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Bauchi State Government Warns Against Arrest of Bauchi Islamic Cleric, Abdulaziz over Alleged Blasphemy of Prophet Muhammad (SAW)

New Age Islam News Bureau

09 May 2023


Imam Idris Abdul aziz Dutsen Tanshi Bauchi 27



Coming from Christian Dominated Constituency, As A Muslim, I‘ve Qualities to Lead 10th House of Representatives — Gagdi

Islamic group loses 3 members in road accident in Niger

Coca-Cola Felicitates With Muslims at ‘Eid Fest’ In Kano



French government reports rise in secular breaches in schools during Ramadan

Globalist elites provoke bloody conflicts and coups – Putin

Europe’s largest nuclear power plant dormant – governor


South Asia

Afghan Acting FM Urges Pakistan, TTP Militants to Hold Talks

Qatar begins rebuilding 326 homes for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

Hundreds of Afghan immigrants return to Afghanistan from Pakistan

Health ministry marks World Thalassemia Day in Kabul

Extraction Of Chromite Starts in Afghanistan’s Khost Province


North America

Canada Expels Chinese Diplomat for Targeting Critics of Beijing's Treatment of Uyghur Muslims

US Ex-Neo-Nazi Convicted In Florida Killing Of Roommates Who Mocked Islam Conversion

Iowa City man charged with assault after allegedly punching someone leading prayer at Mosque


Arab World

Over 3 million benefit from translation services at Grand Mosque

Sheikh Mansour Praises UAE Fatwa Council’s Efforts For Religious Harmony

Saudi foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan arrives in Algeria for official visit

Saudi Arabia, Korea discuss maritime transport cooperation

Poland’s prime minister receives Saudi economy and planning minister

Young students to learn the art of making manga in Saudi Arabia



"Tolerant Muslims Can Be Counted On Fingers": Junior Law Minister at RSS Event

Muslim Quota in Karnataka: SC Says No Political Statement Should Be Made On Issue

Hajj Frauds, Umrah Scams Are Trapping Indian Muslims. Pay and Get Ghosted

Mamata Banerjee government bans The Kerala Story criticises such films

The Kerala Story declared tax-free in Uttar Pradesh after Madhya Pradesh

Shraddha Walkar murder case: Delhi court frames charges against accused Aaftab Poonawala



‘Listen To Me Carefully’: Imran Doubles Down On Allegations Against Senior Military Official

Pakistan army slams Imran Khan for murder attempt allegations

Pakistani origin Imam of Masjid al-Nabawi Al-Sheikh Qari Muhammad Khalil passes away

CPEC will be extended to Afghanistan as trilateral cooperation set to deepen

PM Shehbaz Sharif extends stay in London on Nawaz’s advice

Sufi night leaves audience spellbound at PNCA



IDFFighter Jets Launches Operation Shield and Arrow againstthe Islamic Jihad in Gaza

12 people including women and children killed in Israeli airstrikes in Gaza

Endowments minister meets president of Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council

Israel said warning Hamas not to attack ahead of Flag March through Muslim Quarter

Israel Kills 3 from Militant Islamic Jihad Outfit In targeted Gaza Strikes


Southeast Asia

Unilateral Conversion: MAIWP Seeks To Safeguard Muslim Parents Rights

Malaysia and Thailand Host Nuclear Security Technical and Information Exchange Opportunities through IAEA Network

HR Minister Sivakumar confirms five officers sacked following corruption probe

MDEC: $2.8tn ripe for digitalisation in global Islamic economy

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



 Bauchi State Government and Security Agencies Warns Against Arrest of Bauchi Islamic Cleric, Abdulaziz over Alleged Blasphemy of Prophet Muhammad (SAW)


Imam Idris Abdul aziz Dutsen Tanshi Bauchi 27


May 9, 2023

By Hafsat Abdulhamid

The Bauchi State government and security agencies in the state were on Monday warned against any attempt to arrest a popular Bauchi-based Islamic scholar, Imam Dr Idris Abdulaziz, over alleged blasphemy of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

The Bauchi State chapter of Jama’atu Shababil Islam gave the warning at a press conference held at the secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Bauchi.

Led by its chairman and the secretary, Dr Salisu Isah Sa’idu and Mal. Ibrahim Muhammad, respectively, the Islamic group further warned against any move capable of plunging the state into a religious crisis.

While saying that holding grudges against opponents after winning the recent election in the state is uncalled for, the Jama’atu Shababil Islam declared that the state Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed ought to have realised the fact it is only Allah who gives power to whoever He wishes and takes sovereignty from whom He wishes as well.

“We wish to call the attention of His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Bauchi State, Sen. Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed to know that Allah, the disposer of affairs is the one who gives power to whoever he wishes and takes sovereignty from whom he wishes as contained in verse 26, of surah (Ali-Imran), and therefore holding grudges on opponents after winning re-election is uncalled for.”

”His Excellency should be informed that there is a global conspiracy against Ahlus Sunnah and the implementation has begun at national level and now in his state. We, therefore, wish to call on him not to allow himself to be part or be used as a tool for the conspirators for whatever reason,” the group said.

While asserting that Bauchi State is a Muslim state with over 75% of the population belonging to the Sunni sect, the group noted that Ahlus Sunnah clerics in the state have been doing everything possible to ensure the state remained peaceful, including putting their lives at stake.

According to the group, “His Excellency should as a matter of national security concern stop the planned arrest and intimidation of Imam Dr Idris Abdul’aziz for the continued peace that our dear state enjoys.”

It then charged the police to exercise due diligence and professionalism in handling the matter, submitting that in situations where sectarian strife exists, conflicts erupt if not handled properly and justly.

“The police should know that no secular dictates could be used to intimidate any of our scholars, invalidate any fundamental of Sunnah for whatever reason, or render inconsistent the clean ‘Tauheed’ that we hold dear. The matter should be channeled to the appropriate Islamic establishment for resolution,” it stated.

Abdulaziz was reported to the Bauchi State Shariah Commission and the State Police Command by a coalition of politicians and members of an Islamic sect, Fityanul Islam following a statement he made while giving explanations during Tafsir in the holy month of Ramadan, which was given diverse interpretations.


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Anti-Muslim Twitter Feed In Spain: To Undermine Islam in Spain’s Multicultural Democracy


FILE - People light candles on Jan. 26, 2023, next to a memorial site for a church sacristan who was killed on Jan. 25 in Algeciras, southern Spain. Far-right groups have used Twitter to spread hate directed at Muslims and Immigrants. Many of them reference the Reconquista, the period in the Middle Ages that saw Christians retake vast parts of the Iberian peninsula from its Muslim leaders. The term has also been used by the Vox Party, a far-right party that has been praised by ex-U.S. President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Juan Carlos Toro)


May 8, 2023

By David Klepper

WASHINGTON (AP) — The person who operates the Twitter account claims to be an Islamic fundamentalist living in Spain, empathizing with violent extremists and longing for the days, more than six centuries ago, when Muslims ruled the country.

The views are as fake as the account, part of a loose and informal effort by far-right nationalists in Spain to use social media to stir up anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant fervour and to undermine faith in Spain’s multicultural democracy. In some cases, they exploit Twitter’s loose rules to spread hateful messages and threats of violence, while in others they pose as Muslims as a way to disparage actual followers of Islam.

By harnessing the power of social media to communicate, coordinate and evangelize, those behind the so-called Reconquista movement are relying on the same playbook used by far-right extremists in the U.S., Brazil and other countries who have used social media to expand their power and recruit new followers.

Reconquista also borrows the same rhetoric used by far-right groups in the U.S., and even some of the same online memes, including Pepe the Frog, a crudely drawn amphibian who has become a mascot for white supremacist and antigovernment groups in the U.S. In one Reconquista meme, Pepe is shown wearing the garb of a 16th century Spanish conquistador.

As in the U.S. and other countries, the Spanish nationalists have seized on debates over trans rights, spreading misleading claims about the exploitation of children and supposed conspiracies to eradicate the idea of gender. They’ve also criticized COVID-19 vaccines, feminism, efforts to address climate change and support for Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.

The remarkable overlap of tactics and interests isn’t a coincidence, but reflects how far-right groups in many countries are learning from one another, copying each other’s successes, said Joel Finkelstein, co-founder of the Network Contagion Research Institute, a Princeton, N.J. group that partners with Rutgers University on the Network Contagion Lab, a training and educational center focused on cyber threats.

The institute published a report on Reconquista this week. The findings were first reported by The Associated Press.

“This is a recipe for disaster,” Finkelstein told the AP. ”All over the world we’re seeing different manifestations of the same kind of problem. The flags are all different, but it’s remarkable how similar the memes are.”

One concern, Finkelstein said, is that the rhetoric could lead to real-world violence.

Reconquista takes its name from the successful effort by Christian leaders to reconquer vast parts of the Iberian Peninsula from its Islamic rulers and expel Muslims during the Middle Ages. It’s a term embraced by some on the far-right, who see their opposition to Islam and immigrants as a divinely ordained sequel of sorts to that bloody, centuries long conflict.

Anti-Muslim rhetoric from accounts linked to Reconquista soared after a Moroccan man attacked two Catholic churches in the southern city of Algeciras in January, killing a church officer and injuring a priest. The man, an unauthorized immigrant, is now jailed in the psychiatric ward of a Spanish prison awaiting the results of a judicial probe; authorities believe he acted alone.

Many of the violent threats against Muslims that spread on Twitter following the attack violated the platform’s rules, and in some cases the platform did act to remove the content or suspend the author. But often those behind the content simply created a new account days after they were suspended.

The far-right party Vox helped popularize Reconquista online, using the term repeatedly in Tweets ahead of the 2019 election. Vox, whose members express strongly anti-immigrant views, now holds 52 seats, or the third largest number, in Spain’s 350-member lower legislative chamber. The party’s Twitter account was briefly suspended in 2020 for accusing its critics of promoting pedophilia, and again in 2021 for inciting hatred against Muslims.

The party’s leader, Santiago Abascal, has made several references to the Reconquista, as he did last year in a Tweet. “Today is the anniversary of the reconquest of Granada, an indelible memory of the day the recovery of the entire national territory was completed after eight centuries of Islamic invasion,” he wrote.

Supporters of La Reconquista often display Spanish flags in their profiles and some openly praise Francisco Franco, the fascist dictator whose rule ended more than 40 years ago. They often refer to Muslims as Moors, an outdated historical term for Muslims from North Africa. One uses a photo of ex-U.S. President Donald Trump as their profile picture.

“If loving Spain is very facha, well, I am very facha,” reads the Twitter bio of one supporter of La Reconquista, using a Spanish term for fascism.

“Reconquista style, but we won’t only remove the moors but also those who opened their doors to them,” wrote another.

Spain has responded to the effort to rehabilitate Franco’s legacy by passing a law last year that made it a crime to glorify the dictator. In 2019 Franco’s body was exhumed from a tomb at a grandiose memorial complex built by the fascists. He was reburied in a nearby cemetery.

Far-right groups in several countries have sought to reshape public understanding of events like the holocaust, slavery and, more recently, the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. By ignoring the details of the historic Reconquista or Franco’s dictatorship, La Reconquista seeks to legitimize its own anti-immigrant views as traditional Spanish values, according to Marc Esteve Del Valle, a professor at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands who has studied Reconquista’s use of the internet.

In that sense, the internet isn’t just a place where Reconquista supporters find each other and share information, but a method of shaping public opinion and politics.

“The social networks are tools to organize, to mobilize. It’s where the movement lives,” Esteve Del Valle said.

Twitter has drastically reduced its staff focused on ferreting out misinformation, hate speech and extremist content since it was bought by Elon Musk. The company did not respond to messages seeking comment about La Reconquista.

In recent years a number of informally organized far-right groups have used social media in similar ways.

In Italy, an anti-vaccine group known as V_V (after the movie “V for Vendetta”) has used Telegram to threaten nurses, doctors and others involved in efforts to save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Germany, a similar group known as Querdenken used Facebook to encourage violence against vaccine supporters until it was kicked off the site. In Brazil, supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro plotted on social media ahead of January’s violent attack in Brasilia.

And in the U.S., social media played a critical role in spurring the deadly Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol, and is now being used by supporters of Trump in an effort to whitewash the events of that day.

Trump himself has helped build bridges between some of the groups, as when he praised the Spanish Vox Party during a video message played at a rally last year.

“We have to make sure that we protect our borders and do lots of very good conservative things,” Trump told the crowd. “Spain is a great country and we want to keep it a great country. So congratulations to Vox for so many great messages you get out to the people of Spain and the people of the world.”


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Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Dismisses UNAMA Report on Enforcement Of Sharia As Baseless


Zabihullah Mujahid, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) spokesman


May 9, 2023

Zabihullah Mujahid, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) spokesman, on Tuesday dismissed claims made in the latest report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) about the functioning of courts and the enforcement of Sharia in the country.

Mujahid said in a series of tweets that UNAMA’s allegations are baseless and do not reflect the reality on the ground.

“The judicial system in Afghanistan has become stronger than before, and justice has been ensured, while the rights of the citizens are being respected in accordance with Islamic rules,” Mujahid stated in his tweet.

Mujahid said the judicial system in the country has been established on the basis of transparency and that efforts to further strengthen it are ongoing.

He also stated that the achievements of the Afghan judiciary system have contributed to global security.

“If the progress and achievements are still ignored and there is disbelief, then it is unfair,” Mujahid tweeted.

The UNAMA report documented various human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions, and restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly. The report also raised concerns about the IEA’s enforcement of certain Sharia provisions, such as punishments for alleged moral crimes, which have been criticized for being inhumane and discriminatory.


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Leaders Say Muslim Americans Are Gaining Political Clout after Decades of Hard Work by First- And Second-Generation Immigrants


The West Aurora High School Air Force JROTC all-girls Unarmed Drill Team won the 2023 National Championship title. They were honored by the City of Aurora with awards and a special proclamation. - Courtesy of City of Aurora



Madhu Krishnamurthy

Dozens of newly elected Muslim American candidates gathered Saturday at Reza's Restaurant in Oak Brook to mark their historic wins to a variety of local-, county- and state-level offices.

Community leaders say it's a sign of Muslim Americans' growing political clout, how far the community has come and decades of hard work by first- and second-generation immigrants.

"Fifteen years we have been struggling in educating people (to) please run for office," said Asad Khan of Streamwood, a Poplar Creek Public Library District trustee. "You see the result today."

Vaseem Iftekhar of Hawthorn Woods, who founded the Northern Illinois American Muslim Alliance political action committee, said there was a dire need for civic and political engagement in the community.

"We feel that all politics is local and from local politics you will get emergent leaders," he said.

On April 4, nearly 50 candidates of all backgrounds who identify as Muslim ran for elected office across Illinois. In total, more than 150 Muslims have been elected or appointed statewide, according to the Muslim Civic Coalition, among the organizers of Saturday's gathering.

Illinois has the largest per capita Muslim American population in the nation, said Reema Kamran of Elmhurst, Muslim Civic Coalition executive director and co-founder.

Seeing the wave of Muslim candidates sweep offices across the state and country didn't come as a surprise to state Rep. Abdelnasser Rashid of Bridgeview, the first Palestinian American to be elected to the state legislature.

Rashid, who represents 21st House District. was elected in November along with state Rep. Nabeela Syed, a Palatine native who became the first Indian American woman and one of the first Muslims to be elected to the Illinois General Assembly. She represents the 51st state House District.

"We know just how much talent there is in our community," Rashid said Saturday. "We also have to grapple with the reality of governing."

That includes addressing issues that transcend religious or ethnic concerns, such as supporting small businesses, creating affordable housing, education policies and protecting the environment, he said.

Newly elected Elgin Area School District U-46 school board member Samreen Khan of Bartlett, who also is on the board of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago Action Network, said she hopes to create a working group of school board officials to ensure that curriculum in schools statewide is more inclusive.

Helping minority businesses

The Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce and Elgin Development Group are building a network to advance Black, Latino, and other minority small businesses and entrepreneurial leaders.

A new committee, BRIDGES, has been formed for shared learning, directed access and advocacy/marketing platforms. Its inaugural event was held May 2 at Hawthorne Hill Nature Center in Elgin.

The BRIDGES committee is led by co-chairs Rise Jones, founder and executive director of Hamilton Wings, and Mary Nappier, national operation support manager of Stanley Steemer.

"Our BRIDGES initiative of reaching out to diverse groups in our community evolved from the Elgin Area Chamber's strategic plan and the Elgin Development Group's focus on helping businesses remain strong and to grow," Jones said. "We've created this platform encouraging individuals in taking the next step to grow or start their own business."

The concept behind the BRIDGES' name envelopes its vision, mission, and core messages -- building business, resourcing, incorporating, developing, growth, expanding, and strategic, strength, success. For more information about BRIDGES, call (847) 741-5660.

Girl drill power

For the second consecutive year, the West Aurora High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps took home the national championship gold.

The all-girls Unarmed Exhibition Drill Team beat 26 other teams to clinch the national championship title at the 2023 Air Force JROTC Open Drill Nationals Competition in March in Dayton, Ohio.

In 2022, the West Aurora Blackhawks won the Armed Division category.

The City of Aurora recently honored the Lady Blackhawks with awards of excellence, an honorary street sign and Mayor Richard Irvin issuing a special proclamation designating West Aurora Girls Unarmed Drill Team' Day.

Holocaust survivor search

The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center's latest exhibition, "The Girl in the Diary: Searching for Rywka from the Lódz Ghetto," runs May 18 through Sept. 24.

In 1945, a diary written by a 14-year-old Jewish girl named Rywka Lipszyc was found in the ashes of a destroyed crematorium at Auschwitz-Birkenau. It documented her life in the Lódz Ghetto between October 1943 and April 1944.

Through historical artifacts and documents, interactive touch screens, documentary videos and rare photographs, the exhibit explores the story of Rywka's fight for survival in the Lódz ghetto and reconstructs what might have happened to her after her deportation to Auschwitz.

The exhibition is presented in English and Polish for the first time since its debut at the Galicia Jewish Museum in Kraków, Poland. It focuses on Rywka's memoir and efforts by historians and archivists to track down the teenage author's whereabouts after the Holocaust.

"Rywka's words speak for thousands upon thousands of people, including children, who never had the chance to record their story," chief Curator Arielle Weininger said. "While most wartime narratives of German occupation focus on the fate of men, the perspective from Rywka is the opposite. Her diary is populated by women and its structure is created by relations between them. It is filled with their pain and longing, their daily struggles and courage."

For details about the exhibition, visit

The museum, at 9603 Woods Drive, Skokie, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Monday. For more information, visit or call (847) 967-4800.

Learn your rights

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Chicago and ACLU-Illinois will host "Know Your Rights" information sessions on May 16 to explain your legal rights if stopped by police or if you need to call the police in an emergency.

The event is free and open to the public.

The "How To Navigate Police Encounters" information session will be held from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Azima Center, CAIR-Chicago, 17 N. State St., 15th Floor. Sign up at

Sessions include an "Exercise Your Rights!" art station where participants can create protest posters that help express their thoughts about policing in America.

AAPI voices

The City of Naperville will host its next Embrace Naperville series session, "The Power of Connection: AAPI Voices & Community," from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the 95th Street Library, 3015 Cedar Glade Drive, Naperville.

The event will include an interactive discussion featuring six panelists -- Durriya Gunja, Jacob Kadolph, Melvin Kim, Dr. Tracy P. Leung, Dr. Jennifer K. Shah and Will Wong -- from the Asian American and Pacific Islander community sharing their experiences in Naperville.

Geneace Williams, the city's diversity, equity and inclusion manager, leads the Embrace Naperville series. This year's focus is "Empowering our Mission Through a Year of Learning." Partners include the Naperville Public Library and Chinese American Women in Action.


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First Saudi and Arab Doctor, Dr. Jalees RazavWins Prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award From US College


Dr. Jalees Razavi


Nada Alturki

May 08, 2023

 RIYADH: A Saudi doctor has been presented with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement in OEM Award by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Dr. Jalees Razavi is the first Saudi, and Arab, to have been honoured with the prize and also the first person from outside North America.

The award, which was created in 1938 by William S. Knudsen, then president of General Motors, recognizes doctors who have made a distinguished contribution to occupational and environmental medicine.

“Never in my wildest dream did I think that I would ever be nominated, let alone win it, Razavi told Arab News.

“I Googled the award and was speechless, as the luminaries who have won this award in the past consist of the who’s who of the specialty, such as C. Everett Koop, the 13th surgeon general of the US, and the father of modern occupational medicine in Canada, Ernest Mastromatteo in 1987.”

 Based in Canada, Razavi has been a pioneer in the field of occupational and environmental medicine in Saudi Arabia and across the Middle East, and has chaired many symposiums, conferences and technical workshops.

“I think (receiving the award) is the combination of my active clinical work, unyielding commitment to the health and safety of the workforce and teaching,” he said.

At the award ceremony, Razavi was praised for his work as head of occupational medicine and later as chief of preventive medicine at Saudi Aramco, where he led on a number of environmental health campaigns.

“During my work as the executive medical director for Imperial Oil Ltd., Canada and ExxonMobil I worked on the slogan I introduced: ‘Having a Healthy Career,’” he said.

Razavi said occupational and environmental medicine was the field that dealt with the relationship between work and people’s physical and mental health.

“Without enough physicians, the gap is filled by professionals who will not have the skill sets required to address worker health needs. This ultimately impacts the health of workers and even their safety, depending on their job. I don’t think that there is a global solution, nor is it something that can be solved alone.

“Instead, governments, industries, unions, workers, medical schools, regulatory bodies and others should come together to determine how to arrive at an adequate number of specialists to meet population needs and maintain worker health.”

He also suggested incorporating OEM courses in undergraduate medical education and postgraduate residency training in order to grow interest and awareness in the speciality.

“Over the past 20 or more years, planetary health, global warming, greenhouse effect and climate change became global challenges. The occupational medicine specialists were quick to recognize the need for addressing the environmental medicine need,” Razavi said.

“The postgraduate programs in occupational medicine at the Universities of Toronto, Alberta and Montreal, for example, over the last many years have expanded their training curriculum to include environmental medicine.

“I expanded my practice for heat- and cold-related diseases and injuries, migrant and remote workers heath, and I also consult on disaster responses, because what happens in one corner of the world can impact the rest within hours, such as with COVID-19 or catastrophes such as Fukushima or Chernobyl.”

Different from clinical medicine, OEM evaluates and addresses whether certain illnesses are caused by a specific workplace exposure and evaluates risk, toxicology, injuries management and prevention.

“For example, we may diagnose diabetes in the workplace during routine screening. We don’t actively treat the condition, but assess and manage the impact of the disease on the worker’s health at work, and his or her safety in the workplace,” Razavi said.

He said he was proud to be the first Saudi to win the award.

“Saudi Arabia has many world class medical researchers. Many Saudis have already proven to the world that they are hardworking, capable, ethical and goal-oriented professionals. I hope that this award will inspire the next generations of Saudi professionals to continue to work hard and aim higher.”


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Coming From Christian Dominated Constituency, As A Muslim, I‘ve Qualities To Lead 10th House Of Representatives — Gagdi

May 9, 2023

By Joy Anigbogu

Yusuf Gagdi represents Pankshin/Kanam/Kanke federal constituency of Plateau State. He is an aspirant for the Speakership of the House of Representatives. In this interview, speaks about why he is well positioned to lead the 10th House of Representatives, what he would bring to the table, the fact that the North-Central has never produced a Speaker of the House, why the All Progressives Congress (APC) should in the spirit of equity, fairness and justice zone the position to the North-Central, among other issues. JOY ANIGBOGU brings the excerpts:

YousaidthatyouarethekindofleaderthatNigeria needs now, there are other contenders for that office, what are you bringing to the table as Speaker of the House of Representatives, and why do you think that you deserve to be the Speaker?

As a contender, what I will be bringing to the table is experience and how do I define experience here? I have the privilege to be reelected as a member of the State House of Assembly and as a Deputy Speaker to preside over the state House of Assembly. Secondly, the constitutional responsibility of the parliament is to make laws, and how do you make laws, for peace, order and good governance? In addition to the secondary version of discharging oversight responsibility. I have done that maximally to the best of my ability and I have said that I am qualified in the sense that within three years of the four years of my being in the House of Representatives, I have sponsored 21 bills and out of these 21 bills, Mr President has assented to six of my private member bills. This is on record and I think that if you search, four angles of the archives of the National Assembly, I don’t think that there is any member of the House of Representatives who has within three years pushed, lobbied for 21 bills, with six being assented to by Mr. President. If I have within three years pushed for 21 legislatures and six have received the blessing of Mr. President, So, if parliaments are to make laws and I have come within three years, pushed for 21 bills and six have received the blessings of the President, I am in the Guinness Book of Records. I represent Pankshin/Kanam/Kanke federal constituency of Plateau State, with three local governments. I am a Muslim and my constituency is made up of 70 percent Christians, can you tell me of one or two politicians who based on the 2023 general elections, that is fully of religiosity, ethnicity and what have you, who is coming from a Muslim faith, whereas he is contesting an election in 70 percent Christian dominated constituency that will elect him for the second time. It tells you the kind of relationship, and how I have represented my people so far in the last four years. So, if that is the case, I am looking at the contemporary issues within Nigeria, the issue of insecurity, issue of mutual distrust among the different regions in Nigeria, I think my background coming from a Christian dominated constituency, and as a Muslim, I have the qualification to preside over the 10th House of Representatives. In addition to the fact that I did well, I will also say that leadership comes from God. The constitution guarantees the financial autonomy of the National Assembly. It is placed on the first line charge in the federal budget. However, committees of the House routinely get financial and logistics support from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), which they oversee in the course of their official duties. It is not a good use of resources for the House of Representatives to spend all of its time on establishment bills. It is an aberration of democratic practice for the oversight committees of the National Assembly to depend on the executive agencies under their purview to fund oversight activities. I plan to trigger a conversation on how the parliament ought to perform. I acknowledge that the federal parliament has yet to meet the expectations of Nigeria after 24 years of uninterrupted democracy. I promise to open up the activities of the House to ensure transparency and accountability.


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Islamic group loses 3 members in road accident in Niger

May 8, 2023

By Priscilla Dennis

At least three members of the Niger State chapter of the Joint First Aid Group of Islam, Zone C, reportedly died in an auto accident in Kontagora, Kontagora Local Government Area of the state.

The incident occurred in the early hours of Monday.

The victims, riding on a motorcycle heading for a wedding, were reportedly hit by a vehicle, DAILY POST learnt.

According to a witness, the victims were knocked down 10 minutes after they left Kontagora on their way to Tunga Kawo.

Malam Mustapha Nasiru Batsari, the zonal chairman of the group, in a statement, expressed shock over the tragedy and also notified that the burial of the deceased is scheduled for today at 4 pm at the palace of the Emir of Kontagora.


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Coca-Cola Felicitates With Muslims At ‘Eid Fest’ In Kano

May 8, 2023

By Bamidele Ogunwusi

LAGOS – To mark the end of the month of Ramadan, Coca-Cola recently celebrated Eid-el-Fitr festivities with Muslims at the ‘Coca-Cola Eid Fest’ which was held at the Meena Event Centre in Kano Metropolis of Kano State, Nigeria.

With the conclusion of the month-long spiritual activity, the total beverage company felicitated with Muslims through an Eid celebration that helped convey the essence of the spiritual observance, by sharing joy and bringing together members of the Islamic community in Kano State.

Speaking on the significance of the celebration, the Marketing Director, Coca-Cola Nigeria, Yusuf Murtala explained; “It has been a fulfilling month for Muslims across the country following the completion of Ramadan and the spiritual activities that come with the holy month.

“As they mark this year’s Eid-el-Fitr, we are committed to making this Eid a rewarding one by creating the right experiences for our consumers as they celebrate with family and friends.

“We encourage people to continue in the spirit of giving, even beyond Ramadan. As a leading beverage brand, we will continue to excite our consumers, sharing happiness and creating real wonder across our communities in Nigeria”, Murtala said.

The Eid Fest was a continuation of the company’s campaign promise of ‘sharing and giving’ throughout the month of Ramadan, which saw the company distribute meals and its coveted beverages to community members at prayer grounds following the daily prayers.

With specially curated experiences for its consumers at the Eid Fest, Coca-Cola reinforced its ethos of sharing during Ramadan which the company had initially commenced at the beginning of the holy month through online engagements and giftings that helped intensify the message of Ramadan.

The much anticipated Eid Fest hosted consumers to an immersive experience that saw performances from some notable music artists including Auta MG, Auta Waziri, Ahmad and D’ One, Imisi Singer and a thrilling dance presentation by the Koroso dancers.


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French government reports rise in secular breaches in schools during Ramadan


France's education minister Pap Ndiaye said that there were "about 500 cases" of breaches of secularism in French schools this March – figures that were up on previous months – due to the observance of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Ndiaye was speaking on France 3 television on Sunday about the so-called "barometer" that France uses to record the wearing of religious symbols, dress code, verbal provocation, the rejection of republican values in over 59,000 schools, colleges and senior high schools.

The education minister told the "Dimanche en Politique" programme that: "The figures ... show a decrease since a peak in October [as] there is always a peak in [then] linked in particular to the commemoration of the murder of Samuel Paty."

Teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded by an 18-year-old Islamist outside Paris in 2020 following a social media campaign that criticised him showing cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed as part of his civic education class.

Rise and fall of breaches in secular rules

"And then there is always a rise, every year at the time of Ramadan," Ndiaye added without giving any details on the nature of the attacks on secularism during the Muslim holy month.

French prosecutors charge two pupils, five adults over slain teacher

The minister said about 500 cases were recorded for the month of March, but the figures are expected to drop because of the end of Ramadan and also the spring holidays.

Reports of breaches of secularism numbered 720 in October, according to France's education ministry, with a high proportion of incidents linked to the wearing of religious symbols and clothing.

However, they reportedly dropped to 353 in November.

Professors suspended for criticising education system on-line

When asked about a recent case of two philosophy teachers who were suspended for three months for their repeated and controversial comments on social networks, Ndiaye said that the comments from the teachers were unacceptable.

"We are talking about outrageous, conspiratorial and insulting comments of great violence".

'Growing number' of French schoolgirls flouting secularism rules

"We guarantee the right to free expression, but this type of comment does not fall within the right to free expression," he insisted.

The two are accused of sharing videos and content on social networks, likely to damage "the image and reputation of the public service of national education".


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Globalist elites provoke bloody conflicts and coups – Putin

9 May, 2023

Western elites have forgotten the consequences of the Nazis’ “insane ambitions,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said during his Victory Day Parade speech on Red Square in Moscow.

Russia believes that “any ideology of superiority is by its nature disgusting, criminal and deadly,” the president pointed out.

“The globalist elites keep insisting on their exceptionalism; they pit people against each other, split societies, provoke bloody conflicts and coups, sow hatred, Russophobia and aggressive nationalism, destroy traditional family values that make human a human,” Putin said.

According to the Russian leader, all this is being done by the US and allies in order to “further dictate their will, their rights and their rules” and implement what is basically “a system of robbery, violence and suppression” on the international stage.

“It seems that they have forgotten what the insane ambitions of the Nazis led to. They have forgotten who defeated this monstrous, total evil,” he stressed.

Referring to the conflict in Ukraine, Putin said that “a real war has been unleashed against out Motherland. But we resisted international terrorism. We’ll also defend the residents of Donbass and assure our security.”

The aim of the West is “to achieve the disintegration and destruction of our country, nullify the results of World War II, completely break down the system of global security and international law, and strangle any sovereign centers of development,” he insisted.

The US and its allies are to blame for the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine, the head of state said.

“Overwhelming ambitions, arrogance and permissiveness inevitably lead to tragedies. This is the reason for the catastrophe that the Ukrainian people are now experiencing,” he pointed out.

The Ukrainians became “hostages” of the coup that took place in the country in 2014 and were turned into “a bargaining chip” by the West, which uses the country to implement its “cruel selfish plans.”


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Europe’s largest nuclear power plant dormant – governor

8 May, 2023

Russia’s Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant has been put into a dormant state, the interim governor of Zaporozhye Region, Evgeniy Balitsky, has declared. The decision to halt the station’s work was made due to the threat of “unpredictable” actions by Kiev, the official said on Monday.

“We understand that this is a manipulation. Therefore, the nuclear reactors have now been powered down. The fifth reactor is on hot standby. We do not understand what this monkey with a grenade can perform, so we have powered down the reactors,” Balitsky told the Crimea 24 TV channel.

The reactor blocks were shut down last week, with their maintenance “continuing in accordance with all necessary regulations, with strict control of radiation safety standards,” the director of the nuclear plant, Yuri Chernichuk, said on Friday.

Concerns over the safety of the Zaporozhye installation have skyrocketed as of late amid the looming, long-hyped Ukrainian counteroffensive. The security situation in the area near the facility was “becoming increasingly unpredictable and potentially dangerous,” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi warned on Saturday.

“I’m extremely concerned about the very real nuclear safety and security risks facing the plant. We must act now to prevent the threat of a severe nuclear accident and its associated consequences for the population and the environment,” he said.

Russian troops took control of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in March 2022. A subsidiary of Moscow’s state-owned nuclear energy giant Rosatom formally assumed management of the plant last fall, when Zaporozhye Region voted to join Russia along with Kherson, Donetsk and Lugansk.

The nuclear facility has become the target for repeated artillery shelling and drone attacks by Kiev’s forces. Apart from that, the Ukrainian military has repeatedly staged landing operations across the Dnepr River in an apparent attempt to seize the facility. So far, such attacks have been unsuccessful, and the station itself did not sustain critical damage, which may potentially result in a major nuclear catastrophe.


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South Asia


Afghan Acting FM Urges Pakistan, TTP Militants To Hold Talks

May 8, 2023

The acting foreign minister of Afghanistan, Amir Khan Muttaqi, has asked Pakistan and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) for dialogue amid a substantial rise in deadly attacks on Pakistani security forces in recent months.

“It is requested that Pakistan and TTP sit together for dialogue,” the Afghan acting minister said while addressing an event in Islamabad on Monday.

Muttaqi is on a four-day visit to Islamabad to participate in bilateral and trilateral talks.

The Afghan Taliban had mediated many discussions between Pakistan and the TTP, but last year’s talks failed, prompting the militant group to resume its terrorist attacks. Since the TTP militant organization formally broke the ceasefire on November 28, violence in Pakistan has increased.

Muttaqi further stated that there are no differences between the difficulties Pakistan and Afghanistan experience as neighbours. The minister declared that both countries would cooperate now that they have experienced numerous challenges.

“Pakistan and Afghanistan will have to show flexibility and move towards a brighter future,” he said.

Meanwhile, he added that regional connectivity was the top priority of the Afghanistan interim regime.

“We seek good relations with all our neighbours, including Tajikistan, Pakistan, China, and other Central Asian states,” he added.

Muttaqi said there are more than just friendly relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The two countries are connected through interethnic, historical, religious, social, and geographic ties. For projects involving railroads and transportation, Pakistan and Afghanistan must invest together in infrastructure.

The minister said, “Pakistan has always been our focus. There has been interest in economic ties with the country since the beginning.”


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Qatar begins rebuilding 326 homes for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

May 09, 2023

DOHA: Humanitarian and development nongovernmental organization Qatar Charity is to rebuild 326 homes for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. They were damaged in March by a fire at the Balukhali camp.

The design and construction of the houses, which will have two rooms for each family to live in, has begun, the Qatar News Agency reported on Monday. Local authorities thanked the people of Qatar for their support for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and ongoing humanitarian efforts in other refugee camps in the country.

A large fire at the Balukhali camp in Cox’s Bazar, which broke out on March 5, displaced about 12,000 refugees, destroyed more than 2,000 homes, and damaged hospitals and educational facilities.

Qatar Charity previously repaired 537 homes for Rohingya refugees in the nearby Kutupalong camp, which was similarly damaged by fire in 2021.


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Hundreds of Afghan immigrants return to Afghanistan from Pakistan

May 9, 2023

The Ministry of Migration of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) says that hundreds of Afghan migrants have returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan this month.

According to the ministry, last week, 703 immigrants living in Pakistan returned to the country through the Spin Boldak crossing in Kandahar province.

The Spin Boldak Border Directorate of Kandahar province stated 94 returnee families, including 625 voluntarily and 51 forced returnees, came home after registering with the Immigration Department.

They were introduced to the offices of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

A food package was also distributed to each returnee from the office of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).


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Health ministry marks World Thalassemia Day in Kabul

May 9, 2023

The Ministry of Public and Health (MoPH) marked World Thalassemia Day on Monday in Kabul and said they are committed to standardizing health services throughout the country and are trying to establish more diagnostic centers for this disease.

According to MoPH officials, more than 12,000 people suffer from the disease in the country.

“Over the past year, 12,103 thalassemia patients have been referred to the central blood bank and are registered with us,” said Mohammad Nasser Sadiq, director of the Central Blood Bank.

Mohammad Nabi, an Afghan cricket player, also spoke at the event and said he intends to establish a cancer treatment center in the country in cooperation with the Ministry of Public Health. He said the facility will also treat thalassemia patients.

“Thalassemia is a hereditary disease that is transmitted from parents to their children,” said a doctor at the event.

One and a half percent of people around the world suffer from this disease, according to reports.

Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder that causes a person’s body to have less hemoglobin than normal. Hemoglobin enables red blood cells to carry oxygen.


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Extraction Of Chromite Starts in Afghanistan’s Khost Province

May 8, 2023

Chromite mining has started in the Tani District of Khost Province, according to the Department of Mines and Petroleum of Afghanistan.

Mohammad Sadiq Hamza, head of mines and petroleum in Khost, said on Sunday that the extraction of Chromite has started after a local company was handed a five-year contract.

“One ton of chromite has been set at 10,000 afghanis, and 21,500 tons of chromite will be extracted from this mine in five years, and the revenue of 215 million afghanis will be gained,” said Hamza.

Additionally, over 200 local people will have employment opportunities in the province.

Recently, the Ministry of Mines said that 650 mines had been evaluated and that contracts would be given to domestic and international businesses to begin mining operations.

According to Khost provincial officials, two more mines will also begin operating soon.

Khost’s deputy governor, Mawlavi Mohammad Anwar Din Parwar, stated, “In the coming days,” you will witness the opening of two more mines in Khost province.”

Chromite is the only chromium source used in the steel industry to harden steel, manufacture stainless steel, and form alloys.

In addition, it is used in plating to produce a complex, beautiful surface and to prevent corrosion.


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North America


Canada expels Chinese diplomat for targeting critics of Beijing's treatment of Uyghur Muslims

May 9, 2023

 By Reuters: Canada on Monday expelled Toronto-based Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei after an intelligence report accused him of trying to target a Canadian lawmaker critical of China's treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority. "We will not tolerate any form of foreign interference," Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said on Monday.

The expulsion escalates already tense Sino-Canadian relations and is likely to prompt China, Canada's second-largest trading partner, to respond. China's embassy in Ottawa said it condemns the expulsion, and that it has formally protested the move to the government.

"China will resolutely take countermeasures," said a spokesperson for the embassy in a statement posted on its website.

Roland Paris, a former foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and professor of international affairs at the University of Ottawa, said China is most likely to respond by expelling a Canadian diplomat.

Spy agency Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) authored a report in 2021 about Chinese influence in Canada that included information about potential threats to Conservative Member of Parliament Michael Chong and his family.

"It shouldn't have taken two years for the government to make this decision," Chong told reporters after the announcement.

China has said it has never interfered in Canada's internal affairs and has no interest in doing so. China's Toronto consulate-general said the report on Chong has "no factual basis and is purely baseless."

Details of the CSIS report came to light on May 1, when Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper reported China sought information about Chong and his family in China in a likely effort to "make an example" of him and deter others from taking anti-Chinese government position.

The Globe, citing an unnamed national security source, said Zhao was involved in gathering information about Chong, who in 2021 sponsored a successful motion declaring China's treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority genocide.

Chong said he was "profoundly disappointed" to find out about the potential threat to his family in Hong Kong from a newspaper, and criticized Trudeau's government for inaction. He repeatedly called for Zhao's expulsion since the Globe report.

Trudeau said he found out about the intelligence report from the newspaper, and on Wednesday blamed the spy agency for not passing it onto him at the time. The agency has now been directed to immediately pass on information about threats to members of parliament and their families.

Canadian media outlets have published several reports, citing anonymous intelligence sources, alleging schemes run by the Chinese government to interfere in Canada's last two elections. Beijing has denied those allegations.

Trudeau has previously said China attempted to meddle in the 2019 and 2021 votes, but that the efforts did not change the outcome. He has appointed an independent special investigator to probe the allegations.

Diplomatic tensions between Canada and China have been running high since the detention of Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou in 2018 and Beijing's subsequent arrest of two Canadians on spying charges. All three were freed in 2021.

Last year, Beijing lifted a three-year ban on imports of canola, Canada’s largest crop, from trading companies Richardson International and Viterra. The restrictions followed Meng's arrest, but China cited concerns about pests in the crop shipments as its reason for the ban. China is also a major importer of Canadian potash and wheat.


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US ex-neo-Nazi convicted in Florida killing of roommates who mocked Islam conversion

8 May 2023

AP — A former member of a US neo-Nazi group pleaded guilty Monday to fatally shooting his two Florida roommates in 2017, abruptly avoiding the start of a murder trial in which he had planned to use the insanity defense, according to court records.

Devon Arthurs, 24, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder and will serve a 45-year prison sentence. The plea deal with prosecutors means Arthur will not face a possible life sentence.

“This defendant committed a cold and calculated crime and for that he will spend the majority of his life in prison,” said State Attorney Suzy Lopez in a statement. “The victims’ families are satisfied with this outcome which allows them to avoid a painful trial while knowing the defendant will have to dwell upon the pain he has caused for the next several decades behind bars.”

Arthurs admitted killing the roommates, Andrew Oneschuk, 18, and 22-year-old Jeremy Himmelman, nearly 6 years ago at the Tampa apartment they shared. Arthurs told police after his arrest that all three had been part of a small, mostly online neo-Nazi group called the Atomwaffen Division and that he shot the pair with an assault-style rifle because they ridiculed his conversion to Islam.

Inside the apartment the men shared, authorities said they found guns, ammunition and bomb-making material, along with a framed picture of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh on a bedroom dresser. Atomwaffen is German for “nuclear weapons.”

A third roommate and Atomwaffen co-founder, Brandon Russell, was not home when the slayings happened but found the bodies when he returned from duties with the National Guard, investigators said. Russell pleaded guilty in September 2017 to federal charges of possessing illegal firearms and a destructive device, as well as storing explosives illegally.

The bomb-making materials — including the highly explosive substance HMTD, several pounds of ammonium nitrate and homemade fuses — were discovered during the murder investigation. Arthurs told police the group planned terrorist attacks, possibly against nuclear plants.

“I prevented the deaths of a lot of people,” Arthurs said in a rambling statement after his arrest. Asked why his roommates would plan such an attack, he responded, “Because they want to build a Fourth Reich.”

Russell was sentenced to five years in prison on the weapons and bomb charges. After his release, he was charged in a new case earlier this year with plotting with a Maryland woman to attack Baltimore’s power grid in an attempt to stir racial unrest. Prosecutors said that plan was to target five substations situated in a ring around the majority-Black city. No attack took place.

Russell and his co-defendant, Sarah Beth Clendaniel, have both pleaded not guilty in Maryland federal court and are awaiting trial.

As for Arthurs, his case was delayed several times while he received mental treatment after being declared incompetent to stand trial in 2018 and again in 2020. Finally, in June 2022, a Hillsborough County judge determined Arthurs had restored his mental capacity sufficiently to stand trial.

“I feel I can be an advocate against extremism,” Arthurs said in court on Monday, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “I’d like to take this moment to tell the world to stay away from extremist groups…I’m very sorry for everyone that was involved. I’m very sorry for everything that has happened.”

Arthurs was first arrested shortly after the shootings — which police did not yet know about — while holding several people at gunpoint and making rambling statements at a local smoke shop. Doctors diagnosed Arthurs with schizophrenia, autism and other mental illnesses.


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Iowa City man charged with assault after allegedly punching someone leading prayer at Mosque

May. 8, 2023

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - An Iowa City man has been arrested and charged with assault after punching someone at a mosque last week.

In a criminal complaint, police said 27-year-old Shopan Bilal walked up behind the victim and punched them on the right side of the face. The victim was kneeling, leading a prayer at the time.

It happened at the Iowa City Mosque, located at 1812 W Benton Street, at about 1:35 p.m. on Thursday.

Police said the assault was caught on camera. The victim had redness, pain and a small cut on the right side of his face.


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Arab World


Over 3 million benefit from translation services at Grand Mosque

May 08, 2023

MAKKAH — The Languages and Translation Agency of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques has offered its services to visitors of the Grand Mosque to help them perform their rituals comfortably and ensure they have easy access to all services provided.

Deputy General President for Translation and Technical Affairs Ahmed Bin Abdulaziz Al-Hamidi said that the Spatial Guidance Department of the General Administration of Languages and Translation provided last month translation services to 3,465,208 people.

Other services the department offers include introducing Manarat Al-Haramain Platform, offering simultaneous translation of lessons and sermons held in the corridors of the Grand Mosque, and distributing headphones to those wishing to listen to them via FM broadcasting. — SPA


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Sheikh Mansour praises UAE Fatwa Council’s efforts for religious harmony


His Highness Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Presidential Court, on Monday received Shaikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, Chairman of the UAE Fatwa Council and members of the council, at Qasr Al Watan.

Sheikh Mansour was briefed about work and plans of the council that aim at spreading the tolerant values of Islam and enhancing the culture of coexistence and tolerance in the UAE and around the world, in line with the directives of the wise leadership and its far-sighted vision in this regard.

Sheikh Mansour praised the Council for its pioneering efforts in promoting true religious values, fostering human fraternity, and promoting solidarity among peoples of diverse religions and cultures.

He extended his best wishes for success to the Chairman of the Council and its members. A number of the council members and officials attended the meeting.


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Saudi foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan arrives in Algeria for official visit

Lama Alhamawi

May 09, 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Monday arrived in Algeria on an official visit.

As part of the trip the Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the National Community Abroad Ahmed Attaf hosted a dinner banquet for the prince and his accompanying delegation.

The dinner was attended by the Saudi ambassador to Algeria, Dr. Abdullah bin Nasser Al-Bussairi, and the director general of the foreign affairs office, Abdulrahman Al-Dawood.

The most recent visit by Prince Faisal to Algeria was during the 31st Arab Summit hosted by Algeria in November where he was received by Attaf at a reception ceremony, and then Algerian President Abdul Majeed Tabun at the summit headquarters.

Saudi Arabia and Algeria have exchanged numerous visits throughout the years in efforts to further strengthen their cooperation.

In May last year, Prince Faisal traveled to the north African nation on an official visit to meet with the previous Algerian foreign affairs minister, Ramtane Lamamra, and discussed ways to develop links between the two countries in all fields.


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Saudi Arabia, Korea discuss maritime transport cooperation

 May 08, 2023

 RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Transport and Logistic Services Saleh Al-Jasser met with Korean Minister of Oceans and Fisheries Cho, Seung-hwan, during his visit to Seoul.

During the meeting, they discussed ways to strengthen cooperation between the two countries in the field of maritime transport and ports.

After the meeting, Al-Jasser signed a memorandum of understanding with the Korean minister for mutual recognition of the certificate of competency of seafarers from both countries.

The agreement aims to streamline the seafarers’ business process flows between Saudi Arabia and Korea.


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Poland’s prime minister receives Saudi economy and planning minister

May 08, 2023

RIYADH: Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki received the Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning, Faisal Al-Ibrahim, during his official visit to Poland, the Kingdom’s ministry said on Monday.

During the meeting, they reviewed relations between the two countries, and discussed ways to enhance cooperation in a number of fields, as well as the most prominent issues of common interest. During his visit, Al-Ibrahim met with Poland’s Minister of Economic Development and Technology Waldemar Buda and discussed aspects of economic and development relations between the two countries and ways to develop them.

He also met with the President of the Polish Chamber of Commerce, Marek Kloczko, to discuss enhancing trade cooperation between the Kingdom and Poland.


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Young students to learn the art of making manga in Saudi Arabia

May 08, 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Education have launched the Manga Education Program to educate younger generations in the art of making manga comics. The program targets middle and secondary grades in public, private and international schools as part of the virtual extra-curricular activities implemented in the Madrasati Platform.

The program consists of 10 educational episodes, the content of which was built according to best practices and international standards by experts in Japanese universities. The aim of the program is to equip students with the skills necessary to produce comics, including creating characters, writing and drawing storyboard events.

 Manga is a style of Japanese comic books and graphic novels that make use of cartoon drawings and, unlike Western comics, are read from right to left.

The manga program falls within a partnership between the ministries that aims to promote artistic values and motivate students to create artwork inspired by national cultural identity. It comes as part of a larger strategy to develop cultural capabilities by including the arts in public education.


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"Tolerant Muslims Can Be Counted On Fingers": Junior Law Minister At RSS Event

May 09, 2023

New Delhi: Stoking a controversy, Union Minister Satya Pal Singh Baghel claimed that "tolerant Muslims can be counted on fingers" and it too "was a tactic to lead a public life wearing a mask" as it leads to Vice-President, Governor or Vice-Chancellor posts.

But the real face of such "so-called intellectuals" from the community gets revealed after they complete their term in office or retire, he alleged.

The Union Minister of State for Law and Justice made the comments on Monday while addressing the Dev Rishi Narad Patrakar Samman Samaroh - an event organised by the RSS's media wing Indraprastha Vishwa Samvad Kendra to present awards to journalists.

"Tolerant Muslims can be counted on fingers. I think their number is not even in the thousands. And, that too is a tactic to live in public life wearing the mask as the route leads to the house of vice president, governor or vice chancellor," Mr Baghel said.

"But when they retire, they give real statements. When they leave the chair, they give a statement which shows their reality," he added.

The Union Minister's remarks came after Information Commissioner Uday Mahurkar, in his speech at the event, said that India must fight Islamic fundamentalism but the "tolerant Muslims should be taken along".

Referring to Mughal emperor Akbar's efforts to foster Hindu-Muslim unity during his rule, Mr Mahurkar claimed that Chhatrapati Shivaji had seen him in a "positive light". "Akbar tried his best to achieve Hindu-Muslim unity," he said.

Dismissing the remarks, Mr Baghel, however, termed Akbar's efforts mere "tactics" and alleged that the Mughal emperor's marriage with Jodha Bai was part of his "political strategy".

"It did not come from his heart. Otherwise, the massacre of Chittorgarh would not have happened," he said, adding "Look at the Mughal period… the deeds of Aurangzeb. Sometimes, I wonder how did we survive." Baghel said India's bad days began in 1192 AD when Muhammad Ghori defeated Rajput King Prithviraj Chouhan.

Mr Baghel also raised the issue of religious conversion to allege that the number of people who have been converted to another religion through "gande-tabeez" (amulets) is larger than those under the swords.

"Be it Khwaja Gareeb Nawaz Saheb, Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia, or Saleem Chisti… Still today, people from our community go there in large numbers seeking children, jobs, tickets (to contest election), ministerial berth, elevation from a minister of state to a cabinet minister," he added.

The minister said members of the minority community feel that since they were "rulers" for such a long period, how could they become "subjects".

"The solution to the problem lies in providing good quality education. It can give some solution to the problem one day.

"If they study in a madrassa, they will learn Urdu, Arabic and Persian. All literature is good but with such study, they will become Pesh-Imam. And if they study physics and chemistry, they will become Abdul Kalam," Mr Baghel added.


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Muslim quota in Karnataka: SC says no political statement should be made on issue

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

The Supreme Court on Tuesday took serious exception to political statements being made on the sub-judice matter related to withdrawal of four percent Muslim quota in Karnataka, saying "some sanctity needs to be maintained".

A bench of Justices KM Joseph, BV Nagarathna and Ahsanuddin Amanullaj said, "When the matter is pending before the court and there is court order on Karnataka Muslim quota, then there should not be any political statements on the issue. It is not appropriate. Some sanctity needs to be maintained".

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the petitioners challenging scrapping of the four percent Muslim quota, said, "Everyday home minister is making statements in Karnataka that they have withdrawn four percent Muslim quota. Why should such statements be made?" Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Karnataka government objected to the statements being made, saying he is not aware of any such remarks and if anyone is saying that quota on the basis of religion should not be there, then what is wrong and it is a fact.

Justice Joseph said,''Solicitor General making a statement in the court is not a problem but some saying anything on a sub-judice matter outside the court is not appropriate. In 1971, a political leader was hauled up for contempt for holding a press conference against the order of the court''. Dave said these statements are being made every day.

Mehta said the court needs to restrain Dave from making such statements in the court and using the court proceedings for that. The bench said, "We will not allow this court to become a political forum. We are not party to it. We will adjourn the matter". At the outset, Mehta and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who is appearing for the Vokkaligas and Lingayats community members, said they need some accommodation from the hearing as constitution bench matter is going on same-sex marriage in which they are arguing. He assured that the interim order passed by the court will continue. Dave said that it should be till further orders. The bench then directed that the interim orders passed in the last hearing would continue till further orders and listed the matter in July. On April 26, the Karnataka government told the top court it has taken a ''conscious decision'' to not continue with reservation on the sole basis of religion as it is unconstitutional and it has, therefore, scrapped the provision of four per cent quota for the Muslim community.

The state government filed its reply to a batch of petitions challenging its two orders dated March 27, scrapping the four per cent quota for Muslims in 2B category of the 'Other Backward Castes' and granting benefits of increased quota to Vokkaligas and Lingayats in admissions and appointments to government jobs. The top court had said Karnataka's earlier regime granting four per cent reservation to Muslims will continue till May 9, the eve of polling for assembly elections, after the state government sought more time to file its reply.


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Hajj frauds, umrah scams are trapping Indian Muslims. Pay and get ghosted


8 May, 2023

New Delhi: Zahoor Ahmed reached the Mumbai airport from a small Rajasthan town with a glint in his eyes. He wasn’t seeking Bollywood stardust. His hajj dream was about to come true after a long struggle. With 39 other pilgrims, Zahoor stood eagerly before the grand airport — but the wait turned excruciatingly long and anxious before he got a major shock. The travel agent, who was expected to hand them their visa and e-tickets, never arrived.

Zahoor called him several times from outside the terminal. The Indore-based hajj agent Al Malik Haj Umrah Tour and Travels allegedly swindled all the pilgrims’ money — totalling more than Rs 1 crore.

What’s worse, 14 of the 39 people stranded at the airport were Zahoor’s relatives. He had planned the pilgrimage, convinced them about the logistics, taken their money, and given it to Malik. Dozens of calls later that day, 9 September 2022, he finally got through to the agent on his phone.

“Malik told me that he did not have our money, and we would not get tickets to go to hajj,” Zahoor recalls. His shock gave way to desperation and desolation. How would he return the money to all the friends and family members? “I started thinking about suicide, but later, I felt that nothing would happen by hiding my face,” he says.

Hajj frauds in India are trapping many unsuspecting and uneducated Muslim families, especially from rural areas and small towns. These are people who piece their life’s savings together or borrow from friends to go on the pilgrimage but lose their money in scams. Some even file police complaints, but most suffer heavy debts that last for years. As the new hajj season’s first flight from India is set to take off on 21 May, fears about fake agents are surfacing again. Saudi Arabia allotted a huge hajj quota of 1, 75,025 to India this year, up from 79,237 last year.

“My biggest concern in all my responsibilities are these frauds related to hajj,” says Kausar Jahan, the newly appointed chairperson of the Delhi State Haj Committee. “There are many people who say that they are hajj agents. But the reality is that it [the pilgrimage] does not happen at all.”

She says she regularly receives fraud complaints and forwards them to the Ministry of Minority Affairs; she doesn’t have the power to do more. “It does not come under our [the committee’s] jurisdiction,” she adds. The ministry did not respond to queries on the number of cases reported in 2017, 2018, 2022, and 2023. The story will be updated as and when a response is received.

After being scammed, Zahoor returned to his hometown Bara, Rajasthan, a doomed man. He had to repay all his relatives more than Rs 70 lakh, he says. Zahoor had no option but to sell his ancestral land. Word spread, and his own small tour and travel business crashed. He now sells onions on hand-pushed carts.

Knocking on the doors of law

Zahoor had been planning to go on hajj for years. In 2019, he collected Rs 42 lakh from 14 relatives to undertake the pilgrimage the following year and gave the money to Abdul Malik, whom he had met through an acquaintance. Malik claimed to be the owner of Indore’s Al Malik Haj Umrah Tour and Travels. But Zahoor’s plans got delayed by two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Come 2022, Malik started demanding more money, citing rising costs. Zahoor dipped into his savings and also collected additional funds from his relatives and handed it over to Malik. The total came to around Rs 77 lakh, Zahoor says.

No matter how hard he tried, he could neither repay the full amount nor regain the trust of his family relatives.

But Zahoor was determined that his story does not get buried under the heap of annual hajj fraud statistics. He decided to knock on the doors of law.

In November 2022, he traveled to Indore and filed a complaint at the Chandan Nagar police station. Malik was subsequently arrested.

“Malik used to take money from people for umrah and hajj. Seven FIRs have been registered in this matter,” says a senior police who doesn’t want to be named. Not all the people who were cheated by Malik approached the police. “Some settled the matter with him directly. But Ahmed’s case is under investigation because he filed a complaint.”

 Fake agents, forgery, false promises

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, a duty every Muslim must perform at least once in their lifetime. And hajj fraud is ubiquitous across India. Complaints are not registered with state haj committees but under the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs and Haj Committee of India.

At the Delhi State Haj Committee office near Turkman Gate, officials share stories of scammers running fake travel agencies, giving false promises to people desperate for visas, and touting cheap packages for as low as Rs 65,000 per person. On average, a pilgrim pays anywhere between Rs 3 and 3.5 lakh if they choose to apply through the Haj Committee of India, but the rates could be higher if they approach private operators offering five-star services. Earlier this year, the minority affairs ministry, in its new hajj policy, reduced the cost by Rs 50,000.

An officer recounted a case where a con artist had forged hajj forms, which are issued by the national committee, and allegedly managed to get them stamped by a nationalised bank to convince clients that their payments had been accepted. “We suspect that the bank employee was in on the scam,” says a Haj Committee officer who did not want to be named.

Touts and unlicensed operators prey on people’s ignorance and convince them that they register for hajj on a tourist visa. “But hajj cannot be performed on a tourist visa. And people realise this only after they reach Saudi Arabia to find that no facilities have been arranged for them. They remain there until they are deported by the Consulate General of India in Jeddah,” says Jahan.

Another committee official says that Muslims trust agents who promise to get their names in the draw of lots called qurrah, in return for a sum of money.

“These agents promise to return the deposits if their name doesn’t come in the draw. But they never return the money,” another official says. “They don’t know that the selection is made by the computer. They think that the agent can actually get their names on the list. This year, in Delhi alone, out of 4,110 names in the draw, 2,450 Hajis have been selected, of whom 39 are women.

Some also trick unsuspecting Muslims by falsely claiming that they can go on hajj under the government’s VIP quota, which was introduced by the UPA II government in 2012 and reserved around 500 seats only for people in top constitutional posts and the minority affairs ministry. But the Narendra Modi government abolished the quota in January 2023 to end ‘VIP culture’. “Because of this, 500 more [common] people will be able to go for hajj,” says Jahan.

The business of fake hajj pilgrimage agencies thrives in urban Muslim-majority neighbourhoods. Fancy packages are used to entice people, and social media propel these scams across platforms. In bright colours and bold fonts, they promise packages at cheap rates. ‘Haj, Umrah, Ziyarat. Via flight. 15 days package. Cost Rs 66,000 only,’ reads one ad. Another lists hotel stays and extras such as laundry facilities.

Imran Alvi, general secretary of the All India Haj Umrah Tour Organisers Association, has little sympathy for people who fall for the false promises of cheap and convenient packages. They’re paying for their greed, he says.

“The biggest scam is of those who do not have a licence to take hajj bookings. They cheat people in small towns and rural areas,” he adds.

Umrah pilgrims aren’t spared either

In a few cases, even educated and aware Muslims have fallen for these scams.

It’s what happened to Mohammad Ali from Hyderabad, the vice president of the Suleman Nagar Division of Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS). He was a victim of an umrah fraud. Unlike the hajj, umrah is not obligatory for Muslims, but it is still an important pilgrimage to the Grand Mosque or Masjid al-Haram in Mecca.

In November 2022, Ali received a message on a WhatsApp group—an advertisement for a ‘cheap’ package for umrah from Etemad Tour and Travels in Hyderabad. A quick internet search convinced him that it was credible, and he met with Soofi Abdul Qadir and Mohammad Wajid from the travel agency. For Rs 4,28,000 for four people, the package included a 15-day stay in Saudi Arabia, flight tickets, visas, accommodation and food.

Ali signed up with them and 25 December 2022 was set as the departure date. But a few days prior to that, he realised that he had been cheated. According to the FIR based on his complaint to the Hyderabad police, when Ali called up Qadir on 21 December, he was informed that Wajid had run away with the money.

“I have become a victim of this fraud despite being a member of a political party. I am fighting my battle thinking about poor and uneducated Muslims. It is easier for them to get caught in it,” says Ali, who alleged that as many as 165 people have been cheated by Etemad Tour and Travel. However, there is no mention of this in the FIR. Wajid, whose cellphone number was listed in the contact details for Etemad, is absconding. “He had taken bail from the high court and is out on bail now,” Kamatipura Inspector of Police Tejavath Komaraiah says.

Ali got a partial refund of Rs 1.5 lakh on 22 December. Qadir also promised to return the remaining Rs 2.78 lakh, but so far, he has yet to get the entire amount.

Hyderabad’s Yasmeen Begum, 60, too, has yet to get a refund from Etemad. Her bags were packed, and she was ready to leave for Mecca, even promised that she would be provided with a wheelchair to perform umrah. But all her hopes died down when she got the news that the pilgrimage had been cancelled. “My elder sister sold her jewellery, took some money from our brother’s savings, and my mother’s pension. This way, we [had] accumulated the money needed to send my mother and younger sister on umrah. My mother is in shock since the money was lost,” says her daughter Sameena.

Unlike Ali, the family has not received any refund, not even a portion of the total money—Rs 1 lakh—from the agency.

A few days before embarking on umrah, Yasmeen hosted a feast for relatives and neighbours. But when people came to know about the fraud, they started making fun of them.

“It broke us. The accused of this fraud is [now] out of jail [Qadir], he is happy, and we are crying,” Sameena says.

However, Qadir claims that his partner Mohammad Wajid has cheated him as well. After filing the complaint in the Kamatipura police station, Qadit also approached the civil court.

“Wajid has cheated me. I made all the arrangements for people to go on umrah and he ran away with all the money,” says Qadir.

Both men were booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including Sections 406 (punishment for criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating and thereby dishonestly inducing delivery of property).

Qadir was arrested on 28 December and spent a few days in jail, but is now out on bail. He says he is under immense pressure to do good and return the money to all his customers, and it is stressing him out.

“Victims understand my problems. But Wajid should not have done this with them. It is not right to do such fraud in the name of religion. I have all the proof and I am sure that I will get justice,” he says.

The invisible agent

Apart from the fact that not all victims of hajj or umrah scams approach the police, most people pay in cash. And that is the biggest problem in solving such cases, claim investigating officers.

The accused are usually invisible in such cases, says Inspector Sadiq of the Bengaluru Crime Branch, who has investigated many such cases over the years.

“Most of the fraudsters have sub-agents, and it is difficult to reach the main culprits,” he adds. These middlemen are incentivised to sign on as many customers as they can by getting a cut. “They [main agents] promise 10-20 per cent return every month to sub-agents.”

Apart from social media, they also carry out promotions through the imam or ask local religious influencers to give them money.

Considering the time requirement, litigation, and seriousness of the criminal case, many times, the matter is settled by mediation between the customers and the tour agents.

‘If the party (agent) is more powerful, then it is difficult to get justice. Both the parties come together and mediation is done in or outside the police station. An attempt is made to settle the matter by seating some religious imam or leaders of the community,” says Sadiq.

In Saudi Arabia, hajj and umrah officials have already started issuing warnings against touts and unlicenced agents. Alvi claims that there are fewer Hajj frauds when compared to umrah.

“The licence for hajj is obtained from the minorities ministry. They (private agencies) are thoroughly investigated by the government. They also have to sign an agreement with pilgrims and are monitored by the government,” he says.

The Consulate General of India in Jeddah also prepares a report after meeting hajis who have reached Saudi Arabia. If any complaint or fraud is found during this period, action is initiated.

“At the time of granting the licence, the company’s police inquiry is done. If someone is found cheating (later on), the government blacklists that company and cancels the licence,” says Alvi.

The central government also gives specific quotas to different companies for taking hajj bookings. Unlicenced companies and scammers overbook and defraud people.

There is no such scrutiny for umrah.

“It is open to all agents and tour operators. There is no threat of being blacklisted,” Alvi says. To deal with such cases, he advocates creating a regulatory mechanism for umrah registrations and creating coordination between the central and state governments. “They should be registered, so that they can be filtered and investigated,” he adds.

Licenced hajj operators are also calling for stringent action against unregistered agents who often take on names similar to well-known travel firms.

“It’s because of them that people lose trust in us,” says Ehsan Afaqi, who runs a registered tour and travel agency for hajj in Lucknow. He also offers packages for umrah pilgrimages.

For victims, the pitfalls on the road to Mecca and Medina can lead to bankruptcy, debt, and shattered dreams. Zahoor doesn’t know if he’ll ever be able to save enough money again. “I don’t know how I will perform Hajj,” he says dejectedly.

And after all these months, Yasmeen’s bag remains in the corner of her room. She hasn’t touched it since December.

“Whenever she looks at her bag, she tells us not to open it, that she has to go to umrah,” says Sameena.

(Edited by Humra Laeeq)


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Mamata Banerjee government bans The Kerala Story criticises such films

Action taken to maintain peace: Official communiqué

Meghdeep Bhattacharyya C


Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday banned the contentious film The Kerala Story, accused by its critics of furthering Hindutva’s Islamophobic propaganda, barely an hour after a news conference in which she bitterly criticised such films and the saffron ecosystem’s attempts to play with fire.

“This (the ban) is to avoid any incident of hatred and violence, to maintain peace in the state,” Mamata was quoted in an official communiqué, which added that she had directed chief secretary H.K. Dwivedi to have the Sudipto Sen-directed film removed from the screens currently running it.

The Kerala Story plays on so-called love jihad — an unsubstantiated theory of a supposedly widespread conspiracy to lure Hindu women with love and convert them to Islam — and purports to lay bare a plot to forcibly convert women in Kerala and make them join the ISIS.

At her afternoon news conference in Nabanna, the state secretariat, the chief minister brought up the film in the context of trouble in Manipur, accusing the saffron camp of causing “manmade” problems across the country to reap political dividends.

“Nowadays, it is a man-made problem. They tried this in Bengal as well. A political party that plays withfire, casteism, divisiveness, and divide-and-rule politics,” said Mamata.

“Why did they come up with The Kashmir Files? To humiliate one section of people. What is The Kerala (Story)? Though I do not support the CPM (the ruling party in Kerala), I am talking about the people....,” added the Trinamul chief.

Controversial filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri-directed The Kashmir Files had been widely described last year as similar Right-wing propaganda to vilify a particular community with claims of a Hindu genocide.

“Instead of me, it was their (the CPM’s) duty to criticise it. But they (the BJP and the CPM) work together. I am sorry, I will request the (Kerala) state government, the chief minister (Pinarayi Vijayan)… it is very sad that your party is working with the BJP. And that BJP is showing The Kerala (Story), a distorted story,” said Mamata.

CPM central committee member Sujan Chakraborty said there was no need to ban the film in Bengal, as there were almost no takers for the film here.

“The CPM-led Kerala government does not believe in the ban culture. People across the country know this film and its kind are a web of sinister lies,” said Chakraborty.

On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi injected into the Karnataka Assembly elections a reference of The Kerala Story to flag “a new face of terrorism” in spite of Kerala High Court saying “we find that the producers have published a disclaimer along with the movie, which specifically states that the film has been fictionalised and is a dramatised version of events”.

Kerala High Court on Friday refused to stay the exhibition of the film on the grounds that it is not a historical movie and does not offend any particular community.

Directed by Sudipto Sen, the film first triggered a controversy last year when its first teaser was released on YouTube. It claimed that 32,000 non-Muslim girls had been lured, converted and radicalised in Kerala as part of an alleged ISIS plot. But the filmmaker could not produce any evidence to back the number, drawing sustained criticism from non-BJP parties, many of whom offered a reward of up to Rs 1 crore for evidence to substantiate the claim.

Mamata expressed concerns over Agnihotri’s proposed 2024 film, The Delhi Files, which is purportedly going to be based on the horrors of Partition in Bengal.

“Just a few days ago, some stars nominated by the BJP, funded by the BJP, came to Bengal also, and along with some distorted stories, concocted stories, they are preparing a film, The (Delhi) Files. They prepared The Kashmir Files, to condemn the Kashmiri people… what is the fault of the people?” asked the Bengal chief minister.

“We respect each and everybody. That is our Constitution. Now they defame the Kerala state, and its people also. Then? Everyday, they are defaming with their narrative… (trying) to defame Bengal also,” she added.

Mamata demanded answers on who gave them the right.

“They are defaming the (non-BJP) parties, especially the ones in power (in various states). They have forgotten that democracy is permanent, the chair is not. The chair will come and go, but democracy will go on forever,” she said.

“A ruler must ensure peace, that is the credibility of a ruling party,” she added.

Reacting on the ban, BJP state unit chief Sukanta Majumdar tweeted: “...It (the film) is based on the true stories and shows how Islamists trap Hindu girls into Love Jihad and later send to become ISIS terrorists. Didi want to close her eyes to the reality. She want to deprive the people of WB, specially women from this harsh reality. The cases of Love Jihad are common in WB.”

Filmmaker Agnihotri too took to Twitter.

“I guess, @MamataOfficial didi is talking about me. Yes, I came to Bengal to interview survivors of Direct Action Day genocide instigated by Khilafat. And the role of Gopal Patha. Why are you scared?” he asked.

“#TheKashmirFiles was about Genocide and terrorism. On what basis do you think it was to defame Kashmiri people? On what basis do you say so maliciously that it is funded by a political party? Why shouldn’t I file a defamation case and a case of Genocide Denial against you?” added Agnihotri.


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The Kerala Story declared tax-free in Uttar Pradesh after Madhya Pradesh

May 9, 2023

LUCKNOW: The Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government declared newly released film ‘The Kerala Story’ tax-free in the state. UP is the second state to provide this SOP, after Madhya Pradesh, even as the West Bengal government banned it in their state on Monday, citing possibility of “breach of peace”.

A government spokesperson said that the CM and the cabinet of ministers are likely to watch the film at a special screening at the Lok Bhawan on May 11 or 12, after campaigning for the local body elections comes to an end. The modalities of the screening and the list of invitees is being worked out, the official said.

Deputy chief minister Brajesh Pathak welcomed the move. “I want the people of UP to watch this film and understand how our sisters have suffered in other parts of the country, how they are being mistreated. People should be vigilant and take steps to protect their families, culture and children while there is still time. We will also go and watch the film. What is happening in West Bengal is nothing but divisiveness and people will not accept the ban on this film,” he said.

The film, which opened to mixed reviews on May 5, has been generating controversy even before it released. The film maker Sudipto Sen has publicised ‘The Kerala Story’ as a true story of girls being radicalised in Kerala and misled into joining organisations like ISIS, a premise which has generated a massive political storm with Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan calling it propaganda even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to it during a campaign rally in the neighbouring state of Karnataka.


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Shraddha Walkar murder case: Delhi court frames charges against accused Aaftab Poonawala

May 9, 2023

NEW DELHI: A court in Saket on Tuesday framed charges of murder and disappearance of evidence against Aaftab Amin Poonawala who is accused of strangling his live-in partner Shraddha Walkar to death and chopping her body into pieces.

Additional sessions judge Manisha Khurana Kakkar said prima facie a case for offences under IPC sections 302 (murder) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence) was made out against the accused.

Poonawala, however, denied the charges and demanded a trial. The matter has been posted for further proceedings on June 1.

The Delhi Police had filed a 6,629-page chargesheet in the case on January 24.

Walkar was allegedly strangled by Poonawala on May 18 last year, following which he sawed her body into pieces and kept them in a fridge for almost three weeks at his residence in South Delhi's Mehrauli.

He scattered the pieces at different places in the national capital to avoid getting caught.


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‘Listen To Me Carefully’: Imran Doubles Down On Allegations Against Senior Military Official

May 9, 2023

PTI chief Imran Khan on Tuesday doubled down on his allegations against a serving senior military officer, who he has accused on several occasions of hatching a plot to assassinate him.

The PTI chairman made the remarks ahead of departing for Islamabad to appear before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in a mutiny case and another pertaining to charges of attempted murder.

His biting rejoinder comes a day after the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that “irresponsible and baseless allegations” by Imran against the said military officer without evidence were “extremely unfortunate, deplorable and unacceptable”.

During a rally on Saturday, the PTI chairman had once again named a senior intelligence official for orchestrating plans to murder him. “I am on the roads despite verifiable threats to my life. I have already escaped an assassination attempt once. On the second occasion, I was able to sniff out murder planning,” he had said.

This was not the first time the ex-premier has made these claims. After an assassination attempt last year, Imran had held Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and the senior intelligence official as being responsible for the bid to assassinate him and demanded they resign.

In a video message shared on Tuesday, Imran replied to the ISPR and “attempts by PDM and their handlers” regarding his arrest. He said that he was departing for the federal capital as he was scheduled to appear before two courts.

“Before I leave, I want to say two things. Firstly, the ISPR has issued a statement that the institution has been disrespected — the army has been disrespected [by] naming an intelligence officer that has tried to kill me twice.

“ISPR sahib, listen to me carefully. Respect is not [confined] to a single institution; respect should be for every single citizen,” he said.

Imran highlighted that he was the chief of the country’s “largest” political party, adding that he did not need to lie.

“This man tried to kill me twice and whenever an investigation is carried out, I will prove that it was this man and there is a whole gang with him,” Imran said, adding that the nation was well aware of who was standing with the officer in question.

“My question is: [Despite being] a country’s ex-prime minister — because this man’s name has come forward — [why was] I unable to register a first information report (FIR)?”

He said that the truth would only surface once an investigation is carried out. “If he was innocent, it would have been revealed,” the PTI chief said, terming the officer in question to be such a “powerful personality” that he was unable to register a case despite being in power in Punjab.

He said that two senior police officials had refused to become a part of the joint investigation team (JIT) formed by the Punjab government to investigate the attack on his life in Wazirabad. “Who was behind it? Who was this powerful?”

He alleged that when the JIT determined that three shooters were involved in the incident, the team itself was “sabotaged” and that four Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) officials changed their statements.

“The prosecutor general investigated. He said action should be taken against the four because they tried to sabotage [the JIT]. Who was behind them? Who was this powerful?”

The PTI chief further claimed that he would prove that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had taken over the Judicial Complex in Islamabad the night before he went to attend a hearing in the Toshakhana case in March.

The PTI chairman has already claimed that he did not disembark from his vehicle because “unknown people” were positioned there with plans to kill him.

“I will prove that ISI [officials] were present in CTD uniforms and lawyers’ garb. I will prove that a brigadier, who I will not name, was there to monitor everything. What was the ISI doing there?”

Imran said that the mother of slain journalist Arshad Sharif had also taken the names of the intelligence officer and the gang that he was a part of yet no investigation was carried out as he was a “holy cow” and, therefore, above the law.

“ISPR sahib, when an institution takes action against black sheep, it improves its own credibility. An institution which catches corrupt people strengthens itself.”

He said that action is taken when a doctor or an employee does something wrong at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital (SKMH).

“It is my army, my Pakistan not just yours. It is our army,” Imran asserted. He also lamented the crackdown against those who were vocal about their criticism of the military establishment, stating that it was in fact harming the institution.

The PTI chief went on to say that there was also no need to call in a heavy contingent of police and other officials during his appearance before the courts in Islamabad today.

“If someone has a warrant, come to me directly […] I am prepared to go to jail […] spending so much money as if a major criminal is coming to Islamabad. Do us a favour and don’t stage such a drama and directly provide a warrant,” he said, asserting that he was mentally prepared to go to jail.

He also said that the plan hatched by “Dirty Harry” involved a gang of people, adding that if God willed, he was ready to die at their hands. He ended his video message by calling on the nation to “get ready”.

‘Baseless’ allegations by Imran against serving military officer ‘unacceptable’: ISPR

On Monday, the ISPR stated that Imran had levelled baseless allegations against a serving senior military officer without offering any evidence.

“This fabricated and malicious allegation is extremely unfortunate, deplorable and unacceptable,” the ISPR said.

“This has been a consistent pattern for the last year wherein military and intelligence agencies officials are targeted with insinuations and sensational propaganda for the furtherance of political objectives,” it said.

“We ask the political leader concerned to make recourse to legal avenues and stop making false allegations,” the ISPR said, adding that the institution reserved the right to “take legal course of action against patently false and malafide statements and propaganda”.

A day earlier, PM Shehbaz had also criticised Imran and said: “Imran Niazi’s act of routinely maligning and threatening the Pakistan Army and Intelligence Agency for the sake of petty political gains is highly condemnable.”

“His levelling of allegations without any proof against Gen Faisal Naseer and officers of our Intelligence Agency cannot be allowed and will not be tolerated,” Shehbaz had added, which had prompted Imran to respond and ask if he did not have the right to nominate those he felt were responsible for the assassination attacks on him.


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Pakistan army slams Imran Khan for murder attempt allegations

May 9, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s army criticized former premier Imran Khan for accusing one of their senior officials of orchestrating assassination attempts against him and challenged the ex-cricket star to address the matter in court.

Khan, 70, used a rally over the weekend to accuse the military of being behind at least two attempts to murder him, focusing on the alleged involvement of a senior official from the Inter-Service Intelligence, or ISI, which oversees Pakistan’s internal security.

The politician is agitating for early elections after getting ousted in April 2022 in a no-confidence vote. Emboldened by strong support in opinion polls and rallies, Khan has shown no signs of backing down against the government and the army and is seeking support from the Supreme Court to hold polls in two provinces for a start.

“This has been a consistent pattern for the last one year where military and intelligence agencies officials are targeted with insinuations and sensational propaganda for the furtherance of political objectives,” the military said in a rare statement directed at Khan late Monday. It asked for the allegations to be addressed in court.

This is not the first time Khan has made these claims. After a shooting incident in rally last year that left him injured in the leg, Khan held Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and senior military officials responsible. They have denied involvement.

Khan’s allegations stem from Pakistan’s own history where no prime minister has served a full five-year term in office. Many who lasted more than two years were either exiled or killed, including Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in December 2007 during a campaign stop in an attack similar to the one against Khan in November.

The military said it reserved the right to take legal action against what it called malafide statements and propaganda. If the military brings Khan to court, it would add to the several dozens of cases that Khan is currently fighting in court, including a case alleging he hid earnings from a sale state gifts acquired during his time in office.

The Pakistan military wields an outsized influence over politics as well as foreign and security affairs, having directly ruled the nuclear-armed nation for half of its history since its creation in 1947. Most prime ministers have depended on the support of the military to stay in power, including Khan, but last year an army spokesman said the institution has decided to stay apolitical and function within the constitution.

Khan’s attempts to control military promotions have been at the root of Pakistan’s long-running political tensions. In late 2021, Khan publicly opposed the then-army chief’s choice to lead the spy agency, voicing support for one of his own allies to stay in the role. The army chief eventually got his way, but the incident sowed the seeds for Khan’s ouster six months later.


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Pakistani origin Imam of Masjid al-Nabawi Al-Sheikh Qari Muhammad Khalil passes away

May 8, 2023

JEDDAH – Al-Sheikh Qari Muhammad Khalil, a revered Imam of Masjid al-Nabawi passed away in the Kingdom.

His demise news sent shock waves across the Muslim community, with his followers and Saudi officials mourning his death.

The funeral prayer will be offered today after Maghrib prayers at Prophet Mosque, where he spent many years of his life. A large number of people are likely to attend the funeral.

Qari Muhammad Khalil served as an Imam in Propher Mosque for years, while he also used to lead prayers at Masjid al-Quba, the second largest and most prestigious mosque after the Masjid e-Nabawi in the Holy City of Medina.

Khalil, who hailed from Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir, made his name in the Islamic world, as was known for his deep knowledge of Islam’s Holy Book and his stunning recitation.

Amid condolences, several social media users also mourned his death.


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CPEC will be extended to Afghanistan as trilateral cooperation set to deepen

May 9, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The foreign ministers of Pakistan, China, and Afghanistan have reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen trilateral cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and jointly extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan.

Following the trilateral dialogue, the three sides issued a joint statement, expressing their determination to leverage Afghanistan’s potential as a hub for regional connectivity.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang of China, and Acting Foreign Minister Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi of Afghanistan participated in the dialogue representing their respective countries.

During the meeting, the three foreign ministers emphasised the significance of ongoing projects such as CASA-1000, TAPI, and Trans-Afghan Railways, highlighting their potential to boost regional connectivity and promote economic development and prosperity in the region.

The three parties emphasised the need to advance “hard connectivity” in infrastructure and “soft connectivity” in norms and standards.

They agreed to explore measures to facilitate the movement of people and trade activities. They also decided to boost transit trade through the Gwadar Port.

The foreign ministers acknowledged that a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Afghanistan is in the best interest of the region. They emphasised the critical role of trilateral cooperation in promoting this objective.

The three sides agreed to further deepen and expand their cooperation in the domains of security, development, and politics, guided by the principles of mutual respect, equal-footed consultation, and mutual benefit.

The three parties highlighted the importance of addressing security challenges that pose a significant threat to regional and global security, and directly impacting the stability and economic prosperity of the entire region. They agreed to coordinate on security matters, including organised crime, drug smuggling and others.

They called upon the international community to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation, and provide the necessary supplies, equipment, and technical assistance to relevant countries in this regard.

The three sides stressed the importance of preventing any individual, group, or party, including the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), from using their territories to harm or threaten regional security and interests or carry out terrorist activities. They also stressed the need to avoid interfering in Afghanistan’s internal affairs and instead focus on promoting peace, stability, and reconstruction in the country.

Highlighting the need to boost economic activity in Afghanistan, the ministers emphasised the significance of exploring feasible pathways towards reviving the Afghan economy.

As a step towards this goal, they agreed to consider additional support for the reconstruction of Afghanistan and exploring trilateral investment opportunities that promote industrialisation and job creation.

Expressing the solidarity with the people of Afghanistan they stressed the crucial need for sustained and urgent humanitarian support, including bridging funding gaps for humanitarian operations. They underlined that humanitarian support for the people of Afghanistan should not be linked to any political considerations.

They expressed satisfaction with the current trilateral cooperation and agreed to carry out exchange and training programs, as well as strengthen people-to-people exchanges by implementing trilateral programs in line with the List of China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Practical Cooperation Projects adopted by the foreign ministers during this dialogue.

The three sides reiterated their cooperation in areas of mutual interest, such as economic development, capacity building and improving livelihoods. The ministers agreed to enhance cooperation in agriculture, trade, energy, capacity building and border management.

The ministers also urged the international community to engage constructively with Afghanistan, acknowledging the efforts made under various mechanisms and formats, including the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan, to promote dialogue and constructive engagement with the Afghan Interim Government.

The ministers also urged the international community to provide assistance to Afghanistan in countering narcotics effectively and developing alternative crops to enhance its capacity for independent and sustainable development.

They called on the relevant countries to lift their unilateral sanctions against Afghanistan, return assets overseas for the benefit of the Afghan people, and create opportunities for economic development and prosperity in Afghanistan.

Taking note of the Afghan Interim Government’s repeated assurances to respect and protect women’s rights and interests, they called on the international community to support the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan and to help Afghanistan improve governance and strengthen capacity building to effectively protect the basic rights and interests of all segments of Afghan society, including women and children.

The ministers expressed gratitude to neighbouring countries, especially Pakistan, for hosting millions of Afghan refugees and providing them with generous hospitality.

They called on the international community to provide necessary support and assistance to these countries and Afghanistan for the dignified return and reintegration of refugees into Afghan society.

The three sides emphasised their commitment to continuing the trilateral cooperation mechanism, including the Director-General Level Practical Cooperation Dialogue, and to forging closer, good-neighbourly relations and partnerships.


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PM Shehbaz Sharif extends stay in London on Nawaz’s advice

May 09, 2023

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who is currently in London, has decided to extend his stay for one more day on the directives of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb said on Tuesday.

Taking to Twitter, the minister said that the visit, basically intended for the premier's attendance at the coronation of King Charles III, has been extended for consultations on key political and national affairs.

She said that PM Shehbaz Sharif will now leave for Pakistan on Wednesday, exactly a week after his arrival in the United Kingdom to represent Pakistan at the coronation ceremony.

The premier had reached London last Wednesday where also met his brother and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

PM Shehbaz Sharif also met UK's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Pakistani-origin Scotland's First Minister Humza Yousaf, on the sidelines of his visit which was criticised by PTI chief Imran Khan as a "waste of nation's money".

Pakistan has been reeling from an ever-intensifying political crisis as the incumbent coalition government and opposing PTI stay at odds regarding the conduct of elections. Despite the Supreme Court's orders, the two sides have not yet made any significant progress in the ongoing election dialogue.

PM Shehbaz urges institutions to remain within constitutional roles

Last Friday, PM Shehbaz Sharif said that all institutions of the country need to perform their constitutional duties while staying within their ambit of power, and that "double standards" are harmful to any society.

Speaking to the media outside Avenfield apartments, the premier said that the "double standards" of the judiciary had harmed Pakistan in an irreparable way and the only way forward is equality of justice, and are not acceptable.

The prime minister further said that such trends of courts having "likes and dislikes" are harmful to any society.


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Sufi night leaves audience spellbound at PNCA

May 9, 2023

A large number of Sufi music enthusiasts from the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad on Sunday night flocked to the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) to witness the magical Sufi performance of UstadShabih Sen.

In a bid to convey the profound message of Sufism through the universal language of music and to celebrate the country’s vibrant cultural heritage, the Society of Asian Civilizations Pakistan orchestrated the enchanting show.

Addressing the audience as chief guest, the Chairperson National Commission on the Status of Women, NilofarBakhtiar said that there was a great need to organize cultural events as hate was spreading in every nook and corner of the country.

“As an ardent admirer of peace and a devoted patron of the arts, I firmly believe that art has the unique ability to bring about positivity and promote tolerance in society. In light of this, I am convinced that events of this nature are an absolute necessity in our current time, as they have the power to foster a culture of acceptance and understanding in our beloved country,” she said.

As the evening progressed, acclaimed Sufi artist UstadShabihSen took to the stage, delivering a soul-stirring performance in Urdu, Persian and Punjabi languages that left the audience spellbound.

The Sufi singer’s enchanting voice, coupled with his skilful command over various musical mantras created a magical ambience that transported the audience into a world of pure bliss. ShumailaAnjum, a student from Chakwal, said that the Sufi genre of music had the ability to captivate its audience, unlike any other music. “UstadShabihSens magical performance has created a breathtaking atmosphere at PNCA .—APP


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IDFFighter Jets Launches Operation Shield AndArrow Against The Islamic Jihad In Gaza


Overnight, the IDF has launched a targeted campaign against Islamic Jihad in Gaza, named Operation Shield and Arrow.

IDF fighter jets struck Khalil Bahitini, responsible for the rocket fire toward Israel in the past month. The IDF explains that Bahitini is the senior operational officer of Islamic Jihad and the commander of the Northern Gaza Division - entrusted with approving and carrying out all terrorist activities from northern Gaza and planning terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians.

After the elimination of Tayseer Jabri during operation “Breaking Dawn” in August 2022, Bahitini took over his position. Bahitini was a member of the terrorist organization’s military council and had direct and active contact with senior members of the Islamic Jihads’ Political Bureau.

The Israeli Air Force also targeted Jahed Ahnam, Secretary of Cooperation for the terrorist organization in Gaza, and Tarek Az Aldin, who directed Islamic Jihad operations in Judea and Samaria from Gaza. Recently, he was planning and direction multiple attacks against Israeli civilian.

 “Terrorism is a threat to civilians everywhere. Islamic Jihad and its leaders have been threatening the security of Israelis for too long,” said an IDF tweet.


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12 people including women and children killed in Israeli airstrikes in Gaza


Twelve people were killed, including women and children, and 20 others injured in airstrikes carried out early Tuesday in Gaza by the Israeli military, working with Israel's Shin Bet internal security service.

The casualties were announced by the Health Ministry in Gaza.

In a statement, the al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad movement, said three members of its leadership and their wives and children were killed in the strikes.

They included the group's senior leader Tareq Izzeldeen, commander Khalil Bahitini and Jahed Ahnam, the secretary-general of the group's military council.

The movement expressed its sorrow over the deaths of its members.

In a statement, Islamic Jihad spokesperson Tariq Silmi said "all options and scenarios are open to the resistance forces in response to the crimes of the occupation forces."

"The resistance will not stop until the occupation is over," said Silmi, adding it "will avenge the martyr leaders."

Hamas movement leader Ismail Haniyeh echoed Silmi’s statement, saying Israel made a mistake in its operation and will pay the price.

"The assassination of leaders through a treacherous operation will not provide security for the occupation (Israel) itself. On the contrary, it will further increase the resistance," said Haniyeh.

Earlier, the army announced Operation Shield and Arrow after launching airstrikes against Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip. It said it targeted the movement’s leadership.

*Writing by Servet Gunerigok


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Endowments minister meets president of Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council

MAY 09, 2023

HE the Minister of Endowments and Islamic Affairs Ghanem bin Shaheen al-Ghanem met with President of the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council Ibrahim Tufa and the accompanying delegation, who is visiting the country. They discussed aspects of co-operation and ways of supporting and developing them in the field of Islamic affairs.


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Israel said warning Hamas not to attack ahead of Flag March through Muslim Quarter

8 May 2023

Israel has reportedly passed along a message to Hamas, warning the Palestinian terror group against targeting the country over the controversial Flag March through the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City next week.

Any provocation from Gaza terror groups will be met with a severe Israeli response, Jerusalem has warned Hamas through Egyptian mediators, Channel 12 news reported Monday.

On Sunday, Hamas spokesman Abd al-Latif al-Qanou issued a statement warning that the Gaza-based terror group would not let Israel “Judaize” Jerusalem via the May 18 Flag March.

Al-Qanou said in a statement that Jerusalem “will remain the Palestinian capital” and that the Gaza-based group “will not allow the Zionist occupation to implement plans to Judaize the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the city of Jerusalem through division… or flag parades.”

“The flag parade in Jerusalem will not change the reality, we will maintain the ‘equation’ as imposed by the resistance,” he said, in reference to Palestinian groups that have in the past responded to events in Jerusalem and on the flashpoint Temple Mount site with rockets from Gaza.

Separately on Monday, Channel 13 news published recordings of a meeting Temple Mount activists held with police officials in which they requested that the Flag March route be expanded to include a lap around the flashpoint holy site. The request was quickly denied by police, who appeared to have leaked the recording in order to demonstrate the degree of pressure they are under as the rally looms.

The heavily guarded Jerusalem Day Flag March has become an increasingly combustible issue for Israel, drawing tens of thousands of national religious youth to mark the anniversary of Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War.

The annual event drives fears of aggravated tensions with Palestinians. Two years ago, the march played a role in touching off a brief war with Gaza-based terrorists, and last year, it saw sporadic clashes and hundreds of participants were filmed chanting “Death to Arabs” and other racist and Islamophobic slogans.

On Friday, a senior Israeli official confirmed to The Times of Israel that this year’s march would be held along its original route, despite concerns about a possible escalation.

A Channel 12 report on Friday cited the current government’s lack of political maneuverability on the issue: moving the route — when former prime minister Naftali Bennett left it in place last year — would harm its image as an authentic right-wing alternative to the previous government it relentlessly lambasted.

In the past two years, US President Joe Biden’s administration has urged Israel to change the route of the march to go through the Old City’s Jaffa Gate, instead of the Damascus Gate, and thus skirting the Muslim Quarter, which is largely populated by Palestinians.

But right-wing and religious nationalist groups insist that the original route be maintained as has been the case for decades, in what is meant to signify Israel’s reunification of Jerusalem.

In 2021, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to reroute the Flag March away from the Muslim Quarter, though he waited until hours before the rally to make the decision, allowing threats against Israel from Hamas and other terror groups to pile up in the meantime. Despite the decision, Hamas fired a barrage of rockets at Jerusalem as the rerouted march was taking place. Shortly thereafter, the IDF launched Operation Guardian of the Walls in Gaza, which lasted 11 days.

The next year, Bennett came under similar pressure from the US, but ultimately decided to allow the march to go forward on the original route, which led to the globally-criticized scenes of participants singing “May your village burn” as they danced outside the Damascus Gate. However, terror groups in Gaza largely avoided responding in the way they had a year earlier.

While Channel 12 did not cite a source for any of its reporting Monday, it said the security establishment had not received any intelligence alerts against the holding of the Flag March along its original route this year.

The senior official speaking to The Times of Israel clarified that additional security consultations would be held on the matter before a final decision is made. A senior US official told The Times of Israel last week that the issue was already on the Biden administration’s radar.


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Israel Kills 3 From Militant Islamic Jihad Outfit In targeted Gaza Strikes

09 MAY 2023

Israel killed three senior commanders of the militant Islamic Jihad group in targeted airstrikes early Tuesday, the military said. Palestinian health officials said 12 people were killed in all, including the commanders, their wives, several of their children and others nearby.

The strikes hit the top floor of an apartment building in Gaza City and a house in the southern city of Rafah. The Palestinian Health ministry said 20 people were injured, and that ambulances were continuing to evacuate people from the targeted areas.

Airstrikes continued in the early hours, targeting militant training sites.

In the past, Palestinian militant groups in Gaza have retaliated for such targeted killings. In anticipation of Palestinian rocket attacks in response to the airstrikes, the Israeli military advised residents of communities within 25 miles (40 kilometers) of Gaza to stay close to designated bomb shelters.

The military said the three targeted men had been responsible for recent rocket fire toward Israel.

It identified them as Khalil Bahtini, the Islamic Jihad commander for northern Gaza Strip; Tareq Izzeldeen, the group's intermediary between its Gaza and West Bank members; and Jehad Ghanam, the secretary of the Islamic Jihad's military council.

 The Iran-backed Islamic Jihad, which is smaller than Gaza's ruling Hamas group, confirmed the three were among the dead. The Palestinian Health ministry said 12 people were killed in total, including the commanders, their wives, several of their children and others nearby.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh warned that Israel will “pay the price” for the killings. “Assassinating the leaders with a treacherous operation will not bring security to the occupier, but rather more resistance,” Haniyeh said in a statement.

The airstrikes came at a time of boiling tensions between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip. It is linked, in part, to increasing violence in the occupied West Bank, where Israel has been conducting near-daily raids for months to detain Palestinians suspected in planning or carrying out attacks on Israelis.

Last week, Gaza militants fired several salvos of rockets toward southern Israel, and the Israeli military responded with airstrikes following the death of a hunger-striking senior member of the Islamic Jihad in Israeli custody. The exchange of fire ended with a fragile cease-fire mediated by Egypt, the United Nations and Qatar.

The airstrikes are similar to ones in 2022 in which Israel bombed locations housing commanders of Islamic Jihad group, setting off a three-day blitz that saw the group lose its two top commanders and other dozens of militants.

 Israel says the raids in the West Bank are meant to dismantle militant networks and thwart future attacks. The Palestinians see the attacks as further entrenchment of Israel's 56-year, open-ended occupation of lands they seek for a future independent state.

So far, 105 Palestinians, about half of them are militants or alleged attackers, were killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank and east Jerusalem since the start of 2023, according to an Associated Press tally.


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Southeast Asia


Unilateral conversion: MAIWP seeks to safeguard Muslim parents rights


The Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP) has filed to intervene in a civil court challenge against eight states’ unilateral conversion laws to safeguard the rights of Muslim parents who validly converted their children into the faith.

The statutory body’s counsel, Zainul Rizal Abu Bakar, confirmed with Malaysiakini that the intervener application was filed at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur last Thursday.

On March 3, kindergarten teacher M Indira Gandhi and 13 other plaintiffs filed a civil court bid to strike down the unilateral conversion laws of eight states, including that of the Federal Territories.

According to a copy of the affidavit in support of the intervener application, MAIWP’s legal unit manager Wan Mohd Sanusi Mohd Noor said it seeks to intervene as the civil action is challenging the validity of Section 95 of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993 (Act 505).

He contended that this is because the provision empowers MAIWP to administer and manage the issue of any individuals within the Federal Territories who wish to convert to Islam.

MAIWP contended that if the civil court denies its bid to intervene in the legal action, then the rights of every Muslim in the Federal Territories would be prejudiced via the jeopardising of the body’s authority in the issue of Islamic conversion.

“Any absence of the proposed intervener (MAIWP) in this action would also deny the rights of mothers and/or fathers who registered the Islamic conversion of their children and prejudice the children as Muslims.

“If the proposed intervener’s application is rejected and/or denied, then it would give a negative effect and deny the rights as well as prejudice mothers and/or fathers who validly converted their children to Islam in accordance to the law and syarak laws,” MAIWP contended. ADS

In the event the civil court allows MAIWP to intervene in the legal action, then it would be granted the right to file responses against the civil action.

Besides MAIWP, the Badan Peguam Syarie Wilayah-Wilayah Persekutuan also filed its own application to intervene in the legal action last month.

When reached out by Malaysiakini, the plaintiffs’ counsel, Rajesh Nagarajan, confirmed that they were served copies of the Badan Peguam Syarie Wilayah-Wilayah Persekutuan’s intervener application.

The lawyer added that they have yet to be served copies of MAIWP’s intervener bid.

Through the civil action, the 14 plaintiffs seek to rely on the landmark 2018 apex court ruling linked to the case of Indira’s Muslim convert ex-husband, who unilaterally converted their three children without her knowledge and consent.

The legal action seeks a court declaration to nullify the unilateral conversion laws contained in the state enactments of the Federal Territories, as well as Perlis, Kedah, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, and Johor.

Besides Indira, 48, the other 13 plaintiffs are Malaysia Hindu Sangam, its former chairperson S Mohan, Indira Gandhi Action Team chairperson Arun Dorasamy, two alleged victims of unilateral conversion, and eight citizens from the states.

The plaintiffs contended that the impugned state enactments are invalid for contravening Articles 12(4) and 75 of the Federal Constitution as well as the 2018 Federal Court ruling regarding unilateral conversion.

They listed the eight state enactments that allegedly contravened the Federal Court ruling over the phrase ‘ibu bapa’ of Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution, which the apex court interpreted as ‘ibu dan bapa’ (mother and father) for the purpose of consent for child religious conversions.

These enactments are Section 117 of the Administration of the Religion Islam (Perlis) Enactment 2006, Section 80 of the Administration of Islamic Law (Kedah) Enactment 2008, Section 105 of the

(Malacca) Enactment 2002, Section 117 of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Negeri Sembilan) Enactment 2003, Section 103 of the Administration of Islamic Law (Pahang) Enactment 1991, Section 106 of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Perak) Enactment 2004, Section 117 of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Johor) Enactment 2003, and the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993.

Here's hoping MAIWP lose, not just for the rights of parents & their children in Malaysia, but also to see what kind of alleged "kiamat" will be unleashed in this country if unilateral conversion is defeated.

I wonder what are the proponents trying to achieve with unilateral conversions. Today we have kids who were unilaterally converted by their parents, who are fighting to change their religion.

We have vengeful dads, who convert to Islam and unilaterally convert kids to teach the mother a lesson.

I feel like all of these is going to boomerang back on Muslims of this country, in some way, in the future.


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Malaysia and Thailand Host Nuclear Security Technical and Information Exchange Opportunities Through IAEA Network


Nigerian nuclear security experts visited Malaysia’s national regulatory authority, Atom Malaysia, and other key nuclear institutes to learn about Malaysia’s experience in human resource development and technical support programmes. The recent visit marked the post COVID-19 restart of core activities of the IAEA’s International Network for Nuclear Security Training and Support Centres (NSSC) Network, which supports Nuclear Security Support Centres to develop new capabilities.

The technical exchange covered many aspects to support the sustainability of Nigeria’s national nuclear security regime and its operational implementation, as well as discussions on establishing a coordination mechanism for and resourcing an NSSC.

“Sharing the experiences and expertise of members and observers of the NSSC Network is one of the cornerstones of this community of practice,” said Jason Tierney, Head of the Programme Development and International Cooperation Section at the IAEA’s Division of Nuclear Security. “The Nigerian delegation visited Malaysia’s NSSC and several stakeholders to build capacity of Nigeria’s human resources development and technical support programmes, by learning from Malaysia’s good practices and lessons learned.”

The exchange visit highlighted the importance of nuclear security culture, the need for promoting a diversified workforce of well-trained professionals, and for implementing a systematic approach to training.

“Malaysia’s stakeholder cooperation is very comprehensive and it was useful to understand how national organizations with different roles and responsibilities in nuclear security collaborate. Malaysia has the highest number of female professionals I have witnessed so far, actively involved in all the facilities we visited; this was particularly very impressive for me as an advocate for Women in Nuclear,” said Pamela West, Nuclear Security Officer at Nigeria’s Office of the National Security Adviser.

Adamu Abdul, Coordinator of the Nigeria NSSC, the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority and National Nuclear Security Coordination Centre, said: “We will explore the possibility of adopting some of Malaysia’s good practices in stakeholder coordination and human resource development. The NSSC stakeholders provided guidance on applying a coordinated, graded approach to training and implementing the results of training needs analysis.”

Launched in 2012, initially with the support of 29 countries, which has now more than doubled, the NSSC Network enhances the work of national NSSCs by promoting international cooperation through connecting these centres in a community of practice for its members. National NSSCs help foster a culture of nuclear security, by providing training programmes, technical support services for managing the nuclear security equipment lifecycle, and scientific support services for such as providing expertise, analysis, expert advice and support, and research and development.

The 2023 NSSC Network Annual Meeting, hosted by the Office of Atoms for Peace (OAP) in Thailand earlier this year, provided the opportunity for the 69 members and 10 observer organizations to share information and resources on key technical themes relevant to developing and operating an NSSC, to promote and facilitate regional cooperation, to welcome new members and to plan NSSC Network activities for the coming year.

Thailand’s two NSSCs, OAP and Chulalongkorn University support the Thai Customs Front Line Officers in operator training and radiation detection equipment alarm adjudication, providing a valuable example of how NSSCs collaborate to support stakeholders’ work in nuclear security. During the meeting, participants visited the Thai Customs Megaports Initiative at Port Laem Chabang.

“This visit allowed the NSSC Network members to witness firsthand the critical role that NSSCs play in enhancing nuclear security in various sectors, including the maritime industry, and in facilitating trade at the seaport,” said Issariya Chairam, Radiation Biologist at OAP. “It was a valuable opportunity to exchange knowledge and experiences with other NSSC Network members.”

The IAEA supports countries interested in establishing an NSSC or improving the effectiveness of an existing centre based on the IAEA’s guidance on Establishing and Operating a National Nuclear Security Support Centre and on the identified needs for sustaining a country’s national nuclear security regime.


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HR Minister Sivakumar confirms five officers sacked following corruption probe

By John Bunyan

Tuesday, 09 May 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, May 9 — Five Human Resource Ministry officers have been sacked following a recent corruption and power abuse probe over the quota for the recruitment of foreign workers which under the purview of the ministry.

The matter was confirmed by Human Resources Minister V. Sivakumar today, Malaysiakini reported.

“It did happen (the sacking of officers). It was to ensure that this ministry can function in a smooth and proper manner,” he was quoted as saying.

However, the Batu Gajah MP did not elaborate further on the latest termination of his officers.

He also sidestepped questions on who ordered the sacking of the officers.

He then declined to take any more questions on the issue, including why the officers were sacked when they have yet to be charged or found guilty in court, according to Malaysiakini.

On April 13, an aide to Sivakumar was arrested together with a recruitment agent by MACC allegedly over the quota for recruiting foreign workers, which was the purview of the Human Resources Ministry.

A day later another suspect identified as Sivakumar’s female private secretary became the latest person to be arrested by the anti-graft agency since investigations began.

On April 17, Sivakumar was called by the MACC to answer questions about alleged cash kickbacks from an unnamed businessman who had been detained alongside the two ministerial aides.

He, however, said that he is not a suspect in the ongoing investigation and said that he had only gone to the national MACC headquarters to have his statement recorded, and added that he had not been arrested.

Despite subsequent calls for his resignation or for him to go on leave, Sivakumar said he would not resign, adding that he had the backing of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to stay in his post.


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MDEC: $2.8tn ripe for digitalisation in global Islamic economy

MAY 8, 2023

The economic and business opportunities in the global Islamic Digital Economy (IDE) is undeniably immense. According to the State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2022 by DinarStandard, Muslims worldwide spent an estimated $2tn in 2021 on food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, modest fashion, travel, and media – all of which having its own fair share of contribution to a borderless IDE.

This spending is forecasted to reach $2.8tn by 2025 at a cumulative annual growth rate of 7.5 per cent.

To better understand the potential of IDE, it is crucial to address the misconception that the sector is exclusively for Muslims. Rather, IDE is based on the principles of just or fairness, transparency, strong governance, and ethical conduct in its practices and services. These are universal values not restricted by faith and serve as an alternative to the Western economy.

For example, Halal traceability centres on integrity and high standards along the production chain, ensuring consumers have peace of mind on a product’s Halal authenticity. Islamic financial instruments such as sukuk provides greater transparency to investors compared to a regular bond, through asset backing. Meanwhile, Muslim fashion revolves heavily around modesty and wearing loose clothes that ultimately provide greater comfort.

Malaysia stands handsomely as a global leader in Islamic Finance and Islamic Fintech. In keeping with this admirable status, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), the country’s digital investment promotion agency under the Ministry of Communications and Digital, has been entrusted to accelerate Malaysia’s IDE.

MDEC’s focus areas in IDE comprises three key sectors: Islamic finance (Islamic fintech, social finance and value-based intermediation), Halal (food, pharmaceutical and healthcare) and lifestyle (travel, fashion, media and recreation and cosmetics).

Building on a robust Islamic Digital Economy

igital inclusivity has been instrumental in furthering Malaysia’s economy as it is aligned with the nation’s strong Islamic economy fundamentals.

Malaysia has also solidified its commendable position globally; it was ranked first in the Global Islamic Economy Indicator 2022, with Malaysia retaining the top spot for the ninth consecutive year, and the Global Islamic Fintech Index 2022, both by DinarStandard.

Several factors have contributed to strengthening Malaysia’s leading role as a global IDE. The country has a mature Islamic finance and Halal ecosystem, backed by strong talent and Shariah experts. It is an innovation centre with many of the world’s first market movers in Islamic finance solutions, products and services, on top of having strong regulatory support with definitive guidelines for fintech and Halal investments.

The country has more than 50 IDE companies consisting of both local and global players operating in 2022, most of which are fintech related.

In support of creating a thriving fintech ecosystem, MDEC facilitates proactive engagements with startups, investors, and innovation enablers from around the globe. The agency acts as a catalyst to enable existing fintech companies and those seeking to enter the Malaysian market.

Other facilitation services include connection to MDEC’s talent ecosystem, pool of Shariah professionals, Islamic finance practitioners, and legal firms who stand ready to offer professional advice.

Equally important to maintaining Malaysia’s stewardship in Islamic fintech, the number of fintech companies coming into the ecosystem must be quality companies that can be nurtured to become global champions. To support this important funnel, MDEC has strategic alliances in the following initiatives to boost the Islamic finance and fintech sector:

FIKRA Accelerator: An acceleration programme by the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) to identify and scale up innovative fintech solutions and support the Malaysian Islamic capital market. MDEC is the programme’s designate digital ecosystem partner. 

i-Connect Fintech in Islamic Finance: An industry-led collaboration network involving the industry, academia, the government and civil society, including MDEC. It aims to enable Malaysia to leverage on new economic opportunities in disruptive innovation. MDEC is a founding member and has been successful to position its technology companies as successful grant recipients.

RAIF Impact Challenge: The Royal Award for Islamic Finance (RAIF) is a joint initiative by BNM and SC to support the sustainability agenda. MDEC was appointed as a partner for the RAIF Impact Challenge 2022 and of the top ten shortlisted company, nine were the agency’s IDE companies.

Going forward

The IDE in Malaysia offers vast potential as a catalyst for digital inclusivity, where the growing number and affluence of Muslims are a force to reckon with.

MDEC believes Malaysia’s thriving community of IDE companies will propel the country to prominence and further accelerate economic growth. This ambition aligns with the Malaysia Digital initiative to support the country’s ranking as a global leader in the Islamic digital landscape.

MDEC is a high-powered, one stop agency that supports growth and expansion of tech companies at all stages, assisting them to land and expand in Malaysia and beyond. Please reach out to MDEC and learn how to get started on this process.

MDEC welcomes you to make Malaysia your innovative IDE hub.


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