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Islamic World News ( 27 Jan 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi Witnesses Republic Day Parade At The Majestic Kartavya Path Along With President DroupadiMurmu

New Age Islam News Bureau

26 January 2023

Indian President Droupadi Murmu, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose for a photo during a ceremonial reception at the Forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan Presidential Palace in New Delhi


• “Mohammed TereBaap Ka Naam ‘Jai Shri Ram: Provocative Slogans Against Prophet Muhammed By Hindutva Mob To Protest Film ‘Pathan’

• US Muslim Rights Group Calls On Biden To Suspend Use Of 'Terror' Watchlist, Composed "Almost Entirely" Of Arab And Muslim Names

• Quran Burning In Sweden Reminds Of Europe's 'Dark Hours,' Say Anti-Islamophobia Activists

• Al-Azhar Calls For Boycotting Dutch And Swedish Products In Support Of The Qur'an



• Scottish Church Collegiate School Saw Christian, Hindu And Muslim Students Join Hands For The Puja

• Sudden Influx Of Hindus From Neighbouring Pakistan: Concern Over Pakistan Hindus Migrating To India ‘Illegally’

• Modi, El-Sisi Discuss Defence, Food Security; Egypt Backs India On Cross-Border Terrorism

• Jamia Millia university calls cops over BBC film

• ‘Love Jihad’ Protests Natural, Ministers Attend Because ‘They Are Also Hindus’: Maharashtra Dy. Cm


North America

• Perpetrators Of ‘Modern Slavery’ Given Up To 12 Years In US

• US to top up Lebanon army, police salaries for six months

• US House commends Iranian protesters in bipartisan vote

• Biden’s nominee for US human rights post withdraws after criticism of stance on Israel



• Swedish Government Fails To Prevent Religion-Based Hate Crime Against Muslims And Jews

• Encouraged by Swedish law, neo-Nazis target Jews, Muslims

• Top Bahraini cleric: Qur’an burning has nothing to do with freedom of thought


Arab World

• UAE Astronaut Says Not Required To Fast During Ramadan On ISS

• Saudi Arabia stages first ever Biennale for Islamic Art in Jeddah

• Lebanon’s top prosecutor charges Beirut blast judge, releases all suspects

• Saudi, Pakistani defence officials discuss strengthening cooperation



• More Than 300 Terrorists Killed In Recent Military Operations In Somalia: Information Minister

• Islamic teacher bags life imprisonment for defiling eight pupils

• Jordan’s king, Qatar’s emir discuss expanding cooperation

• Bomb blast in central Nigeria kills 27 herders

• France to withdraw its troops from Burkina Faso within a month



• Pakistan Urges New Strategy As Using Aid To Pressure On Taliban Proves Ineffective

• Pakistan yet to decide on India's invitation to FM Bilawal to attend SCO meeting: Sources

• AlviCalls For Practising Islamic Teachings To Promote Inter-Faith Harmony

• Pakistan slams ‘Islamophobic hate crime’ in Netherlands

• US organizes US-Pakistani diaspora engagement conference


South Asia

• Afghanistan’s Taliban-Run Government not Reliant on Foreign Aid: Islamic Emirate Spokesperson

• Sharjah Tailor With Indian Passport Found To Be Bangladeshi After Not Singing Anthem

• Griffiths' Meetings With Islamic Emirate Officials Continue

• Bangladesh condemns desecration of Quran in Netherlands, Sweden

• Ban on NGO Female Employees Will not be Lifted: Taliban Minister

• Afghanistan: Taliban to set new rules on women's aid work, UN says


Southeast Asia

• Educate Islam’s Critics Too, Anwar Tells Muslims Outraged AtQuran Burning In Sweden

• Hadi Claims ‘Madani’ Concept Based On Western Philosophers Doomed To Fail

• Let’s celebrate inclusivity and moderation this festive season

• PM Anwar supports proposal to review Islamic studies in schools



• Over 12 Israel-Backed Terrorist Teams Dismantled by Iran

• President Rayeesi: Iran-Syria Relations Based on Resistance

• Israeli forces kill at least three Palestinians in West Bank’s Jenin

• Palestinian workers strike as UNRWA squeeze hits salaries

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi Witnesses Republic Day Parade At The Majestic Kartavya Path Along With President DroupadiMurmu

Jan 26, 2023

Indian President Droupadi Murmu, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pose for a photo during a ceremonial reception at the Forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan Presidential Palace in New Delhi


NEW DELHI: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Thursday joined a select group of world leaders to have graced India's Republic Day celebrations.

Sisi, as the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations, watched the colourful parade at the majestic Kartavya Path along with President DroupadiMurmu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a host of other leaders.

It was the first time that an Egyptian president is the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations.

Sisi held wide-ranging talks with Modi on Wednesday, a day after he arrived here on a three-day visit.

Every year, India invites world leaders to attend its Republic Day celebrations. There was no Republic Day Chief guest in 2021 and 2022 in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, then Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations.

In 2019, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was the chief guest at the Republic Day parade, while in 2018, leaders of all 10 ASEAN countries attended the celebrations.

In 2017, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was the chief guest at celebrations, while then French President Francois Hollande graced the occasion in 2016.

In 2015, then US President Barack Obama watched the parade.

In 2014, then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the chief guest at the celebrations, while Bhutan king Jigme KhesarNamgyelWangchuck attended the parade in 2013.

The heads of state and government who have attended the Republic Day celebrations include Nicolas Sarkozy, Vladimir Putin, Nelson Mandela, John Major, Mohammed Khatami and Jacques Chirac.

The then British Prime Minister John Major had attended the celebrations in 1993, Nelson Mandela participated as then South African President in 1995 while South Korean President President Lee Myung Bak witnessed the parade in 2010.

In 2008, Sarkozy participated in the celebrations as French President, while another French President Chirac graced the occasion in 1998.

Other world leaders who have attended the celebrations include Nepal's King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev in 1999, Iran's then President Mohammed Khatami in 2003, then Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2011 and President of Maldives Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in 1991.

Source: Times Of India

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“Mohammed TereBaap Ka Naam ‘Jai Shri Ram: Provocative Slogans Against Prophet Muhammed By Hindutva Mob To Protest Film ‘Pathan’

25th January 2023

Right-wing workers protesting against Pathaan release (left) while a Muslim local tries to reason with a police official against the derogatory comments made by the Hindutva workers in their protests (right)


In Madhya Pradesh’s Indore, members of a Hindutva group protested in front of a theatre raising provocative slogans against Prophet Muhammed and Shah Rukh Khan’s movie ‘Pathaan’ which was released in India and worldwide on Wednesday.

Shouting slogans like, “Mohammed TereBaap Ka Naam ‘Jai Shri Ram‘, Deshkegaddaro ko.. golimaaro“, right-wing workers wearing saffron shawls made derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad.

The news of the protest soon spread in the city irking many local Muslims who took to the streets opposing the right-wing protests.

“Every time, these people under the safety net provided by the state government make derogatory remarks on our Prophet. And no action is taken against them. We want the police to register an FIR against these right-wing protestors. Till then we will do a sit-in peacefully,” a Muslim man told a police officer on camera.

Reaction on Twitter

Twitter has been bursting with hashtags such as #PathaanReview, #SRK, #RaniSaOfBollywood #BLOCKBUSTER. Many videos have emerged showing a houseful theatre with a jubilant audience dancing to the tunes of Jhoome Jo Pathan song.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked BJP workers to refrain from making “unnecessary” comments about films during the two-day national executive meet.

It came amid the recent protests against ‘Pathaan’, with several BJP leaders like Ram Kadam and Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra criticizing the makers over Deepika Padukone’s saffron costume in the song ‘Besharam Rang’.

Source:Siasat Daily

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US Muslim Rights Group Calls On Biden To Suspend Use Of 'Terror' Watchlist, Composed "Almost Entirely" Of Arab And Muslim Names

25 January 2023

Muslims have long fought against the use of the list, as it deprives people of their ability to travel without presenting evidence against them (AFP/File photo)


Following a massive leak of the US government's no-fly list, a leading Muslim rights group is calling on the Biden administration to stop the use of the "terrorist" watchlist the government has been utilising for decades, saying that the list is composed "almost entirely" of Arab and Muslim names.

Last week, a Swiss hacker reportedly gained access to two lists, the no-fly list and the selectee list, after a regional American airline left them on a data server that was left exposed on the public internet.

The list, which was from 2019, contained about 1.5 million entries. However, this included multiple aliases of individual persons, bringing the total number of persons named in the list down, according to the hacker.

"It’s just crazy to me how big that Terrorism Screening Database is and yet there is still very clear trends towards almost exclusively Arabic and Russian-sounding names throughout the million entries," the hacker said.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair), which obtained copies of the list, said the contents showed it contained mostly Muslim and Arab names, proving that the FBI is disproportionately targeting the Muslim community.

"Even a cursory review of the lists show they are both almost entirely lists of Arabic and Muslim names. Children who were at most 10 years old at the time are on the No-Fly List. A then 7-year-old is on the Selectee list," Justin Sadowsky, Cair's trial attorney, said in a statement.

The no-fly list is a small subset of the US government's Terrorist Screening Database, which is also known as the terrorist watchlist. The list is said to contain identifying information of “known or suspected terrorists”. The FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center maintains the database.

The airline confirmed to The Daily Dot, a Texas-based media company, that the list was a version of the "federal no-fly list" from 2019, meaning that the Terrorist Screening Database could be much larger than the 1.5 million entry list that was leaked.

"On 19 January 2023, the FBI was notified of a potential data breach of information held by a privately held airline company, including purportedly sensitive government information. To be clear, no US Government systems were compromised or breached," the FBI said in response to Middle East Eye's request for comment.

The FBI said it had no further comment on the leak.

Muslims have long fought against the use of the list, as it deprives people of their ability to travel without presenting evidence against them.

In 2020, the US Supreme Court ruled that Muslim Americans who were placed on the FBI's no-fly list after refusing to spy on their communities were allowed to sue individual FBI agents - who allegedly violated their religious freedom - for monetary compensation and damages.

In 2016, Cair filed a lawsuit against the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center on behalf of 23 individuals on the list. In 2019, a federal judge ruled the list was unconstitutional.

"These leaks confirm that, in response to 9/11, the FBI decided to build a Muslim registry," Gadeir Abbas, a senior litigation attorney at Cair, said in a statement. "If the FBI is allowed to keep its Muslim registry, it is only a matter of time before the FBI aims its secret lists at others."


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Quran burning in Sweden reminds of Europe's 'dark hours,' say anti-Islamophobia activists

Feiza Ben Mohamed 


NICE, France

Rasmus Paludan, an extremist Swedish-Danish politician, burned a copy of the Muslim holy book, the Quran, on Saturday outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm with both police protection and permission from the Swedish government.

Morocco, Qatar, Türkiye and many other countries – as well as social media users – condemned the act, expressing their concerns amid a rise of extremist tendencies in Europe.

Tariq Ramadan, a prominent Swiss academic, told Anadolu that those incidents were not the first of their kind to occur, and that similar acts had been perpetrated in the Netherlands and the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention center.

"It is not only a will to clash ideas but also to humiliate and dishonor," he said, adding: "The spirit that generates today reminds us of the dark hours of Europe at the time of the Second World War and the treatment of the Jews."

According to Ramadan, "these types of provocations" aiming for confrontation are "self-fulfilling prophecies where we trigger the emotions and the reaction of someone else" by harming sacred values, "in order to prove that they (these people) are not one of ours."

Lawyer Rafik Chekkat, the founder of an "Islamophobia" platform, also compared those acts to Europe's 20th century antisemitism.

"The anti-Muslim racism helps today reconfigure the political field in many countries in Europe, by letting far-right groups extend their audience," he said.

For Chekkat, the Muslim question and Islamophobia have become "catalysts" of the European far-right groups' reconfiguration.

He added that Türkiye was matched to "Islam" by European far-right militants and called on Muslims to remain calm in their reactions and "control their emotions" to avoid the trap set for them.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Al-Azhar calls for boycotting Dutch and Swedish products in support of the Qur'an

January 25, 2023

A general view of the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, Egypt. [Stringer - Anadolu Agency]


On Wednesday, Al-Azhar Al-Sharif urged the Arab and Islamic nations to boycott all Dutch and Swedish products of any kind, "in support of the Holy Qur'an".

In a statement, Al-Azhar called for "taking a strong and unified stance in support of the Book of God, our Holy Qur'an, the holy book of Muslims, and an appropriate response to the governments of these two countries due to their insult of 1.5 billion Muslims."

Al-Azhar rejected "the two countries' protection of these despicable and barbaric crimes under a banner that is neither humane nor moral, which they call freedom of expression".

In the statement, it stressed "the need for the Arab and Muslim nations to commit to this boycott and to make their children, youth and women aware of it. "

It also noted that "any reluctance or negligence in this matter is an explicit failure to support the religion that God has chosen for them."

Al-Azhar added, "These deviants will not realise the value of this religion, which they know nothing about, and they are provoking the Muslims by insulting it; they will not realise its value until they are faced with the material, financial, and economic consequences, as this is the only language they understand."

On Monday, the leader of the extremist anti-Islam group, Pegida Netherlands, Edwin Wagensveld, burned a copy of the Holy Qur'an after it was torn and desecrated, in The Hague, about 3 months after he was arrested while he was also burning it.

On Saturday, the leader of the Danish far-right political party, Hard Line, burned a copy of the Quran near the Turkish embassy in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, amid tight police protection that prevented anyone from approaching him while he committed the act.

Source: MiddleEastMonitor

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Scottish Church Collegiate School Saw Christian, Hindu And Muslim Students Join Hands For The Puja


Jan 26, 2023

KOLKATA: Carrying forward an age-old tradition, minority students took an active part in decorating their school campuses across the city on Wednesday. While Muslim students from Taltala High School took the lead in decorating their campus, Buddhist students at Jadavpur Vidyapith took an active part in the puja preparations along with their classmates. Christian minority school Scottish Church Collegiate School saw Christian, Hindu and Muslim students join hands for the puja.

Aliza Sabbir of Class XII of Taltala High School decorated the floor with colours while her friends Sana Siddiqi, Kausar Ara, Sibam Das and Rohini Thapa were preparing other props. Vidya Kumari Singh, a Class XII student from the Sikh community, said: "This is a wonderful experience working with my friends and teachers."

Headmaster Ritwick Kundu said: "In our school, Muslim students play a major role along with the rest. They are happy to do it. They work together, enjoy and have bhog with the rest on the school premises."

Zayed Khan, Class X student of Scottish Church, has prepared models for the puja theme 'Jai Ho' with his Christian friend Paul Biswas, Class XII student Raj Ghosh and others. "We never consider this a religious occasion. It is an event at our school where we all take part," Zayed said. Principal Bibhas Sanyal said: "Nobody bothers about their caste or community here."

Aditya Barua, Uday Barua and Sharbani Barua of Class X, and AirinMostafi and Nabeya Islam of Jadavpur Vidyapith have either painted or made models to decorate their theme 'Suroloke Sur Murchhona' to pay tribute to legendary singers we lost last year.

Source: Times Of India

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Sudden Influx Of Hindus From Neighbouring Pakistan: Concern Over Pakistan Hindus Migrating To India ‘Illegally’

Yudhvir Rana

Jan 26, 2023

AMRITSAR: Security agencies here have expressed concern over the sudden influx of Hindus from neighbouring Pakistan on the pretext of paying obeisance at Haridwar and visiting their relatives in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, but only to stay back in India.

“In the past three months, as many as 64 groups of Hindus, comprising 14 to 45 members, have arrived India via the Attari international border and according to our reports, majority of them didn’t go back but have sought refuge in India, “ said a senior intelligence officer on Wednesday.

Their belonging, which includes even the smallest of household items, raised the suspicion of security agencies here of their intentions of not returning back.

The moot question is why the Pak Hindus are so desperate to leave their country and migrate to India and are even gladly ready to go to jail for illegally staying here.

“Besides religious persecution, government apathy and general discrimination by the majority Muslim community of Pakistan, those who are migrating to India are living in abject poverty and have their relatives in India,” said sources.

A Pakistani Hindu, who arrived here in the recent past, told on condition of anonymity that they were not allowed to take their Pak SIM cards to India and were asked to handover to Pak officials before crossing the border.

“I don’t know why but we all were told to remove the SIM cards from our mobile phones and hand them over to Pak officials at Wagah (Pakistan) border,” he said.

He also informed that there were organised groups of travel agents in Pakistan who make their travel arrangements, beginning form applying visas, on a payment of Pakistani Rs 8,000 to Rs 15,000.

So desperate are they to permanently stay in India that when asked, they could be imprisoned here and sent to jail for illegally staying here, one of them replied "Chalo jail to India ka hogana" (atleast the Jail will be India)

An intelligence officer here informed that the majority of these Hindu groups were comprised of members of one to three families, who arrive here on Haridwar and Jodhpur visa. “Many of them even don’t visit Haridwar and straight away move to Jodhpur to be with their relatives,” informed sources.

Babu Ram , a resident of Jodhpur who had arrived here to receive a 14-member group of relatives from Pakistan, said he would want them to stay here forever. “They themselves are not willing to go back,” he said. But he was quick to add that they were not having any problem in Pakistan too.

In 2012 , hundreds of Pakistani Hindus had migrated to India claiming their religious persecution and abduction of their women.

When asked about the migration of Hindus from Pakistan, especially from the Sindh province of Pakistan, a member of Pakistan’s National Commission for Minorities JapalChhabria said, “There is no discrimination in daily life but there is discrimination in the Constitution as non-Muslims are not eligible for the posts of President, Prime Minister chief justice and chief election commissioner.”

Source: Times Of India

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Modi, El-Sisi discuss defence, food security; Egypt backs India on cross-border terrorism


Jan 26, 2023

NEW DELHI: Counter-terrorism efforts, increasing radicalisation and cyber security were among the issues that dominated PM Narendra Modi's dialogue with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, with Modi saying in a media statement later that both leaders agreed concerted action is necessary to end cross-border terrorism.

The summit also saw India and Egypt elevating their relationship to the level of strategic partnership in an effort to ramp up defence, political, energy and economic ties.

The two countries also signed five MoUs, including one for cooperation in cyber security, and discussed ways to strengthen food and healthcare security. The reference to cross-border terrorism is significant for India as it helps the government put the spotlight on Pakistan for its support to India-focused terror groups active on Pakistani soil. It also fits in neatly with the understanding in India that Egypt is one OIC country which has not fallen for Pakistan's propaganda campaign against India on the Kashmir issue.

Modi said India and Egypt, the most populous Arab country, were worried about the spread of terrorism happening around the world and that they're unanimous in the opinion that terrorism remained the most serious security threat to humanity. "Both countries also agree that concerted action is necessary to end cross-border terrorism. And for this, together we will continue to try to alert the international community," said Modi.

Foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra later said both leaders strongly condemned the use of terrorism by countries as a foreign policy instrument and called for zero tolerance to terrorism and for "all those who encourage, support and finance terrorism, provide sanctuaries to terror groups, whatever their motivation may be."

Modi also said there's immense potential for enhancing security and defence cooperation between India and Egypt. "In the last few years, there has been a significant increase in joint exercise training and capacity building between our armies. We have also decided in today's meeting to further strengthen cooperation between our defence industries, and enhance the exchange of information and intelligence related to counter-terrorism," he said, adding misuse of cyber space to spread extremist ideologies and radicalization is a growing menace. El-Sisi acknowledged efforts to deepen defence ties and said the 2 countries had a common position on the need to counter terrorism and extremism.

The meeting saw discussions also on international issues like the Ukraine conflict and its effects on food and pharma supply chains. Egypt, which imports most of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine, has been particularly affected and has requested India for more wheat imports. India, which supplied 61,000 tonnes last year to Egypt overriding its own ban on wheat export, is considering Egypt's request to provide more of the grain.

Modi said he and El-Sisi agreed on the need for diplomacy and dialogue to resolve international disputes. India and Egypt, which is in the middle of a financial crisis with inflation at a record high and an external debt of $170 billion, also discussed efforts to improve bilateral trade and investment in food, pharmaceuticals and other areas. El-Sisi said in his media statement that Egypt was looking to welcome more Indian tourists. He also invited Modi to visit Egypt.

On defence cooperation, a major focus area, Kwatra said in a media briefing this was based on five sub-segments. "These are exercises, training, equipment, platforms, and more importantly, industry to industry cooperation," he said.

Source: Times Of India

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Jamia Millia university calls cops over BBC film

Basant Kumar Mohanty   |   New Delhi 


Jamia Millia Islamia university witnessed heavy police deployment on Wednesday to prevent the members of the CPM-backed Students Federation of India (SFI) from showing the BBC documentary on Narendra Modi, a day after the screening of the film in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) led to a scuffle. Around 40 students were detained by the police ahead of the screening that was scheduled to be held at 6pm on the lawns of Jamia. The screening could not be held as the organisers were detained. As word spread about the plans for screening, the administration locked the entry points of the university and called the police. The university reproduced a circular stating that no meeting of students or screening of any film shall be allowed on the campus without the permission of the competent authority, failing which strict disciplinary action shall be taken against the organisers. “The university is taking all possible measures to prevent people/organisations having a vested interest to destroy the peaceful academic atmosphere of the university,”  the statement from the varsity said. Around 2pm, the police were deployed on the public road on the campus. They had detained the organisers — Azeez, Nivedya, Abhiram and Tejas --  around noon.   The SFI gave a call to protest at Gate 7 at 4pm against the detentions. The police presence had increased substantially by then. The police whisked away the protesters as soon as they started their agitation. An SFI leader said that the detained male students had been taken to Fatepur Beri, about 20km from the campus. The SFI and All India Students Association (Aisa) demanded the release of students immediately. Abdus Samad, a student who had come to the protest site, said the screening should be allowed.  “Let the people see and decide. Why should the government prevent people from watching it? This is an assault on freedom of expression,” he said.


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‘Love Jihad’ Protests Natural, Ministers Attend Because ‘They Are Also Hindus’: Maharashtra Dy. Cm

Dy. Cm

January 25, 2023

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has said the term “love jihad” was coined in Kerala, not in his state, and defended the increasing protests by Hindutva outfits over the issue as a “natural reaction from within society”.

“This is not something that happened just here. Kerala coined the term. The BJP was not even [in government] in that state. It is the Congress and communist parties that have ruled Kerala,” he said Tuesday. “These are not BJP rallies, they are rallies organised by the society. Various organisations are coming together to organise such rallies.”

About BJP leaders and ministers’ attending such protests in Maharashtra, Fadnavis said, “In some rallies, our party workers or leaders have been present because they are also Hindus. If a rally is being organised on the problems faced by Hindus, then it is natural that these leaders may participate. This is not an agenda of [the BJP] .”

Fadnavissaid“love jihad’ was no longer the “far-fetched idea that it was for many people”.

“Today there is a noticeable design. I am not saying all marriages between Hindus and Muslims have the angle of ‘love jihad’, but there is a faction that is consistently bringing about such changes in society. When you notice this, it is natural there will be a reaction from within society,” he said.

Source: Indian Express

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North America


Perpetrators of ‘modern slavery’ given up to 12 years in US

Anwar Iqbal

January 26, 2023

WASHINGTON: Three members of a Pakistani-American family were sentenced this week to prison terms ranging from five to 12 years, for their roles in keeping a woman from Pakistan in forced labour at their home for more than 12 years.

US federal authorities, who described the case as “modern-day slavery”, said the victim had married into the family.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the US Justice Department said that Zahida Aman, 80, was sentenced to 12 years; Mohammed RehanChaudhri, 48, to 10 years; and Mohammad Nauman Chaudhri, 55, to five years in a federal prison in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Additionally, the court in Richmond, Virginia — where the defendants and the victim lived — ordered Aman and RehanChaudhri to pay the victim around $250,000 in restitution for back wages and other financial losses the victim incurred because of the defendants’ criminal conduct.

According to court documents, in 2002, the victim married Aman’s son, and the brother of defendants Nauman and RehanChaudhri. Thereafter, she lived in their home.

Over the next 12 years, the three defendants forced her to perform domestic services. To coerce that labour, the defendants verbally assaulted and physically abused the victim. The defendants slapped, kicked, and pushed the victim, even beat her with a wooden board, and, on one occasion, hog-tied her hands and feet and dragged her down the stairs in front of her children.

Even though the victim had temporary immigration status in the United States, Aman took her immigration documents. Thereafter, the defendants threatened the victim with deportation, should she not obey their demands.

The defendants also threatened to separate the victim from her children.

Following a seven-day trial in May 2022, the jury convicted all defendants of conspiracy to commit forced labour, convicted two of the defendants of forced labour, and convicted Aman of document servitude.

Jessica D. Aber, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and Stanley M. Meador, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Richmond Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by US District Judge John A. Gibney.

They banished the victim from the main part of the house to a basement to hide their conduct, limiting her access to food and basic human interactions and further separating her from her children, the prosecutor said.

Their conduct made the victim so desperate that she tried to take her own life twice. The victim lost 60 pounds and clumps of her hair during the 12-year ordeal and was physically unrecognisable to one of her brothers when he first encountered her after he travelled to the US from Pakistan to learn whether she was still alive.

After they were married, her husband told her that if she wanted to please him, she had to make his family and, particularly his mother happy. Within weeks of her arrival, the victim was forced to work all day and was slapped on a regular basis for performing chores incorrectly. On one occasion, she was tied with rope and pushed down the stairs in front of her children as punishment for taking one of the family member’s phones and trying to call her husband who had moved to California, where he lived with a girlfriend.

The defendants eventually moved the victim into the laundry room, where she slept on a mat on the floor.

Salman Chaudhri and the victim had four children from 2003 to 2008, before he moved out. In May 2016, the victim escaped from the family’s home with help from her brother and contacted the local police. The victim currently lives in Connecticut with all four children.

Source: Dawn

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US to top up Lebanon army, police salaries for six months

25 January ,2023

The United States announced Wednesday $72 million in aid to crisis-hit Lebanon to supplement security personnel salaries for six months, in a joint program with the United Nations.

Lebanon’s economy has been in free fall for three years, resulting in slashed military budget and eating away at the value of soldiers’ salaries.

Washington, which has long been the biggest donor to Lebanon’s army, has partnered with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to enable the delivery of the first US aid of its kind.

The program “will provide $72 million in temporary financial support for Lebanese Armed Forces and Internal Security Forces personnel,” the UN agency and US embassy in Beirut said in a joint statement.

The UNDP will disburse it through a local service provider, it added.

“These payments will provide every soldier and police officer eligible to receive assistance under US law with $100 per month for a period of six months,” the statement said.

An average monthly salary for a low-ranking Lebanese soldier is now worth roughly $50, down from about $800 before the 2019 economic crisis.

US ambassador Dorothy Shea said this was “the first time the United States has ever provided such financial support to security forces in Lebanon,” according to the statement.

The United States will repurpose “a significant portion of our security assistance to support hard-working men and women... with critical funds to put food on the table for themselves and their families,” she added.

Army commander Gen. Joseph Aoun said in a statement the aid package proves the international community “will not allow Lebanon’s collapse on the security front.”

Energy-rich Qatar announced last year $60 million in aid for Lebanon’s cash-strapped armed forces, with a security source telling AFP at the time it would cover soldiers’ wages.

Since 2019, the local currency lost 95 percent of its market value, forcing hundreds of members security forces personnel to defect while many have sought side jobs.

Source: Al Arabiya

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US House commends Iranian protesters in bipartisan vote

January 26, 2023

WASHINGTON: The US House overwhelmingly approved a resolution Wednesday expressing solidarity with people in Iran who have been risking imprisonment and even death to protest against the country’s theocracy.

The 420-1 vote marked the latest round of international condemnation against Iran’s government, which has engaged in a brutal crackdown of its citizenry since the September death of 22-year-old MahsaAmini in police custody.

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Kentucky, was the lone no vote.

“It is vital that we in the US House of Representatives, a body that is among the greatest symbols of freedom and democracy around the world, stand with one voice to affirm our support for the brave Iranian people,” Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., said during floor debate Wednesday.

The resolution was first introduced in the last Congress by several Republican and Democratic lawmakers and was revived earlier this month — reflecting a rare point of consensus for an increasingly divided Congress. Its passage came days after the US, Europe and the United Kingdom imposed a series of fresh sanctions on dozens of Iranian officials and organizations, including the country’s special military and police forces, for their violent clampdown.

Activists say at least 16 people have been sentenced to death in closed-door hearings over charges linked to the protests. Death sentences in Iran are typically carried out by hanging.

At least 517 protesters have been killed and over 19,200 people have been arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has closely monitored the unrest. Iranian authorities have not provided an official count of those killed or detained.

The protests began in mid-September when 22-year-old Amini died after being arrested by Iran’s morality police for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code. Women have been at the vanguard of the protests, with many publicly stripping off the compulsory Islamic headscarf, known as the hijab, in defiance of the government.

The protests mark one of the biggest challenges to Iran’s theocracy since the 1979 revolution — and the reaction from the government has been severe. Security forces have used live ammunition, birdshot, tear gas, and batons to disperse protesters, according to rights groups.

Source: Arab News

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Biden’s nominee for US human rights post withdraws after criticism of stance on Israel

26 January 2023

US President Joe Biden’s nominee for a top State Department human rights post has withdrawn her candidacy as she faced intense scrutiny from a Republican senator who refused to agree to her nomination due to her statements on Israel.

Sarah Margon, whose nomination to serve as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor had been announced in April 2021, and who was not yet confirmed, in a statement shared first with Politico on Tuesday, described her decision not to be re-nominated as the new Congress has taken over.

“At present, I don’t see a path forward for confirmation, and after one and a half years, it’s time to move on,” Margon said in the statement. “I will continue to work on democracy and human rights, and am grateful to President Biden and Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken for their confidence in me and the honor of a nomination.”

Margon faced opposition from James Risch, the Idaho senator who is the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Risch, citing past tweets of hers, accused Margon of supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which opposes Israel due to its policies toward the Palestinians.

Margon denied supporting the movement but her attempts to clarify the tweets didn’t sway Risch, neither did a letter of support from a bipartisan group of foreign policy professionals, some of them prominent in the Jewish community, who dismissed the allegations against Margon.

Margon likely had the votes to advance on the committee as the Democrats are in the majority, and she had the backing of its chairman, Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey, one of the most prominent supporters of US-Israel relations in the Democratic caucus.

However, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has a tradition of “comity,” where the chairperson and ranking member jointly agree to set agendas on business meetings, including when to schedule votes on nominees. Menendez would not break with that tradition.

Risch also took issue with Margon’s retweet in 2020 with approval of a New York Times opinion piece titled “I no longer believe in a Jewish state.”

At a hearing in September, Risch asked Margon, “Do you still subscribe to that?” Margon responded by saying she firmly believed in the so-called two-state solution, “so that Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side,” adding, “What I was focused on was the importance of ensuring Israelis and Palestinians could have equal protection under the law, access to democratic processes, security and prosperity.”

Margon, who grew up in a Jewish family in New York, is the US foreign policy director at the Open Society Foundations, the organization founded by billionaire George Soros. In the past, she served as the deputy Washington director for the NGO Human Rights Watch, a group that has clashed repeatedly with Israel’s government.

She explained that she had left the organization almost two years prior to the NGO’s determination that Israel was an apartheid state, adding she did not believe that Israel committed war crimes when it attacked Palestinians from Gaza.

The United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations Security Council, and the International Court of Justice have all said Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Source: Press TV

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Swedish Government Fails To Prevent Religion-Based Hate Crime Against Muslims And Jews   


The Swedish government has failed to prevent religion-based hate crime against Muslims and Jews.

In 2021, Muslims bore the brunt of more than half (51%) of all hate crimes against religious groups in Sweden, according to a report published by the National Crime Prevention Council.

They were followed by Jews (27%), Christians (11%) and other groups (11%).

Muslim and Jewish women are more likely than men to become victims of hate crimes.

The 2021 Religious Freedom Report by the US State Department stated that many hate crimes in Sweden were not being reported to police.

Anti-Semitism is "uncomfortably normalizing" in Sweden, according to a survey of more than 16,000 people in 12 EU member states by the bloc's Fundamental Rights Agency.

While 40% of respondents from Sweden stated that they had experienced anti-Semitic harassment in the last five years, nearly a third of respondents said they had experienced antisemitic harassment within 12 months.

In addition, 39% of respondents said they were worried about being a victim of anti-Semitic verbal abuse or harassment within 12 months, and 27% feared being physically attacked in the same period.

Rising anti-Semitism

The far-right Sweden Democrats party received 17% of the votes in 2017 and 20% in 2022, indicating a rise in anti-Semitic attitudes in the society at large.

In the country where 15,000 Jews live, the city of Malmo has become the hub of anti-Semitic hate crimes, with frequent incidents of violence.

According to the EU research conducted in 2019, anti-Semitic hate crimes have increased by 70% in the last five years in Malmo.

It is reported that the worshippers in synagogues in Malmo have decreased from 2,500 to 500 in the last 20 years.

The Swedish government tried to improve its image by hosting the "Holocaust Commemoration and Anti-Semitism Forum" in the city.

But in 2021, during one such ceremony, the words "The Holocaust was a hoax" were projected onto the Malmo Synagogue. The neo-Nazi Scandinavian Resistance Movement claimed responsibility for the act.

Sweden through eyes of Jews

Officials of Jewish organizations occasionally express their concerns about the situation in Sweden in open sources.

According to Jonathan Greenblatt, chairman of the Anti-Defamation and Denial League (ADL), Swedish Jews are concerned about anti-Semitism and do not feel completely comfortable expressing their religious identity in the country.

Brenda Katten, who works on the integration of immigrants and chairs the Israel, Britain and the Commonwealth Association, also finds it difficult to live in Sweden as a Jew. Katten believes members of the Jewish community face growing anti-Semitism in Sweden and live in fear of physical or verbal abuse.

SiyavoshDerakhti, who works against anti-Semitism and xenophobia, states that the Jewish community in Malmo has decreased by 50% in the last 10 years. According to Derakhti, anti-Semitism threatens the existence of minorities in Malmo.

UN warns Sweden to step up efforts to combat systemic racism

A delegation of independent experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council visited Sweden on Nov. 4.

Racial justice and equality experts, Tracie Keesee, Yvonne Mokgoro and Juan Mendez held talks in Stockholm, Malmo and Lund.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Encouraged by Swedish law, neo-Nazis target Jews, Muslims



The Nordic Resistance Movement (NMR), a neo-Nazi organization, is among those who have benefited from Sweden's broad description of freedom of expression that makes the burning of Quran "legal from a Swedish point of view."

Rasmus Paludan, an extremist Swedish-Danish politician, was behind the Quran burning in the Swedish capital on Saturday.

A day later Edwin Wagensveld, a far-right Dutch politician and leader of the Islamophobic group Pegida, tore out pages from the Muslim holy book in the Hague. A video he shared on Twitter also showed him burning the torn-out pages in a pan.

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said his government did not support the burning of holy scriptures, but argued that freedom of expression "makes it legal from a Swedish point of view."

Founded in Sweden in 1997 by neo-Nazi nationalists, the Swedish Resistance Movement (SMR) has since become a wider movement known as NMR in the Nordic region after having opened branches in Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland, where it was banned.

Its aim is abolishing the current democratic order in Nordic countries.

Openly racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi, the group has been targeting not only Jews, but also people and groups they see as ideologically opposed, and more recently Muslim refugees.

In 2022, some members of the US Congress called for the NMR to be added to the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations.

Klas Lund, the founder and first leader of SMR, was convicted in 1986 for the murder of anti-apartheid campaigner Ronny Landin, who intervened to stop the attack on three immigrants by the neo-Nazis.

Finland banned the NMR in November 2017, but the group has continued to stage demonstrations while appealing the decision.

On Jan. 5, 2017, individuals allegedly associated with NMR Sweden detonated homemade bombs outside a refugee lodging center in Gothenberg, injuring an immigration officer.

They also targeted a Jewish association in Umea with swastikas in April 2017, and the association had to close down due to these threats.

The NMR also targeted Jews in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland with antisemitic campaigns during Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Hebrew calendar in September 2020.

Attacks by NMR members reflect a deeper, systematic commitment to and spread of the group's extremist, violent ideology.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Top Bahraini cleric: Qur’an burning has nothing to do with freedom of thought

25 January 2023

Bahrain's most prominent Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim has strongly condemned the burning of a copy of Qur’an, Islam’s holy book, by a Swedish-Danish right-wing extremist in Stockholm, emphasizing that such sacrilegious acts and hate crimes cannot be counted as an instance of freedom of thought.

“The desecration of the Holy Qur’an by an extremist and radical person, identified as Rasmus Paludan – the leader of the StramKurs (Hard Line) Party, under the protection of police and with permission from the government, outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm cannot be viewed as an individual crime but rather a state offense,” Sheikh Qassim said in a statement.

He added that the imprudent move indicates the extent of desperation of Paludan and the Swedish government, and that all crimes committed in some European countries against Islamic sanctities and values are of the same nature.

“It would be incredibly insane to count such vile and brazen attacks on religious values as freedom of thought and speech. Its initiators and sponsors hold the belief that like other animals, human beings are allowed to do or obtain anything they would deem desirable,” Sheikh Qassim noted.

The distinguished Bahraini Shia cleric went on to stress that insults, lies, slander, hypocrisy and desecration of sacred values can by no means be regarded as freedom of opinion.

“If not, why don’t they allow anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and the burning of so-called pride flags? Aren't such measures designed to restrict personal freedoms?” Sheikh Qassim questioned.

“The ongoing desecration of sanctities in the West, just as it took place on Saturday before the eyes of more than a billion people and amid the silence and support of European governments, explicitly shows the evil intention to create sedition and chaos worldwide and undermine global security,” he noted.

The top Bahraini cleric finally called on concerned intellectuals and scholars to stop the wicked approach, which would lead to unbridled spread of terror, and to denounce it for the sake of world’s peace and stability.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned the burning of Qur’an in Stockholm as a “vile attack.”

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the vile attack on our holy book… Permitting this anti-Islam act, which targets Muslims and insults our sacred values, under the guise of freedom of expression is completely unacceptable,” the ministry said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu vented fury at Swedish authorities’ failure to ban the protest. “It’s a racist action, it’s not about freedom of expression,” he said.

In response to Sweden’s permission of the incident, Ankara canceled Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson’s visit to Turkey.

Source: Press TV

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Arab World


UAE astronaut says not required to fast during Ramadan on ISS

January 26, 2023

HOUSTON, Texas: Emirati astronaut Sultan Al-Neyadi said Wednesday that he will not be required to fast during Ramadan while on his upcoming space mission.

The 41-year-old will become the first Arab astronaut to spend six months in space when he blasts off for the International Space Station (ISS) next month aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Neyadi, NASA’s Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg and Russia’s Andrey Fedyaev are scheduled to fly to the ISS on February 26 as members of SpaceX Dragon Crew-6.

Asked at a press conference Tuesday how he will observe the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims typically fast from dawn to sunset, Neyadi said his situation falls under an exception.

“I’m in... the definition of a traveler, and we can actually break fast,” Neyadi said. “It’s not compulsory.”

“Actually fasting is not compulsory if you’re... feeling not well,” he said.

“So in that regard, anything that can jeopardize the mission, or maybe put the crew members in a risk, we’re actually allowed to eat sufficient food.”

Neyadi will be the second national from the oil-rich United Arab Emirates to voyage to space.

In September 2019, Hazzaa Al-Mansoori spent eight days on the ISS.

The NASA astronauts and Russian cosmonaut were also asked at the Johnson Space center Wednesday whether any of the political tensions on Earth, over Ukraine for example, spilled over into space.

“I’ve been working and training with cosmonauts for over 20 years now and it’s always been amazing,” said NASA’s Bowen, a veteran of three space shuttle missions.

“Once you get to space, it’s just one crew, one vehicle and we all have the same goal.”

Fedyaev pointed to the “very long history” of space cooperation between Russia and the United States.

“The life of people in space on the International Space Station is really setting a very good example for how people should be living on Earth,” the Russian cosmonaut said.

NASA officials said they expect the members of SpaceX Dragon Crew-6 to have a five-day handover with the four members of Dragon Crew-5, who have been on the ISS since October.

Also currently aboard the ISS are three astronauts whose return vehicle, a Soyuz crew capsule, was damaged by a strike from a tiny meteoroid in December.

Russia plans to send an empty spacecraft to the ISS on February 20 to bring home the trio — Russian cosmonauts Dmitry Petelin and Sergei Prokopyev and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio.

Their Soyuz MS-22 crew capsule sprang a radiator coolant leak after the meteoroid strike.

MS-22 flew Petelin, Prokopyev and Rubio to the ISS in September after taking off from the Russian-operated Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

They were scheduled to return home in the same spacecraft in March, but their stay on the ISS will now be extended by several extra months.

Russia has been using the aging but reliable Soyuz capsules to ferry astronauts into space since the 1960s.

Space has remained a rare venue of cooperation between Moscow and Washington since the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine.

Source: Arab News

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Saudi Arabia stages first ever Biennale for Islamic Art in Jeddah

January 25, 2023

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia witnessed a historic moment with the opening of the inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale, which presented historic and contemporary works of Islamic art from around the world.

On the evening of Jan. 22, the Western Hajj Terminal at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah was filled with crowds of people waiting in eager anticipation. This was not the usual throng of pilgrims that use the terminal each year to travel to Makkah for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, but one awaiting the beginning of another voyage — a metaphorical one into the realm of Islamic art through the first-ever Islamic Arts Biennale hosted by the Kingdom.

The crowd gathered under the impressive canopies of the Hajj Terminal, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which won the 1983 Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

The biennial event, which includes many newly-commissioned and never-before-seen works of art, marked a historic moment not just for Saudi Arabia and the Diriyah Biennale Foundation that staged the event, but for the legacy of Islamic art, which has witnessed hardly any large-scale international exhibitions since the 1976 World of Islam Festival in London.

Jeddah’s inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale celebrates the legacy of Islamic art in a place close to Makkah, the fountainhead and cradle of Islam, while forging a dialogue between the past, present and future through contemporary artworks by 60 established and emerging artists from Saudi Arabia and around the world, and with over 60 new commissions and 280 historical artifacts.

The effect is illuminating, mystical and enlightening in that this biennial, like its theme “Awwal Bait” which means “First House” in Arabic, celebrates the beauty and heritage of Islamic art in the birthplace of Islam.

“The Islamic Biennale, staged in this location at the Western Hajj Terminal, has meaning and anticipation for the future,” Saad Alrashid, a leading Saudi scholar, archaeologist and one of the curators of the event, told Arab News.

“Jeddah is the gate of the Haramain and has a deep history. There is an accumulation of strata of civilization in Saudi Arabia and throughout the ages this area was the crossroads of civilization between East and West and up to the North. Staging the Islamic Biennale here presents to the world the idea of connection between all Muslims and everybody that comes and goes from Saudi Arabia geographically, historically and politically.”

In the same vein, the theme “Awwal Bait” explores how the Holy Kaaba in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah aim to inspire Muslims both culturally and metaphysically to explore their sense of belonging and ponder the definition of home.

“At its core, the Biennale is about giving contemporary objects a home by giving them a lineage and giving historic objects a home by giving them a future,” SumayyaVally, artistic director of the Biennale, told Arab News.

“Seeing the Biennale come to life through the voices and perspectives of our artists has been profound,” she added. “Each of them has boldly and sensitively taken on the opportunity of this platform to contribute to an emerging discourse on Islamic arts that we hope will continue.”

Staging the Islamic Arts Biennale was the result of a global effort. More than 18 local and international institutions, including the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, alongside artifacts loaned by other prestigious international institutions with an interest in Islamic Arts, such as Benaki Museum in Athens, the History of Science Museum at the University of Oxford, the Louvre in Paris and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The Biennale was curated by a multi-disciplinary group of specialists, including Omniya Abdel Barr, an Egyptian architect and Barakat Trust Fellow at the V&A, and Julian Raby, director emeritus of the National Museum of Asian Art at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

“It was challenging to find objects that have survived that were made in Makkah and Madinah,” said Abdel Barr to Arab News. “We searched within collections to see how we could create a conversation between historic objects while also keeping in mind the contemporary context and this was the most interesting part.”

Regionally, the Diriyah Biennale Foundation has secured loans for the exhibition from institutions such as the King Abdulaziz Library, the National Museum, King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies and King Saud University — all in Riyadh — and Makkah’s Museum of Antiquities and Heritage, the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques and Umm Al-Qura University. From the wider region, works have been loaned from the Al-Sabah Collection and Dar Al-Athar Al-Islamiyyah in Kuwait, the Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo, and the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, among others.

The viewing experience is mystical, like a pilgrimage in itself. It begins in darkness with American Lebanese artist Joseph Namy’s commission “Cosmic Breath” presenting recorded calls to prayer from countries around the world played together, working as if in unison with the installation across the room by Saudi artist Nora Alissa, titled “Epiphamania: The First Light,” which depicts various black and white shots of pilgrims around the Kaaba shot impressively from beneath her abaya. Nearby is an Islamic astrolabe that is positioned towards Makkah. The trio of works mark the first example in the carefully curated show, demonstrating the dialogue generated from historic and contemporary Islamic works of art.

The structure of the Biennale is divided into four galleries and two pavilions that house artworks regarding daily Islamic rituals and Hajj. These sections intend to evoke both personal and collective emotions about the spiritual life of Muslims around the world.

Large-scale, newly-commissioned works are found outside around the terminal’s expansive and evocative canopies, amid rays of sunlight and views of Jeddah that periodically include airplanes taking off high into the sky. The works outside communicate with nature and the Aga Khan award-winning architecture of the terminal itself.

Outside are also the pavilions of Makkah and Madinah, which present material from the Two Holy Mosques, Masjid Al-Haram and from the Hujra Al-Sharifa in Madinah. The focus here is on the initial journey that the Prophet Mohammad and his followers took from Makkah to Madinah to escape persecution. The objects on display, once again a mixture of historic and contemporary, shed light on the sense of universal belonging that ensues from the Muslim pilgrimage and journey home afterward.

Surrounding the pavilions are works by artists including Dima Srouji, ShahpourPouyan, Moath Alofi, Reem Al-Faisal, Alia Farid, and Leen Ajlan.

Of note is Bricklab’s architectural installation “Air Pilgrims Accommodation 1958” inspired by Jeddah’s historic Hajj housing, which Vally describes as a site that “gathered people from all over the world to stay in one place — a place for cultural production and trade.”

“The idea emanating from the works outside is for them to generate invitations for gathering, for discussion and exchange,” Vally told Arab News.

This is reflected in Tanzanian artist Lubna Chowdhary’s “The Endless Iftar” which is a 40-meter-long table inspired by rituals of eating and gathering from around the world during Ramadan.

Also positioned outside is “My Place is the Placeless” by Iranian London-based artist ShahpourPouyan, presenting three large-scale differently colored architectural domes that represent the three major traces in the artist’s DNA after he took a test that revealed his origins go beyond his native Iran to include Scandinavia, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East.

“It’s about human interconnectedness in an effort to break down ethnic labels and identities,” Pouyan explained to Arab News.

Like the other works on show, Pouyan’s work reflects not just on Islamic culture but on its universality, its ability to connect beyond the Middle East and offer a unifying force that goes beyond religion, nationality and culture.

As Alrashid states: “Islam is a communication of knowledge and culture.”

He added: “Since the 2030 Vision we sense that we are more welcoming just like the Makkans in the past welcomed visitors during Hajj.

“We are showing the whole world how they can enjoy Islamic art,” he said. “The Biennale is not just an exhibition or something from the past — it continues through culture, through integration with the multiculturalism of Muslims.”

Source: Arab News

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Lebanon’s top prosecutor charges Beirut blast judge, releases all suspects

25 January ,2023

Lebanon’s top public prosecutor on Wednesday charged the Beirut port blast investigating judge and ordered the release of those detained in connection with the explosion, after rejecting the judge’s surprise resumption of the probe.

The moves by Ghassan Oweidat signal escalating opposition by Lebanon’s ruling establishment to efforts by Judge Tarek Bitar to reopen the probe into the August 4, 2020, blast that killed more than 220 people.

In a text message exchange with Reuters, Oweidat said he had summoned Bitar for questioning but did not specify whether he had charged him. Bitar said he had been charged but did not give details.

A judicial source had earlier said Oweidat had filed charges against Bitar over alleged wrongdoing in his handling of the probe.

Bitar on Monday unexpectedly resumed his investigation into the explosion after high-level political interference and legal complaints had paralyzed the probe for more than a year.

He also charged top current and former officials including Oweidat without specifying the charges against the top prosecutor.

Bitar said on Wednesday he would continue his probe despite mounting resistance. He told Reuters he would “continue until I issue an indictment” and said that Oweidat “had no right” to file the charge or release detainees.

For Lebanese desperate to see accountability over the explosion, Bitar symbolizes hope that justice may one day be served in a country where impunity has long been the norm.

Oweidat on Tuesday sent a letter to Bitar saying his probe remained suspended and on Wednesday issued a decision, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, saying the judge did not have the

authority to resume his investigation.

In the same decision, Oweidat released all those detained in connection with the probe “without exception” but said they would face a travel ban.

At least 17 people, mostly low- to mid-level officials, had been detained since 2020 in relation to the case, said Amnesty International, in conditions it said could violate their due process rights.

Badri Daher, who headed the customs authority at the time of the blast and was the most senior official detained following the explosion, was freed on Wednesday, Daher’s sister told Reuters.

The explosion, one of the largest non-nuclear blasts on record, was caused by hundreds of tonnes of ammonium nitrate unloaded at the port in 2013.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi, Pakistani defence officials discuss strengthening cooperation

January 26, 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Assistant Minister of Defense Talal Al-Otaibi on Wednesday met with Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, during his official visit to the capital, Islamabad, the defense ministry said.

During the meeting, they reviewed relations between the two countries and aspects of strategic cooperation in the existing and future defense fields.

Al-Otaibi also met with Pakistan Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, where they reviewed cooperation and joint coordination in the military field, and discussed a number of issues of common interest.

Al-Otaibi arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday, heading a Saudi delegation for a multi-day official visit.

He also held talks with the Chief of Staff of the Pakistani Army, First Lt. Gen. Asim Munir, where they reviewed the strategic partnership between the two countries and discussed cooperation and ways to develop and enhance them, especially in the defense field.

Source: Arab News

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More than 300 terrorists killed in recent military operations in Somalia: Information minister

Mohammed Dhaysane



Somalia’s Information Minister Daud Aweis said Wednesday that the national army (SNA) with support from local militias has killed 323 al-Shabaab terrorists in seven days.

He said among the victories include the capture of Eldher, Haradhere, and Galcad in Galmudug state.

“The terrorists have been controlling these areas for more than 15 years. In another operation in Galmudug more than 100 al-Shabaab has been killed by SNA after they attacked a military camp in Galcad,” he said at a news conference in the nation’s capital, Mogadishu.

Aweis said the SNA also killed 70 terrorists in the Beerfarah area in Haradhere in the Mudug region.

In Hirshabelle state, he said several operations were carried out against “the khawarijs al-Shabaab killing over 90 terrorists who continue to test the wrath of Somali national forces.”

He also noted that 40 al-Shabaab terrorists were killed in an operation in South West state and 10 were liberated from the group in Jubaland state.

A security analyst in Mogadishu, Abdi Abdirahman Yusuf, told Anadolu that recent operations by the army and the liberation of Haradhere, a coastal and strategic town 491 kilometers (305 miles) northeast of Mogadishu has been one of the defeats against the terrorist.

“Although, I can see that in the long term, there is a need for negotiation between the government and al-Shabaab, I can say that Somalia has achieved a lot of victories by liberating Hirshabele state and the ongoing offensives in Galmudug and the capture of Haradhere is a huge defeat for the group,” he said.

As operations against al-Shabaab are underway, the group has intensified attacks, targeting security personnel and their bases, since the national army, backed by residents, started an offensive.

Two car bombs exploded in October at the Education Ministry, killing at least 121 people and injuring more than 300, in the deadliest bombing in years in Somalia.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud declared a “total war” on all fronts against the terrorists and since the announcement the army has scored significant victories.

Somalia has been plagued by insecurity for years, with al-Shabaab and Daesh/ISIS being among the main threats.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Islamic teacher bags life imprisonment for defiling eight pupils

January 25, 2023

By Racheal Ayodele

Lagos State Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court have sentenced a cleric, Adam Farouk, to life imprisonment for defiling eight pupils aged six and 11 in his class.

Justice Soladoye Abiola held that the prosecution proves beyond reasonable doubt the ingredients of the eight-count charge bordering on sexual assault by penetration brought against the cleric, NAN reports.

The justice described the cleric as morally deficient and an embarrassment to the Islamic faith, noting that the evidence of the pupils was corroborated as they identified him as their teacher who penetrated them with his index finger.

”Evidence of the 10th prosecution witness, a midwife with the Women at Risk International Foundation, WARIF, OluchiNwoke-Okoi, revealed that the pupils had vaginal injuries. The defendant instructed the pupils to turn their backs while he defiled them with his index finger.

“He is meant to teach his students values, morals and discipline, but the reverse was the case. The safety and dignity of our students must be cherished. Dirty Islamic teachers of his kind must be locked away and made to pay for their dirty sexual indiscretions.

”The defendant is hereby convicted of all the charges and sentenced to life imprisonment on each of the eight counts but the sentences will run concurrently.”

Source: DailyPost Nigeria

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Jordan’s king, Qatar’s emir discuss expanding cooperation

January 26, 2023

DOHA: During talks in Doha on Wednesday, Jordan’s King Abdullah and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani discussed ways to expand political, economic and investment cooperation between their countries, the Jordan News Agency reported.

They also agreed on the importance of continued consultation and coordination on issues of mutual concern and in the service of Arab causes and regional stability, sources said, and discussed the latest regional and international developments, in particular those related to the Palestinian cause.

King Abdullah reaffirmed the importance of reviving the process for achieving peace between the Israelis and Palestinians based on a two-state solution, and of ending the illegal Israeli actions that undermine this.

Earlier, King Abdullah was greeted by Sheikh Tamim and other senior Qatari officials upon arrival at Doha International Airport.

King Abdullah on Wednesday departed on a working visit to Qatar, at the start of a tour that also includes Canada and the US.

Source: Arab News

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Bomb blast in central Nigeria kills 27 herders

Ibrahim Garba Shuaibu


KANO, Nigeria

A group of 27 Fulani herders was killed Wednesday and several others were wounded when a bomb exploded in the village of Rukubi on the border between Nasarawa and Benue states in central Nigeria, police said. 

Nasarawa state police spokesman RamhanNansel said the local police command was working in collaboration with other security agencies and the state government to determine the circumstances that led to the bombing and to arrest the perpetrators.

“It is unfortunate that such a thing happened. Twenty-seven of the herdsmen were killed after a bomb exploded in the Doma Local Government Area. The police and other security agencies are working around the clock to understand what led to the attack and track down those involved,” Nansel said.

Nasarawa Governor Abdullahi Sule commented on the blast, vowing to ensure that those behind the killings are apprehended and face justice.

He urged all Fulani people across the state to remain calm, saying the state government was working with authorities in Benue State to find a lasting solution to the incessant attacks on people along the Nasarawa-Benue border.

Sule said security operatives had been deployed to curtail any further breakdown of law and order in the area.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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France to withdraw its troops from Burkina Faso within a month

Nur AsenaErtürk


France will withdraw its troops from Burkina Faso within a month, local media reported Wednesday.

Burkina Faso on Monday requested that France withdraw its military, which was deployed to help local forces battle insurgents linked to the al-Qaeda and Daesh/ISIS terrorist organizations.

The West African country said it has decided to end a military pact that allowed the presence of French troops because it is in line with the transition government’s vision for the Burkinabe people to defend their country.

It noted, however, that the request does not mean the end of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

A French diplomatic source revealed that the request regarding the agreement of 2018 on the status of the French forces in the country will take effect next month, French radio broadcaster Europe 1 reported.

"We will respect the terms of the agreement and proceed with the request," the source said.

Relations between France and Burkina Faso have been low since soldiers seized control of the African country in September last year.

Several demonstrations have been reported against the French military presence in the country on perceptions that it has been ineffective against the terrorism that has been raging in the country since 2015.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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Pakistan urges new strategy as using aid to pressure on Taliban proves ineffective

January 25, 2023

NEW YORK: Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations, Munir Akram, has called for exploring a “new strategy” of engaging and persuading the Taliban to heed the international community’s concerns over political and human rights in Afghanistan so as to continue the global support for its suffering people.

“The strategy that has been followed so far of leveraging international assistance in order to pressurise the Taliban to do what the international community wants, has not been successful,” Akram said in an interview with BBC.

“Therefore,” he added, “we need to find a new strategy of engaging them and persuading them in order to correct their behaviour and to continue the international support for the Afghan people.”

Responding to questions, Ambassador Akram said that although some of the Taliban decisions are unacceptable to the World, Pakistan has no option but to live with Afghanistan, its neighbour. “Whatever happens in Afghanistan has impacts on Pakistan,” he said.

“We cannot afford not to continue engagement with the Taliban — they are a reality, they are in control of the whole country, and therefore we have to deal with them,” the envoy added.

He said if the international support or humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan was cut off, “we will have a dire situation — famine and hunger, an outflow of refugees, greater instability, rise of terrorism — all those consequences will flow from” such an action.

“So, we believe that we should continue engagement, continue humanitarian assistance and support for economic revival in Afghanistan because that is the way out for the Afghan people to emerge from poverty and the dire situation they face.”

“Because the economy has collapsed — the economy was dependent 75% on foreign assistance,” Ambassador Akram said the people of Afghanistan must continue to be provided international assistance. “That’s basically our approach.”

Replying to a question about the Taliban not fulfilling the promises they made had made, Ambassador Akram posed a question: “Apart from engagement, what is the choice that the international community has because the alternative is an even greater disaster in Afghanistan — so we have no choice but to engage with them and to continue to try to persuade them.

“It is uncertain, obviously, how and when we could persuade them but certainly, if we were able to put on the table, some incentives, perhaps they may respond better than pressure and coercion.”

Source: Pakistan Today

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Pakistan yet to decide on India's invitation to FM Bilawal to attend SCO meeting: Sources

Jan 25, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is yet to decide on India's invitation to Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to attend a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Goa, foreign ministry sources said on Wednesday.

All SCO members are expected to attend the meeting of foreign ministers in May to be hosted by India which has taken over the rotating presidency of the SCO in 2022-2023.

Sources in the foreign ministry confirmed that the invitation has been received but no decision has been taken if the foreign minister would travel to India.

Responding to a text message sent by PTI to Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch asking if her office would issue a statement on the matter, she simply responded: "No."

Launched in Shanghai in June 2001, the SCO has eight full members, including its six founding members, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan joined as full members in 2017.

It is for the first time that India has been given the opportunity to host the member in a high-profile setting.

If accepted, it would be the first visit of any Pakistani foreign minister to India since 2011 when Hina Rabbani Khar visited the country. She is currently the minister of state for foreign affairs.

The invitation came just days after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in an interview called for talks with India over all outstanding issues, including Kashmir, before clarifying that talks cannot take place until the “illegal actions of August 5, 2019” are reversed.

If materialised, Bilawal's visit would be under scanner as protests were organised in India over his "uncivilised" remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the United Nations Security Council meeting.

Source: Times Of India

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Alvi calls for practising Islamic teachings to promote inter-faith harmony

January 26, 2023

President Dr ArifAlvi has called for practising cherished principles of Islam which called upon everyone to practice one’s own religion without interfering in other’s religions, ensuring political, social, cultural, legal and religious freedoms for the followers of all religions, respecting and protecting their places of worship and allowing followers of all religions to pray in their worship places.

The president expressed these views while addressing the opening session of an International Inter-Faith Peace Conference titled “Respect for Humanity and its Importance”, in Islamabad, on Wednesday. Chairman Inter-Faith Council for Peace and Harmony, Maulana Abdul Khabeer Azad, and Founder of the Community of Sant’ Egidio, Prof Dr Andrea Ricardi, also addressed the occasion, whereas the Secretary General of the Muslim World League, Muhammad bin Abdul-Karim Al-Issa, addressed the occasion through a recorded video message. The conference was attended by the national and international scholars of different religions, and people from different walks of life.

Addressing the occasion, the president said that all the religions of the world preached peace, security and harmony in society but unfortunately, followers of different religions forget and neglect these teachings and resort to war on the basis of vested interests, nationalism, racism, land, resources or politics. The president said it was the duty of the Islamic society to protect the religious places of other religions, provide security and respect to their religious leaders and give equal rights to them under the law. He added that Muslim societies are responsible to protect the honor, dignity, life and properties of followers of all other religions.

He said that religion is wrongly labelled as the reason for war as most of the wars fought in the recent history were by those countries which had the knowledge, education and information, were developed but still they fought amongst themselves and with the others on the basis of their hegemonic designs and self-serving vested interests. The president said that human beings learnt more from making observations from what was happening in reality around them and less from the history and academic debates and in the same manner countries and nations do not learn from their past mistakes of waging senseless wars but repeat the same mistake again and again like USA and former USSR invaded Vietnam and Afghanistan and learned a bitter lesson, but soon forgot and invaded again in Afghanistan and Ukraine. Similarly, he added, that jews went through harrowing experience of Holocaust but the same Jews who were victims of holocaust forgot their experience and are perpetrating cruelty and inhuman treatment on Palestinians.

Source: PakObserver

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Pakistan slams ‘Islamophobic hate crime’ in Netherlands

January 26, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Wednesday strongly condemned the despicable act of desecration of a copy of the Holy Quran in the Netherlands.

A day after a similar act was committed by Sweden’s far-right politician Rasmus Paludan in Stockholm, Edwin Wagensveld, who heads the Dutch chapter of a German anti-Islam group, tore pages out of the holy scripture in The Hague during a one-man protest on Sunday.

In a video posted on social media on Monday, Wagensveld claimed that he had received permission from the city of The Hague for the “destruction” of the holy book.

In a statement issued in Islamabad, the Foreign Office spokesperson said: “It is undoubtedly a provocative Islamophobic hate crime committed under the guise of freedom of expression. Such offensive acts deeply hurt the feelings of 1.5 billion Muslims around the world and can create disharmony among the international community.”

Turkiye, Qatar and some other Muslim countries also denounced the sacrilegious act.

Pakistan, the spokesperson said, had always maintained that freedom of expression came with responsibilities.

“We also believe that it is the responsibility of national governments and the international community at large to prevent such vile acts, which are perpetrated with the ulterior motive to provoke and incite religious hatred and violence.”

The spokesperson urged the international community to raise its collective voice against Islamophobia and work together to promote inter-faith harmony and peaceful coexistence.

That was the spirit behind the resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2022 to mark March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia, the spokesperson added.

As Pakistan’s concerns were being conveyed to the authorities in the Netherlands, the spokesperson urged them to be mindful of the sentiments of the people of Pakistan and the Muslims around the world and take steps to prevent such hateful and Islamophobic acts.

Turkiye summons envoy

On Tuesday, the Turkish foreign ministry summoned the Dutch ambassador in Ankara to express its “deep displeasure” over the anti-Islam protest.

The Turkish foreign ministry said it condemned “in the strongest possible terms the vile attack of an anti-Islamic person”.

Earlier, the Dutch public broadcaster NOS said Edwin Wagensveld, who heads the Dutch chapter of Germany’s anti-Islam group Pegida, tore pages out of a copy of the holy scripture. Images on social media also showed him walking on the torn pages.

The summons came days after a similar protest outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm threatened to sink Sweden’s ambitions to join the Nato.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Sweden could no longer expect support for its Nato membership bid following its decision to allow an anti-Islam protester to desecrate the Holy Quran. Turkiye has one of the largest presence in Nato forces.

Mr Erdogan’s warning prompted Finland, which applied to join Nato together with its Nordic neighbour, to say for the first time on Tuesday that it might consider joining the US-led bloc without Sweden.

Meanwhile, Qatar also condemned and denounced in the strongest terms the incident occurred in The Hague.

Source: Dawn

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US organizes US-Pakistani diaspora engagement conference

January 25, 2023

ISLAMABAD: United States Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Andrew Schofer on Wednesday highlighted the valuable contributions of the US-Pakistani diaspora, which was a key partner in the humanitarian, social, and commercial sectors in Pakistan.

Andrew Schofer, at a US-Pakistani diaspora conference here in the Federal Capital, also shed light on the longstanding US-Pakistan partnership to advance Pakistan’s economic growth and emphasized continued opportunities for the future partnership, according to an embassy news release.

“As the Green Revolution improved lives in the past, a ‘Green Alliance’ between the United States and Pakistan will help us jointly strengthen climate resilience, develop clean energy alternatives, and foster economic growth,” he said.

At the event, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) signed four partnership memoranda of understanding with US-Pakistani diaspora entities, under which the Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs of North America, Silicon Valley will promote technology and digital investments in Pakistan and support Pakistani startups; SARCMedIQ to improve the health digital ecosystem in Pakistan; The Crescent Charity Foundation to support physical infrastructure in flood-affected areas of Pakistan; and PakFoods to improve humanitarian and social development outcomes for Pakistan.

The conference, which was sponsored by the US Embassy in close coordination with the Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs of North America, Silicon Valley, deliberated on the fundamental challenges and opportunities in the technology sector of Pakistan.

More than 300 participants attended in-person, including members of the US-Pakistani diaspora, prominent local business leaders, and Pakistani officials, including Federal Minister for Commerce Syed Naveed Qamar and Prime Minister’s Ambassador at Large for Investments Zeeshaan Shah.

USAID Mission Director Reed Aeschliman, in his remarks, said, “The conference was an opportunity to highlight some of the contributions and investments already made by the Pakistani diaspora, facilitate collaborations between Pakistani diaspora entities, and develop a road map for collective action to address the current economic, humanitarian and social challenges in Pakistan.”

Source: Pakistan Today

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South Asia


Afghanistan’s Taliban-Run Government not Reliant on Foreign Aid: Islamic Emirate Spokesperson

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

January 26, 2023

Taliban authorities rejected the UNOCHA report that Islamic Emirate will collapse due to the prevailing economic and humanitarian crisis in the country.

Zabiullah Mujahid, the Islamic Emirate Spokesperson on Wednesday said on Twitter that the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) report that the current Afghanistan administration will collapse due to economic challenges is incorrect. 

The Islamic Emirate has deep roots; it is not a system that simply relies on foreign aid. However, with the grace of Allah and the tremendous efforts the country’s leadership pays, things will gradually improve, Mujahid said.

“Any country that has experienced decades-long war and invasions will have economic problems for some time, but the Islamic Emirate is determined to revive all the economic resources of the country, improve the economy, and major steps have been taken in the past one, and a half years,” Mujahid added.

Mujahid’s claim comes as the country is suffering from a dire economic and humanitarian crisis amid the harsh winter hitting Afghan people the worst. Millions of people are in immediate need of humanitarian aid to survive the harsh winter across the country, with no food, no sources of income, and no prospects.

The impact of the recent ban on female employees of non-governmental aid organizations has been disastrous for ordinary people, disrupting aid distribution to vulnerable families during these difficult times.

Meanwhile, since the return of the Taliban to power in August 2021, foreign investment has dropped to zero, with no provision to attract national or international investors to the country. Although some Chinese companies have shown interest in investing in Afghanistan’s mineral sources, security remains a major challenge.

Source: Khaama Press

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Sharjah Tailor With Indian Passport Found To Be Bangladeshi After Not Singing Anthem

25 January ,2023

A Bangladesh national who allegedly got an Indian passport using forged documents was arrested after failing to sing the Indian national anthem on request at immigration, Indian media reported on Wednesday.

Anwar Hussein flew into the South Indian city of Coimbatore from the United Arab Emirates’ Sharjah on an Air Arabia flight, the Times of India reported.

Upon presenting his passport which had another Indian city, Kolkata, as primary residence, officials began questioning Hussein.

“He gave contradictory answers,” TOI reported citing a police official. He reportedly also produced a birth certificate, which is allegedly forged, and a national identity card called the ‘Aadhar card.’

At this point, when the officials asked him to sing the Indian National Anthem, Hussein confessed that he was in fact a Bangladeshi national from Payari village in the Maimensingh district. He was arrested on Monday.

An initial investigation revealed that the 28-year-old worked in Tiruppur in 2018 and obtained Aadhaar and birth certificate by forgery at the time.

In 2020, using these documents, he obtained a reportedly valid Indian passport and traveled to the UAE.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Griffiths' Meetings With Islamic Emirate Officials Continue

By Fatema Adeeb

The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Martin Griffiths, has met several senior officials of the Islamic Emirate and discussed the issues of women’s education and work.

Griffiths met with the first deputy of the Prime Minister, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar; acting Interior Minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani; acting Minister of Education, Mawlawi Habibullah Agha and the acting Minister of Refugees and Repatriation, Khalil Rahman Haqqani.

In his meeting with the acting Minister of Interior, Martin Griffiths emphasized the importance of women’s education and work, calling education a basic right of women that needed to be restored.

“In this meeting, the education and work of females were discussed. Referring to the mentioned issues, the acting Interior Minister said that these restrictions are not permanent and that education is a need of the society,” said Abdul NafayTakor, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry.

“(Griffiths) offered to the leadership of the Islamic Emirate that women should be given jobs where they are necessary,” said Abdul Mutalib Haqqani, a spokesman for the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation.

In his meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Griffiths said that the international community is willing to interact and maintain relations with the Islamic Emirate to solve the problems of Afghanistan and right now the opportunity for relations have been provided.

“These meetings that they have with the Islamic Emirate’s officials are aimed to use encouraging and punishing policies of the US against the Islamic Emirate,” said Ahmad Munib, a political analyst.

“It is important that the Afghan government brings fundamental changes inside Afghanistan and reopen the gates of schools and universities for the students,” said Najibullah Jami, a political analyst.

Source: ToloNews

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Bangladesh condemns desecration of Quran in Netherlands, Sweden

January 26, 2023

Dhaka, Jan 26 (EFE).- Bangladesh Thursday strongly condemned the desecration of the Holy Quran by a far-right activist in The Hague, urging all concerned to put an end to such unwarranted provocations and Islamophobia.

The leader of the far-right Pegida movement in the Netherlands, Edwin Wagensveld, tore pages out of a copy of the Quran on Sunday near the Dutch parliament and stomped on them.

“Bangladesh strongly condemns the recent act of desecrating the Holy Quran by a far-right activist in The Hague,” a foreign ministry statement said.

“Bangladesh expresses grave concern over such heinous incident and rejects any act of insulting the sacred values and religious symbols of the Muslims – for that matter of all religions – all over the world under any circumstances,” the ministry said.

The ministry earlier on Jan.22 condemned the act of burning the Holy Quran by a far-right activist in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.

Far-right demonstrators burned a copy of Quran and chanted anti-Muslim slogans in front of Turkey’s embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, on Saturday, prompting protests and condemnation from the Muslim world.

Bangladesh is a predominately Muslim country where nearly 90 percent of its 170 million people follow the religion.

Thousands of Muslims demonstrated in Dhaka in 2020 in protest of French President Emmanuel Macron’s allegedly anti-Islam remarks in defending blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Muhammad.


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Ban on NGO Female Employees Will not be Lifted: Taliban Minister

By Nizamuddin Rezahi

January 25, 2023

Mullah Mohammad Abbas Akhund, the Acting Minister of Disaster Management of the Islamic Emirate has said the decree banning women employees from working for NGOs will not be lifted, and the international community should respect the Islamic culture of Afghanistan.

Mohammad Abbas Akhund on Tuesday told to BBC the world should respect Afghan culture, and reiterated that restrictions on female employees working with government and non-governmental organizations will not be removed.

The Taliban minister’s remarks come as a senior United Nations delegation visited Afghanistan last week, and met with high-ranking interim authorities of the country aimed at removing the imposed gender-based restriction on Afghan women and girls.

The UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammad stated to the media that a timeline should be set and the “Taliban” should be forced to remove restrictions accordingly. Without a clear timeline, these temporary restrictions could continue up to another 50 years, therefore, a proper timeline is urgently needed to address the issue.

Meanwhile, Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the European Union said on Tuesday that the EU and the UN will stand with Afghan women and girls in all circumstances. 

Ned Price, U.S. States Department’s Spokesperson in a press conference on Tuesday stated that restricting women employees working for NGOs has caused an 80 percent decline in the activities of aid organizations in Afghanistan in the recent past.

Source: Khaama Press

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Afghanistan: Taliban to set new rules on women's aid work, UN says

By Lyse Doucet

Taliban ministers have told a senior UN official they plan to draw up new guidelines to allow Afghan women to work in some humanitarian operations.

Martin Griffiths told the BBC he had received "encouraging responses" from a wide range of Taliban ministers during talks in Kabul, even if last month's edict banning Afghan women working for NGOs is not reversed.

With Afghan women playing a crucial role in delivering aid, there is concern the ban is endangering urgent life-saving humanitarian operations in the country.

"It's worth remembering that, this year, Afghanistan is the biggest humanitarian aid programme in the world ever," Mr Griffiths, the UN's Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, told me in Kabul.

The aid arithmetic is staggering. This year, agencies will try to reach 28 million Afghans, more than half the population, including six million who are, Mr Griffiths says, "knocking on famine's door".

This year is Afghanistan's coldest winter in a decade, and it's been cruel. In the past two weeks, more than 126 Afghans have perished in freezing temperatures, collapsing from hypothermia, or overcome by toxic fumes from gas heaters.

And winter's icy blast strikes a people already living, perilously, on the edge. Providing aid to Afghanistan is of epic proportions too.

In a mud-and-straw home perched perilously on a steeply-sloped hill blanketed in snow in Parwan province north of Kabul, we met one family whose complaints were as bitter as the cold.

"No aid agencies visit us here," lamented mother Qamar Gul, as the family huddled around a "sandali" - a traditional charcoal heater Afghans have relied on for centuries to keep warm. "No one came from the last government, no one from the Taliban government."

This week, as the government's military helicopters struggled to reach the most isolated communities completely cut off by colossal snowbanks and blinding storms, Mr Griffiths was holding back-to-back meetings in Kabul with senior Taliban government leaders about the new edict banning Afghan women from working with aid organisations.

"If women do not work in humanitarian operations, we do not reach, we do not count, the women and girls we need to listen to," Mr Griffiths underlines when we meet at the UN's sprawling compound at the end of his mission. "In all humanitarian operations around the world, women and girls are the most vulnerable."

An aid official with decades of experience in tough environments, including Afghanistan, he was cautious, but clear, about the results of his high-stakes mission.

"I think they're listening," he said of the Taliban ministers he had met, "and they told me they will be issuing new guidelines in due course which I hope will help us reinforce the role of women."

MrGriffiths's visit comes on the heels of last week's flying visit by the UN's second-in-command Amina Mohammed, a British-Nigerian Muslim woman whose presence underlined the UN's growing alarm over a raft of Taliban edicts threatening to "erase women from public life".

She told us her conversations were "very tough". Some meetings were so candid, they were almost cut short. But she told us she was encouraged by a willingness to engage.

MrGriffiths's mission - representing the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), the UN's highest-level forum to co-ordinate humanitarian aid - has been to delve into very specific details across a range of vital sectors from agriculture to sanitation and food deliveries.

No one realistically expects the ban, announced last month, to be reversed. But it seems to have many loopholes.

Mr Griffiths highlighted "a consistent pattern of Taliban leaders presenting us with exceptions, exemptions, and authorisations for women to work". So far, a green light has been given to crucial areas like health and community education where women's participation is essential.

But it's also clear the most conservative of Taliban leaders are not for turning.

"Men are already working with us in the rescue efforts and there is no need for women to work with us," insists the white-bearded cleric who heads the State Ministry for Disaster Management. When we sat down with him in his office, the acting minister Mullah Mohammad Abbas Akhund accused the UN and other aid agencies of speaking "against our religious beliefs".

"I'm sorry, I don't agree," was Mr Griffith's firm reply, emphasising that the UN and other aid agencies had been working in Afghanistan for decades. "We respect the customs and norms of Afghanistan, as we do in every country that we work."

The race to deliver urgently-needed relief has been slowed by this painstaking process of dealing with an authority ruled by the most senior, most strict Taliban leaders. Other senior figures question edicts but cannot quash them.

But Mr Griffiths pointed out that humanitarian access was significantly better now since the Taliban swept to power in 2021. Areas previously cut off by threats of Taliban attacks or US-led military operations were now much easier to reach. Last winter, 11th-hour humanitarian interventions in remote regions, including the central highlands of Ghor, pulled families back from the brink of famine.

It's a point Taliban officials constantly stress. The acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Amir Khan Muttaqi urged Mr Griffiths to share their "achievements and opportunities... instead of complaints and shortcomings".

But as the worst of winter closes in, the window is closing for an urgent relief effort. Several aid agencies, who rely enormously on their Afghan female staff have already suspended their operations.

Source: BBC

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Southeast Asia


Educate Islam’s critics too, Anwar tells Muslims outraged at Quran burning in Sweden

By Syed JaymalZahiid

26 Jan 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today called on Muslims to counter anti-Islam movements globally through intellectualism.

He said helping critics understand Islam better is as important as condemning acts of provocation, following the burning of the Quran by right wing secularists in Sweden.

“Yes we must protest, but it is also important we must give our understanding and do our utmost to ensure the message of the Quran is alive,” he said after a book launch at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation here this morning.

Sweden is facing severe global backlash, including from Malaysia, after Swedish-Danish far-right politician Rasmus Paludan burnt a copy of the Quran in Stockholm earlier this week.

Anwar had previously condemned the desecration of the Islamic holy book as a vile act.

Today, Anwar expressed his support for Muslims to hold protests against the Swedish government even as he stressed the need for Muslims to bridge the divide with non-believers.

He said PAS members have the right to express themselves, ahead of the Islamist party’s plan to stage a protest outside the Swedish High Commission here tomorrow.

“They have the right to,” he told reporters.

“If PAS wants to do it, it can do it.

“They have the initiative and we support that. I do not think that there is any issue,” he said, but urged demonstrators to be peaceful.

He added that the government has already taken a strong stand on the issue and made it very clear it will not tolerate the burning of any religion’s holy book.


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Hadi Claims ‘Madani’ Concept Based On Western Philosophers Doomed To Fail

By Ashley Yeong

26 Jan 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 — Any “Madani” concept for the advancement of civil society must properly follow the precepts of Islam to succeed, according to PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang.

Any other version that is guided by Western philosophers will fail, he asserted today, in what appears to be a response to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s recent push to establish a “Malaysia Madani” model to lift Malaysians of diverse races and creeds.

In a Facebook post this morning, the Islamist said the word “madani” is derived from the Quran, and its concepts and practice must follow the tenets of Islam.

“A civil society model that is not based on the model of Allah and the Messenger of God will surely lead to the same failure as the previous civilisation and the modern civilisation that is burning itself now.

“Muslims cannot be influenced by the concept of 'civil society’ brought by those who do not share the same faith,” the Marang MP said, referring to Western philosophers such as Thomas Paine, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Adam Smith, and Karl Marx.

Naming two famed Islamic philosophers of the past, Hadi said Al-Farabi who is also called Alpharabius in the West, and Ibn Khaldun, were the ones who made the term “madani” known worldwide.

Al-Farabi had introduced the term “Al-Madinah Al-Fadilah” in response to Greek philosopher Aristotle’s The Republic while Ibn Khaldun introduced the word “madani” as a concept of the civil nature of human beings back in the Middle Ages through his book, Al-Muqaddimah.

Hadi said the word is rooted in Islamic history as noted when Prophet Mohammad changed the name of the place of migration from Yathrib or Taibah to “Madinah” to act as a guide for the establishment of a civil society.

He stressed that the gathering of Muslims and non-Muslims living together as a plural society in the Arabic city of Medina proves the success of the “madani” concept.

He suggested that for Malaysia to similarly succeed in this model, it should follow the established Islamic practice.

“Hopefully, we can establish a state and a country that follows the pattern of Allah in Terengganu and Malaysia,” Hadi said.

On January 19, Anwar introduced his “Malaysia Madani” blueprint as a new narrative for the nation going forward.


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Let’s celebrate inclusivity and moderation this festive season

26 Jan 2023

It is hoped that everyone in this country will come to appreciate the significance of these invaluable attributes, and learn to respect one another’s differences.

Today is the fifth day of the Chinese New Year. Allow me to take this opportunity to say “Happy New Year” to all our readers here.

When visiting or having gatherings with friends and relatives over the past few days, many people not only enjoyed the sumptuous spread of good food on the dining table, but often also washed it down with some beer, wine or Whiskey. Of course, there are plenty who would prefer Chinese tea and strictly no alcohol.

In addition, mutual visits among Malaysians from different cultural backgrounds during a festive season have evolved over the years into a veritable Malaysian hallmark. Many foreigners living here are immensely fascinated by our ethnic, religious and cultural diversity. The harmonious coexistence among people of different races, in particular, has impressed them tremendously.

We have been living like this for so many years on this land, because we believe in a spirit called inclusivity, and an attitude called moderation!

Every year during the Chinese New Year, my Malay neighbours would invariably drop by our house, and we would unfailingly reciprocate their goodwill on Hari Raya. We would never stay away from them just because of our cultural or religious differences because we believe in this spirit called inclusivity and the attitude of moderation.

After the results of the recent general election were released, non-Muslims in the country started to feel a powerful conservative gust initiated by PAS sweeping across much of our country. Forced to choose the lesser of the two evils, many of us would rather opt to support Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who still has many court cases awaiting him, because we did not want the country to fall into the hands of the advocates of religious conservatism and their Perikatan Nasional allies.

Gerakan president Dominic Lau said recently that he had arranged a “heart-to-heart” close-door dialogue with PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang to reflect the voices of non-Muslim community in hope of allaying the Islamophobia among non-Muslims in the country.

What I am trying to say is that non-Muslims in this country are absolutely not resisting Islam, and that there is no Islamophobia among us, although we do feel uneasy with some of the things PAS has done in the name of religion.

Take for example, PAS’ PermatangPauh MP Muhammad Fawwaz Mohamad Jan stormed into Sunway Carnival in an attempt to block a beer promotional event at the Seberang Jaya mall. He said he had received complaints from some Muslims arguing that such major beer promotional event had made Muslims feel uncomfortable.

Obviously the MP’s move was meant to incite public emotion ahead of the state election in Penang and elsewhere. And this also proves that Dominic Lau’s attempt to whitewash PAS’ extremist image has failed badly, making it even harder for non-Muslims to change their deep-rooted perception of the Islamist party.

Actually, if we care to look back at all those little things we have experienced and shared in our day-to-day life with our fellow Malaysians from other cultural backgrounds, we should be able to feel that there is indeed this spirit called inclusivity, and attitude called moderation in this beloved country of ours.

1. Muslims in the country offer their subuh prayers early in the morning each day, and non-Muslims still sleeping soundly have learned to accept this unique Malaysian way of living with a respectful and accommodating heart, as the sounds of prayers are blasted through the mosque speakers disrupting their sleep.

We do this because of this thing called “inclusivity.”

2. Every time during Chinese New Year, Hari Raya or Deepavali, deafening fireworks will explode in the night sky as soon as the clock strikes twelve, but no one will feel offended by the sleep-depleting noise because we will simply share their joy and celebrate together, for we believe in the spirit of inclusivity!

I regularly attend luncheons or dinners the prime minister or ministers host for the chief editors. Occasionally beef is served on the table, but I as a Buddhist will never feel offended or uncomfortable, because deep inside me I believe in this spirit called inclusivity.

Malaysians of different races have been able to live together peacefully since the dawn of nationhood as we embrace our diversity, mingle together and respect one another with a spirit called inclusivity, and attitude called moderation.

Such a unique way of living must be passed down to our future generations. Each and every one of us has this obligation to promote such merits and embed them in our everyday life.

As a media practitioner, I am convinced that I can use the humble pen in my hand to help promote national unity by carrying heart-warming reports of great deeds among Malaysians which can be shared and appreciated by all irrespective of race and religion, with the objective of fortifying our inclusivity in molding a strong and moderate multicultural society.

And this is the one thing I have been doing since taking over as Sin Chew Daily’s editor-in-chief in 2016, because I see the importance of inclusivity and moderation.

It is my sincere hope that everyone in this country will come to appreciate the significance of these two invaluable attributes, and learn to respect one another’s religions, cultures and lifestyles.

Many non-bumiputras tend to feel marginalised or even sidelined, but Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim assured us that his unity government would not allow this thing to happen again in future, while launching the “Malaysia Madani” concept lately.

By right our politicians should portray themselves as role models for the rakyat, and respect one another’s differences with an inclusive heart instead of enforcing their narrow-minded value into other people.


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PM Anwar supports proposal to review Islamic studies in schools

By Syed JaymalZahiid

26 Jan 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today supported calls for Islamic studies in schools to be reviewed and tailored more to stress compassion and “good values”.

Anwar also backed suggestions by scholars that Islamic civilisation be taught at every level.

The prime minister said the subject is crucial to encourage dialogue and tolerance, citing long-held Islamic traditions for intellectualism and appreciation of world knowledge beyond Islam.

Anwar said this at the launch of the book Knowledge, Tradition and Civilisation: Essays in honour of Professor Osman Bakar at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation-International Islamic University Malaysia (Istac-IIUM) here.

“There are suggestions from scholars such as Professor Osman who stated that the Islamic religious studies being taught in schools must be re-looked at and reviewed to ensure that what is taught gives a better understanding of the issues of values, character and universal humanity values. These have to be emphasised,” he said.

“This is so because often, Islam is taught by quoting authorities and fatwas are issued (by authorities) based on their own understanding. Sometimes, when we question (the fatwas), they say that it is not right,” he added.

“If the main teachers take a wrong action, it must be questioned.”

Islamic courses in the universities have not been reviewed since they were first introduced, Osman said in his speech.

The scholar, widely regarded as an essential public intellectual, and a pioneer in Islamic civilisational studies, told Anwar that the entire Islamic education syllabus must be reviewed and reformed.

The prime minister agreed. He suggested the Malaysian education system’s over-emphasis on scores is flawed and that it must also stress on character and values.


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Over 12 Israel-Backed Terrorist Teams Dismantled by Iran


"The terrorist teams, who were detained by intelligence forces in a short period of time, were planning to take revenge for their recent failures (in creating insecurity in Iran) by conducting operations," Khatib said.

Saying that the enemies' conspiracies have made the Iranian nation know them better, Khatib stressed that the country has successfully passed the recent sedition with the guidance of Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei and the unity of the Iranian people.

On January 10th, news sources reported that Iran's intelligence forces managed to identify and detain 13 members of 2 Mossad spying teams across the country. That was the second major intelligence and operational failure of the Zionist regime in less than 6 months.

Various types of operating equipment were also seized from them, the statement added.

Source: Fars News Agency

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President Rayeesi: Iran-Syria Relations Based on Resistance


"Iran is a true friend of Syria as Iran stood by the Syrian government and nation during the war against terrorism, it is also ready to stand by them in the reconstruction era," President Rayeesi said.

He reiterated that Iran-Syria relations are strategic as they are based on shared beliefs and also the spirit of resistance displayed by their people. 

The Syrian defense minister, for his part, said that with the help of its brothers and true friends, Syria emerged victorious in the fight against terrorism and will play its role as one of the loops of the axis of resistance more than before.

He said that the axis of resistance will have a key role in shaping the new world.   

"The enemies have always been seeking to disrupt the relations between Iran and Syria," the Syrian defense minister said, adding that the relations between the two countries are much stronger and more deeply rooted than to be underlined by such efforts.

Since 2011, Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy, as a result of which Daesh and other terror groups emerged in the country.

Iran maintains an advisory mission in Syria at the request of Damascus with the aim of helping the war-ravaged country get rid of the foreign-backed militants who have been fighting against the democratically-elected Syrian government since 2011.

Several members of the IRGC have so far martyred in battle against terrorists in the war-torn Syria.

Source: Fars News Agency

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Israeli forces kill at least three Palestinians in West Bank’s Jenin

26 January ,2023

Israeli troops killed at least three Palestinians and wounded several others during clashes with gunmen on Thursday in a flashpoint town in the occupied West Bank, witnesses and medics said.

The Israeli military confirmed that an operation was underway in Jenin but did not immediately provide further details.

Jenin is among areas of the northern West Bank where Israel has intensified raids over the past year after local men carried out street attacks in its cities. The violence has further clouded stalled US-sponsored talks on Palestinians’ statehood.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Palestinian workers strike as UNRWA squeeze hits salaries

25 January ,2023

Schools, clinics and some municipal services in the West Bank were closed on Wednesday as workers went on strike for a third day amid an escalating funding squeeze on the United Nations agency that pays their wages.

Around 3,700 workers in the West Bank joined the strike, demanding an across-the-board pay increase of 200 Jordanian dinars ($281.81) a month from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

“The strike will go on until UNWRA accepts our demands,” said Jamal Abdullah, head of the union representing workers paid by the agency in the West Bank.

On Tuesday, UNRWA appealed for $1.6 billion in funding for schools, healthcare and aid in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, where most Palestinian refugees or their descendants from various Arab-Israeli conflicts live.

With donations to the agency hit by crises across the world, compounded by inflation and supply chain disruptions, there was no immediate prospect of relief.

“All indications point out that it is going to be a difficult year,” said Adnan Abu Hasna, spokesman of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza City.

With health clinics closed, some 50,000 school students shut out of their classrooms, and rubbish piled up in the streets on Wednesday, the strike added to the daily struggle faced by people in deprived areas of the West Bank.

“Cleaners aren’t working, so garbage and dirt are piling up next to houses and stores,” said Hussein Zaid, a resident of Jalazone camp outside Ramallah, where UNWRA supports a health center and two schools. “If you go into the camp, you will not be able to pass because of the dirt and garbage.”

In Gaza, the blockaded southern coastal strip run by the Islamist movement Hamas, there was only one brief stoppage this week but pressure mounted for humanitarian supplies that many refugees depend on for food.

Nahed Abu Amira, 63, who said his 24-member family depended entirely on UNWRA aid to survive, said cooking oil and flour allocations in the aid packages they received had become smaller in recent months as food prices have surged globally.

Source: Al Arabiya

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