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Islamic World News ( 21 Nov 2022, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Fugitive Zakir Naik , Wanted In India For Promoting Enmity Among Religious Groups And Inciting Youths To Commit Terrorist Acts, Invited By Qatar To Give Talks During FIFA World Cup

New Age Islam News Bureau

21 November 2022

Zakir Naik

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• Fugitive Zakir Naik , Wanted In India For Promoting Enmity Among Religious Groups And Inciting Youths To Commit Terrorist Acts, Invited By Qatar To Give Talks During FIFA World Cup

• Islamabad Police To Use Body Cameras To ‘Record’ PTI’s Long March

• Fanfare For First Flight From Israel To Qatar

• 19 Afghans Lashed For Adultery, Theft As ‘Hardline’ Taliban Enforces Sharia

• Norway-Based HengawRights Group Activists Fear Major Iran Crackdown In Kurdish-Populated Town

 

India

• Mangaluru Blast Suspect Radicalised by ISIS, Had Planned More Bombings

• POCSO applies to Muslim marriage if one party is a minor: Kerala HC

• Karnataka: Mangaluru Blast Case Likely To Be Handed Over To NIA

• Assam CM Himanta Sarma raises Mehrauli killing issue, demands law against 'Love Jihad'

• Gujarat: BJP woos Muslims sans candidate

• Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan to be honored at Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah

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Pakistan

• Process of appointments to top army slots has begun: Pak Defence Minister

• Imran has clarified establishment not behind his ouster, says Punjab CM Parvez Elahi

• Pakistan rejects India's remarks at 'No Money for Terror' meeting

• SC orders to release Pervez Musharraf's attacker Rana Tanveer

• CTD arrests 7 terrorists of banned outfits, including Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan

• Anti-terror court extends Imran's bail in Sec 144 violation case

• Indian vlogger helps family separated at Partition reunite

• Chaman border with Afghanistan set to reopen today after over a week

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Arab World

• Crown Prince instructs Saudi ministries, entities to support World Cup host Qatar

• Saudi-financed UNRWA health center opens in Jordan-based Palestinian refugee camp

• One killed in new Iran strikes on Kurdish groups in Iraq

• Egypt ranks as third most populous African country with 104.2m

• Saudi National Music Band makes its Rome debut

• Saudi Arabia takes honors at World Robot Olympiad

• Saudi Arabia’s Dar Al Arkan, Trump sign deal to build $4 bln Oman real estate project

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South Asia

• Two extremists on death penalty for killing US blogger escape from Bangladesh court

• Norwegian Chargé d’affaires Meets Taliban FM

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Mideast

• Palestine has ‘natural, legal right’ to become full state member of UN, Ambassador Riyad Mansour tells Arab News

• Rights group: Houthis abducted 16,804 civilians since late 2014

• Iran sentences to death sixth person over protests

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Southeast Asia

Muhyiddin gains backing for PM bid after indecisive Malaysian polls

Malaysia’s hung election crisis drags out as party dithers

Earthquake shakes Indonesia’s Java island; at least 46 dead, 700 injured

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North America

• US to deploy 'over 100 unmanned vessels' in Gulf waters next year

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Europe

• Türkiye to conduct ground operation against terrorists: Erdogan

• YPG/PKK rocket attack kills at least 3 people in southeastern Türkiye

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/zakir-naik-india-religious-terrorist-qatar/d/128451

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Fugitive Zakir Naik , wanted in India for promoting enmity among religious groups and inciting youths to commit terrorist acts, invited by Qatar to give talks during FIFA World Cup

Nov 21, 2022

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 20

Zakir Naik

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Islamist evangelist Zakir Naik, wanted in India for promoting enmity among religious groups and inciting youths to commit terrorist acts, has been invited by Qatar to give lectures throughout the FIFA World Cup which began on Sunday at a stadium 35 km from Doha.

Fled India in 2016

Zakir Naik, who faces charges of money laundering and hate speech in India, fled country in 2016

He took refuge in Malaysia, where he was banned from giving speeches

His Peace TV network is also banned in Bangladesh, Canada, Sri Lanka and the UK

The news about the invite split the social media with many raising questions about Naik getting a public airing, three years after he was banned from delivering speeches in Malaysia, his country of refuge after he fled India in 2016 on accusations of hate speeches, subversion and money laundering. Besides India, his Peace TV network is also banned in Bangladesh, Canada, Sri Lanka and the UK.

Naik is accused of influencing through his speeches perpetrators of the 2016 Dhaka bombing that killed 20, including 17 foreigners, and the much more devastating Easter bombings in Sri Lanka that killed over 250 in 2019. Some who joined the ISIS and were later apprehended confessed that the turning point was their meeting with Naik, who has denied having any role.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/fugitive-zakir-naik-invited-by-qatar-to-give-talks-during-fifa-world-cup-452970

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Islamabad police to use body cameras to ‘record’ PTI’s long march

Mohammad Asghar | IkramJunaidi

November 21, 2022

ISLAMABAD/RAWALPINDI: With the long march of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) just round the corner, the Islamabad police have decided to equip personnel deployed at entry points of the capital with body cameras to ensure accountability during the protest.

In a pre-emptive measure, the police also decided to deploy officials at the entry points and strategic locations in the federal capital. In case the protesters tried to attack the police officials or destroy public property during the long march, the audio and video recordings from these cameras will be used to identify and nab the culprits.

This is not the first time that the police have decided to use body cameras for the sake of transparency. During the tenure of the PTI government, the police had decided to equip officials at check posts with body cameras after complaints of misbehaviour and extortion.

However, it will be the first time that cameras would be used in Islamabad to tackle law and order situations and to identify potential miscreants.

According to details, at least 10 cameras have been procured in the first phase to test their performance and the number of cameras will be increased after the pilot phase. These cameras are equipped with night vision capabilities and can record audio along with videos as well.

Similarly, Rangers and Frontier Constabulary personnel will also be equipped with modern technology to perform their duties during the long march.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Saturday announced that he would attend the long march in person on November 26 in Rawalpindi. On the same day, in a report submitted to the Islamabad High Court (IHC), the capital police highlighted the risk of an “accidental confrontation” with the police personnel from Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, who have been providing security cover to the PTI long march.

ICT police meeting

In a meeting chaired by IG Akbar Nasir Khan on Sunday, the capital police took stock of the security situation arising from the expected march on Islamabad by the PTI supporters, said a statement by the police on its Twitter handle.

Sharing details on the account, the police said nobody would be allowed to take law into their hands. They added that in light of the potential march towards Islamabad and Red Zone, the administration may block entry from Rawalpindi to Islamabad on Nov 26 – the day on which former prime minister Imran Khan’s supporters will converge on Rawalpindi.

They said that permission from the Islamabad administration would be a prerequisite for any political activity in the federal capital. They added: “Police, FC, and Rangers will be deployed to ensure the security of the Red Zone and security will be improved.”

“Keeping in view the threats of terrorism, search operations [by law enforcers] will be conducted throughout the district,” the police said, adding that strict action would be taken in case of any obstructions.

The CPO headquarters will personally supervise the personnel posted on duty across the district and take care of their accommodation, food, and other facilities, the statement said, adding that DIG-level officers will also personally review the facilities for the personnel posted in Islamabad for the long march.

Meanwhile, in Rawalpindi, PTI leaders Asad Umar and Shibli Faraz held a meeting at the City Police Office on Sunday to discuss the security protocols put in place by the provincial police to maintain law and order during the PTI long march. According to sources, the PTI leaders met the Rawalpindi CPO at his office to discuss the security protocol for the marchers.

It was the third meeting between PTI leaders and the district police in which issues related to security and route of the long march were discussed. The PTI has planned to hold a public meeting near Shamsabad on Nov 26.

Wasiq Qayyum Abbasi, a PTI leader and member of the provincial assembly, is expected to apply to the district administration for permission to hold the public meeting near the Survey of Pakistan building which is located close to Faizabad interchange.

Heavy deployment of law enforcement personnel has been made by the Islamabad administration at Faizabad Interchange to cope with the law and order situation.

The Rawalpindi police have already chalked out a security plan under whichElite commandos and snipers would be deployed on the container of PTI Chairman Imran Khan and other leaders and a three-layer security to be maintained continuously.

Plain clothed security personnel will accompany the main procession for surveillance while the government hospitals will be on alert.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1722208/islamabad-police-to-use-body-cameras-to-record-ptis-long-march

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Fanfare for first flight from Israel to Qatar

Reuters/ November 21, 2022

A soccer fan carries a replica of the World Cup trophy at the Katara cultural village in Doha. Picture: EPA

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TEL AVIV: Balloons festooned the departure gate for the first commercial flight between Israel and Qatar on Sunday, permitted by Doha for World Cup fans despite a lack of formal bilateral relations.

While the excitement was mainly at being able to attend the soccer tournament, for which Israel did not qualify, with such surprising ease several passengers voiced hope that the non-stop flights would clear the way to fuller detente with Qatar.

They were issued contact cards for a discreet Israeli consular delegation sent ahead to provide emergency support, a reminder of their current semi-recognised status in Qatar, which is close to Iran and has hosted leaders of Palestinian Hamas.

“There were a few concerns, I cannot deny that,” said SagiAshkevitz, flying with three friends to his second World Cup.

“But in the end, the idea of watching (Lionel) Messi for the last time, together with the idea that we are actually making history, overcame all of the concerns,” Ashkevitz added.

At least 10,000 Israelis are expected at the month-long matches, most of them coming through third countries. Those boarding the TUS Airways plane at Ben Gurion Airport were originally told they would have a brief stopover in Cyprus.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1722172/fanfare-for-first-flight-from-israel-to-qatar

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19 Afghans lashed for adultery, theft as ‘hardline’ Taliban enforces Sharia

Nov 21, 2022

When the Taliban took over in August 2021, they had promised to be lenient with the implementation of Sharia laws.

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By India Today Web Desk: As the Taliban resorted to the strict implementation of Sharia, 19 people, including nine women, were lashed in Afghanistan’s northeast province for adultery, theft and running away from home.

When the Taliban seized power last year in August, they had promised to be more moderate and show leniency toward women and minority rights.

However, a Supreme Court official, Abdul Rahim Rashid, said on Sunday that 10 men and nine women were lashed 39 times each in Taloqan city in northeastern Takhar province, on 11 November.

The lashings for their “crimes” took place on Friday, at the city’s main mosque and in presence of elders, clerics and residents, the Associated Press reported.

On November 17, a Taliban spokesperson had said that they will stick to their strict interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia. Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesperson, said that the group’s supreme leader, HibatullahAkhunzada, met with Taliban judges a few days ago and instructed them to implement Sharia law in their rulings.

Several photos and videos have emerged on social media on and off since August last year, showing the Taliban punishing people. But the Supreme Court’s statement has confirmed the fears that the Taliban are serious about Sharia in Afghanistan.

Rashid did not provide personal details on the 19 people, such as where they were from, or what happened to them after they were lashed. He said their cases were assessed by two courts before they were convicted, confirming information in a Supreme Court statement.

During their previous rule in the late 1990s, the group carried out public executions, floggings, and stoning of those convicted of crimes in Taliban courts.

https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/19-afghans-lashed-for-adultery-theft-as-hardline-taliban-enforces-sharia-2299781-2022-11-21

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Norway-based Hengaw rights group Activists fear major Iran crackdown in Kurdish-populated town

AFP

November 20, 2022

Protesters call on the UN to take action against the treatment of hapless women in Iran during a recent demonstration in New York City. (AFP/File)

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PARIS: Activists have expressed alarm that Iran was implementing a major crackdown in a Kurdish-populated town that has seen intense anti-regime protests in the last few days.

Reinforcements of the security forces were sent to the city of Mahabad in western Iran, rights groups said, while images and audio files of heavy gunfire and screams were posted overnight.

Iran’s clerical leadership has been shaken by more than two months of protests sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman of Kurdish origin who had been arrested by the Tehran morality police.

The very first protests took place in Kurdish-populated areas of Iran including at Amini’s funeral in her home town of Saqez, before spreading nationwide.

Rights groups had earlier posted footage of defiant protests in Mahabad, including after the funerals of victims of the state’s crackdown on the protests, with people staging sit-ins in the streets and setting up barricades.

The Norway-based Hengaw rights group said “armed troops” had been despatched to Mahabad from Urmia, the main city of West Azerbaijan province.

“In Mahabad’s residential areas, there is a lot of gunfire,” it wrote on Twitter.

The group posted footage of helicopters flying over Mahabad which it said carried members of the Revolutionary Guards sent to quell the protests.

Business owners throughout the area were going to observe a strike on Sunday to protest against the violence by the security forces, it said.

The Iran Human Rights  group, also Norway based, posted footage Saturday-Sunday that it said showed gunfire echoing around the city.

Its director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam wrote that authorities “cut electricity and machine gun shooting is heard ... Unconfirmed reports of protesters being killed or wounded.”

He posted an audio file in which screams are clearly heard amid continuous gunfire.

Kurds make up one of Iran’s most important non-Persian ethnic minority groups and generally adhere to Sunni Islam rather than the Shiism dominant in the country.

Iran’s Tasnim news agency accused “rioters” of “spreading terror” in the town by setting fire to houses belonging to security and military personnel and blocking streets.

It claimed most of the the perpetrators had been arrested, with nobody killed, saying security had returned and denying the reports of a general strike.

Mahabad has particular resonance for Kurds as the main town of the short-lived Republic of Mahabad, an unrecognised Kurdish statelet which sprung up with Soviet support in 1946 in the aftermath of World War II but existed for less than a year before Iran reasserted control.

Hengaw had on Saturday warned the situation was “critical” in the town of Divandarreh in the western province of Kurdistan, where government forces had shot dead at least three civilians.

It also expressed concern about the situation in other Kurdish-populated towns with explosions heard in Bukan and Saqez, as well as gunfire in Bukan.

Hengaw also posted footage it said was from the town of Sanandaj, also in the region, which it said showed a woman being fired upon in a river bed by security forces as she tried to escape.

With the protests cutting across social classes and ethnicities in Iran, the movement represents the biggest challenge to the country’s leadership under Ali Khamenei since the revolution of 1979.

The state has responded with a crackdown that IHR said in an updated toll on Saturday had left at least 378 people dead, among them 47 children.

Protesters have been killed in 25 of Iran’s 31 provinces, including 123 in eastern Sistan-Baluchistan where the protests had a distinct origin but have fed into the nationwide anger, it said.

Authorities have also issued death sentences to five unnamed people over the protests, with Amnesty International saying at least 21 people so far have been charged with crimes over the demonstrations that could see them sentenced to death.

Khamenei on Saturday vowed “punishment” for “murders” and vandalism during the protests across the country.

He was quoted by state television as saying foreign powers “were trying to get people out on the streets” and “exhaust the authorities,” but said they had failed.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2203251/middle-east

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India

Mangaluru Blast Suspect Radicalised by ISIS, Had Planned More Bombings

NOVEMBER 21, 2022

Mangaluru autorickshaw blast suspect Mohammed Shariq may have been radicalised by the ISIS and had several fake Aadhaar cards in his possession, top intelligence sources told News18.

Sources alleged that Shariq was not a suicide bomber but was going to plant the bomb in a different place when it exploded in the three-wheeler. The suspect, who is undergoing treatment for severe burns sustained in the blast, is currently not in a position to be questioned.

Sources also alleged that he had planned more blasts and most of the material was ready at his place.

According to preliminary investigation, Shariq was earlier booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for objectionable graffiti on the walls of Mangaluru.

It was only after the police realised that the Aadhaar card recovered from the injured passenger following the blast belonged to another person that they intensified their investigation.

Karnataka Director General of Police Praveen Sood said revealed on Sunday that the explosion inside a moving autorickshaw near a police station in Mangaluru was triggered by explosives concealed in a cooker. He described it is an “act of terror intended to cause damage”.

The suspect, who was the passenger in that vehicle had terror links, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said and added that sleuths from the National Investigation Agency and Intelligence Bureau have joined the Karnataka police in investigation. According to preliminary probe, it appeared to be a low intensity improvised explosive device and further investigation would bring out more details, Bommai told reporters.

The chances of a Tamil Nadu link also surfaced as it has now emerged that the suspect was in possession of two fake Aadhaar cards, one with an address from TN, and another with a Hubballi address. According to police sources, an explosives laden cooker, fitted with a detonator, wires and batteries were used to trigger the blast and mangled pieces of these have been recovered from the spot.

After the explosion near a police station in Mangaluru, the driver and passenger (suspect) were injured and the autorickshaw’s interior portion was badly damaged. Special police teams have fanned out to places including Coimbatore as part of the investigation. The suspect had used a mobile phone that had a SIM card obtained using the Tamil Nadu address, sources said.

In a tweet, the DGP said: “It’s confirmed now. The blast is not accidental but an act of terror with intention to cause serious damage. Karnataka State Police is probing deep into it along with central agencies.”

The TN police, in the meanwhile, questioned a 40-year-old man in a village near Ooty as the SIM card used by the accused is suspected to have been bought using his Aadhaar card. He was being taken to Coimbatore for interrogation, the police said.

https://www.news18.com/news/india/exclusive-mangaluru-blast-suspect-was-radicalised-by-islamic-state-had-planned-more-bombings-6431011.html

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POCSO applies to Muslim marriage if one party is a minor: Kerala HC

November 21, 2022

The Kerala High Court ruled that if one of the parties in a Muslim marriage is a minor, the offence will come under the POCSO Act.

In his ruling releated to a case, Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas said that in a marriage between Muslims, if a minor is there, it cannot be excluded under the Pocso Act.

The judge is the son of retired Justice K.T. Thomas who had turned down the bail plea of a 31-year-old Muslim man from West Bengal in a case registered against him by the Thiruvalla Police in August this year where he was alleged to have “kidnapped” a 14-year-old girl.

The case surfaced when the local health authorities at Thiruvalla registered a complaint that a girl nearing 16 years (as per Aadhaar Card records) had come for an injection and was found out to be pregnant.

But Rehman claimed that the wedding took place at his home state in March 2021 under the Muslim law, but the police informed the court that according to her parents no such marriage had taken place.

However the court, which pointed out that Muslims who attain puberty were allowed to marry under their traditional law, but it was questionable if the personal law would prevail over a special legislation like the POCSO Act.

Under the Act, sexual exploitation in any manner against a child is looked up as an offence and is not excluded from the sweep of the statute.

https://www.thestatesman.com/india/if-one-party-in-muslim-marriage-is-a-minor-offence-will-come-under-pocso-act-kerala-hc-1503132758.html

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Karnataka: Mangaluru Blast Case Likely To Be Handed Over To NIA

By ANI

Edited by Shail Shukla |

21 November 2022

New Delhi : The low-intensity blast that occurred in an autorickshaw in Karnataka’s Mangaluru city is likely to be handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), sources said on Monday.

With Karnataka Police declaring that the blast, which occurred on November 19 evening near a police station, is not accidental but an act of terror, the case would be handover to the NIA anytime.

Sources in the agencies and the Central government told ANI that “discussion is going on high level, and there is a possibility that the case may be handed over to the NIA by late this evening or any day in this week”.

The blast occurred in an autorickshaw in Karnataka’s Mangaluru city on November 19 injuring its driver and a passenger. The autorickshaw caught fire after the blast, and the driver and a passenger sustained burn injuries. The police mentioned that the explosion was not just an accident but an “act of terror with the intention to cause serious damage”.

Also Read: Congress Looking To Win 125 Seats In Gujarat Assembly Elections, Says Ashok Gehlot

Auto driver Purushotham, and the prime accused, identified as 24-year-old Mohammed Shariq, were on fire when shopkeepers and local residents rushed to their rescue soon after the blast.

On November 20, Karnataka Police identified the bomber as Karnataka’s Thirthahalli-based Mohammed Shariq, a terror accused charged with links to the Islamic State (IS), who is on the run since September 2022.

The bomber had suffered nearly 40 per cent burns in the explosion.A day after the explosion in Mangaluru, Karnataka Director General of Police Praveen Sood on said the ‘mysterious blast’ was an act of terror and a “deep probe” into the incident is underway.

“It’s confirmed now. The blast is not accidental but an act of terror with the intention to cause serious damage. Karnataka State Police is probing deep into it along with central agencies,” Sood tweeted.

A bomb disposal squad and a dog squad were rushed to the blast site and a team of NIA officers also visited the blast site. Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had said the suspect had terror links as he had travelled to various places, including Coimbatore in neighbouring Tamil Nadu.

“Prima facie, this is a terror act. The places he had travelled to such as Coimbatore or any other places clearly point to his terror link,” CM Bommai had said.

The Karnataka CM had also said the NIA and Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials have also joined the state police in investigating the matter. Going by the information available, it appeared that Shariq was trained to make Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that could be triggered by timer devices.

A burnt pressure cooker and batteries were found at the scene of the blast.The Karnataka DGP had said that investigators would look into the similarities between the nature of explosives used in the Mangaluru blast and in the Coimbatore car explosion which took place on October 23, in which the main suspect Mubin was killed.

https://indiaaheadnews.com/karnataka/karnataka-mangaluru-blast-case-likely-to-be-handed-over-to-nia-247555/

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Assam CM Himanta Sarma raises Mehrauli killing issue, demands law against 'Love Jihad'

November 21, 2022

New Delhi: Assam Chief Minister Himanta BiswaSarma on Sunday demanded a stringent law against “Love Jihad” as he raised the issue of the gruesome Mehrauli killing while campaigning for the municipal polls in northeast Delhi which was struck by communal riots in 2020.

“Love Jihad” is a term often used by the BJP and Hindu right-wing leaders to refer to illegal religious conversions allegedly through force or deceit.

As the country has got a law against triple talaq, “we need a law against Love Jihad and also for a common civil code”, Sarma said during the BJP’s ‘Vijay Sankalp’ roadshow in northeast Delhi’s Ghonda area for the 4 December Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) polls.

He also appealed to people to shun “anti-Hindu and corrupt leaders such as (Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convener) Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia”, alleging they were symbols of “division in society” and not development.

Raising the Mehrauli murder case, he said, “You saw a few days ago that a person Aaftab cut Shraddha into 35 pieces. Love Jihad about which we used to read in newspapers has now reached our cities and metros.” Aaftab Poonawala allegedly strangled Shraddha Walkar, 27, on May 18 and sawed her body into nearly three dozen pieces which he kept in a 300-litre fridge for almost three weeks at his residence in south Delhi’s Mehrauli before dumping them across the city over several days.

People should vote for the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make the country strong, the Assam chief minister, who was joined in the roadshow by North East Delhi MP Manoj Tiwari and other party leaders, said.

Voting for 250 wards of the MCD will be held on 4 December and results will be announced after counting of votes on 7 December.

https://www.firstpost.com/india/assam-cm-himanta-sarma-raises-mehrauli-killing-issue-demands-law-against-love-jihad-11663961.html

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Gujarat: BJP woos Muslims sans candidate

21st November 2022

By Rajesh Thakur

NEW DELHI:  The BJP has not fielded a single Muslim candidate in the Gujarat assembly elections, yet it appears more desperate than ever to win over Muslim voters. How? The saffron party is said to have recruited thousands of Muslim leaders and activists from various minority fronts to help it with campaigning. They are going all-out in their statewide campaign to win over Muslim votes, especially Pasmanda Muslim voters.

Several Pasmanda community members are among the nearly 5,000 prominent and influential Muslim leaders and workers, according to BJP sources, who are running aggressive election campaigns in all assembly districts where minority voters have been influencing the results of elections until 2017.

A BJP source says there are 27 assembly segments in Gujarat where Muslim voters have a significant impact on the outcome of the assembly elections. The party, therefore,  has concentrated its strategy on these assembly segments by using Muslim community leaders and workers to conduct door-to -door campaigning in every Muslim-dominated neighborhood.

“Their task is to inform the Muslim voters about the welfare schemes launched for the state’s Muslims and other minorities by the BJP government,’’ said a party source. The Muslim leaders are also attempting to dispel “doubts and misconceptions” among community voters.

Party sources said a few days ago, up to 250 BJP Muslim Morcha officials from Maharashtra joined the party’s campaigning in Gujarat’s Muslim neighbourhoods, which have previously been Congress’ strongholds. Muslim voters’ comments have been encouraging. One of the Muslim leaders of the UP BJP Minority Morcha said, “A strong trust for the Modi governance is palpable across the state.”

In Gujarat, there are 58, 46,761 Muslims out of the total population of 6,04,39,692, or around 9.67% of the population overall, according to government statistics. Jamal Siddiqui, national president of the BJP Minority Morcha, responded to a question from this newspaper by saying, “BJP is now not ‘untouchable’ to the Muslim or any other minority community.

In comparison to the 2017 assembly election and the 2019 local government election, we are hopeful of receiving more Muslim community votes this time.’’ He said Muslim leaders of Gujarat Minority Morcha are working hard to achieve party candidates’ victories in all seats with a majority-minority population in 2022.

The national general secretary of the Gujarat BJP Minority Morcha, Dr Sufi MK Chishty, also asserted that in the past 24 years, Muslims in the state have seen peace and prosperity. “They cannot be fooled by any other party against the BJP,” he said, pointing out that 200 Muslim candidates from the BJP were elected in the recent civic elections in Gujarat from a variety of civic wards with Muslim majority. This demonstrates how Muslim voters are increasingly trusting the BJP leadership,’’ said Dr Chishty.

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Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan to be honored at Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah

ARAB NEWS

November 21, 2022

DUBAI: Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, popularly known as King Khan, will receive an honorary award to recognize his contribution to the film industry at the opening ceremony of the Red Sea International Film Festival’s second edition in Jeddah.

“DilwaleDulhaniya Le Jayenge,” the 1995 film that catapulted the actor to super stardom, will also be screened at the festival on Dec. 1.

Mohammed Al-Turki, CEO of the Red Sea International Film Festival, commented: “We are thrilled to be honoring Shah Rukh Khan, who is a remarkable talent and global superstar. He has captivated audiences since his earliest performances and is one of the world’s most renowned actors working today. After 30 years in the industry, Shah Rukh Khan remains one of the most successful superstars of Indian cinema and is beloved by audiences around the world. We look forward to welcoming him to Jeddah this December.”

Khan said in a statement that he is “honored” to be receiving the award. “It’s wonderful to be here among my fans from Saudi and the region who have always been huge supporters of my films. I’m looking forward to celebrating the region’s talent and being a part of this exciting film community.”

The actor is reportedly shooting his latest film titled “Dunki” in Jeddah, where he has been spotted around town by fans. The film is directed by RajkumarHirani and stars TaapseePannu along with Boman Irani.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2203381/lifestyle

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Pakistan

Process of appointments to top army slots has begun: Pak Defence Minister

November 21, 2022

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif announced on Monday that the process of making appointments to the top slots of the Pakistan Army had begun.

The defence minister made the announcement in a tweet, adding that the process would be completed soon in line with all constitutional requirements.

Separately, in an informal talk with reporters in Islamabad, Asif ruled out reports of a deadlock over the name of the new army chief.

“There is no deadlock. Once the summary is received, then a discussion will be held,” the senior PML-N leader said.

The defence minister said the prime minister would take the army leadership into confidence, following which a decision would be taken. “Currently, there are five to six senior-most candidates. But no decision has been taken as yet on the names.”

Asif said that consultations over the current state of affairs were taking place on a daily basis. “I had also informed the media earlier that the process [of appointments] would start on Monday,” he said.

He also went on to say that the government was not facing “any pressure” and was also not in any haste.

The minister said that a “dossier” and a summary would be sent to the Prime Minister House. “Subsequently, the prime minister will formalise everything and send it to the president.”

When asked to comment on when a formal decision could be expected, the minister responded: “Maybe by tomorrow or the day after.”

COAS selection

Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa’s tenure is ending on Nov 29, but the appointment of new chief is likely to take place before Nov 27, the day when one of the candidates is going to retire.

A source in the Prime Minister’s Office told Dawn that the ministry of defence will initiate the summary for the appointment of new army chief before Nov 27.

A source in the defence ministry said it had been decided that the appointment will be made before Nov 27.

The source said that the government, its allies and the military establishment were on the same page on the issue as the consultation process among the three had been completed.

The role of President Dr Arif Alvi has come to the limelight in the appointment process as some media reports claimed that he could hold the notification for 25 days.

However, PM’s spokesman Fahd Hussain while talking to Dawn ruled out the possibility of any such action by the president.

He said under the Constitution the powers to appoint the new army chief rested with the prime minister and he would use his powers to select the best-suited person for the slot.

On Saturday, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari advised President Alvi against creating any “sort of disorder” in the army chief’s appointment.

“It is the last chance for the president and he would have to bear any consequence for any disorder. As long as Arif Alvi sahib’s role is concerned, his test has been taken before whether he will stay loyal to Pakistan, its Constitution, its nation and democracy or will he fulfil his friendship with [Imran] Khan sahib,” he added.

Separately, Special Assistant to PM on Law and Justice Irfan Qadir told Dawn President Alvi could not hold the summary as under Article 243 of the Constitution the appointment of chief of the army staff was solely a function of federal government and not the president.

“This article clarifies that command and control of the army rests with the federal government and it has further been defined in articles 90 and 91 of the Constitution,” he added.

“[The] president cannot delay the summary and has to sign it at once,” he added.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1722267/process-of-appointments-to-top-army-slots-has-begun-khawaja-asif

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Imran has clarified establishment not behind his ouster, says Punjab CM Parvez Elahi

The Newspaper's Staff Reporter

November 21, 2022 

Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi speaks to the media in Lahore on Sunday. —DawnNewsTV

LAHORE: Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi has said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan had clarified that the establishment had neither any role in toppling his (Khan’s) government, nor in the assassination attempt on the former premier.

MrElahi was referring to Mr Khan’s statement wherein he stated that “Let’s accept the establishment was not behind the regime change conspiracy, but it should have played its role and stopped the conspiracy, as it knew well about the background of the corrupt and the looters”. “No regime change conspiracy can meet success without support from within,” Mr Khan had stressed.

Speaking to the media persons here on Sunday, Elahi said the previous PML-N governments in Punjab had only staged “political dramas”, while the PTI-led coalition government in the province did massive development works.

He said Imran Khan had also made it clear that nothing was going on in the federation, except dramas. “For the past one decade or so only fake actions were taken in Punjab and the matters became worse,” he said.

Elahi said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had been badly exposed after coming into power. Answering a query, he said the question about return of Nawaz Sharif should be asked from Sharif family and added that the PML-N leaders had “pulled long faces”.

The chief minister ordered effective steps to eradicate the incidents of kidnap of newborns. He added that under the new IT board system, alarms would start ringing if anyone tried to take an infant out of a hospital without permission.

MrElahi also ordered launching of an operation to remove encroachments from a piece of land near the Mayo Hospital, and added that substitute arrangements should be made for those who would be displaced during the activity.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1722112/imran-has-clarified-establishment-not-behind-his-ouster-says-punjab-cm-parvez-elahi

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Pakistan rejects India's remarks at 'No Money for Terror' meeting

November 21, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan strongly rejected the "baseless propaganda and irresponsible remarks" by the Indian leadership directed against it at the so-called "No Money for Terror" Ministerial meeting held in New Delhi, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Monday.

The statement issued by the Foreign Office said that India — guided by its incorrigible and incurable desire to malign Pakistan at every available forum — continues to mislead the world about Pakistan’s counter-terrorism credentials.

It repeatedly levels false accusations of Islamabad's alleged involvement in the financing of proscribed terrorist organisations, said the statement.

The Foreign Office said India’s hollow rhetoric has fallen flat in the face of Pakistan’s successful counter-terrorism measures, which have been accorded due recognition and acknowledgement from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

It mentioned that Pakistan's robust and credible AML and CFT actions, and satisfactory implementation of FATF action plans duly secured the country's successful removal of the Grey List this October.

Regrettably, the Foreign Office mentioned that India is continuing its relentless terror campaign in the Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

There is no justification for India’s state-sponsored terrorism in IIOJK, where its security forces terrorise, torment and torture innocent Kashmiris with impunity, every day, the statement said.

"Most deplorably, India has been harbouring and protecting terrorists for decades. In 2019, it acquitted Swami Aseemanand, the main character of the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast that killed 43 Pakistani citizens on Indian soil."

Earlier this year, the Indian courts released 11 convicts of the Bilkis Bano gang-rape case during the 2002 Godhra riots in Gujarat, the Foreign Office noted.

Similarly, during the 26/11 Mumbai attacks trial, India deliberately withheld witnesses and credible evidence from Pakistani courts, despite repeated requests over the last 14 years, only to drag and perpetuate the case to serve its sinister political agenda, it added.

India’s involvement in inciting terrorism inside Pakistan is widely established and documented, the Foreign Office noted.

It added that in November 2020, Pakistan released a comprehensive dossier providing evidence of India’s involvement in subversive activities in Pakistan.

"The convicted, serving, Indian Naval commander Kulbhushan Yadav is undeniable proof of India’s direct involvement in sabotage and terror. Indian links to TTP and other elements inimical to Pakistan inside Afghanistan are also well known."

The Foreign Office then urged the international community to hold India accountable for its actions in IIOJK, its patronage of terrorist entities, and for fomenting terror in neighbouring countries.

India is also advised to immediately reform and rectify its credentials on terrorism and desist from shamelessly levelling false accusations against Pakistan for selfish political interests, the Foreign Office added.

In his remarks aimed at Pakistan and China, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said last week that while some countries support terrorism “as part of their foreign policy”, others do so by “blocking action against terrorists,” reported The Indian Express.

"Sometimes, there are indirect arguments made in support of terrorism to block action against terrorists. There is no place for an ambiguous approach while dealing with a global threat. It is an attack on humanity, freedom and civilisation," he claimed.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/1012217-pakistan-repudiates-indias-baseless-remarks-at-no-money-for-terror-meeting

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SC orders to release Pervez Musharraf's attacker Rana Tanveer

By Maryam Nawaz

November 21, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday ordered to release Rana Tanveer — who attacked former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf — following the completion of his sentence.

Tanveer, despite completing his sentence, was not released. The case was heard by a three-member bench headed by Justice Sardar Tariq Masood.

During the hearing, the petitioner's lawyer Hashmat Habib said that his client has completed his sentence, however, he is still not being released.

"The term of life imprisonment is 14 years and my client has been in prison for almost 20 years," said Habib.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the top court rejected the federal and Punjab governments' pleas against Tanveer's release and ordered the jail authorities to set him free.

Tanveer was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2005 by the apex court after he was arrested on December 31, 2003, in the Rawalpindi pump attack case.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/1012210-sc-orders-to-release-pervez-musharrafs-attacker-rana-tanveer

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CTD arrests 7 terrorists of banned outfits, including Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan

November 21, 2022

The Punjab Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) has foiled a major terror attack as it arrested seven alleged terrorists, affiliated with banned outfit, from different areas of the province.

According to details, the Punjab CTD conducted raids in several areas of the province, and arrested seven suspects of banned outfits, including Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

The arrested suspects were identified as Zahid, Abdullah, Nauman, Akram, Siddique Khan, Ehsan and Shoaib. The raiding team also recovered explosive materials, detonators, fuses and thousands of rupees from the possessions of arrested terrorists.

Earlier on November 15, the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) and police killed four alleged terrorists in Dera town area of Dera Ismail Khan (DI Khan).

According to police, a joint operation was conducted with CTD in Dera town area of DI Khan. One suspect was killed in an exchange of fire with the Police and CTD personnel while the other three terrorists were killed in the explosion during the operation.

According to police spokesperson the exchange of fire took place in the muddy area of DI Khan. Explosives, arms, and ammunition were seized from the possession of the killed alleged terrorists.

https://pakobserver.net/ctd-arrests-7-terrorists-of-banned-outfit/

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Anti-terror court extends Imran's bail in Sec 144 violation case

November 21, 2022

ISLAMABAD:

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Monday extended the bail of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan in a case pertaining to protests and interference in state affairs.

According to Express News, the case was heard by ATC Judge Raja Jawad Abbas Hasan, with Rai Tajumal Hussain Lati appearing on behalf of the former premier.

Lati informed the court that Imran could not be present in court due to his bullet injuries and stated that Imran is unwell due to his injuries.

The court extended Imran’s interim bail till November 28 after accepting the request for exemption from appearance on medical grounds. It also called for the complete medical report of the PTI chief to be submitted at the next hearing.

The case was then adjourned for further hearing till November 28.

‘Violating Section 144’

The Islamabad police had filed a case against PTI chief Imran Khan and other party leaders for violating Section 144 during their rally in Islamabad held in August.

According to the first information report (FIR), filed by Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Muhammad Anwar, the federal capital police had made announcements through loudspeakers that Section 144 was imposed in the city, however, the rally had continued.

The party leaders had participated in the rally to protest PTI leader Shahbaz Gill’s arrest and 'custodial torture'.

According to the PTI leaders’ lawyers, the case against them was “baseless”, adding that the rally was peaceful and the cases were an "attempt to suppress" the leaders.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/2387380/anti-terror-court-extends-imrans-bail-in-sec-144-violation-case

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Indian vlogger helps family separated at Partition reunite

November 21, 2022

DERA GHAZI KHAN: Social media has played a pivotal role in reunification of families who were separated during the Partition of the subcontinent in 1947.

Chawla family of Taunsa Sharif tehsil’s Nutkani village is one of those who parted ways and met after 75 years with the efforts of a vlogger.

A vlog recently went viral on social media under title “MITHRA BHIRA” (sweet brother) and revealed the case of a family whose one brother Abdul Majeed and a sister decided to stay at Nutkani village while other members of the family left the abode and settled in a town near New Delhi. Majeed and his sister later embraced Islam. Majeed later passed away.

Indian vlogger Manu Mehta, who helps such families reunite, got information about the Chawla family and played a vital role in connecting the family. Mehta, along with Kirshan Kumar Chawla and his brother Dianand Kumar Chawla, came to Pakistan after getting permission from both governments and the two visited their birthplace and met cousin Sheikh Saifullah, son of the late Abdul Majeed, and their sister and her children.

Raitra police SHO Yousaf Baloch told Dawn that his team provided security to the Indian guests who were warmly welcomed by the family and local residents and they spent two days.

The vlog shows Dianand Kumar, a retired principal, and Kirshan Kumar kissing the mud wall of their ancestral home. The house was rebuilt after the Partition but original bricks were used. The brothers had an emotional reunion with the family members and they can be seen touching these old bricks of their ancestral home with tears in their eyes.

They said that house was built in 1898 by their grandfather D.K Chawla. They lauded the SHO and his team for facilitating their visit and said they were impressed by the hospitality of their cousins and expressed gratitude for all those who made the journey possible.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1722227/letting-the-heart-do-the-talking

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Chaman border with Afghanistan set to reopen today after over a week

Saleem Shahid

November 21, 2022

QUETTA: Pakistan agreed on Sunday conditionally to reopen the Chaman border with Afghanistan, more than a week after firing from the Afghan side on Frontier Corps officials at the Friendship Gate led to its closure.

The decision to open the border was made during a meeting between Pakistani and Afghan officials, Chaman Deputy Commissioner Abdul Hameed Zehri told the media on Sunday.

The details of the talks and the decision to open the border had been conveyed to the civil-military liaison committee of Chaman, which agreed to open the border for trade and travel from Monday.

Consequently, the immigration offices of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Pakistan Customs would also be opened, officials said.

MrZehri said that during the meeting, Afghan Taliban officials expressed anger and grief over the November 13 incident and assured the Pakistani authorities that the “terrorists” behind the incident would be arrested and strictly punished.

Both sides also decided to take concrete steps to avoid a repeat of such incident.

The border closure since last week resulted in suspension of trade between both countries through the Friendship Gate. A large number of trucks carrying Afghan transit trade goods and containers carrying import and export goods were stranded on both sides.

While confirming the border closure for an indefinite period, Chaman DC Zehri last week said: “A man crossed into Pakistani side at Friendship Gate from the Afghan border and opened fire at the security personnel posted at the gate, resulting in the martyrdom of one soldier and injuring two others.” Shortly after the incident, the official said, the Afghan personnel opened fire on Pakistani forces, which retaliated and the firing continued for some time.

Pakistan border authorities immediately summoned a flagship meeting of the Afghan forces and demanded that the armed men, who had fired at the Pakistani security personnel, be handed over to the Pakistani authorities, but the negotiations remained fruitless at that time, as Afghan officials refused to hand over those involved in the firing, official sources said. The exchange of fire resumed in the evening, which officials said continued with small intervals.

The Chaman border, some 100km northwest of Quetta, is one of the major international border crossings and is used by thousands of people on a daily basis. On the Afghan side, it leads north into Wesh town in the Spin Boldak district of Kandahar province.

Pakistan had earlier refused to reopen the Friendship Gate for transit trade and crossing until the authorities got the custody of the attacckers.

A couple of days later, Pak­istani authorities on humanitarian grounds and as a goodwill gesture allowed several hundred Afghan nationals, who were stranded in Chaman due to the border closure, to cross into their country from another area, considering that there were patients among them who had come to Pakistan for treatment.

A spokesperson for the Afghan interior ministry last week told Reuters that the clash had occurred between border forces from both sides due to a “misunderstanding” and the incident was being investigated.

The Afghan border authorities explained that the Taliban forces were not involved in the shooting at Friendship Gate.

“They might be terrorists who were involved in firing,” the officials said.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1722146/chaman-border-set-to-reopen-today-after-over-a-week

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Arab World

Crown Prince instructs Saudi ministries, entities to support World Cup host Qatar

Ghinwa Obeid, Al Arabiya English

20 November ,2022

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman on Sunday offered the Kingdom’s support for FIFA World Cup 2022 host, neighboring Qatar, Minister of Sports Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Faisal said in a statement.

“The Crown Prince has instructed all ministries, commissions and government entities in the Kingdom to offer any additional support or facilitation that their counterparts in the brotherly Qatar need in order to support its effort in hosting the World Cup 2022,” the minister said in a statement on Twitter.

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

The statement added that the Crown Prince has instructed the minister to follow up on this matter.

The Crown Prince is in Qatar and will attend the opening ceremony on Sunday evening.

Qatar is the first Middle Eastern country to host the FIFA World Cup, which will kick off Sunday and run until December 18. Many fans from the region and around the world have flocked to Doha in order to watch the matches.

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/saudi-arabia/2022/11/20/Crown-Prince-instructs-Saudi-ministries-entities-to-support-World-Cup-host-Qatar

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Saudi-financed UNRWA health center opens in Jordan-based Palestinian refugee camp

Tala Michel Issa, Al Arabiya English

21 November ,2022

Government Fund-financed health center, operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), was inaugurated in Jordan on Sunday to serve around 300,000 refugees in the Zarqa camp.

The new center is set to provide accessibility for persons with disabilities, and includes green spaces, a children’s play area, and sun-shaded spaces, according to an UNRWA statement.

Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Jordan Naif bin Bandar al-Sudairy and the UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini inaugurated the opening of the health center at an event on Sunday, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a pioneer in humanitarian work, with the aim of alleviating human suffering around the world, in cooperation with the United Nations and international organizations,” the Saudi ambassador said in a statement carried by UNRWA.

“The Kingdom is fully supportive of Palestine refugees, including through our partnership with UNRWA, and its services.”

For his part, Lazzirini thanked Saudi Arabia for its continuous support for Palestinian refugees, welcoming its donation of $27 million in support of UNRWA services.

“I would like to extend my appreciation to Saudi Arabia for its historic support to UNRWA. This contribution embodies the Kingdom’s solidarity with Palestine refugees throughout their plight.

“The construction of this health center is a critical investment that will serve thousands of Palestine refugees residing both inside and outside Zarqa camp,” Lazzarini said in a statement on Sunday.

“I also welcome the recent contribution of $27 million from KSA in support of UNRWA core services, as the Agency faces a critical funding shortfall this year.”

Over the past decade, Saudi Arabia has contributed $1.1 billion to UNRWA.

The Zarqa camp is the oldest camp housing Palestinian refugees in Jordan.

One of the four camps established in the country to accommodate the refugees who left Palestine as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, it was set up near the town of Zarqa by the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1949.

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/11/21/Saudi-financed-UNRWA-health-center-opens-in-Jordan-based-Palestinian-refugee-camp

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One killed in new Iran strikes on Kurdish groups in Iraq

AFP

November 21, 2022

IRBIL: Iran launched cross-border strikes against Kurdish opposition groups in Iraq overnight, killing at least one fighter, a week after similar attacks on the factions Tehran accuses of stoking protests back home.

Iran has been shaken by two months of protests sparked by the death of Kurdish-Iranian woman Mahsa Amini, 22, who died in custody days after her arrest by the morality police for allegedly breaching the country’s strict dress code for women.

“A member of the peshmerga was killed in an Iranian strike on the area of Koysinjaq,” also known as Koya, Ali Boudaghi, an official from the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), told AFP on Monday.

The counter-terrorism department of Iraqi Kurdistan had earlier said Iran’s “Revolutionary Guard Corps have again bombarded Iranian Kurdish parties” late Sunday, without mentioning if there were casualties.

The PDKI said Iran had targeted it with missiles and suicide drones in Koya and Jejnikan, near Irbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.

“These indiscriminate attacks are occurring at a time when the terrorist regime of Iran is unable to stop the ongoing demonstrations in (Iranian) Kurdistan,” the PDKI, the oldest Kurdish party in Iran, said.

Iranian Kurdish nationalist group Komala said strikes had also targeted its installations in northern Iraq.

“Our HQ was once again attacked by the Islamic Regime tonight. We’ve been carefully prepared for these types of attacks & have no losses for the moment,” it said on Twitter.

The US Central Command, which oversees US military operations in the Middle East, condemned the “illegal” Iranian strikes near Irbil.

“We condemn this evening’s Iranian cross-border missile and unmanned aerial vehicle strikes,” Centcom commander General Michael Kurilla said in a statement.

“Such indiscriminate and illegal attacks place civilians at risk, violate Iraqi sovereignty, and jeopardize the hard-fought security and stability of Iraq and the Middle East.”

The Iraqi state news agency INA early Monday also reported on the attacks, referring to “Iranian missile and drone strikes” against “three Iranian opposition parties in (Iraqi) Kurdistan.”

The latest Iranian attacks come a day after Turkiye carried out air raids against outlawed Kurdish militants in Iraqi Kurdistan and northern Syria.

The Turkish offensive targeted bases of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara blames for an explosion in central Istanbul a week ago that killed six people and wounded 81.

The PKK has waged a bloody insurgency in Turkiye for decades and is designated a terrorist group by Ankara and its Western allies. It has denied involvement in the Istanbul blast.

The new Iranian strikes come less than a week after similar cross-border attacks by Tehran that killed at least one person.

Tehran accuses Kurdish-Iranian opposition groups based in northern Iraq of stoking the “riots” at home and has stepped up its attacks since the protests began.

Iran launched attacks in late September that killed more than a dozen people in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region.

Iraqi Kurdistan hosts several Iranian Kurdish opposition groups which have in the past waged an armed insurrection against Tehran.

In recent years their activities have declined, but the wave of protests in Iran has again stoked tensions.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2203361/middle-east

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Egypt ranks as third most populous African country with 104.2m

GOBRAN MOHAMED

November 21, 2022

CAIRO: Egypt has been ranked first in terms of population in the North African region, with 104.2 million, and placed third on the continent behind Nigeria and Ethiopia, after figures were released to coincide with African Statistics Day.

The numbers were revealed in a press release from the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics.

According to CAPMAS, Egypt’s population represents about 7.3 percent of the population of Africa and 1.3 percent of the world’s numbers. The country ranks 14th in terms of world population.

Nigeria ranked first in the West African region, with a population of 219.5 million, 15.4 percent of Africa’s numbers.

Ethiopia was the most populous country in the East African region with 122.1 million, 8.6 percent of the population of Africa.

In the Central African region, the Democratic Republic of the Congo hosts 96.5 million people, some 6.8 percent of Africa’s population.

South Africa has a population of 61.1 million, which is 4.3 percent of Africa’s population.

CAPMAS estimates that the African continent is expected to host 25.4 percent of the world’s population by 2050. This figure compares to 17.8 percent in 2022.

The agency added that the population of the continent reached 1.42 billion people on Nov. 17, some 17.8 percent of the world’s population of 8 billion. The world figure is expected to reach 9.75 billion by 2050.

African Statistics Day, which takes place on November 18, began in 1990 and aims to raise public awareness of the importance of figures in economic and social development.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2203326/middle-east

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Saudi National Music Band makes its Rome debut

FRANCESCO BONGARRÀ

November 20, 2022

ROME: Residents of Rome attended the first concert in Italy of the Saudi National Music Band on Saturday night as part of the 12th edition of “Musei in Musica” (“Museums in Music”) at one of the capital’s oldest museums.

At the concert, attended by Arab News, the band was represented by EmadLufti Zari, Reaab Ahmed Bukhari, Abdulaziz Abdullah bin Shannan and Saud Abdulaziz Al-Khulaif.

The Saudi artists performed in the Sala dellaProtomoteca, one of the biggest and most prestigious halls of the MuseiCapitolini, where priceless masterpieces from ancient Roman and baroque art have been preserved and kept on display for centuries.

The Saudi National Music Band was founded in 2019 on the initiative of the Ministry of Culture, with the aim of representing the Kingdom in regional and international events, as well as promoting its musical heritage worldwide, in line with the Vision 2030 reform program.

Twenty-six members make up the band, which is also engaged in the training of over 200 young musicians.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2203131/saudi-arabia

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Saudi Arabia takes honors at World Robot Olympiad

ARAB NEWS

November 20, 2022

RIYADH: Young Saudis notched global achievements at the World Robot Olympiad, which was held in Dortmund, Germany, from Nov. 17-19.

The competition, which was called “My Robot My Friend,” saw the participation of youngsters aged from 8 to 19, and featured four categories: Robomission, Robosports, Future Innovators and Future Engineers.

Around 365 teams from 73 countries participated, including eight teams from the Kingdom.

The Saudi team took first place in the Future Innovators primary stage, and finished 11th in the intermediates and 14th in the secondary stage.

The youngsters were seventh in the Robosports category and 39th in Robomission in the primary stage, 42nd in the intermediate stage, and 66th in the secondary.

The team participating in the category of Future Engineers finished 15th.

The participants for the Kingdom were managed by the Saudi Wireless Sports & Robotics Federation in partnership with the Saudi Federation For Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones, the Ministry of Education, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University, King Salman Science Oasis, and Thakaa Center. 

WRO is a non-profit organization that invests its revenues in STEM education globally and holds tournaments in different countries.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2203121/saudi-arabia

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Saudi Arabia’s Dar Al Arkan, Trump sign deal to build $4 bln Oman real estate project

Tala Michel Issa, Al Arabiya English

Updated: 20 November ,2022

Saudi Arabia’s Dar Al Arkan real estate company has signed a deal with the Trump Organization to develop a signature Trump Resort worth $4 billion in Muscat, Oman.

The 100-meter-high hilltop development is set to be one of the world’s largest mixed-use real estate projects, situated directly by the sea, the company said in a statement on Sunday.

The AIDA project, a joint venture with the Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN Group), will include residential villas, a hotel, and a golf course built near Muscat.

Development of the project will begin next year and is expected take more than a decade to complete.

“When we were looking at our next project and where we wanted to expand our footprint, we knew it had to be in an outstanding location and with an amazing team,” Eric Trump, Executive Vice President of the Trump Organization, said in a statement.

“At AIDA, in the heart of Muscat, Oman situated directly overlooking the incredible sea, we have truly found that. Together with Dar Al Arkan, we are going to deliver an exceptional Trump Golf resort with the finest residential villas, a world-class hotel, and an iconic golf course, all in one of the most beautiful settings,” Trump added.

AIDA’s master plan was designed to adopt architectural foundations, utilizing Oman’s rich natural surroundings. It is being developed sustainably, fully respecting and preserving the topography and unique environmental features of the area with homes integrating seamlessly within the cliffs.

“The Trump Organization is known for its exclusive, world-class developments. Superior quality, detail, and perfection are the standards that Trump demands throughout its projects – from residential to resort, from hotel to golf, and from commercial office to retail,” said Dar Al Arkan Chairman Yousef al-Shelash.

“We are always looking to enhance Dar Al Arkan’s unique projects with premium facilities and experiences, and our partnership with Trump will distinguish our first project in Oman and put it on the global map.”

The new Trump property, which will feature a championship golf course designed by a renowned golf professional, will be built upon a hill with sweeping views of the sea.

The meticulously planned golf course will include state-of-the-art golf facilities, an expansive golf club, and an array of amenities ultimately creating a new luxury benchmark for golf in the region.

“AIDA sits on a high peak overlooking one of the most breath-taking horizons in the world. Imagine the beautiful setting of a villa in these majestic surroundings or playing a game of golf overlooking the sea – it is truly unrivalled,” said Dar Al ArkanGlobal’s CEO Zaid el-Chaar.

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/gulf/2022/11/20/Saudi-Arabia-s-Dar-Al-Arkan-Trump-sign-deal-to-build-4-bln-Oman-real-estate-project

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South Asia

Two extremists on death penalty for killing US blogger escape from Bangladesh court

Reuters, Dhaka

21 November ,2022

Two extremists sentenced to death for killing a US blogger critical of religious extremism escaped from a crowded court in Bangladesh’s Dhaka on Sunday.

Avijit Roy, an engineer of Bangladeshi origin, was hacked to death by machete-wielding assailants in February 2015 while returning home with his wife from a Dhaka book fair. His wife, blogger RafidaBonya Ahmed, suffered head injuries and lost a thumb in the attack.

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

Five members of an extremist militant group were sentenced to death last year, while one was jailed for life.

Two of those on death penalty escaped on Sunday, after bikers sprayed chemical on the police before snatching away the convicts, police said.

“A massive manhunt has been launched to capture them and their helpers,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told reporters, adding that border security officials had been put on alert to stop the men fleeing the country.

Police has also announced an award of two million taka (about $19,350) for tracing the convicts.

The convicted men belong to the al-Qaeda-inspired domestic militant group Ansar Ullah Bangla Team and police say the group was behind the murders of more than a dozen secular activists and bloggers.

Muslim-majority Bangladesh saw a string of deadly attacks between 2013 and 2016 targeting bloggers, secular activists and religious minorities, claimed by ISIS or al-Qaeda-aligned groups.

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2022/11/21/Two-extremists-on-death-penalty-for-killing-US-blogger-escape-from-Bangladesh-court

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Norwegian Chargé d’affaires Meets Taliban FM

By Saqalain Eqbal

November 21, 2022

The Taliban-controlled Bakhtar state news agency, the Taliban’s Foreign Minister met with top Norwegian diplomats on Sunday, November 20, in Kabul, the Afghan capital.

The discussion at the meeting, according to the Bakhtar report, focused on topics related to Afghanistan’s security, international cooperation, and other political matters.

A long-term diplomatic relationship between Norway and Afghanistan would continue, the Norwegian diplomat said, adding that his country actively tries to support the people of Afghanistan.

“Norway is now providing NOK 220 million to the UN and the World Bank to support their efforts to enhance food security and ensure the provision of basic services such as health and education,” said the Norwegian Foreign Minister AnnikenHuitfeldt in a statement on November 16.

The economic catastrophe and the humanitarian predicament have both been aggravated by the Taliban’s return to power. Many Afghans are living in poverty, face food insecurity, and lack access to essential services.

The Afghan people are coping with the collapse of their economy, rising humanitarian needs, and limitations on their rights. In the current dire humanitarian situation, women and children are particularly vulnerable.

This comes as the Chargé d’affaires of the British Embassy in Afghanistan previously said that there are no sanctions that directly affect the Afghan people.

He claimed that despite an increase in aid since the Taliban’s takeover, the group is unable to handle the humanitarian crisis and invokes sanctions as excuses.

“It is convenient for some (the Taliban) to blame all the challenges facing Afghanistan today on sanctions, but this is not the reality. It’s vital to move beyond this misleading narrative & urgently address the real problems together,” Shorter wrote on Twitter.

https://www.khaama.com/norwegian-charge-daffaires-meets-taliban-fm-38684/

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Mideast

Palestine has ‘natural, legal right’ to become full state member of UN, Ambassador Riyad Mansour tells Arab News

21 November 2022

EPHREM KOSSAIFY

NEW YORK CITY: Granting Palestine full state membership status at the UN would be a “practical” step that could preserve the two-state solution and help reinvigorate the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, according to Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN.

Mansour initiated consultations this year with members of the UN Security Council to push for a resolution to elevate Palestine from its current status as an observer state at the global organization and recognize it as a full member.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News at the UN headquarters in New York, Mansour, whose official title is Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, said his initiative is anchored in Palestine’s “natural and legal right to become a full member in (the) UN system.”

The quest for statehood is all the more urgent, he said, amid Israeli attempts to unilaterally undermine the prospect of a reasonable solution that can deliver an independent Palestinian state, by “creating not only a one-state reality (but) an apartheid reality.”

Mansour said he has already gained enough support from members of the Security Council — including votes from Ireland, Albania and Norway — to secure its recommendation that Palestine be granted full state membership in the General Assembly.

Paulina Kubiak Greer, a spokesperson for the president of the General Assembly, told Arab News: “Article 4 of the UN Charter states that membership is a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council. The General Assembly cannot decide on membership without the recommendation from the Security Council.”

Although granting full state membership status to Palestine would be consistent with the current US administration’s pursuit of “practical measures” to achieve a two-state solution, Mansour said Washington “is not enthusiastic about the idea.”

He said: “I told Linda (Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN), in more than one meeting, that if you do not like our idea, put on the table your alternative — a practical idea to shield and protect the two-state solution. But if you tell me you don’t like my idea, and you are not proposing an alternative solution, that is unacceptable.”

Mansour believes the reticence in Washington relates to its preference for a “negotiated two-state solution,” an avenue Mansour said the Palestinians continue to support.

Palestinians “have no objection to negotiating with anyone, including the Israeli side — (provided the talks are conducted) on the basis of international law and the global consensus, including the Arab Peace Initiative — if the Israeli side is willing to do so.”

The Arab Peace Initiative is a Saudi-initiated proposal for an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict that was initially endorsed by the Arab League in 2002. It includes the offer of normalization of relations between Arab states and Israel in return for a full Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories, a “just settlement” of the Palestinian refugee issue, and the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Mansour thanked Arab countries for remaining united in support of Palestine at the UN and never failing to vote in its favor. In particular, he highlighted the role played by Saudi Arabia.

“Saudi Arabia has a very, very important and powerful position,” he said. “We are grateful for the fact that Saudis do not deviate from supporting the rights of the Palestinian people. And they don’t deviate from honoring and respecting the Arab Peace Initiative, which they launched 20 years ago at the Arab summit in Beirut.

“We are also grateful for Saudi when they very clearly and courageously, at the Jeddah summit, in the presence of President Joe Biden, said that the Palestine question is a central question for Arab countries and that the Arab Peace Initiative is still honored and respected.

“These things to us constitute the essence of the Arab position (and) we expect from them no less than that.”

Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian National Authority, has lately stepped up the push for full state membership status at the UN. Since the summer he has raised the matter with French President Emmanuel Macron and King Abdullah II of Jordan, and with Biden during the US president’s visit to Bethlehem in July.

“The key to peace and security in our region begins with recognizing the state of Palestine,” Abbas told Biden at the time.

The Palestinian National Authority first applied for full membership status of the UN in 2011. It argued that the organization in 1947 adopted Resolution 181, which partitioned Palestinian land into two states, an act that effectively served as “the birth certificate for Israel.” It said the UN now has a “moral and historic duty” to salvage the chances for peace by issuing a similar birth certificate for Palestine.

The matter was referred to the Committee on the Admission of New Members for consideration but opposition at the time from the administration of US President Barack Obama prevented the committee from issuing a unanimous recommendation to the Security Council.

In 2012, a majority in the General Assembly voted to elevate the status of Palestine from a mere “entity” to that of an observer state, the same status granted to the Vatican; 138 countries voted in favor, nine against and 41 abstained.

The vote was largely symbolic, as observer states cannot vote on General Assembly resolutions, but it nevertheless led to the Palestinians joining more than 100 international treaties and conventions as a state party.

These have allowed Palestinians, Mansour said, “to be part of humanity,” taking their place in the world and sharing in its concerns.

US authorities have sought to convince the Palestinians not to go through with their efforts to gain full membership of the UN, repeating their same arguments that it would merely circumvent proper peace negotiations with Israel.

“The US has been clear about our opposition to the Palestinian bid for full membership at the UN,” a US official told Arab News. “There are no shortcuts to Palestinian statehood outside direct negotiations between the parties.

“The US is focused on trying to bring the Palestinians and Israelis closer together in pursuit of this goal of two states, for two peoples, living side by side in peace and security. The US remains committed to a two-state solution. As President Biden said, alongside President Abbas in July, ‘The Palestinian people deserve a state of their own that’s independent, sovereign, viable and contiguous.’

“The only realistic path to a comprehensive and lasting peace that ends this conflict permanently is through direct negotiations between the parties. As we have seen, those conditions are not yet present for direct negotiations. That said, US efforts are aimed at setting such conditions.”

It is a familiar argument that has been applied by the US on previous occasions when the UN adopted measures seen as advancing Palestinian representation on the world stage. Washington described the 2012 resolution granting Palestine observer status as “unfortunate and counterproductive” and a “grand pronouncement that would soon fade.”

In the same vein, Washington also opposed a 2015 decision to allow Palestinians to fly their flag at the UN headquarters in New York. And when Palestine was admitted to UNESCO, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, in 2011, the US Congress cut all US funding for the agency. Former President Donald Trump went so far as to withdraw the US entirely from UNESCO in 2019, accusing it of anti-Israel bias.

Although a Democrat-controlled Congress recently authorized a US return to UNESCO, it was on the condition that Palestine is not granted membership of other UN bodies. US lawmakers have even enacted legislation prohibiting funding for any UN agency that admits Palestine as a member.

“That offensive reaction means that even the small steps that Palestinians are creating with this initiative, this momentum … I don’t want to say they are afraid of our initiative but they take it seriously,” said Mansour.

After experiencing years of alienation during the Trump administration, Mansour expressed gratitude to the Biden White House for reinstating humanitarian funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, and taking “practical steps” toward achieving peace.

But he lamented what he described as Biden’s reluctance to deal with the political dimensions of the issue, given that a number of promises, such as the reopening of the US consulate in East Jerusalem and the Palestinian Liberation Organization office in Washington, remain unfulfilled.

“While we appreciate the economic and humanitarian help, (we) need a political process to move (toward) the end of this occupation and actualize the global consensus over the two-state solution,” said Mansour.

“With regard to that issue, we don’t see progress and they keep telling us to wait. We’ve been waiting since the Nakba, almost 75 years. Waiting since the occupation of 1967, which is almost 55 years. How much longer do you want us to keep waiting?

“If (the Americans) did not have the veto power to stop us, then we would have been a member state a long time ago.”

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2203201/middle-east

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Rights group: Houthis abducted 16,804 civilians since late 2014

SAEED AL-BATATI

November 21, 2022

Al-MUKALLA, Yemen: The Iran-backed Houthis have abducted 16,804 civilians in territories under their control since the start of their coup against the internationally recognized government in late 2014, a Yemeni rights group said.

The Yemeni Network for Rights and Freedom said in a report that almost two-thirds of the 16,804 abductees were freed or executed by their captors, used as human shields, died in detention due to medical negligence or were used as part of prisoner swaps with the Yemeni government.

The organization said that the Houthis are still holding 4,201 civilians in known detention facilities in Sanaa, Ibb, Dhamar and other Yemeni provinces, in addition to 1,317 people, including 84 women and 76 children, who are believed to have been forcibly disappeared and tortured, though the Houthis deny holding them.

“Those are civilians taken by the Houthi militia from roadways, residences, workplaces, mosques, marketplaces, neighborhoods and other sites,” Mohammed Al-Omada, head of the Yemeni Network for Rights and Freedoms, told Arab News.

“In the report, we excluded military and security personnel, as well as popular resistance fighters who were kidnapped by the Houthis. Based on conversations with former inmates and families of prisoners, our human rights specialists validated each instance.”

The human rights activist said that the Houthis are keeping the majority of detainees in state prisons such as Political Security in Sanaa, Central Prison in Ibb province, Central Prison in Dhamar and Central Prison in Amran.

Other captives were imprisoned in the former homes of Houthi opponents in Sanaa, including the old residence — now a detention center — of Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmer, the former vice president who fled the capital shortly after the militia invaded the city.

The Houthis have abducted 389 politicians, 464 activists, 340 media personnel, 176 children, 374 women, 512 tribal leaders and social dignitaries, 216 preachers and clerics, 154 academics, 217 students, 96 lawyers and judges in addition to hundreds of medics, government employees, foreigners and traders over the last eight years, according to the organization.

“During interrogation, many inmates endure beatings, abuse and humiliation,” the Yemeni organization said.

“Everyone who speaks to the security personnel in the building or makes any demands, including for medicine or a drink of water, is beaten and tortured, and some of them were tortured to death,” it added.

Among the 16,804 kidnapped civilians, the Houthis utilized 463 captives as human shields within military installations to deter the Arab coalition and Yemeni government from launching attacks. The militia executed 147 detainees inside detention facilities, and 282 captives died behind bars as a result of negligence.

Ninety-eight captives died just days after release by the Houthis.

“Following the Houthi militia’s takeover and control of the provinces, every family has a sad story about a prisoner or the Houthis raiding their homes or recruiting their children,” Al-Omada said.

The figures from the Yemeni organization came as another Yemeni group called for the release of a number of detainees kept by the Houthis. The captives had staged hunger strikes in order to put pressure on the militia to free them or improve their detention circumstances and stop the use of torture.

The Mothers of Abductees Association, an umbrella organization representing thousands of female relatives of civilian war prisoners, said it received an urgent request from the wife of prisoner Adel Tareq Al-Baydani, who fasted for two weeks in protest against indefinite detention and maltreatment, to save him from death.

“Al-Baydani’s wife appealed for her husband’s release, citing serious health circumstances and stating that the Houthi group threatened hunger strikers, including elderly people, with relocation to the prison’s basement if they did not terminate the strike,” the organization tweeted.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2203336/middle-east

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Iran sentences to death sixth person over protests

AFP

20 November ,2022

The revolutionary court of Tehran on Sunday sentenced to death a sixth person, the judicial authority's news website said, in connection with months of protests in Iran.

The defendant was found guilty of “pulling out a knife with the intention of killing, spreading terror, creating insecurity in society during recent riots”, Mizan Online reported.

The court also found the defendant guilty of “moharebeh”, which means waging “war against God”, it added.

Five others have recently been sentenced to death in connection with the protests, triggered by the death of young Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini after her arrest for an alleged contravention of the Islamic republic's strict dress code for women.

Authorities in Iran describe the protests as “riots” and accuse the country's Western foes of fomenting them.

The sentences can be appealed in front of the Supreme Court.

https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2022/11/20/Iran-sentences-to-death-sixth-person-over-protests-

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Southeast Asia

Muhyiddin gains backing for PM bid after indecisive Malaysian polls

Reuters

November 21, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s former premier Muhyiddin Yassin secured backing from two political blocs on Sunday as he sought to form a new government after a general election produced a hung parliament, but he had yet to win the required majority.

Muhyiddin, of the Perikatan Nasional coalition, said he had won support from two regional blocs based in the island of Borneo. That would boost his alliance’s seat tally from 73 to 101 — still short of the required 112 majority.

“I am confident I will obtain enough support from lawmakers that will enable me to be appointed by the king as Prime Minister,” he said, without saying which other parties might back him.

Longtime opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, whose PakatanHarapan coalition won the most number of seats in Saturday’s election with 82, is also racing to win support from other groups.

The inconclusive election saw Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’sBarisan Nasional alliance suffer its worst electoral defeat ever, winning just 30 of the 178 seats it ran for.

It prolongs political uncertainty in the Southeast Asian nation, which has seen three prime ministers in as many years, at a time of slowing economic growth and rising inflation.

The instability reflects a transformation in a country that has been one of the most stable for decades in a region that has had its share of military coups, violent political upheavals, and insurgencies.

GabunganParti Sarawak, one of the Borneo regional blocs, said it was willing to work with Muhyiddin and the incumbent Barisan alliance to form a government.

Forming a government may require the involvement of Malaysia’s king, whose largely ceremonial role includes the power to appoint as prime minister a lawmaker he believes will command a majority.

On Sunday, the palace instructed the parties to each present the name of a lawmaker it thinks has majority by 2pm on Monday.

A record number of Malaysians voted on Saturday, and they rejected Ismail’s multi-ethnic Barisan coalition, led by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) which has long been the country’s dominant political force.

Race and religion are divisive issues in Malaysia, where the mostly Muslim Malays are the majority of the population, with sizable ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities.

A key winner in the election was the Islamist PAS party in Muhyiddin’sPerikatan grouping, securing the largest number of seats of any single party.

“I think what we learned here is that the country is more divided,” said Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani, deputy managing director at political risk consultancy BowerGroupAsia.Muhyiddin became prime minister in 2020, but his administration collapsed last year, paving the way for Barisan’s return to power with Ismail at the helm.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1722180/muhyiddin-gains-backing-for-pm-bid-after-indecisive-malaysian-polls

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Malaysia’s hung election crisis drags out as party dithers

AP

November 21, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s longest-ruling coalition said Monday it has not decided which bloc to support after weekend elections left neither with enough seats to form a government on its own, and it would ask the nation’s king to give it more time.

The National Front’s announcement has prolonged election uncertainty. King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah initially set a 2 p.m. deadline for political leaders to submit their choice for prime minister and an alliance that represents a parliamentary majority.

But the monarch later Monday said he would extend it until Tuesday following a request from political parties.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s reformist bloc secured 82 seats in the federal Parliament, far short of the 112 needed for a simple majority. The Malay nationalist alliance led by former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin trailed with 73 seats, but it has secured the support of blocs in two states on Borneo island that jointly have 28 seats.

The National Front, led by the United Malays National Organization, had ruled since Malaysia’s independence from Britain in 1957 but suffered s shocking defeat in 2018 polls to Anwar’s bloc. Its plan for a strong comeback was dashed after winning only 30 seats in Saturday’s election as many ethnic Malays abandoned the graft-tainted party for Muhyiddin’s bloc.

UMNO President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said his alliance formed a negotiation committee to hold talks with both blocs.

Amid a divisive split in his party, he said any individual statement or written oaths made by the group’s 30 lawmakers supporting any bloc was invalid because a decision will only be made by the coalition’s highest-decision making body. Anyone going against it can be sacked, he warned.

Zahid, who faces dozens of graft charges, is facing a revolt within his party amid growing calls for him to resign and take responsibility for the election losses. Some lawmakers who won have openly voiced their support for Muhyiddin’s bloc but others warned reviving such a partnership may lead to a repeat of the infighting that led to political turmoil

Many rural Malays, who form two-thirds of Malaysia’s 33 million people — which includes large minorities of ethnic Chinese and Indians — fear they may lose their rights with greater pluralism under Anwar’s multiethnic alliance. This, together with corruption in UMNO, has benefited Muhyiddin’s bloc.

Hishammuddin Hussein, an UMNO vice president, issued a statement on Facebook to reiterate his refusal to support Anwar’s bloc. “I am willing to be fired by the party but will never change this firm stance,” he said.

Officials from Muhyiddin’s camp claimed that 18 lawmakers from Zahid’s bloc are on their side. After the king extended the deadline for political parties, the National Alliance said in a statement it had already handed to the palace written oaths from more than 112 lawmakers who support Muhyiddin as the next prime minister, giving it the majority.

Any deal will have to be approved by Sultan Abdullah. The king’s role is largely ceremonial in Malaysia, but he appoints the person he believes has majority support in Parliament as prime minister.

Saturday’s election outcome stunned many Malaysians who had hoped for stability and unity after political turmoil that has seen three prime ministers since 2018 polls.

The current scenario is a replay of what happened in 2020, when Muhyiddin abandoned Anwar’s ruling alliance, causing its collapse, and joined hands with UMNO to form a new government. Sultan Abdullah at the time requested written oaths from all 222 lawmakers and later interviewed them separately before picking Muhyiddin as prime minister. But his government was beset by internal rivalries and Muhyiddin resigned after 17 months.

Muhyiddin’s alliance entered Saturday’s polls as an underdog but enjoyed an unexpected surge of support. Its hardline ally is the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, the biggest winner with a haul of 49 seats — more than double what it won in 2018. Known as PAS, it touts Sharia, rules three states and is now the single largest party. Its rise has stoked fears of greater Islamization in the country.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2203401/world

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Earthquake shakes Indonesia’s Java island; at least 46 dead, 700 injured

By: AP

Jakarta | November 21, 2022

An earthquake shook Indonesia’s main island of Java on Monday, killing at least 46 people, damaging dozens of buildings and sending residents into the capital’s streets for safety.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 5.6 quake was centered in the Cianjur region in West Java province at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles).

“There are 46 dead people at the Cianjur regional hospital and around 700 injured people. Many were hurt because they were hit by collapsed buildings,” National Disaster Mitigation Agency chief Suharyanto said.

Several landslides were reported around Cianjur. Dozens of buildings were damaged, including an Islamic boarding school, a hospital and other public facilities, the agency said.

Information was still being collected about the extent of casualties and damage, it said in a statement.

 People walk out of an office building after being evacuated following an earthquake, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, at the main business district in Jakarta, Indonesia. (AP)

The quake was felt strongly in the greater Jakarta area. High rises in the capital swayed and some were evacuated.

“The quake felt so strong. My colleagues and I decided to get out of our office on the ninth floor using the emergency stairs,” said VidiPrimadhania, an employee in South Jakarta.

Earthquakes occur frequently across the sprawling archipelago nation, but it is uncommon for them to be felt in Jakarta.

 People wait outside an office building after being evacuated following an earthquake, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, at the main business district in Jakarta, Indonesia. (AP)

The country of more than 270 million people is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

In February, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake killed at least 25 people and injured more than 460 in West Sumatra province. In January 2021, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake killed more than 100 people and injured nearly 6,500 in West Sulawesi province.

https://indianexpress.com/article/world/earthquake-shakes-indonesia-java-island-death-toll-8280808/

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North America

US to deploy 'over 100 unmanned vessels' in Gulf waters next year

20 Nvvember 2022

A US-led task force will deploy over 100 unmanned vessels in the Gulf region's strategic waters by next year to stave off maritime threats.

The announcement was made by the US Central Command chief Michael Kurilla on Saturday at the annual Manama Dialogue conference in Bahrain.

"By this time next year, Task Force 59 will bring together a fleet of over 100 unmanned surface and subsurface vessels operating together, communicating together and providing maritime domain awareness," the CENTCOM chief said.

The decision comes after Israel and the United States blamed Iran for a drone strike off the coast of Oman this week that hit a tanker operated by an Israeli-owned firm.

The attack, which coincided with heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington, was the latest in a string of disruptions in Gulf waters that are a key route for world energy supplies.

Task Force 59

Launched in September 2021, Task Force 59 was created in Bahrain, home to the US navy's Fifth Fleet, to integrate unmanned systems and artificial intelligence into Middle East operations following a series of drone attacks blamed on Iran.

While airborne and subsea unmanned vessels are quite well developed, unmanned surface boats are a new technology that are essential for security in the future, according to the Fifth Fleet.

In addition to the unmanned vessels, the US is "building an experimentation program here in the Middle East to beat adversary drones with our partners", Kurilla said without elaborating.

https://www.trtworld.com/americas/us-to-deploy-over-100-unmanned-vessels-in-gulf-waters-next-year-62705

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Europe

Türkiye to conduct ground operation against terrorists: Erdogan

21 November 2022

Air Operation Claw-Sword was well-planned and a ground operation is also in the works, Türkiye's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

Neutralising terrorists is a "must" for Türkiye, and "there's no question" of it being limited to an air operation, Erdogan said on Monday, speaking to reporters on his way back from Qatar after visiting for the opening ceremony of the World Cup.

"Currently, there are terrorist organisations in our south that are planning many attacks or carrying out such attacks" that pose a threat to Türkiye, he added.

"As we have said before, if someone disturbs our country and our lands, we will make them pay," Erdogan said.

Ankara had no talks with US or Russian leaders on Operation Claw-Sword, Erdogan added, saying that they "already know" Ankara can do such things in the region "at any time".

Carried out in self-defence

Türkiye launched Operation Claw-Sword, a new major anti-terror operation during the early hours of Sunday, a week after the PKK/YPG terror group carried out a deadly bombing in the country's financial city Istanbul, killing six people and wounding more than 80.

A total of 89 targets, including shelters, caves and ammunition depots belonging to terrorists were destroyed, the defence ministry announced on Sunday.

About 70 combat and support aircraft and UAVs took part in the execution of Operation Claw-Sword, targeting the PKK/YPG terrorist group in Syria and northern Iraq, Erdogan said.

The Ministry of National Defence said the new cross-border operation against the PKK/YPG in Iraq and Syria was carried out in self-defence in line with Article 51 of the UN Charter.

In its more than 35-year campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organisation by Türkiye, the US and the EU – has been responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

The YPG is the PKK's Syrian offshoot.

Meeting with Sisi

Erdogan also met with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al Sisi during the World Cup ceremony in Qatar.

Asked about the meeting, Erdogan said it was a step for the normalisation process between the two countries to begin.

"The unity of the Turkish nation and the Egyptian people in the past is very important to us. Why not a new start?" said the Turkish president, adding that Türkiye wanted to establish peace.

https://www.trtworld.com/turkey/t%C3%BCrkiye-to-conduct-ground-operation-against-terrorists-erdogan-62723

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YPG/PKK rocket attack kills at least 3 people in southeastern Türkiye

21 November 2022

At least three have been killed in a rocket attack carried out by the PKK/YPG terror group in Türkiye's southeastern Gaziantep province, the Turkish interior minister said.

"Unfortunately, according to initial information, three of our citizens, including a child and a teacher, lost their lives,” SuleymanSoylu said on Monday.

Six others were also injured when the PKK/YPG fired multiple rockets from northern Syria, authorities confirmed.

Five rockets hit a residential area near the Karkamis border crossing in Gaziantep province, Governor Davut Gul said on Twitter.

A high school and two houses as well as a truck were damaged in the attack.

An investigation has been launched into the latest spate of cross-border attacks launched by the terrorist organisation.

On Sunday, at least eight security personnel, including seven police officers and one soldier, were injured in another PKK/YPG rocket attack into southeastern Türkiye near the KilisOncupinar border crossing.

Separately on Sunday, the YPG/PKK in northern Syria fired four rockets into Karkamis. The rockets hit an empty area, and an investigation of the attack has begun, officials said.

Operation Claw-Sword

The attacks came after Türkiye announced on Sunday that it had launched an air operation against the PKK/YPG terrorist group in northern Syria and northern Iraq.

The operation follows the November 13 bombing on Istanbul's crowded Istiklal Avenue that killed at least six people and left 81 injured.

Ankara said the attack was carried out by the PKK/YPG.

In its more than 35-year campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organisation by Türkiye, the US, and the EU – has been responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

The YPG is the terrorist group's Syrian offshoot.

https://www.trtworld.com/turkey/ypg-pkk-rocket-attack-kills-at-least-3-people-in-southeastern-t%C3%BCrkiye-62755

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