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Concept Of Jihad Not Just In Islam But Also In Gita, Christianity: Congress Leader Shivraj Patel

New Age Islam News Bureau

21 October 2022


Former Union minister and senior Congress leader Shivraj Patil. (HT)


• Muslim Leaders Condemn 'Violent And Vile Islamophobia' Toward Mosque In Thornhill, Ont.

• Women Protesters In Afghan Detail Taliban Abuse: Human Rights Watch Report

• Family Rejects Iran’s Medical Report On Mahsa Amini’s Death: Lawyer

• Abbottabad ATC Sends 80 Tehreek-i-Labbaik Workers On Judicial Remand



• SC Seeks Responses From Centre, States On Plea Seeking UAPA Against Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes

• HC Relief For Muslim Woman, Sets Aside Registration Certificate Of ‘Forced’ Marriage

• Panel formed on SC status for Dalit Christians, Dalit Muslims: Centre


North America

• Police Search For Suspect After Hate Graffiti Painted On Toronto Mosque

• Official Of Quebec City Mosque Where 6 Killed Urges Passage Of Gun Law


South Asia

• Afghan Couple Accuse US Marine Of Abducting Their Baby

• Welcome no more: Rohingya face backlash in Bangladesh

• Pakistan, Iran Vow Joint Efforts on Peace in Afghanistan

• SIGAR: Millions of Afghan Farmers Depend on Growing Opium Poppies for Survival

• Afghan Woman Dead in Border Armed Skirmish between the Taliban and Pakistan



• International community faces mounting pressure to declare Houthis to be terrorists

• Hamas to strengthen ties with Syria in future to serve Palestinian cause: spokesman

• Iran Slaps Sanctions on British Officials, Institutions over Terrorism, Human Rights Abuse

• AEOI Chief Lauds Remarkable Progress in Iranian Nuclear Industry

• Palestinians say one killed during Israeli army raid in West Bank

• Turkey denies it uses chemical weapons against Kurdish militants

• Austrian citizen arrested in Iran, foreign ministry confirms

• Palestinians strike after Israel kills suspected attacker

• Deadly fire at Iran’s Evin prison erupted as police clashed with inmates, sources say

• Palestinian killed in clashes with Israeli army in West Bank: Palestinian ministry



• Court Orders Medical Examination Of Converted Hindu Girl To Verify Age

• Police chief denies presence of terrorists in Swat

• US Senate sees nothing wrong in F-16 deal with Pakistan

• Pakistan SC rejects govt's request to stop ex-PM Imran Khan's planned protest

• Marriyum in Turkiye to represent Pakistan at 12th OIC info ministers conference

• ECP set to announce verdict on Toshakhana reference against Imran today

• Pakistan values Emirate’s role in global, regional affairs: COAS


Arab World

• Syrian Government Retaliates For Killing Of Soldiers By Islamic State

• Syrian Kurds to hand over ISIS-linked Russian children

• Car bomb injures two in northern Iraq, security sources say

• King Abdulaziz University ranks first in Arab World as per QS World Rankings

• Egypt demands halt to Israeli attacks on Palestinian territories

• General who led Syrian bombing is new face of Russian war

• US worried by Syria-Hamas reconciliation, warns of 'isolating' Damascus



• Russia Repatriates 38 Children of Islamic State Suspects from Syria

• Ukraine FM says he spoke to Israel PM about request for defence systems

• UK sanctions Iran over drones used by Russia in Ukraine

• Son of late Iran shah voices solidarity with Ukraine over drones

• EU slaps sanctions on Iran drone maker, military officers

• Iran envoy dismisses Ukraine's accusations Tehran violated UN resolution



• Jordan Censures Dutch Envoy For 'Interference' In Radio License Row

• Kenyan opposition figure Miguna Miguna returns from exile

• Ugandan bank launches 1st Islamic Sharia compliant account

• At least 150 people killed in tribal clashes in Sudan

• Ethiopia says Tigray peace talks to begin in South Africa on Oct. 24

• Algeria, Russia hold joint military exercise in Mediterranean


Southeast Asia

• PKR Man Slams Ismail’s ‘Misguided’ Claims On Anwar’s Pardon

• RM95bil development expenditure not to benefit tycoons, says PM

• Syed Saddiq heckled by rowdy youths outside ceramah

• PH needs coherent economic views to win in GE15, says Chin Tong

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Concept Of Jihad Not Just In Islam But Also In Gita, Christianity: Congress Leader Shivraj Patel 


Former Union minister and senior Congress leader Shivraj Patil. (HT)


21st October 2022

NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader Shivraj Patil on Thursday claimed that the concept of jihad was not just in Islam but also in Bhagavad Gita and in Christianity.

The BJP hit out at the Congress over Patil's remarks and accused it of playing vote bank politics.

Speaking at the launch of Congress veteran and former Union minister Mohsina Kidwai's biography, the former Lok Sabha Speaker and Union minister Patil stated that it is said there is a lot of discussion of jihad in the religion of Islam.

The concept comes to the fore when despite having the right intentions and doing the right thing, nobody understands or reciprocates, then it is said one can use force, he said.

"It is not just in Quran, but in Mahabharata also, the part in Gita, Shri Krishna also talks of jihad to Arjun and this thing is not just in Quran or Gita but also in Christianity," he claimed in his remarks in Hindi.

"If after explaining everything, people are not understanding, they are coming with weapons then you cannot run, you cannot call that jihad and you cannot call it wrong, this is what must be understood, there should not be this concept of making people understand with weapons in hand," the 87-year-old leader said.

Patil further said Mohsina Kidwai's book also talks about respecting all religions while following your own. He also said there is a need for peace in the world.

Hitting out at the Congress over Patil's remarks, BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla said in a tweet, "After AAP's Gopal Italia & Rajendra Pal, not to be outdone in Hindu hatred & vote bank politics, Congress' Shivraj Patil says Shri Krishna taught 'Jihad' to Arjun! "Congress coined Hindu/Saffron terror, opposed Ram Mandir, Questioned Ram JI's existence, said Hindutva=ISIS," Poonawalla tweeted.

In his speech, Patil also said he voted for Mallikarjun Kharge in the Congress presidential polls.

He, however, mistakenly referred to Kharge as Khandelwal a couple of times in the speech.

Patil spoke at length and talked about disparate topics in his address.

Source: New Indian Express

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Muslim Leaders Condemn 'Violent And Vile Islamophobia' Toward Mosque In Thornhill, Ont.


York Regional Police say a male suspect went to the Imam Mahdi Islamic Centre at approximately 11:45 p.m. on Oct. 13 and spray painted three areas of the mosque with 'derogatory, anti-Iranian language,' written in Farsi, aimed toward the Iranian government. (CBC)


Desmond Brown

Oct 20, 2022

Muslim leaders have condemned "violent and vile Islamophobia" toward the Imam Mahdi Islamic Centre in Thornhill, Ont., describing recent incidents as "a very serious matter" for the Muslim community in the Greater Toronto Area in particular, and Canada in general.

At a news conference on Thursday Nadia Hasan, chief operating officer of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), outlined "a troubling series of events," saying the Muslim community has been thrust into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

According to Hasan, the centre, located north of Toronto, has been "targeted" for some weeks now with "sustained Islamophobic actions, including threats, vandalism and harassment." The attacks began around the time unrest erupted in Iran after a woman died on Sept. 13 while in the custody of the regime's morality police. Mahsa Amini, 22, had been arrested for "unsuitable attire."

She provided the following examples of the "violent and vile Islamophobia recently directed against the centre," which was established by Iranian-Canadian Muslims in 2004.

The phrase "death to priests" was spray painted onto its walls.

Someone said that "it's mandatory to bomb the mosque."

Someone threatened to purposely contract COVID-19 and spit on the congregants.

"This has been devastating to witness," Hasan said.

She added that the centre has a large and peaceful congregation that contributes to the social fabric of the Thornhill community, including a lot of children and elderly who are part of the membership.

"These disgusting threats and actions have no place in Canada," Hassan said. "An entire community and religion shouldn't be demonized in this way due to the actions of some people across the world."

"Yet again, we see marginalized communities targeted locally because of events overseas," Hassan added.

Hate-motivated graffiti

In a news release Thursday afternoon, York Regional Police (YRP) said investigators are seeking a suspect and witnesses after reports of "hate-motivated graffiti" found at the Imam Mahdi Islamic Centre.

Police said a male suspect went to the centre at approximately 11:45 p.m. on Oct. 13 and spray painted three areas of the mosque with "derogatory, anti-Iranian language," written in Farsi, aimed towards the Iranian government.

Police gave the following description of the suspect:.

Approximately 5'10".

Thin to medium build.

Face covered, possibly with a bandanna.

Wearing a short jacket, baseball cap, jeans and light-coloured shoes.

Police say investigators are seeking help from the community to identify the suspect and are asking any witnesses, anyone with information or video surveillance footage in that area, to come forward.

Meanwhile, Hasan said the attacks are not isolated incidents.

She said research done by the NCCM shows more than 1,000 hateful messages online in the past two weeks, all directed at Muslims in Canada.

"There have also been hateful rallies outside mosques in British Columbia, and Muslim students on campus are being harassed and threatened," Hasan said.

"Up in Richmond Hill, MP Majid Jowhari was also labelled a terrorist. Some have called Muslim Toronto Police Service officers terrorists."

Hasan said "this kind of Islamophobic backlash is completely unacceptable, regardless of what is happening in other parts of the world."

"Islamophobic voices and forces have spent copious amounts of time falsely portraying the Mahdi Islamic Centre as a terrorist entity, an anti-woman organization or an agent of the government of Iran," she said.

Nayereh Akbarzadeh, a member of the centre who spoke at the news conference, said it seems that some people  "have been just reacting to anger and hatred with even more anger and hatred," adding that this is something that "needs attention."

According to Akbarzadeh, behaviours similar to what has been happening at the mosque might be understandable for Iranian people who have been "living under corruption, sanctions and oppression."

But she said, "here in Canada … we have the ability of just educating ourselves to be able to have peaceful dialogue and honestly teaching our children how real justice will look like."

"This isn't going to be happening if we do not educate ourselves and our children that we should be tolerant," Akbarzadeh added.

Working closely with law enforcement

Hasan said the NCCM has been working closely with law enforcement, including York Regional Police (YRP), to ensure that members of the Muslim community are safe and secure.

Additionally, NCCM has been working with all levels of government for clear denunciations and commitments to action, and has heard from a number of politicians who have put out clear denunciations of what is happening at the centre.

In their news release, YRP said they do not tolerate hate crime in any form.

"Those who victimize others based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, age, gender, gender identity, gender expression sexual orientation, or mental or physical disability will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," the YRP news release said.

Meanwhile, Const. Amy Boudreau, YRP media relations officer, said it's unfortunate when there's a global event happening, local communities are being affected.

She warned that "any type of crime that is hate-motivated or targets any type of group" will be investigated

"There's people in the community that are greatly affected when they're targeted, whether it's vandalism, hate speech or any of those types of things," Boudreau said.

It has a very wide impact on our community and it won't be tolerated in our region."

Source: CBC

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Women Protesters In Afghan Detail Taliban Abuse: Human Rights Watch Report


Taliban fighters fire into the air to disperse women protesters in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 13, 2022. ©2022/ AFP via Getty Images/Wakil Kohsar


Oct 20, 2022

NEW YORK: The Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday released a new report detailing the mistreatment of Afghan women, who were wrongfully detained with their families for protesting Taliban abuses.

The New York-based rights group said the Afghan women were wrongfully detained with their families, including small children. They experienced threats, beatings, dangerous conditions of confinement, denial of due process, abusive conditions of release and other abuses.

According to the HRW, the authorities assaulted and administered electric shocks to detained male relatives. The women's description of their experiences sheds light on the Taliban's treatment of women protesters in custody and the Taliban's efforts to silence the protest movement.

"It's difficult to overstate the incredible bravery of these and other Afghan women who protest against Taliban abuses," said Heather Barr, associate women's rights director at Human Rights Watch. "These women's stories show how deeply threatened the Taliban feel by their activities, and the brutal lengths the Taliban go to try to silence them."

The Taliban had arbitrarily arrested the three women during a single raid on a safe house in Kabul in February 2022. The Taliban authorities held them and their family members for several weeks at the Interior Ministry in apparent retaliation for their involvement in planning and participating in women's rights protests. After their release, they were able to flee the country.

After the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan on August 15, 2021, they immediately began rolling back the rights of women and girls. Women began to protest on the streets since Taliban's first week in power, despite the grave risks they faced in doing so. By early September, women-led protests were taking place in Herat province in western Afghanistan and quickly spread across multiple provinces.

The HRW said the Taliban response was brutal from the beginning, beating protesters, disrupting protests, and detaining and torturing journalists covering the demonstrations. The Taliban also banned unauthorized protests. Over time, the Taliban's abusive responses escalated, with a particularly brutal response to a protest on January 16 in Kabul, when Taliban members threatened, intimidated, and physically assaulted protesters, using pepper spray and electric shock devices.

Days later, the Taliban began conducting raids to arbitrarily detain women who had participated in protests. The Washington Post documented the Taliban's arrests of 24 women's rights activists, some taken with their families, in January and February.

Tamana Paryani, one of the first protesters to be arbitrarily detained under Taliban rule, filmed herself as the Taliban broke into her home at night searching for her, and then quickly posted the video on social media. The women interviewed said that Paryani's abduction sent waves of fear through other protesters, causing many to go into hiding.

"I didn't know them well, but I became afraid then," one woman said, referring to Paryani and another woman arrested that night. "I woke up at night and all my body shook.... We were so afraid. We knew we would be arrested." Another woman said family and friends repeatedly urged her to flee the country, but she refused: "I wanted to stay and fight."

According to HRW, the three women described being held initially in a single cramped and stiflingly hot room with a total of 21 women and 7 children for five days, provided virtually no food or water or access to a toilet. The Taliban held them for several weeks, and abusively interrogated them, without allowing access to counsel or other due process rights, forcibly coerced confessions, and severely tortured the men.

The Taliban compelled the three women's families to hand over the original deeds to their property as the price for release, with the threat that the Taliban would confiscate the property if the women got into trouble again, the rights group said.

The HRW said the Taliban should immediately release everyone detained for exercising their rights to free speech and peaceful protest. "They should respect the rights of all to peaceful assembly and free expression, including journalists covering protests. They should end all arbitrary detention, ensure due process, including promptly charging suspects in custody before an independent judge, and providing immediate access to counsel," it added.

The prominent rights group said the Taliban should hold lawfully detained individuals in accordance with the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. Anyone responsible for torture or other ill-treatment should be impartially investigated and appropriately prosecuted.

"Afghan women and girls have faced some of the harshest consequences of Taliban rule, and they have led the difficult fight to protect rights in Afghanistan," Barr said. "Unfortunately, their pleas to the international community to stand by them have not been answered."

Source: Times Of India

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Family Rejects Iran’s Medical Report On Mahsa Amini’s Death: Lawyer



20 October, 2022

Lawyers for Mahsa Amini’s family have rejected an official Iranian medical report that found her death was not caused by beatings, they said in comments published on Thursday.

Amini, 22, died on September 16, three days after falling into a coma following her arrest in Tehran by the morality police for allegedly breaching the Islamic republic’s strict dress code for women.

Three days after her death, Amini’s father Amjad, told Iran’s Fars news agency that she had been in “perfect health.”

In its report published on October 7, Iran’s Forensic Organization said her death “was not caused by blows to the head and vital organs and limbs of the body.”

“The lawyers rejected the forensic doctor’s report in their statement of defense,” one of the lawyers acting for the parents, Saleh Nikbakht, told Etemad newspaper.

The parents called for “the re-examination of the cause of death by another commission in the presence of doctors” who are confidants to the Amini family.

“Without clarifying the investigation process and the role of the person or persons involved in the arrest and transfer of Mahsa to the morality police headquarters, it is not possible to defend the rights of the parents, and... to resolve the ambiguities about the cause of death,” Nikbakht added.

Last month, Amini’s family filed a complaint against the police who arrested her and called on the authorities to release all photos and videos taken during her detention.

According to Nikbakht, the chief prosecutor had promised “that a medical team appointed by the family would be informed of the course of the investigation.”

The family called on the judiciary to “invite five neurosurgeons and neurologists, a cardiologist and a psychiatrist to choose from a list of 10 doctors nominated by Mahsa Amini’s parents,” according to Nikbakht.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Abbottabad ATC sends 80 Tehreek-i-Labbaik workers on judicial remand

Photo: Minute Mirror

Muhammad Sadaqat

October 21, 2022

HARIPUR: The Anti-Terrorism Court, Abbottabad, on Thursday rejected the police’s request to extend physical remand of 80 arrested Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan and ordered their shifting to the Haripur Central Prison on 14 days remand.

The police had produced the TLP workers before ATC judge Sajjad Ahmad on the completion of two days physical remand.

They requested the court to grant them the accused’s remand for two more days to investigate them regarding the charges of arson attacks, firing, damage to public and private property, and other acts of terrorism.

Havelian station house officer Haroon Khan told Dawn that all accused had been shifted to the Haripur Central Prison.

He said search was under way for the other TLP workers, who allegedly attacked the police with weapons, slingshots and sticks near the Chamba Bridge in Havelian tehsil on Sunday night.

The workers were kept in the prison’s ‘quarantine barracks’.

The arrest of TLP workers came after a clash with the police for stopping them from entering the limits of Havelian from Haripur despite a ban to attend an Eid Miladun Nabi procession.

The police claimed that their 33 personnel were injured by the TLP workers, who also damaged vehicles and property. They booked 90 TLP activists, including chief Allama Saad Rizvi and leaders Mufti Umair al-Azhari, Shafiq Amini and others.

WOMAN DIES FROM BURNS: A woman died from serious burns in a remote village of Khanpur tehsil.

Her father, Mehmood Elahi of Bhera Julian village, alleged that his daughter was killed by his son-in-law.

He complained the police that his daughter, Tehmina Bibi, 28, married Waseem Fazal of Mamriyal village three years ago but had no children, so her husband was unhappy and used to torture her.

The complainant said his daughter left her home thrice but returned.

He said Tehmina’s husband informed him on Oct 12 night about her admission to a Rawalpindi hospital insisting she had suffered burns while cooking food.

He accused his son-in-law, his father and mother of killing his daughter.

The police registered a criminal case against them and arrested them.

Source: Dawn

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 SC seeks responses from Centre, states on plea seeking UAPA against anti-Muslim hate crimes

Oct 21, 2022

The Supreme Court on Thursday sought responses from the Union government and states on a petition seeking to stop the “growing menace of targeting and terrorising the Muslim community of India”, Live Law reported.

The petitioner, Shaheen Abdullah, sought action under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and other laws against persons and organisations engaging in such hate crimes.

Advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the petitioner, said that action needed to be taken against those making hate speeches or engaging in hate crimes, according to PTI.

A bench comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi and CT Ravikumar, however, remarked that the petition was vague and that cognisance could be taken of individual cases where first information reports were filed.

Sibal, however, said that the petition is precise as it had listed several incidents. He said that many petitions have been filed in court to stop such crimes, but they still take place.

The court tagged the matter along with other petitions on the same subject that were pending before another bench.

Abdullah said in her plea that the Muslim community was being targeted by the ruling party members, who have delivered hate speeches on many occasions.

“The spread of hate towards Muslims and other minorities gets accelerated and becomes all the more far-reaching in its impact as a result of the support, directly or indirectly, extended to radical miscreants, who engage in acts of hate crimes, physical violence as well as communally charged speeches by the ruling political party,” the petition said.

Abdullah cited examples of news channels progammes in which Muslims were demonised and examples of speeches calling for genocide and the economic and social boycott of the community. The plea said that no action is taken against individuals or organisations that engage in such hate speech.

Source: Scroll

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HC relief for Muslim woman, sets aside registration certificate of ‘forced’ marriage

OCTOBER 21, 202

In her petition, she says she her cousin had married her by threatening to kill her parents

Bringing relief to a Muslim woman, who said she was forced to sign in the marriage register book, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has set aside the marriage certificate issued by the Tirunelveli District Registrar. The court directed the authorities to delete the entry and record the same in the marriage register book and other records.

In her petition filed in 2015, the woman said she was attending college at Melapalayam when her cousin told her that her mother was ill and admitted in hospital. Believing him, she accompanied him thinking they were going to the hospital. However, he took her to the Sub-Registrar office in Palayamkottai and threatened her to sign the marriage register book. He told her that he would kill her parents if she disobeyed him. As she was in a hapless situation, she signed the papers. However, he continued to threaten her claiming that they were married, she said, adding that she even had to stop going to college.

The woman had lodged a complaint with the Cheranmahadevi Police and sent a representation to the Superintendent of Police, Tirunelveli, seeking protection. She contended that no marriage as per the Islamic tradition had taken place and sought cancellation of the marriage certificate.

Justice R. Vijayakumar took note of the fact that the marriage certificate had been issued under the Tamil Nadu Registration of Marriages Act, 2009, and observed that the Act and the Rules framed thereunder did not empower the Registering Authority to register a marriage unless they were satisfied that a marriage had already taken place, as per their respective personal laws.

The judge observed that a perusal of the provisions and rules of the Act would clearly state it was mandatory for the parties to undergo ceremonies of marriage, which are applicable to their respective religion. Only after such a marriage is conducted as per the respective personal laws, it could be registered under the Act. Mere registration of the marriage without undergoing any marriage ceremony as per their respective personal law would not confer any marital status upon the couple.

It is clear that only marriages that have already been performed can be registered under the Act. The registration of marriage is a consequential event and not a formal marriage. Section 23 of the Act clearly specifies that non-registration of the marriage does not invalidate the marriage. Hence, it is clear that the registration will not confer marital status, but only the formal marriage ceremony as per the personal law would confer marital status upon the parties, the judge said.

The Registering Authority cannot simply rely upon the statutory forms and mechanically proceed to register the marriage. They should satisfy themselves that the parties have undergone the marriage ceremony as per their respective personal laws before registering the marriage. It is a statutory duty cast upon the Registering Authority, the judge added.

Referring to previous orders of Madras High Court, the judge observed that it was clear that without undergoing marriage ceremony as per the respective personal laws, custom or usage or tradition of the parties, they cannot present an application for registration of the marriage. In case, if any such application is presented, the Registrar is duty-bound to verify the fact whether any marriage had taken place already. Without verifying the factum of marriage, the Registering Authority cannot mechanically register the marriage based upon the application present by the parties. In case, if any marriage certificate is issued without being preceded by any marriage ceremony, it can only be considered to be a fake marriage certificate.

Source: The Hindu

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Panel formed on SC status for Dalit Christians, Dalit Muslims: Centre

Abhinay Lakshman

OCTOBER 21, 2022

However, in the affidavit filed before Supreme Court, the Union government argued that petitions in the matter are “devoid of merits” and should be dismissed

The Union government has filed a fresh affidavit before the Supreme Court, through the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, stating its current position on the inclusion of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in the Scheduled Castes list and on the petitions challenging the constitutionality of Para 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950, which allows only members of Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism to be identified as SCs.

In the affidavit filed on Wednesday, the Union government said it had examined the issue and noted the demands from Dalit Christian and Dalit Muslim communities for inclusion in the SC list and accordingly formed a three-member Commission of Inquiry headed by former Chief Justice of India Justice K.G. Balakrishnan to look into all aspects of the matter. It said this was done because the “issue is a seminal and historically complex sociological and constitutional question” that requires a “definitive study and extensive consultation with all stakeholders”.

However, in the following pages of the affidavit, the Union government has reiterated the position it took in November 2019, and argued that the petitions in the matter were “devoid of merits” and should be dismissed, “without prejudice” to the fact that a commission had already been appointed. In the 2019 affidavit, the Centre said Dalits who converted to Christianity and Islam could not be compared to those who converted to Sikhism or Buddhism; the erstwhile Registrar General India and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes had in early 2000s already considered these requests and rejected them; the Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims are already getting reservation and other social benefits from being part of Central OBC lists and State OBC lists; and that the criteria for inclusion in the SC list is extreme social and education backwardness due to the practice of untouchability, which is a feature of Hinduism and its branches alone.

In addition, on the one hand, while the Centre has at the outset declined to accept the findings of the Ranganath Misra Commission also known as the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities, which recommended inclusion of Dalit Christians and Muslims in the SC list; on the other, it has cited select portions from a dissent note published with the same report, to conclude that such converts “are not eligible for consideration as SC persons”. Based on this dissent, it also adds, “A Uniform Law (referring to the Protection of Civil Rights Act) which deals with untouchability is already applicable to all persons regardless of their religious faith. The benefits accorded to Scheduled Caste converts are in tune with the benefits given to the OBCs.”

Court precedents

Furthermore, the Union government has argued by placing a plethora of court precedents to assert that when it comes to Article 341 of the Constitution, “the power of the President and Parliament in this regard is conclusive” and that courts in their constitutional jurisdiction “have no power except to the notification issued by the President under Article 341”.

It argued similarly, “The question as to which groups [within which religions] are eligible to be identified as Scheduled Castes, is inherently a social question and cannot be adjudicated before the Hon’ble Courts”. The Centre also argued that there is no substance in the petitioners’ claim that limiting SC classification to only a few religions was violative of rights under Article 14 of the Constitution and that in case of making special laws, the only requirement prior to legislative classification is it “should be based on an intelligible differentia having a reasonable relation to the object which the legislature seeks to attain”, which is satisfied in the instant case.

The Centre added, “It is reiterated that there exists an intelligible differentia that these classifications are not a mathematical nicety and the backwardness as pleaded by the instant petitioners is duly taken care of by the respective State governments by providing them benefits under the OBC class.”

‘Intelligible differentia’

In the latest affidavit, the Union government has said the Justice K.G. Balakrishnan Commission will also be examining whether this “intelligible differentia” exists and if it concludes so “after field study and holistic determination of the issue”, the classification as it currently exists would be sustainable.

Further, the Centre has limited the question in this case to whether Scheduled Caste converts to other religions suffer from the “same degree of oppressiveness as suffered by Scheduled Castes practising Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism” and asserted, “The Commission appointed by the Central government will establish, one way or the other whether the oppressive severity of backwardness remain the same or not, and till the time the same is established, it cannot be said that the impugned classification is discriminatory.”

Source: The Hindu

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North America


Police search for suspect after hate graffiti painted on Toronto mosque

Barry Ellsworth  



Vandalism at a Toronto-area mosque marks a "frightening escalation of Islamophobia" stemming from unfounded allegations that the mosque is an agent of the Iranian government, the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) said Thursday.

The vandalism last week at the Imam Mahdi Islamic Centre in Thornhill took the form of hate-motivated graffiti written in Farsi. The mosque has also received bomb threats and worshippers have been threatened, according to the NCCM.

But it is just one of the hundreds of examples of anti-Muslim incidents across Canada sparked by anti-government demonstrations in Iran after a woman was arrested for allegedly violating the country’s dress code and died in police custody, said the Muslim group.

"The Muslim community in Canada has been victim to over 1,000 Islamophobic messages on Twitter alone in just these past few days," NCCM wrote Thursday on Facebook. "These include death threats, threats of violence, and consistent harassment. Enough is enough. This must stop."

The group held a news conference Thursday to "address recent Islamophobic vandalism and threats directed at the community" and to demand that officials help curb the hate that is wrongly directed toward Canadian Muslims because of ongoing protests in Iran.

“Once again, the Islamic community is being pushed into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons,” said Nadia Hasan, Chief Operating Officer at NCCM.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Official of Quebec City mosque where 6 killed urges passage of gun law

Barry Ellsworth 



The co-founder of the Quebec City mosque where six worshippers were killed in a deadly shooting spree in 2017 urged Canadian lawmakers Thursday to toughen and pass a proposed gun bill.

Boufeldja Benabdallah said Bill C-21 should include a ban on assault-style semi-automatic weapons "that are not reasonably used for hunting. We don't need weapons of war."

Alexandre Bissonnette approached the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City on Jan. 29, 2017 as evening prayers ended. Attempting to unleash a barrage of bullets using a semi-automatic .223 rifle that fortunately jammed, he grabbed his 9-mm semi-automatic Glock handgun.

In under two minutes, he killed six worshippers and wounded 19, five seriously. It remains the worst shooting in a religious setting in Canadian history.

The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finally banned about 1,500 types of firearms in May 2020. The government said the weapons, which included the AR-15 (America's most popular rifle) and the Ruger Mini-14, were not needed for hunting.

When Benabdallah appeared Thursday before the House of Commons public safety committee studying Bill C-21, he said Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino assured him earlier that an amendment to clearly define and outlaw assault-style weapons was forthcoming.

“The government needs to do this, and I’m confident because we discussed it verbally with Mr. Mendicino when he came to the mosque,” he said.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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South Asia


Afghan couple accuse US Marine of abducting their baby

Oct 20, 2022

The young Afghan couple raced to the airport in Kabul, clutching their baby girl close amid the chaotic withdrawal of American troops last year.

The baby had been rescued two years earlier from the rubble of a US Special Forces raid that killed her parents and five siblings. After months in a US military hospital, she had gone to live with her cousin and his wife, this newlywed couple. Now, the family was bound for the United States for further medical treatment, with the aid of US Marine Corps attorney Joshua Mast.

When the exhausted Afghans arrived at the airport in Washington, D.C., in late August 2021, Mast pulled them out of the international arrivals line and led them to an inspecting officer, according to a lawsuit they filed last month. They were surprised when Mast presented an Afghan passport for the child, the couple said. But it was the last name printed on the document that stopped them cold: Mast.

They didn’t know it, but they would soon lose their baby.

This is a story about how one US Marine became fiercely determined to bring home an Afghan war orphan, and praised it as an act of Christian faith to save her. Letters, emails and documents submitted in federal filings show that he used his status in the US Armed Forces, appealed to high-ranking Trump administration officials and turned to small-town courts to adopt the baby, unbeknownst to the Afghan couple raising her 7,000 miles (11,000 kilometers) away.

The little girl, now 3 ½ years old, is at the center of a high-stakes tangle of at least four court cases. The Afghan couple, desperate to get her back, has sued Mast and his wife, Stephanie Mast. But the Masts insist they are her legal parents and “acted admirably” to protect her. They’ve asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit.

The ordeal has drawn in the US departments of Defense, Justice and State, which have argued that the attempt to spirit away a citizen of another country could significantly harm military and foreign relations. It has also meant that a child who survived a violent raid, was hospitalized for months and escaped the fall of Afghanistan has had to split her short life between two families, both of which now claim her.

Five days after the Afghans arrived in the US, they say Mast — custody papers in hand — took her away.

The Afghan woman collapsed onto the floor and pleaded with the Marine to give her baby back. Her husband said Mast had called him “brother” for months; so he begged him to act like one, with compassion. Instead, the Afghan family claims in court papers, Mast shoved the man and stomped his foot.

That was more than a year ago. The Afghan couple hasn’t seen her since.

“After they took her, our tears never stop,” the woman told The Associated Press. “Right now, we are just dead bodies. Our hearts are broken. We have no plans for a future without her. Food has no taste and sleep gives us no rest.”



The story of the baby unfolds in hundreds of pages of legal filings and documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, as well as interviews with those involved, pieced together in an AP investigation.

In a federal lawsuit filed in September, the Afghan family accuses the Masts of false imprisonment, conspiracy, fraud and assault. The family has asked the court to shield their identity out of concerns for their relatives back in Afghanistan, and they communicated with the AP on the condition of remaining anonymous.

The Masts call the Afghan family’s claims “outrageous, unmerited attacks” on their integrity. They argue in court filings that they have worked “to protect the child from physical, mental or emotional harm.” They say the Afghan couple are “not her lawful parents,” and Mast’s attorney cast doubt on whether the Afghans were even related to the baby.

“Joshua and Stephanie Mast have done nothing but ensure she receives the medical care she requires, at great personal expense and sacrifice, and provide her a loving home,” wrote the Masts’ attorneys.

The baby’s identity has been kept private, listed only as Baby L or Baby Doe. The Afghan couple had given the baby an Afghan name; the Masts gave her an American one.

Originally from Florida, Joshua Mast married Stephanie and attended Liberty University, an evangelical Christian college in Lynchburg, Virginia. He graduated in 2008 and got his law degree there in 2014.

In 2019, they were living with their sons in Palmyra, a small rural Virginia town, when Joshua Mast was sent on a temporary assignment to Afghanistan. Mast, then a captain in the US Marine Corps, was a military lawyer for the federal Center for Law and Military Operations. The US Marines declined to comment publicly, along with other federal officials.

That September in 2019 was one of the deadliest months of the entire US occupation in Afghanistan, with more than 110 civilians killed in the first week alone.

On Sept. 6, 2019, the US attacked a remote compound.

No details about this event are publicly available, but in court documents Mast claims that classified reports show the US government “sent helicopters full of special operators to capture or kill” a foreign fighter. Mast said that rather than surrender, a man detonated a suicide vest; five of his six children in the room were killed, and their mother was shot to death while resisting arrest.

Sehla Ashai and Maya Eckstein, attorneys for the Afghan couple, dispute Mast’s account. They say the baby’s parents were actually farmers, unaffiliated with any terrorist group. And they described the event as a tragedy that left two innocent civilians and five of their children dead.

Both sides agree that when the dust settled, US troops pulled the badly injured infant from the rubble. The baby had a fractured skull, broken leg and serious burns.

She was about 2 months old.

Mast called the baby a “victim of terrorism.” His attorney said she “miraculously survived.”



The baby was rushed to a military hospital, where she was placed in the care of the Defense Department.

The International Committee of the Red Cross told the AP that they began searching for her family with the Afghan government, often a plodding process in rural parts of the country where record-keeping is scant. At first, they didn’t even know the baby’s name.

Meanwhile, Mast said, he was “aggressively” advocating to get her to the US Over several months, he wrote to then-Vice President Mike Pence’s office, according to exhibits filed in court. He said his colleagues in the military tried to talk to President Donald Trump about the baby during a Thanksgiving visit to Bagram Airfield. Mast also said he made four requests over two weeks to then-White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, asking for help to medically evacuate the baby “to be treated in a safe environment.”

The Masts were represented by Joshua’s brother Richard Mast, an attorney with the conservative Christian legal group Liberty Counsel, which says it is not involved in this case. None of the Masts responded to repeated requests for interviews.

In emails to military officials, Mast alleged that Pence told the US Embassy in Kabul to “make every effort” to get her to the United States. Mast signed his emails: “‘Live for an Audience of one, for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.”

Pence’s spokesman, Marc Short, did not respond to requests for comment.

The US Embassy never heard from Pence’s office, said a Department of State official, who requested anonymity because they did not have permission to speak publicly about the situation. But they did begin getting highly unusual inquiries about the possibility of sending the baby to the US The diplomats were rattled by the suggestion that the US could just take her away; they believed the baby belonged to Afghanistan.

“I was aware that it may not be smooth sailing ahead, but that just made me more determined to do the right thing,” the State Department official said.

About six weeks after the baby was rescued, the US Embassy called for a meeting, attended by representatives of the Red Cross, the Afghan government and the American military, including Mast. The State Department wanted to make sure everyone understood its position: Under international humanitarian law, the US was obliged to do everything possible to reunite the baby with her next of kin.

At the meeting, Mast asked about adoption, the State Department official said. Attendees from Afghanistan’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs explained that by Afghan law and custom, they had to place the baby with her biological family. If that did not work, the Afghan Children’s Court would determine a proper guardian.

The American concept of adoption doesn’t even exist in Afghanistan. Under Islamic law, a child’s bloodline cannot be severed and their heritage is sacred. Instead of adoption, a guardianship system called kafala allows Muslims to take in orphans and raise them as family, without relinquishing the child’s name or bloodline.

American adoptions from Afghanistan are rare and only possible for Muslim-American families of Afghan descent. The State Department recognizes 14 American adoptions from Afghanistan over the past decade, none in the past two years.

Yet two days after the embassy meeting, a letter was sent to US officials in Kabul from Kimberley Motley, a near-celebrity American attorney in Afghanistan, the State Department official said. Motley wrote that she was representing an unnamed concerned American citizen who wished to adopt this baby. Motley declined to be interviewed by the AP.

Mast also continued his appeals to American politicians. The US Embassy began hearing from Congressional staffers about the baby, and diplomats met with a military general, the official said.

The general in turn put a “gag order” on military personnel about the baby and said “no one was to advocate on her behalf,” Mast wrote in a legal filing.

But he wasn’t ready to give up.



The Masts searched for a solution halfway around the world — in rural Fluvanna County, Virginia, where they lived.

They petitioned the local Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, describing the baby as a “stateless minor recovered off the battlefield." In early November 2019, a judge granted them legal custody. The name of this judge is not publicly available because juvenile records are sealed in Virginia.

A few days later, a certificate of foreign birth listed Joshua and Stephanie Mast as parents.

The custody order was based on the Masts’ assertion that the Afghan government — specifically now-deposed President Ashraf Ghani — intended to waive jurisdiction over the child “in a matter of days,” according to a hearing transcript. The waiver never arrived.

In an email to the AP, Ghani’s former deputy chief of staff Suhrob Ahmad said there is “no record of this alleged statement of waiver of Afghan jurisdiction.” Ahmad said he and the head of the Administrative Office of the President do not remember any such request going through the court system as required.

The US Embassy heard that Mast was granted custody. Military lawyers assured them that the Marine was just preparing in case Afghanistan waived jurisdiction, but would not interfere with the search for the baby’s family, according to the State Department official.

Yet all along they planned to adopt the baby, according to records obtained from the state of Virginia under a Freedom of Information Act request. Richard Mast wrote the Attorney General’s office in November 2019 that the Masts “will file for adoption as soon as statutorily possible.”

In the meantime, Joshua Mast enrolled the baby in the Defense Department health care system, made an appointment at a US International Adoption Clinic and asked to have her evacuated.

Then came a surprise: The Red Cross said they’d found her family. She was about five months old.

In late 2019, Afghan officials told the US Embassy that the baby’s paternal uncle had been identified, and he decided his son and daughter-in-law were best suited to take her, according to court records. They were young, educated newlyweds with no children yet of their own, and lived in a city with access to hospitals.

The young man worked in a medical office and ran a co-ed school, which is unusual in Afghanistan. His wife graduated from high school at the top of her class, and is fluent in three languages, including English. They had married for love, unlike many Afghans in arranged marriages.

Mast expressed doubts about the newly-found uncle, describing him in court records as “an anonymous person of unknown nationality” and claiming that turning the baby over to him was “inherently dangerous.” He asked the Red Cross to put him in touch, but they refused.

In emails to a US military office requesting evacuation, Mast alleged that he read more than 150 pages of classified documents, and concluded the child was a “stateless minor.” Mast believed she was the daughter of transient terrorists who are citizens of no country, his attorney said. He also speculated that if reunited with her family, she could be made a child soldier or a suicide bomber, sold into sex trafficking, hit in a US military strike, or stoned for being a girl.

But Afghanistan did not waver: the child was a citizen of their country.

Mast’s attorney sent the US Embassy a “cease and desist” letter warning them not to hand the baby over, according to the State Department official. But on February 26, 2020, the Masts learned that the US was preparing to put the baby, now nearly 8 months old, on a plane early the following morning to join her family in another Afghan city.

The Masts, represented by Richard Mast, sued the secretaries of Defense and State in a federal court in Virginia, asking for an emergency restraining order to stop them. The Masts claimed they were the baby’s “lawful permanent legal guardians.”

Within hours, four federal attorneys — two from the Justice Department and two from the US Attorney’s Office — were on the phone, and Richard Mast was in Federal Judge Norman Moon’s office.

Richard Mast said the baby should not be “condemned to suffer.” He complained that the Afghan government had not conducted DNA testing to confirm the family they found was truly related to the child.

But the Justice Department attorneys said they had no right to mandate how the Afghan government vets the family, and that the Red Cross — which has reunited relatives in war zones for more than a century — had confirmed it was done properly. Further, the federal government’s attorneys described the Masts’ custody documents from state court as “unlawful,” “deeply flawed and incorrect,” and “issued on a false premise that has never happened” — that Afghanistan would waive jurisdiction.

Judge Moon asked Richard Mast: “Your client is not asking to adopt the child?”

“No sir,” Mast responded. “He wants to get her medical treatment in the United States.”

Justice Department attorneys argued that the United States must meet its international obligations. Attorney Alexander Haas put it simply: Taking another country’s citizen to the United States “would have potentially profound implications on our military and foreign affairs interests.”

Judge Moon ruled against the Masts, and the baby stayed in Afghanistan.

The next day, she was united with her biological family. The Afghan couple wept with joy.

“We didn’t think she would come back to her family alive,” said the young Afghan man. “It was the best day of our lives. After a long time, she had a chance to have a family again.”



As the months passed in her new home in Afghanistan, the girl loved getting henna painted on her hands and dressing up in new clothes, the Afghan couple said. She always wanted to do her new mother’s makeup, or brush her hair.

“She knew about Allah, about clothes, about the names of food,” the woman wrote.

The couple cared for her as if she was their own daughter, but with an extra measure of tenderness because of the unimaginable tragedy she’d already suffered.

“We never wanted her to feel she couldn’t have something she wanted,” said the young man.

Meanwhile, Mast continued to worry that the child was “in an objectively dangerous situation,” Richard Mast wrote in court documents. The Masts asked Kimberley Motley, the attorney, to track down the family, saying he wanted to get the child medical treatment in the U.S, Motley said in court records.

Motley contacted the Afghan family in March 2020, about a week after the baby was placed in her new home. Motley is named as a defendant in their lawsuit, but her attorney, Michael Hoernlein, told the AP the claims against her are “meritless.” In court documents, Motley’s attorneys describe her role as professional and above-board, and asked that the claims against her be dismissed.

Motley had originally gone to Afghanistan in 2008 under an American-funded initiative to train local lawyers. She stayed, largely representing foreigners charged with crimes. She took on high-profile human rights cases, gave a TED Talk and wrote a book.

Over the course of a year, Motley called for updates about the child and occasionally asked for photos. In July, around the baby’s first birthday, the couple sent Motley a snapshot of the child in swim trunks, smiling and splashing in a wading pool.

At the same time, the Masts’ adoption case was still winding through the court system in Fluvanna County, Virginia. In December 2020, the state court granted the Masts a final adoption order based on the finding that the child “remains up to this point in time an orphaned, undocumented, stateless minor,” according to a federal lawsuit. Fluvanna County Circuit Court Presiding Judge Richard E. Moore did not respond to repeated requests for clarity on how the cases progressed.

International adoption lawyers were baffled.

“If you have relatives there who are saying, ‘no, no, no, we want our daughter, we want our little girl,’ it’s over,” said Irene Steffas, an adoption and immigration attorney. “There is no way the US is going to get into a match with another country when it comes to a child that’s a citizen of that country.”

Karen Law, a Virginia attorney who specializes in international adoption, said state law requires an accredited agency to visit three times over six months and compile a report before an adoption can be finalized. The child must be present for the visits — but this baby was thousands of miles away.

On July 10, 2021, around the baby’s second birthday, Motley facilitated the first phone call between the Afghan couple and Joshua Mast, with the aid of translator Ahmad Osmani, a Baptist pastor of Afghan descent. Mast told the Afghan couple that unless they sent the child to the United States for medical care, she could “be blind, brain damaged, and/or permanently physically disabled.”

But the Afghan man now raising her, who had worked in the medical field, did not think her burn scars, a leg injury and mysterious allergic reactions amounted to a life-altering condition in the way Mast described. The couple declined sending the baby to the United States.

The woman was pregnant, and worried about the risk of such a long flight. They said they asked Mast: Could they take the baby to Pakistan or India for treatment instead?

The answer was no, their lawsuit says. The conversations continued for months. Osmani, the translator, vouched for the Masts and described them as kind and trustworthy, according to the lawsuit, which names him as a defendant.

Osmani did not respond to requests for comment. He asked a federal judge to throw out the lawsuit, and said he never deceived anyone. He was only a “mere translator."

His attorneys wrote: “No good deed goes unpunished.”



In late summer 2021, the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan. Mast said he contacted the family to bring the baby to the US “before the country collapsed.” He said he was “extremely concerned that they may not get another chance.” The couple agreed.

Mast applied for special visas for the Afghan family and for relatives of Osmani, the translator, according to court records. They characterized the Afghan couple as an escort for a “US military dependent” — the baby.

In an email to US officials filed in court, Mast wrote that Osmani was “very instrumental to helping a US Marine … adopt an Afghan child.”

Soon, the Afghan family began their days-long journey to the US Joshua Mast told them to say he was their lawyer.

“If anyone asks to talk about your documents, show them this text: I am Major Joshua Mast, USMC. I am a Judge Advocate … ,” Mast texted them detailed directions for how to deal with US authorities, their lawsuit says.

When the family arrived in Germany for a stopover, Joshua Mast and his wife greeted them at the air force base. It was the first time they had met in person.

In Germany, the Masts visited the Afghan family’s room three times to try to get the baby to travel separately with them, “insisting that it would be easier for the toddler to enter the United States that way,” the Afghan couple recalled in their lawsuit. They refused to let the girl out of their sight.

When the Afghans finally landed in the United States, they began explaining that the child was too young to have Afghan documents. That’s when they claim Joshua Mast pulled out an Afghan passport.

Inside was the same photo of the child in the wading pool, but altered to change the background, add a shirt and smooth her hair. Mast told the Afghans to “keep quiet” about having his name on her passport, their lawsuit alleges, so it would be easier to get medical care.

The Afghan couple asked to be taken to Fort Pickett Army National Guard base, a location specified by Mast, according to the lawsuit. Thousands of Afghan refugees were temporarily housed there.

Soon after, they said, soldiers came to their room and told them they were moving. A strange woman sat in the back of the van next to a car seat, according to court records, and the baby fussed as she buckled her in.

The van pulled up to a building they didn’t recognize, where a woman who called herself a social worker said the Masts were the girl’s legal guardians. Confused and frightened, the child cried and the couple begged.

But it did no good. Mast took the baby to his car, where his wife was waiting, the lawsuit says.

They had lost her.

In their heavily redacted response to the lawsuit, the Masts acknowledge they “took custody” of the child; they said their adoption order was valid and they did nothing wrong.

Richard Mast is also named as a defendant in the Afghan family’s lawsuit. He wrote in legal documents that his brother’s adoption of the child was “selfless;” it saved both the child, and the Afghan family fighting to get her back, “from the evils of life under the Taliban.”

The Afghan couple believed that their baby was stolen, and they immediately sought help at Fort Pickett to get her back.

“But the playing field was not level,” their attorney, Ashai, told the AP. The couple “were forced to navigate a complex and confusing system in a foreign country in which they had just arrived, after having survived the greatest trauma of their lives.”

Meanwhile, the couple says in court documents, Osmani warned them not to contact a lawyer or the authorities, and suggested that Mast might give them the baby back if they dealt directly with him.

And so they tried to maintain contact with Mast. They were also scared of him. If he could abduct their child in broad daylight, they worried he might hurt them too, their lawyers wrote in legal filings.

The Afghan woman plunged into a deep depression and, despite being nine months pregnant, stopped eating and drinking. She could not sleep. Her husband was afraid to leave her alone.

“Since we have come to America, we have not felt happiness for even one day,” the Afghan man told the AP. “We feel like we are living in a dark jail.”

His wife gave birth to a girl on October 1, 2021. The young mother’s grief became overwhelming. A month later, she considered suicide and was taken to a clinic.

Soon the couple sought legal help; by December 2021, the Afghan couple had asked the Fluvanna judge to reverse the adoption. But those proceedings, almost one year in, have been opaque and slow.

On Feb. 27, 2022, when the Afghan baby was 2 ½ years old, the Masts traveled to the Mennonite Christian Assembly in Fredericksburg, Ohio, to share their joy during a special church service. In a video advertising the event called “Walking in Faith,” the pastor apologized to congregants that it would not be online, because the Marine would share “very confidential, classified information.”

“Unforeseen events gave the couple an unexpected opportunity to stand up to protect innocent life,” read the program flyer. “Come hear how God’s mighty hand allowed for a remarkable deliverance.”

Pastor John Risner told the AP that the Masts had requested the service be confidential, and he didn’t want to betray their trust by disclosing any details.

All he would say is that their story is “amazing.”



The fate of the Afghan child is now being debated in secret proceedings in a locked courtroom in the village of Palmyra, Virginia, home to about 100 people.

Earlier this month, Joshua Mast arrived at the Fluvanna County courthouse along with his wife and his brother Richard. Mast was dressed in his starched Marine uniform, holding his white and gold hat in his hand. The hearing stretched on for roughly eight hours.

The proceedings have been completely shielded from public view, mandated by presiding Judge Moore. The AP was not allowed inside the courtroom. Court clerk Tristana Treadway refused to provide even the docket number, saying she could “neither confirm nor deny” the case existed at all.

More than a dozen lawyers streamed into the courthouse, carting boxes of evidence, and each said they were forbidden from speaking.

Mast remains an active duty Marine, and has since been promoted to major. He now lives with his family in North Carolina. The Afghan toddler has been with them for more than a year.

Source: Times Of India

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Welcome no more: Rohingya face backlash in Bangladesh

Oct 20, 2022

KUTUPALONG: Rohingya refugee Noor Kamal found a sympathetic welcome in Bangladesh when he fled the soldiers rampaging through his village - but five years later, the hostility he now faces has left him pondering a dangerous return home.

Much has changed in the time since he and 7,50,000 other members of the stateless Muslim minority escaped neighbouring Myanmar, the survivors of a horrific crackdown now subject to a UN genocide probe.

Back then, thousands of Bangladeshis, outraged by the anti-Muslim violence across the border, trekked from across the country to distribute food and medicine to the shell-shocked arrivals.

But public attitudes have hardened after years of fruitless efforts to negotiate a safe return for the Rohingya, with media outlets and politicians regularly condemning refugees as drug runners and terror threats.

"There is so much hatred among local people and the press here that I worry it may trigger violence at any time," Kamal told AFP from his home in Bangladesh's sprawling border relief camps.

"It's better we return home even if it means we have to face bullets. If we die, at least we will be buried in our motherland."

Bangladesh has struggled to support the immense refugee population -- while there is financial assistance from the UN refugees body and other humanitarian organisations, Dhaka still faces huge administrative challenges in hosting the camps.

Last year's military coup in Myanmar has made the prospects of a wholesale return even more remote.

Last month, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the Rohingya camps had become both a deep burden on her country's economy and a threat to its political stability.

"If the problem persists... it may affect the security and stability of the entire region," she told the UN General Assembly in New York.

Resentment is widespread among Bangladeshis living near the camps, who say the Rohingya have outstayed their welcome.

"They are bringing shame to Bangladesh," Ayasur Rahman, the spokesman of a local civil society group campaigning against the Rohingya's presence, told AFP.

"They should be sent to Myanmar immediately," he said, accusing refugees of "snatching our jobs (and) stealing our passports".

Critical commentary on security issues in the camps and their burden on public resources has also become a running feature of local media reportage.

In August, on the fifth anniversary of the crackdown that sparked the Rohingya exodus from Myanmar, a popular online news portal ran an opinion article asking: "How long will Bangladesh be punished for its benevolence?"

Another local media headline likened the presence of the Rohingya to a "cancerous tumour".

Negative media portrayals of the Rohingya have become so rampant that they caught the attention of former UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet, who toured the country in August as one of her final acts in office.

"I am very worried about increasing anti-Rohingya rhetoric in Bangladesh, stereotyping and scapegoating Rohingya as the source of crime and other problems," she said at the time.

Refugees acknowledge that violence and criminal activity exist within the Kutupalong camp network -- though it is the Rohingya themselves who are its chief victims.

The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), an Islamist militant group that has clashed with Myanmar's army in the past, has sought to entrench its control over the camps - even murdering civil society leaders that could challenge its authority.

Southern Bangladesh is also a hotspot for the regional methamphetamine trade originating in Myanmar, and Rohingya are often recruited as drug couriers for the influential local kingpins who control distribution networks.

The trade predates the 2017 Rohingya influx, but refugees say they have been largely blamed for the spread of drugs in Bangladesh, and condemned as criminals regardless of their involvement.

"Out of a million people, there are a handful of bad apples, but that doesn't justify calling the entire refugee community criminal," Rohingya refugee Abdul Mannan told AFP.

"It is very hurtful how we are being portrayed."

This year, a stuttering economy has saddled Bangladeshis with rising food prices and lengthy nationwide blackouts that have occasionally sparked violent protests.

Bangladesh also suffered its worst flooding in living memory during the latest monsoon, with millions of homes inundated and numerous villages cut off from the rest of the country.

The resulting hardships have helped erode the charitable sentiment that once compelled Bangladeshis to flock to the camps and offer help to refugees.

Source: Times Of India

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Pakistan, Iran Vow Joint Efforts on Peace in Afghanistan

By Arif Ahmadi

20 Oct 2022

KABUL, Afghanistan – Pakistan’s special envoy for Afghanistan on a trip to Iran talked about the current situation with Iranian officials, according to sources, pledging a joint effort on peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Mohammad Sadiq Khan, the Pakistani Prime Minister’s special envoy for Afghanistan met with Iranian Foreign Minister Amir Abdolahian, agreeing on a joint effort to use their capacity in ensuring peace in Afghanistan.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will work with all its capacities to establish peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and for the people of Afghanistan,” said Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran’s Foreign Minister.

“Pakistan and Iran have an played an important role in the past 43 years in Afghanistan, I hope they change their role to a constructive role for peace,” said Salim Paigir, political analyst, as TOLOnews quoted.

Iran’s special envoy for Afghanistan wrote in a tweet that in a meeting with his Pakistani counterpart there was a discussion about the current situation of Afghanistan and the people of Afghanistan, the stabilization process, and the fight against terrorism.

“We and our neighbors and other countries will continue efforts to fight against terrorism, improve people’s living conditions, and establish peace in Afghanistan,” said Hassan Kazemi Qomi, Iran’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, as local media quoted.

“In the current situation, these countries have no choice but to cooperate because … Western countries try to create political, economic and security instability in this area,” said Javid Sandel, an international relations analyst.

Meanwhile, the deputy spokesman of the Islamic Emirate Bilal Karimi said that Kabul urged that good relations be established with regional countries, and he said there is no security concern in Afghanistan.

“From our side, we do not have any concerns and our policy and position is that we do not want tension with any faction and we assure the regional countries that Afghanistan is not a threat to any other country,” he said.

Iran, among Russia, China, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan, have accredited the Islamic Emirate’s appointed diplomat in recent months, though all had initially refused to recognize the 13-month-old rule in Afghanistan.

Source: Khaama Press

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SIGAR: Millions of Afghan Farmers Depend on Growing Opium Poppies for Survival

By Saqalain Eqbal

20 Oct 2022

Millions of destitute Afghan farmers and laborers depend on income from the cultivation of opium poppies, according to the Office of the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), which claims that this presents the biggest obstacle to the Taliban’s narcotics prohibition.

SIGAR has issued a warning concerning the consequences of outlawing drug cultivation in Afghanistan based on reports from India, Tajikistan, and the US that drug trafficking has increased since the Taliban took power.

Millions of farmers are reportedly experiencing tough hardships without any other option to earn a living, in severe unemployment conditions, as a result of the Taliban supreme leader Mullah Hibatullah’s official order to ban the cultivation, smuggling, buying, and selling of narcotics in March of this year.

After the Taliban took control, the embargo and suspension of international aid increased dependence on opium cultivation income, according to a report by SIGAR on Wednesday, October 19, which cited the US Department of State.

Drug trafficking has reportedly increased recently, according to India, which claims that it started to rise after the previous Afghan government was ousted.

The cultivation and trafficking of drugs have nearly doubled since the Taliban took power, according to the Tajik Ministry of Interior, who made the statement at the international and regional conference on combating terrorism.

Source: Khaama Press

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Afghan Woman Dead in Border Armed Skirmish between the Taliban and Pakistan

By Saqalain Eqbal

20 Oct 2022

Pakistani border security forces and Taliban armed forces clashed along the border in the Spin Boldak border town in Kandahar province of southern Afghanistan. According to Taliban officials, a woman was killed by Pakistani border forces on the Afghan side.

According to Mawlawi Mahmood, the Taliban chief of police for the Spin Boldak district of Kandahar, the border clash was started by Pakistani forces, and the Taliban forces reacted.

The Taliban security official also added that gunfire from the Pakistani side killed a woman from the Afghan side.

During the conflict, both sides used heavy weapons, including mortars, according to a source in Spin Boldak. Other than the woman from the Afghan side, no information is available about possible casualties in this conflict.

The source claims that after Pakistani soldiers opened fire on Afghan citizens on Wednesday evening, tensions between the Taliban and Pakistani military soared.

According to the source, Pakistan’s military also launched rockets into the air last night. The source claims that Pakistani aerial fire continued this morning, and the Taliban retaliated with gunfire. He also said that Pakistani gunfire killed the woman.

At the same time, sources claim that one of the border’s sub-gates is still blocked and that Spin Boldak’s main gate was shut down for an hour.

Source: Khaama Press

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International community faces mounting pressure to declare Houthis to be terrorists


October 20, 2022

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s internationally recognized government has backed a call by Saudi Arabia for the international community to designate the Iran-backed Houthi movement as a terrorist organization, which it said should be punished for impeding peace initiatives.

The government said that since the Houthis took control of the country by force in late 2014, they have rejected all efforts to end the war in the country, including a plan proposed by Saudi Arabia last year.

This month, the group refused to renew a UN-brokered truce that had been in place for six months. They have planted thousands of landmines, ruthlessly suppress residents of the areas under their control, and have abducted hundreds of Yemeni citizens, including women.

“The Houthi militias have caused the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, in addition to the millions of dead, injured and displaced people, and committed war crimes and egregious human rights violations. They should be swiftly classified as terrorist organizations,” the Yemeni government said in a statement carried by SABA, the official Yemen News Agency.

On Tuesday, the Saudi Cabinet reiterated its support for the efforts of the international community to bring peace to Yemen and urged the world to designate the Houthis as a terrorist organization and take action to cut off its sources of funding.

In Yemen, government officials and others who support of the call for a terrorist designation argue that the international community, having exhausted all other options in the efforts to persuade the Houthis to embrace peace, should be more aware than ever of the true nature of the group as a result of their refusal to renew the truce.

The potential effects such a designation would have on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and the distribution of aid is the only thing preventing the world from designating the Houthis as terrorists, they said.

Najeeb Ghallab, an undersecretary in Yemen’s Information Ministry, told Arab News that the international community, and the UN in particular, should strive to use the terrorist designation to motivate the Houthis to actively engage and comply with efforts to end the conflict.

“To convince the Houthis to accept peace, the international community must exert significant pressure — and designation will be a powerful instrument for pressure,” he said.

As long as the Houthis continue to refuse to accept peace proposals and work toward ending the conflict, the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen will only get worse, Ghallab added.

“Weakening and pushing this movement to embrace peace will help to alleviate Yemen’s humanitarian situation, which the Houthis exploit and fuel,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Yemeni government joined other nations in urging the Houthis to free Yemeni employees of the US embassy and the UN who were kidnapped in Sanaa a year ago.

Yemen’s Information Minister Muammar Al-Eryani said the abductions are further proof that the Houthis are “terrorists” who disregard the diplomatic rules and norms that prevent the targeting of such employees.

“Raiding foreign embassies, detaining diplomatic mission employees and using them as instruments for blackmail are solely practices of foreign terrorists and they do not reflect the Yemeni people, who value brothers and friends,” he said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday called for the release of 12 US and UN workers who were taken from the US embassy in Sanaa, as he denounced the actions of the Houthis.

“I call on the Houthis to release these Yemeni citizens and return them to their families as a demonstration of their commitment to peace for the people of Yemen and willingness to participate in a future government that respects the rule of law,” he said.

Source: Arab News

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Hamas to strengthen ties with Syria in future to serve Palestinian cause: spokesman

20 October 2022

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas says it would continue to develop and strengthen relations with Syria in the future to serve the Palestinian cause, particularly in light of the escalating Israeli aggression and crimes.

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem made the remarks in an interview with Sawt al-Aqsa Radio on Wednesday, after a high-ranking delegation of the Gaza-based resistance movement met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.

Qassem further emphasized that the Hamas delegation’s visit to Syria, along with other Palestinian factions, was aimed at restoring relations with the Arab country.

He also noted that Hamas is determined to build solid relations with neighboring countries in order to gain support for the resistance and the liberation of Palestine.

The Hamas official further stated that the meeting participants came to the conclusion that it was time to put aside their differences and strengthen ties with Syria to serve the Palestinian people and their just cause. 

On Wednesday, a delegation of Hamas met with Assad in Damascus in the first such visit in more than a decade as the two sides seek to revitalize their ties. Hamas officials were part of a broader delegation that included several Palestinian factions.

After the meeting, the deputy chief of the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip, Khalil al-Hayya, who headed the delegation, said Assad was “keen on Syria’s support to the Palestinian resistance” and hailed it as a “glorious day.”

The visit came after non-public negotiations between Hamas and the Syrian leadership were mediated by the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah, in which the attendees discussed the disagreements that led to a decade-long rupture in ties.

Back in September, Hamas announced in a statement that it would restore its relations with Syria, which "has been supporting the Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance factions for decades."

Relations between Hamas and the Syrian government were downgraded in 2011 following the outbreak of foreign-sponsored conflict in the Arab country.

Hamas vacated its headquarters in Damascus the following year and moved it to the Qatari capital city of Doha.

Back in June, Hayya confirmed to the Lebanese al-Akhbar newspaper that a decision had been taken to “restore the relationship with Damascus” after “an internal and external discussion” involving leaders, cadres, influencers, “and even detainees inside Israeli prisons.”

Source: Press TV

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Iran Slaps Sanctions on British Officials, Institutions over Terrorism, Human Rights Abuse


In a statement on Wednesday, Iran's Foreign Ministry announced the embargoes as a "tit for tat" move against the sanctions that have been imposed by some European countries on Iran.

It added the sanctions include a ban on issuing visas for the persons and on their entry into Iran, the seizure of their property and assets in territories under the Islamic Republic of Iran’s jurisdiction among others.

The sanctions are imposed on the British entities "due to their intentional actions in supporting terrorism and terrorist groups, promoting and inciting terrorism, violence, and hatred, and violating human rights", the statement read.

The measures by the listed entities have led to "riots, violence, and terrorist acts" against the Iranian nation, the foreign ministry noted.

Reminding the British government of its international commitments to confront terrorism, hatred and, rights abuse, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said that failing to confront the actions of the named entities or facilitating their measures amount to a gross violation of the UK’s commitments in the international arena.

The sanctioned entities include Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Volant Media UK Ltd, Global Media Group, DMA Media, BBC Persian and Iran International TV networks.

The individuals, subject to Iran’s sanctions, are Minister of State for Security of the United Kingdom Tom Tugendhat, Royal Navy Commodore Don Mackinnon, Parliamentary Chair of Labour Friends of Israel Steve McCabe, Member of Parliament Stephen Crabb, Member of the House of Lords Stuart Polak, Lawmakers Bob Blackman and Theresa Cilliers, politician Anthea McIntyre, and General Mark Carleton-Smith who served as the Chief of the General Staff when anti-terror icon, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, was assassinated by the US in Iraq in January 2020.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry also noted that it holds the UK government to account for supporting terrorists and human rights violators who are "organizing and inciting riots and terrorist acts" in Iran from UK soil.

Tehran's decision came just days after EU foreign ministers decided on Monday to levy sanctions against 11 Iranian individuals and four entities over the country's response to the recent unrest that followed the death of a young Iranian woman in police custody.

Protests erupted in several cities across Iran over the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman who fainted at a police station in mid-September and days later was pronounced dead at a hospital. The demonstrations soon turned violent. A special committee has been established to investigate different aspects of her tragic death.

Iranian officials blame Western countries for orchestrating the riots to destabilize the country.

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei severely censured the deadly riots, saying they were orchestrated in advance by the United States and the Israeli regime.

“I state it clearly that these developments were planned by America, the Zionist regime and their acolytes. Their main problem is with a strong and independent Iran and the country’s progress. The Iranian nation proved to be fairly strong during recent events and will bravely come onto the scene wherever necessary in the future,” he added.

In recent days, Iranian officials have blamed the United States, the European Unions, and several Western states for meddling in Iran's internal affairs over the death of Mahsa. They advised the US and its allies against "opportunism and instrumentalization of the issue of human rights" by misusing the incident.

Source: Fars News Agency

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AEOI Chief Lauds Remarkable Progress in Iranian Nuclear Industry


Eslami stated during a ceremony on Wednesday that the development of peaceful nuclear industry had been put on the agenda of the AEOI and there was increasing progress in the usage of nuclear-related technologies.

The nuclear chief added a gamma radiation device that was unveiled in the ceremony would help increase food safety in Iran.

“Today, in the world, the volume of trade in the radiation industry is reported to be at 500 billion dollars; in simpler words, it spans a wide range of economic, livelihood, and health sectors. Furthermore, according to our beliefs, using this device can prevent waste and refuse of agricultural material and products,” he noted.

Eslami said that the development of the nuclear industry was “a dire necessity for the people and society to increase food safety in the country".

"The development of Iran’s nuclear industry is picking up increasing momentum," the official added.

Back in October, Eslami blasted the Western countries' efforts to impede Iran's acquisition and development of new technologies.

Eslami said that there is a firm determination to prevent Tehran from gaining access to new technologies, criticizing big powers for their opposition in this regard.

"Efforts have been underway by certain countries since the 1979 Islamic Revolution to halt Iran’s technological progress, especially nuclear industry, by leveling baseless accusations against the Islamic Republic," the official noted.

“No matter what language or school of thought you use in talks with the other sides, you can tell from their intentions and from what they write and say that they are firmly resolved to prevent us from developing advanced technologies,” the AEOI head added.

“If you be pioneer in science and technology, you will surely be among the powerful countries and this is something that the foes don’t tolerate the powerfulness of Iran,” the nuclear chief remarked.

Eslami said the opponents “constantly beat the drums of sanctions and pressure” on Iran.

He added, “Today power is not having natural reserves, rather power emanates from advanced science and technology and this a determining factor… and pioneering in these fields are a symbol of power.”

Source: Fars News Agency

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Palestinians say one killed during Israeli army raid in West Bank

21 October, 2022

A Palestinian was killed overnight in clashes with the Israeli army during an operation in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, the Palestinian health ministry said Friday.

Salah al-Buraiki, 19, died after being shot in the neck, the ministry said in a statement.

The Israeli army said that during the Jenin operation, “suspects hurled explosive devices and fired shots at the security forces, who responded with live fire. Hits were identified.”

Forces also “apprehended one wanted individual suspected of involvement in terrorist activity”, the army statement added.

A day earlier, shops, offices and schools were closed across the occupied West Bank as Palestinians went on strike to protest Israel's killing of a man suspected of a deadly attack against Israeli forces.

Udai Tamimi, who had been on the run since the fatal shooting this month of military policewoman Noa Lazar at a checkpoint in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, was killed late Wednesday after he fired at Israelis on the edge of a settlement.

Violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has surged in recent months, amid near daily West Bank raids by Israeli forces and an uptick in attacks on troops.

More than 100 Palestinian fighters and civilians have been killed since the start of the year, the heaviest toll in the West Bank for nearly seven years, according to the United Nations.

The expansion of military operations in Jenin and elsewhere in the West Bank followed deadly attacks on Israelis earlier this year.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War.

Around 475,000 Israelis now live in settlements across the territory, which are considered illegal by most of the international community.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Turkey denies it uses chemical weapons against Kurdish militants

20 October, 2022

Turkey on Thursday blasted as “completely unfounded and untrue” claims that its military used chemical weapons in its fight against outlawed Kurdish militants in northern Iraq.

Media outlets close to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara and its Western allies list as a terror group, claimed that the Turkish army was using chemical weapons in its counter-terror operations.

“The allegations that ‘chemical weapons’ are used by the Turkish Armed Forces... are completely unfounded and untrue,” the defense ministry said, accusing some of seeking to cast a shadow on the army's accomplishments in its fight against the PKK.

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin slammed the claims as a “lie” and part of a “slander campaign” aimed at the military, police and intelligence who crack down on the fighters.

“The lie of chemical weapons is the futile attempt of those who seek to whitewash and aestheticize terrorism,” Kalin tweeted.

Turkish prosecutors launched an investigation into Sebnem Korur Fincanci, head of the Turkish Doctors’ Union, after she said she had examined video images and claimed that chemical weapons had been used.

“It’s obvious that one of the toxic chemical gases that directly affects the nervous system has been used,” she claimed.

“Although it is forbidden to use it, we see it is used in clashes.”

Fincanci is accused of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “insulting the Turkish nation and the Turkish state,” the official Anadolu news agency reported.

Contacted by AFP, Fincanci confirmed the opening of a probe and said she had called for “an effective investigation” into the allegations.

“But instead (prosecutors) launch an investigation against me. This is not surprising at all,” she said.

“They are giving an ultimatum to society by targeting me,” she added.

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), a non-partisan federation of medical groups in over 60 countries, sent a mission to northern Iraq in late September.

“Some indirect evidence for possible violations of the Chemical Weapons Convention was found,” it said in its report.

“Material found near an area abandoned by the Turkish Army included containers for hydrochloric acid and bleach, which could be used to produce chlorine, a classical chemical warfare agent,” according to the report.

The PKK has kept up a deadly insurgency for Kurdish self-rule in southeastern Turkey since 1984.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Austrian citizen arrested in Iran, foreign ministry confirms

20 October, 2022

An Austrian has been arrested in Iran though his detention is unrelated to a wave of protests that have rocked the Islamic republic, Austria’s foreign ministry said on Thursday.

“The Iranian authorities have confirmed the arrest of an Austrian citizen,” the ministry said in a statement, urging Tehran to “clarify the circumstances of his arrest.”

According to the Iranian authorities, he is charged with a crime unrelated to the demonstrations that have continued since Mahsa Amini’s death,” it added.

The ministry added it would make “full use” of its consular rights to support the man.

Iran is facing growing pressure over its crackdown on the most widespread protests in years, which were sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old detained by the clerical state’s notorious “morality police.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Palestinians strike after Israel kills suspected attacker

20 October, 2022

Shops, offices and schools were closed across the occupied West Bank on Thursday as Palestinians went on strike to protest Israel’s killing of a man suspected of a deadly attack against Israeli forces.

Udai Tamimi, who had been on the run since the fatal shooting this month of military policewoman Noa Lazar at a checkpoint in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, was killed late Wednesday after he fired at Israelis on the edge of a settlement.

With the West Bank largely shut down, the Palestinian health ministry also confirmed that Mohammad Fadi Nuri, 16, died from a gunshot wound sustained during clashes with Israeli forces near Ramallah last month.

Omar Abed al-Latif Omar, a resident of the West Bank city of Tulkarem, told AFP the strike was intended as “a message” of solidarity with Tamimi.

AFP journalists also saw shuttered shops in the West Bank cities of Bethlehem and Nablus, as well as Jerusalem’s Old City.

Violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has surged in recent months, amid near daily West Bank raids by Israeli forces and an uptick in attacks on troops.

More than 100 Palestinian fighters and civilians have been killed since the start of the year, the heaviest toll in the West Bank for nearly seven years, according to the United Nations.

Tamimi was killed by a security guard after wounding another when he fired at the entrance to Maale Adumim, one of the largest Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Israeli police said.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid praised the security forces “for neutralizing the terrorist” blamed for killing 18-year-old Lazar at the entrance to Jerusalem’s Shuafat refugee camp.

The 10-day pursuit of Tamimi had resulted in closures affecting schools, health centers and other services in the camp that is home to thousands, and clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Deadly fire at Iran’s Evin prison erupted as police clashed with inmates, sources say

20 October, 2022

Two days before a fire ripped through a section of Iran’s Evin prison and killed at least eight people, a riot police unit arrived at the compound and began to patrol the corridors, shouting “God is Greatest” and banging batons on cell doors, six sources told Reuters.

The patrols at the Tehran jail began without any apparent provocation by inmates, the sources said. These patrols continued from Thursday to Saturday, when some prisoners reacted by shouting for the downfall of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, echoing protests raging across Iran since September.

“Then we heard shots and chants of ‘Death to Khamenei’ by prisoners in other wards,” said an inmate inside ward 8, which holds mostly prisoners convicted of financial crimes.

The prisoner, who was giving his account for the first time, spoke to Reuters on condition he was not named and that no mention was made of the method of communication.

The bloody crackdown by the police and the deadly fire on the evening of October 15, whose origins are disputed, have shaken a society already on edge after a month of violence involving security forces and anti-government protesters.

Reuters interviews with the ward 8 prisoner, as well as a relative of an inmate and four rights activists with contacts at the prison suggest the inmates’ anti-government chants were a reaction to the police patrols and that police then responded forcefully to suppress them.

The prisoner and other sources spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity due to concern for their safety.

Reuters was unable to determine why riot police were sent to the jail, what the government’s motives were for the crackdown and how the fire started. But it adds to a growing sense of the authorities’ determination to crush dissent and avoid losing control of Evin or other places that have been central to the Islamic Republic’s grip on society, four rights activists said.

Wave of unrest

The prison, in Tehran’s Evin neighborhood, has been the main site for holding prominent Iranian political prisoners, even before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, as well as foreigners and dual nationals. It also holds inmates convicted of ordinary crimes and is now receiving a stream of dissidents arrested in the continuing wave of unrest sweeping the country, Iranian authorities, prisoners families and lawyers say.

The prison is known as “Evin University” because of the many anti-government intellectuals and academics held there.

Eight prisoners died of smoke inhalation as a result of the fire, the judiciary said. Inmates and rights activists interviewed by Reuters feared more lives were lost. The assessment was based on the dozens of injured, many severely so, seen by the inmate and those prisoners in contact with the activists interviewed by Reuters.

Reuters sought comment from prison officials, the Interior Ministry and officials at the judiciary via telephone and by sending written text messages with questions regarding key points, including the account by sources about the deployment of riot police on October 13. They have not responded.

But one Iranian official, who was reached by telephone but declined to be identified by name or the institution he worked for, said he did not know why the riot police were sent to the prison and expressed surprise the authorities seemed to have lost control of the facility for a time on Saturday evening.

One anti-government activist, speaking on condition of anonymity due to concerns for his security, told Reuters the government may have planned the prison crackdown in order to demonstrate to protesters the harsh form of detention that await them at Evin if they keep challenging the government.

‘Like a war zone’

Amnesty International said it had evidence, which it did not disclose, that the authorities sought to justify their bloody crackdown under the guise of battling the fire and preventing prisoner escapes.

The group also said prison officials and riot police repeatedly subjected many prisoners to brutal beatings with batons, particularly on their heads and faces.

The country was already tense on the evening of October 15, when videos on social media showed a fire and plumes of smoke rising from the prison as gunshots rang out, and objects were seen being thrown into the complex.

Around the country, security forces were struggling to contain nationwide demonstrations triggered by the death last month of 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini while in the custody of Iran’s morality police.

On the night of the fire, state media reported that a group of prisoners were trying to escape, and had stepped on a minefield outside the complex.

This version was denied on Sunday by the judiciary, which said a prison workshop had been set on fire at mid-evening on Saturday “after a fight among a number of prisoners.”

The prisoner and activists said no inmates could have been at the workshop in mid-evening, because they would have been locked in at that time. Evin’s cells are shut between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., depending on prayer time.

Reuters could not independently determine what triggered the blaze.

‘Everyone was scared’

Tensions rose when inmates, provoked by the riot police chanting religious slogans and hammering batons on cell doors, responded with “Death to Khamenei.” Then, at about 8 p.m., shots were fired by the riot police, sources said.

“When we heard shots and chants, we tried to break the door and get to the corridor to help other prisoners from ward 7 who broke the door and were clashing with the riot police and prison guards in the corridor. Everyone was scared,” said the inmate.

Ward 7 holds prisoners convicted of general crimes and political prisoners, and is in the same building housing ward 8. Riot police and prison guards fired teargas and metal pellets at hundreds of prisoners and beat people with batons, according to Reuters interviews with the prisoner, the relative of an inmate and activists with contacts at the prison.

“They opened the door of our ward [8] and were shooting at us with pellet guns. Fired tear gas. Dozens, dozens of them were there. Many people in our ward were injured and could not breathe,” said the prisoner.

“We could hear gunshots, prisoners were screaming, guards were shouting, they opened the door and threw so much tear gas inside and used pellet guns. Many inmates fainted, dozens were injured. It was like a war zone,” he added.

Human rights activist Atena Daemi, who was jailed in Evin for five and a half years and was released nine months ago, has kept in contact with detainees there.

“Prisoners from ward 7 tried to break the door of ward 8 to let them out too. It is when the forces started shooting at the prisoners around 20:30 with live ammunition,” she said.

Neither state media nor the judiciary have disclosed the methods police used to retake control at Evin.

Mehdi Rafsanjani, the son of a former president, who is serving a 10-year sentence for financial corruption in Evin and normally has a weekly furlough Wednesday-to-Friday, was told on Wednesday October 12 he should return to the prison only after Saturday, his brother Yasser Hashemi Rafsanjani said on a social media platform.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Palestinian killed in clashes with Israeli army in West Bank: Palestinian ministry

October 21, 2022

RAMALLAH: One Palestinian was killed on Friday by Israeli troops conducting an overnight raid in the occupied West Bank, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

Clashes broke out in the town of Jenin during the Israeli raid, according to witnesses.

The Israeli military said troops were there to arrest a militant suspect when the violence erupted.

“Suspects hurled explosive devices and fired shots at the security forces, who responded with live fire. Hits were identified,” the military said. It did not elaborate.

Source: Arab News

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Court orders medical examination of converted Hindu girl to verify age

October 21, 2022

HYDERABAD: A local magistrate on Thursday handed over custody of a Hindu girl, who had converted to Islam and married of her own free will, to in-charge of safe house and ordered the girl’s medical examination to ascertain her age after her mother claimed she was underage.

The girl, Ms Chanda alias Iqra who was produced in the court of civil judge and judicial magistrate-VI after she was reportedly recovered from Karachi insisted she was 19 years of age.

According to Senior Superintendent of Police Amjad Ahmed Shaikh, SITE police found Ms Chanda in Gulshan-i-Hadeed, Karachi, on Wednesday as her mother had lodged and FIR that one Shaman Magsi had kidnapped her daughter.

SITE police produced her in the court the same day but the judicial magistrate had directed to produce her again on Thursday to get the girl’s statement recorded under section 164 Cr.PC.

According to the judge’s order, the girl said that she was 19 years of age and had converted to Islam. She had married Shaman Ali Magsi of her own free will, she said.

The girl’s mother, Ms Amri, who was complainant in the FIR, told the court through her counsels, Bhagwan Das Bheel and Rehana Gujjar, that Chanda was underage and could not enter into nikah of her own free will.

The court noted in the order that no relevant record had been produced by the complainant to substantiate the girl’s claim about her age. The investigating officer of the case submitted to the court sanad-i-Islam, nikah nama, iqrar nama and her free will which revealed that she had converted to Islam and married Shaman Ali Magsi. However, the IO did not produce any record on the girl’s age.

The court, therefore, ordered medical examination in order to ascertain the girl’s age and handed over her custody to the safe house under supervision of the in-charge Ms Resham Thebo.

Ms Amri had claimed in the FIR that Chanda was kidnapped by Magsi on Aug 12 when she was returning home near Nara prison along with her sister.

According to her mother, Chanda and her sister used work in a factory near Fateh Chowk. Police lodged the FIR on Sept 17 only after she obtained an order from the court.

Source: Dawn

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Police chief denies presence of terrorists in Swat

Fazal Khaliq

October 21, 2022

SWAT: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Inspector General of Police Moazzam Jah Ansari said here on Thursday that there were no terrorists in Swat and situation in the district was completely under control.

Addressing a press conference at the office of regional police officer, he said that at least 18 checkposts were being established on the mountains to monitor the movement of suspected elements entering Swat from outside.

The IGP said that situation in Swat was completely peaceful and under control. He added that the morale of police was high and they were ready to tackle any untoward situation in the district.

Senior officials including Malakand Deputy Inspector General of Police Zeeshan Asghar, Commissioner Shaukat Ali Yousafzai and District Police Officer Zahid Nawaz Marwat were also present during the press conference.

Terms attack on school van result of family dispute

“For the past few months, the people of Swat have been in a state of chaos and insecurity due to continuous incidents, leading to ongoing protests. In the protests, the people of Swat demanded peace and security,” said Mr Ansari.

He said that after protests were staged by people, Peshawar corps commander visited Swat and talked to the elders at a jirga. He said that chief secretary also met the elders of Malakand division to discuss the issue with them.

The IGP denied presence of terrorists in Swat and said that police were establishing at least 18 checkposts on the mountains to monitor the movement of suspected elements entering the district from outside.

He claimed that the attack on the school van in Gulibagh area on October 10 was not an incident of terrorism rather result of a domestic dispute.

On October 10, two armed men on a motorcycle opened fire on a school van in Gulibagh area of Charbagh tehsil, killing its driver Hussain Ahmad and injuring two schoolchildren.

The incident sparked anger among the people of Swat and other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Political activists, members of civil society, teachers and students took to streets against the incident and demanded of the law enforcement agencies to trace the attackers.

“Since the people of Swat have witnessed a lot of difficult and harsh times due to the wave of terrorism in 2007, they could not bear the recent incidents. They were not ready to witness situation like 2007 and 2008 again, so they took to streets against the attack,” said the IGP.

He said that after Swat police, Counter-Terrorism Department conducted a thorough investigation into the incident. He said that the probe was completely supported by Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and the office of inspector general of police.

“I am proud that police and CTD took the case seriously and conducted a scientific investigation into it. Evidence and investigation proved that it was not a terrorist attack but result of a domestic dispute between the relatives related to issue of honour,” he said, adding that the driver of the van was allegedly killed by his brother-in-law.

Source: Dawn

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US Senate sees nothing wrong in F-16 deal with Pakistan

Anwar Iqbal

October 21, 2022

WASHINGTON: The US State Department said on Thursday that the F-16 programme was an important part of the broader United States-Pakistan bilateral relationship, as the US Senate did not object to the proposed $450 million deal with Islamabad.

“The proposed sale will sustain Pakistan’s capability to meet current and future counterterrorism threats by maintaining its F-16 fleet,” a State Department official told Dawn. The proposed sale would also “ensure Pakistan retains interoperability with the US and partner forces in ongoing counterterrorism efforts and in preparation for future contingency operations,” the US official added.

The international media reported on Wednesday that the United States was all set to provide $450 million F-16 sustainment package to Pakistan as “there has been no objection to the deal from the Senate within the mandatory 30-day notice period”.

On Sept 7, the State Department notified the US Congress — through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — about the Biden Administration’s decision to offer this deal to Pakistan under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme.

“Upon such notification, the Congress has 30 calendar days during which the sale may be reviewed,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator Robert Menendez told the Senate days later on Sept 13.

Diplomatic sources in Washington told Dawn that Congress “does not need to take action to positively approve” a proposed deal. After the completion of the mandatory 30-day period, the deal would be considered approved, the sources said.

Source: Dawn

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Pakistan SC rejects govt's request to stop ex-PM Imran Khan's planned protest

Oct 20, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Supreme Court on Thursday refused to get involved in the political wrangling as it rejected a plea from the government to issue directives against a planned anti-government protest by ex-premier Imran Khan.

The apex court, however, gave the government a “free hand” to control the law and order situation and warned that it would intervene if any party violated court orders.

The federal government approached the Supreme Court last week for initiating the contempt of court proceedings against Khan for violating the court's May 25 order regarding his party's “Azadi March”.

The government in the same plea had sought a restraining order against Khan from creating a law and order situation through an intended protest march when the country was grappling with the fallout of devastating flash floods.

A five-judge Supreme Court bench headed by chief justice Umar Ata Bandial heard the petition.

Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Ashtar Ausaf on behalf of the federal government told the court that Khan had given a commitment to the court on the eve of his protest on May 25 that his followers would not mob the D-Chowk if allowed to enter the capital.

But not only he incited his followers to invade the place in front of Parliament, but also acts of vandalism were witnessed.

“[Party] workers came towards the Red Zone where there were clashes with law enforcement agencies. Protesters damaged public and private properties,” Ausaf said.

He urged that court issue an interim order against any more such protests.

“Imran is calling the attack on Islamabad a jihad. He is inciting people through his speeches…It is the state's responsibility to protect citizens' fundamental rights,” he told the court.

The court refused to issue any order regarding the planned protest which had not taken place as yet.

“You should request [the court] to stop the crowd when people gather. There is no crowd right now,” the chief justice observed.

But it allowed the government to take steps if the authority of the state was challenged.

“According to you, the court order had already been violated (during the May 25 protest). You were the executive authority and following the court order. In the present situation, you have the liberty to take preventative measures,” Chief Justice Bandial stated.

“You are telling us [the PTI] has planned a march and sit-in again. You can deal with the situation in accordance with the law,” he said.

The court adjourned the hearing till October 26 but the chief justice gave the government a “free hand” to maintain the law and order.

He also remarked that the government may approach the court at any time in case of new development.

The case followed some recent statements by Khan that he would at any time this month give a call for a protest march to force the government to announce snap polls.

Khan, 70, has warned that he will march towards Islamabad by the end of this month if the government fails to take a decision on announcing the date for the general elections.

The current term of the National Assembly will end in August 2023.

Khan told reporters that cases were lodged against him because the government was trying its best to disqualify him.

The cricketer-turned-politician was ousted from power in April after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan.

Source: Times Of India

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Marriyum in Turkiye to represent Pakistan at 12th OIC info ministers conference

October 20, 2022

ISTANBUL: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb has arrived in Turkiye to participate in the 12th Conference of the Information Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) being held here on October 21-22.

Marriyum will represent Pakistan at the conference which will be focusing on the OIC’s role in different areas of information sector, said a news release on Thursday.

Secretary General of the OIC Hissein Brahim Taha will address the inaugural session of the conference titled “Combating Disinformation and Islamophobia in the Post-Truth Era”.

The information ministers of OIC member countries will highlight the problems faced by the organization’s African member countries, and especially discuss the ways to mobilize the media regarding the issues of Al-Quds Sharif and Palestine.

The conference will also discuss role of the OIC in combating Islamophobia and promoting correct image of Islam.

Source: Pakistan Today

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ECP set to announce verdict on Toshakhana reference against Imran today

Fahad Chaudhry

October 21, 2022

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is set to announce its verdict on the Toshakhana disqualification reference against former prime minister and PTI chief Imran Khan today (Friday), over a month after it was reserved.

Strict security measures were in place at the ECP ahead of the ruling.

According to a notice issued by the ECP on Thursday, the verdict is expected at 2pm, and the ECP has directed all relevant parties or their counsels to appear before it at its secretariat in Islamabad.

The reference was filed in August against Imran by the coalition government, for “not sharing details” of Toshakhana gifts and proceeds from their alleged sale. Lawmakers from the Pakistan Democratic Movement — the ruling alliance — had submitted the reference to National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, who had subsequently forwarded it to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja for further action.

Established in 1974, the Tosha­khana is a department under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division and stores precious gifts given to rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats, and officials by heads of other governments and states and foreign dignitaries.

According to Toshakhana rules, gifts/presents and other such materials received by persons to whom these rules apply shall be reported to the Cabinet Division.

However, the PTI, while in government, had been reluctant to disclose details of the gifts presented to Imran since he assumed office in 2018, maintaining that doing so would jeopardise international ties, even as the Pakistan Infor­mation Commission (PIC) ordered it to do so.

But later, in a written reply submitted to the ECP on September 8, Imran had admitted to selling at least four presents he had received during his tenure as the prime minister.

The former premier, in his reply, had maintained that the sale of the gifts that he had procured from the state treasury after paying Rs21.56 million fetched about Rs58m. One of the gifts included a graff wristwatch, a pair of cuff links, an expensive pen and a ring while the other three gifts included four Rolex watches.

Security arrangements

Strict security measures were in place at the ECP’s office ahead of the ruling on Friday, with police, Rangers and Frontier Corps personnel deployed on site in large numbers.

Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Irfan Nawaz Memon also visited the office to review security arrangements.

On Thursday, the ECP sent a letter to Islamabad police, requesting “foolproof security” inside and outside the watchdog’s premises for the full day in order to “avoid any untoward incident”. The letter also requested that two security personnel in civil dress and a traffic warden be provided as well.

The ECP stressed that all necessary security arrangements be completed, particularly inside the ECP secretariat’s building, and the matter was treated as “most urgent”.

PTI criticises ECP ahead of ruling

Ahead of the verdict, PTI leaders intensified their criticism of the ECP, repeating their allegations of the electoral watchdog being partial against them.

PTI leader Shireen Mazari alleged in a tweet on Friday that the reference was all about “political vendetta by [the] biased ECP, led by [a] quisling CEC.

“What [the] ECP should be pursuing is Toshakhana cars Asif Zardari and absconder Nawaz Sharif whisked away!”

Similarly, PTI leader Maleeka Bokhari tweeted: “A biased ECP will today announce verdict in [the] Toshakhana case. A politically motivated case is being pursued whilst corrupt politicians including Nawaz and Zardari have been granted NRO-2.”

Meanwhile, a hashtag in Urdu, translating to “Imran Khan our red line” was the top trend on Twitter in Pakistan on Friday morning, with PTI leaders and followers expressing their support for the former prime minister.

In an apparent reference to the day’s developments, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry tweeted: “Islamabad is currently presenting the image of a fort that is under siege by a large army. This is just the start of the war and they are already worried? When millions of people will surround [you], no escape route will be left. Don’t take matters to the point of no return.”

The reference

The reference against Imran was filed by MNA Barrister Mohsin Nawaz Ranjha carrying signatures of lawmakers Agha Hassan Baloch, Salahudeen Ayubi, Ali Gohar Khan, Syed Rafiullah Agha and Saad Waseem Sheikh and it was subsequently forwarded to CEC Raja.

The ruling PML-N is confident Imran is going to be disqualified in the reference as they say he has not declared in his assets the amount he received from the alleged sale of state gifts.

In their disqualification reference, MNAs from the ruling alliance included documentary evidence to corroborate their claims against the ex-premier and sought his disqualification under Sections 2 and 3 of Article 63 of the Constitution, read with Article 62(1)(f).

Article 62(1)(f) says: “A person shall not be qualified to be elected or chosen as a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) unless […] he is sagacious, righteous and non-profligate, honest and ameen, there being no declaration to the contrary by a court of law.”

Article 63(2) says: “If any question arises whether a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) has become disqualified from being a member, the Speaker or, as the case may be, the Chairman shall, unless he decides that no such question has arisen, refer the question to the Election Commission within thirty days and should he fail to do so within the aforesaid period it shall be deemed to have been referred to the Election Commission.”

While, Article 63(3) reads: “The Election Commission shall decide the question within ninety days from its receipt or deemed to have been received and if it is of the opinion that the member has become disqualified, he shall cease to be a member and his seat shall become vacant.”

The Toshakhana case

Last year, the PIC had accepted an application by Islamabad-based journalist Rana Abrar Khalid and directed the Cabinet Division to “provide the requested information about the gifts received by [then] prime minister Imran from foreign head of states, head of governments and other foreign dignitaries … description/specification of each gift, information about the gifts retained by the PM and the Rules under which gifts thus received are retained by him”.

The Cabinet Division was told to share the required information within 10 working days and upload it on the official website as well.

Subsequently, the Cabinet Division had challenged the PIC order in the Islamabad High Court (IHC), claiming that it was “illegal, without lawful authority”. The then-government took the stance that the dis­closure of any information rela­ted to Toshakhana jeopardises international ties.

Source: Dawn

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Pakistan values Emirate’s role in global, regional affairs: COAS

October 21, 2022

RAWALPINDI: Ambassador of United Arab Emirates (UAE) Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Salem Alzaabi called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa at General Headquarters on Thursday, informed ISPR.

According to an ISPR press communiqué, during the meeting between the UAE ambassador and COAS, matters of mutual interest, bilateral defence and security cooperation and regional security situation came under discussion.

The COAS said Pakistan values Emirate’s role in global and regional affairs and “we look forward to enhance our bilateral relationship”. Both sides agreed to further enhance cordial relations and enduring strategic partnership.

The visiting dignitary expressed grief over the devastation caused by floods in Pakistan, offered sincere condolence to the families of the victims and hoped for early rehabilitation of affectees.

General Bajwa appreciated phenomenal support provided by the UAE Government for the flood affectees. He also appreciated Pakistan’s efforts for regional stability and pledged to play his role for further improvement in diplomatic cooperation with Pakistan at all levels.


Meanwhile, Mr Charles Joseph M Delogne, Belgian Ambassador to Pakistan called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa at GHQ.

The ISPR release said, during the meeting, matters of mutual interest, regional security situation and enhanced bilateral & defence cooperation were discussed.

The visiting dignitary expressed his grief over the devastation caused by floods in Pakistan and offered sincere condolence for the families of the victims.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Arab World


Syrian government retaliates for killing of soldiers by Islamic State

Khaled al-Khateb

October 20, 2022

ALEPPO, Syria — At least 18 Syrian soldiers were killed in an IED explosion targeting a military bus in the suburb of al-Saboura in the countryside of the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Oct. 13. The state-run Syrian news agency, SANA, quoted an unnamed military source as saying that a bus carrying military troops was hit on the morning of Oct. 13 in a “terrorist attack” that left 18 soldiers dead and 27 others wounded.

On the same day, Imad Nuseirat, a journalist for the Syrian government’s Tishreen newspaper, published a picture of the explosion site in al-Saboura suburb.

No party has claimed responsibility for the attack as of yet.

A military source close to the Syrian government forces who is based in Damascus’ countryside told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “The targeted bus belongs to the Fourth Armored Division led by Maher al-Assad, the brother of President Bashar al-Assad.”

The source added, “Al-Saboura suburb has served as the stronghold of the Fourth Armored Division for many years. The area has not witnessed any military operations since 2011.”

“It is a secured zone with the exception of some sporadic explosions targeting the Fourth Armored Division on the roads inside the area,” the source said.

The attack coincided with the escalating attacks by the Islamic State (IS) since the beginning of 2022 in the countryside of Damascus, namely in al-Kiswah area.

In May, IS announced that it was responsible for the bombings that struck al-Dirkhbyeh area in al-Kiswah countryside, south of Damascus, which left several people dead and others wounded.

The Syrian government and Russia are pointing the finger at IS for the attack on the Fourth Armored Division’s military bus.

On Oct. 17, Russia’s state news agency TASS quoted Russian Maj. Gen. Oleg Yegorov as saying during a press conference that Russian and Syrian forces killed 20 militants in a security operation in southern Syria targeting those accused of carrying out the bombing of the military bus.

Abu Muhammad al-Hourani, a spokesman for the Horan Free League (a local network that transmits news in southern Syria) who is based in Daraa province in southern Syria, told Al-Monitor, “IS has not yet claimed responsibility for the bombing of the Fourth Armored Division bus.”

"The operations against IS cells in the city of Jasim in the Daraa countryside are ongoing and have left a large number of dead among the organization’s ranks,” the spokesman said.

“No Russian or Syrian regime forces participated in the operations against IS, contrary to Russia’s and the regime's allegations. The security operations against IS cells were launched by former fighters in the Free Syrian Army (FSA) from Jasim, in addition to groups from the Russian-backed Eighth Brigade,” Hourani added.

A military official in the Eighth Brigade in Daraa — which includes former fighters of the FSA who had agreed to the reconciliation deals reached with the Syrian government in southern Syria — told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that the decision to send military reinforcements to Jasim is not linked to an order from the Syrian government or the Russian forces leadership in Syria.

Source: Al Monitor

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Syrian Kurds to hand over ISIS-linked Russian children

20 October, 2022

Kurdish authorities in northeastern Syria are to hand over around 40 Russian children, who are relatives of suspected ISIS group members, for repatriation Thursday, a Kurdish official said.

“Today (Thursday), around 40 Russian children will be transferred to a Russian government delegation,” the official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Authorities are to hold a press conference later Thursday about the returns.

The Kurdish administration holds thousands of Syrians and foreigners with alleged ties to ISIS in its custody, after spearheading a US-backed campaign that stripped ISIS of its last territory in Syria in 2019.

Alleged foreign fighters are held in jails, while women and children with ties to the group live in camps for the displaced.

The Russian repatriations follow a similar move by France, which announced it had repatriated 40 children and 15 women from camps in Syria Thursday.

Syria’s Kurds have repeatedly urged the international community to repatriate foreign nationals held in overcrowded camps.

But their calls have largely fallen on deaf ears with only limited numbers, mostly children, allowed to return as home countries fear security threats and a domestic political backlash.

Nearly 4,500 Russians went to fight alongside ISIS, and Moscow was the first to organise returns from Syria and also Iraq.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Car bomb injures two in northern Iraq, security sources say

20 October, 2022

Two people were injured in a car bombing in the northern Iraqi city of Sulaimaniya on Thursday, police and hospital sources said, a relatively rare attack in a major city in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

Police cordoned off a street in central Sulaimaniya where the parked car bomb had exploded and “an immediate investigation has been initiated” to determine the target of the attack, said a security source.

Source: Al Arabiya

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King Abdulaziz University ranks first in Arab World as per QS World Rankings

20 October, 2022

The King Abdulaziz University has been ranked first in the Arab world in the latest QS classification index, maintaining its top position among the best Arab universities for the fourth year in a row.

QS World University Rankings are managed by the UK- based Quacquarelli Symonds, an institution specializing in higher education.

It is worth mentioning that King Abdulaziz University (KAU) was also recently ranked 101 in the world, according to Times World University Rankings 2023.

KAU ranked first in the Arab world for the 2023 edition of the QS classification, based on data compiled during the classification, which included scientific research, the international research network, academic reputation, opinions of employers, the percentage of international students and faculty members the university attracted, among others.

Dr. Musab Bin Faleh al-Harbi, the official spokesperson for KAU, confirmed that the continuous interest and support of the leadership contributed to a development renaissance in all fields, including the education sector, which is proceeding with steady steps and clear-cut goals that are consistent with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Egypt demands halt to Israeli attacks on Palestinian territories

Ibrahim El-Khazen  


Egypt demanded an immediate stop to Israeli attacks on Palestinian territories Thursday and encouraged the international community to help ease tensions.

“Egypt is following with great concern the developments of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories in a number of cities in the West Bank and the vicinity of Al-Aqsa Mosque over the past few days," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

It urged “international powers to take urgent action to calm the situation and to encourage the Israeli and Palestinian sides to resume the peace process which is suspended since 2014."

A general strike Thursday paralyzed the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, during the mourning for Uday al-Tamimi, 22, who was killed late Wednesday by Israeli forces at the entrance to the settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim, east of Jerusalem.

The Palestinian National Liberation Movement Fatah, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, called for a comprehensive strike and an escalation of confrontations at all points of contact with the Israeli army.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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General who led Syrian bombing is new face of Russian war

October 21, 2022

The general carrying out President Vladimir Putin’s new military strategy in Ukraine has a reputation for brutality — for bombing civilians in Russia’s campaign in Syria. He also played a role in the deaths of three protesters in Moscow during the failed coup against Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991 that hastened the demise of the Soviet Union.

Bald and fierce-looking, Gen. Sergei Surovikin was put in charge of Russian forces in Ukraine on Oct. 8 after what has so far been a faltering invasion that has seen a number of chaotic retreats and other setbacks over the nearly eight months of war.

Putin put the 56-year-old career military man in command following an apparent truck bombing of the strategic bridge to the Crimean Peninsula that embarrassed the Kremlin and created logistical problems for the Russian forces.

Russia responded with a barrage of strikes across Ukraine, which Putin said were aimed at knocking down energy infrastructure and Ukrainian military command centers. Such attacks have continued on a daily basis, pummeling power plants and other facilities with cruise missiles and waves of Iranian-made drones.

Surovikin also retains his job of air force chief, a position that could help coordinate the airstrikes with other operations.

During the most recent bombardments, some Russian war bloggers carried a statement attributed to Surovikin that signaled his intention to pursue the attacks with unrelenting vigor in an attempt to pound the Kyiv government into submission.

“I don’t want to sacrifice Russian soldiers’ lives in a guerrilla war against hordes of fanatics armed by NATO,” the bloggers quoted his statement as saying. “We have enough technical means to force Ukraine to surrender.”

While the veracity of the statement couldn’t be confirmed, it appears to reflect the same heavy-handed approach that Surovikin took in Syria where he oversaw the destruction of entire cities to flush out rebel resistance without paying much attention to the civilian population. That indiscriminate bombing drew condemnation from international human rights groups, and some media reports have dubbed him “General Armageddon.”

Putin awarded Surovikin the Hero of Russia medal, the country’s highest award, in 2017 and promoted him to full general.

Kremlin hawks lauded Surovikin’s appointment in Ukraine. Yevgeny Prigozhin, a millionaire businessman dubbed “Putin’s chef” who owns a prominent military contractor that plays a key role in the fighting in Ukraine, praised him as “the best commander in the Russian army.”

But even as hard-liners expected Surovikin to ramp up strikes on Ukraine, his first public statements after his appointment sounded more like a recognition of the Russian military’s vulnerabilities than blustery threats.

In remarks on Russian state television, Surovikin acknowledged that Russian forces in southern Ukraine were in a “quite difficult position” in the face of Ukrainian counteroffensive.

In carefully scripted comments that Surovikin appeared to read from a teleprompter, he said that further action in the region will depend on the evolving combat situation. Observers interpreted his statement as an attempt to prepare the public for a possible Russian pullback from the strategic southern city of Kherson in southern Ukraine.

Surovikin began his military career with the Soviet army in 1980s and, as a young lieutenant, was named an infantry platoon commander. When he later rose to air force chief, it drew a mixed reaction in the ranks because it marked the first time when the job was given to an infantry officer.

He found himself in the center of a political storm in 1991.

When members of the Communist Party’s old guard staged a hard-line coup in August of that year, briefly ousting Gorbachev and sending troops into Moscow to impose a state of emergency, Surovikin commanded one of the mechanized infantry battalions that rolled into the capital.

Popular resistance mounted quickly, and in the final hours of the three-day coup, protesters blocked an armored convoy led by Surovikin and tried to set some of the vehicles ablaze. In a chaotic melee, two protesters were shot and a third was crushed to death by an armored vehicle.

The coup collapsed later that day, and Surovikin was quickly arrested. He spent seven months behind bars pending an inquiry but was eventually acquitted and even promoted to major as investigators concluded that he was only fulfilling his duties.

Another rocky moment in his career came in 1995, when Surovikin was convicted of illegal possession and trafficking of firearms while studying at a military academy. He was sentenced to a year in prison but the conviction was reversed quickly.

He rose steadily through the ranks, commanding units deployed to the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan, leading troops sent to Chechnya and serving at other posts across Russia.

He was appointed commander of Russian forces in Syria in 2017 and served a second stint there in 2019 as Moscow sought to prop up President Bashar Assad’s regime and help it regain ground amid a devastating civil war.

In a 2020 report, Human Rights Watch named Surovikin, along with Putin, Assad and other figures as bearing command responsibility for violations during the 2019-20 Syrian offensive in Idlib province.

He apparently has a temper that has not endeared him to subordinates, according to Russian media. One officer under Surovikin complained to prosecutors that the general had beaten him after becoming angry over how he voted in parliamentary elections; another subordinate reportedly shot himself. Investigators found no wrongdoing in either case.

His track record in Syria could have been a factor behind his appointment in Ukraine, as Putin has moved to raise the stakes and reverse a series of humiliating defeats.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who has repeatedly called for ramping up strikes in Ukraine, praised Surovikin as “a real general and a warrior, well-experienced, farsighted and forceful who places patriotism, honor and dignity above all.

Source: Arab News

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US worried by Syria-Hamas reconciliation, warns of 'isolating' Damascus

21 October 2022

The United States has warned that Washington will further “isolate” Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, in a sign of worry to the recent reconciliations between Damascus and the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement after a decade of strained relations.

In the wake of the meeting that took place between Assad and a Hamas delegation in Damascus on Wednesday, State Department spokesman Ned Price expressed Washington’s frustration and concerns on Assad's outreach to Hamas movement, saying the rapprochement “harms Palestine's interests and reinforces for us its isolation.”

He warned from any normalization of ties with the Syrian leader, pointing out that such a move “harms the interests of the Palestinian people, claiming “it undercuts global efforts to counter-terrorism in the region and beyond.”

"We will continue rejecting any support to rehabilitate the Assad regime,” Price said, noting that such support is particularly rejected from groups like Hamas, describing the Palestinian resistance movement as a “designated terrorist organization”.

This is while the US has been pursuing its interventionism in Syria, to further cement its foothold in the war-ravaged Arab country and plunder its natural resources. In April, SANA news agency reported that US occupation forces are training a group of the Daesh Takfiri terrorists in the countryside of Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah to carry out various acts of terror.

A high-ranking Palestinian delegation met the Syrian president in Damascus on Wednesday, in the first such visit in more than a decade as the two sides seek to revitalize their ties.

Deputy chief of the Hamas political bureau in the besieged Gaza Strip, Khalil al-Hayya, who headed the delegation, said the spirit of resistance was resurrected within the Arab world following their historic visit to Damascus.

Such rhetoric prompted the US to react, in a sign of fear from a stronger “Axis of resistance” in the region.

"Our meeting with al-Assad marked a glorious day today, and through it, we will resume our presence in Syria and working with Damascus in support of our people and Syria's stability," he said.

The Hamas official also reiterated that the resistance movement told President Assad that Hamas “will support Syria, its sovereignty, and territorial integrity and the Palestinian factions are against any aggression targeting Syrian soil.”

"The relations with Syria will give strength to the Axis of Resistance and to all the believers in the resistance," al-Hayya stressed, pointing out that "Hamas did not hear any opposition from any state that was informed of its decision to reconcile with Syria, including Turkey and Qatar."

Meanwhile, al-Assad underlined the importance of unity among Palestinians as a source of strength in the face of the Israeli aggression and for regaining their rights. He asserted that Syria will always remain in support of resistance against Israel. Members of the delegation expressed appreciation for Syria’s historic support to Palestinians, describing it as their safe haven during hardships.

The visit comes after non-public negotiations between Hamas and the Syrian leadership were mediated by the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah, in which the attendees discussed the disagreements that led to a decade-long rupture in ties.

Source: Press TV

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Russia Repatriates 38 Children of Islamic State Suspects from Syria

20 October, 2022

A Russian delegation in Syria on Thursday took 38 children from families of suspected Islamic State (IS) group members for repatriation, a Kurdish official and AFP correspondents said.

Kurdish authorities in northeast Syria handed over the children, "most of whom are orphans," to the Russian delegation, Kurdish foreign affairs official Khaled Ibrahim told a press conference in the city of Qamishli.

The children were taken from the Kurdish-run Al-Hol and Roj camps to the regime-controlled Qamishli airport, where they boarded a plane under heavy Russian security, AFP correspondents said.

The Kurdish administration holds thousands of Syrians and foreigners with alleged IS ties in its custody, after spearheading a U.S.-backed campaign that stripped the Islamist group of its last territory in Syria in 2019.

Foreign fighters are held in jails, while women and children with ties to the group live in overcrowded camps.

The Russian repatriations follow a similar move by France, which announced Thursday it had repatriated 40 children and 15 women from camps in Syria.

"Bringing home these children will ensure they can start to recover from their experiences and begin a normal life," said Beat Rohr, Save the Children's interim country director in Syria, following the French announcement.

Syria's Kurds have repeatedly urged the international community to repatriate foreign nationals held in overcrowded camps.

But their calls have largely fallen on deaf ears with only limited numbers, mostly children, allowed to return as home countries fear security threats and a domestic political backlash.

Nearly 4,500 Russians went to fight alongside IS, according to Russian authorities, and Moscow was the first to organize returns from Syria and also Iraq.

Source: The Moscow Times

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Ukraine FM says he spoke to Israel PM about request for defence systems

21 October, 2022

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Thursday he had spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and discussed in detail Kyiv's request for air and missile defense systems and technology.

“I informed him (about the) unspeakable suffering, loss of life, and destruction caused by Russian missiles and Iranian-made drones,” he tweeted.

Though it has condemned the Russian invasion, Israel has said it would not supply Kyiv with weapons. It has limited its Ukraine assistance to humanitarian relief, citing a desire for continued cooperation with Moscow over war-ravaged neighbor Syria and to ensure the wellbeing of Russia's Jews.

Most recently Israel offered to help Ukrainians develop air attack alerts for civilians.

Lapid's office said the Israeli leader reiterated to Kuleba Israel's support for Ukraine and expressed his “deep concern” about the military connection between Iran and Russia.

Russia has launched dozens of “kamikaze” drones on Ukraine on hitting energy infrastructure. Ukraine says they are Iranian-made Shahed-136 attack drones.

Source: Al Arabiya

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UK sanctions Iran over drones used by Russia in Ukraine

Ahmet Gurhan Kartal 



The UK on Thursday announced new sanctions on Iranian individuals and businesses “responsible for supplying Russia with kamikaze drones used to bombard Ukraine.”

Russia is using the drones “to attack both civilian targets and critical infrastructure in Kyiv and across Ukraine, with the intention of cutting off Ukrainian people from energy, heating, and water,” a statement from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said.

The statement further said Iran was “actively warmongering, profiting off Russia’s abhorrent attacks on Ukrainian citizens, and adding to the suffering of the people and the destruction of critical infrastructure” by supplying those drones.

“Both Russia and Iran are violating a UN Security Council Resolution that controls the transfer of these weapons from Iran,” it read.

“Iran’s support for Putin’s brutal and illegal war against Ukraine is deplorable,” Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said.

“Today we are sanctioning those who have supplied the drones used by Russia to target Ukrainian civilians. This is clear evidence of Iran’s destabilising role in global security,” he added.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Son of late Iran shah voices solidarity with Ukraine over drones

October 20, 2022

WASHINGTON: The son of Iran’s late shah on Thursday voiced solidarity with Ukrainians who have suffered from Russian-fired drones allegedly sold by Tehran and urged new, tough action against the clerical regime.

“Our hearts go out to the Ukrainian people who are defending their sovereignty,” Reza Pahlavi told reporters after delivering an address from his home in exile in Washington on protests that have swept Iran.

“We accuse the Islamic regime of not only having completely destroyed our freedom,” he said, but “now it is also cooperating with those who are putting at risk another nation’s sovereignty.”

The European Union and Britain on Thursday finalized sanctions on three Iranian generals and an arms firm over the drones in Ukraine, which killed five people in Kyiv on Monday and have destroyed power stations and other vital civilian infrastructure.

US and European officials say they have evidence that Russia has bought low-cost Iranian drones that explode on impact. Russia and Iran at a Security Council session called by Western nations Wednesday both denied that the drones came from Tehran.

Pahlavi said there was little question that Iran’s clerical state, which replaced his father’s Western-oriented monarchy following the 1979 revolution, has meddled around the world.

“The question isn’t what the Iranian regime is doing. The question is how will the world react and whether it will take clear action to condemn the regime’s actions through sanctions with painful consequences,” he said.

He called international pressure “a win-win — the only one who stands to lose is the Islamic regime and we don’t care about that.”

Pahlavi advocates the formation of a secular democracy in Iran and not necessarily the restoration of the centuries-old monarchy, an option that has limited appeal inside the country.

In his address, Pahlavi said that Iranians have “inspired the admiration of the world” through more than one month of protests triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the notorious “morality police,” which enforces dress codes for women.

“Your movement has also crippled the regime’s propaganda and narrative formation machine,” Pahlavi said.

“They wanted women to be slaves to men but you, Iran’s women, with the support of your husbands, brothers, fathers and sons have started the first women’s revolution in history.”

Pahlavi said he has made progress in working internationally to create a fund to assist Iranians who want to go on strike, although he said details were still being arranged.

Source: Arab News

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EU slaps sanctions on Iran drone maker, military officers

October 20, 2022

BRUSSELS: The European Union on Thursday imposed sanctions on Shahed Aviation Industries in Iran and three Iranian armed forces generals for undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity by helping to supply drones to Russia to use in the war against its neighbor.

Ukraine’s Western-reinforced air defenses are making it difficult for Russian warplanes to operate, and killer drones are a cheap weapon that can seek out and destroy targets while spreading fear among troops and civilians.

Russia is accused of sending waves of Iranian-made Shahed drones over Ukraine to strike power plants and other key infrastructure.

In response, the EU imposed an asset freeze on the company, as well as an asset freeze and travel ban on the three officers, who are also suspected of links to Iran’s drone program.

EU headquarters said in a statement that the move “is a signal of the EU’s resolve to respond swiftly and decisively to Iran’s actions supporting Russian aggression against Ukraine. The EU condemns the delivery of Iranian drones to Russia and their deadly deployment in the war of aggression against Ukraine.”

Iran on Thursday denied as “baseless” accusations it was sending missiles and drones to Russia for Russian forces to use in the invasion of Ukraine.

Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Twitter that he has spoken on the phone with European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on the issue.

Amirabdollahian said that “we have defense cooperation with Russia, but without a doubt, sending weapons and drones against Ukraine is not our policy.”

Earlier this week, EU foreign ministers agreed to slap sanctions on Iranian’s morality police as well as 11 officials, including the information minister, over the security crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Source: Arab News

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Iran envoy dismisses Ukraine's accusations Tehran violated UN resolution

21 October 2022

Iran's permanent representative to the United Nations refutes Ukraine's allegation that the Islamic Republic violated a UN resolution by, what Kiev calls, providing Russia with drones.

Amir-Saeid Iravani made the remarks in a letter to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the world body's Security Council (UNSC) on Thursday.

The envoy submitted the letter after Ukraine’s UN Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya wrote to Guterres and Security Council members, alleging that the Islamic Republic had "violated" the UNSC Resolution 2231 by allegedly transferring unmanned aerial vehicles to Russia, which is conducting a military operation in the ex-Soviet republic.

The letter obtained by the Associated Press alleges that Iran had violated the resolution by breaching the Paragraph 6 of its Annex B that used to ban Tehran from selling "uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) systems having a range equal to or greater than 300 kilometers (186 miles)." Kyslytsya also invited UN experts to visit his country to ascertain, what he called, Iran-built drones being used by Russia in the military operation.

Responding to Kiev's allegations, Iravani noted that the restrictions mentioned in the Annex B of the UNSC resolution had "ended in October 2020." "Since then, none of Iran's actions towards provision, selling or transfer of weapons or related materials to other countries has been subject to the resolution," he added.

The Ukrainian official also accused Iran of breaching the Paragraph 4 of Annex B, which bans development of nuclear-capable missile systems.

Iravani also condemned the Ukrainian official's latter claim as "wrongful and arbitrary interpretation" of the resolution and Paragraph 4's "spirit."

The Islamic Republic "has neither provided, nor intends to provide [any foreign party] with items, materials, equipment, commodities, and technology that contribute to development of nuclear weapons."

Ukraine's invitation of UN experts towards examination of Iran's so-called violation of Resolution 2231 is, therefore, "lacking in all legal foundation within Resolution 2231's framework," the Iranian official asserted.

Source: Press TV

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Jordan censures Dutch envoy for 'interference' in radio license row

Laith Al-Jnaidi and Mehmet Nuri Ucar



In a tiff over a radio license application, Jordan has condemned the Dutch ambassador to the country for interfering in internal matters.

Dutch envoy Harry Verweij requested a radio broadcast license for a citizen of a third country during a courtesy meeting with State Minister for Media Affairs Faisal al-Shboul, according to Jordan’s Foreign Ministry.

The ministry said it summoned the Dutch ambassador and “strongly” condemned his “interference in the country’s internal affairs.”

The director of the ministry’s Europe wing told Verweij that the government was “astonished” by the ambassador’s interference in a radio license application for a non-Jordanian and non-Dutch person, Jordan’s official news agency Petra reported.

The envoy was told that such applications are “processed according to laws and regulations in force and with ‘absolute’ transparency … (and) it was ‘incomprehensible’ that an ambassador representing a friendly country interfered in a matter governed by Jordan’s laws,” the report said.

The incident has also drawn a reaction from the UAE, where the Foreign Ministry summoned the Dutch ambassador to the country to “protest interference” in Jordan’s internal matters.

A ministry statement conveyed solidarity with Jordan and “expressed its strong protest against the irresponsible statement breaching diplomatic norms that was made by the Dutch ambassador.”

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Kenyan opposition figure Miguna Miguna returns from exile

Andrew Wasike  



Kenyan activist and lawyer Miguna Miguna returned to his East African country on Thursday after remaining in exile for over four years.

The opposition figure was deported by the government of former President Uhuru Kenyatta after hotly contested elections in which Miguna supported the Kenyatta's opponents.

Upon his arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Miguna thanked Kenyans for their support while he was in exile since February 2018.

"I am very grateful for the warm welcome you have given me and I'm extremely happy to be back home," Miguna said.

He added: "I extend my gratitude to all Kenyans who have stood with me, who stood with the bill of rights in the Constitution, the cost of justice, the dictates of democracy, and rule of law. I would like to extend my gratitude to the judiciary, who stood firm on the side of the rule of law."

After landing, Miguna attended celebrations to mark Mashujaa (heroes) Day, which honors those who fought for Kenya's independence, at President William Ruto's invitation, whom he also thanked at the airport saying: "Without this administration, I would not be back home."

Hundreds of young people across Nairobi clashed with police Feb. 2, 2018, demanding the release of Miguna, who was arrested earlier that day for taking part in the mock inauguration of opposition leader Raila Odinga as president.

Hours after Miguna was taken to an unknown location for interrogation, they took to the streets, blocking roads with burning tires and boulders.

Authorities said Miguna was arrested for membership of the opposition National Resistance Movement (NRM) of which he had earlier proclaimed himself a "general" and the government declared an organized criminal group.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Ugandan bank launches 1st Islamic Sharia compliant account

Godfrey Olukya



Uganda's Finance Trust Bank on Thursday launched the country's first Islamic Sharia compliant account called Halal.

Prominent Muslim personalities attended the launch event held in the country's capital Kampala.

Percy Lubega, head of business development at the bank, said: "We have today launched the Trust Halal savings account for individuals and businesses. This is the first time for a Sharia compliant account to be officially launched in the country.”

Haria Nakawunde, managing director of the bank, said the Halal account does not charge interest on money clients borrow from the bank.

The guest of honor, a prominent businessman in the country, Hajj Karim Kallisa said Sharia compliant banking is not only for Muslims but for all of humanity.

Hajj Isah Ssekitto, the spokesman of Kampala city traders association, said: "I am happy to be at this launch just like most of my colleagues who are here."

Imam Ibrahim Kasozi said: "At last we have a bank that befits our religious beliefs. Urge all Muslims to open up accounts in this bank."

Source: Anadolu Agency

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At least 150 people killed in tribal clashes in Sudan

Omer Erdem and Ahmed Osama  



At least 150 people have been killed over the past two days in a tribal conflict in southeastern Sudan, according to local media reports.

Dozens of others were injured in the clashes which took place between tribes on Wednesday and Thursday in Blue Nile state, where violence flared up again in July.

“The UN is alarmed by violence escalation in Lagawa & conflict resurgence in the Blue Nile region,” the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) said on Twitter.

“Sustainable peace won't be possible without a fully functional credible government that prioritizes local communities' needs including security & addresses the root causes of conflict,” it added.

The clashes are the latest in a wave of tribal violence that has swept across the country despite the signing of a nationwide peace deal two years ago.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Ethiopia says Tigray peace talks to begin in South Africa on Oct. 24

Andrew Wasike  



Peace talks between Ethiopia’s government and the Tigray rebels being organized by the African Union (AU) will commence in South Africa on Oct. 24, an official said on Thursday.

Redwan Hussien, national security adviser to the Ethiopian prime minister, said the AU has confirmed the date.

“We have reconfirmed our commitment to participate,” he said on Twitter.

“However, we are dismayed that some are bent on pre-empting the peace talks & spreading false allegations against the defensive measures,” he added, indicating there could still be hurdles in kicking off much-anticipated negotiations to end the nearly two-year conflict in northern Ethiopia.

The AU is yet to make an official announcement on the talks, which will be mediated by a team of top African politicians.

The panel is led by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is also the AU’s high representative for the Horn of Africa.

Other members are Kenya’s ex-President Uhuru Kenyatta and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, a former deputy president of South Africa.

The development comes after Ethiopian forces recently made gains in Tigray by capturing key areas, including the strategic town of Shire.

Last Sunday, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front said it was “ready to abide by an immediate cessation of hostilities,” urging the international community to press Addis Ababa “to come to the negotiating table.”

Earlier this week, Hussien rejected recent statements from UN officials, including its chief Antonio Guterres, that the Tigray crisis “is spiraling out of control,” asserting that it was being “extinguished” thanks to Ethiopia’s efforts.

The Tigray conflict has killed thousands and displaced millions more since November 2020.

There has been intense fighting in the northern Ethiopian region since a months-long truce was shattered in late August, with reports of mass casualties and other rights violations.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Algeria, Russia hold joint military exercise in Mediterranean

Esat Fırat  


ALGIERS, Algeria

Algeria and Russia kicked off a four-day joint military exercise in the Mediterranean Sea, the Algerian Defense Ministry said Wednesday.

A group of warships belonging to the Russian fleet docked in the port of Algiers on Tuesday to conduct the 2022 joint naval exercise, the ministry said in a written statement.

The exercise was carried out to strengthen military cooperation between the Algerian and Russian navies, it added.

A minesweeper belonging to the Russian navy docked in the port of Jijel on the eastern Mediterranean coast in September to conduct joint exercises with the Algerian navy.

Russian and Algerian warships carried out joint naval maneuvers in the Mediterranean last November, including various tactical and interceptive exercises.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Southeast Asia


PKR man slams Ismail’s ‘misguided’ claims on Anwar’s pardon

October 21, 2022

PETALING JAYA: A former PKR MP has hit out at Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s “misguided and wrong” comments on Anwar Ibrahim’s royal pardon, saying the caretaker prime minister should check his facts.

R Sivarasa said Ismail should also retract his comments.

“Ismail should read relevant court judgments on the issues he is raising to the public.

“Otherwise, it is irresponsible for a caretaker prime minister to present the issue falsely as if there were no court judgments on it,” he said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Ismail had questioned the legitimacy of the pardon granted to the PKR president.

Malaysiakini had reported Ismail as saying the pardon was granted soon after Pakatan Harapan came to power and “at a time when no attorney-general was in office” as Apandi Ali had been sacked.

Ismail also reportedly said the Federal Territories minister should have sat on the Pardons Board, which was not the case.

But Sivarasa said the issues Ismail had highlighted had been raised in a court proceeding where the validity of the pardon was challenged and subsequently dismissed.

He said there was also nothing wrong for the King to pardon Anwar soon after PH took power because the former deputy prime minister had already served over 90% of his five-year jail sentence.

Sivarasa also said Apandi was not sacked but had been asked by then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to go on leave.

He said Apandi had also delegated his function on the Pardons Board to solicitor-general Zauyah Loth Khan.

“The High Court and the Court of Appeal decided that such a delegation was perfectly lawful,” he said.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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RM95bil development expenditure not to benefit tycoons, says PM

Faiz Zainudin

October 18, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR: Caretaker Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has denied that the RM95 billion allocated for development expenditure in Budget 2023 would only benefit tycoons and conglomerates.

Ismail gave an assurance that qualified local contractors would be given adequate opportunities to carry out development projects across the nation.

In addition, he said, major projects like the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) would create tens of thousands of jobs for Malaysians and small-time contractors.

“Of the RM95 billion, RM3 billion is for rural development. It’s not just big projects, but also small projects like the construction of roads in rural areas, infrastructure for electricity and water supply, and so on,” he said at an event at the World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur today.

“The opposition’s claims are not true, because the RM95 billion would also benefit small-time contractors in the G1 to G4 categories.

“However, all these (initiatives) would only be enjoyed if Budget 2023 is retabled and passed after the 15th general election (GE15). That means this government needs to be re-elected to lead the nation.”

Previously, former Subang MP Wong Chen said government contractors and tycoons would be “celebrating” the RM95 billion development expenditure in the budget, the highest in Malaysia’s history.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Syed Saddiq heckled by rowdy youths outside ceramah

October 17, 2022

PETALING JAYA: A ceramah featuring Muda president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman was disrupted by a bunch of rowdy youngsters while he was speaking at the event in Muar.

The event had been running smoothly when several speakers, including Amanah president Mohamad Sabu and Johor DAP chairman Liew Chin Tong took turns to address the crowd.

However, a commotion began when Syed Saddiq, the last speaker, was halfway into his speech.

Some young people gathered outside the ceramah tent and repeatedly shouted “penipu” (liar) at Syed Saddiq, who is a former minister of youth and sport.

In response, the crowd listening to him shouted back at the youngsters asking them to “balik” (go home).

The police were seen blocking the group from approaching further.

Syed Saddiq expressed frustrations with the group, who also disrupted his speech by revving the throttle of their motorcycles.

“When they can’t fight us with better arguments, they resort to this tactic,” he said. “I’m sad to see Muar children begging from political elites.

“If they think with their motorcycles, they can shut us down, they are wrong. If they want to threaten us, we will fight but through debate. That is the real spirit of Muar children,” he said.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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PH needs coherent economic views to win in GE15, says Chin Tong

October 20, 2022

PETALING JAYA: Pakatan Harapan (PH) must come up with coherent economic views for the 15th general election (GE15) if it hopes to retake Putrajaya and lead the nation well, said DAP strategist Liew Chin Tong.

Liew said the key to wooing fence-sitters, especially youngsters, was to prove that Malaysia would be better off in the years to come under a new government.

The DAP election director told BFM in an interview that this set of coherent economic views would then guide the government in its policy-making.

“Very often what splits the government, apart from the personalities, is that it does not have coherent economic views,” he said when asked about the lessons learned from PH’s 22 months in Putrajaya.

Liew added that to attract voters who were undecided, PH would need to prioritise their economic needs.

“What do (voters) care about? They care about jobs. They care about wages. They care about public transportation, (affordable) housing, childcare, aged care.”

Meanwhile, Liew said the six states that opted to hold their state elections separately should consider holding the polls together in June next year, saying this would be akin to a “mini general election”.

Asked about the possibility of low voter turnout for the state polls next year, the Perling assemblyman admitted that it was unclear if there would be excitement among voters.

“It would really depend on what sort of messages political parties have (to offer) voters,” he added.

Penang, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Kelantan, Kedah, and Terengganu have decided to hold their state elections next year. Pahang, Perlis and Perak have dissolved their respective state assemblies following Parliament’s dissolution.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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