that [before everyone else] they and the army will be destroyed because what will become of the country if it goes bankrupt," he said.

"Pakistan is going towards a default. If that happens then which institution will be [worst] hit? The army. After it is hit, what concession will be taken from us? Denuclearisation," he said. "If the right decisions aren't made at this time then the country is going towards suicide."

Hours after the interview was broadcast, PM Shehbaz tweeted: "While I am in Turkey inking agreements, Imran Niazi is making naked threats against the country. If at all any proof was needed that Niazi is unfit for public office, his latest interview suffices."

"Do your politics but don't dare to cross limits and talk about [the] division of Pakistan," he warned the PTI chairperson.

In a separate statement shared on the PML-N's Twitter, the premier said Imran's remarks were proof that the PTI chief was "involved in a conspiracy, not politics".

He said Imran was spreading "chaos" due to his "frustration and sick mentality", and that his statement was similar to those of Pakistan's enemies.

"This is not a statement but a conspiracy to spark the fire of anarchy and division in the country," PM Shehbaz said.

"Losing power does not mean that you wage a war against Pakistan, its unity and its institutions," he said, warning Imran not to "attack" the federation and country's institutions. "Don't exceed the limits [defined] by the law and Constitution."

The prime minister said the nation would not accept such "nefarious" plans at any cost and would not let them succeed. He vowed to defeat such "impure" aims.

'Modi's language'

Earlier, PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari also condemned Imran's remarks in a late-night statement shared on his party's Twitter.

"No one can talk about fragmenting Pakistan. This is not that language of a Pakistani but that of [Indian PM] Modi," he said.

"Imran Khan, power is not everything in this world. Be brave and learn to do politics standing on your own feet," Zardari berated the PTI chief, saying that the "wish of dividing this country into three pieces cannot be realised until we and our future generations live".

He concluded his statement by saying that "God willing, Pakistan will survive till the Day of Judgement".

The statement said Zardari had instructed the PPP to protest Imran's "impure statement".

'Agenda of anarchy and hate'

In his condemnation in a series of tweets, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique said Pakistan's nuclear programme was "safer in the hands of those" who started it and carried out nuclear tests — a reference to his party, the PML-N, which leads the incumbent coalition government.

He demanded Imran to elaborate on what right decisions the "army" needed to make.

The minister said the "incompetent PTI's policy of hate, revenge and division had brought the country on the brink of destruction" and alleged that Imran had been "conspiring against democracy since 2011 to come to power".

He said Imran should improve his "manners, behaviour, language and character before advising the army".

Rafique said Imran should leave behind the "agenda of anarchy and hate" and "learn to become a part of the political community before addressing the judiciary and army".

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1692749/dont-dare-to-cross-limits-pm-shehbaz-warns-imran-against-talking-about-pakistan-breaking-apart

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PTI seeks apex court’s protection from ‘state torture’

Nasir Iqbal

June 2, 2022

ISLAMABAD: While the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) finally approached the Supreme Court to seek its protection from the alleged ‘state torture’, the apex court on Wednesday directed the city administration and spy agencies to submit reports within a week explaining at what time PTI chairman Imran Khan had asked party workers to reach D-Chowk in violation of the last week’s court order and whether the crowds entering the Red Zone were ‘organised and supervised’ or their act was random.

Headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, a five-member SC bench observed that peaceful protest was a constitutional right but it must be exercised subject to permission by the state.

Read more: Azadi March: Changing plan to stay at D-Chowk, Imran says will return in 6 days if elections not called

The filing of the much-trumpeted petition by Barrister Ali Zafar on behalf of PTI secretary general Asad Umar on Wednesday coincided with the release of the damning order by the larger Supreme Court bench.

As the petition sought a restraining order against the use of ‘coercive measures’ or ‘intimidating tactics’ to stop supporters and leaders of the PTI from holding the next ‘peaceful Azadi March’ in Islamabad, PTI chairman Imran Khan linked the announcement of the next protest date with a decision of the apex court on the matter.

The PTI in its petition argued that locking down an entire province and restricting public movement amounted to illegal confinement and therefore contrary to the fundamental rights and asked the SC to restrain the federal and Punjab governments from restricting the movement of the people by any means. The petition also requested the court to stop the government from using force or any strong-arm tactics against anyone participating in the upcoming peaceful assembly.

The freedom of movement and the right to peaceful protest and procession is a fundamental right of all the citizens of Pakistan, under the 1973 Constitution, the petitioner emphasized, while claiming that the planned march was intended to be peaceful without violating any law.

The SC bench had earlier on May 26 dropped hints at taking cognizance of the unfortunate situation on the previous night.

In its order, the court observed that the high moral ground held by the parties (government and the PTI) diminished, because public rights, interest and property of the disinterested public were “breached” and “damaged badly”.

Authored by the CJP, the majority order of the court asked Islamabad police chief and chief commissioner, interior secretary, director generals of the Intelligence Bureau and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to furnish reports at what time did Mr Khan asked party workers to reach D-Chowk, and when, where and how did the crowd cross the barricade to enter a hitherto closed area.

It was further asked whether the protesters entering the Red Zone was ‘organised’ and ‘supervised’ or they moved randomly. Also, if there were any acts of provocation or breach of assurance by the government, it asked.

If any action or treatment meted out by the Islamabad police against the protesters was disproportionate to the actual or perceived wrong committed by the protesters, asked the SC.

Also, the court sought details of how many protesters managed to enter the Red Zone, which security arrangements were relaxed by the executive authorities, whether any security barrier cordons were broken or breached by protesters, how many protesters or party workers reached G-9/ H-9 ground and how many civilians were injured/killed/ hospitalised or arrested. The reports, the SC ordered, should reach within one week for perusal in chambers by members of the larger bench.

Contempt proceedings

In his additional note, Justice Yahya Afridi, a member of the larger bench, observed that Mr Khan, prima facie had disobeyed the May 25 court directions, therefore contempt proceedings be initiated against him for allegedly disobeying the directions instead of calling reports from the state agencies.

Justice Afridi also disagreed that no credible material was available before the court for initiating independent contempt proceedings against Mr Khan who allegedly disobeyed the May 25 court order.

The SC viewed the May 25 events with concern, observing that apparently the assurances conveyed to the court by counsel for PTI leadership may have been dishonored by its workers/ supporters/ sympathizers by proceeding to D-Chowk in the red zone area and by allegedly committing acts of arson and destruction of public and private properties on the way.

The court noted Mr Khan reached Jinnah Avenue leading to D-Chowk on May 26 early morning and announced the postponement of the Islamabad sit-in for six days. As a result, further damage to property or injury to human life was averted, it observed.

Responsibility

Nevertheless, the CJP noted, there remained the lurking question whether the responsibility for the events of May 25 evening comprising reckless acts of mob anger could be blamed upon the senior leadership of PTI.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1692715/pti-seeks-apex-courts-protection-from-state-torture

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Pakistan jirga lands in Kabul to take talks with Pak Taliban forward

Jun 2, 2022

ISLAMABAD: A 50-member council of elders (jirga) from Pakistan arrived in Kabul on Wednesday to join the ongoing talks between the outlawed Pakistani Taliban and Islamabad after the two sides agreed a month ago to extend a month-long ceasefire for an indefinite period.

The jirga, constituted to take forward the dialogue process and reach an agreement with the militants, has representatives from all seven tribal districts bordering Afghanistan and Malakand division of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. It comprises tribal elders, lawmakers and top government representatives, including federal minister Sajid Hussain Turi, a native of Orakzai tribal region.

The talks between the two have been facilitated by the Afghan Taliban in Kabul. It had resulted in a month-long ceasefire on May 1. As the truce was due to expire on May 31, the two sides agreed to extend it for an indefinite period to help prevent the derailment of the fragile process.

Officials said Sirajuddin Haqqani, Afghanistan’s interior minister, has played a key in mediating the talks. Sources familiar with the developments said Haqqani was personally available in some sessions of the talks and had effectively intervened to remove deadlocks to help push the process.

While Pakistani authorities have not revealed what they had agreed upon in talks with the TTP so far, Islamabad had last month released several TTP figures, including key leaders Muslim Khan and Mahmood Khan. Both leaders were on the list of over 100 detainees, the release of whom was one of the group’s key demands.

Muslim Khan, who had served as spokesperson for the TTP’s Swat chapter, was arrested in 2009 and later awarded the death penalty in 2016. Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had confirmed his death sentence. Reports suggested that he was pardoned through a presidential decree.

Previously, the TTP had been demanding restoration of the traditional semi-autonomous status of several of its tribal districts, formerly known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or Fata. The militants also demanded withdrawal of Pakistani troops from the rugged mountainous region and implementation of Sharia law in erstwhile Fata. They reject the Pakistani constitution as un-Islamic.

Islamabad, for its part, has been asking the TTP to shun militancy, dissolve the group and start living as normal Pakistani citizens.

Shaukatullah Khan, a jirga member and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s former governor, said he was hopeful of the outcome of peace talks, saying that the situation had changed in the region after the exit of foreign forces from Afghanistan.

Since its inception in 2007, the TTP-led suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks have killed tens of thousands of Pakistanis, including security forces. Sustained military operation by Pakistan has significantly degraded the group’s abilities to carry out major attacks.

Source: Times Of India

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

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-jirga-lands-in-kabul-to-take-talks-with-pak-taliban-forward/articleshow/91948750.cms

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Pak govt, TTP agree to extend ceasefire indefinitely amidst ongoing negotiations to end militancy

SAJJAD HUSSAIN

31 May, 2022

Islamabad/Peshawar, May 31 (PTI) The Pakistan government and the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have agreed to extend the ceasefire indefinitely amidst ongoing negotiations between the two sides to end the nearly two decades of militancy in the tribal region, bordering Afghanistan.

The ceasefire, which was to come to an end on the night of May 30, has been extended for an indefinite period, sources told PTI.

The extension in ceasefire indicates significant progress in talks between the two sides in the Afghan capital Kabul, Dawn newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the development.

The TTP, also known as the Pakistan Taliban, was set up as an umbrella group of several militant outfits in 2007. Its main aim is to impose its strict brand of Islam across Pakistan.

The group, which is believed to be close to al-Qaeda, has been blamed for several deadly attacks across Pakistan, including an attack on army headquarters in 2009, assaults on military bases and the 2008 bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.

Citing Sources, the paper said that the two sides had agreed to extend the ceasefire and continue peace talks following separate meetings with Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund, acting Prime Minister of the Taliban-led Afghanistan government, at his office the other day.

These sources said that in his meetings with the two sides, the septuagenarian leader expressed his desire that the talks and ceasefire should be allowed to continue without any cut-off date.

In a subsequent joint meeting, the two sides agreed to extend the ceasefire indefinitely and pursue negotiations to end the conflict that has seen mass dislocation and killings of thousands of people in Pakistan’s tribal region and the country at large.

Afghanistan’s interim Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid and TTP spokesman Muhammad Khurasani had issued statements early this month, announcing extension in the ceasefire till May 30.

No official statement has been issued so far regarding the indefinite extension in ceasefire.

The development follows days of “intense and extensive negotiations” in the Afghan capital attended by senior level delegations from the two sides that at one point seemed close to breakdown.

Afghanistan’s acting Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is the central mediator, helped bring the talks back on track, sources said.

The Pakistan government had demonstrated its seriousness by acceding to some of the TTP’s demands after the Afghan Taliban suggested it would be important for confidence-building to move from preliminaries to formal and structured negotiations.

The release of prisoners and presidential pardon to two key militant commanders, including TTP Swat spokesman Muslim Khan, was one such demand.

The government has released 30 TTP prisoners after the talks and ceasefire.

Compensation for the dead and wounded, enforcement of Shariah regulation in Malakand, withdrawal of military from the borders and reversal of tribal areas merger into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were key demands from the TTP side, sources said.

The government had no issue with some of the TTP’s demands, but two major issues remained challenging: the reversal of tribal areas merger and the disbandment of the TTP as an armed militant group, they said.

The government delegates made it clear that the merger brought about through a constitutional amendment was not up for discussion and that tribal people were the main, important stakeholders.

The TTP on its part had brought documents containing the commitment made by Pakistan’s founder Qaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah with the tribal people guaranteeing their autonomy in an independent Pakistan. They were told that the reversal of the merger would mean return to the Frontier Crimes Regulation which was a relic of the British Empire and did not contain anything that could be considered ‘Islamic.’ The disbandment of the TTP is another make-or-break issue, sources said.

The government has made it clear that no armed group would be allowed to enter Pakistan territory or operate as such.

The next round of negotiations is expected to take place in the second week of June, sources said, with a tribal jirga holding direct talks with the TTP in Kabul.

Source: The Print

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

https://theprint.in/world/pak-govt-ttp-agree-to-extend-ceasefire-indefinitely-amidst-ongoing-negotiations-to-end-militancy/977867/

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Country to head towards civil war if elections not announced: Imran Khan

June 1, 2022

PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Wednesday warned that the country would descend into a civil war if elections were not announced.

"We will see if they allow us to go towards elections through legal and constitutional means otherwise this country will go towards [a] civil war," he said in an interview with anchorperson Sami Ibrahim for Bol News programme Tajzia.

Imran further said there was "no question" of returning to the National Assembly as that would "mean accepting the conspiracy" that had removed his government.

He said he was waiting for the apex court to decide on his party's plea to provide protection to the protestors, after which he said he would issue the date for the next march.

'Did not have absolute power as PM'

The PTI chief admitted he did not enjoy absolute power as the prime minister, indicating that the actual centres of power in the country lay elsewhere and "everyone knows where that is."

In the interview, Imran was asked to recall the events of the night of the no-confidence vote against him, who was issuing orders and who had impeded the cases against the PPP and PML-N leaders.

Imran said his government had been "weak" when it came to power and had to seek coalition partners, adding that if the same situation were to arise again, he would opt for reelections and seek a majority government or none at all.

"Our hands were tied. We were blackmailed from everywhere. Power wasn't with us. Everyone knows where the power lies in Pakistan so we had to rely on them," he said without elaborating any further who he was referring to.

"We relied on them all the time. They did a lot of good things too but they didn't do many things that should've been done. They have the power because they control institutions such as NAB (National Accountability Bureau), which wasn't in our control."

He claimed that while his government had the responsibility, it did not have all the power and authority.

"No management works if I have responsibility but have no complete power and authority. A system works only when responsibility and authority are in one place."

Imran said it was imperative for the country to have a "strong army" due to the threat posed by the enemies but said there was also the need to strike a "balance" between having a strong army and a strong government.

'If establishment doesn't make right calls, country will head towards suicide'

The PTI chief said the current political situation was a problem for the country as well as the establishment. "If the establishment doesn't make the right decisions then I can assure in writing that [before everyone else] they and the army will be destroyed because what will become of the country if it goes bankrupt," he said.

"Pakistan is going towards a default. If that happens then which institution will be [worst] hit? The army. After it is hit, what concession will be taken from us? Denuclearisation."

Imran said that if Pakistan were to lose its nuclear deterrent capability, it would be fragmented into three pieces. "If the right decisions aren't made at this time then the country is going towards suicide," he warned.

Prodded further to share his thoughts on the night of the no-confidence vote, Imran declined to go in details and said: "History never forgives anyone. Things come out. If you ask me, I won't go into details, but when history will be written then it'll be counted as such a night in which Pakistan and its institutions were damaged a lot.

"Those same institutions weakened Pakistan which give it its foundation and strengthened it."

Imran said he had "clearly told the neutrals" that the PTI government's economic performance, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, was nothing short of a "miracle".

"I told them if you do this and if this conspiracy [to remove my government] is successful then our economy will go down," he said, adding that he had also sent former finance minister Shaukat Tarin to give a presentation.

Source: Dawn

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

https://www.dawn.com/news/1692602/country-to-head-towards-civil-war-if-elections-not-announced-imran-khan

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