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Islamic World News ( 5 May 2023, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Georgetown, Oldest Catholic University in U.S., Erects Large Mosque on Campus

New Age Islam News Bureau

05 May 2023

 

Georgetown Opens First-of-Its-Kind Mosque on a U.S. College Campus

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Arab World

Kingdom’s surging entertainment sector in the spotlight

Gulf Cooperation Council Drives Global Islamic Finance Growth to $3 Trillion

Saudi Geological Survey dating Kingdom’s rock layers

Saudi Arabia developing high-tech visa service

Fascinated By the Beauty of Saudi Arabia, Blogger Aurelie Recounts Her Trip

New unit to monitor infectious diseases in Saudi Arabia

Saudi minister of state to attend King Charles coronation on behalf of King Salman

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North America

State Department Forced Muslim Security Guard To Shave Beard, Lawsuit Claims

From political Islam to illiberal nationalism: the MENA states' war for hearts and minds

Jackie Little indicted on federal charges in Minneapolis mosque arsons

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India

UP Muslim Boy, Irfan, Tops Sanskrit Board’s Class 12th Exams With 83%

The Kerala Story Row: AR Rahman Shares Video Of Hindu Wedding Inside Mosque, Says ‘Love For Humanity…’

Property Sale from Hindu to Muslim in Vadodara Society Gets Green Light after 8 Years

BJP, BSP’s Muslim Card Builds Suspense over Community Mood in UP

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Pakistan

50 Members of 10 Hindu FamiliesWillingly Embrace Islam in Karachi

FM’s OfIndia, Pakistan Shook Hands and Exchanged Pleasantries

Most wanted terrorist involved in Sri Lanka cricket team attack killed

Chinese, Afghan FMs arrive in Islamabad today

Pakistan lags behind in curbing child marriages

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Europe

Turkish Opposition Is Gay – Erdogan

South American nation blasts US over cruel treatment of migrants

Meet the Czech lawyer who rallies thousands to shake up the EU establishment

Israel claims Iran can make nuclear bombs

Pope defrocks priest accused of genocide

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South Asia

Afghanistan: 'Nothing We Can Do But Watch Babies Die' From Illnesses That Could Be Cured With The Right Medication

Afghan Interim Authorities Do Not Receive US Aid: US State Dept

Afghanistan Acting FM Muttaqi to Lead High-Level Delegation to Pakistan Tomorrow

Helmand Education Dept Says 93 New Schools to Be Built

SRK-starrer ‘Pathaan’ becomes first Hindi film to release in Bangladesh post 1971

Rohingya delegation visits Myanmar amid latest repatriation plans

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Mideast

Iran’s Raisi Meets with Top Hamas and Islamic Jihad Officials, Urges Israel’s Defeat

1000s Palestinian Worshipers Pray in Al-Aqsa and Ibrahimi Mosques

Dozens of Israeli Colonizers Storm Al-Aqsa Mosque

Israel Seized Binance Crypto Accounts To 'Thwart' Islamic State, Document Shows

Vietnam's Vice President Vo Thi visits Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Liberation of Quds most important issue of world of Islam

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Africa

Libya Christians Face Death Sentence over Conversion from Islam and Proselytization

Arabic, Islamic Board Staff Arraigned For Employment Scam In Kaduna

Sudanese special envoy urges rebels to put down arms

No winner' in Sudan war: exiled Darfur rebel leader

South Africa police apologises after names of rape victims leaked online

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Southeast Asia

Singapore PM Lee: ‘Close To 90 Per Cent’ Of Singaporeans Involved In Terrorism-Related Activities

Malaysia’s Anwar says in talks to return 1MDB fugitive Jho Low

Asyraf Wajdi: Support of 148 MPs for unity government still intact

Woman pleads not guilty to hurting Indonesian maid with iron, hot water in KL

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Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:   https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/georgetown-mosque-catholic/d/129710

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Georgetown, Oldest Catholic University in U.S., Erects Large Mosque on Campus

 

Georgetown Opens First-of-Its-Kind Mosque on a U.S. College Campus

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MAY 5, 2023

‘We need to embrace interreligious dialogue,’ says vice president for Georgetown’s ministry division

Georgetown University, which touts itself as the oldest Catholic Jesuit University in the United States, founded in the 1790s, recently completed a major construction project erecting a large mosque on campus.

“On March 18, Georgetown officially opened the Yarrow Mamout Masjid, the first mosque with ablution stations, a spirituality and formation hall and a halal kitchen on a U.S. college campus,” the university stated in a news release.

It opened in 2019 but construction was completed earlier this year to much fanfare, with a dedication ceremony March 18 drawing Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who issued a proclamation recognizing the mosque, the release stated.

Georgetown University’s media relations, as well as representatives of its Catholic Faith Communities, Catholic Ministry and alumni centre, all ignored requests over the last week from The College Fix seeking comment on the mosque.

The Catholic Georgetown is not shy about embracing Islam. Its news release touted the fact that Georgetown was also the first U.S. University to hire a full-time Muslim imam 24 years ago.

In 2016, students at Georgetown University elected a Muslim student to serve as their student association president, a first for the school.

Georgetown’s newly debuted mosque “provides a space for reflection, prayer, community and interfaith dialogue for Muslim and non-Muslim students at Georgetown,” its news release stated, adding it hosts five daily prayer services, educational programming and spiritual discussions.

“The masjid [another word for mosque] builds on the university’s commitment to interreligious understanding and care for the whole person, or cura personalis, in creating sacred spaces on campus and community for students of all faith traditions,” it stated.

The Hoya student newspaper reported that the mosque was named after Yarrow Mamout, who was a slave that practiced Islam throughout his life and lived in the Georgetown neighborhood after gaining his freedom in 1796.

“The construction of the Yarrow Mamout Masjid has been a long-awaited moment for the entire Muslim community at Georgetown, as it provides a visible and tangible expression of the community’s presence and contributions on campus,” Aleena Dawer, director of spirituality and service of Georgetown’s Muslim Students Association, told The Hoya.

Nile Adhami, incoming president of Georgetown’s Muslim Students Association, told The Hoya the mosque is “a place where I can feel comfortable to be myself, and engage my Islamic faith to the fullest. In a Catholic Jesuit University, that’s a big deal.”

Fr. Mark Bosco, the vice president for Georgetown’s Mission and Ministry division, said in the news release. “We’re trying to form students to be people for others.”

“And in doing that,” Bosco added, “it means we need to embrace interreligious dialogue.”

“Coming to these different places, being invited by another student to come to the masjid, for example, whether you’re Muslim or not, invites us to explore the richness of Georgetown’s heritage and its deep commitment to our faith traditions.”

Source: thecollegefix.com

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https://www.thecollegefix.com/georgetown-oldest-catholic-university-in-u-s-erects-large-mosque-on-campus/

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Islamic Affairs Minister of Saudi Arabia Directs Imams to Devote Upcoming Friday Sermon to Dangers of Drugs

 

Representative photo

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May 04, 2023

RIYADH — The Minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance Sheikh Dr. Abdullatif Al-Sheikh has directed mosque imams and preachers to devote the upcoming Friday sermon (Khutba) to warn against the dangers of drugs.

The minister's directive is meant to raise the awareness among the public about the dangers of all of its drugs and to explain the harms they cause to individuals and society at large.

Al-Sheik said people should be made aware of the prohibition of drugs during the sermon, and the imams must drive home the importance of cooperating with security authorities and supporting their efforts by reporting drug dealers, smugglers and accomplices.

The minister also pointed out the importance of urging families to pay attention to their children and educate them about drugs of all kinds and names, including the deadly narcotic substance methamphetamine, which is also known as Shabu, so that the they will not fall victims to drug pushers who try to exploit them by all means.

Saudi Arabia is continuing its ruthless war on drugs. As part of this battle, the Kingdom has launched a campaign aimed at combating the spread of drugs, foiling attempts to smuggle in drugs and eliminating the sources of financing this scourge, which targets certain age groups, mostly the young generation.

Source: saudigazette.com.sa

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https://saudigazette.com.sa/article/632154/SAUDI-ARABIA/Islamic-Affairs-nbspMinister-directs-imams-to-devote-upcoming-Friday-sermon-to-dangers-of-drugs

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Kerala HC After Watching ‘The Kerala Story’ Trailer: 'What's Against Islam In It?'

 

'The Kerala Story' stars Adah Sharma (in pic) Yogita Bihani, Siddhi Idnani and Sonia Balani in the lead roles.

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May 05, 2023

The high court, while refusing to issue a stay order on the release of the film, observed that there was no allegation against a religion, but only against the organisation Islamic State or ISIS.

"There is something called freedom of speech and expression. They have artistic freedom, we have to balance that also", Justice Nagaresh orally stated while refusing to grant an interim order.

A division bench comprising Justice N Nagaresh and Justice Mohammed Nias CP considered the matter.

“What is there in the film that is against Islam? There is no allegation against a religion, but only against the organization ISIS," Justice Nagaresh said.

The bench watched the trailer of the film before refusing to stay its screenings, saying that there was nothing offensive to any particular community in it.

The court sought to know whether the entire trailer was against society.

“Nothing will happen just because the film is screened. The teaser of the film was released in November. What was offensive in the film? What is wrong in saying that Allah is the only God? The country gives the citizen the right to believe in their religion and God and spread it. What was offensive in the trailer?” the court observed while considering a batch of petitions seeking to cancel the censor certificate of the film.

"So many movies have already come out about such organizations. There have been references against Hindu monks and Christian priests in many films before. Did you see all this in the way of fiction? What is so special now? How does this movie create sectarianism and conflict in society?" the court observed.

The petitioners argued that the film would inject poison into the minds of innocent people. The petitioners argued that no agency has yet detected the existence of 'Love Jihad' in Kerala.

Meanwhile, the producer told the court that the teaser, which claimed that more than 32,000 women from the southern state were recruited to the Islamic State or ISIS, will be removed from their social media accounts.

Helmed by Sudipto Sen and produced by Vipul Amrutlal Shah, the film has triggered a massive political row with various leaders reacting to the upcoming movie.

'The Kerala Story' stars Adah Sharma, Yogita Bihani, Siddhi Idnani and Sonia Balani in the lead roles.

Source: hindustantimes.com

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https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/the-kerala-story-news-kerala-high-court-trailer-32-000-women-isis-101683276706477.html

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Let’s Not 'Weaponise Terrorism' For Diplomatic Point-Scoring, FM Bilawal Says At SCO

 

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in Goa, Indi, to attend the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers meeting on May 05, 2023. Photo: Reuters

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May 05, 2023

 GOA, INDIA:

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in his address at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on Friday urged nations to collectively eradicate the menace of terrorism and “not get caught up in weaponising terrorism for diplomatic point-scoring”.

The foreign minister, who is currently on a two-day visit to India, said that “the collective security of our peoples is our joint responsibility”.

He also highlighted the importance of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.

“A peaceful and stable Afghanistan is a key not only to regional integration and economic cooperation but also to global peace and stability,” he added.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs quoted the FM saying that “unilateral and illegal measures by states in violation of international law and Security Council resolutions run counter to the SCO objectives”.

Bilawal also stressed the importance of enhanced cooperation and regional integration. “When great powers play [the] role of peacemaker, we can unlock [the] potential of peace while paving [the] way for greater cooperation, regional integration and economic opportunities for our peoples,” he added.

Reiterating Pakistan’s strong commitment to the SCO, the foreign minister said that “there couldn’t be a more powerful indication of the importance that Pakistan attaches to the SCO than my presence here in Goa for this Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM)” meeting.

He also highlighted SCO’s role in enhancing regional connectivity and said that the organisation “could be a key platform for taking the vision of Eurasian connectivity to the next level”.

FM Bilawal also talked about the climate challenges the region faces and said that “the climate crisis poses an existential threat to humanity”.

“Pakistan has emerged as an important voice in the global discourse on Climate Change in the aftermath of that natural calamity,” the FM added.

He further called for closer cooperation for poverty alleviation.

“There is a very strong and compelling case for closer cooperation for poverty alleviation under SCO. The establishment of the Special Working Group on Poverty Alleviation proposed by Pakistan will be a step in that direction,” he said.

Earlier in the day, the Foreign Office (FO) shared a picture of FM Bilawal with his Indian counterpart S Jaishnakar.

A day earlier, Bilawal had arrived in the Indian coastal resort of Goa to take part in the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers. The foreign minister was received at the airport by senior officials of the Indian External Affairs Ministry.

The foreign minister is accompanied by the foreign secretary and other senior officials on a visit that rekindles the hopes for an unlikely thaw in the relationship between the two countries.

The SCO comprises China, Russia, Pakistan, India, and key Central Asian States. India, the current chair of the eight-member bloc, is hosting a series of events, including the CFM.

The SCO-CFM usually doesn’t get much traction, but this is not the case this year.

Source: tribune.com.pk

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https://tribune.com.pk/story/2415237/lets-not-weaponise-terrorism-for-diplomatic-point-scoring-fm-bilawal-says-at-sco

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Dr Abdul Wahid of Hizb ut-Tahrir: Muslims Shouldn’t Be Celebrating the Monarchy, We Should Be Mourning Its Victims

 

Representative Photo/ 5 Pillars

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4th May 2023

Dr Abdul Wahid of Hizb ut-Tahrir says Muslims shouldn’t be pledging allegiance to the king or celebrating the monarchy. Rather, we should be mourning its victims at home and abroad.

Charles Mountbatten was proclaimed King by the Privy Council on September 10, 2022. So why the lavish ceremony this week?

The coronation is a formal religious ceremony and the King will be honoured by the Establishment, who will pledge their allegiance (give bay’ah) to him. Yet whilst we shouldn’t mock a religious ceremony, there is a need for an independent-minded Islamic critique of this event – in particular because what we are currently offered is little more than propaganda by mainstream media.

Around £100 million will be spent on this celebration, to bind the general public to the nation state because it seems that is more important than alleviating food poverty in modern Britain.

The coronation contradictions are too numerous to mention.

Aside from anointing a king with “holy oil” in arguably one of the least religious countries in the world, one wonders how many of the congregation – who will sing the coronation anthem that recalls when “Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anointed Solomon king,” – actually believes in the God they will ask to save the king!

Moreover, the gap between the theory of an egalitarian democratic society and the reality of what the coronation represents – i.e. a privileged establishment maintaining its superiority over the rest – is huge.

In terms of declining support for the monarchy the overall picture is not good given that amongst 18-24 year olds only 32% back the monarchy (although even this group only has 38% who prefer an elected head of state, with 30% undecided).

Although poll evidence suggests there is more support for the current system than an elected head of state, this may have more to do with a contempt for politicians rather than active support for the institution.

The Royal Family was once held up to be the role model to aspire to. Now the myth and mystery has gone – with Charles embroiled in financial scandal, after adultery and divorce; Andrew embroiled in sexual scandal; and the rift between Harry and rest.

The family looks like many other dysfunctional families that have fallen victim to secular, capitalist, liberal values … only they are richer!

But the monarchy survives because no one relishes a future President Sunak, Truss or Johnson!

Islam and monarchy

My understanding is that Islam doesn’t do kings. Kings are above the law – even in constitutional monarchies like Britain.

But in Islam no one is above the law – not even the Khaleefah; unlike in the nation state, which has elevated itself to a godlike status in that it is the ultimate authority.

Monarchy is a system which elevates one family to a special status, usually because one of their ancestors usurped power by force. A poet once said: “Steal a little and they throw you in jail. Steal a lot and they make you a king.” Charles is the descendent of the guy who stole a lot so they made him the king.

Islam also doesn’t privilege certain families above others.

But in Britain, the King is Sovereign – although, that is delegated to Parliament and the government. He is the head of the two established churches of England and Scotland. He is above the law of the church and secular state in worldly terms.

And in Islam we believe that Sovereignty is for Allah Alone.

We recite the dhikr “Lā ilāha illā Allāh, wadahu lā sharīka lahu, lahul mulk” perhaps without considering the meaning: “There is no god except Allah. He is One. He has no partners. Sovereignty is for Him alone.”

Allah tells us in the Quran: “Say O Allah, Master of the dominion, You grant dominion to whomever You will and You strip dominion from whomever you will, and You honour whomever you will and You humiliate whomever you will; in Your hand is all goodness. You are indeed All-Powerful over everything.” (3:26).

In the Islamic understanding, anyone with authority (rightly or wrongly) has had it bestowed upon them by Allah. But it is not a divine right – they will be accounted accordingly by Him but also must be held accountable to the law of Allah by the people.

The oath of allegiance

During the coronation we are told that people will be invited to say: “I swear that I will pay true allegiance to your majesty, and to your heirs and successors according to law. So help me God.”

An oath sworn before Allah is a heavy matter for any believing Muslim. It is beyond belief that any Muslim would want to make this oath.

On the other hand, pledges (bay’ah) to a legitimate Khaleefah is a well-documented matter in Islamic jurisprudence.

Allah, the Most High, tells us in the Quran:

“You who believe, obey Allah and the Messenger, and those in authority among you. If you are in dispute over any matter, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you truly believe in Allah and the Last Day: that is better and fairer in the end.” (4:59)

Obedience to a legitimate Islamic ruler is always conditional upon obedience to Allah and His Messenger. Sayiduna Abu Bakr al Siddiq, may Allah be pleased with him, said when taking the pledge of allegiance as the first Khaleefah: “Obey me as long as I obey Allah and His Messenger. If I do not then there is no obedience upon you!”

There is no such condition in pledging loyalty to Charles in this proposed oath.

What’s wrong with enjoying the day?

That said, most people will welcome an extra day off work, to spend time with family. But the coronation is not a benign event about bunting and street parties. The monarchy is intimately intertwined with the state. It is a soft power tool – at home and abroad – that pushes an image of Britain that is often false.

At home, the British Establishment has sought to aggressively assimilate Muslims into subservience to the state. On the other hand the king will swear that he “will seek to foster an environment in which people of all faiths may live freely.”

The state punches its victims with the government hand, and pacifies them with the king’s hand. The government does the dirty work, while the monarchy applies the air freshener.

Abroad the British state has a shameful history: crusades, slavery; invasion; occupation; colonialism; the fragmentation of the Muslim world and elsewhere.

We shouldn’t be celebrating monarchy. We should be mourning its victims!

Source: 5pillarsuk.com

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https://5pillarsuk.com/2023/05/04/muslims-shouldnt-be-celebrating-the-monarchy-we-should-be-mourning-its-victims/

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Arab World

 

Kingdom’s surging entertainment sector in the spotlight

Rashid Hassan

May 04, 2023

 RIYADH: From tackling the environmental impact of shows to spotlighting women in the events industry, the Saudi Light and Sound Expo will look at how the Kingdom’s entertainment industry can stay ahead of the curve, while mapping the industry’s future, and highlighting the biggest trends and challenges.

The SLS Expo, taking place from May 28-30 at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center, will be the first dedicated event in Saudi Arabia for professional AV and lighting equipment specialists, and will feature exhibitors from the pro-lighting and audio, live events, digital signage, AI, laser technology, and stage technology sector.

More than 15 debates, fireside chats, presentations, case studies and panel discussions from industry experts will be included in the summit.

As the Kingdom hosts growing numbers of international sports events, art exhibitions and live concerts with international performers, there is a rising demand for AV technology to support its burgeoning entertainment industry, which was worth an estimated $308 million at the end of last year, according to Statista, the online market and consumer data platform.

Amid plans for the Kingdom to invest $64 billion in the entertainment industry over the next decade, there is a significant demand for AV technology, professional lighting equipment, and theater and cinema operators to support the ambitious entertainment goals, and the rising demand will be the focus of this year’s SLS Expo.

“With the Kingdom hosting over 120 million people at events in the last four years, the country is looking to fast track plans in its events and entertainment industry, and the SLS Summit and Expo will look to showcase these advancements,” said Mohammed Faisal, event manager at DMG Events, organizers of the expo.

The Kingdom continues to create the fundamentals for a vibrant entertainment sector, with 11,136 licenses issued for entertainment and supporting events since 2019, according to the Saudi General Entertainment Authority.

Global professional services firm Ernst & Young recently said that MENA governments, such as Saudi Arabia, have demonstrated strong support for entertainment as part of goals to invest in their non-oil economies. The company predicted that by 2030, the entertainment industry will create over 100,000 jobs with a 3 percent impact on the Kingdom’s economic output.

“Saudi Arabia is rapidly becoming the most important entertainment market in the region,” said Koert Vermeulen, principal designer and owner of ACTLD, and one of the speakers at the expo.

The summit will also take a closer look at women in the events industry, with the country putting several initiatives in place to empower and encourage women to join the public and private sector.

“I am thrilled to be taking part in the executive session, ‘Women in the events industry,’ and I hope that it will help shine a spotlight on the wonderful opportunities available for women,” said Debbie Kristiansen, general manager of Exhibition World Bahrain and one of the speakers at the expo.

Topics include trending and future tools for interactive installations and audience engagement, design principles and techniques for creating shows, a sound-storm case study, and sound engineering and design for immersive experiences.

Other speakers include Mark Reeves, head of entertainment and events at 6 Flags Qiddiya; and Michael Jobson, executive director, MDL Beast.

Source: arabnews.com

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2297736/saudi-arabia

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Gulf Cooperation Council Drives Global Islamic Finance Growth To $3 Trillion

May 5, 2023

 Driven by favourable dynamics in the GCC and a few other core markets, the size of the global Islamic finance industry is poised to cross the $3.0 trillion mark this year, growing by around 10 per cent after expanding at a similar pace in 2022, S&P Global Ratings said.

In 2022, GCC countries drove most of the growth in banking assets. Similarly, Malaysia and GCC countries accounted for a large portion of the Suluk market during the same period.

In a report titled “Islamic Finance 2023-24: Growth beyond core market remains market remains elusive,” S&P’s primary credit analyst Mohamed Damak said while sukuk issuance will likely continue to decline in 2023, new issuances are expected to exceed maturities with sustainability-linked sukuk issuances continuing to increase, albeit from a low base.

The GCC countries — notably Saudi Arabia and Kuwait — largely fuelled this performance, supported by a large, one-off acquisition in the latter. Elsewhere, growth was either muted or held back by local currency depreciation. this was mainly due to Kuwait Finance House’s (KFH’s) acquisition of Ahli United Bank.

S&P forecasts a material slowdown in GCC economies’ real GDP growth in 2023-2024, compared with 2022, largely based on lower oil production. “However, we think that Saudi Arabia’s banking system performance will continue to underpin a large portion of the expanding Islamic finance industry. In other GCC countries, growth of about 5.0 per cent appears plausible in the absence of new major government investment cycles.”

According to the 2022 Islamic Finance Development Indicator (IFDI) released by Refinitiv, an (LSEG) London Stock Exchange Group Business, and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), the global Islamic finance industry is expected to reach $5.9 trillion by 2026 driven by Islamic banks and sukuks

Malaysia led the IFDI list in 2022 with a score of 113, followed by Saudi Arabia (74), Indonesia (61), Bahrain (59), Kuwait (59), the UAE (52), Oman (48), Pakistan (43), Qatar (38) and Bangladesh (36). The GCC has the highest average score while the United States and countries in Europe have the lowest.

According to the indicator, Islamic banking currently holds 70 per cent of the global Islamic finance industry while sukuk’s grew by 14 per cent in 2021 to $713 billion.

Islamic funds, the third biggest sector, saw standout growth of 34 per cent to $238 billion worth of assets under management in 2021.

Islamic finance experts are optimistic about the continued double-digit growth of the global Islamic finance industry because of the prevailing positive developments in new and emerging markets such as in Central Asia and North Africa.

The developments in these regions especially with regards to regulations and capacity-building have been years in the making.

The big and more mature Islamic finance markets such as the six countries of the GCC, Malaysia, and Indonesia, continue to strengthen their industries and lead with developments and innovations in segments like Islamic FinTech, regulations, and sustainability.

Over the next couple of years, analysts expect progress toward greater industry standardisation — in part supported by the digitalisation of sukuk issuance could enhance Islamic finance’s structural growth potential.

At the same time, the increasing focus on sustainability-related themes by core Islamic finance players will create new opportunities for the industry. They expect the contribution of sustainability-linked sukuk to continue increasing in the next 12-24 months, albeit from a low base.

Analysts expect sukuk issuance will continue to spur the Islamic finance industry’s expansion despite slowing issuance volumes overall. While volumes are generally expected to diminish in 2023, most experts still believe that new issuance will exceed maturing sukuk, resulting in another positive contribution of the sukuk market to industry growth in 2023.—Khaleej Times

Source: pakobserver.net

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https://pakobserver.net/gcc-drives-global-islamic-finance-growth-to-3-trillion/

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Saudi Geological Survey dating Kingdom’s rock layers

May 05, 2023

RIYADH: Following the approval of the Saudi Committee for Stratigraphy, the Saudi Geological Survey, also known as the SGS, has launched research on sedimentary sequences in the Kingdom.

The study will help researchers determine the stratigraphic sequences of sedimentary rocks, as well as sedimentary environments and various geological structures, because of the role they play in facilitating mineral exploration in the Kingdom.

Tariq Aba Al-Khail, spokesman for the SGS, said the committee has issued a unified geological column for sedimentary sequences extending for 541 million years, from the Paleozoic era to the modern era.

The committee consists of officials from Saudi Aramco, King Saud University, King Abdulaziz University, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Taibah University, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology.

The sequences can refer to these eras through their sedimentary covers, as well as their different ages and divisions, which explain the sedimentary environments hosting industrial and basic metals existing in the Kingdom. This includes radioactive elements such as uranium and thorium, in addition to rare earth elements.

They will also contribute to determining the geology of water reservoirs and its importance in exploring the largest hydrocarbon reserves in the world, in addition to aiding in petroleum discoveries.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2297961/saudi-arabia

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Saudi Arabia developing high-tech visa service

 May 05, 2023

 RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs has launched a new initiative to cancel the visa sticker on passports and switch to the e-visa, from which data will be read via a QR Code.

This initiative falls within the framework of automating and improving the quality of consular services provided by the ministry.

As a first stage, the procedure has been activated at Saudi missions in the UAE, Jordan, Egypt, Bangladesh, India and the Philippines.

The ministry aims to develop a visa-issuing mechanism — including work permits, residence and visit visas — in accordance with the latest technology.

Last year, the ministry announced a mechanism for obtaining a “personal visit” visa, which enables visitors to enter the Kingdom to visit friends or acquaintances who are Saudi citizens.

The visa also allows individuals to travel between the Kingdom’s regions and cities, perform Umrah rituals, visit Makkah and Madinah and other religious and historical sites, and attend cultural events.

The ministry said that people can apply for the visa through easy and convenient electronic steps on the visa platform website.

Saudi citizens can invite friends to visit Saudi Arabia and perform Umrah by submitting a request for a personal visit on the visa platform and applying for a “visit” request, by logging in through the unified national access platform, and filling out the data for the invitees.

Source: arabnews.com

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/2297956/saudi-arabia

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Fascinated by the beauty of Saudi Arabia, blogger Aurelie recounts her trip

 May 05, 2023

BEIRUT: Aurelie from Aurelistory has taken her followers to dream destinations on her Instagram page, and recently the French blogger set her sights on Saudi Arabia.

As soon as she arrived, Aurelie fell in love with Jeddah.

She told Arab News: “Saudia warmly invited me and welcomed me to Jeddah for the Formula One grand prix.

“Recommended by a lot of people, the city was already on my bucket list, so the opportunity came at the right time.”

Dream destination

With more than 514,000 subscribers, Aurelie enthusiastically shared the beauty of the Saudi tourist sites that are now on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.

In 2020 Princess Haifa Al-Mogrin, permanent representative of the Kingdom to UNESCO, said: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is home to some of the most fascinating and culturally significant heritage sites, of which AlUla is the most iconic and impressive.”

The jewel of Saudi Arabia, AlUla combines heritage, nature, and art.

Aurelie said: “AlUla is a sublime city. The desert is by far my favorite landscape. I think this city has managed to assert its presence in a harmonious way.

“There is a deep serenity, but paradoxically it is also a very lively city where boredom does not exist.”

 Charm, beauty and hospitality

Aurelie also told Arab News of a magical Ramadan experience she had enjoyed.

She said: “We have become accustomed in recent years to spending part of the month of Ramadan in a Muslim country to experience the conviviality and brotherhood of a single community.

“But I must admit that Saudi Arabia has set the bar very high, especially since the Saudi people are very welcoming, hospitable and joyful.

“I will never forget Mohammed, one of our local staff, who insisted on hosting us at his home with his family for iftar during Ramadan.

“Given its history, landscape and cultural heritage, Saudi Arabia undeniably stands out, not only from other countries in the Middle East, but also from other countries in the world.

“In Saudi Arabia we really felt the month of Ramadan in the hotels. At the Banyan Tree AlUla we felt a very original development of the Ramadan retreat concept. Special menus were offered for iftar, and also for sahoor. And at every meal we were served bottles of Zamzam water.”

Adventure tourism

Horseback riding and walks in AlUla, helicopter flights, Elephant Rock, Rainbow Rock, Hegra, Al-Balad — all proved to be must-sees for Aurelie during her visit.

She said: “In Jeddah, the F1 was an incredible experience that frankly made me want to come back more often.”

There are photographs and comments from her followers on her Instagram page, and Aurelie said she looks forward to returning to the Kingdom “every time she has the opportunity.”

She added: “You will have understood, my experience in Saudi Arabia was great.”

Source: arabnews.com

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New unit to monitor infectious diseases in Saudi Arabia

May 04, 2023

RIYADH: A specialist unit has been established to help improve the monitoring and diagnosis of high-risk infectious diseases in Saudi Arabia, Fahd Al-Jalajel, the Saudi minister of health and chairman of the board of directors of the Public Health Authority, announced.

It will do this by providing a system of fully equipped mobile laboratories and procedures that meet international standards and requirements for biological security and safety, according to officials. All of the teams working in the laboratories will be highly competent and skilled, having undergone training at high-containment facilities in advanced international facilities.

The new Infectious and Communicable Diseases Unit will help improve the Kingdom’s ability to monitor epidemics and the country’s health security, officials said, in keeping with the Public Health Authority’s efforts to “enhance the prevention of health risks,” which is one of the strategic goals of the health sector transformation program, and contribute to the wider objectives of the Saudi Vision 2030 national development and diversification plan.

Source: arabnews.com

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Saudi minister of state to attend King Charles coronation on behalf of King Salman

May 04, 2023

 RIYADH: Saudi Minister of State Prince Turki bin Mohammed bin Fahd has arrived in London to attend the coronation of King Charles III on behalf of King Salman, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The coronation of King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla will take place at Westminster Abbey on Saturday.

The service will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury and reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry, Buckingham Palace said.

For the first time, religious leaders representing Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and Sikh traditions will play an active role in the ceremony. The music will feature pieces written and performed by artists from each of the UK’s four nations and throughout the Commonwealth.

Source: arabnews.com

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North America

 

State Department forced Muslim security guard to shave beard, lawsuit claims

May 4, 2023

By Kathryn Post

(RNS) — When Devin Brooks reported for training in West Virginia early last year for his new security guard gig at the U.S. Department of State, he was pulled aside and told his beard violated the agency’s facial hair policy.

The news was a shock to Brooks, who said he had been assured in November 2021 by a third-party recruiter that the job would allow him to maintain a fist-length beard, as required by his Islamic faith.

A lawsuit filed Wednesday (May 3) by the Council on American-Islamic Relations against Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the State Department claims Brooks was forced to shave his beard to keep his job and afterward was “denied permission to maintain a beard longer than ½ inch.” Rather than accommodate Brooks’ beliefs, the agency removed him from active duty and later placed him on administrative leave, then unpaid leave, according to the lawsuit.

CAIR alleges the Department of State’s refusal to provide religious accommodation violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of religion, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which prevents the government from substantially burdening a person’s free exercise of religion. The lawsuit requests payment for economic damages and emotional harm, along with other damages and fees.

“Nobody should be forced to choose between their faith and their job,” said Hannah Mullen, a staff attorney for CAIR, in a press release. “The Department of State could have easily accommodated Mr. Brooks. Bureaucracy and a lack of respect for religion are not defenses to Title VII and RFRA.” A State Department spokesperson informed Religion News Service that they do not comment on pending litigation.

In a letter on April 18, 2022, quoted in the lawsuit, a Department of State representative says the government can’t accommodate Brooks’ request for a beard due to safety concerns. “We have these policies on beard length in place to protect the guards and to ensure that if engaged in a physical confrontation they cannot be grabbed or pulled and used to manipulate a guard in such a way as to expose their weapons,” it says.

But lawyers representing CAIR argue in the lawsuit that these concerns don’t outweigh Brooks’ right to observe his faith. They add that the agency’s safety concerns ring hollow, given that Brooks is currently employed in a similar position at the Department of Homeland Security, where he maintains a fist-length beard without issue.

“As a result of Defendants’ unlawful actions, Brooks has suffered a loss of earnings, wages, seniority, and benefits, a loss of earning capacity, a loss of future earnings, a loss of enjoyment of life, embarrassment, humiliation, emotional distress and related damages,” the lawsuit says. “Defendants acted with malice and reckless indifference to Brooks’s federal protected rights.”

Source: religionnews.com

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From political Islam to illiberal nationalism: the MENA states' war for hearts and minds

May 5, 2023

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, facing a difficult election on May 14, announced on April 30 that Turkish intelligence had killed Abu Hussein al-Quraishi — the latest self-styled “Islamic State Caliph” — in Afrin, a Syrian territory under the control of the Turkish military and its proxy Free Syrian Army fighters.

Why would Erdogan, known for a Muslim Brotherhood-inspired agenda mixed with Turkish nationalism, decide to display such window dressing, which broke with his long-standing leniency toward jihadi groups? Mainly because political Islam has become a liability in the Middle East and North Africa as a whole. In the Turkish case, distancing himself from Islamist radicals is targeting a cluster of centrist voters alienated by his mixed record.

The incident is only the latest case of MENA powers distancing themselves from political Islam. Tunisian President Kais Saied's authoritarian regime jailed Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of the Ennahda party, which had been a key player since the 2011 Arab Spring. Reactions were scarce, and the president believes that the move might boost his own authoritarian legitimacy with the support of the secularist middle classes.

In neighboring Algeria and Morocco, Islamist parties have also been ousted from office. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s rule in Egypt was built from its inception on crushing the Muslim Brotherhood. And, most importantly, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s rise to power since 2017 sapped the funding of political Islam worldwide and eliminated its political language from the kingdom. The puritanical brand of Islamism has gradually been erased from the public square in today’s Saudi Arabia, where concerts, film festivals and tourism thrive while female segregation comes to an end. 

But the region's turn away from political Islam did not translate into embracing a Western democracy template — quite the opposite. What is emerging in its stead is an authoritarian-cum-efficient model like the illiberal regimes from China to Russia, with a rising anti-Western political and cultural agenda. It takes the blame away from local rulers for any failure while scapegoating the West.

The most striking symptom of such a shift is the present rush of MENA states to join the BRICS alliance, perceived as the opposing bloc to Western hegemony. Arab alliances were identity-based gatherings that mobilized solely on topical agendas — but BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and OPEC+ now offer a combined strongarm political assertion against the West and immediate economic benefits.

On April 6, the Saudi Cabinet approved a decision to join the SCO in the wake of the Chinese mediation between the kingdom and Iran. That political and security union, which aims at creating a Eurasian and Asian bloc to challenge the Western domination of geopolitics, is key to Russia’s global ambition after the invasion of Ukraine. It secured a number of Asian votes that did not condemn Moscow at the United Nations. And OPEC+ solidarity allowed Saudi Arabia to resist US pressure to increase oil production last July. As for BRICS, MENA countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and Iran have reached different stages in their candidacy for membership.

The 2020 Abraham Accords were designed by the Trump administration to circumvent traditional Arab hostility towards Israel in exchange for massive trade benefits. But the anti-Palestinian agenda of the Netanyahu government is now becoming a liability for the Arab signatories. Joining the BRICS or the SCO does not carry the same domestic political downsides, while it looks even more attractive in terms of prosperity benefits and fuels nationalism — be it of the illiberal type — against the West. And political Islam becomes irrelevant in such a process, because its solely doctrinal agenda cannot lift the demographically booming and impoverished youth in the MENA region into prosperity. So far, only illegal migration to Europe can do that.

Source: al-monitor.com

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Jackie Little indicted on federal charges in Minneapolis mosque arsons

MAY 4, 2023

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Federal charges have been filed against the man accused of setting fire to two Minneapolis mosques.

Police arrested Jackie Rahm Little of Plymouth on Wednesday. Prosecutors call the case "deeply disturbing" and investigators are still working to learn more about the motivation behind the attacks.

He was indicted with one count of arson and one count of damage to religious property.

"The freedom to worship is sacrosanct," said U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger. "We will respond to any attack on any house of worship with urgency and determination."

Little allegedly started a fire in the bathroom of the Masjid Omar Islamic Center on April 23. A day later, he was captured on surveillance video entering the Masjid Al Rahma, where a fire broke out shortly afterwards.

Little is also accused of vandalizing U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar's office, a Somali police officer's squad car, and a Somali marketplace back in January.

Source: cbsnews.com

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India

 

UP Muslim Boy, Irfan, Tops Sanskrit Board’s Class 12th Exams With 83%

Written by Asad Rehman

May 5, 2023

Lucknow Sanskrit topperIrfan, who wants to become a Sanskrit teacher, is the only Muslim among the 20 top scorers in the Class 10 and Class 12 examinations.

Salauddin is elated that his son Irfan has topped the Uttar Pradesh Madhyamik Sanskrit Shiksha Parishad Board’s Uttar Madhyama-II (Class 12) examinations. The 17-year-old boy has scored 82.71 per cent, beating Gangotri Devi, who scored 80.57 per cent, to secure the first place.

Irfan, who wants to become a Sanskrit teacher, is the only Muslim among the top 20 scorers in the Class 10 and Class 12 examinations. He beat 13,738 students who sat for the Class 12 examinations. In the Class 10 examinations (Poorva Madhyama-II), Ballia district’s Aditya stood first with 92.50 per cent.

Asked if there were any issues after Irfan chose to study Sanskrit, Salauddin (51) said, “No, nothing at all. I was happy he had chosen a different subject to study and I encouraged him. It was a different choice as we are Muslims, but he was keen on it so I did not stop him. These things do not matter to us.”

“We do not subscribe to this thinking that only Hindus should study Sanskrit and that only Muslims should study Urdu. If he is studying the subject in primary and junior classes, he can study it further too. What is wrong with that? I do not see anything wrong,” said the elated father. “He wants to study Sanskrit literature and I will never stop him from pursuing something he is keen on. I am very proud of him.”

Results of the Board’s Class 10 and Class 12 examinations were announced in Lucknow on Wednesday. The examinations were held from February 23 to March 20.

Irfan, a single child, is a native of Chandauli district’s Jindaspur village under the Sakaldiha tehsil. Salauddin, who has completed his BA, is a farm labourer. Explaining how Irfan developed an interest in Sanskrit, Salauddin said, “He started studying Sanskrit in junior classes when it was a compulsory subject. He liked the subject and said that he wanted to pursue it further. It was his choice, so I encouraged him to study Sanskrit,” he said. “He wants to do Shastri (equivalent to B Ed) and Acharya (equivalent to MA) and then wants to become a Sanskrit teacher.”

“Irfan has always been quite self-motivated. We have never had to push him to study. He had no help from anyone at home because none of us know Sanskrit. He would seek his teachers’ help at school and would study at home for three to four hours daily,” said his father.

Irfan studied at Sri Sampurnanand Sanskrit Ucchtar Madhyamik School in Prabhupur. Principal Jai Shyam Tripathi told The Indian Express, “He has always been a good student. Even in earlier examinations, he has done well. We are happy for him.”

Irfan, however, missed his moment of glory when he was declared the topper. According to Saluddin, the boy left home on Wednesday morning and has not returned since.

“He said he was going somewhere, and I did not ask more questions. He is a young boy so I do not ask too many questions. He has not taken a phone with him, so I have not been able to contact him. I do not even know if he has learnt that he has stood first in the examination. When he comes back, we will tell him that he has stood first. Maybe he already knows,” Salauddin said. “All the journalists came to our house, but Irfan was not there. He said he was going on a trip and would be back in a few days. He is quite sincere, so I did not question him.”

Source: indianexpress.com

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The Kerala Story Row: AR Rahman Shares Video Of Hindu Wedding Inside Mosque, Says ‘Love For Humanity…’

05-05-23

Amid the ongoing controversy around the movie The Kerala Story, Oscar-winning musician A R Rahman on 4 May shared a video on social media showing a Hindu wedding inside a mosque in Kerala. In a tweet, the legendary singer retweeted a video and wrote, “Bravo, love for humanity has to be unconditional and healing."

The 1 minute and 47 seconds clip was reported by an independent digital platform and showed a Hindu couple tying the knot in a mosque in Kerala's Alappuzha city. According to the video, the bride's mother who was struggling financially had approached the mosque's committee for help with her daughter's wedding.

“The Kerala Story" is based on alleged radicalisation and conversion of young Hindu women to Islam in Kerala, before inducting them into terrorist outfit Islamic State (IS).

The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to interfere with the release of the film. A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala refused to entertain a plea challenging CBFC certification granted to 'The Kerala Story'. "Think about the labour of actors, producers who put in a lot of work. A filmmaker invests a lot of money and time in making the film. Leave it to the market, the market will decide if it is not up to the mark," the bench said. The Madras high court too on Thursday dismissed a petition against the release of the controversial movie, ‘The Kerala Story’, which is slated to hit cinemas on 5 May. The Madras HC also rapped the petitioner for approaching it at the last hour, seeking a ban on the release of 'The Kerala Story'.

The petitioners have said that the film demeans the entire community and will endanger the lives and livelihood of Muslims.

“The movie begins by flashing a note that it has been inspired by true events.... it is falsely stated that 32,000 girls have left Kerala for West Asia to join ISIS even though the United Nations, the Union Home Ministry, police sources, and experts agree that the number of Indians who left to join ISIS is around 66 and the maximum number of pro-ISIS persons who may have shown inclination towards ISIS is in between 100 and 200," the petition said

With the film set to release today, Tamil Nadu is on high alert. Starring Adah Sharma, the film is written and directed by Sudipto Sen, and produced by Vipul Amrutlal Shah.

Source: livemint.com

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Property sale from Hindu to Muslim in Vadodara society gets green light after 8 years

Malay Dave had sold the property to Saeed and Zubeda Munshi in 2014. A registered sale deed was executed in 2015. However, prior permission of authorities was not sought for the property transfer, as it was not clear whether the said area was categorised as a “disturbed area”.

May 5, 2023

Property sale from Hindu to Muslim in Vadodara society gets green light after 8 yearsResidents protest at Samarpan Housing Society. (Express photo: Bhupendra Rana/File)

A property transfer and sale from a Hindu to a Muslim in Vadodara’s Samarpan Housing Society, stuck since 2014-15, has finally got the green light after eight years.

Vadodara Deputy Collector J J Patel, on April 29, ordered for the withdrawal of a notice issued by his office in 2015 that had asked the property proprietors to show cause why their sale deed should not be cancelled, as it was executed without prior permission from a competent authority, in spite of its requirement under the Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provision for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act, 1991 – commonly known as the Disturbed Areas Act.

Malay Dave had sold the property to Saeed and Zubeda Munshi in 2014. A registered sale deed was executed in 2015. However, prior permission of authorities was not sought for the property transfer, as it was not clear whether the said area was categorised as a “disturbed area”.

A third-party dispute in this regard was raised by the president of Samarpan Society, Manish Malhotra.

Invoking section 4(2) (b) of the Act, which allows for post-facto grant of permission by authorities to property transfer if the transfer was of free will and consent and fair price, the property sellers and purchasers had made a representation to the deputy collector, which was not considered.

The proprietors then moved before the special secretary of the revenue department, who remanded the matter back to the deputy collector for reconsideration in view of Section 4 (2) (b) of the Act.

However, the deputy collector rejected the proprietors’ contention for a second time, solely on the ground that prior permission of the authorities was not taken, without considering the provision available for post-facto permission.

The proprietors then moved Gujarat High Court, which in January this year remanded the matter back to the deputy collector, directing that the matter be reconsidered afresh, taking into account section 4 (2) (b) of the Act that permits for post-facto approval to transfer of property made in a “disturbed area”.

Reconsidering the same, Patel, in his order dated April 29, took into account affidavits and declaration from the proprietors that the property transfer was of free will and fair compensation.

The order noted, “From the date of sale till date, they (Munshis) have been residing at the said property and no one has suffered any inconvenience or loss and neither has any complaint been filed against them.”

Taking the same into consideration, Patel recalled the showcause notice, thus in effect permitting the earlier sale deed to exist now without any objections.

Source: indianexpress.com

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BJP, BSP’s Muslim Card Builds Suspense over Community Mood in UP

May 05, 2023

Political analysts say at many places, the BSP has fielded several Muslim candidates, especially for the mayoral seats. This has made the U.P. civic polls interesting. With the BJP also fielding several minority candidates, assessing the community’s support to any one party is difficult

Long queues of Muslims were seen outside polling booths in western Uttar Pradesh to cast their vote in the first phase of urban local body polls on Thursday. (Pic for representation)

Such queues, especially in minority-dominated districts, have long been used to interpret voting behaviour of the most influential and politically vocal minority segment.

In places like Saharanpur and Moradabad in west UP, where the Muslim population is over 30 per cent and in Muslim-majority Rampur where voting took place on Thursday, women clad in burqa and men in skull caps stood for long to cast their vote.

But some said assessing the minority mood just by looking at the number of burqa-clad and skull cap-wearing people in the voters’ queue, may not reveal the entire picture.

“Unlike previous occasions when Muslims standing in queue was automatically interpreted in a particular way, this time many were confused, for the BJP fielded 395 candidates of its own, the biggest batch of Muslim candidates ever. So, the long queues of community members also included supporters of candidates fielded by our party. At least two have been elected unopposed,” said BJP’s minority wing chief in west UP Javed Malik.

“At many places, the BSP has fielded several Muslim candidates, especially for the mayoral seats. Now, this has made the polls interesting. With the BJP also fielding several minority candidates, assessing the community’s support to any one party is difficult. In a way, after the 2022 UP polls when Muslims were believed to have backed the Samajwadi Party in a big way, this time, though their turnout was impressive, one can’t confidently state which way the minority voted,” said AP Tiwari, a political analyst.

However, Rafey Rana, brother of well-known Urdu poet Munawwar Rana told media persons that people in Muslim-dominated regions faced problems.

In Muslim-majority Rampur, where the BJP registered a win for the first time in Rampur (Sadar) assembly polls, SP and BJP workers clashed amid allegations of foul play in Madrasa Alia booth number 225-226.

In Saharanpur, some minority community members told media persons that they were made to wait for over several hours to cast their vote and alleged it was a deliberate attempt to stop minorities from casting vote.

The SP has maintained that the BJP’s victories in Rampur Lok Sabha by-poll in June 2022 and the assembly poll in Rampur (Sadar) were due to misuse of official machinery, a charge that the ruling party rejected. For the record, west UP districts like Shamli and Amroha witnessed over 60 per cent voter turnout. In Prayagraj, where posters appealed to the community against voting for BJP and SP, the overall voting percentage remained comparatively low.

“One way to assess which way the community voted is check if the minorities are keeping mum or singing paeans in BJP’s praise. It’s true that free rations have helped all poor. including Muslims,” a BJP leader said.

Source: hindustantimes.com

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https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/lucknow-news/long-queues-of-muslims-seen-at-polling-booths-in-lucknow-for-urban-local-body-polls-amidst-confusion-over-support-for-political-parties-101683227882410.html

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Pakistan

 

50 Members of 10 Hindu FamiliesWillingly Embrace Islam in Karachi

May 04, 2023

KARACHI/MIRPURKHAS:

At least 50 members from 10 Hindu families residing in different areas of Mirpurkhas division have embraced Islam, The Express Tribune learned on Thursday.

Mohammad Shamroz Khan, son of Minister for Religious Affairs, Senator Muhammad Talha Mahmood, attended the ceremony held at a local seminary - Bait-ul-Iman, New Muslim Colony.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Qari Taimur Rajput, one of the caretakers of the organisation, confirmed that 50 members of 10 families have converted to Islam.

“They all willingly converted to Islam. No one has forced them,” Rajput claimed quoting Khan. He also reportedly inquired from the new converts whether they willingly took the step during the conversion ceremony which was attended by several local residents.

Rajput added that the converts will stay in a local facility specially established in 2018 for the new Muslims converts.

During their four-month-long stay at the facility, the new converts will study and learn their new religion and the organisation will provide them clothes, food and medicines.

“We extend all possible support that these people need,” Rajput explained, saying, hundreds of people have been converting to Islam during the last five years.

He also informed that only families were being converted to Islam. “We do not convert an individual as that could create issues,” he added.

Rajput added that following the four-month stay at the facility, the converts will be allowed go anywhere.

On the other hand, Hindu activists expressed their grief and anger over the mass conversions.

Showing his anger, Faqir Shiva Kucchi, a Hindu activist, who raises his voice against the practice, said, “It seems that the state is involved in these conversions.”

He added that local community members have been demanding of the government for the last five years to initiate legislation against the practice.

“The conversions in Sindh are a serious issue and instead of taking measures to stop it, the federal minister’s son is part of the conversion,” he said.

“It is a matter of great concern for all of us [Hindus]. “We feel helplessness [now],” he said.

Kuchhi added that most of the converts were economically underprivileged and the local religious leaders take advantage of their state.

“They offer them financial support and convert them easily,” he alleged.

Source: tribune.com.pk

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https://tribune.com.pk/story/2415064/at-least-50-hindus-convert-to-islam-in-mirpurkhas

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Fms OfIndia, Pakistan Shook Hands And Exchanged Pleasantries

Kamran Yousaf

May 04, 2023

GOA, INDIA:

Foreign Ministers of Pakistan and India on Thursday shook hands and exchanged pleasantries at the dinner hosted for the delegates of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Goa on Thursday.

A Pakistani official present at the dinner confirmed to The Express Tribune that there was handshake between the two foreign ministers. Bilawal was the last minister to enter the venue. On his arrival Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishnakar stood up and shook his hands.

The official, however, downplayed it as a routine courtesy. Another official part of the Pakistani delegation said that they were treated well so far. “They treated us the same way as other delegates. The environment was cordial and positive,” the second official said.

Bilawal arrived in the Indian coastal resort of Goa on Thursday to take part in the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers. The foreign minister was received at the airport by senior officials of the Indian External Affairs Ministry.

“I am very happy that today I have arrived here leading the delegation of Pakistan,” the foreign minister told reporters upon his arrival. He hoped the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) would be very successful.

Prior to his arrival, Bilawal posted a video on Twitter, saying that his “decision to attend this meeting illustrates Pakistan’s strong commitment to the charter of SCO”. He said that his visit was focused exclusively on the SCO. “I look forward to constructive discussions with my counterparts from friendly countries.”

In Islamabad, the Foreign Office said in a statement that Pakistan’s participation in the two-day meeting reflected Pakistan’s commitment to the SCO Charter, processes and the importance that Islamabad accords to the region in its foreign policy priorities.

Hundreds of thousands throng to Goa every year, but fewer tourists visit the former Portuguese colony in the month of May because it is off season.

Nevertheless, Indian chose off season to host the SCO huddle that has generated lot of interest.

The SCO comprises China, Russia, Pakistan, India, and key Central Asian States. India, the current chair of the eight-member bloc, is hosting a series of events, including the CFM. The SCO-CFM usually doesn’t get much traction, but this is not the case this year.

The Goa meeting has generated much interest because the foreign minister of Pakistan is in attendance. He is the first Pakistani foreign minister to visit India since 2011and also the first by a senior Pakistani official since 2016, when Sartaj Aziz went to Delhi.

The foreign minister is accompanied by the foreign secretary and other senior officials on a visit that rekindles the hopes for an unlikely thaw in the relationship between the two countries.

“No matter what the forum is, when somehow Indian and Pakistani officials are in attendance it always overshadows the main event,” commented an Indian journalist, who otherwise was planning to cover meeting from New Delhi but had to change plans after Bilawal decided to attend.

But despite this hype Pakistan and India are treating this as a routine event. There is a general sense here that there is no appetite at the moment from the Indian side to re-engage with Pakistan.

Bilawal, too, dropped a clear hint that he had no plans to meet his Indian counterpart. But there will be occasions during the conference when Bilawal and S Jaishnakar will come face to face.

“Even there is a handshake or exchange of smiles that must not be seen as a breakthrough,” said a senior Foreign Office, official while requesting anonymity. “But if there is a pull-aside meeting that will certainly be a breakthrough,” the official added.

Meanwhile, on the first day of his visit Bilawal held a bilateral meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. During the meeting, they discussed bilateral, regional and international matters of mutual interest, according to Foreign Office in Islamabad.

The Foreign Office said that Bilawal assured Lavrov of working closely for further deepening the cooperation in food security, energy and people-to-people contacts. He said that the SCO opened new vistas of cooperation and coordination with Russia.

On Friday (today) Bilawal will attend the SCO-CFM, delivering a speech that will focus on regional security issues, climate change, Afghanistan and other matters. Under the SCO obligations no country would discuss bilateral issues.

The visit of the foreign minister is carefully choreographed from the Pakistani side. On Thursday Bilawal gave interviews to an international and a leading media house but those won’t be aired before Friday (today).

Also, Pakistan, despite having slim chance of any breakthrough in the bilateral ties is trying not to create any negativity. Therefore, Bilawal is unlikely to directly bring up the issue of Kashmir at the forum. However, he may make indirect reference to the dispute.

There is sense here that both sides are moving cautiously and not raising any hopes.

Indian journalists believe that with state elections round the corner in Karnataka and parliamentary polls early next year, the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) won’t like to take any steps leading to rapprochement with Pakistan.

Source: tribune.com.pk

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https://tribune.com.pk/story/2415048/india-pakistan-in-rare-handshake-moment

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Most wanted terrorist involved in Sri Lanka cricket team attack killed

May 04, 2023

Terrorist Iqbal alias Bali Khayara, who was a member of Al-Qaeda and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Khayara group, was killed in a police encounter near Fateh Moor in Dera Ismail Khan, police officials confirmed.

Iqbal was one of the most wanted terrorists, and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab police had announced a reward of Rs10.5 million for his capture, dead or alive.

Inspector-General of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Police (IGP) Akhtar Hayat Khan, while speaking to a private TV channel on Thursday, said the police retaliated after an attack carried out on them by Iqbal and killed him, along with an accomplice.

He said that Iqbal was wanted for 26 cases of terrorism and targeted killings. He was accused of targeted killings, terrorism and abduction of Shia Muslims in 21 cases by CTD DI Khan whereas he was also wanted by Multan police in five other cases.

Additionally, DI Khan police officials say that Iqbal was also involved in a recent suicide bombing at the District Headquarters Hospital, as well as the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore.

The attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team claimed the lives of seven police officials and left seven players including Mahela Jayawaredene, Kumar Sangakkara, Ajantha Mendis, Thilan Samaraweera, Tharanga Paranavitana and Chaminda Vaas injured.

The attack drove cricket and most other international sports from Pakistan for years which only returned after the security significantly improved in the terror-hit country.

Source: tribune.com.pk

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Chinese, Afghan FMs arrive in Islamabad today

May 05, 2023

ISLAMABAD:

Acting Afghan Foreign Minister Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi will arrive here on Friday (today) on a four-day visit to Pakistan to participate in the 5th China-Pakistan-Afghanistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue, the Foreign Office said on Thursday.

Muttaqi will lead a high-level delegation, including Acting Afghan Minister for Commerce and Industry Haji Nooruddin Azizi, and senior officials from the Afghan ministries of foreign affairs, transport, and trade, the Foreign Office added.

“The visit of the Acting Afghan Foreign Minister is a continuation of Pakistan’s political engagement process with Afghanistan,” the Foreign Office said. It added that Pakistan was committed to pursue practical engagement with the Afghan government.

The 5th China-Pakistan-Afghanistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue will be held on May 6. The Foreign Office said that Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang will also participate in the meeting.

During Muttaqi’s visit, the two sides would also “review the entire spectrum of bilateral relations in the political, economic, trade, connectivity, peace and security, and education domains”, according to the Foreign Office statement.

Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Mao Ning, confirmed that Foreign Minister Qin would visit Pakistan on May 5 to 6 and attend the three-way dialogue on Afghanistan.

Mao said that it would be Qin’s first visit to Pakistan as the country’s foreign minister. “The visit of Qin Gang is also an important part of the recent intensive interaction between China and Pakistan,” she said.

During the visit, Foreign Minister Qin would meet with the leaders of Pakistan, and co-chair the fourth strategic dialogue between the foreign ministers of China and Pakistan with Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

"Qin Gang will conduct face-to-face and in-depth communication on the relations between the two countries and the international and regional situation," she added. “China looks forward to exchanging views with Afghanistan and Pakistan on the situation and trilateral cooperation through this [trilateral] dialogue,” she added.

Source: tribune.com.pk

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Pakistan lags behind in curbing child marriages

May 05, 2023

LAHORE:

A report stated that Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan were ranked first, second, and third, respectively, in South Asian countries in reducing early marriages.

Although South Asia was leading the world in reducing child marriage, it would take 55 years to completely eradicate it if it did not accelerate, read a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report, while also acknowledging Pakistan’s efforts in this connection.

The report added that to achieve the goal of ending child marriages by 2030, the speed of reforms in South Asia should be accelerated seven times.

About 18% of girls in Pakistan are still married as children, numbering 1.9 million.

That means one in six girls in Pakistan are married at an early age, even though the legal minimum age for marriage in the country is 18 years.

However, the rate of child marriage in Pakistan is slightly better than the world average of 19%, especially in compared with India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, and Bhutan, which lag far behind.

Bangladesh has the highest child marriage rate in South Asia at 51%, while the lowest is in the Maldives at just 2%. India’s child marriage rate is 34%, where one in three girls are married at an early age.

Even though South Asia is leading in the world in reducing child marriage, yet one in four girls in the region is married before their 18th birthday.

The number of child brides in South Asian countries is around 300 million, which is 45% of the world population.

Three out of every four brides in the region give birth when they are still teenagers.

According to a UNICEF survey, 55% of brides in Pakistan believe that wife beating is permissible.

Around 41% of women in India and 33% in Bangladesh also consider violence by their husbands as valid.

“Girls who marry in childhood face immediate and lifelong consequences. They are less likely to remain in school, and face an increased risk of early pregnancy, in turn increasing the risk of child and maternal health complications and mortality,” a UNICEF news statement read.

It added that the practice could also isolate girls from family and friends, as well as exclude them from participating in their communities.

This takes a heavy toll on these girls’ mental health and well-being.

“Worldwide, conflict, climate-related disasters, and the ongoing impacts of Covid-19 -- especially rising poverty, income shocks, and school dropout -- are helping to increase the drivers of child marriage. [It is] also making it difficult for girls to access health care, education, social services and community support that protect them from child marriage,” it noted.

UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said they had proven that progress to end child marriage was possible.

“It requires unwavering support for vulnerable girls and families,” she added.

“We must focus on keeping girls in school and making sure they have economic opportunities,” the UNICEF official continued.

Source: tribune.com.pk

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https://tribune.com.pk/story/2415220/pakistan-lags-behind-in-curbing-child-marriages

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Europe

 

Turkish opposition is gay – Erdogan

4 May, 2023

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused his political rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, of being “LGBT,” ahead of next week’s elections. Erdogan’s government views LGBT ideology as an American and European “religion,” alien to Turkish morals.

“We know that Mr. Kemal is an LGBT person,” Erdogan told a rally in the city of Giresun on Thursday. “CHP is LGBT, IYI party is LGBT, HDP is LGBT,” he continued, listing off the political factions in Kilicdaroglu’s six-party National Alliance bloc.

“As the People’s Alliance, we are against this,” he declared, referring to his own political bloc. “Family is sacred to us. A strong family means a strong nation. No matter what they do, God is enough for us."

Erdogan has accused Kilicdaroglu and his allies of being pro-LGBT before, and made the same speech almost word-for-word at a rally in the town of Rize on Wednesday.

Kilicdaroglu is not an outspoken supporter of gay rights, but has promised to reinstate the Istanbul Convention if elected.

Signed by 45 countries plus the European Union in 2011, the convention aimed to strengthen legal penalties for violence against women, but Türkiye withdrew in 2021, stating that it had been “hijacked by a group of people attempting to normalize homosexuality.” This was likely a reference to the treaty’s listing of transgender women, who are biologically male, as women.

“They are trying to…ungender the whole of our society under the name of LGBT,” Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said of Kilicdaroglu and his allies in February. “If Kilicdaroglu wants to ungender himself and his colleagues, let him do so,” Soylu continued. “Family is important for us, woman is important for us, man is important for us.”

In a radio interview last month, Soylu claimed that the “LGBTQ” designation “includes the marriage of animals and humans.” He went on to describe LGBT ideology as a “religion,” and LGBT activists as “completely under the control of America and Europe.”

Kilicdaroglu has largely avoided personal attacks on Erdogan and Soylu, instead making heavy use of pro-Western rhetoric in his speeches. The 74-year-old former civil servant has promised to immediately restart EU accession talks if elected, and to implement reforms demanded by Brussels.

Opinion polls currently show Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu in a statistical dead heat.

Source: rt.com

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South American nation blasts US over cruel treatment of migrants

5 May, 2023

Bogota has suspended the repatriation of citizens from the US, citing cruel treatment of migrants and repeated 11th-hour cancelations of flights, the local authorities have said.

In a statement on Thursday, Fernando Garcia Manosalva, Colombia’s migration agency director, said the country expects to receive around 1,200 migrants – mostly women and minors – back from the US between May 1 and 7 as part of a pilot plan to alleviate pressure on America’s southern border.

However, the agency accused the US of breaching agreements on the matter. Manosalva claimed that the flights scheduled for May 1 and 2 were both canceled by North American migration agencies, and this was not the first time.

Bogota also complained of what it called the “cruel and degrading” treatment Colombians receive from the authorities before and during the flights. The migration agency director pointed to “the use of restrictive elements such as hand and foot handcuffs, even for mothers,” adding that the matter is being discussed with the US authorities.

In addition, “there are recurring complaints about the poor conditions in detention centers and mistreatment during flights, which represented a determining factor in the decisions taken in the last few hours,” Manosalva stated.

An unnamed US official told Reuters that the pause only applies to flights carrying families.

The number of Colombians entering the US has increased in recent years, with around 125,000 migrants apprehended at the southern border, according to US Customs and Borders Protection data.

The pilot plan seeks to repatriate 1,200 Colombians before the expiration of Title 42, a controversial Trump-era order which allows the US to expel migrants from countries where a communicable disease – including Covid-19 – is present. The order is set to lapse on May 11 when the Covid-19 public health emergency is set to end.

Human rights advocates have repeatedly voiced concerns about US immigration policies. In April 2022, a Human Rights First report claimed that the administration of US President Joe Biden had put tens of thousands of migrants in jails in violation of international law, subjecting them to physical and psychological harm.

Source: rt.com

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Meet the Czech lawyer who rallies thousands to shake up the EU establishment

4 May, 2023

In mid-April, a fledgling political party that recently formed in the Czech Republic called Pravo Respekt Odbornost (Law Respect Expertise; PRO) whipped up a large protest in Prague’s Wenceslas Square.

Thousands turned out for the PRO rally on April 16th – nearly 100,000 by the party’s own count. They rallied against the crippling inflation biting the country’s working class and called for the resignation of the ruling center-right coalition government of Prime Minister Petr Fiala.

Pro-Western outlets, like Voice of America, as well as the mainstream Czech media, have described the group as pro-Kremlin and xenophobic. An earlier protest staged by the group in front of the National Museum in Prague saw rallygoers shout out “Go Home!” to counter-protestors holding Ukrainian flags, apparently telling Ukrainian refugees to leave the Czech Republic for good.

During the April 16 protest, the lead organizer of the group, Jindrich Rajchl, told the crowd, “We want the government’s resignation” while the crowd chanted, “Resign, resign.”

Rajchl’s group has not been alone. Prague has been experiencing continual waves of protests since September of last year attended by the center-left Action of Dissatisfied Citizens (ANO), far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) and the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM). One protest on September 3 gathered an estimated 70,000 people.

PRO is just the latest group to tap into a broad populist swath of Czechs that are unhappy with their government’s foreign policy, ability to manage the inflation crisis, and its (admittedly poor) style of communication. After their large protest in mid-April, PRO continued a sit-in at Prague’s Straka Academy, which is the working area of the prime minister. I met up with Rajchl, who is a lawyer by profession, and his fellow protestors on April 17 to get a sense of what was really going on.

“We sent them (the government) about two months ago our requirements, which are positive and very constructive, and we requested a reaction, which is based on the reaction of hundreds of thousands of Czechs, and they haven’t reacted at all,” Rajchl told me. According to him, the group plans to “level up” their protests and continue to apply pressure as long as the government ignores their proposals.

Rajchl asserts that the government’s financial problems aren’t solely due to its lethal support to Ukraine, which is just “one piece” of the issue. “The problem is that they are not able to manage the finances here in the Czech Republic,” he explained. He also noted that the Czech Republic has the highest electricity prices in the European Union while being one of the largest energy exporters, which he said is “completely absurd.” For his part, Prime Minister Fiala has questioned official data published by the European Union on this, saying it does not reflect reality.

The organizer also called attention to the issue of freedom of speech. He is, notably, the attorney of Martina Bednarova, a Czech school teacher who allegedly parroted pro-Russian misinformation. She now faces criminal and civil penalties. But according to Rajchl, she merely encouraged her students to think for themselves about the Ukraine crisis.

He also mentioned Miroslav Sevcik, a dean at Prague’s University of Economics and Business, who attended a PRO rally and was pushed by police, caught on video, and encouraged to resign by some students for his attendance. His faculty has since backed his employment despite public pressure.

On the issue of NATO, which has been the focus of much of the local media, Rajchl didn't say that he wants the Czech Republic to abandon the organization outright. Rather, he explained that he would be in support of NATO ending its adventurism around the world, such as in Afghanistan or Iraq. “A lot is made of Article Five – but no one talks about Article One and Two, which require members to resolve issues peacefully and to contribute to the further development of peace,” he told me.

When we picked up our interview on April 28, Rajchl spoke about his political influences. Perhaps to some people’s surprise, it’s not Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, but actually Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis and even fellow RT columnist Scott Ritter – all Americans.

Rajchl revealed himself to be extremely anti-vaccine and vowed to sue European politicians connected to large vaccine producers should he be elected to the European Parliament in the future. He also wants to cut spending on some social services, such as universities, and pass the financial burdens of tuition onto students. However, these fees would be far less than, for example, in the United States. It is meant to help rein in the Czech Republic’s out-of-control public finances that were, until recently, the envy of Europe.

Despite our disagreements on these issues, he mostly appeared to be someone who wants to tell the truth – even at great cost. We spoke, for example, about the hypocrisy of Czech foreign policy through the years and he mentioned the excellent example of Serbia.

For instance, when Tomas Masaryk, the president and founder of the first Czechoslovak state in the early 20th century, had his passport confiscated by the Austro-Hungarian Empire for his secessionist activity, Serbia gave him a passport. He used it to travel abroad and organize Czechoslovak dissidents. Later, when Hitler, along with the West, bit off a piece of the country – the Sudetenland – tens of thousands of Yugoslav fighters were sent by their government to fight against the superior force. But they were called off.

In 1968, during the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia led by Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, Yugoslavia protested in what was part of the Soviet-Yugoslav split. Essentially, every time Serbia – and later Yugoslavia – had a chance to side with the Czechs, they did so without question. But, when Czechoslovakia and later the Czech Republic itself joined the West, President Vaclav Havel joined the coalition to bomb Serbia and Yugoslavia to hell. In fact, current President Petr Pavel is a decorated war “hero” of the Yugoslav wars and a former NATO chief.

Despite the accusations, Rajchl and his party are not a Russian fifth column. They are actually products of a perhaps long-forgotten political tradition in the Czech Republic. More than anything, they are seeking to return the country to a course that it has since deviated from. According to polling commissioned by his campaign, he’s currently just over the 5% threshold needed to get into parliament in the 2025 election, and he hopes to form a coalition government with other opposition parties.

Source: rt.com

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https://www.rt.com/news/575710-czech-opposition-prague-policy/

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Israel claims Iran can make nuclear bombs

4 May, 2023

Iran already possesses the means to make as many as five nuclear bombs, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant claimed on Thursday during a visit to Athens. Tehran would not stop at creating just one nuclear weapon, the minister insisted, adding that such a development would have grave consequences for the entire Middle East.

“Make no mistake — Iran will not be satisfied by a single nuclear bomb. So far, Iran has gained material enriched to 20% and 60% for five nuclear bombs,” Gallant told his Greek counterpart, Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, the Times of Israel reported.

He noted, however, that uranium needs to be enriched to at least 90% purity to make a nuclear weapon. “Iranian progress, and enrichment to 90%, would be a grave mistake on Iran’s part, and could ignite the region,” the defense minister warned.

In March, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley predicted that Tehran could produce enough nuclear material for a bomb within weeks. The US general admitted, however, that the Islamic Republic would still need “several months” to make it into a bomb.

According to Milley, Washington “remains committed as a matter of policy that Iran will not have a fielded nuclear weapon.” His choice of words sparked concerns in West Jerusalem, as senior Israeli officials questioned whether the US would tolerate the Iranian “nuclear weapons program” as long as no nuclear bomb was mounted on a missile or another delivery system.

The US general clarified his earlier remarks by removing the word “fielded.” Tehran has itself repeatedly denied seeking a nuclear weapon and has argued that its nuclear program remains purely peaceful.

It has still been gradually increasing the level of uranium enrichment beyond the limits set by the 2015 accord it reached with world powers. Iran began doing so after then-US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal back in 2018.

Attempts to revive the deal under US President Joe Biden have so far been unsuccessful. Tehran reportedly rejected Washington’s latest attempt to strike a deal that would limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the sanctions freeze.

Tensions between Tehran and West Jerusalem have been running high recently. In mid-April, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned that any hostile move from Israel would “lead to the destruction of Haifa and Tel Aviv.”

On Thursday, Gallant claimed that “Iran supports, finances, trains and equips terror groups across the Middle East and around the world,” and accused it of “sponsoring” attacks on Israel from Lebanon, Gaza, and Syria.

Source: rt.com

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Pope defrocks priest accused of genocide

4 May, 2023

Pope Francis has expelled a Rwandan-born priest who had been working for nearly three decades as a clergyman in northern France, where he fled following the genocide in his homeland. The order instructs the priest to “avoid places where his previous status is known.”

The Pontiff’s decision to remove Wenceslas Munyeshyaka from the clerical state was dated March 23, and was announced on Monday. It is based on the priest’s admission that he fathered a child in 2010, Catholic outlet La Croix International reported on Thursday.

Munyeshyaka “automatically loses all rights” associated with his ordination and is “excluded from the exercise of the sacred ministry,” according to a statement circulating online signed by the bishop of the diocese of Evreux.

Bishop Christian Nourrichard said the priest’s removal is not “subject to any appeal” and begins with “immediate effect.”

Munyeshyaka, who was the head of a parish in the Evreux diocese, was suspended by the bishop in December 2021 after he reportedly admitted being the father of a 10-year-old boy “from an affair he had in Gisors.”

Ordained a priest in 1992, Munyeshyaka was accused in 1995 of participating in the genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda, including the rape of women and executions at his church in Kigali. According to the United Nations, an estimated 800,000 people were massacred in the genocide, which lasted 100 days between April and July 1994.

French courts cleared Munyeshyaka of criminal charges in the 20-year case in 2015 due to a lack of substantial evidence.

Munyeshyaka’s dismissal “is not related” to the genocide allegations, and is based on the conclusion of an investigation relating to his suspension in 2021, the dioceses clarified, as reported by La Croix.

Source: rt.com

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South Asia

 

Afghanistan: 'Nothing We Can Do But Watch Babies Die' From Illnesses That Could Be Cured With The Right Medication

By Yogita Limaye

Afghanistan correspondent

Three-month-old Tayabullah is quiet and motionless. His mother Nigar moves the oxygen pipe away from his nose and puts a finger below his nostrils to check if she can feel him breathing.

She begins to cry as she realises her son is fading.

At this hospital in Afghanistan, there is not a single working ventilator.

Mothers hold oxygen tubes near their babies' noses because masks designed to fit their small faces are not available, and the women are trying to fill in for what trained staff or medical equipment should do.

Every day, 167 children die in Afghanistan from preventable diseases, according to the UN children's fund Unicef - illnesses that could and should be cured with the right medication.

It is a staggering number. But it's an estimate.

And when you step inside the paediatric ward of the main hospital in the western province of Ghor, you will be left wondering if that estimate is too low.

Multiple rooms are full of sick children, at least two in each bed, their little bodies ravaged by pneumonia. Just two nurses look after 60 children.

In one room, we saw at least two dozen babies who appeared to be in a serious condition. The children should have been continuously monitored in critical care - impossible at this hospital.

Yet, for the million people who live in Ghor, this basic facility is still the best equipped public hospital they can access.

Public healthcare in Afghanistan has never been adequate, and foreign money which almost entirely funded it was frozen in August 2021 when the Taliban seized power. Over the past 20 months, we have visited hospitals and clinics across this country, and witnessed them collapsing.

Now the Taliban's recent ban on women working for NGOs means it's becoming harder for humanitarian agencies to operate, putting even more children and babies at risk.

Already defeated by a lack of resources, medics at the Ghor hospital used whatever little they had to try to revive Tayabullah.

Dr Ahmad Samadi was called in to check his condition, fatigue and stress visible on his face. He put a stethoscope to Tayabullah's chest - there was a faint heartbeat.

Nurse Edima Sultani rushed in with an oxygen pump. She put it over Tayabullah's mouth, blowing air into it. Then Dr Samadi used his thumbs to perform compressions on the boy's tiny chest.

Watching on looking stricken was Tayabullah's grandfather Ghawsaddin. He told us his grandson was suffering from pneumonia and malnutrition.

"It took eight hours on rubble roads to bring him here from our district Charsadda," Ghawsaddin said. The family, who can only afford to eat dry bread for meals, scraped together money to pay for the ride.

For half an hour, the efforts to revive his grandson continued. Nurse Sultani then turned towards Nigar and told her Tayabullah had died.

The sudden silence which had enveloped the room was broken by Nigar's sobs. Her baby boy was wrapped in a blanket and handed over to Ghawsaddin. The family carried him home.

Tayabullah should be alive - every disease he had was curable.

"I'm also a mother and when I saw the baby die, I felt like I've lost my own child. When I saw his mother weeping, it broke my heart. It hurt my conscience," said Nurse Sultani, who frequently does 24-hour shifts.

"We don't have equipment and there is a lack of trained staff, especially female staff. When we are looking after so many in serious conditions, which child should we check on first? There's nothing we can do but watch babies die."

Minutes later, in the room next door, we saw another child in severe distress, with an oxygen mask on her face, struggling to breathe.

Two-year-old Gulbadan was born with a heart defect, a condition called patent ductus arteriosus. It was diagnosed six months ago at this hospital.

Doctors have told us the condition is not uncommon or hard to treat. But Ghor's main hospital is not equipped to perform routine surgery that could fix it. It also doesn't have the medicines she needs.

Gulbadan's grandmother Afwa Gul held down her small arms, to try to prevent the little girl from pulling down her mask.

"We borrowed money to take her to Kabul, but we couldn't afford surgery, so we had to bring her back," she said. They approached an NGO to get financial help. Their details were registered but there's been no response since then.

Gulbadan's father Nawroze stroked her forehead, trying to soothe his daughter who winced with every breath she took. Stress etched on his face, he pursed his lips and let out a sigh of resignation. He told us Gulbadan had recently begun to talk, forming her first words, calling out to him and other members of their family.

"I'm a labourer. I don't have a stable income. If I had money, she would never have suffered this way. At this moment, I can't even afford to buy one cup of tea," he said.

I asked Dr Samadi how much oxygen Gulbadan needs.

"Two litres every minute," he said. "When this cylinder gets empty, if we don't find another one, she will die."

When we went back later to check on Gulbadan, we were told that's exactly what had happened. The oxygen cylinder had run out, and she died.

The oxygen production unit at the hospital isn't able to produce sufficient oxygen because it only has power at night, and there isn't a steady supply of raw material.

In a matter of a few hours, two children died of diseases that could have been prevented or cured. It's a crushing but all too familiar blow for Dr Samadi and his colleagues.

"I feel exhaustion and agony. Every day we lose one or two beloved children of Ghor. We have almost got accustomed to it now," he said.

Walking around the rooms, we saw an overwhelming number of children in distress. One-year-old Sajad's breathing was raspy. He's suffering from pneumonia and meningitis.

In another bed is Irfan. When his breathing became more laboured, his mother Zia-rah was given another oxygen pipe to hold near his nose.

Wiping tears that rolled down her cheeks with her upper arm, she carefully held both pipes as steady as she could. She told us she would have brought Irfan to the hospital at least four or five days earlier if the roads had not been blocked by snow.

So many simply can't make it to hospital, and others choose not to stay once they get there.

"Ten days ago a child was brought here in a very critical condition," Nurse Sultani said. "We gave him an injection, but we didn't have the medicines to cure him.

"So his father decided to take him home. 'If he has to die, let him die at home'," he told me.

What we saw in Ghor raises serious questions about why public healthcare in Afghanistan is crumbling so quickly, when billions of dollars were poured into it by the international community for 20 years until 2021.

Where was that money spent, if a provincial hospital doesn't have a single ventilator for its patients?

Currently there is a stop-gap arrangement in place. Because money can't be given directly to the internationally unrecognised Taliban government, humanitarian agencies have stepped in to fund salaries of medical staff and the cost of medicines and food, that are just about keeping hospitals like the one in Ghor running.

Now, that funding, already sorely inefficient, could also be at risk. Aid agencies warn that their donors might cut back because the Taliban's restrictions on women, including its ban on Afghan women working for the UN and NGOs, violates international laws.

Only 5% of the UN's appeal for Afghanistan has been funded so far.

We drove up one of the hills near the Ghor hospital to a burial ground. There are no records or registers here, not even a caretaker. So it's not possible to find out who the graves belong to, but it's easy to distinguish big graves from small ones.

From what we saw, a disproportionate number - at least half - of the new graves belong to children. A man who lives in a house close by also told us most of those they are burying these days are children.

There may be no way to count how many children are dying, but there is evidence everywhere of the scale of the crisis.

Additional reporting by Imogen Anderson and Sanjay Ganguly

Source: bbc.com

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https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-65449259

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Afghan Interim Authorities Do Not Receive US Aid: US State Dept

May 5, 2023

Vedant Patel, principal deputy spokesperson at the US Department of State told Afghanistan International that the mechanism of sending aid and cooperating with relief organizations is such that the Taliban de facto authorities cannot use the aid.

The US special envoy for aid to Afghanistan said that Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) and the US States Department do not exactly know how much money the Taliban receive from the United Nations aid and international organizations. 

In response to these claims, Patel reiterated that the US has confidence in the aid distribution mechanism to Afghanistan, and is sure that the aid will reach the Afghan people, Afghanistan International Reported.

“The Taliban will not benefit from the US aid to Afghanistan. The mechanism we use and our cooperation with the UN and aid organizations is reassuring,” Patel said.

The US Congress had assigned ISGAR in March to determine how much US money the Taliban receives through paying taxes, fees, import duties, purchasing or obtaining licenses, or public services.

SIGAR’s new report has failed to provide a definitive response to Congress’s question. Previously also, at a hearing of the US Foreign Relations Committee, it was discussed that due to the lack of cooperation between the US Department of State and aid organizations, no comprehensive information about the use of US aid to Afghanistan by the Taliban is not available.

Patel rejected the possibility of the Taliban benefiting from the US aid in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press on Wednesday reported that the Taliban are interfering in the work of non-governmental and aid organizations in different ways and harassing them.

Source: khaama.com

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Afghanistan Acting FM Muttaqi to Lead High-Level Delegation to Pakistan Tomorrow

May 4, 2023

Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday that Acting Afghan Foreign Minister Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi will lead a high-level delegation to the country Friday.

“Acting Afghan Foreign Minister Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi is visiting Pakistan from May 5 to May 8 2023,” the Foreign Office (FO) said in a statement.

“He will lead a high-level delegation, which includes Acting Afghan Minister for Commerce and Industry Haji Nooruddin Azizi and senior officials from the Afghan Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Transport and Trade.”

It also said that apart from holding bilateral meetings, the acting Afghan foreign minister will participate in the 5th China-Pakistan-Afghanistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue on May 6.

The focus of the meeting will be strengthening the bilateral relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“During the visit, the two sides will review the entire spectrum of bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan in the political, economic, trade, connectivity, peace and security, and education domains,” the statement read.

“Pakistan is desirous of a peaceful, prosperous, stable and connected Afghanistan and reiterates its commitment to pursue continuous and practical engagement with the interim Afghan government,” the FO added.

In addition, it is believed that, among other issues, the rising security threats posed by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan TTP) will also be part of the agenda.

It is also worth mentioning that Afghanistan is strategically located on a trade and transit corridor connecting South and Central Asia. It has untapped mineral riches worth billions of dollars.

In this regard, Afghanistan can play a bridging role in South and Central Asia on the one hand and is significant for China’s giant One Belt One Road project.

Source: khaama.com

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https://www.khaama.com/afghanistan-acting-fm-mutaqqi-to-lead-high-level-delegation-to-pakistan-tomorrow/

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Helmand Education Dept Says 93 New Schools to Be Built

05-05-23

The department's officials also noted that 32 schools in Helmand have undergone renovation since the Islamic Emirate came to power, and this work is still ongoing.

"Our plan for this year is to build schools in a fundamental way, build walls for 20 schools, and build student restrooms for another 20 schools,” said Mohammad Ismail, director of general education of the Helmand Department of Education.

Students asked the Islamic Emirate to rebuild their schools so that they can continue studying in a peaceful environment.

"The problem that we are facing is that our school is not built properly, we don't have any toilets. it is very cold in winter,” said Abdul Ali, a student.

“Our school does not have four walls; the office and our classrooms are old. There are many of us, there is no place to sit in the classroom,” said Zameer, a student.

Helmand residents urged the current government to speed up the process of rebuilding schools.

"There are 350 to 400 students. We ask them to build a school here for us,” said Pir Mohammad, a resident of Helmand.

"We ask the Islamic Emirate to build walls for the school and specify its place because the school is close to the road,” said Rahmatullah, a resident of Helmand.

According to data from the Helmand Department of Education, the province now has 419 schools, 234 of which do not have buildings.

Source: tolonews.com

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https://tolonews.com/afghanistan/provincial-183232

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SRK-starrer ‘Pathaan’ becomes first Hindi film to release in Bangladesh post 1971

5th May 2023

Mumbai: Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s blockbuster ‘Pathaan’ will now become the first Hindi film to release in Bangladesh post 1971. It is set to release on May 12 in Bangladesh.

Nelson D’Souza, Vice President, International Distribution, said, “Cinema has always been a unifying force between nations, races and cultures. It transcends borders, galvanises people and plays a significant hand in bringing people together.”

“We are incredibly thrilled that ‘Pathaan’, which has done historic business worldwide, will now get a chance to entertain audiences in Bangladesh!”

He adds, “Pathaan becomes the first Hindi film to release in Bangladesh post 1971 and we are thankful to the authorities for their decision. We have learnt over the years that Shah Rukh Khan has tremendous fan following in Bangladesh and we feel Pathaan, our latest offering from YRF’s Spy Universe, is the perfect first film of SRK & Hindi cinema to release in the country and represent Indian culture and cinema in its full glory.”

‘Pathaan’ is also the highest grossing film of the fabled YRF’s Spy Universe that also includes blockbusters like ‘Ek Tha Tiger’, ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ and ‘War’.

Source: siasat.com

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https://www.siasat.com/srk-starrer-pathaan-becomes-first-hindi-film-to-release-in-bangladesh-post-1971-2582548/

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Rohingya delegation visits Myanmar amid latest repatriation plans

5 May 2023

A Rohingya refugee delegation has arrived in Myanmar to tour new facilities built for the revival of a long-stalled plan to return the persecuted minority to their homeland.

Bangladesh officials said on Friday that 20 Rohingya and seven officials, including a border guard officer, were visiting two model villages erected for the pilot return project.

“We departed from Teknaf jetty with 20 Rohingya members, including three women,” Bangladesh’s deputy refugee commissioner Mohammed Khalid Hossain told the AFP news agency.

“They will see the various facilities created for the purpose of repatriation to Myanmar,” he said as their boat left the river port for neighbouring Maungdaw township in Rakhine state, Myanmar.

Bangladesh is home to about a million Rohingya, most of whom fled a 2017 military crackdown in neighbouring Myanmar that is now subject to a UN genocide investigation.

Both countries signed an agreement to return the refugees later that year, but little progress has been made since, and the UN has repeatedly warned conditions were not right for their repatriation.

Bangladesh refugee commissioner Mizanur Rahman told AFP the new facilities include a market, hospital and reception centre for returning refugees. Officials have told AFP they expect repatriations to begin later this month, before the annual monsoon season.

Rohingya concerns

Rohingya refugees, who have spent nearly six years living in overcrowded and squalid camps in Bangladesh, have been consistently wary and sceptical of the scheme since it became public knowledge in March.

Many worry that none of their concerns about security or recognition of their right to citizenship in the Southeast Asian nation has been answered.

“Why will we be sent to Myanmar without citizenship?” a refugee, who said they were also part of Friday’s delegation, told AFP earlier this week, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Rohingya are widely viewed in Myanmar as interlopers from Bangladesh, despite roots in the country stretching back centuries.

The repatriation plan agreed to in 2017 failed to make any significant headway in the years since, partly over concerns the Rohingya would not be safe if they returned.

Myanmar’s military had until recently shown little inclination to take back any Rohingya, who have for years been denied citizenship and subjected to abuse.

Military chief and ruler Min Aung Hlaing has dismissed the Rohingya identity as “imaginary”, and was also the head of the armed forces during the 2017 crackdown.

‘Must be voluntary’

The UN refugee agency said it was aware of the trip, which was taking place “under a bilateral arrangement between Bangladesh and Myanmar”.

“UNHCR is not involved in arranging this visit. However, we reiterate that every refugee has an inalienable right to return to their home country,” agency spokesperson Regina De La Portilla told AFP.

“Refugee returns must be voluntary, in safety and dignity,” she added. “No refugee should be forced to do so.”

The International Court of Justice is probing allegations of rape, murder and arson against entire Rohingya villages by Myanmar’s security forces during the 2017 violence.

In a 2018 report, the UN called for army chief Hlaing and other generals to face genocide charges.

Rohingya refugees struggle with food aid cuts during Ramadan

Source: aljazeera.com

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https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/5/5/rohingya-delegation-visits-myanmar-amid-latest-repatriation-plans

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Mideast

 

Iran’s Raisi meets with top Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials, urges Israel’s defeat

4 May 2023,

Iran’s president met senior Palestinian officials in Damascus and expressed his country’s support Thursday as Tehran and Syria signed a series of agreements.

Damascus-based Palestinian official Khaled Abdul-Majid told The Associated Press that the delegation — which included top leaders from the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups — briefed Iran’s Ebrahim Raisi on the situation in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza Strip.

Iran has been a main backer of some Palestinian factions, supplying them with weapons and money.

“The Palestinian leaders thanked Iran for its support to the resistance and the Palestinian cause,” Abdul-Majid, who attended the talks, said after the meeting. Abdul-Majid, who is a leader of the Syrian government-allied Palestinian Resistance Factions Coalition, added that Raisi confirmed to the Palestinian officials that Iran will continue supporting the Palestinians.

Among the Palestinians in attendance was Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Nakhaleh, who is based in Syria, and Khalil al-Hayya, a senior member in the Gaza-ruling Hamas.

According to a statement from Raisi’s office, the Iranian president urged Muslims to “use all their capacities to achieve the violated rights of Palestine and the freedom of the holy Quds [Jerusalem].”

“Today more than ever, the unity and cohesion of the resistance forces, the region and the Islamic world is necessary to accelerate the defeat of the Zionist regime and the liberation of the holy Quds and the sovereignty of the Palestinians over their destiny,” Raisi was quoted as saying.

He added: “We consider the collapse of the Zionist regime, whose effects are visible, to be very close.”

Turning to the Abraham Accords normalization agreements that Israel signed in 2020 with the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco, Raisi said that the Trump administration, which brokered the agreements “forced some governments to restore relations with the Zionists, but what actually happened was [Israel] reneging on its promises and continuing to violate Palestinians’ rights and to commit murder and plunder.”

However, those who signed those deals with Israel have now seen the error of their ways, Raisi claimed. “It reached a point where the supporters of the normalization of relations are facing protests and questions by their own people and realized that there is no other path but to resist and stand against the Zionist regime.”

Raisi began a two-day visit to Syria during which the two allies signed a series of long-term cooperation agreements on oil and other sectors to bolster economic ties. Raisi held talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad and visited holy shrines for Shiite Muslims near the capital Damascus.

Tehran has been a main backer of Assad’s government since a 2011 uprising turned into full-blown civil war and has played an instrumental role in turning the tide of the conflict in his favor.

Iran has sent scores of military advisers and thousands of Iran-backed fighters from around the Middle East to Syria to fight on Assad’s side. Tehran has also been an economic lifeline for Assad, sending fuel and credit lines worth billions of dollars.

Syrian government forces have regained control of large parts of the country in recent years, with the help of its two main allies — Russia and Iran.

With Arab governments that once advocated Assad’s downfall now slowly making amends with Damascus, Iran appears to be hoping to reap the rewards for its decades-long support of the Syrian president with investment and economic opportunities to help alleviate its own ailing economy.

Syrian state media said Raisi and Assad signed agreements and memorandums of understanding related to several sectors, including oil, agriculture, railways and free trade zones.

Iran’s state-owned railway company has long aspired to expand its network through neighboring Iraq and Syria, linking it to the Syrian port of Latakia on the Mediterranean Sea to boost trade. Syria’s opposition and Tehran critics see this as another Iran attempt at growing its political influence.

The deals are important also for Syria, whose economy has hit an all-time low over the past decade, with spiraling inflation, a currency plunge and rampant power cuts.

The last Iranian president to visit Syria was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2010.

Source: timesofisrael.com

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https://www.timesofisrael.com/irans-raisi-meets-with-top-hamas-and-islamic-jihad-officials-urges-israels-defeat/

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1000s Palestinian Worshipers Pray in Al-Aqsa and Ibrahimi Mosques

5 May, 2023

Thousands of Palestinian citizens performed Friday, May 5, 2023, Al-Fajr prayer (Dawn prayer) at the blessed Al-Aqsa and Ebrahimi Mosques to confront Israeli settlers’ storming and the Judaization schemes into the two mosques.

The Al-Aqsa mosque witnessed a high presence of Palestinian worshipers who came from the occupied Jerusalem, West Bank, and the 1948-occupied Palestinian territories.

In the occupied Hebron, hundreds of Palestinian worshipers performed the AL-Fajr prayer in the Ebrahimi Mosque and confirmed their insistence to protect the mosque from the Israeli occupation and colonizers’ violations.

They also rejected the systematic closure of the mosque, banning the call to prayer, and preventing Palestinians to pray in their own mosque.

days ago, Jerusalmite activists called for wide participation in the Great Dawn campaign, which calls to intensify the Palestinians’ presence in the mosque to thwart the Judaization schemes and Israeli settlers’ attempts to divide it temporally and spatially.

The Great Dawn campaign started for the first time in November 2022 in the Ebrahimi mosque in Hebron in response to Israeli settlers’ repeated attacks and storming of the mosque. Then, it moved to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Source: daysofpalestine.ps

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https://daysofpalestine.ps/1000s-palestinian-worshipers-pray-in-al-aqsa-and-ibrahimi-mosques/

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Dozens of Israeli Colonizers Storm Al-Aqsa Mosque

5 May, 2023

Dozens of Israeli colonizers stormed Friday morning, May 5, 2023, the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, from the Iron Gate, under the strict protection of the Israeli occupation forces.

The Palestinian media reported that dozens of extremist Israeli colonizers stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque and performed Talmudic prayers at the Iron Gate to AL-Aqsa Mosque.

Days ago, the alleged Jewish temple group called for a great storming into the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Federation of Extremist Temple Organizations has set Thursday 18-5-2023 as the date for the central great storming, on the occasion of the anniversary of the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem.

On the other side, the Israeli occupation forces continued to impose restrictions on the entry of Palestinians to Al-Aqsa and withheld their personal identities at its external gates.

Every day, except for Friday and Saturday, Al-Aqsa Mosque witnesses a series of violations and incursions by Israeli settlers, under the protection of the Israeli occupation forces, to impose full control over the mosque and divide it temporally and spatially.

Source: daysofpalestine.ps

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https://daysofpalestine.ps/dozens-of-israeli-colonizers-storm-al-aqsa-mosque/

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Israel seized Binance crypto accounts to 'thwart' Islamic State, document shows

May 5, 2023

By Reuters: Israel has seized around 190 crypto accounts at crypto exchange Binance since 2021, including two it said were linked to Islamic State and dozens of others it said were owned by Palestinian firms connected to the Islamist Hamas group, documents released by the country's counter-terror authorities show.

Israel's National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing (NBCTF) on January 12 confiscated two Binance accounts and their contents, one of the documents on the NBCTF's website showed. The seizure was to "thwart the activity" of Islamic State and "impair its ability to further its goals," the NBCTF said on its website.

The NBCTF document, which has not been previously reported, did not give any details on the value of the crypto seized, nor how the accounts were connected to the Islamic State.

Binance, the world's largest crypto exchange by trading volumes, did not respond to Reuters' calls and emails seeking comment. Israel's defence ministry, which is responsible for the NBCTF, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Under Israeli law, the country's defence minister can order the seizure and confiscation of assets that the ministry deems related to terrorism.

Regulators globally have long called for tighter controls on crypto exchanges to prevent illegal activities, from money laundering to the financing of terrorism. The seizures by Israel's NBCTF highlight how governments are targeting crypto companies in their efforts to prevent illegal activity.

Binance, founded in 2017 by CEO Changpeng Zhao, says on its website it reviews information requests from governments and law enforcement agencies on a case-by-case basis, disclosing information as legally required.

Binance has also said it checks users for connections to terrorism and has "continued to invest tremendous resources to enhance its compliance program," it told U.S. senators in March in response to their requests for information on Binance's regulatory compliance and finances.

Source: indiatoday.in

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https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/israel-crypto-accounts-binance-islamic-state-palestinian-nbctf-2368766-2023-05-05

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Vietnam's Vice President Vo Thi visits Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

4th May, 2023

Vietnam's Vice President Vo Thi Anh Xuan and her accompanying delegation, on Thursday visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (SZGM).

They began their tour with a visit to the final resting place of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and recalled the Founding Father’s qualities and wise approach that enriched the culture of tolerance and peaceful coexistence among various nations of the world.

She toured the mosque and was briefed about its halls and external corridors.

During the tour, they were briefed about the mosque’s noble message that highlights notions of coexistence, tolerance, and openness to other cultures, inspired by the nation’s late founder’s rich legacy, and about the mosque’s leading role in highlighting the Islamic culture’s true essence and promoting cross-cultural communication worldwide.

At the end of the visit, the guest was presented with two of the Centre’s distinctive publications.

The first titled "Spaces of Light,” showcasing the winning photographs in the "Spaces of Light” photography award, annually organised by the Centre in celebration of the scenic aesthetics and visual culture of the mosque, and another copy of a book titled "Houses of God” about places of worship in the Islamic history.

Source: gulftoday.ae

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https://www.gulftoday.ae/news/2023/05/04/vietnam-vice-president-vo-thi-visits-sheikh-zayed-grand-mosque

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Liberation of Quds most important issue of world of Islam

May 4, 2023,

TEHRAN, May 04 (MNA) – The Iranian president in a meeting with a group of Palestinian Resistance commanders said that Muslims must use all their capacities to achieve the violated rights of Palestine and the freedom of the Holy Quds.

During his official two-day visit to Syria, Ebrahim Raeisi had separate meetings with a group of leaders and commanders of the Islamic Resistance and Palestinian thinkers on Thursday morning, and emphasized, "The issue of Palestine and the freedom of Quds is the most important issue of the World of Islam today, which should not be forgotten."

The President added, "The Islamic Republic always pursues the issue of Palestine as a priority in its foreign policy, and we believe that all the equations of the World of Islam are defined under this issue."

Stating that the enemy has come to the field with all its forces to fight for the rights of the Palestinians, the President said, "Muslims must also use all their capacities to achieve the violated rights of Palestine and the freedom of the Holy Quds."

Referring to the psychological warfare of the domination system for the survival of the Zionist Regime, the Iranian president said, "By launching a combined war, the enemies seek to instil in the Palestinians that your fate and life depend on the existence of the Zionist Regime and that the survival of this regime is unquestionable and must be accepted by Muslims."

The President considered the conclusion of agreements such as Camp David, Sharm el-Sheikh, and Oslo and the proposals that have been made for the normalization of relations with Islamic countries as efforts for the survival of the Zionist Regime and added, "They forced some governments to resume relations with the Zionists, but what happened in action was the Regime's violation of the agreement and continued violation of Palestinians' rights and murder and looting."

Referring to the recent crime committed by the Zionist Regime in the attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque and the killing of fasting worshipers, Raeisi continued, "It reached a point where the supporters of the normalization of relations faced the protests and questions of their own people and realized that there is no other way but to resist and stand against this regime."

Emphasizing that today it has been proven that resistance is the only way to confront Israel and contribute to the advancement of the World of Islam, the President referred to the failure of the American hegemony and the Zionist Regime in the Islamic world and stated, "Today more than ever, the unity and cohesion of the resistance forces, the region, and the Islamic world is necessary to accelerate the defeat of the Zionist Regime and the liberation of the Holy Quds and the sovereignty of the Palestinians over their destiny."

Stating that today the initiative is in the hands of Palestinian warriors in the field, not behind the negotiation tables, Raeisi said, "We consider the collapse of the Zionist Regime, whose effects are visible, to be very close."

On this basis, the President pointed out that the only solution for Palestine is government rule based on the will of the Palestinians, and if the Westerners claim democracy, they should accept the Palestinian people's vote and be committed to its result."

President Raeisi thanked the nation and government of Syria, the resistance leaders and the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank, Lebanon's Hezbollah and Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah for standing up against the Zionist Regime and creating hope in the Islamic world and said, "God willing, we will see the liberation of Quds soon and pray in this holy place."

Source: en.mehrnews.com

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https://en.mehrnews.com/news/200277/Liberation-of-Quds-most-important-issue-of-world-of-Islam

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Africa

 

Libya Christians Face Death Sentence over Conversion from Islam and Proselytization

George Gor | Kabarak U. School of Law, KE

MAY 4, 2023

Libyan activists told The Guardian Wednesday that six Libyan Christians are at risk of being executed for converting from Islam and spreading their religious beliefs.

After being arrested in March by the Libyan Internal Security Agency (ISA), the six were accused of “making people leave Islam” in violation of the Libyan Penal Code. Article 207 of the code prohibits the advocacy of ideas that would “[change] the fundamental principles of the constitution or the fundamental rules of the social structure.”

ISA also detained and later released a US citizen who was involved in Christian activities, according to local media reports.

The ISA posted videos online of the detainees confessing to their conversion and proselytism. One video showed the detained American citizen telling authorities that he and others brought in Bibles with invisible ink, readable only with a special light, to protect the privacy of those reading them.

A lawyer for another one of the detainees told The Guardian his client was tortured into renouncing his faith.

Libya has a small Christian minority, mostly made up of Coptic Orthodox Egyptians who have historical roots in the country. The interim constitution of 2011 guaranteed freedom of religion for non-Muslims, but it was suspended amid Libya’s 2014-2020 civil war.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the Libyan authorities to reform the penal code in April and “redefine criminal acts to exclude peaceful exercise of the right to express opinions, assemble and establish associations.” Hannah Salah, associate Middle East and North Africa director at HRW said “Libyan authorities are crushing civic space using the tired pretext of enforcing regulations…[t]he authorities should instead be protecting that space by upholding the right to freedom of association.”

Source: jurist.org

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https://www.jurist.org/news/2023/05/libya-christians-face-death-sentence-over-conversion-from-islam-and-proselytization/#

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Arabic, Islamic Board Staff Arraigned For Employment Scam In Kaduna

By Undu Joseph

May 5, 2023

ABUJA  – The Kaduna Zonal Command of the Economic and Finan­cial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arraigned one Mustapha Balarabe Dalhatu before Justice A.A Bello of the Kaduna State High Court, Kaduna.

The Commission’s Spokes­person, Wilson Uwujaren in a statement said Bello is arraigned on seven-count charge bordering on obtain­ing by false pretence and em­ployment scam.

The defendant, a staff of National Board for Arabic and Islamic Studies “allegedly collected a sum of N1,000,000 from one Shehu Abdullahi and eight ght others, as part payment to secure employ­ment for them in the Institu­tion.”

But he neither got them the jobs nor refund their money.”

Investigation revealed that the defendant had been on suspension for serial job scams and misconduct.

One of the charges read, “That you, Mustapha Balara­be Dalhatu on or about the 12th of February, 2020 in Kaduna, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of N350,000,00 from one She­hu Abdullahi under the false pretence that you are capable of securing employment for members of his family and friends with the National Board for Arabic and Islamic Studies (NBAIS), a pretence you to be false and you there­by committed an offence con­trary to Section 1(1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act”.

The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to him.

Consequently, the prose­cution counsel, M.Arumemi, urged the court to fix a date for trial to commence. But the defence counsel, I.O Ezenwa moved for the bail of the de­fendant.

Source: independent.ng

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https://independent.ng/arabic-islamic-board-staff-arraigned-for-employment-scam-in-kaduna/

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Sudanese special envoy urges rebels to put down arms

05-05-23

Ethiopia received Thursday an envoy for Sudan’s General Abdel-Fattah Burhan to discuss the ongoing conflict amid reports of continuing violence in Khartoum.

The special envoy said that the Sudanese government would soon put an end to the conflict.

"Shortly the government of Sudan is going to put an end to this rebellion.

I assured them that we are keen for stability the peace in the region. But more importantly, I explained that all authorities, countries, media should distinguish between the legal authority in Sudan and the rebels. These two should not be equated to each other”, said Dafallah Alhaj, Special envoy of Sudan’s General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

Speaking in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, the Sudanese special envoy urged the rebels to to put down arms.

“The other rebellion, I would say, they are still raising up arms, fighting and they didn’t show any consent to heal or to give up. And we have announced more than one time that there is still a chance to pardon whoever is ready to put down arms”, said the Sudanese special envoy.

Violence erupted on April 15, preceded by months of escalating tensions between the military, led by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and a rival paramilitary group called the Rapid Support Forces, or RSF, commanded by Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.

Source: africanews.com

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https://www.africanews.com/2023/05/05/sudanese-special-envoy-urges-rebels-to-put-down-arms/

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No winner' in Sudan war: exiled Darfur rebel leader

05-05-23

Sudanese exiled rebel leader Abdel Wahid Nur -- a veteran of decades of fighting in the troubled Darfur region -- says there can be "no winner" in the war now raging between two rival generals.

"The Sudanese people want neither of them," Nur, now based in neighbouring South Sudan, told AFP. "They want a civilian government."

Battles have flared for weeks between Sudan's army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

"What's happening in Sudan is a disaster," Nur, 55, said in an interview in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, where he lives after spending years in Paris.

"There is no winner in this war," said the leader of a faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) whose members, he said, have not joined the fighting.

The battles have turned Khartoum into a war zone and also killed scores in Darfur, which Nur said once more suffers "war crimes and crimes against humanity".

Nur was a leader of the Darfur rebellion from 2003 when African minority groups rose up against Arab elites they accused of monopolising Sudan's political power and wealth.

The Islamist-backed strongman then in power, Omar al-Bashir, unleashed the notorious Janjaweed militias, the forerunners of the RSF, whose atrocities shocked the world.

The unrest killed at least 300,000 people and displaced 2.5 million, according to the UN. The bloodshed led to international charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes against Bashir and others.

Although Darfur's conflict subsided over the years, the region remains awash with weapons and sporadic violence erupts, often over access to water, land and resources.

- 'Hands of oppression' -

Sudan's military ousted Bashir in April 2019 following mass pro-democracy protests, and Burhan has been the de facto leader since then.

Daglo, from Darfur's pastoralist camel-herding Arab Rizeigat people, rose to prominence with the Janjaweed, which made up the bulk of the RSF formed in 2013.

In October 2021, Burhan and his then number-two Daglo jointly staged another coup that upended the country's fragile transition to civilian rule.

The two generals then engaged in a power struggle, most recently over the RSF's integration into the regular army, which has now flared into bloody violence.

"The two bodies fighting now once acted as Bashir's hands of oppression," said Nur.

"The army and Burhan personally supervised the making of the Janjaweed," he said, adding that his own movement opposes both and only fights "oppression".

Nur described the conflict as the expected outcome of a "political struggle that became militarised".

The current fighting has killed more than 550 people, wounded thousands and sent more than 100,000 fleeing abroad.

In West Darfur state, the UN says, the hostilities "have triggered intercommunal violence", which have seen many deaths and accounts of rampant looting and burning of property.

- Ambition to rule -

Nur's SLM faction refused to sign a 2020 peace deal with Sudan's short-lived transitional government installed following Bashir's ouster.

It charged that the accord, signed by other rebel groups, failed to address the root causes of Sudan's conflicts.

Nur said his movement had however observed "a unilateral ceasefire since Bashir's ouster and have since committed to it" to give a chance to the planned transition to civilian rule.

Nur belongs to the ethnic Fur tribe in Darfur, and analysts believe his faction still maintains considerable support.

A report last year by UN experts said Nur's faction was among Darfuri armed groups "receiving payments and logistical support" in exchange for sending mercenaries to strife-torn Libya.

The UN experts, in 2020, also said Nur's group had strengthened its miliary capability following the discovery of gold in its area.

Nur rejects the allegations and says he does not support either side in the current war, stressing that his fighters play no role in it.

Nur said the conflict reflects the two generals' ambitions to rule Sudan but is only "increasing the suffering" of the people, especially in Darfur.

In a country with a history of military coups, Burhan and Daglo have each touted themselves as champions of democracy seeking to restore the transition to civilian rule.

Nur, recalling the mass youth-led protests that led to Bashir's overthrow, said the Sudanese people reject both of them.

"I don't think they will ever accept military rule," he said.

Source: africanews.com

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https://www.africanews.com/2023/05/04/no-winner-in-sudan-war-exiled-darfur-rebel-leader/

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South Africa police apologises after names of rape victims leaked online

05-05-23

South Africa National Police Commissioner, General Fannie Masemola has issued a public apology to the victims of the Krugersdorp attack where eight women were raped in July 2022.

The apology from the authorities follows the public release of personal information of the eight women that included their names and surnames, age and physical addresses.

The personal information of the victims were disclosed on the police WhatsApp groups, which found its way to social media.

The South Africa Police Service regrets the disclosure of such personal information and apologises to the victims for the information breach and the hardship caused as a result.

Following the incident, General Masemola ordered an internal departmental investigation into the matter.

The final report after conclusion of the investigation found that indeed the personal information of victims was released inappropriately but no ill-intent was found.

Source: africanews.com

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https://www.africanews.com/2023/05/04/south-africa-police-apologises-after-names-of-rape-victims-leaked-online/

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Southeast Asia

 

Singapore PM Lee: ‘Close to 90 per cent’ of Singaporeans involved in terrorism-related activities successfully reintegrated into society after rehab

Wednesday, 03 May 2023

SINGAPORE, May 3 — Of the 140 or so Singaporeans dealt with for terrorism-related activities since 2002, “close to 90 per cent” have made good progress in their rehabilitation and successfully reintegrated into society, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said.

Most of them are gainfully employed, with some running their own businesses. Other younger Singaporeans have resumed their studies.

However, he also said that as the terrorism threat still exists and “continues to morph into new forms”, Singapore cannot afford to let its guard down.

Terror groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis) remain active and influence followers worldwide to mount attacks.

“Singapore is seen as a prize target by terrorist groups and continues to be mentioned in their propaganda,” Lee added.

Previously, the authorities had said that the majority of Singaporeans nabbed for terrorism-related activities were successfully integrated, without giving a figure.

Lee was speaking today (May 3) at the launch of the new Majulah Gallery by the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG). The gallery is located at Khadijah Mosque along Geylang Road.

Formed in 2003, the RRG is made up of a group of volunteer Islamic scholars and teachers in Singapore. The group’s aim is to rehabilitate detained members of terror group Jemaah Islamiah, as well as their families, through counselling. The group also seeks to counter misinterpretations of Islam.

Exhibits on terrorism activities and the work of the Religious Rehabilitation Group showcased at the new Majulah Gallery located in Khadijah Mosque along Geylang Road.

‘Worrying’ number of self-radicalised youth

In his speech at the event, Lee noted that Singapore has picked up a growing number of self-radicalised individuals in recent years.

Since the rise of Isis in 2015, Singapore has dealt with 49 self-radicalised individuals under the Internal Security Act.

This figure is four times more than the number of cases from 2007 to 2014.

Out of the 49 individuals, 37 are Singaporeans.

There was also a “worrying” number of young people among the self-radicalised Singaporeans, Lee said.

“Eleven are aged 20 or younger. Five of the youths even wanted to mount attacks in Singapore.”

Rehabilitation and outreach

To tackle the threat of extremist ideologies in society, the authorities here take up various approaches, including rehabilitation. This is where the RRG makes its contributions.

Lee said that the group works “unremittingly” to rehabilitate terrorism-related detainees by partnering other community groups such as the Inter-Agency Aftercare Group, to encourage and motivate detainees.

“Some RRG volunteers have also become mentors and tutors to the young detainees, providing them with social support and equipping them with useful life skills.”

Besides rehabilitation, the RRG has also stepped up its outreach efforts to sensitise the public to the terrorism threat and strengthen the Muslim community’s resilience against extremist ideas, Lee added.

For example, the group set up the Resource and Counselling Centre in 2014 to educate the public about radical ideology and violent extremism.

It has also widened its reach by raising its online presence during the Covid-19 pandemic. It organised virtual events and put out educational videos and articles to sustain its outreach during the pandemic.

Lastly, the RRG also works with other religious groups to promote better understanding among different faiths and tackle the terrorism threat together, Lee said.

He gave an example of how, two years ago, the Internal Security Department detained a 16-year-old boy who wanted to attack Muslims in Singapore after being radicalised by far-right extremist ideologies.

The RRG shared its experience with the National Council of Churches in Singapore to help rehabilitate the boy, who is a Protestant Christian.

Thanking the group’s members and volunteers for their contributions, Lee said that the RRG has played “an indispensable role” to not just counter extremism in Singapore for the last two decades, but also to promote interfaith bonds in society.

‘Collective vigilance’ the strongest defence

While the Government is making every effort to neutralise the threat of radicalism, such as increasing outreach to counter extremist ideologies, everybody in society also has a role to play, Lee stressed.

“Our strongest defence against terrorism is our collective vigilance. We must stay constantly alert against extremist ideologies.”

Singapore must also strengthen its racial and religious harmony. The country’s diversity makes it susceptible to being exploited by extremism along racial and religious fault lines.

“We must do our utmost to stay united and cohesive across the various racial and religious groups in our society.” — TODAY

Source: malaymail.com

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original

https://www.malaymail.com/news/singapore/2023/05/03/singapore-pm-lee-close-to-90-per-cent-of-singaporeans-involved-in-terrorism-related-activities-successfully-reintegrated-into-society-after-rehab/67534

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Malaysia’s Anwar says in talks to return 1MDB fugitive Jho Low

5 May 2023

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has revealed his country is negotiating with authorities overseas to secure the return of the fugitive financier alleged to have masterminded the multibillion-dollar 1MDB scandal.

Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, faces charges in Malaysia and the United States for allegedly orchestrating the theft of $4.5bn from the Southeast Asian country’s sovereign wealth fund.

Billions of dollars of public funds were allegedly funnelled into luxury property, fine art, Hollywood films and bank accounts linked to former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Anwar said Low’s return was being discussed through “diplomatic channels” and involved multiple countries.

“It involves many countries, it involves intelligence services, Interpol, et cetera,” Anwar told local media, without elaborating on the countries involved or Low’s whereabouts.

The Malaysian leader said the process was difficult but was quoted by the New Straits Times newspaper as saying other countries were “cooperating, staying in touch and providing their support”.

Asked to comment on whether China was involved, Anwar declined to comment, the New Straits Times reported.

Last month, Bradley Hope, an investigative journalist who helped expose the 1MDB corruption scandal, wrote in a blog post that China could repatriate Low in exchange for the Anwar administration allowing more Chinese investment in Malaysia.

Multiple countries including the US, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Singapore, have opened investigations into 1MDB.

Last month, Fugees rapper Prakazrel “Pras” Michel was found guilty by a jury in Washington, DC, of conspiring with Low to illegally influence the US government.

In March, Malaysia’s top court dismissed a bid by Najib to review his corruption conviction after a lower court found him guilty and sentenced him to 12 years in prison.

Source: aljazeera.com

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original

https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2023/5/5/malaysias-anwar-says-in-talks-to-return-1mdb-fugitive-jho-low

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Asyraf Wajdi: Support of 148 MPs for unity government still intact

Friday, 05 May 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, May 5 ― The support of the 148 Members of Parliament (MPs) who signed the cooperation agreement to establish the unity government is intact, said Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki.

The head of the unity government secretariat also denied claims that the government is not strong, saying that discussions or negotiations between all parties are held every week.

“The support from all 148 MPs who signed the unity government MoU (memorandum of understanding) is intact. This is not a one-man show (and) no single party dominates the others. We always have room to communicate.

“It’s normal for some to feel uneasy with our strength. Actually, they are jealous because they did not get to form the government first,” he said at a press conference on the unity government National Convention at Menara Dato Onn here today.

Local media previously reported that Bersatu Supreme Council member Dr Muhammad Faiz Na’aman had hinted at the movement to overthrow the Unity Government when he wrote ‘126’ in a Facebook post.

Meanwhile, Asyraf Wajdi, who is also Umno secretary-general, said negotiations for seat distributions for the six state elections had been very positive despite overlapping claims.

“So far, the cooperation between Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH) seems to be very good. There are overlapping claims because BN used to contest against PH and vice versa.

“However, discussions and negotiations are ongoing and based on the report we received just now, I can say they have been very positive and constructive,” he said.

On February 22, the menteri besar and chief ministers of the six states ― Selangor, Penang, Negeri Sembilan, Kedah, Terengganu and Kelantan ― agreed to consider dissolving their respective state assemblies in the last two weeks of June to make way for the state elections. ― Bernama

Source: malaymail.com

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2023/05/05/asyraf-wajdi-support-of-148-mps-for-unity-government-still-intact/67820

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Woman pleads not guilty to hurting Indonesian maid with iron, hot water in KL

Friday, 05 May 2023

KUALA LUMPUR, May 5 — A female clerk pleaded not guilty at the Magistrate’s Court here today to hurting an Indonesian maid using an iron and hot water since March last year.

Loke Chee Hui, 43, who works with an employment agency, was accused to have committed the offence in a house at Jalan Hujan Emas 3, Taman OUG here between March 3, 2022 and April 23, this year.

She was charged under Section 324 of the Penal Code, which provides for a jail term of up to 10 years or a fine or whipping or any two of the punishment, upon conviction.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Nadia Elena Jamaluddin Akbal did not offer any bail as the offence is a non-bailable offence.

However, lawyer Varghese Onny, representing the accused pleaded for a lower bail on the grounds that the accused is a mother of four, aged between two and 15.

Magistrate Atiqah Mohamed@Mohamad Saim allowed a bail of RM6,000 with one surety and fixed June 6 for mention.

In the Sessions Court, Loke and her husband, Lum Kah Wai, 44, also claimed trial for trafficking the same maid for the purpose of forced labour exploitation at the same time and date.

The charge was framed under Section 12 of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants (ATIPSOM) 2007, which carries a maximum of 15 years of jail and a fine.

Judge Azura Alwi set bail at RM10,000 and one surety for each of them. They were also ordered to surrender their passport to the court and report to the nearest police station every two months until the disposal of the case.

The court fixed June 6 for mention.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Wan Ahmad Hijrah Wan Abdullah prosecuted, while lawyer Varghese represented both the accused. — Bernama

Source: malaymail.com

Please click the following URL to read the full text of the original

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2023/05/05/woman-pleads-not-guilty-to-hurting-indonesian-maid-with-iron-hot-water-in-kl/67805

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