New Age Islam
Wed Dec 02 2020, 11:31 PM

Islamic World News ( 15 Feb 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Framers of Constitution Rejected Notion Of Hindu India And Muslim India: Supreme Court Justice Chandrachud





Framers of Constitution Rejected Notion Of Hindu India And Muslim India: Supreme Court Justice Chandrachud

Leader of the Islamic Revolution: Need to Promote Islamic Lifestyle

Seize the Moment And End Misery Of Over 40 Years Of War, Khalilzad Urges Afghans

Marawi City Shari’a District Court Judge, Wife Scolded By SC For Unauthorized Mecca Pilgrimage

Saudi Newspaper Slams Muslim Brotherhood As ‘Nazis’

US Officials Question Detroit-Area Imam Who Mourned Soleimani

Pakistan, Turkey Pondering Over Joint Projects for Promotion of Islamic Heritage: Firdous

Trump’s Invisible Wall Is Not Just for Muslims

Tunisian Islamist Party Says Will Not To Grant Confidence To New Government

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India

Framers of Constitution Rejected Notion Of Hindu India And Muslim India: Supreme Court Justice Chandrachud

TN Muslim organisations protest police lathicharge in Chennai

Anti-CAA agitation: CPM once again extends a hand to the Muslim League

Cong Ups Ante On 4% Reservations for Muslims In Telangana

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Mideast

Leader of the Islamic Revolution: Need to Promote Islamic Lifestyle

Air strikes on Yemen kill 31 civilians after Saudi jet crash

Islamic Revolution paved way for women to be active: Pres. Rouhani

Where is the place of Islamic Revolution in world calculations?

41st anniversary of victory of Islamic Revolution held on Ivory Coast

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South Asia

Seize the Moment And End Misery Of Over 40 Years Of War, Khalilzad Urges Afghans

Islamic congregation begins in Saptari

5 Taliban militants killed, 25 IEDs defused in Kandahar

The phobia of novel China’s Coronavirus and the fate of Afghan students in Wuhan

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Southeast Asia

Marawi City Shari’a District Court Judge, Wife Scolded By SC For Unauthorized Mecca Pilgrimage

Make Islamic Finance Part Of Halal Ecosystem, Says INCEIF

30 attend workshop on mosque tourism

Uncle at Tiong Bahru mosque shows how to use hand sanitiser, ends with impeccable finger heart

Former sports minister Imam Nahrawi indicted for accepting Rp 20 billion in bribes

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Arab world

Saudi Newspaper Slams Muslim Brotherhood As ‘Nazis’

Muslim World League Chief, Croatian President Discuss Ways to Promote Tolerance

Ivanka Trump tours Louvre Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Saudi crackdown over Iqama misuse not Pakistan-specific: FO

Sheikh Mohammed, Sheikh Hamdan arrive at Global Women's Forum Dubai

Rockets strike near US embassy in Iraq, no casualties reported

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Europe

US Officials Question Detroit-Area Imam Who Mourned Soleimani

Jihad Jane: ‘This story has nothing to do with religion’

Teenager’s attack on Islam tests France’s stance on religion

Rochester's Ahmadiyya Muslim Community uses public service to celebrate

Muslim couple condemns court ruling allowing doctors to let their baby die

Europe honors Gen. Soleimani: Posters adorn cities across Italy

Turkey hits back at Russia claims over Syria's Idlib Chinese tourist in France is Europe's first coronavirus death

 

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Pakistan

Pakistan, Turkey Pondering Over Joint Projects for Promotion of Islamic Heritage: Firdous

UN chief arrives in Islamabad on 4-day official visit

Princess Beatrice of York, former EU leaders visiting Pakistan for ski trip

CPNE president condoles Naeemul Haque’s demise

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North America

Trump’s Invisible Wall Is Not Just for Muslims

US defence chief says Taliban deal is promising but not without risk

Don Brown: Deadly 'green on blue' attacks by Islamic allied nation troops against Americans must end

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Africa

Tunisian Islamist Party Says Will Not To Grant Confidence To New Government

Bugiri imam is sixth Muslim cleric to be killed in five years

Performance of Islamic banking in Morocco is below expectations

More than 6,000 bodies found in Burundi mass graves

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/framers-of-constitution-rejected-notion-of-hindu-india-and-muslim-india--supreme-court-justice-chandrachud/d/121076

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India

 

Muslims Lead Anti-CAA Protests In Bengal But Hindus Look The Other Way

Rajat Roy

16-02-2020

Sameeda Khatun was a regular at the sit-in at Park Circus, Calcutta, since the very first day—January 7. Until she passed away on February 2. The loudspeakers were switched off at the protest site the next day as a mark of respect to the 56-year-old. Protestors got together to offer financial support to her family, but the larger community, especially Hindus, did little to express solidarity with them. This is symbolic of a pattern in the ongoing movement against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in West Bengal—Muslims, fearing further segregation and marginalisation, are leading the movement, but most Hindus are not joining them. “Why are there no such sit-INS in Jadavpur University and other Hindu-dominated places?” asks Sabir Ahmed, a researcher with Pratichi Institute. CPI(M) leader and Jadavpur University professor Partha Pratim Biswas says a sit-in at “Bansdroni or similar places in Calcutta and its suburbs where Hindu refugees reside would have gone a long way to bridge the gap between Muslims and Hindus in the movement”. The Hindu refugees, once supporters of the Left, are not responding to the call to mobilise against CAA. The TMC and the Congress too are organising marches and demonstrations, but those run parallel to the movement of ordinary citizens spearheaded by Muslims, who are more than 28 per cent of the population, with students and women at the frontline of street agitations across Bengal.

“We know Muslims would be against us, but we will surely win the support of the majority within the Hindu community,” says BJP state vice president Jayprakash Majumdar. BJP and RSS workers are campaigning door to door in Hindu-dominated areas of districts such as Murshidabad, Malda and Birbhum. “A few elite Hindus are with us and leading the protest in the district town, but mostly Muslims are participating in ­protests in rural Bengal,” says Tahedil Islam, leader of a small organisation campaigning against CAA in Murshi­dabad, a district with 66 per cent Muslim population.  In Malda, which is 51 per cent Muslim, the BJP is wooing adivasis and bahujan castes like the Rajbonshis. Last year, adivasi politician Khagen Murmu was elected from the Malda (North) Lok Sabha constituency after switching from the CPI(M) to the BJP.

“Muslims would be against us, but we will surely win the support of most Hindus,” says a top Bengal BJP leader.

On February 2, Dharma Prasar Bibhag, a wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, ­organised a mass wedding for 133 adivasi couples—many already living as partners, some with grown-up children—with much fanfare in Malda. Protesting against what they saw as a cultural ­invasion, adivasi protestors ended up vandalising the yagna pandal before the police intervened. Mohan Hansda of the Jharkhand Disham Party said it was a ploy of the BJP and the VHP to convert adivasis to Hinduism. Adivasis are being encouraged to inculcate Hindu rituals—in the case of marriage, applying vermilion on the forehead of the bride and holding yagna. At the Malda mass ­wedding, the VHP also issued the ­couples a marriage certificate. A spokesman argued that people are looking for certificates in the post-CAA situation, and this would help them.

In Birbhum, the Bangla Sanskriti Mancha (BSM), a five-year-old citizens’ organisation, has managed to wean away a number of adivasis from the BJP camp. Some of the adivasi youth had been seen campaigning for the BJP during the 2019 elections. Adivasis, Dalits and Muslims are holding protest marches and rallies together. According to BSM president and college teacher Samirul Islam, they have also been partially successful in ­encouraging Hindus to join the protests. At meetings of small groups of Hindus and Muslims, they talk about why even Hindu refugees are not safe—that they would have to prove their citizenship with legacy certificates to figure on the National Register of Citizens. “This gets a positive response in some Hindu-majority areas,” says Samirul.

https://www.outlookindia.com/magazine/story/india-news-muslims-lead-anti-caa-protests-in-bengal-but-hindus-look-the-other-way/302766

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How Muslims are creating a new vocabulary of secularism for Indian democracy

5 hours ago

Sharik Laliwala

The demonstrations against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens have re-inserted secularism into India’s mainstream political vocabulary. This shift in political discourse has come at the behest of the Muslim community and was then picked up by students, civil society groups and political parties. The arguments made by the Muslim community – even by Islamic activists – against these citizenship initiatives are mostly articulated in the language of Constitutional rights guaranteed to all Indians.

This focus on fundamental rights belies the conventional wisdom that the hegemony of majoritarian politics would provoke radical tendencies among the Indian Muslims. The onslaught of Hindutva politics, implemented by the Bharatiya Janata Party, is increasing state hostility against Muslims day by day. It is exacerbating their socio-economic marginalisation. Bias against Muslims is not just evident in the deliberate misconduct by police forces but is even written into the law. For instance, the Disturbed Areas Act in Gujarat severely restricts property transactions between Hindus and Muslims in urban Gujarat to “maintain demographic equilibrium”.

On top of that, the Muslim community’s political representation is at one of its worst levels since Independence: the current Lok Sabha has only 25 Muslim MPs out of 543 MPs, six more than in the last Lok Sabha. This translates into a little over 4.5% share in the Lok Sabha, even though Muslims form 14.2% of India’s population. In January 2018, out of BJP’s 1,418 MLAs, only four were Muslim – though the BJP’s dominance in Northern and Western Indian states has somewhat faded since then.

Despite this, the growing invisibilisation of Indian Muslims – the “fifth column” of Indian society for the Hindu nationalists – has not led to radicalisation, barring exceptional instances in Jammu and Kashmir and a few anecdotal instances in Kerala. To the contrary, as the recent pro-democracy protests show, India’s Muslims are introducing a new vernacular idiom of secularism through civic symbols while sometimes innovatively merging them with religious motifs.

This signifies a fundamental transformation in the political strategy of the Muslim community over the years: Indian Muslims are privileging a language of rights over the religious-moral duties emphasised by Islamic reformists.

Muslim feminist groups have almost always employed an understanding of human rights. A case in point is Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, which has been vocal about women being denied entry to dargahs and demanding autonomy over personal life decisions. However, the “non-religious” groups among Muslims – such as pasmanda, or low-caste and Dalit Muslims, organisations working primarily in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, have devoted their energies to addressing the question of caste-based socio-economic backwardness among Muslims through representative politics.

In the current pro-democracy protests, especially by leaderless Muslim women in many parts of India, the act of holding portraits of BR Ambedkar, MK Gandhi, Savitribai Phule; reading the Preamble of the Indian Constitution; and upholding the national flag have been prioritised over religious ideals, at least in the public sphere. Indeed, the storm of Hindutva is making Muslims secular – quite unlike, Mohammad Iqbal’s poetic revelation about the “storm of West”. This is not to claim that Indian Muslims were not aligned with secular aims earlier, but to indicate that the active assertion of constitutional and secular symbols is their new and unique contribution.

Women are leading the Citizenship Amendment Act protest at Delhi's Shaheen Bagh. Credit: Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters

To speak this rights-based language more confidently, Muslims are increasingly adopting socio-political and educational means for progress, reducing the emphasis on moral reform. Despite the stereotype, most Muslim children in India attend secular schools. In 2006, only 7% of Muslim children of school-going age (7-19 years) attended a madrassa. Half of those who went to a madrassa undertook part-time religious education as they also attended a mainstream school.

Even Islamists have begun to articulate themselves through a rights-centred vocabulary, though they often prefer religious morality over constitutional ideals, especially on the issue of personal law and religious practices.

My research on two Islamic reformist organisations operating in Gujarat, a state that was the laboratory for Hindu nationalist politics, confirms this discernible shift in prioritising socio-economic concerns over reformist activities. For example, Muslim charity schools run by these groups, with gender-segregated classrooms and a part-time religious syllabus, use the state-prescribed curriculum – in some sense, merging the site of a secular school with that of a part-time madrassa. Their aim is clear: to develop skills and learning capacities among Muslim children in light of continuous state neglect. By doing so, these Islamic activists negotiate secular modernity on their own terms, via justifications from Islam. They find a new moral ground to adopt secular positions by somewhat renouncing rigidities held regarding the infallibility of religious truth.

My findings are congruent with those described by Irfan Ahmed in his 2009 book Islamism and Democracy in India, which traces the remarkable metamorphosis in the value system of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, an Islamist group founded in 1941. From a rejection of secular democracy and nationalism around the time of the Indian subcontinent’s Partition, the Jamaat began to trust religious pluralism, tolerance and a democratic system, particularly from the 1990s. These ideological transformations are most crucial, given Jamaat’s support to the Pakistan movement, including its role in Pakistan’s Islamisation project and alleged participation in terrorist activities through its student wing, Students’ Islamic Movement of India.

The Jamaat in India has not only abandoned its aim of establishing an Islamic state but also prompts its members to pursue careers in the social sciences, journalism and the civil services, while frequently collaborating with civil society organisations. This trend also can be witnessed in the functioning of political parties specially devoted to the Muslim question such as Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and the Welfare Party of India.

Political parties centred on Muslim identity, including Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, are evolving. Credit: AIMIM/Twitter

This discursive shift is slowly allowing Muslim groups to nurture solidarities with other marginalised groups facing similar threats and insecurities. The overwhelming Muslim support for Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad among Muslims in the past few years exemplifies this tendency. However, the alliance between Muslims and Hindu Dalits is still somewhat incoherent given the over-representation of elite ashraf castes in Muslim groups whose socio-economic interests do not match with Dalit-led associations.

All this makes it clear that Indian Muslims have entered a post-Islamist phase, marrying a constitutional phraseology of freedom, justice and equality with religious notions. Their renewed faith in this vernacularised secular politics is borne out of the frustrations with the dominant liberal brand of secularism, which either preferred a limited adoption of mostly majoritarian religious symbols or abhorred display of religion in public altogether.

At best, the liberal custodians of secularism overlooked socio-economic concerns of the Muslim community – especially of the low-caste and Dalit Muslims – rallying behind an empty discourse supporting secularism, without mass appeal. At worst, Muslims were castigated as a community with antediluvian beliefs. By exposing these fault-lines, though it is premature to say, the pro-democracy agitations led by Indian Muslims have provided a new life and meaning to not just secular democracy but even participatory democracy.

https://scroll.in/article/952470/how-muslims-are-creating-a-new-vocabulary-of-secularism-for-indian-democracy

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Cong Ups Ante On 4% Reservations For Muslims In Telangana

Feb 16, 2020

Hyderabad: Congress on Saturday sought to reassure the Muslim community that it will put up a strong fight in the Supreme Court to ensure that 4% reservations for Muslims in Telangana is continued.

Telangana Congress president N Uttam Kumar Reddy praised the role played by former minister Mohammed Ali Shabbir and the then chief minister YS Rajashekhara Reddy in giving 4% quota to backward groups among Muslims in 2004. tnn

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/cong-ups-ante-on4-muslim-quota/articleshowprint/74154385.cms

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Framers Of Constitution Rejected Notion Of Hindu India And Muslim India: Supreme Court Justice Chandrachud

Feb 15, 2020

Amid ongoing protests against CAA-NRC-NPR and accusations of high-handedness in some states, Supreme Court judge Justice DY Chandrachud on Saturday said "blanket labelling" of dissent as anti-national or anti-democratic strikes at the "heart" of the country's commitment to protect Constitutional values and promote deliberative democracy.

calling dissent a "safety valve" of democracy, Justice Chandrachud said the use of state machinery to curb dissent instils fear, which violates the rule of law.

"The blanket labelling of dissent as anti-national or anti-democratic strikes at the heart of our commitment to protect constitutional values and the promotion of deliberative democracy," he said as he delivered a lecture in Gujarat.

Protecting dissent is but a reminder that while a democratic elected government offers us a legitimate tool for development and social coordination, they can never claim a monopoly over the values and identities that define our plural society, Justice Chandrachud said.

He was speaking on the topic "The Hues That Make India: From Plurality to Pluralism," as part of the 15th Justice PD Desai Memorial Lecture organised.

"Employment of state machinery to curb dissent instils fear and creates a chilling atmosphere on free peace which violates the rule of law and distracts from the constitutional vision of pluralist society," he added.

His comments came amid ongoing protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR). Massive protests have emerged across the country with BJP-ruled states cracking down hard against the protesters. 

"The destruction of spaces for questioning and dissent destroys the basis of all growth--political, economic, cultural and social. In this sense, dissent is a safety valve of democracy," he said.

Justice Chandrachud also stated that silencing of dissent and the generation of fear in the minds of people go beyond the violation of personal liberties and a commitment to constitutional value.

Notably, Justice Chandrachud was part of a bench that had in January sought response of the Uttar Pradesh government on a plea seeking quashing of notices sent to alleged protesters by the district administration for recovering losses caused by damage to public properties during anti-CAA agitations in the state.

"The attack on dissent strikes at the heart of a dialogue-based democratic society and hence, a state is required to ensure that it deploys its machinery to protect the freedom of speech and expression within the bounds of law, and dismantle any attempt to instil fear or curb free speech," he opined.

Commitment to the protection of deliberative dialogue is an essential aspect of every democracy, particularly a successful one, Justice Chandrachud said.

He added, "A democracy welded to the ideal of reason and deliberation ensures that minority opinions are not strangulated and ensures that every outcome is not a result merely of numbers but of a shared consensus".

Justice Chandrachud said the "true test" of a democracy is its ability to ensure the creation and protection of spaces where every individual can voice their opinion without the fear of retribution.

"Inherent in the liberal promise of the Constitution is a commitment to a plurality of opinion. A legitimate government committed to deliberate dialogue does not seek to restrict political contestation but welcomes it," he further said.

Justice Chandrachud also underlined the importance of mutual respect and protection of space for divergent opinions.

"Taking democracy seriously requires us to respond respectfully to the intelligence of others and to participate vigorously, but as an equal in determining how we should live together," the supreme court judge said.

Democracy is judged not just by the institutions that formally exist but by the extent to which different voices from diverse sections of the people can actually be heard, respected and accounted for, he said.

According to Justice Chandrachud, the "great threat to pluralism" is the suppression of differences and silencing of popular and unpopular voices offering an alternative or opposing views.

The supreme court judge further said the country was conceptualised"as incorporating its vast diversity and not eliminating it".

"National unity denotes shared cultural values and a commitment to the fundamental ideal of Constitution in which all individuals are guaranteed not just fundamental rights but also the conditions for their free and safe exercise," he said.

He said the country'spluralism underlines a commitment to protect "the very idea of India as a refuge to people of various states, races, languages and beliefs".

"In providing spaces to a multitude of culture and free space to diversity and dissent, we reaffirm to our commitment to the idea that the making of our nation is a continuous process of deliberation and belongs to every individual," he said.

Justice Chandrachud also referred to a "positive obligation" for protecting a plural identity.

"The framers of the Constitution rejected the notion of a Hindu India and a Muslim India. They recognised only the Republic of India," he said.

Justice Chandrachud also said the framers put trust on the future generations to create a common bond of what it means to be an Indian, which "shunned homogeneity and celebrated diversity in what is meant to be an Indian".

He compared the "layered Indian identity" to Matryoshka dolls, and said this is what makes us Indian "and must be central to our understanding of pluralism and efforts to foster it.

"Homogeneity is not the defining feature of Indianness. Our differences are not our weakness. Our ability to transcend these difference in our recognition of our shared humanity is a source of our strength.

"India is a sub continent of diversity in itself. Pluralism has already achieved its greatest triumph -- the existence of India. The nation's continued survival shows us that our desire for a shared pursuit of happiness outweighs the difference in the colour of our skin, the languages we speak, or the name we give the almighty," he added.

https://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-framers-of-constitution-rejected-notion-of-hindu-india-and-muslim-india-justice-chandrachud-2813887

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TN Muslim organisations protest police lathicharge in Chennai

February 15, 2020

As part of the protest, shops owned by Muslims downed shutters, even as Muslims organisations, led by Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, planned to take out a procession to the Collectorate in Udhagamandalam in Nilgiris district, the police said.

As the procession reached the bus stand, police prevented them from proceeding further. Nearly 400 activists raised slogans and staged a protest condemning the police action on anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) protestors in Chennai on Friday.

A similar demonstration was held in Coonoor in the Nilgiris district where they announced to intensify the agitation, they said. Meanwhile, over 700 members, including women, belonging to various Muslim organisations squatted in the middle of the road near the Collectorate in Tirupur.

Led by Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamaath, the activists raised slogans against the police and demanded the state government to take action against the police officials involved in the lathicharge.

https://www.oneindia.com/india/tn-muslim-organisations-protest-police-lathicharge-in-chennai-3034111.html

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Constitution makers rejected ideas of Hindu India, Muslim India: Justice Chandrachud

February 15, 2020

The makers of Indian Constitution had rejected the ideas of Hindu India and Muslim India but wanted to build a Republic of India, said Supreme Court judge Justice DY Chandrachud on Saturday.

Justice Chandrachud said this while delivering a lecture in Gujarat. He was speaking on the topic 'The Hues That Make India: From Plurality to Pluralism', as part of the 15th Justice PD Desai Memorial Lecture organised in Ahemedabad.

"The framers of the Constitution rejected the notion of a Hindu India and a Muslim India. They recognised only the Republic of India," Justice Chandrachud said.

He said the Indian Constitution envisages pluralism and no individual or institution can claim a monopoly over the idea of India.

In his lecture, Justice Chandrachud also referred to a "positive obligation" for protecting a plural identity.

He said the framers of Indian Constitution put trust on the future generations to create a common bond of what it means to be an Indian, which "shunned homogeneity and celebrated diversity in what is meant to be an Indian".

He compared the "layered Indian identity" to Matryoshka dolls, and said this is what makes us Indian "and must be central to our understanding of pluralism and efforts to foster it.

"Homogeneity is not the defining feature of Indianness. Our differences are not our weakness. Our ability to transcend these differences in our recognition of our shared humanity is a source of our strength," Justice Chandrachud said.

"India is a sub-continent of diversity in itself. Pluralism has already achieved its greatest triumph - the existence of India. The nation's continued survival shows us that our desire for a shared pursuit of happiness outweighs the difference in the colour of our skin, the languages we speak, or the name we give the almighty," he added.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/constitution-makers-rejected-ideas-of-hindu-india-muslim-india-justice-chandrachud-1646812-2020-02-15

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Anti-CAA agitation: CPM once again extends a hand to the Muslim League

FEBRUARY 16, 2020 

Thiruvananthapuram: It looks like the CPM is determined to drive a wedge between the Congress and the

Muslim League on the issue of a joint struggle against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). After some

vacillation, the League had unequivocally stated it was not for a joint agitation with the CPM. The CPM is not

ready to leave it at that.

The party's State Committee, which had met during the last two days, has decided to exhort cadres to

constantly be in touch with “non-Left leaning” individuals who were part of the CPM's 'human chain' on

January 26 and make them participate in the various anti-CAA protests to be held across the State on March

23 to mark Bhagat Singh's martyrdom. “We want the March 23 protests to take forward the unity that we

could forge on January 26,” CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told reporters after the State

Committee meeting here on Sunday.

Non-'Left leaning' is euphemism for Muslim League. “Minorities had taken part in the human chain in a big

way,” said Kodiyeri, making his rst public appearance after a long absence for treatment. “Truth is, even

people from other non-Left parties had also participated,” he added.

Even top League leaders had admitted that some of its cadres may have participated in the CPM's 'human

chain' on January 26. However, the presence of League's Beypore Mandalam vice president K M Basheer, and

his subsequent unapologetic comments, had stung the League. Basheer was promptly suspended. Eventually,

the League concluded that it was politically unwise to take part in protests organised by the CPM.

But after the State Committee meeting, the CPM state secretary said the doors were still open. “Except for

the Jamaat-e-Islami and SDPI (Social Democratic Party of India), we would like all secular forces to take part

in the joint protests,” said Kodiyeri.

The CPM state secretary called for a “broad understanding” against communal forces. Chief Minister Pinarayi

Vijayan's similar pitch during the just concluded Assembly session was rejected by the Muslim League. Like

Pinarayi, Kodiyeri too blamed the Congress for being intransigent. “The Congress is not taking a helpful

stand. For them, anti-communism is more important than opposing the RSS. But we know there are secular

minded people within the UDF and our future course of action will be organised in such a way as to include

them also,” Kodiyeri said.

The CPM will also intensify its campaign agaisnt that it calls “Islamic extremism”. Kodiyeri said that like the

RSS, there were sections within Islam that were trying to create a communal divide. He specicaly named

Jamaat-e-Islami and SDPI for trying to inculcate hatred for Hindus. “Both are trying for communal

polarisation,” he said. “Jamaat-e-Islami is red by the thought of freeing India through Islam. SDPI is using

religion as a weapon for terrorism. If RSS incites people to chant 'Jai Shri Ram', Muslim fundamentalists ar

https://english.manoramaonline.com/news/kerala/2020/02/16/anti-caa-agitation-cpm-once-again-extends-a-hand-to-muslim-league.html

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Pakistan

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PTI govt all set to borrow Rs200b from Islamic banks

By Salman Siddiqui

February 16, 2020

KARACHI: For the second time, the government is all set to borrow Rs200 billion from Islamic banks to partially pay off dues owed to energy firms, but this time it has invited consortiums to submit the desired return in order to acquire the loan at the minimum possible price.

At least one Shariah-compliant consortium, led by Meezan Bank, submitted the bid (desired return) for lending the money by Friday (February 14), which was the last date for the submission of financing proposals, an industry official told The Express Tribune on Saturday.

“I guess a maximum of two consortiums may have submitted bids considering that around Rs500-600 billion worth of excess liquidity is lying at the Shariah-compliant banks and Islamic windows operated by conventional banks,” he said.

The bids are scheduled to be opened in the presence of the consortiums’ representatives on Monday, he said.

The government floated the first Pakistan Energy Sukuk worth Rs200 billion at a return of Kibor plus 0.8% for a period of 10 years in March 2019.

The government was expected to launch the second energy Sukuk on the same terms and conditions, meaning that banks were supposed to receive Kibor plus 0.8% without competitive bidding, which took place last time.

“However, the government scrapped the previous conditions for the second issue of Sukuk and invited fresh financial proposals,” the industry official said. “The Sukuk is expected to be launched by mid-March 2020.”

Power Holding Limited (PHL), a public-sector company wholly owned by the government of Pakistan, will issue the 100% government-guaranteed Sukuk.

This will be SLR (statutory liquidity requirement) eligible based on Ijarah (sale and lease back arrangement) with a subsequent listing on the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX), according to a PHL tender.

Funds are being raised “to fulfill financing requirements including but not limited to the settlement of part of prevailing circular debt related to the energy sector,” the tender read.

The circular debt has accumulated to Rs1.8 trillion compared to around Rs1.4 trillion at the beginning of 2019. It stood at Rs1.14 trillion sometime during the tenure of previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government, it was learnt.

The second Sukuk was scheduled to be launched in June 2019 but it was delayed after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) barred the government from issuing a fresh guarantee for the Sukuk as it had fully utilised the capacity agreed under the ongoing IMF loan programme of $6 billion.

Later, the government persuaded the lender to relax the condition for the sovereign guarantee for the second energy Sukuk.

The IMF asked the government this week to raise electricity tariff for the second time since June-July 2019 in a bid to get rid of the increasing circular debt in the energy sector.

The debt accumulates due to power leakages and theft and low recovery of bills including from multiple state-owned offices, schools, police stations, mosques and monuments.

The situation caused a reduction in the working capital of independent power producers, oil and gas marketing firms like Pakistan State Oil (PSO), Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL).

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2157664/2-govt-set-borrow-rs200b-islamic-banks/

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Agriculture needs govt’s special attention: Fakhar Imam

OUR STAFF REPORT

February 16, 2020

ISLAMABAD-Urging the need for special attention to agriculture, the convener of the parliamentary body on agriculture Syed Fakhar Imam said growth in the agricultural productivity has lost momentum, leaving Pakistan’s rural population to face continuing high levels of poverty, and food insecurity.

He said this in a meeting with the DG of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, Qu Dongyu.

The members of special committee of the National Assembly Special Committee on Agricultural Products were also present in the meeting.

The Convener of the Sub-Committee Fakhar Imam presented a holistic picture of Pakistan’s agro-economy and listed key constraints that hindered successful transformation of Pakistan’s agriculture sector. He outlined that Pakistan’s progress in agriculture sector was far below its true potential.

He stated that agriculture sector over the last three decades has been relegated to secondary priorities in the policy making circles and urged the need for special attention to agriculture.

Highlighting the rationale for the formation of a Special Committee on Agricultural Products, he added that reversing Pakistan’s agricultural stagnation warranted building political momentum, ownership and close scrutiny of agriculture policies.

He underlined the need for strategic investments in agricultural science, technology, research, infrastructure and high value agriculture production.

Qu Dongyu remarked that Pakistan- a country with enormous agricultural potential constrained by significant challenges-was a key priority in FAO’s long international partnerships and called for further deepening the mutual cooperation to tackle food insecurity, malnutrition and rural poverty.

It is pertinent to mention that it was the first international visit of Qu Dongyu after assuming office of the Director General of FAO in June, 2019.

Chairman Parliamentary Committee on CPEC, Sher Ali Arbab who attended the call on as special invitee outlined that FAO’s technical support to Parliament was indispensable to evidence based policy formulation and oversight.

He added that further strengthening strategic partnership with FAO was vital to move Pakistan away from subsistence farming to high yielding modern agriculture.

FAO country representative for Pakistan Mina Dawlatchahi called for wider engagement with Pakistan on gender inclusive agricultural development.

https://nation.com.pk/16-Feb-2020/agriculture-needs-govt-s-special-attention-fakhar-imam

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Pakistan, Turkey pondering over joint projects for promotion of Islamic heritage: Firdous

FEBRUARY 16, 2020

Special Assistant on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan on Saturday said that Pakistan and Turkey have been pondering over several joint projects for the promotion and preservation of Islamic architecture and heritage. In a series of tweets, she said exhibitions and workshops would be conducted to promote cultural heritage and calligraphy. The special assistant termed the MoUs between the state media of Pakistan and Turkey as a welcome and positive step. She said these MoUs would enable both the countries to screen each other’ s dramas and promote the cause of Muslim Ummah. Awan said both the countries have also agreed to enhance cooperation in the field of cinema which will help us revive and promote our industry.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/558682/pakistan-turkey-pondering-over-joint-projects-for-promotion-of-islamic-heritage-firdous/

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UN chief arrives in Islamabad on 4-day official visit

February 16, 2020

Upon his arrival at Nur Khan Airbase — his first official visit to Pakistan as UN chief — Guterres was received by Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Munir Akram as well as senior officials of the Foreign Office and United Nations in Pakistan.

Ahead of his arrival, Guterres said he would express gratitude for those serving as peacekeepers.

Taking to Twitter, he said: "Pakistan is one of the most consistent and reliable contributors to UN peacekeeping efforts around the world.

"I am travelling to Pakistan, where I plan to express my gratitude to the people #ServingForPeace."

During his visit, the UN chief will speak at the international conference '40 Years of Hosting Afghan Refugees in Pakistan'.

The two-day conference in Islamabad, starting on February 17, will be a recognition of Pakistan’s "tremendous generosity" in hosting millions of refugees from Afghanistan over four decades, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said during a regular noon briefing at the UN Headquarters in New York on Friday.

The conference, which is being organised by the Government of Pakistan and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Imran Khan. Various senior US officials will also attend the conference.

During his visit, Guterres is expected to meet with Prime Minister Imran and other high-level government officials, his spokesman said.

Dujarric said the UN chief will also meet Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and speak at an event on sustainable development and climate change. The UN Secretary General will meet President Arif Alvi on Monday.

On Tuesday, he will visit Lahore where he will meet students and attend an event on Pakistan’s polio vaccination campaign. He will also travel to Kartarpur to visit the Sikh holy site of Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib.

Responding to a question, the spokesman said the UN chief will not be visiting the disputed Kashmir region during this trip.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1534822/un-chief-arrives-in-islamabad-on-4-day-official-visit

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Princess Beatrice of York, former EU leaders visiting Pakistan for ski trip

16-02-2020

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday met with Princess Beatrice of York, a member of the British royal family, and other prominent European leaders, including the former prime minister of Spain Jose Maria Aznar and former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi.

The group is visiting Pakistan for a ski trip, according to a post on the premier’s Instagram account.

Ali Jehangir Siddiqui who is Pakistan’s ambassador-at-large for investment in an honorary capacity was also present on the occasion.

They group was welcomed to the country by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Sayed Zulfi Bukhari.

Princess Beatrice is the daughter of Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.

Her visit to Pakistan comes four months after Britain’s Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, visited the country for a five-day tour. It was the first royal visit from Britain to Pakistan in 13 years after a visit by Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and his wife Camilla Parker, the Duchess of Cornwall, in 2006.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/02/16/princess-beatrice-of-york-former-eu-leaders-visiting-pakistan-for-ski-trip/

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CPNE president condoles Naeemul Haque’s demise

16-02-2020

Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) President Arif Nizami has expressed his grief over the demise of PM’s Special Assistant on Political Affairs and close friend, Naeemul Haque, who passed away in Karachi at the age of 70 after fighting a two-year-long battle with blood cancer.

Condoling the death of the founding member of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Nizami said that Haque was a great friend and would be greatly missed.

“Very sad to hear about the passing away of Naeemul Haque. May his soul rest in peace. My profound condolences to the bereaved family and the PTI,” he said in a statement.

The CPNE president said that Naeemul Haque had played a pivotal role in strengthening the PTI and promoting a positive change in Pakistan as part of the party’s ideology.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/02/15/cpne-president-condoles-naeemul-haques-demise/

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Mideast

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Jews should demand compensation for centuries of abuse under Islam

Ezequiel Doiny

16/02/20

The Jizya was a discriminatory tax imposed only on non-muslims until the late 1800s. Non-muslims had to either convert to Islam or abandon their lands to avoid it. If they did not pay they were imprisoned, tortured and slaved.

Muslim rulers instituted the jizya to reduce the number of Jews living in the Holy Land, in what was then called Palestine (the Roman term for the area, with no connection to the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians today) before the British Mandate was instituted in 1922.

until the late 1800s entire ancient Jewish communities had to flee Palestine to escape the brutality of Muslim authorities.

As Egyptian historian Bat Ye’or writes in her book, The Dhimmi: “The Jizya was paid in a humiliating public ceremony in which the non-Muslim while paying was struck in the head. If these taxes were not paid women and children were reduced to slavery, men were imprisoned and tortured until a ransom was paid for them."  

"The Jewish communities in many cities under Muslim Rule were ruined by such demands.  This custom of legalized financial abuses and extortion shattered the indigenous pre-Arab populations almost totally eliminating what remained of its peasantry…  

"In 1849 the Jews of Tiberias envisaged exile because of the brutality, exactions, and injustice of the Muslim authorities.  In addition to ordinary taxes, an Arab Sheik that ruled Hevron demanded that Jews pay an extra five thousand piastres annually for the protections of their lives and property. The Sheik threatened to attack and expel them from Hevron if it was not paid.” 

It is the Jews who lived under Muslim rule who were the true victims of colonialism… "By the time the Arab conquerors had swept over the Middle East and North Africa, the Jews had been living in the region for 1,000 years…

Lyn Julius commented about the incontrovertible findings in George Bensoussan’ book Juifs en pays arabes: le grand deracinement 1850 – 1975:  

 “…Bensoussan, threatens to stand the notion of ”Jewish colonialism” on its head: it is the Jews who lived under Muslim rule who were the true victims of colonialism…

By the time the Arab conquerors had swept over the Middle East and North Africa, the Jews had been living in the region for 1,000 years…

"Under Islam, according to the eighth-century Pact of Omar, indigenous Jews and Christians were permitted to practise as long as they acquiesced to the dhimmi condition of inferiority and institutionalised humiliation…  

“… Bensoussan observes that the Islamic order was built on a ”colonial” notion – submission. The Muslim submits to Allah, the Muslim woman submits to her husband, the non-Muslim dhimmi submits to the Muslim. At the very bottom of the pile is the slave…

"He produces incontrovertible evidence that, 100 years before Israel was established, most Jews in Arab and Muslim lands lived in misery and fear….

"Jews were regularly mobbed, robbed, their possessions looted, beaten up on the slightest pretext, or false charge brought by a jealous neighbour. Jews were feminised in the Muslim imagination – cowardly, submissive, unable to stand up for themselves. 

“…Bensoussan”s great achievement is not just to blow out of the water the myth of Arab-Jewish coexistence predating the creation of Israel, but unfashionably to place the colonial boot on the Arab foot…

 "A sovereign Jewish state in the land of Israel begins to look like the liberation of a colonized, indigenous people from 14 centuries of subjugation…”  

Simon Sebag Montefiore describes, in his book Jerusalem, the Arab Conquest of the Eastern Roman Empire (Chapter 16, page 166) that Arabs built the Al Aqsa Mosque in Temple Mount to make Muslims the legitimate heirs of Jewish sanctity: “In 518, aged thirty-five, Justinian found himself the real ruler of the Eastern empire when his uncle Justin was raised to the throne…" 

"Justinian demoted Judaism from a permited religion and banned Passover if it fell before Easter, converted synagogues into churches, forcibly baptized Jews, and commandeered Jewish History: in 537, when Justinian dedicated his breathtaking Church of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom” in Constantinople, he is said to have reflected 'Solomon, I have surpassed thee.'  

"Then he turned to Jerusalem to trump Solomon’s Temple. In 543 Justinian and Theodora started to build a basilica, the Nea Church of St.Mary Mother of God, almost 400 feet long and 187 feet high, with walls 16 feet thick, facing away from the Temple Mount and designed to overpower Solomon’s site… 

"The Holy City was ruled by the rituals of Orthodox Christianity… The city was set up to host thousands of pilgrims: the grandees stayed with the patriarch; the poor pilgrims in the dormitories of Justinian’s hospices which had beds for 3,000; and ascetics in caves, often old Jewish tombs, in the surrounding hills…

"…Heraclitus seized power (of the Bizantine Empire) in 610…Constantinople was besieged by the Persians ( then Zoroastrians)…(Heraclitus) outmanoeuvred the Persian forces …then defeated their main army… 

 "… In 632 Muhammad, aged about sixty-two, died (in Saudi Arabia) and was succeeded by his father in law, Abu Bakr… 

 "Abu Bakr managed to pacify Arabia. Then he turned to the Bizantine and Persian empires, which Muslims regarded as evanescent, sinful and corrupt. The Commander dispatched contingent of warriors on camels to raid Iraq and Palestine…in Mecca, Abu Bakr died and was succeeded by Omar…

" …Heraclitus dispatched an army to stop the Arabs…After months of skirmishing, the Arabs finally lured the Byzantines to battle amidst the impenetrable gorges of the Yarmuk river between today’s Jordan, Syria and Israeli Golan…and on August 636… 

"Khalid cut of their retreat and by the end of the battle, the Christians were so exhausted that the Arabs found them lying down in their cloaks, ripe for the slaughter. Even the emperor’s brother was killed and Heraclitus himself never recovered from this defeat, one of the decisive battles in history, that lost Syria and Palestine.  Byzantine rule, weakened by the Persian war, seems to have collapsed like a house of cards… 

"The Arabs converged on the city which they called Ilya (Aelia Capitolina, the Roman name (for Jerusalem))… Omar offered Jerusalem a Covenant – dhimma- of Surrender that promised religious tolerance to the Christians in return for payment of jizya tax of submission. Once this was agreed, Omar set out for Jerusalem…

"Omar knew that Muhammad had revered David and Solomon. 'Take me to the sanctuary of David,' he ordered Sophronius (Jerusalem’s Christian Patriarch). He and his warriors entered Temple Mount, probably through the Prophet’s Gate in the south, and found it contaminated by 'a dungheap which the Christians had put there to offend the Jews.

"Omar asked to be shown the Holy of Holies. A Jewish convert, Kaab al Ahbar, known as the Rabbi, replied that if the Commander preserved 'the wall'(perhaps referring to the last Herodian remains, including the Western Wall), 'I will reveal to him where are the ruins of the Temple.'

"Kaab showed Omar the foundation stone of the Temple, the rock which the Arabs called the Sakhra.Aided by his troops, Omar began to clear the debris to create somewhere to pray. 

"Kaab sugested he place this north of the foundation stone 'so you will face make two qiblas, that of Moses and that of Muhammad.' 

“'You still lean towards the Jews,' Omar supposedly told Kaab, placing his first prayer house south of the rock, roughly where the al-Aqsa Mosque stands today, so that it clearly faced Mecca.

"Omar had followed Muhammad’s wish to reach past Christianity to restore and co-opt this place of ancient holiness, to make Muslims the legitimate heirs of Jewish sanctity and outflank the Christians.” (Simon Sebag Montefiore “Jerusalem” page 166-184)  

The roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict are theological, Muslims claim they have a stronger claim to Jewish Holy Sites than the Jews and use this as a justification to build their mosques there. 

On March 25, 2019 Arutz 7 reported "Iran Broadcasting Authority (IRIB) head Abdolali Ali-Asgari, talking about superiority and great nations, said that while in ancient times G-d had given the Jewish People superiority, the Iranian people - the countrymen of the Prophet Muhammad's companion Salman the Persian - were chosen to "shoulder the heavy burden of truth and progress in the world" after the Jews "pursued worldly ornaments and behaved unjustly." 

Ishrat Hussain Muhammad wrote in Quora “… Moses & Prophet Abraham PBUH were Muslims...The Islamic belief is that all the prophets including the last prophet Mohammad PBUH were following the will of the God and all prophets were teaching same thing and from same God, therefore Islam considers all prophets to be Muslims…” According to Islam Jewish Prophets like Abraham, Moses and David were actually Muslim and Jewish Holy Sites are actually Islamic Holy Sites.  

According to Islamic replacement theology Islam replaced Judaism and Muslims replaced the Jews as the inheritors of Jewish Holy sites. Based on this view, Muslims justify Islamic colonialism, the occupation of Jewish Holy Sites and deny the connection of modern Jews to Jewish Holy Sites and to the land of Israel. 

Israel allows Muslims to pray in Al Aqsa but Jews were not allowed to pray in Hevron's Cave of the Patriarchs (Judaism's second holiest site)or in Jerusalem's Western Wall during the Jordanian Occupation (1948-1967).  

Today Jews are not allowed to pray in any Jewish holy sites under Islamic rule and are humiliated if they try. 

On August 5, 2019 Tzvi Joffre wrote: "The site where Aaron, Moses' brother, is said to be buried near Petra was closed by Jordan's Ministry of Awqaf Islamic Affairs and Antiquities on Thursday after Israeli tourists were filmed performing 'Jewish rituals' at the site on the anniversary of Aaron's death.    

Tour guide Roni Ayalon told Ynet that the group was subjected to humiliating treatment by Jordanian authorities. 

"They took off the women's head scarves. All the boys' yarmulkes were taken off. They took off everyone's shirts to see if they had tzitzit (religious fringes) under their clothes and took [the tzitzit] off them.

"If there was this kind of humiliation of an Arab on our side who wanted to enter Jerusalem and they would dare to tell him to take off his shirt or confiscate his Koran, there would be a world war....But they can do whatever they want to us." 

According to Ayalon, the group was forbidden from praying while traveling in Jordan, even in their hotel room. Walla News reported that Jordanian police arrived at the hotel near Petra and searched the Israelis' rooms to confiscate religious items.

The Awqaf ministry strongly condemned the entry of the tourists and said an investigation will be opened to find out who was responsible for allowing them into the site, the official Jordan News Agency reported. 

Former Jordanian tourism minister Maha al-Khatib said, "There is a Zionist scheme to claim ownership of any part of our Arab homeland, especially in archaeological sites." 

On July 26, 2019 Elder of Zion reported "Palestine Today has an article about Joseph's Tomb in Schechem (Nablus) and how the semi-regular Jewish pilgrims that visit the site have "turned it into a place that spreads death and blackness to the villagers" who live nearby. 

The article goes through a history of the site, saying that Palestinians are divided between believing that it is the tomb of the Biblical Joseph or of an Arab named Yusuf Dweikat. 

It quotes a  researcher of archeology from An-Najah National University named Louai Abu al-Saud.  Al Saud. Abu Al-Saud did not deny or confirm that the 'Prophet Joseph' is buried in this grave, but he said that in case that is proven - from an archeological point of view - that this grave is the grave of Joseph, 'then we Palestinians, as Arabs and Muslims, are worthier of ownership of it than the Jews.' 

Palestinianism is now a replacement theology for Judaism.  But Jews face Temple Mount when they pray, Arabs face Mecca even when in or around Temple Mount. Despite being the holiest site of Judaism, Jews are not allowed to pray on the Temple Mount. 

On February 27, 2019 Elder of Zion reported "Arab and Muslim media, especially Palestinian Arab media, routinely deny that there were ever any Jewish Temples on the Temple Mount."

Howver, this academic paper by  Milka Levy-Rubin about why the Dome of the Rock was built to begin with gives copious amounts of proof that show that the Muslims who built the Dome chose the site precisely because of its association with the two Temples.  

The main point of the paper, published by the Bulletin of SOAS at the University of London in 2017, is that the Dome of the Rock was meant to be a rebuilding of the Temple of Solomon which would fulfill the need by Muslims to have their own significant holy  place in their conquered lands that could compete with the Hagia Sophia church in Constantinople which claimed to have surpassed the beauty of Solomon’s temple. 

The image linked below  from the Ottoman Imperial Archives says that the Al Aqsa Mosque was built on the site of Solomon’s Temple.

Since the creation of the State of Israel Jews can defend themselves against Islamic persecution. Other minorities like the decimated Yazidi continue to be vulnerable to persecution by Islamic forces today because they don't have their own State to protect them. 

For centuries Jews endured humiliation and abuse under Islamic rule, for centuries Jews were denied the freedom to pray in most of Judaism's holiest Sites converted into mosques, for centuries Jews were subject to institutionalized financial abuse in the name of Jizya, it is time to demand compensation.The Jizya was a discriminatory tax imposed only on non-muslims until the late 1800s. Non-muslims had to either convert to Islam or abandon their lands to avoid it. If they did not pay they were imprisoned, tortured and slaved.

Muslim rulers instituted the jizya to reduce the number of Jews living in the Holy Land, in what was then called Palestine (the Roman term for the area, with no connection to the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians today) before the British Mandate was instituted in 1922.

Until the late 1800s entire ancient Jewish communities had to flee Palestine to escape the brutality of Muslim authorities.

As Egyptian historian Bat Ye’or writes in her book, The Dhimmi: “The Jizya was paid in a humiliating public ceremony in which the non-Muslim while paying was struck in the head. If these taxes were not paid women and children were reduced to slavery, men were imprisoned and tortured until a ransom was paid for them."  

"The Jewish communities in many cities under Muslim Rule were ruined by such demands.  This custom of legalized financial abuses and extortion shattered the indigenous pre-Arab populations almost totally eliminating what remained of its peasantry…  

"In 1849 the Jews of Tiberias envisaged exile because of the brutality, exactions, and injustice of the Muslim authorities.  In addition to ordinary taxes, an Arab Sheik that ruled Hevron demanded that Jews pay an extra five thousand piastres annually for the protections of their lives and property. The Sheik threatened to attack and expel them from Hevron if it was not paid.” 

it is the Jews who lived under Muslim rule who were the true victims of colonialism… "By the time the Arab conquerors had swept over the Middle East and North Africa, the Jews had been living in the region for 1,000 years…

Lyn Julius commented about the incontrovertible findings in George Bensoussan’ book Juifs en pays arabes: le grand deracinement 1850 – 1975:  

 “…Bensoussan, threatens to stand the notion of ”Jewish colonialism” on its head: it is the Jews who lived under Muslim rule who were the true victims of colonialism…

"By the time the Arab conquerors had swept over the Middle East and North Africa, the Jews had been living in the region for 1,000 years…

"Under Islam, according to the eighth-century Pact of Omar, indigenous Jews and Christians were permitted to practise as long as they acquiesced to the dhimmi condition of inferiority and institutionalised humiliation…  

“… Bensoussan observes that the Islamic order was built on a ”colonial” notion – submission. The Muslim submits to Allah, the Muslim woman submits to her husband, the non-Muslim dhimmi submits to the Muslim. At the very bottom of the pile is the slave…

"He produces incontrovertible evidence that, 100 years before Israel was established, most Jews in Arab and Muslim lands lived in misery and fear….

"Jews were regularly mobbed, robbed, their possessions looted, beaten up on the slightest pretext, or false charge brought by a jealous neighbour. Jews were feminised in the Muslim imagination – cowardly, submissive, unable to stand up for themselves. 

“…Bensoussan”s great achievement is not just to blow out of the water the myth of Arab-Jewish coexistence predating the creation of Israel, but unfashionably to place the colonial boot on the Arab foot…

 "A sovereign Jewish state in the land of Israel begins to look like the liberation of a colonized, indigenous people from 14 centuries of subjugation…”  

Simon Sebag Montefiore describes, in his book Jerusalem, the Arab Conquest of the Eastern Roman Empire (Chapter 16, page 166) that Arabs built the Al Aqsa Mosque in Temple Mount to make Muslims the legitimate heirs of Jewish sanctity: “In 518, aged thirty-five, Justinian found himself the real ruler of the Eastern empire when his uncle Justin was raised to the throne…" 

"Justinian demoted Judaism from a permited religion and banned Passover if it fell before Easter, converted synagogues into churches, forcibly baptized Jews, and commandeered Jewish History: in 537, when Justinian dedicated his breathtaking Church of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom” in Constantinople, he is said to have reflected 'Solomon, I have surpassed thee.'  

"Then he turned to Jerusalem to trump Solomon’s Temple. In 543 Justinian and Theodora started to build a basilica, the Nea Church of St.Mary Mother of God, almost 400 feet long and 187 feet high, with walls 16 feet thick, facing away from the Temple Mount and designed to overpower Solomon’s site… 

"The Holy City was ruled by the rituals of Orthodox Christianity… The city was set up to host thousands of pilgrims: the grandees stayed with the patriarch; the poor pilgrims in the dormitories of Justinian’s hospices which had beds for 3,000; and ascetics in caves, often old Jewish tombs, in the surrounding hills…

"…Heraclitus seized power (of the Bizantine Empire) in 610…Constantinople was besieged by the Persians ( then Zoroastrians)…(Heraclitus) outmanoeuvred the Persian forces …then defeated their main army… 

 "… In 632 Muhammad, aged about sixty-two, died (in Saudi Arabia) and was succeeded by his father in law, Abu Bakr… 

 "Abu Bakr managed to pacify Arabia. Then he turned to the Bizantine and Persian empires, which Muslims regarded as evanescent, sinful and corrupt. The Commander dispatched contingent of warriors on camels to raid Iraq and Palestine…in Mecca, Abu Bakr died and was succeeded by Omar…

" …Heraclitus dispatched an army to stop the Arabs…After months of skirmishing, the Arabs finally lured the Byzantines to battle amidst the impenetrable gorges of the Yarmuk river between today’s Jordan, Syria and Israeli Golan…and on August 636… 

"Khalid cut of their retreat and by the end of the battle, the Christians were so exhausted that the Arabs found them lying down in their cloaks, ripe for the slaughter. Even the emperor’s brother was killed and Heraclitus himself never recovered from this defeat, one of the decisive battles in history, that lost Syria and Palestine.  Byzantine rule, weakened by the Persian war, seems to have collapsed like a house of cards… 

"The Arabs converged on the city which they called Ilya (Aelia Capitolina, the Roman name (for Jerusalem))… Omar offered Jerusalem a Covenant – dhimma- of Surrender that promised religious tolerance to the Christians in return for payment of jizya tax of submission. Once this was agreed, Omar set out for Jerusalem…

"Omar knew that Muhammad had revered David and Solomon. 'Take me to the sanctuary of David,' he ordered Sophronius (Jerusalem’s Christian Patriarch). He and his warriors entered Temple Mount, probably through the Prophet’s Gate in the south, and found it contaminated by 'a dungheap which the Christians had put there to offend the Jews.

"Omar asked to be shown the Holy of Holies. A Jewish convert, Kaab al Ahbar, known as the Rabbi, replied that if the Commander preserved 'the wall'(perhaps referring to the last Herodian remains, including the Western Wall), 'I will reveal to him where are the ruins of the Temple.'

"Kaab showed Omar the foundation stone of the Temple, the rock which the Arabs called the Sakhra.Aided by his troops, Omar began to clear the debris to create somewhere to pray. 

"Kaab sugested he place this north of the foundation stone 'so you will face make two qiblas, that of Moses and that of Muhammad.' 

“'You still lean towards the Jews,' Omar supposedly told Kaab, placing his first prayer house south of the rock, roughly where the al-Aqsa Mosque stands today, so that it clearly faced Mecca.

"Omar had followed Muhammad’s wish to reach past Christianity to restore and co-opt this place of ancient holiness, to make Muslims the legitimate heirs of Jewish sanctity and outflank the Christians.” (Simon Sebag Montefiore “Jerusalem” page 166-184)  

The roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict are theological, Muslims claim they have a stronger claim to Jewish Holy Sites than the Jews and use this as a justification to build their mosques there. 

On March 25, 2019 Arutz 7 reported "Iran Broadcasting Authority (IRIB) head Abdolali Ali-Asgari, talking about superiority and great nations, said that while in ancient times G-d had given the Jewish People superiority, the Iranian people - the countrymen of the Prophet Muhammad's companion Salman the Persian - were chosen to "shoulder the heavy burden of truth and progress in the world" after the Jews "pursued worldly ornaments and behaved unjustly." 

Ishrat Hussain Muhammad wrote in Quora “… Moses & Prophet Abraham PBUH were Muslims...The Islamic belief is that all the prophets including the last prophet Mohammad PBUH were following the will of the God and all prophets were teaching same thing and from same God, therefore Islam considers all prophets to be Muslims…” According to Islam Jewish Prophets like Abraham, Moses and David were actually Muslim and Jewish Holy Sites are actually Islamic Holy Sites.  

According to Islamic replacement theology Islam replaced Judaism and Muslims replaced the Jews as the inheritors of Jewish Holy sites. Based on this view, Muslims justify Islamic colonialism, the occupation of Jewish Holy Sites and deny the connection of modern Jews to Jewish Holy Sites and to the land of Israel. 

Israel allows Muslims to pray in Al Aqsa but Jews were not allowed to pray in Hevron's Cave of the Patriarchs (Judaism's second holiest site)or in Jerusalem's Western Wall during the Jordanian Occupation (1948-1967).  

Today Jews are not allowed to pray in any Jewish holy sites under Islamic rule and are humiliated if they try. 

On August 5, 2019 Tzvi Joffre wrote: "The site where Aaron, Moses' brother, is said to be buried near Petra was closed by Jordan's Ministry of Awqaf Islamic Affairs and Antiquities on Thursday after Israeli tourists were filmed performing 'Jewish rituals' at the site on the anniversary of Aaron's death.    

our guide Roni Ayalon told Ynet that the group was subjected to humiliating treatment by Jordanian authorities. 

"They took off the women's head scarves. All the boys' yarmulkes were taken off. They took off everyone's shirts to see if they had tzitzit (religious fringes) under their clothes and took [the tzitzit] off them.

"If there was this kind of humiliation of an Arab on our side who wanted to enter Jerusalem and they would dare to tell him to take off his shirt or confiscate his Koran, there would be a world war....But they can do whatever they want to us." 

According to Ayalon, the group was forbidden from praying while traveling in Jordan, even in their hotel room. Walla News reported that Jordanian police arrived at the hotel near Petra and searched the Israelis' rooms to confiscate religious items.

The Awqaf ministry strongly condemned the entry of the tourists and said an investigation will be opened to find out who was responsible for allowing them into the site, the official Jordan News Agency reported. 

Former Jordanian tourism minister Maha al-Khatib said, "There is a Zionist scheme to claim ownership of any part of our Arab homeland, especially in archaeological sites." 

On July 26, 2019 Elder of Zion reported "Palestine Today has an article about Joseph's Tomb in Schechem (Nablus) and how the semi-regular Jewish pilgrims that visit the site have "turned it into a place that spreads death and blackness to the villagers" who live nearby. 

The article goes through a history of the site, saying that Palestinians are divided between believing that it is the tomb of the Biblical Joseph or of an Arab named Yusuf Dweikat. 

It quotes a  researcher of archeology from An-Najah National University named Louai Abu al-Saud.  Al Saud. Abu Al-Saud did not deny or confirm that the 'Prophet Joseph' is buried in this grave, but he said that in case that is proven - from an archeological point of view - that this grave is the grave of Joseph, 'then we Palestinians, as Arabs and Muslims, are worthier of ownership of it than the Jews.' 

Palestinianism is now a replacement theology for Judaism.  But Jews face Temple Mount when they pray, Arabs face Mecca even when in or around Temple Mount. Despite being the holiest site of Judaism, Jews are not allowed to pray on the Temple Mount. 

On February 27, 2019 Elder of Zion reported "Arab and Muslim media, especially Palestinian Arab media, routinely deny that there were ever any Jewish Temples on the Temple Mount."

Howver, this academic paper by  Milka Levy-Rubin about why the Dome of the Rock was built to begin with gives copious amounts of proof that show that the Muslims who built the Dome chose the site precisely because of its association with the two Temples.  

The main point of the paper, published by the Bulletin of SOAS at the University of London in 2017, is that the Dome of the Rock was meant to be a rebuilding of the Temple of Solomon which would fulfill the need by Muslims to have their own significant holy  place in their conquered lands that could compete with the Hagia Sophia church in Constantinople which claimed to have surpassed the beauty of Solomon’s temple. 

The image linked below  from the Ottoman Imperial Archives says that the Al Aqsa Mosque was built on the site of Solomon’s Temple.

Since the creation of the State of Israel Jews can defend themselves against Islamic persecution. Other minorities like the decimated Yazidi continue to be vulnerable to persecution by Islamic forces today because they don't have their own State to protect them. 

For centuries Jews endured humiliation and abuse under Islamic rule, for centuries Jews were denied the freedom to pray in most of Judaism's holiest Sites converted into mosques, for centuries Jews were subject to institutionalized financial abuse in the name of Jizya, it is time to demand compensation.

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/25200

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Leader of the Islamic Revolution: Need to Promote Islamic Lifestyle

February 15, 2020

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei called on Iranian eulogists to redirect people’s lifestyle toward Islamic ways by promoting the lifestyle of eminent Muslim personalities. 

Speaking to a group of eulogists on Saturday, the Leader stressed that the main responsibility of those who narrate events related to Islamic figures is to disseminate religious teachings among the people, especially the youth. 

"The only way to return the public lifestyle to its correct and Islamic path against the enemies' cultural invasion is by fostering such a culture, and eulogists are very influential in helping accomplish such an important task," he said, leader.ir reported. 

Ayatollah Khamenei noted that national solidarity, helpfulness and a heroic spirit of resistance and awareness is among the primary features of an Islamic lifestyle. 

“Not fearing the enemies and relying on God ares also another precious religious teaching that should be incorporated in Iranian people's lives,” he added. 

It is also important, according to the Leader, to ensure the youth's strong mental and spiritual power, as it is among the tools of soft war and is a major need for the country today when western media try to convince Iranian people to surrender to the United States. 

"The Iranian nation's endurance against the pressure of America that has amazed the world is thanks to these [Islamic] teachings," he said. 

https://financialtribune.com/articles/national/102168/need-to-promote-islamic-lifestyle

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Islamic Revolution paved way for women to be active: Pres. Rouhani

15 February 2020

Speaking on Saturday at the session of Supreme Council of Cyberspace, President Hassan Rouhani congratulated the birthday anniversary of the Hazrat Fatemeh (PBUH) and Woman’s Day and said, “with the victory of the Islamic Revolution, the way for women to be active in different political, cultural and social stages was paved and women today have an active and effective presence in different fields.”

“Before the victory of the Islamic Revolution, because of the atmosphere of that time, women did not appear in the society and were mostly sitting at home, and some families even were cautious about women’s presence and activities in scientific and research fields,” his office's website quoted him as saying.

“Thanks to the Islamic Revolution, women today have an active presence in the society and their presence is completely obvious in NGOs and among university faculty members, researchers and artists,” Rouhani emphasized.

https://en.mehrnews.com/news/155663/Islamic-Revolution-paved-way-for-women-to-be-active-Pres-Rouhani

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Where is the place of Islamic Revolution in world calculations?

By: Mohammad Ghaderi

15 February 2020

The Islamic Revolution and the subsequent establishment of the Islamic Republic led to major changes in regional and international developments.

The 1979 Revolution was like a sapling that has become a strong tree over the past 40 years and is still growing.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has confronted and challenged the US and the Zionist regime’s imperialist policies in the region and the larger world. And Iran's strategic influence in the region has become the greatest concern of the US and Tel Aviv.

This strategic influence derives from the very nature of the Islamic Revolution that attracts the liberal and oppressed nations of the world. It is a popular revolution that originated from pure human nature, which does not accept oppression, aggression and violence.

One of the most important effects of the Islamic Revolution was to disrupt the balance of power between the East and the West. We have seen the collapse of the Eastern bloc led by the Soviet Union, as predicted by Imam Khomeini. Now, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei has promised the decline of American domination.

Despite all US military, political, economic investments and soft war in the region, President Donald Trump has admitted that Americans have failed and were not able to carry out their plans. It was the Islamic Revolution that, with strong logic and modern interpretation, presented a new discourse, according to the needs of Islamic communities and the Arab environment.

Before the Islamic Revolution, the issue of Palestine was being forgotten, but the Islamic Revolution changed that mindset and the issue was revived. The hasty plan of the Deal of the Century aimed at wiping out Palestine has been proposed because of the widespread Palestinian resistance.

Of course, the Zionist regime and the West tried to tarnish the image of Islam with the terrorist acts of ISIL, al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra Front, but the culture and discourse of the Islamic Revolution still persist and fascinate most oppressed nations.

Today, the Western media outlets have launched a warfare campaign against the Islamic Revolution and pure Islamic ideology, but as the logic of the Islamic Revolution is intrinsic and rational, it is developing day by day. The logic, along with Iran’s defensive and security deterrence, has become a nightmare for the world’s criminals.

https://en.mehrnews.com/news/155654/Where-is-the-place-of-Islamic-Revolution-in-world-calculations

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41st anniversary of victory of Islamic Revolution held on Ivory Coast

Feb 15, 2020

The 41st anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution was attended by Minister of Sports, Claude Dunhooh, as government representative, Deputy Foreign Minister, Ambassadors and Diplomats, National and Senate Representatives, Shia and Sunni religious personalities, NGOs, Lebanese populations, scholars and imams, reporters and Iranian expatriates in the Ivory Coast capital.

Iranian Ambassador to Abidjan Kourosh Majidi commemorated the 41st anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution and referred to the approach of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the fight against terrorism and the effective role of General Soleimani in the fight against terrorism, Takfiri and terrorist groups in the region.

He further emphasized the principles of the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, rejecting world domination and combating global arrogance, while condemning the destructive and disruptive actions of the US government against the international peace and security and unilaterally withdrawing from the JCPOA and unveiling the Zionist plan of the Deal of the century and said that the policies of the Trump administration in the Middle East will be doomed to failure.

https://en.irna.ir/news/83675565/41st-anniversary-of-victory-of-Islamic-Revolution-held-on-Ivory

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Air strikes on Yemen kill 31 civilians after Saudi jet crash

PFebruary 16, 2020

The Tornado aircraft came down on Friday in northern Al-Jawf province during an operation to support government forces, a rare shooting down that prompted operations in the area by a Saudi-led military coalition fighting the rebels.

The deadly violence follows an upsurge in fighting in northern Yemen between the warring parties that threatens to worsen the war-battered country's humanitarian crisis.

"Preliminary field reports indicate that on 15 February as many as 31 civilians were killed and 12 others injured in strikes that hit Al-Hayjah area [...] in Al-Jawf governorate," the office of the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen said in a statement.

"Under international humanitarian law, parties which resort to force are obligated to protect civilians," she said.

"Five years into this conflict and belligerents are still failing to uphold this responsibility. It's shocking."

The rebels reported multiple coalition air strikes in the area where the plane went down, adding that women and children were among the dead and wounded, according to rebel television station Al-Masirah.

The coalition conceded the "possibility of collateral damage" during a "search and rescue operation" at the site of the jet crash, which left the fate of its crew uncertain.

Without stating the cause of the crash, a coalition statement released by the official Saudi Press Agency said the crew, comprising two officers, ejected from the plane before it crashed but the rebels opened fire at them in "violation of the international humanitarian law".

"The lives and wellbeing of the crew is the responsibility of the terrorist Houthi militia," the statement said, without specifying whether they had survived.

The Houthi rebels released footage of what they called the launch of their "advanced surface-to-air missile" and the moment it struck the jet in the night sky, sending it crashing down in a ball of flames.

"The downing of a Tornado in the sky above Al-Jawf is a major blow to the enemy and an indication of remarkable growth in Yemeni (rebel) air defence capabilities," Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdelsalam tweeted.

The escalation follows fierce fighting around the Houthi-held capital Sanaa, with the rebels seen to be advancing on several fronts towards Al-Hazm, the regional capital of Al-Jawf.

The province of Al-Jawf has been mostly controlled by the Houthis, but its capital remains in the hands of the Saudi-backed government.

The downing of a coalition warplane marks a setback for a military alliance known for its air supremacy and signals the rebels' increasingly potent military arsenal.

"At the start of the conflict the Houthis were a ragtag militia," Fatima Abo Alasrar, a scholar at the Middle East Institute, told AFP.

"Today they have massively expanded their arsenal with the help of Iran and its proxy Hezbollah," Lebanon's powerful Shia movement.

Houthi rebels now possess weapons bearing signs of Iranian origin, according to a UN report obtained by AFP earlier this month, in potential violation of a UN arms embargo.

Some of the new weapons, which the rebels obtained last year, "have technical characteristics similar to arms manufactured in the Islamic Republic of Iran," said the report, compiled by a panel of UN experts tasked with monitoring the embargo.

The panel did not say whether the weapons were delivered to the Houthis directly by the Iranian government, which has repeatedly denied sending them arms.

The coalition intervened against the Houthis in 2015, in a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, and sparked what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The coalition force has been widely criticised for the high civilian death toll from its bombing campaign, which has prompted some Western governments to cut arms deliveries to the countries taking part.

On Wednesday, the coalition said it would put on trial military personnel suspected of being behind deadly air strikes on Yemeni civilians.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1534834/air-strikes-on-yemen-kill-31-civilians-after-saudi-jet-crash

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South Asia

 

Islamic congregation begins in Saptari

February 16, 2020

A three-day Islamic congregation, Aalmi Tablighi Ijtima, has started in Saptari from today.

The programme participated in by over 200,000 followers of Islam was inaugurated by Maulana Sad Sahab of Markat Jane Masjid of New Delhi, India.

Meanwhile, over 700 security personnel of Nepal Police and Armed Police Force have been deployed for security at the programme venue in Janjar of Bodebarsain-5.

Security agencies said they were on high alert upon finding that the participants even from countries such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bangladesh are partaking in the event, which is supposed to be exclusively for Muslims from Nepal and India only.

The government on Thursday had directed the local administration to ban the programme, citing its concern over preparations to allow participants from countries other than India. However, at the behest of the National Muslim Commission the government had agreed to give a go-ahead with the scheduled programme after the organiser ensured that Muslims from countries except India wouldn’t be allowed in the event.

According to NMC Chairperson Samim Ansari, there were over 200 participants from countries other than India and Nepal at the programme yesterday. “It’s a grave mistake on part of the organiser to allow third country people to take part in the programme that was supposed to be only for the people of Nepal and India,” he said.

https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/islamic-congregation-begins-in-saptari/

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5 Taliban militants killed, 25 IEDs defused in Kandahar

16 Feb 2020 

The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces killed 5 Taliban militants during an operation in southern Kandahar province, the Afghan Military said.

The Special Operations Corps said in a statement said the security forces killed 5 Taliban militants during a joint raid in Khakriz district of Kandahar.

The security forces also discovered and defused five Improvised Explosive Devices during the operation, the Special Operations Corps added in its statement.

The Taliban group has not commented regarding the operation so far.

https://www.khaama.com/5-taliban-militants-killed-25-ieds-defused-in-kandahar-04457/

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The phobia of novel China’s Coronavirus and the fate of Afghan students in Wuhan

16 Feb 2020 

The new disease caused by a novel coronavirus was identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. Despite China’s efforts to contain the virus transmission, the epidemic of coronavirus has expanded. So far, around 20 countries have reported cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in their countries. The death toll due to COVID-19 has raised to almost 1400, with almost 65,000 cases of infections as last Friday.

Following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, countries remained committed to the health and well-being of their nationals by evacuating their nationals stranded in the epicenter of the outbreak. India, Bangladesh, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Iran were also among those who evacuated their nationals from Wuhan China.

As the other countries evacuated their nationals, Afghans are still waiting to receive a formal reply from Afghanistan’s government to evacuate or relocate them from the epicenter of the outbreak. There are approximately 45 Afghans including children in the highly quarantined city of Wuhan. Most of them are students living with their families or alone. In their interviews with media outlets, Afghans stranded in Wuhan reports the miserable and deprived situations in the ghost town of Wuhan. According to them, they are under stressful conditions; they lack access to enough food, safe drinking water, and they suffer from mental torture.

What could be the potential reasons that prevent the Ministry of Public Health of Afghanistan and other authorities from taking action?

On February 2, 2019, The Afghan Health Minister holds a media briefing on the novel Coronavirus. He mentioned that the Ministry of Health and the medical team is ready to bring all the Afghan students stranded in Wuhan. They will then undergo the quarantine procedure for 14 days. Nevertheless, he then expressed his fear that evacuating the 45 Afghans from Wuhan to Afghanistan will endanger the lives of the other 30 million Afghans. He also mentioned Pakistan as an example of not evacuating their nationals from Wuhan.

After almost two weeks of showing preparedness for evacuating Afghan students, Afghanistan’s authorities including the Ministry of Public Health has taken no action to evacuate the Afghan students from Wuhan. No action from Afghan authorities could be based on different reasons for which we can assume the following:

First, In addition to confidence in the health system, the Minister of public health’s briefing on novel coronavirus also reflects the inability of the country’s health system to prevent the spread, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19 infection in Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s health system lacks quarantine facilities and protocols, trained healthcare personnel and medical supplies, and economic burden from other diseases. Spreading the COVID-19 will definitely overburden the current health system in Afghanistan and handling the outbreak would be challenging for the ministry of public health. However, it is also important to remember that, before evacuating the Afghans from Wuhan they undergo screening procedures for COVID-19 infection. Those who pass the screening will be eligible for evacuation.

Second, showing solidarity with China in this dire situation of the COVID-19 outbreak by copying Pakistan’s stance on behalf of their nationals in Wuhan. Pakistan’s government has refused to evacuate their nationals from Wuhan. It is obvious that China and Pakistan share geopolitical interests and Pakistan has been a good ally of China throughout history. However, the case of Afghanistan is different. China had a limited role in the reconstruction and development efforts in Afghanistan after 2002. In addition, high-level Chinese authorities have not visited Afghanistan in the last two decades that show a low level of bilateral relations between Afghanistan and China. 

Would it be a wise decision to refuse the evacuation or relocation of Afghan students from Wuhan?

Keeping Afghan students in the epidemic center of COVID-19 is not an appropriate decision at all. World Health Organization does not prefer travel bans. Thus, the government of Afghanistan should consider offering voluntary evacuation requests to those Afghans who pass the screening for COVID-19. Because the situation is quite stressful for Afghan students as they suffer from mental torture. Afghan students have also reported limited access to food and other necessary supplies. On the other hand, the families and relatives of those 45 Afghans are also concerned about their loved ones stranded in Wuhan. It would be morally inappropriate to refuse or delay their evacuation or relocation of the Afghans stranded in Wuhan.

Moreover, the quarantine period for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is 14 days. It means that if people remain asymptomatic in 14 days, then the infection from coronavirus is unlikely. Nevertheless, Afghan students in Wuhan remained quarantined for more than 4 weeks in Wuhan, and they have not shown any symptoms of COVID-19 infection yet. On the other hand, the chances of getting COVID-19 infection will increase if the Afghan students remain longer in the epidemic center of the COVID-19 virus. Therefore, evacuating the students from Wuhan could decrease the chances of COVID-19 infection in Afghan Students; moreover, the health system of China is already been overburdened with new cases of COVID-19 infection. Therefore, treatment and management priorities may also differ if international students get the infection.

Third, it would be morally appropriate if we consider a prompt action in bringing our students from Wuhan to Afghanistan. In case the level of trust and confidence in Afghanistan’s health system remain low for preventing the spread of COVID-19 infection, it would be helpful to consider a third country or another province in China to evacuate or relocate our students from Wuhan for the purposes of additional obligatory quarantine of the students. Some countries have already extended their support for evacuating nationals of other countries as a gesture of good friendship. For instance, India has evacuated Maldivian students from Wuhan, and Iran assisted in evacuating Iraqi and Syrian nationals along with Iranian nationals from Wuhan.

https://www.khaama.com/the-phobia-of-novel-coronavirus-and-the-fate-of-afghan-students-in-china-8768654/

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Seize the moment and end misery of over 40 years of war, Khalilzad urges Afghans

16 Feb 2020

The U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad urged the Afghans to seize the moment and end the misery of over 40 years of war.

Khalilzad made the remarks in an online statement following his meeting with President Mohammad Ashraf on the sidelines of Munich Security Conference.

He was apparently pointing towards the recent agreement with the Taliban group regarding a seven-day long reduction in violence in Afghanistan.

“Good to meet with Pres @AshrafGhani again today in #Munich. We spoke about the opportunity of this reduction in violence & the imperative of preparing for an inclusive #AfghanPeaceProcess. We urge all Afghans to seize the moment & end the misery of more than four decades of war,” Khalilzad said in a Twitter post.

The Afghan and American officials had earlier said the U.S. President Donald Trump has conditionally approved the peace deal with the Taliban group.

The officials further added that Taliban group will have to prove its commitment over a test period of about seven days later this month in a bid to pave the way for the signing of the deal.

Meanwhile, reports suggest that Washington is expected to sign a peace deal with the Taliban group on 29th of February, provided that the group uphold their commitments regarding a seven-day reduction in violence.

https://www.khaama.com/seize-the-moment-and-end-misery-of-over-40-years-of-war-khalilzad-urges-afghans-04456/

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Southeast Asia

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Marawi City Shari’a District Court Judge, Wife Scolded By SC For Unauthorized Mecca Pilgrimage

Asangan T. Madale

February 16, 2020

MARAWI CITY: The Supreme Court (SC) has reprimanded Marawi City Shari’a District Court Judge Rasad Laguindab and his wife Samia Usman, a court interpreter for the Malabang, Lanao del Sur Shari’a Judicial District, for going on a pilgrimage to Mecca without an approved travel authority. In a recent resolution, the Supreme Court First Division held Laguindab and Usman administratively liable for violation of an Office of Court Administrator (OCA) circular. The spouses had applied for a vacation leave from May 20 to June 6, 2019 to perform Umrah rites. They had filed their application only three days before their scheduled travel, citing busy schedules. Laguindab and Usman said they expected that the OCA would send their travel authority after they left for Mecca, just like it did before. But the OCA’s Employee’s Leave Division did not process the application at all, as Item 2 of the circular said requests not submitted at least 10 days before the travel “shall not be entertained.” The high court, however, said considering that this was both Laguindab and Usman’s first offense in their 20 years of service, the penalty of reprimand would suffice.

https://www.manilatimes.net/2020/02/16/news/regions/sharia-judge-wife-scolded-by-sc-for-unauthorized-mecca-pilgrimage/686245/

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30 attend workshop on mosque tourism

February 16, 2020

Danial Norjidi

The Youth Religious Programme under the Ministry of Religious Affairs in collaboration with the As-Syahadah Muallaf Youth Group held the ‘Awareness through Mosque Visits 2020’ workshop yesterday.

The programme served as a platform to share information about mosques, and etiquette in visiting them in an interesting and accurate manner.

Participants also learnt on techniques for interacting with tourists both within and outside the country.

A total of 30 youth under the Youth Religious Programme and members of the public participated in the workshop, facilitated by Edy Kasrin bin Abdul Kadir from Islamic Da’wah Centre.

The programme will continue on February 24 from 8am to 12 noon at Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Mosque in the capital. Themed ‘History and Culture of Brunei Darussalam through Mosque Tour’, the event will be open to the public as well as tourists.

https://borneobulletin.com.bn/30-attend-workshop-mosque-tourism/

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Uncle at Tiong Bahru mosque shows how to use hand sanitiser, ends with impeccable finger heart

Fasiha Nazren 

February 16,2020

To help with the coronavirus outbreak, mosques and aLIVE madrasahs (religious schools) in Singapore have taken added measures to keep congregants safe.

This includes providing hand sanitiser and taking the temperature of people taking classes in mosques.

https://mothership.sg/2020/02/tiong-bahru-mosque-uncle-sanitiser/

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Former sports minister Imam Nahrawi indicted for accepting Rp 20 billion in bribes

February 16, 2020 

Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) prosecutors have indicted former youth and sports minister Imam Nahrawi for accepting Rp 11.5 billion (US$840,280) in bribes and an additional Rp 8.64 billion in gratuities from a number of ministry and Indonesian Sports Council (KONI) officials.

“Defendant Imam Nahrawi, who served as youth and sports minister from 2014 to 2019 alongside Miftahul Ulum, accepted a gift of Rp 11.5 billion in cash from KONI secretary-general Ending Fuad Hamidy and KONI general treasurer Johhny E Awuy,” KPK prosecutor Ronald Worotikan read out during Imam’s indictment hearing at the Jakarta Corruption Court on Friday, as quoted by Antara news agency.

The prosecutors said that the bribes were intended to accelerate the approval and disbursement of a state grant proposed by KONI to the Youth and Sports Ministry in 2018.

Imam took office as youth and sports minister on Oct. 27, 2014, and appointed Miftahul – who had been his close confidante and chauffeur since 2011 – as his private assistant.

“The defendant introduced Miftahul Ulum to a host of Youth and Sports Ministry officials, suggesting that they first consult with Miftahul should there be anything they would like to communicate to the defendant,” Ronald said.

Imam was indicted under Article 20 of the 2001 Corruption Eradication Law, which prohibits civil servants and state officials from receiving gifts or promises in exchange for abusing their power and carries a maximum sentence of 20 years of imprisonment.

Imam did not submit a formal objection to the indictment but said that he would present his side of the story later in the trial.

“To uncover the truth, I ask that the trial continue to the argumentation stage. But I strongly object to the indictment, and I will express that when I present my defense,” Imam said during the hearing. 

A team of prosecutors had previously named Imam on a list of alleged recipients of bribes from the National Sports Committee (KONI) to the ministry during the trial of committee secretary-general Ending Fuad Hamidy at the Jakarta Corruption Court last year.

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/02/16/former-sports-minister-imam-nahrawi-indicted-for-accepting-rp-20-billion-in-bribes.html

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Make Islamic finance part of halal ecosystem, says INCEIF

Dr Azmi Omar

16/02/2020

Islamic finance should be made part of the halal ecosystem and not as a separate entity as practised in many countries where the industry is a part of the economy. 

International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF) president/chief executive officer Prof Datuk Dr Azmi Omar said in fact, the whole halal ecosystem should be covered to ensure the process is Shariah-compliant from end-to-end of the value chain.

"In many countries, this is separated in the sense that there is no connection between Islamic finance and the halal industry, whereas what we should be saying is that when you talk about financing, it must be from Islamic finance. 

"And if you put that as a requirement, by default, your Islamic financing will increase. We need to fill this gap by putting those requirements," he told Bernama in an interview recently. 

Based on the latest figures released in October 2019, Islamic banking accounted for 33 per cent of Malaysia’s total banking assets while the takaful market share stood at 11 per cent for family takaful and 10.1 per cent for general takaful. 

“At the moment, in Malaysia, because of the way we evaluate the halal certification, the financing is not part of the evaluation,” he said. 

Azmi, who is part of a team that developed the Islamic economy master plan for Indonesia, said countries which are developing their Islamic economy such as Indonesia is making it mandatory that all Muslim products must be halal throughout the entire ecosystem.  

"Indonesia started late. But for the republic’s master plan, we put that the Islamic finance industry must be part of the halal industry because, by default, Islamic finance is halal," he pointed out. 

The demand for Islamic finance will grow, Azmi said, mainly driven by continuous interest from the Muslim community and ethical finance such as for green finance and sustainable finance, especially in the new markets.   

Growth in the traditional Islamic finance industry has tapered off as it has reached market saturation. 

"In other parts of the world (in new markets), Islamic finance continues to grow. Recently, in Suriname, the country now has an Islamic bank which was opened in late 2018. In fact, it was converted into an Islamic bank from a conventional bank. 

"Guyana is also planning to have an Islamic bank. So as you can see now, we have Islamic banking spreading from the African continent to South America," he said. 

Meanwhile, addressing the perception that financial technology (fintech) is an urban play, Azmi noted that fintech should be extended to the rural areas, and this should be provided under Shariah-compliant requirements.

He said while fintech adoption in the conventional system grew at a faster rate, this was not so in the case of Islamic finance.

"Islamic finance is playing a catch-up role. For example, in the case of digital Islamic banks, one is going to be established in Germany by the Al Baraka Group, but you do not have a digital Islamic bank in Malaysia or Indonesia, for that matter," he said.

Azmi said that it would take some time for Islamic finance to fully embrace fintech, adding that Malaysia has homegrown fintech companies such as Ethis Malaysia providing ethical property crowdfunding in Malaysia and Indonesia. 

"There are a couple of fintech companies that are providing solutions that are Shariah-compliant but if you compare with conventional applications, the latter offers much more.

“But bear in mind that fintech companies are small, unlike banks which have a big department that can look at all Shariah applications and issues. But for fintech companies, they may not be able to do that immediately," he added.

https://www.bernama.com/en/business/news.php?id=1814266

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Arab world

 

Saudi newspaper slams Muslim Brotherhood as ‘Nazis’

FEBRUARY 15, 2020

By KHALED ABU TOAMEH

Haj Amin Husseini, who was appointed by the British High Commissioner as Mufti of Jerusalem during the British Mandate for Palestine, was the link for managing the recruitment of Arab fighters to the Nazi army, the Saudi newspaper Okaz reported in an article published on Friday.

Titled “The Nazi Ikhawn (Brothers),” the article refers to the close connections between the Muslim Brotherhood leaders and the Nazis.

Saudi Arabia formally designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization in 2014 and banned it in the kingdom.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Hamas, an offshoot of Muslim Brotherhood, have been strained in the past few years. Last year Hamas accused the Saudi authorities of arresting several of its prominent figures and members in the kingdom.

“Husseini, who was the representative of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine, contributed with his friend and leader Hassan al-Banna, the founder of Muslim Brotherhood, to recruiting a Muslim Brotherhood army of Egyptians and Arabs, gathered from orphanages and poor rural areas, to work under the Nazi army led by Adolf Hitler,” the newspaper said in an article written by its assistant editor-in-chief, Khalid Tashkandi.

According to Tashkandi, the number of Arabs recruited by Husseini and Muslim Brotherhood was estimated at 55,000, including 15,000 Egyptians.

The Saudi editor said there were a number of reasons why the Nazis were interested in Islam. “On the one hand, the Nazis were aware that the oppression of Muslims in a number of Islamic areas under occupation and colonial powers would facilitate the recruitment,” he said. “On the other hand, the Nazis saw the Muslims as stiff fighters ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of their faith.”

According to the editor, the Nazis launched a propaganda campaign in 1941 that promoted Nazism as a protector of Islam, “and the leaders of the Nazi army distributed educational pamphlets on Islam to German soldiers.”

Tashkandi said he has concluded that Hitler’s statements and views show that he was interested in rapprochement with the Islamic world in order to serve his political and military goals, chief among which was pitting Muslims against his enemies.

Michael Milshtein, Head of the Palestinian Studies forum – Dayan Center – at Tel Aviv University, said the “harsh article in the Saudi newspaper reflects the deep political and ideological tensions between Saudi Arabia and Hamas.”

Milshtein told The Jerusalem Post that Hamas’s close relations with Qatar, “considered by the Saudis as an arch-enemy,” was another reason behind the tensions between Saudi Arabia and Hamas.

He pointed out that the Saudis were also “very angry” with Hamas because of its strong ties with Iran.

“Hamas, for its part is angry with [Crown Prince] Mohammed bin Salman because of his alleged normalization [with Israel] and fear that he’s supporting US President Donald Trump’s recently unveiled plan for peace in the Middle East,” Milshtein said.

https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Saudi-newspaper-slams-Muslim-Brotherhood-as-Nazis-617703

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Muslim World League chief, Croatian president discuss ways to promote tolerance

16 February 2020

ZAGREB: Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic received Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL), at the presidential palace in Zagreb on Saturday.

The two leaders discussed cooperation opportunities to promote the values of tolerance and coexistence.

Al-Issa reiterated the MWL’s mission to adhere to peace and renounce all forms of extremism.

The Croatian president expressed her appreciation of the MWL’s mission and its work around the world, especially its initiative to enhance cooperation between states and peoples for more harmonious communities.

Al-Issa also met Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and discussed areas of joint work in the context of initiatives launched by the MWL to consolidate the values of religious and national harmony.

In another meeting, the MWL chief met with speaker of the Croatian Parliament, Gordan Jandrokovic, and discussed potential areas of cooperation in tasks of common interest, especially those related to minority rights.

Al-Issa met with imams working in Croatia, and with the president of the Islamic Cultural Center.

He also visited a Croatian parish and held a meeting with the bishops in charge, discussing methods of cooperation.

Al-Issa accepted the invitation of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic to visit the capital. Bandic expressed his appreciation for the MWL’s efforts in promoting peace and coexistence around the world, and strengthening relations between states and people.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1628251/saudi-arabia

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Ivanka Trump tours Louvre Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

15 hours ago

She was in Abu Dhabi ahead of the two-day Global Women’s Forum in Dubai, where she was to give the keynote address on Sunday.

In Abu Dhabi, Trump met with women business leaders at the Louvre Abu Dhabi before touring the museum. She later visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the largest mosque in the country.

The adviser to President Trump was scheduled to meet with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

At the Louvre, Trump discussed women’s economic empowerment in the UAE with businesswomen and government officials. Officials included Reem Al-Hashemi, Minister of State for International Cooperation; Noura Al-Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge development, and Minister of State for Advanced Sciences Sarah Al-Amiri

https://www.gulftoday.ae/news/2020/02/15/ivanka-trump-tours-louvre-abu-dhabi-and-sheikh-zayed-grand-mosque-ahead-of-womens-conference

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Saudi crackdown over Iqama misuse not Pakistan-specific: FO

February 16, 2020

“Around 400 Pakistanis have been brought to Shumaisi Deportation Centre near Makkah over the last three days,” a statement from the consulate, which was shared here by the Foreign Office, said.

The statement was issued in response to reports, mostly on social media, that thousands of Pakistani workers were detained and deported over the past few days. It was also being speculated that the action by the Saudi authorities was a reaction to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Kuala Lumpur and his statement there in which he, while explaining his no-show at the KL Summit, said that he had missed the event because some countries “close to Pakistan” had believed it would divide the Ummah and promised to attend the next edition.

“The assumption that it is a Pakistan-specific drive is completely incorrect. … Certain social media sections are also giving it a misleading political angle. It is in the interest of the deep-rooted Pak-Saudi brotherly relations that such baseless and irresponsible twist is avoided at all costs,” it said.

The consulate explained that the drive had been initiated almost a week ago against expatriates without ‘Iqama’ or those with expired ‘Iqama’, the ones not working at the place of their ‘Iqama’ or declared profession, or other illegal ones.

It further said that the campaign against illegal workers of all nationalities continued throughout the year with varying intensity.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1534753/saudi-crackdown-over-iqama-misuse-not-pakistan-specific-fo

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Erdogan, Trump discuss ways to end crisis in Idlib

February 16, 2020

“Stressing that the regime’s most recent attacks are unacceptable, the president and Trump exchanged views on ways to end the crisis in Idlib without further delay,” the presidency said in a statement after the two leaders spoke on the phone.

The situation in Syria has become more tense as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad intensifies his assault on Idlib backed by Moscow air power.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed while 800,000 Syrians have been forced to leave their homes to flee the offensive since December, according to the United Nations.

Turkey has 12 observation posts in Idlib as part of the 2018 Ankara-Moscow agreement made in southern city of Sochi.

Erdogan threatened to attack Damascus if regime forces did not go back behind the borders of the Sochi deal by the end of February after 14 Turks were killed by Syrian regime shelling in Idlib this month.

Relations between Turkey and the United States have been strained over multiple issues including Syria but it appears the Americans are trying to capitalise on the tensions over Idlib between Ankara and Moscow.

US special envoy for Syria James Jeffrey came to Ankara earlier this week, and voiced Washington’s support for Ankara’s “legitimate” interests in Syria and in Idlib.

But Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier on Saturday insisted that Turkey-Russia relations “shouldn’t” be affected by differences of opinion over Syria.

“The situation in Idlib will not affect the S-400 agreement,” Cavusoglu said, referring to Ankara’s purchase of the Russian air defence system criticised by Washington.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1534788/erdogan-trump-discuss-ways-to-end-crisis-in-idlib

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Sheikh Mohammed, Sheikh Hamdan arrive at Global Women's Forum Dubai

February 16, 2020

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, and Ivanka Trump arrived at the Global Women's Forum Dubai (GWFD) 2020, taking place on Sunday.  

The GWFD 2020 began on Sunday with a session by Carla Harris, Wall Street veteran and Managing Director at Morgan Stanley.

Ivanka Trump, adviser to the US President, shares her views on the importance of enabling women across developing countries to contribute to their nation's progress.

Among the key personalities to be featured are former UK prime minister Theresa May; David Malpass, president of the World Bank Group; and Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the IMF.

This year's GWFD will gather over 100 global leaders and experts, who will engage in a constructive dialogue on the advancement of women. More than 3,000 delegates from 87 countries are expected to attend workshops and sessions, including five dedicated plenaries, throughout the two-day conference.

On the sidelines of the forum, over 250 government representatives, business leaders and women entrepreneurs from the region will participate in the first We-Fi Mena Regional Summit, which is co-organised by the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) and Dubai Women Establishment.

Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council and President of Dubai Women Establishment, stressed that GWFD 2020 is a chance to shed light on the UAE's development journey "set in motion by its wise leadership who believed in women's capabilities and the importance of their role in society".

https://www.khaleejtimes.com/uae/dubai/Latest-updates-Global-Womens-Forum-Dubai-2020-opens-

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Rockets strike near US embassy in Iraq, no casualties reported

16-02-2020

Several rockets hit near the embassy of the United States in Iraq's capital early on Sunday, US and Iraqi military officials said, in the latest of a series of attacks against US assets in the country.

The rockets struck an Iraqi base hosting US troops and other coalition forces in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, an area that is home to foreign embassies and government offices.

According to Colonel Myles B Caggins III, a spokesman for the US military operation in Iraq, the attack - which took place just before 3:30am (00:30 GMT) - caused no casualties and only minor damage.

Iraq's military said three Katyusha rockets hit inside the Green Zone, while a fourth rocket hit a logistics base in a different neighbourhood operated by the Hashd al-Shaabi, a military network officially incorporated into the Iraqi state. 

Rocket attacks, which the US blames on Iran-backed militias within the Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), have frequently landed near and sometimes on the US embassy, which is next to the base.

Sunday's attack came just hours after one of the Hashd's Iran-backed factions, Harakat al-Nujaba, announced a "countdown" to ejecting American forces from the country.

The faction's leader Akram al-Kaabi tweeted a photograph of what he claimed was an American military vehicle, adding: "We are closer than you think."

The attack was the latest in a recent series of rocket and mortar attacks on Iraqi bases housing US troops. On Thursday, a mortar shell exploded in the K1 Iraqi military airbase in Kirkuk province in northern Iraq. No casualties were reported, Iraqi security officials said.

Last month, the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution calling for an end to the presence of foreign troops linked to the US-led alliance fighting the ISIL (ISIS) group. There are currently approximately 5,000 US troops stationed in Iraq.

The resolution came after a US drone attack in Baghdad killed top Iranian commander, General Qassem Soleimani; it later prompted Iranian missile attacks against Iraqi military bases housing US personnel. Dozens of US military personnel were wounded in the attacks.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/02/rockets-strike-embassy-iraq-casualties-reported-200216054124004.html

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Europe

 

US Officials Question Detroit-Area Imam Who Mourned SoleimaniUS Officials Question Detroit-Area Imam Who Mourned Soleimani

by John Rossomando

Weeks after he criticized a US drone strike that killed Iran’s top terror mastermind, US Customs officials questioned a Detroit-area imam about his support for the Iranian regime.

Mohamed Ali Elahi described the February 6 encounter, which took place as he got off a flight from Seoul, South Korea at Detroit’s Metropolitan Airport, on his Facebook page.

Hezbollah supporters chant slogans during a mourning rally for Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, in the suburbs of the Lebanese capital of Beirut, Jan. 5, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Aziz Taher.

Weeks after he criticized a US drone strike that killed Iran’s top terror mastermind, US Customs officials questioned a Detroit-area imam about his support for the Iranian regime.

Mohamed Ali Elahi described the February 6 encounter, which took place as he got off a flight from Seoul, South Korea at Detroit’s Metropolitan Airport, on his Facebook page.

Approximately 10 officers greeted him, with two asking him to be questioned and have his phone searched.

“I was not told what they were looking for, while checking my cellphone which carries my thousands of emails, WhatsApp, Telegram, Twitter, and text messages, but if the purpose was to scan all the information, it would take more than ten minutes!” Elahi wrote. “One of the officers was interested to know my opinion on killing of General [Qassem] Sol[e]imani in Iraq, something I had already explained in my public letter to the president following the assassination!”

“You may see Soleimani as a terrorist but now tens of millions of Iraqis and Iranians marching behind his coffin are honoring him as a charismatic leader, and collectively condemning your action and they categorize it as act of terrorism. So, I can see a lot that you lost out of this killing and wonder if you accomplished anything!” Elahi wrote.

Elahi condemned Soleimani’s killing during a press conference held last month at his mosque, the Islamic House of Wisdom.

He said he is a naturalized US citizen and has lived here for almost 30 years, arriving in the US in 1991.

Before coming to America, Elahi ran the Iranian Navy’s Head Political Ideological Bureau, a 1986 CIA report said. The late Ayatollah Khomeini appointed Elahi to that position in 1982, and he served in that post for five years.

The bureau was responsible for indoctrinating Iranian sailors to hate America and for enforcing Islamic norms. Before the revolution, many Iranian navy personnel trained in the United States and had positive feelings about America. Elahi’s bureau reported to Khomeini’s central staff, a 1987 Rand Corporation report noted, and was responsible for implementing the ayatollah’s directives. This office was reportedly tasked with spying on naval personnel and rooting out dissenters.

Stories over the years in The Detroit Free Press and other local Detroit news outlets glossed over Elahi’s work in the Iranian navy, saying he “taught religious classes in Iran’s Navy.” Elahi’s official biography on the Islamic House of Wisdom’s website also minimizes his role, saying, “Imam Elahi was appointed as an Islamic ethics teacher at the Iranian Naval Academy.”

Despite that history, and his open expression of grief over Soleimani’s death, Elahi expressed surprise that he drew law enforcement scrutiny:

“Is this how a faith servant, an ambassador of peace, a promoter of dialogue, a person whose life is dedicated to modesty, moderation, and call against extremism, terrorism and injustice, treated after 12 hours of flight and a week of restless outreach and hard work?”

Customs and Border Protection officers asked Elahi about references on his mosque’s website to the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. A 2014 post describes a celebration of the 35th anniversary of the revolution that brought the ayatollah to power. Elahi praised Ayatollah Khomeini as “an exceptional religious authority who combined religion and reason, morality and modernization, purification and civilization,” the post said.

A 2010 post shows that the Islamic House of Wisdom held memorial prayers to commemorate the anniversary of Khomeini’s 1989 death and to condemn Israel’s “criminal attack on the Gaza Aid Flotilla.”

A 2013 post includes a biography of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and recommends his writings.

Elahi also met with Hezbollah spiritual adviser Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, and in 2010 mourned the leader of Iran’s top terrorist proxy as a “great scholar.” Fadlallah advocated suicide bombings in the 1980s during the Lebanese civil war.

Elahi has continued to have contact with high-level Iranian officials while working as an imam in Dearborn. Elahi has denied being an Iranian agent.

“When I took the American citizenship and took the vows associated with loyalty to this country, I meant it. So I’m not [an] ambassador of Iran or any other country,” Elahi told CBN News in 2006.

During a March 2017 trip to Iran, Elahi met with former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami. Elahi also met with current President Hassan Rouhani in 2014 as part of a delegation of American Muslim leaders. He met Rouhani’s predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his 2010 visit to the US in a similar setting with American Muslim leaders in New York.

He hasn’t left Iranian regime propaganda far behind either, appearing on its Press TV propaganda channel numerous times.

The Department of Homeland Security should re-examine Elahi’s naturalization, Daniel Pipes, founder and president of the Middle East Forum, told the Investigative Project on Terrorism. Any lingering ties he might have with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or Iranian intelligence should be investigated.

“The naturalization of Elahi ranks with allowing the Blind Sheikh [Omar Abdel-Rahman] into the United States — legacies of the lax era before 9/11 when the US authorities did not take Islamism seriously. Better to review late than never the mistakes from back then,” Pipes said.

https://www.algemeiner.com/2020/02/16/us-officials-question-detroit-area-imam-who-mourned-soleimani/

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Jihad Jane: ‘This story has nothing to do with religion’

Feb 16, 2020

Ciaran Cassidy is an award-winning documentarian whose work has featured at Sundance (The Last Days of Peter Bergmann) and the Telluride Film Festival (Collaboration Horizontale). His radio docs have picked up five gold medals at New York Radio Festivals. As we meet, he and journalist Mark Horgan are working on Where Is George Gibney?, a new podcast series on the former swimming coach for BBC Sound. Cassidy has previously covered stories as diverse as an escape from an Irish industrial school and the suicide of a bullied teenage girl. But one project, The Echo Chamber: The Story of Jihad Jane, a radio documentary he produced in 2013, stayed with him. 

In 2010, Colleen LaRose, an American woman who called herself “Jihad Jane” on the internet, was charged with trying to recruit Islamic terrorists. She stood accused of taking part in an international conspiracy to kill Lars Vilks, the Swedish cartoonist who ignited a global controversy in 2007 for his depiction of the Prophet Muhammad as a dog. LaRose and another American woman, Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, and an Irish citizen, Algerian-born Ali Charafe Damache, were among a number of people arrested in Waterford in March 2010.

Ali Charafe Damache arrives at Waterford District Court in Waterford in 2010. Photograph: Peter Muhley/AFP/Getty

ALI CHARAFE DAMACHE OUTSIDE WATERFORD DISTRICT COURT IN 2010. PHOTOGRAPH: PETER MUHLEY/AFP/GETTY

“There was huge fanfare around the story,” says Cassidy. “It was a lead story here and it was a lead story all across the States. Katie Couric opened the CBS evening news with it. As a journalist I was kind of curious as to why the story went quiet and what had happened. Eventually Colleen LaRose appeared in court in America and she pleaded guilty. I think she would have got 35 or 50 years otherwise. I just had a lot of questions about what really happened. I was curious about the fact that they were two American women in Waterford. I was curious about the role of the media and the role of the internet.

That’s how surreal this story was. Somebody is wandering around Waterford looking for an FBI department

“It’s a story that’s more familiar now, but at the time it felt a lot more of an outlier. Back in 2010 broadband speeds had only started to increase. So people were just starting to put videos up. There was no policing whatsoever on YouTube or the darker corners of the web that everybody is so much more familiar with now.

“So I was just exploring that world. How somebody in Philadelphia and somebody in Colorado and somebody in Baltimore and somebody in Waterford were all planning to kill someone in Sweden. It was all so strange. And it’s a story that couldn’t have happened in the 1960s or 70s it could have only happened at that moment.”  

Cassidy’s questions form the spine of his fascinating new feature documentary, Jihad Jane. Colleen LaRose’s strange radicalisation began following an anonymous sexual encounter with a “Middle Eastern guy” she met on holiday in Amsterdam. Returning to American life, while caring for her elderly mother and her partner’s elderly father, she became fascinated by the Arab world and the Palestinian cause. It was a lonely and tough existence for someone her partner Kurt Gorman described as a “social person”. 

“I was watching videos on YouTube,” LaRose explains. “The thing that had an effect on me was the brutality I was seeing against the Muslims. I would get upset. The blood and the bodies and the children. The day that I was watching the Zionists bombing the Palestinians, you could hear the children screaming and crying and all the women and the brothers. At the same time I was watching this on the internet, outside my window I could hear kids playing and laughing in the streets. And I was thinking to myself, Nobody knows what’s going on.”

“I remember at one of the first production meetings somebody asked: are you going to film in a mosque?” recalls Cassidy. “And I asked: why would I need to film in a mosque? None of the people involved went to a mosque. They never met a preacher. They never met a cleric. They never even talked to a Muslim. This story has nothing to do with religion. This is all about people who were spending eight or nine hours a day on computers.” 

LaRose’s obsession eventually brought her to a bedsit above a Chinese restaurant in Waterford, where she encountered another disgruntled American woman, Jamie Paulin Ramirez, and Ali Charaf Damache in order to enforce a fatwa on Lars Vilks. After six frustrating weeks, LaRose went to the authorities to blow the whistle on the entire absurd plot.

“I thought he was like a leader and he had it under control that he had people under him and he could teach me,” LaRose says of Damanche. “It turned out he wasn’t like that at all. He was a liar. He lied to all of us.”

“I don’t think she saw that it was going to be a big issue,” says Cassidy. “She thought she would go home and go back to Kurt. One of the things that we didn’t put in the film – but if you’re Irish it’s kind of interesting – was she told me that when she was in Waterford and she left the apartment, she went up to the Garda station there looking for the FBI department. So when she walked in the guy behind the desk was really confused about what she wanted, so she headed off and sent the email from the library. That’s how surreal this story was. Somebody is wandering around Waterford looking for an FBI department.”

LaRose, who was released from prison in 2018, is now a Trump supporter living in anonymity. Before her brief, botched career as a self-styled jihadist, she lived a harrowing life. She was raped repeatedly by her biological father from the age of seven before running away in her early teens. She drifted into prostitution, and by 15 she had married one of her johns. A second abusive marriage followed, plus years of substance abuse and a suicide attempt in 2005.

That’s not the only affecting story in Jihad Jane. Another co-conspirator, Mohammad Hassan Khalid, who was has Asperger’s and was 15 when he became embroiled in the Jihad Jane plot, became the youngest person ever charged with terrorism inside the United States and was sentenced to five years. (“A kid with Asperger’s who was getting bullied at school and who went online looking for prayer videos,” as Cassidy explains.)

There’s a difference if people are writing about murdering someone online and then they’re travelling to do it

The film, as with the viewer, is never entirely certain if the great headline-making Jihad Jane plot was anything more than a fantasy. 

“It’s a tricky one,” says Cassidy. “I was trying to think about it in legal terms. There’s a difference if people are writing about murdering someone online and then they’re travelling to do it. I think the minute that she got on that plane – she didn’t make it to Sweden but she did make it to Ireland – and she was on her way to murder that guy, it changes the case.”

The spectacle of Colleen LaRose leaving prison while cradling her hand-knit stuffed animals, does rather undermine the notion that she was determined to shoot Lars Vilks – six times, specifically. 

“The US attorney’s office called her the first white woman to ever be convicted of terrorism,” says Cassidy. “And the hype that they gave the case made her front-page news. We thought that was an important part of the story. She became a kind of bogeywoman. And then she turns up with teddy bears. The larger point is that no one should be scared about this story. Partly the aim of the documentary was to demystify the stuff around the case.”

Cassidy couldn’t have predicted when he started work on the project all those years ago that the idea of hate speech masquerading as free speech would be as voguish as it is right now. 

“Last year there came an opera in the opera house in Stockholm on the theme of Jihad Jane,” says Lars Vilks on camera. “It was three characters: Jihad Jane, the artist and the reporter. And the artist was a very nasty character. Actually [the story] seemed to be over. And when it came to 2010, I actually thought I had been forgotten. But in [the Jihad Jane] case, with a special fascination, it became world news. Everyone seemed to believe that I had done something again. I had shown a video about religion and homosexuality. It was quite a funny video. But as we were showing the Prophet and homosexual situations, the Muslims in the room reacted at that time and one came up to me. But the bodyguards acted. And there was a riot in the room.”  

Sometimes we talk about certain, terrible things and she would just say: ‘Oh well; that was just another adventure’

“One of the guys we talked to was Jesse Morton, a reformed radical and very interesting,” says Cassidy. “He’s the guy that says terrorism is a media operation. He would take a video of someone like Lars Vilks or of somebody burning the Koran and they would get a huge response. And then somebody would respond in kind, and those things were bouncing off each other.”

Vilks’s trollishness contrasts starkly with Colleen LaRose’s more earnest declaration that, even after the failed operation and jail sentence: “I’m somebody now.”

“I remember chatting to Colleen’s attorney – who really always had her best interests at heart,” says Cassidy. “And he was saying that because of all the stuff that had happened to her in her childhood and then in teenage years of prostitution and then the abusive marriages, that after that, prison wasn’t a big deal. Sometimes we talk about certain, terrible things and she would just say: ‘Oh well; that was just another adventure.’ ”

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/film/jihad-jane-this-story-has-nothing-to-do-with-religion-1.4168517

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Teenager’s attack on Islam tests France’s stance on religion

16/02/2020

At last, the French have a distraction from strikes over pension reform, ugly clashes between police and protesters and general discontent.

The country is preoccupied by l’affaire Mila, which began as a crude online spat between teenagers but grew into a full-scale national debate on competing notions: unfettered freedom of expression versus the right to worship without fear of insult.

As French President Emmanuel Macron finally inches towards his long-promised initiative on Islam in France, a 16-year-old schoolgirl has — almost by accident — thrown a hefty spanner in the works of those striving to build a society in which Muslims and non-Muslims co-exist in mutual tolerance and respect.

With a few scurrilous words on an Instagram video, Mila trashed Islam and much about the faith that Muslims hold dear.

After expressing hatred for religion generally and claiming the Quran was full of hate, she signed off with expletives a hooligan possessing Islamophobic thoughts might use when spraying graffiti on a wall.

Contemptuous of millions of compatriots though they were, Mila’s remarks may have been no more than those of an immature girl wanting to sound tough. They assumed disproportionate significance, igniting a furious debate on freedom and blasphemy soon after the fifth anniversary of the killing of 12 people by the French-Algerian brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi at the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which had published caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad.

The video was widely shared, bringing Mila a torrent of abuse and death threats, forcing police to place her under protection and officials to move her to another school. Support for her came from an unlikely front of intellectuals and the far right while a government minister and the left offer mixed messages or silence as if unsure of the correct response.

Mila attended a secondary school with a large Muslim population in Villefontaine, east of Lyon. French media have avoided fuller identification but her address and phone number have been posted on social media.

The origins of l’affaire Mila, on January 18, are banal. She reacted angrily to a boy’s unwelcome advances on Instagram. “I didn’t hesitate to put him in his place because it wasn’t the first time,” she told TMC television in the only interview she has given.

Later, she discussed her sexuality with another follower, telling her she was a lesbian. They agreed they did not especially like Arab or black girls, prompting the earlier user to return and call her a “dirty dyke,” a whore and a racist.

“He insulted me in the name of Allah,” Mila said. “I said I didn’t like Islam, that it was a religion of hatred.” She told TMC she denied racism since she was attacking a religion not an ethnic group and made it clear she regretted only her choice of words, not their message, though she did apologise to those who “practise Islam in peace.”

Blasphemy is not prohibited in France except, and then only theoretically, in Alsace and Moselle, a legacy of their previous attachment to neighbouring Germany. One well-known French commentator, Franz-Olivier Giesbert, has asked in the conservative news magazine Le Point whether growing intolerance was turning France into “the new Pakistan.”

What Mila makes of endorsements and criticism from other quarters is unclear. After trying for years to detoxify her anti-immigration party National Rally, formerly the Front National and known for its anti-Islam, anti-Semitic streaks, Marine Le Pen let the mask drop, tweeting: “This young girl is braver than the whole political class in power over the past 30 years.”

French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet said “insulting a religion is an attack on freedom of conscience,” though she later backtracked. In a rare comment from the mainstream left, the former presidential candidate Segolene Royal said she refused to regard a “disrespectful teenager” as a paragon of the freedom of expression.

Richard Malka, a lawyer who acts for Charlie Hebdo, sprang to Mila’s defence, saying she had used “words of her age and a still childish passion to express the evil she thinks of a religion,” demonstrating her belief that after centuries of combat and a revolution, the French had rid themselves of the duty of “obligatory respect” to God.

Inconveniently for intellectuals and rabble-rousers of the extreme right, Muslim complaints about collective vilification are inextricably linked to outrage at the routine demonisation of their faith.

After two years of delay, Macron is reportedly about to announce proposals for combating a “political Islam” incompatible with France’s republican values and for the organisation of Islam in France. Many in the country are counting on the president to act in line with his repeated assertions that there should be no confusion between extremism and worship.

But perhaps there is no need for French Muslims to judge the merits of the opposing Twitter hashtags, #JeSuisMila and #JeNeSuisPasMila.

Even without scholarly guidance, they could easily choose between contrasting views from the French Muslim Council. Its president, Mohammed Moussaoui, said that “no matter how offensive,” Mila’s remarks could not justify death threats. Another senior official, Abdallah Zekri, insisted she had brought them upon herself, invoking the biblical phrase: “They who sow the wind reap the whirlwind.”

https://thearabweekly.com/teenagers-attack-islam-tests-frances-stance-religion

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Rochester's Ahmadiyya Muslim Community uses public service to celebrate

Feb. 15, 2020

One hundred years ago Saturday, Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiq disembarked from an ocean liner in Philadelphia only to be told he wasn't welcome.

A native of India, Sadiq was a Muslim missionary — perhaps the first ever dispatched to the United States. Immigration officials ordered him to leave, then locked him up while he appealed their decision.

Sadiq, a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, reportedly converted 20 men to Islam during seven weeks behind bars. Eventually released, he went on to convert hundreds more Americans.

Members of Rochester's Ahmadiyya Muslim Community chapter assemble food for donation to a local shelter.Buy Photo

Members of Rochester's Ahmadiyya Muslim Community chapter assemble food for donation to a local shelter. (Photo: Steve Orr/Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)

A century later, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community prides itself as the oldest and most open-minded Islamic sect in the United States — and the community celebrated, in Rochester and in dozens of other cities, by making Saturday a day of service.

Here, members of the community gathered at their mosque on East Main Street and assembled 300 bags of food that were to be taken to the House of Mercy shelter in northeast Rochester. Men packed bags in one room, women in another, in keeping with the practice of discouraging "free mixing" of the sexes. Members also collected clothing for donation.

"Our community is big on public service and giving back to mankind," said Mubarak Bashir, president of the Rochester chapter. "We do this kind of thing quite often."

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was established in India in 1889. Its adherents consider founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to have been the messiah foretold by Muhammad, a departure from mainstream belief has made Ahmadis unwelcome in some Muslim nations.

But the sect has thrived elsewhere, including in the United States, where they say they are the fastest-growing Muslim sect. The chapter in Rochester, one of about 70 in this country, has 130 to 140 members, Bashir said.

Mubarak Bashir, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community chapter in Rochester (left), and chapter public affairs director Daud Munawar.Buy Photo

Mubarak Bashir, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community chapter in Rochester (left), and chapter public affairs director Daud Munawar. (Photo: Steve Orr/Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)

Bashir and the Rochester chapter's public affairs director, Daud Munawar, say Ahmadiyya espouses many bedrock American principles, including freedom of speech, protection of human rights, the importance of education and rejection of violence to solve problems.

https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2020/02/15/ahmadiyya-muslims-rochester-honor-centennial-first-missionary/4771313002/

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Muslim couple condemns court ruling allowing doctors to let their baby die

16-02-2020

Appeal judges analysed evidence about the case of four-month-old Midrar, who was starved of oxygen when the umbilical cord came out ahead of his birth on September 18, after the High Court concluded that treatment could be withdrawn.

Midrar’s parents, Karwan Ali, 35, and Shokhan Namiq, 28, who live in Manchester, had asked appeal judges to overturn the ruling.

They said he was still growing and that doctors could not be sure that he would not improve, which meant more tests should be carried out.

Midrar’s father had argued his son had been showing “signs of life” and said the ruling was “terrible.”

Mr Ali said: “I’m just reading what the appeal judges have said, then we’ll discuss it with our lawyers. He’s still growing. They can’t be 100% sure he is dead. He’s still growing. His eyes move. I’ve seen them move.”

The family’s solicitor, David Foster, said Midrar’s parents were considering an appeal and would like the court to “give weight to experts from outside the UK.” The next step would be to take the case to the Supreme Court.

“They believe the law in this area should be reviewed and do not consider Midrar’s condition is necessarily irreversible,” Mr Foster said.

Appeal judges Sir Andrew McFarlane, Lord Justice Patten and Lady Justice King concluded that Midrar’s parents did not have an arguable case and declared that their son died at 20:01 GMT on October 1, when he would have been 14 days old.

Sir Andrew said evidence showed that “awfully” Midrar no longer has a “brain that is recognisable as such. There is no basis for contemplating that any further tests would result in a different outcome,” he said.

Doctors at St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester said the baby should be allowed a “kind and dignified death.”

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, which runs St Mary’s Hospital, previously said that Midrar has always been on a ventilator and has never breathed independently. It said his organs were deteriorating and continuing to treat Midrar was “undignified.”

Lawyers representing the hospital’s trust said three tests had confirmed brain stem death.

A spokesperson for the hospital trust said it “acknowledges the judgement made today and recognises that these are incredibly sad circumstances. Our thoughts remain with baby Midrar’s family at this very difficult time,” they added

https://5pillarsuk.com/2020/02/15/muslim-couple-condemns-court-ruling-allowing-doctors-to-let-their-baby-die/

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Europe honors Gen. Soleimani: Posters adorn cities across Italy

February 15, 2020

A European group has launched a remembrance campaign across Italy for Iranian Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani who was assassinated by US forces in Iraq in January.

The European Solidarity Front for Syria (ESFS) -- which launched the campaign in honor of Gen. Soleimani -- plastered the late general’s face on posters across Italy.

Photos emerged from Rome, Milan and Turin depicting Gen. Soleimani, with social media users reacting with praise.

One poster, placed on a signpost outside the Colosseum in Rome, read: "In honor of Qassem Soleimani".

Written alongside the photo was: "There is another paradise. That is the battle scene. The battlefield of your homeland."

On its Facebook page, the ESFS wrote the campaign was aimed at honoring "the memory of a man whose commitment and dedication to the cause of the freedom and sovereignty of nations has moved and inspired millions of free men and women in the world."

"General Soleimani represented and still represents one of the most important examples of a patriot at the service of that ideal that never in the world, directly or indirectly, a nation could hinder the legitimate autonomy of another nation or oppress a people opposed to it," the ESFS wrote on its Facebook page.

The group also described Gen. Soleimani’s assassination as an "unjustifiable act of barbarism and prevarication".

US forces assassinated General Soleimani, the former commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of Iraq’s Hashd al-Sha’abi, and their companions by targeting their car outside Baghdad International Airport on January 3.

The terror attack took place under the direction of US President Donald Trump, with the Pentagon taking responsibility for the strike.

Both commanders were admired by Muslim nations for eliminating the US-sponsored Daesh terrorists in the region. General Soleimani, in particular, was an international figure who played a leading role in promoting peace and security in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.

As foreign-backed Takfiri outfits reared their heads in recent years, the IRGC commander emerged as a key strategist and ingenious commander leading Iranian military advisers assisting Syrian and Iraqi troops in battles against terrorists.

The general was frequently pictured on the frontlines during anti-terrorism operations from Iraq’s Mosul to Syria’s Aleppo.

The US assassination of the top Iranian commander sent shock waves across the world while, at the same time, forging greater unity in the region against US interventionism, with insistent calls for revenge being echoed across the Muslim world.

Hailed by both friends and foes as a major military strategist, General Soleimani topped Foreign Policy (FP)’s 2019 list of Global Thinkers in defense and security.

Several reports have emerged about assassination plots against the commander by the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia– which are believed to be among the major supporters of Takfiri terrorists wreaking havoc on the Middle East.

Many believe that Washington created the Daesh terrorist group and helped it rise and commence its reign of terror and destruction in Syria and Iraq in 2014.

https://en.abna24.com/news//europe-honors-gen-soleimani-posters-adorn-cities-across-italy_1010543.html

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Chinese tourist in France is Europe's first coronavirus death

17 hours ago

An elderly Chinese tourist in France has died after contracting the COVID-19 coronavirus, becoming the first fatality outside of the Asia-Pacific region in an epidemic that has killed more than 1,500 people in mainland China.

The 80-year-old man, who was from the central Hubei province where the virus originated late last year, arrived in France on January 16, French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn told reporters on Saturday. 

The man - whose name has not been made public - was hospitalised in Paris, where his condition quickly deteriorated. He was in a critical condition for several days before dying from a lung infection brought on by the virus.

"This is the first fatality by the coronavirus outside Asia, the first death in Europe," said Buzyn, who was informed of the man's death late on Friday.

"We have to get our health system ready to face a possible pandemic propagation of the virus, and therefore the spreading of the virus across France."

She added that the man's daughter, who is hospitalised at the Bichar hospital in northern Paris, was no longer a source of concern for health authorities and could be released soon. 

France has recorded 11 cases of the virus, out of a global total of 67,000, the vast majority of which are in mainland China.

Of the 11 cases in France, four patients were successfully treated and have checked out of hospital. 

"Six patients remain hospitalised but are no longer a source of concern today," Buzyn said.

Those six include the 50-year-old daughter of the deceased tourist and five Britons who became infected at a French ski resort.

The epidemic has killed 1,527 people, all but four of which were on the Chinese mainland.

Until the death in France, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Japan were the only other territories to record deaths, reporting one each.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/02/chinese-tourist-france-europe-coronavirus-death-200215152240577.html

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Turkey hits back at Russia claims over Syria's Idlib

16-02-2020

Turkey said it has fulfilled its responsibilities in Syria's Idlib region and warned it would take "necessary steps" if diplomatic efforts with Russia fail, amid a continuing Syrian government offensive on the last rebel-held region in the country.

Ankara, which backs several Syrian rebel groups, and Moscow, which supports the Syrian government, agreed in September 2018 to set up a de-escalation zone in opposition-controlled northwestern Syria. 

Under the 2018 deal, Turkey has 12 observation posts in Idlib, with some of them now being in Syrian government-controlled territory following gains by Damascus.

Turkey's Vice President Fuat Oktay on Saturday insisted Ankara had enforced its side of the agreement.

"Observation posts were set up and the regime had to stay outside of this area. Russia and Iran were to ensure the regime stayed outside, Turkey had responsibilities too, Turkey fulfilled these," Oktay told the NTV broadcaster.

"Undertaking an extremely risky and difficult duty, Turkey took real initiative to stop the bloodshed of civilians, to prevent a new migration wave and to ensure it did not become a terror nest."

Later on Saturday, the Turkish presidency said in a statement that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his US counterpart, Donald Trump, discussed ways to end the crisis in Idlib and condemned the attacks by the Syrian government in the region.

"Stressing that the regime's most recent attacks are unacceptable, the president and Trump exchanged views on ways to end the crisis in Idlib without further delay," the presidency said in a statement after the two leaders spoke on the phone.

Launched in April last year, the Syrian government offensive has disrupted fragile cooperation between Turkey and Russia. After several failed ceasefire attempts last summer, the Syrian government intensified its assault on the region in December, killing hundreds of civilians and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee.

The situation escalated further this month when 13 Turkish military personnel were killed. Ankara responded by hitting scores of Syrian government targets.

On Friday, a Syrian military helicopter was shot down in the western countryside of Aleppo province, in an attack claimed by rebel groups. The incident came days after rebels said they shot down another government helicopter near the town of Nairab.

According to the United Nations, about one million Syrian refugees are living near the border with Turkey, with camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) already at capacity. 

The Russian defence ministry said earlier this week Turkey did not separate "fighters from the moderate opposition from terrorists," referring to an agreed demilitarised zone within Idlib.

President Erdogan said later on Saturday that the situation would not be resolved until Syrian government forces withdrew beyond the borders that Turkey and Russia outlined in the 2018 agreement.

"The solution in Idlib is the [Syrian] regime withdrawing to the borders in the agreements. Otherwise, we will handle this before the end of February," Erdogan said, appearing to bring forward a previously stated deadline of the end of February.

"We would like to do this with the support of our friends. If we have to do it the hard way, we are also up for that," he said.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/02/turkey-hits-russia-claims-syria-idlib-200215103337565.html

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North America

 

Trump’s invisible wall is not just for Muslims

Sunday 16/02/2020

Rashmee Roshan Lall

The battle to replace Donald Trump in the White House got properly under way with the Democratic Party primary election in New Hampshire, so it’s worth examining the state of Trump’s signature campaign promise from 2016: the wall.

Well, the wall is up — virtually — and is taking over many more aspects of American public discourse than originally proposed. Illegal immigration through the US-Mexico border, Trump’s alleged justification for building a wall, continues to fall.

However, the US president continues to throw up bureaucratic barriers even to legal entry and immigration. The number of refugee admissions to the United States fell to the lowest level on record last year, fewer foreign students and tourists were going to the United States and fewer green cards were being issued, the US State Department said.

By some estimates, Trump’s vow to bar all Muslims from entering the United States has taken effect in the past two years in the form of varying levels of travel and immigration restrictions on an estimated 7% of the world’s population. More than 135 million people in seven, mainly Muslim countries have been affected.

The Migration Policy Institute, a Washington think-tank, said the number of permanent visas given every month in 2017-18 to nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen fell 72%.

In the first week of February, Trump extended travel and immigration restrictions to another six countries. As of February 22, people from Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Eritrea, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania will no longer be able to permanently migrate to the United States but are allowed short-term travel.

This, too, is a “Muslim ban” of sorts. Except for Myanmar, where Muslims account for 4% of the population, Muslims are more than one-quarter of the population of the countries newly targeted by Trump. Tanzania, for instance, is 30% Muslim and Kyrgyzstan is 86%.

A pattern is emerging from Trump’s travel and immigration restrictions. The target countries either have dark-skinned people or large numbers of Muslims or both. As US Senator Kamala Harris, a Democrat from California, recently posted on Twitter: “Trump’s travel bans have never been rooted in national security — they’re about discriminating against people of colour. They are, without a doubt, rooted in anti-immigrant, white supremacist ideologies.”

Admittedly, the Trump administration’s overall policy betrays a broader hostility to any category of foreigner — legal, illegal or asylum-seeker — seeking to enter the United States but the original targets — Muslims — have been distinct and symbolic and they have always been the foundation of the virtual border wall.

On that foundation have been laid the bricks that constitute the virtual wall. The bricks are a steady stream of administrative decisions. There are orders to bar entry to the United States for certain groups of people from certain countries. There are orders to reduce the annual quota of refugees that America is willing to take.

The administration has made it practically impossible for asylum claims at the US border to have any chance of successful resolution. Brick by brick, the impediments Trump has placed to entry into the United States have had the cumulative effect of an impenetrable if invisible wall.

It is more consequential than the nearly 200km of physical border wall completed by the Trump administration. The virtual barrier will serve as a greater deterrent than the 130km of wall that Trump’s new budget proposal for this fiscal year says he wants to build. And, were Trump to be re-elected in November, it’s almost irrelevant that he finish the full 725km of barriers planned by 2021. The virtual wall would be the more important and the greater deterrent to travel to the United States by Muslims and dark-skinned people.

That’s partly because Trump’s virtual wall suggests to those who live and work in its boundaries a deep and abiding sense of security. It is a false sense, premised on the assumption that the American people are either too stupid or too lazy to notice that their problems do not arise from Muslim and dark-skinned migrants. It is meant to disguise the painful reality that the gains of US economic growth are unevenly distributed, that Trump as president has only aggravated income inequality with his 2017 tax law and that a strong safety net and affordable healthcare remain a distant dream in the world’s richest country.

In their 2016 book, “Framing Immigrants: News Coverage, Public Opinion and Policy,” Chris Haynes, Jennifer Merolla and Karthick Ramakrishnan explored the discourse about immigration in the United States.

They said attitudes towards immigration change when the economy is faring badly or when politicians bring up the issue. Ramakrishnan suggested the politicians are the more influential. By Trump’s own, somewhat disingenuous, account, the US economy is doing very well. So the focus on immigration is clearly based on a darker vision of foreigners as criminals, competitors and a burden on the American state.

The virtual wall takes the United States back to a century ago, when being white was key to acquiring US citizenship and there were barriers to immigration for all but Caucasians and Western Europeans. In the 21st century, though, it merely highlights the growing dissonance between Trump’s America and the country’s founding ideals.

https://thearabweekly.com/trumps-invisible-wall-not-just-muslims

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Don Brown: Deadly 'green on blue' attacks by Islamic allied nation troops against Americans must end

By Don Brown

20 hours ago

When President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence flew to Dover Air Base this week to oversee the dignified transfer of two flag-draped caskets carried from a military jet by an Army honor guard, a hard, cold truth emerged through the dark mist over the tarmac – a truth largely ignored by the press and by American politicians.

Two American Green Berets, Sgt. Javier Jaguar Gutierrez and Sgt. Antonio Rey Rodriguez, had been killed by insider attacks.

In other words, an Afghan soldier, posing as an ally who U.S. soldiers had come to train, teach and support suddenly "went Taliban." Wearing the green uniform of the allied Afghan National Army, the Afghan opened fire on American Forces, wounding six Americans, and killing Gutierrez and Rodriguez.

US SOLDIER DIES FROM NON-COMBAT INCIDENT AT MILITARY BASE IN AFGHANISTAN, DOD SAYS

These attacks are called “green on blue” attacks where Muslim-nation partner soldiers pose as “allies,” trusted by American forces, and given weapons, suddenly attack American forces when given proximity to Americans.

In 2014, American Maj. Gen. Harry Greene, a two-star general, was shot and killed in Afghanistan by an Afghan National Army soldier while ceremoniously inspecting U.S. forces.

On Oct. 19, 2016 an Afghan Army soldier shot and killed one American soldier and civilian, and wounded three more Americans in an attack in Kabul. On March 19, 2017, an allied Afghan soldier fired on U.S. troops who were training Afghan troops based in Kandahar. On May 7, 2016, two Afghan soldiers killed two Romanian soldiers in a green-on-blue attack in Kandahar.

The Long War Journal reports that between 2008 and June of 2017, at least 155 green-on-blue attacks occurred, leaving 152 coalition forces dead and 193 wounded, mostly dead and wounded Americans.

Even in Trump's drawdown, these “green on blue” attacks by Islamic allied nation troops against Americans have continued.

As recently as July of 2019, an Afghan National Army soldier shot and killed two American paratroopers, Pfc. Brandon Jay Kreischer, 20, of Stryker, Ohio, and Spc. Michael Isaiah Nance, 24, of Chicago, in Kandahar Province.

And green-on-blue struck closer to home on Dec. 6, 2019, when a radical jihadist coward, masquerading as a Saudi military officer, who was an invited guest of the United States, opened fire with a 9-millimeter pistol at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida.

Moments later, three American sailors lay bleeding, including Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, a 23-year-old Naval Academy graduate. Wounded and dying, Watson in the last minutes of his life walked out of the classroom, amidst a barrage of gunfire, and directed law enforcement to the scene, before breathing his last breath. Three American sailors died in that attack.

Saudi 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, the attacker, was a terrorist animal who never should have been allowed in this country. Two other Saudi students watched from a car while Alshamrani executed his attack.

And the broader question is why, as we push toward a Trump drawdown of American forces in the Middle East, do we continue joint exercises with Islamic-nation “allies,” like Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, with a proven inability to vet radicalized jihadist troops from unracialized troops?

If Trump’s “America first” means anything, it must first mean that the life of the lowest American private who spills his blood on foreign soil is more important to this country than the president of Afghanistan,  the King of Saudi Arabia or any other foreign leader who has sought American help, or who State Department bureaucrats might kiss up to for the sake of diplomatic smoke-blowing.

If the Trump foreign policy is to become truly revolutionary, with a true “America First” mantle, then policies must change, in every instance, to make American lives more important than foreign lives, and to protect American blood in every instance.

Trump must change American policy so that these “green on blue” attacks come to a screeching halt.

That means that in Afghanistan, President Trump should order the United States military to disallow armed Afghan soldiers and security forces to be in the presence of U.S. forces.

As shown by the deaths of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi; top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani; Qasim al-Rimi, the founder and leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; and Usama bin Laden himself, the American military is more than capable of striking on its own without the help of inferior foreign Islamic militaries, that are not safely vetted to remove American-killing jihadists from their midst.

For the sake of American lives, the president should put an end to joint U.S. military operations with armed forces of Islamic state allies.

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/terrorist-attacks-allied-troops-middle-east

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US defence chief says Taliban deal is promising but not without risk

February 16, 2020

Ahead of a formal announcement of the seven-day “reduction in violence” deal, Esper said it was time to give peace a chance in Afghanistan through a political negotiation.

He spoke a day after a senior US official said the deal had been concluded and would take effect very soon. Expectations are that agreement will be formally announced on Sunday and that the reduction in violence will begin on Monday, according to people familiar with the plan.

So we have on the table right now a reduction in violence proposal that was negotiated between our ambassador and the Taliban, Esper told an audience at the Munich Security Conference.

“It looks very promising. It’s my view as well that we have to give peace a chance, that the best if not the only way forward in Afghanistan is through a political agreement and that means taking some risk”, he said. “That means enabling our diplomats and that means working together with our partners and allies on the ground to affect such a thing.

Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met on Friday in Munich with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who has been sceptical of the scheme, which, if successful, would see an end to attacks for seven days and then the signing of a US-Taliban peace deal.

All-Afghan peace talks would then begin within 10 days as part of the plan, which envisions the phased withdrawal of US forces over 18 months.

In remarks later to a group of reporters, Esper declined to say whether the US had agreed to cut its troop levels in Afghanistan to zero. He said if the 7-day truce is successful and the next step towards Afghan peace talks begins, the US would reduce its troop contingent over time to about 8,600. There currently are about 12,000 US troops in the country.

Ghani has not yet spoken publicly about the agreement which was finalised last week by US special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar. Esper, however, said Ghani was supportive of the deal and had pledged to do his best to support it.

I think he is fully on board, Esper said of Ghani. He wants to lead his part of the process, which if we get to that would be a peace deal that would involve very soon afterward an inter-Afghan negotiation. He wants to be clearly a full partner in that and wants to lead on that and make sure that all Afghans come together.” Ghani has bickered with his partner in the current Unity Government, Abdullah Abdullah, over who will represent Kabul at the negotiating table. Ghani has insisted he lead the talks, while his political opponents and other prominent Afghans have called for more inclusive representation.

Separately on Saturday, Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg told the security conference that he also supported the plan but stressed that the alliance’s mission in Afghanistan would continue in the short- and medium-term.

We are not leaving Afghanistan but we are prepared to adjust our force level if the Taliban demonstrates the will and the capability to reduce violence and make real compromises that could pave the way for negotiations among Afghans for sustainable peace,” he said.

Stoltenberg later told a small group of reporters that in his own discussion with Ghani on Friday, the Afghan president indicated he supported the idea of talks.

The whole aim, and President Ghani has clearly supported this many times, is that we would like to initiate an inter-Afghan negotiation process, Stoltenberg said. We can support Afghans, we can help them, but we cannot negotiate peace for them. They have to do that themselves, and they want to do it themselves.

He added: We all understand that’s a long way and will be a difficult process, with a lot of uncertainties and possible setbacks and surprises.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1534799/us-defence-chief-says-taliban-deal-is-promising-but-not-without-risk

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Africa

 

Northern Mozambique the new vortex for Islamic extremism

16 FEBRUARY 2020

SHANNON EBRAHIM

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi was noticeably absent from the AU Summit this week as he urgently travelled to Cabo Delgado in the north of his country to address the rapidly deteriorating security situation.

The AU Peace and Security Council also highlighted the urgency this week with commissioner Smail Chergui saying the AU must provide equipment and training to assist the Mozambican government in addressing the militant threat.

Cabo Delgado has been the site of beheadings and kidnappings of villagers, as well as villages being burnt to the ground. The increasing attacks on civilians are by an Islamist extremist group which calls itself al-Shabaab (or “youth” in Arabic). The group is not an offshoot of Somalia’s al-Shabaab, but has links to them.

To date the group has launched about 370 attacks since its first attack on a police station in October 2017. There have been 909 recorded deaths, although this number is predicted to climb exponentially. Human Rights Watch has called on the Southern African Development Community to urgently act against the insurgency that poses a risk to the whole region.

Few understand what is really happening in this impoverished corner of Mozambique, bordering Tanzania. But the combination of Wahhabi and Salafist influence from the Gulf and extremist Sheikhs from Tanzania and Kenya have brought a brand of extremism to northern Mozambique that has been germinating since 2015.

The Institute for Social and Economic Studies at the Eduardo Mondlane University of Mozambique produced an important study in September about the emergence of al-Shabaab, and is based on extensive on-the-ground interviews in northern Mozambique. Religious extremists from neighbouring countries, who have been influenced by Islamist scholars in the Middle East, used marriage as a strategy to entrench themselves in local communities. They married into families in Cabo Delgado, acquired land, and propagated their violent and extremist ideology within local communities.

The extreme poverty of the area and its economic marginalisation has made it ripe for recruitment, especially when schools and services are hard to come by. The state is largely absent from the area, and as al-Shabaab gained in strength and resources, it has even been able to pay its members wages in an environment where there is very little if any formal employment.

Al-Shabaab has attempted to capitalise on this void by setting up madrassas that preach an extreme form of Islam, and offer to feed and provide shelter for local children.

When al-Shabaab takes over an area, people are forced to attend lectures and watch videos of the sermons of the late Islamist extremist Kenyan Sheik Aboud Rogo Mohammed, who masterminded the attacks on the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998. In the al-Shabaab areas, Sharia law is imposed and those who try to escape are killed.

The idea is to isolate al-Shabaab members from the outside world, which is deemed “impure”, and get them to join a “holy call” to create a better world. Al-Shabaab leaders tell locals that their intent is to build a new social and political order, and that they are living in a corrupt world in which the Mozambican government is not to be trusted.

Locals are encouraged to join the international jihad and train for military operations.

The group has also established a dress code to distinguish themselves from the broader community where men have shaven heads and wear white turbans, grow large beards, don black gowns with short trousers, and are armed with knives and machetes to symbolise jihad. Women are forced to wear the burka, and no one is allowed to wear Western clothes. Women and children are often held captive and used as wives or sex slaves.

Civilians are used as human shields when they are confronted by the Mozambican armed forces. The group has even developed its own flag, which is black with white inserts.

Initially, when al-Shabaab emerged in northern Mozambique in 2015, they were inspired by religious leaders in Salafist circles abroad who encouraged them to penetrate local mosques to change the way they interpreted Islam. When this failed, they set up their own mosques.

Al-Shabaab has a supreme council on which sit some foreign combatants and Tanzanian sheikhs. Radical spiritual leaders in Tanzania, Kenya and Somalia have assisted with the religious and even military training of youths in northern Mozambique. At first the group had about 50 agitators, but the number grew to an armed force of more than 300. Today, it is estimated that the group may have as many as 1500 fighters capable of attacking the state.

Most of the youth who have voluntarily joined the ranks of al-Shabaab are uneducated and unemployed, and are often informal traders. The group has offered them an identity and a supposed “purpose in life”, as well as a means to earn a living through some form of wages or a cut in the illicit smuggling trade, which is flourishing in the area.

Al-Shabaab has been generating revenue from donations and the clandestine networks of trafficking in timber, rubies, ivory and coal. The burgeoning heroine trade coming from Afghanistan to the East Coast of Africa before being transported onwards to Asia and Europe is also an opportunity to make large sums of money. Some years ago it was estimated that the group had a turnover of $33million from illicit smuggling, and this must have substantially increased.

The Mozambican army has been largely ineffective in addressing the growing threat, with young and inexperienced recruits being sent into the area. The government response has been criticised. The army shelled a town in 2017 causing the death of 50 civilians. There have been random arrests and closure of mosques, which feed into the anti-government propaganda.

The government has failed to secure the border with Tanzania through which much of the illicit smuggling occurs, and many of the corrupt government officials on the border profit from the illicit trade.

Mozambique has turned to private contractors to protect foreign workers in the area. The government has agreed to pay Lancaster Six Group 80% of the cost of protecting foreign workers in return for an undisclosed percentage of ownership in state gas reserves. Lancaster Six Group is owned by the former Blackwater chief executive, Eric Prince.

The discovery of liquified natural gas (LNG) off the coast of Cabo Delgado in 2010 complicated the situation. Since then there has been a jockeying of foreign multinational companies to exploit the substantial gas deposits touted to be the third largest in the world, after Qatar and Australia.

Currently, global demand for LNG outstrips the supply which is why companies have decided to increase their investments in Mozambique. Italian Eni and the US Anadarko are the principle holders of the Mozambican offshore gas industry. It is estimated that those companies will be able to supply gas to Britain, France, Germany and Italy for the next 20 years.

Gas will be produced from 2022, and the government of Mozambique will start to receive revenue in 2028. But al-Shabaab’s increasing militarism poses a threat to the development of LNG, and Anadarko has already suspended work due to the increase in attacks.

If al-Shabaab were to target the gas pipeline in Mtwara, Tanzania, gas production could be halted altogether. This explains why there is a growing interest on the part of those European countries in stabilising the situation in northern Mozambique, and ensuring that al-Shabaab is neutralised.

The challenge for the AU, and South Africa as chair of the AU this year, is to ensure that Africa drives a process to assist the government of Mozambique in developing an effective counter-terrorism strategy and military capability to deal with the threat posed by al-Shabaab. Such a strategy needs to go well beyond the provision of armaments and military training, but more importantly needs to address the root causes of the crisis.

These root causes are impoverishment, a lack of income-generating activities, and social services. It is the lack of opportunities and hope in these communities that has led to youth joining the ranks of Islamist extremists. Without addressing the socio-economic root causes of this crisis, it will never be resolved in the long term.

https://www.iol.co.za/news/opinion/northern-mozambique-the-new-vortex-for-islamic-extremism-42808564

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Bugiri imam is sixth Muslim cleric to be killed in five years

Umaru Kashaka

15th February 2020

Sheikh Masudi Mutumba, the imam of Lwemba Mosque in Lwemba sub-county in Bugiri, was reportedly gunned down by unknown assailants on a bodaboda motorcycle at his home in Busimba village in Lwemba at around 9 pm, according to James Mubi, the Police spokesperson for Busoga East.

“He was shot by a single bullet targeted to his head and he died instantly. An exhibit (cartridge) of an AK47 rifle was recovered and has been submitted to our forensic experts to establish which gun was used in committing the crime,” he said. 

In November 2016, Sheikh Mohammed Kiggundu, one of the former commanders of Allied Democratic Forces rebels, was killed together with his bodyguard, Sgt. Steven Mukasa at Masanafu, a Kampala suburb. The two were driving to the city in a UPDF pick-up truck at about 7:30 am.

On June 30, 2015, Sheikh Ibrahim Hassan Kirya, the spokesperson of Kibuli-based Muslim faction, was shot dead in Bweyogerere, Wakiso shortly after his Taraweeh (special night prayers) at one of the mosques in Rubaga Division, a Kampala suburb.

A month earlier Sheikh Abdulrashid Wafula, the imam of the Bilal Mosque in Mbale town, was killed at the gate of his home in Kireka village in Nakaloke town council, Mbale district.

On December 28, 2014, Sheikh Mustafa Bahiga, a city preacher, was fatally gunned down at the Bwebajja Mosque on Entebbe road. He was shot five times; three bullets in the left limb, one on the head and another in the stomach as he was going for the last Muslim prayer of the day.

A few days earlier Sheikh Abdul Kadir Muwaya, the Shiite leader who was popularly known as Dakhtur, was shot dead on Christmas Day at his home in Mayuge district at around 9:30pm.

https://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1515039/bugiri-imam-sixth-muslim-cleric-killed

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Tunisian Islamist party says will not to grant confidence to new government

16-Feb-2020

Tunisia's Islamist party Ennahdha announced on Saturday that it will not grant confidence to the new government of Prime Minister-designate Elyes Fakhfakh.

The announcement was made a few hours ahead of the official unveiling of the new government.

"Ennahdha will not give confidence to this government," said Abdelkarim Harouni, Ennahdha's consultative assembly chairman, at a press briefing.

"This decision was taken following the non-satisfaction of our request to form a government of national unity," he added.

Ennahdha, which has a majority of 54 seats in parliament, rejects Fakhfakh's exclusion of the Heart of Tunisia party, which has 38 seats, from his new government's lineup.

In order to gain the confidence of parliament, the proposed government needs at least the votes of 109 out of 217 deputies.

https://newsaf.cgtn.com/news/2020-02-16/Tunisian-Islamist-party-says-not-to-grant-confidence-to-new-government-O7eHyMdVmM/index.html

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Performance of Islamic banking in Morocco is below expectations

Sunday 16/02/2020

RABAT - Financial data indicate that, two years after being authorised in Morocco, Islamic banks have not met the objectives of the government for the very competitive banking sector, leading to a new plan for the banks’ operation.

Nabil Badr, deputy director of Banking Supervision at Morocco’s central bank, told parliamentarians that the total amount of financing for Islamic banks was approximately $258 million. He said that the issuance of sukuk — Islamic bonds — by the banks would have a role in enhancing their ability to affect financial matters but to what extent depends on regulations related to the sukuk.

Officials said Islamic banks’ returns in Morocco have been counterproductive, their activities minimal and they have not received much approval from Moroccans.

Islamic banking in Morocco began with Assafa Bank and Umniah Bank with branches in several Moroccan cities. They were joined by Al-Yusr Bank, the Finance and Development Bank and Al-Akhdar Bank, in addition to an Islamic bond window last year.

Since the start of the experiment, experts warned of shortcomings, including overlapping functions of Islamic banks in transactions that include “advance payments” in addition to the high price of Islamic banking services compared with traditional commercial banks.

Competing banks provide continuous facilities, which made them more popular and efficient among customers, in contrast to the limited incentives and poorer services in Islamic banks.

To cope with the competition, Islamic banks added employees, whose numbers have jumped from 30 at the start to 519. However, that was not enough to draw customers, presumably because not many Moroccans were familiar with Islamic financing mechanisms or participatory banking, as it is locally known.

Until last June, financing through the Islamic banks was estimated at about $620 million, an increase of about 25% over the previous year.

Badr acknowledged that the development of Islamic banks requires time, as well as greater public awareness of Islamic financial services and the banks offering a better range of products.

Despite the sector’s weak performance, Badr said he remained optimistic that Islamic banking in Morocco would eventually succeed, pointing out that similar banks in countries with a long experience in Islamic financing took decades to reap significant revenues, “which means that their development in Morocco is going to be gradual as well.”

“Customer expectations far exceed the capabilities of the newly emerging Islamic banks in the country due to several considerations,” said Abdulsamad Issami, director of Umniah Bank.

He listed obstacles Islamic banks have encountered, including “the French-inspired legislation in Morocco, plus the taxes and fees that Islamic banks in the Gulf countries do not face.” Also, traditional Moroccan banks tend to provide a sophisticated set of services that Islamic banks cannot offer.

Mohamed Karrat, professor of Islamic jurisprudence of financial transactions at the Faculty of Sharia in Fez, considered that Islamic banks need to step out of their traditional role and be more open to other services, such as financing educational institutions or financing health care such as surgeries or issuing sukuk as an alternative to conventional bonds.

Badr pointed out that it was not possible to compare Morocco’s experience in Islamic banking to that of other countries. He said some countries allowed Islamic banks to offer products not permitted in Morocco, such as tawarruq transactions, which consist in lending the funds needed for the purchase of an asset whose value is equivalent to the amount borrowed, then the customer resells the asset for a profit in exchange for paying back the value of the loan.

Badr insisted that Morocco’s experience regarding the compatibility of Islamic banking with Islamic principles was ahead of other experiences because Morocco has benefited from them and worked to avoid shortcomings.

Karrat pointed out that the Moroccan experience is characterised by its reliance on a gradual policy to better absorb Islamic finance because there are aspects that require years to implement.

He stressed the need to increase the size of the committee in charge of Islamic finance at the Bank Al-Maghrib, Morocco’s central bank, and relieve committee members of other duties so they can focus on the sector.

Despite its short life and small scope, the Moroccan experience in Islamic finance has become a reference for other countries, Badr said. Central Bank of Algeria officials have met with Moroccan central bank officials to get acquainted with the regulatory and legislative framework regulating Islamic banks even though Algeria adopted Islamic banking before Morocco.

https://thearabweekly.com/performance-islamic-banking-morocco-below-expectations

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More than 6,000 bodies found in Burundi mass graves

16-02-2020

Authorities in Burundi have announced the discovery of more than 6,000 bodies in six mass graves.

The findings in Karusi province are the largest since the government launched a nationwide excavation in January.

Pierre Claver Ndayicariye, chairman of the country's truth and reconciliation commission, told journalists on Friday that the remains of 6,032 victims, as well as thousands of bullets, were recovered. Clothes, glasses and rosaries were used to identify some of the victims.

Referring to a 1972 massacre which is believed to have targeted people from the Hutu ethnic group, Ndayicariye said families of the victims were able to "break the silence" that was imposed 48 years ago.

The country has suffered colonial occupation, civil war and decades of intermittent massacres.

The government-run commission was set up in 2014 to investigate atrocities from 1885, when foreigners arrived in Burundi, until 2008, when a stalled peace deal to end the civil war was fully implemented.

So far it has mapped over 4,000 mass graves across the country and identified more than 142,000 victims of violence.

Burundi's population is divided between the Tutsi and Hutu ethnic groups. Its civil war, which killed 300,000 people before it ended in 2005, had ethnic overtones.

The commission's mandate does not cover most of the rule of current President Pierre Nkurunziza, who took office in 2005.

In 2015, Nkurunziza's campaign for a third term plunged the country into violence and led to an enduring political crisis.

In 2018, he surprised observers when he announced he would not seek another term in office, despite a new constitution adopted by referendum allowing him to do so.

The United Nations has warned that human rights abuses may increase again before elections scheduled for May.

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Australia

 

Police raids as families of Islamic State still stuck in freezing Syrian camp

February 15, 2020

By Anthony Galloway 

Police have raided homes in Sydney and Melbourne in an attempt to gather evidence against some of the 67 family members of Islamic State fighters living in a Syrian refugee camp.

The Australian Federal Police has stepped up investigations into the Australians trapped in the al-Hawl camp amid concerns some of them may try to flee and make their way home as conditions deteriorate in the camp.

The AFP raided properties in Melbourne on January 30, and in Sydney on February 5, which federal government sources confirmed were connected to its investigation into the wives of slain or imprisoned Australian Islamic State fighters.

The government insists it has no plans to rescue the Australians because the conditions in Syria are too dangerous and many of the women and families pose an ongoing security risk. But security agencies are preparing for the possibility that some or all of the 20 women and 47 children might find their way home.

This could involve paying people smugglers to get them out of northern Syria and to an Australian embassy, according to government sources. The government is also alive to the possibility of Kurdish authorities closing the camp if the security situation in northern Syria deteriorates even further in coming months.

The situation is complicated by the varying security concerns posed by the women and families in the camp, with security agencies needing to assess every individual on a case-by-case basis. The government has already stripped the Australian citizenship of 17 dual nationals, including men and women, on the recommendation of the Citizenship Loss Board.

A spokesman for the Australian Federal Police confirmed it had conducted operations in Melbourne and Sydney and said there was no current or impending threat to the community.

“As these matters relate to ongoing investigations, no additional information will be provided at this time,” the AFP spokesman said.

Meanwhile in the camp, conditions are deteriorating with snow, freezing rain and the night-time temperature falling to minus eight degrees in recent weeks. The Kurdish authorities who control the region are also growing impatient as the security situation in north-eastern Syria becomes increasingly chaotic.

Kurdish authorities are making preparations to start from next month putting perhaps 1000 foreign fighters - including 10 Australians - on trial in Syria because western governments are refusing to take them home.

Kurdish foreign relations chief Abdulkarim Omar said last week the foreigners, including women and children, were “a huge problem on the international level and we cannot solve it on our own”. There was “an urgent need for a solution” to the issue and the autonomous region wanted “to pressure states to receive their nationals”.

The Syrian Kurds are planning to send an unknown number of Iraqis over the border to be tried there in a legal system that was strongly criticised by a recent United Nations report. Meanwhile US troops were shot at on Wednesday night, and armies or militia from Russia, Turkey, Syria, the Kurdish region and Iran are all active and contesting territory in the country’s north-east.

Some activists are pushing for an option of a safe place for the Australians somewhere in the Middle East to act as a “holding pattern” in the event of people escaping or being released from the camp and trying to make their way to Australia. The government has said it would deal with Australians if they could make it to any of the regional embassies, but there are no active plans underway to create a holding location.

“When I took him to the hospital they only gave me one paracetamol tablet and nothing else,” said the boy’s mother in a message to family in Australia. “I found from [other women] some gauze wraps and stuff to use, but it’s finished now … Don’t think so good of the world.”

Videos and photographs obtained by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald show tents battered by heavy rain and undermined by floods, with children shivering in the snow.

According to Australian documentary filmmaker Giselle Hall, who has been a regular visitor to the camp in recent months, “many tents have flooded, torn and collapsed with the strong winds and heavy rain, often in the middle of the night.

“Aid agencies provide kerosene heaters, but distribution of kerosene is sometimes delayed by security concerns, leaving families without any way to heat their tents,” Ms Hall said.

“Many of the women and children are afraid of the kerosene heaters, which have set tents alight, but feel they have no other choice but to use them in the freezing temperatures …

"Violence is rife and often carried out by the women living in the camp, with weapons such as kitchen knives and hammers. Guards have been attacked and killed. Men, women and children living in the camp have also been brutally murdered.”

While there are no plans to extract any of the women and children in the camp, the Australian government has been making contingency plans in the event they take matters into their own hands. This includes building cases against women who security agencies believe could remain an ongoing threat. There are concerns within security agencies that many of the children have been radicalised after years in Syria.

Criminologist Clarke Jones, a senior research fellow at the Australian National University, is working with Muslim communities in Sydney and Melbourne to try to prepare the ground for any possible returns. He said it might be difficult for the police to prosecute the returning women because, for some, “it’s a difficult proposition to say the women have broken the law”.

“Some went under duress, some were tricked, some were children when they went - there are different stories, so ... trying to prove that they've been involved in violence, support of terrorism or militancy is going to be a really difficult one.”

On the other hand, their reality has been trauma, abuse, including sexual abuse, and insecurity, “not to mention how unstable they would be around relationships - their husbands have been killed, then they have remarried two or three times”.

Australian Maysa Assaad, 9, holding Shayma Assaadâ's daughter Mariam (2nd from left) in al Hawl camp.

Among the children, some might have been radicalised and, “the older they are the higher risk they would be,” Dr Jones said. All the children, though, would need treatment for trauma, and strong social support, “being normalised as soon as possible, including going back to school”.

Dr Jones says the government’s engagement with the families in Australia had been non-existent.

“There's no one consulting the people on the cultural, religious aspects of bringing these people home,” Dr Jones said. “That concerns me - the lack of consultation, the lack of communication with the people who they need to be in touch with.”

Mat Tinkler, the Director of Policy and International Programs at Save The Children agreed there had been limited contingency planning, adding that, “if the government was serious about it they’d work with the families now to co-design deradicalisation and community reintegration programs”.

Kamalle Dabboussy, the community advocate and father who has been working to have his daughter,  Mariam, grandchildren and other Australians released from the camp, is increasingly frustrated at the government’s approach.

“The women have all agreed to be subject to control orders if they return, and the government has not accepted that offer. Instead, all we’ve got is police raids. That, in my view, is a heavy-handed response.

“They're saying that if the women can get themselves and their children to an embassy then we'll help them,” Dabboussy says. “They are saying we'll support them if they get out illegally, but we won't help them get out legally. To me, that is astounding.”

Ingy Sedky, spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Syria, says the harsh weather conditions are adding more strains to the already vulnerable conditions of the people in the camp, exposing them to additional health risks.

She says the ICRC has a field hospital in the camp which has treated over 6600 wounded and sick people since opening in June last year, but the situation is “unsustainable and medical needs remain huge”.

“Tents are sometimes damaged due to heavy rains. Food supply, blankets and mattresses are flooded,” she says. “In some cases, two families are forced to squeeze under the same tent to escape the flooding.”

https://www.smh.com.au/national/police-raids-as-families-of-islamic-state-still-stuck-in-freezing-syrian-camp-20200214-p540zp.html

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Framers Of Constitution Rejected Notion Of Hindu India And Muslim India: Supreme Court Justice Chandrachud

Feb 15, 2020

Amid ongoing protests against CAA-NRC-NPR and accusations of high-handedness in some states, Supreme Court judge Justice DY Chandrachud on Saturday said "blanket labelling" of dissent as anti-national or anti-democratic strikes at the "heart" of the country's commitment to protect Constitutional values and promote deliberative democracy.

calling dissent a "safety valve" of democracy, Justice Chandrachud said the use of state machinery to curb dissent instils fear, which violates the rule of law.

"The blanket labelling of dissent as anti-national or anti-democratic strikes at the heart of our commitment to protect constitutional values and the promotion of deliberative democracy," he said as he delivered a lecture in Gujarat.

Protecting dissent is but a reminder that while a democratic elected government offers us a legitimate tool for development and social coordination, they can never claim a monopoly over the values and identities that define our plural society, Justice Chandrachud said.

He was speaking on the topic "The Hues That Make India: From Plurality to Pluralism," as part of the 15th Justice PD Desai Memorial Lecture organised.

"Employment of state machinery to curb dissent instils fear and creates a chilling atmosphere on free peace which violates the rule of law and distracts from the constitutional vision of pluralist society," he added.

His comments came amid ongoing protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR). Massive protests have emerged across the country with BJP-ruled states cracking down hard against the protesters.

"The destruction of spaces for questioning and dissent destroys the basis of all growth--political, economic, cultural and social. In this sense, dissent is a safety valve of democracy," he said.

Justice Chandrachud also stated that silencing of dissent and the generation of fear in the minds of people go beyond the violation of personal liberties and a commitment to constitutional value.

Notably, Justice Chandrachud was part of a bench that had in January sought response of the Uttar Pradesh government on a plea seeking quashing of notices sent to alleged protesters by the district administration for recovering losses caused by damage to public properties during anti-CAA agitations in the state.

"The attack on dissent strikes at the heart of a dialogue-based democratic society and hence, a state is required to ensure that it deploys its machinery to protect the freedom of speech and expression within the bounds of law, and dismantle any attempt to instil fear or curb free speech," he opined.

Commitment to the protection of deliberative dialogue is an essential aspect of every democracy, particularly a successful one, Justice Chandrachud said.

He added, "A democracy welded to the ideal of reason and deliberation ensures that minority opinions are not strangulated and ensures that every outcome is not a result merely of numbers but of a shared consensus".

Justice Chandrachud said the "true test" of a democracy is its ability to ensure the creation and protection of spaces where every individual can voice their opinion without the fear of retribution.

"Inherent in the liberal promise of the Constitution is a commitment to a plurality of opinion. A legitimate government committed to deliberate dialogue does not seek to restrict political contestation but welcomes it," he further said.

Justice Chandrachud also underlined the importance of mutual respect and protection of space for divergent opinions.

"Taking democracy seriously requires us to respond respectfully to the intelligence of others and to participate vigorously, but as an equal in determining how we should live together," the supreme court judge said.

Democracy is judged not just by the institutions that formally exist but by the extent to which different voices from diverse sections of the people can actually be heard, respected and accounted for, he said.

According to Justice Chandrachud, the "great threat to pluralism" is the suppression of differences and silencing of popular and unpopular voices offering an alternative or opposing views.

The supreme court judge further said the country was conceptualised"as incorporating its vast diversity and not eliminating it".

"National unity denotes shared cultural values and a commitment to the fundamental ideal of Constitution in which all individuals are guaranteed not just fundamental rights but also the conditions for their free and safe exercise," he said.

He said the country'spluralism underlines a commitment to protect "the very idea of India as a refuge to people of various states, races, languages and beliefs".

"In providing spaces to a multitude of culture and free space to diversity and dissent, we reaffirm to our commitment to the idea that the making of our nation is a continuous process of deliberation and belongs to every individual," he said.

Justice Chandrachud also referred to a "positive obligation" for protecting a plural identity.

"The framers of the Constitution rejected the notion of a Hindu India and a Muslim India. They recognised only the Republic of India," he said.

Justice Chandrachud also said the framers put trust on the future generations to create a common bond of what it means to be an Indian, which "shunned homogeneity and celebrated diversity in what is meant to be an Indian".

He compared the "layered Indian identity" to Matryoshka dolls, and said this is what makes us Indian "and must be central to our understanding of pluralism and efforts to foster it.

"Homogeneity is not the defining feature of Indianness. Our differences are not our weakness. Our ability to transcend these difference in our recognition of our shared humanity is a source of our strength.

"India is a sub continent of diversity in itself. Pluralism has already achieved its greatest triumph -- the existence of India. The nation's continued survival shows us that our desire for a shared pursuit of happiness outweighs the difference in the colour of our skin, the languages we speak, or the name we give the almighty," he added.

https://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-framers-of-constitution-rejected-notion-of-hindu-india-and-muslim-india-justice-chandrachud-2813887

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Leader of the Islamic Revolution: Need to Promote Islamic Lifestyle

February 15, 2020

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei called on Iranian eulogists to redirect people’s lifestyle toward Islamic ways by promoting the lifestyle of eminent Muslim personalities.

Speaking to a group of eulogists on Saturday, the Leader stressed that the main responsibility of those who narrate events related to Islamic figures is to disseminate religious teachings among the people, especially the youth.

"The only way to return the public lifestyle to its correct and Islamic path against the enemies' cultural invasion is by fostering such a culture, and eulogists are very influential in helping accomplish such an important task," he said, leader.ir reported.

Ayatollah Khamenei noted that national solidarity, helpfulness and a heroic spirit of resistance and awareness is among the primary features of an Islamic lifestyle.

“Not fearing the enemies and relying on God ares also another precious religious teaching that should be incorporated in Iranian people's lives,” he added.

It is also important, according to the Leader, to ensure the youth's strong mental and spiritual power, as it is among the tools of soft war and is a major need for the country today when western media try to convince Iranian people to surrender to the United States.

"The Iranian nation's endurance against the pressure of America that has amazed the world is thanks to these [Islamic] teachings," he said.

https://financialtribune.com/articles/national/102168/need-to-promote-islamic-lifestyle

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Seize the moment and end misery of over 40 years of war, Khalilzad urges Afghans

16 Feb 2020

The U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad urged the Afghans to seize the moment and end the misery of over 40 years of war.

Khalilzad made the remarks in an online statement following his meeting with President Mohammad Ashraf on the sidelines of Munich Security Conference.

He was apparently pointing towards the recent agreement with the Taliban group regarding a seven-day long reduction in violence in Afghanistan.

“Good to meet with Pres @AshrafGhani again today in #Munich. We spoke about the opportunity of this reduction in violence & the imperative of preparing for an inclusive #AfghanPeaceProcess. We urge all Afghans to seize the moment & end the misery of more than four decades of war,” Khalilzad said in a Twitter post.

The Afghan and American officials had earlier said the U.S. President Donald Trump has conditionally approved the peace deal with the Taliban group.

The officials further added that Taliban group will have to prove its commitment over a test period of about seven days later this month in a bid to pave the way for the signing of the deal.

Meanwhile, reports suggest that Washington is expected to sign a peace deal with the Taliban group on 29th of February, provided that the group uphold their commitments regarding a seven-day reduction in violence.

https://www.khaama.com/seize-the-moment-and-end-misery-of-over-40-years-of-war-khalilzad-urges-afghans-04456/

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Marawi City Shari’a District Court Judge, Wife Scolded By SC For Unauthorized Mecca Pilgrimage

Asangan T. Madale

February 16, 2020

MARAWI CITY: The Supreme Court (SC) has reprimanded Marawi City Shari’a District Court Judge Rasad Laguindab and his wife Samia Usman, a court interpreter for the Malabang, Lanao del Sur Shari’a Judicial District, for going on a pilgrimage to Mecca without an approved travel authority. In a recent resolution, the Supreme Court First Division held Laguindab and Usman administratively liable for violation of an Office of Court Administrator (OCA) circular. The spouses had applied for a vacation leave from May 20 to June 6, 2019 to perform Umrah rites. They had filed their application only three days before their scheduled travel, citing busy schedules. Laguindab and Usman said they expected that the OCA would send their travel authority after they left for Mecca, just like it did before. But the OCA’s Employee’s Leave Division did not process the application at all, as Item 2 of the circular said requests not submitted at least 10 days before the travel “shall not be entertained.” The high court, however, said considering that this was both Laguindab and Usman’s first offense in their 20 years of service, the penalty of reprimand would suffice.

https://www.manilatimes.net/2020/02/16/news/regions/sharia-judge-wife-scolded-by-sc-for-unauthorized-mecca-pilgrimage/686245/

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Saudi newspaper slams Muslim Brotherhood as ‘Nazis’

FEBRUARY 15, 2020

By KHALED ABU TOAMEH

Haj Amin Husseini, who was appointed by the British High Commissioner as Mufti of Jerusalem during the British Mandate for Palestine, was the link for managing the recruitment of Arab fighters to the Nazi army, the Saudi newspaper Okaz reported in an article published on Friday.

Titled “The Nazi Ikhawn (Brothers),” the article refers to the close connections between the Muslim Brotherhood leaders and the Nazis.

Saudi Arabia formally designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization in 2014 and banned it in the kingdom.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Hamas, an offshoot of Muslim Brotherhood, have been strained in the past few years. Last year Hamas accused the Saudi authorities of arresting several of its prominent figures and members in the kingdom.

“Husseini, who was the representative of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine, contributed with his friend and leader Hassan al-Banna, the founder of Muslim Brotherhood, to recruiting a Muslim Brotherhood army of Egyptians and Arabs, gathered from orphanages and poor rural areas, to work under the Nazi army led by Adolf Hitler,” the newspaper said in an article written by its assistant editor-in-chief, Khalid Tashkandi.

According to Tashkandi, the number of Arabs recruited by Husseini and Muslim Brotherhood was estimated at 55,000, including 15,000 Egyptians.

The Saudi editor said there were a number of reasons why the Nazis were interested in Islam. “On the one hand, the Nazis were aware that the oppression of Muslims in a number of Islamic areas under occupation and colonial powers would facilitate the recruitment,” he said. “On the other hand, the Nazis saw the Muslims as stiff fighters ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of their faith.”

According to the editor, the Nazis launched a propaganda campaign in 1941 that promoted Nazism as a protector of Islam, “and the leaders of the Nazi army distributed educational pamphlets on Islam to German soldiers.”

Tashkandi said he has concluded that Hitler’s statements and views show that he was interested in rapprochement with the Islamic world in order to serve his political and military goals, chief among which was pitting Muslims against his enemies.

Michael Milshtein, Head of the Palestinian Studies forum – Dayan Center – at Tel Aviv University, said the “harsh article in the Saudi newspaper reflects the deep political and ideological tensions between Saudi Arabia and Hamas.”

Milshtein told The Jerusalem Post that Hamas’s close relations with Qatar, “considered by the Saudis as an arch-enemy,” was another reason behind the tensions between Saudi Arabia and Hamas.

He pointed out that the Saudis were also “very angry” with Hamas because of its strong ties with Iran.

“Hamas, for its part is angry with [Crown Prince] Mohammed bin Salman because of his alleged normalization [with Israel] and fear that he’s supporting US President Donald Trump’s recently unveiled plan for peace in the Middle East,” Milshtein said.

https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Saudi-newspaper-slams-Muslim-Brotherhood-as-Nazis-617703

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US Officials Question Detroit-Area Imam Who Mourned SoleimaniUS Officials Question Detroit-Area Imam Who Mourned Soleimani

by John Rossomando

Weeks after he criticized a US drone strike that killed Iran’s top terror mastermind, US Customs officials questioned a Detroit-area imam about his support for the Iranian regime.

Mohamed Ali Elahi described the February 6 encounter, which took place as he got off a flight from Seoul, South Korea at Detroit’s Metropolitan Airport, on his Facebook page.

Hezbollah supporters chant slogans during a mourning rally for Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, in the suburbs of the Lebanese capital of Beirut, Jan. 5, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Aziz Taher.

Weeks after he criticized a US drone strike that killed Iran’s top terror mastermind, US Customs officials questioned a Detroit-area imam about his support for the Iranian regime.

Mohamed Ali Elahi described the February 6 encounter, which took place as he got off a flight from Seoul, South Korea at Detroit’s Metropolitan Airport, on his Facebook page.

Approximately 10 officers greeted him, with two asking him to be questioned and have his phone searched.

“I was not told what they were looking for, while checking my cellphone which carries my thousands of emails, WhatsApp, Telegram, Twitter, and text messages, but if the purpose was to scan all the information, it would take more than ten minutes!” Elahi wrote. “One of the officers was interested to know my opinion on killing of General [Qassem] Sol[e]imani in Iraq, something I had already explained in my public letter to the president following the assassination!”

“You may see Soleimani as a terrorist but now tens of millions of Iraqis and Iranians marching behind his coffin are honoring him as a charismatic leader, and collectively condemning your action and they categorize it as act of terrorism. So, I can see a lot that you lost out of this killing and wonder if you accomplished anything!” Elahi wrote.

Elahi condemned Soleimani’s killing during a press conference held last month at his mosque, the Islamic House of Wisdom.

He said he is a naturalized US citizen and has lived here for almost 30 years, arriving in the US in 1991.

Before coming to America, Elahi ran the Iranian Navy’s Head Political Ideological Bureau, a 1986 CIA report said. The late Ayatollah Khomeini appointed Elahi to that position in 1982, and he served in that post for five years.

The bureau was responsible for indoctrinating Iranian sailors to hate America and for enforcing Islamic norms. Before the revolution, many Iranian navy personnel trained in the United States and had positive feelings about America. Elahi’s bureau reported to Khomeini’s central staff, a 1987 Rand Corporation report noted, and was responsible for implementing the ayatollah’s directives. This office was reportedly tasked with spying on naval personnel and rooting out dissenters.

Stories over the years in The Detroit Free Press and other local Detroit news outlets glossed over Elahi’s work in the Iranian navy, saying he “taught religious classes in Iran’s Navy.” Elahi’s official biography on the Islamic House of Wisdom’s website also minimizes his role, saying, “Imam Elahi was appointed as an Islamic ethics teacher at the Iranian Naval Academy.”

Despite that history, and his open expression of grief over Soleimani’s death, Elahi expressed surprise that he drew law enforcement scrutiny:

“Is this how a faith servant, an ambassador of peace, a promoter of dialogue, a person whose life is dedicated to modesty, moderation, and call against extremism, terrorism and injustice, treated after 12 hours of flight and a week of restless outreach and hard work?”

Customs and Border Protection officers asked Elahi about references on his mosque’s website to the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. A 2014 post describes a celebration of the 35th anniversary of the revolution that brought the ayatollah to power. Elahi praised Ayatollah Khomeini as “an exceptional religious authority who combined religion and reason, morality and modernization, purification and civilization,” the post said.

A 2010 post shows that the Islamic House of Wisdom held memorial prayers to commemorate the anniversary of Khomeini’s 1989 death and to condemn Israel’s “criminal attack on the Gaza Aid Flotilla.”

A 2013 post includes a biography of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and recommends his writings.

Elahi also met with Hezbollah spiritual adviser Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, and in 2010 mourned the leader of Iran’s top terrorist proxy as a “great scholar.” Fadlallah advocated suicide bombings in the 1980s during the Lebanese civil war.

Elahi has continued to have contact with high-level Iranian officials while working as an imam in Dearborn. Elahi has denied being an Iranian agent.

“When I took the American citizenship and took the vows associated with loyalty to this country, I meant it. So I’m not [an] ambassador of Iran or any other country,” Elahi told CBN News in 2006.

During a March 2017 trip to Iran, Elahi met with former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami. Elahi also met with current President Hassan Rouhani in 2014 as part of a delegation of American Muslim leaders. He met Rouhani’s predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his 2010 visit to the US in a similar setting with American Muslim leaders in New York.

He hasn’t left Iranian regime propaganda far behind either, appearing on its Press TV propaganda channel numerous times.

The Department of Homeland Security should re-examine Elahi’s naturalization, Daniel Pipes, founder and president of the Middle East Forum, told the Investigative Project on Terrorism. Any lingering ties he might have with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or Iranian intelligence should be investigated.

“The naturalization of Elahi ranks with allowing the Blind Sheikh [Omar Abdel-Rahman] into the United States — legacies of the lax era before 9/11 when the US authorities did not take Islamism seriously. Better to review late than never the mistakes from back then,” Pipes said.

https://www.algemeiner.com/2020/02/16/us-officials-question-detroit-area-imam-who-mourned-soleimani/

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Pakistan, Turkey pondering over joint projects for promotion of Islamic heritage: Firdous

FEBRUARY 16, 2020

Special Assistant on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan on Saturday said that Pakistan and Turkey have been pondering over several joint projects for the promotion and preservation of Islamic architecture and heritage. In a series of tweets, she said exhibitions and workshops would be conducted to promote cultural heritage and calligraphy. The special assistant termed the MoUs between the state media of Pakistan and Turkey as a welcome and positive step. She said these MoUs would enable both the countries to screen each other’ s dramas and promote the cause of Muslim Ummah. Awan said both the countries have also agreed to enhance cooperation in the field of cinema which will help us revive and promote our industry.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/558682/pakistan-turkey-pondering-over-joint-projects-for-promotion-of-islamic-heritage-firdous/

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Trump’s invisible wall is not just for Muslims

Sunday 16/02/2020

Rashmee Roshan Lall

The battle to replace Donald Trump in the White House got properly under way with the Democratic Party primary election in New Hampshire, so it’s worth examining the state of Trump’s signature campaign promise from 2016: the wall.

Well, the wall is up — virtually — and is taking over many more aspects of American public discourse than originally proposed. Illegal immigration through the US-Mexico border, Trump’s alleged justification for building a wall, continues to fall.

However, the US president continues to throw up bureaucratic barriers even to legal entry and immigration. The number of refugee admissions to the United States fell to the lowest level on record last year, fewer foreign students and tourists were going to the United States and fewer green cards were being issued, the US State Department said.

By some estimates, Trump’s vow to bar all Muslims from entering the United States has taken effect in the past two years in the form of varying levels of travel and immigration restrictions on an estimated 7% of the world’s population. More than 135 million people in seven, mainly Muslim countries have been affected.

The Migration Policy Institute, a Washington think-tank, said the number of permanent visas given every month in 2017-18 to nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen fell 72%.

In the first week of February, Trump extended travel and immigration restrictions to another six countries. As of February 22, people from Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Eritrea, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania will no longer be able to permanently migrate to the United States but are allowed short-term travel.

This, too, is a “Muslim ban” of sorts. Except for Myanmar, where Muslims account for 4% of the population, Muslims are more than one-quarter of the population of the countries newly targeted by Trump. Tanzania, for instance, is 30% Muslim and Kyrgyzstan is 86%.

A pattern is emerging from Trump’s travel and immigration restrictions. The target countries either have dark-skinned people or large numbers of Muslims or both. As US Senator Kamala Harris, a Democrat from California, recently posted on Twitter: “Trump’s travel bans have never been rooted in national security — they’re about discriminating against people of colour. They are, without a doubt, rooted in anti-immigrant, white supremacist ideologies.”

Admittedly, the Trump administration’s overall policy betrays a broader hostility to any category of foreigner — legal, illegal or asylum-seeker — seeking to enter the United States but the original targets — Muslims — have been distinct and symbolic and they have always been the foundation of the virtual border wall.

On that foundation have been laid the bricks that constitute the virtual wall. The bricks are a steady stream of administrative decisions. There are orders to bar entry to the United States for certain groups of people from certain countries. There are orders to reduce the annual quota of refugees that America is willing to take.

The administration has made it practically impossible for asylum claims at the US border to have any chance of successful resolution. Brick by brick, the impediments Trump has placed to entry into the United States have had the cumulative effect of an impenetrable if invisible wall.

It is more consequential than the nearly 200km of physical border wall completed by the Trump administration. The virtual barrier will serve as a greater deterrent than the 130km of wall that Trump’s new budget proposal for this fiscal year says he wants to build. And, were Trump to be re-elected in November, it’s almost irrelevant that he finish the full 725km of barriers planned by 2021. The virtual wall would be the more important and the greater deterrent to travel to the United States by Muslims and dark-skinned people.

That’s partly because Trump’s virtual wall suggests to those who live and work in its boundaries a deep and abiding sense of security. It is a false sense, premised on the assumption that the American people are either too stupid or too lazy to notice that their problems do not arise from Muslim and dark-skinned migrants. It is meant to disguise the painful reality that the gains of US economic growth are unevenly distributed, that Trump as president has only aggravated income inequality with his 2017 tax law and that a strong safety net and affordable healthcare remain a distant dream in the world’s richest country.

In their 2016 book, “Framing Immigrants: News Coverage, Public Opinion and Policy,” Chris Haynes, Jennifer Merolla and Karthick Ramakrishnan explored the discourse about immigration in the United States.

They said attitudes towards immigration change when the economy is faring badly or when politicians bring up the issue. Ramakrishnan suggested the politicians are the more influential. By Trump’s own, somewhat disingenuous, account, the US economy is doing very well. So the focus on immigration is clearly based on a darker vision of foreigners as criminals, competitors and a burden on the American state.

The virtual wall takes the United States back to a century ago, when being white was key to acquiring US citizenship and there were barriers to immigration for all but Caucasians and Western Europeans. In the 21st century, though, it merely highlights the growing dissonance between Trump’s America and the country’s founding ideals.

https://thearabweekly.com/trumps-invisible-wall-not-just-muslims

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Tunisian Islamist party says will not to grant confidence to new government

16-Feb-2020

Tunisia's Islamist party Ennahdha announced on Saturday that it will not grant confidence to the new government of Prime Minister-designate Elyes Fakhfakh.

The announcement was made a few hours ahead of the official unveiling of the new government.

"Ennahdha will not give confidence to this government," said Abdelkarim Harouni, Ennahdha's consultative assembly chairman, at a press briefing.

"This decision was taken following the non-satisfaction of our request to form a government of national unity," he added.

Ennahdha, which has a majority of 54 seats in parliament, rejects Fakhfakh's exclusion of the Heart of Tunisia party, which has 38 seats, from his new government's lineup.

In order to gain the confidence of parliament, the proposed government needs at least the votes of 109 out of 217 deputies.

https://newsaf.cgtn.com/news/2020-02-16/Tunisian-Islamist-party-says-not-to-grant-confidence-to-new-government-O7eHyMdVmM/index.html

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India

TN Muslim organisations protest police lathicharge in Chennai

February 15, 2020

As part of the protest, shops owned by Muslims downed shutters, even as Muslims organisations, led by Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, planned to take out a procession to the Collectorate in Udhagamandalam in Nilgiris district, the police said.

As the procession reached the bus stand, police prevented them from proceeding further. Nearly 400 activists raised slogans and staged a protest condemning the police action on anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) protestors in Chennai on Friday.

A similar demonstration was held in Coonoor in the Nilgiris district where they announced to intensify the agitation, they said. Meanwhile, over 700 members, including women, belonging to various Muslim organisations squatted in the middle of the road near the Collectorate in Tirupur.

Led by Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamaath, the activists raised slogans against the police and demanded the state government to take action against the police officials involved in the lathicharge.

https://www.oneindia.com/india/tn-muslim-organisations-protest-police-lathicharge-in-chennai-3034111.html

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Anti-CAA agitation: CPM once again extends a hand to the Muslim League

FEBRUARY 16, 2020

Thiruvananthapuram: It looks like the CPM is determined to drive a wedge between the Congress and the

Muslim League on the issue of a joint struggle against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). After some

vacillation, the League had unequivocally stated it was not for a joint agitation with the CPM. The CPM is not

ready to leave it at that.

The party's State Committee, which had met during the last two days, has decided to exhort cadres to

constantly be in touch with “non-Left leaning” individuals who were part of the CPM's 'human chain' on

January 26 and make them participate in the various anti-CAA protests to be held across the State on March

23 to mark Bhagat Singh's martyrdom. “We want the March 23 protests to take forward the unity that we

could forge on January 26,” CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan told reporters after the State

Committee meeting here on Sunday.

Non-'Left leaning' is euphemism for Muslim League. “Minorities had taken part in the human chain in a big

way,” said Kodiyeri, making his rst public appearance after a long absence for treatment. “Truth is, even

people from other non-Left parties had also participated,” he added.

Even top League leaders had admitted that some of its cadres may have participated in the CPM's 'human

chain' on January 26. However, the presence of League's Beypore Mandalam vice president K M Basheer, and

his subsequent unapologetic comments, had stung the League. Basheer was promptly suspended. Eventually,

the League concluded that it was politically unwise to take part in protests organised by the CPM.

But after the State Committee meeting, the CPM state secretary said the doors were still open. “Except for

the Jamaat-e-Islami and SDPI (Social Democratic Party of India), we would like all secular forces to take part

in the joint protests,” said Kodiyeri.

The CPM state secretary called for a “broad understanding” against communal forces. Chief Minister Pinarayi

Vijayan's similar pitch during the just concluded Assembly session was rejected by the Muslim League. Like

Pinarayi, Kodiyeri too blamed the Congress for being intransigent. “The Congress is not taking a helpful

stand. For them, anti-communism is more important than opposing the RSS. But we know there are secular

minded people within the UDF and our future course of action will be organised in such a way as to include

them also,” Kodiyeri said.

The CPM will also intensify its campaign agaisnt that it calls “Islamic extremism”. Kodiyeri said that like the

RSS, there were sections within Islam that were trying to create a communal divide. He specicaly named

Jamaat-e-Islami and SDPI for trying to inculcate hatred for Hindus. “Both are trying for communal

polarisation,” he said. “Jamaat-e-Islami is red by the thought of freeing India through Islam. SDPI is using

religion as a weapon for terrorism. If RSS incites people to chant 'Jai Shri Ram', Muslim fundamentalists ar

https://english.manoramaonline.com/news/kerala/2020/02/16/anti-caa-agitation-cpm-once-again-extends-a-hand-to-muslim-league.html

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Cong Ups Ante On 4% Reservations For Muslims In Telangana

Feb 16, 2020

Hyderabad: Congress on Saturday sought to reassure the Muslim community that it will put up a strong fight in the Supreme Court to ensure that 4% reservations for Muslims in Telangana is continued.

Telangana Congress president N Uttam Kumar Reddy praised the role played by former minister Mohammed Ali Shabbir and the then chief minister YS Rajashekhara Reddy in giving 4% quota to backward groups among Muslims in 2004. tnn

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/cong-ups-ante-on4-muslim-quota/articleshowprint/74154385.cms

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Mideast

 

Air strikes on Yemen kill 31 civilians after Saudi jet crash

PFebruary 16, 2020

The Tornado aircraft came down on Friday in northern Al-Jawf province during an operation to support government forces, a rare shooting down that prompted operations in the area by a Saudi-led military coalition fighting the rebels.

The deadly violence follows an upsurge in fighting in northern Yemen between the warring parties that threatens to worsen the war-battered country's humanitarian crisis.

"Preliminary field reports indicate that on 15 February as many as 31 civilians were killed and 12 others injured in strikes that hit Al-Hayjah area [...] in Al-Jawf governorate," the office of the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen said in a statement.

"Under international humanitarian law, parties which resort to force are obligated to protect civilians," she said.

"Five years into this conflict and belligerents are still failing to uphold this responsibility. It's shocking."

The rebels reported multiple coalition air strikes in the area where the plane went down, adding that women and children were among the dead and wounded, according to rebel television station Al-Masirah.

The coalition conceded the "possibility of collateral damage" during a "search and rescue operation" at the site of the jet crash, which left the fate of its crew uncertain.

Without stating the cause of the crash, a coalition statement released by the official Saudi Press Agency said the crew, comprising two officers, ejected from the plane before it crashed but the rebels opened fire at them in "violation of the international humanitarian law".

"The lives and wellbeing of the crew is the responsibility of the terrorist Houthi militia," the statement said, without specifying whether they had survived.

The Houthi rebels released footage of what they called the launch of their "advanced surface-to-air missile" and the moment it struck the jet in the night sky, sending it crashing down in a ball of flames.

"The downing of a Tornado in the sky above Al-Jawf is a major blow to the enemy and an indication of remarkable growth in Yemeni (rebel) air defence capabilities," Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdelsalam tweeted.

The escalation follows fierce fighting around the Houthi-held capital Sanaa, with the rebels seen to be advancing on several fronts towards Al-Hazm, the regional capital of Al-Jawf.

The province of Al-Jawf has been mostly controlled by the Houthis, but its capital remains in the hands of the Saudi-backed government.

The downing of a coalition warplane marks a setback for a military alliance known for its air supremacy and signals the rebels' increasingly potent military arsenal.

"At the start of the conflict the Houthis were a ragtag militia," Fatima Abo Alasrar, a scholar at the Middle East Institute, told AFP.

"Today they have massively expanded their arsenal with the help of Iran and its proxy Hezbollah," Lebanon's powerful Shia movement.

Houthi rebels now possess weapons bearing signs of Iranian origin, according to a UN report obtained by AFP earlier this month, in potential violation of a UN arms embargo.

Some of the new weapons, which the rebels obtained last year, "have technical characteristics similar to arms manufactured in the Islamic Republic of Iran," said the report, compiled by a panel of UN experts tasked with monitoring the embargo.

The panel did not say whether the weapons were delivered to the Houthis directly by the Iranian government, which has repeatedly denied sending them arms.

The coalition intervened against the Houthis in 2015, in a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, and sparked what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The coalition force has been widely criticised for the high civilian death toll from its bombing campaign, which has prompted some Western governments to cut arms deliveries to the countries taking part.

On Wednesday, the coalition said it would put on trial military personnel suspected of being behind deadly air strikes on Yemeni civilians.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1534834/air-strikes-on-yemen-kill-31-civilians-after-saudi-jet-crash

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Islamic Revolution paved way for women to be active: Pres. Rouhani

15 February 2020

Speaking on Saturday at the session of Supreme Council of Cyberspace, President Hassan Rouhani congratulated the birthday anniversary of the Hazrat Fatemeh (PBUH) and Woman’s Day and said, “with the victory of the Islamic Revolution, the way for women to be active in different political, cultural and social stages was paved and women today have an active and effective presence in different fields.”

“Before the victory of the Islamic Revolution, because of the atmosphere of that time, women did not appear in the society and were mostly sitting at home, and some families even were cautious about women’s presence and activities in scientific and research fields,” his office's website quoted him as saying.

“Thanks to the Islamic Revolution, women today have an active presence in the society and their presence is completely obvious in NGOs and among university faculty members, researchers and artists,” Rouhani emphasized.

https://en.mehrnews.com/news/155663/Islamic-Revolution-paved-way-for-women-to-be-active-Pres-Rouhani

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Where is the place of Islamic Revolution in world calculations?

By: Mohammad Ghaderi

15 February 2020

The Islamic Revolution and the subsequent establishment of the Islamic Republic led to major changes in regional and international developments.

The 1979 Revolution was like a sapling that has become a strong tree over the past 40 years and is still growing.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has confronted and challenged the US and the Zionist regime’s imperialist policies in the region and the larger world. And Iran's strategic influence in the region has become the greatest concern of the US and Tel Aviv.

This strategic influence derives from the very nature of the Islamic Revolution that attracts the liberal and oppressed nations of the world. It is a popular revolution that originated from pure human nature, which does not accept oppression, aggression and violence.

One of the most important effects of the Islamic Revolution was to disrupt the balance of power between the East and the West. We have seen the collapse of the Eastern bloc led by the Soviet Union, as predicted by Imam Khomeini. Now, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei has promised the decline of American domination.

Despite all US military, political, economic investments and soft war in the region, President Donald Trump has admitted that Americans have failed and were not able to carry out their plans. It was the Islamic Revolution that, with strong logic and modern interpretation, presented a new discourse, according to the needs of Islamic communities and the Arab environment.

Before the Islamic Revolution, the issue of Palestine was being forgotten, but the Islamic Revolution changed that mindset and the issue was revived. The hasty plan of the Deal of the Century aimed at wiping out Palestine has been proposed because of the widespread Palestinian resistance.

Of course, the Zionist regime and the West tried to tarnish the image of Islam with the terrorist acts of ISIL, al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra Front, but the culture and discourse of the Islamic Revolution still persist and fascinate most oppressed nations.

Today, the Western media outlets have launched a warfare campaign against the Islamic Revolution and pure Islamic ideology, but as the logic of the Islamic Revolution is intrinsic and rational, it is developing day by day. The logic, along with Iran’s defensive and security deterrence, has become a nightmare for the world’s criminals.

https://en.mehrnews.com/news/155654/Where-is-the-place-of-Islamic-Revolution-in-world-calculations

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41st anniversary of victory of Islamic Revolution held on Ivory Coast

Feb 15, 2020

The 41st anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution was attended by Minister of Sports, Claude Dunhooh, as government representative, Deputy Foreign Minister, Ambassadors and Diplomats, National and Senate Representatives, Shia and Sunni religious personalities, NGOs, Lebanese populations, scholars and imams, reporters and Iranian expatriates in the Ivory Coast capital.

Iranian Ambassador to Abidjan Kourosh Majidi commemorated the 41st anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution and referred to the approach of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the fight against terrorism and the effective role of General Soleimani in the fight against terrorism, Takfiri and terrorist groups in the region.

He further emphasized the principles of the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, rejecting world domination and combating global arrogance, while condemning the destructive and disruptive actions of the US government against the international peace and security and unilaterally withdrawing from the JCPOA and unveiling the Zionist plan of the Deal of the century and said that the policies of the Trump administration in the Middle East will be doomed to failure.

https://en.irna.ir/news/83675565/41st-anniversary-of-victory-of-Islamic-Revolution-held-on-Ivory

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South Asia

 

Islamic congregation begins in Saptari

February 16, 2020

A three-day Islamic congregation, Aalmi Tablighi Ijtima, has started in Saptari from today.

The programme participated in by over 200,000 followers of Islam was inaugurated by Maulana Sad Sahab of Markat Jane Masjid of New Delhi, India.

Meanwhile, over 700 security personnel of Nepal Police and Armed Police Force have been deployed for security at the programme venue in Janjar of Bodebarsain-5.

Security agencies said they were on high alert upon finding that the participants even from countries such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bangladesh are partaking in the event, which is supposed to be exclusively for Muslims from Nepal and India only.

The government on Thursday had directed the local administration to ban the programme, citing its concern over preparations to allow participants from countries other than India. However, at the behest of the National Muslim Commission the government had agreed to give a go-ahead with the scheduled programme after the organiser ensured that Muslims from countries except India wouldn’t be allowed in the event.

According to NMC Chairperson Samim Ansari, there were over 200 participants from countries other than India and Nepal at the programme yesterday. “It’s a grave mistake on part of the organiser to allow third country people to take part in the programme that was supposed to be only for the people of Nepal and India,” he said.

https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/islamic-congregation-begins-in-saptari/

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5 Taliban militants killed, 25 IEDs defused in Kandahar

16 Feb 2020

The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces killed 5 Taliban militants during an operation in southern Kandahar province, the Afghan Military said.

The Special Operations Corps said in a statement said the security forces killed 5 Taliban militants during a joint raid in Khakriz district of Kandahar.

The security forces also discovered and defused five Improvised Explosive Devices during the operation, the Special Operations Corps added in its statement.

The Taliban group has not commented regarding the operation so far.

https://www.khaama.com/5-taliban-militants-killed-25-ieds-defused-in-kandahar-04457/

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The phobia of novel China’s Coronavirus and the fate of Afghan students in Wuhan

16 Feb 2020

The new disease caused by a novel coronavirus was identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. Despite China’s efforts to contain the virus transmission, the epidemic of coronavirus has expanded. So far, around 20 countries have reported cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in their countries. The death toll due to COVID-19 has raised to almost 1400, with almost 65,000 cases of infections as last Friday.

Following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, countries remained committed to the health and well-being of their nationals by evacuating their nationals stranded in the epicenter of the outbreak. India, Bangladesh, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Iran were also among those who evacuated their nationals from Wuhan China.

As the other countries evacuated their nationals, Afghans are still waiting to receive a formal reply from Afghanistan’s government to evacuate or relocate them from the epicenter of the outbreak. There are approximately 45 Afghans including children in the highly quarantined city of Wuhan. Most of them are students living with their families or alone. In their interviews with media outlets, Afghans stranded in Wuhan reports the miserable and deprived situations in the ghost town of Wuhan. According to them, they are under stressful conditions; they lack access to enough food, safe drinking water, and they suffer from mental torture.

What could be the potential reasons that prevent the Ministry of Public Health of Afghanistan and other authorities from taking action?

On February 2, 2019, The Afghan Health Minister holds a media briefing on the novel Coronavirus. He mentioned that the Ministry of Health and the medical team is ready to bring all the Afghan students stranded in Wuhan. They will then undergo the quarantine procedure for 14 days. Nevertheless, he then expressed his fear that evacuating the 45 Afghans from Wuhan to Afghanistan will endanger the lives of the other 30 million Afghans. He also mentioned Pakistan as an example of not evacuating their nationals from Wuhan.

After almost two weeks of showing preparedness for evacuating Afghan students, Afghanistan’s authorities including the Ministry of Public Health has taken no action to evacuate the Afghan students from Wuhan. No action from Afghan authorities could be based on different reasons for which we can assume the following:

First, In addition to confidence in the health system, the Minister of public health’s briefing on novel coronavirus also reflects the inability of the country’s health system to prevent the spread, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19 infection in Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s health system lacks quarantine facilities and protocols, trained healthcare personnel and medical supplies, and economic burden from other diseases. Spreading the COVID-19 will definitely overburden the current health system in Afghanistan and handling the outbreak would be challenging for the ministry of public health. However, it is also important to remember that, before evacuating the Afghans from Wuhan they undergo screening procedures for COVID-19 infection. Those who pass the screening will be eligible for evacuation.

Second, showing solidarity with China in this dire situation of the COVID-19 outbreak by copying Pakistan’s stance on behalf of their nationals in Wuhan. Pakistan’s government has refused to evacuate their nationals from Wuhan. It is obvious that China and Pakistan share geopolitical interests and Pakistan has been a good ally of China throughout history. However, the case of Afghanistan is different. China had a limited role in the reconstruction and development efforts in Afghanistan after 2002. In addition, high-level Chinese authorities have not visited Afghanistan in the last two decades that show a low level of bilateral relations between Afghanistan and China.

Would it be a wise decision to refuse the evacuation or relocation of Afghan students from Wuhan?

Keeping Afghan students in the epidemic center of COVID-19 is not an appropriate decision at all. World Health Organization does not prefer travel bans. Thus, the government of Afghanistan should consider offering voluntary evacuation requests to those Afghans who pass the screening for COVID-19. Because the situation is quite stressful for Afghan students as they suffer from mental torture. Afghan students have also reported limited access to food and other necessary supplies. On the other hand, the families and relatives of those 45 Afghans are also concerned about their loved ones stranded in Wuhan. It would be morally inappropriate to refuse or delay their evacuation or relocation of the Afghans stranded in Wuhan.

Moreover, the quarantine period for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is 14 days. It means that if people remain asymptomatic in 14 days, then the infection from coronavirus is unlikely. Nevertheless, Afghan students in Wuhan remained quarantined for more than 4 weeks in Wuhan, and they have not shown any symptoms of COVID-19 infection yet. On the other hand, the chances of getting COVID-19 infection will increase if the Afghan students remain longer in the epidemic center of the COVID-19 virus. Therefore, evacuating the students from Wuhan could decrease the chances of COVID-19 infection in Afghan Students; moreover, the health system of China is already been overburdened with new cases of COVID-19 infection. Therefore, treatment and management priorities may also differ if international students get the infection.

Third, it would be morally appropriate if we consider a prompt action in bringing our students from Wuhan to Afghanistan. In case the level of trust and confidence in Afghanistan’s health system remain low for preventing the spread of COVID-19 infection, it would be helpful to consider a third country or another province in China to evacuate or relocate our students from Wuhan for the purposes of additional obligatory quarantine of the students. Some countries have already extended their support for evacuating nationals of other countries as a gesture of good friendship. For instance, India has evacuated Maldivian students from Wuhan, and Iran assisted in evacuating Iraqi and Syrian nationals along with Iranian nationals from Wuhan.

https://www.khaama.com/the-phobia-of-novel-coronavirus-and-the-fate-of-afghan-students-in-china-8768654/

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Southeast Asia

 

Make Islamic finance part of halal ecosystem, says INCEIF

Dr Azmi Omar

16/02/2020

Islamic finance should be made part of the halal ecosystem and not as a separate entity as practised in many countries where the industry is a part of the economy.

International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF) president/chief executive officer Prof Datuk Dr Azmi Omar said in fact, the whole halal ecosystem should be covered to ensure the process is Shariah-compliant from end-to-end of the value chain.

"In many countries, this is separated in the sense that there is no connection between Islamic finance and the halal industry, whereas what we should be saying is that when you talk about financing, it must be from Islamic finance.

"And if you put that as a requirement, by default, your Islamic financing will increase. We need to fill this gap by putting those requirements," he told Bernama in an interview recently.

Based on the latest figures released in October 2019, Islamic banking accounted for 33 per cent of Malaysia’s total banking assets while the takaful market share stood at 11 per cent for family takaful and 10.1 per cent for general takaful.

“At the moment, in Malaysia, because of the way we evaluate the halal certification, the financing is not part of the evaluation,” he said.

Azmi, who is part of a team that developed the Islamic economy master plan for Indonesia, said countries which are developing their Islamic economy such as Indonesia is making it mandatory that all Muslim products must be halal throughout the entire ecosystem. 

"Indonesia started late. But for the republic’s master plan, we put that the Islamic finance industry must be part of the halal industry because, by default, Islamic finance is halal," he pointed out.

The demand for Islamic finance will grow, Azmi said, mainly driven by continuous interest from the Muslim community and ethical finance such as for green finance and sustainable finance, especially in the new markets.  

Growth in the traditional Islamic finance industry has tapered off as it has reached market saturation.

"In other parts of the world (in new markets), Islamic finance continues to grow. Recently, in Suriname, the country now has an Islamic bank which was opened in late 2018. In fact, it was converted into an Islamic bank from a conventional bank.

"Guyana is also planning to have an Islamic bank. So as you can see now, we have Islamic banking spreading from the African continent to South America," he said.

Meanwhile, addressing the perception that financial technology (fintech) is an urban play, Azmi noted that fintech should be extended to the rural areas, and this should be provided under Shariah-compliant requirements.

He said while fintech adoption in the conventional system grew at a faster rate, this was not so in the case of Islamic finance.

"Islamic finance is playing a catch-up role. For example, in the case of digital Islamic banks, one is going to be established in Germany by the Al Baraka Group, but you do not have a digital Islamic bank in Malaysia or Indonesia, for that matter," he said.

Azmi said that it would take some time for Islamic finance to fully embrace fintech, adding that Malaysia has homegrown fintech companies such as Ethis Malaysia providing ethical property crowdfunding in Malaysia and Indonesia.

"There are a couple of fintech companies that are providing solutions that are Shariah-compliant but if you compare with conventional applications, the latter offers much more.

“But bear in mind that fintech companies are small, unlike banks which have a big department that can look at all Shariah applications and issues. But for fintech companies, they may not be able to do that immediately," he added.

https://www.bernama.com/en/business/news.php?id=1814266

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30 attend workshop on mosque tourism

February 16, 2020

Danial Norjidi

The Youth Religious Programme under the Ministry of Religious Affairs in collaboration with the As-Syahadah Muallaf Youth Group held the ‘Awareness through Mosque Visits 2020’ workshop yesterday.

The programme served as a platform to share information about mosques, and etiquette in visiting them in an interesting and accurate manner.

Participants also learnt on techniques for interacting with tourists both within and outside the country.

A total of 30 youth under the Youth Religious Programme and members of the public participated in the workshop, facilitated by Edy Kasrin bin Abdul Kadir from Islamic Da’wah Centre.

The programme will continue on February 24 from 8am to 12 noon at Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Mosque in the capital. Themed ‘History and Culture of Brunei Darussalam through Mosque Tour’, the event will be open to the public as well as tourists.

https://borneobulletin.com.bn/30-attend-workshop-mosque-tourism/

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Uncle at Tiong Bahru mosque shows how to use hand sanitiser, ends with impeccable finger heart

Fasiha Nazren

February 16,2020

To help with the coronavirus outbreak, mosques and aLIVE madrasahs (religious schools) in Singapore have taken added measures to keep congregants safe.

This includes providing hand sanitiser and taking the temperature of people taking classes in mosques.

https://mothership.sg/2020/02/tiong-bahru-mosque-uncle-sanitiser/

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Former sports minister Imam Nahrawi indicted for accepting Rp 20 billion in bribes

February 16, 2020

Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) prosecutors have indicted former youth and sports minister Imam Nahrawi for accepting Rp 11.5 billion (US$840,280) in bribes and an additional Rp 8.64 billion in gratuities from a number of ministry and Indonesian Sports Council (KONI) officials.

“Defendant Imam Nahrawi, who served as youth and sports minister from 2014 to 2019 alongside Miftahul Ulum, accepted a gift of Rp 11.5 billion in cash from KONI secretary-general Ending Fuad Hamidy and KONI general treasurer Johhny E Awuy,” KPK prosecutor Ronald Worotikan read out during Imam’s indictment hearing at the Jakarta Corruption Court on Friday, as quoted by Antara news agency.

The prosecutors said that the bribes were intended to accelerate the approval and disbursement of a state grant proposed by KONI to the Youth and Sports Ministry in 2018.

Imam took office as youth and sports minister on Oct. 27, 2014, and appointed Miftahul – who had been his close confidante and chauffeur since 2011 – as his private assistant.

“The defendant introduced Miftahul Ulum to a host of Youth and Sports Ministry officials, suggesting that they first consult with Miftahul should there be anything they would like to communicate to the defendant,” Ronald said.

Imam was indicted under Article 20 of the 2001 Corruption Eradication Law, which prohibits civil servants and state officials from receiving gifts or promises in exchange for abusing their power and carries a maximum sentence of 20 years of imprisonment.

Imam did not submit a formal objection to the indictment but said that he would present his side of the story later in the trial.

“To uncover the truth, I ask that the trial continue to the argumentation stage. But I strongly object to the indictment, and I will express that when I present my defense,” Imam said during the hearing.

A team of prosecutors had previously named Imam on a list of alleged recipients of bribes from the National Sports Committee (KONI) to the ministry during the trial of committee secretary-general Ending Fuad Hamidy at the Jakarta Corruption Court last year.

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/02/16/former-sports-minister-imam-nahrawi-indicted-for-accepting-rp-20-billion-in-bribes.html

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Arab world

 

Muslim World League chief, Croatian president discuss ways to promote tolerance

16 February 2020

ZAGREB: Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic received Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL), at the presidential palace in Zagreb on Saturday.

The two leaders discussed cooperation opportunities to promote the values of tolerance and coexistence.

Al-Issa reiterated the MWL’s mission to adhere to peace and renounce all forms of extremism.

The Croatian president expressed her appreciation of the MWL’s mission and its work around the world, especially its initiative to enhance cooperation between states and peoples for more harmonious communities.

Al-Issa also met Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and discussed areas of joint work in the context of initiatives launched by the MWL to consolidate the values of religious and national harmony.

In another meeting, the MWL chief met with speaker of the Croatian Parliament, Gordan Jandrokovic, and discussed potential areas of cooperation in tasks of common interest, especially those related to minority rights.

Al-Issa met with imams working in Croatia, and with the president of the Islamic Cultural Center.

He also visited a Croatian parish and held a meeting with the bishops in charge, discussing methods of cooperation.

Al-Issa accepted the invitation of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic to visit the capital. Bandic expressed his appreciation for the MWL’s efforts in promoting peace and coexistence around the world, and strengthening relations between states and people.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1628251/saudi-arabia

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Ivanka Trump tours Louvre Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

15 hours ago

She was in Abu Dhabi ahead of the two-day Global Women’s Forum in Dubai, where she was to give the keynote address on Sunday.

In Abu Dhabi, Trump met with women business leaders at the Louvre Abu Dhabi before touring the museum. She later visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the largest mosque in the country.

The adviser to President Trump was scheduled to meet with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

At the Louvre, Trump discussed women’s economic empowerment in the UAE with businesswomen and government officials. Officials included Reem Al-Hashemi, Minister of State for International Cooperation; Noura Al-Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge development, and Minister of State for Advanced Sciences Sarah Al-Amiri

https://www.gulftoday.ae/news/2020/02/15/ivanka-trump-tours-louvre-abu-dhabi-and-sheikh-zayed-grand-mosque-ahead-of-womens-conference

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Saudi crackdown over Iqama misuse not Pakistan-specific: FO

February 16, 2020

“Around 400 Pakistanis have been brought to Shumaisi Deportation Centre near Makkah over the last three days,” a statement from the consulate, which was shared here by the Foreign Office, said.

The statement was issued in response to reports, mostly on social media, that thousands of Pakistani workers were detained and deported over the past few days. It was also being speculated that the action by the Saudi authorities was a reaction to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Kuala Lumpur and his statement there in which he, while explaining his no-show at the KL Summit, said that he had missed the event because some countries “close to Pakistan” had believed it would divide the Ummah and promised to attend the next edition.

“The assumption that it is a Pakistan-specific drive is completely incorrect. … Certain social media sections are also giving it a misleading political angle. It is in the interest of the deep-rooted Pak-Saudi brotherly relations that such baseless and irresponsible twist is avoided at all costs,” it said.

The consulate explained that the drive had been initiated almost a week ago against expatriates without ‘Iqama’ or those with expired ‘Iqama’, the ones not working at the place of their ‘Iqama’ or declared profession, or other illegal ones.

It further said that the campaign against illegal workers of all nationalities continued throughout the year with varying intensity.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1534753/saudi-crackdown-over-iqama-misuse-not-pakistan-specific-fo

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Sheikh Mohammed, Sheikh Hamdan arrive at Global Women's Forum Dubai

February 16, 2020

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, and Ivanka Trump arrived at the Global Women's Forum Dubai (GWFD) 2020, taking place on Sunday. 

The GWFD 2020 began on Sunday with a session by Carla Harris, Wall Street veteran and Managing Director at Morgan Stanley.

Ivanka Trump, adviser to the US President, shares her views on the importance of enabling women across developing countries to contribute to their nation's progress.

Among the key personalities to be featured are former UK prime minister Theresa May; David Malpass, president of the World Bank Group; and Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the IMF.

This year's GWFD will gather over 100 global leaders and experts, who will engage in a constructive dialogue on the advancement of women. More than 3,000 delegates from 87 countries are expected to attend workshops and sessions, including five dedicated plenaries, throughout the two-day conference.

On the sidelines of the forum, over 250 government representatives, business leaders and women entrepreneurs from the region will participate in the first We-Fi Mena Regional Summit, which is co-organised by the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) and Dubai Women Establishment.

Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council and President of Dubai Women Establishment, stressed that GWFD 2020 is a chance to shed light on the UAE's development journey "set in motion by its wise leadership who believed in women's capabilities and the importance of their role in society".

https://www.khaleejtimes.com/uae/dubai/Latest-updates-Global-Womens-Forum-Dubai-2020-opens-

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Rockets strike near US embassy in Iraq, no casualties reported

16-02-2020

Several rockets hit near the embassy of the United States in Iraq's capital early on Sunday, US and Iraqi military officials said, in the latest of a series of attacks against US assets in the country.

The rockets struck an Iraqi base hosting US troops and other coalition forces in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, an area that is home to foreign embassies and government offices.

According to Colonel Myles B Caggins III, a spokesman for the US military operation in Iraq, the attack - which took place just before 3:30am (00:30 GMT) - caused no casualties and only minor damage.

Iraq's military said three Katyusha rockets hit inside the Green Zone, while a fourth rocket hit a logistics base in a different neighbourhood operated by the Hashd al-Shaabi, a military network officially incorporated into the Iraqi state.

Rocket attacks, which the US blames on Iran-backed militias within the Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), have frequently landed near and sometimes on the US embassy, which is next to the base.

Sunday's attack came just hours after one of the Hashd's Iran-backed factions, Harakat al-Nujaba, announced a "countdown" to ejecting American forces from the country.

The faction's leader Akram al-Kaabi tweeted a photograph of what he claimed was an American military vehicle, adding: "We are closer than you think."

The attack was the latest in a recent series of rocket and mortar attacks on Iraqi bases housing US troops. On Thursday, a mortar shell exploded in the K1 Iraqi military airbase in Kirkuk province in northern Iraq. No casualties were reported, Iraqi security officials said.

Last month, the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution calling for an end to the presence of foreign troops linked to the US-led alliance fighting the ISIL (ISIS) group. There are currently approximately 5,000 US troops stationed in Iraq.

The resolution came after a US drone attack in Baghdad killed top Iranian commander, General Qassem Soleimani; it later prompted Iranian missile attacks against Iraqi military bases housing US personnel. Dozens of US military personnel were wounded in the attacks.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/02/rockets-strike-embassy-iraq-casualties-reported-200216054124004.html

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Jihad Jane: ‘This story has nothing to do with religion’

Feb 16, 2020

Ciaran Cassidy is an award-winning documentarian whose work has featured at Sundance (The Last Days of Peter Bergmann) and the Telluride Film Festival (Collaboration Horizontale). His radio docs have picked up five gold medals at New York Radio Festivals. As we meet, he and journalist Mark Horgan are working on Where Is George Gibney?, a new podcast series on the former swimming coach for BBC Sound. Cassidy has previously covered stories as diverse as an escape from an Irish industrial school and the suicide of a bullied teenage girl. But one project, The Echo Chamber: The Story of Jihad Jane, a radio documentary he produced in 2013, stayed with him.

In 2010, Colleen LaRose, an American woman who called herself “Jihad Jane” on the internet, was charged with trying to recruit Islamic terrorists. She stood accused of taking part in an international conspiracy to kill Lars Vilks, the Swedish cartoonist who ignited a global controversy in 2007 for his depiction of the Prophet Muhammad as a dog. LaRose and another American woman, Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, and an Irish citizen, Algerian-born Ali Charafe Damache, were among a number of people arrested in Waterford in March 2010.

Ali Charafe Damache arrives at Waterford District Court in Waterford in 2010. Photograph: Peter Muhley/AFP/Getty

ALI CHARAFE DAMACHE OUTSIDE WATERFORD DISTRICT COURT IN 2010. PHOTOGRAPH: PETER MUHLEY/AFP/GETTY

“There was huge fanfare around the story,” says Cassidy. “It was a lead story here and it was a lead story all across the States. Katie Couric opened the CBS evening news with it. As a journalist I was kind of curious as to why the story went quiet and what had happened. Eventually Colleen LaRose appeared in court in America and she pleaded guilty. I think she would have got 35 or 50 years otherwise. I just had a lot of questions about what really happened. I was curious about the fact that they were two American women in Waterford. I was curious about the role of the media and the role of the internet.

That’s how surreal this story was. Somebody is wandering around Waterford looking for an FBI department

“It’s a story that’s more familiar now, but at the time it felt a lot more of an outlier. Back in 2010 broadband speeds had only started to increase. So people were just starting to put videos up. There was no policing whatsoever on YouTube or the darker corners of the web that everybody is so much more familiar with now.

“So I was just exploring that world. How somebody in Philadelphia and somebody in Colorado and somebody in Baltimore and somebody in Waterford were all planning to kill someone in Sweden. It was all so strange. And it’s a story that couldn’t have happened in the 1960s or 70s it could have only happened at that moment.” 

Cassidy’s questions form the spine of his fascinating new feature documentary, Jihad Jane. Colleen LaRose’s strange radicalisation began following an anonymous sexual encounter with a “Middle Eastern guy” she met on holiday in Amsterdam. Returning to American life, while caring for her elderly mother and her partner’s elderly father, she became fascinated by the Arab world and the Palestinian cause. It was a lonely and tough existence for someone her partner Kurt Gorman described as a “social person”.

“I was watching videos on YouTube,” LaRose explains. “The thing that had an effect on me was the brutality I was seeing against the Muslims. I would get upset. The blood and the bodies and the children. The day that I was watching the Zionists bombing the Palestinians, you could hear the children screaming and crying and all the women and the brothers. At the same time I was watching this on the internet, outside my window I could hear kids playing and laughing in the streets. And I was thinking to myself, Nobody knows what’s going on.”

“I remember at one of the first production meetings somebody asked: are you going to film in a mosque?” recalls Cassidy. “And I asked: why would I need to film in a mosque? None of the people involved went to a mosque. They never met a preacher. They never met a cleric. They never even talked to a Muslim. This story has nothing to do with religion. This is all about people who were spending eight or nine hours a day on computers.”

LaRose’s obsession eventually brought her to a bedsit above a Chinese restaurant in Waterford, where she encountered another disgruntled American woman, Jamie Paulin Ramirez, and Ali Charaf Damache in order to enforce a fatwa on Lars Vilks. After six frustrating weeks, LaRose went to the authorities to blow the whistle on the entire absurd plot.

“I thought he was like a leader and he had it under control that he had people under him and he could teach me,” LaRose says of Damanche. “It turned out he wasn’t like that at all. He was a liar. He lied to all of us.”

“I don’t think she saw that it was going to be a big issue,” says Cassidy. “She thought she would go home and go back to Kurt. One of the things that we didn’t put in the film – but if you’re Irish it’s kind of interesting – was she told me that when she was in Waterford and she left the apartment, she went up to the Garda station there looking for the FBI department. So when she walked in the guy behind the desk was really confused about what she wanted, so she headed off and sent the email from the library. That’s how surreal this story was. Somebody is wandering around Waterford looking for an FBI department.”

LaRose, who was released from prison in 2018, is now a Trump supporter living in anonymity. Before her brief, botched career as a self-styled jihadist, she lived a harrowing life. She was raped repeatedly by her biological father from the age of seven before running away in her early teens. She drifted into prostitution, and by 15 she had married one of her johns. A second abusive marriage followed, plus years of substance abuse and a suicide attempt in 2005.

That’s not the only affecting story in Jihad Jane. Another co-conspirator, Mohammad Hassan Khalid, who was has Asperger’s and was 15 when he became embroiled in the Jihad Jane plot, became the youngest person ever charged with terrorism inside the United States and was sentenced to five years. (“A kid with Asperger’s who was getting bullied at school and who went online looking for prayer videos,” as Cassidy explains.)

There’s a difference if people are writing about murdering someone online and then they’re travelling to do it

The film, as with the viewer, is never entirely certain if the great headline-making Jihad Jane plot was anything more than a fantasy.

“It’s a tricky one,” says Cassidy. “I was trying to think about it in legal terms. There’s a difference if people are writing about murdering someone online and then they’re travelling to do it. I think the minute that she got on that plane – she didn’t make it to Sweden but she did make it to Ireland – and she was on her way to murder that guy, it changes the case.”

The spectacle of Colleen LaRose leaving prison while cradling her hand-knit stuffed animals, does rather undermine the notion that she was determined to shoot Lars Vilks – six times, specifically.

“The US attorney’s office called her the first white woman to ever be convicted of terrorism,” says Cassidy. “And the hype that they gave the case made her front-page news. We thought that was an important part of the story. She became a kind of bogeywoman. And then she turns up with teddy bears. The larger point is that no one should be scared about this story. Partly the aim of the documentary was to demystify the stuff around the case.”

Cassidy couldn’t have predicted when he started work on the project all those years ago that the idea of hate speech masquerading as free speech would be as voguish as it is right now.

“Last year there came an opera in the opera house in Stockholm on the theme of Jihad Jane,” says Lars Vilks on camera. “It was three characters: Jihad Jane, the artist and the reporter. And the artist was a very nasty character. Actually [the story] seemed to be over. And when it came to 2010, I actually thought I had been forgotten. But in [the Jihad Jane] case, with a special fascination, it became world news. Everyone seemed to believe that I had done something again. I had shown a video about religion and homosexuality. It was quite a funny video. But as we were showing the Prophet and homosexual situations, the Muslims in the room reacted at that time and one came up to me. But the bodyguards acted. And there was a riot in the room.” 

Sometimes we talk about certain, terrible things and she would just say: ‘Oh well; that was just another adventure’

“One of the guys we talked to was Jesse Morton, a reformed radical and very interesting,” says Cassidy. “He’s the guy that says terrorism is a media operation. He would take a video of someone like Lars Vilks or of somebody burning the Koran and they would get a huge response. And then somebody would respond in kind, and those things were bouncing off each other.”

Vilks’s trollishness contrasts starkly with Colleen LaRose’s more earnest declaration that, even after the failed operation and jail sentence: “I’m somebody now.”

“I remember chatting to Colleen’s attorney – who really always had her best interests at heart,” says Cassidy. “And he was saying that because of all the stuff that had happened to her in her childhood and then in teenage years of prostitution and then the abusive marriages, that after that, prison wasn’t a big deal. Sometimes we talk about certain, terrible things and she would just say: ‘Oh well; that was just another adventure.’ ”

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/film/jihad-jane-this-story-has-nothing-to-do-with-religion-1.4168517

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Teenager’s attack on Islam tests France’s stance on religion

16/02/2020

At last, the French have a distraction from strikes over pension reform, ugly clashes between police and protesters and general discontent.

The country is preoccupied by l’affaire Mila, which began as a crude online spat between teenagers but grew into a full-scale national debate on competing notions: unfettered freedom of expression versus the right to worship without fear of insult.

As French President Emmanuel Macron finally inches towards his long-promised initiative on Islam in France, a 16-year-old schoolgirl has — almost by accident — thrown a hefty spanner in the works of those striving to build a society in which Muslims and non-Muslims co-exist in mutual tolerance and respect.

With a few scurrilous words on an Instagram video, Mila trashed Islam and much about the faith that Muslims hold dear.

After expressing hatred for religion generally and claiming the Quran was full of hate, she signed off with expletives a hooligan possessing Islamophobic thoughts might use when spraying graffiti on a wall.

Contemptuous of millions of compatriots though they were, Mila’s remarks may have been no more than those of an immature girl wanting to sound tough. They assumed disproportionate significance, igniting a furious debate on freedom and blasphemy soon after the fifth anniversary of the killing of 12 people by the French-Algerian brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi at the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which had published caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad.

The video was widely shared, bringing Mila a torrent of abuse and death threats, forcing police to place her under protection and officials to move her to another school. Support for her came from an unlikely front of intellectuals and the far right while a government minister and the left offer mixed messages or silence as if unsure of the correct response.

Mila attended a secondary school with a large Muslim population in Villefontaine, east of Lyon. French media have avoided fuller identification but her address and phone number have been posted on social media.

The origins of l’affaire Mila, on January 18, are banal. She reacted angrily to a boy’s unwelcome advances on Instagram. “I didn’t hesitate to put him in his place because it wasn’t the first time,” she told TMC television in the only interview she has given.

Later, she discussed her sexuality with another follower, telling her she was a lesbian. They agreed they did not especially like Arab or black girls, prompting the earlier user to return and call her a “dirty dyke,” a whore and a racist.

“He insulted me in the name of Allah,” Mila said. “I said I didn’t like Islam, that it was a religion of hatred.” She told TMC she denied racism since she was attacking a religion not an ethnic group and made it clear she regretted only her choice of words, not their message, though she did apologise to those who “practise Islam in peace.”

Blasphemy is not prohibited in France except, and then only theoretically, in Alsace and Moselle, a legacy of their previous attachment to neighbouring Germany. One well-known French commentator, Franz-Olivier Giesbert, has asked in the conservative news magazine Le Point whether growing intolerance was turning France into “the new Pakistan.”

What Mila makes of endorsements and criticism from other quarters is unclear. After trying for years to detoxify her anti-immigration party National Rally, formerly the Front National and known for its anti-Islam, anti-Semitic streaks, Marine Le Pen let the mask drop, tweeting: “This young girl is braver than the whole political class in power over the past 30 years.”

French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet said “insulting a religion is an attack on freedom of conscience,” though she later backtracked. In a rare comment from the mainstream left, the former presidential candidate Segolene Royal said she refused to regard a “disrespectful teenager” as a paragon of the freedom of expression.

Richard Malka, a lawyer who acts for Charlie Hebdo, sprang to Mila’s defence, saying she had used “words of her age and a still childish passion to express the evil she thinks of a religion,” demonstrating her belief that after centuries of combat and a revolution, the French had rid themselves of the duty of “obligatory respect” to God.

Inconveniently for intellectuals and rabble-rousers of the extreme right, Muslim complaints about collective vilification are inextricably linked to outrage at the routine demonisation of their faith.

After two years of delay, Macron is reportedly about to announce proposals for combating a “political Islam” incompatible with France’s republican values and for the organisation of Islam in France. Many in the country are counting on the president to act in line with his repeated assertions that there should be no confusion between extremism and worship.

But perhaps there is no need for French Muslims to judge the merits of the opposing Twitter hashtags, #JeSuisMila and #JeNeSuisPasMila.

Even without scholarly guidance, they could easily choose between contrasting views from the French Muslim Council. Its president, Mohammed Moussaoui, said that “no matter how offensive,” Mila’s remarks could not justify death threats. Another senior official, Abdallah Zekri, insisted she had brought them upon herself, invoking the biblical phrase: “They who sow the wind reap the whirlwind.”

https://thearabweekly.com/teenagers-attack-islam-tests-frances-stance-religion

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Rochester's Ahmadiyya Muslim Community uses public service to celebrate

Feb. 15, 2020

One hundred years ago Saturday, Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Sadiq disembarked from an ocean liner in Philadelphia only to be told he wasn't welcome.

A native of India, Sadiq was a Muslim missionary — perhaps the first ever dispatched to the United States. Immigration officials ordered him to leave, then locked him up while he appealed their decision.

Sadiq, a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, reportedly converted 20 men to Islam during seven weeks behind bars. Eventually released, he went on to convert hundreds more Americans.

Members of Rochester's Ahmadiyya Muslim Community chapter assemble food for donation to a local shelter.Buy Photo

Members of Rochester's Ahmadiyya Muslim Community chapter assemble food for donation to a local shelter. (Photo: Steve Orr/Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)

A century later, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community prides itself as the oldest and most open-minded Islamic sect in the United States — and the community celebrated, in Rochester and in dozens of other cities, by making Saturday a day of service.

Here, members of the community gathered at their mosque on East Main Street and assembled 300 bags of food that were to be taken to the House of Mercy shelter in northeast Rochester. Men packed bags in one room, women in another, in keeping with the practice of discouraging "free mixing" of the sexes. Members also collected clothing for donation.

"Our community is big on public service and giving back to mankind," said Mubarak Bashir, president of the Rochester chapter. "We do this kind of thing quite often."

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was established in India in 1889. Its adherents consider founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to have been the messiah foretold by Muhammad, a departure from mainstream belief has made Ahmadis unwelcome in some Muslim nations.

But the sect has thrived elsewhere, including in the United States, where they say they are the fastest-growing Muslim sect. The chapter in Rochester, one of about 70 in this country, has 130 to 140 members, Bashir said.

Mubarak Bashir, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community chapter in Rochester (left), and chapter public affairs director Daud Munawar.Buy Photo

Mubarak Bashir, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community chapter in Rochester (left), and chapter public affairs director Daud Munawar. (Photo: Steve Orr/Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)

Bashir and the Rochester chapter's public affairs director, Daud Munawar, say Ahmadiyya espouses many bedrock American principles, including freedom of speech, protection of human rights, the importance of education and rejection of violence to solve problems.

https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2020/02/15/ahmadiyya-muslims-rochester-honor-centennial-first-missionary/4771313002/

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Muslim couple condemns court ruling allowing doctors to let their baby die

16-02-2020

Appeal judges analysed evidence about the case of four-month-old Midrar, who was starved of oxygen when the umbilical cord came out ahead of his birth on September 18, after the High Court concluded that treatment could be withdrawn.

Midrar’s parents, Karwan Ali, 35, and Shokhan Namiq, 28, who live in Manchester, had asked appeal judges to overturn the ruling.

They said he was still growing and that doctors could not be sure that he would not improve, which meant more tests should be carried out.

Midrar’s father had argued his son had been showing “signs of life” and said the ruling was “terrible.”

Mr Ali said: “I’m just reading what the appeal judges have said, then we’ll discuss it with our lawyers. He’s still growing. They can’t be 100% sure he is dead. He’s still growing. His eyes move. I’ve seen them move.”

The family’s solicitor, David Foster, said Midrar’s parents were considering an appeal and would like the court to “give weight to experts from outside the UK.” The next step would be to take the case to the Supreme Court.

“They believe the law in this area should be reviewed and do not consider Midrar’s condition is necessarily irreversible,” Mr Foster said.

Appeal judges Sir Andrew McFarlane, Lord Justice Patten and Lady Justice King concluded that Midrar’s parents did not have an arguable case and declared that their son died at 20:01 GMT on October 1, when he would have been 14 days old.

Sir Andrew said evidence showed that “awfully” Midrar no longer has a “brain that is recognisable as such. There is no basis for contemplating that any further tests would result in a different outcome,” he said.

Doctors at St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester said the baby should be allowed a “kind and dignified death.”

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, which runs St Mary’s Hospital, previously said that Midrar has always been on a ventilator and has never breathed independently. It said his organs were deteriorating and continuing to treat Midrar was “undignified.”

Lawyers representing the hospital’s trust said three tests had confirmed brain stem death.

A spokesperson for the hospital trust said it “acknowledges the judgement made today and recognises that these are incredibly sad circumstances. Our thoughts remain with baby Midrar’s family at this very difficult time,” they added

https://5pillarsuk.com/2020/02/15/muslim-couple-condemns-court-ruling-allowing-doctors-to-let-their-baby-die/

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Europe honors Gen. Soleimani: Posters adorn cities across Italy

February 15, 2020

A European group has launched a remembrance campaign across Italy for Iranian Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani who was assassinated by US forces in Iraq in January.

The European Solidarity Front for Syria (ESFS) -- which launched the campaign in honor of Gen. Soleimani -- plastered the late general’s face on posters across Italy.

Photos emerged from Rome, Milan and Turin depicting Gen. Soleimani, with social media users reacting with praise.

One poster, placed on a signpost outside the Colosseum in Rome, read: "In honor of Qassem Soleimani".

Written alongside the photo was: "There is another paradise. That is the battle scene. The battlefield of your homeland."

On its Facebook page, the ESFS wrote the campaign was aimed at honoring "the memory of a man whose commitment and dedication to the cause of the freedom and sovereignty of nations has moved and inspired millions of free men and women in the world."

"General Soleimani represented and still represents one of the most important examples of a patriot at the service of that ideal that never in the world, directly or indirectly, a nation could hinder the legitimate autonomy of another nation or oppress a people opposed to it," the ESFS wrote on its Facebook page.

The group also described Gen. Soleimani’s assassination as an "unjustifiable act of barbarism and prevarication".

US forces assassinated General Soleimani, the former commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of Iraq’s Hashd al-Sha’abi, and their companions by targeting their car outside Baghdad International Airport on January 3.

The terror attack took place under the direction of US President Donald Trump, with the Pentagon taking responsibility for the strike.

Both commanders were admired by Muslim nations for eliminating the US-sponsored Daesh terrorists in the region. General Soleimani, in particular, was an international figure who played a leading role in promoting peace and security in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.

As foreign-backed Takfiri outfits reared their heads in recent years, the IRGC commander emerged as a key strategist and ingenious commander leading Iranian military advisers assisting Syrian and Iraqi troops in battles against terrorists.

The general was frequently pictured on the frontlines during anti-terrorism operations from Iraq’s Mosul to Syria’s Aleppo.

The US assassination of the top Iranian commander sent shock waves across the world while, at the same time, forging greater unity in the region against US interventionism, with insistent calls for revenge being echoed across the Muslim world.

Hailed by both friends and foes as a major military strategist, General Soleimani topped Foreign Policy (FP)’s 2019 list of Global Thinkers in defense and security.

Several reports have emerged about assassination plots against the commander by the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia– which are believed to be among the major supporters of Takfiri terrorists wreaking havoc on the Middle East.

Many believe that Washington created the Daesh terrorist group and helped it rise and commence its reign of terror and destruction in Syria and Iraq in 2014.

https://en.abna24.com/news//europe-honors-gen-soleimani-posters-adorn-cities-across-italy_1010543.html

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Turkey hits back at Russia claims over Syria's Idlib

16-02-2020

Turkey said it has fulfilled its responsibilities in Syria's Idlib region and warned it would take "necessary steps" if diplomatic efforts with Russia fail, amid a continuing Syrian government offensive on the last rebel-held region in the country.

Ankara, which backs several Syrian rebel groups, and Moscow, which supports the Syrian government, agreed in September 2018 to set up a de-escalation zone in opposition-controlled northwestern Syria.

Under the 2018 deal, Turkey has 12 observation posts in Idlib, with some of them now being in Syrian government-controlled territory following gains by Damascus.

Turkey's Vice President Fuat Oktay on Saturday insisted Ankara had enforced its side of the agreement.

"Observation posts were set up and the regime had to stay outside of this area. Russia and Iran were to ensure the regime stayed outside, Turkey had responsibilities too, Turkey fulfilled these," Oktay told the NTV broadcaster.

"Undertaking an extremely risky and difficult duty, Turkey took real initiative to stop the bloodshed of civilians, to prevent a new migration wave and to ensure it did not become a terror nest."

Later on Saturday, the Turkish presidency said in a statement that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his US counterpart, Donald Trump, discussed ways to end the crisis in Idlib and condemned the attacks by the Syrian government in the region.

"Stressing that the regime's most recent attacks are unacceptable, the president and Trump exchanged views on ways to end the crisis in Idlib without further delay," the presidency said in a statement after the two leaders spoke on the phone.

Launched in April last year, the Syrian government offensive has disrupted fragile cooperation between Turkey and Russia. After several failed ceasefire attempts last summer, the Syrian government intensified its assault on the region in December, killing hundreds of civilians and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee.

The situation escalated further this month when 13 Turkish military personnel were killed. Ankara responded by hitting scores of Syrian government targets.

On Friday, a Syrian military helicopter was shot down in the western countryside of Aleppo province, in an attack claimed by rebel groups. The incident came days after rebels said they shot down another government helicopter near the town of Nairab.

According to the United Nations, about one million Syrian refugees are living near the border with Turkey, with camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) already at capacity.

The Russian defence ministry said earlier this week Turkey did not separate "fighters from the moderate opposition from terrorists," referring to an agreed demilitarised zone within Idlib.

President Erdogan said later on Saturday that the situation would not be resolved until Syrian government forces withdrew beyond the borders that Turkey and Russia outlined in the 2018 agreement.

"The solution in Idlib is the [Syrian] regime withdrawing to the borders in the agreements. Otherwise, we will handle this before the end of February," Erdogan said, appearing to bring forward a previously stated deadline of the end of February.

"We would like to do this with the support of our friends. If we have to do it the hard way, we are also up for that," he said.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/02/turkey-hits-russia-claims-syria-idlib-200215103337565.html

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Pakistan

 

UN chief arrives in Islamabad on 4-day official visit

February 16, 2020

Upon his arrival at Nur Khan Airbase — his first official visit to Pakistan as UN chief — Guterres was received by Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Munir Akram as well as senior officials of the Foreign Office and United Nations in Pakistan.

Ahead of his arrival, Guterres said he would express gratitude for those serving as peacekeepers.

Taking to Twitter, he said: "Pakistan is one of the most consistent and reliable contributors to UN peacekeeping efforts around the world.

"I am travelling to Pakistan, where I plan to express my gratitude to the people #ServingForPeace."

During his visit, the UN chief will speak at the international conference '40 Years of Hosting Afghan Refugees in Pakistan'.

The two-day conference in Islamabad, starting on February 17, will be a recognition of Pakistan’s "tremendous generosity" in hosting millions of refugees from Afghanistan over four decades, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said during a regular noon briefing at the UN Headquarters in New York on Friday.

The conference, which is being organised by the Government of Pakistan and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Imran Khan. Various senior US officials will also attend the conference.

During his visit, Guterres is expected to meet with Prime Minister Imran and other high-level government officials, his spokesman said.

Dujarric said the UN chief will also meet Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and speak at an event on sustainable development and climate change. The UN Secretary General will meet President Arif Alvi on Monday.

On Tuesday, he will visit Lahore where he will meet students and attend an event on Pakistan’s polio vaccination campaign. He will also travel to Kartarpur to visit the Sikh holy site of Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib.

Responding to a question, the spokesman said the UN chief will not be visiting the disputed Kashmir region during this trip.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1534822/un-chief-arrives-in-islamabad-on-4-day-official-visit

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Princess Beatrice of York, former EU leaders visiting Pakistan for ski trip

16-02-2020

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday met with Princess Beatrice of York, a member of the British royal family, and other prominent European leaders, including the former prime minister of Spain Jose Maria Aznar and former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi.

The group is visiting Pakistan for a ski trip, according to a post on the premier’s Instagram account.

Ali Jehangir Siddiqui who is Pakistan’s ambassador-at-large for investment in an honorary capacity was also present on the occasion.

They group was welcomed to the country by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Sayed Zulfi Bukhari.

Princess Beatrice is the daughter of Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.

Her visit to Pakistan comes four months after Britain’s Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, visited the country for a five-day tour. It was the first royal visit from Britain to Pakistan in 13 years after a visit by Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and his wife Camilla Parker, the Duchess of Cornwall, in 2006.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/02/16/princess-beatrice-of-york-former-eu-leaders-visiting-pakistan-for-ski-trip/

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CPNE president condoles Naeemul Haque’s demise

16-02-2020

Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) President Arif Nizami has expressed his grief over the demise of PM’s Special Assistant on Political Affairs and close friend, Naeemul Haque, who passed away in Karachi at the age of 70 after fighting a two-year-long battle with blood cancer.

Condoling the death of the founding member of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Nizami said that Haque was a great friend and would be greatly missed.

“Very sad to hear about the passing away of Naeemul Haque. May his soul rest in peace. My profound condolences to the bereaved family and the PTI,” he said in a statement.

The CPNE president said that Naeemul Haque had played a pivotal role in strengthening the PTI and promoting a positive change in Pakistan as part of the party’s ideology.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/02/15/cpne-president-condoles-naeemul-haques-demise/

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North America

 

US defence chief says Taliban deal is promising but not without risk

February 16, 2020

Ahead of a formal announcement of the seven-day “reduction in violence” deal, Esper said it was time to give peace a chance in Afghanistan through a political negotiation.

He spoke a day after a senior US official said the deal had been concluded and would take effect very soon. Expectations are that agreement will be formally announced on Sunday and that the reduction in violence will begin on Monday, according to people familiar with the plan.

So we have on the table right now a reduction in violence proposal that was negotiated between our ambassador and the Taliban, Esper told an audience at the Munich Security Conference.

“It looks very promising. It’s my view as well that we have to give peace a chance, that the best if not the only way forward in Afghanistan is through a political agreement and that means taking some risk”, he said. “That means enabling our diplomats and that means working together with our partners and allies on the ground to affect such a thing.

Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met on Friday in Munich with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who has been sceptical of the scheme, which, if successful, would see an end to attacks for seven days and then the signing of a US-Taliban peace deal.

All-Afghan peace talks would then begin within 10 days as part of the plan, which envisions the phased withdrawal of US forces over 18 months.

In remarks later to a group of reporters, Esper declined to say whether the US had agreed to cut its troop levels in Afghanistan to zero. He said if the 7-day truce is successful and the next step towards Afghan peace talks begins, the US would reduce its troop contingent over time to about 8,600. There currently are about 12,000 US troops in the country.

Ghani has not yet spoken publicly about the agreement which was finalised last week by US special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar. Esper, however, said Ghani was supportive of the deal and had pledged to do his best to support it.

I think he is fully on board, Esper said of Ghani. He wants to lead his part of the process, which if we get to that would be a peace deal that would involve very soon afterward an inter-Afghan negotiation. He wants to be clearly a full partner in that and wants to lead on that and make sure that all Afghans come together.” Ghani has bickered with his partner in the current Unity Government, Abdullah Abdullah, over who will represent Kabul at the negotiating table. Ghani has insisted he lead the talks, while his political opponents and other prominent Afghans have called for more inclusive representation.

Separately on Saturday, Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg told the security conference that he also supported the plan but stressed that the alliance’s mission in Afghanistan would continue in the short- and medium-term.

We are not leaving Afghanistan but we are prepared to adjust our force level if the Taliban demonstrates the will and the capability to reduce violence and make real compromises that could pave the way for negotiations among Afghans for sustainable peace,” he said.

Stoltenberg later told a small group of reporters that in his own discussion with Ghani on Friday, the Afghan president indicated he supported the idea of talks.

The whole aim, and President Ghani has clearly supported this many times, is that we would like to initiate an inter-Afghan negotiation process, Stoltenberg said. We can support Afghans, we can help them, but we cannot negotiate peace for them. They have to do that themselves, and they want to do it themselves.

He added: We all understand that’s a long way and will be a difficult process, with a lot of uncertainties and possible setbacks and surprises.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1534799/us-defence-chief-says-taliban-deal-is-promising-but-not-without-risk

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Don Brown: Deadly 'green on blue' attacks by Islamic allied nation troops against Americans must end

By Don Brown

20 hours ago

When President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence flew to Dover Air Base this week to oversee the dignified transfer of two flag-draped caskets carried from a military jet by an Army honor guard, a hard, cold truth emerged through the dark mist over the tarmac – a truth largely ignored by the press and by American politicians.

Two American Green Berets, Sgt. Javier Jaguar Gutierrez and Sgt. Antonio Rey Rodriguez, had been killed by insider attacks.

In other words, an Afghan soldier, posing as an ally who U.S. soldiers had come to train, teach and support suddenly "went Taliban." Wearing the green uniform of the allied Afghan National Army, the Afghan opened fire on American Forces, wounding six Americans, and killing Gutierrez and Rodriguez.

US SOLDIER DIES FROM NON-COMBAT INCIDENT AT MILITARY BASE IN AFGHANISTAN, DOD SAYS

These attacks are called “green on blue” attacks where Muslim-nation partner soldiers pose as “allies,” trusted by American forces, and given weapons, suddenly attack American forces when given proximity to Americans.

In 2014, American Maj. Gen. Harry Greene, a two-star general, was shot and killed in Afghanistan by an Afghan National Army soldier while ceremoniously inspecting U.S. forces.

On Oct. 19, 2016 an Afghan Army soldier shot and killed one American soldier and civilian, and wounded three more Americans in an attack in Kabul. On March 19, 2017, an allied Afghan soldier fired on U.S. troops who were training Afghan troops based in Kandahar. On May 7, 2016, two Afghan soldiers killed two Romanian soldiers in a green-on-blue attack in Kandahar.

The Long War Journal reports that between 2008 and June of 2017, at least 155 green-on-blue attacks occurred, leaving 152 coalition forces dead and 193 wounded, mostly dead and wounded Americans.

Even in Trump's drawdown, these “green on blue” attacks by Islamic allied nation troops against Americans have continued.

As recently as July of 2019, an Afghan National Army soldier shot and killed two American paratroopers, Pfc. Brandon Jay Kreischer, 20, of Stryker, Ohio, and Spc. Michael Isaiah Nance, 24, of Chicago, in Kandahar Province.

And green-on-blue struck closer to home on Dec. 6, 2019, when a radical jihadist coward, masquerading as a Saudi military officer, who was an invited guest of the United States, opened fire with a 9-millimeter pistol at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida.

Moments later, three American sailors lay bleeding, including Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, a 23-year-old Naval Academy graduate. Wounded and dying, Watson in the last minutes of his life walked out of the classroom, amidst a barrage of gunfire, and directed law enforcement to the scene, before breathing his last breath. Three American sailors died in that attack.

Saudi 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, the attacker, was a terrorist animal who never should have been allowed in this country. Two other Saudi students watched from a car while Alshamrani executed his attack.

And the broader question is why, as we push toward a Trump drawdown of American forces in the Middle East, do we continue joint exercises with Islamic-nation “allies,” like Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, with a proven inability to vet radicalized jihadist troops from unracialized troops?

If Trump’s “America first” means anything, it must first mean that the life of the lowest American private who spills his blood on foreign soil is more important to this country than the president of Afghanistan,  the King of Saudi Arabia or any other foreign leader who has sought American help, or who State Department bureaucrats might kiss up to for the sake of diplomatic smoke-blowing.

If the Trump foreign policy is to become truly revolutionary, with a true “America First” mantle, then policies must change, in every instance, to make American lives more important than foreign lives, and to protect American blood in every instance.

Trump must change American policy so that these “green on blue” attacks come to a screeching halt.

That means that in Afghanistan, President Trump should order the United States military to disallow armed Afghan soldiers and security forces to be in the presence of U.S. forces.

As shown by the deaths of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi; top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani; Qasim al-Rimi, the founder and leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; and Usama bin Laden himself, the American military is more than capable of striking on its own without the help of inferior foreign Islamic militaries, that are not safely vetted to remove American-killing jihadists from their midst.

For the sake of American lives, the president should put an end to joint U.S. military operations with armed forces of Islamic state allies.

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/terrorist-attacks-allied-troops-middle-east

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Africa

 

Bugiri imam is sixth Muslim cleric to be killed in five years

Umaru Kashaka

15th February 2020

Sheikh Masudi Mutumba, the imam of Lwemba Mosque in Lwemba sub-county in Bugiri, was reportedly gunned down by unknown assailants on a bodaboda motorcycle at his home in Busimba village in Lwemba at around 9 pm, according to James Mubi, the Police spokesperson for Busoga East.

“He was shot by a single bullet targeted to his head and he died instantly. An exhibit (cartridge) of an AK47 rifle was recovered and has been submitted to our forensic experts to establish which gun was used in committing the crime,” he said.

In November 2016, Sheikh Mohammed Kiggundu, one of the former commanders of Allied Democratic Forces rebels, was killed together with his bodyguard, Sgt. Steven Mukasa at Masanafu, a Kampala suburb. The two were driving to the city in a UPDF pick-up truck at about 7:30 am.

On June 30, 2015, Sheikh Ibrahim Hassan Kirya, the spokesperson of Kibuli-based Muslim faction, was shot dead in Bweyogerere, Wakiso shortly after his Taraweeh (special night prayers) at one of the mosques in Rubaga Division, a Kampala suburb.

A month earlier Sheikh Abdulrashid Wafula, the imam of the Bilal Mosque in Mbale town, was killed at the gate of his home in Kireka village in Nakaloke town council, Mbale district.

On December 28, 2014, Sheikh Mustafa Bahiga, a city preacher, was fatally gunned down at the Bwebajja Mosque on Entebbe road. He was shot five times; three bullets in the left limb, one on the head and another in the stomach as he was going for the last Muslim prayer of the day.

A few days earlier Sheikh Abdul Kadir Muwaya, the Shiite leader who was popularly known as Dakhtur, was shot dead on Christmas Day at his home in Mayuge district at around 9:30pm.

https://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1515039/bugiri-imam-sixth-muslim-cleric-killed

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Performance of Islamic banking in Morocco is below expectations

Sunday 16/02/2020

RABAT - Financial data indicate that, two years after being authorised in Morocco, Islamic banks have not met the objectives of the government for the very competitive banking sector, leading to a new plan for the banks’ operation.

Nabil Badr, deputy director of Banking Supervision at Morocco’s central bank, told parliamentarians that the total amount of financing for Islamic banks was approximately $258 million. He said that the issuance of sukuk — Islamic bonds — by the banks would have a role in enhancing their ability to affect financial matters but to what extent depends on regulations related to the sukuk.

Officials said Islamic banks’ returns in Morocco have been counterproductive, their activities minimal and they have not received much approval from Moroccans.

Islamic banking in Morocco began with Assafa Bank and Umniah Bank with branches in several Moroccan cities. They were joined by Al-Yusr Bank, the Finance and Development Bank and Al-Akhdar Bank, in addition to an Islamic bond window last year.

Since the start of the experiment, experts warned of shortcomings, including overlapping functions of Islamic banks in transactions that include “advance payments” in addition to the high price of Islamic banking services compared with traditional commercial banks.

Competing banks provide continuous facilities, which made them more popular and efficient among customers, in contrast to the limited incentives and poorer services in Islamic banks.

To cope with the competition, Islamic banks added employees, whose numbers have jumped from 30 at the start to 519. However, that was not enough to draw customers, presumably because not many Moroccans were familiar with Islamic financing mechanisms or participatory banking, as it is locally known.

Until last June, financing through the Islamic banks was estimated at about $620 million, an increase of about 25% over the previous year.

Badr acknowledged that the development of Islamic banks requires time, as well as greater public awareness of Islamic financial services and the banks offering a better range of products.

Despite the sector’s weak performance, Badr said he remained optimistic that Islamic banking in Morocco would eventually succeed, pointing out that similar banks in countries with a long experience in Islamic financing took decades to reap significant revenues, “which means that their development in Morocco is going to be gradual as well.”

“Customer expectations far exceed the capabilities of the newly emerging Islamic banks in the country due to several considerations,” said Abdulsamad Issami, director of Umniah Bank.

He listed obstacles Islamic banks have encountered, including “the French-inspired legislation in Morocco, plus the taxes and fees that Islamic banks in the Gulf countries do not face.” Also, traditional Moroccan banks tend to provide a sophisticated set of services that Islamic banks cannot offer.

Mohamed Karrat, professor of Islamic jurisprudence of financial transactions at the Faculty of Sharia in Fez, considered that Islamic banks need to step out of their traditional role and be more open to other services, such as financing educational institutions or financing health care such as surgeries or issuing sukuk as an alternative to conventional bonds.

Badr pointed out that it was not possible to compare Morocco’s experience in Islamic banking to that of other countries. He said some countries allowed Islamic banks to offer products not permitted in Morocco, such as tawarruq transactions, which consist in lending the funds needed for the purchase of an asset whose value is equivalent to the amount borrowed, then the customer resells the asset for a profit in exchange for paying back the value of the loan.

Badr insisted that Morocco’s experience regarding the compatibility of Islamic banking with Islamic principles was ahead of other experiences because Morocco has benefited from them and worked to avoid shortcomings.

Karrat pointed out that the Moroccan experience is characterised by its reliance on a gradual policy to better absorb Islamic finance because there are aspects that require years to implement.

He stressed the need to increase the size of the committee in charge of Islamic finance at the Bank Al-Maghrib, Morocco’s central bank, and relieve committee members of other duties so they can focus on the sector.

Despite its short life and small scope, the Moroccan experience in Islamic finance has become a reference for other countries, Badr said. Central Bank of Algeria officials have met with Moroccan central bank officials to get acquainted with the regulatory and legislative framework regulating Islamic banks even though Algeria adopted Islamic banking before Morocco.

https://thearabweekly.com/performance-islamic-banking-morocco-below-expectations

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More than 6,000 bodies found in Burundi mass graves

16-02-2020

Authorities in Burundi have announced the discovery of more than 6,000 bodies in six mass graves.

The findings in Karusi province are the largest since the government launched a nationwide excavation in January.

Pierre Claver Ndayicariye, chairman of the country's truth and reconciliation commission, told journalists on Friday that the remains of 6,032 victims, as well as thousands of bullets, were recovered. Clothes, glasses and rosaries were used to identify some of the victims.

Referring to a 1972 massacre which is believed to have targeted people from the Hutu ethnic group, Ndayicariye said families of the victims were able to "break the silence" that was imposed 48 years ago.

The country has suffered colonial occupation, civil war and decades of intermittent massacres.

The government-run commission was set up in 2014 to investigate atrocities from 1885, when foreigners arrived in Burundi, until 2008, when a stalled peace deal to end the civil war was fully implemented.

So far it has mapped over 4,000 mass graves across the country and identified more than 142,000 victims of violence.

Burundi's population is divided between the Tutsi and Hutu ethnic groups. Its civil war, which killed 300,000 people before it ended in 2005, had ethnic overtones.

The commission's mandate does not cover most of the rule of current President Pierre Nkurunziza, who took office in 2005.

In 2015, Nkurunziza's campaign for a third term plunged the country into violence and led to an enduring political crisis.

In 2018, he surprised observers when he announced he would not seek another term in office, despite a new constitution adopted by referendum allowing him to do so.

The United Nations has warned that human rights abuses may increase again before elections scheduled for May.

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/framers-of-constitution-rejected-notion-of-hindu-india-and-muslim-india--supreme-court-justice-chandrachud/d/121076 

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