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Islamic World News ( 30 Oct 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Bangladesh Govt Bans 'Jihad' From Madrasa Texts












Photo: Muslims prepare for the final prayer of Biswha Ijtema, the second largest annual Islamic prayer gathering after Hajj, at Tongi near Dhaka on Jan. 1, 2015. (Photo by Stephan Uttom/ucanews.com)

 

Bangladesh govt bans 'jihad' from madrasa texts

Wahhabism ideology inspiring terrorism in region: Iraqi cmdr.

Hardline Hindu nationalists campaign against Taj Mahal

UK Government Plans to ‘Bribe’ Returning Islamic State Fighters with Houses and Jobs

 

South Asia

Bangladesh govt bans 'jihad' from madrasa texts

Buddhism and Islam in Asia: A Long and Complicated History

Kidnapped US professor is seriously ill: Afghan Taliban

Rohingya crisis will affect Bangladesh economy, says US Ambassador Bernicat

Kabul committed to reconciliation both with Taliban and Pakistan: Ghani

Islamabad demanded from US to cut India’s role in Afghanistan: Official

Clowns bring laughter to traumatized Rohingya children

15 Afghan policemen killed in separate Taliban attacks

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Arab World

Wahhabism ideology inspiring terrorism in region: Iraqi cmdr.

Iraq bans two major Kurdish TV channels over inciting hatred, violence

Egypt administrative court bans Islam Beheiry and re-runs of his show from satellite TV

Tens of Terrorists Killed in Syrian Army Advances in Deir Ezzur City

Infighting Intensifies among Terrorist Groups again in Eastern Damascus

Over 300 Terrorists Killed in Clashes between Two Rival Groups in Syria' Hama

Hundreds of ISIL Terrorists Escaping from Syria

Terrorists Escaping from Battlefields Amid Iraqi Forces' Rapid Advances toward Border with Syria

Egypt responds to Iranian remarks on Cairo’s ‘wrong’ regional policies

Kurdish parties opposed to Barzani report attacks on offices overnight

Saudi crown prince, French president discuss combating terrorism in phone call

Hashd al-Sha’abi continue to defend Iraq: PMU commander

Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terrorists hiding chemical weapons in Idlib: Report

Iraqi premier calls on Kurdish people to abide by law after outbreak of riot

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India

Hardline Hindu nationalists campaign against Taj Mahal

Scholars hail Saudi move to scrutinize Hadiths

Four Muslim Outfits Seek Political Say: ‘Why is Muslim missing from poll narrative of BJP, Cong?’

Will keep punishing you for support to terrorists, India tells Pakistan

India and Italy committed to fight unitedly against terror: PM Modi

Hyderabad to host national Muslim conference after 40 years

How Taliban Biriyani Hamsa radicalised Muslims in South India

Bell tolls in Srinagar’s oldest church after 5 decades

Congress hails Yogi Govt’s decision to introduce NCERT books in Madrasas

Is Salman Khurshid no more a Muslim after ‘Deoband’ expelled him from Islam?

Muslims seek ticket `sadbhavana'

NIA submits status report on Kerala conversions

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Europe

UK Government Plans to ‘Bribe’ Returning Islamic State Fighters with Houses and Jobs

Muslim lobby group Muslim Engagement and Development ‘promotes extremism’

Rape claims hit Islam scholar Tariq Ramadan in France

French Terror Killer’s Brother Says Devotion to Islam Drew him Away from Violence

What British Muslims think about the term ‘British values’

UK congratulates Turkey on its 94th Republic Day

British FM defends Balfour: ‘I am proud of Britain’s part in creating Israel’

UK ‘proud’ of Balfour declaration that led to creation of Israel

At French Terror Trial, Killer's Brother Denies Extremism

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Pakistan

No pressure to revoke blasphemy laws: religious affairs minister

Govt taking steps to ensure rights for minorities, promotion of inter-faith harmony: Sardar Muhammad Yousaf

Daesh, Al Qaida have no links with Islam: Imam-e-Kaaba

Senate suspends proceedings to express solidarity with Ahmed Noorani

Progress and stability of Pakistan

People prone to suicide need help not punishment, Senate debates

China may block Indian bid to blacklist Masood Azhar

Pakistan seeks new US deal after returning nine choppers

FC personnel martyred in blast in South Waziristan's Sarokai area

Call for revival of Sir Syed’s ideology

Mufti Qavi behind Qandeel’s murder, father alleges in court

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Southeast Asia

Newly banned Islamic books contain undesirable, harmful teachings: MCI

Japan offers Philippines aid for fighting terrorism, rebuilding

2 Muslim preachers banned from Singapore

Security Issues: Combating Islamic Radicalism In China

Malaysia, Interpol to conduct ops against entry of foreign terrorists

Govt won’t ban talks by Ismail Menk, Haslin Baharim

Indian authority may become party to Zakir Naik case in Malaysia

Jakarta closes hotel targeted by Muslim groups for alleged vice

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Mideast

Turkish police, intelligence foil large-scale bomb attack by Daesh

Five Palestinians killed in Israeli operation to blow up Gaza tunnel

Regional nations must solve their own problems: Iran‘s Rouhani

Mass trial of Turkey alleged coup ringleaders resumes

Iran's Air Force to Test Different Types of Weapons in Tuesday Drills

Top Iranian General: US Not Worthy of Talks

Spokesman Dismisses Saudi Claim of Iran's Interference in Peace Process in Yemen

Israeli and Palestinian ministers meet in Trump peace push

Arab coalition strikes Houthi training camps in Yemen, killing 40 militiamen

Turkish mayor resigns under ‘unbearable' pressure from Erdogan

Iran censures Israel’s bloody attack on lifeline tunnel in Gaza Strip

UN rights report reflects views of Iran’s enemies: Judiciary chief

Turkey’s Erdogan takes legal action after lawmaker calls him ‘fascist dictator’

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Africa

10 villagers killed in Cameroon in suspected Boko Haram attack

Nigeria mosque bombing leaves 5 dead, several injured

17 killed in airstrike in Libya's Darnah

Somalia sacks spy agency, police chiefs after blasts

Nigeria: Emir Sanusi Launches First Islamic Insurance in Nigeria

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North America

Report: bullying of Muslim students on the rise

Trump administration does not want limits on war authorization

Muslim community center of greater San Diego holds annual open mosque day

Pro-Erdogan Turkish Paper Warns Saudis Not to Cave in to ‘American Islam’

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/bangladesh-govt-bans--jihad--from-madrasa-texts/d/113083


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Bangladesh govt bans 'jihad' from madrasa texts

October 27, 2017

The Bangladesh government has ordered madrasas to remove chapters on jihad from textbooks as part of an anti-militancy strategy in the Muslim-majority country which has seen a rise in radicalism.

The move comes after the state-run National Committee on Militancy Resistance and Prevention (NCMRP) made the recommendation last month.

The changes to the texts should be made in time for the distribution of books by the Bangladesh Aliya Madrasa Education Board in January 2018.

Since 1979, the textbooks for secondary school students published by the board have included chapters on jihad.

In the texts, jihad is defined as a "struggle or fight against the enemies of Islam."

"The government has directed us to remove the chapters on Jihad to curb controversy regarding the madrasa education system," an unnamed board official told the Dhaka Tribune on Oct. 26.

The NCMRP noted that the chapters on jihad contributed to  "slow radicalization" of madrasa students and encouraged them to join jihadi groups at home and abroad to fight "enemies of Islam.”

Bangladesh has three types of madrasa education system — Alia, Qwomi and Hifz — offering Islamic education to millions of mostly rural, poor students. There are about  15,000 madrasas across the country, according to a 2011 study.

Theophil Norkek, secretary of Catholic Bishops’ Justice and Peace Commission welcomed the move.

"The government has taken a good decision and I guess it is intended to eradicate radicalism and to help students become moderate Muslims. The word 'jihad' is not bad itself but it has been widely misinterpreted to brainwash Muslims so they consider people of other faiths as enemies of Islam and do whatever needed to establish Islamic sharia-based society and state,” Nokrek told ucanews.com.

The Church official noted that removing jihad from textbooks was not enough on its own to curb militancy.

"You can remove jihad from textbooks, but you also need to ensure it’s gone from a person's heart. The government needs to initiate social programs to motivate Muslims to keep them away from so-called jihad," he added.

But one imam in Dhaka was angered by the move.

"Jihad is a word the comes from Allah, no one has the right to remove it. Jihad is a good word, which encourages Muslims to fight against terrorists and extremists, never against other religions," Mufti Ainul Islam, imam and preacher at Baitul Mamur Jamiah Mosque in Dhaka told ucanews.com.

"You cannot kill a person with cancer, at most you can remove the infected organ. You cannot curb radicalism unless you hold those people accountable who misinterpret Islam and jihad for their vested interests," he  added.   

Long known as moderate Muslim country, Bangladesh has seen a sharp rise in Islamic extremism since 2013.

Two banned militant outfits — Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB) and Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) — killed about 50 people including atheist bloggers, writers, liberal academics, LGBT activists, religious minorities and foreigners.

The JMB pledges allegiance to so-called Islamic State jihadist group, while the ABT is loosely liked to Al-Qaeda in India Subcontinent.

Initially, the ruling Awami League blamed opposition and Islamist political parties for supporting homegrown militants and repeatedly denied the presence of transnational terrorist groups.

However, following the deadly cafe siege in Dhaka’s diplomatic zone on July 1 last year, which saw five militants armed with assault rifles, bombs and knives massacre 20 mostly foreign guests, government launched a massive anti-militancy crackdown.

Since then, about 70 top and mid-level militants from both groups have been killed, while hundreds of alleged militants have been arrested and are facing trial.

https://www.ucanews.com/news/bangladesh-govt-bans-jihad-from-madrasa-texts/80639

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Wahhabism ideology inspiring terrorism in region: Iraqi cmdr.

Oct 28, 2017

A high-ranking commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Units says Daesh and other terrorist groups in the region are influenced by Wahhabism, Saudi Arabia’s official radical ideology.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of a conference on fighting Daesh, which is underway in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, Secretary General of Badr Organization Hadi al-Ameri said intellectual work was needed to confront and eliminate the extremist ideology that inspires terror groups like Daesh and al-Qaeda.

He said Daesh was ideologically a deviant thought and that the 2003 US invasion of Iraq contributed to the promotion of this ideology.

Saudi Arabia is widely accused of supporting and financing Daesh terrorists.

In March, Fox News cited a senior Iraqi intelligence officer as saying that around 30 percent of Daesh terrorists in Iraq were Saudi nationals.

Back in April, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi also said that “every Iraqi citizen has a right to believe that Saudi Arabia is a supporter of terrorism."

Daesh launched its campaign of death and destruction in Iraq in 2014, swiftly taking towns and cities in lightning operations as the US and its allies looked on despite having a military presence in the country after years of occupation.

Last week, Jean-Pierre Chevènement, who served as French defense and interior ministers between 1988 and 2000, was quoted as saying that the two Persian Gulf wars waged by the US "which destroyed Iraq created Daesh."

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/10/28/540185/Iraq-alAmeri-Daesh-terrorism-Wahhabism-Saudi-Arabia

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Hardline Hindu nationalists campaign against Taj Mahal

30 October 2017

Times are tough for India’s monument to love. Air pollution is turning its marble surface yellow. Restoration work is obscuring its famous minarets. Tens of millions of tourists still flock to Agra each year, but numbers are reportedly waning.

Critics of the Taj Mahal are also growing increasingly bold. In past months, religious nationalists in the Hindu-majority country have stepped up a campaign to push the four-century-old Mughal monument to the margins of Indian history. One legislator recently kicked up a national storm when he labelled the tomb “a blot”.

Resentment at the fact the country’s most recognisable monument was built by a Muslim emperor has always existed on the fringes of the Hindu right. But those fringes have never been so powerful.

Attacks on the monument, a lifeline for its home state of Uttar Pradesh, have grown so loud that last week the state chief minister – himself a critic of the Taj – was forced into “a day-long exercise in damage control”, one newspaper said.

Yogi Adityanath paid an elaborate official visit to Agra on Thursday to issue assurances that the Taj was a “unique gem” that his government was committed to protect.

“We should not delve deeper into the details of why, when and how the Taj Mahal was built,” Adityanath said. “What is important is that it was built by the blood and sweat of India’s farmers and labourers.”

At the heart of the controversy is a larger fight over India’s past and present. Hindu nationalists, among their ranks the prime minister, Narendra Modi, now wield unprecedented power across the country.

Many, including Modi, believe the hundreds of years in which north India was ruled by kings who practised Islam was a period of “slavery” no different from the British Raj.

“So they have a certain attitude towards any buildings that were built by Muslim rulers,” says Vishal Sharma, the secretary of the Agra Tourist Welfare Chamber.

Before he was appointed chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in February, Adityanath was best known for his fiery anti-Muslim rhetoric. He spent 11 days in jail in 2007 for inciting religious tension, once compared the film star Shah Rukh Khan to a terrorist, and has called for India to replicate Donald Trump’s Muslim travel ban.

Adityanath helped kick off the latest furore in June, when he said he was glad visiting dignitaries were no longer gifted a scale model of the monument, because it did not “reflect Indian culture”.

A tourism brochure recently published by his government omitted any mention of the Taj, but listed Hindu pilgrimage locations including the temple in eastern Uttar Pradesh where Adityanath serves as head priest.

Sangeet Som, a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata party prone to inflammatory outbursts, went even further this month, labelling the 17th-century monument a “blot” on Indian culture that had been “built by traitors”.

“Taj Mahal should have no place in Indian history,” he said, claiming Shah Jahan, the emperor who built the mausoleum for his deceased wife, had “wanted to wipe out Hindus”.

“If these people are part of our history, then it is very sad and we will change this history,” he added.

Fuelling the controversy are the writings of a fringe historian, PN Oak, whose works were dismissed for decades but are enjoying new prominence among Hindu hardliners.

Oak claimed that much of the world was once ruled by an ancient Hindu empire, that the English language is a dialect of Sanskrit, and that Westminster Abbey is, in reality, a temple to the deity Shiva.

The Taj too, he argued, was originally a Shiva temple built by the maharajah of Jaipur, and initially named the “Tejo Mahalaya”.

His theory has been cited by several BJP legislators this month to cast doubt on the provenance of the monument. A dozen students were arrested at the Taj last week for offering prayers to Shiva on its grounds.

Historians are frustrated by the debate. “It is absolutely wrong and absurd,” says R Nath, a leading historian on the architecture of the Mughal era.

The history of the Taj is among the best chronicled of any Indian monument, recorded in detail at the time by three court historians.

“We know exactly how the land was acquired, how the foundations were laid and how it was built,” he says. “There is not a single piece of evidence to support this theory that it was a Shiva temple.”

Another historian, Rana Safvi, has obtained a rare copy of the actual property deed Shah Jahan used to obtain the land for the monument. “The evidence is clear that it was the site of an eminent and pleasant haveli [mansion],” she says.

She sees the Taj as the victim of a political campaign to reframe Indian history as a fight between Hindus and Muslims. “There is a lot of difference between colonists such as the British and rulers like the Mughals, who lived in India, married in India, and died in India,” she says.

“Except for brief periods under [the Mughal emperor] Aurangzeb, we don’t see great periods of communal strife,” she says. “They were the exceptions, not the norm.”

It was hoped that Adityanath’s about-face on the monument and his official visit last Thursday would mark the end of this latest storm. But the day after, the history wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a leading Hindu nationalist umbrella group, publicly called for Muslims to be banned from praying at the Taj site.

Sharma, the Agra tourism chamber secretary, is watching the continuing controversy with concern. “Whenever there’s unrest, even just reports of unrest, it affects tourism. The Taj brings in lots of foreign currency and even the domestic tourism is quite a lot,” he says.

“If they had to pick a side,” he adds, “Agra people would choose the Taj Mahal over this government.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/30/hardline-hindu-nationalists-step-up-campaign-against-taj-mahal

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UK Government Plans to ‘Bribe’ Returning Islamic State Fighters with Houses and Jobs

30 Oct 2017

British jihadists suspected of fighting with Islamic State in Syria could be offered help finding jobs and privileged access to social housing, it has been reported.

A secretive government strategy, named Operation Constrain, could see extremists jump the queue for council houses, the Mail on Sunday reports.

According to official documents seen by the paper, as many as to 20,000 fanatics, previously investigated by the security services, could be offered the sweeteners to persuade them to reject violent radical Islam.

Khuram Butt, the ringleader of the van and knife attack at London Bridge, was part of the larger pool as a former “subject of interest” to the authorities.

On Saturday, terrorism expert Professor Anthony Glees, of Buckingham University, said: “You can’t bribe people not to be terrorists.”

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen added: “This sounds like a reward for being on a list of potential terrorists. You can’t buy people’s loyalty to this country.”

Former radical Islamists turned anti-extremist and gay rights campaigner Sohail Ahmed commented: “There are some people in this country who are still loyal to what Britain stands for and I don’t think they will be having any of this. I sincerely hope these plans do not go ahead.”

The Home Office, police, and local authorities have reportedly drawn up the plans, which will start next year, and could see suspects visited by MI5 and counter-terror officers.

A Home Office spokesman said the government is “committed to doing everything possible to protect our communities from the threat of terrorism”.

“To respond to this threat, it is vital that we use all the means at our collective disposal to divert people away from terrorist-related activity and we are exploring the best ways of doing this with our partners,” he added.

“We are also reviewing our counter-terrorism strategy to make sure we respond to the evolving threat in the most effective way we can, both now and in the future.”

A Whitehall source added: “We are planning a number of pilots to explore the best way to diverting such people from terrorism and extremist activity.”

Around half of the estimated 850 Britons believed to have gone to join the extremists are already thought to be back in the UK.

Last week, Max Hill, QC, the government’s watchdog on terrorism laws, said that teenagers who had “travelled [to join Isis] out of a sense of naivety, possibly with some brainwashing along the way” might not be prosecuted.

He claimed authorities “should be looking towards reintegration and moving away from any notion that we’re going to lose a generation thanks to this travel”.

Meanwhile, government minister Rory Stewart said the only way to deal with British Islamic State fighters in Syria is to kill them “in almost every case”.

“These are people who have essentially moved away from any kind of allegiance towards the British government,” he told BBC radio.

“They are absolutely dedicated, as members of the Islamic State, towards the creation of a caliphate, they believe in an extremely hateful doctrine which involves killing themselves, killing others and trying to use violence and brutality to create an eighth century, or seventh century, state.

“So I’m afraid we have to be serious about the fact these people are a serious danger to us, and unfortunately the only way of dealing with them will be, in almost every case, to kill them.”

http://www.breitbart.com/london/2017/10/30/uk-government-bribe-returning-islamic-state-fighters-houses-jobs/

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South Asia

 

Buddhism and Islam in Asia: A Long and Complicated History

By Akhilesh Pillalamarri

October 29, 2017

A cursory glance at world news today may suggest that the fault-line where Buddhism and Islam meet in Asia is increasingly characterized by conflict between the two religions. Of course, in broadest sense, this is not true, as religions are made up of numerous individuals and leaders, who are generally of differing opinions. Yet, there is an unusually high level of tension between Buddhists and Muslims in regions where the two groups share space, including Rakhine state in Myanmar, southern Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Ladakh, the eastern part of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

At the root of this tension is the fear among Buddhists — not completely exaggerated — that Muslims will swamp them demographically. Many Buddhists also fear that their countries will lose their culture and become Muslim, as had been the case in many parts of modern day Central Asia, Xinjiang, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, which were majority Buddhist before the arrival of Islam in the 7th-11th centuries. Often, the arrival of Islam went hand-in-hand with the destruction of Buddhism. When the Muslim Turkic Qarakhanids captured the Buddhist city of Khotan in Xinjiang in 1006 CE, one of their poets penned this verse: “We came down on them like a flood/We went out among their cities/We tore down the idol-temples/We shat on the Buddha’s head.” In the Islamic world, a destroyer of idols came to be known as a but-shikan (بت شکن), a destroyer of but, a corruption of the word Buddha, as Buddhism was prevalent in much of what became the eastern part of the Islamic world.

Unfortunately, this history, and demographics, have lead to great fear of Islam among Buddhists, which in turn has led to genocide in Myanmar, and violence in Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Ladakh. If all Rohingya refugees were to be repatriated to Rakhine in Myanmar for example, they would outnumber the local Buddhist Rakhine people. And in Ladakh, the Buddhist proportion of Leh district fell from 81 to 66 percent over the past three decades (relative to Muslims and Hindus). In Ladakh as a whole, which also includes Kargil district, Buddhists are 51 percent of the population, and Muslims 49 percent, a fact of great concern to the region’s Buddhists.

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Attitudes reported from Burmese Buddhists in a recent New York Times piece sum up views commonly held among both hardline monks and the lay-population of Myanmar. One monk said of the Rohingya: “They stole our land, our food and our water. We will never accept them back.” A Rakhine politician said: “All the Bengalis learn in their religious schools is to brutally kill and attack… It is impossible to live together in the future.” A local administrator elsewhere in Myanmar said, “Kalar [a derogatory term for Muslims in Myanmar] are not welcome here because they are violent and they multiply like crazy, with so many wives and children.”

Meanwhile, extremist elements in Myanmar, such as the 969 Movement, have pledged to work with Buddhist extremists elsewhere, such as in Sri Lanka, home to the Bodu Bala Sena, a Buddhist extremist organization that lead anti-Muslim riots in that country in 2014. Ladakh was recently the scene of communal tensions between Buddhists and Muslims after the marriage of a Muslim man and a Buddhist woman, something seen as threatening to the region’s demographics. A head lama from a local monastery said, “The Muslims are trying to finish us off,” also adding that Buddhist women ought to have many more children.

Buddhism was arguably the world’s largest religion a century ago, if one counts everyone who also followed Chinese folk religion, Shinto, Muism, and other East Asian religions. In the modern era, Buddhism has been particularly vulnerable, however, to both secularism and evangelism from other religions. According to a Pew survey, alone among the world’s major religions (including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Chinese folk religion), Buddhism and its adherents are projected to decline both in terms of raw numbers, and as a percentage of the world population. The world Buddhist population is projected to fall from 488 million to 486 million people, and from 7 percent to 5 percent of total share. Christianity and Islam are still growing; in particular, the latter will grow from around 23 percent of the global population to 30 percent by 2050. Put another way, there will be six times as many Muslims as Buddhists by then.

The nature of Buddhism may be related to the issue of the religion’s decline: there is a huge gap between the religion’s lay practitioners, who have adopted a set of customs associated somewhat with Buddhist mythology, and the monastic community, which follows the Buddha’s example. While there is an element of elite-popular division in all religions, in few other religions is the gap so stark. After all, the community, the sangha, founded by the Buddha himself was monastic.

State patronage was also important to the survival of the sangha, as in many Buddhist countries, monks beg, do not produce food, and do not engage in warfare. When a territory was conquered by non-Buddhist powers, or Buddhism was patronized less by certain rulers, the sangha inevitably declined and the lay people merged their folk customs into whatever other religions were dominant.

By the Middle Ages, after a thousand years of growth, Buddhism was sidelined as the elite religion throughout much of its former dominion, except in mainland Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka. Neo-Confucianism and Shinto prevailed in East Asia, partially due to state policies. In 845 CE, China’s Tang Dynasty launched the great anti-Buddhist persecution, stimulated in part by the fact that too many people were entering tax-free monasteries. Neo-Confucianism thereafter became the dominant philosophy among the elite in China; a similar process unfolded in Korea with the rise of the Joseon Dynasty in 1392, and in Japan, where the Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1868) promoted Neo-Confucianism and Shinto at the expense of Buddhism, mostly for political reasons.

Buddhism also all but vanished in South Asia, as folk Buddhism was reabsorbed into Hinduism, with the Buddha being acknowledged as an avatar of the god Vishnu. Hinduism was simultaneously less dependent on state promotion for its survival, and more attuned with the ritual and political needs of kingship, as well as being more aligned with folk beliefs. The destruction of the great Buddhist university at Nalanda in 1193 by Muslim Turkic invaders sealed its fate. Throughout South Asia, after the establishment of Muslim dynasties, conversion to Islam occurred fastest in the heavily Buddhist regions of Afghanistan, Swat, Sindh, western Punjab, and eastern Bengal, compared to other areas where Hinduism was more prevalent.

This history informs Buddhist attitudes toward Islam, regardless of the actual doctrines of Buddhism, or Islam for that matter. History and demographics have created a sense of siege that is unlikely to be resolved soon. Unfortunately, ideas such as education, development, spreading awareness of family planning, or autonomous regions for Muslim minorities are taking a back seat to hysteria throughout numerous Buddhist-majority countries with Muslim-minorities.

https://thediplomat.com/2017/10/buddhism-and-islam-in-asia-a-long-and-complicated-history/

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Kidnapped US professor is seriously ill: Afghan Taliban

October 30, 2017

The Afghan Taliban said on Monday that Kevin King, one of two professors from the American University of Afghanistan who were kidnapped at gunpoint in Kabul last year, is seriously ill and needs urgent medical attention.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said King, an American, was suffering from “dangerous” heart disease and kidney problem.

“His illness has intensified, his feet have swollen and sometimes he becomes unconscious and his condition worsens every day,” Mujahid said in a statement.

“We have tried to treat him time to time but we do not have medical facilities as we are in a war situation,” he added.

King and his Australian colleague Timothy Weeks were kidnapped in August 2016 as they were returning to their compound in the Afghan capital.

Afghan and Western officials believe they are being held by the Haqqani network, a militant group affiliated with the Taliban which has carried out many previous kidnappings. They acknowledge that an unsuccessful rescue attempt was made in eastern Afghanistan months after the two were taken.

The Taliban statement came around two weeks after Pakistani troops rescued Canadian Joshua Boyle and his American wife Caitlan Coleman, who had been held by the Haqqanis since being kidnapped in 2012, from an area near the Afghan border.

Earlier this year, the Taliban released a video of King and Weeks, showing them pleading with their government to release Taliban prisoners in turn for their freedom.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/30-Oct-2017/kidnapped-us-professor-is-seriously-ill-afghan-taliban

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Rohingya crisis will affect Bangladesh economy, says US Ambassador Bernicat

2017-10-31

Some 607,000 Rohingyas, mostly Muslims, have fled the Rakhine state in Buddhist-majority Myanmar since security forces responded to Rohingya militants' attacks on Aug 25 by launching a crackdown, according to international agencies.

“Rohingya crisis will also have an impact on this country’s economy,” Ambassador Marcia Bernicat said on Monday while addressing a luncheon meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh or AmCham.

She was speaking on the barriers of doing businesses in Bangladesh in the meeting chaired by the AmCham President Nurul Islam.

Earlier this month, Finance Minister AMA Muhith told bdnews24.com tackling the refugee crisis is the 'real challenge' of Bangladesh. He had said Myanmar was "destroying" Bangladesh's economy by pushing the Rohingyas through the border.

Bangladesh has long been giving shelter to 400,000 Rohingyas before the latest colossal exodus.

Bernicat expressed “deep appreciation” to the people and the government of Bangladesh for the “generosity” in responding to the crisis by allowing them in.

She said the US continues to work with the diplomatic community, the UN and the other countries to urge Myanmar to stop violence and ensure access for humanitarian assistance in Rakhine.

The US State Department on Sunday said Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Simon Henshaw will lead a delegation to Myanmar and Bangladesh from Oct 29 to Nov 4.

The US embassy in Dhaka on Monday said the delegation will come to Dhaka on Nov 1.

Bernicat, however, listed high tariff, unnecessary or arbitrary regulations, the port, cumbersome customs procedures, unreasonable tax orders, corruption and even sanitary and phyto-sanitary requirements that lack scientific basis as some of the barriers of doing businesses in Bangladesh.

She told the members of the AmCham that these represent “risks to you and all foreign direct investors.”

“US business can be doing so much better [in Bangladesh]. The really good news is when US businesses do better, Bangladesh does better and Bangladeshi businesses do better.”

“Unfair trade barriers prevent that further progress from happening,” she said adding that the embassy is keen to break those barriers as priority of the President Donald Trump’s trade policy.

The US is the largest single country with foreign direct investments in Bangladesh.

Full report at:

https://bdnews24.com/economy/2017/10/30/rohingya-crisis-will-affect-bangladesh-economy-says-us-ambassador-bernicat

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Kabul committed to reconciliation both with Taliban and Pakistan: Ghani

Oct 31 2017

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani says the Afghan government’s peace efforts concentrates on two dimensions, including reconciliation with Pakistan as well as the Taliban group.

The Afghan President made the remarks during a meeting with the United Nations Security Council Sanctions Committee Chief Kairat Umarov in Kabul on Monday.

He said the Afghan government has always left the door open to Pakistan for negotiations and the decision lies with Pakistan whether to cooperate positively for regional peace or not.

President Ghani further added that the other dimension of the government’s peace effort is an intra-Afghan negotiations with the Taliban which have proven as successful in the past.

He called on Taliban to renounce violence and terrorist related activities, insisting that their insurgency paves the way for the other terrorist groups to start operations in the country.

In other parts of his talks with the UNSC sanctions committee chief, President Ghani said joint efforts are needed to ascertain and the mainstreams providing financial and equipment support to the terror groups.

President Ghani said practical steps must be taken to eliminate the sources funding and supporting the terror groups, including the opium trade.

He also warned regarding the instrumental use of terror and said those countries which use terrorism for political motives must understand the menace not only endangers the region but will put the security of their country at risk as well.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/kabul-committed-to-reconciliation-both-with-taliban-and-pakistan-ghani-03750

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Islamabad demanded from US to cut India’s role in Afghanistan: Official

Oct 30 2017

Islamabad has demanded from the United States to cut India’s role in Afghanistan, alleging that the country is involved in destructive activities inside Pakistan using the Afghan soil, it has been reported.

According to the Pakistani officials privy of the conversation between the Pakistani and US officials, Washington in response to Islamabad’s demand has said that New Delhi is involved in economic development in Afghanistan only.

The officials further added that the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried to convince top Pakistani civilian and military leadership that his country’s quest for India’s role in Afghanistan was limited to economic activities only, according to the Daily Times newspaper.

However, the Pakistani official told the paper that “We demanded the US cut India’s role in Afghanistan. We believe the US move to strengthen Indian strategic role in Afghanistan aims at countering China. US-India -Afghanistan nexus is aimed at countering China.”

The US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Islamabad last week to meet with the Pakistani officials to discuss the recent political developments.

The meeting was organized almost two months after President Donald Trump announced his administration’s policy for South Asia and Afghanistan.

The trip by Tillerson was made amid heightened tensions between Islamabad and Washington as the country is accused of harboring the terrorist groups fighting in Afghanistan.

“The Secretary reiterated President Trump’s message that Pakistan must increase its efforts to eradicate militants and terrorists operating within the country,” the Department of State said in a statement.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/islamabad-demanded-from-us-to-cut-indias-role-in-afghanistan-official-03746

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Clowns bring laughter to traumatized Rohingya children

October 30, 2017

The Rohingya boys and girls shrieked with delight as the clowns juggled hoops and somersaulted, their red-nosed antics provoking a sound rarely heard in the world's largest refugee camp -- children's laughter.

The clowns have been providing much-needed levity in the crowded Bangladesh camps, where hundreds of thousands of traumatized Rohingya children spend long days in bleak and difficult conditions.

Mohammad Noor lives with his mother and three siblings in a makeshift shanty in the teeming Kutupalong camp, where a lack of food and water means a constant struggle to survive.

The 10-year-old fled Myanmar last month after his father was killed in brutal violence by the army that the United Nations has likened to ethnic cleansing.

The impromptu circus in a dusty clearing is a welcome distraction from the horror at home.

"It is hilarious. I have never seen anything like it. My friends and I were just laughing and laughing," he told AFP, as a quartet of painted clowns performed skits before a huge gathered crowd.

heatre groups in Bangladesh have a record of using "drama therapy" to lift spirits in the most depressing of circumstances.

One troupe performed for the survivors of a factory collapse in 2013 that killed 1100 garment workers, while another hosted shows in a small village in Bangladesh's south that lost nearly 50 children in a tragic road accident.

In the Rohingya camps, where many lie sick or injured mourning the death of family and loss of their homelands, laughter is sorely needed.

"Our sole aim is to bring laughter to the Rohingya," said Rina Akter Putul, a veteran acrobat and the lone female member of the group.

"Making people laugh is a tough job, especially for those who lost their parents in the conflict."

Laughter as medicine 

The UN estimates 60 percent of the more than 600,000 refugees to arrive in Bangladesh since late August are children.

Many crossed the border alone from their villages in Myanmar's westernmost Rakhine State after their parents were murdered and communities driven out by state-sanctioned violence.

Charities on the ground say children are in dire need of emotional and mental support after enduring such trauma on their difficult journeys.

"I am sure our show will live in their memory for some time. It won't erase their scars, but it will boost their confidence," said Faker Ali, an acrobat who has worked in drama therapy for more than two decades.

But it's not just the children who benefit from the visiting performers.

Among the spectators who flocked to a recent show were countless elderly Rohingya refugees, clapping and smiling as the acrobats whirred rings and bars.

Life has been a grueling quest to survive for older generations of the stateless Muslim minority. Many have escaped past pogroms in Rakhine and lost family and friends in bitter cycles of ethnic violence.

Rohingya are a reviled minority in Myanmar and are denied citizenship, education and opportunity by the Buddhist-majority government that regards them as illegal outsiders.

Most have enjoyed few if any luxuries in their lives -- making the circus performance all the more thrilling.

"We hardly have any fun," said Nesar Ahmed, 38. Even during major Islamic festivals and weddings, there is little in the way of entertainment, he added.

"Life in Arakan (Rakhine) is grim," Khairul Amin, a 63-year-old grandfather, told AFP as a boisterous crowd, young and old, jostled to meet the visiting clowns.

"There is no television and no cinema or theatre. And there is this constant fear you'll be killed or arrested by the military."

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/10/30/clowns-bring-laughter-to-traumatized-rohingya-children.html

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15 Afghan policemen killed in separate Taliban attacks

 Oct 30, 2017

A total of 15 police officers have been killed in the east and south of Afghanistan in separate attacks by the Taliban militant group.

Nine policemen were killed Monday in an attack by the Taliban on a checkpoint in eastern Ghazni province.

Arif Noori, spokesman for the provincial governor, said police forces in the area engaged in a shoot-out with the militants, killing seven of them and injuring five others. He said four police officers were also injured in the battle that lasted an hour.

The attack was the second by the Taliban in less than 24 hours. Militants of the group targeted another police checkpoint in the southern province of Zabul late on Sunday. The clashes that erupted afterwards left six police officers dead while eight others were injured. Local officials said eight militants were also killed in the confrontation while 12 others were injured.

Meanwhile, there were reports of a bomb blast in a market in northern Baghlan province, which injured 13 people on Monday. There has been no claim of responsibility.

The Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan before the US-led invasion in 2001, have increased attacks on security forces and foreign troops over the past two years.

The group, mostly based in the south and east of Afghanistan, has been behind many attacks in the north of the country in the recent past.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/10/30/540392/Afghanistan-Taliban-attacks-police

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Arab World

 

Iraq bans two major Kurdish TV channels over inciting hatred, violence

Oct 30, 2017

Iraq’s media regulator has issued a ban on two major Kurdish television channels, namely Rudaw and Kurdistan 24, accusing the two networks of “inciting hatred and violence”, as the semi-autonomous Kurdish region continues to suffer from the fallout of the last month’s contentious referendum on independence from the Arab country.

The Baghdad-based Communication and Media Commission on Sunday imposed the ban the two channels, both of which are close to regional president Massoud Barzani’s ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), alleging that programs of the pair “target social peace and security.”

The channels, however, strongly rejected the allegations and described the ban as violation of freedom of speech.

“This is an assault on freedom of press and expression,” said the Erbil-based Kurdistan 24’s management in a letter to the International Federation of Journalists.

The Rudaw, for its part, published a statement on its official website, saying that the regulator’s decision was a “political” one. It also slammed the move as “illegal and an intimidation of Rudaw and freedom of press in Iraq.”

“We call upon the Iraqi government, all concerned administrative authorities and those concerned with press freedom in Iraq to correct this defect as it impinges on Iraq's fame and dignity and it will be a grave precedent for press all over Iraq,” said Ako Mohammad, the director general of Rudaw media network, in a separate statement.

The developments come as Barzani told the Kurdish regional parliament that he would step down as president of the KRG as early November 1 and that he would not seek a re-election after the September 25’s highly controversial Kurdish independence referendum, whose architect was Barzani himself, sparked a crisis with Baghdad and neighboring countries.

A few hours after Barzani’s announcement, Kurdish lawmakers approved the 71-year-old Kurdish leader’s request to resign, prompting dozens of people, who called themselves Peshmerga Kurdish fighters, to storm the assembly on Sunday evening and began attacking the legislators and journalists until the police subdued them.

The crestfallen Barzani, whose critics blamed him for an injudicious decision to call the non-binding plebiscite at a time when the Iraqi government was busy fighting Daesh Takfiri terrorists, delivered a televised speech shortly after Parliament approved his request, lambasting the US for not supporting Kurds in their quest for independence.

Baghdad, which strongly slammed the vote as unconstitutional, responded to the referendum by taking a number of punitive measures, including a campaign to seize back positions held by Kurdish forces since 2014, when they joined the fight against Daesh terrorists.

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/10/30/540416/Iraq-Kurdistan-Rudaw-Kurdistan-24-Barzani-referendum

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Egypt administrative court bans Islam Beheiry and re-runs of his show from satellite TV

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din

29 Oct 2017

Egypt’s Administrative Court has ruled in favour of a 2015 legal complaint filed by Al-Azhar demanding a ban on the TV show ‘With Islam’ hosted by Islamic researcher Islam Beheiry on Al-Qahera Wel Nas TV, which ran beteen 2013-2015.

The legal complaint lodged with the court charged Beheiry with "attacking Islamic Sharia and heritage, and making criticisms not based on correct evidence."

The court's ruling on Sunday included a ban on Beheiry appearing on satellite TV stations and prohibited the re-airing of episodes of With Islam. It also mandated authorities to enforce the ban or rebroadcasting his show on satellite TV.

Beheiry has been known for questioning the credibility of some of the sources of the Prophet Muhammad's sayings, a prime source of Islamic jurisprudence, while discussing religious texts on his shows.

He spent almost one year in jail for contempt of religion on With Islam show in a separate legal case dating back to 2015 before receiving a presidential pardon in November 2016.

Full report at:

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/280610/Egypt/Politics-/Egypt-administrative-court-bans-Islam-Beheiry-and-.aspx

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Tens of Terrorists Killed in Syrian Army Advances in Deir Ezzur City

Oct 30, 2017

The army men stormed ISIL's positions in the neighborhoods of old airport, al-Hamidiyeh and al-Jabiliyeh after capturing the Stadium district and imposed control over more positions.

In the meantime, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that fifty terrorists were killed in the army operation and advances in Deir Ezzur city last night.

It added that at least 27 terrorist were killed on the Western bank of the Euphrates River.

Relevant reports said on Sunday that tens of Special Forces of the Syrian Army left their base in Northern Hasaka and arrived in Deir Ezzur to participate in a large-scale operation to end ISIL's presence in the Southeastern part of the province.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960808001041

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Infighting Intensifies among Terrorist Groups again in Eastern Damascus

Oct 30, 2017

The sources said that Faylaq al-Rahman and Al-Nusra exchanged heavy fire in the town of Kafr Batna in the Central part of Eastern Ghouta.

The sources said that the infighting erupted after Faylaq al-Rahman arrested members of Al-Nusra and the latter group, in response, captured several members of Faylaq al-Rahman, including Abu Fars al-Sa'our, a former senior commander of Faylaq al-Rahman.

Earlier this month, the Syrian army launched another offensive against the al-Nusra Front in Southwestern Damascus, and could impose control over a key region.

The army forces engaged in heavy clashes with al-Nusra terrorists in Jabal al-Sheikh and al-Zyat regions as well as al-Bardaiyeh hill in Southwestern Damascus, winning back control over the strategic hill.

They also fiercely clashed with the terrorists in al-Zahr al-Aswad front near Beit Jin farms in Western Damascus, killing several terrorists.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960808001024

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Over 300 Terrorists Killed in Clashes between Two Rival Groups in Syria' Hama

Oct 30, 2017

The Human Rights Watch said that 214 ISIL terrorists and 89 Al-Nusra terrorists were killed in 20 days of clashes between the rival groups in Northeastern Hama.

Several senior commanders have been among the killed terrorists, the international body said.

Relevant reports said on Wednesday that the Al-Nusra declared in a statement that it pushed ISIL back from over 25 villages and hills in Northeastern Hama in 15 days.

It added that 170 ISIL gunmen were killed, 200 more were wounded and 10 others were captured in the clashes.

Al-Nusra further claimed that it destroyed two tanks and two BMP and several military vehicles, seizing a large volume of arms and ammunition.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960808000735

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Hundreds of ISIL Terrorists Escaping from Syria

Oct 30, 2017

The websites quoted well-informed sources as saying that almost 1,500 ISIL fighters, including field commanders, have escaped regions controlled by the terrorist groups in Raqqa and Deir Ezzur provinces in the past 6 months.

The websites also said that ISIL's death toll rose up to 500 in September, adding that the ISIL has carried out strict measures to prevent members' running away, punishing harshly those who tried to flee the battlefields.

Local sources confirmed on Saturday that a notorious field commander of the ISIL escaped battlefield in the Eastern province of Deir Ezzur towards the regions that are under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)

The sources reported that Mohammad al-Shahada, a field commander of the ISIL, escaped battlefields in Deir Ezzur towards the SDF-held regions following rapid advances of the Syrian Army troops in the region.

In the meantime, the army men, backed up by the Syrian Air Force, managed to advance from their positions in the small town of Mahkan Southeast of Deir Ezzur towards the key town of Albu Kamal at the border with Iraq, capturing several positions.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960808000807

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Terrorists Escaping from Battlefields Amid Iraqi Forces' Rapid Advances toward Border with Syria

Oct 30, 2017

The Arabic-language Al-Mayadeen news network reported that Iraqi forces captured over 60 percent of al-Jazeera region in Anbar province and deployed 10 km away from the town of al-Qa'em on the third day of their operation towards border with Syria.

Well-informed sources told al-Mayadeen that terrorists in al-Qa'em have left their arms and fled towards the Syrian border town of Albu Kamal following the army advances, ISIL's heavy death toll and the growing trend of escape among the terrorists' commanders.

The sources added that the ISIL has started calling on own members via laud-speakers not to leave their positions, threatening the fleeing member of harsh punishment 

Iraqi Army troops took control over 40 oil wells West of Mosul city, an army officer reported on Sunday, adding that the wells were previously under the control of Masood Barzani's fighters.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960808000631

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Egypt responds to Iranian remarks on Cairo’s ‘wrong’ regional policies

31 October 2017

The Egyptian foreign ministry responded to Iran’s statements about Egypt’s policy in the Middle East and which an Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson described as “wrong.”

Ahmed Abu Zeid, the Egyptian foreign ministry spokesperson, said stability in the Middle East is one of Egypt’s most important foreign policy goals, adding that maintaining Arab national security and the safety of Arab countries, particularly Gulf countries, is a basic pillar in terms of the region’s stability.

Abu Zeid added that Egypt has always voiced the importance of not interfering in other countries’ internal affairs and of having good neighbor relations, rejecting sectarianism and combating all forms of terrorism and extremism. He added that all this serves the stability of the Middle East and the Arab world and enhances peaceful co-existence between the region’s people on the basis of mutual respect and interests.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasimi had said that Egypt did not play a good role in securing the region’s stability, adding that Cairo’s policies were “wrong.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/10/31/Egypt-responds-to-Iranian-remarks-on-Cairo-s-role-in-the-region.html

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Kurdish parties opposed to Barzani report attacks on offices overnight

30 October 2017

Iraqi Kurdish political parties opposed to regional leader Masoud Barzani reported attacks on their offices in several cities overnight, hours after Barzani announced his resignation, brought low by a failed push for independence.

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the Movement for Change and Gorran said in separate statements several of their offices in the Duhok region, north of the Kurdish capital Erbil, were looted or burnt overnight. No casualties were reported.

The semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq said it had ordered the local police forces, known as Asayish, to stop the attacks.

Barzani, 71, said on Sunday he would give up his position as president on Nov. 1 after an independence referendum he championed in northern Iraq backfired and triggered military and economic retaliation by the Iraqi government.

The veteran guerrilla leader has run Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region since 2005, presiding with a firm hand as the region prospered while the rest of Iraq struggled in civil war. But he but has been brought low in recent weeks by his decision to push the independence vote, and his downfall has exposed deep fractures among the Kurds.

Armed protesters supporting Barzani stormed parliament as it met on Sunday to approve his resignation. Opposition lawmakers who had been barricaded inside managed to leave later, according to their parties.

The PUK, which has been the main rival of Barzani’s Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) for decades, supported his decision to hold the independence referendum, but half-heartedly. The reformist Gorran party opposed the vote, arguing that the timing was poor.

In a televised speech announcing his plan to step down, Barzani said followers of his longterm rival, PUK founder Jalal Talabani who died in early October, had been guilty of “high treason” for handing over the oil city of Kirkuk to Iraqi forces without a fight two weeks ago.

Kurdish fighters known as Peshmerga had held Kirkuk, one of Iraq’s main oil centres, since 2014 when they seized it after government troops fled in the face of an advance by ISIS.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/10/30/Kurdish-parties-opposed-to-Barzani-report-attacks-on-offices-overnight.html

Saudi crown prince, French president discuss combating terrorism in phone call

30 October 2017

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/10/30/Saudi-crown-prince-French-president-discuss-combating-terrorism-in-phone-call.html

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Hashd al-Sha’abi continue to defend Iraq: PMU commander

Oct 31, 2017

A high-ranking member of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) has brushed off calls by the US to lay down their weapons, stressing that they will continue to defend the country.

The PMU’s deputy chief, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis, made the remarks during an interview with The Associated Press on Monday.

"The future of the PMU is to defend Iraq," he added

“The Iraqi army and Iraqi police say they cannot operate without the support of the Hashd," he noted, using the group’s Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi.

Iraqi PM slams Tillerson's remarks on Hashd al-Sha'abi

Earlier in the month, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on the PMUs to return to their homes or leave the country.

Al-Muhandis brushed off Tillerson’s demands, saying, "Tillerson is asleep."

Washington’s demands were also slammed by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. “No party has the right to interfere in Iraqi matters,” Abadi's media office said in a statement released on October 23.  

Hashd al-Sha’abi is an Iraqi state-sponsored umbrella organization composed of some 40 groups, which are mainly Shia Muslims. The force reportedly numbers more than 100,000 fighters. Iraqi authorities say there are between 25,000 and 30,000 Sunni tribal fighters within its ranks in addition to Kurdish Izadi and Christian units.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/10/31/540432/iraq-pmu-hashd-al-shaabi-mohandis

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Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terrorists hiding chemical weapons in Idlib: Report

Oct 30, 2017

Members of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, are reportedly in possession of chemical weapons in Syria’s troubled northwestern province of Idlib, and have depots of internationally banned weapons.

Local sources, requesting anonymity, told Syria’s official news agency SANA on Monday that Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terrorists have a number of depots in the town of Ghazleh and Ma'arrat Misrin city, located 50 kilometers southwest of Aleppo, where they keep shells filled with toxic materials.

The sources added that some of the toxic substances have been made locally, while other chemical weapons are foreign-made and have mostly been manufactured in the United States.

They highlighted that they have “accurate information” that foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants in Ma'arrat Misrin can produce short-range rockets with a range of 15 kilometers that can be armed with chemical warheads.

The sources also warned that Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terrorists would use the toxic materials against ordinary citizens as part of a plot against Syrian government troops.

The Syrian government turned over its entire chemical stockpile under a deal negotiated by Russia and the US back in 2013.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) oversaw the operations to remove the chemical arsenal from Syria and destroy it.

On April 4, an alleged gas attack hit the town of Khan Shaykhun in Syria’s Idlib Province, killing more than 80 people.

The Western countries rushed to hold Damascus responsible for the incident, with the US launching a missile attack against Shayrat Airbase in Syria’s Homs Province on April 7.

Washington claimed that the air field targeted in the missile raid was the origin of the April 4 purported chemical attack.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/10/30/540389/Jabhat-Fateh-alSham-terrorists-hiding-chemical-weapons-in-Idlib-Report

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Iraqi premier calls on Kurdish people to abide by law after outbreak of riot

Oct 30, 2017

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has called for “calm” and “adherence to law” in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region following an outbreak of riot there after Massoud Barzani, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)’s president, announced that he would effectively step down early next month.

The Iraqi premier made the request in a statement on Monday, warning that the Kurdish people would suffer the most from unrest in the region. He also said that “political differences” in the region would also affect the Kurds the most.

Abadi further stressed that “the federal government in Baghdad is keen to stabilize the situation in all provinces of Iraq, work for the citizens and protect their interests.”

The Iraqi prime minister also said that his government was closely monitoring what he described as “attempts to create chaos and disorder” in two cities of the Kurdish region, namely Erbil, the KRG’s capital, and Dahuk.

Abadi’s remarks came a day after Barzani told the Kurdish regional parliament that he would step down as president of the KRG as early November 1 and that he would not seek a re-election after the September 25’s highly controversial Kurdish independence referendum, whose architect was Barzani himself, sparked a crisis with Baghdad and neighboring countries.

A few hours after Barzani’s announcement, Kurdish lawmakers approved the 71-year-old Kurdish leader’s request to resign, prompting dozens of people, who called themselves Peshmerga Kurdish fighters, to storm the assembly on Sunday evening and began attacking the legislators and journalists until the police subdued them.

The crestfallen Barzani, whose critics blamed him for an injudicious decision to call the non-binding plebiscite at a time when the Iraqi government was busy fighting Daesh Takfiri terrorists, delivered a televised speech shortly after Parliament approved his request, lambasting the US for not supporting Kurds in their quest for independence.

“Nobody stood up with us other than our mountains,” Barzani said bitterly in his speech, standing in front of Kurdish and Iraqi flags. “Why would Washington want to punish Kurdistan?” he said.

The Iraqi government, which strongly slammed the vote as unconstitutional, responded to the referendum by taking a number of punitive measures, including a campaign to seize back positions held by Kurdish forces since 2014, when they joined the fight against Daesh terrorists.

On October 16, the first day of the Iraqi military operations, federal forces retook control of the Kurdish-held city of Kirkuk.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/10/30/540387/Iraq-Kurdistan-riot-Barzani-Abadi-resignation

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India

 

Scholars hail Saudi move to scrutinize Hadiths

Oct 30, 2017

Kozhikode: Muslim scholars in Kerala have welcomed Saudi Arabia's initiative to set up a body of scholars to scrutinize Hadiths or Hadis (the accounts of Prophet Muhammad's sayings and actions reported by his followers) "to prevent them from being used to justify violence or terrorism",

Quoting the Saudi culture and information ministry, Reuters reported that King Salman has ordered the establishment of an authority (King Salman Complex) to scrutinize uses of Hadiths.

According to media reports, the body's aim would be to "eliminate fake and extremist texts and any texts that contradict the teachings of Islam and justify the committing of crimes, murders and terrorist acts". The King Salman Complex will become a "trusted source of the correct and authentic hadith", said the reports.

In Islam, Hadiths are revered as a major source of religious law and moral guidance, second only to Quran. Hadiths are classified as authentic (sahih) and weak (daif) considering various factors and the most authentic compilation is that of Imam Bukhari, who was born in 810.

"It is a welcome move to examine the Hadiths as there are allegations that some of them were manufactured with mischievous intention," said social activist and writer M N Karassery.

"Chekannur Moulavi vehemently questioned the authenticity of Hadiths saying that they are all fabricated. Quranists like Chekannur said that Quran should be the only accepted text in Islam. C N Ahammed Moulavi also had questioned the validity of Hadith though in moderate way. Rejection of Hadith was one of the reasons that led to Chekannur's murder," Karassery said adding that Hadiths are one among the sources of inspiration for fundamentalism, theocracy and extremism.

Kerala Nadvathul Mujahideen (KNM) state president T P Abdulla Koya Madani was cautious in his reaction to the development. "I have not come across the news about the Saudi government decision. But there is nothing wrong in examining them, especially in the context of terror outfits like the Islamic State misusing the religious concepts. The extremists are using the religious texts to justify their evil deeds," he said.

Madani said that the Salafis in Kerala have a well-structured and system in accepting or rejecting a Hadith. "We strictly follow the Usul al-Hadith (the science of Hadith) while accepting a Hadith," he said.

Abdul Salam Sullami, the scholar who is criticised for his tough attitude towards Hadith, said Hadiths should be revisited not just to ward off terrorism. "It is not enough to say that a particular Hadith is authentic only because it is there in Bukhari. You can find contradictory Hadiths in Bukhari. After all he is a human being who is prone to mistakes," said Sullami.

"The best way to accept a Hadith is to test it by empirical reasoning. Any text which says that fire is not hot can be summarily rejected," he said.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kozhikode/scholars-hail-saudi-move-to-scrutinize-hadiths/articleshow/61348937.cms

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Four Muslim Outfits Seek Political Say: ‘Why is Muslim missing from poll narrative of BJP, Cong?’

October 31, 2017

s missing from the poll narrative of both the BJP and the Congress. At a press meet of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Insaf Trust, Hamaari Awaaz, Gujarat Unit of Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, a view was expressed that both the Congress and the ruling BJP were either “ignoring Muslims or avoiding” the community’s core problems like their demand for due representation in polls and discriminating against them in all the spheres of life.

“The Congress asking Muslims to abandon their religious attire and yet wanting their votes is a dangerous trend if it spreads to other parts of the country,” said Kaleem Siddiqui of Insaf Trust. He was referring to a report about a Congress party meeting reportedly making a suggestion that Muslims should keep a low profile during voting.

Chairman of All India Congress Committee’s Minority Cell, Khurshid Ahmed Saiyed told The Indian Express, “A meeting of Gujarat Congress minority leaders was held on Sunday at Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan. There was no such advice given to Muslims. But knowing that the BJP is master of polarisation by showing fake videos or photographs of Hindus clad in Islamic dresses in wrong context… a party worker was telling his colleagues that Muslims should be wary of such things and keep a low profile”.

Mohammed Shafi Madni president of Gujarat unit of Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat said that Muslims constitute 10 per cent population, and in 21 Assembly constituencies where they constitute 20 per cent population, Muslim candidates should be fielded. He also said the the government should not keep representation of Muslims limited to Waqf Board or Haj Committee, they should hold stake in all Government bodies.

Social worker Umar Vohra said that Muslims had no social space in the State as avenues of inter community interaction. He said that Muslims were not demanding reservation in jobs but they must be given reservation in education. They said that the Disturbed Areas Act that came into being in 1986 was the biggest reason for ghettoisation of Muslims, which must be abolished or injustice to Muslims in the name of this law must be stopped at the earliest.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/gujarat-elections-2017-jamaat-e-islami-hind-four-muslim-outfits-seek-political-say-why-is-muslim-missing-from-poll-narrative-of-bjp-cong-4914738/

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Will keep punishing you for support to terrorists, India tells Pakistan

Oct 31, 2017

NEW DELHI: India on Monday warned Pakistan that its army's "unabated support" to terrorists trying to infiltrate across the LoC will continue to be punished with "retaliatory measures", including targeted cross-border firings.

Director-general of military operations Lt-General A KBhatt also told his Pakistan counterpart Major General Sahir Shamshad Mirza over the hotline that the "prime reason for any collateral damage" in the firings was their army's "unacceptable" support to cross-border terrorism and infiltration.

"Lt-Gen Bhatt made it clear the Indian Army will continue to take all retaliatory measures as well as retain the right to punitively respond to such provocative acts of aggression from the Pakistan army in the future also," said a senior officer.

When the Pak DGMO got in touch for the unscheduled conversation to protest against "unprovoked firing" by the Indian Army, Lt-Gen Bhatt said the Pakistan army had employed at forward posts civilians who were "repeatedly being used for gaining information of our locations, and act as guides to the terrorists crossing the LoC".

"Retaliatory firing by Indian troops has only been carried out in response to unabated support given by the Pakistan army to armed terrorists who infiltrate across the border and target Indian Army posts with heavy-calibre weapons," said the officer.

Underlining that the Indian Army "always maintains impeccable standards of professionalism and does not target civilians", Lt-Gen Bhatt said the force "will continue efforts to ensure peace and tranquility on the borders" provided there was a reciprocal effort from the other side.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/will-keep-punishing-you-for-support-to-terrorists-india-tells-pakistan/articleshow/61350143.cms

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India and Italy committed to fight unitedly against terror: PM Modi

Oct 30, 2017

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said both India and Italy were keen to take bilateral ties between the two nations to new heights through greater cooperation in a range of fields.

The Prime Minister was addressing a joint press conference with Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni after holding extensive talks to review the entire spectrum of the bilateral relationship.and signing several agreements to strengthen bilateral cooperation.

"During my talks with PM Gentiloni, we both realised that we're both willing to take the bilateral relations between our countries to new heights," PM Modi told mediapersons.

"Both of us are committed to fight unitedly against terror and on the issue of cyber security," he said.

Regarding diplomatic relations, PM Modi said India and Italy are also committed to increase tourism and people-to-people ties between the two countries.

He went on to say that there was great scope for further collaboration between India and Italy, particularly in the commercial sector. Italy is India's fifth largest trading partner in the EU with a bilateral trade of $8.79 billion in 2016-17, as per official figures.

The Prime Minister also welcomed partnership with Italy in the government's flagship projects like smart cities, food processing, pharmaceuticals and infrastructure.

Earlier in the day, India and Italy signed six MOUs to further strengthen bilateral relations. These include a Joint Declaration of Intent of Cooperation for Safety in the Railway sector, cooperation in the field of Energy, an Executive Protocol on Cultural Cooperation, promoting mutual investments and an MoU on 70 years of diplomatic relations between the two nations.

Gentiloni's visit is the first prime ministerial trip from Italy in more than a decade.

Ahead of his meeting with Modi, the visiting leader, who received a ceremonial reception at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, described his visit as an opportunity to make ties between the two countries stronger.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-and-italy-committed-to-fight-unitedly-against-terror-pm-modi/articleshow/61338705.cms

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Hyderabad to host national Muslim conference after 40 years

Oct 31, 2017

CHARMINAR: The All India Muslim Educational Society (AIMES) will organize the 10th national conference in the city from November 4.

Conference committee chairman and former law minister (Andhra Pradesh) Asif Pasha announced that the two-day conference would be held with an intention to discuss problems faced by the community.

"Almost after 40 years, AIMES will organize the national conference for two days in Hyderabad. The agenda of this conference is to discuss the Muslim communities' educational, financial and social problems. The conference will be inaugurated by Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao on November 4," Pasha said.

SA Huda, former director general of police, pointed how the community has ample issues to discuss and find solutions during the conference.

"The Muslim community has many issues. Their problems and issues can be discussed by holding such a conference. It is a good platform and it feels too proud to have a national conference in Hyderabad," Huda said.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/hyderabad-to-host-national-muslim-conference-after-40-years/articleshow/61351942.cms

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How Taliban Biriyani Hamsa radicalised Muslims in South India

By: Vicky Nanjappa

October 31, 2017

Taliban Biriyani Hamsa was arrested recently by the Kerala police. Hamsa was arrested along with Manaf Rahman on the charge that they were recruiting for the Islamic State.

Hamsa who was leading the module according to the police was the mastermind of ISIS related activities in the Malabar region. During the course of the investigation, the police realised that his imprint went beyond the Malabar region.

He was allegedly in touch with operatives in Andhra, Telangana and Karnataka. The 52 year old is a radical and upon his arrest he told the police that ISIS is true Islam. He further dared the police to bring in a religious scholar so that he could prove that ISIS is true Islam.

Investigations revealed that he had operated from the Gulf since 1998. He is said that have been radicalised at the Al-Ansar, a Bahrain based religious centre which today is suspected of being a training centre for ISIS operatives.

The ISIS has been desperately trying to make inroads in South India. Hamsa according to investigators was the main link between the recruiters and the operatives.

An investigators informed OneIndia that Hamsa is a hard nut to crack. He is highly radicalised and his school of thought is radical Islam. He wanted to spread the ideology of the ISIS in Southern India and at every meeting he would say that it is only the Islamic State that preaches true Islam.

The police with the help of the National Investigation Agency is now trying to track down the modules set up by Hamsa and his associate Manaf Rahman. The police say that Manaf is well connected in Karnataka and handled most of the recruitments in the state. The focus was largely in the bordering areas. The investigators say that they were also trying to recruit more people in the Mangaluru-Bantwal areas which is relatively closer to Kasargod which has been branded as a radical hub.

Full report at:

https://www.oneindia.com/india/how-taliban-biriyani-hamsa-radicalised-muslims-in-south-india-2572875.html

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Bell tolls in Srinagar’s oldest church after 5 decades

Oct 30, 2017

SRINAGAR: In a lesson on solidarity in the strife-torn valley of Kashmir, representatives of different religions came together at Srinagar's oldest Catholic Church to inaugurate a bell, as the original was damaged in an arson attack in 1967.

The 120-year-old church at Maulana Azad Road, established by the British in 1896, was silent for the last 50 years. But on Monday, the new brass bell, weighing 105kg, tolled resoundingly. Christian tradition uses church bells to call worshippers to service during canonical hours.

Besides the parish priest, Fr Roy Mathews, Muslim cleric Haji Manzoor Ahmad Malik, Hindu priest Swami Amratdass Udasin and Sikh Granthi Gyani Saranjeet Singh were present on the occasion. All four are members of Inter-Religious Forum, an organisation meant to promote interfaith understanding.

There are at least 30 Christian families living in Srinagar. Fr Mathews, who officiated the ceremony, said the occasion symbolised the acceptance of different religious views in the valley.

"The Kashmir valley has witnessed several obstacles in last three decades with some vested interests trying to create a wedge between different religions. But Kashmiri composite culture has always steered out overcoming the adversities," he said.

Haji Malik said, "We decided to come together to participate in the bell ringing to clear misconceptions that Kashmiris are intolerant of other faiths. The Kashmiri majority believes that Islam does not teach attacking or browbeating the people of other religions."

There are six churches in the valley, out of which only three - two Catholic and one Protestant - are functional. Pastor M C Khanna of Sonwar church in Srinagar's outskirts was arrested in November 2011 after allegations of conversion surfaced against him. He was later released and acquitted of all charges.

Christians, who are a minority in the valley, have often been concerned about their safety, as highlighted in a report by a four-member team headed by Dr Sangliana, vice chairman of National Commission for minority. But residents feel the 'spirit of Kashmiriyat' still runs deep in the valley.

Parishioner Sydney Rath, who has been attending the masses at the Srinagar church for several years, said, "The church was completely renovated after it got damaged in 2014 floods, but the bell had always been missing. The installation of the church bell is a step in the right direction."

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/bell-tolls-in-srinagars-oldest-church-after-5-decades/articleshow/61344473.cms

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Congress hails Yogi Govt’s decision to introduce NCERT books in Madrasas

October 31, 2017

New Delhi [India], Oct.31 (ANI): The Congress Party on Tuesday hailed the Uttar Pradesh Government’s decision to introduce NCERT books in Madrasas across the state.

Speaking to ANI, Congress leader Salman Khurshid said, “I think nothing is wrong in that. I think madrasas have been teaching modern education other than their own religious teachings. These books should be made available. I am sure Madrasas will be happy to comply with it. It will make the people, who come out from madrasas employable. They can’t just become priest and go to the mosque. So, I think this is good decision.”

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also welcomed the Uttar Pradesh government’s initiative and lauded Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for implementing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision.

“It is a splendid move by Uttar Pradesh government. All credit goes to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister is implementing the vision of the Prime Minister. It is a very good initiative. This will surely ensure that boys and girls from Muslim community will get the modern education,” BJP leader Zafar Islam told ANI.

The Uttar Pradesh government on Monday said that it will introduce NCERT books in Madrasas across the state that fall under the UP Madrasa Board. The government has also decided to make mathematics and science compulsory at the intermediate level from the next academic year.

The Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma on Monday said NCERT books are being introduced in Madrasas across Uttar Pradesh in accordance to suggestions made by the state Madrasa Board.

He further said that the aim of the move is to make students in Madrasas more competitive.

Dinesh Sharma took to his Twitter handle and said, “The students (at Madrasa) will be taught about modern issues and they will compete with other schools in the same arena.(sic)”

Meanwhile, talking to ANI Sharma said, “There is no change in the new curriculum and syllabus in this regard. The Uttar Pradesh Madrasa board brought out a suggestion that along with their Urdu books they will also cover NCERT English books which are for different subjects. This suggestion came in Madarsa Board, the Board decided that NCERT books of Mathematics, Science in Urdu will be added. In this way, students will get a wider scope to learn mainstream subjects.”

Full report at:

http://www.india.com/news/agencies/congress-hails-yogi-govts-decision-to-introduce-ncert-books-in-madrasas-2584263/

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Is Salman Khurshid no more a Muslim after ‘Deoband’ expelled him from Islam?

Oct 31, 2017

Lucknow: UP-based Darul Uloom Deoband has expelled senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid from Islam after doing the same with some Muslim women for worshipping Lord Rama.

Salman Khurshid videos and photos of performing Aarti of Lord Rama during Kalki Festival in Sambhal are viral on social media.

Darul Iftaa took suo motu notice of the video and photographs on social media and debarred the senior Congress leader from Islam with immediate effect on Sunday.

Deoband’s Ulema Mufti Tariq Kashmi said that Khurshid’s act was against the basic tenets of Islam which do not allow any devout Muslim to worship anyone other than Allah.

He added that idol worship was strictly banned in Islam.

Ulema in a statement which was released in Urdu also told the way by which the Congress leader could again be a member of Islam.

“He is no longer a Muslim and should repent (Tauba) before Allah for his un-Islamic act and read Kalma only then he will be allowed to embrace Islam again as per Islamic laws,” said the Ulema.

Meanwhile, Salman Khurshid has lashed out at Deoband for their action of expelling him from Islam.

He said, "My response to Deoband rep (?): My iman not frail like yours to whither by respecting practices of my friend’s faith. May Allah forgive you”, Khurshid posted on Twitter.

In another tweet he said, “Respect for a compatriots religion is no denial of one’s own. Wakum din a kum, yakum din in most positive form.”

Deoband Darul Ulum also issued a warning to others in Islam that they must not worship anyone other than Allah. Doing so will be considered ‘un-Islamic’ and such people will have no place in Islam, Deoband said.

Full report at:

http://www.indiasamvad.co.in/top-stories/salman-khurshid-no-more-a-muslim-after-deoband-expelled-him--25712

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Muslims seek ticket `sadbhavana'

Oct 31, 2017

AHMEDABAD: Muslims turned up in huge numbers in 2011 when then chief minister Narendra Modi tried an image makeover and launched Sadbhavana Mission to attract the minorities.

However, a year later, the sadbhavana did not translate into the saffron party fielding any Muslim candidate in the 2012 Gujarat assembly elections.

This even as BJP had offered tickets to Muslims in the local body polls in 2010 and many had even emerged winners.

Five years down the line, Muslims leaders are seeking some real `Sadbhavana' and hoping that BJP , that has since 1980 fielded only one candidate in assembly elections in 1998 -to turn a new leaf politically and field minority candidates for making greater inroads into the community .

BJP Minority Morcha has demanded several seats in the upcoming elections. Mehboob Ali Chisti, BJP Minority Morcha in-charge believes that since there are around 350 Muslims who secured seats for BJP in local body polls in urban ar eas in 2015, Muslims could win assembly polls for BJP in certain constituencies. "During the recent parliamentary board meeting, many Muslim community leaders have requested for party ticket. Representation have been made for JamalpurKhadia, Vejalpur, Vagra, Wankaner, Bhuj and Abdasa seats," Chishti said.

One such aspirant for JamalpurKhadia constituency , where Muslims constitute 61% of total voters, is Usman Ghanchi, a builder who is associated with BJP for past decade."Given an opportunity , I will win the seat for the party ," he told TOI.

Former IPS officer A I Saiyed too is keen to contest assembly elections."I am with BJP for nine years. If BJP offers me a ticket, I will contest polls, Inshallah," he said. Saiyed contested local body elections in 2010, but was defeated from Sarkhej. Later, he was made Gujarat Wakf Board chairman.

Amid speculations that BJP could this time turn to a Muslim candidate for Jamalpur-Khadia constituency , a sitting municipal corporator Imran Khedawala claims that he has been offered a ticket by the party . Earlier with Congress party , Khedawala contested last municipal elections as an Independent. The seat is presently held by BJP MLA Bhushan Bhatt.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/muslims-seek-ticket-sadbhavana/articleshow/61352164.cms

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NIA submits status report on Kerala conversions

OCTOBER 31, 2017

In a status report filed before the Supreme Court on Monday, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said they have examined five women and a man, who claimed that they were lured to convert to Islam and a “common thread” ran through all the cases.

The 70-page report in a sealed cover was filed by the agency pertaining to the ongoing investigation in the case where Asokan, father of a 25-year-old Hindu woman, has alleged that his daughter was forced to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim man.

As reported by The Hindu, the NIA told the apex court that it was not able to question Akhila Asokan alias Hadiya even once as her father said she was not in “right frame of mind.”

The NIA said its officers had examined nine such cases of conversion to Islam. In at least four cases, the involvement of members of Popular Front of India (PFI) was established. The agency said it had examined a woman named Sainaba, an activist of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) —the political arm of the PFI — would question her again.

Earlier this week, Kerala-based social activist Rahul Easwar released a 17-second video of Akhila where she is heard speaking about the threat to her life from her father. The apex court on Monday asked Asokan to produce Hadiya on November 27, the next day of hearing.

Kerala Police had handed over a list of 89 cases to NIA where families or individuals had alleged they were asked to forcibly convert to Islam. Of these cases, more than 32 pertained to Hindu men and women and the remaining belonged to other religions.

“There is a common intention behind all the conversions. Some individuals might have converted to Islam on their own will but it was being done in an organised manner. It may not have any terror angle at all. The inter-faith marriages are not extraordinary but definitely on the higher side,” said a senior NIA official.

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/nia-submits-status-report-on-kerala-conversions/article19954530.ece

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Muslim lobby group Muslim Engagement and Development ‘promotes extremism’

October 31 2017

Police forces and town halls have been working with a Muslim group that promotes extremism, researchers say today.

Officials and volunteers with Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend) are claimed to have legitimised the killing of British troops and promoted conspiracy theories.

Mend has been championed by some MPs, universities, police forces, the Crown Prosecution Service and teachers. A report released today by the Henry Jackson Society, a Conservative think tank, entitled Mend: “Islamists Masquerading as Civil Libertarians”, argues that public bodies should treat the group as an extremist organisation.

The report claims that Mend has promoted conspiratorial narratives encouraging the belief that Islamophobia is intentionally driven by government policies and the media, and that senior employees and volunteers have promoted antisemitism, particularly engaging in hate…

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/muslim-lobby-group-promotes-extremism-muslim-engagement-and-development-mend-hkm87fx35

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Rape claims hit Islam scholar Tariq Ramadan in France

30 October 2017

French prosecutors are investigating allegations by two women who say they were raped by Tariq Ramadan, a renowned Islamic scholar and Oxford professor.

One of them, Henda Ayari, told a French TV interviewer that Mr Ramadan had assaulted her in a Paris hotel in 2012.

"He literally pounced on me like a wild animal," she said.

In a Facebook post Prof Ramadan denied the accusations, calling them "a campaign of lies", and said his lawyer was suing the women for "slander".

Ms Ayari used to wear the Islamic full-face veil but is now a secular feminist activist.

She said the sexual harassment scandal surrounding Hollywood film mogul Harvey Weinstein had emboldened her to accuse Mr Ramadan explicitly.

Many women worldwide have shared accounts of sexual harassment using the Twitter hashtag #MeToo. In France the equivalent is #balancetonporc, meaning "expose your pig".

Ms Ayari had previously published an account of an alleged assault in a book, without naming the man.

Speaking on BFMTV, she said she had gone to Mr Ramadan's hotel room to ask him questions about Islam and at the time "I admired him very much".

Referring to the alleged rape, she said "he kissed me really hard... then for a few seconds he choked me, I really thought I was going to die".

The second woman - a convert to Islam - has alleged that she was raped by Tariq Ramadan in a hotel in Lyon in 2009.

Mr Ramadan denounced the allegations as "a campaign of slander clearly orchestrated by my long-time adversaries".

Islamic militant or revolutionary?

He is a controversial and influential figure among Muslim scholars. He challenges fundamentalist Islam, but some critics accuse him of promoting political Islam.

A Swiss national, he is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, who founded the Muslim Brotherhood.

Full report at:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-41805953

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French Terror Killer’s Brother Says Devotion to Islam Drew him Away from Violence

30 Oct 2017

PARIS (AP) — Abdelkader Merah wants to show that he has escaped his violent past through devotion to Islam.

Once nicknamed Bin Laden in the French housing project where he grew up, the violence-prone ex-delinquent now says he is a peaceful Muslim and has displayed calm, wit and knowledge at his terror trial in Paris.

From the glass-enclosed court docket where he has been standing for the past four weeks, Merah has been trying to distance himself from his younger brother Mohammed, who five years ago killed seven people in extremist attacks in southern France.

“I’m not Mohammed Merah, I am Abdelkader Merah. There is a big difference,” he told the court.

Abdelkader Merah is accused of complicity to terror in connection with the shooting spree his brother went on in 2012. He denies any wrongdoing.

Public prosecutor Naima Rudloff on Monday requested the maximum sentence for Merah, life imprisonment with 22 years before any possible parole. A verdict is expected on Thursday.

In March 2012, Mohammed Merah killed three French paratroopers in Toulouse and Montauban. Then a few days later, he burst into a Jewish school, killed a rabbi and his two young sons and grabbed an 8-year-old girl and shot her in the head. He was then shot and killed in a dramatic 30-hour police standoff at his Toulouse apartment.

Abdelkader Merah has been held for over the past five years, suspected of having mentored Mohammed as he turned toward jihadism, and with providing assistance to him.

With a thick beard and his hands behind his back, the 35-year-old Merah has proved hard to unsettle during his court hearings, even when the investigation suggested he had helped his brother.

On French intelligence radar since 2006 for his proximity to radical cells in the Toulouse region, Merah has admitted he was with his brother the day Mohammed stole the motor scooter used in the killings. He said he didn’t report the theft to police because he didn’t want to be a snitch.

“This is how it works in the projects. I’ve got the street DNA,” Merah told the court. “As a Muslim, a theft in my presence was not something enjoyable. On the other hand, in the housing project, a scooter theft is not something that really matters.”

Abdelkader Merah’s story is similar to dozens of troubled French youths who have taken the path to radicalism.

A former construction painter, Abdelkader Merah is regarded by investigators as the ideologist who radicalized his younger brother within a dysfunctional family with an absent father. Placed in foster care after he was kicked out from school, Merah was exposed to violence and drugs at an early age. A childcare workers’ report from 1996 describes him as a violent boy.

Merah, nicknamed Bin Laden in his neighborhood after he glorified the 9/11 attacks — does not deny being a role model for Mohammed. But he insists that was before he embraced Islam back in 2006, at a time when he was drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis. “When I was a delinquent, I was a star in the neighborhood. And he (Mohammed) was looking up to us,” said Abdelkader Merah, who was jailed in 2003 for stabbing the family’s eldest brother, Abdelghani, during an argument.

Merah, who grew up alongside two brothers and two sisters, was lured toward radical Islam after he was discharged from jail, after meeting with extremists in the Izards housing project.

“I wake up Muslim. I live Muslim. I eat Muslim. I sleep Muslim,” said Merah during his trial, claiming that “democracy is a religion” and that he places “Islamic law above the French constitution.”

Does that mean he could use violence against French society?

“Absolutely not,” Merah told court President Franck Zientara.

Merah claims that Islam has brought peace to his troubled mind. After what he calls “his conversion,” he went to Egypt four times. While prosecutors believe he could have travelled abroad to connect with terror networks — his brother Mohammed met him in Cairo in 2010 — he insists he went there to learn literary Arabic in Qur’anic schools.

Investigators have found dozens of books on Islam at his house, but also a jihadi audio guide recorded by an Al-Qaeda affiliate.

“People say I have mentored my little brother,” he said. “But I would have loved him to follow me in my quest for science.”

During his trial, Merah has admitted for the first time that his brother was a “terrorist,” and said he felt ashamed by his killings. But during a conversation with his mother recorded earlier in jail, he said that Mohammed had offered him “the most beautiful gift.”

And if he ever has a son, Abdelkader plans on naming him Mohammed.

“He did what he did, but he remains my little brother,” Abdelkader said. “Why should I turn my back on him?”

For Laurence Cechman, a lawyer for the victims’ family, there’s no doubt that Abdelkader is hiding his true face.

Full report at:

http://www.breitbart.com/london/2017/10/30/french-terror-killers-brother-says-devotion-islam-drew-away-violence/

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What British Muslims think about the term ‘British values’

October 30, 2017

Channel 4’s recent programme My Week as a Muslim, in which a non-Muslim woman lived with a Pakistani family for a week, was a reminder of the ongoing curiosity about Muslim life in British society. The programme was criticised for its use of “brownfacing” as the woman wore dark make-up and a niqab to appear Pakistani – highlighting the resilience of assumptions that British Muslims are non-white or somehow non-British.

This abiding curiosity about how Muslims live and what Muslims think frequently stems from enduring concerns around integration. In the past, such concerns were usually couched in the language of multiculturalism or community cohesion, but today they are often centred around the idea of “British values”. While the meaning of the term remains unclear, it saturates public life in areas as diverse as counter-radicalisation policy and education. Yet, in one recent study, around half of British adults surveyed believed Islam to be incompatible with British values.

For the last year, we have been working with Muslims across eastern England and East Anglia who have produced their own short films about British values as part of an ongoing research project. Doing so, we hoped, would tell us a little more about what the term British values means to Muslims in an often neglected region. It might also shed light on how those Muslims feel when they encounter the term in media headlines or opinion polls.

Although we’re mindful of the dangers of generalisation – and cautious that these reflections are still provisional – we have picked out three themes that recur in a number of our films and interviews with those who made them.

Elusiveness

The term British values was often seen by our filmmakers as an elusive and ambiguous one. Some, such as Shukria from Bedford, were confident in articulating the term precisely – in her case as “having the freedom to express yourself however you want”. But many others professed to not knowing what the term means.

Haroon, a college student in Norwich, told us: “I can’t really speak on British values, because I don’t know anything about them … to me it’s a weightless word, it has no meaning to it.” Fatima, from Bedford, held a similar view: “To be honest, I don’t know, it doesn’t mean anything to me … We were never taught what British values were.”

For some, this ambiguity was even more pronounced when they reflected on whether anything is distinctively British about values such as “democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs” – the language the Home Office uses to define the term. As one of the people interviewed put it, such values “should be universal regardless – British, non-British, faith or no faith”.

Compatibility

Despite this ambiguity, the British Muslims we spoke to saw some similarities between British values and values associated with Islam. As one interviewee put it:

If I think about British values and I think about my faith, I think there’s a lot of common ground. And common ground for me is serving my community, looking after my neighbours, regardless of whoever they are.

The claim that a vague and ambiguous set of British values actually complements Islamic values could appear counter-intuitive. But the indistinctness of the term might actually make the idea of British values easier to square with other sets of religious or non-religious values. A desire to identify with the Britishness of these values – or to be seen by others to identify with this Britishness – could also be more important than concerns about their specific content or meaning.

Dog-whistle politics

There also seems to be genuine public concern among those with whom we spoke about how the term British values is used in politics and the media. Many people on this project pointed to the manipulation of the term by politicians and media commentators to serve dog-whistle politics, often in the aftermath of violent and tragic events. In the words of one anonymous participant: “Whenever there’s an attack, you have the government … start talking about [British] values.”

In this way, the term British values was seen by two of those we spoke to as a coded “warning” to specific communities, which contributed to “divisive” and “alienating” politics. These sentiments can also offer insights about how those exposed to the term within classrooms or places of worship might feel.

Full report at:

https://theconversation.com/what-british-muslims-think-about-the-term-british-values-86423

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UK ‘proud’ of Balfour declaration that led to creation of Israel

Oct 30, 2017

UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson says he is “proud” to be sitting in the same room in which his predecessor penned the Balfour declaration, a document that paved the way for the creation of Israel.

Johnson wrote in an article published by The Telegraph on Sunday that the 1917 public declaration by Arthur James Balfour was “indispensable” to Israel’s creation and London was proud to mark its 100-year anniversary later this week.

"I am proud of Britain's part in creating Israel and Her Majesty’s Government will mark the Centenary of the Balfour Declaration on Thursday in that spirit,” he wrote.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due in London to attend the anniversary of the celebration.

Last week, UK Prime Minister Theresa May made similar comments about the document, pledging to mark the document’s centenary “with pride.”

Britain’s insistence on celebrating the document has drawn criticism from Palestine, which has repeatedly called on the UK government to apologize for its role in the establishment of Israel.

Nabil Shaath, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said during an interview with Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen network on Thursday that Palestine was planning to take legal action against the UK for triggering a chain reaction that led to the displacement of millions of Palestinians.

Abbas had earlier threatened the UK with a lawsuit in case it refused to call off celebratory events linked with the Balfour declaration.

There is a consensus that Israel has been in violation of a key caveat of the declaration, which states that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities.”

In his article, Johnson acknowledged “the suffering of those affected and dislodged” by Israel’s birth, saying that the vital caveat “has not been fully realized.”

Roderick Balfour, a great-great-nephew of Lord Arthur Balfour, has also echoed the same stance.

Palestine to sue UK for role in Israel’s creation

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has announced that he would skip the November 2 celebrations.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/10/30/540329/UK-Balfour-declaration-Palestine-Israel-Johnson

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At French Terror Trial, Killer's Brother Denies Extremism

Oct. 30, 2017

PARIS (AP) — Abdelkader Merah wants to show that he has escaped his violent past through devotion to Islam.

Once nicknamed Bin Laden in the French housing project where he grew up, the violence-prone ex-delinquent now says he is a peaceful Muslim and has displayed calm, wit and knowledge at his terror trial in Paris.

From the glass-enclosed court docket where he has been standing for the past four weeks, Merah has been trying to distance himself from his younger brother Mohammed, who five years ago killed seven people in extremist attacks in southern France.

"I'm not Mohammed Merah, I am Abdelkader Merah. There is a big difference," he told the court.

Abdelkader Merah is accused of complicity to terror in connection with the shooting spree his brother went on in 2012. He denies any wrongdoing.

Public prosecutor Naima Rudloff on Monday requested the maximum sentence for Merah, life imprisonment with 22 years before any possible parole. A verdict is expected on Thursday.

In March 2012, Mohammed Merah killed three French paratroopers in Toulouse and Montauban. Then a few days later, he burst into a Jewish school, killed a rabbi and his two young sons and grabbed an 8-year-old girl and shot her in the head. He was then shot and killed in a dramatic 30-hour police standoff at his Toulouse apartment.

Abdelkader Merah has been held for over the past five years, suspected of having mentored Mohammed as he turned toward jihadism, and with providing assistance to him.

With a thick beard and his hands behind his back, the 35-year-old Merah has proved hard to unsettle during his court hearings, even when the investigation suggested he had helped his brother.

On French intelligence radar since 2006 for his proximity to radical cells in the Toulouse region, Merah has admitted he was with his brother the day Mohammed stole the motor scooter used in the killings. He said he didn't report the theft to police because he didn't want to be a snitch.

"This is how it works in the projects. I've got the street DNA," Merah told the court. "As a Muslim, a theft in my presence was not something enjoyable. On the other hand, in the housing project, a scooter theft is not something that really matters."

Abdelkader Merah's story is similar to dozens of troubled French youths who have taken the path to radicalism.

A former construction painter, Abdelkader Merah is regarded by investigators as the ideologist who radicalized his younger brother within a dysfunctional family with an absent father. Placed in foster care after he was kicked out from school, Merah was exposed to violence and drugs at an early age. A childcare workers' report from 1996 describes him as a violent boy.

Merah, nicknamed Bin Laden in his neighborhood after he glorified the 9/11 attacks — does not deny being a role model for Mohammed. But he insists that was before he embraced Islam back in 2006, at a time when he was drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis. "When I was a delinquent, I was a star in the neighborhood. And he (Mohammed) was looking up to us," said Abdelkader Merah, who was jailed in 2003 for stabbing the family's eldest brother, Abdelghani, during an argument.

Merah, who grew up alongside two brothers and two sisters, was lured toward radical Islam after he was discharged from jail, after meeting with extremists in the Izards housing project.

"I wake up Muslim. I live Muslim. I eat Muslim. I sleep Muslim," said Merah during his trial, claiming that "democracy is a religion" and that he places "Islamic law above the French constitution."

Does that mean he could use violence against French society?

"Absolutely not," Merah told court President Franck Zientara.

Merah claims that Islam has brought peace to his troubled mind. After what he calls "his conversion," he went to Egypt four times. While prosecutors believe he could have travelled abroad to connect with terror networks — his brother Mohammed met him in Cairo in 2010 — he insists he went there to learn literary Arabic in Qur'anic schools.

Investigators have found dozens of books on Islam at his house, but also a jihadi audio guide recorded by an Al-Qaeda affiliate.

"People say I have mentored my little brother," he said. "But I would have loved him to follow me in my quest for science."

During his trial, Merah has admitted for the first time that his brother was a "terrorist," and said he felt ashamed by his killings. But during a conversation with his mother recorded earlier in jail, he said that Mohammed had offered him "the most beautiful gift."

And if he ever has a son, Abdelkader plans on naming him Mohammed.

"He did what he did, but he remains my little brother," Abdelkader said. "Why should I turn my back on him?"

For Laurence Cechman, a lawyer for the victims' family, there's no doubt that Abdelkader is hiding his true face.

"What a beautiful lesson in taqiyya," she said, using the Arabic word describing strategic lying to non-believers.

Full report at:

https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-10-30/at-french-terror-trial-killers-brother-denies-extremism

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Pakistan

 

No pressure to revoke blasphemy laws: religious affairs minister

October 31, 2017

WASHINGTON: There’s no pressure within Pakistan to revoke the country’s blasphemy laws, although foreign governments and media often demand such a change, says Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Muhammad Yousaf.

Addressing members of the Pakistani-American Press Association at a dinner on Sunday, he also said those who wanted to make Pakistan a secular state were too weak to bring any real pressure.

“Pakistan can never be a secular state,” he declared.

“The blasphemy laws are misunderstood. They are not against non-Muslims,” said the minister, although he did acknowledge that some elements exploited procedural loopholes to register false cases.

“Those loopholes are being plugged. Now a SP-level officer must probe a complaint before a case is registered. Those who misuse these blasphemy laws are proceeded against,” said Sardar Yousaf.

“But no changes are expected in the law itself. The law cannot be revoked. It’s there to stay, as it has a noble aim, to protect beliefs and religious personalities of all faiths, not just Islam,” he added.

The journalists, however, reminded him that the law was misused at a regular basis and often innocent people were targeted to settle personal scores.

The minister said the government was aware of these problems and had taken steps to end the misuse of this law.

Sardar Yousaf said that Pakistani society was different from the rest of the world as it had a state religion and a Constitution that ensured that no law could be made against the Quran and Sunnah.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1367430/no-pressure-to-revoke-blasphemy-laws-religious-affairs-minister

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Govt taking steps to ensure rights for minorities, promotion of inter-faith harmony: Sardar Muhammad Yousaf

OCTOBER 30, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Sardar Muhammad Yousaf has said that the PML-N government is taking all steps to ensure interfaith harmony and all minorities are enjoying full rights in Pakistan.

Sardar Yousaf said that any assertion that minorities are not enjoying rights in Pakistan is a mere propaganda and added that those making such allegations should look at Pakistan’s neighbor India where minorities are facing the worst form of repression.

The Minister referred to the plight of Muslims in India and said they have been killed on mere suspicious of eating cow’s meat.

Here in Pakistan, the Minister said, the government has officially declared 10 holidays for minorities, including Hindus, Buddhist and Christian, to celebrate their holy festivals.

Sardar Yousaf said that some people had forcibly seized the possession of Hindu mandirs in the KPK province, but the government not only vacated the illegal possession but also provided money for its renovation.

He said that the government attaches high priority to the minorities’ rights which is also evident from the fact that the Ministry of Interfaith Harmony and the Religious Affairs has been merged.

Yousaf said that the government has invited some 26 people in 2016 from different faiths to promote harmony among different religions.

The Minister said that government has made efforts to ensure transparency in facilitating and processing of Haj applications and the number of those applying has increased greatly.

He pointed out that when the PML-N government took over in 2013, there were 5,000 less applications against the quota of approx. 57,000 as corruption during the previous regime prevented people from applying for Haj. Now, there are more than 100,000 Haj applications which reflects peoples’ confidence in government’s haj reforms.

Yousaf said that there was no quota for VIP and all those applying were being treated equally. Any VIP who wants to perform Haj can do so privately and the government can also facilitate them, he added.

The Minister said that as many as 36,000 Madrasas have been registered, but there are still thousands others unregistered and the government is making effort to register them.

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/132422/govt-taking-steps-ensure-rights-minorities-promotion-inter-faith-harmony-sardar-muhammad-yousaf/

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Daesh, Al Qaida have no links with Islam: Imam-e-Kaaba

October 30, 2017

According to Radio Pakistan, Imam-e-Kaaba Dr Sheikh Saleh Bin Abdullah Bin Humaid says the terrorist organizations like Daesh and Al-Qaeda had no link or concern with Islam as it is the religion of peace .

In an interview to a private news channel, he said Muslim countries are facing difficulties due to mutual differences and intolerance.

He said sectarianism is like a curse and could be diminished by resolving mutual differences and following Kalma-e-Haq.               

Imam-e-Kaaba pointed out that carrying out Jihad is the responsibility of Islamic state, not of any organization or a group of people.              

He said according to the Holy Quran, killing of one person without any reason would be considered killing of the whole humanity.         

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/30-Oct-2017/daesh-al-qaida-have-no-links-with-islam-imam-e-kaaba

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Senate suspends proceedings to express solidarity with Ahmed Noorani

Oct 31, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Monday suspended the proceedings for eight minutes to express solidarity with Islamabad based senior The News journalist Ahmed Noorani, who was physically tortured by unknown motorcyclists near Zero Point three days ago.

The journalists’ community walked out of the press gallery of Senate against this incident and demanded to arrest the perpetrators of this act.

Following the directions of Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani, the parliamentary leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Mushahidullah Khan, and PPP’s Taj Haider, visited the protesting journalists and tried to convince them for their return in press galleries.

The Senate chairman said that it is an attack on freedom of the press which can’t be allowed. “Such attempts would not be tolerated by the Parliament as we struggled along with journalists for freedom of expression,” he added.

He also said that it is the responsibility of the Parliament to safeguard another pillar of the state, and referred the matter to the Senate Standing Committee on Interior with a direction to report to the House within 20 days.

Raza Rabbani also said that the bill for the protection of journalists should be tabled in both Houses within one month.

Senate Deputy Chairman Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri said that a resolution should be adopted to condemn this incident and police officials of the area should be suspended.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2017/10/30/senate-suspends-proceedings-to-express-solidarity-with-ahmed-noorani/

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Progress and stability of Pakistan

October 31, 2017

Liaqat Baloch

The freedom of Pakistan is a great blessing. The protection of this independence has become a test for the people of Pakistan. Allah Almighty has given us limitless resources. Though, we are gifted with a lot of qualities but at the same time we have several negative aspects; sensationalism, negative trends, and the deterioration of moral values, to name a few. Unfortunately, this negativity has become our temperament in general. There is lack of seriousness, arguments and decency in our society. No doubt, we should be determined and enthusiastic in order to offer the responsibilities and face the challenges. But history shows that the religious and political leaderships which have the qualities of wisdom and tolerance can lead the nation and the country during the crisis.

Pakistan is a country where Muslims are in majority. But there is a minority of non-Muslims too. There are different sects and nations. It is also true that Muslim majority divided into different sects. It is necessary to believe in the ideology of Pakistan. We should also try to implement it. There should be an atmosphere of sympathy and tolerance. Democracy is necessary for the achievement of this objective. For the change of leadership and system not only democracy and elections are required but democratic attitude is also needed. Decency and mutual understanding are the basis of a nation. It is the need of the hour that we should struggle hard instead of accusing each other. No one can deny the fact that a developing nation has to work hard four times more than a developed nation in order to live a life of honour and dignity.

Knowledge and wisdom is a great treasure. This lost treasure can only be found with effort and devotion. People who gained victory over their opponents, they chose the way of dialogue. Major issues can be resolved with a balance attitude and negotiations. We got independence 70 years before and passed through many difficulties. Our country is in a situation that involves danger due to the wrong policies and attitudes of the past, while the countries who got freedom with us, have left us far behind in health, education, democracy and industrial development. Pakistan followed the foreign agenda and bore the loss which cannot be compensated. Now national security, integrity, industrial development, democracy and parliamentary system of the country is in serious danger. If we want to make our country prosperous, we should struggle constantly. We should have patience, consistency, wisdom and passion. We have been deviated from the Islamic principles and the objectives of Pakistan. We have lost our independence, dignity and honour. We are depending on others for everything. IMF and World Bank are making our policies. It seems that we are in a whirlpool. The question is that how can we get rid of this situation?

Senate, Parliament and provincial assemblies present a scene of fish market. There is no legislation. A blame game is continued. Free media is adding fuel to fire. Talk shows are creating a kind of sensationalism and aggression. It appears that the protest against injustice and deprivation is being suppressed. People are disappointed because they do not have basic facilities. They are jobless and feeling themselves insecure. In short, they are empty handed. Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) has ordered that we should not only save ourselves from the atrocities of others but also try to stop those people who are responsible for the atrocity. In democratic system, people vote for their favourite candidates and when they come into power they have two options. Firstly, a candidate can serve the people and the country and earn good reputation in this way. Secondly, he can misuse the power for the fulfilment of his personal interests.

The enemies have challenged us on different fronts. Sometime, they pose a threat to our security. They create a sense of terror, confusion and hopelessness. We have to face these challenges wisely and patiently. I would like to present few suggestions in this regard so that the conditions may improve.

We should take guidance from the Resolution of Objectives for the confidence and unity among the people. Instead of, following the footsteps of others, the constitution of Pakistan should be regarded supreme. We should act upon the ideology of Pakistan completely, if we want to become a nation. There shouldn’t be any difference of opinion about the objectives of the creation of Pakistan.

A consensus should be developed among the different elements of the society. We should find out the reasons for the deterioration. It should be remembered while making the task forces that depressed minds cannot bring any revolution. Durable solution lies in accountability and reformation. Before facing the external enemy, we have to face the internal enemy. We must think that why we are valueless? Though, we are a population of more than 200 billion. Resources, abilities, skills and hard work, all are losing their significance.

The relations between civil and military and other institutions of state are very important for the development and the prosperity of the country. The political and democratic forces should prove their ability, capacity and honesty. These forces should get rid of the corrupt people. The constitution, law, Parliament and other institutions have their domains but it is absolutely strange that powerful sections of society are involved in corruption. They rule in Pakistan but keep their properties in abroad. Democracy is not a guarantee for stability and prosperity in a society. We have to change our plan of action.

People are the basis of democracy. Stability and progress is impossible without the people. They want peace, security, jobs, health and education facilities for their children. National resources should be divided among the people equally. Especially the poor and deprived sections of society want the protection of their rights. Women are the two-third of the population but are still suffering from deprivation of their rights as a citizen. We have to prepare a strategy based on justice and equality for the solution of economic problems of the people.

Perhaps it is the most significant event of our 70 years history that the ruling family is being held accountable for the corruption exposed in Panama Leaks. Every corrupt person should be tried in the court. The nation has filed its case in the Supreme Court for justice.

It is obvious that in a country like Pakistan, parliamentary democracy, constitution and ideology of Pakistan is the real strength. Marshal Law is not a solution to any problem. The democratic process cannot be strengthened with elections only. Elections should be free and fair, so tha, the confidence of the people can be restored.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/31-Oct-2017/progress-and-stability-of-pakistan

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People prone to suicide need help not punishment, Senate debates

Oct 31, 2017

“Those who attempt to commit suicide must be sent to rehabilitation centre so they can receive treatment, instead of being of incarcerated,” said Senator Dr Karim Khawaja on Monday, demanding an end to punishment for attempted suicide as he tabled the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill 2017 in Senate.

However, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani deferred the bill, saying that it could not be passed without the approval of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII).

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Rehman Malik endorsed the said bill, observing that people attempt suicide due to depression and need treatment [instead of penalisation].

Another senator, Taj Haider, also put his oar in, claiming that people attempt to commit suicide because the state has failed them. “We need to change the environment which makes our young generation think that suicide is their only option,” he said.

On the other hand, Law Minister Zahid Hamid declared matter “sensitive”, saying that since suicide is forbidden in Islam the bill must be sent to the relevant committee, CII, for deliberations before the house passes it.

The otherwise reformist Senate chairman echoed Hamid’s words, saying that the bill cannot be passed without the consent of the CII.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2017/10/30/people-prone-to-suicide-need-help-not-punishment-senate-debates/

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China may block Indian bid to blacklist Masood Azhar

October 31, 2017

BEIJING: China on Monday signalled it would again block an Indian request at the United Nations to blacklist the head of a Pakistani militant group because there was no consensus, a move likely to cause recrimination in New Delhi.

India, backed by the United States, has been trying to get Maulana Masood Azhar on a UN list of groups with ties to Al Qaeda, blaming his group for a series of attacks in India, including one on its parliament in 2002 and another last year on an airbase.

But China, a member of the UN Security Council, has repeatedly put a technical hold on the Indian request, the latest of which is due to end this week.

Such decisions must be based on cast-iron evidence and fully backed by members of the UN panel charged with implementing resolutions relating to sanctions on militant groups and individuals, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1367432/china-may-block-indian-bid-to-blacklist-masood-azhar

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Pakistan seeks new US deal after returning nine choppers

Anwar Iqbal

October 31, 2017

WASHINGTON: Pakistan is trying to reacquire an unspecified number of helicopters from the United States for anti-narcotics operations after returning nine Huey II helicopters it had acquired in 2002, diplomatic sources said on Monday.

Earlier in the day, Pakistan returned five of the nine helicopters it had received almost 15 years ago. The ministry of interior, which was using the aircraft, returned four of these nine rotary-wing helicopters on Oct 15.

Pakistan had received a total of 12 aircraft — including three fixed-wing Cessna airplanes — from the United States for anti-narcotics operations in Fata and Balochistan. Since the area is also used by militants for carrying out operations along the Pak-Afghan border, the aircraft reported their activities as well, when observed. Primary purpose of the aircraft, however, was to monitor smuggling of narcotics as the region is connected to a major drug-route.

Also read: US firm lobbied for and against Pakistan over F-16s

The aircraft were acquired under a renewable agreement and after the expiry of that agreement, Pakistan had the option to either return the aircraft or buy them. Although the United States urged Pakistan to ‘nationalise’ the helicopters after the agreement expired, the ministry of interior decided to return them, instead of buying them for continued use.

The ministry, however, purchased the three Cessna airplanes that came with the choppers.

The Americans, who received the remaining five aircraft on Monday, have already made “redirection” arrangements — selling it to a third party — so Pakistan cannot re-buy those helicopters. Instead, Pakistan will have to renegotiate a fresh deal.

But diplomatic sources, who spoke to Dawn, say that it should not be difficult to do so as both American and Pakistani officials acknowledge a direct link between narcotics and terrorism financing, Washington believes that stopping drug-trade in this region will also help reduce terrorism.

Pakistan renewed its interest in acquiring the choppers after the recent change of leadership in the interior ministry. The decision to return the helicopters was taken by the former interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, while the new minister, Ahsan Iqbal, concluded that the ministry needs them to monitor the drug route, which is also used by the militants.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1367382/pakistan-seeks-new-us-deal-after-returning-nine-choppers

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FC personnel martyred in blast in South Waziristan's Sarokai area

Ali Akbar

October 30, 2017

One Frontier Corps personnel was martyred while another was injured in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in the Sarokai district of South Waziristan on Monday, official said.

According to a political administration official in the area, the soldiers were on routine patrol when a hidden IED exploded near the Gurguray checkpost in Sarokai.

Security forces have cordoned off the area.

South Waziristan is one of the seven semi-autonomous tribal areas, where the army has for more than a decade been battling militants linked to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

The army launched an operation in June 2014 in neighbouring North Waziristan to wipe out militant bases in the tribal areas and end an insurgency that has cost thousands of civilian lives since 2004.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1367247/fc-personnel-martyred-in-blast-in-south-waziristans-sarokai-area

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Call for revival of Sir Syed’s ideology

October 31, 2017

Wah cantt - The second Board of Governors of Sir Syed Education Foundation of Pakistan stressed the need for revival of the ideology of greatest Muslim reformer and statesman of the 19th Century, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan.          

The Board of Governors session which was held here was presided over by Dr Sarfaraz Khan, Patron area study centre University of Peshawar and attended by Tahir Durrani, President Sir Syed Education Foundation. It was attended by Qazi Zahoor Ul Haq Chief education officer district Rawalpindi, Raja Ghias Ud Din Balbun former director General Election commission of Pakistan, Dr Riffat Aziz, member district council Peshawar, Professor Zia Ul Mustafa Urdu department Cadet College Hassanabdal, Nadia Saeed English department University of Wah and Abrar Ahmed Khan divisional president All Pakistan Private Schools Management Association (APPSMA).

The speakers said it is time that the youth is prepared to meet challenges in the field of science and technology to meet the global changes. The speakers praised the achievements of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan such as the establishment of Anglo- Muhammadan School. Sir Syed validated the importance of scientific and English education besides a religious one for Muslims which gave birth to new generation of Muslims intellectuals in India.

They emphasized the importance of safeguarding cultural values, while also equipping the youth with modern education to enable them to meet challenges at educational, ideological, and social front.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/31-Oct-2017/call-for-revival-of-sir-syed-s-ideology

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Mufti Qavi behind Qandeel’s murder, father alleges in court

OCTOBER 30, 2017

LAHORE:  Qandeel Baloch’s father Muhammad Azeem once again blamed Mufti Abdul Qavi for the murder of his daughter.

Qandeel’s parents, Azeem and Anwar Bibi, reiterated their allegations against Mufti Qavi in the court of Judicial Magistrate Pervaiz Khan hearing the Qandeel’s murder case on Monday in Multan. Mufti Qavi was also present in the court.

Qandeel, a social media personality was murdered in 2016 by his brother Waseem allegedly in the name of honour. However, Qavi’s name had also been included in the case on the request of Qandeel’s father.

Qavi is currently under police custody as his plea for pre-arrest bail has been dismissed by the court earlier this month.

In today’s hearing Azeem said that he would not forgive anyone who was involved in his daughter’s murder.

He went on to say that the person behind Qandeel’s murder was Mufti Abdul Qavi.

However, Qavi denied all the allegations against him and said that he had done nothing illegal.

Investigating Officer Asif Shahzad assured the court that police was likely to get the results of a polygraph test conducted on Mutfi Qavi soon. He also requested to grant a three-day extension in the cleric’s physical remand.

Qavi’s lawyer maintained that the report of polygraph test had no legal value adding that no further extension in the remand was required.

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/132449/mufti-qavi-behind-qnadeels-murder-father-alleges-court/

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Southeast Asia

 

Newly banned Islamic books contain undesirable, harmful teachings: MCI

BY FARIS MOKHTAR

OCTOBER 30, 2017

SINGAPORE — On the same day that two Islamic preachers have been barred from setting foot in Singapore, the authorities also announced that four Islamic books — all from Indonesia — have been banned here as they contain “undesirable and harmful teachings” which have the potential to sow discord between Muslims and non-Muslims.

In a statement on Monday (Oct 30), the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) said that the teachings found in the books — published in Jakarta between 2011 and 2016 — can cause “social distancing, distrust, hatred and even violence among people of different faiths and religious views”.

With the ban to take effect from Tuesday (Oct 31), it will be an offence to distribute the books, have them in possession, or come into possession of those publications but failed to hand them over to the police. Those convicted could face a fine, jail term or both.

Communications and Information Minister Dr Yaacob Ibrahim said the government “strongly condemns” the use of such publications to “espouse destructive ideologies and promote enmity between communities”.

“We will not hesitate to take firm actions where necessary. But we cannot do this alone. We need the support of everyone to safeguard Singapore against extremism by staying alert to radical individuals or teachings and reporting them to the authorities,” he added.

Separately, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) also denounced those books as propagating “problematic religious positions” which are extremely exclusivist.

After conducting a thorough assessment of the books, Muis said in a statement on Monday that they contravene the code of ethics under the Asatizah Recognition Scheme (ARS).

The publications, it added, are “contrary to the ethos of the Singaporean Muslim identity and diametrically opposed to the progressive and inclusive religious outlook of the Singapore Muslim community”.

“Muis found that the publications advocate problematic religious positions that are extremely exclusivist in nature as well as dangerous because they clearly promote enmity, strife and potentially violence between Muslims and non-Muslims, and attack the modern, democratic nation-state,” said the statement.

The ARS recognises religious teachers and scholars who meet the minimum standards of qualification to preach and teach Islam in Singapore.

Among others, the ARS code of ethics require religious teachers to adhere to moderate Islamic teachings as well as exhibit a sound grasp of religious knowledge while being mindful of contextual considerations in the interpretation of religious teachings.

Muis noted that the authors of the books have presented a “binary view of the world” that presents Islam and Muslims as at odds against those who are not part of the religion.

Instead of contextualising their analysis and interpretation of Islamic teachings to the modern world, the books project a “simplistic, inward-looking and skewed understanding of Islam”, it added.

Pointing out that the books do not promote a peaceful, moderate understanding and practice of Islam in multi-cultural societies, Muis said: “This, in the long run, may lead to an insular, exclusive Muslim community that seeks to isolate themselves rather than integrate with the larger society.”

The move to ban the four books comes five months after the authorities prohibited nine publications by Singaporean preacher Mr Rasul Dahri, who had also his application for the ARS rejected by the Asatizah Recognition Board.

Announcing this earlier in June, the MCI had said Mr Rasul’ books contain extremist views, including remarks denigrating other religious groups. And in some publications, he rejects the idea of a secular state and calls on Muslims to establish an Islamic state.

http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/newly-banned-islamic-books-contain-undesirable-harmful-teachings-mci

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Japan offers Philippines aid for fighting terrorism, rebuilding

Oct 30, 2017

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte won pledges from Japan of help with fighting terrorism and assistance in building the country's crumbling infrastructure, as he met with Japan's prime minister on Monday during a visit to Tokyo.

Japan promised its support in the reconstruction of the strife-torn southern Philippine city of Marawi. A military campaign recently ended a five-month siege of the city by Daesh-aligned militants that left more than 1,100 combatants and civilians dead.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed the liberation of Marawi and gave credit to Duterte's leadership.

"I express my heartfelt respect for President Duterte's leadership on the recent declaration of liberation in Marawi," Abe said. "We will provide full support for (the Philippines') counter-terrorism effort and steps to ensure peace and stability" in the region.

The two leaders also agreed to cooperate on various projects, including a subway system for metropolitan Manila, the traffic-jammed capital, energy development, maritime safety and the Philippines' fight against drugs and drug trafficking. The two sides are now laying out project details under a 1 trillion yen ($9 billion) assistance package spanning five years that Japan had pledged earlier this year.

Duterte said he chose Japan as the destination of his first official overseas trip after Marawi's liberation.

"The true friend of us stood squarely behind the Philippines in my country's onward advance at greater peace, progress and prosperity," Duterte said.

He praised Japan for its support and thanked Abe for his pledge of help in rebuilding Marawi and the surrounding region "in a timely manner."

The siege in the southern Philippines displaced some 400,000 residents, including the entire population of Marawi. Military airstrikes, artillery and heavy machine gun fire turned the lakeside city's central business district and outlying communities into a smoldering wasteland of disfigured buildings and bullet-pocked mosques and houses.

The assistance from Tokyo also includes 15.9 billion yen ($140 million) in low-interest financing for a water management project in the Philippines' flood-prone Cavite province, and another 100 billion yen ($880 million) for the Manila subway, Japan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Japan is also providing patrol boats and speed boats for the Philippine coast guard and financing training programs to step up its security capacity in the region.

Before leaving the Philippines for Tokyo late Sunday, Duterte said he hoped to discuss concerns over North Korea with Abe and declared that someone should talk to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, reassure him that nobody is out to remove him or destroy his country, and ask him to stop threatening attacks.

"You must remember that he is a leader of his people," Duterte said, adding that "whatever he proclaims himself to be, somebody has got to talk to him."

"So, if somebody could just reach out, talk to him and say, 'My friend, why don't you just join me in the table and we'll just talk about these things?'" Duterte told reporters in the southern Philippine city of Davao. "Nobody's talking to him."

Duterte echoed US President Donald Trump in saying he believes China has the greatest leverage with Pyongyang, a longtime Beijing ally. And he expressed concern over the potential for dangerous missteps in the standoff with North Korea over its nuclear program.

"We are worried, all of us, that you know, Murphy's Law, 'If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong.'"

On Monday, Duterte condemned North Korea for threatening peace and stability in the region with its repeated missile launches, urging Pyongyang and other involved parties to return to negotiations to resolve the problem.

Apart from his talks with government officials in Tokyo, Duterte met with Japanese business leaders earlier Monday and will have an audience with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko before heading home Tuesday. He told reporters that he wants to express his respect for Akihito and thank him for his visit to the Philippines last year.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/10/30/540383/Philippines-Japan-Duterte-Abe-terrorism-Marawi-Daesh

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2 Muslim preachers banned from Singapore

Oct 31, 2017

Two foreign Islamic preachers have been banned from entering Singapore because of their intolerant and divisive views.

This followed news that Mr Ismail Menk of Zimbabwe and Mr Haslin Baharim of Malaysia are scheduled to take part in a five-day Islamic cruise from Singapore next month.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a statement yesterday: "They are detrimental to our society and way of life, and will undermine the fundamentals of Singapore's peace and progress."

Last month, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam criticised Mr Menk for his extremist views.

Mr Menk had preached that it is "the biggest sin and crime" for a Muslim to wish those of other faiths "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Deepavali", said MHA.

Mr Haslin, who also calls himself Ustaz Bollywood, has described non-Muslims as "deviant", said MHA.

He has advocated that non-Muslims should be made subservient to Muslims in multi-cultural and multi-religious societies.

In deciding to ban them, the ministry consulted the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), Singapore Tourism Board, and Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.

Muis, which assesses applications for foreign preachers to speak in Singapore, said it did not support the men's applications.

"Muis finds that these teachings clearly contravene the code of ethics (under the Asatizah Recognition Scheme) and run counter to the values Singaporean Muslims uphold dearly that can contribute to a progressive and thriving religious life in Singapore," it said in a statement.

The two had previously had their applications to preach in Singapore rejected.

Last month, two Christian preachers, who had made inflammatory comments on other religions, were also rejected from speaking in Singapore.

Mr Menk and Mr Haslin are among several religious leaders engaged by Malaysian company Pelayaran Islamik to speak at a religious-themed cruise departing Singapore on Nov 25 and returning on Nov 29, according to its website.

"They will not be allowed to get around the ban by preaching instead on cruise ships, which operate to and from Singapore," said MHA.

The company has been promoting the cruise since June on Facebook. When TNP called the company at 4pm yesterday, a receptionist said the manager had left for the day.

A spokesman for AQ Travel & Tours, one of three tour agencies in Singapore listed on Pelayaran Islamik's website, said it was thecompany's first tour in Singapore, and it would be conducted in English.

He said there had been few inquiries and no bookings so far.

The other two agencies said they had stopped offering the cruise.

Ustaz Zahid Zin, a co-founder of Muslim Youth Forum, denounced Mr Menk's and Mr Haslin's preachings for being "on the exclusivist side" and "ignoring the context of living in Singapore".

Noting that not wishing people of other faiths well during religious festivals is incompatible with Singapore's religious harmony, he said: "It is not right for someone to create more division when we really need to build more bridges."

Full report at:

http://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore/2-muslim-preachers-banned-singapore

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Security Issues: Combating Islamic Radicalism In China

October 30, 2017

Chinese raids on training camps in Xinjiang and other counter-terrorism measures have resulted in the killing of several terrorist suspects. The raids which are said to have provided new evidence of ties to international terrorist forces are proof of the growing intractability of the conflict between Uyghur Muslim separatists and Beijing, a crisis that poses serious threats to China’s mainland stability. For Beijing, instability in Xinjiang could also bring instability to Tibet, Inner Mongolia, and Taiwan. Background Causes of the Conflict

As with many of these disputes throughout Asia, the root causes of the problem are a complex mix of history, ethnicity, and religion, fueled by poverty, unemployment, social disparities, and political grievances.  The central government has gone through several waves regarding the treatment of religion and ethnicity within the territory of the People’s Republic of China.  Historically, ethnic minorities that are adherents to religions other than Chinese Buddhism raised fears of social unrest in China.  For instance in the nineteenth century, the Taiping Rebellion—including the Hakka subgroup and Zhuang minorities—and the Hui Minorities War both had their roots in religious movements.  The Hui, ethnically Chinese but religiously Muslim, are a unique minority in China. The ethnic minorities and Muslim majority in Xinjiang, which means the “New Territories” in Chinese, were largely conquered and integrated into the Chinese state in the 1750s.  Xinjiang became a province in 1884, fixing a firm western border with Russia.

According to the noted historian Jonathan D. Spence, the Xinjiang region was not initially colonized or settled, but was maintained as a strategic frontier zone, with up to 20,000 Manchu and Chinese banner garrisons, at a huge annual cost. The largely Muslim inhabitants kept their own religious leaders, who were bound by salaries and titles to the Qing state (China). After the dissolution of the Qing Dynasty, the last Chinese dynasty, the Republic of China’s Nationalists gradually saw the country fall into Japanese occupied territories and warlord fiefdoms, including Xinjiang, which was ruled by an autonomous military governor who nervously sought aid and sponsorship first from Soviet Russia and then from the Nationalists, before ultimately surrendering to the Communists in Xinjiang in September 1949.

Although initially declaring the People’s Republic of China as a multinational state in 1949, the Communist Party’s Anti Rightist Policy of 1957 opposed “local nationalism” among ethnic minorities and clamped down on religions.  A decade later, the harsh Cultural Revolution (1966-76) saw many even greater injustices against ethnic minorities.  Religion was especially suppressed, but so was ethnic language, cultural cuisines and garb.  The Uyghur in Xinjiang, like other Muslim minorities throughout China, saw their religious texts and mosques destroyed, their religious leaders persecuted, and individual adherents punished.  With the more open policies of the late 1970s through the early 1990s, restrictions on minorities and religions began to loosen.  This opening resulted in more minorities speaking out against what were seen as discriminatory economic, religious, and political practices.  The Chinese government began to crack down in Xinjiang in 1996, shortly after the first meeting of the Shanghai Five, soon to be the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, whose members include Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.

In addition to police and military crackdowns, Beijing believes that economic development can undermine Uyghur calls for independence and solve Xinjiang’s problems. And economically, Xinjiang has dramatically improved relative to its economy of a decade ago, although it still lags behind the industrialized coastal areas. However, the very improvements attributed to economic enhancement open China to risk in Xinjiang. For example, as part of its development plans, Beijing is connecting Xinjiang to Central Asia through roads, rails and pipelines to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. But these very openings are exposing Xinjiang directly to Islamic militant training and arms as well as the drug trade emanating from these countries and beyond.

State Responses

The response from Beijing has been officially reasonable, but less so in practice.  In September 1999, National Minorities Policy and Its Practice in China was released by the Office of the State Council.  The policy outlines a fairly generous policy toward minorities.[10] The problem, of course, is always in the actual adherence to policy in real life situations where minorities are often viewed with various preconceived notions of race and ethnicity.  Open tolerance of minorities declined further in Xinjiang after September 11, 2001, when China felt it was now both internationally permissible to “crack down” on separatists in Xinjiang and nationally more urgent to protect its porous borders from an influx of more violent forms of Islam, borders which abut Afghanistan as well as Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.

Chinese central government policies are also reflected in recent policy statements.  For instance, at the May 2006 meeting of the Chinese National Islamic Council, Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress, urged Islamic leaders in China to play a positive role in building a “harmonious society.” The message reflects the Chinese government’s perceived connection between Muslims, many of whom are also ethnic minorities in China, and social unrest. According to Ye Xiaowen, Director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, “As Chinese Muslims advance with the nation, this is our response to the many turbid misunderstandings that tarnish the Muslim image: Islam is a peace-loving religion.  Chinese Muslims love peace, oppose turmoil and separatism, advocate tolerance and harmony, and treasure unity and stability.”

Clearly the Chinese government has been cracking down on Uyghur militants. Western human rights groups are concerned about overall treatment of prisoners and the targeting of minorities, while the Chinese government is concerned that Islamic militant rhetoric and funding are finding their way into China. The issue then becomes whether China is victimizing the Uyghur minority, using terrorism and separatism as an excuse to violate their human rights, or whether China itself is a victim of separatists and terror networks like the al-Qaeda camps, which trained Uyghurs in Afghanistan for activities in Xinjiang. The Chinese tend to refer to this concern by the three character slogan of separatism, extremism and terrorism, implying a distinct link between the three concepts.  For instance, Chinese President Hu Jintao said on June 17, 2004, that “We have to fight against the three evils of separatism, extremism and terrorism,” in a speech at a summit meeting of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), adding that terrorism in all forms must be suppressed and double standards must be ruled out in fighting what is regarded as a grave threat to world peace and development. Efforts should be made to tackle the problems of regional confrontation and poverty, which are considered the roots of terrorism, said the Chinese president. “Terrorism is not automatically related to certain ethnic groups or religions,” he added. It is clear that the Chinese leadership fears that Xinjiang separatism has and will continue to gain support from transnational Muslim extremists, with possible ramifications both for other latent Chinese separatist movements without a Muslim connection and for other Chinese Muslims without a separatist agenda.

The central government’s policies on separatists include the use of force, certainly evident in Xinjiang, For example, in August 2001, the Chinese military undertook large-scale exercises in Xinjiang with an imposing parade of military hardware through the center of the city of Kashgar.  The Xinjiang exercises, which were spread over almost a month, reportedly involved 50,000 troops, one of the largest ever staged by the Chinese in the region, featuring dozens of armored personnel vehicles, tanks, and camouflaged trucks filled with troops, capped off by a flyover of fighter jets. The parade was presided over by General Fu Quanyou, then chief of general staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and a member of the Central Military Commission. A number of other generals and senior officers, based at the Lanzhou military region which co-ordinates defense in Xinjiang, also sat on the podium to view the parade. The use of domestic force is possible partly because of the existing international war on terrorism, the prevailing perception of the linkages between terrorism and separatism, the general regional reluctance to condone ethnic separatism, and the global concern that religion is mixing with both terrorism and separatism.

Economic incentives, however, may well be the largest tool in the central government’s policies toward Xinjiang and the Uyghurs, especially the Western Development policies. The western regions, over half of China’s vast expanse of land with its highlands and deserts, are made up of six provinces and three autonomous regions, including Xinjiang. The Western Development policies were first an economic development strategy to reduce poverty and then an urgent social necessity of Chinese leaders. In the early 1980s, then-leader Deng Xiaoping developed a policy to first develop the eastern coastal regions, which already had a better economic foundation than the western regions, and then second to increase the development of the western regions after the development of the eastern regions reached a certain point. In the following decades the poverty gap between eastern and western China widened, resulting in Beijing’s creation in June 1999 of a leading group responsible for the development of the western regions with Premier Zhu Rongji and 17 ministerial-level officials as members. The attempt to use economic tools to address ethnic separatism in Xinjiang reflects the Chinese government’s long-standing belief that most peoples, Uyghurs included, primarily want a good economic life for themselves and their children.

The current Chinese government, under President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, is acutely aware of the challenges and dangers that lesser development in the western regions like Xinjiang means for not only China’s overall continued prosperity, but also for political stability, the possible enticements of Islamic extremism, and the calls for ethnic separatism. In 2006, Wang Jinxiang, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, assured the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) that the national strategy to develop the country’s western region had made great progress. He said that a total of one trillion yuan (US$125 B) has been spent building infrastructure in western China with an annual average regional economic growth rate of 10.6 percent for six years in a row. China, continuing with its transportation infrastructure projects, will build twelve new highways in Xinjiang to connect with Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Pakistan. The longest road will stretch 1,680 kilometers from Xinjiang to Uzbekistan, Iran, Turkey, and finally reach Europe, scheduled for completion before 2010. Other infrastructure projects either significantly underway or completed as of 2007 are: a south-to-north water diversion, a west-to-east natural gas transfer, a west-to-east power transmission and the completed Qinghai-Tibet Railway.

The underlying idea is that if the western regions, most notably Xinjiang, have sufficient development, then the minorities will prosper, be less restive, give less support for separatist  activities, and be more integrated into the fortunes—both economic and political—of China.  A complicating factor that has become manifest along with this economic development has been migration into the western regions, primarily of Han (or majority) Chinese.  Not only is this making the western regions more ethnically Chinese, but also it is reinforcing the “minority” status of the Uyghurs, who watch the better paying jobs go to Han Chinese while the harder labor, poorer paying positions are given to Uyghurs. The other ethnic groups living in Xinjiang—Kazaks, Hui, Kirgiz, Mongols, and others—have more mixed feelings about Han money and people moving into the region.

In addition to the national Western Development policies, there are the provincial and local policies in Xinjiang.  As in many places, politics are local in China.  While it would be a mistake to underestimate the importance of Muslim status and politics inside of China, with a Muslim population of approximately 20 million, there is a decidedly regional, provincial and ethnic character to Islam in China as well. China’s ten Muslim ethnic minorities usually find common cause only when they feel an issue denigrates Islam, as was the case with the offensive Danish cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammed. The largest group, the Hui who have blended fairly well into Chinese society, regard some Uyghurs as unpatriotic separatists who give other Chinese Muslims a bad name. The Hui “don’t tend to get too involved in international Islamic conflict,” said Dr. Dru Gladney, a scholar of Chinese ethnic minorities. “They don’t want to be branded as radical Muslims.”

The local perception of groups as radical Muslims or ethnic separatists can have severe consequences. Provincial policies also include the threat of force. Armed police held a large-scale anti-terror exercise in Xinjiang on August 30, 2005. In the exercise, special police forces fought and subdued a group of “armed terrorists” who took over a company building and held some people as hostages following a failed attack at a prison.

There are mixed policy assessments in the Xinjiang region itself regarding the Uyghurs. On the one hand, deputy secretary of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region committee of the Chinese Communist Party and a Han Chinese, Zhang Xiuming, implied that separatism and terrorism in Xinjiang is an issue when he said, “We need to take the initiative and go on the offensive, crack down on gangs as soon as they surface and strike the first blow. We must absolutely not permit the three vicious forces to build organizations, have ringleaders, control weapons and develop an atmosphere. We need to destroy them one by one as we discover them and absolutely not allow them to build up momentum.”  On the other hand, the Chair of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region government and a Uyghur Chinese, Ismael Tiliwaldi, implied something quite different, when he said, “In Xinjiang, not one incident of explosion or assassination took place in the last few years….Last year Xinjiang’s public security situation was very good…”

It is clear nonetheless that both the central government and the provincial authorities broadly fall on the side of avoiding becoming a victim of terrorist or separatist activities when it comes to the question of whether China is victimizing the Uyghur minority or whether China itself is a victim of Uyghur militants.  For instance, following the mass protests and violent riots of April 1990 in Baren township, there were further Uyghur demonstrations and disturbances in various cities including Yining, Khotan and Aksu in the mid-1990s.  This was followed by the Chinese government response: the initiation of a “strike hard” campaign against crime throughout China in 1996 which made Uyghurs and separatists in Xinjiang a key target. After the forceful suppression of a demonstration by Uyghurs in the city of Yining in February 1997, several days of serious unrest reigned in the city. A renewed national “strike hard” campaign against crime was initiated in April 2001 and has never formally been brought to a close. Several levels of police conspicuously and daily patrolled the Uyghur sections of Urumqi in 2007; Han police officers patrolled the streets in a six-man formation wearing black uniforms and black flack jackets, armed with batons and side arms.

China’s official statement on “East Turkestan terrorists” published in January 2002 listed several groups allegedly responsible for violence, including the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), the East Turkistan Liberation Organization (ETLO), the Islamic Reformist Party ‘Shock Brigade’, the East Turkestan Islamic Party, the East Turkestan Opposition Party, the East Turkestan Islamic Party of Allah, the Uyghur Liberation Organization, the Islamic Holy Warriors and the East Turkestan International Committee. There is not always clarity in the way these groups are officially labeled nor do these groups seem to stay static. For instance, in 1997, the Uyghurstan Liberation Front and the United National Revolutionary Front of East Turkestan (UNRF) overcame their differences and joined together in a jihad in Xinjiang. The UNRF fears Uyghurs who agree with China, and announced that it had assassinated an imam of the mosque in Kashgar in 1996 because of his pro-China views. When China destroyed an Islamist camp in Xinjiang in January 2007, killing 18 suspected terrorists and capturing 17 others, a police spokeswoman, Ba Yan, said the training camp was run by ETIM.

Some of the issues between Uyghurs and the Chinese government, however, seem unrelated to separatist issues.  In another recent incident, hundreds of Uyghurs protested outside government offices over plans to push them off their farmlands to build a dam, according to a Chinese police official and Radio Free Asia. Police arrested at least 16 protesters in Xinjiang’s Yili county, the site of clashes between security forces and Uyghurs in 1997. The June 2004 protests began outside the offices of a reservoir and hydropower station planned for the local Tekas River, according to U.S.-based Radio Free Asia. Authorities plan to move about 18,000 farmers, forestry workers and herders to make way for the reservoir, but protesters said they’ve been paid only 880 yuan (about US$100) out of 38,000 yuan (US$4,600) promised to them, the station said, citing anonymous witnesses. An officer at Tekas County police headquarters confirmed the June 11, 2004, protest, saying, “The protest was big. People don’t want to move because they aren’t satisfied with the amount of compensation for resettlement.”

International Responses

It is less clear how the international community stands on this question of whether China is victimizing the Uyghur minority or whether China itself is a victim of Uyghur militants. A report produced in December 2001 by the US Congressional Research Service, for instance, documented a number of armed groups operating in the region. Its list of armed groups included: the United Revolutionary Front of Eastern Turkestan, the Organization for the Liberation of Uighurstan, the Wolves of Lop Nor, the Xinjiang Liberation Organization, the Uighur Liberation Organization, the Home of East Turkestan Youth and the Free Turkestan Movement. Pakistan also considers several of these organizations as terrorist or militant separatist organizations.

The US did agree in 2002 to specifically single out ETIM as a terrorist organization in response to a planned attack on the US Embassy in neighboring Kyrgyzstan. Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage announced that ETIM had been added to a State Department list of terrorist groups, freezing its assets in the United States, saying the group “committed acts of violence against unarmed civilians without any regard for who was hurt.” A spokesman for the embassy went further, accusing ETIM of working with Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network and “planning attacks against U.S. interests abroad, including the U.S. Embassy in Kyrgyzstan.” ETIM’s leader and China’s most-wanted terrorist, Hasan Mahsum, who was later killed by Pakistani forces on October 2, 2003, said, “We don’t have any organizational contact or relations with al Qaeda or the Taliban…. Maybe some individuals fought alongside them on their own.” Two suspected ETIM members were deported to China from Kyrgyzstan in May 2002 for planning terrorist attacks. The Kyrgyz government has identified the men as Mamet Yasyn and Mamet Sadyk and said they were planning attacks on embassies, markets and public gathering places in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

However, the US has declined to formally add another Uyghur organization, ETLO, to its list. In a Radio Free Asia interview, conducted on 24 January 2003, the leader of ETLO, Mehmet Emin Hazret reportedly stated, “Our principle [sic] goal is to achieve independence for East Turkestan by peaceful means. But to show our enemies and friends our determination on the East Turkestan issue, we view a military wing as inevitable.” Regarding other Uyghur militants, Chinese officials asked the United States to return Chinese Uyghurs captured fighting in Afghanistan. The United States has rejected China’s claims and in May 2006 released five Uyghurs to Albania, a neutral third country, while continuing to hold thirteen more Chinese Uyghurs in the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay. Lawyers for these thirteen Uyghurs say the men were moved to Guantanamo Bay’s high-security facility, while the U.S. Government does not comment on enemy combatants held in Guantanamo.

Pakistan, both a neighbor and friend of China, has taken a more stringent line toward Uyghurs, closer to the policies of most Central Asian neighbors. China and Pakistan agreed to enter into an extradition treaty to facilitate the exchange of prisoners in 2003. Ismail Kadir, reported to be the third highest leader of ETIM, was returned to China in March 2002 following his capture by Pakistani authorities reportedly in either Kashmir or in the city of Rawalpindi, northern Pakistan, home to a sizeable community of Uyghurs. In Pakistan, a senior Interior Ministry official confirmed Kadir’s repatriation to China, saying the man had been arrested in March. “He was sent back to China after being interrogated,” the official said giving no further details. Ismail Semed, allegedly another Uyghur ETIM founder, was executed in Urumqi after being deported from Pakistan where he had fled after serving two jail terms for alleged involvement in the violent Baren uprising in 1990. Semed was convicted in October 2005 of “attempting to split the motherland” and the possession of firearms and explosives. And Pakistani troops reportedly killed Hasan Mahsum, yet another ETIM leader, in the South Waziristan region of Pakistan on 2 October 2003. Pakistan President Musharraf stated during his November 2003 visit to Beijing that “his country will never allow anybody, including the terrorist force of ‘East Turkestan’, to use the territory of Pakistan to carry out any form of anti-China activities.” Thousands of Uyghurs reportedly travel to and from Pakistan for business and religious purposes, particularly to study in Pakistan’s madrassas. China believes that more than 1,000 Uyghurs were trained by bin Laden’s forces in Afghanistan, with approximately 110 returning to China, about 300 allegedly captured or killed by U.S. forces, and about 600 escaping to northern Pakistan. In addition, some reports suggest that Uyghurs have been trained in unofficial Pakistan militant training camps.

This combination of ethnicity and religion also involves the Uyghur population resident in Central Asia who are associated with the movement of religious and political ideologies, weapons, and individuals.  Uyghurs are often viewed with a great deal of leeriness in Central Asia.  Uyghur separatists within Xinjiang drew inspiration and envy from their Central Asian neighbors’ independence after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and they increased their movement toward a separate Uyghur state. Militant Uyghur groups exploited Xinjiang’s porous border with Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan to establish training camps outside of China’s reach as well as to move explosives and small arms into China.  Additionally, it is much easier for citizens of surrounding countries to serendipitously travel into China. “This year, we have arrested 19 people from abroad who were sent to Xinjiang for violent sabotage,’” Xinjiang Communist Party Secretary Wang Lequan told reporters at a news conference in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi. “When they entered the territory of Xinjiang, we immediately caught them,” Wang said without elaboration.

The very rapid growth of economic relations and connecting infrastructure between China and Central Asian countries has also enabled the enhanced movement of ideas, weapons and people. There are roughly a half million Uyghurs in Central Asia.  Most of the Central Asian governments, notably Kyrgyzstan, have made several attempts to crack down on Uyghurs whom they view as undesirable or militant. There is a tendency to view Uyghurs with suspicion—they are frequently unemployed and thus seen as thieves and troublemakers as well as harboring discontent toward their host governments. Uyghurs in Central Asian countries often join hands with other dissident groups, united by the global Islamic resurgence. For instance, Uzbek leaders believe that ethnic Uyghurs from Central Asia and China are members of the terrorist organization known as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). Since the beginning of 2005, there has been a wave of “election-related turmoil” or so-called “Color Revolutions” in Central Asia, with terrorist and extremist forces often funded from outside and uniting religious extremists with political dissidents against authoritarian governments. Afghanistan has witnessed the resurgence of Taliban and al Qaeda in the wake of a new wave of terrorist attacks following the Iraq War. More severely, Hizb-ut-Tahrir and other extremist groups are quickly winning popular support in Central Asia, particularly in the poverty-stricken Fergana countryside, bespeaking a reemerging grim security situation in the region that poses new challenges to both Central Asian countries and China.

Energy

Although most experts would agree that the primary issues at stake in Xinjiang are ethnic separatism and Muslim extremism, the issue of energy is not negligible.  Not only does Xinjiang have considerable energy resources in terms of gas and oil, in addition to its former role as the Chinese nuclear test grounds, but also Xinjiang is the gateway to Central Asian energy resources.  China is pursuing pipeline deals with its oil rich neighbors in Central Asia, as well as Russia, to help meet the booming economy’s demand for energy.

China and Kazakhstan started energy cooperation in 1997, marked by an intergovernmental agreement covering diverse means of collaboration in oil and gas fields, including an oil pipeline between western Kazakhstan and China’s Xinjiang. The transnational Atasu pipeline was completed in November 2005. The deal, signed in 2004, came as Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev and President Hu Jintao signed a broad agreement for joint exploration and development of oil and gas resources in the Caspian Sea. The two sides also are stepping up consideration of plans for a natural gas pipeline to connect gas fields in the Caspian Sea with China. Kazakhstan and China signed an agreement to build up international passenger and freight rail transport, as part of an effort to boost trade and complete routes through Kazakhstan to Europe.  A China-Kazakhstan rail link opened in 1992. Additionally, China and Kazakhstan have opened a free trade zone at their mutual border to further enhance their already rapidly growing economic relationship.

Gas pipelines from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to China are also in the works. These pipelines, if connected with the Xinjiang-Shanghai gas pipeline, will also contribute to the implementation of China’s Western Development policies. Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov, now deceased, and Chinese President Hu Jintao signed a framework agreement on oil and gas cooperation on April 3, 2006, including a Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline to be commissioned in 2009. Turkmenistan’s gas reserves are considered to be the largest in Central Asia. These developments usher in new energy cooperation between China and Central Asia, and these energy supplies—unlike Middle Eastern or other energy supplies—do not require maritime security.

Alternative Scenarios

The future that most worries the Chinese is that the Uyghur Muslim movement in Xinjiang will, on the one hand, externally hook up with international Muslim movements throughout Asia and the Middle East, bringing with it an influx of Islamic extremism and a desire to challenge the Chinese central government.  On the other hand, the Chinese fear the Uyghur movement could internally radicalize other minorities, whether it was the ethnic Tibetans or the Muslim Hui.  While Beijing is currently successfully managing the separatist movements in China, the possibility of increased difficulty is linked partly to elements outside of Chinese control, such as political instability or increased Islamic extremism in neighboring Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.  Partly, however, the progress of separatist movements in China will be determined by the Chinese themselves in policies and reactions.  If “strike hard” campaigns do or are seen to discriminate against nonviolent Uyghurs and if the perception that economic development in Xinjiang aids Han Chinese at the expense of Uyghurs, the separatist movements will be fueled.

The region as a whole has concerns about growing Uyghur violence.  Central Asian countries, especially those with sizable Uyghur minorities, already worry about Uyghur violence and agitation.  Many of the regional governments, especially authoritarian secular governments, in South Asia and Central Asia are worried about the contagion of increasing Muslim radicalization.  The governments of Southeast Asia are also worried about growing radical networks and training camps, but they also fear the very idea of a fragmenting China.  Not only is China economically important to the region, but also political instability in China would impact all of Asia.

Implications for the United States

Given that the existing scope of the Uyghur Muslim separatist movement in China remains weak and under reasonable control, this need not be a top issue for the United States. Although Beijing has decided to cast this ethnic separatist movement in light of new global perceptions following September 11, 2001, the Uyghur issue, both inside of China and in the neighboring countries, well predates the war on terrorism.  While this is a genuine ethnic separatist movement with at least some ties to global Muslim networks, it is not supported by any of the immediate neighboring country governments and thus is unlikely to erupt into a major concern in the near term.

The United States is constrained in its policy on this issue in any case.  Not only does the US need to work with China on issues of geostrategic importance, but also the Uyghurs who use violence have formed limited associations with groups that are categorized as terrorist organizations.  The best option for the United States is to continue to encourage China to use the rule of law and to respect human rights.

The primary concern for the United States has been and should remain human rights abuses.  The US-led war on terrorism has led some international human rights organizations to speculate that this new international environment will lead to an increase in human rights abuses globally.  Many of the human rights groups that watch Xinjiang, especially the Chinese “strike hard” campaigns, fear that China is using the war on terror to disregard the human rights of Uyghurs. Not only are human rights abuses abhorrent in and of themselves, but also the Chinese worsen the problem by targeting and antagonizing nonviolent Uyghurs.

Full report at:

http://nigerianobservernews.com/2017/10/security-issues-combating-islamic-radicalism-in-china/#.WfgPo1SCyzc

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Malaysia, Interpol to conduct ops against entry of foreign terrorists

Zam Yusa

October 31, 2017

SANDAKAN: Malaysia and its four neighbouring countries will carry out a joint operation with Interpol next month to curb the entry of foreign terrorists.

Operation Maharlika, which means “majestic” in the Tagalog language, will be conducted from Nov 1 to 15, with training and equipment support from the world police organisation.

During the operation, security agencies from the participating nations will be exposed to the use of Interpol’s worldwide database of criminals, particularly terrorists.

“We will carry out the Maharlika joint operation with Interpol involving four countries – Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines,” Bukit Aman director of Internal Security and Public Order Zulkifli Abdullah told reporters here today.

“Each country’s law enforcement agencies will carry out their operation within their respective territories with training and equipment support from Interpol.

“During the operation, we’ll use certain gadgets and systems to check Interpol’s database for any prior criminal records of the person being checked on the spot.

“We will know whether the person is wanted in the country or elsewhere.”

In Malaysia, Zulkifli said, the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) would be the focus of the operation, which is the first of its kind to be held in the country.

“The operation will be coordinated by the four countries,” he said.

“If the operation is successful, we will review it and may continue it in the future. If there’s a cross-border entry of foreign terrorists, we will share the information in real time.

“In Malaysia, the operational focus area is the Esszone, so this is good for Sabah. But if there’s info on terrorist movement elsewhere, we’ll operate there too.”

Zulkifli said Malaysia’s cooperation with Interpol had been ongoing, but that this was the first time they were working together to curb the entry of foreign terrorists.

Meanwhile, Interpol said the terror threat in Asia would continue, but that effective anti-terrorism efforts should be commended.

“Asia, like other regions in the world, has been and will continue to be a target of terrorists. But at the same time, the rate of success of the authorities in preventing terrorism should be commended,” Interpol director of Operations Support and Analysis Haralt Arm said.

“Operations such as Maharlika are one of the ways the Interpol member countries secure their borders and prevent the movement of terrorists and materials that could be used in attacks.

“No one country or region can address these issues alone, and efforts such as these are essential in preventing terror attacks.”

According to Arm, sharing vital information on a real-time basis is important for law enforcement personnel on the front line.

He said Interpol’s database contained 75 million records, with three billion checks made last year.

“Today, our database is checked 200 times per second.

“We therefore encourage member countries to use Interpol’s capabilities as we have seen great results in countries sharing information.”

The areas of the operation in the four countries will extend from airports to sea and land borders.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/10/31/malaysia-interpol-to-conduct-ops-against-entry-of-foreign-terrorists/

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Govt won’t ban talks by Ismail Menk, Haslin Baharim

Adam Abu Bakar

October 31, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: The government has no intention of barring two popular Muslim preachers from giving talks in Malaysia as it has found nothing wrong with their speeches, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today.

Zahid, who is also home minister, said there were no problems with the talks given by Malaysian Haslin Baharim and grand mufti of Zimbabwe Ismail Menk.

“During their time in Malaysia, they did not say anything that caused racial conflict or tension in our society,” he told reporters after officiating an event here today.

Zahid had been asked to comment on Singapore’s decision to bar the duo from speaking in the city-state.

In a statement yesterday, Singapore’s ministry of home affairs said it had rejected the preachers’ application for a miscellaneous work pass to speak there.

Both were scheduled to participate in a religiously-themed cruise from the island republic next month.

The statement said Ismail had been known to preach segregationist and divisive teachings, citing as an example his claim that it was a sin and a crime for a Muslim to wish a non-Muslim “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Deepavali”.

Haslin, meanwhile, is alleged to have expressed views that promote disharmony between Muslims and non-Muslims, whom he is said to have described as “deviant”.

Earlier today, FMT reported that the government had yet to decide if it will follow in Singapore’s footsteps and bar the two preachers from speaking in the country.

Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed said his ministry would refer the matter to the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) first.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/10/31/govt-wont-ban-talks-by-ismail-menk-haslin-baharim/

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Indian authority may become party to Zakir Naik case in Malaysia

Oct 31, 2017

PETALING JAYA: India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) is reportedly considering becoming a party in the case filed by a group of Malaysians demanding the deportation of Islamic preacher Zakir Naik.

The Asian Age quoted an ED official who said Naik was allegedly in Malaysia in April to hold discussions with several “intellectuals”.

“The ED is exploring legal avenues to become a party in the proceedings related to a suit in a Malaysia court asking for his deportation,” the official was reported as saying.

Naik is wanted for questioning in India over money-laundering and terrorism-related crimes. He fled India in 2016, after a suspect in a terror attack on a Dhaka cafe in Bangladesh said he had been influenced by Naik’s speeches, and Bangladesh banned his Peace TV channel.

In March, 19 individuals including Hindraf chairman P Waythamoorthy and lawyer Siti Kasim filed a suit against the government for allegedly harbouring the controversial preacher.

They said he was capable of threatening national security and harmony, and had encouraged terrorism in public.

They also sought a court order that Naik be considered a threat to Malaysia, and an order to stop him from coming to the country or remaining there, if he was already in the country.

Last week, the Times of India said the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had charged Naik with heading an “unlawful association” and inciting youths to commit acts of terror and join global outfits such as the Islamic State.

The agency added that Naik had “deliberately insulted” the religious beliefs of Hindus, Christians and Islamic sects like Shia, Sufi and Barelvi.

According to sources quoted by the Asian Age, the ED can request its Malaysian counterparts to represent its case in the suit to ensure that Naik is brought to the country to face the money laundering probe.

Naik’s Mumbai-based lawyer Amin Solkar told the paper that he did not know whether the preacher was in Malaysia.

“If the ED or any other agency serves summons to him as per law, we can think about what steps can be taken.

“If they think he is abroad, the correct way to serve the summons to him will be through his email address. I don’t know if this is being done,” Amin was quoted as saying.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/10/31/indian-authority-may-become-party-to-zakir-naik-case-in-malaysia/

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Jakarta closes hotel targeted by Muslim groups for alleged vice

31 October 2017

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s capital has shut a hotel and spa complex for alleged vice, city officials said on Monday, after Islamist groups in the Muslim-majority country had urged Jakarta’s governor to act on a campaign pledge to shut the premises.

The Alexis Hotel, whose website describes it as a “dreamland for men,” became embroiled in the city’s recent election when the new governor, Anies Baswedan, promised in a televised debate to shut it and accused his predecessor of only acting against more downmarket venues offering vice and drugs.

Edy Junaedi, head of the Jakarta Capital Investment and One-stop Integrated Services (PTSP) agency, confirmed by telephone on Monday that the hotel’s permit had not been renewed.

In a letter, the city government said it had decided not to extend the permit after “information circulating in media about forbidden activities,” adding that it was required to prevent any immoral and illegal activities.

Islamist groups had previously sent a letter to authorities demanding the hotel be closed, but later called off a proposed protest rally outside the venue for security and technical reasons, state news agency Antara said.

The hotel did not immediately respond to a request for comment and its owner could not be reached.

Media quoted Baswedan as saying the city would take firm action against any businesses conducting “immoral practices.”

The governor faced criticism after winning April’s Jakarta election with the support of Islamist groups who had agitated for months against his opponent and former governor Basuki TjaHajja Purnama — an ethnic Chinese Christian — whom they accused of blasphemy against Islam.

Purnama demolished Jakarta’s sprawling Kalijodo red-light district in 2016 as part of a nationwide crackdown on prostitution and also closed a number of notorious Jakarta nightclubs over drug use.

Though illegal in Indonesia, prostitution is rampant in most cities, and the decision to close the Alexis comes as groups like the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), which has a history of raiding nightclubs and bars, want Baswedan to impose a more “Islamic lifestyle” on the city of more than 10 million.

Novel Bamukmin, head of FPI’s Jakarta chapter, has said the group would “push” Baswedan’s administration to gradually close down bars and clubs in a city known for a freewheeling nightlife because “It’s immoral and...not Islamic culture.”

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1185981/offbeat

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Mideast

 

Turkish police, intelligence foil large-scale bomb attack by Daesh

31 October 2017

ANKARA: Turkish police and intelligence officials collapsed two terrorist cells in Istanbul over the weekend, preventing a large-scale bomb attack by Daesh.

A car loaded with homemade explosives and a bomb-laden motorcycle, as well as suicide vests and many bullets, were found in the parking area of a crowded shopping mall in Istanbul’s Bayrampasa district on Oct. 28, just one day before the national celebrations of Republic Day.

Four suspected Daesh militants were detained in connection with the incident.

According to the authorities, the car and motorcycle were linked to two consecutive explosions that took place on Oct. 27 in two buildings in Istanbul’s Arnavutkoy and Esenyurt districts, followed by fire.

As a result of countrywide operations over the weekend, some 143 Daesh-linked terrorists, many of them of foreign origin, were detained in various cities including the capital Ankara, and in the western province of Izmir, the northwestern province of Bursa and the eastern province of Erzurum.

Police confiscated many digital materials and unlicensed weapons during the raids. Experts point out that the security operations of Turkish police increase especially before the celebrations of important national days, showing how big the Daesh terror threat is in the country.

There are many questions left unanswered, according to Serhat Erkmen, a Middle East expert at the Ankara-based 21st-Century Turkey Institute.

“We don’t know yet whether these newly captured Daesh terrorists are those who recently returned from Syria and Iraq, or whether they were those who have been nestled in Turkey for years,” he told Arab News, adding that the results of the police investigations will show the big picture in a much clearer way.

Erkmen also noted that it is also necessary to reveal why Daesh suspects caught in the shopping mall in Istanbul who were reportedly Turkish-origin Austrian citizens preferred to stage a failed terror attempt in Turkey rather than their country of origin. “But fortunately Turkish police are getting increased expertise and capability in counter-terrorism efforts and are bringing down many cells, especially recently,” he added.

The latest report by the Soufan Center, a US-based think-tank, said out of 1,500 Turkish fighters who joined Daesh, about 900 have returned home — a new risk factor for domestic and regional security.

“With the increased loss of territory in Syria and Iraq, Daesh began implementing a new existential strategy by downsizing into a micro level in the countries to continue their existence, which is also the case in Turkey,” Abdullah Agar, a security expert and retired special warfare and commando officer, told Arab News.

“Nowadays Daesh transfers its activities toward other countries like Libya, Afghanistan, African countries or neighborhood Turkey. But the fact that Turkey carries its anti-Daesh efforts in a systematic way decreases this threat to a significant level,” he added.

“However, despite all efforts of Turkish police and intelligence, the threat is always present because it is a continuing struggle until the underlying conditions that fed this terrorism are eradicated completely.”

Agar also underlined that Daesh chooses symbolic days, dates, figures and locations to carry out its terror attacks.

“All Turkish nationals who return home after joining Daesh should be on trial if they have been involved in any terror act, while their families should absolutely be put under a rehabilitation program and be in strict monitoring,” he added.

Since Aug. 15, 2016, Turkish police in Istanbul have conducted 136 operations against Daesh and detained 968 suspects. At the risk-analysis centers set up by Turkish officials at airports and bus stations to catch foreign fighters, 940 Daesh suspects were reported in the same period.

During a press conference in Ankara on Oct. 30, Ozturk Yilmaz, the deputy group chair of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, urged the Turkish government to increase intelligence measures against terrorism, and claimed that various Daesh-linked radical group cells established in Turkey are planning further symbolic attacks.

“We believe the government should take strict, extensive and results-focused measures against these groups in order to end their existence,” he said, urging the government to implement a more “careful approach, especially concerning border security and security checks and visa services in airports.”

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1185711/middle-east

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Five Palestinians killed in Israeli operation to blow up Gaza tunnel

30 October 2017

Five Palestinians were killed and several others injured Monday when Israel blew up a tunnel stretching from the Gaza Strip into its territory, the health ministry in the Hamas-run enclave said.

Ahmed Abu Armanah, Omar al-Faleet and Misbah Shubir were killed in the explosion, health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said in a statement.

Shubir was from Hamas’s armed wing, the group said, while the other two were believed to be from an allied militant group.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/10/30/Three-Palestinians-killed-in-Israeli-operation-to-blow-up-Gaza-tunnel.html

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Regional nations must solve their own problems: Iran‘s Rouhani

Oct 31, 2017

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called on regional countries to try and resolve their problems via dialog in order to avoid foreign interference.

Rouhani made the remarks following a meeting with Iranian Judiciary Chief Sadeq Larijani and Iranian Parliament speaker Ali Larijani on Monday.

He added that the US and its allies are constantly attempting to spread terrorism and generate “insecurity and instability” in the Middle East. He went on to note that the West also creates disagreements among regional countries to bolster their weapons sales.

“We believe that regional issues must be solved by the countries of the region,” he stressed. "Attempts by the global arrogance to change the geographical borders in the Middle East have all proved futile," he added.

Rouhani underlined that Donald Trump's administration’ stance on Iran’s historic nuclear deal is a plot by Washington to sow discord and divisiveness about the economic growth of the country among Iranians.   

Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China – plus Germany signed the the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on July 14, 2015 and started implementing it on January 16, 2016. Under the JCPOA, Iran undertook to put limitations on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.

On October 13, Trump refused to formally certify that Iran was complying with the 2015 nuclear deal and warned that he might ultimately terminate the agreement. While Trump did not pull Washington out of the nuclear deal, he gave the US Congress 60 days to decide whether to reimpose economic sanctions against Tehran that were lifted under the pact. Reimposing sanctions would put the US at odds with other signatories to the accord and the European Union.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/10/31/540436/iran-us-rouhani-trump-nuclear-deal

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Mass trial of Turkey alleged coup ringleaders resumes

October 31, 2017

ANKARA - A mass trial resumed in Turkey on Monday of more than 220 suspects, including former generals, accused of being among the ringleaders of last year's coup bid to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The suspects face life sentences if convicted of charges ranging from using violence to try to overthrow the government and parliament, to killing nearly 250 people.

Turkey blames the July 2016 coup attempt on Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a claim he strongly denies.

Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States, is among several of the 221 suspects named in the indictment who are on the run.

The rest are due to appear in court in Sincan near the capital Ankara at a facility that was purpose-built to hear coup-related trials.

The attempted coup on July 15, 2016, left 249 people dead, not counting 24 plotters. Also among the suspects in one of Turkey's highest-profile prosecutions are several high-ranking military officers including ex-air force commander Akin Ozturk.

Several are accused of leading the so-called "Peace At Home Council", the name the plotters are said to have given themselves the night of the failed overthrow.

The judge told the court nearly 70 terabytes worth of images from security cameras at the military headquarters during the coup bid would be given to lawyers, state-run news agency Anadolu said.

At the opening of the trial in May, alleged coup plotters were booed by protesters as they entered the courtroom, with some shouting slogans in favour of the death penalty for the suspects.

Fifty-six suspects gave their defence over four weeks after the trial opened, Anadolu said, and the testimonies would continue on Monday.

The trial is one of many being held across the country to judge the coup suspects in what is the biggest legal process of Turkey's modern history.

The government has launched a massive crackdown under state of emergency laws imposed in the wake of the failed coup which have been extended several times.

Over 140,000 people, including public sector employees, have been sacked or suspended over alleged links to the coup while 50,000 people have been arrested since July 2016.

This week will also see other hearings in Istanbul including journalists from opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper who are standing trial on charges of aiding and abetting terrorist organisations.

One of Turkey's acclaimed authors Asli Erdogan will appear before a court Tuesday on charges of spreading terror propaganda on account of her links to a pro-Kurdish newspaper.

In December she was released pending trial, after 132 days of pre-trial detention.

Last week, an Istanbul court ordered the release on judicial control of eight human rights activists including Amnesty International's Turkey director Idil Eser, as well as a German and a Swede.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/31-Oct-2017/mass-trial-of-turkey-alleged-coup-ringleaders-resumes

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Iran's Air Force to Test Different Types of Weapons in Tuesday Drills

Oct 30, 2017

"The heavy strategic Sukhoi 24, F4, F5, F7, Mig 29, F14 and Sa'eqeh bombers, Boeing 707 and 747 refueling aircraft, C130 transportation and logistic planes along with drones equipped with pin-pointing missiles and long-range smart bombs have been transferred to Shahid Babayee base (in Isfahan province) and will fly in the drills," Spokesman of the wargames General Amir Rouzkhosh said on Monday.

Noting that the new systems and weapons produced and updated in the country's academic and industrial centers will be displayed in the Tuesday drills, he said that air combat, attacking aerial targets at different speeds and altitudes, day and night air-to-ground bombings using heavy and semi-heavy bombs and utilizing different types of laser and monitor-controlled, thermal and radar missiles and different types of home-made rockets and bombs are another part of this stage of the drills.

In a relevant development earlier today, The Iranian defense ministry in a ceremony unveiled a new state-of-the-art radar system named 'Afaq' for coastguard forces.

The ceremony was participated by Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami.

"The coast monitoring radar is capable of monitoring vessels in a range of 200km and it can also trace and hunt aerial targets," General Hatami said.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960808001524

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Top Iranian General: US Not Worthy of Talks

Oct 30, 2017

"The declared strategies by Trump (the US president) against Iran are a new threat against the country," General Baqeri said, addressing a forum in Tehran on Monday.

"The Americans' main objective in compiling new strategies is overthrowing the Islamic Republic which has been clearly stated by the US secretary of state in recent days," he added.

Noting that the US administration which aims to overthrow the Islamic Republic does not deserve and is not worthy of talks, General Baqeri warned that the Americans have now put using military force against Iran at the bottom of their list and have prioritized economic sanctions on top of the list of their new threats.

He also warned that if the (pervious) sanctions against Iran are approved under new names, the country will certainly withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with the world powers.

In relevant remarks last Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blasted his US counterpart Rex Tillerson for speaking of regime change in Iran, stressing that the Iranian people will not be fooled by Washington which calls them as terrorists and uses a fake name for the Persian Gulf.

"US changed one elected gov't in Iran— in 1953. It has tried a repeat since (19)79. Iranians (will) not (be) fooled by US game & (are) unmoved by fake sympathy," Zarif wrote on his twitter page.

"Faux sympathy for Iranians belied by Trump’s use of fake name for Persian Gulf, calling them terrorist nation & banning them from visiting (the US)," he added.

Stressing that the Iranian people have elected their president (Rouhani) with 6 million more popular votes and 73% turnout, he said that the mantra used by the US officials on "standing with the Iranian people" is a lost strategy.

Tillerson said last Wednesday that US sanctions against Iran targeted what he called as the country’s “malign behaviors” and were aimed at helping the Iranian people take control of their government.

Tillerson told a New Delhi press conference after talks with India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj that the United States would not block “legitimate” business activities with Iran by India or any other ally.

US President Donald Trump’s administration has taken a tougher line with Iran, threatening to tear up an international accord on its nuclear program.

Tillerson made it clear that the United States sought to give “support for modern voices inside of Iran” in a bid to bring about an eventual change of government.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960808000683

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Spokesman Dismisses Saudi Claim of Iran's Interference in Peace Process in Yemen

Oct 30, 2017

"The Saudi foreign minister's allegations that Iran has blocked establishment of peace in Yemen are ridiculous and baseless," Qassemi said on Monday.

Stressing that Iran has condemned the Saudi-led aggression against Yemen since the start of the war and has spared no efforts to end this bloody war, he said that repetition of false claims in the Riyadh conference (the meeting of foreign ministers and military chiefs of Saudi-led coalition countries on Sunday) never decreases the humanitarian and international responsibility of those who have committed terrible crimes in Yemen.

Qassemi underlined that the only way to resolve problems in Yemen is ending the war, sending humanitarian aid to the Yemenis and comprehensive talks among all Yemeni groups, and advised those who attended the Riyadh conference to stop wrong attitudes and pave the ground for the termination of war and start of all-inclusive talks.

Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen since March 2015 to restore power to fugitive president Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. The Saudi-led aggression has so far killed at least 15,000 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children.

Despite Riyadh's claims that it is bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi bombers are flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures.

According to several reports, the Saudi-led air campaign against Yemen has drove the impoverished country towards humanitarian disaster, as Saudi Arabia's deadly campaign prevented the patients from travelling abroad for treatment and blocked the entry of medicine into the war-torn country.

The cholera outbreak in Yemen which began in April, has also claimed 2,100 lives and has infected 700,000, as the nation has been suffering from what the World Health Organization (WHO) describes as the “largest epidemic in the world” amid a non-stop bombing campaign led by Saudi Arabia. Also Riyadh's deadly campaign prevented the patients from traveling abroad for treatment and blocked the entry of medicine into the war-torn country.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960808000350

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Israeli and Palestinian ministers meet in Trump peace push

31 October 2017

Israel and Palestinian officials held a rare high-level meeting in Ramallah as the United States seeks to kickstart stalled peace efforts, officials said on Monday.

President Donald Trump’s special envoy for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, wrote on Twitter that the meeting on Sunday night in the West Bank city of Ramallah was attended by Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah, Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and senior Israeli defense ministry official Yoav Mordechai.

“Important progress last night between Israeli & Palestinian sides,” Greenblatt tweeted.

“Meaningful steps forward on key economic issues -- revenues, customs, and investment -- that help support the search for peace,” he added.

Mordechai’s office confirmed his participation in the talks but said no more.

Official Palestinian news agency WAFA said that Palestinian finance minister Shukri Bishara also took part as well as head of intelligence Majid Faraj.

WAFA said the meeting covered Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank, its blockade of the Gaza Strip and joint economic projects.

WAFA said the talks dealt with a number of issues, “foremost of which is the settlement campaign, lifting of the siege of the Gaza Strip and financial issues related to the financial entitlements of the Palestinian National Authority.”

Israeli newspaper Haaretz said the gathering was the second by the same participants in the past six months.

It said that one project on the table was for an industrial zone adjacent to the southern West Bank village of Tarkumia which would employ local Palestinians and Israeli settlers.

Greenblatt and Trump’s Middle East envoy and son-in-law Jared Kushner have been ferrying between Israeli and Palestinian leaders for months.

A White House official said on Sunday that both men had “recently returned from Saudi Arabia” -- a previously unannounced visit -- following Greenblatt’s earlier talks in Cairo, Amman, Jerusalem and Ramallah.

“As President Donald J. Trump has clearly stated, he is personally committed to achieving a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians that would help usher in an era of greater regional peace and prosperity,” the official said.

“A few months ago, the president directed his advisers to continue discussions with regional partners about how best to support the peace effort,” the official added.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/10/31/Israeli-and-Palestinian-ministers-meet-in-Trump-peace-push.html

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Arab coalition strikes Houthi training camps in Yemen, killing 40 militiamen

31 October 2017

Arab coalition strikes on Houthi’s training camps in west of Dhamar, south of Sanaa, killed at least 40 Houthi militiamen and injured others, local sources said.

Meanwhile, Al Arabiya sources said Houthi commander of an artillery brigade Mohammed al-Soufi was killed by a coalition strike in Jawaf, north of the country.

Soufi, believed to be from Ibb, is considered a prominent commander among Houthis and forces loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The coalition also struck another training camp in Jaref, south of Sanaa.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/10/31/Arab-coalition-strikes-kill-40-Houthi-militiamen-in-Yemen-s-Dhamar.html

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Turkish mayor resigns under ‘unbearable' pressure from Erdogan

Oct 30, 2017

Another mayor has resigned in Turkey over what he called pressure and threats “beyond unbearable” by the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party.

Ahmet Edip Ugur, mayor of the northwestern province of Balikesir, said Monday that he resigned after he and his family became subject to increasing threats from the AK Party.

Ugur, who was speaking to reporters during a news conference, burst into tears when he lamented that democracy was something broken in Turkey, saying Erdogan and his close allies were purging people on fabricated charges of links to plotters of the July 2016 coup attempt.

“There is no corruption, no irregularity, no failures on my side...but despite this, there are pressures and threats coming all the way into your home and to your family. This is beyond unbearable,” said Ugur. He added that he was “sorry, hurt, but in peace,” before breaking into tears.

He said he had no ties to the movement of Fethullah Gulen, an opposition cleric based in the United States who is accused by Ankara of having orchestrated the coup attempt. Gulen has repeatedly denied any involvement in the botched putsch.

More than 150,000 people have been dismissed from their jobs over links to the opposition figure and another 50,000 are behind bars on similar charges.

Ugur became the sixth mayor to resign from his post over the past weeks. Other mayors from the ruling party who have stepped down in recent weeks include the mayor of Ankara, Melih Gokcek, who resigned Saturday, Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas and mayors of Nigde, Duzce and Bursa.

Gokcek, a close ally of Erdogan who had supported the post-coup crackdown on dissent, resigned after serving for 23 years.

The resignation of mayors in Turkey came after Erdogan and the top echelon in the AK Party became unhappy about the low level of support shown in major Turkish cities for the party’s proposed changes in a constitutional referendum in April.

Unlike Ugur, Gokcek hailed Erdogan’s rule and said the president was making Turkey a leading country.

Full report at:

The AK Party has ruled Turkey since 2002.

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/10/30/540413/Turkey-mayor-resignation-Erdogan

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Iran censures Israel’s bloody attack on lifeline tunnel in Gaza Strip

Oct 30, 2017

Iran has slammed the Tel Aviv regime’s latest attack on the Gaza Strip, which claimed the lives of eight people and injured many more.

“The blood thirsty Zionist regime mistakenly thinks that by killing Palestinian youths it can break their will,” said Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi on Monday.

He added that seven decades of such atrocities have not been able to curb the will and resolve of the Palestinian people.  

Earlier in the day, Israeli war planes bombarded and destroyed a lifeline tunnel in the southern part of the besieged Gaza Strip.

Among the victims were two senior commanders of al-Quds Brigades, which is the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement.

The tunnel, which was still under construction, reportedly belonged to Hamas resistance movement and infiltrated into the heart of the occupied Palestinian territories.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has criticized the incident as an attempt to undermine the reconciliation talks between the Palestinian factions.

The movement also stressed that the Israeli attack constituted a new war against the people of Gaza.

The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli siege since June 2007. Since then, the Israeli regime has launched three devastating wars on the coastal strip.

The latest military offensive against the territory in 2014, left nearly 2,200 Palestinians dead, including 577 children, over 11,100 others wounded and thousands of homes destroyed.

The blockade has caused a decline in the standards of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/10/30/540429/israel-iran-palestine-slams-tunnel-qassemi

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UN rights report reflects views of Iran’s enemies: Judiciary chief

Oct 30, 2017

Iranian Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani has dismissed a recent report by a UN rights rapporteur against the Islamic Republic, saying it reflects the views of the country’s enemies.

Addressing a meeting with high-ranking Iranian judiciary officials in Tehran on Monday, Amoli Larijani added that the report contained rehashed claims and allegations against the Islamic establishment and simply quoted anti-Islamic Republic sources and the anti-Iran terrorist Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO).

He added that the report supported those individuals who had been tried and convicted of espionage and also the MKO elements who had carried out various acts of terror against the Iranian people.

The top Iranian judiciary official strongly criticized the West’s double-standard approaches in dealing with the issue of human rights in Iran and said while different resolutions have been adopted against the Islamic Republic, Western countries have prevented the adoption of resolutions by world bodies against the Israeli regime or the "child-killing" Saudi regime.

“The US and Europe … support a spy, but keep silent about the mass killings in Yemen and the blockade of Gaza and heavy bombardments [of innocent people],” Amoli Larijani added.

Asma Jahangir, the UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, submitted her report to the world body on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Jahangir claimed that there had been little change in the human situation in Iran over the past year.

She also alleged the harassment of journalists in Iran had intensified, claiming that the progress on women’s rights was extremely slow.

Jahangir stated that she did not attempt to assess the impact of sanctions on human rights in Iran in her report, because she had not been allowed to visit the country.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/10/30/540397/Iran-UN-Judiciary-Chief-Ayatollah-Sadeq-Amoli-Larijani-Asma-Jahangir-rapporteur-human-rights-MKO

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Turkey’s Erdogan takes legal action after lawmaker calls him ‘fascist dictator’

31 October 2017

ISTANBUL: President Tayyip Erdogan filed a criminal complaint against a prominent opposition lawmaker, one of Erdogan’s lawyers said on Tuesday, after the deputy called the Turkish leader a fascist dictator.

In blistering criticism of Erdogan, the spokesman for the main opposition Republican People’s Party Bulent Tezcan attacked what he said was a “fearful atmosphere” in Turkey.

Erdogan’s lawyer Huseyin Aydin said on Twitter: “We have filed a legal petition concerning Bulent Tezcan with the Ankara chief prosecutor’s office for the crime of insulting the president.” Aydin also posted photos of the petition.

Tezcan’s comments prompted a swift backlash from Erdogan’s office and lawmakers from his ruling AK Party, with Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin saying his “hate speech is an example of disgrace for the main opposition.”

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1186011/middle-east

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Africa

 

10 villagers killed in Cameroon in suspected Boko Haram attack

Oct 30, 2017

A suspected raid by terrorists of Nigeria-based Boko Haram Takfiri group has left at least 10 people dead in a village in neighboring Cameroon.

The army and local officials in northern Cameroon said Monday that the attack, which took place in Gouderi village at 11 p.m. on Sunday, was presumably carried out by Boko Haram in retaliation for operations by Cameroon’s army against the group.

“It looks like revenge because the army killed Boko Haram members in this village and forced others to retreat to Nigeria,” said an army source.

Another senior source in the army said 11 villagers were killed after militants blitzed the village. However, local officials put the death toll at about 10.

More than 20,000 people have been killed and some three million displaced since Boko Haram launched its insurgency in Nigeria in 2009.

The attacks swiftly spread to neighboring countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroon -- the three countries that have contributed to a regional anti-militant drive in Nigeria.

Boko Haram extremists, who are mostly based in areas to the north of Nigeria, have also taken shelter in neighboring countries to reorganize and resume attacks in Nigeria’s Borno state and other regions.

Cameroon’s semi-arid Far North region, where the Sunday attack took place, has been among the main territories targeted in Boko Haram attacks over the past eight years.

The Nigerian military claims that Boko Haram has become a spent force as a result of massive military operations that started in 2015. However, government forces have struggled over the past months to contain an increasing number of attacks by the group, especially those affecting civilians in crowded urban places. 

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/10/30/540376/Cameroon-Boko-Haram-Nigeria

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Nigeria mosque bombing leaves 5 dead, several injured

Oct 30, 2017

A bomb attack targeting a mosque in northeastern Nigeria has left at least five people dead and several others injured.

Ajiri Yala, leader of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) which assists the military against Daesh-linked Boko Haram militants, said on Monday that a bomber disguised as a worshiper entered the mosque where people were gathering for the morning prayers and detonated his explosives.

The bombing incident occurred some 15 kilometers north of Maiduguri, Borno State, at about 4:30 a.m. (0330 GMT).

There has been no claim of responsibility so far, but such attacks are usually carried out by Boko Haram terrorists, which are active in northeastern Nigeria.

On Sunday, an explosion killed a CJTF member on guard at checkpoint in the Muna area of Maiduguri.

A week earlier, 14 people were killed in a similar blast near the Muna Garage camp, which is home to tens of thousands of people made homeless by Boko Haram militancy.

The violence has forced 2.6 million people to flee their homes.

The United Nations warned recently that attacks against internally displaced people (IDPs) in camps across the region “continue to be a major concern.”

The Boko Haram militant group, which pledged allegiance to Daesh in 2015, poses a threat to both civilians and the military, despite government claims that the group has been weakened to the point of defeat.

Late last year, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari announced that Boko Haram group had been technically defeated and no longer posed a threat to major urban centers in northern and northeastern Nigeria.

However, Boko Haram continues to launch sporadic attacks, particularly in hard-to-reach rural areas.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/10/30/540360/africa-Nigeria-Bombing-Maiduguri

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17 killed in airstrike in Libya's Darnah

31 October 2017

Seventeen people were killed and more than 30 wounded in an airstrike late Monday in Libya's Darnah city.

An official of Al-Huraish State Hospital in Darnah, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to security reasons, said the hospital declared a "state of emergency" and a call for blood donations was made.

The perpetrator of the airstrike is not yet known.

The Mujahideen Shura Council, which is currently in de facto control of Darnah, took the city from ISIL in 2015. Darnah is the only city in eastern Libya not being controlled by forces led by General Khalifa Haftar.

Libya has been wracked by turmoil since 2011, when a bloody uprising ended with the ouster and death of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/africa/195482/17-killed-in-airstrike-in-libyas-darnah

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Somalia sacks spy agency, police chiefs after blasts

30 October 2017

The Cabinet sacked the chiefs of national intelligence agency and police following Saturday’s deadly bomb blasts in capital Mogadishu that left at least 27 people dead and dozens of others wounded, according to a minister.

Saturday’s attack saw gunmen storming the Nasa-hablood hotel near the presidential palace after two car bomb explosions. 

Al-Shabaab armed group had claimed responsibility for the attack that came just two weeks after the deadliest attack in the country’s history, also in Mogadishu, which left more than 358 people dead. 

The Cabinet decided to sack National Intelligence Agency chief Cabdullahi Mohamed Sambaloshe and police chief Abdihakin Dahir Saed Sa'id after an emergency meeting in the capital, Information Minister Abdirahman Omar Osman Yarsisow tweeted.

"Somali government cabinet ministers sacked national intelligence and security agency chief and national police commander," Osman Yarsisow said in his Twitter post.

In a separate statement, Internal Security Minister Mohamed Abukar Islow said the death toll from Saturday’s double explosions had reached 27.

Earlier, local and state media reported that former lawmaker Abdinasir Garane, Southwestern State Interior Minister Madobe Nunow and former Daynile district police commissioner were among the dead.

Islow also said security forces had detained three suspected attackers.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/africa/195469/somalia-sacks-spy-agency-police-chiefs-after-blasts

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Nigeria: Emir Sanusi Launches First Islamic Insurance in Nigeria

30 OCTOBER 2017

The Emir of Kano, Malam Muhammad Sanusi 11, on Monday in Kano, launched the first Islamic insurance in Nigeria, tagged 'Jaiz Takaful Insurance'.

The Emir said at the event that the introduction of the system in Nigeria was a welcome development, especially as it would contribute towards boosting the country's economy.

According to him, the policy, which will be guided by Sharia, is not only for the Muslim, but also for non-Muslims.

"The Insurance Scheme will assist the small scale business people to replace their lost property, especially whenever a disaster which we are not praying for has occurred," the emir said.

Sanusi added that the scheme would assist the registered members to replace their lost property, either due to fire outbreak or accident, through their contributions.

He called on Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje to register all the state's property, especially vehicles and houses, with the Takaful insurance company.

The emir also called on tricycle riders in the state to register their machines for the safety of their property, calling on the company to ensure that its members were treated equally and fairly.

Earlier in his presentation on the concept and operations of the insurance policy, the Managing Director of Jaiz Takaful Insurance Company, Alhaji Momodou Musa, said the scheme was a premier Shariah compliant general and family life insurance operator.

According to him, the insurance has been established to provide insurance in Nigeria with the insight of expansion in West Africa as an international leader in Takaful.

He said, "Takaful is a unique Islamic concept of Shariah compliance which the system is based on social solidarity, cooperation and mutual indemnification of losses of members.

It is a pact among a group of members who agree jointly to indemnify the loss or damage that inflict upon any of them out of the funds they donated collectively."

Musa explained that, "the contract of Takaful as a business venture is based on the Islamic profit sharing of 'Al-Mudaraba principles.

Full report at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201710310031.html

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North America

 

Report: bullying of Muslim students on the rise

Oct 31, 2017

More Muslim students have reported being bullied, having their hijabs pulled off and harassed at school because of their religion in the past two years, according to a report released Monday by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“The key findings were unpleasant and shocking,” said Hanif Mohebi, executive director of CAIR San Diego.

The latest report follows similar studies conducted by CAIR California in 2012 and 2014. Findings in the new survey were from surveys taken in 2016 by 1,041 students ages 11-18 from San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento Valley and San Francisco Bay Area.

Of those participating, 152 were from San Diego, 400 were from the Greater Los Angeles area, 161 were from Sacramento Valley and 161 were from the Bay Area.

The report can be found online at ca.cair.com/downloads/2017_CAIR-CA_School_Bullying_Report.pdf.

San Diego Unified School District has adopted an anti-bullying policy that addresses bullying against Muslim students in a number of ways, including creating a greater understand of Islam among all students.

A group of parents and the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund sued the district in May because of the district’s actions, which they saw as unconstitutional and giving greater attention to students of one religion. The district since has stressed that its policy is to protect all students from bullying, and it is working with the Anti-Defamation League on a program to create a safe environment on campus for all.

In the latest CAIR report, 36 percent of students who responded and wear a Islamic head covering known as a hijab said other students had tugged it, pulled or offensively touched it, a 7 percentage point increase from 2014. Five percent said it happens weekly and 7 percent said it happens once a month.

The study found 69 percent of Muslim students said they feel safe, welcome and respected in their school, down from 83 percent in 2014.

Sixty-one percent said they were comfortable in class discussions about Islam and Muslims, down from 76 percent in 2014, and 77 percent said they felt comfortable letting students know they are Muslim, down from 83 percent.

Nineteen percent of students said they had been physically harmed or harassed at school, up from 9 percent in 2014, and 26 percent said offensive comments had been directed at them through social medial, up from 19 percent.

Fifty-three percent of students said someone at the school has been made fun of, insulted or verbally abused for being Muslim, including 10 percent who said it happened weekly and 8 percent who said it happened every month.

The report noted that the 53 percent figure was more than double the national statistic for students who say they had been bullied at school.

While the study shows an increase in the percentage of Muslim students who were bullied or felt uncomfortable at school, it does not give raw data to show the number of students who responded to specific questions or indicate how many incidents were in San Diego.

Among the criticisms of the San Diego Unified’s anti-bullying policy stated in the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund lawsuit was the argument that there were not enough incidents to call for the policy. A board report had noted seven incidents of bullying because of religion between July 1 to Dec. 31, 2016, but did not specify which religion was targeted.

Mohebi and others who spoke at a CAIR San Diego news conference Monday morning said the number of incidents could be higher than reported because Muslims who are harassed for their religious often are fearful to come forward.

He and Islamic Center of San Diego Imam Taha Hassane said they hope CAIR can continue to work with San Diego Unified and other districts in making schools safe for Muslim students.

“I’d like to call upon all the authorities in our school districts, superintendents and school boards, to work with CAIR San Diego to address this,” Hassane said.

Mohebi said CAIR has been working with a few school districts in the county to help protect Muslim students, and he said he hopes the group will keep working with San Diego Unified to create a model for others.

Noemi Villegas, program manager manager for the counseling and guidance department at San Diego Unified, said CAIR is a partner in developing a comprehensive program to create a safe environment for all students.

“I strongly believe we are promoting anti-bullying efforts for all students, including Muslim students,” she said. “You can’t separate students. All students need to have safe, inclusive spaces.”

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/education/sd-me-muslim-bullying-20171030-story.html

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Trump administration does not want limits on war authorization

31 October 2017

President Donald Trump’s top national security aides pushed back on Monday against US lawmakers calling for a new congressional war authorization, saying it would be a mistake to impose geographic or time limits on the campaign against ISIS and other militant groups.

“War is fundamentally unpredictable,” Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis told a Senate hearing about a potential new authorization for the use of military force, or AUMF, Congress’ most significant step in years toward taking back control of its constitutional right to authorize war.

Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson both told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee it would put US forces at risk if existing authorizations were repealed without new ones in place. They said they do not need a new AUMF to justify ongoing military action.

“The 2001 AUMF provides statutory authority for ongoing US military operations against al-Qaeda; the Taliban; and associated forces, including against ISIS,” Tillerson said.

Republican and Democratic members of Congress have argued for years that Congress ceded too much authority over the military to the White House after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But divisions over how much control they should exert over the Pentagon have stymied repeated efforts to pass a new AUMF.

Republican Senator Jeff Flake, who proposed an authorization with Democratic Senator Tim Kaine, said Congress should “buy in” to military conflicts by exerting its constitutional authority to declare war.

“Here in the Senate, we aspire to be more than just a cog in a feedback loop,” Flake said. He argued that passing an AUMF would send an important message that Washington is unified to US troops, allies and adversaries.

“We have a job to do,” Kaine said, questioning whether resistance to a new AUMF was simply opposition to congressional oversight.

Concerns intensified this month after four US soldiers were killed in Niger, and previously over Trump’s talk about the possibility of an attack on North Korea and an April attack on an airfield in Syria.

Republican Senator Bob Corker, the committee’s chairman, said the ambush in Niger shows US forces “can find themselves in combat at any moment.”

‘Global, endless, shadow war’

Congress has not passed an AUMF since the 2002 measure authorizing the Iraq War. But the legal justification for most military action for the past 16 years is the older authorization passed days after the Sept. 11 attacks, for the campaign against al Qaeda and affiliates.

Backers of a new AUMF say the 2001 authorization has let presidents wage war wherever they like, without answering to Congress, or the public. For example, ISIS did not exist in 2001.

“I do not think the American people want the United States conducting a global, endless ‘Shadow War,’ under-the-radar, covert and beyond scrutiny,” said Senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the foreign relations panel.

Mattis said he was not averse to a new authorization. But he said imposing limits would help the non-state actors who are America’s adversaries in a “non-traditional” war spanning much of the globe.

“If the enemy hopes we are going to quit on a certain day, or if they know we won’t deal with them if they step over a certain border, then the enemy is going to do exactly that,” Mattis said.

Trump’s fellow Republicans control majorities in both the Senate and House of Representatives but there are deep divisions over any possible new authorization within the party, as well as between Republicans and Democrats.

While some Republicans echo Flake in calling for Congress to weigh in, more hawkish lawmakers say military commanders should decide how to fight America’s enemies.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2017/10/31/Trump-administration-does-not-want-limits-on-war-authorization.html

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Muslim community center of greater San Diego holds annual open mosque day

October 30, 2017

“We’re your neighbors, we’re your doctors and lawyers, accountants… we’re just regular Americans,” Vice Chair of the Muslim Community Center of Greater San Diego (MCC) board Owais Siddiqui told CBS.

“A lot of people have questions about Muslims and their neighbors and they may feel, perhaps, intimidated or just unsure about how to get those questions answered.”

During the event, the community center offered visitors special tours inside the mosque and several presentations about Islam.

“The moment you eliminate ignorance or the lack of information, the vast majority of the time, you’ll find a lot more commonality,” said one speaker at the event.

Moreover, there were booths displaying different aspects of Islamic history including the first American printing of a Qur’an printed in 1806 in Massachusetts.

“We believe in the same God as the Christian God, as the Jewish God,” Siddiqui said.

“A lot of times Muslims use the term ‘Allah,’ but that’s just the Arabic word for God.”

The event was organized as the California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations or CAIR is about to release a new report about bullying of Muslim students in schools.

According to CAIR, of 1,000 Muslim students ages 11-18 who were surveyed, 53 percent reported some form of bullying.

“We’re very peaceful,” 13-year-old Umair Mahmood, who, fortunately, did not face bullying, said.

“Islam itself has many meanings, but one of the main meanings  is peace.”

Full report at:

http://en.abna24.com/news/america/muslim-community-center-of-greater-san-diego-holds-annual-open-mosque-day_863504.html

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Pro-Erdogan Turkish Paper Warns Saudis Not to Cave in to ‘American Islam’

30 Oct 2017

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s announcement that the Kingdom would return to a “moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world” did not go over well at the pro-Erdogan Turkish paper Yeni Safak, where columnist Ibrahim Karagul accused the Saudis of joining a U.S.-Israeli plot to water down Islam and divide the Muslim world.

Karagul writes that Prince Salman is playing a “very dangerous game” by attempting to make the Sunni Arab world part of the “U.S.-Israel” axis of power.

“The Muslim-Arab region is being taken hostage through the UAE and Israel and the marketing aspect of it all is being carried out through Saudi Arabia,” he charges.

According to Karagul, the goal of Saudi Arabia’s game is to hold Iran responsible for radicalizing Islam and turning it against the Western world. He is remarkably blasé about Iran’s desire to export its revolutionary ideology across the globe, although he admits the Saudis are right to fear Iran’s strategy of sowing division in Sunni nations by agitating their Shiite populations.

In essence, Karagul sees the Saudis trying to do the same thing by equating authentic Sunni Islam with Arab nationalism, which would make Arab Muslims suspicious of non-Arab Iran and its Shiite theology. He worries this strategy might also have dire implications for Turkey, which is increasingly less interested in “moderate” Islam or secularism.

“There is a project being implemented by the hand of the U.S., Israel and the UAE,” Karagul charges, returning to his sinister Jewish conspiracy theme. “It has been designed in accordance with Israel’s regional security interests, and has been planned on prioritizing the threatening of every country that moves away from the U.S. axis. It is in relation to a new front line being established further south and further west in response to the U.S. losing the region spanning Turkey and the Chinese border.”

As for Turkey, he insists it has firmly rejected “moderate Islam” or “American Islam,” which was “implemented by the U.S./Israel extreme right-wing and their partners on the inside.”

Longtime observers of the Erdogan regime will have no difficulty guessing who those seditious Turkish partners are before Karagul drops a dime on them: “The Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) is the product of such a project and the Dec. 17/25 and July 15 attacks were made for this very reason. They were all aimed at trapping Turkey within the U.S./Israel axis.”

Karagul thinks Saudi Arabia’s program of moderation is doomed to failure because of “the regime’s character and its social structure,” and because there will be no takers for moderate Islam outside the Kingdom once faithful Muslims get a whiff of the “Israel/U.S. sauce” mixed into Saudi Arabia’s new religious ideology.

Ominously, he warns that Saudi Arabia is risking “suicide” by throwing in with the United States and Israel, and may soon prompt a great Muslim debate over “the state of Mecca and Medina,” which are currently part of Saudi Arabia but maybe not for much longer, if one catches Karagul’s drift.

The interesting thing about this editorial is that it follows Iranian propaganda beat-for-beat: the Saudis are willing tools of the Great and Little Satan, i.e. America and Israel; the Saudis are no longer fit stewards for Mecca and Medina; Islamic solidarity is more important than Arab national identity; “moderate Islam” is a Western plot to dilute true Islamic teaching; and Iran must establish a power axis in the Middle East to counter malign American influence.

Karagul is not the first observer to suggest Saudi Arabia is modernizing, liberalizing, working more closely with the West, and tugging on the heartstrings of pan-Arab nationalism to counter Iran’s bid for global hegemony.

Strip away Karagul’s dismissal of moderate Islam as a U.S.-Israeli-Gulenist plot to water down the true faith and render Muslims docile, and his analysis is not too far from that of Foreign Policy, which praises U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for some “surprisingly aggressive diplomacy” in thawing the Saudi-Iraqi relationship:

The meeting, and the broader thawing it seems to signal, was at heart about two things. First, Saudi Arabia wants to lead a strong group of Arab states to counter what it sees as Iran’s malign influence; burying the hatchet with Baghdad is a way to create a bigger bloc. And second, Iraq, stung by nearly three years of cheap oil prices and warfare, is eager for help with oil and gas development and foreign assistance rebuilding after the defeat of the Islamic State.

For Saudi Arabia, the standard-bearer of Sunni pushback against Shiite Iran, the mini-summit marks a shift in policy to create an even broader group of like-minded states, said Maria Fantappie, an Iraq expert at the International Crisis Group.

“On the part of the crown prince [Mohammad bin Salman], there is a shift toward the utilization of ‘Arab identity,’ rather than Sunni identity, to gain regional leverage over the Iranians,” Fantappie said.

This suits Abadi, a Shiite who has sought to portray himself as an Arab nationalist leader in a sea of sectarian alternatives, counterbalancing links with Iran, for example, with deeper ties to Egypt. This gives the Saudis a way to embrace Iraq and play the Arab card at the same time.

“They can enter Iraq in a way that leverages not just sect but Arabism and nationalism,” Fantappie said.

He is also not the first to express distrust at the idea of a watered-down version of Islam. Erdogan himself once alarmed observers by rejecting the idea of “moderate” Islam in its entirety, saying, “There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.”

Other observers suggest Crown Prince Salman’s modernization and moderation program is influenced by such basic realities as Saudi Arabia’s youthful demographic and a desire for more Western investment, which is made inescapably necessary by cratering oil prices—a phenomenon partly driven by Iran’s resurgence in the world oil market after the lifting of sanctions, in a nice bit of irony.

Full report at:

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2017/10/30/pro-erdogan-turkish-paper-warns-saudis-not-cave-american-islam/

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