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Islamic World News ( 23 Dec 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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David Cameron Has Called Britain a 'Christian Country' In Christmas Message

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Eleven members of a British Muslim family were turned away at Gatwick airport from boarding a flight to California where they planned to visit Disneyland. Photograph: Marsaili McGrath/Getty Images

 

Europe

David Cameron Has Called Britain a 'Christian Country' In Christmas Message

Lost Ancient Quran Is 'Most Important Discovery Ever For the Muslim World'

British Muslim Family Stopped From Boarding Flight to US

UK government attempting to keep details of secret security pact with Saudi Arabia hidden from public

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Africa

Nigeria Soldiers Killed Hundreds of Shiites in Raid: Report

How Boxing Is Uniting Muslims and Christians in War-Torn C. Africa

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South Asia

50 Taliban Insurgents Killed In Afghan Special Forces Operation in Helmand

Miliband: Afghanistan a Potential Expansion Ground For ISIS

U.S. drone strike kills three Taliban; security forces arrest two fighters of Daesh in Nangarhar

Security Forces Rebuff Attack Of Hundreds of Taliban In Zabul Province

Bangladesh police arrest 7 suspected Islamist militants

Taliban say UN renewal of sanctions will have negative impact on peace process

Afghan govt release photos of Mi-25 gunships delivered by India

Taliban shadow district governor among seven killed in Logar

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India

We Have Been Successful In Reducing Influence Of ISIS Among Youth: Defence Minister

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Pakistan

Diplomat Recalled From Dhaka over ‘Extremist Link’

Syrian Crisis: Pakistan against Any Attempt to Topple Bashar Al-Assad

World Bank to give $35mn to Pakistan for Indus River Basin

Helmand's Sangin district remains in state control, say Afghan officials, denying Taliban claims

Zehri elected Balochistan chief minister unopposed

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Arab World

Source: 50,000 Yemeni Forces Preparing To Attack S. Arabia

Militants Sustain Heavy Losses in Syrian Rocket, Air Attacks

More Takfiri Militants' Crushed In Aleppo

Saudi Arabia executes murder convict as annual toll hits 152

Damascus: Terrorists Targeted by Artillery Shells

Key Lattakia Area Liberated from Militants' Control

Leader's Top Military Aide: Less Residential Areas Controlled by Terrorists in Syria

Lattakia: Syrian Army Scores another Major Win

Syria: Fresh Fighting Erupts between Army, Militants in Dara'a

Anti-Terrorism Operations Intensified in 3 Syrian Provinces

Saudi king blames Assad for rise of IS

Russian, Syrian Warplanes Bomb Terrorists' Positions in Homs

Russia won't stop bombing mission in Syria after ceasefire

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Mideast

Yemen Attacks Saudi Positions in Lahij with Tochka Missiles

Iranian Commander: Erdogan Weakening Islamic States' Power

Iran Asks China to Play Greater Role in Fighting ISIL

Iranian Plane Crashes into Barrier in Istanbul Airport

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Southeast Asia

Indonesia Has Potential to Become Centre of Islamic Civilization

Thousands of personnel dispatched to safeguard Christmas celebrations in Yogyakarta Indonesia

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North America

Merkel, UK Intelligence Exchange Information on ISIL, Putin, Ukraine

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Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/david-cameron-has-called-britain-a--christian-country--in-christmas-message/d/105717

 

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Europe

David Cameron Has Called Britain A 'Christian Country' In Christmas Message

Adam Barnett | The Independent | Dec 24, 2015

Prime Minister David Cameron will this year deliver his most religious Christmas message to date, calling Britain a "Christian country" whose religious values have made it a "home to people of all faiths and none".

Cameron will focus on the issues of peace and security at a time when millions are fleeing war around the world, stressing the importance of Britain's Christian values in shaping how the country responds.

"That is what we mark as we celebrate the birth of God's only son, Jesus Christ - the Prince of Peace," he said.

"As a Christian country, we must remember what his birth represents: peace, mercy, goodwill and, above all, hope.

"I believe that we should also reflect on the fact that it is because of these important religious roots and Christian values that Britain has been such a successful home to people of all faiths and none."

The message was the second year in a row that Cameron referred to Britain as a Christian country, despite his having been accused of stoking "alienation and division" last Christmas.

It comes after an official inquiry into belief in Britain found a "general decline" in Christian affiliation, with only two in five people now identifying as Christian.

The Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life report, released in early December, said modern Britain had a more "pluralist character", while the number of people who don't follow any religion has risen to almost half the population in 2014.

His remarks were criticised by the National Secular Society, saying it was "disappointing to see the Prime Minister again pushing the divisive rhetoric of Britain being a 'Christian country' ".

Stephen Evans, the group's campaigns manager, said: "We look to political leaders for leadership, not theology, and this kind of language reveals him to be less than statesmanlike."

He added: "David Cameron needs to appreciate that he isn't a leader of Christians, he's the prime minister of a diverse, multi-faith, and increasingly non-religious nation."

Cameron will use his message to draw attention to the millions of refugees fleeing war in Syria and elsewhere and the persecution of Christians around the world.

"Millions of families are spending this winter in refugee camps or makeshift shelters across Syria and the Middle East, driven from their homes by Daesh and [Syrian president] Assad," he said.

"Christians from Africa to Asia will go to church on Christmas morning full of joy, but many in fear of persecution.

"Throughout the United Kingdom, some will spend the festive period ill, homeless or alone," he said.

The Government has pledged to accept 20,000 of the 4 million refugees from Syria over a five year period, with the first families arriving in recent weeks.

Cameron also paid tribute to people who were spending Christmas "helping the vulnerable at home and protecting our freedoms abroad", and to the armed forces stationed abroad.

"Right now, our brave armed forces are doing their duty, around the world: in the skies of Iraq and Syria, targeting the terrorists that threaten those countries and our security at home, on the seas of the Mediterranean, saving those who attempt the perilous crossing to Europe, and on the ground, helping to bring stability to countries from Afghanistan to South Sudan," he said.

"It is because they face danger that we have peace."

Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn will not issue a Christmas message, the party confirmed, but would instead make some remarks ahead of New Year's Day.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/David-Cameron-Christmas-message-PM-calls-Britain-a-Christian-country/articleshow/50309078.cms

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Lost Ancient Quran Is 'Most Important Discovery Ever For the Muslim World'

John Hall | The Independent | Dec 23, 2015

An ancient copy of the Quran found at the University of Birmingham this summer may have belonged to Abu Bakr, one of the world's first ever Muslims.

Radiocarbon dating carried out in July found the fragments to be at least 1,370-years-old, raising the possibility that it could be the oldest copy of the Islamic holy book in existence.

Now Jamal bin Huwareib, managing director of the UAE's Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation for Islamic studies, has suggested that such an early document could have been commissioned by a very small number of people - the most likely of them being Abu Bakr.

Abu Bakr is widely understood to be the first person to convert to Islam outside the Prophet Mohammed's direct family. He served as a friend and trusted advisor to the prophet and became the first ever Muslim caliph in 632, ruling for 27 months until his death 634.

The age of the Birmingham Quran means it is likely to have been created in Islam's very earliest years, when the world's global Muslim population was only in the low hundreds.

"I believe this is the Quran of Abu Bakr," Jamal bin Huwareib told BBC News, adding: "It's the most important discovery ever for the Muslim world,"

The quality of the Birmingham Quran's parchment and handwriting suggests the 200 leaf document could only have been created for an incredibly important figure, he said.

"This version, this collection, this manuscript is the root of Islam, it's the root of the Quran...This will be a revolution in studying Islam," Huwareib went on to say.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/Lost-ancient-Quran-is-most-important-discovery-ever-for-the-Muslim-world/articleshow/50298971.cms

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British Muslim family stopped from boarding flight to US

PTI | Dec 23, 2015

LONDON: A British Muslim family heading to Disneyland was barred from boarding a flight to Los Angeles by US authorities at Gatwick airport here, prompting a lawmaker to seek Prime Minister David Cameron's intervention into the matter.

Mohammad Tariq Mahmood, who was travelling with his brother and nine of their children, said the US officials gave no explanation for refusing to allow them to board the flight.

"It is because of the attacks on America - they think every Muslim poses a threat," he was quoted as saying by the Guardian.

Opposition Labour party MP Stella Creasy has written to Cameron urging him to press US authorities on the issue.

A Downing Street spokesperson said Cameron will investigate the lawmaker's claim and will "respond in due course".

US department of homeland security officials have so far provided no explanation as to why the country refused to allow the family of 11 to board the plane even though they had been granted travel authorization online ahead of their planned December 15 flight.

Mahmood said that the airline told them that they would not be refunded the $13,340 cost of their flights.

They were also forced to return everything they bought at the airport's duty-free shops before being escorted from the airport.

"I have never been more embarrassed in my life. I work here, I have a business here. But we were alienated," Mahmood told 'The Guardian'.

Creasy said she is concerned about increasing numbers of British Muslims being stopped from entering the US with no apparent reason.

Writing in the newspaper, she said she had "hit a brick wall" with getting an explanation from American authorities and so has asked Cameron to intervene.

She said: "The vacuum created by a refusal to provide any context for these decisions is fuelling resentment and debate.

"Online and offline discussions reverberate with the growing fear that UK Muslims are being 'trumped' - that widespread condemnation of Donald Trump's call for no Muslim to be allowed into America contrasts with what is going on in practice."

All British citizens fall under the "Visa waiver" programme, which authorizes travel to the US for up to 90 days without a visa.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/British-Muslim-family-stopped-from-boarding-flight-to-US/articleshow/50297932.cms

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UK government attempting to keep details of secret security pact with Saudi Arabia hidden from public

Oliver Wright | The Independent | Dec 23, 2015

The British government signed a secret security pact with Saudi Arabia and is now attempting to prevent details of the deal from being made public.

The home secretary Theresa May agreed to the so-called 'memorandum of understanding' with her Saudi counter-part Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef during a visit to the Kingdom last year.

The home office released no details of her trip at the time or announced that the deal had been signed. The only public acknowledgement was a year later in a Foreign Office report which obliquely referenced an agreement to "modernise the ministry of the interior".

But now following a Freedom of Information request from the Liberal Democrats, who were in Government at the time, it has emerged that the agreement is far wider than has been acknowledged.

In its grounds for refusing to publish details of the memorandum the Home Office has admitted it "contains information relating to the UK's security co-operation with Saudi Arabia".

Releasing the document it says "would damage the UK's bilateral relationship" with the Kingdom and potentially damage Britain's national security.

Human rights groups have expressed alarm at the secretive nature of the deal with a regime which has been condemned for its human rights record.

In February the Kingdom adopted a new anti-terrorism law that defines terrorism as words or actions deemed by the authorities to be directly or indirectly "disturbing" to public order or "destabilizing the security of society.

In March, a series of decrees promulgated by the interior ministry extended Saudi Arabia's extended the definition of further to include "calling for atheist thought" and "contacting any groups or individuals opposed to the Kingdom", as well as "seeking to disrupt national unity" by calling for protests.

The ministry of the interior is also responsible for carrying out executions such as the threatened beheading of Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr for taking part in anti-government protests and allegedly attacking security forces when he was 17. Mr Ali al-Nimr supporters claim he was tortured while detention.

Both Liberal Democrats and Labour have called for Mrs May to provide details of the deal to Parliament and expressed concern that such an agreement should be done behind closed doors without any public scrutiny.

"Deals with nations like Saudi Arabia should not be done in secret," said the Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron.

"Parliament should be able to hold ministers to account. It is time to shine a light onto the shady corners of our relationship with Saudi Arabia."

"It is time we stood up for civil liberties, human rights and not turn a blind eye because the House of Saud are our 'allies'".

The emergence of the agreement comes after the Justice Secretary Michael Gove announced he was cancelling a £5.9 million contract to provide a training programme for prisons in the Saudi Arabia.

The contract had attracted widespread criticism but when the cancellation was announced it led to a diplomatic row with the Saudi leadership who threatened to withdraw Saudi ambassador in London pending a review of relations with the UK.

In an attempt to placate the Saudi's David Cameron sent a personal message to King Salman bin Abdul Aziz bin Saud, while the foreign secretary Philip Hammond was dispatched to Riyadh to rebuild bridges.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/UK-government-attempting-to-keep-details-of-secret-security-pact-with-Saudi-Arabia-hidden-from-public/articleshow/50291821.cms

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Africa

Nigeria Soldiers Killed Hundreds of Shiites In Raid: Report

Associated Press, 24 Dec 2015

By MICHELLE FAUL

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Nigerian soldiers fired on unarmed Islamic Shiite children with no provocation in raids that killed hundreds of the minority group in the West African nation, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.

The charges come as the guardian of Nigeria's estimated 80 million-plus Muslims, Sultan Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar of Sokoto, warned the government against actions that could further radicalize Muslims in a country that already has lost 20,000 lives to the Boko Haram Islamic uprising.

Human Rights Watch said it doubts the Nigerian military's version that raids over three days on three Shiite locations in northern Zaria town followed an attempted assassination of the army chief.

Full article at: http://news.yahoo.com/hrw-nigeria-soldiers-killed-shiite-children-no-provocation-124023566.html

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How boxing is uniting Muslims and Christians in war-torn C. Africa

AFP — Updated Dec 12, 2015

BANGUI: Panting, his red singlet drenched in sweat, he pauses to catch his breath. Ngassima, 18, has taken a few blows in the ring today, he even lost his round but it's all been worth it in this “fight for peace” in Bangui.

Organising an amateur boxing competition in PK5, a flashpoint Muslim neighbourhood in the capital of the Central African Republic, which has been ravaged by sectarian strife, might seem something of a strange idea.

But Roger Junior Loutomo, president of Central Africa's boxing federation who came up with the idea and also umpires the fights, sees it differently.

“Not at all, boxing is a symbol of peace!” he said.

Muslim and Christian boxers fight in a tournament to support a peace initiative through sport, in the PK5 flashpoint Muslim district of Bangui,. — AFP

“When two boxers fight, they embrace each other afterwards, no matter who is the winner. That's the message that we want to get across,” he says.

Landlocked Central African Republic descended into chaos in March 2013 after rebels from the mainly Muslim Seleka ousted longtime Christian leader Francois Bozize.

The coup triggered a wave of violence between Muslim rebels and Christian “anti-balaka” militias, plunging the former French colony into its worst crisis since independence in 1960.

Full article at: http://www.dawn.com/news/1225932/counterpunch-how-boxing-is-uniting-muslims-and-christians-in-war-torn-c-africa

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South Asia

50 Taliban insurgents killed in Afghan Special Forces operation in Helmand

By Khaama Press - Thu Dec 24 2015

At least 50 Taliban insurgents were killed during an operation involving the Special Operation Forces of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan.

Sediq Sediqi, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior (MoI), said Thursday that the operation was conducted in the key Sangin district of Helmand.

He said the operation was launched late on Wednesday night and a key Taliban commander was killed during the operation.

Full article at: http://www.khaama.com/50-taliban-insurgents-killed-in-afghan-special-forces-operation-in-helmand-1861

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Miliband: Afghanistan a Potential Expansion Ground For ISIS

By Khaama Press - Thu Dec 24 2015

The former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has said Britain must help in bringing stability to Afghanistan as amid deteriorating security situation with the rampant Taliban insurgency and the rise of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) loyalists in the country.

Miliband has warned that Afghanistan has the potential to become an ‘expansion ground’ for ISIS terrorist group, given it’s strategic importance.

“I think that for Britain now – given the level of sacrifice but also the importance strategically of Afghanistan, of an entry point into central Asia, as a potential expansion ground for Isis and others – I think it is important for Britain to be part of the overall strategy to stabilise the country,” Miliband told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Full article at: http://www.khaama.com/miliband-afghanistan-a-potential-expansion-ground-for-isis-1859

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U.S. drone strike kills three Taliban, security forces arrest two fighters of Daesh in Nangarhar

By Khaama Press - Thu Dec 24 2015

A U.S. drone strike has killed three militants belonging to Taliban while security forces arrested two fighters of Daesh group in eastern Nangarhar province.

A statement released by the police headquarters of Nangarhar states that the three militants killed in drone strike belonged to a local Taliban commander by the name of Saif-ud-Din.

According to the statement, they were targeted in Atewishtama Wyala area of Ghanikhil District on Wednesday afternoon.

The press release further states that police arrested two fighters of Daesh group during a raid in Pandola area of Achin District the same day.

They are identified as Ashiqullah who is originally from Balkh province and Mohammad Sabir hailing from Maidan Wardak province.

Ashiqullah and Mohammad Sabir were previously members of Taliban.

Another report from Nangarhar province suggests that police foiled a kidnapping plot in its capital city Jalalabad.

Kidnappers planned to abduct Sayed Halim from third sector of the city but police arrived on time and arrested the kidnappers with their weapons.

http://www.khaama.com/u-s-drone-strike-kills-three-taliban-security-forces-arrest-two-fighters-of-daesh-in-nangarhar-4419

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Security forces rebuff attack of hundreds of Taliban in Zabul province

By Khaama Press - Thu Dec 24 2015

Security forces have suppressed the attack of hundreds of Taliban insurgents in southern Zabul.

A high ranking security official said the attack was led by a local Taliban commander by the name of Peer Agha.

Haji Asif Tokhi said local Taliban militants were supported by their comrades from neighboring Kandahar and some foreign insurgents.

He said militants launched the attacked on security posts in Shah Joy District early on Wednesday and the gun battle between them and security forces continued for several hours.

“14 Taliban were killed and 19 others wounded in the clash,” Tokhi said, adding that clearance operation against Taliban still continues in Shah Joy District.

According to Tokhi, two security men embraced martyrdom and another sustained injuries in the clash but another security official who suggested anonymity said that three soldiers lost lives and seven other wounded.

This comes as heavy clashes have been erupting between Taliban and security forces in another southern province.

Security forces are battling Taliban to push them back from Sangin District of Helmand province.

http://www.khaama.com/security-forces-rebuff-attack-on-hundreds-of-taliban-in-zabul-province-4420

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Bangladesh police arrest 7 suspected Islamist militants

AP | Dec 24, 2015

Police say security forces have arrested seven suspected members of a banned Islamist group blamed for attacks on foreigners and minority groups in Bangladesh.

Police officer Monirul Islam says those detained in a raid in Mirpur area in the Bangladeshi capital early Thursday included at least three "important figures" of Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh, or JMB.

Islam says the search led to a huge cache of bombs and grenades and other explosives. He says the suspects exploded bombs as the raid started, but no one was injured.

Officials have cordoned off the building and evacuated other residents.

The group was founded in 1998 by Shaikh Abdur Rahman, a religious teacher educated in Saudi Arabia.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/Bangladesh-police-arrest-7-suspected-Islamist-militants/articleshow/50308916.cms

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Taliban say UN renewal of sanctions will have negative impact on peace process

By Khaama Press - Thu Dec 24 2015

Taliban CommanderTaliban militant group on Thursday condemned the renewal of sanctions by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) which include financial, travel and arms-trade restrictions on the group and its supporters.

“The Islamic Emirate strongly condemns the sanctions by the UNSC,” states a statement released by the group.

Taliban statement further states that the sanctions would have a negative impact on the peace process.

“We see the above obstacles created in front of peace as an intentional effort to sabotage the peace process,” the statement adds.

In another part of the statement, the group threatens to continue fighting until (according to them) an Islamic system is established.

The United Nations Security Council voted Monday to extend existing sanctions against the Taliban for another 18 months, expressing concerns about the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan.

http://www.khaama.com/taliban-condemn-un-renewal-of-sanctions-4422

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Afghan govt release photos of Mi-25 gunships delivered by India

By Khaama Press - Thu Dec 24 2015

India delivery gunships to Afghanistan

The Afghan government on Thursday released photos of the Mi-25 gunship helicopters recently delivered by India in a bid to support the Afghan national security forces.

The photos were released by the Office of National Security Adviser showing the delivery of the gunship helicopters with National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar and Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan Amar Sinha inspecting the gunships.

This comes as reports emerged Wednesday that India has completed the delivery of 3 Mi-25 gunships to Afghanistan with the fourth and final gunship to be transported next week.

Sources privy of the development in New Delhi have said the gunships were transported to Afghanistan by a C-17 transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force.

The decision for the delivery of Mi-25 gunship helicopters was concluded during he recent visit of Afghan National Security Adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar to New Delhi.

It is expected that the announcement of the gunships to Afghan Air Force will be made by Prime Minister Narenda Modi during his visit to capital Kabul on Friday.

Although his trip to Kabul has not been officially confirmed sources in New Delhi have said Modi will visit Kabul after leaving Russia.

Modi will inaugurate the newly built Afghan parliament building which has been constructed with the financial support of Indian government with an estimated const of $90 million.

http://www.khaama.com/afghan-govt-release-photos-of-mi-25-gunships-delivered-by-india-1862

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Taliban shadow district governor among seven killed in Logar

By Khaama Press - Thu Dec 24 2015

Logar-Police headquarters (2)Security forces have killed seven important commander of Taliban group in Charkh District of central Logar province.

Police chief of Logar province said the Taliban commanders killed in the raid include the group’s so-called governor for the same District Mawlawi Asadullah and military commander Mullah Sharif.

Brigadier General Dawoud Ahmadi added that other commanders of Taliban killed in the operation include Mullah Ahmad, Mullah Rahbar, Mullah Fazal, Mullah Qadir and Mullah Muzamil.

Located some 60 km south of Kabul, Logar is one of the comparatively restive provinces of Afghanistan where armed opponent groups are operating in its remote areas.

But they occasionally carry out attacks in the provincial capital as well.

http://www.khaama.com/taliban-shadow-district-governor-among-seven-killed-in-logar-4421

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India

We Have Been Successful In Reducing Influence Of ISIS Among Youth: Defence Minister

December 24, 2015

New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar addresses at the launch of ‘Make in India’ portal of the Department of Defence Production at DRDO Bhawan in New Delhi on Monday. PTI Photo by Atul Yadav(PTI12_21_2015_000021A) Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar  (Source: PTI)

Playing down the threat posed by radicalization of youth towards ISIS in India, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday said that security agencies in the country have been successful in considerably reducing its influence after proper communication with them.

“After proper communication, we have tried to reduce their influence considerably,” he said when asked as to how big was the ISIS challenge and how they plan to deal with it. “How can I tell you what will be our strategy,” he added.

When asked about the apprehension of some security personnel in espionage racket recently busted by the Delhi police, he said that “we have tightened our security apparatus”.

Full article at: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/we-have-been-successful-in-reducing-influence-of-isis-among-youth-says-parrikar/99/print/

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Pakistan

Diplomat recalled from Dhaka over ‘extremist link’

December 24th, 2015

DHAKA: Pakistan on Wednesday recalled one of its diplomats from Dhaka after she was named as allegedly having financed a suspected extremist on trial for espionage, a Bangladesh official said. Such an incident had also occurred in February this year.

“The female second secretary of the high commission was sent back to Islamabad this afternoon, two days after Dhaka informally asked for her departure,” said a senior official at the Bangladeshi foreign ministry.

Earlier this year: Pakistani diplomat expelled from Dhaka

The Pakistani High Commission did not immediately respond to a query about the whereabouts of the diplomat, who has previously been named in press reports as Farina Arshad.

Full article at: http://www.dawn.com/news/1228505/diplomat-recalled-from-dhaka-over-extremist-link

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Syrian crisis: Pakistan against any attempt to topple Bashar al-Assad

Mateen Haider

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Wednesday stated that it is against any attempt to topple the government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

"Pakistan is also against foreign military intervention in Syria and fully supports the territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic,” said Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry.

It is pertinent to mention that since the start of the Syrian conflict, Pakistan had maintained a policy of strict neutrality. The statement from the foreign secretary marks a significant shift in Pakistan's policy on the ongoing Syrian crisis.

The foreign secretary was speaking at the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, which met earlier at Parliament House in Islamabad.

Pakistan’s stance on finding a peaceful solution for the Syrian crisis was also reiterated on the occasion.

Full article at: http://www.dawn.com/news/1228523/syrian-crisis-pakistan-against-any-attempt-to-topple-bashar-al-assad

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World Bank to give $35mn to Pakistan for Indus River Basin

PTI | Dec 22, 2015

WASHINGTON: The World Bank has approved an additional financial assistance of $35 million to support improved management, planning and development of water resources in the Indus River Basin in Pakistan.

"Water sector issues are enormous and complex and addressing them will require a strategic engagement over the medium and long term," said Patchamuthu Illangovan, World Bank Country director for Pakistan.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/World-Bank-to-give-35mn-to-Pakistan-for-Indus-River-Basin/articleshow/50279661.cms

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Helmand's Sangin district remains in state control, say Afghan officials, denying Taliban claims

AP | Reuters — Published about 3 hours ago

KABUL: Afghan officials say a district in the southern province of Helmand besieged by the Taliban for more than a week remains under government control as fighting continues.

Akhtar Muhammad, a police commander in Sangin district said on Thursday that insurgents captured the area around the district governor's compound overnight. "An hour later we recaptured that building and now we have it," he tells The Associated Press.

Spokesman for the Afghan army in Helmand, Guam Rasoul Zazai said air strikes bombarded Taliban strongholds in Sangin overnight, killing 25 insurgents and wounding another 12. Operations were slowed as insurgents began taking shelter in civilian homes, he said.

However, General Abdul Wodud, a senior army commander, said a joint Afghan and Nato operation backed by air support had driven the Taliban back from central areas, killing 60 Taliban fighters and wounding 40.

Full article at: http://www.dawn.com/news/1228524/helmands-sangin-district-remains-in-state-control-say-afghan-officials-denying-taliban-claims

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Zehri elected Balochistan chief minister unopposed

DAWN.COM | SYED ALI SHAH

QUETTA, 24 12 1: The newly elected chief minister of Balochistan, Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, said he will continue to carry forward the policies of his predecessor Dr Malik Baloch and will make efforts to improve governance in the province.

Zehri of the PML-N was elected Balochistan chief minister unopposed on Thursday after Dr Baloch resigned from the post on Wednesday.

The chief minister, while addressing the assembly, said grievances of Balochistan’s people would be addressed with the development and progress of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

He said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will arrive to inaugurate CPEC route on December 30.

"Let's come for peace, we are ready for dialogue," Zehri said while referring to political reconciliation in Balochistan. He, however, made it clear that no compromise would be made regarding to the attacks at security forces and civilians in Balochistan.

He said attacks against Hazara community would not be tolerated anymore.

Later in the day, Balochistan Assembly unanimously adopted a confidence resolution in support of the newly elected chief minister.

The resolution was tabled by member provincial assembly Rahim Ziaratwal and supported by all 54 members present in the house.

Full article at: http://www.dawn.com/news/1228529/zehri-elected-balochistan-chief-minister-unopposed

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Arab World

Source: 50,000 Yemeni Forces Preparing to Attack S. Arabia

December 24th, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- 50,000 Yemeni army and popular forces have been prepared to attack Saudi Arabia and liberate the strategic regions, a military source said.

"50,000 Yemeni forces are ready to attack positions in Saudi Arabia and liberate the biggest cities in Jizan and Asir regions within the framework of the first stage of strategic options," a military source said on Wednesday.

His remarks came after the Yemeni army and popular forces targeted a strategic military base in Saudi Arabia's Asir province with another Qaher-I ballistic missile on Wednesday.

The missile precisely hit its target in Al-Faisal military base in Khamis Mushait region of Asir province.

Qaher-I is an updated version of a Russian-made surface-to-surface missile.

Full article at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941003000334

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Militants Sustain Heavy Losses in Syrian Rocket, Air Attacks

December 24th, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army and air force inflicted heavy losses on the Takfiri terrorists in the province of Deir Ezzur on Thursday.

The army fired rocket at an ISIL bulldozer and destroyed it in al-Tharda Mountain South of Deir Ezzur military airport.

The army also destroyed a bulldozer on the road between Deir Ezzur and al-Mayadeen.

The Syrian warplanes also targeted militants' positions in the neighborhoods of al-Hewika, al-Sena'a and al-Rasafa in Deir Ezzur.

The Syrian artillery shells also hit militants' positions in al-Jafre village in the province.

On Wednesday, the Syrian army fired rockets and artillery shells at ISIL terrorists during fierce clashes in Deir Ezzur province.

Informed sources said Wednesday that fierce clashes erupted between the army and ISIL militants in Deir Ezzur city after three car bombs went off in the area of al-Sena'a in the city.

Full article at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941003000610

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More Takfiri Militants' Crushed in Aleppo

December 24th, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army annihilated terrorists' positions in several areas across the Northern Province of Aleppo on Thursday amid reports of Russian airstrikes hitting the militants' gathering centers.

The Syrian army destroyed terrorists' vehicles and positions in Orum al-Kubra, al-Bab, al-Khalediyeh, Sharbaa, Rasm al-Kabir, Rasm al-Kama and Hreitan in Aleppo on Thursday.

The news comes as the Russian warplanes launched scores of airstrikes on militants' positions in the villages of Harbal, Um al-Qura, Um Housh and Kafra in the Northern countryside of Aleppo early on Thursday.

The Syrian army also engaged in fierce clashes with militants in the al-Rashidin area in Aleppo and fired artillery shells at their positions in the area on Wednesday night.

On Wednesday, the Syrian warplanes targeted positions and supply routes of ISIL terrorists in al-Bab city in the Northeastern part of Aleppo province.

The air raids also hit ISIL targets in Tal al-Hattabat village in the Eastern part of the province.

Full article at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941003000412

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Saudi Arabia executes murder convict as annual toll hits 152

December 24th, 2015

RIYADH: A Saudi convicted of murder was executed on Thursday, bringing to 152 the number of death sentences carried out this year in the conservative Muslim kingdom.

Saad Ben Mohamed al-Othman was executed in the eastern city of Dammam after his conviction for shooting and murdering a fellow Saudi during a disagreement, the interior ministry said.

According to AFP tallies, his case brings to 152 the number of locals and foreigners put to death this year, against 87 for all of 2014.

Amnesty International says the number of executions in Saudi Arabia this year is the highest for two decades, since 192 people were put to death in 1995.

The toll has rarely exceeded 90 annually in recent years, it said.

Reasons for the surge in executions, all of which are reported by the official Saudi Press Agency, are unclear. Saudi executions are usually carried out by beheading with a sword.

Rights experts have raised concerns about the fairness of trials in the kingdom, where the interior ministry says the death penalty is a deterrent to crime.

Amnesty says Saudi Arabia had the world's third-highest number of executions last year, after China and Iran.

Under the kingdom's strict Islamic legal code, murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape and apostasy are all punishable by death.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1228539/saudi-arabia-executes-murder-convict-as-annual-toll-hits-152

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Damascus: Terrorists Targeted by Artillery Shells

December 24th, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army fired artillery shells at the Takfiri terrorists in several strategic areas in Damascus province amid reports of fierce clashes between the government forces and militants.

The Syrian army engaged in fierce clashes with militants in the North of Darayya city in Western Ghouta in Damascus countryside.

The Syrian army also fired artillery shells at terrorists' positions in Jobar district, Darayya city and Khan al-Shih town in Damascus countryside.

The army also clashed with the Takfiris in the vicinity of Marj al-Sultan town in Eastern Ghouta.

On Wednesday, the Syrian army continued its anti-terrorism operations to fully secure the recently-captured military airport of Marj al-Sultan, and retook new areas in Damascus province.

Field sources said the Syrian forces targeted al-Nusra Front, Jeish al-Islam, al-Rahman brigade and other terrorist groups in Eastern Ghouta and continued to advanced in the vicinity of Marj al-Sultan Military Airport and Harasta farms on Wednesday.

The sources further said the Syrian troops took full control over new farms in the West of Marj al-Sultan military airport in Eastern Ghouta in Damascus countryside.

The army killed at least 14 militants and destroyed their vehicles and weapons in the clashes.

Full article at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941003000468

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Key Lattakia Area Liberated from Militants' Control

December 24th, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army and the National Defense Forces won back a strategic point in the Northern countryside of Lattakia after fierce clashes with the terrorists.

The Syrian forces managed to take full control over point 458.5 in the direction of al-Kabir Black Mountain in the Northern countryside of Lattakia on Wednesday after clashes with the terrorists, informed sources said.

A large group of terrorists were killed and injured in the clashes, the sources added.

Earlier on Wednesday, military sources said that militants are retreating from more lands in the Northern parts of Lattakia province.

"The Syrian army alongside the National Defense Forces (NDF) launched massive operations in the mountainous regions of Northern Lattakia, and completed their control over vast territories after killing or wounding scores of militants," the sources said.

"The defeated militants have laid down arms and try to find a way to escape the battlefronts in the coastal province," the sources added.

Military analysts believe that the eye-catching victories of the pro-government forces against the militant groups in the mountainous regions of Lattakia in winter time are indebted to the strong will of the Syrian soldiers, the NDF and Hezbollah fighters to route out militancy and terrorism in the country.

Full article at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941003000293

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Leader's Top Military Aide: Less Residential Areas Controlled by Terrorists in Syria

December 24th, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- Top Military Aide to the Iranian Supreme Leader Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi expressed the pleasure that terrorists' control over residential areas has decreased, thanks to the Syrian army and popular forces' recent major victories.

"Certain regions in Syria are controlled by the government and some other regions are witnessing clashes," Rahim Safavi said, addressing a gathering in the Central city of Qom on Wednesday.

"Most areas controlled by the terrorists include plains and deserts and less residential regions," he added.

Full article at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941003000355

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Lattakia: Syrian Army Scores Another Major Win

December 24th, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army seized control over another region in Lattakia province on Thursday that is of much strategic value.

The Syrian army gained control of the height 489.5 after capturing Height 465.5 in al-Kabir Black Mountain in the Northern countryside of Lattakia.

The recapture of the height came after fierce clashes with the militants that left a large group of the terrorists dead and injured.

Full article at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941003000669

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Syria: Fresh Fighting Erupts between Army, Militants in Dara'a

December 24th, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army engaged in fresh battles with the Takfiri militants in the province of Dara'a, and inflicted heavy losses on them.

Sporadic clashes erupted between the Syrian army and militant groups in the vicinity of al-Sheikh Maskeen city and Attman town in Dara'a.

The news comes as the Syrian warplanes bombed militants' positions in the al-Sheikh Maskeen city.

There are no immediate reports of possible casualties among the terrorists.

On Wednesday, the army clashed with the militants on the outskirts of al-Sheikh Maskeen city and Attman town in Dara'a province.

Field sources said a large group of Takfiri terrorists were killed and injured in the clashes. The militants' weapons and military equipment were also destroyed.

On Monday, the Syrian warplanes bombed the militants' concentration centers in the cities of al-Sheikh Maskeen and Nawa in Dara'a province.

Earlier on Monday, the Syrian Army troops raided the militant groups' concentration centers in the city of Dara'a, and inflicted heavy losses on them, military sources in the city said.

Full article at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941003000646

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Anti-Terrorism Operations Intensified in 3 Syrian Provinces

December 24th, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army intensified its anti-terrorism operations in three provinces in the country, and fired artillery shells on the Takfiri militants' positions on Thursday amid heavy airstrikes.

The army fired artillery shells at militants' positions in Khan Sheikhoun city and al-Tamanaa town in Idlib.

The news comes as the Syrian warplanes bombed militants' positions in Jisr al-Shughour city in the province.

Separately, a group of terrorists were also killed and injured in clashes with the army in al-Sarmanieh in the Northwestern countryside of Hama.

The Syrian airstrikes also hit the Takfiri militants' gathering centers in the villages of Maarakaba, Lahaya, al-Dayrouna and al-Mansoura in Hama province.

Meanwhile, the army launched artillery attacks at militants' positions in the towns of Mashare, al-Hamidiyah, Jabatta al-Khashab in Quneitra province.

Scores of terrorists were killed and injured in the anti-terrorism operations.

On Tuesday, the Syrian army killed a ringleader of a terrorist group affiliated to the al-Nusra Front in military operations in Idlib province.

Full article at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941003000576

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Saudi king blames Assad for rise of IS

December 24th, 2015

RIYADH: Saudi King Salman accused Syrian President Bashar al Assad on Wednesday of having aided the rise of the militant Islamic State group and called for a political settlement with moderate forces to end the war in the country.

The solution would be to form “a transitional government made up of moderate opposition forces, ensuring the unity of Syrians and the departure of foreign forces and terrorist organisations”, the king said in an annual speech to the Saudi Shura Council.

These organisations “could not have found fertile ground in Syria, had it not been for the Syrian regime’s policies, which have exterminated hundreds of thousands... and displaced millions” of people, he said.

Saudi Arabia “calls for a political solution to end Syria’s crisis,” said King Salman who made only a brief appearance at the council.

He read only part of the speech, the entire text of which was later released by the official SPA news agency.

Full article at: http://www.dawn.com/news/1228498/saudi-king-blames-assad-for-rise-of-is

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Russian, Syrian Warplanes Bomb Terrorists' Positions in Homs

December 24th, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian and Russian fighter jets launched new airstrikes on Takfiri terrorists' strongholds in several areas across the Central Province of Homs.

Sources said on Thursday that the Syrian and Russian jets pounded gathering centers, strongholds and command posts of Takfiri terrorists near the ancient city of Palmyra, Quaryatayn, Maheen, Hawareen, al-Sharifa, Ghunaiman, Rasm al-Tawil and al-Sawwaneh.

The airstrikes also hit the terrorists' positions and command posts in Housh Abu Faraj, al-Hazm, Teir Maala, Talbiseh, Tafha, Ghziyla and al-Taiba-al-Sukhna road in the East of Palmyra.

The militants suffered heavy casualties in the air attacks.

On Wednesday, the Syrian army conducted a wide-scale assault on Takfiri terrorists in Homs province as the country's warplanes pounded militants' concentration centers in the Central province.

Full article at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941003000318

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Russia won't stop bombing mission in Syria after ceasefire

AP | Dec 24, 2015, 02.26 PM IST

MOSCOW: A top Russian diplomat says Moscow won't stop its air strikes on Islamic State positions in Syria if and when a cease-fire there is announced.

The United States, Russia and Middle East nations are pushing for a political settlement in Syria that would bring the opposition and the Syrian government together for talks.

Russia's deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov said in an interview with the Interfax news agency on Thursday that the cease-fire is "meant to happen between parties of the Syrian domestic conflict" but that "this doesn't mean an end to war on IS and other terrorist groups."

Full article at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Russia-wont-stop-bombing-mission-in-Syria-after-ceasefire/articleshow/50309375.cms

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Mideast

Yemen Attacks Saudi Positions in Lahij with Tochka Missiles

December 24th, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Yemeni army and popular forces launched a fresh round of attacks on the Saudi forces' positions in the Southwestern province of Lahij on Thursday.

Brigadier General Sharaf Qaleb Loqman, the spokesman of the Yemeni armed forces, made the announcement in an interview with Yemen's official news agency on Thursday, adding that the Yemeni army and popular forces' Tochka missiles hit a gathering of the Saudi forces at al-Anad military base in Lahij province.

Also earlier this month, a Yemeni Tochka missile hit the Saudi-led coalition's command headquarter in Sha'ab al-Jen region near Bab al-Mandeb in Ta'iz province, and killed over 150 coalition servicemen, including 23 Saudi troops, 9 UAE officers and soldiers.

Full article at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941003000582

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Iranian Commander: Erdogan Weakening Islamic States' Power

December 24th, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Iranian commander blasted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's support for the terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq, and warned that his acts and decisions are decreasing the Muslims' power.

"The arrogant powers are creating a secure space for the Zionists and there is no Islamic country which has not become involved and they engaged Turkey too and Erdogan has taken steps towards destroying the Islamic power in the region," Commander of the Iranian Border Guards Brigadier General Qassem Rezayee said, addressing the Law Enforcement Police personnel in the Northern city of Rasht on Thursday.

Noting that Erdogan has also made Saudi Arabia get stuck in a regional quagmire, he said, "All these cases are aimed at creating security for the Zionist regime."

Full article at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941003000627

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Iran Asks China to Play Greater Role in Fighting ISIL

December 24th, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- Secretary of Iran's Expediency Council (EC) Mohsen Rezayee called on China to adopt more practical measures and take a greater role in fighting against the terrorist groups, specially the ISIL.

"China can greatly help the regional peace and stability by becoming more active in the fight against the ISIL practically," Rezayee said in a meeting with members of a Chinese delegation in Tehran on Thursday.

He also underlined Iran's preparedness to create cultural grounds and interaction with the Chinese Muslims to confront infiltration of Takfiri thoughts and streams in Central and Far East Asia.

Full article at: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941003000652

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Iranian Plane Crashes into Barrier in Istanbul Airport

December 24 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- An Iranian plane crashed into a concrete barrier at Istanbul’s main airport on Thursday, forcing the evacuation of passengers.

The incident occurred at 8.30 a.m. local time [0630GMT] as the Mahan Air flight from Tehran landed at the city’s busiest airport, Ataturk International.

The Airbus A310-300, belonging to Mahan Airline, hit concrete barriers as it taxied to its parking position at the terminal building.

The plane’s front wheel was damaged after it failed to stop and passengers were evacuated. No injuries have been reported so far.

A ground operations bus was also wedged underneath the damaged nose of the plane.

The cause of the crash remains unknown.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941003000415

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Southeast Asia

Indonesia has potential to become centre of Islamic civilization

December 22 2015

“Indeed, the international public is now pinning its hopes on Indonesia when it comes to being a role model of the world’s Islamic civilization and that can only happen when Indonesia can also become the international center for Islamic studies,” said Dr. Kamarudin Amin, director general of Islamic Studies at the Religious Affairs Ministry, during a recent talk show with privately run radio station, Sindo Trijaya Jakarta

Following are excerpts from the talk show.

Question: Can you give us a brief review of the actual reasons behind the statements made by the Religious Affairs Ministry a year ago for making Indonesia the direction for Islamic studies to take, not only in Asia, but also in the world?

Answer: When we view a number of events occurring almost globally, such as the Arab Spring in 2011, which caused many problems to our brothers in the Far East, including Libya, Yemen, Arab Saudi Arabia and even Iraq, Iran and Syria, all of which used to be the direction or reference of the world’s Islamic civilization, we see the Arab Spring rendered most of them as failed states.

Full article at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/adv/2015/12/22/indonesia-has-potential-become-center-islamic-civilization.html

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Thousands of personnel dispatched to safeguard Christmas celebrations in Yogyakarta Indonesia

 December 24 2015

Securing peace: Police officers rest after attending a morning briefing of Operasi Lilin (Operation Candle) 2015 at Jakarta Police headquarters on Wednesday. More than 100,000 police and military troops have been deployed throughout the country until Jan. 2 next year to safeguard Christmas and New's Eve celebrations from terrorist attack. (Photo: Antara/Sigid Kurniawan)

To ensure safe and smooth Christmas celebrations for all Christians, the Yogyakarta Police said they would provide extra security to churches across the province by dispatching 1,700 security personnel.

Yogyakarta Police spokesperson Adj. Sr. Comr.Anny Pudjiastuti said on Wednesday that the extra security precautions would be conducted one day before the Christmas celebration, which falls on Friday.

Full article at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/12/24/thousands-personnel-dispatched-safeguard-christmas-celebrations-yogyakarta.html

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North America

Merkel, UK Intelligence Exchange Information on ISIL, Putin, Ukraine

Dec 24, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- German Chancellor Angela Merkel exchanged information with British intelligence on ISIL and Ukraine.

British "senior spies" briefed Merkel on the threat posed by Daesh radicals, while the German leader provided the British Security Service (MI5), the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) with information on Russian President Vladimir Putin and the situation in Ukraine, The Times said on Thursday.

The intelligence exchange took place during Merkel’s October visit to the United Kingdom. The secret briefing was attended by British Prime Minister David Cameron, MI5 Director General Andrew Parker, MI6 head Alex Younger and director of GCHQ Robert Hannigan.

According to The Times, direct information exchanges between British intelligence representatives and the German Chancellor are rare, although intelligence exchanges between UK and German special services are held on a regular basis.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941003000467

 

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/david-cameron-has-called-britain-a--christian-country--in-christmas-message/d/105717

 

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