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Fast For Unity: Non-Muslims Around The World Take On Ramazan Fasting Challenge To Help Tackle Islamophobia

New Age Islam News Bureau

29 April 2022


British Singer Kate Stables was one of the non-Muslims who took part in the fasting challenge. (Instagram/@thisisthekit)


• Taliban Instructs Salons Not To Trim Men's Hair To Avoid Western Influence

• Pakistan Human Rights Watch Asks Pakistan To Amend ‘Blood Money’ Laws To Deliver Justice

• New Videos Appear To Show US Choppers Transferring Daesh Terrorists In Iraq

• Muslim Bodies in India Appeal For Calm Ahead Of Eid In The Wake Of The Recent Communal Violence



• UN Requests International Support For Palestinian Rights Groups Falsely Labelled ‘Terrorists’ By Israel

• Russia to Work Towards ‘Full Diplomatic Recognition of the Taliban’ Under Conditions

• UN Yemen envoy seeks to rescue truce, resume flights from Sanaa airport


South Asia

• Beijing-Nangarhar to Build 150-Factory Industrial Park in Kabul

• Islamic State Claims Two Bomb Blasts That Killed At Least 9 on Minibuses in Afghan City

• Blasts On Vans Carrying Shi'ite Muslims In Northern Afghanistan Kill Nine

• Taliban Frees 35 Prisoners to Honour Eid

• A Pakistan Charity Hands over 8 Trucks of Relief Goods to Afghan Authorities



• Slogan-Chanting At Masjid-e-Nabwi Against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif: Political, Religious Leadership Denounce Incident

• Pakistan Agencies Suspect Presence Of More Female Baluchistan Liberation Army Suicide Bombers

• Pakistan anti-graft watchdog starts inquiry against ex-PM's family friend

• China asks its firms in Pak to heighten security for staff after Karachi suicide attack: Official

• Swearing-in of Hamza being ‘arrogantly prevented’, says Maryam

• Terrorists infiltrating from Afghanistan: KP IG


North America

• Pakistan’s Consulate Honours Distinguished Pakistani-Americans At An Iftar

• Ex-US envoy to Pakistan pleads guilty to undisclosed lobbying for Qatar

• Are Arab Americans playing enough of a role in helping to forge US policies?



• Muslim Bodies in India Appeal For Calm Ahead Of Eid In The Wake Of The Recent Communal Violence

• Gyanvapi Mosque Near Kashi Vishwanath Temple Not A Waqf Property: Counsel For Temple

• Seven Arrested In UP's Ayodhya For Throwing Objectionable Items At Mosques

• Ban On Ramzan Prayers In Srinagar Mosque Draws Flak

• 2 terrorists, involved in attacks on migrant labourers, killed in Pulwama encounter

• India, Bangladesh made good progress in bilateral ties: Jaishankar


Southeast Asia

• After PJ MP Sentenced For ‘Insulting’ Shariah Judiciary, Fellow Lawmakers Say Judges Not Immune From Criticism

• Cutting wages of those working from home unjustified, say unions

• Lawyer says MAIP’s bid to vary custody order will not prejudice Loh, children

• We can probe any public official, including judges, says MACC

• There are ‘rats and cats’ in PH’s ‘big tent’, says Hadi

• Promise to add halal vaccine to Indonesia booster programme


Arab World

• Arab Coalition To Release 163 Houthi Prisoners In ‘Humanitarian Initiative’

• Suspected ISIS Gunmen Kill 7 Syrians At Ramazan Iftar Meal

• Lebanon oil spill clean-up continues over one year after catastrophe

• Bashar al-Assad's family likely worth $1-2 billion, US report says

• Saudi King, Crown Prince receive Turkey’s Erdogan during his first visit since 2017



• Israel PM Naftali Bennett’s Family Receives Death Threat And Bullet In Mail

• Sheikh Sabri: Israel set to desecrate Aqsa Mosque, facilitate incursions by extremists

• People worldwide mark Quds Day in solidarity with Palestinians

• Houthi: Co-existence with Israeli regime impossible

• IRGC chief: Resistance sole way to liberation of Palestine

• At least 42 hurt in clashes at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound: Report

• Iran moves centrifuge-parts workshop underground at Natanz, IAEA says

• Scores injured after Palestinians clash with Israeli police at Jerusalem holy site



• Tinubu Urges Prayers For Nigeria As Assembly Holds Tawaf In Mecca

• Somalia elects speaker, paves way for presidential vote

• Nigerians rally in solidarity with Palestinians on Intl. Quds Day

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Fast For Unity: Non-Muslims Around The World Take On Ramazan Fasting Challenge To Help Tackle Islamophobia


British Singer Kate Stables was one of the non-Muslims who took part in the fasting challenge. (Instagram/@thisisthekit)


Sarah Glubb

April 28, 2022

LONDON: Non-Muslims around the world took part in two Ramazan challenges this month designed to show solidarity with Muslims against a rising tide of Islamophobia, and improve religious tolerance and understanding.

People from more than 25 countries took part in the annual Fast For Unity and the 30-Day Ramazan Hijab Challenge initiatives, both of which are organized by the World Hijab Day Organization, a non-profit group that aims to counter discrimination against Muslims. They began on the first day of Ramazan, which this year fell on April 2.

The fasting challenge “invites non-Muslims to fast for a day, two, 10 or all 30 to experience how Muslims fast and go on a spiritual journey of self-reflection, self-discipline, and take a stand against Islamophobia,” the organization told Arab News.

British Singer Kate Stables was one of the non-Muslims who took part in the challenge. In a message posted on Instagram, she said this is the second year she has done so and added: “I’ve found that there’s a lot to learn from changing gear completely for a month and taking the time and space to think about what I’m doing and how I’m doing it, and the world and people around me.

“And as the name suggests, #FastForUnity is an initiative to dismantle Islamophobia and to join us together in our communities regardless of religion or differences. More acceptance and empathy everyone, please.”

The hijab challenge, also known as the #Hijab30, was launched in 2014. It invites “women of all ethnic backgrounds to don the hijab for 30 days to take a stand to end discrimination against women in hijabs and respect individual choices.”

The organization behind the challenges is based in New York and was founded in 2013. It organizes World Hijab Day on Feb. 1 each year, in recognition of the millions of Muslim women who choose to wear the traditional head covering, along with a number of other initiatives.

For example, it has also launched a campaign to raise money to support efforts to foster healthy environments for Muslim students in the US, and said that there has been an increase in donations during the last 10 days of Ramazan. These final days of the holy month hold special significance for Muslims, who believe that the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad on one of those days.

The World Hijab Day Organization said that a report published in 2021 by the Massachusetts branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations “revealed that 61 percent of Muslim students in the US have been mocked, verbally harassed or physically abused for their Muslim faith.”

Meanwhile the American Muslim Poll, carried by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in 2020, found that “30 percent of Muslim students said that a teacher or other school official was the source of the bullying.”

The donations will go toward “creating educational workshops for schools to promote a safe, healthy and inclusive environment for Muslim students,” and provide “school administrators and teachers with tools to shatter bigotry, discrimination and prejudice, which will ultimately help their whole classroom learn better.”

Source: Arab News

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Taliban Instructs Salons Not To Trim Men's Hair To Avoid Western Influence


After the Taliban left power, hair salons became increasingly popular among Afghan men. Getty Images


Apr 28, 2022

KABUL (AFGHANISTAN): Taliban have reportedly instructed salons in Afghanistan's Herat province not to cut men's hair especially students, to avoid the influence of the West.

According to the vernacular media, the group also warned public and private universities that female students should wear a burqa in the classroom.

Earlier, the Taliban's ministry for the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice demanded male government workers must sport a full beard to work or risk losing their job.

Employees of various government ministries were reportedly barred from work because they had trimmed their beards or were not wearing appropriate clothing in accordance with the Taliban's interpretation of Islamic law.

As the Taliban took control of Afghanistan once again after 20 years, experts also believe that Afghan women are most likely to face an uncertain future under the terrorist group regime.

Apart from it, the group had earlier banned live music at weddings and ordered men and women to celebrate in different halls, an owner of a hotel in Afghanistan in October told Sputnik.

Amid the crackdown, the Taliban have also ordered the beheading of "mannequins" in clothing stores in the Herat province of Afghanistan, according to reported Sputnik News Agency, citing Afghan media.

Taliban cracks down on "mannequins" used in clothing stores saying that it is a breach of the Shariah law.

Signs of such incidents have started re-appearing on the streets of Kabul. The Taliban's ministry for the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice had also issued "religious guidelines" calling on Afghanistan's TV channels to stop showing women in dramas and soap operas.

Source: Times Of India

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Pakistan Human Rights Watch Asks Pakistan To Amend ‘Blood Money’ Laws To Deliver Justice


Representative Photo: First India


28 April, 2022

Islamabad [Pakistan], April 28 (ANI): Highlighting the “severe miscarriage of justice” due to Pakistan’s existing infamous “blood money” laws since 1990, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday called on the government to amend provisions of the criminal law that allow for murder and other serious offenses as “private disputes”.

The provisions, popularly called “blood money” laws are the result of a 1990 Presidential Ordinance that amended the Pakistan Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code ostensibly to make them more consistent with Islam following a court decision that held that murder and several other serious offenses should not be treated as offenses against the state but as private disputes.

The Ordinance went further than the court decision, which had made a distinction between deliberate and unintentional murder and had allowed for the possibility of a “compromise” only in the case of unintentional murder. The Ordinance, however, did not make such a distinction.

The Pakistani legal system’s treatment of murder cases as private disputes instead of as an offense against the state has had a disastrous impact on the administration of justice, Human Rights Watch said.

“The Pakistan justice system’s treatment of murder as a private dispute sabotages the rights of victims to seek justice and of all Pakistanis to have equal protection of the law,” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“No state should act as a bystander in dealing with egregious crimes, which favors people accused of these crimes who are wealthy or powerful,” she added.

The rights group went on to cite several examples of cases where the draconian criminal laws led to severe crimes going unpunished.

In one example, on November 3 last year, the severely bruised body of Nazim Jokhio, a local activist, was discovered at a farmhouse in Malir, Karachi, Sindh province, HRW said.

Days before his death, Jokhio had filmed foreign guests of the farmhouse owners hunting a houbura bustard, an endangered bird, and had asked them to stop.

On March 30, Shireen Jokhio, the victim’s wife, posted a recorded video message on social media saying that she was “forgiving” the accused and would no longer pursue the case because she is “weak” and cannot fight the case “alone.”

In another instance, in September 2019, Salahuddin Ayubi, who had been arrested for robbing an ATM, was found dead in police custody. Ayubi’s body bore marks of torture. His family said he had mental health disabilities. His father filed a criminal case against three police officers alleging that his son was tortured to death, but in October 2019, Ayubi’s family “pardoned” the police officers and declined to prosecute the case.

Other rights groups, such as Amnesty International, have also emphasized the need for revoking such provisions from the country’s criminal law. (ANI)

Source: The Print

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New Videos Appear To Show US Choppers Transferring Daesh Terrorists In Iraq


Thermal cameras record US choppers transferring Daesh terrorists across Iraq, PMU leader say Representative Photo: Hans India


29 April 2022

In yet another manifestation of Washington’s scandalous complicity with remnants of the Daesh terrorist group in Iraq, new footage has emerged apparently showing the transfer of the members of the Takfiri terror outfit by US helicopters across certain regions in the Arab country.

The video, which went viral in Iraqi media on Thursday, vividly showed Washington’s role in moving Daesh terrorists by US Army CH-47 Chinook helicopters inside Iraq.

An informed source recently leaked information to the Iraqi media that US Chinook helicopters are constantly moving “unknown and suspicious” elements inside the Arab country.

The source told Baghdad Al-Yaum that the observation of US moves in Iraq over the past five days showed “two Daesh transfers by US helicopters” in Hamrin Mountains near the city of Baquba, the capital of Iraq’s eastern province of Diyala, and around Canaan Desert, 30 kilometers east of Baquba, as part of a “highly confidential operation.”

Sabereen News, a Telegram news channel associated with Iraqi anti-terror Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) – better known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi – released on Thursday a video of two American helicopters in an area of Iraq’s northern province of Kirkuk while moving a number of terrorists.

Sabereen said the video showed American AUG-122 helicopters transferring “three Daesh elements” from the scene of clashes with Iraqi army forces near the village of Birmehidi in Kirkuk Province.

The US embassy in Baghdad has yet to comment on the video or the role of US forces in supporting terrorists in Iraq.

Iraqi anti-terror groups have repeatedly released footage of such moves and duplicitous acts by American forces, who have over the past two decades launched a military campaign under the pretext of countering terrorism across the Arab country.

Qassem al-Kuraiti, a PMU leader, told Arabic-language al-Ahad television network last year that thermal cameras installed in the country’s central province of Salahuddin had recorded US military helicopters transferring Daesh terrorists to various locations across the country.

Iraq declared victory over Daesh in December 2017 after a three-year counter-terrorism military campaign, which also had the support of neighboring Iran.

The terror outfit’s remnants, though, keep staging sporadic attacks across Iraq, attempting to regroup and unleash fresh violence.

Daesh has intensified its terrorist attacks in Iraq since January 2020, when the United States assassinated top Iranian anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and PMU’s deputy commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis near Baghdad International Airport.

Anti-US sentiments sharply increased in Iraq in the aftermath of the assassination, prompting Iraqi lawmakers to pass a bill – only two days after the terrorist attack – that required the Baghdad government to end the presence of all foreign military forces led by Washington.

The US was finally forced to end its “combat mission” in Iraq by the end of 2021, but Iraqi resistance groups say the Pentagon’s so-called advisory role has to end as well.

Source: Press TV

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Muslim Bodies in India Appeal For Calm Ahead Of Eid In The Wake Of The Recent Communal Violence


Representative Photo


28th April 2022

New Delhi: Muslim bodies have appealed for calm and peace ahead of Eid next week in the wake of the recent communal violence.

An open letter signed by the President of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind and 14 other bodies, said: “All Muslims should remain calm and composed both on their way to the Eidgah and also while returning home. They should not fall prey to anyone who tries to provoke and instigate them. Use very careful and clear language in the Eid sermon, so that nothing you say can be distorted.

“Religious festivals that provide an opportunity to foster mutual brotherhood, love and unity have been turned into a means of spreading hatred and furthering vested political interests by the anti-social and evil elements. Among all these developments, the month of Ramzan continues with the Eid-ul-Fitr coming a few days later.

“Muslims gather in large numbers on the last Friday of Ramazan and the ‘Lailatul Qadr’ (27th of Ramazan). Muslims should celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr by sharing their joys with their compatriots, making it an occasion for developing cordial relations with all and establishing peace and amity.”

The letter further said that no anti-social and evil element should get a chance to create mischief.

To curb anti-social elements, the Muslim bodies have advised holding of meetings with peace committees in their respective colonies and localities.

“If anyone tries to do mischief, then lodge a complaint with the local administration. Hold meetings with the local administration and try to ensure that they will not allow the law and order to be affected under any circumstances.

“Meet with the representatives of other religions at the state, district, and local levels. An appeal should also be issued to them so that people do not do anything under the pressure of any political party or any mischievous group which will spoil the atmosphere of the country,” the letter added.

The bodies also called for efforts to ensure the presence of important personalities and journalists outside the Eidgah, as well as the provision of CCTV cameras.

Responding to the appeal, Maulana Jalal Haider Naqvi of the All India Shia Council, said that “this is a precautionary measure so that community doesn’t get involved if provoked but maintain peace and harmony”.

Source: Siasat Daily

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UN Requests International Support For Palestinian Rights Groups Falsely Labelled ‘Terrorists’ By Israel


April 28, 2022

RAMALLAH: Officials at the United Nations have urged the international community to acknowledge the lack of evidence against the six Palestinian human rights organizations that Israel sanctioned and designated as “terrorist groups” in October 2021, and called on governments worldwide to resume funding those organizations.

The six groups are Al-Haq; Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association; Defense for Children International — Palestine; Bisan Center for Research and Development; the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees; and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees.

The officials criticized Israel for failing to provide any credible evidence against the organizations after banning them. They also expressed concern that Israel is abusing anti-terror laws to target and persecute Palestinian human rights and civil society organizations.

Shawan Jabarin, director of Ramallah-based Al-Haq, called the appeal against the ban “an important message from professional bodies that enjoy international respect. Although it is not binding, it reveals the falsehood of the Israeli occupation narrative.”

He told Arab News that Israel’s decision was political, not legal, and that countries’ response to it was determined by their relationship with Israel.

Jabarin believes that Israel is angered by the activities of Palestinian civil rights groups, including Al-Haq, which he said confronts Israel at international forums and exposes the crimes committed by the Israeli military and politicians against the Palestinians, including war crimes punishable under international law.

“It was easier for Israel to make a political decision and consider us a terrorist organization after it tried for 15 years to dry up our financial resources, attack our computers, and put pressure on our funders to stop their support,” said Jabarin.

Palestinian human rights institutions, including Al-Haq, played an essential role in preparing cases for the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israeli war crimes.

Al-Haq pursued foreign companies that invested in Israeli settlements and forced them to withdraw those investments, which they were told were in violation of international law.

Ghassan Al-Khatib, a Palestinian political analyst, told Arab News: “Israel has a problem with the work of Palestinian human rights institutions because they have recently succeeded in embarrassing Israel internationally over the issues of arresting children and torture. (It wants to) silence these voices that (turn) international public opinion against it.”

Al-Khatib said the harassment and persecution of these organizations has given their work and activities greater credibility internationally, especially after Israel failed to deliver on its promise to provide evidence linking the organizations to terrorism.

Sahar Francis, director of Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association, which defends jailed Palestinians, told Arab News: “At first, Israel claimed that it had a secret file that proves the six institutions’ relationship with terrorism, but the world told Israel that a secret file cannot be used against human rights institutions and that evidence must be presented.

Source: Arab News

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Russia to Work Towards ‘Full Diplomatic Recognition of the Taliban’ Under Conditions

28 Apr 2022

Kabul, Afghanistan – Russia says it wants to work towards “full diplomatic recognition” of the Taliban leadership under a condition, where the Islamic Emirate will establish an inclusive government in Afghanistan.

In recent months, Russia, China, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran have accredited the Islamic Emirate’s appointed diplomat, though all had initially refused to recognize the 8-month-old government in the country.

“We want to work towards the full diplomatic recognition of the new authorities in Afghanistan, under the understanding that they will keep their promise and form an inclusive government…,” said Sergeĭ Viktorovich Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

Considering the ethnic diversity within the country and government bodies, who now are politically Taliban members, Lavrov said the inclusivity in the caretaker government will determine Moscow’s next steps.

“…Since they now have Uzbeks, Tajiks and Hazaras in the government, they are all Taliban members politically,” he elaborated, as TOLOnews quoted. “But it is the political inclusiveness that should determine our further moves, especially since the Taliban have proclaimed this aim.”

Lavrov also said, “we have regular contact with the Taliban via our embassies, via representatives of our departments that consider issues of economic cooperation among other issues.”

Meanwhile, a political member in the country had positive thoughts on the creative of inclusive government, saying such is a must need to for Afghan people – not otherwise.

“Unless the Islamic Emirate government is inclusive, no country, neither near nor far, is ready to recognize it,” said Ishaq Gailani, head of the National Solidarity Movement of Afghanistan.

Kabul Establishes Diplomatic Ties with Russia, Bidding Formal Recognition

Tehran Accredits Islamic Emirate Diplomat Report

With a bid for full recognition at international level, the Taliban government has welcomed the discussion on “diplomatic and political relations”, saying it is a “good step”. 

“The Islamic Emirate has also taken steps in this regard, it has taken steps in the case of an accountable government that will have the support of the people and full legitimacy,” said Bilal Karimi, deputy spokesman for the Islamic Emirate.

Establishing an inclusive government, observing women’s rights, and not using Afghan soil against any other countries are some of the major conditions international community put upfront before recognizing Taliban as the formal government of Afghanistan.

Source: Khaama Press

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UN Yemen envoy seeks to rescue truce, resume flights from Sanaa airport


April 28, 2022

AL-MUKALLA: UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg said on Thursday that he is working hard to salvage the two-month truce and resume commercial flights from Houthi-controlled Sanaa amid new reports of dozens of violations of the truce across the country.

Grundberg said that the Houthis and the Yemeni government told him again that they would stop hostilities during the truce and discuss challenges to resuming commercial flights from Sanaa, urging both sides to stick to their commitments.

“The parties have reiterated their commitment to upholding the truce. We are working tirelessly to help them identify solutions to resume flights from Sanaa,” the UN envoy said in a statement, vowing to keep pressure on the parties till they open roads in Taiz and the other provinces.

“We also continue pushing for progress on opening roads in Taiz and other governorates,” said the envoy. “I have called on the parties to work constructively and in good faith to prioritize the interests of Yemeni civilians.”

The UN-brokered truce came into effect on April 2 as warring factions agreed to stop fighting on all fronts, mainly outside the central city of Marib, open roads in the provinces, resume commercial flights from Sanaa airport and allow fuel ships to enter Hodeidah seaport.

The truce received a heavy blow on Sunday when the first commercial flight from Sanaa airport was postponed as the Houthis insisted on adding dozens of passengers with unofficial passports.

The Yemeni government on Wednesday proposed opening a new passport office in Sanaa to help people in Houthi-controlled areas get passports and to end the impasse over the departure of flights from Sanaa airport.

Hundreds of violations by the Houthis, including the deployment of military forces, tanks and heavy artillery outside Marib, have also threatened to torpedo the truce.

Yemen’s army said that the Houthis violated the truce 74 times in Taiz, Hajjah, Marib, Hodeidah and Jouf on Tuesday, accusing the Houthis of sending more military reinforcements to flashpoint sites in Marib, Hodeidah and Hajjah.

On Thursday, the government’s Joint Forces announced unilaterally opening the Al-Jarahi-Hays road in Hodeidah province under the UN-brokered truce, urging the Houthis to open the road from their side.

The current raging conflict in Yemen began in late 2014 when the Iran-backed Houthis militarily seized power in the country and expanded across the country.

Source: Arab News

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South Asia


Beijing-Nangarhar to Build 150-Factory Industrial Park in Kabul

29 Apr 2022

The Ministry of Urban Development of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan inked an agreement with Beijing-Nangarhar private company on building an industrial park wherein 150 factories will be activated.

The signing pact ceremony that was held in Priozi township in Kabul on Thursday, April 28, 2022, was attended by Deputy Prime Minister and head of the economic commission of the IEA Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, and Deputy Minister of Urban Development.

The industrial complex is planned to be built in Priozi town located in the eastern Deh Sabz district of the Afghan capital Kabul.

The industrial park will include a mosque, health, and educational centers, green space, public parks, and residential blocks along with the 150 factories that will provide direct jobs to 13,600 people while 30,000 more will be affected indirectly.

The industrial complex is intended to cost $216 million.

Source: Khaama Press

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Islamic State Claims Two Bomb Blasts That Killed At Least 9 on Minibuses in Afghan City

APRIL 29, 2022

The Islamic State group claimed two bomb blasts aboard minibuses that killed at least nine people Thursday in Afghanistan’s Mazar-i-Sharif, a week after a deadly explosion at a Shiite mosque in the northern city.

The number of violent public attacks across Afghanistan has fallen since the Taliban returned to power last August, but the Sunni Islamic State group has continued to target Shiites, whom they view as heretics.

A string of deadly bombings targeting minority communities has convulsed the country in the past two weeks during the fasting month of Ramazan.

Thursday’s blasts occurred within minutes of each other in different districts of Mazar-i-Sharif as commuters were heading home to break their dawn-to-dusk fast, Balkh provincial police spokesman Asif Waziri told AFP.

“The targets appear to be Shiite passengers," he said, adding 13 people were wounded in the blasts.

The regional Islamic State chapter, ISKP, took credit for the bombings, which it said inflicted 30 casualties.

Images posted on social media showed one minibus engulfed in fire, while the other was mangled, with Taliban fighters seen transporting victims from the vehicle to hospitals.

The blasts came one week after an attack on a Shiite mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif killed at least 12 worshippers and wounded scores more.

That explosion was followed a day later by the bombing of another mosque in Kunduz targeting the minority Sufi community.

It killed at least 36 people during Friday prayers.

In Kabul, another attack also targeted Shiites, with two bombs detonated at a school, killing six students.

The jihadist IS claimed the mosque attack in Mazar-i-Sharif, but no group has so far taken responsibility for the bombing in Kunduz or at the Kabul school.

Shiite Afghans, who are mostly from the Hazara community, make up between 10 to 20 percent of Afghanistan’s population of 38 million.

The regional branch of IS in Sunni-majority Afghanistan has repeatedly targeted Shiites and minorities such as Sufis, who follow a mystical branch of Islam.

IS is a Sunni Islamist group, like the Taliban, but the two are bitter rivals.

The biggest ideological difference is that the Taliban pursued an Afghanistan free of foreign forces, whereas IS wants an Islamic caliphate stretching from Turkey to Pakistan and beyond.

Taliban officials insist their forces have defeated IS, but analysts say the jihadist group remains a key security challenge.

Afghan government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP earlier Thursday that several arrests had been made in connection with the string of recent attacks.

Source: News18

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Blasts on vans carrying Shi'ite Muslims in northern Afghanistan kill nine

Apr 29, 2022

KABUL: Bombs exploded aboard two passenger vans carrying Shi'ite Muslims in the northern Afghanistan city of Mazar-e-Sharif on Thursday, killing at least nine people, an official said.

The blasts follow an explosion at a Shi'ite mosque in the city last week, which killed 11, as Afghanistan grapples with a rise in attacks by Islamic State following the withdrawal of foreign forces last year. {nL2N2WJ0K1]

The group has claimed responsibility for Thursday's attack in a post on its Telegram account.

"The bombs were placed inside the vans; due to those blasts nine have been killed and 13 injured," Mohammad Asif Wazeri, spokesman of Mazar-e-Sharif's commander told Reuters.

The public transport vans were operated and used by the local Shi'ite community, he added.

Shi'ite community, a minority Muslim sect in Afghanistan, is frequently attacked by Sunni militant groups, including Islamic State.

Taliban authorities who took over after the Western pullout said earlier this week they had eliminated most of Islamic State's presence in Afghanistan. But despite the assertion, attacks against Shi'ites continue in many parts of the country.

Source: Times Of India

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Taliban Frees 35 Prisoners to Honour Eid

29 Apr 2022

Local officials of the southeastern Helmand province have exempted dozens of prisoners and released them as the Muslims’ biggest festival-Eid-ul-Fitr arrives, Bakhtar News Agency reported.

The 35 prisoners who were accused of various crimes were taken out of jail on Thursday, April 28, 2022.

Not only the Taliban but every Afghan government would release prisoners to honor Eid which is typically a period of exemption.

Bakhtar News Agency has quoted the provincial judge Mawlawi Sidiqullah Mudaser saying the jailers were freed from two prisons in the districts of Babaji and Musa Qala.

Source: Khaama Press

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A Pakistan Charity Hands over 8 Trucks of Relief Goods to Afghan Authorities

29 Apr 2022

A Pakistan charity foundation called Al-Khidmar handed over eight more trucks carrying relief assistance to the Afghan authorities at the crossing point Torkham on Thursday, April 28, 2022.

The relief assistance that is arranged under the Ramazan Package of the charity foundation is worth Rs 20 million and includes food packages and other items.

The fresh 80 trucks bring the total number of trucks delivered by the foundation to 154 and the total amount of 1311 tonnes of goods worth Rs 300 million delivered to the Afghan people.

The items provided by the foundation have so far been distributed in Kunar, Paktika, Nangarhar, Kabul, Helmand, Kandahar, and other provinces.

Source: Khaama Press

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Slogan-Chanting At Masjid-e-Nabwi Against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif: Political, Religious Leadership Denounce Incident

Apr 29 2022

The political and religious leadership of Pakistan and others from different sections of society strictly condemned Friday the chanting of slogans against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his delegation at Masjid-e-Nabwi (PBUH) in Madinah.

A group of protesting worshippers violated the sanctity of the sacred site and and chanted slogans against the premier and other government officials who accompanied him as soon as they entered Masjid-e-Nabawi to pay their respects at the Roza-e-Rasool (PBUH).

The protesters passed derogatory remarks against Minister for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb, and misbehaved with Jamhoori Wattan Party (JWP) chief Shahzain Bugti.

Following the incident, politicians, religious leaders and others expressed outrage at the unfortunate incident and vehemently condemned it.

Commenting on it, Shahzain Bugti said: "I respect Mecca and Medina a lot and no one can speak in a loud voice there."

Likewise, Marriyum Aurangzeb, without using Imran Khan's name but in an apparent reference to him, said: “I don’t want to name the person responsible for this incident because I don’t want to use this holy land for political purpose."

"However, it will take time for us to fix the ways in which these people  have damaged our society and we can only do that through a positive attitude."

She further added that the PML-N leadership has instructed its workers to control their emotions.

Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari condemned the incident and termed it a shameful act. “The intolerance and divisiveness being incited by the PTI to sate [Imran Khan's] inflated ego is leading Pakistan down a very dark path,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Some shame and serious introspection are in order for the cultists who are cheering on the death of basic decency,” she added.

Ex-prime minister of Azad Kashmir Raja Farooq Haider also condemned the chanting of slogans at Masjid-e-Nabawi and announced holding a protest against the move after Friday prayers.

Criticising former interior minister Sheikh Rasheed, Haider said "inciting people to violence is unacceptable".

"PTI supporters have lost their minds after losing their government," he said.

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman condemned the incident and said Haram-e-Medina is a place of respect for the entire Muslim Ummah.

"Speaking loudly in the mosque is against Islamic etiquette," he said. "Whatever happened there today couldn't be more insulting to the holy site. Those who cannot respect the sanctity of the house of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) cannot claim to follow his teachings."

MQM-P leader and Senator Faisal Subzwari said those who were condemning Captain Safdar for chanting slogans at Mazar-e-Quaid are now celebrating the chanting of political slogans at Masjid-e-Nabawi.

PML-N leader and Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal also denounced the incident.

Acclaimed scholar Maulana Tariq Jameel also regretted the protest that took place at the Prophet's mosque and said that disrespect to the Haram Sharif is not acceptable in Islam.

Popular Pakistani cricketer Kamran Akmal termed the incident "a very shameful act."

While sharing his experience, former national cricket team captain Mohammad Yousaf said when he had seen ‘Kaaba’ and Roza-e-Rasool for (PBUH) for the first time, he had started crying due to his emotions.

“I ask forgiveness to Allah for what has happened today at Roza-e-Rasool (PBUH),” he tweeted.

PTI leader Ali Muhammad Khan also condemned the incident and called it "against the sanctity of the holy place".

Journalist Osama Bin Javaid termed the incident a "planned protest by supporters of former prime minister Imran Khan."

Pakistan Ulema Council Chairman Tahir Ashrafi has also expressed his displeasure at the unfortunate turn of events at the Masjid-e-Nabawi.

In a video statement, Ashrafi said: “A group of people disrespected the holy mosque by chanting slogans and those who were involved in this act have dishonoured the country. Muslims are supposed to lower their voices instead of chanting slogans inside a mosque".

Source: Geo TV

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Pakistan Agencies Suspect Presence Of More Female Baluchistan Liberation Army Suicide Bombers

Apr 28, 2022

KARACHI/LAHORE: Pakistani investigators probing the suicide attack by a woman at the Karachi University that killed three Chinese teachers have not ruled out the presence of more female suicide bombers at sleeper cells of the outlawed Baluchistan Liberation Army, even as police in Lahore have arrested a suspect from Punjab University in connection with the bombing.

On Tuesday, an explosion triggered by a burqa-clad woman suicide bomber from the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) ripped through a van of the Confucius Institute at the prestigious University of Karachi, leaving three Chinese teachers dead and one injured, in the latest targeted attack against Chinese citizens in Pakistan.

Following the incident, the banned BLA took to social media to claim responsibility and announce that the bomber was a woman named Shaari Baloch who was highly educated, a mother of two young children, belonging to a well-established family and working as a school teacher in her native Turbat, Balochistan.

The Anti-Terrorism Department of the Sindh Police also identified the bomber who was born in Turbat in 1991 but settled in Kech district of the restive Baluchistan province. “Initial investigations confirmed she was part of the banned Majeed brigade, a part of the BLA which has brainwashed these suicide bombers,” an official of the Anti-Terrorism Department said.

“We are looking into possiblities that there might be more female suicide bombers brainwashed to become part of the Majeed Brigade and waiting in sleeper cells," he said. He confirmed that initial investigations had shown that Shari Baloch did not carry out the attack independently and was guided and helped by her handlers/facilitators, including a woman who met her at the entrance of the university and apparently briefed her before she went to the entrance of the Confucius Institute where she detonated herself as soon as the coaster van carrying the Chinese academics came.

“We suspect this operation was carried out with inside information,” the official said. On Wednesday, the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab Police have arrested a suspect from Lahore's Punjab University in connection with the suicide bombing at the Karachi University.

The intelligence agencies tracked down a suspect with whom Shari Baloch remained in contact by cellphone in Lahore and arrested him during a raid at a hostel of the Punjab University, a source in CTD told PTI on Thursday.

The suspect has been identified as Bebagr Imdad, a student of the seventh semester of English Literature in Numl, Islamabad. He also belongs to the area where Shaari Baloch lived. "The agencies are picking up all those who remained in contact with Shaari before she blew herself up and Bebagr was one of them," he said.

A Punjab University spokesperson Khurram Shahzad told PTI that Bebagr had come to Lahore two days ago from Islamabad.

"On Tuesday, he visited his cousin at hostel 7 who is a history department student. On Wednesday, a security agency official approached the varsity administration and told it that it needed to take Bebagr into custody for his alleged link with the Karachi University bombing. The Punjab University obliged the request and now he is being interrogated," Shehzad said. Some 300 students from Balochistan are currently studying at the Punjab University.

The security agencies are now searching for the husband of Shari Baloch, Dr Haibatan, who was apparently doing a public health course at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) and was staying at a nearby hotel. However, his wife lived in Gulistan-i-Jauhar with her two children.

Counter-Terrorism Department official Raja Umar Khatab said that Shari Baloch and her husband had left their places a week before the attack and the husband's whereabouts were not known. Raids were being carried out to find the husband and other facilitators, he said. The CTD official also made it clear that Shari Baloch was not a student at the KU and in fact had done her BE and ME from the University of Balochistan and had also worked as a government teacher.

The officer said that the outlawed BLA had claimed responsibility for the attack and shared details about the attacker on their social media platforms. “We also suspect the involvement of a hostile foreign agency in this attack,” he said.

Meanwhile, the members of Baloch Student Council at Punjab University held a demonstration outside the varsity and demanded release of Bebagr. They said the “abduction of Bebagr" was part of ongoing disappearances and harassment of the Baloch students in the country. They said they would continue their protest till the release of Bebagr from the agencies' custody.

The suicide bombing at the Karachi University seems to be the harbinger of a 'new and unexpected dimension' in the dynamics of terrorism in Pakistan, particularly the Baloch insurgency.

Meanwhile, Additional Police Surgeon at the Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Hospital Dr Summaiya Syed said that the four people who were injured in the bomb blast, including a fourth Chinese teacher, Wang Yuqing, are out of danger.

Those killed in the suicide bombing included three Chinese faculty members and their Pakistani driver, Khalid Nawaz.

In the FIR lodged about the incident by SHO Basharat Hussain, the BLA Majeed Brigade militant commanders Bashir Zaib and Rehman Gul and others were involved in the attack. The FIR says the BLA wanted to undermine relations between Pakistan and China and get publicity for their outlawed outfit through terrorist acts, the FIR added.

The security forces on Thursday raided the house of the father of the bomber in a society located in Karachi's Scheme 33. Laptops and other evidence, including documents, were seized during the raid.

The Security agencies in Balochistan on Wednesday also searched the apartment of the suicide bomber in Gulistan-e-Johar and sealed it afterwards. The apartment was rented and the bomber had been living there for the last three years.

The Karachi University reopened for the first time on Thursday after the suicide attack. The university's spokesperson said that administrative affairs and the teaching process in the university will continue as usual. However, the Confucius Institute will remain closed until clearance from the Chinese embassy.

Newly-appointed Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari visited the Chinese embassy in Islamabad shortly after he took charge on Wednesday. Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb told a press conference that the government was reviewing the National Action Plan against terrorism and would bring the perpetrators of the Karachi bombing to justice.

China has demanded stern action against the militant organisations behind the attack. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin during a media briefing asked Pakistan to scale-up security for its nationals working in the country and demanded a thorough investigation and punishment to the perpetrators behind the suicide attack.

The attack that too by a woman suicide bomber from BLA, which is vocally opposing the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), sent shock waves in China as it highlights deep rooted opposition to Chinese projects. Balochistan, bordering Iran and Afghanistan, is home to a long-running violent insurgency. Baloch insurgent groups have previously carried out several attacks targeting the CPEC projects.

Source: Times Of India

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Pakistan anti-graft watchdog starts inquiry against ex-PM's family friend

Apr 29, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), on Thursday ordered an inquiry against Farah Khan, a close friend of former prime minister Imran Khan’s wife, Bushra Bibi, on allegations of accumulating “illegal assets beyond known sources of income, money laundering, and maintaining various accounts in the name of businesses”.

Farah left Pakistan for the UAE immediately after a no-confidence motion was submitted against then PM Imran Khan in the parliament last month.

Due to her close association with the ex-prime minister’s family, her name frequently surfaced in media in the past three years, all for wrong reasons.

She, along with her husband, Ahsan Jamil Gujjar, and previous husband of Bushra Bibi, Khawar Maneka, were alleged to be involved in postings and transfers of officers in lieu of huge sums of money.

The anti-graft body has directed its director general in Lahore to start an inquiry against Farah as per the law.

According to the NAB, a huge turnover amounting to Rs 847 million has been found in Farah’s account during the last three years, which is not commensurate with her stated account profile.

“These credits were received in her personal account and withdrawn immediately after credit within a short time period,” a NAB’s notification stated, noting that several “adverse” media reports had been found where Farah – referred to in the statement as Farhat Shahzadi (alias Farah Khan) – was alleged to have been involved in acquiring assets beyond legal means.

The NAB also said that in a review of Farah’s income tax returns, it was observed that her assets significantly increased from 2018 onwards for unknown reasons.

“Moreover, she has been frequently travelling to foreign jurisdictions, including nine times to the USA and six times to the UAE,” the NAB’s statement said.

Farah and her husband were not the only ones whose assets grew exponentially during the PTI’s regime. Her sister, Musarrat Khan, was also found in possession of 20 residential plots in Lahore, which she bought during the tenure of the PTI government.

Source: Times Of India

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China asks its firms in Pak to heighten security for staff after Karachi suicide attack: Official

Apr 28, 2022

BEIJING: China on Thursday asked thousands of its nationals working on the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects in Pakistan to increase their security and watch out for terrorist risks following a deadly suicide blast in Karachi that killed three Chinese and wounded another.

"The Pakistani government has promised to strengthen security for Chinese personnel projects and institutions, and will not allow any force to undermine our friendship and cooperation," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing here.

Asked about the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), the terrorist group whose woman suicide bomber carried out the attack at the Karachi University targeting the Chinese teachers, warning more attacks if China and Pakistan don't vacate from Balochistan province, he said, "we believe Pakistan will take earnest and concrete measures to ensure the safe and smooth progress of bilateral cooperation."

"Once again, we remind our institutions' personnel in Pakistan to heighten their security awareness and watch out for terrorist risks," he said.

A woman suicide bomber was seen on the video blowing herself near a shuttle bus used by Karachi's Confucius Institute occurred on Tuesday afternoon, killing three Chinese teachers and their local driver and injuring another Chinese person.

In a purported video issued by the group, a BLA spokesman said that the motive of the attack was very clear. "It was a simple and clear message to China and Pakistan to withdraw immediately from Balochistan," said the masked spokesman surrounded by armed men on a hilly terrain.

"Baloch Liberation Army guarantees you the CPEC will fail miserably on Baloch land," the spokesman, who was holding an assault rifle, said in fluent English.

He warned that a special unit has been formed particularly to attack Chinese officials and installations in Balochistan. The group opposes Chinese investment in Pakistan, especially in the restive Balochistan, saying local people do not benefit.

The CPEC connects China's Xinjiang province with Gwadar port in Balochistan, providing China direct access to the Arabian Sea. Thousands of Chinese are currently working on scores of infrastructure projects.

The Pakistan Army has formed a separate brigade consisting of thousands of soldiers to guard the Chinese as both the BLA and the Pakistan's Islamic militant group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have carried out numerous attacks.

Wang said, "the Pakistani side is making all out efforts to investigate the attack and apprehend the perpetrator. Terrorism is a common scourge of all mankind. China and Pakistan has the resolve and capability to cut off the claws of the terrorists make them pay the due price."

"China and Pakistan's iron-clad friendship is deeply rooted in people's hearts. China supports Pakistan's national development and will continue to support its economic and social development and improvement of livelihood," he said.

State-run Global Times reported that Chinese businesses are ramping up precautions to ensure the safety of personnel and projects in accordance with official guidelines following the Karachi attack.

After the attack, several state-owned companies that are deeply involved in Belt and Road projects in the country told the daily that their local employees are safe and the projects have not been disrupted.

PowerChina, a major participant in the CPEC, said "we have military personnel stationed at our construction sites to guarantee our safety."

A manager of the Henan D.R. Construction Group, a large construction company with several projects in Pakistan, said the company is reducing outdoor activities, especially in high-risk areas. Certain safety and security measures for personnel and projects have also been strengthened.

China Metallurgical Group Corp, which has copper mining business in Pakistan, said security measures have been strengthened.

Source: Times Of India

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Swearing-in of Hamza being ‘arrogantly prevented’, says Maryam

April 29, 2022

LAHORE: PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz said on Thursday that despite clear orders of the court, the swearing-in of Hamza Shehbaz as the chief minister of Punjab is being “arrogantly prevented”.

Taking to Twitter, Ms Mar­yam said that violating the Constitution, law and courts with such arrogance cannot be the work of a normal person.

She lambasted former premier Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party, saying the ‘ghosts of Bani Gala’ should be handled with strictness.

Referring to Punjab being without a CM for the past several days, the PML-N leader said this is a province of 120 million in­­habitants, which is not a joke.

Slamming the PTI leadership, she said these “lunatics must be driven into a mental asylum or face serious treason and contempt of court cases”, adding they behaved like children and left the people amazed.

Indirectly referring to PTI’s previous regime, she said the country was being ruled by such “mental and psychiatric patients”.

Source: Dawn

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Terrorists infiltrating from Afghanistan: KP IG

April 29, 2022

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Inspector General of Police Moazzam Jah Ansari said here on Thursday that terrorists were infiltrating from Afghanistan in tribal districts to carry out attacks.

Briefing journalists at Malik Saad Shaheed Police Lines, he said that such incidents had taken place in Bajaur, North and South Waziristan tribal districts.

Mr Ansari said that on Pakistani side, kinetic action was being taken against terrorists; however, for the issues emanating from across the border needed to be taken up with Afghan authorities. “We are facing problems from other side of the border,” he added.

He said that over past four months, Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) arrested 202 terrorists including 18, who were carrying head money. He said that about 70 terrorists including proclaimed offenders were killed in police action during that period.

Police chief says the issue needs to be taken up with Afghan authorities

Mr Ansari said that CTD also killed Daniyal, a terrorist of the so-called Islamic State, who was involved in the Koocha Risaldar suicide attack. More than 60 people were killed and scores of others were injured in the attack. He said that the terrorist was also involved in the targeted killings of police officials, Sikh homeopath Satnam Singh and Christian pastor William Siraj.

He said that CTD recovered 46 kilograms of explosives, 99 hand grenades, eight suicide jackets, three rocket propelled grenades, 43 RPG shells and other arms and ammunition.

“During the first four months of current year, 30 policemen were martyred,” said the IGP. He added that seven of the martyred officials belonged to CTD and seven others were injured.

He said that police carried out a total of 6307 search and strike operations and arrested 45,697 suspects. He said that police also recovered 8,198 different types of arms and 184,193 rounds as well. In addition, police registered 3,146 FIRs over violation of tenancy laws and 460 FIRs were lodged against hotels for failing to comply with documentation of the guests.

Mr Ansari said that police also checked a total of 87,703 educational institutions and FIRs were registered against 65 for failing to follow the security parameters. In addition to this, a total of 12,506 bus stops were also checked during the past four months and 1,061 cases were registered under Sensitive and Vulnerable Establishments and Places Security Act, 2015.

Also, 296 FIRs were registered over misuse of loudspeakers. A total of 1,199 illegal Afghans were arrested during this period and FIRs were registered against 1,083 of them.

The IGP said that police narcotics eradication teams (NETs) during crackdowns on drug mafia, lodged a total of 3,989 FIRs. He said that police recovered a total of 4,301 kilograms of charas, 418 kilograms of heroin, 246 kilograms of crystal meth, 545 kilograms of opium and 3,599 litres of liquor.

He said that the police also ensured peaceful holding of the local government polls in the province. In addition to this, police also set up Aasan Insaf Marakiz and Madadgar police.

He said that they were also focusing on better training, equipment and communication system for police in tribal districts. He said that besides several of police arms and other needs were also being met under the Accelerated Implementation Programme. “We are going to make setup of CTD in all merged districts by June 30 this year,” he added.

Source: Dawn

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North America


Pakistan’s consulate honours distinguished Pakistani-Americans at an Iftar

APRIL 29, 2022

NEW YORK: Pakistani-American men and women holding senior positions in public and elected offices were honoured at an Iftar-dinner hosted Thursday by Pakistan’s Consul General in New York, Ayesha Ali, who called them “role models” for the next generation of leaders.

“This consulate general is your home (it’s) the territory of Pakistan,” she told a large gathering of the Pakistani community members, diplomats from Turkey, Qatar, and UAE as well as representatives of different religions.

“We will continue to support you,” the consul general added.

A number of police officers serving the New York Police Department(NYPD), led by Deputy Inspector Adeel Rana, were also present.

Ayesha Ali said the number of senior Pakistani-Americans  in public and elected offices continued to increase last year, while 2022 has been a year of “firsts”, among them, Ahsan Chughtai, senior advisor to New York City Mayor;  Asim Rehman, commissioner and chief administrator Law Judge of Oath;  Shama Haider and Sadaf Jaffer, Assembly members in New Jersey and Zahid Quraishi , the first US federal judge.

“You have been in the vanguard of presenting tolerant, universal and peaceful spirit of Islam,”she said while introducing them. “I thank you for your service and for being the tremendous role models that you are.”

The consul general said strong community was the real foundation of a strong Pakistan-US partnership. “Thank you for all you do for Pakistan”.

Ayesha Ali said while celebrating Ramazan, less fortunate people like “our Kashmiri brother and sisters” in Indian occupied Kashmir should not be forgotten. Their rights have been trampled upon by the Indian occupation forces since 1947.

“This Ramazan, our thoughts and prayers are in need to be heard and assisted, the world over.”

Source: Daily Times

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Ex-US envoy to Pakistan pleads guilty to undisclosed lobbying for Qatar

Anwar Iqbal

April 29, 2022

WASHINGTON: Richard Olson, a former US ambassador to Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, has pleaded guilty to undisclosed lobbying for Qatar while still in service and soon after his retirement, court records show.

He is also accused of accepting a lavish trip to Qatar while still serving as the US envoy to Pakistan. “I wish to plead guilty to the offences charged, to waive trial in the Central District of California, and to dispose of the case in the District of Columbia in which I am present,” he wrote in a consent letter submitted by his lawyer.

Mr Olson, who has also served as US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, was charged in the federal court over violation of a restriction on lobbying for a foreign country while in service and within a year after retirement.

Mr Olson has been awarded the Presidential Distinguished Service Award and the Secretary of Defence Exceptional Civilian Service Award, and is a three times recipient of the State Department’s Superior Honor Award. He lived in Virginia after his retirement and was a regular on South Asian affairs at Washington’s think tanks where he often appreciated Pakistan’s efforts to contain terrorism.

US ex-envoy accused of receiving $20,000 monthly payments from a Pakistani American lobbyist

Former US president Barack Obama sent Mr Olson, a career diplomat, to Pakistan in 2012 when the then ambassador, Cameron Munter, resigned after the 2011 US raid in Abbottabad. Mr Munter was apparently not consulted before the raid, which eliminated Osama bin Laden but strained relations with Pakistan as Islamabad too was informed after the raid. Mr Olson presented his credentials to the then president Asif Ali Zardari on Oct 31, 2012, and served in Pakistan till Oct 27, 2015.

The charges against Mr Olson include courting foreign work while in office and using his political influence to advance Qatari interests in Washington after his retirement.

The US Justice Department has also charged him with making false statements in ethics paperwork and violating laws restricting foreign lobbying by ex-federal officials, both misdemeanors.

According to a court document, quoted in US media reports, Mr Olson received $20,000 monthly payments from an unnamed Pakistani American lobbyist for the work.

The lobbyist also flew Mr Olson to London in early 2015, while he was serving as ambassador, to meet an unidentified Bahraini businessperson who offered him a $300,000-per-year contract at their company, the reports claim.

Prosecutors also claim that after leaving government service in late 2016, Mr Olson worked with his Pakistani American contact and high-level Qatari government officials to advance Doha’s interests in Washington, prosecutors allege.

Documents shared with the US media show that when Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Gulf nations cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in 2017 and blockaded its only land border, citing financial support for terrorism, Mr Olson lobbied US government officials to take Qatar’s side in the dispute.

Source: Dawn

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Are Arab Americans playing enough of a role in helping to forge US policies?


April 28, 2022

Chicago -- Arab Americans are playing a greater role in helping to define US policies and programs through their involvement in the White House and the State Department, members of the Arab American affinity group told Arab News Wednesday.

Nadia Farra, special assistant to Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman covering the Middle East and North Africa, counterterrorism and cyber issues, and Mahmoud El-Hamalawy, press officer at the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs covering North Africa, said their role in the State Department’s Arab American affinity group created in 2014 has helped open the door to greater Arab American engagement.

The Arab Americans in Foreign Affairs Agencies employee affinity group is the department’s only employee-based organization concerned with the promotion, protection and utilization of the cultural, linguistic, personal and professional assets that Arab American foreign affairs professionals commonly share.

“I think the Biden administration definitely has the most Arab American political appointees. Where we come in is working on that recruitment effort and pushing the department to look at Michigan, talk to schools in California and Texas — those populations with greater Arab Americans,” explained Farra, who serves as the Arab American affinity group president.

“Also, we did two recruitment efforts this year, two Facebook Lives with, where we talked about security clearances, where we talked about what kind of careers are at the departments. I think that pushing on the recruitment side is where you see more Arab Americans. We have had people like Ambassador Philip Habeeb in the 60s and 70s who have had a huge impact on the department. But I think now not only are we having more Arab Americans, we are having a greater diversity of where those Arab Americans come from. Like you mentioned, the 22 countries. I want to see more diversity of that, just more of that. I’m Syrian American and definitely heard of Syrian Americans who have worked in government before. But I really want to get out there and really empower those who come from the more underrepresented communities.”

Farra entered US government service in 2011 as a third-generation public servant. Her father worked as a physician at a US base in Georgia, and her immigrant grandfather taught Arabic at the Defense Language Institute in Monarch, California.

Farra and El-Hamalawy discussed their roles during an appearance Wednesday on “The Ray Hanania Radio Show,” which is hosted on the US Arab Radio Network and broadcast on live radio in Detroit, Washington, D.C. and Canada. The radio show is rebroadcast in Chicago on Thursdays and streamed on Arab News Facebook and

El-Hamalawy, an Egyptian American who spent 16 years working at an Arab satellite news outlet, said the Arab American affinity group plays “a significant role” in implementing the goals of President Biden’s partnership with Arab Americans.

“The department itself looks at us as a resource, not necessarily on policy per se but to get our perspective on issues on diversity and inclusion” for all of the various groups and for “underrepresented groups like Arab Americans,” El-Hamalwy said.

Farra added, “Arab Americans are a part of that fabric” that the US government “utilizes as a resource.”

El-Hamalawy noted that the group played an important role in President Biden and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken issuing, for the first time, a formal recognition commemorating Arab American Heritage Month last year. And they acknowledged the Arab American role this year, too.

Farra explained that AAIFAA membership is not based on any ethnicity or religion, but rather on a shared affinity for Arab culture. The Arab American affinity group does not just include Americans of Arab heritage but also individuals in federal service who have a shared interest in issues related to the Middle East and who are dedicated to working toward diversity to reflect the region’s population.

“The role of these groups is to kind of advocate…for their membership but to also be advisors to our leadership on…how to reach [our] goal…, which is to make the state department or federal government look more like America. And how to do that within these communities. How to do outreach. How to do recruitment. How to keep retention and just monitor the community’s needs for our membership,” Farra explained.

“It (the Arab American affinity group) is not the oldest by any means, but also we are not the newest. We were started in 2014. What makes us a bit more unique is that we span all foreign affairs agencies. So, we are not just the State Department group. We have members from Treasury. From Energy. So, all over the inner agencies. We have over 500 members. So, we have really grown in the last couple of years.”

El-Hamalawy and Farra said that the door for Arab American engagement in the Biden administration and in public service is more open today than it ever has been. Farra added that Biden recognizes the importance of Arab Americans in helping to confront stereotypes and even contributing to American foreign policy in the Middle East.

“I would say it is the most open it has ever been, and we have some work to do on the way we retain those from underrepresented communities and pulling more from our communities. But I think that the door is absolutely open if you are willing to take the risk…[of] getting into foreign policy and government work. I would say absolutely,” Farra said.

“Something my boss, the deputy secretary, always says is to bring your whole self to work, bring your whole background, bring your whole ties. Because that’s what makes us stronger as a nation…Diversity inclusion isn’t something to do because it is good to do. It is because it makes us stronger and smarter, and I think that is something we just don’t hear enough of. And that diversity includes the Arab American community. And the only other thing I will say is the coalition-building between the other underrepresented groups within the State Department has just really skyrocketed the changes that we have made, so I would really encourage the Arab American community with any initiatives they do to build coalitions with other ethnic groups.”

AAIFAA serves as a resource of relevant ideas and experiences that can be shared among Arab American communities throughout the interagency community. AAIFAA membership is open to all civil and foreign service employees in the department and throughout the interagency community.

Source: Arab News

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Gyanvapi mosque near Kashi Vishwanath temple not a Waqf property: Counsel for temple

APRIL 29, 2022

“Gyanwapi Mosque cannot be said to be a Waqf property because it was not dedicated by any legal Waqif after the demolition of the Kashi Vishwanath temple in 1669”

The Allahabad High Court on Thursday resumed the hearing on Varanasi’s Kashi-Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi Mosque dispute with the counsel for the temple asserting that the disputed mosque is not a waqf property.

Appearing for the Kashi Vishwanath temple before the bench of Justice Prakash Padia, senior counsel Vijay Shankar Rastogi also asserted that the provisions of the Waqf Act are not applicable to this mosque as it is not a waqf property.

Mr. Rastogi advanced his argument refuting claims by appellants Anjuman Intazamia Masjid of Varanasi and the Sunni Central Waqf Board of Lucknow in their petitions that the mosque was a Waqf Property, a property permanently and irrevocably donated by an eligible, legally constituted ‘Waqif’ (legal donor) for a pious and religious purpose and hence rendered non-transferrable.

Mr. Rastogi, however, argued in the court and also explained later to PTI that the Gyanwapi Mosque cannot be said to be a Waqf property because it was not dedicated by any legal Waqif after the demolition of the Kashi Vishwanath temple in 1669.

There was never any dedication of the property to God or to build a masque by any Waqif after its demolition by its destroyer, Mr. Rastogi said.

Mr. Rastogi also argued that the disputed property was earlier once registered as Waqf Property before the enactment of the Waqf Act, 1995, which provided for the re-registration of the Waqf Property, but it was never done.

Moreover, the earlier registration of the disputed property as a Waqf property did not affect Hindu’s rights over it as the Waqf Act only concerned Muslims, he argued.

Accordingly, the disputed property is not a waqf property and the provisions of the Waqf Act do not apply to it, he asserted.

Earlier during the last hearing on April 12, Mr. Rastogi had argued that the Kashi Vishwanath temple of Lord Vishweshwar has been in the existence since ancient times and the Lord is situated in the disputed structure.

Despite its demolition, the religious character of the temple never changed, he said, arguing that section 4 of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 is not applicable to the temple because it was an old temple and was built prior to the 15th century.

Mr. Rastogi made this argument in response to the reliance of appellants' counsel on section 4 of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 which bars filing of any suit or initiating any other legal proceeding for a conversion of the religious character of any place of worship, as existing on August 15, 1947.

Justice Padia adjourned the matter for further hearing on May 10.

The original suit was filed in 1991 in the Varanasi district court for the restoration of the ancient temple at the site where the Gyanvapi mosque currently stands.

The plea has been taken in the suit that the said mosque is a part of the temple.

Varanasi’s fast track court headed by a civil judge (senior division) had on April 8, 2021, directed the Archaeological Survey of India to conduct a survey of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi Mosque complex and ascertain if a temple was demolished to build the mosque that stands adjacent to the temple.

The Allahabad High Court, however, stayed the Varanasi court’s order dated April 8, 2021.

Source: The Hindu

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Seven Arrested In UP's Ayodhya For Throwing Objectionable Items At Mosques

April 29, 2022

Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh: Seven people were arrested by the Ayodhya police on Thursday, all accused of disturbing the peace and equanimity of the city by throwing objectionable posters and objects at several mosques in Ayodhya.

The arrested accused have been identified as Mahesh Kumar Mishra, Pratyush Srivastava, Nitin Kumar, Deepak Kumar Gaur alias Gunjan, Brijesh Pandey, Shatrughan Prajapati, and Vimal Pandey. All of them are residents of Ayodhya.

Senior Superintendent of Police (Ayodhya), Shailesh Kumar Pandey, said that the incident was carried out by 11 people out of which seven have been arrested while four others are absconding.

"A total of eight persons on four motorcycles, led by Mahesh, threw objectionable posters and objects outside the mosques. The police recovered the objects, a mobile phone, and vehicles have been impounded. We have arrested seven people so far, four are absconding. We will arrest them soon. Action under the Gangsters Act and NSA will also be initiated against them," said the SSP.

During the investigation, it was found that Mahesh Kumar Mishra was the main conspirator and along with his other accomplices, a conspiracy was hatched at Brijesh Pandey's house in opposition to the recent incident in Jahangirpuri of Delhi. It also came to light that the accused on the night of Wednesday first reached the Beniganj Tiraha where after seeing a Police Response Vehicle (PRV) car could not execute the plan on Beniganj Masjid and thus moved to other mosques. They threw the objectionable posters and objects at Ayodhya's Masjid Kashmiri Mohalla, Tatshah Mosque, Ghosiyana Ramnagar Masjid, Idgah Civil Line Mosque and Gulab Shah Dargah behind Dargah Jail.

Police also said that out of the seven arrested, three accused have a previous criminal history.

"The accused Mahesh has four cases registered against him in Kotwali Police station Ayodhya. Apart from this, the accused Nitin and Vimal also have cases registered against them," said a police officer.

Source: ND TV

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Ban on Ramzan prayers in Srinagar mosque draws flak

29th April 2022

By Fayaz Wani

SRINAGAR:  Authorities in Kashmir UT have disallowed ‘Shab-e-Qadr’ (nightlong prayers) and ‘Jumat-ul-Vida’ (last Friday of Ramzan) congregational prayers at Jamia Masjid in Srinagar, drawing criticism from mainstream parties and religious groups.

A spokesman for Anjuman Auqaf Jamia Masjid, which runs the affairs of the shrine, said police and administration officials headed by a magistrate visited the premises on Wednesday evening and conveyed to the Auqaf members that authorities had decided not to allow Jumat-ul-Vida prayers as well Shab-e-Qadr (27th night of Ramzan) prayers at Jamia Masjid. Muslims offered nightlong prayers in mosques and shrines on the occasion of Shab-e-Qadr.

Source: New Indian Express

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2 terrorists, involved in attacks on migrant labourers, killed in Pulwama encounter

Apr 29, 2022

SRINAGAR: Two local terrorists of Al-Badr outfit, responsible for recent attacks on migrant labourers in Kashmir, were killed in an encounter with security forces in Pulwama district late on Wednesday, police officials said on Thursday.

Inspector general of police, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar said a soldier was also injured during the initial exchange of fire. He was shifted to hospital for treatment, he added.

Following inputs regarding presence of terrorists in Mitrigam village of Pulwama, a search operation was launched by the security forces on Wednesday, he said.

During the search operation, as the security forces moved towards suspected spot, the hiding terrorists fired indiscriminately upon the search party which was retaliated that led to an encounter, he said.

After the evacuation of civilians from the area, the encounter resumed in which two local terrorists identified as Aijaz Hafiz of Dalipora, and Shahid Ayub of Dheeri Murran, linked with proscribed terror outfit Al-Badr, were killed and their bodies were retrieved from the spot, he said.

The killed terrorists were also involved in a series of recent terror attacks on migrant labourers in Pulwama. Hafiz was involved in firing upon migrant labourers namely Sonu Sharma, a native of Pathankot, at Yadder Pulwama, Mohammad Akram from UP's Bijnor at Arihal Pulwama and Vishwajeet Kumar of Banka in Bihar at Circular Road Gangoo, Pulwama, a police spokesman said.

“He was also involved in firing upon bank guard Abdul Hamid Wani, a resident of Tahab Pulwama, and sarpanch Ghulam Nabi Kumar of panchayat Halqa Arihal B at Arihal Pulwama. Besides these terror crimes, terrorist Hafiz was instrumental in recruiting Shahid Ayub into terrorist ranks, who, too, was neutralised in the encounter,” he said.

The spokesman said Ayub was involved in firing upon two migrant labourers namely Patlashwar Kumar and Joko Choudhary – both natives of Bihar – at Lajoora Pulwama. “Before joining terrorist ranks, he was working as a terrorist associate and was involved in several other terror crimes,” he said. Incriminating materials, arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of the encounter, police said.

IG Vijay Kumar has termed the operation as a big success and congratulated the joint forces for neutralising the terrorists involved in the recent terror attacks on migrant labourers.

Source: Times Of India

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India, Bangladesh made good progress in bilateral ties: Jaishankar

Apr 28, 2022

DHAKA: External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar on Thursday said despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, both India and Bangladesh have remained regularly in touch with each other in boosting bilateral ties.

Addressing the Joint Press Interaction in Dhaka, Jaishankar said: "My visit today, is aimed at continuing the progress in deepening our engagement. It is in keeping with the strength and spirit of our bilateral ties. As neighbours, the regularity and the informality and the cordiality of our interaction is a very good reflection of trust and confidence.

He also informed that he had the privilege to call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today afternoon and conveyed the greetings and good wishes of PM Modi.

"We discussed a number of issues. We reviewed bilateral ties as well as regional and global issues," he said.

Speaking on the 7th round of the Joint Consultative Commission, Jaishankar said that India is looking forward to welcoming Bangladesh counterpart AK Abdul Momen.

"This meeting will provide a good opportunity to lay the ground for the next level of our relationship which we hope would be underlined when the Prime Minister visits India," he said.

In view of our strong people-to-people connect, the External Affairs Minister noted that the connectivity between India and Bangladesh is back to pre-Covid levels. "we are looking at resuming cross-border bus and railway services, shortly after Eid."

"I am also very encouraged to see that decisions taken by our leaders last year to commemorate Maitree Diwas in 18 capitals apart from Dhaka and New Delhi, the establishment of the first Bangabandhu Chair in India, the Suborno Jayanti Scholarships for students from Bangladesh, and the Bangabandhu-Bapu Digital Exhibition have all been implemented. These are all in keeping with the spirit of solidarity between us which we hope to pass on to the younger generations," Jaishankar said further in the statement.

The External Affairs Minister also expressed satisfaction that the trade, disbursement of loans on bilateral projects, travel services and investment are at new heights and they have recovered the momentum which was lost during the Covid-19.

He asserted that India also looks forward to stronger sub-regional cooperation in connectivity and other areas.

Source: Times Of India

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Southeast Asia


After PJ MP sentenced for ‘insulting’ Shariah judiciary, fellow lawmakers say judges not immune from criticism

28 Apr 2022


KUALA LUMPUR, April 28 — A group of MPs said today they are concerned by the Shariah court sentencing Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah to seven days of jail for allegedly insulting the Shariah judicial system.

The MPs said any judge, either in the civil or Shariah system, should be open to criticism especially when it involves institutionalised problem such as how women are being seen as discriminated by state Islamic laws.

“Especially a person like Maria who has public duties as a member of Parliament. Her comments were not scurrilous or malicious. They were clearly done in good faith with the view that the Shariah legal system and other bodies would address them.

“Judges are by no means immune to public criticism and accountability to those they serve in order to place confidence in the judiciary,” the group said in a statement.

They said Maria’s sentencing which was done in her absence is unlawful, as it contradicts existing legal provisions on sentencing.

Maria on April 25 was sentenced to one week in jail by Shariah judge Mohamed Fouzi Mokhtar for contempt of court over her statement that was found to “belittle, demean and insult” the Islamic judicial system.

She had released a statement on September 5, 2019, pointing out that Muslim women in Malaysia are still being discriminated against under the Shariah judicial system here.

The statement was in response to a case initiated by prominent businessman Datuk SM Faisal SM Nasimuddin and the latter’s ex-wife Emilia Hanafi.

“We will stand by Maria in her exercise of her right of freedom of expression in raising matters of clear public interest albeit critical of the Shariah judicial system just as we would even if the civil system was the subject matter,” they added.

The statement was signed by a total of 79 MPs.

Among those were PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, former women’s minister Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Parti Amanah Negara president Mohamad Sabu, DAP secretary-general Anthony Loke, and Parti Warisan Sabah deputy president Datuk Darell Leiking.

Source: Malay Mail

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Cutting wages of those working from home unjustified, say unions

Esther Yap

April 29, 2022

PETALING JAYA: Two workers’ groups have objected to a proposal for reductions in the wages of employees working from home.

Commenting on a call by Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Shamsuddin Bardan, spokesmen for the National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE) and the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) told FMT they did not believe that companies were suffering reductions in productivity or profits as a result of allowing their workers to work from home.

NUBE general secretary J Solomon said businesses would have ordered their workers to return to the workplace if their productivity or profits were affected.

Shamsuddin was recently quoted as saying that travel allowances could be revoked in addition to pay cuts of between 10% and 12%.

But Solomon argued that companies whose employees were working from home were benefiting from reduced operational costs.

“Employees are working from home at their own expense, not their employers’. Hence, I don’t see the logic in employees taking any pay cut,” he said.

MTUC deputy president Mohd Effendy Abdul Ghani said reducing the wages of those working from home was unreasonable because they were helping their employers save on utilities, office space rental and other costs.

However, he said most workers were already looking forward to returning to their workplaces as they lacked resources at home.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Lawyer says MAIP’s bid to vary custody order will not prejudice Loh, children

V Anbalagan

April 29, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR: A Buddhist single mother and her three children, who were converted to Islam, will not be prejudiced should the Perlis Islamic Religious and Malay Council (MAIP) be given leave to intervene to vary a custody order, the High Court heard today

Lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla said leave ought to be given to the council as they were also an interested party.

“They will not be prejudiced if leave is given to MAIP to be a party to vary the custody order given to the mother (Loh Siew Hong),” the lawyer said in his submission.

MAIP is seeking to change the child custody terms given to Loh in a divorce petition last year so the council can provide Islamic education and training, and tithes to her 14-year-old twin daughters and 10-year-old son.

The council said it was doing so because the children were converted to Islam by their father in Perlis on July 7, 2020.

The names of the children cannot be mentioned nor their photographs be published due to a gag order issued by Judge Evrol Mariette Peters last month.

According to Haniff, MAIP does have a direct legal interest to intervene because it has statutory duty to look after the wellbeing, education, and guidance of Muslims who converted to Islam in Perlis.

He said the children’s conversion is a subject matter before a judicial review proceeding in another court but in this court, MAIP wants to be a party as it has a duty to take care of the welfare of the children.

Haniff said the children were prima facie Muslims and the Perlis state enactment allowed for unilateral conversion by a parent.

He also said Loh had impliedly waived her right to allow her husband M Nagashwaran to convert their children.

“She is a Buddhist but the children’s religious status in the birth certificates states they are Hindus. She has waived her right when the husband converted their children,” he added.

Loh and the children have been under media spotlight before and after the High Court in February allowed her habeas corpus application to regain custody of the children.

They were under the care of preacher Nazirah Nanthakumari Abdullah.

She has also filed for a declaration that a provision in the Perlis state enactment that allows for a parent to unilaterally convert minor children is unconstitutional.

She also wants a declaration that they are of the Hindu faith.

Meanwhile, Loh’s lead counsel A Srimurugan today submitted that the application by MAIP is a non-starter because the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act only governed non-Muslim marriages.

“MAIP has no locus standi in a civil court in its attempt to vary the custody order(which was finalised on March 31 last year) as the Act only applies to non-Muslim individuals,” he said

He said there was nothing for MAIP to intervene as Loh and her ex-husband’s divorce was finalised and custody of the children given to her.

“The only interested parties who can come to court to vary the custody order are family members of the couple,” he said.

He said the ex-husband’s unilateral conversion of the children was illegal as it went against the 2018 Federal Court ruling in the case of M Indira Gandhi.

Lawyer Shamsher Singh Thind said Loh and her children would be prejudiced should MAIP be given leave to argue that it could regulate the lives of the minors.

“They will once again be in the spotlight as social media will start reporting about them,” he said.

He said the MAIP should limit itself to providing assistance to Muslims born in Perlis.

“In our case, the children were born and raised in Kedah. They were only taken to Perlis to be converted,” he added.

Evrol reminded both parties after they had completed their submissions that this court was only concerned about the welfare and the rights of the children.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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We can probe any public official, including judges, says MACC

April 28, 2022

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has dismissed criticism over its probe into Court of Appeal judge Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, maintaining it has the authority to probe any public official, including judges.

It said this was provided for under the MACC Act 2009, and that public officials include workers of any public body including members of the government, MPs, assemblymen and judges.

MACC also pointed out that it had investigated other judges in the past with their investigation papers sent to the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), as was the norm.

“In line with the principle of separation of powers, after all probes are completed, investigation papers are referred to the AGC to decide whether to prosecute or not,” it said in a statement.

The agency reiterated that it bore the responsibility of confirming and investigating any reports it receives that fall under its jurisdiction.

It said three reports were filed over Nazlan’s case, on March 15 as well as April 23 and 27, and maintained that its probe was still at an early stage.

“When an investigation is initiated against any individual, it does not mean that the said individual has committed an offence.

“With that, the MACC asks the public to allow the investigation to be conducted.”

Nazlan lodged a police report last week over a news article alleging that he was being investigated for unexplained money in his bank account.

Nazlan was the trial judge who convicted and sentenced former prime minister Najib Razak on seven charges relating to RM42 million in funds belonging to SRC International on July 28, 2020.

Last December, the Court of Appeal upheld the conviction. An appeal against the conviction is pending before the Federal Court.

Among others, the Malaysian Bar said the Constitution provided for complaints of alleged judicial misconduct to be handled in a manner that ensured continued public confidence in the judiciary.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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There are ‘rats and cats’ in PH’s ‘big tent’, says Hadi

April 29, 2022

PETALING JAYA: PAS is staying away from Pakatan Harapan’s “big tent” because it is filled with “rats and cats” that are constantly fighting with one another, says party president Abdul Hadi Awang.

According to an Utusan Malaysia report, Hadi said the party will look to continue to strengthening the unity among Muslims.

PAS is a component party in the Bersatu-led Perikatan Nasional (PN). Though PAS is also part of the Muafakat Nasional (MN) alliance with Umno, ties between the two parties have become strained.

“PAS has its own group and we will continue focusing on Muslim unity.

“We do not want to join the ‘big tent’ because there are rats, cats and so on,” he told reporters at an event in Marang, Terengganu.

His comments come in the wake of PAS election director Sanusi Md Nor’s remarks that the party would stay out of PH’s “big tent”, a term used to describe the move to unite all opposition parties against Barisan Nasional (BN) in the next general election (GE15).

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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Promise to add halal vaccine to Indonesia booster programme

28 Apr 2022

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network): The Health Ministry has announced that it will add one of the more widely available Covid-19 vaccines with halal certification to the state-led booster jab rollout, in an effort to assuage the concerns of the country’s Muslim majority.

A ministry official confirmed on Tuesday (April 26) that it would add the CoronaVac vaccine, co-manufactured by state-run pharmaceuticals company BioFarma and China’s Sinovac Biotech, to its current roster of booster shot offerings.

The decision was made following a recent Supreme Court ruling calling on the government to offer halal-certified vaccines, to ensure that its many Muslim recipients have the option of getting faith-approved protections.

Ministry spokeswoman Siti Nadia Tarmizi told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday that her office had begun to redistribute its stockpile of Sinovac vaccines across the country, after saying on Monday that the government would “respect the Supreme Court’s decision” requiring halal vaccines to be offered in the state vaccination programme.

“For members of the public who feel more comfortable using Sinovac, we will open up the opportunity to use it as a booster vaccine option,” she said.

There are currently around 7 million Sinovac vaccines in the national stockpile, with Siti noting that they would gradually be available as a booster option in the near future.

In spite of its shortcomings, Indonesia’s Covid-19 response has been met by wide praise, in no small part thanks to the government’s swift procurement of vaccines from a variety of foreign manufacturers.

The global state of emergency had led the country’s conservative-leaning Muslim leaders to exempt the use of otherwise halal-uncertified vaccines, produced primarily in Western countries, in favour of immediate protection for its large population.

But now that the vaccination drive has shifted to providing additional immunity to the contagious disease, officials are hard pressed to offer more Muslim-friendly options, just as the nation heads into Islam’s most important holiday.

Indonesia has so far seen 164 million people, or some 78 per cent of the national targeted population of 208 million, fully inoculated. However, just under 17 per cent of the targeted population has received a third booster shot, which the government has made a mandatory travel requirement for the annual mudik (exodus) tradition.

Nearly 230 million of its 279 million-strong population are recorded as Muslim. According to the ministry, the national vaccination drive utilises five Covid-19 vaccines – produced by Sinovac, AstraZeneca (AZ), Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Janssen, respectively – all of which have secured emergency use authorization (EUA) from the national Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM).

Another vaccine, manufactured by Chinese state firm Sinopharm, has also obtained an EUA but is used only in the private sector-led Gotong Royong vaccination scheme.

However, only the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines, along with China’s Zivifax and the locally produced Merah Putih vaccine seed, have obtained halal certification from the nation’s top Islamic clerical body, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI).

Of all the halal-certified vaccines, only Sinovac has seen wide use in the national vaccination campaign.

In spite of this, the Sinovac vaccine was omitted from the state booster regimen, with Siti saying the decision was made so it could be set aside solely for minors, due to it being the only vaccine to date that is eligible for use among younger age groups.

Conversely, the AZ, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were declared haram, or forbidden under Islam, by the MUI, due to biological materials derived from swine.

However, they were still permitted for use (mubah) due to the state of emergency caused by the pandemic.

When the booster rollout first started in January, the third dose was initially only made available for first- and second-dose recipients of Sinovac and AZ vaccines, but was later amended to encourage wider protections.

The Supreme Court ruling that sparked this change in policy was granted in favour of a judicial review filed by the Indonesian Muslim Consumers Foundation (YMKI).

The group had sought to challenge Article 2 of Presidential Regulation No. 99/2020, which handed the authority to determine which vaccines to use to the government.

On April 14, the court found the regulation under scrutiny to have contravened Law No. 33/2020 on halal product guarantees, which stipulates that all products that enter, circulate and are traded within Indonesian territory must have halal certification.

In its ruling, which was made publicly accessible only last week, the bench concluded that the presidential regulation was non-binding if the government was unable to guarantee the halal status of Covid-19 vaccines.

“The government, in carrying out its Covid-19 vaccination programme, cannot impose its will on the public to be vaccinated for any reason and without condition, [...] unless there is a guarantee of the halal status of the Covid-19 vaccine,” the ruling stated.

Source: The Star

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Arab World


Arab Coalition to release 163 Houthi prisoners in ‘humanitarian initiative’

28 April ,2022

The Arab Coalition announced on Thursday that it will release 163 Houthi prisoners who participated in combat operations against the Kingdom in a “humanitarian initiative,” the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The Arab Coalition announced it will release 163 Houthi prisoners as part of a “humanitarian initiatives,” adding that these prisoners had participated in combat operations against the Kingdom, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Thursday.

The move falls within the context of previous humanitarian initiatives and aims to support efforts that seek to end the crisis in Yemen and achieve peace, Coalition Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Turki al-Maliki said.

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It also aims to fortify UN efforts to maintain the truce, which went into effect on April 2, prepare the atmosphere for dialogue among Yemeni actors and facilitate finalizing the prisoners’ and detainees’ issue in line with Muslim values and international principles, he added.

The fragile truce which began on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramazan has largely held, offering a glimmer of hope in war-torn Yemen.

“The Arab Coalition began finalizing the procedure to release all 163 prisoners in coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross to transfer them to Sanaa,” al-Maliki said.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Suspected ISIS gunmen kill 7 Syrians at Ramazan iftar meal

Apr 28, 2022

BEIRUT: Suspected Islamic State group gunmen have attacked a Ramazan gathering hosted by a former official of a US-backed group in eastern Syria, killing seven and wounding four, opposition activists said Thursday.

The Wednesday night attack in the Abu Khashab area in Deir el-Zour province targeted the home of a former spokesman with the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Euphrates Post news website.

Euphrates Post said the gunmen arrived on motorcycles and opened fire as the group was having an iftar — the fast-breaking meal during the Muslim holy month of Ramazan — at the home of former SDF spokesman Nouri Hameesh, who was among those killed.

Three years after ISIS lost the last sliver of territory it controlled, its sleeper cells have been increasing attacks in recent months, mainly targeting the Kurdish-led SDF but also forces from the Syrian government.

Source: Times Of India

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Lebanon oil spill clean-up continues over one year after catastrophe

29 April ,2022

Last year, a tanker leak caused by an accident off the coast of Israel unleashed massive waves of oil, tars, and other toxic contaminants across the southern shores of already crisis-stricken Lebanon.

Fearing an environmental disaster, residents and NGOs immediately began to mobilize to identify and clean up the affected areas in a concerted effort to minimize the damage.

“Our main concern was the intermediate, toxic effects a spill could have on the ecosystem,” Dr. Hisham Younes, Head of environmental NGO Green Southerners, told Al Arabiya English. “There was also concern about tar smothering endangered species since the spill hit many of their natural habitats.”

“Despite the limited resources and capabilities,” he continued, “the voluntary civic engagement in the coastal towns and cities of the South showed a growing sense of environmental awareness among local communities and their ability to take action.”

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Initially, then PM-Designate Hassan Diab was quick to request an assessment of the ecological damage from the National Council for Scientific Research (CNRS). Their findings would form the basis of the government’s response.

“Overall, the government’s response to the oil spill disaster was inconsistent, disproportionate, and weak,” Younes lamented. “Upon learning of the spill, we implemented a plan to limit its spread in the hope that the government would act almost immediately. However, this did not transpire.”

No governmental contingency plans emerged until two weeks after the spill. These directives were widely decried as insufficient and vague, based on a superficial CNRS report severely lacking in hard data. Without access to clear information or necessary equipment, municipalities could not act effectively against the encroaching environmental threat.

After more and more delays, the Lebanese government ultimately handed over responsibility for the cleanup to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). By that time, the toxic materials had become more deeply entrenched.

“[They] cleaned up the beach six months after the contamination,” Youssef Jundi, an instructor and marine photographer with the Lebanese Diving Center, explained. “This delay caused quantities [of tar] to be buried under the sand. Today, new quantities [are still being] detected on Adloun Beach.”

Official findings on the damages the spill has caused are still not comprehensive enough to assess the harm done accurately. Many concerns remain about the long-term ecological impact on marine life due to the disruption of food chains and breeding grounds.

Populations of sea turtles are particularly adversely affected by the contamination of the beaches they use as nesting sites. Females digging to bury their eggs are exposed to toxic materials beneath the surface of the sand, which also makes the process of digging more difficult.

Hatchlings can also become covered in the same sticky oil residue when they emerge from their nests, impeding their ability to move. It leaves them vulnerable to predators – which then ingest toxic materials themselves – or simply drying out and dying in the sun before they can reach the sea.

Local businesses, such as fishing operations and seaside resorts, have also faced ongoing difficulties. Already suffering due to the loss of tourism revenue from the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis, many coastal communities have been left devastated.

“We remain concerned about the long-term consequences of the spill,” said Younes. “We could not determine the [full] impact of the spill on fisheries and local fishing operations that were adversely impacted.”

“For beach-goers and swimming enthusiasts, there [has been] suffering at the public and free beaches,” Jundi explained. “The beaches are still not clean. Families that went into the sea had their feet and belongings contaminated.”

This lack of decisiveness on the part of the Lebanese state when it comes to environmental protection is an endemic problem for the country. In 2019, a series of forest fires decimated parts of Mount Lebanon due to the government’s failure to maintain its firefighting helicopters.

Much of the country’s waste is sent directly to landfills that have long since exceeded their specified capacities. In some areas, waste management is so lacking that garbage is not removed for weeks or even months at a time, resulting in illegal dumping and severe environmental pollution.

Since the onset of Lebanon’s ongoing financial meltdown, particularly in the aftermath of the Beirut port explosion in 2020, the lack of political will to tackle these issues has become even more problematic. Despite this, many Lebanese are becoming increasingly aware of the need to preserve their country’s precious natural resources.

“The level of environmental awareness is increasing, well ahead of government performance,” said Younes. “We need to reform and establish new laws to protect Lebanese wildlife species. These laws should determine the critical conservation status of species that are threatened, both in terrestrial ecosystems and marine ecosystems.”

With the official classification of three new nature reserves last year, located at Mount Harmon, Nmayriyeh, and Abbasieh, the Lebanese government has made overtures towards a greater level of environmental stewardship.

For the time being, it falls to the people of Lebanon, along with NGOs and international agencies, to take responsibility for its environmental health and biodiversity.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Bashar al-Assad's family likely worth $1-2 billion, US report says

28 April ,2022

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's family is likely worth $1-2 billion, the US State Department said Thursday, despite US-led efforts to isolate him over the brutal war.

In a report required by Congress, the State Department said it could only provide an “inexact estimate” with the Assads believed to hold assets under fictitious names or through opaque property dealings.

“Estimates based on open-source information generally put the Assad family net worth at between $1-2 billion,” said the publicly released part of the report, some of which was classified.

Quoting non-governmental and media reports, the State Department said that the Assads run “a complex patronage system including shell companies and corporate facades that serves as a tool for the regime to access financial resources.”

The estimate includes the president's wife, brother, sister, cousins and uncle, most of whom are under US sanctions.

The State Department said it did not have enough information on the net worth of the president's three children, the youngest of whom is 17.

The US Congress has led sanctions that aim to prevent a return to business as usual with Assad, who has regained control over most of Syria after a decade of war estimated to have killed nearly half a million people.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Saudi King, Crown Prince receive Turkey’s Erdogan during his first visit since 2017

28 April ,2022

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah Thursday evening, state news agency SPA reported.

Erdogan arrived on his first trip to the Kingdom since 2017 at King Abdulaziz International airport in Jeddah and was received by Governor of Mecca region Prince Khalid al-Faisal, Saudi state news agency SPA reported.

The Turkish Presidency had said earlier that the visit came at the invitation of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

“All aspects of the relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia will be reviewed, and steps aimed at enhancing the cooperation between the two countries will be discussed at the talks to be held as part of the visit. Besides bilateral relations, views on regional and international matters will be exchanged,” the Turkish statement said.

Ties between Saudi Arabia and Turkey have been strained after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

But Ankara has sought to improve ties with the Riyadh.

In addition to Saudi Arabia, Erdogan has also been working to mend his ties with other countries in the region as he faces domestic challenges at home brought on by an economy grappling with a currency crash and soaring inflation.

‘New era’

Speaking at a press conference before heading off to the Kingdom, Erdogan said: “My visit reflects our joint will to start a new era of cooperation as the two brotherly countries. We will be making efforts in order to start a new era of enhanced relations between our two countries in all respects including politics, military, economy and culture.”

“Saudi Arabia holds a special place for Turkey in terms of trade and investments as well as the large-scale projects implemented by our contractors. The total value of the projects our contractors have undertaken in Saudi Arabia reaches $24 billion. The complementary nature of our economies is the primary factor that attracts Saudi investors to the dynamic environment in Turkey,” he added.

“I see and believe that it is in our joint interest to boost our cooperation with Saudi Arabia in such areas as healthcare, energy, food security, agricultural technologies, defense industry and finance. It seems that we have significant potential particularly in renewable and green energy. We will hopefully discuss and thoroughly evaluate these issues.”

Source: Al Arabiya

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Israel PM Naftali Bennett’s family receives death threat and bullet in mail

28 April ,2022

The family of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has received a death threat and bullet in the mail for the second time this week, the police said on Thursday.

According to an Israeli official familiar with the matter, the target of the threats was Bennett’s 17-year-old son. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

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Officials have not said who might be behind the threats.

Bennett, who leads a small nationalist party, has come under heavy criticism from Israeli hard-liners who accuse him of abandoning his ideology. In 1995, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish ultranationalist opposed to his peacemaking attempts with the Palestinians.

Also, tensions have been heightened with the Palestinians recently following a series of deadly Palestinian attacks in Israeli cities, Israeli military raids in the occupied West Bank and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at a sensitive Jerusalem holy site.

In a nationwide speech marking Israel's Holocaust memorial day, Bennett lamented the deep polarization in Israeli society as he warned his citizens against letting internal divisions tear society apart.

“My brothers and sisters, we cannot, we simply cannot allow the same dangerous gene of factionalism dismantle Israel from within,” Bennett said in Wednesday night's ceremony, broadcast on national TV.

Bennett’s speech, coming on one of Israel’s most solemn days of the year, came in a deeply personal context. On Tuesday, his family received the first letter with a live bullet and a death threat.

Israeli authorities tightened security around the premier and his family and were investigating.

That prompted his son oldest son Yoni to write on Instagram how upsetting the episode had been.

“It’s just sad to see that real people write such horrible things,” he said. “To think that he lives and breathes like me but has a brain that was created by the devil is crazy.”

Israeli media said Yoni, who is 17, was the target of Thursday’s threats.

Police have said they are investigating both incidents. They have placed a gag order on the investigations and released few details.

Bennett leads a narrow coalition that recently lost its parliamentary majority. His government is made up of eight parties that have little in common beyond their shared animosity to former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Netanyahu, now the opposition leader, has worked hard to deepen divisions within the coalition.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Sheikh Sabri: Israel set to desecrate Aqsa Mosque, facilitate incursions by extremists

28 April 2022

A respected and senior Palestinian cleric has strongly condemned the latest wave of Israeli aggression against the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied Old City of al-Quds, saying that the Tel Aviv regime is set to further desecrate the holy site and facilitate relentless incursions by extremist settler groups.

“As everyone knows, tens of thousands of Muslims go to al-Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramazan and offer prayers there. The process is not pleasant to the occupying regime. Zionists are, therefore, trying to prevent worshipers from entering the sacred place by creating obstacles and tensions during Ramazan,” Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, president of the Supreme Islamic Council in al-Quds, said in an exclusive interview with Iran’s Arabic-language al-Alam television news network broadcast on Wednesday evening.

He said Israel is furtively seeking to reach its objectives, and has lately contacted officials from neighboring countries to feign that it is seeking a ceasefire and working to ease tensions.

“This is while the regime is dogged to escalate tensions, and the false claim of ceasefire is entirely meant to help occupiers and extremist Jewish groups achieve their goals,” Sabri noted.

The imam at Islam’s third holiest mosque and also the former mufti of al-Quds noted that extremist Jewish groups have found that the time is ripe to advance their goals, firstly because the current Israeli administration is in a weak position and relies on Jewish groups to survive, and secondly, Israelis have inclination toward extremism being spread by Jewish groups.

‘Normalization, Arab monarchs’ silence behind escalation of tensions’

Elsewhere in his remarks, Sabri said the latest developments in the Muslim world, especially the normalization of diplomatic relations and the silence of some Arab rulers, can be considered another reason for the escalation of tensions and violations of red lines by Israel.

He highlighted that the media coverage of Israeli acts of aggression against the al-Aqsa Mosque compound has put the Palestinian nation in a stronger position, and demonstrations were accordingly staged in Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia, Iran and even in the United States and Europe in support of al-Aqsa Mosque.

‘Zionists will have no right over al-Quds and al-Aqsa Mosque’

Sabri added that International Quds Day reminds Muslims worldwide, whose population is estimated to be at more than two billion, that al-Quds is a central issue and has a pivotal role.

International Quds Day falls on last Friday of holy month of Ramazan, during which people rally across the world in support of the Palestinian cause of liberation from Israeli aggression and occupation. The occasion has been designated by Imam Khomeini, the late founder of the Islamic Republic in Iran.

“Any action by the occupying Israeli regime is void, illegal and inhumane. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has described al-Quds as an occupied and historical city. No matter how much the occupiers would try to impose their laws, jurisdiction and administration there, they have no right to al-Quds and al-Aqsa Mosque,” the cleric said.

‘Zionists are weak’

He emphasized that political Palestinian factions, irrespective of some differences between them, agree on the need for popular mobilization in order to defend al-Aqsa Mosque.

Source: Press TV

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People worldwide mark Quds Day in solidarity with Palestinians

Friday, 29 April 2022

Millions of people have taken to the streets for Quds Day rallies around the world to show solidarity with the Palestinians and condemn Israeli atrocities against them.

In Iran, demonstrations started at 10 a.m. local time (0530 GMT) in Tehran and some 900 others cities and towns across the country.

People taking part in the rallies seek to communicate to the world the deplorable conditions inflicted by Israel upon the Palestinians and press the Israeli regime to respect their rights.

They are also using the opportunity to highlight Israel’s decades-long occupation of Palestine and the regime’s atrocities against the Palestinians.

Final statement calls for ‘beefing up anti-Israel resistance’

At the end of the rallies, a statement was issued that described the liberation of the holy city of Quds, freedom of the oppressed and defenseless Palestinian nation from the clutches of the occupying Zionist regime, and annihilation of the Israel regime as the lofty ideals of the Muslim world.

It denounced concessions and normalization of diplomatic relations with the usurping Tel Aviv regime as an act of unforgivable treason and a fiendish plot aimed at weakening the anti-Israel resistance front and liquidation of the Palestinian cause.

“We condemn any attempt, which would seek to deviate the public opinion of the Muslim world away from the evil scheme,” the statement read.

It also referred to the International Quds Day and support of Palestinians as the guarantor of Iran’s national security and the key to the unity of the Muslim Ummah against the conspiracies of colonial and arrogant powers.

The statement went on to stress the need for beefing up the anti-Israel resistance front, calling on regional and international organizations to adopt decisive and practical positions, back the sole solution to the Palestinian issue, which is based on the return of Palestinian refugees and a comprehensive and free referendum, and oppose any alternative, oppressive and sham initiative in its place.

It noted that the successive defeats of the United States, the Israeli regime, and Saudi Arabia in the strategic West Asia region have dispelled the invincibility myth of the Israeli army and the regime’s security apparatus and indicated that colonialism and Zionism are in decline in the region.

“We emphasize that the Islamic Republic of Iran Armed Forces firmly, completely, and effectively support the anti-Israel resistance front, especially the zealous and courageous Palestinian fighters,” the statement pointed out.

The statement also decried the deadly silence of the international community and human rights organizations vis-à-vis the racist practices, genocide, and inhumane crimes of the bogus Israeli regime.

It highlighted that the Tel Aviv regime has perpetrated evil crimes against various nations, especially Palestinians, and has been involved in criminal acts against the Iranian people and the assassination of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear scientists.

“We demand responsible and relevant institutions as well as members of the press to use existing capacities and opportunities to expound on Israel’s long list of crimes, and to explain to the young generation the reasons behind Iran's support for the Intifada (Palestinian uprising) and the Palestinian issue,” the statement read.

Over the past two years, Iran had replaced street rallies with online events to commemorate the International Quds Day as a deadly coronavirus pandemic had restricted mass gatherings across the globe.

Every year on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramazan, worldwide rallies are held to commemorate the Palestinian people’s resistance against Israel and their struggle to liberate their territories, which have been occupied by Israel for decades.

The annual event is seen as an opportunity for freedom-seeking people across the world, regardless of faith, to voice their support for the Palestinian cause and vent their anger against the apartheid regime in Tel Aviv, which has occupied Palestinian territories since 1967.

The International Quds Day is among the legacies of the late founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Imam Khomeini, who is revered as a spiritual leader by Muslims across the world. Back in 1979, shortly after leading an Islamic Revolution which toppled the US-backed Shah of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini named the last Friday of the fasting month of Ramazan the Quds Day.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces have continued their attacks against Palestinian worshipers at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of occupied al-Quds.

The troops fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the crowd.

At least three people were injured as a result, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

Tensions have remained high in the occupied Palestinian territories over the past several weeks. The situation is particularly tense in al-Quds, where the al-Aqsa Mosque compound is located.

Israeli troops have on various occasions attacked Palestinian worshipers there, as they gathered for prayers during the holy month of Ramazan.

The desecration of the mosque has drawn widespread condemnation, with Palestinian resistance groups promising a firm response.

Bahrainis rally to protest normalization with Israel, voice support for Palestine

Hundreds of people in Bahrain have once again staged demonstrations to protest against the Manama regime’s normalization of ties with Israel and to express their unwavering support for the oppressed Palestinian nation.

Bahrainis held rallies in the villages of Abu Saiba, Sanabis, and Samaheej as well as Bilad al-Qadeem suburb of the capital Manama to voice strong protest against Manama’s concession to Israel and the opening of Tel Aviv’s embassy in the Persian Gulf country.

They held up the portraits of the country’s most prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassem and voiced strong support for Palestinians.

Iraqis rally to mark Intl. Quds Day

Elsewhere in the southern Iraqi port city of Basra, hundreds of people took to the streets to mark the International Quds Day.

Source: Press TV

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Houthi: Co-existence with Israeli regime impossible

28 April 2022

The leader of Yemen’s Ansarullah resistance movement reprimands the regional states that have “normalized” their relations with the Israeli regime.

Delivering an address on Thursday, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi censured the occupying entity as a “corrupt regime,” adding, “The Zionist regime is not an ordinary regime, with which one can enter [a state] of coexistence.”

The regime’s existence in the region is aimed at “implementation of its corrupt and destructive role here,” Houthi added.

The hypocritical regional regimes that have “normalized” their ties with the occupying entity are trying to change Muslim nations’ attitude towards Tel Aviv, he said.

Back in 2020, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain entered United States-brokered so-called “peace deals” with the Israeli regime. Some other regional states, namely Sudan and Morocco, followed suit.

Blasting the regional countries for their compromise with the Muslim nations’ adversary, the Ansarullah leader said that “the Zionist regime has been founded on crime, plunder, and occupation.”

The countries that have been fraternizing Israel, which also include Saudi Arabia, were are to convince the regional peoples that the Israeli regime is “an ally and a friend,” Houthi added.

“The Emirati, Saudi, and the Al Khalifah regimes have mobilized their media to [advertise] alignment with the enemy,” he said, adding that the compromising states are even trying to “raise generations, which are dependent on the Israeli enemy.”

The remarks came on the eve of the last Friday of the holy fasting month of Ramazan, which has been named by the late founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Imam Khomeini, as the International Quds Day.

Al-Houthi said Imam Khomeini named the occasion so as to remind Muslims’ of their duty towards the issue of Palestine.

Source: Press TV

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IRGC chief: Resistance sole way to liberation of Palestine

28 April 2022

Chief Commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Hossein Salami says negotiations and accords brokered by the United States only aim to buy time for Israel, and weaken the Palestinian resistance front.

The senior commander made the remarks in a televised address to a ceremony in Gaza City on Thursday, on the eve of International Quds Day.

“The so-called peace treaties like the Camp David Accords, the Oslo Accords, the Sharm El Sheikh Memorandum etc have never been and will never be able to result in the liberation of Palestine.

"All such accords, which former US presidents, [former Israeli prime ministers Ehud] Olmert, [Benjamin] Netanyahu, Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin tried to seal, as well as the deal of century are nothing but deception and a conspiracy to marginalize jihad, weaken the resistance front, buy time and obliterate the awareness of the nations,” he stated.

He underscored that Palestinian people have come to realize that they will not achieve their goals except through resistance and struggle in the path of God (jihad).

Salami described the recent developments in the occupied Palestinian territories as a sign of the Israeli regime’s brutality and the strength of resistance groups, stressing that Palestinian resistance fighters have reinforced the Muslim Ummah and changed the balance of power in the region.

The IRGC chief hailed International Quds Day as a gift from Imam Khomeini, the late founder of the Islamic Republic in Iran, stating that the designation of the last Friday of the holy month of Ramazan for the event put Palestine a top priority for the entire Muslim world.

“Palestinian people are close to victory as the Zionist enemy is growing weaker. Weakness inside the Zionist entity is evident in its politics, economy and security apparatus, he said.

“All Muslims around the world are united with Palestinians in the struggle against the Israeli regime. Al-Quds and al-Aqsa Mosque are symbols of unity among Muslims in support of Palestinians,” Salami pointed out.

IRGC: Events herald Israel's imminent end

Earlier, the IRGC said current developments in the occupied Palestinian territories show that the demise of Israel is imminent and the regime is doomed to end very soon.

“Recent developments, particularly the fact that the flames of Intifada (uprising) have passed through the inner walls of the regime, suggest that the Tel Aviv regime’s days are numbered and occupiers of holy al-Quds are quickly nearing their end,” the force said in a statement released on the eve of International Quds Day.

It lauded the decision by Imam Khomeini to designate the last Friday of the holy month of Ramazan as International Quds Day, describing the prudent initiative and historic move as a novel phenomenon and a source of pride for the Iranian nation to play an effective role in supporting the oppressed Palestinian nation.

The IRGC underlined that free and justice-seeking nations have joined forces more than ever to support the oppressed Palestinians, the Palestinian cause and the liberation of al-Quds.

“Zionists thought they could consign the Palestinian issue and the cause of al-Quds to oblivion by following satanic schemes such as the so-called 'Deal of the Century' and normalization of ties with some Arab countries. They were, however, wrong and their dream of sustainable and permanent security has now been broken,” the statement read.

The statement further stressed that the discourse of resistance and support for Palestine states that an end to the Israeli occupation, expulsion of occupiers, return of Palestinian refugees and free elections are the only solution to the Palestinian issue.

The IRGC went on to term any concession, including normalization of ties with the child-killing regime of Israel as an act of treason, emphasizing such bids are doomed to failure.

Hamas official: Normalization with Israel a crime

Meanwhile, a high-ranking official from the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement said the Arab states that have normalized diplomatic ties with the Israeli regime have not only committed a grave crime against Palestinians but also their own peoples.

Khalil al-Hayya, a member of the Hamas political bureau and the deputy chief in the Gaza Strip, made the remarks in an exclusive interview with Iran’s English-language Press TV television news network on Thursday ahead of International Quds Day.

Hayya slammed normalization with Israel as the regime kills Palestinian civilians, including women and children, in cold blood.

He stressed that establishment of relations with Israel only serves the best interests of the United States and the Tel Aviv regime.

The senior Hamas official said Palestinians are a nation under occupation and reserve the right to defend themselves against Israeli occupiers.

Source: Press TV

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At least 42 hurt in clashes at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound: Report

29 April ,2022

Fresh clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound injured 42 people on Friday, the Palestinian Red Crescent said, following weeks of violence at the flashpoint site.

An earlier update from the Palestinian Red Cross said that 12 people were injured.

Israel’s police said forces entered the compound after “rioters” hurled stones and fireworks, including down towards the Western Wall, the sacred Jewish site below al-Aqsa.

The statement said officers used “riot dispersal means” to contain the unrest. Witnesses and AFP reporters said police fired tear gas and rubber bullets.

The Red Crescent said that most of those injured suffered “upper body injuries.”

The clashes had eased following morning prayers, according to witnesses and AFP reporters.

But tensions remain high at the site in the heart of Jerusalem’s old, walled city, part of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

Over the past two weeks, more than 250 Palestinians have been injured in clashes at the al-Aqsa compound, Islam’s third-holiest site which is the most holy site for Jews, who call it the Temple Mount.

The fresh unrest comes as Muslims mark the final Friday in the holy month of Ramazan, which is due to end early next week.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Iran moves centrifuge-parts workshop underground at Natanz, IAEA says

28 April ,2022

Iran's new workshop at Natanz for making parts for centrifuges, machines that enrich uranium, has been set up underground, UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi said on Thursday, a move apparently aimed at protecting it from possible attacks.

The workshop uses machines from a now-closed facility at Karaj that suffered what Tehran says was a sabotage attack by its arch-foe Israel. The workshop can make parts essential to advanced centrifuges that are among the most efficient in Iran's enrichment program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency informed its member states two weeks ago that Iran had moved the machines to Natanz without specifying where at the sprawling site, which includes the underground Fuel Enrichment Plant where Iran has thousands of centrifuges operating.

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Grossi told a news conference the workshop had been set up in “one of the halls” of the FEP. Diplomats say the plant is roughly three floors below ground, possibly to protect it from potential air strikes.

Until now Iran has used the FEP only for enrichment. It is the one facility where the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers allows Iran to produce enriched uranium, but only with its first-generation IR-1 centrifuges, which are far less efficient than Iran's more advanced models.

“They said that it is ready to operate,” the IAEA's chief inspector, Massimo Aparo, said of the workshop.

The 2015 deal has been eroding since then-President Donald Trump pulled the US out of it in 2018. Iran later breached various restrictions the deal imposed on its nuclear activities, like caps on the purity to which it enriches uranium or its stockpile of enriched material.
Source: Al Arabiya

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Scores injured after Palestinians clash with Israeli police at Jerusalem holy site

April 29, 2022

JERUSALEM: Fresh clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound injured 42 people on Friday, the Palestinian Red Crescent said, following weeks of violence at the flashpoint site.

The unrest came on the final Friday in the Muslim holy month of Ramazan. None of the injuries were serious, the Red Crescent said, adding that 22 people had been taken to hospital.

Israel’s police said forces entered the compound after “rioters” hurled stones and fireworks, including down toward the Western Wall, the sacred Jewish site below Al-Aqsa.

The statement said officers used “riot dispersal means” to contain the unrest. Witnesses and AFP reporters said police fired tear gas and rubber bullets.

Police said three people had been arrested, two for throwing stones and one for “inciting the mob.”

“For the past hour, the site has been quiet and (Muslim) worshippers are safely entering (the compound)” police said.

But tensions remain high at the site in the heart of Jerusalem’s old, walled city, part of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

Over the past two weeks, nearly 300 Palestinians have been injured in clashes at the Al-Aqsa compound, Islam’s third-holiest site which is the most holy site for Jews, who call it the Temple Mount.

Israel’s incursions into the site during Ramazan have raised global concern, but the Jewish state has insisted it was compelled to act against operatives from the Islamist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad who were seeking to spark widespread unrest across Jerusalem.

In an apparent attempt to ease tensions, Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has stressed that the government was committed to the status quo at the compound, meaning an adherence to long-standing convention that only Muslims are allowed to pray there.

Jews are allowed to visit the Temple Mount.

Muslim leaders have, however, been angered by a recent uptick in such visits/ Some voiced fears that Israel was seeking to divide the compound and create a space where Jews may worship. Lapid told journalists that no such plan exists.

The fresh unrest comes as the end of Ramazan early next week.

Violence in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem has raised fears of another armed conflict similar to an 11-day war last year between Israel and the militant group Hamas, triggered by similar unrest at Al-Aqsa.

Recent weeks have seen isolated rocket fire from Gaza toward Israel and Israeli reprisals, but no casualties reported on either side.

The Al-Aqsa tensions have come against a backdrop of violence since March 22 in Israel and the occupied West Bank. Twelve Israelis, including an Arab-Israeli police officer, and two Ukrainians were killed in four separate attacks inside Israel. Two of the deadly attacks were carried out in the Tel Aviv area by Palestinians.

Source: Arab News

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Tinubu urges prayers for Nigeria as Assembly holds Tawaf in Mecca

By Kehinde Olatunji

29 April 2022

The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and presidential aspirant, Bola Tinubu, yesterday urged Nigerians to pray for President Muhammadu Buhari and other leaders in their efforts to resolve Nigeria’s challenges.

Tinubu stated this at a special tawaf by the Lagos State House of Assembly in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

He also commended the Assembly for the successes recorded so far under the Speaker, Mudasiru Obasa, just as he appreciated members of the House, who took part in the Tawaf.

In a statement, Tinubu, while reacting to the calls for prayers, thanked the lawmakers for the initiative and described it as an “important decision.”

He, however, urged them to pray for the country as well.

The statement reads: “As Muslim faithful continue their fasting and supplications to Allah in this Holy month of Ramazan, I express my gratitude to the Lagos State House of Assembly for their decision to organise a special Tawaf (circumambulation of Holy Kaabah) and prayer session for me today (Thursday) in Mecca.

“I am most honoured by this gesture purposed to be in furtherance of similar prayers seeking God’s blessings for my aspiration to lead the Nigeria from 2023.

“However, while thanking Speaker Mudasiru Obasa and all members of the Lagos State House of Assembly for this important decision, I enjoin the Speaker and his colleagues to go beyond my ambition and pray for Nigeria as well.

“I urge them to intercede on behalf of the nation and beseech Almighty Allah for an end to the challenges in the country.

“I urge them to pray for President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration in their efforts to surmount these challenges.

Source: Guardian Nigeria

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Somalia elects speaker, paves way for presidential vote

April 28, 2022

MOGADISHU: Somalia’s parliament elected a veteran politician as speaker of the lower house on Thursday, as the fragile nation edges closer to holding a delayed presidential vote.

The election is well over a year behind schedule, marred by deadly violence and a power struggle between the current president and the prime minister.

Somalia’s international partners have been pushing for the process to pick up speed, fearing the delays were distracting from the country’s myriad problems including the fight against Al-Shabab extremists and the threat of famine.

Following the election of the upper house speaker on Tuesday, lawmakers in the lower house chose Sheikh Adan Mohamed Nur, better known as Sheikh Adan Madobe, as speaker in a drawn-out process that extended into two rounds and only concluded in the early hours of Thursday.

The vote took place in a tent inside Mogadishu’s heavily-guarded airport complex under tight security, following a spate of attacks in recent weeks by Al-Shabab which has been waging an insurgency against the government for more than a decade.

It had been due to take place on Wednesday but was delayed by a dispute over who should provide security at the venue, highlighting the continuing rifts between President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known as Farmajo, and Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble.

Madobe, 66, who had previously served as speaker between 2007 and 2010, secured 163 votes out of the 252 ballots cast. He is not known to be allied with either the president or prime minister.

Farmajo congratulated Madobe, saying in a statement that he hoped his election “becomes a starting point for a greater change that saves the country.”

Roble also offered his congratulations on Twitter, urging the speakers of both houses to “carry out their responsibilities and conduct the presidential election in a transparent, prompt and peaceful manner.”

On Tuesday, 76-year-old Abdi Hashi Abdullahi was re-elected speaker of the upper house.

Parliament will now set a date for lawmakers to choose a president — the country has not held a one-person, one-vote election in 50 years.

Farmajo’s mandate expired in February 2021 but in the absence of agreement on elections, he tried to extend his rule by decree, sparking violent street battles in Mogadishu.

Under pressure from the international community, he appointed Roble to seek consensus on a way forward.

But the pair’s disagreements have hindered progress and stoked fears of further instability.

In addition, a crucial IMF three-year $400 million (380 million euros) financial assistance package for Somalia will automatically expire in mid-May if a new administration is not in place.

On Wednesday, Somalia’s international backers warned that “political tensions and security incidents must not be permitted to disrupt (the election’s) final stages.”

“We urge all Somali leaders to exercise restraint, resolve differences through compromise, and avoid escalation of any incidents.”

Polls in Somalia follow a complex indirect model, whereby state legislatures and clan delegates pick lawmakers for the national parliament, who in turn choose the president.

The voting process has seen a number of attacks by the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab which frequently strikes at civilian, military and government targets in Somalia’s capital and elsewhere in the country.

Source: Arab News

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Nigerians rally in solidarity with Palestinians on Intl. Quds Day

29 April 2022

Nigerian people have taken to the streets in the northern city of Kano to show solidarity with the oppressed  Palestinians on the International Quds Day.

Demonstrators carried Palestinian flags, chanted slogans against Israeli atrocities and called for the liberation of occupied territories.

Some of the protesters held pictures of Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic movement in Nigeria on the eve of the Quds Day asking the Nigerian government to allow the cleric to go abroad for medical treatment.

Sheikh Zakzaki was released from prison last year. He had been detained by the army in 2015 following a deadly raid on his home. He still suffers from serious health problems caused by gunshot wounds.

Source: Press TV

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