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Islamic World News ( 10 Sept 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Centre Allows Sudarshan News to Telecast 'UPSC Jihad' Programme, which Calls It a ‘Conspiracy to Infiltrate Muslims In Government Service’


New Age Islam News Bureau

11 September 2020

 

 • Our Masjid Will Be Modern: Ayodhya Mosque Architect Prof SM Akhtar of Jamia Millia Islamia’s School of Architecture

• Pakistan Makes Learning the Quran In Urdu Translation Mandatory for All Students Nationwide, Except For Non-Muslims, To Fight Islamophobia

• European Parl. Excludes Suu Kyi From Sakharov Prize Community for Crimes Against Rohingya

• 'Khalistan' A Geopolitical Project Nurtured by Pakistan, Canadian Think-Tank Report

• Int’l Allies Hail Launch of Intra-Afghan Talks

• Hamas-Hezbollah Talks and Iran-Turkey Cooperation Come at A Crucial Time

• Suspected Islamists Kill At Least 53 In Eastern Congo

 India

• Centre Allows Sudarshan News to Telecast 'UPSC Jihad' Programme, which Calls It a ‘Conspiracy to Infiltrate Muslims In Government Service’

• Our Masjid Will Be Modern: Ayodhya Mosque Architect Prof SM Akhtar of Jamia Millia Islamia’s School of Architecture

• Pakistan Continues To Foment 'Culture Of Violence' At Home, Across Its Borders: India At UN

• Petition to Restore Lucknow's Historic Rifa-e-Aam Club, Constructed Around 1860 By the Nawabs of Awadh

• Two JeM terrorists arrested in J&K's Kupwara

• Pakistan violates ceasefire at Mankote sector in J&K's Poonch

• Children worst affected due to terrorism: India at UNSC

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Pakistan

• Pakistan Makes Learning the Quran In Urdu Translation Mandatory for All Students Nationwide, Except For Non-Muslims, To Fight Islamophobia

• Urgent Need for Pakistan To Take Immediate, Irreversible Action Against Terror Groups: Indo-US Joint Statement

• PM rejects criticism of dual nationals holding public office

• Islamabad favours ‘One China’ policy, Qureshi tells Chinese FM

• WHO praises Pakistan’s handling of Covid-19 pandemic

• Pakistan vows to defeat Afghan talks ‘spoilers’

• PM reaffirms desire to work with Uzbekistan to cement mutual cooperation

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Europe

• European Parl. Excludes Suu Kyi From Sakharov Prize Community for Crimes Against Rohingya

• Macron says Mediterranean leaders want end to Turkey’s ‘unilateral actions’

• Iran, China, Russia militaries to partake in Caucus 2020 drills

• Greece says dialog with Turkey important, but not ‘at gunpoint’

• German officials: 1,000s of extremists joined virus protest

• German synagogue attack trial reveals police failures

• Keneally calls for right-wing extremists to be put on terror register

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North America

• 'Khalistan' A Geopolitical Project Nurtured by Pakistan, Canadian Think-Tank Report

• 9/11 false flag marked the launch of new agenda of war and Orwellian fascism

• US set to mark anniversary of 9/11 attacks amid Trump Saudi cover-up

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South Asia

• Int’l Allies Hail Launch of Intra-Afghan Talks

• 4 Ansar al Islam members arrested in Dhaka, Rab claims

• Six prisoners sought by Taliban head to Qatar on flight from Afghan capital: Sources

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Arab World

• Hamas-Hezbollah Talks and Iran-Turkey Cooperation Come at A Crucial Time

• Saudi Arabia: Two militants sentenced to death over terror attack

• Recent US Sanctions Increase Risk for Potential Hezbollah Allies

• In Lebanon, firefighters put out remains of Beirut port fire

• Sri Lankan tea donation controversy in Lebanon is tempest in a teapot: Ambassador

• Yazidi activists call out militia rule in Iraq after double killing in Sinjar

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Africa

• Suspected Islamists Kill At Least 53 In Eastern Congo

• Huge explosions rocks Jordan military arms depot in Zarqa

• Rival Libya factions agree criteria for key posts during Morocco talks

• Africa providing 'safe haven' to Islamist terror groups, special forces commander says

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Mideast

• IRGC Launches Massive Anti-Terrorism Operations in Northwestern Iran

• Iranian President Warns of Zionists' Plots against Islamic Sanctities

• Iranian Army: French Magazine's Blasphemous Act Displays West's Hatred for Muslims

• Turkey arrests journalist for ‘insulting’ Turkish sultan on Twitter

• Ansarullah denounces Britain's interference in Yemen's domestic affairs

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Southeast Asia

• FB Post by Perak PAS Leader Said I Had No Respect for Islam, Says Guan Eng

• Vernacular schools have not eroded national identity, says academic group

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/centre-allows-sudarshan-news-to-telecast-upsc-jihad-programme-which-calls-it-a-conspiracy-to-infiltrate-muslims-in-government-service/d/122837

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 Centre Allows Sudarshan News to Telecast 'UPSC Jihad' Programme, which Calls It a ‘Conspiracy to Infiltrate Muslims In Government Service’

11 Sep 2020

 

 New Delhi: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s decision to allow Sudarshan News to go ahead with its show, Bindas Bol – a promo of which featuring the channel’s editor-in-chief Suresh Chavhanke, had claimed that it would unveil the ‘conspiracy to infiltrate Muslims in government service’ – is being called into question.

The channel, as the per the Ministry’s own statement, failed to convince it on one of the two points raised by the government raised in a notice it sent to the channel.

The show had been scheduled for August 28 but the Delhi high court had stayed its broadcast.

The order issued by the Ministry on September 9 clearly states that through its letter of August 28, it had given a notice to Sudarshan News. The notice stated: “This Ministry has received several complaints regarding a programme which is proposed to be telecast on Sudarshan News TV from 28.08.2020 at 8 p.m.”

The promo of the proposed programme, which promised an expose on why there is an increase of Muslim people in the civil services, went viral on social media amidst widespread outrage.

In light of the complaint that the show is communally divisive, the central ministry had asked the channel “to clarify on the above in context of the Programme Code enshrined under Cable Television Network Rules, 1994 by return mail”.


Channel raised two points of law

In its response to the notice, Sudharshan News raised two points. Though the Ministry accepted one and refuted the other, it still decided to allow the channel to go ahead with the show – with the beguiling warning that “the programme proposed to be telecast does not violate any of the programme codes.”

It added that “if any violation of the programme code is found, action as per law will be taken.”

HC had stayed telecast, refused to vacate it

A day after the Delhi high court stayed the broadcast of the show, on August 29, the same court refused to vacate its stay, citing a prima facie finding that the show’s trailer was violative of the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks (Regulations)Act, 1995.

A Bench of Justice Navin Chawla restrained channel from broadcasting its programme on the petition filed by former and present students of Jamia Millia Islamia University.

The Ministry order of September 9 made note of the court’s observations.

It said the high court had disposed of the petition on August 29 with the direction that the relevant respondents “will file their reply to the notice with the Central Government” by September 1, and that the Central Government shall decide on the notice within 48 hours of the receipt of the reply.

The Ministry order also recorded that in his reply via email on August 31, Chavhanke had made various submissions.

It summarised them into four points. He submitted that “the notice of the Ministry refers to promos of the proposed programme on social media platform which is not a subject matter of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.”

The channel editor also said that “the Ministry has sought clarification about the programme which is planned to be run at a later time. The channel has requested for being informed as to whether there is any practice in the Ministry for seeking explanation prior to the running of a programme.”

The channel also insisted that “the said programme is not violative of the law” and that “the notice is an attempt to do pre-censorship of a TV programme which is unprecedented and violative of the constitutional rights of the TV channel.”

‘One point raised by channel does not hold water’

The Ministry order, notably, said, “The first point raised by Sudarshan News, that the Ministry’s notice is based on content in social media platforms (which is not a subject matter of the Ministry), does not hold ground as the promo was telecast on the Sudarshan TV channel.”

The order added, “The second submission/contention is that the Ministry cannot do pre-censorship of a programme, and a programme cannot be stopped or prohibited from being telecast. If only when the programme is telecast and any violation of law is found, action can be taken.”

‘Peculiar situation’

The Ministry contended that “as per norm, there is no pre-censorship of a programme telecast on TV channels.”

However, it added, “This is a peculiar situation where while the programme has not yet been telecast, the promo of the programme has been telecast on the channel, which formed the basis of the complaints received by the Ministry”.

https://thewire.in/communalism/sudarshan-news-tv-central-govt-upsc-jihad

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Our Masjid Will Be Modern: Ayodhya Mosque Architect Prof SM Akhtar of Jamia Millia Islamia’s School of Architecture

Sep 11, 2020

 

Jamia Millia Islamia’s architecture professor S.M. Akhtar | Taran Deol | ThePrint

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NEW DELHI: How does one plan a mosque that takes the place of another which stood for five centuries before being torn down? “Not with nostalgia,” said Prof SM Akhtar, the founder faculty of the Jamia Millia Islamia’s school of architecture, who is designing the mosque coming up at Dhannipur.

Akhtar’s plan for the five-acre plot allotted to the Sunni Waqf Board in lieu of the Babri Masjid includes a mosque, a hospital and a cultural research centre. “The design will be contemporary. I don’t live in the past … Imitation is a sort of perversion,” he said. “The tradition that we will retain is khidmat-e-khaal, serving the society.”

Right now, the 64-year-old is working on the concept. “I have a lot of thinking to do now. When that is done, I will assemble my team.”

But he already has an idea of what he will not incorporate in his design. “It is believed that archstones are Islamic. They are not. They may be Mughal, Indian or Iranian, not Islamic,” Akhtar said. “Kabaa, the foundation of Islam, has no arches or domes or minarets. Then how can these represent Islam? It’s irrelevant. I have been researching this for years. Labelling Islamic architecture as one rooted in the medieval period is a conspiracy. It is to say, ‘Yes, you were relevant but only centuries ago, not now.’ I mean to demolish these myths.”

Does he think the idea will meet resistance? “You have to educate people, give them reasons. You can’t do it blindly. In a mosque, the basic thing is direction, the orientation. If you try and change that, no one will accept it. You have to retain the core, the fundamentals,” he said. “Arches and domes are not fundamental.” He cites a mosque built like a spaceship in Qatar, a zero-energy mosque in Karnataka. “Everywhere, things are moving very fast. Our perceptions have to keep up.”

When designing a religious space, he said, the one thing to keep in mind is how people worship. “In Islam or Christianity, there has to be a large gathering space. In a Hindu temple, the faithful have to go to the garbhagriha, which need not be so spread out. Spillover spaces like mandapa can also accommodate people. In a Sikh shrine, only the Granth occupies focal position. So there is one composite area.”

Partial to clean lines and free-flowing forms, two things keep recurring among his concerns — environment and technology. “Quran also talks about nature. If you respect the elements, you are close to Islamic architecture. If we go back to the concepts of nature, our problems related to energy will be solved. There shouldn’t be wasteful expenditure,” he said. “Architecture can never be replicated. The people, needs, aspirations, limitations, material are all different. You have to respond to that.”

Akhtar has been doing just that. In his nearly two-decade-long association with Jamia, he has designed six architecture courses in response to contemporary needs — health architecture, recreation architecture, building services, ekistics (science of human settlements), pedagogy (how to teach architecture) and urban regeneration. “They are all meant to serve the needs of the country,” he said.

Underlying all this is a focus on minimalism — both in terms of aesthetics and economics. “There should not be wasteful expenditure,” he said. “When it comes to aesthetics, I cite the example of Brutalism (a mid-20th century architectural style with modular designs and monolithic structures). Those were flat surfaces, not refined. But they had a scientific approach. It was a product of the industrial economy. Now, we are in a consumer economy. So you see the same geometry, but with better flow and flexibility.”

The project, however, is more than an architectural experiment, with the weight of history behind it. Does he worry about the politicisation? “I don’t think about it. That’s not my job. When they asked me to design a building, I got to work … Beyond that, kaun kya manage karega, woh humara headache nahin hai (it is not my concern).”

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/our-masjid-will-be-modern-ayodhya-mosque-architect/articleshow/78050004.cms

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Pakistan Makes Learning the Quran In Urdu Translation Mandatory for All Students Nationwide, Except For Non-Muslims, To Fight Islamophobia

Kiran Butt  

10.09.2020

LAHORE, Pakistan

 

 

Pakistan has made learning the Quran in Urdu translation mandatory for all students nationwide, except for non-Muslims, so they can better understand their faith in the country’s native tongue and use that knowledge to combat Islamophobia.

The first phase of developing a Single National Curriculum is set to be implemented in all education institutes nationwide, including government, private and semi-private along with madrassas, or religious schools.

"The final draft is ready, as since 2011, education has been a provincial autonomy [In terms of deciding the curriculum and all other decisions also]. We have taken all the provinces on board and they have accepted it," said Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood.

"In the first phase, we have made Islamiyat [Study of Quran with Surahs and Hadiths] compulsory from grade 1 to grade 5 students with Nazarah [only reading], and from 6th grade onwards, the translation will be added, so the youth can understand the real essence of our religion, which is peace and harmony," Mehmood told Anadolu Agency.

Speaking about the details of the decision, he said: "We received some concerns from a limited set of people, but we addressed that, as the quantity of Quran education is the same as it was before. The only difference is that students will learn that part in Urdu so they can understand the actual meaning."

Most Muslim countries around the world include Quran education in their curriculum, he noted.

"I have visited Turkey and read about the excellent Imam Hatip school system also. It is important to include our religious education with the modern one to achieve a successful life," said Mehmood.

In 2017, the National Assembly of Pakistan approved the Compulsory Teaching of the Holy Quran Bill, which was later passed by the country’s president at the time, Mamnoon Hussain, and turned into an Act according to which Quranic education is compulsory for Grade 1 through Grade 12 in all federal educational institutions in the country.

While addressing the criticism of some educationists, Mariam Chughtai, a member of the National Curriculum Council, said: "All the provinces agreed to implement the act. People who are criticizing it now should understand that the decision is three years old. We are just implementing it."

"It is too early to discuss the output of this curriculum yet, as the students will get the upgraded textbooks in March 2021. The new curriculum is an updated version of the already set curriculum of 2006. The only difference is that now students have to complete the Nazarah of Quran till grade 5, which was set till grade 8 before." Chughtai told Anadolu Agency.

Bridging gap between public, private school systems

Prime Minister Imran Khan introduced the Single National Curriculum policy in 2020. He assured the public that the education disparity among students would be reduced.

"It is our first step to synthesize and align our curriculum so it does not create social classes [based on the education system]," Khan had said while addressing a public event.

Quran education also mandatory at universities

The country's parliament on July 14 unanimously adopted a resolution calling on the government to make the teaching of the Holy Quran in the Urdu language compulsory at all universities and higher education institutions affiliated with the federal government.

"According to the constitution, Pakistan is officially a state in the Islamic republic and the Holy Quran and Sunnah should be considered the Supreme law. It is therefore necessary to take reasonable precautions to understand the Holy Quran in universities," the resolution said.

The Sunnah is a way or manner of life relating to the traditions and practices of Prophet Muhammad that are models to be followed by Muslims.

The resolution came after the governor of the northeastern province of Punjab, Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, issued a notification to make Quran education mandatory for university graduates with "translation" in April this year, in his capacity as the chancellor of the universities.

In Pakistan, the governor of a province also acts as the chancellor of universities in the province.

"I was very curious about the reaction of all the vice-chancellors to my proposal, but it got unanimously approved not only by the chancellors but by all other provinces. It shows the willingness of people to get close to the message from Allah," Sarwar told Anadolu Agency.

The notification states that the Holy Book would be taught in addition to Islamic studies, which are already being taught at universities. And students, except non-Muslims, will not be getting their degrees until they pass this course

"Due to the language barrier, our young generation was not able to understand or implement the holy book in their routine life. This decision will help our young generation in fighting against Islamophobia, and internationally they could be in a better position to endorse peace and harmony," said Sarwar.

Roadmap for implementation of the decision

In April, Sarwar formed a seven-member committee of vice-chancellors to submit recommendations on how to make the teaching of the Quran with translation compulsory in all universities in the province.

While discussing the recommendations, Professor Niaz Ahmad, vice-chancellor of Punjab University and the head of the committee, said "the Quran course will be equivalent to one credit hour per year as the relevant university feels appropriate, and as a substitute, the non-Muslim students may be offered the subject of ethics."

"The student has to take this course only one time after Intermediate (12th Standard) till Ph.D. This decision is only for the students who are on campus. Private students do not come under this decision," Ahmad said.

"Further details and criteria will be more clear to the students after they start attending the universities after Sept. 15," he told Anadolu Agency.

Rab Nawaz, who is pursuing a Bachelor's degree at the University of Management Technology, said they have not been informed about any further changes in the curriculum.

"I have almost completed my third semester. The government has announced that educational institutes will be open from Sept. 15, but there is not a single notification or debate on campus with the students regarding this decision of Quran education," he added.

Educationists in the country seem divided about this decision and they have started a debate on national and social media whether so much religious education should be a part of the national curriculum or not.

Abdul Hameed Nayyar, a physicist, told Anadolu Agency that the government has to be very cautious about this decision, as it can also lead to religious extremism.

"Religion and modern education should be balanced properly. Setting a balanced curriculum is a tough job for the government," Nayyar said.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/pakistan-aims-to-fight-islamophobia-via-quran-education/1968871

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European Parl. excludes Suu Kyi from Sakharov Prize community for crimes against Rohingya

10 September 2020

The European Parliament has formally removed Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi from the "Sakharov Prize community" because of her "acceptance" of state-sponsored crimes against the persecuted Rohingya community in Rakhine state.

In a statement released on Thursday, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) said the decision was a response to Suu Kyi's "failure to act and her acceptance of the ongoing crimes against the Rohingya community in Myanmar".

"The Sakharov Prize Community connects MEPs, laureates, and civil society to increase cooperation on human rights action in Brussels and internationally," the parliament said, confirming the 75-year-old had been "formally suspended" from all laureate activities.

A source close to the EP said the prize had been awarded for Suu Kyi's work before 1990 and could not be withdrawn but the exclusion was the strongest sanction available to the chamber.

In May, the City of London Corporation (CLC) revoked an honor granted to Suu Kyi over the treatment of minority Rohingya Muslims.

Elected representatives on the body voted to revoke the Freedom of the City of London granted to Suu Kyi three years ago.

The move followed Suu Kyi's appearance at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague in December last year to personally defend her country against allegations of rape, arson and mass killings perpetrated by Myanmar troops against Rohingya Muslims.

In her defense, Suu Kyi described the conflict as an internal one and said if human rights violations had occurred, they did not rise to the level of genocide.

In January the ICJ ordered Myanmar to prevent the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine. Suu Kyi's 's government rejected the ruling, saying it was based on a "distorted picture of the situation".

Lawyers seeking to halt an ongoing genocide against Rohingya at the time strongly denounced Suu Kyi’s silence in the face of genocide accusations and her defense of the country’s armed forces, saying the fallen pro-democracy icon chose to ignore “unspeakable” acts committed against Muslims.

The hearings had seen the astonishing spectacle of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate defending the very army that kept her under house arrest for some 15 years.

In November 2018, Amnesty International stripped Suu Kyi of its most prestigious human rights prize over her failure to decry violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

The UK-based human rights group said Suu Kyi had "shielded the security forces from accountability" for the violence against the Rohingya, describing it a "shameful betrayal of the values she once stood for".

"We are profoundly dismayed that you no longer represent a symbol of hope, courage, and the undying defense of human rights," Amnesty's Secretary General Kumi Naidoo wrote in a letter to the Myanmar leader.

"[Your] denial of the gravity and scale of the atrocities means there is little prospect of the situation improving," Naidoo said.

The group had named Suu Kyi as its 2009 Ambassador of Conscience Award recipient when she was still under house arrest for her opposition to Myanmar's oppressive military junta.

She became a pariah in world capitals, especially after she traveled to the ICJ to rebut allegations against her country of rape, arson and mass killings.

Suu Kyi has been accused of turning a blind eye to, or even condoning, abuses against the Rohingya.

Around 740,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh after a bloody crackdown in 2017 by the Myanmar military, which UN investigators have concluded was carried out with "genocidal intent".

Thousands of Rohingya Muslims remain in Myanmar, living under apartheid-like conditions, confined to camps and villages and denied access to healthcare and education.

The Rohingya have inhabited Rakhine for centuries, but the state denies them citizenship. Bangladesh refuses to grant them citizenship, too.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/09/10/633786/Rohingya-European-Parliament-Sakharov--Suu-Kyi-ICJ-ICC-

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'Khalistan' A Geopolitical Project Nurtured by Pakistan, Canadian Think-Tank Report

Sep 10, 2020

OTTAWA: A major Canadian think-tank has released a report in which it has asserted that Khalistan movement is a geopolitical project nurtured by Pakistan which threatens the national security of Canadians and Indians.

Veteran journalist Terry Milewski's report released by Macdonald-Laurier Institute titled "Khalistan: A project of Pakistan" researches the Khalistan movement and discovers its reality as a geopolitical project nurtured by Pakistan, threatening the national security of Canadians and Indians.

"This week, reports from India continue to demonstrate the threat that Pakistan-sponsored Khalistani terrorism poses", it said.

"It might seem surprising that 35 years after Khalistani extremists bombed Air India Flight 182, the deadliest attack on aviation before 9/11 that a new generation of violent extremists has now emerged in Canada and India", wrote Terry Milewski.

Given Pakistan's continued campaign of agitation, "It's clear who's really driving the Khalistan bus: Pakistan," writes Milewski. In truth, "the Khalistan movement has been going nowhere in the Sikhs' home state."

For Canadians, Pakistan's actions pose a real and present national security risk. As the Khalistani cause has little traction in Punjab, Pakistan's support of Khalistani extremists entails leveraging extremists based in Canada, including supporters with ties to terrorism.

Terry Milewski said, "With a looming "referendum" scheduled for November 2020 by proponents of an independent Khalistan, there has been skepticism from Sikh communities around the world. For its part, the Canadian government has stated it will not recognize it".

However, the report warns that the referendum provides oxygen that fuels extremist ideologies, radicalizes young Canadians, wreaks havoc on reconciliation, and usurps legislatures.

In the foreword to this report, Ujjal Dossanjh, former British Columbia Premier and former federal Liberal Cabinet Minister, and Shuvaloy Majumdar, MLI Program Director and Munk Senior Fellow for Foreign Policy, argue, "The Milewski report should be essential reading for any who wish to understand Pakistan's influence in guiding the Khalistan proposition, its perversion of the Sikh faith, and its ongoing campaign of extremism and terrorism in two of the world's important democracies."

In 2018, an international lobby campaign advocating for an independent Khalistan successfully removed references to "Sikh (Khalistani) extremist ideologies and movements," from the Ministry of Public Safety's Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada.

In response, the federal government took the unprecedented step of amending its national security statement, placating a vocal domestic constituency, and replacing the original language with "Extremists who support violent means to establish an independent state within India."

In the ensuing domestic debate, a more important issue was obscured. This was also the first time that Canada's national security community elevated violent extremists advocating for an independent Khalistan into a top-five threat to Canadian national security.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/khalistan-a-project-nurtured-by-pakistan-says-canadian-think-tank/articleshow/78041956.cms

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Int’l Allies Hail Launch of Intra-Afghan Talks

By Mohammad Arif Sheva

11 Sep 2020

KABUL, Afghanistan – The country’s international allies hailed launch of the long-awaited intra-Afghan Talks on peace and solidarity in Afghanistan, encouraging to seize the “historic moment” for a peaceful Afghanistan and region.

United States President Donald Trump said Thursday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will head to Doha later in the day to attend the intra-Afghan negotiations.

“I can announce, with great pride, that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be departing this evening on a historic trip to Doha, Qatar, for the beginning of intra-Afghan peace negotiations,” he said at a press conference at the White House as quoted by a local media.

As part of agreement with the Taliban, Trump exclaimed he will pull his troops out of Afghanistan, bringing the number to 4,000 soldiers still in the country.

“A lot of progress is being made in Afghanistan. But we’ll be down to 4,000 soldiers in a very short period of time,” he said.

Meanwhile, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomed the upcoming talks between the Taliban and Afghan government, adding “This is an historic moment and Afghanistan’s best chance at ending forty years of war and bloodshed.”

The United States welcomes the announcement that Afghanistan peace negotiations will begin September 12. This is an historic moment and Afghanistan’s best chance at ending forty years of war and bloodshed.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) September 10, 2020

The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said in a tweet Thursday the long-fought war in Afghanistan has no “military solution” and only talks can bring about peace and solidarity.

“The road to get here has been long and will remain difficult. No important achievement is ever easy,” he said. “It is now the responsibility of Afghan leaders to capitalize on this moment and end this brutal and mindless war.”

“There is no political settlement without compromise,” he further said. Recent Afghan history shows that seeking a monopoly of power and enforcing one’s ideology by force leads to conflict and makes the country vulnerable to interference by others.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the announcement on the start of the talks, saying “all parties should seize this historic opportunity and build on the gains made with so much sacrifice.” NATO remains committed to Afghanistan’s long-term security.

___________

[Earlier: Intra-Afghan Talks to Mark First Meeting Saturday]

Mohammad Naeen Wardar, a spokesman for the Taliban delegation, in a tweet Thursday said an opening meeting of the Intra-Afghan talks is due to September 12 in Qatari capital Doha.

“The State of Qatar is pleased to announce that the Afghanistan Peace Negotiations will commence in Doha on Saturday the 12th of September 2020…,” the Qatari government confirmed on a statement later that day. “These vitally important direct negotiations between the different Afghan parties represent a step forward in bringing lasting peace to Afghanistan…”

 “Qatar has always placed great value in the power of diplomacy and direct dialogue to resolve disputes,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs’ Special Envoy for Counterterrorism and Mediation in Conflict Resolution Mutlaq Al Qahtani as quoted on the statement. “We will continue our role to create stability in the region.”

Meanwhile, the Afghan Presidential Palace said on a statement Thursday evening that its delegation will leave for Doha on Friday to attend initial meeting of the long-awaited talks.

According to the statement, Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation; Mohammad Haneef Atmar, Acting Foreign Minister; Abdul Salam Rahimi, the President’s special representative for peace and Syed Sadat Mansoor Naderi, State Minister for Peace Affairs will represent the Afghan government.

The announcement came after a breakthrough on the deadlock for implementing Intra-Afghan talks, as the Taliban officials met their demands of having their prisoners freed by Afghan government.

Sources suggested at least six “hardcore” Taliban prisoners are yet be freed due to objections by the Australian and French government for their involvement of killing international counterparts.

The six “hardcore” Taliban – who have direct links to killing foreign nationals – are transferred from Kabul prison to Doha on Thursday, in a bid to have a closer eye on them. Their fate, however, remained uncertain.

https://www.khaama.com/intl-allies-hail-launch-of-intra-afghan-talks-34543/

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Hamas-Hezbollah talks and Iran-Turkey cooperation come at a crucial time

September 10, 2020

The recent meeting in Beirut between Hamas and Hezbollah leadership where the threats to the Palestinian cause and normalisation between Israel and Arab states were discussed is the latest sign that the two resistance movements have revived relations. The reconciliation between the Hamas and Hezbollah has been in the works over the past seven years, after falling out over the conflict which engulfed Syria in 2011, the once long-time allies finding themselves supporting opposing sides.

Until 2012, the political bureau of the Palestinian movement Hamas had been based in the Syrian capital Damascus since it was expelled from neighbouring Jordan in 1999 after being accused of “illicit and harmful” activities. After initially abstaining from taking sides in Syria, referring to it as an “internal affair”, the dilemma Hamas found itself in soon became untenable as the country descended into civil war. Under then-leader Khaled Meshaal, the bureau left for Doha, effectively joining the “Turkish-Qatari axis” and shifting away from its traditional allies which it shared with Lebanon’s Hezbollah; Iran and Syria. Yet a year after the move to Doha and not long after the military coup in Egypt, Hamas felt it prudent to reach out to Tehran and its Lebanese ally.

Co-founder of Hamas, Mahmoud Al-Zahar, has been a vocal proponent over the years for re-establishing ties with the Iranian axis and lamented the decision to leave Damascus. While Hamas’ political bureau chief, Ismail Haniyeh, was a notable attendee at the large-scale funeral earlier this year for the late commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, General Qassem Soleimani. His deputy, Saleh Al-Arouri, who accompanied Haniyeh during the latest meeting with Secretary-General Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, has previously engaged in high-profile reconciliatory meetings with the Hezbollah leader after making a similar visit to Iran in 2017. He has made at least five visits to Tehran since then including one last year in which he said Hamas and Iran stand “on the same path” in fighting Israel.

Haniyeh is also up against his predecessor Meshaal and head of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, in the November leadership elections. It could be with the “new” political landscape in the region after the open normalisation between the UAE and Israel, he is demonstrating his awareness as a leader in maintaining ties with reliable, strong allies regardless of differences in political or sectarian outlook.

After last month’s peace deal between the UAE and Israel, I argued that it was only the Arab states and non-state actors aligned with Iran who are committed to opposing Israel. Acknowledging that Hamas is indeed part of the “Axis of Resistance”, Haniyeh said in an interview with Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV channel that Syria has always supported the Palestinian cause, pragmatically adding: “We hope that Syria regain security and stability as this would support the Palestinian cause.”

Faced with the prospects of the “new” Middle East taking shape in terms of the transparency of the US-Israel-Gulf bloc and other Arab states expected to follow in normalisation, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the UAE and Israel could form an alliance against Iran in order to protect US interests in the Middle East, it is no surprise that Hamas’ representative in Tehran spoke about the need for an alternative alliance between Iran, Turkey and Qatar. After all the three states are the primary financial supporters of the movement.

Iran and Turkey in particular have increasingly shown that they are prepared to work together over shared interests despite fiercely backing opposing sides in Syria. In June for example, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced his country’s support for the Turkish-backed Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) which has been fighting against the Libyan National Army (LNA) supported by the UAE, Egypt, France and Russia. Turkey has also voiced its opposition to US sanctions imposed on Iran and both countries are now looking at ways to boost bilateral trade to $30 billion.

This comes after the Sixth Meeting of the High-Level Cooperation Council between Tehran and Ankara, where regional security was also discussed. One of the outcomes of the meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Hassan Rouhani, was a commitment to continuing joint military operations against Kurdish PKK targets along the common borders. Both countries carried out attacks against the PKK in northern Iraq in June, in offensives dubbed ‘Operation Claw-Eagle and Claw-Tiger’.

According to one Arab News piece on the operations, Iran and Turkey behave as allies more often than not, with differences easily managed when compared to what they have in common; an increased role of religion in politics and “their shared antipathy towards the US and the West”. It is true that whilst Syria is certainly a stumbling block when it comes to Iranian and Turkish relations, it is one that they choose to settle through diplomacy, with both countries – along with Russia – making up the Astana trio which are set to hold the next round of talks soon after recently reaffirming their commitment to the sovereignty of Syria.

Rouhani perhaps best summed up the relations with Turkey during the high-level meeting when he said in the opening speech: “Our relations have always been established on strong grounds; we have historical relations. Therefore, even though we go through painful periods, our relations are not harmed. The relations of both countries stand on good neighbourly relations, common cultural values, mutual respect and of course, mutual interests.”

Erdogan meanwhile stated: “Dialogue between Turkey and Iran has played a determinant role in resolving many regional problems.”

As pointed out in the Jerusalem Post though, the Turkish-Iranian relationship has caused some to doubt the simplistic, sectarian paradigm of “Sunni vs Shia” to explain the region’s conflicts, which really only gained momentum in the mainstream media after the fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq post-2003. When it comes to Iran and Turkey though, they have a mutual understanding, and both are regional powers and former imperial powers in the region with a long history of statecraft and interactions.

Several other Arab states are rumoured to follow the UAE in recognising Israel, which at its core is a US-backed alliance to contain and confront Iran and its allies who oppose Zionism. With no real guarantee on the freeze of Israel’s annexation of the West Bank, it has the potential to trigger another intifada. The reconciliation between Hamas and Hezbollah is therefore the sensible thing to do from the Palestinian movement’s perspective. As it shifts away from the West and increasingly finds itself at odds with the pro-Zionist Arab states, Turkey also would find that an alliance with Iran is the only alternative to being isolated in a hostile region.

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200910-hamas-hezbollah-talks-and-iran-turkey-cooperation-come-at-a-crucial-time/?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1511841_

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Suspected Islamists kill at least 53 in eastern Congo

September 10, 2020

Suspected Islamist militants killed at least 53 villagers in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo's Ituri province this week, a local official said on Thursday.

The authorities blamed the attacks on Tuesday and Wednesday on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan armed group active in eastern Congo since the 1990s.

The militia has killed more than 1,000 civilians since the start of 2019, according to U.N. figures, despite repeated military campaigns aimed at destroying it.

On Tuesday night into Wednesday, ADF fighters attacked the villages of Tsabi and Tondoli, around 120 km (75 miles) south of the city of Bunia, officials said.

Etienne Babawela, a local village chief, said 53 bodies had been discovered so far.

"We don't know how many deaths there will be tomorrow," he said. "It's as if they had lots of time on Tuesday and Wednesday while they were killing people."

The United Nations says violence attributed to the ADF has soared since the start of the year, following the launch of a large-scale army campaign. In response, the ADF abandoned its bases, split into smaller, more mobile groups, and took revenge on civilians.

Several attacks attributed to the ADF have also been claimed by Islamic State, although researchers and analysts say there is a lack of hard evidence linking the two groups.

Violence committed by a constellation of more than 100 armed groups has forced over half a million people in the east of the country to flee their homes since the start of the year.

Millions of people died in eastern Congo, most from hunger and disease, during wars from 1996 to 2003 that sucked in more than half a dozen neighbouring countries.

Congo's military and security forces have also committed grave violations, including killings and sexual violence, the United Nations has said.

https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/suspected-islamists-kill-at-least-53-in-eastern-congo-1720671-2020-09-10

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India

 

Our Masjid Will Be Modern: Ayodhya Mosque Architect Prof SM Akhtar of Jamia Millia Islamia’s School of Architecture

Sep 11, 2020

NEW DELHI: How does one plan a mosque that takes the place of another which stood for five centuries before being torn down? “Not with nostalgia,” said Prof SM Akhtar, the founder faculty of the Jamia Millia Islamia’s school of architecture, who is designing the mosque coming up at Dhannipur.

Akhtar’s plan for the five-acre plot allotted to the Sunni Waqf Board in lieu of the Babri Masjid includes a mosque, a hospital and a cultural research centre. “The design will be contemporary. I don’t live in the past … Imitation is a sort of perversion,” he said. “The tradition that we will retain is khidmat-e-khaal, serving the society.”

Right now, the 64-year-old is working on the concept. “I have a lot of thinking to do now. When that is done, I will assemble my team.”

But he already has an idea of what he will not incorporate in his design. “It is believed that archstones are Islamic. They are not. They may be Mughal, Indian or Iranian, not Islamic,” Akhtar said. “Kabaa, the foundation of Islam, has no arches or domes or minarets. Then how can these represent Islam? It’s irrelevant. I have been researching this for years. Labelling Islamic architecture as one rooted in the medieval period is a conspiracy. It is to say, ‘Yes, you were relevant but only centuries ago, not now.’ I mean to demolish these myths.”

Does he think the idea will meet resistance? “You have to educate people, give them reasons. You can’t do it blindly. In a mosque, the basic thing is direction, the orientation. If you try and change that, no one will accept it. You have to retain the core, the fundamentals,” he said. “Arches and domes are not fundamental.” He cites a mosque built like a spaceship in Qatar, a zero-energy mosque in Karnataka. “Everywhere, things are moving very fast. Our perceptions have to keep up.”

When designing a religious space, he said, the one thing to keep in mind is how people worship. “In Islam or Christianity, there has to be a large gathering space. In a Hindu temple, the faithful have to go to the garbhagriha, which need not be so spread out. Spillover spaces like mandapa can also accommodate people. In a Sikh shrine, only the Granth occupies focal position. So there is one composite area.”

Partial to clean lines and free-flowing forms, two things keep recurring among his concerns — environment and technology. “Quran also talks about nature. If you respect the elements, you are close to Islamic architecture. If we go back to the concepts of nature, our problems related to energy will be solved. There shouldn’t be wasteful expenditure,” he said. “Architecture can never be replicated. The people, needs, aspirations, limitations, material are all different. You have to respond to that.”

Akhtar has been doing just that. In his nearly two-decade-long association with Jamia, he has designed six architecture courses in response to contemporary needs — health architecture, recreation architecture, building services, ekistics (science of human settlements), pedagogy (how to teach architecture) and urban regeneration. “They are all meant to serve the needs of the country,” he said.

Underlying all this is a focus on minimalism — both in terms of aesthetics and economics. “There should not be wasteful expenditure,” he said. “When it comes to aesthetics, I cite the example of Brutalism (a mid-20th century architectural style with modular designs and monolithic structures). Those were flat surfaces, not refined. But they had a scientific approach. It was a product of the industrial economy. Now, we are in a consumer economy. So you see the same geometry, but with better flow and flexibility.”

The project, however, is more than an architectural experiment, with the weight of history behind it. Does he worry about the politicisation? “I don’t think about it. That’s not my job. When they asked me to design a building, I got to work … Beyond that, kaun kya manage karega, woh humara headache nahin hai (it is not my concern).”

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/our-masjid-will-be-modern-ayodhya-mosque-architect/articleshow/78050004.cms

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Pakistan continues to foment 'culture of violence' at home, across its borders: India at UN

Sep 11, 2020

UNITED NATIONS: Hitting out at Pakistan, India has said the country foments a “culture of violence” at home and across its borders and its “deplorable” human rights records and discriminatory treatment of religious minorities is a cause of “persistent concern” for the global community.

"Unfortunately, we have witnessed another attempt by the delegation of Pakistan to exploit a UN platform for hate speech against India," Counsellor in the Permanent Mission of India to the UN, Paulomi Tripathi, said on Thursday at the high-level forum on the 'Culture of Peace' at the 74th United Nations General Assembly.

"This happens at a time when Pakistan continues to foment a culture of violence at home and across its borders," Tripathi said.

India's strong rebuke came as Pakistan's UN envoy Munir Akram made references to Jammu and Kashmir, the Babri Masjid demolition and construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya during his remarks to the virtual forum on 'Culture of Peace'.

"Pakistan's deplorable human rights records and discriminatory treatment of religious and ethnic minorities is a cause of persistent concern for the international community," Tripathi said.

"Blasphemy laws are used against religious minorities such as Hindus, Christians and Sikhs, to violate their human rights and dignity," she said, adding that women and girls remain particularly vulnerable in Pakistan as they are abducted, raped, forcefully converted and married to their violators.

The pandemic has only aggravated the situation, she said.

“Talk of ‘culture of peace' from the delegation of Pakistan is nothing but a decoy to divert attention from their own shameful records. Before making absurd allegations against India, where equal rights of people of all faiths are guaranteed by the constitution, the delegation of Pakistan must do itself a favour of looking at their own system and records of protecting minorities,” Tripathi said.

The Indian diplomat emphasised that a culture of peace does not merely signify absence of war but embodies a predisposition towards resolving differences through dialogue and understanding.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistan-continues-to-foment-culture-of-violence-at-home-across-its-borders-india-at-un/articleshow/78051778.cms

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Petition to Restore Lucknow's Historic Rifa-e-Aam Club, Constructed Around 1860 By the Nawabs of Awadh

M. D. Khaiba

11 Sep 2020

Rifa-e-Aam Club, Lucknow was constructed around 1860 by the Nawabs of Awadh. It was a spot for holding events to bring ‘rifa’ [urdu for happiness] to all, including 'aam' [aadmi]. Mahatma Gandhi visited the building to give a speech on Hindu-Muslim unity on 15 October 1920. 26 April 1922 Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel made speeches at the club encouraging local people to intensify the Swadeshi movement.

When the signboards outside several clubs and gymkhanas signalled 'dogs and Indians' to stay out, Rifa-e-Aam welcomed dissenting voices, credit for which goes to the Raja of Mahmudabad.

The Progressive Writers Movement [Anjuman Tarraqi Pasand Mussanafin-e-Hind] was created in 10 April 1936 under the leadership of Syed Sajjad Zahir and Ahmed Ali. Soon a number of eminent progressive litterateurs like Saadat Hasan Manto, Ismat Chughtai, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Mulk Raj Anand, to name a few, joined the movement. To cap it, presidential address was delivered by Munshi Premchand. In an address at the club in 1936, Munshi Premchand gave a call to speak and write about different types of oppression prevalent in British India.

Governments and bureaucracy has not taken any interest in preserving it. Reportedly, Archaeological Survey of India said it is not their mandate to look after the building as it is not listed as a protected monument.

The Rifa-e-Aam Club is now a garbage dump and a ragpickers delight. The building is deteriorating and the structure has developed ever-widening cracks. Vandals have etched their names on the walls and even cart away material. Weeds stick out of the walls from which the plaster is crumbling. There are two families who have occupied a few rooms and the terrace.

Several activists, organisations and associations have staged demonstrations and written letters to the authorities on the issue, appealing that the heritage structure be restored.

The famous Lucknow Pact of 1916 between Muslim League and Congress is wrongly believed to have been signed here. Actually was signed at Mahmudabad House, Kaiserbagh, Lucknow, according to Mohammed Amir Mohammad Khan, the son of the Raja of Mehmudabad.

To save the club, change.org has started a petition to Government of Uttar Pradesh, Local Citizens, Ministry of Culture UP, ASI, Union Minister, Archeological Survey of India, Uttar Pradesh State Archeological Department, Historians.

https://www.milligazette.com/news/12-special-reports/33681-petition-restore-lucknows-historic-rifa-e-aam-club/

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Two JeM terrorists arrested in J&K's Kupwara

Sep 11, 2020

KUPWARA: Two Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorists were arrested in the Drugmulla area of Kupwara district on Friday, according to the Indian Army.

The JeM terrorists were travelling in a car when they were stopped at a joint check post, which was set up based on credible inputs, resulting in their arrest on Thursday night.

One AK-47 rifle with ammunition, two grenades, Rs 7 lakhs cash, and other warlike stores were recovered from their possession, according to the Army.

Earlier this month, the Indian Army's Chinar Corps had said that an IED detected by CRPF in a culvert near Nutnussa in Kupwara was diffused by a bomb disposal squad.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/two-jem-terrorists-arrested-in-jks-kupwara/articleshow/78051924.cms

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Pakistan violates ceasefire at Mankote sector in J&K's Poonch

Sep 11, 2020

POONCH: Pakistan violated ceasefire in Mankote sector along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday.

"At about 8.30 hours on September 11, Pakistan initiated unprovoked ceasefire violation by firing with small arms and shelling with mortars along LoC in Mankote sector, District Poonch of Jammu and Kashmir," the Indian army said in a statement.

The Indian Army retaliated befittingly.

On Thursday, Pakistan had violated ceasefire in Krishna Ghati sector along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district at around 10 pm.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistan-violates-ceasefire-at-mankote-sector-in-jks-poonch/articleshow/78052134.cms

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Children worst affected due to terrorism: India at UNSC

Sep 10, 2020

NEW DELHI: India on Thursday urged the United Nations Security Council member states to demonstrate greater political will to hold the perpetrators of terrorism and their collaborators and sponsors, especially those sanctioned by the Council, to account, in order to fulfill the Council’s child protection obligations.

"In order to advance child protection agenda of the Council, its synergies with counter-terrorism need to be translated into action. Terrorist outfits and individuals proscribed by Council are directly/indirectly responsible for abusing child rights," India said at the UNSC open debate on Children & Armed Conflict.

India said "Terror networks spread their tentacles across borders threatening peace and stability. Children are worst affected as they live with looming sense of fear and are often deprived of their right to education."

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/children-worst-affected-due-to-terrorism-india-at-unsc/articleshow/78046774.cms

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Pakistan

 

Urgent need for Pakistan to take immediate, irreversible action against terror groups: Indo-US joint statement

Sep 11, 2020

WASHINGTON: There is an urgent need for Pakistan to take immediate, sustained and irreversible action to ensure that no territory under its control is used for terrorist activities, India and the United States said on Thursday and asked Islamabad to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of terrorist attacks, including the 26/11 Mumbai strike and the Pathankot airbase attack.

In a joint statement issued after the 17th meeting of the India-US Counter Terrorism Joint Working Group and the third session of the India-US Designations Dialogue held virtually on September 9-10, both sides denounced the use of terrorist proxies and strongly condemned cross-border terrorism in all its forms.

The Indian delegation was led by Mahaveer Singhvi, Joint Secretary for Counter Terrorism, Ministry of External Affairs, while the American side was led by Nathan Sales, State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism.

The joint statement stated that the meeting was a far-reaching conversation on counterterrorism cooperation, resolving to continue close coordination on this important element of the comprehensive global strategic partnership that exists between the two countries.

"The two sides underlined the urgent need for Pakistan to take immediate, sustained, and irreversible action to ensure that no territory under its control is used for terrorist attacks, and to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of such attacks, including 26/11 Mumbai and Pathankot," the joint statement said.

The US side reiterated its support for the people and the government of India in the fight against terrorism.

They exchanged views on threats posed by UN-sanctioned terrorist entities and emphasized the need for concerted action against all terrorist networks, including al-Qa'ida, ISIS/Daesh, Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), and Hizb-ul Mujahideen, a media statement said.

During the meeting, the two sides also shared information about their priorities and procedures for pursuing sanctions and designations against terrorist groups and individuals, particularly in light of recent legislative changes in India.

There was a joint commitment to strengthen cooperation on information sharing and other steps to disrupt the ability of international terrorists to travel, consistent with the important provisions and obligations outlined in the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2396.

Participants of the meeting also highlighted their efforts to address some of the world's most pressing counter-terrorism challenges, including countering the financing and operations of terrorist organisations, countering radicalisation and terrorist use of the internet, cross-border movement of terrorists and prosecuting, rehabilitating, and reintegrating returning terrorist fighters and family members.

India and the US also discussed mutual legal and extradition assistance, bilateral law enforcement training and cooperation.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/urgent-need-for-pakistan-to-take-immediate-irreversible-action-against-terror-groups-indo-us-joint-statement/articleshow/78050882.cms

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PM rejects criticism of dual nationals holding public office

Syed Irfan Raza

11 Sep 2020

ISLAMABAD: Expressing displeasure over criticism of dual nationals holding public office, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday stressed the need for tapping what he called “resource pool” of Pakistani experts and professionals living abroad for uplifting of the country.

“I don’t know why people say that dual nationals cannot get any public office and cannot become a minister and why they [people] move courts every other day,” the prime minister said while launching the Roshan Pakistan Digital Account — a facility which will provide innovative banking solutions to millions of non-resident Pakistanis seeking to undertake fund transfers, bill payments and investment activities in Pakistan.

“We do not have a bigger asset than that [overseas Pakistanis]. Best minds, professionals and entrepreneurs are outside the country. When we will create [conducive] conditions in the country, this big resource pool can return to the country,” he added.

The prime minister recalled that when he had established Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital, it created an opportunity for overseas Pakistani experts and they returned and ran the hospital. “Similarly, all major hospitals in the Middle East are being run by foreign doctors; rather the entire Middle East was established by foreigners,” he said.

Launches facility that will provide banking solutions to non-resident Pakistanis seeking to undertake fund transfers, bill payments and investment activities

The prime minister and members of his cabinet holding dual nationality recently came under severe criticism when the assets and status of dual nationality of all non-elected cabinet members — special assistants to the prime minister (SAPM) and advisers — were made public.

SAPM on Digital Pakistan Tania Aidrus resigned from her post due to the criticism levelled against her and the government because of her dual citizenship. In a tweet, Ms Aidrus (who also holds Canadian nationality) had said: “Criticism levied towards the state as a consequence of my citizenship status is clouding the purpose of Digital Pakistan.”

Prime Minister Khan said overseas Pakistanis were the most patriotic and their expertise was not utilised in the country. “I know many overseas Pakistanis; they are more patriotic than those living in the country,” he added.

The prime minister termed the launching of Roshan Pakistan Digital Account a historic step and expressed the hope that the facility would help increase investment by overseas Pakistanis in the country.

He expressed satisfaction that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Pakistan’s exports had increased. “On the other hand, exports of India and Bangladesh declined during the pandemic,” he said.

Roshan Pakistan Digital Account is a major initiative by the State Bank together with eight other commercial banks operating in the country. These banks will provide innovative banking solutions for millions of non-resident Pakistanis and for the first time in Pakistan’s history, they will be able to open an account in any bank through an entirely digital and online process, without having to visit any bank, embassy or consulate.

In order to open an account, all documentation requirements will need to be completed and it will take 48 hours to open the account, according to an official statement. The customer can choose whether to open a rupee-dominated account, foreign currency or both and funds in the account will be fully repatriable, without the need for any regulatory approval.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Khan chaired a meeting held to review availability of wheat in the country. The meeting expressed satisfaction over wheat supply and demand and decided that the Trade Corporation of Pakistan would also be allowed to import the commodity.

Meeting with Uzbek deputy PM

During a meeting with Uzbekistan’s Deputy Prime Minister for Investment and Foreign Economic Relations Sardor Umurzaqov, Prime Minister Khan underlined that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and highlighted Pakistan’s positive contribution to the Afghan peace process.

The prime minister stressed that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was of paramount importance for Pakistan and the region. He expressed the hope that intra-Afghan negotiations would commence at the earliest and culminate in a negotiated political settlement, thus contributing to peace, stability and prosperity in the region and beyond.

The prime minister reaffirmed Pakistan’s desire to work with Uzbekistan to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation, bilaterally and in the region.

Matters of mutual interest, including the Covid-19 pandemic, bilateral cooperation, regional connectivity and regional peace and security, came under discussion during the meeting.

Prime Minister Khan underlined that Pakistan and Uzbekistan enjoyed cordial and brotherly relations. He warmly recalled his last meeting with President Mirziyoyev and mentioned that Pakistan keenly awaited his visit once the global pandemic situation settles down. He also highlighted the potential for enhanced trade with increased regional connectivity as a result of different planned railway projects.

The Uzbek deputy prime minister conveyed the cordial greetings and best wishes of the Uzbek president and noted that President Mirziyoyev looked forward to visiting Pakistan.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1579058/pm-rejects-criticism-of-dual-nationals-holding-public-office

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Islamabad favours ‘One China’ policy, Qureshi tells Chinese FM

11 Sep 2020

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi held separate meetings with his Chinese and Russian counterparts Wang Yi and Sergei Lavrov, respectively, on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) meeting of Council of Foreign Ministers on Thursday.

Mr Qureshi’s meeting with the Chinese minister was his second in three weeks. During the meeting, bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest were discussed, a press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said here.

Mr Qureshi reiterated that Pakistan remained committed to “One China” policy and stood firmly behind China on core issues of its national interest.

He emphasised that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was important for peace and stability in the region and beyond and Afghan-led and Afghan-owned pea­ce and reconciliation process was critical in restoring regional peace and stability.

He said India’s expansionist and unilateral actions, particularly since Aug 5, 2019, had been imperiling regional peace and security.

Russian minister accepts invitation to visit Pakistan

During the meeting with Russian FM Sergei Lavrov, the two sides discussed matters of mutual interest, including the Covid-19 situation, prospects of enhanced bilateral cooperation, regional issues and cooperation at multilateral fora.

They also exchanged views on further strengthening trade and economic cooperation, including in the field of energy, a press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Foreign Minister Lavrov welcomed Pakistan’s likely participation in the forthcoming Kavkaz military exercise scheduled to be held in Russia later this month.

Foreign Minister Qureshi said that Pakistan considered Russia as an important partner, and wanted to forge a long-term and multi-dimensional partnership with it.

The two ministers also discussed the situation in Afghanistan in the context of the recent positive developments.

On the issue of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), Mr Qureshi shared deep concerns over the grave human rights and humanitarian situation as well as the Indian attempts to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory.

He underlined the urgent necessity of addressing the grave situation in the IIOJK.

Foreign Minister Qureshi extended an invitation to Mr Lavrov to visit Pakistan, which he gladly accepted.

The two foreign ministers agreed to remain in close contact and pursue enhanced cooperation in all spheres of common interest.

SCO meeting

In his remarks at the meeting of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers, Mr Qureshi said the SCO was a vital platform for forging synergy with regional partners and realising benefits of emerging confluence between the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasian Economic Union.

He said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor supplemented the SCO’s vision of regional connectivity and economic integration. “We should not view development projects, including BRI and CPEC, through myopic geopolitical angles and should give them our full support,” he said.

Mr Lavrov, the foreign ministers of SCO member states and SCO Secretary General Vladimir Norov attended the event.

Expressing delight on Pakistan’s membership of the SCO Youth Council, Mr Qureshi said over the past 20 years, the SCO had grown tremendously in stature, prestige and influence.

He asked the SCO members to work together to address the resurgence of fascist ideologies and violent nationalism anywhere in the world, especially in the region.

The foreign minister called for pooling scientific and technical resources of SCO members to carry out joint research in diverse fields, particularly with a view to finding an effective vaccine for Covid-19. He also called for collective work to project the SCO as an effective forum for regional development and a new kind of international organisation based on the ideals of Shanghai spirit.

Appreciating the Russian foreign minister for hosting the meeting, Mr Qureshi said despite formidable difficulties, Pakistan had continued fruitful collaboration in the SCO, marked by solidarity and mutual support, under the stewardship of the Russian Federation.

The foreign minister saluted the healthcare professionals, scientists and researchers who are at the vanguard of the valiant anti-Covid-19 struggle and said Pakistan was open to sharing its experience in combating the pandemic in an effective manner.

He called for countering the pandemic’s negative economic impact through the Global Initiative for Debt Relief for developing countries as proposed by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

He also opposed politicising the pandemic and using it for stigmatising regions, religions or communities.

Mr Qureshi said the world today was becoming increasingly multi-polar with the competition between the old and emerging powers reshaping the contours of contemporary international relations.

“It is our firm belief that in this uncertain and brutally competitive environment that is full of zero-sum prophecies, cooperation and not confrontation should be the driving force in international politics,” he said.

He reaffirmed Pakistan’s position that the reform of the UN Security Council should be achieved through consensus for a more representative, democratic, effective and accountable council.

He said the peaceful resolution of outstanding disputes was a pre-requisite for achieving development, economic growth, poverty alleviation and social uplift of the masses.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1579018/islamabad-favours-one-china-policy-qureshi-tells-chinese-fm

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WHO praises Pakistan’s handling of Covid-19 pandemic

Ikram Junaidi

11 Sep 2020

ISLAMABAD: The World Health Organisation (WHO) said Pakistan was among countries from whom the international community should learn how to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Former Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Zafar Mirza told Dawn it was the recognition of Pakistan’s effort at the international level.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a media briefing said Pakistan deployed the infrastructure built up over many years for polio to combat Covid-19.

“Community health workers who have been trained to go door-to-door vaccinating children for polio have been utilised for surveillance, contact tracing and care,” he said.

“There are many other examples, including Cambodia, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Senegal, Spain and Vietnam. Many of these countries have done well because they learned lessons from previous outbreaks of SARS, MERS, measles, polio, Ebola, flu and other diseases. That’s why it’s vital that we all learn lessons this pandemic is teaching us,” he said.

Asks international community to follow its example

Dr Mirza in a tweet stated: “Pakistan included among seven countries by WHO Director General- countries that the world can learn from about how to fight future pandemics. Great honour for the people of Pakistan. Alhamdolilah.”

Talking to Dawn, Dr Mirza said it was the recognition of the national effort internationally.

“It proves that if we want to do something we can do it. Moreover, the WHO DG spoke about the importance of the public health system. It is talked about ‘building back better (BBB)’ and I believe time has come to build back,” he said.

BBB is an approach to post-disaster recovery that reduces vulnerability to future disasters and builds community resilience to address physical, social, environmental, and economic vulnerabilities and shocks.

While there are rumours that Dr Mirza has left the country, he again said he is not going anywhere and will stay in Pakistan.

“I am not in a job mode anymore and just want to contribute for the awareness of the masses,” he said.

Ministry of National Health Services spokesperson Sajid Shah said it was collective efforts from the platform of National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) due to which not only Pakistan proved all international estimates regarding the number of cases wrong but also minimised the cases.

He said efforts were being made to further push back the virus.

While Pakistan has minimised the Covid-19 cases, in India around 4.5 million cases and 75,000 deaths have been reported. India is ranked second after the United States in which 6.5 million cases have been reported.

The virus was first detected in China in December 2019 and then it started spreading in other countries. Pakistan had closed its borders and took a number of steps to stop the transmission due to which the first case of Covid-19 was reported in the last week of February. On March 13, the first meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) was held to discuss the crisis which was later declared pandemic by WHO.

Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired the meeting of NSC and directed the concerned authorities to devise a comprehensive strategy to prevent the spread of the disease.

A lockdown was announced on March 16 and a number of industries, including the construction industry, educational institutions, restaurants, marriage halls etc were closed.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was involved to ensure medical equipment and health related supplies at the earliest due to which coordination with the provinces improved. Pakistan also sealed its western border with Afghanistan and Iran. Even Kartarpur shrine was closed for local people.

The construction industry was opened on August 7 and the National Coordination Committee (NCC) on Covid-19 lifted restrictions on the tourism sector from Aug 8 and on restaurants and transport sector from Aug 10.

Since the opening of tourist spots, a huge influx of tourists was observed without following SOPs due to which Gilgit-Baltistan had to close its tourist spots. However, a large number of people have been visiting other areas of the country, including Kumrat Valley, due to which it is feared that the second wave of the virus may arrive.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1578971/who-praises-pakistans-handling-of-covid-19-pandemic

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Pakistan vows to defeat Afghan talks ‘spoilers’

Baqir Sajjad Syed

11 Sep 2020

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday vowed to defeat ‘spoilers’ attempting to sabotage upcoming intra-Afghan dialogue, through cooperation with Afghanistan.

“Unfortunate rise in violent incidents on both sides of Pak-Afghan border is meant to derail Afghanistan Peace Pro­cess. Pakistan earnestly belie­ves that both countries deserve peace and progress. Together we will defeat all spoilers,” military spokesman Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar tweeted.

The resolve was expressed as the long-awaited intra-Afg­han process moved further clo­ser to its commencement with the release of the last group of six “dangerous” Tali­ban prisoners by the Afghan government.

The released prisoners were later flown to Qatar where they would remain under sup­er­vi­sion until the end of November.

Kabul’s negotiating team was, meanwhile, expected to fly to Doha on Friday (today) for talks with Taliban.

Taliban spokesman says negotiations will be held on Sept 12

Taliban spokesman Dr Mohammad Naeem later in the night in a tweet announced the group’s readiness for talks.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan announces its rea­diness to attend the inaugural meeting of the Inter-Afg­han Dialogue in accordance with the agreement reached between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and the United States of America,” he said.

The spokesman in another tweet said the talks would begin on Sept 12.

However, the spike in violence in Afghanistan ahead of the talks has worried all international backers of the process. A surge in the attacks was particularly noticeable in Taliban-controlled territories, whereas targeted killings have risen in Kabul.

Afghan First Vice President Amrullah Saleh’s convoy was struck by a roadside bomb on Wednesday in which 10 people were killed and another 15 were wounded.

Taliban denied involvement in the attack. But the Afghan government is sceptical about the Taliban denials and it believes that groups affiliated with the insurgency were behind the strikes. Some say the increase in violence had been orchestrated by the Taliban for gaining leverage at the negotiating table.

Pakistan insists that violence was the handiwork of the ‘spoilers’ who do not want the peace process to succeed and those elements are carrying out attacks in both countries.

Officials says Pakistan has facilitated the peace process and was instrumental in the signing of the US-Taliban deal in February that paved the way for intra-Afghan talks, getting the ceasefire on the occasion of Eidul Azha, and breaking the stalemate over prisoners’ release.

Islamabad has time and again cautioned Afghan authorities about the spoilers. Prime Minister Imran Khan, in an interview with Al-Jazeera last week, even went to the extent of naming India and said it would not be wanting the peace initiative to succeed.

At the Foreign Office weekly media briefing, spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said intra-Afghan talks should achieve “an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement” that could deliver “durable peace in Afghanistan”.

He reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to continue supporting the Afghan peace process.

In reply to a question about the controversial statement of Mr Amrullah Saleh on the status of Pak-Afghan border, Mr Chaudhri said: “We believe that Pakistan-Afghan border is an internationally-recognised official border between the two countries in accordance with all relevant international laws and conventions.

“Such statements only serve to undermine the resolve for peace and cooperation between the two countries and should be avoided. We also expect that such statement will not be made in future,” the spokesman said.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1579057/pakistan-vows-to-defeat-afghan-talks-spoilers

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PM reaffirms desire to work with Uzbekistan to cement mutual cooperation

11 Sep 2020

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday on reaffirmed Pakistan’s desire to work with Uzbekistan to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation, bilaterally and in the region.

He expressed these views during a meeting here with Uzbekistan’s Deputy Prime Minister for Investment and Foreign Economic Relations Sardor Umurzaqov.

Matters of mutual interest, including the Covid-19 pandemic, bilateral cooperation, regional connectivity, and regional peace and security were discussed in the meeting.

Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razzak Dawood was also present during the meeting.

The prime minister underlined that Pakistan and Uzbekistan enjoyed cordial and brotherly relations.

He warmly recalled his last meeting with President Mirziyoyev and mentioned that Pakistan keenly awaited his visit once the global pandemic situation settled down.

PM Imran also highlighted the potential for enhanced trade with increased regional connectivity as a result of different planned railway projects.

The Uzbek deputy prime minister conveyed the cordial greetings and best wishes of the President Mirziyoyev, who, he said, looked forward to visiting Pakistan.

On behalf of President Mirziyoyev, he also extended an invitation to the prime minister to visit Uzbekistan.

He also expressed Uzbekistan’s desire to have improved economic relations with better connectivity and make investments in Pakistan.

Underlining that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, PM Imran highlighted Pakistan’s positive contribution to the Afghan peace process.

He stressed that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was of paramount importance for Pakistan and the region.

The prime minister expressed the hope that intra-Afghan negotiations would commence at the earliest and culminate in a negotiated political settlement, thus contributing to peace, stability and prosperity in the region and beyond.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/09/10/pm-reaffirms-desire-to-work-with-uzbekistan-to-cement-mutual-cooperation/

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Europe

 

Macron says Mediterranean leaders want end to Turkey’s ‘unilateral actions’

10 September 2020

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday, after a summit of Mediterranean leaders, that Europe wants to renew dialogue with Turkey after weeks of tensions in order to end the “unilateral” actions by Ankara.

“We want to reengage a dialogue... we are not naive but we want to reengage in good faith,” Macron said after the summit of seven EU Mediterranean leaders in Corsica. “It is genuinely by restoring normal relations which allow stability in the region with Turkey, to obtain the end of unilateral actions,” he added.

For all the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

In a statement published on Thursday, the Mediterranean littoral members of the EU, gathered for their seventh summit in Corsica, France, said they reiterated their “full support and solidarity with Cyprus and Greece in the face of the repeated infringements on their sovereignty (...) as well as confrontational actions by Turkey.”

“We maintain that in the absence of progress in engaging Turkey into a dialogue and unless it ends its unilateral activities, the EU is ready to develop a list of further restrictive measures that could be discussed at the European Council of Sept 24-25.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/09/10/Macron-says-Mediterranean-leaders-want-end-to-Turkey-s-unilateral-actions-

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Iran, China, Russia militaries to partake in Caucus 2020 drills

10 September 2020

Military forces from Iran, China, and Russia are scheduled to take part in joint military exercises with a number of other countries in southern Russia later this month.

China’s Defense Ministry made the announcement in a news release on Thursday and said troops from Armenia, Belarus, Myanmar, and Pakistan would also participate in the drills, code-named “Caucus 2020.”

The ministry added that the exercises, to be held from September 21 to 26, would focus on defensive tactics, encirclement, and battlefield control and command.

The drills have special significance “at this important moment when the entire world is fighting the pandemic,” the ministry said.

The United States administration has insinuated that the coronavirus was artificially developed in a Chinese lab. China has rejected that insinuation.

Iran, China, and Russia have over the past years increased their military and diplomatic cooperation to counter the United States’ hostile policies and extra-territorial presence in their regions.

Late last year, the three countries held four days of naval exercises code-named the “Marine Security Belt” to promote regional security and peace and safeguard international trade in the Sea of Oman and the Indian Ocean.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/09/10/633762/Iran-China-Russia-military-drills-Caucus-2020

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Greece says dialog with Turkey important, but not ‘at gunpoint’

10 September 2020

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis says dialog with Turkey over sea boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean is “important” provided that it is held on peaceful terms, not “at gunpoint.”

The Greek prime minister made the remarks in an article published simultaneously in the London Times, Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and France’s Le Monde on Thursday.

“We do need dialogue, but not when held at gunpoint. What threatens my country’s security and stability threatens the well-being and safety of all EU member states,” Mitsotakis said in the piece.

He also urged the European Union (EU) to impose “meaningful” sanctions on Turkey unless Ankara pulled its maritime assets from disputed areas in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey and Greece, both of them NATO members, have been at loggerheads over oil and gas exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey has dispatched a seismic research vessel — and warships to escort it — to an area in the sea that is disputed with Greece.

Greece, for its part, has ordered its naval vessels to shadow the Turkish ships. Earlier, one Greek and one Turkish naval vessel were involved in a minor collision.

This month, the leaders of the EU member states are expected to specify a response to Turkey.

“If Europe wants to exercise true geopolitical power, it simply cannot afford to appease a belligerent Turkey,” Mitsotakis wrote, noting that Ankara still had time to avoid sanctions and “take a step back.”

He said Turkey should stand down, “return to the table, and pick up from where they left off when they quit exploratory talks in 2016. And if we cannot agree, then we must seek resolution at [the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in] The Hague.”

Germany, meanwhile, has been mediating to defuse the growing tensions between Turkey and Greece.

Turkey has said it is open to dialog but has stressed that negotiations should start without pre-conditions.

On Wednesday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and his German counterpart, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, discussed the latest developments in the eastern Mediterranean over the phone, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Akar said that Ankara did not favor a deadlock but instead wanted to eliminate the current problems through dialog, adding that other countries had to approach the issue with “common sense and spirit of the [NATO] alliance.”

The Turkish minister, however, said that Ankara would never allow any fait accompli and would continue to safeguard its rights under international law.

Reports on Wednesday said that Athens would submit a set of proposals for the establishment of a mechanism to help defuse the increasing tensions with Ankara to NATO on Thursday.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/09/10/633765/Greece-Turkey-Mediterranean-dialog-not-at-gunpoint

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German officials: 1,000s of extremists joined virus protest

By Frank Jordans

September 9, 2020

BERLIN — Thousands of far-right and anti-government extremists were among the crowds at demonstrations against Germany’s coronavirus restrictions last month that culminated in attempts by some protesters to storm parliament, German security officials said Wednesday.

The incident was condemned across much of the political spectrum in Germany, with the president and other senior officials describing the rush on parliament as an assault on the heart of democracy. But some lawmakers also criticized the police handling of the Aug. 29 demonstrations and that there were only a handful of officers to stand in the way of hundreds of protesters despite advance warnings that extremists might try to enter the Reichstag.

A preliminary review of images from the protests indicated that “at least 2,500 to 3,000 right-wing extremists and Reich Citizens took part in the protests,” the head of Berlin state’s intelligence service, Michael Fischer, told lawmakers in the capital’s regional assembly.

The so-called Reich Citizens movement, which disputes the legitimacy of the post-World War II German Constitution and by extension the current government, has caused growing concern among security officials in recent years, in part due to its ties to the far right.

Fischer said those counted so far were identified as right-wing extremists based on the clothing, flags, symbols and slogans they were carrying.

He said there were “doubtless” also people in the crowd with an affinity for extremist ideologies but “who couldn’t be identified as right-wing extremists or Reich Citizens based on their outer appearance.”

Following the main rally, which police estimated drew almost 40,000 participants, up to 500 people gathered in front of the parliament building, including “violence-prone neo-Nazis and conspiracy theorists from the so-called QAnon spectrum,” Fischer said.

Fischer acknowledged that authorities received information in advance of the protests about some people calling for the storming of the Reichstag and that security officials had discussed the threat at a meeting two days before the event.

He said officials hadn’t foreseen that protesters would actually go through with the plan and called it a “spontaneous” incident.

The events of Aug. 29 showed how compatible the positions of some of the anti-mask protesters are with those of anti-government extremists, Fischer said.

“Anybody who marches with right-wing extremists and Reich Citizens needs to realize that they are joining forces with persons and groups who want nothing less than the abolition of our liberal democratic order,” he said.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/german-officials-1000s-of-extremists-joined-virus-protest/2020/09/09/44afc81c-f293-11ea-8025-5d3489768ac8_story.html?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1511841_

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German synagogue attack trial reveals police failures

09.09.2020

Jewish survivors of the attack on the Halle synagogue have accused the police of failing to properly investigate the online far-right scene that is believed to have inspired last October's deadly attack in the eastern German city.

28-year-old Stephan B. is on trialfor attempting to commit what would have been the worst anti-Semitic atrocity in Germany since the Holocaust. Only the perpetrator's jammed weapons and the synagogue's locked door prevented a massacre.

He has been charged with the murder of the two people who were killed that day — a passerby Jana L. and kebab shop customer Kevin S.

Some 43 people, all survivors or the relatives of victims, are co-plaintiffs in the trial of the case that shows parallels to crimes perpetrated in Christchurch and other places.

Anger and civic duty

Several witnesses from in and around the synagogue and kebab shop were called on Tuesday and Wednesday, the tenth and eleventh trial days, describing in powerful detail their impressions and fears.

Among them was a retired professor who was in the kebab shop, and who injured his shoulder as he escaped through a back window. He described seeing what he thought was a man in a Halloween costume holding a paintball rifle coming into the shop, and registering a "wild determination" in his expression. He was only alerted to the man's intentions when another customer shouted a warning. A video of the attack appeared to show Stephan B. attempting to shoot the witness as he fled, though the gun jammed.

The 74-year-old anthropologist said he had decided to become a co-plaintiff in the trial out of a mixture of "anger," civic duty, and his faith in the principles of equality in the German constitution. "You have earned what this court is likely to decide for you," he told the defendant, who did not respond.

New footage

On Wednesday, the court was also shown a previously unseen second video of the attack that Stephan B. filmed from a bodycam attached to his jacket.

This footage — taken in addition to the helmet-cam view he streamed live during the attack — showed a new angle of him throwing several crude homemade explosives (glass bottles filled with chemicals, with a fuse hanging from the necks) over the walls of the synagogue grounds. It also showed a failed attempt to blow the hinges off a gate, as well as part of the shooting in the kebab shop.

Later in the 45-minute video, Stephan B. could be seen driving away in his car, injured in the neck from a firefight with police. In this sequence, during which he occasionally whimpered in pain, Stephan B. addressed his online "audience" in English, cursing himself and his failed firearms.

He also appeared to think he would be able to carry out more attacks in future, saying he could "fight" for another one or two days if he had a new car.

Holocaust memories

For many of the 52 survivors from inside the synagogue, the trial has offered a chance to give a voice to the Jewish community.

Describing her ordeal on Tuesday, co-plaintiff Rebecca Blady said she had drawn strength from her grandmother's experience during the Holocaust — contrasting her own opportunity to testify about the Halle attack with the fact that her grandmother was never able to speak in a German court.

Blady's testimony was summarized in a Twitter thread by the activist Valentin Hacken:

Survivor Naomi Henkel-Gümbel used her testimony to address Germany's continued difficulties with Judaism.

"I would like to feel at home in synagogues," she said. "But if you knew that you had to equip your home with bulletproof doors and windows, how comfortable would you be to call this place your home? The higher the security the more I have the feeling that there is something wrong in the discourse of the society."

She had emigrated to Germany, despite misgivings about the country, to train to be a rabbi. "To most Germans even in this court, Jewish life in Germany seems to be something that died out. That is the past," she said.

https://www.dw.com/en/german-synagogue-attack-trial-reveals-police-failures/a-54870086?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1511841_

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Keneally calls for right-wing extremists to be put on terror register

By Anthony Galloway

September 10, 2020

Australia is now the only member of the Five Eyes intelligence partnership without any far-right extremist individuals or groups on its terror list after New Zealand put the Christchurch mosque killer on its register.

Labor's home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally is calling for a national conversation on how convicted mass murderer Brenton Tarrant was radicalised in Australia.

The federal opposition has been calling for the Morrison government to send the criteria for the terror list to Parliament's powerful intelligence and security committee for a wide-scale review to make sure it is fit-for-purpose.

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced last week that the Australian-born Christchurch gunman would be put on its proscribed terror list.

While Australian security agencies have been monitoring and acting on the escalating threat of right-wing extremism, Australia has not listed any extreme right-wing groups as terrorist organisations on its proscribed list.

All of Australia's Five Eyes intelligence partners — Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States and NZ — have right-wing extremists groups or individuals listed as terrorist organisations.

In a speech to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute on Thursday night, Senator Keneally will say that Australia is "the odd one out".

She will say proscribing the Christchurch killer as a terrorist "would be symbolic, but it would be more than just symbolic".

"Some experts suggest that, in our increasingly networked world, any practical distinction between domestic and international terrorism has almost gone completely," Senator Keneally will say, according to a draft of the speech.

"Movements do not exist in isolation, but rather link and take inspiration from each other and from individuals within movements."

The Department of Home Affairs has previously said security agencies actively review which organisations should be listed, and it was longstanding practice not to comment on any consideration of the possible listing of terrorist organisations under the Criminal Code.

The decision to proscribe a terrorist organisation lies with the Governor-General, on the advice of the government, which then criminalises any membership or association with that group.

Along with proscription, Senator Keneally will say it is also important to prevent people from being radicalised, protect people online, name and shame individuals and groups and celebrate the country's multicultural society.

"Right-wing extremists are hiding in plain sight, on Facebook and other common use social media platforms," she will say.

"They use certain words and phrases that have everyday meanings but also convey coded content to those ‘in the know.’

"Both Twitter and Facebook have removed accounts and content relating to right wing extremists in recent months, but no doubt there is more than can be done to identify when people are searching for certain words or phrases to disrupt and deter them."

She will also say that Australia has not had "a serious, national conversation about how the Australian right-wing extremist who carried out the Christchurch terrorist attacks was radicalised, and the extent to which that radicalisation has its roots in Australian right-wing extremist groups".

"We must ask how ideas in Australian mainstream society encouraged him," she will say.

"Many of the ideas espoused in the right-wing extremist space have historical roots or have broader mainstream resonance and support. Take the generally positive notions of patriotism, pro-family, or ethnic pride. There’s nothing wrong with being patriotic or pro-family or proud of your ethnic background, of course - I consider myself all three."

In the three years prior to the attack, the Christchurch gunman spent a total of 45 days in Australia, and his last departure was in December 2018.

In his annual threat assessment in February, ASIO boss Mike Burgess said the threat of right-wing extremism was "real and growing", revealing small cells were regularly meeting in suburbs across Australia to salute Nazi flags, inspect weapons and train in combat.

ASIO has been on alert for extremists who could have been inspired by the Christchurch mosque killer and other massacres overseas.

The domestic security agency has redoubled its efforts to focus on right-wing extremism in recent years after an acknowledgement that it hadn't been on its radar to the same extent as Islamic terrorism.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/federal/keneally-calls-for-right-wing-extremists-to-be-put-on-terror-register-20200910-p55ubw.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_feed&utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1511841_

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North America

 

9/11 false flag marked the launch of new agenda of war and Orwellian fascism

10 September 2020

Dr. Kevin Barrett

It’s been 19 years since the mother of all false flags, the controlled demolition of the World Trade Center and the insider attack on the Pentagon. Those events divided history into a before and an after as predicted by a certain Dr. Philip Zelikow.

He is a professor of history at the University of Virginia, who predicted a few years before 9/11, that there would be a coming catastrophic event, consisting of the destruction of the World Trade Center, that would radically change the politics and collective psychology of the United States of America.

Dr. Zelikow predicted this in the 1998 article in Foreign Affairs Magazine, the flagship of the Council on Foreign Relations. And in that article, co-authored with John Deutsch, Zelikow essentially told us that as a self-professed expert in what he calls "the creation and maintenance of public myths”—and his first example of a public myth is the myth of the dastardly Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the US into World War Two—that as an expert in public myths, he can see that a coming catastrophic event, such as the destruction of the World Trade Center—and remember this is being written in 1998—would have this tremendous impact on America, dividing time into a before and an after. And in the "before," people were still living in a constitutional republican regime, or at least they thought they were, and after there would be massive crackdowns on civil liberties and there would be a whole new world.

So that was quite an interesting prediction, made in 1998 by Philip Zelikow who would go on to become the essentially sole author of The 9/11Commission Report, the official US government version of what supposedly happened that day. And this and other coincidences around Philip Zelikow have led many to suggest that Dr. Zelikow is a prime suspect. As one of the scriptwriters, perhaps a lead scriptwriter for the 9/11 false flag Hollywood style event, somebody who wrote the script for it in advance, Zelikow was charged with covering it up and putting out a ridiculous thriller novel called The 9/11 Commission Report. He presumably produced his novel, posing as an official government report, based on the script that he, perhaps along with others, had written before 2001, because this event was very carefully orchestrated.

It was a trauma-based mind control event, designed to traumatize the American people by showing them horrific images on television, confusing them at first about whether the images were real or simply a Hollywood movie of some kind, and pushing them into a kind of cognitive dissonance, which would paralyze them and allow the authorities to ram a new agenda of war and Orwellian fascism down their throats. And that's precisely what Zelikow and the other authors of the 9/11 false flag did to us here in the United States.

We've now spent more than $7 trillion on the 9/11 wars, which were entirely designed to benefit Israel. Remember Dr. Zelikow is a hardcore neoconservative Jewish Zionist as are all the other members, with a couple of minor exceptions, of the Project for the New American Century, which called for that 9/11 new Pearl Harbor exactly one year before it happened in their manifesto Rebuilding America's Defenses, which was a rewrite of Netanyahu's "Clean Break" document.

So all of this was designed to trick the United States into going to war to destroy the Middle East on behalf of Israel. And that's precisely what happened. $7 trillion American dollars later, the Middle East is largely in smoking ruins—although they haven't managed to go to all-out war against Iran yet, but they're still working on that. And the United States is bankrupt morally, spiritually, and of course financially.

So the, the Zionist neocons destroyed the United States with 9/11. Nobody in the United States believes anything that the government tells them anymore, which is why there's such a strong movement of people who refuse to wear masks, refuse to social distance, don't believe that there is such a thing as coronavirus. Because who can trust experts after the government terrorized most experts—with the brave exceptions of several thousand architects, engineers, and scientists who have been talking about the controlled demolitions—but most experts are terrorized into going along with this ludicrous story that these buildings that were obviously blown up, that anybody with third-grade physics can see are being blown up and disappearing at freefall acceleration symmetrically into their footprints—they're not just falling down randomly from office fires as the official story has it. Anybody can see this, and yet we're not allowed to admit that we see it, and the experts aren't either. So nobody trusts experts, nobody trusts the government. That's why a populist, anti-media, anti-government, anti-expert lunatic like Trump was elected.

The United States is swirling around the toilet bowl and about to go all the way down, thanks to the genius of those American insiders who authorized the Israelis to blow up the World Trade Center and murder nearly 3000 Americans on 9/11 and drag this country into absolute ruin and insanity.

Saudi connection and the so-called Mideast peace plan

Donald Trump is not just corrupt—which essentially all high level US politicians are, with the very few exceptions—but he's openly corrupt. He doesn't even try to hide it. And some people have mistaken this open dishonesty for honesty. And indeed Trump does blurt out uncommonly honest things every now and then. But he is a corrupt mafiosi, and as such he has developed close ties to the corrupt mafiosi who run these Persian Gulf dictatorships or kingdoms or whatever you want to call them. Essentially they're run by organized crime which is very comfortable for Trump. That's the world he comes from.

So he's good friends with the Saudi leadership and the Emirati leadership. And the Saudis, of course, were very much used in the September 11 false flag. The CIA or Zionist drug dealing, organized crime infiltrated elements of the CIA brought CIA assets – 15 young Saudis who were all CIA informants in Saudi Arabia—with the permission of Saudi authorities the CIA brought those people over here to the United States and set them up to take the blame for the bombing of the Trade Center and the Pentagon.

And so Trump when he was running for office said wait a minute you know 15 of the hijackers were Saudis. And he said you know if you elect me you'll find out who really did 9/11. And he hinted that it was the Saudis. So some people, the not so sophisticated people in the Truth movement, voted for him, thinking that this was the truth.

In fact, as soon as Trump was in office, he and his Kosher Nostra son-in-law, Jared Kushner, started cutting deals with the Saudis and other corrupt Middle Eastern despots and got on board with their genocide in Yemen. And they've been working very hard to essentially get surrender deals from these regimes to basically give up on the Palestinian cause and surrender and admit that Israeli genocide of Palestinians has succeeded and can stand.

So, Trump then, and his people, led by Kushner, are calling this some kind of a peace deal and a peace triumph. And Trump managed to get himself nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, which sounds impressive to anybody who doesn't realize that almost anybody can be nominated for Nobel Peace Prize. You just need to find it a couple of people (to nominate you). A friend of mine here in Madison, Wisconsin who hardly anybody's ever heard of, Bob Reuschlein, who's a good Peace Studies scholar, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize too, but still, almost nobody's ever heard of him.

In any case, Trump probably thinks that he's very very famous and popular and so on. Because Trump's living in a delusional world of his own ego. And so are the Israelis and the Saudis. These people are dinosaurs from another era that's rapidly ending, the era of Western imperialist domination of the region. And as the West crumbles and disappears and a new more multipolar world with the Chinese being the most powerful element takes its place, the American Imperial presence in that region, and presumably the Zionist genocidal expansion, will end.

Dr. Kevin Barrett is an American author, journalist and radio host with a Ph.D. in Islamic and Arabic Studies. He has been studying the events of 9/11 since late 2003. He’s a founding member of the Scientific Panel for the Investigation of 9/11.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/09/10/633813/911-was-designed-to-launch-new-agenda-of-Orwellian-fascism

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US set to mark anniversary of 9/11 attacks amid Trump Saudi cover-up

10 September 2020

Events are scheduled across the United States to mark 19 years since the September 11 attacks, which killed almost 3,000 people in New York, and led the US to launch its so-called war on terror across the globe.

Thousands of people will gather for rallies in large US cities, including New York City, Washington DC, Shanksville and Pennsylvania on Friday to remember the victims of the attacks, which occurred when hijacked jetliners crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

An event will be held in New York City, at the 9/11 Memorial, where mourners gather as they have every year since the attack, for the annual reading of victims' names from both the 1993 and 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Participants will also observe citywide moments of silence to remember the time American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower, and the moment that United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower.

Further moments of silence will be observed at 9:37 am, when American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon; at 9:59 am when the South Tower fell; at 10:03 am when United Flight 93 hit the ground near Shanksville, Pennsylvania; and at 10:28 am, when the North Tower collapsed.

Saudi Arabia’s name came to the fore soon after the attacks, as investigators concluded that 15 of the 19 hijackers involved in the raids were of Saudi origin.

The kingdom, the spiritual heartland of Wahhabism, has since managed to avoid any liability due to Washington’s attempts to shield Riyadh from any comeuppance.

In a development, earlier this year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) accidentally revealed, in a court filing, the identity of a Saudi diplomat, who is suspected of having directed support for two of the attacks.

The diplomat was identified as Mussaed Ahmed al-Jarrah, a Saudi Foreign Ministry official, who was assigned to the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC, in 1999 and 2000.

The FBI’s accidental disclosure of the name prompted families and lawyers of the victims to call on President Donald Trump to release documents about the embassy official.

The families seeking to sue Saudi Arabia for alleged involvement in the terror attacks, have long sought information about the diplomat.

But the Trump administration said since it was an erroneous disclosure, the name is still subject to a protective order and neither side is allowed to discuss it publicly.

The administration has also withheld the underlying evidence gathered by the FBI officials regarding al-Jarrah’s potential involvement.

It said the information is extremely sensitive and has cited various other objections to its release as it sought to protect Saudi Arabia, its close ally.

Some analysts say, based on known evidence, informed people have concluded that 9/11 was an inside job organized by then US Vice President Dick Cheney, his stable of neoconservatives, and Israel for the purpose of reconstructing the Middle East in Israel’s interest and enriching the US military/security complex in the process.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/09/10/633756/US-9-11-anniversary-events

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South Asia

 

4 Ansar al Islam members arrested in Dhaka, Rab claims

September 10, 2020

Rab claimed to have arrested four alleged members of banned militant group Ansar al Islam from Dhaka's Darussalam area last night.

The arrestees are: Amit Hossain alias Abul Kalam (38), Al Amin alias Tarik (32), Shihab Uddin (21) and Moniruzzaman alias Ratan (32).

A team of Rab first arrested Amit from in front of Hotel Royal at Dakkhin Bishil area and based on his information they later arrested three others, said Abdullah Al Mamun, operations officer of Rab-2.

They were planning to hold a meeting in the area. During primary interrogation, the arrestees admitted that they belong to the militant group, Mamun, also an assistant superintendent of police, claimed. 

Mamun said the arrestees used to gather in different parts of Dhaka for discussing their next course of action, operative recruitment, fund collection etc.

Rab is trying to arrest other operatives of the group, he said.

https://www.thedailystar.net/4-ansar-al-islam-members-arrested-in-dhaka-1959013

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Six prisoners sought by Taliban head to Qatar on flight from Afghan capital: Sources

10 September 2020

Six prisoners sought by the Taliban militant group have left the Afghan capital Kabul on a flight to Qatar, sources say, a move that will pave the way for long-awaited peace negotiations to begin.

The prisoners, whose identities were not yet disclosed, left Kabul on a flight to the Qatari capital Doha on Thursday evening, Reuters quoted two unnamed Afghan government sources as saying.   

The inmates were accused of carrying out insider attacks on Afghan government troops and their release were objected by a number of Western powers.

According to the sources, the prisoners are to be kept under supervision in Doha, where US-brokered peace talks will also initially take place.

“The six will remain in Qatar until the end of November and could be transferred back to Kabul,” one of the sources said.

Citing three government sources and a diplomatic one, Reuters further reported that the Afghan negotiating team as well as Abdullah Abdullah, the head of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), were planning to fly to Doha on Friday.

The opening ceremony for peace talks has been planned for Saturday followed by technical discussions on the agenda for negotiations, Reuters further said.

After months of delay, the peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban are expected to begin this weekend in an attempt to end 19 years of war in the Asian country.

Back in February, Washington reached an agreement on troop withdrawal from Afghanistan with the Taliban, according which “up to” 5,000 Taliban prisoners and 1,000 government prisoners would be released before talks.

Under the deal with the US, the militant group also agreed to stop its attacks on foreign forces.

The Afghan government was a party neither to the negotiations nor to the deal, but it has been acting in accordance with its terms, including by agreeing to free Taliban prisoners.

The Taliban have formerly refused to recognize the Afghan government as legitimate.

Afghanistan has been gripped by insecurity since the US and its allies invaded the country as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror in 2001. Many parts of the country remain plagued by militancy despite the presence of foreign troops.

Washington invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban-run government in 2001 on the pretext of fighting terrorism following the September 11 attacks in New York.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/09/10/633806/Afghanistan-Taliban-prisoners-Qatar-US-peace-talks-

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Arab World

 

Saudi Arabia: Two militants sentenced to death over terror attack

September 09, 2020 16:00

Ramadan Al Sherbini

Cairo: A Saudi court today sentenced two militants to death on charges of involvement in a 2014 attack on a Shiite gathering and links to the terrorist Daesh group, the news portal Sabq reported.

Both convicts did not show up at a court session held last week when rulings against co- defendants were delivered, according to the report.

Last Wednesday, the court handed down death sentences to seven other defendants and a 25-year-jail term to each of three others in the same case. All the rulings are preliminary.

The 2014 attack in the eastern Saudi region of Al Ihsa killed eight people, including three children.

https://gulfnews.com/world/gulf/saudi/saudi-arabia-two-militants-sentenced-to-death-over-terror-attack-1.73730363?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1511841_

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Recent US Sanctions Increase Risk for Potential Hezbollah Allies

By Namo Abdulla

September 09, 2020

WASHINGTON - A U.S. government decision Tuesday to sanction two former Lebanese government ministers is the latest unprecedented campaign against Hezbollah, with some observers saying the move dramatically increases the risk for Lebanese politicians to engage with the U.S.-designated terror group.

The Trump administration said it blacklisted former Minister of Transportation and Public Works Yusuf Finyanus and former Minister of Finance Ali Hassan Khalil because they had helped Hezbollah bypass U.S. sanctions and profit from multimillion-dollar government contracts.

Firas Maksad, an adjunct professor and researcher on Lebanon at George Washington University, said that Lebanon’s economy is highly dollarized, giving Washington a “tremendous leverage” to use sanctions to deter Lebanon’s political groups from cozying up to the Iran proxy when the country is trying to form a new government.

“In the past when the U.S. Treasury had moved to designate Lebanese banks, those banks would fall within 24 hours,” Maksad told VOA by phone. “These sanctions, in particular, are different and of a more significant caliber because it’s the first time that they target two former ministers.”

“Lebanese political and business actors are now much more cognizant of the risks working together with Hezbollah,” he added.

Khalil is a member of the Shiite Amal Movement, and Finyanus is a member of Christian political party Marada Movement. Both groups have denounced the designations, calling them a U.S. attack “targeting Lebanon and its sovereignty,” according to Reuters.

While announcing the sanctions, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement accused Hezbollah of exploiting Lebanon’s political system to spread “its malign influence.”

“The United States stands with the people of Lebanon in their calls for reform and will continue to use its authorities to target those who oppress and exploit them,” Mnuchin said.

Power sharing

Since its independence from France in 1943, Lebanon has practiced a complicated parliamentary system called “consociationalism” to divide power among the country’s three main groups, the Sunnis, Shiites and Maronite Christians.

As such, the country’s president has been a Maronite, the prime minister a Sunni and the parliament speaker a Shiite.

Unlike many Mideast countries, Lebanon is not an oil-rich nation, and more than 80% of its GDP comes from service sectors such as banking, tourism and construction. The U.S. Treasury says Hezbollah owns companies that are deeply involved in Lebanon’s economy.

‘Internal dissent’

The August 4 blast, caused by nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a highly populated civilian area, has led to the resignation of government and calls for deep political reform in the former French colony.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who has visited Lebanon twice since the explosion, is leading an international effort to help Lebanon achieve economic recovery and political reform.

While no one expects the powerful influence of Iran-backed Hezbollah to disappear anytime soon, experts say international pressure is key to bringing about radical change in Lebanon.

“Hezbollah is still holding out,” said Phillip Smyth, a scholar on Shiite political movements at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Within the Lebanese government, they have strong allies and a very strong position. However, I would say they are facing internal dissent from a number of directions.”

He added, “Following the blast, Hezbollah, with its dominant position, has become the face of the very corruption which spans across the Lebanese government.”

Next week, Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib is expected to form a new Cabinet. Some observers say the recent U.S. sanctions are likely to influence the direction of the new government.

“If the French president's approach to Lebanon's ruling class was too soft, the American mode included heavy sticks,” said Sam Bazzi, the founder of Hezbollah Watch blog.

“This will hopefully break the stalemate in the country and create the opportunity for Adib to form the deliverance government that Lebanon desperately needs,” Bazzi said.

Mehdi Jedinia contributed to this story from Washington.

https://www.voanews.com/extremism-watch/recent-us-sanctions-increase-risk-potential-hezbollah-allies?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1511841_

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In Lebanon, firefighters put out remains of Beirut port fire

11 September 2020

Lebanese firefighters and army helicopters on Friday put out the remains of a huge fire at Beirut’s port that had flared up a day earlier, barely a month after a massive blast devastated the port and the surrounding area.

Thursday’s fire, which officials said was sparked by welding during repair work after last month’s port explosion, covered several districts of Beirut in a huge cloud of black, acrid smoke, causing panic in a city still on edge after the blast.

The Aug. 4 port blast exacerbated challenges in a nation that is grappling with a deep economic crisis and facing the biggest threat to its stability since a 1975-1990 civil war.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

The civil defense said in a statement that firefighters had extinguished the flames on Friday morning after working through the night, and were cooling the site to avoid it flaring up again.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said at a meeting of the Supreme Defence Council on Thursday night that the fire could have been caused by sabotage, technical error or negligence. He called for a swift investigation.

Read more: Major fire in Beirut port triggers ‘fear and panic’ among already distressed citizens

Many Lebanese are frustrated that they have yet to be told about any initial findings from an investigation into last month’s explosion that killed about 190 people and injured 6,000.

The government resigned after the port blast, and Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib is racing to form a new cabinet by early next week to meet a two-week deadline agreed under French pressure. Forming a government in Lebanon usually takes months.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/09/11/In-Lebanon-firefighters-put-out-remains-of-Beirut-port-fire

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Sri Lankan tea donation controversy in Lebanon is tempest in a teapot: Ambassador

Jacob Boswall

10 September 2020

A social media storm over a donation of Ceylon tea from the Sri Lankan government has been blown out of proportion, according to Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Lebanon.

“If you want some tea, I can give you some tea. But don’t make a mountain out of it,” ambassador Shani Calyaneratne Karunaratne told Al Arabiya English.

Karunaratne has no intention of confiscating the controversial gift, despite receiving countless emails requesting the embassy to do so.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

“I am very surprised why the people of Lebanon are saying such nasty things about their own head of state. I don’t think the head of state will stand on the road and hand it out to people tea bag by tea bag,” she said.

In late August, Karunaratne presented President Michel Aoun with a donation of 1,675 kilograms of Ceylon tea.

According to a tweet from the President’s office, the donation was intended for those affected by the Beirut port explosion.

But the President’s office later announced that the tea had been distributed to the families of soldiers in the presidential guard, provoking a barrage of criticism.

For many Lebanese, it was another example of international donations going to the wrong people. Using the hashtag “Where is the Ceylon?” many Twitter users blasted Aoun and called for greater accountability and transparency regarding donations following the explosion.

“We heartily thank you for the aid Sri Lanka sent to Lebanon... But once again, our government took the aid you sent and left nothing at all for the people,” said one user, addressing the ambassador.

But Karunaratne lambasted the critics, pointing out that it is international protocol to give donations to the head of state.

“We gave it to the president. I have no problem in him giving it to anyone he likes.”

Asked whether she sympathizes with Aoun’s critics, such as the protesters who called for his resignation during the recent anti-government protests, Karunaratne refused to comment.

“I don’t get involved in the internal matters of any country. This has nothing to do with a foreign state, we are friendly toward all citizens of Lebanon and the head of state is the head of state.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/09/10/Sri-Lankan-tea-donation-controversy-in-Lebanon-is-tempest-in-a-teapot-Ambassador

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Yazidi activists call out militia rule in Iraq after double killing in Sinjar

Lemma Shehadi

10 September 2020

The murder of two men from an Arab tribe has sparked fresh calls against militia rule in the Iraqi mountain region of Sinjar.

Four men suspected of the killings were detained on 6 September, and revealed to be members of the Sinjar Protection Units (YBS), a Yazidi militia which is affiliated to the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).

Yazidi activists condemned the killings, and accused the YBS of deliberately exacerbating sectarian tensions.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

“It was a politically provocative move, designed to incite hatred between Yazidis and their Arab neighbors,” said Ibrahim Khudida Kasso in a video statement issued by the Sinjar-based civil society group Yazidi House, “Yazidis have always had good relations with the Al Shammari tribe, who confronted IS terrorists and made sacrifices.”

Local reports say that the government has agreed to send special anti-terrorism forces to Sinjar, after a request from MP Nayef Al Shammari, a politician from the tribe whose members were killed.

The event is yet another example of Baghdad’s inability to rein in paramilitary groups, who act with impunity and disregard Iraqi rule of law.

Once controlled by ISIS, Sinjar has been controlled by armed groups allied to Baghdad since its liberation in 2015. These include the Iran-backed Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU) and the YBS.

Their presence has hampered humanitarian aid and reconstruction efforts, and poses a security threat for the tens of thousands of displaced people waiting to return to Sinjar.

In an interview for the Iraqi television channel Al Sharqiya on 7 September, a leader of Al Shammari tribe whose members were killed, Sheikh Abdullah Al Shammari, accused the PKK and its affiliated groups of destabilizing Sinjar.

“Their transgressions have led to killing and war,” he said, “Arabs, Yazidis and Kurds have historically co-existed here. We fought against al-Qaeda and ISIS and paid dearly [to protect] our neighbourhoods.”

The YBS is also accused by Yazidi activists of harassment, kidnapping and recruiting minors into their forces. Neighbouring Turkey, which views the PKK as an existential threat, launched airstrikes on Sinjar earlier this year.

In the televised interview, Al Shammari called on the newly-appointed Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi to restore Iraqi rule of law in Sinjar. “The authorities should recruit the people of Sinjar into the army and police, so that they can protect their neighbourhoods.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/09/10/Yazidi-activists-call-out-militia-rule-in-Iraq-after-double-killing-in-Sinjar

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Africa

 

Huge explosions rocks Jordan military arms depot in Zarqa

11 September 2020

A loud explosion has been heard in Jordan’s city of Zarqa, with several videos circulating on social media showing a loud ball of fire lighting up the night sky.

A series of large explosions rocked a Jordanian army base outside the city of Zarqa on the northeastern edge of capital Amman, a security source told Reuters.

— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) September 10, 2020

Several Jordanian media outlets reported of several injuries as a result of an explosion at the al-Ghabawi ammunition depot area in Zarqa.

Government spokesman Amjad al-Adaileh said in his statement that "so far no injuries have been recorded."

An initial investigation had determined that "the explosion was caused by an electrical short circuit in warehouses situated in an isolated and uninhabited area" which was under camera surveillance.

The army, which swiftly closed off the area, acknowledged that there had been an explosion "in one of the ammunition depots which is being dismantled near the city of Zarqa."

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/09/11/Explosions-heard-in-the-Jordanian-city-of-Zarqa-Reports

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Rival Libya factions agree criteria for key posts during Morocco talks

10 September 2020

Delegates from rival Libyan administrations on Thursday agreed at talks in Morocco on criteria for appointments to their country’s key institutions, a joint statement said.

They also agreed to pause the talks and resume discussions during the last week of September, according to the accord read out by Idris Omran of Libya’s eastern parliament.

For all the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Initial talks between five members of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and five from Libya’s eastern parliament took place from Sunday to Tuesday, yielding a joint statement pointing to “important compromises”, but without divulging details.

The negotiations, dubbed the “Libyan Dialogue” in the coastal town of Bouznika, south of Morocco’s capital Rabat, resumed behind closed doors on Thursday, the AFP correspondent said.

In the evening Omran read out a joint statement to reporters saying the delegates had agreed “the criteria, transparent mechanisms and objectives” for key posts.

He did not give further details but said the two sides would meet again during the last week of September to finalize mechanisms “that would guarantee the implementation and activation” of the agreement.

The naming of the heads of Libya’s central bank, its National Oil Corporation and the armed forces have been the main points of dispute, according to Libyan media.

Parallel to the Morocco talks, “consultations” took place in Montreux, Switzerland this week between Libyan stakeholders and members of UNSMIL, said Stephanie Williams, the UN’s interim envoy to Libya.

The meetings held between September 7-9 were a follow-up to a call made by the rival Libyan administrations on August 22 calling for an end to hostilities and nationwide elections.

Held under the auspices of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, the Montreux talks “provide a basis for all responsible Libyan stakeholders to forge the way forward”, the UN envoy said.

Libya has endured almost a decade of violent chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed veteran dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2020/09/11/Rival-Libya-factions-agree-criteria-for-key-posts-during-Morocco-talks

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Africa providing 'safe haven' to Islamist terror groups, special forces commander says

By Mike Glenn

September 9, 2020

A top U.S. commander warned Wednesday that terror groups such as al Qaeda and Islamic State are finding new sanctuaries in Africa where they can rebuild their forces and attract new recruits.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Dagvin Anderson, head of special operations for U.S. Africa Command, sounded the alarm even as the Pentagon was announcing the death of senior leader of the Somali terror group al-Shabab in a U.S. airstrike last month. Abulqadir Commandos, reportedly a senior commander of the jihadist group, was killed near Saakow, Somalia, on Aug. 25, U.S. officials said.

While groups such as the Islamic State and al Qaeda have been battered by attacks from the U.S. and allied nations over the past few years in the Middle East and Afghanistan, they are increasingly relying on Africa as a safe haven where they can reconstitute their dwindling numbers, while co-opting local fighters into their ranks, U.S. commanders say.

Maj. Gen. Anderson noted that both terrorist groups have frequently stated they intend to attack and undermine the United States.

“Africa is providing them that safe haven, that venue where they can establish themselves,” he said Wednesday during an online interview with the American Enterprise Institute.

Some regional militants in Africa are now primarily identifying themselves as members of transnational terrorist groups like al Qaeda rather than their local tribes. Once they become aligned, their goals have changed, Maj. Gen. Anderson said.

“They’re identifying themselves as al Qaeda. They often carry pictures of [Osama bin Laden],” he said.

Affiliates of the Islamic State coming from Mozambique, for example, have become more violent and now pose a greater threat to the region, Maj. Gen. Anderson said.

With their historical connections to the continent, the French have taken a lead role in the fight against jihadist militants in Africa. The pressure from French military forces has changed the narrative, Maj. Gen. Anderson said.

The terrorists, he said “are spreading out. They’re much more blunt and direct. They appeal to the disaffected who want to take action.”

Even without bin Laden, al Qaeda remains a threat in Africa. And unlike Islamic State, al Qaeda affiliates and allied groups tend to operate more under the radar, he said.

“They don’t want to draw attention from the West, especially the United States,” he said. “They are very cautious [and] stay below that threshold.”

The Somalia-based al-Shabab, which has sworn allegiance to al Qaeda, has proven to be a particularly formidable foe, taking advantage of a weak central government in Mogadishu to withstand a fierce U.S.-led campaign. Although the group has largely been contained to the southern parts of Somalia, it has carved out a de facto safe haven there, Maj. Gen. Anderson said.

“It has allowed them to develop their planning, their financing and their media operations to a high degree,” he said.

The death of Commandos last month is likely to prove an organizational setback for al-Shabab.

“Operations such as this strike at the heart of al-Shabab and are critical to degrading their ability to spread chaos and violence in Somalia and beyond,” Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of U.S. Africa Command, said in a statement.

In addition to Commandos, several other key al-Shabab leaders have been killed in U.S. precision airstrikes in recent months.

“With our Somali partners, we continue to weaken the al-Shabab network by removing key leaders from its ranks. Doing so makes Somalia and America safer,” Gen. Townsend said.

But Maj. Gen. Anderson cautioned that the U.S. military needs a coherent strategy to engage in Africa. U.S. Africa Command provides support for operations and is currently training Somali security forces to help build the country’s defense capability.

“We can compete very effectively in Africa. Many nations want to partner with the United States,” Maj. Gen. Anderson said. “We have the will and the values to engage with our partners as equals.”

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/sep/9/africa-providing-safe-haven-islamist-terror-groups/?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1511841_

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Mideast

 

IRGC Launches Massive Anti-Terrorism Operations in Northwestern Iran

Sep 10, 2020

The security operations had been conducted in the course of the past week, destroying strongholds of counter-revolutionary terror groups along the country’s Northwestern borders.

Drones, artillery fire and smart missiles were used in the operations, which killed and wounded a large number of key counter-revolutionary elements active in the area.

Huge amounts of weapons, ammunition and booby traps were confiscated from the terrorists.

The week-long operations, which were carried out under the supervision of IRGC Ground Force Commander Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour, was one of the largest of its kind.

Huge losses were inflicted on the counter-revolutionary groups and their bases were rendered inoperational.

The IRGC forces regularly engage in clashes with terrorists attempting to infiltrate the borders and carry out acts of sabotage across the country.

Back in May, the IRGC’s Hamzeh Seyed al-Shohada Base said a number of terrorists had been killed as the IRGC forces carried out a security operation in the Western province of Kordestan, which borders Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

Last month, the IRGC forces destroyed a team of terrorists in the vicinity of Northwestern Iranian city of Maku in West Azarbaijan Province.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990620000580

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Iranian President Warns of Zionists' Plots against Islamic Sanctities

Sep 10, 2020

"Today we are in a special situation. On one hand, the Zionists are conspiring in our region and unfortunately they are deceiving some Muslim and Arab countries in the region, so we must be sensitive to Palestinian issue," Rouhani said on Thursday, addressing a ceremony to inaugurate a number of national projects via video conference.

"On the other hand, the Zionists are recreating the path of insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in some cases and magazines. They republished an insulting cartoon. This means that we are in a special situation today," he added.

"We must defend Iran, Islam, our interests and values well," Rouhani said, adding, "Fortunately, all over our country, people are showing their sensitivity to any incident that occurs, whether it is the Zionist conspiracy for Palestine or the conspiracy against Islamic culture."

"They declare to the world that we will continue to support the oppressed and stand against any bully well," the President noted.

Supporters of right-wing Danish politician Rasmus Paludan, who leads the anti-Islamic group, Tight Direction (Stram Kurs), burned a copy of Holy Qur’an in the Southern Swedish city of Malmo during an illegal gathering on August 28.

Also, on September 1, the ill-reputed French Magazine Charlie Hebdo also republished blasphemous cartoons of the Prophet of Islam on the eve of the trial of suspects in a deadly attack on the paper’s office five years ago.

People across the world and different cities of Iran are holding rallies to protest at the recent insulting moves against Islam Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and the holy Quran in the European states, condemning French President Emanuel Macron for his support for the blasphemous acts.

University students, ordinary people and seminaries in the Central city of Qom gathered at one of the main squares, deploring the sacrilege of sanctities of Muslims.

They protested at the ill-reputed French Magazine Charlie Hebdo’s republishing the blasphemous cartoons of Prophet of Islam (PBUH) on the eve of the trial of suspects in a deadly attack on the paper’s office five years ago.

Also, a large number of people in the Northeastern city of Mashhad gathered in front of the Iranian foreign ministry’s office in the city, condemning the French magazine’s repetition of its blasphemous act.

They chanted “Death to the US”, “Death to France” as well as slogans against Macron.

University students in the capital also held a protest gathering in front of the French embassy at Neauphle-le-Château street in Tehran on Wednesday to show their anger at Macron’s support for sacrilege of Islam Prophet (PBUH) under the pretext of freedom of expression, while more rallies have been vowed for Thursday.

The rally was held on Wednesday in condemnation of the decision by Charlie Hebdo to recirculate cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad.

The demonstrators from all walks of life, including university students, held placards in condemnation of the Islamophobic move.

They also criticized French President Emmanuel Macron’s refusal to condemn the blasphemous cartoons in the name of freedom of expression, arguing the move cannot be justified by any means under the pretext of freedom of speech.

The rallies also issued a statement, which condemned the heinous move, and said it violated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“The move not only proved the false nature of the threadbare slogans of Western societies regarding freedom of expression, but it also explicitly revealed the complicity of the Zionist lobby in France in carrying out a plan aimed at diverting Muslims' attention away from behind-the-scene realities of crimes happening in West Asia,” read part of the statement.

Calls for holding protest rallies on Thursday in other provinces and cities, including Tehran, Mazandaran, Yasouj and Hamedan, have also circulated in the social media against the insulting moves.

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei in a statement on Tuesday condemned the blasphemous acts against the holy Quran and Great Prophet of Islam (PBUH), warning that they are aimed at derailing attention from the plots hatched by the US and the Zionists against the region.

“This move made at this point in time might also serve another motive; diverting the minds and attention of nations and governments in West Asia away from the evil schemes that the US and the Zionist regime have hatched for the region,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

He described sacrilege of the holy Quran and Great Prophet of Islam (PBUH) as an “unforgivable sin”, saying that it showed again the enmity of the western political and cultural bodies against Islam and Muslims.

Ayatollah Khamenei also lambasted Macron and other French politicians for supporting the blasphemous acts, dismissing it as wrong and demagogic.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990620000492

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Iranian Army: French Magazine's Blasphemous Act Displays West's Hatred for Muslims

Sep 10, 2020

In a statement on Thursday, the Islamic Republic of Iran's Army condemned the blasphemous move taken by Charlie Hebdo magazine in insulting Holy Prophet of Islam (PBUH), saying that this move is in line with the efforts of the Zionist regime and the United States against the determination of Muslims.

This insulting and racist act of Charlie Hebdo's Magazine shows, above all, the stubbornness and hatred of the Western world towards Muslims, it added.

The Islamic Republic of Iran Army strongly condemns this move and considers these desperate moves in line with the efforts of the helpless Zionism and the defeated US against the determination of the Muslims of the world, the statement said.

Supporters of right-wing Danish politician Rasmus Paludan, who leads the anti-Islamic group, Tight Direction (Stram Kurs), burned a copy of Holy Qur’an in the Southern Swedish city of Malmo during an illegal gathering on August 28.

Also, on September 1, the ill-reputed French Magazine Charlie Hebdo also republished blasphemous cartoons of the Prophet of Islam on the eve of the trial of suspects in a deadly attack on the paper’s office five years ago.

People across the world and different cities of Iran are holding rallies to protest at the recent insulting moves against Islam Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and the holy Quran in the European states, condemning French President Emanuel Macron for his support for the blasphemous acts.

University students, ordinary people and seminaries in the Central city of Qom gathered at one of the main squares, deploring the sacrilege of sanctities of Muslims.

They protested at the ill-reputed French Magazine Charlie Hebdo’s republishing the blasphemous cartoons of Prophet of Islam (PBUH) on the eve of the trial of suspects in a deadly attack on the paper’s office five years ago.

Also, a large number of people in the Northeastern city of Mashhad gathered in front of the Iranian foreign ministry’s office in the city, condemning the French magazine’s repetition of its blasphemous act.

They chanted “Death to the US”, “Death to France” as well as slogans against Macron.

University students in the capital also held a protest gathering in front of the French embassy at Neauphle-le-Château street in Tehran on Wednesday to show their anger at Macron’s support for sacrilege of Islam Prophet (PBUH) under the pretext of freedom of expression, while more rallies have been vowed for Thursday.

The rally was held on Wednesday in condemnation of the decision by Charlie Hebdo to recirculate cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad.

The demonstrators from all walks of life, including university students, held placards in condemnation of the Islamophobic move.

They also criticized French President Emmanuel Macron’s refusal to condemn the blasphemous cartoons in the name of freedom of expression, arguing the move cannot be justified by any means under the pretext of freedom of speech.

The rallies also issued a statement, which condemned the heinous move, and said it violated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“The move not only proved the false nature of the threadbare slogans of Western societies regarding freedom of expression, but it also explicitly revealed the complicity of the Zionist lobby in France in carrying out a plan aimed at diverting Muslims' attention away from behind-the-scene realities of crimes happening in West Asia,” read part of the statement.

Calls for holding protest rallies on Thursday in other provinces and cities, including Tehran, Mazandaran, Yasouj and Hamedan, have also circulated in the social media against the insulting moves.

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei in a statement on Tuesday condemned the blasphemous acts against the holy Quran and Great Prophet of Islam (PBUH), warning that they are aimed at derailing attention from the plots hatched by the US and the Zionists against the region.

“This move made at this point in time might also serve another motive; diverting the minds and attention of nations and governments in West Asia away from the evil schemes that the US and the Zionist regime have hatched for the region,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

He described sacrilege of the holy Quran and Great Prophet of Islam (PBUH) as an “unforgivable sin”, saying that it showed again the enmity of the western political and cultural bodies against Islam and Muslims.

Ayatollah Khamenei also lambasted Macron and other French politicians for supporting the blasphemous acts, dismissing it as wrong and demagogic.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990620000505

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Turkey arrests journalist for ‘insulting’ Turkish sultan on Twitter

Emily Judd

10 September 2020

Turkish authorities arrested a journalist on Monday for “insulting” a medieval Turkish sultan on Twitter.

Freelance Turkish journalist Oktay Candemir told Al Arabiya English he was arrested, and his house raided due to “a tweet that satirized Ottoman history.”

Candemir now faces the charge of “insulting the memory of a dead person,” according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), for his September 3 tweet about a historical drama series produced by Turkey’s state news agency TRT.

“Authorities allege that the tweet insulted Ertugrul Ghazi, a sultan who died around 1280,” according to CPJ citing Turkish reports.

Ghazi was the father of Osman I, the founder of the Ottoman Empire.

Candemir said the tweet intended to make fun of the television series - not to insult historical figures, according to the Media and Legal Studies Association.

He could face up to two years in prison if convicted.

Candemir told Al Arabiya English he does not expect a fair trial in Turkey.

“A fair trial is not possible because the jurisdiction is controlled in Turkey,” Candemir said in an interview.

Candemir said his charge is an attempt to “make journalists feel under pressure,” according to the Media and Legal Studies Association.

His computer has been confiscated by the Turkish government and he is subject to a foreign travel ban.

Consequences of insulting the current Turkish leader

Other journalists have been imprisoned for “insulting” the current Turkish leader President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, including former editor of Turkey’s leading English language daily newspaper Bulent Kenes.

Article 299 of Turkey’s penal code “criminalizes insulting the President of the Republic.”

Kenes, who is now living in exile in Europe, told Al Arabiya English that the detention of Candemir is “not surprising.”

“Arbitrary arrests are new norms” of the Turkish government under Erdogan, who “tries to control not only the words, but also the thoughts of the people,” Kenes said.

“Journalist Candemir’s weird detention is just a new caricature of the current despicable state of freedom of expression in Erdogan’s Turkey,” said Kenes.

Candemir’s arrest follows a clampdown on media freedoms in Turkey.

On July 29, the Turkish parliament approved a law that makes it possible for authorities to cut websites’ internet traffic bandwidth by 90 percent if they fail to abide by government requests to remove content.

It was announced on July 1 that at least 11 people were detained for social media posts that mocked Erdogan's daughter and son-in-law.

“Do you see why we oppose social media like YouTube, Twitter, Netflix?” Erdogan told members of his party in a televised address at the time.

“These platforms do not suit this nation. We want to shut down, control [them] by bringing [a bill] to parliament as soon as possible,” he added.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/09/10/Turkey-arrests-journalist-for-insulting-Turkish-sultan-on-Twitter

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Ansarullah denounces Britain's interference in Yemen's domestic affairs

10 September 2020

The spokesman for Yemen's Houthi Ansarullah movement has censured Britain's blatant interference in the internal affairs of the Arab country, after British Ambassador to Yemen Michael Aron accused Yemeni armed forces of fomenting clashes in the strategic central province of Ma’rib.

“As usual, the British ambassador tends to utter remarks and put out statements about the independent Republic of Yemen, not knowing the fact that the mercenaries and traitors whom he meets do not represent the nation. They solely think of money and are ready to sell the country and compromise its interests,” Mohammed Abdul-Salam said in a statement on Thursday.

He added that the Yemeni nation does not accept to be under the auspices of any party and firmly rejects interference in Yemen’s internal affairs, stressing that Aron’s latest remarks clearly indicate the failure of the Saudi-led aggression and the siege against Yemen.

“Whenever the pawns fail to achieve their goals, the chief architects of the aggression [against Yemen] intervene to disseminate their ideologies, cause commotion and express their dissatisfaction that the United Nations is not run according to their wills and ambitions,” Abdul-Salam pointed out.

“The world public opinion knows that the aggression and siege on Yemen are parts of a US-British scenario being played out by the vassal regimes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,” he highlighted.

Abdul-Salam then criticized the United Nations for praising officials affiliated to the administration of former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, blaming them for the persistence of the Yemen conflict, and failure to lift the Saudi-led blockade and to work out a comprehensive and just political solution to the crisis.

“We strongly call for a complete ceasefire and an immediate cessation of all military and reconnaissance operations. We also demand an end to the siege, and expect the political process to take its natural course without any threats or pressure,” the senior Yemeni official said.

Aron tweeted on Tuesday that he had spoken to pro-Hadi Ma'rib Governor Sultan al-Aradh, blaming Ansarullah fighters for the uptick in military activities in Ma’rib province.

He also urged the Houthis to take the role of UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths seriously.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched the campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing Hadi’s government back to power.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 100,000 lives for more than the past five years.

The Houthi movement, backed by the armed forces, has been defending Yemen against the Saudi-led alliance, preventing the aggressors from fulfilling the objectives of their deadly campaign.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/09/10/633797/Ansarullah-denounces-Britain-s-interference-in-Yemen-domestic-affairs

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Southeast Asia

 

FB post by Perak PAS leader said I had no respect for Islam, says Guan Eng

September 10, 2020

GEORGE TOWN: Former Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng told the High Court here today that a post uploaded and shared by Perak PAS commissioner Razman Zakaria on his Facebook account indicated that Lim did not respect Islam.

Lim, who was testifying in his suit against Razman over a fake image link on the latter’s Facebook page, said the post uploaded by the defendant was defamatory, offensive, misleading and untrue.

“The slanderous statement that I supported a policy prohibiting Muslim hotel workers from wearing headscarves while working, had affected my position and reputation as an individual and also as Penang chief minister at the time,” he said in his witness statement read out before Judicial Commissioner Amarjeet Singh.

Lim said he also never made any statement during his tenure as Penang chief minister in support of any policy prohibiting Muslim women hotel employees at reception counters from wearing headscarves.

The former finance minister said the defendant, as an experienced politician holding a high position in his party, should be aware of the adverse consequences that might arise from such a defamatory statement.

On Jan 22, 2018, Lim filed a suit against Razman for uploading a fake image on his (Razman) social media account and posting a statement that was defamatory, false and malicious against Lim on Nov 18, 2017.

Razman stated in his post that Lim appeared to be supporting the ban on wearing headscarves, which was the right of hotel operators, and that Penang fully supported it.

In his statement of claim, Lim said the words used in Razman’s post were from an unauthentic source and were aimed at tarnishing his name and reputation, and portrayed the plaintiff as a leader who had no respect for Islam and Malay culture.

Lim is seeking general, exemplary and aggravated damages, and other relief deemed fit by the court in addition to applying for an order to prevent the defendant from issuing or publishing the same post again on any platform.

The court then set Nov 5 for oral submission by both parties.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2020/09/10/fb-post-by-perak-pas-leader-said-i-had-no-respect-for-islam-says-guan-eng/

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Vernacular schools have not eroded national identity, says academic group

Hakimie Amrie Hisamudin

September 11, 2020

SUBANG JAYA: The Malaysian Academic Movement (Gerak) has slammed a call for the abolition of vernacular schools, arguing that such schools have not eroded the national identity.

Speaking on the sidelines of the launch of the National Patriots Association’s (Patriot) poem titled “Obor Akinabalu”, Gerak secretary-general Rosli Mahat said the medium of instruction of vernacular schools did not affect the spirit of patriotism.

“Vernacular schools have been in the country for a long time. I have gone through the system and I don’t see anything wrong with it,” he said.

“Language has nothing to do with whether you are patriotic or not. Language does not represent the love for our country.”

Rosli said this in response to Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal’s call for such schools to be abolished in stages.

Wan Ahmad Fayshal, who is also the PPBM Youth chief, claimed that vernacular schools had not produced students who possess a “strong national identity”.

Rosli said this issue had been politicised for personal interest and to garner support.

He said if the Malay language was really important in nurturing the national identity, it should be used in all sectors.

“If language is an important factor, then ask universities and PhD students to use Malay as well,” he said.

He said people should question why parents were keen to send their children to vernacular schools instead of national schools.

“What is wrong with the education system in national schools? That is what people should focus on.”

On the sexual harassment case involving a Universiti Malaya senior lecturer, Rosli expressed frustration over the decision by the Attorney-General’s Chambers to drop the case.

“We are surprised by the decision because sexual harassment is a serious crime, and police should have taken action,” he said.

He said there had been a decline in academic ethics and value.

“Universities are so focused on climbing the ranking when they should be focusing on academic ethical values and rights. Ranking is nothing without rights,” he said.

Meanwhile, Patriot president Mohamed Arshad Raji urged the government to severely punish those who pollute the country’s water sources.

“Apart from the culprits, punishment must also be meted out to politicians and public servants who fail in their responsibilities to ensure the safety of our drinking water,” he said when commenting on the Sungai Gong pollution incident.

“Obor Akinabalu” is a critical and hard-hitting poem directed at politicians and political parties that seem to put their own interests first, instead of the country’s.

Patriot said the poem reflected a bottled-up frustration of the people not only those in Sabah but also most Malaysians.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2020/09/11/vernacular-schools-have-not-eroded-national-identity-says-academic-group/

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