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Islamic World News ( 5 March 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Eid-e-Gulabi: Did You Know Holi Has A Rich Muslim History Too?

 

 

 

Pakistani Hindus celebrate Holi AFP/File

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

India

Eid-e-Gulabi: Did You Know Holi Has A Rich Muslim History Too?

Muslim Law Board to Discuss Scrapping Of Quota, Beef Ban in Maharashtra

MIM counts on Muslim votes for a fair show in UP

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Demonstrators form a human chain at the Swami Narayan Temple in Karachi Photo credit: Muzammil Afzal

 

 

  

Pakistan

Muslim’s Human Shield to Protect Hindus Celebrating Holi in Pakistan

Harsher Punishments in Child Marriage Act approved by Punjab Assembly

Pakistan backs Ummah’s unity without sectarian or racial considerations: FO

'Last Jew in Pakistan' Beaten by Muslim Mob - Then Arrested

‘Pak to host two-day forum of Islamic countries’

TTP militant arrested in Bannu: ISPR

Pakistan wants to have a sustained relationship with US: Nisar

Head of seminary, 2 others convicted in rape case

Sindh senate election marred by horse-trading

Faced with failure in Fata, PML-N spoilt Senate race?

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Arab World

Outcry as Islamic State Bulldozers 'Wreck' Nimrud, Iraq

Saudi King Aims For New Sunni Bloc Vs Iran and Islamic State

A Pornographic Film ‘Shot Near Pyramids’ Riles Egyptians

Al-Azhar Imam lashes out at West for creating ISIL

US-led alliance must wage anti-ISIL ground war: Riyadh

Islamic State fighters near Raqqa

Islamic State militants torch oil field near Tikrit

UNESCO condemns ISIS destruction of ancient Iraq city as ‘war crime’

Blast kills top leaders of Qaeda branch in Syria

Senior Nusra Front commander killed in Syria air strike

Iran promoting terrorism, taking over Iraq: KSA

'Nearly 50,000' pro-Islamic State Twitter accounts

RT’s special report on the Islamic State: Newly formed, newly armed, newly funded

Violence uproots 28,000 Iraqis in Tikrit: UN

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Africa

Suspected Boko Haram Militants Kill 68 in Nigerian Village

Tunisian troops find large arms cache near Libya border

Libyan rivals hash out unity deal in Morocco

500,000 displaced in Sudan’s Darfur in 2014: UN

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Southeast Asia

No Nod Given To Groups to Convert Locals to Islam, Says Sabah Religious Authority

Over 60% of Islamic Funds Held By Malaysia, Saudi Arabia

Muslim NGOs can’t enter Sabah as they like

Isma slams weakling govt for not defending Islam

Muslims allowed to convert non-Muslims, Isma editor tells ‘infidels’

Muslim youth group accuses Shafee of ‘qazaf’, demands JAIS probe

A year on, Malaysia and Australia remain confident MH370 will be found

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North America

U.S. Authorities Struggle to Find a Pattern among Aspiring Islamic State Members

Poll: 1 In 4 Americans Say Islamic State Represents True Islam

U.S. calls for U.N. action over Syrian deadly chlorine gas attacks

Netanyahu’s Address to Congress: A Lesson on Courage

CAIR Seeks Motive in Shooting Death of Texas Muslim

Lies About Islam and Destroying America From Within

The stigma of being Muslim in America

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Mideast

Israeli Papers React to Netanyahu Speech with Shrugs And Cynicism

Iran Hints At 10-Year Partial Nuclear Freeze

Turkish PM: U.N. had ‘no Plan A’ to end Syria war

Palestinian leaders cut security coordination with Israel: PLO

Good nuclear deal at hand: EU's Mogherini

Drills showed Iran's versatility against threats: Cmdr

Entire Israel within range of resistance groups: Iran Cmdr.

Demo due in Jordan over Israel gas deal

Tajik opposition leader killed in Istanbul: Turkish media

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Europe

Canada’s Role in Iraq Could Mirror Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Says

British lawmakers push for Gaza access

Italy urges Russia to help tackle Libya conflict

British, Canadian Muslims work to burnish image

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South Asia

FBI Team Meets DB Officials to Probe Avijit Roy’s Murder

Two more implicate Siraj in Bagerhat massacre

Top Jamaat leader in new bid to halt execution

No end to violence in Bangladesh

Taliban deny Afghan Shiite kidnap

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/eid-e-gulabi--did-you-know-holi-has-a-rich-muslim-history-too?/d/101840

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India

 

Eid-e-Gulabi: Did You Know Holi Has A Rich Muslim History Too?

Mar 6, 2015

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed/IANS

Holi has a Muslim history as well. Revered Sufi saints like Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia and Ameer Khusro have, in their chaste Persian and Hindvi poetry, adored the 'pink' festival generously.

The last Moghul Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, allowed his Hindu ministers to smear his forehead with gulal on Holi. He believed that his religion would not be affected by this social ritual.

Holi This enlightened spirit percolated among the Moghuls, right from the time of Emperor Akbar.

Jahangir has been shown holding Mehfil-e-Holi in `Tuzk-e-Jahangiri'. Many artists, specially Govardhan and Rasik, have shown Jahangir playing Holi with Noorjahan, his wife.

Mohammed Shah Rangila is shown running around the palace, his wife chasing him with a 'pichkari'. During Shahjahan's rule in Delhi, Holi was known as Id-e-Gulabi -- Pink Id -- or Aab-e-Pashi -- Shower of Colourful flowers.

Holi symbolises the commencement of a new year with a rabi harvest along with nice weather and refreshing air. The Umarahs, the Rajahs and the Nawabs all exchanged rose water bottles and sprinkled it on each other amid the frenzied drumming of the 'nagaras'.

More colour to Holi is added as it falls near the Muslim festival of Id-ul-Fitr.

Who says Holi is a Hindu festival, asks Munshi Zakaullah in his book "Tarikh-e-Hindustani".

"Jam-e-Jahanuma", an Urdu daily, said in 1844 that during the days of the Moghul Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, special arrangements were made for Holi festivities.

The major part of this ceremony used to be the sprinkling of yellow colour, prepared from Tesu ke Phool -- flowers producing yellow dye -- squirted with the help of syringes of various forms and kinds made of metal, glass and wood.

There also used to be the snowballing of red and yellow colour even on the king.

"Tehzib-ul-Akhlaq" mentions in 1855 how the king got his forehead smeared with colour.

A real colour riot used to be witnessed when dancing girls, bedecked with jewellery, used to go past the ramparts of the Red Fort, the veiled princesses ecstatic at the sight of the libertinism of Holi songs and the classical dance.

Most Holi songs were sung in the havelis and the lobbies of the rich. Some groups were known as Kufr Kachehris -- mock courts.

Urdu poetry gives a special place to Holi's colourful ceremonies. The greatest work on Holi has been compiled during the 17th and 18th centuries in Persian and Urdu.

Quli Qutab Shah, a renowned south Indian poet, wrote about Holi in his inimitable Hyderabadi Urdu, describing the festival of colours in the Braj and Bundelkhand regions in India's north.

Fayeez Dehlvi of Shahjahanabad wrote pleasing verse on the celebrations.

Wajid Sehri, a Delhi poet, mentions how Akbar Mahabali used to have many colourful ponds to enjoy a Holi dip.

Equally enjoyable are the poems of Mir Taqi Mir who joined the court of Nawab Asaf-ud-Daulah and wrote in praise of Jashne-e-Holi. Poets like Khwaja Haider Ali Aatish, Insha and Taban have written great Holi songs.

Firoz Bakht Ahmed is a columnist, educator and grandnephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, India's first Minister of Education

http://www.firstpost.com/world/eid-e-gulabi-did-you-know-holi-has-a-rich-muslim-history-too-2139413.html

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Muslim Law Board to Discuss Scrapping Of Quota, Beef Ban in Maharashtra

by Mohd Faisal Fareed | Lucknow | Updated: March 6, 2015

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), in its meeting at Jaipur from March 20 to 22, will take up issues like beef ban and scrapping of the Ordinance providing quota to Muslims in educational institutions in Maharashtra.

AIMPLB executive committee member Zafaryab Jilani said though these issues were not in the agenda, it is affecting the people in Maharashtra and thus, will be discussed. The AIMPLB will hold its executive panel meet on March 20, followed by the general body meeting in Jaipur.

“It is a wrong decision to ban beef. Even a large number of Hindus, Christians and the poor have been affected. We will also take up the issue of scrapping of quota for Muslims. This has been done despite the court’s sanction,” said Abdussattar Yusuf Sheikh, AIMPLB founder senior secretary.

The AIMPLB will also decide its future course of action over meeting PM Narendra Modi. On June 1, AIMPLB had decided to have no contact with Modi for six months.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/muslim-law-board-to-discuss-scrapping-of-quota-beef-ban/

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MIM counts on Muslim votes for a fair show in UP

Mar 5, 2015

AGRA: Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) president and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi will kick start the party's expansion plan in Uttar Pradesh with two back to back rallies this month. The first one is to be held in Allahabad on March 15 and the second on March 29 in Agra. Owaisi will address a public rally here during which he will announce the party's political strategy for Uttar Pradesh.

MIM Agra district convener Mohammad Idris Ali said, "This will be the first time that the MIM president will address any public rally in UP. We have started making arrangements to make it a grand affair. The public rally will be held in Kothi Meena Bazar ground."

Owaisi's UP dreams were triggered by MIM's decent performance in the Maharashtra assembly election where it bagged two seats, lost three by a narrow margin and finished third in nine constituencies. The party also cut into the traditional vote banks of Congress and NCP while managing to get a grasp of some BJP strongholds as well.

In UP, MIM expects to eat into the vote share of regional parties that banked on Muslim votes; the SP and BSP. Ali said there are 100 assembly seats where Muslims decide the fate of the candidates. "We will try and bring them to the MIM fold," he said.

In a bid to give shape to party's cadre in the state, the MIM has formed committees in 35 districts and booth-level teams in 25 districts.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/agra/MIM-counts-on-Muslim-votes-for-a-fair-show-in-UP/articleshow/46471399.cms

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Pakistan

 

Muslim’s Human Shield to Protect Hindus Celebrating Holi in Pakistan

IANS | Mar 6, 2015,

ISLAMABAD: A human shield was formed at the Holi celebrations at Swami Narayan Temple in Karachi to show solidarity with and protect Hindus in attendance.

The National Student's Federation (NSF) organised the formation of a human shield on Friday, the demonstration is an attempt to promote interfaith coexistence and cooperation among different religious and ethnic groups in Pakistan, Dawn reported.

The NSF leveraged social media to spread information about the event, extending e-vitiations to others who share their outlook on religious tolerance and wish to participate in the demonstration.

A member of the NSF describes it as a "progressive leftist organisation" dating back to the NSF of the Ayub Khan era - former president of Pakistan.

A member of the NSF, Fawwad Hasan, said, "When we showed solidarity with Shias at the Imambargah, Jaipaal Chhabria a doctor by profession joined us and stood alongside us so it's only fair that as a group, we extend the same courtesy to all Hindus in Pakistan who face a lot of prosecution of different kinds."

He cited the desecration of Hindu temples, forcible religious conversion of girls against their will, and suppression of culture and religious practices as reasons for showing solidarity with and protecting Hindus.

"We are not religious fundamentalists who take religion into our own hands, that is not what we do," he explained.

"Society as a whole has to show change and be a part of that change. If you don't stand up for someone else's rights today, tomorrow you will also be targeted and there will be no one to stand up for your rights."

These sentiments are echoed by the NSF which seeks to disrupt a narrative of government apathy concerning religious minorities.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Human-shield-to-protect-Hindus-celebrating-Holi-in-Pakistan/articleshow/46475072.cms

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Harsher punishments in Child Marriage Act approved by Punjab Assembly

ARIF MALIK

Mar 06, 2015

LAHORE: A bill proposing an amendment to the Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929 has been approved by the Punjab Assembly. Under the new law, parents and clerics who allow the marriage of underage children will face greater penalties than they had under previous versions of the law.

Among the revisions to the law are the imposition of a six-month prison term and a fine of Rs50,000. In addition, there will be a prison sentence and fine imposed on the cleric overlooking the marriage ceremony.

Previously, parents faced a month-long prison sentence and a fine of Rs1,000, while clerics were not penalised in any way. The changes have been made after the Punjab Assembly had, earlier this year, discussed the possibility of amendments to the law.

The Sindh Assembly passed a Child Marriage Restraint Act in 2013, making it the first provincial assembly to do so.

Read more: Sindh Assembly passes bill prohibiting child marriages

In December last year, Justice Shaiq Qazi had emphasised the need for clarity regarding child marriage legislation.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1167780/harsher-punishments-in-child-marriage-act-approved-by-punjab-assembly

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Pakistan backs Ummah’s unity without sectarian or racial considerations: FO

Mar 06, 2015

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office said on Thursday that it supported the Ummah’s unity and had no sectarian or racial considerations in relations with countries in the Muslim world.

Responding to reports in international media that Saudi Arabia was trying to unify Sunni states against the self-styled Islamic State’s threat and Iran, Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said: “Pakistan always stood for the unity of the Muslim Ummah. We do not look at Muslim Ummah through sectarian, racial or ethnic prism.”

Take a look: PM, Saudi King vow to strengthen relations

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s three-day visit to Saudi Arabia on the invitation of King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud took place as part of hectic diplomatic outreach by the Kingdom in the face of evolving regional situation, which also saw Egyptian and Turkish presidents visiting Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had, during Prime Minister Sharif’s meeting with King Salman, agreed on Wednesday on security cooperation.

No details have been shared about the nature of security cooperation the two countries are envisioning. The existing security cooperation is about training, joint military drills, and operational preparedness.

Media reports have suggested that Saudi Arabia is asking Pakistan to increase troops’ deployment in the Kingdom.

Speaking about cooperation with Saudi Arabia against IS, Ms Aslam said: “Terrorism is a menace that no country can fight alone. We cooperate with other countries and also need cooperation of all countries. The prime minister met the king yesterday. They underscored the close and brotherly relations between two countries. They also identified a number of fields for enhanced bilateral cooperation, including energy, trade, investment, security and of course, counter-terrorism efforts.”

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1167723/pakistan-backs-ummahs-unity-without-sectarian-or-racial-considerations-fo

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'Last Jew in Pakistan' Beaten by Muslim Mob - Then Arrested

Mar 06, 2015

A Jewish activist in Pakistan was savagely beaten by a Muslim mob Wednesday - and then arrested and roughed up again by police.

Fishel Benkhald - who is leading a one-man campaign to preserve the old Jewish cemetery in Pakistan's largest city, Karachi - has been a vocal activist for minority rights in the country, which is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim and where minorities such as Christians, Hindus and non-Sunni Muslims are routinely persecuted.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva Thursday, Benkhald - the son of a Muslim father and a Jewish mother, but who identifies as Jewish - told how he had agreed to a face-to-face debate with a Muslim Pakistani man after a discussion on the topic of minority rights on Twitter.

"I was debating over Twitter with a young educated Pakistani Muslim that non-Muslim Pakistanis should be allowed in theory to be elected president according to our constitution," the discussion was purely theoretical, he noted, given that non-Muslims account for only around 3% of the Pakistani population.

After a back-and-forth "I proposed to debate face to face," said Benkhald. "He asked for me for my cell phone number and I gave it to him."

The two agreed to continue a friendly discussion at a restaurant in Karachi. But when he got there, Benkhald soon found himself ambushed.

"I went there alone but he was with his friends, we started the debate in a normal discussion manner but soon it got heated up and cursing started."

At that point, a "mob" began to gather around him  "and two of the guys who were with him started manhandling me - I should have left at that time.

"They started punching me and when I fell they started kicking my head. Someone also tried to snatch away my mobile."

Full report at:

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/192184#.VPmKaXyUd5s

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‘Pak to host two-day forum of Islamic countries’

March 06, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed on Thursday announced that for the first time in Pakistan a two-day “Think Tanks Forum of the Islamic Countries” will be held on March 7-8 in Islamabad, under the joint auspices of the Pakistan-China Institute (PCI), the Turkish Asian Centre for Strategic Studies (TASAM), the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) and Pakistan’s Senate Committee on Defence.

Senator Mushahid Hussain is Chairman of the organising committee of the think tanks forum, which Pakistan is hosting for the first time. Previously held every two years in Istanbul, Cairo, Baku, Baghdad and Tehran, the subject of this year’s forum is “Addressing Multi-Dimensional Security Challenges in the Islamic Countries” and will focus on themes addressing security challenges (such as terrorism, extremism and cyber security); cooperation in defence, politics and economy; dialogue among Muslims to promote unity; as well as promoting a soft power image of Muslim countries as a whole.

The ‘Think Tanks Forum of the Islamic Countries’, having its secretariat in Istanbul, is a biannual gathering of the representatives of think tanks from Muslim countries, and is hosted by TASAM, a think tank based in Istanbul. The Forum has a nine-member board of eminent persons from different Muslim countries, where Senator Mushahid Hussain, PCI Chairman, represents Pakistan, while other represented countries include Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Malaysia and Sudan.

Full report at:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/06-Mar-2015/pak-to-host-two-day-forum-of-islamic-countries

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TTP militant arrested in Bannu: ISPR

MATEEN HAIDER

Mar 06, 2015

ISLAMABAD: A Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP) militant was arrested on Friday morning in an information-based operation (IBO) carried out by security forces near Sarai Naurang in Bannu, said a statement issued by the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR).

The ISPR statement added that the militant Sargana Rasool Khan was involved in terrorist activities across the province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

Security forces also recovered three fake passports, 100 Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs) and a cache of arms from the terrorist's possession.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1167783/ttp-militant-arrested-in-bannu-ispr

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Pakistan wants to have a sustained relationship with US: Nisar

IRFAN HAIDER

Mar 06, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Friday said that Pakistan wants to have a long term, sustained and multifaceted equation with the United States.

This was stated by the interior minister during his meeting with Mr Richard G. Olson, US Ambassador to Pakistan who called on Nisar at Punjab House today.

During the meeting, both diplomats discussed Pak-US bilateral relations, regional security situation and the recent visit of the interior minister to the US.

Nisar said that long term relations with the US would not only contribute towards bringing the two countries closer to each other but would also contribute significantly towards the promotion of regional peace and development.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1167785/pakistan-wants-to-have-a-sustained-relationship-with-us-nisar

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Head of seminary, 2 others convicted in rape case

NISAR AHMAD KHAN

Mar 06, 2015

MANSEHRA: The Anti-Terrorism Court, Abbottabad, convicted the head of a seminary and his two accomplices on Thursday for subjecting a First Year girl to rape in a moving car, and sentenced two of them to 14 years’ rigorous imprisonment.

ATC Judge Raja Masood also convicted a co-accused, who was driving the car when his accomplices were committing the crime, to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment.

The widely reported and condemned rape case took place on May 12 last year when cleric Qari Naseer, who is also the head of a seminary, and his two accomplices, Mohammad Faizan and Hussain Mushtaq, tricked the student into sitting in their car with help of an accomplice, Anam Bibi, a classmate of the victim.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1167730/head-of-seminary-2-others-convicted-in-rape-case

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Sindh senate election marred by horse-trading

HABIB KHAN GHORI

Mar 06, 2015

KARACHI: Despite claims by the provincial government that senate elections were held in a transparent manner on Thursday, horse-trading marred the polling process as Pakistan Peoples Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement candidates polled seven more votes than their collective strength of 143 in the Sindh Assembly.

In the 167-member house, the PPP has 92 MPAs, MQM 51, Pakistan Muslim League-Functional 10, PML-Nawaz eight, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf four and National Peoples Party two.

Also read: PPP gets one more crucial vote a day before senate polls

While four lawmakers belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf stayed away from the polling process, total 163 lawmakers cast their ballots and of them seven candidates of the PPP and MQM collectively received 150 votes.

The leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly conceded that at least five of their 18 MPAs cast their ballots against their conscience.

Speaking to newsmen after the announcement of poll results by returning officer S.M. Tariq Quaderi, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah said senate elections had been held in a free and peaceful manner which was proof that democratic culture was taking firm roots.

The chief minister’s victory speech merely rubbed salt into the wounds of Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Shaharyar Khan Mahar, who rejected the CM’s claims and said the level of “rigging and horse-trading” in senate elections had put the entire assembly to shame.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1167664/sindh-senate-election-marred-by-horse-trading

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Faced with failure in Fata, PML-N spoilt Senate race?

KHAWAR GHUMMAN

Mar 06, 2015

ISLAMABAD: What pro­m­pted the PML-N to issue a controversial late-night presidential order; the single seat that the ruling party had been eyeing from the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (Fata) or the eventual election to the posts of chairman and deputy chairman?

The answer differs depending on who one asks.

A couple of well-connected government sources told Dawn that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had asked his cabinet members to take every possible step to ensure the success of their party’s candidates in the Senate elections. Last week, after receiving the Saudi king’s invitation to him, the PM busied himself in preparation for his first official trip to the kingdom. However, federal ministers such as Pervaiz Rashid, Khawaja Saad Rafique and KP Governor Sardar Mahtab Ahmed remained busy with reaching out to other political parties in order to seek their support for the PML-N candidates.

“Throughout Wednesday, government ministers tried their level best to muster support for a ruling party candidate from Fata, but to no avail. Meanwhile, the party’s legal experts had been tasked to work out the presidential order, which was issued after midnight,” said a government source privy to the developments.

Asked if the PM was taken on board before issuing the controversial presidential order, a government source said, “As far as I know, Hamza Shahbaz Sharif — son of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif – was liaising with the two elder Sharifs, who were in Saudi Arabia when the decision was taken.”

Confirming the frantic efforts the government side was making, PML-N MNA from Fata Shahabuddin Khan told newsmen outside Parliament House on Thursday that, “We tried our level best to work out some common ground, however, we were left with no choice but to issue the presidential order.”

For Syed Ghazi Gulab Jamal, parliamentary leader for members of the National Assembly from Fata, it was a bit of both. Talking to Dawn, Mr Jamal explained that under the new scheme of things, three Fata MNAs could elect one senator, which suited the ruling PML-N perfectly as they had three lawmakers from the tribal region.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1167726/faced-with-failure-in-fata-pml-n-spoilt-senate-race

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Arab World

 

Outcry as Islamic State bulldozers 'wreck' Nimrud, Iraq

6 March 2015

Archaeologists and officials have expressed outrage about the bulldozing of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud by Islamic State militants in Iraq.

On Thursday IS - which controls swathes of Iraq and Syria - began demolishing the site, which was founded in the 13th Century BC, Iraqi officials said.

The head of UN's cultural agency condemned the "systematic" destruction in Iraq as a "war crime".

IS says ancient shrines and statues are "false idols" that have to be smashed.

"They are erasing our history," Iraqi archaeologist Lamia al-Gailani said.

Nimrud lies about 30km (18 miles) south-east of Mosul.

Many of the artefacts found there have been moved to museums in Baghdad and overseas, but many remain on site.

As an act of cultural vandalism, the attempt to destroy Nimrud is already being compared with the Taliban's demolition of the Bamiyan Buddha rock sculptures in Afghanistan in 2001, says the BBC's Jim Muir in Beirut, neighbouring Lebanon.

'Levelled'

IS "assaulted the historic city of Nimrud and bulldozed it with heavy vehicles," the tourism and antiquities ministry said on Thursday.

Full report at:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-31760656

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Saudi king aims for new Sunni bloc vs Iran and Islamic State

BY ANGUS MCDOWALL AND AMENA BAKR

Mar 5, 2015

 Saudi Arabia is pushing for Sunni Muslim Middle East countries to set aside differences over political Islam and focus on what it sees as more urgent threats from Iran and Islamic State.

Its new monarch, King Salman, has used summits with leaders of all five Gulf Arab states, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey over the past 10 days to reinforce the need for unity and find a way to work around disagreements over the Muslim Brotherhood.

Saudi Arabia's deep-seated mistrust of the Islamist group is unchanged, diplomats say. But King Salman's approach to it is more nuanced than that of his predecessor King Abdullah, who died in January, and may include being more indulgent of allies who allow its members space to operate.

Last year Riyadh, along with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, withdrew its ambassador from Qatar over its links to the Brotherhood.

"The Saudis think maybe, if the Sunnis are on good terms, we can confront this. Salman is trying to consolidate the Sunni world and put differences over the Muslim Brotherhood on the back burner," said an Arab diplomat in the Gulf.

Riyadh's bigger concern is Shi'ite Iran. Its fears about the rising influence of its main regional enemy have grown recently as Tehran's Houthi allies seized swathes of Yemen and its commanders have aided Shi'ite militias fighting in Iraq.

Prospects are also growing of a deal between world powers and Iran on Tehran's disputed nuclear program, which might lift pressure on the Islamic republic. Saudi Arabia has watched nervously as its key ally, the United States, has reached out to pursue an agreement with Tehran.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reassured the Saudis on Thursday that he was seeking no "grand bargain" with Iran, but Riyadh's worries over Washington's long-term commitment to the region underpin its desire for more Arab unity.

Full report at:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/05/us-saudi-mideast-brotherhood-idUSKBN0M127N20150305

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A pornographic film ‘shot near Pyramids’ riles Egyptians

6 March 2015

A pornographic film reportedly shot next to the world-famous Pyramids in Egypt has left antiquities authorities red-faced and begs the question, did the Sphinx blush?

The porn video was allegedly shot by Russian tourists in the area and uploaded to the Internet some nine months ago, English subtitles and all.

In response to the video, Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh al-Demati Thursday said that the filming was illegally conducted by a woman. In the official statement, he added that the issue had been referred on to the public prosecutor.

The official also stated that new surveillance cameras are being installed in the area in an attempt to revamp the tourist site, after an Egyptian lawyer filed a legal complaint against the senior police chief’s office and accused them of facilitating the filming of pornographic material.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/variety/2015/03/06/Adult-movie-shot-near-Pyramids-leaves-Egypt-red-faced.html

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Al-Azhar Imam lashes out at West for creating ISIL

 Mar 5, 2015

The grand sheikh of al-Azhar has launched an unprecedented broadside against the West, accusing the US and its allies of creating the ISIL terrorist group, Press TV reports.

Ahmed al-Tayeb said in a statement on Wednesday that the West seeks to divide the Muslim world by creating ISIL.

The statement was published after a meeting between al- Tayeb and the Saudi minister for religious affairs, Saleh bin Abdul-Aziz Al ash-Sheikh.

Al-Tayeb's remarks come as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has called for the formation of a joint Arab defense force to fight the ISIL terrorists.

The proposal is widely expected to top the agenda of the upcoming summit of the Arab League later this month.

However, analysts say the call by the imam of al-Azhar could have little impact on the Egyptian government's decisions as the political role of the religious body has diminished over the years.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/03/05/400405/West-created-ISIL-to-divide-Muslims

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US-led alliance must wage anti-ISIL ground war: Riyadh

Mar 6, 2015

The Al Saud regime has called on its allies in the US-led coalition purportedly carrying out airstrikes on ISIL positions in Syria and Iraq to begin a ground war against the Takfiri terror group.

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal made the remarks at a news conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Riyadh on Thursday.

Faisal further said the kingdom “stresses the need to provide the military means needed to face this challenge on the ground.”

A number of Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates, along with the US and other Western states, have been carrying out airstrikes against what they call ISIL positions since last August.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/03/06/400486/Al-Saud-urges-ground-war-against-ISIL

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Islamic State fighters near Raqqa

March 6, 2015

The Islamic State's stronghold is in northern Syria

Most of these IS accounts were created in 2014, suggesting that the numbers are climbing very steeply, despite more than 1,000 IS-related accounts being shut down by Twitter in the final months of 2014.

Mr Berger's report put a maximum estimate of pro-IS accounts at 90,000 but concluded that the "best" estimate was 46,000.

Even that lower figure would put their reach into the millions, said Aaron Zelin, an expert on jihadist groups, and a fellow of the Washington Institute.

But it would also include multiple accounts held by any one individual, he warned, a practice aimed at combating account terminations.

The top Twitter feeds associated with Islamic State, he said, would disseminate the message of those at the top - the military operations, the organisation's activities and videos featuring everyday life under IS rule.

Below that, said Mr Zelin, you have people who are not directly connected to IS but who retweet its communications.

Full report at:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-31760126

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Islamic State militants torch oil field near Tikrit

March 6, 2015

BAGHDAD: Islamic State militants have set fire to oil wells northeast of the city of Tikrit, a witness said, to obstruct an assault by Shiite militia fighters and Iraqi soldiers trying to drive them from the Sunni city and surrounding towns.

The witness and a military source said Islamic State group ignited the fire at the Ajil oil field to shield themselves from attack by Iraqi military helicopters.

The offensive is the biggest Iraqi forces have yet mounted against IS, which has declared an Islamic caliphate on captured territory in Iraq and Syria and spread fear across the region by slaughtering Arab and Western hostages and killing or kidnapping members of religious minorities like Yazidis and Christians.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/middle-east/news/714256

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UNESCO condemns ISIS destruction of ancient Iraq city as ‘war crime’

6 March 2015

The head of UNESCO condemned on Friday the destruction of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud in Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, saying it amounted to a “war crime.”

“I condemn with the strongest force the destruction of the site at Nimrud,” Irina Bokova said in a statement.

She said she had already spoken with the heads of the U.N. Security Council and International Criminal Court on the issue.

“We cannot remain silent. The deliberate destruction of cultural heritage constitutes a war crime. I call on all political and religious leaders in the region to stand up and remind everyone that there is absolutely no political or religious justification for the destruction of humanity’s cultural heritage.”

ISIS “assaulted the historic city of Nimrud and bulldozed it with heavy vehicles,” Iraq’s government said on Thursday.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/06/UNESCO-condemns-ISIS-destruction-of-ancient-Iraq-city-as-war-crime-.html

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Blast kills top leaders of Qaeda branch in Syria

5 March 2015

Four leaders of al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, al-Nusra Front, including its general military commander Abu Humam al-Shami, have been killed in an explosion in the northwest province of Idlib on Thursday, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

Al-Shami is one of the most senior Nusra Front figures to be killed since it formed in 2012 and has fought in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, Reuters news agency reported, quoting sources said.

Reports said the explosion was caused by a coalition airstrike that hit a high-level Nusra Front meeting in Idlib, but the coalition has denied having conducted any airstrikes in the province in the past 24 hours.

The Nusra Front has fought Western-backed rebels this year, seizing their territory and forcing them to disarm so as to

consolidate its power in northern Syria.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/05/Four-Nusra-Front-commanders-killed-in-coalition-air-strike-in-Syria-s-Idlib.html

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Senior Nusra Front commander killed in Syria air strike

06 Mar 2015

An air strike by Syrian government forces has killed a senior commander of al-Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, the group and state media have said.

The SANA state news agency said Abu Hammam al-Shami, also known as al-Farouq al-Suri, was killed in a special army operation in Idlib province on Thursday.

Al-Shami, a veteran al-Qaeda leader from Damascus, held the title of general military commander for al-Nusra Front.

Last week, members of the armed group had said he had been killed in a US drone strike.

But on Thursday, it said Shami had been killed earlier that day when he was in a meeting with other senior al-Nusra commanders.

Thursday's air strike came a day after the group claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on the intelligence headquarters of Syria's air force in Aleppo.

Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from neighbouring Lebanon, said al-Shami was considered "the military brain behind" al-Nusra and that his death is a "huge blow" to the group.

Syria is fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and al-Nusra Front.

Our correspondent said al-Nusra has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and has defeated moderate anti-Syria groups in the north.

"There were some forces in the al-Nusra Front contemplating the possibility to sever ties with al-Qaeda, and this is why analysts are saying that this strike could have been part of an internal power struggle," she said.

She added that the strike "was a major security breach, which means that there was some sort of intelligence information provided for the strike to have been carried out".

Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said: "We cannot confirm press reports of the deaths of senior al-Nusra leaders near the province of Idlib."

Full report at:

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2015/03/syria-nusra-front-commander-killed-air-strike-150305230517103.html

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Iran promoting terrorism, taking over Iraq: KSA

6 March 2015

Iran’s belligerent policies, which are hampering all plans for restoring peace and security in the Middle East, came under fire during talks between US Secretary of State John Kerry and the foreign ministers of the GCC states on Thursday.

Kerry also called on Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and discussed key regional issues, including the Iranian nuclear negotiations.

Kerry’s talks with King Salman mainly focused on bilateral and regional issues, including an emerging nuclear deal with Iran, Syria and Iran’s role in Iraq.

On the Iranian nuclear negotiations, Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal categorically stated that Kerry had given full assurances that the US would continue to monitor Iran’s “destabilizing” actions and behavior.

Referring to the Iranian nuclear negotiations, Prince Saud said that the Kingdom extended support to the negotiations between Iran and P+5 bloc of countries. “But, the Kingdom also supports a strong international inspection to ensure that Iran is not seeking to manufacture or possess nuclear weapons,” said Prince Saud, while renewing his support for peaceful use of nuclear energy by Iran or any other country of the region.

He also reminded Kerry that the GCC leaders had voiced their concerns time and again about Tehran’s covert support to the Syrian regime. He accused Iran of meddling in the affairs of the Arab world, saying that “Tehran today promotes terrorism (and) it occupies lands ... these are not the features of a country that seeks to improve its relations with its neighbors.”

Prince Saud made these remarks, while addressing a joint press conference with Kerry at the Riyadh Airbase.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/featured/news/714291

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'Nearly 50,000' pro-Islamic State Twitter accounts

March 6, 2015

There are at least 46,000 Twitter accounts operating on behalf of Islamic State (IS), a new US study claims.

The actual number, identified in the final three months of 2014, is probably much higher, says the report, co-authored by the Brookings Institution.

It said typical IS supporters were located within the militants' territories in Iraq and Syria.

Three-quarters of them tweet in Arabic and about one-in-five use English. They have on average about 1,000 followers.

Islamic State has become well known for its use of social media, especially Twitter, to propagate its message.

The study, called The Isis Twitter Census, was written by JM Berger of Brookings and Jonathon Morgan, a technologist.

Jihadists will exploit any kind of technology that will work to their advantage, said Mr Berger, but IS is much more successful than other groups.

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RT’s special report on the Islamic State: Newly formed, newly armed, newly funded

March 6, 2015

The Islamic State (formerly ISIS) seems to have swept into Iraq and Syria out of nowhere, leaving death, destruction and fear in its wake. RT takes an in-depth look at where it came from, its financing and weaponry, and whether US involvement is needed.

“In the Middle East, one form of tyranny often replaces another,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday. “When secular despots are overthrown, chaos ensues and radical Islam grows stronger.”

It was after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 to overthrow Saddam Hussein, the country’s long-time dictator, that the story of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) began.

Islamic State’s roots

The US invaded Iraq in 2003 and removed Hussein from power. The war destroyed the country’s infrastructure, installed a government that was not responsive to its people especially minorities and jailed thousands of men America deemed to be radicals, said RT’s Ben Swann. Then US troops left the destabilized, weak country with a destroyed infrastructure and huge amounts of surplus American military gear.

ISIS formed as a small insurgent group in 2006 that tried to create problems for the US military, but it had no money or ability to recruit. Largely unsuccessful in Iraq, the group turned to neighboring Syria in 2009. When civil war erupted there in 2011, ISIS was able to gain a foothold.

Full report at:

http://rt.com/usa/238221-islamic-state-history-finances-arms/

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Violence uproots 28,000 Iraqis in Tikrit: UN

Mar 6, 2015

The United Nations says clashes between Iraqi army forces and ISIL Takfiri terrorists have forced some 28,000 people to leave the militant-held city of Tikrit in the Arab country’s troubled north.

The UN said in a statement on Thursday that the residents of Tikrit had fled to the city of Samarra in the northern Salahuddin Province.

“Military operations in and around Tikrit have precipitated displacement of an estimated 28,000 people to Samarra,” said the UN statement, adding that reports show “additional displacements are under way and that yet more families remain stuck at checkpoints.”

The newly displaced Iraqis join an estimated 2.5 million people already uprooted their homes in the violence-torn country.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/03/06/400506/28000-Iraqis-flee-Tikrit-violence-UN

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Africa

 

Suspected Boko Haram Militants Kill 68 in Nigerian Village

Mar 5, 2015

Suspected Boko Haram militants have attacked a village in north-eastern Nigeria, killing at least 68 people.

Reports said Thursday that the attack was carried out in Njaba village in Borno State.

The Takfiri militants targeted men and boys and then set the village on fire.

Fatima Abaka, a witness, was quoted by news website Sahara Reporters as saying, “I ran into the bush. Since then I [have] never seen my husband and three children.”

“[I] came back to our village in the afternoon, dead bodies were scattered everywhere,” she added.

Aminatu Mommodu, another witness, said several villagers had been shot or their throats had been slashed inside and outside of the village’s mosque.

Elderly men and children were among the victims of the attack, witnesses added.

Falmata Bisika, who escaped the attack, told reporters that “the terrorists were armed to the teeth.”

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/03/05/400457/Militants-kill-68-in-Nigerian-village

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Tunisian troops find large arms cache near Libya border

6 March 2015

Tunisian troops have captured a large arms cache near the border with Libya, including Kalashnikov rifles, rockets and landmines, the government said.

Tunisia is waging a campaign against hardline Islamist groups who emerged after a 2011 uprising against autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali that put the North African country on track to democracy.

“A large number of Kalashnikov assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, and explosives were seized in the southern city of Ben Guerdan,” Interior Ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui said. The raid was on Thursday night.

Tunisia is worried that violence will spill over from neighboring Libya, where the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has expanded, exploiting widespread turmoil as two rival governments battle for control.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/06/Tunisian-troops-find-large-arms-cache-near-Libya-border.html

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Libyan rivals hash out unity deal in Morocco

6 March 2015

Representatives of Libya's two rival parliaments on Thursday held U.N.-brokered talks in Morocco aimed at reaching an agreement on a national unity government and finding someone to head it, officials said.

The meeting took place in a "positive and constructive" spirit, UN special envoy Bernardino Leon, who has been trying to bring the two sides together for weeks and who chaired the talks, told a press conference. The discussions will continue Friday.

Libya has been wracked by conflict since the 2011 armed uprising against Moamer Kadhafi, with two governments and powerful militias battling for control of key cities and the North African country's oil riches.

The talks in Skhirat, near the Moroccan capital Rabat, come after delays caused by deadly jihadist attacks that prompted the internationally recognised government to pull out of discussions before returning.

The two sides are "fully aware" of the urgency of the situation, Leon said.

Libya's internationally recognised parliament is based in the eastern city of Tobruk while the rival Islamist-backed General National Congress is in the capital Tripoli.

The meeting was part of an attempt to "find an agreement between the different parties on a national personality to lead a national unity government," one participant told AFP.

The next step was to name "ministers who will represent the different parties," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A spokesman for Leon's mission to Libya, Samir Ghattas, told AFP the talks would also focus on security, aiming for a halt to fighting to ease efforts to form a unity government.

In a briefing ahead of the meetings, Leon told UN chief Ban Ki-moon the aim was to form a unity government and "address security arrangements to pave the way for a comprehensive ceasefire" as well as complete the constitution-drafting process.

The meeting comes as the internationally recognised government pushes for the lifting of an arms embargo to help it fight jihadists, amid growing alarm over the threat from the Islamic State group.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/06/Libyan-rivals-hash-out-unity-deal-in-Morocco.html

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500,000 displaced in Sudan’s Darfur in 2014: UN

Mar 5, 2015

The United Nations says the deadly conflict in Sudan’s highly volatile western region of Darfur resulted in the displacement of nearly half a million people last year.

According to the UN’s latest update on Darfur, which was released on Thursday, more than 450,000 people were forced to flee their homes in 2014, registering the highest number in a decade for crisis-hit Darfur.

The report also expressed deep regrets that UN observers have not been able to reach out to the people in the village of Tabit, where more than 220 women and girls were allegedly subjected to mass rape last year.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/03/05/400459/500k-displaced-in-Darfur-in-2014-UN

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Southeast Asia

 

No nod given to groups to convert locals to Islam, says Sabah religious authority

6 March 2015

The Sabah Islamic Affairs Department dismissed involvement in purported conversion attempts in the state, a local newspaper reported today.

According to a Daily Express report, assistant minister to the chief minister Datuk Mohd Arifin Mohd Arif said that the department did not give permission to any missionary group, including those from Peninsular Malaysia, to propagate Islamic teachings.

The denial comes in the wake of the latest controversy where a 16-year-old Christian student in Kinarut, Sabah was allegedly converted to Islam during the time she stayed at the school hostel, away from her family.

The girl, wearing a headscarf, had told her parents that she was now a Muslim and that she had recited the syahadah, which is the profession of faith in Islam.

PKR vice-president and Penampang MP Darell Leiking acting on behalf of the girl's rubber tapper father Jilius Yapoo, had written to the school last week asking for an explanation about what had transpired, and gave them seven days to reply.

He also asked the school to identify the person or persons involved in her conversion.

"The school did not reply at the end of the notice period, so we are now discussing the next course of action," Leiking told The Malaysian Insider today.

Last week, Leiking had told The Malaysian Insider that he believed that more such conversions were taking place covertly among students without their parents' knowledge, and also among adults in interior parts of the state.

"The government needs to step in and stop overzealous people from converting minors.

"And if they are adults, they must be made fully aware of the facts when asked to convert," he had said, adding that there have been cases of mass conversions taking place in the interior of Sabah.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/no-permission-given-to-groups-to-convert-locals-to-islam-says-sabah-religio

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Over 60% of Islamic funds held by Malaysia, Saudi Arabia

KUALA LUMPUR

March 6, 2015

Malaysia and Saudi Arabia together held 62% of global Islamic asset under management (AUM) which stood at US$73 billion (RM266.73 billion) in 2014.

In Malaysia, Islamic AUM registered a 24% annual growth in the last five years which reflected the growing preference for syariah-compliant investments among both retail and institutional investors.

Looking ahead, the development of Islamic wealth management industry globally is expected to catalyse further growth of Islamic fund management activities, according to the Securities Commission (SC) in its 2014 annual report released yesterday.

It said global private financial wealth was projected to increase from US$152 trillion in 2013 to US$198 trillion in 2018, an annual growth of 5.4% over the five years.

Full report at:

http://www.therakyatpost.com/business/2015/03/06/over-60-of-islamic-funds-held-by-malaysia-saudi-arabia/

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Muslim NGOs can’t enter Sabah as they like

March 6, 2015

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Islamic Affairs Department (Jheains), responding to pictures which have since gone viral in the social media, have denied that it’s in cahoots with Muslim NGOs from the peninsula purportedly converting poor villagers in the rural and interior regions of the state.

It’s learnt that the purported conversions took place last year but the pictures only surfaced recently on social media.

Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department, Mohd Arifin Mohd Arif, assured that his department has never given permission to any Muslim NGO from the peninsula to conduct conversion programmes in Sabah.

“There have been several claims about these NGOs in remote villages in Nabawan and Ranau,” he conceded. “According to these claims, the conversions were conducted in November and December last year.”

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2015/03/06/muslim-ngos-cant-enter-sabah-as-they-like/

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Isma slams weakling govt for not defending Islam

March 6, 2015

PETALING JAYA: “Remember! The Federal Constitution allows Muslims to propagate the Muslim faith to non-Muslims!”

This claim was made by the Deputy of Media ISMA Sdn Bhd, Razali bin Zakaria in an editorial dated March 4 published on www.ismaweb.net.

The article, entitled “Taktik mereka untuk halang dakwah Islam di Malaysia,” (Their tactics to prevent the spread of Islam) notoriously claims that non-Muslim non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including Christians and Buddhists, were obstructing the propagation of Islam in Malaysia by objecting to the distribution of translated copies of the al-Quran.

“Their complaints to the authorities via liberal media is designed to create obstacles and put fear in non-Muslims, and is intended primarily to stop the spread of Islam,” he wrote, claiming that such actions were unconstitutional.

He also took issue with the recent call by Senator Gan Ping Sieu for the authorities to also allow NGOs established by other faiths to be permitted to distribute their own holy books and religious material to Muslims for the purpose of education.

“Please do so! But remember, the distribution of material is only to non-Muslims, and not to Muslims,” he stated, citing the Constitution.

Claiming that the call amounted to an interference in the administration of Islam, he asked why they are increasingly brave to do so.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2015/03/06/isma-slams-weakling-govt-for-not-defending-islam/

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Muslims allowed to convert non-Muslims, Isma editor tells ‘infidels’

March 5, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 — Non-Muslims are trying to stop the spread of Islam among Malaysians by complaining about the distribution of free copies of the Quran, said a senior editor with Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia’s (Isma) media wing.

Media Isma Sdn Bhd’s Razali Zakaria reminded non-Muslims that the Federal Constitution allows Muslims to convert anybody, whereas non-Muslims may only spread their teachings among themselves and not to Muslims.

“We are baffled, why are they getting braver to interfere in the affairs of Islam? Is it because the current government is weak and unable to defend Islam?” asked Razali in an opinion piece published on Isma’s website.

“Or have the current laws failed to block infidels from interfering in Muslims’ affairs? Or is it because Muslims these days are weak from differing political ideologies?”

Razali alleged that non-Muslim NGOs and the media are trying to fan the flames of controversy until federal and state religious authorities are forced to ask Muslim NGOs to stop or study their programmes to distribute free copies of the Quran.

“If the programme is stopped, then they have succeeded in halting Islam and its preaching from being spread in the country,” Razali added.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/muslims-allowed-to-convert-non-muslims-isma-tells-infidels

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Muslim youth group accuses Shafee of ‘qazaf’, demands JAIS probe

 MARCH 5, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 — A Muslim youth group filed a complaint today with the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS), accusing Umno-linked lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah of committing “qazaf” or bearing false witness when he labelled Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim a “closet homosexual”.

According to a statement on Facebook, the National Association of Muslim Students in Malaysia (PKPIM) secretary-general Khairul Anuar Manap filed the “qazaf” report at the authority’s office in Shah Alam at 11am today.

The statement explained that the report was lodged in hopes of pushing JAIS to investigate the complaint against Shafee and to take appropriate action against the lawyer for the allegedly unsubstantiated allegation against Anwar.

“The fact that ‘qazaf’ can be committed so easily and overtly indicates that society does not understand this crime, and this is worrying.

“It is hoped that after this, the public would not be so careless in accusing others of sodomy or adultery,” the statement said.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/muslim-youth-group-accuses-shafee-of-qazaf-demands-jais-probe

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A year on, Malaysia and Australia remain confident MH370 will be found

March 6, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 — Malaysian and Australian authorities continue to hold on to the belief that Flight MH370 will be found, days before the first anniversary of the plane’s mysterious disappearance.

Malaysian Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said today that there is still a long way to go in completing the on-going search for the Malaysia Airlines jetliner in the southern Indian Ocean.

“But we remain committed to the families. My heart goes out to the families (of those) on board the aircraft and to those involved in this mammoth undertaking,” he was quoted as saying in Langkawi by local daily New Straits Times.

Hishammuddin, who was acting transport minister when the plane went missing in the pre-dawn hours of March 8 last year, insisted that the responsibility falls on the three countries leading the international search – Malaysia, Australia and China – to carry on looking and giving the families of those on board the plane hope “that we will find the plane”.

Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) director Peter Foley is also confident that the plane will be found, even after 40 per cent of the 60,000 sq km “priority zone” where the Boeing 777 is believed to have ended its journey yielded no clues as to its whereabouts.

Foley told Australian paper The Age that he has already laid out a “pre-packaged plan” to answer all the questions regarding the plane’s disappearance “when we find MH370 on the seafloor”.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/a-year-on-malaysia-and-australia-remain-confident-mh370-will-be-found

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North America

 

U.S. Authorities Struggle to Find a Pattern Among Aspiring Islamic State Members

March 5, 2015

Federal authorities investigating suspected Islamic State supporters in all 50 states have found no clear pattern to the type of American inspired to try to join the militant group, complicating efforts to thwart terror recruiting.

Some common threads exist, such as the fact that would-be recruits are often in their teens or early 20s and use social media to express support for Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. But overall, the group is broad, covering people who were raised Muslim and those who converted, married and single people, male and female, rich and poor, U.S.-born citizens and recent immigrants.

An estimated 180 Americans have traveled or attempted to travel to the civil war in Syria, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said this week. Not all of those, however, are believed to have joined extremist groups.

Full report at:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-authorities-struggle-to-find-a-pattern-among-aspiring-isis-members-1425586022

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Poll: 1 in 4 Americans say Islamic State represents true Islam

 March 6, 2015 7:00 am

USA Today

More than a quarter of Americans and nearly half of senior Protestant pastors say the Islamic State terrorist group offers a true representation of Islamic society, according to a pair of new surveys by LifeWay Research.

Forty-five percent of 1,000 senior Protestant pastors surveyed say the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, “gives a true indication of what an Islamic society looks like.” Forty-seven percent disagreed with the statement, according to LifeWay, a Nashville-based nonprofit Christian research group. LifeWay surveyed only clergy who identified themselves as the top pastoral officials in their organizations.

The pastors had a much darker view of Islam than Americans at large. In contrast, in the second survey, 27 percent of Americans say the Islamic State reflects the true nature of Islamic society.

“People are increasingly antagonistic, and religious leaders are particularly antagonistic towards Islam, and perhaps what people are seeing nightly on TV news is driving this,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research. “They think about it and say, ‘I see this every night. I don’t want this here.’”

Stetzer said LifeWay decided to probe Americans’ and pastors’ attitudes after President Barack Obama declared in September that “ISIL is not Islamic,” part of an effort to undercut the idea that the group represents the religion.

Full report at:

http://www.sharonherald.com/community/faith/poll-in-americans-say-islamic-state-represents-true-islam/article_a3603f61-50ec-5270-a8b1-9f563b346efc.html

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U.S. calls for U.N. action over Syrian deadly chlorine gas attacks

5 March 2015

The United States has called on the United Nations Security Council to take tough action against Syria - including possible military action - for its use of chemical weapons - especially chlorine gas.

A U.S. draft resolution - obtained by Al Arabiya News - also demands that Syria cooperate with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) fact-finding mission.

The document calls on the United Nations to condemn “in the strongest terms any use of any toxic chemical, such as chlorine, as a weapon” in Syria.

In February the OPCW Executive Council expressed “serious concern… with a high degree of confidence that chlorine has been used repeatedly and systematically as a weapon in the Syrian Arab Republic.”

Now the draft document reaffirms “that the use of chemical weapons constitutes a serious violation of international law” and calls for those responsible for using them to be held accountable.

Under the existing U.N. Security Council resolution 2118 Syria is banned from holding or using, and developing chemical weapons, as well as stockpiling them or transporting or supplying them to other states.

This latest move follows a report by the OPCW chemical watchdog in January that concluded “with a high degree of confidence” that chlorine gas had been used in attacks on three villages in Syria last year.

At least 13 people died in the attacks that were carried out from April to August, according to the report by the Hague-based OPCW.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/06/U-S-calls-for-U-N-action-over-Syrian-deadly-chlorine-gas-attacks.html

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Netanyahu’s Address to Congress: A Lesson on Courage

Mar 5, 2015

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed quite the hubris Tuesday. The fact that he was able to preach at the podium of a man whom he insulted to get there showed tremendous gall. The fear-mongering he engaged in, making nuclear war seem on the threshold, was fascinating. While Nancy Pelosi found these types of scare tactics “condescending” to our intelligence, it took confidence to talk to grown men and women in that manner and expect them to believe it. A man who encouraged the Iraq invasion and still has no hesitation in asking others to again listen to his alarm bells about weapons of mass destruction is an awe-inspiring individual.

Along with the scare tactics and the insults to the President, Netanyahu gave a speech full of exaggerations and no real substance. Apart from totally misrepresenting his “friend,” Secretary of State John Kerry, who made comments about the number of centrifuges Iran has, Netanyahu’s speech was fraught with numerous exaggerations. For example, he equated Iran with ISIS. Netanyahu is a politician and a salesman - he knows very well that it’s intellectually dishonest to equate a Shia theocracy with a terror group borne of ex-Baathists. Netanyahu accused Iran with a straight face of taking over territory in the Middle East while dismissing the irony of his support for settlements “gobbling up” Palestinian lands.

When it came to alternatives, Netanyahu was skimpy. Perhaps if one were to think not-so-long about it, one would find there actually was an alternative to a nuclear deal - Netanyahu’s implicit call for military action against Iran.

Full report at:

http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/netanyahus-address-to-congress-a-lesson-on-courage/0020376

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CAIR Seeks Motive in Shooting Death of Texas Muslim

March 6, 2015

ALLAS, March 5, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The North Texas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-DFW) today called on law enforcement authorities to address community concerns about what motivated the alleged killers of a 36-year-old Muslim who was shot Thursday while taking pictures of the snow.

A report on social media indicates that the victim, Ahmed Al-Jumaili, was with his wife - who wears an Islamic head scarf (hijab) - when the shots were fired at the couple. Police say witnesses saw two men heading in opposite directions walk by and then come back and shoot Al-Jumaili. A bias motive has not been ruled out.

Full report at:

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/cair-seeks-motive-in-shooting-death-of-texas-muslim-300046503.html

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Lies About Islam and Destroying America From Within

March 6, 2015

On February 18, President Barack Obama told an audience at a conference on “Countering Violent Extremism” that “Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding.”

Really?

The president continued: “Generations of Muslim immigrants came here and went to work as farmers and merchants and factory workers, helped to lay railroads and build up America.”

This is a lie. Islam was not woven into the fabric of the United States anywhere near its founding. The first mosque in America wasn’t even built until 1915—after the commencement of World War I, about 140 years after the nation was founded, 308 years after the colony at Jamestown was established.

Sure, there may have been some Muslims who traveled to America during those early years, but to suggest they had a major role in shaping America is a lie. Even today, only 0.6 percent of the population is Muslim.

In reality, the major contribution of Muslims to America has been profoundly negative.

Immediately after America gained its independence from Britain, the Barbary States, located in North Africa, attacked American shipping. Hundreds of American sailors were captured and sold into slavery by these Muslim nations beginning in 1784. In 1795, the U.S. government paid $1 million—one sixth of its entire budget—to ransom captured crews and ships.

That would be about $630 billion in today’s dollars.

When Thomas Jefferson went to negotiate with one of the Barbary States’ ambassadors, he asked why the Barbary States made war on nations that had done them no injury. Jefferson recorded the ambassador’s response (“Making of America,” Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 30):

It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise. He said, also, that the man who was the first to board a vessel had one slave over and above his share, and that when they sprang to the deck of an enemy’s ship, every sailor held a dagger in each hand and a third in his mouth; which usually struck such terror into the foe that they cried out for quarter at once.

Full report at:

http://www.thetrumpet.com/article/12478.2.0.0/world/terrorism/lies-about-islam-and-destroying-america-from-within

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The stigma of being Muslim in America

March 5, 2015

On Sunday, we heard from the imams of the Quba Islamic Institute, who explained how they arrived at the decision to forgive the man accused of setting fire to their gathering place. The fire occurred just days after three Muslim students, Deah Barakat 23, Yusor Abu-Salha 21, and Razan Abu-Salha, 19, were shot and killed in Chapel Hill, N.C., in an incident many charge was prompted by a hate for Muslims. One of the imams’ reflections involved their effort to step outside the narrative of hate and anger that shapes public perception of “those who are different.” In this post, Rice University Professor Ussama Makdisi’s analysis explains a history in this country that he believes makes hate crimes against Muslim- and Arab-Americans far more likely.

- The Chronicle Editorial Board

By Ussama Makdisi

The terrible murders in North Carolina of three young Americans—“Muslims” is how they are ubiquitously represented—are not simply a hate crime. They are a reminder of America’s long and deeply ambivalent history with Islam, Arabs, and the Middle East.

At the time of the establishment of the United States, Islam as a religion was generally an object of aversion in the Protestant Anglo-American world.  The Prophet Muhammad was routinely described as the “false” prophet.  Borrowing heavily from older English representations of Islam, many Americans associated Islam and the Ottoman empire with despotism.

Yet there was also a certain kind of curiosity about the Orient and the Arabs.  The Deist Thomas Jefferson read the Quran and had an apparently deep interest in Islam. Protestant missionaries who despised Islam, nevertheless wanted to “save” faraway Muslims as individuals, that is, to convert them. There was very little hatred or fear of Muslims or Arabs as individuals.

Indeed, after the First World War, an American writer by the name of Lowell Thomas helped to invent the myth of Lawrence of Arabia that also romanticized Bedouin Arabs. At the same time, thousands of Arab immigrants, the vast majority of whom were Christian, made new lives in America.  Although they were often derided as “oriental” in a racially stratified society, they were able to assimilate relatively easily.

It was only in the second half of the 20th century that Arabs began to be feared and loathed and suspected as individuals.  Why this was the case was not because of a new wave of Arab and Muslim immigration to America that began in the 1960s.  Rather, the stigmatization of Arabs and Muslims occurred principally because of politics in the Middle East and because of the enormously consequential U.S. role in the region.

Arab hijackings of American airliners in the 1960s and 1970s were directly a response to U.S. support for Israel.  The Iranian hostage drama was similarly a direct response to U.S. support for the Shah of Iran.  In both cases, Arabs and Iranians responded to the undeniably massive U.S. interference in Arab and Iranian societies.  Individual Americans were, in fact, scapegoated for the policies of their government.

Full report at:

http://blog.chron.com/chronopinion/2015/03/the-stigma-of-being-muslim-in-america/

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Mideast

 

Israeli papers react to Netanyahu speech with shrugs and cynicism

March 6, 2015

ISRAELI opposition figures and columnists have reacted to Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the US Congress with a combination of shrugs and cynicism.

Some suggested that it had more served his desire for re-election than stopping Iran’s nuclear programme.

In his fiery speech on Tuesday, Netanyahu urged Congress to resist an emerging deal to contain Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons.

Take a look: A provocative address

“The foremost sponsor of international terrorism could be weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons — and this with full international legitimacy,” he said.

“That’s why this deal is so bad: it doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb; it paves Iran’s path to the bomb.”

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1167612/israeli-papers-react-to-netanyahu-speech-with-shrugs-and-cynicism

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Iran Hints At 10-Year Partial Nuclear Freeze

6 March 2015

Iran's foreign minister on Thursday suggested that a 10-year moratorium on some aspects of the country's nuclear program might be acceptable to Tehran, though he declined to discuss the issue in detail.

U.S. President Barack Obama told Reuters on Monday that Iran must commit to a verifiable freeze of at least 10 years on sensitive nuclear activity for a landmark atomic deal to be reached between Tehran and six world powers.

CNN's Christiane Amanpour asked Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in an interview if Tehran was prepared to accept decade-long limits on a nuclear program it insists is peaceful.

“It depends on how you define it,” Zarif said. “If we have an agreement, we are prepared to accept certain limitations for a certain period of time but I'm not prepared to negotiate on the air.”

On Tuesday Zarif was quoted by Iranian media as saying that Obama's demand for a 10-year partial freeze was unacceptable.

Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held talks this week in Montreux, Switzerland with the aim of securing a political framework agreement by the end of March.

“There are a lot of details that need to be discussed. We have made some progress,” Zarif said. “We will have to work very, very hard for the next few weeks.”

Iran, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China have given themselves an end-June deadline to reach an agreement that curbs sensitive Iranian nuclear work in exchange for sanctions relief. The Western powers hope to have a political framework agreement by the end of March.

“We can in fact reach an agreement if there is the necessary political will to make the tough choices,” Zarif said.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/06/Iran-hints-might-be-open-to-10-year-partial-freeze-of-nuclear-work.html

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Turkish PM: U.N. had ‘no Plan A’ to end Syria war

6 March 2015

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Thursday took a swipe on the United Nations and the international community for not having a plan to end the worsening Syrian conflict.

Davutoglu told reporters after meeting Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that the U.N. plan to freeze fighting in Aleppo, which has failed to make headway, fell short of a comprehensive approach.

"Unfortunately, the international community did not have a Plan A until now -- forget plan B," the prime minister said.

"We heard some proposals but the U.N. Security Council and the international community did not have a clear strategy regarding the Syria crisis."

Davutoglu said Turkey "expects the international community to do more to resolve the Syria crisis because it is the source of all evils."

U.N. special envoy Staffan de Mistura proposed in October the plan to suspend fighting in Aleppo to allow humanitarian aid and lay the groundwork for broader peace talks.

Aleppo, which has been divided between government-controlled and rebel-held areas, has been rocked by heavy fighting over the past days, dimming hopes that the U.N. effort will yield results.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/06/Turkish-PM-U-N-had-no-Plan-A-to-end-Syria-war.html

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Palestinian leaders cut security coordination with Israel: PLO

 5 March 2015

Leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), led by President Mahmoud Abbas, decided on Thursday to stop all forms of security coordination with Israel, Palestinian officials said.

Three members of the Palestinian Central Council, the second highest Palestinian decision-making body, told Reuters the decision was taken during the two-day meeting that ended on Thursday. Decisions by the PLO are usually binding on the Palestinian Authority.

“The council decided to cease all forms of security coordination with Israel,” a PLO official told Reuters.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/05/Palestinian-leaders-cut-all-security-coordination-with-Israel-PLO-officials.html

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Good nuclear deal at hand: EU's Mogherini

Mar 6, 2015

The EU foreign policy chief says Iran and the P5+1 group of countries are close to reaching a “good deal” over Tehran’s nuclear program.

"I believe a good deal is at hand," said Federica Mogherini in the Latvian capital city of Riga on Friday, adding, "I also believe that there is not going to be any deal if it is not going to be a good deal."

The EU official also stated that the two sides’ political will, and not the technical issues, now defines the fate of negotiations.

Earlier in the day, Mogherini gave a positive assessment of the technical talks between the deputy foreign ministers of Iran and the six world powers in the Swiss city of Montreux on Thursday.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/03/06/400531/A-good-nuclear-deal-at-hand-EU

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Drills showed Iran's versatility against threats: Cmdr

Mar 6, 2015

Recent major maneuvers by the Iranian military showed that the Islamic Republic is versatile in using its military capabilities in the face of potential threats by the enemies, says a top Iranian commander.

“Through these drills we want to show the enemy that our hands are not tied up in the face of the enemy’s various options … we are completely versatile,” said Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the second-in-command of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) on Thursday.

The IRGC began a series of major war games code-named The Great Prophet 9 on February 25 in the Persian Gulf to the south of Iran and east of the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

Salami said the one of the main objectives behind the recent drills was to show off Iran's military might to the enemies.

“They always try to replace political negotiations with the rhetoric of a threat; we want our enemies to become familiar with our defensive capabilities and don’t make a mistake in their calculations,” he said. 

The high-ranking Iranian general further elaborated on the achievements of the Great Prophet 9 drills, saying that IRGC’s use of ballistic missiles to fire at a mock-up of a US aircraft carrier showed the extent of the Iran’s missile power.

On the second day of the maneuvers, a real-size model of a US aircraft carrier was struck with nearly 400 rounds of 107-millimeter missiles (shown below).

Salami said the US government has always used its huge aircraft carriers to put political leverage on other countries.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/03/06/400498/Iran-openhanded-against-enemies-

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Entire Israel within range of resistance groups: Iran Cmdr.

Mar 6, 2015

A top Iranian commander says the Israeli regime is an easy target for Palestinian resistance groups whose, missiles can reach the entire Israeli occupied territories.

“The entire territories of occupied Palestine are now within the range of Hezbollah and the people of Gaza, this means the downfall of Israel and the Zionist regime knows this,” said Commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari on Thursday.

The high-profile Iranian commander further elaborated on the popular nature of the resistance groups, which according to him, has successfully blocked the Israeli regime’s bids to cross into Palestine and Lebanon.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/03/06/400479/Resistance-can-target-entire-Israel

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Demo due in Jordan over Israel gas deal

Mar 6, 2015

Campaigners in Jordan have organized a rally to protest against the Arab country’s natural gas deal with the Israeli regime.

Jordanians will take to the streets in the capital city of Amman later on Friday to show their anger at Jordan’s deal to buy “stolen” Palestinian gas from Israel, said Hisham Bustani, the coordinator of the campaign.

“There will be other demonstrations in the Irbid, Zarqa, Karak, Madaba and Maan governorates at the same time as Friday’s march to protest the deal,” he stated, adding the notorious contract “will put the country under the control of the Zionist entity.”

Campaigners also slammed the Jordanian government for its policy on Israel, saying the deal betrays the Palestinian cause since it justifies the occupation of Palestinian territories by the Tel Aviv regime.

“The Jordanian people reject all the dubious deals with our enemy that aim to normalize relations. The [Jordanian] regime must reconcile itself with its people,” said Ali Abu Sukkar, deputy secretary-general of the Islamic Action Front, Jordan’s largest opposition party.

Back in September 2014, Jordan’s National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) and the US Noble Energy signed a letter of intent for the exportation of natural gas to the Arab country over a period of 15 years.

The agreement, if finalized, is set to come into effect in late 2017 and its value will amount to USD 15 billion.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/03/06/400495/Demo-in-Jordan-over-Israel-gas-deal

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Tajik opposition leader killed in Istanbul: Turkish media

Mar 6, 2015

Tajik opposition leader Umarali Kuvvatov has been shot dead by an unknown gunman on a street in the Turkish city of Istanbul, Turkish media report.

Turkey's Dogan news agency said on Friday that Kuvvatov, head of the "Group 24" opposition group who had been in exile in Turkey, was killed Thursday with a single gunshot to the head in Istanbul's Fatih district.

The assailant reportedly fled the scene, the news agency added.

Turkey and Tajikistan are yet to comment on the report.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/03/06/400525/Tajik-opposition-leader-slain-in-Turkey

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Europe

 

Canada’s role in Iraq could mirror Afghanistan, foreign minister says

Mar. 05 2015

Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson says Canada’s longer-term role in Iraq could mirror its assistance to Afghanistan as the Conservative government prepares for a possible extension to a combat mission that is due to expire next month.

Mr. Nicholson, who made a covert stop in Baghdad and Erbil earlier this week, said the government will determine in the coming weeks whether to continue Canada’s military contribution to the fight against Islamic State militants. The Conservative government has signalled its interest in extending the mission beyond its six-month mandate, but has not announced a decision to do so.

“Our mandate is until April 7, but we’ve indicated that Canada is not a country that stands on the sidelines, and we’re looking at ways that we have contributed and what is available for the future,” Mr. Nicholson said in a conference call from Jordan on Thursday. “As I say, I indicated that we’re in this for the longer term to make sure that we do what we can to help.”

Asked to explain what he meant by a longer-term commitment, Mr. Nicholson suggested Ottawa would take a similar approach in Iraq to the one it had in Afghanistan by continuing to provide assistance to the country over a longer period.

“Being in this for the long term – it’s similar to what we did in Afghanistan, for instance,” Mr. Nicholson said. “We were in Afghanistan, but we indicated that we would continue our assistance, and we have, in Afghanistan.”

The Canadian military mission to Afghanistan lasted 12 years, and Ottawa spent more than $2-billion on development assistance to the country during that time. Afghanistan remained among Canada’s top foreign-aid recipients after the mission ended.

Full report at:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/foreign-affairs-minister-nicholson-to-speak-about-secret-trip-to-iraq/article23305564/

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British lawmakers push for Gaza access

5 March 2015

British lawmakers are calling on the government to push Israel for access into Gaza at the Erez crossing in a bid to assess the situation and see how its funds are being spent.

The Israeli controlled crossing operates as a pedestrian and cargo terminal on the border with the northern end of the Gaza strip.

The last time a British MP delegation was granted access to Gaza by Israel was back in 2009.

Now politicians from both houses of Britain’s parliament have passed a motion for debate by MPs calling for the British Government to “do everything in its power to persuade the Israeli authorities to permit parliamentary access into Gaza to assess the situation, the needs of the population and how British funds are being spent.”

In a meeting held in Parliament on March 4, hosted by Caabu (which aims to raise awareness of conflict resolution in the Arab world) and Medical Aid for Palestinians, Gavin Shuker MP, Andy Love MP, Baroness Morris and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi all endorsed the vital need to visit Palestine especially Gaza.

Chris Doyle, Director of Caabu said: “As major donors to the humanitarian effort in Gaza and as key trade partners to Israel, MPs and MEPs for the European states have an obligation to their electorates, and the UK taxpayer more generally, to push for accountability and oversight of aid projects. This requires access to Gaza.”

On Feb. 25, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for MENA, Tobias Ellwood and Richard Burden MP called for Israel to allow Parliamentarians to access Gaza to enable an informed discussion to take place in the UK on Gaza and to allow UK Parliamentarians to review UK funded projects there.

Full report at:

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/05/British-lawmakers-push-for-Gaza-access-debate.html

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Italy urges Russia to help tackle Libya conflict

Mar 6, 2015

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has called on Russia to help tackle the crisis in Libya, saying Moscow could play a determining role in settling the ongoing conflict in the North African country.

During a Thursday meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow, Renzi emphasized the need for a “strong international response” to the chaos in Libya, adding, “I am confident that the Russian Federation may play a decisive role in resolving the problem.”

President Putin, for his part, welcomed UN-backed efforts to help end the Libyan turmoil, adding, “We had a detailed discussion of the terrorist threat coming from the Middle East and North Africa, particularly the sharp deterioration of the situation in direct proximity to Italy, in Libya.”

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.in/Detail/2015/03/06/400529/Italy-urges-Russia-help-in-Libya-crisis

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British, Canadian Muslims work to burnish image

by Mark A. Kellner

March 5 2015

The challenges of being a Muslim in Britain and Canada have been magnified in recent weeks with reports identifying a British-educated ISIS member as "Jihadi Johnny" and a Canadian mall allegedly being targeted for an al-Shabab attack.

Partly in response to these issues, and others, Muslims in the two countries have undertaken community outreach projects to burnish their image, media reports indicate.

In Canada, a mosque in Edmonton, Alberta, held an open house to share its faith with the public, GlobalNews reported. The goal, a community leader said, was to demonstrate a commitment to peace and not violence.

Mohyuddin Mirza, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Edmonton's outreach director, said, "We just want to promote the idea we are living in your community, come and see us, you won’t see any violence."

The mosque mailed invites to residents near its location, and one resident felt the experience was positive.

"I just think that they are our neighbors, and why shouldn’t we learn something about their culture," Carol Donahue, who has lived in the area for 31 years, told GlobalNews.

Ahmadiyya Muslims across Canada are opening their homes for a #MeetAMuslimFamily campaign during the first two weeks of March, CTV News reports from Vaughan City, Ontario, Canada.

Full report at:

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865623429/British-Canadian-Muslims-work-to-burnish-image.html

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South Asia

 

FBI team meets DB officials to probe Avijit Roy’s murder

Mar 06, 2015

Four officials of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) yesterday joined the local law enforcement agencies in the murder probe of writer Avijit Roy.

They held a lengthy meeting with a team of Detective Branch (DB) of Police at the DB's Mintoo Road office.

It could not be known how many of them actually flew in from the US and whether any of them was assigned to the US embassy in Dhaka.

The authorities concerned refused to divulge their names and designations.

“They wanted to know whether there are witnesses to the murder, photographs of the crime scene, and who are the suspects,” Joint Commissioner of DMP Monirul Islam told reporters after the meeting.

During the three-hour-long meeting, the detectives shared information they obtained so far.

The DB had sought the help of the FBI on forensic tests and their expertise in investigation, said another DB official.

“We are going to seek their help in detecting a person and an organisation using social media for crimes,” the official added.

Earlier, officials of the FBI and the Interpol visited the country to help local investigators probe the August 21 grenade attack, the attack on the former UK high commissioner Anwar Chowdhury, and the killing of former finance minister Shah AMS Kibria.

Unknown assailants hacked Avijit to death and seriously injured his wife Rafida Ahmed Bonya on Dhaka University campus on February 26.

Full report at:

http://www.thedailystar.net/backpage/fbi-team-meets-db-officials-67998

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Two more implicate Siraj in Bagerhat massacre

Mar 06, 2015

A prosecution witness yesterday said he saw Razakars kill 19 villagers in Bagerhat following the order of Sheikh Sirajul Haque alias Siraj Master during the Liberation War, while another testified that he saw the detained victims but later heard about their slaying.

Mir Abdur Razzaque, a freedom fighter from Depara village of Bagerhat sadar upazila and the 27th witness, said Siraj himself stabbed the detainees before ordering their deaths.

On Wednesday, the 25th witness said the war crimes accused killed his uncle by slitting his throat and his fellow Razakars hacked 18 others to death on June 18, 1971.

Razzaque told the International Crimes Tribunal-1 that he went to Kandapara Bazar on the morning of June 18, 1971 and hid himself inside a bush by the market around 10:00am when 15-20 Pakistani troops and 20-25 Razakars including Siraj arrived there.

Full report at:

http://www.thedailystar.net/city/two-more-implicate-siraj-in-bagerhat-massacre-68038

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Top Jamaat leader in new bid to halt execution

Mar 06, 2015

DHAKA: A leader of Bangladesh's largest religious party lodged an appeal Thursday in the Supreme Court against his death sentence for atrocities committed during the 1971 independence war.

Lawyers for Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, the third-highest ranked leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, filed the “review petition” with the Supreme Court, which in November last year had upheld the original sentence.

Read more: Top Bangladesh JI leader 'may hang next week'

If the country's apex court rejects the review, the 62-year-old's only chance of avoiding the gallows will then be if he is granted clemency by the country's president.

Legal experts say the Supreme Court has only overturned a death sentence on a handful of occasions as a result of a review petition, as such a move would be an admission of a serious legal error in the first place.

“In our application we have submitted 44 grounds for review of the judgement. We think there were serious discrepancies in the testimonies given by the prosecution witnesses,” defence lawyer Tajul Islam told AFP.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1167545/top-jamaat-leader-in-new-bid-to-halt-execution

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No end to violence in Bangladesh

Mar 06, 2015

Two petrol bomb attack victims die

Star Report

Two more arson attack victims died at the Intensive Care Units (ICU) of Rajshahi and Chittagong Medical College Hospitals yesterday, raising the death toll in the ongoing blockade to 83.

Mohammad Selim, 27, a truck helper, died at the Rajshahi Medical College Hospital a day after he had received the burn injuries.

He suffered burns to 50 percent of his body when a gang of 10-12 people intercepted the Shibganj-bound truck near Nimtala-Kanthal area, and hurled a petrol bomb at it around 11:10pm on Wednesday, police said.

Selim, who hailed from Chapainawabganj, was shifted to the ICU of the RMCH from Gomostapur Upazila Health Complex the same night. He died at the ICU around 5:30pm yesterday.

The driver of the potato-laden truck, Firoj Hossain, 35, and potato trader Saheb Ali also received burn injuries in the incident. They are undergoing treatment at the RMCH now.

Another victim Ranjit Nath, 30, a day labourer, was burnt when criminals hurled petrol bomb at the CNG-run auto-rickshaw he was travelling in on Wednesday night. He was returning to his home in Enayetpur of Hathhazari in Chittagong.

He suffered 82 percent of his body burnt in the attack, and had been on life support at the ICU of the CMCH. He lost the battle for his life last night.

Meanwhile, incidents of violence, arson attacks on vehicles and crude bomb explosions marked the fifth day of the countrywide hartal yesterday, enforced by the BNP-led 20-party alliance alongside its ongoing transport blockade.

At least four vehicles were torched in different districts across the country yesterday, fire service officials said.

Full report at:

http://www.thedailystar.net/backpage/no-end-to-violence-67997

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Taliban deny Afghan Shiite kidnap

6 March 2015

The Taliban said Friday they were not responsible for the abduction of 30 Shiite Muslims in southern Afghanistan last week, as rescue efforts restarted after a halt for bad weather.

Masked gunmen stopped two buses on the road to Kabul from the western city of Herat on February 24 and took 30 male passengers hostage, all of them members of the Hazara minority ethnic group.

No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction, but kidnappings for ransom by bandits and militias are common in Afghanistan.

The Taliban on Friday issued a statement distancing themselves from the incident.

"We consider it necessary to announce to our countrymen that this kidnapping is not linked to our mujahideen, and we are not involved in it," Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said in the email statement.

Full report at:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-2982616/Taliban-deny-Afghan-Shiite-kidnap.html

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/eid-e-gulabi--did-you-know-holi-has-a-rich-muslim-history-too?/d/101840

 

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