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Bury the Dispute: Saffron Parties Must Reach Out To Muslims In The Aftermath Of Ayodhya Verdict

New Age Islam News Bureau

20 Nov 2019

''We had said on November 9 when the verdict was announced that we will accept the court decision. We are not going with AIMPLB on this issue,'' Faruqi, chairman of the Sunni Waqf Board said. (Photo : Twitter | @ZufarFaruqi)


Bury the Dispute: Saffron Parties Must Reach Out To Muslims In The Aftermath Of Ayodhya Verdict  

Sunni Board Distances Itself from AIMPLB on Filing Review Petition of SC's Ayodhya Verdict

Child Marriages Allow Violence to Continue, Stop Them, Says NGO

Don’t Come, Rohingya in Malaysia Warn Those Fleeing Bangladesh

'This Is My Sacrifice': Thousands Maimed In Iraq Protests

Archbishop Justin Welby Urges Parties to Make Reassuring Jews and Muslims Who Are 'Living In Fear' an 'Absolute Priority' During the General Election

Afghanistan's President Claims Victory over Islamic State

In Reversal, US Sides With Israel On Settlements

Amnesty Says Over 106 Dead In Protests, Which Iran Disputes

Malawi: Muslim Association of Malawi Jostles Govt to Intervene On Hijab Gear

Dharna Called Off As Goal Achieved, Claims Maulana Fazlur Rehman

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau




Uttarakhand College Organises Yoga Camp Only For Muslims

RSS leader, Shia cleric and others to be honoured at Urdu varsity convocation

When students fought for a Muslim professor of Vedas

Have studied Sanskrit all my life, but now I am a Muslim: BHU's Firoze Khan

Paresh Rawal's "Mohammed Rafi Logic" In Support For Muslim Professor Firoze Khan At BHU

Stone-pelting in J&K down since Aug 5, says govt, data differs

BHU students on protest for 2 weeks over Muslim professor for Sanskrit dept

BJP leader escorted out by security for heckling Suri during speech on occupied Kashmir

Ex Indian army official faces backlash for remarks advocating rape, death in Kashmir

Islamic extremists backing Kerala Maoists: CPM leader



Southeast Asia

Caned For Gay Sex: Malaysian Men’s Punishment Condemned By Rights Group

Mahathir slams US support for Israel’s occupied territory settlements

Multaqa a platform to discuss problems and future of Muslims - Dr Mahathir

Kuala Lumpur to host International Conference on Mosque Architecture



Arab World

Twenty Dead as Shots Fired from Friday Imam’s Helicopter

UAE's largest Shariah-compliant bank is about to get bigger: Dubai Islamic board to meet Makkah deputy governor inspects Grand Mosque project

Islamic Finance offers potential for development of the private sector through innovative investments and instruments




Dozens turn out to discuss proposal for new Muslim prayer centre

Muslim MMA fighter tragically dies from injury after losing bout

Anti-Islam Facebook video will put man behind bars, court hears

Campaigners protest against plans to convert pub into Islamic community centre

Police launch hate crime investigation after arson attack on Skegness mosque site

Islamists have killed 167,096 people since 1979 – most of them were Muslims



South Asia

Western Hostages Freed By Afghan Taliban In Swap For Top Commanders: Report

Helicopter crash kills 2 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan

NATO leaders to discuss Afghanistan mission in London Summit: Stoltenberg

Islamic State’s ‘backbone was broken’ in Afghanistan as hundreds surrender

A month after deadly clashes, Islamist outfit plans another rally in Bhola



North America

With the UN Security Council in Paralysis, Are there New Hopes for Rohingya Muslims?

Trump’s Syria move and withdrawal of US Army allowed Islamic State to regroup: Report

Trump orders additional troop deployment in Middle East

'Radical Islamist' Syrian refugee's alleged attack plan foiled in Germany after US tipped the information

Chicago man accused of helping preserve Islamic State propaganda on social media

Russia repatriates 32 children of Islamic State members from Iraq

US Sanctions Islamic State Financial, Recruitment Networks

US Charges Citizen With Aiding Islamic State Online Recruitment - Justice Dept.




Thugs Paid $60 for Each Arson Attack

Tehran Condemns Washington’s Hypocritical Support for Rioters

Israel fails to drive wedge between Hamas, Islamic Jihad

Palestinian Islamic Jihad provokes Israel and finds itself a lonely combatant

IRGC Commander: Sustainable Security Prevails over Fars Province

Several Policemen Wounded by Rioters in Tehran Province

Governor-General: Heavy Damage Inflicted by Riots in Kermanshah Province

Rouhani Reiterates Enhancement of Iran-Pakistan Economic Interactions

Zarif, Pakistani Commander Discuss Case of Abducted Iranian Border Guards

Economic Sanctions Are Testing The Resilience Of Iran’s Islamic System

The trouble with Turkey’s global mosque-building project

Libyan Islamic Fighting Group removed from terrorist list of the UK




Mali army says 24 soldiers, 17 militants killed in attack on northern patrol

Muslim Fulani herdsmen kill two Christians in Nigeria

Kenya: Muslims Decry Lack of Prayer Rooms at SGR Stations




Bajwa, Rouhani agree to boost security ties

Don’t use judicial forum to discuss politics, Isa’s counsel told

PML-Q in damage control mode after Pervaiz’s assertions

Future generations need justice, equality, peace, says Bilawal on Children’s Day

Rahbar Committee calls off countrywide sit-in protests

Govt says Shehbaz can be held in contempt of court if Nawaz doesn't return



Bury The Dispute: Saffron Parties Must Reach Out To Muslims In The Aftermath Of Ayodhya Verdict  

November 20, 2019

Dashing hopes that the long running Ramjanmbhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute had achieved closure after the Supreme Court’s November 9 verdict, three more Muslim litigants have said they would file review petitions against the ruling. With this a total of seven litigants – including those under the aegis of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind – have declared their intention to go for review. The apex court had ordered the Centre to set up a trust to build a Ram temple on the 2.77-acre disputed land where the demolished Babri Masjid once stood. Meanwhile, it had allotted five acres of land for the construction of a mosque at a prominent place in Ayodhya.   

Given the complexity of the case, the Supreme Court tried hard to be fair to all sides. However, some Muslim litigants are still not fully satisfied with the verdict. After all, the Babri Masjid stood at the disputed site in living memory and was violently brought down by kar sevaks backed by saffron parties – which the apex court emphatically recognised as a crime. Yet, the verdict essentially left the saffron parties with what they wanted.  

It is time, therefore, for RSS and BJP to do their bit to arrive at closure – they must be magnanimous and reach out to the Muslim side. This would also be in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s slogan of ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas’. The Centre as well as UP government should be proactive, giving Muslims several options on the five acres of land to build a mosque, consulting them on what help they might need for this. They could even help fund construction of the mosque, paving the way for communal harmony across the country and immeasurably strengthening India. Ayodhya now calls for a political resolution, not judicial review.

This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.



Sunni Board Distances Itself from AIMPLB on Filing Review Petition of SC's Ayodhya Verdict

Nov 20, 2019

New Delhi: The Sunni Waqf Board has made it clear that it wants to stay away from All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB)'s decision on the filing of a review petition on the Supreme Court (SC) verdict of the Ayodhya title suit.

Zufar Faruqi, chairman of the board, said that the waqf board would not file any review petition, news agency IANS reported.

''We had said on November 9 when the verdict was announced that we will accept the court decision. We are not going with AIMPLB on this issue,'' Faruqi said.

Faruqi further said that it is not clear to him why the AIMPLB was going in for a review petition.

"We had always said that we would accept the decision of the Supreme Court and we are following our stand,'' he said.

The AIMPLB on Sunday had said that the SC verdict was 'self-contradictory' and that they would file a review petition.

The parties who are going in for the review petition together are Haji Mehboob, Maulana Hizbullah and the two sons of late Haji Abdul Ahad (one of the first Muslim litigants), Haji Asad Ahmad and Hafiz Rizwan.

The Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, another party to the dispute said it would file a review petition separately.



Child marriages allow violence to continue, stop them, says NGO

November 19, 2019

PETALING JAYA: Another NGO has called on the government to put an end to child marriages for good by pursuing a zero-tolerance stance on the matter.

The All Women’s Action Society (Awam) claimed the lack of regulations and punitive measures on child marriages allowed gender-based violence to occur.

“At a time where the government has unveiled the Shared Prosperity Vision which aims to address some issues of gender-based violence, including sexual harassment at the workplace, increasing maternity leave, and incentivising women to return to the workforce, where does child marriage – a situation that provides the opportunity for a man to abuse a young girl – fit in?

“The government must not view child marriage as simply a religious matter but a social matter. Awam believes that there is a strong correlation between opportunity and violence,” the society said in a press statement today.”

AWAM’s statement comes after Women, Family and Community Development Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said seven states were resisting calls to raise the minimum age for marriage.

Awam is the second NGO after Sisters In Islam (SIS) to take such a stand.

At the Dewan Rakyat today, Wan Azizah, who is also deputy prime minister, said only Selangor had amended its laws on child marriages, while five others – Penang, Sabah, Johor, Melaka and Perak – were expected to follow suit.

Meanwhile, Sarawak, Pahang, Terengganu, Perlis, Negeri Sembilan, Kedah and Kelantan have refused to raise the marital age.

Awam went on to note that from 2007 to 2017, there were 15,000 cases of child marriages in Malaysia.

“This equates to 15,000 lives that society has cheated of the rights of consent, education, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and to invest in a future of their own choosing,” it said.

Awam noted that this was not in-line with Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto, especially those with promises pertaining to security and dignity of women.

Awam has urged all ministers to tackle the issue before more Malaysian girls become victims of child marriages, noting that society cannot progress if such archaic customs are allowed to continue.

“Malaysia is better than this. Stop child marriage once and for all.”



Don’t come, Rohingya in Malaysia warn those fleeing Bangladesh

November 20, 2019

PENANG: Before he flew to Thailand on a fake Bangladeshi passport and then crossed into Malaysia, Mohammed Imran was one of the most influential Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. He headed an 18,000-strong camp and represented them on the big stage.

In late 2017, at the peak of a mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims into Bangladesh fleeing violence in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, Imran paid traffickers US$4,720 to be smuggled into Malaysia in search of a better life.

Malaysia has become home to more than 100,000 Rohingya refugees, the second-highest number in the world after Bangladesh, with most braving the Andaman Sea on rickety boats or paying people smugglers for fake travel documents.

But Imran and nearly two dozen other Rohingya men Reuters spoke to in Penang said their hopes had been shattered because of a lack of jobs and harassment by police as they are deemed illegal immigrants.

They tell friends and family to stay in Bangladesh, despite the hostile conditions there, and some are thinking of heading back.

“I thought I would have a life here – basic things like freedom to work, freedom to move around without always worrying about being bullied by police,” said Imran, 30, sitting cross-legged in a run-down apartment he shares with three other Rohingya men.

Representatives of the police and home ministry did not respond to questions from Reuters.

Staring at a wall where his clothes hang from a rope, Imran recalled emotional conversations with his mother, who lives in Saudi Arabia, over fears she would never see her only son again.

Imran’s two younger sisters live in the Bangladesh camps and he sends them money every month, saving little or nothing for himself after food and rent.

“Our future is so obvious here: we have no future. In Bangladesh you at least have your family and friends around, you speak and understand the language, you have a voice,” said Imran, who volunteers as a mental health counsellor, making about US$600 a month.

Mental trauma

Many Rohingya spent months in jail after entering Malaysia but were released at the request of UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and now work odd jobs illegally.

Only a third of the adult Rohingya in Malaysia are employed, the UNHCR estimates.

Many suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, aid agencies and Rohingya say, as their chances of resettlement in a third country evaporate amid anti-refugee sentiment in countries such as the US.

A UNHCR survey of 245 Rohingya in Malaysia in mid-2018 found about a fifth had moderate to severe mental health symptoms associated with depression and PTSD.

From January to April, a third of Rohingya patients presented at counselling with psychosomatic symptoms or chronic pain, medical NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said.

“There’s an indication of a sense of helplessness among the patients,” MSF told Reuters.

Rohingya interviewed by Reuters said they live in fear of arrest, detention and deportation as Malaysia has not ratified the UN Refugee Convention.

A survey of 288 Rohingya construction workers in Malaysia published late last year found a quarter had been sent to jail at least once, and nearly half had bribed police.

Imran said he knew of at least 1,000 Rohingya who were ready to go back, but they know that means again paying traffickers and risking arrest.

“My brothers ask me sometimes if they should come,” said Mohammed Irfan, who spent six months in jail after reaching Malaysia in 2013.

“I tell them if I could take the clock back, I would have never come here.”



'This is my sacrifice': Thousands maimed in Iraq protests

Nov 20, 2019

BAGHDAD: A fractured spine, paralysed leg, hole in the back: Hamza took to the streets of Iraq's capital to demand a better life but now he has even less than ever.

"This is my sacrifice for Iraq," said the 16-year-old, his strained voice barely audible over the phone in Baghdad.

"If I could walk, I would be back in the protests now."

Hamza is one of at least 3,000 people who have been maimed in Baghdad and southern Iraq since anti-government protests erupted on October 1, according to the NGO Iraqi Alliance for Disabilities Organisation (IADO).

The staggering number is the latest burden for a country already struggling with one of the highest disability rates in the world, according to the United Nations.

After decades of back-to-back conflicts, Iraq is in the thick of its largest and deadliest grassroots protest movement, with more than 300 people dead and 15,000 wounded.

To disperse protesters, security forces have used tear gas, rubber bullets, flash bangs, live rounds and even machine-gun fire -- all of which can seriously maim or even kill, as Hamza learned.

On November 4, the teenager was among around 20 protesters wounded by live fire in Baghdad.

A bullet pierced Hamza's stomach and exited through his back, leaving a gaping hole.

Two others hit his legs.

By the time he arrived at a nearby hospital, he had lost litres of blood and his heart was failing, said his father, Abu Layth.

Doctors revived the boy with a defibrillator, injected him with four units of blood and rushed him into surgery.

"He was basically dead. The doctors brought him back to life," he said.

CT scans and medical reports shared by Hamza's family revealed multiple fractures to his lower spine, leading to paralysis in his right leg.

After more than a week in hospital, the teenager has gone back home and is on steady doses of anaesthetics.

"Sometimes he screams from pain at night," his father said.

Iraq has a long history of bloody conflict, from the 1980-1988 war with its neighbour Iran to the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein and fight against the Islamic State group.

Each war has killed tens of thousands and left even more Iraqis impaired for life.

The government's Central Statistical Organisation says that in the wake of decades of conflict, more than two million of Iraq's 40-million population are disabled people entitled to state support.

But IADO and other rights groups say the real number sits at more than three million -- and counting.

"The number of disabled people continues to grow... We exit one crisis and enter another," said IADO head Muwafaq al-Khafaji.

He told AFP his group's estimate of 3,000 maimed since October 1 is an approximation, as the government is either not documenting or not releasing precise figures.

To fill the gap, IADO members have been contacting hospitals and reaching out to families in Baghdad and southern cities.

Although Iraq is party to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, disabled people suffer from poor health services, lack of job opportunities and social exclusion.

They have organised their own rallies in Baghdad as part of the larger protest movement, demanding more support from the government.

"Infrastructure in Iraq is not even equipped to meet the needs of the non-disabled," said Khafaji. "We need more than just ink on paper."

Iraq suffers from an extremely dilapidated health care system, with hospitals severely under-equipped and doctors threatened on the basis of political or tribal disputes.

In the protests, rights groups have documented the abduction of volunteer medics as well as arrests of protesters from medical facilities.

The additional strain on both patients and doctors means wounded demonstrators do not get quality care quickly enough, leading to severe wound infections.

Medics have even had to sever limbs to save protesters' lives, said Farah, a 19-year-old medical student volunteering in Baghdad's main protest camp of Tahrir (Liberation) Square.

Tahrir is full of makeshift clinics treating protesters, including 30-year-old Ali, who wears a bandage where his right eye should be.

On the night of October 24, the father of four was on a nearby bridge when he heard shots ring out and saw hundreds of protesters scrambling away in panic.

Before he could do the same, a flash bang exploded at his feet and he collapsed, regaining consciousness an hour later in a nearby hospital.

But Ali could only open his left eye, as his other had been lost to a piece of shrapnel.

"They want to deter protesters, but we're becoming even more determined," he said, as crowds of bandaged men walked around him.

"The Iraqi people have endured everything. We were born to die."



Archbishop Justin Welby urges parties to make reassuring Jews and Muslims who are 'living in fear' an 'absolute priority' during the general election

20 November 2019

The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday urged all parties in the General Election to make 'an absolute priority' of reassuring minority groups.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said politicians must 'avoid anything that increases the perception of fear'.

His intervention, which is backed by the Archbishop of York, the Most Reverend John Sentamu, followed accusations from Jewish groups of anti-Semitism among Jeremy Corbyn's supporters.

The Church of England's two most senior archbishops said that 'several groups, especially in Jewish and Muslim communities, feel threatened and are in much anxiety.

No individual or community in our shared society should have reason to lack confidence in their belonging or security, so parties must make it an absolute priority to offer positive reassurance and avoid anything that increases the perception of fear.'

Mr Corbyn has been dogged by allegations of anti-Semitism throughout the Labour campaign while the Tories have faced the counter-charge of Islamophobia.

Boris Johnson has been challenged over his failure to follow through on a promise during the party's leadership campaign to call an inquiry on the subject.

The Anglican archbishops said in an election letter to the Church that 'we call on all standing for election to reject the language of prejudice and not to stoke stigma or hatred towards people on the grounds of their religion, culture, origin, identity or belief'.

CofE leaders have made a point of handing out advice to the faithful in recent elections.

In advance of the 2015 poll, Archbishop Welby and colleagues circulated a letter condemning 'an ugly undercurrent of racism' in debates about immigration and which called for continued EU membership, a rethink of the nuclear deterrent, and a new voting system.

The CofE's latest letter is potentially more embarrassing for Labour than the Tories. The Church is separately preparing a teaching document on Christian attitudes to Jews, which is expected to consider anti-Semitism and may be published during the campaign.

The archbishops also called for respect for politicians and different points of view, but for voters to call out those who lie. Their letter said: 'Our political leaders face huge challenges, and these come with personal sacrifices.

'We should be thankful for those who put themselves forward for public service. Each of us is called to honour the gift of truth – to speak it and to seek it. We all have a responsibility to speak accurately, to challenge falsehoods when we hear them.'

The letter continued: 'People who hold different political views are not our enemies. Issues need to be debated respectfully, and without resorting to personal abuse.'

The archbishops also called for a just economic system, justice for the oppressed, and a commitment on climate change.



Afghanistan's president claims victory over Islamic State

Ahmad Sultan, Rafiq Sherzad

JALALABAD, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Security forces have “obliterated” Islamic State (IS) militants in Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani said on Tuesday, hours after a prisoner swap with Taliban insurgents raised hopes of a lull in violence in the country.

More than 600 fighters from IS, locally known as Daesh, have surrendered with their families to the Afghan government in past weeks. Officials say air strikes by Afghan and coalition forces, lack of funds and low morale have forced the group to give up.

“No one believed one year ago that we would stand up and today be saying we have obliterated Daesh,” Ghani told a gathering of elders and officials in Jalalabad, the main city of eastern Nangarhar province that saw a wave of suicide attacks in past years claimed by the jihadists.

“Now that Daesh militants have surrendered, I ask authorities to treat their families humanely,” Ghani added.

The government says among fighters in its custody are foreign nationals from Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and the Maldives.

However, the Afghan Taliban, which has been battling IS and the government for control of the country, disputed that.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s official spokesman, described Ghani’s announcement as “absurd”.

“Kabul admin had 0% role in defeat of Daesh and the proud people of Nangarhar are witnesses,” he tweeted.

The Taliban controls more territory than at any point since the U.S. invasion in 2001, including sections of Nangarhar province.

Nangarhar, which shares a long and porous border with neighbouring Pakistan, has long served as the main stronghold of IS, from where militants planned and staged bombings around the country, especially the capital Kabul.

Their attacks, targeting foreign nationals and the minority Shi’ite community, have killed hundreds.

Corroborating the government’s claims on defeating IS is difficult given the province’s remote and mountainous terrain, with diverse bands of fighters that often switch sides between militant groups and sometimes pro-government forces.

Last month, Washington announced that IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi killed himself during a raid by elite U.S. special operations forces in Syria.

The Taliban on Tuesday freed two Western professors in exchange for three of its senior leaders held by the government, in a rare act of cooperation between the warring sides.



In reversal, US sides with Israel on settlements

November 19, 2019

By Lara Jakes and David M. Halbfinger

The Trump administration declared on Monday that the United States does not consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank a violation of international law, reversing four decades of U.S. policy and removing what has been an important barrier to annexation of Palestinian territory.

The announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was the latest political gift from the Trump administration to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has vowed in two elections this year to push for the annexation of the West Bank. His chief opponent, Benny Gantz, has until Wednesday night to gather a majority in Israel’s Parliament or he will relinquish his chance to form a new government, raising the prospect of a third round of elections.

The United States has in the past described the settlements as illegitimate, and Palestinians have demanded the land for a future state, a goal that has been backed by the United Nations, European governments and U.S. allies across the Middle East.

But President Donald Trump has been persistent in changing U.S. policy on Israel and the Palestinian territories — moves aimed at bolstering political support for Netanyahu, who has failed to form a government after two rounds of elections with razor-thin outcomes.

Monday’s decision reversed a 1978 legal opinion by the State Department concluding that the settlements were inconsistent with international law. Pompeo said that ruling “hasn’t advanced the cause of peace.”

“We’ve recognized the reality on the ground,” Pompeo told reporters at the State Department. The settlements have been a main sticking point in peace negotiations that have failed to find a solution for generations. They are home to Israelis in territory that Palestinians have fought to control, and their presence makes negotiations for a two-state solution all the more difficult. The two-state solution has been a primary focus of past peace plans, calling for a separate state for Palestinians.

Netanyahu praised the decision and said it reflected “historical truth — that the Jewish people are not foreign colonialists in Judea and Samaria,” a term for the West Bank. He said Israeli courts were better suited to decide the legality of the settlements, “not biased international forums that pay no attention to history or facts.”

Gantz, a former army chief and centrist candidate who has the support of the Israeli left and some Arab lawmakers, politely welcomed the announcement but said that the fate of West Bank settlements “should be determined by agreements that meet security requirements and that can promote peace.” Palestinian officials, by now used to unwelcome policy shifts from Trump, nonetheless summoned new outrage.

“We cannot express horror and shock because this is a pattern, but that doesn’t make it any less horrific,” said Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran Palestine Liberation Organization official. “It sends a clear signal that they have total disregard for international law, for what is right and just, and for the requirements of peace.”

And Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said the Trump administration’s decision was the latest of “unceasing attempts to replace international law with the ‘law of the jungle.’”

Within hours of the announcement, the State Department issued a travel alert to Americans planning to visit Jerusalem, the West Bank or the Gaza Strip. “Those opposed to the Secretary of State’s announcement may target US govt facilities, interests, and citizens,” the department said on Twitter.

In Washington, Pompeo said the decision would provide greater space for the Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate over the status of the settlements. He said that the issue could be largely left to Israeli courts to decide, and that it had no bearing on legal conclusions regarding similar situations elsewhere in the world.

Instead, Pompeo said, the issue must be solved by the Israelis and the Palestinians. “And arguments about who is right and wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace,” he said.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, criticized the U.S. policy shift and maintained that the settlements were illegal and eroded the chances for peace. She called on Israel to “end all settlement activity, in line with its obligations as an occupying power.”

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi of Jordan, which is the custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, said on Twitter that the settlements “kill 2-state solution” efforts. A prime mover in the policy change was David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, who has pushed each of the Trump administration’s major policy gifts to Netanyahu.

Friedman signaled a shift in U.S. policy toward settlements in occupied Palestinian territory in June, in an interview with The New York Times. He said that Israel had the right to annex some, but “unlikely all,” of the West Bank.

Oded Revivi, a spokesman for the Yesha Council, an umbrella group of West Bank settlements, said he believed the timing of the announcement sought to both help Netanyahu remain in power and also bolster Trump among evangelical and Jewish voters in the United States who support the current right-wing government in Israel. He said it also served as a reminder to right-wing Israelis to reap whatever more windfalls the Trump administration might supply.

“It’s an indication to the Israeli public, look where you can go with this president — you’re wasting time,” said Revivi, the mayor of Efrat, a West Bank settlement near Jerusalem.

He said the policy shift was a move toward endorsing annexation and also served as a clear indication to the Palestinians who have resisted reopening negotiations with the Trump administration.

Opponents of annexation, however, warn that it puts Israel’s status as a Jewish democracy at risk in two ways: If the West Bank’s Palestinians are made Israeli citizens, the country’s Arabs could quickly outnumber its Jews. If they are not given full citizenship rights, Israel would become an apartheid state.

“We are strong enough to deter and defeat our enemies,” said Nimrod Novik, an aide to Shimon Peres, a former Israeli prime minister who shared a Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his efforts to end the conflict.

Referring to Israel’s air-defense system, Novik added: “What we don’t have is an Iron Dome system to defend us from friends who threaten to end the Zionist vision.”



Amnesty says over 106 dead in protests, which Iran disputes

Nov 20, 2019

DUBAI: Days of protests over rising fuel prices and a subsequent government crackdown have killed at least 106 people across Iran, Amnesty International said Tuesday, adding that the real figure may be much higher.

Iran's government has not released a toll of those arrested, injured or killed in the protests that began Friday and spread quickly across at least 100 cities and towns. But it disputed Amnesty's report through its mission to the United Nations, calling it "baseless allegations and fabricated figures."

However, a UN agency earlier said it feared the unrest may have killed "a significant number of people." Amnesty cited "credible reports" for its tally and said it "believes that the real death toll may be much higher, with some reports suggesting as many as 200 have been killed."

Iranian authorities shut down internet access to the outside world Saturday, an outage has left only state media and government officials able to say what is happening in the nation of 80 million.

State television showed video Tuesday of burned Qurans at a mosque in the suburbs of the capital, Tehran, as well as pro-government rallies, part of its efforts to both demonize and minimize the protests.

Absent in the coverage was an acknowledgement of what sparked the demonstrations. The jump in gasoline prices represents yet another burden on Iranians who have suffered through a painful currency collapse, following President Donald Trump's unilateral withdrawal of the United States from Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, and the reimposition of crippling US economic sanctions.

Relatively moderate President Hassan Rouhani has promised the fuel price increase will fund new subsidies for poor families. But the decision has unleashed anger among Iranians, like Maryam Kazemi, a 29-year-old accountant in the southern Tehran suburb of Khaniabad, who said the new cost of fuel was ``putting pressure on ordinary people."

"It was a bad decision at a bad time. The economic situation has long been difficult for people, and Rouhani unexpectedly implemented the decision on fuel," she said.

Amnesty said it gathered its figures from interviewing journalists and human rights activists, then crosschecked the information. In its breakdown, it showed the hardest-hit areas as the western Kermanshah province and its oil-rich southwestern province of Khuzestan. Many online videos released before the internet outage had shown unrest there.

"Video footage shows security forces using firearms, water cannons and tear gas to disperse protests and beating demonstrators with batons," Amnesty said. "Images of bullet casings left on the ground afterwards, as well as the resulting high death toll, indicate that they used live ammunition."

Amnesty, citing eyewitnesses corroborated by video footage, said snipers also shot into crowds of people from rooftops and, in one case, a helicopter.

So far, scattered reports in state-run and semiofficial media have reported only six deaths.

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights earlier issued a statement saying it was "deeply concerned" about reports of live ammunition being used against demonstrators. It also urged protesters to demonstrate peacefully.

"We are especially alarmed that the use of live ammunition has allegedly caused a significant number of deaths across the country," spokesman Rupert Colville said in a statement.

Colville added that it has been "extremely difficult" to verify the overall death toll.

Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman for Iran's UN mission, told The Associated Press that "any casualty figures not confirmed by the government are speculative and not reliable, and in many cases part and parcel of a disinformation campaign waged against Iran from outside the country."

"The baseless allegations and fabricated figures by biased Western entities do not shake government's determination in making prudent economic decisions," he said.

Meanwhile, an article published Tuesday in the hard-line Kayhan newspaper suggested that executions loomed for those who led violent protests. Though the state-owned newspaper has a small circulation, its managing editor Hossein Shariatmadari was personally appointed by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"Some reports say that the judiciary considers execution by hanging for the riot leaders a definite punishment," Kahyan said, without elaborating.

It also repeated an allegation that protest leaders came from abroad. Khamenei on Sunday specifically named those aligned with the family of Iran's late shah, ousted 40 years ago, and an exile group called the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq. The MEK calls for the overthrow of Iran's government and enjoys the support of Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Police and security forces were on Tehran's streets on Tuesday in fewer numbers. Traffic also appeared to be flowing better, after part of the demonstrations saw people abandon their cars on major roadways.

Authorities postponed four soccer matches in different parts of the country scheduled for Thursday and Friday, the Iranian weekend, according to the semiofficial ISNA news agency. With the internet outage and phone services spotty, it remained difficult to know the situation in some regions.

The protests were prompted by a plunging economy. Many Iranians have seen their savings evaporate amid scarce jobs and the collapse of the national currency, the rial, since Trump withdrew Washington from the nuclear deal over a year ago and imposed sanctions. The rial now trades at over 123,000 to $1, compared to 32,000 to $1 at the time the deal took effect.

Cheap gasoline is practically considered a birthright in Iran, home to the world's fourth-largest crude oil reserves despite decades of economic woes since its 1979 Islamic Revolution. Gasoline remains among the cheapest in the world, with the new prices jumping 50% to a minimum of 15,000 rials per liter. That's 12 cents a liter, or about 50 cents a gallon. A gallon of regular gas in the US costs $2.59 by comparison.

The UN rights office addressed that background of economic anger across Iran in its statement.

"Protests of this nature and on this scale are an indication of deep-rooted and often well-founded grievances that cannot simply be brushed aside," Colville said.

Those grievances could be heard in Khaniabad and elsewhere around Tehran. Several described taking part in peaceful protests later hijacked by violent masked demonstrators. Others heard gunfire.

"We were out to protest the gasoline price on Saturday," said Reza Nobari, a 33-year-old car mechanic. "Suddenly a group of six or seven who covered their faces appeared together and started to break the windows of a bank. This wasn't what we were out for."

Jafar Abbasi, a 58-year-old who runs a dairy, said he saw another group of people who arrived in a van smash the windows of nearby shops.

"Some looted the place and some other quickly disappeared," he said.

He added: "This is all the result of Rouhani's decision to increase the price of fuel."



Malawi: Muslim Association of Malawi Jostles Govt to Intervene On Hijab Gear

19 NOVEMBER 2019

Officials from the Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) are accusing the government of passiveness as school management as Anglican run school in Balaka continue to send back girls who put on hijab, a Muslim women gear.

The Muslim community has condemned some school authorities who allegedly prohibit female Muslim faith learners from putting on a hijab--a gear covering the head and the neck worn by Muslim women and girls in public places.

Mmanga schools opened a week ago after it closed for three weeks over disagreements between the school administrators and Muslims over hijab wearing during classes.

Sheikh Dinala Chabulika, spokesperson of MAM said although the schools are open, Muslim girls are not allowed to put on hijab during classes.

"The ministry of Education should not keep quiet over these issues. Our girls are being denied a right to education," said Chabulika.

The government issued a statement telling school management not to send back learners and students because of dress code.

However, the Catholic church has defied the order, arguing education laws in the country do not allow hijabs as part of dress code.



Dharna called off as goal achieved, claims Maulana Fazlur Rehman

Muhammad Alam Khan

November 20, 2019

BANNU: The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, said on Tuesday that the days of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government were numbered, saying that his party succeeded in mobilising the people to send this government packing.

Addressing the participants of the sit-in on the Indus Highway here, he said, "We went to Islamabad for a purpose and did not return without achieving it. Your roots have been cut. Now count your days." MNA Zahid Akram KhanDurrani, Engr Malik Ihsan Khan, Malik Taj Muhammad Khan, Malik Kashif Khan, Malik Musharraf Khan Alamgir and others also spoke on the occasion.

Fazlur Rehman said the abusive language being used by the prime minister against the opposition parties clearly shows his frustration. He said the prime minister should also compare his father's historical background with that of his father (Maulana Mufti Mahmood).

"We are still in the field. We are not the ones who hide behind institutions," Maulana said, adding, the people would go to polls once again as the selected rulers had miserably failed to deliver on pledges and provide any relief to the masses.

Admitting that the roadblocks caused inconvenience to the commoners, he said he was striving for the rights of the people as their mandate had been stolen. The JUI-F chief said that the rulers were working under a foreign agenda to damage the country by crippling its economy. The prime minister talked about not giving NRO (amnesty) to anyone, but he actually gave it to her sister, the JUI-F leader alleged.

"The income from the sewing machine has reached Rs70 billion," he remarked, adding, “We must also be given such sewing machines.” He said that even the founding members of the party lodged a case against the PTI leadership, accusing them of accepting funds from abroad, but the case had been pending for the last five years.





Uttarakhand college organises yoga camp only for Muslims

Written by Lalmani Verma

November 20, 2019

An Uttarakhand-based gurukul college is organising a five-day yoga camp exclusively for Muslims in Pauri Garhwal district’s Kotdwar town starting Wednesday.

The Vedic Ashram Gurukula Mahavidyalaya, at Kanvasharam in Kotdwar, which has organised the event, has claimed that this is the first yoga camp in the world exclusively for Muslims, and they expect nearly 500 participants.

Mahavidyalaya founder Dr Vishwapal Jayant said, “There was a misconception among Muslims that yoga is against Islam. Some youths from the community approached me and expressed an interest in holding such a camp. To remove that misconception, this camp is being organised.”

Union ministers Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Mahendra Nath Pandey and Sanjeev Balyan, along with several BJP MPs and MLAs from Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, as well as leaders of the RSS-backed Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM), will attend the camp, which will be inaugurated by Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat. However, the organisers have denied any political connection.

Asked about the participation of RSS national executive member Indresh Kumar in the event, Jayant said, “They are interested in associating Muslims with yoga. They are coming to the camp with a lot of people from the Muslim community.”

Dharmendra Balyan, who is coordinating the event as an advisor, said, “An invitation has been sent to several eminent personalities who hold important positions. But there is no political connection of this event.”

MRM national convener Mohammad Afzal said, “The MRM is at the foundation of the event. This camp is aimed to make Muslims aware about benefits of yoga…”



RSS leader, Shia cleric and others to be honoured at Urdu varsity convocation

Nov 19, 2019

LUCKNOW: The fourth convocation of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Urdu Arabi-Farsi University (Lucknow) to be held on November 21 will be a unique example of Hindu-Muslim unity. Here’s why.

Dr Saeedur Rahman Azmi Nadwi, principal, Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama Lucknow and senior RSS leader Dr Indresh Kumar will be conferred with honorary D Litt degree while Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad Naqvi and religious leader Swami Sarang Mohiley will be awarded honorary PhD Degree in this convocation.

Addressing mediapersons, vice-chancellor, Mahrukh Mirza on Tuesday said as per the directions of Governor Anandiben Patel, 50 students (25 girls, 25 boys) from primary schools will be invited to the convocation ceremony.

He said in adherence to the UGC letter all teachers of the university will wear khadi and hand-woven clothes during the convocation. The dress code for this convocation is maroon khadi sarees for female teachers, beige sherwani and white churidaar for male teachers, said the V-C.

Girl students will wear white salwar suit with maroon dupatta and boys will wear white kurta-pyjama.

He said 65 medals will be given to 55 meritorious students. The number of gold medal is 29, which will be given to 18 boys and 11 girls.



When students fought for a Muslim professor of Vedas

Nov 20, 2019

Abdul Jadid

In 1977, a young, clean-shaven man, attired in an immaculate dhoti and kurta, joined the department of Sanskrit in Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gorakhpur University as an assistant lecturer (on an ad hoc basis) to teach the Vedas.

His name was Ashab Ali.

After a Haj pilgrimage in 1997, Ali started sporting a beard and his attire changed to a kurta-pajama with a skull cap. That did nothing to diminish his popularity with his fellow teachers and students, though. He continued to work till 2010, and was even the head of the department for some time.

Ali says he is surprised by the controversy over the appointment of Firoze Khan as assistant professor in the department of Sahitya at the faculty of Sanskrit Vidya Dharm Vinan in Banaras Hindu University (BHU). Authorities, including no less a personage than the vice chancellor, have endorsed the appointment, but some students at BHU have been protesting since November 7 demanding Khan’s removal or transfer. According to them, a Muslim professor cannot do justice to the job.

Ali, now 72, doesn’t remember any discrimination or misbehaviour by fellow teachers or students in a department dominated for years by Brahmins and Thakurs. Sure, there was one incident when a fellow teacher made some communal remarks (after he started sporting the skull cap) but mostly “they accepted me for my knowledge”, Ali said.

Ali topped both his BA and MA exams in Sanskrit in 1969 and 1971 . He then completed a PhD on a comparative study of Vedic and Islamic myths under the then head of department, Atul Chandra Banerjee, who also played a key role in his appointment.

Ali retired as head of department (HoD) in 2010, the only Muslim professor to hold the highest departmental post.

Expressing his displeasure over the treatment being meted out to Firoze Khan, he said: “Such things never happened in our times. Despite being a Muslim, I continued to excel in Sanskrit and went on to become the head of a department that was full of Brahmins.”

He recalls how a group of Hindu students laid siege to Banerjee’s office to protest against the preference given to two Hindu teachers over him when it came to promotion to a regular teacher position in 1979. They ensured his appointment as a regular teacher. His heads of department, for their part, made sure classes didn’t clash with his prayers.

Commenting on Ali, the current head of the department Murli Manohar Pathak said: “ He was so hard working that during his days of studies in the university he would come by a cycle, pedalling over 30 km daily from neighbouring Maharajganj, his home. He was a gentleman.”

And a scholar.



Have studied Sanskrit all my life, but now I am a Muslim: BHU's Firoze Khan

Nov 19, 2019

Varanasi: Firoze Khan, 28, who is from Jaipur district in Rajasthan, was excited to take up his new job as an assistant Sanskrit professor at Uttar Pradesh’s Banaras Hindu University.

It has been 12 days since he landed in Varanasi on November 7 to take charge of his duties as a professor, but has not taken a single class yet.

"All my life, I learnt Sanskrit and I was never made to realise I am a Muslim, but now when I am trying to teach, suddenly it has become the only subject." Firoze Khan told The Indian Express.

Khan is a doctorate in Sanskrit and was welcomed to his new workplace amid protests and anti-appointment chants.

“I remember the students had gathered when I arrived at BHU on November 7 for my joining, but they did not say anything to me,” Khan, who invited glares from protesting students, was quoted as saying to The Quint.

A section of the BHU's students has been protesting to Khan's appointment, for the only reason that he is a Muslim.

According to the students, Khan's appointment goes against the inscription on a foundation stone laid down by the BHU founder Madan Mohan Malviya in the department, which read that Hindus and followers of Jainism, Buddhism and the Arya Samaj, were only allowed entry into it, The Hindu reported.

The protests were led by the RSS students' wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).

On Monday, a 'hawan kund' was set up and around 20 Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Vijnan (SVDV), a faculty of BHU, students staged a sit-in outside the BHU vice chancellor's office to protest his appointment.

Khan is distraught by protests, yet is hopeful that the situation would change and his students would come around soon.

“I started learning Sanskrit since Class 2, but no one ever pointed this out even though my mohalla in Bagru (30 km from Jaipur) had 30 per cent Muslims. Neither the local maulavi nor society. In fact, I don’t know as much Quran as I know Sanskrit literature. Prominent Hindus in my area praised me for my knowledge of Sanskrit and its literature despite being a Muslim,” Khan told The Indian Express.

He completed his Shastri (Bachelor degree), Shiksha Shastri (B.Ed), Acharya (post-graduate) and received his Ph.D in 2018 from Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, a deemed university, in Jaipur. Khan has also cleared NET and JRF. His father Ramzan Khan too is a graduate in Sanskrit.

Krishna Kumar, a research student at SVDV, who is one of the prime protester said: “If a person is not connected with our feelings and culture, how will he be able to understand us and our dharma''.

The BHU administration on Friday backed the appointment of a Muslim professor, saying it is committed to provide equal opportunities to everyone irrespective of religion, caste, community or gender. However, it seems that administrations' words were not strong enough to compel students to accept the Muslim professor.

Khan, however, has been undertaking efforts to explain to students that teaching has nothing to do with religion.

“To students who are protesting with an argument that how can I teach Hinduism when I am a Muslim, I want to say that in Sahitya department, we have to study about the technicalities of Sanskrit literature and famous dramas like Abhigyan Shakuntalam, Uttar Ramcharitam or Mahakavya like Raghuvansh Mahakavya or Harshcharitam and all this has nothing to do with religion,” he said.

“At one point I can agree that if I have to teach Vedas, Dharam Shastra or Jyotish then its better I am a Hindu but teaching Sanskrit Sahitya has nothing to do with it. All I have to teach what is written over there,” he added.

Students from some other departments and other faculty members find the protests meaningless and demanded arrest of the students who are disrupting the tranquility of the campus.

Mahesh Prasad Ahirwar, Professor of Ancient History, Culture and Archaeology backed Khan's credentials and said the university had nothing to do with caste and religion.

“Those who were oppressed earlier are now coming and showing their ability. This is the changing India: whoever is capable has the right to teach in BHU. I feel that those who oppose this should be punished as per law,” he said.

The vice-chancellor and other senior officials had on Thursday held discussions with representatives of the protesters for over two hours.

The vice-chancellor assured the students that the administration is committed to achieving the objectives of the university in providing equal educational and teaching opportunities to everyone irrespective of religion, caste, community or gender.

When arrived at Varanasi, Khan was the excitement of being selected as a faculty at BHU, one of India’s most prestigious universities apart, however, now it has plummeted to nervousness.

Now, he don't know what to do. When asked if he will fight to be here and teach the students, he answered by saying that it totally depended on the environment that follows. If it is one of inclusiveness, questions like this won’t arise. “Whatever they have in their heart, I hope I can change that,” he said.



Paresh Rawal's "Mohammed Rafi Logic" In Support For Muslim Professor Firoze Khan At BHU

November 20, 2019

NEW DELHI: Actor and former BJP MP Paresh Rawal has condemned the ongoing lockout by students at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) over the appointment of a Muslim professor in the Sanskrit faculty, saying he is "stunned by the protest" against Firoze Khan.

"Stunned by the protest against professor Feroze Khan. What has language to do with religion? Irony is professor Feroze has done his masters and PhD in Sanskrit (sic)," Paresh Rawal tweeted.

A group of 30-odd students of Sanskrit literature have been sitting outside the office of BHU vice-chancellor Rakesh Bhatnagar for 12 days, protesting the appointment of Firoze Khan as an assistant professor. Outside his office, students have been reciting hymns and even carried out a yagna, saying they would not budge till their demands are met.

Paresh Rawal condemned the protests in another tweet: By same logic great singer late Shri Mohammad Rafi ji should not have sung any bhajans and Naushad Saab should not have composed it."

The university administration has rallied behind Professor Khan, saying he is the most suitable candidate for the job and that all procedures were followed during the appointment.

The university has issued statements twice in the last week, saying it is "committed to achieving the objectives of the BHU in providing equal educational and teaching opportunities to everyone irrespective of religion".

Professor Firoze Khan hasn't been seen at the university since his appointment, multiple calls and messages to his mobile number went unanswered.

Professor Khan is originally from Rajasthan. His father also studied Sanskrit and sings bhajans at a temple near his locality, according to a report in the Times of India.

A professor at the university, meanwhile, has now claimed that the faculty at the university wing is involved in instigating the protests and has questioned why classes are not being restarted. "A majority of the (protesting) students are associated with ABVP, Hindu Mahasabha and Hindu Vahini. I believe that faculty members have a role because as per the updates, girl students at the hostel was asked by professors to sit there (at the protest)," Professor MP Ahirwar told NDTV.



Stone-pelting in J&K down since Aug 5, says govt, data differs

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary

November 20, 2019

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in Parliament on Tuesday that there was a decrease in incidents of stone-pelting and law and order issues in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after August 5, following the Centre’s decision to scrap special status under Article 370 and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories. However, the data provided by the government shows a marginal increase in such incidents.

Replying to a written question by Rajasthan BJP MP Kanak Mal Katara, Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy told the Lok Sabha: “Since August 5, 2019 to November 15, 2019, 765 people have been arrested in 190 cases registered relating to stone-pelting/ law and order. From January 1, 2019 to August 4, 2019, 361 such cases were registered.”

These arrests don’t include those held in preventive detention under CrPC and the Public Safety Act (PSA) after August 5.

Replying to Katara’s question on whether scrapping of J&K’s special status had led to a decrease in stone-pelting incidents, Reddy said: “Yes, sir.” However, analysis of the data shows that from January to August 4, there were about 50 incidents of stone-pelting or law and order issues on an average every month. This increased to an average of about 55 such incidents every month after August 5.

Earlier, the government had denied any significant protests or disruption of public order in the aftermath of its decision on Article 370.

Reddy said the government had initiated a multi-pronged policy to check stone-pelting. He said the government had “succeeded in curbing it to the extent that a large number of troublemakers, instigators, mob mobilisers have been identified and various preventive measures have been taken against them, which include detention under PSA and preventive arrests”.

Jammu kashmir news, kashmir stone pelting, kashmir article 370, kashmir violence, kashmir protests, kashmir stone pelting data

Minister of State for Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy the government had initiated a multi-pronged policy to check stone-pelting. (Reuters/File)

He said “investigation has revealed that various separatist organisations and activists which are part of the Hurriyat have been behind the incidents of stone-pelting in Kashmir Valley. NIA has chargesheeted 18 persons in the terror funding cases so far.” According to sources in J&K, there were more than 400 detentions under PSA, while political leaders and party workers remained under house arrest or detention. These include former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.

The government also informed Lok Sabha on Tuesday that there were 950 incidents of ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the Line of Control between August and October this year.

Replying to another question by TMC MP Parasun Banerjee on the use of pellet guns to quell protests in the Valley, Reddy said: “Pellet guns have been used as a matter of abundant caution, only to deal with severe law and order problem, to avoid civilian casualties.”

He, however, skirted other questions asked by Banerjee on “the details of inputs considered before the decision to revoke Article 370 was taken”. Reddy only said: “In order to apply all provisions of the Constitution of India, as amended from time to time, without any modifications or exceptions to the State of Jammu and Kashmir thereby removing Article 35 A and all other constitutional ambiguities, the President, on the recommendation of the Parliament, issued a declaration under Article 370 (3).”

On a question of attendance in schools in Kashmir after the Centre’s decision, Reddy said: “Initially, the attendance of students was thin… (but it) gradually picked up… at present, the attendance of students stands at 99.7% during the ongoing examinations.”



BHU students on protest for 2 weeks over Muslim professor for Sanskrit dept

Nov 20, 2019

A group of students on Tuesday continued to agitate against the appointment of a Muslim teacher in the faculty of Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Vijnan (SVDV) of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU).

The group of students, which has been staging a dharna against the appointment of Dr Firoz Khan as assistant professor in the SVDV faculty since November 7, on Tuesday reiterated that their stir would continue unless action was taken in the matter.

When the car of BHU vice-chancellor Prof Bhatnagar passed by the dharna venue, someone threw a water bottle and a stone targeting the car. Both, however, didn’t hit the car. The university PRO confirmed it.

Meanwhile, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) has extended its support to the protesting students.

“There is no question of ending the dharna until our demand is accepted by the BHU administration. We only want Dr Firoz to be shifted to some other faculty,” said Shubham Tiwari, a research scholar at the faculty of SVDV who is taking part in the


Justifying the demand, Adhokshaj Pandey, convener of ABVP’s BHU wing, said, “Their demand is genuine. The students want transfer of Dr Firoz since they want only Hindus as teachers in the faculty of SVDV that imparts education of ‘Sanatan Dharma’. They are not against the appointment. Dr Firoz may teach in any other faculty. Therefore, the varsity administration should accept the demand.”

Meanwhile, dean faculty of SVDV Prof VP Mishra wrote to the agitating students, urging them to end their stir. Mishra made the appeal after holding a meeting with vice chancellor Prof Rakesh Bhatnagar.

The VC reiterated that all rules and regulations had been strictly followed in Dr Firoz’s selection.

In another protest, a group of students under ABVP activists staged a demonstration in the BHU on Monday and Tuesday over the alleged blackening of a portrait of Veer Savarkar installed in a room at the department of political science.



BJP leader escorted out by security for heckling Suri during speech on occupied Kashmir

Javed Hussain

November 19, 2019

Security at the Asia Pacific Summit, 2019 escorted out Indian politician Vijay Jolly after he angrily tried to disrupt the speech by National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri on Tuesday.

Suri was speaking about Kashmiris' right to self-determination at the summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia when an enraged Jolly — a leader of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — got up from his seat and walked in front of the hall saying, "I want to protest."

In a video clip, he was seen pointing and yelling at the summit's participants sitting in the front row, when security guards came and took him outside the hall. Suri continued to speak despite the commotion.

The deputy speaker, in his speech, said: "I want to direct your attention towards the human rights violations in Indian-occupied Kashmir. Almost 100,000 Kashmiris have been martyred and thousands are missing.

"More than 11,000 women have been raped. More than 8,000 unmarked graves have been found [of people] affected by Indian atrocities."

He added that the occupied territory is under a strict curfew and a communications blackout has been in place for the past 106 days.

He also pointed out that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has recorded usage of pellet guns, extrajudicial killings and torture of civilians by the Indian forces.

Tensions between Pakistan and India which got engaged in a military stand-off in February have remained high this year, but spiked sharply after India revoked occupied Kashmir's autonomy on August 5.



Ex Indian army official faces backlash for remarks advocating rape, death in Kashmir

November 18, 2019

President Arif Alvi on Monday termed the remarks of a former Indian army official advocating the rape of Kashmiri women as "disgraceful".

In a tweet, the president condemned the comments made by retired Major General SP Sinha on a TV show on Hindi news channel TV9 Bharatvarsh, in India, in which he can be heard saying: "Death in return for death, rape in return for rape."

Alvi termed the remarks as "disgraceful" and added: "Imagine the fate of women in Indian occupied Kashmir where such men wield power with total impunity."

The president's reaction comes a day after a clip of the former Indian army official went viral on social media with many criticising him for the hateful remarks.

According to, Sinha had asked for "death in return for death, and rape in return for rape" in order to "avenge the atrocities against Kashmiri Pandits during their exodus from Kashmir in 1990".

In the clip, the moderator is seen trying to calm down the heated exchange, which involved the panellists and audience members. During the two-minute video, another panellist says he is walking out over Sinha's remark.

The former Indian army officer — who in the clip is seen sticking by his reprehensible remarks — has received strong backlash at home as well.

An activist, Saket Gokhale, said that he had written to the Indian army chief and India's ministry of defence demanding that the army "clarify" its position on Sinha's remarks and to initiate proceedings to strip his rank and freeze his pension.

Elsa Marie, a social entrepreneur, said that the former army officer was inciting rape and murder on live television.

"Watch the guy sitting quietly next to him. That man represents majority of India who are silent bystanders. #shame," she tweeted.

According to First Post, former director general of military operations, Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia (retd), said: "Insensitive and unfortunate. I am sure he has not been anywhere near the frontline or in contact in CT ops ever [...] Extreme views of an individual who is known to make obnoxious statements for momentary fame."

In a tweet, a former chief of the Srinagar-based 15 corps, Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain (retd), said: "Those in thick of CT operations know what it's all about. Human suffering witnessed upfront tempers opinion. Sometimes feel [Pakistan] Army's system of clearing veteran [officers] for public forums is correct. Loose missiles avoided."

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on Monday also condemned the remarks, saying Indian army officials had become the "agents" of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

For years, human rights groups have accused Indian troops of intimidating and controlling the population of occupied Kashmir with physical and sexual abuse and unjustified arrests. Indian government officials deny this, calling the allegations "propaganda".

Abuses alleged by rights groups since 1989 have included rape, sodomy, waterboarding, electric shocks to the genitals, burns and sleep deprivation.

The United Nations last year called for an independent international investigation into allegations of rights violations like rape, torture and extrajudicial killings in Kashmir.



Islamic extremists backing Kerala Maoists: CPM leader

Nov 20, 2019

KOZHIKODE: CPM Kozhikode district secretary P Mohanan has stoked a fresh controversy by saying that Islamic extremist organisations are supporting Maoists in Kerala.

The remarks came against the backdrop of the arrest of two CPM workers under the UAPA for alleged Maoist links.

Mohanan told a public meeting in Thamarassery on Monday evening that Kozhikode-based extremist outfits are providing support to Maoists and asked police to probe the matter. “That is why this new controversy and presence has come to Kozhikode. Who is providing them the needed water and manure? It is the Kozhikode-based Islamic extremist outfits who are the source of strength of Maoists. They are encouraging Maoists and taking them along,” he said.

The CPM leader said more than just bonhomie, the Islamic extremist outfits and Maoists are actually closely connected. “That is the reason why NDF and some Islamic fundamental organisations are showing such zeal to support Maoists,” he alleged.

The statement drew quick condemnation from several political parties. Even the CPI, the second-largest constituent of LDF, sought to distance itself from the remarks, with party state secretary Kanam Rajendran saying he doesn’t have any such information. “I don't have much regard for those who blindly believe police reports,” he told reporters.



Southeast Asia


Caned for gay sex: Malaysian men’s punishment condemned by rights group

19 Nov, 2019

Four men in Malaysia have been caned for having gay sex in violation of Islamic laws, in a move described by activists on Tuesday as “vicious punishments” that highlighted a crackdown on the nation’s LGBT community.

Rights groups say there is a worsening climate for gay people in the Muslim-majority country, where authorities have maintained a colonial-era ban on sodomy and mete out harsh physical punishments for same-sex relations.

The men, aged 26 to 37, received six strokes of the cane each on Monday for attempting “intercourse against the order of nature”, an offence under sharia law, Amnesty International said.

They admitted to committing the offence in a flat last year, with an Islamic court also handing out fines to the men and sentencing them to jail terms of up to seven months each.

Marriage law makes Taiwan even bigger beacon for LGBT Asians

Religious authorities found out about the private event by monitoring messages between the men, and then sent a raiding party of 50 officers to detain them, according to Amnesty.

A fifth man convicted with the others was not caned as he is appealing against the punishment, while a further six men arrested in the apartment raid are still facing charges, the rights group added.


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“These vicious punishments … are the actual crimes being committed here,” said Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu, Amnesty’s Malaysia executive director.

“Malaysia should be creating an environment in which LGBT people are free from discrimination, not ensnaring and beating innocent people,” Shamini said.

Malaysia has a dual-track legal system, with sharia courts handling some cases for Muslim citizens. Sodomy is a crime under the country’s regular criminal code as well as under Islamic law.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad last year said that Malaysia could not accept LGBT rights such as same-sex marriage, dismissing them as “western” values.

A month before his remarks, two women were caned in a sharia court in what campaigners said was the first time the punishment had been used in Malaysia as part of a conviction for sex between two women.



Mahathir slams US support for Israel’s occupied territory settlements

November 19, 2019

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has expressed concern over the reversal of the US’s stand on Israel’s settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.

In a media statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Mahathir said it was a blatant disregard of international laws and multiple United Nations resolutions.

US Secretary of State Mark Pompeo announced on Monday that the US would no longer view Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Golan Heights and East Jerusalem as “inconsistent with international laws”.

This cancels a legal position held by the US State Department since 1978, when then-president Jimmy Carter’s administration determined that the settlements were violating international laws.

“We are no longer safe. If a country wants to enter our country and build their settlements, that is legal. We cannot do anything,” Mahathir said.

The prime minister fears the reversal of the US stand by President Donald Trump’s administration will embolden Israeli forces.

“You announce that their illegal settlements are not illegal at a time when they are conducting unjustified attacks on Gaza.

“Isn’t it like encouraging them to continue to murder the children and civilians and that they will not be punished? Instead, they will be rewarded with setting up settlements on the land of the people they had killed and murdered,” he said.



Multaqa a platform to discuss problems and future of Muslims - Dr Mahathir


SEPANG, Nov 19 -- There is a need to identify the reason Muslims now are facing pressures from various parties in different arenas without being able to defend themselves and ward off their misfortune, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said the holding of the multaqa programme, which is a meeting of several parties, is a platform for discussing the problems and future of Muslims.

Dr Mahathir said thorough discussions were needed to know and understand the problems of Muslims, and only after the causes were identified could the ways and means be worked out to resolve the problems.

“When we make efforts to organise multaqa it is definitely because we realise the need to discuss the problems facing Islam and Muslims and to seek solutions for them,” he said at the Multaqa Ulama Asia Tenggara 2019 programme here today.

He said the discussions at multaqa would expose the living conditions of Muslims and the reasons they were not prosperous and not in a safe situation.

"Determining the cause is part of efforts to settle problems. I pray that this multaqa can identify the cause in an honest and sincere manner.

"It is not rational to depend on other people to act so that we can reap the benefits. It is more rational to determine where our mistakes are,” he said at the multaqa, organised by Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia and the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council.

Tracing the history of the glorious Islamic civilisation, Dr Mahathir said the Islamic nations and Muslims at that time were a model for other communities to follow and at one time, Europeans had used Islamic civilisation for their Renaissance.

However, after Islamic civilisation had reached its peak, it suffered a decline causing Muslim countries to be attacked and conquered by Westerners, he said.

"Surely the question arises as to why previously after the ignorant group accepted Islam, they managed to build a high civilisation which controlled regions from China in the East to Spain in the West.

"Isn’t it possible for us to revive this civilisation Isn’t it possible for us to be prosperous again and live in a safe and peaceful situation of Rahmatan Lil-Alamin (Mercy for All)

"Did Islam itself become an obstacle or are the enemies of Islam posing an obstacle” he said.

Dr Mahathir said Islam is not just a religion or belief but is also a way of life.

"What is the Islamic way of life For sure our way of life as Muslims should be guided by the teachings of Islam, especially what is in the Quran. For this we target the prosperity and peace of Rahmatan Lil-alamin," he added.



Kuala Lumpur to host International Conference on Mosque Architecture

19 November 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: The general secretariat of the Abdullatif Al-Fozan Award for Mosque Architecture is organizing the second International Conference on Mosque Architecture in Kuala Lumpur on Nov. 25-27.

The conference is being held under the patronage of the chairman of the award’s board of trustees, Prince Sultan bin Salman.

It is being organized in cooperation with partners in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and relevant international organizations.

This year’s conference is titled “Future Mosque Architecture,” and continues the project carried out by the award’s general secretariat to develop mosque architecture locally, regionally and globally.

It will feature nine keynote speakers and around 45 scientific research specialists from around the world.

The conference will be preceded on Nov. 20-24 by an international jury meeting to evaluate technical reports on shortlisted mosques.

The winning mosques will be announced in March 2020 at a grand ceremony in Riyadh under the patronage of Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar.



Arab World


Twenty Dead as Shots Fired From Friday Imam’s Helicopter

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Twenty people were reported to have been killed and several injured when shots were fired from a helicopter outside a Friday imam’s residence in Sadra City, Shiraz province

Unconfirmed local reports say on the evening of Sunday, November 17, shots were fired at protesters from a helicopter that had landed at the residence of Sadra City’s leader of Friday prayers to pick him up. Protesters had gathered outside the cleric’s residence and had been chanting slogans.

Two brothers, Abdollah and Rasul Qavimi, from the village of Qalat near Shiraz, are believed to be among the dead. The brothers’ family had managed recover their bodies and had taken them to Qalat for burial.

On Monday, November 18, before the funeral began, security forces stormed the village of Qalat, disrupted the funeral and confiscated the bodies of the brothers.

Six others among the dead were reportedly members of the Qashqai Turkish minority. One of them was Majid Hashemi, but the names of the other five are still unknown.

Eyewitnesses in the towns of Katsbass, Mianrud, and Kashan say there were heavy clashes between residents – including Qashqai Turks – and security forces. Reports indicated that clashes in Kashan had continued over two days. Roads leading into the town are reportedly blocked and streets there are barricaded.



UAE's largest Shariah-compliant bank is about to get bigger: Dubai Islamic board to meet Nov 25 re Noor Bank acquisition

20 NOV 2019

The board of Dubai Islamic Bank will meet on November 25 to discuss the acquisition of Noor Bank, it said in an exchange filing on Tuesday (Nov 19).

The United Arab Emirates' largest standalone Islamic bank in June outlined plans to acquire Shariah-compliant Noor Bank, saying the smaller institution's operations will be integrated and consolidated with DIB.

DIB said then that assets post-acquisition will reach nearly 275 billion dirhams ($75 billion). Around 80 percent of that base will come from DIB, which most recently reported 229.962 billion dirhams ($62.62 billion) in assets as at end-September.

The bank added that its “new size and scale” when combined with Noor Bank “will allow DIB to expedite its strategy to connect the dots from Far East, sub-continent, and East Africa with Dubai”.

UAE's oldest Islamic bank currently has operations in Kenya, Pakistan and Indonesia and holds a stake in Bank of Khartoum.

UAE currently has six standalone Islamic banks: DIB, Emirates Islamic, Noor Bank, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Sharjah Islamic Bank, and Ajman Bank. DIB's acquisition of Noor Bank will cut that number down to five.

The country's standalone Shariah-compliant banks and Islamic windows of conventional banks have been steadily growing their market share, from 17.3% of total banking assets in 2013 to 18.9% in 2015 to 20.6% in June 2018, according to central bank data.

This dipped to 19.12% in June 2019, equivalent to 565,793 million dirhams out of total banking assets of 2,958,620 million dirhams.

Dubai Islamic Bank was designated by the UAE central bank in 2018 as systematically important. It is the only standalone and full-fledged Islamic bank out of four financial institutions the regulator considers “too big to fail”.

The bank posted 0.08% increase in net profit to 1.262 billion dirhams ($343.6 million) for the three months ending September 30 compared to the same quarter a year ago.



Makkah deputy governor inspects Grand Mosque project

20 November 2019

MAKKAH: Makkah Deputy Gov. Prince Badr bin Sultan presided over a meeting to discuss the latest developments related to the third expansion of the Grand Mosque, which is being carried out by 5,000 workers.

During a field inspection, Prince Badr was briefed on the artworks of Bab Al-Umra and construction work at Bab Ismail, which will be completed before the Hajj season.

He also inspected the works of the mosque’s old corridor and arches. Fourteen of its 38 arches have been completed so far, and the rest are expected to be completed before the next Ramadan season.



Islamic Finance offers potential for development of the private sector through innovative investments and instruments

PARAMARIBO, Suriname, November 20, 2019/APO Group/ -- Trustbank Amanah and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) ( , the private sector arm of the Islamic Development Bank Group (IsDBG), organized the "1st Caribbean Islamic Finance Forum" in Suriname on 15th of November 2019, in the Royal Ballroom of Torarica.

The forum highlighted the opportunities and challenges for development of the private sector in Suriname, with a special focus on the role of technology and innovation as a catalyst. A technical cooperation mechanism Reverse linkage, which allows sharing knowledge, expertise, technology and resources to develop capabilities was also raised for discussion during the forum.

"With the forum, we aim to report the scope of Islamic finance in order to make the connection for development in the private sector and thereby contribute to the diversification of the Surinamese economy," said the CEO of Trustbank Amanah Maureen Badjoeri.

During the forum, Trustbank Amanah and ICD  signed new agreements in the form of Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs). The MoUs formalize and strengthen the cooperation between both financial institutions to pursue  common goals, serving the private sector namely the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and further development of Islamic finance in Suriname.

"There is a real desire for ICD and Trustbank Amanah to be more joined-up when developing the Islamic finance in Suriname. The MoUs will help achieve that by strengthening and formalizing the already high levels of cooperation between our two institutions." said ICD’s CEO, Mr. Ayman Sejiny.

The forum concluded with  discussion about innovative financial solutions. ICD is developing a Global Platform, of which Trustbank Amanah is also a member, with which  investors within the platform can identify investment opportunities, whilst, and project owners can seek  investors. Various types of financing structures may be possible, including Green Sukuk.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD).





Dozens turn out to discuss proposal for new Muslim prayer centre

MORE than 50 residents turned out to a council meeting to discuss plans for a new Muslim pray centre.

The meeting of Dalton Town Council on Monday evening gathered to discuss the proposal to build the new religious building at Crooklands Brow on Ulverston Road in Dalton.

Many wanted to raise their concerns about the proposed build, after it was announced last week plans for the first dedicated prayer space for Muslims in south Cumbria had been lodged with council bosses.

Fiona Thomson, the town clerk for Dalton Town Council, said: "Monday’s meeting was reasonably good-natured - not hostile in any way.”

Attendees raised a number of points relating to the controversial project that included: the land under consideration being a greenfield site; potential disturbances brought on by the Centre’s opening hours (although no specific opening hours were mentioned in the plans); inadequate parking space allocated in the plans; a number of protected wildlife that inhabit the proposed site.

Dalton Ton Council said it had so far received two letters of objection. However, one was anonymous and therefore could not be taken into consideration by council members.

Barrow Borough Council will have the final say over the plans. But Dalton Town Council will recommend approval or refusal of the project, which will factor into Barrow councillors’ decision.

Mrs Thomson said Dalton Council was currently awaiting further planning information before it makes any final recommendation on the controversial proposals.

Another meeting is expected to take place at some point over the coming fortnight, once Dalton Council has been able to consider all the relevant information.

On the Barrow Council website, the public will be able to find ahead of that meeting the recommendations of the planning officer, any letters of objection as well as recommendations from Cumbria Highways, representatives from utilities services and wildlife protection groups. Email your thoughts to



Muslim MMA fighter tragically dies from injury after losing bout

A female Mixed Martial Arts fighter has died after suffering a fatal injuring during an amateur bout in Southampton.

Saeideh “Sai” Aletaha, a 26-year-old British Iranian, suffered a brain injury during the K-1 lightweight contest on Saturday night and was left in a critical state which she did not recover from.

Aletaha, who studied Industrial Design and Technology at Loughborough University, was taken to Southampton General Hospital on Sunday morning and died later that day.

She was taking part in the ‘Fast & Furious Fight’ event organised by Lookborai and Exile Gym.

A statement on their Facebook page said: “Following the show Saturday we regret to announce that following one of our matches, one of the competitors, Sai Aletaha from Lookborai who lost, unfortunately suffered an injury leaving her in a critical state that she tragically has not recovered from.

“All competitors get in prepared that they may be injured and this is something not expected to happen 99.9% of the time.

“But, it can and in this we make the environment as safe as possible with pre and post medicals from a Doctor, and full medical cover through out with Doctor, Paramedic and Ambulance on site alongside our experienced team of staff with numerous first aiders, safety is not something ever skimped on in any of our 19 shows and all matches are made equal.

“Thoughts of course go out to all family, friends and team mates, if anyone needs any support please come to us or your coaches. Thank you to our team on the night who acted with utmost professionalism and carried their duties out above and beyond to react to the situation, and again we are here for any of you that needs it in this sad time.”

Another statement on Exile Gym’s Facebook page paid tribute to Miss Aletaha.

“Following the show Saturday we regret to announce that one of our team mates unfortunately suffered an injury leaving her in a critical condition that she tragically will not recover from.

“Saeideh Aletaha was a lovely character with a beautiful soul. Her dedication to the sport was 110% traveling miles every day just to train. She found her place with us just a few months ago but has become apart of the family and will be sorely missed.

“This news comes as a devastating blow to us all at the gym and the whole community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family. If there is any questions or if anyone feels they need support at this time please please do contact us.”



Anti-Islam Facebook video will put man behind bars, court hears

By Megi Rychlikova

A MAN who issued a “call to arms” against Muslims in the aftermath of a series of terrorist attacks is preparing to go to jail.

Louis Ryan Duxbury, 22, posted a public 17-minute video on Facebook in which he said they “need to be wiped off the face of this ..... earth,” York Crown Court heard.

But a student representative at York St John University where he was studying, saw it and reported him, said Stephen Grattage, prosecuting.

It was the second time he had been reported to police about his extreme right views.

In 2013, when he was a 15-year-old student at Huntington School, staff spoke to him and reported him for an inflammatory anti-Islam comment he posted online following the murder of Fusilier Rigby.

Giving evidence at his trial, Duxbury claimed that the 2017 video was a “rant”. He was only exercising his right to free speech and that he believed in a diverse, multi-cultural society.

He claimed he was only talking about extremists and terrorists and not Muslims in general and that he was neither racist nor fascist, claiming he was apolitical.

“This was a call to arms, wasn’t it?” Mr Grattage asked him .

“No it wasn’t,” he replied.

A jury convicted him of inciting religious hatred after less than half an hour in retirement. Duxbury, of Wigginton Road, York, had denied the charge.

It was his second trial on the charge. A jury in March failed to reach a verdict. He was not prosecuted over the 2013 comment.

Defence barrister Glenn Parsons said he could say little in mitigation, but asked for Duxbury to have time to set his affairs in order.

The Recorder of York, Judge Sean Morris granted the 22-year-old bail until November 29.

He warned him: “People who incite religious or racial hatred create terrible trouble for our society. It will be a custodial sentence.”

On the video, Duxbury said he had worked “day and night” on a “vigilante” group in Strensall. In evidence, he called it a “watch group” that ended when local youths beat him up.



Campaigners protest against plans to convert pub into Islamic community centre

19th November

CAMPAIGNING residents hope to take over the running of a former pub after plans were unveiled to convert it into a community centre.

Sally Buchanan set up the Save the Beehive group after it was revealed Colchester Islamic Community Centre had purchased the former pub in Bromley Road, Colchester.

She says most nearby residents were kept in the dark about the sale and had assumed any new owners would instead breathe fresh life into the historic pub.

She said: “I was shocked when I heard the new owners were not publicans.

“This pub has so much potential. The community should have been given an opportunity to take the pub on, but sadly due to a confidentiality clause imposed by the sellers we were denied that opportunity.

“Many in the community want to protect the pub which has stood there for more than 100 years.”

The group hopes to see the pub, which closed in August, registered as an asset of community value before reopening it as a community group.

This step has been taken to save pubs such as the Black Buoy in Wivenhoe and the Cross Inn in Great Bromley.

As part of the Colchester Islamic Community Centre plans, the building would be used for coffee mornings, educational classes and daily prayers.

The plans to change the use of the pub will be considered by the council and have attracted more than 100 letters of objection.

One resident of Bullfinch Close said: “It is the only pub within walking distance for Longridge residents which has a real family friendly, community environment.

“If it were to be as proposed, a community centre for a place of worship, then this would only appeal to certain members of the community and not to all in the nearby community.

“I feel let down we have not been consulted before this proposal.”

A paper petition, which will be presented to Colchester Council, is being circulated by Save the Beehive to nearby residents.

To celebrate finding a new home, the centre recently raised £1,025 for Colchester Foodbank.

The Gazette approached Colchester Islamic Community Centre for comment but it did not respond at the time of going to press.



Police launch hate crime investigation after arson attack on Skegness mosque site

19 NOV 2019

ByAshley Franklin

Police have released CTTV as part of an ongoing investigation into a hate crime arson attack in Skegness.

Officers are looking into a suspected arson attack at Burbridges Site in Roman Bank on October 6 2019.

The land has been earmarked as the base for a community centre and the town’s first mosque.

As a result, the incident is being treated by the force as a hate crime.

As part of their investigation, CCTV footage has been released of a man officers would like to speak to.

The footage shows a man in a green coat and jeans, who is also wearing a baseball cap.

Police say they accept the footage does not capture a lear image of the man, but are still keen to get it out there on the off-chance someone may recognise the man in the video.



Islamists have killed 167,096 people since 1979 – most of them were Muslims

19 NOV 2019


Between 1979 and 2019, 167,096 people have been killed by Islamist attacks according to a new study by the Paris-based Fondation pour l’innovation politique, (Political Innovation Foundation.)

Researchers have identified 33,769 Islamist attacks, which make up 18.8 per cent of all politically motivated terror attacks over the last four decades. Islamists are responsible for 39.1 per cent of all deaths from terror attacks since 1979 and 91.2 per cent of their victims are Muslims.

There was a spike following the decision of David Cameron and William Hague in London and Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris to support the regime change insurrections in Libya and Syria. This gave a massive boost to the best known of all Islamist movements, the Islamic State or “Daesh” as it is also known. Since 2013, violent groups identifying themselves as Islamist have become the main cause of deaths from terror attacks in the world. 63.4 per cent of all terror related deaths in the last six years are linked to Islamism.

Beginning with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, successive northern (a better term than western) military interventions have led to the growth of Islamist ideology. It shelters behind the faith of Islam just as western colonialism, butchery and genocide was often carried out in the name of Christian proselytisation.

The first major surge in Islamist violence was the resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. This, of course, was supported by the West with money and highly advanced weapons, which were given to Islamists under the supportive eyes of western journalists and anti-Soviet ideologues who enjoyed seeing Russian gunships being blown out of the sky by Stinger handheld missiles.

What the anti-Russian West sowed, it reaped, as the battle-hardened Islamists kept on fighting in the 1990s and then mounted the attack on Manhattan in 2001. George W Bush and some gung ho western leaders fell into the Islamist trap by responding with the invasion of Iraq, which launched a new cycle of Islamist terror. Similarly, David Cameron, William Hague and Nicolas Sarkozy helped give birth to North African and Arab Islamism with their help for fighters who destroyed the Libyan state and who have been trying to destroy the Syrian state this decade.

It is not clear how this will end. A core Islamist goal is the elimination of the state of Israel, with Iran financing outfits like the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza who delight in launching rockets into Israeli towns to kill Jews.

The fanatical Israel haters in western politics and on campuses are the useful idiots of Islamist ideology. Too many of them are anti-Jewish, even if they hide behind weasel words like “Zionists”. But equally, the rise of Muslim-phobia is now pervasive on the nationalist populist right, as they target European Muslims born in Britain, France or Germany. This also sends some impressionable young people into the hands of Islamists, as Ed Husain warned would happen in his 2007 book, The Islamist.

The Paris report is a reminder for all policy-makers of the need to draw a distinction between Islam and Islamism. Muslim-phobia is now entering mainstream centre-right politics in the US under Trump, in parts of the Conservative Party in Britain as Baroness Warsi points out. It is widespread in France, Germany, Italy, and now Spain. The Hungarian strong man, Viktor Orban, presents Hungary as a central European bulwark against Islam, even though the last Hungarian census showed little more than 5,000 Muslims in the country.

But the political fight against Islamism is essential for the survival of democracy. So too is the need for strategic restraint, as every military intervention to overthrow an authoritarian ruler targeted by Islamists has only made matters worse. In London, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, set up by George Weidenfeld in 2006, is producing the best reports on what needs to be done.

One of the biggest challenges is to take on Google, Facebook and other behemoths of the digital age, which do little to stop their platforms being used to disseminate Islamist material. Leaders who try and promote a soft Islamism, like Turkey’s President Erdogan who barely bothers to disguise his affiliation to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, need to be confronted.

Islamism is to Islam what the crusades were to Catholicism. Islamist views of women, of the LBGT community, of Jews, the free media and rule of law and free elections, need exposing and shunning.

Early next month, Nato leaders will gather in London. They have different problems on their agenda. President Trump has partly closed down the Atlantic Alliance, preferring idiosyncratic unilateral decisions like withdrawing from the Middle East to the profit of Moscow and Ankara. President Macron of France says Nato is “brain dead”. He is also closing down hopes of integrating Western Balkan states such as Albania and North Macedonia into the EU. These both have large Muslim populations.

Portugal’s former Europe Minister, Bruno Maçães, writes of Macron’s “Islamaphobic undercurrent”. Between them, Trump and Macron are reducing Nato to near irrelevance with little chance of an effective counter-Islamist policy being developed.

Meanwhile, the Islamist killing machine grinds on.



Western hostages freed by Afghan Taliban in swap for top commanders: Report

November 19, 2019

The Afghan Taliban released two Western hostages on Tuesday, Afghan government officials said, completing a delayed prisoner swap for three of the militant group’s commanders and raising hopes of a revival of efforts for peace.

American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks were kidnapped in August 2016 from outside the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul where both worked as professors.

The U.S.-backed government’s decision to carry out the swap is seen as key to securing direct talks with the Islamist militants, who have, until now, refused to engage with what they call an illegitimate “puppet” regime in Kabul.

“The two professors are safely freed and are being taken care of now,” said a senior Afghan official on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

He did not provide further details.

Earlier on Tuesday, three Taliban sources familiar with the deal, including one in Qatar, home to the political leadership of the Afghan Taliban, said the three Taliban commanders who are part of the swap were freed from jail in Afghanistan.

“Soon after their release, they were flown to Doha and handed over to the political office in Qatar,” said a Taliban leader in Afghanistan, who declined to be identified because he is not authorised to speak publicly about the deal.

Spokesmen for the Afghan government and the United States embassy in Kabul were not immediately available for comment.

On Nov. 12, President Ashraf Ghani said Afghanistan would free Anas Haqqani, a senior figure in the eponymous Haqqani network, a militant faction of the Taliban responsible for some of the worst violence in recent years, and two other Taliban commanders.

But the swap was abruptly postponed, with the Taliban then shifting their hostages to a new location.

The Haqqani network has in recent years carried out large-scale attacks on Afghan civilians. It is believed to be based in Pakistan and is part of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

King and Weeks were last seen in a 2017 hostage video looking dishevelled and pleading with their governments to secure their release.

The prisoner exchange could help nudge forward efforts to end the Afghan war.

The United States and the Taliban were for most of the past year discussing a plan for the withdrawal of U.S. troops in exchange for Taliban security guarantees.

But U.S. President Donald Trump halted the talks last month, despite his hopes to end America’s longest war, following the death of a U.S. soldier and 11 other people in a Taliban bomb attack in Kabul.

Before the talks were broken off, the United States and the Taliban both said they were close to reaching a deal.



Helicopter crash kills 2 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan

Wednesday, 20 Nov 2019

A helicopter crash killed two service of the U.S. military in Afghanistan, the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission said in a statement.

“Two U.S. service members were killed in a helicopter crash on November 20, 2019 in Afghanistan,” the alliance said in a statement.

The statement further added “The cause of the crash is under investigation, however preliminary reports do not indicate it was caused by enemy fire.”

The Resolute Support Mission did not disclose further information regarding the exact location of the incident and identities of the deceased soldiers.

“In accordance with U.S. Department of Defense policy, the names of the service members killed in action are being withheld until 24 hours after notification of next of kin is complete,” the statement added.



NATO leaders to discuss Afghanistan mission in London Summit: Stoltenberg

Wednesday, 20 Nov 2019

The NATO leaders will discuss Afghanistan mission among other issues in NATO Leaders summit in London next month.

Speaking to reporters ahead of NATO foreign ministers meeting on Tuesday, Stoltenberg said the NATO leaders will discuss a range of issues during the London summit including NATO’s role in the fight against terrorism.

Stoltenberg further added “Our training missions in Afghanistan and Iraq continue to play an important role in preventing the resurgence of ISIS and other terrorist groups.”

Responding to a question regarding the potential threats the allies face, Stoltenberg described the Afghanistan mission as the alliance’s biggest military operation aimed at fighting terrorism and making sure Afghanistan does not once again become a safe haven for international terrorism.

“And we also agree on the need to make sure that we recognize the importance of standing together in avoiding that ISIS is able to get a foothold in Afghanistan, which is their declared aim,” he added.

This comes as the Afghan forces, backed by coalition forces, have stepped up operations against ISIS militants in Nangarhar province during the recent months.

Hundreds of ISIS militants and their family members surrendered to the Afghan forces in Nangarhar province during the recent weeks amid growing pressures from the security forces.



Islamic State’s ‘backbone was broken’ in Afghanistan as hundreds surrender

November 19, 2019

JALALABAD, Afghanistan — Hundreds of Islamic State fighters have surrendered after separate operations by government forces and the Taliban hemmed them into the mountainside in the country’s south, Afghan officials said Tuesday.

During the past two weeks, 243 ISIS fighters and nearly 400 family members have surrendered, Nangarhar provincial governor Shahmahmood Miakhel said Tuesday. In total, 2,000 fighters and their families are expected to surrender, Miakhel said.

Afghan officials said their forces, aided by U.S. personnel, starved the ISIS fighters by cutting off their supply lines in Nangarhar, Miakhel said.

“The result is Daesh’s backbone was broken,” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in a speech Tuesday, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS that the group dislikes.

Some ISIS fighters from Afghanistan who have surrendered will be investigated through the justice system, while others will be released without punishment to “start their normal life,” Nangarhar province spokesman Attaullah Khogyani said. Those from Pakistan and other countries — about a third of the group — will be sent to Kabul for questioning, he said.

While the Pentagon said there were fewer than 2,000 ISIS fighters in July, the United Nations the same month said there were between 2,500 and 4,000 fighters.

U.S. forces in Afghanistan have classified more recent estimates of the group’s size.

Both the Afghan Defense Ministry and the Taliban — each of whom consider ISIS an enemy — attributed the mass surrenders to their respective military operations.

The Taliban launched large scale anti-ISIS operations in Nangarhar beginning Sept. 20, a spokesman for the group said in a statement.

U.S. and Afghan forces have fought against ISIS in Nangarhar since the militants’ arrival in the country, reportedly around 2014.

Last year, an attack by U.S. and Afghan special operations forces killed 167 ISIS fighters and dislodged them from their declared capital in Deh Bala last year, U.S. and Afghan officials said at the time.

The militants who recently surrendered were from Achin district, where the U.S. in 2017 reportedly killed more than 90 ISIS fighters after it dropped the largest conventional bomb in its arsenal, the 21,600-pound GBU-43/B, nicknamed “the mother of all bombs,” onto an ISIS cave network.

A spokesman for U.S. and coalition forces deferred comment to the Afghan Defense Ministry on whether U.S. troops were involved in recent operations in Nangarhar. The U.S. in recent years has strived to de-emphasize its own involvement in battlefield operations while promoting Afghan activity.

Mikahel said that the U.S. contributed both special operations forces and aerial bombardments to the ISIS defeat.

Locals said ISIS fighters had been under pressure by both Afghan government forces and the Taliban.

The Taliban had surrounded ISIS in their mountain hideouts, while government forces prevented militants from using the roads, said Lal Mohammad Durrani, a provincial council member in Nangarhar.

The ISIS fighters preferred to surrender to the government, Durrani said.

“They were just stuck in the mountains; they didn’t want to get arrested by the Taliban,” Durrani said, “because the Taliban would just kill them all for revenge.”

Last year, more than 200 ISIS militants in Jawzjan in the north of the country also surrendered to the government after the Taliban surrounded them during a two-day battle.



A month after deadly clashes, Islamist outfit plans another rally in Bhola

Kamal Hossain Talukdar

20 Nov 2019

A month after a conference over 'blasphemous' Facebook posts by a Hindu youth boiled over into violent clashes between angry Muslims and police, leaders of an Islamist outfit are planning to stage another meeting in Bhola.

Biplab Chandra Baidya Shuvo, a Hindu youth whose Facebook ID was reportedly hacked to spread the religious slur, is still in prison.

At least four people died and 100 others, including policemen, were injured in the violence that erupted after the protest rally under the banner of 'Muslim Tawhidi Janata' at Bhola's Borhanuddin on Oct 20.

“The situation in Bhola is better now. But an organisation named Tawhidi Janata has applied for permission to hold a rally on Nov 23,” Bhola's Deputy Commissioner Sarkar Mohammed Kaiser told

The proposed rally at Bhola Sadar High School premises will commemorate those who lost their lives in the clashes last month with religious leaders from different districts presiding over a prayer session, according to a petition by the organisers.

But police are yet to grant permission for the event, said Kaiser.

In the aftermath of the hostilities, a five-strong probe panel led by Barishal Range DIG Md Shafiqul Islam looked into the incident and submitted a report to the Police Headquarters on Nov 2.

The panel's recommendations will inform the next steps taken by the authorities, said Assistant Inspector General Md Sohel Rana.

The panel examined the incident to see if there was any negligence on the part of the police in their handling of the situation, Additional Superintendent of Police Mir Md Safin Mahmud, also a committee member, told on Tuesday. They spoke to local public representatives and ordinary people to glean a clearer understanding of what transpired, he said.

“The committee drew eight recommendations to prevent such unfortunate events caused by Facebook posts,” he said, adding the probe panel also analysed video footage of the incident.

Three cases were started in connection with the religious slur, the clashes and the subsequent attacks on the Hindu community in Bhola. But the authorities have yet to make any notable progress in these cases.

Police also arrested Md Emon and Rafsan Islam Sharif alias Shakil along with Biplab in a case filed under the Digital Security Act for spreading malicious content on social media.

Biplab, the son of farmer Chandra Mohan Baidya and housewife Basanti Rani Baidya, sat for his degree exams from Naziur Rahman Degree College this year.

On Oct 18, Biplab filed a general diary with Borhanuddin Police Station alleging that his Facebook account was hacked to spread the contentious posts.

He further claimed that the hackers accessed his Facebook Messenger and published a screenshot of slanderous comments on social media, which subsequently sparked a firestorm of protests online and offline, culminating in the clashes on Oct 20.

Two of the four people killed in the violence had their heads smashed with heavy objects, police said, citing doctors.

“Some issues can be found locally while for others, we need to contact Facebook's central authority. Police are yet to confirm whether Biplab’s Facebook ID was genuinely hacked, and who did it,” said SP Kaiser.

The police headquarters did not provide any statement on the matter as the  official who is coordinating with the Facebook authorities is currently travelling.

Law enforcement sent all necessary information to the Facebook authorities and the hackers will be identified in a day or two, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal had said earlier.

Police have arrested 13 people in the three cases until now, said Borhanuddin Police Station chief Enamul Haque. The investigation is still in progress, he said.



North America


With the UN Security Council in Paralysis, Are there New Hopes for Rohingya Muslims?

By Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 19 2019 (IPS) - The 15-member UN Security Council (UNSC) stands virtually paralyzed in the face of genocide charges against the government of Myanmar where over 730,000 to one million Rohingya Muslims have been forced to flee to neighboring Bangladesh since a 2016 crackdown by Myanmar’s military.

A team of U.N. investigators has declared that the crackdown was carried out with “genocidal intent”.

The paralysis at the UNSC, attributed to inaction by two of its veto-wielding members, namely China and Russia, has now triggered interventions by both the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which are expected to sit in judgment over the atrocities.

Although judges at the ICC last week agreed to authorise a full-scale investigation into allegations of mass persecution and crimes against humanity, Myanmar is not a party to the Rome statute that established the ICC.

Asked how effective any ruling would be against Myanmar as a non-party, Param-Preet Singh, Associate Director, International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch, told IPS: “Any action by the ICC would be against individual defendants, not the state”.

“If your question is whether Myanmar would surrender any suspects to face justice in The Hague, based on its current position with respect to the ICC, it would be easy to say that the authorities would never cooperate.”

But the same was said about Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and Slobodan Milosevic – each of whom fell from positions of power and eventually found themselves in the dock at the Yugoslav tribunal, she pointed out.

“Of course, it was a long and complex process to get those defendants before the court, and that’s exactly why it’s difficult to speculate about the success of any ICC efforts to hold individuals to account”, she declared.

Dr Tawanda Hondora, Executive Director of World Federalist Movement – Institute for Global Policy (WFM-IGP), the organisation that houses and coordinates the work of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC), told IPS

“While Myanmar disputes that genocide has taken place, it has done very little to prevent and stop the persecution, deportation, forced displacement, killing and torture of the Rohingya community, which acts may amount to genocide.”

“We hope that the ICJ will reaffirm the legal principle that any States Parties to the Genocide Convention have legal standing to sue another States Party, which has failed to take steps to prevent and punish acts of genocide.”

“A declaration by the ICJ that Myanmar has failed to prevent and punish those responsible for these heinous acts will help to address the plight of the Rohingya community.”

This case, he pointed out, is a wake-up call for the United Nations Security Council, which continues to shirk its responsibility to maintain international peace and security and has so far failed to protect the Rohingya community.

The formal submission to the ICJ, accusing Myanmar of genocide through the murder, rape and destruction, was made on November 11 by the Republic of the Gambia, on behalf of the 57-member Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Meanwhile, in a statement released November 14, ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said: “I welcome the decision by ICC judges to “authorise my request to open an investigation into the situation in the People’s Republic of Bangladesh/Republic of the Union of Myanmar.”

She said the ICC judges have “accepted my analysis that there is a reasonable basis to believe that coercive acts that could qualify as the crimes against humanity of deportation and persecution on grounds of ethnicity and/or religion may have been committed against the Rohingya population”.

With that decision, a formal investigation has been authorised, for crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court, allegedly committed on or after 1 June 2010, at least in part on the territory of Bangladesh, or on the territory of other state parties, as described in the decision.

This is a significant development, sending a positive signal to the victims of atrocity crimes in Myanmar and elsewhere, she declared.

After a reported military-led crackdown, widespread killings, rape and village burnings, nearly three-quarters of a million Rohingya fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state to settle in crowded refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh, according to an ICC press release.

Asked what the next step would be if Myanmar refuses to abide by the decisions of the two international courts of justice, HRW’s Singh said: “I think it’s important to discuss both cases as proceedings, since final decisions in both courts are a long way off”.

She said the fact that Myanmar’s actions are being scrutinized by two judicial mechanisms – through the separate but complementary lenses of state and individual responsibility – challenges Myanmar’s empty denials of its role in atrocities and raises the political cost of ongoing abuses, both for Myanmar and the countries that would rather ignore its dismal human rights record.

Asked if the intervention by the two courts also send an implicit message to the UN Security Council which has so far refused to impose sanctions or take punitive action against Myanmar, Singh said: “The actions by Gambia and the ICC prosecutor to find a measure of justice for the Rohingya contrast sharply with and further expose the UN Security Council’s paralysis on the crisis in Myanmar”.

“And with that exposure, there is a rising political cost for its refusal to discharge its responsibility to address concerns about international peace and security in the region,” she noted.

Asked for a reaction from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters November 14: ‘No, it is not for us to comment on procedures going on in the judicial end of the UN system. I think the Secretary General has spoken out very clearly and very forcefully on the need to address the situation of the Rohingyas and for the Government of Myanmar to put in place a number of actions and for justice to be done, but we have no specific comment on that case.’

Meanwhile, back in October 2018, Marzuki Darusman, chair of the fact-finding mission of the Human Rights Council (HRC), briefed the Security Council on the mission’s report.

Among its findings was that Myanmar security forces had committed what amounted to war crimes and crimes against humanity in their treatment of several ethnic and religious minorities in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States.

He also said there was sufficient information regarding the treatment of the Rohingya ethnic group in Rakhine State for senior officials in the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s military) to be investigated to determine their liability for genocide, according to the Security Council Report, a NGO publication monitoring the activities of the UNSC.

Dr. Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, told IPS that it is worth keeping in mind that Bangladesh is a member of ICC. Any indictment from the ICC would mean that some of Myanmar’s senior generals, who are responsible for atrocities, would not be able to travel outside Myanmar without the fear of being arrested and possibly ending up in a prison cell in The Hague.

Symbolically, it may also result in Aung San Suu Kyi‘s final ignoble transition from Nobel Peace Prize winner to indicted suspected perpetrator of Crimes Against Humanity.

He also pointed out that the ICC is about individual criminal responsibility and the ICJ is about state responsibility. But ICC indictments and a condemning judgement from the ICJ would puncture the Myanmar authorities’ culture of denial, exposing them in front of the entire world as a government responsible for genocide, the crime of crimes.

“Both of these international courts, which are sometimes criticized as being distant, bureaucratic and slow-moving, have done more to address the issue of the genocide against the Rohingya than the UN Security Council. More than two years have passed since the genocide began in northern Rakhine State. The UN Security Council needs to name the crime and hold the perpetrators accountable. Anything less is a total abdication of their historic responsibility,” Dr Adams declared.

The writer can be contacted at



Trump’s Syria move and withdrawal of US Army allowed Islamic State to regroup: Report

Nov 20, 2019

The Islamic State group took advantage of both the US withdrawal from northeastern Syria and the Turkish incursion to regroup and could prepare new attacks on the West, a report from the Pentagon said Tuesday.

President Donald Trump said on October 6 around 1,000 US troops were leaving northeast Syria, where they had kept an uneasy peace between neighboring Turkey and Syrian Kurdish fighters.

Trump’s move allowed an incursion by Turkey aimed at destroying Kurdish guerrillas, who had led the fight against the Islamic State group and run jails for captured extremists in their effectively autonomous area in northern Syria.

Trump, who was strongly criticized even by allies in his own camp, has changed course several times, eventually announcing that a residual force would remain in Syria to protect oil fields.

“ISIS exploited the Turkish incursion and subsequent drawdown of US troops to reconstitute capabilities and resources within Syria and strengthen its ability to plan attacks abroad,” the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General said in a report, using a common acronym for the IS group.

The office, which is an independent investigative arm, added that IS “will likely have the ‘time and space’ to target the West and provide support to its 19 global branches and networks,” the report said, citing information provided by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

In the long run, it “will probably seek to regain control of some Syrian population centers and expand its global footprint,” the inspector general added, citing the DIA.

Meanwhile, the death of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed during a raid conducted by US special operations forces in Syria on October 26 “would likely have little effect on ISIS’s ability to reconstitute,” the DIA said, according to the report.

Already IS has “has activated sleeper cells to increase attacks” against the Kurdish-led fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces, whom the United States relied upon in the fight against IS.

In 2014 fighters from the newly formed IS group swept through much of the Sunni heartland in Iraq and Syria to declare a “caliphate.”

The report states that US forces in Syria continue to arm SDF fighters but have stopped training them. By the end of the third quarter, the SDF had 100,000 fighters, according to the document.



Trump orders additional troop deployment in Middle East

Nov 20, 2019

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has ordered deployment of additional troops in the Middle East to deter alleged threat from Iran, taking the total number of US armed forces in Saudi Arabia to 3,000.

Iran continues to pose a threat the security of the region through various activities, including the attack on oil and natural gas facilities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on September 14, Trump told the Congressional leadership in a letter on Tuesday.

Trump's letter was addressed to the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.

"To assure our partners, deter further Iranian provocative behavior, and bolster regional defensive capabilities, additional United States Armed Forces have been ordered to deploy to the Middle East," said the US President in his letter, a copy of which was released to the press by the White House.

Additional forces ordered for deployment in Saudi Arabia include radar and missile systems to improve defences against air and missile threats in the region, an air expeditionary wing to support the operation of United States fighter aircraft from Saudi Arabia, and two fighter squadrons, Trump said.

The first of these additional forces have arrived in Saudi Arabia, and the remaining forces will arrive in the coming weeks.

"With these additional forces, the total number of United States Armed Forces personnel in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be approximately 3,000. These personnel will remain deployed as long as their presence is required to fulfill the missions described above," Trump said.

Trump said the action is consistent with his responsibility to protect United States citizens at home and abroad and in furtherance of the country's national security and foreign policy interests.



'Radical Islamist' Syrian refugee's alleged attack plan foiled in Germany after US tipped the information

German special police forces arrested a Syrian man in a raid on his apartment Tuesday after U.S. intelligence officials tipped that he was planning an extremist attack, according to an Associated Press report.

The AP reported that the Syrian man, whose name wasn't given, is a 26-year-old "radical Islamist" who came to Germany in 2014 as an asylum-seeker and had been living in the country with "protected" status.

He had allegedly planned an attack in Germany designed to "kill and injure a maximum number of people," federal prosecutors said in a statement.

Officials aren't disclosing in any detail information about the individual or his reported planned attack, but prosecutors say the individual had learned how to construct bombs online and spoke of planning an attack in internet chats.

The individual was under surveillance for several months before his arrest.

A U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity told the AP that the tipped information had come from law enforcement and intelligence cooperation between American and German authorities.

Germany has been rolling up the welcome mat for asylum-seekers

Germany welcomed more than 1 million Syrian immigrants seeking asylum during the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War in 2016, and in just a few years, Syrians became the third-largest group of foreigners living in the country.

The open-door policy toward Syrian asylum-seekers was controversial at the time as some believed it would overthrow the culture and unnecessarily open the country up to terrorist threat.

Lately, Germany has been closing the window on asylum applications and ramping up deportations.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced earlier this year that, in 2018, Germany received about 185,000 asylum applications, a drop of 17 percent from the previous year, and much fewer than the high of 890,000 in 2015.

"We now have the problem under control. We have put things in order," Seehofer said. "We offer protection for people who are vulnerable. However, the population will only accept asylum rights if we can repatriate those who don't need to be protected.''



Chicago man accused of helping preserve Islamic State propaganda on social media

Nov 19, 2019

By Jon Seidel

Thomas Osadzinski said he couldn’t just “sit in the chair while Muslims are dying,” so he allegedly studied bomb-making and promised he would not be stopped “once I get my gun and explosive belt.”

But the 20-year-old Lake View resident and DePaul University student also studied computer science. And that’s where the feds say he found his calling. Osadzinski allegedly went on to develop what he would call the “highest form of jihad” — a computer program that used social-media bots to save and help disseminate Islamic State propaganda online.

“No more than 10 brothers know how to do this kind of jihad,” Osadzinski allegedly once boasted.

Now Osadzinski is in federal custody, charged in a 38-page criminal complaint with attempting to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State. Also, despite once allegedly claiming, “I will never go to their false man-made court,” Osadzinski found himself Tuesday in the courtroom of U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas labeled Osadzinski a risk of flight and a danger to the community. Cole ordered Osadzinski held in federal custody until a detention hearing could be held. The hearing is set for Friday.

Steve Greenberg, Osadzinski’s defense attorney, later insisted his client “is a young man who was acting lawfully.”

“He is not writing code to support ISIS,” Greenberg said in a text message to the Chicago Sun-Times. “While we understand the government has to be vigilant, they have overreached here, and seek to criminalize religious beliefs and free speech.”

The case against Osadzinski is believed to be the first of its kind — a terrorism case brought against a U.S.-based defendant involving computer code. Seamus Hughes, deputy director of George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, agreed and pointed to the computer skills credited to Osadzinski.



Russia repatriates 32 children of Islamic State members from Iraq

NOV. 19, 2019

MOSCOW —  Russia says it has repatriated another 32 children of members of the Islamic State group from Iraq.

Russia’s state TV on Tuesday showed footage of the children arriving at Zhukovsky airport outside Moscow. It said the children ranging from age 1 to 9 will undergo extensive medical checkups before relatives take them home.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the children had been held in asylum centers in Iraq or in prisons with their mothers.

Their arrival represents the fourth group of Russian children to be repatriated from Iraq. The Foreign Ministry said a total of 122 children have been brought home.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that over 4,000 Russian citizens and some 5,000 citizens of other ex-Soviet nations have joined the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.



US Sanctions Islamic State Financial, Recruitment Networks


The U.S. Government imposed sanctions on a number of networks that have been providing critical financial and logistical support to the Islamic State in the Middle East and South Asia.

The Treasury Department said its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated two Turkey-based Islamic State procurement agents and four ISIS-linked companies operating in Syria, Turkey, and across the Gulf and Europe.

Additionally, Treasury has taken action against Afghanistan-based Nejaat Social Welfare Organization, which has been transferring funds and supporting the activities of the terrorist group's branch in Afghanistan, ISIS - Khorasan, under cover of charity.

Treasury also took action against two senior officials affiliated with this organization. The designated companies are Sahloul Money Exchange Company, Al-Sultan Money Transfer Company, Tawasul Company, and ACL Ithalat Ihracat.

In 2016, Sahloul Money Exchange Company transferred thousands of dollars to ISIS operatives in Turkey, and facilitated the transfer of foreign donations to the terrorist organization's then-headquarters in Mosul, Iraq. In late 2017, Sahloul held deposits from ISIS-linked individuals seeking help to travel from Syria to Turkey.

Al-Sultan Money Transfer Company has been operating as an exchange that could be used to avoid scrutiny when transferring funds.

ISIS used many companies in Syria and Western Europe, including Tawasul, to transfer money among ISIS fighters.

Nejaat Social Welfare Organization was used as a cover company to facilitate the transfer of funds and support the activities of ISIS-K.

Nejaat collected donations on behalf of ISIS-K from individuals in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, and other Middle Eastern countries.

Nejaat's offices in Kabul and Jalalabad distributed the funds to ISIS-K commanders.

The pro-IS individuals that the Treasury designated are Ismail Bayaltun, Ahmet Bayaltun, Sayed Habib Ahmad Khan and Rohullah Wakil.

Turkey-based Ismail Bayaltun and his brother Ahmet have provided support to ISIS fighters —through a company they owned in Turkey, named ACL Ithalat Ihracat.

Kuwait-based Sayed Habib Ahmad Khan and Rohullah Wakil were the main operators of Nejaat.

As per Executive Order 13224 targeting terrorists, all properties and interests of the targeted networks in the United States will be blocked and reported to OFAC.

The Treasury has warned that persons that engage in transactions with the designated individuals may be exposed to sanctions or enforcement action.

"Following the highly successful operation against al-Baghdadi, the Trump Administration is resolved to completely destroy ISIS's remaining network of terror cells," said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. "The Treasury Department contributes to this effort in several ways, including by degrading ISIS's ability to recruit and arm fighters globally by stamping out its financial footholds," he added in a statement.

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US Charges Citizen With Aiding Islamic State Online Recruitment - Justice Dept.


WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - A US citizen faces charges of helping the Daesh terror group* develop computer code to preserve its recruitment propaganda following removal by social media censors, the Department of Justice said in a press release.

US Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole ordered Osadzinski, a US citizen, held without bond at a hearing on Tuesday and set a detention hearing for 22 November, the release said.

Osadzinski’s computer process would automatically copy and preserve Daesh postings, which social media companies target for removal, in an organized format, allowing continued access and dissemination by would be terrorists, according to the release.

Osadzinski was arrested after sharing his computer program with undercover FBI operatives posing as Daesh supporters, the release said.

The charges against Osadzinski carry a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

*Daesh (also known as IS/ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State) is a terrorist group banned in Russia.





Thugs Paid $60 for Each Arson Attack

Tue Nov 19, 2019

TEHRAN (FNA)- Thugs arrested during the recent riots have confessed that they receive $60 for each place set on fire, a senior Iranian security official said.

"One such instance pertains to a number of thugs arrested in one of the provinces who were given an advance payment of 300,000 tomans (nearly $30) to stage an arson attack and another 300,000 tomans once they did the mission," Commander of Hamedan province's Law Enforcement Police Brigadier General Bakhsh Ali Kamrani Saleh said on Tuesday.

He underlined the necessity for increasing vigilance so that people's righteous demands will not be misused by the rioters.

Iran's Judiciary Spokesman Gholam Hossein Esmayeeli announced on Tuesday that calm had been restored to the country after the recent riots that started following the government's gas price hike plan.

"Thanks to the Leader's remarks, efforts by the security and Law Enforcement Police forces and people's vigilance who separated their way from the ill-wishers and violence-seekers, calm has been restored in the country," Esmayeeli told reporters in Tehran.

"A large number of saboteurs and rioters and those who set fire at public properties and played a role in the destructions have been identified," he added.

Riots by a small number who had taken advantage of legitimate public protests against the government's gas price hike plan in Iran were directed at sowing chaos through targeted attacks on public and private properties, forcing law enforcement to step in to stop saboteurs.

Early estimates of an intelligence body showed that a sum of nearly 87,000 protesters and rioters had taken part in protest rallies and gatherings since Friday night, mostly (over 93%) men. A large number of protesters had only been present in the gathering centers and avoided joining the rioters in sabotage attacks on public and private properties.

"The identical methods of the main core of violent rioters discloses that they are fully trained individuals who have been prepared and looking forward for the situation to rise, unlike most people who have been taken off guard by the sudden hike in gas price," the report said.

The report showed that gatherings have been comprised of 50 to 1,500 people held in 100 regions of the country out of a number of 1,080 major towns and cities. The report says violent raids and damage inflicted on properties has been larger than what happened in February 2018 unrests.

Most cases of damage to properties had happened in Khuzestan, Tehran, Fars and Kerman provinces. The report says most casualties have resulted from armed outlaws' attacks on oil storage and military centers, adding that a number of police and popular forces have been martyred in these attacks.

Nearly 1,000 people were arrested across the country while over 100 banks and 57 big stores were set on fire or plundered in just one province.

The Iranian intelligence ministry announced in a statement on Sunday that it had identified several rioters who misused the recent protest rallies against the gasoline price hikes to destroy public and private properties.

"The main culprits behind the riots in the past two days have been identified and proper measures are being adopted and the honorable nation will be informed about its result later," the statement said.



Tehran Condemns Washington’s Hypocritical Support for Rioters

Tue Nov 19, 2019

TEHRAN (FNA)- Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif lashed out at American officials who are “hypocritically” talking about support for the people of Iran, reminding them that this is the US which is using economic terrorism against his country’s ordinary people who have been denied medicine and food because of Washington’s bans against Tehran.

Speaking on Monday evening, Zarif condemned the officials of the United States for their hypocritical show of support for the Iranian people during recent protests gas price rise in Iran.

Iran’s diplomatic chief reacted to the “interventionist and dishonest” remarks by US officials, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in support of rioters in Iran, noting that the Iranian constitution acknowledges people's right to protest.

Zarif added that the Iranian people do not need the show of support from the officials of the regime which has put them under economic pressures in a bid to make them give in to their illegitimate demands. He added that the US regime has even sanctioned food and medicine for the Iranian nation.

"A regime that bans food and medicine for the ordinary [Iranian] people, including the elderly and the sick Iranians, by economic terrorism can never show its disgraceful support for the Iranian people. Mr. Pompeo must first be held to account for declared acts of terrorism and crimes against humanity vis-a-vis the Iranian people."

The foreign minister further condemned the European countries such as France and Germany that made meddlesome remarks on riots in Iran earlier on Monday, saying, "Countries that have failed to show any of their will and power against the US economic terrorism [against Iran] and are now providing political and field support to riots and actions against public order in Iran in a bid to hide their inability vis-a-vis [the United States] will be responsible for all the consequences of their dangerous provocations."

Late on Sunday, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi lashed out at Pompeo who said that Washington was supportive of Iranians in recent protests against gas price rise, adding that what the White House is backing is not common people but rioters and anarchists who are turning peaceful demonstrations into violent scenes.

Mousavi denounced Pompeo’s support for rioters who rode the tide of fuel price hike-related protests in the country during the past few days, saying that the US is not sympathetic toward the Iranian people, but supports spread of chaos.

On Friday, Iran began rationing gas and substantially increased the price of fuel, saying the revenues would be used to assist the needy.

The decision sparked sporadic rallies in a number of Iranian cities, some of which were marred by violence as opportunist elements tried to exploit the situation and ride the wave of peaceful protests against hiking fuel prices.

Consequently, the demonstrations turned violent in some cities, with reports of clashes between security forces and certain elements vandalizing public property.

Pompeo took to Twitter on the same day, supporting the violent acts of rioters and writing, “As I said to the people of Iran almost a year and a half ago: The United States is with you.”

Reacting to Pompeo’s “interventionist” remarks, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said, “The dignified people of Iran are well aware that such hypocritical remarks contain no honest sympathy and the [violent] actions of a group of anarchists and saboteurs who are supported by the likes of him are by no means in line with the conduct and behavior of the majority of the understanding and insightful Iranian people.”

Referring to malicious intentions of the government of the United States, particularly its secretary of state, toward the Iranian people, Mousavi said, “It is interesting that [Pompeo] is sympathizing with the people who are under pressure of the United States’ economic terrorism. He had already explicitly said that the people of Iran must be kept hungry until they give in to ‘our demands’.”

In an interview with BBC Persian last November, the US secretary of state said that Iranian officials must listen to Washington “if they want their people to eat”.

Zarif slammed his American counterpart’s starvation threat, stressing the Islamic Republic will survive and even advance despite Washington’s sanctions.

In a post on his official Twitter account, Zarif said Pompeo’s open threat to starve the Iranian nation was “a crime against humanity” and “a desperate attempt to impose US whims on Iran.”

Iran has irrefutable evidence that a bunch of anti-Revolution elements have been trying to turn protests against gas price rise into violent riots, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani was quoted by a parliament member as saying on Sunday.

"According to proofs and documents, anti-Revolutionary figures supported the unrest on Saturday," Ahmad Amirabadi quoted Shamkhani saying.

“Shamkhani referred to some documents proving that in the past two days, some groups organized by anti-Revolutionary figures, carrying weapons, attacked Iranian police forces and made severe damages to banks and other public and private places,” he added.

Also on Sunday, Spokesman of Law Enforcement Police Brigadier General Ahmad Nourian announced that the police forces will not allow insecurity and disruption of the general order during the protest rallies against the gasoline rationing.

"The Law Enforcement Police will act upon its natural and legal duty and will not compromise those who disrupt the order and security and will identify and confront the ringleaders and their field agents," General Nourian said.

He referred to the Friday and Saturday rallies to protest at the hike in prices and rationing of gasoline in Iran that in some cases turned violent, and said the police will act upon its responsibilities to restore tranquility and security based on people's demands.

Riots by a small number who have taken advantage of legitimate public protests against the government's gas price hike plan in Iran are directed at sowing chaos through targeted attacks on public and private properties, forcing law enforcement to step in to stop saboteurs.

Early estimates of an intelligence body showed that a sum of nearly 87,000 protesters and rioters have taken part in protest rallies and gatherings since Friday night, mostly (over 93%) men. A large number of protesters have only been present in the gathering centers and avoided joining the rioters in sabotage attacks on public and private properties.

"The identical methods of the main core of violent rioters discloses that they are fully trained individuals who have been prepared and looking forward for the situation to rise, unlike most people who have been taken off guard by the sudden hike in gas price," the report said.

The report shows that gatherings have been comprised of 50 to 1,500 people held in 100 regions of the country out of a number of 1,080 major towns and cities. The report says violent raids and damage inflicted on properties has been larger than what happened in February 2018 unrests.

Most cases of damage to properties has happened in Khuzestan, Tehran, Fars and Kerman provinces. The report says most casualties have resulted from armed outlaws' attacks on oil storage and military centers, adding that a number of police and popular forces have been martyred in these attacks.

Nearly 1,000 people have been arrested across the country while over 100 banks and 57 big stores have been set on fire or plundered in just one province.

The Iranian intelligence ministry announced in a statement on Sunday that it had identified several rioters who misused the recent protest rallies against the gasoline price hikes to destroy public and private properties.

"The main culprits behind the riots in the past two days have been identified and proper measures are being adopted and the honorable nation will be informed about its result later," the statement said.

It added that the intelligence ministry will decisively confront those who foment insecurity and disrupt tranquility of people.

"Certainly, the enemies who have pinned hope on these riots will have no achievements but shame and embarrassment like the past," the statement underlined.

Very late on Thursday, the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company (NIOPDC) issued a statement to recount details for new prices of fuels in the country, which was followed by another statement in early on Friday by Vice-President and Head of the Management and Planning Organization (MPO) Mohammad Baqer Nobakht who said that the revenues will be allocated to offering subsidies to 60 million people.

According to the new pricing echelon, the subsidized fee of 10,000 rials (almost 8.3 cents) per liter is increased to 15,000 rials (almost 12.5 cents) per liter, a 50% rise, which is offered at a limited rate of 60 liters per month, a rationing that did not exist for the last 6 years, for private cars with a rationing card.

However, the price for non-rationed supply of the gas is still subsidized and below the level of price offered in majority of the neighboring countries. The non-rationed price is set at 30,000 rials (almost 25 cents) per liter and there is no limitation for buying non-rationed fuel.

The statement, further added that the price for the compressed natural gas (CNG) and diesel gas will remain unchanged.

After the announcement of the NIOPDC was issued, MPO Head Nobakht said, in a statement that all the revenues collected from the increase in gas prices will be allocated to increase help packages which are offered to 18,000,000 households of 60,000,000 million people.

The move is hoped to demotivate fuel smugglers who come up with very creative methods to smuggle the fuel out of Iran to neighboring countries.



Israel fails to drive wedge between Hamas, Islamic Jihad

November 19, 2019

As the Israeli army attacked the Gaza Strip last week, its media launched a systematic campaign aiming to drive a wedge between Hamas and Islamic Jihad by portraying the confrontation as only against Islamic Jihad, but not Hamas.

Nothing the manoeuvre, the factions issued joint statements stressing the unity of their path and fate.

The Israeli behaviour during the recent attack on Gaza was reflected in the neo-colonial policy of “divide and conquer” by neutralising the other Palestinian factions, led by Hamas, and singling out Islamic Jihad. However, the presence of a joint operations room means Israel was unable to achieve what it had wanted. The Palestinian military wings’ operations room carries out coordination, cooperation, intelligence exchanges, identifies targets and times rocket launches.

I learned that from the first moments of Bahaa Abu Al-Ata’s assassination, the Israeli occupation sent a message to the Palestinian factions, beginning with Hamas, through mediators saying that Israel’s battle was against Islamic Jihad and that it did not have a problem with any other faction.

However, Hamas and the rest of the factions ignored this Israeli misguidance and launched a united response in the joint operations room, which consists of senior-level military officers from each faction.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad are the largest Islamic factions in the Palestinian arena, and despite being born of the Muslim Brotherhood, this has not prevented their separation, each according to the Islamic vision adopted for themselves, while agreeing on matters related to the resistance to the Israeli occupation.

Hamas’ political charter devotes a special clause to its position on Islamic movements, which states that “Hamas views other Islamic movements with respect and appreciation. If Hamas disagrees with them on any matter or idea, it agreed with them on other matters and ideas and sees these movements as employing jurisprudence as long as their actions are within the limits of the Islamic circle.

The beginning of the relations between the two movements began with the desire of Sheikh Ahmed Yasin, the founder of Hamas, to start military action immediately after the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in 1967, but the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood decided it needed to postpone the practice of armed resistance against the occupation and focus on preparing generations capable of practicing resistance and preparing society to embrace and support the resistance.

However, this motivated a group of enthusiastic Brotherhood youth, most notably Fathi Shikaki, to establish the Islamic Jihad movement in the early 1980s, in order to engage in jihad against the occupation, like other nationalist and leftist movements and forces that were known for doing so in the 1960s and 1970s.

Hamas was launched in late 1987 and quickly played a major role in the First Intifada. The two factions had their own programme, activities and strikes that were separate from one another. Neither sought to disrupt the other, but there was some friction on the ground in the competition over influence in the mosques for example and seeking to prove themselves.

However, the two movements continued to emphasise Islamic unity and formed a common front to counter the political concessions made by the PLO leadership. They participated in the establishment of the Alliance of Ten Factions, in a meeting in Tehran held on the side-lines of the Conference in Support of the Intifada in October 1991, which stood against the peace settlement project and the Madrid conference.

On the side-lines of the Conference in Support of the Intifada, the Hamas and Jihad delegations met and resumed talks between them. The aim was to reach unity between them through three phases: coordination, the establishment of a front, and unity of the two movements. The relationship between the two movements was and still is very strong because their shared Islamic thought and their very similar political program bring them together.

In December 1992, Israel expelled 416 Islamic leaders from Palestine to Marj Al-Zuhoor in Lebanon, most of whom were members of Hamas, including 16 members of Islamic Jihad. This exile was an opportunity for the two sides to get to know each other and coordinate programmes of steadfastness and return to Palestine.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad agreed to confront the Oslo Accords and continue military resistance. They both became active within the Alliance of Ten Factions and were subject to pursuit by the PA security forces. This pressure on them did not ease until the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000.

Hamas and the Islamic Jihad boycotted the PA presidential and legislative elections in early 1996 and worked together to carry out military operations. Hamas provided logistical support while members of the Islamic Jihad executed the operations.

The Second Intifada from 2000 to 2005 marked a turning point in the performance of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as they were both skilled at resistance and faced a security crackdown at the hands of the Palestinian Authority.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad boycotted the Palestinian presidential elections in January 2005, and were among the Palestinian factions that signed the Cairo agreement in 2005. This set the tone for their entry into the PLO and to re-arranging the internal Palestinian home. They participated in the municipal elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, allying in a number of them.

Hamas decided to participate in the 2006 Legislative Council elections based on its convictions regarding protecting the resistance program, reform, combatting corruption, serving the masses and preventing political concessions. Meanwhile, Islamic Jihad boycotted the elections on the grounds that they involve the Oslo agreement and its conditions.

The relationship between the two movements continued in a positive way after Hamas formed a national unity government headed by Ismail Haniyeh in March 2007. Islamic Jihad promised to commit “as much as possible” to the truce with Israel to help arrange the lifting of the siege imposed on the Palestinian people and the Palestinian government after Hamas’ victory in the elections.

After the chaos and disorder practiced by the PA security services against the Hamas government, the government was forced to resort to a “military solution” in Gaza. However, some dubious parties worked to strain and fuel sedition between the two movements, but the joint meetings between them aiming to better coordinate positions did not stop.

When Israel carried out its multiple wars and military assaults on the Gaza Strip between 2008 and 2014, the two movements stood side by side in the path of resistance and, together with other Palestinian factions, played heroic roles in the face of Israeli attacks.

To date there are calls for greater coordination between the two factions, while others believe they can continue as two independent groups, either way, efforts to spread sedition between them is something they are on the lookout for and working hard to avoid.



Palestinian Islamic Jihad provokes Israel and finds itself a lonely combatant

By Clifford D. May

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

In Gaza last week, Israel fought a battle but not against Hamas. That’s the news. The rest will be commentary.

The battle was between Israel and a group known as Palestinian Islamic Jihad or PIJ (pronounced like the first syllable of pigeon), a terrorist organization (so designated by the United States, the EU and others) whose goal is burn Israel to the ground and establish an Islamic state on its ashes.

PIJ is Hamas’ ally, but also Hamas’ rival. Estimated to have 6,000 fighters compared to Hamas’ 30,000-man army, it was founded by Palestinians inspired by the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.

Since then, it has been supported and directed by the theocrats in Tehran who regard the annihilation of Israel as a goal that unites Islamists, whether Shia like themselves, or Sunni such as PIJ and Hamas.

Hamas is more tolerant of PIJ than of its Sunni ally/rival, Fatah, the controlling faction in the Palestinian Authority. In 2007, Hamas and the PA/Fatah went to war over who would rule Gaza. When the smoke cleared and the blood dried, Hamas was the victor, and today PA President Mahmoud Abbas dares not set foot on Gazan soil.

While Hamas leaders also look to Tehran for backing and are respectful of the ruling mullahs, they do not welcome PIJ escalating the conflict with Israel either on orders from those mullahs or its own initiative. The conflict last week is the result of PIJ doing exactly that.

In the past, Israel has enforced a rule: Since Hamas controls Gaza, Hamas will be held responsible for any attacks coming from that territory. This time around, Israel made an exception.



IRGC Commander: Sustainable Security Prevails over Fars Province

Tue Nov 19, 2019

TEHRAN (FNA)- Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in the Southern province of Fars Brigadier General Seyed Hashem Qiasi underlined that sustainable security has been established in the province after the recent riots, adding that several ringleaders of anti-revolutionary groups have been arrested.

"Sustainable security has been established in Fars province," General Qiasi told reporters in Shiraz on Tuesday.

He added that the anti-revolutionary groups had plotted to foment insecurity and damage the public properties but their ringleaders were identified and detained.

General Qiasi said that a number of other rioters are also being chased by security forces.

Riots by a small number who had taken advantage of legitimate public protests against the government's gas price hike plan in Iran were directed at sowing chaos through targeted attacks on public and private properties, forcing law enforcement to step in to stop saboteurs.

Early estimates of an intelligence body showed that a sum of nearly 87,000 protesters and rioters had taken part in protest rallies and gatherings since Friday night, mostly (over 93%) men. A large number of protesters had only been present in the gathering centers and avoided joining the rioters in sabotage attacks on public and private properties.

"The identical methods of the main core of violent rioters discloses that they are fully trained individuals who have been prepared and looking forward for the situation to rise, unlike most people who have been taken off guard by the sudden hike in gas price," the report said.

The report showed that gatherings have been comprised of 50 to 1,500 people held in 100 regions of the country out of a number of 1,080 major towns and cities. The report says violent raids and damage inflicted on properties has been larger than what happened in February 2018 unrests.

Most cases of damage to properties had happened in Khuzestan, Tehran, Fars and Kerman provinces. The report says most casualties have resulted from armed outlaws' attacks on oil storage and military centers, adding that a number of police and popular forces have been martyred in these attacks.

Nearly 1,000 people were arrested across the country while over 100 banks and 57 big stores were set on fire or plundered in just one province.

The Iranian intelligence ministry announced in a statement on Sunday that it had identified several rioters who misused the recent protest rallies against the gasoline price hikes to destroy public and private properties.

"The main culprits behind the riots in the past two days have been identified and proper measures are being adopted and the honorable nation will be informed about its result later," the statement said.



Several Policemen Wounded by Rioters in Tehran Province

Tue Nov 19, 2019

TEHRAN (FNA)- Several policemen have been wounded in riots in Tehran province in the last few days.

Mojtaba, a 22-year-old policemen, was in the town of Shahr-e Quds near Tehran city when the rioters fired at his right foot with a Winchester gun.

In an interview with FNA, he explained that he was sent on the mission after his commanders heard that a number of rioters with firearms were present among the protesting people.

"I heard the sound of firing and then felt a burning in my foot and I fell on the ground," Mojtaba said.

On Saturday morning when the rioters blocked a highway in Tehran, several policemen were sent to the scene to open the way for people and ambulances on emergency missions.

One of the rioters who was driving a Xantia passenger car ran over a police officer and fled the scene. People helped the wounded officer by picking him up to the hospital.

In another incident in Robat Karim district in Tehran city, Jalil, 34, a police commander was attacked by the rioters and one of his hands is numb now after being severely beaten. The rioters also attacked him with knife and injured different parts of his body, including his lungs.

"The rioters have squished the cartilages of his hand in a way that he will never be able to use it," Jalil's wife said while crying.

A number of other police forces, mostly between 20 to 22, have also been wounded by the rioters and hospitalized.

Riots by a small number who have taken advantage of legitimate public protests against the government's gas price hike plan in Iran are directed at sowing chaos through targeted attacks on public and private properties, forcing law enforcement to step in to stop saboteurs.

Early estimates of an intelligence body showed that a sum of nearly 87,000 protesters and rioters have taken part in protest rallies and gatherings since Friday night, mostly (over 93%) men. A large number of protesters have only been present in the gathering centers and avoided joining the rioters in sabotage attacks on public and private properties.

"The identical methods of the main core of violent rioters discloses that they are fully trained individuals who have been prepared and looking forward for the situation to rise, unlike most people who have been taken off guard by the sudden hike in gas price," the report said.

The report shows that gatherings have been comprised of 50 to 1,500 people held in 100 regions of the country out of a number of 1,080 major towns and cities. The report says violent raids and damage inflicted on properties has been larger than what happened in February 2018 unrests.

Most cases of damage to properties has happened in Khuzestan, Tehran, Fars and Kerman provinces. The report says most casualties have resulted from armed outlaws' attacks on oil storage and military centers, adding that a number of police and popular forces have been martyred in these attacks.

Nearly 1,000 people have been arrested across the country while over 100 banks and 57 big stores have been set on fire or plundered in just one province.

The Iranian intelligence ministry announced in a statement on Sunday that it had identified several rioters who misused the recent protest rallies against the gasoline price hikes to destroy public and private properties.

"The main culprits behind the riots in the past two days have been identified and proper measures are being adopted and the honorable nation will be informed about its result later," the statement said.

It added that the intelligence ministry will decisively confront those who foment insecurity and disrupt tranquility of people.

"Certainly, the enemies who have pinned hope on these riots will have no achievements but shame and embarrassment like the past," the statement underlined.

In relevant remarks on Sunday, Spokesman of Law Enforcement Police Brigadier General Ahmad Nourian announced that the police forces will not allow insecurity and disruption of the general order during the protest rallies against the gasoline rationing.

"The Law Enforcement Police will act upon its natural and legal duty and will not compromise those who disrupt the order and security and will identify and confront the ringleaders and their field agents," General Nourian said on Sunday.

He referred to the Friday and Saturday rallies to protest at the hike in prices and rationing of gasoline in Iran that in some cases turned violent, and said the police will act upon its responsibilities to restore tranquility and security based on people's demands.



Governor-General: Heavy Damage Inflicted by Riots in Kermanshah Province

Tue Nov 19, 2019

TEHRAN (FNA)- Governor-General of Kermanshah province Houshang Bazvand said that the rioters who misused people's protests against gasoline rationing have destroyed a number of public and private properties, killing one police officer.

Reports from Kermanshah province in the past few days showed that rioters have attacked banks, gas stations, fire trucks, vehicles, stores and other public and private properties and martyred an officer after striking a police station.

Bazvand expressed regret over damages and Martyrdom of Major Javaheri, and told reporters, "The rioters have misused the (government's) plan to revise gasoline prices and inflicted heavy damage on the province."

He called on the private sector and people harmed in the riots to file lawsuits against the rioters with the provincial courts.

A number of other provinces were also targeted by the rioters in the past few days.

Tens of public buildings and properties, including banks, were destroyed by rioters in Isfahan province during the protest rallies against gasoline price hike, provincial officials declared on Monday.

"69 banks have been damaged, 28 buses have been set on fire, Isfahan province's municipality buildings have come under attack and 2 bases of Basij (voluntary) forces have also been damaged," Deputy Mayor of Isfahan province Hossein Amiri told FNA.

He also added that 2 telecommunication stations, 2 police kiosks, 7 gas stations, several municipality vehicles, 3 houses near banks and 3 government buildings have also received damage in the past few days in Isfahan province.

Meantime, an official at the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) announced that the security forces had arrested 150 ringleaders of the recent riots in Alborz province near Tehran.

He added that the detainees have confessed that they had been paid by individuals in and outside the country to damage public properties and launch arson attacks.

In another development on Sunday night, a number of outlaws who had attacked the office and house of Yazd province's Friday Prayers Leader Ayatollah Nasseri Yazdi with cold weapons were arrested by the security forces.

Riots by a small number who have taken advantage of legitimate public protests against the government's gas price hike plan in Iran are directed at sowing chaos through targeted attacks on public and private properties, forcing law enforcement to step in to stop saboteurs.

Early estimates of an intelligence body showed that a sum of nearly 87,000 protesters and rioters have taken part in protest rallies and gatherings since Friday night, mostly (over 93%) men. A large number of protesters have only been present in the gathering centers and avoided joining the rioters in sabotage attacks on public and private properties.

"The identical methods of the main core of violent rioters discloses that they are fully trained individuals who have been prepared and looking forward for the situation to rise, unlike most people who have been taken off guard by the sudden hike in gas price," the report said.

The report shows that gatherings have been comprised of 50 to 1,500 people held in 100 regions of the country out of a number of 1,080 major towns and cities. The report says violent raids and damage inflicted on properties has been larger than what happened in February 2018 unrests.

Most cases of damage to properties has happened in Khuzestan, Tehran, Fars and Kerman provinces. The report says most casualties have resulted from armed outlaws' attacks on oil storage and military centers, adding that a number of police and popular forces have been martyred in these attacks.

Nearly 1,000 people have been arrested across the country while over 100 banks and 57 big stores have been set on fire or plundered in just one province.

The Iranian intelligence ministry announced in a statement on Sunday that it had identified several rioters who misused the recent protest rallies against the gasoline price hikes to destroy public and private properties.

"The main culprits behind the riots in the past two days have been identified and proper measures are being adopted and the honorable nation will be informed about its result later," the statement said.



Rouhani Reiterates Enhancement of Iran-Pakistan Economic Interactions

Tue Nov 19, 2019

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani underlined the necessity for Tehran and Islamabad to upgrade their economic interactions, and underlined the need for removing obstacles to the expansion of ties between the two neighboring nations.

Speaking at a Tuesday meeting with Pakistan’s Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, President Rouhani said that Tehran-Islamabad economic ties must exceed the current level, adding that the two sides should not be satisfied with the current level of relations and volume of trade.

The Iranian president called for further efforts, better mechanisms, and removal of obstacles to reach a higher level of trade interactions between the two neighboring countries.

The Iranian head of the state then touched upon regional issues, and re-voiced his country’s support for the establishment of region-wide peace and security, adding that Tehran considers peace in the Middle East as a key to the region’s prosperity.

He thanked Pakistan for taking good steps in contributing to security along the shared borderline between the two countries, adding that Tehran and Islamabad are both determined to fight against the problem of smuggling and insecurity in their border regions.

The Pakistani commander, for his part in the meeting, reassured that Islamabad will tap into all capacities to expand bilateral ties with Iran in all areas of trade and economy, voicing his country’s readiness for measures to enhance cooperation between the two countries.

General Bajwa underlined that the shared borderline between the two countries should turn into a border of peace and brotherhood, adding that both sides are willing to enhance security and establish lasting peace along their shared border.

He highlighted that peace and security along the border are the pre-requirements for bolstering economic and commercial relations between the two sides.

In another meeting in Tehran, General Bajwa met with Commander of the Iranian Army Major General Seyed Abdolrahim Mousavi, and the two examined avenues for broadening military cooperation between the two neighboring countries.

Mousavi said that the two countries enjoy many religious commonalities and have had cooperation in different fields from the distant past.

He noted that Iranian and Pakistani armies have numerous cooperation in different areas such as the exchange of students and holding educational programs, hoping that these relations would further enhance in the future.

For his part, the Pakistani commander welcomed bilateral relations with Iran saying that his force is ready to boost cooperation with the Iranian Army in various fields.

He said that the two countries have shared interests and are facing common threats that require the two countries to increase interaction.

The two commanders discussed ways to enhance bilateral cooperation in many areas such as border security.

Heading a high-ranking military and security delegation, the Pakistani Army commander arrived in Tehran on Monday. General Bajwa held a meeting on Monday with Chief of General Staff of Iranian Armed Force Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri. He is also slated to hold a meeting with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

 Last month, Iranian Ambassador to Islamabad Mehdi Honardoust and Pakistani Minister for Defense Production Zubaida Jalal Khan, in a meeting in Rawalpindi, exchanged views on ways to boost military and defense cooperation.

Honardoust met and held talks with Jalal Khan in Rawalpindi of Pakistan on strengthening bilateral relations and cooperation in defense production.

Expanding economic cooperation alongside regional cooperation with Pakistan is one of the most important issues for Iran, Honardoust said.

Referring to the close relationship between Iran and Pakistan, Pakistani Minister for Defense Production mentioned that her country is ready for any cooperation and support.

Iran is pursuing a strategy of broader military cooperation with all countries which are enjoying friendly ties with Tehran.

In September, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami and his Syrian counterpart Ali Abdullah Ayyoub in a phone conversation underscored the need for increasing cooperation between the two countries to promote peace and stability in the region and Syria.

Back in July, Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi underlined that establishment of security in international waterways and seas will be guaranteed through cooperation between Tehran and Moscow's naval forces.

"Iran and Russia enjoy highly powerful navies at the regional and trans-regional levels and definitely, cooperation between the two forces will benefit both countries," he added.

Downing of the US Global Hawk drone by Iran in the Persian Gulf prompted a rethink within the Indian military establishment, led by the air force, over the acquisition of American-made armed drones on account of their cost and questions over their survivability.



Zarif, Pakistani Commander Discuss Case of Abducted Iranian Border Guards

Tue Nov 19, 2019

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in a Tuesday meeting with Pakistan’s Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, exchanged views on the latest status of Iranian border guards kidnapped by a Pakistan-based terrorist group.

During the meeting in Tehran today, the two sides discussed a broad range of issues including the latest status of Iranian border guards who have been kidnapped by Pakistani-based terrorist groups, regional cooperation between Tehran and Islamabad, developments in Afghanistan, and bilateral ties in areas of politics, economy, military and security.

Fifteen Iranian Basijis (volunteer forces) and border guard forces were abducted by terrorists in the border of Iran's province of Sistan and Baluchistan with Pakistan on October 15 by Jeish al-Adl terrorist group. Five of them were later released through the efforts of the Pakistani government on November 15.

In March, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Ground Force Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour said efforts would go on till the release of the remaining Iranian border guards who are kept hostage by Pakistan-based terrorists.

Brigadier General Pakpour said on March 20 that efforts are still underway to release the remaining Iranian border guards who are kept hostage by Pakistan-based terrorists.

In the wake of consultations between Iranian and Pakistani political, security and intelligence officials together with the 24/7 efforts made by security forces, a number of the Iranian border guards will be released soon, he added.

The commander made the remarks an hour before the release of 4 other border guards on March 20 who had been kidnapped by terrorists in mid-October. Late in November, a statement by the IRGC said that 5 of the kidnapped border guards returned home. There are still 6 other Iranian border guards in the hands of terrorists.

An hour after Pakpour made the remarks, former Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi affirmed that four of the 15 Iranian guards, abducted by terrorists near the country's border with Pakistan, were released.

Qassemi thanked the Pakistani government for its efforts to facilitate the release of the guards, expressing hope that the others to be released soon.

In May, Commander of the Iranian Border Guards Brigadier General Qassem Rezayee said that full security prevails at all bordering areas of the country, stressing that Iran and Pakistan have been able to defuse the enemies' plots at common borders through cooperation.



Economic Sanctions Are Testing The Resilience Of Iran’s Islamic System

NOVEMBER 19, 2019


The popular demonstrations in nearly all Iranian cities that followed the increase in the price of gasoline are only one symptom of the growing challenges facing Iran’s Islamic system. From a purely economic rationale, the price increase is justified as a means to regulate the fuel consumption, which, because of its cheap price, is comparatively high. However, in view of Iran’s current economic conditions characterized by mounting inflation and economic stagnation, this price increase acted as a last straw on people’s willingness to accept the government’s decision with equanimity.

The government has tried to pacify the populace by stressing that the revenue yielded from the price increase will be distributed to nearly 60 million economically vulnerable people. However, the revenue obtained by the price increase amounting to roughly $2 billion, depending how the exchange rate is calculated, when divided among such a large group would be insufficient to ease their economic hardships. Moreover, not all of the revenue gained could be spent on living support for the people. A few days ago, President Hassan Rouhani had complained that because of the fall in oil revenues, Iran faced a $21 billion shortfall in meeting the country’s needs.

The increase in the price of gasoline is only one manifestation of Iran’s economic and financial woes resulting from the economic sanctions. The main culprit has been the loss of Iran’s oil income. According to OPEC’s latest monthly report in November 2019, Iran’s oil exports have fallen by 1.65 million barrels per day since the imposition of U.S. sanctions. Moreover, because of banking restrictions, Iran faces difficulty in repatriating the foreign exchange earned by its non-oil exports.

Growing Intra-Elite Discord

A major consequence of economic hardships in Iran has been the intensification of intra-elite disputes. Even before the price increases, economic problems were causing serious tensions between the executive branch, especially Rouhani and the hardline-dominated judiciary and part of the parliament. These tensions became very obvious during the so-called anti-corruption campaign launched by the recently minted head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi. The hardliners accused the government of having wasted $18 billion by the misuse of currency at the lower official rate. Meanwhile, the government complained that the anticorruption campaign did not go after the big villains, and posed questions of its own regarding the misuse of $2 billion. In short, both sides engaged in a bitter blame game.

More seriously, in an unprecedented move, the Friday prayer leader of the holy city of Mashhad and the father in law of the head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Alam al Hoda, demanded that $10 billion allegedly earned from religious tourism to Mashhad should be returned to the city. In addition to exaggerating the amount gained—the total of Iran’s earnings from tourism amounts to roughly $ 7billion—this demand essentially challenged the government’s authority over the city of Mashhad. This challenge, too, is nothing new. Some religious circles have for some time suggested that the holy cities of Mashhad and Qum should become autonomous on the model of the Vatican state.

In a counter-offensive, Rouhani complained of the lack of sufficient authority while having to bear the responsibility for the consequences of decisions taken by others. He demanded more authority and was shouted down by the hardliners, who claimed that he had more authority than the previous presidents. His request, of course, was a veiled criticism of the Supreme Leader, who makes the final decisions on important issues. Rouhani even suggested that on the most serious issues facing the country, people should be consulted through a referendum. This proposal, too, was harshly criticized by the hardliners.

However, while the people are increasingly disillusioned with Rouhani’s performance, there is a growing awareness that the greatest part of the blame for the government’s shortcomings lie elsewhere. The entry of the Supreme Leader into the dispute over the gasoline price increases indicates that the current situation of responsibility without authority may not last forever. It can also make the Leader directly answerable to the people whereas until now he had mostly remained above the fray.

Structural Problems of the Islamic System: Conflict Between Revolutionary and National Goals

Iran’s latest crisis also highlights the underlying problems of its hybrid Islamic system and its double-headed government, plus the conflict between Iran’s national interests and the revolutionary goals of its hardliners.

Ostensibly, Iran’s political system is a republic based on the principle of popular will. At the same time,  however, it is based on the guardianship of the Faqih and the supremacy of Islamic law, and a large role for clerical figures in various aspects of government. These two concepts are completely at odds. More seriously, however, since the foundation of the system, its survival and the perpetuation of the Islamic revolution rather than Iran’s security and wellbeing has been the system’s main goal. For this purpose, a variety of civil and military organizations, most notably the Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Basij, have been established. These institutions have made governing the country very difficult and have made consecutive governments unable to pursue policies best suited to achieve Iran’s national interests. The current stalemate in U.S.-Iran relations, in addition to the Trump administration’s maximum pressure strategy, is largely because of the influence of this parallel government and its revolutionary organizations.

Continued economic pressures are certain to exacerbate these structural problems as the interests of Iran and its people increasingly grow at odds with material and ideological interests of the hardliner’s parallel government. As the hardliners’ revolutionary ideas and goals are rapidly losing their appeal, the sustaining of this double headed government and its policies are becoming more difficult. If the hardliners insist in maintaining the current conditions, they may have to do it by force.

Is There A Way Out?

Clearly, Iran’s current conditions, especially the perpetuation of revolution, cannot be sustained much longer. Economic sanctions and resulting difficulties have only made this reality clearer. The question remains how this situation can end. The committed opponents of the regime want a total overthrow of the system if need be through violent means, which would plunge Iran into chaos and even civil war. The regime’s opponents, including those abroad and separatists who want the country’s disintegration, are a divided group and lack a charismatic leader who could mobilize the people. Therefore, in case of a violent overthrow of the regime, as happened after the Islamic Revolution in 1979 when the diverse opponents of the monarchy began to fight amongst themselves, the collapse of the current system will generate similar infightings among opposition groups. In 1979, there was no appetite for Iran’s dismemberment among major international and regional players, with the exception of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. This time, however, in case of turmoil in Iran, outside actors, including some of its Arab neighbors, will certainly become involved with unpredictable consequences for the country. In fact, they already manipulate Iran’s difficulties.

The other way out is for the hardliners to wake up, admit the untenability of present conditions and agree to wide ranging reforms. These reforms would include, the elimination of parallel military organizations and their incorporation in the national army, the weakening of clerical influence in politics, cultural liberalization, greater respect for people’s wishes, tolerance  of diverging opinions, and most important, prioritizing Iran’s national interests over revolutionary and Islamist goals .

However, the failure of past efforts to reform the system from within, leaves one with little optimism that they would be undertaken, thus leaving Iran with a clouded future.



The trouble with Turkey’s global mosque-building project

Nov 19 2019

Following his high-profile White House meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, few noticed that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ended his one-day trip to the United States last week with a visit to a vast Turkish-built mosque compound in Maryland. Yet the latter stop may have been more meaningful.

Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has spent nearly half a billion dollars to build more than 100 mosques abroad in recent years, including in the United States, Germany, Britain, Russia, Ghana, Albania, The Philippines and Kyrgyzstan. Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs, or Diyanet, oversees more than 2,000 mosques outside the country’s borders, including some 900 in Germany.

Leading U.S. magazines The Atlantic and Foreign Affairs and British broadcaster the BBC have described Turkish mosque building and Islamic outreach as a soft power project through which Turkey hopes to extend its influence and play a leadership role for Muslims worldwide.

Erdoğan often flies in to attend mosque openings, as in Cologne and Bishkek last year. “The mosque and its complex will be instrumental in the renewal of religion, language, history, culture and conversation that existed between Anatolia and Central Asia,” he said in Bishkek in September 2018.

But David L. Phillips, director of Columbia University’s Program on Peace-building and Rights and former senior adviser at the U.S. State Department, believes Turkish-financed mosques outside its borders propagate political Islam and are sources of division and discord, and should therefore be banned.

“There is no reason to have a negative view of Islam, it’s a religion of peace,” he told Ahval in a podcast. “When it’s manipulated by politicians like Erdoğan, it becomes a religion of the sword. These mosques that Turkey is financing through its ministry of religious affairs aren’t really places of worship, they are places for radicalism and mobilisation.”

Phillips points to reports that Turkey’s government allowed foreign fighters to travel through Turkey to join Islamic State (ISIS) and that its intelligence agency sent weapons to the extreme jihadist group. He also argues that Erdoğan protected ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed in Syria by U.S. special forces just 5 km from the Turkish border, and that Turkish-backed rebels in Syria (formerly known as the Free Syrian Army, or FSA), who have been accused of roadside executions and targeting civilians, are also extremists.

“We just need to recognise that Turkey is a state sponsor of terrorism, that the FSA and ISIS are one and the same, they are blood brothers,” he said.

Ankara-based political analyst Dr. Ali Bakeer takes a different view. “Saying that Turkey is following some radical version of Islam is not true at all,” he told Ahval in a podcast. 

Turkish Islam has for decades been seen as more moderate than the strict Salafi interpretations pushed by countries like Saudi Arabia. Yet under the Islamist AKP many believe this has begun to change.

Lorenzo Vidino, head of Georgetown University’s Program on Extremism, told Ahval earlier this year that Turkey had become the world’s leading supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, which some see as an extremist group. Early this month, a video released by the Diyanet sparked an outcry on social media for its outdated depiction of domestic life and the role of women.

“Dear young women of Turkey, please just ignore this utterly ridiculous and sexist video,” Turkish novelist Elif Shafak said on Twitter. “You are not domestic slaves. Enough of this patriarchal nonsense.”

Shafak and other writers have in recent months been caught up in a government crackdown on literature as conservative Turkish authorities have sought to bar the publication of what they view as obscenities, including scenes about paedophilia and bisexuality.

Some two-thirds of Germany’s 4.5 million Muslims are of Turkish origin, and the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB), Germany’s largest Islamic organisation, was set up in 1984 as a branch of the Diyanet.

Today it oversees some 900 mosques in Germany, for which the Turkish government trains and assigns imams. DİTİB imams have been accused of spying for Turkey, resulting in a temporary suspension of federal funding in 2017. Berlin has in the past year expressed a desire to eliminate or significantly reduce Turkish influence on its Muslim communities, and last week took two steps toward that goal.

One new programme will fund efforts at 50 mosques to increase local cohesion and boost integration with their German communities. In addition, the state provided start-up funding for a domestic imam education programme, with the view that it would eventually expand and eliminate the need for imams sent from Turkey.

Bakeer said Germany and other countries had every right to regulate the mosques inside its borders. “But we have to ask the question, how would the Muslims perceive such a decision?” he asked, pointing to issues of state credibility.

“Given that there has been a rise in Islamophobia, in radical right groups and neo-Nazis, I think that most probably a big part of the Muslims would not look positively to such steps,” Bakeer explained. “They may see it as these states are trying to control these institutions in order to serve the state’s agenda.”

One reason European countries might be concerned about foreign influence within their domestic Muslim communities can be seen in the United Kingdom, where Muslim voters have the potential to determine as many as 31 seats in the upcoming parliamentary election.

Phillips thinks countries hosting Turkish-built mosques should look closely at their operations, who attends them and what they seek to achieve.

“If they prove to be madrassas where radicalisation is becoming routine, then the host countries need to shut them down,” he said. “It’s a betrayal of Islam to turn mosques into centres of radicalisation.”



Libyan Islamic Fighting Group removed from terrorist list of the UK

November 19, 2019

The British House of Commons has recently voted in favor of removing the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group from the list of terrorist organizations, as an organization that has restored to arms in its opposition to the Gaddafi regime.

The British government published the text of the resolution signed by Secretary of State for Security, Brandon Lewis, with the approval of the House of Commons; accordingly, the group referred to is no longer an organization banned under the British Terrorism Act.

The decision was also posted on the British National Archives website, which documents all UK legislation and publishes original and revised versions of the legislation.





Mali army says 24 soldiers, 17 militants killed in attack on northern patrol

November 19, 2019

Twenty-four Malian soldiers were killed and 29 wounded in an attack on an army patrol in northern Mali on Monday in which 17 militants were also killed, a spokesman for the army said.

The West African country is still reeling from an attack on an army post that killed 54 in early November – one of the deadliest strikes against its military in recent memory, which underscored the increasing reach and sophistication of armed jihadist groups active in the wider region.

The Malian patrol attacked on Monday was in Tabankort, Gao region, while on a joint operation with Niger against militants operating near the border.

“During this attack, Malian forces suffered 24 deaths, 29 wounded as well as equipment damage. On the enemy’s side, 17 were killed and a certain number captured,” army spokesman Diarran Kone said.

The authorities have not named the assailants or identified which group they belonged to. From strongholds in Mali, groups with al Qaeda and Islamic State links have been able to fan out across the Sahel, destabilising parts of Niger and Burkina Faso.

Violence has surged this autumn with heavy military and civilian losses in Mali and Burkina Faso.

In addition to November’s bloodshed in Mali, 38 Malian soldiers were killed on Sept. 30 in coordinated attacks on two army bases in the centre of the country, which has slipped from government control despite the presence of the French army and other international forces.

Meanwhile, 39 people were killed in Burkina Faso on Nov. 6 when militants attacked a convoy carrying workers of Canadian gold mining company Semafo.



Muslim Fulani herdsmen kill two Christians in Nigeria

Mon 18 Nov 2019

A group of herdsmen attacked predominantly Christian Agom village in southern Kaduna state's Sanga Country at 4:30 a.m., area resident Gabriel Yakubu told Morning Star News by text message. Monday Kura, 87, and Emmanuel Agom, 48, both members of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ (ERCC), were killed as they slept in their rooms, he said.

"The Fulani herdsmen cut Monday Kura, 87 years, with a machete until he died, while Emmanuel, 48 years, was shot dead with a gun," Yakubu said. "Sir, we need your prayers as my village is on fire and we are not getting any protection from the government."

It was the first herdsmen attack on the village, which is four kilometers from the town of Gwantu, he said. The ERCC church is the only church in the village, he said.

The attack could not be immediately confirmed. Agom is located along Wasa Station Road, west of Gwantu, between Kwana Nunbu and Gani Sarki villages, he said.

Sanga County was the site of a Muslim Fulani herdsmen attack on March 16 that killed 10 Christians and burned about 30 houses. That attack also occurred as residents of Nandu Gbok village were sleeping.

The assault followed other attacks in southern Kaduna state that took the lives of 130 Christians.

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria's population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors' 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.



Kenya: Muslims Decry Lack of Prayer Rooms at SGR Stations

Muslims are calling for the setting up of prayer rooms at stations along the standard gauge railway (SGR) line, saying lack of such facilities has become a nightmare as it has forced them to miss prayers.

Religious leaders now want the Kenya Railways Corporation to address the matter as soon as possible.

Speaking to the Nation on Monday, Kenya Muslims National Advisory Council (Kemnac) chairman Juma Ngao said it is important for the new rail system to adapt the practice at airports, where there are places set aside for conducting prayers.

"According to Islamic laws, one is supposed to pray five times a day. We suffer in case an urgent journey comes up and you forced to travel by rail, you cannot pray until you get to your destination," said Mr Ngao.

He added that Mombasa terminus has a lot of space where a place for prayer can be set up.


A passenger, Ali Kombo decried how he had to miss Friday prayers last week when they travelled by SGR.

"It was sad and painful. To me missing prayers is something excruciating. Something needs to be done," urged Mr Kombo.

He suggested that prayer rooms be set up in train carriages, saying stop overs in some stations are less than four minutes.

Alternatively, he said, Kenya Railways should "create a place in the station and allow about 10 minutes for prayers."


Another passenger, Mr Ali Barre said he has been forced to pray at the waiting area at SGR stations.

"I have been travelling with the train where am forced to pray at the waiting areas due to lack of prayer rooms. It is disappointing that in a terminus with almost every amenity, there lacks such a facility (prayer room)," said Mr Barre.

Across Africa Muslim clergy have been calling on railway agencies to adapt similar strategy as major airports where prayer rooms are provided for.

Reached for comment, Kenya Railways Corporate Affairs Manager Margaret Kawira said the heads of the Muslim community should write a letter to the managing director on their request.

"Once the letter reaches the MD, a follow up will be done," said Ms Kawira.





Bajwa, Rouhani agree to boost security ties

November 20, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa and Iranian leaders agreed on closer security cooperation and intensification of border security on Tuesday. They also discussed the release of Iranian border guards held by terrorist groups and developments in Afghanistan.

Gen Bajwa was on a two-day trip to Iran for talks on defence ties between the two countries. He had commenced his trip a day earlier by meeting Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Maj Gen Mohammad Hossein Baqeri.

The army chief was accompanied by Director-General Analysis at ISI Maj Gen Muhammad Saeed and Director General Military Intelligence Maj Gen Sarfraz Ali.

On the second day of his visit, the army chief met President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Admiral Ali Shamkhani and Army Commander Maj Gen Abdolrahim Mousavi.

Release of border guards, Afghan peace discussed at meeting

Army Spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor tweeted that the army chief in his meeting with the Iranian president discussed “regional security environment” and matters of mutual interest.

Gen Bajwa told President Rouhani that Pakistan was prepared to strengthen bilateral relations in all spheres, according to Iranian official newswire IRNA.

About border security, he said that Pakistani and Iranian officials had already held “good meetings” for further securing their borders, added the newswire.

Gen Ghafoor further said in his tweet that the Iranian president praised Pakistan’s contributions towards regional peace and its fight against terrorism.

Mr Rouhani, IRNA reported, also emphasised measures for enhancing bilateral trade, facilitating business-to-business contacts and completion of the gas pipeline.

In the meeting between Gen Bajwa and Foreign Minister Zarif, the two sides reviewed prospects for strengthening political, trade and military relations.

The two also exchanged views on border security, the release of remaining Iranian border guards still held by terrorist groups and current regional developments including Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, in his conversation with Secretary National Security Council Mr Shamkhani, the army chief vowed to enhance monitoring of Pak-Iran border and take measures against terrorist groups active in the region. Mr Shamkhani called for collaborative efforts against destabilising influence of external actors.

Gen Bajwa and Maj Gen Mousavi in their meeting deliberated ways to develop bilateral military cooperation and enhancing border security. Gen Mousavi proposed an exchange of military academy cadets between the two countries.

Gen Bajwa told Gen Mousavi that in view of common threats faced by the two countries, it was imperative for them to have closer cooperation for tackling the challenges.

Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Iran in April this year along with ISI chief Lt Gen Asim Munir and held detailed discussions on security cooperation. The two countries had agreed to the setting up of a joint rapid reaction force for curbing activities of terrorist groups along the 950km border. Pakistan further promised to proscribe groups carrying out attacks against Iran.



Don’t use judicial forum to discuss politics, Isa’s counsel told

Nasir Iqbal

November 20, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Justice Umar Ata Bandial of the Supreme Court asked the counsel for Justice Qazi Faez Isa on Tuesday to refrain from using the judicial forum for discussing politics, saying the judiciary would deal with the remarks of Prime Minister Imran Khan in accordance with the law.

“Let’s not use this rostrum to discuss politics; no one is perfect and there is always room for improvement,” Justice Bandial observed.

The observation came when Advocate Babar Sattar, representing Justice Isa of the Supreme Court, recalled Monday’s speech by the prime minister in which he had asked Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and future CJP Gulzar Ahmed to come forward and restore the confidence of people in the judiciary.

“Yesterday the prime minister was unhappy and took pot shorts at everyone,” the counsel said before concluding his arguments.

Senior lawyer Munir A. Malik will resume his arguments when a SC full court hearing a set of challenges to the filing of a presidential reference against Justice Isa meets again on Wednesday.

SC judge says judiciary will deal with PM’s remarks in accordance with law

Justice Bandial recalled how a district judge brought embarrassment to the entire judiciary and asked the counsel not to discuss the prime minister and his wife in the court.

The counsel argued that he was mentioning them because they had discussed his client and his spouse in the reference when there was no breach of any law by the petitioner judge.

The basis of existence of the judiciary was the trust it enjoyed among the people, Justice Bandial observed. “Our duties are fiduciary (trustee) and we must demonstrate that trust. It is a good thing that the people have expectations from us, especially when someone amongst ourselves comes to us,” he said.

Advocate Sattar, however, emphasised that his client was being asked to prove the negative when his judicial conduct was not in question. Moreover, he said, the reference had not established that funds went from the petitioner judge to his wife for acquiring the offshore assets.

“I am under instructions to inform the court that my client is not seeking any immunity or protection of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) and wishes that he should be strictly made accountable in accordance with the law as he is open and has no intention of enjoying different standards of liabilities attached to judges,” he said.

But Justice Bandial explained that the judiciary, as well as every judge, enjoyed the protection of Article 209 (SJC). In fact this is a privilege that every complaint should go before the SJC, which is a vital institution.

“You mean that the petitioner judge does not want to seek special treatment,” Justice Maqbool Baqar inquired.

The counsel replied that there was no allegation of splitting of income since the judge had an exemplary tax record and was a partner of a law firm, Messrs Rizvi and Isa. There is also no allegation that Justice Isa had no means to acquire the properties since he was a commercial lawyer.

Justice Bandial, however, conceded that a fundamental element in the reference was that there was no allegation of corruption against Justice Isa. The federal government’s rejoinder did not add up the value of the properties and, therefore, they had assumed that the money must have gone from the judge to his wife since the husband was so well off, he observed, adding that when there was an assumption, it needed to be inquired.

The counsel said the tax authorities never made assumptions, arguing that the property in question was in control of petitioner judge’s daughter who was benefiting from it since it was in her possession and she was the one renting it out.

The court was informed that the daughter held a Spanish passport when Justice Yahya Afridi inquired about the origin of the passport.

The counsel cited the 2017 Panama Papers case to remind that Chief Justice Khosa had held Maryam Nawaz as not dependent on her father Nawaz Sharif. He contended that no law, except the Representation of People Act, required an individual to disclose the properties of the spouse.

Justice Faisal Arab wondered whether the concealment of assets would fall within the purview of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution, under which legislators were disqualified for life. Since concealment of assets was a reality in “our society”, there should be an explanation.

The counsel said no tax authority or other forum had ever asked the spouse about the properties she owned or ever issued any tax notice.

“Do you know how many complaints the SJC receives in comparison to the number of proceedings it initiates?” Justice Bandial asked and recalled how he discovered a complaint even against him and a similar one against other judges.

“This shows that the SJC is not a rubber stamp and always applies its mind by taking the matter very seriously,” Justice Bandial observed, adding that the SJC had always demonstrated good faith and trust.

“Why you are so averse to facing the proceedings before a domestic forum which functions under the constitutional framework?” Justice Bandial asked.

The counsel replied: “The real question is whether the president enjoys the power to let a witch-hunt of judges and a vicious campaign in the media against him and his life. We are concerned that the executive should not be allowed to level allegations in a reference and put the entire family of a judge in the dock.

‘‘If the elevation to the Supreme Court of a judge is a fresh and separate appointment for which even the qualifications are different, then how the misconduct of a judge during his last job can become a reason for ouster from the present job.”



PML-Q in damage control mode after Pervaiz’s assertions

Amjad Mahmood

November 18, 2019

LAHORE: In an effort to control the ‘damage’ caused by recent statements of Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and cousin Chaudhry Shujaat Husain, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) says it is an ally of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and will remain so.

“No conspiracy theory to create differences among the allies in the government will succeed and those behind the bid will fail. We are government allies and will remain so, God willing. None can create misunderstanding (among us),” Mr Elahi, Speaker of the Punjab Assembly, said in a brief statement issued here on Sunday.

His statement comes hours after Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s assertion that the Q-League is no more a committed ally of the government as it had been before his Islamabad sit-in and that Mr Elahi had endorsed the JUI-F stance when he came as an emissary of the government during the protest.

Party is in spotlight after remarks in favour of Fazl, Nawaz

PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat had a day earlier stated that “naïve” advisers in the prime minister’s team were not giving Imran Khan the ‘right advice’ by urging the latter to use force for establishing the government writ during the JUI-F-led Azadi march.

The Q-League believed that the aggressive policy could have led to a clash with the protesters and made things worse for the PTI government. These inexperienced players, one of its leaders asserted, were also keeping the allies at bay from the prime minister.

Speaking at a function here, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar downplayed the “reservations” expressed by the Chaudhrys of Gujrat about the “naïve” cabinet members, saying such differences were common among allies the world over. He declared them [the Chaudhrys] as confident allies of the government.

Chaudhry Shujaat’s statement was not the only occasion that reflected of a difference of opinion among the allies.

In a TV interview the other day, Pervaiz Elahi alleged that a former head of a security agency had forced some prominent Q-Leaguers, including Jahangir Khan Tareen and Aleem Khan, to quit the party and join the Imran Khan-led PTI back in 2010.

In yet another TV appearance, he didn’t deny or clarify the comment made by the anchorperson that Mr Elahi had got stitched a sherwani [meaning that he is trying to become the chief minister of Punjab or the prime minister].

Mr Elahi, who is also former Punjab chief minister and had played a key role in winning majority for the PTI in the province during the government formation by making inroads into the opposition PML-N in 2018, emphasises that he and cousin Shujaat “have always talked with reason in view of prevailing political realities”.

Defending their role in defusing political tension during the JUI-F sit-in, he says that “our role was to prevent the clash [with the protesters]”. He adds that they had contacted Maulana Fazl during the sit-in “to save the country from political chaos and their step ultimately proved to be the right move”.

Likewise, he insists that “whatever we stated in the Nawaz Sharif case was in the interest of Prime Minister Imran Khan”.

However, observers see the soft corner of the Chaudhrys towards the Sharifs as a harbinger of jumping of the PTI government’s ship before it sinks.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement, another government ally, has also begun sharing its concerns about the future of the government and debating the benefits the MQM has so far gained in response to extending its support to the PTI’s federal government. MQM leader Khwaja Izharul Hasan feared in a media talk that the PTI government may not survive till next budget if it does not improve economic conditions of the country.



Future generations need justice, equality, peace, says Bilawal on Children’s Day

November 20, 2019

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said Tuesday children were the most precious assets of human race and providing them better health and education facilities was the prime responsibility of state, its organs, and institutions, besides the parents themselves.

In his message on the Universal Children’s Day, the PPP chairperson said the majority of Pakistani children lacked many facilities due to injustice, inequality, and poverty.

“We, as a nation, need to make efforts on extraordinary levels to give our future generations justice, fair-play, equality and peace,” he added.

Bilawal pointed out that it was the former prime minister, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, who started the polio vaccination for children in Pakistan although the polio vaccine was invented 40 years ago.

The PPP chair also appreciated Sindh government's legislation to protect children, including those on the street, but stressed for the need to do more.

“Every Pakistani child has the capacity to become like Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto if they are given the required environment and facilities,” he stated.

Bilawal pledged that his party would give top priority to the well-being of children by giving them each and every facility to explore their fullest potential to become responsible citizens who contribute their best to nation-building.

The PPP chair said observing Universal Children’s Day across the world proved that Pakistan as a country should rise up to the heights as happy nations are required to have the happiest and healthy children.



Rahbar Committee calls off countrywide sit-in protests

November 19, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The opposition's Rahbar Committee on Tuesday  announced an end to blocking highways which was part of the JUI-F's Plan B.

The announcement was made by Akram Durrani after a meeting of the opposition committee.

"The committee has decided to open highways across the country," said Durrani, who is Rahbar Committee's convener.

Durrani said that the opposition committee had also decided to call an All Parties Conference (APC).

"Maulana Fazlur Rehman will hold talks with leaders of other opposition parties to decide the date of the conference," he said.

Durrani said that the protests would not end as the opposition would hold jalsas at a district level. He said that the government had gotten nervous after the Azadi March and the protests that followed.

Durrani acknowledged that there were differences among the Rahbar Committee on certain issues.

"The Rahbar Committee is made up of nine political parties," he said. "There can be a difference of opinion on certain issues."

He said that after the Plan B, there will be no need for another plan. Durrani said that the Azadi March and Nawaz Sharif health issue had drove the government on the back foot.

"The government has backed into a wall," he said.



Govt says Shehbaz can be held in contempt of court if Nawaz doesn't return

November 19, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Shehbaz Sharif can be held in contempt of court if Nawaz Sharif doesn't return to the country, said Federal Law Minister Farogh Naseem, on Tuesday.

The law minister was holding a press conference when he was asked about the Lahore High Court's (LHC) verdict in which  the government was directed to remove Nawaz's name from the ECL with any conditions.

"They didn't accept the indemnity bond but they did acknowledge the undertaking," he said.

In response to a question, Naseem said that the Lahore High Court had issued an interim order relating to the removal of Nawaz's name from the ECL.

"The apex court rejects appeals that are made against interim orders," said the law minister.

Farogh said that Shehbaz could be held in contempt of court if Nawaz did not return to the country as he had promised in the undertaking that had been given in court.

Nawaz goes abroad for treatment

The former prime minister left for the United Kingdom on Tuesday via an air ambulance.

The ambulance, which arrived at 8:45am at Lahore Airport has Qatar as its first destination, from where it will continue its journey towards London.

Seven people are travelling with Nawaz, along with his brother Shehbaz and physician Dr Adnan.

Earlier, while speaking to morning show in "Geo Pakistan", PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said doctors had conducted a medical test in the morning.

"If Nawaz Sharif had left 15 days earlier, then his treatment would have already started by now," Aurangzeb said. “Nawaz will be taken to the US for treatment."

LHC verdict

Last week the Lahore High Court directed the government to remove Nawaz Sharif's name from the Exit Control List (ECL) without any conditions for a time period of four weeks.

Before that the LHC called the plea admissible regarding the removal of former premier Sharif’s name from the ECL on a conditional basis — the government had said it would allow a 'one-time permission' provided Nawaz Sharif deposited surety bonds worth Rs7-7.5 billion.

In its decision, the LHC said that in case Nawaz's health doesn't improve then the time-period can be extended, adding that the government officials will be able to contact Nawaz through the Pakistani embassy.




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