New Age Islam
Fri Aug 07 2020, 04:34 PM

Islamic World News ( 28 Dec 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

Azhar University Professor Encourages Muslims to Celebrate the Spirit of Christmas















Photo: Azhar University professor encourages Muslims to celebrate the spirit of Christmas

 

No Concept of Observing Strikes in Islam: Pakistan SC

Muslim Village Adopts Orphaned Pandit Children

Georgian Muslim Clerics: No Ties between Terrorism and Religion

After Mosul: The One-Legged Teen Still Dreaming Of Dying For The Islamic State

------

Africa

Azhar University Professor Encourages Muslims to Celebrate the Spirit of Christmas

Lagos Churches, Mosques to Pay Taxes

The Latest: Egypt says 10 killed in attack on Coptic church

--------

Pakistan

No Concept of Observing Strikes in Islam: Pakistan SC

Actions Taken Against Haqqani Network In North Waziristan, Claims Pak Army

Security, terrorism discussed at NSA-Sharif Jati Umra meeting

Imran levels fresh allegations against Sharifs after 'uncovering new evidence'

If Musharraf is so brave, he should come to Pakistan and face cases against him: Nawaz

--------

India

Muslim Village Adopts Orphaned Pandit Children

Triple Talaq: Penal Law in Sync with Past Ones on Social Evils

LS Passes Triple Talaq Bill, Govt Calls It Historic

Uttar Pradesh's Lone Muslim Minister Slams Triple Talaq Supporters, Says AIMPLB Wants To Fulfil Vested Interests

'Comprehensive security check': Pakistan defends harassment of Kulbhushan Jadhav's kin

--------

Europe

Georgian Muslim Clerics: No Ties between Terrorism and Religion

Britain Resumes Financial Support for Terrorists in Syria

Muslim student beaten up after wishing someone ‘Merry Christmas’

Croydon's Muslim community helping Grenfell victims this winter

-------

Arab World

After Mosul: The One-Legged Teen Still Dreaming Of Dying For The Islamic State

Senior Cleric Blasts Saudi Arabia for Tragedy in Yemen

UNICEF: Children Suffer at Shocking Scale in Conflicts

From fighting 'Islamic State' to rotting in Iraqi jail

Saudi military aircraft hit civilian areas in Yemen’s Sa’ada, kill 4

Terrorists Free Abducted Civilians in Eastern Damascus

Lattakia: Al-Nusra Front's Grad Missiles Destroyed by Russian Air Defence System in Air

Tens of Militants Surrender to Syrian Army in Aleppo, Deir Ezzur

Syrian Army to Open New Front towards Idlib

Al-Nusra Terrorists Given Last Ultimatum to Leave Southwestern Damascus

The Red Crescent completes the “sick and abductees” deal by evacuating the last batch of medical conditions and the abductees remained in prisons of Jaysh Al-Islam

-------

South Asia

Bangladesh Targets 1, 00,000 for First Rohingya Repatriation

8 Militants Killed As Afghan Air Force Pound Taliban Hideouts In Uruzgan

Kazakhstan sends humanitarian aid to Muslims of Rohingja and Caribbean countries

Suicide bombers stormed Shia cultural center in Kabul

-------

Southeast Asia

Ire Over PAS Chief's Remarks Seen As Implying Non-Muslim Malaysians Cannot Be Policymakers

4 Convicted Muslims Get Additional Prison Time

-------

Mideast

Iranian Speaker's Advisor: US, Israel Hatching New Plots for Muslim Countries

Israel strikes Gaza after rocket attack

Turkish Daily: Ankara Seeks to Occupy Large Areas of Syrian Territories

--------

North America

Texas imam criticised for lack of apology over anti-Semitic sermon Anti-Defamation League say Imam Raed Saleh Al-Rousan’s statement ‘indicates he doesn’t fully understand the ramifications’ of his speech

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/azhar-university-professor-encourages-muslims-to-celebrate-the-spirit-of-christmas/d/113743

-----------

 

Azhar University Professor Encourages Muslims to Celebrate the Spirit of Christmas

December 29, 2017

A professor of Comparative Fiqh at Al-Azhar University, Saad al-Helaly, encouraged the universal celebration of Christmas, saying Muslims can celebrate the festivity without following its religious elements, encouraging a sense of solidarity between Muslims and Christians.

Helaly explained that Muslims celebrating Christmas is like celebrating any other special festivity without adding religious justification or value.

“In your life, if you celebrate things like anniversary of marriage, anniversary of getting a new job, a patriotic Eid or a scientific Eid. Then you have created a happy Eid and created joy within your family or your people. You have made the people experience a beautiful day.”

He explained that a feast does not discriminate between different religions, “It is a feast – not a religious feast like Salafis claim. We won’t follow the religious aspects but feel the spirit of Christmas. There is a difference between the spirit of Christmas and a religious feast.”

“Religious feasts have ‘takbeer’ and specific rituals and a prayer,” he said, “but the spirit of Christmas is to spread joy to humankind, and make your society and people happy even one day per year. Then have you done well to mankind or no?”

Christmas, he says, is “an idea that came out and created an international market. Children wait for it: Muslims, Christians and Jews. It created an economical boost and a true feeling of the New Year; that there is a new thing, that there is a day where families come together and rejoice.”

He concluded that religion will not stand in the face of universal happiness, “Go ahead and show me all ‘fatwas’ [ruling on Islamic law recognized by an authority]! Say it is ‘haram’ [forbidden in Islam].  Has the word ‘haram’ stopped the joy from spreading?”

“The people win,” he said defiantly, emphasizing the importance of the sense of society and community, and encouraging Muslims to celebrate Christmas in solidarity with Christians,

The speech comes at a time both some Muslims and non-Muslims alike could be reminded of the tolerance of Islam. Due to the rise of the Islamic State group, Muslims have often become perceived as synonymous with violent terrorists.

In Egypt, after the Muslim Brotherhood came to power from 2012-2013, Islam has been painted in a negative light. Moreover, many terrorism attacks have been blamed on extremist Islamists, including the horrific Palm Sunday church bombings which took place in April, and the Botroseya Church Bombings which occurred on 11 December 2016.

Moreover, there has been a long-going debate in Egypt on whether Muslims should partake or even congratulate Christians in their holy occasions. While both Dar-Al-Ifta and Al-Azhar said it was permissible, even preferable to congratulate Christians on their feasts, according the official Dar-Al-Ifta Website, hardline ‘imams’ [Islamic worship leaders] have disputed this.

egyptindependent.com/author/farah-tawfeek/

---------

 

No Concept of Observing Strikes in Islam: Pakistan SC

28 December, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday observed that there was no concept of observing strikes in Islam and that observing strikes was also against the certain provisions of the constitution.

A two-member Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice QaziFaez Isa observed this while hearing a bail application.

Justice Khan noted that the lawyers who do not appear before courts on account of strikes negate the constitutional system.

The court accepted the bail application of Waqas Ahmad, who was accused of injuring Maqsood Ahmad in Vihari in June 2016, against the surety bond of Rs 0.1 million.

Justice Isa noted that the day lawyers do not appear before the courts, the salary of that day becomes haraam for the judges. He remarked that today lawyers go on strikes and tomorrow the prosecutors and judges would also go on strike. “When I was chief justice of Balochistan High Court, I did not let lawyers go on strike for a single day,” Justice Isa remarked, adding that they have to ensure timely provision of justice.

Justice Khan noted that when traffic police issues challan to a lawyer, the lawyers go on strike the next day. Advocate Khalid Zulfiqar Maluka, who appeared in the case, stated that after the lawyers’ movement for restoration of Judiciary in 2007, the lawyers have gone out of control. Justice Khan noted that the movement for the restoration of judiciary had a constitutional stance and was launched for the restoration of the constitution.

paktribune.com/news/No-concept-of-observing-strikes-in-Islam-SC-280114.html

---------

 

Muslim village adopts orphaned Pandit children

Posted on 25/12/2017

Srinagar, Dec 24: Muslims in Levdoora village in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district are in grief over the death of a Pandit woman, who left behind four children.

As the news about death of Nancy Koul spread in the village, the villagers poured in large numbers to mourn the death and express solidarity with the children.

Click here to watch video

Nancy Koul, 50, was employed in Jammu and Kashmir Bank early this year after the death of her husband as she had no source of income. Her husband Mahraj Krishan Koul was running a tea shop in Qazigund to earn the livelihood but his death snatched the livelihood from the family. However, a local leader got Nancy employed in Jammu and Kashmir Bank as peon.

Nancy has now left behind four children with no livelihood. The eldest daughter is SarojKoul, who is 17 years old and was helping the family. Her second daughter MeenakshiKoulis in 10th Standard, son SagarKoul in 9th standard and the youngest one, SonuKoul is in LKG.

Nancy Koul and her husband were married in 1990 when Pandits left the Valley. The village had 35 families and all migrated but Koul’s decided to stay back. However, Muslims helped them and gave them full support and protection in all these years.

Over 3,000 people, mostly Muslims joined the last rites of Nancy. The women of the village were wailing and consoling the children of Nancy who were weeping bitterly over the death of their mother.

Pandit Sunil Raina thanked the Muslims for helping them in the cremation of Nancy. He said that Muslims of the village have always helped the family and hoped that they will help the children, who have been orphaned.

Ateeqa Begum, an elderly neighour of Koul’s said that they will take care of the children. “Even if I have to beg from people, beg outside Mosques or from the people, I will take care of these children. These are our own children and we will take their care as we do care for our children”, she said.

Ateeqa said that they will not allow them to leave the village as it is the responsibility of the Muslims of the village to look after them. “We have decided that village will adopt these children and will not allow any body to take them away from the village”, she said.

dailyexcelsior.com/muslim-village-adopts-orphaned-pandit-children/

---------

 

Georgian Muslim clerics: No ties between terrorism and religion

'Violence, cruelty and torture have nothing to do with Islam. Islam is a religion of peace and kindness. We urge all citizens of Georgia, regardless of their nationality and religion, to protect peace and stability in the country and to unite against violence,” said the religious leaders of Georgian Muslims in a recent statement.

In the statement, it was also noted that the Muslims of Georgia have lived in peace with other confessions for centuries and have contributed to the country’s development, according to the Azeri news agency APA.

The statement came after five suspected terrorists were arrested during an operation in the Chechen-populated Pankisi Gorge.

Georgia, a country in Caucasus, is home to 433,000 Muslims that comprise 9.9 percent of the total population of the country.

irna.ir/en/News/82779069

---------

 

After Mosul: The one-legged teen still dreaming of dying for the Islamic State

Friday 29 December 2017 09:00 UTC

Ahmed is 16. He has the provocative smile and attitude of a teenager who is not afraid to say what he thinks, even if what he thinks is that he would like to die in the name of Allah.

Until May, Ahmed, not his real name, lived in western Mosul but he was not a civilian in search of escape.

Ahmed lost his right leg three years ago, he said, in a coalition air strike on the Islamic State (IS) training camp where he and other child recruits were taught to fight and die.

Despite his invalidity and his subsequent arrest and detention by Iraqi intelligence, Ahmed says his desire to carry out the mission for which he was trained remains undimmed.

"Martyrdom is the ultimate goal of Islamic State fighters, it is our desire, the desire of every fighter," said Ahmed, speaking to Middle East Eye in the presence of an Iraqi intelligence officer at a safe house in Qayyara, a town south of Mosul.

"It is a degree that no human on earth can reach unless he fights with ISIS [an alternative acronym for IS]. The desire of every soldier is martyrdom, and the highest rank of all fighters is the martyrdom mission."

Ahmed is one of many hundreds of minors arrested by Iraqi security forces since the beginning of the offensive to liberate Mosul.

Many of them are now in prison in Baghdad or Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan, but some remain in Qayyara where they are hidden in safe houses by Iraqi intelligence officers who interrogate them or use them as informers amid fears that IS sleeper cells are still present in Mosul and planning retribution.

“Many of these kids have active contacts with sleeping cells that are far from being destroyed. Indeed, they are active and will be more dangerous in the coming months,” Fasi, the intelligence officer, told MEE.

'The beginning of the war'

Ahmed’s father was a soldier in the Iraqi army who was killed three years ago by IS, Fasi said.

“Despite this, Ahmed, his older son, joined them. This guy is not just a source of information for us. We need to figure out what will happen in the future, and what the people of Mosul will have to face."

Ahmed represented the “deep roots” of IS, he added. “He reminds us that regaining Mosul is not the end, but only the beginning of the war.”

Fasi is still a young man, in his early 30s, but he has the tired eyes of someone used to working day and night.

When he came to escort us to the safe house to meet Ahmed, Fasi told MEE he had been awake for 30 hours already and had just orchestrated the arrest of the wife of an IS senior leader.

“A source told us that she was living in eastern Mosul with her five children. No one had managed to arrest her, but I did it. And be sure she will stay here for a long time. She is not innocent,” said Fasi.

Being an intelligence agent feels more like a mission than a job, he said.

Fasi was born in a village near Hawija, in Kirkuk governorate, an IS stronghold and one of the last areas of Iraq to be recaptured from the militants.

"IS did not start in 2014," Fasi said, slowly sipping his coffee as he recalled the influence that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the founder of al-Qaeda in Iraq who was killed in a US air strike in 2006, had exerted on his peers.

“In my village there were two possibilities: radicalising or choosing to save yourself. I chose books. I read and I studied,” he said.

"That's why I think the real war begins now. This is the reason why I decided to work on younger ones, and for this I decide how to hold them, how to interrogate them and where it is more useful for them to stay."

'They just cut off my leg'

When we arrived in Qayyara, Ahmed was sat on a couch watching an American movie, the crutch that he uses to walk leaning on a chair alongside him.

“Hundreds of kids were killed. They just cut off my leg,” he said recalling the coalition air strike three years ago that left him an amputee.

MEE cannot corroborate details of Ahmed’s story but the US-led air campaign has been blamed for many hundreds of deaths in Mosul.

The air strike came weeks after he had pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, IS’s self-styled caliph, at the age of just 13.

"Our families did not know anything, we decided to go without coercion, I decided with my dearest friends to join IS. We were the centre of the world, the capital of the caliphate, and we knew it then, as we know it now," said Ahmed.

When the training camp was hit, a high-ranking commander gathered the survivors, telling them it was time to target European countries in retaliation.

"They killed our children, we will kill theirs. We will arrive in their homes. We will destroy their lives," he told them, according to Ahmed, whose voice filled with anger, resentment and desire for revenge as he spoke.

Ahmed also spoke of his frustration that his disability had prevented him from undertaking a “martyrdom mission”, a suicide attack in one of the heavily armoured vehicle bombs that IS regularly deployed against advancing Iraqi forces .

"Martyrdom is the ultimate goal of Islamic State fighters, it is our desire, the desire of every fighter," he explained.

"It is a degree that no human on earth can reach unless he fights with ISIS. The desire of every soldier is martyrdom, and the highest rank of all fighters is the martyrdom mission.”

With only one leg, he said, he was repeatedly overlooked for sought-after car-bombing missions.

"To participate in a martyrdom mission you had to wait for your turn, and often there were hundreds of fighters in the queue. The desire of each martyr is to get a Hummer vehicle or a Silverado pick-up, an armoured one.

“Everyone wants bigger vehicles because they kill more people. And the more people the fighter kills, the more he will be rewarded."

Those who could not get a car bomb were tasked with blowing themselves up with suicide belts.

"Everyone wants to die. All the boys wanted to die," Ahmed said. "Three of my dearest friends are martyrs. One of them was the son of the pharmacist, a wealthy family. He was 15 and he wanted to be a martyr and he cried a lot when his commander told him to wait for his turn."

“One day the commander gave him a bag, a backpack with a detonator, he headed for a base of the Iraqi army. He killed nine infidels. And he was a good football player. He was very fast."

Foreign fighters were 'fiercest'

Ahmed said he has seen hundreds of foreign fighters, including many women in Mosul, from countries including France, Belgium, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan.

“The women were armed like men, they had their own weapons. Foreign men and women were the fiercest fighters. They came from all over the world to become martyrs."

One day his commander gave a public speech to hundreds of foreign fighters, urging them to return home and to persuade their friends and relatives to stay in Europe because Europe would be the next battlefield.

“We are enough here, stay in Europe and kill there. If you cannot find weapons, take knives and kill them in the crowded streets, use cars, burn their homes. Kill their children."

The speech reflected the words of Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, IS’s chief propagandist who had called for IS supporters to mount improvised attacks in Western countries.

Adnani wanted it, Ahmed said, "and we all had to do our best to kill as many people as possible".

Fasi listened silently to Ahmed's words, taking notes and shaking his head when Ahmed spoke of his desire to be a martyr.

At least half a million children in Iraq lived for three years under IS rule and many of them, like Ahmed, were educated and indoctrinated in the group’s murderous ideology.

As we drove away afterwards, he spoke loudly of what we had heard.

"He really wants to die, it is his deep desire, we must work on this desire of death. These guys do not want just to kill, they have a deep desire to die, and it is the most dangerous thing that IS has rooted in these little boys: they are ready for everything and every kind of violence is normalised for them.”

Zarqawi 'a hero'

But questions hang over the way in which former suspected IS fighters have been detained and the conditions in which they are being held.

When MEE asked Fasi what happens to detainees in prisons, where there is no distinction between minors and adults and where journalists cannot enter, he shook his head and would not answer.

"There are no real deradicalisation projects," he said when pressed.

This is one of the crucial post-war problems, the risk that the detention of hundreds of children trained and educated by IS could itself feed a further cycle of violence in the future.

"These boys cite Zarqawi as a hero, as an example to follow, deep inside of me I know these guys are victims, and maybe victims twice, because often they were forced by their own fathers, but I understand the feeling of revenge that animates the people of Mosul,” said Fasi.

Every day too there are new episodes of retaliation against families suspected of links to IS.

At least 170 families have been forcibly moved by Iraqi security forces into “rehabilitation” camps east of Mosul, which they cannot leave, Human Rights Watch reported in June.

"Iraqi authorities should not punish entire families because of the actions of their relatives," said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

"These abusive acts are war crimes and are sabotaging efforts to promote reconciliation in areas retaken from ISIS."

In Qayyara many houses associated with IS supporters have been burst down. Some citizens also compiled a list of 60 families who were threatened with death if they did not leave the village immediately.

The same thing happened in Hamam al-Alil, 30 kilometres south of Mosul, where the houses of relatives of IS fighters were vandalised and their relatives forced to leave.

The fate of many men who were rounded up in the last weeks of the battle for Mosul, when Iraqi generals considered anyone of fighting age still in the city to be a possible IS accomplice, remains unknown.

But in western Mosul, which was completely destroyed and where the smell of decaying bodies still hangs in the air, there is little sympathy among the soldiers who faced IS fighters in battle for those who are missing.

Some say they would like to kill all of them, regardless of their age.

"There is no chance for them, they were raised in the name of hatred and cannot change, so we should kill them," Ali, a young soldier in Badosh, told MEE.

Others simply pray that they will never again find themselves faced by a young boy with an explosive belt.

"When I saw a child blowing himself up in the frontline I vomited for a whole day thinking about my own son," said another soldier.

'We are not ready'

In Mosul, the challenge is to rebuild the city and to rehabilitate a civilian population traumatised by three years of violence even as the threat of further random attacks and sectarian tensions remains high.

"Defeating IS in Mosul does not mean that we have destroyed its roots or resolved the deep reasons that generated it,” said Fasi.

Fasi describes Ahmed as "a survivor" but when asked what his fate and that of others like him will be, he shook his head.

"Iraq is not ready to reintegrate these guys. We are not ready,” he said.

Ahmed, meanwhile, remained vengeful, unable to hide his lack of remorse or disdain for his captors.

“If you think the ideals of ISIS will end with the war, you're wrong,” he told us before we left.

It did not matter, he said, if IS lost Sirte, Mosul, Raqqa, or whichever capital of its fast-shrinking territory fell next, because the ideals of the caliphate would endure.

"They're just pieces of land," Ahmed said. "We can lose them any time. Getting rid of us is getting rid of the Quran: impossible. We are the people of the future, and even though this war is lost, we must continue for our Prophet, the message will continue until the end of the world.”

Today Ahmed no longer lives in Qayyara.

After weeks of questioning, Fasi decided he could not get any more information from him and so he sent him to the prison in Baghdad where most of those suspected of being close to IS are being held.

MEE asked him whether there were any projects there that might benefit the 16-year-old, challenge his views, and perhaps open up a future path to rehabilitation, but Fasi is sceptical.

"He was dangerous,” he replied. "Most likely he will not change.”

middleeasteye.net/news/after-mosul-one-legged-teen-still-dreaming-dying-islamic-state-524322303

---------

Africa

Azhar University Professor Encourages Muslims to Celebrate the Spirit of Christmas

December 29, 2017

A professor of Comparative Fiqh at Al-Azhar University, Saad al-Helaly, encouraged the universal celebration of Christmas, saying Muslims can celebrate the festivity without following its religious elements, encouraging a sense of solidarity between Muslims and Christians.

Helaly explained that Muslims celebrating Christmas is like celebrating any other special festivity without adding religious justification or value.

“In your life, if you celebrate things like anniversary of marriage, anniversary of getting a new job, a patriotic Eid or a scientific Eid. Then you have created a happy Eid and created joy within your family or your people. You have made the people experience a beautiful day.”

He explained that a feast does not discriminate between different religions, “It is a feast – not a religious feast like Salafis claim. We won’t follow the religious aspects but feel the spirit of Christmas. There is a difference between the spirit of Christmas and a religious feast.”

“Religious feasts have ‘takbeer’ and specific rituals and a prayer,” he said, “but the spirit of Christmas is to spread joy to humankind, and make your society and people happy even one day per year. Then have you done well to mankind or no?”

Christmas, he says, is “an idea that came out and created an international market. Children wait for it: Muslims, Christians and Jews. It created an economical boost and a true feeling of the New Year; that there is a new thing, that there is a day where families come together and rejoice.”

He concluded that religion will not stand in the face of universal happiness, “Go ahead and show me all ‘fatwas’ [ruling on Islamic law recognized by an authority]! Say it is ‘haram’ [forbidden in Islam].  Has the word ‘haram’ stopped the joy from spreading?”

“The people win,” he said defiantly, emphasizing the importance of the sense of society and community, and encouraging Muslims to celebrate Christmas in solidarity with Christians,

The speech comes at a time both some Muslims and non-Muslims alike could be reminded of the tolerance of Islam. Due to the rise of the Islamic State group, Muslims have often become perceived as synonymous with violent terrorists.

In Egypt, after the Muslim Brotherhood came to power from 2012-2013, Islam has been painted in a negative light. Moreover, many terrorism attacks have been blamed on extremist Islamists, including the horrific Palm Sunday church bombings which took place in April, and the Botroseya Church Bombings which occurred on 11 December 2016.

Moreover, there has been a long-going debate in Egypt on whether Muslims should partake or even congratulate Christians in their holy occasions. While both Dar-Al-Ifta and Al-Azhar said it was permissible, even preferable to congratulate Christians on their feasts, according the official Dar-Al-Ifta Website, hardline ‘imams’ [Islamic worship leaders] have disputed this.

egyptindependent.com/author/farah-tawfeek/

---------

 

Lagos Churches, Mosques to pay Taxes

December 29-17

A bill that would review land use charge in Lagos state has gone through second reading on the floor of the state House of Assembly during plenary on Thursday, December 28.

The law tagged:“A Bill for A Law To Repeal The Land Use Charge Law 2001 and Enact Land Use Charge 2017 and For Connected Purposes” was subsequently committed to the House Ad-hoc Committee on Finance headed by YinkaOgundimu representing Agege II, New Telegraph reports. .

Speaker of the House, Hon. MudashiruObasa, said the law was all about increasing the revenue generation of the state.

He said that the House would not exempt religious organisations in the law “because most of the worship centres are making money.

”We could only exempt Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).”

Obasa observed that a situation where a few consultants were working with the state governments on the collection of land use charge was not good enough, calling for increase in the number of consultants.

He said: “We need more consultants to do the job so that the entire state could be covered in the collection of land use charge. Whatever tribunal that would be set up to deal with offenders should have the support of the government.

“On the issue of exemptions, we cannot exempt religious organisations because most of the worship centres are making money. We could only exempt Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).”

The Majority leader of the House, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade had informed the House that the Bill would be going through second reading.

Agunbiade stated that the bill would repeal the existing law on land use charge, adding that it was an Executive Bill. He stressed that the bill would prohibit application of other relevant laws relating to land use.

Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. WasiuEshinlokun-Sanni supported the bill, saying that it would help increase the revenue of the state.

In supporting the proposed law, Hon. GbolahanYishawu stated that it should give provision for certain approval by the state House of Assembly and called the attention of the House to the issue of enforcement of collection of the charges.

He frowned at a situation, where only about 300,000 houses were paying land use charges in a state with about two million houses.

thebreakingtimes.com/lagos-churches-mosques-to-pay-taxes/

---------

 

The Latest: Egypt says 10 killed in attack on Coptic church

By Associated Press December 29

Egypt’s Health Ministry spokesman says at least 10 people, including eight Coptic Christians, have been killed in a shootout outside a south Cairo church.

Khaled Megahed says Friday’s attack took place when gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire outside Mar Mina church. One gunman was shot dead as was a security officer, he said.

Egypt’s state-run MENA news agency, citing an unnamed Interior Ministry official, said the other assailant fled the scene and was being pursued.

Earlier, security officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said two police were killed.

The spokesman for the Coptic Orthodox Church said in a statement that at least six people were killed in the attack including five Copts and a policeman. It also said there was a separate attack on a store in the same neighborhood of Helwan that killed two Copts.

Egypt’s Christian minority has been targeted by Islamic militants in a series of attacks since December 2016 that left more than 100 dead and scores wounded

Egyptian security officials say two policemen have been shot dead in an attack outside a church in a south Cairo suburb.

The officials said a gunman opened fire outside a Coptic church before he was shot dead himself. They say the exchange of fire also injured three other people. The officials requested anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/the-latest-egypt-says-10-killed-in-attack-on-coptic-church/2017/12/29/b90863b8-ec8d-11e7-956e-baea358f9725_story.html?utm_term=.b9585d690b34

---------

Pakistan

No Concept of Observing Strikes in Islam: Pakistan SC

28 December, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday observed that there was no concept of observing strikes in Islam and that observing strikes was also against the certain provisions of the constitution.

A two-member Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice QaziFaez Isa observed this while hearing a bail application.

Justice Khan noted that the lawyers who do not appear before courts on account of strikes negate the constitutional system.

The court accepted the bail application of Waqas Ahmad, who was accused of injuring Maqsood Ahmad in Vihari in June 2016, against the surety bond of Rs 0.1 million.

Justice Isa noted that the day lawyers do not appear before the courts, the salary of that day becomes haraam for the judges. He remarked that today lawyers go on strikes and tomorrow the prosecutors and judges would also go on strike. “When I was chief justice of Balochistan High Court, I did not let lawyers go on strike for a single day,” Justice Isa remarked, adding that they have to ensure timely provision of justice.

Justice Khan noted that when traffic police issues challan to a lawyer, the lawyers go on strike the next day. Advocate Khalid Zulfiqar Maluka, who appeared in the case, stated that after the lawyers’ movement for restoration of Judiciary in 2007, the lawyers have gone out of control. Justice Khan noted that the movement for the restoration of judiciary had a constitutional stance and was launched for the restoration of the constitution.

paktribune.com/news/No-concept-of-observing-strikes-in-Islam-SC-280114.html

---------

 

Actions taken against Haqqani network in North Waziristan, claims Pak army

By Khaama Press - Fri Dec 29 2017, 10:50 am

The Pakistani military officials are claiming that actions have been taken against the notorious Haqqani terrorist network in North Waziristan tribal region of Pakistan.

A spokesman for the military of Pakistan General Asif Ghafoor told reporters on Thursday that army went into North Waziristan indiscriminately and took action against the Haqqani network as well.

“The effect of an operation does not fully appear immediately. What we do today, its impact will be felt tomorrow,” he was quoted saying by Daily Times.

This comes as the Afghan and US officials are saying that the Haqqani network and the Taliban group leadership councils are still based in Pakistan.

In its latest report released nearly two weeks ago, Pentagon said certain militant and terror groups including the Taliban and Haqqani network still have freedom of action inside the Pakistani soil.

“Although Pakistani military operations have disrupted some militant sanctuaries, certain extremist groups—such as the Taliban and the Haqqani Network—retains freedom of movement in Pakistan. The United States continues to convey to all levels of Pakistani leadership the importance of taking action against all terrorist and extremist groups,” the report said.

It further added that the Department of Defense will be a part of a whole-of-government, regional strategy to isolate the Taliban from sources of external support and to mitigate any malign influence from outside actors.

“Our military-to-military relationship with Pakistan remains critical to the success of our mutual interests in the region. To move forward, we must see fundamental changes in the way Pakistan deals with terrorist safe-havens in its territory,” the report said.

According to Pentagon “To induce that change, we will work across the U.S. Government, using a range of tools to expand our cooperation with Pakistan in areas where our interests converge and to take unilateral steps in areas of divergence.”

khaama.com/actions-taken-against-haqqani-network-in-north-waziristan-claims-pak-army-04146

---------

 

Security, terrorism discussed at NSA-Sharif JatiUmra meeting

ZulqernainTahirUpdated December 29, 2017

LAHORE: National Security Adviser retired Lt Gen Nasser Khan Janjua met former premier Nawaz Sharif on Thursday — first time after the latter’s disqualification in the Panama Papers case in July.

The meeting at Mr Sharif’s JatiUmra residence in Raiwind, which reportedly lasted five hours, discussed matters of national security, relations with neighbouring countries and terrorism.

The ousted premier stressed the need for friendly relations with neighbouring countries. “There is a dire need to improve ties with the neighbouring countries. Peace is inevitable in Afghanistan for peace in the region,” a PML-N leader quoted Mr Sharif as saying during the meeting.

Ousted PM stresses friendly relations with neighbouring countries

The former prime minister said he always talked about friendly relations with Pakistan’s neighbours because without them problems being faced by the people of the region could not be solved. “War is no solution to any problem.”

Mr Sharif and the security adviser also discussed the issue of foreign support for terrorists in Pakistan and pledged that war against terrorism would continue till the elimination of the last terrorist from its soil.

In reply to a question about the significance of the Sharif-Janjua meeting, Climate Change Minister and PML-N information secretary Mushahidullah Khan told Dawn that Mr Sharif was chief of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and he could meet any member of his party’s government.

When pointed out that while Mr Sharif had been presiding over meetings of members of the PML-N government mostly on political issues, holding such a marathon meeting with the security adviser for the first time since his ouster was unusual, the minister said: “It is significant but not unusual. While Mian sahib is keeping a close eye on other issues, he is also well aware of the country’s security issues. He raised the Kashmir issue, especially martyrdom of Burhan Wani, in the United Nations as he does not need any certificate of patriotism.”

In response to a question about Mr Sharif’s ‘strained’ relations with the military establishment, Mr Khan said: “The security adviser does not need anybody’s permission to brief the PML-N chief on security issues as he is a civilian member of the cabinet.”

Asked if Mr Janjua’s briefing to Mr Sharif had anything to do with the special tour of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to Saudi Arabia, the minister said: “I don’t think so.Shahbaz Sharif will himself brief Mian sahib on his return (from Saudi Arabia).”

On Wednesday, Shahbaz Sharif left for Saudi Arabia on a special plane sent by the kingdom. According to the Punjab government, the chief minister will hold “important meetings” in Saudi Arabia, besides performing Umra.

dawn.com/news/1379496/security-terrorism-discussed-at-nsa-sharif-jati-umra-meeting

---------

 

Imran levels fresh allegations against Sharifs after 'uncovering new evidence'

Dawn.comDecember 29, 2017

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan on Friday said that fresh documents that have been uncovered show that the Sharif family has 11 companies in Dubai, while also levelling more allegations against ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family.

"These new documents we have uncovered show that this family [the Sharifs] have 11 companies in Dubai and out of those, their company HDS Securities Pvt Ltd owns 52 villas in Dubai," Khan said while addressing a press conference in Islamabad.

"Imagine how many villas the other companies must own," he said, adding that another "discovery" made by his people says that the companies in Dubai have money pouring into them from Switzerland, Turkey, Oman and the United Kingdom.

"From Switzerland, there is an inflow of 60 million dirhams, and another 11 million dirhams. There's more money flowing in from other parts of the world which shows that they also have businesses in those parts of the world," Khan said while reading figures from a piece of paper.

Moving on to Ishaq Dar, he said that the former finance minister has only been sent on leave and not sacked because he is involved in laundering money along with Nawaz Sharif and his family.

"Why do you think ShahidKhaqanAbbasi gave Dar his own plane to leave the country, it was because they were all afraid he was going to end up telling the truth in court like he did before," Khan said.

"My other question is, why has Abbasi not told the country about the LNG deal he has made with Qatar. He said he will disclose the terms of the contract on the Parliament floor and then later said that the deal is confidential," Khan said, asking how a deal made with the country's money could be confidential.

"When these people say they are trying to save democracy, they mean they are trying to save their own thievery — that's what unites them," Khan remarked, adding that when people say Nawaz Sharif is the name of an ideology, they mean its an ideology based on corruption.

"I would like to ask the judiciary why it is taking pressure from this one powerful family. They should either get rid of the contempt of court law or apply it on everyone equally. This father and daughter duo say things against the Supreme Court and the judiciary and get away with it while the common man is reprimanded for even the smallest comment," Khan said.

"The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which is not even a part of the judiciary, sent out my warrants for a remark I had made, while the SC has not said anything to Nawaz for his tirade against the highest judicial office in the country," he added.

"The people are behind the SC; it should not take pressure from this family," Khan said.

dawn.com/news/1379547/imran-levels-fresh-allegations-against-sharifs-after-uncovering-new-evidence

---------

 

If Musharraf is so brave, he should come to Pakistan and face cases against him: Nawaz

ArifMalikDecember 29, 2017

Vowing to bring former president Pervez Musharraf to the court soon, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday said, "The time has come for those who violated the Constitution to be punished".

While speaking to PML-N workers and leaders following the Friday congregation, Sharif said: "The courts will have to be awakened on Musharraf's cases."

Sharif, whose second term as the prime minister ended as a result of the then army chief Musharraf's coup in October 1999, said that the former president is a "coward" and is making excuses to stay abroad. "If he is so brave, he should come to Pakistan and face the cases."

Earlier this week, for the first time since Nawaz's disqualification at the hands of Supreme Court, the Sharif family publicly said that initiation of a treason case against Musharraf by the PML-N government was the reason behind his ouster.

“Will we see any court hold Musharraf accountable for his crimes?” Sharif had asked, expressing hope that "it would happen one day".

Musharraf is currently facing trial in the Benazir Bhutto murder case.

A day after Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari's chants of "Musharraf qatil" on Benazir's death anniversary commemoration at GariKhudaBux, Musharraf issued a video message, saying that there was no evidence against him in the case.

He had added that Sharif and Bilawal had suddenly begun making statements against him to pressurise the army.

In response, Bilawal had demanded Musharraf to come back to Pakistan and "face his court cases, if he has the courage to do so".

Musharraf has been declared an absconder in a treason case and that of Benazir Bhutto's murder by the Supreme Court and an anti-terrorism court, respectively. He left the country for Dubai last year on the pretext of receiving a medical treatment.

"I am a commando and I love my homeland. I will come back in a few weeks or months," he had said before leaving.

dawn.com/news/1379543/if-musharraf-is-so-brave-he-should-come-to-pakistan-and-face-cases-against-him-nawaz

--------

India

Muslim village adopts orphaned Pandit children

Posted on 25/12/2017

Srinagar, Dec 24: Muslims in Levdoora village in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district are in grief over the death of a Pandit woman, who left behind four children.

As the news about death of Nancy Koul spread in the village, the villagers poured in large numbers to mourn the death and express solidarity with the children.

Click here to watch video

Nancy Koul, 50, was employed in Jammu and Kashmir Bank early this year after the death of her husband as she had no source of income. Her husband Mahraj Krishan Koul was running a tea shop in Qazigund to earn the livelihood but his death snatched the livelihood from the family. However, a local leader got Nancy employed in Jammu and Kashmir Bank as peon.

Nancy has now left behind four children with no livelihood. The eldest daughter is SarojKoul, who is 17 years old and was helping the family. Her second daughter MeenakshiKoulis in 10th Standard, son SagarKoul in 9th standard and the youngest one, SonuKoul is in LKG.

Nancy Koul and her husband were married in 1990 when Pandits left the Valley. The village had 35 families and all migrated but Koul’s decided to stay back. However, Muslims helped them and gave them full support and protection in all these years.

Over 3,000 people, mostly Muslims joined the last rites of Nancy. The women of the village were wailing and consoling the children of Nancy who were weeping bitterly over the death of their mother.

Pandit Sunil Raina thanked the Muslims for helping them in the cremation of Nancy. He said that Muslims of the village have always helped the family and hoped that they will help the children, who have been orphaned.

Ateeqa Begum, an elderly neighour of Koul’s said that they will take care of the children. “Even if I have to beg from people, beg outside Mosques or from the people, I will take care of these children. These are our own children and we will take their care as we do care for our children”, she said.

Ateeqa said that they will not allow them to leave the village as it is the responsibility of the Muslims of the village to look after them. “We have decided that village will adopt these children and will not allow any body to take them away from the village”, she said.

dailyexcelsior.com/muslim-village-adopts-orphaned-pandit-children/

---------

 

Triple Talaq: Penal Law In Sync With Past Ones On Social Evils

Dhananjay Mahapatra | TNN | Updated: Dec 29, 2017

NEW DELHI: The Centre's bill to make instant triple Talaq a criminal offence may have attracted criticism that marriage is a civil contract and breaches therein should not invite penal consequences, but the legislation appears in sync with the Supreme Court's August 22 ruling declaring instant oral Talaq to be "manifestly arbitrary".

Some political parties have said triple Talaq is a religious issue and should be left to the community to decide while others maintained that a ban on it would hurt the fundamental rights of Muslims to manage their own affairs.

There are still others who believe the bill is flawed. If the bill is faulty, Parliament can cure the defects through debate. But to say that the legislation is antithetical to the rights provided for minorities under Article 25 is to argue that the five-judge Constitution bench had got its basics wrong in declaring triple Talaq unconstitutional.

The SC had said: "Triple Talaq is only a form of Talaq which is permissible in law, but at the same time, stated to be sinful by the very Hanafi school which tolerates it... Triple Talaq forms no part of Article 25 (which guarantees right to profess a religion of choice). Merely because the practice has continued for long, that by itself cannot make it valid if it has been expressly declared to be impermissible. After introduction of Shariat Act, 1937, no practice against the tenets of Quran is permissible. What is held to be bad in the Holy Quran cannot be good in Shariat and, in that sense, what is bad in theology is bad in law as well." So, the argument of political parties that triple Talaq was a religious issue was rejected by the SC.

Triple Talaq was held to be violative of Article 14, with the SC saying it was "manifestly arbitrary in the sense that the marital tie can be broken capriciously and whimsically by a Muslim man without any attempt at reconciliation so as to save it".

The bid to punish those who may wish to take recourse to triple Talaq even after the SC order has parallels too. To eradicate the evil of dowry, Parliament enacted the Dowry Prohibition Act in 1961 and later, went on to add Section 498A in the Indian Penal Code, which jails a husband and his relatives on a mere complaint from a woman about cruelty. Cruelty in a matrimonial home could be without physical assault, as the SC ruled in several cases making verbal abuse and mental torture part of cruelty.

Threatening to irrevocably nullify a marriage using triple Talaq in an instant can be humiliating and demeaning to Muslim women and amounts to the worst form of cruelty in a marital home, fit enough to attract 498A. Since triple Talaq has been declared unlawful, Muslim women can also complain under Section 498A against husbands if the bill fails to become law because of opposition by political parties.

To eradicate social evils, Parliament has taken steps from time to time and prescribed penal consequences. Untouchability was abolished by the Constitution when it came into force in 1950. Yet, the practice continued, forcing Parliament to enact the Untouchability (Offences) Act in 1955, renamed as Protection of Civil Rights Act in 1976. It punished those practising untouchability, directly or indirectly, with imprisonment of six months.

This tells us that even if the SC declared triple Talaq unconstitutional, the practice will continue in the absence of penal consequences.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/triple-Talaq-penal-law-in-sync-with-past-ones-on-social-evils/articleshow/62288394.cms

---------

 

LS passes triple Talaq bill, Govt calls it historic

Posted on 29/12/2017

The Lok Sabha today passed the hugely contentious bill that criminalises instant triple Talaq and makes it punishable by up to three years imprisonment for the husband, a development hailed by the Government as “historic” but disapproved of by a section of the opposition.

The Lok Sabha passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill by voice vote after rejecting a string of amendments moved by opposition members.

The Congress said it supported the bill but wanted it to be scrutinised by the Standing Committee of Parliament, a demand that was rejected by the chair. The RJD and Samajwadi Party also backed the demand of referring the bill to the Standing Committee.

The bill will now be sent to the Rajya Sabha for passage before it is forwarded to the President for signing it into law.

Given the Congress’ stated support, the bill is likely to be passed by the Rajya Sabha, where the Government lacks majority. However, the main opposition party may again insist on referring the legislation to the Standing Committee.

The Supreme Court had outlawed instant triple Talaq in August and asked the Government to frame a law within six months. Ending the controversial divorce practice was also the BJP’s electoral promise.

Acting swiftly, the BJP-led Government not only introduced the bill today but also got it passed by the Lok Sabha by evening despite its consideration and passage not being part on the agenda.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who introduced the bill as part of the listed business, had requested her to allow it to be considered and passed today itself, and the request was granted.

“We are going to create history. Today is the day to create history,” Prasad said while introducing the bill.

He insisted the Government did not intend to politicise the issue and the legislation was brought after taking a humanitarian view of it.

“This is not about siyasat (politics) but about insaniyat (humanity),” Prasad said.

“If it is a crime to bring a bill in the favour of Muslims then we will commit this crime 10 times,” he asserted.

Under the proposed law, instant triple Talaq in any form –spoken, in writing or by electronic means such as email, SMS and WhatsApp — would be illegal and void.

The proposed law would be applicable to the entire country except in Jammu and Kashmir. It would make instant Talaq punishable by a jail term of upto three years and a fine, and would be a cognisable, non-bailable offence.

Members from RJD, AIMIM, BJD, AIADMK and All India Muslim League opposed the bill, saing it is arbitrary in nature and a faulty proposal.

E T Mohammed Basheer of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and AsaduddinOwaisi of the AIMIM alleged that through the bill the Government was trying to bring in a Uniform Civil Code.

Owaisi said Parliament lacks the legislative competence to pass the law as it violated fundamental rights.

Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Owaisi said that while the bill talks only about Muslim women being abandoned, the Government should also worry about nearly 20 lakh women of various religions who are abandoned by their husbands, “including our bhabhi from Gujarat.”

Owaisi said through the law the Government was trying to demonise Muslim men and claimed “vested interests” were behind the legislation.

“The Minister is a normal lawyer but a pathetic and a failed draftsmen,” he said about Prasad.

B Mahtab (BJD) said while he would not talk about the merits of the bill, its framing was “faulty and “flawed”. He said if the proposed law makes the practice of instant triple Talaq illegal and void, how can a person be jailed for pronouncing ‘Talaq-e-biddat’.

Seeking to allay their concerns Prasad said it is wrong link instant triple Talaq, the divorce practice which the Supreme Court struck down as illegal, with the Uniform Civil Code.

“Some are trying to spread fear that the bill is being brought to put Muslims behind the bars,” Prasad said.

Prasad cited instances of KarimulHaque, a tea labourer in Assam, who was awarded Padma Shree for ferrying patients on his “bike ambulance”, and Imran Khan, a Sanskrit teacher from Alwar in Rajasthan who was lauded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for making mobile applications for students.

Not pacified, members of the BJD, AIMIM, Indian Union Muslim League staged a walk out.

Although Congress supported the bill, senior leader Salman Khurshid, a former Law Minister, said the proposed law is an intrusion into the personal lives of individuals, and would bring the civil issue of divorce into the realm of criminal law.

The Congress did not push for a division in the Lok Sabha on amendments moved by its MPs, nor did the party support any amendment sought by other opposition lawmakers.

Divorce and marriage comes under the concurrent list and both Parliament and state legislatures can enact laws on the subject.

In his speech, Prasad said despite the Supreme Court declaring instant triple Talaq illegal, it was continuing.

He claimed that as recently as today, a woman in Rampur was given instant triple Talaq by her husband for getting up late.

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today called for passage of the bill making instant triple Talaq a punishable offence by consensus, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said.

Briefing reporters after the weekly BJP Parliamentary Party meeting, he said Modi wants the ‘Muslim women Protection of Rights on Marriage’ Bill, which seeks to provide gender justice, respect and security to Muslim women, to be passed by consensus. (PTI)

dailyexcelsior.com/ls-passes-triple-Talaq-bill-govt-calls-it-historic/

---------

 

Uttar Pradesh's lone Muslim minister slams triple Talaq supporters, says AIMPLB wants to fulfill vested interests

29 Dec, 2017 15:16:08 IST

Lucknow: A lone Muslim minister in Uttar Pradesh on Friday slammed those supporting triple Talaq, arguing that if uttering the word 'nikaah' (wedding) thrice does not solemnise a marriage, how can uttering the word 'Talaq' thrice result in divorce.

"My simple question is if saying Talaq-Talaq-Talaq results in divorce, then saying nikaah-nikaah-nikaah should mean that wedding has been solemnised," Waqf and Haj minister Mohsin Raza said a day after the Lok Sabha passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill by voice vote.

He said going by the same logic, saying namaz-namaz-namaz should mean that prayers have been offered.

"Nowhere is it written that saying Talaq thrice will result in divorce. Do you think that by saying roza-roza-roza, my roza will be complete? Roza is a process, which has to be completed. Haj is a process, which has to be undertaken. Just saying Haj-Haj-Haj will not suffice. Similarly, Talaq is a process," he told PTI in an interview.

Condemning the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, he said the AIMPLB has made a mockery of things and wants to fulfill its vested interests.

He said the AIMPLB can come up with the logic that you need not go to mosque and say namaz-namaz-namaz. "The AIMPLB should first learn the basic lesson of Sharia," he said.

Mounting attack on Opposition parties for opposing the bill, he said, "Opposition should first say on what basis the AIMPLB should have been made a stakeholder while finalising the draft of the bill. The board is simply an NGO. There are many organisations working for social welfare and the AIMPLB is one of them."

Raza also said the AIMPLB is neither 'Shariat' nor the Constitution of India.

"As far as the Opposition parties are concerned, they are always eager to take undue advantage of casteist and communal sentiments. They point fingers at us and accuse the BJP of being a communal party. In fact, the remote control of AIMPLB is in the hands of the Opposition parties, who have been baffled (by the Talaq bill)," the Uttar Pradesh minister said.

More than the AIMPLB, it is the Opposition parties who are baffled by the anti-triple Talaq bill, as they seek the votes of the particular community, and hence they are talking like this, he alleged.

"Please try to think as to why the BJP or Prime Minister Narendra Modi had to take an initiative and draft a law in this regard at the first place. What was the need to do so? You call Modi as anti-Muslim. If the AIMPLB is a great well-wisher and thinks for the well being of the Muslim community, then it should list the welfare work done for the Muslims since its inception.

"In fact, the AIMPLB in the garb of welfare, talks about exploitation even today. Triple Talaq is nothing but exploitation of hapless women," Raza explained.

On whether the provisions of the bill were tantamout to infringement on rights of Muslim men, he said, "The rights of women had been grossly violated. Unlike the AIMPLB, the BJP is of the view of 'SabkaSaath, SabkaVikas' and we stand for strengthening Muslim women.

"Muslim women have been dominated for ages by Muslim men. If the AIMPLB was so much concerned for the Muslim society, then why in the 1985 Shah Bano case, when the Supreme Court pronounced a judgement, they (AIMPLB) pressured the then Rajiv Gandhi government and the judgement was ultimately reversed.

This resulted in Muslim women facing hardships since 1980s, and the AIMPLB and Congress are responsible for it," he said.

After the Supreme Court gave its judgement, there was political interference, Raza said, adding that it was aimed at deriving political mileage.

"At that time you (AIMPLB) conveniently forgot Shariat," he added.

Hours after the Lok Sabha passed the bill, the AIMPLB voiced serious reservations over its provisions and said it will take steps through democratic means to "amend, improve or scrap" the bill.

"We will take whatever steps required through democratic means to amend, improve or scrap it. There is no move to go to court as of now... The bill was brought in a haste," AIMPLB spokesperson Maulana Khalil-ur-RehmanSajjadNomani told PTI.

He said the board should have been taken into confidence on the issue.

However, AIMPLB member ZafaryabJilani hinted that the board may approach the Supreme Court against the triple Talaq bill once it is passed by the Parliament.

The AIMPLB wanted that the triple Talaq bill should not be in conflict with either the Constitution, Supreme Court order or Muslim personal law board, he said.

The president of the All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB), Shaista Amber welcomed the tabling of the bill but insisted that it should be in the light of the Quran and the Constitution to make it acceptable to the community.

"We welcome the tabling of the bill and this has given lots of hope to the women as triple Talaq is an evil which has been haunting them," she said.

The Shia Waqf Board, on the other hand, called for making the punishment to those indulging in 'triple Talaq' more stringent.

"I have urged the prime minister through a letter seeking a 10-year jail term to those indulging in triple Talaq and lodging a criminal case against them," Shia Waqf Board chief Wasim Rizvi said.

firstpost.com/india/uttar-pradeshs-lone-muslim-minister-slams-triple-Talaq-supporters-says-aimplb-wants-to-fulfill-vested-interests-4280385.html

---------

 

'Comprehensive security check': Pakistan defends harassment of KulbhushanJadhav's kin

TIMESOFINDIA.COM | Updated: Dec 29, 2017

NEW DELHI: Pakistan on Thursday dismissed external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj's charge that it tried to intimidate jailed Indian national KulbhushanJadhav's family, instead calling their harassment a "comprehensive security check."

In fact, it was at pains to stress that it had permitted the December 25 meeting between Jadhav and his family as a "humanitarian gesture," repeating its claim that he was a "convicted Indian terrorist and spy."

Jadhav's mother and wife were forced to remove their mangalsutra, the bindis on their foreheads and their bangles, when they reached Pakistan's ministry of foreign affairs for the meeting. However, Pakistan claimed that this procedure was "agreed between both countries, in advance."

"The visitors were treated with respect and dignity. The change of clothes and removal of jewelry/ornaments etc was purely for security reasons. The visitors changed into their own clothes after the meeting. All their belongings were returned to them before they left. The wife's shoes were retained as they did not clear the security check. A metal chip has been found in one of the shoes, which is being analyzed," read a statement from the country's foreign minister Khawaja Asif.

Jadhav's wife's footwear was later sent for a forensic examination, and the authorities were trying to ascertain whether the "metallic object" in the shoes was a camera or a recording chip, Pakistan Today quoted Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Mohammad Faisal as saying.

Asif's statement laid the blame squarely on the shoulders of the "frenzied Indian media," accusing it of "distortion of facts."

Pak foreign ministry ‘thanks’ journos for heckling Jadhav’s wife and mother?

Earlier on Thursday, Swaraj addressed Parliament about the meeting between Jadhav and his mother and wife, detailing the humiliating treatment meted out to the duo.

"Pakistan made KulbhushanJadhav's wife and mother appear as widows to him, by forcing them to take off their mangalsutra, bindi and bangles," she said.

In her speech, the minister rebuffed Pakistan's claim that it confiscated the footwear of Chetnakul, Jadhav's wife, as "there was something in it."

"She went on two international flights wearing that footwear, none of them found a recorder or a camera like Pakistan is alleging at different times. How is it possible that airlines' extensive safety checks didn't find these things?" she asked, calling the incident an "absurdity beyond measure."

Swaraj added that Pakistan's actions were deliberate and meant to intimidate the mother and wife.

She also informed the Rajya Sabha that Pakistan forced Jadhav's mother Avanti to take off her "suhaagkinishani", or "symbols of marriage".

"I begged them saying I've never taken off mangalsutra ever, but they said I have to," she told Swaraj, the latter recalled.

"The first thing Kulbhushan said to me, when I went in to meet him is 'How is baba', because he thought something had happened when he saw me without mangalsutra, bindi and bangles," Avanti said.

Jadhav, a 47-year-old retired Indian Navy officer, was arrested by Pakistani counter-terrorism officials in March 2016, after being suspected of involvement in subversive activities in Balochistan and Karachi. A military court in April 2017 found him guilty of "espionage and sabotage" and sentenced him to death.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/comprehensive-security-check-pakistan-defends-harassment-of-kulbhushan-jadhavs-kin/articleshow/62290191.cms

--------

Europe

Georgian Muslim clerics: No ties between terrorism and religion

'Violence, cruelty and torture have nothing to do with Islam. Islam is a religion of peace and kindness. We urge all citizens of Georgia, regardless of their nationality and religion, to protect peace and stability in the country and to unite against violence,” said the religious leaders of Georgian Muslims in a recent statement.

In the statement, it was also noted that the Muslims of Georgia have lived in peace with other confessions for centuries and have contributed to the country’s development, according to the Azeri news agency APA.

The statement came after five suspected terrorists were arrested during an operation in the Chechen-populated Pankisi Gorge.

Georgia, a country in Caucasus, is home to 433,000 Muslims that comprise 9.9 percent of the total population of the country.

irna.ir/en/News/82779069

---------

 

Britain Resumes Financial Support for Terrorists in Syria

Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:37

Aleppo “Free” police chief, Brigadier AdibShalaf, was quoted as saying by Syria's al-Watan newspaper that Britain has resumed its financial aid "but not through official channels".

The British Foreign Office said earlier this month that it had stopped financing the Justice and Community Security project known as Ajax, which provides support for the Syrian Free Police, which is deployed in a number of Syrian areas.

The British decision came against the backdrop of information published by the British network “BBC” which accused the free police to deal with the militant factions, in addition to accusing it of human rights violations, and financial corruption.

“The Free police have been getting support from Adam Smith International since early 2014, and Britain is not the only one to support,” Schlaff said. “There are other countries supporting the project, the United States, the Netherlands, Canada, Germany and Denmark.”

The Free Police in Idlib, Aleppo, Western and Southern Aleppo, and the northern suburbs of Aleppo have 3,300 police and officers, most of them dissident police who have been trained in Turkey and cooperate with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) terrorist group.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961007001056

---------

 

Muslim student beaten up after wishing someone ‘Merry Christmas’

Richard Hartley-Parkinson for Metro.co.ukFriday 29 Dec 2017 7:46 am

IhsanAbualrob, 27, who is originally from Palestine, said he was left ‘in pain and humiliated’ after being kicked in the head and body by three men while he was on the ground.

He said that he and his friends were asked ‘are you suicide bombers?’ before the attack.

He was attacked at 8.40pm on Christmas Eve near the Happy Wanderer pub in the Framwellgate Moor area.

Mr Abualrob said: ‘At one point I lost consciousness. I was helpless and thought this was the end of it. It was so scary and frightening.

I felt not only in pain but humiliated. I come from Palestine, which is a very conflicted country, and I came here with the hope of having a peaceful life not having to live in fear.

‘It’s my first Christmas ever outside of my country and that is my Christmas treat? They did this for nothing, but for me being a Muslim in this country.

‘Christmas should be a time of love and hope, not violence.’

Mr Abualrob is studying a masters in politics and international relations at Durham University, as part of the UK Government’s Chevening Scholarship, aimed at developing global leaders.

He said: ‘I have bruises on my face, my knee is badly injured and above all, I have a bad concussion. I am dizzy and with a terrible headache and have blurred vision.

‘My heart is broken and I am emotionally overwhelmed. I wished them a merry Christmas and they instead of doing the same attacked me.’

Mr Abualrob said he and a friend had gone to the pub to play pool, but found the table covered.

He added: ‘We don’t drink and were sitting there chatting when out of the blue a British guy approached us, pulled up a chair uninvited and asked where we were from.

‘My friends said from Egypt and myself from Palestine. He said: “Egypt, Palestine. You Muslims. Are you suicide bombers?”.’

Mr Abualrob said when he and his friend left, three men were waiting outside the bar for them.

He continued: ‘They started insulting my religion. I said “Merry Christmas, enjoy your holiday” and didn’t say any more.

‘We started crossing the street and they followed us. One of them threw an empty glass towards us. Then one of them lunged at me and punched me on my left check and I fell to the ground.

metro.co.uk/2017/12/29/muslim-student-beaten-wishing-someone-merry-christmas-7189976/

---------

 

Croydon's Muslim community helping Grenfell victims this winter

Croydon's Muslim community has been doing all it can to help victims of the Grenfell this winter.

A lack of warm clothes left the victims, who lost everything in the fire, freezing.

This week, members from the Al-Khair Foundation donated care packages to 30 of the worst affected families who are still living in hotels and were facing a cold new year without the aid.

The UK programmes’ officer at Al-Khair, FlorentCaillibotte, said there was still a need to help the victims as much as possible.

 “There were a lot of donations in the summer after the tragedy but none for the winter," she said.

"We have been working with the donations centre since the fire. There is still a real need for aid.

Not everyone has been rehoused and there has been less and less support for them in terms of donations."

The packages were delivered to the donations centre which was set up immediately after the fire, something that has been a lifeline for families who lost loved ones and homes for over six months. Of the 250 families dispersed when the tower block became a deadly inferno, only 49 have been found permanent homes.

HananMiezou is the manager of the donations centre and said the donations would be a rare bright spot for the victims who have lost so much.

"They are not in the frame of mind to go out shopping," she said.

"It is a difficult time of year for them because people are spending it in their homes with their families and these people have no homes and in some cases have no family.

"They are still going through huge hardship and need continued support.”

yourlocalguardian.co.uk/news/croydonnews/15798260.Croydon__39_s_Muslim_community_helping_Grenfell_victims_this_winter/

---------

Arab World

After Mosul: The one-legged teen still dreaming of dying for the Islamic State

Friday 29 December 2017 09:00 UTC

Ahmed is 16. He has the provocative smile and attitude of a teenager who is not afraid to say what he thinks, even if what he thinks is that he would like to die in the name of Allah.

Until May, Ahmed, not his real name, lived in western Mosul but he was not a civilian in search of escape.

Ahmed lost his right leg three years ago, he said, in a coalition air strike on the Islamic State (IS) training camp where he and other child recruits were taught to fight and die.

Despite his invalidity and his subsequent arrest and detention by Iraqi intelligence, Ahmed says his desire to carry out the mission for which he was trained remains undimmed.

"Martyrdom is the ultimate goal of Islamic State fighters, it is our desire, the desire of every fighter," said Ahmed, speaking to Middle East Eye in the presence of an Iraqi intelligence officer at a safe house in Qayyara, a town south of Mosul.

"It is a degree that no human on earth can reach unless he fights with ISIS [an alternative acronym for IS]. The desire of every soldier is martyrdom, and the highest rank of all fighters is the martyrdom mission."

Ahmed is one of many hundreds of minors arrested by Iraqi security forces since the beginning of the offensive to liberate Mosul.

Many of them are now in prison in Baghdad or Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan, but some remain in Qayyara where they are hidden in safe houses by Iraqi intelligence officers who interrogate them or use them as informers amid fears that IS sleeper cells are still present in Mosul and planning retribution.

“Many of these kids have active contacts with sleeping cells that are far from being destroyed. Indeed, they are active and will be more dangerous in the coming months,” Fasi, the intelligence officer, told MEE.

'The beginning of the war'

Ahmed’s father was a soldier in the Iraqi army who was killed three years ago by IS, Fasi said.

“Despite this, Ahmed, his older son, joined them. This guy is not just a source of information for us. We need to figure out what will happen in the future, and what the people of Mosul will have to face."

Ahmed represented the “deep roots” of IS, he added. “He reminds us that regaining Mosul is not the end, but only the beginning of the war.”

Fasi is still a young man, in his early 30s, but he has the tired eyes of someone used to working day and night.

When he came to escort us to the safe house to meet Ahmed, Fasi told MEE he had been awake for 30 hours already and had just orchestrated the arrest of the wife of an IS senior leader.

“A source told us that she was living in eastern Mosul with her five children. No one had managed to arrest her, but I did it. And be sure she will stay here for a long time. She is not innocent,” said Fasi.

Being an intelligence agent feels more like a mission than a job, he said.

Fasi was born in a village near Hawija, in Kirkuk governorate, an IS stronghold and one of the last areas of Iraq to be recaptured from the militants.

"IS did not start in 2014," Fasi said, slowly sipping his coffee as he recalled the influence that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the founder of al-Qaeda in Iraq who was killed in a US air strike in 2006, had exerted on his peers.

“In my village there were two possibilities: radicalising or choosing to save yourself. I chose books. I read and I studied,” he said.

"That's why I think the real war begins now. This is the reason why I decided to work on younger ones, and for this I decide how to hold them, how to interrogate them and where it is more useful for them to stay."

'They just cut off my leg'

When we arrived in Qayyara, Ahmed was sat on a couch watching an American movie, the crutch that he uses to walk leaning on a chair alongside him.

“Hundreds of kids were killed. They just cut off my leg,” he said recalling the coalition air strike three years ago that left him an amputee.

MEE cannot corroborate details of Ahmed’s story but the US-led air campaign has been blamed for many hundreds of deaths in Mosul.

The air strike came weeks after he had pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, IS’s self-styled caliph, at the age of just 13.

"Our families did not know anything, we decided to go without coercion, I decided with my dearest friends to join IS. We were the centre of the world, the capital of the caliphate, and we knew it then, as we know it now," said Ahmed.

When the training camp was hit, a high-ranking commander gathered the survivors, telling them it was time to target European countries in retaliation.

"They killed our children, we will kill theirs. We will arrive in their homes. We will destroy their lives," he told them, according to Ahmed, whose voice filled with anger, resentment and desire for revenge as he spoke.

Ahmed also spoke of his frustration that his disability had prevented him from undertaking a “martyrdom mission”, a suicide attack in one of the heavily armoured vehicle bombs that IS regularly deployed against advancing Iraqi forces .

"Martyrdom is the ultimate goal of Islamic State fighters, it is our desire, the desire of every fighter," he explained.

"It is a degree that no human on earth can reach unless he fights with ISIS. The desire of every soldier is martyrdom, and the highest rank of all fighters is the martyrdom mission.”

With only one leg, he said, he was repeatedly overlooked for sought-after car-bombing missions.

"To participate in a martyrdom mission you had to wait for your turn, and often there were hundreds of fighters in the queue. The desire of each martyr is to get a Hummer vehicle or a Silverado pick-up, an armoured one.

“Everyone wants bigger vehicles because they kill more people. And the more people the fighter kills, the more he will be rewarded."

Those who could not get a car bomb were tasked with blowing themselves up with suicide belts.

"Everyone wants to die. All the boys wanted to die," Ahmed said. "Three of my dearest friends are martyrs. One of them was the son of the pharmacist, a wealthy family. He was 15 and he wanted to be a martyr and he cried a lot when his commander told him to wait for his turn."

“One day the commander gave him a bag, a backpack with a detonator, he headed for a base of the Iraqi army. He killed nine infidels. And he was a good football player. He was very fast."

Foreign fighters were 'fiercest'

Ahmed said he has seen hundreds of foreign fighters, including many women in Mosul, from countries including France, Belgium, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan.

“The women were armed like men, they had their own weapons. Foreign men and women were the fiercest fighters. They came from all over the world to become martyrs."

One day his commander gave a public speech to hundreds of foreign fighters, urging them to return home and to persuade their friends and relatives to stay in Europe because Europe would be the next battlefield.

“We are enough here, stay in Europe and kill there. If you cannot find weapons, take knives and kill them in the crowded streets, use cars, burn their homes. Kill their children."

The speech reflected the words of Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, IS’s chief propagandist who had called for IS supporters to mount improvised attacks in Western countries.

Adnani wanted it, Ahmed said, "and we all had to do our best to kill as many people as possible".

Fasi listened silently to Ahmed's words, taking notes and shaking his head when Ahmed spoke of his desire to be a martyr.

At least half a million children in Iraq lived for three years under IS rule and many of them, like Ahmed, were educated and indoctrinated in the group’s murderous ideology.

As we drove away afterwards, he spoke loudly of what we had heard.

"He really wants to die, it is his deep desire, we must work on this desire of death. These guys do not want just to kill, they have a deep desire to die, and it is the most dangerous thing that IS has rooted in these little boys: they are ready for everything and every kind of violence is normalised for them.”

Zarqawi 'a hero'

But questions hang over the way in which former suspected IS fighters have been detained and the conditions in which they are being held.

When MEE asked Fasi what happens to detainees in prisons, where there is no distinction between minors and adults and where journalists cannot enter, he shook his head and would not answer.

"There are no real deradicalisation projects," he said when pressed.

This is one of the crucial post-war problems, the risk that the detention of hundreds of children trained and educated by IS could itself feed a further cycle of violence in the future.

"These boys cite Zarqawi as a hero, as an example to follow, deep inside of me I know these guys are victims, and maybe victims twice, because often they were forced by their own fathers, but I understand the feeling of revenge that animates the people of Mosul,” said Fasi.

Every day too there are new episodes of retaliation against families suspected of links to IS.

At least 170 families have been forcibly moved by Iraqi security forces into “rehabilitation” camps east of Mosul, which they cannot leave, Human Rights Watch reported in June.

"Iraqi authorities should not punish entire families because of the actions of their relatives," said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

"These abusive acts are war crimes and are sabotaging efforts to promote reconciliation in areas retaken from ISIS."

In Qayyara many houses associated with IS supporters have been burst down. Some citizens also compiled a list of 60 families who were threatened with death if they did not leave the village immediately.

The same thing happened in Hamam al-Alil, 30 kilometres south of Mosul, where the houses of relatives of IS fighters were vandalised and their relatives forced to leave.

The fate of many men who were rounded up in the last weeks of the battle for Mosul, when Iraqi generals considered anyone of fighting age still in the city to be a possible IS accomplice, remains unknown.

But in western Mosul, which was completely destroyed and where the smell of decaying bodies still hangs in the air, there is little sympathy among the soldiers who faced IS fighters in battle for those who are missing.

Some say they would like to kill all of them, regardless of their age.

"There is no chance for them, they were raised in the name of hatred and cannot change, so we should kill them," Ali, a young soldier in Badosh, told MEE.

Others simply pray that they will never again find themselves faced by a young boy with an explosive belt.

"When I saw a child blowing himself up in the frontline I vomited for a whole day thinking about my own son," said another soldier.

'We are not ready'

In Mosul, the challenge is to rebuild the city and to rehabilitate a civilian population traumatised by three years of violence even as the threat of further random attacks and sectarian tensions remains high.

"Defeating IS in Mosul does not mean that we have destroyed its roots or resolved the deep reasons that generated it,” said Fasi.

Fasi describes Ahmed as "a survivor" but when asked what his fate and that of others like him will be, he shook his head.

"Iraq is not ready to reintegrate these guys. We are not ready,” he said.

Ahmed, meanwhile, remained vengeful, unable to hide his lack of remorse or disdain for his captors.

“If you think the ideals of ISIS will end with the war, you're wrong,” he told us before we left.

It did not matter, he said, if IS lost Sirte, Mosul, Raqqa, or whichever capital of its fast-shrinking territory fell next, because the ideals of the caliphate would endure.

"They're just pieces of land," Ahmed said. "We can lose them any time. Getting rid of us is getting rid of the Quran: impossible. We are the people of the future, and even though this war is lost, we must continue for our Prophet, the message will continue until the end of the world.”

Today Ahmed no longer lives in Qayyara.

After weeks of questioning, Fasi decided he could not get any more information from him and so he sent him to the prison in Baghdad where most of those suspected of being close to IS are being held.

MEE asked him whether there were any projects there that might benefit the 16-year-old, challenge his views, and perhaps open up a future path to rehabilitation, but Fasi is sceptical.

"He was dangerous,” he replied. "Most likely he will not change.”

middleeasteye.net/news/after-mosul-one-legged-teen-still-dreaming-dying-islamic-state-524322303

---------

 

Senior cleric blasts Saudi Arabia for tragedy in Yemen

Tehran, Dec 29, IRNA – Tehran's interim Firday prayer leader strongly criticized Saudi Arabia's attack on Yemen that has caused a disastrous situation in the poor Arab country, urging Riyadh to stop killing people.

Referring to the recent reports by the International Red Cross (IRC) on the tragic situation in Yemen, Mohammad Ali MovahediKermani said, 'You (the Saudis) who dub yourself the 'Khadim al-HarameinSharifein' (custodian of two holy shrines) should be shameful and stop killing people.'

A military intervention in Yemen was launched in 2015 by Saudi Arabia, accompanied by a number of other Arab states. The bombings have claimed lives of thousands Yemeni civilians, including hundreds of children.

Human rights groups have frequently accused Saudi Arabia of violating basic rights of the people of Yemen, as the coalition has bombarded many civilian places, including schools and hospitals.

The Friday prayer leader also advised the US President Donald Trump to give up its dreams on Quds, adding that 'the previous officials of the US had spend 7 billion dollars in West Asia to give an undue blow to the humanity, Islam, Iran and those who are seeking freedom.'

However, they couldn't do what they aimed to, MovahediKermani said.

He described Trump as a 'foolish' person and said that he had better wake up and 'think twice on his decision on Quds; the holy city has an owner, who is the God.'

The controversial decision by Trump to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Quds was announced on December 6. It has prompted strong criticisms from all around the world.

A resolution in condemnation of the move was passed by 128 votes at the United Nations General Assembly.

The Palestinians see the holy city of Quds as the capital of their future country.

irna.ir/en/News/82779229

---------

 

UNICEF: Children Suffer at Shocking Scale in Conflicts

Thu Dec 28, 2017 4:50

UNICEF announced that rape, forced marriage, abduction and enslavement of children have become standard tactics in conflicts from Iraq, Syria and Yemen, to Nigeria, South Sudan and Myanmar, Al-Jazeera reported.

The agency accused rival parties in conflict areas of "blatantly" disregarding international laws designed to protect the most vulnerable.

In some contexts, children abducted by armed groups experience abuse once again upon release when they are held by security forces, UNICEF added in a statement on Thursday.

The agency warned that millions more children were paying an indirect price for conflicts, suffering from malnutrition, disease and trauma as basic services, including access to food, water, sanitation and health.

Justin Forsyth, UNICEF’s deputy director, said in recent years and even more so in 2017, children are deliberately targeted in conflict zones to make them part of the conflict.

"It had always happened in part, but it seems to be growing and growing," he stressed, adding that "Our appeal is, as UNICEF, to all fighting parties, whether they are governments or rebel groups, to make sure the children are protected."

In the Democratic Republic of Congo's Kasai region, violence has driven 850,000 children from their homes and an estimated 350,000 children have suffered from severe acute malnutrition.

In Yemen, nearly 1,000 days of fighting left at least 5,000 children dead or injured, according to verified data, the agency said, with more than 11 million children in need of humanitarian assistance.

In South Sudan, where conflict and a collapsing economy led to a famine declaration in parts of the country, more than 19,000 children have been recruited into armed forces and armed groups, the statement said. Over 2,300 children have been killed or injured since the conflict first erupted in December 2013.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961007001108

---------

 

From fighting 'Islamic State' to rotting in Iraqi jail

Foreign fighters against "Islamic State" have been subjected to heavy mistreatment in Iraqi Kurdish prisons. KarlosZurutuza and Ferran Barber spoke with western volunteers, and recounted months spent in jail.

On a blank sheet of paper, Marcos sketches the plan of the Kurdish prison where he spent 95 days in captivity.

"Just picture more than a hundred people inside a 65-square-meter [700 square foot] cell! We had to lie on our sides against each other to sleep, or even remain seated," the 47-year-old Spaniard told DW from his home in Rabanales, a village in northwestern Spain.

Marcos, whose codename was "Dr.Delil," was one of three Spaniards imprisoned last August in the Irbil General Security Directorate, a huge compound in the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan (KRG). He had served as a paramedic in the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS), a Yazidi armed group set up to protect this minority against radical Islamists, namely the "Islamic State" (IS) group.

When IS began its massacre of the Yazidi population in 2014, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) intervened in order to save the locals from the "Islamic State" militants.

But in the midst of the fight against IS last March, clashes broke out between the YBS and KRG peshmerga forces. YBS often coordinates with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a multi-ethnic coalition backed by Washington, but which Ankara accuses of having links to the PKK. The PKK is banned in Turkey and considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU.

Close ties between Ankara and the ruling party in Iraqi Kurdistan, the PDK, have apparently resulted in closer scrutiny of YBS and SDF fighters.

Enemy fighters share cell

"Whether you're Daesh or PKK doesn't make any difference to us." Marcos said his Kurdish captors in Irbil would frequently tell him, using the Arabic name for IS. Actually, the YBS volunteer claims, they shared their single-toilet cell with IS fighters during most of their stay. And it was a noisy one.

"The TV was on full time and at a brutal volume: verses of the Quran in the morning and Turkish music in the afternoon. I guess their main goal was to prevent us from sleeping," he recalled.

The three Spaniards were not told how long they would be held, nor were they put on trial. They spent most of their time inside the cell, except for 20 minutes each day when they would walk in circles in a courtyard that was covered with wire mesh. The routine sometimes changed, but only for the worse.

"They put me in an isolation cell after a visit from a delegation from the Spanish embassy. After two days in complete darkness, a group of five men came inside and gave me my first beating," recalled Marcos, adding that he and his cellmates could hear the cries of pain from those who were tortured, "even with the TV at full volume."

Marcos says the International Red Cross visited the prison more than once to inquire about the state of the detainees. "It was like playing cat and mouse. They would leave a handful of prisoners in the cells, and the rest were walked from one place to another, so they [the Red Cross workers] would never get to see us," he said.

Marcos was released on November 26, 60 days after Robin, one of the other two Spaniards, was freed. The third, a 21-year-old Andalusian code-named "Agir" was held even longer.

'Some tried to kill themselves'

"Conditions were so unbearable that some tried to commit suicide, either with strings they got from blankets or even with the yoghurt lids," which were made of metal, Agir told DW by phone.

He added that in some cells only PKK members were held. "We had no contact with most of the PKK guys, but we saw once how a few of them were handed to Turkish officials in uniform," he noted.

Agir said he was held for 111 days. A French national, known as "Jambo," had already been incarcerated for over 11 months by the time Agir left. Jambo's brother confirmed to DW by phone that the man is still in prison, but he refrained from disclosing any details for fear of reprisals by Iraqi Kurdish authorities.

Their accounts are similar to the testimony of other westerners detained in Iraqi Kurdistan, such as that of Robert Daw and Rae Lewis-Ayling, who were held for 40 days alongside the Spaniards. The two Britons were made to believe they were going to be executed before they were brought to a cell in the Irbil General Security Directorate.

Middle East

From fighting 'Islamic State' to rotting in Iraqi jail

Foreign fighters against "Islamic State" have been subjected to heavy mistreatment in Iraqi Kurdish prisons. KarlosZurutuza and Ferran Barber spoke with western volunteers, and recounted months spent in jail.

Marcos poses with a fellow fighter in ranks of the YBS in Sinjar

On a blank sheet of paper, Marcos sketches the plan of the Kurdish prison where he spent 95 days in captivity.

"Just picture more than a hundred people inside a 65-square-meter [700 square foot] cell! We had to lie on our sides against each other to sleep, or even remain seated," the 47-year-old Spaniard told DW from his home in Rabanales, a village in northwestern Spain.

Marcos, whose codename was "Dr.Delil," was one of three Spaniards imprisoned last August in the Irbil General Security Directorate, a huge compound in the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan (KRG). He had served as a paramedic in the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS), a Yazidi armed group set up to protect this minority against radical Islamists, namely the "Islamic State" (IS) group.

When IS began its massacre of the Yazidi population in 2014, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) intervened in order to save the locals from the "Islamic State" militants.

But in the midst of the fight against IS last March, clashes broke out between the YBS and KRG peshmerga forces. YBS often coordinates with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a multi-ethnic coalition backed by Washington, but which Ankara accuses of having links to the PKK. The PKK is banned in Turkey and considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU.

Close ties between Ankara and the ruling party in Iraqi Kurdistan, the PDK, have apparently resulted in closer scrutiny of YBS and SDF fighters.

Marcos attends to a patient in an examination room

Marcos said he ran a hospital in the Sinjar area of Iraq

Enemy fighters share cell

"Whether you're Daesh or PKK doesn't make any difference to us." Marcos said his Kurdish captors in Irbil would frequently tell him, using the Arabic name for IS. Actually, the YBS volunteer claims, they shared their single-toilet cell with IS fighters during most of their stay. And it was a noisy one.

"The TV was on full time and at a brutal volume: verses of the Quran in the morning and Turkish music in the afternoon. I guess their main goal was to prevent us from sleeping," he recalled.

The three Spaniards were not told how long they would be held, nor were they put on trial. They spent most of their time inside the cell, except for 20 minutes each day when they would walk in circles in a courtyard that was covered with wire mesh. The routine sometimes changed, but only for the worse.

"They put me in an isolation cell after a visit from a delegation from the Spanish embassy. After two days in complete darkness, a group of five men came inside and gave me my first beating," recalled Marcos, adding that he and his cellmates could hear the cries of pain from those who were tortured, "even with the TV at full volume."

New recruits of the Syrian Democratic Forces march during a graduation ceremony in Iraq in September 2017

New recruits of the Syrian Democratic Forces march during a graduation ceremony

Marcos says the International Red Cross visited the prison more than once to inquire about the state of the detainees. "It was like playing cat and mouse. They would leave a handful of prisoners in the cells, and the rest were walked from one place to another, so they [the Red Cross workers] would never get to see us," he said.

Marcos was released on November 26, 60 days after Robin, one of the other two Spaniards, was freed. The third, a 21-year-old Andalusian code-named "Agir" was held even longer.

'Some tried to kill themselves'

"Conditions were so unbearable that some tried to commit suicide, either with strings they got from blankets or even with the yoghurt lids," which were made of metal, Agir told DW by phone.

He added that in some cells only PKK members were held. "We had no contact with most of the PKK guys, but we saw once how a few of them were handed to Turkish officials in uniform," he noted.

Agir said he was held for 111 days. A French national, known as "Jambo," had already been incarcerated for over 11 months by the time Agir left. Jambo's brother confirmed to DW by phone that the man is still in prison, but he refrained from disclosing any details for fear of reprisals by Iraqi Kurdish authorities.

Their accounts are similar to the testimony of other westerners detained in Iraqi Kurdistan, such as that of Robert Daw and Rae Lewis-Ayling, who were held for 40 days alongside the Spaniards. The two Britons were made to believe they were going to be executed before they were brought to a cell in the Irbil General Security Directorate.

A member of the YPG during the Raqqa offensive in September 2017

This YPG fighter's patch reads: 'No life without our leader,' referring to PKK head Ocalan, who is imprisoned in Turkey

DW also spoke to Patrick Kasprik and John Locke, Americans who were part of the People's Protection Units (YPG) — a Kurdish milita and primary component of the Syrian Defense Forces — and who were held in the Irbil prison from November 29 to December 22, 2016. Both reported similar overcrowding and mistreatment.

"One of the Germans was put into a cell that was filled with suspected Daesh fighters. After that, he spent three days with his feet handcuffed to his legs, which were in shackles," Kasprik told DW.

"All the prisoners were mistreated," he said. "The guards would also hit migrant workers and even kids."

The International Committee of the Red Cross in Iraq confirmed to DW that foreign detainees are being held in Iraqi prisons, "including women and children," but said it's not possible to give accurate numbers. NGO officials said they are in contact with the relevant Iraqi authorities and embassies regarding a group of foreign women and children of some 20 nationalities.

SDF and PKK officials acknowledged to DW that fighters are being held in Iraqi Kurdish jails.

DabanShadala, the representative of the Regional Government of Kurdistan to Spain, made no comment on the alleged mistreatment of prisoners. He told DW that Kurdish and foreign fighters had been arrested because they had violated Iraqi Kurdistan visa regulations, crossed the border between Iraq and Syria "illegally" and had been involved in "military activities" in Syria.

dw.com/en/from-fighting-islamic-state-to-rotting-in-iraqi-jail/a-41958743

---------

 

Saudi military aircraft hit civilian areas in Yemen’s Sa’ada, kill 4

Fri Dec 29, 2017 10:29AM

Saudi military aircraft have pounded residential areas in Yemen’s northwestern province of Sa’ada, killing four civilians and injuring a number of others.

According to Yemen’s al-Masirah television network, Saudi warplanes targeted the Ghamar district of the Arab country's mountainous province of Sa’ada early on Friday.

One woman and a child were among those killed, the report added.

Saudi raids have been met with a strong response from Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah fighters and allied forces.

On Thursday, Yemeni armed forces targeted the positions of Saudi-backed mercenaries in the Arab country’s western coasts, killing or injuring around 50 militants and destroying their military vehicles.

Dozens of Saudi-sponsored militants were also captured during the retaliatory operation.

The latest Saudi airstrikes came only hours after a high-ranking UN official slammed the Saudi-led coalition for massacring more than a hundred civilians, including 54 at a crowded market and 14 members of one family in a farm, across Yemen in the past 10 days.

“These incidents prove the complete disregard for human life that all parties, including the Saudi-led coalition, continue to show in this absurd war,” Jamie McGoldrick, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said on Thursday.

Angered by McGoldrick’s remarks, the Riyadh-led coalition said in a statement carried by the Saudi news agency SPA that the UN official’s comments on civilian casualties were “biased” toward the Houthi movement and its allies.

The pan-Arab al-Mayadeen satellite TV also reported that Turki al-Maliki, the Saudi-led coalition’s spokesman, had on Friday rejected the remarks by McGoldrick, accusing the UN of taking sides with Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement.

McGoldrick’s statements indicate that he is politicizing his humanitarian duty and misleading the international public opinion, he claimed.

The Houthi movement has been defending Yemen against the Saudi aggression besides running the country’s affairs in Sana’a.

At least 13,600 people have been killed since the onset of Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against Yemen in 2015. Much of the Arabian Peninsula country’s infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and factories, has been reduced to rubble due to the war.

The Saudi-led war has also triggered a deadly cholera epidemic across Yemen.

According to the World Health Organization’s latest count, the cholera outbreak has killed 2,167 people since the end of April and is suspected to have infected 841,906.

presstv.com/Detail/2017/12/29/547162/Yemen-Saudi-Arabia-Saada-Houthi

---------

 

Terrorists Free Abducted Civilians in Eastern Damascus

Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:39

The Syrian Red Crescent Society in cooperation with the International Red Cross transferred 10 people, including 2 children, through al-Wafedin camp on Wednesday after an agreement was made with the terrorists in Eastern Ghouta to release them.

The Syrian army had earlier freed 6 other people.

Also, a number of patients in the Eastern Ghouta of Damascus were transferred to Damascus hospitals for treatment.

The terrorists in Eastern Damascus have abducted hundreds of civilians, most of them women and children, and use thousands of people as human shields against the army attacks and prevent them from leaving the region.

On Monday, the Syrian army troops launched a pre-emptive strike on the positions of Ahrar al-Sham and foiled their plan to storm the government forces' strongholds in Eastern Ghouta.

The army men engaged in fierce clashes with Ahrar al-Sham in a governmental building at the Vehicles Management Center near the town of Harasta and its outskirts, adding that the army attack was in time and foiled terrorists' plan to launch an offensive on government forces' positions.

The Ahrar sniper opened heavy fire at the Vehicles Management Center to pave the ground for attacking the center but their attempts were foiled by the army's pre-emptive move.

In the meantime, the army's missile and artillery units pounded heavily the battlefield, killing a number of militants near Harasta.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961007000868

---------

 

Lattakia: Al-Nusra Front's Grad Missiles Destroyed by Russian Air Defense System in Air

Thu Dec 28, 2017 5:15

The Arabic-language Moraseloun news website reported on Wednesday that the Russian forces stationed in Humeimim airbase intercepted the Grad missiles, using the Pantsirdefense shield. The missiles were fired against the villages near Jabalah region in Lattakia province.

The missiles were fired by the terrorists from Badama region in Southwestern Idlib and were destroyed over Jabalah airspace.

The Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria announced earlier this month that the country's forces deployed in Humeimim Airbase in Lattakia province will take part in military operations against the Al-Nusra Front in Idlib province.

"Our international partners are committed to root out the Al-Nusra terrorist organization, in the meantime, the Russia Air Force is committed to take part in the campaign against the Al-Nusra with its forces in Humeimim airbase," The Russian Center said.

The center said that Washington is insisting on regime change in Syria, adding, "The US officials' recent remarks over their intention to remain in Syria have increased our worries."

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961007000704

---------

 

Tens of Militants Surrender to Syrian Army in Aleppo, DeirEzzur

Thu Dec 28, 2017 4:54

The sources reported that 164 militants in Aleppo and the Eastern and Southern parts of DeirEzzur had handed over their arms to the army soldiers and were pardoned by the Damascus government.

The gunmen received amnesty and returned to normal life, the sources said. 

Local sources reported earlier this month that sum of 159 gunmen that laid down arms and endorsed peace with the Syrian Army received government amnesty in Hasaka province.

The sources said that a sum of 159 militants that handed over their weapons to the army men and signed the peace agreement with the government in Hasaka and its countryside received amnesty and returned to normal life within the framework of the nationwide reconciliation plan in Syria.  

Also, 114 gunmen that had surrendered to the army and applied for amnesty in the town of Qamishli received pardon from Damascus and returned to normal life.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961007000422

---------

 

Syrian Army to Open New Front towards Idlib

Thu Dec 28, 2017 3:26

The sources confirmed that the army has sent its forces and military equipment to the 5 regions of NabiYounes, Zahiyeh, Kanasba, al-Qasatal and Shalaf castle in Lattakia.

Meantime, a large number of Syrian army soldiers have been dispatched to Masif Salami in Jabal al-Akrad in Lattakia in the past few days.

The field sources said that the army wants to open the strategic front of Jisr al-Shaqour in Western Idlib which is one of the main fronts towards Idlib by sending reinforcements to the region.

Jisr al-Shaqour is one of the strategic regions in Idlib which links Northern Syria to the coastal regions, and the Turkistani terrorists are stationed in that region.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Syrian Army men drove the Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) out of more regions in Northeastern Hama in their push towards Abu al-Dhohour airbase in SoutheasternIdlib.

The army soldiers stormed Al-Nusra positions in Northeastern Hama and imposed control over Ra'as al-Ein hill Northeast of the village of Khneifes and the village of Qabibat Abu al-Hoda North of al-Khneifes.

Also, other units of the army hit Al-Nusra's positions in al-Mosheirefeh, Abu Dali regions, Tal (hill) Al-Moqata'a, Tal al-Tawil and Tal Awvad and imposed major losses on the terrorists.

In the meantime, the Syrian Air Force pounded terrorists' strongholds in the towns of Atshan, Abu Dali and al-Tamanna in Northern Hama, killing a number of Al-Nusra fighters and destroying their positions.

The army men are advancing towards Abu al-Dhohour airbase in SoutheasternIdlib from Eastern and Northeastern Hama and Southeastern Aleppo.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961007000403

---------

 

Al-Nusra Terrorists Given Last Ultimatum to Leave Southwestern Damascus

Thu Dec 28, 2017 4:49

The Arabic website of RT news agency reported that several buses have been sent by the army to the two villages of Mughur al-Mir and Beit Jin and Beit Jin farms in Southwestern Damascus to transfer the al-Nusra militants to Idlib and Dara'a provinces after a ceasefire agreement was made between the two sides.

Field sources said that the army has told the terrorists either to leave Idlib or the buses will leave the region empty without extending the ultimatum.

Meantime, a military source said that 300 terrorists are stationed in the villages of Beit Jin and Mughur al-Mir as well as Beit Jin farm, adding that Israel has also sent 270 terrorists to Beit Jin from Dara'a through Quneitra region in occupied Golan.

Media sources reported on Wednesday that the Syrian army has given a 72-hours-long ultimatum to the al-Nusra Front in Southwestern Damascus to leave the region or lay down arms and apply for government amnesty.

The Reuters quoted Ebrahim al-Jabawi, a commander of the Free Syrian Army, as saying that the government army has given only 72 hours to the terrorists near the borders with Israel to surrender to the government forces to be relocated to Idlib province, adding that those gunmen who do not intent to leave the region should lay down their arms and apply for amnesty.

Another source close to terrorist groups said that they have been told to surrender otherwise they will be faced the army's military operation.

The army has laid complete siege on terrorists' positions after capturing strategic hills and farms near Beit Jinn and Mughur al-Mir regions.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961007000519

---------

 

The Red Crescent completes the “sick and abductees” deal by evacuating the last batch of medical conditions and the abductees remained in prisons of Jaysh Al-Islam

29/12/2017

he Syrian Observatory for Human Rights published today morning that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights obtained information from reliable sources that it was supposed that the Red Crescent team would transport a child with “heart deformity” included in its list of medical cases, but when the medical team headed to inform his family to be prepared for transporting the child to receive treatment outside Al-Ghouta, it was shocked that the child died few weeks ago, as a result of dropping his health condition and the difficulty of being treated by the medical possibilities available in the Eastern Ghouta, and it is noteworthy that the SOHR counted, through its activists, and with the help of medical sources in the Eastern Ghouta of Damascus, more than 720 medical cases including tens of children and citizen women, who need immediate evacuation, the evacuation which is ignored every time by the vehicles of the Red Crescent and the UN delegations accompany the humanitarian aid that enters the Eastern Ghouta, and leave without paying any attention as if they accomplished their mission perfectly, which provoked the patients and their families, and the medical sources confirmed to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that the diseases are varied, in terms of their nature, level of progress, extent of distribution and the difficulty of being treated, as there are more than 500 patients have cancer, including more than 100 cases need immediate evacuation, due to the great drop of their conditions, also there are 59 cases, of who are believed to have cancer, are added to the 500 cases, in which the specialists of the center specialized in diagnosing and treating cancer in the Eastern Ghouta, failed to specify and diagnose their cases, due to the lack of necessary materials, and the stop of the laboratory for the same reasons, and there are more than 30 patients have the infecting tuberculosis, as well as the presence of about 25 cases of the kidney failure, and about 70 cases with varying diseases such as diabetes mellitus, immunodeficiency, thalassemia, and other diseases.

syriahr.com/en/?p=81647

--------

South Asia

Bangladesh targets 1,00,000 for first Rohingya repatriation

AFP | Updated: Dec 29, 2017

COX'S BAZAR: Bangladesh wants to send up to 1,00,000Rohingya back to Myanmar in the first batch of repatriations of Muslim refugees who fled ethnic violence this year, officials said on Friday.

Senior minister ObaidulQuader said a list of 1,00,000 names was to be sent to Myanmar authorities on Friday so repatriations could start in late January under an accord between the two governments.

More than 6,55,000 Rohingya from Myanmar's Rakhine state have sought refuge in Bangladesh since a military crackdown in late August, fleeing what the US and United Nations have described as ethnic cleansing.

That added to more than 3,00,000 in camps in Bangladesh after fleeing earlier violence in the Buddhist majority state.

The two governments signed an agreement in November allowing for repatriations from January 23. Many aid groups and diplomats doubt that fearful Rohingya will agree to return.

The Rohingya have been the target of past pogroms in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, which does not recognise the group as a genuine ethnicity and has stripped them of citizenship.

Quader said repatriations would start as soon as a working group of officials from the two countries finalise a list of names.

"Based on the decision of the joint working group, a first list of 1,00,000 Rohingya will be sent to the Myanmar government today for their safe and honourable return," Quader, road transport minister and deputy leader of the ruling Awami League, told reporters during a visit to Cox's Bazar where the refugee camps are.

"The next meeting of the working group, which will be held in Myanmar, will decide how the repatriation process begins," Quader added.

"This list will be finalised as early as possible. The repatriation process will begin after the list is finalised."

AbulKalam Azad, the government relief commissioner for Rohingya refugees, said a decision was made Thursday by Bangladeshi members of the repatriation working group to send a list of 1,00,000 refugees to Myanmar.

He told AFP repatriations would begin after Myanmar verifies the list and the authorities in Bangladesh get consent from willing refugees.

Most Rohingya refugees approached by AFP in the camps insist they do not want to return, saying Rakhine is not safe enough. Diplomats have expressed doubt about whether Myanmar will allow substantial numbers to return.

According to Azad, nearly one million Rohingya live in Bangladesh, many of whom have been there for decades. Myanmar has agreed to take back those refugees who arrived since October 2016, believed to number about 7,00,000.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/bangladesh-targets-100000-for-first-rohingya-repatriation/articleshow/62296845.cms

---------

 

8 militants killed as Afghan Air Force pound Taliban hideouts in Uruzgan

By Khaama Press - Fri Dec 29 2017, 10:37 am

At least eight Taliban insurgents were killed in a series of airstrikes carried out on the Taliban hideouts in southern Uruzgan province of Afghanistan.

According to the local officials, the airstrikes were carried in the vicinity of Tarinkot city, the provincial capital of Uruzgan during the ongoing counter-terrorism operations.

Uruzgan police chief Abdul Qari Omari confirmed that eight Taliban insurgents were killed in the airstrikes and five others were wounded.

He said the airstrikes were carried out by the Afghan Air Force and with the help of A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircrafts have proven helpful in providing close-air support during the ongoing operation.

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

Uruzgan is among the restive provinces in southern parts of the country where the Taliban insurgents and militants belonging to the other insurgent groups are actively operating in its various districts and often carry out insurgency activities, including coordinated attacks.

This comes as the Afghan security forces have stepped up counter-terrorism operations in various restive parts of the country as part of the counter-terrorism operations to suppress the militants who are continuously attempting their insurgency activities.

khaama.com/8-militants-killed-as-afghan-air-force-pound-taliban-hideouts-in-uruzgan-04145

---------

 

Kazakhstan sends humanitarian aid to Muslims of Rohingja and Caribbean countries

29 December 2017 14:48 (UTC+04:00)

Kazakhstan will send humanitarian aid worth $650,000 to Antigua and Barbuda and the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar in Bangladesh.

In accordance with the government's enactments, Kazakhstan will provide official humanitarian assistance in connection with the devastating hurricanes to Antigua and Barbuda in the amount of $50,000, as well as CARICOM (Caribbean Community) in the amount of $100,000, Kazakh media outlets reported.

Kazakhstan will also allocate $500,000 as official humanitarian aid to muslims of Myanmar's Rohingya in Bangladesh. For these purposes, the Ministry of Finance of Kazakhstan was instructed to allocate funds from the emergency reserve of the government to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

These funds were provided in the state budget of Kazakhstan for the liquidation of emergency situations of natural and man-made character in the territory of Kazakhstan and other states in 2017.

en.trend.az/casia/kazakhstan/2842302.html

---------

 

Suicide bombers stormed Shia cultural center in Kabul

29 December, 2017

KABUL: Suicide bombers stormed a Shia cultural center and news agency in the Afghan capital on Thursday, killing more than 40 people and wounding scores, many of them students attending a conference.

Islamic State said in an online statement that it was responsible for the attack, the latest in a series the movement has claimed on Shia targets in Kabul.

WaheedMajrooh, a spokesman for the ministry of public health, said 41 people, including four women and two children, had been killed and 84 wounded, most suffering from burns.

The attack occurred during a morning panel discussion on the anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Sunni-majority Afghanistan at the Tabian Social and Cultural Centre, witnesses said.

The floor of the center, at the basement level, was covered in blood as wailing survivors and relatives picked through the debris, while windows of the news agency, on the second floor, were all shattered.

Deputy Health Minister FedaPaikan said 35 bodies had been brought into the nearby Istiqlal hospital. Television pictures showed many of the injured suffered serious burns.

The bloodshed followed an attack on a private television station in Kabul last month, which was also claimed by the local affiliate of Islamic State.

Taliban spokesman ZabihullahMujahid issued a statement on Twitter denying involvement in the attack, which was condemned by both the Kabul government and Afghanistan’s international partners including NATO and the United Nations.

“I have little doubt that this attack deliberately targeted civilians,” said Toby Lanzer, acting head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

“Today in Kabul we have witnessed another truly despicable crime in a year already marked by unspeakable atrocities.”

Over the past two years, Islamic State in Khorasan, as the local group is known, has claimed a growing number of attacks on Shia targets in Afghanistan, where sectarian attacks were previously rare. The movement, which first appeared in eastern Afghanistan in 2015, has extended its reach steadily, although many security officials question its ability to conduct complex attacks and believe it has help from criminals or other militant groups.

Prior to Thursday’s attack, there had been at least 12 attacks on Shia targets since the start of 2016, in which almost 700 people were killed or wounded, according to United Nations figures. Before that, there had only been one major attack, in 2011. Backed by the heaviest US air strikes since the height of the international combat mission in Afghanistan, Afghan forces have forced the Taliban back in many areas and prevented any major urban center from falling into the hands of insurgents.

But high-profile attacks in the big cities have continued as militants have looked for other ways to make an impact and undermine confidence in security.

Pakistan strongly condemned the terrorist attack. “We express our heartfelt condolences with the families and friends of those who have lost their loved ones in these brutal terrorist attacks and pray for the speedy recovery of the wounded. We express our solidarity with the government and the people of Afghanistan,” the statement from Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated.

paktribune.com/news/Suicide-bombers-stormed-Shia-cultural-center-in-Kabul-280122.html

---------

Southeast Asia

Ire over PAS chief's remarks seen as implying non-Muslim Malaysians cannot be policymakers

Published 3 hours ago Updated 3 hours ago

KUALA LUMPUR - The chief of Malaysia's Islamist party Abdul HadiAwang has raised political heat after he appeared to have said that only Malay-Muslims can be Cabinet ministers, while Malaysians who are not Muslims cannot become policymakers.

The stance would be the complete opposite of what Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) stood for just four years ago when it campaigned in the 2013 general election with the slogan "PAS for All" and worked closely with non-Muslim leaders in several state governments.

After being attacked by politicians from both sides of the political divide, the party said that his words, as published in party organ HarakahDaily online, were twisted by the media.

Non-Muslim leaders say Datuk Seri Hadi's views are against the Constitution, with the roughly 38 per cent non-Muslim minority - in a country of 32 million people - guaranteed a voice in policymaking.

The issue could have a bearing on how non-Muslim voters view PAS as it has increasingly been making narrow interpretations of Islam since breaking up with a multiracial opposition alliance in 2015.

PAS is also widely seen as a close ally of ruling party Umno, so the issue could also undermine Umno.

But did Mr Hadi, 70, say those words?

The ultra-conservative cleric has been president of PAS for 15 years and often shares his views with his members through the party organ.

In his article in HarakahDaily on Dec 22, Mr Hadi, among other things, wrote: "Islam states that the nation's leader and his Cabinet members should be Muslim and from the most influential race.

"But, at the same time, Islam is just in giving rights to those who are not Muslims in politics, economics and other matters."

After discussing how Islam, in his view, would run the country with principles that are just and fair, he wrote: "In terms of politics, Islam firmly makes it mandatory for the main leadership that looks after policy and concepts to be Muslims, and accepts those who are not Muslims in terms of their expertise and management, not on matters of policy and concepts."

The comments raised immediate controversy.

In a statement on Thursday, the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism said his views are "dangerous, extreme and divisive".

"The Constitution does not impose any requirement of race or religion for the appointment of members of the executive branch of the government. Article 43(2) governs such appointments," the council said.

Retired federal judge Gopal Sri Ram said, as quoted by FreeMalaysiaToday news site: "Under our constitution, members of the Cabinet are equal and have collective responsibility, which includes policymaking."

Mr RaisHussin, strategist at opposition PartiPribumiBersatu Malaysia, said Mr Hadi was becoming "more right wing than Umno".

PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man and other party leaders said the comments were taken out of context.

Mr Tuan Ibrahim said the PAS chief was only saying that in the context of Malaysia, the majority Malay-Muslims must lead while those who are not Muslims "are accepted to rule together using their expertise and management skills".

straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/pas-chief-implies-malaysian-non-muslims-cannot-be-policymakers-generating-anger

-------

 

4 Convicted Muslims Get Additional Prison Time

By Zarni Mann 29 December 2017

MANDALAY – A district court in Mandalay sentenced four Muslim men to between seven and 15 more years in jail for their alleged links to the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), adding to related sentences they received last year.

The four, including well-known local artist U Zaw Min Htwe, were arrested in 2014, accused of working with the KIA to establish an Islamist fighting force.

In 2016, a court in Amarapura Township sentenced U Zaw Min Htwe, U Myint Thein and U A. Ra Mahn to 25 years in prison for incitement, high treason and having contact with an illegal association. At the time, U KhinMaungShwe was sentenced to 27 years in prison.

On Thursday, facing related charges under the Counter-Terrorism Law, U Zaw Min Htwe, U Myint Thein and U A. Ra Mahn were sentenced to an additional seven years in prison. U KhinMaungShwe was sentenced to another 15 years.

“We’ve told the court for years that we had no connection with the KIA and had no intention of forming such an army,” said U Zaw Min Htwe. “However, we’ve received several years in prison without concrete evidence of having relations with the KIA or trying of form an army.”

“We think that we were being accused like this because we are Muslims. We hope the president and the government will turn their faces to people like us who are being accused and excessively punished,” he added.

The families of the men said they would appeal the sentences and also ask State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to intervene.

U Zaw Min Htwe’s lawyer, U Thein ThanOo, said there was no evidence to prove the charges against his client.

“Although I have nothing to say about the sentences, I have to point out that there were too many charges against my client, who is only an artist. When he was arrested, no evidence or documents related to the accusations were found,” he said.

“We have to ask if there are two faces to the law depending on who the accused person is. The assassins of lawyer U Ko Ni were arrested with a gun and charged with a few laws while people like my client are charged with several acts,” the lawyer added.

U Ko Ni, a legal adviser to the NLD, was gunned down outside Yangon International Airport on Jan. 29. The gunman, Kyi Lin, was arrested after failing to escape. He and three alleged co-conspirators are on trial for murder.

irrawaddy.com/news/burma/4-convicted-muslims-get-additional-prison-time.html

---------

Mideast

Iranian Speaker's Advisor: US, Israel Hatching New Plots for Muslim Countries

Fri Dec 29, 2017 3:13

"Under the pretext of defending the Kurds, the Washington and Tel Aviv are after hatching their own insidious plots in Syria," Amir Abdollahian said on Thursday.

He said that the US military headquarters in Syria is an example of such plots.

In relevant remarks on Monday, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani blasted the US for its lack of seriousness in fighting terrorism, and said that Washington is merely wasting time.

"The Americans are not sincere in their campaign against terrorism, and Washington in only playing games," Larijani said.

The parliament speaker underlined that Iran condemns terrorism in all its forms, adding, "The US has created terrorist groups, including the ISIL, to destroy the resources of the Muslim countries and serve the Israeli regime's interests."

Larijani said the US attacked Afghanistan in 2001 under the pretext of fighting terrorism and the cultivation of opium, but the production of drugs has increased by more than 45 percent in the war-stricken country.

There are some 400 laboratories in Afghanistan, which are producing heroin, he said, criticizing NATO's inaction in this regard.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961008000305

---------

 

Israel strikes Gaza after rocket attack

AFPDecember 29, 2017

Israeli tanks and aircraft hit the Gaza Strip on Friday after rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave targeted a southern community, the army and Palestinian sources said.

Clashes also erupted in the West Bank as Palestinians marked another “day of rage” following US President Donald Trump's controversial December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

There were no immediate reports of casualties in the exchange of fire, the first in more than 10 days.

Palestinian militants fired three rockets at southern Israel, two of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defence system, the army said.

Police said the third rocket hit a structure in a community near Gaza, causing damage but no casualties.

“In response to the rockets fired towards Israel, IDF (Israel Defence Forces) tanks and IAF (Israel Air Force) aircraft targeted two posts belonging to the terrorist organisation Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip,” the army said in a statement.

Witnesses said Israeli tanks shelled a position controlled by Hamas in the east of Gaza city. A spokesman for the Hamas-run health ministry said nobody was injured by the Israeli fire.

Both Hamas and fellow militant group Islamic Jihad had labelled Friday a “day of rage”, as in previous weeks.

In the West Bank small groups of Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces, including north of Ramallah and in the Hebron area, where two were wounded by live fire, Palestinian medical and security sources said.

The Israeli army said there were “very small clashes” in a number of sites.

Militants in Gaza had fired more than a dozen rockets or mortar rounds at southern Israel in the latest wave of violence that erupted after Trump's decision.

Trump's announcement was followed by protests across the West Bank and on Gaza's border with Israel, with 12 Gazans killed in clashes with Israeli forces on the border or by Israeli strikes following rocket fire.

The rockets are often fired by fringe groups but Israel holds Hamas responsible for all attacks from the territory.

dawn.com/news/1379556/israel-strikes-gaza-after-rocket-attack

---------

 

Turkish Daily: Ankara Seeks to Occupy Large Areas of Syrian Territories

Thu Dec 28, 2017 5:24

The Turkish-language YeniSafak newspaper disclosed that the imminent military operations against Kurds in Northern Syria will not be limited to Afrin in Northern Aleppo and will extend to DeirBalout and Sam'an castle in the West to the towns of Zoufiyan, Davir and Fila in the East.

It added that 35,000 forces, including 20,000 army soldiers and 15,000 Ankara-affiliated militants, will participate in the operations.

According to the report, Russia is trying to persuade the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to deliver control of Afrin and Tal Rafat to the Syrian government with the aim of keeping Turkey away from the region but the Kurds are insisting on the battle against Turks.

The SDF announced earlier this week that its forces are well-prepared to face the Turkish army and its affiliated military groups after the Turkish forces threatened to attack the town of Afrin in Northwestern Aleppo, a media outlet reported.

Al-Sharq al-Awsat daily quoted Head of the Democratic Unity Joint Party Ayesha Hasou as saying that the entire residents in the town of Afrin are at the highest level of preparedness to defend their town against possible attack by the Turkish troops and their affiliated militants.

Hasou further told the paper that ever since the escalation of crisis in Syria, Afrin has been under siege in three directions and from the side of Turkey, has been under repeated air attacks and different threats.

"Afrin will be turned into Turkish invaders' graveyard similar to Kobani and Raqqa that became the graveyards of ISIL," she underlined.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961007000812

---------

North America

Texas imam criticised for lack of apology over anti-Semitic sermonAnti-Defamation League say Imam Raed Saleh Al-Rousan’s statement ‘indicates he doesn’t fully understand the ramifications’ of his speechBY JTA AND JEWISH NEWS REPORTER December 29, 2017, 12:52 pm 1  

Jewish groups have rejected an Imam’s statement in which he failed to explicitly apologise for an anti-Semitic sermon.

Imam Raed Saleh Al-Rousan of Houston’s Tajweed Institute earlier this month delivered what he called an “impassioned sermon,” according to a statement about the speech issued on Wednesday.

Al-Rousan had delivered his inflammatory speech on Dec. 8, two days after President Donald Trump announced the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

He said: “Judgment Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews. The Muslims will kill the Jews.”

The imam also asserted in his speech that Jews “killed the Prophets and the Messengers of Allah.” He accused Britain of bringing Jews to Palestine, adding “So do not tell me that Palestine is the country of the Jewish people. No!”

A video of the imam’s speech was first translated and distributed last week by the Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI.

MEMRIReports

Houston Imam Raed Saleh Al-Rousan: 'Good Tidings' – Muslims Will Kill Jews On Judgment Day; 'Do Not Tell Me That Palestine Is The Country Of The Jewish [People]'

8:54 PM - Dec 19, 2017

 36 36 Replies   88 88 Retweets   41 41 likes

Following calls to apologise by The Anti-Defamation League, the Imam responded by saying  “I unequivocally affirm and uphold the dignity, sanctity and value of all human life, including – of course – people of the Jewish faith,”

“I must also state in no uncertain terms that I am absolutely and completely opposed to and disgusted by all forms of terrorism, all terrorists, and I oppose anyone who would commit, call for, or threaten violence against civilians.  This is why as a person of faith and a religious leader, that I am mortified that an impassioned sermon I gave in light of President Trump’s Jerusalem declaration is being seen as a call for the very things I despise.”

However, the local Anti-Defamation League’s division rejected this response, saying the “statement released by Imam Al-Rousan indicates he doesn’t fully understand the ramifications of his sermon.”

“We would like to see Imam Al-Rousan unequivocally apologise to the Jewish community for his highly inflammatory sermon and through future actions, demonstrate he is committed to understanding why the sermon was an incitement to violence,”

“We are deeply troubled that a local Imam used the Jerusalem announcement as a pretext to scapegoat Jews and call for their deaths and Israel’s destruction. Calls to violence and appeals to anti-Semitism and hatred are completely unacceptable and have no place in any mosque or house of worship.  This is incitement to violence borne of hatred, the likes of which we have seen before from Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. We hope that our Muslim brothers and sisters will likewise publicly condemn the Imam’s hateful words.”

jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/texas-imam-criticised-lack-of-apology-over-anti-semitic-sermon/

 

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/azhar-university-professor-encourages-muslims-to-celebrate-the-spirit-of-christmas/d/113743

Loading..

Loading..