New Age Islam
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Islamic World News ( 22 Dec 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Darul Uloom Deoband Issues Fatwa against New Year Celebrations














Photo: Darul Uloom issues fatwa against New Year celebrations

 

Pak Govt Asks Court to Deny Clearance to Saeed's Political Front

Cleric Asks Why Pray For Non-Muslims to Reach Heaven, After KL Vigil for K-Pop Star

UN Envoy: US, Turkish Military Forces Must Leave Syria

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India

Darul Uloom Deoband Issues Fatwa against New Year Celebrations

Muslims in India Hail UN Al-Quds Resolution

Highly-educated Hindu-Muslim couple marries, Ghaziabad BJP says 'love jihad'

J&K: Army Major, 3 soldiers killed in firing by Pakistan along LoC

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Pakistan

Pak Govt Asks Court to Deny Clearance to Saeed's Political Front

Two Shia Martyred In Quetta Gun Attack

Pakistan paying price of Afghan forces’ lack of capacity, claims Pak army

I've known Salman Haider for 14 years and he is not anti-Islam

MajeedAchakzai acquitted in vehicle tampering case by local court in Quetta

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Southeast Asia

Cleric Asks Why Pray For Non-Muslims to Reach Heaven, After KL Vigil for K-Pop Star

Christmas: Muslims Offer to Guard Churches in Indonesia

Houthis Impose their 'Rhetoric' in Sanaa Mosques

Muslims Cannot Join Candlelight Vigils for Kim Jong-Hyun; It Is Haram: Perak Mufti

Islamic Market draws large crowds to Taipei's Daan Forest Park

Philippine Muslims condemn U.S. decision on Jerusalem

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Europe

UN Envoy: US, Turkish Military Forces Must Leave Syria

Christmas as A Muslim: 'My Mom Was Always Careful That We'd Never Feel Left Out'

Mosques launch legal challenge to council's ban on 'cruel' halal meat in schools - claiming it didn't consult community over decision

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South Asia

A-29s Pound Taliban Targets in Kunduz Leaving 6 Militants Dead, Wounded

Taliban’s IED Expert Famous as Osama Killed in NDS Operation

ISIS has over 10,000 fighters in Afghanistan, more arriving from Syria & Iraq – Moscow

Noor vows to defy Ghani’s decision and continue to his work as Balkh governor

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Mideast

Israeli Soldiers Abduct Four Turkish Citizens near Al-Aqsa Mosque

Turkey-Backed Militants' Command Centres Destroyed in SDF's Heavy Fire in Northern Syria

Palestinian Injured During Clashes in Gaza Last Week Dies of Wounds

Israel Quits UNESCO over ‘Attacks’ Months after US Withdrawal

Abu Dhabi University, Emirates Islamic To Provide Financial Assistance to Students

Tehran Boasts Islamic Unity against Trump’s Quds Move

Palestinian Protesters Killed in Gaza

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Arab World

Fierce Clashes among Terrorists Underway in Northwestern Syria

Syrian Army One Step Closer to Purging Southern Idlib of Terrorists

Syrian Army Sends More Troops, Equipment from DeirEzzur to Hama Province

Iraqi Popular Forces Deploy at Border with Syria

Army Repels ISIL's Attack on Gov't Positions in Hama

Syrian Army Makes Fresh Gains in War on Terrorism in Southwestern Damascus

Iraqi Shia militias deploy to Syrian border to back guard forces

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Africa

Muslim Mob Lays Siege to Christian Church in Egypt

Two Islamic Movement members arrest in Jigawa

Buhari commends imams’ league for prayers during sickness

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Australia

‘What the hell?’ Muslim man punched at mosque ‘for not having an opinion’

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North America

Iranian-American Group Lauds Court Gag on Trump's Muslim Ban

U.S. Ambassador Denies Anti-Muslim Comments, Then Denies Denial On Dutch TV

US appeals court says Trump's 'Muslim ban' violates immigration law

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/darul-uloom-deoband-issues-fatwa-against-new-year-celebrations/d/113675

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Darul Uloom issues fatwa against New Year celebrations

Published: 22nd December 2017

LUCKNOW: One of the most prominent Islamic seminaries Darul Uloom Deoband has come out with another ‘Fatwa’. This time New Year celebrations are on the target of the Muftis of Asia’s biggest seminary based in Saharanpur. The religious leaders of Deoband have directed the Muslim community and the followers of Islam to stay away from the New Year celebrations both on December 31 and January 1 calling it anti-Islamic.

According to Maulana Mufti Tariq Kasmi, senior ustad of MadarsaJamiaHussainia of Deoband.neither revelries nor cutting of the cake on New Year was allowed in Islam. Even greeting each other on new year was anti-Islamic more so the birthday celebrations and greeting each other on Christmas was also prohibited in Islam.

According to Mufti Tariq, in Islam, the new year starts from Moharram. “So those who believe in Islam and are Muslim should avoid participation in such celebrations keeping away from such practices,” said Mufti Tariq.

Meanwhile, some Hindu organisations have also expressed reservation over New Year celebrations claiming that January 1 cannot be deemed new year as Hindu calendar –VikramSamvat--  starts from the first day of Chaitra Navratra in April. So it should be celebrated as the new year.

Dar-ul-Uloom has been in the practice of issuing such farmans and fatwas from time to time to ‘keep the Muslim community much within the realm of Islam’. In 2015, it had put a ban on the use of the smartphone with multimedia on its campus by issuing a fatwa claiming that use of smartphones was anti-Islamic and students were getting distracted due to it. They claimed that ban on smartphones was a step to discipline the students pursuing Islamic education.

DarulUloom often hogs limelight owing to the fatwas it issues for Muslims. In the month of October this year, while it issued a fatwa barring Muslim men and women from posting their or their families' photographs on social media sites, on the other, there was an edict from the seminary against women going to beauty parlour or wearing jeans.

newindianexpress.com/nation/2017/dec/22/darul-uloom-issues-fatwa-against-new-year-celebrations-1734538.html

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Pak govt asks court to deny clearance to Saeed's political front

PTI | Dec 23, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government has requested a court here not to consider Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed-backed Milli Muslim League's plea seeking its registration as a political party, saying the group would breed violence and extremism in politics.

Saeed earlier this month had confirmed that his organisation Jammat-ud-Dawah (JuD) would contest the 2018 general elections under the banner of the Milli Muslim League (MML).

The MML had challenged the Election Commission of Pakistan's order on October 11 that had declined its registration as a political party.

The interior ministry, in its written reply submitted to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on the MML's petition, said that it opposed the group's registration as a political party as the group was an offshoot of proscribed entities.

Dawn newspaper reported that the government requested the court not to consider the MML's plea and dismiss the petition.

The ministry formed its opinion on the basis of a security agency's report which expressed apprehensions that the registration of the MML as a political party "would breed violence and extremism in politics".

According to the ministry's reply to the court, the MML is the offshoot of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jamaat-udDawa (JuD).

According to Political Parties Order (PPO) 2002, organisations which act in the manner prejudicial to fundamental rights, undermine the integrity of Pakistan, promote sectarian, regional or provincial hatred, bear a name as a militant group and impart any military or paramilitary training to its members, do not qualify for registration as political party. In it reply to the court, the interior ministry said a security agency had opined that "it is difficult to believe that the MML will tread its own path, completely at variance with its mother (LeT and JuD) organisations."

The agency "recommended that since registration of such groups would breed violence and extremism in politics, such groups be avoided," it said.

According to the reply, the LeT, JuD and Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) are facing UN sanctions, therefore, the interior ministry "furnished comments to the ECP that the registration of the MML, an offshoot of the same network of JuD/FIF (which apparent in MML as well), was not supported".

The JuD chief walked free on November 24 after the Pakistan government decided against detaining him further in any other case. He was under detention since January this year.

The MML had contested a bypoll in September for NA-120, a National Assembly seat that had fallen vacant following disqualification of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Sheikh Yaqub, MML candidate, had secured 6,000 votes. Yaqub was placed in 2012 on a US Treasury sanctions list of those designated as leaders of terrorist organisations.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pak-govt-asks-court-to-deny-clearance-to-saeeds-political-front/articleshow/62219733.cms

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Cleric asks why pray for non-Muslims to reach heaven, after KL vigil for K-pop star

KUALA LUMPUR - The most senior cleric in Malaysia's Perak state has questioned whether Muslims should pray for deceased non-Muslims to enter heaven, after Malaysians held a candlelight vigil for the late Korean pop star Kim Jong Hyun.

Perak mufti Tan Sri HarussaniZakaria told broadcaster Astro Awani that Muslims are forbidden from taking part in candlelight vigils.

"Cannot. You're forbidden from doing that. If the artist or individual was Muslim, we gift him the al-Fatihah verse. If it's a non-Muslim, why would we pray heaven for him instead?" said the cleric, as reported in The Malay Mail.

"What's more he committed suicide, why would we follow the culture of infidels? What for?" he was quoted as saying.

According to the Malay Mail, in 2015, the national fatwa council - which issues religious rulings for the country - had declared that candlelight vigils are "haram", or forbidden for Muslims, because they are similar to rituals practised by other religions, and may threaten a Muslim's faith.

On Thursday (Dec 21) night, some 100 mourning fans of Mr Kim, from various ethnic and religious backgrounds gathered near Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur for a candlelight vigil, bearing glowsticks, torches, balloons and flowers. Most of them were students.

The lead singer of the band SHINee was found dead in a rented apartment on Monday evening. According to a note he left behind, he had been "consumed" by depression.

straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/cleric-asks-why-pray-for-non-muslims-to-reach-heaven-after-kl-vigil-for-k-pop-star

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UN Envoy: US, Turkish Military Forces Must Leave Syria

Sat Dec 23, 2017 11:32

Al-Jaafari made the demand during the latest round of Syrian peace negotiations in the Kazakh capital city of Astana, press tv reported.

On October 13, Turkish troops travelling in a convoy of 12 armored vehicles entered Northern Syria in a new military operation.

Turkish media sources said the convoy included about 80 soldiers.

Local sources said the troops were headed towards the Western part of Aleppo province.

The development came after Turkish officials said they were sending troops into Syria to enforce a de-escalation zone in Idlib, which is largely controlled by Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) terrorist alliance.

The de-escalation zone forms part of an agreement reached between Turkey, Iran and Russia.

Syrian congress of national dialogue will be held in Sochi in late Jan.

Meanwhile, a joint statement released after two days of talks in Kazakhstan said delegations from Russia, Iran and Turkey, Syrian government representatives as well as a 20-member opposition team had agreed to hold a “peace congress” in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi as part of efforts to find a political solution to the six-year-old Syrian conflict.

The statement said the congress will be held between January 29 and 30 next year, and “all segments of the Syrian society” will participate in it.

It added “To this end three guarantors (Russia, Turkey and Iran) will hold a special preparation meeting in Sochi before the congress.”

Last week, the eighth round of UN-backed Syria peace talks in Geneva, Switzerland, ended without progress.

UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan De Mistura, described the talks as a missed opportunity.

Previous rounds of Geneva negotiations have failed to achieve results, mainly due to the opposition’s insistence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should cede power.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961002000504

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India

Darul Uloom issues fatwa against New Year celebrations

Published: 22nd December 2017

LUCKNOW: One of the most prominent Islamic seminaries Darul Uloom Deoband has come out with another ‘Fatwa’. This time New Year celebrations are on the target of the Muftis of Asia’s biggest seminary based in Saharanpur. The religious leaders of Deoband have directed the Muslim community and the followers of Islam to stay away from the New Year celebrations both on December 31 and January 1 calling it anti-Islamic.

According to Maulana Mufti Tariq Kasmi, senior ustad of MadarsaJamiaHussainia of Deoband.neither revelries nor cutting of the cake on New Year was allowed in Islam. Even greeting each other on new year was anti-Islamic more so the birthday celebrations and greeting each other on Christmas was also prohibited in Islam.

According to Mufti Tariq, in Islam, the new year starts from Moharram. “So those who believe in Islam and are Muslim should avoid participation in such celebrations keeping away from such practices,” said Mufti Tariq.

Meanwhile, some Hindu organisations have also expressed reservation over New Year celebrations claiming that January 1 cannot be deemed new year as Hindu calendar –VikramSamvat--  starts from the first day of Chaitra Navratra in April. So it should be celebrated as the new year.

Dar-ul-Uloom has been in the practice of issuing such farmans and fatwas from time to time to ‘keep the Muslim community much within the realm of Islam’. In 2015, it had put a ban on the use of the smartphone with multimedia on its campus by issuing a fatwa claiming that use of smartphones was anti-Islamic and students were getting distracted due to it. They claimed that ban on smartphones was a step to discipline the students pursuing Islamic education.

DarulUloom often hogs limelight owing to the fatwas it issues for Muslims. In the month of October this year, while it issued a fatwa barring Muslim men and women from posting their or their families' photographs on social media sites, on the other, there was an edict from the seminary against women going to beauty parlour or wearing jeans.

newindianexpress.com/nation/2017/dec/22/darul-uloom-issues-fatwa-against-new-year-celebrations-1734538.html

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Muslims in India hail UN al-Quds resolution

Sat Dec 23, 2017 02:51AM

Shahana Butt

Press TV, New Delhi

In the Indian capital, New Delhi, people have taken to the streets to denounce the US president’s declaration of Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of Israel. The demonstrators hailed the countries that supported the UN resolution against Donald Trump’s decision. Our correspondent Shahana Butt reports.

presstv.com/Detail/2017/12/23/546507/Muslims-in-India-hail-UN-alQuds-resolution-

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Highly-educated Hindu-Muslim couple marries, Ghaziabad BJP says 'love jihad'

23 Dec 2017 | By GogonaSaikia

Are two highly-qualified, well-established 30-year-olds capable of choosing their life-partner?

Most wouldn't consider this a question worth asking. But members of the BJP, Bajrang Dal and other right-wing organizations in Ghaziabad would like to differ.

For them, the fact that the boy is Muslim and girl Hindu, is enough to cry "love jihad".

So what if none of them are converting?

An MBA and a doctor of psychology fall in love

The 30-year-old boy, an MBA, had met the 28-year-old girl, a doctor of psychology, five years ago. Both work in MNCs.

The girl's father is a reputed businessman in Ghaziabad. Her grandfather is a retired IAS officer.

Meanwhile, the boy's family, originally from Aligarh, is settled in Noida. His father is a professor.

The two decided to marry. The families consented.

MarriageThey would uphold each other's right to religion, they promised

The bride and groom had mutually decided not to interfere with each other's religious beliefs, the girl's father told TOI.

"The boy was even ready to get married following Hindu rituals, but the girl wanted a nikah," he said.

They got married at a Ghaziabad court under the Special Marriage Act yesterday. There was a reception planned in the evening.

ProtestBut they didn't take "permission", right-wing groups complain

But the couple's and their families' consent wasn't enough for the Ghaziabad BJP, Bajrang Dal, Hindu Raksha Dal and DharamJagranManch.

By noon, they reached the reception venue at Raj Nagar and created a ruckus.

Ghaziabad BJP president Ajay Sharma complained they hadn't taken "permission" for the marriage.

They were adamant it was a case of "love jihad", despite the families insisting otherwise.

ActionThe families want to draw PM's attention to such incidents

Resultantly, there were massive traffic jams around the ALT Road. Police was deployed and there was a lathicharge on the protesters.

The activists finally left around 5:30pm when SSP HN Singh assured them an inquiry into the lathicharge.

Meanwhile, the girl's family, who was expecting "something of this sort", plan to write to the PM about it.

They have filed a written complaint.

newsbytesapp.com/timeline/India/14172/72552/how-does-bjp-define-love-jihad

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J&K: Army Major, 3 soldiers killed in firing by Pakistan along LoC

RajatPandit | TNN | Updated: Dec 23, 2017

A major and three soldiers were killed in cross-border firing by Pakistan army at Keri in Jammu and Kashmir

An “area domination patrol” of the 2 Sikh battalion deployed in the Keri sector, under the 120 Infantry Brigade, was underway when it came under fire from Pakistan army posts

File photo used only for representationJ&K: Army Major, 3 soldiers killed in firing by Pakistan along LoC

NEW DELHI: A major and three soldiers were killed in cross-border firing by Pakistan army at Keri in Rajouri sector of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday afternoon, even as the two countries continue to exchange heavy fire at different places along the Line of Control (LoC) on a daily basis.

An "area domination patrol" of the 2 Sikh battalion deployed in the Keri area, under the 120 Infantry Brigade, was underway when it came under fire from Pakistan army posts at about 12.15pm.

"Major PrafullaAmbadas (32), Lance-NaikGurmail Singh (34) and SepoyPargat Singh (30) were killed in the unprovoked ceasefire violation, while two other soldiers were injured. One of them later succumbed to injuries in hospital. Our soldiers retaliated strongly and effectively on the Pakistan army posts. The martyrdom of our soldiers will not go in vain," said an officer.

India has recorded over 780 ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the 778-km LoC already this year, while the number has crossed 120 along the 198-km international border manned by BSF in J&K. Over 33 people, including 12 civilians, have been killed in these firings.

This marks a new high in recent years. The ceasefire violations along the LoC in 2014 and 2015, for instance, stood at 153 and 152, while the tally was 228 last year. Army Chief General BipinRawat recently held that peace talks with Pakistan could take place only when it stops supporting terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. But given its actions and behavior, it doesn't appear that Pakistan really wants peace, he added.

The Indian director-general of military operations, Lt-Gen AK Bhatt, had also last month told his Pakistan counterpart, Major General SahirShamshad Mirza, that there appeared to be a "disconnect" between his Army headquarters at Rawalpindi, which professes a desire for peace, and its troops on the ground along the LOC, who resort to heavy firing and ceasefire violations without any provocation.

While maintaining that the Indian Army will continue its efforts to ensure peace and tranquility on the borders, Lt-Gen Bhatt said it will "continue to take all retaliatory measures and retain the right to punitively respond to any provocative acts of aggression from the Pakistani side".

The Indian Army has over the last few months repeatedly told the Pakistan army to desist from actively abetting cross-border terrorism and infiltration, warning that all misadventures to either target Indian troops or provide covering fire to infiltrating terrorists would be met with retaliatory punitive fire assaults.

India has stressed that the main reason for any collateral damage in the cross-border firings is due to Pakistan army's "unacceptable" support to cross-border terrorism and infiltration as well as its strategy to deploy civilians at its forward posts to gain intelligence and act as guides to the terrorists crossing the LoC.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/jk-major-3-soldiers-martyred-in-cross-border-firing-by-pakistan-army/articleshow/62222157.cms

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Pakistan

Pak govt asks court to deny clearance to Saeed's political front

PTI | Dec 23, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government has requested a court here not to consider Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed-backed Milli Muslim League's plea seeking its registration as a political party, saying the group would breed violence and extremism in politics.

Saeed earlier this month had confirmed that his organisation Jammat-ud-Dawah (JuD) would contest the 2018 general elections under the banner of the Milli Muslim League (MML).

The MML had challenged the Election Commission of Pakistan's order on October 11 that had declined its registration as a political party.

The interior ministry, in its written reply submitted to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on the MML's petition, said that it opposed the group's registration as a political party as the group was an offshoot of proscribed entities.

Dawn newspaper reported that the government requested the court not to consider the MML's plea and dismiss the petition.

The ministry formed its opinion on the basis of a security agency's report which expressed apprehensions that the registration of the MML as a political party "would breed violence and extremism in politics".

According to the ministry's reply to the court, the MML is the offshoot of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jamaat-udDawa (JuD).

According to Political Parties Order (PPO) 2002, organisations which act in the manner prejudicial to fundamental rights, undermine the integrity of Pakistan, promote sectarian, regional or provincial hatred, bear a name as a militant group and impart any military or paramilitary training to its members, do not qualify for registration as political party. In it reply to the court, the interior ministry said a security agency had opined that "it is difficult to believe that the MML will tread its own path, completely at variance with its mother (LeT and JuD) organisations."

The agency "recommended that since registration of such groups would breed violence and extremism in politics, such groups be avoided," it said.

According to the reply, the LeT, JuD and Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) are facing UN sanctions, therefore, the interior ministry "furnished comments to the ECP that the registration of the MML, an offshoot of the same network of JuD/FIF (which apparent in MML as well), was not supported".

The JuD chief walked free on November 24 after the Pakistan government decided against detaining him further in any other case. He was under detention since January this year.

The MML had contested a bypoll in September for NA-120, a National Assembly seat that had fallen vacant following disqualification of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Sheikh Yaqub, MML candidate, had secured 6,000 votes. Yaqub was placed in 2012 on a US Treasury sanctions list of those designated as leaders of terrorist organisations.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pak-govt-asks-court-to-deny-clearance-to-saeeds-political-front/articleshow/62219733.cms

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Two Shia martyred in Quetta gun attack

December 23, 2017 - 11:02 AM

QUETTA, Pakistan (AhlulBayt News Agency) - Two coal miners belonging to the Shia community were martyred and another two injured when the van they were travelling in came under fire in the western bypass area on Friday.

Police said a group of Hazaras was on its way to the Mach coal mine in Bolan district when the assailants on a motorbike opened fire on their vehicle near the main western bypass. As a result, four of them were injured.

“The coal miners were returning to the Mach coal field after a holiday,” said Deputy Inspector General Police Abdul Razzak Cheema.

Balochistan has been experiencing incidents of violence and targeted killings for more than a decade. Over 1,400 incidents targeting the Shia Muslim community have taken place in the province during the past 15 years.

Police and Frontier Corps personnel rushed to the site soon after the incident. The injured were first taken to Bolan Medical College Hospital and then shifted to Combined Military Hospital.

Two of the injured — Habibullah and Abdul Hussain — died during treatment.

The bodies were hand over to the heirs.

The injured were identified as Syed Mubarak and Muhammad Younus.

Security forces launched a search operation to trace the attackers but no arrest was reported in this regard like before.

Chief Minister NawabSanaullahZehri expressed deep grief over the incident and ordered the authorities concerned to submit their report on it. Separately, Hazara Democratic Party strongly denounced the firing incident on the vehicle of the coal miners. In a statement, Hazara Democratic Party also lashed out at the government’s security claims.

en.abna24.com/news/central-asia-subcontinent/two-shia-martyred-in-quetta-gun-attack_873741.html

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Pakistan paying price of Afghan forces’ lack of capacity, claims Pak army

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sat Dec 23 2017

The Pakistani military has claimed that Pakistan is paying the price for the lack of capacity of the Afghan national defense and security forces as the two nations have stepped up rhetoric against each other regarding the alleged presence of the terror groups in each other’s soil.

In reaction to the latest attack on a Pakistani security post, the Pakistani military media wing said “Pakistan was “paying [the] price of Afghan security forces’ lack of capacity and ungoverned spaces on Afghan side of the border.”

The statement further added that at least three FC personnel were killed after a group of militants attacked a under construction check post in Mohmand tribal region.

According to the Pakistani military, at least five militants were also killed and as many were wounded in the retaliatory attack by the Pakistani forces.

No individual or group has so far claimed responsibility behind the attack although the Pakistani officials often blame the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan for such attacks, claiming that the group uses the Afghan soil to orchestrate attacks on the civilians and security personnel.

However, the Afghan officials also criticize Pakistan for remaining short to act against the Afghan militant groups, specifically the notorious Haqqani terrorist network which the Afghan and US officials believe have safe havens in Pakistan besides the Taliban and Haqqani leaders enjoy the freedom of action in the country.

khaama.com/pakistan-paying-price-of-afghan-forces-lack-of-capacity-claims-pak-army-04100

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I've known Salman Haider for 14 years and he is not anti-Islam

Imran BukhariUpdated January 23, 2017

The article was originally published in January, 2017.

In September 2002, I got admission in MSc in Psychology at Government College University (GCU), Lahore. A few months prior, I had pledged allegiance to famous religious scholar Dr Israr Ahmed and made the struggle for an Islamic revolution my primary aim in life.

I met Salman Haider at GCU, where he was a senior in my department. We eventually became great friends. He had a gifted mind and was amongst the few bright students in the programme. Apart from being an excellent student, he was an active participant in the drama and debating clubs.

He won several prizes at the university and was popular amongst students and teachers alike. As a person, he was kindhearted, straightforward, and loving toward people around him.

I come from Multan and whatever inhibitions I had as someone who found himself in a big city, Salman helped me shed them. My integration in a new environment was made possible by Salman. Even though he was liberal and I was religious, he never allowed difference of opinion come between our friendship.

Read our Editorial: Missing activists

Just as he was close to his other friends, he was close to me as well. After completing his degree, Salman received a scholarship from the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and moved to Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) in Islamabad to pursue his PhD.

When I finished my degree, it was Salman who convinced me to apply for the same scholarship. I followed his footsteps and went to QAU for my PhD as well.

QAU’s hostel 2, room 58 had two occupants: Salman and Shahadat. I was unable to get hostel accommodation when I joined the university in 2006. But Salman came to my rescue and gave me space in his room.

The room originally had two single-beds, but Salman and Shahadat took them out and arranged floor beddings instead for the three of us. The only space we had left was between the door and the mattresses; we kept our shoes there. Although we had a fan, the room used to get so hot that we had to soak our mattresses with water every two hours.

One summer, two friends from Multan gave me a surprise visit. I thought they would go back later at night, but they were planning on sleeping over. We barely had room to move, but Salman accommodated us all. He gave his bed to my friends and slept on a chador in the little space where we had our shoes.

On the same topic: Times of iron and fire: The case of Pakistan's missing activists

As I mentioned earlier, I have been a follower of Dr Israr Ahmed since 2002. In these years, my religious thought has developed and my inclination toward Islam has increased. So when I saw the propaganda against Salman on social media, I felt it was time for me to tell people the truth about my dear friend.

I have known Salman for 14 years and in that time, I never heard him express anti-theistic or anti-Islam sentiments. He was not against religion, but against ignorance, narrow-mindedness, and socio-political oppression. It is an outright lie that Salman was against Islam.

Those who are smearing him don’t know how enlightened he was. Gifted people like Salman are assets to our society.

I found Salman’s views and values to be far more humanistic than the values of these so-called mazhabkethekedaars.

Salman valued logic and rationality was his litmus test for accepting or rejecting ideas. He always listened to contesting views graciously. He was especially critical of people who exploited slogans and political ideologies for their own benefit. I often heard Salman criticising his own comrades.

Our deep friendship was due to his broad-mindedness and accepting nature. And even though we were on opposing ideological poles, we still found common ground when it came to our analysis of society.

We both wondered why Muslims were never able to live peacefully with each other even though they were all followers of the same religion.

Our second grievance was regarding the role of the state. We both firmly believed that it was the state’s responsibility to ensure the welfare, well-being and security of its citizens.

Read further: Salman Haider’s disappearance won’t silence our voices

We would often lament how this country, whose founders envisaged it to be a welfare state, had deviated from those ideals.

Today, power, authority and wealth are concentrated in the hands of a few. As soon as the exploited, cheated, and oppressed raise their voices to demand their rights, they are labeled ‘traitors,’ ‘foreign agents,’ ‘anti-religion’ and so on.

I think one such voice was Salman's. Unsurprisingly, he is now being labeled as a ‘traitor’ and a ‘blasphemer’.

Salman’s real crime was to raise his voice – not for his personal benefit but for the rights of others. His crime was to dream of a society where there was freedom and where people lived without fear.

dawn.com/news/1310211/ive-known-salman-haider-for-14-years-and-he-is-not-anti-islam

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MajeedAchakzai acquitted in vehicle tampering case by local court in Quetta

Syed Ali ShahDecember 23, 2017

A local court on Saturday acquitted Balochistan MPA Majeed Khan Achakzai in a vehicle tampering case related to the hit-and-run incident that resulted in the death of a traffic sergeant in Quetta.

Though the MPA was acquitted by judicial magistrate Muhammad Iqbal Khilji, the hit-and-run case is ongoing in an Anti-Terrorism Court as it was registered under Section 322 (punishment for murder) of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

"We have challenged the terrorism charge in a higher court because how can a traffic accident be considered a terrorist act," his counsel said on Saturday.

In June this year, traffic police official Haji Attaullah was killed after being run over by a vehicle that allegedly belonged to Achakzai. The legislator's vehicle was speeding and rammed into the traffic sergeant who was on duty at GPO Chowk, police had said.

CCTV footage of the incident was shared widely on social media and sparked a campaign demanding the arrest of the legislator, after which police had apprehended Achakzai, who belongs to the Pakhtunkhwa MilliAwami Party, from his residence in the Satellite Town area of Quetta.

He was produced in front of a judicial magistrate a week after the incident, where he was remanded to police custody.

Prior to his remand, however, Achakzai had confessed to his involvement in the accident and claimed to have agreed to compensate the family members of the slain traffic policeman. Surprisingly, the Civil Lines Police Station had still lodged a First Information Report against 'unknown individuals'.

Correction: The headline and introduction of the story incorrectly stated that MajeedAchakzai had been acquitted in the hit-and-run killing of the traffic constable. The acquittal was, in fact, in a case pertaining to alleged vehicle tampering by Achakzai after the hit-and-run incident. The traffic constable killing case is still being tried in an Anti-Terrorism Court. The error is regretted.

dawn.com/news/1378397/majeed-achakzai-acquitted-in-vehicle-tampering-case-by-local-court-in-quetta

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Southeast Asia

Cleric asks why pray for non-Muslims to reach heaven, after KL vigil for K-pop star

KUALA LUMPUR - The most senior cleric in Malaysia's Perak state has questioned whether Muslims should pray for deceased non-Muslims to enter heaven, after Malaysians held a candlelight vigil for the late Korean pop star Kim Jong Hyun.

Perak mufti Tan Sri HarussaniZakaria told broadcaster Astro Awani that Muslims are forbidden from taking part in candlelight vigils.

"Cannot. You're forbidden from doing that. If the artist or individual was Muslim, we gift him the al-Fatihah verse. If it's a non-Muslim, why would we pray heaven for him instead?" said the cleric, as reported in The Malay Mail.

"What's more he committed suicide, why would we follow the culture of infidels? What for?" he was quoted as saying.

According to the Malay Mail, in 2015, the national fatwa council - which issues religious rulings for the country - had declared that candlelight vigils are "haram", or forbidden for Muslims, because they are similar to rituals practised by other religions, and may threaten a Muslim's faith.

On Thursday (Dec 21) night, some 100 mourning fans of Mr Kim, from various ethnic and religious backgrounds gathered near Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur for a candlelight vigil, bearing glowsticks, torches, balloons and flowers. Most of them were students.

The lead singer of the band SHINee was found dead in a rented apartment on Monday evening. According to a note he left behind, he had been "consumed" by depression.

straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/cleric-asks-why-pray-for-non-muslims-to-reach-heaven-after-kl-vigil-for-k-pop-star

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Christmas: Muslims offer to guard churches in Indonesia

December 23, 20178:28 am

Muslims in Indonesia have offered to guard churches and prevent any attack during the Christmas service as countries around the World tighten security ahead of the celebration.

Armed soldiers patrol in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral, France, as part of heightened security for Christmas This is coming as Christian around the World, especially in Islamic nations have heightened security alert following the threats of attacks and the bombing of a Methodist Church in Pakistan.

Security and threats of attacks had reached a precarious state after U.S. President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The recognition was followed by several meetings of Islamic countries and groups while some of the groups have threatened to visit mayhem on the World. However, it is not so for Muslims in Indonesia as they have vowed that they would provide security for their “brothers” who are celebrating Christmas. The Muslim volunteers in Indonesia, the largest Muslim-majority country, are already on standby to provide additional security if requested.

“If our brother and sisters who celebrate Christmas need … to maintain their security to worship, we will help,” said YaqutChiolilQoumas, chairman of the youth wing of the NahdlatulUlema, one of the country’s biggest Muslim organizations. Indonesia suffered a Christmas attack in year 2000 when over 20 persons were killed. The country has now stepped up security to forestall any recurrence. Christmas church services and other celebrations are being held this weekend under the gaze of armed guards and security cameras in many countries.

Other countries tighten security Majority-Muslim countries in Asia and the Middle East were particularly nervous after U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent announcement, a decision that has left many Muslims outraged. In Cairo, where a bombing at the Egyptian capital’s largest Coptic cathedral killed at least 25 people last December, the interior ministry said police would conduct regular searches of streets around churches ahead of the Coptic celebration of Christmas on Jan. 7. Egypt’s Christian minority has been targeted in several attacks in recent years, including the bombing of two churches in the north of the country on Palm Sunday in April. At the Heliopolis Basilica, a Catholic cathedral in northeastern Cairo, security forces had set up metal detectors at the main doors and police vehicles were stationed outside ahead of masses on Dec. 25, which marks Christmas Day for Catholic and Protestant Christians. German police brought in experts and an explosives robot to investigate a suspicious package at a Christmas market in the city of Bonn late on Friday. Germany is on high alert a year after a failed Tunisian asylum seeker killed 12 people when he hijacked a truck and drove it into a Berlin Christmas market.

vanguardngr.com/2017/12/christmas-muslims-offer-guard-churches-indonesia-2/

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Houthis Impose their 'Rhetoric' in Sanaa Mosques

Saturday, 23 December, 2017 - 07:30

Houthi militias imposed on Friday their rhetoric during Friday’s prayers celebrated at the mosques of Sana’a and the provinces they control, by ordering Imams to mobilize worshipers to fight at the battle fronts and to donate blood and food, basing their order on a “divine power” provided to their militants and leader Abdullah al-Houthi.

The orders were written in an official circular distributed on Friday by Houthi employers at the offices of the “Endowments and Guidance,” a step that pushed worshipers in Sana’a to leave the mosques, now controlled by Houthi militants.

The worshipers prefer to pray at home after the places of worships were transformed into militia headquarters, which have no relation with their ideologies.

Since controlling Sana’a and other areas in Yemen, Houthi militants worked on removing the moderate mosque preachers and, instead, on appointing extremist imams, who are close to them.

Meanwhile, the Saudi State-owned Ikhbariya television reported on Friday that 19 relatives and figures close to late former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh arrived on Friday to Saudi Arabia after being capable to flee the Houthi terror.

The Saudi-led International Alliance facilitated their safe trip.

Also on Friday, Oman’s official news agency reported that 22 relatives of Saleh arrived in Oman after fleeing from the Houthi movement in Sana’a.

Their safe escape to Saudi Arabia and Oman came as Yemen's prime minister Ahmad Obeid Bin Daghr uncovered the presence of serious movements to reorganize the internal ranks of the “General People’s Congress” party.

Houthi militias were continuing to commit crimes against the supporters of Saleh and members of his GPC party.

Sources from the Congress party in Sana’a said that Houthi militias broke into the house of Major General Mohammed Abdullah al-Kawsi, an Interior Minister at the previous coup government.

The fate of al-Qawsi and a number of other military officials, is still unknown.

aawsat.com/english/home/article/1121571/houthis-impose-their-rhetoric-sanaa-mosques

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Muslims cannot join candlelight vigils for Kim Jong-hyun; it is haram: Perak Mufti

December 23, 2017 @ 1:10pm

KUALA LUMPUR: Muslims are forbidden from joining candlelight vigils in memory of the late Korean pop star Kim Jong-hyun who committed suicide this week, Perak Mufti Tan Sri HarussaniZakaria said.

He said such activity is against Islamic teachings and is akin to "glorifying" Kim's death.

"No, you can't do that because it is haram. If the artist or individual was a Muslim, then we should recite Al-Fatihah for him. But if the person was a non-Muslim, why are we praying for him to go to heaven?

"On top of that, he committed suicide. Why are we following the culture of infidels? What will you get out of it?"

"Besides, there are better things we can do rather than mourn a celebrity who took his own life," Harussani said when contacted.

Kim, 27, who was the frontman of Korean pop group SHINee, was found unconscious at a private hotel in Seoul on Dec 18. He died at hospital.

Police are treating his death as a suicide based on a report made by Kim's sister.

The singer-songwriter also left a suicide note in which he said that he was "broken from the inside".

On Friday, over 100 fans of Kim from various ethnic and religious backgrounds gathered near Dataran Merdeka for a candlelight vigil in memory of him.

Participants were seen holding up candles, balloons, flowers and glow sticks as they mourned Kim.

In 2015, the National Fatwa Council declared that it is forbidden for Muslims to join a candlelight vigil, as the activity is deemed to be similar to the practices of the followers of other faiths.

nst.com.my/news/nation/2017/12/317535/muslims-cannot-join-candlelight-vigils-kim-jong-hyun-it-haram-perak-mufti

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Islamic Market draws large crowds to Taipei's Daan Forest Park

The event was held in celebration of the 80th anniversary of the Chinese Muslim Association

By Maggie Huang,Taiwan News, Staff Reporter

2017/12/23 18:57

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Large crowds packed Daan Forest Park as the Islamic Market kicked off on an unseasonably warm day Saturday morning.

Collaboratively organized by the Chinese Muslim Association and the Department of Information and Tourism of the Taipei City Government, the event featured 60 vendors selling items ranging from jewelry and other handmade crafts to Halal certificated food and cultural activities.

The event was held in celebration of the 80th anniversary of the Chinese Muslim Association, which is dedicated to promoting a more Muslim-friendly environment in Taiwan as well as introducing Muslim culture to Taiwanese people.

Islam has 1.8 billion adherents, making up about 24 percent of the world population, while each country has a lot of differences from the others and the culture among them can be quite diverse. Among the 60 vendors, each of them features a different Muslim country worldwide from Central Asia, Indonesia, Middle East, South Asia, North Africa, attracting many people who are interested in knowing more about Islam to come and experience an exotic weekend.

The most popular vendors are those featuring culture activities. There are a few booths for visitors to receive a temporary henna tattoo which attracted a crowd to the venue, and another booth featuring Arabic calligraphy name writing also has a long line in front of it. The calligraphers from the Muslim Student Association write visitors’ names in Arabic calligraphy, and visitors can keep the artwork for free.

Other highly favored vendors from the events are cultural advocates of Morocco, Turkey, and Iran. A Moroccan /Taiwanese couple dedicating to introducing Moroccan culture brought Moroccan argan oil and handmade leather bags to their booth, a Turkish shop sells sweets brought from a renowned Turkish bakery KarakoyGulluoglu, and an Iranian booth has the most authentic Iranian snacks and local products, such as sweet dates and one of the world's costliest spices, saffron.

Yu Cheng-Tai, the Managing Supervisor of the Chinese Muslim Association, indicated that most Taiwanese people are not familiar with Islam culture, while some even hold misunderstandings towards it. In fact, Islam is a religion of tolerance. “Some people might find the mosque unapproachable, however, it is actually a place where we hold a lot of social events that not only welcome Muslims but also people from other religions,” he added.

taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3327027

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Philippine Muslims condemn U.S. decision on Jerusalem

23.12.2017

Muslims on the island of Mindanao condemned U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The denunciation comes on the heels as 128 countries voted on Thursday in favor of a UN General Assembly resolution, rejecting the U.S. president's decision.

The ulama and learned Muslims earlier called Trump's declaration as malicious and an insult not only to the Palestinian people but to the Muslim Ummah (Nation) and the International community.

"This is a blatant disrespect, and disregard to the Palestinians traditional right over the city, and major religions that hold East Jerusalem sacred," Nomaire Bin Hussen, Chairman of Bangsamoro Action Against Injustices, said in a statement.

Part of their manifesto said: "We, the concerned Bangsamoro leaders denounce this move by U.S. President Trump in the strongest terms possible, and we also call on the entire Muslim Ummah to unite, preserve and protect the Holy site."

The Cotabato-based Da’wah Council said Trump's Jerusalem decision is a big issue for the 1.8 billion Muslim Ummah around the world.

They also called for a boycott of U.S. and Israel products and urged a Fatwa that prohibits the Muslims from buying any products from these two countries.

Meanwhile, Governor MujivHataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was jubilated over the UN General Assembly's vote to reject Trump's decision on Jerusalem.

"We are very happy to the UN declaration for not supporting the position of the US president. At least the UN stood up on its old resolutions," Hataman told local reporters Friday night.

Denouncing Trump's move to transfer the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the ARMM governor said it will only breed more extremism and create more violence.

To the Muslims, Hataman said the Al-Aqsa mosque, situated in East Jerusalem, is a place of great religious significance and one of the Meccas of Islam believers.

"We, Muslims, in Mindanao thank the UN for its position and we also thank the countries that voted together against Trump's declaration," he said.

aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/philippine-muslims-condemn-us-decision-on-jerusalem-/1012946

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Europe

UN Envoy: US, Turkish Military Forces Must Leave Syria

Sat Dec 23, 2017 11:32

Al-Jaafari made the demand during the latest round of Syrian peace negotiations in the Kazakh capital city of Astana, press tv reported.

On October 13, Turkish troops travelling in a convoy of 12 armored vehicles entered Northern Syria in a new military operation.

Turkish media sources said the convoy included about 80 soldiers.

Local sources said the troops were headed towards the Western part of Aleppo province.

The development came after Turkish officials said they were sending troops into Syria to enforce a de-escalation zone in Idlib, which is largely controlled by Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) terrorist alliance.

The de-escalation zone forms part of an agreement reached between Turkey, Iran and Russia.

Syrian congress of national dialogue will be held in Sochi in late Jan.

Meanwhile, a joint statement released after two days of talks in Kazakhstan said delegations from Russia, Iran and Turkey, Syrian government representatives as well as a 20-member opposition team had agreed to hold a “peace congress” in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi as part of efforts to find a political solution to the six-year-old Syrian conflict.

The statement said the congress will be held between January 29 and 30 next year, and “all segments of the Syrian society” will participate in it.

It added “To this end three guarantors (Russia, Turkey and Iran) will hold a special preparation meeting in Sochi before the congress.”

Last week, the eighth round of UN-backed Syria peace talks in Geneva, Switzerland, ended without progress.

UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan De Mistura, described the talks as a missed opportunity.

Previous rounds of Geneva negotiations have failed to achieve results, mainly due to the opposition’s insistence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should cede power.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961002000504

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Christmas as a Muslim: 'My mom was always careful that we'd never feel left out'

December 23, 2017 - 10:26 AM

GROWING UP, I’VE always loved Christmas, as much as a Muslim can without actually “celebrating” it. The songs, the lights that bring cheer to dull winter streets, the festive movies and the genuine joy that is sparked at this time of the year are mesmerising.

Some of my greatest childhood memories are that of my mom, dressing up as Santa Claus, dropping off a big bag of toys for us.

We never felt left out

As kids, my mom always got us gifts for Christmas, and took us on numerous Santa visits. She was careful that we’d never feel left out among our Christian community, or be the foreign kid in every playschool who ruins Christmas for everyone else by telling them that Santa isn’t real.

It wasn’t until I was about 8 or 9 that I was told why Santa stopped coming, and why we don’t put up a Christmas tree or celebrate Christmas.

In my house, we’ve never celebrated Christmas. It was always just a regular day and sometimes it could be inconvenient, for example when my mum would forget to pick up milk or a kitchen necessity that we’d be stuck without for the day.

Nevertheless, not celebrating Christmas in no way stopped us from counting down the days, watching Home Alone, or listening to our favourite Christmas albums all through December.

My very first Christmas

Last year, my friend Ruth and her family invited me to their home for my very first Christmas. It was such a warm gesture for Ruth’s parents to have me over on a day that is so special and all about family. I felt very special, sitting around the table with them.

That day, I spent my entire morning singing along to Michael Buble’s Christmas album while I made breakfast, got dressed and applied my make-up. I headed up to Ruth’s house for 12.30pm, and was greeted by several chants of ”Merry Christmas”, a big hug from Lorraine, her mum, at the door, swiftly followed by John, her dad and

a “sup” from Ruth.

Despite her hate for hugs and Christmas, Ruth didn’t squirm too much when I hugged her and wished her a merry Christmas.

Christmas – it means hugs

Christmas – it brings out the warmth in everybody. Ruth and I lounged about and ate an entire pack of Rafaellos while she forced me to watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine. After dinner we watched Home Alone for the millionth time.

All I can say about Christmas dinner is, if you haven’t had it, you must, and if you have, you will understand that I am not understating when I say it is nothing short of glorious.

I nearly converted by my third bite in. Lorraine had made such an effort in making sure I was comfortably guested, in regards to dietary requirements and ensuring there was Coke chilled for my arrival.

It was such a heart-warming feeling, just being there, sitting at the table with Ruth, her parents and family, with good food, good wine (Coke in my case), sharing stories and laughing.

Overall, it was an experience that I will forever cherish, remember, and am grateful to have experienced with people who I love very dearly.

thejournal.ie/readme/christmas-as-a-muslim-my-mom-was-always-careful-that-wed-never-feel-left-out-3739392-Dec2017/

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Mosques launch legal challenge to council's ban on 'cruel' halal meat in schools - claiming it didn't consult community over decision

23 December 2017

By Lara Keay For Mailonline

A group of mosques has launched a legal challenge against their local council after it vowed to ban 'cruel' halal meat in schools.

Lancashire County Council's new contract would have required all schools to serve meat from non-halal suppliers, after the council leader said not stunning animals before slaughter, like in Islam,  is 'abhorrent' and 'really cruel'.

The council passed a motion in October to ban contracts with any supplier who did do not stun livestock before they are killed.

But the move has been put on hold after an immense backlash from the Muslim community.

The Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM) is calling for a judicial review and a regional boycott of school meals if it goes ahead.

Abdul Hamid Qureshi, CEO of the Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM), claims the council did not consult before making the controversial decision.

He told the Daily Telegraph: 'They reached the decision without any consultation.

'They should have communicated with the community that are most affected by it. They did not follow the correct process.'

Responding to the Conservative Cllr Geoff Driver's CBE comments about non-stunning animals being 'cruel', he told the newspaper:  'We can't accept that position.

'It is hurtful and negative. Our community really objects to that.'

A statement on the group' website reads: 'Lancashire Council of Mosques is calling for a region-wide boycott of school meals following the decision by Lancashire County Council to stop providing Halal meals in accordance with the universal criteria of Halal.

'LCM regrets the failure of the council to consult with its stakeholders prior to the decision, despite the two organisations having worked together in collaboration over the past decade. It is with great regret that once again the issue has been politicised unnecessarily and will only serve to increase Islamophobia and antisemitism. 

'LCM remains committed to equality and human treatment of animals and believes in the rights of faith communities to exercise their religious requirements in accordance with the law.' 

Lancashire currently supplies 27 schools with 'unstunned' halal meat, catering for up to 12,000 children who eat a total of 1.2million meals a year.

Cllr Driver said the new contract is being put on hold and halal meat will continue to be dished out under the current contract until the legal dispute is resolved.

He told the Telegraph:  'If it is felt that we haven't consulted appropriately before we made the decision we will do that because we clearly don't want to either break the law or cause the county council any unnecessary expenditure.'

MailOnline has contacted the council for further comment.

LCM boycotted school meals when the council tried to ban non-stunned meat in 2013.

A council report at the time revealed a 'significant drop' in both halal and non-halal school lunches.

Under UK law all farm animals must be stunned before slaughter, but offers a religious exemption for halal and kosher meat.

Halal meat has to be produced in coherence with Islamic law, which means the animal must be healthy and cut through the jugular vein, carotid artery and windpipe when it is killed.

The blood is then drained from the carcass.

According to the Halal Food Authority, stunning cannot be used to kill an animal, a non-profit organisation that monitors adherence to halal principles. But it can be used if the animal survives and is then killed by halal methods.

The Department for Education's guidance states that schools should make reasonable adjustments for pupils with particular requirements, like those of a particular faith or religious background.

dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5208075/Lancashire-mosques-legal-action-against-council-halal-ban.html

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South Asia

A-29s pound Taliban targets in Kunduz leaving 6 militants dead, wounded

By Khaama Press - Sat Dec 23 2017, 12:17 pm

At least six militants were killed or wounded in a series of airstrikes conducted by the Afghan Air Force in northern Kunduz province of Afghanistan.

The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan army in a statement said the Afghan Air Force A-29 light attack planes carried out a string of airstrikes on Taliban targets in Dasht-e-Archi district.

The statement further added that two Taliban insurgents were killed as a result of the airstrikes conducted in SehRahi Mohammad Alm village and Tapa-e-Mohibullah.

At leat four Taliban insurgents were also wounded, two of their hideouts were destroyed and some weapons including a rocket launched, one PKM machine gun, and two Ak-47s were destroyed, the statement added.

The anti-government armed militant groups including the Taliban insurgents have not commented regarding the report so far.

Kunduz is among the relatively volatile provinces in North of Afghanistan where the anti-government armed militant groups actively operate in its various districts and often carry out insurgency activities.

Earlier, a shadow district governor of the Taliban group was killed by a mine planted by his own fighters in this province.

The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan army in the North said last week that the district shadow governor of the Taliban for Khanabad was killed after stepping on a mine planted by the Taliban fighters.

The Silab Corps officials said MawlaviDost Mohammad was attempting to escape from the Afghan forces during an operation.

khaama.com/a-29s-pound-taliban-targets-in-kunduz-leaving-6-militants-dead-wounded-04102

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Taliban’s IED expert famous as Osama killed in NDS operation

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sat Dec 23 2017

A prominent Taliban group figure and explosives expert of the group was killed during an operation of the Afghan intelligence operatives, National Directorate of Security (NDS), in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The provincial government media office in Nangarhar in a statement said the Taliban explosives expert famous as Osama was killed during a night raid on Friday.

The statement further added that the operation was conducted in Surkh Rod district and as a result another militant was arrested and a rifle was also confiscated.

In the meantime, the provincial government said at least three Taliban fighters hailing from Pakistan were also killed in a US drone strike in Ghani Khel district.

In another operation the Afghan security forces arrested four individuals on suspicion of having links with the terror groups, the statement added.

The anti-government armed militant groups including the Taliban insurgents have not commented regarding the reports so far.

Nangarhar is among the relatively calm provinces in East of Afghanistan but the security situation of the province has started to deteriorate during the recent years.

khaama.com/talibans-ied-expert-famous-as-osama-killed-in-nds-operation-04103

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ISIS has over 10,000 fighters in Afghanistan, more arriving from Syria & Iraq – Moscow

Published time: 23 Dec, 2017 09:04

 The terrorist group Islamic State has over 10,000 loyal fighters in Afghanistan, and Moscow believes the US may be underestimating their threat, Russia’s special envoy says.

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) was pushed out of their home base in Syria and Iraq this year by separate military operations of a US-led coalition, and the Syrian Army backed by Russia. Many of the IS fighters who fled those countries ended up in Afghanistan, where the terrorist group has as many as 10,000 troops at the moment, ZamirKabulov, the head of the Middle East department in the Russian Foreign Ministry, said.

“Russia was among the first nations to ring alarm about the expansion of IS into Afghanistan,” he told RIA Novosti. “Lately IS has boosted its presence in the country. Our estimate is that their force there is stronger than 10,000 troops and is continuing to grow. That includes new fighters with combat experience received in Syria and Iraq.”

IS forces are strongest in the north of Afghanistan on the border with Tajikistan and Turkmenistan – a point of concern for Russia, which has close historic ties with both nations, Kabulov added.

“IS goals are definitely to expand its influence outside of Afghanistan, which they use as a staging ground. This poses a significant security threat for Central Asia and southern parts of Russia,” Kabulov stressed.

The diplomat said Russia and the US have a difference of opinion about how big a threat IS poses in Afghanistan and Central Asia. Washington, he said, is focused on fighting the Taliban and is in the process of alienating other nations in the region, which America criticizes for failing to put enough pressure on the militant movement, while overlooking its own failures.

READ MORE: Welcome to the gray zone: Why the numbers don't add up for Trump's failing Afghanistan war

“Considering the realities on the ground, which is that the Taliban controls half of the country, one can ask the question: does the US pull its weight? Russia stands for cooperation with international partners based on equality and which takes into account national interests of all nations of the region,” Kabulov said, apparently referring to Washington’s resent showdown with Pakistan.

The US accused Islamabad of failing to properly fight the Taliban and threatened it with repercussions unless Pakistan ramps up counterinsurgency operations in its tribal areas. The criticism sparked some anti-America sentiment among Pakistani military commanders.

Kabulov said Moscow was prepared to work together with Washington to foster stability in Afghanistan, and said it was America’s decision to stop such cooperation, not Russia’s. In April, Moscow invited the US to take part in Russia-hosted Afghanistan peace talks, but the US declined to participate.

rt.com/news/414048-afghanistan-isis-numbers-rise/

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Noor vows to defy Ghani’s decision and continue to his work as Balkh governor

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sat Dec 23 2017

The Chief Executive of Jamiat-e-Isalami Ata Mohammad Noor has vowed to defy the recent decision by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and continue working as the provincial governor of the northern Balkh province.

Speaking during a gathering in northern Balkh province, Noor said none one can dismiss him as the governor of Balkh province by issuing a decree, insisting that the political party he is representing is one of the main sides which played a key role in the formation of the government of national unity.

He said the presidential elections in 2014 was one of the worst elections the country and was marred massively by fraud by it was the Jamiat-e-Islami which gave a legitimacy to the process.

According to Noor, he entered into negotiations with the government representing the strong stance of the Jamiat-e-Islami and not as an ordinary governor representing the Balkh province.

He said the Jamiat party is the main piller of the unity government and no one can sideline him as an ordinary government employee, emphasizing that he will continue to his work as the governor of the Balkh province in a bid to prevent the spread of the Taliban and ISIS in Balkh

In other parts of his speech, Noor harshly cricized the Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and called him a ‘snake up in own sleeve’ and accused him of conspiring against the party which helped him reach to power.

This comes as the Office of the President announced Monday that President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has approved the resignation of Balkh governor Ata Mohammad Noor.

The Office of the President in a statement said Mr. Noor had resigned from his position as the governor of Balkh province a while ago.

The statement further added that President Ghani has approved his resignation and Engineer Mohammad Daud has been appointed as the new governor of Balkh province.

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Mideast

Israeli Soldiers Abduct Four Turkish Citizens Near Al-Aqsa Mosque

December 23, 2017 2:35 AM

Israeli soldiers abducted, on Friday evening, four Turkish citizens after assaulting them near Bab al-Qattanin, leading to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in occupied Jerusalem.

Eyewitnesses said the four were among a group of Turkish citizens, who were heading to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, while wearing traditional uniforms, which also included the Turkish flag, but the soldiers stopped and searched them, and demanded them to remove their uniforms.

The Turkish group left to their hotel, removed their uniforms and tried to enter again wearing ordinary clothes, but the soldiers started pushing them around, and assaulted them.

The army then abducted one of the Turkish citizens in font of Bab al-Qattanin (Gate of the Cotton Merchants), and three threes near Bab al-Silsila (Chain Gate).

imemc.org/article/israeli-soldiers-abduct-four-turkish-citizens-near-al-aqsa-mosque/

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Turkey-Backed Militants' Command Centers Destroyed in SDF's Heavy Fire in Northern Syria

Sat Dec 23, 2017 12:25

The Kurdish-language Hawar news reported that the Turkish Army troops and their militant allies attacked SDF's positions in the villages of Maranaz, al-Malekiyeh, Filat al-Qazi and Shawareqah in Shera region near the town of Afrin.

Hawar news further said that the SDF's artillery and mortar units retaliated and pounded the positions of the Ankara-backed militants in the town of Azaz, destroying a command center, a military vehicle and killing four militants.

Several Turkish soldiers were killed in the attack, some field reports said.

Clashes between the SDF and Ankara-sponsored militants are underway in Shirawa and al-Shahba regions in Northern Aleppo. 

Hawar news reported on Thursday that a number of militants backed by the Turkish army were killed and wounded in clashes with the SDF in Afrin region in Northern Aleppo.

Hawar news reported that the Turkish army and its affiliated militants launched offensives against the village of Burjak Suleiman and Badr Khan, Bashour and Barfin hills near the town of Afrin and attacked the two villages of Ain Daqneh and Mara'anaz in al-Shahba region with mortar fire.

Meantime, clashes between the two sides in the villages of Burjak Suleiman and TalatBarfin killed one of the snipers affiliated to the Turkish army and wounded another one.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961002000779

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Palestinian Injured During Clashes in Gaza Last Week Dies of Wounds

Sat Dec 23, 2017 2:26

It said Sharif Shalash, from Jabaliya, was admitted to hospital on Sunday after he was seriously injured from a live bullet wound to the stomach during clashes with Israeli soldiers, WAFA reported.

Shalash remained in critical condition until he was pronounced dead early Saturday.

Shalash’s death brings to nine the number of Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip and West Bank during three weeks of protests against the US declaration of Jerusalem as capital of Israel on in early December - seven in the Gaza Strip, including two shot dead in the Friday border protests, and two in the West Bank, including one killed after stabbing a soldier near Ramallah.

Four others were also killed in Gaza during the same period in Israeli air strikes.

US President Donald Trump announced early December that Washington would be recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital, stressing that the United States would relocate the embassy in the occupied lands from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.

The move was hailed by Israel but condemned by the rest of the international community as one which undermines the peace talks.

Washington’s al-Quds move has raised a chorus of outcry across the international community. The Muslim world, the UN, world leaders from Europe to the Middle East to Australia, and even US allies in the West have criticized the bid, saying it would plunge the already tumultuous region into new upheaval.

Heavy clashes also broke out between Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters after Washington's decision in Jerusalem al-Qud's Old City, Hebron (al-Khalil), Bethlehem and Nablus in the West Bank as well as the besieged Gaza Strip.

According to reports, thousands of Palestinians were wounded by Israeli army's fire during protests against the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, while over 500 were detained by Israeli forces and police. Also, a number of Palestinian demonstrators have been killed in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank during the protests against the US President’s decision on Jerusalem.

People in different countries have also hit the streets to denounce Trump's recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in a statement issued following an extraordinary summit in Turkey's Istanbul, declared East Jerusalem the capital of Palestine "under occupation" and urged the US to withdraw from the peace process and back down from its Jerusalem decision.

On Thursday, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) overwhelmingly passed a non-binding resolution condemning US President Donald Trump’s decision and called on states not to move their diplomatic missions to the sacred city. The UNGA vote followed the US veto of a UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution Monday. All other UNSC members voted in favor of a motion to rescind Donald Trump’s move.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961002000850

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Israel quits UNESCO over ‘attacks’ months after US withdrawal

Published time: 23 Dec, 2017 06:32

 Following in the footsteps of the US, Israel announced its exit from UNESCO, citing its “attacks” on the Jewish state. The move comes after 128 UN members voted to reject the US’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The decision was based on the UN-run agency’s “attempts to disconnect Jewish history from the land of Israel,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said. He added that the official letter of withdrawal will be submitted by the end of the year and that Israel will effectively leave the organization by the end of 2018.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed Israel’s envoy to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, to officially announce the withdrawal, Haaretz reports.

In doing so, Tel Aviv joins Washington, which announced in October that it will leave UNESCO due to its “continuing anti-Israel bias” and “the need for fundamental reform in the organization.” According to Haaretz, Netanyahu made the decision after a series of discussions centeredaround Israel’s desire to not leave the US isolated in the move.

According to UNESCO regulations, a member state’s exit takes effect on December 31 of the year after the official letter of intent is submitted. Even though the US made its official announcement earlier in October, both countries will leave the agency at the same time.

Israel’s announcement comes after 128 UN member states voted on Thursday at the General Assembly to reject US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state. Nine states voted against the resolution and 35 nations abstained.

Commenting on the vote, initiated by a number of Arab and Muslim countries, Prime Minister Netanyahu said he appreciated that “a growing number of countries refused to participate in this theater of the absurd.” He also thanked Trump and US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley “for their stalwart defense of Israel and their stalwart defense of the truth.”

Israel’s relationship with UNESCO has deteriorated since October 2016. Tel Aviv suspended ties with the organization after a draft resolution noted the importance of Jerusalem to three world religions – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam – but made no reference to why the city is significant to Christians or Jews.

“Just withdrawing, just leaving the field [of UNESCO] to others is not acceptable to many Israelis who also don’t think that the accent that some politicians put on the Jewish character of Israel is appropriate,” Amir Oren, an Israel-based columnist, told RT.

He said the decision to leave will hurt Israel’s cooperation in education, science and the arts, and possibly affect financial aid from UNESCO.

rt.com/news/414038-israel-withdraw-unesco-jerusalem/

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Abu Dhabi University, Emirates Islamic to provide financial assistance to students

Sat 23-12-2017 15:08 PM

 ABU DHABI, 23rd December, 2017 (WAM) -- Abu Dhabi University (ADU), recently hosted a delegation from the Emirates Islamic bank to discuss opportunities to support ADU’s students financially in obtaining their university degrees.

The visit aligns with ADU’s vision of empowering young people to shape the future through providing them with all relevant support.

Salem Mubarak Aldhaheri, Executive Director of Community Relations at ADU, welcomed the delegation led by Awatif Al Harmoody, General Manager operation Governance of Emirates Islamic, at the university’s Abu Dhabi campus.

Representatives of ADU’s and Emirates Islamic’s senior management also attended the meeting.

Speaking on the occasion, Salem Mubarak Aldhaheri said, "ADU continues to follow the legacy of the founding father of the UAE, late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who believed in the vital need to engage the nation’s young generation in economic, social, and cultural initiatives to achieve the country’s wider development goals."

Commenting on the initiative, Awatif Al Harmoody, said, "We, at Emirates Islamic, constantly strive to provide financial assistance to those who need it. Students are our foundation for the future and supporting them today will help create a happier and more prosperous UAE in the future. The contribution is in line with our commitment to the UAE's Year of Giving initiative, and embodies the spirit of giving according to the provisions of Shari’a."

ADU offers five types of scholarship programmes: H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Scholarship, Chairman’s scholarship, university scholarship, academic scholarship, and athletic scholarship. In addition, the University provides dedicated scholarships for graduate students and the Sanabil-Qutoof financial aid programme During the academic year 2016-2017, approximately 1,200 students benefitted from ADU’s scholarship programmes and financial aid valued at approximately AED20 million. In addition to the original amount of AED 8 million, the University allocated AED12 million to student support following the announcement of the Year of Giving during the second semester of the academic year.

wam.ae/en/details/1395302656031

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Tehran boasts Islamic unity against Trump’s Quds move

December 23, 2017

Vaezi made the remarks to reporters upon his arrival in Heydar Aliyev International Airport, Baku. He visited Baku to attend an international conference, titled “2017 – Year of Islamic Solidarity: Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue”.

He said Tehran is seeking to bring unity among Islamic countries and nations, IRNA reported.

tehrantimes.com/news/419593/Tehran-boasts-Islamic-unity-against-Trump-s-Quds-move

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Palestinian Protesters Killed in Gaza

Sat Dec 23, 2017 10:2

“Zakaria Al-Kafarneh, 24, died after being shot in the chest East of Jabaliya (in Northern Gaza),” a Gaza Health Ministry Spokesman said in a statement, Middle East Monitor reported.

The Israeli army confirmed that live rounds had been fired at protesters in Gaza.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza also added that a Palestinian, who was identified as Mohammed Mohaisen, 29, was killed by a fatal bullet to the chest during clashes that broke out to the East of Shajaianeighborhood.

There have been widespread protests across the occupied West Bank, Jerusalem and the besieged Gaza Strip against Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and plans to relocate the American embassy to the Holy City.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961002000302

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Arab World

Fierce Clashes among Terrorists Underway in Northwestern Syria

Sat Dec 23, 2017 10:57

The news websites reported that Al-Nusra stormed the positions of Faylaq al-Rahman in the town of Harbnoush in Northern Idlib, exchanging heavy fire.

The websites went on to say that Al-Nusra dispatched more fighters and military equipment to Harbnoush.

In the meantime, other sources said that Al-Nusra attacked warehouses of Faylaq in Harbnoush, adding that the Al-Nusra is planning to impose control over the positions and command centers of the so-called Free Idlib Province Council.  

Local sources conformed on Friday that the Al-Nusra militants deployed in SoutheasternIdlib launched a rapid assault on ISIL's positions along the region’s provincial border with Hama.

The Al-Nusra managed to advance with heavy fire of its artillery units.

The sources added that Al-Nusra tore through the ISIL defense lines and retook the villages of Dalat al-Huwaya, Huways Umm Jan, Huways Ibn Hadb and Ad Dablah as well as the key hilltop of JabalHawas.

Initially, the village of RasmHammam was also re-taken by Al-Nusra, however the ISIL managed to launch a counter-attack and claimed back the settlement.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961002000476

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Syrian Army One Step Closer to Purging Southern Idlib of Terrorists

Sat Dec 23, 2017 10:50

The sources said that the army's artillery and missile units shelled heavily Al-Nusra's strongholds in the towns and villages of Atshan, Tal Skeik and Um Hartin in Northern Hama near the border with Idlib.

They went on to say that the army's advances in Northern and Northeastern Hama have paved the way for the pro-government forces to further advances towards the towns of al-Tamanna and Khan Sheikhoun and later towards Ma'arat al-Nu'aman to free Southern Idlib.

The sources further said that the army men managed to advance against the Al-Nusra base in the town of Abu Dali in Northeastern Hama.     

Military sources reported on Friday that a large number of reinforcements from the Syrian Army’s Tiger Forces arrived in Northern Hama after spending several weeks in DeirEzzur province.

The sources said that a large number of the Tiger Forces’ Taha Group officially arrived in the town of Qomhana in Northern Hama.

The Taha Group is a seasoned unit from the Tiger Forces that has fought in several battles against the ISIL and Al-Nusra Front in Hama, Homs, and DeirEzzur provinces.

In addition to the reinforcements from the Tiger Forces, a large number of military personnel from the National Defense Forces (NDF) have moved towards the front-lines in Northern Hama, as they prepare to launch a major attack on the militant positions in Idlib province.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961002000373

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Syrian Army Sends More Troops, Equipment from DeirEzzur to Hama Province

Sat Dec 23, 2017 12:21

The sources said that the army forwarded more forces and equipment from the Eastern province of DeirEzzur to the town of Qomhana in Northern Hama, adding that the army is planning to kick off a large-scale operation in Southern and SoutheasternIdlib to liberate Abu al-Dhohour base.

The sources further said that the army has deployed more troops in Souran and Taybat al-Imam region in Northern Hama to drive terrorists out of the strategic town of al-Latamina.

Military sources reported on Friday that a large number of reinforcements from the Syrian Army’s Tiger Forces arrived in Northern Hama after spending several weeks in DeirEzzur province.

The sources said that a large number of the Tiger Forces’ Taha Group officially arrived in Qomhana in Northern Hama.

The Taha Group is a seasoned unit from the Tiger Forces that has fought in several battles against the ISIL and Al-Nusra Front in Hama, Homs, and DeirEzzur provinces.

In addition to the reinforcements from the Tiger Forces, a large number of military personnel from the National Defense Forces (NDF) have moved towards the front-lines in Northern Hama, as they prepare to launch a major attack on the militant positions in Idlib province.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961002000651

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Iraqi Popular Forces Deploy at Border with Syria

Sat Dec 23, 2017 11:34

“After several Iraqi border guard positions came under several attacks by missiles, the 13th Brigade of the Popular Mobilization Units was deployed and targeted the origins of the launch,” Mesleh said on Friday.

There was no immediate report on who exactly launched the attacks from Syrian territory. However, it is likely that after suffering a total defeat in Iraq and losing urban strongholds in Syria, the ISIL has resorted to guerrilla warfare against the Iraqi border guard troops.  

 “The operations command and the infantry brigade are now present on the Iraqi-Syrian border in border guard positions to repel any attack or movement by the enemy,” Mesleh further said, adding, “This area is not within the Hashd's remit but it is our duty to back up all security forces.”

Meanwhile, Brigadier General YahyaRasool, an Iraqi military spokesman, confirmed the deployment, saying it was temporary and “very normal” since it was the Hashd al-Shaabi's duty to back up government troops.

 “The primary responsibility for the borders lies with the border guards and the army, however,” he added.

The Iraqi Defense Ministry announced last week that the Iraqi forces carried out a fresh mop-up operations in a vast region between the provinces of Salahuddin and Diyala in the Northern part of the country, cleansing 25 villages.

The Iraqi ministry reported that the pro-government forces in large-scale mop-up operation in Masibijeh region between the province of Salahuddin and Diyala managed to clean 25 villages from the remaining pockets of ISIL terrorists.

The ministry further said that the mop-up operation was headed by the ground force, adding the country's volunteer forces of Hashd al-Shaabi participated in the operation.

The Iraqi forces destroyed 15 landmines, 2 trenches, 3 tunnels, 1 passageway, 2 bomb-laden motorbikes and a hideout of the ISIL in their operation. 

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961002000567

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Army Repels ISIL's Attack on Gov't Positions in Hama

Sat Dec 23, 2017 10:1

The terrorists' offensive to capture the government forces' positions in the Northern parts of Hama province were warded off by the strong defense of the Syrian military men.

Meantime, the Syrian army and popular forces continued their military advances in other parts of Syria, including Homs and Aleppo, over the past 24 hours.

Tens of terrorists were killed and dozens more were injured during the Syrian army's operations in other provinces across Syria.

Hama

The Syrian Army men, backed up by artillery and missile units, warded off terrorists' heavy offensive in Northern Hama, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.

The army men engaged in tough battle with terrorists that attacked the army positions in Zaleen and Zalaqiyat regions near the town of Mahrada in Northern Hama, killing and wounding a large number of militants.

In the meantime, the artillery and missile units hit the terrorists' positions in the town of al-Latamina and its outskirts.

Local sources reported that the army dispatched a military convoy to the towns of Taybat al-Imam and Halfaya in Northern Hama.

They added that the army would start a massive operation from this region to purge the al-Nusra terrorists from their important stronghold in al-Latamina.

Meantime, the Syrian fighter jets pounded the al-Nusra militants' positions in the region, inflicting heavy damages and tolls on the terrorists.

Hons

The Syrian Army troops warded off a heavy offensive of the ISIL in Southeastern Homs on Friday and managed to kill a large number of terrorists.

The army men exchanged heavy fire with ISIL in Humeimeh region in Southeastern Homs and repelled the terrorists' attacks.

ISIL left behind a large number of forces dead and pulled the remaining pockets of its fighters back from the battlefield.

In the meantime, the army's artillery and missile units shelled terrorists' positions in the villages of al-Ameriyeh, Ein Hossein al-Janoubi and al-Sa'an al-Aswad region after the terrorists violated the ceasefire and targeted the army positions near the village of al-Ameriyeh in Northeastern Homs.

A number of positions and military vehicles of the terrorists were destroyed in the attack.

Quneitra

The Syrian Army's artillery and missile units launched a heavy shelling on the movements of the Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) in Northern Quneitra and blocked the terrorists' to move towards Southwestern Damascus, military sources said on Friday.

The artillery and missile units opened heavy fire at Al-Nusra's movement in a region near al-Hamr hills, the sources said, adding that the Al-Nusra column was trying to move to Beit Jinn Farms and the town of Mughur al-Mir in Southwestern Damascus via AjrajJabata region.

A number of militants were killed and their arms and ammunition were destroyed under the army's heavy fire.

In the meantime, the army men clashed with terrorists deployed on al-Hamr hills and inflicted major losses on their positions East of the town of Hadhar in Northern Quneitra.

Idlib

The Al-Nusra Front terrorists managed to push their ISIL rivals back from the regions the latter had captured in Southern Idlib, local sources conformed on Friday.

The sources said that the Al-Nusra militants deployed in SoutheasternIdlib launched a rapid assault on ISIL's positions along the region’s provincial border with Hama.

The Al-Nusra managed to advance with heavy fire of its artillery units.                  

The sources added that Al-Nusra tore through the ISIL defense lines and retook the villages of Dalat al-Huwaya, Huways Umm Jan, Huways Ibn Hadb and Ad Dablah as well as the key hilltop of JabalHawas.

Initially, the village of RasmHammam was also re-taken by Al-Nusra, however the ISIL managed to launch a counter-attack and claimed back the settlement.

Aleppo

The Syrian Army troops warded off terrorist groups' heavy attack in Southern Aleppo on Friday, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.

The army men engaged in heavy fighting with terrorists in a region between the town of Khan Touman and Air Defense Battalion Base and fended off their attack after killing a number of them and destroying their equipment.

In the meantime, the army's artillery and missile units pounded terrorists' positions in the village of Hobar and Rmeileh and Siyaleh regions in Southern Aleppo, killing or wounding a number of terrorists.

Meantime, a large number of terrorists of the Al-Nusra Front were killed after the group's command centers in Northwestern Aleppo was hit badly by a bomb explosion, dissident-affiliated websites reported on Friday.

The websites reported that a bomb went off in Al-Nusra's command center in Khan al-Asal region in Northwestern Aleppo, killing a number of terrorists and wounding several more.

The websites said that some of the injured are in critical conditions, adding that the bomb was planted in Al-Nusra's command center by unknown assailants.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961002000226

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Syrian Army Makes Fresh Gains in War on Terrorism in Southwestern Damascus

Sat Dec 23, 2017 10:10

The army men launched a fresh offensive on Al-Nusra positions near the small town of Beit Jinn and drove the terrorists out of al-Tamathiyat and al-Hanqarat regions South of al-Awaj River and East of Beit Jinn Farm.

The army soldiers imposed military control over a large area in Beit Jinn Farm and also cut off the only road between Beit Jinn Farm and the two towns of Beit Jinn and Mughur al-Mir. 

A field sources said that the army has captured the strategic al-Hanaker region that enabled the pro-government forces to tighten noose on terrorists in Mughur al-Mir. 

A field source confirmed on Thursday that the army intensified its missile and artillery fire against al-Nusra bases and moves in Tal Za'arta and Mughur al-Mir in the Eastern parts of Beit Jinn farms, stressing that a large number of terrorists have been killed and tens of others have fled the battleground towards Beit Jinn farms.

He added that Beit Jinn was fully surrounded after all roads linking the terrorists in Beit Jinn from the Northeastern and Southeastern front were cut and the army regained military control over Nahr al-Awaj- the only road linking terrorists in Beit Jinn to Tal Marwan and Mughur al-Mir.

Also, based on the field reports, a number of al-Nusra terrorists made attempts to flee to occupied Golan from Jabal al-Sheikh passageway following the army's advance in the region and imposing heavy defeats on the terrorists.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961002000271

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Iraqi Shia militias deploy to Syrian border to back guard forces

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), were deployed to the Iraqi border with Syria to support border guard troops who came under fire from within Syria in the past few days, a militia commander said on Friday.

There was no immediate comment on who opened fire from the Syrian territory, but forces fighting the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria believe the extremist group was responsible after losing its strongholds in the urban areas in early 2017.

“After several Iraqi border guard positions came under missile attacks, and backup from security forces was late, the PMF’s 13th brigade was deployed and targeted the origin of the launch,” PMF commander for west Anbar, QassemMesleh, said in a statement.

“Operations command and the infantry brigade are now present on the Iraqi-Syrian border in border guard positions to repel any attack or movement by the enemy,” Mesleh explained.

“This area is not within the PMF’s remit, but it is our duty to back up all security forces,” he added.

Both Kurds and Sunni Muslims have repeatedly called on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to disarm the Shia group, accusing the PMF of widespread abuses against civilians in the country.

Brigadier General YahyaRasool recently told Reuters the PMF deployment was temporary and “very normal” because it was the Shia militia’s duty to support government troops.

On Dec. 9, Iraqi forces liberated the last bits of land under IS control along the border with Syria, securing the western desert.

The victory marked the end of the war against the militant group, three years after they overran about a third of Iraq’s territory.

Rasool, a military spokesperson, denied that back up to the border guards had been late, noting that “the primary responsibility of border security belongs to the boder guards and the army.”

He said Iraqi forces coordinate with the Syrian army, Iran, and Iranian-backed militias, as well as the US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab forces known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

kurdistan24.net/en/news/f272f5b5-202f-44af-84b8-c04c6fc7ed28

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Africa

Muslim mob lays siege to Christian church in Egypt

December 23, 2017 11:39 GMT

An Egyptian Coptic Christian diocese says hundreds of Muslim demonstrators have assaulted one of its churches.

The diocese in Atfih said Saturday in a statement that the incident in Giza just outside Cairo took place after Friday prayers when demonstrators gathered outside the building and stormed it.

The demonstrators chanted hostile slogans and called for the church's demolition, the statement says. It says they destroyed the church's contents and assaulted Christians inside before security personnel arrived and dispersed them.

It also said the wounded were transferred to a nearby hospital but didn't elaborate. The church, yet to be sanctioned by the state, has been observing prayers for 15 years.

Coptic Christians make up about 10% of Egypt's 96 million population. Islamic extremists have targeted them in a sereis of brutal attacks in recent years.

In October, CCTV footage captured the brutal moment a Coptic Orthodox priest was stabbed in the back several times in Egypt's capital, Cairo.

Father SamaanShehata was collecting humanitarian aid for his parish in BeniSuef on 12 October when a man started chasing him with a large knife. He died from serious stab wounds in hospital later that day.

In May, at least 29 people were killed when the Islamic State (Isis) terror group attacked a bus heading to the Saint Samuel monastery, near Minya.

Another 29 people were killed when an Isis suicide bomber targeted St Mark's Coptic Cathedral in Cairo last December.

In February 2015, Isis circulated images of its militants executing 21 Coptic Christians who had been kidnapped from Sirte, Libya. In response, Egypt launched air strikes targeting Isis positions.

ibtimes.co.uk/muslim-mob-lays-siege-christian-church-egypt-1652672

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Two Islamic Movement members arrest in Jigawa

December 23, 2017 - 10:26 AM

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Heavily armed Soldiers of Operation Lafiya Dole have arrested two members of the Islamic Movement living in Tsangarwa of Gwaram Local government of Jigawa state.

A statement yesterday by its spokesperson Ibrahim Musa said "the soldiers who arrived the town in 3 trucks conducted a house to house search on members of the Islamic Movement, claiming they were tipped that members of the Islamic Movement in the town were piling up arms with a view to taking revenge for the Zaria massacre by the military in December 2015.

"This ridiculous allegation is clearly a pretence by soldiers to execute their hidden sinister motives".

According to him, the movement will never resort to violence in the pursuit of its ideologies and objectives

"We have always made it clear times without number that Sheikh Zakzaky-led Islamic Movement in Nigeria is a peaceful mass Movement, whose forty-year history is devoid of any resort to violence in the pursuit of its objectives. Not even after the murderous mission of the military in Zaria, were arms recovered as attested by the report of the Kaduna state Commission of Inquiry.

"This is a clear vindication of our position on use of arms, that only the insane would use weapons to propagate ideas rather than positive thinking, reasoning and use of proofs," the movement said.

The movement, therefore, condemned the military action and called for the unconditionally release of their members immediately, adding that they have committed no offence.

en.abna24.com/news/africa/two-islamic-movement-members-arrest-in-jigawa_873740.html

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Buhari commends imams’ league for prayers during sickness

December 23, 2017

JesusegunAlagbe

President Muhammadu Buhari has commended the League of Imams and Alfas in Yorubaland, Edo and Delta states for praying for him during his periods of illness.

According to a communiqué by the league’s Aare Musulumi, AlhajiDaudMakanjuola, and its Publicity Secretary, Sheikh Habeebulah Adam Al-Ilory, the President made the commendation during the 55th anniversary conference of the group which held during the week at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Buhari had travelled to London, United Kingdom on January 19 for medical treatment for an undisclosed illness, spending 49 days in the hospital.

He had travelled to the UK for medical check-up again on May 7, a situation that led to several criticisms, as well as prayers for the septuagenarian.

According to the imams’ and alfas’ league, the President, in a goodwill message sent to them during their conference, thanked them for their prayers for him when he was ill.

The statement said, “In his goodwill message, President Buhari, who thanked the league for their prayers for him when he took ill, congratulated the league on the commendable tradition of sustenance in a country where organisations hardly survive their founders and promoters.

“While recommending the conduct of the league to other religious bodies in Nigeria, he expressed his profound appreciation for the outstanding performance of one of their ambassadors, Prof.Is’haqOloyede, whose performance and integrity at the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, is unprecedented in the history of any government agency in Nigeria.”

The statement added that dignitaries who attended the conference were former President Olusegun Obasanjo; Ooni of Ife, Oba AdeyeyeOgunwusi; Ogun State Governor, Senator IbikunleAmosun; the Special Adviser to President Buhari on Political Matters, Senator BabafemiOjudu; and the President, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and Sultan of Sokoto, AlhajiSa’adAbubakar, who was represented by the Secretary-General, NSCIA, Prof Is’haqOloyede.

Meanwhile, while declaring the conference open, Amosun urged the league to continue to pray and work for the unity, peace and development of not only their regions, but the entire country.

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All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.

punchng.com/buhari-commends-imams-league-for-prayers-during-sickness/

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Australia

‘What the hell?’ Muslim man punched at mosque ‘for not having an opinion’

7:50pm Dec 23, 2017

Police are hunting for a man who allegedly attacked a worshipper at a mosque in Adelaide’s south for refusing to engage in a political discussion.

CCTV posted to the Islamic Society of South Australia’s Facebook page yesterday shows a man entering the Marion Mosque in Park Holme around 9.30 last night.

The man approaches a worshipper, even shaking his hand, waiting for worshipper’s companion to leave before demanding to know the man’s view on Israel or Palestine.

“You must have some stand against American aggression,” the alleged attacker can be heard asking.

When the worshipper refuses to reply, the stranger punches him in the face, causing him to double over in pain.

“Ah, f--- man,” the victim can be heard saying, his nose badly injured in the vicious assault.

“Why? I did nothing to you. What the hell?”

The victim then looks for help as his attacker stands around, before leaving the mosque minutes later.

Islamic Society of SA president Ahmad Zreika said he is “very disappointed” by the attack, adding he believes it was sparked by anti-Islamic comments.

“We are worried now, and we don't know what will happen next,” Mr Zreika said.

Police told 9news.com.au the victim was treated at the scene by paramedics and that the suspect was not known to him. Inquiries are continuing.

It comes following two other attacks on the mosque this year. In April, eggs were hurled at the building, while in September a pig’s head was thrown over the fence.

Despite this, community leaders say members of the public will always be welcome to visit the mosque.

“This attack is not going to stop us from opening our doors,” Mr Zreika said.

9news.com.au/national/2017/12/23/16/01/muslim-man-attacked-at-adelaide-mosque

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North America

Iranian-American group lauds court gag on Trump's Muslim ban

23-12-17

'We celebrate today’s victory which brings affected families and impacted communities one step closer to reunification ... Congress must immediately act to defund this unconstitutional Muslim ban that tears families apart and makes America much less safe,' NIAC legal counsel ShayanModarres said in a statement.

Full text of the statement follows:

“We are reassured by the Ninth Circuit’s ruling today upholding Judge Watson’s decision to block President Trump’s third attempt at banning Muslims. Today marks another victory for democracy and fundamental American principles. The U.S. Constitution and the President’s attempts to achieve a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States simply cannot coexist.

“The Ninth Circuit has now been charged with upholding and defending our Constitution against this unconstitutional Muslim ban on two separate occasions. Both times they have answered the call by rejecting this administration’s attempts at banning Muslims.

“On the other hand, in the face of protests erupting in airports across the country, families being torn apart, weddings being postponed or canceled, and individuals being prevented from receiving much needed medical treatment, Congress has failed to act, and consequently, has allowed this unconstitutional expedition to ban Muslims to continue since January 27.

“We celebrate today’s victory which brings affected families and impacted communities one step closer to reunification. But we remain cognizant of the fight ahead. Congress must immediately act to defund this unconstitutional Muslim ban that tears families apart and makes America much less safe.

“In the same vein, we also call on Congress to immediately pass a clean DREAM Act and to terminate all other discriminatory Trump immigration policies. The promise of America does not belong to any one group. For this great American experiment to last, we must all feel welcomed and safe. The Congressional carelessness and neglect that has allowed our democracy to erode must end.”

irna.ir/en/News/82772696

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U.S. Ambassador Denies Anti-Muslim Comments, Then Denies Denial On Dutch TV

23/12/2017 4:49 AM IST

The U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands recently gave a bizarre interview to a Dutch journalist in which he denied making several comments, including one remark that he had made literally moments earlier.

Reporter WouterZwart of Dutch broadcaster NOS questioned Pete Hoekstra, who was sworn in as the new ambassador on Dec. 11, about anti-Muslim comments the former Republican congressman had made in 2015.

That year Hoekstra spoke on a panel called “Muslim Migration Into Europe: Eurabia Come True?” at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Restoration Weekend. In his remarks, the onetime lawmaker from Michigan referred to refugees as “invaders,” said Muslim migrants are “the next wave of jihadists in Europe,” and denounced the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a leading Muslim civil rights organization, as a “front organization for Hamas.”

Hoekstra warned of a “stealth jihad” taking place in the United States and Europe, and claimed that the Netherlands, his native country, was in a state of “chaos” due to the migration of Muslims.

“There are cars being burned. There are politicians that are being burned ... and yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands,” Hoekstra said.

Footage of the 2015 address is available on Vimeo.

Zwart was questioning the new ambassador about those comments, specifically his claim that there are “no-go zones” in the Netherlands. Hoekstra categorically denied that he ever made those remarks.

“I didn’t say that. That is actually an incorrect statement. We would call it fake news,” he said. “I never said that.”

The video of the interview then cut to a clip of Hoekstra making the exact comments he had just denied. When Zwart again pressed the ambassador, saying, “You call it fake news,” Hoekstra jumped in to deny that he had even said that.

“I didn’t call that fake news,” Hoekstra claimed. “I didn’t use the words today. I didn’t think I did.”

At that point, Zwart looked back at the camera, registering his own confusion.

Hoekstra was born in Groningen in the Netherlands in 1953 and immigrated to the United States with his family at age 3. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 2011.

When President Donald Trump announced Hoekstra’s appointment as ambassador to his country of origin, The Washington Post reported, a Dutch newspaper said the president was putting “a Dutchman in the Netherlands — but it is a Dutchman from the Netherlands of the ’50s.”

huffingtonpost.in/entry/pete-hoekstra-dutch-tv-interview_us_5a3d6f01e4b0b0e5a7a21135

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US appeals court says Trump's 'Muslim ban' violates immigration law

A US appeals court on Friday said President Donald Trump's travel ban targeting people from six Muslim-majority countries violates federal law and exceeds the White House’s constitutional powers.

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said the ban should not be applied to people with strong US ties.

Still, the three-judge panel said the ruling will be put on hold pending a decision on the executive order by the US Supreme Court.

The open-ended ban, announced in September, targets people from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea, as well as certain government officials from Venezuela.

The court ruled on Friday that the indefinite suspension of entry of citizens of those countries constitutes "nationality discrimination in the issuance of immigrant visas".

It added that while the US president has broad powers to regulate the entry of immigrants into the United States, those powers are not without limits.

"We conclude that the President’s issuance of the Proclamation once again exceeds the scope of his delegated authority," the panel said.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court granted the US administration's request to lift two injunctions imposed by lower courts that had partially blocked the ban.

Trump had promised as a candidate "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States".

The high court had allowed the ban to go into effect, but kept proceedings about the legality of the executive order in motion.

Within his first month of taking office in January, Trump announced a ban on seven Muslim-majority countries, which at that time included Iraq.

The first executive order initially applied to visa holders and to US permanent residents, which caused chaos at airports. It was struck down by the courts and Trump's administration did not appeal the prohibition to the Supreme Court.

In March, Trump revised the order, dropping Iraq from the list and limiting the scope of the ban.

Critics and civil rights groups have denounced both decrees as discriminatory. The White House, in contrast, said the ban was necessary to prevent militant attacks.

After challenges in lower courts, the Supreme Court ruled that the second ban can temporarily apply to travellers who do not have bona fide relations with a US person or entity, opening the door to new legal battles over the definition of such ties.

But before the high court could rule on the merits of the ban, the White House announced yet a new executive order in September, removing Sudan from the list and adding Chad and North Korea.

US district courts in Virginia and Hawaii ruled against the third ban in October.

The policy "suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor: It lacks sufficient findings that the entry of more than 150 million nationals from six specified countries would be 'detrimental to the interests of the United States," US District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu wrote on 17 October.

middleeasteye.net/news/us-appeals-court-says-trumps-muslim-ban-violates-constitution-1580578732


URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/darul-uloom-deoband-issues-fatwa-against-new-year-celebrations/d/113675

 

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