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Islamic World News ( 3 Feb 2022, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Educational Crisis, 229 Professors Left Afghanistan since Taliban Takeover

New Age Islam News Bureau

03 February 2022 

• Sadhvi incites sexual violence against Muslim women at Chhattisgarh dharm sansad

• Pakistani Sunni scholar: Conspiracies cannot weaken Islamic Revolution

• Saudi regime arrests another well-known Shia Muslim religious scholar

• Yemen's Ansarullah Leader: US, Israel, ‘True Enemies’ of Muslims

• US advice to banks: OK to transfer aid money to Afghanistan


South Asia

• Armed, Uniformed Islamic Emirate Forces Must Stay Out of Parks

• Afghanistan law of media still applicable: Mjahid

• Islamic Emirate Reopens Universities for in Hot Areas

• Two disappeared journalists released in Kabul

• US allows money transfer to Afghanistan, lifted many financial sanctions



• Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir denies any ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which began an anti-India campaign in September.

• Indore: Accused of 'Love Jihad' After Travelling With Friend, Muslim Man Languishes in Jail

• Karnataka: Hindu boys of another Udupi college adorn saffron as Muslim girls defy hijab diktat

• SP only wants Muslim votes, not Muslim leadership: Maulana Shahabuddin Rizvi

• Samastha to keep off Muslim Coordination Committee

• No significant damage to public property in J&K due to terror incidents between Aug 2019 & Jan 2022

• What the Indian American Muslim Council is all about, and why it has irked the Centre

• Linguistic Identity Scores Over Religious Identity In Assam



• Hindu businessman shot dead in Pakistan, protesters block highway

• 4 terrorists, 1 soldier killed in attacks on security posts in Pakistan

• PM expresses solidarity with UAE after attempted Houthi attack

• Pakistan's ambassador to Iran condoles demise of Ayatollah Safi Golpaygani

• Backdoor diplomacy with India ongoing, may bear fruit: Mian Mansha

• Govt hoping PM Imran’s China trip can reinvigorate CPEC

• Prosecution submits evidence in Altaf Hussain hate speech trial

• JIT report on Chaman bomb blast to be made public: CM Bizenjo


Arab World

• Vatican foreign minister urges peace in troubled Lebanon

• Analysis: Lebanon’s savers to bear burden under new rescue plan

• Turkish jets target Kurdish positions in Iraq, Syria; four die

• ISIS resurfacing aided by power vacuum in Iraq, Syria

• UAE intercepts, destroys three drones targeting the country: Defense Ministry

• Israel defense minister on first-ever visit to Bahrain

• UAE welcomes Somali apology for seized cash, easing dispute

• 9 civilians killed in YPG/PKK rocket attack in northwestern Syria



• Israel non-committal amid US pressure over Palestinian’s death

• President Rayeesi: Even US Admits Failure of Maximum Pressure against Iran

• Iran, Australia FMs Review Bilateral Ties

• President Rayeesi Calls for Expansion of Iran-China Ties

• Israel participates in huge US Gulf naval exercise alongside Saudi Arabia, Oman

• Iran state TV streaming site targeted with dissident message

• Turkish consul general visits West Bank city of Salfit


North America

• US expects full accountability for death of elderly Palestinian-American in West Bank

• Senator: US got nothing from Trump's "maximum pressure"

• US-led joint naval drill begins with Israel and Muslim nations

• US re-offers $10 mln for information on Iran hackers accused of election interference

• Washington threatens Yemen’s Houthis with new sanctions



• Turkey: 12 bodies of migrants recovered at Greek border

• Lisa Smith 'led astray' by Islamic State, court hears

• Turkey, Armenia resume charter flights amid thawing ties

• Pope Francis appoints new ambassador to Turkiye

• Turkish president to visit Ukraine, attend high-level council meeting

• Australian SAS corporal ‘executed unarmed Afghan,’ court hears



• Hijab: Court adjourns alleged violation of FHR cases between ISI-UI, Muslim students till March 11

• Tunisian president denies a coup but holds power tight

• Economic pain threatens social and political chaos in Tunisia

• King of Jordan: Security of Saudi Arabia and Jordan is indivisible

• Burkina Faso junta lifts nationwide curfew in force since coup


Southeast Asia

• Militants killed by soldiers in mosque shootout

• Nasdaq bell-ringing ceremony featured Chinese official who called genocide of Uyghur Muslims 'lies'

• Khairy sues Lokman, Islamic preacher over vax-linked online posts

• Xi promises a ‘safe and splendid’ Olympics in Beijing

• Holocaust museum causes stir in Indonesia

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Educational crisis, 229 professors left Afghanistan since Taliban takeover

03 Feb 2022

The findings of BBC indicate that 229 university lecturers from the top three universities in Afghanistan have left Afghanistan for foreign countries since the Taliban took over on August 15 last year.

The professors have left Kabul University, Herat University, and Balkh University.

Among the professors who have left, most of them held Masters or/and Ph.D. Degrees.

As per the findings of BBC, most of the professors were from Kabul University-the biggest and the most important University- that amount to 112.

The 229 professors do not include those who are on vacation abroad or those who left Afghanistan for treatment or studies purposes during the past six months.

The findings show that 50 professors from Kabul University have left Afghanistan for the above-mentioned purposes.

Most of the professors were from the faculty of literature of Kabul University accounted for 27.

Among them, the department of French had 7 professors, all of who have left and now there is no professor in the department to teach.

Source: Khaama Press

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Sadhvi incites sexual violence against Muslim women at Chhattisgarh dharm sansad

2nd February 2022

A Sadhvi incites sexual violence against Muslim women at the Dharma Sansad in Chhattisgarh on December 26. (Screengrab Twitter)


A video from the Dharma Sansad in Chattisgarh has surfaced on social media, where a Hindutva leader, a sadhvi, can be seen making objectionable remarks against Muslim women.

The Sadhvi calls upon the Hindu youth to step up action against inter-faith marriages between Hindus and Muslims. She directs the youth to create fear among Muslim men to stay away from Hindu girls.

“If any Muslim man laid their eyes on a Hindu girl from today onwards, their women will give birth to Hindu children, without a nikah or pheras,” threatens the Sadhvi, openly inciting sexual violence against Muslim women.

The Sadhvi further instructs the youth to keep track of Hindu women to ensure that they do not fall for Muslim men. “If a Hindu girl runs away with Muslim youth, go after her, bring her back. Thrash the girl and her parents and question them,” she says.

The video of the Sadhvi that has surfaced on Twitter is from the ‘dharam sansad’ held in Raipur on December 26, the same event where Maharaj Kalicharan had made objectionable comments against Mahatma Gandhi, following which he was arrested.

Kalicharan was the only accused arrested in the Chattisgarh Dharma Sansad event but only on sedition charges for using derogatory language against Mahatma Gandhi.

Source: Siasat Daily

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Pakistani Sunni scholar: Conspiracies cannot weaken Islamic Revolution

February 3, 2022

A Pakistani religious scholar says the Islamic Revolution of Iran is a source of inspiration for the entire Muslim World and cannot be weakened through conspiracies.


A Pakistani religious scholar says the Islamic Revolution of Iran is a source of inspiration for the entire Muslim World and cannot be weakened through conspiracies.

Mufti Gulzar Ahmad Naimi head of 'Jamaat Ahle Haram’ said that Imam Khomeini brought the Islamic Revolution at a time when the entire Muslim world was controlled by the West and lost its identity.

“Imam Khomeini with his vision guided the Muslims all over the world to stand against the oppression and led the Iranian nation to revolt against the tyranny according to the principles of Islam,” he noted.

He said the Islamic Revolution is a beacon light for the oppressed nations of the world.

Mufti Gulzar Ahmad Naimi said that the Islamic Revolution was based on Islamic principles and there was no self-interest involved.

The scholar said that many Arab states of the region had tried to weaken the Islamic revolution under Western influence but failed miserably to accomplish their evil designs.

“Islamic Revolution has the support of Allah Almighty and cannot be weakened through conspiracies,” said head of 'Jamaat Ahle Haram’.

He said that from the very first day of the victory of the Islamic Revolution the West has been doing negative propaganda against the Islamic Republic.

Mufti Gulzar Ahmad Naimi expressing his views said that even now the Islamic Revolution is continuing to inspire Muslims around the world. 

He added that brave nations of Lebanon and Syria have stood victorious because of the principles of the Islamic Revolution and even the Yemeni nation today is fighting against a much larger and powerful enemy under the guidelines of the Islamic Revolution.

The religious scholar went on to say that the future of the Islamic Revolution is bright and will going to flourish in times to come.

Source: ABNA24

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Saudi regime arrests another well-known Shia Muslim religious scholar

February 3, 2022

The Saudi regime has arrested Sheikh Kadhim al-Amri, a leading Shia Muslim religious scholar in the holy city of Medina, without any charges.


The Saudi regime has arrested Sheikh Kadhim al-Amri, a leading Shia Muslim religious scholar in the holy city of Medina, without any charges.

Local sources reported the development on Tuesday, saying the arrestee — who is the son of the late Sheikh Muhammad al-Amri — was transferred by Saudi security forces to an “unknown location” upon detention.

Sheikh Amri is the custodian of a famous mosque in Medina and represents Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Sistani in the holy city. He had been arrested once in 2010 too.

His arrest came only a couple of days after a court in Saudi Arabia sentenced Shia Muslim religious scholar Sheikh Abdul Latif al-Nasser to eight years in prison on “terrorism charges.”

Sheikh Nasser had likewise been placed under arbitrary arrest while traveling with his family on the King Fahd Causeway, which connects Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, in June 2019.

Source: ABNA24

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Yemen's Ansarullah Leader: US, Israel, ‘True Enemies’ of Muslims


TEHRAN (FNA)- Leader of the Yemeni popular Ansarullah resistance movement called the United States and the Israeli regime "enemies number one" to Muslims around the world.


“Americans and Israelis try to abuse the problems that lie within the [international Muslim] Ummah (Nation) towards furthering their own plots,” Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi said on Tuesday while receiving tribal delegations from across war-torn Yemen, presstv reported.

“Israel and its mercenaries consider the Yemeni nation to be their common enemy,” he added.

Al-Houthi was referring to the regional Arab states that have entered US-backed normalization agreements with the Israeli regime and have, ever since, been trying to ingratiate themselves to the occupying regime by aligning their positions with it.

“The [adversarial] positions that the United Arab Emirates, the Zionist regime, and Saudi Arabia [adopt] against the Yemeni people during their meetings is very clear,” the Houthi leader noted.

The UAE was one of the regional states that normalized its relations with the Israeli regime via the Washington-mediated so-called “Abraham Accords” in August 2020.

Several other regional states followed suit. Saudi Arabia has not yet clinched any explicit normalization agreement with Tel Aviv, but has once received the occupying regime’s former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and recently opened its airspace to a UAE-headed flight that was carrying Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

Al-Houthi attacked Riyadh’s double-standards in dealing with the occupying regime and the Yemeni people, asking how come would the kingdom open up its skies to the Israeli officials' plane, but at the same time would forbid the Yemeni people from travelling within the kingdom.

The Emirates is also Saudi Arabia’s main ally in a 2015-present war and simultaneous siege that the kingdom has been leading against Yemen in order to change the impoverished country’s ruling structure.

The war has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis and turned the entire country into the scene of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

On Tuesday, the spokesman for the Yemeni Armed Forces, repeated a threat he had leveled against the UAE last week, in which he had warned that — with the Emirates' ongoing involvement in the devastating war — the country’s popular Dubai Expo 2020 might be the next target of Yemen’s retaliatory strikes.

“To be safe…we repeat the advice,” Brigadier General Yahya Saree wrote in a tweet that incorporated Expo as its only hashtag.

Precisely this time last week, Saree had urged the events’ participants “to change” their destination.

In the space of a single month, the Yemeni army and its allied popular committees have carried out several rounds of retaliatory strikes against targets in Dubai and the Emirati capital of Abu Dhabi.

Sana’a has also warned Abu Dhabi that the counterstrikes would be exceedingly “painful” if the latter failed to wind down its involvement in the Saudi-led war.

Source: Fars News Agency

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US advice to banks: OK to transfer aid money to Afghanistan

02 February ,2022

Taliban fighters stand guard at the courtyard of the Hazrat-e-Ali shrine or Blue Mosque, in Mazar-i-Sharif on October 30, 2021. (AFP)


International banks can transfer money to Afghanistan for humanitarian purposes, and aid groups are allowed to pay teachers and healthcare workers at state-run institutions without fear of breaching sanctions on the Taliban, the United States said on Wednesday.

The US Treasury Department offered guidance on sanctions exemptions issued in September and December for humanitarian work in Afghanistan, where the United Nations says more than half the country’s 39 million people suffer extreme hunger and the economy, education and social services are facing collapse.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last week warned Afghanistan was “hanging by a thread.”

The Taliban, which have long been blacklisted by the US as a terrorist group, seized power from Afghanistan’s internationally backed government in August. Billions of dollars in Afghan central bank reserves and international development aid were frozen to prevent it from falling into Taliban hands.

International banks have been wary of Afghanistan and the UN and aid groups are struggling to get enough money into the country to fund operations.

The US Treasury said banks can process transactions related to humanitarian operations “including clearing,

settlement, and transfers through, to, or otherwise involving privately owned and state-owned Afghan depository institutions.”

It also outlined permitted transactions involving the Taliban, which include the also blacklisted Haqqani Network. These include signing agreements to provide aid directly to the Afghan people, general aid coordination, including import administration, and sharing of office space.

“Payments of taxes, fees, or import duties to, or the purchase or receipt of permits, licenses, or public utility services from” the Taliban, Haqqani Network or any entity in which they own more than 50 percent is authorized for humanitarian operations, the Treasury said.

It also said aid groups are allowed to ship cash to Afghanistan for humanitarian operations and can make direct payments to healthcare workers and teachers in public hospitals and schools.

Source: Al Arabiya

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South Asia


Armed, Uniformed Islamic Emirate Forces Must Stay Out of Parks

February 3, 2022

Armed and uniformed forces of the Islamic Emirate are forbidden from entering parks and other entertainment areas across the country, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

The decision was made by the caretaker cabinet of the Islamic Emirate last Monday, according to the spokesman.

“Based on a government cabinet decision, the forces of the Islamic Emirate are not allowed to enter parks or other entertainment areas while being armed and wearing uniforms,” said Inamullah Samangani, deputy spokesman for the Islamic Emirate.

Citizens welcomed the decision of the government.

“We sincerely call on them to not enter with military equipment--not only the parks but in the hospitals, schools, mosques because it affects the morale of the society,” said Mansour, a resident of Kabul.

“We welcome the decision made by the Islamic Emirate. It is a good act because parks are places for families and as all parks have their own guards, there is no need for security forces,” said Farida another resident.

Islamic Emirate Spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said on Twitter that all forces of the Islamic Emirate are obliged to adhere to the rules in entertainment areas.

Analysts believe that the Islamic Emirate’s forces need to receive professional training.

“Armed military personnel, and individuals with military equipment, should be banned because the areas (parks) are designed for common people and children who need to walk and enjoy a calm environment,” said Gen. Samar Sadat, a military expert.

Source: Tolo News

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Afghanistan law of media still applicable: Mjahid

02 Feb 2022

Deputy Minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Zabiullah Mujahid said that the previous law of media in Afghanistan is still applicable but added that two other commissions regarding media will be created soon.

Speaking at a gathering of the Afghan Journalist Safety Committee in Kabul on Wednesday, February 2, 2022, Zabiullah Mujahid said that the two commissions will be, a commission of violation of rules of media and a joint commission of media and government in Afghanistan.

The Deputy Minister also said that after the creation of a commission of violation of rules of media, no government administration will be allowed to interfere in Afghan media outlets.

“Works on creation of the law of access to information is going on and the result will be announced as soon as they complete the law. Afghan women and girls can work at media in Afghanistan but they should wear Islamic hijab.” Said Mujahid.

Source: Khaama Press

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Islamic Emirate Reopens Universities for in Hot Areas

February 2, 2022

KABUL: The Islamic Emirate on Wednesday said they have reopened public universities for all in hot areas that include six provinces of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.

Since they swept into power in mid-August, the international community has watched to see whether the Islamic Emirate will impose restrictions on women or not. The international community has repeatedly voiced concerns over the closure of schools and universities for female students.

The Taliban have imposed several restrictions, many of them on women, since their takeover — women have been banned from many jobs outside the health and teaching sector, and girls have not been able to go to school after grade six.

This comes as the European Parliament is hosting a two-day conference about Afghan women to assess the situation of women in Afghanistan.

Source: Afghanistan Times

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Two disappeared journalists released in Kabul

03 Feb 2022

Two Afghan journalists named Waris Hasrat and Aslam Hijab were released on Wednesday, February 2, 2022, after being in detention of the Taliban for two days.

Their TV channel, Ariana TV confirmed the news and added that the journalists were released after not being found guilty.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has not commented on the detention of journalists but both the United Nations and the General Amnesty had accused the Taliban of having kidnapped the journalists.

UNAMA in a Twitter post said that the Taliban should find the whereabouts of the two journalists and released them.

This comes two weeks after two women activists disappeared from their houses and are still missing.

Source: Khaama Press

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US allows money transfer to Afghanistan, lifted many financial sanctions

03 Feb 2022

The United States said that international banks can transfer money to Afghanistan fur humanitarian purposes and that the aid agencies can also pay the salaries of teachers and health workers in all state-run institutions.

As per the new announcement of the US, aid groups and international banks will violate no sanctions by doing so.

This comes a week after UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that Afghanistan is hanging by a thread.

The US Department of Treasury has said the international banks can process transactions related to humanitarian operations that include settlement, clearing, and transfer through or otherwise involving privately owned and state-owned Afghan depository institutions.

In the meantime, the department permitted transactions involving the Taliban, which also include the blacklisted Haqqani Network.

Based on the permission of the US Treasury, these transactions include signing agreements to provide aid directly to the Afghan people, general aid coordination, including import, administration, and sharing the office.

“Payments of taxes, fees, or import duties to, or the purchase or receipt of permits, licenses, or public utility services from” the Taliban, Haqqani Network or any entity in which they own more than 50 percent is authorized for humanitarian operations, the Treasury said.

Source: Khaama Press

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Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir denies any ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which began an anti-India campaign in September.

FEB 02,2022

Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir was banned for five years in 2019 due to its close links with terrorist organisations. The Muslim Brotherhood launched a boycott movement against India in September last year to dent its image.

Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) India, February 2: Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir denied links to the Muslim Brotherhood, a transnational Islamist organization that launched an anti-India campaign in September last year, and said it was not involved in the running of any conference.All the complaints raised about Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir's participation in the conference Russell Tribunal on Kashmir held in Sarajevo, Bosnia, Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir said in a statement released today that it was a religious body working for the happiness of humanity at large in accordance with the divine guidance of Islam.People and organizations should not claim to be affiliated with Jamaat and attempt to shame the organization.We are not involved in any discussion, it said.In 2019, Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir was banned for five years due to its close links with terrorist organisations.

Source: The Times Bureau

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Indore: Accused of 'Love Jihad' After Travelling With Friend, Muslim Man Languishes in Jail

03rd February 2022

Bhopal: It was 2:30 am on January 24 when the Indore police came knocking at 30-year-old Asif Shaikh’s two-room house in Azad Nagar, taking his elderly parents and pregnant wife by surprise. It was a bad omen for the Shaikh family, who are still trying to understand why their son was taken off an Ajmer-bound train by members of the Bajrang Dal after they found Asif travelling with a Hindu woman, Sakshi Jain, and accused him of committing ‘love jihad’.

It had come as some relief to Asif and his family that Jain, after being abruptly taken to the Ujjain railway police station, had stood firm and denied that Asif had pressurised her in any way.

According to Asif’s mother Mumtaz Shaikh (50), Asif had known Jain since 2016, when she married his school friend Aman Yadav.

But nearly 10 days after the train episode, neither Mumtaz nor anyone else in the family had the slightest idea what the police might have come looking for late at night. “Before we could even ask them what they were looking for, the police barged into our house and began questioning us like we were some hardened criminals, without any warrant or anything in hand. It was after some time that we were told that Asif had loaned money to some people and they wanted to question Asif over it,” said Mumtaz.

Mumtaz was asked to bring Asif to the police station the next morning for the required questioning. It was only after reaching the police station with Asif that Mumtaz was told that he has been booked for forceful religious conversion along with extortion on a complaint made by Sakshi Jain the night before.

Jain approached the Mhow police station at 11 pm on January 23 and submitted a written application alleging that Asif secretly took objectionable photos of her and began blackmailing her. He was also pressurising her to convert in a bid to get married, the complain alleged. The police booked Asif under Section 384 (punishment for extortion) of the IPC and Sections 3 (prohibition of unlawful conversion from one religion to another) and 5 (punishments for contravention of Section 3) of the MP Freedom of Religion Act, 2021.

This comes in sharp contrast to the statement given by the superintendent of police for Ujjain GRP, Nivedita Gupta, who had clarified that the parents of both Sakshi Jain and Asif Shaikh were called to the police station and after it was learnt that the two are family friends, the two were let go.

Speaking to The Wire, Gupta had then said, “As they were two consenting adults and there was no crime, the two were let go.” In another video of the incident from inside the railway police station at Ujjain, Jain was seen shouting at the Bajrang Dal men saying, “Your one misunderstanding will spoil my life. I work as a teacher and teach children.”

It’s only after Jain said in a written statement that the two are family friends, travelling to Ajmer with their families’ consent, that the police did not file an FIR and handed the two over to their parents. The videos of the two being taken off the train, with Asif was being beaten up by Bajrang Dal men on the way to the police station, had gone viral on social media and made national headlines.

“The cops did not reveal that Sakshi has lodged an FIR of forceful conversion. It was only while arresting Asif that the police revealed that he was booked for extortion and forceful conversion in a case filed by Sakshi,” said Mumtaz.

Admitting to this, Arun Solanki, station house in-charge of the Mhow police station, said, “The FIR was lodged around 11 pm on a written application made by the victim Sakshi Jain on January 23. And we have gone to Asif’s home to question his family member at midnight. We arrested Asif only after his mother brought him to the police station the following day around 2 pm.”

The following day, Asif was produced before the court and sent to Mhow jail.

Sessions judge Sashi Singh of Dr Ambedkar Nagar Court in Indore rejected Asif’s bail application after the police claimed “his bail may create furore and communal tension may erupt”.

Despite repeated attempts, Jain and her husband Aman Yadav refused to comment when asked about their friendship with Asif. “We will not comment. Aapko jo likhna hai likho (You write whatever you want),” both said over the phone before disconnecting the call.

Asif’s mother, Mumtaz, claimed that Aman, Sakshi and Asif were friends and often visited each other’s homes. “Asif and Aman are schoolmates. When Asif got married in November 2021, Sakshi and Aman played an important role. Asif’s wife was also familiar with Aman and Sakshi,” said Mumtaz.

She added that Jain has even given Asif Rs 20,000 as a loan after his business suffered during the two COVID-19-induced lockdowns.

When asked about the January 14 incident, when Bajrang Dal men assaulted the duo at the Ujjain railway station, Mumtaz said, “We know that Asif was going to Ajmer with his friend. Asif’s wife and I together packed his luggage. They had a return ticket for the following day.”

Not only has Asif’s bail plea been rejected, Mumtaz was also denied an appointment to meet her in jail when she tried on February 1. According to Mumtaz, after she went to meet the jailer seeking an appointment to see Asif, she was told that Asif has tested positive for COVID-19.

Source: The Wire

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Karnataka: Hindu boys of another Udupi college adorn saffron as Muslim girls defy hijab diktat

2nd February 2022

At another government school in Karnataka’s Udupi, male students adorned saffron scarves around their necks in a protest after Muslim girls defied the state’s new hijab diktat.

A hijab row has erupted in the state of Karnataka as girl students are forced to attend schools and colleges without a hijab despite religious mandate.

Boys of the government college in Udupi’s Kundapura came to the institution adorning saffron scarves after hijabi Muslims turned down the management’s order to attend college without headscarves, as per the state’s new guidelines.

After the girls denied to defy their religious mandate over the government’s hijab diktat, several Hindu boys came to college wearing saffron scarves, in protest.

The school management held a meeting with the parents of the Muslim students, alongside a local MLA.

In the video from the meeting that surfaced on social media, parents can be heard saying that we have never discriminated against any religion and sent our students to the college during all Hindu festivals.

“Our children have attended college during all Hindu festivals be it Onam or Holi. Everybody came to college on those days. Nobody remained absent. When it comes to Hijab it is mandatory. We have to do it,” said a parent.

“They are students why are you dragging them into this? Don’t discriminate between them. They come here to study,” said another parent.

The controversy that has been raging since early January, forced the state to call for a committee to look into the matter and take a call on pre-university college uniforms across the state.

The state had directed students, of all colleges, to shun the Hijab until the report of the high-level committee formed in this regard is submitted.

Source: Siasat Daily

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SP only wants Muslim votes, not Muslim leadership: Maulana Shahabuddin Rizvi

2nd February 2022

Bareily: Maulana Shahabuddin Rizvi, the General Secretary of All India Tanzeem Ulama E Islam on Wednesday, launched a scathing attack on Samajwadi Party stating, “it only wants Muslim votes but not Muslim leadership.”

“Samajwadi Party wants Muslim votes, but it wants to end Muslim leadership,” Rizvi told ANI.

He also said that Muslims are looking for a better alternative in this upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections that are scheduled to take place in seven phases beginning from February 10.

“Muslims are looking for a better alternative in this assembly elections, not for Samajwadi Party, but for Congress or All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen,” he added.

Source: Siasat Daily

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Samastha to keep off Muslim Coordination Committee

03rd February 2022

KOZHIKODE: Samastha Kerala Jam-Iyyathul Ulema has decided not to be a part of the permanent Muslim Coordination Committee that has declared agitations against the government’s decision to hand over the appointments in Waqf Board to Public Services Commission (PSC).

The decision was taken at the Samastha central mushawara (consultative body) meeting last month and was communicated at the meeting of the Samastha Coordination Committee held at Chelari in Malappuram two days ago. Samastha Coordination Committee is the forum of all the feeder outfits that come under the parent organisation. 

Though Samastha said that a permanent mechanism is unnecessary, it will participate in the meetings convened by Panakkad Thangals as and when urgent issues concerning the Muslim community arise.  

Source: New Indian Express

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No significant damage to public property in J&K due to terror incidents between Aug 2019 & Jan 2022

Bharti Jain

Feb 2, 2022

NEW DELHI: Damages to private property in Jammu and Kashmir on account of terror incidents since the abrogation of Article 370, were assessed at Rs 5.3 crore, the home ministry told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

MoS Nityanand Rai, in reply to a written question, informed that no significant public property was damaged in the 541 terror incidents witnessed in J&K between August 5, 2019 and January 26, 2022.

Source: Times Of India

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What the Indian American Muslim Council is all about, and why it has irked the Centre

February 02, 2022

Former vice-president Hamid Ansari, along with four US lawmakers, sparked controversy on 26 January as he raised concerns over the human rights situation in India.

Ansari was speaking at a panel discussion organised by the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), which in the past has raised issues pertaining to the safety and security of Muslims in India.

Participating in the virtual panel discussion from India, Ansari expressed his concern over the rising trend of Hindu nationalism.

His allegation of "intolerance", "insinuating otherness", and "promoting disquiet and insecurity" on the current government were not received well. Several BJP leaders have since spoken strongly against the former vice-president.

Also read: Hamid Ansari comments on human rights irk BJP: What you need to know about controversy

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) also criticised Ansari’s comments and the Indian American Muslim Council.

MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said “the track record of event organisers is as well known as the biases and political interests of the participants”.

Let’s take a look at the IAMC’s controversial history and its tussle with Indian law:

– The Indian American Muslim Council was founded in 2002 by Sheikh Ubaid after the Godhra riots.

– IAMC is headed by Rasheed Ahmed, who was executive director (2008-17) of Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA) which was accused of looting public COVID funds. Meanwhile, IMANA’s Director of Operations Zahid Mahmood is an ex-PakIstan Navy official.

– According to its website, the IAMC is “the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the US”.

– The organisation has been outspoken about alleged crimes against minorities in India.

– According to News18, the IAMC had reportedly collected funds for the cause of the Rohingya crisis and paid to lobby firm FGR for getting India blacklisted by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

– FGR head Terry Allen was a long-time associate of Nadine Maenza, USCIRF Chair. IAMC’s Sheikh Ubaid is friends with Abdul Malik Mujahid, who headed Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA): the US front for Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan.

The ICNA has known links with Pak-based terror groups including LeT.

– After the 26 January event, minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that the organisation had links with SIMI (Students’ Islamic Movement of India) and ISI of Pakistan.

"This Indo-American Muslim Council, who had a link with SIMI and ISI, who used to propagate anti-India bashing and Modi bashing, has done it again," Naqvi said.

What did Ansari and others say during the online event

The former vice president said that in recent years, the country has “experienced the emergence of trends and practises that dispute the well-established principle of civic nationalism”.

“…and interposes a new and imaginary practice of cultural nationalism. It seeks to present an electoral majority in the guise of a religious majority and monopolized political power. It wants to distinguish citizens on the basis of their faith, give vent to intolerance, insinuate otherness, and promote disquiet and insecurity,” Ansari said.

He added: “Some of its recent manifestations are chilling and reflect poorly on our claim to be governed by rule of law. It's a question that has to be answered. These trends need to be contested and contested legally and contested politically.”

US senator Ed Markey, Congressmen Jim McGovern, Andy Levin and Jamie Raskin were among the speakers at the session. Markey is known for his anti-India stands in the past including opposing the India-US civil nuclear deal during the Manmohan Singh regime.

The other three Congressmen also have a history of taking anti-India stands irrespective of the governments at the Centre.

Levin said that the world’s largest democracy was seen backsliding as human rights are under attack.

"Regrettably, today, the world's largest democracy is seeing backsliding, human rights under attack and religious nationalism. Since 2014, India has fallen from 27 to 53 on the Democracy Index. And Freedom House has downgraded India from free to partly free," Levin said.

IAMC’s response to Naqvi’s claims

– While denying all allegations made by Naqvi, the IAMC challenged the government to “furnish evidence to prove even one of these baseless and fraudulent claims”.

“IAMC does not have ties to Pakistan, ISI or SIMI. IAMC has zero history of spreading communal violence in India,” it said.

– It said that SIMI has been banned eight times under UAPA since 2001 and never in these years IAMC was linked to SIMI.

“SIMI has been banned eight times under the Unlawful (Activities) Prevention Act since 2001. Each time, the ban was adjudicated upon at a tribunal constituted under a high court judge. Not once in all these years has India’s federal government claimed at the court that IAMC is linked with SIMI,” it said in a statement.

Source: First Post

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Linguistic Identity Scores Over Religious Identity In Assam

Seema Guha

02 FEB 2022

The people of Assam have always had fears of being reduced to a minority in their own state. This fear was there from the time of the British Raj.

In fact, when India was portioned in 1947, Gopinath Bordoloi, the then Prime Minister (yes, he was called  PM) of Assam, played a pivotal role in ensuring that the Sylhet area, which was then a part of Assam, was transferred to East Pakistan. This was because the Barak valley of Assam adjoins Sylhet,  both with Bengali speaking populations. Taken together, they could have overwhelmed the Assamese speakers of the state. Bordoloi, an important Congress leader, made sure through his links with the party big-wigs in New Delhi that Sylhet be part of former East Pakistan. A referendum was held and Sylhet went to Pakistan. Identity in Assam is linked to language. Assam in the past witnessed several anti-Bengali language riots.   

The All-Assam Student Union movement against Bangladeshi immigrants in the late 70s and early 80s was initially not so much anti-Muslim,(Assamese speaking Muslims were never targeted) as anti-foreign nationals from Bangladesh.  Later it also became anti-Muslim rode on the back of exaggerated fears of Assam becoming India’s second Muslim majority state after Kashmir. This was also fueled by RSS working on the ground as well as the BJP who were then not the major forces it is now.

The agitation against foreign nationals ended with the signing of the  Assam Accord in 1985, where Clause 6  spoke of "constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social and linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people."

But in the mosaic that makes up the people of the state -Ahom’s, the many tribals who live in the state, upper castes that had migrated from North India, Bengali speaking people of the Barak valley, the tea garden labour, Bangladeshi immigrants, initially brought in by the British to clear the malarial plains of the Brahmaputra and turn it into fertile agricultural land. – the question remains who is an Assamese.

That question had haunted Assam since the beginning. The National Register of Citizens of 1951, as a result of that effort. The student agitation in Assam was to clean the state’s electoral rolls and ensure that only genuine citizens would-be voters. The students believed that illegal Muslim  Bengali-speaking migrants from former East Pakistan were being encouraged by the ruling Congress party to come into Assam and form a solid vote bank for the party.

In the Assam Accord, the cut-off for citizenship was March 24, 1971, meaning all those who entered India from former East Pakistan before midnight of that date were accepted as Indian citizens. The rest of the Muslim Bengali speakers would be deported to Bangladesh. When the agreement between the student leaders, the state government and the centre were signed, they were given the assurance that the NRC of 1951 would be updated, to throw out all those who were not genuine citizens. But so long as the Congress and later the UPA ruled nothing moved.

The revision and update of the NRC in Assam was ordered by the Supreme Court to settle the issue of citizenship. When the final updated list of the NRC was published on August 31, 2019, the number of foreigners were found to be just 19.07 lakh, a far cry from the exaggerated figures of both the All-Assam Student Union and the BJP, which had swept the assembly elections in the state and were in power for the first time in 2016. Ever since there was a steady drumbeat by the party both in the state and centre of Assam being taken over by illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. To add to the discomfiture of the BJP, a large section was  Bengali Hindus, the vote bank of the party not just in Assam, but in Tripura as well as West Bengal where state polls were due. The BJP had since the beginning of the movement against Bangladeshi influx supported the students and the people of Assam, as it fell in line with its Hindutva ideology.

Source: Outlook India

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Hindu businessman shot dead in Pakistan, protesters block highway

Feb 2, 2022

KARACHI: A Hindu businessman was shot dead in Pakistan's Sindh province on Monday by influential elements allegedly belonging to the Dahar community, living 2 km away from the Daharki town of Ghotki district, reported local media.

Satan Lal, the businessman, was shot dead on Monday over a piece of land in Ghotki district, reported The Express Tribune.

"There was an inauguration of a cotton factory and flour mill on the land of Satan Lal where some people shot and killed him," The Express Tribune quoted Lal's friend Mukhi Anil Kumar, who was present at the scene, as saying over the phone.

"We initially thought that it was the aerial firing to welcome Saen Sadhram Saheb, spiritual leader of the community," he added."They are threatening to kill me, smash my eyes and cut my hands and feet. They are asking me to leave Pakistan. I belong to this country and will prefer to die here but will not surrender," said Satan Lal in a video that went viral a few months ago."The roadside land belongs to me and why should I give it up," he was further quoted as saying. Late Lal had requested the chief justice of Pakistan and other authorities to provide him justice, naming those who were threatening to kill him.

On Tuesday, a large number of protesters blocked the National Highway to protest the killing of the Hindu businessman.

Following the sit-in, police arrested ring leader Bachal Dahar and his accomplices accused of killing Lal. Earlier, in an attempt to press the law enforcement agency to apprehend the culprits, the locals had staged a protest in front of the Daharki police.

The culprits involved in the incident have been arrested and protesters have now cleared the highway, said Deputy Inspector General (DIG) police Sukkur.A two-acre land triggered the dispute. Around eight years ago, some people had shot and injured Satan Lal who also came under attack a few months ago, claimed local journalists from the area.

Efforts were afoot to tarnish the image of co-existence in Sindh where Hindus and Muslims live peacefully for centuries, said Khehal Das Kohistani, a lawmaker of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

Girls of the Hindu community were forcibly converted and people were being kidnapped and killed, claimed the PML-N leader.

Stressing that the situation will spiral out of control if protection is not given to the minorities living in the province, Kohistani urged the Chief Minister, IG police and others to take notice of the situation and provide justice and protection to the aggrieved Hindu families facing threats, according to The Express Tribune.

The incident came after a 44-year-old Hindu businessman Sunil Kumar was shot dead by unidentified persons at Anaj Mandi in Sindh Province of Pakistan in early January.

Source: Times Of India

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4 terrorists, 1 soldier killed in attacks on security posts in Pakistan

Feb 3, 2022

KARACHI: Armed assailants attacked two security forces' camps in Pakistan's restive southwestern Balochistan province, triggering an intense exchange of fire in which at least four terrorists and a soldier were killed, the military's media wing said.

The attacks, claimed later by the banned Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), took place in Panjgur and Noshki districts on Wednesday. In Panjgur, the terrorists tried to enter a security forces' camp from two locations while in Noshki they attempted to get into a Frontier Corps (FC) post which was "promptly responded".

In a statement, the military's media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said: "both attacks were successfully repulsed, inflicting heavy casualties on terrorists”.

Four terrorists and a soldier were killed in the shoot-out, besides an officer was injured in one of the attacks, the statement said, adding that "intermittent firing" was going on.

Earlier, a Frontier Corps spokesperson confirmed that two blasts had taken place near the camps in Panjgur and Noshki which were followed by intense firing.

The BLA claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement. The separatist outfit has recently stepped up attacks on security forces and installations.

The attacks on Wednesday were the latest in a string of such assaults in Balochistan and come a week after ten soldiers were killed in a terrorist attack on a security forces' checkpost in the province's Kech district.

Three Levies Force personnel and a Bugti tribal leader were killed and eight others injured on January 28 in bomb blasts in the Sui area of Dera Bugti.

Source: Times Of India

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PM expresses solidarity with UAE after attempted Houthi attack

February 2, 2022

PM Imran Khan on Wednesday spoke to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Deputy Supreme Commander and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and expressed solidarity after an attempted Houthi attack.

According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, PM Imran Khan condemned the attempted missile attack by Houthis against the UAE on January 30, 2022.

He further lauded the timely and effective air defence response of the UAE that saved precious lives.

It is pertinent to note that the PM expressed abiding solidarity with the leadership, government and the people of the UAE.

The PM further reaffirmed Pakistan’s abiding support for efforts to protect and promote regional peace and security through dialogue and diplomacy.

He also expressed deep concern at the recent escalation in attacks that have seriously threatened regional peace and security.

Source: Pakistan Today

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Pakistan's ambassador to Iran condoles demise of Ayatollah Safi Golpaygani

February 3, 2022

The Ambassador of Pakistan to the Islamic Republic of Iran while condoling the demise of Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpaygani said that his services to Islam and suffering Muslims will long be remembered.

Rahim Hayat Qureshi in a tweet on Wednesday said that Pakistan expresses its deepest condolences on passing away of Grand Ayatollah Safi Golpaygani.

“His services to Islam, Iran and suffering Muslims everywhere including Kashmiris will long be remembered,” he said.

A number of Pakistani religious figures, senior Shiite clerics, and heads of seminaries in the country also sent separate messages to condole the demise of Ayatollah Safi Golpaygani.

Secretary General of Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) Allama Raja Nasir Abbas Jaffari, Chairman of Ummat-e-Wahida Pakistan Allama Muhammad Amin Shaheedi, and the Association of Shiite Friday Imams in Karachi expressed their condolences.

Ayatollah Safi Golpaygani passed away at the age of 103 on early Tuesday.

Source: ABNA24

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Backdoor diplomacy with India ongoing, may bear fruit: Mian Mansha

February 3, 2022

LAHORE: Pakistan’s leading businessman Mian Muhammad Mansha claims that backchannels are working between Pakistan and India that will hopefully yield good results.

“If things improve between the two neighbours, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi could visit Pakistan in a month,” the chairman of Nishat Group told a gathering of businessmen at the Lahore Chambers of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday.

He advised the two countries to resolve their disputes and start trade to fight poverty in the region.

“If the economy does not improve, the country may face disastrous consequences. Pakistan should improve trade relations with India and take a regional approach to economic development. Europe fought two great wars, but ultimately settled for peace and regional development. There is no permanent enmity.”

Trade relations between Pak­istan and India have been suspended since August 2019 when New Delhi revoked the law providing special status or autonomy to occupied Kashmir. There have been reports of backchannel talks last summer between the two economies of the region brokered by a Gulf state. However, the government said the talks were discontinued due to Indian repression of the people of held Kashmir, as well as its refusal to recall its troops from the valley and restore its special status.

On the domestic front, Mian Mansha said “progressive, market-oriented policies” were the key to success. Through price control to capital market operations, reducing trade barriers and minimising state influence on the economy, especially through privatisation and austerity, Pakistan can truly achieve rapid growth.

Privatisation, he added, promotes various sectors of the economy. The telecom sector is an example where privatisation has enabled everyone to gain access to everything from telephone to cheap calls.

“Good deeds of the state should be appreciated. It is good that motorways were built in the country, development work was carried out expeditiously, but the state should focus on the sectors on which billions of rupees are being lost annually,” he suggested.

Mian Mansha said privatisation of airports, along with the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), would boost their efficiency and standards, and the sector would become economical.

The railways, he further said, was a lucrative entity during British rule, but has now become a liability for the state. “One of the reasons for the high electricity cost is state intervention.”

He emphasised the importance of improving relations with countries in the neighbourhood and said one of the reasons for Europe’s development was its softening of borders and promotion of bilateral trade.

He further said that in no other country gas was supplied through pipes and resources wasted on such a large scale. “The system is a burden on the state and major changes are needed in the structure of the bureaucracy,” he added.

Mian Nauman Kabir, the LCCI president, congratulated Mian Mansha on his appointment as chairman of the advisory council of the British Asian Trust in Pakistan.

“We are all witness to your illustrious career, extraordinary achievements as an entrepreneur and one of the most successful businessmen who left a lasting footprint across the country. Be it textiles, cement, banking, insurance, power generation, hospitality, agriculture, dairy or paper products, your group has achieved unmatched success,” he added.

Source: Dawn

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Govt hoping PM Imran’s China trip can reinvigorate CPEC

Syed Irfan Raza

February 3, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The government hopes that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s four-day trip to China, which starts on Thursday (today), will reinvigorate the China-Pakistan Economic Corri­dor (CPEC) project.

“Twenty-one different sectors have been identified to be discussed with the Chinese leadership,” Infor­mation Minister Fawad Chaudhry told Dawn on Wednesday after attending a series of meetings chaired by Mr Khan at the Prime Minister House.

The sectors to be discussed during the PM’s visit are related to the Special Economic Zones created under CPEC, trade, information technology, agriculture and the relocation of massive Chinese industries to Pakistan.

In a statement, the Foreign Office said PM Khan would hold bilateral meetings with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.

“The leaders will review the entire gamut of bilateral relations, with a particular focus on stronger trade and economic cooperation including CPEC,” the statement said.

The FO also said that the prime minister was visiting China on the invitation of the Chinese leadership.

There has been a general impression that CPEC had slowed down ever since the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) came to power three years ago. However, the government expects the PM’s upcoming visit would be a boost for projects that are either being executed or have yet to launched under the ambit of CPEC.

Prime Minister Khan has repeatedly said that his government had changed the focus of CPEC from road infrastructure to industrialisation, energy and agriculture.

PM’s Special Assistant on CPEC Khalid Mansoor told Dawn that this time around, they were better prepared and had done a comparative analysis of the opportunities Pakistan could provide to Chinese investors.

He said there were 10 different sectors that both countries discussed bilaterally in joint working group meeting, but said that meetings had been arranged with influential Chinese industrials, who will meet the PM during his visit.

According to the Foreign Office, the prime minister will be meeting with prominent business leaders, representatives of leading Chinese think-tanks, academia and the media during his stay in Beijing

Meanwhile, chairing a high level meeting ahead of his upcoming visit to China, the prime minister on Wednesday expressed confidence that his trip would take the strong bilateral ties that already existed between the two countries, to new heights.

The meeting was attended by federal ministers including Shaukat Tareen, Fawad Chaudhry, Asad Umer and Hammad Azhar as wll as Commerce Adviser Abdul Razak Dawood, State Minister Farrukh Habib, National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yousuf and Special Assistant Shahbaz Gill along with Kahlid Mansoor.

In addition to meetings on CPEC, PM Khan will also attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games during his visit to China.

“It is highly admirable that the Chinese government has made meticulous arrangements for holding the Winter Olympic Games despite the COVID-19 pandemic,” the FO statement.

The prime minister’s visit will mark the culmination of celebrations commemorating the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and China, with more than 140 events organized to showcase the resilience of the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and the unfolding international situation.

Source: Dawn

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Prosecution submits evidence in Altaf Hussain hate speech trial

Atika Rehman

February 3, 2022

LONDON: The Crown Prosecu­tion Service on Wednesday submitted evidence at the Kingston-upon-Thames crown court to support their case against Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) supremo Altaf Hussain, who faces charges of inciting violence.

The charge under section 1(2) of the British Terrorism Act (TACT) 2006 relates to the encouragement of terrorism, which is defined as being intentional or reckless as to whether members of the public will be directly or indirectly encouraged or otherwise induced by the statement to commit, prepare or instigate such acts or offences.

The charge as stated by the UK police is that Mr Hussain had “on 22 August 2016 published a speech to crowds gathered in Karachi, Pakistan, which were likely to be understood by some or all of the members of the public to whom they were published as a direct or indirect encouragement to them to the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism and at the time he published them, intended them to be so encouraged, or was reckless as to whether they would be so encouraged”.

During the hearing, 12 members of the jury took oath. They were read the charge against Mr Hussain and informed that he had pleaded not guilty.

Before the jury took their seats, the prosecution spent most of the day introducing the evidence it had gathered to prove its charge. The evidence included maps of the offices of ARY and Samaa TV channels, as well as the Rangers headquarters on Ziauddin Ahmed Road and the press club.

Images and video footage were also submitted and some of it played in the court. They appeared to feature women party workers who could be heard saying they were waiting for a signal. Mr Hussain’s voice and message were also featured in this footage.

The prosecution said they were listing this evidence to prove that, when taken together, it highlights how after Mr Hussain’s instruction to the crowd led to the violence that followed.

Past news reports from that day allege that crowds ransacked two television stations in a rampage that left one person dead and eight injured. This allegedly occurred after Mr Hussain criticised the media for not covering his speeches.

Lawyers at Corker Binning, who are defending Mr Hussain, challenged the admission of certain footage and questioned its admissibility. The prosecution responded by saying that there is no dispute that unrest took place, and that the unrest took place due to receipt of an address which threatened civil order.

Source: Dawn

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JIT report on Chaman bomb blast to be made public: CM Bizenjo

February 3, 2022

QUETTA: A delegation of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Nazaryati), led by its emir Maulana Abdul Qadir Loni, called on Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo on Wednesday.

During the meeting, the delegation apprised the chief minister of the loss of lives in terrorist attacks on the JUI-N workers and leadership in Quetta and Chaman and other matters, including security challenges to the party leadership.

The chief minister expressed grief over the killing of JUI-N activists in bomb blasts in Chaman and Quetta a few weeks ago, saying his provincial government would extend all possible cooperation to the bereaved families.

He said the JIT report on the Chaman bomb blast would be made public and the anti-peace elements involved in these incidents would be brought to justice.

He promised that the JUI-N leader would be provided security.

Mr Bizenjo held out the assurance that the families of those killed and injured in the Quetta blast would be provided compensation.

Source: Dawn

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Arab World


Vatican foreign minister urges peace in troubled Lebanon

February 03, 2022

The Vatican's foreign minister traveled to Lebanon with messages for its politicians and for ordinary people.

Lebanon's leaders must "make the decisive decision to work for peace and not for their own interests," said Archbishop Paul Gallagher.

And after meeting with families of the August 2020 Beirut port explosions, as well as leaders of Christians churches, he said he would "return to Rome with a clearer vision of the difficulties and the role of the church in the future and research regarding the possibility of helping Lebanon in these difficult times."

Throughout his Jan. 31-Feb. 4 visit — which included meetings with government officials, religious leaders, scholars and migrant children — Archbishop Gallagher reiterated Pope Francis' concern for Lebanon.

"The Holy Father instructed me to convey to the Lebanese people his closeness and concern for Lebanon and the Lebanese, in the deep economic, social and political crisis which they are going through," the archbishop said after meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

"The Lebanese people continue to suffer greatly. Everyone can see it," Archbishop Gallagher said during a symposium at Holy Spirit University of Kaslik. "Poverty is growing, many families cannot access their bank accounts, schools, universities and hospitals suffer from lack of funding."

But, as he did several other times during the visit, he urged people to work together, for the good of the nation.

"Division along with political and economic deadlock can be overcome through real democracy, which consists of dialogue, unity, compromise and a preference for the common good," he said.

After meeting Aoun, the archbishop said it was time to end the situation in which some people profited "from the suffering of all. It is not allowed for half the truth to frustrate the hopes of the people. Stop using Lebanon and the Middle East for foreign interests. The Lebanese people must have the opportunity ... to be the makers of a better future, better than any outside interference.

"We fear that the future of this country will not be guaranteed," he added. "We call on everyone, and all leaders, whether locally or internationally, to preserve Lebanon as a message of living together, brotherhood and hope among religions," the top Vatican diplomat said.

In a Feb. 1 meeting with academics at St. Joseph University, Archbishop Gallagher expressed his hope "that the current economic crisis, which sees schools and universities in Lebanon suffering greatly, will soon end."

He warned that the absence of culture and education "provides fertile soil for extremism to develop."

"Lebanon is a hub of multiple religions and confessions. Throughout the centuries, and not without difficulty, the Lebanese have given witness to the value of dialogue among religions," he said.

"I strongly believe Lebanon could play an important role, providing an example of fraternity and dialogue for the entire Middle East and the Mediterranean region," he said.

Source: UCA News

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Analysis: Lebanon’s savers to bear burden under new rescue plan

02 February ,2022

Two years into an economic meltdown the World Bank says is one of the worst recorded, Lebanon’s rulers have proposed a way to plug a huge hole in the financial system they were blamed for making: savers will foot most of the bill, not banks or the state.

The plan, seen by Reuters, seeks to revive the moribund banking system by making depositors cover more than half the $69 billion gap, which is three times the size of Lebanon’s economy.

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

It includes converting a large portion of dollar deposits to Lebanese pounds at rates that wipe out much of their value.

The state, central bank and commercial banks will contribute $31 billion, or less than half.

Agreement on a plan of action is vital for securing an International Monetary Fund bailout and setting the nation on the road to recovery. The new plan needs cabinet approval.

Till now, disputes between politicians and banks about the size of losses and who should pay have stalled any agreement.

This latest plan still needs to convince the IMF. But ordinary Lebanese, many driven into poverty, will have little or no say.

“It is the victim that has to bear most of the burden,” said Toufic Gaspard, an economist who has advised the IMF and Lebanese finance ministry. “Their logic is unacceptable by any standard of logic anywhere in the world.”

Savers have faced ‘haircuts’ in other crises around the world, although small depositors are usually protected.

Savers in Lebanon with less than $150,000 will have dollars preserved - amounting to about $25 billion - but, like other depositors, the money will be paid out over 15 years. They have already largely been frozen out of their accounts for two years.

Yet the scale of Lebanon’s crisis, the worst since its 1975-1990 civil war, dwarfs most other global examples. Lebanese government debt was, by some estimates, an eyewatering 500 percent of gross domestic product in 2021, while the same sectarian leaders who ran the nation into trouble still wield influence now.

‘Little money left’

“There simply is very little money left. This is why accountability is so important. The political leadership is trying to flip the page, close this chapter, without anyone being held to account,” said Mike Azar, an expert on the crisis.

The government, the central bank and the banking association did not respond to emailed requests for comment.

Under the plan, the bulk of dollar deposits of $104 billion - which banks no longer have enough hard currency to cover - will be converted to Lebanese pounds but at a range of exchange rates, with two of them well below current market levels.

Lebanon’s pound has lost more than 90 percent of its value since the crisis erupted in 2019.

Of those deposits, $16 billion will lose 75 percent of their value and $35 billion will lose 40 percent.

“It is an effective nationalization of deposits,” said Nasser Saidi, a former economy minister and central bank vice governor, blaming the central bank for racking up “massive balance sheet losses” to defend an over-valued currency.

The Lebanese pound, which before the crisis was exchanged at 1,500 to the dollar, now trades around 20,000.

“If accepted by parliament, it would be the kiss of death for a near-zombie banking system and will doom Lebanon, its economy and people to prolonged misery and lost decades,” he said of the latest plan.

Entrenched elite

An earlier plan, drawn up in 2020, was torpedoed by banks, the central bank and ruling politicians over objections to the way losses were calculated and shared out. IMF talks collapsed.

The new plan aims to create an Asset Management Company (AMC) to invest deposits in projects such as rebuilding Beirut port - shattered by a huge blast in 2020 - and power stations in a country whose state power plants can’t keep the lights on.

The AMC, to be owned by the state but managed independently, will issue asset-backed securities to pay back depositors, the plan says, aiming to “generate value.”

“A top governance framework is needed to manage all those assets, with no corruption, and the politicians running this country are probably the worst qualified in the world to do this,” said Talal F. Salman, a former finance ministry official.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Turkish jets target Kurdish positions in Iraq, Syria; four die

02 February ,2022

Turkish warplanes struck suspected Kurdish insurgent positions in Iraq and Syria early on Wednesday in a new aerial offensive that Ankara said aimed to protect Turkey’s borders from “terrorist threats.”

The airstrikes killed at least four people, a Britain-based war monitoring group reported, and drew condemnation from US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters who said the attack came days after the Kurdish-led forces in Syria battled ISIS group militants.

A Turkish defense ministry statement said the strikes hit targets, including shelters, caves, ammunition depots and training camps, on Sinjar Mountain and in the Karacak region in northern Iraq, and the Derik region in northern Syria.

The operations dubbed “Winter Eagle” were aimed against Turkey’s insurgent Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, in northern Iraq, which Ankara says has hideouts there, and the US-backed Syrian Kurdish forces known as People’s Protection Units, or YPG in Syria.

The YPG is a close US ally against the ISIS group but is labeled a terrorist group by Ankara because of its ties to the PKK.

The strikes aimed to “eliminate terrorist threats against our people and security forces from the north of Iraq and Syria and to ensure our border security,” the ministry statement read.

“Last night, we bombed targets in three different locations and they could not even find a hole to escape to,” said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar claimed that several insurgents were “neutralized” in the operation, including a number of PKK names wanted by Turkey. Around 60 aircraft were involved in the offensive, including warplanes and armed and unarmed drones, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. Close to 80 targets were struck, it said.

The war monitor in Syria — the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights — said Turkish drones fired two missiles at a power station near Syria’s northeastern village of Malikiyah close to the Iraqi border, killing at least four people. It added that several people were wounded and electricity was cut in a number of nearby villages.

It said the strike hit the building where the guards stay, adding that the dead were both guards and civilians. The Observatory reported another Turkish drone strike at a power station a day earlier near the Semalka border crossing between Syria and Iraq’s Kurdish region. It said one Kurdish fighter was wounded.

A Kurdish-led administration in northeast Syria condemned the Turkish airstrikes and urged the international community to intervene to stop what it called “the terrorist Turkish aggression.”

It said the Turkish strikes came days after the Kurdish-led and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces defeated scores of ISIS militants who broke into a prison where some 3,000 extremists are held in the northeastern city of Hasakeh. The weeklong battle left dozens of people dead, including many ISIS fighters.

“This escalation and aggression is a clear indication that Turkey is not happy with [ISIS] failure,” the authority said in a statement.

Source: Al Arabiya

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ISIS resurfacing aided by power vacuum in Iraq, Syria

02 February ,2022

Yousif Ibrahim no longer travels by night along the roads around his hometown of Jalawla in northeastern Iraq. He fears getting caught up in attacks by ISIS.

“The police and army don’t come into our area much anymore. If they do, they get shot at by militants,” said the 25-year-old, who sells fish for a living in a nearby market.

Nearly three years after the group lost its final enclave, ISIS extremists are re-emerging as a deadly threat, aided by the lack of central control in many areas, according to a dozen security officials, local leaders and residents in northern Iraq.

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ISIS is far from the formidable force it once was, but militant cells often operating independently have survived across a swathe of northern Iraq and northeastern Syria, and in recent months they have launched increasingly brazen attacks.

“Daesh [ISIS] isn’t as powerful as it was in 2014,” said Jabar Yawar, a senior official in the Peshmerga forces of Iraq’s northern autonomous Kurdistan region.

“Its resources are limited and there’s no strong joint leadership,” he told Reuters in the city of Sulaimaniya. “But as long as political disputes aren’t solved, ISIS will come back.”

Some fear that could be starting to happen.

In late January, ISIS carried out one of its deadliest attacks against the Iraqi army for years, killing 11 soldiers in a town near Jalawla, according to security sources.

The same day, its militants stormed a prison in Syria under the control of US-backed Kurdish militia in an attempt to free inmates loyal to the group.

It was the biggest attack by ISIS since the collapse of its self-declared claim in 2019. At least 200 prison inmates and militants were killed, as well as 40 Kurdish troops, 77 prison guards and four civilians.

Officials and residents in northern Iraq and eastern Syria lay much of the blame on rivalries between armed groups. When Iraqi, Syrian, Iranian and US-led forces declared ISIS beaten, they faced off against each other across the territory it had ruled.

Now Iran-backed extremists attack US forces. Turkish forces bomb Kurdish separatist militants. A territorial dispute rumbles on between Baghdad and Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region.

The tensions are undermining security and good governance, causing confusion that ISIS once thrived on.

For Ibrahim, that means crossing checkpoints manned variously by Iraqi soldiers and Shia Islam paramilitaries to get to work in a town controlled until a few years ago by Kurds.

The remote farmland between each military outpost is where ISIS members hide out, according to local officials.

A similar pattern plays out across the 400-mile corridor of mountains and desert through northern Iraq and into Syria where ISIS once dominated.

Towns like Jalawla bear the scars of fierce fighting five or so years ago - buildings reduced to rubble and scarred with bullet holes. Banners honoring slain commanders from different armed groups jostle for space in town squares.

Iraqi disputes

In some parts of Iraq where ISIS operates, the main dispute is between the government in Baghdad and the autonomous northern Kurdish region, home to huge deposits of oil and strategic territory that both sides claim.

The terrorists’ deadliest attacks in Iraq in recent months have taken place in those areas. Dozens of soldiers, Kurdish fighters and residents have been killed in violence that local officials blamed on militants loyal to the group.

According to Yawar, ISIS members use the no-man’s-land between Iraqi army, Kurdish and other checkpoints to regroup.

“The gaps between the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga are sometimes 40 km (25 miles) wide,” he said.

Mohammed Jabouri, an Iraqi army commander in the province of Salahuddin, said the militants tended to operate in groups of 10-15 people.

Because of the lack of agreement over territorial control, there are areas where neither the Iraqi army nor Kurdish forces can enter to pursue them, he added.

“That’s where Daesh [ISIS] is active,” he told Reuters by telephone.

Iraqi state paramilitary forces aligned with Iran in theory coordinate with the Iraqi army, but some local officials say that does not always happen.

“The problem is that local commanders, the army and the paramilitaries ... sometimes don’t recognize each other’s authority,” said Ahmed Zargosh, mayor of Saadia, a town in a disputed area.

“It means ISIS militants can operate in the gaps.”

Zargosh lives outside the town he administers, saying he fears assassination by ISIS members if he stays there at night.

Syria and the borders

ISIS extremists at the other end of the corridor of contested territory, in Syria, are taking advantage of the confusion to operate in sparsely populated areas, according to some officials and analysts.

“Fighters (are) entering villages and towns at night and having complete free rein to operate, raid for food, intimidate businesses and extort ‘taxes’ from the local population,” said Charles Lister, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute think-tank.

“They’ve got many more local fissures, be they ethnic, political, sectarian, to exploit to their advantage.”

Syrian government forces and Iran-backed militias hold territory to the west of the Euphrates River and US-backed Kurdish forces are stationed to its east, including where the prison attack occurred.

The picture on the Iraqi side of the frontier area is no less complex.

Soldiers and fighters aligned with Iran, Turkey, Syria and the West control different segments of land, with separate checkpoints sometimes just a few hundred feet apart.

Iran and its proxy militias seek to maintain control of Iraqi-Syrian border crossings that are Tehran’s gateway to Syria and Lebanon, according to Western and Iraqi officials.

US officials blame those militias for attacking the 2,000 or so American troops stationed in Iraq and Syria fighting ISIS. Tehran has not commented on whether Iran is involved.

Turkey, meanwhile, launches drone strikes from bases in northern Iraq against Kurdish separatist militants operating on either side of the border.

Source: Al Arabiya

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UAE intercepts, destroys three drones targeting the country: Defense Ministry

02 February ,2022

The UAE intercepted and destroyed three “hostile drones” that targeted unnamed areas in the country, the Defense Ministry said Wednesday.

“MOD confirms it is ready to deal with any threats and is taking all necessary measures to protect the state and its territory,” a tweet from the ministry read.

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The drones, fired at dawn on Wednesday, were “away from populated areas,” the ministry said.

Lebanese pro-Iranian TV channel Al Mayadeen said that an Iraqi militia claimed the attacks, which they said were aimed at facilities in Abu Dhabi.

The latest attack comes after three separate missile attacks on the UAE in the last two weeks. The Iran-backed Houthis have claimed responsibility for the attacks and threatened to increase their attacks on the UAE.

On Tuesday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to discuss the Houthi attacks on the UAE’s capital.

Austin, later echoed by US President Joe Biden, said that Washington was prepared to increase its assistance to the UAE in order to deal with these threats.

UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba welcomed the announcements in a statement posted on the Embassy’s website on Wednesday.

“US naval and air deployments to the UAE are a welcome and valued signal of common purpose against Houthi and other threats,” the Emirati envoy said. “Close UAE-US cooperation in air defense has been critical to protecting the UAE and UAE-based US personnel against recent Houthi-launched missile and drone attacks. For more than 25 years, the UAE-US security partnership has made both countries safer.”

Late Sunday, US military forces deployed Patriot surface-to-air missiles at the ballistic missiles fired by the Houthis during an attack on Abu Dhabi, a senior White House official said Monday.

That attack by the Houthis, which Biden removed the terror blacklist in one of his first foreign policy moves after taking office, coincided with the first-ever visit to the UAE by an Israeli president.

On January 17, the Houthis launched a deadly attack using cruise and ballistic missiles and drones to target Abu Dhabi. The strike led to a fire breaking out and the explosion of three petroleum tankers, killing three people and wounding six others.

That was followed by another attack against Abu Dhabi on January 24, but UAE authorities - with US forces - said they successfully intercepted the two Houthi ballistic missiles with no casualties.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israel defense minister on first-ever visit to Bahrain

02 February ,2022

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz landed in Bahrain on Wednesday, the latest high-profile diplomatic trip since the countries normalized ties, his office said.

Gantz, who is the first Israeli defense minister to ever officially visit the Gulf country, travelled with several top military and security officials, including navy chief Admiral David Saar Salama.

“The aircraft carrying the delegation is the first IAF [Israeli Air Force] plane to land in Bahrain,” the defense ministry said in a statement.

“Throughout the visit, the minister is expected to conduct meetings with high ranking officials in the Bahraini defense establishment and with the Kingdom’s leadership,” it added.

The visit comes less than two years after the Gulf country forged diplomatic ties with Israel, becoming the fourth Arab nation to do so following close ally the United Arab Emirates, as well as Egypt and Jordan.

Last year Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid made the first ministerial visit to Bahrain, where he inaugurated an embassy in Manama.

The normalization between Bahrain and Israel was one of a series of US-brokered agreements known as the Abraham Accords.

The deals angered the Palestinians, and broke with decades of Arab League consensus against recognizing Israel until it signs a peace agreement establishing a Palestinian state with a capital in east Jerusalem.

The accords were negotiated by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, who said they would offer Israel new regional allies against Iran and bolster its diplomatic efforts to stop Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

It was not immediately clear if international talks on Iran’s nuclear program would be discussed during Gantz’s visit.

Source: Al Arabiya

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UAE welcomes Somali apology for seized cash, easing dispute

02 February ,2022

The United Arab Emirates late Tuesday welcomed the prime minister of Somalia’s public apology for a Somali operation in 2018 that resulted in the seizure of Emirati aircraft and $9.6 million in cash, wrecking relations between the nations.

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The Emirati foreign ministry thanked Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble for his “initiative” to settle the dispute, which prompted the UAE to end a military training mission in Somalia that had helped the conflict-ravaged nation rebuild after decades of chaos.

Somalia’s apology “reflects the depth of the historical relations” between the nations and “appreciation for the UAE’s purposeful role in supporting the Somali people and their government,” the Emirates’ state-run WAM news agency said.

In a dramatic incident in April 2018, Somali agents boarded an Emirati airplane at the Mogadishu airport, held Emirati soldiers at gunpoint and made off with bags of cash that the country’s security services claimed were undeclared US dollars. The UAE said the funds had been flown in to pay salaries of Somali soldiers and provide other aid.

Last month as the UAE dispatched planeloads of humanitarian aid to drought-stricken Somalia, Roble offered a formal apology to the Emirati government for the confiscation of the $9.6 million. He promised Somalia would return the seized funds “as soon as possible.”

“A new dawn of normalizing relations,” Roble tweeted at the time. “After a period of cold relations, Somalia & UAE are now on a progressive path to solve their differences & resume the brotherly ties.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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9 civilians killed in YPG/PKK rocket attack in northwestern Syria

Mahmoud Mohamed Barakat 


AL-BAB, Syria

Nine civilians were killed and 30 others injured in a rocket attack carried out by the YPG/PKK terrorist group on Al-Bab district in northwestern Syria, according to local sources.

YPG/PKK terrorists in the Sheale region, west of al-Bab, fired a volley of rockets on the city enter, the sources said.

The rockets struck the densely-populated neighborhood of Waki and the vicinity of Al-Bab Hospital, the sources added.

According to initial reports, nine civilians lost their lives and 30 were injured in the terrorist attack, which took place while civilians were shopping.

The rocket attack has caused material damage in the area.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Israel non-committal amid US pressure over Palestinian’s death

02 February ,2022

An Israeli general said on Wednesday it would be foolish to speculate on whether troops might be prosecuted over the death of an elderly Palestinian-American they detained, a case in which Washington has called for “full accountability.”

After reprimanding a battalion commander and dismissing two officers involved in the Jan. 12 death of Omar Abdalmajeed As’ad, 78, the military said its police were looking into the possibility of pressing charges too.

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When and if that might happen remains unclear.

A spokesman for the Israeli military said the investigation continues while the chief of its forces in the occupied West Bank, where the death occurred, declined to speculate on the outcome.

“It would be so stupid of me to try to assume or guess,” Major-General Yehuda Fuchs told reporters, adding that he was - per procedure - not privy to that probe.

On Tuesday a State Department spokesman said Washington continued to be “deeply concerned,” and expected “a thorough criminal investigation and full accountability.”

Israel’s top general and defense minister have voiced regret at the conduct of the three officers, whom the military accused of “moral failure and poor decision-making” for leaving As’ad supine and unresponsive in a courtyard of his West Bank hometown of Jiljilya.

Such public Israeli censure at the death of a Palestinian has been unusual. But, Fuchs said, “this has nothing to do with the fact he (As’ad) was American.”

A Palestinian autopsy found that As’ad, who had a history of heart problems, had suffered cardiac arrest. Palestinian officials attributed this to him having been manhandled.

Fuchs deemed the incident “shameful” and said As’ad, who was intercepted in his car, should not have been detained.

But he also backed the troops’ accounts, saying As’ad had been subjected only to the force required to subdue him.

Source: Al Arabiya

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President Rayeesi: Even US Admits Failure of Maximum Pressure against Iran


"When the Americans officially declare to the failure of their maximum pressure policy against Iran, this is a victory for our nation and it shows that the maximum resistance has triumphed over the maximum pressure," President Rayeesi said.

He reiterated that the maximum resistance of Iranians has triumphed over the US maximum pressure.

 In late January President Rayeesi underlined that if Washington removes the oppressive sanctions against Tehran, the ground will be paved for an agreement.

“If the parties are ready to lift the cruel sanctions against the Iranian people, there is room for agreement,” Rayeesi said in a live TV interview.

He reiterated that the removal of the sanctions could lead to the nuclear deal’s revival.

“If the other party removes the sanctions, there will be a possibility to revive the pact.”

The Iranian president, however, asserted that not everything relied on the negotiations. “We will pursue the negotiations, but it is not like the negotiations solve everything.”

Source: Fars News Agency

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Iran, Australia FMs Review Bilateral Ties


Amir Abdollahian pointed to the half-century history of friendly relations between Iran and Australia, and said that the presence of the highly-educated Iranian community in Australia has built a cultural bridge between the two countries.

Referring to the capacities and capabilities of both countries to expand relations, Amir Abdollahian voiced Iran's readiness to expand cooperation with Australia in various fields, including trade and investment, as well as scientific cooperation between the countries' public and private sectors.

He referred to the development of the Spicogen vaccine as a successful example of constructive collaboration between the two countries' scientific sectors.

The Iranian top diplomat also called the recent visit of the Australian Special Representative for Afghanistan to Tehran a success, and said that during the visit, new areas of cooperation between the two countries were defined in relation to Afghanistan.

Payne, for her part, said that she hopes the two countries would work closely together on Afghanistan to encourage the Taliban to live up to their commitments.

Welcoming the expansion of bilateral relations, Payne said that Australia supports Vienna talks.

In a relevant development last month, Amir Abdollahian lashed out at Washington for pursuing wrong policies in Afghanistan for 20 years, and warned of the US plots to sow discord between Kabul and the neighboring countries.

The US seeks to create rifts between Afghanistan and its neighboring countries now that its 20-year occupation of the country has failed, Amir Abdollahian said in a meeting with the visiting Taliban acting foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, in Tehran on Sunday.

He condemned the wrong policies of the US and its allies in Afghanistan over the past 20 years, saying one of the main policies of the US in the region has been driving a wedge between Afghanistan and its neighbors.

“Afghanistan’s funds that have been blocked by the US must be released for humanitarian reasons to help improve the economic situation of the Afghan people,” the Iranian foreign minister said.

Source: Fars News Agency

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President Rayeesi Calls for Expansion of Iran-China Ties


The Iranian president in his message congratulated the New Year in China, and expressed hope that the beginning of the new Chinese year would mark the opening of a new chapter in bilateral relations between the two countries.

"I sincerely congratulate you and the victorious people of the People's Republic of China on the arrival of Chinese Spring and New Year," President Rayeesi said in his message.

"I am glad that at the beginning of the new year, the relations between the two nations entered the second fifty years of diplomatic relations and the announcement of the implementation of the 25-year comprehensive cooperation program," he added.

He also wished good health and success for the Chinese president, and the prosperity and well-being of the friendly people of the People's Republic of China.

In a relevant development in August, President Rayeesi in a telephone conversation with his Chinese counterpart underlined that his government will give priority to the expansion of relations with China in different areas.

“Enhancement of the level of cooperation and expansion of relations with China is a priority for the Iranian government in the area of foreign policy,” Rayeesi said.

The Iranian president reiterated tha the complete implementation of the 25-year comprehensive strategic partnership agreement that was signed by Iran and China back in March “should be on the agenda of all of the countries’ [various] apparatuses".

President Rayeesi also thanked China for backing Iran’s membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

He urged Beijing to expedite delivery of millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines that Iran had bought from China in order to be able to fight the pandemic.

President Rayeesi said that the Islamic Republic of Iran is prepared to cooperate with China on the issue of establishment of security, stability, and calm in Afghanistan.

"The US' withdrawal from Afghanistan showed that it was Afghans, who had to join their efforts towards guaranteeing the country’s security and development," he added.

The Chinese president, for his part, said that the countries’ relations had seen various international developments over the past half a century.

"The ties began fairing even remarkably better after the conclusion of the comprehensive Sino-Iranian cooperation deal," he added.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Israel participates in huge US Gulf naval exercise alongside Saudi Arabia, Oman

02 February ,2022

Israel is taking part in a huge US-led naval exercise in the Middle East, for the first time publicly joining Saudi Arabia and Oman, two counties it has no diplomatic relations with despite its normalization of ties with some Gulf states.

The International Maritime Exercise 2022 (IMX 22) includes around 60 countries and comes amid heightened Gulf tensions after missile attacks on the United Arab Emirates by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi movement, including a foiled attack aimed at a base hosting US forces.

Israel normalized relations with Gulf states the UAE and Bahrain in 2020, brought together by shared worries about Iran, and first held a joint naval drill with those two countries in November.

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But this is the first time Israel has participated in an IMX exercise, and publicly alongside Saudi Arabia with which it has no diplomatic ties.

Gulf neighbors Kuwait and Qatar, who also have no formal relations with Israel, did not participate, according to US Navy information.

Bahrain hosts the US Navy Fifth Fleet's headquarters as well as some operations for CENTCOM, a US military coordination umbrella organisation for the Middle East. Israel last year was included in CENTCOM.

A US Navy spokesperson on Wednesday said exercise planners were aware of the geopolitical context of participating countries, but cooperation had been high.

“Here in the region we have had nothing but positive results in terms of planning efforts,” he said.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran state TV streaming site targeted with dissident message

02 February ,2022

A streaming website that features Iranian state television programming has acknowledged suffering technical issues amid reports that dissident hackers played an anti-government message on the platform.

Telewebion said it suffered “infrastructure” irregularities Tuesday and suffered an archive failure, without elaborating on the cause.

The problems came as a video message circulated online claiming to be from a self-described group of hackers called “The Justice of Ali” in Farsi. In the video, which Farsi-language news networks abroad say played on the streaming platform, a masked man appears and a muffled voice says Iran’s government “will no longer silence us.”

“We’ll burn hijabs. We’ll burn their pictures and propaganda posters,” the man says. “We will break their idols. We will reveal their palaces so that the people can punish them.”

“The Justice of Ali” did not immediately respond to a request for comment via an account it used in an earlier conversation with The Associated Press. In August it released footage showing grim condition at Iran’s notorious Evin prison it claimed it obtained through a hack.

The video comes just ahead of commemoration ceremonies for Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution this month. It also follows an apparent hack Thursday that saw multiple channels of Iran’s state television broadcast images showing the leaders of an exiled dissident group and a graphic calling for the death of the country’s supreme leader.

The incident Tuesday potentially marks the latest in a series of embarrassing cyberattacks against the Islamic Republic, as world powers struggle to revive a tattered nuclear deal with Tehran. Other attacks, which Iran has blamed on Israel, have targeted its nuclear program.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Turkish consul general visits West Bank city of Salfit

Awad Rajoub 


RAMALLAH, Palestine

Turkish Consul General in Jerusalem Ahmet Riza Demirer on Wednesday visited the West Bank city of Salfit.

The diplomat held talks with Palestinian local officials to discuss requests submitted by the Salfit Municipality to the Turkish government for carrying out projects in the city, the Salfit Municipality said in a statement.

The talks also discussed twinning projects between the Salfit Municipality and Turkish municipal councils, the statement added.

During the meeting, Demirer underlined the importance of strengthening cooperation between the two sides, the statement said.

Salfit mayor Abdelkarim Zubeidi, for his part, thanked the Turkish government for its support to the Palestinians and stressed the strength of relations between the Palestinian and Turkish peoples.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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North America


US expects full accountability for death of elderly Palestinian-American in West Bank

Servet Günerigök 



The US said Tuesday that it expects a thorough criminal investigation and full accountability in the case of an elderly Palestinian-American who was found dead after being detained by Israeli forces during a raid in the occupied West Bank.

In a statement, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US continues to be "deeply concerned by the circumstances" of the death of 80-year-old Omar Abdulmajeed Asaad.

"We continue to discuss this troubling incident with the Israeli government," said Price.

Asaad was found dead on Jan. 12

Fuad Fattoum, the head of the municipal council in the village of Jaljulia, told Anadolu Agency last month that Asaad, who is from the village, died after being held and assaulted by the Israeli army.

He said soldiers stormed the village and detained Asaad after beating and handcuffing him. The soldiers then withdrew, leaving the elderly man lying on the ground inside a house under construction, where he died.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Senator: US got nothing from Trump's "maximum pressure"

February 2, 2022

American senator Chris Murphy has said that the sanctions imposed by Previous US president Donald Trump against Iran have failed and proven to be futile.

"The United States got nothing from Trump's "maximum pressure" sanctions on Iran. In fact, things got worse," American senator Chris Murphy has posted on his Twitter account.

He further claimed that the attacks have increased on the US troops in the Middle East while the Iranian nuclear program has expanded in the meantime that the US continues its futile Trump-era sanctioning campaign.

The US senator has further urged his country to be ready to release those sanctions in exchange for Iran coming back into compliance with the nuclear deal known as the JCPOA.

US got nothing from Trump's "maximum pressure": senator

These remarks by this American senator come at a time when the eighth round of talks between Iran and the remaining participants to the JCPOA known as the P4+1 with the indirect involvement of the United States is still going on in the Austrian capital of Vienna.

While the talks at political levels between the top negotiators have been paused for a week until the end of this week, it was reported on Tuesday the eighth round will resume over the weekend.

Source: ABNA24

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US-led joint naval drill begins with Israel and Muslim nations

03 February, 2022

A US-led maritime exercise including 60 nations and organisations has kicked off in and around Gulf waters with Israel joining for the first time alongside Muslims nations such as Pakistan.

The US navy said on Tuesday that the 18-day biennial International Maritime Exercise (IMX) since Monday includes 50 vessels and 9,000 personnel from more than 60 entities.

It includes a number of countries — among them Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Oman and Yemen — that do not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel.

With more than 80 drones, it is also the world's largest unmanned drill, it added from Bahrain, where the 5th Fleet is headquartered.

The exercise comes at a time of regional tensions over Iran's nuclear programme and Yemeni rebels' recent targeting of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates with missiles and drones.

Saudi Arabia and Israel share the same desire to contain their common foe Iran.

Weapons' smuggling

Israeli army spokesperson Avichay Adraee has tweeted that Israel would "for the first time take part" in the IMX drill.

In November, the UAE and Bahrain launched joint naval exercises with Israel for the first time.

Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels targeted the UAE three times in January with drones and missiles, killing three foreign workers in the first attack on January 17.

Earlier in the month, the rebels seized a UAE-flagged ship in the Red Sea, saying it was carrying weapons — a claim denied by the Emirates.

Source: Trt World

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US re-offers $10 mln for information on Iran hackers accused of election interference

03 February ,2022

The US is repeating its offer of a $10 million reward for information on two Iranians accused of attempting to influence the 2020 US elections through a state-sponsored online campaign, according to a US Department of State statement released on Tuesday.

The two men were charged in November 2021 over their alleged involvement in hacking an undisclosed media company.

Seyyed Mohammad Hosein Musa Kazemi and Sajjad Kashian also allegedly purported to be members of the Proud Boys far-right group and threatened to physically harm people who did not vote for President Donald Trump, in an email and social media campaign.

The charges, published by the Department of Justice, allege that the men disseminated material online suggesting that the elections were unreliable, eroding trust in the country’s democratic system.

The material in question claimed that the Democratic Party was planning to exploit “serious security vulnerabilities” in state voter registration websites to “edit mail-in ballots or even register non-existent voters.”

They are also accused of hacking into the voter information website of an undisclosed US state and downloading the details of around 100,000 people.

Both men worked for an Iranian cyber company called Emennet Pasargad, believed to have been responsible for the online interference campaign that ran from at least August through November 2020, the press release said.

Kazemi and Kashian are both charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse, intimidate voters, and transmit interstate threats; one count of transmission of interstate threats; and one count of voter intimidation.

The first two charges carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and the third carries a maximum one-year prison sentence.

Kazemi is additionally charged with one count of unauthorized computer intrusion; and one count of computer fraud, namely, knowingly damaging a protected computer, according to the statement.

The first count carries a maximum five-year prison sentence, while the second carries a ten-year maximum sentence.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Washington threatens Yemen’s Houthis with new sanctions

03 February ,2022

The United States on Wednesday threatened Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia with new sanctions after a series of drone and missile attacks on the United Arab Emirates.

“We’ve taken a number of such actions, including in recent weeks and months alone, and I suspect we will be in a position to take additional action given the reprehensible attacks that we’ve seen emanate from Yemen from the Houthis in recent days and weeks,” said State Department Spokesperson Ned Price.

President Joe Biden’s administration is under increasing pressure to again formally designate the Houthis as a “foreign terrorist organization,” a label withdrawn from the group one year ago after Biden became president, to engender peace negotiations in the war-torn country.

But the war between the Iran-backed Houthis and the government, backed by an Arab coalition, has continued to rage.

“You heard from the president last month that this is a decision that is under review,” Price told reporters.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Turkey: 12 bodies of migrants recovered at Greek border

02 February ,2022

Turkey’s interior minister said authorities have recovered 12 bodies, believed to be those of migrants who froze to death after being pushed back into Turkey, near Turkey’s border with Greece.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Twitter that the 12 were among 22 migrants who were pushed back into Turkey by Greek border guards. He said they were found near the Ipsala border crossing between Turkey and Greece “without shoes and stripped of their clothes.”

The minister did not provide further details but accused Greek border units of acting “cruelly” and the European Union of being soft on Greece.

Turkey frequently accuses neighboring Greece of illegally pushing back migrants wanting to make their way into Europe. Greece denies the accusation.

Turkey is a major crossing point for migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa seeking a better life in European Union countries.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Lisa Smith 'led astray' by Islamic State, court hears

03 February, 2022

A former Irish Defence Forces soldier told gardaí after returning from Syria that she did not support the Islamic State (IS) and had been "led astray".

In interviews with gardaí, read to Dublin's Special Criminal Court, Lisa Smith said she realised she had made a mistake going to the country.

She also told detectives she never used a weapon in Syria, RTÉ has reported.

Ms Smith has pleaded not guilty to membership of the terrorist group and financing terrorism.

In the 100-page interview given to detectives in December 2019, Ms Smith recalled how she travelled across the Turkish border.

She said all her money, amounting to €7,000 (£5,840), was stolen and she was kept in a house with 50 or 60 women in Syria for five months.

The 39-year-old said she agreed to marry a man she did not want to, who took her to Raqqa and beat her "very badly", RTÉ reported.

Ms Smith described being attacked with cluster bombs and bullets hitting her house.

She said she was "so scared...we could have been killed".

Ms Smith said her husband put her and her daughter on a truck with no bags, money or food and they ended up in a camp.

She said she saw people getting shot, babies dying and people with serious injuries who did not go to hospital.

"People don't know the reality of what happened in Islamic State," she told gardaí.

When asked if she would go back there, she said: "No way. No I've had enough, I've done my time. It was four years spent in prison.

"They put you in prison, torture and rape you. You are not allowed to come home. Europe doesn't want you. If you go home you go to prison."

Source: BBC News

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Turkey, Armenia resume charter flights amid thawing ties

02 February ,2022

Charter flights between Istanbul and Yerevan resumed after a two-year hiatus on Wednesday amid efforts by Turkey and Armenia to normalize strained ties.

A Fly One Armenia plane, with 64 passengers on board, landed at Istanbul Airport Wednesday evening, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. A plane belonging to Turkish low-cost Pegasus Airlines was scheduled to take off from Istanbul’s second airport, Sabiha Gokcen, for Yerevan at 11:55 p.m. (2115 GMT).

Turkey and Armenia have appointed special envoys in a bid to end their decades-long hostile relationship and to establish diplomatic ties. The envoys held their first meeting in Moscow last month and both nations said their talks were held in a “positive and constructive atmosphere.”

Turkey was among the first countries to recognize Armenia’s independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, but the two neighbors have no diplomatic ties.

Turkey, a close ally of Azerbaijan, shut down its border with Armenia in 1993, in a show of solidarity with Baku, which was locked in a conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

In 2020, Turkey strongly backed Azerbaijan in the six-week conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, which ended with a Russia-brokered peace deal that saw Azerbaijan gain control of a significant part of the region.

Turkey and Armenia also have a more than century-old bitter relationship over the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians in massacres, deportations and forced marches that began in 1915 in Ottoman Turkey.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Pope Francis appoints new ambassador to Turkiye

Baris Seckin  



Pope Francis appointed Polish monsignor Marek Solczynski as nuncio to Turkiye on Wednesday.

The Vatican said the Polish prelate worked as nuncio in Tanzania for the past five years and was now appointed as the papal ambassador to Turkiye.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Turkish president to visit Ukraine, attend high-level council meeting

Burcu Calik Gocumlu  


Turkiye's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be visiting Ukraine on Thursday upon the invitation of his counterpart to attend the 10th meeting of the High-Level Strategic Council between the two countries.

Erdogan and Volodymyr Zelensky will review the two countries' relations, which are at the level of strategic partnership, Turkiye's Communications Directorate said in a statement on Wednesday.

At the meeting to be held in the capital Kyiv, the two leaders, along with their accompanying delegations, will discuss possibilities for further deepening cooperation and exchange views on regional and international issues, as well as bilateral ties.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Australian SAS corporal ‘executed unarmed Afghan,’ court hears

February 02, 2022

LONDON: Australia’s most decorated serving soldier killed an Afghan prisoner with a machine gun and ordered the execution of another detainee, a Sydney court has heard.

Ben Roberts-Smith, a former SAS corporal who was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest medal for gallantry, ordered a junior soldier to kill an Afghan prisoner during a raid on a Taliban compound, according to a serving SAS soldier.

The soldier giving evidence, who remained anonymous for security reasons, said Roberts-Smith threw another prisoner to the ground before shooting and killing him.

The alleged killings reportedly took place in southern Afghanistan on Easter Sunday in 2009.

This latest batch of evidence and testimony is part of a long-delayed defamation trial, which was initiated by Roberts-Smith, 43, who is suing Melbourne’s The Age newspaper and The Sydney Morning Herald over reports published in 2018 that he believes portrayed him as a war criminal, linking him to six killings of unarmed Afghan detainees.

The serving SAS soldier giving evidence, referred to in court as Person 41, deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 at the same time as Roberts-Smith.

Person 41 said that he was searching a compound when he heard a disturbance outside, where he saw Roberts-Smith, another soldier identified as Person 4 and an older Afghan male prisoner held against a wall.

Person 41 told the court that Roberts-Smith and Person 4 asked him for the suppressor from his M4 rifle, which he lent to Person 4, presuming he was going to investigate the tunnel as a potential hideout for insurgents.

But instead, Person 41 said, “RS walked down and grabbed the Afghan male by the scruff of his shirt.”

Person 41 said that Roberts-Smith moved the man for 2 meters until he was in front of Person 4, “then kicked him in the back of the legs behind the knees until he was kneeling down. RS pointed to the Afghan and said to Person 4, ‘shoot him’.”

Person 41 said that he immediately stepped back into the compound at this point, not wanting to witness what he believed was about to occur.

He heard shots and then saw the Afghan male’s body on the ground, which he inspected: “There was quite a lot of blood flowing from the head wound.”

Person 4 handed back Person 41’s suppressor, which Person 41 said was warm from being used.

Person 41 then witnessed another execution after seeing Roberts-Smith frog-march an Afghan man while holding him by the scruff of his shirt.

“I turned to face RS to see what was happening. He then proceeded to throw the Afghan male down on to the ground; the man landed on his back. RS then reached down, grabbed him by the shoulder, flipped him over on to his stomach and then I observed him lower his machine gun and shoot approximately three to five rounds into the back of the Afghan male,” he said.

Source: Arab News

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Hijab: Court adjourns alleged violation of FHR cases between ISI-UI, Muslim students till March 11

February 2, 2022

By Musliudeen Adebayo

Justice Ladiran Akintola of an Oyo State High Court sitting in Ibadan, has adjourned the cases of alleged denial of fundamental human rights of some female Muslim students at International School, University of Ibadan to use hijab by the school authority till March 11.

The students and their parents had sued the school authority, its principal, Mrs. Phebean Olowe and the University of Ibadan, because the students were not allowed to use hijab.

A hijab is a head covering worn in public by some Muslim women.

The judge, who presided over Court 7 of the state High Court on Wednesday, adjourned the cases during the resume of the matters in Ibadan.

The court session was attended by some of the plaintiffs, their parents, counsel to the appellants, Barrister Hassan Fajimite and counsel to the defendants, Barrister Ejelonu M.S.

Akintola, after listening to the arguments put forward by both Fajimite and Ejelonu, then adjourned the case till March 11, for further mention.

He explained that he adjourned the cases in order to allow the parties involved file their applications supported by their evidence.

The counsels to both the applicants and the defendants said that they were satisfied with the submission of the judge to adjourn the case.

DAILY POST recalls that some female Muslim students were in November 2018 bared from entering the premises of the school because they were wearing Hijab on top of their school uniforms.

The denial of the students to gain entrance to the school resulted in a mild drama, which forced the management to close the school for one week.

The development forced the affected students and their parents to sue the school, authorities of University of Ibadan and the principal of the school over what they described as violation of the rights of the students.

Fajimite, who addressed journalists shortly after the court session, explained that his clients approached the court for the enforcement of their fundamental human rights to use hijab.

He described the action of the school by preventing the students from using hijab as a violation of the existing laws in the country.

He said, “I am the counsel to the appellants, 11 of them who are students of ISI-UI who were deprived the right from using Hijab and have deem it fit and their parents to file applications for the enforcement of their fundamental human rights.

“The matter is actually for mention today and the matter has been adjourned till March 11, to enable us file our counter affidavits.

Source: Daily Post Nigeria

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Tunisian president denies a coup but holds power tight

02 February ,2022

A political novice, Tunisia's president stunned opponents and admirers alike by seizing near total state power in a move that thrust his country's young democracy into turmoil.

Kais Saied, a former law professor with an awkward public manner, denies accusations by critics that he has dictatorial aspirations and vows to uphold the rights of Tunisians.

But six months after sacking the North African country's prime minister, suspending parliament and assuming executive power -- moves his opponents call a coup – his declared roadmap out of the crisis appears a work in progress.

For some Tunisians it is an open question whether he will ultimately become a populist hero, a dictator who undermines democracy or a president brought down by a collapsing economy.

Tunisia is regarded as the only democratic success to emerge from the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, but the country faces a looming public finances crisis, and painful reforms needed to secure international assistance risk triggering social unrest.

Saied seems to have decided that he embodies “the consensus of the Tunisian electorate, and that in order to move Tunisia forward, he needs to move aggressively and uncompromisingly,” said H.A. Hellyer, a scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

To those who back Saied, his actions were the necessary work of a rare man of integrity who managed to oust a corrupt political elite and relaunch the 2011 revolution that toppled Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.

The solemn, balding 63-year-old, who speaks an ultra-formal style of classical Arabic, has started online consultations in order to write a new constitution, which he plans to put to a referendum in June.

Economic frustrations

His critics, drawn from across Tunisia's political spectrum and elements of civil society, say he is inexperienced, isolated and uncompromising, and fear that when economic frustrations breed opposition, he will grow autocratic.

But Saied says he wants to lead Tunisians on an enlightened political path free of corruption and that problems stem from the current 2014 constitution, which analysts say he wants to change in order to focus power in the presidency.

“The way forward is to return to the people in a completely new and different way. There must be a legal solution based on the will and sovereignty of the people,” he said in December.

Saied's inflexible approach contrasts with the tumultuous days of the 2011 revolt, when he would wander at night through the narrow streets of the Kasbah and grand colonial boulevards downtown asking protesters about their demands.

He became prominent after the revolution by appearing on media shows to talk about the constitution.

Saied swept into office in a 2019 landslide second-round vote as a scourge of corruption, his severe, formal manner contrasting vividly with that of the groomed political elite.

Saied's campaign headquarters reflected his austere approach: a small upstairs apartment in an old building with no elevator, broken windows and peeling paint work equipped with little more than a small television and some plastic chairs.

He won the support of leftists, though his radical but socially conservative politics do not neatly chime with the group. His social views - favoring the death penalty and opposing homosexuality and equal inheritance for men and women - appear to have won him support among hardliners.

As time passed after his election, he showed impatience with the messy politics of parliament and a succession of governing coalitions. Growing demonstrations indicate he has since lost some of the support evident in his early months in power.

“It looks like he is en route to creating a presidential system that oversees weakened democratic institutions such as parliament,” said Andreas Krieg, Associate Professor at King's College London's School of Security.

‘Democracy of individuals’

Tunisia is pursuing talks with the International Monetary Fund on a rescue package predicated on painful economic reforms. The discussions were halted in July, when Saied seized wide powers, but resumed after he laid out plans for a referendum and parliamentary elections this year.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Economic pain threatens social and political chaos in Tunisia

02 February ,2022

President Kais Saied says he will remake Tunisian politics in 2022 with a new constitution and parliament after seizing executive power last year in a move his foes call a coup - but the threat of national bankruptcy may upend his plans.

The country requires an international rescue package to avert a disastrous collapse in public finances, with some state salaries delayed in January. But as time runs out, donors say Saied has not done enough to bring them on board.

They want him to embrace a more inclusive political process to ensure Tunisia's young democracy survives, and strike a publicly acknowledged agreement with his major rivals on unpopular economic reforms to tame spending and debt.

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The costs of failure could be catastrophic - terrible hardship for Tunisians, a slide into full-blown autocracy, or a social explosion that could inflame a migration crisis and create opportunities for militants.

Saied already faces bolder opposition than at any point since his July moves to suspend parliament and dismiss the prime minister, but a sharp decline in living standards could prompt major unrest among a people already sick of years of stagnation.

That would test not only Saied's ability to achieve his political ends, but whether he would unleash the increasingly assertive security forces on opponents, despite his promise to uphold rights and freedoms won in the 2011 uprising.

While there has been no big crackdown on free speech or major campaign of arrests, there were recent hints of a more aggressive posture towards dissent including the detention of an opposition figure and the harsh policing of a protest.

“The security apparatus has a strong hand with Saied now,” said a source close to the presidency.

Saied's main opposition, the big parties in parliament, are themselves deeply unpopular and Tunisians appear bitterly divided over their leaders. Even inside Saied's small team, there have been ruptures between rival camps.

It all points to a volatile year for Tunisians, who are still trying to solve the puzzle of a president whose uncompromising but unconventional approach has often mystified his supporters, opponents and foreign allies alike.

Painful reforms

Under intense pressure, Saied announced a roadmap out of the crisis in December, launching an online consultation for a new constitution that he says a committee of experts will draw up before a referendum in July. The election of a new parliament would follow in December.

Donors do not think these steps alone meet their call for a return to normal constitutional order through an inclusive process and want to see the powerful labour union and major political parties directly involved.

Meanwhile the government Saied appointed in September is seeking an International Monetary Fund (IMF) rescue package, which the finance minister says he hopes to secure by April, that is needed to unlock almost any other bilateral aid.

Donors think any agreement is very unlikely before the summer, a timeframe that may be too late to avert serious problems including pressure on the currency, payment of state salaries and the import of some staple subsidized goods.

The economy is a constant source of public unease, though opinions about the president's handling of the issue differ. Tunisians are already complaining of shortages of some goods such as sugar and rice.

“Democracy is collapsing day by day. Prices have risen sharply. Wages are less secure each month,” said Sonia, 38, a teacher in Tunis.

“The president needs time. He is trying to rebuild a state that was broken when he took over,” said Imed ben Saied, also from Tunis.

However, while the initial Tunisian presentation to the IMF was described as satisfactory, donors thought it lacked both detail and - critically - the inclusive political buy-in needed to carry out any reforms promised.

Though Saied met the labor union head last month for the first time since July, there is little evidence yet that either the president or the union are willing to publicly back reforms on the scale needed for IMF help.

Spectre of unrest

Though much of the political elite has lined up against Saied's power grab, protests so far have been relatively modest by historical standards. An economic crisis on the scale of those in Lebanon or Venezuela - which the central bank governor warned of a year ago - would likely cause serious unrest.

Saied since July has largely allowed protests against his moves, though a January demonstration was banned on COVID-19 grounds and harshly dispersed by police.

Most media, including the state-owned news agency TAP, have still reported criticism of the president and government but the journalists' union says state television has stopped featuring political parties in discussion programs.

Source: Al Arabiya

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King of Jordan: Security of Saudi Arabia and Jordan is indivisible

February 03, 2022

AMMAN: King Abdullah of Jordan met Speaker of the Saudi Shoura Council Sheikh Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al-Sheikh and an accompanying delegation on Wednesday as part of the official visit of Al-Sheikh to Jordan.

During the meeting, the Jordanian King reiterated Jordan’s condemnation of Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, reaffirming that Saudi Arabia’s security was an integral part of the security of Jordan and the region.

King Abdullah reaffirmed the ties between Jordan and Saudi Arabia, praising the level of existing coordination between the two countries, asking the speaker of the Shoura Council to convey his greetings to King Salman and Prince Mohammed bin Salman, crown prince, deputy prime minister and minister of defense.

The speaker of the Shoura Council conveyed the greetings of King Salman and Mohammed bin Salman to King Abdullah and their wishes for the progress and prosperity of Jordan and its people.

Source: Arab News

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Burkina Faso junta lifts nationwide curfew in force since coup

February 03, 2022

OUAGADOUGOU: Burkina Faso’s junta lifted Wednesday a nationwide curfew they imposed after seizing power in a coup last month, the military announced.

The restrictions were imposed on January 24 after mutinous soldiers arrested President Roch Marc Christian Kabore following a revolt at several army barracks in the capital over the handling of jihadist attacks in the Sahel nation.

“The President of the Patriotic Movement for Preservation and Restoration, President of Faso, Head of State, updates... the total lifting of the curfew measure as of this day, February 2,” Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo said in a press release.

The nation’s nightlife will not completely resume as “popular celebrations and festive events are prohibited after midnight from Monday to Thursday and after 2 am from Friday to Sunday,” the junta said in a televised statement.

The coup leaders said the measure was taken “in view of the security context and in solidarity with the victims of insecurity.”

Initially imposed from 9 p.m. to 5 pm, the national curfew was later reduced to midnight to 4 am before being lifted entirely.

Like neighboring Mali and Niger, Burkina Faso has been caught up in a spiral of violence since 2015, attributed to jihadist groups affiliated to Al-Qaeda and the Daesh militant group.

Source: Arab News

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Southeast Asia


Militants killed by soldiers in mosque shootout

3 FEB 2022

SONGKHLA: Three armed militants were killed as they tried to break through security forces surrounding a study centre on the grounds of a mosque in Chana district early Thursday morning.

Soldiers accompanied by two armoured vehicles surrounded a Koran learning centre at Khok Khet mosque in tambon Ban Na about 5.30am, Col Kiatsak Neewong, PR chief of the southern office of the Internal Security Operations Command, said.

They were acting on information that three separatist militants named on several arrest warrrants were hiding there.

Local officials, Islamic leaders and relatives tried to persuade the suspects to surrender. They did not.

Instead, three armed men ran out of the building and opened fire at them, Col Kiatsak said. The soldiers returned fire and the three men were killed. The men were armed with two rifles and a handgun.

They were identified as Sattha Awae, Surin Kaseng and Adinan Doloh.

Source: Bangkok Post

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Nasdaq bell-ringing ceremony featured Chinese official who called genocide of Uyghur Muslims 'lies'

February 3, 2022

A Chinese government official who claimed reports of human rights violations in China were "lies" and praised the Communist Party of China (CPC) as a "great party" was featured at two high-profile events earlier this week in New York City, where he used his platform to promote the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics and a "shared future" between China and the United States.

Huang Ping, who has been the consul general of China’s New York Consulate since 2018, posted two videos of himself on Twitter participating in Nasdaq's virtual bell-ringing ceremony and the lighting of the Empire State Building for the start of the Lunar New Year.

"It is my great pleasure to attend Nasdaq's bell ringing ceremony for the fourth time to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year of the tiger," Huang said. "2021 was a year full of challenges. Despite the protracted and resilient pandemic, we have seen the positive trend of economic recovery. Nasdaq Composite index hit record high, China's GDP grow by 8.1 percent, the largest jump since 2011."

After hyping up China's economy and calling for China and the United States to work together, Huang promoted the Beijing Winter Olympics, saying, "The Beijing Winter Olympics are open in just five days. China is ready to deliver a streamlined, safe, and splendid Olympic Games to the world."

Nasdaq, which lists many of America’s largest tech companies, has come under scrutiny from U.S. officials, along with other major exchanges, for its continued listing of Chinese companies over concerns about transparency and threats to U.S. national security. 

Nasdaq's Twitter account, which has over 700,000 followers, posted a few photos of the digital billboards in New York City, which included one with Huang and another billboard that said, "Nasdaq welcomes Chinese Consulate in New York."

Bob McCooey, who serves as a vice chairman at Nasdaq, quote tweeted Huang and said, "It is always such a great honor for me to be able to host [Huang Ping] each year at the beginning of the #LunarNewYear."

Chinese state-run media outlets were quick to exploit Huang's invitation to speak at the Nasdaq bell-ringing ceremony and promoted it to millions of followers on Twitter. China Daily, a CPC-controlled media outlet tweeted three photos of the digital billboards and said, "Chinese Consul General in New York Huang Ping said #China will continue to be the opportunity for #US investors in the Year of the Tiger." The Global Times, another CPC-controlled English language newspaper, promoted Huang's remarks about the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics, which start later this week.

Fox News Digital reported last month that Huang appeared on a podcast in August 2021, during which he made several controversial remarks, including praise of the CPC as a "great party" and repeatedly denying the existence of a genocide of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, despite the State Department and Holocaust Museum saying China is committing genocide.

"There are lots of lies here fabricated by some people with their own political agenda," Huang said, denying the existence of genocide and internment camps. "As I said, there’s no genocide, not single evidence to prove that there’s a genocide or something there. It’s just a slandering."

In addition to attending the bell-ringing ceremony Monday, Huang was invited to a virtual lighting of the Empire State Building over the weekend, where he was introduced by Tony Malkin, the chairman, president and chief executive officer of Empire State Realty Trust.

Malkin said the trust partners with Huang "each year" to light up the Empire State Building for the start of the Lunar New Year and that he was "honored" to welcome Huang to the lighting. He also promoted the upcoming Olympics in Beijing.

Source: Fox Business

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Khairy sues Lokman, Islamic preacher over vax-linked online posts

Feb 3, 2022

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has brought defamation suits against former Umno supreme council member Lokman Noor Adam and an Islamic preacher over online postings linked to Malaysia’s Covid-19 vaccination programmes.

The former Umno Youth chief filed the writ of summons against fellow party member Lokman (above) as well as Mohd Rasyiq Mohd Alwi, also known as Ustaz Abu Syafiq, at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Jan 25.

According to the suit’s statement of claim sighted by Malaysiakini, Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) chairperson Khairy is suing the two men over a series of online uploads between Oct 20 last year, and Jan 10 this year.

The cause papers were referring to four videos and a photo allegedly uploaded to Lokman’s Facebook page and YouTube channel, as well as four postings, three videos and a photo purportedly uploaded to Rasyiq’s Instagram page.

Rembau MP Khairy claimed that the two defendants committed defamation through the online postings which contained several allegations linked to the government’s Covid-19 vaccination efforts in Malaysia.

Among these allegations are that the plaintiff purportedly acted recklessly and/or irresponsibly in the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines for the vaccination programmes in Malaysia, as well as claims linked to his Covid-19 vaccination status.

Khairy claimed that the online postings by Lokman and Rasyiq are contrary to the public interest as they purportedly undermined the government’s efforts to combat the Covid-19 endemic in the country.


“The defamatory publications have harmed societal response to Covid-19, and the defamatory publications have undermined the official data and facts provided by the Health Ministry to the public,” claimed Khairy, who is the coordinating minister of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP).


The plaintiff added that the lawsuits were filed by his lawyers from law firm Rashid Zulkifli, following the two defendants allegedly refused to abide by his letter of demand issued on Jan 16 this year.

Source: Malaysiakini

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Xi promises a ‘safe and splendid’ Olympics in Beijing

February 3, 2022

BEIJING: The Beijing Olympics, which officially opens tomorrow, will be streamlined, safe and splendid, Chinese president Xi Jinping said today, as the head of the IOC decried boycott ghosts “rearing their ugly heads again” over human rights concerns.

Addressing the International Olympic Committee (IOC) session in the capital via a brief video message, Xi said China had played an active part in the Olympic movement since staging the 2008 summer Olympics.

For these winter Games the country had engaged 300 million Chinese in winter sports as promised, he said.

“From ‘One World-One Dream’ in 2008 to ‘Together for a Shared Future’ in 2022, China has taken an active part in the Olympic movement and consistently championed the Olympic spirit,” he said.

“The Olympic Winter Games will open tomorrow evening. The world is turning its eyes to China and China is ready. We will do our best to deliver to the world a streamlined, safe and splendid Games.”

The Chinese capital will become the first city to host both summer and winter editions of the Olympics but preparations have been hit by diplomatic boycotts and the coronavirus pandemic.

The US, Britain and some other allied countries have staged a diplomatic boycott of the Games over human rights in China.

Rights groups have long criticised the IOC for awarding the Games to China, citing its treatment of Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups, which the US has deemed genocide.

China denies allegations of human rights abuses.

IOC president Thomas Bach has repeatedly defended his organisation’s choice for the 2022 Olympics, saying the IOC was not a political body nor was its mandate to influence laws in sovereign states.

He said today that in the two years leading up to the Beijing Games he had seen “the dark clouds of the growing politicisation of sport on the horizon”.

“We also saw that in some peoples’ minds the boycott ghosts of the past were rearing their ugly heads again,” Bach said.

The 1976, 1980 and 1984 Olympics were all hit by boycotts of countries during the Cold War era, severely denting the event’s universality and finances.

“This is why we have been working even harder to get this unifying mission of the Olympic Games across to as many leaders and decision makers as possible,” Bach said.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Holocaust museum causes stir in Indonesia

Konradus Epa

February 02, 2022

Rights groups have condemned Indonesia’s top Islamic clerical body after it called for the demolition of a Jewish community’s newly opened Holocaust museum.

The museum in Minahasa, North Sulawesi province, violates the constitution and is provocative, according to the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI).

The Shaar HaShamayim Holocaust Museum is the first of its kind in Southeast Asia and was built by the local Jewish community. It was officially opened by German ambassador Ina Lepel on Jan. 27 to coincide with International Holocaust Day.

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"The museum aims to fight racism, anti-Semitism and all intolerance," Lepel said during the opening

Her words did not hold sway with the Ulema Council.

"The Indonesian government should act decisively and immediately demolish the museum because it is provocative and its presence is not welcomed among many in this country," Muhyiddin Junaidi, deputy chairman of the MUI’s advisory board, said in a statement.

He said the museum does not benefit Indonesian people and hurts the feeling of Palestinians.

He also accused the Minahasa Jewish community of trying to convince the Indonesian government to open diplomatic ties with Israel.

Indonesia, like many Muslim nations, refuses to acknowledge Israel as a state.

Bonar Tigor Naipospos, deputy chairman of the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, accused the MUI of failing to understand history and what the museum symbolizes.

“The museum sends a message that a tragedy against humanity occurred and millions of people fell victim,” he told UCA News on Feb. 2.

He said the MUI call was more about religious intolerance when it should be “taking lessons from the tragedy so that it doesn’t happen again.”

Calling something that actually happened “provocative” is strange, he said, adding: “The museum is important for the young generation to warn them that cruelty to others can result in the killing of millions of people.”

Source: UCA News

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