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Islamic World News ( 27 Apr 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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British Muslim Gangs Tell Inmates 'Convert Or Get Hurt' And Offer 'Protection' To New Prisoners If They Take Up Islam

New Age Islam News Bureau

26 April 2023


Photo: Mr Bloom's report also suggests religious schools such as yeshivas should be regulated (Image: Getty)



UK Politicians Stigmatising Muslims Over Islamist Terrorism, a Think-Tank Report Finds

Dutch Muslim Groups File UN Complaint Against ‘Witch Hunt’ Parliamentary Committee

Blackburn Mosque set for major extension and facelift

Sikhs confused for Muslims and wrongful arrests due to failures to understand religion, landmark review finds

UK media regulator fines Muslim TV network for anti-Semitic hate speech



Christie's King Street To Auction 240 Rare Artefacts From India And The Islamic World

Emirates Islamic net profit rises 76% to a record Dh601 million for Q1-2023

UAE launches domestic dirhams Islamic T-Sukuk with size of Dhs1.1b

Resistance Groups Warn Israel Against ‘Playing with Fire’ After Al-Aqsa Mosque Incursion

Jewish settlers raid on Al-Aqsa Mosque on 'Yom Haatzmaut' Independence Day

One-Fifth of Iran’s TV, Radio Programs Dedicated to Islamic Teachings


Southeast Asia

Young Voters Won't Be Swayed By Vote-Buying As Long As They Put Race And Religion First, Says Hadi Awang

Indonesia to Order 18 More French Rafale Fighters for $2.3 Billion

US lifts import ban on Malaysia's Smart Glove

Thirty M'sians evacuated from Sudan now in Jeddah, to fly home on April 28, says Zambry


North America

Economist Challenges Existence of Islamic Economy on Iranian TV

Sumayya Vally on the First Islamic Arts Biennale: "Claim, Reclaim, Configure, and Reconfigure"

India, US are indispensable partners, American Ambassador-Designate Eric Garcetti quotes President Joe Biden



With eye on 2024 election, BJP fields around 350 Muslim candidates in UP civic polls

'Patriot Muslims Vote For BJP, Pak Supporters Vote For Cong, JDS: BJP's National GS



Pakistani-American Political Action Committee Lobbies US Lawmakers To ‘Protect Democracy In Pakistan’

Oil tanker hit flattens mosque

Is US opposing Pakistan-Russia energy deal?

China to ‘deepen and expand’ military ties with Pakistan


South Asia

Facebook Advertising Activity Made Limited In Bangladesh

PM Hasina: Bangladesh is going to be regional hub for investment

Dhaka, Tokyo welcome negotiations on transferring defence equipment and tech

Islamic Emirate Reacts to Vienna Meeting

UN agency: Afghanistan needs $4.62 billion in aid for 2023

Japan Donates $18 Million for Life-Saving Vaccines in Afghanistan


Arab World

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Issues Royal Order Promoting 40 Judges at Board of Grievances

UK envoy lauds Saudi Arabia for Sudan evacuation

Another 200 people arrive in Jeddah from Sudan on Wednesday in latest Saudi evacuation operation

France thanks Saudi Arabia after Sudan evacuation

Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance hold meeting in Riyadh



War Crimes Suspect Free From Prison In Chaos Of Sudan Conflict

Americans rush to escape before Sudan plunges into civil war

Reopened Imam Haron inquest provides dignified but inadequate version of delayed apartheid justice


Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



British Muslim Gangs Tell Inmates 'Convert Or Get Hurt' And Offer 'Protection' To New Prisoners If They Take Up Islam


Photo: Mr Bloom's report also suggests religious schools such as yeshivas should be regulated (Image: Getty)


26 April 2023

Prisoners are missing out on "protection" when they end up behind bars if they do not identify as Muslims, it said.

The report into religion in modern Britain found prisoners were coming across Qurans left on their beds and were being told to "convert or get hurt".

Colin Bloom, the report's author, said: "Failure to identify as a Muslim meant that at best the new prisoner would be denied 'protection' from the dominant Muslim gang on that wing, or at worst the new prisoner would be subjected to violence and intimidation from that same gang."

But he also said the Government needed to "redouble" its efforts to "reinforce the distinctions between extremist Islamism and Islam and between Islamist extremists and Muslims".

Mr Bloom, the Government's faith engagement adviser, also warned ministers that attempts to tackle violence against women and girls will be viewed as meaningless unless forced marriage is confronted.

He said in his 159-page report there has been "insufficient action" taken and added: "There is one burning injustice that this Government should not shrink from, which is the issue of forced and coercive marriages.

"Successive governments have rightly spent a lot of time discussing violence against women and girls. Indeed, in recent years the tackling violence against women and girls strategy has been given greater prominence as a priority for government and its agencies to address.

"However, unless government is prepared to really tackle forced and coercive marriage, then its fine words around the tackling violence against women and girls strategy will be seen by many as meaningless.

"If only one thing is achieved from this report, confronting the pernicious and unlawful practice of forced and coercive marriage once and for all should be the goal."

He said that although forced marriage is a crime, people who could intervene and stop it are reluctant because they are either untrained or possibly afraid of causing offence.

Recently, the Government was considering changing the law so people including teachers who fail to report signs of grooming could face jail, in a bid to push back against those who stay silent for fears of being viewed as racist.


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Israel Plans To Turn Bab Al-Rahma Mosque Into A Synagogue, Islamic-Christian Committee Warns


The Golden Gate, also known as Bab al-Rahma or the Gate of Mercy, is located on the eastern wall of al-Aqsa Mosque. (Photo: Via The Nobel Sancturay Website)


April 26, 2023

The Islamic-Christian Committee in Support of Jerusalem and its Sanctuaries yesterday warned that the Israeli occupation is planning to turn the Bab Al-Rahma Prayer Hall into a Jewish synagogue, Quds Press reported.

Bab Al-Rahma is part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound. It has been subject to repeated Israeli attacks since the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

In a statement, the committee warned of a pre-planned Israeli manoeuvre to Judaise Al-Aqsa Mosque, pointing out that "separating Bab Al-Rahma Mosque from the whole area of Al-Aqsa Mosque and turning it into a Jewish synagogue is part of the plan."

The committee called on all Palestinians to "face off the Israeli attempt to close Bab Al-Rahma Mosque, repair it and resume prayers inside it."

In the statement, the committee stressed that "any attempt to change the status quo will have dangerous consequences that the Israeli occupation will be blamed for."

On Monday, Israeli occupation forces raided Bab Al-Rahma Mosque and cut electricity supplies for the second time in five days.

They detained two Palestinian men and a Turkish woman who were praying inside, Wafa news agency said, and asked the guards of Al-Aqsa Mosque not to repair the electricity grid. The Turkish lady was released a day later.


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Sisters In Islam Forum Goes To Federal Court In Bid To Quash Selangor Fatwa Labelling SIS As Deviants


Sisters in Islam


Thursday, 27 Apr 2023

PUTRAJAYA, April 27 — Woman’s rights group SIS Forum (Malaysia) has gone to the Federal Court in a final bid to quash a fatwa issued by the Selangor religious authorities labelling the group as deviants.

The organisation and one of its co-founders Zainah Mahfoozah Anwar had filed an application on April 14 this year, seeking to get leave from the Federal Court to appeal against the Court of Appeal’s dismissal of its challenge against the fatwa.

In civil cases, litigants must obtain leave before they can proceed with appeals to the Federal Court.

On March 14, this year, the appellate court, in a 2-1 majority decision, dismissed SIS Forum’s appeal to quash the fatwa.

They had pursued an appeal to the Court of Appeal after their judicial review was dismissed by the High Court on August 27, 2019.

The fatwa, gazetted by the Selangor State government on July 31, 2014, had declared that SIS Forum, any individual, as well as groups that adopted the deviant ideologies of liberalism and pluralism, were deviating from the teachings of Islam.

The fatwa also directed that any publications containing liberal and plural views of Islam should be banned and confiscated and further directs the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to censor social websites which goes against Islamic teaching and syariah laws.

The Federal Court has fixed May 15 for case management for the leave application appeal.

In the notice of motion requesting for leave, the group has proposed 10 questions of law for the Federal Court to decide.

Among them, whether a fatwa, once published in the Gazette under sections 48(6), Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003, is a form of subsidiary law and/or delegated legislation.

Another question is whether the civil court have jurisdiction to judicially review the making of a fatwa, or its publication in the Gazette under section 48(6) of the Enactment, once it is so gazetted on the grounds generally available for the review of subsidiary or delegated legislation. — Bernama


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Lawmakers Speak Out After Back-To-Back Minneapolis Mosque Fires: "All Of Us Belong In Minnesota"


Mall 24 mosque fire suspect

Minneapolis Police


APRIL 26, 2023

ST. PAUL, Minn. – State lawmakers say hate has no place in Minnesota following two separate attacks on local mosques.

Mall 24's mosque was targeted Sunday evening, followed by Masjid Al Rahma on Monday.

Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara says they're investigating both as arson until they find out otherwise. 

Security cameras captured a man at Mall 24's mosque who CAIR-Minnesota says was carrying gasoline and started a fire in a bathroom. Investigators are still trying to figure out if he also set the other fire.

At the State Capitol Wednesday, a large group of DFL lawmakers and Muslim leaders stood together in solidarity to condemn the attacks.

"We will show that we will stand shoulder to shoulder to defeat those who among us are creating violence in a place of worship," said Rep. Mohamud Noor.

Rep. Hodan Hassan represents the district where two mosques are located. She called on Minneapolis police to find and hold the culprits accountable.

"All of us belong in Minnesota. All of us are Minnesotans, and hate and bigotry has no place in Minnesota," Hassan said.

Anyone with information on the suspect is asked to call Minneapolis police. CAIR-Minnesota is offering a $5,000 reward to find him.


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No Quota For Muslims As Country Was Divided On Religious Lines, Says Adityanath In Karnataka


Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath addresses an election campaign meeting in Mandya district on Wednesday, ahead of Karnataka Assembly polls | PTI



Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath on Wednesday said that reservations based on faith were against the idea of the Constitution, arguing that Muslims cannot get quotas in Karnataka as the country was partitioned in 1947 on religious lines, reported The Indian Express.

Last month, the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Karnataka had removed the 4% reservation for Muslims from the Other Backward Classes quota. The decision was taken at the government’s last Cabinet meeting before the Assembly elections on May 10.

The Basavaraj Bommai government stated that the reservation is not constitutionally tenable and divided the 4% quota equally among the two dominant communities of the state – Vokkaligas and Veerashaiva-Lingayats.

The Supreme Court is hearing a plea against the government order and has put a stay on it till May 9.

At a election rally in Mandya district on Wednesday, Adityanath said the Congress gives reservation based on religion.

“We have given reservations on the basis of castes but there has been a division of the country on the basis of religion in 1947 and, as a result, reservation cannot be provided based on religion,” Adityanath claimed. “We are not ready for an internal division. Only the vision of ‘One India and Excellent India’ will take the country forward.”

He also accused the Congress of dividing the country geographically by creating Pakistan in 1947, reported The Times of India. “In its 60 years of rule, Congress has worked towards breeding hatred among castes for political gains,” Adityanath added.

The chief minister also claimed that there has been no rioting or curfew in Uttar Pradesh due to the “double-engine government” that banned outfits like the Popular Front of India.

“Please think about it, the double-engine government bans the PFI and on the other side, the Congress promotes the PFI,” he added. “The Congress gives reservation based on religion. Reservation based on religion is against the constitution of India.”

Notwithstanding Adityanath’s claims that there has been no rioting in Uttar Pradesh since the BJP came to power, data from the National Crime Records Bureau shows that the state recorded 35,040 cases of rioting from 2017 to 2021. However, the number of riots reduced by 41% from 2017 to 2021.

Adityanath took oath as the Uttar Pradesh chief minister for the first time on March 19, 2017.


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UK Politicians Stigmatising Muslims Over Islamist Terrorism, a Think-Tank Report Finds

Wed 26 Apr 2023

Senior politicians must stop stigmatising Muslims by making them feel responsible for Islamist terrorism, according to a report that aims to reset the government’s approach to dealing with religious groups.

Muslims are being marginalised in a number of areas of British life, according to the report by the government’s faith adviser, Colin Bloom, including by being made to feel they frequently have to renounce terrorist acts. Bloom also urged ministers to develop sharia-compliant student loans to help more Muslims into university, and to conduct an outreach programme to increase their representation in the armed forces.

The comments are part of a sweeping review of the government’s interactions with faith groups at every level of society. The Guardian has previously revealed several of the report’s other main recommendations, including government crackdowns on forced marriage and unregistered religious schools.

A view of East London mosque.

Bloom’s comments on Islam provide some of the most eye-catching parts of the report, however, providing a marked contrast with the tone of much of the government’s recent messaging on Islamist terrorism.

Bloom warns in the report: “Islamist extremism, Islamist-inspired terrorism, and the support of terrorist and extremist organisations … are as repulsive to mainstream British Muslims as the acts of Anders Breivik are to mainstream British Christians. If no effort is undertaken to relieve this situation, sadly many British Muslims will struggle to feel fully accepted and integrated within society.”

He adds: “During this review’s stakeholder engagement, many Muslims described, often poignantly, how society has made them feel stigmatised and somehow responsible for or secretly supportive of acts of Islamist terrorism.

“This reviewer has reason to believe that this happens at all levels of society, including at the very top. Those in the political sphere are not immune from such stigmatisation, with baseless allegations of Islamist extremist sympathy and concerning anti-Muslim language not unheard of.”

The language differs in tone from that of the recent review by William Shawcross of the government’s Prevent strategy, which warned: “The facts clearly demonstrate that the most lethal threat in the last 20 years has come from Islamism, and this threat continues.”

Bloom’s report contains 22 recommendations for ministers, including:

Lady Jane Scott, the faith minister, said in a statement: “I welcome this review and thank Colin for his work. We will carefully consider the recommendations and I’ll make it my mission to continue to work closely with those of all faiths.”

Some religious campaigners also welcomed its findings. Yehudis Fletcher, who founded a Think-Tank to campaign against Jewish extremism, said: “We strongly support the Bloom review recommendations in relation to schools, coercion within marriage, and faith-based extremism and exploitation.”

Humanists UK welcomed Bloom’s “positive and thoughtful engagement”. But its chief executive, Andrew Copson, added: “The report puts religion and religious groups on a pedestal, set up for exclusive funding, consultation, and partnerships with government all overseen by a ‘Faith Champion’. These proposals aren’t merited, the public don’t want them, and they are based on a flawed analysis of our country.”

The report was published on Wednesday, four years after it was first commissioned by the then prime minister, Boris Johnson. It runs to about 160 pages and 65,000 words, dealing with everything from the role of chaplains in prisons to the growing threat posed by Sikh and Hindu nationalists.

On several occasions, Bloom highlights how Muslims are being marginalised by government policy, whether deliberately or not. He warns, for example, that 12,000 Muslims are being put off university every year because Islamic teaching says paying or receiving interest is a sin.

The report says: “Given the strength of evidence, it is regrettable that little has been done recently to progress proposals for alternative student finance.”

Bloom also says the armed forces are failing to recruit enough people from Islamic backgrounds, pointing to data showing that Muslims make up 0.5% of British forces, as compared with 6.5% of the general population.

The report highlights several other areas where Bloom argued that public servants have a poor understanding of religious communities. Police officers and NHS staff, for example, often mistake Sikhs for Muslims or serve halal meals to Hindus.

But it also urges ministers to be bolder in tackling abusive practices within religious communities, whether stopping coercive marriages or regulating faith schools, which often slip under Ofsted’s radar.


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Dutch Muslim groups file UN complaint against ‘witch hunt’ parliamentary committee

26 April, 2023

A coalition of Muslim groups in the Netherlands have filed a complaint to the UN Human Rights Committee against a Dutch parliamentary committee over allegations they deliberately targeted Muslims and Muslim organisations.

The Ummah Project, a team of lawyers, filed the 82-page complaint on behalf of "Muslim dignitaries" Hamid Tahiri, Jacob van der Blom, and Nasr El-Damanhoury who were "interrogated as criminals" by the committee for hours, according to a press release from the Ummah Project.

The Dutch Parliamentary Committee on Unwanted Foreign Influence was tasked in 2020 on behalf of the Dutch government with investigating social and religious institutions, such as mosques, for foreign influence.

"The investigation by POCOB gave itself an objective and non-discriminatory cover, in reality, the focus was exclusively on Muslims and Muslim organisations," the Ummah Project press release said.

"This exclusive focus on Islam and Muslims is in violation of fundamental human rights, and in particular the non-discrimination principle according to [UN convention]," the organisation said.

"This resulted in a classic witch hunt against Muslims and Islamic organisations."

The Ummah Project claimed the Dutch government labelled funding flows from Morocco, Turkey, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia as problematic.

The three men represented in the complaint were summoned by the committee as witnesses, and were threatened with imprisonment if they failed to show up.

Clips from the hearing show Muslim witnesses being subjected to intense interrogation.

Jacob van der Blom, the chairman of the BlauweMoskee (Blue Mosque) in Amsterdam, said in a statement: "In the constitution here in the Netherlands, we agreed to not treat each other differently based on religion or colour - this is clearly what happened here though."

"They had already decided upon the outcome and all the questions, the speakers and the order of the meetings," he said of his committee appearances.

According to the Hamburg-based data website Statista, around 5% of the Netherlands' population are Muslims.

Muslims in the Netherlands often face discrimination widely believed to be fuelled by the normalisation of Islamophobia and the increasing influence of the far right in politics.


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Blackburn Mosque set for major extension and facelift

By Bill Jacobs


A BLACKBURN mosque and madrassah is in line for a major makeover.

The Jamia Syeda Fatima Al-zahra in Bank Lane, Intack, is seeking planning permission for an extension.

The expansion would enlarge the prayer hall, create new assembly room and facelift the building's facade.

Pirzada Sajjad Hussain Syed from the mosque has applied to Blackburn with Darwen Council for approval for a proposed single-storey extension to the side and double-storey extension to the front, rear and side of the property with elevational and internal alterations.

A design and access statement submitted with the application says: "The application site comprises two-storey building uses as Place of Worship and educational/community centre.

"The building comprise of lower ground floor to prayer hall and single storey with toilet facilities to rear.

"The first floor has a library, computer, office and resting room.

"The building is sited at the junction of Bank Lane and Shadsworth Road, with its own car parking facility to the side.

"The surrounding area is prominently residential, including a small block of terraced houses directly opposite the application site, which also includes a hair and beauty salon.

"The proposal is for a two-storey side extension to increase of prayer hall at lower ground floor and Assembly Hall to first floor.

"The proposal also includes a single-storey extension to rear for a mortuary room, ablution and male, female and disabled toilets.

"The proposed extension has been designed as to reflect the similar design of the existing building with a dual pitched roof, and finished in a smooth render finish.

"All windows and doors will be installed in upvc dark grey finish, with all windows at ground floor level to be obscured glazed.

"The new entrance of building will be from existing car park.

"The existing door to Bank Lane will be retained.

"It is proposed that the centre will be operated by my client Mr Sajjad Hussain who is an Islamic teacher and scholar.

"The site is accessed via the existing door off Bank Lane.

"The current site has the provision for 15 car parking spaces, and in order to provide adequate parking and manoeuvrability the proposal is to reduce this to 12 inclusive of two disabled parking bays.

"Please note that two car parking spaces will be designated for staff, and the rest for visitors and users of the building.

"Parents will be requested to drop their children off within the car park.

"Children using the Madrassah live locally with a walking distance of a maximum five to eight minutes."


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Sikhs confused for Muslims and wrongful arrests due to failures to understand religion, landmark review finds

Holly Bancroft


Hindus were served Halal meals, Sikhs confused for Muslims, and Christians were wrongfully arrested because public sector workers don’t understand religious beliefs, a landmark review has found.

The 165-page report by the government’s faith adviser Colin Bloom is the most sweeping review of the government’s relationship with religion in a generation. The study, published on Wednesday after years of delays, found that civil servants lacked an understanding of religion and recommended that all public sector workers be given training.

Examples of religious ignorance noted in the report included police officers who confused Sikhs with Muslims or had raised concerns over the kirpan, a ceremonial sword Sikhs are obliged to carry as part of their religious observance.

In the NHS, patients were pressured to pursue treatment, such as abortion or chromosomal tests during pregnancy, that conflicted with their religious beliefs.

Some patients had also been served the wrong food, with Hindus served Halal meals while others were denied requests for medication that didn’t contain animal products.

Police officers had also asked Sikhs to remove their ‘five Ks’ – five articles of faith that they are commanded to wear at all times.

Mr Bloom called for the government to spearhead a “renaissance of public faith literacy”. He also cited the “enduring lack of diversity among senior civil servants” as a potential reason for the lack of understanding about people’s faith.

The review also noted concerns about police arrests of street preachers and raised the case of a Christian who received a £2,500 payout for wrongful arrest after he was accused of Islamophobia.

“The amounts of taxpayer money and public resources that have been wasted on wrongful arrests, judicial proceedings, and compensation highlights the need for improved faith literacy among policing authorities,” Mr Bloom wrote.

Health workers also failed to understand the importance of a Sikh’s turban in palliative situations and during post-mortem examinations. One respondent said about NHS workers: “They were asking Sikh men with beards to trim their beards at the start of the pandemic so that PPE would be able to fit them, and I was asked by some leading figures within the regulatory bodies as to why Sikh men couldn’t simply just have a trim rather than having to spend money on specialist equipment for them.”

Some NHS staff also said that they were unable to express their religious identity at work and their faith was made to feel “irrelevant”.

Mr Bloom recommended that the government “take steps to ensure that everyone on the public payroll, including civil servants in Whitehall and local councils, NHS and public health staff, teachers in schools, colleges and universities, and police, prison and probation officers, are provided with consistent, quality faith literacy training.”

The review also found that Christians were feeling increasingly marginalised for their faith. Some 53 per cent of respondents of the review thought that freedom of religion or belief was under threat. However, this was notably higher among Christians at 68 per cent.

“Many Christian respondents said they no longer feel able to be who they are in public or at work, after experiencing the dismissal of traditional religious beliefs and practices,” Mr Bloom wrote. He added that Christian respondents consistently raised fears about being “no-platformed” for their beliefs.

The review also called on government to do more to crack down on forced marriages. “We need root-and-branch reform of how forced and coercive marriage is tackled by the government”, Mr Bloom wrote.

It also said Jewish yeshivas, Muslim madrassas, and other institutions that operate “like a school” must be registered and inspected.

Chief executive of Humanists UK, Andrew Copson, said the report “simply hasn’t recognised the UK for what it is: a largely non-religious nation whose non-religious population contribute just as much to society as the religious.”

Rev Malcom Brown, from the Church of England, said: “We welcome the recognition in the report of the need for religious literacy and a greater public understanding of the major world faiths.

“It is a fact that the majority of people in England Wales identify with a religion, so faith is not a minority pursuit.”


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UK media regulator fines Muslim TV network for antisemitic hate speech

Apr 26, 2023

UK media regulator Ofcom has fined a Manchester Shia Muslim TV network $12,500 for airing “antisemitic hate speech” that violated its broadcasting regulations.

The Ahlebait TV Networks’ current affairs program 20th Hour in a segment titled “Money Power, Islam and a Just Order” broadcast content that “amounted to antisemitic hate speech, and derogatory and abusive treatment of Jewish people,” Ofcom found, according to Broadband TV News.

Besides the fine, Ahlebait TV was told not to show the episode again and to air a statement of Ofcom’s findings in a format to be determined by the regulatory agency.

The segment in question, which was broadcast on March 21, was determined by Ofcom to have the potential to cause offense and did not meet the requirements for having sufficient context to be shown, which violated Ofcom Broadcasting Code Rule 3.2 stating that material involving hate speech cannot be broadcast on TV unless it is justified by the context, according to Digital TV Europe.

“Given the seriousness of these breaches, we have imposed a financial penalty of £10,000 [$12,500 USD] on Ahlebait TV Networks, payable to HM Treasury," Ofcom said in a statement. "We have also directed Ahlebait not to repeat the program and to broadcast a statement of our findings against it on a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom.”


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Christie's King Street to auction 240 rare artefacts from India and the Islamic world


Apr 27, 2023

An auction at Christie's in London will bring together 240 pieces from the Indian and Islamic worlds, each of them a memento from a fascinating time in regional history.

The range of art includes manuscripts, paintings, ceramics, metalwork and carpets dating from the 9th to the 19th centuries. The auction will be held on Thursday at Christie's on King Street.

Among the most expensive items in the collection is also one of the most mysterious — a finial from the fabled gold throne of Tipu Sultan that has an estimated price of between £300,000 and £500,000 ($374,413 and $624,022).

Although the throne of the 18th-century Indian Muslim ruler no longer exists, there are illustrations suggesting what it may have looked like. One is a portrait of Tipu Sultan dating to 1800 by Italian painter Anna Tonelli. It shows the ruler sitting cross-legged in the shade of an umbrella on the flat, octagonal throne — a platform raised above the ground by a 12-legged tiger, the roaring head of which is carved at the fore. The tiger’s menacing posture protects the sultan.

“Tiger stripes were [Tipu’s] royal insignia,” Sara Plumbly, director and head of the Islamic and Indian Art department at Christie’s King Street, says. “They would decorate all the courtly objects and weapons. You’d find tigers and their patterns employed in the architecture of palaces and mosques.

The throne is also decorated with a series of tiger-headed finials.

“We don’t actually have a precise idea of what the throne looked like, but eight of these finials decorated the top,” Plumbly says. “They were all taken after Tipu Sultan was defeated by the British and sadly the throne was taken apart.”

A few pieces survive today, including the finial which is lot 84 of the auction — they are the last remnants of the throne. It is difficult to appreciate the craftsmanship and lustre of the throne through Tonelli’s portrait. The crisp photographs of the finial in Christie’s catalogue depicts the decorative piece in due splendor, suggesting the lavishness that had made Tipu’s throne the stuff of legend.

The finial is meticulously crafted — it is covered with inlaid gold and set with rubies, emeralds and diamonds. It now stands on a marble stand with gilt metal fittings.

The first two lots of the sale are also striking. They are pages from an album of compilated calligraphy works. While the pages share borders and illuminations, they present unique artworks, with each piece signed by its respective artist. The works date back to the late 15th and early 16th centuries, with each estimated between £30,000 and £40,000.

“They’re both the opening pages of what would have been a royal album,” Plumbly says. “Albums were the way that the Fatimid, Mughal and Ottoman courts preserved their collection. They would gather the works that they were their favourite in a book. The works didn’t have to speak to each other, but would come together by the borders. “

The works in the lot are examples by two of the most important Safavid artists, Sultan Ali Mashhadi and Shah Mahmud Nishapuri. The calligraphy presents Quranic verses, specifically Surat Al Fatiha. However, they wildly vary in style and employ calligraphy not traditionally used while transcribing the Quran.

Lot 25, meanwhile, depicts the story of King Solomon and Bilqis, the Queen of Sheba. Historians correlate Sheba with present-day Yemen and Ethiopia, where the kingdom of Saba reigned.

In Abrahamic accounts, the South Arabian queen visited Solomon’s court with gold, jewels and spices. She had heard of Solomon’s wisdom and wanted to test it herself. There are several accounts of how that meeting transpired. In the Quran, the encounter between the two royals ends with the heliolater queen coming to believe in God.

The 15th-century Timurid folio, estimated between £150,000 and £200,000, illustrates the meeting. The court is gathered on either side, whereas the Solomon and Bilqis are seated in the plush centre. The sky above them is made brilliant with gold leaf. Storks, songbirds, peacocks and flora decorate the background.

“This is one of the highlights of the sale,” Plumbly says. “It’s a Timurid painting. You don’t see a lot of full page Timurid paintings. You do see smaller examples, illustrative manuscripts, but to have a full page that is as colourful and well preserved as this is extremely rare.

“On top of that the subject is incredible,” she adds. “We see Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. It was a popular subject, retold by many cultures across the centuries. In Islamic culture, he is a king and a prophet. He is said to have converted the Queen of Sheba. The intensity of the palette is wonderful. The lines are so painterly and minute.”

While several artworks in the lot are estimated in the six figures, there are also plenty of less expensive options. These include illustrations that date back to Safavid Iran in the 15th century. Lot 28, estimated between £10,000 and £15,000, features three illustrations from Shahnameh, the epic poem written by Ferdowsi. Lot 29, on the other hand, features illustrations from Nizami’sKhamsa.

“These are Safavid paintings that one could acquire at a reasonable figure,” Plumbly says. “They’re both very vibrantly coloured, beautifully painted. Both of these lots, they are illustrations from books. Those books over time were split, very badly at times. The paintings ended up in different collections.”

Of the 240 lots, 100 feature carpets and rugs with origins ranging from India and the Caucasus to Persia and Anatolia.

The auction also features a strong selection of arms and armour, including bejeweled daggers and khanjars with Mughal designs, and meticulously enameled hilts from 19th-century India.

“There are so many aspects to the sale,” Plumbly says. “We have medieval objects. We have Indian paintings, Iznik pottery. We have a section of Ottoman works, from lot 120 to around 156. There are many group examples of pottery, textiles.

“We also have lots 155 and 166, which are associated with holy shrines. Lot 155 is a group of textiles that were woven to cover some of the most important places in Medina. Lot 166 is a fragment of a kiswah from Mecca.”

To view the entire collection of the Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds auction, visit


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Emirates Islamic net profit rises 76% to a record Dh601 million for Q1-2023

April 27, 2023

Dubai: Emirates Islamic delivered a record net profit of Dh601 million for the first three months of 2023 as total income grew 74 per cent, the lender said on Thursday.

Total income for the period stood at Dh1.13 billion, up 74 per cent year-on-year driven by rising core revenues.

“The Bank announced the successful pricing of its inaugural Dh1 billion dirham-denominated sukuk, the first such sukuk by a UAE bank,” said Hesham Abdulla Al Qassim, Chairman, Emirates Islamic. “The three-year issue attracted a strong orderbook and was 2.5 times oversubscribed which allowed the Bank to tighten the profit rate to 5.05 per cent, at a spread of 67 basis points over UAE Government Treasuries.”

Total assets during the period increased by 4 per cent from the end of 2022 to Dh77.9 billion. Customer financing was up 3 per cent to Dh49.6 billion, while customer deposits increased by 2 per cent to Dh57.3 billion with current account and savings account balances at 75 per cent of total deposits.

“As Emirates Islamic continues to drive innovation in the Islamic banking sector, the Bank launched a global FinTech accelerator campaign in collaboration with the world’s leading innovation platform, Plug and Play Abu Dhabi,” said Salah Mohammed Amin, CEO, Emirates Islamic. “The campaign is a call to action for leading Islamic FinTechs and financial startups with propositions that can enhance customer journeys across SME financing, trade finance and financial wellbeing.”


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UAE launches domestic dirhams Islamic T-Sukuk with size of Dhs1.1b


The UAE, represented by the Ministry of Finance (MoF) as the issuer and in collaboration with the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) as the issuing and paying agent, has announced launching a dirham-denominated Islamic Treasury Sukuk (T-Sukuk), with a benchmark auction size of Dhs1.1 billion.

Mohamed Bin Hadi Al Hussaini, Minister of State for Financial Affairs, reaffirmed the UAE’s keenness to strengthen the Islamic economy and build a pioneering investment infrastructure to boost the Islamic economy as one of the key pillars of the national economy.

Al Hussaini said, “The Ministry of Finance cooperates with all its partners, foremostly the Central Bank of the UAE, to attract investments and deploy them in Islamic economy channels. The T-Sukuk are Sharia-compliant financial certificates, and they will be traded to reflect the local return on investment, support economic diversification and financial inclusion, and contribute to achieving comprehensive and sustainable economic and social development goals.”

Additionally, he emphasised that issuing the T-Sukuk in local currency will contribute to building a local currency bond market, diversifying financing resources, boosting the local financial and banking sector, and providing safe investment alternatives for local and foreign investors.

He also noted that this issuance will help build the UAE Dirham-denominated yield curve, thereby strengthening the local financial market and developing the investment environment.

Khaled Mohamed Balama, Governor of CBUAE, emphasised the importance of issuing Islamic treasury sukuk in developing local sukuk markets, diversifying financing resources, and strengthening the infrastructure to support investment options and alternatives that are compatible with the provisions of Islamic Sharia, to develop the Islamic financial sector, improve the investment environment, and solidify the UAE’s position as a leading global hub in the Islamic finance sector.

He added, “The issuance of Islamic treasury sukuk comes within the UAE’s commitment to developing capital market activities and consolidating its position as a global financial hub. This issuance reaffirms the strength and stability of the financial system and the confidence of local and international investors in the UAE’s ability to develop the financial sector following monetary policies and strategic plans.”

Balama noted, “With the development of an effective infrastructure for the financial markets, we are confident that this issuance will contribute to supporting the market for bonds denominated in the local currency and issued by the public sector in the country. It will also enhance the competitiveness of the local financial markets and enable market participants in the UAE to maintain a single, transparent, diversified and sustainable liquidity pool in Dirhams.


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Resistance Groups Warn Israel Against ‘Playing with Fire’ After Al-Aqsa Mosque Incursion


TEHRAN (FNA)- Palestinian resistance factions warned the occupying Tel Aviv regime against “playing with fire” after Israeli forces broke into a prayer area in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, saying such moves represent a failed attempt to change the Islamic identity of the holy city of Al-Quds.

The groups announced in a joint statement on Tuesday that Israel is playing with fire with such actions, emphasizing that their members and advocates will increase their presence on the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to thwart fiendish plots aimed at imposing the Israeli regime’s control over the sacred site, and subsequently creating temporal and spatial divisions there, presstv reported.

According to Palestinian news outlets, Israeli forces stormed the Bab Al-Rahma prayer area on Saturday and inflicted great damage inside, as Muslim worshipers were celebrating the Eid Al-Fitr holiday.

The Israeli troops also assaulted Palestinian youths, who were on their way to perform the Eid prayers, beating them with sticks near the Lions’ Gate in occupied Al-Quds.

Hamas and the Islamic Jihad resistance groups have condemned the Israeli acts of violence and vowed to defend their sanctities in the face of the regime’s assaults.

Elsewhere in their Tuesday statement, the Palestinian resistance groups strongly condemned Israeli officials for exercising the policy of deliberate medical negligence against Sheikh Khader Adnan, a high-profile official with the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad resistance movement who has been on hunger strike for more than 80 days in protest at his detention, and Walid Daqqa, who has been in Israeli prisons for 38 years.

They also argued that hoisting the Israeli flag over Ibrahimi Mosque in the Southern West Bank city of Al-Khalil constitutes a flagrant act of aggression and is part of Israel’s Judaization schemes.

Such moves, they said, will never manage to alter the Islamic and historical realities of sacred places in the occupied territories.

The resistance factions went on to commend the recent “heroic” car-ramming operation in Al-Quds, saying that the retaliatory measure exposed the frailty of the Zionist entity in the face of the steadfast Palestinian nation, and proved the great ability of Palestinians to foil the regime’s conspiracies.

They also hit back at the reported activation of the Israeli regime’s assassination policy against Palestinian officials, saying such threats would not succeed to burnish its image which has been shattered by resistance fighters.

They emphasized that “the resistance’s response to any foolish act is greater and broader than what it expects”.


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Jewish settlers raid on Al-Aqsa Mosque on 'Yom Haatzmaut' Independence Day


A few dozens of far-right Jewish settlers have entered Al-Aqsa Mosque complex on Wednesday, April 26, which marks the Israeli Independence Day 'Yom Haatzmaut'. Across Israel, events and celebrations take place every year on the day, when Israel declared its independence in 1948. This day is called by the Palestinians as “Nakba”, or Catastrophe.


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One-Fifth of Iran’s TV, Radio Programs Dedicated to Islamic Teachings

APRIL 27, 2023

More than a quarter of all radio and television programs produced in Iran are dedicated to Islamic and religious topics, new research shows.

Out of a total of 345,000 hours of programs produced in the country in 2021, more than 70,000 hours were dedicated to Islamic teachings, the collaborative initiative Iran Open Data said in an article published on April 26.

It said the volume of programs related to Islamic teachings is six times that of scientific topics and three times that of political and economic topics.

Assuming that the production cost is equally distributed among different types of productions, Iran Open Data estimated the cost of producing programs dedicated to Islamic teachings at around $56.2 million annually.

A large portion of the budget of the public service broadcaster, Iranian Broadcasting Corporation’s (IRIB), is appropriated from the general budget.

Founded in 2016, Iran Open Data (IOD) strives to make Iran’s official data accessible, available and re-usable. Not only does IOD collect and process raw datasets for researchers and experts, it also publishes exclusive data-driven articles and digital stories for the general public. Additionally, IOD conducts public data calls and surveys on often neglected or taboo issues that are rarely addressed by the government. Follow IOD for all the data-stories concerning Iran.


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Southeast Asia


Young voters won't be swayed by vote-buying as long as they put race and religion first, says Hadi Awang

By Muhammad Yusry

Thursday, 27 Apr 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, April 27 — In a salvo to political opponents ahead of the state elections, Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang has today said young voters who put their religion, race and country first will not be easily bought and deceived.

Accusing the current administration of links to those who are allegedly corrupt and practising money politics, the PAS president pointed to how the Islamist party had in the past told its supporters not to let taking any financial aid influence their votes.

“State elections will be held soon, which will be a test of awareness as observed in the last 15th general election,” he said in an opinion piece.

“Although youths can be considered green and less educated, if they put their minds to upholding the dignity, race and country — in accordance with Allah and by putting their self-value guided by their minds and intelligence — then they cannot easily be bought and deceived.”

In the lengthy piece that used metaphors of fishing and the rasbora fish that would eat the bait but not the hook, Hadi lamented how materialism has invited ruin towards the country’s leaders and its people.

“Corruption has spread starting from the aspect of governance to the political party governing the country that is influenced by money politics. Until this country is governed through corruption, by choosing leaders who can be bought, and those rich contributors towards corruption buying the support of the people also through corruption.

“This includes the current PakatanHarapan government formed by those who give bribes, together in unity with those afflicted by corruption,” he said.

Hadi had in the past called those who give bribes as a dog-whistle reference to non-Muslim elites.

Prior to the 15th general election, he had accused non-Muslims and non-Bumiputera of making up the bulk of what he called as “roots of corruption” — as those who chase illicit gains to the detriment of the country’s economy and politics.

In return, Hadi told supporters of PAS to remember how its late spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat had told Kelantan voters to keep voting PAS despite receiving financial aid from the then BarisanNasional federal government.

He said this included those who return to vote in their respective states using transport and tickets contributed by PAS’ political rivals, but would still vote the Islamist party.

“Through this slogan, PAS managed to conquer Kelantan and defend its position there until we then conquered Terengganu and Kedah, and finally Perlis.

“We could erect clean state governments free from the scourge of corruption. Even with limited funds, we could still stay in power,” he said.

In January, Hadi had defended the use of cash handouts in the wake of accusations that the practice had mired the results of the Kuala Terengganu, Marang and Kemaman constituencies in the 15th general election — justifying them as donations given during a campaign trail and not a form of bribery.


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Indonesia to Order 18 More French Rafale Fighters for $2.3 Billion


APRIL 26, 2023

Indonesia will order 18 additional Rafale fighter jets from France as part of a $2.3-billion deal, according to a report by La Tribune, citing procurement sources.

The order is part of 42 aircraft Jakarta plans to purchase to modernize its air force.

According to the report, the Southeast Asian nation has already secured funding for the additional Rafales and to arm them with air-to-air missiles.

The deal could be formalized during a forthcoming visit to Paris by Indonesian defense minister PrabowoSubianto.

The order for the last tranche of 18 Rafale fighter jets is also expected to be announced in the coming months.

Prabowo signed a contract in September 2022 for the delivery of six Rafales worth $1.1 billion.

The Rafale Aircraft

Developed by Dassault Aviation, the Rafale is a twin-jet combat aircraft designed to support the French Navy and French Air Force.

Its state-of-the-art cockpit is equipped with a wide-angle holographic display that provides pilots with aircraft control data, mission data, and firing cues.

It also has an RBE2 passive electronically scanned radar from Thales to track up to eight targets simultaneously.

Additionally, the Rafale features a high-performance laser warning receiver, missile warning system, detection systems, and jammers.

It can carry AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, ASRAAM and AMRAAM air-to-air missiles, Apache missiles, and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

The Rafales will replace Indonesia’s aging F-5 supersonic light fighter aircraft from Northrop Grumman.


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US lifts import ban on Malaysia's Smart Glove

April 26, 2023

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - The United States lifted a 17-month import ban on products from Malaysian rubber glove maker Smart Glove, saying the company has addressed exploitative labour practices.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in November 2021 sanctioned imports from Smart Glove and its group of companies over the alleged use of forced labour at its production facilities.

Smart Glove, which makes gloves used in the medical and food industries, had then said it was opposed to forced labour and committed to the well-being of its workers.

In a statement on Wednesday, the CBP said Smart Glove has taken various remediation measures, including repaying recruitment fees borne by migrant workers. Activists say the onerous fees result in debt bondage.

Smart Glove also improved workers' living conditions, and implemented new worker-centered policies and procedures, the CBP said.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Malaysian companies, including some of the world's major suppliers of palm oil and medical gloves, have come under increased scrutiny over suspected abuse of foreign workers, a significant part of the country's manufacturing workforce.

(Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor)


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Thirty M'sians evacuated from Sudan now in Jeddah, to fly home on April 28, says Zambry

Thursday, 27 Apr 2023

PETALING JAYA: The 30 Malaysians evacuated from Sudan arrived at the King Faisal Naval Base in Jeddah on Thursday (April 27), says Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir.

The Foreign Minister said they had arrived in Jeddah after travelling almost nine hours from Sudan Port.

He also said that the 30 evacuees would be flown home to Malaysia on Friday (April 28).

"The operations of the Malaysian embassy in Sudan are also temporarily suspended," Zambry said.

Earlier, the Foreign Minister was reported to have said that another two Malaysians, who were employees of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) in Abyei were not part of the group and their evacuation would be handled by the UN. – Bernama


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North America


Economist Challenges Existence of Islamic Economy on Iranian TV

APRIL 26, 2023


The concept of an "Islamic economy" has been a topic of discussion for at least 45 years.

In a recent televised debate, Musa Ghaninejad, a proponent of competitive capitalism, asked Masoud Derakhshan, a professor of economics at Imam Sadiq University and advocate for Islamic economics, to define what the Islamic economy is, highlighting the frustration felt by economists who have been grappling with this issue for decades.

Despite its elusive nature, the notion of an Islamic economy continues to cast a heavy shadow over Iran's economy, leading experts to question whether such a model truly exists and, if so, what its characteristics are.

It is noteworthy that Derakhshan, who was a student at Tehran’s Imam Sadiq University, is an educated statesman who promotes his ideas for an Islamic economy through his work in the university’s Faculty of Islamic Studies and Economics.

His ideas have provided a practical framework to transform Iran's economy.

Ehsan Khandozi, the minister of economic affairs and finance, Dawood Manzoor, head of the Program and Budget Organization, Hojjat Abdul Maliki, former minister of cooperation, labor, and social welfare and secretary of the Supreme Council of Free Commercial-Industrial and Special Economic Zones, Mohammad Rezwanifar, deputy economy minister and chairman of the Iranian customs services, Hossein Ghurbanzadeh, head of the Privatization Organization, Mohammad Hadi Zahediwafa, head of the Higher Institute of Education and Research, Management, and Planning, MeysamPilehforosh, deputy head of the Privatization Organization, are among graduates from the Faculty of Islamic Studies and Economics at Imam Sadiq University who now hold positions in the government.

Despite the Islamization of all facets of Iranian society over the past 40 years, questions regarding the Islamic economy and its derivatives, such as Islamic banking, have remained unanswered.

In his recent televised debate with Derakhshan, Ghaninejad, one of the founders of the Faculty of Islamic Studies and Economics at Imam Sadiq University, received disappointing answers when he raised this matter.

Whatever the Leader Said

During the debate, Ghaninejad tried to define an Islamic economy by referencing the opinions of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founding father of the Islamic Republic. The professor of economics said an Islamic economy is what Khomeini had said about it.

As Ghaninejad pressed for a more comprehensive answer, Derakhshan said that he supported regulating economic affairs of Muslim societies based on Islam, meaning that both the Program and Budget Organization and the central bank must act in accordance with Islamic principles.

But what does this truly mean? Is it sufficient to formulate a comprehensive economic system labeled as an Islamic economy? Derakhshan further explained that "Islamic economics entails discovering economics in its true sense."

"Although there are various definitions of an Islamic economy, it cannot simply be a collection of jurisprudential rulings, fatwas, narrations, and economic hadiths," he said.

Derakhshan asserts that "a set of jurisprudential rulings or the introduction of economic cooperation contracts, such as the sanctity of usury, respect for ownership, rulings on options and fraud in transactions, or the explanation of mudarabah (partnership in which one party provides the capital while the other provides labor) contracts, etc.,cannot solve the problems of today's complex economies."

Instead, a school of thought or a codified and coherent philosophical system is needed for a more comprehensive Islamic economic model, according to Derakhshan.

No News about the Islamic Economy

Although Derakhshan cited Khomeini’s words and writings to explain what an Islamic economy is, these quotes offer little guidance on how to build a comprehensive economic system.

Instead, they focus on moral recommendations and jurisprudence, which cannot provide a coherent economic framework.

Khomeini's comments on the economy emphasized the importance of independence and self-sufficiency, but provided little guidance on the specifics of a "correct" and "healthy" economic system.

He frequently stressed the need for all aspects of life in the Islamic Republic to be Islamic, including the economy.

However, Khomeini's intellectual dependence on non-Islamic schools of thought has been criticized. In a meeting with Ministry of Health and Welfare employees in 1980, he lamented the "people’s tendency to abandon their own school of thought and to adopt the ideas of others, including Marxist economics, without fully understanding their own Islamic economic principles."

How can Khomeini's description of an Islamic economy and its characteristics be improved?

In a conversation with a reporter from the newspaper Indonesian Tempo in January 1979, while he was still living in France, he was asked about the economic foundations of an Islamic regime, particularly in the banking sector, land reforms, and property rights.

Khomeini responded that ownership is accepted in Islam but that it comes with certain conditions and limits prescribed by Islamic laws and regulations.

"This separates the economic system of Islam from the capitalist economic system of the world, and if these limits and conditions are followed, the Islamic society will not experience the same problems and inequalities found in today's capitalist world."

Ayatollah Khomeini emphasized that the economic system of Islam should be viewed as a part of Islamic laws and regulations covering all aspects of personal and social affairs.

He believed that the problems and complications in human life cannot be solved only "by regulating economic relations in a particular way.” “Instead, they should be solved within an Islamic system that takes into account spirituality,” which he considered “the key to pain.”

Ayatollah Khomeini concluded that only Islam can guide society, and if the world wants to overcome its problems, it should convert to Islam.

Khomeini's explanations about the economic foundations of the Islamic regime merely reiterate a few jurisprudence rulings on borrowing interests and property. They do not adequately establish an intellectual framework that distinguishes Islamic economics from capitalist or communist models.

To fully clarify the concept of Islamic economics, it is essential to highlight its distinct features, which include an emphasis on social justice, eradication of poverty and discrimination, support for the oppressed, rejection of foreign dependence and respect for usury.

These principles have been repeatedly emphasized in the context of Islamic economics, but they do not constitute a fully comprehensive intellectual system on their own.

To establish a distinct Islamic economic system, it is necessary to further develop and refine these ideas to create a robust framework that differs significantly from capitalist and communist models.

In a meeting in Tehran in January 1980, Ayatollah Khomeini stated that the ultimate goal of the Islamic Republic is to make "everything" Islamic.

He described what constitutes an Islamic market, saying that it must not engage in practices that harm the economy or exploit the poor.

“For instance, a market that purchases goods for one toman and sells them for 30 to the rich while ignoring the needs of the poor is not Islamic,” he said.

Khomeini stressed the importance of "self-Islamization" and urged the market to become "Islamic." He criticized the construction of palaces while the plight of slum dwellers was ignored.

Khomeini argued that “being an Islamic country is more than just a facade or an outward appearance; it is about having substance and actively working toward the betterment of society as a whole.”

Leaning on the Wind

There are many economists who fundamentally reject the idea of an Islamic economy. For example, Ghaninejad clearly stated that the Islamic economy does not exist.

This opinion is shared by some high-ranked Muslim scholars such as Ayatollah Mohammad JavadAlaviTabatabaiBoroujerdi, who referred to the Islamic economy as a joke in an interview with Echo Iran in 2019, just like socialist or capitalist economies.

However, supporters of an Islamic economy claim this concept suffered from misunderstandings.

The insistence on Islamizing all aspects of society, as Ayatollah Khomeini advocated, and on trying to solve economic crises by removing economic principles from Islam is the root of Iran's current economic situation.

Ghaninejad's criticism of Khamenei's and Khomeini's economic views in the debate with Derakhshan has become a lasting critique. He asked: Why should we accept the views of Khamenei and Khomeini, who are not experts in economics, regarding economic issues that require scientific expertise rather than jurisprudence?


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Sumayya Vally on the First Islamic Arts Biennale: "Claim, Reclaim, Configure, and Reconfigure"

Written by ChristeleHarrouk

April 26, 2023

The First Islamic Arts Biennale, artistically directed by Sumayya Vally, opened on January 2023 and is still ongoing until May 23, 2023, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The inaugural event was commissioned and produced by the Diriyah Biennale Foundation and was curated by Vally alongside Dr. Julian Raby, Dr. Omniya Abdel Barr, and Dr. Saad Al-Rashid. The biennale re-imagines the Western Hajj Terminal at King Abdulaziz Airport, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and winner of the 1983 Aga Khan Award, as a cultural space to redefine Islamic Arts from "within, in a way, that connects some of these art forms and forms of artistic expression to the experience and rituals" of those that live it.

Sumayya Vally is a South African architect, founder, and director of the Johannesburg-based collaborative architectural studio Counterspace. Designer of the Serpentine Pavilion in 2020/2021, she was the youngest architect to get this commission. Part of Time’s 100 emerging leaders who are shaping the future, in 2021, the only architect to make the list at that time, Sumayya started her career as a curator and teacher, and recently she was appointed as artistic director of the first Islamic Arts Biennale in Jeddah. ArchDaily had the chance to talk with Vally about her contribution to this biennale, her vision of the exhibition, the venue, the scenography, and the participating architects. Sumayya also shared some exclusive info about her entry for the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale, starting on May 20th, in Venice, Italy.


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India, US are indispensable partners, American Ambassador-Designate Eric Garcetti quotes President Joe Biden


The newly sworn-in US Ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti, has emphasised the importance of the US-India relationship, stating that it is critical to the future of both nations. Garcetti, who is also US President Joe Biden's close aide, highlighted the fact that the two countries have never before worked so closely on such a range of issues.

He made these comments while addressing a gathering of prominent Indian Americans at the US-India Summit, organised by Congressional India Caucus’s Co-chairs Ro Khanna and Michael Waltz.

Garcetti's appointment had been pending before the US Congress since July 2021, but he was finally confirmed in March 2022 after concerns were raised about how he had handled allegations of sexual assault and harassment against a former senior adviser.

Before coming to India, he spoke with President Biden about his vision for the US-India partnership, emphasising the pivotal nature of this moment for both countries and the entire planet.

“There are few relationships in the world that are more vital to the US and India. Our relationship in the world is critical to its future. As President Biden has said, India and the US are indispensable partners," Garcetti said.

According to Garcetti, the US-India relationship is vital for both nations, and President Biden has stressed that the two countries are indispensable partners. The US and India are both leading democracies and two of the world's largest economies, with a shared commitment to innovation and progress. Together, they can shape the 21st century by working closely on various issues.

“We are connected through and empowered by the innovative spirit of our incredible people. And together, through the actions we take, we will together shape the 21st century, in this G-20 year and beyond, working alongside my incredibly dedicated colleagues at the US Mission to India," he added.

The US Embassy in India has been without an ambassador since January 2021, the longest stretch in the history of US-India relations where the post has sat vacant. The last US envoy in New Delhi, Kenneth Juster, stepped down after the change of government in America. Garcetti's appointment is, therefore, a significant development for US-India relations.

(With agency inputs)


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With eye on 2024 election, BJP fields around 350 Muslim candidates in UP civic polls

Abhishek Mishra

Apr 26, 2023

By Abhishek Mishra: In Uttar Pradesh, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been experimenting with new strategies in local elections after winning the previous elections. Even this time, the saffron party has adopted a new strategy for local body elections.

For the first time, the BJP has given tickets to such a large number of Muslim candidates, around 350, for the upcoming UP civic body polls. Muslims are contesting as councilor candidates in the Nagar Nigam and presidential candidates in the Nagar Palika among others, under the party's symbol.

In reality, the focus of the ruling party is now on the marginalised Muslim community, as the BJP has set a target of Mission 80 for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh and the support of the community is necessary to achieve it.

Therefore, in the local body elections this time, the BJP gave tickets to a large number of candidates from the minority community.

The BJP has been trying to connect with the marginalised Muslim community for the past several months. The BJP's efforts to connect with the community is on, with initiatives such as the Pasmanda Dialogue Conference, an Urdu version of PM Modi's Mann Ki Baat, an Iftar party during Eid, and dialogues with beneficiaries of government schemes in Muslim-majority areas.

However, this time around, the party is trying to remove the tag of being indifferent to Muslims by fielding around 350 Muslim candidates in the upcoming municipal elections and challenging the Opposition.

According to sources, the saffron party has given tickets to Muslim candidates from Prayagraj, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Jhansi, Agra, Firozabad, and Mathura Municipal Corporations.

Even in Varanasi, which is the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP has given tickets to Muslim candidates in four wards of the nagarnigam. Similarly, in Gorakhpur, the constituency of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, tickets have been given to Muslim candidates for the post of councillors. Candidates from the minority community have also been fielded for the post of councillors in Jhansi, Agra, Firozabad, and Mathura Nagar Nigams.

Commenting on the BJP's move to give tickets to Muslim candidates, UP Minority Welfare Minister Danish Azad Ansari told AajTak that the party had given tickets to nearly 300 Muslims, including marginalised ones, for the first time, fielding them as candidates for councillors and municipal committee seats. "The party believes that to bring Muslims into the mainstream, political representation must be given, and this decision was made beforehand," he added.

Ansari also said that the Samajwadi Party only used Muslims for votes and their politics revolved around a single face, but the BJP has given them a chance not only to be beneficiaries but also to have a share in power, something that has never happened before.

In this municipal election, BSP has fielded 11 Muslim mayoral candidates in 17 municipal corporations. In response, the BJP has also announced around 250 Muslim candidates in the first round of this election. The Samajwadi Party also has its eyes on the Muslim vote bank, and therefore, it is also continuously fielding Muslim candidates.

However, the BJP believes that it has worked to bring the marginalised community forward, which was evident in the results of the party's previous elections in the state.

Even if we talk about municipal corporations and municipal councils, the BJP has fielded Muslim candidates for the post of the chairman of Firozabad municipal council, Amethi municipal council, Rampur in Moradabad division, Amroha and several other places. Through this, they aim to break the SP's and the BSP's grip on the Muslim vote bank.

Akhilesh Yadav's party has called the BJP's experiment a "political gimmick". SP spokesperson AmeeqJamei said the ruling party can do anything for votes.

"The entire country knows that at this time, minorities are the most scared. It is the BJP's job to harass Muslims, kill them in riots, plant riots, and disrupt unity during Ram Navami. Giving tickets to Muslims in UP civic polls is just a ploy, the BJP wants to promote their politics," AmeeqJamei said.

The BJP's tickets to Muslim candidates is being seen as the party's political experiment before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Prior to this, the party had not given tickets to any Muslim candidate in recent Assembly or Lok Sabha elections.

If the party wins in most constituencies with these 350 candidates, then the possibility increases of it fielding Muslim faces in Uttar Pradesh for the first time in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.


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'Patriot Muslims Vote For BJP, Pak Supporters Vote For Cong, JDS: BJP's National GS

April 26, 2023

BJP's National General Secretary CT Ravi said that many patriots in "Muslims" vote for the BJP, but some of them who support Pakistan will vote for Congress and JDS. He also stated that the BJP does not want votes who have a "Pakistani mindset." "There are many patriots among Muslims who vote for BJP. But some of them who support Pakistan and have divisive ideology vote for Congress and Janata Dal. We don't want the votes of those who have a Pakistani mindset," ANI quoted CT Ravi as saying.

The Chikkamagaluru MLA said that the BJP comes out with schemes keeping 'sabkasaath, sabkavikas' in mind. "People who are like Abdul Kalam and ShishunalaSharifa vote for BJP. We bring government schemes keeping 'sabkasaath, sabkavikas' in mind and not on the basis of caste-like former CM Siddaramaiah did earlier. He brought many of the government schemes for Muslims only," he said while giving clarification on former Karnataka minister KS Eshwarappa's statement that the BJP does not need a single vote from the Muslim community.

Talking about Rahul Gandhi's campaigning in Karnataka, CT Ravi stated that Congress will lose wherever Gandhi campaigns. "Rahul Gandhi campaigned in UP and Congress lost there. But wherever PM Modi campaigns, BJP wins and it will continue to win," he said. CT Ravi is in old Mysore on Wednesday to campaign for the BJP candidate R Ashok.

On Tuesday, CT Ravi was in the news after KS Eshwarappa, who has stepped away from electoral politics, hailed him as a good leader and urged voters in Nidughatta near Chikkamagaluru to elect him with a big margin to make him the next CM of the state. Later, he clarified that a decision on picking the CM face is not within his domain. "I do not have the authority to make such a decision and decide on who the party's CM face would be," he said. KS Eshwarappa also said that the Chikkamagaluru MLA has the qualities to become the Chief Minister of the state. "CT Ravi is a good leader. He is doing very good work in Chikkamagaluru. I did not say anything about him being the next chief minister. I have no authority to make such a statement," KS Eshwarappa told ANI.


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Pakistani-American Political Action Committee Lobbies US Lawmakers To ‘Protect Democracy In Pakistan’

April 27, 2023

Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON: More than 90 US lawmakers have signed a letter urging US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to use all diplomatic channels to promote democracy in Pakistan.

The Pakistani-American Political Action Committee, better known as Pak PAC USA, says that it’s reaching out to more than 100 lawmakers to sign the letter.

In the US, the term PAC refers to an organisation that pools campaign contributions from members and donates those funds to campaigns for or against candidates, ballot initiatives, or legislation.

The committee, which promotes Pakistan’s interests in the US Congress, says that it’s only trying to strengthen democracy in Pakistan and does not support or oppose any political party or group.

But a PTI leader, Shahbaz Gill, did address PAC’s annual dinner on Tuesday night, soliciting support for those striving to maintain constitutional democracy in Pakistan.

Mr Gill also visited some US lawmakers with the PAC team and explained to them the current political situation in Pakistan. Some PAC members, including a past president, however, objected to his inclusion in the team.

The letter, which will be sent to Secretary Blinken on April 28, was jointly initiated by a Democrat and a Republican, Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, respectively.

They said they were writing to express concerns about the current situation in Pakistan and to urge Secretary Blinken to “use all diplomatic tools at your disposal to pressure the government of Pakistan towards a greater commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.”

They also demanded a “commitment to investigate any infringement upon freedom of speech and freedom of assembly” in Pakistan.

The lawmakers said that over the past several months, they had become increasingly concerned by the blanket bans on demonstrations, and deaths of several prominent critics of the government.

“We ask for your help in pressuring the government of Pakistan to ensure protestors can assert their demands in a peaceful and non-violent way, free from harassment, intimidation, and arbitrary detention,” they wrote.

As both Democrats and Republicans who care about the bilateral relationship, “we are concerned that violence and increased political tension could spiral into a deteriorating security situation in Pakistan,” they warned.

As supporters of a strong bilateral US -Pakistan relationship, “we urge you to use all diplomatic tools — including calls, visits, and public statements — to demonstrate US interest and prevent the erosion of democratic institutions in Pakistan,” they wrote.

“Supporting democracy in Pakistan is in the national interest of the United States,” they added.

The lawmakers reminded Mr. Blinken that “in this critical moment, US diplomatic leadership is necessary to prevent further erosion of democratic protections.”

At a separate gathering of PTI supporters, Mr. Gill urged politicians in Pakistan to rise above party loyalties to ensure that basic rights of all political workers are respected.

“In Pakistan, every group has its own victim. Victims of other groups are not even recognized,” he said at a PTI reception in Virginia on Monday night. “This is wrong. A victim is a victim. We should rise above party loyalties to support him or her.”

Mr. Gill was arrested last year on charges of sedition for allegedly inciting mutiny, a charge he vehemently denies. PTI claimed that he was sexually assaulted in custody, although he later told a court that he was not. Mr. Gill, however, insists that he was subjected to torture by investigators.

Later at a news briefing, Mr. Gill said that the diplomatic cipher controversy does not define PTI’s policies towards the United States.

“We are not against America or any other country,” he said. “If we return to power, we will seek close friendly relations with all allies, including the United States.”


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Oil tanker hit flattens mosque

April 27, 2023

A mosque in Jund tehsil of Attock District was completely destroyed after an oil tanker hit its wall on Wednesday.

According to the police, the unfortunate accident occurred at Pindi Gheb Road DhokChishtian in Jund tehsil where the out-of-control oil tanker sparked a massive fire after slammed the mosque’s wall.

As a result, the fire caused the massive structural damage to the Jamia Masjid which came down later. Police personnel and rescue teams rushed to the site following the incident and started rescue operation.—INP


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Is US opposing Pakistan-Russia energy deal?

April 27, 2023

Washington: The United States has made it clear that it never tried to keep Russian energy off the market, adding that countries will make their own sovereign decisions.

On Tuesday, a US State Depart­ment spokesperson, Vedant Patel, was asked to convey Washington’s reaction to the energy deal reached between Pakistan and Russia.

Answering the question, the spokesperson said that Washinton had left the door open for such purchases when it placed restrictions on Russian oil after Moscow invaded Ukraine last year.

“One of the reasons that the United States, through the G7, has been a big proponent of the price cap is to ensure that steps are not being taken to keep Russian energy off the market because we understand that there is a demand for supply,” he said.

He, however, added that the US needed to take steps to ensure that the Russian energy markets were not turning out to be a “windfall for Putin’s war machine”.

The statement from the US Department of State came days after Pakistan placed its first order for discounted Russian oil.

Under the deal, Pakistan will buy only crude, not refined fuels. Imports are expected to reach 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) if the first transaction goes through smoothly.

Pakistan’s purchase gives Russia a new outlet, adding to Moscow’s growing sales to India and China, as it redirects oil from Western markets because of the restrictions.


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China to ‘deepen and expand’ military ties with Pakistan

By Abid Hussain

Published On 27 Apr 2023

27 Apr 2023

Islamabad, Pakistan – China says it will work with Pakistan’s military to “further deepen and expand” the two nations’ mutual interests and jointly protect regional peace and stability.

A statement by the Chinese defence ministry on Wednesday said Zhang Youxia, the vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, made the comments during his meeting with Pakistan’s army chief, General Syed Asim Munir, who is on his maiden visit to Beijing.

“Noting that China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners and close friends, Zhang said that no matter how the international situation changes, China always gives Pakistan priority in its neighbourhood diplomacy,” said the statement.

Another statement released by the Pakistan army’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said Munir was given a warm welcome and presented with a guard of honour upon his arrival at the People’s Liberation Army headquarters in Beijing on Wednesday.

“Matters of mutual security interests and military cooperation were discussed. Both military commanders reiterated the need for maintaining peace and stability in the region and enhancing military to military cooperation,” the Pakistani statement said.

The ISPR said Munir will hold further meetings with military officials in China to enhance the “longstanding relations between the two militaries” during his four-day visit.

Muhammad Faisal, an Islamabad-based foreign policy analyst and close observer of Pakistan-China ties, told Al Jazeera Munir’s visit is crucial as it comes amid political, economic and security crises in Pakistan.

“Of late, Pakistan’s dependency on China for economic stability and regional security coordination has grown in the face of financial challenges, renewed threat of terrorism and India-centric challenges,” he said.

Pakistan and China have ongoing border disputes with India, threatening regional security.

Munir’s predecessor General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited China two months before his retirement in November last year. That month also saw Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif making a trip to Beijing and meeting President Xi Jinping.

China has invested $60bn in the ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project and is Pakistan’s key economic and defence partner.

The South Asian country owes nearly $30bn – 23 percent of its total debt – to China.

As Islamabad struggles to resume a much-needed $1.1bn loan programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it has sought help from its allies, mainly China, to roll over some of its existing loans.

Analyst Faisal said while the Pakistani military remains engaged with China on regional security, economy has also taken over as a central agenda in the meetings between the military commanders of the two nations.

“This is a new development and indicates that Chinese military is closely following Pakistan’s economic challenges,” he told Al Jazeera.

As China continues to help Pakistan economically, the last few years saw multiple attacks on Chinese nationals and facilities carried out by the armed groups in Pakistan.

Earlier this month, a Chinese national working at a hydropower plant being constructed by a Chinese company in northern Pakistan was accused of blasphemy – a sensitive issue in Muslim-majority Pakistan.

The Chinese man is currently in a two-week judicial custody which ends on May 2.

Two years ago, 13 people, including nine Chinese nationals working at the same hydropower project, were killed in an attack claimed by the Pakistan Taliban, known by the acronym TTP.

In April last year, three Chinese teachers and their Pakistani driver were killed in a suicide attack at a university in Pakistan’s largest city of Karachi. The attack was claimed by a Baloch rebel group fighting for a separate Balochistan in the southwest.

Chinese authorities have repeatedly demanded protection of their nationals amid escalating violence in the country.

“For Beijing, safety and security of its citizens remains the top concern amid resurgence of violence in Pakistan. On this, assurances of army chief will be taken with seriousness,” said Faisal.


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South Asia


Facebook advertising activity made limited in Bangladesh

April 27, 2023

The official advertisement services of Meta platforms including Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp has been limited in Bangladesh until further notice due to the dollar crisis.

Httpool, Meta's sales partner in Bangladesh, made the announcement in a letter.

The letter from the organization stated that the decision was made due to the dollar crisis and remittance complications.

Due to this decision, the payment of advertising campaigns on different platforms including Facebook and Meta from Bangladesh through Httpool will be limited or not be possible.

Httpool is the Bangladeshi sales representative of Facebook and Meta.

Any ads placed on Facebook can be paid through Httpool in the local currency, not dollars.

Domestic organizations and especially those who want to stay in compliance, will be in trouble with this announcement by Httpool.

Businesses known as f-commerce (Facebook-based companies) will also face temporary problems.

It was not possible to reach the officials of Bangladesh office of Httpool over phone even after several attempts.

They did not respond to the message and did not receive a phone call.

The letter signed by Sunny Nagpal, director of Httpool Bangladesh Limited, said that they have no control over this recent situation. They are working sincerely through digital means to solve the problem quickly.

The letter informed that they will inform everyone once the service is resumed.

Fahim Mashroor, CEO of, one of the companies receiving facebook services through Httpool said: “We have received a letter from Httpool. This will cause various problems for entrepreneurs.”

He thinks that what is done through Httpool is legal. Many people get paid to advertise on facebook or other media in various ways through freelancers. Those paths are illegal. Due to the complexity of the Httpool, entrepreneurs have to choose that illegal way.

He said that companies like Uber, Daraz, Foodpanda etc. will not have any problem. They pay the facebook advertising bill from their parent company. As a result, local companies will face more problems.

It is known that there is a co-branded credit card for the members of Basis, the organization of software and service manufacturers of the country. Usually hosting, software license bills can be paid through that card. But nowhere is it said that facebook or other media bills cannot be paid through this card.

Basis members can continue to work using that card during this time. Besides, there is Islami Bank co-branded prepaid card for the members of e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB). Using this card, e-CAB members can promote their ads on Facebook.

Nasima Akhter Nisha, president of Women and E-Commerce Trust (WE), a platform for women entrepreneurs based on facebook, said: "We have been able to communicate with Httpool. They told us small entrepreneurs will have no problem. They can boost content on Facebook and promote pages as before. That bill can be paid through Httpool. There may be some problems with big agencies or institutions. Matters have been made difficult for them. But this problem is temporary.”

Nasima Akhter Nisha said that she has been assured that the problem will be resolved soon.

There are rumors in the IT sector that facebook owes a nine-month bill from Httpool Bangladesh. It is the opinion of those concerned that facebook may have taken this decision to 'limit advertising' mainly because of the outstanding bills, although there is no official statement in this matter.


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PM Hasina: Bangladesh is going to be regional hub for investment

April 27, 2023

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday said Bangladesh is going to be a regional hub for investment, industrialization and export due to the government's pragmatic policies, calling for more Japanese investment in larger volumes.

"With our pragmatic policies and Vision, Bangladesh is guaranteed to emerge as a regional hub for investment, industrialization and exports to diverse destinations in the region and beyond," she said while opening Bangladesh Investment Summit at the Galaxy Ball Room, The Westin, Tokyo.

Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission(BSEC) and Bangladesh Investment Development Authority(Bida)jointly organized the summit titled "Trade and Investment Opportunities between Bangladesh and Japan.

Eleven Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) between private companies from Bangladesh and Japan that include JCCI and FBCCI were exchanged in presence of Bangladesh Prime minister.

Chairman (senior Secretary) of BSEC Professor Shibli Rubayat-Ul-Islam made a presentation.

Mentioning that returns on investment in Bangladesh have been consistently high, she said that in addition,Bangladesh's business friendly fiscal and non-fiscal policies and incentives, stable democracy, prudent governance and leadership guarantees foreign investment will return good value.

"We can confidently assure you that Bangladesh ensures a solid future for global investors. We thus welcome all investors from world over, and Japanese investors in particular to see the opportunities for investment in Bangladesh," she said.

"However, real investment is still low. We seek more investment from Japan.--- I invite you all to come to Bangladesh and explore the potentials of business and investment opportunities," she said.

The premier said that Bangladeshis a country of 170 million people which is itself a growing market while its location in the heart of a bigger market of nearly three billion consumers, provides a huge attraction for business expansion.

She said that the HSBC Global Research Projection report indicates that Bangladesh is expected to become the 9th largest consumer market globally by 2030 overtaking the UK and Germany.

The premier reminded the local and Japanese investors that as they are aware that Covid-19 pandemic have caused havoc worldwide, and severely impacted trade and investment.

"However, we could tackle the crisis through effective measures and interventions. Our economy has shown strong resilience, maintained growth and is still sustaining the pressure from the volatile world financial situation and supply side constraints. Bangladesh has maintained her economic growth and achieved 7.1% GDP growth rate in Fiscal year 2021-2022. Despite the Ukraine War, we are projecting 6.5% growth rate during the current fiscal year," she said.

Referring to Bangladesh's ever-expanding economy, Sheikh Hasina said that opportunities have increased considerably in different sectors such as ICT, electronics, infrastructure, leather, textile, hospitality and tourism, heavy industry, chemical and fertilizer, and in SMEs.

"Our government is doing everything it can to facilitate smooth, easy and efficient ways of doing business," she said.

The prime minister said they are building 100 Economic Zones, Hi-tech and Software Parks to offer them for foreign investment.

"I want to assure Japanese investors that Bangladesh is ready for you, and that you will have great experience once there. All required agencies and framework to facilitate your business have been set up for convenience," she said.

Sheikh Hasina said they have a high-level joint platform like Public Private Joint Economic Dialogue (PPED) specially for facilitating Japanese investors in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh welcomes the outcome of the 5th PPED meeting held recently on 11 April 2023, she said.

"Since, Bangladesh is going to graduate from LDC status by 2026, we are working with Japan to make possible an Economic Partnership Agreement to expand bilateral trade and investment," she said.

The premier expressed happiness over seeing collaboration between Bangladeshi and Japanese companies.

 "I wish successful partnership to those companies that have made a commitment today for investment in Bangladesh. We expect more investments from Japanese investors especially in the Japanese Economic Zone in Araihazar," she continued.

Noting that the number of Non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs) and people of Bangladeshi origin living in Japan are gradually increasing, she said they provide significant support to Bangladesh's economic activities through their remittances.

"I also urge them to develop more entrepreneurship, engage in business initiatives and joint ventures with their Japanese friends," she said.

The premier said Bangladesh is moving forward to a prosperous future.

"We want you all to be partners in our development and achievements. Do invest in Bangladesh. We are confident that your investment will bring you huge success", she said.

"We seek more investment from Japan," Sheikh Hasina said.

Sheikh Hasina said during her successive terms in the government they have been uplifting the socio-economic condition of my people as per the Awami League government's Vision 2021 and Vision 2041.

"Bangladesh, as a country, is now cited as a "Role model for development" and sets examples in many fields ranging from poverty reduction, empowerment of women, digitalization, food production, and in addressing climate change challenges," she said.

The premier continued that Bangladesh's resilient people are now looking ahead with hope and optimism to emerge from the LDC category to a developing country by 2026.

"We are determined in our journey towards a modern, developed and knowledge-based "Smart Bangladesh" by 2041," she said.

Last year, Bangladesh celebrated the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Japan.

She said Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was an ardent admirer of Japan and its amazing development model rising from the ashes of devastation of World War II.

"We have a similar story. Our Father of the Nation started to build the war ravaged country in 1971. Unfortunately, he could not realize his dreams as he along with almost all members of his family were brutally assassinated in August 1975. Me and my sister, Sheikh Rehana, were abroad and thus survived the massacre," she said.

Since coming to power in 1996, the prime minister said "I have been relentless in realizing the dream of my Father and our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, to build a modern and developed country."

At the outset, she said she recalls with deep reverence the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who led and gave us in 1971 a homeland of our own, Bangladesh.

"Soon on 10 February 1972, Japan gave recognition to our new country. Thereafter, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman visited Japan in October 1973 and laid the foundation of the two countries' lasting friendship," she said.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, PM's Private Industry and Investment Affairs Adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman, State Minister for Foreign Minister MdShahriar Alam, State Minister Information Communication and Technology Zunaid Ahmed Palak and Bida Executive Chairman (Senior Secretary) Lokman Hossain Miah, among others, were present.

Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan, Nishimura Yasutoshi, Chairman of Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Ishiguro Norihiko, Chairman, Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) Ken Kobayashi alongside CEOs and top business leaders from Japan and Bangladesh were present.


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Dhaka, Tokyo welcome negotiations on transferring defense equipment and tech

April 27, 2023

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida have welcomed the initiation of negotiations on agreement concerning the transfer of defense equipment and technology, recognizing the future potential.

They decided to “elevate” the bilateral relationship to a “strategic partnership” as a guiding principle to lead the two countries' journey into the next 50 years and beyond.

Both leaders shared the determination to enhance cooperation, specifically in three major areas — cooperation for peace and stability in the region and beyond, deepening economic cooperation for mutual benefits and regional prosperity, and expansion of cultural cooperation and people to people exchanges.

At the invitation of the Japanese prime minister, Sheikh Hasina is currently on an official visit and had a summit meeting on April 26.

Defense Cooperation

The two prime ministers welcomed recent frequent port calls in Chittagong by vessels of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the high-level mutual visits of the Japan Self-Defense Forces and Bangladesh Armed Forces.

In light of the memorandum of cooperation and exchanges formulated between the defense authorities from the two sides, they concurred to continue to promote security cooperation such as mutual visits by vessels and aircraft, unit-to-unit exchange, training programs and goodwill exercises.

In addition, both PMs have decided to consider opening a defense wing in Tokyo and a national security wing in Dhaka in their respective embassies in the near future.

Furthermore, they agreed to enhance dialogue among the respective diplomatic and defense authorities in order to identify possible ways to strengthen the security cooperation.

Prime Minister Kishida explained Japan's efforts for fundamentally reinforcing its defense capabilities and strengthening diplomatic efforts, as illustrated in the new National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, and DefenseBuildup Program.

Prime Minister Hasina shared Bangladesh's plan and initiative for further modernizing its armed forces under the Forces Goal 2030.

Both prime ministers acknowledged the efforts by both countries to contribute to their respective regional security.

Prime Minister Hasina acknowledged the establishment of the Official Security Assistance by Japan, a new cooperation framework for the benefit of armed forces and other related organizations of like-minded countries for the purpose of deepening security cooperation, and looked forward to future cooperation under this framework.

The two prime ministers confirmed that, guided by the traditional and time-tested friendship since the independence of Bangladesh, the two countries have achieved significant progress in bilateral relations based on the “Comprehensive Partnership” established in 2014.

They noted that the two countries celebrated the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2022, as a manifestation of commitment and determination to contribute to enhancing the bilateral relationship based on common values and mutual interests.

Free and Open Indo-Pacific

Guided by the fundamental values and principles shared by the two countries, the two PMs reaffirmed their commitment to realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific based on the rule of law, where the rights, freedoms and sovereignty of all countries, regardless of size or power, are protected by international law, rules and norms.

In particular, they affirmed that maritime order based on common values such as freedom of navigation is a cornerstone for stability and prosperity of the international community and that the use of the sea as global commons will contribute to the development of the blue economy.

Prime Minister Kishida explained that Japan, as the G7 Presidency, would like to demonstrate the G7's determination to uphold the free and open international order based on the rule of law and to enhance relations with partners in the international community beyond the G7.

Prime Minister Hasina felicitated Japan on its G7 presidency.

Prime Minister Kishida also outlined a newly released plan for a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP)”, which will strengthen Japan's efforts to further promote the FOIP vision, with the four pillars of cooperation: "Principles for Peace and Rules for Prosperity," "Addressing Challenges in an Indo-Pacific Way," "Multi-layered Connectivity," and "Extending Efforts for Security and Safe Use of the Sea to the Air”.

Prime Minister Hasina appreciated Japan's sustained efforts to contribute to securing regional and international peace, stability, and prosperity.

She reiterated Bangladesh's principled position on a free, open, inclusive, peaceful and secure Indo-Pacific based on international law and shared prosperity for all.

Regional Connectivity

Recognizing the importance of Bangladesh, which holds great economic potential and can be a bridge between huge markets, namely South Asia and Southeast Asia, the two prime ministers recognised that developing quality infrastructure will enhance regional connectivity and contribute to the development of Bangladesh and the region.

In this context, they stressed the importance of transparent and fair development finance to achieve sustainable development and highlighted the importance of adhering to international rules and standards, such as debt sustainability and transparency.

They also recognized the importance of economic security including strengthening the resilience of the supply chain, and the rules-based international economic order to counter challenges such as economic coercion.


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Islamic Emirate Reacts to Vienna Meeting


A three-day meeting among some Afghan politicians and former government’s officials was held in Vienna.

“It will not plunge into war and chaos again and fragment. Those who are gathered in Vienna, those are the people who have been tested once in Afghanistan and their actions are also clear for the people,” said Zabiullah Mujahid, the slamic Emirate’s spokesman.

At least 30 people including political, media and civil society figures as well as former government officials participated in the meeting.

The meeting was hosted by the Austrian Institute for International Affairs about the situation of Afghanistan.

“Some people considered this meeting unique and inclusive due to the presence of some influential figures,” said NoorullahRaghi, a former diplomat.

Ahmad Massoud; RanginDadfarSpanta, the former minister of foreign affairs;

Salahuddin Rabbani, former foreign minister; Muhammad Mohaqiq, head of the People's Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan; former member of the parliament Fawzia Koofi and former Minister of Justice, Fazal Ahmad Manavi were invited to the meeting.


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UN agency: Afghanistan needs $4.62 billion in aid for 2023


Wed, April 26, 2023

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Afghanistan needs $4.62 billion in humanitarian aid from the international community this year for nearly 24 million people in need, the U.N.'s humanitarian affairs agency said.

Afghanistan is facing its third consecutive year of drought, its second year of severe economic hardship and the continued consequences of decades of war and natural disasters, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Tuesday on Twitter.

“With Afghanistan, humanitarian aid remains the last lifeline for much of the population," the agency said.

Mohammad Shukran, 32, a Kabul resident and government employee, said life in Afghanistan is difficult: “Everyone is just trying to survive,” he said.

The U.N. food agency said earlier this month it urgently needs $800 million for the next six months to help Afghanistan, which is at the highest risk of famine in a quarter of a century.

Aid agencies have been providing food, education and health care support to Afghans in the wake of the Taliban takeover of August 2021 and the economic collapse that followed it. But distribution has been severely impacted by a Taliban edict last December banning women from working at national and international nongovernmental groups.

The U.N. was not part of this ban but earlier this month it said the Taliban-led government has stopped Afghan women from working at its agencies in the country. Authorities have yet to comment on the restriction.

Unemployment has increased like never before, said Shah Mir, 45, a father of four children. He works at a non-governmental organization in the health sector in eastern Nangarhar province.

“We don’t know when our office will be closed by the Taliban and we will also lose our jobs,” he said.

Despite initial promises of a more moderate rule than during their previous stint in power in the 1990s, the Taliban have imposed harsh measures since taking over as U.S. and NATO forces pulled out of Afghanistan after two decades of war.


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Japan Donates $18 Million for Life-Saving Vaccines in Afghanistan


Fidel Rahmati

April 27, 2023

According to a tweet from the embassy on Wednesday, April 26th, the donations were made through UNICEF in February of this year. This generous donation aims to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable women and children in Afghanistan.

In March, the Japanese government donated $21 million for life-saving vaccines for mothers and children and water and sanitation in schools.

The funding would help UNICEF to provide clean water for 30,000 people in four provinces and vaccines for 18.3 million mothers and children across the country.

Japan’s donation came amid the devastating humanitarian crisis in the country.

Since the Taliban’s return to power in August 2021, the Japanese government has generously contributed to enhancing the living conditions of women and children, historically disadvantaged in society.

As a friendly partner, Japan has always stood with the people of Afghanistan and has sponsored programs in education, nutrition, and health over the past two decades.


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Arab World


Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Issues Royal Order Promoting 40 Judges at Board of Grievances

26 Apr, 2023

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has issued a Royal Order promoting 40 judges at the Board of Grievances, according to the President of the Board of Grievances and President of the Administrative Judiciary Council Dr Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Yousef.

Al-Yousef said that this Royal Order stresses the keenness of the wise leadership to provide the administrative and judicial sector with the judicial competencies necessary to develop its performance and work progress to achieve the excellence envisioned by the wise leadership.


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UK envoy lauds Saudi Arabia for Sudan evacuation


April 27, 2023

RIYADH: Britain’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday commended the Kingdom on its swift action to not only evacuate Saudi nationals but also foreign citizens from Sudan.

“We commend the Saudis for the speed with which they evacuated many of their own citizens, but also generously made provision for some foreign nationals and helping them get from Port Sudan to Jeddah,” Neil Crompton told Arab News.

“Saudis are very hospitable to people who come to their country, and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts.”

On Sunday, the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Ministry of Defence announced a military operation to evacuate British Embassy staff from Khartoum due to escalating violence and threats against foreign diplomats and embassy properties.

Saudi Arabia on Saturday announced the start of arrangements for the evacuation of its citizens and nationals from friendly countries, including the UK, from Sudan.

“Our official evacuation operation started from WadiSeidna and as of today … four flights left with over 300 British citizens. Some of those flights are continuing, and the number is going up all the time,” Crompton said, adding that many more British citizens are expected to be evacuated in the coming days.

“We’re also aware of a number of British citizens who’ve left overland through different routes, including through the Saudi convoy last week, for which we’re really grateful.”

Crompton said the British Embassy is “working very closely” on the ground with Saudi authorities in assisting evacuees upon their arrival in Jeddah Islamic Port.

The British Embassy is working on processing civilians upon their arrival at the port and providing them with accommodation.

“And then we’re working with the British nationals themselves, particularly those who need documentation to ensure that they can travel on as quickly as possible,” Crompton said, adding that evacuees will remain in the city of Jeddah until their paperwork and flights are arranged.

Once they have the proper documentation, they will be able to travel and join their families in the UK as soon as possible, he said, adding that he is unaware of any cases of serious illness among the evacuees.

“I think they’ve all been through a very difficult time,” Crompton said. “Many of them have been through a stressful journey … We know that the Saudi authorities have offered access to medical treatment if required.”

The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement on Wednesday evening that the number of evacuees has reached 2,351, comprising 119 Saudis and 2,232 individuals from 67 nationalities.

“We’d like to thank the Saudis for all they’ve done,” Crompton said. “Saudi has a very important relationship with Sudan and a friendly relationship, and obviously has lots of contacts and influence. We worked closely with Saudi Arabia over many years on Sudan policy.”


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Another 200 people arrive in Jeddah from Sudan on Wednesday in latest Saudi evacuation operation

April 26, 2023

JEDDAH: Another 200-plus people, including five Saudi citizens, have arrived in Jeddah after being evacuated from Sudan on the ship HMS Abha, the Kingdom’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

It came as the Saudi government continued its relentless efforts to get its own citizens, as well as those of other countries, clear of the violent conflict in Sudan.

In addition to the five Saudis, 198 people from other countries, including Russia, the UK, China, the US, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia and Pakistan, were on board the ship that docked at King Faisal Naval Base.

The total number of people evacuated from Sudan by Saudi Arabia now stands at 2,351: 119 Saudi citizens and 2,232 from 67 other countries.

They were among several groups of evacuees that have arrived in Saudi Arabia by air and sea in the past few days, beginning on Saturday with 150 people, including foreign diplomats and other officials, on boats that docked in Jeddah.

At about 11:30 p.m. on Monday, another Saudi ship arrived at the city’s port from Sudan with 10 Saudi nationals and 189 foreigners on board. It was followed at midnight on the same night by a vessel carrying 104 Libyans, 45 Lebanese, 15 Syrians, four Sudanese, three Iraqis, two Turks and a Swedish national. Other evacuees included 10 Saudi citizens, five Brits, two citizens of each of Qatar, the US and Italy, three from the Netherlands and one from Tanzania.

Early on Wednesday, the Saudi-flagged ship Amana arrived at King Faisal Naval Base from Port Sudan carrying 1,687 people, representing 58 nationalities. They included 46 Americans, 40 Britons, 11 Germans, four French, 13 Saudis, 560 Indonesians, 239 Yemenis, 198 Sudanese and 26 Turkish citizens. As they disembarked they were welcomed by base officials and diplomats from various countries.

Meanwhile, the French frigate Lorraine also arrived at Jeddah Islamic Port on Wednesday carrying French citizens, UN staff and employees of nongovernmental organizations, and their families.

The French consul general in Jeddah, Catherine Corm-Kammoun, confirmed the arrival of the French Navy ship and said the passengers had disembarked in full cooperation and coordination with Saudi authorities.

The General Directorate of Passports announced it had completed official procedures for the arrival of all the Saudi citizens and foreign nationals evacuated from Sudan so far. The procedures for those who had arrived with no entry visas or even, in some cases, passports were completed in cooperation with the embassies of their respective countries, it added.


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France thanks Saudi Arabia after Sudan evacuation

April 26, 2023

RIYADH: France thanked Saudi Arabia on Wednesday after French Navy frigate Lorraine evacuated UN staff from Sudan to the Kingdom.

French Ambassador to the Kingdom LudovicPouille hailed the operation as “a stunning success, highlighting the excellent cooperation between France, Saudi Arabia and the UN in this evacuation.”

He expressed his gratitude to the Kingdom for its crucial role in the operation and hosting the evacuees with “such generosity in the tradition of the Kingdom.” He also thanked Lorraine crew members.

The UN had requested assistance from the French government as escalating security concerns in Sudan put the safety of the organization’s personnel at risk.

The organization expressed its appreciation for the swift and effective response of the French government in organizing the evacuation and ensuring the safety of its staff.

Lorraine departed from Port Sudan on Tuesday carrying UN staff and humanitarian workers. Some 398 passengers from 64 countries including six French nationals were on board. The ship sailed from Port Sudan across the Red Sea.

It arrived in Jeddah Islamic Port on Wednesday at 11:00 a.m.

The evacuees disembarked and were provided with the necessary assistance and support from Saudi authorities. They were warmly greeted and offered medical assistance, food and shelter on arrival.

French Consul General in Jeddah Catherine Corm-Kammoun and a consular and embassy team assisted French nationals and coordinated the vessel’s arrival.


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Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance hold meeting in Riyadh

April 26, 2023

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance held a meeting at the ministry’s headquarters in Riyadh on Wednesday.

It was attended by Minister Sheikh Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz Al-Asheikh, the ministry’s undersecretaries, directors of administrations, department chiefs and employees.

They exchanged Eid Al-Fitr greetings and prayed for the Kingdom’s development and progress under the nation’s leadership.

Last week, the ministry tweeted about the extent and successes of its Ramadan programs that benefited more than 35 million people across the world. Some of the programs provided iftar to people in 40 countries, distributed dates in 60 countries, sent 40 imams to 14 countries, and provided 1 million Qur’ans in 22 countries.


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War crimes suspect free from prison in chaos of Sudan conflict

April 26, 2023

By Chantal Da Silva

A former high-ranking Sudanese official wanted on war crimes charges says he has been freed from prison as the conflict between warring generals fuels chaos and uncertainty over the whereabouts of the country's deposed dictator.

Ahmed Haroun and other members of ex-strongman Omar al-Bashir's government were being held at Kober prison in the country's capital, Khartoum. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Haroun, who was head of the ruling National Congress Party, said that he and other former officials under al-Bashir had left the facility and would take responsibility for their own protection, in a statement aired on Sudan’s Tayba TV on Tuesday, according to Reuters. Haroun said they would be willing to appear in front of the judiciary whenever it is functioning.

A cease-fire between the two armed groups battling for control of Africa's third-largest country appeared to be largely holding Wednesday. The fighting has seen millions of people caught in the crossfire and sent many, including Americans, racing to flee as it threatens to spiral into a civil war.

The Sudanese military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces together removed al-Bashir from power during mass protests in 2019, only to later stage a coup that derailed the country's transition to democracy.

As speculation swirled that the country's former leader may have been among those free from the prison, the armed forces said they had him in custody.

The military said in a statement Wednesday morning that al-Bashir and other former officials had been detained at a military-run medical facility due to their health conditions "before the rebellion broke out" at Kober prison.

Haroun was not among those named as being in custody.

The army said it was sharing the whereabouts of al-Bashir and other former officials "as a deterrent to the massive disinformation that some rebel media microphones have been promoting to distract people."

Citing two sources at the hospital, Reuters reported that al-Bashir had been moved from Kober prison to a military hospital before heavy fighting broke out there on April 15.

The army, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, had accused the RSF of donning military uniforms and attacking the prison, according to The Associated Press, saying they released inmates and looted the facility. The RSF, led by Gen. Mohammed HamdanDagalo, denied the allegations and claimed that the military “forcibly evacuated” the facility as part of a plan to restore al-Bashir to power, the news agency reported.

NBC News has not verified the claims of either side.

Haroun was one of dozens of Sudanese officials arrested in 2019 after al-Bashir, who ruled Sudan for three decades, was ousted in a military coup amid a popular uprising.

The resource-rich yet impoverished nation then saw Burhan, the country’s top commander and de facto ruler, and his former deputy, Dagalo, team up to orchestrate the coup that overthrew the government in October 2021.

Their alliance has since fallen apart over how to make the transition to civilian rule, with the tensions erupting into armed conflict earlier this month.

More than 450 people have been killed in the fighting since, according to the World Health Organization, including at least two Americans.

The United States military evacuated embassy personnel over the weekend, while Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday that the U.S. was weighing whether to resume diplomatic presence in Sudan to assist American nationals racing to escape the fighting. He said the State Department was in touch with private U.S. citizens to provide assistance.

The U.S. and a stream of foreign powers have launched dramatic rescue efforts involving military special forces, airlifts and convoys driving past fighters from both sides of the clash — which many fear will escalate into a civil war once the partial lull in combat is over.


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Americans rush to escape before Sudan plunges into civil war

April 25, 2023

A travel writer from Massachusetts is one of the thousands of Americans trapped in the fighting in Sudan as the conflict between two rival generals threatens to explode into all-out civil war.

“There were power cuts, no running water, no access to cash. So I left with only $20,” Lakshmi Parthasarathy, 32, told NBC News on Tuesday after hitchhiking south.

With roughly 16,000 American citizens in the country before the violence broke out almost two weeks ago, the race to evacuate diplomats in recent days has left behind many to fend for themselves in the vast resource-rich African country.

Civilians described frenzied efforts to escape sporadic fighting in the capital, Khartoum, despite a new three-day truce.

“The city was complete mayhem when I left,” Parthasarathy, who is from New Bedford, said via video message from a school that’s been turned into a little refugee camp near Khartoum. Rides to the evacuation ports are going for thousands of dollars, she said.

She described seeing tanks as vehicles carrying civilians, including Sudanese desperately seeking to flee to neighboring countries via land or sea, attempted the dangerous journey out of the capital.

“There were women, children, families who were escaping villages along the way. I thought at the time that only Khartoum had seen the most destruction, but we saw villages that had clearly been devastated by the war,” Parthasarathy said.

As civilians sought ways to escape, fearing that the rival camps will escalate their struggle for power once evacuations are complete, the World Health Organization issued a sobering warning.

There was a “high risk of biological hazard” after one side in the fighting seized a laboratory, the agency's representative in Sudan said Tuesday, according to Reuters.

The two armed groups have been locked in a battle for control of Sudan, using artillery, airstrikes and bullets in a conflict that has left millions of people caught in the crossfire.

Over 420 people have been killed in the violence, including at least two Americans, since the fighting erupted this month, according to the World Health Organization.

Dr. Bushra IbnaufSulieman was killed in front of his home Tuesday, according to the Sudanese American Medical Association. Sulieman was one of the association's founders and taught internal medicine at the University of Khartoum.

The U.S. State Department said in a statement that it was in touch with the family but would not comment further. It has not identified the American who died in Sudan on April 19.

A stream of foreign powers continued with rescues, often involving military special forces, airlifts and convoys driving past fighters from both sides.

“We must all do everything within our power to pull Sudan back from the edge of the abyss,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday.

The U.S. military evacuated embassy personnel over the weekend, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday that the U.S. was considering resuming a diplomatic presence in the country to assist American citizens, many of whom are dual nationals. He said the State Department was in touch with private U.S. citizens to help them find routes to safety.

The U.S. was also assisting its citizens out of Port Sudan, the embassy in Khartoum said Tuesday on Twitter, adding that “border crossings into neighboring countries are possible but routes can be unpredictable or dangerous.”

Blinken said some convoys had been robbed and looted.

The Sudanese military, commanded by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, and the rival Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary group led by Gen. Mohammed HamdanDagalo, said Tuesday they would observe a cease-fire brokered by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

But with reports and accusations that the truce was at best being partially observed, those able to flee were scrambling to get to safety.

Thamir Saad Mohamed said he had been sending constant emails to the U.S. Embassy requesting help evacuating his nephews Sajid and Ahmed, aged 2 and 5, who are U.S. citizens.

“I don’t know what will happen in Sudan,” said Mohamed, who’s a Saudi national, adding that he was afraid of losing his family. His sister, Aya Mohamed, a U.S. citizen, had left the two children with her sister the day before the clashes erupted, he said.

So far, the family has received only an automated response, he said.

When approached for comment on their case, the State Department said, “The U.S. Department of State and our embassies and consulates abroad have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens abroad,” advising American citizens to provide their contact information in a form on the embassy website.

Denise Bowers, a school teacher and U.S. citizen who lives in Sudan’s capital, said she had been waking up to rattling windows from nearby blasts for days. Faced with shortages of water, food and power, she was now attempting to the cross the border and reach an airport with her husband.

"This has been so surreal. We are out of Khartoum, a 23-hour journey on an overcrowded bus through horrible and some scary situations," Bowers said in messages sent via spotty internet.

Sudan's main international airport has been heavily damaged and is closed for commercial operations, forcing many to seek alternative routes out.

While the journey to these airfields and land borders was possible, the roads pass through some of the most hotly contested parts of the country. Khartoum lies about 520 miles from Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

“There is no way to go outside of Khartoum," said Musa Osman El Sayeed, describing his trepidation about making the perilous journey with his four children and wife. "You can be shot, everything can happen to you in the street," he said.

“All the streets are captured by the militias,” he said, adding he was happy foreigners could leave Sudan safely to be with their families.

El Sayeed, 55, said neighbors had described seeing bodies lying in the streets for days. An auditor in the capital before the fighting shut down daily life, he said he would try to make it out as soon as he felt it was safe.

"If this war continues for two or three months more, most of the Sudanese people are going to die from poverty because the situation is very, very difficult," he added.


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Reopened Imam Haron inquest provides dignified but inadequate version of delayed apartheid justice

 Professor Muhammad Haron takes a moment during court proceedings on 24 April 2023. Advocate Howard Varney recounted the professor's testimony on his memories of life before his father Imam Abdullah Haron was killed. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

By Rebecca Davis

27 Apr 2023

Justice delayed may not have to mean justice entirely denied – as has been made evident by the meaningful proceedings of the inquest into Imam Abdullah Haron’s death in apartheid detention more than 50 years ago.

There has been no accused person in the dock. At one point, a candle was lit in the courtroom to commemorate a recently deceased witness in the matter. During closing arguments given by advocate Howard Varney, concluding with the reading of a poem, the lawyer’s voice audibly cracked with emotion.

The usual categories of “defence” and “prosecution” have had no real meaning here. Standing to make submissions on behalf of the State, advocate LifaMatyobeni told the judge: “We sing from the same hymn book.”

These were not adversarial legal proceedings. Indeed, at times they had the feel more of a lengthy memorial. This was the final act of the judicial inquest into the death of cleric and activist Imam Abdullah Haron, more than 53 years after his murder by apartheid police.

Read more in Daily Maverick: This week – inquest into death of anti-apartheid activist Imam Haron, Freedom Day and protest outside UAE Embassy

Haron’s inquest, together with those looking into other apartheid-era murders in recent years, raises the question: What form could justice possibly take, when it arrives half a century late?

Post-apartheid state in odd position

These inquests, aimed at finally delivering truth and closure, place the post-apartheid state in a strange position. At the Imam Haron proceedings, that was exemplified by the person of Matyobeni: a young, black prosecutor expected to play the role of representing the South African state.

But which state? The state for which Matyobeni works as a National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) advocate is a world apart from the state which played host to the original inquest into Haron’s death in detention in 1970.

At the re-opened inquest, which began its hearings in November 2022, observers were reminded of the nature of that apartheid state – under which magistrates did not require a law degree, and under which magistrates, pathologists, doctors and policemen were often acting in concert under the diktat of apartheid’s feared Security Branch.

In those circumstances, the 1970 inquest into Haron’s murder would never be anything other than a grotesque sham.

By re-opening these cases, the NPA is attempting to remedy a decades-old injustice – but an injustice the current dispensation had no responsibility for.

Advocate Howard Varney during the Imam Haron death inquest on 24 April 2023. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

Finally back for re-evaluation

This has produced some interesting issues. It has taken the post-apartheid state so long to bring these matters back to the courtroom for re-evaluation that many of the apartheid operatives directly responsible for these murders are long dead. In the case of Haron, the cleric’s chief torturer, notorious Spyker van Wyk, died in 1990.

But in other cases, some are alive – and have protested that they cannot afford legal representation. By law they must then be given access to Legal Aid assistance, however much it may stick in the craw that alleged apartheid murderers should receive support financed by the democratic state these men devoted their professional lives to trying to thwart.

There is even an argument that perhaps they should be entitled to legal representation funded by the South African Police Service, given that these men consistently plead that their actions took place in the line of duty, representing an earlier incarnation of the national police force.

Read more in Daily Maverick: A man of principle: The life and death of Imam Haron

Siblings FatiemaHaron-Masoet and Professor Muhammad Haron before the start of the inquest about their father Imam Abdullah Haron’s death at Cape Town High Court. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

Profound punishment and forgiveness questions

In the case of the murder of Imam Haron, one of the policemen responsible for the imam’s guarding in detention is still alive: one Johannes Burger, now aged 78.

One can imagine that it must have been a shock to the system for Burger to be called out of retirement to account for his actions around Haron’s murder 53 years later.

In other post-conflict settings, the question of what purpose is served by convicting and incarcerating elderly people responsible for decades-old state-sanctioned atrocities has been seriously grappled with.

In what will probably end up being the final Nazi war crimes trial, concluding in December 2022, 97-year old IrmgardFurchner was convicted of being an accessory to 10,505 murders in her capacity as a secretary to a Polish SS commander during the Holocaust.

Furchner was spared jail, receiving a two-year suspended sentence. But six months earlier, a 101-year old man identified only as Josef S was sentenced to five years in prison by a court in north-eastern Germany after being convicted for serving as a guard at a Nazi concentration camp during World War 2.

South Africa’s apartheid hitmen, assassins, torturers and brutes have largely escaped justice altogether. But even in cases where the opportunity has arisen to bring charges, the current NPA has not exhibited much appetite.

Advocate Varney pointed this out in his closing arguments this week, saying: “In relation to the other reopened inquests dealing with apartheid-era cases, the NPA has not pursued criminal charges against individuals considerably more culpable than Burger. These involved actual Security Branch interrogators who lied under oath about their own involvement in torture.”

It was hard to summon up much pity for Burger, who claimed under oath in November last year that not only was he unaware of Imam Haron being tortured in detention under his watch, but that he also had no clue as to the feared reputation of the Apartheid Security Branch. And no inkling that abuse or torture of political prisoners ever happened under apartheid.

Clearly, this stretches credulity – raising the very real possibility that Burger, even at his relatively advanced age, could be prosecuted for perjury.

But Varney told Judge Thulare that the family of Imam Haron did not wish to see Burger prosecuted.

Burger was one of the youngest and lowest-ranking officers at Maitland police station in 1969 at the time of the imam’s death. Varney said: “There is a certain unfairness in holding a person of such stature as the only person criminally liable in such circumstances.”

Moreover, the family of Haron felt that prosecuting Burger would not bring them any peace; that during the just-passed month of Ramadan, forgiveness should be preached and practised; and that Burger “has his own conscience to live with in his advanced age”.

Odette Geldenhuys from Webber Wentzel carries life-size cardboard models on which Imam Haron’s injuries were represented in court. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

Posthumous shaming still sought

The major remedy available to the family of Haron all these years later, then, is a kind of posthumous shaming for those complicit in the cleric’s death and its cover-up.

This includes two district surgeons, Doctors Viviers and Gosling, and the chief state pathologist of Cape Town, Dr Schwar. The suggestion from the family’s legal team is that these men be posthumously struck from the roll of medical professionals.

In the case of the magistrate who presided over the inadequate 1970 inquest, Magistrate Kuhn, and the state prosecutor JS van Graan, the family has asked that they too be posthumously removed from the roll of legal practitioners.

They have also asked that the names of the Security Branch officers and policemen responsible for the “acts and omissions leading directly to the death of Imam Haron” be inscribed in the historical record as (in some cases first names unknown):

There were few dry eyes in the courtroom this week, when advocate Varney gave his concluding statements, which are worth reproducing here:

Haron withstood the inhumanity visited upon him by the thugs in the Security Branch with civility and dignity. From what we have learned of his character, he probably did so with a twinkle in his eye. This would have enraged the insecure brutes interrogating him.

Haron never broke under interrogation. He betrayed no comrade. He was utterly dependable. He endured his final journey, not for himself, but for his comrades, and for us.

The Security Branch did crush Haron, the physical man. But they never crushed his spirit. In his last days he was a shadow of his physical self that his loved ones remembered so well. However, his enduring dignity and humanity remained intact till the very end. DM

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