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Free Mosque Tours in Dubai to Teach More about Islamic Culture

New Age Islam News Bureau

18 Nov 2018

The aim of the tour mosques is to demystify any misconceptions they may be having about Islamic and Arabic culture.



 Free Mosque Tours in Dubai to Teach More about Islamic Culture

 West Wants To Annihilate Our Islamic Identity: Maulana Fazlur Rehman

 Trump Says No Plan to Extradite Turkish Preacher Fethullah Gulen to Turkey

 Saudis Fund Hardline British TV Station the Islam Channel

 Ayodhya Seers Assure Muslims, Offer Shelter in Temples


Arab World

 Free Mosque Tours in Dubai to Teach More about Islamic Culture

 43 Civilians Killed By Anti-ISIS Coalition Strikes In East Syria

 Regime forces seize last IS pocket in southern Syria

 Turkish Official: Khashoggi's Head in Riyadh

 Islamic State loses holdout in south Syria, faces deadly air raids in east

 ISIL Withdraws from More Positions in Sweida Desert under Syrian Army Attacks

 Terrorists Intensify Attacks on Syrian Army in Demilitarized Zone

 Over two dozen Daesh remnants slain in Iraqi army airstrikes, ground operations

 Russia: 6,000 US-backed militants residing in Syrian refugee camp

 In Iraq, bloody tribal custom now classed as ‘terrorism’



 West Wants To Annihilate Our Islamic Identity: Maulana Fazlur Rehman

 President Urges Ulema to Highlight True Essence of Islam

 JUI-S SaysWon’t Allow Exhumation of Sami’s Body

 Two killed, 10 injured in bomb blast in Pakistan's Karachi city

 $1bn Saudi assistance to reach SBP tomorrow, says Umar

 Law enforcers see sub-nationalist groups behind Quaidabad blast

 Govt to consult ulema regarding blasphemy laws: President Alvi


North America

 Trump Says No Plan to Extradite Turkish Preacher Fethullah Gulen to Turkey

 US Has Made No 'Final Conclusion' On Khashoggi Killing

 Saudi Ambassador to the US disputes Washington Post account of Khashoggi murder

 Brazilian Pilot Embraces Islam While Flying Plane

 US 9/11 prosecutor details depth of torture, cruelty at CIA’s black-site prisons



 Saudis Fund Hardline British TV Station the Islam Channel

 French Muslim Youth the Dominant Group Seeking Isolation from Society

 Macron's vision for French Islam may present him with his biggest challenge yet



 Ayodhya Seers Assure Muslims, Offer Shelter in Temples

 Two Indian Nationals Held In Saudi for Taking Pictures with Tri-Colour, Released After MEA Intervention

 Following controversy over namaz, ASI to increase security at mosque in Taj Mahal

 Shia Waqf Board chief writes to AIMPLB to relinquish its claim over disputed land for Temple

 With hug, promises, PM Modi reaches out to Maldives President

 J&K: 19-year-old abducted, killed by militants; second teen in 48 hours


Southeast Asia

 China Is Locking Up Its Muslim Minorities, And Pushing Islamophobia to Get Europe to Do It Too

 Malaysia and Indonesia Are Bucking the Global Trend on Democracy

 ‘Muslim Lifestyle’ Disputed Too Much Now, Malaysian Ex-IGP Moans

 Police beef up security in Bogor mosque despite cancelled Islamic caliphate gathering

 DAP opposing monarchs by turning down datukships, Perak PAS chief claims

 PAS, Umno to hold joint rally against ICERD next month

 Nahdlatul Ulama calls on Supreme Court to release Nuril


South Asia

 Bangladesh: Political Parties Are Patronising Communal Forces

 Taliban Militants Suffer Heavy Casualties in Ghazni Airstrikes

 Key Taliban commanders among 7 detained by Afghan Commandos in Takhar

 Gen. Dunford says Taliban ‘are not losing’ in Afghanistan

 Afghan official: Taliban target police checkpoint, killing 5



 Israeli Sources Admit Hamas Possesses Game-Changing Missiles

 Iran Says Ready to Fight Terror on Pakistani Soil

 Coalition intercepts, destroys three Houthi ballistic missiles targeting Marib

 Houthi militias storm houses belonging to a member of Yemen negotiating team

 Iran has devised various mechanisms to counter US sanctions: Diplomat

 Iraq must stand firm against foreign meddlers: Ayatollah Khamenei

 Five Saudi-paid Sudanese troopers slain in Yemeni army offensive

 Turkey frees eight after raids over jailed activist



 Why Muslim-Muslim Ticket Remains Major Hurdle for el-Rufai in Kaduna

 Nigerians again wage protest rally to call for Zakzaky's release

 Boko Haram spox killed in NE Nigeria: Army

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Free Mosque Tours in Dubai to Teach More about Islamic Culture

November 17, 2018

The aim of the tour is to demystify any misconceptions they may be having about Islamic and Arabic culture.

Have you ever wondered what Muslims do at the mosque or what a mosque is?

In an initiative for both tourists and residents, the Islamic Information Centre (IIC) has launched a free-for-all 'mosque experience' where they are inviting people of all faiths and nationalities to attend their weekly tours of one of the most beautiful mosques in Dubai. The aim of the tour is to demystify any misconceptions they may be having about Islamic and Arabic culture.

The free mosque tour is conducted at the Masjid Mohammad Bin Ahmed Al Mulla in Dubai Marina every Monday from 10am to 11am. Tuesdays are set for bookings from schools, giving students a chance to learn and know more about the Islamic culture, prayers and mosque etiquettes. Visitors can book their slot for the tour simply by registering for free on

Cherryl, a Sri Lankan resident, said: "Even though I have been living here in Dubai for five years now, today was the first time I ever understood the concept of Islam and saw a mosque from inside."

Many of the visitors even wore traditional dresses - abaya and kandoora - to get a more immersive experience of the culture.

Lewis Bullock, head of cultural communications at the IIC, Dubai (part of Dar Al Ber Society) who led the tour at the mosque, said: "We have had a very good response for this initiative that is now in its fifth week. Although a lot of people may have visited various mosques and gotten a chance to admire its architectural beauty, we at the IIC aim to go a bit deeper and explain to people what exactly we Muslims do in the mosque, the etiquettes of a mosque, and how we pray."

What's in store for visitors

The tour started with one of the volunteers demonstrating how Muslims complete their ablution. The visitors were then shown the architectural beauty of the mosque before sitting down for a brief talk on Islam and its precepts.

Some of the questions asked by the visitors included what is the right age of children to start their prayers in Islam; why women wear hijab; is the call of prayers same across the world; why is there a separate section for men and women in the mosque; and what is the importance of Friday prayers.

UK nationals Paul and Ruth, who were on a visit to the UAE, said they were "delighted at their first ever mosque experience".

Donning the traditional dress, Paul said: "We learned how pure this beautiful religion Islam is, which is often not presented in the right way especially by the Western media. We will always cherish this special experience that has totally changed our perception of Islam."



West Wants To Annihilate Our Islamic Identity: Maulana Fazlur Rehman

November 18, 2018

LAHORE:  The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has said after Sindh, the people of Punjab have also given their verdict against any amendment in the blasphemy law.

He said this while congratulating the various parties and workers who participated in the million march led by Fazl, who is also ameer of his eponymous Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F).

“People who participated in the march out of love of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) should be congratulated,” he said adding that international powers cannot remove this love from the hearts of Muslims.

“A Muslim could tolerate everything but cannot accept even the slightest disrespect towards the Holy Prophet (PBUH),” he said adding the world powers want to annihilate the Islamic identity of Pakistan.

Opposition parties have shown faith in me, says Fazl

“Their main goal is to get Islamic clauses abolished from the Constitution of Pakistan and are now increasing pressure to achieve that.” He alleged that the current government was giving in to this pressure rather than defying it.

The JUI-F chief also said nation would not allow any change in blasphemy laws adding: “Protection of the doctrine of finality of prophet-hood and Islamic clauses in the Constitution is an essential part of our struggle”.

He said his party will continue its peaceful struggle for the implementation of Islamic system in the country, which, he said, is the only way to solve problems faced by the nation.



Trump Says No Plan to Extradite Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen to Turkey

18 November 2018

US President Donald Trump said Saturday that he had no plans to extradite Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, who is accused by Ankara of orchestrating a failed 2016 coup attempt.

“It’s not under consideration,” Trump told reporters shortly before departing on a daylong trip to California to meet with officials and victims, as well as firefighters battling the deadly wildfires there.

“We are doing very well with Turkey,” Trump said. “I get along very well with the president (Recep Tayyip Erdogan). He’s a friend of mine. He’s a strong man, a tough man and a smart man, so whatever we can do, we’ll do... but at this point? No.”

US-Turkish relations have recently been strained, but they warmed up after Ankara’s release in October of American pastor Andrew Brunson.

The fate of Gulen, who has denied any involvement in the attempted coup in Turkey and whom Washington has repeatedly refused to extradite, remains a central point of tension between the countries.

Gulen’s teachings inspired the growth of a moderate, pro-Western Islamic movement that includes scores of schools, hospitals and businesses worldwide.

He left Turkey for the US in the 1990s after being accused of calling for the overthrow of the government.

He has denied the charges, and lives with supporters in a rural compound in northeastern Pennsylvania.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert had earlier rejected the NBC report that the White House was seeking a way to extradite Gulen, who reportedly has a US green card.



Saudis fund hardline British TV station the Islam Channel

November 18 2018

The broadcasting regulator Ofcom is investigating a Muslim television station that is accused of promoting divisive and hardline views in Britain. Ofcom said it was “conducting an assessment of content on Islam Channel to determine whether it complies with the broadcasting code”.

The station, which claims it has 1m viewers daily, reaches 59% of British Muslims, according to government research reported in 2008. There are no recent independent figures.

The move comes as a Sunday Times investigation shows that the channel has been supported by Saudi money. The Ofcom probe follows routine monitoring of its output. The regulator has censured the channel in the past for political bias, advocating violence against women and supporting marital rape.

Its presenters include Haitham al- Haddad, a preacher described…



Ayodhya Seers Assure Muslims, Offer Shelter in Temples

Nov 18, 2018

FAIZABAD: Reacting to reports of Muslims of Ayodhya feeling unsafe due to gathering of VHP activists for Dharm Sabha on November 25, the seers and temple mahants have assured support and security to Muslims and said that Muslims can take shelter in temples if they feel any insecurity.

Assuring Muslims of their security, Hindu seers said that the doors of temples are open for Muslims to take shelter in case they feel any threat or insecurity.

Mahant Dharam Das, a litigant of Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit case, said Muslims should not feel insecure in any situation and the sadhus will ensure their protection.

Mahant Raj Kumar Das, priest of Ram Ballabha Kunj temple, said, "Muslim brothers need not worry. Ayodhya-Faizabad are cities of Ganga Jamuni tehzeeb, so no one will be harmed. And my temple is open for Muslims any time."

Ayodhya mayor Rishikesh Upadhyay also assured safety to Muslims and said, "The doors of my house are open for Muslims.

They are welcome to my house if they feel any insecurity."

"In 1992, after Babri Masjid demolition, many temples in Ayodhya had given shelter to Muslims," said Mahant Jugal Kishore Sharan Shastri, priest of Saryu Kunj temple.



Arab World


43 civilians killed by anti-ISIS coalition strikes in east Syria

17 November 2018

Air strikes by the US-led coalition Saturday killed 43 people, mostly civilians, in a holdout of the ISIS extremist group in eastern Syria, a Britain-based monitor said.

Seventeen children were among 36 ISIS family members killed in Abu Husn village of Deir Ezzor province near the Iraqi border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Another seven victims had not yet been identified as either civilians or ISIS fighters, it said.

The US-led coalition has been backing a Kurdish-Arab alliance called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting to expel the extremist from the pocket around Abu Husn.

“It’s the highest death toll in coalition air strikes since the SDF launched its attack against the ISIS pocket” in September, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

The coalition has repeatedly said it does its utmost to prevent civilian casualties.

“The avoidance of civilian casualties is our highest priority when conducting strikes against legitimate military targets with precision munitions,” spokesman Sean Ryan told AFP this week.

ISIS overran large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” in land it controlled.

But the extremist group has since lost most of it to various offensives in both countries.

In Syria, the group has seen its presence reduced to parts of the vast Badia desert and the pocket in Deir Ezzor.

The coalition has since 2014 acknowledged direct responsibility for over 1,100 civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq, but rights groups put the number killed much higher.

In another military development, Russia has threatened the Syrian opposition forces after they failed to meet a deadline set up by Russian and Turkish troops to enforce a new demilitarized zone in the city of Idlib.

The buffer zone required the withdrawal and separation of extremists from moderate opposition forces.



Regime forces seize last IS pocket in southern Syria

November 18, 2018

BEIRUT: Syrian regime forces on Saturday took back control of the militant Islamic State (IS) group’s last holdout in southern Syria after months of fighting, a war monitor said.

In another IS pocket in eastern Syria, meanwhile, air strikes by the US-led coalition killed 43 people, mostly civilians, the monitor said.

Regime forces retook Tulul al-Safa, between the provinces of Damascus and Sweida, “after IS fighters withdrew from it and headed east into the Badia desert”, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Regime forces have been fighting the militants in the area since a deadly July attack on the Druze minority in Sweida province.

In recent weeks, air strikes on the Tulul al-Safa pocket had increased and hundreds of regime fighters were sent as reinforcements, the Syrian Observatory said.

The jihadists’ withdrawal was likely “under a deal with the regime forces” after weeks of encirclement and air raids, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

State news agency SANA reported the Syrian forces had made “a great advance in Tulul al-Safa” and said they were combing the area for any remaining militants.

In the July 25 attack, IS killed more than 250 people, most of them civilians, in a wave of suicide bombings, shootings, and stabbings across Sweida province.

The jihadists also kidnapped around 30 people — mostly women and children — during the deadliest assault on Syria’s Druze community in the seven-year civil war.

Twenty-three of the hostages have since returned home, while the remainder appear to have died or been executed by the militants.

Air strikes

Seventeen children were among 36 IS family members killed in the village of Abu Husn in Deir Ezzor province near the Iraqi border, the Observatory said.

Another seven bodies had not yet been identified as either civilians or IS fighters, it said.

The US-led coalition has been backing a Kurdish-Arab alliance called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting to expel the militants from the pocket around Abu Husn.

“It’s the highest death toll in coalition air strikes since the SDF launched its attack against the IS pocket” in September, the Observatory chief said.

The coalition has repeatedly said it does its utmost to prevent civilian casualties.

“The avoidance of civilian casualties is our highest priority when conducting strikes against legitimate military targets with precision munitions,” spokesman Sean Ryan said this week.

IS overran large swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” in land it controlled. But the jihadist group has since lost most of it to various offensives in both countries.

In Syria, the group has seen its presence reduced to parts of the vast Badia desert and the pocket in Deir Ezzor.

The SDF in September announced an assault to oust the militants from the eastern pocket, which includes the town of Hajin and the village of Al-Shaafa.

The alliance made slow advances until last month when tough militant resistance pushed the SDF out of the whole of the IS pocket.

Following the setback, hundreds of Kurdish fighters were deployed to the area’s outskirts as reinforcements. But the SDF then put the offensive on hold to protest Turkish shelling of Kurdish militia positions in northern Syria.

Turkey considers the Kurdish militia leading the SDF to be “terrorists”, while its Nato ally the United States has depended on them to fight IS in Syria.

On Sunday, the SDF said it was resuming its offensive against IS after “intensive contacts” with the coalition and “strong diplomatic activity” to defuse the crisis.

Since 2014, the coalition has acknowledged direct responsibility for over 1,100 civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq, but rights groups put the number killed much higher.

Full report at:



Turkish Official: Khashoggi's Head in Riyadh

Nov 17, 2018

The Arabic-language Khalij Online newspaper quoted an unnamed Turkish official as saying on Saturday that Khashoggi was beheaded and his head was sent to Riyadh and other parts of his dismembered body are in Turkey.

"After killing and dismembering Khashoggi's body by the Saudi team, it is not yet clear how his head was transferred to Riyadh, either via plane or via road or sea," it added.

The Turkish official referred to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's special bodyguard Mahir Mutrib, saying that he was one of the main culprits behind the crime and his luggage was not checked at Turkey's airport as he has diplomatic passport and his private plane was not inspected due to diplomatic impunity.

Khashoggi, a frequent contributor to The Washington Post, was killed on October 2 inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

After weeks of denying involvement, the Kingdom admitted Khashoggi had been killed inside the consulate but claimed the Saudi royal family had no prior knowledge of any plot to murder the journalist.

So far, 18 people --- including security officers --- have been arrested in Saudi Arabia in connection with the murder.

Full report at:



Islamic State loses holdout in south Syria, faces deadly air raids in east

18 Nov 2018

BEIRUT: Syrian regime forces retook control of the last southern holdout of the Islamic State militant group on Saturday (Nov 17), as a monitor said air strikes killed dozens in a remaining militant pocket in the country's east.

More than seven years into Syria's grinding civil war, multiple forces are battling to push IS out of its remaining scraps of territory in the country.

On Saturday, regime forces retook the southern area of Tulul al-Safa as the jihadists pulled back into the desert after months of fighting, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Pro-government fighters regained control of the volcanic plateau between the provinces of Damascus and Sweida "after IS fighters withdrew from it and headed east into the Badia desert", Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

The withdrawal likely came "under a deal with the regime forces" after weeks of encirclement and air raids, he said.

In recent weeks, air strikes on the Tulul al-Safa pocket had increased and hundreds of regime fighters were sent as reinforcements, the Observatory said.

State news agency SANA reported regime forces had made "a great advance in Tulul al-Safa" and said they were combing the area for any remaining militants.

That victory has whittled down the militant group's territorial control to a single pocket in the east of the country, where it faces a separate assault by US-backed forces.


A Kurdish-Arab alliance supported by a US-led coalition has been fighting to expel IS from that far eastern patch near the Iraqi border since September.

The Observatory said coalition air strikes early Saturday on the village of Abu al-Husn in Deir Ezzor province killed 43 people, including 36 family members of IS fighters.

"It's the highest death toll in coalition air strikes since the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched its attack against the IS pocket" in September, Abdel Rahman said.

Seventeen of those killed were children, he said, while seven of the dead remained unidentified.

A spokesman for the US-led coalition confirmed strikes in the area of Abu Husn, but said they had not harmed any non-combattants.

"No civilian casualties are associated with the strikes in question," spokesman Sean Ryan told AFP.

"The coalition takes great measures to identify and strike appropriate ISIS targets in order to avoid non-combatant casualties," he said, using another acronym for IS.

The Observatory says coalition air raids have killed 234 civilians including 82 children since Sep 10, when the SDF launched the offensive on the eastern IS holdout.

It says 625 militants have been killed in strikes and clashes in the area during the same period.

The SDF assault was slowed by a fierce militant fightback, and then briefly put on hold to protest Turkish shelling of Kurdish militia positions in northern Syria.


SDF commander Redur Khalil said Saturday that operations were ongoing.

"There has been an advance on the ground in the past days but it is a careful advance due to fields of landmines, trenches, tunnels and barricades set up by IS," he told AFP.

IS overran large swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a "caliphate" in land it controlled.

But the militant group has since lost most of it to various offensives in both countries.

Regime forces had been fighting IS in Tulul al-Safa since a deadly militant attack in July.

That fighting has killed 240 regime fighters and 420 IS militants, the Observatory says.

In the Jul 25 attack, IS killed more than 260 people, most of them civilians, in a wave of suicide bombings, shootings, and stabbings across Sweida province in the bloodiest assault on the Druze minority of the war.

Followers of a secretive offshoot of Islam, the Druze are considered heretics by the Sunni extremists of IS.

Syria's war has killed more than 360,000 people since it erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

Full report at:



ISIL Withdraws from More Positions in Sweida Desert under Syrian Army Attacks

Nov 17, 2018

The army forces, backed up by the artillery and missile units, engaged in heavy fighting with ISIL in several flanks in the Eastern desert of Sweida and managed to advance 2 km against the terrorists Northeast of Toloul al-Safa.

In the meantime, other units of the army drove ISIL out of several key positions in Qabr Sheikh Hossein region, West of Toloul al-Safa.

Also, the army men exchanged heavy fire with the ISIL and managed to seize military control over Tal al-Marati region in the Eastern desert of Sweida.

An army officer said more than a dozen terrorists were killed and dozens more wounded and their positions and military hardware were damaged in the army operation.  

Earlier today, the army forces engaged in fierce clashes with ISIL in several flanks in the Eastern desert of Sweida and captured more areas in Toloul al-Safa.

In the meantime, the army's artillery and missile units pounded the movements and positions of the ISIL in Toloul al-Safa, killing almost 20 terrorists and wounding several more.

Full report at:



Terrorists Intensify Attacks on Syrian Army in Demilitarized Zone

Nov 17, 2018

The army's artillery and missile units, deployed in the small town of Bazam in Northern Hama, opened heavy fire at a group of terrorists near the town of Morek, inflicting major losses on the militants.

The army's artillery attack came after the terrorist group's snipers targeted the Syrian soldiers.

Other units of the army engaged in heavy fighting with another group of terrorists and repelled their attack in al-Sarminiyah in Northwestern Hama.

The terrorists suffered a number of casualties and failed to prevail over the army positions.

In the meantime, other army soldiers targeted terrorists' movements in the village of Abu Ra'eidah and in the towns of Hasraya, al-Latamina, al-Zakat, Ma'arkabah, Tal al-Sakhar, and al-Hamimiat, inflicting major losses on them.

Meanwhile, a Syrian military source pointed to the terrorists' intensifying attacks from the demilitarized zone and Ankara's failure in forcing the terrorists to leave the zone, and said the Syrian Army has no other option but to wage a major assault on the terrorists in the Northern and Northwestern parts of the country.

Colonel Mar'ei Hamdan, a Syrian military expert, was quoted by the Arabic-language website of Sputnik news agency as saying on Monday that Tahrir al-Sham is in control of nearly 70% of towns and villages in Idlib province and makes provocative moves against the Syrian army, adding that the army's commitment to decrease tensions is not lasting forever.

He added that the Syrian army has so far repelled all attacks by terrorists against its positions and inflicted heavy damages on them, noting that the army is now necessitated to come out of the defensive mood to retake control of Idlib.

Hamdan said that Tahrir al-Sham will resort to a full-scale military operation against the Syrian and Russian armies soon, after rejecting the Sochi agreement last October, which leaves no room for ceasefire or disarmament anymore, and underlined that the Syrian army's battle against Tahrir al-Sham is inevitable.

Meantime, the Turkey-backed Ahrar al-Sham and National Liberation Front (NLF) terrorist groups has also dismissed the Russian-Turkish Sochi agreement and is preparing for military operations against the army in Northern Syria, calling for a coalition with Tahrir al-Sham.

Tahrir al-Sham and other allied terrorist groups have not left the demilitarized zone two months after the Sochi agreement and have instead reinvigorated their strongholds and targeted the army positions every day.

Relevant reports said last Sunday that the Turkey-backed NLF had put its gunmen on alert to launch a heavy offensive against the Syrian army in the demilitarized zone in Idlib province.

The Arabic-language al-Watan reported that the Turkey-backed NLF had kept its fighters in and outside the demilitarized zone, envisioned in the Sochi Agreement, on alert for imminent war against the army.

Full report at:



Over two dozen Daesh remnants slain in Iraqi army airstrikes, ground operations

Nov 17, 2018

More than two dozen members of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group have been killed as Iraqi air forces and government troops launched separate counter-terrorism operations across the crisis-hit Arab country to flush out the last remnants of the extremist outfit.

Major Alaa al-Saadi from Diyala Operations Command said four Daesh Takfiris were killed when Iraqi military aircraft targeted a militant hideout in Hamrin basin, situated 90 kilometers north of Baqubah.

Saadi added that Iraqi forces were continuing their surveillance operations across the area to track remaining Daesh militants and destroy their positions.

Separately, a security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the independent Arabic-language National Iraqi News Agency that members of the Federal Police force, backed by Iraqi Air Force jets, carried out numerous operations in the Badush and Hatra districts of the northern province of Nineveh, killing over 20 Daesh terrorists in the process.

The source warned that sleeper cells of the extremist group were still active in some parts of Nineveh.

Former Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi declared the end of military operations against Daesh in the Arab country on December 9, 2017.

On July 10 that year, he formally declared victory over Daesh in Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold in Iraq.

In the run-up to Mosul's liberation, Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters had made sweeping gains against Daesh.

Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January 2017 after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19 last year.

Full report at:



Russia: 6,000 US-backed militants residing in Syrian refugee camp

Nov 17, 2018

A Russian Defense Ministry official says the US is to be held responsible for the dire humanitarian situation in Syria's Rukban camp, warning that about 6,000 US-backed militants are currently residing besides civilian refugees at the shelter.

Yury Tarasov, the Russian representative to the Geneva-based task forces on ceasefire and humanitarian issues, made the remarks at a Friday conference about issues relating to the return of Syrian refugees.

He said Washington had occupied a region on the Syrian-Jordanian border where the refugee camp was situated.

The camp lies within a 55-kilometer zone controlled by the US around its military base in the Syrian town of At-Tanf.

"The whole responsibility for the outrageous situation in Rukban rests with the United States, as it occupies the territory illegally and it uses the humanitarian problems of the refugee camp to legitimize its military presence in the south of Syria," Tarasov said.

He further expressed Moscow's readiness to cooperate with international organizations on resolving the Rukban humanitarian crisis and evacuating the refugees willing to leave the shelter.

"As of today, one of the most urgent problems is the situation in the Rukban refugee camp, which is in an extremely difficult humanitarian situation. I want to note that the total number of temporarily displaced people in it is about 50,000 people, of which about 6,000 are militants of the Maghawir al-Thawra group controlled by the United States," he added.

Additionally, Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev, the head of the Russian National Defense Control Center, told the conference that the situation in the Syrian refugee camp reminds one of the "World War II concentration camps."

He also complained about the silence of the international community and the media blackout regarding the Rukban situation.

"How have this become possible in the modern world?… Why does the global community, so much concerned about human rights, stubbornly keeps silent about the humanitarian catastrophe of the Rukban camp residents, while they are in fact hostages?" he asked.

Meanwhile, Russian Health Ministry spokesman Sergey Grabchak raised concerns about a "high mortality rate" caused by infectious diseases as well as the absence of medical assistance at the Syrian refugee camp.

"Over the past month alone, more than 100 people died in Rukban. I confirm the difficult, disastrous situation in Rukban," he said.

Over the past few months, Syrian troops, backed by the Russian air force and Iranian military advisors, have made sweeping gains against Takfiri elements who have been wreaking havoc in the Arab country since 2011.

Full report at:



In Iraq, bloody tribal custom now classed as ‘terrorism’

November 18, 2018

BAGHDAD: A bloody, age-old custom used by Iraq’s powerful tribes to mete out justice has come under fire, with authorities classifying it as a “terrorist act” punishable by death.

For centuries, Iraqi clans have used their own system to resolve disputes, with tribal dignitaries bringing together opposing sides to mediate in de facto “hearings.”

If one side failed to attend such a meeting, the rival clan would fire on the absentee’s home or that of fellow tribesmen, a practice known as the “degga ashairiya” or “tribal warning.”

But in an age when Iraq’s vast rural areas and built-up cities alike are flooded with weapons outside state control, the “degga” may be deadlier than ever.

A recent dispute between two young men in a teashop in the capital’s eastern district of Sadr City escalated to near-fatal proportions, leaving a 40-year-old policeman with a broken hip and severely damaged abdomen.

His cousin Abu Tayba said the policeman was “wounded in a stray bullet during a ‘degga’ on a nearby home.”

“Weeks after the incident, he’s still in the hospital, hovering between life and death,” Tayba told AFP.

Even in Baghdad, disputes often involve machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, the city’s military command warned a top Iraqi court recently.

That body, the country’s Superior Magistrate Council, issued a decision last week classifying “deggas” as “terrorist acts” — and therefore warranting the death penalty — because of their impact on public safety.

A few days later, it announced it would take legal action against three people accused of targeting a home in Al-Adhamiyah, north of Baghdad, with the deadly custom.

In Iraq, a country of 39 million people, clan origin and family name can carry weight in securing a job, finding romance, and gathering political support.

They can also interfere in the work of the state, as tribal structures in some areas can be more powerful than government institutions.

Last year, Iraq’s tribes and the ministries of interior and justice pledged to work closer together to impose the law, but “deggas” seem to have hindered such cooperation.

Raed Al-Fraiji, the head of a tribal council in the southern province of Basra, told AFP the warnings have become commonplace.

“This happens every day. Yesterday it happened twice. The day before, three times,” he said.

“Two months ago, a domestic dispute between a husband and wife turned into an armed attack on the husband’s home. The exchange of fire killed one person and wounded three.”

Fraiji said tribal influence and practices were growing because the state was seen as unreliable.

“For an Iraqi citizen, the law has become weak. Meanwhile, tribes impose themselves by force.”

“Iraq is like a jungle — so a citizen will turn to a tribe to find solutions to their problems.”

The country has been ravaged by years of conflict since the US-led invasion in 2003 that removed strongman Saddam Hussein and led to the rise of militias.

A decade later, the Daesh group overran much of Iraq and was only ousted from its urban strongholds across the country late last year.

Years of instability have left many of Iraq’s communities flush with weapons and largely out of the state’s reach, contributing to a preference for tribal mediation methods.

“The government is responsible for the increase in tribal conflict and of ‘degga’ cases,” said Adnan Al-Khazaali, a tribal leader in Baghdad’s Sadr City.

“Most of the young men today are armed and even the security forces cannot stand in their way.”

Tribal leaders and government officials alike are clinging to the hope that the new ruling could change things.

“These incidents are continually happening, and are often causing casualties,” interior ministry spokesman Saad Maan told AFP.

“Court rulings and their implementation,” Maan said, could be the only way to secure peace.

Back in Basra, the head of the local human rights commission estimated around a dozen people were wounded or killed in “deggas” last year.

“These incidents threatens social peace,” said Mahdi Al-Tamimi.

“It’s sad and worrying, and cannot be eliminated without a solid and effective law.”

But Fraiji, known in Basra for his relatively progressive views, feared the court’s ruling would not be enough to take on Iraq’s powerful clans.

Full report at:





President urges Ulema to highlight true essence of Islam

17 November,2018

LAHORE (Web Desk) – President Dr Arif Alvi on Saturday urged Ulema to highlight true essence of Islam by projecting its polite and peaceful aspects.

Speaking to a delegation of Ulema representing different sects at Governor House in Lahore on Saturday, he reiterated the Government s determination to protect Namoos-e-Risalat.

He said that the government will consult Ulema to play their effective role for ensuring that Tahafuz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat and Blasphemy Laws are not misused.

He urged the Ulema to fully cooperate with the government to ensure that sacred notions are not misused to create conflicts, aggression and destruction of peace in the country.

The President said the government was not considering any change in Clause 295 C of Blasphemy Laws, nor was it considering any proposal to recognize Israel.

He said the process of registration of Mosques and madaras will be smoothened and facilitated as per laws so that their registration process gets completed soon.

Alama Ayub Safdar on behalf of Ulema s delegation assured that Ulema will extend all possible help to ensure peace in the country. He said they will cooperate effectively to make Pakistan a welfare Islamic state.

Meanwhile, Punjab Senior Minister Abdul Aleem Khan hosted a lunch in honor of Dr Arif Alvi at his residence which was also attended by Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar and the newly elected Senator Seemi Eizdi.

Abdul Aleem welcomed President on his first tour to Lahore and apprised him about the new local bodies system in the province.

He also discussed Prime Minister s 100-days plan and success achieved in the encroachment drive in the province.

President Dr Arif Alvi thanked the Senior Minister for his traditional hospitality.

Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar was also present on the occasion.



JUI-S SaysWon’t Allow Exhumation of Sami’s Body

November 18, 2018

NOWSHERA: Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Sami (JUI-S) on Saturday said it would not allow exhumation of the body of Maulana Samiul Haq for a postmortem as police had got permission from a sessions judge of Rawalpindi in this regard.

“We have not yet received any official or court order regarding exhumation of the body of Shaheed Maulana Samiul Haq, but why will we allow the postmortem today which was refused yesterday (immediately after the incident),” said JUI-S provincial chief Maulana Yousaf Shah.

He said that they had not received any notice regarding postmortem, adding it was the right of heirs of a family to allow police to conduct it or not. He said that in this connection the decision of Shariat Court was also available that the government could not force a family for the postmortem.

The JUI-S leader said that the history showed that the government had never arrested any culprit on the basis of postmortems. He said that the government had failed to arrest the killers so far and now was trying to hide its failure on the pretext of postmortem.

Full report at:



Two killed, 10 injured in bomb blast in Pakistan's Karachi city

Nov 17, 2018

KARACHI: At least two people were killed and 10 others injured as a bomb exploded near a flyover in Pakistan's port city of Karachi on Friday. Some vendors were selling fruit and other items of daily use near the flyover at Quaidabad locality of the city when the bomb went off, damaging buildings and triggering panic in the densely populated area, police said.

Officials investigating the blast said that at least 500 grams of explosives were used in the home-made explosive device, the Express Tribune reported.

The blast killed two teenagers, aged 18 and 16, and injured 10 others, officials said.

Soon after the blast, Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) officials reached the site of the incident and defused a second bomb, with at least two kilograms of explosives.

The officials said that the blast was pre-planned and the objective was to draw first responders and people to the blast site after the first bomb exploded and then detonate the second bomb.

"If the second explosion had happened, the losses would have been much higher," an official said.

The 10 injured have been shifted to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) for treatment.

Full report at:



$1bn Saudi assistance to reach SBP tomorrow, says Umar

Mubarak Zeb Khan

November 18, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Amid hopes of reaching an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a basic economic policy framework programme, Pakistan is likely to receive the first tranche of $1 billion under the balance of payments support from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia within the next couple of days, boosting the country’s plummeting foreign currency reserves.

The money would hopefully reach the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) by Monday, Finance Minister Asad Umar told Dawn in an exclusive talk. He said, “My Saudi Arabian counterpart has given me an assurance in this regard.”

The second and third tranche will be received over the next two months.

Last month Saudi Arabia had agreed to provide a $6bn package to Pakistan to support its ailing economy. The package included $3bn balance of payments support and another $3bn in deferred payments on oil import.

Mr Umar said the facility of deferred payment on oil import would mature by next month. However, the finance minister, who sounded very confident that an immediate balance of payments crisis had been overcome with the help of bilateral assistance from Saudi Arabia and China, did not give any figure. “This will be an unprecedented help from China,” the minister said, adding that he had committed not to disclose details before it was finalised. “I will not divulge the details at this moment,” he reiterated.

He claimed that the only reason of going to the IMF was to accelerate the pace of economic growth and not to seek loan to fill any gap. He explained that he was not negotiating terms of a loan but of a ‘broader economic reforms package’.

The available IMF funding quota for Pakistan is approximately $6-6.5 billion.

The government had taken several steps including reduction in expenditures to bring drastic cut in the current account deficit. “We will reduce the current account deficit to $12bn by the end of June 2019, almost $7bn reduction,” the minister declared, explaining that this was the government target for the first year.

He said the IMF package would play a small part in filling the balance of payments gap directly though it would pave the way for getting loans from multilateral donors and commercial creditors.

Pakistan was negotiating the basic economic policy framework agreement with the IMF, he said. “This will be our basic achievement which we are hoping to reach by Nov 20,” he said, adding that details could be negotiated later.

He said there was no difference of opinion about putting economy on the right course with the IMF support. The only issues that could come up during the talks were related to ‘pace of adjustments’ and ‘pace of burden’.

“Our direction is very clear that we will place burden only on higher income individuals,” he said. It was common understanding that IMF would ask for more revenue to reduce fiscal deficit, reducing line losses in gas and power sector and increase it further, he said. But it would be the government decision whether to pass on the burden, he added.

“I will not hide behind IMF if I believe that certain measures are required to fix economic issues,” he said, claiming that both sides had already reached an agreement on basic facts and also exchanged the frameworks.

On Monday, the minister said that he would be in a better position to see whether there was a larger agreement or gaps still existed in the negotiations. He clarified that it would be the government decision how to reduce the fiscal deficit.

Mr Umar admitted that increase in revenue was one of the major areas of discussion. He made it clear that the shape and quantum of total additional revenue would be decided by the government and not the IMF.

About privatisation, he said Pakistan and IMF had no differences on structural reforms, as his government had identified seven companies for privatisation out of 50 to 60 state-owned enterprises placed on active privatisation list for many years. Even if LNG company was privatised, its cumulative impact would be more than the whole five years privatisation progamme of the previous government, he claimed.

Full report at:



Law enforcers see sub-nationalist groups behind Quaidabad blast

Imtiaz Ali

November 18, 2018

KARACHI: Police have launched investigations into the Quaidabad bomb blast, which killed two teenage boys and wounded 12 other persons on Friday night, and law enforcers said that their assessment suggested involvement of sub-nationalist groups in the deadly incident, it emerged on Saturday.

Two teenagers were killed and 12 other persons, mostly vendors, sustained injuries when a bomb planted under a pushcart went off on Friday night near the Quaidabad flyover.

The dead and wounded were shifted to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre.

Ten of the injured persons were discharged after first aid, said Dr Seemin Jamali, executive director of the JPMC.

Two seriously injured persons were admitted for treatment. One of them had sustained injuries in the head, but his condition was improving. Another injured person’s leg was amputated to save his life. He was badly injured in the blast and was shifted to the intensive care unit of the hospital, added Dr Jamali.

The funeral of one of the dead teenagers, Ali Hasan, was held in the city on Saturday, which was attended by politicians and officials. He was stated to be the only brother of seven sisters.


Police’s Counter-Terrorism Department has taken over investigations from the local police and launched their own probe into it.

Sources familiar with the preliminary investigations of the case told Dawn that the modus operandi and type of explosive material indicated the involvement of sub-nationalist groups, who may be belonging to Sindh or Balochistan.

Regarding a possible motive for the blast, a security official on condition of anonymity told Dawn that it had been observed that the Sindhi or Baloch sub-nationalist groups tended to carry out terror acts “to make their presence felt” whenever an important day or event was expected to arrive.

The sources said that it was a remote-controlled device, weighing around two kilograms.

The law enforcers found another improvised explosive device at the crime scene, which was defused by the police’s Bomb Disposal Squad officials. It also weighed around two kilograms and was also a remote-controlled device.

The security official said they suspected that another bomb was planted to cause maximum damage to human life when law enforcers were supposed to arrive there to inspect the place, but it was defused on time by the bomb experts.

‘A conspiracy to sabotage peace’

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Saturday visited the JPMC and inquired about the health of the persons injured in the Quaidabad blast. He directed the hospital administration to provide proper health facilities to the wounded.

Talking to the media on the occasion, Mr Shah said such incidents were a conspiracy to disturb the peace. He said he had sought an immediate report from Inspector General of Police Dr Syed Kaleem Imam.

Answering a question about lack of proper forensic laboratory in Sindh, Mr Shah said he hoped that such a forensic lab would be established here soon.

He said the Sindh government was assessing why Punjab’s forensic lab leaked information to the media about findings of the samples collected from the home of two minor brothers who died from eating “poisonous food” in the city last week.

He said at this stage, it would be premature to comment on the death of two minor brothers till a complete report is received.

The CM expressed his concern about the prime minister’s reported statement of taking U-turns and apprehended that it might adversely affect foreign investment in the country.


Meanwhile, IGP Imam praised the 12 BDS and CTD officials who defused another bomb near the Quaidabad flyover on Friday night and announced Rs50,000 for each official.

Full report at:



Govt to consult ulema regarding blasphemy laws: President Alvi

Nov 18, 2018

LAHORE: President Dr Arif Alvi met a delegation of ulemas representing different sects at the Governor House Lahore where he announced that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government will consult the religious scholars regarding the country’s blasphemy laws.

Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar was also present at the meeting. The president stressed the need to highlight the true essence of Islam while projecting Islam’s inherited positive, polite and peaceful aspects.

President Alvi stated that the federal government was the determined guardian to protect Namoos-e-Risalat.

“[PTI] government will consult ulemas to play their effective role so that Tahafuz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat and blasphemy Laws are not misused. Ulemas should fully cooperate with the government to ensure that sacred notions are not misused to create conflicts, aggression and destruction of peace in the country,” the president, according to a press statement, making it clear that the government has no plans of reviewing the clause-295-C of the blasphemy laws.

Alama Ayub Safdar, on behalf of the ulema delegation, assured that they will extend all possible help to ensure peace of the country and will cooperate effectively to make Pakistan an Islamic welfare state.

The president further said that the government is not considering any proposal to accept Israel as a state. The president further said that the process to register mosques and madaras will be smoothened and facilitated as per laws so that the registration process is completed soon.

Full report at:



North America


US has made no 'final conclusion' on Khashoggi killing

November 18, 2018

The US government has not reached a final conclusion over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the State Department said Saturday following reports that the CIA had held the Saudi Crown Prince responsible.

"Recent reports indicating that the US government has made a final conclusion are inaccurate," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

"There remain numerous unanswered questions with respect to the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. The State Department will continue to seek all relevant facts," she said.

"In the meantime, we will continue to consult Congress, and work with other nations to hold accountable those involved in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi."

She added that Washington had already taken "decisive measures".

"We will continue to explore additional measures to hold those accountable who planned, led and were connected to the murder. And, we will do that while maintaining the important strategic relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia."

The remarks followed reports that the Central Intelligence Agency had determined Saudi Arabia ordered the killing of Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, a Post columnist, had gone to the consulate to obtain documents necessary to marry his Turkish fiancee.

Saudi Arabia’s US ambassador on Friday dismissed a report by The Washington Post (WP) claiming that that CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of Mr Khashoggi in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul last month.



Saudi Ambassador to the US disputes Washington Post account of Khashoggi murder

November 17, 2018

Saudi Arabia’s US ambassador has denied a report claiming that the CIA has concluded the Saudi Crown Prince was involved in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul last month.

The report on Friday by The Washington Post was written almost entirely using anonymous sources, including an unidentified US official.

The newspaper claimed there had been a phone call between the prince’s brother and Saudi ambassador to the US, Prince Khalid bin Salman, and Khashoggi, who was a contributing columnist to the paper.

It said Prince Khalid told Khashoggi that “he should go to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve the documents and gave him assurances that it would be safe to do so”, and claimed the call was made at the direction of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Prince Khalid took to Twitter on Friday to dispute the report.

“As we told The Washington Post the last contact I had with Mr Khashoggi was via text on Oct 26, 2017. I never talked to him by phone and certainly never suggested he go to Turkey for any reason. I ask the US government to release any information regarding this claim,” he said. “This is a serious accusation and should not be left to anonymous sources.”

Prince Khalid also said that the newspaper did not publish the full response sent to it by a Saudi embassy spokesperson in response to inquiries about the CIA’s alleged findings.

The full version, which he posted on Twitter, reiterates that he had never discussed “anything related to going to Turkey with Jamal”.

“The Ambassador met Jamal once in late September 2017 in person for a cordial discussion, and they communicated via text after the meeting,” the statement read.

“Prince Khalid bin Salman has never had any phone conversations with him. You are welcome to check the phone records and cell phone content to corroborate this, in which case, you would have to request it from Turkish authorities; as our Public Prosecutor has numerous times to no avail.”

The statement described the purported CIA assessment as false, and said that there was no concrete evidence to support these “speculations”.

Earlier on Thursday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince had "absolutely" nothing to do with Khashoggi's killing.

His comments came after Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor accused a rogue band of Saudi operatives of the murder.

In a statement on Thursday, the public prosecutor’s office said a team who were sent to Istanbul to return Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia, “forcibly restrained him and injected him with a large amount of a drug resulting in an overdose that led to his death.

“After the murder, the victim’s body was dismembered by the individuals that have committed the murder and was transferred outside the consulate building,” the office said.

Deputy public prosecutor Shaalan told reporters in Riyadh on Thursday that 11 out of 21 suspects detained on suspicion of involvement had been charged with murder.

Full report at:



Brazilian pilot embraces Islam while flying plane

November 18, 2018

A video of Brazilian pilot is going viral in which he is seen embracing Islam aboard a passenger aircraft.

"“We are here with pilot Amalo from Brazil. He will say the text of the Shahada during our flight to Taluka,” a man sitting in the cockpit can be heard saying."

According to Russian TV, Captain Amaolo was flying the plane above Saudi Arabia when he converted to Islam.

In the Video, he is reciting the Shahada, repeating after   the man who is not visible in the footage.

The report said the he recited the Islamic creed approximately 18000 feet in the air.

Thousands of people from Middle East alone has seen the video, according to the RT.

Full report at:



US 9/11 prosecutor details depth of torture, cruelty at CIA’s black-site prisons

Nov 18, 2018

Horrifying descriptions of how CIA and FBI agents tortured their captives -- caught for alleged links to terrorism in the US government’s so-called ‘war on terror’ effort following the Sept. 11, 2001 incidents – have been read aloud during a trial of prisoners held at the infamous Guantanamo military prison.

“An alleged plot mastermind was taken nude from interrogation to a medical officer, who put fluids up his rectum then returned him nude to interrogation. Some captives were kept like "cowering dogs," subjected to standing sleep deprivation, abdominal and facial slaps, in what one CIA agent called a "nightmare”,” US-based daily Miami Herald reported Friday, quoting statements made in the military court by 9/11 Prosecutor Jeffrey Groharing.

According to the daily, Groharing read the descriptions from various material his team had provided defense lawyers in a bid to prompt a new 9/11 trial judge, Marine Col. Keith Parrella, to restore the FBI interrogations of the alleged plotters that Parrella's predecessor had excluded from the trial.

US military judge tried to suppress torture evidence

The original trial judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, had suppressed the information about the interrogations by FBI agents in August because prosecutors had blocked defense attorneys from speaking to CIA witnesses.

The court-appointed lawyers defending the Gitmo prisoners, however, insisted on obtaining a graphic description of torture and abuse carried out in CIA’s overseas black-site prisons in a bid to argue that the 2007 FBI interrogations at Guantanamo were tainted by the earlier torture.

Pohl had found that without an independent probe by the defense-team, the defense lawyers would not have enough evidence to argue exclusion of the interrogations of alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, and four other defendants at Guantanamo in 2007. So he suppressed them. Then Pohl handed off the case to Parrella and retired from 38 years in the military.

"The CIA is not on trial," Groharing told Parrella on Thursday as quoted by the daily. He further insisted that this is the trial of the five men accused of plotting the mass murder by hijacking of nearly 3,000 people in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

The CIA held the five suspects incommunicado and subjected them to cruel treatment from 2002 and 2003 to their transfer to Guantanamo in September 2006. They were then arraigned on May 5, 2012 under an Obama-era format for military commissions that prohibited the use of tortured or coerced interrogations from the military commissions.

According to the report, the case has been in pretrial hearings, often arguing over access to evidence, ever since. No trial date has been set.

"It's really not a secret what happened to the accused in CIA custody. It's a matter of how it's shaded or flavored, if you will," the 9/11 prosecutor further admitted, arguing that defense attorneys have enough prosecution-furnished, CIA and judicially approved summaries of what occurred in the black site prison network to defend the suspects in the death-penalty case.

Groharing, the report emphasized, offered “the most lurid, detailed descriptions of what was inflicted upon the captive, known as KSM, yet uttered in the war court.”

Defense lawyers shed light into depth of CIA cruelty

The daily noted, however, that Mohammed's death-penalty defender, David Nevin, insisted that the prosecution-picked details about the abusive treatment of the men were insufficient for a fair trial.

Nevin further challenged the prosecutor’s argument, pointing out that the government had condensed a description of a 15-hour interrogation into a page-and-a-half summary.

For instance, he added, the prosecution provided evidence that Mohammed was "rectally rehydrated," but does not describe how it was done. "Does somebody hold his legs apart? Is he naked? Was lubrication involved? How did they do it?"

‘US lacks moral authority to execute 9/11 suspects’

Defense lawyers for the men who went missing in CIA detention from 2002 and 2003 to 2006 want even more exacting eyewitness testimony. They want to argue that the United States has lost the moral authority to execute the alleged 9/11 conspirators, if convicted.

"My imagination fails when it comes to how badly these men were treated ... in this dungeon they created," said attorney Jay Connell, representing Mohammed's nephew Ammar al Baluchi. He further emphasized that it was unimaginable, before this week's revelation that CIA agents considered using “truth serum” in their secret prison network.

Connell also underlined that the so-called vivid descriptions offered by the prosecution were woefully insufficient and shouldn't substitute for evidence provided by actual eyewitnesses and original CIA cables.

"Where did they hit him? In the head? In the stomach? In the scrotum? What kind of sounds does he make? Does he flinch? Does he wince? Does he cough? Does he beg?," Connell said. "Is he gaunt? Is he starving? Is steam coming of his body when they douse him in cold water?

"What does it look like when a person is so humiliated? Do they cry? Do they whimper? That's the kind of information that is a rich and vivid account."

The prosecutor had earlier invoked quotes from anonymous CIA black-site eyewitnesses who said they were "ashamed," saw a "nightmare" and observed detainees held at in one overseas prison like "cowering dogs."

Full report at:





French Muslim youth the dominant group seeking isolation from society

Colin Randall

November 11, 2018

French Muslims between the ages of 15 and 30 form the main group seeking isolation from society and rejecting its vaunted values of freedom, equality and fraternity, says a senior Catholic figure with knowledge of Islamic affairs.

Father Vincent Feroldi, director of the French Catholic church’s service for relations with Muslims, says an active minority has adopted a separatist outlook with “a strong communitarianism inspired by Salafism”.

Fr Feroldi told The National that 75 per cent of an estimated five million Muslims among France’s 67 million population had French nationality. “Most are under 30 and a large majority want to integrate into French society and adopt French culture, as long as they can keep their religious traditions,” he said.

The minority of dissenters, he said, showed respect for French laws, if only to avoid prosecution, imprisonment or – if foreign – deportation. But as well as distancing themselves from the population as a whole, some held negative opinions about non-Muslims. “Others will exert strong pressure on their fellow Muslims to follow Salafist Islam,” he said.

Fr Feroldi leads a team that regularly meets Muslims in France and abroad and seeks partnerships on joint projects.

He also helps Catholic dioceses to develop relations with Muslims and updates the church hierarchy of developments and events affecting the lives of Muslims in France and abroad.

When asked whether he believed a majority of French Muslims supported the principle of mutual tolerance, Fr Feroldi said: “In 2018, after years marked by the economic crisis and deadly attacks in France, Europe and worldwide, Christians, Muslims and Jews wish to live their faith in France peacefully, in accordance with the laws of the republic and in a context of vivre ensemble [living together].

“Nevertheless, faced with the issue of immigration and the rise of populism, everyone searches for identity.”

This could lead to tensions, which usually disappeared when representatives of different faiths worked together.

Fr Feroldi welcomed the case studies of Ecquevilly, recognising “the great merit of allowing the public to discover the complexity and better understand Salafism”.

Such exposure, he said, challenged French President Emmanuel Macron and his government to forge clear policies to resist practices that threaten France’s “great values of equality, fraternity, freedom and solidarity”.

Above all, he said, there was an urgent need to “foster a life together where we all enrich one other”.



Macron's vision for French Islam may present him with his biggest challenge yet

November 17, 2018

Colin Randall

In perhaps the biggest gamble of his risk-taking French presidency, Emmanuel Macron is considering a bold constitutional change affecting Muslims as part of his strategy to combat extremism.

Mr Macron’s initiative to formally organise Islam in France was originally promised in the first half of the year. After repeated delays, driven by the deep sensitivities of the task he has set himself, it is now expected in the new year.

Reports in the country’s media suggest it may include a proposal to amend a cornerstone of French society: the 1905 law separating church and state; a distinction cherished in the country’s secular republican tradition.

This would enable assistance for religious institutions from public funds, which is not permitted under the law as it stands. The aim of this approach would be to end the reliance on overseas funding for new mosques, their upkeep and the training of imams, facilitating a more structured system, even in relatively poor areas where Muslim leaders find matters of funding and organisation to be particularly challenging.

Because secularism is so rooted in France, a principle that unites natural enemies on the left and right, such a step would arouse fierce opposition across the political spectrum.

Macron is already among the most unpopular French presidents of recent times. Given how unhappy the French electorate became with Francois Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac, that is saying a lot. Many who last year welcomed the election victory of the youngest president in French history now dismiss it as, above all, a vote against his far-right opponent Marine Le Pen.

Portrayed by the left as a “president for the rich”, Macron has also been the target of two far-right assassination plots. The latest involved a foiled plan to stab him with a ceramic knife during ceremonies marking 100 years since the end of the 1914-1918 war.

Part of the reason for his broader unpopularity – one recent poll put his approval rating as low as 21 per cent − is his commitment to changes in social and economic policy that he believes are essential to France’s future. The French tend to nod in approval when presidents promise reform, only to recoil in horror once it threatens to affect them.

Mr Macron has confronted powerful groups, including militant railway workers accustomed to getting their own way. Teachers, pensioners and motorists hit by cuts and soaring fuel prices have protested, and ministers have departed in despair. But the president has generally shown a strikingly non-French resolve to tough it out.

On France and Islam, the Elysee Palace insists that the president’s deliberations remain incomplete. But the magazine L’Opinion claims to have seen a preliminary draft of what Mr Macron will say when he finally outlines his vision for the way France’s largest religion after Catholicism should be structured.

It is widely accepted, by a number of Muslim observers as well as mainstream political figures, that the present organisation of Islam in France is fragmented and often dependent on foreign benefactors. However, many Muslims are suspicious of state interference that excludes them from consultation processes. The country’s biggest representative body, the French Muslim Council, bitterly complains that this is exactly what has happened.

Among other suggestions the president has considered is the idea of a “halal tax” − a small levy, collected by Muslims themselves, on halal products, pilgrimages and donations.

The idea was floated in a report for the Montaigne Institute, a leading French think tank, and submitted to Mr Macron by Hakim El Karoui, a French banker-turned-academic whose uncle, Hamed Karoui, served as Tunisian prime minister for 10 years.

Mr El Karoui said the proceeds could fund mosques, the training and remuneration of imams, and projects to oppose both anti-Muslim xenophobia and what he controversially described as “the anti-Semitism shown by some Muslims”. Reaction, on all sides, was mixed.

But Mr Macron’s approach has not been without contradictions. He talks of wanting a “dispassionate” debate about secularism. Yet, he also said that his proposed new initiative was intended to ensure that Islam is “practiced everywhere in accordance with the laws of the republic”. And his current open-mindedness about changing the 1905 law seems at odds with a formal pre-election declaration that an amendment would not be justified.

More than anything, the evolution of his thinking demonstrates the mental acrobatics French political figures perform when trying to grapple with the complexities of achieving “vivre ensemble” − living together in harmony – with Europe’s largest Muslim population.

Mr Macron knows he is not the first holder of high French office to flirt with the notion of fundamental change.

When, in 2004, Nicolas Sarkozy was an interior minister committed to moving Islam from makeshift prayer rooms in garages and tower block basements – isolated, rundown places, where he believed that extremism could flourish − he wrote that with modification of the law, all French towns might have adequate, well-run mosques of their own. After drawing howls of protest from fellow conservatives, he allowed presidential ambition to prevail.

Full report at:





Two Indian nationals held in Saudi for taking pictures with tri-colour, released after MEA intervention

November 18, 2018

Two Indian nationals from Vadodara were detained by the Saudi Arabia police Friday for posing and taking pictures with the Indian Flag inside the Haram in Mecca. While 12-year-old Uzair Ali was released immediately after the intervention of the Consulate General of India in Jeddah, his father Imitiaz Ali Saiyed (45) was freed on Saturday.

Imitiaz, a manager at an optical shop at Old Padra Road, is a resident of Tandalja area of the city. He had left for Mecca along with his wife and two children on Monday. On Friday, he was detained by the Saudi Arabia police for taking a picture of his son along with the Indian tri-colour.

The Consulate General in Jeddah in a tweet stated, “Please note it is banned to display flags in Haram area. Our official has already met Mr Imitiaz Ali and son Mr Uzair Ali at Haram Police station. After our intervention, Uzair Ali has been released. We are following the case and all help being extended for early release of Mr Imitiaz as well.”

Imitiaz’s brother Faiyaz Ali said, “My cousin who lives in Saudi informed us about the detention. We were informed that today in the evening the police will make a final decision regarding the case. We are yet to hear from them. They had taken the flag along with them but did not know that posing with it and taking pictures was an offence.”

Zuber Goplani, National Executive Council member of the All India Muslim Majlis-e- Mushawrat’s, Gujarat Chapter in a series of tweets to the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Gujarat Chief Minister’s Office, Prime Minister’s office and the Consulate General for India in Jeddah, had apprised them of the situation and sought their help and intervention into the matter.



Following controversy over namaz, ASI to increase security at mosque in Taj Mahal

Siraj Qureshi

November 17, 2018

The Archaeological Survey of India's (ASI) office in Agra has increased vigil to prevent the local residents from offering namaz at the Taj Mahal on World Heritage Day, which will be celebrated on Monday (November 19) with free entry to all historical monuments of the city.

The decision has been taken in view of the outbursts by Muslim groups against the organisation's recent move to ban namaz at the mosque on Taj Mahal premises on Fridays.

The ASI officials claimed that the decision was taken in compliance of a July order of the Supreme Court. The apex court upheld the local administration's order which had barred all but the Agra residents from offering Friday prayers in the mosque on Taj premises on the security grounds.

A senior ASI official told India Today that to prevent namaz being offered at the royal mosque by the locals on Monday, extra ASI and CISF personnel will be deployed at the mosque and the 'wazu' tank. This will stop any Muslim from attempting to offer namaz at the mosque in contravention to the Supreme Court orders which only allow the royal Mosque to be used for Namaz during Ramzan, Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Juha and on Fridays.

To this end, the chairman of the Bharatiya Muslim Parishad, Sami Aghai, said that the ASI was working on the Bharatiya Janaya Party's (BJP) agenda and wanted to dispossess the Muslims of another mosque, just like what happened in case of the Babri masjid. He said, "The royal mosque was built by Shahjahan, the descendant of Emperor Babar and by royal firman, the mosque even had a royal Imam appointed there."

Aghai added that the ASI accepted the existence of the royal mosque in the Taj Mahal and even paid a salary of Rs 15 per month to the royal Imam, which strengthened the claim of the Muslims on the mosque.

Local Congress leader Shabbir Abbas told India Today that if necessary, the Muslims will knock the doors of the Supreme Court in this matter.

"First, the Muslims were dispossessed of their traditional livelihood of making marble handicrafts by imposing demonetisation and GST on them, and now the same government is snatching away the royal mosque from Muslims, which will not be tolerated," he said, adding, "If the Congress party returns to power in 2019, all such blatantly communal decisions of the BJP government will be overturned."

Hindustani Biradari Vice-President Vishal Sharma said, "Agra is a land of Sulh-e-Kul, where secular poets like Amir Khusrau, Mir, Nazir, and Ghalib were born and the world's first 'secular religion' Deen-e-Ilahi was formulated by Emperor Akbar. In such a city, the growing feeling of mistrust and animosity between the Hindu and Muslim communities is not a good sign."

Sharma added that Sulh-e-Kul can be retraced from an early Sufi mystic principle aiming at a peaceful and harmonious relationship among different religions, which was introduced by Amir Khusrau, the beloved disciple of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia. "It was this Sul-e-Kul, which became the keystone of Akbar's Deen-e-Ilahi," he said.

"The concept of Sulh-e-Kul implies not just tolerance but also the spirit of balance, civility, respect and compromise required to maintain harmony among a diverse population of interfaith affiliations. The essence of pluralism in Sulh-e-Kul was an antidote to religious radicalisation, divide, and conflict. Long back, in Delhi, Silh-e-Kul platforms were set up for maintaining a syncretic culture, out of which one Sulh-e-Kul temple was located in Palam, New Delhi."

Full report at:



Shia Waqf Board chief writes to AIMPLB to relinquish its claim over disputed land for Temple

17 November 2018

News Delhi, Nov 17: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and many other affiliate organisation have started built up in temple town Ayodhya and even ritualistic 14-Koshi Parikrama also started in the city with many Muslim organisations too are coming out in support of the construction Ram Temple to end animosity between the two community.

Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Waqf Board chairman Syed Waseem Rizvi has written a letter requesting chief of All India Muslim Personal Law Board Maulana Rabe Hasan Nadavi. He suggested in his letter that a compromise should be arrived at and the entire city should be left for the Hindu community for the construction of Ram Temple. Compromise should not be looked down upon as a defeat.

He further writes, "There have been many compromises in Islam as well. It is not wise to put lives of 20 crore Muslims in danger for a small tract of land. If we take a few steps back leaving this small piece of land for Hindus to built a Ram Temple there, we will be able to win over hearts of 99 people of the country. This will be in the interest of the country and Muslims. Moreover hatred against Muslims and Hindus will to minimized. I hope you will take up this proposal in the next meeting of AIMPLB and consider the matter there to arrive at some prudent decision on the matter."

Full report at:



With hug, promises, PM Modi reaches out to Maldives President

by Shubhajit Roy

November 18, 2018

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi among his audience, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih of the Maldives said Saturday that he would strengthen bilateral relations with India and other neighbouring countries, and would work to ensure stability in the Indian Ocean.

Modi, who was seated between former Maldives presidents Mohamed Nasheed and Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, met Solih and hugged him after the new President was sworn in. This was the first time that Modi had attended the swearing-in of any foreign leader.

Modi and Solih, who had a bilateral meeting just after the swearing-in, “agreed on the importance of maintaining peace and security in the Indian Ocean and being mindful of each other’s concerns and aspirations for the stability of the region”, a joint statement said.

This is aimed at addressing concerns stemming from China’s assertive activities in the Indian Ocean region. Three Chinese naval ships had docked in Male in August last year. Solih briefed Modi on the dire economic situation facing his country, and the two leaders discussed ways in which India could continue the development partnership, particularly to help the new government meet its pledges to the people of the Maldives.

“In particular, President Solih highlighted the pressing need for increased housing and infrastructure development as well as for establishing water and sewerage systems in the outlying islands,” the joint statement said.

The two leaders also decided that the Maldives foreign minister would visit India on November 26, and would take forward discussions pertaining to the economic situation.

Modi assured Solih of India’s firm commitment in assisting the Maldives to achieve sustainable social and economic development. He also conveyed India’s readiness to extend help in every possible way, and suggested that both sides should meet at the earliest to work out details as per the requirements of the Maldives.

While former President Abdulla Yameen had claimed unprecedented infrastructure development in the island nation, it was largely perceived as being part of China’s “debt for leverage” model, which can used by Beijing to get access to the country’s natural resources as well as for strategic reasons. Experts say Chinese loans for projects already account for around 70 per cent of the Maldives’ national debt.

Advocating for the Indian footprint to be expanded, Modi welcomed the “expanding opportunities for Indian companies to invest in the Maldives in different sectors for the mutual benefit of both countries”.

“Recognizing that nationals of both countries travel extensively between the two countries, the leaders also agreed on the need for facilitating easier visa procedures,” the joint statement said. Indian workers and professionals in the Maldives had been facing issues regarding visas and work permits as ties deteriorated.

Modi and Solih also expressed their “unwavering commitment and support for increased cooperation in combating terrorism both within the region and elsewhere”.

The Maldives has faced a rising tide of Islamist fundamentalism in the last few years. It is said to have supplied between 50 and 200 fighters to the ISIS, and Maldivian civil society has witnessed an increase in religious intolerance and violent extremism.

The official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Raveesh Kumar tweeted, “PM attended the inaugural ceremony & congratulated President @ibusolih. The visit reflects India’s commitment to assist the Government & people of #Maldives in their endeavour to build a peaceful, democratic & prosperous country.”

The spokesperson tweeted pictures of the inaugural ceremony, saying: “Being part of a special moment. Maldives President Solih in his address to the People’s Majlis: We will endeavour to fortify existing ties with India. Maldives will hereupon bolster its shared role to retain enduring peace & harmony of the Indian Ocean.”

New Delhi had heaved a sigh of relief after Solih’s victory in the presidential elections in September this year, as relations between India and Maldives had deteriorated in the last few years with Yameen in power. Yameen’s trampling of democratic processes and his veering towards China had caused considerable concern in New Delhi.

Yameen’s high-handed approach had prompted former Presidents Nasheed and Gayoom, arch rivals, to join hands and form a joint opposition, and they had fielded Solih as their presidential candidate. Sources said it was only befitting that Modi was seated between Gayoom and Nasheed, as these two leaders are perceived to be the powers behind President Solih.

Yameen, who has been accused of siphoning off funds, is likely to face charges. In his inaugural address, Solih said, “As I assume office, billions of Rufiyaa is missing from the state, we do not even know the exact amount missing. We need foreign assistance in recovering these funds.”

Modi arrived Saturday to attend the swearing-in ceremony, in what is his first visit to the Maldives as Prime Minister. The last visit by an Indian Prime Minister to the Indian Ocean island nation was by Manmohan Singh in 2011. Modi was scheduled to visit the Maldives in March 2015, but political turmoil in the country had forced the cancellation of the visit.

On Saturday, Modi conveyed his greetings to the people and the government of Maldives on “consolidation of democracy, which is essential for peace, prosperity and stability”, the joint statement said after the meeting.

“The two leaders, while noting the resilience of the relations between India and the Maldives, expressed confidence in the renewal of the close bonds of cooperation and friendship with the election of Mr Solih as the President of the Maldives,” it said.

Ahead of the visit, Modi had said, “I will convey to the new Maldivian government of Mr Solih the desire of the Indian government to work closely for realisation of their developmental priorities, especially in areas of infrastructure, health care, connectivity & human resource development.”

He had said the recent elections in the Maldives represented the collective aspirations of the people for democracy, rule of law and a prosperous future.

“We in India strongly desire to see a stable, democratic, prosperous and peaceful Republic of Maldives,” he said.

Modi congratulated Solih and wished him “the very best for his tenure”. “India and the Maldives share a strong partnership rooted in history, strong bonds between our peoples, and their shared aspiration for peace and prosperity. My government’s vision of inclusive development ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas’ extends to all our neighbours too,” he said.

Full report at:



J&K: 19-year-old abducted, killed by militants; second teen in 48 hours

Nov 18, 2018

A day after a civilian was killed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on suspicion of being an Army informer, militants on Saturday abducted and killed a 19-year-old in Shopian, PTI reported. The incident took place even as panchayat polls are underway in the state.

“Terrorists Saturday killed a civilian in a brutal act of terror in Shopian district after he was kidnapped earlier in the day from Saidpora area,” a police official was quoted as saying by PTI. A throat-slit body was found from an orchard area in Hermain village of the south Kashmir district, he added.

The deceased has been identified as Huzaif Ashraf (19), a resident of Manzgam area of the neighbouring Kulgam district. “Huzaif’s body was handed over to his family after completion of the medico-legal formalities,” the official said.

A case under relevant sections of law has been registered and the investigation has been initiated in the matter.

On Thursday night, militants had abducted and later killed Nadeem Manzoor, a resident of Safanagri area, police had said. Police said that the youth’s bullet-riddled body was found in Pulwama’s Niklora village.

The youth’s family members said that a group of gunmen entered their house on Thursday night when Nadeem was not at home. “When he came back, we told him that some people were looking for him. He again went out and was kidnapped. Later, we came to know that he has been killed and his body has been found,” Nadeem’s cousin told The Indian Express.

On Friday evening, an unauthenticated video went viral in the Valley, showing unknown gunmen firing at a man at an undisclosed location. Some reports have identified the man as Nadeem.

Police officers said they are verifying the video. “I have just seen it (the video). We are verifying it. I cannot comment on it unless we verify the content,” Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Law and Order and Security, Munir Ahmad Khan told The Indian Express.

In an audio message, also circulated on Friday evening, Hizbul Mujahideen’s operations’ chief Riyaz Naikoo said that their “do or die squad” found the informer of the encounter (in Safanagri).

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


China is locking up its Muslim minorities, and pushing Islamophobia to get Europe to do it too

NOV 17, 2018

China is trying to stoke Islamophobia among Europeans to justify, and even export, its model of locking up their Muslim minorities as the troubling crackdown continues to grab global attention.

Beijing is waging an unprecedented crackdown on the Uighurs, a majority-Muslim ethnic minority, in the western region of Xinjiang. Many Uighurs refer to the region as East Turkestan.

Uighurs are placed under intense surveillance in their hometowns, with up to 1 million of them reportedly imprisoned in detention centers or re-education camps, where many are reportedly psychologically and mentally tortured.

Beijing sees its crackdown on Uighurs as a counterterrorism measure, and claimed the camps were "free vocational training" that make life "colorful."

Lawmakers and international organizations are increasing pressure on China to stop these practices. But Beijing is not only ignoring their critics - it's even trying to get them to follow their lead.

Over the past few weeks, China has, through official statements and editorials in state media, cited Islamic terror attacks in Europe to justify and promote its Xinjiang policy.

China: Maybe Europe should learn from us

Last week the country's state-run Global Times tabloid ran an editorial accusing Europe of hypocrisy in their criticism of China's human rights record.

It even suggested that European countries "discuss with China" how it can learn from Beijing's model of suppressing Muslim minorities.

The writer, Ai Jun, said Europe "may have overlooked its own troubles," and singled out Britain, France, and Germany as countries with large Muslim populations and which were - according to Ai - vulnerable to terrorist and extremist threats.

"Instead of judging China condescendingly, Europe might need to sit down and discuss with China how to figure out their common challenges," Ai said.

In September, Li Xiaojun, a spokesman for China's state council information office, also cited terror attacks in Brussels and Paris carried out by Islamic extremists over the past three years to hit back at Western critics.

Referring to detention centers, Li said according to Reuters: "If you do not say it's the best way, maybe it's the necessary way to deal with Islamic or religious extremism. Because the West has failed in doing so, in dealing with religious Islamic extremism."

"Look at Belgium, look at Paris, look at some other European countries. You have failed."

Peter Irwin, a project manager at the World Uyghur Congress in Munich, told Business Insider: "I think China's tapping into Islamophobia that does certainly exist in the West, but what we're witnessing in China isn't merely Islamophobia. It's the forced assimilation of an entire ethnic group based on historic notions of Chinese superiority."

"China only uses Islamophobic rhetoric retroactively as a means of gaining support from its own domestic population," he added.

Emily Rauhala, The Washington Post's former China correspondent, dismissed the Global Times' criticism of European critics as "Twitter trolling," but warned that its policy of detaining Muslims to counter terror "is the actual position of the Chinese government right now."

It's not working

China's policy of attacking countries that criticized its own human rights issues is not new, and it doesn't seem to be working, either. In fact, Western countries are ramping up their actions against China over the Uighur issue.

This week alone, Reuters reported that 15 Western ambassadors in Beijing were seeking a meeting with Chen Quanguo - the Chinese official believed to have masterminded the Xinjiang crackdown - to demand an explanation over China's Xinjiang crackdown.

On Wednesday, US lawmakers drafted a bipartisan bill urging the White House to punish China, by way of possible export bans and financial sanctions, over its persecution of the Uighurs.

And on Monday, UN experts in Geneva sent a scathing letter to the Chinese government, seen by Business Insider, describing China's Xinjiang policies as "incompatible with China's obligations under international human rights law."

Last month the European Parliament also issued a motion calling on China to "immediately end the mass arbitrary detention" of Uighurs, close all the camps, and allow "free, unhindered access for journalists and international observers to Xinjiang province."

Irwin told Business Insider: "China's consistent refrain in response to allegations of human rights abuses has been to point the finger back at its accusers and remind them that they, too, have their own problems."

"This line of argumentation isn't at all convincing. Although it is true that rights abuses exist the world over, you can't paper over your own record through returned accusations," Irwin added. "If this were the case, all states would accept bad behavior and nothing would change."



Malaysia and Indonesia are bucking the global trend on democracy

by Max Walden

In October, Latin America's most populous nation, Brazil, elected as president Jair Bolsonaro, a former military man and historically fringe, far-right senator known for his pro-gun, pro-torture views. In 1999, he told Brazilian television, "Elections won't change anything in this country. It will only change on the day that we break out in civil war here and do the job that the military regime didn't do: killing 30,000. If some innocent people die, that's fine. In every war, innocent people die."

Elsewhere in the world, Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, Recep Erdogan, Viktor Orban and Rodrigo Duterte are some of the names that have dominated headlines as leaders who are spearheading the world's reported march towards authoritarianism. In January, the Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index for 2018 reported that electoral democracy was continuing its "disturbing retreat" the world over. The TIME magazine recently declared that "a new archetype of leader has emerged. We're now in the strongman era."

If this is true of Brazil, the United States, China, Russia, Turkey and even the Philippines, it is not so in the Malay Archipelago.

In May, Malaysian politics was changed irrevocably with the election of its opposition for the first time in 60 years of independence. Accountability, openness and democratic progress appear to be finally within reach.

While many Western observers continue to argue that Islam is incompatible with democracy - Indonesia and Malaysia beg to differ. With the former already the strongest electoral democracy in Southeast Asia and the latter an unlikely late bloomer, the two countries are leading the charge for democratic politics in their immediate region, and perhaps the world.


As Malaysia went to the polls in May, Indonesia was celebrating 20 years of Reformasi - a word in both Malay and Indonesian which means reform, specifically of the democratic kind. Protests from a broad civil society coalition of students, Muslim groups and women in 1998 saw Indonesia's outrageously corrupt dictator of more than three decades, Soeharto, step down.

It has since seen the unshackling of its media; the emergence of non-traditional political actors including trade unionists, rights activists and feminists as well as a forceful re-emergence of Islamists; and the establishment of a range of anti-corruption and human rights protection institutions.

Indonesia's wildly popular if somewhat goofy President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has been accused of authoritarian tendencies, particularly after the outlawing of the Hizbut Tahrir group, which campaigns for Indonesia to adopt Islamic law and become a caliphate, under a controversial presidential decree in July 2017.

But unlike most heads of state in the region, he is less about smearing the media and threatening NGOs than he is about shoring up support through building rural infrastructure and giving land rights to indigenous groups. He likes groovy jackets and giving away push bikes to kids.

Indonesia's smaller, richer cousin Malaysia had lagged behind in its own Reformasi. But come May 2018, Prime Minister Najib Razak was turfed out by the electorate despite incessant gerrymandering and a rigged voting system. His demise came largely due to accusations he stole hundreds of millions of dollars from the sovereign fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad or 1MDB and the return to politics of now-PM Mahathir Mohamad.

When in power between 1981 and 2003, Mahathir was known for his intolerance of critics and has since admitted to serving as a "dictator". Shortly after being elected in May, however, the 93-year-old took to Twitter to chastise authorities for arresting a man who had allegedly slandered him and Islam on Facebook. "I don't agree with the action taken against those who criticise me," he said.

Rights concerns

Electoral democracy is not everything. Democracy is typically understood as requiring strong separation of powers and the protection of human rights. Like their Southeast Asian neighbours, both Indonesia and Malaysia have checkered human rights records. Law enforcement and the legal systems of both countries remain corrupt and inadequately independent.

The year 1965 saw the massacre of up to a million leftists in Indonesia - one of the worst mass killings of the 20th century for which the perpetrators are yet to face any consequences. Malaysia still organises its society along the lines of race and class, providing benefits to the Malay-Muslim majority in a system that elsewhere would be described as apartheid. In both countries, anti-LGBT sentiment has grown in recent years, sparked by growing Islamic conservatism and pushes for same-sex marriage and other LGBT equality struggles in the West.

Nevertheless, both states were the only in ASEAN to criticise Myanmar in a timely manner for the atrocities carried out against its Rohingya population, sending more than 700,000 people into neighbouring Bangladesh since August last year.

Indonesian civil society organisations routinely criticise the government on a range of rights issues and stage public protests. Rapid domestic change is also afoot in Malaysia. Last month, the government announced it would bring in a moratorium on the death penalty with the view of abolishing it. The government has also said it will remove a "pink tax" on menstrual products.

Most importantly, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission is finally able to do its work unobstructed. Authorities have raided former prime minister Najib Razak's properties, seizing jewellery and luxury handbags worth millions of dollars. In September, he was arrested for alleged abuse of power, while his wife Rosmah Mansor was detained last month over money-laundering accusations.

While it faces ongoing political threats, Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) remains one of the most important, independent institutions of the democratic era. Just this April, it took down the speaker of the house, Setya Novanto, jailed for 15 years for corruption, sending a strong message to the nation's political class.

Despite Samuel Huntington famously proclaiming in 1993 that "Islam has bloody borders", neither Malaysia nor Indonesia has fought a full-scale, international war since the Bornean Confrontation of the 1960s, in which Indonesia fought against colonial powers to oppose the formation of Malaysia. Neighbouring Australia, meanwhile, which then sent troops to repel the Indonesians, has fought in the Vietnam, Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and has joined the coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the Middle East.

Indonesia's leadership within ASEAN has ensured decades of peace. None of the member states has fought each other since the 1980s. Former diplomat and dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School in Singapore, Kishore Mahbubani, has even argued that the bloc deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.

The democrats in ASEAN are Muslim

Conservative pundits in the West have long argued that Islam is incompatible with democracy. But since 2004, Indonesia has held competitive elections deemed free and fair by international observers.

"If the 1990s was a decade of reform and political transformation in Southeast Asia, then the first two decades of the twenty-first century have seen disappointing dividends," concluded former editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review, Michael Vatikiotis, in his 2017 book Blood and Silk. Across the Mekong region, most ASEAN states have increasingly adopted the People's Republic of China's mode of autocratic capitalist development.

A different story, however, is playing out in the Malay part of archipelagic Southeast Asia. Having campaigned on the issue, Malaysia's new government has cancelled several projects it deemed threatening to state sovereignty, while the Indonesian opposition has vowed to review China's Belt and Road project if elected in the 2019 presidential elections. Both countries are careful to maintain good relations with the West and India, as well as their trading partners in the Middle East.

Much of the world may be having its doubts about democracy. Even in the Asia Pacific's veteran democracy Australia, a recent poll showed that a third of the population favoured an authoritarian or "strongman" type leader. But in the Muslim Malay world, it looks like democracy is here to stay.

Full report at:



‘Muslim Lifestyle’ Disputed Too Much Now, Malaysian Ex-IGP Moans

18 November 2018

By Zurairi AR

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 ― Former inspector-general of police (IGP) Tan Sri Musa Hassan has questioned non-Muslims for allegedly contesting the affairs and lifestyle of Muslims.

The controversial retired police officer also suggested that non-Muslims as being disrespectful of others.

“Why are there so many non-Muslims who dispute issues linked with Islamic affairs and Muslim lifestyle lately?” he asked on his Twitter account @TSMusaHassan yesterday.

“Is there a universal rule for them where they do not need to respect others’ lifestyle?

“Are Muslims so weak that we have to compromise?” he added.

Musa had earlier on his account criticised liberalism, pluralism, and secularism.

“They are concepts brought by the West, allegedly for human rights and freedom.

Full report at:



Police beef up security in Bogor mosque despite cancelled Islamic caliphate gathering

November 17, 2018

An Islamist gathering set to take place at the Az Zikra Mosque in Sentul, Bogor regency, West Java, was canceled on Saturday, but nearly 1,000 personnel from the Bogor Police and Indonesian Military (TNI) remained to stand guard over the location.

They were deployed to maintain security on Friday.

The event, called Indonesia: The Starting Point for the Rise of Islam in the World, was canceled because organizers had failed to obtain a permit from the Bogor Police, who claimed the gathering was part of the Islamic caliphate movement that aims to replace the country’s political system.

Local mass organizations and university student groups have also opposed the event.

Bogor Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Andi Mochamad Dicky cited residents’ rejection as the basis of police’s decision to withhold a permit.

Hadi Salam, a local cleric who chairs the gathering, said organizers had decided to cancel the event after it had to secure permission from the police.

“We urge participants to remain calm and present good manners,” he said in a statement on Friday.

He also urged participants from various regions who had arrived in Jakarta to visit local mosques and perform I’tikaf (seclusion in a mosque).

Full report at:



DAP opposing monarchs by turning down datukships, Perak PAS chief claims

18 November 2018

KAMPUNG GAJAH, Nov 18 — Perak PAS commissioner Razman Zakaria sought to pit DAP and the Malay rulers against each other last night, during a protest against the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

The Islamist politician claimed the Pakatan Harapan (PH) component is allegedly challenging the sovereignty of the Malay rulers, with DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng advising party members against accept honorific titles such as “Datuk”.

“It’s very rude for them to turn down the recognition given by the Rulers. This shows that they are against the sovereignty of the Malay rulers.

“This is one of the reasons why Malays and Muslims oppose the ICERD,” Razman said in a protest organised by the Perak chapter of Malay-Muslim coalition Ummah.

Last month, Lim had chided party members who accepted state or federal awards that confer them with titles, like “Datuk”, in order for party members to show integrity and prove they were not after such forms of recognition or positions while in public service.

Razman also claimed that the recent incident in Penang where foreigners were arrested for distributing materials on Christianity was so-called proof that Islam will be harmed under PH.

“But what happens now? After just six months taking over the government, they distributed Christian brochures in the schools in the north.

“Ratifying the convention will bring more harm to Muslims and Islam,” he claimed.

Malaysia is among the 14 countries in the world yet to accede to the ICERD, which has been ratified by numerous Muslim-majority countries such as Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and Jordan.

Full report at:



PAS, Umno to hold joint rally against ICERD next month

November 18, 2018

PETALING JAYA: Top leaders from PAS and Umno have agreed to hold a joint rally on Dec 8 to protest plans in ratifying an international convention on ending racial discrimination.

The decision was announced at a programme in Pasir Salak last night attended by Abdul Hadi Awang and Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the PAS and Umno presidents.

“We will hold a peaceful rally. The majority have the right to voice out,” Hadi told some 30,000 PAS and Umno members, as quoted by PAS mouthpiece Harakahdaily.

The government’s announcement that it was considering ratifying the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, or ICERD, has been met with opposition from Malay and Muslim groups.

Malaysia is among a handful of countries that have neither signed nor ratified the treaty.

The treaty provides individuals worldwide with a mechanism for complaints over issues of racial discrimination, among others, and is enforceable against member states.

Specifically, it obliges parties to eliminate racial discrimination in all forms including in public institutions as well as in government policies, the issue at the heart of the opposition from Malay groups.

Several groups say ratifying ICERD will undermine the special position of the Malays, including provisions to allow quotas in public institutions, as spelt out in Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.

They are also opposed to the ICERD’s timeline on member countries to end affirmative action programmes, which they say would be a death knell for Malaysia’s decades-old Bumiputera policy.

At the event last night, a donation drive was launched to help fund the Dec 8 rally to protest ICERD.

In his speech, Hadi said PAS and Umno had many times come together to fight on issues involving Muslims and Malays.

He said the late Tunku Abdul Rahman and Burhanuddin al-Helmy, two past presidents of Umno and PAS, had once shared the stage in Melaka to demand independence.

He said both parties had also come together in the wake of the racial riots of 1969.

Full report at:



Nahdlatul Ulama calls on Supreme Court to release Nuril

November 18, 2018

The Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) has spoken up to support Baiq Nuril Maknun, a resident of Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, who is facing jail time for defaming a man that allegedly harassed her.

NU legal division head Robikin Emhas said the largest Muslim organization hoped that the Supreme Court would release the 37-year-old after deliberating a case review she planned to file.

“I hope the reputation and dignity of Baiq Nuril Maknun can be restored in the case review verdict, just like the Mataram District Court [that had acquitted her],” he said in a statement as quoted by Antara.

Nuril was sentenced to six months in jail and fined Rp 500 million (US$33,749) after the Supreme Court found her guilty of defaming her alleged harasser, Muslim, the principal of the school where she worked, by spreading a recording of a phone conversation between the two.

Nuril said she recorded the conversation after he shared stories about his affairs with another woman multiple times. He had also asked her to meet in a hotel room for a tryst. The recording later spread to the school circle and local education agency, prompting Muslim's removal from his post. He then reported Nuril to the police for defamation.

Prosecutors have received the court order to jail her next week. If she refuses to surrender herself within a month, she will be arrested.

Full report at:



South Asia


Bangladesh: Political Parties Are Patronising Communal Forces

November 18, 2018

Speakers at a roundtable yesterday apprehended that attacks on minority communities may increase centring on the December 30 parliamentary election, due to the patronisation of Islamic communal forces by major political parties.

They blamed two major political parties -- Awami League and BNP -- for patronising Qawmi and Jamaat men respectively, who “perpetrated attacks on minority communities” in many places in the country.

They urged countrymen not to cast vote for any candidate involved in torturing minorities.

Nagorik Samaj, a platform of citizens, organised the roundtable on “National parliament election: question of minority communities' security” at the capital's Cirdap auditorium yesterday.

Speaking at the roundtable, Khalequzzaman, general secretary of the Socialist Party of Bangladesh (SPB), said the party (AL) which is colluding with Allama Shafi (ameer of Qawmi madrasa-based platform Hefazat-e Islam) centring on the elections cannot claim themselves to be a pro-Liberation War force.

Noted social activist Khushi Kabir alleged that “Islam as state religion” and “Secularism in the basic principle” cannot run together in the constitution.

“AL during 1971 and AL in 2018 are not same; the party has to prove that they are patronising ideology of the Liberation War through their initiatives, to build up a non-communal state,” she said.

“Some individuals who opposed the country's independence are now joining AL-led alliance, while some freedom fighters are joining the BNP-led alliance. Therefore, not the [electoral] symbol but activities are more important in the upcoming election to choose candidate [for voters],” she added

Eminent rights activist Sultana Kamal said incidents of violence on minority communities will not be eliminated unless neutrality of law enforcers and administration are established.

“We invited representatives of different political parties including the home minister [to the event] but they are absent. It proves that they are unwilling to address the problem, so we should give our answer through our vote; probably then they will pay heed to protecting minorities' rights,” she said.

She alleged that the government is negligent in introducing the minority commission. Rather, it arrests innocent people who raise voice against the government.

Stressing the need to form a political party for minorities, Bhorer Kagoj Editor Shyamal Dutta said, “We feel insecure during election, as we have no political party which can bargain to protect our rights by making alliance with the big forces.”

While delivering a keynote paper, Shamsul Huda, executive director of Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD), alleged that terrible attacks on minorities were carried out in 1990, 2001, 2010, 2012 and centring on the election of 2014, the culprits of which are yet to be punished.

“As per directive of the High Court, the Sahabuddin Commission submitted a report on attack on minorities in 2012, but the government didn't take initiatives to punish culprits,” he added.

Nirmal Rosario, president of Bangladesh Christian Oikya Parishad, alleged that the land belonging to Hindu communities in Thakurgaon-2 were grabbed by the local lawmaker and his son.

He urged all to resist such public representatives in the upcoming polls.

Bangladesh Christian Oikya Parishad General Secretary Rana Dasgupta, Centre for Women Journalists President Nasimun Ara Haque Minu and Oikya NAP (National Awami Party) President Pankaj Bhattacharjee also spoke.



Taliban militants suffer heavy casualties in Ghazni airstrikes

Nov 17 2018

At least twenty five Taliban militants were killed or wounded during the airstrikes conducted in southeastern Ghazni province of Afghanistan, the Afghan Military said Saturday.

The 203rd Thunder Corps of the Afghan Military in the Southeast in a statement said the Afghan Air Force carried out airstrikes against the Taliban militants in Moshaki and Jarkano area of Qarabagha district, leaving at least 21 militants dead.

The statement further added that the airstrikes also left at least four militants wounded.

In the meantime, the Afghan armed forces discovered and defused two improvised explosive devices during Thunder-6 operations, the 203rd Thunder Corps said, adding that a suspected militant was also arrested during the same operation.

The anti-government armed militant groups including Taliban have not commented regarding the airstrikes and Thunder-6 operations so far.



Key Taliban commanders among 7 detained by Afghan Commandos in Takhar

Nov 18 2018

At least seven Taliban militants including two of their key commanders were detained during a Special Operation of the Afghan Army Commando forces in Takhar province.

The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North in a statement said the Afghan Commandos conducted Special Operations in Qara Hindu and Qalbaras villages located in the outskirts of the provincial capital of Takhar.

The statement further added that the Commando forces arrested at least seven Taliban militants during the operations, including two of their key commanders.

According to 209th Shaheen Corps, the key Taliban commanders arrested during the operation, have been identified as Mawlavi Azim who is also famous as Kakai and Qari Latif.

The anti-government armed militant groups including Taliban militants have not commented regarding the report so far.

In the meantime, the 209th Shaheen Corps said at least three Taliban militants were killed and three others were wounded during Toofan-20 operations in Chaghat Payin village in Ishkamish district.

Full report at:



Gen. Dunford says Taliban ‘are not losing’ in Afghanistan

Nov 18 2018

The Chairman of the JointChiefs of Staff of the U.S. Military General Joseph Dunford has said that the Taliban ‘are not losing’ in Afghanistan.

Gen. Joseph Dunford has reportedly made the remarks in a security forum in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Emphasizing that much more needs to be done to bring peace to the war-torn country, Gen. Dunford has said “They are not losing right now, I think that is fair to say.”

Gen. Dunford further added “We used the term stalemate a year ago and, relatively speaking, it has not changed much.”

He also added that there would never be a “military solution” on its own to bring peace to Afghanistan, the United States and its Nato partners are working to leverage military, political and economic pressure to convince the Taliban it is in their interest to negotiate a political solution to the crisis with the government in Kabul.

Gen. Dunford has said “Without going into detail here, we do believe the Taliban know that at some point they do have to reconcile. The key to success is to combine all that pressure to incentivize the Taliban” to negotiate.

Full report at:



Afghan official: Taliban target police checkpoint, killing 5

17 November 2018

An Afghan official says that at least five police officers have been killed when their checkpoint came under attack by insurgents in the northwestern Badghis province.

Abdul Aziz Beg, head of the provincial council, says three other police were wounded and another detained by the Taliban early Saturday morning in the Qadis district.

Beg said the gun battle lasted about an hour with casualties among Taliban too, but did not provide an exact figure.

Taliban insurgents claimed the attack in Qadis, saying they seized ammunition from the checkpoint.

Full report at:





Israeli sources admit Hamas possesses game-changing missiles

Nov 18, 2018

An Israeli website known for its close links to the regime’s military intelligence services has admitted that the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas is now possessing “game-changing” missiles that could hit targets in Israel with considerable ease and precision.

The Debka file said in a report on Saturday that its sources had identified the type of modern missiles used by Hamas in recent attacks on the Israeli-occupied territories that inflicted considerable damage and casualties on the regime and forced the Israeli government to accept a ceasefire with the Palestinians.

It said the missiles were of the 333mm-caliber type and had a medium range of 11 kilometers. The report added that the missiles were capable of destroying Israel’s “artillery emplacements, Iron Dome batteries, armored force concentrations – whether over ground or in trenches, as well as combat engineering equipment and command centers”.

“It is not launched from stationary batteries, but from any combat 4×4 vehicle or jeep, each of which carries two rockets,” said the report, adding that the main advantage of the missiles was its mobility which allowed Hamas to fire them from any area in the Gaza Strip without Israeli radars noticing them.

The report came days after Israelis signed into a ceasefire with Hamas after a barrage of resistance missile attacks on southern occupied territories killed one and injured more than 80 Israelis.

The Israeli government decision to accept the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, prompted its minister for military affairs Avigdor Lieberman to resign. Hamas called the resignation, which could bring about early elections in the occupied lands, as “an admission of defeat” and a “political victory” for the Palestinian resistance.

Lieberman said after resigning from the Israeli cabinet that Hamas was on its way to become a serious threat to Israel, saying in a year time, the group and its partner in Gaza, the Islamic Jihad Movement, would reach the military prowess of Hezbollah, the dominant resistance movement in Lebanon which has successfully defended the small country against Israeli aggression in the past.

The Debka file report about Hamas missiles also came hours after Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar warned Israel not to test the resistance group again.

“I advise Israel not to try and test us again. This time you did not have a lot of casualties and you managed to rescue your special forces,” said Sinwar at a memorial service for the Palestinians killed in recent clashes. 

“Whoever tests Gaza will find only death and poison. Our missiles are more precise, have a greater range and carry more explosives than in the past,” said Sinwar, adding, “Our hands are on the trigger and our eyes are open.”



Iran says ready to fight terror on Pakistani soil

Nov 17, 2018

Iran says it is prepared to carry out anti-terror operations on Pakistani soil under Islamabad’s supervision.

“As the interior minister and the person responsible for the country’s internal security, I announce that we are prepared to conduct operations in areas where terrorists are present in Pakistan, under the Pakistani side’s supervision and with their permission,” Interior Minister Abdol-Reza Rahmani-Fazli said on Saturday.

Fazli said such operations would take place “if the need arises, and they (the Pakistani side) would not possess the readiness to operate for any reason.”

“If we have refused to operate on the other side of the border so far, it has been merely because we wanted to respect Pakistan’s sovereignty,” the minister said.

Rahmani-Fazli said the countries could carry out joint border operations, and enjoy much intelligence cooperation.

He said efforts invested so far by Iranian security and law enforcement organizations, and especially the country’s Foreign Ministry, had led to the release of five Iranian forces, who were kidnapped by terrorists near the Pakistani border alongside seven others last month.

The country was pursuing the release of the rest, he said, adding that Pakistan had offered good cooperation over the release of abducted Iranian border guards.

“We expect Pakistan to complement the cooperation and also to enhance security cooperation in border areas,” Rahmani-Fazli noted.

The forces were abducted in mid-October by elements of the so-called Jaish ul-Adl terrorist group near the town of Mirjaveh in the southeastern Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchestan, and then spirited away into Pakistan.

Iranian border guards have repeatedly come under attack by terror outfits active on the Pakistani soil.

Full report at:



Coalition intercepts, destroys three Houthi ballistic missiles targeting Marib

18 November 2018

The Arab Coalition has confirmed that forces have intercepted and destroyed three ballistic missiles launched by the Houthi militias on Marib.

Eyewitnesses said that the sound of violent explosions shook some neighborhoods of the city as defense forces intercepted the missiles launched by the Houthi coup militias targeting residential neighborhoods in the city of Marib.

The coalition's air defenses last week intercepted two ballistic missiles fired by the militias toward the coalition headquarters in the same province.



Houthi militias storm houses belonging to a member of Yemen negotiating team

17 November 2018

The Houthi coup militias in Sanaa stormed on Saturday, the houses of Othman Mujali, the Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation in the Yemeni legitimate government.

Mujali who is also a member of the negotiating delegation in all rounds of consultations held since the start of the Yemeni war, told Al Arabiya English that: “The armed elements of the Houthi militias stormed on Saturday his houses in Sanaa and broke and looted their contents.”

The minister said the raid is a clear message from the militias- as a member of the government’s negotiating delegation- that the pro-Iranian militias pay no attention to peace endeavors and political solutions.

In addition, Mujali linked the continuous defeats of the Houthi militias on various military fronts, with the hysteria they are experiencing, and is expressed by the arrests against the population in Hodeidah port city and by the storming of its opponents’ houses in Sanaa, and the attacks on property and economic facilities.

On Friday night, the Houthi militias targeted a number of facilities in Yemen's Hodeidah.

Full report at:



Iran has devised various mechanisms to counter US sanctions: Diplomat

Nov 17, 2018

A senior Iranian diplomat says the Islamic Republic has not become completely disappointed with Europe to help offset sanctions imposed by the United States on Tehran but it has devised several mechanisms for any possible scenario.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araqchi, who is in Madrid for talks with senior Spanish officials, made the remarks in an exclusive interview with IRNA on Saturday.

Earlier this month, the administration of US President Donald Trump announced the re-imposition of the “toughest” sanctions ever against Iran's banking and energy sectors with the aim of cutting off the country's oil sales and crucial exports. The announcement came after Washington withdrew in May from the landmark Iran nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and decided to re-impose unilateral sanctions against Tehran.

Under the deal, reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries - the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China - in 2015, Iran undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions.

A first round of American sanctions took effect in August, targeting Iran's access to the US dollar, metals trading, coal, industrial software, and auto sector.

In response to a question about Iran's possible moves in case the Europeans succumb to US pressure, Araqchi said Tehran had devised all necessary preparations in different sectors and would carry out required measures in due time.

He noted that Iranian economic working groups were studying all ideas and ways to counter the US sanctions.

The senior Iranian diplomat said the Americans were threatening Europe that it would face sanctions if it cooperated with Iran in countering the US sanctions.

"This is against European countries' sovereignty and I think that the Europeans must decide whether they will adopt measures to safeguard their sovereignty and credibility or not," Araqchi pointed out.

Despite Washington's withdrawal, Iran has not left the landmark nuclear deal yet, but stressed that the remaining signatories to the agreement have to work to offset the negative impacts of the US pullout for Iran if they wanted Tehran to remain in it.

The other parties to the JCPOA have repeatedly announced that the deal is working and should stay in place.

Araqchi said on Friday that the US sanctions primarily violated Europe’s sovereignty, security and credibility rather than target Iran's economy.

"We are waiting to see how Europe will defend its sovereignty against Washington's pressure," he added.

Also in a meeting with Director General for Political Affairs at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs Andre Haspels in Tehran on Tuesday, Araqchi warned that the possible collapse of the historic nuclear agreement would certainly add to political complications in the Middle East.

Full report at:



Iraq must stand firm against foreign meddlers: Ayatollah Khamenei

Nov 17, 2018

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has slammed foreign meddling in Iraq, saying the Arab country must stand firm against its enemies.

"The way to overcome problems and counter ill-wishers' plots is to preserve national unity in Iraq, properly recognize friends from foes, stand up to the brazen enemy, rely on youths and maintain and strengthen links with the [clerical] sources [of emulation]," the Leader said in a meeting with Iraqi President Barham Salih and his accompanying delegation in Tehran on Saturday.

Ayatollah Khamenei hailed the recent successful parliamentary vote in Iraq and the election of a president and a prime minister as well as the establishment of stability in the country.

Ayatollah Khamenei said the Iranian and Iraqi nations have deep-rooted, historical and remarkable bonds and hailed the Iraqi government and people's hospitality towards Iranians during Arba’een commemoration, which marks the 40th day since the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the third Shia Imam.

The Leader pointed to the suffering of the Iraqi people in the past and said "some ill-wishing governments and countries" now seek to deprive Iraqis of the sweet taste of their great achievement of gaining independence and prevent the restoration of peace in Iraq and the entire region.

"The only way to counter such plots is to maintain and strengthen unity among Iraqi groups, including Arabs, Kurds, Shia and Sunni [Muslims]," Ayatollah Khamenei stated.

The Leader stressed the importance of properly recognizing friends from foes in foreign policy and said some countries in the region and abroad bear a bitter grudge against Islam and Shia and Sunni Muslims in Iraq.

They are interfering in Iraq's internal affairs, Ayatollah Khamenei said, stressing the importance of strongly resisting against them without any consideration.

The Leader also emphasized that Iran and Iraq should improve relations and said, "Officials of the Islamic Republic are very determined and firm to boost cooperation with Iraq and I also deeply believe in this issue."

Ayatollah Khamenei noted that the two countries have great potential to strengthen cooperation and added that a "strong, independent and advanced" Iraq is very useful for Iran.

During the meeting, which was also attended by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Salih said he carries a clear message that nothing can change factors linking the two nations.

The Iraqi president added that Baghdad seeks to expand relations with Tehran in all sectors in line with common interests.

He said Iraq would never forget Iran’s help in the fight against Takfiri terrorism.

Full report at:



Five Saudi-paid Sudanese troopers slain in Yemeni army offensive

Nov 17, 2018

At least five Saudi-paid Sudanese soldiers have lost their lives when Yemeni army troops and fighters from allied Popular Committees launched an attack in the country’s strategic western province of Hudaydah.

A military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Saudi mercenaries were traveling on board two military vehicles in al-Tuhayat district on Saturday, when they came under attack.

Earlier this month, the spokesman for Yemen's Houthi Ansarullah movement, Mohammed Abdul-Salam, referred to the deaths of several Sudanese mercenaries in Hudaydah, saying they were "victims of their government being on the payroll in a cruel and senseless war."

"With all respect for the Sudanese nation, we hope the Sudanese regime will change its position regarding its participation in the aggression against Yemen. The Sudanese government will achieve nothing but defeat and destruction from this futile war," he added.

Abdul-Salam warned that Yemen would turn into a "graveyard" for invaders.

Separately on Saturday, Yemeni soldiers and their allies targeted the positions of Saudi-backed militiamen loyal to Yemen's former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur in an area of Yemen’s southwestern province of Dhale.

Yemeni troopers and Popular Committees fighters also fired four domestically-developed Zelzal-2 (Earthquake-2) ballistic missiles at the strongholds of Saudi soldiers and mercenaries in the kingdom’s border region of Jizan. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage though.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating military campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing the government of Hadi back to power and crushing the country’s Houthi Ansarullah movement.

According to a new report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has so far claimed the lives of around 56,000 Yemenis.

The Saudi-led war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN has already said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.

Full report at:



Turkey frees eight after raids over jailed activist

17 November 2018

Turkish police on Saturday freed eight academics and activists detained the day earlier in hugely controversial raids on suspects allegedly linked to a prominent financier of civil society activities jailed for the past year.

The United States and EU had expressed concern over Friday’s detentions, which targeted academics and activists deemed to have ties to the philanthropist and businessman Osman Kavala.

Turkish prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 20 people, with 14 suspects rounded up in the raids.

However eight of those detained were freed on Saturday after giving testimony to police while six were still being questioned, the DHA news agency reported.

DHA did not give the identities of those released.

But they included the prominent mathematician Professor Betul Tanbay of Bogazici University, according to the European Mathematical Society which had recently elected her as vice president.

Professor Turgut Tarhanli, Professor of Law and Human Rights at private Bilgi University, was also among those released, NTV television said.

Kavala is chairman of the Anadolu Kultur (Anatolian Culture) foundation which aims to overcome differences within Turkish society through culture and the arts, has sought to reach out to neighboring Armenia.

All suspects, including those released, remain accused of “creating chaos and mayhem” and “seeking to overthrow the government” in 2013 anti-government protests triggered by the planned development of Istanbul’s Gezi Park.

Kavala worked closely with foreign missions on civil society projects and his jailing has alarmed Turkey’s Western allies as well raising concerns of a clampdown on freedom of expression under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Washington was “very concerned” by the arrests and urged Turkey to release all those held “arbitrarily”.

“Transparency, rule of law, and freedom of expression and association are fundamental elements of every healthy democracy,” she said in a statement.

EU foreign affairs spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic described the detentions as “alarming”, adding that the “widespread pressure on civil society representatives” flew in the face of Turkey’s declared commitment to human rights,

The operation also targeted Anadolu Kultur executives, including deputy chairman Yigit Ekmekci, board member Ali Hakan Altinay, coordinator Asena Gunal, and consultants Meltem Aslan and Cigdem Mater.

Kavala, who is regularly compared by pro-government Turkish media to liberal US billionaire George Soros was arrested on October 18, 2017. He was remanded in custody of seeking to overthrow the constitutional order.

Full report at:





Why Muslim-Muslim ticket remains major hurdle for el-Rufai in Kaduna

18 November 2018

Despite the fact that the electorate will determine who governs them in Kaduna State in 2019, a lot of interest is generated by the choice of Hadiza Balarabe as running mate to Governor Nasir el-Rufai. The reason is that Balarabe, like el-Rufai is a Muslim. By the peculiar nature of Kaduna State, the choice of backgrounds of political actors has capacity to enhance or diminish overall presentation of a party in the eyes of a perceptive audience.

Considering the ethno-religious configuration of the state, notable political platforms that underwent primaries recently, invested immensely in choice of candidates and their flag bearers. This was to ensure that the overall interest of the majority was a crucial part of that determination.

Kaduna State has three senatorial zones – Kaduna North, predominantly populated by Muslims; South, principally made up of Christians and the Central, which is 60 per cent Muslims and 40 percent Christians. But the North and Central zones have largely produced governors for the state, while the position of deputy is reserved for the South.

In the choice of governor and deputy therefore, it is expected of a party to weigh all the options and be guided by an unwritten guide of equity. But el-Rufai, in his choice seems to want to change this old order, even though Balarabe is from Sanga LGA in southern Kaduna. She is a Muslim.

Nasir el-Rufai announced his replacement for incumbent Deputy Governor, Bala Barnabas Bantex, who has opted not to join him in the race for 2019, preferring to represent his people at the Senate on the platform of the same party.

In defending his choice, the Governor who chose Balarabe on the basis of her competence, is also acting on the basis that he may not need too many votes from the South, if he could secure just 20 per cent from there to add to his 60 or more from the other two zones.

While receiving in audience people of Sanga Local Council at the Sir Kashim Ibrahim Government House, Kaduna, on a thank you visit for picking their daughter, he said: “The people that have criticised me most on this (Muslim-Muslim ticket) are people who never voted me in the first place. So, are they not supposed to be celebrating it?

“If in their own opinion, I have made a wrong choice, then, why are they mourning? From the beginning, I had told my team that I will never choose or deny anyone appointment because of religion or ethnicity. The Government House is not a place for worship but where people work. Muslim-Muslim ticket is not a religious ticket, but a competence and performance ticket.”

No matter how elegantly or arrogantly the matter is presented, there are stakeholders who still think the decision to field a Muslim-Muslim ticket in a place like Kaduna is unwise. They say el-Rufai’s action may further fragment the state and promote disunity in a state that is constantly on the edge.

The Coalition of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) has said the governor’s decision would surely overheat the state.

As things stand, calculations point at a tendency that votes from Kaduna North and Central may be divided on the ratio of 45/55 between the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The Central zone is comprised of seven councils, of which Chikun and Kaduna South are predominantly Christians, especially the Chikuns, who already have an impression of the incumbent governor.

Isa Ashiru, candidate of the PDP for 2019 came second in the APC gubernatorial primary that threw up el-Rufai in 2014. He is not a small fry, but a notable grassroots mobiliser. This is the political battle awaiting el-Rufai.



Nigerians again wage protest rally to call for Zakzaky's release

Nov 17, 2018

Nigerian Muslims have once again waged protest rally in the capital of Abuja to demand the release of top Muslim cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky.

Calling for justice for the 65-year-old cleric, who was beaten and arrested in 2015 along with his wife on trumped-up allegations, the protesters chanted slogans in support of Zakzaky on Saturday and insisting on his immediate release from prison.

The leader of Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) has been held since December 2015 following a deadly raid by the Nigerian army troops on his residence in the country’s northern Kaduna State. He and his wife as well as a large number of his followers have been kept in custody ever since.

During the raid, Zakzaky’s wife sustained serious wounds too and more than 300 of his followers and three of his sons were killed.

Zakzaky was officially charged with unlawful assembly, disruption of public peace, allegations vehemently denied by his group, known as the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN).

In 2016, Nigeria’s federal high court ordered his unconditional release from jail following a trial, but the government has so far refused to set him free.

The latest protest rally for Zakzaky’s freedom came after a court in the city of Kaduna ruled earlier this month against his immediate release on bail due to his deteriorating health that requires urgent medical care.

“The court refused to grant him bail," Zakzaky’s lawyer Maxwell Kyon said on November 7.

"We are disappointed with the court's decision," added IMN spokesman Ibrahim Musa, emphasizing that Zakzaky should have been granted bail due to poor health. "We will keep on with our protests in Abuja and other cities."

The hearing came after several peaceful protest rallies held by IMN supporters last month to demand Zakzaky’s release. Last month, Nigerian security forces opened fire on IMN members in the capital Abuja, leaving 47 people killed.

A judicial inquiry after the 2015 brutal raid concluded that the military had killed 347 IMN members in Zaria. Soldiers buried the bodies in mass graves.

Full report at:



Boko Haram spox killed in NE Nigeria: Army


A spokesman of Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist movement has been killed in a military operation in the country's northeastern Borno state, the army said late Saturday.

“Reports available reveal that one Sale Ahmad Sale a. k. a. Baban Hassan the leader of Al-Barnawi Media group, a faction of Boko Haram was killed by a joint operation conducted by the Nigerian Army and Nigerian Airforce,” according to the statement.

The statement said the spokesman was in the camp of Abu Musab Al-Barnawi, factional leader of the Boko Haram officially affiliated to Daesh.

“The killing of the media leader is indicative of efforts by the Nigerian Army to eliminate key members of the sect. It is worthy to note that the sect is directly affiliated to the Islamic State and has carried out several attacks against own troops and innocent civilians in the past.

“Therefore, the death of the group’s media leader shows that the leadership is being targeted successfully and soon other key members would be apprehended or neutralized, thus decimating the group and its activities,” it added.

Last week the Nigerian military said two top Boko Haram commanders were killed in a military offensive in Borno state.

Nigeria has been battling Boko Haram insurgency since 2009 when the group turned violent following the death of its former leader Mohamed Yusuf in police custody.

Full report at:




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