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Sat Aug 08 2020, 01:37 PM

Islamic World News ( 24 May 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Eid Mubarak: Wishes from PM Modi To President Kovind On Festival of Brotherhood And Harmony







• Passports Of 5 People Close to Tablighi Jamaat Chief Maulana Saad Seized: Report

• Pakistan Army Head Warns of Change in Kashmir Status

• Effect of Sunlight and Heat on Coronavirus Being Studied: Saudi Arabia Official

• Iran-Backed Leaders in Iraq Call for Terrorist Operations in Saudi Arabia: Statements

• Some Iranian Clerics Split with Khamenei Over End Of Ramadan, Eid In Iran

• For World's Largest Muslim Country, A Virus-Disrupted and Bittersweet Eid

• US Muslims Try to Balance Eid Rituals with Virus Concerns

• Putin Congratulates Russia’s Muslims On Eid ul-Fitr Holiday

• Sri Lankan Muslims Observe Quiet Eid At Home

• At Least Five Dead in Blast During Somalia Eid Festivities: Police

 

India

• Eid Mubarak: Wishes from PM Modi To President Kovind On Festival of Brotherhood And Harmony

• Passports Of 5 People Close to Tablighi Jamaat Chief Maulana Saad Seized: Report

• Covid-19 Hits Eid Celebrations Across India; Markets, Streets, Mosques Wear Deserted Look

• Muslims Offer Namaz InMalerkotla Gurdwara, Attend Roza Opening Party

• Top Muslim clerics ask people to celebrate Eid from homes, avoid handshakes, hugs

• Coronavirus, Fake News and Stereotypes: Why Muslims Want to Keep Eid Celebrations Low-Key

• Wakf Board Advises Muslims To Observe Social Distancing

• J&K: Encounter breaks out between terrorists and security forces in Kulgam

• Amid Pandemic, Indian Pilgrims Await Saudi Green Signal ForHaj Travel

• Encounter breaks out between terrorists and security forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kulgam

• India hails 3-day Taliban truce call in Afghanistan, hopes for peace

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Pakistan

• Pakistan Army Head Warns of Change in Kashmir Status

• 'Preliminary Report OfPIA Plane Crash Raises New Questions'

• 'We stand with the affected,' say leaders as Pakistan celebrates Eidul Fitr

• ‘Rise in Covid-19 cases partly due to efficient tracking system’

• ‘Covid-19 pandemic may lead to greater number of fistula cases’

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Arab World

• Effect of Sunlight and Heat on Coronavirus Being Studied: Saudi Arabia Official

• Egyptian Police Chase Man Who Tried To Lead Eid Prayers

• Tycoon Rami Makhlouf donates to own charity in ongoing spat with Syrian government

• Coronavirus: Abu Dhabi issues rules for hotel beaches, bars to reopen

• Coronavirus: More than half of UAE cases have recovered despite 781 new cases

• Protests, pandemic rob Iraqi students of graduation dreams

• Saudis find innovative ways to give eidiyas and gifts amid pandemic

• Modest Eid celebrations take place in Lebanon amid coronavirus restrictions

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Mideast

• Iran-Backed Leaders in Iraq Call for Terrorist Operations in Saudi Arabia: Statements

• Some Iranian Clerics Split with Khamenei Over End Of Ramadan, Eid In Iran

• Iranians Hold Eid al-Fitr Prayers with Health Protocols

• Rouhani: Divine Promise Comes True in Lebanon’s Victory over Zionists

• Rouhani Felicitates Muslim Leaders on Eid al-Fitr

• Tanker Arrival Deepens Iran-Venezuela Brotherhood, Friendship

• Official: Iran Backing WHO Program in Anti-Coronavirus Campaign

• Zarif Wishes Victory over Israel, End of Unfair Sanctions

• IRGC Commander: No Concern, Iran’s Defense at Highest Level

• Coronavirus: Outbreak continues in Iran with 2,180 new cases, 58 new deaths

• Crisis Management Chief: Observing Health Protocols Cause of Iran's Declining COVID-19 Infections

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Southeast Asia

• For World's Largest Muslim Country, A Virus-Disrupted and Bittersweet Eid

• 'A Sad Mood': Muslim Doctor in Malaysia Spends Eid In Hospital Amid Pandemic

• Israelis wish Indonesian Muslims a happy Idul Fitri as part of online campaign

• Coronavirus challenge looms as Muslims, Christians set to gather

• Philippine Muslim cadets share their experiences of military academy

• S'pore Mufti urges Muslims to adjust, adapt and be nimble

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North America

• US Muslims Try to Balance Eid Rituals with Virus Concerns

• Venezuela’s President Defends Right To ‘Freely Trade’ With Iran

• Ontario churches, mosques and synagogues open for drive-in worship this weekend amid COVID-19

• Thousands celebrate socially distant Eid with drive-thru gifts at Mississauga mosque

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Europe

• Putin Congratulates Russia’s Muslims On Eid ul-Fitr Holiday

• British-Muslim entrepreneur ‘felt so privileged’ after performing call to prayer in London’s Canary Wharf

• Greece dismisses reports Turkish troops occupied border strip

• How Ukraine’s Muslims celebrate Eid

• EU ambassador urges Eid cease-fire in Libya

• Cleared former Barclays head to give evidence in London Qatar trial

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South Asia

• Sri Lankan Muslims Observe Quiet Eid At Home

• Ghani responds to Taliban’s gesture of goodwill, vows to release 2000 prisoners

• Ghani’s Order To Afghan Forces After Declaration Of Ceasefire By Taliban

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Africa

• At Least Five Dead in Blast During Somalia Eid Festivities: Police

• Libya’s LNA captures 12 Syrian fighters in south of Tripoli: Statement

• Jordan launches platform for third repatriation phase

• African Muslims Celebrate Virtual Eid Under Lockdown

• Nigeria: Scores attend mass Eid prayers despite warning

• Ethiopia: No mass Eid prayers but festive spirit alive

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/eid-mubarak--wishes-from-pm-modi-to-president-kovind-on-festival-of-brotherhood-and-harmony/d/121940

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Eid Mubarak: Wishes from PM Modi to President Kovind on festival of brotherhood and harmony

May 25, 2020

President Ram Nath Kovid and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were among several leaders who extended their greeting on Eid-ul-Fitr as the festival is being celebrated across the country on Monday amid the lockdown to clamp the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

“Eid Mubarak! Greetings on Eid-ul-Fitr. May this special occasion further the spirit of compassion, brotherhood and harmony. May everyone be healthy and prosperous,” PM Modi tweeted.

The Prime Minister had last month thanked the leaders of the community for spreading awareness as the fasting month of Ramzan began, urging people to pray that “the world is freed of coronavirus before Eid”.

“When Ramzan was observed the last time, we never thought that there would be so many difficulties this time. Now that we are deep in crisis, we have an opportunity to observe the holy month with patience, sensitivity and selflessness. This time, we have to pray more than the last time so that the world is freed of coronavirus before Eid... so that we can celebrate with fervour just like before,” he said during his monthly Mann Ki Baat radio address.

President Kovind tweeted in English, Hindi and Urdu to extend his wishes to people celebrating the festival.

“Eid Mubarak! This festival is an expression of love, fraternity, peace & harmony. Eid reaffirms our belief in sharing with & caring for the vulnerable & needy. Let us carry the spirit of giving (Zakaat) on this Eid and follow social distancing norms to contain coronavirus spread,” President Kovind posted on Twitter.

Vice president M Venkaiah Naidu also posted his Eid message in three languages on Twitter and called for social distancing and celebrations at home.

“I hope that all of us will celebrate the festival by keeping alive the spirit of joy, compassion and mutual respect that underlies the pious occasion. May the noble ideals associated with #EidUlFitr usher in health, peace, prosperity and harmony in our lives. #HappyEid,” Naidu tweeted.

“The festival fortifies the spirit of compassion, charity and generosity in our society. As we are facing unprecedented challenge in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, I appeal to everyone to celebrate #Eid at home and follow safe distancing. #EidMubarak,” he said.

Union Minister of Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi offered prayers at his home and wished people on the occasion of Eid.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s tweeted also wished people on Eid.

आपसभीकोईदमुबारक! Eid Mubarak to each and every one of you. #HappyEid,” he tweeted.

Prominent Muslim clerics in Delhi and across the country have appealed to people to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr on Monday adhering to social distancing and lockdown norms.

Jama Masjid Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari appealed people to celebrate Eid with simplicity and help poor people and their neighbours during the pandemic crisis.

The shahi imam of Fatehpuri Masjid, Mufti Mukarram Ahmed, said the moon was sighted and Eid will be celebrated on Monday, marking the end of the holy month of Ramzan.

Eid-ul-Fitr was celebrated in Jammu and Kashmir and Kerala on Sunday after Muslim clerics made an official announcement about the moon sighting in the regions.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/eid-mubarak-wishes-from-pm-modi-to-president-kovind-on-festival-of-brotherhood-and-harmony/story-O7GSX5v9S8wFX3i7v9xgKJ.html

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Passports of 5 people close to Tablighi Jamaat chief Maulana Saad seized: Report

May 25, 2020

The Delhi Police’s crime branch has seized the passport and other documents of people close to Maulana Saad, the chief of Tablighi Markaz which emerged as the single biggest source of coronavirus disease in the national capital.

According to Hindustan Times’ Hindi language publication Hindustan, the crime branch has seized documents of five people who were key in running the operations of Jamaat’s markaz (centre). Since their passports have been seized, none of the five people can leave the country till investigation is complete.

Maulana Saad’s three sons and a nephew are being investigated by the crime branch. They form the core team at the markaz.

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had said on Sunday that India felt a “big jolt” with the sudden spike in cases following the Nizamuddin markaz incident. He asserted that the incident was a lesson for all communities that when a collective decision is taken by the country it must be followed with discipline.

A large congregation organised in March by the Tablighi Jamaat in the Nizamuddin area of the national capital had emerged as a major hotspot. Some of the participants, who were later tested positive for coronavirus, had travelled to their home states and other areas.

“It was an unfortunate incident and is a lesson for all sections and communities in the country that when a country takes a collective decision everyone should follow it with discipline as it is in everyone’s larger interest,” Vardhan said.

He hailed the lockdown imposition as a bold decision which acted as a “potent social vaccine” against the virus and said it was taken at the right time.

In an interaction with BJP spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao, Vardhan said that the state governments, the IT department, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Home Minister Amit Shah played an important role in managing the fallout of the Tablighi Jamaat incident.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/passports-of-5-people-close-to-tablighi-jamaat-chief-maulana-saad-seized-report/story-2E19XdZiMLcdj4daOoM1KM.html

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Pakistan Army Head Warns Of Change In Kashmir Status

KARACHI, Pakistan

May 25, 2020

Pakistan's army on Sunday warned that any attempt to challenge the disputed status of Indian-administered Kashmir, including any move towards aggression, will be answered with full military might.

"Kashmir is a disputed territory and any attempt to challenge the disputed status including any political cum military thought related to aggression will be responded with full national resolve and military might," army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa said while addressing troops stationed along the Line of Control (LoC) - a de facto border that divides the disputed Himalayan valley between the two nuclear rivals.

"Disturbing the strategic stability matrix in South Asia can lead to dire consequences," he cautioned, referring to New Delhi's scrapping of the disputed region's decades-long special status last August.

Bajwa, who spent Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, with frontline soldiers at the Kashmir border, lauded their "professionalism, operational preparedness, and befitting response" to alleged violations of a 2003 ceasefire agreement by Indian border force.

"Pakistan Army is observing Eid solemnly in solidarity with Kashmiris under Indian occupation particularly since the Aug. 5 illegal, inhuman lockdown, and ensuing atrocities," he went on to say, according to a statement from the army.

India, he added, is trying to shift global attention away from "worsening humanitarian crisis and violence" in Kashmir to the Line of Control by "targeting innocent civilians."

"Pakistan Army is fully alive to the threat spectrum, and will remain ever ready to perform its part in line with national aspirations," he said.

He said he hoped the international community would weigh in to ensure freedom of movement for UN observers inside Indian-administered Kashmir, as ensured by Pakistan in its controlled part of the valley, "so that the tragic consequences of ongoing atrocities and inhuman clampdown inside occupied territory is reported to the United Nations Security Council and the world at large."

"Indian occupying forces can never suppress the valiant spirit of Kashmiris who rightfully await plebiscite under UN resolution. Regardless of ordeal, their struggle is destined to succeed, InshaAllah [God willing]," he concluded.

Disputed region

Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan in parts but claimed by both in full. A small sliver of the region is also controlled by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965 and 1971 – two of them over Kashmir.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have been killed and tortured in the conflict in the region since 1989.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/pakistan-army-head-warns-of-change-in-kashmir-status/1852527

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Effect of sunlight and heat on coronavirus being studied: Saudi Arabia official

24 May 2020

The effect of sunlight, heat and the weather on the coronavirus is being studied, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health Spokesperson Dr. Mohammed al-Abulaali said on Sunday.

A reporter during the COVID-19 daily updates press conference asked: “Does exposure to sunlight help a coronavirus-infected person overcome the disease? And does it help prevent infection in healthy people?”

Visit our dedicated coronavirus site here for all the latest updates.

The spokesman replied: “To this day, the direct effect of hot weather on the coronavirus and whether it reduces its activity, incubation period and spread remains an area of study and there are no definite conclusions yet.”

“Very high temperatures which can be used in sterilizing tools has its benefits. But a human’s exposure to the sun’s heat can be harmful. Therefore, not every opinion or rumor should be followed.”

There has been a lot of debate on the effect of high temperatures and hot weather on the coronavirus in the scientific community.

Researchers in France found that the coronavirus can survive exposure to high temperatures for prolonged periods of time, but that COVID-19 was deactivated when heated at a temperature of 92 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes.

A study by the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine said in April: “Although experimental studies show a relationship between higher temperatures and humidity levels, and reduced survival of SARS-CoV-2 in the laboratory, there are many other factors besides environmental temperature, humidity, and survival of the virus outside of the host, that influence and determine transmission rates among humans in the ‘real world’.”

Another study by scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, demonstrated that COVID-19 data showed a “lower growth rate” in countries with warmer humid climates and said: “Based on the current data on the spread of 2019-nCoV, we hypothesize that the lower number of cases in tropical countries might be due to warm-humid conditions, under which the spread of the virus might be slower as has been observed for other viruses.”

However, they added: “Our results in no way suggest that 2019-nCoV would not spread in warm humid regions and effective public health interventions should be implemented across the world to slow down the transmission of 2019-nCoV.”

US infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, had said back in March that lower COVID-19 transmission rates maybe witnessed during the summer weather, but “you don’t want to count on it.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/coronavirus/2020/05/25/Effect-of-sunlight-and-heat-on-coronavirus-being-studied-Saudi-Arabia-official.html

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Iran-backed leaders in Iraq call for terrorist operations in Saudi Arabia: Statements

24 May 2020

Two Iran-backed Iraqi militias have called for terrorist attacks to be launched against Saudi Arabia.

Spokesmen for the Iran-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah and al-Nujaba Movement, which both fall under the wider umbrella of the mainly Shia Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) militias, issued statements on Saturday which called for “Jihadi operations” in Saudi Arabia.

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“You won’t be safe from the cells of the treachery and the hypocrisy of ‘the rest of the malicious tree’ unless Jihadi operations are transferred to Saudi Arabia,” said the Kata’ib Hezbollah spokesman Abu Ali al-Askari in a Telegram message.

Katai’b Hezbollah is a US-designated terrorist organization suspected of previous attacks against Saudi Arabian oil pipelines in 2019. The spokesman highlighted these attacks against Saudi Aramco facilities in the Kingdom as evidence that terrorist organizations are capable of “moving the battle” into the country.

The organization has recently engaged in deadly clashes with US forces in Iraq. According to reports, the US Depart of Defense has reportedly prepared its military commanders to destroy the organization.

Meanwhile, Nasr al-Shammari, the spokesman for al-Nujaba Movement, said that 1,000 Saudi Arabian fighters had entered Iraq in the past year. Al-Shammari claimed these fighters are responsible for killing Iraqis and demolishing their homes.

“Think about it, dear Iraqis, this is why we will retaliate for every innocent blood drop that was shed,” he said in his statement.

The al-Nujaba Movement, known as Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba in Arabic, was dedicated as a terrorist organization by the US in 2019. It runs the Al Nujaba TV station in Iraq.

Statements amid Iraqi official visit

Both spokesmen issued their statements on the same day Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Ali Allawi paid a visit to the Kingdom.

Allawi and his delegation met with several ministers to discuss common topics including oil, economy and relations between the two countries.

Saudi Arabia’s Vice Minister of Defense Khalid bin Salman issued a message of support on Twitter to neighboring country Iraq following Allawi’s visit.

“We hope Iraq will return to be an Arab pillar, rising strongly, and for the people to live a life they deserve in peace and wellness,” he said. “The Kingdom stands with Iraq to support it in the path of progress, peace and brotherhood with its Arab neighbors.”

Saudi Arabia also decided to send its Ambassador back to Baghdad, which a first step in a decision to reconcile relationships between the two countries.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2020/05/24/Iran-backed-leaders-in-Iraq-call-for-terrorist-operations-in-Saudi-Arabia-Statements.html

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Some Iranian clerics split with Khamenei over end of Ramadan, Eid in Iran

24 May 2020

Shia Iranians in a rare event will mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan this year on separate days -- Sunday or Monday -- depending on different religious authorities’ edicts.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei announced Saturday evening on his official website that the Eid al-Fitr festival will fall on Sunday this year.

But the country’s other senior Shia clerics, or “marjas” -- whose guidance believers follow and are seen as a “source of emulation,” such as Javadi Amoli, Makarem Shirazi and Safi Golpayegani, among others -- have issued separate statements saying the holiday will be celebrated on Monday.

The timing of Eid is determined by the position of the moon, in accordance with the Muslim lunar calendar.

In practice, due to the political system of the Islamic republic, almost all open religious sites -- affiliated with the state -- will mark Eid on Sunday.

Shia Islam is the state religion in Iran. The Sunni minority in the country celebrates Eid on Sunday, in line with most of the Muslim world.

In the capital Tehran, where many mosques remain closed as part of measures to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, worshippers took part in morning prayers while trying to respect social distancing rules, according to AFP journalists.

Collective prayers are still banned in principal in the city due to the pandemic, but special dispensation has been granted for Eid al-Fitr, one of the most important holidays on the Muslim calendar.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/05/24/Some-Iranian-clerics-split-with-Khamenei-over-end-of-Ramadan-Eid-in-Iran.html

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For world's largest Muslim country, a virus-disrupted and bittersweet Eid

May 24, 2020

JAKARTA: For Indonesia’s 225 million Muslims, celebrating Eid al-Fitr this year, the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, is bittersweet.

Many are forced to spend it away from their families due to travel restrictions imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19. Hundreds of mosques across Indonesia, however, are still hosting prayers, albeit while asking participants to wear masks and attempt social distancing.

Eid is traditionally a raucous three-day celebration in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, marked by large family festivities, the exchange of gifts and mass prayers.

But Indonesia has struggled to stem its coronavirus outbreak, with more than 21,000 cases. On Saturday, its reported death toll had reached 1,351, the highest in East Asia outside China.

Indonesia’s biggest Islamic group, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), issued a fatwa this week urging Muslims to pray at home, rather than congregate in mosques.

Dicky Adam Sideq chose to spend Eid in the capital Jakarta, where cases have been concentrated, rather than risk travelling 150km home to Bandung, in neighbouring West Java province.

“What if I’m an asymptomatic carrier and infect others?” the 25-year-old photo editor told Reuters, after video calling his family, who he has not seen for the last four months. “I will wait until the situation is better before going home.”

Sideq and 18 others at his boarding house decided to do morning prayers together and cook the feast they would usual eat with their families.

“The most important thing is the Eid prayer. Thankfully, we can still pray together,” he said.

Thousands of Indonesians are still congregating at mosques for prayers, despite the risks.

Novita Sari, 37, told Reuters she went to her mosque in Klaten, in Central Java, after her village chief insisted the community attend prayers because no one had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Participants were asked to wear masks and bring prayer mats from home. The mosque checked temperatures, and the elderly and young children are not allowed to attend.

“It’s okay to be worried about Covid, but we should not be paranoid,” she said. “We also need to balance our obligations to this world and to the afterlife.”

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2228444/3-worlds-largest-muslim-country-virus-disrupted-bittersweet-eid/

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US Muslims try to balance Eid rituals with virus concerns

May 24, 2020

With no congregational prayers or family gatherings, Salsabiel Mujovic has been worried that this year’s Eid Al-Fitr celebration will pale. Still, she’s determined to bring home holiday cheer amid the coronavirus gloom.

Her family can’t go to the mosque, but the 29-year-old New Jersey resident bought new outfits for herself and her daughters. They are praying at home and having a family photo session. The kids are decorating cookies in a virtual gathering, and popping balloons with money or candy inside — a twist on a tradition of giving children cash gifts for the occasion.

“We’re used to, just like, easily going and seeing family, but now it’s just like there’s so much fear and anxiety,” she said. “Growing up, I always loved Eid. ... It’s like a Christmas for a Muslim.”

Like Mujovic, many Muslims in America are navigating balancing religious and social rituals with concerns over the virus as they look for ways to capture the Eid spirit this weekend.

Eid Al-Fitr — the feast of breaking the fast — marks the end of Ramadan, when Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. Just like they did during Ramadan, many are resorting to at-home worship and relying on technology for online gatherings, sermons and, now, Eid entertainment.

This year, some Muslim-majority countries have tightened restrictions for the holiday which traditionally means family visits, group outings and worshippers flooding mosques or filling public spaces.

The Eid prayer normally attracts particularly large crowds. The Fiqh Council of North America, a body of Islamic scholars, encouraged Muslims to perform the Eid prayer at home.

“We don’t want to have gatherings and congregations,” Sheikh Yasir Qadhi, who prepared the council’s fatwa, or religious edict, said in an interview. “We should try to keep the spirit of Eid alive, even if it’s just in our houses, even if we just decorate our houses and wear our finest for each other.”

Qadhi, resident scholar at East Plano Islamic Center in Texas, has been “dreading” delivering an Eid sermon broadcast online with no worshippers.

“It’s going to be very strange to dress up in my Eid clothes and to walk to an empty place and to deliver a sermon to an empty facility,” he said before the start of the holiday. “It’s going to be very, very disheartening.”

But, he said, it’s the wise decision.

Even as restrictions have eased, the mosque is still closed to worshippers, he said. Like a few others, it is holding a drive-by Eid ceremony to safely distribute thousands of bags of sweets and goodies to children in cars.

While some are eager for mosques to re-open, Qadhi said, “We don’t want to be a conduit for the situation exacerbating. We need to think rationally and not emotionally.”

The North Texas Imams Council, of which he is a member, has recommended mosques remain closed. He said he expected the majority of mosques to stay closed to the public, though he worries about smaller mosques re-opening.

In Florida, the Islamic Center of Osceola County, Masjid Taqwa is holding the Eid prayer outdoors in the parking lot with social distancing rules in place.

Guidelines posted online include worshippers bringing their own prayer rugs, wearing mandatory masks and praying next to their cars while staying at least six feet apart. Participants are told not to hug or shake hands and to listen to the sermon from their cars.

“Eid is important but more important is the health of the people,” said Maulana Abdulrahman Patel, the imam. “We’ve been taking a lot of precautions,” and not acting on “sentiments or emotional feelings,” he said, adding they have been consulting with health and other officials.

Major Jacob Ruiz, the major of administration at Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, said he and the sheriff met with Patel before the celebration.

“They wanted to have something and they felt it was important but they wanted to do it with pretty much the blessing and the guidance of the sheriff’s office and the sheriff,” he said. “Everybody was in agreement that it’s going to be something that’s gonna be successful for them.”

The Muslim community in the county “has been very receptive and proactive in ensuring that they keep safety guidelines,” he said.

The Masjid Taqwa prayer is for men only, the mosque said, citing “constraints.” Plans for men-only prayers announced by at least one other mosque prompted objections by some about excluding women. For Masjid Taqwa, the decision to include just men was taken because having families together would make crowd control more difficult, Patel said.

In Michigan, the Michigan Muslim Community Council is organizing a televised Eid ceremony. It will include the Eid sermon, greetings from local elected officials and members of Muslim communities. “People will be at home seeing each other instead of gathering in large numbers,” said council chairman Mahmoud Al-Hadidi.

“It’s just to keep people connected,” he said, adding that “we’re trying to avoid any spread of the coronavirus.”

Normally, Eid is an all-day celebration with large gatherings over meals and a carnival for kids, he said. “Eid is a huge thing here.”

Back in New Jersey on the holiday’s eve, Mujovic and two of her daughters joined friends and others online to decorate cookies. Squeezing icing out and spreading it on cookies shaped like Ramadan lanterns or spelling out the word “EID,” the girls stopped to lick their fingers or munch on the treats.

As children waved, squealed and showed off their creations, it started to feel like Eid for Mujovic. “It was nice seeing happy faces,” she said.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1679396/world

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Putin Congratulates Russia’s Muslims On Eid ul-Fitr Holiday

24 MAY 2020

MOSCOW, May 24. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated the Muslims in Russia on Eid al-Fitr, a major religious holiday marking the end of the month of fasting Ramadan, the Kremlin press service said on Sunday.

"Marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, the celebration of the breaking the fast has a special spiritual meaning, the joy of gaining a new invaluable experience of moral purification and self-perfection. Over the centuries, it has become a custom to celebrate it not only with fervent prayer, but also with paying attention to those who need help and care," the Russian leader said in his message.

The president noted that Russia’s Muslims treat historic, cultural and religious traditions of their fathers and grandfathers with deep respect and teach the growing generation to observe them.

"The Muslim community of Russia actively participates in the country’s life, makes an invaluable contribution to maintaining international peace and civil harmony in the society, strengthening the institution of the family and educating the youth. And certainly, today, in the face of the spread of a dangerous disease, a responsible humanitarian and charity mission of the Muslim clergy, religious organizations and all Muslims of the country is in high demand and serves to preserve people’s lives and health," Putin stressed.

https://tass.com/society/1159737

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Sri Lankan Muslims observe quiet Eid at home

MOHAMMED RASOOLDEEN

May 25, 2020

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan Muslims are staying at home during this year’s Eid Al-Fitr as the island country enforced a nation-wide curfew on Sunday and Monday to prevent mass gatherings and the spread of the coronavirus.

All-Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) President Sheikh Rizwe Mohammed told Arab News on Sunday that the Muslim community had followed the government’s guidelines and avoided group meetings and congregational prayers.

“We are happy that the Muslims enjoyed the company of their kith and kin at home, holding prayers at their own homes,” he said. He added that although the community had been badly affected by job losses during the two-month lockdown to control the coronavirus, the focus of the nation was to stand together and stop the disease. 

To express their support for the government and solidarity with law enforcers, Muslims in Colombo’s Aluthkade area decorated their police station on the eve of Eid.

Director of the Department of Muslim Religious and Cultural Affairs M.B.M. Ashraff told Arab News that he had instructed imams not to hold congregational prayers. At each mosque, only the imam and muezzin were allowed to be inside to announce the call for Eid prayers through loudspeakers.

Muslims were also advised to avoid their traditional Eid visits to graveyards and avoid all types of public gatherings, including the distribution of alms, Ashraff said. They were requested to conduct all charity activities in coordination with police and local medical officers.

The stricter controls on charity follow a deadly incident in Colombo’s densely populated Maligawatte suburb on Thursday, when private donations were distributed to the poor in the Muslim-dominated area and three women died in the resulting stampede.

N.M. Ameen, president of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, told Arab News that no disturbances had so far been observed during this year’s Eid.

Ameen said that Muslims had been asked to avoid Eid shopping. “Instead, opt for online purchasing and home delivery, which is more convenient and also safer in the current context,” he said.

Although the plea was generally followed, some middle-class Muslim women in parts of Colombo were seen shopping in the Pettah area, where a number of shops remained open.

One of them, Noor Jezima, justified her decision by saying that she needed to buy clothes and gifts to reward her children for obediently fasting during the month of Ramadan. “As parents, we have to encourage our children to do good deeds with some incentives,” she said.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1679596/world

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At least five dead in blast during Somalia Eid festivities: Police

24 May 2020

At least five people were killed and more than 20 injured Sunday in Somalia in a blast during festivities to mark the Eid al-Fitr festival.

“The initial information we have received indicates the dead bodies of five people were collected from the scene of the blast and more than twenty others have been wounded” police officer Mohamed Muktar told AFP by phone from Baidoa, about 250 kilometers (150 miles) west of the capital Mogadishu.

The Muslim world is celebrating the Eid al-Fitr festival which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/05/24/At-least-five-dead-in-blast-during-Somalia-Eid-festivities-Police.html

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India

 

Covid-19 Hits Eid Celebrations Across India; Markets, Streets, Mosques Wear Deserted Look

May 25, 2020, 11:39AM ISTSource: Times Now

Under the shadow of the Covid-19, people across India marked Eid al-Fitr, but the usual fervour and celebrations were missing. Although the lockdown was partially eased to allow shopping and short travel, people remained indoors and avoided customary meetings with family, friends and relatives to maintain physical distance and check crowding at public places. Relevantly, prayer gatherings, outdoor celebrations and other public events were curtailed to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/videos/news/covid-19-hits-eid-celebrations-across-india-markets-streets-mosques-wear-deserted-look/videoshow/75966313.cms

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Muslims Offer Namaz In Malerkotla Gurdwara, Attend Roza Opening Party

May 25, 2020

Setting another example of communal harmony, namaz and gurbani path were performed simultaneously in Gurdwara ‘Sahib Haa Da Naara’ (Regd) at Muslim majority town of Malerkotla of the district.

Members of gurdwara management committee, Namdhari Mission, Sanatan Dharm community and police officers jointly organised a party for the members of Muslim community on the opening of 29 Roza (fast) last night, but by taking care of social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“The gurbani path was going on in main hall while namaz was offered in another hall of gurdwara by our Muslim brothers. The main purpose of organising the party was to reconfirm that we all are united,” said Narinderpal Singh, Head Granthi of Gurdwara Sahib.

Members of Muslim community said visiting the historic gurdwara was not a new thing for them as they had been coming to this gurdwara since their birth.

“Every time whenever pass this gurdwara, we bow our head because our religion has been teaching us to respect all religions,” said a local member of Muslim community after offering namaz in gurdwara.

It is not first time that local gurdwara has taken steps to strengthen their ties with local Muslims, but after the lockdown in March, the gurdwara management committee had started serving langar to a local Madrassa, where students of others states were stuck.

Apart from serving langar to Madrassa students, gurdwara management committee had also served langar to around 1,000 other needy and poor residents of city during lockdown.

“We have defeated corona in Punjab because we have the blessings of all religions. Last night’s party was another example of brotherhood,” said Manjit Singh Brar, SP Malerkotla.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/muslims-offer-namaz-in-malerkotla-gurdwara-attend-roza-opening-party-89415

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Top Muslim clerics ask people to celebrate Eid from homes, avoid handshakes, hugs

May 25, 2020

Eid-ul-Fitr on Monday will be celebrated amid the nationwide lockdown, and, to make sure people follow the protocols, top Sunni cleric Khalid Rashid Farangi Mehli has urged Muslims to stay at their homes, avoid handshakes or hugs and donate half of their festival budget to the needy.

Speaking to India Today TV, Mehli said it will be for the first time in the history that no religious congregation will take place on Eid.

"During the month of Ramzan, people belonging to the Muslim community offered prayers at homes due to the lockdown and it will be for the first time in the history that no religious congregation will happen on Eid. People will not be visiting mosques to offer prayers and there will not be any celebration," Mehli said.

" I would urge the people to celebrated Eid in their homes with family and offer prayers indoors. People must donate 50 per cent of their Eid budget to the poor who are facing an unprecedented crisis due to the lockdown in wake of the coronavirus outbreak. People should avoid buying new clothes and wear the best ones they already have. We all must refrain from hugs and handshakes on Eid this time as a safety measure" Mehli said.

He has asked the people to celebrate Eid by preparing 'sewai', a traditional sweet dish.

Expressing dissatisfaction over meat shops not being allowed to open in Lucknow, the Sunni cleric said "If other shops can be given permission, then, meat shops should also be allowed to open. A large population consumes meat and it is also a source of employment for many."

Meanwhile, prominent Muslim clerics in Delhi also appealed to people to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr on Monday, adhering to social distancing and lockdown norms in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

Shahi Imam of Fatehpuri Masjid Mufti Mukarram Ahmed said the moon was sighted and Eid will be celebrated on Monday, marking end of the holy month of Ramzan.

Jama Masjid Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari appealed people to celebrate Eid with simplicity and help poor people and their neighbours during the pandemic crisis.

"Due to the coronavirus Eid Namaz can not be held as per tradition but people need to realise that the virus can be defeated only by taking precautions," he said.

The mosques in the city have been closed down due to the pandemic and the clerics have urged people to offer Eid Namaz at their home.

"The Eid Namaz will be offered at Fatehpuri Masjid by me and staff of the mosque. We have asked people to offer Eid Namaz and also avoid hugging others and shaking hands," the Shahi Imam of Fatehpuri Masjid said.

He said people should pray the almighty to free the country and the world from the scourge of the virus.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/indian-muslim-clerics-asks-people-celebrate-eid-from-homes-avoid-handshakes-hugs-1681482-2020-05-25

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Coronavirus, Fake News And Stereotypes: Why Muslims Want To Keep Eid Celebrations Low-Key

MAY 24, 2020

New Delhi: “Avoid going out for prayers and gatherings,” 46-year- old Saira* from Farukhabad has been telling her relatives ever since the lockdown was imposed across the country in view of coronavirus spread. Over the last few weeks, she has been requesting her family and friends to avoid going out for Eid shopping. Keep the celebrations as simple as possible, she tells them. It's not just Coronavirus that Saira fears. It's fake news and a lived reality.

The outbreak of Covid-19 in India has presented yet another opportunity to launch a fresh attack on the Muslim community with the news that people who had attended a large gathering of Tablighi Jamaat, a Muslim missionary movement, in New Delhi had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The Sunni Islamic missionary movement group came into limelight in April after over 3,000 members, including foreign nationals, had gathered at Markaz Hazrat Nizamuddin for a congregation in March. Hundreds of the Tablighi Jamaat members later tested positive for coronavirus. This incident triggered a wave of disdain against the Muslims who were dubbed as ‘super-spreaders’ of the virus. Fake news saying the Tablighi Jamaat members were misbehaving with the staff at quarantine facilities or that they were spitting on fruits to spread the virus further fuelled the fire. There was a sudden surge in Islamophobic hashtags and social media posts. This triggered incidents of discrimination and even violence against Muslims across the country.

The subsequent media coverage of Markaz Hazrat Nizamuddin among other incidents has compelled Muslims to take cautious steps in their daily life as they fear that even the slightest deviation may be used against the entire community. The festival of Eid (celebrated at the end of the holy month of Ramzan) is a day away and for the past couple of weeks, the conversations have been mostly about how not to be noticed.

A year ago, Saira wasn’t very politically aware. The recent news has made her more conscious of her identity and the stereotypes against Muslims.

WhatsApp and Twitter are being used to drive home the message of keeping the celebrations low-key and avoiding social gatherings.

“It’s our duty to take precautionary steps to avoid any social outrage against Muslims and also remind the entire nation that Muslims are as vigilant and responsible as any other corona warriors in India in order to safeguard our society. Eid is some days away and it’s very obvious that Muslim pockets pan India may witness social gatherings in the last week of Ramadan. Media houses and other agencies may use such clips to further malign the image of Muslims and portray us in a bad light in the ongoing global corona pandemic,” reads one of the Whatsapp forwards asking people to join Twitter trend encouraging people to stay at home on Eid.

Soon after coronavirus cases were detected from Markaz, media reports called it ‘corona jihad’-- the incident was shown as a deliberate attempt to spread the contagious virus across the country.

The apprehension among many is that the images of Muslims going out for Eid shopping may also be used to deviate attention from major issues like the migrant crisis. “The testing rate is low for now and the number of cases seems artificially low. If there is a spike in the cases later, Muslims can again become the easy targets to pass the buck,” says Akram*, a Delhi-based consultant.

The month of Ramzan began on April 25 and keeping in mind the lockdown norms, none of the mosques held congregational prayers. Delhi’s iconic Jama Masjid and the adjoining area of Old Delhi, which brims with celebration and food during the Ramzan, wore a deserted look for the entire month in view of lockdown.

Meanwhile, Muslims religious bodies and scholars in India have also asked people to avoid mass gatherings in view of the virus. Deputy Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Delhi asked everyone to offer Eid namaz from their homes only and follow government guidelines to avoid the risk of virus transmission.

The deputy Imam in a statement said, “We cannot allow any congregations in courtyards and parks as it will expose people to an increased risk of contracting the virus. Hence, we urge you to offer holy prayers of Jamat-ul-Vida, Namaz-e-Eid from your homes. I would also like to request all citizens, especially the Muslim community, to abide by the lockdown mandates and help the poor and destitute persons during this period, and pray to the almighty to help keep everyone safe and evade this pandemic.”

Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband issued a fatwa asking Muslims to offer their Eid prayers this time at home, instead of congregating at mosques. Similar directives have come from religious organisations across the world. The Muslim Council of Britain has asked people to celebrate Eid from home, and virtually with friends and family. Countries like Saudi Arabia and Turkey have ordered curfews to avoid gathering on Eid.

https://www.news18.com/news/buzz/coronavirus-fake-news-and-stereotypes-why-muslims-want-to-keep-eid-celebrations-low-key-2634853.html

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Wakf Board advises Muslims to observe social distancing

MAY 25, 2020

Mosques to stay closed for public; pray at home, say religious heads

In the wake of the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Andhra Pradesh State Waqf Board advised all the managements of Waqf institutions/masjids, NGOs and Muslim community in general to restrict the congregation in mosques and dargahs.

The board said that only the imam, mouzzin and three other staff committee members (not exceeding five members) would be allowed to perform the five-time prayers, Juma/Friday prayers and the Taraweeh prayers of Ramadan.

It also advised the musallies (worshippers) and the Muslims in general to offer their prayers at home.

The managements/muthawallies of all masjids, dargahs and Eidgahs have been told to ensure that all religious places and places of worship are closed for the public and religious congregations are strictly prohibited.

Ulemas/muftian and the religious heads have also advised the Muslim community to offer Ramzan Id prayers (Namaze-e-Id-ul-Fitr) on Monday (May 25) in their respective homes.

They have also advised social distancing by avoiding meeting relatives, Id milap programmes, hand-shaking (musafa) and hugging each other to prevent the spread of the virus.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/wakf-board-advises-muslims-to-observe-social-distancing/article31666680.ece

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J&K: Encounter breaks out between terrorists and security forces in Kulgam

May 25, 2020

KULGAM (Jammu and Kashmir): An encounter has broken out between terrorists and security forces in Manzgam area of Kulgam district on Monday.

34 Rashtriya Rifles (RR), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Kulgam Police are on the job. No casualty has been reported yet.

More details are awaited.

On May 19, two terrorists were killed in an encounter with security forces at Nawakadal area of Srinagar.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/jk-encounter-breaks-out-between-terrorists-and-security-forces-in-kulgam/articleshow/75964178.cms

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Amid pandemic, Indian pilgrims await Saudi green signal for Haj travel

May 24, 2020

NEW DELHI: Uncertainty shrouds Haj 2020 as India awaits a formal communication from Saudi Arabia on the matter to decide on whether the selected applicants from India will get to travel this year in June-July for the annual pilgrimage. Saudi Arabia has communicated twice on the matter with India, before and during the lock down, conveying that there continues to be a stay on Haj-related plans given the prevailing pandemic.

The first flights for pilgrims from India to Saudi Arabia would normally have been scheduled to take the first group of passengers towards the end of June. Clearly time is running out.

Since Haj preparations are a year - long process, till before the lock down already 1.25 lakh out of the 2.7 lakh applicants had been selected and around 1.15 lakh had made the requisite payments. More applications would have been approved had the pandemic not happened.

As per the action plan for Haj 2020, endorsement of e-Haj visa by Saudi ministry of foreign affairs was to start from May 6.

Last year, entry of data for Hajis was started on February 27 and first grouping for visas was done on the e-Haj website on June 10 for the first Haj flight of July 4, 2019.

This year, the e-Haj website is still not functional and no data entry of Hajis has been allowed so far.

While the final communique from Saudi Arabia is awaited, the Haj Committee of India has already passed a resolution to consider refund of the full amount including cancellation charges to pilgrims who have registered, if Haj application is cancelled due to the prevailing situation.

In April itself, minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had made it clear that if both India and Saudi Arabia finally decide to suspend the Haj for this year, then, those who have registered for the Haj will be reimbursed the money they have submitted for the pilgrimage and whatever losses happen will be borne by the Haj committee of India.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/amid-pandemic-indian-pilgrims-await-saudi-green-signal-for-haj-travel/articleshow/75948752.cms

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Encounter breaks out between terrorists and security forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kulgam

May 25, 2020

An encounter has broken out between terrorists and security forces in Manzgam area of Kulgam district on Monday.

34 Rashtriya Rifles (RR), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Kulgam Police are on the job. No casualty has been reported yet.

More details are awaited.

On May 19, two terrorists were killed in an encounter with security forces at Nawakadal area of Srinagar.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/encounter-breaks-out-between-terrorists-and-security-forces-jammu-and-kashmir-s-in-kulgam/story-6jf2bK8HblZX45WVr1pYKK.html

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India hails 3-day Taliban truce call in Afghanistan, hopes for peace

May 25, 2020

India has joined countries such as the US, Germany and Iran in welcoming a three-day ceasefire in Afghanistan, saying it hopes the truce will be further extended in order to address the humanitarian situation in the war-torn country.

The Taliban announced the ceasefire for Eid-ul-Fitr on Saturday evening. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani welcomed it and extended an offer of peace from his government. He instructed Afghan security forces to comply with the three-day ceasefire and to “defend only if attacked”.

The external affairs ministry said in a statement on Sunday: “India welcomes the understanding reached for a ceasefire in Afghanistan for three days during the Eid. We hope that this ceasefire would extend further and become permanent to address the dire humanitarian situation resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and pave the way for durable peace and stability for the people of Afghanistan.”

The statement added, “India stands with the people of Afghanistan in their quest for enduring peace, security, sovereignty, and prosperity.”

On Sunday, Ghani announced his government will release up to 2,000 Taliban prisoners as a goodwill gesture in response to the ceasefire, and take further steps in the peace process.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo welcomed the announcement of the truce .

“We worked hard to achieve this moment, and I hope that this respite from conflict gives Afghan people the space and security they deserve to celebrate Eid, while allowing the Taliban and the government the opportunity to take additional steps toward a peaceful future,” he said.

The Taliban had last called for a ceasefire during Eid in June 2018.

However, violence has significantly increased in Afghanistan since the US and the Taliban signed a deal in February.

The world community has been calling for a reduction in violence so that the fraying peace process can be taken forward.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/india-hails-3-day-taliban-truce-call-in-afghanistan-hopes-for-peace/story-oa56C0ePrN7S89bGtBC1GI.html

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Pakistan

 

'Preliminary report of PIA plane crash raises new questions'

May 24, 2020

KARACHI: A preliminary report on the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crash, in which 97 people were killed, has raised serious questions about the pilot's handling of the aircraft and what prevented the crew in the cockpit from informing the air traffic controllers about the troubles.

Pakistani investigators are trying to find out if the crash of the national flag carrier's flight PK-8303 is attributable to a pilot error or a technical glitch, with new leads raising fresh questions over the circumstances of the incident, Geo News reported.

According to the report, prepared by the country's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the Airbus A-320's engines had scraped the runway thrice on the pilot's first attempt to land, causing friction and sparks recorded by the experts.

After the third impact, the pilot took the aircraft off into the air again, which officials found very strange as the crew in the cockpit did not inform the Air Traffic Control (ATC) at the Jinnah International Airport of any problem with the landing gear, The News International quoted CAA sources as saying.

Since automated emergency systems within the aircraft go off in case of any emergency, and the loud alarms and warnings are impossible to ignore, there was no indication from the pilot to the ATC that something was amiss, it said.

When the aircraft scraped the ground on the first failed attempt at landing, the engine's oil tank and fuel pump may have been damaged and started to leak, preventing the pilot from achieving the required thrust and speed to raise the aircraft to safety, the report said.

The pilot made a decision "on his own" to undertake a "go-around" after he failed to land the first time. It was only during the go-around that the ATC was informed that landing gear was not deploying, it said.

“The pilot was directed by the air traffic controller to take the aircraft to 3,000 feet, but he managed only 1,800. When the cockpit was reminded to go for the 3,000 feet level, the first officer said ‘we are trying',” the report said.

Experts said that the failure to achieve the directed height indicates that the engines were not responding. The aircraft, thereafter, tilted and crashed suddenly.

"The plane descended too fast, almost plunged," sources familiar with the report said.

The investigators were trying to establish why the pilots not once informed the ATC of any emergency, malfunction, engine failure or fire despite the visible problems the aircraft was facing, the report said, adding that it is rare to have so many technical problems at the same time.

The ATC's conduct is also being probed.

The report added that at this point, there are more questions than answers with the most serious being why and how the alarm systems inside the cockpit failed to warn the pilots of an impending emergency.

PIA chief executive officer Arshad Malik has said that the black box of the plane has been handed over to the investigation team.

The team, headed by Air Commodore Muhammad Usman Ghani, President of the Aircraft Accident and Investigation Board, is expected to submit a full report in about three months.

According to the PIA's engineering and maintenance department, the last check of the plane was done on March 21 this year and it had flown from Muscat to Lahore a day before the crash.

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Pakistan government had allowed the limited domestic flight operations from five major airports — Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta — from May 16.

After the plane tragedy, the PIA has called off its domestic operation.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/preliminary-report-of-pia-plane-crash-raises-new-questions/articleshow/75940172.cms

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'We stand with the affected,' say leaders as Pakistan celebrates Eidul Fitr

May 24, 2020

Eidul Fitr is being observed across Pakistan amid unique circumstances, as the nation struggles to come to terms with a deadly plane crash that killed 97 people and the spread of the novel coronavirus.

President Arif Alvi, in his message, said that he was dedicating this Eid to "martyrs of PIA [crash], labourers who have been trying to earn amid the coronavirus situation, doctors, nurses, corona patients, Kashmiris bearing Indian brutality, Muslims affected by Islamopobia in India, Palestinians and Muslim refugees".

In a bid to encourage people to stay indoors, the president said that he will offer Eid prayers at home. He urged people to "observe social distancing, wear masks and wash their hands so that they can keep themselves, their families and friends safe" from Covid-19.

In order to "facilitate Eid prayers at home", Pakistan Television telecast prayers held in Faisal Mosque.

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, while remembering the victims of the plane crash and the novel coronavirus, prayed for forgiveness.

"Unfortunately, this year we are observing Eidul Fitr in a sad atmosphere. On one hand, there is the martyrdom of Pakistani brothers, sisters and innocent children and on the other hand are the precious lives lost to coronavirus. Hundreds of thousands of people are facing difficulties in this crisis.

"The plane crash and deaths from coronavirus have turned this Eid into a sad one. We stand with the affected families in this hour of grief."

PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also dedicated this Eid to "our martyrs, our healthcare workers, our doctors, our nurses, our paramedics and everyone else who’s putting themselves in danger to save us".

Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, in a video message, said that this Eid would be different, but asked people not to lose hope and "pray that we get rid of this coronavirus soon".

"This too shall pass," he said.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman called upon the people to celebrate Eid with "simplicity" and avoid going out.

"Celebrate Eid in your homes as much as possible," he said in his Eid message. He also remembered victims of the plane crash and Covid-19 as well as the doctors and health staff working on the frontlines to combat the virus.

PM calls for departure from 'usual celebratory style'

Prime Minister Imran urged the nation to forgo traditional festivity in view of the lives lost in Friday's plane crash in Karachi and the hundreds of fatalities caused by the coronavirus.

Taking to Twitter late Saturday night, after the announcement regarding the sighting of the Shawwal moon was made, the premier said he wants the citizens to "observe this Eid in a different manner from the usual celebratory style".

"First, let us think of and pray for all those families who have been deprived of their loved ones by the plane crash tragedy and all those who have lost their lives to Covid-19," he wrote.

Editorial: A detailed inquiry, not speculations would determine why the Karachi plane crash happened

In a second tweet, he emphasised that people must remember to observe the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place to prevent further spread of the virus.

"The disease is with us and social distancing must be strictly observed throughout the Eid holidays, including during Eid prayers. May Allah bless our nation."

Also on Saturday, the Prime Minister's Office reminded the public to celebrate Eid while following precautions.

"For the well-being of your loved ones, follow the SOPs provided by the govt. Avoid crowded places, observe social distancing, exchange Eid greetings from a distance and be there for the underprivileged affected by #COVID19 lockdown," it said in a tweet.

On Friday, a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) passenger plane with an estimated 99 people on board had crashed in Karachi's Model Colony near Jinnah International Airport. Ninety-seven people died while two survived the crash.

The Muslim festival of Eid comes as Pakistan has so far recorded more than 53,000 infections of Covid-19, which has killed 1,123 people since the first case was reported on February 26.

Earlier this month, the government had announced the lifting of the countrywide lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the virus in phases, even as infections continued to rise in the country. The prime minister had cited the economic havoc the virus restrictions had wreaked on citizens as the reason behind the decision.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1559178/we-stand-with-the-affected-say-leaders-as-pakistan-celebrates-eidul-fitr

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‘Rise in Covid-19 cases partly due to efficient tracking system’

Ikram Junaidi

May 24, 2020

ISLAMABAD: A record number of new Covid-19 cases has been reported in the capital in the last 24 hours, but the city’s focal person on Covid-19 has partly attributed the increase to surveillance and an efficient TTQ - tracing, testing and quarantine - system.

The number of new cases reported has doubled in just five days, from 57 reported on May 18 to 131 on May 22. District Health Officer Dr Zaeem Zia has claimed that there are a number of reasons for the increase.

A document from the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Covid-19 dated May 23, available with Dawn, stated that the total number of cases reported in the capital in the last 24 hours is 131. There were 13 cases reported in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, five cases in Gilgit-Baltistan and 124 cases in all of Balochistan - which has an area equal to almost half of the entire country - in the same period.

Of the new patients, 87 are male and 44 are female.

Dr Zia told Dawn that although it is correct that the number of Covid-19 cases has increased in the last few days, there are a number of reasons for this.

“Our surveillance is much better than other parts of the country, because of which more cases are detected. It is said that when one case is reported from an area, it should be considered the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

“We have introduced a TTQ system under which our teams have been visiting home to home to find suspected Covid-19 cases. This is why 44pc of the cases in Islamabad were detected by district administration teams and the remaining 56pcare cases that were tested at public and private laboratories and hospitals,” he added.

Dr Zia said that the government made the decision to open the lockdown in the interest of the public to give them the opportunity to earn, but people have taken it to mean the disease has been eliminated.

“The responsibility is on both the government and the people. The government has done its job by allowing people to make a living, and not it is the responsibility of the public to take precautionary measures. It is a two-way responsibility and we cannot get better results if only the government ensures its responsibility,” he said.

“We were getting around 60 cases per day, but the number of cases has suddenly started increasing which shows that people have begun interacting with each other again,” he said.

Dr Zia also urged people not to stigmatise patients of Covid-19.

“We get a number of calls almost daily saying we should shift patients of Covid-19 from their areas. It is a disease and we have to live with it,” he said.

But an official from the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) who asked not to be named said that the number of Covid-19 patient has begun to increase because of the government’s decision to relax the lockdown.

“Unfortunately, we will observe a huge surge in cases in the coming days as markets and the places have been flooded with people and the public has stopped taking precautionary measures,” he said.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1559241/rise-in-covid-19-cases-partly-due-to-efficient-tracking-system

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‘Covid-19 pandemic may lead to greater number of fistula cases’

May 24, 2020

KARACHI: The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic will compromise the care of young pregnant population and there are chances that they will suffer from fistula and will not be able to get treatment because of non-existing support for these patients.

These concerns were shared by experts on International Day to End Fistula observed every year on May 23.

The theme of this year is ‘End gender inequality, end health inequalities, end fistula now’.

“These are valid concerns. The UNFPA estimates that Covid-19 will disrupt efforts to end child marriage, potentially resulting in an additional 13 million child marriages taking place between 2020 and 2030 that could otherwise have been averted translating into higher probability of fistula cases across the world,” said president of the Pakistan National Forum on Women’s Health (PNFWH) Dr Shershah Syed.

The forum is providing fistula repair services at Koohi Goth Women’s Hospital, nine government-run centres across the country in collaboration with federal and provincial health ministries as well as in places like Gilgit, Skardu, Kashmir, Tharparkar and Turbat through surgical camps.

Fistula cases, according to Dr Syed, couldn’t end unless the government provided basic and primary healthcare in rural areas and city slums and launched a programme to produce one hundred thousand skilled midwives to save mothers from mortality and morbidity.

According to experts, obstetric is one of the most serious injuries of childbearing; a tear in the birth canal caused by prolonged, obstructed labour in the absence of timely and adequate medical care.

It leaves women leaking urine, faeces or both, and often leads to chronic medical problems, depression, social isolation and deepening poverty.

However, obstetric and rectovaginal fistula are preventable and, in most cases, can be repaired surgically. In Pakistan the true prevalence of fistula is unknown, but an estimated 5,000 cases are recorded every year.

Unfortunately, only 10 per cent of these women undergo corrective surgery annually. The rest are forced to live a difficult existence, shunned by their families.

“We need to accelerate efforts if we are to achieve our global ambition of ending fistula by 2030, the deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals. Towards that end, the response to the Covid-19 pandemic must ensure the delivery of essential reproductive health services, including midwifery services and emergency obstetric care,” stated Lina Mousa, UNFPA representative in Pakistan, in a message.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1559198/covid-19-pandemic-may-lead-to-greater-number-of-fistula-cases

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Arab World

 

Egyptian Police Chase Man Who Tried To Lead Eid Prayers

LAILA MOHAMED

May 24, 2020

CAIRO: A video of a man wearing Al-Azhar University’s uniform being chased by police was posted by social media users in Egypt on Sunday.

The man had been reportedly leading Eid congregational prayers in violation of anti-coronavirus measures that prevent gatherings. The video also shows a person laughing and saying: “Run sheikh.”

The man had agreed to lead prayers in the open yard of a mosque in the city of Nabaroh, north of Cairo, according to a resident.

He said people had gathered and started praying but, as soon as they heard police sirens, the man leading the prayer and the congregation started to disperse fearing arrest.

Sheikh Taha Zeyada, secretary of the Egyptian Ministry of Endowments, told Arab News that the security directorate had not received any report about the incident.

He said the directorate had not told any mosque to hold Eid congregational prayers, complying with measures taken to stem the spread of the coronavirus disease. The investigation into the incident was the responsibility of the executive and security bodies, he added, and all the mosques in the governorate had adhered to the Cabinet’s decision about Eid prayers.

Security officials confirmed that the prayer leader was not arrested as he ran away.

A source in the ministry said that the congregation was not in a mosque and that the man in the Al-Azhar uniform had been identified as Mahmoud, an Al-Azhar high school student.

The ministry had already canceled Eid Al-Fitr prayers in mosque grounds. It also decided to broadcast the prayer from Al-Sayeda Nafisa mosque. It named 20 people to attend the prayer and the sermon was delivered by Sheikh Yousry Azzam, one of the ministry’s imams.

The ministry also issued rules and regulation regarding Eid Al-Fitr and operating microphones or loudspeakers in mosques.

According to the rules, prayer leaders were to be present in mosques from dawn until the end of the Eid prayer broadcast.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1679496/middle-east

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Tycoon Rami Makhlouf donates to own charity in ongoing spat with Syrian government

24 May 2020

Embattled Syrian tycoon Rami Makhlouf, who has claimed he is being unfairly targeted by the regime headed by his cousin Bashar al-Assad, posted on Saturday that he had donated to his own charity – despite the government recently ordering his assets to be seized.

Makhlouf has become embroiled in a public spat with the Syrian government, releasing a series of videos in which he claimed that his employees at Syriatel – Syria’s largest telecom provider and one of the central pillars of Makhlouf’s sprawling business empire – were being unfairly arrested by security services.

On Friday, the dispute escalated when a Syrian court placed a temporary travel ban on Makhlouf, who has refused to pay money that the government says is owed and said that the government’s arrest of managers at the company will be a “catastrophe” for the Syrian economy.

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The following day, Makhlouf posted an Eid Mubarak message on Facebook in which he said he had donated around 1.5 billion SYP ($2.9 million) to his al-Bustan charity and said he aims to continue “providing humanitarian services to those who deserve them sincerely and honestly.”

The donation is reportedly about 1 percent of the amount the government has asked him to pay.

Ibrahim Hamidi

@ibrahimhamidi

New statement from #Rami_Makhlouf * Urging secret services to stop arresting loyalists and patriotic Syrian”

* release his aids in SyriaTel

* donation to poor and wounded soldiers

*commenting on his brother Ehab: The path of truth is tough... the brother would leave his brother.

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Competing for loyalist support

Makhlouf framed his donation to wounded soldiers and appealed to the security services to stop arresting “loyalists.”

According to Makhlouf, al-Bustan “was caring for about 7,500 martyr families and 2,500 wounded, in addition to thousands of surgeries and various kinds of aid.”

Makhlouf’s posts have been interpreted as a deliberate appeal to the Alawite community, a key bastion of support for the regime that has provided an important source of recruits for the army during the nine-year-long war in Syria.

According to Asharq al-Awsat, his appeal to “the poor and the loyal” is part of a rift at the heart of the Syrian regime with Makhlouf’s status as the economic power behind the throne reportedly being challenged by a new group of businessmen around Asma al-Assad, Bashar’s wife.

While Makhlouf publicly presents himself as a patron of the Alawite community, the Syrian Trust for Development – in which Asma chairs the Board of Trustees – has launched a campaign to pay financial grants to families in various regions, reported Asharq al-Awsat, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter.

Al Arabiya English

@AlArabiya_Eng

Syrian businessman Rami #Makhlouf has released a second video appealing to his cousin President Bashar al-Assad, alleging that Syrian security officials have been arresting his employees despite his previous support for them. #Syriahttps://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/05/03/Syrian-tycoon-Rami-Makhlouf-releases-video-says-cousin-Assad-arresting-his-employees.html …

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Brother leaves brother

Makhlouf also seemed to confirm reports that his brother Ihab had stepped down from his deputy role at Syriatel and pledged his loyalty to President al-Assad.

In a Facebook post on Friday, Ihab blamed his brother Rami for his resignation.

“I want to ensure that I was not pressured to step down from any side and that my resignation was a result of differences with the chairman of the board at Syriatel Mr. Rami Makhlouf over his dealings with the media over the legal and financial files toward the government,” he wrote.

Rami acknowledged the incident in Saturday’s post, saying: “The path of truth is difficult and not many take that path out of fear, to the point where a brother would leave his own brother out of fear that injustice would happen to him.”

Rami reportedly appointed his younger son Ali to fill the post, passing over his Dubai-based elder son Mohammad, who has gained a reputation for his playboy lifestyle through ostentatious Instagram posts.

Al Arabiya English

@AlArabiya_Eng

An unverified document reportedly leaked by Rami #Makhlouf to social media and #Syrian media revealed that the Syrian tycoon Rami Makhlouf’s second son Ali, 20, has been named deputy CEO of telecom company Syriatel. https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/05/20/Syrian-tycoon-Rami-Makhlouf-names-son-Ali-heir-to-telecom-not-playboy-Dubai-based-son.html …

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Coronavirus: Abu Dhabi issues rules for hotel beaches, bars to reopen

24 May 2020

Abu Dhabi has issued guidelines for the reopening of hotels and their beaches, bars, restaurants, pools and gyms, which were previously shut under temporary measures aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus.

Hotels will be required to comply with the guidelines to reopen, said the statement from the Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT). However, it did not say when they would be able to reopen.

“Having closed due to health and safety precautionary measures imposed to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, hotels will now be able to reopen their facilities and resume trading as soon as approval is granted from DCT Abu Dhabi,” wrote the UAE’s official WAM news agency.

The rules included limited operating hours from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Hotels will also be required to have an isolation room to isolate any potential cases and a medical team on standby while open.

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“The guidelines set out stringent criteria for the hotels to follow, which our inspectors will confirm with on-site visits. Once these high standards of health and safety are met, DCT Abu Dhabi will approve the reopening, and trading can resume,” said Ali Hassan al-Shaiba, the executive director of tourism and market at DCT Abu Dhabi.

Hotels will only be able to operate at 30 percent capacity, in measures similar to the current regulations at malls in the UAE. Staff will also be tested for COVID-19 before being allowed to return to work.

“We are adamant that both hotel staff and visitors should be 100 per cent confident in their own safety, as we start the resumption of ‘normal’ activities since the pandemic situation arose,” he added.

WAM English

@WAMNEWS_ENG

Department of Culture and Tourism #AbuDhabi shares guidelines to reopen #UAE capital's hotels#WamNews https://wam.ae/en/details/1395302844497 …

Dubai reopens hotel beaches

The neighboring emirate of Dubai has already reopened hotel beaches ahead of Eid al-Fitr.

Hotel beaches in the city are now taking groups of less than five people, having previously shut due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In line with the Abu Dhabi capacity, hotel beaches are only allowed to open at a lower capacity of 30 percent to allow for social distancing, with access restricted to hotel guests and the sale of beach access tickets is prohibited.

Public beaches in both emirates remain closed.

Media outlets across the world have reported on crowds at beaches as a reflection of whether various governments' social distancing regulations are being followed.

In Australia, large crowds gathered to greet the reopening of beaches.

Al Arabiya English

@AlArabiya_Eng

Watch: Hundreds of #Sydney residents rush into the waves at the city’s famous Bondi Beach as Australia took the first steps in easing #coronavirus restrictions.https://english.alarabiya.net/en/coronavirus/2020/04/28/Coronavirus-Surfers-return-as-Australia-reopens-Bondi-Beach-despite-warnings …

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Coronavirus: More than half of UAE cases have recovered despite 781 new cases

24 May 2020

More than half of those infected with coronavirus in the United Arab Emirates have recovered, despite an additional 781 new cases confirmed over the past 24 hours, according to the health ministry.

A total of 15,056 people have recovered in the country so far after 561 new recoveries were recorded out of a total 29,485 cases detected.

The ministry also announced that one person who had previously tested positive for COVID-19 has died due to complications. The death toll, however, remains relatively low with 245 total fatalities.

Meanwhile, the health ministry continues to expand its testing efforts with 35,000 new tests administered over the past 24 hours.

The UAE has the third highest number of cases in the GCC, with Qatar having the second and Saudi Arabia confirming the highest number of cases in the region. However, the country was the first in the wider Middle East to record a coronavirus case, a 73-year-old Chinese woman on January 29. The announcement was followed shortly by several other cases, most of whom were also Chinese tourists.

The government implemented strict measures soon after the first cases were recorded in the country. A nationwide curfew was imposed as part of a national disinfection program which required a partial lockdown that was then increased to a 24-hour lockdown. Most recently curfew timings were adjusted from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. until further notice.

Authorities have also adjusted hours of operation for malls and shopping centers which now be open from 9 a.m. till 7 p.m.

Individuals over the age of 60 and children under 12 are still banned from entering malls, shopping centers and grocery stores.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/coronavirus/2020/05/24/Coronavirus-More-than-half-of-UAE-cases-have-recovered-despite-781-new-cases.html

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Protests, pandemic rob Iraqi students of graduation dreams

May 25, 2020

BAGHDAD: It was supposed to be Basma’s big year: A degree, language certification and maybe a master’s abroad. But local protests and a global pandemic threw the Iraqi student’s plans off-course.

“I’ve been dreaming of graduation since my first day at university. I even bought a coral pink graduation dress — and I never wear dresses,” said Basma, who studies at Baghdad’s Mustansariyah University.

“Now I don’t know when I can wear it.”

Nearly 150,000 Iraqis may not graduate as planned this spring, according to the Higher Education Ministry’s spokesman Haider Al-Abboudi, as their universities were shut down first by mass anti-government protests, then the spreading coronavirus.

That will delay their hunt for jobs in a country where youth unemployment is already a staggering 36 percent and is likely to spike much higher as the country faces a financial crisis.

Basma Haitham, 23, had meticulously planned her studies so she could secure a rare private sector job in Iraq.

Once armed with a degree in English literature, she hoped to take two language certifications then pursue a master’s in either business administration or interpretation. But then the protests erupted.

The rallies demanding the overhaul of a political class seen as corrupt, inept and beholden to neighboring Iran broke out in Baghdad and the country’s Shiite-majority south on Oct. 1 — the first week of class.

Leaving their classrooms behind, students took a leading role by organizing strikes, erecting protest tents named after their academic departments and staging marches to buoy the movement when it dwindled.

“Sometimes I’d go without my parents knowing,” Basma said.

With so few students attending class, most universities rescheduled first semester exams for late February or March and implemented online learning modules.

But something else had been bubbling: The coronavirus.

Just as students prepared to take the rescheduled exams, the government shut down all major gathering places — including universities — to forestall the spread of the virus.

Some classes have continued online, but with no exams or final projects, long-awaited graduation ceremonies have been put off, as have international scholarships.

According to the US Embassy in Baghdad, between 200 and 250 students who were meant to study in the US this year will not be able to travel, due to coronavirus movement restrictions.

“The whole atmosphere of graduation, of farewell — we won’t live any of it,” said Raneen Al-Khalili, 25, who studies telecommunication engineering at Al-Mamoun University College in Baghdad.

The Higher Education Ministry will announce a schedule for final exams “soon,” including logistical guidelines to keep students healthy, its spokesman Abboudi said.

But for Mayyada Mohammad, 23, it is already too late.

To graduate, the Baghdad University fine arts student must complete a final sculpting project in the university studio, closed for more than two months now.

“The latest thing we heard was that we’d start projects next year, so we’d graduate a year late. But some of us can’t afford that. We need to start working,” she said.

She joined the anti-government protests last year but admitted the weak turnout lately had discouraged her from returning to the streets.

“This whole year slipped through our fingers. It’s like it never happened,” she told AFP from her home in Baghdad.

“Now it’s all Netflix, all the time.”

More than 60 percent of Iraq’s population of 40 million is under 25 and it is estimated there will be another 10 million by 2030.

Most senior students rely on the government’s socialist-era program of mass hiring, where recent graduates are allocated jobs in the country’s bloated public sector.

But the government has struggled to absorb the new waves of graduates in recent years, which has worried 22-year-old medical student Sajad Matar.

“I was supposed to graduate this year but my heart is telling me it’s not going to happen,” he lamented.

The class of 2019 from the private university he attends had yet to be appointed to government jobs, making it unlikely he would get selected before the end of 2021.

That means he will stay at home with his parents in Nasiriyah, another protest hotspot, without the 700,000 Iraqi dinars (about $600) monthly salary he had expected.

“On top of that, the university still wants us to pay the 1,750,000 Iraqi dinars ($1,500) of tuition for the spring semester,” Matar added bitterly.

“But there’s no work in Nasiriyah for me. Of course I’m afraid for my future — I’ve lost all hope.”

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1679626/middle-east

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Saudis find innovative ways to give eidiyas and gifts amid pandemic

HALA TASHKANDI

May 25, 2020

RIYADH: Due to the ongoing pandemic, Saudis are exploring different ways to exchange gifts and eidiya. They are mostly relying on internet and different apps available to solve this problem by sending e-gifts and transferring money using electronic channels.

“I got my eidiya this year from my cousin though STC (app),” said Waleed Bukhari. “I normally receive cash from the family’s elders, but I was happy to get something different.”

An eidiya is hard to define. Its literal translation is “of Eid” and it is usually a money gift that children — and sometimes adults — receive on the morning of the first day of Eid, with amounts generally depending on one’s age.

The Saudi Telecom Co.’s payment app, STC Pay, is offering a fun way for people to send their eidiya money electronically. There are options to customize the envelope and attach a personal message, and many might find this a suitable alternative to the traditional aspect of doling out Eid money.

But some prefer to send e-gifts instead of money for Eid.

Dana Al-Harbi, a college student, said her parents never gave her money for Eid but that she had yet to receive an Eid gift from them that she did not love.

“Money is useful, sure, but they’ve always given me stuff I appreciated much more,” she told Arab News. “They put a lot of love and thought into their gifts, and that’s more important to me than money.”

Some stores offer special boxes or envelopes to hold cash in interesting ways, or sell cards with a little slot for holding rolled-up bills. Some decorate bouquets of flowers with money, hide money inside chocolate wrappers, or even make scavenger hunts for their families with bills hidden around the house for them to find.

Wafaa Al-Mansour, a mother of five, recommends handing out gift cards.

“There’s something I don’t like about straight-up giving cash out, and I’m always out of the loop when it comes to what my children want as gifts, so I give them the option to choose what they like, but also make sure they’re not wasting money on something I don’t approve of,” she told Arab News.

She recommended gift vouchers offered by different bookstores as a good option.

“I like to get the SR100 ($26.66) vouchers, as they’re an appropriate amount, the ones under 12 get three and the ones over 12 get five. They can choose to buy books, toys, games, stationery, or even do what my sons did and save up the vouchers for the more expensive electronics. They got their PlayStation that way,” she said.

Haifa Abduljaleel prefers to send her three kids their cash by bank transfer, a process that she says has made her life much easier over the years.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1679651/saudi-arabia

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Modest Eid celebrations take place in Lebanon amid coronavirus restrictions

May 24, 2020

BEIRUT: Eid prayers were held in Lebanon’s mosques, as people celebrated the end of Ramadan amid measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Movement in Beirut was limited to family visits, with parks and other entertainment facilities remaining closed. Most people refrained from visiting restaurants because of the ongoing economic crunch. Families with properties in the mountains preferred to spend their Eid holidays there in order to protect themselves against the virus.

Eid prayers were held in mosques, and the number of worshippers varied region-wise. Mosques abided by the decision of the Islamic Dar Al-Fatwa to maintain distance between worshippers, ensure that everyone wore masks, have worshippers bring their own prayer mats, and prevent handshakes and hugging.

Doctors expressed fears that social mixing during the holidays might boost the number of infections. On Sunday the Health Ministry confirmed 17 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number to 1,114.

But economic concerns overshadowed other worries during Eid, and shopkeepers complained of a significant drop in purchasing activity.

“Business activities in markets before Eid remained minimum due to a decline in people’s purchasing power and the pandemic,” Tony Eid, head of the Beirut Traders Association, told Arab News. “Reopening markets gradually is better than continuous closure. We are facing several issues such as banks not issuing US dollars, and forex dealers are still on a strike forcing us to resort to devious ways to buy dollars. If we don’t do that the commercial sector will suffocate.”

The third phase of the repatriation of Lebanese expatriates ended on Sunday. Citizens arrived on Sunday at Rafik Hariri International Airport from Riyadh, Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and London. On Saturday night, flights from Moscow, London, Abidjan, and Mozambique arrived. The government is currently not planning to start the fourth phase of the operations. The next phase will be based on the pandemic situation.

According to the Ministry of Health, the total number of COVID-19 cases among those coming from abroad is 193, while 6,393 people are in quarantine centers.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab offered Eid prayers at the Al-Amin Mosque in central Beirut. Former prime ministers, who oppose the current government, were absent from the scene.

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri participated in Eid prayers at Imam Ali Mosque in Beirut’s Jdeideh Road district, which is loyal to the Future Movement. Many of the district’s people came out to greet Hariri and expressed their support for him.

In his Eid sermon Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian criticized “the destruction and sabotage of public institutions” and called on the government to stop the country’s financial, banking, and economic collapse.

“Where have the billions (of liras) gone?” he said. “These should have been spent on safeguarding the interests of citizens, supplying them with power and water, on addressing the waste crisis, improving communications, and promoting agriculture, industry, and services. Why has the country accumulated public debt of $90 billion, $50 billion of which were wasted on electric power that is always out? Who is responsible for holding the depositors’ money? The ones who drained this money inform us every day that it has been lost forever.”

He said Lebanon should reach out to its Arab brothers, who were keen on the country’s safety, stability, and prosperity. “We will not abandon our Arab nationalism,” he added.

Sheikh Hassan Merheb, assistant general inspector at Dar Al-Fatwa, criticized those attempting to undo the policies of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. He said Beirut would remain faithful to him and to those following in his footsteps.

Grand Jaafari Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Kabalan said that the Lebanese formula, which was established on a “sectarian and tyrannical basis to serve the colonial and monopoliztic project,” had ended.

He also said that what the post-independence president, Bechara El-Khoury, and former Prime Minister Riyad Al-Solh did was no longer suitable for a state of citizenship because the country had collapsed due to the “corrupt constitution.”

He said that Lebanon must not listen to “the lying international community” and that “the International Monetary Fund is neither a charity nor independent from politics.”

The Lebanese head of the Maronite Catholic Church, Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi, used his Sunday sermon to condemn attempts to involve Lebanon in the region’s wars. He said these destroyed Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence, or turned it into a battlefield.

He declared his refusal for “changing the face and heart of Lebanon and its pluralistic characteristic in order to preserve our identity.”

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1679491/middle-east

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Mideast

 

Iranians Hold Eid al-Fitr Prayers with Health Protocols

May 24, 2020

After one month of fasting, people held Eid al-Fitr prayers and celebrated this auspicious day. The prayers were held while observing health instructions and social distancing by the faithful to prevent coronavirus spread.

Previous years, Eid al-Fitr prayers in Tehran were held in huge crowds at Imam Khomeini Grand Mosalla (Prayer Site) and Ayatollah Khamenei led the Eid prayers as usual.

But this year it was held in small crowds in mosques and outdoors which was allowed by the Health Ministry.

Due to coronavirus outbreak, all mosques in the city were closed; but today after nearly three months, people gathered to perform Eid al-Fitr prayers.

Last year on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, addressing worshipers in Tehran, reassured that the so-called “Deal of the Century” plot of the US against Palestine will never materialize.

Ayatollah Khamenei, delivering a sermon at Imam Khomeini’s Mosalla in Tehran after leading Eid al-Fitr’s prayers there, underlined that the upcoming US-devised deal, known as the “Deal of the Century”, on the Palestine issue is doomed to fail and will “never materialize.”

The Leader further rejected US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-unveiled deal on the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict as “a betrayal of the Muslim world.”

Ayatollah Khamenei further denounced the Bahraini regime for agreeing to host a conference, where Washington is set to unveil parts of the plan later this month.

All Palestinian groups — along with the United Nations and several other countries — boycotted the event.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990304000258

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Rouhani: Divine Promise Comes True in Lebanon’s Victory over Zionists

May 24, 2020

Rouhani made the remarks in a congratulatory message to the Lebanese President Michel Aoun on the occasion of anniversary of the Lebanese nation’s resounding victory over Zionist occupiers.

He made it clear that this victory was gained through the resistance and steadfastness of the Lebanese men and women.

Iran’s president underlined that, “undoubtedly, empathy and solidarity of the Lebanese people with the government, army and Resistance [front] has been the fundamental factor in continuation of Lebanon’s achievements in the struggle against the Zionist and Takfiri enemy and overcoming the enemies’ plots.”

Back on May 25, 2019, the secretary general of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement said Israeli authorities have described his group as “a strategic threat” to the Tel Aviv regime in an attempt to mobilize support and provoke the international community against it.

Addressing his supporters via a televised speech broadcast live from the Lebanese capital of Beirut, Seyed Hassan Nasrallah stated that the United States and the Zionist regime (of Israel) are conspiring against Hezbollah in a bid to weaken popular support for the movement, PressTV reported.

He stressed that Hezbollah has stood firm in the face of US and Israeli hegemonic schemes for the Middle East region.

“The United States would have offered southern Lebanon to Israel if Hezbollah did not exist. Lebanon is not in a position of weakness. We are standing up for our rights concerning Sheba'a Farms, Kfarchouba village as well as the northern section of Ghajar [village],” Nasrallah said.

“Lebanon can stop the Zionist regime (of Israel) from plundering its oil and gas reserves,” the Hezbollah secretary-general added.

He further highlighted that his movement fully supports the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian right of return to their homes.

Nasrallah also called on people worldwide to turn out en masse for International Quds Day rallies.

Commenting on a forthcoming US-led conference in Bahrain next month in support of US President Donald Trump’s controversial proposal for “peace” between the Israeli regime and Palestinians, dubbed “the deal of the century”, Nasrallah emphasized that the initiative is aimed at liquidation of the Palestinian cause.

The Hezbollah chief also praised the position of Bahraini scholars, members of the public as well as political factions in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom to have expressed their strong objection to hosting the June 25-26 conference in Manama.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Nasrallah said the Lebanese nation rejects permanent settlement of Palestinian refugees in the country, stressing that the latter must not give up on the right to return to their homeland. 

“All Lebanese people believe that efforts must be made to enable Syrian refugees to repatriate. Nevertheless, US persistence and bids from some reactionary regional regimes have prevented displaced Syrians from returning home. Persian Gulf Arab states have even pressed Lebanon to avert the return process through encouraging the Syrian refugees to overstay and intimidating them of return to their country,” the Hezbollah chief concluded.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990304000452

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Rouhani Felicitates Muslim Leaders on Eid al-Fitr

May 24, 2020

Rouhani made the remarks in his messages on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, to congratulate his counterparts.

The Iranian president expressed the hope that experts and scholars will be able to overcome challenges and problems caused by coronavirus.

 "I also that peace, security, health and calmness will be established in Muslim countries and for all people in the world," President Rouhani said.

The Iranian president wished dignity and success for Muslims around the world.

Meantime, Iran's First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri in a message congratulated his Muslim counterparts on the advent of Eid al-Fitr.

In his message, Jahangiri expressed hope for scholars and experts to overcome COVID-19 and maintaining peace, security, and health in the world.

He also wished happiness for Muslim nations and success for his counterparts in the Islamic states.

Eid al-Fitr is the first day of the tenth month of the Islamic calendar when Muslims celebrate the arrival of Shawwal and the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990304000203

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Tanker Arrival Deepens Iran-Venezuela Brotherhood, Friendship

May 24, 2020

“Two leaders, two countries, two revolutions whose hearts are together,” Soltani tweeted on Sunday beside a picture of Ayatollah Khamenei and the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

“The first Iranian fuel tanker arrived in Venezuela; Venezuelan defense ministry, thank you for escorting the tankers,” he added.

In another tweet, he wrote, “Affection was replied by affection. In 2008 Venezuela, under Commander Chavez transferred gasoline to Iran which was under sanctions; and today, the Iranian people under the leadership of Imam Khamenei have dispatched gasoline-loaded tankers to the land of heroes, Venezuela.”

Earlier on Sunday, the first of five Iranian oil tankers has entered the Venezuelan territorial waters to show Iran’s determination to carry out exports of goods and oil to everywhere in the world regardless of US threats.

According to the online tracking data, the Iranian-flagged tanker, named Fortune, arrived in the Venezuelan exclusive economic zone (EEZ) on Saturday evening.

Based on media reports, upon entering the Venezuelan waters, the ship was closely followed by a US cargo ship, the Adam Joseph.

Four other tankers - the Clavel, the Forest, the Faxon and the Petunia – follow the Iranian tanker 'Fortune' all en route to Venezuela’s shores.

The tankers are carrying a total of 1.53 million barrels of gasoline to Venezuela, according to both governments, sources and calculations by TankerTrackers.com.

The hashtag #GraciasIran [Thank you, Iran] has been tweeted to mark the arrival of Iran’s tankers, with netizens hailing the cooperation between Tehran and Caracas in defiance of the US fuss to block the flow of oil from Iran to Venezuela.

Although Venezuela owns the largest proven oil reserves in the world, it has been trying to cover its domestic supply needs, with its energy industry hit by cruel US sanctions.

Earlier on Friday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country is always entitled to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and warned that if his country's oil tankers in the Caribbean or anywhere in the world get into trouble by the Americans, Tehran will definitely retaliate.

“Although some of the US measures have created unacceptable conditions in different parts of the world, we will not be the initiator of tension and clash,” Rouhani said in a phone call with the Qatari Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

Referring to the American moves in the Caribbean, he reiterated, “If our oil tankers face problems in the Caribbean Sea or anywhere in the world by the Americans, they will face problems reciprocally.”

We see the conditions today more apt for cooperation, especially given the outbreak of this disease; but the US continues its incorrect decisions and inhumane behaviors, the president noted.

He made it clear, “As before, we stress that the security of our region, particularly the marine security, is maintained by the regional countries and we have always announced that we are ready for cooperation with the neighboring countries.”

The Qatari Emir, for his part, underlined that the regional security should be maintained by the countries in the region and they should cooperate with each other to secure waterways in the region.

Hamad Al Thani also added that his country will try to deescalate tension.

Also, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri on Friday warned Washington of the dire repercussions of any hostile move against Iran's interests, vowing that Tehran would not hesitate to strike back in case it is targeted by the US.

Bagheri noted Iran’s right to free shipment in the high seas, and stressed that the armed forces are constantly monitoring every small move of the enemies, including the adventurous, terrorist and antihuman American army in the region and faraway lands.

"We stand firm and decided to give the US an appropriate response for any miscalculation against the national interests of Iran," the top commander stressed, in a stern warning to the US to avoid any hostile move aganst five Iranian tankers carrying fuel to Venezuela.

Venezuela's defense minister said Wednesday that planes and ships from the nation's armed forces will escort Iranian tankers arriving with fuel to the gasoline-starved country to prevent any US aggression.

Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López said Venezuela's navy and air force will welcome the five Iranian tankers, seeing them through the nation's maritime territory and into port.

He compared the fuel tankers to humanitarian aid that China and Russia have sent to help Venezuela combat the new coronavirus pandemic.

Meantime, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami warned the US against any hostile move or trouble-making for the country’s oil tankers in international waters.

“Troubling the oil tankers is a violation of international laws and security. Both international organizations and countries which are sensitive to the laws and waterways’ security should certainly show reaction to such an act,” General Hatami told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday.

He described any possible US trouble-making for the Iranian tankers in the free waters as “piracy”.

“Of course, our policy is fully clear and we have clearly announced that we will not tolerate any disturbance. The Americans and others know that we certainly do not hesitate to react to any such move and if the disturbances increase and continue, they will certainly face a firm response,” General Hatami said.

Reuters had quoted a senior official in President Donald Trump’s administration as saying last Thursday that the United States is considering measures it could take in response to Iran’s shipment of fuel to Venezuela.

“...we’re looking at measures that can be taken,” the official added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Informed sources told Nour News website, close to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), that the US has sent four of its combat warships along with Boeing P-8 Poseidon fighters to the Caribbean.

In response to the US threats, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to caution over likely US menace against Iranian oil tankers in the Caribbean, stressing that America would be responsible for ensuing consequences.

Zarif described the US' provocative threats as piracy and a big threat to world peace and security, stressing that the US must stop bullying in the world and respect the rule of the international law, especially freedom of shipping in high seas.

Calling the US government responsible for the repercussions of any illegal move, the top diplomat underlined Iran's right to take necessary measures to counter these threats.

Furthermore, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi summoned the Swiss ambassador, representing US interests in Tehran, to express the country's intensive protest at US provocations.

Araqchi called on the Swiss envoy to convey Iran's serious warning to the US officials against any likely threat posed by the US to Iran’s oil tankers.

He noted that Iran and Venezuela enjoy "completely legitimate and legal commercial ties," adding that the US resorting to bullying measures will be considered as a menace to "free shipping, international trade and the free flow of energy."

Such measures, the Iranian diplomat said, are flagrant examples of piracy and explicit violation of international laws and, as such, defy the goals and principles explicated in the UN Charter.

He also warned that any threat against the Iranian ships will ensue Iran's prompt and categorical reaction, and the US administration will be responsible for their consequences.

The Swiss envoy, for his part, said he will instantly convey Iran’s message to the US administration and inform the Iranian government of the results as soon as possible.

Also, the Iranian foreign ministry warned on Monday that any hostile act by Washington against the country’s oil tankers in the international waters will face a crushing response.

“What the Americans have said about our oil tankers is illegal and if they make a move, they will face Iran’s reaction,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi told reporters via a video conference.

He noted that Iran has given the necessary advice to the Americans via the Swiss embassy, which represents the US interests in Tehran, and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has also written a letter to the UN chief in this regard, expressing the hope that Washington does not make any “stupid” move.

“Free trade among independent states is a legitimate issue. The US in Trump era is disturbing the global order and is after global anarchism,” Mousavi said.

Also on Monday, Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Rabiyee confirmed his country’s exports of gasoline to Venezuela, warning against any US hostile act against Iran’s tankers in the international waters.

“Iran has sent the gasoline tankers at the demand of Venezuelan government. No state is duty-bound to implement the US-desired sanctions,” Rabiyee told reporters in Tehran.

He called on the international society to show reaction to the US illegal warnings about its imminent action against the Iranian oil tankers in the international waters, and said, “The US has a record of piracy.”

“It is still soon to speak about the reactions, but we consider all options and hope that the Americans will not make any mistake,” Rabiyee said.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990304000338

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Official: Iran Backing WHO Program in Anti-Coronavirus Campaign

May 24, 2020

Assadi Lari made the remarks in an online video conference of the health ministers of the member-states of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) titled 'Unity against COVID-19'.

He called for expanding cooperation among NAM member states to contain the disease as well as to ensure the fair access to Vaccines, medicine, and the medical equipment.

Referring to National Mobilization plan to control the coronavirus in Iran, Assadi Laris said, "In the first phase, 78 million people were screened with the help of powerful primary healthcare infrastructure (PHC), which led to a significant reduction in hospital admissions."

"In the second stage, more than 38 million high-risk individuals have been screened so far," he added.

Asadi Lari also called for the immediate and effective action of the international community to counter unilateralism, with the aim of ensuring the effectiveness of the national response to the COVID-19 epidemic.

The Iranian health ministry announced on Sunday that 2,180 new cases of coronavirus infection have been identified in the country in the past 24 hours, expressing pleasure that 83% of the cases were outpatients and that there have been no deaths in 13 provinces.

“2,180 more patients infected with COVID-19 virus have been identified in the country since yesterday based on confirmed diagnosis criteria,” Health Ministry Spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said on Sun.

He continued that 364 of these cases have been hospitalized while 816 were outpatients.

Jahanpour informed of improvement of patient identification process in the country as 83% of the new cases were outpatients, noting that for several weeks the number of outpatients has been over 80%.

The spokesman added that the number of COVID-19 patients in the country reached 135,701 people.

He expressed regret that for the past 24 hours, 58 patients have lost their lives increasing the total number of the dead to 7,417 people.

Jahanpour also said that 105,801 patients have been recovered and discharged from hospitals, expressing concern that 2,615 patients infected with COVID-19 are in critical conditions.

He noted that 801,105 tests have so far been conducted in Iran.

Jahanpour concluded that Khuzestan province is still in red conditions, while 13 provinces have had no death reports and 8 provinces had just one dead each.

Iranian Health Minister Saeed Namaki stressed on April 7 effective measures to control coronavirus epidemic, expressing the hope that the disease would be controlled in Iran by late May.

“At present, the country is in the phase of disease management and we should not imagine that we have reached the harness and control phase. Today is the time for full-fledged combat against the virus. God willing, we will control coronavirus by late May. The virus should be controlled in the minimum possible time,” Namaki said, addressing the Iranian legislators in an open session of the parliament in Tehran.

He noted that at least 30% to 50% of hospital beds are still vacant across Iran and nearly 15,000 beds are ready to keep the patients who are recovering from coronavirus disease.

“We have now moved down to tank 6th in terms of deaths,” Namaki said, adding that the country’s situation in treatment of patients will improve in the next few days.

The coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting approximately all countries and territories around the world. The virus was first reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. It has so far killed more than 340,000 people and infected over 5.3 million others globally.

The Iranian foreign ministry declared that despite Washington’s claims of cooperation to transfer drugs to Iran via the new Swiss-launched payment mechanism, the US is troubling the process amid the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Although US claims that medicines and medical equipment are not under sanctions, they have practically blocked the transfer of Iran’s financial resources in other countries into the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA), Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi said.

As the death toll from the virus surges, Iran intensifies its preventive safety measures. Closures of schools and most universities have been extended until further notice.

The government also imposed travel restrictions, specially on Iran’s North, which is among the red zones. The country has also adopted strict digital health control procedures at airports to spot possible infections.

Namaki announced last month that a new national mobilization plan would be implemented across the country to fight against the coronavirus epidemic and more effectively treat patients.

Namaki said that the plan will include all the 17,000 health centers and the 9,000 medical and clinical centers in all cities, suburban areas and villages.

He added that the plan will include home quarantine, noting that infected people will receive the necessary medicines and advice, but they are asked to stay at home.

Namaki said that people with a more serious condition will stay at the hospitals, adding that the public places will be disinfected, the entries of infected towns and cities will be controlled to diagnose and quarantine the infected cases.

He added that the necessary equipment and facilities have been provided, expressing the hope that the epidemic would be curbed.

According to the latest statistics of Health Ministry, the number of medical laboratories to test coronavirus infection has reached over 90 across the country.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says Iran's response to the virus has so far been up to the mark. Still, it says the US sanctions are a big challenge, and Washington would be complicit in the rising death toll in Iran if it would not remove its sanctions.

The World Health Organization has considered priorities in combating coronavirus and Islamic Republic of Iran obeys and follows up priorities as defined by WHO.

The WHO is dispatching separate delegations to all countries.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990304000382

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Zarif Wishes Victory over Israel, End of Unfair Sanctions

May 24, 2020

“On the blessed Eid Al-Fitr, we ask God for success for our Islamic nation in its continuous march towards unity, pride, dignity and towards building its bright human civilizational model,” Zarif tweeted on Sunday.

“We are firmly confident in the capabilities of this nation and that the sacrifices of its people will be in the coming days, feasts of victory over occupation, domination and unjust sanctions,” he added.

Also on Friday, Zarif in an Arabic message described the International Quds Day as marking the last phase of the Israeli regime's occupation and settlement in Palestine.

"Quds Day is the day for the revival of the Palestinian rights, and end of occupation and settlements," Zarif wrote on his Twitter account on Friday.

"Israel is the largest human rights violator, the only holder of nuclear weapons in the region and the most serious chronic threat to international peace and security," he added.

The top Iranian diplomat pointed out that the conspiracy of the racist Deal of the Century proved that Washington is a partner to the aggressors and there is no hope for it.

"The referendum is the only solution," Zarif reiterated.

The International Quds Day is an annual event opposing Israel's occupation of Beitul-Muqaddas. Anti-Zionist rallies and demonstrations are held on the last Friday of Ramadan in Muslim and Arab countries around the world, specially in Iran, as well as a large number of non-Muslim states.

The International Quds Day was started by the late Founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, in 1979 as a way of expressing solidarity with the Palestinians and underscoring importance of the holy Quds to Muslims.

Due to the outbreak of coronavirus in Iran, the International Quds Day was commemorated differently without holding gatherings and rallies.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990304000377

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IRGC Commander: No Concern, Iran’s Defense at Highest Level

May 24, 2020

“Nobody should be concerned about the defense sector; these are the moves of the enemy to deviate people’s minds and worry them,” Hajizadeh said in the sidelines of Eid al-Fitr prayers in Tehran.

Thank God, today Iran is powerful and nobody should be concerned but it is the enemy who should be concerned, he said.

The IRGC commander made it clear that currently Iran is in its highest level of defensive preparedness after the Islamic Revolution.

In relevant remarks on Friday, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri warned Washington of the dire repercussions of any hostile move against Iran's interests, vowing that Tehran would not hesitate to strike back in case it is targeted by the US.

Bagheri noted Iran’s right to free shipment in the high seas, and stressed that the armed forces are constantly monitoring every small move of the enemies, including the adventurous, terrorist and antihuman American army in the region and faraway lands.

"We stand firm and decided to give the US an appropriate response for any miscalculation against the national interests of Iran," the top commander stressed, in a stern warning to the US to avoid any hostile move aganst five Iranian tankers carrying fuel to Venezuela.

Venezuela's defense minister said Wednesday that planes and ships from the nation's armed forces will escort Iranian tankers arriving with fuel to the gasoline-starved country to prevent any US aggression.

Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López said Venezuela's navy and air force will welcome the five Iranian tankers, seeing them through the nation's maritime territory and into port.

He compared the fuel tankers to humanitarian aid that China and Russia have sent to help Venezuela combat the new coronavirus pandemic.

Meantime, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami warned the US against any hostile move or trouble-making for the country’s oil tankers in international waters.

“Troubling the oil tankers is a violation of international laws and security. Both international organizations and countries which are sensitive to the laws and waterways’ security should certainly show reaction to such an act,” General Hatami told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday.

He described any possible US trouble-making for the Iranian tankers in the free waters as “piracy”.

“Of course, our policy is fully clear and we have clearly announced that we will not tolerate any disturbance. The Americans and others know that we certainly do not hesitate to react to any such move and if the disturbances increase and continue, they will certainly face a firm response,” General Hatami said.

Reuters had quoted a senior official in President Donald Trump’s administration as saying last Thursday that the United States is considering measures it could take in response to Iran’s shipment of fuel to Venezuela.

“...we’re looking at measures that can be taken,” the official added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Informed sources told Nour News website, close to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), that the US has sent four of its combat warships along with Boeing P-8 Poseidon fighters to the Caribbean.

In response to the US threats, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to caution over likely US menace against Iranian oil tankers in the Caribbean, stressing that America would be responsible for ensuing consequences.

Zarif described the US' provocative threats as piracy and a big threat to world peace and security, stressing that the US must stop bullying in the world and respect the rule of the international law, especially freedom of shipping in high seas.

Calling the US government responsible for the repercussions of any illegal move, the top diplomat underlined Iran's right to take necessary measures to counter these threats.

Furthermore, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi summoned the Swiss ambassador, representing US interests in Tehran, to express the country's intensive protest at US provocations.

Araqchi called on the Swiss envoy to convey Iran's serious warning to the US officials against any likely threat posed by the US to Iran’s oil tankers.

He noted that Iran and Venezuela enjoy "completely legitimate and legal commercial ties," adding that the US resorting to bullying measures will be considered as a menace to "free shipping, international trade and the free flow of energy."

Such measures, the Iranian diplomat said, are flagrant examples of piracy and explicit violation of international laws and, as such, defy the goals and principles explicated in the UN Charter.

He also warned that any threat against the Iranian ships will ensue Iran's prompt and categorical reaction, and the US administration will be responsible for their consequences.

The Swiss envoy, for his part, said he will instantly convey Iran’s message to the US administration and inform the Iranian government of the results as soon as possible.

Also, the Iranian foreign ministry warned on Monday that any hostile act by Washington against the country’s oil tankers in the international waters will face a crushing response.

“What the Americans have said about our oil tankers is illegal and if they make a move, they will face Iran’s reaction,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi told reporters via a video conference.

He noted that Iran has given the necessary advice to the Americans via the Swiss embassy, which represents the US interests in Tehran, and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has also written a letter to the UN chief in this regard, expressing the hope that Washington does not make any “stupid” move.

“Free trade among independent states is a legitimate issue. The US in Trump era is disturbing the global order and is after global anarchism,” Mousavi said.

Also on Monday, Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Rabiyee confirmed his country’s exports of gasoline to Venezuela, warning against any US hostile act against Iran’s tankers in the international waters.

“Iran has sent the gasoline tankers at the demand of Venezuelan government. No state is duty-bound to implement the US-desired sanctions,” Rabiyee told reporters in Tehran.

He called on the international society to show reaction to the US illegal warnings about its imminent action against the Iranian oil tankers in the international waters, and said, “The US has a record of piracy.”

“It is still soon to speak about the reactions, but we consider all options and hope that the Americans will not make any mistake,” Rabiyee said.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990304000315

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Coronavirus: Outbreak continues in Iran with 2,180 new cases, 58 new deaths

24 May 2020

Iran reported 2,180 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the total to 135,701, according to the spokesperson for the Ministry of Health.

The Ministry also announced 58 new deaths, bringing the toll to 7,417.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/coronavirus/2020/05/24/Coronavirus-Outbreak-continues-in-Iran-with-2-180-new-cases-58-new-deaths.html

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Crisis Management Chief: Observing Health Protocols Cause of Iran's Declining COVID-19 Infections

May 24, 2020

"By implementing hygienic, health protocols, and keeping social distancing, we will succeed in containing and uprooting the virus soon," Najjar said.

He pointed out that President Hassan Rouhani has given full authority to the Health Ministry to peruse and take any measures.

"Fortunately, all together and with people's cooperation the infections have dropped," Najjar added.

The Iranian health ministry announced on Sunday that 2,180 new cases of coronavirus infection have been identified in the country in the past 24 hours, expressing pleasure that 83% of the cases were outpatients and that there have been no deaths in 13 provinces.

“2,180 more patients infected with COVID-19 virus have been identified in the country since yesterday based on confirmed diagnosis criteria,” Health Ministry Spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said on Sun.

He continued that 364 of these cases have been hospitalized while 816 were outpatients.

Jahanpour informed of improvement of patient identification process in the country as 83% of the new cases were outpatients, noting that for several weeks the number of outpatients has been over 80%.

The spokesman added that the number of COVID-19 patients in the country reached 135,701 people.

He expressed regret that for the past 24 hours, 58 patients have lost their lives increasing the total number of the dead to 7,417 people.

Jahanpour also said that 105,801 patients have been recovered and discharged from hospitals, expressing concern that 2,615 patients infected with COVID-19 are in critical conditions.

He noted that 801,105 tests have so far been conducted in Iran.

Jahanpour concluded that Khuzestan province is still in red conditions, while 13 provinces have had no death reports and 8 provinces had just one dead each.

Iranian Health Minister Saeed Namaki stressed on April 7 effective measures to control coronavirus epidemic, expressing the hope that the disease would be controlled in Iran by late May.

“At present, the country is in the phase of disease management and we should not imagine that we have reached the harness and control phase. Today is the time for full-fledged combat against the virus. God willing, we will control coronavirus by late May. The virus should be controlled in the minimum possible time,” Namaki said, addressing the Iranian legislators in an open session of the parliament in Tehran.

He noted that at least 30% to 50% of hospital beds are still vacant across Iran and nearly 15,000 beds are ready to keep the patients who are recovering from coronavirus disease.

“We have now moved down to tank 6th in terms of deaths,” Namaki said, adding that the country’s situation in treatment of patients will improve in the next few days.

The coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting approximately all countries and territories around the world. The virus was first reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. It has so far killed more than 340,000 people and infected over 5.3 million others globally.

The Iranian foreign ministry declared that despite Washington’s claims of cooperation to transfer drugs to Iran via the new Swiss-launched payment mechanism, the US is troubling the process amid the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Although US claims that medicines and medical equipment are not under sanctions, they have practically blocked the transfer of Iran’s financial resources in other countries into the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA), Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi said.

As the death toll from the virus surges, Iran intensifies its preventive safety measures. Closures of schools and most universities have been extended until further notice.

The government also imposed travel restrictions, specially on Iran’s North, which is among the red zones. The country has also adopted strict digital health control procedures at airports to spot possible infections.

Namaki announced last month that a new national mobilization plan would be implemented across the country to fight against the coronavirus epidemic and more effectively treat patients.

Namaki said that the plan will include all the 17,000 health centers and the 9,000 medical and clinical centers in all cities, suburban areas and villages.

He added that the plan will include home quarantine, noting that infected people will receive the necessary medicines and advice, but they are asked to stay at home.

Namaki said that people with a more serious condition will stay at the hospitals, adding that the public places will be disinfected, the entries of infected towns and cities will be controlled to diagnose and quarantine the infected cases.

He added that the necessary equipment and facilities have been provided, expressing the hope that the epidemic would be curbed.

According to the latest statistics of Health Ministry, the number of medical laboratories to test coronavirus infection has reached over 90 across the country.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says Iran's response to the virus has so far been up to the mark. Still, it says the US sanctions are a big challenge, and Washington would be complicit in the rising death toll in Iran if it would not remove its sanctions.

The World Health Organization has considered priorities in combating coronavirus and Islamic Republic of Iran obeys and follows up priorities as defined by WHO.

The WHO is dispatching separate delegations to all countries.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990304000470

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Southeast Asia

 

'A sad mood': Muslim doctor in Malaysia spends Eid in hospital amid pandemic

May 24, 2020

Malaysian doctor Muhammad Syahidd Al-Hatim was used to being away from his family on Eidul Fitr, having spent the past two years celebrating the end of Ramazan at Kuala Lumpur Hospital where he works.

But this year, the 26-year-old said, Eid has become a more sombre affair for the hospital’s many Muslim staff, amid a pandemic that has so far seen over 7,000 people in the country infected with the coronavirus, including 115 who have died of Covid-19.

“It’s sad because some of my friends — the staff nurses, some of the senior doctors — they don’t come from KL itself,” Muhammad Syahidd told Reuters, referring to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital.

“Usually, they would go back (to their hometowns) to spend time with their families, and they’re not getting the chance to do that. So yeah, it brings a sad mood to the working area.”

Muslim-majority Malaysia has imposed widespread restrictions on movement since mid-March in a bid to stem the virus outbreak.

Although some curbs were eased this month, interstate travel for non-essential reasons is still banned, with many people unable to return to their hometowns during the holiday season.

Muhammad Syahidd, who works in the emergency ward, was on duty again on Sunday, the first day of Eid, amid concerns that the holiday will lead to a surge in coronavirus infections, as more people risked violating lockdown measures to visit relatives.

The junior doctor, who lives with his parents, has been tested and quarantined twice after coming into close contact with patients suspected to have been infected with the virus.

“I’m attending to patients here,” he said. “Then I bring back the sickness to my parents — that’s the only thing that I’m scared of.”

The pandemic, however, has brought the hospital staff closer, with non-Muslim workers often covering for Muslim staff breaking fast at sunset during Ramazan, Muhammad Syahidd said.

“We take care of each other a lot,” he said.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1559351

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Israelis wish Indonesian Muslims a happy Idul Fitri as part of online campaign

May 25, 2020

A group of Israeli nationals has posted a video wishing Indonesian Muslims selamat Lebaran (happy Idul Fitri) as part of an online campaign to promote camaraderie and understanding between the two countries.

The short video, which was uploaded onto YouTube by a channel named Israel Loves Indonesia on Sunday afternoon, features a number of Israeli citizens wishing the Indonesian public a happy Idul Fitri and expressing their desire to visit Indonesia in the near future.

“It’s the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Fitr, so Israelis wanted to surprise all Muslim Indonesians with their warmest wishes! Selamat Lebaran, we [love] you!” the group wrote on its Facebook page alongside a link to the YouTube video.

The group was not immediately available for comment when contacted by The Jakarta Post regarding the video campaign.

In the "About" section of its Facebook page, the group describes itself as an initiative that seeks to connect the people of Israel and Indonesia.

“Israel Loves Indonesia is building bridges between the great peoples of the world’s largest Muslim-majority country and the world’s only Jewish-majority country. We are not enemies. We love each other,” the message reads.

In the same section, the initiative explains it is part of the larger We Love You movement, which was kickstarted by the Peace Factory.

The organization previously launched a similar campaign called Israel Loves Iran in 2012.

Indonesia and Israel have no diplomatic relations. Indonesians, however, are able to visit Israel for religious pilgrimages, while Israelis can also visit Indonesia on a calling visa or limited-stay visa. (rfa)

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/05/25/israelis-wish-indonesian-muslims-a-happy-idul-fitri-as-part-of-online-campaign.html

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Coronavirus challenge looms as Muslims, Christians set to gather

May 24, 2020

JAKARTA: Muslims and Christians around the world gathered Sunday to celebrate their faith as Eid al-Fitr begins and churches reopen from lockdowns, presenting fresh challenges for authorities trying to curb the coronavirus.

The faithful were preparing for worship from Asia to Europe, where the exit from virus restrictions accelerated with Spain announcing a resumption of foreign tourism and its top football league.

But the disease continued its surge in large parts of South America, with the death toll in Brazil passing 22,000 and infections topping 347,000, the world's second-highest caseload.

Efforts to lift lockdowns continued on both sides of the Atlantic, with US President Donald Trump sending a signal of his intentions with a golfing trip -- his first such outing since March 8.

With infection numbers stabilising in the West, many governments are trying to move towards lighter social distancing measures that they hope will revive moribund business and tourism sectors.

In Spain, which has enforced one of the world's strictest lockdowns since mid-March, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez sought to reassure potential visitors, saying that from July 1, "entry for foreign tourists into Spain will resume in secure conditions".

The country's La Liga football could return on June 8, he added.

Italy is also due to reopen its borders to foreign tourists from June 3.

French churches were preparing to hold their first Sunday masses in more than two months after the government bowed to a ruling that they should be reopened -- provided proper precautions were taken.

Nearly two weeks into the relaxation of its shutdown, France finally allowed mosques, synagogues and churches to reopen, but priests, pastors, rabbis and imams will still have to ensure the correct safety measures are in force.

Worshippers will have to wear masks, disinfectant gel must be on hand and seating will need to be organised to ensure people keep a safe distance from each other.

"My cell phone is crackling with messages!" Father Pierre Amar, a priest in Versailles, told AFP.

France's mosques nevertheless called on Muslims to stay at home to mark the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. They said they would gradually resume services from June 3.

In Saudi Arabia, Eid prayers will be held at the two holy mosques in the cities of Mecca and Medina "without worshippers", authorities said on Saturday as the kingdom began a five-day curfew after infections quadrupled since the start of Ramadan.

While for Christians in Jerusalem the Church of the Holy Sepulchre will reopen on Sunday but with tight restrictions.

The virus is still a cause for concern in the region, with tightly packed Gaza registering its first death on Saturday.

Some Muslims in Indonesia were taking radical steps to reunite with loved ones for Eid, with people in the world's most populous Muslim majority country scrambling to get around lockdown rules.

The government has banned most travel across the country, and many residents are turning to smugglers and false certificates.

One man told AFP he got a fake certificate for his daughter to travel home from university in the capital, Jakarta.

"We want to celebrate Eid al-Fitr together like in past years," he said.

Globally about 5.29 million people have now been infected with the virus which has killed 341,000, with Latin America the new global epicentre of the pandemic.

Far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has played down the severity of the outbreak but faces increasing pressure amid a rising death toll and the resignations of two of his health ministers within weeks.

Scrutiny intensified after release of a video of a cabinet meeting on April 22 -- as the country was fast becoming a virus flashpoint -- in which Bolsonaro and his deputies barely mentioned the pandemic.

One of the few mentions of COVID-19 came when the environment minister suggested the government take advantage of the distraction created by the virus to relax environmental protection rules.

Neighbouring Peru is also struggling. The country of 32 million has registered more than 3,100 deaths.

In Ecuador, tourism Minister Rosi Prado told AFP the pandemic could cost the country's important tourism sector $400 million a month.

With the economic toll from lockdowns rising across the globe, efforts continue to kickstart shattered economies.

In the United States, where the death toll is nearing 100,000, Trump has aggressively pushed to reopen the economy, defying the advice of health experts.

The US economy has shed almost 40 million jobs this year and many companies, most recently car rental giant Hertz, have gone to the wall. But most states have begun easing their lockdowns and many on Saturday reopened public beaches.

"We just get tired of being stuck in the house. There's not much else to do. So I came to the beach," stay-at-home mother Kayla Lambert said, as her two children played in the surf in Galveston, Texas.

Resistance to lockdowns among the restless public has been gathering steam, with protests in Spain and Germany over the weekend.

Thousands gathered in Madrid on Saturday to demand an end to the rules and Sanchez's resignation, in a protest led by the far-right party Vox.

And in Britain a scandal erupted over a disclosure that a top government adviser had even flouted the rules.

Dominic Cummings was seen visiting his parents 250 miles (400 kilometres) away from his London home during the country's lockdown, despite suffering from virus symptoms.

He denies any wrongdoing but faces calls to quit.

Others sounded a rare positive note about the effects of the virus, enjoying open spaces that were once packed with tourists.

Laia Torra, in Barcelona's UNESCO-listed Park Guell, said the park had become too crowded in recent years.

"It's wonderful, it's like going back 20 years," she said as her children played.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/coronavirus-challenge-looms-as-muslims-christians-set-to-gather/articleshow/75938340.cms

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Philippine Muslim cadets share their experiences of military academy

May 25, 2020

MANILA: “Many people think that the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) is not a place for us Muslims,” Cadet Second Class Alrajan Aripin told Arab News. “They said I would not be able to fulfill my obligations as a Muslim if I enroll. But I found really the opposite upon entering here.”

Muslims make up a fraction of the Philippines’ population, which is predominantly Catholic, and just 20 of the 975 cadets at PMA are Muslim.

But the academy’s Muslim cohort is proud to serve the country and their minority status has been no barrier to success. Aripin, a native from Tawi-Tawi province, said that the academy had already produced many Muslim officers and that the insitution’s schedules for Muslim events were very well attended and observed.

He did not have clear plans for his future during his final year at high school. “Then the PMA conducted an information caravan at our school and it kind of drew my attention.”

He discussed the idea with his parents and relatives, with some worrying that he would not be able to perform his religious duties. But the concerns were unfounded.

Cadet Third Class Nerfa Minong, from Zamboanga City, said one of her relatives had graduated from PMA so there was no family opposition when she decided to join the military school.

There were times when fellow students asked her about Islam and its practices. “We then explain it to them and they understand, so there’s really no problem with our fellow cadets,” she told Arab News. “And since we must attend the jummah prayer every Friday ... we just have to inform (our squad leaders) of our whereabouts, also our concerns regarding our religion. So we really had no problem when we entered here. Like at the mess, since we are not allowed to eat pork, we are served meals that don’t contain pork.”

Neither Aripin nor Minong have faced hostility or pressure due to their Islamic faith as they said the PMA facilitated its practice.

They and their fellow Muslim cadets join other PMA students for meals at 5:30 a.m., noon, and at 5:00 p.m.

But during Ramadan, Aripin said, they were served their food at 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. in order to observe the fast between the hours of sunrise and sunset during the holy month.

Minong added that, since they were also excused from their noon mess formation, they also had time to offer Zuhr prayer during Ramadan.

Taraweeh prayers were suspended across the country this year due to strict anti-coronavirus measures and PMA students were not allowed to go outside to pray at mosques in Baguio City, where the academy is located. But Aripin said they could still perform congregational prayers on the academy’s premises in a dedicated prayer room.

There have been other measures to accommodate the PMA’s Muslim cadets, such as female Muslim students being allowed to wear the hijab.

“Following my experience as then-regiment commander of the Civil Military Operations Regiment that had administrative control over the ‘hijab troopers’ and then later on employing them as their brigade commander in Marawi, I said to myself, this time as the commandant of cadets, why not allow the female Muslim cadets to wear the hijab in respect of their Islamic beliefs,” Brig. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., the PMA commandant of cadets, told Arab News.

The “hijab troopers” were female soldiers who provided vital support to communities traumatized by the 2017 siege of Marawi — a months-long armed conflict between Philippine security forces and Daesh-affiliated militants.

“I met all the Muslim cadets to ask for their opinion,” Brawner added. “They agreed. We are now finalizing the standard operating procedure on the wearing of the hijab by female Muslim cadets.”

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1679591/world

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S'pore Mufti urges Muslims to adjust, adapt and be nimble

May 25, 2020

The coronavirus cast its long shadow over Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations this year, with the traditional recitation of prayers, or takbir, confined to homes and large gatherings disallowed.

It was an inconvenience that Mufti Nazirudin Mohd Nasir put front and centre in his sermon for the occasion yesterday, when he urged Muslims to adapt to the changed circumstances and maintain a positive mindset.

His message, which also paid tribute to healthcare workers, was broadcast on radio and online channels such as Salam SG TV, but not on free-to-air television, where religious content is not allowed.

"Our ability to adjust and adapt, to be nimble and flexible, is critical to our survival and success... The more we are prepared to accept change and make adjustments, the better the likelihood of us continuing our religious practices," Dr Nazirudin said.

Hari Raya Aidilfitri marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. It is an occasion to celebrate spiritual victory, an opportunity for families to reunite and a time for feasting. Much of this was muted this year, with the 70 mosques closed and the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) reminding people days ago they should not pay visits or gather in person.

Dr Nazirudin said the community has already responded positively to the constraints imposed by the coronavirus by understanding the reasons that mosques had to be temporarily shuttered.

"(When) some said we should only fear God, not the virus, our community rejected such ideas as a distortion of our faith because it categorically says no to anything that causes danger and harm to human lives," he said.

"Our faith in Allah means we are responsible human beings."

In dormitories, migrant workers, who have been disproportionately hit by the coronavirus, were also missing their families.

Muslim workers prayed and watched the Mufti's Hari Raya sermon in their rooms. And while in previous years they might have flocked to a mosque for a celebratory spread, some 200,000 of them enjoyed a special catered lunch in their dorms instead.

In an initiative organised by the inter-agency task force supporting dorms and foreign workers, Muis and the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SMCCI), mutton briyani, chicken chop rice and cookies were sent to dorms. Some workers were in traditional clothing as they stood in line for the treat.

Muis chief executive Esa Masood said the workers have had a challenging Ramadan in the dorms.

"But I think they have really been doing their best as part of our national effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19," he said.

Housewife Juriah Bujang, 42, said the unique circumstances of this year's celebration made it "the most memorable" for her family.

"It is a little heart-wrenching because we don't get to seek forgiveness from our families like the way we are used to, kiss our elderly's hands and hug them with love, and give out green packets to the little ones," she said.

"But my family and I are thankful that we are in the pink of health. We will catch up with the rest of our family and friends when this pandemic is over."

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/spore-mufti-urges-muslims-to-adjust-adapt-and-be-nimble

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North America

 

Venezuela’s President defends right to ‘freely trade’ with Iran

25 May 2020

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro defended the right to “freely trade with Iran,” rejecting criticism following a gasoline vessel sent from the Middle East country to aid the fuel-starved South American nation.

The first of an expected five Iranian vessels bringing millions of barrels of gasoline and components have arrived, Maduro said on state TV Sunday. The socialist leader thanked Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei for the deliveries, saying Venezuela has “good and brave friends in the world.

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

Maduro defended the deal as part of a previous cooperation agreement. “We, Venezuela and Iran, want peace,” he said. “We have the right to freely trade products throughout the seas of the world.”

The delivery was announced earlier by Vice President for Economy and Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami. “Ships from our sister Islamic Republic of Iran are already in our exclusive economic zone,” El Aissami wrote on Saturday night.

Venezuela’s armed forces escorted the vessel as it entered Venezuelan waters. Iran’s embassy in Caracas also tweeted about the arrival. A second vessel, the Forest, will also soon arrive in Venezuela, Iran’s state TV news reported, without giving more details.

The shipments mark Iran’s latest effort to help Maduro’s regime. Venezuela, home to the world’s largest oil reserves, is nearly out of gasoline following years of mismanagement and US sanctions on its oil. Over the past two months, authorities have imposed rationing at gas stations nationwide, handing control over to military personnel.

The Trump administration is reviewing a host of options to deter Iran’s support for Maduro, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. Advisers to the president are urging a measured approach that doesn’t flare up US-Iran tensions over a small supply of fuel, the person said.

Iran’s foreign ministry has said any attempt by the US to stop them will be met with “a swift and decisive response.”

A crew of Iranian technicians is already at work at state-run Petroleos de Venezuela’s Cardon and Amuay refineries, as part of a broader assistance plan that’s brought over workers, supplies and parts in exchange for about 9 tons of gold, or $500 million worth.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/business/2020/05/25/Venezuela-s-President-defends-right-to-freely-trade-with-Iran.html

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Ontario churches, mosques and synagogues open for drive-in worship this weekend amid COVID-19

May 24, 2020

Just like retail, colleges and yoga instructors, religious leaders have gone online during the pandemic with live-streamed services.

But starting this weekend in Ontario, churches, synagogues and mosques are allowed to hold drive-in services.

Roger Berg, executive associate pastor of Church on the Queensway, says they've been live streaming since in-person services were put on hold in late March. But with a parking lot designed for 900 cars, he says it made sense to roll out a drive-in service.

A two-metre space will be left around each parked vehicle. And while service will be held at the usual times, they'll only be 45 minutes long.

"No one's allowed to leave their vehicle. And they can't come to use the washroom, so it'll be a short service," Berg told CBC Toronto.

The church's senior pastor will deliver his message standing on the roof of the educational wing of the building at 1536 The Queensway. He says the drive-in service will be in addition to the weekly live-streamed offering, which has been very popular with worshippers.

But Berg says his congregation needs something more.

"Where there is a real problem is the fact that they can't connect to one another; they feel isolated," he said.

"They are used to a gathering of two to three thousand people in the building and they have the opportunity to see one another," Berg added.

"Even though they can't get out of their cars they can wave to one another in their vehicles and it's a change of scenery."

U.S. President Donald Trump declared houses of worship essential services on Friday, and some church leaders here have signed a letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford asking to reopen.

At least one house of worship, the Church of God in Aylmer, Ont. sparked numerous complaints and faced the threat of fines when it held a drive-in service last month.

But Berg says his church is not in a rush.

"We're anxious to reopen, but not at all if it would cause any risk or potential harm to any of our congregants."

Others are quite content to continue with online services. For Eid celebrations this weekend, many mosques are marking the end of Ramadan online using social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

The Islamic Centre of Toronto at 1630 Neilson Rd. will also be offering an Eid Sweets Drive Thru with loot bags for kids.

Yael Splansky, the senior Rabbi of At Holy Blossom Temple on Bathurst Street near Eglinton Avenue West, says during the pandemic she's turned to the online meeting app Zoom to conduct everything from bar mitzvahs to prayers for the dead.

'This is a gift that we've been given'

"People are very grateful. People are expressing real gratitude because we're able to provide connections while they're sitting in isolation," she said..

"We're providing an anchor in something that is old and lasting. Prayer ritual brings them to something larger than themselves and when the world has been turned upside down, it is very reassuring to go back to things that endure."

And she says, the streamed services have been so successful, they will likely continue post-COVID-19.

"In some ways, this is a gift that we've been given, to slow down a little and return to the things that last and that ground us."

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-churches-mosques-and-synagogues-open-for-drive-in-worship-1.5581500?cmp=rss

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Thousands celebrate socially distant Eid with drive-thru gifts at Mississauga mosque

May 24, 2020

A Toronto-area mosque said it was still able to celebrate Eid on Sunday with a physically distant drive-thru celebration with thousands of congregants.

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) said roughly 2,000 cars with multiple people inside were able to take part in Mississauga, Ont., where mosque staff handed out gift bags for families.

Chihab Kaab, chair of ISNA's board, said they had planned to start the event at 10 a.m., but cars had already started lining up an hour early.

"It was truly the spirit of Eid and it was the celebration that people needed," said Kaab. Spirits were high and people were able to enjoy Eid despite the global pandemic, he said.

"There were big smiles from everybody even though there were long lineups in the street."

Eid al-Fitr is an Islamic holiday that celebrates the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, in which people go without food or drink from sunrise to sunset. Usually, hundreds and thousands of Muslims crowd into neighbourhood mosques or gather at parks for a congregational prayer and sermon before embracing with others and visiting homes for food and drink throughout the day.

Kaab said people had brought cards to show appreciation for the team of people putting on the event.

The mosque also prepared an online video which showed kids how to interact with some of the gifts they were given, such as decorative henna.

There was also a prepared sermon, and then a video explaining how families can do the Eid prayer at home, rather than in a congregational setting.

Mosques around the country had planned other ways to celebrate the holiday while remaining physically distant, including some that planned to live stream the prayer and sermon.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/mississauga-mosque-drive-thru-eid-1.5582983?cmp=rss

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Europe

 

British-Muslim entrepreneur ‘felt so privileged’ after performing call to prayer in London’s Canary Wharf

ZAYNAB KHOJJI

May 25, 2020

LONDON: When Kazi Shafiqur Rahman performed a call to prayer in the heart of London’s financial district, he had little idea of the scale of reaction his performance would draw.

Within hours of delivering the adhan at sunset in Canary Wharf, the video had gone viral and Rahman was flooded with messages of goodwill from people of all faiths worldwide.

Rahman, 34, told Arab News that he thought nothing of performing the adhan, which he does in the style associated with the Grand Mosque in Makkah, when he was first asked.

But he said once he was in position outside the One Canada Square Skyscraper with sunset approaching, he started to feel the pressure.

“When I did the sound test, I could see passers-by and drivers stopping to have a look, and by the end of the test there were quite a few people watching me, waiting to see what was happening,” the British-Bangladeshi entrepreneur said. “This is when I started feeling nervous and could feel the pressure.”

Arab News

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Rahman is no stranger to performing the adhan in public, and has spent years perfecting the delivery of it in the style of the Grand Mosque’s head muezzin Sheikh Ali Ahmad Mulla.

Mulla has been a muezzin at the Grand Mosque since 1975 and his voice is recognized by Muslims worldwide regardless of whether they have visited the holy city.

His voice, which featured on cassette tape recordings of the Qur’an in the 1980s and 1990s, is broadcast on Arab TV channels, and more recently has been used by prayer apps.

Mulla has also been labeled the Bilal of the Grand Mosque, an honorific reference to the Prophet Muhammad’s companion Bilal who was chosen by the prophet to be Islam’s first muezzin because of his beautiful voice.

“I’ve been a huge fan of Sheikh Ali Ahmad Mulla since I was a child,” Rahman said. “I have a talent for mimicking people, and as a child I’d accompany my father to Islamic talks and events.

“For the sunset prayer, my father would always put me forward to perform the adhan. He would even talk to the organizers and ask them to allow me to do the adhan.

“This put me under a lot of pressure to perfect the Makkah style adhan, and I’d listen to cassette recordings of it repeatedly every day.

“When I went to Makkah in 2008, I heard Sheikh Mulla perform the adhan live for the first time and I was blown away. It was then that I fine-tuned the version I’d learnt, and I perfected it when I came back.”

Rahman said there is much more room for improvement as Sheikh Mulla’s adhan is “absolutely amazing.”

The London-based entrepreneur was asked to perform the adhan in public in Canary Wharf as part of an event organized by Tower Hamlets London Borough Council, Tower Hamlets Homes and Canary Wharf Group.

“The organizers wanted to show appreciation to the Muslim community and engage with it. Many Asian Muslims live in this area, and this was a goodwill gesture to them during lockdown Ramadan,” Rahman said, adding that he agreed to the request without hesitation.

“The most important thing is that the comments were so positive. Even non-Muslims were commenting on how beautiful the adhan was. It’s amazing. I feel so privileged when I look back at the event.”

Wearing a Saudi thobe and ghutra added a finishing touch to Rahman’s performance. “I performed the adhan in the style of Makkah’s head muezzin, so the way I dressed completed the whole performance,” he said.

“People from all over the world have reached out to me saying how inspired they’ve been by me performing the adhan in Canary Wharf.

“My brother posted the video of me performing the adhan on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. It went viral and spread like wildfire. I didn’t imagine the event to become so big.

“Mohamed Hadid, the father of Gigi and Bella Hadid, also shared the video of me performing the adhan on Instagram.”

The event has motivated Rahman to learn how to perform in styles associated with different regions of the Muslim world.

“After performing the adhan in Canary Wharf, I’ve been inspired to practice performing the adhan in different styles, including the Madinah one,” he said.

“My dream is to be able to perform the adhan at the Grand Mosque in Makkah, even if it’s just a one-off.”

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1679526/world

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Greece dismisses reports Turkish troops occupied border strip

24 May 2020

Greece on Sunday dismissed reports that Turkish soldiers had occupied a strip of Greek territory in the Evros border region, where Athens is expanding a fence to keep migrants out.

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said allegations, picked up by the the British press, that Turkish troops had occupied a patch of land that is normally submerged at this time of year on Greece’s side of the border were “utterly false.”

Dendias acknowledged, in an interview with Skai TV, that “a presence of Turkish forces has been observed in a strip of land where some preparatory works had been made by the Greek army” after Athens would not give Turkey the coordinates of its fence expansion in Evros in advance.

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

But Greece had asked Turkey “not to make any other move in the area,” he said.

The Greek defense ministry had already on Saturday said that “at no time Greek soil has been occupied by foreign forces.”

Turkish special forces have been present in recent weeks as the Greek Army conducts preparatory work for the expansion of the border fence to prevent massive crossings from migrants.

“We will proceed with the fence expansion. It is our constitutional obligation to protect Greek soil,” Dendias said.

Tensions ran high in March when Turkey encouraged tens of thousands of asylum-seekers to travel to the border with Greece and try to cross into the European Union.

For days, there were skirmishes on the border as migrants trying to break through threw stones at Greek riot police who fired tear gas at them.

Turkish police also bombarded Greek forces with tear gas, and Athens accused the Turkish police of handing out wire cutters to migrants to help them break through the fence.

Greek border forces have also claimed that Turkish troops have recently fired shots into the air.

Ankara has accused Athens of beating migrants and firing live rounds at them, alleging that some died of bullet injuries.

The Greek government has denied using undue force.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/05/24/Greece-dismisses-reports-Turkish-troops-occupied-border-strip-.html

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How Ukraine’s Muslims celebrate Eid

May 24, 2020

DUBAI: Although Eid Al-Fitr is an Islamic festivity, a big part of its celebration is inspired, or at least partly derived from, local tradition. How Muslims mark the occasion differs according to geography.

Comprising only 1-2 percent of Ukraine’s population of almost 42 million, Muslims have created their own ways to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr.

Apart from attending the Eid prayer in the mosque of the Islamic Cultural Center in Kiev, Olha Fryndak likes to decorate the house and buy her four kids gifts.

“For something homemade or cooked, we usually bake cakes. We’re used to this. If there’s a festivity then there’s cake,” Fryndak, head of the Ukrainian Muslimahs League, told Arab News.

Like Muslims in other regions, Ukrainians also like to gather with loved ones to mark the occasion.

“It could be the first or second day. We try to find a day that suits everyone because sometimes it (Eid) could fall on a working or school day,” Fryndak said.

As Ukraine is a secular country with a Christian Orthodox majority, not all Muslims get to take a day off work during the festivity.

On May 18, President Volodymyr Zelensky said he planned to sign a decree that would add Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha to the state’s religious holidays.

When the celebration is during the warmer months, “we usually try to organize a picnic in the park or forest — barbeque, fruits, veggies,” Fryndak said.

Hundreds of kilometers away in the city of Dnipro, while on his way to visit Ukrainian Muslim soldiers in Donetsk, Evhen Hluschenko described how he and his family celebrate Eid.

“In our family, a small tradition was created were I always gift my wife some kind of sweets, like a special kind of sweets,” Hluschenko, an imam in the city of Kharkiv, told Arab News.

“Ukrainian Muslims are trying to create their own traditions for these festivities and for Ramadan,” he said.

“We’re embracing Islamic traditions in everyday life and behavior, but Islam doesn’t dictate any national traditions, which is why we’re trying to fill that vacuum.”

As this Eid he will be spending the first day visiting soldiers and away from his family, the imam had already hidden his wife’s gift so she could find it when the festivity starts.

Most Islamic countries determine the start of Ramadan and both Eids through special committees dedicated to sighting the moon.

“We have a special committee for fatwas (religious edicts). Imams and sheikhs with religious education, collectively according to the Islamic principle of shoura (consultation) decide on such pressing matters,” Ukraine’s Mufti Said Ismagilov told Arab News.

The Religious Administration of Muslims of Ukraine also follows the recommendations of Turkey, as it is geographically the closest Islamic country, as well as the European Council for Fatwa and Research, Ismagilov added.

Due to coronavirus regulations, Ukraine’s Muslims — like others worldwide — were unable to perform any Taraweeh prayers nor the Eid prayer in mosques.

“Nearly 4,000 Muslims gathered to perform Eid prayer” at the mosque of the Islamic Cultural Center in Kiev before the spread of COVID-19, Ismagilov said.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1679426/world

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EU ambassador urges Eid cease-fire in Libya

Mucahit Aydemir  

24.05.2020

The EU ambassador to Libya has called on warring parties to stop clashes and mark Eid al-Fitr, holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, in peace.

Alan Bugeja urged Libyan army and militias of warlord Khalifa Haftar “to respect the spirituality of Eid al-Fitr and allow the holidays to be celebrated in peace and compassion, which is the basis of the religion of Islam.”

"While this year's Eid al-Fitr is being celebrated, Libyans, besides suffering from the coronavirus pandemic, still continue to be affected by the war that has caused death, destruction and displacement. It is time to hear the ongoing calls to end conflicts and return to dialogue,” Bugeja said in a statement on Saturday.

Libya's government, which has been under attack by Haftar's forces since April 2019, launched Operation Peace Storm on March 26 to counter attacks on the capital Tripoli.

Earlier this month, the army retook Al-Watiya airbase after about six years under putschist forces.

Al-Watiya is a key airbase, second only to Mitiga International Airport. It was captured in 2014 by Haftar, who used it as his headquarters for attacks on the legitimate government.

Following the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya's government was founded in 2015 under a UN-led political agreement.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/eu-ambassador-urges-eid-cease-fire-in-libya/1852293

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Cleared former Barclays head to give evidence in London Qatar trial

Paul Peachey

May 24, 2020

Barclays Bank’s former chief executive is set to give evidence in a £1.6 billion (Dh7.15bn) legal battle over “secret” payments to Qatar – a year after he was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing connected to the 2008 deal.

John Varley, who led Barclays from 2004 to 2010, is due to appear as a witness on behalf of the bank in a legal claim brought by financier Amanda Staveley.

Ms Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners says the bank lied to other Gulf investors about larger commission payments to Qatar for investments during the 2008 financial crisis that staved off a government takeover.

Barclays is defending the claim, saying Qatar was not given secret commissions but was paid extra for providing introductions and other business services.

The bank’s former investment chief for the Middle East, Roger Jenkins, is also due to give evidence in a case that is expected to start in June and run for two months.

While criminal charges against Mr Varley were dropped in 2019 because of insufficient evidence, Mr Jenkins stood trial with two other senior bankers following a complex, eight-year investigation by the UK agency, which prosecutes white-collar crime.

They were accused of involvement in a plot to funnel £322 million in secret payments to Qatar in return for £4bn of rescue funding. The three men were all acquitted in February of fraud, clearing the way for the delayed civil case to go ahead.

Mr Varley and Mr Jenkins played key roles in negotiations with Qatar, then headed by Sheikh Hamad Al Thani.

The two men and Ms Staveley are all due to give evidence in person at London’s High Court, a judge was told on Friday at a hearing conducted through Skype because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Justice Waksman said a decision on who could give evidence through video would be made closer to the trial.

https://www.thenational.ae/business/cleared-former-barclays-head-to-give-evidence-in-london-qatar-trial-1.1024245

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South Asia

 

Ghani responds to Taliban’s gesture of goodwill, vows to release 2000 prisoners

25 May 2020

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani responded to the gesture of goodwill by Taliban group and vowed to release 2,000 Taliban prisoners.

The Office of the President, ARG Palace, in a statement said President Ghani convened a meeting in ARG Palace late on Sunday to discuss the release of Taliban prisoners in return to Taliban’s gesture of goodwill for announcing ceasefire during Eid Days.

Ghani had earlier ordered the Afghan forces to return to defense posture while welcoming the announcement of ceasefire by Taliban during Eid Days.

In his speech on the occasion of Eid Al-Fitr, Ghani vowed that the government would expedite the release of Taliban prisoners.

Ghani also called on Taliban militants to reciprocate and release the prisoners of the Afghan government.

This comes as the Taliban group released a statement late on Saturday night, instructing its fighters to refrain from offensive activities.

https://www.khaama.com/ghani-responds-to-talibans-gesture-of-goodwill-vows-to-release-2000-prisoners-08860/

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Ghani’s order to Afghan forces after declaration of ceasefire by Taliban

24 May 2020

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani ordered the Afghan forces to return to defense posture while welcoming the announcement of ceasefire by Taliban during Eid Days.

In his speech on the occasion of Eid Al-Fitr, Ghani vowed that the government would expedite the release of Taliban prisoners.

Ghani also called on Taliban militants to reciprocate and release the prisoners of the Afghan government.

Meanwhile, Ghani said a comprehensive and inclusive negotiating team has been formed and the government is prepared to immediately start intra-Afghan talks.

Emphasizing that stability of the region has links with the stability in Afghanistan, Ghani urged the neighboring nations to continue to their support to Afghanistan in its efforts to bring peace and stability.

This comes as the Taliban group released a statement late on Saturday night, instructing its fighters to refrain from offensive activities.

https://www.khaama.com/ghanis-order-to-afghan-forces-after-declaration-of-ceasefire-by-taliban-08859/

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Africa

 

Libya’s LNA captures 12 Syrian fighters in south of Tripoli: Statement

24 May 2020

The Libyan National Army announced on Saturday that it had captured 12 Syrian fighters in Yarmouk camp, south of Libya’s capital Tripoli, according to a statement.

The announcement is the latest report of Syrian foreign fighters being used in the ongoing war for Libya between the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Benghazi-based LNA, led by Gen. Khalifa Haftar. The GNA, which is backed by Turkey, has been accused of bringing in mercenary fighters from Syria.

Armed forces targeted fighters after ambushing and luring them into the camp, the LNA’s official Media War Information Division said in a statement on Facebook. The division also said several fighters were killed in the ambush.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Saturday also said that seven Syrian fighters had been killed in Libya.

The Facebook announcement came after Gen. Haftar declared that every Turkish fighter who “stepped on Libyan territory” or any mercenary sent by Turkey would be a “legitimate target,” during a broadcast speech on Saturday.

Turkey has been accused of using its influence with Syrian opposition groups to channel mercenaries to Libya. Syrian mercenaries who were captured after fighting with the GNA previously told Al Arabiya that Turkey had tricked them into fighting in Libya.

The Syrian Observatory recently said that pro-Turkish factions’ losses in Libya have been increasing, with the death toll reaching more than 300.

Turkey continues to send mercenaries to fight with the GNA with dozens of new fighters having arrived in Libya a few days ago, according to the observatory.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2020/05/24/Libya-s-LNA-captures-12-Syrian-fighters-in-south-of-Tripoli-Statement.html

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Jordan launches platform for third repatriation phase

May 25, 2020

DUBAI: Jordan has launched a website to help in the implementation of the country’s third phase of repatriation for citizens wanting to return to the Kingdom, state news agency Petra reported citing the Director of the Coronavirus Crisis Cell Brig. Gen. Mazen Al-Faraya.

People can submit their repatriation applications at safelyhome.gov.jo, with flights operating from Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Riyadh, Armenia, Sudan, Egypt, Turkey, Chicago, Montreal, Qatar, Istanbul, and Cairo.

Al-Faraya said Jordanians can also be moved by sea and via land crossings after submitting applications on safelyhome2.gov.jo.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1679681/middle-east

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African Muslims celebrate virtual Eid under lockdown

Hassan Isilow

24.05.2020

JOHANNESBURG

Millions of Muslims in Africa began celebrating Eid al-Fitr holidays Sunday under tight coronavirus restrictions including bans on congregational prayers at mosques as well as dawn-to-dusk curfews in some countries.

Eid al-Fitr, a three-day Muslim holiday, marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, during which the faithful fast most of the day, and is usually celebrated by lavish daytime feasts and gatherings.

Muslims would usually invite each other to feast and celebrate at their homes after finishing Eid payers early in the morning at mosques or sports grounds.

However with the ongoing restrictions stopping many people from gathering, most Muslims on the continent held their prayers at home to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Today we celebrate Eid-al Fitr in a surreal manner,” said Imam Rashid Omar of the Claremont Main Road Mosque in Cape Town, South Africa in a video sermon.

“We rejoice at having successfully completed our Ramadan fasting and devotions but at the same time we feel sad that we are unable to celebrate Eid physically with our loved ones.”

He said with mosques closed, Muslims had to forego their traditional practices of greeting each other with handshakes and warm hugs for completing the holy fasting month.

Omar said Muslims are thankful to God despite the challenging times they are experiencing, because they were able to complete Ramadan.

“This is the first Eid-al Fitr in my entire life that I have prayed at home. I miss joining some of my family to celebrate with them,” Cape Town resident Hassen Mohammed told Anadolu Agency via telephone.

Some Muslims in South Africa started observing Eid on Sunday while others will begin on Monday.

“I have resorted to using different social media platforms to get in touch with some of my family and friends who I can’t invite over to feast with me,” Mohammed said.

Most countries in Africa have also imposed night curfews barring people from moving late, restricting those who would stay out during nighttime.

Rwanda

In Rwanda, Muslims held Eid prayers and celebrations from their homes due to restrictions to contain the novel coronavirus.

In the past, national Eid prayers would be held at Nyamirambo regional stadium in the capital Kigali, but this year Muslim leaders held sermons via electronic media.

In a sermon broadcast on television, Sheikh Salim Hitimana, the mufti of Rwandan, urged Muslims to continue good acts practiced during the just-concluded holy month of Ramadan.

Hitimana also called for peaceful coexistence between Muslims and non-Muslims across the globe.

Uganda

Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubaje, the mufti of Uganda, joined a few government and Muslim leaders at the national mosque in the capital Kampala for Eid prayers.

The leaders prayed several meters from each other, as required by COVID-19 restrictions.

Mubajje requested that the government ease restrictions on places of worship, which have been under lockdown for the past two months.

“We need to pray in mosques. Since the situation on COVID-19 has improved, I request the government to allow us to go back to our mosques,” he said.

Mubajje urged Muslims to continue praying to Allah to save the world from the deadly pandemic, which has claimed countless lives.

President Yoweri Museveni, who usually hosts an Eid dinner for Ugandan Muslim leaders, said he would not host it this time due to the pandemic.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/african-muslims-celebrate-virtual-eid-under-lockdown/1852673

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Nigeria: Scores attend mass Eid prayers despite warning

Olarewaju Kola  

24.05.2020

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria

Scores of Muslims in Nigeria performed Eid al-Fitr prayers on Sunday amid the threat of coronavirus, and warning against mass gatherings.

Boss Mustapha, head of the presidential team on COVID-19, warned against gathering of worshippers for Eid, which marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"Gathering for Eid prayers at this time may affect the gains we have recorded in the containment of coronavirus pandemic," he said on Friday while giving virus updates in Abuja, the nation's capital.

About 25 of the 37 states in the federation defied the warning as they announced designated and approved grounds for the special congregational prayers but with strict compliance to COVID-19 measures including hand washing and use of face masks.

Nigeria's President Mohammadu Buhari performed Eid prayers at a mosque inside the Aso Rock Presidential Villa with his family, local media reported.

He usually travels to his home town Daura in the notthwestern Katsina State for the festival.

Nigeria currently has 7,526 confirmed virus cases with over 221 deaths, according to the latest figures by National Centre for Disease Control.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/nigeria-scores-attend-mass-eid-prayers-despite-warning/1852464

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Ethiopia: No mass Eid prayers but festive spirit alive

Addis Getachew

24.05.2020

Although Ethiopian Muslims on Sunday missed holding mass Eid al-Fitr prayers due to the coronavirus pandemic, they celebrated the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan with festive spirit.

In the capital Addis Ababa, shops and supermarkets were open on the eve of Eid. While some virus restrictions were in place, the city was not in lockdown, with the mayor warning doing so could have “serious economic consequences.”

Hajji Mufti Omar Idris, the much-revered and beloved head of the Islamic Affairs Supreme Council, called on Muslims to maintain the spirit of charity during Eid as they did during the month of fasting.

Though celebrations were marred by the virus, the festival brought a blessing for the Muslim community: the start of construction of a new Islamic Research Center and the biggest mosque yet in the capital.

“We will build both to serve the Muslim community,” said the mufti (expert on Islamic law) after taking over the site for the center and mosque from Takele Uma, the city's deputy mayor.

The site is prime and spacious, next to the high-rise headquarters of the Commission of the African Union.

'Better late than never'

African affairs analyst Omar Redi, who also owns Iffriqiyah Media and Communications, said the Islamic center is long overdue.

“Addis Ababa is the capital not only for Ethiopia but all of Africa ... it is long overdue but deserving,” he told Anadolu Agency.

“Given Ethiopia’s Islamic history, having the largest Muslim population in East Africa, and its capital with one of the largest diplomatic communities in the world, it needed to have such a center long ago.”

“Better late than never,” he said, adding: “It is never too late for such undertakings… I really hope that all stakeholders will make sure the project becomes a reality in the shortest time possible."

Commenting on Ramadan and Eid during the virus outbreak, he said the essence of the holy month such as large congregational prayers and gatherings of families, friends, and relatives for prayers and iftar (meal after sunset) were missed.

“It was a blessing in disguise... I hope we had enough time to contemplate how we took everything for granted, and how we abused nature,” Redi said.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/ethiopia-no-mass-eid-prayers-but-festive-spirit-alive/1852265

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URL: https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/eid-mubarak--wishes-from-pm-modi-to-president-kovind-on-festival-of-brotherhood-and-harmony/d/121940

 

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