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Islamic World News ( 22 Apr 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Gay Sex, Female Pop Stars and When Women Outnumber Men: What a Hardline Islamist Preacher Predicts For the End of the World in Bizarre Sermon












Photo: Gay sex, female pop stars and when women outnumber men: What a hardline Islamist preacher predicts for the end of the world in bizarre sermon

 

Kazakhstan's President Wants a Legal Ban on Certain Islamic Clothing

'ISI Men in Seers' Guise to Target Key UP Locations'

'Pak Sheltering Qaida's Al-Zawahari Whose Last Wish Is Big Attack on US', Says Newsweek

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Europe

Gay Sex, Female Pop Stars and When Women Outnumber Men: What a Hardline Islamist Preacher Predicts For the End of the World in Bizarre Sermon

Note Found In Paris Shooter's Car Said 'Willing To Die For Allah'

Ban the Burqa AND Sharia Law: UKIP leader Paul Nuttall wants UK to outlaw full-face veil

Ahmadi Muslims 'facing discrimination' in Cardiff

Catholic Church condemns Croatian play featuring Jesus Christ Muslim rape scene

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Southeast Asia

Kazakhstan's President Wants a Legal Ban on Certain Islamic Clothing

Maldives Liberal Blogger Stabbed To Death in Restive Capital

'Black Is Only For Funerals!' Kazakh President Calls For Ban Against Islamic Attire

Chinese jihadis' rise in Syria raises concerns at home

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India

'ISI Men in Seers' Guise to Target Key UP Locations'

This Texan Nihang Has a Christian Mom, Muslim Father

Two terrorists killed in encounter in J&K's Budgam district

Time to dismantle terror safe havens: India on Afghan attack

After Courting Controversy on the Issue, Sonu Nigam Now Posts Recording Of an 'Azaan' On Twitter

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Pakistan

'Pak Sheltering Qaida's Al-Zawahari Whose Last Wish Is Big Attack on US', Says Newsweek

Pak Man Eats Leaves for 25 Years, Never Falls Ill

University employee arrested in Mashal lynching case

‘Terror suspect facing extradition is not a Pakistani citizen’

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Arab World

Coalition Kills 21 Islamic State Militants in Western Anbar

ISIS ‘Essentially Moved’ It’s Syria HQ From Raqqa To Deir Ez-Zor Province – Report

Continuous clashes and shelling in the outskirts of Halfaya and Tayyibat al-Imam

More Civilians Killed, Wounded in US-Led Coalition Airstrikes in Northeastern Syria

Dissident Leader: Turkey Directly Involved in Khan Sheikhoun Chemical Attack

Terrorists to Use US-Made Missiles to Slow Down Syrian Army Advances in Western Aleppo

Al-Nusra Continues Vast Withdrawal of Forces from Hama under Syrian Army Heavy Attacks

Non-Syrian ISIL Terrorists Killed in Syrian Army's Fresh Advances in Deir Ezzur

Alleged Israeli Strike Killed 3 Syrian Defence Forces Fighters in Golans © AP Photo/ Ariel Schalit

Iraqi policeman killed in Islamic State attack

Saudi king's air force pilot son named US envoy

Syrian Army Smashes Terrorist Centres, Wins back More Territories in Hama

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South Asia

A Shortage of Coffins’ After Taliban Slaughter Unarmed Soldiers'

Karzai Says Can No Longer Call Taliban Brothers after Army Base Attack

Afghan govt to honour martyred soldiers from base attack with promotion

Al-Qaeda members among 10 killed in South of Afghanistan airstrikes

Twitter suspends Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid’s account

8 killed as airstrikes, artillery fire pound ISIS-K hideouts in East of Afghanistan

National day of mourning as dozens of Afghan soldiers killed in base attack

Ceremony commemorates Ghazni’s fourth anniversary of center of Islamic civilization

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North America

Indiana State University Professor Arrested for Allegedly Fabricating Anti-Muslim Threats

US lawmaker vows to defend Muslims’ rights; help Pakistan eradicate polio

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Mideast

Turkey Will Halt Refugee Deal If EU Rejects Ankara’s New Visa-Free Travel Plan – Minister

Arrest of man responsible for anti-Shia extremism in Mafraq met with controversy

President opens World Assembly of Islamic Cities summit in Qazvin

GCC Islamic banks’ growth expected to moderate in 2017-18

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Africa

Islamic Movement Slams Nigeria Govt over El-Zakzaky Prolonged Detention

Head of High Islamic Council urges youth to vote massively

Compiled by Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/gay-sex,-female-pop-stars-and-when-women-outnumber-men--what-a-hardline-islamist-preacher-predicts-for-the-end-of-the-world-in-bizarre-sermon/d/110872

 

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Gay sex, female pop stars and when women outnumber men: What a hardline Islamist preacher predicts for the end of the world in bizarre sermon

23 April 2017

A fundamentalist Muslim preacher has declared the world is coming to an end when men look like women, there is gay sex, female pop stars and scantily-clad ladies.

Dr Omar Najjarine had a series of predictions in his sermon titled 'End of Days' delivered at Auburn in Sydney's west.

The preacher from the hardline Sunni Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah Association of Australia referenced the Prophet Mohammad when making his forecasts about the end of the world.

'Men will look like women and women will look like men. These are prophesies of Mohammad of Allah,' he said late last week.

'And when men lie with men, women lie with women, and to add to that, female singers and musical instruments will be prevalent, will be popular.'

The predictions did not end there, with Dr Najjarine forecasting that scantily-clad women and women outnumbering men were other signs of the world ending.

'And we can add some more in related topics on this where men will be outnumbered by women, women would be naked in spite of being dressed and we find this in Muslims and they will lead astray and they will take many people astray with them,' he said.

He added sex outside of marriage and infidelity would also be common, especially if practised by political leaders.

'Adultery and fornication will be prevalent. When fornication becomes widespread, among your leaders… and the leaders stop forbidding it, it no longer becomes forbidden or against the law,' Dr Najjarine said.

'When adultery and fornication becomes widespread and out in the open, the children of fornication become widespread. How many children don't know who their father is?

'Even the mother is not sure who the father is. So the children of fornication will become widespread.'

Dr Najjarine's sermon did not pinpoint exactly when the end of the world was coming, considering female singers have topped the charts for decades with Madonna during the 1980s and 90s, and Beyonce and Lady Gaga more recently.

Androgynous models are also in vogue.

The Bukhari House Islamic Bookstore has a prayer room which hosts Islamist fundamentalists        +2

The Bukhari House Islamic Bookstore has a prayer room which hosts Islamist fundamentalists

The ASWJ group at Auburn holds sermons for men and boys at a prayer room above the Bukhari House Islamic Bookstore, which has been linked to Farhad Jabar, the 15-year-old radicalised schoolboy who shot dead accountant Curtis Cheng in 2015 outside police headquarters in Parramatta.

This hardline brand of Sunni Islamism supports sharia law, which secular Muslims reject.

This same group has hosted sermons saying men would be judged by Allah for using public urinals while women would be punished for plucking their eyebrows.

dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4436620/Islamist-says-world-ending-men-look-like-women.html#ixzz4f4L4xiXz

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Kazakhstan's President Wants a Legal Ban on Certain Islamic Clothing

April 23, 2017

Black clothing is only for funerals, says Kazakhstan's president, who wants a legal ban on certain Islamic clothing -- such as body-covering black garments for women and so-called Salafi-style ankle-length pants for men.

In a meeting with the country's religious leaders in the capital, Astana, on April 9, Nursultan Nazarbaev expressed concern over what he described as a growing trend among young Kazakhs to opt for religious garb.

"Our young men grow beards and cut the length of their trousers [above the ankles]," he said, referring to styles of dress and appearance that are often associated with conservative Muslims who are branded as "Salafis" and portrayed by the authorities as followers of a potentially dangerous strand of Islam.

"The number of Kazakh girls who are fully covered with black clothing is on the rise," Nazarbaev said, blaming the trend on young people's "ignorance" and a lack of knowledge about true religious values.

Nazarbaev said it was "necessary" to work out a legal ban on such attire, which he said was "incompatible" with the traditions of the predominantly Muslim Central Asian country. "Kazakhs wear black garments only for funerals," Nazarbaev said.

He made no mention of banning other forms of Islamic dress worn in Kazakhstan.

'Dangerous' Trends

Nazarbaev, a staunchly secular, former-communist leader who has ruled the resources-rich state since 1989, said there were people who are "envious" of Kazakhstan's vast territories and natural wealth.

These people, he said, seek to incite discord in society through religious teachings alien to the Kazakh nation, Nazarbaev warned, urging the country's nearly 4,000 officially registered imams to help fight against the "dangerous" trends.

"We must combat the tendencies that pose threats to our statehood," he said. The Kazakh president's official website also pointed out that "alien religious teachings" have penetrated Kazakh society via the Internet.

Kazakhstan banned the Islamic head scarf or the hijab in schools in 2016, along with all other clothing that "directly or indirectly propagates religion."

Kazakh authorities have increasingly expressed concern about religious extremism in the country, where several hundred people -- including some young families -- are estimated to have joined the Islamic State extremist group fighting in Syria and Iraq.

In June 2016, the government blamed a deadly attack in the northwestern city of Aqtobe on "followers of radical, nontraditional religious movements."

Authorities said eight people were killed when a group of suspected Islamic militants entered the city, raided a gun shop, and attacked an army unit. Aqtobe was also the site of what Kazakh authorities described as the country's first suicide attack, in 2011.

'Foreign Culture Disguised As Religion'

Islamic garments and other outward signs of religious observance have come under pressure elsewhere in Central Asia, where governments see the rising influence of the religion as a threat to state secularism.

In Kyrgyzstan, President Almazbek Atambaev has said that "foreign culture should not be imposed upon us in the guise of religion."

Tajikistan has officially banned the head-covering hijab in all public places and discourages men from growing long beards. Police reportedly often round up men with bushy beards and force them to shave.

Uzbekistan doesn't have a formal ban on the hijab or bushy beards, but some men with long beards have reportedly been barred from attending soccer games, and hijab-wearing women have allegedly been stopped by police for questioning in both the eastern Ferghana Province and the capital, Tashkent.

rferl.org/a/kazakhstan-nazarbaev-banning-islamic-dress-black-funerals/28447008.html

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'ISI men in seers' guise to target key UP locations'

Shalabh | TNN | Updated: Apr 23, 2017

LUCKNOW: A group of 20 to 25 men dressed as seers is planning to attack important places in Uttar Pradesh, the state police's security headquarters has warned personnel in an alert issued on Friday.

The group, allegedly trained by Pakistan's ISI, has reportedly been asked to target Ayodhya, Varanasi, Vrindavan, and the Taj Mahal in Agra.

All district police chiefs and railway superintendents of police have been informed about the threat. UP anti-terror squad inspector general Asim Arun said, "We are coordinating with other agencies to thwart such attempts."

Central intelligence agencies have been sharing inputs with UP police since February about increased activity of terrorists in the state. According to the latest alert, ISI is planning to launch attacks in UP under the code name 'Operation Krishna India'.

2,000 madrassas, mosques in UP under security scanner

The agency has reportedly trained the group for months to familiarise them with Hindu religious practices. Members of the module are planning to enter UP through the Nepal border in the guise of seers, said the letter from the UP police's security headquarters.

The men are reportedly planning to enter religious places and mingle with the crowd before launching attacks. In the wake of the alert, the security apparatus around the high court buildings in Allahabad and Lucknow and the Vidhan Bhavan, as well as around airports and railway stations, has been enhanced. Intelligence agencies picked up intercepts through electronic surveillance in which youths are heard discussing the deaths of SIMI men in Telangana and IS suspect Saifullah in Lucknow. A Khurasan module was busted after Saifullah's death in Kanpur last month. On Thursday, three more self-radicalised youths were arrested by UP ATS.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/terror-alert-sounded-out-in-up/articleshow/58313425.cms

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'Pak sheltering Qaida's al-Zawahari whose last wish is big attack on US', says Newsweek

Shailaja Neelakantan | TIMESOFINDIA.COM | Updated: Apr 22, 2017, 04.37 PM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

A former top Pakistani official is a “100 percent” sure that Osama bin Laden’s son, Hamza, is also being sheltered by ISI

Several experts say that till today, Al-Qaida remains a potent force

Al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahri (Via AFP)'Pak sheltering Qaida's al-Zawahari whose last wish is big attack on US', says Newsweek

NEW DELHI: Al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri is being sheltered by Pakistan's ISI, possibly in Karachi, and the Islamic terrorist's "desperate last wish" is a last, big, blowout attack on the US "before folding his eyes", multiple sources told Newsweek.

As for Hamza bin Laden, al-Zawahiri's dead protege's son, he, too, is in Pakistan, also being sheltered by the ISI, a former top Pakistani official said to Newsweek.

The Pakistani intelligence agency been protecting al-Zawahiri since US forces evicted Al-Qaida from Afghanistan in late 2001, according to several sources that Newsweek terms "authoritative". And the US was likely in the know about his whereabouts, because last year in January, the Barack Obama administration went after him with a drone and almost got him.

"The drone hit next to the room where Dr. Zawahiri was staying," a "senior" militant from region told Newsweek. "The shared wall collapsed, and debris from the explosion showered on him and broke his glasses, but luckily he was safe," the militant added.

In fact, al-Zawahiri, has survived "several" drone attacks since 2001, an Afghan Taliban leader told Newsweek. He added that the Al-Qaida leader was "no longer welcome" in areas controlled by his group because it's engaged in peace negotiations with the Afghan government and doesn't want to be seen as "a threat to world peace."

That's why the ISI - which the Afghan Taliban refers to as "the black leg" - moved al-Zawahiri to Karachi. The Pakistani port city "makes sense" as a sanctuary, the former Pakistani official told Newsweek. That's because the city has widespread sympathies for militant Islam, has congested 19th-century streets and a large Pakistani military presence.

In fact, it's the same official who said he is a "100 percent" sure that bin Laden's 26-year-old son, Hamza, a rising "star", is also in the country under ISI protection.

Several experts say that till today, Al-Qaida remains a potent force with the ability to attack the US again and that the Donald Trump administration recognizes that.

In fact, Bruce Riedel, a 30-year CIA veteran, points to a 2014 plot by Al-Qaeda to place sympathizers on a Pakistani frigate, hijack it and use it to "attack American naval ships in the Indian Ocean, or maybe Indian ships, or maybe both."

As Riedel told Newsweek: Imagine if a Pakistani frigate packed with explosives—or a nuclear device—"sank an American aircraft carrier".

"That would change world history".

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pak-sheltering-qaidas-al-zawahari-whose-last-wish-is-big-attack-on-us-says-newsweek/articleshow/58313982.cms

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Europe

Gay sex, female pop stars and when women outnumber men: What a hardline Islamist preacher predicts for the end of the world in bizarre sermon

23 April 2017

A fundamentalist Muslim preacher has declared the world is coming to an end when men look like women, there is gay sex, female pop stars and scantily-clad ladies.

Dr Omar Najjarine had a series of predictions in his sermon titled 'End of Days' delivered at Auburn in Sydney's west.

The preacher from the hardline Sunni Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah Association of Australia referenced the Prophet Mohammad when making his forecasts about the end of the world.

'Men will look like women and women will look like men. These are prophesies of Mohammad of Allah,' he said late last week.

'And when men lie with men, women lie with women, and to add to that, female singers and musical instruments will be prevalent, will be popular.'

The predictions did not end there, with Dr Najjarine forecasting that scantily-clad women and women outnumbering men were other signs of the world ending.

'And we can add some more in related topics on this where men will be outnumbered by women, women would be naked in spite of being dressed and we find this in Muslims and they will lead astray and they will take many people astray with them,' he said.

He added sex outside of marriage and infidelity would also be common, especially if practised by political leaders.

'Adultery and fornication will be prevalent. When fornication becomes widespread, among your leaders… and the leaders stop forbidding it, it no longer becomes forbidden or against the law,' Dr Najjarine said.

'When adultery and fornication becomes widespread and out in the open, the children of fornication become widespread. How many children don't know who their father is?

'Even the mother is not sure who the father is. So the children of fornication will become widespread.'

Dr Najjarine's sermon did not pinpoint exactly when the end of the world was coming, considering female singers have topped the charts for decades with Madonna during the 1980s and 90s, and Beyonce and Lady Gaga more recently.

Androgynous models are also in vogue.

The Bukhari House Islamic Bookstore has a prayer room which hosts Islamist fundamentalists        +2

The Bukhari House Islamic Bookstore has a prayer room which hosts Islamist fundamentalists

The ASWJ group at Auburn holds sermons for men and boys at a prayer room above the Bukhari House Islamic Bookstore, which has been linked to Farhad Jabar, the 15-year-old radicalised schoolboy who shot dead accountant Curtis Cheng in 2015 outside police headquarters in Parramatta.

This hardline brand of Sunni Islamism supports sharia law, which secular Muslims reject.

This same group has hosted sermons saying men would be judged by Allah for using public urinals while women would be punished for plucking their eyebrows.

dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4436620/Islamist-says-world-ending-men-look-like-women.html#ixzz4f4L4xiXz

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Note found in Paris shooter's car said 'willing to die for Allah'

 

Residents of the Paris suburb of Chelles can't believe their neighbor, Karim Cheurfi, was the terrorist from Thursday's Champs Elysee attack • Like many times before, however, authorities failed to read the writing on the jihadist-criminal's wall in time.

Police officers arrive at the home of terrorist Karim Cheurfi in the north Paris suburb of Chelles, Friday | Photo credit: Reuters

Like the aftermath of every terrorist attack, this time, too, residents of the north Paris suburb of Chelles refuse to believe. They don't believe that their neighbor, Karim Cheurfi, 39, murdered police officer Xavier Jugele on the Champs Elysee Thursday night, just ahead of France's historic presidential elections. "It's not possible that someone who lived here is a terrorist," I heard time and again.

Apparently, however, they didn't know their neighbor very well, even though the writing was on the wall -- much as it always is before such attacks.

Cheurfi, who was killed in a shootout with police after wounding two other policemen and a bystander, had a rich criminal history. After a long line of criminal offenses, including shooting at police officers in 2001 during an attempted car theft, he stood trial and was sentenced to 20 years behind bars. Following an appeal in 2005, however, his sentence was commuted and he was released from prison in 2013. According to the Guardian newspaper, in 2014 Cheurfi was sentenced to four years for violent robbery but was released on parole the following year and moved in with his mother. Two months ago he was detained after authorities learned that he was planning to kill police officers, but he was released due to a lack of evidence.

"At that stage, no link with the radical Islamist movement was apparent," Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said. "Nothing justified further investigations by my office."

According to Molins, a note defending the Islamic State group was found near Cheurfi's body. A handgun, ammunition, butcher knives and a Quran were also found in his car. He even wrote a note expressing his desire to "die for Allah." His mother, brother and stepfather were arrested.

French newspaper Le Monde revealed that the terrorist told a friend that he wanted to harm French police officers "to avenge the death of Muslims in Syria." The newspaper reported that intelligence agencies had taken note of his unusual behavior, but did not place him on a watch list because he was not deemed an immediate threat, even after he allegedly attempted to contact ISIS in Iraq or Syria. Cheurfi was reportedly radicalized while in prison. This is the number one problem regarding Muslim youth in French prisons: They enter as criminals and come out as jihadists. In January, Cheurfi violated the conditions of his parole and flew to Algeria in search of a wife, but for some reason he only received a reprimand upon his return to France.

The French Interior Ministry confirmed a manhunt was underway for another person suspected of involvement in the attack, but according to Reuters it was possible the suspect had already turned himself in to the authorities. Meanwhile, a man armed with a knife sowed panic at the Gare du Nord metro station in Paris on Saturday and was arrested.

Back to Chelles and the terrorist's home, where neighbors in the Paris suburb of 50,000 spoke to inquiring journalists including me. They described a quiet, discrete man "who never forgot to say hello on the rare occasion you ran into him on the street." He would return home late at night, drunk, he would drive wildly and sometimes even park the car in the middle of the street.

"It's not something that's easy to speak about," said one neighbor, Jose, standing next to Muslim residents of the neighborhood. "You see, I'm Christian and they are Muslims and we have no problem here. I'm not saying this is the case in other places. They put everyone together and it's not healthy. Now Marine Le Pen is pointing at them at every opportunity as responsible for the situation. But let's assume she is elected and closes the borders, how will she prevent the next terrorist attack? After all, they live here and they are French. Where will she throw them, to the moon?" Another neighbor interjects: "He [Cheurfi] wasn't religious. He smoked, drank, drove wildly. But you have to admit that ever since he got out of prison he barely left the house."

The attack at the Champs Elysee was the 10th incident in which uniformed police were targeted by jihadist-criminals. The French people, they say, were not overly perturbed this time because police and not they were in the crosshairs. But in March 2012, Mohamed Merah gunned down three French soldiers and four days later he also murdered three Jewish children in Toulouse. However, that did little to horrify French public opinion -- until the terrorist attack in 2015 of course, and the rest is history.

israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=41937

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Ban the Burqa AND Sharia Law: UKIP leader Paul Nuttall wants UK to outlaw full-face veil

 

The Ukip leader told the BBC's Andrew Marr the party would punish the wearing of full-face veils with a fine in order to “achieve full British integration”.

The proposal would put Britain in line with France, Belgium and Bulgaria where the Burqa - which covers the entire body including face - is outlawed.

Mr Nuttall said: “There is the issue of integration. I do not believe you cannot integrate full and enjoy the fruits of British society if you cannot see people’s faces.

SOCIAL CHANGE: The Ukip leader believes the move with help 'full British integration'

“I do not believe you cannot integrate full and enjoy the fruits of British society if you cannot see people’s faces”

Paul Nuttall

“What we need to do is make these people fully integrated into British society and you can’t do that behind the veil.”

He said the tough stance was needed to tackle the rise of Islamic extremism and promote social integration.

Mr Nuttall will also include in his manifesto pledge the proposal to ban Sharia Law - the religious rules that form part of Islamic tradition.

The hilarious pictures from the campaign trail the politicians DON'T want you to see

Theresa May looks throughly revolted while speaking in Walmsley Parish Hall The name's Sturgeon, Nicola Sturgeon Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry looks like she's belting out some opera Looks like Theresa May is going for "engaged and interested." This may not be entirely successful Jeremy Corbyn pulling a face as he reads to children at Brentry Children's Centre in Bristol Theresa May looks a bit weird mid-sentence while speaking to students at Cox Green School in Maidenhead Jeremy Corbyn gets a bit animated with supporters in Whitchurch

The party's manifesto is expected to suggest that anyone with evidence of female genital mutilation will be bound by law to inform police.

And he will call for postal voting on demand to be abolished to combat electoral fraud.

Ex-Ukip leader Nigel Farage proposed a Burqa ban in 2010 but the party later dropped the policy after Paul Nuttall took over.

After Britain voted to leave the EU, we look at which European countries want to hold their own EU referendum.

Frexit, Nexit or Auxit? Who will be next to leave the EU Frexit: Leader of the French National Front Marine Le Pen has pledged to hold a French referendum Nexit: A whopping 88 per cent of people polled by a top Dutch newspaper said they would be in favour of an in/out vote along British lines Nexit: Dutch far-right Party for Freedom leader Geert Wilders pledged to make the EU membership a key issue in the next general election Pexit: Law and Justice leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said 'The conclusion is obvious. We need a new European treaty' Auxit: Former right-wing Austrian Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer said his country should have a referendum within a year Denmark: The Danes held a referendum last December and decided against handing over more powers to the EU

Meanwhile, anti-immigration and anti-EU French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen looks set to surge into the lead France’s first round of voting.

Pundits predict far-right Marine could be on course to topple in the Brussels bureaucrats of the European Union.

France has been on a knife-edge after a wave of terrorist attacks and as the national feels the brunt of the migrant crisis.

dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/608053/general-election-2017-latest-ukip-paul-nuttall-Burqa-ban-sharia-law

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Ahmadi Muslims 'facing discrimination' in Cardiff

By Nicola Bryan

Media captionOther Muslims 'don't give you respect', Ahmadiyya Muslims tell BBC Wales

Members of a Muslim sect in Cardiff claim they are facing discrimination from other Muslims in the city.

Worshippers at the Ahmadiyya mosque in Canton said other Muslims had shunned them, with one claiming he was sacked from a restaurant and another that he was accosted for selling Islamic books.

Ahmadis have been declared non-Muslim in Pakistan because they do not believe Mohammed was the final prophet.

The Muslim Council of Wales (MCW) said it "abhorred" any type of persecution.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission confirmed it had "received correspondence" about the matter.

In a written statement, the MCW said: "Sunni and Shia Muslims do not recognise Mirza Gulam Ahmad as the Messiah... whereas the Ahmadiyya do.

"This forms a theological schism, and one which the majority of Sunni and Shia scholars consider to mean that Ahmadiyyas have moved beyond mainstream Islam.

"We abhor strongly any persecution based on religion, race, gender, disability or sexual orientation and support the religious freedom of all, including the Ahmadiyya.

"This is a value that unites Muslims and faith groups across the globe."

There are fewer than 150 Ahmadis in Cardiff and many came to the city after being the subject of sectarian attacks and persecution in Pakistan.

Mubarik Bashir and Arshid Mahmood

Image caption

Mubarik Bashir and Arshid Mahmood both said they have been subjected to persecution due to their religion

Mubarik Bashir, who prays at the Ahmadi mosque, claimed he was fired from an Asian restaurant in the city because of his beliefs.

He said: "I went to work there for three weeks. [But I was told] the owner is not happy with me. They told me 'I think you're Ahmadi. My customers are not happy. Please leave this job'.

"I was very upset. After that I wasn't working for two or three months."

Another member of the community, Arshid Mahmood, said he had been verbally abused for selling Islamic books.

He said: "Two years ago we held a [religious] bookstall in Cardiff Bay. Three Arab Muslims came and said 'well done'... and took three or four books to distribute.

"After 10 or 15 minutes they came back and threw the books and said 'you are not Muslim. Why are you distributing these books?'

"They abused us and went."

The community meets at a former office on Sanatorium Road in Cardiff to worship

Image caption

The community meets at a former office on Sanatorium Road in Cardiff to worship

Abdur Shakoor, who also worships at the Sanatorium Road mosque in Canton, said other Muslims had refused to greet him.

"I work in an Asian community… I try and say 'Salam Alaikum' to them and they won't answer it, they won't say 'Salam Alaikum' back to you or give you respect," he said.

Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters, which works to reduce religious conflict, said this kind of discrimination had "gone unchecked for too long".

"Imported thinking from Pakistan and elsewhere has seeped into the mindset of some orthodox Muslims in this country," he said.

"Unfortunately, there seems to be no room for pluralism."

bbc.com/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-39641727

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Catholic Church condemns Croatian play featuring Jesus Christ Muslim rape scene

 

The play features a hijab-clad woman being raped by Jesus after pulling a national flag from her genitals. The Catholic Church says it was inundated with complaints from its disgusted members.A controversial play which depicts Jesus Christ raping a Muslim woman drew strong condemnation from Croatia’s Catholic Church on Saturday.

A theater festival in the coastal city of Split was due to host a performance on Monday of Croatian playwright Oliver Frljic’s “Our Violence and Your Violence,” but the region’s Archdiocese called for its cancellation.

The play discusses Europe’s refugee crisis and was already staged in Croatia and other European countries.

In one scene Jesus rapes a Muslim woman wearing a hijab. Earlier in the play, a naked actress wearing a hijab pulls out a national flag from her vagina.

“We urge all those responsible … to take steps that [the play] does not offend people and humiliate culture,” the regional Archdiocese of Split said in a statement.

The play “offends God, man and nation,” the Archdiocese said, adding it had “already provoked local and international condemnation.”

The statement was addressed to the Ministry of Culture, Split authorities and the town’s national theater, where the play was to be staged.

The Split-Makarska Archdiocese said it was inundated with complaints from its disgusted members.

Insult to poet’s memory

Marulic Days Festival is named after Croatian Renaissance poet Marko Marulic, a humanist writer whose work was heavily influenced by the Bible. The Archdiocese said hosting such a play at a festival in his honor was an insult to his memory.

A Croatian ultraconservative party announced a protest in front of the theater on Monday, saying it “offended in the most brutal way the religious and moral feelings of Christians, Muslims and other Croatian citizens.”

On Friday, one of Frljic’s other plays, “The Curse,” drew protests in the Polish city of Warsaw. Polish police dislodged Catholic protestors from the entrance of a theater. The play featured scenes that depicted oral sex being performed on a statue of the late Polish Pope John Paul II. The statue later had a sign hung around its neck labeling him a protector of pedophiles.

The Polish Powszechny theater said in a statement that “the show gives the floor to various ideological positions and must be analyzed as an integral artistic work and not a set of scenes apart, unrelated.”

Poland’s conservative Law and Justice party in 2016 slammed a Polish production of “Our Violence and Your Violence,” saying it contained “pornography and blasphemy.”

About 90 percent of Croatia’s 4.2 million citizens identify as Roman Catholic, according to the 2011 census.

dailynewsegypt.com/2017/04/22/catholic-church-condemns-croatian-play-featuring-jesus-christ-muslim-rape-scene/

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Southeast Asia

Kazakhstan's President Wants a Legal Ban on Certain Islamic Clothing

April 23, 2017

Black clothing is only for funerals, says Kazakhstan's president, who wants a legal ban on certain Islamic clothing -- such as body-covering black garments for women and so-called Salafi-style ankle-length pants for men.

In a meeting with the country's religious leaders in the capital, Astana, on April 9, Nursultan Nazarbaev expressed concern over what he described as a growing trend among young Kazakhs to opt for religious garb.

"Our young men grow beards and cut the length of their trousers [above the ankles]," he said, referring to styles of dress and appearance that are often associated with conservative Muslims who are branded as "Salafis" and portrayed by the authorities as followers of a potentially dangerous strand of Islam.

"The number of Kazakh girls who are fully covered with black clothing is on the rise," Nazarbaev said, blaming the trend on young people's "ignorance" and a lack of knowledge about true religious values.

Nazarbaev said it was "necessary" to work out a legal ban on such attire, which he said was "incompatible" with the traditions of the predominantly Muslim Central Asian country. "Kazakhs wear black garments only for funerals," Nazarbaev said.

He made no mention of banning other forms of Islamic dress worn in Kazakhstan.

'Dangerous' Trends

Nazarbaev, a staunchly secular, former-communist leader who has ruled the resources-rich state since 1989, said there were people who are "envious" of Kazakhstan's vast territories and natural wealth.

These people, he said, seek to incite discord in society through religious teachings alien to the Kazakh nation, Nazarbaev warned, urging the country's nearly 4,000 officially registered imams to help fight against the "dangerous" trends.

"We must combat the tendencies that pose threats to our statehood," he said. The Kazakh president's official website also pointed out that "alien religious teachings" have penetrated Kazakh society via the Internet.

Kazakhstan banned the Islamic head scarf or the hijab in schools in 2016, along with all other clothing that "directly or indirectly propagates religion."

Kazakh authorities have increasingly expressed concern about religious extremism in the country, where several hundred people -- including some young families -- are estimated to have joined the Islamic State extremist group fighting in Syria and Iraq.

In June 2016, the government blamed a deadly attack in the northwestern city of Aqtobe on "followers of radical, nontraditional religious movements."

Authorities said eight people were killed when a group of suspected Islamic militants entered the city, raided a gun shop, and attacked an army unit. Aqtobe was also the site of what Kazakh authorities described as the country's first suicide attack, in 2011.

'Foreign Culture Disguised As Religion'

Islamic garments and other outward signs of religious observance have come under pressure elsewhere in Central Asia, where governments see the rising influence of the religion as a threat to state secularism.

In Kyrgyzstan, President Almazbek Atambaev has said that "foreign culture should not be imposed upon us in the guise of religion."

Tajikistan has officially banned the head-covering hijab in all public places and discourages men from growing long beards. Police reportedly often round up men with bushy beards and force them to shave.

Uzbekistan doesn't have a formal ban on the hijab or bushy beards, but some men with long beards have reportedly been barred from attending soccer games, and hijab-wearing women have allegedly been stopped by police for questioning in both the eastern Ferghana Province and the capital, Tashkent.

rferl.org/a/kazakhstan-nazarbaev-banning-islamic-dress-black-funerals/28447008.html

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Maldives Liberal Blogger Stabbed To Death in Restive Capital

AFP | Updated: Apr 23, 2017

MALE, Maldives: A liberal blogger, Yameen Rasheed, was stabbed to death in the politically restive Maldivian capital Male, his family members and colleagues said Sunday. He was 29.

Rasheed was found in the stairwell of his apartment with multiple stab wounds to his neck and chest early Sunday and died shortly after being taken to hospital, family members said.

His blog, The Daily Panic, had a considerable following and was known for poking fun at politicians in the nation of some 340,000 Sunni Muslims.

"With The Daily Panic, I hope to cover and comment upon the news, satirise the frequently unsatirisable politics of Maldives," he wrote on his blog.

Rasheed is the third media personality to be targeted in the Maldives in the past five years. Blogger Ismail Rasheed, also known as Hilath, was stabbed and wounded by an unidentified attacker in 2012.

A journalist with the independent Minivan News, Ahmed Rilwan, was likely abducted in August 2014 and has been missing ever since.

Exiled opposition leader and former president Mohamed Nasheed on Sunday demanded action on the latest killing of an independent journalist.

"President Nasheed is demanding an inquiry with international participation so it can't be swept under the carpet as usual," a spokesman for Nasheed told AFP.

Political tension has mounted in the Maldives after a failed bid by the opposition to impeach the country's parliamentary speaker late last month.

The regime of President Abdulla Yameen has arrested the last Maldives opposition leader not to be in jail or in exile as part of a major government crackdown on rival politicians, who narrowly failed to seize control of parliament.

Qasim Ibrahim, who ran for president in 2013 and currently heads the Jumhooree Party (JP), was one of four signatories of an opposition unity deal aimed at toppling Yameen.

Ibrahim was briefly detained and released earlier this month only to be re-arrested over the weekend.

A coalition of opposition parties, led by exiled leader Nasheed, is trying to undermine Yameen before elections next year.

It faces an uphill struggle, with all opposition leaders now in exile or in jail after a years-long crackdown on dissent under Yameen's leadership.

The clampdown has raised fears over the country's stability and dented its image as a tourist paradise

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/maldives-blogger-stabbed-to-death-in-restive-capital/articleshow/58325529.cms

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Chinese jihadis' rise in Syria raises concerns at home

AP | Apr 22, 2017, 01.40 PM IST

Thousands of Chinese jihadis are fighting in Syria.

Some of them have joined al-Qaida, ISIS and Ahrar al-Sham.

But majority of Chinese jihadis are with the Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria.

Turkistan Islamic Party considers China's Xinjiang to be East Turkistan.

Jihadis from Turkistan Islamic Party holds their weapons, at unknown place in Syria.Jihadis from Turkistan Islamic Party holds their weapons, at unknown place in Syria.

BEIRUT: Many don't speak Arabic and their role in Syria is little known to the outside world, but the Chinese fighters of the Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria are organized, battled-hardened and have been instrumental in ground offensives against President Bashar Assad's forces in the country's northern regions.

Thousands of Chinese jihadis have come to Syria since the country's civil war began in March 2011 to fight against government forces and their allies. Some have joined the al-Qaida's branch in the country previously known as Nusra Front. Others paid allegiance to the Islamic State group and a smaller number joined factions such as the ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham.

But the majority of Chinese jihadis are with the Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria, whose vast majority are Chinese Muslims, particularly those from the Turkic-speaking Uighur majority native to Xinjiang in China. Their growing role in Syria has resulted in increased cooperation between Syrian and Chinese intelligence agencies who fear those same jihadis could one day return home and cause trouble there.

The Turkistan Islamic Party is the other name for the East Turkistan Islamic Movement that considers China's Xinjiang to be East Turkistan.

Like most jihadi groups in Syria, their aim is to remove Assad's secular government from power and replace it with strict Islamic rule. Their participation in the war, which has left nearly 400,000 people dead, comes at a time when the Chinese government is one of Assad's strongest international backers. Along with Russia, China has used its veto power at the UN Security Council on several occasions to prevent the imposition of international sanctions against its Arab ally.

Beijing has blamed violence back at home and against Chinese targets around the world on Islamic militants with foreign connections seeking an independent state in Xinjiang. The government says some of them are fleeing the country to join the Jihad, although critics say the Uighurs are discriminated against and economically marginalized in their homeland and are merely seeking to escape repressive rule by the majority Han Chinese.

Abu Dardaa al-Shami, a member of the now-defunct extremist Jund al-Aqsa group, said the TIP has the best "Inghemasiyoun," Arabic for "those who immerse themselves." The Inghemasiyoun have been used by extremist groups such as IS and al-Qaida's affiliate now known as Fatah al-Sham Front. Their role is to infiltrate their targets, unleash mayhem and fight to the death before a major ground offensive begins.

"They are the lions of ground offensives," said al-Shami, who fought on several occasions alongside TIP fighters in northern Syria.

Xie Xiaoyuan, China's envoy to Syria, told reporters in November that the two countries have had normal military exchanges focused on humanitarian issues, although Chinese officials have repeatedly rejected the possibility of sending troops or weapons.

In the last year, however, Chinese and Syrian officials have begun holding regular, once-a-month high-level meetings to share intelligence o militant movements in Syria, according to a person familiar with the matter. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to reveal military secrets.

"These people not only fight alongside international terrorist forces in Syria, but also they will possibly return to China posing threat to China's national security," said Li Wei, terrorism expert at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations and Director of the CICIR Institute of Security and Arms Control Studies.

Rami Abdurrahman who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said there are about 5,000 Chinese fighters in Syria, most of them with the TIP fighters in northern Syria who along with their families make about 20,000. Li, the terrorism expert, said Abdurrahman's numbers are way too high, adding that he believes the number are about 300 Chinese fighters in Syria who brought with them about 700 family members.

"As the control of the passage along the borders between Turkey and Syria is being tightened, it is becoming more difficult for them to smuggle into Syria," Li said.

Syrian opposition activists and pro-government media outlets say dozens of TIP fighters have carried out suicide attacks against government forces and their allies and for the past two years have led battles mostly in the north of the country.

The suicide attackers include one known as Shahid Allah al-Turkistani. He was shown in a video released by TIP taken from a drone of an attack in which he blew himself up in the vehicle he was driving near Aleppo late last year, allegedly killing dozens of pro-government gunmen.

In 2015, members of the group spearheaded an attack on the northwestern province of Idlib and captured the strategic town of Jisr al-Shughour on the edge of Assad's stronghold of Latakia region. They reportedly damaged a church in the town and raised their black flag on top of it.

In late 2016, TIP was a main force to briefly break a government siege on the then rebel-held eastern parts of the northern city of Aleppo.

The role of the Chinese jihadis in Syria was a topic that Assad spoke about last month in an interview with Chinese PHOENIX TV, saying "they know your country more than the others, so they can do more harm in your country than others."

Unlike other rebel groups, TIP is a very secretive organization and they live among themselves, according to activists in northern Syria. They are active in parts of Idlib and in the strategic town of Jisr al-Shughour, as well as the Kurdish Mountains in the western province of Latakia.

Abdul-Hakim Ramadan, a doctor who was active in Idlib province, said one of his teams was trying to enter a northwestern village to vaccinate children when TIP fighters prevented them from entering, saying only Chinese can go into the area.

Ramadan said unlike other fighters who have come to Syria, the Chinese have not merged into local communities and the language has been a major barrier.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/china/chinese-jihadis-rise-in-syria-raises-concerns-at-home/articleshow/58312693.cms

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India

'ISI men in seers' guise to target key UP locations'

Shalabh | TNN | Updated: Apr 23, 2017

LUCKNOW: A group of 20 to 25 men dressed as seers is planning to attack important places in Uttar Pradesh, the state police's security headquarters has warned personnel in an alert issued on Friday.

The group, allegedly trained by Pakistan's ISI, has reportedly been asked to target Ayodhya, Varanasi, Vrindavan, and the Taj Mahal in Agra.

All district police chiefs and railway superintendents of police have been informed about the threat. UP anti-terror squad inspector general Asim Arun said, "We are coordinating with other agencies to thwart such attempts."

Central intelligence agencies have been sharing inputs with UP police since February about increased activity of terrorists in the state. According to the latest alert, ISI is planning to launch attacks in UP under the code name 'Operation Krishna India'.

2,000 madrassas, mosques in UP under security scanner

The agency has reportedly trained the group for months to familiarise them with Hindu religious practices. Members of the module are planning to enter UP through the Nepal border in the guise of seers, said the letter from the UP police's security headquarters.

The men are reportedly planning to enter religious places and mingle with the crowd before launching attacks. In the wake of the alert, the security apparatus around the high court buildings in Allahabad and Lucknow and the Vidhan Bhavan, as well as around airports and railway stations, has been enhanced. Intelligence agencies picked up intercepts through electronic surveillance in which youths are heard discussing the deaths of SIMI men in Telangana and IS suspect Saifullah in Lucknow. A Khurasan module was busted after Saifullah's death in Kanpur last month. On Thursday, three more self-radicalised youths were arrested by UP ATS.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/terror-alert-sounded-out-in-up/articleshow/58313425.cms

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This Texan Nihang has a Christian mom, Muslim father

Yudhvir Rana | TNN | Updated: Apr 23, 2017

Harsangat Raj Kaur is one of the rarest white Sikhs who has become a Nihang

Kaur takes pride in calling herself Persian-Scandinavian Singhni.

She was baptized by Baba Budda Dal Jathedar Joginder Singh in 2012 during his first visit to the UK.

AMRITSAR: Born to a Christian mother and Muslim father of Iranian descent in Texas, Harsangat Raj Kaur should have been just another kid in the US, dealing with issues that come with growing up in an interracial family. Instead, she has adopted a totally different identity and lifestyle now. Kaur is one of the rarest white Sikhs who has become a Nihang, member of the armed Sikh warrior order famous for its victories in historical wars.

Kaur takes pride in calling herself Persian-Scandinavian Singhni who was born and raised in Texas. Today, she is a mounted archer in true Sikh tradition.

Inspired by a Nihang Sikh, Kaur not only adopted the lifestyle but also completed the ritual baptism of to become a Nihang Singhni. She was baptized by Baba Budda Dal Jathedar Joginder Singh in 2012 during his first visit to the UK. She told TOI that she has been riding horses since she was five. Trained as an archer too, she was fascinated by what she calls "the brotherhood of the horse" and slowly got attracted to the Nihang way of life. She says she finds this lifestyle to be natural, and today, she can easily recite Gurbani. Kaur has also visited Takht Shri Damadama Sahib and tried her hand at Gurmukhi, a Sikh script, by writing the letters in sand.

"My father's native tongue is Farsi so it's an advantage for me with Gurmukhi at times," she says. On how her family reacts when they see her in the flowing robes of a Nihang, she says, "It's not their favorite image of me." However, she admits that ever since she embraced Sikhism, there have been several changes in her lifestyle. "My life has changed for the better and I give my thanks to Waheguru each day," she says.

Kaur is not surprised that Sikhs were attacked in the US. "Growing up, I had to hide the fact of being Persian. I personally don't like the attention that it (dressed as a Nihang) can bring," she says.

Kaur aspires to have her own dal (group) of Nihangs in Texas with horses. "I want a place where the Sangat can come and meditate," she says.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/amritsar/this-texan-nihang-has-a-christian-mom-muslim-father/articleshow/58322035.cms

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Two terrorists killed in encounter in J&K's Budgam district

TIMESOFINDIA.COM | Updated: Apr 22, 2017, 10.13 PM IST

NEW DELHI: Two Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terrorists were neutralised in an encounter in Hayatpora village of Chadoora in central Kashmir's Budgam district on Saturday.

A patrolling party of the 53 Rashtriya Rifles were attacked by the terrorists at round 6 pm in the village, a police official said, "This triggered gunbattle between the terrorists and security forces."

He also said reinforcements were deployed to the area and an operation was launched to eliminate the terrorists, during which they were killed.

One of the militants has been identified as Younis Maqbool Ganai, a resident of Patrigam area of Chadoora, while the identity of the other is being ascertained, the official said.

An AK-47 rifle and some ammunition has been recovered from the site, the official added

Meanwhile, Army's Srinagar-based spokesperson, Col. Rajesh Kalia too confirmed the incident.

"No security personnel or civilian was injured in the operation," Kalia said, adding that the operation was carried out with caution to ensure that there is no collateral damage.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/two-terrorists-killed-in-encounter-in-jks-budgam-district/articleshow/58316373.cms

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Time to dismantle terror safe havens: India on Afghan attack

PTI | Updated: Apr 22, 2017, 03.12 PM IST

India called the attack a stark reminder of the need to immediately dismantle safe havens sustaining terrorism.

The MEA said that India remains steadfast in its support to Afghanistan in fighting all forms of terrorism.

NEW DELHI: India on Friday strongly condemned the terror attack on an army base in northern Afghanistan, saying it is a stark reminder of the need to immediately dismantle safe havens sustaining terrorism from outside that country's borders.

The external affairs ministry, in a statement, said India remained steadfast in its support to Afghanistan in fighting all forms of terrorism.

More than 100 Afghan soldiers were killed and wounded in a coordinated Taliban attack on the army base near the Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Friday.

"The terrorist attack is a stark reminder of the need to immediately dismantle the safe havens and sanctuaries that support and sustain terrorism in Afghanistan from outside its borders," the MEA said, in an apparent reference to the terror infrastructure in Pakistan.

It said the government and the people of India extend their deepest condolences and stand with the government and people of Afghanistan at this difficult moment.

"India remains steadfast in its support to Afghanistan in fighting all forms of terrorism and bringing perpetrators of terrorist violence to justice, wherever they maybe," the statement said.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/time-to-dismantle-terror-safe-havens-india-on-afghan-attack/articleshow/58313534.cms

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After courting controversy on the issue, Sonu Nigam now posts recording of an 'azaan' on Twitter

Shailaja Neelakantan | TIMESOFINDIA.COM | Updated: Apr 23, 2017, 11.09 AM IST

NEW DELHI: It appears singer Sonu Nigam absolutely loves to court controversy, or to be in the spotlight, or both.

Early in the morning today, he posted on Twitter a recording of an 'azaan', the morning prayer of Muslims, which like devotional songs of other religions in India is often played over multiple microphones. This one, too, was broadcast.

Nigam doesn't say in his tweet where he recorded this particular 'azaan' from and on what day. All he says is "Good morning India."

 Follow

 Sonu Nigam ? @sonunigam

Goodmorning India

5:48 AM - 23 Apr 2017

  2,814 2,814 Retweets   6,217 6,217 likes

Last week, the singer posted several tweets+ talking unfavourably about, in general, religion-related material being broadcast over microphones and "forced religiousness." There was a huge uproar with many saying he was insulting religion or Muslims or both, and many talking about his hypocrisy as he, too, has performed devotional songs, on microphones, at all-night Hindu religious events.

Read this story in ???????

Here's one from his Facebook page. He doesn't say here whether he sang all night, but 'Mata ki Chowki' is usually an all-night affair and usually over microphones.

 Follow

 Sonu Nigam ? @sonunigam

God bless everyone. I'm not a Muslim and I have to be woken up by the Azaan in the morning. When will this forced religiousness end in India

5:25 AM - 17 Apr 2017

  23,953 23,953 Retweets   51,903 51,903 likes

 Follow

 Sonu Nigam ? @sonunigam

And by the way Mohammed did not have electricity when he made Islam.. Why do I have to have this cacophony after Edison?

5:31 AM - 17 Apr 2017

  14,274 14,274 Retweets   34,857 34,857 likes

 Follow

 Sonu Nigam ? @sonunigam

I don't believe in any temple or gurudwara using electricity To wake up people who don't follow the religion . Why then..? Honest? True?

5:36 AM - 17 Apr 2017

  12,029 12,029 Retweets   32,204 32,204 likes

And a last tweet saying this kind of "loudness" was "plain thuggery."

 Follow

 Sonu Nigam ? @sonunigam

Gundagardi hai bus...

5:49 AM - 17 Apr 2017

  6,948 6,948 Retweets   22,440 22,440 likes

A lot of water has flown under the bridge, as it were, since then. He's has had a 'fatwa' issued against him, he's clipped his hair+ in response, he's stood by his tweets, endured trolling and given it back to trolls.

After today's tweet, be prepared for a 'rinse, repeat' of the above.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/hindi/bollywood/news/after-courting-controversy-on-the-issue-sonu-nigam-now-posts-recording-of-an-azaan-on-twitter/articleshow/58323396.cms

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Pakistan

'Pak sheltering Qaida's al-Zawahari whose last wish is big attack on US', says Newsweek

Shailaja Neelakantan | TIMESOFINDIA.COM | Updated: Apr 22, 2017, 04.37 PM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

A former top Pakistani official is a “100 percent” sure that Osama bin Laden’s son, Hamza, is also being sheltered by ISI

Several experts say that till today, Al-Qaida remains a potent force

Al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahri (Via AFP)'Pak sheltering Qaida's al-Zawahari whose last wish is big attack on US', says Newsweek

NEW DELHI: Al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri is being sheltered by Pakistan's ISI, possibly in Karachi, and the Islamic terrorist's "desperate last wish" is a last, big, blowout attack on the US "before folding his eyes", multiple sources told Newsweek.

As for Hamza bin Laden, al-Zawahiri's dead protege's son, he, too, is in Pakistan, also being sheltered by the ISI, a former top Pakistani official said to Newsweek.

The Pakistani intelligence agency been protecting al-Zawahiri since US forces evicted Al-Qaida from Afghanistan in late 2001, according to several sources that Newsweek terms "authoritative". And the US was likely in the know about his whereabouts, because last year in January, the Barack Obama administration went after him with a drone and almost got him.

"The drone hit next to the room where Dr. Zawahiri was staying," a "senior" militant from region told Newsweek. "The shared wall collapsed, and debris from the explosion showered on him and broke his glasses, but luckily he was safe," the militant added.

In fact, al-Zawahiri, has survived "several" drone attacks since 2001, an Afghan Taliban leader told Newsweek. He added that the Al-Qaida leader was "no longer welcome" in areas controlled by his group because it's engaged in peace negotiations with the Afghan government and doesn't want to be seen as "a threat to world peace."

That's why the ISI - which the Afghan Taliban refers to as "the black leg" - moved al-Zawahiri to Karachi. The Pakistani port city "makes sense" as a sanctuary, the former Pakistani official told Newsweek. That's because the city has widespread sympathies for militant Islam, has congested 19th-century streets and a large Pakistani military presence.

In fact, it's the same official who said he is a "100 percent" sure that bin Laden's 26-year-old son, Hamza, a rising "star", is also in the country under ISI protection.

Several experts say that till today, Al-Qaida remains a potent force with the ability to attack the US again and that the Donald Trump administration recognizes that.

In fact, Bruce Riedel, a 30-year CIA veteran, points to a 2014 plot by Al-Qaeda to place sympathizers on a Pakistani frigate, hijack it and use it to "attack American naval ships in the Indian Ocean, or maybe Indian ships, or maybe both."

As Riedel told Newsweek: Imagine if a Pakistani frigate packed with explosives—or a nuclear device—"sank an American aircraft carrier".

"That would change world history".

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pak-sheltering-qaidas-al-zawahari-whose-last-wish-is-big-attack-on-us-says-newsweek/articleshow/58313982.cms

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Pak man eats leaves for 25 years, never falls ill

PTI | Updated: Apr 23, 2017

Image Courtesy: Caters News AgencyImage Courtesy: Caters News Agency

LAHORE: A man in Pakistan's Punjab province has been surviving on fresh leaves and wood for the last 25 years and has never fallen ill.

Mehmood Butt, 50, who hails from Gujranwala district in Punjab province, started eating on leaves at the age of 25 as he had no work and could not afford a basic meal.

"There was too much poverty in my family. Everything was beyond limit and it was very difficult for me to get a meal, so I thought it is better to eat wood rather than begging on a street," Butt said.

"Eating wood and leaves has become my habit now," Butt was quoted as saying by 'The News International'.

Years later, as he took up work and could afford meals, he found himself strangely keen on maintaining his unique eating practice, the report said.

Butt, who earns Rs 600 a day by transporting things from one place to another on his donkey cart, has never fallen ill and is always looking to consume fresh wood and leaves.

He said wood from Banyan, Tali and Suck Chain trees were his favourites.

"He has never visited a doctor or any hospital. We are shocked how can a person not fall ill despite eating wood all these years," his neighbour Ghulam Mohammad said.

"He will stop his cart on the roadside anytime and will eat fresh tree branches," Mohammad said.

Butt is popular in his area for his eating habits as people see him munching leaves but never taking ill, the report said.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pak-man-eats-leaves-for-25-years-never-falls-ill/articleshow/58323956.cms

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University employee arrested in Mashal lynching case

 

Police on Sunday arrested an employee of Abdul Wali Khan University in connection with the lynching of Mashal Khan, a 23-year-old student who was attacked by a vigilante mob in Mardan after being accused of blasphemy earlier this month, police officials said.

Bilal Baksh, a security in charge at the university, is the main accused in Khan's murder, police officials said.

The latest arrest has increased the total number of suspects arrested in connection with the tragic incident to 35, police added.

A day earlier, a suspect, produced along with four others in the court of the judicial magistrate, confessed to his involvement in lynching Mashal.

Ashraf Ali recorded his statement before first class judicial magistrate Muhib-ur-Rehman, increasing the number of suspects who have done so to three.

The other three suspects presented before the judicial magistrate were remanded into police custody for four days.

Mashal, a Mass Communication student at the university was attacked and killed by a mob on April 15 for allegedly ‘publishing blasphemous content online.’

The incident occurred on the university premises. The campus was shut down following the incident until further notice and its hostels vacated to avoid a further escalation of violence.

Following the incident, Khyber Pakhtun­khwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak told the KP assembly that no evidence had been found to suggest Mashal had committed blasphemy.

dawn.com/news/1328747/university-employee-arrested-in-mashal-lynching-case

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‘Terror suspect facing extradition is not a Pakistani citizen’

April 23rd, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Interior has informed the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on a petition filed against the imminent extradition of a US citizen on the charges of planning terrorist attacks in New York City that the suspect is not a Pakistani national and hence cannot claim fundamental rights as guaranteed in the Constitution.

In a report submitted to the IHC, the ministry said Talha Haroon “is not a citizen of Pakistan, therefore, no fundamental rights can be accrued under the constitution of Pakistan.”

In the petition, Mr Haroon’s father said his son was innocent and had the fundamental right to the freedom of life guaranteed to him under Article 9 read with Article 14 of the Constitution of Pakistan.

Interior ministry informs IHC that Talha Haroon cannot claim fundamental rights as guaranteed in Constitution

The suspect is currently confined in Adiala Jail since September 2016. Additional Deputy Commissioner Abdul Sattar Essani on Jan 15 recommended to the federal government that the accused may be extradited to the US under section 13 of the Extradition Act 1972.

While the district administration of Islamabad on the request of the US authorities had completed the extradition process, the IHC on March 27 stayed the process with a direction to the federal government to submit a reply.

According to the investigation carried out by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Haroon was in Pakistan in April last year and planned attacks on the New York Subway, Times Square and a concert hall.

The investigation also claimed that Mr Haroon had been associated with the outlawed Taliban in the past and later switched his allegiance to the IS.

According to the report, the government had directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to take custody of the suspect from Adiala Jail and hand him over to the US authorities under intimation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The FIA took custody of the suspect on March 24 but deferred his extradition in compliance of the IHC orders.

Citing an inquiry conducted by the additional deputy commissioner, the report said, “sufficient incriminating documentary evidence is available on the record and it is safely concluded that prima facie a case is made out against the accused.”

The report recommended that “the accused may be extradited to the US in view of prima facie case against him as per the requirement of section 10 of the Extradition Act 1972.”

The Islamabad administration in its comments filed with the IHC defended its inquiry which recommended the extradition of the suspect.

“A discrete inquiry was conducted by the US intelligence agencies… the fugitive offender (Haroon) remained in contact with a special agent (of the FBI) and told him about the conspiracy to commit crimes in the US.”

The FBI claimed that Haroon with the IS support wanted to carry out Paris style attacks in NYC around June 2016. It said the suspects had “identified multiple potential targets to launch terrorist attacks in the New York City.”

dawn.com/news/1328661/terror-suspect-facing-extradition-is-not-a-pakistani-citizen

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Arab World

Coalition kills 21 Islamic State militants in western Anbar

Apr 23, 2017

Coalition aircraft while conducting airstrikes against IS in Iraq.

Anbar (IraqiNews.com) Twenty-one militants of Islamic State were killed as three rest houses of the group were destroyed, west of Anbar province, a military source said.

“The U.S.-led coalition jets shelled three rest houses of IS in the town of Rawa, 230 KM west of Ramadi,” the source told AlSumaria News on Sunday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source said, “21 members of IS, including leaders, were killed, while the rest houses were destroyed as a result of the shelling.”

Rawa, Anbar (google maps).

Several military operations were launched over the past few days to comb desert regions in the province, killing dozens of militants.

Last week, additional U.S. forces reportedly arrived to a military base in Anbar to take part in the security campaign against IS militants.

In March, reports indicated possible joint operations by the Iraqi and U.S. forces to clear IS-held towns of Annah, Rawa and Qaim near the borders with Syria .

Rawa is an IS stronghold that has been held by the militants along with Annah and Qaim since 2014, when the group proclaimed its self-styled ‘Islamic State’.

Islamic State is believed to be holding thousands in some western regions in Anbar to use them as human shields against any future security offensive.

Fighter jets from the Iraqi army and the international coalition have also regularly pounded IS locations in the province.

iraqinews.com/iraq-war/coalition-kills-21-militants-western-anbar/

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ISIS ‘essentially moved’ its Syria HQ from Raqqa to Deir ez-Zor province – report

23 Apr, 2017 01:34

In a move that may affect the protracted Raqqa offensive, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists have “essentially moved” their so-called capital in Syria to the eastern province of Deir ez-Zor, Fox News reported, citing unnamed US defense officials.

The jihadists and their military command are now centered some 140 kilometers southeast of the city of Raqqa, the US media report claimed.

Saying that the move came in the wake of increased pressure from the US-backed Syrian fighters, the report claimed that the IS “government” is no longer in Raqqa.

In late March, the US coalition told media outlet Newsweek that up to 3,500 IS fighters were estimated to have been present in Raqqa, long described as the terrorist group’s “capital” or stronghold in Syria. The city with the population of some 300,000 people was captured by the terrorists in 2013.

But hundreds of IS “bureaucrats” left the terrorist stronghold in the past two months for the IS-held city of Mayadin, officials told Fox News, adding that the move has been watched by US military drones. Mayadin is located some 40 kilometers from the surrounded city of Deir ez-Zor, which has been the sole government-controlled area of the province resisting repeated IS offensives.

In mid-April, following a US missile strike at the Syrian Army airbase of Shayrat, the coalition reportedly scaled down their operation in the region, having carried out some 120 airstrikes around Raqqa. More than 7,800 strikes were conducted in March, according to the Pentagon.

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'Optimism far from reality': Moscow dismisses West's ‘rosy forecasts’ on Raqqa offensive on.rt.com/86zy

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Washington has been backing the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a multi-ethnic, but predominantly Kurdish alliance of forces in an offensive known as Operation Euphrates Rage. Launched in November last year, the operation aimed to encircle and retake Raqqa.

If indeed accurate, the situation will likely affect the course of the siege of Raqqa, which has been dragging for months without any time limits for a major battle announced. With the jihadi fighters leaving the city in northern Syria, the battle for Raqqa is now “imminent,” the US defense officials, cited by Fox News, claim.

rt.com/news/385731-isis-moves-out-raqqa-deir-ezzor/

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Continuous clashes and shelling in the outskirts of Halfaya and Tayyibat al-Imam

22/04/2017

Hama province- the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights:

The violent clashes continue between the regime forces and militiamen loyal to them of Syrian and non-Syrian nationalities against the rebel and Islamic factions in areas in the northern countryside of Hama, while the regime forces continue their attempts to advance and restore Halfaya town, and the clashes take place in areas in the outskirts of both Halfaya and Tayyibat al-Imam towns, in conjunctions with continuous shelling by regime forces on the clash areas and on other areas in the northern countryside of Hama, coincide with raids by warplanes.

syriahr.com/en/?p=65261

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More Civilians Killed, Wounded in US-Led Coalition Airstrikes in Northeastern Syria

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- A number of civilians, including several children, were killed and wounded in the US-led coalition air raid in Western Raqqa.

The warplanes pounded a residential neighborhood in al-Tabaqa city, killing eight civilians, including five children.

Also, several civilians were injured in the attack. 

Relevant reports said on Wednesday that over 10 civilians were killed and wounded in the US-led collation air raids in two different regions in Raqqa province.

The US-led coalition warplanes bombed the town of Ma'adan in the Eastern countryside of Raqqa city, killing five civilians and wounding three others.

In the meantime, the fighter jets targeted al-Monqiyeh neighborhood in al-Tabaqa city in Western Raqqa, killing two civilians and wounding several others.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960203001266

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Dissident Leader: Turkey Directly Involved in Khan Sheikhoun Chemical Attack

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- A Turkish dissident leader revealed that the pharmaceutical companies affiliated to Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government have provided the terrorists in Syria with Sarin gas, reiterating that Ankara has been directly involved in Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack.

Sarhab Golhan, the leader of Moon and Star party, was quoted by SANA news agency as saying that Erdogan is directly involved in the chemical attack and he is "the ISIL's current leader".

"If investigations are carried out about Khan Sheikhoun incident, it will certainly reveal that Erdogan is behind it and all massacres happening in our region; the Justice and Development government opened the borders to the terrorists' easy traffic and equipped them with weapons," he added.

Golhan said that certain pharmaceutical companies close to the Justice and Development government have supplied the terrorists with Sarin gas to be used against the civilians and raise allegations against the Syrian government to provoke the international community.

Meantime, head of Turkey's Socialist Workers Party Turgut Kocak said that the same side that had provided the terrorists in Aleppo with chemical weapons supplied their comrades in Khan Sheikhoun with the same kind of weapons "and therefore, they were sent by Turkey to the Syrian city".

"We know that 90% of weapons in terrorists' hands have been sent from Turkey and we think that the terrorist groups in Idlib which are led by the Turkish intelligence agencies are the culprits behind the Khan Sheikhoun incident," he added.

In relevant remarks on Saturday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Damascus is 100% certain that terrorists get chemical weapons directly from Turkey.

"Directly from Turkey, and there was evidence regarding this, some of [it has] been shown on the internet a few years ago. You had many parties and parliament members in Turkey who questioned the government regarding those allegations. So, it's not something hidden," Assad told Sputnik.

He further maintained that financial, armament and logistic support for terrorists in Syria, including recruitment, is provided through Turkey.

"They don't have any other way to come from the North. So, it's a hundred percent Turkey," Assad underlined.

On April 4, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces claimed that 80 people were killed and 200 injured in a suspected chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, putting the blame on the Syrian government. Damascus vehemently rejected the accusations and said militants and their allies were responsible.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Syrian Air Force hit a warehouse where militants stored chemical weapons, which were sent to Iraq. The Russian Foreign Ministry reminded that the Syrian government doesn't possess chemical weapons since mid-2014. Chemical weapons have been taken out of the country with the US help.

In response to the Khan Sheikhoun incident the United States launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian military airfield in Shayrat in Homs province.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960203000803

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Terrorists to Use US-Made Missiles to Slow Down Syrian Army Advances in Western Aleppo

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Websites affiliated to the terrorist groups disclosed that Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board) has dispatched a large number of US-made anti-tank TOW missiles to assist their comrades to slow down the devastating advances of the Syrian Army troops in Western Aleppo.

The websites revealed that the terrorist groups are getting ready to confront the army soldiers and their allied forces, adding that Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at has sent a large number of US-made TOW missiles to the battlefields in Western Aleppo to help their comrades to resist against the army attacks.

Reports said that terrorist groups used TOW missiles against the army in Eastern Aleppo in 2016, but the low quantity of the missiles was the reason behind the militants' defeats.

Based on the reports, terrorist groups have once again received a large number of TOW missiles via their Saudi and Turkish backers and are receving Washington's assistance to use them in the battles in Western Aleppo.

In March, images released by the newly-formed Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at showed that state-of-the-art anti-tank TOW missiles were used by terrorists in the war against the Syrian Army in Western Aleppo.

Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at released several images of continued missile attacks of Al-Nusra Front (recently renamed to Fatah al-Sham Front) on Syrian army positions in Western Aleppo, proving that the Al-Nusra that was the backbone of Tahrir al-Sham Haya'at had been targeting government force's position by US-made anti-tank TOW missiles.

Experts studying the military operations in terrorist-held regions said Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at likely gained access to the TOW missiles after the Al-Nusra seized control over the arms depots of rival terrorists of Jeish al-Mojahedin in Western Aleppo.

Other experts meantime believe that the TOW missiles were part of the ammunition under the control of Nouralddeen al-Zinki Movement that joined Tahrir al-Sham Hay'ayt.

Al-Zinki Movement had previously been using TOW missiles in its operations. 

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960203000784

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Al-Nusra Continues Vast Withdrawal of Forces from Hama under Syrian Army Heavy Attacks

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army troops continued their offensives on the positions of Al-Nusra Front (also known as Fatah al-Sham Front or the Levant Liberation Board) near the newly-freed town of Taybat al-Imam and won back more positions in Northern Hama.

The army soldiers engaged in fierce clashes with Al-Nusra n several regions in Northern Hama and managed to retake control of Tal (Hill) al-Oqab, al-Salman checkpost and its surrounding farms and Syriatel checkpost.

A military source reported that the army has reached the gates of the village of Albboyzeh after its recent advances against the terrorists in Northern Hama.

More reports said that the army shelled heavily Al-Nusra's position to pave the ground for a final attack on the town of Halfaya that is the largest base of the terrorists.

In the meantime, Ahrar al-Sham confirmed that one of the terrorist group's commanders, nom de guerre Shahoud Abu Ali, was killed in Taybat al-Imam.

Relevant reports said on Saturday that the army soldiers engaged in a fresh round of clashes with Al-Nusra North of Taybat al-Imam and captured Tal (hill) al-Mantar and al-Madajen checkpost.

In the meantime, the Syrian Air Forces carried out several combat flights over terrorists' positions in the towns of Halfaya, al-Zalaqiyat and al-Zawar in Northern Hama, killing a number of terrorists. 

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960203000387

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Non-Syrian ISIL Terrorists Killed in Syrian Army's Fresh Advances in Deir Ezzur

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army troops continued to beat back ISIL terrorists from more positions in the Southern outskirts of Deir Ezzur city, killing a number of militants, including a French fighter.

The army soldiers clashed fiercely with ISIL in areas surrounding Deir Ezzur's military airport and managed to recapture several positions, arresting a terrorist and seizing the bodies of four more killed terrorists including a French one.

In the meantime, the army's artillery and missile units hit hard ISIL's movements in the Old Airport neighborhood, killing 15 terrorists and destroying a 150-meter long tunnel of the terrorists used by the ISIL for transferring forces and as an arms and ammunition depot. 

Also, the army troops repelled ISIL's offensive on their positions in the Southern outskirts of Deir Ezzur city on Saturday, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.

The army soldiers engaged in fierce clashes with ISIL in al-Maqaber (cemetery) region, and managed to fend off the terrorist group's attack, killing five militants and wounding several more.

ISIL's military hardware and weapons also sustained major damage in the failed attack.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960203000478

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Alleged Israeli Strike Killed 3 Syrian Defense Forces Fighters in Golans © AP Photo/ Ariel Schalit

23.04.2017

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) allegedly have struck the military base of the Damascus-backed National Defense Forces (NDF) in the Golan Heights, killing three Syrian fighters as a result, local media reported Sunday, citing an NDF official.

A picture taken from the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights shows smoke rising from the Syrian Druze village of Hader, on June 16, 2015

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The NDF base was attacked on Sunday in the Naba al-Fawwar area of the Syrian Quneitra province in the Golan Heights, the Times of Israel newspaper reported.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group confirmed the attack, according to the newspaper.

On Friday, the Israeli combat planes delivered a missile strike on Syrian army positions in the Khan-Arnab area in Quneitra province causing material damage, a Syrian military source told Sputnik. The IDF said that a total of three rockets launched from the Syrian territory fell on the Israeli-controlled part of the Golan Heights, causing no injuries.

Israel occupied the Golan Heights in the 1967 Six-Day War with Syria and annexed the territory in 1981. The international community has not recognized the Israeli annexation.

sputniknews.com/middleeast/201704231052901645-golan-strike-forces-death/

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Iraqi policeman killed in Islamic State attack

April 23 2017

Federal police gather before moving to the frontline near the old city during fighting against IS militants on the western side of Mosul (Felipe Dana/AP)

Islamic State (IS) militants have attacked an Iraqi police base in a town that is being used as a staging ground for the Mosul offensive, killing at least one policeman.

Police spokesman Captain Mahmoud Attia told the Associated Press that a sleeper cell of three IS fighters attacked the base on Sunday in Hamam al-Alil, some 20 miles south of Mosul.

Local television channel Rudaw, whose reporters were inside the base, said at least two suicide attackers entered the facility before detonating their devices.

belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/iraqi-policeman-killed-in-islamic-state-attack-35646094.html

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Saudi king's air force pilot son named US envoy

AFP | Updated: Apr 23, 2017

Prince Khaled bin Salman bin Abdulaziz has been appointed ambassador to US

The US and Saudi Arabia have a decades-old relationship based on the exchange of American security for Saudi oil.

The Saudis have found a more favourable ear in Washington under Trump

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (AFP Photo)Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (AFP Photo)

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Saturday named an air force pilot son of King Salman as ambassador to its major ally Washington, with which ties are improving under President Donald Trump.

The change came among a series of orders issued by the king, who shuffled his cabinet, restored civil service benefits, and replaced the head of the army which for two years has been fighting rebels in neighbouring Yemen.

"Prince Abdullah bin Faisal bin Turki removed as ambassador to the US. Prince Khaled bin Salman bin Abdulaziz appointed ambassador," the official Saudi Press Agency reported, citing a royal order.

Prince Abdullah had served for just over a year, according to the website of the Saudi embassy in Washington.

The United States and Saudi Arabia have a decades-old relationship based on the exchange of American security for Saudi oil.

But ties between Riyadh and Washington became increasingly frayed during the administration of president Barack Obama.

Saudi leaders felt Obama was reluctant to get involved in the civil war in Syria and was tilting toward Riyadh's regional rival Iran.

The Saudis have found a more favourable ear in Washington under Trump, who took office in January and has denounced Iran's "harmful influence" in the Middle East.

Washington provides some logistical and intelligence support, as well as weapons, for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

The kingdom also belongs to the US-led coalition against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

Prince Khaled, the new ambassador, is an air force pilot who flew missions as part of that anti-IS coalition, said Salman al-Ansari, president of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC).

Ansari, whose committee is a private initiative to strengthen Saudi-US ties, described Prince Khaled as a "very organised personality, savvy, youthful, and active."

Another son of King Salman, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 31, is second in line to the throne and is one of the kingdom's most powerful figures.

He holds the post of defence minister and is pushing a wide-ranging social and economic reform programme.

Among other orders issued by King Salman, the head of the army Lieutenant General Eid al-Shalwi was removed. Fahad Bin Turki was promoted to replace him.

The army is helping to defend Saudi Arabia's southern border from rebel incursions but analysts say that, in Yemen itself, coalition troops from the United Arab Emirates have the most prominence in ground operations being conducted with local forces.

Saudi Arabia leads the air campaign but after two years of coalition intervention analysts say Yemen is more unstable than ever, and one called it a "quagmire".

Saudi military personnel in the Yemen operation will receive a salary bonus of two months, the king also ordered, despite a budget deficit forecast to be $53 billion this year following a collapse in global oil prices since 2014.

The salaries of other civil servants were frozen last year and benefits curbed, while the government cut subsidies and delayed major projects.

Salman on Saturday ended the restrictions on compensation for state workers because he is "keen to provide comfort to the Saudi citizens," a decree said, as the kingdom prepares to increase electricity and other prices.

Salman fired Minister of Civil Service Khaled al-Araj, who will be investigated by a committee of the Royal Court.

The Arab News reported late last year that Araj was under investigation by the kingdom's anti-corruption commission for the alleged "irregular hiring" of his son.

In other changes, Salman dismissed Minister of Information and Culture Adel al-Turaifi and replaced him with Awad al-Awad.

Minister of Communication and Information Technology Mohammed al-Suwaiyel also lost his job, replaced by Abdullah al-Swaha.

The king changed some regional governors, along with numerous senior bureaucrats including the head of the General Authority of Sports as the kingdom tries to provide more athletic activities for its people.

Under the reforms being directed by the Deputy Crown Prince, Saudi Arabia is trying to make government operations more efficient and officials more accountable.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/saudi-kings-air-force-pilot-son-named-us-envoy/articleshow/58326751.cms

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Syrian Army Smashes Terrorist Centers, Wins back More Territories in Hama

 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army troops continued their offensives on terrorists' defense lines in Northern Hama on Sunday and managed to capture more villages and hills, inflicting major losses on the militants.

The army soldiers continues clashes with terrorists and drove them out of the village of Zalin, Batish and Zour Abu Zeid and Naseriyeh hill.

A military source in the province said that hundreds of terrorist have been killed and hundreds more have been wounded in the attack.

The source added that 38 vehicles, three munitions depots, three tanks and a bomb-laden vehicle of the terrorists were destroyed in the attack, adding that the army men also seized seven mortar launchers, two machinegun-equipped vehicles and a large volume of ammunition.  

Relevant reports said earlier today that the army soldiers engaged in fierce clashes with Al-Nusra n several regions in Northern Hama and managed to retake control of Tal (Hill) al-Oqab, al-Salman checkpost and its surrounding farms and Syriatel checkpost.

A military source reported that the army has reached the gates of the village of Albboyzeh after its recent advances against the terrorists in Northern Hama.

More reports said that the army shelled heavily Al-Nusra's position to pave the ground for a final attack on the town of Halfaya that is the largest base of the terrorists.

In the meantime, Ahrar al-Sham confirmed that one of the terrorist group's commanders, nom de guerre Shahoud Abu Ali, was killed in Taybat al-Imam.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960203001032

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South Asia

A shortage of coffins’ After Taliban slaughter unarmed soldiers'

Apr 23, 2017

At least 140 soldiers were killed in a Taliban attack at a military base in Balkh province

The Afghan government declared Sunday as a national mourning day to pay homage to them

‘A shortage of coffins’ After Taliban slaughter unarmed soldiers'

KABUL: They looked like Afghan Army soldiers returning from the front lines, carrying the bodies of wounded comrades as part of the ruse.

Dressed in military uniforms, a squad of 10 Taliban militants drove in two army Ford Ranger trucks past seven checkpoints. They arrived inside northern Afghanistan's largest military installation just as hundreds, perhaps thousands, of unarmed soldiers were emerging from Friday Prayers and preparing for lunch.

For the next five hours, the militants went on a rampage, killing at least 140 soldiers and officers in what is emerging as the single deadliest known attack on an Afghan military base in the country's 16-year war. Some assailants blew themselves up among the soldiers fleeing for their lives, according to survivors, witnesses and officials.

"Today, there was even a shortage of coffins," said Ibrahim Khairandish, a member of the provincial council in Balkh Province, where the attack took place. Other officials feared that the death toll could exceed 200.

The attack punctuated the dismal outlook for Afghanistan, where much of the population of 34 million has known only war.

Over the last two years, Taliban fighters have gained more territory in the countryside and now threaten several cities. Afghanistan's forces, suffering enormous casualties and grappling with a leadership marred by indecision and corruption, have struggled to put up a defense.

More than 6,700 members of the Afghan security forces lost their lives in 2016, a record high that is nearly three times the total American casualties for the war.

In a new sign of how badly the Afghan military is faltering, the commander of the NATO coalition forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John W. Nicholson, has requested a few thousand additional American soldiers to assist in training Afghan recruits..

"The enemy has the strength, they have more people in their units now, and the speed of action," said Rahmatullah Nabil, the former head of the Afghan intelligence service. "Unfortunately, we have slowed down our decision-making."

He said mistrust between the soldiers and their commanders had made many more vulnerable to Taliban infiltration and recruitment.

Especially remarkable about the Friday attack was its location: The assailants struck on the outskirts of Mazar-i-Sharif, long one of the safer cities in Afghanistan. Now it has been infected by fears of more mayhem as Taliban strength grows in surrounding provinces.

How such a small number of assailants could inflict such staggering carnage, and in such a highly secure area, only compounded the trauma and anxiety over what could come.

"In a time when, in a lot of places, we are caught in war of attrition, this will certainly have an impact on the morale and the will of the soldiers to fight," Mr. Nabil said.

Even the most guarded places in Afghanistan are not safe. In January, explosives placed in couches inside the Kandahar governor's office, past five layers of security, almost decimated the province's leadership and a visiting Arab delegation. In March, militants entered the Afghan Army's main hospital in Kabul, the capital, and killed more than 50 people in a siege that lasted nearly seven hours and was claimed by the Islamic State.

Those attacks, like the one on Friday, were made possible by insider help, security officials say.

While the Islamic State has been getting attention in recent days because of the American military's use of its largest conventional bomb against a cave complex used by the group in eastern Afghanistan, the Taliban remain the biggest security threat to the country.

The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the army base attack, releasing the names and a picture of 10 men dressed in military uniforms, replete with hard helmets and kneepads, who it said had taken part.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said the assailants had been led by four soldiers in the base, home to the 209th Army Corps, who had long been working as militant infiltrators.

Details were still emerging on Saturday, but several officials said the death toll was frighteningly high. Mr. Khairandish of the Balkh provincial council said 140 were killed. One Balkh official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media, said it was likely that around 200 soldiers had been killed. A Western military official in Kabul, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity because of a policy against commenting on Afghan security forces' casualty figures, put the death toll at more than 100.

Gen. Dawlat Waziri, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense, said on Saturday that "more than a hundred soldiers were killed and wounded" in the attack, but he declined to discuss precise numbers.

President Ashraf Ghani toured the army base during a visit to Balkh and declared a national day of mourning.

Atta Muhammad Noor, the provincial governor, said the president had ordered an investigation to find the insiders who abetted the massacre.

"I assure our countrymen that we will avenge the blood of their children," Mr. Noor said.

The 209th Army Corps base is one of the largest in the country, responsible for security in nine of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.

Zabihullah Mohammedi, a soldier from eastern Nangarhar Province who has served in the 209th Corps for four years, said 3,000 to 4,000 people had attended the communal Friday Prayer at the base's mosque. As they exited, they heard gunshots from the direction of the security checkpoints.

"We were trying to figure out what it was when we saw a Ranger vehicle coming at a very fast speed from the direction of the checkpoint," he said in an interview. "There were four people in this Ranger — two in the front, two in the back. They started firing."

Mr. Mohammedi said two of the attackers blew themselves up among the crowd, who were in civilian clothes and unarmed, while the other assailants went on a shooting spree. He sustained a shrapnel wound in the stomach and a bullet wound in the arm.

It took commando forces who arrived at the scene about five hours to kill the remaining assailants and end the siege.

"If there is a gathering of birds, and you shoot with a scattergun, how many will fall?" Mr. Mohammedi said. "The two explosions alone, God forgive me if I am wrong, probably killed 80 people."

As Mr. Ghani met with his security officials at the army base, dozens of relatives of soldiers waited outside to receive news, or the coffins.

Among the dead was Qari Ahmad Khan, 22, who joined the army after completing his studies at an Islamic school, where he had specialized in memorizing the Quran, said his brother, Mohamed Khan, 43. Mr. Khan said he had waited for hours near the base before army officials released his brother's body.

"The army corps was not allowing anyone in, not even 100 meters close to the base," Mr. Khan said. "Tens of people were waiting there, crying and wailing. Some were searching for the bodies of their martyrs. Others didn't know whether the person they were waiting for was dead or wounded."

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/a-shortage-of-coffins-after-taliban-slaughter-unarmed-soldiers/articleshow/58327640.cms

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Karzai says can no longer call Taliban brothers after army base attack

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Apr 23 2017

The former Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he can no longer call the Taliban militants as brothers after the barbaric attack on the Shaheen army corps in Balkh province.

Speaking during a press conference in Kabul, Karzai called on Taliban to stop committing atrocities against the Afghan nation.

He said each move and each bullet fired by the Taliban insurgents serve the interests of the outsiders who are pursuing their specific goals and interests in the instability of the country.

The former President also warned that the specific circles are working in the country to spark ethnic tensions among the Afghan people as he insisted that the Afghan people should get closer than any other time to maintain unity.

Karzai once again raised his voice against the use of the Mother of All Bombs in Achin district of Nangarhar and said he has taken his votes back which he had casted for the government of national unity, protesting against the government for allowing the use of the massive bomb.

However, Karzai said he attended the funeral ceremony in ARG Palace to show solidarity with the Afghan nation and pay respect to the victims of the base attack in Balkh.

The Afghan government declared a nationwide national day of mourning after the attack on Shaheen corps base in Balkh.

According to reports, more than 100 people lost their lives in the attack although the exact number has not been confirmed by the government so far.

khaama.com/karzai-says-can-no-longer-call-taliban-brothers-after-army-base-attack-02631

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Afghan govt to honor martyred soldiers from base attack with promotion

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Apr 23 2017

The Afghan government has decided to honor the fallen soldiers of the 209th Shaheen Corps with promotions after they lost their lives in an attack on Friday.

Presidential spokesman Shah Hussain Murtazawi told reporters in Kabul that the attack on Shaheen Corps will also be thoroughly investigated.

Murtazawi further added that the government is committed to provide first class treatment to those soldiers who sustained injuries in the attack.

He also added that the government and Afghan forces resolve in the fight against terrorism is at an all time high and since the barbaric attack on the army base, emphasizing that the Afghan forces will step up operations against the insurgents and will further increase night operations to hunt the insurgents.

According to Murtazawi, President Ghani has called on the nation to unite against the terrorists.

He said the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces moral is high in the fight against terrorism despite challenges remain on their way.

The attack on Shaheen Corps was carried out on Friday noon after a group of at least ten heavily armed insurgents stormed into the base, launching suicide attack and indiscriminate firing.

According to the security officials, the attack was launched as hundreds of the army personnel had attended the Friday prayers and were all unarmed.

The exact number of casualties has not been confirmed by the government so far but reports indicate more than 100 people lost their lives in the attack.

khaama.com/afghan-govt-to-honor-martyred-soldiers-from-base-attack-with-promotion-02630

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Al-Qaeda members among 10 killed in South of Afghanistan airstrikes

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Apr 23 2017

At least ten militants including members of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network were killed in a series of airstrikes in southern Zabul province of Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said the airstrikes were carried out in the past 24 hours in Shahjoi district.

A statement by MoD said five Al-Qaeda members and five Taliban insurgents including a local commander of the group identified as Mullah Noor Agha were among those killed.

The statement further added that a vehicle and five motorcycles belonging to the insurgents were also eliminated during the airstrikes.

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

Zabul is among the relatively volatile provinces in southern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgents and other militants including ISIS loyalists are actively operating.

This comes as key leader of the loyalists of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group was killed during an operation of the Afghan Special Forces in this province last month.

The ISIS leader was identified as Gul Agha, originally a resident of eastern Nangarhar province who was actively involved in insurgency activities in Zabul province.

khaama.com/al-qaeda-members-among-10-killed-in-south-of-afghanistan-airstrikes-02629

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Twitter suspends Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid’s account

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Apr 23 2017

The twitter account of the Taliban group spokesman Zabiullah has been suspended as the group widely used the online news and social networking service to spread its propaganda.

Mujahid’s account was apparently closed earlier today and days after the group launched a coordinated attack on the 209th Shaheen Corps in northern Afghanistan.

The Afghan government declared a national day of mourning to pay tribute to dozens of Afghan soldiers killed in a deadly attack on the main army base.

The national flag will be at half mast across the country and in the diplomatic missions of Afghanistan outside the country as President Ghani issued a decree to organize special prayers in the presidential palace and other mosques across the country for the martyrs of the attack for one day.

The Taliban militants group claimed responsibility behind the deadly attack which was carried out by a group of at least ten insurgents, including some suicide bombers.

The exact number of the casualties has not been officially announced by the government so far but latest reports indicate more than 100 soldiers lost their lives in the attack.

khaama.com/twitter-suspends-taliban-spokesman-zabiullah-mujahids-account-02628

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8 killed as airstrikes, artillery fire pound ISIS-K hideouts in East of Afghanistan

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Apr 23 2017

A series of airstrikes and artillery fire pounded the hideouts of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Khurasan (ISIS-K) hideouts in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, the security sources said Sunday.

The operations were conducted in the past 24 hours in the vicinity of Tangi Mamand area in the restive Achin district, the 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan National Army said.

The source further added that at least eight insurgents belonging to the terrorist group were eliminated during the operations and their dead bodies were left in the area.

This come as the local officials said Saturday at least 28 ISIS-K militants were killed in a series of airstrikes conducted in Haska Mina and Achin districts since Friday.

Nangarhar has been witnessing persistent counter-terrorism operations since last year and currently the Afghan forces are conducting the operations under the name of Hamza operations to eliminate the presence of ISIS-K militants from its restive districts.

The US forces based in Afghanistan also provide support to the Afghan forces occasionally and mainly carry out airstrikes against the anti-government armed militant groups.

The US military used the world’s largest bomb, GBU-43 on ISIS-K’s network of caves in Achin district nearly ten days ago which resulted into the deaths of scores of ISIS insurgents, including their senior leaders.

khaama.com/8-killed-as-airstrikes-artillery-fire-pound-isis-k-hideouts-in-east-of-afghanistan-02627

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National day of mourning as dozens of Afghan soldiers killed in base attack

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Apr 23 2017

The Afghan government has declared a national day of mourning to pay tribute to dozens of Afghan soldiers killed in a deadly attack on the main 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan National Army in North of Afghanistan.

The Office of the President, ARG Palace, said Saturday that President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani declared Sunday as the national day of mourning to pay respect to the martyrs of the attack on Shaheen Corps.

The national flag will be at half mast across the country and in the diplomatic missions of Afghanistan outside the country.

The decree also states that special prayers will be made in the presidential palace and other mosques across the country for the martyrs of the attack for one day.

The Taliban militants group claimed responsibility behind the deadly attack which was carried out by a group of at least ten insurgents, including some suicide bombers.

The exact number of the casualties has not been officially announced by the government so far but latest reports indicate more than 100 soldiers lost their lives in the attack.

The majority of the casualties is believed to been inflicted to the soldiers who were in the mosque for the Friday prayers and were unarmed when the insurgents launched the attack.

khaama.com/national-day-of-mourning-as-dozens-of-afghan-soldiers-killed-in-base-attack-02624

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Ceremony commemorates Ghazni’s fourth anniversary of center of Islamic civilization

April 23, 2017

KABUL: A ceremony was held to commemorate the fourth anniversary of declaring Ghazni as the center of Islamic civilization in 2013, here in Kabul, BNA reported.

According to the agency, the ceremony was attended by a number of officials, including acting minister of information and culture, deputy ministers of urban development and finance, members of parliament, members of provincial councils, civil society activists and dozens of Ghazni resident in that province.

At the outset, Abdul Karim Matin Ghazni governor readout the message of President Ghani, saying Ghazni once again found itself among the Islamic countries, where the province has center of emerging of many great Islamic emperors.

Calling Ghazni as the identity and matter of proud for Afghans, Prof. Mohammad Rasoul Bawari acting minister of information and culture said Ghaznavides established an emperor which was not only expanded the territory, but also played important role in expansion of education, art and culture.

“Al-beruni was greatest scholar of Ghaznavides period. Dozens of precious works remained from him that proved Ghanvidses were culture loving people, where the name of Ghazni people as the center of Islamic civilizations would remain alive for years, Prof. Bawari continued.

According to acting minister of information and culture, the ministry has restored 34 historical monuments of the province, where the others are under restoration process.

Deputy minister of urban development said the city’s master plan was prepared upon declaring of the center of Islamic civilization, adding some projects were implemented and promised to address the city’s problems and to convey their problems to central government. Calling declaration of Ghazni as the center of Islamic civilization as a great achievement for Afghanistan, Ghazni governor hoped Islamic countries work together for peace in the war-torn country. He also asked the national unity government to further pay attention to the city.

Representing the Ghazni people, Hamidullah Nawroz member of the provincial council said Ghazni was ranked among the first categories of the provinces form the second one, adding the provincial administrative offices were still in the third category.

He also asked for further cooperation of the ministries of information and culture, higher education and urban development for restoration of the historical places, increasing the universities and implementation of the master plan.

The ceremony was initiated by the provincial directorate of information and culture in coordination of the provincial governor office.

thekabultimes.gov.af/index.php/newsnational/13739-ceremony-commemorates-ghazni%E2%80%99s-fourth-anniversary-of-center-of-islamic-civilization.html

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North America

Indiana State University Professor Arrested for Allegedly Fabricating Anti-Muslim Threats

22 Apr 201719

An Indiana State University professor was arrested for allegedly fabricating anti-Muslim email threats and an assault against himself on campus.

Azhar Hussain, 56, was arrested Friday and charged with felony obstruction of justice and misdemeanor harassment, the Tribune-Star reported.

Hussain, who worked as an assistant professor of aviation technology, has been suspended from teaching duties, according to a release sent out by the university.

The school says the charges originate from a series of emails with anti-Muslim messages and threats from what they thought was an unknown sender at the time, with Hussain as a target.

The first report of these emails occurred on March 8. On March 24, Hussain reported that someone attacked him from behind and threw him to the floor.

Police say after they investigated the claim and tracked down the computer where the emails came from, they discovered evidence that pointed to Hussain as the alleged letter writer.

“Based upon the investigation, it is our belief that Hussain was trying to gain sympathy by becoming a victim of anti-Muslim threats which he had created himself,” said the chief of ISU’s police department, Joseph Newport. “It is extremely unfortunate that this situation caused undue concern on other members of the ISU community.”

Newport said numerous campus crime alerts were sent out as a result of the email and the alleged assault.

University Provost Mike Licari told Law Newz that Hussain has not only been suspended from teaching and has been told he will not be teaching at the university beyond the 2017-18 year, but the university is also seeking to formally dismiss him.

Hussain is being held in Vigo County Jail on $10,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in Vigo County Superior Court 6 on Monday.

breitbart.com/big-government/2017/04/22/indiana-state-university-professor-arrested-for-allegedly-fabricating-anti-muslim-threats/

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US lawmaker vows to defend Muslims’ rights; help Pakistan eradicate polio

April 23, 201758

NEW YORK, April 23 (APP): Pledging to uphold the rights of American-Muslims, a U.S lawmaker said Saturday that he would also help in making Pakistan a polio-free country.

Speaking at a large gathering of U.S. citizens of Pakistani origin held

at the Pakistan consulate in New York, Republican Congressman Daniel Donovan said that United States Constitution guaranteed freedom of religion, and as such there would be no ban Muslims coming into this country.

Congressman Donovan, an activist in the fight against polio, said he

would do everything possible to boost Pakistan’s efforts in wiping the disease as it affects the youth of the country.

A documentary was screened on the polio immunization campaign in

Pakistan that drew resounding applause.

He profusely thanked Pakistan Consul General Raja Ali Ejaz, the host of

the evening, for organizing the event and paid tributes to the Pakistani community for their hard work and the contribution they were making for the progress of this country.

Welcoming Congressman Donovn, Consul General Ejaz gave a brief

background of Pakistan-US relations and expressed the hope that the ties would continue to grow.

Pakistani-American community leaders—Dr. Inam-ul-Haq and Dr. Suhail

Muzaffar—spoke about their efforts to improve health and education facilities in Pakistan.

Aziz Memon, chairman of Pakistan PolioPlus Committee, who especially

flew in from London to participate in the event, said that Rotarians from over 200 countries would meet in Atlanta, Georgia, in June to discuss various topics that are expected centre on eradication of Polio.

He said that Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was invited to speak to some 20,000 Rotarians but the Pakistani leader had several engagements at home and would not be able to attend. Instead, he will send a taped message to the conference.

Hanif Channa, an officer of the consulate general, conducted the

proceedings while Shafique Siddique, a community activist, delivered the Vote of Thanks to Congressman Donovan and all those involved in organizing the event.

app.com.pk/us-lawmaker-vows-to-defend-muslims-rights-help-pakistan-eradicate-polio/

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Mideast

Turkey will halt refugee deal if EU rejects Ankara’s new visa-free travel plan – minister

23 Apr, 2017 02:21

The vexed migrant deal between Turkey and the EU to alleviate the refugee flows into Europe will be in jeopardy if Brussels fails to agree on the new visa liberalization scheme to be submitted by Ankara in May, the Turkish Minister for EU Affairs has said.

Turkey's EU Minister Omer Celik © Adem AltanTurkey should ‘reevaluate’ refugee deal with EU, says minister in wake of Netherlands row

Speaking on the deal’s status to CNN Turk on Saturday, minister Omer Celik argued that Turkey is entitled to the visa waiver by the EU since it has been fulfilling all its obligations under the once-celebrated agreement struck by the EU and Turkey at the heat of the European refugee crisis in March 2016.

He then went on to issue what appeared to be an ultimatum to Turkey’s EU partners, saying that if they want the have agreement in place, they will have to agree to the for visa-free travel proposal to be laid out by Turkey next month.

“If they accept our proposal, the [refugee] deal will be completed in a positive way, otherwise it will come to a standstill,” the minister warned, as cited by Anadolu news agency, without elaborating on what would ensue from the mooted proposal.

Highlighting Turkey’s role in stemming the European refugee flow, Celik claimed that Ankara has rescued the EU, Anadolu cited him as saying.

While the EU-Turkey deal has helped to significantly reduced the number of migrants coming into Europe via Turkey, Ankara has repeatedly threatened to walk out of it, accusing Europe of not sticking to its commitments.

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Refugee deal with Ankara may derail due to Turkey’s internal affairs – EU’s border agency Frontex on.rt.com/88cf

01:36 - 9 Apr 2017

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Pursuant to the agreement, Turkey pledged to take back rejected asylum seekers from Greece in exchange for an EU promise to speed up visa liberalization process, galvanize stalled membership talks as well as allocate $3.3 billion in refugee assistance. In addition, the EU pledged to resettle the same number of Syrian refugees that are sent back to Turkey.

To qualify for visa-free travel for Turkish citizens in the EU's Schengen Zone, there are a list of 72 conditions drawn up by the European Commission that Ankara should comply with. With only seven criteria left to be met, the main obstacle in its way remains the EU’s demand for Turkey to relax its strict anti-terrorism laws “in line with European standards,” which the Turkish government vehemently refuses to do. Following the foiled coup attempt in July 2016, Turkey launched an ever-widening crackdown on opposition, targeting supporters of exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen, branding them members of the so-called Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).

It is not the first attempt by the Turkish leadership to use the refugee deal as leverage. It was repeatedly an issue during the run-up to the recent constitutional referendum. The vote, which ended in a narrow victory for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week, has significantly expanded Erdogan’s presidential powers.

In March, Celik said that “the issue of transit from the land must be reconsidered” by Turkey. The remark closely followed Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s threat to scrap the deal, if the EU does not abide by it in full.

“Either [the March 2016 agreement] will be canceled, including the visa liberalization and migrant deal, or it will all be implemented," he told CNN. At roughly the same time, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu called out Europe for failing to deliver on its promises under the deal and meddling into its internal affairs by banning Turkish officials from campaigning in Europe, promising “to blow its mind” by sending some “15,000 refugees” monthly.

rt.com/news/385732-turkey-refugee-deal-suspend-visas/

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Arrest of man responsible for anti-Shia extremism in Mafraq met with controversy

Published April 23rd, 2017

Ahmad Oqailan Almoush is one of two men responsible for the burning posters of Shia clerics and encouraging people to ‘step on them, they’re Shi’ites, God curse them’. (twitter) Ahmad Oqailan Almoush is one of two men responsible for the burning posters of Shia clerics and encouraging people to ‘step on them, they’re Shi’ites, God curse them’. (twitter)

Since Albawaba’s coverage yesterday of anti-Shia demonstrations outside Al Mafraq Grand Mosque in Jordan, new information has emerged that one of the organisers of the incident has been arrested. Ahmad Oqailan Almoush is one of two men responsible for the burning posters of Shia clerics and encouraging people to ‘step on them, they’re Shi’ites, God curse them’, as they made their way into the Mosque to pray.

This information comes from video footage published on the Union of the Youth of the Bani Hassan Tribe facebook page, and expresses support for Ahmad Oqailan Almoush, criticising those responsible for his arrest.

The video was created and uploaded by lawyer Jihad Al husban. Although initially proposing to tackle the arrest from a legal standpoint, he spends most of the three and a half minute video criticising Shia Islam and emulates similar views of sectarian hatred to that of Ahmad Almoush. He further goes on to suggest that his arrest should be investigated as an issue of freedom of expression, claiming that all Jordanians are entitled to their rights of free speech under the constitution.

Although Al husban is correct in identifying Jordanian citizens right to freedom of expression under Article 15 of the constitution, he fails to mention that this is subject to limitations of overstepping ‘the bounds of law’. There are currently seven major limits of the freedom of speech in the law, including insulting religious sensibilities and religious figures, rendering Ahmad Almoush’s arrest well within the legal boundaries of the constitution.

albawaba.com/loop/arrest-man-responsible-anti-shia-extremism-mafraq-met-controversy-965566

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President opens World Assembly of Islamic Cities summit in Qazvin

Qazvin, April 23, IRNA – The Fifth International Summit of the World Assembly of Islamic Cities (WAIC) started work here on Sunday in the presence of President Hassan Rouhani in this northwestern Iranian province

Today's WAIC summit aims to review Sustainable Development Goals, New Urban Agenda, City Prosperity, Challenges and Opportunities in the Islamic cities.

According to UN-Habitat, City Prosperity Initiative (CPI) is a global initiative that enables city authorities, as well as local and national stakeholders, to identify opportunities and potential areas of intervention for their cities to become more prosperous.

Imam Khomeini International University is hosting the day-long WAIC summit in which 800 domestic and foreign guests have participated.

Representatives from the United Nations (UN), ambassadors, mayors and a number of religious scholars from Iraq, Turkey, India, Bangladesh, Palestine, Indonesia, China, Morocco, Pakistan and Afghanistan are also present in the fifth WAIC gathering in Iran.

irna.ir/en/News/82503010/

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GCC Islamic banks’ growth expected to moderate in 2017-18

April 23, 2017

Dubai: The economic slowdown experienced by the GCC countries following the oil price decline and consequent fiscal tightening will continue to apply pressure on asset growth and profitability of banks including Islamic banks in 2017 and 2018, according to rating agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P).

S&P forecasts oil prices will stabilise at $50 per barrel in 2017 and 2018, with unweighted average GDP growth in the six GCC countries at 1.9 per cent in 2017 and 2.4 per cent in 2018, after 2.3 per cent in 2016.

Asset growth stabilised at 6.4 per cent in 2016 for Islamic and conventional banks, compared with 6.6 per cent and 6.9 per cent respectively in 2015. “In our base-case scenario, we assume that asset growth will drop to about 5 per cent as governments’ spending cuts and revenue-boosting initiatives, such as tax introductions, reduce opportunities in the corporate and retail sectors,” said S&P Global Ratings Head of Islamic Finance Dr. Mohammad Damak.

Asset quality of GCC banks in general are strongly correlated to the economies in which they operate. According to S&P the asset quality indicators of GCC Islamic banks remain on a par with those of their conventional counterparts. Both Islamic and conventional banks are well entrenched in their local real economies in the GCC.

“As the economic cycle turns, we think that asset quality indicators will continue to deteriorate in 2017-2018. The weakening that has already occurred was not noticeable in 2016 because — as is typical — banks started to restructure their exposures to adapt to the shift in the economic environment. Therefore, we saw an increase in restructured loans in the GCC in 2016, but we didn’t observe a marked increase in nonperforming loans (NPLs) or cost of risk,” said Damak.

The deterioration in asset quality is expected to be more visible in 2017-2018. Although some market participants maintain that Islamic banks will fare much better than their conventional counterparts due to the asset backing principle inherent to Islamic finance. However, S&P expects both conventional and Islamic banks will be on equal footing when it comes to impairments because bankruptcy laws remain underdeveloped, and the foreclosure of underlying assets remains generally difficult in most GCC countries, especially because the predominant type of collateral is real estate.

Typically, asset quality issues in the banking sector show up with a lag. As subcontractors, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and expatriate retail exposures will bear the brunt of the turning economic cycle and are expected to contribute to the formation of new NPLs in 2017 and 2018.

Despite the emerging challenges analysts see as positive the buffers that GCC Islamic banks have built in previous years, when the cycle was more supportive. The ratio of NPLs to total loans was 3.1 per cent on average at year-end 2016, with an average coverage ratio of 133.9 per cent. “Under our base-case scenario, we think NPLs could increase to 4 per cent to 5 per cent over the next two years,” said Damak.

gulfnews.com/business/sectors/banking/gcc-islamic-banks-growth-expected-to-moderate-in-2017-18-1.2015770

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Africa

Islamic Movement Slams Nigeria Govt over El-Zakzaky Prolonged Detention

APR 22, 2017

Members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, have again riled at the Federal Government over the continued detainment of their leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, Malama Zeenat Ibrahim.

El-Zakzaky together with his spouse has been kept in custody for more than 16 months over a clash between the officers of the Nigerian Army and members of Islamic Movement, which occurred in December 2015. The conflict led to the killings of several members of IMN including children of the spiritual leader.

Also, the group worshipping centre in Zaria, Hussainiyya Baqiyatullah, as well as property of the IMN members were demolished during the confrontation.

Last year, the Federal High Court in Abuja issued an order for the immediate release of the couple along with compensation, provision of a residence as well as a police protection, but the government has ignored the court order.

The government also turned deaf ears to the call by Amnesty International for the release of the cleric.

In a statement signed by the group’s media secretary, Abdulmumin Giwa, and sent to SaharaReporters, the group has called for the immediate release of Sheikh El-Zakzaky and his wife from illegal detention.  The statement noted that El-Zakzaky who lost an eye during the attack against his family might lose the second eye if it is not urgently treated.

“We call on all Nigerians and lovers of humanity to rise against oppression and misuse of power and lend a voice to justice and fairness by condemning such acts of unprovoked brutality on innocent unarmed civilians that include hundreds of women and children perpetrated by the Nigerian government in abuse of all democratic tenets and in violation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC),” the statement reads.

saharareporters.com/2017/04/22/islamic-movement-slams-nigeria-govt-over-el-zakzaky-prolonged-detention

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Head of High Islamic Council urges youth to vote massively

 

ALGIERS – Head of the High Islamic Council Bouabdallah Ghlamallah urged Saturday in Algiers youth to "vote massively" during the legislative elections of May 4th.

Ghlamallah, speaking during a conference on the promotion of citizenship and democratic practice, said that the legislative elections "constitute a crucial turning point in Algeria’s history and youth are urged to largely vote to safeguard Algeria’s security and stability."

In this regard, he recalled the "significant" role of young people who spared no efforts to prevent the "Arab spring" from happening in the country.

As for him, the Imam of Great Mosque Ali Aya called on the Algerians for massively vote in the legislative elections, which would be an "overwhelming" response to those "who sow despair." 

"The current situation dictates that priority should be given to the national interest," he said noting that the "participation to the elections in a national duty and the demonstration of love to the country."

Furthermore, the president of the Algerian Association for the promotion of citizenship and human rights, Hachimi Koussa said that "Algeria is targeted for its strategic position and wealth,” adding that the "next elections are a historical turning point."

en.aps.dz/algeria/17943-head-of-high-islamic-council-urges-youth-to-vote-massively

 

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/gay-sex,-female-pop-stars-and-when-women-outnumber-men--what-a-hardline-islamist-preacher-predicts-for-the-end-of-the-world-in-bizarre-sermon/d/110872

 

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