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Islamic World News ( 4 March 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Colours of Holi Smear Muslims, Hindus in Pakistan

 

 

Wedding guests were left horrified after a couple held an Islamic State (IS) themed wedding

 

 

 

Pakistan

Colours of Holi Smear Muslims, Hindus in Pakistan

Pakistan Religious Schools in Spotlight

Pakistan, Saudi Arabia Vow to Jointly Fight Extremism

Iran demands Pakistan extradite suspected Iranian militant

Senate polls: Elections suspended in KP, Punjab following rigging allegations

Halal food regulatory body to be constituted

Baloch rights activists barred from going to US

Pakistan to welcome delay in US pullout from Afghanistan: envoy

Some ‘N’ MPAs may ‘breach’ party lines

Shia lawyer shot dead in Pakistan

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South Asia

Islamic Militancy Rises in Blood-Stained Bangladesh Orchards

Afghan Forces Kill Dozens of Militants in Hostage Rescue Op

PM, Sheikh Hasina, For Unity of Muslim Ummah

Top U.S. general in Afghanistan leaves door open to altering drawdown plan

'India, China, Pakistan should work more closely in Afghanistan'

Bomb blast at 14-party gathering

Bangladesh becoming a top spot for Muslim travellers

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Arab World

Shariah Rule ‘Sovereign Saudi Right’, Says President HRC

Islamic State-Themed Wedding Party in Egypt

Islamic State Group Turning Yazidi Boys into Jihadists

Blast, clashes kill dozens at intel HQ in Syria’s Aleppo: monitor

Concern grows for civilians as Iraq tightens noose on Tikrit

Iraqis Want Lead Role in Driving ISIS from Mosul

Iraq jihadists slow Tikrit advance with bombs and snipers

Taking back Tikrit and Mosul from Islamic State isn’t necessarily a good thing

No Tears for Egyptian Christians in a Muslim Brotherhood-Friendly White House

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India

Kerala Jamiyyathul Ulema General Secretary Calls IS Enemy of Islam

Indian Muslims 'Vital Players' In Advancing Shared Vision: US

Maharashtra govt scraps quota for Muslims in education

Hurriyat wants PMs of India, Pak to talk

FS meets Afghan President, top officials; discusses security concerns

Jaishankar briefed on coming talks with Taliban

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North America

Cardinal Dolan: Islamic State Is Muslim Like Irish Republican Army Was Catholic

New York Public Schools Add Two Muslim Holidays to Calendar

Quds Force Leader, Commanding Iraqi Forces against ISIS, Alarms Washington

Virginia teen accused of being ISIS recruiter

Al-Qaeda founder turned spy speaks out against 'psychopathic' Islamic State

Support for using ground troops against the Islamic State is increasing

Islamic State targeted in 12 air strikes by U.S., coalition: statement

Tennessee's Latest Bill Bans Nonexistent Muslim 'No-Go Zones'

Defense admits Dzhokhar Tsarnaev carried out Boston Marathon bombing

American Muslims are part of society

Family of slain U.S. Muslim appeals for unity

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Europe

France to Double Number of University Courses Teaching Islam to Combat Rise of Extremism

Many French Muslims Find Lives of Integration, Not Separation

French Law 'Laicite' Restricts Muslim Religious Expression

Tell Mama and the battle for the future of British Islam

British Citizen Fighting Islamic State with Kurds Killed in Syria

Canada: "Meet a Muslim Family" tackling Islamophobia

Young Muslims Straddle Two Worlds in France

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Southeast Asia

Muslim, Buddhist Leaders from South and Southeast Asia Denounce Religious Strife

2 Malaysians Identified In Islamic State Beheading Video

Court slams door on Islamic council’s bid to intervene in ‘Allah’ CD case

Booklets on Jesus with ‘Allah’ word upset villagers in Balik Pulau

Penang Muslims upset over ‘Allah’ booklets about Jesus

450 killed in China’s Xinjiang last year, mostly Uighurs

Drug Smuggler Execution: Australia seeks prisoner swap with Indonesia

Global Muslim Travel Index Ranks Singapore and Malaysia as Top Destinations

Pagan Dusun in Sabah listed on MyKad as Muslim, demands rectification

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Africa

Libya Asks UN for Arms, Jets, Tanks to Battle Islamic State - Letter

Tunisian Army Kills Two Islamist Militants near Algerian Border

Purported Islamic State Militants Attack Libyan Oil Field

Drugs donation boosts armed forces fight against terror

Abubakar lauds military for repelling Boko Haram

Boko Haram remote control bomb kills two Niger soldiers

UN, AU to deploy 8 700 troops to fight Boko Haram

Chad president tells Boko Haram leader to surrender or face death

Boko Haram Remote-Control Bomb Kills Two Niger Soldiers

Fight Aganst Boko Haram Gets another Boost

Algeria set to host negotiations on Libya crisis: UN

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Mideast

Turkish PM Urges US Muslims to Unite Against Islamophobia

Turkish Regulators Seize Shares in Islamic Lender

1,027 Captured Trying To Cross Turkish Border in 6 Days

Iran Executes Six Sunni Muslim Ethnic Kurds

350 Israel soldiers sought psychotherapy after Gaza war: Report

US says Iranian hand in Iraq could turn out well

UK seeks to help Turkey with foreigners headed for Syria

US and Iran wrap up nuclear talks, for now

U.S. warns Tikrit offensive must not fuel sectarianism

U.S. seeks U.N. action on Syria chlorine attacks

German FM rules out extension of Iran nuclear talks

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/colours-of-holi-smear-muslims,-hindus-in-pakistan/d/101836

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Pakistan

 

Colours of Holi Smear Muslims, Hindus in Pakistan

Yudhvir Rana

Mar 5, 2015

AMRITSAR: In a pointer to communal harmony against all odds, Muslims of Pakistan joined hands with minority Hindus to celebrate the festival of colours Holi for the first time in an even held at Jamshoro in Sindh province on Wednesday.

The CEO of Progressive Human Foundation (PHF) Chandar Kumar told TOI that the Holi celebration was held in rural Jamshoro, which was attended by people of other religions besides the Hindu community of Sindh.

A research associate with PHF, Samiya Rafiqe said she was mesmerized to see people crazily splashing colours at each other. "This was for the first time that I saw a riot of colours with people enjoying every moment of it," she said. She said that celebrating and participating in each other's festival only strengthened bonds between two societies and helps shed differences.

The event was jointly organized by PHF and Pakistan Hindu Seva Welfare Trust (PHSWT), informed trust president Sanjesh Dhanja.

Despite continuous threat from fundamental elements, forcible conversions and migration of minority Hindu and Sikh community of Pakistan, the minority Hindu community continues to celebrate its religious festivals. Dhanja said that books and toys were distributed among children of all religion on the occasion.

He said they would continue to invite people from other religions to share their festivals. "This celebration is defeat of people who want to create chasm between different communities," he observed.

Aneesullaha Jamro, another member of PHF said that it was wonderful to share the event with Hindu community and play with colours. He said that the event also gave them a chance to listen to people's problems especially those living in rural areas. "It was not just festivity but a fruitful interaction with local Hindu and Muslims," he said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Colours-of-Holi-smear-Muslims-Hindus-in-Pakistan/articleshow/46463909.cms

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Pakistan Religious Schools in Spotlight

By MUHAMMED MUHEISEN

05 Mar 2015

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (AP) - Sitting on the ground, the students sway back and forth, deep in thought as they read Islam's holy book, the Quran. Their white skull caps signify that they are students at one of the tens of thousands of religious schools across the country that have become embroiled in a debate about where militancy comes from.

Following the Pakistani Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar in December that killed 150 people - almost all of them children - the Pakistani government has been under intense pressure to show that it is combating militancy and terrorism. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif proposed 20 measures including reintroducing the death penalty for terrorism-related cases, freezing funding for militants, ending religious extremism and protecting minorities.

The action plan included a proposal to register and regulate religious seminaries - often called madrassas - which face accusations of incubating religious extremism. Critics say the religious schools operate with little to no oversight of their curriculum, do not prepare students with real-world skills and often promote religious intolerance.

"It is true that madrassas are not the sole source of militancy and religious extremism in the country, but they certainly are the main source," Pakistani security analyst Zahid Hussain wrote in the English-language Dawn newspaper.

But many of those working at religious schools say they are being unfairly painted as contributing to militancy.

"We condemn all those who indulge in terrorism. This is our country. Anyone who is doing anything against Pakistan, against Islam, against the army ... we condemn them," said Abrar ul-Haq, who teaches at the Taleem-ul-Quran school in Rawalpindi.

There's no exact number of madrassas in Pakistan but estimates put the number in the tens of thousands. They provide food, housing and a religious education to students from around the country. Many teach both male and female students.

Here are images by AP photographer Muhammed Muheisen featuring students studying at Pakistani religious schools.

http://www.ksby.com/story/28267336/ap-photos-pakistan-religious-schools-in-spotlight

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Pakistan, Saudi Arabia vow to jointly fight extremism

March 05, 2015

RIYADH: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on Wednesday pledged to fight the scourge of extremism jointly.

This was declared during Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif’s first official visit to the kingdom on the special invitation of King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Both the leaders also discussed matters relating to the region and agreed that terrorism and extremism are common enemies and the two countries will continue to cooperate with each other in field of security. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif received a warm welcome here Wednesday on his arrival for a three-day official visit.

In a break from protocol and as a special gesture, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, accompanied by his whole cabinet received the prime minister and his entourage at King Khalid International Airport. Also present on the ocassion were Crown Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Premier, Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Riyadh Region, Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Crown Prince, Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior, a number of princes, ministers, and senior officials.

Prime Minister Nawaz was presented the guard of honour by a contingent of the Royal Saudi Armed Forces. A high-level delegation accompanying the Prime Minister, including Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and his special assistants on National Affairs Irfan Siddiqui, and Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi, was introduced to the Saudi King. The Prime Minister will hold talks with the Saudi leadership, besides performing Umrah and paying his respects at the Roza-e-Rasool (Peace Be Upon Him), during his stay.

During his visit, the prime minister will discuss issues of mutual interest and concern in the global and regional context besides focussing on ways to further strengthen bilateral relations. In his pre-departure statement, the Prime Minister said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are brotherly countries which are tied in the bonds of shared faith and values. He said every Pakistani has a special place in his heart for the Saudi King as he is the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques. He said the relations between the two countries had grown stronger with the passage of time.

During the visit, the Prime Minister will hold talks with the Saudi King. The prime minister will perform Umrah in Makkah Mukarramah and visit Madinah Munawwara to offer prayers at the Masjid-e-Nabvi (PBUH). “Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are tied in close fraternal bonds of shared faith and values. Being the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the King of Saudi Arabia has a special place in the hearts of every Pakistani,” the Foreign Office said. Saudi Arabia hosts more than 1.7 million Pakistanis whose remittances contribute substantially to the economy of Pakistan.

Annual trade volume between the two countries exceeds $4.5 billion. “The official visit of the prime minister will provide an opportunity to the leadership of the two countries to discuss issues of mutual interest and concern in the global and regional context and further strengthen our close bilateral relations,” the Foreign Office said.

The visit of the prime minister will provide an opportunity to the leadership of the two countries to discuss issues of mutual interests and concern in the global and regional context and further strengthen the close bilateral relations. In his pre-departure statement, the prime minister said that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are brotherly countries which are tied in bonds of shared faith and values. He said being the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the King of Saudi Arabia has a special place in the hearts of every Pakistani. He said relations between the two countries have grown stronger with the passage of time. This is prime minister’s first visit to the Kingdom since King Salman bin Abdulaziz assumed the throne. The Prime Minister will also meet members of the Pakistani community in Saudi Arabia.

The two leaders held extensive talks covering bilateral relations, regional and international issues at the king’s palace in the Saudi capital. They two leaders emphasized the importance of Pakistan-Saudi relations and vowed to strengthen them further in various fields. The prime minister expressed the confidence that during the reign of King Salman bin Abdulaziz relations between the two countries would touch new heights.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/05-Mar-2015/pakistan-saudi-arabia-vow-to-jointly-fight-extremism

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Iran demands Pakistan extradite suspected Iranian militant

05 Mar 2015

TEHRAN: Iran has demanded the extradition of a suspected Iranian Sunni militant arrested over the weekend in a border area in Pakistan, Iran's semi-official Fars news agency reported on Wednesday.

The two countries share a volatile and porous border, often used by smugglers and militants, including members of a Sunni militant group known as Jundullah, or "Army of God".

Jundullah is made up of mostly Iranian Sunnis, mainly from the ethnic Baloch community that allegedly operates from Pakistan's Balochistan province and is trying to overthrow the Shia-dominated government in Iran.

Also read: Senator urges govt to tell people about Jundullah

The Fars agency quoted General Masoud Rezvani, chief of Iran's branch of Interpol, as saying that Tehran is asking Islamabad to hand over Abdul Sattar Rigi, arrested by Pakistani authorities in Balochistan as he was traveling on a bus in the border area.

Know more: Jundullah’s key leader arrested near Quetta

Iran handed Interpol the request for Abdul Sattar, a cousin of Abdul Malik Rigi and a “well-known terrorist,” Rezvani said. Abdul Malik, who was the top leader of Jundullah, was arrested and executed by Iran in early 2011.

After Iran captured most Jundullah members and disbanded the group, the remaining militants created Jaish al-Adl, which is believed to be affiliated with Al Qaeda and has been held responsible for several attacks in Iran over the past two years.

Explore: IS visits militants in Balochistan: Jundullah spokesman

A Pakistani official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the case, confirmed to The Associated Press the recent arrest of a senior Jundullah figure but would not provide more details.

In Feb 2014, Jaish al-Adl abducted five Iranian border guards outside Sarbaz, a town in Iran's restive southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan province near the Pakistani border with. The guards were taken to Pakistan and one of them was reported killed in captivity while the remaining four were released two months later.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1167533/iran-demands-pakistan-extradite-suspected-iranian-militant

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Senate polls: Elections suspended in KP, Punjab following rigging allegations

05 Mar 2015

KARACHI: Polling for Senate seats in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab assemblies were suspended on Thursday amid rigging allegations.

Speaking to media representatives in Lahore, Pakistan Peoples Party leader and former MPA Raja Riaz said ballot papers were being forcibly marked in the Punjab Assembly.

Moreover, lawmakers from the PPP and the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) in KP accused members of parties from the province's ruling coalition of taking ballot papers outside assembly premises.

PPP Secretary General Raja Pervez Ashraf said that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had been instructed to take their ballot papers to Chief Minister House, where they were to mark these in accordance with the wishes of the party's top leadership.

Opposition members in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly presented the provincial government with two demands for the resumption of the stalled polling process asking for the number of ballot boxes to be raised to four and two signatures of ECP officials on the ballot papers.

The demands for the resumption of polling process, which have remained suspended since the past three hours, were rejected by KP Chief Minister Parvez Khattak.

Meanwhile, Returning Officers in Islamabad’s Parliament House submitted a request with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) asking for polls for Senate seats from Fata to be postponed after a controversy surfaced over an ordinance promulgated by President Mamnoon Hussain last night.

The ordinance pertaining to the Senate elections from Fata withdraws the Statutory Regulatory Order of July 7, 1975, as well as a 2002 executive order — issued by former president Pervez Musharraf — which gave each tribal senator as many votes as the number of vacant seats.

Following the withdrawal of the two earlier orders, each Fata MNA will now only have one vote.

Polling for Senate seats went underway in the national and provincial assemblies earlier during the day as 132 candidates contest for 48 seats in the Upper House of Parliament.

CEC takes notice of rigging allegations

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan took notice of rigging allegations during polls for Senate seat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and has decided to conduct a probe into the charges.

Justice (retd) Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan said that if Raja Pervez has any evidence it should be presented to the commission and action would be taken against those found responsible for the act.

According to the ECP, 84 candidates will contest for 33 general seats from the provinces, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the federal capital, 22 for eight seats reserved for women from the provinces and the federal capital and 18 for eight seats reserved for technocrats, including ulema. Eight candidates will contest for two seats reserved for minorities — one each from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

No person entering the assemblies' premises was allowed to carry their cellphones or any other electronic devices with them as per ECP directives.

Also read: Imran accuses PPP of horse-trading in collusion with JUI-F

The provincial assemblies had been declared polling stations for the respective provinces and the National Assembly for four senators from Fata and two from Islamabad.

The halls of the respective assemblies were designated as polling stations and separate polling stations were formed in the National Assembly for the election of four senators from Fata and two from Islamabad.

The ruling PML-N and the main opposition PPP are expected to secure almost equal representation in the Upper House. The number of seats each party is expected to win is 25, but any behind-the-scenes moves can bolster the position of either party to enable it to clinch the offices of chairman and deputy chairman of the Senate.

Explore | Senate elections: All eyes on Zardari

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf is set to make history by getting representation in the Upper House for the first time. The Jamaat-i-Islami, which had lost representation in the Senate in 2012 after it boycotted the 2008 general elections, is expected to make a comeback.

The Senate comprises of 104 members — 23 each from the four provinces, eight from Fata and four from Islamabad. The seats allocated to a province comprise 14 general seats, four reserved for women, four for technocrats and one for a minority member.

Election for half of Senate seats takes place every three years.

Media personnel barred from entering assembly premises

Media personnel, including that of state-owned PTV, have been barred from entering the National Assembly as well as the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly as part of security arrangements. Journalists were not being allowed to carry their cameras and were expelled from the press galleries of the two assemblies.

The functioning of close-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed for security purposes in the halls of the assembly premises was also suspended.

MPA takes ill

A Punjab Assembly MPA from PML-N, Sobia Anwar Satti, was elected on a seat reserved for women fell ill during the election for Senate seats in the house.

A Rescue 1122 team reached the spot and shifted the ailing MPA on a stretcher to an ambulance which rushed her to a nearby hospital for treatment.

President promulgates two ordinances

In a late night development, President Mamnoon Hussain had issued two ordinances; one dealing with the conduct of local government elections in cantonment boards, and the other dealing with the voting rights of MNAs from the tribal areas.

The first order, entitled the Cantonment (amendment) Ordinance 2015, empowers the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to conduct LG polls in the 43 cantonment areas throughout the country. The ECP has been authorised to issue an election schedule after receiving such a request from the federal government.

The second order was issued on the basis of a summary moved by the Safron ministry and deals with the voting rights of Fata senators in the Senate elections. The ordinance withdraws the Statutory Regulatory Order of July 7, 1975, as well as a 2002 executive order — issued by former president Pervez Musharraf — which gave each tribal senator as many votes as the number of vacant seats. Following the withdrawal of the two earlier orders, each Fata MNA will now only have one vote.

Both ordinances will come into effect on March 5, 2015 and the latter will be applicable to the Senate elections being held today.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1167526/senate-polls-elections-suspended-in-kp-punjab-following-rigging-allegations

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Halal food regulatory body to be constituted

05 Mar 2015

ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to push for urgent legislation to constitute Halal Food Regulatory Authority.

A federal minister informed the National Assembly that the bill for the proposed authority is ready and will be presented before the house for voting soon.

Read: Halal food authority?

Minister for Defence Production Rana Tanveer Hussain was responding to the questions of his fellow lawmakers, regarding the recent banning of 19 packed food items.

Additional secretary, science and technology ministry, Mian Ijaz on February 23 presented a list of 19 items to the National Assembly Standing Committee on Science and Technology, which he claimed contained ‘haram’ ingredients.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1167498/halal-food-regulatory-body-to-be-constituted

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Baloch rights activists barred from going to US

IMTIAZ ALI

05 Mar 2015

KARACHI: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) did not allow three Baloch rights activists to travel to the United States on Wednesday to attend a seminar about alleged violation of human rights in Pakistan, stating that their names were on the Exit Control List (ECL).

According to Abdul Qadeer Baloch of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, popularly known as Mama Qadeer, he arrived at the Jinnah Terminal along with activists Farzana Majeed and Faiqa and relatives of ‘missing’ Baloch persons to take a flight to the US. But when they reached the FIA counter, they were prevented from proceeding abroad.

He said FIA personnel took them to a room where they checked all their documents, including tickets, CNICs and passports, and also made a photocopy of them.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1167492/baloch-rights-activists-barred-from-going-to-us

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Pakistan to welcome delay in US pullout from Afghanistan: envoy

ANWAR IQBAL

05 Mar 2015

WASHINGTON: As US President Barack Obama discussed the final withdrawal of his troops from Afghanistan, Pakistan has indicated that it would welcome any delay in the expected pullout.

A slowing of the timetable for withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan “would be viewed very positively in Pakistan”, said the country’s envoy to Washington.

Take a look: US commander proposes slower withdrawal from Afghanistan

In an interview to Christian Science Monitor, Jalil Abbas Jilani also said the drawdown of US troops from eastern Afghanistan had caused an increase in militant activity along the Pak-Afghan border.

‘Military forced to deploy additional troops along Pak-Afghan border’

On Tuesday afternoon, President Obama met his Defence Secretary Ashton Carter at the Oval Office and discussed the drawdown and other issues with him.

He told reporters after the meeting that this was his first meeting with the new defence secretary since he returned from his first visit to Afghanistan last week.

Mr Obama received “an extensive debriefing” from Mr Carter, who gave him “some impressions about how we’re planning our drawdown and transition in Afghanistan”, he said.

In his breakfast meeting with the Monitor’s editorial staff, Ambassador Jilani said the Pakistani military was forced to carry out a “surge” of its troops along the border with Afghanistan “over the last several months” as the departure of US troops led to an increase in cross-border militant activity.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1167473/pakistan-to-welcome-delay-in-us-pullout-from-afghanistan-envoy

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Some ‘N’ MPAs may ‘breach’ party lines

AMJAD MAHMOOD

05 Mar 2015

LAHORE: Today’s contest for Senate seats from Punjab may carry a couple of surprises for the Sharifs as some MPAs are reportedly planning to vote against party lines “just to give the impression that a revolt is brewing among them because of the indifference of the leadership towards them.”

The “planning” was at its embryonic stage during the lunch thrown by the PML-N chairman and a nominee of the party for one of the two technocrat’s seats from Punjab Raja Zafarul Haq for Punjab Assembly members, the electorates, at a hotel here on Wednesday.

“Though we don’t want to see our party’s nominee lose against PPP’s Nadeem Afzal Chan, it’s time to show our existence to the leadership by giving a couple of votes to the latter,” an MPA, who was part of such a discussion admitted this reporter.

The PPP and the PML-Q, each having eight MPAs, and four independent MPAs have already announced their support for Mr Chan, who needs at least 35 first priority votes to make his way through the Senate on a general seat.

The PML-N MPA was not sure whether the “rebel group” would chose not to vote for Nihal Hashmi or Saleem Zia, both from Karachi.

Hamza Shahbaz, the son of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, is looking after electioneering of the N League’s nominees as the latter is away in Saudi Arabia accompanying Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1167470/some-n-mpas-may-breach-party-lines

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Shia lawyer shot dead in Pakistan

Mar 4, 2015

KARACHI: A lawyer from Pakistan's minority Shia sect, who was a counsel for several activists of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, was today shot dead by unidentified gunmen here with police suspecting it to be a case of sectarian violence.

Advocate Ali Hasnain Bukhari was on way to his office this morning when two motorcycle-riding gunmen shot him dead in Korangi area.

The gunmen shot the lawyer three times and escaped from the site after the attack.

The victim was a member of the MQM's legal aid committee and was representing several party workers in cases related to enforced disappearances and arrests.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Shia-lawyer-shot-dead-in-Pakistan/articleshow/46456034.cms

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South Asia

 

Islamic Militancy Rises in Blood-Stained Bangladesh Orchards

By Arun Devnath

March 5, 2015

As dusk falls on the mango orchards in northern Bangladesh, Zem Ali and about a dozen other men leave their mud-thatched homes to sleep under the stars.

The nightly ritual began in January when the body of Motiur Rahman, Ali’s 25-year-old brother, was found riddled with bullets in a pool of blood. He was last seen alive in the hands of the Rapid Action Battalion, an anti-terrorism squad that reports to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed.

“Anybody can be arrested, anytime,” Ali said from his village of Bajitpur, which has about 2,000 people. “We hate the government; we hate the security forces more than ever before.”

Wajed’s foes see the strong-arm tactics as evidence she wants to destroy opposition leader Khaleda Zia, who was declared a “fugitive” on Wednesday, and prolong one-party rule in Asia’s fifth-most-populous country. Her supporters say forceful measures are needed to fight opponents who boycotted an election 13 months ago and want to use violence to force a fresh vote.

The widening polarization in Bangladesh threatens to hobble an economy that is now the world’s second-biggest exporter of garments after China. It also may swell the ranks of Islamic militant groups in the predominately Muslim country, where a U.S. blogger who wrote about religious tolerance was hacked to death with a machete last week in Dhaka, the capital.

Coup Risk

“As the stability of the country continues to deteriorate, it will be exploited even more by the radical groups,” said Sajjan M. Gohel of the Asia-Pacific Foundation think-tank. “This may force the hand of the military who have in the past usurped Bangladesh’s democracy, and if that were to happen it would be a major retrograde step back into the abyss.”

More than 100 people have died in political violence so far this year, including citizens burned alive in arson attacks and those like Rahman killed in the custody of security forces. If this pace continues, 2015 would be Bangladesh’s deadliest year since its founding in a civil war in 1971, when about 3 million died.

Bangladesh’s political fight largely comes down to two women, Wajed and Zia, who are both family members of former national leaders who were assassinated. The army has seized power at least four times, most recently in 2007, when the generals tried unsuccessfully to oust them both from politics.

Full report at:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-04/bangladesh-standoff-risks-emboldening-islamic-extremist-groups

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Afghan forces kill dozens of militants in hostage rescue op

March 05, 2015

KANDAHAR  - Afghan security forces have killed dozens of militants in a military operation aimed at freeing a group of civilian hostages in southern Afghanistan, an army official said on Wednesday.

Masked gunmen kidnapped around 30 passengers from two buses in the southern province of Zabul last week while they were travelling late at night to the capital, Kabul.

Eyewitnesses said most passengers belonged to the ethnic Hazara minority, a group that was persecuted by the Taliban during their hard-line rule in the late 1990s.

A team of Afghan army, police and intelligence agents had identified several locations where the civilians were being held, but had yet to free any hostages.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/05-Mar-2015/afghan-forces-kill-dozens-of-militants-in-hostage-rescue-op

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PM, Sheikh Hasina, For Unity of Muslim Ummah

05 Mar, 2015

Prime Minister (PM) Sheikh Hasina laid emphasis Wednesday on the strong unity of the Muslim Ummah for its own development, peace and prosperity, report agencies.

"There shouldn't be any conflict, disunity and confusion among the Muslim countries. Muslim nations are rich in many areas and they could help each other for their own development and prosperity," the PM made the comments when newly-appointed Iranian Ambassador in Bangladesh Dr Abbas Vaezi Dehnavi made a courtesy call on her at her office in the city Wednesday.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, PM's Press Secretary AKM Shameem Chowdhuri said the PM and the envoy discussed various issues relating to bilateral interests.

They hoped that the relations between the two brotherly Muslim countries in different areas would be strengthened further in the days to come.

Hasina said Bangladesh and Iran as two brotherly countries share same history and culture, and they can cooperate with each other to grow together in many areas.

Full report at:

http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/2015/03/05/83694

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Top U.S. general in Afghanistan leaves door open to altering drawdown plan

By Dan Lamothe

March 4, 2015

The top U.S. general in Afghanistan on Wednesday left the door open to altering the plan to remove U.S. troops from the country, saying he doesn’t yet know what U.S. and Afghan officials can accomplish in the coming fighting season while focused on a new training mission.

Gen. John F. Campbell told the House Armed Services Committee that he wants to see how new “Train Advise and Assist Commands” (TAACs) do while working with senior Afghan military officials. The commands were established as part of the military support mission established at the beginning of the year as NATO ended its formal combat mission in Afghanistan.

“What I really want to make sure we can do is get through what we call a full fighting season — April through the late-September time frame — focused on train, advise and assist, plus our [counter-terrorism] mission,” Campbell testified. If U.S. troop levels drop to 5,500 by the end of the year, as planned, “that could potentially take our eye off focusing on train, advise and assist when we really need it.

Full report at:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/03/04/top-u-s-general-in-afghanistan-leaves-door-open-to-altering-drawdown-plan/

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'India, China, Pakistan should work more closely in Afghanistan'

March 4, 2015

New Delhi: India, China and Pakistan need to find areas to cooperate and collaborate and become strategic partners inside Afghanistan to ensure stability in the region and stave off threats from terrorists, foreign policy experts have averred.

The remarks come even as Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar is in Kabul to hold talks with the Afghan leadership as part of his 'SAARC Yatra' aimed at firming up India's ties with members of the regional grouping.

Stating that China and India were both important for his country, former Afghan ambassador to China, Sultan Ahmed Baheen, said it was imperative for the two countries to hit upon a model similar to that of China and America.

"We in Afghanistan expect more cooperation between the two countries, not only bilaterally but also as strategic partners. Afghanistan can be the ground for cooperation between the two," Baheen said.

Rather than trying to contain it, it is engagement with Afghanistan which would benefit everyone, said Amanullah Saleh, a former chief of Afghan intelligence.

"Based on realities and our histories, Afghanistan will never lose relevance... I think engaging with Afghanistan is far more to the benefit of everyone rather than disengaging and containing it. We are an actor in the region and a factor in the world. We are not a subject," he said.

"Discussions in Washington or in London, or Brazil, about Afghanistan, to be honest, we have zero influence on that. What we have is confidence in our history, in our land, in our people, in our indigenous capability. With that confidence intact, in one way or the other, Washington will engage with us," Saleh said.

Comparing Afghanistan to a little boutique shop in the vicinity of a big shopping mall, Saleh said, "We don't lose locational value by virtue of being surrounded by powerful countries... We remain relevant."

Full report at:

http://zeenews.india.com/news/india/india-china-pakistan-should-work-more-closely-in-afghanistan_1556343.html

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Bomb blast at 14-party gathering

05 Mar 2015

At least two people were injured in crude bomb explosions in a rally of the ruling Awami League-led 14-party alliance in the city's Hazaribagh yesterday.

The injured were Swechchhasebak League activists Moktar Hossain, 28, and Selim, 35. They received treatment at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, a source at the hospital told The Daily Star.

Police said criminals blasted two crude bombs near the rally at Hazaribagh Park around 2:45pm. No one was detained in this connection.

Although the explosions created panic in the area, the 14-party alliance completed the rally.

AL presidium member and Health Minister Mohammad Nasim addressed the rally as chief guest. He alleged that bomb attacks were being carried out in a bid to cancel their programme. “But Awami League cannot be scared off by bomb attacks as it is a party of Bangabandhu and Sheikh Hasina,” he said.

Full report at:

http://www.thedailystar.net/backpage/bomb-blast-at-14-party-gathering-67835

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Bangladesh becoming a top spot for Muslim travellers

Suman Saha

March 05, 2015

Bangladesh has found a place among the world's top destinations for Muslim travellers, largely thanks to its availability of Muslim-friendly services and facilities, according to a study.

The Global Muslim Travel Index 2015 developed by MasterCard, a payment network provider, and CrescentRating, the world's leading authority on Halal-friendly travel,   ranked Bangladesh 18th on the list of destinations, which are members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Malaysia came first for OIC destination, followed by Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Singapore came in first for the non-OIC destinations, which also saw Thailand, UK, South Africa and France make the top five. The index looked at data covering 100 destinations, creating an overall index.

All the destinations were scored against a backdrop of criteria which included suitability as a family holiday destination, the level of services and facilities it provides, accommodations, marketing initiatives as well as visitor arrivals.

Each criterion was then weighted to make up the overall index score.

The study, which was released yesterday, showed that Bangladesh received 67,000 Muslim arrivals last year, which is 19 percent of the total arrivals.

Last year, some 108 million Muslim travellers spent $145 billion globally, representing 10 percent of the entire travel economy, it said.

The Muslim travel market is forecast to grow to 150 million visitors a year by 2020, and their annual spending will reach about $200 billion, according to the study.

Full report at:

http://www.thedailystar.net/bangladesh-becoming-a-top-spot-for-muslim-travellers-67768

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Arab World

 

Shariah Rule ‘Sovereign Saudi Right’, Says President HRC

5 March 2015

It is Saudi Arabia’s sovereign right to implement Shariah law, said Bandar Al-Aiban, president of the Human Rights Commission.

Addressing the 28th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday, he said capital punishment is imposed on murderers to protect society.

“Our judicial system protects the rights of criminals and their victims,” he said. “(Since) Saudi Arabia’s rules and regulations are based on Shariah, (they) safeguard rights of all parties and ensure justice.”

Al-Aiban said under the Kingdom’s judicial system, capital punishment is awarded to “only those who commit heinous crimes that threaten security.”

He said the system is foolproof in that such verdicts are ratified by no less than 13 judges.

Al-Aiban reaffirmed Saudi Arabia’s determination to establish the highest standards of justice and ensure fair trial for all defendants. “Our judicial system conforms to international charters and agreements,” he said.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/featured/news/713906

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Islamic State-Themed Wedding Party in Egypt

05 Mar 2015

An Egyptian bride and groom were placed in a cage by masked men brandishing knives as part of an Islamic State-themed wedding.

The video, which was shot in Menoufia, Egypt, begins with a wedding attendant with his face covered conducting as a jihadi anthem used in propaganda released by the militants is played.

He then leads the bride and groom into the cage, similar to that used in the horrific video of Jordanian pilot Mu'ath Al Kassasbeh being burned alive in February.

Inside the newlywed break into dance along with the masked attendants as other guests clap and cheer them on.

Full report at:

http://news.sky.com/story/1438279/video-islamic-state-themed-wedding-party

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Islamic State group turning Yazidi boys into jihadists

2015-03-04

The Islamist State group's bloody war of expansion in Iraq and Syria includes forcing boys from the Yazidi religious minority to train as child soldiers.

Habib Kalish, 14, says that when he and other frightened boys were herded down the corridors of the school where they were being held into a large courtyard, he assumed his worst nightmares were about to become reality.

“They told us, ‘We will train you to become fighters like us’,” recalls Habib of his time at the school, in the northwestern Iraqi town of Talafar. “Then after a while they brought us guns… Kalashnikovs and later grenades.”

In addition to military drills, self-proclaimed jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) organization set out to indoctrinate Habib and other kids from the Yazidi religious minority. Koran lessons and forced mass prayers were part of the routine.

Yazidis practice a millennia-old faith that originated in upper Mesopotamia. IS considers them “a group of original pagans” and is believed to have massacred hundreds of Yazidis so far.

While the plight of Yazidi women and girls sold as slaves has become well known to many around the world, the ordeal that many Yazidi boys went through has received little attention from those outside the community.

In the Talafar school, Faraj Hajim, Habib's feeble 12-year-old cousin, apparently did not display the talents of a would-be jihadist. He was angrily ordered to go back indoors.

A few days later, Habib failed to meet the militants' expectations, and was also expelled from the training sessions.

Full report at:

http://www.france24.com/en/20150304-islamic-state-group-turning-yazidi-boys-jihadists-iraq/

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Blast, clashes kill dozens at intel HQ in Syria’s Aleppo: monitor

4 March 2015

Beirut: Dozens were killed Wednesday when Syrian rebels set off a powerful tunnel explosion targeting an intelligence headquarters in Aleppo and clashed with regime forces, a monitor said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the blast hit a building housing the air force intelligence offices in the west of Syria’s second city and was followed by heavy clashes.

“The explosion and the fighting caused dozens of deaths on both sides,” the Britain-based group said, adding that part of the building had collapsed.

The clashes pitted rebels from several factions against government troops supported by fighters from Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah, a key backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad, it said.

An AFP journalist in eastern Aleppo said the blast was loud enough to be heard across the city and some residents said it had felt like an earthquake.

A Syrian military source confirmed the explosion and said clashes were continuing.

“Gunmen blew up a tunnel that they dug (into the regime-controlled sector) and then attacked the area surrounding the air force intelligence headquarters,” the source said.

“There are now ongoing clashes and the Syrian air force is hitting the positions of the gunmen in the area,” the source said.

Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, the Al-Nusra Front, said on Twitter that its forces, along with other rebel factions, had “stormed the air force intelligence offices and surrounding buildings.”

Setting off explosives from tunnels dug into government-controlled areas has become a favored tactic of Syria’s rebels, especially in Aleppo.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/featured/news/713576

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Concern grows for civilians as Iraq tightens noose on Tikrit

4 March 2015

Kirkuk, Iraq: Concern mounted Wednesday over the fate of civilians in Tikrit where Iraqi forces were trying to trap Islamic State group fighters on the third day of a huge offensive to retake the jihadist stronghold.

On Monday, around 30,000 Iraqi security forces and allied fighting units launched the biggest anti-IS ground operation yet in Iraq, closing in on Tikrit from at least three directions.

A senior commander said operations were focused on cutting supply lines to stop reinforcements and weapons from reaching the jihadists, who have controlled the city since June.

The next step will be to “surround the towns completely, suffocate them and then pounce on them,” Lt. Gen. Abdel Amir Al-Zaidi told AFP.

Iraqi forces have yet to retake Ad-Dawr and Al-Alam, towns south and north of Tikrit respectively, but some units were already on the edge of the city, military sources said.

Zaidi said the operation launched Monday had already achieved results by securing areas further out in Salaheddin province and forcing IS fighters to regroup in urban areas.

“The first phase of the battle to liberate Salaheddin was successfully completed — and in record time — by clearing the areas in the east of the province,” he said.

The Iraqi forces’ advance has been slowed by suicide car bombs, roadside bombs and sniper fire, as IS fighters retreated to urban positions but seemed unable to fight back in open areas.

Government forces, Shiite militias and volunteer units have been supported by Iraqi jets and helicopters, as well as Iran.

“This is the most overt conduct of Iranian support,” General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told senators Tuesday.

“Frankly, it would only be a problem if it resulted in sectarianism,” he said.

Sectarianism-fueled revenge killings have been a feature of past operations against IS however and rights groups expressed concern Wednesday.

“Shiite paramilitary militias have often carried out reprisal sectarian attacks against Sunni civilians who are not involved in the hostilities,” said Amnesty International’s senior crisis response adviser Donatella Rovera.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/middle-east/news/713551

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Iraqis Want Lead Role in Driving ISIS From Mosul

By ANNE BARNARD

MARCH 4, 2015

BAGHDAD — Underscoring the Iraqi government’s determination to control the timetable and tactics in the battle against the Islamic State, the country’s defense minister declared on Wednesday that the most challenging operation, driving the militants from Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, would be “planned, timed and executed by Iraqis.”

The comments from the minister, Khaled al-Obeidi, came a day after tensions surfaced in the Iraqi-American alliance against the group, and as Islamic State militants used guerrilla tactics to hold off a major government effort to retake the city of Tikrit for a third day. Thousands of people have fled their homes in and around Tikrit, United Nations officials said.

Amid hopes that the Tikrit offensive could become the first step in a broader effort to seize back territory from Islamic State fighters, Iraqi officials have bridled at estimates by some American officials that the Iraqi forces would not be ready to move against Mosul for months. American officials had also expressed concerns about the leading role of Iranian military officials and Iranian-aligned Shiite militias in the new offensive.

But as the battle continued in Tikrit, American officials, as well as some of their Iraqi counterparts, insisted that the countries’ relationship was healthy and that close military collaboration would continue against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL or by the Arabic acronym Daesh.

Even though United States warplanes are not participating in the Tikrit battle, as they have in others, the Iraqi government still welcomes continued international assistance, said Ali al-Alaaq, a close aide to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Full report at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/05/world/middleeast/iraqis-plan-to-take-lead-in-driving-isis-from-mosul.html

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Iraq jihadists slow Tikrit advance with bombs and snipers

March/04/2015

Iraqi forces closed in on Tikrit on March 3, their progress slowed by jihadist snipers and booby traps, on the second day of Baghdad's largest operation yet against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The government has mobilised a 30,000-strong force for the push to retake Tikrit made up of Shiite militiamen and Sunni tribesmen as well as troops and police.

Outnumbered and outgunned, the jihadists who have held Tikrit since June 2014 have been resorting to guerrilla tactics to disrupt the government's advance.

"They are using urban warfare and snipers, so we are advancing in a cautious and delicate way, and we need more time," a lieutenant general on the ground told AFP.

Iraqi forces are moving on Tikrit from three directions, with units targeting the towns of Al-Alam and Ad-Dawr to the north and south, while another large contingent drives from the east.

"We are close to Ad-Dawr, but Daesh is still in the centre," the senior officer said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIL.

Units were also moving from a variety of other directions, with military sources saying the plan was to encircle and besiege ISIL fighters in Tikrit.

The jihadist group announced in a radio bulletin Tuesday that a US national from its ranks had carried out a suicide attack against Iraqi forces near Samarra, the other main city in Salaheddin province.

The attacker was referred to by his nom de guerre, Abu Dawud al-Amriki. The group released a picture purportedly of him, wearing a mask that only reveals a pair of dark eyes.

The operation, the governments largest since it started attempting to regain the ground it lost to jihadists last summer, was announced Sunday by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Both Iraqi and Iranian media said Qassem Soleimani -- the commander of the Al-Quds Force covert operations unit of Tehran's elite Revolutionary Guards -- was in Salaheddin province to help coordinate operations.

The recapture of Tikrit is of both strategic and symbolic importance.

Full report at:

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/iraq-jihadists-slow-tikrit-advance-with-bombs-and-snipers-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=79160&NewsCatID=352

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Taking back Tikrit and Mosul from Islamic State isn’t necessarily a good thing

March 4, 2015

Islamic State will lose the Iraqi cities of Tikrit and Mosul.

Victory won’t come quickly or easily for the combined forces of the Iraqi government, Shi’ite militias, Kurdish fighters and Sunnis who have learned to loath Islamic State. But sheer weight of numbers, as well as Iranian and American military assistance, should do the trick.

Unfortunately, none of the parties involved in the fighting like each other very much. In Mosul in particular, beating Islamic State looks likely to set the situation back to April 2003, when an entire Iraqi army corps surrendered the city to a small American force. Fighting officially came to an end, but chaos ensued as the Kurds and Sunnis battled one another alongside Sunni and Shi’ite clashes. Crowds ransacked the central bank and pillaged the university library. During the subsequent U.S. occupation under General David Petraeus, a 21,000-strong force from the 101st Airborne pushed Kurdish militias out of Mosul and created an uneasy peace with the Sunnis.

After Petraeus left, however, multisided fighting resumed in Mosul, as the fundamental issue of which group truly controlled the city — a question that still haunts the country as a whole — was left unresolved. Islamic State was able to violently exploit that power vacuum to take the city last year.

Full report at:

http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2015/03/04/taking-back-tikrit-and-mosul-from-islamic-state-isnt-necessarily-a-good-thing/

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No Tears For Egyptian Christians In A Muslim Brotherhood-Friendly White House

MARCH 4, 2015

The Obama White House-supported Muslim Brotherhood is at war with Egypt; and as a result, security is tight throughout that nation. The Cairo airport is locked down tight; no one without a ticket to fly can get into the airport terminal. The Egyptians have an understanding that the White House does not – the Muslim Brotherhood will resort to terror if it can’t get what it wants at the ballot box.

Although it is resorting to terror in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has a formal and lasting relationship with the Obama White House. This is evidenced by a recent visit to the White House by Muslim Brotherhood activists on February 4th. That meeting prompted outcries from the Egyptian government and raised concerns in other Middle East nations that are Muslim Brotherhood targets.

The exact date the Muslim Brotherhood – White House relationship began is not known; however, the Wall Street Journal first reported on Secretary Hillary Clinton “reaching out” to the Muslim Brotherhood in 2011, shortly after the Egyptian government fell to protesters. The relationship must have actually begun much earlier. Clinton’s trusted aide, Huma Mahmood Abedin, had been steadily moving her toward the Muslim Brotherhood.

Abedin at the time was U.S. Deputy Chief of Staff at the State Department and had been a longtime personal aide of Secretary Clinton. Abedin, whose mother and father were deeply involved in the Muslim Brotherhood leadership, convinced Clinton that to “control” the outcome of the Arab Spring and keep governments from falling into extremist hands, the United States must back “moderate” Islamist parties. Of course, her “moderate” solution was the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that works for the same end result as the Islamic State but is willing to get there at a slower pace.

Full report at:

http://www.westernjournalism.com/no-tears-egyptian-christians-muslim-brotherhood-friendly-white-house/#UHxG3mmKP3IbcQ8A.97

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India

 

Kerala Jamiyyathul Ulema General Secretary Calls IS Enemy of Islam

March 2, 2015

The year-long diamond jubilee celebrations of the Sunni Yuvajana Sangham (SYS) led by Kanthapuram A.P. Aboobacker Musliar concluded with a mammoth gathering at Edarikode in the district on Sunday.

Hundreds of thousands of Sunni activists who reached Edarikode from different parts of the State on Sunday afternoon turned Tajul Ulama Nagar into a white sea of humanity.

The conference released an ambitious action plan for the next 10 years amidst chanting of ‘Allahu Akbar.’ SYS leaders said that the action plan, aimed at comprehensive growth of society at all levels, including socio-religious development, was chalked out giving extreme care to the sentiments of the masses.

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/kanthapuram-calls-is-enemy-of-islam/article6949883.ece

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Indian Muslims 'vital players' in advancing shared vision: US

05 Mar 2015

New Delhi: US Ambassador to India Richard Verma on Wednesday described Indian Muslims as ‘vital players’ in advancing India and America's shared value and vision.

Verma was addressing a town hall at the India Islamic Cultural Center (IICC), attended by country's leading Muslim entrepreneurs, scholars, and clerics.

Noting that the future of the US-India relationship depends on human capital, he said, according to a statement release by the US embassy here, "Your perspectives and contributions are the key asset for its growth."

Full report at:

http://www.indiatvnews.com/news/india/indian-muslims-vital-players-in-advancing-shared-vision-us-48189.html

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Maharashtra govt scraps quota for Muslims in education

by Zeeshan Shaikh

March 5, 2015

The BJP-led government in Maharashtra has scrapped an ordinance providing reservation for Muslims, despite the Bombay High Court allowing quota for the community in educational institutions.

The Devendra Fadnavis-led government, which had earlier said that it was against reservation on religious grounds, did not indicate if it plans to introduce a law to replace the ordinance, which lapsed in December last year.

“The ordinance dated December 23, 2014 could not be converted into an Act. In view of this situation, we have decided to scrap this ordinance,” said a circular issued on Tuesday by the General Administration Department.

In the run up to the Assembly polls last year, the previous Congress-NCP government had issued an ordinance on July 11, 2014 allowing 16 per cent reservation for Marathas and five per cent for Muslims in government-run schools and colleges as well as jobs.

The previous government had decided to provide a five per cent reservation to 50 Muslims communities by including them under a newly formed category — Special Backward Category-A.

The decision was challenged in the Bombay High Court which, in a judgment on November 14, struck down reservation for Marathas, but allowed five per cent quota for Muslims in educational institutions, but not jobs. Meanwhile, a new government came to power in the state.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/fadnavis-govt-scraps-quota-for-muslims-in-education/

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Hurriyat wants PMs of India, Pak to talk

by Bashaarat Masood

March 5, 2015

Hinting that they are ready for a “meaningful” dialogue, the Hurriyat moderates have made an “ardent appeal” to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to “engage with each other” and “involve the leadership” of Jammu and Kashmir.

In a policy statement issued on Wednesday, the Mirwaiz Umar Farooq-led Hurriyat welcomed the Indo-Pakistan foreign secretary talks, saying a meaningful dialogue should be initiated to resolve the Kashmir issue.

“The time has come for the governments of India and Pakistan and the people of J&K to engage in a serious effort to resolve Kashmir issue,” said the Hurriyat statement, issued after a meeting of its executive council. “We call on both prime ministers to take up the Kashmir issue in a more serious way and as a matter of priority.”

Hurriyat has sought the involvement of separatists in the dialogue. “They should engage each other and involve the leadership of J&K in a combined effort to find a solution that accommodates the needs and interests of all parties and which upholds the aspirations of people of Kashmir,” Hurriyat said.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/hurriyat-wants-pms-of-india-pak-to-talk/

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FS meets Afghan President, top officials; discusses security concerns

March 5, 2015

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar on Wednesday met with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani as they discussed connectivity, development projects and security, the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said here on Wednesday.

Jaishankar, who flew down to Kabul from Islamabad on Wednesday, visited Afghanistan as the last stop for the first phase of his ‘SAARC Yatra’. He also met former Afghan President Hamid Karzai during his stay.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/fs-meets-afghan-president-top-officials-discusses-security-concerns/

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Jaishankar briefed on coming talks with Taliban

SUHASINI HAIDAR

March 5, 2015

Security, and talks with the Taliban, development and connectivity were at the top of the agenda when Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar visited Kabul on the last leg of this phase of his “SAARC yatra”.

According to officials, while Mr. Jaishankar discussed the SAARC agenda on road connectivity and other agreements, he was briefed by his Afghan counterpart Deputy Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai on the security situation in Afghanistan and soon-to-be announced talks with the Taliban.

While neither side divulged any details, Afghanistan’s senior leadership, including President Ashraf Ghani, CEO Abdullah Abdullah and Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani also discussed the strategic and defence cooperation between India and Afghanistan in meetings with Mr. Jaishankar. Mr. Rabbani, who is the former head of the Afghan peace council that worked on reconciliation efforts, and the son of the assassinated head of the peace council Burhanuddin Rabbani, is a key figure as the government now prepares to engage the Taliban with Pakistan’s assistance.

In a television interview last week, India’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Amar Sinha said the process “must be in accordance with the demands and interests of the Afghan people,” comments read in government circles in Kabul as a word of caution over Pakistan’s growing role in the peace process that President Ashraf Ghani has undertaken.

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/jaishankar-briefed-on-coming-talks-with-taliban/article6959870.ece

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North America

 

Cardinal Dolan: Islamic State Is Muslim Like Irish Republican Army Was Catholic

05/03/2015

NEW YORK (RNS) Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York said Islamic State militants terrorizing the Middle East are a distortion of “genuine” Islam much as the Irish Republican Army was a “perversion” of Catholicism.

Dolan’s comments to CNN on Tuesday (March 3) reflect similar statements about the Islamic State group from Pope Francis, but they also echo some of President Obama’s controversial remarks on Islam, Christianity and the history of violence carried out in the name of religion.

“The IRA claimed to be Catholic,” Dolan told CNN anchor Chris Cuomo. “They were baptized. They had a Catholic identity.” But, he continued, “what they were doing was a perversion of everything the church stood for.”

The spiritual leader of New York’s 2.8 million Catholics, Dolan said that likewise, the Islamic State extremists “do not represent genuine Islamic thought” but are “a particularly perverted form of Islam.”

“The analogy (to the IRA) is somewhat accurate,” said Dolan, an Irish-American who on March 17 will serve as grand marshal of the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.

“These are not pure, these are not real Muslims. Now what we need and what Pope Francis has led the world in saying, is we need the temperate, moderate, genuine forces of Islam to rise up and say this — they do not represent us. Now, that’s beginning to happen. God can bring good out of evil.”

Francis has frequently said the Islamic State does not represent genuine Islam and that “all religions have these little groups.” And he has pointed to instances when Catholics used religion to justify terrible violence.

Full report at:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/04/timothy-dolan-islamic-state_n_6802346.html?ir=India

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New York public schools add two Muslim holidays to calendar

March 5, 2015

NEW YORK: New York public schools will add two Muslim holidays to their vacation calendars, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday, a promise he made during his election campaign.

Two of the most sacred holidays in the Islamic calendar, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, will be observed.

Eid al-Adha, or “Festival of Sacrifice,” will be a vacation day on September 24, starting in the 2015-2016 school year.

The festival of breaking the fast, Eid al-Fitr, which falls over the summer in 2016, will be designated a holiday for summer school students.

The mayor said the move reflects New York’s diversity, calling it a “common sense change.”

“We made a pledge to families that we would change our school calendar to reflect the strength and diversity of our city,” he said in a statement.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/world/2015/03/05/new-york-public-schools-add-two-muslim-holidays-to-calendar/

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Quds force leader, commanding Iraqi forces against ISIS, alarms Washington

By James Rosen

March 05, 2015

Twice designated a terrorist by the United States government, considered responsible for up to 20 percent of American casualties in the Iraq war, Major General Qasem Suleimani, the legendary Iranian spymaster and leader of the Quds Force – the elite special operations wing of the hardline Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – is now stirring alarm in Washington for doing something the Obama administration would ordinarily cheer: taking the fight to ISIS in Iraq.

Photographs circulating on social media show Suleimani operating alongside senior Iraqi officials in the theater in and around Tikrit, the Sunni ancestral home of Saddam Hussein that is located almost equidistant between Mosul, the ISIS-controlled city 120 miles to the north, and Baghdad, the capital of the Iraqi government 100 miles to the south.

The presence of Suleimani at the forefront of Iraqi forces’efforts to reclaim Tikrit from ISIS control underscores both the expanding influence of Iran on the central Iraqi government and the increasingly critical role that Shi’ite militiamen, thought to be operating under Quds command, are playing in the Iraqi fight against ISIS. Neither development brings pleasure to senior U.S. officials or lawmakers in Congress.

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., raised the issue of the Iranians with President Obama’s new defense secretary during a House Appropriations defense subcommittee hearing on Wednesday. “I know we're keeping our distance physically from them in Baghdad,” Frelinghuysen said. “Have we ceded most of the governance of Iraq to Iranians?...And will the military operations that are undergoing, which we are watching, divide the country and require us in some ways to spend more of our resources?”

“I absolutely share your concern about the role of Iran in Iraq and the wider region,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told the panel.

Full report at:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/03/04/iran-quds-force-leader-commanding-iraqi-forces-against-isis-alarms-americans/

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Virginia teen accused of being ISIS recruiter

March 5, 2015

Washington (CNN)A 17-year-old Virginia student has been charged with helping recruit for ISIS, federal law enforcement officials said Wednesday.

The teen, whose name was not disclosed, was taken into custody last week, the officials said.

Prosecutors are seeking to charge him as an adult but currently have charged him as a juvenile, one of the law enforcement officials said.

The case remains under seal. It was first reported by The Washington Post on Wednesday.

The Post, citing officials and neighbors, reported that investigators spent more than a month watching the teen and his home before he was arrested.

The teen, who lives in a Virginia suburb of Washington, is accused of helping a slightly older adult travel to Syria. The adult is believed to have joined ISIS there, a separate law enforcement official said.

The teen is also accused of distributing ISIS messages to a network of contacts, one of the officials said.

Former boss: He didn't seem radical

The teen is an "intelligent kid," a man who hired him to write for a digital currency news website said Wednesday evening. Dustin O'Bryant, the editor of the website Coin Brief from Alabama, said: "He did not come across as radical in any way."

The teen wrote freelance articles for the website for seven months last year. He was told not to bring religion into his writing, O'Bryant said, adding he had noticed the young man had written online posts about his faith. The teen complied, he said.

The website editor said he was "extremely, extremely surprised" to learn of the arrest from reporters calling him. He hadn't spoken to the teen since February, when the young man said he was dealing with personal matters but wanted to start writing for the website again at some point this year.

Give me two weeks to three months, the boy told him.

O'Bryant said he is shocked by the charge.

"I hope there's some sort of misunderstanding here, and that he didn't know what he was doing," he said.

Full report at:

http://edition.cnn.com/2015/03/04/us/virginia-isis-arrest/

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Al-Qaeda founder turned spy speaks out against 'psychopathic' Islamic State

March 5, 2015

A founding member of terrorist group Al-Qaeda who turned informant for British intelligence has denounced the "psychopathic" tendencies of Islamic State in an effort to deter young people from being radicalised.

Aimen Dean left his home in Saudi Arabia in 1994 to fight alongside Muslims in Bosnia, including Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, later accused of being mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

After travelling to Afghanistan and swearing allegiance to newly-formed Al-Qaeda and its leader, Osama Bin Laden, Dean started to grow disillusioned with the terrorist group's cause in the wake of the bombing of the US embassies in Kenya and Somalia, which killed more than 250 people and wounded more than 5000.

"(I realised it was all) basically a castle of sand in the air," Dean said in an interview with the BBC on Tuesday.

"It was nonsense and two months later I decided it was no longer for me and that I wanted to leave."

In 1998 Dean said he was captured by British Intelligence agency MI6, who have neither confirmed nor denied his claims, and after 11 days of interrogation agreed to 'flip' and return to Afghanistan as an informant.

"If you want to catch rats, you have to go into the sewage system basically and get dirty yourself," Dean said.

Styling himself as a radical preacher tasked with training and radicalising recruits, Dean passed information back to British Intelligence for nine years.

"Some people were studying in religious seminaries — they’re a minority by the way — and then decided to come and some people basically just came straight out of a nightclub," Dean said of the recruits he oversaw.

Full report at:

http://www.9news.com.au/world/2015/03/05/13/17/al-qaeda-founder-speaks-out-against-psychopathic-islamic-state

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Support for using ground troops against the Islamic State is increasing

By Philip Bump

March 4, 2015

A new poll from Quinnipiac University released on Wednesday offers a startling bit of data: Americans now support the use of ground troops against the Islamic State by a two-to-one margin.

The surprise there (if any) is in margin, not majority. Since the conflict with the Islamic State gained national attention at the end of last summer, polling has indicated increasing support for the use of ground troops -- a move that the Obama administration has rejected. The Quinnipiac poll is the two dots at far right on the chart below.

(Polling from CBS, Gallup, McClatchy/Marist, CNN/ORC, Fox News, NBC and Quinnipiac asking if respondents support or oppose ground troops.)

Looking at its most recent snapshot, Quinnipiac found that men were much more likely to back the use of ground troops, which they do by a 40-point margin. Women are 24 percentage points more likely to support the idea.

Full report at:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/03/04/support-for-using-ground-troops-against-the-islamic-state-is-increasing/

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Islamic State targeted in 12 air strikes by U.S., coalition: statement

Mar 4, 2015

The United States and its allies staged 12 air strikes on Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria in a 24-hour period, the Combined Joint Task Force said in a statement on Wednesday.

Three strikes near Kobani, Syria, hit a tactical unit and destroyed five fighting positions while in Iraq, five air strikes hit Islamic State bomb-making facilities, a weapons storage site and vehicles. Four raids also were carried out near Ramadi and Sinjar.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/04/us-mideast-crisis-usa-airstrikes-idUSKBN0M017S20150304

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Tennessee's Latest Bill Bans Nonexistent Muslim 'No-Go Zones'

04/03/2015

WASHINGTON -- Muslim communities in Tennessee may soon be penalized for allegedly being too unwelcoming of those who don't practice the Islamic faith.

The issue centers around "no-go zones." In January, a pundit on Fox News claimed that there were neighborhoods in France and the United Kingdom that had been taken over by Muslims and were off-limits to others. The claim, however, was false, and the network apologized.

But last month, Tennessee state Rep. Susan Lynn (R) and state Sen. Bill Ketron (R) introduced legislation in the House and Senate aimed at ridding the state of no-go zones, or, as the bills describe them, "contiguous geographical area[s] consisting of public space or privately owned public space where community organizing efforts systematically intimidate or exclude the general public or public workers from entering or being present within the area."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said that even though Muslims are not specifically singled out in the legislation, it appears to be motivated by Islamophobia.

"The whole fantastical notion of a no-go zone, which has been disproven by even Fox News, is almost gospel on the right wing of the political spectrum now," CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper told The Huffington Post after likening the zones to unicorns. "It's just utter nonsense but, [as] with so much in the Islamophobia industry in the United States ... it passes for statesmanship in the current climate."

Robert McCaw, CAIR's government affairs manager, recently wrote a letter to leading lawmakers in the Tennessee General Assembly requesting that they abandon the legislation.

The bill does not explicitly target or single out any particular group that may be at risk for creating "no-go zones." But according to Lynn, some constituents have expressed feelings of discomfort when in areas they consider sketchy.

"And as you know, when there's activity happening where people sort of feel intimidated, there's not exactly a sign up on the wall," Lynn told The Tennessean. "But it's just an overall feeling of intimidation."

Lynn also likened her bill to civil rights era legislation that integrated schools.

Hooper said the comparison is absurd.

Full report at:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/03/tennessee-no-go-zones_n_6795028.html?utm_hp_ref=politics&ir=India

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Defense admits Dzhokhar Tsarnaev carried out Boston Marathon bombing

March 5, 2015

In a startling opening statement at the biggest US terrorism trial in decades, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s own lawyer told a jury that the 21-year-old former college student committed the Boston Marathon bombing.

“It WAS him,” said defense attorney Judy Clarke, one of America’s foremost death-penalty specialists.

Three people were killed and more than 260 hurt when two shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs exploded near the finish line on April 15, 2013. Tsarnaev, then 19, is accused of carrying out the attacks with 26-year-old brother Tamerlan, who was killed in a shootout and getaway attempt days later.

In a strategy aimed at saving Tsarnaev from a death sentence, she argued that he had fallen under the influence of his older brother.

“The evidence will not establish and we will not argue that Tamerlan put a gun to Dzhokhar’s head or that he forced him to join in the plan,” Clarke said, “but you will hear evidence about the kind of influence that this older brother had.”

Federal prosecutors used their opening statements- along with chilling video and testimony from witnesses- to paint Tsarnaev as a cold-blooded killer and sketch a grisly picture of torn limbs, screams and the smell of sulfur and burned hair in the streets.

Tsarnaev planted a bomb designed to “tear people apart and create a bloody spectacle,” then hung out with his college buddies as if he didn’t have a care in the world, federal prosecutor William Weinreb said.

“He believed that he was a soldier in a holy war against Americans,” Weinreb said. “He also believed that by winning that victory, he had taken a step toward reaching paradise. That was his motive for committing these crimes.”

A shaggy-haired, goateed Tsarnaev slouched in his seat and showed no reaction as Weinreb spoke, not even when the prosecutor described how Tsarnaev ran over his brother with a stolen Mercedes and dragged the body 50 feet (15 meters) during the getaway.

About two dozen victims took up one entire side of the courtroom. Several hung their heads and appeared to fight back tears. Prosecutors contend the brothers- ethnic Chechens who arrived from Russia more than a decade ago- were driven by anger over US wars in Muslim lands.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/americas/defense-admits-dzhokhar-tsarnaev-carried-out-boston-marathon-bombing/

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American Muslims are part of society

March 4, 2015

American Muslims

The execution-style murder of three students in Chapel Hill, N.C., has renewed the self-reflection of who are the "American

Muslims." President Obama said, "Our biggest advantage is that our Muslim population feel themselves to be American.

The three innocent, basketball-loving, benevolent-driven, high-spirited young Americans were stellar in their community: The pride of any American family, role models, academically accomplished and volunteering locally and overseas.

The American judicial system is exhaustive in collecting evidence and swift in delivering justice. The toxic comments made by few TV pundits do not represent America. The overwhelming majority of Americans are warm, tolerant and welcoming to their fellow American Muslim citizens once they know them. American Muslims are part of the American society. They are professors, physicians, dentists, athletes, servicemen and teachers.

Full report at:

http://www.pnj.com/story/opinion/2015/03/04/american-muslims/24395871/

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Family of slain U.S. Muslim appeals for unity

04 March 2015

When Namee Barakat saw a stranger approaching him at the funeral for his son, Deah, daughter-in-law, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, he wasn’t sure what to think.

Nothing appeared particularly out of the ordinary. The guest looked like your average American.

Little did he know that the man had traveled half way across the country to attend the trio’s funeral, wracked by the pain of a seemingly senseless act.

Barakat discovered that the stranger was a dentist from Texas who told the grieving father that he couldn’t stop crying after he heard about what had unfolded in the small college town just southwest of Durham.

Deah Barakat, 23, Yusor, 21, and her sister Razan, 19, were allegedly gunned down by Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, in a residential complex near the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill on Feb. 10.

Six days later, a Durham County grand jury filed three counts of murder and one count of discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling against Hicks.

An initial police investigation pointed to "an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking" as the motive behind the killings, and the FBI announced it launched a separate hate crime inquiry.

Deah Barakat and his wife were married little more than a month prior and honeymooned in Mexico. Barakat, who was studying to be a dentist, planned to travel to Turkey this summer where he and 10 dentists would provide direly needed services to refugees living in the country’s Syrian refugee camps.

“They were the most peaceful, cheerful people that you’d ever want to meet in your life,” said Deah’s father. “It was so sad to see what has happened.”

Deah’s mother, Layla, says that believing that her son is in heaven gives her comfort.

“God is wise and God did let that happen," she said. "I accept whatever good or bad (that) happens to me.”

The fatal encounter was not the first between Hicks and the people he allegedly killed in early February. He had pulled back his jacket to reveal a gun on his hip during an earlier encounter with Yusor, according to Deah’s brother, Farris.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/news/156121/family-of-slain-us-muslim-appeals-for-unity

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Europe

 

France to double number of university courses teaching Islam to combat rise of extremism

Tom Porter By Tom Porter

March 4, 2015

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has announced plans to double the number of university courses teaching Islam, in an effort to counter the rise of Islamic extremism and far-right extremism.

The courses will be funded by the state, announced Valls, who said that education was central to stamping out the ignorance that is allowing "Islamist extremism and the far right feed off each other".

Valls announcement, in the eastern city of Strasbourg on Tuesday, March 3, comes after the terror attacks in Paris in January, in which radical Islamist gunmen killed 17 people.

In recent polls, the far-right French Front National has taken the lead in the run-up to the French local elections.

In an article in the New York Times in the wake of the attacks, Front National leader Marine Le Pen attacked the French political establishment for "20 years of mistakes on immigration and Europe".

In his speech, Valls linked the rise of far-right and Islamic extremism.

Full report at:

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/france-double-number-university-courses-teaching-islam-combat-rise-extremism-1490371

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Many French Muslims Find Lives Of Integration, Not Separation

MARCH 04, 2015

Eleanor Beardsley

Excited children shout out the answers during a Sunday afternoon Arabic class at the grand mosque in the Paris suburb of Argenteuil. The mosque has thousands of worshipers and is one of the largest in Western Europe.

Aboubakar Sabri is a part-time imam there. During the week he runs a successful elevator-construction firm in Paris. Sabri came to France from Morocco in 1980 for doctoral studies at the Sorbonne, then stayed and raised three daughters.

He says Muslims can live perfectly well in French secular society.

"We've succeeded in France, and we are totally integrated," he says. "Our kids attend the public schools. We love France. On Friday we say prayers for France, because if France is in good shape so are we. We are all in the same boat."

These days there is a lot of talk about the couple hundred Muslims suspected of being involved in extremist activities — and about those who feel excluded from French society.

But the fact remains that France has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe — a number estimated to be anywhere between 5 million and 8 million — and the vast majority are integrated into French society and helping shape the future of the country.

Things have been tense since three self-proclaimed Islamist extremists attacked satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery store in Paris in January, killing 17 people.

In jarring contrast to the children playing at the Argenteuil mosque, there also are three heavily armed French soldiers who now live there to protect the congregation.

Sabri says everyone is glad to have them. There have been thousands of Islamophobic attacks around the country since the January attacks. Sabri laments that some people lump all Muslims together with what he calls "the crazy killers."

Television producer Amirouche Laidi says the media plays a big role in stigmatizing Muslims, because they are underrepresented except when it comes to news or films related to Islamist extremism. He is working to show a more realistic representation of ordinary French people of Muslim background in films, advertisements and television.

Full report at:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2015/03/04/390757729/for-many-french-muslims-a-life-of-integration-not-separation

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French Law 'Laicite' Restricts Muslim Religious Expression

MARCH 04, 2015

AUDIE CORNISH

NPR's Audie Cornish is in France, which has Europe's largest Muslim population. France is a secular country, and it has a law called "laicite," which maintains a strict separation of church and state. The law poses a challenge for some Muslims who want to publicly express their faith.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

We've been hearing this week from European Muslims about the tension between their faith and the values of their Western societies. France is a secular country with a strict separation of church and state. It's a principal called laicite, and it's central to what it means to be a French citizen. Our colleague Audie Cornish has been traveling through Europe and continues her reporting from France.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm here in central Paris with our correspondent Eleanor Beardsley. Eleanor, thanks for having us.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Audie, welcome to Paris.

CORNISH: Now that word we just heard - that French word, laicite - it's often translated as secularism. But I know it's not just a cultural idea, right? I mean, it's law.

BEARDSLEY: That's right, Audie. This is a law since 1905, which was designed to curb the powers of the Catholic Church of the clergy. And what it means today is a complete separation of religious identity and affiliation from the public space. In public, you don't have a religion. You're just a citizen of the Republic.

CORNISH: So what does that mean in everyday life?

BEARDSLEY: Well, in everyday life it means, for example, you would never hear the president say, God bless France. You would never have a congressional prayer breakfast of lawmakers. People do not pray in public. It is not seen as an added value to talk about your relationship to God - never. That is your private, personal business, and in the public sphere, that is no one else's business.

Full report at:

http://www.npr.org/2015/03/04/390757722/french-law-laicite-restricts-muslim-religious-expression

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Tell Mama and the battle for the future of British Islam

7 March 2015

Tell Mama is Britain’s most prominent opponent of anti-Muslim prejudice. It monitors everything from criminal assaults to everyday abuse. The far right loathes it, and the Conservative press sells the grotesque pretence that the group exaggerates prejudice to divert attention from the horror of Islamist violence.

But attacks from the right only wound. Tell Mama’s ‘friends’ in the Muslim community have turned out to be far more dangerous and are threatening to destroy the organisation. ‘I am on a knife edge,’ one activist told me. ‘I may just leave. I’m so fed up.’ Two weeks ago Andrew Gilligan reported in the Sunday Telegraph that Baroness Warsi’s Whitehall working group on anti-Muslim hatred has been infiltrated by men with backgrounds in organisations that can hate for England. Muddassar Ahmed, for instance, worked with the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, a fanatical outfit with Jews on the brain. During the last two elections it devoted its energies to campaigning against ‘Zionist’ MPs. Labour’s Lorna Fitzsimons lost her seat after the organisation told local Muslims to sack her because she was ‘Jewish’.

Fiyaz Mughal, the founder of Tell Mama and a former adviser to Nick Clegg, told the Sunday Telegraph he was so concerned ‘about the kinds of groups some of the members had connections with, and some of the groups they were recommending be brought into government’ that he left Warsi’s committee.

The baroness presents herself as a plain-speaking politician. But as with Nigel Farage, her relaxed image hides the soul of a control freak. I hear rumours of a threatened libel action, and of intense lobbying of the board of Tell Mama to force Mughal to back down.

While pressure was applied in private, a public campaign began on Twitter under the hashtag ‘Don’t Tell Mama’. It urged Muslims to wreck the organisation by boycotting it. Tell Mama’s critics accused it of being soft on the ‘heretical’ Ahmadi sect, soft on liberal Muslims who say cartoons of Mohammed don’t offend them, and soft on Jews. ‘So you do have supporters of Israel on board?’ one accuser asked. Mughal replied that Tell Mama’s backers opposed the Israeli occupation but some thought that Jews had a right to a state. Such heresy horrified his critics.

Full report at:

http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9461442/tell-mama-and-the-battle-for-the-future-of-british-islam/

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British Citizen Fighting Islamic State With Kurds Killed in Syria

March 4, 2015

ERBIL, Iraq—A British citizen fighting alongside Kurdish forces against Islamic State group has been killed in Syria, a Kurdish commander said on Wednesday.

Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, an ex-Royal Marine, was shot dead March 2 in the front-line village of Tel Khuzela, Kurdish commander Redor Khalil told the Associated Press. Another foreign fighter battling with the Kurds, American Jordan Matson, said he is with the body and working on getting the remains back to Britain.

“We’re trying to make contact with his mother to see what her wishes are,” Mr. Matson told AP Wednesday. “Otherwise he wished to be buried here under an olive tree.”

Mr. Matson said on his Facebook page that Mr. Scurfield also had Greek citizenship and had served in the Greek army and as a British Royal Marine.

Dozens of foreign fighters have traveled to Syria and neighboring Iraq to fight with Kurdish militias battling Islamic State group. Mr. Matson and four other foreign nationals told AP last month that they arranged to join Kurdish forces through the Facebook page run by the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, the main Kurdish militia fighting in northern Syria.

At least one other foreign fighter, Australian Ashley Johnson, who went by Ase, is known to have been killed fighting alongside the Kurds.

Islamic State group, which currently holds territory in a third of Iraq and Syria, has recruited thousands of foreign fighters, mainly from Europe and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Mr. Scurfield’s parents, Chris and Vicci Scurfield, are archaeologists who live in a detached former farmhouse in the village of Royston. In an interview with Sky News Wednesday, his mother said the family is “reeling” from the news.

Full report at:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/british-citizen-fighting-islamic-state-with-kurds-killed-in-syria-1425471935

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Canada: "Meet a Muslim Family" tackling Islamophobia

04 March 2015

The Choudhry family has an unconventional strategy for fighting Muslim youth radicalization — inviting strangers into their Woodbridge home.

On Sunday, the family invited 14 non-Muslim Canadians to join them for a casual late lunch. The gathering was part of a two-week campaign called “Meet a Muslim Family,” in which Muslim families throughout Canada invited community members into their home for the purpose of uniting Canadian families and dispelling misconceptions about Muslims and Islam.

In article in The Star, Choudhry, 26,explained how he and his two friends came up with the campaign after witnessing a wave of negative attention on, or negative treatment of, Muslims in the media.

Choudhry said he hoped that this woud draw attention to similarities between non-Muslims and Muslims — he mentioned his family’s interest in skiing and snowboarding and love for Tim Hortons coffee.

“For us, it was to show Canadians that there are more similarities that unite us than differences that may divide us,” he said.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/news/156138/canada-meet-a-muslim-family-tackling-islamophobia

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Young Muslims Straddle Two Worlds in France

04 March 2015

PARIS – In the French capital, the bustling Gare du Nord train station stands as a gate between two worlds in Paris, connecting the northern suburbs inhabited with immigrants to the glittering, rich and beautiful center of the capital.

"The thing about the Gare du Nord is that that's where you feel — the kids from the banlieue feel excluded," Andrew Hussey, a British historian who has written about the tensions between France and its black and Arab minorities, told NPR on Tuesday, March 4.

"They come here, and like it's a frontier zone between Paris over there — which is very well-heeled and very rich and very beautiful, and over there [the suburbs] — where they're sort of, you know, cast out into this world that's not quite connected to the center of France."

The poor suburban communities, known as banlieues, in Paris is home to nearly 40 percent of the country’s 7 million Muslims.

The residents of these communities have felt increased scrutiny since three young Muslim men, each born and raised in France, killed 17 people in January's attacks on Charlie Hebdo.

Ismael Medjdoub is one of these "kids from the banlieue" who straddles these two worlds.

The young Muslim, 21, is a third-generation Frenchman of Algerian descent who spends a lot of time on the subway getting to and from work and school, up to four hours every day, including Sunday.

Studying at the Sorbonne in Paris, he wanted to get an apartment in the city. But his he says his district number, like an American ZIP code, is hurting his chances.

His town, called Tremblay en France, is next to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, but that he knows people look down on those communities.

Full report at:

http://www.onislam.net/english/news/europe/483569-young-muslims-straddle-two-worlds-in-france.html

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Southeast Asia

 

Muslim, Buddhist Leaders from South and Southeast Asia Denounce Religious Strife

March 05 2015

Muslim and Buddhist leaders from South and Southeast Asia have issued the Yogyakarta Statement, which refuses the use of Islam and Buddha in the politics of discrimination and violence.

In the statement, religious leaders from 15 countries called on Muslim and Buddhist communities to maintain peace because Buddhism and Islam are two of the world’s largest religions.

“We reject such abuse and pledge to counter extremist religious interpretations and action with our authentic primary narratives of peace,” declared Sri Lanka Council of Religion for Peace president Bellanwila Wimalaratana Anunayake Thera, representing the Buddhist community in Sri Lanka, at Borobudur temple, Magelang, Central Java, on Wednesday.

Bellanwila pointed out that Islam and Buddha had similar teachings, such as peace, love, compassion and a commitment to justice for all mankind.

Both religions also respect the sanctity of life and human dignity as a basis to ensure basic human rights without discriminating between race, color, language or religion, he went on.

The Yogyakarta Statement, addressed to all the people of the world, is the result of a high-level summit of Buddhist and Muslim leaders entitled “Overcoming Extremism and Advancing Peace with Justice”, which lasted for two days in Yogyakarta and at Borobudur.

The event was organized by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and the Council of Buddhist Communities (Walubi) and sponsored by the International Forum on Buddhist-Muslim Relations (BMF).

“We also recognize the need to strengthen governmental measures against religiously motivated discrimination and violence,” Bellanwila said.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/03/05/muslim-buddhist-leaders-denounce-religious-strife.html

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2 Malaysians identified in Islamic State beheading video

March 4, 2015

Malaysian authorities have identified two Malaysians in a video by the Islamic State of a beheading that is believed to have taken place in Syria.

Mohd Faris Anuar and Muhamad Wanndy Muhammad Jedi, aged 20 and 25 respectively, were identified as the men involved in the beheading of a Syrian man in a video posted to Facebook on February 22, said Ayub Khan Mydin, the police counter-terrorism division's deputy chief.

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/2-malaysians-identified-in-islamic-state-beheading-video/article6959140.ece

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Court slams door on Islamic council’s bid to intervene in ‘Allah’ CD case

BY MAYURI MEI LIN

MARCH 5, 2015

PUTRAJAYA, March 5 — The Court of Appeal today rejected an application by the Federal Territory Islamic Council (MAIWP) to intervene in a Sarawakian Christian’s lawsuit to recover compact discs seized by the Home Ministry for containing the word “Allah”.

The three-man bench led by Datuk Tengku Maimun Tun Mat unanimously dismissed MAIWP’s bid to be made a party as the council used the wrong order in the Rules of Court 2012 in its attempt to join the case.

“On the argument that this is the proper method of intervention, they said they came in on a civil matter but ours is on a judicial review,” Lim Heng Seng, Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill’s lawyer, said.

Lim added that MAIWP’s legal counsel should have used Order 53, which is specifically for the judiciary review intervention instead of Order 15 that is applicable for civil suits.

Maimun added, however, that MAIWP may continue to observe the hearings and possibly be involved at the court’s discretion.

“Having said that we allow MAIWP to attend court as watching brief and may submit if invited by the court,” Maimun said.

In February, news portal The Malaysian Insider reported MAIWP wanted to be made a party to the Court of Appeal proceedings by claiming could assist the court on constitutional and Islamic matters.

Jill’s legal team today argued, however, that there are laws already in place regarding the Islamic matters, rendering MAIWP’s presence unnecessary.

Jill has been fighting to get back her CDs that were seized by immigration officials at the Sepang airport upon her return to Malaysia from Indonesia in 2008, citing her constitutional right to freedom of religion.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/court-slams-door-on-islamic-councils-bid-to-intervene-on-allah-cd-case

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Booklets on Jesus with ‘Allah’ word upset villagers in Balik Pulau

5 March 2015

A group of Muslims in Balik Pulau, Penang, is up in arms over the distribution of booklets entitled “Al-Masih”, which tell the story of Jesus Christ and contain the word “Allah”.

About 50 booklets were distributed in seven villages from Kampung Titi Teras to Sungai Pinang, over an area of 10km radius.

Sungai Pinang Federal Village Security and Development Committee chairman Mohd Yusof Salam said he had been getting complaints from villagers since yesterday after they woke up and found the booklets on their doorsteps.

He said it was believed that the booklets were deliberately distributed when the people were in bed, adding that the Rukun Tetangga patrollers had not seen any suspicious individuals during their rounds before 3am.

"The villagers initially thought they were normal religious booklets. After they studied the content, they became uneasy and confused. The booklet stated that Jesus and Mary were married.

"The contents are misleading. We hope this will be investigated," he told a press conference called by Teluk Bahang state assemblyman Datuk Shah Headan Ayoob Hussain Shah at his service centre in Kampung Rusa today.

Yusof said there could be more than 50 copies of the booklet, which was shown to the committee, because some villagers had thrown them away.

Villagers Zuridah Senafi, 38, and Hasmah Yahya, 55, said they felt that their village had been trespassed, since the distribution of the booklets was mostly likely the work of outsiders.

Balik Pulau Umno Youth chief Hisham Abdul Hamid said they were worried that the "devious teachings" would confuse some people.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/booklets-on-jesus-with-allah-word-upset-villagers-in-balik-pulau

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Penang Muslims upset over ‘Allah’ booklets about Jesus

BY OPALYN MOK

MARCH 5, 205

BALIK PULAU, March 5 — The alleged distribution of booklets about Jesus Christ containing the word “Allah” has stirred an uproar among Muslims in a village here who call the materials “confusing”.

Sungai Pinang Federal Village Security and Development Committee chairman Mohd Yusof Salam claimed that more than 50 copies of the Malay-language booklets titled Ringkasan Kisah Nyawa Nabi Isa (The Chronicles of Jesus) were placed in front of houses in seven villages here yesterday morning.

“We thought the green booklets were ordinary religious materials until we read its content and it contained confusing information about Jesus with claims that he married Mary,” he told a press conference called by Teluk Bahang state assemblyman Shah Headan Ayoob Hussain Shah at his service centre here.

Christians have dismissed claims that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene and had children.

Yusof said today he believed that the booklets were distributed in the middle of the night as no one witnessed the booklets being dropped in front of people’s homes.

Seven police reports were lodged by Balik Pulau Umno and others over the issue.

Southwest district police chief Supt Lai Fah Hin, when contacted, confirmed receiving the reports and said the case is being investigated under Section 298A of the Penal Code, which prohibits attempts to cause disharmony or disunity on grounds of religion.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/penang-muslims-upset-over-allah-booklets-about-jesus

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450 killed in China’s Xinjiang last year, mostly Uighurs

March 05, 2015

BEIJING : More than 450 people were killed in China’s restive mainly Muslim Xinjiang region last year, a rights group said - with three times as many deaths among members of the Uighur minority than ethnic Han Chinese.

Xinjiang has seen a wave of unrest, labelled by authorities as “terrorism” and blamed on “separatists”, which has sometimes spread to other parts of China.

Information in the area is strictly controlled by authorities, and the Washington-based Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) used data from Chinese and overseas media reports for its analysis, giving ranges for most of its figures.

Between 457 and 478 people died last year, it said, adding it had been able to identify 235-240 as Uighur and 80-86 as Han, China’s ethnic majority.

The total was more than double that for 2013, when it put deaths between 199 and 237, specifying 116-151 as Uighur and 32-38 as Han.

The rising toll highlights the “excessive force” used by China and a “deterioration in the security environment” since Xi Jinping became Chinese president two years ago, the report said.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/05-Mar-2015/450-killed-in-china-s-xinjiang-last-year-mostly-uighurs

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Drug Smuggler Execution: Australia seeks prisoner swap with Indonesia

March 5, 2015

Australia’s foreign minister said on Thursday she had proposed a prisoner swap to her Indonesian counterpart in an 11th hour effort to save the lives of two Australian drug smugglers expected to face a firing squad within days.

The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ratcheted up diplomatic tension between Australia and Indonesia following repeated pleas for mercy on their behalf. They are among a group of up to 11 convicts, mostly foreigners, due to be executed on the prison island of Nusakambangan.

ALSO READ: Australian death row convicts moved to Indonesian island ahead of execution

Also facing execution are citizens of France, Brazil, the Philippines, Ghana and Nigeria, as well as Indonesia.

Speaking after Australian politicians held a candlelight dawn vigil outside parliament house in support of the men, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she had spoken to Indonesia’s foreign minister earlier this week.

“I raised the fact that there were Indonesian prisoners in Australian jails and whether there was an opportunity for us to consider a prisoner swap, a prisoner transfer or a clemency plea in exchange for a return of prisoners,” Bishop told Sky News Australia.

“I just asked for a pause in their preparations for the execution of Mr Sukumaran and Mr Chan so that we could have officials explore these ideas.”

Australia does not have the death penalty and a recent survey by the Sydney-based Lowy Institute think tank showed nearly two-thirds of the public disapproved of the executions.

Sukumaran and Chan were transferred from Bali’s Kerobokan Prison on Wednesday to Nusakambangan, which lies off Java.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he had asked to speak again with Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Thursday.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Widodo said the men would be executed soon, but not this week.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/world-others/drug-smuggler-execution-australia-seeks-prisoner-swap-with-indonesia/

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Global Muslim Travel Index Ranks Singapore and Malaysia as Top Destinations

Mar 04, 2015

Singapore comes in first place once again on a list of top destinations for Muslim travelers on MasterCard and CresentRating’s annual Global Muslim Travel Index.

CresentRating released its index for the first time in 2011 and MasterCard partnered on the project for the first time this year.

The Global Muslim Travel Index ranks destinations on a scale of 0 to 100. Criteria for the index include how much of a holiday and family destination a country is, how safe it is for Muslims, the number of Muslim visitor arrivals, Halal dining options, availability of prayer spaces, and ease of communication.

The Muslim travel market was worth $145 billion last year, with 108 million Muslim travelers representing 10% of the global travel economy, according to the two companies. They forecast that these numbers will grow to 150 million travelers by 2020, accounting for 11% of the global travel economy and spending nearly $200 billion per year.

The Index evaluated 29 member countries from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a political union of 57 member countries with predominantly Muslim populations that have delegations to the United Nations and European Union, along with 81 non-member countries.

The two companies say they chose Singapore as the top destination for Muslims among non-member countries because of its abundance of Halal dining options and its investment in embracing processes providing more transparency for Muslim visitors, including establishing a dedicated Halal certification body.

Full report at:

http://skift.com/2015/03/04/global-muslim-travel-index-ranks-singapore-and-malaysia-as-top-destinations/

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Pagan Dusun in Sabah listed on MyKad as Muslim, demands rectification

BY JULIA CHAN

MARCH 5, 2015

KOTA KINABALU, March 5 — For the past seven years, Alan Umil, a pagan Dusun like most of those in his community, has been formally identified as Bajau Muslim in official documents, owing to the alleged refusal of Sabah officials to rectify the mistake in his MyKad.

But according to his daughter Rina, the 63-year-old man does not subscribe to Islam and does not plan to, having grown up in Membakut along Sabah’s west coast where his family and others in the Dusun community of Kampung Pinopok have practiced animism for generations.

Although many religions were introduced to the Dusun community over the decades, many of the tribe elders have felt more comfortable clinging on to their traditional beliefs.

Alan is among them, Rina told Malay Mail Online. She said her father had raised his family to share his belief in the Gods of nature, and even visits the temple on occasion and observes the Chinese New Year.

Some among his nine offspring, however, embraced new religious beliefs after getting married, she said.

Rina explained that seven years ago, Alan went to the National Registration Department (NRD) office in Beaufort to collect his new MyKad and was taken aback when it had the word “Islam” on it.

“He tried to reason with the staff then but he was told to go to the Islamic religious department to get it sorted out,” the 31-year-old told Malay Mail Online in a phone interview.

Since then, Alan had his MyKad changed twice because it was damaged but despite telling the staff and bringing his birth certificate for verification, the world “Islam” remained.

“The last time we went to the NRD, they refused to rectify the situation. My father is getting old and less mobile these days.

“He is not able to just go to Kota Kinabalu and to the Islamic department,” said Rina, a former kindergarten assistant who is now at home to look after her parents.

She, along with non governmental organisation Pertubuhan Angkatan Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (Agaras) president Michael Frederick lodged a police report at the Membakut police station yesterday to ask NRD to rectify the mistake.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/pagan-dusun-in-sabah-listed-on-mykad-as-muslim-demands-rectification

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Africa

 

Libya asks UN for arms, jets, tanks to battle Islamic State - letter

05 Mar 2015

UNITED NATIONS: Libya has sought permission from the United Nations to import 150 tanks, two dozen fighter jets, seven attack helicopters, tens of thousands of assault rifles and grenade launchers and millions of rounds of ammunition from Ukraine, Serbia and Czech Republic.

In the written request to the U.N. Security Council committee overseeing an arms embargo imposed upon the North African state, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters on Wednesday, Libya said it needs the massive shipment of weapons and military equipment to take on Islamic State militants and other extremists and to control its borders.

If there are no objections by any of the 15-member committee, the request will be approved at 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT) on Monday.

Two rival governments and their respective armed forces are battling for control of Libya four years after the civil war that ousted Muammar Gaddafi. The chaos has allowed radical Islamist militants to bolster their foothold in the oil-producing OPEC member.

U.N. special envoy Bernardino Leon on Wednesday warned the Security Council that Islamic State would "stop at nothing" to strengthen its presence.

"The international community must move quickly to present a clearly articulated strategy in support of the Libyan state and the efforts of a national unity government in combating the growing threat of terrorism," he said.

In a recent report, U.N. sanctions monitors said that Libyan authorities need an international maritime force to help halt the illicit trade in oil and the flow of weapons.

Libya, backed by Egypt, has called for the arms embargo to be lifted. The government is already allowed to import weapons with the approval of the council committee overseeing the embargo imposed in 2011.

Full report at:

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/islamic-state-will-stop/1695772.html

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Tunisian army kills two Islamist militants near Algerian border

4 March 2015

Tunisian police killed two Islamist militants during clashes near the Algerian border, where the military has been targeted previously in ambushes, the army said on Wednesday.

The fighting came after army and police launched a major operation this week to flush out militants from a base in the Chaambi mountains near Algeria.

"Our special forces killed two members of the terrorist group in Chaambi mountains in an exchange of fire," said army spokesman Bel Hassen Ouslati. "The Tunisian army seized weapons, after the confrontation with terrorists," he added.

Last month, four Tunisian police were killed in a militant attack in the same central region of Kasserine.

With its transition to democracy complete after a 2011 uprising against autocratic leader Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia's government is turning its attention to tackling economic reforms and also tightening security.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/04/Tunisian-army-kills-two-Islamist-militants-near-Algerian-border.html

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Purported Islamic State Militants Attack Libyan Oil Field

Mar 4, 2015

Militants purportedly from the Islamic State group attacked an oil field near Libya's central coast, prompting a counterattack by the country's Islamist-backed government that included airstrikes, an official said Wednesday.

The militants swept down from the city of Sirte to attack the al-Dhahra oil field, trading fire with guards and blowing up residential and administrative buildings before retreating, said Mashallah al-Zewi, the oil minister in the Tripoli-based government.

"They surrounded the site from three different directions, and when guards ran out of ammunition, they stormed the place, looted everything and then bombed the buildings, leaving them in ruins," he said.

All employees and workers, including foreigners, were safely evacuated, he said.

Al-Zewi said that the field is run by al-Waha oil company and other American companies. Al-Waha said on its website that al-Dhahra is one of Libya's oldest fields, with production starting in 1962. Libya's state-run National Oil Corporation runs the field.

Officials believe the same militants were behind the February attack on Libya's al-Mabrouk oil field that killed 10 guards and saw seven foreigners abducted, including three Filipinos. French oil giant Total SA says it worked at that field until 2013.

Oil production dropped dramatically in Libya after the country's 2011 civil war that toppled dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Al-Zewi said Libya's daily production is now nearing 500,000 barrels a day.

Full report at:

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/libyan-official-islamic-state-militants-attack-oil-field-29376411

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Drugs donation boosts armed forces fight against terror

05 March 2015

Abuja - The Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) has welcomed the donation of food and drugs by the Association of Pharmaceutical Importers (APIN).

Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, said the gesture showed the association was made up of highly patriotic professionals who recognize that the war against insurgency could only be brought to a speedy conclusion by the collective effort of all citizens.

“I am indeed delighted to be here today, on this occasion of the donation of drugs and food items to the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) by the Association of Pharmaceutical Importers of Nigeria. I applaud this support and pledge that the donated items will be utilized effectively in beefing up the logistic base of our forces,” he said at the Airforce base in Lagos.

Full report at:

http://www.news24.com.ng/National/News/Drugs-donation-boosts-armed-forces-fight-against-terror-20150305

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Abubakar lauds military for repelling Boko Haram

04 March 2015

Abuja - Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has commended the Nigerian military for the liberation of local territories previously

held by insurgents.

He said the successful military operations in the North East justified the earlier position held by leaders of the region that collaborations between the armed forces and the general public would help curb terror.

"I wish to sincerely commend the troops of the Nigerian military for the liberation of our national territory previously held by terrorists. While these operations could have come earlier, it is important to commend the military for coming to the aid of our communities.

The successful military operations in the North East justify the earlier position held by leaders of the region working with local people brings better results" Abubakar said.

He disclosed that local incursions on small communities were still happening as retreating insurgents were raiding for food.

Full report at:

http://www.news24.com.ng/National/News/Abubakar-lauds-military-for-repelling-Boko-Haram-20150304

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Boko Haram remote control bomb kills two Niger soldiers

04 March 2015

Niamey - A bomb planted and remotely detonated by Boko Haram militants near the southeastern Niger town of Diffa has killed two soldiers and wounded a third, Niger military sources said on Wednesday.

Also read: Police hunt killers of suspected female suicide bomber

"We had two soldiers killed on Wednesday in a remote controlled explosion. We took up the chase and killed the two militants responsible for the attack," near a bridge over the Kamadougou river, an officer said.

Full report at:

http://www.news24.com.ng/National/News/Boko-Haram-remote-control-bomb-kills-two-Niger-soldiers-20150304-4

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UN, AU to deploy 8 700 troops to fight Boko Haram

04 March 2015

Lagos - Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa, has announced plans by the United Nation (UN) and the African Union (AU) to deploy 8 700 troops to fight Boko Haram insurgency.

Chambas said on Tuesday in Lagos that the troops would be properly equipped to combat all forms of Boko Haram insurgency in West and Central Africa.

The special representative said the UN, AU and international partners met last month at two separate meetings to deliberate on the modalities for creating a multi-national joint taskforce.

Chambas added that the taskforce would be constituted with the contribution of troops from four countries.

"One of the top priorities of the UN today is the fight against Boko Haram. Boko Haram is not just a problem in Nigeria but has become an international concern.

"As we all know today, Boko Haram has also taken its atrocities to Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

"This is why the support for the Lake Chad Basin to be the platform for coordinating a joint fight against Boko Haram is a welcome development.

"The Lake Chad Basin countries, AU, UN and international partners have agreed to have a joint taskforce of 8,700 troops to be contributed by four countries from Central and West Africa.

Full report at:

http://www.news24.com.ng/National/News/UN-AU-to-deploy-8-700-troops-to-fight-Boko-Haram-20150304

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Chad president tells Boko Haram leader to surrender or face death

BY MADJIASRA NAKO

Wed Mar 4, 2015

N'DJAMENA (Reuters) - President Idriss Deby of Chad said on Wednesday he knew the whereabouts of Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram, and called on him to surrender or risk being killed.

Chad's army has waged a series of battles against Boko Haram as part of a cross-border military campaign and has re-taken territory the militant group held in northeastern Nigeria.

"Abubakar Shekau must surrender. We know where he is. If he doesn't give himself up he will suffer the same fate as his compatriots," he told a news conference after a regional meeting.

 "He was in Dikwa two days ago. He managed to get away but we know where he is. It's in his interests to surrender," Deby said, referring to a town in northeastern Nigeria held by Boko Haram that fell to Chad's army earlier this week.

Nigeria's presidency declined to comment on Deby's remarks and a defense spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Full report at:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/04/us-nigeria-violence-shekau-idUSKBN0M029220150304

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Boko Haram Remote-Control Bomb Kills Two Niger Soldiers

March 4, 2015

A bomb planted and remotely detonated by Boko Haram militants near the southeastern Niger town of Diffa killed two soldiers and wounded a third on Wednesday, military sources said.

It was the first time Niger’s army has reported being attacked with such a device since it launched a campaign with Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria this year against the Islamist group.

The Boko Haram terrorist group has killed thousands it its bid to set up an Islamist state in its heartland of northeast Nigeria. It has also launched a series of cross-border incursions in recent months into Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

“We had two soldiers killed on Wednesday in a remote-controlled explosion. We took up the chase and killed the two militants responsible for the attack” near a bridge over the Kamadougou river, a officer from Niger said.

Full report at:

http://www.channelstv.com/2015/03/04/boko-haram-remote-control-bomb-kills-two-niger-soldiers/

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Fight Aganst Boko Haram Gets Another Boost

March 05, 2015

This was made known to Nigerian Pilot correspondent on Wednesday in Lagos, by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa, Mohamed Ibn Chambas.

Chambas said the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) assured the Nigerian government of its willingness to closely support the fight against Boko Haram.

He further disclosed that the international communities will properly equipped the 8, 700 troops that would be deployed to fight the terrorists in West and Central Africa.

According to him, the UN, AU and international partners met last month at two separate meetings to deliberate on the modalities for creating a multi-national joint taskforce that would help halt the scourge of Boko Haram in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria.

Full report at:

http://www.naij.com/396421-fight-aganst-boko-haram-gets-another-boost.html

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Algeria set to host negotiations on Libya crisis: UN

Mar 4, 2015

The United Nations says the leaders of Libya's warring factions have been invited to hold talks next week in a bid to find a solution to the ongoing conflict in the North African country.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) announced that “a meeting of representatives of Libyan political leaders and activists will convene early next week in Algeria.”

"The mission continues to reach out to leaders of armed groups to work on reaching a ceasefire, and urges all groups to constructively engage with its efforts in this regard," the statement read.

Algeria’s meeting will be followed later with discussions in the Belgian capital city of Brussels involving representatives from several Libyan municipalities, the statement added.

It also went on to say that the UNSMIL will convene a separate session bringing together tribal leaders and social groups.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/03/04/400251/Algeria-to-host-talks-on-Libya-crisis

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Mideast

 

Turkish PM urges US Muslims to unite against Islamophobia

 05 March 2015

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Wednesday called on U.S. Muslims to make common cause against Islamophobia and racism.

Davutoglu concluded the first day of his New York visit with an address to representatives of Turkish associations in the U.S. at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Midtown Manhattan.

He urged the 190,000-strong Turkish community in the U.S. not only to raise a common voice on issues related to Turkey's interests but also to act in unison with Muslims and others in defending human rights on matters related to discrimination and racism. He also criticized the international community for being silent on the murder of three Muslim students in the U.S. state of North Carolina last month.

"Did the murder of these young Muslims spark the same amount of outrage as the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris had done? Following that attack, I attended the march in Paris to oppose it and stand in solidarity with the French people. But, which heads of state were present at the funeral of these three innocent young Muslims?" Davutoglu asked.

Deah Barakat, 23, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were fatally shot Feb. 10 in a North Carolina residential complex by a man describing himself a "gun-toting" atheist.

Full report at:

http://www.aa.com.tr/en/news/474030--turkish-pm-urges-us-muslims-to-unite-against-islamophobia

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Turkish Regulators Seize Shares in Islamic Lender

March 04, 2015

ISTANBUL—

Turkish banking regulators on Wednesday seized a small stake in the Islamic lender Bank Asya over an alleged illegal share sale, the latest round in a battle between Ankara and a U.S.-based Muslim cleric.

The bank, founded by followers of the Islamic scholar and cleric Fethullah Gulen, has been battered by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's attempts to wipe out Gulen's religious movement, which he accuses of attempting to build a "parallel state.'' The campaign has added to investor fears that political interventions are damaging Turkey's financial system.

Regulators last month took over the management of Bank Asya after the government said it had failed to meet some legal criteria.

The banking watchdog said in a statement Wednesday that Turkey's Savings Deposit Insurance Fund had seized preferred shares in Bank Asya held by a publishing company and a construction firm, citing irregularities in the sale of their parent company, Kaynak Holding, to a Dutch firm in January.

Like most of the shareholders in Bank Asya, Kaynak Holding, which holds nearly 6.5 percent of the bank, is close to Gulen's movement. The watchdog said that only preferred shares had been seized, but did not specify the size of that holding.

Bank Asya declined to comment.

A Kaynak official, who declined to be identified, said only that the watchdog had announced the seizures previously: "We are having difficulty understanding why it is being declared as a new development.''

Full report at:

http://www.voanews.com/content/turkish-regulators-seize-shares-islamic-lender/2667972.html

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1,027 captured trying to cross Turkish border in 6 days

March 04, 2015

A total of 1,027 people were captured trying to illegally cross Turkey's borders to enter into the country between Feb. 19 and Feb. 25, according to a statement by the General Staff on Wednesday.

A large amount of weapons, ammunition and smuggled goods were also seized from the captured people, including seven magazines, 200 shotgun bullets, seven handguns, 68 bullets and half a kilogram of illegal drugs. The smuggled goods which were confiscated mostly included cigarettes, tobacco, livestock, electronic supplies and pipes used for oil smuggling.

The statement also said 854 of the detainees tried to cross the Turkish border from Syria, 51 were from Iran, 17 were from Iraq, 23 were from Greece and 82 were from Bulgaria.

http://www.todayszaman.com/diplomacy_1027-captured-trying-to-cross-turkish-border-in-6-days_374306.html

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Iran Executes Six Sunni Muslim Ethnic Kurds

March 04, 2015

Six Iranian Kurds have reportedly been executed despite human right defenders’ calls on Iranian authorities to spare their lives.

The Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) group said the Sunni Muslim men were executed early on March 4 inside Rajai Shahr prison in the city of Karaj, near Tehran.

On March 3, Amnesty International renewed its call not to hang the six inmates, who it said had gone on a hunger strike.

Full report at:

http://www.rferl.org/content/iran-executes-six-sunni-muslim-ethnic-kurds/26881877.html

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350 Israel soldiers sought psychotherapy after Gaza war: Report

Mar 5, 2015

Hundreds of Israeli soldiers who participated in the Tel Aviv regime’s war against the besieged Gaza Strip last summer have sought psychiatric counseling, a report says.

Over 350 soldiers have received treatment for symptoms related to post-traumatic stress, including disorientation, low productivity, and recurring nightmares, a report by Israel Today said.

A number of the soldiers suffered full-on psychological trauma, the daily said, citing a senior Israeli official as saying that “hundreds” of soldiers had sought psychiatric treatment for “severe stress” during the 50-day war on Gaza.

The Israeli regime started airstrikes on the Palestinian territory in early July 2014 and later expanded its military campaign with a ground invasion. The war ended in late August that year.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/03/05/400335/Gaza-war-traumatizes-350-Israel-troops

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US says Iranian hand in Iraq could turn out well

March/04/2015

Iran’s direct support for an Iraqi push to dislodge the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group from the northern city of Tikrit could turn out to be “a positive thing” if it does not inflame sectarian tensions, the top U.S. general has said.

The statement by Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on March 3 reflected the delicate balance Washington is trying to strike between limiting Iranian influence and allowing Iraqi leaders to determine their own path to defeating ISIL.

U.S. officials have said Iraq did not ask the U.S. to provide air support for the Tikrit offensive, even though the U.S.-led military coalition has been conducting airstrikes in much of Iraq since August and has deployed hundreds of U.S. soldiers to try to regenerate an Iraqi army that collapsed last June, The Associated Press reported.

Dempsey said Iran and its proxies have been operating inside Iraq since 2004, but the Tikrit campaign signals a new level of involvement.

“This is the most overt conduct of Iranian support, in the form of artillery and other things,” Dempsey said in response to questions from members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Frankly, it will only be a problem if it results in sectarianism.”

The Iraqi army said March 4 that its strategy for retaking the jihadist stronghold of Tikrit is to surround the city before launching an assault.

Full report at:

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/us--says-iranian-hand-in-iraq-could-turn-out-well.aspx?pageID=238&nID=79198&NewsCatID=359

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UK seeks to help Turkey with foreigners headed for Syria

March/04/2015

Britain is seeking to better help Turkey prevent foreigners crossing into Syria to join jihadist groups, the chairman of the U.K.’s Home Affairs Select Committee stated on March 3.

“I do not think it is the job of the Turkish police and the Turkish authorities to chase our citizens. This all has to be done with cooperation,” said Keith Vaz at the committee.

Three British students - Shamima Begum, 15, Amira Abase, 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16 - left Bethnal Green Academy in east London in February for Turkey, reportedly to cross into Syria to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Surveillance video acquired by Istanbul police showed the trio at a major bus station in the city on Feb. 17. A British police team arrived in Turkey on Feb. 23, to assist investigations into the missing girls.

Vaz said British police officers were right to be there and Britain should be doing more to help.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said last week that Turkey was alerted by the U.K. three days after the three girls left Britain.

“It is clear that Turkey is now a destination of concern. It has been used as a gateway by British citizens to get to Syria, not just by British citizens, but those from other countries as well,” said Vaz.

He said many of the estimated 600 British citizens who have travelled to Syria have passed through Turkey. “I think the international community should give more help to Turkey. Not just in terms of counter terrorism, but also illegal migration,” Vaz said, adding that the Home Affairs Select Committee has a long-standing interest in counter-terrorism issues.

Speaking at a press briefing on Feb. 27, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç said the ministry disapproved of the Home Affairs Committee’s call for Turkish Airlines CEO Temel Kotil to appear before them about the three schoolgirls.

The committee had asked Kotil and Turkey’s ambassador to Britain, Abdurrahman Bilgiç, to speak to it about the disappearance of the three teenage girls.

“I have spoken to Ambassador Abdurrahman Bilgiç. I think he was in Ankara when I spoke to him. I explained the reasons why we feel it’s useful to have him, as well as the CEO of Turkish Airlines,” said Vaz.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has also touched on what he described as a “worrying situation.”

Full report at:

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/uk-seeks-to-help-turkey-with-foreigners-headed-for-syria-----.aspx?pageID=238&nID=79176&NewsCatID=510

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US and Iran wrap up nuclear talks, for now

March 05, 2015

MONTREUX: Simply demanding Iran’s capitulation is no way to get a nuclear deal with the country, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday as he wrapped up three days of talks with a veiled dig at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Kerry said he and Iranian counterpart Mohammad Jawad Zarif made some progress in their negotiations in the Swiss lakeside town of Montreux and would resume them on March 15. His aides said many obstacles remained before a late March deadline for an outline accord between Iran and six world powers.

Know more: Israeli PM warns US against Iran nuclear deal

“There are still significant gaps and important choices that need to be made,” Mr Kerry told reporters after more than 10 hours of talks with Mr Zarif.

On Tuesday, Mr Netanyahu said in a speech in the US Congress that Washington was negotiating a bad deal with Iran that could spark a “nuclear nightmare”, drawing a rebuke from President Barack Obama and exposing a deepening US-Israeli rift.

Mr Kerry said politics and external factors would not distract from the talks, which aim to constrain Iran with intrusive UN access and verification of its nuclear activity and lengthen the “break-out” time needed for it to build any nuclear weapon.

“No one has presented a more viable, lasting alternative for how you actually prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. So folks, simply demanding that Iran capitulate is not a plan. And nor would any of our P5+1 partners support us in that position.”

The other P5+1 countries are Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany, who would all have to sign off on any deal.

Mr Netanyahu has called for the powers to insist Iran dismantle its nuclear infrastructure and change what he described as its “aggressive” regional posture — an idea swiftly rejected by the Obama administration as tantamount to seeking “regime change” in Tehran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, elected in 2013 on a platform of easing Iran’s isolation abroad through diplomacy and a removal of sanctions imposed on it, said Tehran was prepared to accept greater nuclear scrutiny as part of a deal.

“If the basis of these negotiations is for increased transparency, we will accept greater transparency,” he said in a statement.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1167474/us-and-iran-wrap-up-nuclear-talks-for-now

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U.S. warns Tikrit offensive must not fuel sectarianism

 5 March 2015

The United States on Wednesday warned an offensive to retake control of the Iraqi city of Tikrit from Islamic State militants must not fuel sectarian tensions.

"It is important -- and (Iraqi) Prime Minister (Haider al-)Abadi himself has indicated... that this operation should not be used as an excuse or as cover for individuals taking sectarian-motivated retribution," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

"That would tear at the fabric of the country, and weaken the ability of the Iraqis to confront this threat to their country."

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/05/U-S-warns-Tikrit-offensive-must-not-fuel-sectarianism.html

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U.S. seeks U.N. action on Syria chlorine attacks

5 March 2015

The United States is pushing the U.N. Security Council to threaten tough measures against the Syrian regime over its alleged use of chlorine in attacks, according to a draft resolution circulated to members on Wednesday.

The text obtained by AFP states that the Security Council “decides in the event of future non-compliance... to impose measures under chapter 7” of the U.N. charter, which provides for sanctions and possibly military force.

The draft resolution submitted to the 15 council members “condemns in the strongest terms any use of any toxic chemical, such as chlorine, as a weapon in the Syrian Arab Republic.”

The U.S. move at the United Nations followed a report by the OPCW chemical watchdog in January that concluded “with a high degree of confidence” that chlorine gas had been used in attacks on three villages in Syria last year.

At least 13 people died in the attacks that were carried out from April to August, according to the report by the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

While the report did not attribute responsibility for the chlorine attacks, it cited 32 witnesses who saw or heard the sound of helicopters as bombs struck and that 29 smelled chlorine. Only the Syrian regime has helicopters.

President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and the rebels have accused each other of using chemical agents, including chlorine, in the nearly four-year war that has killed more than 210,000 people.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/05/U-S-seeks-U-N-action-on-Syria-chlorine-attacks.html

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German FM rules out extension of Iran nuclear talks

Mar 5, 2015

Germany's foreign minister has ruled out a further extension of nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 group over Tehran’s nuclear program.

“Talks will not be extended. What cannot be reached in the upcoming three or three and half months cannot be achieved,” Frank-Walter Steinmeier told his country's parliament (Bundestag) in a speech on Wednesday.

Steinmeier refused to talk about the state of the negotiations, saying only that no one wants a “bad deal.”

In February, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also echoed the stance about the extension of the talks.

“I do not think another extension is in the interest of anyone, as I do not believe this extension was either necessary or useful,” Zarif said.

Iran and the P5+1 countries – Britain, France, China, the United States and Russia plus Germany – are seeking to seal a comprehensive nuclear deal by July 1. The two sides have already missed two self-imposed deadlines for inking a final agreement since they signed an interim one in the Swiss city of Geneva November 2013.

On Wednesday, Zarif and his American counterpart John Kerry wrapped up a third day of intense negotiations between Tehran and Washington in the Swiss city of Montreux.

Speaking to reporters, Kerry said tough challenges remained to seal a nuclear deal with Iran.

“We've made some progress from where we were and important choices need to be made,” Kerry told reporters after the talks, with a senior US State Department official saying that “tough challenges” had yet to be resolved.

Meanwhile, Zarif expressed optimism that “despite existing differences, a final deal is not too far off”, warning that the issue of sanctions against the Islamic Republic risked torpedoing a nuclear deal.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/03/05/400329/Germany-rules-out-Iran-Ntalks-extension

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/colours-of-holi-smear-muslims,-hindus-in-pakistan/d/101836

 

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Total Comments (1)

  • 1 .
    Happy Holi everyone!
    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin 05/03/2015 13:45:39